tomemos

December 7, 2007

Using ideas as my maps

Filed under: Blogs Themselves, Film and Video, Literati and Cognoscenti, Music — tomemos @ 2:12 pm

Attention, smart people: I think we should have some kind of symposium on the Todd Haynes film I’m Not There. Probably an online symposium, though honestly I’d like to get us all in a Mariott ballroom talking about it, as it’s a film where our disagreements are more important than our agreements. Because while I liked the movie overall—I’d say three stars on Netflix—it’s also the most disappointing movie I’ve seen in years; I didn’t love it by any means, and yet no one who loved it has said anything I’ve disagreed with. So I’d like to start us talking about how we could all be thinking such similar things about the film and coming to such different aesthetic conclusions.

Here’s what I’m going to say today: I’m Not There is a textbook example of why, in art, the conceptual is unsatisfying without effective practical execution. In fact, I used it in class a week ago to make that very point to my students. Somewhat like the other Todd Haynes films I’ve seen—Safe (which I saw while young, admittedly) and Far From Heaven—the movie is thoughtful and has interesting ideas, but does not actually feel interesting to watch. The disappointment of I’m Not There is so keen for me because the concept is especially good, while the execution is often mediocre and occasionally bad. (Spoilers follow from here on out.)

In fairness, I should note at the beginning that I experienced the film in a sub-optimal manner: some reels were shown out of order, so that (for instance) we first encountered Cate Blanchett’s Dylan before he had been properly introduced. Perturbed by the abrupt shifts in scene, we suggested to a theater employee that the reels might have been out of order, but he said he had arranged them correctly and added, “It’s what you call an extremely disjointed narrative.” It took a week to confirm that this was incorrect; the friend we checked with wondered at first if maybe we just didn’t understand avant-garde cinema. On the one hand, you could say that we would have enjoyed the movie more if we had seen it in order, and that’s probably true (though it wouldn’t have made any difference for the Richard Gere and Heath Ledger sequences, which had nothing redeeming for me). On the other hand, the fact that the projectionist couldn’t tell that the film was out of order isn’t exactly a point in its favor. (There weren’t a lot of audience members around us who shared our suspicions, either.) So, with that out of the way:

Joe Kugelmass, who initially disliked the movie, came to appreciate it by thinking of it as a statement on Dylan’s use of self-mythologizing: “For Haynes, Dylan is the sum of his fantasies—the fantasy of being black and young again, the fantasy of being a noble refugee with a history of violence.…” Uncomplicatedly, in a comment on that entry, agrees:

Everyone goes through successive reimaginings of themselves– which is part of what gives the film weight and resonance– but this is especially important for Dylan, who was bent on reimagining himself in defiance of people who wanted to hold onto the particular incarnation they had connected with.

This matches other opinions I’ve heard: the movie is intended to capture Dylan’s constant re-invention, both to the public and to himself, and the impossibility of settling on a “true” Dylan in light of this. This is made explicit in Richard Gere’s words near the end of the film: “Me, I can change in the course of a day. I wake up thinking I’m one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else.”

Here’s the thing: I get all that. What’s more, I agree with all that. It’s what I understood Haynes’ object to be when I heard he was making a movie with six very different Dylans, and as someone who’s been a Dylan fan most of my life, it’s what made me excited to see it. And, despite some unfortunately literal uses of Dylan lyrics, Haynes’ use of this concept is exemplary, as he makes observations—criticism, really—about Dylan’s life and career that make intrinsic sense. My favorite of these is the way that Christian Bale’s Dylan, the early-sixties protest singer, resurfaces in the late seventies as a born-again preacher. It’s true that Dylan’s Christian period was in some ways a reprise of his protest period: he believed, again, that he could change people, save people, through song. I had never thought of it this way, but, thanks to Haynes, now I have.

My problem is that the enjoyment or fulfillment I got from watching these concepts in the movie was equal to that I got from reading about them in film reviews ahead of time: it was an intellectual enjoyment, not an aesthetic one. In other words, for the most part the concepts and ideas work only as concepts and ideas; aside from a few good scenes, almost all in the Bale or Blanchett sections of the movie, they are not actually executed in a way that gives pleasure beyond figuring them out or understanding them. And so the movie ended up for me as a noble failure, a smart but disappointing effort, rather than a comprehensively good film.

