Category Archives: Movies

Rewatching Iron Man

Some notes:

I’m glad that Terrance Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle. Although it does sort of drive me nuts when a film series replaces actors/actresses. I wonder when we’ll get a deep fake version of the film that swaps out Howard’s face for Cheadle’s.

Tony Stark/Iron Man has really experienced so much growth over the course of the MCU. In this film he starts off as a womanizer, gambler, etc. He’s a totally different person by Infinity War.

The Jericho Missile System reminds me of some of the missile technology that Iron Man shoots from his hands.

I love the Mad Money cameo — seems so apropos for 2008.

One of my favorite things about comic book movies in general is casting really great actors as villains. The MCU kicks this off in Iron Man with Jeff Bridges playing Obadiah and continues throughout the series.

That said, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was an especially inspired casting choice. I cannot imagine the film being as successful with another actor.

Neat continuity that Paul Bettany voices Jarvis and becomes Vision. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Age of Ultron and I’m excited to be watching it again soon.

I sort of forgot about the slight anti-war message of the movie and that a good chunk of it tangentially involved the (still) ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Obadiah/Iron Monger sorta reminds me of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. (The missile/rocket launcher-thing coming out of his arm/elbow.)

I wish Obadiah survived. One of my favorite parts of Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy was that a character like Scarecrow didn’t die at the end of the first movie and went on to appear in the sequels (albeit in very minor roles — even better!).

This is the only Iron Man movie I am rewatching. Sometime I’ll get around to rewatching the second and third in the series.

Avengers: Endgame Prep

In advance of Avengers: Endgame coming out April 26, I’ve decided to rewatch a movie from the Marvel Cinematic UniverseCaptain Marvel (which I saw in the theatres and loved, of course).

Here’s what I’m up to the the next 6 or so weekends:

  • 3/16 – Iron Man
  • 3/23 – Captain America
  • 3/30 – Avengers
  • 4/6 – Avengers Age of Ultron
  • 4/13 – Civil War
  • 4/20 – Avengers Infinity War
  • 4/27 – Avengers Endgame

How did I come up with this set of films? A couple things: First, I didn’t chose many of the recent films because I’ve seen them more recently (and in most cases multiple times e.g. Black Panther four times). It’s been a long time since I’ve rewatched Captain America and an even longer time since I’ve rewatched Iron Man. Second, I specifically wanted to focus on Iron Man and Captain America knowing that Endgame will likely be their last film. I expect Spider-Man to be around for a while… And finally, I wanted to re-watch all of the previous Avengers films.

I’m definitely looking forward to Endgame and I’m happy with the fact I was able to resist my completionist/whatever urges and attempt to rewatch every movie — this list will be a good abbreviated version of the MCU thus far.

July 4, 2014 Documentary Marathon

For years now, my Fourth of July (Independence Day) tradition has been to watch intellectual and political documentaries (none of that sappy human interest stuff for this occasion!). Films I’ve re-watched in past years include Fahrenheit 9/11, Outfoxed, Bill Maher’s Religulous, and others. I started more serious and then ventured into more bizarre…

This year I’m keeping some brief notes as I watch the documentaries. Here we go!

Page One: Inside the New York Times

  • love the WikiLeaks stuff. one of the best documentaries I watched within the past year was all about this: We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
  • haha Andrew Ross Sorkin didn’t meet his deadline!
  • I feel a sort of knee-jerk love for The Times, but the discussion about how they botched the pre-Iraq War (under George W Bush) coverage was a disaster. I forgot about the whole Judith Miller mess…
  • David Carr worked in Minneapolis! (and hit rock bottom there..)
  • I love how much this documentary is making me think about media and journalism. I love Katrina vanden Heuvel (edior of The Nation, but I also love Gawker, which she hates. I can see both sides!
  • I love ProPublica
  • I love the dark humor and cynicism of journalists. some of my favorite parts of this documentary are the casual conversations happening in the news room.
  • the whole thing about Zell taking over the creating a frat culture within the leadership of the Tribune is very scary.

Overall I loved this documentary! Makes me nostalgic for when I worked on my college newspaper. And made me realize how my current job is less and less about journalism.

