Saturday, May 01, 2004
-----------------------Belated Film Reviews
The Limey (Soderbergh, Terrance Stamp, Henry Fonda,1999): 7.5/10
The attempted moral horror in this film is not what makes it stand out, and those who suggests otherwise are being a little disengenuous. What's the moral horror after all? An ex-con tries to find his daughters killer and the path boomerangs back to himself. Its not a revelation because his shitty relationship with her is fleshed out all through the movie in retro sixties flashbacks. Some critics mention the Limey as a contrast to Kill Bill or Tarantino perhaps, but I suspect they like the film precisely because of its similarties. What makes the Limey get attention is its clever editing and use of old footage as flashbacks, and on top of that, its dead pan dialogue that reminds of a certain diner. Enter old crazy brit into Californian landscape with ex-con Hispanic sidekick and the script writes itself.
Stamp: I'm gonna have a butcher's look.
Guzman: who you gonna butcher?
Stamp: Butcher? hook, look?
Stamp: Where did she meet this bloke?
Guzman: She said she met him at a beach...said she was blinded by his smile. Can you believe that shit man--The motherfucker never smiled at me.
Black Cop (played by token black guy from Predator):
There's one thing I don't understand. That one thing I don't understand is every motherfucking word you said.
Assistant to Bad Guy: He said, "Tell him I'm coming."
Fonda (Bad Guy): Tell him I'm coming?
Assistant to the Bad Guy: Tell HIM I'm coming.
Fonda: ...Jesus, you sound like the six o'clock news.
Assistant to the Bad Guy: Who the fuck are you? You're not even God.
If the dialogue highlights the moral bankrupt landscape, it also includes exchanges between the heroes of the film, don quixote (terrance stamp) and sancho panza (luiz guzzman). It includes most of what some people like about Tarantino (good music, dialogue, and bad-ass posturing) and excludes what some don't (extreme masturabatory impulses). That films are so deviod of meaning these days that one confuses the presence of meaning with "moral horror" is somewhat amusing.
What I've mentioned so far may seem like a caricatured premise with tongue-in-cheek dialogue. The enduring virtue of the film is not what Soderbergh has created, but what he has brought to light. And that is the out-takes from the old Terrance Stamp movie, which provide the backbone for the rare humanizing moments.
I don't think the sidekick roles are going to end for Luiz Guzman until he actually plays Sancho Panza in a Don Quixote movie.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
-----------------------Its back to square one as everyone is holding on to the Kurds as if its the last day on earth and some are saying the US might have to succumb to the temptation of creating three different federations, with Kurdistan being the new American beacon in the middle east. Of course, people like Chris Hitchens, assuming he buys into the idea any time soon, will have to argue why this is completely different than the "divide and quit" tactic of the british empire. I suppose one of the reasons would presumably be that unlike the British who didn't really give a shit about any of participants of the partition, the US will be active in siding with the Kurds in the long term. The problem, though, would be Syria flooding the Sunni federation with its people and Iran flooding the Shiite federation with its own. And if both federations welcome this influx, there goes the dwindling metric on the fight against islamofascism. It will also be a huge loss in the propaganda war, with the Arabs looking at Kurdistan as American territory with oil revenue coming out of Kirkuk-- a cross between Guantanamo and Saudi Arabia--and feeding the conspiracies that the US was out to break Iraq apart. When the US leaves the Sunnis and Shiites and pitches a tent in the north, moderate Iraqis in the two federations could feel betrayed to the extent that if the US launches attacks into those areas to clean out terrorists again they will be in a fight against the whole population more than ever.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
-----------------------Finished reading T.C. Boyle's Drop City...entertaining in an adolescent sense. Makes me miss the days of Greasy Lake. In this one he goes too far in establishing the hippie commune's premise and one can immediately see that the entire attempt and the people involved are going to fall on their face. The hippies' failures are attributed to their simple stupidity and selfishness, which is not a bad thing in and of itself but...the work's virtues could have been helped if the commune collapsed under a more rigorously defensible premise. The idea that even a pinch of hippy thinking may lead to a catastrophe would have been more interesting to explore, and the result would have been much more revealing if that were the case. Watch von Trier's The Idiots instead, or Together by the Swede whose name I cannot spell yet. But Boyle's taste in quotes is appreciated.
-----------------------Kill Bill 1-2 (Tarantino et al, viewed separetly): 5/10
Takeshi Miike's films make QT's attempts at gory real life japanimation sequences look minimalist in comparison and entirely forgettable except for the actual cartoon part. The second installment should have just have the Bride training with Pai Mei and be entitled "A Silly Day at Pai Mei's Summer Camp."
