From the desk of: Robert

Double-Dose of Afflecks

Affleck Double Feature last night.  Not sure why Ben is the “famous” one.

I’m Not Here — I was incredibly dissapointed when Casey announced that this film was not actually a documentary before I had been able to see it.  In my mind, I thought it had already ruined it.  Now that I’ve seen it, I think it made it better.  The most interesting parts of this movie were not found in the voyeuristic self-destruction of a person (as it would have been if I believed it were real) but instead in the act of the spotlight being turned on the media and the consumers of “celebrity culture.”  The character of Joaquin Phoenix seems equally interesting as it’s impossible to try and figure out where he and his character overlap.  Is P Diddy real?  If not, give him an oscar because this is the best acting the “rapper” has ever done.  Other things worth noting: Ben Stiller being actually funny (briefly) and the way that people standing near Phoenix can’t help but get into his musical performances.  9/10


The Town — I should have just re-watched Heat.  I do think that Ben Affleck is a better director than I want him to be — but seriously, where did he find this terrible script?  It lost 6 of my 10 points in the last 5 minutes of the film.  Honestly one of the worst endings I’ve ever experienced.  Watch the movie until it starts to get corny and then turn it off before you smash your TV.  4/10

From the desk of: Robert

Sarcastigate at the Cinema: Inception.

Inception is great.  It will make a billion dollars.  Chris Nolan is going to have an even blanker check for the next film that he writes/directs and it showcases that he can, in fact, still write.  I enjoyed it greatly and will watch it again when it comes out on BluRay.  There are some major problems with it (or at least things that irritated me), though.

- It’s dumbed down.  Following in the footsteps of other big-dollar, mainstream, intellectual, recursive thrillers, Nolan takes some short cuts.  I watched the film once, late at night, and it all made painfully perfect sense.   The characters spend a lot of time explaining things to each other that would be criminally obvious for anyone in their shoes.  The explanation is clearly exclusively for the audiences benefit.  Ellen Pages character serves as an extremely laughable outsider and an excuse to hold the audiences hand even tighter.  There may be better precedent for this but the 2004 film Primer serves as a better example in how to challenge the audience through recursion interference (see also Solaris, Following, and even portions of the Matrix series.)  Nolan didn’t have to take it to Primer extremes but he also didn’t have to rewrite this down to an elementary level.  As a result, I’m not sure it merits the chronic rewatching that other recursive thrillers have leveraged into cultural phenomenons.  But it will make a billion dollars.

- Skiing/shooting action scene.  Has this ever been done well?  Ever?  Did Nolan think he could pull it off?  As soon as I saw them near the skis I absolutely cringed.  The only thing saving this entire ”level” is that they didn’t have Ellen Page strap on a snowboard.  I thought for sure it was headed that way.  Ouch.  Truly awful.

-  The effects.  Some of them were incredible.  Some of them were downright cheesy, though.  CGI has come a long way since the Matrix but I still don’t think that this movie is going to age very well.  In 20 years it’s going to look like a cartoon.  I think it’s fine to be ambitious with your screenwriting but don’t assume you can build worlds from scratch.

- The heavy handedness of Leo’s familial faithfulness.  Come on… give me a break….   the only thing driving him was his love for his kids and his wife?  He’s really just a big softie that enjoys the game of experimenting in other peoples brains?  Buhgaw.

You want to know all the good about the movie?  Read another review.  They are all covering it pretty well and I agree that the good stuff in this movie is REALLY good.  The score is phenomenal (and Nolan didn’t allow the composer to see the movie before he scored it!!), the sound amazing.  The cinematography and the set design are astounding.  The fight scenes are (mostly) brilliant.   Leo is going to be up for many awards.  Did I mention that this movie will make a billion dollars?  It will.  You’ll love it.

My last prediction, though: Contrary to what so many critics are trumpeting this week… this will be nowhere near the best picture nominees come 2011.  It just doesn’t have the legs.

Rating: 8/10

Postscript: The lucky gal I was watching this movie with was dozing on and off throughout the movie.  It wasn’t because the movie was boring, it’s because it was LATE.   While I was watching the movie I was actually thinking about how unnerving it would be to half sleep through… to wake up and feel like you hadn’t really missed anything (or had you?)  I can’t imagine that experience.  I wonder if it was pleasant or terrifying?

From the desk of: Robert

Tiger Chimp.

A Russian chimpanzee has been sent to rehab by zookeepers to cure the smoking and beer-drinking habits he has picked up, a popular daily reported on Friday. [...]

“The beer and cigarettes were ruining him. He would pester passers-by for booze,” the Komsomolskaya Pravda paper said.

