Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chick Flicks

Jaquandor has some commentary on someone's 20 Worst Chick Flicks list. And, basically, I'm ripping him off with my own commentary. He (and the person he links to) points out that the list doesn't really go back far enough; that, for example, Love Story is particularly odious (I haven't seen it so, thankfully, I don't know). I would argue that The Way We Were is pretty bad, too. But yeah, this list seems to only go as far back as the late eighties, which is a little short-sighted. But, you know, welcome to modern film buffery, once again.

20. Autumn in New York
This is my point entirely. This movie is from, like, 1999 or 2000 or something. I remember it mostly because it came out on video when I worked at the video store, and I remember seeing a picture of Winona Ryder's breasts from the movie. Personally, I don't really believe anyone's ever even seen it. And it's 20 on a list of 20 Worst Chick Flicks? Ladies, have any of you seen this thing?

19. The English Patient
I saw this in the theater with my mom and sister. I was so bored that a high point for me was the scene where Willem Dafoe, in flashback, gets his thumbs cut off, and that was just because the Nazi commander was played by Jurgen Prochnow, and I like Jurgen Prochnow. It's a terribly boring film.

18. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Didn't see it. It'll be a cold day in hell before I intentionally watch another Sandra Bullock movie.

17. The Notebook
Haven't seen it, even though I'm constantly assured it's the most transcendantly romantic movie ever made.

16. Dr. T and the Women
Wow, who even remembers this movie? I know I've seen parts of it on TV while flipping channels, but I tend to stop whenever I see Liv Tyler.

15. Sweet November
Another movie they're giving too much credit to by putting it on this list, and another movie I'm not sure I believe anyone has ever seen.

14. You've Got Mail
I could never bring myself to watch this one. By 1998, I was too cynical for the constant onslaught of romantic comedies.

13. The Princes of Tides
Yeah, that's pretty bad. Of course, casting Nick Nolte as a romantic lead doesn't help. And poor George Carlin as the stereotypical gay friend, that's just sad. I actually don't mind Barbra Streisand, I just thought the movie itself was pretty awful.

12. Georgia Rule
I feel no need to see this movie. I hate Gary Marshall.

11. Crossroads
I assume the Britney Spears movie, since that movie with Ralph Macchio and Jami Gertz is actually pretty awesome and not much of a chick flick. The Britney movie's not really much of a chick flick, either. It only exists to exploit a pop star. And Britney never got another vehicle, which, in an oddly scientific way, means she's even a worse actress than Madonna. It's a crappy, forgettable movie. Mostly I remember that this is the movie where Britney wins a singing competition by doing a heavily techno version of "I Love Rock and Roll." And I mostly remember that because I'll never forget reading an interview where Britney said she recorded a non-rock and roll version of "I Love Rock and Roll" because she'd always been a fan... of Pat Benatar!

10. The Bridges of Madison County
I can't believe I read this book in high school. I wanted to see what the fuss was. Anyway, the book is terrible, but I thought the movie was very, very good.

9. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
I saw it when it first came out on video because America Ferrera was in it. I will not be doing the same with the sequel. This was more cliched, stereotyped bullshit.

8. Fried Green Tomatoes
I don't know why, exactly, but I have a real hatred of this movie. Part of it is because my mom likes it so much, so it used to be on a lot. Part of it is because it's total crap, so it used to be on TNT a lot. But I tend to really hate these movies that take eccentric or even over-the-top female behavior and explain it away as just a manifestation of being born a woman and some kind of important truth of femininity. I don't know why. Like in Practical Magic, which deserves to be on this list, in which women acting crazy during their periods is explained away as a fun, quirky allegory for witchcraft. Every time I see any of this movie I just want to scream "Okay, they're lesbians, I get it, let's wrap this up."

7. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
I thought it was pretty rancid. It managed to completely turn me off to Kate Hudson.

