Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Intramural Silliness

There is quite a bit of intramural silliness surrounding the election
of President Barack Obama. His critics, faced with the apparently
insoluble problem of his contradictory achievement, hold rallies, act
up at town hall meetings and call names. They can actually achieve
something there and, possibly, feel less impotent.

Does anybody remember when all the Chicken Littles were screaming
“the sky was falling!” just seven short months ago? I do. I know lots
of people who didn’t vote for President Obama who were mortally
afraid then who are not as scared, today. Yes, the epoch is pregnant
– and America groans to find a new paradigm.

Straight with The Chaser

Day five of the Milwaukee Film Festival.

The Chaser (
Chugyeogja), Hong Jin-Na's dark hued meditation on corruption and redemption hones in on Young-min Jee (an excellent Jung-woo Ha), former dirty cop and current amoral pimp, with little discernable distinction between the two, over the course of one long and hellish night.

Jee is in a pickle. He is late with his payment to his over-bosses while concurrently experiencing a cash flow problem caused by an inconvenient shrinkage in his stable of available call girls. Jee believes his girls are skipping town, while still owing him money, or are being snatched and sold to other pimps. He inadvertently discovers something much more terrible is going on when his bottom girl, Mi-jinn Kim (a heart-breaking performance by Yeong-hie Seo), goes missing after he forces her out of her sick bed, away from her seven year-old daughter and into the arms of a serial killer.

The Chaser exists in a cruel, god forsaken world where evil preens in all its permutations and goodness is snuffed out at every turn. It is a grim, rain soaked place, a brutal maze of tight, rabbit-warren neighborhoods where human bunnies hop, fornicate, fight, fart, fling feces - and get felleted alive.

A kinetic, edge-of-your-seat thriller that dredges deep into the heart of the darkness of Seoul, The Chaser is must see film noir that cements South Korea place on the world cinematic map.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Azur and Asmar: the Prince's Quest

This afternoon I took advantage of an opportunity to see Azur &
Asmar: the Prince's Quest
on the big screen. Apparently, the
gorgeously rendered 3D computer animated movie with two-
dimensional, painted backgrounds and non-photo realistic rendering
has not been wildly distributed because a female character's nipples
are visible during an early breastfeeding scene.

(I admit I was initially started - but not shocked and saddened -
to see realistically rendered nipples on a brown woman's chest in
an animated movie - America is a very young country).

I was lucky to see this feature on the big screen thanks to the on-
going Milwaukee Film Festival. If you get the opportunity, run,
do not walk, to see it.

The elaborate and beautiful vistas presented in this movie are
extraordinary and the dark-haired, brown-eyed Asmar (and
his mother) are as beautifully rendered as the blonde, blue-eyed
Azur. Further, it is a captivating and engaging tale reminiscent of
1001 Arabian Nights.

I highly recommend it.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Milwaukee Film Festival - Modus Operandi

Went to see Modus Operandi tonight on the second night of the
inaugural Milwaukee Film Festival. The screening was held at the
Oriental Theater, the last remaining local movie emporium. The
cavernous theater has been converted into a two-plex, but they
have retained the ornate rococo charm of the main auditorium
which is chocked full of "oriental" kitsch - including a trio of
Buddhas, each in its own illuminated cove, on either side of the
theater and, oddly, several replicas of the mechanical woman from
Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Modus Operandi was sold as "Sexy women, CIA agents, spies,
villains and femme fatales populate this blaxploitation-meets-art-
house story of revenge, which follows a retired C.I.A. agent deter-
mined to find his wife's murderer." Which is all true, but the whole
enterprise is so ineptly and indulgently executed that it is truly
painful to watch.

The only thing worse than the writing,directing and editing (all
by Frankie Latina, a jack of all trades and the master of none) is
the acting.

(Mr. Latina was in the theater to introduce the movie and to bask
in pre-movie applause. One of us had presence of mind to be
embarrassed, afterwards).

Watching Modus Operandi is like watching one of Andy Sedaris'
randomly brutal bikini movies without the former Playboy
Playmates - or the production values.

Watching Modus Operandi is like watching one of Russ Meyer's
aimlessly messy non-sequitor movies - without the bodacious ta-tas
(you can forgive a lot with bodacious ta-tas - witness the whole Pam
Grier oeuvre).

In other words, Modus Operandi has nothing to recommend it. Not
even the great Danny Trejo who is given precious little to do before
ending the movie by taking out a bad guy with a corkscrew to the
eye. By the time the interminable 77 minute movie ended, I wanted
to corkscrew my eyes out, too.

~(no) rave!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moon Man Madness

Having just surfed through two plus hours of the VMAs (it is ama-
zing how quick it goes when you surf through all the commercials...
and all the rock and country acts), I am struck that Kanye West
spoiling "the moment" of a white girl is more controversial than
Jack Black telling everyone to "hold hands and pray to Lord Satan."
Only in America.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Black People Behaving Badly

Joe Wilson must have a fairy godmother because this weekend
he received his fondest wish: not one but two prominent negroes
showing their chocolate bum bums and knocking him several
pegs down as the topic du jour. First uber goddess Serena
Williams suffers an epic meltdown on, of all places, Arthur Ashe
Court. Oh, it had everything: Tall, extremely intimidating black
woman spouting foul language at a tiny Asian woman. Scary Spice,

And then there was a liberal application of Kanye pepper at the
VMAs. Let's not get it twisted. I love Kanye. I even love crazy
Kanye. I ain't mad at him. It is, in fact, my fondest wish that one
day black folks will stick together like Republicans.

Crying Liar in a crowded Senate chamber

When is it OK to cry "Liar!" in a crowded Senate chamber? The
lack of civility evidenced by South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson (in
response to President Barack Obama's comment about illegal
aliens) encapsulates the rabid nature of the disloyal opposition.
I have been lectured most of my adult life by a succession of
apologists for one Republican administration after another that
if I didn’t respect the president, I should, at the very least, respect
the office. Imagine my lack of surprise when, once again, one of
their number has proven unable to walk the walk after talking
the talk.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What to do while visiting strip clubs in Atlanta

Things I learned in a strip club:

1. Make sure you have valid ID (not having been carded - ever -
I was surprised when I was nearly denied entry to my first
strip club (at age 53) because I did not have a valid ID with
me. As the very attractive woman at the desk told me
"All I do is check IDs! If you don't have an ID what am I
supposed to do?" A valid question).
2. Nobody strips.
3. Be courteous ("Would you like a dance?" "Why, now that you
mention it, yes I would!")
4. Keep your hands inside the ride at all times.
5. Remain seated until the ride is over.
6. Keep your tray in the upright position.
7. Always say "yes, please" and "thank you."
8. Never give a stripper a twenty dollar bill for a five dollar lap