Killer of Sheep - Shadows out of Floating Weeds

Last night I saw Killer of Sheep. It is as close to perfect as a student film ever got. Adrian Tomine, author of the graphic novel collections Optic Nerve 1 & 2 and more recently Shortcomings, was at the Brattle signing books and they let him pick a film. He chose three, but only two were relevant to the plot - Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu and Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett. Burnett made Killer Of Sheep in the tradition of John Cassavettes' Shadows while he was a student at UCLA for 10,000 some odd dollars and without a single permit. To put this in perspective I was yelled at by a subway conductor when he saw I had a camera in my lap. Killer of Sheep scores major points for me because it is made by a first time director, a film student, who was able to make a movie with essentially no plot that still grips like a potboiler and get wholly naturalistic performances from all of his non-actors. Most interesting however was that he seems to have cribbed from Ozu's book, yet his feels like a more recognizably human film than anything Ozu ever did. The performances, expressions, and dialogue in Yasujiro Ozu movies were all very stylized, designed to pull you out of the world of humans to realize the universality of his themes and problems, despite their truly trivial nature. Burnett, while he does steal many of Ozu's compositions, segue-ways, and character types, makes his people feel more like people and less like Noh characters. Ozu's style got in the way of my enjoyment of his movies, but it only emerged after the second world war. I've not found any of his silents that bugged me particularly, but I do know that everything after he returned from trying to make films during WWII was a deeper meditation of human foibles than it seems at first glance and it apparently required a pace and style I can't get over. Nothing against Ozu, but I like it better when Bresson does the same thing. 

Killer of Sheep follows Stan, a deeply unhappy, plain-looking family man (along with his unfulfilled but hopeful wife and his three children), as he wanders through life trying to distance himself from trouble, keeps up with his male neighbors, and sleepwalks through his day-job at an abattoir. The title comes from Stan's job and his sleeping habits. As someone else in the film remarks he doesn't count sheep, he kills them. Burnett, like Ozu, shows us, through compositional similarity (as in the beautiful shots of Stan's son hiding behind the large wooden board as he and his friends play games in a scrap yard and Stan's sunglass-concerned friend at his ex-girlfriend's house) and situational parallelisms that the problems of adults and children are essentially the same. Stan's son asks for money and gets rejected shortly before Stan tries to prove to his friend that he isn't poor by blowing his money on a car engine he doesn't need. This sort of money grubbing and would-be squandering is found in many of Ozu's watershed films (Good Morning, Early Summer). The shots of the children playing by the rusty train corpse look like they could have escaped from an early 50s Ozu film, the telephoto blending of kids in the foreground abstaining from the background action just as striking as anything by Ozu's peers Kenji Mizoguchi or Akira Kurosawa. There is also the concern with the activities of those geographically close to the characters who have little in common with the protagonist. The cast list is long and everyone has their part to play. Burnett makes use of the whole frame lingering on images of sheep and following tangential episodes as closely as we do those that concern Stan and his wife. Burnett broke the same rules that Ozu did 20 years earlier, but did it so much livelier and conscious that an audience would have to care about the action and people in his movie. That there is no real denouement to speak of is typical of Ozu films. They just sort of end. Here the victory is Stan admitting with his facial expression that he does love his wife and his distant behavior will pass. Subtly is the name of the game.

Killer of Sheep's use of old soul music and warped opera records was innovative, tonally appropriate and heartbreaking. It is also what kept the film in limbo in UCLA's thesis vault for 30 years. It never saw commercial release until Burnett could raise the $150,000 to pay for the rights to the songs. It was, in the end, worth it. The most beautiful part of Killer of Sheep comes at about the halfway mark when a shirtless Stan and his wife dance in their living room to a record. Stan's wife moves her hands over his chest, suggesting that perhaps they will break their dry-spell and have sex. Next to nothing happens but it's mesmerizing. Those static shots of the sheep running around their pen, the goats worked into a frenzy, compositionally identical to the children leaping over the roofs of buildings; same story. The movie is as successful with its use of offbeat humour as it is with its symmetrical make-up and neat plot structure. Darjeeling Limited worked in a similar way, but Killer of Sheep has none of Wes Anderson's vices and its devastatingly simple presentation helps its story catch you off guard. Hilarious character map; offbeat family drama; round-about kid's movie; the first proper American tribute to Ozu; realistic portrait of Los Angeles' suburb life; a truly original and charming movie that will remain lost to too many people? It's fair to pick a few.
30 years is a long time for a work of art to go unnoticed, especially when its creator has been creating ever since. Thank god for the likes of Steve Buscemi and The Criterion Collection. That this had gone unwatched for 30 years over rights issues is a fucking insult. It's that kind of can-don't attitude that produced the movie; a resigned malaise worn on every face.

