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Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker
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Saturday, December 07, 2002

Adaptation sounds glorious -- if it's watchable at all
Is Adaptation self-indulgent? Undoubtedly. That, in part, is its subject. To the degree that it's a movie about the writing process, and the writer's dilemma -- caught between analytical detachment on the one hand and obsessive overidentification with one's characters on the other -- I'm not sure that anyone other than working writers will care much. But it's hard to imagine audiences not warming to this willfully convoluted movie's broader themes: love, longing, incompleteness, envy, family, and the desire to find comfort and structure in a comfortless, structureless world. In the end, Orlean discovers her life's true passion, and so -- following an insight that properly belongs in one of the less reputable self-help manuals, but manages to come off as brave and quixotic -- does Charlie.

6:09 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Chairs missing?

Amy Taubin misses the old Robert Wilson

I wouldn't know, didn't get to much performance work like this (except for Twyla Tharp, and Laurie Anderson's United States I-IV). But I've always been fascinated by Wilson since I heard about Einstein on the Beach (because Glass did the score I guess) back in the 70s. I'm sure any of his work would be perception-altering and stimulating, unless the deliberateness made you fidgety.
This Woyzeck is visually elegant and mean as spit. It depicts a world no one would want to live in and leaves you with the sinking suspicion that perhaps we all do.

It's the sheer nastiness of the production that makes it such a disturbing contrast to the work that Wilson did during the first decade of his career. My memory of those spectacles -- The King of Spain (1969), The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud (1969), Deafman Glance (1970-71), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973), and Einstein on the Beach (1976) -- is of their overwhelming tenderness and their slightly scary, dreamlike quality.

Wilson found what was potentially arresting in each of his performers, many of whom were nonprofessionals. There was Sheryl Sutton, the Medea figure of the four-hour-long Deafman Glance, standing impossibly erect in her high-necked black Victorian dress and moving in slow motion as she took a knife to her children. There was Cynthia Lubar, screaming in what sounded like a half-dozen voices at once in Letter for Queen Victoria. There was Andy de Groat, spinning like a Sufi -- so fast that he turned into a blur of white light. There was Wilson himself doing a kind of spastic dance in which every joint of his body seemed to move independently or leading a chorus of 60 dancing mammies in doo-rags and blackface, all of them hovering at the far side of the stage as if they knew they barely had to show themselves to make an impact.
Wilson's last 3 works (The Black Rider, Alice and the current Woyzeck) have all been collaborations with Tom Waits. Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets also had William Burroughs' text and Woyzeck Waits' wife Kathleen Brennan's text.

I'd particularly like to see Black Rider because of the collaborators and the "story".

Shit, now I'm looking through his site and I want to just fall into this until I "get" it.

This always happens.

5:17 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, December 06, 2002

Liquid Audio dissolves

2:14 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Toyota, Honda deliver first zero-emission hydrogen cars

1:07 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, December 05, 2002

UK novelist Wendy Perriam -- nominated an unprecedented 3 times -- finally wins "Bad Sex in Fiction" award

2:45 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

National Board of Review names '02 winners

The Hours, Adaptation, Philip Noyce (The Quiet American, Rabbit-Proof Fence), Far From Heaven, Roger Dodger among winners.

2:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice tinted Landsat images

The large size versions are a long download.

2:33 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

I remember reading about the "thunder fridge" a while back: scientists backed by Ben & Jerry develop sonic fridge to eliminate freon dependency

It's may also be more reliable because it has fewer moving parts.

The sound level within the pressurized gas chamber is 173 decibels -- loud enough to make your hair catch fire.

2:12 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Sterritt caveats prospective Solaris viewers
Strong echoes of both Tarkovsky and Kubrick surge through Soderbergh's movie, which breaks every rule of Hollywood filmmaking except the one of choosing a major star - handsome George Clooney - to play the leading role.

Its mood is slow, quiet, and dreamlike. This gives it a persistently offbeat tone even when it takes on familiar sci-fi themes, including the question of whether synthetic humans are as "real" as the people they're patterned on.


None of this will comfort Clooney fans who want to see him run the usual gamut of movie-star maneuvers.

It doesn't help that Twentieth Century Fox is promoting the picture as a regular space opera, with James Cameron's name in huge letters (the "Titanic" mogul was one of its producers) and ads that make it look like a steamy love story, to boot.

The film's real appeal won't be to Clooney fans or adventure buffs, but to moviegoers who enjoy thinking about compelling questions with no easy answers.
More for people who've seen Tarkovsky's version and/or read the Stanislaw Lem book, than people looking for the usual attention-deficit Hollywood fare.

Metacritic summaries here.

The chemistry between the leads leaves something to be desired I hear. And making a film like this work as what it is, requires a visionary.

I'm not sure Soderbergh -- good filmmaker that he is -- is a visionary.

But I'll watch it on tape anyway, since Lem's story is one of the those few metaphysically wise works that I treasure.

10:35 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Still time to sign up for a web-side seat to African eclipse totality later tonight

Cost ya $9.95, but you get extras: movie download, wallpapers, hi-rez stills, etc.

Next one: 2030.

9:50 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Interesting ranch in Utah stumps paranormal researchers
There's a strange 480 acre ranch in Utah, purchased in 1996 by the National Institute for Discovery Science, where hundreds of witnesses, over several decades, have seen UFOs, balls of light, animal mutilations, poltergeist events and Bigfoot-like creatures since the 1950s.

