Monday, March 31, 2008

Of Fog & Perspective

It is overcast here today. Rainy, high of 42 with a nearly constant drizzle appearing out of a fog that seems rather at home, drifting along busy city streets.

It was like that this weekend, when I was served by a waiter named Jesus (employee number: 42) before returning to the cool morning air.

It's cold and wet — certainly not beach weather — but never once does it occur to me that it's awful.

And yet those were among the first words I heard this morning, working my way through a labyrinth of desks in search of my own.

It's so ugly out, they said. What an awful day.

And I have to admit — having spent yesterday with my glasses constantly coated in rainwater — that this weather has its cons.

But ugly? Or awful?

You're looking at it all wrong.

Finding Neverland (Movie Review)

It's rare that my mother and I agree on a movie, but we did on Finding Neverland (2004). It's charming, well-written and even — at times — a bit sad.

The film chronicles J.M. Barrie's composition of his theatrical magnum opus, Peter Pan, and it does so by capturing his childlike sensibilities without ignoring the political backdrop during which it was written (early 1900s).

In fact, Barrie's relationship with the Davies family was frequently called into question; in part because he was married but remained close with the Davies mother... in part because he spent so much time with the boys, which led to accusations of pederast (though all five boys, even in adulthood, denied any inappropriate conduct on Barrie's part).

As a film based on actual events, my only complaint is that Finding Neverland painted Barrie and the Davies children in perhaps too fond a light, given what happened to them all after Peter Pan (two of the Davies — including Peter himself — later went on to kill themselves, and a third died in WW I). But this film isn't about that, after all, and if it was... it wouldn't have been anywhere near as light, nor as touching.

Still, certainly worth a watch, particularly if you like films that make you smile all the while tugging a bit on your heartstrings.

And if that doesn't work for you: Johnny Depp does a killer Scottish accent.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

In Bruges (Movie Review)

More "dark" than it is "comedy" — and yet still surprisingly humorous in parts — In Bruges (2008) is about two hitmen awaiting their next assignment (following a serious mistake with their previous job) in the quiet fairytale town of Bruges (that's in Belgium, for those beauty queens out there).

What struck me as being most interesting about this film — along with the humor, in spite of the sometimes gruesome bloodshed — is just how thoughtful it is. These hitmen have "principles" — ironic as that may seem — and in living by their principles they become caught in a seemingly endless cycle of senseless killing. And yet, it's not entirely endless.

Watch the film, and you'll see what I mean. A bit of a warning though: there's a lot of gore towards the end. But then again, this story is about hitmen....


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Memoirs of the Passing, Part II

But not everyone is innocent, and shame is seldom unwarranted.

Take, for example, a man I know who recently revealed to me — in casual conversation, and very matter-of-factly — that he is (and has long been) HIV positive.

The news, I am sorry to say, didn't surprise me in the least. I like this man well enough — he is friendly in passing, but also very quick to divulge the details of his past in a way that sometimes puts me at unease... a past that involves a drug abuse (including heroin), and a rather carefree sexual existence in the 70s and 80s, devoid of any precautions and including a stint as a male prostitute.

[His details are far more graphic, but I will spare you those.]

And it's for those reasons that the news of his illness barely phased me. But here's what really bothered me: his clientale, he said, consisted primarily of married men — many with children. And even when his prostituting days were over, the majority of his one-night stands were with men in "serious," heterosexual relationships.

These were guys with girlfriends, he said. Guys who were generally more, eh, "adventurous" than the "out" guys because they wanted to make up for lost time.

I listened to these stories and asked no questions, though they occured to me from time to time. I didn't ask him if he continued having unprotected sex after his diagnosis. I didn't ask him if he'd done the math to find out when he might have contracted the virus, and contacted everyone who may have subsequently been infected. I didn't ask him if he'd donated blood or plasma or if he felt guilty about his affairs with married men, knowing that those men would go on to infect their wives.

No good could come from those questions, I decided, and even less from his answers.

So I listened, and nodded. I thought of Magic Johnson and the wife he infected from his heterosexual escapades. I thought of Elliot Spitzer and men at large. I thought of the other gay guys I know who take every precaution and lead very moral, clean-cut lives.

And I thought of my childhood friend, and wondered what he'd be doing today if he were alive.

[In case you wondered what started all of this.]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Memoirs of the Passing

Everyone traded in those days.