Brad Renfro and the Academy Awards

This year's Oscars stood out from many of the past ceremonies, mainly because, of the films granted nominations, few were blockbusters. In fact, most of the films honoured did not do exceptionally well in the box office nor were even seen by the general movie-going public before they were given post-nominated Oscar limelight. Despite continuing the very annoying trend of singling out around a dozen films and excluding the other thousand of releases from the last year, those acknowledged dozen or so films from 2007 were in fact, for the most part, excellent and engaging works of art. This is not to say that shit-flicks were excluded (consider Norbit, Enchanted [3 nominations out of 5 original songs].

All that could and should be said about the Oscars has already been expounded upon by countless others. What I wish to singularly point out is a travesty exceeding the boundaries of aestheticism and entering the realm of ethics; namely, the exclusion of Brad Renfro from the already-awkward Obiturary segment of the Oscars. If you don't already know, both Heath Ledger and Brad Renfro died within days of each other. Ledger died from what was probably an accidental, and not suicidal, combination of prescription drugs for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Renfro, on the other hand, died from an obviously intentional mixture of heroin and morphine.

In defense, the spokesperson for the Academy Awards claimed that "Unfortunately we cannot include everyone...Our goal is to honor individuals who worked in the many professions and trades of the motion picture industry, not just actors."

I agree, of course one cannot include everyone. But the Academy Awards is obviously going to include those of a more tragic, premature death like Ledger. Renfro did more unconventional films, lacked Ledger's handsome prestige, and abused illegal drugs. I believe that the cause of his death - recreational drug use - is the reason for his exclusion from the Academy Awards' obiturary. One could write a volume on the sociological reasons and implications of this exclusion.

I leave it open as to why Renfro "deserved" acknowledgement. What the fuck do I know?
why doesn't anyone cry about whats going on in the world?
It shows how perverted our society is, that we're so self absorbed we can't think outside ourselves, our area code or our country. I watched a movie last week that killed me. Its called Sometimes in Spring and its about the genocide that happened in Rwanda. Its a hard movie, really heavy. But those kind of movies are the most important to see. I watched it when I was upset at my mother and after I felt so incredibly grateful for everything I have. We're all so lucky. Its easy to forget sometimes. I want to try to stop forgetting how good I have it and appreciate my luck at not being born a Tutsi in Rwanda. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell I did in a past life to deserve to have it so good now. I could just have easily been born to another family, in another country, and a totally different world. It blows my mind. Being, and knowing that I'm fortunate I feel like I have a responsability to share, to give and to help.
This is all from me for now. More late friends.


i feel like this is important

Today I was walking down Broad St. in Philadelphia and I saw two homeless men who had some how acquired a rather large amp and a microphone. They were blasting oldies music that could be heard for blocks, and alternately screaming unintelligibly, one word each turn, into the microphone. and no one stopped them.

Wikipedia correction £18572691

Under the article for the Morrissey song "You Have Killed Me" someone made mention of the references to Director Pier Paolo Pasolini and his first movie Accatone, about a criminal who can't support his ex-wife and son. He is miserable and angsty in that Neo-realist way that Pasolini perfected in the early 60s. The line goes "Pasolini is me, Accatone you'll be." The second verse consists of the lines "Visconti is me, Magnani you'll never be", in reference to the film Bellissima, or any film she ever made for an Italian, they were all pretty much the same.

Someone thought that the Visconti mentioned in the song was Bowie producer/bassist Tony Vischonti. Good thing they have smart ass film hounds like me to make them feel stupid.

Dear All Y'all

     I guess I'm late on this band wagon. Sorry. But this should prove to be an interesting endeavor for us all. Cooper you're amazing. Ginny you're adorable. Dave, I miss you dearly. Shelly you'll have to explain that last scale to me.


I just published it, i guess its not searchable by google. I'll figure it out though.

