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George Hoffman Performs “Misty” in a Private Recital, Misgav Am, Israel, October 2010

Jordan | Tales Of Hoffman | Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

About a year ago my father revisited the kibbutz where he met my mother in 1962. Much had changed, a lot remained the same – like this barely-surviving piano. According to oft-repeated tales, he performed a much lauded concert for the young workers and citizen soldiers back in the day. Here’s how it sounded last year.

Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


I won’t lie and call this a masterpiece, but it is an extremely enjoyable and brisk read continuing the fun fun fun that is the Vanguard series.

The noble T’Prynn: forever locked in a Katra battle with the devious Stel from a koon-ut-kal-if-fee gone wrong!
The righteous Diego Reyes: on trial for a crime he’s defiantly proud to admit he committed.
The calculating Chel, Ambassador Jetanien, slurping fetid soup and trying to negotiate back channel deals between the Federation, the Klingons, the Tholians and. . .who else?
The enthusiastic Ming Xiong, a young scientist and researcher put in harm’s way to discover the truth behind the mysterious Taurus Reach Genome.

And, etc etc.

It’s a lot of fun, if you can’t tell. Reading Trek fiction with your pals Kirk & Spock (or Picard or whomever) always feels like a little bit of a put-on. The expanded universe stories do it for me. I’ve already got Book 5 in the series. . .but may not jump in right away.

The FP (2011), Trost Bros. A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


Seeing The FP for a second time (and the first time sober) I was somewhat shocked to discover that, hey, there’s actually some smart stuff going on here.

Beyond just giggling at the ridiculous speech (the vernacular is as peculiar as an episode of Deadwood) you can study the frame and see it exploding with creativity. A Civil War leitmotif runs through the entire picture, as do very amusing “faked” old computer graphics and tongue-in-cheek sound cues. It’d be easy to shrug The FP off as a gimmick movie – and, yeah, death by Dance Dance Revolution is campy and weird – but it is really hard to make something like that watchable for more than 15 minutes. The performances, particularly Art Hsu’s and Caitlyn Folley are so good and so funny that they actually don’t just stay funny, if that makes any sense. . . .

Carmel (2010), Amos Gitai, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


If Jean-Luc Godard directed Nostalghia and went easy on the funny (or even the understandable) but threw in some odd music cues and visions of Zealots fighting Romans and a modern kibbutz, it’d be something like this.

Deadwood, Season 2, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


Over 1 week has passed since I concluded Deadwood Season 2 and I am, frankly, still in a state of awe.

I think the thing that really does it for me is this: it isn’t about the story. It isn’t even really about the characters, because I’m not sure how many of them (other than Bullock, Swearengin, Joanie Stubbs and The Widow Garrett) are really growing or evolving. What I find so mesmerizing is the sense of tableaux. Taking these people and putting them in very ephemeral situations within a greater context and watching them buzz about.

The great gimmick, of course, is how any given scene can volley back and forth between base vulgarity and utter beauty in a flash. There will literally be a man wallowing in shit or a drunkard plowing a prostitute, and then an unpredictable right turn into the genteel and emotional will appear without warning.

Unlike, truly, anything I’ve ever seen on television there is a profound theatrical artistry on this show. If I had to sum up what has happened in the first two seasons, well, I could get into the nitty gritty of the soap opera, but, really, nothing has happened other than “slow civic progress.” And that’s why the show is so good.

Mimic (Director’s Cut) (1997/2011), Guillermo Del Toro, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


I never actually saw this before now, so I can’t compare the “director’s cut” to the theatrical one (to hear Mr. Del Toro speak, it is quite different.) I’ll say the first half is quite enjoyable (liked the kids!) then once it becomes “group trapped in a place with a monster attacking” it became less interesting. Also: Mira Sorvino. Kinda….awful, huh? Overall, though, a fun enough way to spend two hours. Charles S. Dutton is very amusing.

The Thing (2011), Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., D+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


Who the hell let this happen?

The Thing, the REAL The Thing, is a horror masterpiece. This is a forgettable 2 hr piece of intellectual property rape you watch on a plane to keep your mind off the fact that the engines could explode at any time.