My ham sandwich for her peanut butter. My necklace for her dog-eared copy of The Princess Bride.

His calculator watch for my tin pencil case.

It was pink, I remember, and bore the logo of some sort of bubble gum: Bubbalicious; maybe Hubba Bubba. Whatever it was, it was the pride of my collection and he wanted it.

And how could I refuse him, particularly when his offer was so generous? He being one of the earliest crushes of my youth (Erik Estrada and Hulk Hogan notwithstanding), with his dark hair and eyes; ivory skin; that inscrutable cowlick; and a smile as ornery as it was innocent.

Kids loved him — I mean, he wasn't the playground jock (in hindsight, I don't recall ever seeing him on the playground — or in gym, for that matter) or the class wunderkind. But he was a good kid all the same, and even I — at the young age of eight — could see it.

And so it was to him that I parted with my beloved pencil case, making regular visits to his desk to see what treasures it stored. And in turn: he'd give me the occasional scented pencil or dinosaur-shaped eraser.

You know — valuable stuff.

The school year passed in kind, and then the summer, but then a funny thing happened when classes resumed:

He was nowhere to be seen. Not in my homeroom, not in any. He had disappeared as if overnight, an absence not easily missed by the dozens of kids who listed him among their friends.

In time we learned that he'd transferred to another, much larger school in our county for reasons that remained unclear. But he was somewhere, at least, and we took solace in knowing that he hadn't yet vanished from this planet altogether.

At some point that year, a class field trip took us to the county courthouse for a mock signing of the United States Constitution. Rumors quickly began to circulate that Steve* was there — that he was part of the elementary school choir belting out patriotic tunes from the rafters.

I looked for him as my class rounded the building, eventually entering into the room where kids my age were dressed in robes. I looked up to see him smiling down, breaking form to wave to me (and perhaps whoever I was with — I seem to have blocked out the the faces of my companions in this particular memory). I waved back, smiling, wondering if his new school desk housed that old familiar tin.


It is funny to me how sometimes the particulars of a memory will escape me: like the faces of my friends on that trip, or the actual grade I was in when my classmates and I split into smaller groups and played a game designed to generate discussion of current events (not to mention, learn more about our peers).

The game went a little like this:

You'd draw a card that asked a Yes or No question about a current event with an ethical twist that forced one of your classmates to determine how they would handle a situation. So you'd draw your card, read the question silently to yourself, write down on a piece of paper the person in your group that you were going to pose the question to, and then whether your felt their answer would be "Yes" or "No."

When Todd drew his card and then turned to me, I wasn't nervous in the least. From a young age I'd had an understanding of worldly, political events — couple that with my firm belief system, and I had nothing to fear.

Until I heard his question.

"If you were the principal of an elementary school and you found out that one of your students had AIDS, would you allow them to stay?"

I should add here that the Ryan White story was not far removed from us, neither in distance nor in chronology (in fact, Ryan was the age of my older sister). And so much the particulars about the disease (including its pathology) hadn't yet reached the masses. There were rumors that it could be transmitted through sweat; there were rumors of angry, HIV+ patients spitting on the open wounds of non-infected people in hopes of contaminating them. We didn't know yet if mosquitoes, in all their blood lust, could transmit the virus, and suddenly the idea of being "bitten" was more than just a minor inconvenience — it was something to lose sleep over.

All of these thoughts buzzed through my pre-pubescent mind as I formulated my response, still fumbling for words and pleading to be allowed to qualify my response.

"Well, can we make sure they don't participate in activities where they could get hurt?" I asked. "And will all of their teachers have rubber gloves just in case?"

But my inquisitor wouldn't allow exceptions. "I think you just have to answer 'yes' or 'no,'" he said.

My babbling persisted all the same: I said that it was very unlikely to be the kid's fault that they were sick, and I'd really like for him/her to be able to stay, but we knew so little about the disease. I said I worried about how the kid would be treated if other students found out, with my response fluctuating between nervous extremes: more sweat oozing from my pores in those few minutes than in all the hours I spent — years later — huddled into a computer lab taking comprehensive exams for my graduate studies.

Todd looked at me, a curious expression magnified (and yet distorted) by his bottle-cap glasses.

"I guess since we know so little..." I paused. "And since I can't guarantee anything... I'd have to say 'no' — at least for now. But maybe once we learned more, that could change."

"So you're saying 'no?'" he asked.