Of course, one could reasonably argue that you can’t judge a film fairly once you’ve spoiled it for yourself by reading reviews, and that if I had seen the film without prior knowledge I would have been able to achieve full enjoyment of its ideas. I would respond with two points:

1) The film’s own promotional materials made a point of explicitly selling, and explaining, these same concepts, running the same risk of spoilage as the reviews did. I’m not just talking about the trailer, although that’s part of it (the Gere quote from above is right there in the trailer); I’m also talking about “I’m Not There: The Official Guide to the Movie,” a six-page booklet, given to us with our movie tickets, which contains articles explaining what part of Dylan’s life and iconography each of the actors represents and what all the sources for the people, dialogue, clothes, etc. are. Now, obviously Haynes didn’t make the trailer or the booklet; he may abhor them. But it is relevant to me that the film was sold by giving the concepts away: it created my desire to see the movie that went along with those concepts, and that movie didn’t stand up. Moreover, I wouldn’t be too quick to say that this is separate from what Haynes himself does: in both the beginning and the end of the film, we see a rapid-fire display of snapshots of the six actors playing Dylan, which seems to be Haynes’ way of pushing the film’s central concept to the forefront.

2) More importantly, the film should stand on its own. This is true of any work of art: the intellectual or conceptual material is not less important than the practical execution of that material, but both halves need each other to thrive. A friend of mine disliked the novel Hannibal, until he found a website that claimed to find a system of oblique references (to what, I don’t remember) in the novel. Without weighing in on the plausibility of the references, or the quality of the book—I’m not familiar with either one—literature is not an Easter-egg-hunt; it’s not just about finding references, nor is it just about making points and developing ideas. Those references, points, and ideas have to be artistically presented to an audience. A boring or unconvincing novel is better with well-developed ideas than without them, but it remains boring and unconvincing either way.

Losing sight of this means losing sight of why we take the two hours to actually watch a film, rather than just talking about its ideas. When a film is all concept, it’s impossible to discuss it on any other grounds; every flaw is actually an essential part of the concept. The Richard Gere sequence in I’m Not There is derivative (basically a watered-down McCabe and Mrs. Miller with giraffes), but that’s okay, because Dylan’s vision of the West was itself derivative. The Heath Ledger/Charlotte Gainsbourg divorce scenes are boring, but that’s okay, because it shows us how flat and boring Dylan’s life felt to him during this time. On the other hand, I just watched a Sopranos episode (“House Arrest”) about Tony and everyone around him being bored and depressed, and it was compelling from beginning to end. Everyone who’s been in a writing workshop has heard someone say that a character is supposed to be annoying, or a scene is supposed to be frustrating. The fact is, good art is able to make all the emotions and experiences of life, even the banal ones, feel interesting and worthwhile (not to say pleasant or enjoyable) without making us think of justifications for their banality.

I would compare it to surprise endings. Obviously, a movie with a surprise ending is better when you don’t already know the ending, so that you don’t lose the surprise. At the same time, a good movie should be good independent of that surprise. The fact that The Crying Game doesn’t stand up when the twist (not actually at the end, I know) has been spoiled is a sign that it isn’t a very worthwhile film. On the other hand, I loved Citizen Kane, even though I had known what Rosebud was since I was seven. A concept, like a twist, is something one can know and understand independently from actually seeing the movie (or reading the book, etc.). Experiencing that concept or twist has to be worthwhile in and of itself.

I do admire Haynes for making such an ambitious and conceptual movie; I do enjoy thinking through what it has to say about Dylan and about identity in general. As it turns out, all of that doesn’t have much effect on my experience actually watching these people say those lines. “But then all this had somehow to be turned into art,” Martin Amis once wrote at the end of a book review; “that is where the real trouble started.”

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November 23, 2007

The War on Thanksgiving

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 10:37 am

(Updated below)

Ways in which TV advertisers sold the idea of going to their stores at (variously) 4 am, 5 am, or 6 am on the Friday after Thanksgiving, aside from simple appeals to deep discounts:
(based on advertisements seen on Thanksgiving for Target, JC Penney, Mervyn’s, Macy’s, Big Lots, and others)

1. Fear and social pressure. Shot of a suburban neighborhood at night. People running chaotically from their homes, across lawns and into the streets, reminiscent of people evacuating or fleeing in disaster movies. “Mom, where are we going?” shouts a little boy. Mom answers that they are going to take advantage of an early-morning After Thanksgiving Sale. Details of savings and deals follow.