World Wide

So everyone knows, I am making a website that doesn't have anything on it except brief stuff about the congregation and the link to this blog. The reason I am doing this is the reason where I am making it is searchable by google. sweet right. I'll try to publish it tonight.

dans expiation

Beyond the handsome, dying world war II soldier is the face of two people kissing. I'm pretty sure that very few people know that the film James McAvoy stands in front of in Atonement is called Port Of Shadows, a far superior romantic film to the one it graces with its presence. Port Of Shadows was the perfect Poetic Realist film. It was noir before noir. A man escapes from the front, tired of violence and hypocrisy, to a small harbor town. He meets a woman, abused by her guardian, spit on by her man. The soldier, Jean Gabin, was every cinematic square-jaw before they had a chance to be so. He predates Bogart, McQueen, Eastwood, Douglas, Delon, Willis, Ford and all the others who took names and got by on their looks. Here, he's angst personified and seems to utter less than a hundred lines, yet when he kisses Michèle Morgan, smacks Pierre Brasseur and puts Michel Simon in traction, he's electrifying. Every action, word, breath, wish, everything spoken and felt is heavy and romantic. Marcel Carne understood his quiet side. Julien Duvivier knew how to bring out his brute side for maximum effect and Renoir could turn him into the boy next door, but Carne could make him blend in with a world of fog, dust, suicide and desperation. Carne made so much out of misery, that it often feels like his plots needn't unfold before we know the end, though we wish it wouldn't go the way it does. The world turns and nobody wants to be forgotten, but that seems to be all that happens. Men live and die, some are murdered, some don't need any help. In that regard Carne was telling the truth, but if every street tough looked as 30s rugged as Gabin or every woman as divinely lit and shimmering as Michèle Morgan, things might have gone differently for Paris. Carne was a genius, alright. Just watch Les Enfants Du Paradis. When his characters believe something you, too, believe it. If for no other reason than you need to.

To All, for rights of America

Tonight on msnbc and probably other places, OBAMA and HILLARY DEBATE

be there or be square,

shelley, i love your art

Mother Symbols and Buddhist Music Scales

For the first time in months, I draw because I am inspired, by the first line of a Bright Eyes, song, "Amy has a baby in her stomach..." I have spent so much time concentrating on Aphrodite: our nurturing mother; but our central character is genesis.

At the bottom of this you may see some upside-down pentatonic scales. The are, from left to right (when rightside, up, that is): pentatonic major, minor, and the "Yo" scale.

ON everything is me for this... *9*

My views on Everything.
-Debussy is Visual
-George W. Bush ruined the planet
-Raul Castro is now dictator of Cuba
-Barack Obama is who i'm voting in this election for (i'm secretly 21)
-Israel rules, American government should pay more attention to Israel, they are more important than Iraq
-Go Same-sex marriage
-The Congregation is my home country
-I believe in Piano, and nothing else
-Music is everything, those you can't hear it suck
-It rained in Dave's basement before a gig
-Dave's mom makes good food's child proof

Chocolate, Cheese, and Whey

Some people from the Quiet Lounge at school are boycotting foods made with meat derivatives and/or chocolate (due to slave labour used in the harvesting of cocoa). Here is some information on common meat derivatives, and chocolate:

  • ...gelatin is made from boiling the connective tissue such as skin, cartilage, and bones left over from the meat processing industry. In foods, its purpose is to gel or firm up liquids to a soft yet solid state, such as marshmallows. Gelatin is found in a variety of candies, including gummy bears, jelly beans and panned eggs, and also as a stabilizer in cheese, ice cream, jams and margarine. []
  • Milk is coagulated by the addition of rennet. The active ingredient of rennet is the enzyme, chymosin (also known as rennin). The usual source of rennet is the stomach of ... calves. Vegetarian cheeses are manufactured using rennet from either fungal or bacterial sources. []
  • There is a surprising association between chocolate and child labor in the Cote d'Ivoire. Young boys whose ages range from 12 to 16 have been sold into slave labor and are forced to work in cocoa farms in order to harvest the beans, from which chocolate is made, under inhumane conditions and extreme abuse. This West African country is the leading exporter of cocoa beans to the world market. Thus, the existence of slave labor is relevant to the entire international economic community. Through trade relations, many actors are inevitably implicated in this problem, whether it is the Ivorian government, the farmers, the American or European chocolate manufacturers, or consumers who unknowingly buy chocolate. []

About Home

I have recently become a pretentious artist.
My last art project was hand copying 305 mri brain scans.
Today I debated the arrogance of Richard Serra.
I need help.
I need love.
I need a donut.
That is all.


