a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

to the 5 boroughs

* The new Beastie Boys album lands today. I was chatting with a friend the other day and wound up bugging him for his thoughts on "Ch-Check It Out," the new, awesomely-retro single from the Beasties. Looking visibly annoyed, he told me was over them, that they were a thing of his less mature, non-married past. I, forever single and still prone to foam over, say, the first Ramones album, felt decades younger.

Nevertheless, I refuse to be fazed. Though too often the lame white guy's introduction to hip-hop, the Beasties are far more than their pop culture ref-dropping, in-unison-shouting rep would suggest. They're also musical geniuses. Break out your neglected copy of Hello Nasty and you'll see it ages well -- it's less impenetrable than it once was, and that scope that was once naggingly daunting is now impressively daunting. (The first four songs especially -- why doesn't the carnivalistic "Song for the Man" get any love?) Not sure if the new one -- first in six years, you know -- will continue on the path, or if they've nervously retreated into their Liscensed to Ill days. Either way's fine, really.

* Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, of course, gives your mind more to munch on than Monster. It's also a Nick Broomfield doc, a title which is one of the more polarizing out there. He's a hack tabloid pusher, his detractors say, and sometimes, as with Kurt and Courtney, he's downright incompetent. All valid points. But, for me, these are also his strong points. Really. Who but a self-depricating faux-naif could get Wuornos to open up the way she does? And who but a scumbug could attract the attention -- and get the low-down -- on a spree of other, even worse scumbags (or Dr. Legal, "otherwise known as 'Steve'")? If ever a history of the world's depressing celebrity hangers-on should be compiled, it would start -- and maybe end -- with Broomfield's resume.

(The movie's pretty good, by the way. It never tops the scene early on when Broomfield's 1992 Aileen: The Selling of a Serial Killer is used as Exhibit A in the latest court case -- a meta- scene that's one of documentary film's finest, most revaling moments -- but it expands on the original (and Monster) in ways that eat into you. Charlize did do a pretty bang-up job!)

* Here's the deal with Jean-Jacques Annaud's Two Brothers: I'm an idiot. Not exactly a memorable yarn -- and those shots of tiger cubs looking "sad" have to go -- but it's incident-heavy and allows some darker shades to seep in, proving again how antiseptic most kiddie fare is. I'm assuming this is countless leagues better than The Bear...

* Super Size Me is a stunt after all. Hoping no one's read -- or is aware of the sheer journalistic density of -- Fast Food Nation, Morgan Spurlock does as little ruminating as possible. Or, rather, he does just enough that he can ship it into theaters rather than onto MTV. As with Michael Moore, I agree with almost every point he makes. Unfortunately, there are roughly three points, each of them hammered home endlessly. What about the fact that McDonald's pops up in low-income areas? And why not dwell on the sheer cheapness of these meals? Spurlock settles for less, and since most people like to know only bullet points -- and not too many of those -- his movie's a runaway doc hit. Not to mention that I grew quickly weary of Spurlock himself: his obnoxious, unreasonably confident schtick reminded me of the has-been frat boy he most likely is. Moore should sue.

* Solid but instantly forgettable, Strayed plays like a less imaginative and real-life riff off of Michael Haneke's Time of the Wolf; here, too, are a mother and two kids running from a vague enemy, only to meet up with an ominous rapscallion. (It's as though they co-ordinated their plans.) André Téchiné does fine work, as does Emmanuelle Béart. But it seems like it could've been 30 minutes long and every bit as effective, if not more so. Pretty good sex scene, though.

* The Six Feet Under Season Premiere was nowhere near the wan disappointment critics have been touting it as, though it certainly felt like a transitional episode. Still, it should've lifted a bit from the metaphysical circlicues of last season's debut. Nothing embarrassing went down -- in fact, the ending almost literally grossed out my SFU-virgin compadres -- but I can't help thinking that I'm going to have to patiently await the full-throttled return of My Favorite Current Drama. Seeing that last season practically saved my life (or my mental health, anyway), I'm willing to cut it some slack. Claire: Marry me.


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