6. Beaches
Okay, I saw this when it first hit cable, so I think I was about 13 or 14. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember it was pretty awful. I hate the song "Wind Beneath My Wings." It will send me screaming from a room. It became an instant cliche. I remember when my dad was getting remarried in 1991, and he was picking out music (they had a DJ), and I said "Please, Dad, please don't play something awful and obvious like 'Wind Beneath My Wings.'" He shook his head and said he wasn't going to. And then they did. For his mother. Ugh. Gee, son, thanks for the most unoriginal display of sentiment since "Get Well Soon" cards. I ran screaming from the room. What a lameoid my dad can be.

5. Sleepless in Seattle
This was the summer Jurassic Park came out. I went to see Jurassic Park about 10 times. I went to see this movie with my friend Alice that summer, and we kind of liked it. We used to have a great time going to see movies and making fun of them. I remember we both enjoyed the Tom Hanks parts much more than the Meg Ryan parts; the Meg Ryan parts are basically just about how much two women love An Affair to Remember. In fact, I found Meg Ryan pretty monstrous; she leaves Bill Pullman, a nice guy, because he has some allergy issues and mostly, apparently, because life with him doesn't remind her of a classic movie. But the Tom Hanks stuff has that classic conversation about The Dirty Dozen...

This is pretty crude, but I remember Alice and I both felt that the best ending possible for Sleepless in Seattle would've been for Tom Hanks to rush his son away from creepy stalker Meg Ryan, who goes back to find Bill Pullman. But, to reclaim his manhood after giving away Meg Ryan to her movie fantasies, she finds him nailing a hooker from behind in a church doorway. Hey, I was 16.

4. Dirty Dancing
Isn't he a little old for her? She's supposed to be, like, 16 or something. I've known many women who loved this film, but it's pretty lame. I found Jennifer Grey very attractive, though. But it's a stupid movie.

3. Steel Magnolias
I've seen this a number of times. It played on cable a lot. I like some of the fringe stuff in it: the sniping between Tom Skerritt and Shirley McLaine, or the romance of Daryl Hannah, and of course Dolly Parton, whom I love in everything. The main story is sappy as hell. The play is much better. This was what put Julia Roberts in a position to make movies that were as crappy as Pretty Woman, Sleeping with the Enemy, Something to Talk About, My Best Friend's Wedding, Stepmom, Runaway Bride, and America's Sweethearts, all of which rank among the worst movies I've ever seen and some of which deserve to be on a list like this.

2. Ghost
I was 14 when this came out. I remember enjoying quite a bit; I haven't seen it in years. I wonder if I'd still like it? I didn't think this was bad at all, but maybe I'm wrong.

1. Titanic
I agree with Jaquandor here: I just don't get the sheer ferocity of the ongoing backlash. I really don't get what still, today, 11 years later, pisses people off so much about this movie. People still cannot get over that this made so much money, that it won the Oscar... there are a lot worse movies that have won the Oscar (even on this list, via The English Patient). I still think Titanic is an excellent movie.

Caribbean Monk Seal

Actually, this picture is of a Hawaiian monk seal. No one's seen the Caribbean monk seal since 1952. It was officially declared extinct this week.

The Hawaiian monk seal may not be far behind; at a decline of four percent a year, and with only 1200 left, the future looks pretty bleak. The Mediterranean monk seal only has 500 left.

The world keeps getting smaller and less wonderful.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Still Convalescing

No Throwdown this week. It's always at this time of the year when I start skipping them a lot, but between work and being sick, I've got nothing.

TV Report: The Tudors, Season 2

Since I've been sick all week, I finally laid down the other day and, through all of my coughing watched the entire second season of The Tudors on Showtime OnDemand. I purposely waited to see it this way; the first series was good, but watching it once a week got a little bit grating (it sometimes edged just the other side of good), and the fact that Becca really didn't like it just made it seem more like a waste of time. So, with the second series opener getting fairly bad reviews, I decided I'd wait until I could see it all at once.

