Movie Review: Russian Ark

Although Russian Ark is a stifling testament to first person point of view in cinema, I see little value other than sheer spectacle. Perhaps my limited knowledge of Russian history prevented me from understanding the deeper meanings within the plot and settings, but I believe I understood the main theme: Look how hard this was to make!

In theory, the idea of a one shot movie is interesting, but in actuality, I found the film to entrap me as a viewer. I couldn’t escape the nameless character I was supposed to be, and instead of identifying with him (the lens), I felt completely disconnected. In a weird sense of limbo (no pun intended), I felt as if I wanted to look at certain objects throughout the museum, but the camera wouldn’t let me. I had to see what “he” chose to look at. Although this is true in all films, editing breaks scenes down to allow breathing room.

Another downfall to this style is the simple lack of characterization. Without close-ups, we are left wondering what any of the characters think or feel. We mostly see our guide from behind, rarely given a chance to see who he even is. Everything he says seems to be buried in obscure metaphors, disorienting the viewer even further. The lack of characterization also presents a greater problem: a lack of plot. No conflict. No resolution, simply revelation.

Although I don’t think this works as a film, I do think it’s a lesson in how grand a movie can be in scope. The presentation of the final scene is one of the most cinematically amazing things I’ve ever seen. I also like the dream-like characters and dialogue. An interesting idea of what the afterlife could be like. Characters talk in and out of themselves, creating a circular dialogue that could be taken as gibberish or an attempt to explain the human condition. This could be used to great effect, but shouldn’t be the entire discourse.

I think this type of film will never succeed in the way a classically edited film can. If one shot is the goal, why not just videotape a play? On the flip side, I think the opening sequence to Snake Eyes is wonderful, actually liberating the viewer rather than entrapping him. Perhaps, then, the key to creating an entire movie in one shot is by using an objective point of view.

The Best and Worst Things of 2006

by Kenny Anderson

Best Invention:
Worst Invention:
The Loc8tor
The Chia Alarm Clock
Simply attach a transmitter to your keys, wallet, or whatever you usually lose, and the Loc8tor will find it for you. Perfect for total losers like myself.
This is Ch-Ch-Ch-Cheezy as hell. Who'd want to wake up to that annoying-ass song? Alarm Clocks are for working class slops anyways.
Best News Story:
Worst News Story:

Justice was served when this goonatic got hung mid-sentence as he was taunted by masked men. Dude was killed like a sick pig.