The Central Park Five

  • My coworker Emeri recommended this one to me! We have extremely similar tastes in documentaries
  • I think this is my first Ken Burns experience
  • The 80s version of New York introduced in the beginning of the film feels so different from the New York I’ve visited. It’s easy for me to forget it hasn’t always been this way.
  • Too many times do I see this story of police intimidating and interrogating people in order to put together the story they want.
  • I can’t help but wonder if the police are aware of these kids’ innocence… I’m pretty sure they are completely convinced they are guilty, which makes me even more depressed.
  • Grrrrr Donald Trump!! What an asshole!
  • Grrrrr Pat Buchanan!!
  • Whoo Al Sharpton!
  • The troubles the guys have after getting out of prison make me so frustrated. I can’t say I blame the guy who goes into the drug dealing business. it’s the only job that won’t discriminate against him.
  • I love the scathing reflection by the historian toward the end.
  • Though at the end of the film the civil case by the innocent men against the city, i’m glad to say that City Controller Scott Stringer approved a $41 million settlement.

Michel Foucault: Beyond Good and Evil

  • I’m going into this without any idea of what it is. I was thinking I wanted some sort of academic documentary so I just searched for Foucault on YouTube…
  • Btw: Although I’m pretty familiar with his philosophies, the only books I’ve read by Foucault are from the History of Sexuality series (The Will to Knowledge, The Use of Pleasure, The Care of the Self)
  • I would say that after Zizek, I consider Foucault to be the most influential philosopher on me.
  • Foucault’s fiend who wrote the short story “The Secrets of a Man” possibly about Foucault: HervĂŠ Guibert
  • Looks like there is an article on JSTOR about this Guibert story and Foucault
  • I’ve always loved the Ship of Fools imagery as well.
  • Hahahaha Camile Paglia is not a fan!!! I’m not sure what it says about me, but I love both her and Foucault and somehow see a way to synthesize their ideas
  • I’ve also heard theories/rumors that Foucault intentionally caught HIV/AIDS in order to experience/study what it was like to have it.

American Experience: Silicon Valley

  • Curious to watch something about the tech field…
  • It’s cool to think of business driving such innovation in science. It doesn’t feel that way as much now. More about profits…
  • Whoa I did not expect a connection to the space race. I love it!
  • Wow! Because women had better dexterity (they thought because of needlework), most of the chip-assemblers were women!
  • Ahhh I forgot how it started: the military market…
  • Really cool to see how the whole start-up culture was created. These early silicon valley companies really shaped the industry. They remind me of Microsoft today in many ways.

20 Years Of Kompakt – The Pop Documentary

  • I love the Kompakt record label (based in Cologne, Germany). I download pretty much every single the label releases.
  • Yes, this is basically a promo for the label!
  • I wish for the music video part they matched the video with the song rather than just showing the visuals
  • Happy 20th Birthday Kompakt!

My favorite Kompakt release is Total 6. I love the songs “The Difference it Makes” by The MFA, “Tell Me About It” by Superpitcher, and “Action” by The Field. My favorite Kompakt artist is The Field.

Project Nim

  • I always wish we could communicate with animals and have them tell us what they are thinking!!
  • “It was the seventies…” !! yes!
  • … wow. they are pretty weird…
  • Oh my this is less about a scientific experiement and more about human drama!
  • The chimp takes puffs off a joint?!
  • If Nim is as human as these scientists think, the poor guy must have major parental issues.
  • You probably shouldn’t watch this if seeing animals in pain disturbs you. I can barely make it…
  • Like for example, the chimps who knew how to sign… once they were locked in cages for medical experiments, they signed “out” 🙁
  • Very much reminds me of Black Fish — we drive these poor animals insane.

And that concludes my 2014 documentary marathon!

