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Hello again friends! I am pleased to report that I have managed to keep up my film viewing at a good pace since the last update.

Week 24: Ice Age: The Meltdown. British Airways actually has a pretty solid set of films that they make available to international travelers. So of I course I chose to watch the sequel to Ice Age, as I really didn’t have the energy to watch anything without squirrels in it. Like the first movie, The Meltdown captures a good cross-section of cute animals, apropro real-world themes and oddly risque adult humor – but, really, who cares about anything other than the saber-toothed squirrel?

Thats right.

That's right.

Week 25: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I remember having no idea what this movie was supposed to be about, based on the previews. My friend selected it as the movie to watch on a slow evening while hanging out at my buddies place in Edinburgh; such a good call!  It hits an exact tone of comic quirkiness that resonates well with me; it’s also really filmically interesting. Done in that faux-documentary style that’s all the rage these days, this homage/sendup of Jacques Cousteau and nature films managed to make me both laugh hysterically and WTF constantly. Which is good. Highly recommended, if you’re into red caps, speedos and Bill Murray.

Week 26: A Fish Called Wanda. Classic, curtosy again of British Airways! John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis star in the ’88 comedy concerning crime, love, revenge and fish. I think I saw this for the first time when I was, like, 12, and my memory does not deceive me – it’s great. John Cleese, who also co-wrote the script, plays as straight a man as I think he’s capable of, while the rest of the cast scrambles around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get their hands on a whole bunch o’ diamonds. A few laugh-out-loud moments, great sexual comedy, and some very poignent vignettes. Great film.

Week 27: Azur and Asmar. As it turns out, I now have discounted admission to the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago, which a cursory glance at their programming will convice you is a totally rad thing. Last week I checked it out for the first time, attending a screening of this French animated film. Somewhat of a meditation on the definition of beauty and the nature of family and brotherhood, I was a little underwhelmed, mostly by the animation style. While the backgrounds and environments were rendered in a wonderful cel style, the actual character animations looked like Flash. Example:

See? Wierd!

See? Wierd!

So the dissonance in the animation actually made it difficult for me to follow the story. And it ended with a dance party. Which is not bad in and of itself, but was a little bollywood-esque in an inappropriate way, I thought.

Week 28: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I have a thing for Tim Burton (surprise, surprise). I saw this when it came out, which was rad, and the watched it recently with one of my new neighbors, which was also rad, because the movie is – well, it’s rad. I mean, it’s hard to top the 1971 original, but I think this film actually co-exists with it, rather than attempts to replace it. It’s in a wierder zone, with an even creepier edge to it and some really mindful cruelty on the part of Wonka.

It’s also the beginning, I think, of Burton’s latest phase of film-making, which I affectionately refer to “I’m bored with my own work so I’m going to make movies that are even wierder” phase. I still like them (I mean, Sweeny Todd? That movie rules), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the mass market starts being put off by his films over the next couple of years. Good thing we have Guillermo del Toro to fill in the cultural gap.

Over the half-way point, and still caught up! Huzzah!

The Rankings, as of 7/11/09:

New Releases

  1. Milk (Week 1)
  2. Watchmen (Week 11)
  3. Gran Torino (Week 2)
  4. Star Trek (Week 19)
  5. Push (Week 10)
  6. Terminator Salvation (Week 21)

New To Me!

  1. Rear Window (Week 12)
  2. Let The Right One In (Week 23)
  3. Traffic (Week 17)
  4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Week 22)
  5. The Exorcist (Directors Cut) (Week 7)
  6. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Week 8 )
  7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Week 25)
  8. Hellboy (Week 3)
  9. Serenity (Week 5)
  10. Ice Age: The Meltdown (Week 24)
  11. Conan the Barbarian (Week 16)
  12. Formula 51 (Week 6)
  13. Azur and Asmar (Week 27)
  14. Slaughter of the Vampires (Week 18)
  15. The Hunger (Week 13)

Old Favorites

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Week 9)
  2. The Great Escape (Week 15)
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Week 28)
  4. Hook (Week 4)
  5. A Fish Called Wanda (Week 26)
  6. Dracula (1979 version) (Week 20)
  7. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Week 14)
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Pretty simple. Both are about 4 minutes long and totally worth watching. They’re also both kind of about the impossibility of a robot really being human, though (ironically) Powerless has a happy ending, and REACH is really sad. Check ’em out.

Powerless:

Reach:

(both via Webomator)

I have seen many movies. I think all I can do is one-sentance summaries to catch us all up.

