Blaze of Glory, DS9 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, January 31st, 2009

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Michael Eddington is called up from prison to stop cloaked Maquis missiles from attacking Cardassia Prime and forcing the Dominion to attack the Federation. He reluctantly aids Sisko in tracking the missiles down from their launch base, which turns out to be the final Maquis hideaway. There are no missiles, but the remaining Maquis need to be rescued from the Jem’Hadar. Eddington dies.

An episode of ambiguities. With a wacky side-story including Martok and Nog (see above.)

Displaced, VOY 3

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, January 31st, 2009

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Call me crazy, but I liked this episode. A simple adventure tale with lots and lots of action. Phaser ablaze as “confused” aliens start showing up on Voyager, replacing members of the crew. In time, we discover it is a plot to overtake the ship. Next thing you know, everyone is running around the ice planet of Hoth. Good stuff.

I Love You, Man (2009), John Hamburg, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, January 31st, 2009

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Not a movie about something that has “bro-mantic” elements – a movie about finding and acquiring a Bromance! A how-to mandate.

Seems a little cooked up in a producer’s office, sure, but there’s some genuinely clever ideas tossed around in this mish-mosh of semen and Lou Ferrigno jokes.

Anything that has the music of Rush as a central plot point can’t be all bad, but I question if John Hamburg has the chops to sculpt the improv arts of Paul Rudd and co. Some of what ends up on screen is a lot less funny than the people making this film thought it was. (You can’t force a catch phrase!)

Still, I’ll be damned if I didn’t laugh and have a smile on my puss as I walked out of the theater.

Pink Flamingos (1972), John Waters, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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Miss Edie: Babs, where do eggs come from?
Babs Johnson: From little chickens, Mama. They lay them, and we eat them.
Miss Edie: But suppose someday there weren’t any chickens. Would that mean there wouldn’t be any eggs?
Babs Johnson: Oh, I don’t think you have to worry about that, Mama.
Miss Edie: But… but is it true, Babs? lf there weren’t any chickens, there wouldn’t be any eggs? Is that true?
Babs Johnson: I suppose so, Mama… but there will always be chickens. You can be sure of that.
Miss Edie: But suppose someday it happens. Suppose someday there weren’t any chickens. Oh, Babs, what could I possibly do? And then the eggman wouldn’t have… he wouldn’t have a job. It might happen, Babs. What could I do?
Babs Johnson: Now, Mama, that’s just egg paranoia. I think you’re being very silly. There will always be chickens. Why, there are so many chickens now… that we can eat some and let some of them live… in order to supply us with eggs. Chickens are plentiful, Mama. The world will never be without chickens. You can be sure of that.
Miss Edie: Oh, Babs… IT COULD HAPPEN! IT COULD HAPPEN!

Star Trek The Manga: Kakan ni Shinkou

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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The second of the three (soon to be four) Trek manga collections might be a little better than the first, but that doesn’t mean it is all good.

One of the better stories is actually written by Wil Wheaton – lots of action as a landing party runs afoul of two warring societies. Another decent story has Kirk & co. on trial for some such reason and joining forces, kinda, with a Klingon. Also – some cool continuity in addressing Uhura’s post-Nomad mindsweep reeducation. I always wanted to know more about that. Noted Trek author Diane Duane has the longest entry – a rambling mess of a story that features someone who looks an awful lot like Wonder Woman.

In all, a decent thing to read on the train ’cause it’ll easily fit in your coat pocket.

The 13th Warrior (1999), John McTiernan, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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It’s nice to say nice things, so let me say the cinematography on display is quite fantastic.

From what I’ve gleaned, Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead is an innovative reinterpretation of Beowulf. I get the sense they scratched that book over a cheese grater and the resultant shavings are the movie we have here. Antonio Banderas’ heavy Spanish accent makes him an unconvincing Arab nobleman, but that is the least of our worries. None of the characters have any meat to them and, while some of the battle/chase scenes are gruesome and cool, I’m left realizing how successful Zemeckis’ Beowulf was by comparison.

Mirage (1965), Edward Dmytryk, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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Any movie that starts out this fantastic has one direction to go: down.

