Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cool! They included Mystik Spiral!

Incidentally, I do love this list from Wikipedia, but it doesn't include my favorite fictional music group name of all time: Blind Drunk (from the Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

LEGO Placeholder

OK, I got sick of the freaky Torgo-looking dude staring out at me every time I went to my blog, so let's look at something much more pleasant:

Anybody who's interested in this guy's other virtual LEGO work can view it here, here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"He has left this world, but he is with us always."

Mrs. Mosley and I just got back from an impromptu trip to Weeki Wachee Springs yesterday. I came away with two observations: First, in the "Little Mermaid" show they put on, the evil queen dressed like a Rastafarian with a penchant for neon. The result was like a female George Clinton ... only goofier.

The other observation came during the preshow. Apparently, some UK rock group called Supergrass came to Weeki Wachee to shoot a video that featured a few of the women who have played and currently play mermaids in the shows. It was a cool, acoustic guitar driven tune, but I have to say that the lead singer bears an uncanny resemblance to Torgo of MST3K fame.

The lead singer is the second one from the left. In the video, he wears a hat just like Torgo's in Manos: The Hands of Fate.

Thankfully for all of us who watched the video, the lead singer's knees were quite normal.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Never got past "C" in the hardware dictionary, I guess

A minor home repair required me to grab a couple of dowels at Lowe's, recently. The second employee I came across was nice and helpful and guided me easily to where they were. The following is the exchange with the first employee:
(Short, older man is about to move one of those rolling ladders that reaches the high shelves)

Alonzo: (kindly) "Excuse me."

(The old man turns his head and glares at me, but doesn't say a word)

Alonzo: "Could you tell me where the dowel rods are?"

(His face screws up in complete bafflement, as if I just asked him for Pi to fifty decimal places)

Old man: (shaking his head in bewilderment) "I have no idea ... What do they do again?"

Alonzo: (brief pause) "Uh, dowels ... they're wooden dowels."

Old man: "Ehh ..." (a bit of a groan, as if this question is making his head hurt) "Go down to the Millers on the other end ... all the way to the other end of the store ... They got wooden stakes down there."

Alonzo: "Uh ... Thank you."
I may know very little about construction and house repair and such, but I think I've known what a friggin dowel is since I was six. If ever I get to the point where I'm still working in a Library and am unable to correctly identify an index or a glossary, then please, please roll me the hell out of there on a gurney as soon as possible.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

We need some better Strategery

A couple of months ago, Rolling Stone did a front page story subtly titled "The Worst President in History". As you can probably guess, they weren't talking about James Polk.

It's a great read, but there was one portion of it I found interesting:

"Lincoln sought and received Congressional authorization for his suspension of habeas corpus in 1863. Nor did Lincoln act under the amorphous cover of a "war on terror" -- a war against a tactic, not a specific nation or political entity, which could last as long as any president deems the tactic a threat to national security."
As much criticism as I have read about the Bush presidency since 9/11, I had yet to see the "War on Terror" put in these terms.

Comedian David Cross once said, "You cannot win a War on Terrorism. It's like having a war on jealousy", and that comes close to the real futility of it all, but not quite. However, the description in Rolling Stone really hits it on the head, because that is the essence of what we're talking about: A war on a tactic. In this spirit, I suggest some other wars for Bush to wage in case the "War on Terror" goes South on him (you know, as opposed to, like, now):

The War on the Blitzkrieg
The War on Discussing-Work-For-Thirty-Seconds-And-Calling-It-A-Business-Lunch
The War on Bait-And-Switch Advertising
The War on Trying-To-Reason-With-Bullies (Never worked anyway, did it?)
The War on the No-Huddle Offense
The War on Having-Your-Friend-Phone-You-To-Get-You-Out-Of-A-Bad-Date
The War on the Rhythm Method
The War on Good Cop/Bad Cop Interrogations (First Battle: The entire Law & Order franchise)
The War on the Kasparov Defense
The War on Waiting-Two-Days-Before-Calling-A-Girl-After-Getting-Their-Number (Industry Standard)
The War on Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A

It's all so very, very silly. And even Bush, in a rare moment of clarity, has commented on the War on Terror saying, "I don't think you can win it". Too bad that clarity didn't last.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's enough to make a grown movie fan weep

I was going through a huge list of links to film archive websites last night for La-La Land and I came across one to the "Afghan Film Archive". It's currently a solitary page with this picture and description:

Remains of Afghan Film archive in Kabul. The Taliban burned the archive before fleeing the city. Almost the entire archive is gone, except for a few originals saved by Afghan Film employees who stashed them behind a false wall.

Bloody hell.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

JFF 2006: Animated Shorts

Although it certainly wasn't my intention going into this thing, all of the shows I attended, save for "Lost in Space", took place in the San Marco Theater. This trend was to break on Sunday when I planned to see The Architect at the Ritz. But, in the end, I decided to see the animated shorts program because it's far less likely that I would ever have a chance to see these again on home video. (I also found out later that The Architect showing was canceled, so there you go). Here is the rundown of animated shorts:

The Flooded Playground starts things off with a heavy dose of surrealism. Stop-motion animation of an actual baby doll represent a toddler as he falls from his house into a enchanted forest with talking rocks, an evil spider and Humpty Dumpty. There's no dialogue, save for a brief song sung by a tree, and the whole tone is very odd. Still, it was enjoyable enough for what it was.

