Kara’s Dad, Robert, along with her brother-in-law Ty, made a biographical documentary last year about the late illusionist Jerry Andrus. It’s a really, really good movie, unimpeded by the title Andrus: The Man, the Mind & the Magic. In particular, I found the breakdown of some of his optical illusions fascinating, and the close-up magic he demonstrates is unbelievable; one of the most interesting things about Andrus was that he used both to provoke skepticism and critical thinking from his audience, rather than to cultivate an aura of mystique.

If you’re in Oregon, you can watch an hour-long cut of the movie at 10 pm tonight on OPB’s Oregon Lens. I recommend that you do!

The Brothers Bloom

I loved Brick so much that I wish I had more and better things to say about Rian Johnson’s follow-up movie. There were some beautiful shots and some very good gags, and it actually earned a little pathos by the end. But the cleverness was worn way too obviously, there was a surplus of voice-over, all the Double Shyamalans got old, I never stopped believing that Mark Ruffalo was Mark Ruffalo, and there were some distinctly Orientalist aspects to Bang Bang that made me uncomfortable.

On the other hand, I think it passes the Bechdel Test–Rinko Kikuchi and Rachel Weisz are actually the best parts of the movie. And the Brick cameos tickled me. And the movie at least had the sense to joke about its own very overt, very LOOK-HE’S-WEARING-A-WHITE-SUIT symbolism.

I don’t know! It was okay. I’d see it if I were you, and I hope Johnson’s next movie is just a little less ambitious, and meaner.

In which I pick on a universally-beloved mute cancer survivor

This essay presents me with problems, because I agree with its hypothesis, but not its premises or its conclusion, so, er.

I’ve said before that snarky writing is weak writing, after which a conversation with Holly led me to reduce my stance to “snarky writing is comorbid with weak writing.” Ebert and I concur on this. He goes on to state that blogs devoted to pure snark are dumb, and that gasping about the “gayest Oscars ever” because Hugh Jackman sat in Frank Langella’s lap is equally dumb; this is also true.

Then he defends Joaquin Phoenix’s current performance art spectacle as an “accomplishment,” and as “committing himself as an actor.” Sorry, Roger, but acting isn’t art in and of itself, and acting like a bewildered person with nothing to say, without letting other people in on the joke, is no achievement at all. (I have similar problems with Andy Kaufman, but at least he brought a Duchamp-like duplicity to the exercise.)

More essential to his argument is his assertion that the snarkers should leave! Oscar! Alone! Sorry again, but a critic of all people should understand that you don’t get to just declare that it’s not for you. Joaquin Phoenix and the self-righteous pomp of the Oscars deserve no better than snark, because they’re functioning on the same level. Scrape away the ornamentation, and there’s nothing worthwhile underneath.

But that doesn’t mean that snarkery is a noble satirical endeavor. Sumana (via John Hodgman) provides a better argument than Ebert: snark is just “meh” without the benefit of brevity.

Three things make a roundup

Anyone? Anyone?

The other day I ripped off a 2007 Lyttle Lytton winner and wrote Rooney, a vision of the latter days of a movie which I always thought held sinister undertones. After I posted it, I realized that the premise really could probably stand further explanation, and I was not wrong! First Peter wrote Cameron Frye, and then William followed up with Rooney again:

Rooney is on the run.

It had started as a careful stroll by the river to dump the rifle: then a quiet ride home to find some people in ‘Save Ferris’ shirts quietly breaking into his house as he pulled up.

But Rooney was nothing if not prepared. Six months later and they’re still looking for the ‘Man who killed Chicago’. Meanwhile, Rooney’s shaved his moustache, pays in cash, and has a California Driver’s License that proclaims him to be

“Edward Rooney?”

He turns, halfway to his car, to find Sloane Peterson with a ‘Save Ferris’ lapel pin. And a gun.

Sometimes I really am tempted to turn on WordPress comments on Anacrusis, but come on, the LJ community is already so much fun!

Shorter-than-the-Title Reviews: First in a Series

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

God damn ball licker David fucking Koepp.

Want to feel old? Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace came out just over ten nine fucking years ago.

Update 2130 hrs: And I still can’t fucking count.

Uh, wait, really? Okay.

Because you enjoyed Throne of Blood, Firefly and Helvetica, we think you'll enjoy Connections 1.

I have a feeling Netflix has slotted me into a recommendation demographic called “pretentious middlebrow taste.” I added the thingy anyway.

Iron Man: Recommended

But with the caveat that it really isn’t subversive at all. I mean, I shouldn’t have expected it to be, but it is a story about an arms dealer who undergoes a radical change in personality. I was hoping for an equally radical challenge to the idea that peace must be achieved by superiority in arms; instead I got a story about how you should blow up weapons, but only the ones that belong to bad guys–preferably while the bad guys are standing on them–with your newer, shinier weapon.

Plus it was lathered in all the typical American movie race issues. White hero, white love interest, brown mentor/sage, brown sidekick, good brown person dies nobly, bad brown people die en masse, hero is only actually challenged by white villain: check! Sigh. Um, and the love interest and her rival were literally the only women with speaking parts in the movie. Except for some strippers?

I kind of like it less after writing all that, but it really was fun. Jon Favreau managed to give himself a twenty-minute cameo.

The intent of this post is not actually to lionize Baz Luhrmann in any way

Subject:  A personal letter from Baz Luhrmann.  Warning:  You may not know this sender.  Mark as Safe | Mark as Unsafe

Oh, I know Baz Luhrmann, all right.

Ain’t nobody marking that motherfucker safe.

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