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Jordan | E-motions,The Star Trek Project | Sunday, July 27th, 2008

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Chop Shop (2007), Ramin Bahrani, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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The 400 Blows on the 7 train. A pre-teen boy and his undying hustle are the unstoppable force meeting the unmovable object of reality in this devastating yet somehow not-depressing drama. Running car parts among the rain-clogged streets of the “Iron Triangle,” selling M&Ms on the G train, or once in a while watching a Mets game for free from the subway platform, destiny has handed a childhood to Alejandro without school or parents. He sleeps in the back of a garage with his similarly directionless sister whose tight jeans and ample bust offer her a commercial enterprise she finds difficult not touse to her advantage. Will the dream of saving money to buy an empanada van turn fruitful or just lead to massive disappointment?

Darkman (1990), Sam Raimi, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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Nobody makes movies like Sam Raimi anymore. Including Sam Raimi.

What’s exciting about Darkman (other than seeing Frances McDormand and Liam Neeson have to speak its dialogue) is that it shows how awesome a low-budget movie can be. It’ll force you to think up ways to get the shots you need in innovative ways. Camera placement is key in the early Raimi films; every conceivable angle and swoop are used, making this a real geeky treat. Exhibit A in the case against doing everything with a computer.

Family Nest (1979), Bela Tarr, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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I get it, I get it. Kitchen sink realism. When Mike Leigh does it, at least there’s humor (usually.) If there’s humor here it is lost in translation.

Anyway, if looking for an apartment sounds like your idea of a good time, rent this movie. I think I’m done with Bela Tarr’s early films. If there’s no swooping long takes and evocative music on the soundtrack, I’ll skip it.

Radio Days (1987), Woody Allen, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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Amarcord in Brooklyn – Woody Allen’s nostalgic, near-plotless love letter to his childhood uses the influence of radio programming as a clothesline to hang his stories. Most are about his family, some are about the radio stars themselves. I’ve seen this movie six hundred times (can Woody’s nostalgia for his youth make me nostalgic for my youth?!?) and it keeps getting better. It is smart, funny, warm, wonderfully shot and it has Wallace Shawn in it. The late 60′s/early 70′s may have been Woody at his funniest, and the late 70′s may have been Woody at his hippest – but his string of work in the 80′s, I feel, is Woody at his best.

The Adversary, DS9 3

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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A newly promoted Sisko hops in the Defiant to scope out what may or may not be activity on the Tzenkethi border. But, ruh-roh, turns out there’s a Founder on board and he’s set the ship on a one-way mission to start a war! With the Federation and Tzenkethi duking it out, it’ll be that much easier for the Jem’hadar to overtake the Alpha Quadrant.

Luckily, they all saw Kurt Russell in The Thing and are able to suss the guy out.

But are they too late to prevent a different war?????

Facets, DS9 3

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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Facets brings up some very interesting theories about existence. If a person is just a collection of his memories, what will become of us if we find a way to store and then interact with these memories. Poul Anderson touched upon this in his novel Harvest of Stars, but it really gets nailed here in the Trill ritual of Zhian’tara.

The former hosts of the Dax symbiont “leave” Jadzia and are temporarily hosted elsewhere (the rest of the cast) so she can shmooze and get to know the pieces of her psyche. But when they are in the other hosts – are they *alive*? Seems that way, as Curzon really digs being with Odo and doesn’t want to go back. If this is indeed the case, why don’t previous hosts demand a Zhian’tara weekly? Why do they not bring reports from beyond the grave? It’s heavy shit, man.

In addition to that, Nog’s side story about preparing for Starfleet Academy is fun.

Shakaar, DS9 3

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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Trouble on Bajor as Kai Winn steps in to become leader of the provisional government. A dispute about farm equipment becomes a full-blown Tom Wolfe-ian catastrophe as Kira is sent down to try and persuade her former resistance cell leader to roll over. Then the double crosses begin and Bajor is on the brink of civil war. Expanded Universe character Lenaris Holem makes a brief appearance as the Underground and the Military join forces to do what’s right: unite for a strong Bajor!

Learning Curve, VOY 1

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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I like that Voyager is powered by bio-gel packs. It was mentioned in the pilot and I dug it then and I dig it now – even if I don’t really know what the hell it means. But it is cool that the “power supply” can get sick (as the twist shows in this episode.) I also like that they are taking time to show that not all Maquis are quick to wuss out like Uncle Tomahawk Chakotay. Some will push back a little and Tuvok will have to crack the whip.

And yet – this episode is annoying. Am I allowing anti-Voyager rhetoric to color my impression of this series? I hope not, as there is a long way to go. Anyway, we conclude Season 1 – it can only get better.