John & Michael is a touching film about two men with Downs Syndrome who share a close friendship. The narration is done by a third man, also with Downs, and the animation is all is swirly shades of brown. It's a very unique look, and it's somehow appropriate for the subject matter. This one ties with Los ABC's as my favorite.

Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot actually won "Best Short" at JFF this year, and I can see why. It's crowd-pleasing comedy about a poor girl whose left foot attracts items that bite, stab, crush and otherwise mutilate it. Fumi eventually figures out a way to turn her bad luck into other people's good luck. Very over the top, but also very funny.

Octave is an abstract piece where each note in an octave forms the beginning of a word which inspires a short animated segment. "Be (flat)" actually involves the animation of a bra, though the abstract nature of the animation leaves it unclear if they are advocating flat chestedness. Diverting.

George Washington is a weird rap about the first President concerning his super powers, blood thirstiness, sexual prowess and his indifference to British children. There was a lot of talk about this one beforehand, and I can see why. It's the kind of thing that MTV would show on Liquid Television back in the day, so it was a nice treat.

Guide Dog is some good old fashioned Bill Plympton. This time, a poor pooch who wants to help blind people applies at an agency to become a guide dog. Unfortunately for the trio of handicapped people he is assigned to, he's not very good at it. It's Plympton, so little explanation is necessary for anyone who's seen his work before. It's always great and always hilarious.

Los ABC's Que Vivian Los Muertos may be the best of the bunch for sheer chutzpah. The concept: Imagine if Edward Gorey was Mexican and did the Gashlycrumb Tinies as a political piece against war. Indeed, Gorey is thanked in the credits, so he's clearly the inspiration for these animated Mariachi players singing the alphabet and recounting war atrocities with each letter. Utterly brilliant.

And that's it. I have to admit that last year seemed better than this year, but I'm thinking that's because I saw more films last year. As I said previously, it was good to see how professional the introductory credits for the festival were done before each show. It's a sign that the Festival is really growing up.

The JFF website has a link to a Film Threat article which decries how friggin huge the Sundance film festival has become. It goes on to say, "If you've been on this site more than five minutes, you can't help but recognize names of festivals like the Jacksonville Film Festival, Slamdance and so on. These are festivals run by people who love films for people who share their interests."

Wow. Cowford was just mentioned in the same breath as Slamdance. We've come a long way, baby.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Holding Pattern

My Sunday coverage of JFF and the weekend wrapup is still being written.

In the meantime, go listen to Principle Firebush.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

JFF 2006: "Lost in Space" and Interkosmos

My Saturday for JFF started with me as both viewer and participant.

I was asked by a coworker at the Main Library to be a judge for the "Lost in Space" short film competition. This contest, which is in it's fourth year now, is actually being counted as an official part of the JFF this year. Needless to say, this got us a lot more exposure than previous years and resulted in a very large turnout. Myself and two other judges watched a total of five shorts and chose the best three. Third and Second place went to "Invasion" and "The Princess vs. The Robot", respectively. Both were very cute, funny and well done.

First prize, however, went to a short called "Better in Here". I have to be honest, I didn't expect this high a quality in the entries when I first volunteered for this thing. Furthermore, when the chief filmmaker was asked for comments before his short was shown, all he said was, "Uh, we shot this on Tuesday".

The basic plot was about a quartet of post-apocalyptic survivors using some mental projection experiments to visit other worlds. It was shot in B&W and had no real special effects. It all rested on some set decoration, a few props, the actors and the dialogue. All four of these elements were superior. The speech was clear and natural. The timing of the actors was perfect. The camerawork was inventive. Costumes looked good. I honestly have no gripes about the film at all.

I know only a few people tune into this blog, but if any of the fellow Jacksonville natives who made this thing are reading this right now, allow me to restate my feelings: Outstanding work, folks.

Following on the theme of space equipment that looks patched together with bailing wire, we arrive at my only other film for today. Interkosmos is an odd film, and as with all the others I've watched so far, I did some reading up on it before going in. The following description comes from the review in Variety:
A delightfully tongue-in-cheek homage to a fictional East German space project, Jim Finn's "Interkosmos" uses recreated newsreels combined with musical interludes to resurrect the '70s in all its Brezhnev-era glory. Similar in its mockumentary approach to "First People on the Moon" but with a broader sense of wry fun, pic uncannily captures the self-glorifying hyperbole and straight-faced seriousness of the Communist bloc's attempts to make a splash in the race to space. Adventurous fest auds will best appreciate this genuine crowd-pleaser.
Now, maybe I read it wrong, but from this description and others I have read, I though going into this film that it would be a comedy.

This is not the case.