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marshmallows cats


Not rewarded at all or enough:
Margot At The Wedding
3:10 To Yuma
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
There Will Be Blood
Lust, Caution

Rewards for the sake of rewards.
If you put every film that has ever won best picture in a list, you'd have one uneven goddamn list.
No Country For Old Men may just be the best of them.

The Last Emperor deserved it, Best Years Of Our Lives, David Lean's two. French Connection, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ghandi, Platoon. The rest I can't or won't vouch for. 9 out of 80. That's a pretty sloppy legacy, don't you think?


Fantasy of All sorts

Ok, brothers and sisters, it's time to play six degrees. In 1917 a young poet and painter called Jean Cocteau was asked to compose a ballet. With Erik Satie's music and Pablo Picasso's painting he came up with Parade, something people hated tremendously. The only person who did like it was their friend Guillaume Apollinaire, who had to protect the creators of the work from angry patrons with his fierce looks and scars. No one could think what to call the thing, so Guillaume coined the term Surrealism to describe the style. Cocteau never liked the term and denied being a part of it.

Around the time he became something of a revered cinematic figure, Chris Marker, one time assistant to the great Alain Resnais, the creator of wholly unique movie La Jetee, composed, as we all know, entirely out of still photographs, save for one beautiful piece of film, began to realize that he didn't like fame, as it were. He's a man who loves cats, and they can be found in many of his films. He makes an important decision; whenever anyone asks him for a publicity photograph, he instead sends a picture of his cat, Guillaume-de-egypt.

Terry Gilliam's kind of a name in 1995 when his latest film Twelve Monkeys gets nominated for two oscars. Not that he does now, or ever will, care a bit about what America thinks of his art. Monkeys is based on a short film called La Jetee by Chris Marker and stars Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis is an outspoken republican, Terry Gilliam renounced his American citizenship because he hates President Bush. A young british woman called Jo Murray sees it somewhere in Edinburgh, Scotland. Probably without her daughter, maybe at the Movie Bank on Dalry Road or the Filmhouse on Lothian.

A woman recalls having seen films of a fantastic nature and timeless quality, she wishes to add that magic to her own. Terry Gilliam, years later complains that Chris Columbus' film versions of the Harry Potter novels are lifeless and uninspired. He is right. They resemble not so much as any family film hampered in by a complicated plot he doesn't explain well and heinous no-acting. JK Rowling née Joanne Murray, wants Terry Gilliam to direct Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone, but after his many failures and many, many non-child friendly movies (Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys) there's no way studio executives will take a chance on this man and his warped mind and dark visions.

Alfonso Cuaron makes beautiful films, but for every Little Princess there's an Y Tu Mama Tambien. How can they look at his one child friendly movie and decide to overlook the dynamic sexuality of his other films. Quartet for the End Of Time is so very heavy it might crush someone who's paying attention at the right moment. JK Rowling sees his version of her novel The Prisoner of Azkaban and says she 'loved it immediately'. Alfonso Cuaron isn't Terry Gilliam, he likes the fantastical, sure, but his success comes when he grounds it in the horrific real world. Maybe he's more special in his own way.

Cuaron's had a brush with success. Y Tu Mama Tambien was nominated for all kind of awards, even won a few. Nominated for BAFTA Film award, Best Film in any any language. Used to be called Best Film from Any Source, back in 1960 when Jean Cocteau got nominated for his film The Testament Of Orpheus. He made it with his friend Pablo Picasso.

Craig Thompson's Blankets

Here's something I can review: Craig Thompson's semi-autobiographical graphic novel Blankets. It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, except less magic realism, and more breasts. Blankets is essentially a romance/coming of age story, with themes of angst, fundamental Christianity, retardation, six hundred epilogues, and developing sexuality. However, anyone could smelt together these themes into a campy romance novel; Blankets' true virtue is in its near-perfect execution. This book reads like greased lightening. There is not a wordy page in the book, and it's full of pretty pictures, and I effectively read the thing in one session.

In other news, this reporter was recently awarded a golden speeding ticket. Hark! The herald angels sing.

generational gaps...