illegal immigration news? No one was going to do anything relevant, nor will they ever. These guys need to rent Traffic and relax.
Best Religion:
Worst Religion:
is dead ill. Not to mention Jews get tons of days off. While the rest of us "celebrated" Columbus Day, these fools slept in for Yom Kippur.
seems just plain goofy. Even if there is no God, isn't it worth a gamble just in case you end up gnashing your teeth in hell? Please.
Best Job:
Worst Job:
These skalanktroids get $Millions for simply playing games in school parking lots and sporting DC shirts. Then they get their own MTV show.
Coal sucks plenty, but being trapped in the mine and suffocating on your own skank would be enough to scare Loretta Lynn's dad!
Best City:
Worst City:
Austin, TX
Green Bay, WI
2 years in a row, ATX dominates the metropolis's to win best city. SXSW, official pretty girls, and superb BBQ were the deciding factors.
GB offers nothing of value. The lame casino and ugly strippers try to help, but utterly fail. Plus they all talk weird. "Would ya like a baaaag?"
Best Politician:
Worst Politician:
Nancy Pelosi
Dick Cheney
I welcome San Franciso values: Gay fags, bum cash, street urination, and fucking over the military. Hail to the first lady of sin!
This "straight shooter" took all your income tax and lined his pockets with bird shot. Then he told that Bush drone to "stay the course".
Best Movie:
Worst Movie:
Jackass Number Two
Gridiron Gang
From the opening penis-mouse sequence, I didn't stop laughing. Even the bloopers were worth staying in the theater for.
Even though I didn't see the movie, the preview was enough for this to warrant worst. Gridiron doesn't step up to the challenge.
Best Actor:
Worst Actor:
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
Daniel Johnston in Devil & Daniel Johnston
Finally, a real Bond. I actually liked Brosnan, but next to Craig he seems like a pussy. The TV commercials are right: DC is the best Bond ever.
This overweight maniac couldn't even manage to play himself. Ambiguity was lost in translation and don vito-like sputterances.
Best Actress:
Worst Actress:
Rachel Weisz in The Fountain
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld:Evolution
Who else could deliver the ridiculous line, "Together we will live nforever" with such elegance? Weisz plays kul-a-shay from queen to tree.
It's pretty bad when even a hot chick can't save a joke film, but Beckinsale's shit acting isn't enough to even keep my goth friends interested.
Best Album:
Worst Album:
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Arctic Monkeys)
Ys (Joanna Newsom)
'06 was a pretty bad year for music. Arctic Monkeys was the least of the evils, and provided enough drunken air guitar entertainment for the entire year.
Maybe I'm naive, but the "so bad it's good" idea is no idea ut'ull. What's the point of 12 minute long screeching randomness? Straight puke.
Best Song:
Worst Song:
"Get 'Em Daddy (Remix)" by Cam'Ron
"Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" by Flaming Lips
It's impossible not to look tough listening to this on your ipod whilst walking through a crowd. Just try to walk normal. You'll see.
What a let down! The Lips follow up Yoshimi with this crap song (and video) about fake power. Even The Pussycat Dolls song had substance!
Art Brut
All-American Rejects
AB busts up the mass with their insane antics. As the band prances around the stage, the molester-mustached singer tippy-toes into infamy.
only is their music god-awful, but the poser of a singer somehow manages to say the dumbest shit between each and every song they play.
TV Show:
TV Show:
American Idol
I actually like the new direction of the show... I don't think it's getting too weird, I think it's finally getting interesting!
Star Search was a good show. This is simply a karaoke contest judged by a bunch of hacks. Even the contestants are jokes in real life. Die.
Radio Program:
Radio Program:
Coast to Coast AM
The Rush Limbaugh Show
Noory takes C2C to the top once again. As the scary stories keep me awake, I can forget about all that crap I need to do in the morning.
I usally take what this guy says with a grain of cocaine, but 2006 was a bad year for Rush, as he decided to attack Marty McFly himself. Oops.
Best Magazine:
Worst Magazine:
Time Out
New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody talk about...Hmmm? Pop Music, Art,
Comedy, Theater, Film, Events, etc. etc. etc. etc.
Who reads this thing? Women? Gay men? I think neither. The only thing this boner-gawk magazine is good for is a white elephant gift.
Best Athlete:
Worst Athlete:
Gianluigi Buffon
Troy Smith
If Buffon hadn't blocked so many shots on goal, France may have been the champions. Thank you Godluigi. Buy Puma.
Huh? He wins the Heisman then gets sacked like 50 times to lose the championship! Smith will soon be a legend but meantime he is a real loser.
Best Sport's Moment:
Worst Sport's Moment:
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Romo blows it
The best thing about the fight was that it came out of nowhere. Without instigation, the Miami adminisration wasn't sure who to suspend.
a sad day whenever a fat fanatic couch potato can do better than a pro athlete. If I didn't hate Troy Smith, Romo would also win worst athlete.
Best Artist:
Worst Artist:
Allen Brem
90% of everything I make somehow ends up being a rip-off of the NIN photographer
/ cinemetographer / web designer.
paints cows like a 5 year old, and, not having a venue to show these monsters
in, puts them up for sale in Austin ice cream shops.
pay for movies, music and applications? This members-only torrent
site is less-monitored than piratebay but has just as many tunes.
simple google search for song lyrics will point you to this non-working
website full of annoying ads and pop-ups. Why does it even exist?
is worth it's weight in gas. XM radio, warming seats, auto mirrors, crash
warning system, and room for sex. You can ride dirty in this car.
commercial alone made this the worst vehicle of 2006. After portraying
"our" country as a backwoods wasteland, this is NOT my truck.
ADHD cure-all works wonders for normal people. It puts you in hyper-focus
without all the nasty side effects of smoking crack.
got to me in 2006. After a month-long coughing fit, I decided it was time
to quit, but couldn't because they are addictive! Help!
Apple Store
else can you check your email, attend a seminar, and make fun of geeks all
for free? Only problem: crowds of people asking about iphones.
everything's 80% off, but only because it's throwaways from real
department stores. Don't expect that discount on your returns, either.
Mam's (Austin, TX)
(Austin, TX)
your delicious Thai dish is as easy as sitting at a traffic light. Red is
sweet. Green is spicy. Yellow is somewhere in between. Mmmmm.
pretentious strip mall establishment attracts only the finest wankers.
Their specialty: Tiny portions of fish food and watered-down gin.
Chicken Wings
cares if they're messy? These tender little delights are good any time of
the day, and even go with beer. I could eat about a gagillion.
almost took the crown here, but peaches reign supreme as nastiest slime
ball food. 4th year in a row, will it make it a 5th? Time will tell.
Hang Out:
Hang Out:
(Clinton, IA)
York Public Library
Without anyone to impress, you can get away with anything in this local bar. Pitcher's of beer are only $2 and they don't card minors. Sweet.
A great place for A/C on a hot day, but I thought people only "shhh'd" you in movies. Even youngsters will tell you to "please keep it down."
Burger King Star Wars Watch
reversable timepieces actually give you 2 wicked watch designs in one. Plus
you can find the entire set (6 watches) on ebay for only 99¢.
welcomed the return of the babysitters club until I saw some fat chick
sporting these. Trendy snowpants would be a good compromise.
in general is kind of disgusting. It's just dead cells and requires too
much maintenance. Bald guys can cut their own hair and save on toiletries.
is just plan gross. I heard that you can't even wash your hair when you
have dredlocks! At least Medusa could shampoo her snakes.

