It came as a surprise to me that it was cold. This was a minor but still staggering failure for me, to the point where I had to look at my reflection in the glass door and say, ďYouĎre an idiotď, and reply with a somber nod, ďI know, I know.Ē I knew it would be cold- I was actually wearing a coat, and if youíve known me for a long time, you will realize that the coat Iíve been wearing lately is one of three coats Iíve owned my entire life- but this, this was frigid. I stood on my deck for a minute considering my options, breathing puffs of freezing air into the moonlight before deciding to step back inside, cursing myself as I went. Of course its cold. I was born in January, I take cold well. Iíd prefer it to be a good sixty, seventy degrees on most days, but I love the bitter cold of the winter. This affection wears off of course, but the crisp smell of cold air is something I look forward to, like the first rain of spring. That was why I couldnít help but feel like an idiot when I went back inside. It was past midnight in November, of course its fucking cold. I had forgotten gloves, forgotten a flashlight, two vital things to have when traveling into the woods in the middle of a winter (or, to be exact, late autumn) night. It took a lot of consideration to go back out once I was in the warm kitchen again, with Ben mewing around my feet for no particular reason other than that heís a cat and that he can. This was something that I had to do, something that I wanted to do, but dammit, it was cold outside. I stuck my face to the glass of the back door and look at the moon. My kitchen was full of blue and white light, flooding in from the moon, illuminating a can of whipped cream and the coffeemaker. Go out into the night and make my last choice of the year, set this plan of mine in motion, or stay here, watch movies and put around AP? It was an automatic choice, despite lots of bitching from the part of me that didnít want to be cold. I pulled my gloves on, switched on the flashlight and stepped off my deck into the cold-
Things are winding down now, and by winding down I mean flying by. In a story there isan exposition, rising action, a climax, falling action, and the conclusion. Iíve alwaysdisagreed with that. The term falling action does not do the latter half of a story justice,or at least it doesnít do the latter half of my story justice. There was a climax in August,a big turning point where I let her go and kept walking down the road. Countless thingsended and just as many began, such as a new stage of my life. That wonít go away, butIím reaching the end of something here- the end of 2008. 2008 has been a veryinteresting year for me, needless to say. Going into the details is kind of unnecessary, but what I mean by interesting is pretty obvious. A lot of stuff has happened this year. I say interesting because I donít know if I can call it the greatest, the craziest. It wasnít the worst by a long shot, IĎ, just waiting until the end. On December 31st, 2007 I wrote my will and on December 31st, 2008 Iíll be writing something else. I have a plan, and it will end as the year ends. This year has changed me. The girl who used to be the most Important person in my life is gone, is a birthday card that I didnít sign but sent because it was the good thing to do and I am still trying harder than ever before to be a good person. Right now my life has never been more exciting, more grandiose. You know me and my plans- (How do you make God laugh? You make plans) - they have shaped my life, shaped all the events that have gotten me where I am. The plan that I have now dwarfs them. Theyíre pathetic now. They were self centered and selfish, focused on making myself happy and getting myself what I wanted. The plan I have now is the opposite. It is, without a doubt, the most brilliant idea Iíve ever come up with. The sheer scale of it is enormous and grandiose, as huge a sky full of clouds. Iíve been trying extremely hard to be a good person. Iíve been exhausting myself, going out of my way to do whatís right and I wouldnít have it any other way. Iíll keep doing this, long after the plan is over with, but I have never been struck with a plan this good before. It was easy. It came to me naturally, while I talked to her ghost or my memories of her or the ghost of my memories of her, driving home from work one night. Falling action makes it sound as if things are slowing down. Things are speeding up, flying by faster than before. This year and this plan have changed me and theyíre both leaving me much differently than they found me. leaving me much differently than it found me. I have never thought of a plan to make someone else happy. It was always about me. That was a crushing realization, that the biggest parts of my life had all been kind of selfish, but Iíve fixed it. This isnít about me. Its about making someone who deserves it as happy as they can be and that is the single greatest thing I can do. The falling of action of the year, is actually the biggest climax, the biggest turning point that Iíve ever witnessed in my whole life. In the last month of 2008 I am going to do the greatest thing that Iím capable of. In the last week of 2008 Iím going to change my life by doing the best thing I can possibly do. On the last day of 2008 Iím going to take a step into the future and into wherever Iím going, wherever this plan takes me. Iím about to take the biggest leap of faith in myself that Iíve even been brave enough to risk and Iím taking you with me.
-dark night, patting myself down to make sure I had everything. On a hunch I circled around my house into the front yard. I trotted into the garden and put my head to the glass, seeing Ben sitting in his wooden chair by the window, his head tilted in a silent question, a feline ďwhere the fuck are you going?Ē. I tapped the glass and told him Iídbe back soon and Iím sure he took this to heart and immediately hopped up onto the kitchen counter and proceeded to devour the flowers sitting up there, but that was not a worry. I set off down the street against the wind and the cold, as there was plenty of both, singing to myself - I ainít in no hurry, you go run and tell you friends Iím losing touch!Ē- as I walked, not really trying to be subtle. The nights out here are full of sound but peaceful at the same time. Dogs bark and owls hoot throughout the night, the windblows down the alleys the trees create and the crunch of leaves could be heard with every step I took. I took my headphones off slipped them back into my coat pocket and switched my flashlight on. The woods were not scary, as full of moonlight as they were, but it still kind of resembled something out of Corpse Bride, an almost blue ethereal light stuck to everything. I took a breath and plunged into the woods, an owl hooting above me. I used to come out here a lot. I used to have a strange habit of leaving my house around midnight to go explore the woods, which never seem to look the same during the night as they do during the day. It was scary at first, it was mildly horrifying. Like Rabbit in the beloved master-piece Winnie The Pooh it was once easy to hear a sound, the crunch of leaves or a rush of wind, and jump to a horrible conclusion. Now, as I walked through the woods admiring the stars, picking out the constellations, a noise rang out somewhere to my left, a crunching of leaves. I whipped in that direction and quickly slipped behind a tree, since, technically, I am no longer on my own property and Amish people may not see trespassers as a reason to celebrate. I waited with bated breath until the hooting made it obvious that the noise has not been made by a shotgun toting farmer. I shone the flashlight in the direction of the sound and saw an owl flying into the night, a limp and furry something in his talons. Job well done, Mr. Owl. For about three years now an owl has lived everywhere from my roof to these woods, or perhaps a multitude of owls, hooting obnoxiously throughout the night. It reached a really bad point one day two summers ago, where I had to go out into my backyard and plead with the owl, ďwhat do you want from me?Ē. He promised heíd keep it down. As the owl flew away and I gazed upwards it occurred to me that the flashlight was pretty unnecessary. The day is often bright with the clouds and the sunset and on days where there the sun doesnít shine and the moon doesnít glow the nights can be as black as a kettle, but on night like this where the moon and the stars are out doing their jobs the night is everything but pitch black. The trees are black, like giant walls, but the ground has a white sheen to it from the moon, like clever lighting in a movie. The sky is never black, but instead always blue, the darkest blue you can imagine. Blue is my favorite color. Any shade of it is beautiful, any shade of it cheers me up. I want to paint my room blue and yellow, I love my blue Death Cab For Cutie shirt with the Seattle skyline on it, the car that will soon be mine is blue. I write in blue pens and scribble notes to my self in blue sharpies and I can choose the color of something I will almost always choose blue above most other colors except for one enormous exception- eyes. Blue eyes are pretty, yes, but perhaps it was the old girlfriend of mine who acted like her startlingly blue eyes were the work of angels that made me appreciate brown eyes a lot more. Iím a sucker for girls with brown eyes, assuming I actually like them. Brown Eyed-Girl did it for me. That song made me fully appreciate how beautiful a pair of brown eyes are and now I see things different through my own brown eyes (or are they green? I can never decide), I see that the night is full of the moonís pale white light and that the ground beneath my feet was bathed in it. I reached the end of the of the woods and stepped into the tall grass that was waving in the wind-
I do my best thinking when Iím driving or when Iím jogging or when Iím dreaming, when I can let my mind wander free. I can actually almost always do this- itís a nice little perk, having a very active mind and imagination. It gets me through the miserable weekends at work where I work 24 hours over three days and where I wish I was talking to you instead of earning money and assisting customers in the enjoyment of their movies. This plan came to me a long time ago, probably almost two years ago. I knew that something I canít name specifically for the sake of surprise was special and different the moment that it happened. A year later after it happened it came to me in a dream where the dynamic that had been established changed all of a sudden and I thought about things in a different way than I had before. All through the summer when the distance was wide and vast I started thinking about the future, these ideas started forming and one night late in August when a light in the middle of the night during a beautiful song began a new part of my life it all became abundantly clear. This plan fell into my mind driving down the moonlit road and it kept growing and growing. It formed while I was driving, fast and well, I take the country roads as fast I can without killing myself, and it formed while I was dreaming, carefully dreaming of the possibilities of the future. Things are the opposite of how they used to be, in many ways. I drive well and sleep carefully, dreaming of where Iím going to end up dreaming of driving and dreaming up this plan while I drive. Iíve come an incredibly long way. I made a list of things I had to fix about myself and I picked myself apart, and yes, it was difficult, but it was completely worth it. IĎve still got a long way to go. I am still bitter, I am still furious, I can still be a pessimistic bastard. The struggle to be a good person is the driving force of my life, the objective, the philosophy I see behind all things, and its never ending. Iím not good at many things. I can write well, I think, so I hear, and Iíve got a keen eye for film making- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk are going to be the two best films of 2008- and I can sing, I can sing the living shit out of the music I love and I can jog long distances and a have a plethora of knowledge sitting around, but I am particularly good at one thing- plans. If I may so myself, this is the most brilliant idea Iíve ever come up with. Itís just that good. I cannot wait, I am counting down the days (twenty-one really is a good number), and I need you to wish me good luck, I need you to wish me Godspeed on this journey into the future, into the dusty road of fate, because my mortality might be catching up with me any day now and by God I am going to effect someoneís life as positively as they have affected mine before I leave, before I become a cloud. I think thatís a pretty good cause. I think that thatís one worth living for.
