16 November 2006

Review: Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain

After watching Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain tonight, I had to remind myself that the whole is a sum of its parts. Remind yourself of that simple fact if you choose to see this film. Take in the elements of cinematography, story line, and music selection on whole. In this way, The Fountain turns into an event on film, instead of a movie.

The mundane reason I throw this disclaimer in is that The Fountain weaves three different story lines into its broadcloth storyline. Extending over 1000 years, these three tales tell the story of what lengths a man will go to save the life of the woman he loves. The characters and current of this theme runs through: a conquistador looking for the fountain of youth, a present day doctor searching for a cure for cancer, and a bald bubble boy traveling in space with a tree. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play the two pure strand lovers caught up in their own tragic circumstances.

(Spolier: Those of you that thought that The Notebook was the greatest romance since Gone With the Wind: Don’t leave the house because you thought The Fountain was going to be another Kate and Leopold. You will want to smash something in a million pieces if you last to the end of the movie.)

That’s what the surface story of the Fountain brings to the screen. What lies under the overlapping, time jumping tales is the visual symbolism and external references that Aronofsky brings to the screen. I admit it; I’m a sucker for looking for the clues to a film’s deeper meaning by this means. That’s why I’m drawn to Aronofsky’s films. PI is a primary example of what a film for an analytical mind can be. The Fountain runs a close second.

So be prepared to use some grey matter while viewing. (I’m also assuming that this is why The Fountain was booed at Venice Film Festival this year. Gray matter takes a hike in Italy at times, or so I hear) Things like a hospital room number 620 will then take some meaning. What could one extract from this? It could be a reference to Genesis 6:20 that reads “Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.” This fits with the goals Jackman’s present day character. Or it could be numerological in reference? Six divided by two is three. Three has mystical import to many religions. Or it could be that the set designer’s birthday was on June 20th. But that’s the fun of a movie like this.

The viewer actively becomes part of the film’s goals and solutions. Aronofsky does not cut any slack to the viewers in this regard. There are no long pauses and close ups on images that should have meaning. You get the rare chance to make of this film what you will, in any fashion you like. I truly hope this was Aronofsky’s goal.

Unfortunately, this is why it is likely to flop at the box office. The majority of people that see The Fountain will hate it. That’s a true shame. I say cast your vote for a film that reinforces to Hollywood that Americans are capable of independent thought. Maybe the big wigs will green light more films of this nature then. This is really funny coming from the guy that gave a thumbs up review on the Tenacious D movie.


Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Blogs of Men? Google Knows

I understand that I write a modest blog that fosters around 130 unique visitors a month. Ok, so I’m not setting any internet records with Random Stuff, but I enjoy writing it. Some of you actually dig reading the mishmash of reviews and life tales I present. So it goes.

This past weekend I was amazed at the number of hits I was getting on my review of Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The number of hits I got on this article was 5 to 6 times the normal rate in which my blog is visited. Great, this means that I can infect a larger group of people with my peculiar quirks and ramblings. Wondering why this was such an anomalie, I turned to Blog Patrol.

For those of you who haven’t noticed, Blog Patrol supports the counter I use on this blog and on my other blog Grail Seekers. It is a free service that not only tracks unique users that visit your blog, but other interesting Orwellian internet info. The service tracks: IP address of visitors, screen resolutions, operating systems, refers, times of the day your blog is visited, and key words used to find your blog in cyberland. It’s scary when you think of the information that is available from a free site. Think about what the folks that pay for your information can find out.

I could quickly see that the reason I was getting hits on my review. All of the refers were from Google searches. Doing a quick search on “Pick of Destiny Review”, I found that I was the second site listed for this phrase. Wow. My review was second only to the Rolling Stone’s review in Google land. Above IMDB, Movie Fone, Rotten Tomatoes, and Variety, sat Random Stuff. Someone on the information superhighway must like my work.

The hits kept rolling in until Monday, when they magically stopped. Thinking I had dropped down on the second page, I ran my search again. The drop in my key word stock was so great that it would have made Black Thursday look like a bump in the road. I grew weary of clicking on “next” after filtering through the first 25 pages without a mention of Random Stuff.

What gives? Did I hack someone off at Google over the weekend and they axed my listing? Was some long lost girlfriend working for Google and this was her last bit of revenge? I did some research into how Google ranks its searches. Turning to the masters themselves, the Google Geeks claim it’s a pigeon pecking system that picks its key word relevance ranking.