2. Good-natured reminders of personal responsibility. “Set those alarms!” a voice says merrily, as an alarm clock rings. A small dog, representing the buyer, gets out of its dog bed and trots away as the voice recounts all of the deals available at the early-morning After Thanksgiving Sale. As the dog returns to its bed, exhausted (or goes to bed early in preparation for the early-morning sale? Ambiguous), the voice brightly chides us, “You’ve got a lot of shopping to do!”

3. The invigorating thrill of a strenuous physical challenge. No voice-over. Instead, The Go! Team’s “We Just Won’t Be Defeated” plays in the background as an animated stick figure pushes a shopping cart at a full run through a minimalist background. Shots of the stick figure doing shopping-themed exercises, overcoming obstacles, etc. Beads of cartoon sweat drip from his stick-brow. During the evening’s feature (The Incredibles), the little shopper occasionally reappears, running with his cart from the left side of the screen to the right.

4. Ironic directness. A touching family Thanksgiving scene, though a somewhat comical one: one of the older children, a late teenager, over-earnestly wears a paper Pilgrim hat. Mom brings out the turkey and sets it on the table, to the family’s delight; however, she immediately leaves the kitchen, pulling the tablecloth, food, and place-settings behind her. They fall to the ground with a clatter: “Who wants dessert?” calls Mom from the kitchen. The voice-over tells us to hurry and get to the store for the After Thanksgiving Sale, making it clear that Mom wants to get dinner over with quickly to begin shopping. After recounting of deals, a shot of Mom, still in her apron, standing at the store doors alone in the middle of the night. “Open, open, open,” she mutters, rattling the doors.

This one could stand more discussion: by “ironic directness,” I mean an advertisement that simply tells you to do something ridiculous or distasteful, or claims a ludicrous property for the product, but avoids offense by using humor to suggest that they’re just pulling your leg. At the same time, the advertisers obviously want you to do or believe exactly what they’re joking about. On Thanksgiving I expected to see more of this technique, which was incisively described (with the example of the Axe Deodorant ads) in Joe Kugelmass’s account of advertising, but I only saw the one ad; maybe America isn’t yet ready for this level of starkness regarding a family holiday. Within a few years, though, the concept of going shopping on Thanksgiving night may have been normalized to the degree that more advertisers can just tell us to do it, while leaving the “just kidding!” escape hatch unlocked behind them.

I also learned, watching these ads (and reading some of the catalogs that came in the daily paper), that the word “doorbuster” has become the standard term for an extremely good deal, one that will bring people crowding into the store, busting down the doors, etc. This seems like a case of Madison Avenue chutzpah, since for me “doorbuster” evokes everything that makes me not want to take part in brief sales events: namely, getting caught in a massive, door-busting crowd. But it would be a major coup if advertisers made the two worst things about these sales (going to a store at 4 am and packing yourself in with a thousand other shoppers) seem like features: exciting, part of the fun, even part of the holiday.

On the way home from Thanksgiving, we saw a billboard: an extreme close-up of a Budweiser bottle, with the caption “THIS IS BEER.” Obviously, it’s meant to be read with a certain emphasis: “This is beer.” But for a second my mind was freed from that enunciation and I read it for what it actually was: a simple declarative statement (“This is beer”). It sure is! This is somewhat in homage to Penny Arcade’s vision of the ideal Doritos ad: “Doritos are chips.™”

Update: While we’re on the subject…in the past I’ve generally been indifferent to Buy Nothing Day, but the crassness of the Black Friday ads has finally made me a fan. This graphic from designer Jonathan Barnbrook is a pretty thorough argument in favor.

April 1, 2007

Living in a manbot’s manputer’s world

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 10:52 pm

Two sources of bemusement encountered during a recent trip to Iowa:

1. A Martini is a cocktail made with gin or vodka and, optionally, dry vermouth. The drink is made more or less dry by adjusting the proportion of vermouth to gin or vodka; Winston Churchill supposedly said that it was sufficient to pass the vermouth cork over the glass. I will pretend, for the moment, to be a forward-thinking guy and allow that the category has expanded to include a glass of vodka or gin and a substitute for vermouth (for instance, sake). But I would still not include drinks like the Cosmopolitan and the Lemon Drop, no matter the shape of the glass they’re served in; these are perfectly fine cocktails, but they aren’t martinis, any more than a Jack and Coke is a Manhattan or a Tequila Sunrise is a Margarita.

In an Iowa City bar and grill, the “Martini Menu” contained 14 drinks. Of these:

  • 3 were made with regular vodka.
  • 6 were made with flavored vodka.
  • 5 were made with flavored rum.
  • None were made with gin.
  • None were made with vermouth.

