Now that 2012 is in the books here’s a look back at my most viewed posts 2012 edition. Thanks to each and every one of you who read my blog!
Shortly after LCD Soundsystem played its sold-out Madison Square Garden retirement party last April, I wrote a lengthy piece about what they meant to me as recording artists and a live act. In a nutshell, I believe they were my generation’s defining act.
So when I went to Hollywood Theater Thursday night to watch “Shut Up And Play The Hits”, the concert film/documentary about LCD Soundsystem and its frontman James Murphy, I entered with high expectations – especially high because the idea of watching a concert documentary generally would not be high on my list of things to do.
And while I left the theater wishing I had been at LCD Soundsystem’s final show, not to mention begrudging the lucky bastards who saw it live, I felt conflicted about the film I had just seen. Yes, I enjoyed the live footage (no surprise) but the loose documentary surrounding it, particularly the bloated and pretentious interview stylings of journalist Chuck Klosterman, I could have done without.
That’s a roundabout way of saying maybe I should have waited for the release of the nearly four-hour Madison Square Garden concert on DVD.
WARNING: Spoilers below. You should see the movie before reading unless, that is, you love my writing so much you can’t help yourself. If that’s the case then feel free to spoil your dinner.
Let me just get this out of the way: I still don’t follow the auruchs, the icebergs collapsing, or any of the fantasia elements that happen in Beasts of the Southern Wild. I know they offer a parallel to what’s happening in the Bathtub and in the life of young Hushpuppy. My friend Rob did a great job explaining these parallels in the comments section after my first post about the movie, and I encourage you to read his thoughts.
On my second viewing of Beasts of the Southern Wild, much like my first, I found myself largely uninterested in the deeper meanings of the mythical elements at play. This time though they didn’t dampen my affection for the film. I focused exclusively on what I adored about the film – Hushpuppy’s complex relationship with her father, the lush south Louisiana landscape, the joy the characters project, etc. – and put aside my previous concerns. Also important: The sky-high expectations I had the first time I saw the film were more realistic this time around.
It hit me while watching Beasts of the Southern Wild for the second time in five days that I will need to see it a third time, and possibly even a fourth or fifth time, while it’s in the theaters. It is my culture, my people, my bayous depicted on that screen. Thus, I am deeply moved and filled with a sense of pride that is hard to explain to people not born in the Bathtub. So revelatory was my second viewing of Beasts of the Southern Wild that I considered seeing it a second time Friday night, but abandoned the idea because the day’s first viewing overwhelmed me.
WARNING: Spoilers below. If you haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild you probably should wait to watch the movie before reading this.
As I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, I swelled with pride at the sight of my south Louisiana homeland and its residents portrayed on the silver screen in an accurate manner – perhaps outgunned by Mother Nature and other manmade forces but resilient and awash with joie de vivre to the bitter end.
I also marveled at the realization I had never seen anything like Beasts of the Southern Wild inside a movie theater, or a home theater, for that matter. Not only did it portray bayou people in a responsible fashion, instead of bumbling buffoons with cartoonish accents, but it starred a young black girl as a heroine and focused on the underwritten dynamic of a single black father “raising” his daughter. I used quotation marks around the word raising because at times it appeared Hushpuppy was the one raising her dad.
Eventually on-screen events snapped me out of my proud stupor. Specifically, images of glaciers breaking off into the sea set off alarms in my head. I heard prior to seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild that it had a global warming tie-in but did not know to what extent. Well, it’s hard to miss. The point director Benh Zeitlin tried to get across – global warming is destroying the Bathtub – failed to resonate with me. That’s being too kind. It felt wrong and slanted and hit with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the head.
Louisiana’s coast started eroding well before global warming became a political hot potato. Yes, I realize the idea that global warming has been the driving force behind erosion provides the film its zeitgeist appeal but it’s an appeal that is rooted in falsehood. Gradually disappearing barrier islands don’t make for a sexy film, I realize., but the heavy-handed global warming associations served as unwelcome distractions.
Zeitlin and crew got a lot right, though. It should also be noted my expectations for this movie were in the clouds. Therefore, if it reads like I am overly critical of this film it’s because I wanted this movie to be every bit as good as film critics declared it, and then some.
Pieces of it were.
Minutes after the Twittersphere erupted with news of Tom Cruise’s divorce from Katie Holmes jokes about his sexuality began. To be fair, the chatter about his sexuality never went away during their marriage, as The Family Guy gif above shows. Even with the birth of their clone baby, his couch-jumping weirdness on Oprah, and a host of public appearances made to highlight that the TomKat love affair was indeed real … well, it never quite seemed real.
