by The Great White Gypsy

We all want to protect the people we care about. From pain, from loss, from someone else hurting them. From ourselves. But sometimes our pride gets the better of us, and causes us to lose more than we would otherwise because of our mistakes. These are the themes of Lee Toland Krieger‘s Independent Spirit Award nominee, The Vicious Kind.
Caleb (Adam Scott) is picking up his brother (Alex Frost) and his brother’s new girlfriend (Brittany Snow) from the train station while they’re on Thanksgiving break from college. He’s taking them to their father’s (J.K. Simmons) house for the holidays. The problem is cynical, jaded, sleep-deprived Caleb hasn’t spoken to his father in 8 years, his girlfriend left him recently, and now he’s suddenly attracted to his brother’s first love.
If you haven’t caught on yet, this is character study film at its finest. Adam Scott (Tell Me You Love Me) starts out strong, chain smoking in a diner and talking to his brother about the realities of life. Just in the opening scene, there is enough in the dialogue for us to see the diametrically opposed personalities of the brothers, and to immediately sympathize with both of them. Caleb constantly tries to protect his brother, and tells him that his girlfriend is a whore, and he can’t trust her. Though the story never definitively explains his past relationship, we can glean from his standoffishness that he was the brokenhearted one. He’s angry at his father for the circumstances surrounding their mother’s estrangement and subsequent death, but we get multiple versions of this story, which makes it hard to sympathize with or condemn anyone.
Halfway through this movie, I guarantee you will not like the main character. He’s transparently pessimistic, unnecessarily cruel, and awkwardly funny at the same time. One minute, he’s telling Brittany Snow (Prom Night) that if she hurts his brother, he’ll “put her in the fucking ground”, and thirty seconds later he’s tearfully apologizing. He appears to be stalking this girl some nights, and on the other nights he’s in a motel taking pictures with a prostitute. He tells his brother to be careful, and then belittles him, mocking the innocence he’s simultaneously attempting to protect and destroy. You will not like him, but you will be interested. That interest will make you want to like him. And towards the end, even though he’s sabotaging an innocent relationship, you’ll find yourself cheering for him when he beats up a couple hipster kids for harassing a girl in a bar. Don’t get me wrong, the writing in this film is great. It’s Intelligent and funny, like a more serious Dan in Real Life. But it will take you longer to warm up to these characters.
Though he has a small roll, the standout performance is J.K. Simmons (Juno) as the offbeat, inappropriate father. He exudes the same comfortable humor he always does, but towards the end his character takes on a guilt-ridden, prideful form that’s about to burst with remorse. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked Simmons before, and the fact that I did here made me almost as sad as his character’s problems.
My only major complaint with The Vicious Kind is the costume design. Caleb is a cookie-cutter mountain boy with his wool-lined jacket and boots. His brother is innocent, republican, and dopey to the point of ridiculousness with his clean polo shirts and sweater vests. I’m pretty sure they let J.K. Simmons wear whatever the hell he wants at this point. I feel it is really important in a character film to have the costumes add to the portraits, but not in a really obvious way. We don’t need to be punched in the face with archetypal symbolism; it detracts from the writing and insults our intelligence.
The character inconsistencies make this film a hard one to watch at times. However, if you can get through the whole thing with an open mind and a complete picture of the story, it will definitely pay off in the end. It is funny, heartfelt, and morally ambiguous. Just like most of us.
Final Grade: B+

