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Month: October 2005

Dark alley

Not that I’ve got a bootleg copy of Good vs. Evil or anything, but if I did it’d be medium quality video recorded from the Sci-Fi Channel with the Sci-Fi logo in the upper right hand corner and all. But it’d be the whole schmear on three DVDs, both the first season on USA and the second season on Sci-Fi. So it’d be totally worth it.

There might be an email address — — on the amateurish menu screen. Or this might all be a complex sting operation on my part. I dunno.

Low bar

So Tom DeLay had to appear at the courthouse for a mug shot last week. Now, let’s say you’re a politician in some degree of trouble, and you gotta have your mug shot taken. I’m thinking it’s not too much of a leap of brilliance to say “I better not look like a criminal in the photograph.”

Or maybe that takes “a freaking political genius”. And maybe taking care to look good in your mug shot completely disarms one’s adversaries. I mean, that’s it — he looked good in his mug shot, so the trial might as well be over now.

This is an awfully low bar for political excellence, if you ask me.

Subways and samurai

Creep is pretty much your standard nouveau horror flick (see also Cabin Fever, Cube, etc.). Franka Potente is trapped in the London Underground late at night, and must flee a scary homicidal creature who kills and eats for reasons never exactly explained. It’s pared down, tense throughout, self-aware, and so forth. I left feeling sort of apathetic, though.

I was scared — Christopher Smith is a dab hand with the jump scare. He’s also really good at using the well-lit Underground in contrast with dank side tunnels for effect; light is not a significator for “safe” in this movie. Perhaps in accordance with this, the monster is fully revealed about two thirds of the way through — no shadows. That worked fairly well, I thought. It means the movie was working without a net, however.

Tension-wise, that was fine. Smith got tension even when we knew exactly what the thing looked like. On the other hand, he veered into Grand Guignol territory with at least one scene that I found gratuitous; it didn’t raise the tension, it didn’t make the monster scarier, it didn’t raise the threat level for the protagonist, and it didn’t reveal a whole lot about the backstory.

What you had, I think, is a bad script. (Smith both directed and wrote.) This shows in a few places. The mythology of the monster is somewhat muddled. There’s a nice bit where the monster’s presence is signified by the arrival of rats, but there’s no reason why that would happen — he’s probably not a supernatural evil — and the rats are more or less dropped after a couple of scenes.

Further, and probably the most damning, Potente’s character is not sympathetic. She’s kinda shallow, she’s distinctly bitchy, and she’s too dumb for words. Yeah, dumber than your usual slasher movie hero. The first time she failed to do the smart thing, I lived with it. The second time I got a little grumpy. The third time I considered rooting for the monster. She wasn’t just dumb, she was obtrusively dumb. Also not sympathetic. In fact, she was kind of wimpy.

So about middle of the road, all in all. The directing was really good; Smith probably just needs to not direct his own scripts. And Potente was excellent, unsurprisingly.

OK, so, now, Izo

I got nothing. I walked out of the theater completely baffled. I can’t say good, I can’t say bad. Izo, who was a real historical figure, is executed in the 1800s and returns to cut his way through everything that stands between him and… something. The Emperor? He’s the irrational, we’re told, expelled by a perfect rational system. His karma is so horrible that he’s made to suffer in this way. There’s a folk singer who shows up from time to time to advance those themes. He dies, he comes back, he kills more people. He is the embodiment of rage. Towards the end, he meets up with a woman who says she’s part of his spirit, and that she was supposed to meet him but hasn’t. She’s the compassionate part. The mysterious council of rulers explain that they’ve created an illusion in order to maintain perfect control. (They do wind up dying, yes.) Izo reaches the Emperor, worn out from his struggles — kills the guards, one of whom then transmutes into a caterpillar — and…

Is blown over by a single breath from the Emperor. Then, over the credits, the folk singer explains that “You are free to go anywhere.”

I got nothing. Maybe it’s about rejecting control, but Izo loses, so who knows? The historical Izo was an assassin who killed supporters of the Shogunate. Seriously, I got nothing, and I can usually engage with Miike movies. Or Lynch movies. But this was beyond me.


A note regarding Apple’s new iTunes video content:

It’s cool to be able to download a TV episode for $1.99. Might even be the magic price point. However, what Apple has for some reason not promoted is the cost of old seasons — e.g., season one of Lost will run you around thirty-five bucks. This is somewhat cheaper than the DVDs, although quality is also lower. But from reports so far, they look just fine on — say — the new media center-oriented iMac.

Single bullet theory

The Boston Fantastic Film Festival schedule is out. It’s what you might call slightly heavy on the horror; they’re also showing The Muppet Movie. Intriguing contrast — since they showed Five Children and It last year, I’m assuming there’s a tradition of having a children’s movie.

Hm. Thursday night looks good, with Creep and the inevitable Miike. Friday, likewise, for Marebito and R-Point. More the latter. I could miss Friday night without shedding too many tears.

Saturday has nothing I’m dying to see but Dark Hours, although I quite wanna see that. Reeker? Maybe. And then Sunday… I keep going back and forth on Three: Extremes. I was chatting about it with my sweetie, and the truth is, I just don’t dig Chan-wook Park that much. I dunno. If Miike expands his segment (Fruit Park expanded his), I’d see that.

It’s a pity we’re not getting more non-horror this year, but it hasn’t been a great year for that. Night Watch would be nice, as would some Hong Kong action, but the BFFF hasn’t ever been oriented towards Asian action flicks so I can’t fault them there. And this is a nice festival all in all.


Oh, Ann Coulter.

It’s a great column. I mean, you get the usual “liberals are the devil” stuff which of course only coincidentally resembles the rhetoric of extremists who really would like to see liberals dead. You don’t get an Ann Coulter column without that; they don’t have anything without glossy intellectual hatred in it.

But you also get the pit bull going after Bush, a fine spectacle indeed. It’s worth it for that aspect alone. Don’t stop! There’s more.

“I know conservatives have been trained to hate people who went to elite universities, and generally that’s a good rule of thumb. But not when it comes to the Supreme Court. … Being on the Supreme Court isn’t like winning a ‘Best Employee of the Month’ award. It’s a real job.”

There you have it. You shouldn’t hate people who go to elite universities when they’re doing real jobs. Mind you, I just elided two and a half paragraphs to produce the quote, but nobody’s perfect.

Wait till

J. Papelbon: 4 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 Ks, 0.00 ERA. Nice little series for the kid.

The Red Sox were flawed, they made the playoffs anyway, and they didn’t do well. Next year ought to be pretty good. It is not necessary to bring back Damon; he’ll be 33 and may well have peaked over the last four years. Thanks for the title, Johnny!

The question for the off-season: who’s the ace? Schilling isn’t coming back as his old self, Clement isn’t an ace, and so on. Not a lot of great pitching on the free agent market. Burnett? I don’t think so. Morris or Mulder? Hm. Or maybe they’ll finally make the Manny trade.

But I like having a lot of strong pitching coming up from the minors, and I’m not too worried about the rest of the team. Next year ought to be good.