Movie Review: The Fountain

I admit bias in this review, as Aronofsky is probably my favorite up and coming director today. Needless to say, The Fountain blew me away. That said… I am not sure if this is a really great movie or the worst, most pretentious piece of garbage ever caught on film.
The story centers around a surgeon (Hugh Jackman) attempting to find a cure for his dying wife (Rachel Weisz). This story is inter-cut with two other stories. The first is from a book that Weisz is writing (set in 1500 A.D.) which parallels the events happening in their lives. The second is another parallel set in 2500 A.D., and could be interpreted as the final chapter of Weisz’s book or as Jackman’s actual future. A great bedtime story for insane children only.

Aronofsky uses every trick in the book to tell these three stories. His use of symbols such as circles and continuity between nearly every shot connect the viewer back and forth between scenes that are literally light years away from each other. He also uses proximity to turn a woman into a tree, and her brain into ancient Spain. Cool.

The Fountain succeeds and fails, however, by using these techniques. The 5 year long production must have given the filmmakers time to throw too many details into the photography. The over-use of symbols and repetition seems very pretentious and carries a “so what?” theme sometimes more than intended. The very simple story gets bogged down by repeatedly using the same metaphors and allegory throughout, and in the end doesn’t really go anywhere but where I already expected. I think it would’ve been more successful as a short, leaving out the slow moving, repeated sequences.   

The greatest strength of the film is the use special effects, lighting, and cinematography, which are so bizarre, that they are totally self-aware. At no time do you forget you are watching a film, which was definitely the intent. The over-saturated light is beautiful and portrays the idea of immortality wonderfully. Aronofsky often fades to pure white between sequences, waking the audience from the dark images throughout most of the film. There was only one CGI effect used. The other effects were created by filming inside a microscope, and made the entire film look like a beautiful screen saver. This was a great way to cut production costs (The budget dropped about 80% after Brad Pitt dropped out) and looked 100 times better than CGI.

Although the main story line could use some work, I do understand that Aronofsky had to do multiple re-writes for Hollywood to OK this film. Story aside, the simple use of editing out of sequence and photographic technique made this the most original film I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t decide whether to rate The Fountain a 10 or a 0, so I am forced to give it a 5. Not Aronofsky’s best work, but I’m still looking forward to the director’s cut.

Concert Review: Cordova - New York City, NY - The Annex - 08.03.2006

Have you ever been at an alt-punk show? "No where to stay? No where to go?" I have. In the midst of the worst heat wave to hit this side of the Sahara in years, Cordova decided to climb into their van and hit the road to New York.

I wandered into The Annex just in time to sniff some poppers and make my way to the stage, but it didn't matter. There were only about 12 people there anyway (any more and I'd consider this band too popular to like of course). Checking out Cordova themselves, I noticed that despite the blazing heat outside, the lead singer was wearing a straight up complete Harry Potter outfit: collared shirt, tie, sweater, and jacket. Huh? I was wearing shorts and still sweating. It's hard to look cool when you look so hot. His band-mates were not as dressed to impress in their street clothes, but who really cares about that?