-straight out of a scene from a Midwest prairie. I looked ahead, straight South and smiled as wide as I could. Firstly, because there was a quarter glinting in the moonlight roughly 5 steps in front of me, stuck in the mood. Fuck yes. The year was 2005, a fairly recent one. That was a good year, a landmark year in which I started the process of growing up. I walked forward into the giant open field that was destination, whistling to my self Il triello, the most badass song ever composed for a movie. I love it out here. I love the country where I live and I love the weather at all times of the year. I love the stars winking high above and the quarter in my pocket and I love my life. I absolutely fucking love it. I am part pessimistic bastard and I am part overwhelmingly happy, and the combination works in an interesting way. I thought to myself as I walked to the middle of the middle and as I reached into my pocket about what this really is. A showdown with fate, a showdown with myself? Its something, something wonderful that I canít describe. I thought about my grandfather no Thanksgiving, who caught me in the hallway and asked to see my room, said he didnít want to go up there without my permission. I was happy to oblige. My grandfather is a fascinating man and I know next to nothing about him. I know that I carry a coin for good luck in my pocket that used to be his, a penny inside a silver coin from the auto shop where he used to work. I know that he was on a combat ship to Osaka when Japan surrendered and thanks to that he never saw a day of action, which is lucky, considering that I am happy to be alive. I have his dog tags in the cigar box, next to the arrowhead, next to the letters that Iíve been re-reading, the ones you sent me over the summer in the blue envelopes. I lead him upstairs and opened the door to my room slowly, knowing the state of it was not very attractive. I walked in and stood next to the window. He took a look around, a strange look on his face and told me that he loved what Iíd done with it. I didnít know what he meant by this. My room is a wreck, a huge stack of notebooks and papers and pens on my desk, clothes, everything from my coat to boxers spread out on the floor, water bottles strewn around the bed. He took a long look at my The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly the poster, looked at the heap of paper on the desk and told me he was proud that I enjoy writing so much and asked who the picture of the girl next to my mirror was. I told him it was my favorite person and he looked at me and said ďyouíre doing a great job.Ē These words could have been better to here. I hope that Iím doing a great job. That is why Iím out here, that is why Iím exhausting myself, thatís why Iím doing this. A cloud with the vague shape of an arrowhead covered the moon but I kept right on walking, I left the flashlight in my pocket. If you go out into the night and close your eyes for a while and open them slowly it is all of a sudden not that dark, but beautiful in as many ways as the day. I was shivering, clutching my hand in my pocket around the reason I was out there in the middle of the night. With a crack of ice under my foot I looked down and realized with a small but substantial thrill (this means I can soon go home and be warm again!) that I had reached my destination, a small puddle that becomes a small pond in the summer, but for now was just a small little patch of ice. I knelt down and dug the flashlight out my pocket, breathing into my hand, still singing to myself, and cracked the butt of the flashlight onto the ice. The effect was very satisfying, a resounding shatter. The smallest amount of water was pooled below which was rather surprising, because this involved water, and I wasnít really expecting to find any here. The landmark that had led me here, a big and bold tree, was stirring in the wind, its leafless branches stretching towards the moon. I took a moment to contemplate my luck- I didnít get shot by a farmer, I actually managed to find this puddle, and there was water in it, and and and I found a quarter! Absolutely marvelous. The water sat there rippling in the light and I pulled off my gloves with my teeth, continuing to sing myself- ďwhen I watch you I want do you right you where youíre standingÖĒ- and pulled my hand out of my pocket, opening my palm in front of my face to take a long look at the arrowhead, a dull grey tan in color, a black ink turtle drawn onto the face, one of the sides chipped slightly, sharp but gentle. The arrowhead has seen a lot. Its been in my life for a long time and it had a new one for a short while but now its back in my hands. She told me to give it to someone special after she returned it to me. Iíve thought about that for a long time, after I managed to get rid of the lingering smell of cigarette smoke, that gray stench that fills your nostrils. The arrowhead has more or less shaped my life. In my story is like the Sorcererís Stone, the One Ring, the mysterious briefcase full of yellow light. Its such a small little stone and it means so much. You know the significance of it as do many others, where it came from and where it went and how it came back to me. It brings me happiness. It makes me overcome with joy, it reminds that Iíve done incredibly well and exceeded my expectations, it reminds that Iíve found happiness in my life and that I can find a way to give it to someone else. I could give the arrowhead to someone else. Perhaps thatís what the future holds, as that is what she told me to do. It would be the ultimate act. The arrowhead is a big symbol or in the context of my life being a story a plot device, being a symbol for my happiness. Iíve got a choice to make. I turned my hand over and let the arrowhead fall-
I have never been all that I can be in my life. I have never been a horrible person, but Iíve never really tried as hard as I could. I have made mistakes that I can make up for and I have flaws that I must fix in myself. I know that as the year winds down the excitement will grow more than it already has. When driving or dreaming the anticipation for this just overcomes me. I cannot wait for the day to come, for the moment to come. Life is not measured in minutes, its measured in moments and memories that stick with us and change us like you changed me. I hope that this will be one of those moments. Considering the sheer scale of this plan a friend of mine asked me what I expect to receive in return- such a good question, that. I expect a lot of different things. The distance kills me, how rarely I see you and how rarely we talk. Days can stretch by where weíre to busy to talk or it gets lost in the shuffle and they batter me like pieces of hail. The sleep that I crave comes on slow when I havenít heard from you in days. Sleep comes to me without trouble most of the time but I never get the amount that I should. I stay up late into the night and I wake up in the middle of the night to write my thoughts down, I fight though my memories. I can silently wish you goodnight when I allow myself to slip into dreams or I can try a lot harder, I can atone for my past. Iíve always been more of a giver than a receiver. The most I could ever ask for in return is all the friendship you can give me, all the devotion and love that I view the world with. A letter would be nice, a hug, but what I really want for Christmas, what Iím really striving for is to see you smile like you actually mean it, to see you happy. Before I die I have so much to give to the world and to you, all you beautiful people and you in particular, and after all the years and all the fruitless searches I have finally found a way.
-into the miniscule puddle, where it sat under the inch of water and I sat down in the dusty dirt and waited. I was tired, am always tired. Naps are a rare diamond ruff now. I need to clean my room soon but I will not touch the papers and notebooks that cover my desktop. There are lists, lists of the tiniest and most miniscule steps to this plan. It has required research and careful planning, detailed details and ideas. I picked a red leaf and examined it in the moon light, red on one side and green the other. The leaves have all fallen now and Iím getting ready to do what my life until this point has been leading up to. For something so simple it is rather extraordinary, being sweeping and grand in its simplicity. I wouldnít say this if I wasnít sure of it. Iíve built this plan out a little whisper in my head, Iíve built it into something huge and Iíve never been more confident. Iíve never been more sure. The song I was listening to ended, ĎDrop Out- The So Unknowní ended, and I picked the arrowhead up out of the water. It looked strange and foreign, glistening with water and the strange blue and white light that the moon pours over everything. I had gotten what I wanted. I jogged home, extremely happy and extremely cold and extremely satisfied. In the moonlight the arrowhead is as bright as everything else. It doesnít fade and look dusty and the smell of cigarettes doesnít come back, a smell that I battled against for weeks. In the moonlight it looks as beautiful as the vision of you in my passenger seat does on the latest of late night work nights, a blue and white glass ghost. Iíve made my choice. Itís a matter of time now, a matter of 21 days. Iíll have my car by then, and after Iíve thrown down my ace, my coup de grace, Iíll come home down Yoder with ĎAlive With The Glory of Loveí playing, Iíll open that motherfucker up down the straightaway. It will be glorious. Iíll be happy. This whole month and that last week is going to fly by and Iím going to find myself heading into the future in no time. The past is behind me, I can only keep moving forward and I will on continue to grow, I will grow and grow and grow and grow like the moon during a waxing cycle, like I did in the spring after my heart just veered short of getting broken. I will grow because I can only get better, I can only try harder. I can only head west into the horizon and into the future, into the beyond, into the wild green yonder. It will be new. There will be lots of music, lots of movies and writing, lots of friends, lots of good times and laughs and I will do my best to a good person and to make you happy whether youíre ecstatic or down. The future doesnít scare me in the slightest bit and that surprises me because its huge. The arrowhead will be with me my whole life but I no longer need it, I no longer need a concrete symbol to stitch my happiness to. I can find it in the clouds or in your smile, in a star or in a song. I am not scared of the future but I have to make one confession. As the winter stretches on, as my life stretches on, I will grow older and wiser and I want to bring you on this journey with me. Iíd like to you come with me. Thatís why I do this, thatís why I tear apart my mind onto notebooks and into my computer, because I could never do this alone and that is why Iíve made this plan, to repay the people who have always helped me. I would like you to come with me into the future. It will be full of light and sun and stars and clouds, it will be as grandiose as anything today but new and bright, like a white sanded beach or a field of flowers. I promise. Come with me. Please. I want you to come with me.
This is not movie related. I have broken my promise to keep this blog dedicated to movie reviews. The following is from Myspace (you have permission to groan) but I'd like to think that it is pretty decent, and worth your time. Its about letting someone go, my ex-girlfriend to be exact, knowing that its what I have to do even though its hard. I hope you enjoy it.
All the clouds drifting across the Southern sky are the lives of all the people I have ever known, or souls, of all the people I've ever connected with, strewn across the sky like a painting. There are jet trails and birds and the first stars peeking out, the sun off to the West and all these huge, behemoth clouds that would dwarf skyscrapers, mountains sitting in the air, floating through the sky like souls floating through time. I just feel overcome. I felt like that driving home from work just the other night, going ninety down Yoder. It was because of what day it was, a day where a year ago I loved you. Often the world is so beautiful that, harkened along with great music or a great movie, I am just overcome with the beauty of it all. All the wind blowing from every part of the world, all the light all over the Earth, and all the time I have left in my life, which is winding down with every second, in tiny little droplets. I can hear your voice at all times, whispering in my ear like the wind blowing from God knows where. I can hear my death coming somewhere down the road in the same way I can see everything coming far down the road, with a big gust of warm wind, arriving tomorrow or in ten years or sometime so far down the road that by the time I reach it, it will reach all the way to the sky. I'm absolutely overcome with where my life has led me and where I've ended up, and what I see in these clouds, and I-
Oh I have changed so much. Where as a year ago I would have hated to admit that I have grown up, because it would have meant I wasn't grown up before, I now take no shame in admitting that I have indeed grown up, in such a huge way. I was disillusioned with happiness a year ago, coming off a summer where I was chasing my biggest problem, desperate to catch it. I'm jaded as can be. I got everything I wanted to off my chest, and it fucking hurt. Accepting that I'm not going to get back what I had and being honest with myself- "If you still want me in your life you'll find a place to put me"- it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It hurt like hell, and I was filled with doubt. It was on my deck late at night with the moon out. I told the person I cared about most in the world that I couldn't do it anymore and its all been brand new since then. I'm jaded, I'm lonely as all get out- a year ago, the only person I hung out with was my girlfriend, and now I don't do much of hanging out with anyone- I'm lonely, I miss you even though I know I have to do this, but at the same time I'm so happy to be where I am. In a happy-go-lucky way, I've had bad things happen to me- The two girls I've been with were both at different times my best friend, my girlfriend, and now they're really not much of anything except for memories, clouds. There's friendship there, sometimes, one far more than the other- but there's one thing that I just can't do anymore. I, like everyone else in the world have had some bad things happen to me, things that we can't fix, things that we don't deserve. And there's not much I can, or feel like doing about it except moving forward. Its painful, that you're not there anymore, even though in so many ways you are. I'm angry about what happened to me, tired of forgiving and forgiving, a little bit sad and a lot of nostalgic, and happy, because I needed it. I needed to get thrown out of where I was, to have such a riveting experience. I feel like the butt of a farcical tragedy, screwed over by someone I poured so much of myself into, the whole "I fought a war to walk a gangplank" school of thought. But I do have something I didn't have, a number of things in fact- a job, a best friend who gets me through the day, some clarity. But I intend to keep growing, keep searching, like a big tree, or a waxing moon, or someone who still has a lot to learn.
