My family went to see the H-4 Hercules, aka the Spruce Goose, some time in the 80's when it was on display in Long Beach alongside the Queen Mary. I still remember just how fucking big that plane really was...
I don't remember if it was before or after that visit, but I did a report in elementary school about Howard Hughes, and it all came rushing back to me while we watched the The Aviator. Scorsese and the entire cast, DiCaprio especially, did an amazing job depicting the best years of what ulimately became a very tragic life.
I'm kicking myself for not seeing this film in the theater (well I did get to see the XF-11 flight/crash sequence at the 2005 "bake off" for the Sound Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and it was awesome).
Roger Ebert's review.
All About Lily Chou-Chou is yet another one of those films about which I could write a book, and so, I will probably spend so much time trying to collect my thoughts that I will never getting around to finishing this post.
In the mean time, I will say this: I consider myself lucky to be among the "handful of highly evolved film watchers," as Roger Ebert puts it in his unfavorable review. While I agree with Ebert that the film is very "enigmatic, oblique and meandering," I think All About Lily Chou-Chou and it's exploration of adolescence and bullies will still resonate with anyone who gets to experience the film. Part of me wants so badly to share this film with everyone I know, to make them love it as much as I love it, and yet the selfish part of me takes comfort in the notion that I am one of the few people who will ever really appreciate such a beautiful a film as this.
You'll stumble in my footsteps...
Finally, a thinking man's Reality Show!!!
Morgan Spurlock, the director/star of the Academy Award nominated documentary Super Size Me has created an amazing new reality show that breathes new life into the hackneyed "fish out of water" formula simply by having a social conscience.
Spurlock challenges his test subjects, himself included, to spend not just a mile, but a MONTH in someone else's shoes. And while similar reality shows have been horribly exploitive and blatantly rigged for explosive confrontations by pitting polar opposites against one another*, 30 Days is an exploration of social issues through juxtaposition. Spurlock is trying spark debates, not fights, by transplanting a conservative mid-western homophobe into San Francisco's Castro district ("the gayest place in the world") and moving a devote Christian in with a Muslim family. Sure he lets his fish-out-of-water flop around a little bit in their foreign environments, but Spurlock hardly leaves them hung out to dry.
As the series creator and narrator, Spurlock is more of a spiritual guide than a puppetmaster for his guinea pigs and he demonstrates his humanity for everyone involved by prioritizing the pursuit of knowledge and mutual understanding over ratings-grabbing kicking and screaming. Spurlock ensures that his subjects learn from their eye-opening experiences by surrounding them with people who actively teach them about the differences between their worlds instead of merely parading around for the sake of being polemic. And in turn, Spurlock, the TV audience, and everyone who interacts with the subjects, are also learning about themselves.
Unlike most other reality shows, there are no winners and losers. The test subjects are NOT contestants. When Spurlock and his fiancée try to live on minimum wage for 30 days, they don't "lose" some sort of prize or money just because they are deep in debt at the end of the month, but rather, they become richer in the spiritual sense by gaining a broader understanding of themselves and their fellow working men and women. Again, it's all about the learning to become a better person by facing burning social issues head on.
The really really brilliant thing about 30 Days is that the show is very educational without being the slightest bit preachy. It's also highly entertaining, complete with genuinely tear-jerking drama and laugh-out-loud comedy. Of the first four shows, the second episode had some especially dramatic moments when a 34-year-old man tries to get back into shape with a regimen of growth hormones, diet, workouts, pill and testosterone injections at the expense of his liver, fertility and marriage. The first episode about living on minimum wage** is probably the funniest so far because it features Spurlock throughout and the man is just so damn hilarious. Many of the laughs in the other episodes come sfrom Spurlocks asides and commentaries, but one of my favorite moments in the pilot is when googles "free things to do in Columbus, Ohio" and finds this online Guide to Free Ohio Do-It-Yourself Fun for the Whole Family, which actually suggests visiting an animal shelter as a fun free activity while conceding that it might be "kind of a sad visit if you don't plan to adopt an animal..." Funnier still is that the site gives a "Winter Advisory" for bank tours, warning that "If you wear a ski-mask, take it off before entering the bank."