Link (via New Shelton Wet/Dry)

From the desk of: Robert

My Life (or Something Like It)

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Gurguen recruited five women in their early twenties (all natural brunettes) to stand, one at a time, by the side of a road popular with hitchhikers in France. Their job was to try to get motorists to pull over. Each woman was equipped with three wigs, blond, brunette, and black, which she was instructed to rotate every time forty cars had passed. When a car stopped, she (and two independent observers) kept a record of what color wig she was wearing and whether the driver was male or female.

Drivers prefer blondes, it turns out. Blond hair, compared with brown or black hair, inspired a statistically larger proportion of drivers to stop and offer assistance (18% for blondes vs 14% and 13% for brunettes and women with black hair respectively). Interestingly, this was true only of male drivers. Female drivers, who stopped less frequently for hitchhikers, showed no hair color bias.

From Love, Sex, Attraction… and Science

There is only one spot on the planet where grains will grow despite sub-arctic sunlight.

It is where the warm waters of the Gulf Stream wash ashore. The Baltic is the only place on earth where ocean currents keep it warm enough to grow grain despite dim sunlight.

When the inhabitants of this region switched to grain about 6 KYA, they suddenly got insufficient vitamin D to survive. They had stopped eating mostly meat and fish in a place where sunlight was too dim to produce vitamin D in normally pigmented skin.

And so they adapted by retaining into adulthood the infantile trait of extreme paleness. Blonde hair and blue eyes were other infantile traits that were just swept along accidentally.

From Google Knol, Why Are Europeans White

From the desk of: Robert

Sarcastiage at the Movies: It Might Get Loud

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Jack White > Jimmy Page > The Edge

Documentaries With Conflict > Those Without (which is why this one is an interesting failure.)

Also not sure why they chose The Edge — his style is without doubt different than the other two, but during the jam session he just looks lost.   Jack White astounds.

Rating: 5/10

From the desk of: Robert

Sarcastigate at the Movies: Ballast

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This one has me conflicted.  It’s beautiful.  It’s stark.  It’s well acted by a cast of Alabama locals that basically improvised the script.  The hand-held cameras do an unbelievable job of masking how much work must have gone into every shot.  It’s sad.  It’s so sad that it hits me RIGHT THERE.

Add up all of those and you’ll get a movie that I’ll love.  A movie that I’ll rave about and tell you to watch.  A movie I’ll sit through again just because the Blu-Ray copy looks so DAMN good for an indie film.

And then I’ll tell you that I won’t recommend this movie to you.  That I found myself just a little too bored for too much of this film.  Curious of where it was going but finding myself uncaring about where it could have ended up.  I didn’t predict any endings.  I didn’t call out any characters as “changed” or “fixed” or “better.”  I just watched it.  And it ended.  And that was that.  I went about my day much like the characters must have.  And therein lies the problem: it was just too much like real life.  Sure, Ebert loved it.  Sure, critics raved about it.  Sure, it wasn’t at all about MY life…  but it was about real life and the way we all spend so much time finding ways to struggle.  And, in the end, it was so beautiful, and so sad, and so “life-like” that I just wanted to get back to life.  Take from that what you will.

Ballast, 2009

5/10 (but as close to a perfect 5/10 as you will ever find.)

From the desk of: Robert

Al Franken Loves America?

From the desk of: Robert

Married With Children + 22 Years

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Nothing too crazy above… But…. the real shocker?

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Peg!

From the desk of: Robert

Eat Your Dog, Hippie (or Leftie best enjoy his German Shepard rug.)

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The eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year, researchers have found.

“If you have a German shepherd or similar-sized dog, for example, its impact every year is exactly the same as driving a large car around,” Brenda Vale said.

“A lot of people worry about having SUVs but they don’t worry about having Alsatians and what we are saying is, well, maybe you should be because the environmental impact … is comparable.”

In a study published in New Scientist, they calculated a medium dog eats 164 kilograms of meat and 95kg of cereals every year. It takes 43.3 square metres of land to produce 1kg of chicken a year. This means it takes 0.84 hectares to feed Fido.

They compared this with the footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser, driven 10,000km a year, which uses 55.1 gigajoules (the energy used to build and fuel it). One hectare of land can produce 135 gigajoules a year, which means the vehicle’s eco-footprint is 0.41ha – less than half of the dog’s.

They found cats have an eco-footprint of 0.15ha – slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf. Hamsters have a footprint of 0.014ha – keeping two of them is equivalent to owning a plasma TV.

Via The Dominion Post

From the desk of: Robert

“I hate fuckin’ cupcakes!”

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Photo by Christopher Griffith for Esquire Mag

Quote by David Chang for NYT Grubstreet (Via Olivia Via FB)

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