Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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A kaleidescope of a day

I have a lot of material to cover in this entry, so I'm going to start off with a basic health update: it's been a fairly busy day and I have had no problems whatsoever... other than the fact that I'm coming down with a cold. It's a perfectly normal, garden variety cold, but it is rather annoying to be coming out of the aftermath of surgery only to immediately get something so inane. Harrumph.

Well, on the other hand, Lenny, Mad Mike and I went to Don Quixote's on Merrick Road, where we had an excellent repast. The beauty of this was that there was food on the menu that I could eat; I started off with some mussels and then had a dish consisting of grilled chicken, green peppers and onions, and we had a pitcher of some delicious sangria (the citrus fruit in which actually helped out immensely with the cold). Tasty and concious!




Vinyl hunting was quite a success, with Mike and I finding quite a few rather decent deals (he nabbed the copy of Sticky Fingers with the zipper crotch, though, which I think was probably the best find among both of us - I got the Sly and the Family Stone record, though). My only disappointment is that I can't just toss one on right now. My parents have unfortunately gone the way of most families and abandoned their phonograph. Of course, the irony of that is such similar actions across the board has freed up quite a few gems on vinyl. My best find was a good copy of the Beatles EP Hey Jude, which is available on the Past Masters Volume 2, but sounding like complete shit. This was actually the first Beatles album I heard on wax over at Frankie's quite a while ago, and it was the first instance where I realized how different the LPs sound from the CDs. I also picked up a copy of Led Zeppelin II 'cause something tells me that it's gonna rock on vinyl. This is gonna be good...

Meanwhile, I got my first listen in Mike's car at Scabdates, the new live album by the Mars Volta; it is a pretty wild ride, mostly material from the Tremulant EP and de-loused in the crematorium, but nothing from Frances the Mute. The track listing itself is somewhat suspect, as they jam out and change course quite often. This is all to the benefit of the final program, though. One of the main advantages to the open-ended style that the Mars Volta have established is that sense of adventure when one hears something new from them for the first time; it literally can go anywhere. And frequently does. I'm ripping it to my Nomad as I type this.




I also managed to accomplish almost an entire gender's worth of holiday shopping as well. I found gifts for Zach, Steve, my grandfather and Tim all in one swell foop. Happily, I got in tonight after they all went to bed, so neither Steve nor Zach have seen their gifts. I'll wrap them tomorrow.




I also finally saw the director's cut of Donnie Darko. Now, I had liked the film when I originally saw it, but I also listened to the commentary track where writer/director Richard Kelly emphasized the science fiction element of the film. I found my reading of it to be much different, that Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) was, indeed, experiencing a slip in the space-time continuum, but that he himself is also severely disturbed. Kelly insisted that this was not the case. I honestly felt that it was a case where the director's grasp on a work may not have been as strong as his audience's. Well, I was mistaken.

Don't get me wrong, the director's cut has not changed my mind about Donnie's mental state, but it does outline the story much better, and to my surprise, the effect is completely different but no less powerful. In fact, some scenes - such as and perhaps especially the finale, which worked in the original version but were merely odd, now actually have an emotional resonance that they didn't have in the original version of the film. The director's cut uses a device with The Philosophy of Time Travel that is visually similar to Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books to outline many of the main points of the story. I initially disliked this, but over time as I began to see how the story was playing out in their context, I began to really dig how the director's cut was working.

I was not expecting to like it, but I found that it was an improvement over the original version. The more abstract nature of the original had its own specific charm, but this is clearly the film that Kelly intended to make, and I have to say that though some of the changes were a little disconcerting at first, once I got into the groove of this one I enjoyed it very much.

I still think that Donnie's a mess before the film even begins, though. It is my theory that his mental condition has made him more sensitive to the opening of the parallel universe, and the ripples his continued existance is having on the continuum.




There's a scene towards the end of Walk the Line in which Johnny Cash (Joachim Phoenix) accuses June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) of being afraid of living in his shadow. One can debate whether or not she ended up doing just that, but one thing is for sure, she sure isn't in his shadow in this movie.

No, the movie is not about Johnny Cash. It's about Johnny and June, but the music always remains a the center of the drama. In fact, one could say that the film is about how June and Johnny's bond, formed through music saved Cash from self-destruction. The film is quite mature in its approach to their connection, which is very refreshing, and the two stars do have some amazing chemistry with one another. It certainly is wonderful to be seeing Reese Witherspoon actually doing something with her copious talents again, and who knew she had a set of pipes like that!?!

Witherspoon is in all ways Pheonix's equal on the screen. While this type of film might well buckle with that sort of challenge to its central performance, the emphasis on their relationship in Gill Dennis and James Mangold's screenplay fits it perfectly naturally into the fabric of the film, and Pheonix is very matter-of-fact in his performance, matching her energy level effortlessly - Cash is one of the few personas of this type that one can point at as being decidedly unbling. The result is a convincing and unsentimental portrait of friendship, which is quite refreshing in an point in the cinematic medium's development where lust is more easily conveyed. The use of familiar Cash songs to advance the story is well done, and completely appropriate given the central role in Cash and Carter's lives that the music played, and ultimately how it defined them as individuals.

The film is very straightforward, following the same path that several music figure pictures have as they are practically their own subgenre of biopic by now. If the film has a flaw it is that outside of the Cash/Carter relationship it is ultimately a conventional example of its form. To be frank, with performances this good, it's not really that big of a flaw. I will say that it doesn't convey time passing as well as it could; the film spans about twenty years and change, but it doesn't really feel that way. It is, however, extremely well-paced, and the ending was a damn sight more satisfying than the sudden cut-off that concluded last year's Ray.

Larry Bagby - yes, Larry from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - plays Marshall Grant. Weird!
Tags: beatles, cinema, food, reviews, rock, rolling stones
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