Gleek Hunt!

Sniping gleeks as if it were no thang. Holla!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

V For Vendetta

The graphic novel is better. It's much thicker in terms of ideology and is more difficult to swallow, which is one of the reasons its stronger than the film. The film is a watered down version of the novel that will appeal to anyone who is currently unsatisfied with world, and particularly American politics. Many plot points are in line with those of the novel, but, because of the film watering down and streamlining the content, they are charged differently, in that they mean somewhat different things in the film than they did in the novel. The film's greatest adaptation atrocity lies in the love story it concocts between Evie, Natalie Portman's character, and V. In the novel, V wasn't human, he was the sophisticated and psychotic embodiment of humanistic anarchy. In the film, he's a tragic, humanistic visionary, whose passion is reignited with love for Evie. It severely weakens the film in a polemic sense, while, I guess, strengthens it in a melodramatic sense, for the average filmgoer. Fluff, if you ask me. The ending, though it serves its purpose, feels very unlikely.

As a film it's decent action movie, but staggers beneath the weight of the massive exposition required by its subject matter. I could talk about how its visually fun to watch and the acting, but it really wouldn't serve a purpose, other than to tell you it was well done and served the story very well. V's lair is particularly well-designed.

So, what's the moral of the story? That totalitarianism is bad because it oppresses people from being who they really are. The film particularly champions the oppressed homosexuals in the story, and tells you that their ideological leanings lie not necessarily with human freedom, but within their own set of morals. The film isn't championing pure human freedom, it's championing its own version of freedom, but covertly so. Its subversive because it sneaks the jabs at current conservative ideology, particularly slams against government spying, corporate/government financial deals, and the Christian church.

I'm not advocating totalitarianism. I'm not advocating religious hypocrisy or self-serving government conspiracy. I'm also not advocating what the film touts as true freedom for the masses. What I am advocating is a true representation of what freedom is, and that's not what the film sells you. I'm looking forward to a story that really advocates being open-minded, where the church isn't demonized as simply pedophiles, but taken for what is at its heart, where people who think homosexuality is wrong treat gay people with respect while disagreeing with them.

In all it's freedomistic optimism, the film also fails in dealing with the aftermath of the revolution its story advocates. What rules do you put on society? It doesn't even attempt to mention the need for such a thing, and this disappoints me. In an age where teenagers walk around malls in Che Guevara shirts, its important to teach responsibility with power and independence. Romance may lie in revolution, but the real work exists in maintaining order.

Overall, it's an entertaining, thinking man's action movie with a flawed ideology. V is an incredibly compelling character, and if you're so intrigued by the film, I highly recommend the graphic novel.

16 Blocks

Bruce Willis is the usual broken-down cop. Things get sticky when he's asked to transfer a convict/witness to the court house and the local law enforcement doesn't want him to make it. I won't give it away, cause it's a good twist. Not an amazing movie, but entertaining, and the film's strong point is its moral. I can't remember the last time I saw a film advocating responsibility for one's actions so blatantly. Mos Def's fun to watch, knowing he grew up around people like the one he's portraying. He's one of my favorites these days.

Makes me think of History of Violence, a more artful film with a different message. If anyone's seen both or one of these films, let's get a discussion going regarding responsibility and consequences of past actions. I highly recommend both of these films, though I don't recommend History of Violence to those sensitive to strong violent and sexual content.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dave Chappelle's Block Party

If you get a chance, I recommend the docu-concert film Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Ol' Dave sets up a block party in Brooklyn with his favorite artists like Kanye West, The Roots, and Erykah Badu, and then buses in people from his hometown in Ohio.

The resulting film presents many interesting characters, but fails in following up on them throughout the concert and afterward. There's plenty of footage of Dave goofing off in the rehearsal space with his high-profile buddies like ?uestlove and Mos Def, and it is here that the film's humor really shines. Chappelle is a funny and likeable guy, and this is what really carries the film, along with the fantastic music performances.

