30 January 2008

I'm guessing that the other bloggers and blog readers are experiencing an environment similar to the one I'm in - it seems like people all around me are extremely psyched for the Feb. 5 primaries. For the most part, my contemporaries are supporting Obama - but "supporting" isn't quite the right word. With the best candidates, it's more like falling in love. You hinge on their every word, can't wait to see their name or their picture again, and you would go to the ends of the earth for them. I'm sure some poet somewhere has written about love being the most powerful force in the world, and I think that's probably true (though attack ads might give love a run for its money).

Of course, Obama has a long way to go, and I give him even money to win the nomination. It'll be interesting to see how the, er, ardor of his supporters plays out in a general election. I don't see too many swooning volunteers on the Republican side of the ticket - outside of New Hampshire, I think most McCain supporters have chosen him as the "least bad" option. Ditto for Mitt Romney (and no one else matters anymore).

26 January 2008

A while back, I had an idea for a movie with roles written specifically for Michael Caine, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, and Jon Voight, which I would pitch based solely on the premise that these guys will take any part that is offered to them. For the evidence, see On Deadly Ground, Body of Evidence, Balls of Fury, BloodRayne, and, uh, Giuliani '08. Could a Cuba Gooding, Jr. endorsement be far behind?

22 January 2008

When he was twenty-six, Jack Nicholson's best movie role had been in Roger Corman's The Raven. Robert De Niro had starred in one movie, a goofy satire called Greetings, and Mean Streets was still four years away. Dustin Hoffman had appeared in a couple of forgotten television shows. Al Pacino had no screen credits at all.

When he was twenty-six, Heath Ledger played Ennis in Brokeback Mountain.

This is a major loss.
Well, I wasn't expecting Zodiac, my favorite movie from last year, to get any nominations, and it didn't. That aside, my vote for the biggest omission is the lack of a music nomination for There Will Be Blood. At least a third of that movie's power comes from Jonny Greenwood's remarkable score. As Noah pointed out, a greater percentage of the film's impact would be retained if there were music and no dialogue, than if there were dialogue and no music...
There's a lot to digest with today's Oscar nominations, but I'm happiest about the fact that Once got a nomination for Best Original Song. I'll be very sad if there isn't a telecast. I want to see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova sing "Falling Slowly" in front of a billion viewers. If they lose their chance because of the writer's strike, it will be a shame. Even a tragedy. Is the Writer's Guild listening to this?

20 January 2008

First review of mystery hunt: Lots of Saturday puzzles, not very many Wednesday puzzles.

My favorite puzzle was either "Picture Puzzle" or the "political" black book meta.

Congratulations to the Bombers, and I'm glad they managed to finish it, because the hunt defeated us and we wouldn't have finished it even with another day. Thanks to the writing team for all the effort they put into writing and testsolving (the latter particular impresses me as the puzzles were really hard, but nonetheless seemed to have all been testsolved). I'm sure I'll have more to say later.

17 January 2008

I have a feeling that this is going to be a great year. Today I was hearing good news from friends from all over, and then I saw this.
I vowed that I wasn't going to post any more parody trailers from YouTube, but the 1966 and 1989 versions of The Dark Knight trailer are too good to pass up. For the full effect, you should watch the real trailer first, assuming that you haven't watched it twenty times already (Joker voice) "like me!"

14 January 2008

I absolutely love the domain name for this fan and discussion site for There Will Be Blood: idrinkyourmilkshake.com. The sound file that plays when you open the page is worth a visit by itself.

13 January 2008

Is the NY Times copy editing staff in need of some help, or do I just not know what the colloquialism "jump the snark" means?

12 January 2008

Upon closer examination, it appears that the name Mutt is embroidered on Shia LaBeouf's leather jacket on the Vanity Fair cover, which doesn't bode well for my pet theory about the new Indiana Jones movie. Well, maybe there's a twist ending. (This guy wrote a draft of the screenplay, after all...)

11 January 2008

By the way, the last scene of There Will Be Blood makes a lot more sense when you look beyond the film's obvious debts to Huston and Ford to its true patron saint. From start to finish, There Will Be Blood plays more like a missing Kubrick film than anything else, and the ending manages to simultaneously evoke A Clockwork Orange, the first scene of Lolita, and much of The Shining, as if the Overlook Hotel had suddenly sprouted a bowling alley. I was cured, all right...

