Monday, June 25, 2012

The Ask - Sam Lipsyte


"When Milo loses his job, then gets a chance to have it back if he can reel in a big fish — a major gift from an old college friend who’s now a Machiavellian tech millionaire — he starts down a grim and spiraling path. Manipulated and degraded by the millionaire, Purdy; frozen out by his quite friendly yet unapologetically adulterous wife, Maura; even disrespected by his penis-obsessed preschooler, Milo thrashes around trying to stay afloat while he luxuriates in his growing despair and resentment. To make matters worse, Purdy has an illegitimate son, Don — a viciously angry Iraq war amputee — who turns out to be Milo’s homework: to get the donation, Milo has to keep tabs on Don and funnel hush money his way." (NY Times)


Beirut - The Rip Tide


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Supremes - "Where Did Our Love Go?"

But is it boring? No.

‘I Just Want to Feel Everything’: Hiding Out With Fiona Apple, Musical Hermit

"She pulled out the piece of hotel stationery “that’s gonna make me look crazy.” She hesitated and said she couldn’t understand why she was so nervous. I interrupted to say I was nervous too. For the first time, she looked at me. Her eyes were huge and green, like mint chocolate chip when it melts. “That’s very” — she laughed — “mirror neuronal of you.” I asked what mirror neurons were. She said they’re what “make you feel empathy.” Here, she began reading rapidly, furiously, from the small piece of paper:" (NY Mag)

But is it boring? No. 

Food Is The New Rock Episode 2 w/ David Chang & Peter Meehan

"The only good thing about Yoko Ono was 'Oh Yoko!'" 

"Aw, man. I'm a, I'm a Yoko Ono fan." 

 "Aww, man? Really? I'd always get bummed out when I saw her eat at Honmura An, and she'd eat soba there and I'd be like, 'Fucking...that's fucking Yoko Ono.'" 

 "Yoko Ono ruuuules!"  

But is it boring? No.

Bon Iver - Beth/Rest (iTunes session)

But is it boring? No.

Twin Shadow - Five Seconds


But is it boring? Yes.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cat Marnell on Jane Pratt, Her Book, and Splitting From

"Well, I’m a pillhead, and I had some medication run out, and I couldn’t sleep. That was Thursday, and I’m supposed to write four times a week, and I’d already done that. Most of the time I couldn’t even make that, but I did then, so I didn’t go in on Friday. Then I used drugs heavily that weekend, which was my choice, whatever, I party. And I had forgotten my phone at the office by mistake, but I didn’t even care. And then the Internet got turned off in my apartment, and because I didn’t even have a phone I couldn’t turn the Internet on, and I had no way of getting ahold of anyone. And then I got sort of depressed, as pillheads are wont to do. And put up my blackout curtains and just went to bed for a week. I didn’t call them [my co-workers at], didn’t tweet, didn’t do anything." - NY Mag

But is it boring? No.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) dir. Wes Anderson

"This is an evocation of young love in a more innocent America: a charming, beautifully wrought, if somehow depthless film; heartfelt and thought through to the tiniest, quirkiest detail in classic Anderson style. There are the familiar rectilinear shots and compositions with letters and drawings suddenly filling the screen like courtroom exhibits." (The Guardian)

But is it boring? No.

TV’s Best Talker: Aaron Sorkin on The Newsroom, Sorkinism, and Sounding Smart

"Oftentimes, I write about people who are smarter than I am and know more than I do, and I am able to do that simply by being tutored almost phonetically, sometimes. I’m used to it. I grew up surrounded by people who are smarter than I am, and I like the sound of intelligence. I can imitate that sound, but it’s not organic. It’s not intelligence. It’s my phonetic ability to imitate the sound of intelligence." - NY Mag

But is it boring? No.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Raid: Redemption (2011) dir. Gareth Evans

"I am dismayed. I have no prejudice against violence when I find it in a well-made film. But this film is almost brutally cynical in its approach. The Welsh director, Gareth Evans, knows there's a fanboy audience for his formula, in which special effects amp up the mayhem in senseless carnage.

