Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Great Transit Strike of '05

The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing, and now the transit workers are striking.  So it looks like YT will remain in CT until the picket lines pack up and the strike restores the dignity of labor.  I spent a few minutes this morning thinking about the situation and I suppose I support the MTA workers – if they can squeeze a very nice raise and benefits package out of the city of New York, maybe they will inspire other unions across the country to demand better treatment for their members, which will in turn encourage more workers to join unions, which could make an impact on American poverty, the healthcare system, illegal immigrant labor, getting more Democrats elected, etc.  Perhaps this is hopelessly na├»ve.  I know that Kurt Vonnegut and all of his Eugene Debs loving protagonists would be proud.  I guess I’ll just wait for the Fox News report (“Union communists rape Christmas”) so I can make up my mind from the unbiased, bare facts.

Now, some reviews!

SYRIANA
A pretty, pretty, pretty good movie.  In it, a great number of fine actors romp around and grow moustaches and generally confuse the hell out of the audience for most of the movie.  Amanda Peet is notable for being the only girl and reprising her role from Saving Silverman (Jack Black doesn’t make it) as Matt Affleck’s wife.  Jeffrey Wright, of Angels in America fame, plays a lawyer who has one of the above moustaches and does not really care all that much about the truth, justice, etc., preferring fine cufflinks and talking very fast and quietly.  George Clooney is supposed to be fat but isn’t.  The guy who plays Prince Nasir looks a little like a much more handsome version of actual Prince, and basically swans around being handsome and progressive and wearing wonderful white suits.  I can’t reveal any plot details except that the oil industry ends up looking like a bit of a bad egg.  Go see it if you want to understand why America is cutting the throat of the Middle East, Europe, America, and the Middle East.

AEON FLUX
Also pretty good, not as good as Syriana.  Charlize Theron looks and sounds a lot like Aeon from the cartoons, which is impressive, also she is like a goddam battleship and is nine feet tall.  All their futuristic clothing is amazing (the costumers wisely decided not to go with Aeon’s trademark bondage gear), as are the sets which look like they were designed by a coke-addled Zaha Hadid.  Lots of delightful touches from the cartoon make it in (not enough, and mostly towards the less-bizarre end of the spectrum), and Trevor Goodchild is engaging and has great hair, though he’s not blonde in this version.  Unfortunately, Goodchild engages a little too well; he’s for sure a good guy, whereas in the cartoon he was pretty morally ambiguous (or, actually, just a megalomaniacal villain) which make his relationship with Aeon more complex and interesting.  I know that it’s irresponsibly dorky to keep comparing the movie and the cartoon - the movie is quite entertaining and visually sumptuous on its own, but it’s definitely worth seeing both versions.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Some Reviews

Mike Kelly, “Day is Done”
At the Gagosian Gallery

Well, ol’ Mike Kelly’s arts are pretty big here. I imagine that a lot of people will compare “Day is Done” to a haunted house, and they’re right, it’s kind of like a haunted house. Kelly takes photographs from yearbooks from the 80s, blows them up, then re-stages them with his friends. He is also obsessed with goths, so many of the pictures are of 80s vampires and assorted morbidities. The pictures encircle a frenzied mixed media installation which involves some pretty hilarious video pieces (mopey 80s vampire working at what looks like a real estate agent's office, pasty-faced ghoul stumbling through a bush) and amusing works of sculpture, many based on poorly-designed high school stage sets. It got to be sensory overload about a third of the way through (also, the gallery does not boast a bathroom), but it’s probably worth a trip some time real soon, before it closes. Bring your own grease pencil so you can circle the differences between the pictures!

Issue Project Room, on the lovely Gowanus

I went to an experimental fiction reading here. All the pieces were pretty good, but the space was especially interesting. Issue Project Room is a converted silo, staffed by extremely rude hipsters, on the Gowanus canal. It features an enormous wrought-iron gate before which guests are invited to stand for an hour or so while the hipsters ignore them (S. Grant and I happened to arrive at the same time as one of the readers, who was LIVID and had been waiting for a long time in very cold weather – the hipster who unlocked the gate barely apologized, so you can imagine how they treat the normal guests). It also features a robust $10 cover charge and a delightfully unprofessional, under stocked bar that offers beer (wait, actually no beer) and wine for the same low prices found at Le Cirque. The reading space is upstairs in the silo next door - readers are allowed to use an interior staircase, the public is invited to go outside. The actual space is quite lovely, a huge round room with what looks like a nice a/v setup and a fine upright piano, and the rest of the building looks like it would be an amazing place to live and write, say, postfeminist fiction in which the heroine is named “Cervix.” Hear me, O Internet, and strike down the hubris of these hipsters! Let them realize that their rad hangout would be more rad if they knew how to act!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

More like Harry Potter and the New Russian. For me and E. Hastings, Victor Krum absolutely made this movie (actually, I thought it was the most skillful and least boring of the movies – although the rumors you hear that it is impenetrable to those who haven’t read the book are extremely true). Try watching the movie and imagining that whenever he is not onscreen, Krum is in a disco wearing a transparent vinyl shirt, hijacking cigarette trucks, beating people to death with tire irons, drinking tea while holding sugar in his mouth, playing dominoes with a guy who is wearing one of those shirts that lacw at the collar, etc. His touching gift to Hermione as he returns to Durmstrang for the summer? An eightball and a $100 bill.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Return to the Pumpkin Truck

Courtesy of the inimitable Andrew Porter:
A News Story About Creed
In all fairness it is not actually about Creed, my favorite band, since Creed broke up, but it is about the violent antics of soulful frontman Scott Stapp. It is easier for a fully-laden pumkin truck to pass through the eye of a needle than for a wrathful man to get into heaven, SCOTT.