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Timescape, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

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TNG plays to its strengths and goes for the mindfucker. This one is such a mindfucker the Romulans are good guys!

Did you know that if your subspace bubble is tight enough around your body that when you slip out of phase with the time-space continuum you can get a nitrogen narcosis? It’s just like a scuba diver!

Anyway, this episode is nuts but, I believe, it all actually makes sense….so long as you can conceive of multiple dimensions, super string theory and quantum singularities. It’s just like a scuba diver!

Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962), Agnes Varda, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

How in the world I graduated from film school and never saw this is beyond me. A mash-up of formalism, feminism, existentialism and lots of walking around – this is a film snob’s dream. To describe it as a Godard film done by a slightly less playful Godard is apt.

Eastern Promises (2007), David Cronenberg, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 27th, 2008

As I suspected it might be, Eastern Promises is much better the second time. Not only do you get to watch the whole thing knowing “the twist” (although Ann, hats off to her, guessed it about thirty minutes in, whereas I was full-on surprised in those last ten minutes the first go-round) but there is a lot of subtle stuff that flew right past me the first time. I’m guessing that’s because I was just so taken in by the detail of the world and the performances. But how’s this: maybe Kirill is actually gay and in love with Nikolai? There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to support this.

Also: notice there are slightly distorting uses of short lenses in the close-ups of Naomi Watts, but not so much on the other characters. What’s up with that?

I’m thinkin’ this movie is in the process of being robbed this awards season.

Dramatis Personae, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, January 27th, 2008

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A crazy “mutiny” virus goes around and all the characters start hating each other. All but Odo and Quark, who both kinda hate everyone anyway. Pretty cool.

Second Chances, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, January 27th, 2008

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A lot of people who feel the need to “defend” sci-fi with that old song about being able to look at deep philosophical issues head-on under the safe storytelling umbrella of action could use this episode as exhibit A? To what extent is our personality derived from the sum of our experiences? What aspects of our character is innate in us, regardless of what fate has handed us? Can we still be presently in love with someone from our past?

This is all heavy shit. Luckily, it can all be examined due to a kooky transporter mishap and a duplicated (and marooned) Riker back on the Enterprise and running around in a yellow shirt.

The Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal – Officially My Favorite Spot In New York

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Sunday, January 27th, 2008

The thing that kills me about the Oyster Bar is that it is an functional anachronism. Rows of jam packed luncheon counters, a goodly percentage of the patrons not tourists, or lovesick nostalgic New Yorkers – rather EATERS. And eaters of the weird, slobbery peasant food of yesteryear.

For those of you who feel overwhelmed and have never actually gone inside: don’t let the prices on the posted menu stickershock you away. Go in and order the chowder or the oyster stew or the oyster pan roast (which is basically the oyster stew over whitebread – it is fantastic.) That plus the free rolls is more than enough for lunch. Maybe get one or two oysters a la carte for kicks. Just pick ‘em at random – I always do. I usually go with places I’ve actually been to. Though I’ve heard that the further north up the east coast you go the “brinier” they are. Similarly, west coast oysters are supposed to be “creamier” the further up you go. Whatever – they are just a) snotty, slimy vessels for horseradish and vinegar and b) awesome forkfulls of New York history (and the only thing it is socially acceptable to eat while it is still living!)

Wilber Wants to Kill Himself (2002), Lone Scherfig, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

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I was very fond of Sherfig’s film Italian For Beginners but I just couldn’t stand this movie. I found it incredibly annoying. If I were Scottish I’d be offended, even, as the sole crux of the film seems to be “when Scottish people do it, it’s cute.” It’s all canned – the musty bookshop, the slightly frazzled but still attractive woman with gum in her hair and a frog in her throat. Sigh. If you want to see quirky done awful, rent this piece of garbage.

UPDATE: I got a little nervous for a second – after writing this I checked Rotten Tomatoes and saw an 87% approval rating? Am I missing something? Turns out J. Hoberman joins me in that 13% minority, ending his pan with the line, “As everyone gets to cuddle their inner cutie-pie, Scherfig turns matchmaker, contriving to have her characters pair off before the unconvincing closer.” I feel comfortable in his company.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Nicholas Meyer, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal,The Star Trek Project | Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Hey – wait a minute – I thought the whole point of the Star Trek Project was to watch stuff in the order it happened with “no backsies.” Well – the teaser trailer of the new Trek had me so excited I had a minor slip. Sue me.

Concerning this movie: KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!

Queens, NY

Jordan | E-motions | Sunday, January 20th, 2008

I doubt there’s a day when I don’t smile and think “God bless Queens.”

I can’t imagine another place where you go to the supermarket and, under a display of fresh fruit, there are jars of minced garlic, saran wrapped figs and plastic containers of STP motor oil.

Where else will you call for a cab and a van shows up with a 20 year old dude driving with his girlfriend in the passenger seat and a karaoke DVD blasting ABBA and the Bee Gees at full volume?