There's obviously an audience for the film, probably a large one. They are content, even eager, to sit in a theater and watch one action figure after another pound and blast one another to death. They require no dialogue, no plot, no characters, no humanity. Have you noticed how cats and dogs will look at a TV screen on which there are things jumping around? It is to that level of the brain's reptilian complex that the film appeals." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Hell No. (*Roger Ebert is a boring old biddy!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Days of Heaven (1978) dir. Terence Malick

"Terence Malick's 'Days of Heaven' has been praised for its painterly images and evocative score, but criticized for its muted emotions: Although passions erupt in a deadly love triangle, all the feelings are somehow held at arm's length. This observation is true enough, if you think only about the actions of the adults in the story. But watching this 1978 film again recently, I was struck more than ever with the conviction that this is the story of a teenage girl, told by her, and its subject is the way that hope and cheer have been beaten down in her heart. We do not feel the full passion of the adults because it is not her passion: It is seen at a distance, as a phenomenon, like the weather, or the plague of grasshoppers that signals the beginning of the end." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Yes.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) dir. Billy Wilder

"Kiss Me, Stupid is not likely to corrupt any sensible audience. But there is a cheapness and more than a fair share of crudeness about the humor of a contrived double adultery situation that a husband-wife combo stumble into." (Variety)

But is it boring? No.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Paper Moon (1973) dir. Peter Bogdanovich

"By now everybody knows that Ryan O'Neal and his real-life daughter, Tatum, play the man and the girl. But I wonder how many moviegoers will be prepared for the astonishing confidence and depth that Tatum brings to what's really the starring role. I'd heard about how good she was supposed to be, but I nevertheless expected a kind of clever cuteness, like we got from Shirley Temple or young Elizabeth Taylor. Not at all. Tatum O'Neal creates a character out of thin air, makes us watch her every moment and literally makes the movie work (in the sense that this key role had to be well played)." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005) dir. Shane Black

"'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang' is made for a fairly specific audience; it helps if you are familiar with the private eye genre in general and the works of Raymond Chandler in particular (the movie has five chapter headings, all taken from Chandler's titles). But do the titles come from Harry Lockhart, or do they exist outside his mind and suggest that Shane Black's screenplay has another level of comment on top? That would be roughly like the subtitles in 'Domino,' which have a different point of view than the narration." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Fargo (1996) dir. The Coen Brothers

"The Coens are at their clever best with this snowbound film noir, a crazily mundane crime story set in their native Midwest. Purportedly based on real events, it brings them as close as they may ever come -- not very -- to everyday life and ordinary people. Perversely, the frozen north even brings out some uncharacteristic warmth in these coolly cerebral film makers, although anyone seeking the milk of human kindness would be well advised to look elsewhere. The Coens' outlook remains as jaundiced as it was in 'Blood Simple,' the razor-sharp 1984 debut feature that the much more stylish and entertaining 'Fargo' brings to mind." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Dogville (2003) dir. Lars von Trier

"Lars von Trier's Dogville gives us America on a soundstage and a Rocky Mountain township rendered in chalk marks on the floor. It is Von Trier's America and Von Trier's township, and this enraged some viewers who dismissed the film as a crude, blinkered diatribe from a man too timid (on account of his aversion to air travel) to actually visit the country for himself. And yes, Dogville is crude and arguably blinkered as well. But it is also electrifying, gripping and audacious: the work of a director at the peak of his powers." (The Guardian)

But is it boring? No.