And down it goes, much like the noted “peace scientist” from the top of a modern glass and steel skyscraper downtown. A blackout follows, both in the building and in the psyche of Gregory Peck – setting off a series of confusing events, pitting Mirage against Charade as best Hitchcock movie not directed by Hitchcock.

And dig this:
Jack Weston plays one heavy. George Kennedy plays the other. Walter Matthau the wisecracking private detective (watch this performance and tell me Bill Murray didn’t crib from this in Ghostbusters) and Quincy Jones writes the score. Lots of great NYC location photography, too.

Alas – the story gets straight-up retarded by the third act. It’s charming and all how badly psychology was misunderstood in movies of the 50s and 60s, but it always makes for bad endings.

Children of Time, DS9 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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This one’s something of an Ethics 101. Bear with me here:

In one timeline, the Defiant is sent back 200 years and stranded on a planet. The survivors create a civilization that thrives and has 8000 happy members by the time we catch up with it. Today’s Defiant (us) can continue with their lives (and, in the case of Kira, not die) but in doing that they snuff out the other timeline, essentially “killing” the 8000.

So – is birth control a sin? Cause that’s, kinda, the heart of the argument. Only in this episode there are moppety kids and noble farmers and respectful Klingons. What to do?

Distant Origin, VOY 3

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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For a show that seems terrified to try new things, Voyager goes for broke on this one. Telling the story from the guest aliens’ POV, with Janeway’s crew as its quarry. Also, lots of great tag-backs to previous episodes.

I dig this episode, and feel bad for the Voth scientist who must go all Galileo and renounce his findings – but this time the good of others are at stake.

The discovery, though, a little odd. A reptile civilization grew on Earth and established warp drive….before the fall of the dinosaurs?? And the fossils are all, uh, hidden in rock? Seems like a loose end needs some tying there.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008), Marina Zenovich, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, January 26th, 2009

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Roman Polanski’s life has been filled with such tragedy and drama it sounds fake. And his movies are fucking fantastic. Surely a documentary about his life, particularly his statutory rape scandal, would be fascinating.

Not so.

If you want to watch lawyers gripe about the minutiae of a twenty-five year old case, finally a film for you.

Oh – and dude’s a goddamned pervert. I don’t care if you are from Europe or if your parents were gassed at Auschwitz or the love of your life and unborn son were slain in a cult killing. 44 year old men should keep it in their pants around 13 year olds.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Danny Boyle, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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I grumbled and groaned and then finally saw Juno last year and Little Miss Sunshine the year before. And when it was over I finally had to admit, yeah yeah, those movies were a little overrated, but I can see what the fuss is about. Slumdog Millionaire, I’m proud to say, is two hours of junk.

Tonally, it is all over the place. Is this a gritty Pixote-esque look at third world poverty? Or is it a magical realist fable? That’s the vibe you get from the gimmick of the story (and what the book is probably like) but it doesn’t come off that way. What we do get is a lot of flashy cinematography and musical montages from Danny Boyle. This works like gangbusters in Sunshine and Trainspotting, but basically ruins any emotion in this film. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’s closing credits score meant to usher in a triumphant montage, unironically? I don’t think I can get aboard this train.

And it is also really offensive to women. Is this gal just a prize, like the 20 million rupees? Is she just a five year old with a beautiful smile, or is she the abused mistress of a mafia kingpen? (And what was up with that whole mafia side-story? Was I supposed to know what was going on there? Or care?) All I know is that the woman’s story probably would have been a lot more interesting than seeing the clever way we can work Benjamin Franklin into the plot.

And what of our lead character? Yeah, we root for him to win because we like a winner, but he is just a blank slate who is chasing after an idealized woman (who, once rescued with the newfound game show money, is going to need a lot of therapy) for fairy-tale reasons instead of living anything resembling a real life. Boyle would rather not worry about that and instead crank up the Bengal-infused techno and show off his color saturated, under-cranked cityscapes.

If this movie just came and went I’d probably just say “not for me.” But since it will probably win the Academy Award, I will now lead a charge against its awfulness the likes of which you haven’t seen since I got all cranky against Crash.