To be sure, what Jim Finn has created here is a technical marvel. His recreated footage of space capsules, East German countryside, Communist architecture and all the rest were all done within the vicinity of his home in Chicago on a minimum budget. In terms of this, the film is an accomplishment.

But it could have been much, much more. I'm not talking about a laugh-every-minute comedy. Hell, I would have settled for a laugh-every-ten-minutes comedy. And I'm not talking about the general goofiness of other mock documentaries such as Best in Show. In the end, the footage that is presented is all too real, from all the looong static shots of indiscernible nothing and looooooong stretches of subtitled German involving indecipherable technical speech.

What the film could have been was more charming. I know, I know. Films mimicking Communist propaganda aren't supposed to be charming, but bear with me here as I delve into a tangent.

About a month ago I rewatched a Woody Allen film called Zelig. For those who have never seen it, it's basically a faux-documentary about a man in the 1920's and 1930's who is said to have been as famous as Charles Lindbergh at the time but is today mostly forgotten. We see tons of old footage of Zelig and the sensation he created. Some of this is created out of whole cloth, other parts have Allen as Zelig inserted into footage, Forest Gump-style. There are also modern day interviews with experts on Zelig. The whole thing is tied together by a British-accented narrator recounting all the details.

Unlike some other films that I remember fondly from childhood and have rewatched, this one did not turn out to be a disappointment. Though Allen does some typical verbal and sight gags, I would not call Zelig a laugh-every-minute film, either. But I would most definitely call it charming. This not only comes from the painstakingly recreated footage which looks utterly convincing most of the time, but also the sweet love story that forms between Leonard Zelig and Dr. Eudora Fletcher.

Interkosmos is also supposed to contain a love story, in this case between two of the cosmonauts, but it is barely touched upon. It could have been the key to drawing the audience in to involve themselves with these characters, but not enough is done with them. By the time the tragic ending comes for these Stalin-worshipping lovebirds, we could really care less.

And there is so much more needing further work. One sequence involves the audio of two capsules discussing the "Trolley Song" while we view what appears to be a shot of curvature of one of the planets. This could have been vastly improved if they had cut several shots of space footage together to break up the visual monotony. It would have been a very simple thing, and it would at all have broken the illusion that we are watching real footage. Another scene shows a "Stress test" for a cosmonaut in training. There have been plenty of "Astronaut training" gags over the years, from The Right Stuff to Armageddon, but what we get here instead is a woman sitting next to the trainee reciting random numbers for what seems like two straight minutes.

I could go on with more examples, but I'll refrain from doing so. I'm sure if any fans of Interkosmos were to ever come across this review, they would judge me extremely unfair to compare it with a film like Zelig. "Apples and Oranges", they would say. But an old friend of mine would often thrash a film to pieces not because it was bad, but because it had the potential to be better than it was. That's where I'm coming from, here.

And with that, I'm off.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

JFF 2006: Puzzlehead and the Shorts Program

Ah, Friday with the JFF. It's always the most satisfying day of the festival because, well, I would normally be at work at this time.

So I started the morning by leaving at 9am and hitting Panera for coffee and Chamblin's for a book to read during the down times between films. The day is friggin gorgeous, with clear blue skies and a slight cool breeze. This makes standing in line tolerable, though I later realize standing in line at all was pointless, since the theater only fills to half capacity. I guess it's just me and the work-dodging few today.

More "Lost and Found Video Night" clips for the preshow, though no volume number is listed this time around. Since I'm now attending a daytime show with a title that isn't an expletive, I see a lot of older people checking out the eclectic offerings of the festival. One has to wonder what they think of all this weird hodgepodge on the screen, and it makes me long for my childhood and that one theater in town which projected magnified oil drops that turned the screen into a multicolor lava lamp.

One more note before the feature: I like the introductory film that names the sponsors of the JFF this year. It's professionally done and entertaining, unlike last years B&W Bergman feverdream.

And now on to our show.

Puzzlehead mines some very familiar territory for Science Fiction: What does it mean to be human. Yet, after Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell and tons of Data/Odo/Seven of Nine Star Trek episodes, there are brave filmmakers willing and eager to venture once more into the breach, dear friends. This story owes far more to Frankenstein than any other modern tale, as we witness a made genius in the near future create a mechanical double of himself and the ramifications of that act.

The three main characters are played by two actors. Stephen Galaida plays the scientist Walter and also his creation, Puzzlehead. At first, the two are differentiated by the beard that only Walter wears. Later, he shaves this off for a specific purpose, and things start to get far more complicated from there. Robbie Shapiro plays Julia, a shopkeeper across the street from Walter's home for whom he's yearned for over many years.

This is a low budget affair that makes good use of minimal locations and props. The trickiest bits, where we see the mechanical parts of Puzzlehead, are handled very well and are very convincing. Also, I must give my congratulations to first time director James Bai and editor Miranda Devin for, if nothing else, the logistical nightmare of staging so many scenes between two characters played by one man. The beard looks real enough, so I'm guessing the early scenes between bearded Walter and Puzzlehead had shots that were filmed weeks apart. Bravo.