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by The Great White Gypsy

While looking through the nominees for this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, I came across a familiar title: Nights and Weekends. It had been in my Netflix Instant Queue (God bless Netflix) for a while, and I figured now was a good time to check it out. I had heard really good things.
I got hosed, Davy…I got hosed.
Nights and Weekends, starring, written and directed by Greta Gerwig (actress: Baghead, Hannah Takes the Stairs) and Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs, LOL) is about a a couple trying to make a long distance relationship work between Chicago and New York. It starts out the way so many of these stories do: we are introduced to the characters walking in the door to his apartment. As soon as the door is open, they are ripping each other’s clothes off and making love on the floor. The intimacy is immediate in its passion and unapologetic in its exposure; a good way to jump the audience right in to identifying with the characters. This isn’t the last sex scene in the film, but it is one of the last scenes in which I gave a rat’s ass about either of the characters.
As much as no one in this business likes the word “forumula”, there are certain guidelines and arcs that most stories follow on screen. In an emotionally taxing distance relationship, you would assume that the directors would show you this intimacy, followed by slight hardship, and then spend some time with the two separately in their own cities. The tension and the love would ebb and flow throughout the film until the decisive moment at the end has your heart on the edge of its seat.
If you want to give Swanberg and Gerwig a cookie for coloring outside the lines, be my guest. However, I think that in a genre defined by its realism (look out for our mumblecore spotlight, coming soon), Nights and Weekends attempts to maintain too much of it, and sacrifices the art of filmmaking. The dialog, while interesting and natural, very rarely conveys the sense that these two people have any deep emotional connection, or ever did. When he’s leaving her phone messages, or when she’s gearing up to ask him a serious question, it feels like they have only known each other for a few weeks. Even though they have one or two convincing arguments at the beginning, all of a sudden these “real” people are coming across as whiny, confused adolescents with lame senses of humor.
I think it’s hard for people to say they don’t like mumblecore films. That’s like telling your friend, “Hey Bob, that incident with your girlfriend last night? I thought it was poorly done. Work on that.” It’s so real, that you don’t want to fault a filmmaker for what you’re seeing. Films like Humpday and In Search of a Midnight Kiss, use the camera like a pair of glasses. You don’t feel like you’re watching a movie, nor do you feel like a mere fly on the wall. You feel like you’re in the scene, hanging out with these people, playing the “silent partner”. In Nights and Weekends, the camera – though steady and simplistic – accomplishes the same thing. The problem: it was like being a “silent partner” in a room full of people you don’t want to be around, and you keep checking your watch.
And that decisive moment I talked about? Well, my heart wasn’t anywhere near the edge of its seat. Actually, it kept telling me to “turn this crap off”, that it would “rather watch The Proposal“. Those are direct quotes. Go ahead, ask it.
Nights and Weekends, like most mumblecore films, got rave reviews when it was first released. So maybe this won’t be the one, but I’m hoping people will soon realize that this genre (which I am only beginning to love) is like any other: fallible. Imperfect. Prone to the same pitfalls as the mainstream. I hope this happens before the hipsters get ahold of it; they ruin everything.
Seriously…I have a closet full of striped shirts I can’t wear anymore. Assholes.
Final Grade: C-


by The Great White Gypsy

From Paris with Love – Directed by Pierre Morel, Written by Adi Hasak and Luc Besson
Swordfish. The Punisher. A Love Song for Bobby Long. Lonely Hearts. John Travolta has been in four good films in the last ten years. This is a fact. And the only reason I’m giving him another chance after The Taking of Pelham 123 is the company he’s keeping. If Jonathan Rhys Meyers isn’t enough for you, how about producer/writer Luc Besson (Director: La Femme Nikita, The Professional), director Pierre Morel (Taken), cinematographer Michel Abramowicz (Taken, L’empire del loupes) and editor Frederic Thoraval (Taken, District B-13). French people are badass.
John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Amber Rose Revah
February 5

Psych 9 – Directed by Andrew Shortell, Written by Lawrence Robinson
Newbie Director and Writer present a story about people working in a closed mental hospital and seeing weird shit. This seems like a blatant ripoff of Session 9 (which was cool), but the last indie horror movie that managed to star Cary Elwes was Saw. Makes you think, huh?
Sara Foster, Cary Elwes, Michael Biehn, Gabriel Mann
February 5

Terribly Happy – Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz, Written by Henrik Ruben Genz and Dunja Gry Jensen
Where I’m from, comparing some random Danish movie to David Lynch and The Coen Brothers will get you punched in the face. Unless it’s true. Which it may be. The preview conveys Lynch’s trademark sleep-deprived confusion and some strange, small town Coen antics. Looks pretty cool, but I don’t like admitting I’m wrong. So it’s still on…taeve.
Jakob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, Kim Bodnia
February 5

The Wolfman – Directed by Joe Johnston, Written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self
If Joe Johnston‘s name sounds familiar…it’s because you’re thinking of Jack Johnson. Now put down the blunt and pay attention. Johnston directed The Rocketeer in 1991 (I don’t care who you are, you loved that movie). After “wowing” audiences with The Pagemaster and Jumanji, he was given a chance to direct Jurassic Park 3. And he gobbled its balls. So what’s going to save this werewolf orgy? Sheer acting talent, Rick Baker‘s amazing special effects, the writing genius of Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en, 8MM, Sleepy Hollow) and the meddling ghost of Lon Chaney Jr..
Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving
February 10