The long story that I've been telling, that story being my life, will keep going, but I feel like this is the end to one part, the start to another. It's the fact that you're gone. And that this is number eleven. Since she/you left in March, I just had to write, my mind nearly exploded, and the result has been the last ten blogs I've written. It seems like most of my favorite record's tend to have eleven songs on them, and this would be a fitting ending. This is the start of a new chapter of my life. When the person you care about most, who you dated on and off for a good two years, just isn't there anymore, it stirs up some things and oh man I am glad to be moving forward. You see, I'm searching for something. I wrote a will on the last day of 2007. I was sitting in my room listening to ÖIs A Real Boy and for some reason I thought about the parallel between it being the last day of the year and the possibility of everyday being the last day of your life. Its long, descriptive. Its largely a list of my possessions and who I want them given to, last messages I want given to my friends. I did it so I could get it out of the way, so if I die in my sleep my best friend will know how grateful I was to have her. I'm young but I feel so old. I'm desperately searching for a clarity I once held. I'm happy, I'm lonely, I'm moving forward and I wouldn't be anywhere without one person in particular, and I need clarity. I need to clearly see the clouds, the memories. I have faded pictures of you, the two magnetic hearts you gave me, one for me and one for you, and I am not going to forget you. I can't even try to do that. I'm to tired to really pursuit anything. This is such a new, huge, beautiful horizon. This is the last time I'll be at this part of my life. I can move forward. I can't forget about you, but I can search for the clarity that I so desperately crave. I poured my heart into making someone happy and I just couldn't do it. Some people just aren't happy if they're satisfied, and I'm not one of them. I don't want to fight, I just want to look at the clouds. I am searching for a clarity that I've got a hold on- I've got someone to get me through the worst of days- but I want the clarity I had when I woke up so long ago, because I'm now waking up again.
My three days in New York were a blur. There was the train ride, lots of coffee, the beach, movies, the park, the warm and the cold air and the river, and the best sleep I've ever had. I crammed all my thoughts into notebooks, and I realized that while perusing them that I'm achieving what I'm shooting for. I want to be a good person. I want to be the best person I possibly can be. I try to be selfless, to not think about myself, but I find that I can't forgive you. I've tried, but I can't forgive you for what you put me through. I don't want revenge. Living well, yes, it is the best revenge, but that's not why I want to live well. I have worked so hard to gain the happiness I live with and by God I'm not going to fucking throw that away; and writing my scatter-brained thoughts down in these little notebooks- Billboard that says 'mother loves you', the Montauk monster, sand is not overrated, when drinking water you are drinking your reflection, I miss someone else for a change- I realized that I've been doing a good job. I'm simply trying to be a good person, to be as good as I can. It was a perfect trip. The weather was nice, warm and cold at the beach, and it was windy, and I found myself missing someone else, someone who I'm missing even now, late at night when I'm freezing and not the slightest bit tired. I got so much thinking done on this trip, so many good conversations. While I was there, I still had some doubt about letting the person mentioned earlier go, and it was erased by a great friend, and I felt better right there than I ever had in my life. There are a lot of people in my life that I just couldn't live without, one in particular that I don't know what I'd do without. After that conversation, the one I wrote down, after eating at the Mexican restaurant on Bleaker and getting ice cream we watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was early, there was still light outside, but I was exhausted, and I carried her to her bed when she fell asleep on the couch and I tucked her in. It was strange how light she was, strange that she smelled so good even though we had been out all day and the rain had washed off her perfume, and when I almost fell because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going because I staring at her when I walked past the window, she looked beautiful, her skin so soft and tan, her eyes fluttering in a dream. When I came to bed myself a bit later she had not moved an inch and I couldn't bring myself to do it, to sag the mattress with my weight and shuffle around. The bed looked warm and comfortable, but she, on the other hand, looked absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't bring myself to disturb her. To wake her up getting into bed would be to destroy something beautiful and she was just to perfect- so I slept on the floor. Right next to the bed, so she would later wake up and step on me, next to the air conditioning, where I was freezing to death the whole night, where the cat would continually paw at my face for hours- but right next to her, in New York, moving forward in my life and knowing that when I got home it would be over, I would get rid of the ghost, sleeping on a hard floor next to one of my favorite people- that was exactly where I wanted to be. I looked at the ceiling, thinking of the ceiling as the sky and the sky as life and all the clouds in the sky as the people. So many things are ending, so many things are starting, and I have left my past far behind me now, and when I look back I'll see them through the window of that building in New York, the air sweet and the moon hanging high up in the sky, high above my life.
A few months ago when she left me I wrote that as long as you have 'the clothes on your back and the horse you rode in on' you will survive, but I'm not surviving. I'm living, existing. Since March 17th, 2008, and even long before then- that day was just the catalyst- I have been filled with so much stuff. I'm happy, I'm positive. I was depressed for a long time, I didn't appreciate life. When I finally did I loved it, I worked so hard for my happiness, and then I spent it all trying to make someone happy and never got any of it back, and I'm fucking furious about what happened to me. I'm fucking furious that I have been fucked over by someone I cared about so deeply and selflessly, but I digress. I am furious, yes. A raging ball of anger, and this feeling that I got cheated out of what I deserved. Do you remember hearing this before? I have forgiven, in some ways, in many ways not. I just couldn't do it anymore. I have dealt with all these feelings bought on by you/her leaving, all this leaving! and I have come to the conclusion that oh my God how could I ever consider my life boring? I'm lonely, I'm angry, I'm happy, I'm sad, I miss you, I am the humanest of human beings, the most mortal soul you'll ever meet. It takes a lot to stay content- I'm not content. But I'm happy, and at the same, I miss the hell out of you, but I can't let that get me. I have worked so hard for my happiness, and I try so hard to be a good person- I will carry you to your bed and tuck you in and sleep for the floor so you won't wake up, I'll buy my friends a gift because I want to see them smile, I will do anything you want me to do for you- I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd- because I love you for being in my life, I love you for what you've gotten me through, the muse that you are. The arrowhead that I gave to her/you on the day I had decided that she/you was the person to give it to who two days later left me, had been leaving for so long and left me, it's the most important thing I own. I think I know what I'll do with it. I could bury it. I could throw it into a river, into the ocean. I could give it whoever in the world that I want to, but I think I know exactly what I'm going to do with it. On the arrowhead is a turtle. It means that whoever its given to is wished a long and happy life and I don't want it, I don't need it. I've had a long life, one that hopefully lasts quite a bit longer, and even though it hasn't been perfect it has been a happy life, happy due to the fact that I persist. Someone deserves this arrowhead more than I do. It pains me sometimes, the fact that we don't talk anymore. It fucking kills me. She/you deserved this arrowhead, but something bought it back to me and I hope you have the happiest, longest life you can lead. I hope that what you did is what you wanted, whether or not it hurt me, whether or not it was selfish, I hope that you are happy and I hope that one day I will be as happy as I was, in the time when I held you on the beach, in the time when I held the clarity I'm searching for. I can't let you go, I can't forget you, but I can't do what I've been doing since that day when I cried and cried and cried, since the day I gave myself to you. I can just hope with every ounce of my being that you are happy, and wonder if you still think about me, if you miss me the slightest bit. But I know, for once, for the first time in my life, exactly what I am going to do. I didn't until I saw the moon, till I heard her breathing slow and deep above me, asleep, while I laid on the floor. How do you make God laugh? You make plans. I swore off plans. In a world so huge almost nothing goes to plan, but that's the beauty of it- the plan is that there is no plan. It doesn't matter how I get there, I'm just going to get there. In some ways, its actually quite an elaborate plan. I made a plan to make someone love me, and it worked, and when I lost it I lost everything, and I lost the belief that I had any control over anything but oh I have grown so much and I see now, now that I'm not scared of death, now that what I always feared the most was waiting for me on that day when I cried and cried and cried, I see this in a new light. I know what I want to do, how I want to do it, and its not a plan to win back someone's love, not at all. I'm done running in circles. It's a plan to do for myself what I want to do, make my life better, make someone else's life better. I could bury the arrowhead, I could throw it in a river, but no, someone deserves it. I want to make my life better, and I think the only way to do that is to make someone else's life better. I would rather see your smile, and know that you think of me when you look at it, know that you know that I chose you to give this little piece of my life too. It's the one thing that's not in my will. I can't give it to who I once did, I know that. It won't go back to where I got it from, back to the envelope stuck in my mailbox on May 16th, the envelope that smelled like cigarettes, the return address 'El Diablo'. I want to give it to someone that deserves a long and happy life more than anyone I know, and that's the plan here- I want to know your plans, I want to know where we're going in each others lives, and I just want to see you smile- and when I'm long dead and gone I can look down at you, perhaps as a cloud in the sky, and be happy that I left you with the best gift I could give, the one that made my life so long and happy, or perhaps I did that myself. Or perhaps you did.
I can't pretend that I don't think about the choice I've made. I will never forget what I said, how I said it- "You were my favorite person", how my voice cracked and I bit it back. I have a best friend who has changed my life, gotten me out of the darkest of times before I was really in them, and I have you. Am I anyone's best friend? Am I making anyone's life better? I'm trying. I owe my best friend so much, for all the things she's given me. The best friend that I had once, who I'd stay on the phone with for three hours at a time, I lost her on a rainy day in August a long time ago. I think about what I did to your life, what you did to mine, and what my friend has done for me. You helped me grow. Both of you, you who know who you are. I have grown so much. In the last few months I have woken up, dug myself out of the dirt and realized how miserable I was for so long. I feel new, and old, I feel so old. I don't want to go out and party, I don't want to stay out all night. The price that I've paid for knowing that I wasn't happy before is losing that important person. I would always worry if you were mad at me, if I would lose you, if I deserved you, and I had all those questions answered for me. From the pain I've been through, I've grown up so much and learned so many things. I have so many people I care about in my life, and I write my heart out here so that they know. I have to get these things off of my chest, and I want to share my story with you. I hope that when I'm gone, someone remembers me. I hope that I have touched someone's life as deeply as you have touched mine. When I had that long, revealing dream a few nights ago I realized so many things. The choice that I've made, the choice to let someone decide where I belong in their life and hope that it fits in mine, was the right thing. I have been running myself ragged, and in doing so, in being left by the person that held me up and yet held me down, I have grown up and learned so much about love, about life. I'm going to die one day. And I have friends. And I have people that care about me, people that I care about. And they may all be left and leaving, but I will be right here. I have moved on, I've grown up, and the quiet I hear at night is so new. I don't worry about you and me now. I hope that you are safe and that you're happy, and that's all I can do. I am proud of myself, for not giving up, proud that I've walked so far past the point I thought I'd never reach without you. I know how I did it. Just as I thought I'd be useless without you, I fought like hell to stay happy. Just as I know I would be lost without my best friend, she keeps me going and I simply live my life as well I can. I made a choice, a choice to exist, and I'm so glad I did. It wouldn't be worth it any other way.