(The scenes at the Taj Mahal were cool – but, again, in terms of tone, a jigsaw puzzle with the rest of the movie. Feh.)

Soldiers of the Empire, DS9 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

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“I am Worf, Son of Mogh. I now take my place as First Officer. I serve the Captain, but I stand for the Crew. It is clear to me that none of you are worthy of my blood or my life, but I will still stand for you. And together we will restore to the ship, and bring glory to the Empire.”

LeVar Burton directs a Ronald D. Moore script about life aboard a Bird of Prey. Sorry, I just passed out from excitement.

The blood of Kahless flows mightily through this episode. Q’aplaH!

Made in U.S.A. (1966), Jean-Luc Godard, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

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Droll, playful and colorful, but with such a fractured narrative that, at around the forty minute mark, there’s just nothing left to hold on to. Interest is kept for individual scenes (and fabulous outfits) but the rambling speeches about forthcoming primary elections for the fractured French left, while they certainly have their charm, are a drag. A.O. Scott nailed it when he called Made in U.S.A. a great B-side. Keith Uhlich’s review is definitely on the wavelength.

Batman: Faces – Matt Wagner

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Monday, January 19th, 2009

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Two-Face leads a band of deformed abnormalities against Gotham. Batman is there to stop him. Story-wise, I’ll admit, it is weak, but the drawings are pretty outta-sight on this one.

Pattern Recognition – William Gibson

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Monday, January 19th, 2009

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I don’t think Gibson would be offended if I said that Pattern Recognition was an incredibly dated book. It is the essence of 2002. Post 9/11 but pre-Iraq, laptops and WiFi but no YouTube. Definitely no YouTube. If YouTube existed, the entire premise of the MacGuffin would be shot. It is incredible to think that one website can kill the central plot point of a novel….and yet, for this novel, it makes perfect sense.

The book is equal parts techno-thriller and social realism. A “cool hunter” flying first class from London to Tokyo and talking on satellite phones, making astute observations along the way. I could also describe this as Pynchon-lite, or maybe just Pynchon where I get all the references. The basic elements are paranoia, branding and labeling, and the human need to find connection in random-seeming events. And little chestnuts like these (which someone was kind enough to put up on wikipedia):

“The future is there … looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become. And from where they are, the past behind us will look nothing at all like the past we imagine behind us now. … I only know that the one constant in history is change: The past changes. Our version of the past will interest the future about the extent we’re interested in whatever past the Victorians believed in. It simply won’t seem very relevant.”

CSNY: Deja Vu (2008), Bernard Shakey, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, January 19th, 2009

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I love CSNY and I think Neil Young’s Living With War CD affects me more than Picasso’s Guernica as an artist’s response to war. But this movie is a bit of a dog.

It feels like a big “EPK” for anyone looking to do a piece on the last CSNY tour.

And, while I am kicking people when they are down, Graham Nash is a total douche. I remember him being an egotistical moron on the Stern show 15 years ago and he’s only gotten worse. He still sings well, though. The music in this film, when you can find it, is great. I’d love to see these guys live again.

The Counterfeiters (2007), Stefan Ruzowitsky, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, January 19th, 2009

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A very good and certainly very entertaining film. I think, though, that it relies a bit too much on all the other concentration camp movies you’ve seen for its weight. For such a horrible story, there is very little horror on display. I’m not saying everything needs to be black and horrible like The Grey Zone or The Pianist, but it takes a very deft hand to do the “light touch.” Enemies: A Love Story and Sophie’s Choice both pull this off, but they are both after-the-camp stories. I dunno, maybe I am overthinking. It’s a pretty fascinating yarn and a movie worth watching.

Real Life, VOY 3

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, January 19th, 2009

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The Doctor, in an effort to better understand his charges, creates a family for himself. B’Ellana feels the need to go in and make it “real” by killing off a cute little girl. WTF? Anyway, kind’ve a dopey episode (the B-Story involves some space gas, as per usual) but Robert Picardo’s acting chops make this worthwhile. Dude’s actually a genius of the craft.

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