The tone of the film is very somber. Little detail is given for the state of this future, but it has apparently emptied the city street sufficiently and upped the crime rate to boot. Given some of the camera shots and scenery, it feels like you're watching some Eastern European or Russian film; a fact assisted by the on-again off-again accent that Shapiro uses for Julia.

All of this somberness, however, is no match for Galaida himself. I can see what they were trying to do when Walter portrays only a teaspoon more worth of emotions than the automaton he's created. Walter is the typical introverted technogeek with no social skills and isn't even brave enough to help the girl he yearns for when she's being attacked in her own store. The point here is that, even though he used his own brain as a base pattern for Puzzlehead so that he would act more human, Walter is barely more than a robot himself, which confuses things between the two later on.

I think, though, he's a little too wooden in crucial scenes, such as his interactions with Julia once she moves into the house. The movie is staid enough without nearly every line spoken in a monotone as if he's under hypnosis. Puzzlehead, who does a voice-over narration throughout, speaks of the bad traits he inherited from his maker. It would have been nice to see those traits earlier on and in a more convincing manner. One thing that he did have going for him, though, was the fact that he sounded and sometimes looked just like Stephen King. That does a lot for a film when you're trying to build dread.

I'm recommending this movie, but only to those sci-fi fans who can't get enough of this kind of film. It's a well told story that deserves some recognition.

At 5pm, the San Marco presented a program of shorts for our viewing pleasure. Thankfully, it was preceded not by weird TV randomness but instead, of all things, by an old episode of Tom Snyder's late night talk show. This led me to two conclusions: (1) I miss Tom Snyder and (2) I miss Dan Aykroyd's impression of Tom Snyder.

Here's my brief reviews for each short:

The Bridge is a British film starring Irish singer Andrea Corr as a psychologist who dials a wrong number and ends up reaching an old man about to commit suicide. This one is gorgeous to look at with rich cinematography, though the pacing is a little slow with long pauses. Things pick up in the second half when a plot twist occurs, but the ending still seems a bit ... off. Incidentally, the end credits reveal that the film was sponsored by Nissan, which would explain the close up of their logo on Corr's car when she is driving.

Nevel is the Devil starts with some footage of office drones in lab coats testing some products. We finally settle in to an office where a man and a woman have been called in by their loony boss to explain some things, and comedy ensues. Very low budget and very off kilter, but with good performances and a great game of freeze tag.

Shortstop is about two women who have both been treated badly by the same man, and how they commiserate and fight about it in the cab of a truck. The photography and sound definitely left a lot to be desired on this one, which when combined with the accents made the dialogue indecipherable at times. Still, the two women were very good and the story was interesting.

Losing Lusk comes off more as a trailer than a short film. Amidst a techno track and audio samplings from a narrators monologue, we witness sharply edited footage of both Lusk, Wyoming and New York City, New York. The resulting mix is very engrossing and makes one yearn for it to be longer and fleshed out. I have to wonder if the director thought this might be enough for someone to help him fund a feature film along the same lines (Hell, it worked for Sling Blade and Boogie Nights). Very good.

Coney Island 1945 is a super short film of artist Isaiah Zagar and a brief memory of his childhood. I would have loved for this to last much longer as it ended just when it was getting good. Take that as a compliment.

K-7 is an inspired comic piece about some poor programmer who goes in for a job interview only to be told that his psychological test proves that he has the mind of a killer. Oh, and the company he just applied to is a front for the CIA. Lot's of brilliant verbal and physical comedy in this one and all the players do excellent work. Hilarious.

A Short Film is, well, I'll keep the review as short as the film itself: Eh ... What?

Finally, Viva Morrissey is a real life look at a Hispanic population in Southern California and their utter devotion to the British band The Smiths and their front man, Morrissey. We listen to comments by a Smiths cover band on why they love this music so much and how this particular cultural enclave has taken to it. Very interesting, and I'd imagine it would be doubly so for Smiths fans.

That's it, goodnight, I'm outta here!

Friday, May 19, 2006

JFF 2006: Fuck

First off, some notes on the lead-up to the film.

Considering the rise in price and the prospect of seeing less films this year, I decided not to get the 10-film pass again. For last night, I arrived at the theater 45 minutes beforehand, which was about right as I was standing in line for only five minutes before it steadily moved into the theater. A good seat was had (it can be argued, due to its layout, that there are no bad seats at the San Marco) and settled in.

Instead of the standard commercials or trailers or movie trivia, San Marco puts up some goofy crap on the screen (year round, not just for the JFF). Some of it's entertaining. Some of it less so. By the end of this cavalcade, there was a title card that read, "Lost and Found Video Night, Vol. 9". Here are some random highlights from it:
Grainy B&W footage of some band that can only be described as Ravi Shankar goes punk on Ed Sullivan.

A wooden robot playing a duet on a single drum with some guy facing opposite.

An NWA video accompanied by the audio of a Phoebe-esque folk singer singing the lyrics of "Straight outta Compton".

A puppet warbling about Jesus and sunbeams.