Driving home on those empty roads on dark nights, when the first leaves of fall are floating through the air, that's when it gets to me. That's when I wonder if you still think about me. I wonder if you miss me, if you wonder what I'm doing and how I'm doing with life. I wonder, do you feel sorry what you did? Do you feel it was worth it, do you feel selfish? I said everything I wanted to say, and it was the most wonderful feeling I've experienced. I told you everything, and made it clear that I couldn't do this anymore. I always wanted to know your plans, and I was terrified. I was always terrified that I would lose you. I know that a random phone call, perhaps to the wrong number, a rainy day, or an old memory will one day bring me back to your presence. Sometime, maybe sometime far from now I will be able to face you again, and remember that you gave me the clarity I once had, the clarity you later took away. I remember every conversation we ever had, every day we were together. I remember when I was in love. I would do anything for so many people, not knowing or caring if they would do the same for me. I just always wonder, as I drive home with the windows late at night or jog down the road going West, do you still think about me? I know that we no longer talk as much, as the result of the choice I've made, but I still hear your voice singing along with mine to the songs we decided were our favorites, and I still sometimes feel your hand in mine when I'm laying in bed at night, quietly tearing my mind apart, searching for the clarity I held before all of this happened. I think of your thoughts in my mind, I think of all the things I did for you and all the times I tried to cheer you up. I feel your presence in my head, the memories of us together bundled up in my mind, in my chest, there when I want them and there when I don't. I know that you're in my body, that you've a huge mark on me that will only be erased with time. I hope that the choice I've made isn't killing you, but I hope that you miss me too. The good times that we shared kill me, and I hear your voice inside me, beside me, in the passenger seat of my car as I say your name to myself and convince myself that the choice I've made is the right one. It is, I know it is, because I'm doing so much better, I'm so much more awake. But this is the hardest thing I've ever done. I don't want revenge, I don't want a never ending cycle of fights, I just want to live my life without a rain cloud over it. I say your name to myself sometimes late at night, or when I'm watching the western sky, and I usually follow it with another name, another person I'm just beginning to see clearly, another person I will never forget.. I don't think you're the most important person in my life anymore, as I'm certainly not a contender in yours, but I can't forget you. I can't pretend you don't exist. You became such a part of my life that it would be like pretending I don't exist, like pretending that the sky is just the ceiling. Do you ever look into the sky and think about me? I remember when we laid on the beach, or in the grass, and we'd look at stars, mistake them for planes, talk about our plans. I am flying through my life, and I miss you like hell. I know that I will see you again one day, and I as much as it hurts, I am happy I've made this choice. Perhaps I'll pick out two stars in the southern sky, close to each other, one for me and for you, and always remember us that way. Keep me with you, and when I'm gone remember me as my favorite song, as my favorite part of the day, as a cloud floating along in the sky, along with your life.
I remember when I was truly miserable, and I remember the day I asked myself, the day that I met the girl I consider my best friend, what the fuck are you doing?. I remember the clarity I held when I realized how wonderful my life was. I'm finding it now, as I run through all my memories and think of what I've done for people, what they've done for me. The letters I received from across the sea got me through the summer, and so did you. I have seen so much in my life, and I could tell you all about it, but I'd end up repeating myself, and so I'm only going to repeat myself once. There is nothing in your life that will always be there other than the sky, the world, and there is nothing worth losing your way over. You've gotta stay positive. Its worked for me. I fought through a lot to appreciate my life, and I've hit my share of roadblocks- when she left me in March, for the first time in sixteen months I admitted to myself that I wasn't happy, and yet that was what made me even happier. Stay positive, please, I beg of you. You will have bad days. I'm not always joyously happy. I miss you, I miss my best friend, I'm tired, but I love my life. I know that hanging your head and crying will get you nowhere. Anger and sadness, they will find their way into your life, but they won't stay there forever. Your life is going to end, and when it does you really want your last thought to be why the fuck did I waste it? I have seen so many people come and go, and I've been around long enough to know that they never leave. Like the girl I've been writing about for six months, people will leave, but they'll leave you with so many things to hold onto. You will always remember them if you're anything like me, and if you appreciate your life, if you want to be happy, you can be happy. I couldn't do this by myself. I couldn't do this without Lauren, I couldn't do it without knowing that its working, I couldn't do it without the clouds and the moon to keep me company. You absolutely have to stay positive. I am searching for a clarity that people in my life gave to me, that I could feel in the air when I breathed, and I am so close to finding it, I can taste it. I have been through so many things, I've been from top to bottom. I have made choices that I'm not proud of and I've seen a lot of people leave my life but I stay positive, because I pour my heart out to be a good person, and if you give enough to someone, someone will give it back. Finally, I have the clarity I need to see just who it is I need to get me through my life. I know who I need, I know who needs me, and I have so many things to look forward to, so many people that fill my life with what I need. If you had not been in my life, it would not be the same, and if the person that gets me through the day weren't in my life, I would be lost. I find myself on the empty roads under the sky while I fly down them, alive, and its amazing that considering the past six months, I am still alive. I can remember my life in four parts, and this is start of a new one, finally finally finally. I look back on my life and see so many things clearer then they used to be, and I fully appreciate how magnificent it is. My life is a cloud, just one little part of the sky, just one little part of the life we all lead.
Will Ferrel isn't a man of many layers. His movies often have him playing roles that are kind of the same exact thing, recycled and fitted to the plot of the movie. You either love him or hate him, or you're just really tired of him. If you're not a fan, this movie obviously isn't for you, but if you are, if you're one of those people who adores Anchorman (you know I don't speak spanish), you're in for a blast.
Step Brothers reunites the comic trio of director Adam McKay alongside John C. Reilly and Will Ferrel that made 2006's Talladega Nights, and what they do here is much of the same, except R-rated. It's a hilarious movie, from the beginning- seeing Ferrel and Reilly standing fifteen feet apart staring at each other got me going- to the outrageous musical numbers that make up the end of the film. Its mostly gross out, immature humor, but that certainly shouldn't stop you from laughing. Like him or not, Will Ferrel has impeccable delivery, as do the excellent cast rounded out by Reilly and Richard Jenkins. It can go from strange, silly jokes like the teabagging of one's drumset to strange and broad musical performances, as the brothers try to get on their feet and use their talent in a hilarious piece called "Boats and Ho's." Its got a lot of different types of jokes, most of which work very effectively.
Though wildly entertaining from start to finish, its not perfect- some jokes fall flat and it is rather predictable. However, if you like what Ferrel and McKay have pulled off in the past, you'll love it. It does a great job of making you laugh at two hilarious and pathetic characters, which is exactly what its trying to do.
The Dark Knight- 100% NOTE- Spoilers run rampant throughout, if you haven't seen it I'd recommend waiting.
For many months, the massive anticipation surrounding The Dark Knight has spawned rabid fans, a huge viral marketing campaign, and a sense that it would be a truly amazing film. As a reboot of the extremely lackluster Batman film franchise, Batman Begins was both a superhero movie, a crime movie, and a blockbuster/critical success, a very gem in Hollywood, and even more rare amongst superhero movies. And then, three years later, we have The Dark Knight.
The 100% I give it does not mean that this film is perfect, because while watching it I still find myself ever so slightly annoyed by Batman's deep, guttural voice- and thats about it. The 100% reflects that each time I watch it gets better, that the audience cheers and laughs and gasps and that I have never had such a remarkable expirience watching a film. I found myself leaning forward, elbows on my knees and holding my breath throughout. The film is truly a crime saga, an epic tale of good and evil and the thin line our heroes tread trying to be the hero that the people need. Batman's struggle is amplified as the film's opening scene- the Joker and his cohorts pulling off an intentionally botched bank robbery- grabs you and grips your interest. The introduction of the film, the pacing, and all the dialouge is flawless. Every line is incredible, qoutable and powerful at best. From Alfred (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox's (Freeman) wise words of wisdom to Harvey Dent's (Eckhart) musings on heroics, to the Joker's mad ravings. In one of the films best scenes, the Joker tells Batman as he brutally pummels him, "I don't want to kill you, you complete me!", and its more than evident that he really believes it. And when The Joker tells Dent "I'm a wild dog chasing cars, I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it!", its so brutally evident that he really is a madman, as he says, an Agent of Chaos. He's the bandit in Alfred's story of a jewel theif who stole just because he could. The Joker is a terrifying villian in the fact that he has no motive, he has no backstory, we don't know where he's coming from and we certainly don't know where he's going. Enough praise truly cannot be given to Heath Ledger's performance, and as you listen to the Joker tell a fabricated story of how he got his scars, the blow of Heath Ledger's death hit me just as hard as it did on January 22nd. Heath's performance is flawless. His feral snarl of a voice and laugh haunts you, and he roars through Gotham. Seeing The Joker prance down the street in a nurse's outfit as explosions go off behind is kind of hilarious, kidn of terrifying. In the interrogation room scene, his eyes never stay still. He's a rabid dog, a brilliantly deranged madman. Heath deserves an Oscar, undoubtedly. If its a pity win for his death, so be it, I want nothing more than to see him win it at this year's Oscars. His last complete performance is by far his best, and without a doubt the one he'll be remembered for. It's truly a tragedy that he's gone, but its completely evident while watching his turn as the Joker that he was a master at what he did. He is sorely missed, but with The Dark Knight, it can't be more evident that he was one of the best actors of our time. As his makeup smears and ideas become more deranged, the character becomes more and more fascinating, more and more dangerous, and more and more fun to watch.
