The Top 11 Movies of 2007

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, December 30th, 2007

This is a description of the image.

The image you see above represents the “also rans.”

To see my full list, I must whisk you away to UGO.com where you can flame me right there on the page.

Okay, fine, if you just want a thumbnail:
11) There Will Be Blood
10) 1408
9) Once
8) Rescue Dawn
7) Knocked Up
6) No Country For Old Men
5) 300
4) Charlie Wilson’s War
3) 3:10 To Yuma
2) Sunshine
1) The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Sabry’s Seafood

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, December 29th, 2007

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We’ve wanted to hit Sabry’s for over a year. On Steinway, just below Astoria Blvd (right across the street from the Mosque) is an orange restaurant with a big case of fish on ice in the center of the room. Hardly the best use of space, but the hardcore can go in there and select the fish they want to have it grilled or broiled or fried or what-have-you in an Egyptian style. Ann & I went with the Tagines that were pretty frickin’ terrific, as was the shrimp bisque and baba ganouj. Fluffy, buttery pita bread came straight from the oven, the waitstaff was nice, the tea came with fresh mint and cloves and the music was awesome Arab-pop that almost led me to get up and dance. I would recommend not going here when it is crowded – I get the vibe they get easily disorganized; but when mostly empty it is a good bet.

One Of The More Pretentious Art Exhibits You Are Likely To See

Jordan | Out & About,Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, December 29th, 2007

There are a bunch of dead goats and bottles of pills cluttering up the Lever House gallery right now. It is called “School: The Archeology of Lost Desires, Comprehending Infinity, and the Search For Knowledge” care of Mr. Damien Hirst and it is just gross enough to not even be funny.

Starship Mine, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, December 29th, 2007

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The Enterprise empties for a deep, penetrating cleanse – pirate terrorists board to drain power and sell as a bomb! Luckily Picard stepped back aboard to grab his personal saddle (really, an excuse to leave an annoying cocktail party) and he can foil the plan. Down on the planet – Geordi’s visor acts as a make-everybody-but-Data-pass-out machine. Fun chase! Hats off to Picard for a) using a Vulcan nerve pinch! (that mind-meld with Sarek came in handy) and b) generally kicking a whole lot of ass.

The Nagus, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, December 29th, 2007

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I’ve been doing my best to brush off concerns of anti-semitism with the Ferengi. But when, in The Nagus, we see a cabal of business owners reciting the “Ferengi Rules of Acquisition” (not the Protocols of Zion) I finally had to do some google searches. After spending time on stormfront.org and other neo-nazi sites, I found myself a little sick to my stomach. And, yes, most of the people who play Ferengi (which, allegedly, is based on the Arabic word for foreigner, Al-Ferengi or something — remember, I got that tidbit on a White Supremacy site, so who knows?) have last names like Schimerman, Eisenberg etc.

A guest in The Nagus is Wallace Shawn – he is Grand Nagus Zek – the Godfather of the Ferengi Illuminati. PC concerns aside, this is a fabulous and hilarious episode. I love the Ferengi, so I enjoyed learning more about their culture in this one. Lovable Quark winds up as temporary “Nagus” and there is much amusement. Wallace Shawn will be back for more in future episodes. Good stuff.

Move Along Home, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, December 29th, 2007

No Insignia

Congrats, DS9 – you finally made an episode as awful as And The Children Shall Lead. In fact, this may be worse. A race from the Gamma Quadrant is met by some Vulcans so they come to DS9 for a First Contact ceremony. They are led by a big mullett-ed dork who kinda looks like Ricky Jay with makeup. All they want to do is go to Quark’s to play games – and wind up sticking Sisko & Co. down a rabbit hole as Quark has to roll dice for their lives. Not only is the game not explained, but it would appear that things are happening at Quark in real time, while the “players” are hopping around singing songs in a pocket universe or something. Who knows? When the punchline comes – it was just a game – and there was nothing really at stake (not like Odo ever demanded “Bring them back”) I wanted to punch the TV. Memory-Alpha.org states that this is Avery Brooks’ least favorite episode. Thank God for that.

