Tag Archives: film

Body

Caught a preview screening of Jennifer’s Body. It wasn’t as awful as I’d read, but I can say that there’s going to be a cadre of folks who are interested in seeing the thing just for Megan Fox’s body. And they’ll be disappointed, because though some of the billboard adverts have given it that bro-skin-flick sheen, that it ain’t. It may have some overbearingly brazen Hollywood affectations (let’s cram as many pop songs as possible in the most awkward situations), Diablo Cody may have gone a bit too over-the-top with her Diablo Cody-isms (though, to be perfectly honest, I know people who speak with the same “quirky” speech affectations), and the humor-horror mixture sometimes trips over itself.

Sometimes. It’s still fairly entertaining, though I wish Cody would’ve explored certain aspects in greater depth (though I can see how it may have been overkill/distracting).

WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead. (Nothing too terrible, but if you’ve seen or read anything about the film, you won’t be caught terribly off-guard.)

At the crux of all the movement is a band called Low Shoulder, who end up performing in the backwoods town that Jennifer lives in and results in a massive Great White-like disaster. (As an aside, I thought the horror take on a club fire was kind of in bad taste… perhaps because it’s exploitative nature that’s eerily like an event that feels so recent/always feels close to home considering the countless teeny spaces I myself cram into for shows could always be a potential nightmare.) In any case, the town and nation are somehow deluded into thinking the band are heroes, with the entire local high school head over heels for the group. A conversation ensues where a Needy (Amanda Seyfried) gets in an argument with a classmate who worships the band based on facts she read over wikipedia and claims that “we need them now more than ever.” It’s this kind of stuff that makes me really respect Cody: she may write a kind of dialogue that goes to extremes of online banter as used in life, but her abilities to display how people react in the most insignificant of situations is uncanny. I found that one relatively sideline scene to be so endearing, the idea that people will seek anything as a source of hope and use the word “hero” for a person who may not well deserve it, a third rate entertainer no less. (It’s kind of funny seeing Adam Brody in another role outside of The Ten where his character is revered for no apparent reason.)

On another, more scrupulous note, Brody’s fake band reveals a certain way people perceive, well, certain kinds of bands, within the context of a film and out of it. Left Shoulder are basically billed as an “indie” band on several occasions in the film, and the watered down song that’s parlayed throughout the film is basically as bland as anything that can be passed off as such. And though the only mention of emo in the entire film is something of a “quirk line” (“puncture wound? That’s so emo.”), some folks are already calling Brody’s faux act an emo band. So sayeth Metromix’s Geoff Berkshire:

When rising emo band Low Shoulder come to town, Jennifer makes it a priority to meet the lead singer (Adam Brody), leading to a night that changes her forever.

The giveaway for the band being remotely “emo”? Probably Brody’s guyliner. As Brody told MTV about his role:

I play this guy named Nikolai Wolf, and he’s a singer in an emo band. He’s looking for fame and fortune and is basically a sociopath who came upon the idea that devil worship and sacrificing a girl is the surefire ticket to fame and fortune. And he has no problem doing that, whatsoever.

….

Yeah, there’s some Jared Leto in there. I threw in a bit of Brandon Flowers. There’s a little Maroon 5. There’s no nail polish, but there’s a little bit of eyeliner.

And there you have it. Gotta love how Brandon Flowers, though he’s previously been outspoken against emo, is probably a greater basis for Brody’s character than Leto: Brody’s stage manner resembles that of Flowers in that over-indulgent, I’m-so-great-look-at-me-slowly-sway kind of way.

What’s more interesting is the band’s supposed evil status. I realize the film is a mixture of comedy and horror, but this is where the mixture doesn’t really work. The ease with which Brody and his band-mates are compelled to commit some heinous act with barely any 2nd guessing (that being the whole “hey, it’s either this or be a barista” argument, which is fairly lame) just didn’t do it for me. Why? Because any band that would have such a brazenly vanilla sound probably wouldn’t be in the same room as anything occult. Nor would they think “that dude from Maroon 5” is cool. Because no one thinks that guy is cool.

Now I’m just nitpicking…

Jennifer’s Body trailer:

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“Emo” Jacket

I stumbled upon this article on DVICE, thinking it would be some tepid piece on some bland fashion statement associated with emo. But I hardly expected this:

“First there was smell-o-vision. Now we have the Emo Jacket with feel-o-vision. The folks at Philips Electronics are bringing out a jacket that lets you really feel what’s going on in a movie. Using similar coding technology to D-box Motion Code chairs, the jacket will react to signals encoded on a DVD or Blu-ray.”