Throwing global warming to the side, Cordova announced, "We're Cordova from Pennsylvania!" Hit it. Bang! The singer accidentally dropped his Epiphone creating the loudest, ear piercing noise I've perhaps ever heard. Jim Carrey from Dumb & Dumber (who coincidentally resembles the lead singer) would be proud.

cordovaLet's try this again. "We're Cordova from Pennsylvania!" Hit it. The mix was off. What the fucking hell. All I heard was a loud guitar and some drum cymbals. For the 80 billionth time, a band that might be descent got ripped-off by a bad mix. All I heard was Rnaaah Naaaa Crasssshh Naaaa Na Na Na Rnaaaah Nee Crassssh! From what I could make out, this band sounded like a cross between Cursive and The Descendents, but I don't really know much about music anyways, so I could be wrong.

Even though I couldn't make out a single note or understand a single word, Cordova was still impressive to watch. The singer, despite rumors of being over 30 years old, had the energy of a 29 year old. He flailed wildly around the stage, nearly spearing his band-mates with every note he jammed, breaking guitar strings, and almost eating stage over and over. How he actually played the songs during his antics were beyond me, but then again, I couldn't distinguish one guitar from the other anyway. The lead guitar player was a little more chill, but crazy enough, barely surviving as the singer's guitar swung inches from his head. Matt the drummer played like a man possessed, putting his weight into each and every cymbal crassshhhh. The John Entwistle-ish bass player watched the drums for cues, and could care less about putting on a show.

A few songs later I finally made out a word. "Forever". Yes, I actually understood a single word. This jam was actually my favorite, because I could also pick out a nicely played lead guitar line over the singer's rhythm. I like to think the song is called "Forever" ... That's what I call it in my head, anyways. Even though the mix was horrible, I was really liked that song. "Forever."

Another song, then another. By now I was getting drunk and really tired of the noise. Fun to watch, not fun to hear. If I wasn't so afraid of looking like a pussy in front of everybody, I might have plugged my ears. But, to my surprise, Cordova's set ended after only 6 short songs. Alhamdu Allah.

After they left the stage, I sat wondering if the band was good or not. Nothing against Cordova, or any loud emo band, but they really need to consider shelling out for a small sound team if they keep playing in bars. Why spend countless hours writing songs and practicing, if it's all going to transform into mush live? Even after watching Cordova for 40 minutes, I have no idea what they really sound like, but despite the weak crowd and mix, they gave it their all, and seem like they could be good I guess?

Concert Review: Foreigner - Riverboat Days - Clinton, Iowa - 07.03.2006

'Twas a dark and stormy night. With my friend Sully backstage meeting the band, it was time for me to hit the Riverboat Days beer tent and get my buzz on. Considering there were so many old people I recognized in the crowd, I had to be slick about it. A bunch of nobodies from high school had the same idea.

Skip ahead to the concert. Seconds before the band took the stage, Sarah Stuzeski (sp?) hooked me up with her VIP pass. Front row to Foreigner baby! Immediately after taking our places at the stage, some hillbilly bitches starting complaining that they could no longer see. This is really the only thing that ever sucks about being tall. Concerts. In an effort to appease, I kinda kneeled down on the railing, yet they still gave non-stop dirty looks and comments. Some people don't understand what rock concerts are all about. It's not like we were at a Barry Manilow show. This was front row to Foreigner baby!

foreignerSo bang, bang, rock and roll, the band hit the stage opening up with some song that sounded pretty familiar, I think it was "Feels Like the First Time." Whatever. The odd thing I noticed was the girl to the left of the stage doing the sign language to the lyrics. She didn't even have a spotlight on her, not to mention the huge festival crowd spanned the length of 2 football fields. I sure hope any deaf person there had fuckin eagle eyes.

The band continued on with more songs that everyone knows, but didn't know who played them: "Cold As Ice", "Long Way From Home", "Head Games", etc. The greatest thing about the concert was the crowd's reaction. Nothing is better than watching my friend's parents trying to sing along to verses they don't know, while double fisting Busch Light and pumping their fists in the air. Even still, I found myself
doing the same thing during the choruses to these classic ballads.

The rocking slowed down as the Mick Jones (the only remaining original member) busted out "Starrider" from the first album. This was the best song of the night, somewhat resembling psychadelic Pink Floyd, and lasting well over 15 minutes. "Starrider" actually made me want to check out some of Foreigner's other stuff (songs that aren't on the radio). Jones then introduced the band, and they all came up to to the mikes to sing an acoustic track. Lame, except it gave me a chance to see Jason Bonham (Foreigner's drummer and son of John Bonham) up close.

