Allow myself to reintroduce…myself.
I am posting on this site now.
Couldn’t find the video clip (damn copyright laws), but you all know the line.
Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen.
No cannonball. In the literal sense at least.
This will be my last post on this site. From here on out, you will be directed (and hopefully direct others) to a brand new, super stylized, way snazzier, and much more top notch site. I spoke about this very briefly in my last post, but since that time, the site has been constructed and is ready for lift off. But, ever one for timing, I’ve decided to hold off on its launch. As a Christmas present to myself, the site will debut in two days. I have a new podcast lined up for this weekend, so that will be the first post on the new site. Other than an introductory one, that is. I hope you all are even half excited as I am about this, and if not, here’s a taste below (small computer = small screen shots). Enjoy your time with your loved ones, and Merry Christmas to all.
If twentysomethings end up taking this movie to heart, odds are that won’t be because it’s the smartest dramatization of a real-life ordeal since Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn. They’ll flock to it because it’s their story, too — one they can identify with, even if the only canyon they’ve ever seen is Wall Street. Or so this member of the gamy generation that screwed up their lives suspects, anyway. Sorry about the boulder, kids, and good luck getting out.
I have two rules for writing up a movie review. First, if I know I’m going to see something and have any intention of reviewing it, I stay clear of anyone’s work until after I’ve seen the film. It’s far too easy to have your opinion swayed by reading somebody’s well written argument before going in. And even worse, I don’t want to have a word or phrase subconsciously copied because of doing so. This happens a lot with sports pundits. You may hear or read a particular point that you either like or makes sense. Now when discussing that given sports topics with friends, you quote this pundit, without giving credit to his or her point. It’s your point now. I try and avoid this at all costs. My second rule is that in order for something to warrant a review, I must see it either the weekend it comes out, shortly after. Naturally, these rules lend themselves to one another (I can’t read all that much on something that just came out, or, if a movie has been out for a while, I most likely have conceded any chance at a review, and dug into it’s Rotten Tomatoes page).
I broke both of these rules for “127 Hours.” I purchased the November issue of GQ at an airport, as I’ve been known to do. I referenced it’s Glee cover story a couple of posts ago, and after seeing “127 Hours,” I searched and searched for the above quotation. I eventually realized it was in the same issue.
“127 Hours” first popped up on my pop culture radar with the release of the trailer, and excitement that went along with seeing Danny Boyle’s name attached. Then it was a topic of conversation on the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast (which comes with my co-sign) in which all participants praised the film. It sprung up again when listening to another podcast favorite, Extra Hot Great, and needless to say, I was all in. Except that it wasn’t playing in Orlando, anywhere. So that second rule I have about catching a flick on the opening weekend, was hard to gauge. When “127 Hours” did open near me, would the timetable of relevancy have passed?(Actually, yes, Black Swan has taken it’s place.)
But here’s the thing. This movie is gripping, intense, exhilarating, uncomfortable, so spectacularly shot, presented, and acted, that I needed to go back and read the GQ piece once again. It reaffirmed both Boyle’s and Franco’s brilliance, and that last final passage, the one I included at the top of this post struck me with extra meaning. Maybe I was influenced by it in the very same fashion I typically try to avoid, but something did “resonate” with me. As Franco is stuck there, hours, maybe minutes away from death, he considers his life; the errors he made more immediately (ie: neglecting to tell anyone where he was going because he was ‘fine by himself”), and what he would fail to accomplish having met his demise (ie: a son).
Carson draws the metaphor that the boulder which pins Franco’s arm, trapping him with no escape insight, is akin to the economic climate left for a college graduate like say, I don’t know, myself. I struggled to find a fully satisfying writing job right out of college, and this struggle is what in large part gave way to this blog. And my experience is not uncommon. Unemployment “for Americans with at least a bachelors degree rose to 5.1%, the highest since 1970.” There is no denying the cumbersome task of realizing your dream these days. Hell, even just surviving.
So what are the options? I’m not so certain there is a metaphorical arm to cut off here, but the resiliency Franco portrayed can be a powerful motivating force. With that, I urge everyone to go see “127 Hours.” The ‘scene’ is not all that bad, and unless you have a weak stomach, it shouldn’t bother you that much. Meanwhile, I’ll be trying my best to overcome my boulder, starting with a new and improved blog and web page on the way. I don’t want to divulge too many secrets (mostly because I don’t even know them yet), but expect something special.
Welcome to holiday no man’s land. The Hanukkah lights have been extinguished, which means some of us have received our gifts. Other though, have two weeks until the unwrapping comenses. And then there are the lucky ones who hail from multi-denominational homes where Holiday joy comes in two doses.
Regardless of your preference in festival, you will inevitably be faced with the decision of figuring out which material possessions best suit your loved ones. What shit do they want the most? But gift giving is more complex than that. It’s not just about what someone wants to get, its what you want to give them. Timmy may like a crossbow for Christmas (the natural evolution of the BB gun) but Timmy’s parents don’t want Patches the tabby house cat to be little Tim’s first casualty. That’s why board games were always my household go to for whenever I was invited to a birthday party. It promotes family bonding! It’s not a violent video game or worse, a CD with a parental advisory label on it!!
So, if you’re anything like me, you scour gift guides of reputable sources (GQ, Vulture) to see if anything jumps out and screams Aunt Kristie. What’s the message I want to send with my gift? And then it hits you like a stack of books — I want to promote reading. There are enough sections in a book store to be able to address everyone’s differing interests, and a quick look at a Best List is all it takes to know what’s going to stir conversation and encourage, dare I say it, thinking.
