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Fight Club (1999), David Fincher, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

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The popularity of Fight Club proves that even uneducated people like to pretend they are smart once in a while.

Okay, that may be a little harsh, but that is, really, the engine that’s pushing this kinda-almost interesting movie.

There certainly are a lot of playful moments, and lots of good work on display (hats off especially to Helena Bonham Carter, who seems to be acting in her own little mannered, slapstick-y comedy off in the background) but, really, I weep for anyone who extracts meaning or, heavens, a philosophy from this preposterous film.

Its biggest flaw (and there are many) is that it paints itself into the corner of needing to be realistic because, eventually, some serious stakes are raised. I bet this problem doesn’t happen in the book, where the silliness can stay hidden on the page. I wonder, maybe, if this was an adaptation that should never have happened.

So, if I hate it so much, why the B-? Well, it is watchable. Edward Norton is a rock solid actor, the look is distinctive and the way it is all stitched together, albeit idiotic, is somewhat dazzling. I’ll probably watch this again in ten years.

The Beaches of Agnes (2009), Agnes Varda, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 28th, 2009

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If you want to be a film diarist but are not French, you may as well give up right now.

Agnes Varda is French (well, Belgian) so when she says things like “I live here, inside my cinema” somehow she can get away with it.

This is a very charming, crafty autobiography that gets a little bit away from itself in some sections (more clever reenactments, less yap about your fabulous friends and kids) – but who the hell am I to tell this vibrant, 81 year old tornado of art and joy what to do!??! Just watch the movie, missteps and all, and enjoy.

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), Robert Florey, C+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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I wish I were one of those people who could get all worked up about the old Universal Horror pictures. But I can’t.

This film is just kinda boring, except for when Bela Lugosi is arguing with an ape over who gets to chew more scenery. The wacky, put-upon roommate is fun, but not in a way the filmmakers intended.

Cinema purists can bite my head off – but I just don’t really dig it.

Endgame, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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It certainly is a controversial ending but, you know, Voyager is a controversial show.

The entire seven year struggle just kinda. . . .ends.

The fact that we were given no coda, no ticker tape parade, is something of a travesty. A thumb in the eye, almost.

Plus, the fact that Admiral Janeway went back in time opens up SOOO many loose ends.

Still, though, when this episode is cooking, and much of it is, it is good.

Voyager is done now. It was the red headed step child of Star Trek at the time. The question now remains. . .will Enterprise be any better?

Renaissance Man, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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The Doctor has to save the day by. . .um, bopping people on the head and hiding them in the morgue while he assumes their identity to try and trade the warp core for a kidnapped Janeway? Or something. It’s a little confusing but, bear with the EMH’s quips and it will soon be over.

Homestead, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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There are Talaxians on that asteroid!

Neelix helps them get their shit together and then. . .stays behind?

I won’t lie, Tuvok’s goodbye had me a little misty.

Natural Law, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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Seven of Nine and Chakotay get stuck with the Na’vi and need to bridge a communication gap to get home. Plus, Tom gets yelled at by a mean old man for flying too fast. Then, Seven takes her hair down and shivers in the cold. Hot.

Friendship One, VOY

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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In what feels like a standard TNG plotline, the gang discovers a society suffering due to an inadvertent misapplication of an outreach probe from Earth’s past. Can Janeway do what is righteous and rescue the crew?

Author, Author, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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In making the EMH the best character on the show, it was only a matter of time before they really just nailed down whether he should be given as many rights as, say, Data had.

There was an “out” with Data – no one knew, precisely, just how he was built. No such out for the EMH and, as such, the whole issue of Holographic rights is rather thorny. If Robert Picardo weren’t so good it would all hardly matter.

Anyhow, Starfleet is smart enough to hedge their bet a bit. Whether he is sentient or not remains to be seen, but he is an “artist.”

Q2, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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On paper it is great. Bring John De Lancie back and this time he has a rascally son that needs discipline.

But it falls flat. Feels like a step back – to Picard and Vash and a hundred years ago. Let Voyager be Voyager.

Human Error, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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Seven of Nine finally starts getting feelings and they are for. . .Chakotay? Ugh. Well, at least we get to see her in a red dress.

This episode could have been terrible, but it managed not to be. The Doctor signing Klingon lullabies is particularly amusing.

Workforce Part II, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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The Workforce two-parter does a nice bit of world-building. It feels like a toe has been dipped into a different science fiction movie. I mean this in the best possible way: it is like some classic Doctor Who.

Workforce Part I, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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A crypto-fascist (but functional) society of civic workers suddenly has some new members: the bulk of our crew!

Tuvok, being Vulcan, starts to wake up and realize they are in some kinda crazy Metropolis dream, meanwhile the Emergency Command Hologram, Chakotay & Harry Kim try to work miracles back on the ship.

The Void, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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The ship gets sucked into a blackened un-zone where bandits are constantly raiding for food and supplies. (I kinda feel like one of the Animated shows did this, but let’s not dwell.)

Can Janeway use her Federation background to create an Alliance to get the good guys free?

A simple episode, but well told & fun.

Prophecy, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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What’s the one thing B’Elanna Torres wants? For people not to make her forthcoming daughter’s one-quarter Klingon-ness into a big deal. So when the Lost Tribe of Qu’onos proclaim her to be the Messiah, all sorts of shenanigans ensue, not limited to the above image of Tom Paris with a Bat’leth.

Repentance, VOY 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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Voyager runs afoul of the Texas justice system!

Capital punishment meets stem cell eugenics in this right-from-2000′s-headlines’ episode.

Even a little switcheroo at the end that shows what a yutz our Talaxian friend can sometimes be doesn’t save this episode from being sub-standard.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), Chuck Jones & Ben Washam, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, December 25th, 2009

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Now, don’t get all crazy on me, but I’d never actually seen this before.

I was never quite into “Christmas Specials.” That was my older sister’s thing. I don’t know if I’ve even seen all of the Peanuts Christmas Special. I know Linus has a big speech about Jesus in it, so maybe there was a particular distraction on my parents’ part (I’ll have to ask them.)

I’ve never even seen the Rankin/Bass Rudolph. I know. I may as well have grown up in the Soviet Union, you are thinking. I just wasn’t into it. (Though I think I’ve seen the Frosty. Or a Frosty, anyway. . . my memory has it as 2D animation. . . need to do some research on that.) The only Christmas special I know I saw was the Yogi Bear one.

While I am confessing, I never saw It’s A Wonderful Life until I was an adult. It’s pretty much garbage. I did, however, watch Miracle on 34th Street quite a bit as a youngster – I still like that film a great deal, though this may be because I am a fan of New York City and the postal system.

Anyway, so I finally watched this. I knew the song already. And, sure, the plot.

There’s some very funny classic Chuck Jones-style animation here. And Max the Dog is fantastic. I felt no inherent nostalgia, though, so I can’t say it moved me in any way.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962), David Lean, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, December 25th, 2009

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Aw-Rence might be one of the darkest and most twisted of the celebrated Hollywood epics. To think that some lump this in with the (in their own way great) films like Ben-Hur.

On a purely aesthetic level, LoA is still unequaled. See it in a theater if your TV isn’t getting this point across.

Politically, I’m not entirely sure if the movie isn’t a stone cold celebration of imperialism. Unlike Pasolini’s Salo, which shocks you into hating sadism, LoA just kinda shrugs it off.

Scholars have written entire books about this film, so I’ll just leave it at this: it’s probably one of the weirdest canonized classic you’ll ever see.

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