Frankly, I'm glad I did. Watching it as a sort of 10-hour movie kept the momentum up and made me feel like I was really experiencing something. I love this time period in history, and getting caught up in it for a day was a blast. The series builds on the first, of course, beginning with Henry VIII having himself proclaimed head of the Church in England, and continuing on up until Ann Boleyn's beheading and Henry's intention to marry Jane Seymour. I felt this series came off better than the first series, which in a way is mainly set-up in anticipation of this season's pay off. I can see why some people got so bored with the first series if they weren't particularly interested in Tudor history already; a lot of it was planning and conspiring and manuevering people into position. What the first series did have that this one didn't was Sam Neill's surprisingly humane and delicate performance as Cardinal Wolsey. This season's champion for me was Jeremy Northam as an intense but decent Sir Thomas More.

Another complaint Becca had about the first series was that she thought all of the characters cold and impossible to like. That's another aspect of the show I enjoy; the idea that Jonathan Rhys Meyers's cold, oddly charming King Henry stands apart from humanity, and everyone around him remains just a little bit afraid of him for it. Like a caged lion who expects to be worshiped and loved, Henry's attention is capricious and totally self-serving. Which Natalie Dormer's Anne knows how to manipulate; Dormer has been sexy as hell on this show and in this series we get to see her go from last season's cunning, devious, mildly slutty vixen to full-on queen to obsessive, smashed up, and paranoid. And she's very good through it all.

The Tudors is the creation of Michael Hirst, the same writer behind Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I like that he takes some chances here with history, offering some alternate theories about some of the events that occur. The theory about the death of Katherine of Aragon is especially intruiging. I don't know the ultimate fate of this show, if this was as far as it was meant to go or not, but I would love to see this series continue through the rest of Henry's marriages, and even into Mary and Elizabeth if there's a mind to.

I can't quite bring myself to recommend this series. It's not for everyone, and sometimes the quality varies, and there's an occasional over-the-top quality that is pretty much the source of the bad reviews. But if you're interested in historical dramas, especially in the rich history of the Tudors, I would sit down with it on a day with nothing to do and just enjoy being in the 1500s.

Hammer Stamps

Excellent stamps from the UK.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

When Exactly Did Movies Get So Damn Bad?

This morning I read what felt like my 80 millionth blog post about how bad movies are now and how they used to be so great. When did this badness infect the movie industry, exactly? I'd like to know, because I think most people answer this question generationally, and I think the answer is uniformly the same: "Movies were better when I was a kid."

Well, I'm here to tell you, they weren't. Movies were not, as a whole, better when you were a kid. They were different. You were different. The focus in pop culture was slightly different. The audience reaction was different. The methods of film distribution and releasing were different. You were less sophisticated, less discerning. Your time didn't feel like it was at a premium because you had less responsibility. You were more willing to seek out something different. Myriad reasons. But movies were not, I promise you, better when you were a kid. You just can't look at them objectively because you're remembering how they made you feel. And certainly there's some legitimacy in that.

But, again: when exactly did movies get so damn bad? Because I'm frankly sick of hearing about how horrible movies are supposed to be compared to this golden time of perfect filmmaking that no longer exists.

Many very young people seem to think it only went wrong about 12 years ago, when Independence Day revived the blockbuster after years of powerful, important independent movies. The more cynical might say 1994, when Pulp Fiction and Clerks forced the independents to live up to some idea of an independent blockbuster.

Neither of those impressions are true.

I always hear the criticism that the eighties ruined everything by taking an era of creativity (part of the 1970s) and turning it into an assembly line where only commerce was a factor. As though George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were the first filmmakers to want to make millions of dollars off the movie business. The Godfather was a blockbuster, too, wasn't it?

Look, the film industry has always been about making money. If the major studios ever made a decision to make one kind of movie over another kind of movie, it's because they could make money at it. Do you think the seventies would even have happened if Bonnie & Clyde and Easy Rider hadn't made so much money? It was hardly free expression winning out over heartless execs and their factory mentality; it was free expression being, for a brief time, bankable.