Now is as good a time as ever to state that sometimes Major Kira reminds me of Edith Prickley.

Juggernaut (1974), Richard Lester, C+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, December 27th, 2007

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The Brits do a disaster film. So it is a little more tasteful, but also boring. The sequences where there are actually bombs being diffused are pretty cool, though. Every English actor you ever heard of is in this – including a young and dark haired Ian Holm. A question, though – was Omar Sharif always an awful actor, or did I slowly become one? I rented this because it got a lot of praise from Steven Soderbergh in his book Getting Away With It. That musta been the Soderbergh of The Good German talkin’…

I’m Not There (2007), Todd Haynes, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

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Am I really going to compare I’m Not There to The Passion of the Christ and James Cawley’s New Voyages films? Yes – and I will do it with love.

Before I do, first, hats off to Haynes and co for making the only possible Bob Dylan film – one that doesn’t once mention the name Bob Dylan. I enjoyed watching this film tremendously. But I am a big Dylan fan. In fact, there was a time when I was a little obsessed and, as such, I caught (I think) all the easter eggs in this movie. But I kept wondering about my friend Kerry. Kerry probably knows two facts about Bob Dylan – that we sang “Like A Rolling Stone” and, well, that might be the only fact he knows about him. So I’m Not There will be a gigantic puzzle. Much like The Passion of the Christ offered a tale with no context – the iconography of I’m Not There will mean nothing to those that aren’t already converted.

And speaking of iconography – from a formal point of view, this may be Haynes best work. What a sandbox he has to play in! (And Ed Lachman to shoot it!) The costumes, the hair, the houses and sets – Haynes was no doubt in heaven recreating the scenarios hinted at in documentary footage and on the inner sleeve of record jackets. This is, essentially, fan fiction – much like our friend James Cawley has perfected in upstate New York with his to-the-last-dial reproduction of the original Starship Enterprise. No one isn’t wowed by Cawley’s attention to detail – the stories, on the other hand….

I can’t deny I checked my watch more than once during I’m Not There. That doesn’t mean I didn’t smile when I caught a glimpse of Moondog or Hal Leventhal or Peter Orlovsky or Bob Neuwirth or heard another obscure Dylan line slipped into some dialogue or saw a visual representation of a Dylan character (Richard Gere’s town of wackyness almost all devoted to songs originally released on bootleg!) But about midway through I realized this was going to be all sizzle and no steak. There’s no tight connection to the hearts of the characters here – and maybe that is Haynes overall point. Makes you realize how surprising it is that Naked Lunch can do much of what I’m Not There does AND keep you engrossed in a plot-heavy story.

Birthright Part 2, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

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So Worf’s father did die at Khitomer – but there is a secret Romulan “prison” holding some leftover Klingons from that battle. The defences are down, though, and both sides are living in (gasp!) peace. Cool for the older generation, but what about the youngsters? Worf comes to give everyone a lesson in hate in one of the oddest philosophical statements ever made on TV. Be true to your heritage – even if that makes you a big douche.

Birthright Part 1, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

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Worf learns that perhaps his father did not die at Khitomer, but is living in a Romulan prison. Meanwhile, the Enterprise, which just happens to be docked at Deep Space Nine, allows Dr. Bashir to come aboard to tinker with a gizmo he got in the Gamma Quadrant. After a good zapping, Data unlocks a part of his brain that allows him to dream. But did he “earn it” as Dr. Soong hoped, or is it all the zapping’s fault? Dunno – Data is too busy groovin’ on his own imagination.

30 Rock, Season 1, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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I don’t have enough nice things to say about 30 Rock. Ann and I watched the entire first season in two sittings (albeit with a 2 month gap in between.) I don’t know which character I like the best – Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Tracy Morgan and the dude who plays Kenneth are all top contenders. I can say for sure that my favorite side character isn’t Josh or Dot Com or Grizz or the Beeper Salesman — it has to be Dr. Spaceman. Sometimes I just say Dr. Spaceman and laugh and laugh.