The Ghost Writer – Directed by Roman Polanski, Written by Robert Harris
Roman Polanski is living proof that God loves a trier. You can charge him with rape. You can banish him. You can extradite and try him. You can put him on house arrest. And he will still make fucking movies. The last political thriller that held my attention was George W. Bush in “Trapped in a Chinese press room”, and only Polanski could get James Belushi, Tom Wilkinson, and Kim Cattrall in the same room on purpose. Good feelings.
Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Hutton, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, James Belushi, Eli Wallach
February 19

Shutter Island – Directed by Martin Scorsese, Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Ok guys, this is a new year. A new movie. A new story. There’s no need for me to even mention how much The Departed sucked yak testicles. So I won’t. But I will say this: I am very excited about Scorsese trying his hand at the horror genre. I just wish he hadn’t picked one written by the same guy that did Alexander (shitty) and Pathfinder (even more shittier). I hope the ghost turns out to be Mark Wahlberg.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley
February 19

Cop Out – Directed by Kevin Smith, Written by Robb and Mark Cullen
You’ve probably heard the stories about how Kevin Smith wanted to call it “The Two Dicks”, and the studio changed the name. Smith called that a “cop out” and they laughed and said, “let’s call it that!” Very cute, but you’re still a sissy-ass reed in the wind who can’t even name his own film. The first Smith film he didn’t also write, he apparently chose the project because his late father liked the genre. So for any Smith fans out there, let me paint you a picture. When the Coen Brothers lost their mother, they made The Ladykillers. Enough said.
Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Lee, Rashida Jones, Seann William Scott, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollack
February 26

The Crazies – Directed by Breck Eisner, Written by Scatt Kosar and Ray Wright
As a film elitist, my first reaction to a nobody director remaking a George A. Romero film was, “Lame.” Then I remembered that the nobody who remade Dawn of the Dead grew up to be Zack Snyder, who directed 300 and Watchmen. This story isn’t quite as cool, but it could make for a fun cinematic adventure if they lay off the CGI.
Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell
February 26

The Yellow Handkerchief – Directed by Udayan Prasad, Written by Erin Dignam
Three strangers end up in the same car traveling across Louisiana. They’re all lonely. Then they start reminiscing and find common ground. Then they aren’t lonely. This may not sound like a cool film, but neither did “homeless girl loses her dog, then finds it“, and that was a really good film. With nary a weak link to be found in the main cast, I would love to see this at a festival. I’ll have to settle for On Demand.
William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart, Eddie Redmayne
February 26

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN

The Red Riding Trilogy
This serial killer trilogy out of Britain has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Critics are raving about the cinematography, direction, the connected story, etc. Now it’s finally getting a foothold in the U.S. IFC will begin showing it at their center in New York, hopefully spreading after that. Don’t worry though, if it doesn’t end up at a theatre near you, expect an On Demand/DVD release fairly soon.
Red Riding: 1974 – Directed by Julian Jarrold, Written by Tony Grisoni
Starring: Andrew Garfield, David Morrissey, John Henshaw, Anthony Flanagan
Red Riding: 1980 – Directed by James Marsh, Written by Tony Grisoni
Starring: Paddy Considine, David Morrissey, Eddie Marsan
Red Riding: 1983
– Directed by Anand Tucker, Written by Tony Grisoni
Starring: David Morrissey, Sean Bean, Mark Addy

February 5 (IFC Center, NY)

Blood Done Sign My Name – Written and Directed by Jeb Stuart
I gotta be honest, I’m not even sure this is a real thing yet. Tim Tyson, a professor at Duke University, wrote this book several years ago about a black Vietnam veteran murdered by a white businessman, who is later acquitted, throwing the social climate of the town into turmoil. Lots of recognizable faces, and a good story. We’ll see what happens.
Michael Rooker, Rick Schroder, Omar Benson Miller, Lee Norris, Nick Searcy
February 19 (Limited)

Blood Into Wine – Directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke
I don’t usually do Documentaries here, but this one looks so delightful, I had to mention it. Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan hooks up with Napa Valley winemaker Eric Glomski in an attempt to kick start a wine industry…in Arizona. Half informative wine documentary, half celebrity mockumentary, it might take a certain kind of person to appreciate this one. Luckily, I am a certain kind of person.
Maynard James Keenan, Eric Glomski, Milla Jovovich, Fairuza Balk, Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk
February 19 (Limited)