Well, perhaps I should have expected something of this nature considering DVICE is a technology site. In any case, the disconcerting thing here isn’t the (mis)use of the word emo, but rather the need for this device. Film, like music and any other form of art, should be able to elicit ones’ emotions with its own tools. The need for an absurd tool to manufacture some sentiment of what the characters on screen are feeling as to allow one to empathize with the characters, then, simply put, the movie isn’t doing any justice to the story. If you need this jacket to find the emotional gravitas of a certain film, chances are that movie isn’t very good.

 

That infernal jacket...

That infernal jacket...

9 Things To Look Forward To in 2009

2008 is almost gone as the New Year will arrive in a matter of hours (or it may have already arrived depending on when you read this). So, in anticipation for the number of times I’ll forget to put “2009” on whatever documents need a proper year, here’s a little listing of 9 things I’ll be looking forward to in the next year…

9. Surprises

I suppose this is something resembling a cop-out in a list, but part of looking forward to the many things that will color our near-future is not knowing what will come next. Some of my favorite things from 2008 I never saw coming, anticipated, or was given any knowledge to anticipate at all. That includes things such as the release of TV On The Radio’s Dear Science, – which was a surprise simply because it was announced less than two months prior to its release so there was not any forewarning or buildup like with Return to Cookie Mountain – to movies such as The Wackness (a great summer coming-of-age movie that could have easily been a bust) and books I’ll pick up randomly, sunny days outdoors… by definition, anything really. Now how can you go wrong there?

8. New Food For Animals LP

Food For Animals – You Right (live in Baltimore)

You read it here folks, from the mouth of the animals themselves. Food For Animals will be dropping a new album in the next year, and if Belly is any indication, it should be one hell of a package. No info or sounds on what the trio of hip-hop noiseniks are cooking up, but in the last year since Belly was released they’ve certainly mastered their live set, and if the mixes posted on their blog offer any indication, they’ve got some great stuff coming around the corner.

7. Say Anything – Say Anything

Say Anything – Woe (live, acoustic)

I’ve been a Say Anything believer since stumbling upon …is a Real Boy in 2004. I’d found so few records that made such honest, emotionally compelling, and furiously anthemic when I picked up the album, and it remains a favorite of mine. The reason this isn’t ranked higher is because the long-awaited follow-up, In Defense of the Genre, was a bit of a disappointment (but really, it must’ve been rough following up that brilliant first record). Still, there were bright spots in that massive double album, and Max Bemis no doubt has set his goals high for a record he has said will discuss the nuances of every day life. Let’s see how people will respond to emo that strives to be simply normal.

6. Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten for 33 1/3

Public Enemy – Bring The Noise (live, Pitchfork Music Festival)

Here’s the math equation: Take one of hip-hop’s best albums done by one of the genre’s best bands, add in the former drummer for one of the best experimental rock outfits today, and multiply it by a publishing company that lets music obsessives run wild. What do you get? It looks like what may be one of the best books in the 33 1/3 book series. According to a certain schedule, Continuum should be releasing the book on It Takes A Nation of Millions… at some point this year, a read which should be wonderful in and of itself. Add in the fact that its written by Christopher R. Weingarten, the former kit-smasher for Parts & Labor who left the band to pursue a career in journalism and to write the Public Enemy book, and you’ve got an equation for what should be a success for Continuum and readers alike.

5. Jimmy Eat World Clarity Tour

Jimmy Eat World – Lucky Denver Mint

This is an emo/Jimmy Eat World/music fan’s wet dream. Celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the little-album-that-record-executives-thought-it-couldn’t-but-did, Jimmy Eat World will triumphantly play Clarity in its entirety for an American tour starting in February. Whether or not the performance will live up to some people’s expectations is one thing; the fact that Jimmy Eat World are touring this record is an entirely different aspect which meets any and all expectations. This is the album that by all intents and purposes was something of a failure; if Jimmy Eat World were to tour one record, it would probably be their critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful self-titled album. However, Clarity remains a fan favorite, and after the many years and stories surrounding the band and that album, J.E.W. are showing what really matters to them: the fans. It should be a fantastic set, simply by the band showing up.

4. The Road Movie

Still from The Road

Still from The Road

I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road this past summer, a little while after it won piles of awards and recognition and a little while before the movie’s release. Turns out it was a little more than a little while before the film came out, as it was unfortunately delayed from its 2008 release. The book sent me into something of a shock after a quick gust through it in a matter of days. The transfer from the page to the screen is usually very tenuous, but McCarthy’s words have a very visual style that will no doubt aid the story’s sense of reality in a post-apocalyptic world. And noting the folks in front of and behind the camera for the movie, this may be on of the best to come out of 2009.

