Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Independence Daze

The Car

The appraisal guy at the service station that the car was towed to looked at the car and told me that it is probably junk. He may be right, but I don't trust mechanics. I want to get a second opinion, as everybody that was actually at the crash site seemed to agree that the car had only minor damage. It is possible that they just want the parts.

It is also possible that this is the end of The Zen Room. We'll find out on Tuesday, which is the first day that they're open.


The correct term for what it was I ran into the other day is a "rotary," not a "roundabout." The comment has been edited to reflect this.

Good News

From Film Score Monthly:
Scarecrow Press has agreed to publish a collection of Royal S. Brown's columns on film music, with the working title "Film Musings: A Selected Anthology." No release date has been announced.

For those who didn't know me back when I went to Queens in the first place, Royal was one of my professors who was instrumental in shaping how I percieve many aspects of the cinema. His "Film Musings" column in Fanfare magazine is one of the best film music review columns ever. He now writes for The Perfect Vision.


Suit has been introducing me to this show, a six-episode British miniseries starring Jack Davenport of Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, among other things.

The idea of the show is that the main characters are part of a very high-level government agency that deals with "Code Five" situations... they haven't actually used the "V" word, but Code Fives are allergic to sunlight, they can feed off of people, they have extremely long lives, they do not cast reflections, etc. etc. I hope we're all on the same page with what they're all about. Well, they've decided that their food supply (us) have developed too many methods of self-destruction, and that we haven't shown enough restraint in the application of said methods. They are organizing to take over in order to start controlling their heards.

The program is interesting not only because of the practical issues raised... surveillance of Code Fives is particularly difficult because they cast no reflections and do not show up on video monitors... but also because they get deep into social and moral issues that American television wouldn't touch with a ten-foot cattleprod. One episode features a woman who is impregnated by a Code Five, and manages to not only deal with the specific dramatic situation, but also many of the issues facing a pregnant woman in a new and engaging manner. That's only a small sample.

And they are also very high level spooks. They can orchestrate major changes in the lives of individuals with a simple phone call, and given the desperation of some of the situations they find themselves in, are not shy about doing so. The characters are also really well-written. Freed of the American need to make everybody likeable, the people on this show have a wide variety.

Sacrifice. Destiny. Choice.

As with X2, Spider-Man 2 is a continuation of the story of the previous film instead of a "next episode." This is made apparent by the brilliant title sequence, which presents paintings of major events from the first movie. That said, there is so much that is related from one film to the next that it is almost pointless to see the sequel without having seen the original.

The fact that it is literally a "Part 2" is one of the best aspects of the film, and it takes the more personal aspect of Spider-Man and expands it to a mythic level. This is apparent in how much higher the personal stakes have been raised for Peter Parker.

This mythification of Spider-Man is reflected in larger-scale heroics, more devastating drama, religious imagery and a wider aspect ratio. Given all this, it is easy to assume that the film would topple under its own weight, but it never does as the more melodramatic aspects are treated with a tongue-in-cheek air, and Sam Raimi keeps the camera focussed on Peter's internal struggle.

The mundane is a huge aspect of this film. Little things that must be annoying to a superhero are dealt with here ("[the suit] rides up a little in the crotch."), as is how difficult it must be to actually maintain a secret identity. Furthermore, Peter must make important decisions, and whichever way he turns, he pays in one form or another.

This "equal and opposite reaction" element of the film is one of its best attributes. Spider-Man is a costume Peter puts on, but the story is about Peter Parker, and Tobey Maguire's performance is outstanding. Because of the nature of his position, he is constantly being placed in situations in which he must say the opposite of what he wants to say, and Maguire makes it fly by contrasting Peter's innate sense of honesty with his need to cover up his crime-fighting. It works because Peter is not a good liar, having had such a positive upbringing.

The best scene in the film is between Peter and Aunt May, and I will not go into what occurs in the scene here, as it is a moment that needs to be enjoyed in context. Suffice it to say that the high casting standards - with the exception of Kirsten Dunst (who works decently enough in the role and has another rather enjoyable wet T-shirt moment) - have paid off.

Alfred Molina was great as Doctor Octopus. He is a scientist first and only performs crimes in order to follow his experiments. The character is tragic and flawed in a way that the Green Goblin could not be; Norman Osbourne was an ass to begin with while one genuinely likes Octavius, whose initial motivations are purely altruistic until a horrible tragedy causes him to become Doc Ock. An interesting twist has Octavius and Peter making a genuine human connection before the fall, which advances the development of both characters, albeit in different ways.

Dylan Baker shows up as Dr. Curt Connors, which according to Suit may be foreshadowing of the Lizard as one of the potential villains for the next movie, although probably not as the primary bad guy.

The film was shot in Super 35, but the print I saw looked quite good for that format, with saturated colors, minimal grain and a lot of detail. This is the first film of Sam Raimi's I saw that he shot for an aspect ratio wider than 1.66:1 or 1.85:1, and it makes me kind of wish that he had shot the Evil Dead movies in widescreen... I know, it wasn't possible, but this movie looks really good. I normally don't like it when a director changes aspect ratios from one film in a series to the next, but in this particular case, I have to say that it works. The more "intimate" shape of the 1.85:1 frame does work quite well in the first film, while the wider scope of the second film calls for 'Scope, and the 2.35:1 ratio is used quite well.

The SDDS sound was phenomenol.

If there was one problem I had with the film, it is that there is a big scene in which Doc Ock and Spidey duke it out on an elevated train line running through midtown Manhattan (with L.A. style stations, too). That's really annoying because the first film was actually rather geographically accurate.

Non-New Yorkers never get it right.

"That's quite all right, Brad.
I get called a Nazi all the time."

Dr. Scott!

I got to see Suit's Dr. Scott last night, along, of course, with the rest of the Rocky Horror Full Body Cast. I hadn't been to a theatrical Rocky Horror showing in many years, and it was great. Only a few people got my "Now and forever at the Wintergarden Theatre: Cats!" intro to "Super Heroes." Suit threw in his Dr. Strangelove mannerisms for me. Excellent.

I bought their "Bag-O-Shit" and will be saving the hat and noisemaker (the latter of which Suit loathes, by the way... I was thinking about using it to wake him up today, but the humor would be tempered I'm sure by the extreme pain that would be administered to me by Suit when he figures out what happened). If I am still here by the end of the week (depending upon what happens with my car), I will be most eager to see it again.

The cast is very friendly as well.

I'm really glad that this print had "Super Heroes" in it. The print I saw in New York did, and I was shocked when the film came out on video and it wasn't there. Of course, the current DVD corrects this... although unfortunately Fox has re-released it as a single disc. If you can find the 2-disc set, get it.

Kato Rocks

Tags: cinema, travels
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