Big Night (1996) dir. Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci

"The time is the late 1950's, the place the Paradise, a failing Italian restaurant in New York run by two irresistible brothers. Both are fiercely proud, and their culinary relationship is so close that each has opinions about how the other minces garlic or wields a salt shaker. Secondo (Mr. Tucci) is the front man, debonair and impeccable, humoring the few boorish customers that the restaurant is able to lure. As his name suggests, Primo (Tony Shalhoub) is the artist, hiding himself in the kitchen and muttering about crimes like 'the rape of cuisine.'"(NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valhalla Rising (2009) dir. Nicholas Winding Refn

"In the tradition of multinational European auteurism, 'Valhalla' puts a Sergio Leone hero in a Werner Herzog landscape, filmed in Scotland, with mostly British actors playing bands of Nordic warriors. The Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, star of Mr. Refn’s 'Pusher' trilogy of crime films, does his best Clint Eastwood as One Eye, a scarred, silent pagan killing machine who has blood-red visions of the future." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes. Holy shit, yes.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991) dir. David Lynch

"It’s critical boilerplate to say that the best narrative art creates a world. But the world of 'Twin Peaks' is a truly rich and commodious one, attentive both to narrative mythology and to character back story, suited equally to the scrutiny of fanzines and dissertations. At its best the show achieved a crazy, cosmic harmony, setting the comforts of the everyday against the terror of the void. The great unifying element is Mr. MacLachlan’s superbly unflappable performance, a witty distillation of the Eagle Scout qualities often ascribed to Mr. Lynch (whose cameos as Cooper’s hearing-impaired boss provide some of the funniest scenes)." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes.

Ceremony (2010) dir. Max Winkler

"In its mixture of the quirky and the downbeat, 'Ceremony' aspires to be a hybrid of Noah Baumbach’s 'Margot at the Wedding' and Wes Anderson’s 'Rushmore' but falls far short. For one thing, the Zoe-Sam connection is preposterous on any level. The movie hints that Zoe has an impulsive wild streak, but because it devotes more time to her insufferable stalker, her character remains only a sketch." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) dir. Terry Gilliam

"Whether you will be similarly enthralled on leaving 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' largely depends on whether its will-o’-the-wisp story, from a script by Mr. Gilliam and Charles McKeown, means less to you than the movie’s hallucinations, its self-conscious play between the theatrical and the cinematic registers, and its charming performances. It might also depend on whether you can see past the loss of Mr. Ledger, as Mr. Gilliam has tried, and instead hold onto this last, bittersweet performance." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes.

Le Samouraï (1967) dir. Jean-Pierre Melville

"Thomson wrote that this film is 'so tough that its impassive romanticism is not just fascinating, but nearly comic.' Some of the comic details are so quiet they could be missed. Consider the bird in Costello's drab hotel room. It is a gray, shabby bird (of course) with an unpleasant chirp. Why would this man have a bird? Is it even his? Did it come with the room? The bird's chirp provides an amusing payoff after the cops wire the room and set up a tape recorder that records only . . . chirps, for a while. Apart from the bird, the room contains the following personal possessions of Costello: His trench coat, his fedora, his pack of cigarettes, and a bottle of mineral water. At one point, he walks over to an armoire, and on top of it, I was delighted to see, were rows of water bottles and neatly arranged packs of cigarettes. You smile because such details are a very quiet wink from Melville, telling you he knows what he's up to." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Yes.

Seven Pounds (2008) dir. Gabriele Muccino

"I am reminded of a film you should see some day, Melville's 'Le Samourai,' about a man who lies on a bed in a dark hotel room and smokes, and gets up, and pays meticulous attention to his appearance, and goes out into the night, and we have no idea who this man is. I find this more interesting than a movie about a man whose nature and objectives are made clear in the first five minutes, in a plot that simply points him straight ahead." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Hunger (2008) dir. Black Steve McQueen

