Sunday, December 09, 2007

IDIOCRACY is a documentary...

... how else to explain this?

Irony and Satire - died an agonizing death: 21st Century.
Winter's Discontent

Winter has officially arrived, with the ice and snow currently blanketing the NE Kansas landscape.

Mentally, I've been primed for winter since early Fall - mainly due to things beyond my control (the work hiatus when cold weather hits; family members dying suddenly). I'm keeping busy with a couple of things of my own that I'm working on, but even that isn't quite as satisfying as it has been before. There's no real reason to complain, though -- I end up going through these spells every so often (not quite as often when I was younger, thankfully), and I have to say that although life isn't perfect - like it ever was perfect, at some point - I'm in much better shape than I thought I ever would be. I've had friends who have gone, and are currently going through, horrendous things in their own lives - compared to what they're going through, my life is a cakewalk in comparison. It's not always going to be that way, so I should save any complaining until things REALLY get bad.

I've finally gone ahead and posted some older stuff on YouTube - the link to that is to your right, if you're interested in seeing some of my video work.

Have killed a lot of time via the usual ways - reading/watching stuff... enough to regularly comment on, if I were more disciplined on updating this blog. Some recent observations:

Was motivated enough to actually go to a theater a few weeks ago to see THE MIST, Frank Darabont's continuing affair with Stephen King... mainly because he's a great adapter of King (even with no prisons apparent in the story - well, I guess the prison metaphor can apply as well, now that I really think about it), and because I was a huge fan of the story when I read it some 25 years ago. More than likely, you didn't see it in the theaters, if it's even still playing in theaters now.

It pretty much faded away at the boxoffice, but I think a lot of people will catch up with it when it goes to DVD in a few months... it's easily one of the top King adaptations to film, even though some won't appreciate some of the allegorical elements, and a LOT of people will have problems with the ending. To which I say that the ending makes perfect sense if you've been watching the film - PAY ATTENTION!!

Two other films I've had the chance to see, though they've not hit any theaters in my neck of the woods as of yet: Larry Fessenden's THE LAST WINTER and Richard Kelly's SOUTHLAND TALES. Two movies which barely got released this fall, and certainly not in 'flyover country' - both will get their due via DVD release in 2008, although if you're curious enough to want to see them sooner than that, there are ways... just ask your kid when they're back from school this holiday ;\ or ask your friendly neighborhood computer geek.

LAST WINTER continues Fessenden's above-average work in 'horror', though the horror involved here is more of the variety established by Val Lewton - think of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH crossed with THE THING and THE SHINING. Recommended highly - this will be worthbuying once it's available with the director's commentary and extras... and it's worthwhile to check out Fessenden's earlier works to either get you in the mood to watch LAST WINTER, or to sample more if you've already seen it.

SOUTHLAND TALES comes with a lot more baggage - it's safe to say that this was roasted by the critics during its limited release, after hearing rumors fly since it's screening at Cannes over a year and a half ago... I can say, after watching it last night, that it's one of the few films where EVERYONE is right -- it's a flawed, messy, sprawling spectacle that takes itself so seriously it's laughable AND it may possibly be a work of demented genius that will only get its due in the future (which may be more futuristic than predicted), when we look back at this period of time.

I liked DONNIE DARKO (the theatrical cut - haven't seen the 'Director's Cut' which "explains" everything), but I'm not part of the Cult of Darko, so it's been amusing looking over the reviews of SOUTHLAND - I think that there were quite a few lying in wait for Kelly (who hasn't made things any easier on himself by believing some of his own press in the wake of DARKO; and also for writing DOMINO), and SOUTHLAND does suffer a bit from "Sophomore Jinx Syndrome; but in his defense, there are damn few people who would even take a risk such as this, for as much as the film is irritating - if you're one of those people who like coherent stories, you're better off staying away from this - there are things that are absolutely dead on that keep you watching - the movie FEELS right, in terms of capturing the emotion of the times.

There's a lot of stuff referenced - the works of Philip K. Dick, David Lynch, the cult of celebrity, the blending of entertainment and news and how it's impossible to tell the difference, KISS ME DEADLY, REPO MAN, SNL has-beens, WILD PALMS, Thomas Pynchon, STRANGE DAYS - actually the movie plays like a version of STRANGE DAYS with the script written on mushrooms and minus Juliette Lewis' channeling of Patti Smith via P.J. Harvey - yet there's a case to be made for this mad collage... a more experienced director probably could've melded the visuals to a more disciplined story, but I wonder if the fever dream quality would've remained as strong, because that's the main thing that hangs with one after watching it - that, or a headache. You get the feeling that there's several films going on at once, and that the director didn't tell any of the cast members.

Some critic remarked that SOUTHLAND TALES might be this generation's SKIDOO; after watching it, I declare SOUTHLAND TALES to be the BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for the Millennium Generation.

Worth checking out when the DVD hits shelves; and expect even more critical realignment when the Cannes cut (20 more minutes and much more of Janene Garafalo) eventually gets released too.

If you haven't discovered the work of Joe Hill yet, now's the time -- I finally picked up HEART SHAPED BOX and became a fan - before I discovered who he actually was. Then I got to read his short story collection 20th CENTURY GHOSTS, and am jonesing for the next work to come down the line - considering his lineage, there's plenty good stuff to come.