Friday, July 22, 2011

What I've Been Watching: 2nd Edition, Part 2

What's Good In The Hood?

      First order of business: You can find Part I of my "What I've Been Watching" segment here and my inaugural edition here. Of course, my newest edition can be found below.
      My current mood: an inextricable combination of heat wave desperation and heat wave desperation. I can't recall CT EVER being this hot. Recordings touched 105 degrees earlier today, but, because of the heat index, temperatures felt closer to 115 degrees. This blistering heat has me feeling like a baked meatball. Not because I'm Italian. It's just so damn hot, my sweat is sweating. But I digress; back to the movie talk. 
      It takes a cool guy to cool you off. And no blogger is cooler than Craig over @ Let's Get Out Of Here!  Beyond an idiosyncratic taste in film and an arsenal of wit that would make James Bond cower, Craig writes informative, engaging and hilarious posts concerning all-things movies; not the minutiae, the merry. The guy's got an exceptional ear and eye for the most straight-outta-left-field topical discussions. Inevitably, he can entertain the most cynical of film-centric personalities. And most recently, as de facto proof, Craig wrote a terrific "Documentary" piece regarding Blue Velvet (Can I get a shout out for David Lynch!). There's a lot of information to digest, but it's all unique and authentic. It can be found here! Forewarning: If you have a phobia of ears, well, whatever, confront your irrational fear.  
      In honor of Craig's exemplary "Movie About Making Movies" post, I've decided to highlight one of my favorite films, which depicts that very style, in my newest segment. I urge all of my film obsessed followers and readers to stop by Craig's blog. And I apologize in advance because I realize some of you may find it hard to resist perusing his entire postography. On my behalf, and Mr. Movie (formally known as Craig Edwards), I thank you all for your support.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What I've Been Watching: 2nd Edition, Part 1

I'm Going Going, Back Back, to Classics Classics

      If you're curious, you can find my debut "What I've Been Watching" segment here.

City Lights (1931) - Charlie Chaplin

Widely considered to be the crowning jewel of Charlie Chaplin's auspicious career, City Lights illuminated his greatest gifts. Performing as The Tramp, his most beloved and recognized character, Sir Charles demonstrated a rarefied adeptness for physical comedy, slapstick humor and visual pizzazz. For those who doubt his creative genius, enjoy a lifetime of purgatory. And unlike "Andy" Dufresne from Shawshank State Penitentiary, you won't have a rock hammer. Charlie's virtuosity, if you'll take me at my word, arose at the very outset of City Lights: the iconic opening scene featured The Tramp on the Statue, which demonstrated his unrivaled flair for performance. Through a nuanced veneer of inventive acrobatics, Chaplin both captivated and horrified the crowd. And few actors of any era could ever capture the impossible, non-compartmentalized essence of a character—an essence empathized with striking vibrancy—without seeming contrived. Chaplin, as director and lead actor (basically, lead everything) could do so without breaking a sweat and probably without even showing up on set. Performances, we can almost-uniformly agree, are measured and quantified differently. The criterion, while graded in universally established principles, is pliable across generations. But no critic, past or present, revered or rejected, can overstate the greatness of Chaplin. His legacy is carved into the granite faces (since we're talking about Hollywood, expect those faces to be glittered) of Mount Rushmore. Ultimately, City Lights, an enduring staple of the silent film era, defined the standards for romantic comedy. And it ended, arguably, with the greatest and most touching moment ever transcribed to film: The Tramp asked, "You can see now?" "Yes, I can see now."  10 out of 10

Monday, July 11, 2011

Movie News

I'll Be Blunt: Hollywood Smokes Everything

      Let's face the facts. The last time we puffed a Spike Lee rolled joint, our lungs overflowed with toxins. Instead of smoking, you know, genuine marijuana, we were duped into K2 (for those not savvy with teenager's ways of getting high, it's a potent mixture of herbal and spice plant products, which is sprayed with a psychotropic drug and contaminated with a toxic substance). The end result of smoking K2, which is not unlike watching Spike Lee's last film: a horrid mutation comprised of equal parts streaking Will Ferrell from Old School and drug-riddled Jared Leto from Requiem for a Dream. Not healthy. Not pretty. And oh so reckless.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Tribute to Steven Spielberg

An Impressive Look Inside the Mind of An Auteur

      A few weeks ago, the Director's Guild of America, perhaps to coincide with the release of Super 8, held "A Tribute to Steven Spielberg," which features J.J. Abrams and James Cameron discussing Spielberg's influence on their careers. What's more impressive is the fact that Spielberg offers a very candid and extensive look at his own, very unique filmmaking perspective, a perspective that Abrams refers to, quite eloquently, as "child-like," not in terms of maturity, but inspiration. Child-like, Abrams elucidates, is a "manifestation" of that ephemeral feeling, palpable during our formative years, which projects a "tangible" sensation of wonder and awe. It was a powerful, honest moment. Spielberg, rightly so, was quite touched.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The Bay of Pigs

      The Bay of Pigs invasion may have been unsuccessful back in 1961, but, in 2011, the world has successfully become victims of a new kind of invasion: The Bay of Pigging Out. Special effects overload, Check; Spectacular destruction, Check; More explosions than you'd see in a Cold War era nuclear test facility, Check; A clumsy narrative, Check; Gigantic robot carnage, Check; Stylized CGI on a colossal scale matched only by running time (a not-so-brisk 157 minutes), Check; Indefensible one-liners, Check; More slow motion effects than August Musger, its inventor, could have ever dreamed, Check; Actors named Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley giving the audience a smooching sendoff, Check on the Checker. But here's the thing. I actually enjoyed it; not the kissing, the movie. Attention deficit of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish, so long as Michael Benjamin Bay is running the show. If plausibly ludicrous (an oxymoron, I know), escapist cinema can be an exercise in novelty, high art's necessary evil. And Michael Bay, an anabolic pragmatist, is the King of Escapist Cinema. He understands his niche brilliantly and intricately, #winning. And to the victor goes the spoils; Bay's wallet is so fat, George Costanza couldn't give him a run for his money...with good reason. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is primed to be a massive box office juggernaut, the likes of which 2011 has not seen (until Harry Potter hunts down the remaining horcruxes in a few weeks). The theatergoing experience is mercurial. With such critical polarity (critics loathed it, general audience loved it), is the enormous success of Transformers 3 a good or bad thing for cinema at large?