Archives for the Month of June 2009 on Cereal Monogamist
Epic Wednesday: Westerns
Tomorrow was meant to be a double header of two classic films based on novels, films which decided to recreate the experience of reading the novels by taking approximately as long to watch them as it would take to read them. I.e., Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia.
Unfortunately, Lawrence of Arabia is apparently an extremely hot property. It's been borrowed from both Case's library as well as Cleveland Heights'.
Subbing in, then, are the following movies:
The Wild Bunch
Unlike war movies or mob epics, westerns actually tend to clock in at extremely short and manageable times. High Noon is an impressive 83 minutes long. Shane and The Searchers both fall just on the sweet side of two hours at 118 and 119 minutes, respectively. The Wild Bunch is slightly over two hours, but this is not a problem both because my movie stamina is at Olympic levels right now, and also because it's got William Holden in it.
See you tomorrow, Bill!
Reviews: Epic Wednesday: Mob Rule
I started with Scarface, figuring that I wouldn’t want to watch it after six hours of Godfathering. All I really knew about it was that it was a remake (but not really) of a crime film from the 30s, and that at the end Al Pacino says, “Say hello to my leetle friend.” And shoots people. Also, you can buy the poster at any college bookstore.
More about Scarface, as well as The Godfather(s) after the jump.
Some Thoughts About EW's 100 New Classics list
I watched Evil Dead 2 last night, which was a singularly terrible experience. I won't go into too much detail about the movie itself other than to say that watching it was not unlike watching one of the many pieces of trash I used to see on Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Saturday mornings, the only difference being that the hilarious commentary provided by Mike and the robots which made the movies watchable was missing. (Click here for a clip, if you're uninitiated in the wonders of MST3K and you have no idea what I'm talking about.)
Anyway, this terrible movie, which Entertainment Weekly considers the 83rd best movie of the last 25 years (nestled comfortably between Oscar-baits Lost in Translation and Sideways, and a full eight spots above legitimate classic Back to the Future) prompted me to think about the EW list, and to question why so many of the movies I have hated watching have come from this list.
The one thing I've continually said about all these movies I didn't like--Fatal Attraction, Spider-Man 2--and the ones I already knew I didn't like--this is where The Matrix and Pretty Woman come in--is that they're iconic. They're movies people know and recognize. I hate Pretty Woman, but I would never argue that other people didn't love it, or that Julia Robert's performance wasn't star-making. And I know that Evil Dead 2 is a cult film, loved by horror geeks for its potent combo platter of slapstick and gore.
What the Entertainment Weekly list has not promised, so far, is well-crafted movies. Movies that make sense, with stories that hold together, with strong performances, with sure-handed direction. Those movies have occurred on the list, you understand, but they are not guaranteed like on the AFI lists. It's good that I know that now, so I can manage my expectations going in to the next one, which is, frighteningly, Blue Velvet.
By the way, besides being the writer-director for the travesty that was Evil Dead 2, Sam Raimi also produced and directed the Spider-Man movies. I feel pretty confident that I can write this guy's movies off as "not to my taste" from now on--or, in the immortal words of Christian Bale, "you and me, we're f***ing done professionally," Mr. Raimi.
Ohio: Save Our Libraries
The following is the text of an e-mail I sent to Ohio governor Ted Strickland regarding this proposed budget cut.
I am writing to voice my displeasure about the proposed budget cut for Ohio’s public libraries. I am not a native Ohioan—I moved here in 2008 to begin graduate school at Case Western Reserve University—but I live and work here now, pay my taxes, and would like to be heard on this issue.
I have been endlessly impressed by the quality of the public libraries I have seen here. I am a regular visitor of several branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library system, as well as, more recently, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library system. You should know that, in a state and city so desperately in need of new blood, excellent libraries such as these vastly improve the quality of their communities. Fine libraries attract students, professionals, and young families—earners and spenders who can keep local businesses afloat. I will not live in a city that’s forced to board up an underfunded library; nor will I work in that city. I expect that I am not alone in that sentiment.
I implore you to reconsider the cuts which will devastate our public library systems, and, consequently, the communities in which we live.
Case Western Reserve University
Resident of Cleveland Heights
For more information: the official website of the Save Ohio library movement.
As an avowed carb enthusiast, I'm taking a break this morning between drug deals (Tony Montana’s, not my own, I promise!) to let everybody know about the N Cereal AA going on over at Tomato Nation. It’s a bracket tournament in which cereals compete (by garnering reader votes) for supremacy. The author of the site, Sars, has already done similar tournaments with cheese (winner: English cheddar) and ice cream (winner, in a stunning upset: mint chocolate chip).
If you think you can choose between Cheerios and Golden Grahams, visit the site and vote today--and keep visiting. These things move quickly. In between votes, there’s lots of play-by-play write-ups, and as an added treat, Sars is being joined in this tournament by her friend Tara, arguably the funniest woman on the Internet. If you don’t believe me, just head over to Sling.com and read her recaps of the first season of Beverly Hills 90210 (the original, with the sideburns and the Shannen Doherty and whatnot).
Epic Wednesday: Mob Rule
A preview of tomorrow's viewing schedule:
9:00am: Scarface ('83)
12:00pm: The Godfather
3:00pm: The Godfather Part II
Run time: just over nine hours, total
Al Pacino quotient: high
Body count: presumably will also be pretty high
My mobster movie education has been pretty limited up to this point; or so I was told when I dared to tell somebody that my favorite mob movie was Donnie Brasco.