Song Listing for Jay Z’s Made in America

Made in America
I couldn’t find the list of songs from Jay Z’s film Made in America so I decided to watch the credits sequence and list ’em out (trying to remove all of the non-features [e.g. background, score] music). Mostly this is so I can make a playlist for myself…

  • Jay-Z – 99 Problems
  • Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West – Run This Town
  • Jay-Z – Murda Murda
  • Passion Pit – “Take a Walk”
  • Janelle Monae – Victory
  • Janelle Monae – Tightrope
  • Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
  • Pearl Jam – Better Man
  • The Hives – Take Back the Toys
  • D’Angelo – Devil’s Pie
  • D’Angelo – Chicken Grease
  • The Dirty Projectors – Offspring Are Blank
  • Santigold – L.E.S. Artistes
  • Odd Future – Rella
  • Miike Snow – Pretender
  • Skrillex – Right In
  • Skrillex – Bangarang
  • Rita Ora – Facemelt
  • Rita Ora – Poison
  • Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)
  • Kontraband 215 – Back 2 Basics
  • Jill Scott – He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)
  • Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind
  • Q Department – Entropy
  • Run DMC – It’s Tricky
  • Pearl Jam – Corduroy
  • Jay-Z – Public Service Announcement
  • Jay-Z & Kanye West – Niggas in Paris
  • Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean – Made in America

If you find this and notice I miss something, let me know! Great music, great documentary!

Wicked Game


You know a song is good when: 1. It was featured prominently in a movie by one of your favorite directors; 2. It was remixed by one of your favorite DJs; 3. It was remixed by another up-and-coming DJ who has been doing awesome work lately. Such is the case with Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” The dark and haunting song is undeniably great.

I’m sure I first heard the song on alternative radio back in junior high or something, but it wasn’t until I saw David Lynch’s Wild At Heart that I realized how great the song was. “Wicked Game” plays during a great part of the film as Sailor and Lula drive across the country at night. Sailor is opening up to Lula about his past and we’re treated to total Lynchian flashbacks as well as Lula seeing her mother as the Wicked Witch of the West. The song is perfect for both the eerie drive across the desert as well as uncovering Sailor revealing his dark past and Lula connecting it with her disturbed childhood.

Then of course there is the music video for “Wicked Game” which has been called one of the sexiest videos ever:

(Also worth noting: David Lynch did a Wild At Heart version of the video [it’s on the DVD] that is kind of cool/promotional, as well.)

Then a few years ago I come across a remix of the song by Trentemøller. His “Dubby Games” remix highlights the darkness in the original by adding some cool echoes and reverb.
Chris Isaak _ Wicked Game (Trentemoller Businessman Dubby Games Remix) by elodienelson

And now recently the “up-and-coming” artist Soul Clap comes out with their own remix. Unlike Trentemøller’s darker mix, I feel like Soul Clap highly the dreamy and disco-y aspects of the song. I’ve only had it a couple weeks and I’m already in love.
Wicked Game Edit by Soul Clap

So there we have it — a great song in so many aspects and forms.

Trailers That Are Better Than The Movies

I love movie trailers. I’m one of those people who actually enjoys seeing the trailers before the movies. Sometimes it’s the excitement of getting a sneak peak, sometimes it’s the fast-paced editing and strange juxtapositions, and oftentimes it’s the great music.

Last night I watched the movie Nine and thought, as I often do, “Wow, the trailer for this movie was way better than the actual movie itself.” Not to say that the movie (or any of the movies in this blog post) are bad, but the trailers themselves were just really great or represented the movie in a way that I would’ve prefered over the actual movie itself.

Here are a few that I can think of off the top of my head right now:

Men Who Stare at Goats
Don’t get me wrong — I actually liked this movie a lot. But the trailer is just great. I’m sure a huge part of it is Boston’s song “More Than a Feeling,” but the trailer really sets the movie up to be way more funny and trippy than it actually is.

Watchmen
Again — I totally love this movie. One of my favorites. But the trailer for it is so incredibly awesome. I’m pretty sure a huge part of what makes the trailer a success is the Smashing Pumpkins’ song “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning” (a slower remix of their song “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” from the film Batman & Robin). The trailer also has some great fast/slow editing and sets the movie up to be way more epic than it was.

Nine
This trailer is just total fun. The trailer, at least, made me expect the film to be really fast and flashy — but it wasn’t. Most of the musical numbers were a bit more subdued. My two favorite songs from the film were “Be Italian” and “Cinema Italiano.” They were the two main songs used in the trailer: the music from “Be Italian” and the excitement from “Cinema Italiano.” For example, the scene showing the main character Guido spraying champagne everywhere was from “Cinema Italiano” and lasted maybe 2 seconds in the movie itself.

Burn After Reading
Another great film that was slightly misrepresented by the trailer. The trailer makes the movie seem a lot more fast-paced and funny than it was. The movie, in fact, is a bit darker. This is also another example of music making me love the trailer even more — Elbow’s “Grounds For Divorce” is in this one.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This trailer was so great because it was so highly anticipated. I remember when it came out while I was in high school people would analyze every second of it for clues about what the first new Star Wars film was going to be like. There was nothing spectacular about the trailer itself — it was the excitement about the what the trailer represented. In the end the movie was pretty bad (my least favorite of all Star Wars films).

So those are my best examples of trailers that are better (or vastly different) than the movies themselves. What am I forgetting? Admitedly trailers aren’t as memorable as the films themselves, so I’m surely missing a lot.

Great Moments In Juxtaposition

Just finished watching Wong Kar-Wai‘s Happy Together again and the end reminded me of something I love in film: taking a really happy song and playing it against a really depressing scene.

Two moments immediately came to mind, though I’m sure there are many more (and would love input from others):

First, of course, is the end scene of Happy Together. Without spoiling much, it”s just a very lonely time in the movie and Danny Chung’s cover of “Happy Together” by the Turtles with its happy lyrics and tone makes the loneliness of the film that much stronger.

The first time I encountered this happy vs. sad juxtaposition was Michael Moore‘s Roger and Me. Toward the end there is a scene where Moore shows the economically depressed Flint, MI and plays it against the Beach Boy’s “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”

Granted, both “Happy Together” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” have a slight sadness to them, the way they work with the scenes in both films takes the tiny bit of melancholy and multiplies it by a thousand.

Revisiting A Hole In My Heart

One of the reasons I love the fact that I’ve kept this blog going for over 4 years now is that I can go back and read things I wrote before and see how my thoughts/perspective have changed.

A very recent example: I re-watched the movie A Hole In My Heart — which I still consider to be the most graphic, violent, sexual, and disturbing film I’ve ever watched. Although after I first saw it I never would’ve expected that I’d watch it again, there was something about the movie that has stuck with me all of these years. Now that I feel like I’m dealing with some of my own personal darkness, perhaps I wanted to see an example of utter darkness on film? I’m not sure.

Anyway, when I watched the movie during SIFF in 2005, I found the film to be an exploration of taboos and highly sexual behavior. Now I see the film as an examination of broken people who all seemed to have traumatic things happen to them at a young age.

I still find the film very challenging and I’m still not sure it approaches either of the meanings in a clear and meaningful way (I also found the film much more exploitative this time)… but I do find it interesting that I saw it in a such a different way this time. (And I realize that this isn’t a new idea at all — the idea that the way you see films [or anything really] changes depending on time was expressed very well in a scene in 12 Monkeys [or at least that’s when I was first really exposed/grasped the idea]).

…On a more upbeat note, while watching the film this time I managed to find the name of the crazy poppy song that plays early in the film. Turns out that it’s “Floorfiller” by the A*Teens.

Why I Didn’t Like Slumdog Millionaire

Jamal on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in Slumdog Millionaire
Last night I finally got around to watching Slumdog Millionaire — the best movie of 2008 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I was pretty disappointed with the movie (though not for the reasons I expected) and perplexed as to why so many people thought it was such a great film (maybe commenters here can help shed some light on it’s greatness?).

First, some history of me and the film: I absolutely love the director: Danny Boyle. I love Trainspotting, I was one of the few who liked The Beach, I was one of the few who went back and watched Shallow Grave, I liked 28 Days Later, and I absolutely loved Sunshine. When I first heard that he was behind Slumdog Millionaire, I was totally interested in seeing it. Before it opened widely, it was playing at the Harvard Exit theatre — one of my favorite small theatres playing independent/”art house” films.

Then the movie started getting all sorts of Oscar buzz and everyone and their mother felt the need to see it and I became a bit disinterested. (Which happens often — once everyone loves something it loses its appeal to me…) And then at the 2008 Academy Awards Slumdog Millionaire cleaned up and left The Dark Knight behind — and I very strongly feel that The Dark Knight was the best movie of 2008 and I’m still overly bitter about the fact that it didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture…

So finally last night I saw the film. Based on the fact it won an Oscar and word-of-mouth reviews I’ve heard from people, I was expecting some overly romantic sentimental movie. Everyone called it the “feel good movie of the year” so I was expecting non-stop feel-goodness — and I know I’d hate that.

