The reasons for my extended absence mainly have to do with that I just felt like I haven't had much to say except whine about my financial situation. As a general rule, I don't gravitate to journals which harsh my mellow so I've always refrained from taking mine down that path. The other thing is that I've been addicted to the online version of a game called Carcasonne, introduced to me earlier this year by my brother-in-law. Every time I'm online and have time to kill, that's where I head.
I addition to working, sleeping, and playing Carcasonne, I've immersed myself in television and film as usual. Whereas I once had a jones for rock music, these days I've become more of a film buff. I recently revisited one of my favorite shows of all time, Northern Exposure, from the early 90s. If you've never seen it, an overly simple encapsulation would be that a hostile Woody Allen and a neurotic, defensive Audrey Hepburn are thrown together in rural Alaska. Hilarity and hijinks ensue. What I didn't realize is that the executive producer of the show was David Chase, who went on to create The Sopranos for HBO. In the last couple of seasons of Northern Exposure, the dude who plays Tony Soprano's Jewish lawyer has a small recurring role as Joel's rabbi.
But movies... mooooovies. I have watched a shit load of movies since I've been back on the road. Upwards of 200 of them since the end of April. Below the cut is a list of films I've seen for the first time, with snap judgments and half-assed assertions for some of them. If you feel like discussing any of them, feel free to drop a comment.
Hudsucker Proxy - It's not often you seem a film with a literal deus ex machina.
Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More - 1974 Scorsese picture which spawned the television sitcom Alice. Flo is more of a sexpot and Vera is waaaay creepier in the film version.
Edmond - Mild-mannered husband William H. Macy snaps one night in New York City and and finds himself in deep shit really quick.
Road To Perdition - I like period films but Tom Hanks bores the shit out of me.
Silkwood - Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, and Cher work in a nuclear facility.
Sideways - Ok, I love Paul Giamatti but pairing him with Thomas Haden Church as his best friend? For what is essentially a pretentious road movie through California wine country? What the fuck was he thinking?
Interstate 60 - Somewhat campy, yet surreal, comedy starring Gary Oldman.
Bronx Tale, A - There are fewer suave mother fuckers on this planet than Chaz Palmanteri.
Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder noir with Fred McMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G Robinson. Sunset Blvd. notwithstanding, Wilder was better at comedies.
Producers, The (1968) The original Mel Brooks picture about a corrupt Broadway producer (Zero Mostel) and a neurotic accountant (Gene Wilder) who stage the musical "Spring Time For Hitler".
Life Of David Gale, The
Name Of The Rose, The - Christian Slater as a monk's acolyte, played by the venerable Sean Connery has got to be one of the worst casting decisions ever.
Matador, The - Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan have great chemistry in this quirky comedy about a burned-out hitman.
Last Waltz, The - Scorcese concert film of The Band's last live performance.
Ben-Hur - One of the great epic films starring Charlton Heston, known most famously for its chariot race. It's this film from which the Monty Pyton gang swiped not only their title graphics for Life Of Brian, but the general idea of a narrative about a man living during the time of Jesus Christ.
Ali - Will Smith is impressive as The Champ.
Streetcar Named Desire, A - I don't see what the big deal is about this picture. Probably my least favorite Kazan film to-date.
Star Is Born, A - I had to watch this because it's like, my mom's favorite movie and I had to know what the fuss was about. There isn't. My mom just has this thing for Kris Kristofferson.
Guy Thing, A - I've long had a wee bit of a crush on Julia Stiles and generally like Jason Lee. Julia Stiles must hold some kind of record for being the most famous actress of reasonable talent to be in consistently shitty movies.
American In Paris, An
River Runs Through It, A
Angela's Ashes - I think a kid dies like, every ten minutes in this depressing tale of impoverished life in Ireland.
Badlands (1973) - Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek portray the Starkweather-Fugate killing spree of the 1950s.
Queen, The - Helen Mirren in the title role. Examines the royal family and the chain of events in the days following the death of Princess Diana.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bride Of Frankenstein
Player, The - Easily over-looked Robert Altman flick from the early 90s. It's no MASH or Gosford Park, but it has its moments.
Baby Doll (1956) - Another Kazan picture with Tennessee Williams for source material. Much more enjoyable than Streetcar for my money. Stars Karl Malden and Eli Wallach.
Killing, The (1956) - Great early Kubrick picture. It's a heist/caper film about a plot to ripoff a horse track.
Bullets Over Broadway - Chaz Palmanteri... suuuaaaaave mother fucker.
Boys Don't Cry - Hilary Swank is a capable actor but she makes too many fucking depressing movies.
Letters From Iwo Jima - Am I the only person who finds Clint Eastwood's director projects ham fisted and overbearing?
Bukowski: Born Into This
Bullitt - Steve McQueen. 'Nuff said.
Love Song For Bobby Long, A - Scarlet Johansson's knees. 'Nuff said.
In Good Company - Ditto.
Bride Of The Monster - Ed Wood fiasco starring Bela Lugosi.
Bridget Jones: Edge Of Reason
Lenny - Dustin Hoffman as the controversial comic Lenny Bruce, who challenged American notions of decency and obscenity in 1950s.
Bringing Up Baby - Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn are fantastic in this 1938 comedy.
Swimming With Sharks - Kevin Spacey in a low budget film about the movie industry. Spacey appears to be working out issues for not having had Baldwin or Pacino's role in Glenngary Glen Ross.