"And in the course of this haunting, often grueling film, Mr. McQueen makes you acutely conscious of the relationship between language and action, the gap between relatively abstract terms like 'resistance,' 'radicalism' and 'hunger strike' and the concrete deeds that give them flesh. The scope of 'Hunger' is too narrow, its methods too intensive, to offer anything like a full historical analysis of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and it does not really set out to explain why Sands and his comrades did what they did. Instead Mr. McQueen shows how they did it, and in what circumstances, and the fruit of his inquiry is both horrifying and, strange to say, beautiful." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes, but it's redeemed by a welcome stretch of dialogue in the second act, if something this boring can be said to have acts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (2008) dir. Jean-François Richet

"Vincent Cassel is the overwhelming fact of both films. He doesn't give Mesrine great depth, because how can he? The man was a psychopath, immune to movie psychology. But he gives him great presence. He is brutal, ugly, powerful and inscrutable. In other roles he's none of those things; he looks nice when he smiles. But he finds such cold ferocity in Mesrine that he's like a wild animal who kills for survival. I don't think Mesrine likes killing. He just frequently has to." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Yes.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008) dir. Jean-François Richet

"The build-up to this slaying forms the opening scene to Jean-François Richet's terrific film, though the sequence is presented in a tricksy split-screen manner, misleadingly hinting that the film will be in the wacky Anglo-Saxon style of The Italian Job or The Thomas Crown Affair. Instead, Mesrine is in the tradition of Jules Dassin's Rififi or Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge: muscular, forthright storytelling, hard-smoking, hard-drinking action, horribly incorrect attitudes, brutality with a top-note of self-loathing, bushy moustaches and a cracking lead performance from Vincent Cassel as Mesrine." (The Guardian)

But is it boring? No.

Funny Games (U.S.) (2007) dir. Michael Haneke

"The images Mr. Haneke puts on screen (they are shot with crisp, glossy-magazine elegance by Darius Khondji) are shocking, but they don’t unfold with the usual slasher-movie jolts of grisliness. The camera frequently stands still as the horror unfolds just beyond its range, and when a bloody event takes place, we are likely to be shown the face of a passive witness rather than that of the perpetrator or the victim." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Half Nelson (2006) dir. Ryan Fleck

"'Half Nelson' isn't one of those 'inspirational teacher/mentor' movies -- at least not in any generic or conventional sense. There's no triumph, no breakthrough, no by-the-numbers victory in test scores or on the basketball court. This movie isn't about those things, but is concerned with an even greater achievement that is generally unacknowledged: how people -- flawed, miserable, frustrated people -- go to work every day and find a way to care about something beyond themselves, despite themselves." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Brick (2005) dir. Rian Johnson

"Maybe 'Brick' is a comedy. There is something cute, if not outright ludicrous, in the spectacle of dewy young actors striking the poses of hard-boiled demimondaines and desperadoes and failing utterly to make them come alive. The movie seems to have its tongue stuck in its cheek during a final showdown in a suburban basement, during which the impervious mother of a teenage drug lord is upstairs baking cookies. But funny it's not." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

The Triplets of Belleville (2003) dir. Sylvain Chomet

"To call it weird would be a cowardly evasion. It is creepy, eccentric, eerie, flaky, freaky, funky, grotesque, inscrutable, kinky, kooky, magical, oddball, spooky, uncanny, uncouth and unearthly. Especially uncouth. What I did was, I typed the word "weird" and when that wholly failed to evoke the feelings the film stirred in me, I turned to the thesaurus and it suggested the above substitutes -- and none of them do the trick, either." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Yes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mulholland Dr. (2001) dir. David Lynch

"Since these questions are being pondered by a master surrealist re-examining his own obsessions and personal iconography, 'Mulholland Drive' ranks alongside Fellini's '8 1/2' and other auteurist fantasias as a monumental self-reflection.

