Monthly Archives: January 2009

save the cat! goes to india. and china.

I dragged my lady friend to see this with me, which was probably not the best idea, because she has taste. She was entirely game for the experience, but emerged less than thrilled. I cannot explain this, any more than I can explain my own childish reaction. For me, the experience was basically


Because really, in a movie where the main character gets kicked literally across the city by his stern dad, where someone invents a remote control technology to make people dance in different styles, where there’s a Bollywood production number in the middle of the Forbidden City… in a movie where an Indian guy with a Borat mustache squares off against the great Gordon Liu, in a movie featuring the first fight scenes ever filmed on the Great Wall…. I don’t know…. I kind of don’t care if it makes sense or is well-structured in the sense that a Hollywood script is supposed to be well-structured. (Underwhelmed Lady Friend: “They put the training montage two hours into the movie! Come on!!” Me: “But there was kung fu! And dancing! And a computer-animated fighting potato!”)

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have you ever seen a one-trick pony?

JCVD, the story of washed-up martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme caught up in a post office robbery, is largely a comedy — or at least, the audience that I saw it with laughed more than we did anything else. But, as with First Blood, there’s a monologue in this movie that elevates it way beyond its genre trappings. And El-Mechri cleverly acknowledges that this monologue, which happens around the midpoint of the film, is both in and out of character by bodily removing Van Damme from the physical environment of the movie for about four minutes. It’s a simple, bold gesture and a devastating performance from Van Damme, a self-scourging exploration of his public persona as well as a brittle rejoinder to a public that can’t leave celebrities the hell alone. The theater I was in fell absolutely silent.

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prayers holy and secular

Rick Warren’s inaugural invocation reminds me of how strange it always is for me as a Baha’i to hear my Protestant brothers and sisters pray, whether extemporaneously or from a prepared text. Having grown up reciting prayers written by Baha’u’llah … Continue reading

Posted in America, community, democracy, poetry, religion | 3 Comments

a random gob of links

So I updated my sidebar, finally, adding Nina’s hilarious cartoon adventures as well as Mom’s new blog and my brain’s life-support system, WNYC’s Radiolab. I left the “Support Wikipedia” link at the top because everybody should. Come on. If you … Continue reading

Posted in community, Housekeeping, the environment | 2 Comments

dream sequences

This is basically how I feel about the end of In Bruges: There’s no denying that Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson are some good damned actors, though.

Posted in filmmaking, tasteless | 3 Comments

a bicycle built by two

The Bicycle Kitchen is one of those things that makes me glad to be living in L.A. A not-for-profit “educational center,” the Bicycle Kitchen will not — as I heard the employees patiently explain perhaps half a dozen times while … Continue reading

Posted in adventure, California, community, economics | 2 Comments

roundup (as in cattle)

I don’t really do best-of lists anymore, because I don’t even see all the mainstream movies that come out, let alone all the odd little gems. This year was worse than most, because I was in Iraq until June. So … Continue reading

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