2. Julie and I have started watching the first season of Lost on DVD. It’s a fun show so far, one that features an entertaining premise, considerable suspense, and satisfying, well-executed surprises. It also features characters broad enough to land a plane on.

I know there are plenty of twists coming, and since I’m writing this from inside a DVD time capsule some of what I write here may have been made obsolete before I even turned on the computer; nevertheless, I’ll take that risk and congratulate the show’s writers for putting the following people on one plane:

  • a Mancunian rock star who’s also a drug addict,
  • a young, blonde, Southern Californian woman who’s shallow and self-absorbed,
  • an Iraqi who was previously a torturer in the Republican Guard, and
  • an Asian woman who comes from a mysterious gangster family, and also knows the secrets of herbal medicine. And her husband is a cook! Ooh, maybe one of them knows martial arts, too!

December 25, 2006

Isn’t it wonderful? I’m going to jail!

Filed under: Film and Video, General Me, Get your motor runnin' — tomemos @ 1:48 pm

Some notes on Christmas ’06:

 *We watched It’s a Wonderful Life last night.  I hadn’t seen it in years (except for the 30-second bunnies version), so I remembered hardly any of the essential details. It’s a good movie, despite some strange editing errors, and the ending is genuinely moving. However, there was a hilariously dated part near the end (spoiler warning, I guess). George Bailey is wandering around Pottersville, discovering one alternate-reality horror after another – his brother is dead, the downtown is a center of sin and misery, the place is called Pottersville – all because he’s never been born. Then, finally, he comes upon the final straw, the awful revelation that sends him racing back to the bridge to beg for his life back: his wife is unmarried at 35! And she’s a librarian! And she wears glasses!

I mean, when George asks Clarence “where’s my wife? Where’s Mary?” and Clarence doesn’t want to tell him, I sort of assumed that she was a prostitute or a burlesque dancer or something. But no, she’s just an old maid with her hair in a bun. And why would George’s absence make her wear glasses, anyway? Maybe it’s related to being a librarian, because reading is super-bad for women’s vision.

*I’ve come full circle from the Christmas ideal, where people give you things you like so you can save your money for things you need. The problem is that the adults in my life have no connection to things I like; it feels weird to ask my parents for albums they’ve never heard of, let alone the video games that they thought I was going to outgrow eventually. So the best Christmas presents I get these days are practical gifts – clothes, reference books – that let me save my money for toys. That culminated in my best present so far this year: a new set of hubcaps for my car, whose wheels have been naked (and gradually rusting) for as long as I’ve owned it. I was outside putting them on, hearing the neighborhood kids yell their favorite presents to each other: “I got the new iPod!” “I got an XBox 360!” Meanwhile there I was, hammering on my Christmas present, making an old car new.

*Finally, James Brown died. I was stunned; I had no idea he was 73, and even then he’s been such an icon for my entire life that it’s impossible to imagine him dead. Down here in Yorba Linda, I found out online; he died too late for the newspaper, and it occurred to me that my parents (who don’t get online very often) wouldn’t have heard. I planned to tell them during my “Merry Christmas” call, but I couldn’t do it. You can’t interrupt a gift-giving session with news like that.

December 3, 2006

This concept of “wuv” confuses and enrages us

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 7:25 pm

Eww. Netflix has changed the “Recommendations” link to “Movies You’ll [heart].”

Like, a picture of a heart.

Ewwww.

That is all.

September 6, 2006

A long time ago, we used to be friends

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 1:43 pm

I’m writing from a library in Lake Havasu City, in Mohave County, Arizona.  Me and my friend Glenn are staying at his grandparents’ timeshare out here and having a decent time.  It’s hot out here, of course (the helpful tip from the hotel is that we only go outside during the coolest part of the day, “between 4 am and 7 am”), and we find ourselves with a fair amount of downtime.  We read, we have some games, and he’s been showing me episodes of this show Veronica Mars, about a teenage sleuth in California.  It’s basically entertaining, to laugh with and occasionally at, but I came across one episode that bothered me.  In fact, it had me up late into the night scratching this entry on our complimentary notepad, and now I reproduce it for you.

Of course, part of me is apprehensive about writing a great deal about a TV episode; I hate it when people talk my ear off about TV episodes in real life, so subjecting people to that in prose is questionable.  (Also, this entry contains some heavy stuff, stuff heavy enough to possibly be inappropriate in a discussion about TV; I don’t know.)  But I’ve decided that one habit I’m going to have to get into in order to make this blog work is to just go ahead and blog about something when I feel like I have a lot to say about it, and to worry about whether it’s readable later.  Until I have no readers left, then I’ll try something else.