3. Dan Deacon – Bromst

Dan Deacon – Crystal Cat

Dan Deacon may have unintentionally thrust himself into the limelight with 2007’s Spiderman of the Rings, but the man wasn’t unconscious of the world around him as it happened. Deacon has made a concerted effort to experiment in all forms of his life as long as he has everyone’s undivided attention and support (and he probably would if they didn’t). That means crazy local festivals, crazy town-sized tours, crazy kiddie-electronic-cum-rave songs that stick in your brain like putty. And with Bromst, an album that was meant to be released this year but has since been delayed until March, Deacon doesn’t seem to quit. No matter how the record will be received, it will physically (or at least sonically) be received, a testament to his enduring ability to test his own musical will and conceptual might. It should be quite a listen.

2. Watchmen Movie

Watchmen Trailer 2

Why question this? Again, like most of the things on this list, simply existing will make Watchmen memorable. As a movie, who knows whether the thumb of the public will go up or down (or better yet, that of the comic’s cult fan base). But, barring the recent legal activity surrounding the film and its impending release, as long as the movie hits theaters it will be a success. Not only commercially, but for the comic book movie genre and for struggling screenplays everywhere (this film has been in talks for since the original graphic novel first hit stands). And it looks so damn pretty.

1. Inauguration

Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech

No matter what your political beliefs are, this will be a massive event. “Historic” to a pin. I’ll be there, amongst however many millions of people that are expected to show up and see Barack Obama sworn in as the President of the United States. Just typing that is getting me excited for the new year.

Happy New Year!

Good… or Creepy?

At number 9 on the AV Club’s “Worst Films of 2008” list, the premise for “Good Dick” and one of it’s main characters sounds a bit off… too off:

“Ritter is the kind of cutesy emo-boy who sleeps on Palka’s couch, then wakes up early so he can tie a string to her foot, attached to a thank-you note in the other room.”

And it gets creepier from there. Since when did the sad-sack current definition of emo translate so well into the semantics behind the word “creepy?”

Read The AV Club’s “Worst Films of 2008” list here.

Too Lazy To Right Write

Michael Moore is the newest guy to pull a Radiohead, but not with music (though if it were, I’m sure it’d be somewhere in the general stereotype for emo these days – whiny and overly-dramatic). Moore released his newest piece, Slacker Uprising, on the net for a free download yesterday, perfectly timed with the upcoming elections. I was as moved by Bowling for Columbine as any other kid my age who saw that movie must have been. But this? Well, see the trailer for yourself:

True, it’s only the trailer, and I may have had some ideologically perplexing opinions about first-impressions in my last post, but it’s clear that’s just as far as Michael Moore will go to approach a subject. I never took Moore’s words at face value; he’s always been relatively upfront about not wanting to be called a documentary filmmaker, as that would imply seeking to find some indefinite fact. Moore’s work is the kind that seeks to persuade first, inform later. But that’s even harder to swallow when the subject he’s attempting to cover – rousing young Americans into voting – is given the finishing polish of a stereotype.

With the trailer, Moore paints himself as the patron saint of liberalism – the youth the lost in a dark and depressing world without his kindness. They are the “slackers” of the title, whom he rallied to vote for John Kerry in a supposedly unprecedented landslide in that demographic. What is this, the early 90s? The slacker is the prototype for Gen Xers and could hardly describe individuals of my generation who first voted in the 2004 election. Growing up, I remember reading and watching countless news stories about how overworked, over-committed, and over-stressed my generation is. Not only that, I’ve lived it (although to a lesser degree of other individuals); I carried book-bags that weighed more than me to school, spent hour after frustrating hour doing seven classes worth of homework an evening, and (most recently) drove myself towards sleep deprivation with extra-curricular activities.

Michael Moore

Michael Moore

Moore seems to forget an important point that I’d like to kindly lift from Thursday’s Geoff Rickly; every action you do is inherently political. The idea that voting is absolutely revolutionary – while true centuries ago and in some respects today – is a little old. And its dis-empowering. If this country was built on the idea of the people governing themselves, than any action one does can have some positive (or negative) end result. Punching some ballot (or pressing some images on a computer screen) every two years is hardly revolutionary. The work people of my generation have done – from volunteering, to community building, to simply creating and implementing whatever creative idea they have, is just as powerfully political as single vote.

Moore’s assertion that young people today are “slackers” is the kind of crap that has had an affect on low-voter turnouts in the youngest voting age demographics. It may not be a singular cause, but the fact that most politicians completely ignore this demographic certainly has a large impact. And Moore is simply feeding into that idea. As an icon for liberalism, he’s doing a pretty terrible job as well, merely reiterating stereotypes about liberals and negatively affecting the left side of the American political divide even more. As Thomas Frank asserts in What’s The Matter With Kansas? , the image that a large number of Mid-Western Americans have of liberals is that they are leeches on society, merely doing and producing nothing of value or sustenance. Sounds a little like the definition of a slacker. With that portrait of the most liberal voting demographic, is it any wonder why certain portions of American society have moved to the right. (I realize this is a massive generalization, just on piece of a very complicated puzzle that Frank addresses quite thoroughly and provocatively in his book, but it is still a part of the picture, and an important one at that).