"If I have to choose one or the other with so little information — yes. I'm saying 'no.'"

"Wow," he said, throwing his card onto the table. "I thought if there was anyone in this room who'd say 'yes,' it'd be you."

I don't believe I've ever been quite so ashamed of myself.


Again, years become hazy as I cannot recollect the day it was when I saw his picture in the paper, a friend having called to tell me to turn to page three.

I didn't recognize him at first: only the name, there in bold at the top of the page, followed so loudly by his age — was it 18? Was it 19? Maybe 20? Why can't I remember?!

"Oh my God," I said. "What happened?"

I read the obituary looking for the tiniest morsel of a detail. But little was given — just enough to make us wonder as the rumors circulated, later to be clarified as fact.

He was a hemophiliac, an illness that created the need for transfusions at the most unfortunate time in our nation's history.

And however long he was sick, none of us knew. Did he have it when we knew him? Did he know? Does it matter?

And I wish I could fill in the gaps. I wish I could paint — beautifully and flawlessly — the recollections of my life.

Because there are times, I swear to you, when I hope to God that I was asked that question (as I believe I was) two or three years after he had disappeared from our school. That he never had to hear me say that — yes, Steve, if it'd been up to me — that I may have lacked to courage to stand up with my friend.

That cute boy with ivory skin, dark eyes, a cowlick, and a mischievous grin.

And yet: somewhere in my mind's eye I imagine him joining us as that table, his face a curious mixture of fear and disappointment as I clumsily worked my way to my final response. And once again I feel, burning deep in the pit of my stomach, a certain shame that will never be undone.

*Not his real name.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nothing Much to Say

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Peepster

Photo borrowed from The Seattle Times.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dodgeball (Movie Review)

I watched a chunk of Dodgeball: a True Underdog Story (2004) a few years ago when it was first released on DVD, but only just recently had a chance to revisit it in all its ridiculous glory.

And it is, indeed, ridiculous.

Starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn as owners of competing gyms (the former a huge success; the latter on the verge of collapse). Vaughn's character has just 30 days to come up with $50,000 or else his gym will fall into the hands of his archenemy — the obnoxiously cocky jock played by Stiller.

Vaughn's cronies recommend they enter a national dodge ball tournament where the top prize is — you guessed it — $50,000, despite the fact that they've never played and don't really have much time to train.

From there, hilarity — yes, I said it... hilarity — ensues in what is actually a fairly clever screwball comedy. Not "genius," per se... but clever. And above all other things: a welcome distraction.

Which reminds me: I'm on a quest to find more decent comedies. Dark comedies are preferred, but I also enjoy straight up comedies that are well-written and appropriately produced... a la Dodgeball and Anchorman. Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments section — or befriend me on Netflix.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Jerk (Movie Review)

Navin R. Johnson: Why are you crying? And why are you wearing that old dress?
Marie: Because I just heard a song on the radio that reminded me of the way we were.
Navin R. Johnson: What was it?
Marie: "The Way We Were."

Well now I understand why people always sounded so appalled when I confessed to never having seen this Steve Martin classic.

It's actually quite good, with Martin starring as the likable Navin Johnson, a "poor black boy" from the South who sets out to discover his roots (or his "special purpose," if you will) only to find himself in all variety of misadventures.

Navin is entirely naive, which seems to only add to his charm. The result is a breed of comedy that borders on terms generally viewed as opposites: it's screwball, in a way, and yet very much so "subtle."

I know that sounds contradictory, but The Jerk (1979) pulls it off (oy!) amazingly well. This is definitely a "must see" for anyone who appreciates smart comedy that maintains a reasonable degree of silliness.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Lesson in Irony

Everyone keeps saying race isn't an issue in the presidential primaries. Then why on earth do we keep talking about it?


In honor of this purported color blindness, I give you a picture of white people banging on African drums.

Dan in Real Life (Movie Review)

Neither great nor awful, this film falls somewhere under the umbrella of "decent."

Dan in Real Life (2007) stars Steve Carrell as an advice columnist who happens to also be the widowed father of three girls. Dan's wife is four years deceased and though his daughters are moving on with their lives, Dan isn't — his parents and siblings have taken to criticizing Dan's lackluster love life, even going so far as to set him up on blind dates.

But when Dan and his daughters drive to Rhode Island to spend a few weeks with their extended family, he visits the local bookstore and meets the woman of his dreams. They talk, laugh, etc. and at the end of the conversation she reveals she's dating someone. Too late for Dan, though — he's smitten.

