Applying bumper stickers, wearing "Factor gear," attending "rallies," and dropping conversational non sequiturs about listening to Glenn Beck do not demonstrate that one is a conservative. They demonstrate that one is a dink. Like John Nolte.
Just a quick note to acknowledge that the unofficial colloquium on film criticism has officially reached its meta-meta phase, with Andrew O'Hehir (with whom I do, in fact, remain cordial) at Salon taking note of various contemplations and kerfuffles and sagely advising "Shut the fuck up." (Emphasis his.) Some might argue that to comment at all on the whole business is, in point of fact, to enter it, but, oh hey, honey, look at the time!...
For the record, I consider "jesuitical" a compliment. Also for the record, as long as I'm the guy paying the annual Typepad fee to maintain this blog, I'll write about whatever the fuck I want. (Emphasis mine.)
Meanwhile, at Facebook, the man who helped foist Lauren Wissot on an unsuspecting world enthuses, "Harsh, Andrew, but it needed to be said." And there was much rejoicing.
UPDATE: ...and I'm not gonna make a habit of updating this post, honest. But a friend wrote this morning, genuinely concerned that I was genuinely angry with the person I refer to above, who is Matt Zoller Seitz, and who is also, my friend notes, a "sweetheart." He is indeed, as well as a saint and a near-genius whose video essays are setting a new standard for new media criticism. And, no, I am not angry with him, at all. Nor am I angry with Andrew O'Hehir, although now that I've given his piece a thorough reading I'm kind of aghast at how much of it I take issue with, and how many category errors (particularly concerning "elites") it contains. I like these guys, I think they're lively engaging writers and good people. But, like all of us, they are prone to errors in judgement. I'm just giving 'em a little shit, that's all. Usually when I'm really angry you can tell, I think.
The official announcement on the cancellation of the syndicated film review program "At the Movies" is one of the more classic pieces of corporate-speak I've had the privilege to read in quite some time. Here's the statement in full:
After 24 seasons with us in national syndication, the highly regarded movie review show "At the Movies" (formerly known as "Siskel & Ebert" and "Ebert & Roeper") will air its last original broadcast the weekend of August 14, 2010.This was a very difficult decision, especially considering the program's rich history and iconic status within the entertainment industry, but from a business perspective it became clear this weekly, half-hour, broadcast syndication series was no longer sustainable. We gratefully acknowledge the outstanding work of the program's current co-hosts A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips and top-notch production staff, and it is with heartfelt appreciation that we extend very special thanks to the two brilliant, visionary and incomparable critics that started it all, Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel.
Connoisseurs of the idiom will of course revel in the concentration of the standard-issue weasel words and phrases. For those lucky enough to have had little or no exposure to the argot, here are some translations.
"Highly regarded"="Christ, this show gets lousy ratings."
"This was a very difficult decision"="This was pretty much the easiest decision I/we have ever made, ever."
"Rich history and iconic status"="Holy fuck, is this show STILL ON THE AIR? And we're still paying for it?"
"From a business perspective"="Even if the thing IS relatively inexpensive to produce, it's still eating into profits."
"No longer sustainable"=See "From a business perspective."
"We extend very special thanks"="We are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of executives removed from the clowns who green-lit this antique in the first place."
Don't get me wrong; I suppose the decision "makes sense" from the aforementioned "business perspective." I've enjoyed the episodes of "At The Movies" that I've seen, and, friendly relations with both fellows aside, I have much professional admiration for Scott and Phillips; they're knowledgeable, engaging, and they both know how to use the word "existential" correctly in a sentence (that is: rarely, if at all), all that sort of thing. But in the Changing Media Landscape, such as it is, critics and critical thought have become less, shall we say, telegenic, and...oh, my, I don't believe any of us are here for a rehashing of stuff that's being so thoroughly rehashed time and time again, and I'm certainly not the ideal person to contemplate the fact that in some respects the "A Couple Of White Middle-Aged Guys Sitting Around Talking About Movies" model maybe is, well, a little antique, so I'm going to leave this at that.
Heh heh heh. So quipped My Lovely Wife this evening as we watched the above. That's actually Ronnie Enos there in the middle (at least I THINK it is—reliable sources on this group's personnel are rather thin on the ground), playing lead guitar for the fabulous Barbarians, with the legendary one-handed Victor "Moulty" Moulson pounding the skins, as they say. (Alas, they don't play the song "Moulty" here, but their "Hey Little Bird" is a nice greasy slice of Standells-ish garage ebullience.) The hairstyles are just one reason I'm glad that Shout! Factory has finally issued a very decent legit DVD of The TAMI Show. Another reason is, of course, James Brown and his Famous Flames and their rendition of "Please, Please, Please," still the greatest piece of showbiz schtick I've ever seen, and the revisiting of which was about the only thing that made me happy after a relatively miserable day. Also chortlesome and interesting are poor Mick Jagger's attempts to follow Mr. Brown. All great stuff that you ought to get to know.