Cruise’s sexual identity should not matter. Except it does. He is one of the world’s highest paid actors, and as such, the average red-blooded American male – the kind who sees his action movies in droves – demands he love and sleep with women. Admitting he was gay would likely negatively impact his box office draw in the bigoted Bible Belt, yes, but it would also inspire many young gays to be who they are without shame. In this way he could be a pioneer, of sorts.
Cruise is not going to do this because : 1) he values his box office draw and his status as one of the world’s leading movie stars and 2) Scientology, his chosen religion, looks down on homosexuality. Maybe Cruise, 49, is not gay. Maybe he has been the subject of nasty rumors that have muddied his sexuality to the masses. If so that is unfortunate. But not as unfortunate as if he has chosen to hide in the closet to collect $20 million paydays.
Wes Anderson’s latest indie dramedy “Moonrise Kingdom” had all his trademark bits: a well-to-do family in shambles, Bill Murray, Bill Murray in shambles, people in uniforms, a crate-digging soundtrack. I enjoyed it as much or more than the typical Anderson film, which is to say I enjoyed it a great deal. Still, I was a tad surprised when the people around me clapped at movie’s end.
My senior high school English teacher Chris “Grem” Gremillion taught me to moisturize, love Cyndi Lauper, and be wickedly inappropriate (i.e., I wish I could recall his Aaliyah jokes). He also taught me to NEVER clap at the end of a movie.
In my attempt to improve my ratio of good Terrebonne (La.) stories to bad Terrebonne (La.) stories, this morning I am sharing the trailer of Beasts of the Southern Wild. In case you missed it, Friday I called for Terrebonne’s sheriff to resign.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is my most highly anticipated film. Not just because it was shot in Terrebonne, a bayou parish where I once lived, but because of the fairy tale sense of wonder the trailer showcases. The visuals look dreamy and the bayou scenery feels like home. And little 6-year-old Quvenzhane Willis, from what I gather, is a force to be reckoned with.
In an ideal world IMDb bios would be eligible for Pulitzers and I would have a vote. Using said vote I would nominate Jon C. Hopwood’s Kim Kardashian smackdown for the inaugural “This Shit’s Amazing!” Pulitzer. So what such a category doesn’t exist! This bio feels like a significant achievement in online writing to me.
What sets Hopwood’s Kardashian mini-bio apart is how gloriously jarring it is relative to other IMDb bios (i.e., puff pieces). Hopwood writes with an indignant flair. His words had me hooting and howling on the inside. I couldn’t laugh on the outside. I would have had to explain to my coworkers why I was reading Kim Kardashian’s IMDb bio at work, and that would have been awkward.
Kim Kardashian is emblematic of the shallowness of American culture in the first two decades of the new millennium. While some cultural critics call her the prime avatar of the “famous for being famous” faux celebrity crowd, she along with Paris Hilton is a new breed of cat whose celebrity comes from the release of a sex tape and the canny exploitation of the resulting publicity. Like her good friend Miss Hilton (their relationship predates Kim’s “celebrity”, Kardashian is possessed of photogenic good looks but is short of any other discernible talents outside of the bedroom. Both expanded their celebrity by becoming reality TV “stars”.
NOTE: Search Engine Terms are words or phrases people used to discover Cajun Tomato goodness.
WARNING: This review features potential spoilers, not to mention countless blasphemies against the sacred talents of director Terrence Malick.
NOTES: This film is rated PG-13. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain star. Director Terrence Malick has helmed movies such as Badlands and The Thin Red Line.
On his way back from the IMAX presentation on the birth of the cosmos and the death of the dinosaurs, reclusive director Terrence Malick drove his rickety ’52 Ford truck down a dirt path deep in the heart of Texas and discovered a god-fearing family under the thumb of an angry father. Satisfied with his find, Malick teleported back to present day NYC, a metropolis dressed in vanity as tall as its skyscapers, and observed a brooding man, still clinging to his childhood in Texas, amid all the sin and degradation of the modern age.
Sounds disjointed, right? Doesn’t make sense? Ok, I confess: This is not the genesis of how Malick developed the storyline, if it can be called that, for his fifth full-length feature, “The Tree of Life.” Though if it had been, it would have made more sense than much of what appeared on the screen.
Countless reviewers have cited Malick’s ambition in their reviews of “The Tree of Life,” as if ambition alone is a sweet-smelling aroma capable of seducing moviegoers into buying into surging hype. Sure, few directors would create a film that gazes at the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and attempts to make sense of it. I get that, but attempting such a film and pulling it off are light years apart.