"generational gaps greeting around the shattered pane's gaps and within broken linguistics learned us self-learned lessons so forward"

Why My Friends Don't Come Over Anymore

A Song without music

Why My Friends Don't Come Over Anymore

I couldn't help but notice that when the snow thawed away
My friends and I never played like we used to play
Sure i saw it coming, but it saddens just the same
Who now will i look to when i wish to play my games

I guess I could have been nicer to my gang when they were here
And not shouted obscenities at the ones I hold dear
I often played nice, though often I did not
Pushing and shoving before the game had its start

I got competitive when doing ordinary things
the first one on the sofa, the first one to sing
These little competitions were fine, in my eyes at least
I made the losers sit in closets with beasts

I left food on the floor for to bring in the mice
My friends weren't so sure, but i found them nice
but the mice brought their fleas and the fleas brought disease
they promised to come back in just a few weeks

I played my organ as loud as can be
i wanted to hear it over their laughter you see
I showed them my monkeys paw, my collection of ants
Sang all the hits when they fancied a dance

I locked jane in the basement, an accident i swear
I haven't yet found the keys, so she's still down there
I talk endlessly.....about nothing
They promised to come back and dropped everything

Sometimes I miss them, sometimes I worry
They swore after all, but they left in a hurry
I'm sure they'll come back when the timing is right
Or maybe i'll go play at their house tonight.

more argument about juno

You have good points about some things, but overall I believe the movie was still good! I suppose it's because I'm not a great film critic and no nothing besides what the film actually presented, but...with my little knowledge I thought it was pretty fun to watch.

1. I was talking about this today, and I was told that some people (and me aswell) enjoy the odd way they talk because it made it a bit more funny. I liked that it was a bit unrealisitic.

Was that teacher supposed to be in his sixties? I did find it odd that the friend liked him, I must say. It was not logical and it was odd. I didn't think a bunch of the things in this movie were logical. I liked that about this movie.

2. It was odd how understanding her parents were, how it played out, and everything else. I was confused by how accepting the parents were, but as for how it played out I would have to say it was just to add to the overall movie even if it was illogical and even if it made the message off. I don't think it was good that they were basically sending out the message to everyone that "if you get pregnant as a teenager, everything will turn out just fine!" etc. The story was still amusing, however.

It was not in character for Juno to agree to give the baby to someone like Jennifer Garner's character. The point, however, was that the character ended up being a really good mother in the end after all of the things that happened in the movie. She changed throughout the movie and that was what made it so sweet in the end  when she got the baby...  I thought she would give it to an irresponsible musician as well. But she didn't and that was fun! xD

That slow dance thing was freaky-weird. I don't think it was in-character for either of them. It WAS wrong!

3. The way she was was fun, because I liked the way it played out when she interacted with other characters who were so different from her. I liked her. 

Anyways, I will skip number four because it confused me. Hah.

5. I like some of Kimya Dawson's songs. I would have preferred if there was a little less of her in the movie and a little more of someone else. I thought it was cute when they sang it in the end.

However, this is just my opinion.

1 Oscar Justice Lane

In the best foreign film category, Andrzej Wajda's film Katyn is nominated. This makes me very happy; Wajda's been making films for fifty years and he, like me, is fascinated in the correlation between sexuality and war. His impressionist trilogy Pokolenie (A Generation), Kanal (Canal), & Popiól i Diament (Ashes & Diamonds) covered this topic in a more open and honest way than almost any other film I've seen. He mastered that sort of pre-breathless Mise en Scene and did some fascinating things with themes and unspoken words. His films are tragic, to be sure, but so is war and so is love (at least in many cases), and so I find his films realistic, accessible and gripping. My Juno Argument is just beneath this, Ginny.

Juno: Allow Me To Plead My Case

Friends, don't misunderstand me. Every now and again I have picked up that I will very strongly dislike something when the majority of people who encounter it really like it. When Modest Mouse became popular, this was true. When Feist showed up on TV, i flinched. But with Juno, i can say with no hyperbole that I disliked it before everyone else liked it. Allow me, if you will to explain why Juno is not the joyous little film everyone takes it to be.

1. The dialogue. When David Mamet or Aaron Sorkin writes a play/script, it is very obvious who each character really is. The author, because in Mamet's case nobody is so nuanced and slick as his characters always are. Not that I mind; Glengarry Glen Ross happens to be one of my favorite plays and a decent film as well. Aaron Sorkin has a similar problem in that he has apparently never spoken to anyone who isn't quick-witted and well-informed. Everybody is intelligent enough to carry themselves in conversation with everyone else; this is not simply not the case, but I forgive him because I like it when films and TV shows treat the audience as their intellectual equal, even if some logic goes missing in the process. What does all this mean? It means that when you go to write a story about politicians you've never met or gangsters you'll never meet, stylized dialogue is sometimes acceptable. When we're told that it is the year 2007, the dialogue better reflect it. Diablo Cody, doll of the media world, wrote this script using references from when she herself was a teenager, some ten fifteen years ago. There is simply no excuse for everyone in the film sounding like a 30 year old recalling her teenage years. Everyone's quick, up on arcane nods to films and tv shows no one saw when they were new in the early 90s.

