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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Don't worry, they'll get him buried correctly one of these times.

I saw a number of lower-budget films this weekend, but mostly they aspired to be like their older, richer cousins. Night Watch and eXistenZ emulated, but sadly couldn't quite pull off, the established Hollywood style. Three Burials on the other hand, is an absolute denouncement. Tommy Lee Jones finally gets his chance to direct, and apparently wanted to do things a bit differently. I was reminded of the directorial works of Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. I guess working within the system for so long makes one hunger to do something more meaningful when given license.

You would think some focus groups would have warned him against using the name "Melquiades" in the title. Half of America can't pronounce it (which means half of America won't go see it.) Similarly, you'd think they would wait on the release of such a powerful drama in order to garner more Oscar votes. I left feeling like this film is clearly better than any movie that's currently under consideration for the best picture award for 2005, but I'm sure people will forget by next year's Academy Awards. My hope is that Jones got that feedback and did whatever he wanted to do anyway.

Beyond superficial differences, Three Burials diverges from the mainstream because it is not a typical revenge film. Though Barry Pepper's character is despicable through the first half of the film, we aren't led to hate him, and we're certainly not given the "reward" of seeing him blown in half by an angry shotgun. (Sorry Walter and Steve.) Instead, we're given the reward of seeing him cry, of seeing a plausible redemption... a cinematic feat much more difficult to achieve.

And finally, the cinematography and the acting are fantastic. Pepper should be nominated for best actor, Melissa Leo for supporting actress, and Dwight Yoakum deserves mention for his continuing greatness as a character actor.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bit o' dialogue overheard 10 years ago

Nato: Happy birthday Soup, ya son of a bitch!

Soup: Thanks, but hey, don't talk about my mom that way.

Nato: Don't worry, I was talkin' about your dad.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

OMG I'm Old

The new joy of my life.

I ran into a cute girl in the laundry room last Friday night. She was slowly sorting through her underwear waiting for me to finish emptying the dryer. After an exchange of a few shy smiles, I packed off my laundry basket with a farewell, "Exciting Friday night, huh?"

I went back to my apartment and admired my new dishes from Uwajimaya. God I love them... They give me a deep sense of fulfillment that no underwear-folding hottie ever could.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Brush with Hollywood Fame

Here are my (rejected) costume designs for Matt Murdock and Bullseye for the major motion picture version of Daredevil. I tried to pitch them to director Mark Johnson, but Colin Ferrell and Ben Affleck wound up looking ridiculous instead.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Carless in Seattle?

I am roasting on a spit of indecision. No car is immortal, and mine (as a Ford) is more mortal than most. As I speed past the 125,000 marker on my odometer, I realize that my big green Taurus is not long for this world. Whatever shall I do when the day comes... when my head gasket blows right there on the middle of the I-90 bridge? When the clutch burns out whilst trying to climb the steep Seattle hills from downtown to Capitol Hill? That day approaches and I think it's wise that I have a plan.

My mechanic says I should look for a Honda Accord from the early 90's with 150K or less... Good city car, fairly economical on gas, easy to park, etc. Internet gurus say that I should unload my car as a private seller on Craig's List--that dealer lots are infested with piranha and sharks. My civic conscience wants me to buy a new hybrid. But my bank account has a different opinion still. And inertia is telling me that I might get another year or two out of the Taurus, so why worry now.

But a little spark inside says, "Why not become carless?"

I've owned a car pretty steadily since I was 19, and some remarkable feelings have come up for me the last few days as I've considered going without one: Unconscious fears of dependence; absurd loathing of the inconvenience of buses; even *gulp* strange dreams of impotence. But when I dispel that haze of fear, there are lots of interesting reasons to become carless, and a potential pot of gold at the end of the path.

1. Exercise-Think how much additional exercise will I gain by walking everywhere.
2. Interdependence-I will cultivate healthy appreciation for both public transportation, and for carpooling options, not to mention an even greater appreciation for what my local neighborhood has to offer.
3. Money-OMG Could there be a bigger extravagance in my life?! When I think about oil changes, gasoline, parking costs, insurance and all the other little costs of car ownership, becoming carless seems like the only sane option.
4. Moving toward a less-oily footprint-There's no way to justify my current level of oil consumption, especially as brutality and greed play out on the global stage.

So... do I dare it?

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Super Bowlsh*t

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselback played well enough to win

This year's Superbowl was supposed to be won by the Pittsburgh Steelers. They came from the superior AFC conference, had the momentum and underdog status throughout the playoffs, are America's team, were playing in a stadium close to their hometown, etc, etc, ad naseum. They were supposed to win, but it was the refs that made sure of it. Seattle has been screwed before on the national sports stage (See the Seattle SuperSonics Western Division Championship game 7 against the Phoenix Suns back in 1993, when the league was determined to create a Barkley vs. Jordan finals.) This time, it was just as egregious. Early on Pittsburgh was given a gift touchdown when they should have been held to a field goal (+4 points for Pitt.) Meanwhile Seattle was robbed of two touchdowns; one on a lame offensive passing interference call on Darrell Jackson, and another on an even more ridiculous holding penalty. It could be argued that the second only guaranteed a field goal, but anyone who has watched Shaun Alexander waltz into the endzone whenever Seattle has the ball inside the 5 knows better (-10 points minimum for Sea.) So, as far as I can tell, the refs gave the Steelers at least 14 points in bogus penalties and a bad touchdown call. Since Pittsburgh actually won the game 21-10 (a margin of 11 points) I'd say Seattle should have won by a field goal.

Actually it didn't feel that close. Seattle punished Pitt up and down the field. The great Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for a pathetic 123 yards with zero TDs and 2 pics. Seattle won the total yards contest by about 60 yards, and the time of possession battle 33 to 27. Over and over again, I kept saying, "Why are the Hawks losing this game... they are dominating on the field." Timely penalty calls, and three improbable offensive plays by the opposition; one a 70 yard TD run, one a broken play that miraculously turned into a 30 yard completion and lastly a flea-flicker trick play that created Pittsburgh's 3rd touchdown. I tip my hat to the Steelers for making some great plays, but play the same game 10 more times over the next 10 weeks, and Seattle wins 7 of 'em.

The saving grace for me was that after the game, I got a good start on the recording project. I finished one role, a robot voiced by Andres Springborn. Then Mel recorded her much longer role. She did an admirable job giving life to Wonder Woman... even willing to act in front of silent observers, Diane and Andres, and unafraid of scaring the neighbors with her battle cries.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Music Awards for 2005

Since I recently did a Top 10 List for movies, and other people are beating me to the musical punch, I suppose I have to produce a similar list of albums that moved me in 2005. So, here are my best bets for good listens from last year (some of which have appeared on the Good Listens Station, and some will be forthcoming) :

01) The Books~Lost and Safe
02) Antony & The Johnsons~I am a Bird Now
03) Andrew Bird~The Mysterious Production of Eggs
04) Soel~Memento
05) Bright Eyes~I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
06) Sigur Ros~Takk
07) Common~Be
08) Gorillaz~Demon Days

09) Fruit Bats~Spelled in Bones
10) Edan~Beauty and the Beat

The Books were an easy choice for album of the year for me... nothing else was nearly so compelling, deep and rich as their Lost and Safe tracks.

Iron & Wine's Woman King and Music A.M. were disqualified for only being EPs.
The Stars, Dirty 3 and Madvillain just missed the top ten cut.
And I couldn't reward Sufjan Stevens with a spot here since he's already atop every critics list in the whole freakin' world. And I couldn't reward The Decemberists, since Rachel left the band.

Click here to visit Metacritic, an interesting media review site where you can read up on any of these fine releases.