Still, I might watch the movie. It’s hard to tell though, being a slacker and all. I just don’t know if I have the energy or motivation to watch a documentary.

Briefs:

*The New York Timescoverage of My Bloody Valentine’s performance at ATP ends with the following quote:

“You can’t do anything with sound,” Mr. Shields had said, “unless there is emotion.”

And again, there is a case against the idea of “emo” as a viable term for a genre of music.

*The MacArthur “Genius” Awards were announced, with Alex Ross being one of the notable recipients; his book, The Rest Is Noise is a tremendous work on classical music in the 20th Century. I’m part-way through and can’t wait to pick up some Richard Strauss. One of the more interesting narratives for the winners is that of Walter Kitundu, who combines turntables and stringed instruments into some pretty intense works of art (and great instruments in and of themselves):

*TV on the Radio’s Dear Science, is out everywhere. Expect something resembling a review soon…

No One Is An Extra

I’ve been trying to find the trailer for Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York for quite awhile. Now, with about a month until its release, it’s finally hit the net:

Just the trailer itself looks fantastic. Sure, Kaufman does great work with Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, but with his sharp, witty, and all-around-anomalous screenplay writing, I’m excited to see his directing ability. From the trailer, it touches on two themes about emo I always gravitate towards: the absurd and the normal. Sometimes they go great hand in hand in emo – sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they go great hand in hand in film, especially when Kaufman is somewhere in the picture. I can’t wait to see how this one works out.

Not Another Post About Movies

I think “dumbfounded” would be the best way to described how I felt after watching this trailer:

Yep.

Somewhere along the line, I guess this had to happen. David Zucker, the man responsible for bringing absurdity-through-seriousness in the comedic splash that is Airplane is also one of the men responsible for the recent rash of (enter genre name here) movies. You know the ones. Date Movie. Epic Movie. Superhero Movie. And what looks to be the worst yet, (it’s sure to be a) Disaster Movie. Somewhere along the line, Zucker found the idea to restart his brand of craming every humorous idea possible in a solid minute of film when he took over the Scary Movie franchise at number 3.

David Zucker

David Zucker

And now he’s back. But is it to seek vengeance or add to the pain? It’s really a toss up. From the trailer, An American Carol could actually go either way. Sure, if you hold it to any standard, the movie is sure to be doomed. But, unlike the relentless “Movie” movies that have been churned out, Zucker wrote and directed this baby; aside from his role as producer for Superhero Movie, all the other films didn’t bare any of his trademark brand of humor – just the residue of his influence. And Zucker no doubt pulled out all the stops for this one with a cast that would never touch Epic Movie with a ten-foot pole; Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, James Woods, Dennis Hopper, Kevin Sorbo, Leslie Nielsen (alright, he has done some terrible stuff, but he’s Zucker’s go-to guy) all star, and there’s even a cameo from Bill O’Rielly. What’s more, An American Carol seems to offer at least some semblance of a conversation on society rather than a pool of tossed out fifth-rate jokes. If anything, the movie is just as much a skewering of the recent rise in terrible film satire as it is of the political world. But honestly, the entire movie rests on one Kevin P. Farley, who is probably turning the stomachs of many Chris Farley fans simply for staring in such a similarly-characterized role.

My thoughts on An American Carol are reminiscent of Say Anything‘s In Defense of the Genre. Both appear to be an effort to resurrect their individual fields of artistic (I use that word lightly) expression; Carol for modern film satire, Genre for modern emo. And yet their over-the-top presence is so off-putting and reminiscent of the very concepts and ideas most people detest about both types of expression. Then again, the significant pull of “celebrity guests” (in Genre, everyone from Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba to Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance to Hayley Williams of Paramore) and the initial draw of the original artist is enough to draw attention to any production. Yet just as An American Carol has its faults, In Defense of the Genre is far from perfect, weighed down in too many songs (two full albums worth) and not enough content. But what’s probably the most irritating thing is derived from the fact that Say Anything (and to an affect, Zucker) is capable of creating great stuff and settles for driving the stereotypic points of emo home. And therein lies the friction in whether or not Genre is simply good or bad. Something like “Shiksa (Girlfriend)” is so blatantly over-the-top and conservative in its employment of typical modern emo diatribes, it makes it all seem like the track and the rest of the album is almost a mockery of itself and the very thing it’s supposed to defend. Maybe its a challenge – the fact that Max Bemis can whip out a double album of this stuff in no time with what appears to be very-little creativity spent on it (at least, in comparison to …is a Real Boy) is both a tribute to and a scathing diatribe against emo. And maybe the thing I like most about the album is that idea… then again, emo is invariably whatever one makes it out to be.

Touche.

Say Anything – Shiksa (Girlfriend) (live):