Hank Williams singing "Cold Cold Heart" (There's nothing odd or funny about this. Old School Country kicks ass! REPRESENT!).
Anyway, the film.

Fuck is a documentary concerning all cultural and historical aspects of the famed and shunned expletive. And though it may sound lean at only 93 minutes, this thing is thorough. Every conceivable angle on the word Fuck is explored through interviews with actors, directors, singers, rappers, politicians, activists, writers, journalists, comedians and, of course, a few porn stars. In fact, I'd have to say that the thing even drags a bit in those last fifteen minutes. I think, though, that this is more due to the editing than the interest of the material. My only other gripe with the film is that though there is a special section highlighting George Carlin's history with the word, it would have been so much better if they had an actual interview with him instead of just archived footage.

Much congratulations must be given to director Steve Anderson for being able to assemble such a diverse group of people to be interviewed. Not only do you get the people who will naturally fall into the liberal camp concerning the word (Bill Maher, Kevin Smith, and Ice-T, just to name a few), but he also manages to get some conservatives on board who must have thought twice before lending their time and efforts to this film. Some, such as Pat Boone, seem laughably out-of-touch and can't construct a sensible argument to save their lives. Others, such as Alan Keyes, make points that you can at least respect, if not agree with. And I must say I even agreed with the Conservatives on at least one point covered in the film: the fact that Dick Cheney using the F-word on the Senate floor is not necessarily a hypocritical action for a Conservative.

All in all, a damn good film and fun way to start the festival. Oh, and I do have one other observation to make which simultaneously makes use of the subject word in all it's glory:

Billy Connolly is a Laugh. Fucking. Riot.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

JFF 2006: And so it begins ...

Last year, the opening night film was a comedy called Phil the Alien showing at the Florida Theatre. Across the river, a documentary about a paraplegic sport called Murderball played at the San Marco Theatre. I decided to skip the big premiere downtown and see the smaller film.

Definitely no regrets on that choice.

This year has the same situation. A feature film called The Gold Bracelet, concerning an Indian family's dealing with 9/11, is kicking off the festival downtown tonight. Playing at the San Marco is a documentary about the history and use of the word "Fuck" called, appropriately, F*&k.

No prize for guessing which one I pick.

More JFF goodness in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pride & Prejudice ... again

I mentioned recently that I don't do full-length movie reviews anymore, and the reason being is that I can't seem to find the time or motivation to write them these days. After Mrs. Mosley and I finished a DVD several weeks ago, she mentioned how she missed my reviews and wished I'd do one for the film we just watched. I don't know if I'm up to the detail I used to dole out, but here it goes.

My most recent full-length review was last September when I did a compare/contrast of the 1957 and 1997 versions of 12 Angry Men. Oddly enough, this new piece is also a compare and contrast. Our viewing of the 2003 Pride & Prejudice marked the sixth (?!) version of Jane Austen's book we have watched together. The distinction of this one was that it was made by ... wait for it ... Mormons!

The full title of this version is Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy, but the film itself is really not all that religious. Aside from a half dozen mentions of "church", a single scene set during a service, and a brief glimpse of the Book of Mormon, there's very little here that has to do specifically with the Latter Day Saints. Instead, what the filmmakers were trying to do here (besides capitalize on a popular public-domain title) was to take a story set in a less sexually-charged time period and set it among students at BYU who could be said to be as culturally different from the rest of the country as the Regency era would be compared with today.

The whole tone of it is clearly inspired by Clueless, another teen comedy based on a Jane Austen novel. However, instead of the superficial (albeit charming) ditz played by Alicia Silverstone, actress Kam Heskin plays Elizabeth Bennet much like those before her: a headstrong, intelligent and independent woman. Her sisters this time around are changed into roommates. Jane (Lucila Sola) is a young beauty from Argentina, Mary (Rainy Kerwin) is the very picture of a modern wallflower, and Kitty and Lydia (Amber Hamilton and Kelly Stables) are perhaps even more man-hungry than their literary predecessors.

Into their lives comes a daffy hunk named Charles Bingley (Ben Gourley), his snotty sister Caroline (Kara Holden) and his stick-up-his-butt best friend Darcy (Orlando Seale). Elizabeth is not in the least interested in Darcy when they first meet, and already has her romantic hands full with an unwanted suitor named William Collins (Hubbel Palmer) and a long-standing flirtation with Jack Wickam (Henry Maguire). But, as always, the defenses of both Elizabeth and Darcy eventually melt away and they live happily ever after.

Though that seems like enough characters to choke a script, it's a severe dwindling compared to other incarnations of the story. Their choice to jettison Mr. and Mrs. Hurst is a popular and inconsequential one among adaptations, but also absent are Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Lady Catherine de Bourgh herself. Their absence is not as noticeable as it could have been, mainly due to the fact that the class struggle parts of the story are less of an issue here.

And it's at this point where most Austen purists would immediately throw up their hands and yell, "then what's the point?!" in exasperation. To be sure, excising the issue of class in P&P is similar to cutting any references to the Force and Jedi's in Star Wars. What remains in this film is the general structure of the story, which does work as a daffy romantic comedy (There are several references in the film to parts of the novel that were taken out, one of which is a posh restaurant called "Rosings"). Again, Austen fans may be horrified, but those with open minds will like it fine.