30 Days has replaced Penn & Teller: Bullshit! as my favorite new TV show ("favorite new" show meaning my favorite among the new shows that I've recently discovered as opposed to my "new favorite" show, which was and still is Family Guy because it continues to make me laugh so hard that I shoot milk out of my nose)
* It looks like the latest exploitive reality TV show has been canceled before it even aired. ABC pulled the plug on their upcoming show Welcome to the Neighborhood after pressure from civil rights groups who found the show discriminatory because it made diverse families compete for a house in a white-washed neighborhood. The sadest part is this presumably bigoted show probably would've been a hit with the mindless masses of America. Luckily, 30 Days has seen pretty decent ratings. I hope it gets picked up for another season instead of that other reality crap. [BACK]
As if Oldboy wasn't proof enough, Failan is another example of why Choi Min-shik is one of the best actors in Korea, if not the world. I doubt many actors can give as convincing of a performance as a hard luck man who mourns the loss of a wife he has never even met, but Choi is so amazing that when he cries, I cry; when he laughs, I laugh; when he's drunk, I'm drunk... OK that last one has less to do with Choi than the fact that I was drinking before noon, but seriously, Choi plays the perfect drunk.
Cecilia Cheung (King of Comedy) is adorable as the title character, but what really impresses me about her performance is that she manages to creep into our hearts even though we aren't even introduced to her character until half-way through the film, and it's right after we learn that Failan is DEAD. This delayed appearance is a tiny bit reminiscent of Orson Welles' belated reveal as Harry Lime in The Third Man, but the drama effect is very very different.
Through intermittent flash-backs, director Hye-sung Song lets his audience slowly fall in love with Failan, and even though we know her fate before we even meet her, the tragedy is not her death (which we never even see on screen), but that Kang-jae, her absentee husband (only on paper), never experiences her love until it's too late. So very very very sad :`(
Another kickass anime from GAINAX...
Régis and I started watching Re: Cutie Honey a couple weeks ago, but then Tom Lai came over with a pair of hard drives (one for him and one for me) and I spent most of the night loading up Tom's drive with Asian movies, so I missed a lot of the show.
What little I saw that night, though, begged for a second, more focused, viewing so I sat down today and watched all three of the episodes. This latest update of the classic anime mirrors the live-action Cutie Honey directed by Hideaki Anno, who also oversaw this OVA, but since it's animated, Anno and his team of directors (Hiroyuki Imaishi, Takamichi Ito, and Masayuki) were able to do all the things they couldn't do to their live action actresses, like strip them naked and fling them around.
Re: Cutie Honey is fast-paced action and mad-cap T&A, and it makes up for all the things the live-action film was missing... boobies, boobies, BOOBIES.
Oh alright, I'll admit it... the OVA is not entirely about the jiggly wiggly... it also spends a bit more time on character development than the nippleless live-action movie.
Usually if I cry during a movie, it's at the end of the film, but this movie made me cry right smack dab in the middle. And as soon as I wiped away the tears, the cringing violence starts, and the blood slowly flows right up until the final frames of the film.
When it comes to torturous violence,Oldboy seems rather tame compared to this predecessor.
I hope a domestic distribution company has the balls to release this film on DVD in the US because I'd totally buy it. I also eagerly await Chan-wook Park's next film, which stars Choi Min-shik from Oldboy and the english title is Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (though this may be more indictative of a marketing ploy than a true sequel).
The Beat That My Heart Skipped
dir. Jacques Audiard
Onion AV review:
Sam, Pheap and I had planned on meeting up with Jon Morley and his coworker friend (crap, I forgot his name) to see Wong Kar Wai's 2046 at the Laemmle Sunset 5 for the LA Film Festival but Sam and Pheap were late picking me up so we ended up trading our tickets for the French film The Beat That My Heart Skipped instead.
The Beat That My Heart Skipped was pretty good, but I had to leave right before the end because I had to run (literally) down the street to the DGA for the rerun of the UCLA Directors Spotlight, where my Self-Portrait was screening.
I felt bad about leaving early, especially considering the director, Jacques Audiard, was there, but I'm glad I went to the Spotlight screening because there was a Q&A afterwards and I got to be funny answering questions about my film.
The day didn't go at all as planned (we missed 2046, the Spotlight program order was totally mixed up, and I didn't know there was going to be a Q&A) but it turned out to be a great day. After the Spotlight screening, I noticed Jodie Foster had been in the audience. Pretty cool