Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Living on no budget is easier the second time around, partly because I paid my rent out through the end of the year, so that stress doesn't exist this time around, but mostly because my computer works this time around, so I can make my beloved mix CDs. Of course, the Jerry Goldsmith box set was a particularly important and involved project, one which I am very happy with, although note to self: Do not listen to the horror music compilation while walking outside in the middle of the night again as every innocuous street corner suddenly turned into a seething mass of potential evil. Though that was a great formal project (one which I was emotionally as well as artistically committed), sometimes I put together strange rumblings from my subconcious, and an example of that found its way to the burner a few days ago (details below). These simple one-offs are often projects with no future (that is to say, I listen to them, maybe throw them at a friend of mine or two, but don't intend to keep them long), but they can be very therapeutic for me.

The other interesting thing is that I have been cooking a bit. Nothing that would win at Iron Chef, to be sure, but nevertheless, this bachelor has found that it is actually kind of interesting to experiment with things that taste good by themselves to see if they taste good in tandem. That doesn't sound like much, but it is a big deal to me, as I have never had the patience (or interest, really) in preparing food for myself. I haven't actually bothered to follow a recipe yet, but I have made some nice discoveries that I plan to recreate. This isn't really earth-shattering news, I guess, but I am having a pretty good time with the stove for the first time in my life.

School starts in a couple of days, which will be a nice change of pace.

Different Strokes

Despite the knowledge that Quentin Tarantino will be releasing a multi-disc uber-edition of the Kill Bill movies (hopefully as Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair, its original version which was shown at Cannes), Tim bought the current DVDs of the two volumes. Friday night, he, Dave and I sat down to watch both films. If this sounds like a great idea, well, it is. Tim and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. The saga of The Bride is all the more intense when seen together, and Uma Thurman's performance is so focussed and substantial. Her shock at the end of Volume Two upon finding the surprise awaiting her at Bill's hacienda is palpable, and the obstacles she encounters while fighting her way to Bill gives her the redemption she never sought but needs for the clean slate she doesn't know that she requires for her future with her final reward. And Bill knows it. The mythic implications are staggering.

Dave hated it.

It should be noted that, in addition to not having seen the Kill Bill volumes before, he has never seen a Quentin Tarantino film at all. This is interesting, because that meant that he saw the fallout without the catalyst (I don't have the time or inclination to go into exactly how influential Pulp Fiction was for the latter portion of the nineties, but I kind of figure that most people are keenly aware of that fact), and I do happen to believe that there is a certain ramp-up from Reservoir Dogs to Kill Bill. Granted, Kill Bill has the least amount of substance of all of his films, a fact well-hidden by Uma's brilliant performance (I would say that Jackie Brown is the film that is the deepest), and Dave has a point when he says that there are many filmmakers whose work can easily be viewed in any order - although I protest that a filmmaker's work is always best understood in context of their body of work - in this case, I have to say that Tarantino has, indeed, managed to create his own world (and most have gotten it, which is why the films are so popular) and that one's Kill Bill experience is poorer for not having said context. Dave, however, says he was offended by the film and wished that he could take the four hours it took to watch it back. Wow.

The fact is, I can't really fault him for his opinion, not only because he's entitled to it, but because his main complains - that the characters were vacuous and that the violence was pornographically over-the-top - are true. I can only say that the rest of us have been conditioned by his previous pictures to accept this and allow the story to take us where it goes, having as much adolescent fun as possible.


In Theaters:

The Manchurian Candidate

Okay, first off, don't see it without seeing the original first. One of the main pleasures of this new movie is its relationship to the classic John Frankenheimer film, the zags when it is expected to zig. While there are some moments that are over the top, where the first film concentrated on the labyrinthine plotting, this new one works for a queasy paranoia. The methods by which the cold-war elements have been updated are quite good, and the political environment that the film takes place in is uncomfortably familiar. A particularly well-done jab is made at Fox News with the TV coverage; all flash and graphics, no substance. Politicians behave like politicians, which is a nice touch. Interestingly, some of the more icky implications of the original film are carried over to this one, but are not played out (there are a few, but the possibly incestuous relationship, which is explicit in Richard Condon's novel, isn't literalized here, either). Jonathan Demme has not yet made a follow-up to Silence of the Lambs*, but he has crafted an intelligent thriller, although it does have some silly histrionics from time to time. It would have been nice if the movie had been a bit more ambiguous as to whether or not Denzel Washington's character is crazy or not, an idea which the film flirts with but never really manages to make a possibility for the viewer.

Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle

Okay, be forewarned, this is one of those films where you find yourself laughing hysterically at things that you know you shouldn't be laughing at (Battleshits!?!). It is also a film that should on no account be seen sober. The story is quite simple. In fact, it's all in the title. It does, however, play brilliantly with racial stereotypes and expectations, and places the titular protagonists in some really weird places. Neil Patrick Harris is rapidly becoming an anti-suck factor, I should note (how did that happen). Listen, any movie that could have such uplifting music under a scene of two stoners finally making it to a White Castle is just... something...

Now, whatever Wolfram & Hart black magic it is that they put in the burgers to give you that "crave" is somehow present in the film. If you do see the movie, make sure that there is a frickin' White Castle somewhere around.


Ghost World

I have often wondered why Thora Birch doesn't get more work when she has so much obvious talent. Obviously some of the reason is that here talents are rather specific. Ghost World is a perfect vehicle for them. Her exterior is constantly changing in an attempt to find herself, hopefully, but not too successful, at hiding the turmoil within (she is introduced dancing to "Jaan Pehechaan Ho," a musical number from the Bollywood film Gundam, showcasing the eclectic nature of her rebellion). Her character is very confused, made all the more isolated by her growing distance from Scarlett Johannsen's character, into whose life she is no longer fitting. She has a synergy with a character played by Steve Buscemi, but it is a relationship with no future, and she knows this. Director Terry Zwigoff is quite good at balancing Birch's reactions with what is happening to her, and one understands her enough never to lose sympathy for her, even when she does questionable things. The film also doesn't have pat answers to difficult questions.

This film would make a great double-bill with The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, which, while not inspired by a comic book as this film has been, involves them has a similar, though masculine aesthetic.

Girl With A Pearl Earring

Scarlett Johannsen, Colin Firth and Tom Wilkinson are fantastic in this film, which features beautiful production values (including wonderful production design by Peter Greenaway's regular designer Ben Von Os, painterly cinematography by Eduardo Serra and a gorgeous Alexandre Desplat score), but unfortunately, while it is accurately billed as the story of a painting, it is, unfortunately, nothing more than that. While there is a connection made between Vermeer and his model, it doesn't go anywhere. I don't mean that their mutual understanding would have had to get sexual to be interesting, in fact, I laud the film for not going that easy route, but the story doesn't really gel and the characters don't have much of a chance to develop. Nevertheless, the film is worth seeing if for no reason than for what it looks and sounds like, but that's really all it has.

The Jackal

Michael Caton-Jones' witty thriller, a remake of The Day of the Jackal, benefits from it's intelligent cat-and-mouse chase, although the relationship between Sidney Poitier and Richard Gere could have used some fleshing out. Bruce Willis gets to don a whole bunch of disguises, and he looks like he's having great fun. The film isn't all that deep, but it is great entertainment.

When did Sidney Poitier become a "below the title" performer? I mean, this is Sidney freakin' Poitier! Maybe he isn't quite the box-office draw that he was when he was younger, but that doesn't stop many other actors from having one of those "and John Smith as Joe Blow" credits. No, it really is just because he's black.

The Human Stain

I kind of rented this on a whim, because the reviews of this movie were godawful. I was in for a pleasant surprise, though. Even though it is quite ham-handed in its social commentary, the performances are so good that it is still an enjoyable picture to watch. There is very little, if any, connection between the main storyline and the flashback storyline (the novel was able to draw more parallels, I have heard), but the movie is interesting (I don't believe Nicole Kidman as po' white trash for a minute, though) and Rachel Portman's score is beautiful.

* Despite all its accolades, I'm sorry, folks, but Philadelphia was a product of its time, Hollywood playing at being responsible and attacking (with kid gloves) a sensitive topic that it felt it had to do. This film has dated significantly since it first came out, and if you believe Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas as a gay couple, I have the deed to this really nice bridge...

I'm planning on putting together a lexicon of my cinemalogical terms. This should, eventually, include numerical values for the suck and anti-suck factors, as well as the Retard-O-Tastic rating system.



Okay, I'll admit, I have no idea what this mix is about, or why I made it. It is just a bunch of tracks that I thought might sound cool in context of one another. Whether that is true or not is something I, at the moment, am unable to answer. This is definitely one of the wierder mixes I have made. Usually, I keep the lines of pop and film music very separate, but in this case I was looking for a particular... something. Perhaps a better title for the thing would be "I don't know what." Because I don't.