The movie is not without its faults. Chief among these is the use of too many musical montages with pop songs that were no doubt done by local Mormon bands. Also, the editing is a little bit off at times with some takes running five to ten seconds too long. Finally, Jared Harris, director of Napoleon Dynamite and fellow Mormon, does an extended cameo and ... well ... he better leave the camera mugging to Jon Heder from now on.

And to those who would turn up their nose at this noble effort and decry it as the worst P&P adaptation ever made, I would point you to the 1940 Hollywood version. Hell, even Laurence Olivier could barely salvage that film.

I've done a full-length treatment of the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice previously here at Acrentropy and gave it 10 out of 10. I stand by that rating as it continues to be the gold standard of filmed Jane Austen, P&P or otherwise. However, allow me to fill in my ratings for the other five while I'm on the subject in case your interested.

Pride and Prejudice (1940) - 6 out of 10

Pride and Prejudice (1980) - 7 out of 10

Pride and Prejudice (2003) - 7 out of 10

Bride and Prejudice (2004) - 8 out of 10

Pride and Prejudice (2005) - 9 out of 10

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

They walked far enough back to fit the whole thing in the photo

So, Mr. Real Estate Search Engine, you say you've found me a three bedroom, two bath home with over 1,400 square feet for only $112,000? Well, that's great! Can I see your picture of it?

Wow! The owners must be really proud!


I haven't checked Aint it Cool News yet, but I'm guessing this little item from the NYT made Harry Knowles piss his pants in anticipation (via Boing Boing):

When Steve McQueen died 25 years ago in Juarez, Mexico, he left behind two children, some 30 movies and a legacy as The King of Cool (the title of a documentary about him). He also left behind two custom-made trunks containing 16 leather-bound notebooks full of drawings, photographs from period magazines, and a detailed script continuity - a screenplay without dialogue - written in a kind of hyper-stylized poetry. These materials were his plans for Yucatan, the vanity project he yearned, but failed, to make.

A heist film and adventure epic, it would have married the sprawling canvas of films like The Great Escape and Papillon with the chase-scene histrionics of Bullitt (transferred to motorcycles, McQueen's lifelong passion) along with some ancient history and visionary science thrown in for good measure.

As Syndrome said in The Incredibles, "I'm still geeking out about it!"

But to bring it back down to earth for a moment, let's have a look at the picture that accompanies the article:

Listen, I'm one of the biggest fans of The Great Escape you're ever likely to meet, but this seems a little too cheesy for words even for me. I look at that and get flashbacks to Smokey and the Bandit II with Jerry Reed and his posse of twenty semi trucks storming across the desert.

But maybe they want to go for cheese. If so, then the question remains: Is that what McQueen would have wanted? Anybody who has special trunks built to hold over a dozen leather-bound volumes of work is obviously very serious about the material contained therein. Yet after reading over the few details they let slip in the article, I can't see it going any other way. It'll most likely turn out to be something like Sahara, only with a bit more brains and better actors (Truth be told: I haven't seen Sahara, but that is more due to the fact that I generally avoid Penelope Cruz at all cost).

To this end, in terms of straddling the bar between breathtaking epic and action film cheese, allow me to suggest Quentin Tarantino for the directing gig. He's proven with Kill Bill that he can do movies approaching an epic scope, and the history of this particular script just screams for his involvement. He can even hire some washed-up actor from the sixties or seventies to give the film an even more period feel.

Who knows? It could do McQueen proud.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Like a storm raging inside you ...

We're sorry to report that Mr. Mosley will not be able to come into the office today. The current fluctuating state of his bowels has been deemed not conducive to a pleasant workplace environment.

Thank you for your understanding.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Better health through love (and self love)

Great advances in medical research this week. And both stories are good news. Though one story appeared on a local evening newscast, complete with anchors getting all mushy about it ...

"Scientists have discovered that just 30 minutes of kissing can diminish the body’s allergic reaction to pollen."
... the other one, I'm guessing, will probably not get as much prime time play...

"Masturbating may protect against prostate cancer"
... at least, not in the United States.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"It's good to be here, It's good to be here, It's good to be here, Yeah It's good"

Anybody here remember Pat Paulsen?

He was a comedian whose main shtick was actually running for president and using his "campaign appearances" as opportunities to do his dimwitted politician routine. Believe it or not, he actually got quite a few people to write his name in on the ballot in 1968.

He became most famous during the sixties through his appearances on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (for as long as the censors let that show run). When the Smothers Brothers briefly came back to television in the eighties, Pat came along too, and this was my first introduction to him.

My interest in them led me to track down old bits shown occasionally on TV Land. One filmed routine showed him on a series of airport tarmacs, talking to reporters after having just landed. In each one, he expresses how glad he is to be in (fill in the blank of the town he's now in) and how it's good to be with real Americans as opposed to those jokers in (fill in the blank of the town he just left).

