February 2007 Archives

'Trouble Every Day': Blood! Blood!I have no problem
choosing films of morbid love
from our Netflix queue.

Trouble Every Day
on the recommendation
of The House Next Door.

A film of few words,
buzzing with a quiet dread,
demands haiku squared.

Brevity is the soul of wit, that motherfucker Shakespeare once wrote, and even though he’s wrong, I’ll keep this short.

RogerEbert.com editor Jim Emerson has created the Contrarianism Blog-a-thon. (He chooses to capitalize the last “T” for some reason; I shall not.)

Emerson’s get-together is fun enough, but it doesn’t provide much practical guidance. Being contrary these days is hard work. In this Web-democratized age when every possible opinion already has its champion, how the hell can one be a contrarian? On the other hand, how can one not be a contrarian? After all, whatever you think, you’re fighting against all those who have a different perspective.

I will enlighten you on how to be a conventional contrarian.

Do you see what I see? Shauna Macdonald and friends in 'The Descent'Neil Marshall’s The Descent approaches being a perfect terror movie. And because terror is unique to cinema among art forms — it doesn’t translate well to the page because the narrative has to slow down for the reader, and it doesn’t translate at all to any other medium — The Descent approaches being a perfect movie, period. (Commentary track features Culture Snob and Bride of Culture Snob.)

Does this hurricane make me look fat? Al Gore in 'An Inconvenient Truth'In Davis Guggenheim’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a high-angle shot of George W. Bush is followed by a shot of Al Gore looking down out of an airplane window. The juxtaposition delivers a subtle but forceful message: Al Gore is God, gazing in harsh judgment on this Republican president.

You might quibble with my decision to focus on these two, seemingly throwaway images when the movie itself is dominated by Gore’s lecture on global warming. But this shot pairing is symptomatic; An Inconvenient Truth pretends to be about global warming, but it’s mostly a vanity project, a propaganda film supporting the future candidacy (or canonization) of Al Gore. This is a political document masquerading as altruism, an attempt to position the former vice president at the forefront of the environmental issue in spite of the Clinton-Gore administration’s mixed record. And it’s working.

2007 will be the year of reading.

Having read exactly zero books from cover to cover in 2006, I decided that I would read two books a month this year.

I am a slow reader. I will choose short books.

Lindsay Lohan and Garrison Keillor in 'A Prairie Home Companion'It’s not hard to figure out why Robert Altman was the center of attention with last summer’s A Prairie Home Companion — even though we didn’t know at the time of its release that it would be his final movie.

Long before his honorary Oscar in March 2006, Altman was cool — a stubborn, renegade filmmaker whose biggest head-scratcher (Popeye) has somehow been transformed into an indicator of his unconventional greatness. His death in November merely gave Altman permanent ownership of A Prairie Home Companion, concerned as it is with passing, and the proper way to commemorate something that is gone.

But another reason that Altman was the focus — beyond film culture’s oftentimes-ridiculous bias toward directors — was that the alternative would be to talk about quaint, old-fashioned, uncool-even-by-public-radio-standards Garrison Keillor, who wrote the script.

'Kissed': Is that rigor mortis or are you just happy to see me?To slake your thirst for Culture Snob poetry, as well as the interactive, I have crafted multiple options for haiku based on Lynne Stopkewich’s 1996 movie Kissed.

If you’ve never seen it or heard of it, I think you’ll get the gist pretty quickly. And if you’re a little rusty on the specifications of haiku, it’s a line of five syllables followed by a line of seven syllables and then another line of five.

Please offer finished poems — or more line alternatives — in the comments.

Close