The dialogue infuriated me when it got time to talk music and film. As a self-admitted dork with nothing better to do than listen to and obtain information about music and watch and then study movies, allow me to speak frankly. There is simply no way the music logic makes anything like sense. First we have a snarkey 16 year old music hound; she's started a band, listens to punk music, considers herself an expert. A cynic like her who wants to be on top of her game would know Sonic Youth, which Juno claims she doesn't when Jason Bateman's character plays her some. I knew about the Sonic Youth when i was 13 and bought my first of their records the next year. I didn't understand it, I thought it aimless, but dammit I knew. You don't delve into fields without picking up some names along the way. Sure she likens the Carpenters to the White Stripes, but ask her to name the first track on Daydream Nation and she's useless. Feh! Also, when's the last time you've met a 16 year old girl who likes Mott The Hoople. I think the only people I know who like them are men over 40, and even they've got their doubts. And as for delving. If someone had gotten to the point in their life where they were obsessed with director Dario Argento, they most assuredly would have heard the name Herschell Gordon Lewis. When you watch Italian Horror, it's never in a vacuum, there are other names flying around. No Fulci or Argento without Bava, none of them without Romero, Tobe Hooper or Roman Polanski, who took cues from Lewis and Hitchcock. I'm sorry this is nitpicking in the extreme, but that's the kind of person we are meant to think Juno is, but she doesn't follow through and instead just talks a big game and passes judgment without any knowledge of the things she claims to love. It just makes her seem all the more obnoxious to me. Also, I resent the portrayal of the girl at Planned Parenthood. You think they don't screen people for sensitivity for working the lobby of one of the tensest places in the world. Puh-leaze!

Brief aside: I've known the kind of girl who finds her teachers attractive. I'm very good friends with girls who still harbor feelings for their history teacher and science teacher. It isn't because they look authoritative or because they're knowledgeable, they find them attractive for the same reason any girl finds a man attractive: looks, pompousness, mere exposure. Her friend finding her 60 some odd year old professor attractive isn't logical.

2. The story. Yeah, I know we're supposed to have this explained by the quirkiness of the film overall, but I don't buy for a second that any teenage pregnancy would play out like this one. I don't buy for a second understanding parents like these, no matter how unassuming they're supposed to be. Similarly, there's no way that someone so radical and free-spirited as Juno would agree to give her child to Jennifer Garner's pre-stage mom. Especially because it's fairly obvious that neither of them has changed or learned a damn thing. So what we have are unexplained personality shifts that last about a minute. Come on. That's just lazy writing. More likely would have been her giving the kid to the irresponsible rock musician. Also, I don't care how sensitive said musician is, there's no way the slow dance happens the way it does. I believe that no matter how self-centered you are, you know the difference between what feels right and wrong. Dancing with a pregnant 16 year old in an empty house: that feels wrong.

3. Juno. A friend of mine who's an english teacher told me that he disliked the movie based mostly on the fact that Juno was mean and disrespectful. "Who wants to watch that?" I have to agree. I'm not a teacher, so I don't have the experience he's had dealing with nihilistic brats, but I think I get why he found her so unappealing. She's rude to everyone, reacts harshly to limits and reason, impetuous in the worst ways, doesn't learn or seem to change, treats the ones she loves horribly, and yet...they all still love her! Everyone forgives her for being stupid and mean, her boyfriend takes her back after a meaningless apology, one of many I get the feeling. Her parents overlook her direct refusal to do a single thing they ask, on top of them already being pretty non-plussed by the fact that SHE'S PREGNANT! She ONLY makes bad decisions and doesn't have a single new piece of wisdom or compassion to show for it.