This bit came to mind when I found a NYT article containing a series of quotations from Condoleeza Rice (Via BartCop):

"We have no better friend in meeting these challenges than our friends in Greece." 03/24/05

"We have no better friend than Italy and it is a great pleasure, Gianfranco, to have you here." 04/13/05

"The United States has no better friend than Australia..." 05/04/05

"We have no better friend than the United Kingdom, going back in many years." 05/17/05

"We have no better friend than Jordan, a good friend..." 06/19/05

"We have no better friend than Japan." 05/01/06
Damn, we sure are fickle with our best friends. I wonder who it will be next month? I got fifty bucks on Saudi Arabia!

(The post title is in honor of Maki's penchant for obscure song lyrics)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Submitted with minimal comment

A recent academic study:
U.S. psychologists say they've found that handling a gun creates a hormonal reaction in men that can prime them for aggression.
Gee, ya think!?!?

(Picture courtesy of Cold Fusion Video)

And to further elaborate on the themes of guys, guns and incredible stupidity (Via Blah3):
Some 200,000 guns the US sent to Iraqi security forces may have been smuggled to terrorists, it was feared yesterday.

The 99-tonne cache of AK47s was to have been secretly flown out from a US base in Bosnia. But the four planeloads of arms have vanished.

Orders for the deal to go ahead were given by the US Department of Defense. But the work was contracted out via a complex web of private arms traders.

And the Moldovan airline used to transport the shipment was blasted by the UN in 2003 for smuggling arms to Liberia, human rights group Amnesty has discovered.

It follows a separate probe claiming that thousands of guns meant for Iraq's police and army instead went to al-Qaeda.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Be sure to pack the Dramamine

A new way to blast off (Via Boing Boing):

All space projects get into orbit pretty much the same way – by burning lots of rocket fuel, a spaceship powers itself past the sky. NASA and the Army Research Lab have another idea: "Slingatron," a giant, hypervelocity, rapid-fire slingshot. The machine would spin a projectile faster and faster through a spiral-shaped tube, building up increasing amounts of centripetal force along the way – just like a discus-thrower, spinning himself around before a toss, or like a latter-day King David, winding up his weapon before he whacks Goliath.

Forget friggin Ipod's. When stuff like this starts getting built and used, then I'll be satisfied that I'm living in the 21st century!

...And another thing: Where the hell is my flying car?!?!?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cleaning the Desktop

Time to clear off some of these links (yet retain them oh-so-cleverly in this blogpost) and pass the savings along to you!

Stop Smiling Magazine - CYNICS REJOICE! Well, not rejoice, exactly, because that's not your normal state of existence and then you wouldn't be ... oh, nevermind. - Full of games and video clips and other fun stuff to help pass the day

Mapping Hacks - All kinds of cartographic goodness!

Fallout - I have no idea how I originally came across this Russian site, but I know why I kept a link to it: the references to the classic Commodore 64 game "Wasteland".

Damn Interesting - It is definitely that. A cool and well designed site that posts random stories about all sorts of oddities that are ... well, you get the idea.

Never Happened - Probably linked solely on the info for the Boeing Library design.

Victorian London - A very cool and extensive online encyclopedia on all things Victorian (most of which are primary sources).

Other Time Lines - Site devoted to chronicling the alternate universes in historical "what if" fiction. In other words, manna for Harry Turtledove fans.

And finally yet another LEGO link, this time to some guy who refuses to let the inherently boxy nature of LEGO keep him from creating a very un-boxy design. I may have to steal some of his stuff.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Look, Sir: Digital Media

News travels fast on the Internet, and the revelation 24 hours ago about the original Star Wars films being released on DVD is already all over the place. One commentary on this that tickled me was from Mac Slocum of Film Fodder:
Now that many of us old-schoolers have popped out little ones, I'd be interested to know how parents are going to handle the all-important "Star Wars" introduction. Will you follow the final story arc ("Episode I" through "Episode VI")? Will you show the 2004 originals ("Star Wars" through "Jedi") then show the prequels? Or, will you revisit your own youthful "Star Wars" experience: "Original Unaltered Trilogy" followed by the prequels? These are the questions that haunt me.

Not to worry, Mac. I have an answer for you: (gestures vaguely with right hand) You don't need to see the prequels ... These aren't the films you're looking for ... You can go about your business ... Move along ... Move along.

Skippy of the Day: Donald Rumsfeld

Much like my full-length movie reviews, "Skippy" doesn't make many appearances around Acrentropy any more. However, given Rumsfeld's recent run in with somebody who actually knows what he's talking about, I though it appropriate to bring it back:

QUESTION: Well we're talking about lies and your allegation there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.

QUESTION: Zarqawi? He was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That's also ...

RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.

QUESTION: Yes, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on, these people aren't idiots. They know the story.

Mr. Rumsfeld, I lived in Tallahassee for most of 2001. That doesn't mean I ever had brunch with Jeb.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


Hot Damn! (Found via Linkfilter):

Die-hard Star Wars fans soon can see the original theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars films on DVD.