But in ultimately, it was really only a “feel good movie” for the final 10-15 minutes of the film. Mostly it was a very artistically-shot flashback-heavy movie with a great soundtrack. But that describes a lot of the movies I see every year… so, again, I’m not sure what made Slumdog Millionaire so exceptional.

My thoughts on some specific aspects of the film:

Soundtrack: Danny Boyle has always been a master of creating a great soundtrack for his films:

Likewise, like everyone else, I loved the “boys on a train” scene with M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” in Slumdog Millionaire. And the rest of the soundtrack — I don’t know if it’s “traditional Bollywood”-like music or what — really added to the “authentic” feel of the movie.

The Love Story: I expected the film to completely center around the love story. People described the film as “they [Jamal and Latika] keep trying to find each other but never connect.” Actually, they did keep connecting but then they’d split up for whatever reason (usually related to Jamal’s brother Salim). And yeah, at the end when they did the “feel good” reunion and dance it did feel like they made some love connection, but I didn’t feel the big pay-off that I expected.

But the more interesting question for me is: Why were they so into each other? As kids, I cannot imagine that they had a terribly romantic connection when they first met — if anything, I would expect them to have a brother/sister relationship. The fleeting moments they had together hardly gave them enough time to fall in love in any meaningful way. I know it’s a movie and all, but for “The Best Movie of 2008” I expected a more nuanced approach to love.

The Cinematography: Yeah it was artsy and cool, but the whole look-and-feel of the film reminded me of early Wong-Kar Wai films (e.g. Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, and Days of Being Wild). It was cool and all in Slumdog Millionaire but I have a feeling that a lot of people saw “cool camera techniques” for the first time and thought it was innovative? Or maybe it just worked really well for this movie? Anyway I didn’t think it was anything special but I feel like it’s part of what made the movie such a success?

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Incidentally, I’m reading The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America by Dr. Drew so the fact that Jamal wanted to be a celebrity by being on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? so that Latika would see him struck me as very real.

Conclusion: In the end, I expected to hate Slumdog Millionaire because I thought it was going to be an overly dramatic love story with a little bit of rags-to-riches thrown in for extra sentimentality. In the end, what I felt I got was a decent movie that wasn’t terribly groundbreaking or extra great in any way. If I were to be able to vote for the Best Picture film and The Dark Knight wasn’t an option, I probably would’ve gone with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (for the huge scope and special effects and whatnot) for Best Picture. (But really I still think The Dark Knight should’ve won…)

So where am I wrong? What did I miss?

FWWM on Blu-Ray

A deleted scene from FWWM
Dugpa.com has some news about the possible release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me on Blu-Ray. The short version: it’s not “in the cards at the moment” but there is a good chance it will at some point.

As Dugpa notes, this is basically our last chance to fight for the infamous deleted scenes for a long time. This has been a movement I’ve been involved with since DVDs first arrived on the scene. There are all sorts of complications around ownership and getting the scenes to DVD-quality would require some restoration efforts and involvement from Lynch himself. We almost got the scenes on a French special edition of FWWM but it didn’t quite happen.

Seriously: I very much want to see these scenes. I urge you to send feedback to Warner Brothers. For reference, here is what I told them:

i believe that you now own the rights to twin peaks: fire walk with me. this is one of my favorite movies (one of lynch’s best, in fact) and i’d love to see it on blu-ray… and i’d love even more to see the infamous “deleted scenes” that we’ve been fighting for (around the world) for years now.

i’m a huge fan of the work you did on the matrix collection (i had it on dvd and now have it on blu-ray). and i’m VERY eagerly awaiting your box set for the 1990s batman films. and of course i have batman begins and the dark knight. and once you release the alien quadrilogy on blu-ray, you know i’m replacing the dvd set i currently have 🙂

so i’d love to see your commitment to putting out great discs for the sci-fi/fan community and think fire walk with me would be a great addition to your already awesome catalog.

thx

I thought it’d help to show I support Warner Brothers releases and am already looking forward to stuff they have coming up. I also wanted to stress the fact that they already have made concessions to the “fan communities.”

So yah, please join me in trying to get this awesome film on Blu-Ray with the elusive deleted scenes!