Week 16: Conan the Barbarian. It’s nice how the lack of dialogue makes it easy to make bad jokes with your friends during the REALLY INTENSE MOMENTS.

Week 17: Traffic. Powerful film with just a fantastic cast…enough to ignore the overuse of mood/location setting color filters.

Week 18: Slaughter of the Vampires. Bad Italian horror film with warmed-over Dracula plot comes through with surprisingly beautiful dialogue…it’s better than The Hunger, at least!

Week 19: Star Trek. Geeked out over deft handling of an easily-effed-up property, good action, but my inner feminist is disappointed with the (non)handling of gender roles.

Week 20: Dracula (1979 version). Frank Langella is the best Dracula, bar none – my favorite movie version, though it still suffers from not really being a great movie compared to, like, actually good movies.

Week 21: Terminator Salvation. There sure are a lot of explosions in this movie!

Week 22: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Kubrick is one of my favorite directors, and he doesn’t dissapoint – masterful handling of the audience/protagonist relationship underlies the so-thick-it-chokes irony/commentary that’s still fairly relevant.

Week 23: Let The Right One In. A swedish vampire drama/horror/romance; not only is it the best vampire movie I’ve ever seen, bar none, it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of film I’ve had to pleasure to be an audience for. Simply wonderful.

…which puts me perfectly on top of things, as of 6/7/09! I am 23 for 23!

New Releases

  1. Milk (Week 1)
  2. Watchmen (Week 11)
  3. Gran Torino (Week 2)
  4. Star Trek (Week 19)
  5. Push (Week 10)
  6. Terminator Salvation (Week 21)

New To Me!

  1. Rear Window (Week 12)
  2. Let The Right One In (Week 23)
  3. Traffic (Week 17)
  4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Week 22)
  5. The Exorcist (Directors Cut) (Week 7)
  6. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Week 8 )
  7. Hellboy (Week 3)
  8. Serenity (Week 5)
  9. Conan the Barbarian (Week 16)
  10. Formula 51 (Week 6)
  11. Slaughter of the Vampires (Week 18)
  12. The Hunger (Week 13)

Old Favorites

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Week 9)*
  2. The Great Escape (Week 15)*
  3. Hook (Week 4)
  4. Dracula (1979 version) (Week 20)
  5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Week 14)

*finally chose….sorry Steve, but Clint is just that tiniest bit sexier. What can I say?

ATTENTION CITIZEN>TODAYS DISPACHES FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION

Attention typography nerds and flash game aficiandos! Addictive, and frustrating, game at Veer: KERN IN SPACE. Don’t let anyone tell you kerning is easy. (via ilovetypography)

The Boston Public Library has posted an amazing collection of vintage travel posters to flickr. You can see a couple of my faves below. Radical. (via Design Observer)

Vintage Travel Poster

Vintage Travel Poster

Huge Train!

Huge Train!

A bizarre and engrossing animated stream-of-conciousness series of pencil drawings, ake The Drawing Archive. It’s about 5 minutes before it looks back to the beginning, and they are well worth it – some genuinely profound and pointed images, to my mind at least. (via Kempt)

Legos rule. In addition to Mechaton, you will probably be interested in the new LEGO Architecture series, wherein iconic and majestic buildings are given their own collectors-style treatment in the little bricks. Check it out at If It’s Hip, It’s Here (way more in-depth then my breif dispatch can entail).

Speaking of If It’s Hip, It’s Here, they also tipped me off to Winkler + Noah Photography, particularly The Puppet Show. Intriguing and disturbing portraits of children, given some treatment to turn them into dolls. I leave it up to the reader as to how they feel about the images themselves, but it’s certainly some cutting commentary on how children tend to be viewed in contemporary society. Sample:

One of many child/puppet portraits.

One of many child/puppet portraits.

Whew. Well, final dispatch is on a lighter note: the remix artist behind the Peaches/Muppets mashup I’ve previously posted has done a similar thing for academy-award winners Three Six Mafia/Alice in Wonderland. (via Boing Boing)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION CITIZEN> YOUR COMPLIANCE IS APPRECIATED>END TRANSMISSION

Welcome to the inaugural New Music Tuesday here on 21db! NMT is usually about reviewing new music releases, but that’s not what I’m particularly interested in. I consume a lot of music, and I intend to talk about what’s new to me. Any music that I have procured since the last NMT is up for consideration. Old, new, indie, underground, mainstream, local, free, it’s all good. And, really, I hope to introduce y’all to rad new tunes!