Even though George Lucas adamantly declared 2004's digitally restored Star Wars Trilogy DVDs the definitive versions of his movies, fans have held out hope for DVDs of the originals.

Their wishes will be granted Sept. 12 when Fox releases new two-disc DVDs ($30 each) of Star Wars (since retitled as Episode IV: A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that include the films as they first appeared in theaters, along with the new, restored versions (now available in the four-disc $70 Star Wars Trilogy).

The individual DVDs will be taken off the market on Dec. 31, a strategy that Disney uses on many of its classic releases.

Lucas re-released his original three Star Wars films in theaters in 1997 with inserted scenes and improved special effects. Those "special editions" were further enhanced for the four-disc DVD set. With the original versions coming to DVD, here's what you'll see again:

• In Star Wars, Han Solo shoots a bounty hunter named Greedo. Lucas changed the scene later so it seemed that Greedo draws first, and changed it again for the DVD so that they appear to shoot simultaneously.

• In Empire Strikes Back, the ice creature that captures Luke Skywalker gets less screen time.

• In Jedi, Sebastian Shaw returns as Anakin in the movie's final scene. Lucas substituted Hayden Christiansen, who plays Anakin in the more recent films, for the 2004 DVD.

Back in 2004, Lucas told the New York Post, "The special edition is the one I wanted out there."

This new set of DVDs does not constitute "George changing his mind," says Lucasfilm's Jim Ward. "What we've always said is George viewed the revised versions of the films as the definitive versions."

Fan attachment to the originals is strong. The movies topped entertainment website's recent chart of Top 25 Most Wanted DVDs.

"People want the option of having the movies that they remember and people are opposed to George Lucas' revisionist tendencies," says the site's Chris Carle.

The original films' video quality will not match up to that of the restored versions. "It is state of the art, as of 1993, and that's not as good as state of the art 2006," Ward says.
I am so glad I waited on buying this one. Where's that Amazon pre-order?!?!?!

Decisions, Decisions

With only two weeks left in the countdown, the JFF Schedule is finally out!

I'm actually going to see less this time around than I did last year. One reason is that they raised the prices on both tickets and 10-film passes (which are consequently not the great deal they were last year). I'm also going to be busy being a judge for the "Lost In Space" Alt Fest at the Library. At any rate, I've got my eyes on six films so far that I'll try and see:

F*&k - Well, with a title like that, how could I resist? Hard on the heels of The Artistocrats comes another documentary where a bunch of people deconstruct and analyze something filthy (this time a single word instead of an entire joke). George Carlin, of course, will be a major participant, as will be Bill Maher, Alanis Morissette and (gasp!) Ron Jeremy!

The Architect - Very little information seems to be about for this drama starring Anthony ("I'm an Aussie with an accent, but I keep getting cast as a NYC Italian") LaPaglia. IMDb gives this one sentence description: "An architect engages in conflict with an activist who lives in a dangerous complex the architect designed".

The Education of Shelby Knox - Here we have a documentary of a girl in Texas who changed from Conservative Southern Baptist to Liberal Christian and how that change came about. Although the subject matter sounds like great fun for Southern liberals like myself, it's also been described by some reviews as an incredibly moving drama.

Factotum - Who wants a nice thick slice of Charles Bukowski? I do! I do! Matt Dillon plays the protagonist here, and it's a great choice. After listening to him do the audio version of Kerouac's "On the Road", he should be well suited to the tale of a modern wandering bohemian.

Interkosmos - I'm a sucker for comedies in the form of history that never happened. In this case, it's an examination of the East German space program. The pictures that I've found taken from the film look incredibly goofy, but, of course, that's half the point, aint it?

Puzzlehead - By all accounts, this is a freaky little sci-fi drama in the tradition of Philip K. Dick. Very little information can be found beyond that, and even the official website doesn't give much away. It's all the more intriguing for it.

And then there's Lonely Hearts, a fairly large budget studio Film Noir shot in town (mentioned previously here). It will be preceded by a "Tribute Award", most likely given to star John Travolta. Unfortunately, seeing this film will pretty much prevent me from seeing both Factotum and Interkosmos. I suppose my mood (and Mrs. Mosley's leanings) will decide which will win out when that Saturday arrives.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Forest Whitaker Quote of the Month: May 2006

Deacons for Defense tells the true story of a group of black men in 1960's Louisiana who arm themselves and fight for their civil rights. The budget for this Cable movie is low, and it shows through the limited sets. The editing is a bit slapdash most of the time. Finally, Jonathan Silverman, for all his sincerity as civil rights worker Michael Deane, never looks quite right in a role where he's not hauling around a corpse.

Forest, on the other hand, does an admirable job with what he's given. One really good line occurs when his character discusses Deane's non-violent approach to their cause:

Marcus Clay - "You get on the floor. I'll go outside, see if I can find me some good old boys kick you around a little bit. I'll tell them you don't like to defend yourself. They'll be lined up all around the corner. (Laughing) You ready for a real good ass-whippin'?"