Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday, Late May

I have to make the decision to watch either 'Shortbus' or 'Jules and Jim' tonight. Shortbus, and I'm not a homophobe, features a man singing into another man's asshole. The Star-Spangled Banner, if I remember correctly. Jules and Jim has subtitles. Such is the American mind. But it was directed by Francois Truffaut, who also did the 400 Blows. I could have sworn I'd seen some of his other movies, but it turns out those were all Godards. Speaking of Godard, I saw Band of Outsiders a few weeks ago, and I find it irritating that he culls so many plot points and characters from the pulp fiction and crime novels circulating around France in those days. The three main characters a misogynistic Parisian twit, his pussy best friend, and a naive waif who is talked into robbing the manor in which she resides by the twit and his pussy friend. None of the characters were likable. It seems that the twit and his friend worship American culture, particularly gangster movies. Maybe I'm just irritated because this film is referenced by the obnoxious dreamers in Bertolucci's 2001 (or is it 2?) movie of the same name, and those fuckers have a drag-out argument over who was funnier, Keaton or Chaplin.

I also saw Noah Baumbach's 'Kicking and Screaming' the other day. It's of the mid-90s Gen-X movie genre, but its dialog is much, much better than the Reality Bites and Singles of the day. It's also uneven, basically plotless and sports its fair share of poor acting. Maybe I'm too enthralled with the dialog to focus on the actors who spout it. The main character is a writer, but he barely talks or behaves like one (believe me, there is a type). His trust-fund-rich friend, who has a drinking problem, lives in a house bought by his parents, hates people, talks shit to the mirror, says embarrassing things like "I'm nostalgic for a conversation I had yesterday" and fucks a seventeen year old should have been the writer. But Josh Hamilton is okay enough as the writer, I guess. His girlfriend leaves for Prague at the outset of the movie, and he spends that semester after graduation alternately pining for her and trying to forget her. Flashback scenes of too-precious conversation between them are dispersed throughout the movie.
It's not a great movie and maybe not even a particularly good one, but I enjoyed it. Certainly, it has much more to say than any of the gross-out comedies common since American Pie, but that isn't really saying a whole lot.

I read an article in Salon today about the new creationist-with-a-lower-case-c museum in Kentucky. I paid a visit to their website, which suggests that there must be a conspiracy behind evolution since so many of its adherents identify themselves as atheists. Another trouble, it seems is that many of them signed the humanist manifesto. I love the scientific integrity of these creationists: "They [dinosaurs and humans] all had to exist at the same time because they were all made on the same day. There may not be any fossil evidence showing dinosaurs and people in the same place at the same time. But it is clearly written that they were alive at the same time." Clearly, it is written. They also have Eve tempting Adam with something other than an apple, because, "We're not sure what kind of fruit it was, but we do know it wasn't an apple." Maybe I don't give creationists enough credit for their intellectualism.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wednesday, Late May

I got the latest Oxford American today. It's a film-themed issue. Right off the bat, the Oxford's guest editor, Derek Jenkins, reminded me why archetypal southern writing and its braggarts piss me off so:

"Twenty-four frames per second might seem out of pace with the South, but we boast more than our fair share of film lovers. We just go about it in a different way - less systematic but just as passionate, casual but engaged. It's more a tendency than an obsession, a custom we picked up on muggy Sunday afternoons and Saturday nights when there was nothing much else going on."

I'm gonna start my own lit mag, and it's gonna be midwestern-themed. It'll be called Fuck You, South, and Your Esoteric Fucking Self Regard For Your Exaggerated Differences From We Who Saved The Union All Those Many Years Ago And Pay For It With Your Whimsical Writers and Editorialists Who Seem To Think All Of Those Born North of Louisville Are Stuffy-Shirted Snobs; I Have Some Tidbits For You, South, And Their Names Are Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Dreiser And Bumpfucking-Thousand Other True American Writers Who Aren't From The South. Just Because We Don't Drink Julips, South, Doesn't Mean We Don't Like To Kick Back With A Stiff One And Write Up Some Fucking Existential Despair and Familial And Religious Discord.


It's not that I don't love Faulkner, O'Connor, et al. It's that Southern writers' adherents are the Yankees fans of the literary world without the benefit of any measurable rubric for their sense of superiority. It's a self-fetishizing culture from top to bottom: from literature to Nascar and Civil War Revisionism.

Let's take the above paragraph and alter it to a Midwestern sensibility:

Thirty-Five millimeters might not mean anything to that Skokie native who knows Star Wars by heart but couldn't tell you a thing about The Seven Samurai or any other of the seemingly thousands of films from which George Lucas cribbed liberally, but that doesn't stop that Skokie native, let's call him Bob McLocalEthnicPopulace, from enjoying hundreds of hours of silver screen brain-candy a year. We Midwesterners may not know film's technical terms like we know the engines of our Ford/Chevy pick-ups, but we know what we like: Anything that will take us out of the monotony of our corporate farmwork, corporate law firms, or corporate colleges. Our movie-going is a way of dealing. We don't know the difference between Tobey McGuire or Peter Parker because we're so simple, but we know he's the guy to root for.

- See what a presumptuous asshole that makes me sound like?