Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006), Jonathan Demme, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

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I watched this movie all alone and still broke into applause. When the movie was over I putzed around my apartment doing other things then realized there was nothing I could be doing that might be better than watching this movie again.

Neil Young is completely on top of his game right now. His Living With War is fifty-something minutes of pure catharsis. His film Greendale was, if nothing else, a remarkable achievement. And his Prairie Wind show, documented here, is some of the most emotional music I’ve ever heard. Written months after Young’s father’s death and days before going in for brain aneurysm surgery, Prairie Wind is like a country-folk “A La Recherche de Temps Perdu.” And a lot easier to get through.

More than almost any other artist, I go through heavy Neil Young moods. Ann always kinda makes fun of me because when this happens I will listen to ONLY Neil Young. I will usually go first for the heavy Tonights The Night, Ragged Glory, Live Rust-type stuff, but what is so wonderful about Neil is that he has always had toes in two pools. This film, therefore, works in wonderful counterpoint with Year of the Horse, Jim Jarmusch’s lo-fi ode to Crazy Horse.

The Chris Pine Film Festival

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Monday, October 29th, 2007

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Is Chris Pine Kirk-worthy? The jury is out.

Half Nelson (2006), Ryan Fleck, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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I think it largely depends on who you are that’ll determind what you think this movie is ultimately about. I think it is about the nadir of liberalism and “’60s idealism”, 99.9% dead, ready to give its all for one more try as it self-destructs. The performances by young Shakeera Epps and Ryan Gosling are top notch. Who the hell is this Gosling character? I hear his name a bit. He’s worth the attention.

You know, for fifteen minutes I considered being a teacher in the NYC system. It’s true. I even filled out a form and wrote an essay. I did it all online, did no research and probably didn’t copyedit. I figured that if they called me in for a follow-up, that’s when I’d consider it. Well, they called me in for a follow-up but sanity kept me from acting any further.

Anyhow good to see and “indie” film that actually is independent. Shot in 23 days. Pretty damned impressive. One thing that ticked me off was how all these Brooklynites had cars. What’s up with that?

Total Recall (1990), Paul Verhoeven, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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Seventeen years old and still unmatched. A perfect piece of entertainment. A “thinking-man’s” action film; also a balls-out intense thinking film. Verhoeven’s formula: constant motion. When there isn’t insane, intense, shocking violence there is humor, or mind-fuck dialogue. Seeing this film at the time was a revelation. Truly anything could happen – there were no rules. Even little side characters like lab technicians are unpredictable, cussing people out and slapping them across the face. There might be more “holy shit!”s per capita in this film than any other. (Perhaps even the superior Verhoeven masterpiece Starship Troopers.) Total Recall is essential viewing for anyone interested to see just how intense the art of cinema can get and still be unbelievably fun. Question, though: who chews the scenery better, Ronny Cox or Michael Ironside?

Cause and Effect, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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We get into hot and heavy nerd territory here. Trapped in a time-loop that always ends in destruction, the crew must somehow send a message back to themselves using their subconsciousness to break out of the trap. “We should reverse course?” “But what if turning around is what leads us to the problem?” “And what if what I see as red is what you see as blue?” “Far out!” And while I can’t say the ending isn’t a little too tidy, I respect this episode for breaking all boundries and being completely one-of-a-kind. (‘Cause, like, everyone dies forty-seven times.)

The Outcast, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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There are some who say this episode, an obvious metaphor for gay rights, doesn’t go far enough and, in fact, is reactionary. I don’t see it that way. Frankly, I think those who do see it that way lack a fundamental ability for abstract thought. Among the J’naii gender is verboten. A J’naii wants to break free of this and embrace man-loving femininity. While her actions, therefore, seem like ’50s stereotypes, it is all about context. As trojan horse, this is about as good of a pro-tolerance message as you are likely to get out to the general American populace. As an episode, it is pretty good, too. (And Riker gets some action, which is good ’cause Troi just got busy a few episodes ago.)

Ethics, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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I can’t tell you when it happened exactly, but the Spock character on TNG has stopped being Data and is now Worf. He is the most interesting, most conflicted, and, frankly, the one I care most about. I’m not going to lie to you: when the injured Worf facing dangerous experimental surgery asks Deanna Troi to look after young Alexander should he perish, I got a little choked up. Dr. Crusher and the experimental doctor argue about the ethics of medicine — with surprsining, near-BSG like conclusions. Seeing Worf in a nightgown is the real reason to watch this, though.

Power Play, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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Not the most original storyline, but three of the Enterprise’s away team get “possessed” and take hostages in Ten-Forward. Best are the scenes when we see Riker et al trying to come up with schemes. Nice inclusion of side characters like Chief O’Brien, Keiko and Ro Laren. Probably an episode for hardcore fans only.