But really, a film buff such as myself going almost 30 years without seeing The Godfather is in itself a crime. Tomorrow I will make amends.
Lots of thanks to Sis and Husband of Sis for lending me the DVDs.
Movie Reviews: Men versus Women edition
Well, is the movie good? The performances are good. The film itself is memorable to the point of being iconic—it has incredible cultural value, providing a snapshot of male-female relations during this screwed-up period in the 70s and 80s when women were making these huge strides towards independence and equality amidst a really severe backlash. I think the movie accurately presents the fear men must have felt about the way women were usurping their cultural roles.
But it’s a man’s fear, not a cultural fear, and that fear was/is irrational, and the movie doesn’t make that point; instead it uses the filmic conventions of a horror film where the “monster” is a needy, aggressive woman, and then it destroys her, because that’s what you do with the monster at the end.
More about Fatal Attraction, plus Harry Meets Sally and I hate the world, after the jump.
Epic Wednesday: Ancient Rome
Due to last month's move, and the attendant difficulties, I've not been making the progress on my movie list that I should have by this point in the summer.
So, starting yesterday, I established Epic Wednesday to knock off two to four movies in one day, preferably those which are "epic" in nature (i.e. insanely long) or those which are part of a series. Though I got a bit of a late start, I made it through Spartacus (3 hours, 18 minutes) and Ben-Hur (3 hours, 34 minutes). Spartacus is about the uprising of slaves, trained as gladiators, in ancient Rome. Ben-Hur is about the conflict between Jews and Romans in the Roman-ruled Jewish-inhabited historical land of Judea.
How did the films compare?
More Movies, More Problems
Last night, I made a poor personal choice...I watched almost the entire remake of Halloween. No, this was not on my approved viewing list. And I paid for this stupid decision to watch this movie by having to actually have watched it.
The entire conception of the movie is weird: despite the fact that Halloween (the 1978 film directed by John Carpenter) had a kajillion sequels, someone (it was Rob Zombie, a heavy metal musician turned director) decided to remake the first film. In keeping with Mr. Zombie's (heh) aesthetic, the new Halloween creates a backstory for murderous, masked rampager Michael Myers so that the audience is forced (yeah, forced is the right word) to feel empathy for an ax murderer.
I'm not going to write too much about this movie, which is just god-awful from beginning to end. I will remark on two things (after the jump).
I've been spending a lazy Sunday morning reading some entertainment forums I like. I was following a discussion about annoying TV cliches, and people started bringing up the fact that TV characters only care about Ivy League colleges. One person chimed in to say that the cliche was accurate for the Boston-based teenagers she knew, then hastily begged everyone's pardon for potential offense.
I hope I didn't offend anyone. I attended a perfectly respectible state college in the Midwest.
As someone else who attended a state college in the Midwest and now attends a private college still in the Midwest, neither of which any TV teenager would be likely to have heard of, this statement makes me sad. Why?
Way to wave the flag for us, lady.
My Commuted Sentence
Commuted sentence: the reduction of a penalty to make it less severe
Jeremy is working a short overtime shift today, and I drove him there this morning. We passed by campus to get there, and, as I've done every time I've driven to campus since we moved, I marveled at how short the drive is now.
For people who might not understand the magnitude of the change, I've provided some helpful screenshots.
Here is my old drive from Chagrin Falls. Note the absence of freeways between the old apartment and campus; it was residential or city streets the whole way. Also note Google's calculated drive time, 35 minutes. Yeah, by air maybe.
Now look at the new drive. Of course, this map is magnified, compared to the other. Google suggests a drive time of 7 minutes, which is accurate, red lights notwithstanding.
For a comparison, look at this map; it's the original route from the 'burbs, with my new address indicated by the red arrow.
Yeah. IT'S NICE.
The Food-Mood Connection
This may sound a bit flaky of me, but I have better days when I begin them with better breakfasts.
A good breakfast can get me out of bed earlier. An "everything" bagel and a container of cream cheese will prompt me awake maybe two hours earlier than margarine on bread. A bowl of Cheerios with skim milk falls somewhere in the middle.
Also, after having a filling breakfast, I wait patiently for lunch, and then have a proper meal, such as a sandwich. When I have to cobble a breakfast together out of odds and ends, I don't satiate my hunger and then I snack all day, which is not particularly nutritious. Regular meals also ground me in a routine, keep me from letting time slip away (which can happen so easily on vacation).
This seemingly insignificant commentary is all for the purposes of communicating that I am home from my weekend out of town, my cupboards are still mostly bare from the move, and I fear that a lack of appropriately tempting breakfast foods will translate into a lack of motivation for the duration of the day.
Speaking of flaky, this is what I wish was in my cupboards this morning...
Cool Guys and Explosions
I've got tons to say on the subject of our recent move, but I'm too tired to approach that right now.
In the meantime, I have to link to this video from MTV's Movie Awards. By some amazing coincidence, last night Jeremy and I discussed the same cinematic cliche which is mocked in this video while Jeremy watched the end of Shooter. In fact, the very moment from Shooter that prompted my comment is in the video: the "Mark Wahlberg is wearin' a hat" moment.
I should get around and watch one of the million reruns on the Movie Awards on the off chance of there being more Andy Samberg hilarity. This link will bring you to a bunch of the digital shorts he's put on SNL since joining the cast. Do me a favor and skip ahead to page 4 to watch "Cookies," which is my favorite.
Sad to say that Will Ferrell's Neil Diamond impression is a bit rusty, though. The impression is in full force in this Gap commercial: