Friday, March 28, 2008

Twisted Jokes

This evening at 6:30 pm I'll be appearing on Cinema Talk on KSFR to discuss, with hosts Chris Quinn and John Dupuy, to discuss a smattering of films we watched last week. The most interesting was a double feature of Michael Haneke's 1997 and 2008 films Funny Games. Though the two are nearly identical--the second being a shot for shot remake by the director--they are vastly different. It should be an interesting conversation as to how our experiment (John and I watched the original first, while Chris started with the remake) shapes our perceptions of the film.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

For the Love of Books: A conversation with Nicholas Potter

Nicholas Potter is opposed to making recommendations. He insists he's not an English scholar, and that books are subjective to the person in question. He would rather focus on the book as a thing, an entity that encompasses all things and therefore should not be limited to a few personal selections. I would have to say that I agree with his opinion. However, for the sake of entertainment, I asked that he make a selection anyway. After some initial hesitation he agreed, and I think we'll all be glad for that.
(Madason Gray)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Red, White and Blue

This Reuters/USAF picture appeared today on the homepage for online news magazine as the visual to go along with an article on "How the Press Failed On Iraq." While the article is good the image itself answers the question. It's been 5 years now and this is the first picture I've seen of flag covered coffins.

The second the picture flashed onto my screen my stomach fell. Not simply because this is an image that we've been guarded from for so long now, people of my generation not knowing the images of Vietnam except for years later, but because I spent part of last evening looking at boot camp pictures that belonged to a friend of mine. We talk about how these are children going off to war, but in our minds there is still the picture of the Marine from the movies--rugged, buff, ready to eat bricks for dinner. In truth the pictures show boys, dressed up in their dress blues with a too big hat nearly falling over their eyes. Barely out of high school these are the boys who are sent to take over the world. The ones who easily could still be in algebra class. Even the Sergeants and Staff Sergeants, the drill instructors we know from Full Metal Jacket, look like college boys.

Of the men that can be seen in this picture surely some are adults, career military men, but the men in the boxes are the same ones who make lattes at the local coffee shops, who live in dorms and try to get their buddies to buy them beer, who won't be able to get a job after they've finished college. They're the young, naive men that we ignore, call boys and disrespect at every turn. They're coming home in boxes, and have been for years, and yet we don't see it. The image of those flag draped coffins are more emotional than the words "5 US Soldiers Killed In Iraq." Soldiers sound like men, coffins sound like the boy next door.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rental Picks: Animal Magnetism

The relationship between man and animal has long been a subject of study; from the loyalty of man's best friend to the more intimately perverse. With this thought in mind, I asked Video Library's owner, Lisa Harris, for recommendations based on this subject. The always obliging Harris agreed. She chose a broad selction ranging from sentimential classics like Lassie Come Home to the more, shall we say, unique interactions. Under this catagory is Zoo, a docudrama about a Seattle man's death after an unusual encounter with a horse.

My personal favorite of her picks is Passion in the Desert. Though the last time I saw it was more than six years ago, it's stuck with me to this day. I don't remember the film all that clearly (so i can't spoil it for you), but, basically, it's about young, French officer Augustin Robert who abandons his regiment during Nepolian's Egyptian campaign for a life in the desert, where he befriends a female leopard. The dialogue is sparse which makes Ben Daniel's (Augustin Robert) performance all the more brilliant. Good stuff. (Madason Gray)