Heartless – Written and Directed by Philip Ridley
Jim Sturgess is not as bad as everyone says he is. Noel Clarke is not as cool as he thinks he is. Philip Ridley is…a guy. Wasn’t too excited about it, but then I realized it could be like a cross between Kidulthood and The Devil’s Advocate. That might be fucking cool.
Jim Sturgess, Eddie Marsan, Noel Clarke
February 26 (UK)

Toe to Toe – Written and Directed by Emily Abt
“I’m a black girl, you’re a white girl. Let’s play sports and sleep with dudes and break social boundaries to a catchy soundtrack.” I know what this looks like, but Toe to Toe has been getting a lot of buzz around the indie festivals, and it definitely looks more honest drama rather than…something with Terrence Howard or Lil Bow Wow. And they play Lacrosse…
Louisa Krause, Sonequa Martin
February 26 (Limited)


Charlotte Gainsbourg is one talented woman. I’ve always had a vague idea of who she was. But she demanded my full attention after absolutely killing it in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to see as much of her work as possible. Sadly, I didn’t realize she was a musician until last Saturday.

It was then that brooklynvegan.com wrote about first live show ever (hit the link for pictures and their thoughts from the show, as well as the music video for Heaven Can Wait).  Apparently, her latest album, IRM, dropped in December and I completely missed it. Lucky for me, some kind soul decided to bless me with a copy this morning and I’ve been listening to it all day. Good but not great the first time through, IRM will grow on you with every listen. Her vocals coupled with the raw, unprocessed production work together to create a haunting and ethereal tone throughout the album.

The standout track is, without a doubt, Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes. It’s so sick, I had to listen to it twice and post it to my Tumblr immediately. With its impeccable use of strings and drum breaks, it’s only matter of time till someone samples it. I can already hear Ghostface going hard on a RZA remix of this. An incredibly addictive album, this will stay in the rotation for a long while.

Check it out.

French lyrics are below (if anyone wants to translate this for me, that would be fantastic):

Quand on est mort c’est qu’on est mort
Quand on ne rit plus c’est qu’on ne vit plus
Quand j’aurai coupé la ficelle
Mettez-moi dans une poubelle
Laissez-moi faisander un mois
Et de là jetez-moi au chat
Qu’il refuse ma rate et mon foie
Mais choissez l’heure pour qu’il me mange le cœur
Et je reste encore avec vous
Sur vos épaules et vos genoux
Que je sois puiqu’il faut qu’on existe
Le chat du café des artistes

Et si le pain vient à manquer
Je serai là et n’hésitez pas
Brisez-moi les pattes et le cou
Et puis mangez-moi à même le chat

Ce ne sera pas la première fois
Qu’on aura mangé un artiste

Quand on est mort c’est qu’on est mort
Quand on ne rit plus, c’est qu’on ne vit plus
Quand il a coupé la ficelle
On l’a mis dans une poubelle

Et puis ils m’ont oublié là
Là là là là là là là là
Comme ils ont oublié le chat
Comme ils oublieront ma tête et mes chansons

Ce ne sera pas la dernière fois
Que l’on oubliera un artiste

Quand on est mort c’est qu’on est mort
Quand on ne rit plus, c’est qu’on ne vit plus
Quand il a coupé la ficelle
On l’a mis dans une poubelle