Of course this tongue and cheek gag is covering up the super secret algorithm that has made Google the number one search engine in the universe. Blah, they guard the secrets with their lives… Blah, blah, the Google compound is the coolest place in the world to work and is guarded by a sphinx resurrected from DNA found in Tut’s tomb. Blah bligity blah, they use blind-mute coders that work on independent strands to the code to insure it never gets out. Whatever urban legend you’ve heard, it’s probably not far from the truth. My original thesis of this article was that big web business didn’t like me one upping them on the search engine and made a call to Google to set things straight. Let me stress this was my thesis.

Now here’s the part that makes me want to pony up to Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory and hug a teddy bear holding a 9mm close when I sleep. I started writing this blog on Tuesday. Everything up to today, Thursday, was accurate. Today when I did a Google search on “Pick of Destiny Review” my listing is number 5 on the first page. What the frack is going on?

Now I’m beginning to think that Google has been employed by the CIA – Klingon alliance to screw with my head. Did Google know I was writing this article and was afraid I would discredit them? Or is this just some cyber fluke? I’m calling Art Bell tonight to find out.

12 November 2006

Iron Man, Iron Man; Wherefore Art Thou Iron Man?

I called my astrologer/fish monger yesterday to check out how the stars were aligning for me in the next few weeks. He told me that since Uranus was in the 4th house of Gamma Epsilon Three, it was an advantageous time for me to do the following: Stock up on Gefilte Fish, visit IHOP late at night, and blog on comic related movies. I am a slave to the stars.

For those of you not in the know, Jon Favreau (Who was so money in Swingers) has gotten the go ahead to direct an Iron Man movie. The scuttlebutt is that Robert Downy Jr. will play Tony Stark. Ironic choice, since Tony Stark also had a substance abuse problem. Hopefully, Downy can stay out of jail long enough to start filming.

On Favreau’s My Space blog the following was posted:

“Iron Man will indeed be my next movie. Marvel is distributing it through Paramount which, for those of you playing at home, is also the studio that is developing John Carter of Mars. That project is still a huge priority for me and I am still very much attached to it both as a director and producer.

Iron Man is the first Marvel production under its new distribution arrangement. My hope is that this will be reflected in the quality of the movie. Their films are self-financed and, as a result, don't have to run the typical creative gauntlet of studio development. What Marvel says, goes.

As far as specifics, it will be set in the present and, as you would probably expect, includes a version of the origin story.

I have set up a MySpace discussion group. I will post new info there as things come together. The internet is full of faulty info. I wanted to have at least one place where the facts would be correct.”

Exciting times for those that live in our parent’s basement. I’m also intrigued by the John Carter of Mars reference. This Edgar Rice Burroughs character has had a few brushes with being brought to the big screen in recent years. Hopefully more to come…


10 November 2006

Watchmen Movie is a Go??

Being a self proclaimed geek, I would be remiss if I did not blog about something comic book related. I realize this is a shocker to most of you, however it must be done. One of my favorite pieces of comic fiction is the Watchmen series.

For those of you not as familiar with the geek universe, Alan Moore’s Watchmen is set an alternate 1985 universe. In this world: Richard Nixon is still president, the world is on the brink of nuclear war, and costume heroes have been outlawed. We’re not talking all powerful superheroes, the costume heroes in this universe were ordinary folks who took up their mantel to stave off common evils. Now, someone is killing them off.

The strength of the story lies in that the heroes are as ordinary as you or I. (The notable exception being Dr. Manhattan) The glory days of being a hero have been taken away from them by politicians. Wasting away in the day to day lives that we all lead, these once proud defenders of humanity are mechanics and housewives. When called upon to solve the murders of their compatriots, the costume heroes not only have the chance to save the world but to reclaim their former status. The most powerful sentiment in the tale is an age old quandary, what price is too much to pay for saving humanity from itself?

Sound familiar? Watchmen is arguably one of the most influential works in comic history. One has to go no further than The Incredibles to see the homages plastered all over the story line. And you though when you took your kids to the Incredibles, it was a fun original work…

Now after years of internet rumors, it looks like Watchmen will finally get a movie adaptation. Sci Fi channel’s web site has reported that Zach Snyder will direct the film. Snyder has currently directed the adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300 about the Battle of Thermopylae. (Check out the trailer on the 300’s web site) Other rumors swirling around about the Watchmen’s cast include: John Cusack as Night Owl, Sigourney Weaver as the Silk Spectre, and Daniel Craig as Rorschach. The rumor I’m waiting for is Dennis Farina as the Comedian.

At this point, I’m still not holding my breath. Those who have been waiting for a Watchmen movie have had to endure years of cruel rumors. Some of those include Darren Aronofsky directing the project, Watchmen being turned into a Cop Rock like musical, and the licensing being so jacked up a Watchmen movie would never see the light of day. (For a full list of ancient rumors check out this Wiki article.)