4. Ivan Reitman's direction. The faux-rotoscoping, the Wes Anderson aping (especially in the music cues). His treatment doesn't do the script any favors and so he chooses to revel in the mediocre world of the story, choosing to make that seem much more interesting than it can claim to be. Look at Juno's bedroom; there are TGI Fridays with less kitsch! (This movie was practically about kitsch) He treats all side characters essentially the same; laconic and sympathetic, if bothersome to temperamental Juno. No one does more than their piece; Juno will get a moment alone with all the important characters where their personalities will be explained and they come off more sensitive than they are (though Diablo Cody shares the blame here). He seems to have forgotten that he's dealing with fictional people who say fictional things who receive fictional punishment for being heinous; I don't think anyone raises their voice in this film. Also, compositionally it was just kind of bland. I think there needs to be a 70 or 80 year moratorium for animation during live action films. It worked when Terry Gilliam did it. Here it just feels forced and uncomfortable. It was just too many slightly off-the-wall choices; like he was running down a check list. Quirky Music, ditzy friend, hipster shop-talk, kitsch, animation, still photograph cutaways, winks and nudges to better movies than this one, sing along. Check.

5. Kimya Dawson. I never liked her music, so obviously it was going to be an uphill battle for me to sit through a film where a good deal of the music (though inexplicably not all of it) was hers. Her voice drives me up the wall and her music and words aren't interesting enough to draw my attention away. To hinge your movie's sensitive time around music that sounds so much like cutesy nails-on-a-chalkboard, you're taking an unnecessary risk, especially when you've chosen to use other non-diagetic music in addition to this stuff. It's very oddly handled. Why not just pick one. All Kimya Dawson, or maybe one example of her music. Maybe he knew just how easy it is to get sick of her and decided half way through not to keep using her music. Also, why, after having a song appear OVER a montage, would you have characters break the fourth wall by having them sing the same song three minutes later. The girl next to me was still humming it when they started it up again. Really? Couldn't get any more creative? GAH!

6. Marketing. I think people wanted a Little Miss Sunshine to call their own this year and this was as close as they got. Darjeeling Limited and Margot At The Wedding were too tough for audiences to swallow and this was the closest they were going to get, so they begin talking it up as the sleeper hit of the year a la Little Miss Sunshine, before a single audience has seen it. You can't make statements about its success when it hasn't had a stab at any. They called this the little film that could and all that other horse shit, but it was going to be successful whether it was good or not. It was a quirky movie starring a quirky teenage girl, two Arrested Development stars, Dwight (even if his cameo was ABSOLUTELY POINTLESS), the boss from spiderman and a marginally attractive actress with weight to her name, Diablo Cody was already the toast of the town when this thing hit theatres (like Dwight on a job search: "Nothing's on the horizon except everything!"), so don't try and make it seem like there was even a chance that this would sneak by without anyone seeing it. It was bound for limelight and everyone knew it.

I don't like being lied to by films. And I especially don't like it when those liars get nominated for Best Picture. Even with all this to say, I still liked parts of it, I just don't think it deserves the parade everyone's been throwing for it since the poster appeared. I think it should serve as a lesson to the David Russells of the world who don't know when enough is enough. When you're making a quirky Wes Anderson-type film, you have to know when to reign it in. Noah Baumbach knows this and so his movies generally work. Little Miss Sunshine never relied too heavily on one element (and everybody LEARNS something) and worked well with a balance of wierd and uncomfortable things. Even Garden State had likeable and believale characters and in my estimation more respect for its audience than Juno ever does. My point is to tell you that Juno was the worst film ever made, my point is simply when you play with elements you have no control over, you're bound to misuse them and make some pretty serious mistakes. The Coen Brothers practically invented the American quirk film and can do it right when they want to, but they too have screwed with elements and been punished for it. Thankfully they seem to have missed the sound of applause and left thier Ladykillers phase behind them. They do deserve to win Best Picture....and they probably will.

The Congregation

The Congregation playing Siren Records on Jan. 12, 2008


I disagree with "Scout." I liked Juno!

Snow Day Adventures..!

At the beginning of the day, I woke up expecting we would be going to school like usual. I checked the school website (because whenever it snows I check just in case) and it said "SCHOOL CLOSED - FRI. DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER." Although I did not know what the word "inclement" meant, I knew that it was the beginning of a snow day. I made a snow man, I threw snow balls at trees, and I was forced to shovel paths and sweep off snow from cars. 

Unfortunately, after cleaning off paths and cars it continued to snow and, well, it got covered again. Fortunately, I was able to check was the word "inclement" meant. I was too lazy to kick out the dictionary, so I used my computer. 

"Inclement - adjective (of the weather) unpleasantly cold or wet"

I called one friend and asked her to come over to my house and we got into a snow ball fight. It was wet, wet, wet! It was fun, but it did not compare to my adventures that happened later.

