Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Death of a man I didn't know...

Went into 'the city' today. It's what we call Oberlin. 'Town' is Wellington and 'The Big City' is North Olmsted and regions. Cleveland is referred to by its proper name as it is in essence, another country.

After grabbing a bite to eat a decided to take a walk. Cooped in the in the house is making me a little stir crazy. I strolled past the copy store and the Feve (home of the Buffalo shishtawook & tater tots which rock my world) and was halfway past the hardware store when my brain caught up with my eyes. I stepped back and looked into the window of a little store called the Workshop Gallery. It's small by any definition of the word. Barely 15 feet wide. It's been there as long as I can recall coming into Oberlin. It sold an eclectic mix of prints, original art, sculpture, glassware and whatnot. Beautiful things. I can't recall buying more than a few items there over the years. Some of the things were pricy. What had cought my eye today was a large white handprinted sign in the window. It was jarringly out of place. The window usually held a mix of items that made you want to go into the dark and very cozy store. But this sign was plain.

"There will be a memorial service held at The Feve Saturday from 12-4 to say goodbye to Mark". There were flowers, heaps of them with cards bearing the names of people and businesses from up and down the streets. And a photo. I recognized him, but had not known his name.

And I was suddenly very sad. Something was lost here. Something and someone special. I've seen it before. I see it maybe more than you because I spend so much time on the road. It is the loss of those places that are unique, that do NOT strive to be the biggest and loudest and most efficient. Mom and pop stores, greasy spoons, odd shops run by eccentric people. Places that are not franchised or mass marketed. THESE are the places I seek out. I don't need to see another Walmart. There is no suprise in a McDonalds menu. All serile, all the same and becoming more the same every day.

I did not know this man, but our little corner of the world is less interresting with his passing.

My brain hurts...

I love movies. I always have. From the annual ritual of watching the original King Kong on Thanksgiving to Indiana Jones, the first film that truly blew me away and still does to this day. I enjoy movies that run the gambit from high concept to lowbrow. I prefer to see movies in the theater, but at home can be nice too. (No missing anything while you run to take a pee) I try not to use absolutes but if I had to I would make the following two statements.

First, Blazing Saddles in Mel Brooks best work. Everything after that started to slip.

Second. Uwe Bol should never be allowed near a camera again under any circumstances.

Thanks to Netflix I've been catching up on some movies I just didn't get a chance to see this last year or so. Two recent experiences have left my cerebellum bruised.

The first is Revolver. It's by Guy Ritchie. I like his style but this isn;t a typical Ritchie film. This thing blew through the theaters a year ago. Do you remember the ads for it? No? Because there were none. It's like it didn't happen. It's not the casting. Jasan Statham is in it giving a great performance. The guy CAN act. Roy Liota is here too, chewing the hell out of the scenery along with a great supporting set of characters. But as I said, this ain't your typical Guy Ritchie film. It strives to be something much bigger, and it almost makes it. Things start out pretty clear. Statham gets out of jail and seeks revenge on Liota, but they quickly spiral out into muddy waters. The story is not what it seems to be. And at the end you say "I think I get it" although you might have missed the big picture. I appreciate a movie taking you most of the way and then throwing you at the finish line. Such as in 'The Usual Suspects'. Fine. But Revolver takes you to within 200 yards of the finish and then wanders off for an icecream cone. I appreciate the attempt, but it doesn't quite work. Your mileage may vary. I recommend you see it.

Southland Tales, on the otherhand.... Well, how can you describe this movie? I honestly cannot. It has a pretty A-list cast with The Rock, Sarah Michelle Geller and even Christopher Lambert etc. But the story. Where do you start? It's supposed to be a dark comedy about the end of the world in a post 9/11 world unfolding over three days in the near future. But it's a trainwreck. No, it's a train hitting a busload of nuns and orphans. Each one of whom is holding a kitten.

There are about 9 different, complete stories in this thing. Maybe 12. Half of them might be good, it's hard to tell. It's like a computer model of Stanly Kubrics brain dropped acid after reading the patriot act. They then filmed the results. It's all over the fucking place. It mocks most of the story telling styles used in Hollywood movies. It throws in random story elements. Even a musical number. I kept thinking "Any time now, this thing is going to pull back and we'll start to see the overall story arc. Something is going to tie these fevered dreams together into something that makes some kind of sense".

But it NEVER did.

It had some potential. If they'd done about a dozen rewrites this thing might have gone somewhere. Or maybe I'm just stupid. It might make a good book. If you weren't constrained by the limited of film this might have made some sense. But it isn't, so we're left to try and make sense of it on our own with a lot of jigsaw pieces from different freakin puzzles.

UPDATE according to this wikipedia article, the movie was to have been part of a graphic novel series. This makes a certain sense. The film does frame a lot of its scenes the way some graphic novels do. The voice overs and images jump suddenly between scenes. But it STILL doesn't work. I've read a few reviews that call it the best film of the decade. Really? If you have netflix, check this out and give me your opion.