Lots of people love to point to the number of great films made in the 1930s and 1940s as proof that movies suck today. That's pretty false, too, I think. They made a hell of a lot more movies in those days, and it's generally the very good ones that are remembered today. I've seen some damn bad movies from the 1930s and 1940s; there were a lot of them. There were just a lot more great ones because the total volume was larger.

Did movies start to suck in the 1950s, when gimmicks like 3-D started to set in? When movies specifically catering to teenagers started being produced on a massive scale? When studios began playing on communist fears for monster movies heavy on cheap special effects?

Answer me: when, Lord, when did movies get so damn bad?

I don't know, posts like that one just bug the living hell out of me. The fact is, there have always been bad movies, and claiming that today's movies are somehow an insult when movies used to be a glittering haven of excellence is insultingly naive.

Movies are different now, but movies change with the times. Right now, we have an entire generation of people who are unwilling to laugh at themselves and unprepared to accept the image of themselves as capable of failing. And so many movies have become pretentious and dull and unsurprising. But you know what? Look at movies from the early 1930s. Most of them are about rich people and drinking.

McCain's Fresh Air? More Like Hot Air

I was very pleased to wake up this morning and find out that Barack Obama is now the Democratic nominee for president. Maybe we can move past the Democratic in-fighting and the bizarre narcissism of months past and get to rallying behind the idea of getting the Republicans out of the White House. I think many people have lost sight of the real goal here, which is not what the nominee "represents" in race or gender or "electability" or whatever stupid crap people have been focusing on in lieu of issues. The real goal here is getting the Republicans out so we can try and repair our economy, our place in the world, and our self-respect.

Dr. Monkey has been talking a bit recently about those woefully misguided Hillary Clinton supporters who say they will vote for McCain if they can't vote for Hillary. I agree with what he's been saying. I think it's utterly ridiculous to screw over this country for another 4 to 8 years just because your favorite candidate didn't take the nomination. It's a sort of maniacal stupidity that doesn't really make any sense to me. Especially irritating to me was a comment Dr. Monkey highlighted from another blog by a woman who ostensibly calls herself a Democrat:

"No doubt, I will vote Republican this time around. As bad as McCain is, he's a breath of fresh air compared to Obama and the DNC."

Now, I don't know who this woman is, and I don't want to know. And I grant you that Obama has not been saying everything I'd like to hear a candidate say. But I don't think (anymore; I used to) that Obama is more of the same. And to call McCain a breath of fresh air, especially in comparison to Obama, is ridiculous.

John McCain, the preening prima donna in love with the sound of his own creepy, slow, lisping voice, is about as fresh as week-old trout that's been left on a radiator. There is nothing fresh about this man. He's another rich Republican, the son of a Navy admiral with lifelong free health benefits. The guy has a private lake and owns nine houses. He wants tax cuts for the wealthy to be permanent. He left his first wife and their three kids while she was receiving treatment after a bad car accident so that he could marry his mistress, who was younger and far, far richer. He's another Bush. He is more of the same.

And women, especially, get a grip. The guy is pro-life. He wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He thinks abortion doctors should be prosecuted. He's even against sex education and contraceptives, advocating for that king of failed programs, abstinence-only sex education. NARAL rates him at 0% for chrissakes. I don't understand how a self-respecting woman can support this man as a serious candidate for president. I mean, it's not like he respects you. He says abortion is "denied liberty," "an offense to nature," and a violation of "the Rights of Man."

Other fun McCain facts:

* He believes that the economy is "tough" right now, but that we're better off now than we were in 2000. When you could spend twenty bucks on gas and get change back. Even though he knows virtually nothing about economics, he thinks he's got the solution: more Reaganomics.

* He thinks "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is working fine, that the Confederate flag is a "symbol of heritage," and that the Ten Commandments would bring "virtue" to America's schools. He also voted to loosen restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. Whatever he feels now, in 1996 he basically voted to prohibit same-sex marriage and that it was okay to discriminate against homosexuals in the workplace. The ACLU rates him a 0%; the NAACP rates him at 7%.