Hip hop can be a boring live act, but the concert is filmed unobtrusively and the performers are active and engaging. The house band is fantastic, and no one performs to tracks. Hardly a DJ and turntables can be seen. The film culminates with a reuniting of The Fugees, and yes they perform "Killing Me Softly." Fantastic.

Chappelle's main point is bringing people together. Though his racially charged humor offended some during the run of his show on Comedy Central, his true motives are revealed here, though some contradictory evidence rears its head in two segments. Dead Prez, a hip hop duo, sing a song that says something about "rushin' the crackers in city hall" and that their community won't be good until they "get all the crackers out." Dave applauds them, saying that songs like these will never get played on the radio. The other segment features the son of a slain Black Panther, who demands freeing the New York three on stage during a concert.

With all of Chappelle's feel-good humanism, especially in the final scenes, these two moments feel odd. Why are these black power messages tolerated? Did they not seem contradictory to those involved? Were they meant to be contradictory? Perhaps. These message could be answered during a scene where Wyclef Jean speaks to the marching band Chappelle bused in from Ohio, telling them to not blame white people, and "go and get theirs." Jean is apparently from Haiti, and immigrated to the US, teaching himself English.

Overall, a fun film, lots of insights into the innerworkings of the concert and its members. Keep an eye out for the small scenes involving ?uestlove from The Roots. Very intelligent and articulate. He knows how to tell a compelling story and you can tell the guy knows his music. Check it out.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Best Picture?

Why Capote Should've Won Best Picture:
Anyone can direct a melodrama and tell you what to think. Capote ives you the situations and lets you react to them. Capote leaves you disturbed not because the music had shrill violins or there was lots of creepy editing. It disturbs you because it presents you with a story that's genuinely disturbing and does so in a way that isn't patronizing. I like to be treated with respect by a director. Thank you, Bennet Miller. May you continue to receive huge accolades. I'll certainly continue to sing the praises of your fil

Ben Folds In Concert

Ziggy asked me if I was going to blog about the Ben Folds show, so here I am. For some reason I decided that I wasn't going to, but Ziggy asked. He said to mention the fact that Ben asked if UI had a music school.

Ben is probably my favorite performer I've ever seen, along with Arcade Fire and Paul McCartney. I love it when an artist talks between songs. Ben not only did that, but he was funny and told stories, which is rare. It felt like we were hanging out in his living room while he did his thing. The set consisted mostly of songs from his most recent album "Songs for Silverman," but he did plenty of classics like "Brick," "One Angry Dwarf And Two Hundred Solemn Faces," "Rockin' The Suburbs," "The Ascent of Stan," "Still Fighting It," and "Army." Yes, he had the crowd sing the horn parts on "Army." And yes, it was more amazing than on Ben Folds Live. He even had the crowd sing harmony parts on an older song I didn't recognize. Amazing. I hate the crowd full of frat kids at UI shows, but I have to hand it to them. They could sing reasonably well.

His backing band was a bassist and a drummer, so it was basically the Five with new members, which was OK by me. They sounded fantastic. Ben did a few songs by himself on the piano midway through the set, then the band came back. They closed with "Narcolepsy" and nearly blew the roof off the dome.

The highlight of the show, aside from the amazing performance and Mr. Folds' smashing humor and presence, was his regaling the crowd with tales of working with Hollywood doing a few songs for the upcoming animated feature Over The Hedge. He said they asked him to rework the lyrics to "Rockin' The Suburbs" and perform it with Avril Lavine. I'm not kidding. And he said he'd do it, though not without hesitation. "You'd do it, too, if they asked you," he said. I don't blame him. He said that he submitted the lyric "Reading better Homes and Gardens, tryin' to drop a log" but it got rejected. I'm sure he'll get a good laugh from it once its over and done with.

I'm buying Ben Folds' iTunes session right now, so I can hear more of Ben's great stories. I'll go see him again anytime I can. Thanks for the evening, Mr. Folds.