Thursday, July 17, 2014

Boehner v. Obama - What is a little legal action between friends?

Hark! Does thou hearest that? I feel a slow clap coming on... John Boehner is suing the president of these United States. Bravo... Well done... Splendid. It seems that the esteemed representative from Ohio needs a lesson not only in "letting it go" but American Congressional politics as well. Boehner is seeking legal action against President Obama on the grounds that the President is bypassing the legislative branch with Executive Orders. Boehner was last seen screaming the following from a mountaintop: “The President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action.”

Gasp! The villain! He must have the nation pinned beneath the weight of his arm and the blade that is executive action. Boehner, my good chap, how do I join this legal campaign of yours to end his tyranny? I have to ask, how many times has this scoundrel used this secret weapon in the past sixty-five month? 300...? 700...? Over a thousand? Am I hot or cold? 182. Wait, what? Well, that doesn't sound so bad, Boehner be a lad and give a brother some context. Let's take a look at the previous five commanders in chief shall we: Reagan - 381, Bush I - 166, Clinton - 364, Bush II - 291 and Obama - 182.

It seems like Obama's usage is in line with the presidents that preceded him save for Bush I. Which if one thought about it logically, Obama's usage is not extreme and if it is, why is Boehner pursuing a reckless lawsuit with little chance of success? Elementary my dear Watson, he is simply engaging in political theater with the hopes of riling up the base. Nothing like engaging in a frivolous lawsuit that will be paid with taxpayer money. Sign me up! Let's all waste political capital and effort on suing the President... Yeah, that makes sense! I guess frothing at the mouth over the Affordable Care Act has become a little stale. It will be interesting to see how this plays out since a recent poll puts fifty-percent of the participants against this pointless lawsuit.

One last thought:
I hope they don't use this as evidence--

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"The Disease was immune to bureaucracy" - In Defense of Blindness

In DEFENSE of: Blindness

I recall seeing the preview for Blindness prior to seeing a film with Hawk and Bence that I will not to defend (The Happening) and I was intrigued. After all, Fernando Meirelles has directed some films that I enjoyed such as The Constant Gardener and City of God. If one takes the devastating reviews of Ebert, the percentages of Rotten Tomatoes and the rest of critics to heart than you might be steered away from a relatively solid two hours of film. Is Blindness a great film, not really, the question should be turn to the faithfulness of the adaptation to source material. If it cannot convey the allegory present in the text than it truly is a failure.

Outside of some minor deviations from the source material, Blindness is quite similar to its literary counterpart. The problem that led to the adaptation failing to break even on its low budget was the message was missed completely. Protests from organizations representing the blind condemned the film as portraying the community as animals. I will be the first to groan (loudly) when people fail to understand allegory (in this case), metaphor or a plot device. These organizations latched onto a literal interpretation of the behaviors being shown on screen. The film was not an indictment of the actions of afflicted blind individuals as animals, it was one of humanity in general.

Namely, if a person is in a dire enough situation and all measure of social structure and control, there will likely be chaos or to put it in the context of the film, they will behave in an animalistic nature. Such critical luminaries as Ebert referred to the film as 'unpleasant and unendurable' because of the content flashing across the screen. I tend to disagree with this sentiment since a vast majority of the review deals with complaints about aesthetics and the score (While completely missing the point of what he is seeing). True, Blindness will not be gracing the Criterion Collection anytime soon but it is a solid effort by Meirelles and co. that remains faithful to the source material.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Movie Night: Top Five from the First Half of the Year

I can't believe we're here. How are we halfway through 2014 already? Well like every other blogger on these inter webs I love any reason to tout my "listalism" abilities. So without any fanfare here are my top five films from the first half of the year. One bit of knowledge for all you out there, there are multiple films that I wish I could have seen but have not found the time, so please keep that in mind when screaming at me for not having Under the Skin or Only Lovers Left Alive on my list.