* Just a few months ago, McCain said that we needed to cut corporate income tax (a tax most corporations don't pay in full, if at all) to keep jobs here, while in 2005 he voted against repealing the tax subsidy for companies which move American jobs offshore. He also supports making it harder for a person to declare bankruptcy. Supporting corporations while making it harder for Americans to pay their bills? Yeah, that sounds like a real breath of fresh air to me. That's not Bush-like at all.

* He's said in the past that the Constitution is too limiting to judges, and that we should have stricter sentencing, more death penalty, and less hate crime laws.

* He's against nationally imposed testing standards for schools, which as a teacher I have problems with. I think the testing standards should be higher, actually, but I think they should hold kids back more often instead of cutting a school's funding. He also believes schools should teach "virtues," whatever the hell that means. Trust me, based on my experiences of the past school year, schools have a lot more to worry about in the realms of spelling and math than in "virtues." Despite his ostensible support of schools, he's voted against funding them an awful lot in the past ten years. The only thing he seems to vote for where schools are concerned is in allowing prayer in school.

* He's called the exclusion of nuclear weapons in warfare "naive." He probably also believes that in order to survive a nuclear blast, all you need to do is duck and cover. So what's the big deal, right?

* McCain has also advocated the overthrow of "rogue" governments to keep America safe, which is monstrously xenophobic and shows war-mongering on a level even Bush can't imagine. Who decides who the "rogue" governments are, exactly? I mean, to many nations, Bush's administration could be seen as a "rogue" government, couldn't it? McCain is fully supportive of pre-emptive wars, just like Bush.

* What does it mean that McCain is against torture but doesn't think the CIA should have to disclose their methods or even the names of people being kept as enemy combatants? By the way, he thinks even Americans can be enemy combatants.

* He believes the key to comprehensive health care reform is: more market competition.

* He doesn't think that we should restrict business with entities linked to terrorism. Ethics in business? Not from a Republican.

* Not only is he pro-corporate, he considers unions monopolies.

* "Liberty comes from God." Not for all of us, okay?

* How does voting with the Republican Party 87% of the time make someone a maverick?

Man, I could go on and on, but it gets boring. Seriously, if this is the kind of garbage you support, that's one thing. But voting for this just because you're pissy that your favorite candidate didn't win? How bitter are you?

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

BROKEN (2006)
Heather Graham, why do you keep doing this to me? * star.