Road To Wellville, The
Piano, The - The world probably could've been spared Harvey Keitel's junk.
Narc - Gritty police drama with Jason Patric and Ray Liotta. Not a lost a gem, more of a diamond in the rough.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie
Caligula (1979) - Bob Guccione's valiant effort to make a big-budget, mainstream porn film, starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren and... John Gielgud. Jesus.
Catch 22 - Alan Arkin was never better than in this WW2 movie based on Joseph Heller novel, adapted for the screen by Buck Henry.
Cabaret - I'm not a huge Liza fan but this is one of the few musicals I freely admit to enjoying.
Cannibal: The Musical! - ...and if you hate musicals, you'll love this.
Carolina - Another Julia Stiles picture. Totally a chick flick, but not as bad as a lot of her movies. Having Shirley McClaine and Randy Quaid on-board didn't hurt.
Hostage - You can bank on Bruce. Not as great as Die Hard, but it ain't no Hudson Hawk either.
Journey Of Natty Gann, The
Stardust Memories - Woody Allen pays homage to Fellini's 8 1/2.
Hamlet (Olivier) - Olivier's Hamlet set the standard in the era of film and by which all, film and stage alike, are often judged.
Clockwatchers - Funny, low-budget look at the the life of office temps with Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow.
Apartment, The (1960) - Billy Wilder comedy starring Jack Lemmon and spunky Shirley McClaine.
Mildred Pierce (1945) - Joan Crawford in one of her quintessential ice queen roles, but you can see the plot twist coming from a mile away.
Virgin Suicides, The - I was surprised by how much I liked this movie which is a feat considering how much I don't like Kirsten Dunst.
Spiderman 3 - I've come to the conclusion that I just really don't like Thomas Haden Church and of course, there's Kirsten. Best Bruce Campbell cameo yet.
Mona Lisa Smile - Girl power!!!!!! in the early 60s. There's Julia Stiles and Maggie Gylllelennahahalanenenla but alas, there's Kirsten Dunst, too.... again. Poor Dominic West. I hope he at least boned one of them.
Man On Fire - I couldn't find a single redeeming quality about this movie, then again I find that the case with most Denzel Washington movies.
For Your Consideration - Christopher Guest movie with the usual suspects, though oddly not in the mockumentary style he's generally known for.
Seven Year Itch, The (1955) - Billy Wilder comedy with Marilyn Monroe which gave us the iconic image of her standing on the subway grate, even though in the film itself, it doesn't show her above the knees during that scene. That aside, one of the funniest films you'll ever see.
East Of Eden (1955) - Elia Kazan picture with James Dean and Julie Harris based on the John Steinbeck story. Better than Streetcar, not as good as Rebel Without a Cause.
Family Stone, The - My infatuation with Rachel McAdams is renewed with this movie. Great cast, great story, great acting and funny as hell.
Notebook, The - Predictable and cloying but ohhh Rachel McAdams.
Apostle, The - Robert Duvall as a pentecostal evangelist played without a hint of satire or irony. Genius.
Big White, The - Sort of a screwball version of Fargo. Holly Hunter steals the show. Also stars Robin Williams, Giovanni Ribisi and Woody Harrelson.
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind - A look at the insane life of game show legend Chuck Barris.
Cold Mountain - I hate Jude Law. Renee Zellweger is awesome. Set in the final months of the American Civil War. Superb set and costumes.
Strictly Ballroom - Hilarious and original Australian import about competitive ballroom dancing.
Midnight Run - Robert DeNiro and Charles Groden? Actually, Charles Groden and anybody for that matter?
Shakes The Clown - Bobcat Goldthwait as an alcoholic clown. Surprisingly funnier and more clever than it has any right to be.
Producers, The (2005) - Film version of the Broadway musical inspired by the Mel Brooks film of the same name. I love Nathan Lane, but Zero Mostel was better and Matthew Broderick is surprisingly good in the Gene Wilder character. Personally, I think it was a mistake to completely cut the character "L.S.D" who gets cast as Hitler in the original.
Take The Money And Run - Woody Allen comedy about an ineffectual petty criminal. Completely unsubtle and full of great gags.
Word Wars - A documentary about... competitive Scrabble players.
King Of Kong, The - A documentary about... competitive classic video players.
Whale Rider - Well executed New Zealand import about the the modern day lives of a native family and their tribe.
Da Vinci Code, The - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Dazed And Confused - Richard Linklater's "American Graffiti" for the 70s.
Death Becomes Her
Don Juan de Marco - It's just great to see Brando work, even at this age. Depp is always awesome to watch, too. Too bad the movie blows.
Dead Man's Cards - Low budget Irish import about the lives of a couple of aging pugilists trying to make a living as bouncers at a local pub.
Stranger Than Fiction - Emma Thompson and Maggie Gylllelenanhllalanenelhlalnhnl are awesome. Queen Latifah and Will Ferrell are respectable in this quirky, surreal, and stylish romantic comedy.
Super Mario Brothers - Possibly the worst movie ever made?
Empire Records - I was disappointed by this after hearing so many good things.
Down To You - Another Julia Stiles picture with Freddie Prinze, Jr. The streak continues.
Frisco Kid, The (1979) - The unlikely pairing of Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder in a western. Not really a comedy, not really a straight western drama. The pacing is tedious.
Harvey (1950) - Jimmy Stewart and his imaginary friend Harvey cause quite a commotion.