Site Index
Updated Recently

May 01, 17:12: Today, May 1st: This is what I'm doing this May day. Get up, make an espresso, eat ...

Apr 12, 16:29: Amazing Lou Reed: I hate "Amazing Grace". "I'm Set Free" by The Velvet Underground ...

Apr 10, 08:56: tonic, speed, and no names: Wrote this the other day but was offline so posting it now. Went t...

Apr 08, 19:40: unpacking at new place: For years I have been telling people that I don't own much stuff. T...

Apr 04, 11:33: Playlist inspired by The Perm and The Skullet: Been getting introduced to a lot of good music recently by this blog...

Mar 19, 09:56: I am sitting in a room: I have been listening to this recording by Alvin Lucier, I Am Sittin...

Notes on a critique of Inside Man by Spike Lee and Russell Gewirtz.

last mod: Thu Nov 1 18:10:26 2007 by J

This review relates to: Inside Man, a Spike Lee Joint

Rating: 84/100;

Saw this recently. Also saw the film The Bourne Ultimatum. The latter was identical to the TV show '24'.

Inside Man appears to be Spike Lee's most mainstream joint. Men, and a woman (Jodie Foster) meet in rooms (and a park, and an SUV, and a trailer) and jockey for control. There are cops. There are guns and there is violence. There is the everpresent (in American film and TV drama) theme of work.

Denzel, as Detective Keith Frazier does his job, worries about his job, The bank president got his job in a troubling way. Jodie Foster as Madeleine White (what's up with that name?) is very good at her job. She relishes it. She tells the Mayor how to do his job.

Something is going on in Inside Man that doesn't happen in other American films. People are learning as the story progresses. The central plot line is Detective Frazier, thinking considering, studying and learning. Testing, even. "What happens if I do this, or say this," his character thinks. So he experiments.

Around him, people behave the way people behave (in real life). Willem Defoe as Captain John Darius starts off as a hardass and eases up. The construction worker says, OK, and calls his estranged wife. The SWAT team member makes a suggestion and the course of action of the film is changed. It was a good suggestion. Creative. The Sikh eases up, but he still wants his turban. The sergeant first on the scene starts with the racist talk, and relents slightly after Denzel's criticism, though he is still a racist. I don't think anyone's accepted criticism in a mainstream American film since 1986. Maybe in a comedy.

So what's going on here? Spike Lee and Russell Gewirtz start with stock. Bank robbers. Cops. Then he focuses. He distills. Nobody gets shot. Nobody fuckin dies.

Denzel focuses on a problem and does not figure it out. Clive Owen creates a mystery and keeps creating. Denzel never, though he keeps playing, gets it - until the end of the film. There is a real and a symbolic handoff.

What's up with the cough? Denzel has a cough. A reference to 9/11?

I'm thinking about another scene between Denzel and the sergeant. "Thank you officer. You can leave as soon as bla bla bla." "I think I'll stick around." Denzel: "OK."

Holy shit. Spike and Gewirtz just destroyed "The Bourne Ultimatum". They called it a kid's movie.

These notes are all over the place. So is the movie. I didn't mind.

Notes on a critique of Inside Man by Spike Lee and Russell Gewirtz. is filed under (11) (18) .

Cigarettes and Coffee

last mod: Mon Sep 3 22:57:07 2007 by J

This review relates to: The movie Cigarettes and Coffee

Rating: 24/100;

This movie is total bullshit.

Hipsters of Jim Jarmusch's generation think that the 1950s are cool.

Taylor Meade and Steven Wright are the high points, like bumps on the floor of the Mariana Trench. It's interesting to think about why they manage to stick their heads out of this shitpile. Interesting for a little while. What would be more interesting is if Jim Jarmusch had something to say.

P.S. The Bourne Ultimatum sucked too.

Cigarettes and Coffee is filed under (18) (11) .

The Departed

last mod: Mon Aug 20 09:43:37 2007 by J

This review relates to: The Departed

Rating: 25/100;

The Departed is a multi-act, star-filled version of the standard television cop drama, in which white guys in suits scream at each other on cell phones and burst into rooms to argue about who's in charge.

Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson playing an aging mobster, and Matt Damon plays the beluga whale-faced corrupt cop with a distracting Boston accent. Alec Baldwin plays his character from Glengarry Glen Ross. Delivering slightly better performances are Leonardo DeCaprio, as the slightly twitchy undercover cop, Martin Sheen doing a reliable senior officer performance, and Mark Wahlberg as the distractingly-coiffed sidekick to Martin Sheen.

I get the idea that Martin Scorcese used a lot of the scenes to sell the movie to the leads. Picture Jack Nicholson's agent explaining that Jack needs to have a scene where he alternately rubs his face and makes strange expressions then bursts into action and scares everyone. Please retire. Picture selling a character's range of emotion as a contract point.

Lou Lumenick of the Post says,

The profanity-laced but witty and literate dialogue by William Monahan ("Kingdom of Heaven") is delivered by a brilliantly chosen cast, almost all of whom are operating at the very top of their game.
and, aside from the dialogue being witty and literate, I agree with him. The whole thing is like a fucking game. It's like moviemaking as football. The next day you can discuss the plays with the people at work.

It's Scorcese's fault that the whole movie sucks. Movies are about quotable scenes now, and he's fallen into the Tarantino trap. Tarantino without irony. It ends up being about nothing. When the bloody final act plays out, and main characters die one after another, there's almost a complete lack of drama, because it doesn't really mean anything. There's no larger truth. Themes of trust, identity, destiny, professionalism, and power run through the central story, yet Scorcese fails to make this a film about anything more than a bunch of dudes fucking each other over. Two men grow up in a bad part of Boston. They both become cops. Evil, in the form of Jack Nicholson, sways one but not the other. Why? Who knows? Does anyone care?

Scorcese inserts himself as well, as a meta character. We are meant to appreciate that this is a "Scorcese film", because the working class Catholics use words like "nigger" and "guinea" unapologetically. As directorial signature, it's total bullshit.

More flimsy filmmaking: Marky Mark disappears in the middle of the film, only to come back to deliver the final plot twist. Why? Because somebody needed to deliver the final plot twist. Otherwise, his disappearance does not make sense. He's the one who can save DeCaprio's undercover officer caught out in the cold. So what happened, everybody forgot about him?

Scorcese, dude, having DeCaprio scream "I want my identity back" over and over again to Matt Damon does not mean that this is a film about identity.

The Departed is filed under (11) (18) .

Meriwether Lewis

last mod: Tue May 29 15:51:56 2007 by J

This review relates to: The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Rating: 89/100;

This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark. I'm reading them right now. The DeVoto edition, which is condensed. They're very good. Not just good for a primary historical document, but good -- full of adventure.

Meriwether Lewis is filed under (7) (2) .

movie idea - glue wars

created: Wed May 23 10:00:14 2007
last mod: Wed May 23 10:00:14 2007

movie about two competing poster guys

one's a glue head and the other one's a meth addict

they go over each other and do battle with big brushes of glue

it's a martial arts film and
also a film about how society treats its lowest members    they both have the same problem, but they fight each other

as if the bicycle thief were a martial arts film
the fighting is real fighting - untrained but angry

every time i see someone in new york putting up a poster, it's the same wiry little guy with an old station wagon

movie idea - glue wars is filed under movies (11) ideas (14) .