Cut back to the family cabin, where minutes later Dan is introduced to his playboy brother's new girlfriend, who naturally just happens to be the woman from the bookstore.

Dan is crestfallen, conflicted, and insanely jealous. Matters are further complicated when it is revealed his brother — who's had his fair share of women — is genuinely interested in a long-term relationship with this woman. To make matters worse, the whole family loves her.

But Dan is miserable, and though this misery allows for some of the film's comedy, I also found myself feeling uncommonly sorry for him, from his daughters' normal teenage resentment, to all of those questions from family forcing him to talk about issues he'd prefer to keep quiet.

And it's because of this duality — the comedy and the drama — that I had higher hopes for this film. I felt like something was missing — something that could've made and "OK" film "good" or even "great." Maybe it needed a little more edge, or to be a little less predictable and formulaic.

Whatever was missing for me is also probably the same thing that makes this safe for just about anyone to watch and find it moderately entertaining — and unoffensive.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Goodbye, Boys

I know there are going to be a lot of hurt feelings and paroxysms of disappointment from my male readership when I admit that I went to a chapel this weekend and said "I do" with a man that, admittedly, I hardly know.

And, no, we weren't playacting.

But, whatever, it seemed the thing to do at the time and I don't regret it in the least.

After all, what is a christening without the presence of a godmother and a godfather, pledging to help raise a child (her nephew, his best friend's son) not only in the event of a catastrophe, but also in the day-to-day moral coaching of another of God's "little lambs."

OK, so I was raised Baptist and I was actually a bit nervous walking in the Lutheran chapel, the notion of godparents an altogether foreign concept to me. "So what do I do?" I asked my sister. "Should I bring anything? Will I need to say anything? Should I shave my head, maybe bring a bottle of holy water? Should I tip the minister?"

But she was as clueless as I was, and we both just followed the lead of the minister, who'd been kind enough to print off a program with the entire ceremony written out word for word.

So when it came my turn to speak — to read those words on a piece of a paper — and I said "I do" in front of family and friends...

Well. Let's just say I wanted to turn to my parents and say, "I hope you heard that — because that very well might have been your only chance."

4 Reviews in Under 400 Words

The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Based on the same book as I Am Legend (2007), I found this to be more psychologically complex (and so compelling) than the remake. Which isn't to say it's flawless: there are still some elements that just didn't add up, and Vincent Price isn't as likable as Will Smith. Overall, however, The Last Man on Earth is still the better film, delving further into the psyche of a man believed to be the lone survivor of a bacteria that reanimates its slain victims as vampires.

Running with Scissors (2006)
Based on the memoirs of Augusten Burroughs, this film boasts an ensemble cast, but a not-so-ensemble performance. It's... OK. Always quirky and sometimes funny and touching — and yet otherwise so aware of its attempts to fulfill the role of an "Indie" film that it loses its touch. Though if you're intent on watching films cataloging dysfunctional families, you might want to queue it up all the same.

Across the Universe (2007)
Less than 10 minutes into this movie — a musical set in the 1960s to Beatles re-makes — I turned it off. I liked the idea of it better than the execution, foolishly thinking the Beatles songs were more of a "soundtrack" and less so a part of a musical. I was wrong. In typical musical fashion, the characters periodically dance about and burst into song. And with three such instances so early in the film, I knew I didn't have what it takes to sit through more. I learned my lesson with Hairspray.

Good Luck Chuck (2007)
So it turns out Dane Cook is slightly less annoying — and slightly more amusing — in film than he is in his comedy routine (if we can even call what he does "comedy" — I've yet to understand how he became so famous). But that's not to say this film is good, because it isn't. It's crass and offensive, with a few chuckle-worthy lines thrown in here and there. Essentially: it's about a "cursed" man whose ex-girlfriends ALWAYS marry the guy they date right after him. This is all fine and dandy until he meets a klutzy penguin-girl he actually wants to keep around.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited (Movie Review)

If you like Wes Anderson movies, you'll probably like The Darjeeling Limited (2007) well enough.

If you're neutral towards Anderson, you might want to give it a chance.

And if you hate 'em. Well. You'll probably hate this one too.