Without further ado, the first 21dB New Music Tuesday: Waxploitation‘s Causes 2 benefit album and St. Vincent‘s Marry Me.

Causes 2

Causes 2

I only know about Causes 2 because I love The Decemberists. Being an unabashed fanboy, I added myself to their mailing list not too long ago. In addition to the sweetness of ordering The Hazards of Love early, I enjoy the pleasant ramblings that enter my internet-box once a month or so. The most recent missive included a promo for Causes 2, as it contains a live rendition of After The Bomb. I checked out the set list, and decided that it was totally worth my 8.95 to check it out (LCD Soundsystem, Matthew Dear and RJD2 all help). And, oh yah, the money goes toward Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam to aid in humanitarian efforts in Darfur. What’s not to like?

After giving it a couple of listens, it’s totally worth the money, but it’s not the greatest album I’ve ever heard. It’s about 1/3 totally rad, 1/3 good-but-unmemorable, and 1/3 really? like, for real? For the most electronica-influenced remixes and exclusive tracks, with some more world beat and indie-rockish stuff to spice it up.

My picks/new bands to check out: in addition to the aforementioned Decemberists (After the Bomb), Matthew Dear (When She Don’t Need Me) and RJD2 (Wherever), I will keeping an eye out for Black Moth Super Rainbow (Happy Melted City reminds me of the Samurai Champloo opening music) and Neon Neon (how can any dance track called I Lust U not rule?). I also like the My Morning Jacket Highly Suspicious Remix.

I recommend it if you’re into weird electronica-ish stuff AND/OR you want to feel good about yourself for making a largely symbolic effort to help Darfur. I will probably end up putting about half the album on my regular rotation, methinks.

St. Vincent - Marry Me

St. Vincent - Marry Me

Kyle: Can I borrow your car?

Me: Sure.

Kyle: Cool. I feel like I should give you a present to signify my gratitude.

Me: Yes, you should.

Next thing I know, there’s St. Vincent on my passenger seat. Well, not Annie Clark herself (St. Vincents street name), but a copy of Marry Me, which I believe is her debut album. The best way I can describe her sound is like a weird mashup of Jesca Hoop and My Brightest Diamond, but with not as polished of production. Don’t get me wrong, I really like her voice, and the album is very solid; I’m just a huge audio production nerd, and the recording quality of the CD I have is just not very high. That aside, I’ve given it a full listen-through about four times in less than two weeks, which is a good sign.

This album encompasses a wide variety of variations on a theme. That theme is, of course, “I got some pipes and really good music-writing abilities, don’t fuck with me”. My favorite track by far is Your Lips Are Red. Which sounds nothing like the rest of the album, but it gets me. Check it out:

Shockingly enough, I’m still behind, but I haven’t quite fallen beyond my 4-weeks-and-out deadline. This marks Week 18, and I have watched 15 films. Can I pull myself out of this hole? Only one way to find out….

Anyway.

Week 12: Rear Window. The Hitchcock classic is classic for a reason – it’s really, really freaking good. I’ve seen scenes from it in film classes, but finally rented it, and wow. I think North by Northwest is still my favorite Hitchcock, but Rear Window is up there. The treatment of paranoia, loneliness and just the urgent need to take action is both subtly powerful and extremely applicable to today’s society, and the treatment of gender roles and the reversal of the typical 50’s gendered dynamic is both surprising (coming from Hitchcock, one of the more…paternalistic directors ever to get behind a camera) and deftly handled. Overall, really a great piece of film, in case you didn’t know.

Week 13: The Hunger. Vampire movie? David Bowie? Susan Serandon? Freaking BAUHAUS?!?!? This movie was made for me!

Boy, was I wrong.

And not only is that the worst cutting of Bela Lugosi’s Dead I’ve ever heard, that is legitimately the BEST part of the movie. Seriously, it’s all downhill from there. It’s not even worth going into a plot summary. Just….don’t see it. Ever.

Week 14: Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I saw this back in the day, I was probably 12, but I really didn’t actually remember it at all. I own it, because I saw it for $7 at Target and figured that it would be worth having. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I was right! What an iconic and great action movie. The ending fight is, I think, a little unnecessarily long, but that’s pretty much the only problem I have. Robots are, after all, wicked cool. If you’re interested in the franchise, there’s actually a really solid article from a recent Wired talking about it, check it out!

Week 15: The Great Escape. The original, mind you! Like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, I watched this a couple of years ago for the first time, and in another intriguing parallel, I again did not remember how freaking long this movie is. Damn. But, again, totally worth it. A brilliant ensemble cast (including Steve McQueen! He’s so dreamy!), great pacing, genuine tension throughout the film, and a really powerful ending sequence (including Steve McQueen riding across all of Europe on a motorcycle while being pursued by Nazi’s). Most excellent. A great lazy-afternoon-with-nothing-to-do movie..

Ah, the rankings, as of 5/3/2009. If I manage to watch 2 movies a week for the next month, I will get back from the brink of failure…

New Releases

  1. Milk (Week 1)
  2. Watchmen (Week 11)
  3. Gran Torino (Week 2)
  4. Push (Week 10)

New To Me!

  1. Rear Window (Week 12)
  2. The Exorcist (Directors Cut) (Week 7)
  3. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Week 8 )
  4. Hellboy (Week 3)
  5. Serenity (Week 5)
  6. Formula 51 (Week 6)
  7. The Hunger (Week 13)

Old Favorites

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Week 9) tied w/The Great Escape (Week 15) – Don’t make me choose!
  2. Hook (Week 4)
  3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Week 14)

Crap, I’m behind again! A little. I’m one movie behind as of Sunday, so if I can fit in two this week I can catch up.

Week 9: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I own this as part of my continuing attempt to increase my knowledge of Westerns, and it has served me very well so far. I first watched it a couple of years ago, and seeing it the second time was really interesting. The stuff I love about the film is still there, but I definitely found more flaws the second time around. Well, not flaws, necessarily, but stylistic things that are a little jarring. The best way I can describe it is that it’s surprisingly Italian. I mean, obviously, given that it’s directed by Sergio Leone and is pretty much the iconic Spaghetti Western. But there’s a level of absurdity running through it (especially in the second captured-by-the-union sequence) that I didn’t remember from my first viewing, and many scenes of people just running around. Also, it’s really, really long.

That said, the climatic ending shootout remains one my favorite cinematic duels of all time; the entire ending sequence, really, from when Blondie gives the dead soldier his cigar to the end credits is filmically beautiful and emotionally grabbing.

Week 10 was Push. Now, based on the trailer, this looked like a really bad movie. But it’s directly relevant to a game project I’m working on, so when my friends put together a lets-go-to-the-movies to see it, I was in. And I was pleasantly surprised! So a group of people who have psychic powers get drawn into a plot that they have to stop to save their own lives, and maybe kinda the world. The main flaw of the movie is trying to stuff a lot of backstory and general “world-works-like-this” info into what, at it’s core, is an action movie. There’s about 3 hours worth of material crammed into 111 minutes of screen time, which makes the pacing awkward and some of the plot hard to follow.

On the plus side, however, the acting is mostly tolerable-to-good, the actual plot is interesting and has some nice twists in it, and the on-location shooting (the movies is set almost entirely in Hong Kong) is very well done and engaging. Oh yah, and the fight choreography is (excuse my capitals) AWESOME. It’s acteally really well done, original, integrates the characters powers in interesting ways, and on at least one occasion not at all what I had expected. It’s totally worth the three minutes to check out the telekinetic gun fight, which is one of the weaker fight scenes, overall.

Week 11 was Watchmen. Hooooo boy. I think I have some things to say, but in a seperate post. For now, be satisfied with the fact that I liked it; I thought it could have been better; and that I agree with what the majority of what my buddy Pat has to say on his blog Moving Violations, specifically:

[Watchmen] is a fairly impeccable adaptation, neatly putting forth the main plot of the book with just enough mainstream sensibility to make it acceptable at the multiplex. The visuals and the performances by Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are alone enough to recommend the film. Is it the best possible film version of Watchmen? No. By hewing so closely to the text and compromising the dark, almost nihilistic tone of the conclusion, Snyder undermines his own achievement and makes the film much less than it could have been.

So, Rankings! As of 3/23/09:

New Releases

  1. Milk (Week 1)
  2. Watchmen (Week 11)
  3. Gran Torino (Week 2)
  4. Push (Week 10)

New To Me!

  1. The Exorcist (Directors Cut) (Week 7)
  2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Week 8 )
  3. Hellboy (Week 3)
  4. Serenity (Week 5)
  5. Formula 51 (Week 6)

Old Favorites

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Week 9)
  2. Hook (Week 4)

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