The Joker isn't the only marvelous thing about the film. From the first apperance of the Batpod to the constantly exciting events- it has a sense of constant climax- it really is just about perfect, easily one of the best films I've ever seen. I've had so much fun anticipating it for months that it was highly unlikely that I would be remotely dissapointed, and I was thrilled to have my expectations shattered. Every performance is golden, including Maggie Gyllenhaal's turn as Rachel Dawes. The tragedy bought on by what happens to her character is thanks to superb writing and her performance, as she sets the stage for the emotional arc Batman goes through. And speaking of which, though the entire film is fantastic, the last five minutes could not be more incredible. Personally as much of a bummer it will be to not see more of the Joker, I don't think Heath should be replaced- his performance truly made the character- but I would certainly like to see more of Two-Face. At the film's end, even though the villians are 'defeated'- (dead? arrested? simply unconscious?) Batman and Gordon are faced with a huge dillema. The film's theme of true heroism is amplified by the decison Gordon and Batman make in the ending, a decision held up by such beautiful dialouge that you're overcome with emotion while listening to the two character's deliver it. The decision Batman makes is amazingly sefless, and it tops off the entire thing. Nolan and his brother found the perfect way to capture the essense of Batman's character and to end the film, as the decision that is made sets up the sequel that I hope to all that is good Nolan returns for and ties up the theme of the film. As Batman goes on the run as an outlaw and Gordon destroys the Batsignal, I can't help but feel I'm watching some of the most perfectly done film I've ever been lucky enough to see.
It's unknown how the inevitable sequel will go- when a movie is this big of a success (Highest opening weekend gross ever, highest midnight gross, highest opening day gross, massive critical praise and Oscar-buss) a sequel will be made for better or worse, but hopefully better. What the Dark Knight achieves is beyond what I could have hoped for, as its everything I look for in a film. Its made for repeat viewings, and with the three times I've seen it gets better with each one. Its a crime if it doesn't get nominated for Best Picture, and with the Oscars shooting for popularity this year, there's a good chance. It truly is an amazing film, and you'll be blown away a number times. The Joker's final monolouge, the brutally intense climax and the brilliant final shot of Batman escaping while the theme plays and a scorching camera flares turn the character into a shadow, they all add to make a film that is huge, sprawling, and absolutely brilliant.
NOTE- This blog entry is not a movie review. I wrote this as one for my Myspace, and usually I would keep my blog here on AP reserved to movie reviews, but the subject matter of thsi deals with me being an absolute entertainment junkie and how the the movies/books/music I like relaly affect my life. Therefore, I thought it might do well here. I hope you enjoy it.
When I was a young boy of an age before one, I was introduced by two parents who love movies to just that, movies. I don't know what the first film I watched was, but I'd hazard a guess to say that it was a Disney movie. Sadly, I don't remember and neither does my mother, whom I have pestered almost daily for a few good years now for such information. The first movie I recall watching is The Lion King, and I recall it specifically and vividly. If, by some spot of a chance I do have kids, I will remember the exact date of when my child watches his/her first film. It will probably be in the first ten days of his/her life, shortly after arriving home from the hospital. If my child loves movies half as much as his/her father, I'll buy them a car and put them through college without a single complaint. If I have children I will raise them on the music I love and the books I love (that will have to wait till their later childhood, sadly). See, I was raised on movies, music, books and television. Not in a bad way, just in a house where entertainment, or art, as I like to think of it, is revered. I remember watching the Oscars before I was in kindergarten. Everyone in my household knows every episode of Friends. By the age of three, I was completely obsessed with Star Wars. I had all the toys, everything from action figures to the Millennium Falcon and most importantly, a lightsaber. Entertainment has always been enormously important in my life. I was always encouraged to read, enjoy art from an early age. I enjoy pretty much all forms of it, (except for modern art, which I don't really understand.) I have Thomas Cole's 'The Voyage of Life" paintings around my room, I own over two hundred records, tons of books and DVD's and I just can't get enough of the stuff. I have some musical talent, I love to write and hopefully since you're reading this you think I'm halfway decent at it, and I love film. I want to be a director one day pretty badly. I'm alright at acting, but I'd much rather direct. I come home and watch The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and hum the score by Ennio Morricone, who really was a genius and I work on my 'project' and play guitar while watching a movie. In short, the movies and the music and the books and the show I like are kind of enormous pillars that shape my life, because I wouldn't remember much of anything without them.
That's something worth mentioning, that I always kind of mean to mention- as you probably know, I have an affinity and a talent to remember dates in my head. There's a secret to this. It freaks a lot of people out- I can't describe how much I hate when someone says "that's creepy" to something that really isn't creepy at all. My God. Anyways. I remember dates from 3 years ago like they were yesterday, but that's the extent. For example, Fall Out Boy's From Under The Cork Tree came out on May 3rd, 2005, which, for someone reason I remember was the day the girl's soccer team of my 7th grade year had their last game on. On April 8th, 2006 Mark and Tyler and I saw Death Cab and on April 22nd, 2006, Matt and I saw Taking Back Sunday. On May 2nd, 2006, Thursday released A City By The Light Divided and it was a day full of a conversation that had some implications, mostly good ones. In June 2005 I was sick, and in love, and on July 18th a lot of that stuff got turned around, it was just after the release of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. On October 18th, 2005 I got the pair of jeans that I'm wearing right now, and I remember it because it was the day Vheissu came out. Do you see what I'm getting at here? I remember all these dates because obviously, something in my life happened on that date that makes me want to remember it, but the real reason I remember it, my shocking reveal- is that I remember the date so well because its right around, or on, the date of the release of some record or movie or book or some event centered in entertainment. I mean, right now, The Dark Knight, which comes out on July 18th, is completely owning my life. All the 'jokerized' pictures and the hype and discussing it with my friends, it will add up and I will remember it, I'll remember the midnight showing and the implications that it and all its fixings had on my life. August 24th, which continues to be one of the most important days of my life every year, I remember it so well because on August 23rd I was miserable but I was trying so damn hard to be happy. I had a girlfriend. I've been really in love with two girls in my whole short life, and I've been lucky enough to date them both. I'm still kind of flabbergasted at that one. But I remember getting up, calling her, dreading that tomorrow, a Wednesday, would be the first day of 8th grade, and going to Best Buy and buying the Jack's Mannequin record, Everything In Transit. I remember this so well because on the way home, thinking about my girlfriend and how permanently shitty my life had been and because of the record thinking that I actually, in fact, had a pretty good life, in the fact that my girlfriend was my best friend, and that I would turn myself around and be happy, by God. Sadly, the next day, I got dumped, but do you see!? I remember it. Its not like I have to get my heart broken to remember something, no. Everything In Transit and Transatlanticism went on in turn to literally save my life and get me out of a very dark time, and I'd remember that for all its worth, whether something big happened to make me remember or if I just remembered it. But the fact that I can go back and tell you what I was doing on May 20th, 2006- filming a well known movie with Mark and Matt- it says something. There are so many things I remember, individual nights where I've stared at the moon or the sky and individual conversations (lamb fur) and individual phone numbers that I haven't called in a few years. I remember everything, and its great. There are many things that I want to share, like what I did on November 18th, 2006 and on January 27th, 2007 and August 18th, 2007, but in remembering everything you remember that you like to try to be a good person and your life is weaved with a thousand others.
I do not need to list the individual bands that have had a huge influence on my life, but I will go through a few. The first few bands I really liked were Linkin Park and Yellowcard. Before listening to them, I listened to the Lord of The Rings soundtracks. That's all I can remember. It was during seventh grade that this started, my interest in art took off and I started remembering everything. You should now realize that the two are intimately linked. I bought a guitar and when through a very embarrassing but very polarizing angst-driven stage, like every teenager does. I'm glad I got mine out of the way early. Then I got into Blink-182, Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, and so on and so on- but during the summer of 2005, after my long trip that made me miss you and your voice and your phone that I still remember even though it hasn't been your phone number for two and a half years, I got into Death Cab and Jack's Mannequin. On August 11th, 2005 I bought Transatlanticism. Yes, I remember the exact date. It was also the first time I heard Jack's Mannequin. I went on to get dumped, get depressed, survive survive survive and then decide after listening to a lot of "Let's Get Fucked Up And Die" by Motion City Soundtrack I decided that I didn't want to survive anymore, and instead I wanted to be live. There was that whole "since I replaced the 'I' in live with an 'O' I can't remember who you areÖ" thing. From August 24th 2006 to April 8th 2006, I was miserable, but since then I have lived a happy life and I've been happy- and you know, furious and full of everything, but happy. Music is so incredibly important to me. I sing in the shower, I sing in the car, I love to sing, I love to play guitar and I love to play harmonica, absolutely, and the piano, and undoubtedly, I wouldn't be Jacob without the two hundred something records I own.
Next in line is books. This should go fast, because only two are really, really important. One, obviously, is Harry Potter. Oh, Harry Potter. It absolutely ran my life. I will always love those books. Out of the sixteen and a half years I've been alive, half of them have been kind of 'based' around Harry Potter, as those books taught me countless lessons and morals young boys and young children need to learn. Those books ruled my life. I have read each one except the seventh more than ten times, and I'll continue to, because my life just ain't my life without Harry Potter. The other book, you'll know this one. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. On the list of pieces of entertainment that really had an impact on my life, its tied at number one with those two aforementioned pieces of music. I came across this book on Thrice's website, because Thrice is a great band comprised of nerds who love to read. I couldn't find it in any stores, and I needed it- this was the height of me being absolutely miserable. I received it from Amazon on October 25th, 2005. It was a Tuesday. I stayed home and talked to a girl who was also staying home, and then I got this book in the mail. It took me a month to read, and I became a new person. it's the auto-biography of Dave Eggers, who's parents both die of cancer five weeks apart, resulting in him raising his 7 year old brother. I am using this as opportunity to shamelessly plug the book. It saved my life and changed my life, so you know, I owe it. I have now gone on to read that book ten times, soon to start my eleventh, and I've gotten some eleven other people to read it based off me talking about how marvelous it is. I get back to October 25th when reading it and back to November, 2005, back to that day on the beach and all the phone calls. I really, really do remember everything, and its all clarified by the art I love. The music, the books, the movies, especially this book, they help me to make sense of what I can't, they help me get through the stuff that I just don't understand.