So.  The episode was called “One Angry Veronica,” and as you can imagine it was a riff on the movie Twelve Angry Men: Veronica has to serve jury duty, and while at first it seems like an open-and-shut case, it turns out that one juror (not Veronica, initially) sees problems with it and gradually convinces the other jurors to change their votes.  The catch here is that, whereas in Twelve Angry Men the case looked like a clear conviction but becomes an acquittal, here the case looks like a clear acquittal but ends up being conviction.  Okay, Tom, what’s the big problem?

First of all, you have the plot holes.  Now, Veronica Mars is not the most watertight show out there–Veronica’s best friend is a star high school basketball player who can’t be much taller than 5’7″–but even by that standard this stuff is insulting: Veronica’s father clandestinely gives her evidence that detracts from the defendants’ case, but as a private investigator and former sheriff, wouldn’t he have found it more convenient just to go straight to the DA, before the trial ended?  And what kind of budget does the prosecution have, that they can’t afford a web search to find out that the star defense witness not only is not who he claims to be, he’s actually a star college athlete and one-time NFL recruit who hasn’t even changed his name?

But that’s just shallow pedantry.  The deeper pedantry is this: the episode wants to be just a clever inversion of Twelve Angry Men, but there is a vital difference.  In TAM, the movement was from guilty to innocent; the prosecution’s case, which looks airtight, is found to have enough inconsistencies to fail the standard of reasonable doubt, so the accused must go free.  In the Veronica Mars episode, the jury turns an extremely poorly-made case against the defendants–one that apparently makes no attempt to challenge the defendants’ case–into conviction, simply by poking holes in the defendants’ case.  In other words: defendants claim A; A is logically impossible; therefore, defendants are guilty.  “Process of elimination,” Veronica says smugly when explaining to the holdout juror (a bad bad evil man who we’ll get to later) why she’s voting to convict.  The process of deciding guilt or innocence is reduced to a matter of deduction, of choosing the most likely explanation.  To be sure, this is the form of Twelve Angry Men as well…but in that movie the jurors are searching for reasonable doubt, whereas in “One Angry Veronica” the concept is not even mentioned.

The reason we have a standard of reasonable doubt–and the reason I’m writing however-many words about a TV episode you haven’t seen–is to prevent our natural suspicion of the accused from influencing our judgment.  Prosecutors, and the writers of this TV episode, overcome that by encouraging…more suspicion.  They play on our prejudices to make us want the accused to be guilty.  Were we an all-white jury in 1950’s Alabama–or Simi Valley last week–they’d play on our fears of black men raping our women.  Instead, we’re a hip 16-24-year-old television audience, so the writers make the defendants well-off white young men accused of beating a Mexican-American prostitute.  Sons of privilege about to get away with victimizing a lower-class woman of color?  Man, what a bumper sticker that would make.

But bumper stickers aren’t the truth, and I’d find this one a bit more compelling if, for instance, it hadn’t transpired that those Duke lacrosse players, according to all available evidence–starting with DNA testing–are innocent.  Furthermore, not only are they innocent but they were clearly railroaded; the prosecutor stacked the lineup, implied that the players’ retaining a lawyer was evidence of guilt, and has used this case for significant political gain.  (See here for details; note that I learned about the accusation on the cover of Time, but learned about the exoneration from the end of a story in the New Yorker.)  Yet the media portrayed it as an open-and-shut case, one with Deeper Significance for the Country at Large, and plenty of us bought it.  (In fact, the best I can say about my involvement isn’t that I didn’t buy the hype–I did–but that I just didn’t get wrapped up in it.)

Now, of course, that story–daddy gets rich assailants off scott free–plays out all the time.  In Orange County there was a case that finally ended a few months ago, in which a few privileged sons were caught on film performing a hideous rape on a clearly unconscious victim, and the only defense was that she was promiscuous and wanted it to happen, and the first trial ended in a hung jury.  (Luckily the retrial produced a conviction and some decent jail time, but not before the victim had been subjected to the best harassment and defamation money can buy.)  My conclusion from this, though, is that we should try judging every case on its merits to be sure that justice is done, rather than replacing our hatred of wanton sluts with one of trust-fund rapists; to do that would be to risk ruining the lives of innocent people (conviction or not) in order to make a fairly abstract point.