10 January 2008

For a long time, I was worried that Paul Thomas Anderson, the director I had once acclaimed (in public, no less) as the most extravagantly talented young filmmaker of his generation, had taken his eye off the ball. No more worries. His latest movie opens with a mingled nod to Kubrick and John Ford, and was evidently shot with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre playing continuously in the background. More than anything else, it's an attempt to outdo Gangs of New York and The Aviator in a single movie. And it succeeds. This is the high point, to date, of a career that can only get better.

It's clear to me that Anderson is one of the few directors under forty—Alfonso Cuaron may be another—who understands the scope of the game involved, and is truly interested in challenging the gods. There Will Be Blood is a great movie—possibly one of the best of the decade, although it's a bit too early to be sure. For me, the ending is what puts it over the top. For a lot of other people, it will be what sinks it. And yet the last scene impresses me as necessary and perfect. I like my films to end abruptly, with a full stop, and this huge, incredibly weird and complex movie concludes with a curtain line and a cut to black. In my eyes, it's a home run. Or, more precisely, a strike.
My theory about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, by the way, is that Shia LaBeouf isn't playing Indy's son at all—he's playing a younger version of Indy himself. This is vaguely supported by the fact that his character's name has not yet been officially revealed, as well as by hints from Vanity Fair and this site. Are we looking at extended flashback scenes? Time travel? The fountain of youth? Not sure—although I have a hunch that the story will involve Indy coming face to face with his younger self. And I'm willing to bet that there will be a fifth and sixth installment, and that LaBeouf will take over the role of the man in the fedora. (Of course, the Wikipedia page for the movie contradicts all of the above, suggesting that LaBeouf is playing a motorcycle-riding greaser. But what does Wikipedia know?)
The latest issue of Vanity Fair has a decent article about the new Indiana Jones movie. Not a lot of new material here, but it's worth clicking through, if only for the picture of Cate Blanchett, who plays the picture's Russian villain. If I were fifteen years younger, I would have taped this picture to the inside of my locker. If I were twelve and British, who knows?

09 January 2008

Since I'm going to see There Will Be Blood on Thursday, maybe it's time for a quick movie update. I thought that Atonement was a masterful job of adapting an unadaptable book, even if the ending seemed arbitrary when transferred to film. (The novel is astoundingly good, by the way, and makes me want to read everything Ian McEwan has written.) Juno had four-star performances in a three-star story, but it has held up well in my memory. (And I've always been a fan of that Sonic Youth cover of "Superstar.") And Beowulf had a surprisingly good screenplay, although its ultimate legacy will undoubtedly be in the erotic memories of a lot of twelve-year-old boys. As Roger Ebert writes, in reference to the movie's PG-13 rating in the United States and 12A rating in England: "If I were 13, Angelina Jolie would be plenty nude enough for me in this movie, animated or not. If I were 12 and British, who knows?"
I've spent most of the morning watching the special features on the new Twin Peaks box set, which is an uncanny experience—like discovering a whole country of my inner life that I hadn't explored in years. It isn't going too far to say that this television show, along with the other films of David Lynch and the music of Angelo Badalamenti, had a greater impact on my formative years, at least on a subconscious level, than any other body of work. There are other artists who have influenced me more deeply, but none whose work has penetrated my dreams to the same degree.

I'm not sure if this is something that a casual viewer can appreciate today. (Maybe you had to be ten years old when Laura Palmer was killed.) There's no denying that the series itself often fell short of its own promise. But if you have the time, I recommend that you watch the first season of Twin Peaks, especially the pilot, and the first, seventh, ninth, and final episodes of the second season. As time goes on, I realize that Twin Peaks wasn't just a television show: it was the lens through which I used to see much of the world. And maybe it still is.

08 January 2008

Also, unless we have a sentimental attachment to sickly green, I recommend that we change the background color of this blog. How about a nice blue iris?
I'm glad that someone (Dave?) finally got around to updating the layout of this blog, an overhaul that was several years overdue. However, I also wonder whether we should update the blog's description as well. Our musings are no longer daily, none of us are gainfully employed, and I think it's safe to say that we've all managed fairly well in the absence of our female classmates. (It seems that the number of blog postings in any given year is inversely correlated to how many of the authors have girlfriends, as a glance at the archives will reveal.) Any thoughts on what the new description should be?

07 January 2008

I know you're thinking this must be something extraordinary if Noah's posting. And it is, Malia and my first published crossword appears in tomorrow's New York Times. Hope you all enjoy! Also if you buy a copy and do it on paper please cut it out and sign it and send it to us as we'd love to see it!