The first movie had a team of fantastic, un-glamorized actors and memorable characters. This has a group of interchangeable white noise. In the lead, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, cute in a blue wig in Scott Pilgrim (and not quite believable as a Columbia University paleontologist circa 1982 but we’ll let it slide) has all the charisma of a tall glass of warm skim milk.

In this movie’s defense, some of the creature effects are terrific. Not scary (because the movie is predictable in its scares) but very, very cool looking. Until the end when it goes overboard and silly and ought to make audiences laugh.

This movie sucks.

Footnote (2011), Joseph Cedar, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


It’s hard to mix melodrama and farce but somehow this tale of dueling secular Israeli Talmudic scholars pulls it off. One of the best endings to a film I’ve seen all year – and if you like 1960s architecture, well, welcome to Israel.

The Skin I Live In (2011), Pedro Almodovar, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


Here’s yet another Almodovar film that I’m not quite sure if I’m supposed to take seriously.
His movies always start out interesting, then devolve into a bunch of women crying and carrying on. It’s just not 100% for me, though there are a lot of cool things happening somewhere in the mix.
Great interior decorating, though, as always.

The Sound of Insects: Record of a Mummy (2010), Peter Liechti, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


A very interesting experimental (allegedly) true film about a man who committed suicide by solitude and starvation. His mundane journal entries play against natural imagery evoking an overall feeling of decay. Kinda depressing, but not quite as depressing as you may think.

Ben-Hur (1959), William Wyler, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


I hate to be a jerk, but this isn’t quite as good as you remember. The stuff with the galleys is great, and, yes, the chariot race is fantastic. And anything with this much Jesus kitsch or leprosy will always have a place in my heart. But the last 50 minutes or so just lumber on aimlessly. Compare this movie to something like Spartacus, which you can actually take seriously, not just giggle at, and this movie stinks.

But it doesn’t stink. It’s Ben-Hur and it rules! It just isn’t quite the flawless masterpiece some say.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), George Lucas, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


Jar Jar’s the least of this movie’s problems.
Why doesn’t Qui-Gon just go and TAKE the missing parts from Watto? And remove whatever “device” is inside Shmi so she can come to Coruscant with Anakin? And how, how, how could anyone cast Jake Lloyd!??!?!??!

If you embrace this movie as “Saturday morning serials” it really isn’t THAT bad. Watch it in 20 minute spurts – trust me, it kinda works. But, yeah. . .not good.

The Descendants (2011), Alexander Payne, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


Payne, incapable of delivering something that doesn’t work on all sorts of emotional and intellectual levels, continues his streak here. It’s probably his best other than Sideways, and, like that film, manages to sneak in its universal themes in a strange setting. (Swap out wine snobs for Hawaiian real estate.) Reminded me a bit of Broken Flowers, too. It’ll probably get nominated for Best Picture and I have a hunch it’ll be my favorite of the bunch – and no doubt lose.

The Kid With A Bike (2011), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


One of the best 400 Blows ripoffs I’ve seen in a very long time.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), Sean Durkin, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


An extremely well made, very small movie about a woman shaking herself out of a very bad relationship. Nicely shot, good performances (John Hawkes, again, knockin it out of the park) but don’t expect anything “big.”

Real Steel (2011), Shawn Levy, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


I enjoyed the experience of watching this movie, but only because I was mocking it and what it represents.

Relatively Speaking

Jordan | Out & About | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011


When Woody Allen, Ethan Coen, Elaine May and (director) John Turturro team up for a series of one-act plays, you’re damn right I’m gonna try & get my parents to buy me tickets.

Steve Guttenberg, Julie Kavner, Richard Libertini (look him up, you know him, trust me), Mark Linn-Baker, Marlo Thomas, the guy who played Sy Ableman, Danny Hoch and other That Guys appear in this not-quite-memorable night of theater. Woody’s one is the best, but it is just nonstop zing, not much of a real story. About a decade ago I saw a similar event, swapping out Ethan Coen for David Mamet. That one, I think, had a little more going on.

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