BLACKMAIL (1929)
Hitchcock's first talkie (and, I believe, Britain's) has some good twists and turns. I like how it plays with the expectation of sound, and there are some great set pieces, especially a chase through the British Museum. Anny Ondra is very good as a woman who stabs her would-be rapist only to be blackmailed for it. However, the movie is very, very, very slow. It drags along at a snail's pace before finally getting down to the point of a lot of scenes. It's not first-rate Hitchcock, but I've yet to see a truly bad Hitchcock film. I'm sure they're out there, I just haven't seen them yet. *** stars.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)
You know, I was against this from before the start. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was just so formulaic, and more than that, I felt it resolved the need for Indiana Jones to really be Indiana Jones. Turns out there really was space for one more adventure, and Spielberg and Lucas figured out what that adventure was and how to pull it off. And they really pulled it off. I loved this movie. It was perfectly pulpy, sublimely ridiculous, and not as overcrowded as Spielberg fare usually is (even though it is, admittedly, a little overcrowded). There are nods to continuity (even the pilot movie for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles rates a mention), some of which are nicely poignant, and the ending finds a way to promise more while wrapping up the character nicely. The acting varies, as it does in these movies, but I loved seeing Karen Allen again, Cate Blanchett was a magnificent villain, Shia LaBeouf was wonderfully intense as always (there's nothing he can't make work). But Harrison Ford... I haven't liked Harrison Ford in anything since about 1994 (Clear and Present Danger), but I loved him here. It was a pure joy to see him play Indy again. And he doesn't have any trouble finding the character at all, which is astonishing considering the last film was nearly 20 years ago. He simply picks Indy back up and puts him back on, case closed. Aliens, map lines, motorcycles, swordfights on speeding military ducks, archaeology, man-eating ants, Soviet villains, nuclear blasts, and lots of monkeys... it's all so wonderfully daft. I was against this one for a long time... now, as they hint about Indy's time as an OSS operative in the 20 years between films, I'm almost resentful of Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg for not making 10 more of these in the two decades since. After all, it's not like they've really been making good movies since then... ***1/2 stars. As a side note, I can't believe the criticism of this movie I've been seeing. I mean, I can believe it's there, of course. It's like the Star Wars prequels--you're going to get burned by years of expectations and that weird sense of ownership that fans tend to have. But the negativity directed at this movie is indicative of why I find so much in the way of film criticism worthless; people of my generation especially act like we grew up watching Shakespeare and listening to Wittgenstein discuss the works of Richard Wagner and now we're being insulted every time a movie opens that's fun without the good taste to be completely pretentious and utterly dull. So I see true shit like Transformers and Superman Returns getting praised while the fun stuff is always somehow too silly and unbelievable for the oh-so-sophisticated Internet Age. I'm afraid, to quote Roger Ebert, that there's no talking to you.

PERFECT STRANGER (2007)
Halle Berry humps her way to the truth. Nowhere near as good as that sounds. No stars.

LOCAL HERO (1983)
This is a movie that illicits praise in terms that lesser movies have rendered meaningless: charming, heartwarming, quirky, magical. But it really is all of those things without being cloying or condescending or overly gushy. Peter Reigert stars as Mac, an unhappy, materialistic executive at a Houston oil company who gets sent to Scotland to oversee the acquisition of an entire Scottish village (and to watch the stars for his boss, Burt Lancaster, obsessed with discovering a comet). Mac doesn't quite gel at first with the locals, but eventually the charms of the village take him over until he's drunkenly confessing that he covets the simple life of a community of mutual dependence and friendship. Writer-director Bill Forsyth's film is a strong one, a lyrical film that doesn't have a plot so much as it has characters who live and breathe and are even satirical without being demeaned. It's refreshing to see a movie where you genuinely care about the fate of every character because they're presented so wholly as human beings. A beautiful, beautiful film. **** stars.

MATERIAL GIRLS (2006)
Well, with my Duffster in it, it was only a matter of time until I saw it. Unfortunately, this is another predictable movie about rich girls who lose all of their money but get it back by the end because they become better people by caring about poor people and blah blah blah etc. bullshit. Duffster, seriously, I know you're capable of better. At least do something Disney level again if you're going to stick with being safe. This is Olsen Twins bullshit. *1/2 stars.

THE PEACH GIRL (1931)
A silent romance from feudal China, sweeping and dramatic but boldly critical of feudalism. A landlady's son falls in love with a tenant farmer's daughter, but their love is forbidden and they can only be together in secret. Of course, they are torn apart by the reality of Confucian China's social rules and tragic family circumstances, and the whole thing is beautifully sad. Much of this is due to the motif of peach blossoms and the idealized pastoral of pre-revolutionary China. Even more of it has to do with the film's stars, Jin Yan and Ruan Ling-yu, especially Miss Ruan, who at a very young age gives a marvelous performance as a suffering, outcast girl trying to survive. **** stars.

CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH (1960)
A gritty drama that also works on the level of a fable, this film is apparently sometimes referred to as Japan's Rebel Without a Cause. That's as good a description as any, I think, for this film about two delinquents who start a romance that can only end in disaster and tragedy. The two lash out against what they see as the repressions of Japanese society, at times unsure of why they're even doing so, but driven by a sense of selfish entitlement and a rather ignorant self-interest. Beautifully shot, a highlight (based on what I've seen) of the revolution in Japanese film that was taking place around this time. **** stars.

