Promised Movie Reviews, best to worst:
The Life Aquatic: A fine, quirky, but decidedly minor movie. I don't share many people's high regard for Wes Anderson, but this was quite worth watching. Two codeine-soaked medical recuperations ago (early 2004, rotator cuff repair) I rented "Lost in Translation." I guess being laid up on dope produces some sort of visceral need for Bill Murray's late-period deadpan. But "Translation" was not the movie to watch while you're face to face with evidence of your body's inexorable decline into middle-aged uselessness. Bit too close to the bone.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Why did they take such care to surgically remove all the, you know, jokes? Aren't they rather the point? It's exactly what I predicted would happen. Douglas Adams was an amazingly gifted comic writer with an obsessive's ear for rhythm: Anything resembling carefully balanced verbal humor was simply removed by (I'm sure) writing committees who "polished" the script into complete inanity. That's not what I come to Douglas Adams for. (Found another gem the other night while suffering through the horrors of Colonoscopy Prep: "The Vogons are not above a little graft in the same way that the ocean is not above the clouds." That is why I love Douglas Adams' writing.)
Donnie Darko: I quit three-quarters of the way through. I'm not a fan of science fiction at all -- it's the sort of thing you outgrow in your teens, like Prog Rock or Ayn Rand. Adults who are still impressed with the sort of gee-whiz, what-if thinking that produces a science-fiction plot like Donnie Darko's... Well. We're not going to grow old together. Tangent Universes... Manipulated Dead... Ah, to be sixteen and enjoying my first bong-hit again. While I'm mildly embarrassed to say I share a planet with the writers of Roberta Sparrow's "Philosophy of Time Travel," I'm utterly mortified to admit I belong to the same species as Drew Barrymore.
I Heart Huckabees: Yack-yack-yack-YACK-YACK-YACK-yackety-yackety-yack. Yackety-yackety-yack nihilism. Yack-yack Theravadin Buddhism. Oh, look, they're fucking in a mud puddle -- and not even enjoying it much. Yack-yack Existentialism? Yack-yack Nietzsche! Yack-yack Bell's Theorem, Niels Bohr quantum mechanics, yack Heisenberg, yack Wittgenstein. This thing keeps telling you it's a comedy -- people knock each other over in elevators and punch each other in the face with balloons, so it must be a comedy -- but it's as unfunny as a church drama club reenacting Cheech & Chong routines.
Completely Out of Left Field Dept.:
Have also been reading John Powers' Sore Winners, a survey of the cultural landscape of the Bush Years by LA Weekly's media critic, who is also a film critic at Vogue. He put his finger on something I've been trying to formulate for some time:
Since the fall of Communism and the rise of centrist Democrats, even the faith in action [among the Left] has largely disappeared. The remnant of the Left is largely defined by patterns of consumption -- which magazines we read and which movies we see -- or by newfangled ideas of organizing -- such as Howard Dean's Internet-grassroots campaign. What passes for the serious Left isn't a set of shared ideas or values attached to a living social movement. It's an audience brought together by big-name freelance "radicals" -- [Michael] Moore, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Arianna Huffington, Jim Hightower, and showbiz figures like Susan Sarandon or Martin Sheen. What these folks have in common isn't a vision of the world -- it's fame.This bothers me. Doesn't it bother you? Discuss among yourselves. In your discussions, please consider this month's Theme Statement: Blogging provides a comfortable illusion of activism. In fact, it is no such thing.