5. The Lego Movie
Unbridled unapologetic and sincere fun. This film is far better than it deserves to be. Leave to Lord and Miller, the masters of the oxymoronic idea of irrevent homage, to craft an incredibly heartfelt film out of one big giant commercial for Legos. This makes me think they should take over the reins of the Transformers franchise. Their story here is incredibly relatable, yet they imbue this ode to creativity with some of the best humor of the year and some jaw dropping animation. This is a world constructed entirely of Legos and you could spend the whole time marveling at the design present in each frame.

4. Cheap Thrills
I just wrote about this, which you can all read below. In short, this is a tightly made incredibly well written and executed film. This film caught me off guard from the moment it began. There's no twist or secret, but as the film unfolds it takes you down a dark path that you were not expecting. It does this with such confidence and subtlety that before you know it, you're strangling the neighbors dog without remorse. This is indie filmmaking at it's best.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Best Marvel film ever? Well I've only seen it once, but if this isn't better than the Avengers then it's right on par with it. Captain America comes into the modern age and brings along a 70s inspired spy thriller that is full of action and somehow one of the most comic book like films Marvel has made. Evans owns the film as Cap, never once becoming a boring Boy Scout, but rather you see his internal struggle as he fights for his ideals even if it means questioning authority. Black Widow and Fury finally have a significant amount to do, and again Falcon was never this cool in the comics.

2. Noah
Aronofsky's incredibly ambitious bible epic turned super hero enviromentalist fable is unlike anything you're likely to see in the multiplex. As such I had easily my most divided response to this undeniably beautiful film. As time goes on, and I revisit my thoughts on the film, I find it growing in esteem. His imagery is unmatched, this film is full of some of the most cinematic and original frames of film I've seen. Aronofsky isn't likely to win any awards with this one, but I imagine in a few years time people will begin to realize the brilliance on display here. From the almost futuristic setting, to his gloriously bleak color palette, to his incredibly heroic framing of Noah even when he goes insane. This is a film that is overrun with layers. Easily one that could keep climbing the ladder.

1. Grand Budapest Hotel
At this point Anderson has perfected his particular brand of film. With each film he seems to fine tune and explore various interests of his, all the while staying within his own idiosyncratic stylistic choices. This is a director obsessed with perfection and attaining his own personal vision rather than pushing the limits of cinema. So while he may not be as dating as say Aronofsky or that other Anderson, he is still an impeccable craftsmen who engages with cinema in such a personal way it's impossible to not find his films whimsical and charming. This last film just might be his best, with all exuberance and wit of anything else he's done, there is a darkness and sinister undertone that slithers through the whole film. As fascists and murderers and thieves invade the film, it is up to our storyteller to keep the technicolor ideal of
the Grand Budapest Hotel alive.

Like I said there is still a ton of films I've missed, as well as the latter half of the year which I'm sure will bring us some amazing gems. Soooo what did YOU like this year?


One last thought - I would put this here, except I really feel like if you have no knowledge of this mans filmography the film will play little more than a fetish piece. Which I guess for him is par the course.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cool Stuff From Cool Directors: Jonathan Glazer

By all accounts Glazer has made one of the best films of the year with Under The Skin. A film that I, sadly, was unable to find time to catch in theaters. With the blu ray release quickly approaching I thought him a perfect candidate for this column. Having cut his teeth on music videos, Glazer's career has been defined by his incredibly unique approach to the medium. Reality is always slightly grim and incredibly cool. There is a calmness to everything he does, highlighted by moments of extreme energy or intensity. Beauty is ever present in each impeccably crafted frame with an undeniable darkness that slowly makes it's way to the foreground.

His work often has a subtle supernatural element that isn't necessarily explained. This Levi's commercial is a great example of this idea. Incredibly simple in concept, two people run through walls in jeans, but absurdly cool and well executed. He knows he doesn't have to tell you everything, but rather he lets the film speak for itself. Convention is nowhere near this guys work and cinema is better to have someone like him, continually engaging with the form at such a visceral level.


One last thought - dying to see this.