3:35 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

TCM is running a retrospective of Ealing Studios this month

If you haven't seen the classic Alec Guinness comedies they produced in the 40s-50s, do so this month.

The Ladykillers (with Peter Sellers)

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Not as sublime but still worth seeing:

The Man in the White Suit

The Lavender Hill Mob

4:16 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Bravo to run "Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'" on Wednesday

3:04 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

You can now pick up or return books, CDs and DVDs you buy at amazon at Borders

2:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, December 02, 2002

Funny blurb on the new Crichton novel, Prey
Now, I could be really mean and point out that lines such as "I read confusion on her face" and "I left the room, feeling odd" have no business being in any book, even a manifestly commercial genre novel, but Crichton is not an author to be evaluated on the poetry of his sentences, nor should the genre be evaluated thusly. And while there's no genuine feeling evidenced anywhere in Prey, we knew that already, too: Crichton does emotion like Al Gore does emotion. He's a terrible writer, but we do learn a lot about algorithms and systems here. And how many novels can you say that about?

4:13 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Guardian uncovers evidence the FBI extensively surveilled Graham Greene (The Quiet American)

If you're not familiar with the fellow, he was a prominent English author (the Vatican tried to get him to change the character of a priest in The Power and the Glory) who worked under double agent Kim Philby of MI6 in the 40s.

12:46 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Universities desperately try to plug holes in crumbling dam holding back student file-sharers

I'm sure you've heard about the RIAA stealing the PCs of 100 cadets at the Naval Academy last week. Most schools are "not emulating" Annapolis, but trying other methods, which KaZaa & co -- and resourceful downloaders -- immmediately find ways around.

It does seem that they're starting to get the message that there are better things to do with their money and time than chase music lovers.

4:20 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice pics of Etna volcano's eruption, effects [Undernews]

Unless you live in the way.

4:06 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Trio channel is premiering their "Brilliant, But Cancelled" series of critically lauded but doomed TV series this month

The list is pared down from 150, but I wish "Maximum Bob" (which like "United States" featured Beau Bridges) was in the bunch. Can't even remember all the series that looked good and got trashcanned over the years.

I would like to get the complete "Family Guy" and "The Oblongs" on tape or disc, as well as "Daria."

Hopefully this idea will catch on. There sure as hell isn't much to watch these days. And TV is due to get the "Rock N Roll Hall of Fame" canonization treatment, now that the medium as we know it is pretty much over. In terms of audience and cultural wattage anyway.

And I wish I got the damn channel.
Here's the Not-Exactly-A-Hit Parade of nine such series hidden from sight since their original airings - with some never-before-seen episodes part of the mix (for days and times, check the Web site for Trio, a popular-arts channel that reaches 17 million viewers):

- "Ernie Kovacs Show" (Originally aired Dec. 1952-April 1953 on CBS; six episodes to be re-aired). TV's most avant-garde comedian to this day, Kovacs recognized no limits to the technical limitations of the young medium as he frolicked in his "hallucinatory world" of visual wit.

- "East Side/West Side" (Sept. 1963-Sept. 1964 on CBS; 10 episodes). Violating "every sacred tenet for television success" (a critic raved at its premiere), this gritty, filmed-on-location drama starred George C. Scott as a New York social worker, with Cicely Tyson in the first recurring role for a black woman on a dramatic series.

- "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (Sept. 1974-Aug. 1975 on ABC; six episodes). Two decades before "The X-Files," whose creator credits it as an influence, this eerie drama starred Darren McGavin as a crime reporter who keeps tripping over the bizarre and supernatural.

- "United States" (March-April 1980 on NBC; five episodes). This uncommonly smart comedy about married life starred Beau Bridges and Helen Shaver, and was created by Larry Gelbart ("M-A-S-H").

- "The Famous Teddy Z" (Sept. 1989-May 1990 on CBS; 13 episodes). This too-close-to-the-bone comedy starred Jon Cryer as a mailroom worker who becomes a top Hollywood agent overnight.

- "Profit" (April 1996 on Fox; eight episodes). Adrian Pasdar starred as a ruthless young executive in this chilling yet sometimes chillingly funny drama, which had the misfortune to arrive a few years before companies like Enron would prepare the public for its premise: There are no depths to which big business won't sink.

- "Gun" (April-May 1997 on ABC; six episodes). An anthology series created and produced by Robert Altman, it has only one recurring player: a pearl-handled pistol that falls into the possession of each week's set of characters.

- "Now and Again" (Sept. 1999-May 2000 on CBS; 10 episodes). This endearingly odd sci-fi-romance-suspense-drama starred Eric Close as a $3 billion genetically engineered man who is being tested by the government - but misses his flesh-and-blood family at home.

- "Action" (Sept.-Dec. 1999 on Fox; 13 episodes). A corrosively funny look at Hollywood filmmaking, it starred Jay Mohr as an insufferably ambitious producer and Ileana Douglas as his child-star-turned-hooker-turned-studio-VP.

2:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Adaptation looks intriguing

I liked Being John Malkovich, but not as much as a lot of people. This could be a lot better.

1:52 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Welles' Touch of Evil -- the Murchified "Director's Cut" it appears -- is on TCM this Wednesday evening

Still haven't gotten the book of interviews between Murch and Michael Ondaatje I mentioned a while back. Here's some links to other articles and interviews with this underexposed and brilliant artist.

I've seen this film so many times, but it gets better with age. Remarkably contemporary, and raw even now. One of the best noirs.

1:35 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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