Jurgen vs. The Fanboys

Jordan | E-motions | Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Although I disagree with his take completely, it is remarkable to see mouth-breathing genre film fans try and match wits with Dr. Jurgen Fauth, a man who dared to dislike The Dark Knight. You can read over 100 comments from people calling him gay and dumb and, my favorite, a hat-wearing Brooklynite.

I’ve known the joys of disagreeing with Jurgen for years, so I’m glad to see that others are getting their chance. Will his probably five star review of “Clone Wars” garner the same effect?

Dig the CTA

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Holy holy holy holy shit

Elegy (2008), Isabel Coixet, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, July 10th, 2008

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I am a tremendous fan of Philip Roth’s The Dying Animal and this film does a couple of very smart things.  For one, it changes the name.  And changes the lead character a great deal.  Many of the details and backstory are gone.  And he’s an Englishman in the States, not the classic NYC Jew.  This is all good as it wasn’t a few minutes in that I stopped comparing the movie to the book.

And what this movie is all about, frankly, is a love affair.  Is it a good love?  A bad love?  This movie thinks there is no such thing.  It is certainly a cinematic love, with lots of classical piano, slo-motion city walking and well-shot scenes on the beach. 

I can’t tell you specifically what I liked about this bleak picture – but maybe after a summer of action heroes I needed some slowing down.

The Dark Knight (2008), Christopher Nolan, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, July 7th, 2008

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Hollywood finally went and gave an art film director (remember Memento?) an unlimited budget – and that guy didn’t go and fuck it up.

I liked Batman Begins; I LOVE The Dark Knight.

There are only the tiniest trace elements of fantasy (a cape, a cowl, some make believe technology) but the rest of this movie is pure realism. There is more in common with The French Connection than Fantastic Four. This is a dark, tense police procedural about a city gripped by terror. The performances – particularly Gary Oldman and Heath Ledger – are absolutely fantastic. The location photography is unstoppable (90% Chicago, 10% movie magic is the formula, I’m guessing.) And the music is insane (Hans Zimmer – Lord of the One Note.)

I’ve given high marks to the other comic book movies this summer – The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man specifically – but you go in to those movies expecting something and that’s what you get. The Dark Knight doesn’t need your foolish formula. It may sound weird saying this about the world’s most famous comic book – but this isn’t a comic book movie. Not as we know it.

Philip Roth – My Life As A Man

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Monday, July 7th, 2008

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Roth’s mid-seventies spit in the eye to his dead wife. This is an uncomfortable book when you learn how much of this is taken directly from Roth’s own life – (that dude is gross) – but it is funny. And very well written.

The book itself is basically the same story told sixteen different ways: this bitch tricked me into marrying her then wouldn’t give me a divorce and made me miserable but thank God she got in a car accident and died. By page five you have the basic plot points, the remaining 350 are a never ending vortex of specifics, points of view, repetitions….it is almost like some sort of Eastern religious exercise.

Anyone looking for material to charge Philip Roth with hatred of women or at least a “serious problem” with women can start right here. Not one woman in this book is anything other than a castrating bitch or a dimwit. Why read such stuff? Well, like I say, it is funny. And the specifics are fascinating – mid-60s coeds and Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side and Wesleyan and Princeton and so forth. And it is interesting – just how a good writer can get you to sympathize, heck, empathize with finally caving in and beating your wife. (“Beating a woman,” as Roth’s narrates, “that’s almost as bad as beating a child.” I’d say lumping in women as equals to children is pretty bad, too.)

I feel a little scummy recommending this book – but yet I do.

The Princess Bride (1987), Rob Reiner, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, July 7th, 2008

Ann had never seen it. Can you believe that?

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008), Russell Mulcahy, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, July 7th, 2008

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“With this sword, my power is complete!” So speaks Randy Couture, in an acting debut to rival Brando’s in Streetcar. I watched this with a 101 fever and it was absolutely fan-fucking-tastic.

The Host (2006), Bong Joon-ho, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, July 7th, 2008

A little long, but good. The acting is really good, the characters seem real. I particularly liked the archer sister. I was a little bugged that at times I couldn’t tell if I should be treating this movie seriously or as a farce. Maybe that’s a translation problem. I think Ann liked this more than I did.

Star Trek The Manga: Shinsei/Shinsei

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, July 7th, 2008

I have an uneasy relationship with anime and manga. It goes like this. I expose myself to some of it, I have no interest in it, I feel guilty for dismissing an entire art form. I figured if anything would get me into manga it would be Trek. Sorry, no sale. Like everything else I’ve seen, it is infantile and baffling, filled with wide-eyed furries and tentacled monsters that make beams of light shine from your chest and expose your aura of the everlasting or some such nonsense. Plus it is in black and white. Manga is weird.

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