As the band came back into the swing of their rock hits, I noticed that my other friend Adam had left my side, and his always-too-drunk brother John was now there. John demanded I give him my t-shirt to throw on stage, despite the staff ladies (moms of friends) telling him not to do it. Fuck it, I was wearing a rain coat anyway. In a perfect throw, he winged my t-shirt onto Thom Gimbe's shoulder, who then proceeded to keep rocking "Dirty White Boy" with my attire attached. John, naturally, got kicked out.

I also noticed that Sully never made it to the stage, and his mom came in his place. She had seen Foreigner back in the 70's so this was nothing new to her, although she really got going during "Urgent", and somehow actually knew all the words.

Considering Foreigner has so many hits, the show was dragging on a little, hit song after hit song, everyone was just waiting for "Juke Box Hero" (the only song I even knew was theirs). Then it happened, the stars were in their eyes, the guitars hit, and "Juke Box Hero" was in full effect. Besides being the loudest song I've ever heard, it was somehow almost the most kick-ass. They played the chorus a few extra times to please the crowd, and I noticed that Bonham's beat had changed into something that sounded strangely familiar. Yep. Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" a.k.a. fucking tight. Foreigner should really consider becoming just a Zeppelin tribute band, as they rocked that song better than a million shit cover bands I've seen before.

After the Zeppelin tribute, Kelly Hansen looked right at me - in the eyes - and stated he was going to slow things down a bit, singing a song for anyone who was missing someone tonight. Ugghhh. Even sign language lady was losing interest. Sully appeared just as the band started their worst song, "Waiting For a Girl Like You." At least this gave us a chance to catch up on old times, despite the hillbillies again complaining that they couldn't see.

He stayed to watch "Say You Will", and took off during the intro to "Hot Blooded", which by now was guaranteed to be their last song, due to the after-the-show-based lyrics. Even though my knees were killing me from crouching on the rail, I decided to ride it out in hopes of grabbing a guitar pick after the song. To my surprise, Bonham himself walked to the edge of the stage and threw me his signature, beaten-to-hell drumstick. Not a bad souvenir. The drunken, bitchy hillbillies behind me started complaining yet again, saying I ripped the stick out of their hands, and demanding I give it to them. Shit. My only defense was a few firecrackers in my pocket, and who knows? These Foreigner fans could have guns. I got the hell out of there as some lady was screaming at me about how she deserves the stick because she saw Zeppelin on the Physical Graffiti tour. Wow. Tough crowd.

Supposedly, the band was going to party at McKinley Street Taverne, but, considering they were so old and had too many damn hit songs to jam out, they were too tired to go. Oh well, I probably have nothing in common with those guys anyway. Instead, we all went over to the retard school to shoot off massive amounts of fireworks, with the stipulation that anyone could touch my new drumstick for $5.


Media Doesn't Matter - Media Matters attacks NBC for no reason

Sun, Jun 30, 2006

Media Matters criticized NBC for letting an author appear on The Tonight Show


Contact Information

Media Matters

(202) 756-4100

email link

1625 Massachusetts Ave.
NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
Summary: Media Matters attacked NBC for allowing their talk show hosts to interview Ann Coulter, calling her rhetoric "hateful."

Once again, Media Matters For America criticized a media outlet for simply interviewing a guest they did not like, this time stating that NBC was "milking the controversy" over Ann Coulter's new book -- Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Although Coulter's book debuted as number one on The New York Times bestseller list, Media Matters claimed that NBC was simply trying to "capitalize on the ratings boost" of and create controversy over the book by having her appear on three shows in a one week span. Matt Lauer, Jay Leno, and Brian Williams all disagreed with her most controversial views within the book.

Media Doesn't Matter For America has also documented a sililar case in which Media Matters attacked Donald Rumsfeld for appearing on a radio show they didn't like.

Media Doesn't Matter For America asks what other networks should be censored in the fight to keep freedom of speech off of public television.

From the June 14 edition of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

LENO: Please welcome Ann Coulter.

COULTER: My perspective on it is -- I understand you had an Ann Coulter joke last night, Jay.

LENO: Oh, I have a bunch of Ann Coulter jokes all the time.

COULTER: That I was worried about Dorothy's house falling on me.

LENO: I think that was the joke, yeah. And then, I had the -- the other joke was I liked you fighting Sigourney Weaver in the Alien. I think that was the other movie I did.

COULTER: Well, see, in my perspective I'm Dorothy --

LENO: Really?

COULTER: -- and I've just dropped my house on the mainstream media.