I thought it was decent enough — better than The Life Aquatic (2004) but not as good as The Royal Tennebaums (2001). But because Anderson so often focuses on characters who live beyond the means of the average American, it is sometimes difficult to relate to his protagonists — though they do often seem to be on a downward trend, a la the South after the Civil War.

And that's the case with The Darjeeling Limited as well. It's about three brothers re-uniting in India a year after the death of their father. They're quirky and dysfunctional — as is the case with all of Anderson's families — with a lust for life that's contrasted by the personal and familial history they desperately long to overcome.

And though their adventures and limitless disposable income are difficult to relate to, their particular struggles are not. The physical loss of one parent; the emotional loss of another. Their attempts to remain close with one another despite very different paths in life. Etc.

Overall, a decent tragi-comedy that — though still quirky — isn't quite as overdone as some of Anderson's other films.


Friday, March 14, 2008

What is "Garfield" without Garfield...

...but pure genius? A disheartening glimpse into 21st century battles with loneliness and existential crises.

Click on any of the below images to go to the original site.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Echo's Last Stand

For the past six years of my life, I have been paid either to write, or to teach writing. Sometimes both.

And though I think most times I'm a decent communicator — both in writing and in speech — the fact remains that there are some situations that no words can resolve.

You feel them there — swimming around your brain, and settling into a knot in your throat — before you choke them back, resigning them to their futility.

You have learned, you think. You know better.

Nothing can change what has happened, and nothing you say — or do — will help to sway your future.

And so the words just... slip away. You clench your jaw, and maybe your fists.

You drag your thumb along the knuckles and wonder just how many years remain before your hands cease to open and close so freely.

Time is — in fact — the enemy. And you have already wasted so much.

And yet, still, there you are:

Standing. And staring.

With nothing left to say.

And yet: everything.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tales of the Lost and Never Found;
(Or, "75 Miles from Home")

Along with traffic, the thing I most despise about city life is the lack of starlight.

But it often takes a trip away from the twinkling towers and lackluster train tunnels for it to hit me...

Like stretching out of my car after 150 miles of strip malls, cracked pavement and open fields.

Looking up, breathing in, and losing my breath to the constellations showering me from above: no buildings, no smog, no sirens.

Just me and these celestial bodies, communicating with a sigh.

Shakespeare wrote about these stars, I remember. And the Greeks prayed to them.

And yet the majority of the people on this planet live in places where the stars are foreign objects. And it occurs to me, suddenly, that there may be people in this world who have never been exposed to a sky as brilliant and beautiful as this.

But can I blame them? Myself sometimes so bored with this... countryside. One can only do so much camping and hiking and photography of delapidated barns and old gravesites

before the dull allure of the city calls once more: the people, the sounds, the places.

The movies and the moving,

the actors and the acting.

But it is comforting to know -- on particularly dark nights -- that there is a world beyond this... city of cold shoulders.

That even when the stares turn indifferent and you feel entirely and utterly alone, that there is... something more. Something beyond this city, where some days there seems so little gap to mind.

But there is good and bad in both, you remember. You are happy in no single place, but in a world of ever-changing places.

But you are tired of moving, you think. Tired of searching for things you never seem to find: tired of filling in gaps with more gaps, bandaging old wounds with new ones.

But there is no salve for this feeling. No cure for this... cold.

Like turning your car from the town where you grew up towards the city in which you live and wondering if — ever — you will carry your bags across a doorstep.

And call a place "home."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Paradigm Shift - Part II

I have never been what you might call "beautiful."

While generally average in appearance — and perhaps "cute" on some scales — I'm what the giants of our society might refer to as "vertically challenged," barely hitting the 5'4 mark on most charts.

Factor in my lack of interest in high heels and my ability to go days without a proper shower and make-up (if I'm camping), and I'm far from elegant, to boot. And since elegance, for a woman, is so often tied to beauty...

I'm once again at a loss.

And yet: just feet away from my gym is one of two grocery stores I frequent, picking up ingredients for those rare nights spent cooking at home. One evening after a particularly vicious workout, I spun through the rotating doors of that chain grocery store not once, but twice, my dual spin anything but an accident.

You see, some clever patron had managed to wedge a peculiar sticker on the wall just beyond the door. How they did this without losing their fingers is beyond me, but I appreciate their efforts all the same.

I mean: what I saw made me smile, a feat that's rarely been accomplished these past few months.

And so I resolved to revisit that scene with my camera, each day pulling into the gym parking lot and thinking: later, maybe later.