I purposely saved movies for last. I have to many favorite movies. Lord of The Rings, Garden State, No Country For Old Men- they're all huge. I saw so many movies with my girlfriends (you know, separately.) I absolutely love movies. More than the average person. I'm a complete film nerd, to thinking about the type of lenses used in a shot to the lighting, the music, the cinematography, all that stuff. I have friends like Jessica who own hundreds of DVD's, who know enough great movie quotes to fill up a good book. I love watching movies, I really would rather watch a movie than go to a party, pretty much all the time. I get such a great feeling when watching a movie. The emotions, the thrills. I write film reviews that appear in AbsolutePunk.net's weekly entertainment roundup, I go to film news sites everyday, I know all about the Oscar hype being created each day by word of mouth and who's directing what and who's writing what, and I absolutely love it. I know tons of people who love this stuff as much as I do, thank goodness, who enjoy talking about Sergio Leone and Paul Thomas Anderson films, and that never gets old, just like movies never do. I saw Wall-e the other day. This is important. I love Pixar and Disney movies, I love Disney World, which has been mentioned subtly in this blog a number of times. I had looked forward to Wall-e for a year, and I absolutely loved it. I reviewed it on AP and gave it a 97%. It was one of the best movies I've ever seen. Maybe it was the recent events in my life, because, recently, I am still happy, but I miss you and you so much and that weighs on, but, I have to admit, Wall-e made me sob like a little girl. I get emotional during movies, sometimes teary, but oddly, the only movie that has ever made me actually cry before Wall-e was Castaway. On February 23rd, 2007, I watched for the first time in ages and when Chuck and Kelly kiss in the rain I just died. But Wall-e, a cartoon, was one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Like me, he's kind of lonely. I have a lot of friends, a lot of people to talk to at all times of the day, but we all get lonely, especially when we're single. So Wall-e hit me hard and I was not at all surprised to find myself dripping a tear onto the bottle of water I'd bought from home, hid in my pocket, because I'm to cheap to buy on at the theater. I get such a thrill out of everything that has to do with movies. Have you fucking seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? It's absolutely incredible. It's epic. The climactic, beautiful showdown at Sad Hill Cemetery- it makes me want to jump a horse and go to Mexico, the place at the center of the moon, el alcaran y el lobos. And Pulp Fiction. Jesus Christ. I have that whole bible monolouge memorized. The whole thing. Here- The path of the riteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the Valley of Darkess, for he is truly his brothers keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with gggreat vengeance and FURIOUS anger those who attempt to POISON, and DESTROY my brothers. And you will KNOW my name is THE LORD when I LAY MY VENAGEANCE UPON YOU. Fuck, that movie is amazing. That's what art is. Its someones creation, someones thoughts, and thats what I love doing. I mean, it took me 3 hours to type this. Why am I typing this? I want someone to read it and enjoy it, and because I can come back in many years and read it myelf. That's another reason. But art, art is a philosophical statement, at least it can be. Movies and music and books are art. I am writing a movie, I write anything else my pen spits out, and I have been writing music lately for the first time in a long time and I just fucking love creating something, something that I hope someone else will enjoy, and if they don't, I had a fun time creating it. Movies can change the world they're made in. A small indie movie witha budget of one million and a shitty distribution can go down as one of the most famous, best films ever made. If you have a good story to tell, someone is going to listen and if you tell it well ever more people will. I love to write and sing and make anything. When Mark and Matt and I made that movie in 8th grade, it was fucking great. It was popular. There was no script. I guess you could say I directed, wrote and acted in it, but what I really think it was is Mark and Matt and I putting a couple months of funny thoughts and idea into a a video camera lense and what came out on the other side, and my God, that was perfect. I have memorized the scripts and dialouge to all my favorite films and I can perform the Lord of The Rings trilogy as a one man act, Elfish and Black Speech and all and I can make you a shot by shot remake of Garden State because I love art and like I said, I love telling stories, I'll make you anything, if its worth making. There is a philisophical idea behind good art, behind good movies. Everything has an idea, the idea of this blog being the impact the things you enjoy have on your life, and everything uses its idea. Every great film starts off as an idea. When No Country For Old Men won best picture, I yelled "Fuck yeah!" and smiled for the next two hours. When Heath Ledger died I was devastated, because Brokeback Mountain is one of the best films ever made and if you think its strange that I, a heterosexual male enjoys that movie, go fuck yourself. Movies are everything to me. I can't pass geometry but I can talk about movies for hours on end. I can sing my the living shit out of my favorite songs and keeping up a steady narrative in this behemoth of a paragraph at 3:22 in the morning is no easy feat, let me tell you. I was once a narrow minded douchebag who didn't understand or attempt to understand anything. I liked one type of everything. Now I appreciate all the tricks that go into making a movie, all the influences such as folk and rock that go into music, and the soaring, blissful feeling that I get out movies, out of music and books and art, that someone has created something beautiful and beautiful is what it was meant to be.
The point of this is to express my love for art, music, television and film- I have so many good memories of going to shows with my friends, contemplating the latest mind-fuck Lost has thrown at me, and enjoying how art and all the things I love impact my life, because they really do. Its one huge combination. The movies and music and books I love all add and really kind of make me who I am, and make me remember everything, and I think its safe to say- in the movie of my life, there's a huge speaking cast, a story of love and life and growing up and growing old, a style of camera work that focuses on sharp hues and the speaking character's big, sad eyes, and the music would fit the hue, like on the sad, sorry day in November of 2005 where I listened to Something Corporate all day and you made me so happy, for the first time in months. The camera flare that would be used repeatedly in transition shots would start from the right corner of the screen and pan to the left, illuminating as it went and the character's would improve, the writing would be tightly wound but loose too, realistic but not materialized and the direction would encompass all the styles I love, subtle comedy and a lighthearted sadness and really, if my life was a movie it'd be a damn good one.
As Michael Crawford's 'Put On Your Sunday Clothes' plays over a montage of images of space that are so strikingly beautiful its hard to believe they're animation, so begins Wall-e, which is undoubtedly the best film made by anyone this year.
Pixar Animation Studios films started the computer animation boom with Toy Story in 1996. Nowadays many studios put out mediocre animated films far more often than they should, and its understandable if moviegoers are a little tired of the computer animation craze. PIxar, however, has never made a bad film. Certainly, some are better than others, but a bad Pixar movie is still good by all means. The key to a good Pixar film is a good story. At the heart of each film is a character working toward self-improvement. Their movies rightfully shell the genre tag of animation, and simply become good movies. When watching Wall-e, more so than ever will you forget that you're watching a kids movie, you'll forget that you're watching an animated movie, and his world will completely become your own.
The Earth that Wall-e inhabits is a grim one indeed. Skyscrapers of trash jut from the scorched desert surface of the Earth, and poor little Wall-e with his big, sad eyes works day after day to clean up the mess that humans have made. He doesn't understand his work. and he doesn't try to. After 700 years he is still a worker bee robot, but he has developed an adorable personality, which is why he's such a wonderful character. Like most Pixar films, its the little things that will really get you. Wall-e's 'house' is filled with trinkets and valuables he's collected over the centuries, everything from an iPod, a rubix cube, a cup full of spoons and forks, some of the toys from Toy Story, and a treausred VHS copy of Hello Dolly. With these small touches, its hard not to feel for Wall-e right from the beginning, and he lives his lonely life with his small friend the cockroach and carries a a lunchbox to 'work' everyday to store the things he finds interesting. There's really no other way to say it- as he looks at the stars and taps the play button on his chest, he's the most adorable, sad character that a film has created in recent memory. From the sad, drooppy look of his eyes to how much he shakes when he's scared, Wall-e is the best character Pixar has created, which is saying a lot, since he doesn't say anything.
With the arrival of Eve, the film delves into a wonderfully romantic love story, as Wall-e falls completely and utterly in love with Eve. Their relationship is incredible, as Wall-e is thrilled just to hear Eve say his name. When Eve accomplishes her directive- finding the last plant on Earth- she shuts down, and Wall-e is torn between love and heartbreak. The interactions between the robots are great, as well as the animatio. In fact, at all points, the film is completely beautiful. As Wall-e drags the inactive Eve around with a set of Christmas lights, you feel so much emotion for the little guy that its just hard to bear.
As Wall-e stows away on Eve's spaceship and makes his way to the Axiom just to be with her, the film takes off with flying colors. Humans have grown disgustingly fat in their everyday lifestyles that don't require them to leave their chairs, Its sad to watch, but as Wall-e and Eve struggle against the films main conflict, which I won't spoil here, everyone gets their due. From the miserable space captain that discovers a new world to the hilarious robots that run the ship, each character is delightful. The single complaint I have about the film is the use of live action for Fred Willard playing the CEO of Buy'N'Large, the conglomerate buisness that ran (and ruined) the Earth. It doesn't do anything wrong to the film, but seeing animation opposed to live action just opposes to much. Its such a minor complaint that it doesn't hold any wind, howver, as every other aspect of the film is perfect. The score by Thomas Newman is excellent, well as the animation. Combined with the story, the animation makes it a a truly gorgeous film. As Wall-e and Eve dance through space, I found myself with a lump in my throat and a few tears in my eyes. Wall-e is truly a hero, and with his sad eyes and extraordinary persona he becomes such a lovable character that you feel for him with every little thing he does. As the film progresses into more dramatic territory I was utterly blown away by the sheer genius and beauty of it. The story is heartwarmingly sad and even epic, as action and drama fill the film's third act. At more than one moment, I found myself crying. Its not uncommon for me to get teary during films, but the only thing that had made audibly cry before Wall-e was Castaway. The emotional impact that the love story hits you with is staggering, and this film will give you an exercise in emotion. You'll find yourself impossibly sad at the films climax and joyously happy with the ending. Its nearly about perfect, and is by a mile the best film Pixar has made to date.
It really is amazing what Andrew Stanton has achieved with Wall-e- a truly beautiful, heart-warming story of character who is willing to anything for the one he loves and doesn't care what it takes to earn it. Wall-e doesn't speak much, but by the end he and his story with Eve will have said far more than one can imagine. Wall-e is the most wondrous, emotional, beautiful film I've seen this year, and I'd even go as far as to say is simply one of the best I've ever seen. As much as Wall-e is willing to follow Eve to the end of the universe, you'll find yourself wanting to follow Wall-e along too.
Get Smart rolls along at a nice, comfortable pace, led by the gorgeous Anne Hathaway (who if you haevn't realized is a great actress yet, you're missing something) and Steve Carell. Steve Carell brings a bit of his Michael Scott character and dunce-worthy qualities into the role, though he does have a few more smarts. The film never tries to copy the spirit of the TV series, which is why is suceeds, mildly, at doing so- all the jokes like the cone of invisibility and the shoe phone hit their mark.
Director Peter Segal has assembled a great cast. from big supporters like Dwayne 'my-name-is-not-The-Rock' Johnson and Heroe's Masi Oka. Nearly every subtle, small joke by a supporting cast member will bring a few laughs, especially those courtesy of Alan Arkin as the chief.
What makes the film so effective is the sheer amount of jokes. There are no huge laughs, but plenty of the other kind. It will keep you laughing for just about the entirety of its comfortable running time, and even the action scenes don't disappoint. Many of the funniest jokes aer the smaller ones (Max's nightmares of being fat) and Segal uses so many types of jokes that its hard not to find something fun.
Get Smart is essentially another summer comedy, but its a fun one. Why critics simply don't like comedies unless their full of emotion too is beyond me, though it probably has something to do with the cursed The-oscars-hate-comedies trend. The Love Guru was deservingly fun panned, but Get Smart, while not perfect and rather ordinary, is a good trip to the movies.
I cannot think of a way to introduce this review. Their is almost nothing that appropriately fits. The only thing I possibly think to say is that this is one of the worst films I have ever seen.