NOTTING HILL (1999)
I finally saw the film in its entirety, and... meh. This feels less like Richard Curtis than like someone trying to write a Richard Curtis movie, with all of the predictable casting and references to Third World debt and fascination with American women and the third act "Let's jump in the car and race to get the girl!" Hugh Grant is as likable as a neutered man can be, and Julia Roberts even manages to be enjoyable every so often, but her character is something of a shallow cunt, and it's hard to believe Hugh Grant is so hung up on her, except that she's an American and therefore automatically fascinating. The movie is also about 30 minutes too long or so. But there are some good parts. It's not un-cute. I just don't see anyone needing to watch it more than once. *** stars.

THE CHEAT (1915)
Sessue Hayakawa stars as a rich man who attempts to assault a woman who owes him money. When she kills him, her husband takes the blame. Melodramatic as hell, but beautifully lit. Produced by Cecil B. DeMille. **1/2 stars.

THE DRAGON PAINTER (1919)
Sessue Hayakawa again, this time as a talented artist who is allowed to study at the feet of a master painter of dragons. He soon falls in love with the master's daughter and longs for her; the longing fuels some of his best paintings. But when they marry, the longing is gone and his talent disappears. Short but very, very good. Beautifully shot. **** stars.

Jedi Schmedi

Via PJ.


how jedi are you?
:: by lawrie malen

The First Sickness' Cinema Meme

Right here.

What is your...?
1. Favorite movie: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is my favorite movie, but I think Lawrence of Arabia is the greatest movie ever made.
2. Favorite movie to come back to time and again: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
3. Best movie that you never want to see again: I can't think of a movie so good I wouldn't want to see it again... I can understand if something was too painful, but for me the artistry wins out over the pain.
4. Last great movie you saw in a theater: I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and loved it.
5. Last great movie you saw on DVD: Local Hero

How do you feel about...?
1. The ending of Iron Man: That was a great fanboy moment.
2. Jason Segel taking control of the Muppets: Cautiously optimistic. I haven't seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall yet, but I'm glad they're letting somebody do something with the Muppets.
3. Manohla Dargis' last editorial in the New York Times about women in film: I understand her frustrations (I'd like to see more movies about women, too), but her "argument," such as it is, is intellectually dishonest.
4. The MTV Movie Awards: Lame.
5. Ellen Page as Jane Eyre: That's just weird, really. I mean, maybe she can do it, but since I've only seen her play the same character in every film I've seen her in, I'm not sure who looks at that character and says "I've got it! Jane Eyre!"

Who is your...?
1. Favorite Actor: Christopher Lee
2. Favorite Actress: I'm not sure...
3. Favorite Actor (deceased): Just too many good ones to pick...
4. Favorite Actress (deceased): Same as above.
5. Favorite Director: Terry Gilliam

Which do you prefer...?
1. Sub-titles or dubbing: I'm not a prig about it, like some people I know. I like subtitles, if only because I like to hear an actor's performance, but if it's animation, which is dubbed anyway, I don't really care.
2. Kurt Russell or Bruce Campbell: I love them both. I've always wanted to see them in the same movie together, actually. And I'd love for it to somehow be a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China.
3. Buttered Popcorn or Salted Popcorn: I don't eat popcorn at the movies very often, but if I do, neither one. I have high blood pressure and that moviehouse butter tastes a little too non-food-based for me.
4. Ambiguity or clarity: Whatever serves the purposes of the story.
5. Characters or plot: Why choose only one? Even though, you know, most films seem to choose only one?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Health Report, Year 2: Week 25

And in the end, nature and biology made the decision for me.

Since the first time I got sick a couple of weeks ago, I just can't go to work anymore. I didn't go yesterday, and I called them today and said I wouldn't be in the rest of the week. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but it feels like something is really wrong.