Et puis ils m’ont oublié là
Là là là là là là là là x2


There is a reason why artists release albums. They’re not just a collection of songs, randomly strung together. They’re one unified thought. An aural representation of the time. They’re meant to be consumed in one sitting. Digested. Mulled over. Discussed. They are an experience, not a product. And today’s single serving, 99-cent iTunes download, YouTube video with no video, pay-for-play radio is ruining that experience.
This is why albums like Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More should be cherished. Truly an album’s album, Sigh No More takes you through the journey that is love. They begin with the title track, Sigh No More, that proclaims, “Love will not betray, dismay or enslave you. It will set you free.” And from there, they delve into the darkest depths of exquisite pain, anger and helplessness that it can bring. They speak of love, of longing and of loss, climaxing with I Gave You All, a powerful, lamenting song that aims to “force from the world a patient smile.” Honest, vulnerable and inviting, the album fully immerses you. Forty-eight and a half minutes later, you emerge from their world satisfied and hopeful, yearning for more and desperately wanting to do it again.
The album moves effortlessly from delicate, minimalist reflection in places to powerful, anthemic pleas in others. Yet despite this sonic diversity, there is a cohesion to the album–staying true to their folksy, countryish roots throughout. The music is almost cinematic, communicating a broad spectrum of emotion from love to regret to rebirth.
Not to be outdone by their musical prowess, Mumford & Sons are as equally adept with the pen as with their instruments. They are one of the most lyrically polished bands I’ve heard in a long time. Sigh No More is full of lines, like the one above, sure to be Facebook quotes for a long time to come. Incredibly vocally talented, their harmonies evoke hints of Fleet Foxes or Local Natives. Their narrative song structure is very Decemberists in style, all while adding their unique flavor.
Not quite a concept album, Sigh No More is an experience. It is a headphones-and-bottle-of-wine record. It is addictive and cathartic. It is why they make albums.
Final Grade: A-
White Blank Page
I Gave You All
Awake My Soul

by The Great White Gypsy

I am a David Foster Wallace groupie.

There, I said it.  The man has a fairly small body of work; aside from magazine articles, he only wrote two novels and four short story/essay collections before committing suicide in 2008.  Even so, he had already established himself as a genius of our time.

I had just finished The Broom of the System after a failed attempt at completing Infinite Jest when I got my hands on a copy of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, the film adaptation written and directed by John Krasinski (The Office, Away We Go).  I was excited to see a filmmaker tackle the disturbed genius of Wallace’s prose and story.  The book had been sitting on my shelf for a while, but I never cracked it.  Immediately after watching the movie, I dropped what I was reading and blazed through it.  And I had mixed feelings.  Not specifically about the film, or the book independently.  More a hesitant opinion of how the two complimented each other.  So I decided to watch the movie again, and realized I couldn’t bring myself to review one without including the other.

THE BOOK:

“Victory for the forces of democratic freedom!”

This phrase is a source of extreme embarrassment for the first subject in Wallace’s story.  Not politically, or ideologically; he is embarrassed because even though he is not a political person, he screams this phrase every time he orgasms.  “…only much louder…”  This is the kind of humor David Foster Wallace loves to lead with.  Descriptive enough to be taken seriously, but strange enough to make you laugh out loud (or LOL for those of you opposed to speaking english).

There isn’t much of a description necessary for the story.  Men are being interviewed, we’re not quite sure why, but personality-wise most of them are kind of…are you ready?  Hideous.  However, as the story builds, we are shown the other side of the coin, and what started out as a feminist undertone broadens into a universal portrait of human suffering and loneliness.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is actually broken into four parts and split up throughout the collection.  At one hundred pages, total, it’s a breeze by itself.  Wallace is like a metaphor ninja.  He starts out light, humorous, and eloquent.  Then you start to see parallels, points, the first hint of the thread Wallace is pulling on, and before you know it, the funny-ha-ha moments have unravelled and you’re staring the dark side of life in the face.

First and foremost, Wallace seems to pride himself on carrying on complete conversations through only one character.  You get half of the dialogue, but you still get a holistic picture of the scene.  BIWHM is no different.  Each “interview” is laid out like the transcript of an actual interview, complete with parenthetical notes, with only the interviewee being audible.  For example:

“I don’t ever know what to say.  What do you say if you just shouted ‘Victory for the Forces of Democratic Freedom!’ right when you came?”
Q.
“It wouldn’t be so embarrassing if it wasn’t so totally fucking weird.  If I had any clue about what it was about.  You know?”
Q…
“God, now I’m embarrassed as hell.”

The downside to this format is that it sometimes becomes difficult to discern which conversations are taking place in a personal setting, and which are done in a clinical research capacity.  There are upsides, though.  Not only do we get to draw our own conclusions, fill in our own gaps, but it definitely sets a tone of scrutiny towards these men.

This cross-sectioning of male characters is basically what makes the story arc.  From the guy who blurts out political propaganda during sex to the loner who based his childhood masturbatory fantasies on Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched.  From a one-armed factory worker whose missing limb (AKA “The Asset”) gets him “more pussy than a toilet bowel”, to an aging pot connoisseur who knows the secret to being the world’s greatest lover.