Alex--NO! Cutie, Holly, Samantha and Sebastian appeared at my home. Immediately we began throwing snow balls and making more snow men. The first snow ball in the snow man was very fat, and by the request of Holly, the other two part were very small. It ended up looking like a fat, short french man. Oddly, while we made a snow man and threw snow at each other Cutie disappeared. We looked with our eyes (but not really because we were lazy) and saw him lurking in the shadows.

After a while, I was craving gummy bears and in attempt to get him to come back I screamed out "WE ARE GOING TO GO EAT GUMMY BEARS AND WHATEVER ALEX'S FAVORITE FOOD IS!" We then proceeded to go back into my house where it was warm and we were all...wet. We went to my room and opened my window, leaning forward and scooping up snow from the roof just in case. Somehow, Cutie slipped behind a tree in front of us and we saw him! 

We all took turns going outside and luring him back in, but nothing worked.  First, I went outside in my mukluks (SPELLING?) and pj pants and started to chase him and throw snowballs. I got cold and said "retreat!" and we both retreated to our original positions. Then Sebastian went out and they got into a heated snow ball fight! I went onto the roof as far as I could without falling (while Samantha held my feet just in case) and got some snow to make a snowball. I tried to throw it but it didn't work.

He came in and Cutie stayed outside. So Holly went outside. We had been pretending to be penguins, so she continued that way. She chased him around while walking like a penguin. Unable to come up with a response, Cutie ran away. Holly pretended to be going to the diner and went to the car, opened the door, sat down, opened the door, and then came back. She began to talk about her "adventures" at the diner with shelley and picc and...someone else I forget the name of. We screamed out ideas from my window. She came back in and I went out because he had kicked our snowman over. I was pissed! So I pushed him over and he pushed me over and we threw snowballs and I went inside.

I think he came in after that. My socks were wet. We played duck, duck goose/penguin/pheonix and we chased each other around the house and sat in eachother's seats and then we were so loud! My parent came into the room and kicked them out politely. It was very fun. : ]

Film Punk, Scout's vision

Scout emailed me inviting me to contribute to the Film Punk blog, and said that it is my job "to write inflammatory statements, talk about Mahavishnu Orchestra, format it to make it look pretty and then take credit for it". The moral of the story is, our logo depicts a bunch of vagabonds:
Cheers to that!

Hero Worship: Nestor Alemndros

He was brilliant. He is why the films Maitresse, Suzanne's Career, and Days of Heaven are so beautiful. He is legendary and this is a small tribute to Cinematographer Nestor Almendros. He was a school teacher in Cuba before he emigrated to France and became a camera man. He worked with Francois Truffaut, Jack Nicholson, Eric Rohmer, Barbet Schroeder, & Terrence Malick. He made sexuality beautiful and performed miracles with natural light. He made poems, paintings, sonnets, novels out of light and actors. He was truly brilliant. He died in 1992. The oscar and slew of other awards he won don't do his simple, fantastic art justice. He has many disciples, but no equal when it comes to portraying simplicity so divinely.

Attention = Quality

Don't believe me? Watch everything nominated for the best picture oscar.

Atonement is like Howard's End for teenagers. With it's MTV editing and insistence on ending in the 21st century. Director Joe Wright did interesting things with a script that cared about hitting plot points than giving depth or attention to its characters. Oh and if you've seen the preview for it more than once, you're in for very few surprises when you actually see the thing, it's like watching an extended version. And yet, Atonement is nominated for Best Picture. Michael Clayton similarly ruined itself when it got to the end and felt the need to explain all of its hitherto mysteriousness and treat the audience like a group of third graders who can't piece ANYTHING together. And yet it too is nominated for best picture. Juno, written by a stripper, chronicles the life of one person speaking through a dozen characters going through the falsest teen pregnancy in the history of false pregnancy. No one edited this script, and it is nominated for best picture. There Will Be Blood and No Country are real, solid films (one huge, one quiet), and full of oddities no one has given the proper attention to for the last twenty years. Fargo lost to the English Patient, cause...who knows. Blood Simple, Boogie Nights, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, all of them were ignored, and yet any one of them is better than Chicago, American Beauty and Titanic combined. Talk and money drives the academy awards. It's why Gangs of New York was nominated, and The Aviator were both nominated and why they waited until all the checks had been cut to give the award to Return of the King and nominated the first two in the meantime. 2005 was the last time every film nominated was really excellent, though in my opinion they gave it to least interesting of the bunch, probably because it was hyped so much by its fans. Let's hope the talk doesn't do what it usually does and reward the least deserving film of the year.