Stay tuned, cross your fingers, and buy a copy of Watchmen for your girlfriend in Canada.


08 November 2006

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

I have never made any qualms about being the world’s oldest 12 year-old. This is a role I have come to relish and the people in my life have come to expect of me. My mind is wired to play Xbox games on my days off, laugh at my own flatulence, and shirk responsibilities whenever possible. I have irrational fears of clowns, Burl Ives, and commitment. It’s who I am and it’s what I do best.

With this in mind, let me tell you the tale of the greatest movie of all time, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny. Jack Black and Kyle Gass reprise their roles as the greatest rockers of all time. The plot is that of an ABC After School Special gone terribly wrong: boy leaves home, boy meets his rock master, boy and master form a band, the duo seeks out a guitar pick made from Satan’s tooth, and along the way they learn the lesson of true friendship.

If you’re familiar at all with any of Tenacious D’s music or skits, none of this movie will be a surprise to you. It almost serves as a framework drawing the colorful Tenacious D mythos together. The only thing that is missing for the true fan is a reprise of Wonderboy and Tribute. (However, one will have a much clearer understanding of Tribute by the end of the film) Making up for this slight oversight are performances from: Tim Robbins as a very creepy pick seeker, Meatloaf as Jack’s dad, Ronnie James Dio, and Ben Stiller playing the helpful guitar store employee.

For those of you, who are going to see this because your heart was warmed by Shallow Hal and Nacho Libre , stay at home. This film is course from minute one. Explicit profanity, drug references, and fart jokes will make the touchy-feely crowd leave in the first five minutes. Then again who needed them any way?

If you are of the mindset to find this type of over the top, potty humor knee slapping funny, pay full price. The Pick of Destiny is as guilty a pleasure as Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. You won’t want to admit to anyone at work you were anything other than appalled at the humor, but secretly you’ll wonder what the DVD extras will be.

Speaking of extras, check out the movie’s web site at the link above. There are tons of juvenile distractions to suck up your already crowed work day. Find out what messages are hidden with in the freckles on your bottom. Or pop in a tape on the Dark Lord’s VCR, which I’m sure is in Beta. Finally my favorite, overhaul a website in the Tenacious D way. I was amazed at how Random Stuff turned out.


06 November 2006

Don't Forget Toys for Tots

With the impending Holiday Season upon up, take some time to remember the Toys for Tots program. Budget yourself to buy an extra toy for some needy child. If after that your altruism runs over, remember to pick up an Xbox 360 for your favorite blogger...

05 November 2006

3AM and Cracklin' Rosie

Sometimes you get up at 3am and keep hearing Neil Diamond singing Cracklin' Rosie in your head... And no, I have not been drinking. I'm hoping the lyrics are enough of a train wreck that you will read them and have that "store bought woman" wafting on through your mind for the rest of the day...

Cracklin rosie, get on board
Were gonna ride till there aint no more to go
Taking it slow
Lord, dont you know
Have made me a time with a poor mans lady

Hitchin on a twilight train
Aint nothing here that I care to take along
Maybe a song
To sing when I want
Dont need to say please to no man for a happy tune

Oh, I love my rosie child
You got the way to make me happy
You and me, we go in style
Cracklin rose, youre a store bought woman
You make me sing like a guitar hummin
So hang on to me, girl
Our song keeps runnin on

Play it now
Play it now, my baby

Cracklin rosie, make me a smile
Girl if it lasts for an hour, thats all right
We got all night
To set the world right
Find us a dream that dont ask no questions, yeah

Oh, I love my rosie child
You got the way to make me happy
You and me, we go in style
Cracklin rose, youre a store-bought woman
You make me sing like a guitar hummin
So hang on to me, girl
Our song keeps runnin on

Play it now
Play it now
Play it now, my baby

Cracklin rosie, make me a smile
Girl if it lasts for an hour, thats all right
We got all night
To set the world right
Find us a dream that dont ask no question, yeah

04 November 2006

The Holly Jolly Countdown Begins

On Thursday night, I caught a sneak preview of The Escape Clause, the latest Tim Allen Santa movie with my 5-year-old. (I would suggest heavy medication or a pint of rum before watching if you're thinking about taking your child. This might make the Toolman Taylor and Ed Grimley moderately funny) While sitting through this generation's It's a Wonderful Life, I realized I was in peril of hearing Holly Jolly Christmas for the first time this year. For all of you that aren't familiar with my aversion to this particular Christmas tune, I would suggest checking out the archive for last November blogs.

How long can I last this year? Well I've included this handy timer to help keep track of how much time I have to dodge Burl Ives.