Until weeks had passed, and I was sick with the fear that I had missed my window of opportunity.

But I had not, as evidenced by my eventual arrival there, with my camera in tow.

I stopped the rotating door mid-spin, rested my arm against the lever, and snapped the shutter any number of times, realizing all the while that no photograph can replace the actual experience of stumbling onto such a find in that split second between the outside, and the in.

And just as there is no substitute for the experience, I realize now — weeks since I took these photographs (I'd been waiting for the proper words to post them) — that no number of randomly placed urban artifacts...

...and no matter how many times I spin through those doors....

That sometimes it's impossible to believe anything about yourself until you hear someone else speak the words, earnestly and only,

to you.

But right now: everything is quiet. Too quiet, in fact, with a corporate fan circulating a hum of fiscally-sound air — my only solace over the dull sting of tinnitus.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ever Seen Grease in the Winter?

"I don't recall the breadsticks here being so greasy," I said, gesturing toward the paper that lined my tray — now translucent in any spots touched by bread.

"Oh, yeah," responded my friend. "They're pretty greasy."

"Hey," she continued. "Did you know there's a dinosaur in your grease?"

"You're right!" I said. "I'm going to save the paper and sell this on eBay. It's like the Virgin Mary, only... I'm being visited by a brachiosaurus instead."

Later, after complaining about how full we were, we stopped by the closest Steak and Shake for a sippable turtle sundae.

It was here that we were exposed to truth in advertising.

We both normally eat healthier than this — promise.

The Rules of the Game (Movie Review)

Touted by many as being one of the greatest films ever made, it took me a month to develop enough interest (i.e. boredom with everything else) to finally open the Netflix envelope containing The Rules of the Game (1939/59), and another four weeks to finish watching it.

That is to say, I had a difficult time getting interested in the story, though once I got past all of the discomfort created by the lies and infidelity portrayed in the film — and instead accepted the satirical lens through which director Jean Renoir approached his material — I was hooked. I went from despising the movie to understanding precisely why it was made. Or better yet: why it's so highly regarded among film critics.

Originally shot in the late 1930s, the film was deemed immoral and its negatives were destroyed by the Nazi army. In 1939 Renoir re-edited the film so as to be approved by censors, and it wasn't until 1959 that he released the version most commonly viewed today (in fact, the original, pre-invasion version has long since been lost).

Renoir himself co-stars in this film, which underscores the daily goings-on of French aristocracy and servants alike. The common thread between them is a complete inability to remain true to one's betrothed, with all variety of spouses (rich and poor, male and female) attempting to have their cake and eat it too (excuse the cliche).

Things heat up at a particular dinner party, when the spouses and mistresses all find themselves around a common table, engaging in polite conversation with the very people that they know are attempting to steal away their spouse. But what do they care, when they themselves have secured a little side action?

The end result: a rather tangled web that aptly demonstrates the complexities of the social strata, as well as the common troubles that defy class and gender.

And as is so often true in life, the few "genuine" people among this crowd are the ones most likely to be trampled by the amoral masses.

One complaint about the DVD: this film is in French, and since it is black and white with white subtitles, I had a heckuva time following along. Never mind the four years of French I took...


Beowulf (Movie Review)

Well, this isn't Beowulf (2007) as I remember the epic poem, but it's closer than the previous film adaptation.

Not to mention, I found Robert Zemeckis' use of performance capture animation suited the storyline, and the devices used to fill in narrative gaps (e.g. whatever happened to Grendel's father) were as believable and well-supported as any doctoral dissertation.

That said, Beowulf was a bit bloodier than necessary, overacted, and the airbrushing of Angelina Jolie's naked body was gratuitous in a way that seemed designed only to hold the attention of teenage boys otherwise bored with their AP literature course.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Beowulf is based on the oldest surviving story to ever be recorded in (Old) English. It is about a kingdom plagued by a monster (Grendel), the hero (Beowulf) who arrives to slay the monster, and the mother who seeks vengeance for the death of her son.

Overall, I found this adaption to be "interesting" and a slight improvement over the previous.


So Long as I'm Posting Depressing Videos... about a look at "The Distance Between Us"?

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Little Girl Who Was Forgotten by Absolutely Everyone

I wish there was an embed code for this, rather than a redirect. But I thought it was worth posting all the same -- creepy but touching, strange as that may seem.