This dude playing the "ghost" of Elvis Preseley in Jim Jarmusch's 1989's Mystery Train? Paula Jones' husband, apparently. Steve Jones. Or, as he's credited in the film, Stephen.
I learned this from Ken Gormley's big book of impeachment, The Death of American Virtue, in which Gormley mentions Jones' acting aspirations and cites the Train cameo, adding that the picture "had flopped." "Hold on there, Hoss," I thought as I read that. "You may know about the law and history and all that kinda stuff, but you might not know that much about the economics of indie film." I looked into the matter and found, alas, that Mystery Train actually did marginally worse than some of the Jarmusch films that came before and after it. Not quite poorly enough to tag Stephen Jones as box office poison, but...oh, never mind. Anyway, I reckon this tidbit of data could be useful in someone's "six degrees" game...
The book is quite well done. I see on Facebook that a friend—a real friend as well as an FB one—is looking for a "loose baggy monster" of a novel to read, and while this non-fiction book is actually relatively tight, it is something of a monster, and describes in juicy detail a folly that James, Trollope, Tolstoy, Balzac, Zola, et. al. might have found too improbable to even consider applying prose to. And being reminded that, yes, Rush Limbaugh actually did go on the air and announce that a media source "claim[ed] that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton" makes me fall in love with the big lug all over again.
8) Stranger Than Paradise, Jim Jarmusch, 1984 (pictured)
9) Russian Ark, Alexander Sokurov, 2002
10) The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh, 2009
2): These Buñuel films are apt demonstrations of the adage, "When you've got no continuity, you can't have any continuity errors!"
3): I actually can't vouch for the fact that this film contains no lapses in continuity. Its inclusion is merely a ploy to get more people to seek it out and see it.
5): A similar principle to the one applied to 2) applies here. That is, in a picture of such unremitting irreality, continuity as such cannot apply. That said, I also cannot find anything in it that would constitute a supposed "error>"
10): Not just because of the specific way it was shot, but because its anti-linear editing pretty much cancels out the possibility of a conventional gaffe.
The others ought to be self-explanatory, I reckon.
I'm nominally a fan of the Todd Solondz film of that name, but I really don't feel the film honors the form in a specific enough way to please the formalist in me. And as an enthusiast for OULIPO and Oulipeans, my inner formalist is difficult to please in this respect. I have read, if not understood, George Perec's Great Palindrome. My favorite English-language palindrome is by my old friend Peter Blegvad: "Peel's foe, not a set animal, laminates a tone of sleep." This even makes sense, if you allow "Peel" to equal "Peale," as in Charles Willson Peale, the painter whose work "Exhuming The First American Mastadon" is the subject of one of the songs on Kew. Rhone., the Oulipo/surrealist-inflected album he created with John Greaves and Lisa Herman. Which you should buy immediately. (Although it appears to be no longer available at popular prices. Another crime against greatness.)This masterpiece, as indescribable and delightful a piece of wordsandmusic as has been concocted, is a Unique Artistic Object that has sustained many slings and arrows of circumstance in its obscure career, among the first of which, notes Wikipedia, was having the misfortune of being released on the same day, and on the same label, as the Sex Pistols' Never Mind The Bollocks. The principal creators of the record have some pretty amusing stories of how Virgin's then-hear Richard Branson didn't quite get what the artists were going for, but all things being equal, he wasn't the only one. Anyway, any excuse to plug this puppy, and 01/02/2010 is as good a one as any.
One of my favorite sight gags ever, which ought to give you an idea of just how elevated and refined my sense of humor is. From Parker and Stone's Team America: World Police (2004), which My Lovely Wife had never seen, and we watched the other evening. Not only is it still pretty damn funny, but it clearly rendered the existence of Big Hollywood entirely redundant several years before that website was even conceived, which is quite a feat.
Do you know the film? No, it's not Where The Wild Things Are. Or Law-Abiding Citizen, for that matter. A surprising Blu-ray choice, to be sure. I once considered the title the most morally reprehensible thing I'd ever seen. Silly me, with To Be Twenty and Night Train Murders and so much more ahead!