If anyone knows how I can get my hands on the Season 2 epsiodes that already aired before they come to DVD, please let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be humming the theme song.

John Barth – The Sot-Weed Factor

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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For months, literally months, I’ve been slowly making my way through this dense 1960 novel by John Barth. I am pleased it is over. I enjoyed it tremendously, but, much like Gravity’s Rainbow (a book it resembles only in its chutzpah) it was a bit of a chore. At 800 pages of prose written as ye’d be likely to o’erhear a typical wight speakin whilst in his cups, it was very slow going. If you have the patience, though, I strongly recommend it. I can think of no more humorous book about prostitutes, pirates, rape, defecation, sexually transmitted diseased, dildos, “salvage” Indians, rebellious slaves, scheming indentured servants, incest, bestiality, poetry, starvation, prurience, virginity, opium, obscure history about the Province of Maryland, corrupt judges, Protestantism vs Papacy, lunatic plot twists, mistaken identity and more. It is actually based on a real Maryland settler Ebenezer Cooke who wrote a 17th Century satirical verse called The Sot-Weed Factor. (Sot-weed a term for tobacco, a factor being a salesman.) Barth fabricated (slowly, and in florid verse) the inspiration that lead Cooke to pen his poem. This is the second Barth novel I’ve read. I think I enjoyed The Last Voyage of Somebody The Sailor a little more as that was truly sick and twisted – The Sot-Weed Factor and its horrible lewdness described in acceptable, respectible English might be funnier.

The Passenger, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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A prisoner’s body gets on the ship, but really he’s like the undead Jason Bourne and no matter what you do, he’ll achieve his goal of … doing whatever it is he wanted to do. Be a bad guy, basically. I dunno, DS9 had been on a bit of a roll, but this one was flat-out awful.

Tapestry, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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It’s A Wonderful Life on the Enterprise… kinda. Q shows Picard what it would have been like had he not acted like a big fat douche in his younger days and gotten in a fight with the Nausican that would stab him and keep him in need of an artificial heart for the rest of his days. Had Picard not nearly died he would have been – a nobody! A snivelling little junior grade science officier. H-w-hwaaa?

Dax, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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Nothing like a good court martial episode to clear up what the unique characters are about early in a series. Like The Menagerie and Spock in TOS or The Measure of a Man and Data in TNG, Dax tries to explain all those niggling questions we have about Trills and Jadzia (and Curzon) Dax on DS9. Is a joined Trill responsible for what a Symbiote did with a previous host? Jeez, I don’t know. I can go either way on that. Luckily, this is one moral dillema we don’t have to deal with in the real world.

Face of the Enemy, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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Troi awakens to find herself captured by Romulans. Surgically altered to look like one, she must fake her way though strategy sessions until it is discovered that one of Spock’s underground rebels is using her to create an Underground Railroad for Romulan dissidents. This is a sterling episode with sharp writing and lots of tension. Great stuff that even works “on in island” – if you wanted to introduce people to Trek this might be the best example since Mirror, Mirror.

Q-Less, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, December 24th, 2007

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If Q can go anywhere in the Universe, then why not jump from series to series? Picard’s ex-g.f. Vash who left to prance around the Universe with Q gets picked up in the Gamma Quadrant and Q tries to win her back. Vash is, indeed, a very cool character – but why would an all powerful being need to — oh, let’s not even open that door! What’s best is that we start to see Sisko in stark contrast to Picard, here. “Picard would never hit me,” Q says in shock. “I’m not Picard!” Sisko barks back. Avery Brooks may be a bit of a limp actor, but his kick-ass attitude is welcomed after 6 seasons of Mr. Prime Directive.

Aquiel, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, December 24th, 2007

No Insignia

Once in a while there is an episode so bad one wonders why the cast didn’t just refuse to read their lines. This episode feels like it was made by people who had never seen Star Trek before. A lame “mystery” episode in the mode of Magnum P.I. All I know is that Geordi falls in love (again) and there is a killer dog (no, not an alien that looks like a dog – an actual dog!) who morphs into a giant raisin. Disaster. Let’s move on.

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