1. Simon Boswell - It's Horrible... I Love It... What Is It? (2:44)
Written by Simon Boswell
Sampling Stacey Travis' dialogue Written by Richard Stanley
From the film Hardware

Folk Implosion - Wet Stuff (3:49)
Written by Lou Barlow, John Davis & Willy Gagell
From the film Kids

Georg Frederich Handel - Sarabande (4:05)
Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Leonard Rosenman
From the film Barry Lyndon

Portishead - Strangers (3:54)
Written by Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons & Adrian Utley
Sampling Weather Report's "Elegant People" Written by Wayne Shorter
From the album Dummy

Traditional - The Market (2:00)
Arranged by Michael Small
From the film Mountains of the Moon

The RZA - The Crane (0:50)
Written by the RZA
From the film Kill Bill: Volume 1

Thomas Newman - Root Beer (1:00)
Written by Thomas Newman
From the film American Beauty

Butthole Surfers - Pepper (4:51)
Written by Butthole Surfers
From the album Electric Larryland

John Murphy - In the House (3:19)
Written by John Murphy
From the film 28 Days Later

Malcolm Mclaren - About Her (4:43)
Written by Malcolm McLaren & W.C. Handy
Sampling the Zombie' "She's Not There" Written by Rob Argent
From the film Kill Bill: Volume 2

David Newman - Petition Montage (2:23)
Written by David Newman
From the film Heathers

John Carpenter & Alan Howarth - The Bank Robbery (3:24)
Written by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
From the film Escape from New York

Shirley Bassey - Big Spender (Wild Oscar Mix) (4:43)
Written by Dorothy Fields, Cy Coleman and Campbell Connelly
From the album Shirley Bassey: The Remixes

David Motion & Sally Potter - Pavanne (2:36)
Written by David Motion & Sally Potter
From the film Orlando

Angelo Badalamenti - Moving Through Time (6:32)
Written by Angelo Badalamenti
From the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

The Propellerheads - Better? (2:02)
Written by Will White
From the album Decksanddrumsandrockandroll

Terry Tucker - Overture To the Sun (1:40)
Written by Terry Tucker
Track of unknown origin used in A Clockwork Orange

Basil Poledouris - Driving (1:49)
Performed by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra Conducted by Basil Poledouris
From the film Cherry 2000

The Dust Brothers Featuring Brad Pitt - This Is Your Life (3:30)
Written by Michael Simpson & John King
Monologue Written by Chuck Palahniuk
From the film Fight Club

G E N T L E M E N ,
Welcome To Fight Club

If this is your first night,
you HAVE to fight

And you open the door and you step inside.
We're inside our hearts.
Now imagine that your pain is a white ball of healing light.
That's right... your pain.
The pain itself is a white ball of healing light.

I don't think so.

This is your life, good to the last drop.
It doesn't get any better than this.
This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.

This isn't a seminar, this isn't a weekend retreat.
Where you are now, you can't even imagine what the bottom will be like.

Only after disaster can we be resurrected.
It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything.

Nothing is static.
Everything is evolving.
Everything is falling apart.

This is your life.
It doesn't get any better than this.
This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake!
You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else!
We are all part of the same compost heap.
We are the all-seeing, all-dancing crap of the world.

You are not your bank account.
You are not the clothes you wear.
You are not the contents of your wallet.
You are not your bowel cancer.
You are not your grande latte.
You are not the car you drive.
You are not your fucking khakis!!!

You have to give up.
You have to realize that some day, you will die.
Until you realize that, you are useless.

I say, let me never be complete.
I say, may I never be content.
I say, deliver me from Swedish furniture.
I say, deliver me from clever art.
I say, deliver me from clear skin and perfect teeth.
I say, you have to give up.
I say, evolve, and let the chips fall where they may.

This is your life.
It doesn't get any better than this.
This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.

- Chuck Palahniuk

I've been avoiding the video store for the past couple of days. Some of the reason is obviously because of the Buffy and Angel DVDs that Tim has loned to me, but mostly because between the last time I was not working with no money and earlier this summer, I have mined the catalogue section and must wait for a decent new release... and we all know how rare that is. What is interesting about the new release wall is that it consists mostly of films that aren't even meant to be any good. I don't mean Harold and Kumar not even supposed to be good, I mean movies that nobody could ever possibly imagine as being worth a damn. There is, indeed, a fine line between a movie that the filmmakers are trying to make good and fail, such as The Butterfly Effect, and those that are just exploitive... I know firsthand the difficulty involved in trying to make art, but at the same time I do know that there are some projects that just are dumb.
Tags: cinema, my mixes

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