Writer director M. Night Shyamalan, master of the twist, has certainly seen better days. In fact, its safe to say that everyone involved with this film has seen better days. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are two great films, two great thrillers that mixed horror with drama and ways most films just can't achieve. They were well written, great twists and all. The Village and Signs were not perfect, with dissapointing twists, because by God, M. Night films must have a twist. However, compared to The Happening, they might as well be hailed as classics. Lady In The Water was bad, a bedtime story, the least scary of M. Night's films. This, however, is a new level of scary, where you must watch you're favorite movie afterward and treasure the fact that it is not The Happening.
Mark Wahlberg is a great actor. Why on Earth he decided to come within 15 feet of this movie with a big stick is beyond me. His performances in The Departed and Boogie Nights are both excellent and memorable, and so is his performance as Elliot Moore. Like the rest of this film, its memorable because of how bad it is. Wahlberg's voice is two octaves higher than it should be, and Zooey Deschanel is no better. The camera angles are good, but this gem in the shit-pile is overshadowed by the absolutely horrible dialouge and cheap horror tricks loaded in to every scene. The film is not the slightest bit scary; the opening montage of people killing themslves is to bizzare to be scary, and if you see with the right crowd, can be pretty hilarious. The worst part about this movie is that it could have been good. M. Night could have redeemed himself, and it would have been wonderful to see. An apocalypse movie along the lines of War of The Worlds where confusion dominates the horror of the situation would have been great, but no. Instead we get Mark Wahlberg's boring monolouges on science. I can't even tell you that seeing this movie for a bad movie bad enough to laugh at is fun, because its really that bad. It has flares of interest in the old woman and the construction workers, but at the "Do you like hot dogs?" line, it gets to stupid to handle. Honestly, if people were really stupid enough to talk this way, I wouldn't blame the plants for wiping out humanity. It'd be natural selection at its finest.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading these qoutes more than I did seeing The Happening-
Qoute from member S/T-
"What really set the tone for all the laughter that was to ensue was in the very first scene when the people start walking backwards this guy in the theatre started going "NOOOBODY SAID IT WAS EASSYYYYY."
"You have plants in this building that are poisonous. You pick them because they look good, but these are aggressive living things who have no idea what century theyíre in and will defend themselves violently if necessary. This shit just got real, buddy."
As Marvel Studios flies along on the succes of Iron Man, its gearing up for some big things- putting together Iron Man 2 (which better have Jon Favreau on board for directing or I will not be a happy camper) and the Avengers film, along with the seemingly inevitable Spider-Man 4. The Incredible Hulk is at once a small piece of a bigger picture (The Avengers) and a try at rebooting a comic-book turned movie movie that didn't do so well the first time around (See, or better yet, don't see: Ang Lee's abyssmal 2003 Hulk).
Right off the bat, its pretty easy to tell that this is a much better film. A new director, Louis Leterrier, whose past credits include Transporter 2, a new cast, and a new feel. The script is intelligent, not to big on the science, but keeping enough of it there to not be a copout. In the same way Iron Man did, the film sets itself up for sequels to come, but more on that later.
The cast of the film is where it shines. Ed Norton is without a doubt one of the best working actors out there. He handles drama well with an intense purpose and also great at subtle comedy. I often find myself thinking he could played Chandler Bing on Friends better than Matthew Perry. He's great here, but his character is kind of bland, without to much good material- more on that later too. In one of the films best scenes, Bruce ends a sexual rendezvous with Betty early as his pulse climbs and he fears turning into the Hulk. Its tender, sadly funny, and excellent. William Hurt and Tim Roth round out the bad guys, with Hurt doing a much better job than Roth. His plot with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler, who's right up there with Gwyneth Paltrow as a great superhero girlfriend) allows for a few great scenes. Tim Roth is the bad-bad guy, as Blonsky, and later in the film, Abomination. He's sinister and does it well, but his character could use some much needed ferocity. He's be a lot cooler if he were a lot meaner. Abomination, on the other hand, is an absolute badass. The only cast member I'm really not a fan of is Tim Blake Nelson as a very talkative and annoying scientest who assists Bruce and Betty. He's simply annoying, but it'll be good to see him become The Leader in the next film. Look for the original Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) in a funny cameo as a security guard. He also does the tremendously deep voice of Mr. Hulk himself.
The problem with this film and what keeps it from being better than it is is the fact that its just to short. The characters aren't given enough time to expand, to really show some good depth and emotion. This could have easily been solved, and Marvel Studios is to blame. A very public rift between Norton and Leterrier and the studio over the final cut of the film came to surface a few weeks ago. Norton and Leterrier had a cut of the film ready that would have made it about thirty or forty minutes longer, and much more character driven. Its a shame we don't get to see this. The action is spectacular, especially the last fight- its intense in all the best ways- butt he film doesn't achieve the greatness it hints at. One can assume that had the studio not interfered, it would have. A director's cut DVD release is hopefully in the future.
With that said, its still a decent film. The action is great and it does a good job at hinting at a bigger picture. Stark Industries and Nick Fury's name both pop up multiple times, and the final scene has a great cameo by Tony Stark himself. I won't spoil it, but its a good one, though it would have been much better after the credits.
While not perfect, (and not as good as Iron Man) The Incredible Hulk is still a great summer superhero movie, and a great reboot of the franchise. Sequels are likely, and my opinion, more than welcome.
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull- 65%
Minor Spoiler Alert- If you haven't seen the film yet and intend to go in with a blank page, I advise you not to read ahead.
Its been nineteen years since the last Indiana Jones film was released, and since then I have grown to love the series to an adoring degree. As a child I swung around my swing set with a jump rope that served as my bullwhp and wore a fedora around my house- it was one of my first childhood obsessions. The original trilogy consists of three of the most entertaining films I've ever seen, and I feel obliged to say that the tilt and pre-meditated biase I had going into the theater shines all over this review. Had I despised this movi, I would have been devastated, and it would have been a chore to really dislike it.
With that said, it isn't perfect. Not by a long shot. Unfortunately Spielberg simply cannot satsify everyone with this film, but he does his best. Its a nostalgic walk down memory lane, from the 50's setting and warm camera hues to the similarity to other Indy films. Unfortunately, parts of the film have a bitter little resemblence to that other huge franchise reboot that George Lucas was behind a few years ago- you know, the horribly dissapointing trilogy that never should have been made- and its really fun to just blame it on Lucas. In one particularly horrible scene, the poster-boy of reasons why this movie is bad that gets thrown around in the entertainment section, Shia Labeouf finds himself stuck in a tree with some monkeys and becomes Tarzan, making a miraculous return to the action. Miraculous, and completely ridiculous. Its things like this that really weigh the film down. Indy surviving a nuclear blast in a refrigerator is funny, its semi-classic of his character, but its kind of the borderline between funny and no, just no.
The general consensus based around the films problems goes back to the script by David Koepp. The story is exciting, its got Russians, chase sccenes, critters, ancient mythology, wit, action, and a pretty shallow plot. The crystal skull is the plot device all the action is based around, obviously- its the ark, the stones, the grail. It kind of looks like a plexisglass gravy boat stuffed with saran wrap, but you get past that. It lookes decent enough. But it says something about the film, that its rather shallow plot center fills up a pretty shallow plot. A huge gripe I have with the film is that if Indy died in the first twenty minutes, the Russians would still meet the same fate they do, and they probably would have had a harder time doing it. Many of the special effects have a Star Wars sheen about them, taking away the realism of the film. For example, the giant ants are cool, but seeing them devour a body looks horribly fake.Other grips include the fact that Indy doesn't fire a gun the entire movie, uses his bullwhip a sad few amount of times, and its especially crushing to learn that the beloved Marcus Brody and Henry Jones Sr. have both died in the 19 year gap between films. It just adds to the films sense of nostalgia, despite their deaths actually being pretty plausible, and makes it have a layer of dust that Indy just can't wipe off.
But, I digress. It would be so easy to pick the film apart piece by piece and say that it would have been better to leave us with Indy and his beloved friends riding off into the sunset at the end of Crusade, but I can't bring myself to do it. Many fans will hate this films existence- our own Jason Tate has already expressed a pretty reasonable dissapointment- but as much as those complaints above bother me, I just can't hate it. From the moment the Lucasfilm logo appears, you're in for a great ride. Harrison Ford is fantastic in his role, and surprisingly Shia Labeouf isn't annoying at all, and in fact, the chemistry between he and Ford is one of the best aspects of the film. Karen Allen does a great job, and I don't really know where she's been since Sandlot and Raiders. John Hurt is great, speaking with that raspy, dry voice that grabs your interest and begs for a lyrical line. His character is particularly fun, as he's completely crazy and it fits his look and voice perfectly. The cast is rounded out by Ray Winstone as Indy's companion archaelogist- be careful, I didn't understand a lot of his lines- and Cate Blanchet. Oh wow, Cate Blanchett. Her spotless face just glows. She's not the best Indy villian, but she just radiates greed and power. The films action largely features her to a great degree, and quite frankly, its great to see every character get to do a little bit of ass kicking, with Indy and Mutt taking center stage. Minus a few ridiculous stunts, the jungle chase scene is a fantastic bit of action.
Its not perfect, and scoring it is a hard job- I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it has plenty of afformentioned problems, so a score of 65% is fueled by my love for the series and that it really is an overall good film. From the moment Indy is first seen and John William's famous theme kicks in, I can't help but love the film. The alien subplot is slightly strange, but not at all out of place- it fits in perfectly with the Cold War era space craze, the sense you get while waiting in line for Space Mountain at Disney World. Crystal Skull brings back one of the most beloved fracnchises of film history with great results, results that yes, are slightly dissapointing and not all perfect, but nearly impossible not to like. It ranks as the third best of the series, in front of Temple of Doom but far behind Raiders and Last Crusade. If you're a fan of the trilogy, try to not hate it and you'll probably get the same thrill out of it I did. The door is left wide open for a sequel, and personally I hope to see it. The character can never get old, its just the things around him can.
Now that the summer movie season of blockbusters and big budget films is fully underway with the first big success, Iron Man, and the first spectacular failure, Speed Racer, its a good time to look ahead to the fall, and subsequently, award season. To be nominated and to win awards, a film must simply be released in the year being awarded. However, there's always been an 'Oscar Season'- the fall, when studios roll out the big award magnets. Considering that all five of last year's Best Picture Nominees were released between October and December, its no surprise that nearly every weekend this coming fall is already booked. I've decided to compile a preview of films I think will be attracting awards attention come autumn. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few, so feel to free add any others in that you think will be in the race. This will be updated as we go.
Appaloosa- Ed Harris (also directing), Viggo Mortenson, Renee Zelwegger, Jeremy Irons. Release- TBA, Fall 2008
The cast should be enough to make this film a good one; seeing Viggo play a cowboy has great potential. The plot is a pretty simple Western- two friends are hired to protect a town from a lawless local rancher, and it gets more complicated when Zelwegger's widow arrives. Considering the resurgence of good Western's last year, it'll be great to see how this film performs.