Looked at lightly, it is the grandest and silliest cinematic carnival to come along in quite some time: a lurching journey through one filmmaker's personal fun house. On a more serious level, its investigation into the power of movies pierces a void from which you can hear the screams of a ravenous demon whose appetites can never be slaked." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

In the Mood for Love (2000) Wong Kar-wai

"'In the Mood for Love' is probably the most breathtakingly gorgeous film of the year, dizzy with a nose-against-the-glass romantic spirit that has been missing from the cinema forever, a spirit found in F. Scott Fitzgerald, the best Roxy Music and minor-key romantic movies like the forgettable 1956 'Miracle in the Rain,' where the lovers' suffering is sealed because of the chasteness of the era. Sex scenes couldn't be spelled out, and as in Mr. Wong's film, yearning becomes the epoxy that holds the material together." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes.

You Can Count On Me (2000) dir. Kenneth Lonergan

"The way so many lives coast along on familiar but frustrating paths is one of the themes of 'You Can Count on Me,' the perfectly pitched directorial debut of the playwright ('This Is Your Youth') and screenwriter ('Analyze This!') Kenneth Lonergan. Because it arrives near the end of one of the most dismal film seasons in memory, this melancholy little gem of a movie, which won two major awards at the Sundance Festival, qualifies as one of the two or three finest American films released this year. If nothing better comes along between now and the end of December, it could reap some more honors." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes.

L.A. Confidential (1997) dir. Curtis Hanson

"Brilliantly adapted from James Ellroy's near-unfilmable cult novel, it casts anything-but-A-list stars (yet) in a story with three leading men, no two of whom can be construed as buddies. It embroils them in a cliche-free, vigorously surprising tale that qualifies as true mystery rather than arbitrary thriller and that revels in its endless complications. Take a popcorn break and you'll be sorry." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Jackie Brown (1997) dir. Quentin Tarantino

"This is the movie that proves Tarantino is the real thing, and not just a two-film wonder boy. It's not a retread of 'Reservoir Dogs' or 'Pulp Fiction,' but a new film in a new style, and it evokes the particular magic of Elmore Leonard--who elevates the crime novel to a form of sociological comedy. There is a scene here that involves the ex-con Louis (Robert De Niro) and Ordell's druggie mistress (Bridget Fonda) discussing a photograph pinned to the wall, and it's so perfectly written, timed and played that I applauded it."

But is it boring? No.

Lost Highway (1997) dir. David Lynch

"It's a shaggy ghost story, an exercise in style, a film made with a certain breezy contempt for audiences. I've seen it twice, hoping to make sense of it. There is no sense to be made of it. To try is to miss the point. What you see is all you get." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Yes.

Fallen Angels (1995) dir. Wong Kar-wai

"'Fallen Angels' certainly abounds in visual pizazz, clever in jokes and trendy pop references, but such things can carry a movie only so far." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

12 Monkeys (1995) dir. Terry Gilliam

"This apocalyptic nightmare, a vigorous work of dark, surprise-filled science fiction, is much tougher and less fanciful than the director's films have often been. Mr. Gilliam usually writes his own screenplays, but the contributions of a writer (David Peoples) whose credits include 'Unforgiven' and 'Blade Runner' may have something to do with a leaner style." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

The Usual Suspects (1995) dir. Bryan Singer

"The story builds up to a blinding revelation, which shifts the nature of all that has gone before, and the surprise filled me not with delight but with the feeling that the writer, Christopher McQuarrie, and the director, Bryan Singer, would have been better off unraveling their carefully knit sleeve of fiction and just telling us a story about their characters - those that are real, in any event. I prefer to be amazed by motivation, not manipulation." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Chungking Express (1994) Wong Kar-wai

"Beyond the Mamas and the Papas, 'Chungking Express' is filled with global-village references to fast food, video, convenience stores, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. While Mr. Wong's visual energy harks back to early New Wave experimentation, it also has a substantial rock-video component, which suggests that the detritus of mass culture has a way of coming home to roost." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Pulp Fiction (1994) dir. Quentin Tarantino