The shitty thing is, except for the massive headache on Friday, I really felt like I was finally through being sick. I still had a cough, but it was getting better and I was able to breathe through my nose like a normal person. The only major problem was with food. I just didn't relish the thought of eating anything at all, and when I sat down to eat, I couldn't taste anything. Have you ever had food in your mouth and not been able to taste it? It's disgusting.

Still, it seemed like I was on the mend. But on Sunday I started getting worse. I went out with my mom that day, too, and even though I was in a lot of pain (my whole body still just aches), I felt like I was still getting better. Just the cough to worry about, which I'm still taking some medicine for.

But Sunday night was awful. I woke up around 1:30 in the morning and just started tossing and turning. I was freezing cold, but sweating profusely. I kept having these awful fever dreams. My teeth were chattering so loudly that Becca had to go and sleep in the living room because I kept waking her up. It felt like a medication overdose, but it couldn't possibly have been by that point. I finally fell asleep for good around 4:30 or 5, and by morning it was clear that I couldn't go to work. Yesterday also brought the extra fun of diarrhea, even though I can barely eat, and intense back pain. I woke up around 1:40 this morning with back pain so bad that I literally had to crawl to the living room to take some pain reliever.

I don't know what to do anymore. I keep taking medicine, I keep drinking water, I keep taking naps, and still I'm sick and miserable. My whole body hurts. I keep coughing so hard that my ab muscles feel like they've been ripped open. On Sunday morning I started weeping for no reason and couldn't stop.

This is a picture my mom took of me on Sunday. And no, I'm not doing a Charles Laughton impression. I'm just sitting there. I didn't even know I made this face, but apparently this is what happens when the misery is overwhelming. Mom thought this would be a good motivator. It probably will be as soon as I feel like I can hold down food or walk across the room without doubling over in pain. That look on my face is an accurate depiction of how awful I feel right now, both physically and emotionally. I'm tired of being so fat and I'm tired of being so sick. I feel like I'm going to die any minute now. My lungs feel weak and heavy. My body feels light and dehydrated. And my back just hurts.

Quite frankly, I'd like nothing better than to go to sleep and never wake back up.


UPDATE 4:52 AM: I've been up for almost three hours now...

Thanks to everyone who commented and emailed telling me to hang in there. I know I'm feeling sorry for myself right now, and all of these frustrations from the past couple of weeks are piling up on top of the lingering illness, which is part of the reason why this post sounded so abjectly miserable. I think yesterday was my absolute lowest point, and it didn't help that I essentially hadn't eaten in a couple of days. Today was the first day in a couple of weeks that all of the phlegm and bile I coughed up was clear instead of brown. And I'm really not sure why, but when the air is cranked up, I sweat profusely. This is the worst I've felt since I had that stomach virus back in November (and even that only lasted a week).

Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for the concern. Except for not being able to sleep and still coughing up stuff and sweating, I'm feeling a ton better right now. I hope it lasts throughout the day.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Song of the Week: "Not Tonight"

The New Cars, a couple of years ago. Pointless, sure, but this is a zippy little tune that's basically Todd Rundgren with the best backing band he's had in years. I'm gonna drive till the early light... but not tonight.

Sunday Hottie 174

JULIE GONZALO

Gratifying Comment Made by My 51 Year-Old Mother

MOM: I went to see Sex and the City yesterday, and the theater was a madhouse. And it was 3:30 in the afternoon! They had a bar set up, and women were drinking their whatever-tinis, and there was this horrible stench from the bathroom, just awful, like some woman had just lost control in there. Oh, my God, and the movie wasn't even that good. I loved that show so much, but that movie just dragged on and on and on forever and it was all whining. It was all city and no sex. And what's with women dressing up like their favorite characters in the movie? And there were stretch Hummers because people were having their little Sex and the City parties.

ME: I know, it's like Star Trek now.

MOM: Yeah, I didn't realize it was so dorky.

Happy Birthday, Ron Wood

61 years old today. Not a bad guitarist at all.