I ordered three books recently, all of which could not be more different than the next. 1. The Big Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by Bill Simmons. This massive 752 page ode to hoops recently (Dec. 7) came out in paperback, and being a fan of his first, his columns and podcasts, and basketball, this purchase was inevitable. Got a dad or brother who loves sports and could use a dose of literature into his life? Turn to Simmons. He’s funny, thorough, and has a pretty awesome name.
2. Freedom by Jonathan Frazen. Honestly got this on the sole fact that it’s on so many Best of 2010 lists. If you clicked on that link I provided earlier, you would know that this is atop their fiction selections. If Mom prefers snuggling up with a book over the remote, and tends to follow Oprah‘s instructions pretty closely, then she may take to this one quickly.
3. I’m hesitant to divulge this last one because it’s intended to be given to someone who most certainly will be reading this sentence before said gift is delivered. Let’s say this. I recently read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Part 1 of her young adult trilogy that takes place in a post apocalyptic America ruled by a sadistic tyrannical government and upper class. I read it in a week’s time, with 80% of my consumption taking place over 48 hours. It’s that good. That niece or nephew or cousin you have that either loves books or has difficulty finding one they can truly dive into? The Hunger Games works both ways.
And the best part about giving a book as a gift? Reading it yourself. This may sound selfish, but it will provide for great discussion for you and this new owner of a beautiful hardcover. Plus what say’s ‘I’m someone who is interested in furthering myself to the point that I’m slightly pretentious but you still can’t argue with that fact that what I’m doing is noble and sadly rare’ more than reading a book. Give the gift of reading this holiday season. And thank you for reading this and any other posts. I would say that this is my gift to you, but then I’d be more than slightly pretentious.
Back up north. But before I could make any kind of triumphant return to New York, we first had a quick stay in New Haven. My first time in Connecticut, and yet I’m spelling it correctly already. With captions.
Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has been out for a week now. Longer if you scooped up the leak. If you’ve paid any attention to the mass critical acclaim, you know the album is being heralded as a classic. Perfect rating from Rolling Stone. Perfect rating from XXL. Praise is raining down.
So I held off on a review. Waiting to pick it up retail style, I was behind most, and with everyone deconstructing the disc so beautifully, I figured my commentary would be rendered either redundant, pointless, or both.
Until a buddy asked me what my thoughts were and I realized that with so many posts leading up to the release it would be at the very least inconsistent to not say anything. So, rather than write up a review, and restate what has already been said many times over (“this album is nothing short of great”) here are 16 notes, observations, and thoughts on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:
I haven’t seen a movie since The Social Network nearly 7 weeks ago. A truly unacceptable streak for someone as stimulated by pop culture and entertainment as me. But aside from Due Date and Jackass 3D, which I only had mild interest in, the recent string of releases was significantly underwhelming. Enter Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows: Part 1.
The difficult part about reviewing HP7a or even expressing my general viewpoint of it, is that, as a non-reader, I feel ill equipped picking it apart. Even having seen all of the films, this still feels like a franchise unintended for me.
First, a history of my relationship with Harry Potter. My brother, who hasn’t gotten a blog shout out since late June, loved the books in the same fashion that many young readers did. I tried to pick up the first book, and even got a few pages into it, but for whatever reason, I was left unaffected. I was in a very heavy sports non-fiction reading phase around this time.
When the first movie came out in 2001 I was in 8th grade, and as part of an English field trip, we went to see it in theaters. How I saw the next few escapes my memory, but I know that I saw them and liked them enough to want to see the next. Fast forward to let’s say the 4th or 5th, and I was now taking my brother to see each installment. As a youngster, he couldn’t drive himself.
I distinctly remember seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the Cherry Hill AMC because out of all the pre-screening schedules I was sent in my Review days, I never capitalized on the marginally better treatment I received as press. I saw HP6 two days early, and drove an hour south (got lost, too) to do so.
But that was the last time I saw it. As I sat in the theater watching Deathly Hollows part 1, I kept thinking maybe I should have brushed up. I catch the older ones on ABC Family every now and then, but still, I can’t remember one time I intently watched a Harry Potter film besides when it was in theaters.
So here I was, in theaters again, watching the latest chapter in this wizardly tale. This film was abundantly bleak, which from my quick memory jogging, seems to follow the elevating sense of doom. Each film gets progressively darker, with this one making young eyed Harry, white landscapes, and jolly fun Quidditch games a thing of the distant past. This is a very adult version of Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, with real serious dire problems facing them. No more dances or big feasts on the horizon. The collision between Harry and Voldemort is inevitable and as we near closer to that climax, things do not look in Harry’s favor. Muggles and wizards alike are panicking, ole Voldy grows more powerful with every day, and Harry and friends are lost in the woods (sometimes, literally).
Certain scenes made even a non-Potterfile like myself excited; the undercover mission in the Ministry of Magic for instance. But for a 2 and a half hour film, there were also scenes that were frustratingly either irrelevant or slow. There are many sit and contemplate moments, and the dancing scene was almost laughable. The movie never really felt long though.
As for any further commentary, I’m afraid I can’t scrutinize properly. I just hope this one’s fresh in my mind come July 15, 2011. My brother tells me Part 1 was his favorite thus far, so if part 2 is the satisfying conclusion readers are hoping for, then I’m sure I’ll like it just fine.