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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Comics: Strangeways: Murder Moon 

You don’t see a lot of Westerns in comics anymore, and you see even fewer werewolf stories. Westerns in comics (save Jonah Hex) have largely been relegated to the artier publishing houses, just as it seems the only Westerns that show up on the silver screen anymore are arthouse productions. Werewolves get even less play, I guess because they’re not sexy like vampires and unlike zombies they’re not a threat to civilization on a macro scale.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

In Theaters: Doomsday 

The key to enjoying Doomsday is to understand that it’s a mash-up. There’s some Michael Bay in there, some Fast and the Furious, even some Lord of the Rings. (Really.) But the influence that animates all these component parts is a deep and abiding homage to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. It’s most noticeable, not in the plot itself (Carpenterian though it is), but in its execution. The plotting is pure freewheeling punk rock, the kind of thing you see from Carpenter when he trusts his vision to make The Crazy work. That’s Doomsday: A hilarious, brutal, crazy movie. It’s brilliantly stupid, or maybe stupidly brilliant. It’s Grindhouse without all the winking and nudging. It’s also a blast, and touches on a certain kind of greatness.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Compare and contrast. 

Hillary:

"Given all that we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton, of New York, said Tuesday of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., at a news conference in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She made similar comments earlier in the day in an interview with The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "While we don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives, we do have a choice when it comes to our pastors or our church." (Source.)


Hillary's pastor from her and Bill's time in the White House:

"The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader whom I have heard speak a number of times. He has served for decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society. He has been a vocal critic of the racism, sexism and homophobia which still tarnish the American dream. To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and violence. Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear. Those of us who are white Americans would do well to listen carefully to Dr. Wright rather than to use a few of his quotes to polarize. This is a critical time in America's history as we seek to repent of our racism. No matter which candidates prevail, let us use this time to listen again to one another and not to distort one another's truth." (Source.)


Clinton could not more strongly advertise her stance as a "business as usual" politician if she actually adopted that phrase as her campaign slogan.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

In Theaters: Drillbit Taylor 

Ever wonder what kind of movie the Judd Apatow crew (The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad) would make if they aimed squarely at the 15-year-old set? Me neither. But that is precisely what Drillbit Taylor is: the comedy of Superbad regressed a few years to be slightly more palatable, if no less “real,” to the mid-teen set. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see that magic demographic (teenage boys) targeted explicitly, rather than implicitly. And isn’t it interesting that while Apatow shifts his focus chronologically forward (from relationships to marriage to starting a family), frequent Apatow star and writer of Superbad and Taylor Seth Rogen moves backward?

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On DVD: The Proposition 

The Proposition is a Western set in Australia. Though the only reason you can tell where it’s set is the occasional accent, name-check by character, or the appearance of Aborigines. Beyond those relatively minor distinctions, almost everything else plays out the same; the Aborigines didn’t seem to have a much better lot than black men in the South, and the urge to “civilize at any cost” still strikes the sanctimonious and the greedy. If anything, director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave’s vision of 19th century Australia is every unforgiving art house Western you’ve ever seen—only much more so.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Radio Free Id: On Deals with the Devil 

It seems surreal, but it’s true: IFC and Blockbuster Video have cut a deal. Blockbuster will carry the exclusive rights to rent and then sell IFC Films movies when they hit the home market. Blockbuster gets the first 60 days of release to rent the movie, and in that 60-day period the movies will not be available anywhere else, to rent or buy. After that 60-day period passes, any retailer can then sell the movie—but Blockbuster still retains exclusive rental rights for 3 years after street date. In theory, you will not be able to rent any IFC movie that hits DVD from any place besides Blockbuster until 2011. At the earliest.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

In Theaters: City of Men 

When Midnight (Jonathan Haagensen) wants to head to the beach on a hot day, it’s part parade and part military maneuver. Midnight is a crime lord in one of the many, many dirt-poor favelas (slums) of Rio. The gangs rule the favelas like gods, able to move and kill with impunity. The citizens watch them, admire them, talk about them—and keep their distance. The gangs war regularly, and none of their members walk the streets without at least one gun. The police only show up for bribes or in large tactical squads. Anyone who’s seen producer Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, to which City of Men (adapted from a mini-series) is a companion piece, will know the terrain. It’s a testament to both Meirelles and Men director Paulo Morelli that they can take such potentially grim material and inject it with a sense of vitality and frequent joy.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

DVD: Sunshine 

Early in Sunshine, a scientist on board a ship headed for the sun sits in his cabin, basking in the glow of sunlight. The sun is close enough to make out its shape and the texture of its surface, but not so close that the pure brightness of it overwhelms the senses. The scientist sits in justifiable awe for a moment, and then asks the ship’s computer what percentage of the sun’s full power he’s seeing.

“Two percent,” it tells him. It then tells him that showing just 3.4% of the sun’s power at this range would permanently blind him.

The scientist, caught in something like religious fervor, slips on a pair of sunglasses and asks to be hit with 3.1%. Just for thirty seconds. The white light surrounds him, burns him, cleanses him—as the character more or less says later, the sun’s light and power envelopes him. It’s simply that overwhelming, and the awe transfers to us: It’s one brief glimpse of the sheer power and scale of the universe we inhabit. The scientist can be nothing but humbled. This is Sunshine in its best moments.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Gnarls Barkley, "Run" 

No idea when the album comes out.

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