Conundrum, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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Season 5 is in peak stride now. Another mindscramble — the Enterprise gets zapped by a green light and everyone has total amnesia. Their skills are intact but they have no idea who they are or what they are doing. Worf takes command (with Picard as a needling XO) and Ro Laren and Riker jump in the sack. Awesome. There’s this redshirt that keeps hanging around until it is slowly revealed that he may behind these shenanigans. The Enterprise is almost drawn into another planet’s war as a weapon of mass destruction, but Picard’s innate morality smells something foul. Hot stuff all around.

The Masterpiece Society, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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The puzzles of the Prime Directive reach near Philip K. Dick levels of mindscramble. Is it right to save a society from destruction if their society demands no interferance. Can one grant a citzen asylum from a culture they are unhappy with if that defection means death to those that stay behind? It’s like when Algeria or one of those other loser countries democratically vote to end democratic voting. Makes you just wanna hit warp seven and get the hell out of there. But not Picard! He will do what is right! (Or at least what he thinks is right.) Also: Troi gets it on with some dweeby guy.

Violations, TNG 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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I probably would have liked this episode more if the freaky “memory rape” sequences weren’t shot like flashbacks from Days of Our Lives. Anything that implies that Star Trek is just another television show offends me. Anyhow, the premise, about a race of telepathic beings who can insert themselves into your memories and, like, fuck shit up, is interesting. But the presentation is clumsy.

Danny Roane: First Time Director (2007), Andy Dick, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 25th, 2007

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Here and there, some very funny moments. Andy Dick, though, is best in cameos or supporting roles. 84 minutes of him running around like a douche is about 54 minutes past my limit.

Jesus Camp (2006), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 25th, 2007

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Some very well done sequences, but ultimately this is shooting fish in a barrel. Hardcore leftwing loons can have fun connecting the dots between fast food chains, the war in Iraq, Samuel Alito and keeping kids illiterate by banning Harry Potter. The resut of us can just slap our foreheads as we watch hypocrites mentally abuse children. I’d say this is better than Hell House but not as good as Huie’s Sermon.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Everybody loves Grady & Ewing, but I gave their Boys of Baraka a B, too. It could just be that they make films about topics I am extremely interested and well-versed in and, therefore, when I watch their movies I learn nothing new. Maybe their next subject will be more foreign to me.

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2006), Garry Marshall, F

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 25th, 2007

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I’m not the target market, I know. . .but I still didn’t expect this to be so bad. I can not lie, I didn’t get the whole way through. I needed to watch a few Chris Pine scenes and once I had I ducked out. Last I checked not all pre-teen girls are mentally retarded – so who is out there enjoying this film?

Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007), Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 25th, 2007

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It’s not the next chapter in BSG but it isn’t a pre-quel either. It’s somewhere in between – an ftl jump back to the middle to flesh things out a little. Die-hards won’t know what the hell is going on, but the rest of us will be happy. I could tell you more but then I’d be a spoiler and you’d hate me. Wait for it on Sci-Fi channel in about a month. Or read my full (yet still spoiler-free) review on UGO.

The Serpent’s Egg (1977), Ingmar Bergman, C+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, October 25th, 2007

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Bergman’s Dune. Because it isn’t at all like his other projects and was a for-hire job under Dino De Laurentiis. (In Bergman’s case, while exiled from his homeland on odd tax evasion charges.) David Carradine puts it all out on the line in an Eric Roberts-esque manner; hats off to him. The story wants to be an evocative pre-war Berlin tale mixing Carbaret with Kafka but it comes off more like Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. Not awful, but not too good either. If you didn’t know it was Bergman you’d never guess it.

Minotaur vs. Centaur

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, October 22nd, 2007

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A project many months in the making at UGO.

Who would win in a fight: A Minotaur armed with a Trident, or a Centaur armed with a Crossbow?

I have a very real opinion on this, but before I share, why not watch a video to see what “The Stars” think.

Stars range from George Clooney & Tiger Woods to Pee-Wee Herman & “The Beastmaster.”

Enjoy!

Confession (2005), Jonathan Meyers, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, October 22nd, 2007

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A decent enough lo-budg indie marred by an awful ending and a supporting role by Tom Bosley. Here’s the thing: a lot of independent films feel they have to put some kinda name in a supporting role to make their film more legit. Whether this achieves this goal or acts more as a hindrance will be an eternal debate.

Anyway, why watch a mediocre police procedural set at a Catholic school? Because it stars Chris Pine! Yes, the future Captain Kirk can be seen as a Machiavellian Milo Minderbinder-type guy who accidentally kills somebody and has to frame the nice non-molesting priest.

Ann, on catching some of this movie out of the corner of her eye: “Are you watching an After School Special?”

Maybe I was. . .maybe I was. Still, not horrible (it starts off quite good, actually) and, given the low-budget, I am willing to forgive its many flaws. As for Mr. Pine, I had a revelation: in this film he reminded me of Hayden Christiansen in Shattered Glass. Because of his line delivery, his full lips and the type of snivelling character. But. . .also. . .because of some odd “Star” vehicle prequel thing? Who knows!?!

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