Monologues on african snakes in the film remind one of the lame monologues of aliens talking about DNA in Speilburg's awful Artificial Intelligence. Other dialogue is limited to: "My name is Buck, and I like to Fuck." This is the film version of a shitty Beck song, and conveniently, it is carried on the merit of its soundtrack and well, Bill himself.
-----------------------Unraveling events in Cyprus as told by a frantic British football (read: soccer) commentator:
Turkish Cypriots grow mega-balls and vote yes on the Annan Plan. Shell-shocked Greeks Cypriots declare next six months "a national holiday." Allow rest of the world to "chill the fuck out." Greeks expect Denktas and posse to torepedo the Plan in the last-minute, and in absence of such a torpedo, end up out-Denktasing Denktas! Turkish Cypriot bad-ass-come-prime minister Mehmet Talat tells President Denktas to resign after narrowly winning an election months ago and topping it off by convincing Turkish Cypriots on unification by a 2:1 margin. 24% of Greek Cypriots strut colossal balls and vote yes despite huge harrassment from Greek No-Camp. Denktas says he will not resign because his goal was to destroy the Annan Plan, and it was destroyed. Wimpy Turkish reporters fail to point out to him that majority of Turkish Cypriots did not want to destroy the Annan Plan, and that he aggresively acted against their wishes. The "mega-balls" of Turkish Cypriots disputed by Greeks who say that they had nothing to lose anyway and also disputed by No-Camp Turks who say the Yes-Camp was falsely encouraged by the mainland Turkish Government. The mega-balls status of Turkish Cypriots reinstated after shattering the former argument by pointing out that an entire Turkish village that was to be evacuated entirely and handed over "lock, stock, and barrel" to the Greek side under the Annan Plan actually voted FOR the plan. Mainland Turkish Prime Minister also calls bullshit on latter argument, and implies that the government only assured Turkish Cypriots that they would not be reprimanded if they stood up to failed leader Denktas. Some Greek Cypriots still call the plan as "rewarding the agressors". Some smart ass points out that the Turkish north has seen 30 years of sanctions and embargos that has made its economy null and void. Another smart ass points out that Turkish Cypriots in their 30s now were wearing diapers in the invasion of 74.
In the post-game press conference outside the locker rooms:
UN ambassador De Soto does a lot of "biting my tongue" when asked about Greek side's hurtful propaganda leading up to the referendum and expresses diplomatic speak for "fucked up.". Reporters at press conference stand amazed at his continued ability to speak, assuming that there would be no more tongue left to bite.
Mainland Turkish Foreign Minister Gul walks a fine line by calling the partition pretty much "permanent".
Referendum unveils unpleasant statistics for Greek side. 85%+ of Greek Cypriots between ages 18-24 voted against the plan. Before the vote, former Mainland Greek prime minister Papandreo came out in favor of the plan and support for him and his party took a further dive, same goes for former Greek Cypriot leader Clerides, while in-office mainland prime minister Karamanlis took a grudinginly neutral position, and support for him and his party increased. Statistics show increasing support among the Greek population for "Fuck the World" politics that has unfortunately infected Greek CYPRIOTS, the same kind of politicics, incidentally, that Turkey is attempting to rid itself of. Not good news after the 90s greek public anti-Nato sentiment and Serbian sympathizing. Meanwhile, pundits attribute the Turkish Army's silence on the matter as an inability to say anything that doesn't sound absolutely nuts. Others note that they are probably too busy chasing white supremicists and former Turkish(??) members of the Ku Klux Klan, and magicians! not kidding, but its old news. The Turkish acronym for the Army's decision Commitee is the funniest/worst PR mistake ever, at least switch the acronym to English as well...god help us.
Arnold pays his respects to the Armenians on Genocide day, which is a couple of days after Earth Day and a day after Turkey's own Children's Day, and within a week's range of Saddam's birthday. Turkish newspapers are fondly seen attempting irony by quoting " Terminator" and "Conan the Barbarian." Arnold annoyingly refers to Istanbul circa 1915 as Constantinople (circa 1450s), and actually weakens the effect of the statement-- making the event seem ancient and dreamlike.
Istanbul comes from the Greek "into the city", so there is no reason why everyone should not embrace the hipper alternative. Wouldn't it have been better if New Amsterdam souvenirs were to read "New Ams"?