Milk- Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin Directed by Gus Van Sant Release- Late November
This biopic of the late Harvey Milk, the first gay elected official in America, will attract lots of attention for a few reasons. For one, its the first 'gay' movie since Brokeback Mountain, and it doesn't pull it punches- in one scene, Franco, who plays Milk's lover Scott Smith, and Penn as Milk have make-up shower sex. The cast couldn't be better and its about time Gus Van Sant (Goodwill Hunting, Born of The Fourth of July) did a film that doesn't involve teenagers and violence. This film especially has awards written all over it.
Burn After Reading- John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Richard Jenkins Directed by the Coen Brothers Release- September
The Coen Brothers finally got their long deserved Oscar for last year's No Country For Old Men, and fresh off the success of that film they return with a new one. I'm lucky enough to have read the script for this one, and I can say without a doubt that its excellent, a classic Coen-esque tale of a simple action escalating into something with enormous, and usually sinister consequences. Ozzie Cox (Malkovich) writes some scathing memoirs about his job at the CIA after getting fired for being an alchoholic. As he and his wife (Swinton) go through a divorce, she steals the memoirs only to leave them at her gym, where two scheming trainers (Pitt and McDormand) find them and decide to blackmail Cox. When Harry Pfaffer (Clooney) gets involved as a CIA agent in on the situation on a professional level and a personal level, it gets all the more sinister and all the more interesting. Its not as heavy as No Country, being a very funny black comedy more along the lines of Fargo, but its also the most dramatic thriller/comedy the Coens have done. Its a fantastic script and seeing it on film should be even better.
Blindness- Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore Directed by Fernando Meirelles Release- September 12th
It's a pretty simple, and cool concept- Julianne Moore as The Doctor's Wife (apparently none of the character's have actual names?) wakes up one day to find she's the only person in society that hasn't gone blind. Fernando Meirelles is a fantastic filmmaker, having done great films such as City of God and The Constant Gardener. The concept allows for the film to be extremely interesting, especially if it sticks to the novel.
Australia- Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham Directed by Baz Luhrmann Release- November 14th
Baz Lurhmann has done some pretty weird films (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!), none of which I've been a big fan of, but this sounds excellent. During World War II, Kidman inherits a cattle ranch near Darwin. As the Japanese draw closer, Hugh Jackman as a rugged outback cowboy agrees to help her drive them across the continent. Hearing it desscribed as an 'epic' makes it all the more interesting. At least its not a musical.
The Road- Viggo Mortenson, Charlize Theron, Guy Pierce, Kodi Smit-McPhee Directed by John Hillcoat Release- November 26th
With last year's No Country For Old Men and Ridley Scott's Blood Meridian coming next year, Cormac McCarthy adaptions are the place to be. The author's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Road is an absolutely heartbreaking story of a father and son drifting through the post apocalyptic world, barely surviving, and it will probably be all the more tragic on film. Director John Hillcoat proved himself a skilled filmmaker with the excellent Australian outback film The Proposition and his gritty style should fit this perfectly. Perhaps Viggoa will wrangle his second Best Actor nomination this year with this and Appaloosa.
Revolutionary Road-Kate Winslett, Leonardo Dicaprio Directed by Sam Mendes Release- December 19th
Sam Mende's had a runaway success with his first film, American Beauty, and still his best. He's made two other excellent films, Road to Perdition and Jarhead, thought they've both been less succesful, and in the case of Jarhead, extremely overlooked. Here he returns back to the vibe of American Beauty. Winslett and Dicaprio play a suburbanite couple in the 50's whose marriage starts to fray from the pressures of everyday life. Considering that the two share 8 previous Oscar nominations, this film has a good looking future.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button- Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton Directed by David Fincher Release- December 19th
There are so many good things to say about this film that I'm bound to forget a few. David Fincher is an absolutely genius. His last two collaborations with Brad Pitt, Se7en and Fight Club, have both been fantastic films, and his last movie, Zodiac, was left criminally underrated and let out of the Oscar, mostly due to its ill-fated March release date. This film, however, won't be easily ignored. With 3 big actors starring and a script by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich) about a man born as a feeble old man who ages backwards through his life, David Fincher is fianlly going to get the credit he deserves, hopefully in the same way Paul Thomas Anderson did last year. Having read the script, I can say that its a lot like Forrest Gump, though much darker, and its a safe prediction to say its going to be one of the best films of the year.
W (Dubya)- Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks Directed by Oliver Stone Release- October
This film, yet to begin shooting, is aleady causing a huge amount of controversy. It's likely to, a- make Bush and the Republican party look like idiots, b- be released while Bush is still in office, and c- attract huge amounts of attention even if its atrocious. I certainly hope it doesn't ruin the career of Josh Brolin, but I have to admit- he looks great as Bush, as he can be seen in this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly. Its sure to get lots of buzz, whether good or bad. And its definitely a bit to soon.
The Chnageling- Angelina Jolie, Amy Ryan, John Malkovich Directed by Clint Eastwood Release- Fall
Clint Eastwood's newest film is a 1920's period piece of some pretty heavy proportions. When a woman's (Jolie) son is kidnapped, she claims he is not her son upon his return. I don't know much other than that, but I'm guessing it will be similar to Million Dollar Baby as a gritty American film with a strong leading lady. Eastwood hasn't won an Oscar in awhile, he's gearing for it.
Robert Downey Jr.'s sauve, witty and 3/4 of an asshole demeanor works perfectly in Iron Man, setting up his character's change to be believable and realistic as well as establishing the mood of the movie. Its funny, its got great action, and all the in between.
As far as superhero movies go, its hard to decide whether the reboot craze is on a downward slope with Spider-Man and X-Men both done and both with dissapointing conclusions, or if the best is yet to come the Dark Knight. Either way, Iron Man has renewed my faith in superhero movies. Its easily on par with the first Spider-Man or Batman Begins. Its an origin story with nothing very original in its script, but its never boring or uninteresting. RDJ is hilarious throughout, doing some of his best work. He plays Stark with a wide eyed stare mixed with the Paul Avery dry wit from Zodiac. He handles the drama well, and he always infuses a bit of humor into everything. Some of the funniest parts of the film come from his various successes or failures in his lab while perfecting the suit, and some of the darkest come when he's all by himself. He handles the film with great ease all the way through.
The cast is rounded out by Jeff Bridges as the villianous Obadiah Stane, and he does a great job- everything from his bald head to his voice is slightly fatherly, slightly creepy. Gwyneth Paltrow is charming as Pepper Potts as usual- in one of the films best scenes, she performs a bothced and bizzare medical procedure on Stark that shows Favreau's excellent direction while also flexing John August's writing muscles. The only cast member I wasn't a big fan of was Terrence Howard as Jeff Rhodes. He doesn't get much to do, but he gives his lines with a weak, hoarse voice that didn't fit him at all.
The movie is sparse with action, but when its there its the best kind. One gripe I have is the music- there is no soaring Iron Man theme except that of the guitar everyone knows so well, but as good as the film is and the sequels we can hope to see, you can let that slide. And make sure you stay after the credits.
With The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow and his A+ comedic troupe proved their worth. A short few years after, Knocked Up and Superbad came along and proved that Apatow and his gang were, at least in my opinion, the funniest people in Hollywood. This could have been realized a lot earlier if Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks hadn't been cancelled, but now that Apatow and all his actor's are out in full, they keep getting better.
Jason Segel, an Undeclared vet, had a small role in Knocked Up and otherwise been absent from Apatow's big comedies of recent. Here, he proves that he could give Seth Rogen a run for his money. He's absolutely hilarious, in a pathetic, miserable way. Some of the film's funniest scenes come from Segel's Peter Bretter crying hysterically. By now you've almost certainly heard that Segel whips it to out, and the result is hilarious. The only way you'll miss the gregarious male nudity is if you blink 6 times, so you're in for a treat.
Nicholas Stoller, yet another Undeclared alumni, has assembled fantastic cast, from Paul Rudd to Jonah Hill to Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock. Even if its just a pretty extierior shot on a beach, he does a great job handling that script that Segel wrote. If you've recently been through a breakup, you're going to absolutely love this movie. Like Knocked Up and Superbad, it deals with real life issues, while being hilarious at the same time. Its got a mature, serious side that shows in some of the film's best scenes, particularly an awkward sexual reunion.
The best part of the film is how it plays out, because it genuinely does forget Sarah Marshall. Peter sadly (and hysterically) tells his brother, played by Bill Hader to great effect, his hopes of eventually getting back together with Sarah, something that the audience knows just won't happen. In the end, the script pays off pretty realistically. After the horribly dissapointing Drillbit Taylor and the mediocre Walk Hard, its great to see an Apatow production with some heart. Oh, and if they show the Pineapple Express trailer in front of the film, it will be even better.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is hilarious and witty. Segel is wonderfully pathetic and Kirsten Bell, as nice as she is, is the enemy here- its a theme we all know and one that the film deals with to fantastic result.
Smart People is a film that, from its get go, doesn't really know what its going for. The commercials and trailers all show it off like a hilarious indie-comedy, along the lines of Juno or Sideways, especially the latter, seeing as Smart People stars Thomas Hayden Church and bought over Michael London, producer of Sideways. Add in Dennis Quaid as a strugglig widowed father and a failed author- you know, a little bit like Miles- and you have a pretty unoriginal indie dramedy.
Smart People is indeed funny, but only sparingly so. Its not at all the laugh out loud gem the commercials indicate. The funniest scenes are between Ellen Page and Thomas Hayden Church, and the script doesn't give them a lot of time together. Ellen Page is kind of just doing the exact same thing she did in Juno- being the annoyingly sassy, smart-ass teen girl. However, she does it in a much less annoying manner here. Her dialouge isn't that brand that you either love or hate of Diablo Cody's, and her character gets much less to do, her biggest parts being a smart alleck and being a sullen teenager. Please don't get yourself type-cast, Ellen.
Dennis Quaid does a great job with his role as Lawrence Wetherhold., kind of-again- remind the viewer of Miles in Sideways. He's tired, he's old, and he looks pretty awful. He gets walked on by Thomas Hayden Church as his adopted brother, who's equally as good in his role, and we watched as he struggles to get out from under the people in his life keeping him down and fails spectacularly. When Sarah Jessica Parker comes into the play as a love interest for Lawrence, the film suffers as the character's stories get more and more spread out. SJP does fine in her role, though she isn't easy to look at.
One of the films high points is the music, which makes it a little less boring. There are a few very dry laughs to be had, but its kind of like watching a funny movie that feels like it doesn't need to make jokes, and since the film's running time is only 93 minutes, this is a problem. It ends abruptly, the characters making very illogical decisions, and it really hurts the film. When the characters reach their most interesting depths, the film is over. Its not a bad movie, I quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately, in the end, you've seen it before, and it was probably better done.