"Tarantino is too gifted a filmmaker to make a boring
(!!!!!) movie, but he could possibly make a bad one: Like Edward D. Wood Jr., proclaimed the Worst Director of All Time, he's in love with every shot - intoxicated with the very act of making a movie. It's that very lack of caution and introspection that makes 'Pulp Fiction' crackle like an ozone generator: Here's a director who's been let loose inside the toy store, and wants to play all night." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Hell no.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) dir. Quentin Tarantino

"Though small in physical scope, 'Reservoir Dogs' is immensely complicated in its structure, which for the most part works with breathtaking effect. Mr. Tarantino uses chapter headings ("Mr. Blonde," "Mr. Orange," etc.) to introduce the flashbacks, which burden the film with literary affectations it doesn't need. Yet the flashbacks themselves never have the effect of interrupting the flow of the action. Mr. Tarantino not only can write superb dialogue, but he also has a firm grasp of narrative construction. The audience learns the identity of the squealer about mid-way through, but the effect is to increase tension rather than diminish it." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Miller's Crossing (1990) dir. The Coen Brothers

"'Miller's Crossing' comes from two traditions that sometimes overlap, the gangster movie of the 1930s and the film noir of the 1940s. It finds its characters in the first and its visual style in the second, but the visuals lack a certain stylish tackiness that film noir sometimes had. They're in good taste. The plot is as simple as an old gangster movie, but it takes us a long time to figure that out, because the first half hour of the film involves the characters in complicated dialogue where they talk about a lot of people we haven't met, and refer to a lot of possibilities we don't understand. It's the kind of movie you have to figure out in hindsight." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Withnail & I (1987) dir. Bruce Robinson

"On telling the powers that be on the film desk that Withnail and I was my favourite movie, I was informed this was a 'typical choice for muso types'. I was outraged. Were they suggesting 'muso types' were the kind of drug-hungry, unemployable reprobates portrayed in the film? The sort of people who live on little more than raw potato, red wine and lighter fuel? Oh …" (The Guardian)

But is it boring? No.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Blue Velvet (1986) dir. David Lynch

"'Blue Velvet' contains scenes of such raw emotional energy that it's easy to understand why some critics have hailed it as a masterpiece. A film this painful and wounding has to be given special consideration." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? No.

Brazil (1985) dir. Terry Gilliam

"'Brazil' may not be the best film of the year, but it's a remarkable accomplishment for Mr. Gilliam, whose satirical and cautionary impulses work beautifully together. His film's ambitious visual style bears this out, combining grim, overpowering architecture with clever throwaway touches. The look of the film harkens back to the 1930's, as does the title; ''Brazil'' is named not for the country but for the 1930's popular song, which floats through the film as a tantalizing refrain." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes.

Marathon Man (1976) dir. John Schlesinger

"When the explanations do start coming, you may feel that "Marathon Man" is a kind of thriller that has run its course. High-level conspiracies really aren't that interesting unless we can get a fix on who is doing what to whom, which is never clear here. Yet the individual details of "Marathon Man," the performances, and the attention given to its physical settings—in New York, Paris and South America—keep one's belief willingly suspended by a wickedly thin thread." (NY Times)

But is it boring? Yes.

Midnight Cowboy (1969) dir. John Schlesinger

"'Midnight Cowboy' comes heartbreakingly close to being the movie we want it to be. The performances have a flat, painful accuracy. The world of Times Square, a world of people without hope and esteem, seems terribly real. Here is America's underbelly and it even smells that way." (Roger Ebert)

But is it boring? Yes.

Harvey (1950) dir. Henry Koster

"Of course, it depends a great deal upon what you have in mind in the way of entertainment by which you would be amused. But if you're for warm and gentle whimsey, for a charmingly fanciful farce and for a little touch of pathos anent the fateful evanescence of man's dreams, then the movie version of "Harvey" is definitely for you." (NY Times)

But is it boring? No.

Another Year (2010) dir. Mike Leigh

"Mike Leigh offers us yet another intimate ensemble drama about ordinary people – with richly rewarding results." (The Guardian)

But is it boring? No.