Where else can you go to the bagel store and see a Gotti kid is full grey sweat suit (but with his ass still hangin’ out) yelling in to his cell phone online instead of paying his bill? Was this the same knucklehead I overheard the night before yelling into his phone: “I don’t got no beef with those guys? But if I go there and there’s beef….then there’s gonna be beef!”

The Forsaken, DS9 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, January 20th, 2008

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A sentient computer program infects DS9 and causes mishigoss, including Odo and Lwaxana Troi stuck in an elevator together. I’m pretty sure Rene Auberjonois did the same thing as Clayton on Benson with the German cook, but who cares. When Odo reverts to liquid goo in Lwaxana’s dress it is both touching and eerily erotic.

Rightful Heir, TNG 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, January 20th, 2008

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The ressurection of Kahless, divine spiritual leader of Klingon? Or a clone from the Klingon shroud of Turin? Heavy theological debate ensues, involving bat’leth sword fighting. Classic Trek.

Definitely, Maybe (2008), Adam Brooks, C

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Sunday, January 20th, 2008

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Maybe, but not for me.

The Smarts!

Jordan | E-motions | Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Cloverfield (2008), Matt Reeves, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

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The wow factor is very well delivered. But, alas, with each passing moment, it fades like a vapor.

A marvelous monster movie-going experience. A marvelous movie? I don’t wanna harsh my own mellow enough to even go there.

4 (2006), Ilya Khrzhanovsky, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

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There are some movies that know how to do weird. 4 really nails it.

4 doesn’t have a plot, per se, but it does have a lot of themes. Chief among them, I suppose, is the obvious – a double life, or reflection on life. On the surface, we spend some time with three characters who meet in a bar and lie about themselves. Then we see them mope about. One is a frozen meat vendor, one a piano tuner one a prostitute gone off to mourn the loss of her sister who worked on a Werner Herzog-esque farm making garish dolls. (Indeed, the last third of the movie reminded me quite a bit of Even Dwarves Started Small, with drunken old women in lieu of dwarves.)

I don’t know that 4 is the type of film that should be scrutinized or analyzed. I do recommend experiencing it. I enjoyed it a great deal.

The Parson’s Widow (1920), Carl Theodore Dreyer, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Droll enough to stay watchable (silent cinema, I fully admit, can have a soporific effect) and visually quirky enough to keep you engrossed. Story-wise, something of a “whoopsie-daisy” fairy tale. A man can only marry his true love if he is employed as village parson, but in order to become parson he must marry the old crow widow of the previous parson. It is thought that she will soon kick-the-bucket and the kids will be happy, but she does not. Some Scooby Doo-like scenarios ensue.

Saul Bellow’s To Jerusalem and Back – A Personal Account

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, January 13th, 2008

A quick story: Chris Radtke bumps into me as I am ordering lunch at Le Basket. “What are you having?” he asks. “A ham sandwich.” “That’s not kosher. What are you reading?” I hold up To Jerusalem and Back. “But that is.” (Maybe you had to be there.)

There’s nothing I find more fascinating then out-of-date current events. I probably know more politics about the 60s and 70s then I do about today. I don’t know why that is. Anyhow, 70s politics and Israel are both fascinating topics for me. When the Nobel Prize winning Jewish novelist Saul Bellow decided to go to Jerusalem in 1975 he took a lot of notes and then shat out a book. It is partial travelogue, partial dated wonkishness, partial history, partial screed against his enemies, mostly Jean-Paul Sartre. Bellow is, to paraphrase the Great Ed Koch, a Zionist with Sanity.

What I find most interesting about this book (other than Bellows’ writerly description of antiquities) is how similar the issues of 1975 are to today. There is one key factor missing, though: the good ol’ CCCP. It is amazing how much of a factor Marxist-Leninist thought was in the mideast back then. Bellow kinda sees through this (as the closest thing to Marxism you’d've found anywhere in the area was an Israeli kibbutz) but the spectre of Communism looms large and there is very little talk of fundamentalism or Wahabbism or any of that 72 virgins crap. In 2007 the Berlin Wall is down, and the Kabaa is King. Other than that, everything is basically the same.

This is hardly the most scholarly book about Israel. Nor is it the most fun (that will always be Philip Roth’s Operation Shylock, but this is certainly worth your time if you are into this sort of thing.

Zodiac (2007), David Fincher, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Can a movie be absolute fascinating and engaging and still be, like, not a “good” movie? What do I mean by this? I mean Zodiac had me. I loved the pacing, the acting, the cinematograpy, the costumes & props, the music – and yet, I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. I know the “dead end” aspect of the true case is an essential point of this film – but it wasn’t just that. I had little connection to the characters other than surface clues that “they became obssesed.” But Harry Caul in The Conversation became obssessed and you felt it. In Zodiac they became obsessed because the movie told us so.

Or, maybe I just can’t break free of the traditional Hollywood template. Maybe I need closure. Either way, I do recommend Zodiac for people who dig reporter stories or cop procedurals. It is very well crafted. And don’t think I didn’t notice the 70s Paramount logo. (Mark Ruffalo can be my Jake Gittes any time.)

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