Saturday, July 28, 2007


So how’s your summer? Yeah, me too. Everything seems to be one disappointment after another. It’s not
that I’m headed into what Robert Crumb calls “The Dreaded Depths of Despair”, but I sure could use a pick-me-up.

The news doesn’t help. After the Anna Nicole “tragedy” and Paris’ jail time, it’s all bimbos, all the time, isn’t it? If I were a religious man, I’d think it really was the End of Days. Don’t believe me? Turn on the nightly news. There they are: Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie AKA The Four Whores of the Apocalypse. Now they’re trying to force feed the Beckhams down our throats. When will this freak show ever end? Well, when we deem it so. Dennis Miller on his radio talk show has proposed public shunning of this nabobs and blights on society. When they appear, we all turn our backs and pretend that they don’t exist. This can’t be reflected in the marketplace as well. Don’t go to a Lindsay Lohan movie. Don’t watch The Simple Life. Don’t buy US or In Touch or The National Enquirer. Make it stand. It’s makes us all look bad. Guilt by association.

But hey, then there’s the new national scumbag, NFL player Michael Vick accused of illegal dogfighting. Everybody it out for this guy’s blood…even Al Sharpton. You know what that means, don’t you? It’s okay to hate a black man! Really! No, Reverend Al said so! There will be no reprisals. Not so fast there, Mr. Imus…

I guess one of the things that are really bugging me is that for the first time, someone actually guessed my age correctly. Oh and added a year besides. Tool. I thought that was why I was so lackadaisical about the current movie scene. I’ve stayed away from the three-peats of Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. I’ve also avoided The Transformers due to lack of interest. Have I finally outgrown my geekhood? Is it time to put childish things away?

Nuh-uh. If that was true, why do I venture out to see the movies I have this summer, namely the anime Paprika and the delirious Russian vampire extravaganza Day Watch? In your face, poseurs! Both of these, by the way, are as Jerry Lewis might say, “Mahvelous.’

This past year, I caught to speed on two masters of animation, both Japanese. The first, Hayao Miyazaki, is the Academy Award winning creator of Spirited Away and I have had the extreme pleasure of watching his entire catalog including Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro. But I also discovered Japan’s other genius, a little less known in this country next to Miyazaki. Satoshi Kon’s fertile imagination and technique has placed him in the forefront of emerging filmmakers and I would stack his work along any other director today. After watching the incredible saga, Millennium Actress on DVD, I found to my delight that Kon’s latest, the science fiction tale Paprika was due this summer. Paprika involves the collision of technology and dreams, pretty much of a metaphor of good versus evil. It jabs pointed sticks in the cutey-pie nature of Japanese consumerism (Hello Kitty anyone?) scoring satirical bullseyes left and right. Kon’s work is more adult oriented than Miyazaki’s, but together they make the current crop American CGI work (with the exception of Pixar) pale in comparison.

As for Day Watch, this the second installment of a proposed trilogy that began with Night Watch a couple of years ago. It is weird, wild stuff, with a sense of wonder and fun lacking in the last two installments of The Matrix. This has the best scene of anything I’ve seen this year, that being a crazed female vampire racing a sports car on the side of a high rise building. Impossible? Sure. Too much CGI? You betcha. More fun than a barrel full of Bolsheviks? On the money, honey. It doesn’t make a helluva lotta sense, but if you just go with the flow, you’ll find these Russkies sure make a terrific night at the multi-plex. Sign me up for part three.

Oh and by the by. Pan’s Labyrinth was my birthday movie this year. See. I’m still a geek at heart.

But I’m a geek with taste.
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