I refer you to the aforementioned art of “ninja metaphor”.  It is among these characters with their humorous-yet-transparent honesty and insecurities that Wallace inserts the meat of the story.  The man who recalls his father’s profession as a men’s room attendant, saying, “Imagine not existing until a man needs you.  Being there and yet not there.  A willed translucence.”  The man who, while relating a rape story, compares the victim to Victor Frankl, essentially making the claim that without the Holocaust, we would not have “Man’s Search for Meaning”, and out of that torture and rape, a woman (or a person) will live through the worst they ever thought possible, and know themselves better.  And finally, the psychopathic sex offender who chooses his victims much like a man surveys a bar for the easiest one-night prospect.

THE FILM:

If you’ve ever read any David Foster Wallace, you can imagine how difficult it would be to harness the layers, the subtext, the dialogue, and the characters and fit them into a two-hour film.  John Krasinski may not have succeeded 100%, but I honestly don’t know of anyone I’d trust to do it better.

Krasinski saw that BIWHM is essentially about feminism, but not the way you think of the word.  What Wallace started as a broad, objective analysis, Krasinki finished as a very personal view on the effect of feminism on men, as well as the presuppositions of post-feminism women and the similarities we can all share as human understanding.  Krasinski gave a face and a context to an otherwise ambiguous story.  But that’s not all good.

Direction, acting, editing, music were all cohesive to the point of liquidity.  However, cumbersome dialogue aside, I think the film was over personalized.  Several scenes in the movie show the interviewer (who is now the main character with a name, a face, and an agenda) by herself in her apartment, or passing by a one-sided conversation, or overhearing two chauvinists in a coffee shop.  By personalizing the subject matter, I feel the film took some of the power away from the book.

There are some interesting added scenes.  A very brief one in a college classroom, where a professor is discussing Nanook of the North, telling his class to pay attention to the documenter, not the documented.  The rape story turns into a student hounding the main character concerning his grade (a very well edited scene), the bathroom attendant’s son focuses more on the literal relationship between father and son, rather than the parallel between his job and a submissive female.  What were subtle layers and puzzle-piece subtexts in the book are now beating the audience over the head without building to it.

Probably one of the most impressive and simultaneously damaging scenes is the finale, when Krasinski’s character gears up for one of the longest single-sided conversations I’ve ever read.  As long winded as it was in the book, it still held my attention for 20 pages.  Again, Krasinski gives it a face and a context, and he pulls it off as well as anyone could.  However, like most people, I get a case of A.D.D. when faced with a ten minute continuous shot of some dude talking.  I found myself getting distracted, and having to rewind the speech several times.  I suggest reading it first; both versions – when absorbed in their entirety – are truly thought-provoking.

If you’ve read the book, you will enjoy this film.  Some great lines, funny characters, and the main themes of universal empathy, insecurity, and subjective interpretation are all intact.  It is harder to watch Wallace’s prose than it is to read them, but after this “artsy” undertaking, I’m amped to see Peter Jackson direct an Infinite Jest Trilogy (I’m really just kidding, please don’t do that Mr. Jackson).  And as amazing as the end of the story is, John Krasinski might win the day with his final line in the film:

“I stand here naked before you.  Judge me, you bitch!”

Final Grade for the Book: A
Final Grade for the Film: B+


Alright people, it’s awards season again. Time to roll out the red carpet, dish about celebrities, and gossip about who’s wearing what and going with who, right? Wait, who said “right”? Get the fuck out of here, Hugh Jackman, no one wants to hear you sing!

This is sexy gypsy. Which means we’ve all spent the last few months hyping up Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker, and now it’s time to judge the nominees, talk shit about the winners, and make sure Kanye’s good and liquored up, just in case.

Last year’s Academy Awards were probably the best since 2006, with a lot of good films, and plenty of solid wins. Last year was also the first time we actually paid attention to the Golden Globes, and they appeared to be a good indicator of Oscars to come. This year, however, we have many mixed feelings; we’re confused, worried, and a little sleepy. Here’s why:

THE GOOD:

Best Actor in a Drama: After a lot of great roles, and some near misses, Jeff Bridges is finally getting some love for his role in Crazy Heart, taking the Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. Granted, he was up against Morgan “Like a Twinky” Freeman, and Tobey Maguire (who played his role in Brothers like Adam Sandler’s Waterboy), but it’s good to see him win.

Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical: It comes as no surprise that Meryl Streep is adding more trophies to the case. Despite an obviously lopsided script, Streep stole the show and became Julia Child, earning a Best Actress Globe. For anyone who says “she has enough awards”, that’s like saying Brett Favre has enough records. When you’re that good, it’s gonna happen one way or another.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Musical: Saying you didn’t like Precious is the same as telling the liberal guilt-ridden among us that you hate puppies. Well we didn’t like Precious. (but we do love puppies!) First of all, the actual title is: “Precious: Based on a Novel by Sapphire”, which is just fucking stupid. Second, instead of an honest “look at life on these streets” film, they made a “look how sad and stereotypical and fucked up this poor black girl’s life is” film. Despite that, Mo’nique managed to de-board Soul Plane, and give an emotional performance with a despicable character, giving her a well-deserved Supporting Actress award.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Probably the best choice this year was Christoph Waltz for his creepy-yet-articulate Nazi officer in Inglourious Basterds. Considering the competition (Stanley Tucci, Christopher Plummer, Woody Harrelson, Matt Damon), his Best Supporting Actor award gave us hope that the HFPA isn’t totally blind.

Best Screenplay: And finally, Jason Reitman brought home a Globe for his original screenplay for Up in the AIr. He was a little pissed that he lost best picture, but expect to see him at the Academy Awards as well.

THE BAD:

One word: Avatar.
Avatar is an amazing achievement in CGI and motion capture technology, and the 3-D factor didn’t hurt. It is possibly one of Cameron’s best films, technically speaking. But winning Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Director is kinda ridiculous. The story was borrowed, the score was unoriginal, and even though acting and directing were on point, what made this film was the budget, pure and simple. With The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and Up in the Air in the same category, this was just a poor choice.

THE QUESTIONABLE:

Best Actress in a Drama: We haven’t seen The Blind Side yet, but it’s hard to believe Sandra Bullock could legitimately beat out Helen Mirren or Emily Blunt. However, it’s not the craziest win in recent years, for example–Jennifer Hudson. And both the HFPA and the Academy have been known to make…ahem…political choices. We just hope this isn’t one of those years.

Best Comedy or Musical: The Hangover is hands down the funniest movie since Anchorman. The sheer entertainment value and Vegas-style buffet of hilarious one-liners are obvious. As a film, though, we’re not sure it really stacks up against the writing of (500) Days of Summer, the acting talent in It’s Complicated, or the direction of Julie and Julia.

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical: We can’t decide if Robert Downey Jr. picks bad projects to be great in, or if someone just needs to throw him a freaking bone, but his Best Actor nomination for Sherlock Holmes, immediately following one for Tropic Thunder, is kinda depressing. If Daniel Day-Lewis saw Sherlock Holmes on the street, he’d call him a Bastard in a Basket and throw him down a drill shaft. And with Matt Damon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the same category, this win warrants a pause.

Best Animated Feature: It’s difficult sometimes to rate animated features. Probably because 90% of them are so damned delightful. All of the nominees this year were solid films. But the serious, sometimes depressing tone of Up, pitted against the whimsical jello house that is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Wes Anderson’s first good film EVER (Fantastic Mr. Fox) is a tough call, and we’re not convinced the Globes made the right one.

Television Globes for the year were uninspired, and we really didn’t care; but for anyone dying to know, here’s some highlights:

Tru Blood was neglected…again.
Californication was neglected…again.
Michael C. Hall (Dexter) beat cancer, then he beat Hugh Laurie (House) for Best Actor in a Drama.
Yes, Glee won best comedy/musical, so you can sing your fucking little heart out.
Tina Fey (30 Rock) lost to a schizophrenic Toni Colette (United States of Tara).
When they announced Alec Baldwin’s (30 Rock) win for Best Actor in a comedy, they found him in the bathroom doing blow off a groupie’s ass with David Duchovny (Californication). Not really, but wouldn’t that be the best damn crossover episode ever??

All in all, we can’t be too mad at the Golden Globes this year; there were very few horrible choices. We’re still not as excited as last year, though. Maybe it’s because our man-crush Danny Boyle got so many awards last time, but with all the questionable wins so far this could end up being a “What The Fuck?” year at the Oscars . And with 10 nominees in the major categories coming our way next month, we are less than pleased about it.