As a Berkeley leftist, I should have loved that VM episode.  A group of dedicated citizens banding together to send some privileged assholes up the river?  What’s not to like? (The red meat didn’t stop there: not only was the crime one of race and class, but the holdout for an acquittal is the CEO of a big company outsourcing to India.  As things get tense, he shows his true colors and angrily bellows that he will never vote to convict two boys from fine families accused of beating a Mexican whore.)  But the fact is I’m sick of this kind of stuff; it’s been done to death, done into the ground, and I don’t think it reflects reality in any worthwhile way.  I guess you could say that I’m making that judgment from a position of privilege myself, but I don’t think that episode (or the vindictive rhetoric which it draws from, which I hear more than I’d like) is about justice so much as smugness, or “turnabout is fair play.”  We all want to believe that our opponents are hypocritical racists who will stop at nothing, and I suppose sometimes it’s true, but exulting in the demonization of those we fear really doesn’t do it for me as thought or entertainment.

July 9, 2006

Inventing situations

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 10:17 pm

So while waiting in line to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (my 2 cents: eh), we were looking at movie posters through the window of the theater lobby. We saw the poster for Snakes on a Plane (which I think would make a great tattoo), which was exciting, and then we saw something bizarre and frightening: next to the other movie posters, with a “Coming Soon” over it and everything, was a “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies” poster, with the usual image: big bowl of cereal, with Snap, Crackle, and Pop doing their jolly elf thing.

And I thought, Holy shit. They’re making a Rice Krispies movie.

I’ll ruin the suspense and say that, as far as our research can tell, they’re not. IMDB doesn’t have anything, and neither does Google. After the movie, someone more level-headed than myself pointed out that the poster had no information about the “film’s” release–no “Summer 2007,” no “www.ricekrispiesmovie.com,” nothing like that. But I think the fact that I even considered it as a possibility–that I actually started to imagine the animated adventures of Pop, Snap, and the androgynous Crackle–gives some sign of how far I’ve been driven by our insane entertainment industry. I mean, once you’ve accepted that they’ve genuinely made Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties, apparently with the expectation that people will see it, you don’t have much disbelief to suspend.

Plus, even if it’s not a movie, the poster raises more questions than it answers. (The only question it answers is “Rice Krispies?”) I mean, why were they advertising cereal in the movie theater? Why did the poster have “Coming Soon” above it? Did they intend for us to think that they were making a Rice Krispies movie, or was it just a convenient place to put that advertising Kellogg’s paid for? And again: cereal, in the movie theater? That’s like the one kind of food you can’t buy in a theater.

April 8, 2006

A two-way street called Trust

Filed under: Film and Video, Funny Stuff — tomemos @ 4:08 am

The inimitable Kindle said once that the recipe for cuteness is a big thing made small, or a small thing made big. This is true. It’s also true that a cute thing is made disturbingly funny when it does something awful or has something awful done to it. To whit:

First, this thing I should have told you all about long ago: a TV show on Channel 102 (like Channel 101, it’s a site where users create TV shows and the most popular ones get to put up more episodes). Created by my acquaintances at Waverly Films, it’s at least as good as anything else they’ve done. There are three compelling, hilarious episodes up right now; the reason I didn’t tell you about it before…well, would you understand if I told you that it’s called Puppet Rapist? I had to make sure it was safe for general consumption. Make sure to watch from the beginning; the first episode is like the best-made, funniest snuff film you ever saw.

Second, the inimitable Lore (who now has a new blog on Wired) linked to a website where cartoon bunnies re-enact famous movies in 30 seconds. They’re all great, but if you can only watch one this holiday season, watch Reservoir Dogs.

March 2, 2006

A visit to the dentist, a place to get some pie

Filed under: Film and Video, Funny Stuff — tomemos @ 3:36 pm

Everyone, esp. Flickr fans, should check out the Flickr Movie. It’s a collection of Flickr photos set to music, building to a hilariously absurd crescendo. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by it, I only know that I’ve watched it five times since learning about it yesterday.

(courtesy of Lore.)

March 1, 2006

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 2:46 am

The description on the Netflix sleeve for the film version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (1996):

“Set in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, the story concerns Abigail, a teenager who once had an affair with married farmer John Proctor. Their relationship comes to an end, however, when his wife Elizabeth learns about it.”

“Yeah, it’s a good movie, but the witch trial subplot seems superfluous.”

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