Monday, July 31, 2006

Lucky # Slevin

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI saw Lucky Number Slevin a month or two ago thanks to a friend giving me free tickets.

It ended up costing me a night of productivity

It was a gangster noir fairy tale where everyone is bad but to varying degrees. Even the guys you think are good are mired in past mistakes.

The Plot: Josh Hartnet is Slevin is an unlucky man who gets mistaken for a friend whose apatment he is currently staying in. Two opposing gangsters at war with each other live in opposing apartments which they never leave out of fear of the other. They both recruit Slevin to off the other, while being manipulated by an enigmatic assassin named Mr. Goodkat.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting At least that is what you think is the plot. Midway through act 2 the bottom falls out and the story careens in a different directions and then slams you to the big surprise and everybody who is anybody in the story dies.
This story seems to happen in that private little world adjacent to the Tarantino universe where everyone who is anyone is super cool, speaks in pop culture smart ass and violence rains down on the wicked, which in a movie where everyone is a bad guy means everyone buys it at the end.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt brought to mind the movie Payback staring Mel Gibson, a movie I liked enough to bootleg the DVD, but not enough to outright buy for more than 5 bucks. The movie, which also stars Luci Liu as a mobbed up dominatrix, (a 180 from her role in Slevin,) features a down and out thug who works to tear down a crime organization.
There is a mood conveyed in the lighting and polish of Payback that I see in Slevin. The walls of the apartment Slevin and Lindsey (Luci Liu) live in are art deco cool. The two apartments of the controlling gangsters are posh high rises with stairs and a classy sense of space. This is important in a movie where a plot point is their inability to leave the building. The set designs are great, all the wallpapers and backgrounds are cool and stand out just enough for you to notice.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The acting in the movie is cool, everyone staying at this charismatic energy level despite occasionally having to make absurd decisions. Bruce Willis is Mr. Goodkat, the high price assassin who seems to be pulling the string of this outfit gets to play dangerous and stoic.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMorgan Freeman is the boss of the black mob, and plays a little looser than he often gets the chance to be. It is the silver tongued Morgan Freeman who is quick to smile and yet be dangerous like his role in street smart, as opposed to quiet wisdom Morgan Freeman in his soulful best friend roles. (see Shawshank, Forgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Batman Begins).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting “Sir” Ben Kingsley plays the Rabbi, the opposing boss, as a smart yet brutal man of God who plays it like a shark. (Nicole loved him.) Stanley Tucci also shows up in the movie as a somewhat smaller role as a tough detective. He meets a dark end for old mistakes and one is left to wonder if he had spent any time trying to redeem himself in the interim years. (You won’t know what I am talking about until you see it.) Hartnet holds his own in the movie, playing Slevin as a smart ass everyman in a world of crooks. He doesn’t play too smart or too dumb until he needs to be anything.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingLuci Liu plays cutesy little Asian neighbor that is also Hartnet’s love interest. It is a relationship built on Liu’s quirky cuteness that is a little less presence than the roles she has attempted of before. It is hard to talk about a lot of the story without revealing the double crosses. The movie is neo noir, with the concepts of alienation and human brutality at the forefront. Slevin gets punched in the gut every five minutes or thrown out of cars. The bad guys hold a mysterious power over his life until he turns the tables to fight back. Slevin as always turns out to be the smart little man in a big machine. People get shot and one or two things get blown up. It was an enjoyable time but pay attention until the end or you will miss all the turns in the plot.

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Sunday, July 9, 2006

Dave Chappelle: The Lost

Dave Chappelle the lost episodes returned to television tonight. It was funny but not as funny as if Dave was on the show. The skits seem empty without him joking with the audience in between them.

It was appropriate that there was a Tupac skit that made fun of how often Tupac songs come out, and how many think they are relevant to today’s times. I say appropriate because the Dave Chappelle Lost Episodes Season was a lot like the Post death Tupac albums. It is a hallow imitation of the once brilliant artist that could be lost to us in that medium. Sure the old stuff still stands as excellent but it seems like the magic is gone without the benefit of their physical presence. It helps you to understand the actual gravity that personalities like the late great Shakur, and now Dave lent to their material. Dave was an affable guy, whose stand up gives you the impression that he just walked up to you in the supermarket and started telling jokes. His stage routine is like sitting around and playing video games with your best friend whose commentary is spot on hilarious. Without Dave in the room the show just seems like the dropping he left behind. It is like Puffy carving up Biggie outtakes just to squeeze a few more bucks out of a lost legacy. It is sad, and on the one hand I feel like I will take what I can get, but on the other I feel like I am selling the good memories short by continuing to follow this pap.

So, I caught the show. I would review it but I just don’t want to. I remember the first time I found out that Dave was going to have a show. Nicole was living in the apartment in West Wood, the one with the tremendous view of the city. I have loved Dave Chappelle since Robin Hood Men in Tights, which is a glaringly awful movie, but saw him interview for it when it came out and I thought, hey that guy is funny. My friends and I all have running gags from his whole stand up routines like “sprinkle some crack on him and let’s get out of here.” When I heard he was going to have a comedy show I knew I was in for the long haul. I remember hearing those old guys belt the anthem at the beginning and Chappelle walked out and I knew I was in for something magical. The first season rocked, the second season rocked, kicked aysh and then drove me to the hospital and paid for the damages. This illicit third season seems like a bad third date that makes you wonder why she’s acting this way after some really stupendous time together. I know it's not like the guy is dead, but there was this part of him that he was willing to share with us for this brief moment and now it's kinda gone, and we aren't likely to get it back. I hate losing things like that.

I have said it before, but I hate losing things. I really hate losing shows that I am in love with when it is wholly unnecessary for them to be cut down in their prime. I have a limited understanding about why Dave left. I have made my peace with that pain. The new episodes only drudges that pain up for one last kick in the crotch. And, as Rollins and Shatner say on Has Been: “I can’t get behind that.”

I guess I'll stick with my season 1 & 2 DVD's

Friday, July 7, 2006

What I learned from Animaniacs

Listening to the Animaniacs song got me on this kick to go looking for more clips on YouTube. This gave me access to tons of their music and information.
So I repost here what I learned on Animaniacs.
First, the theme songs:

The Animaniacs

Pinky And the Brain

Then the Educational moments:

Be careful what you eat

The US Presidents

The Brain Teaches you... the parts of the brain

Yakko teaches you the planets

The Senses Song

And last but definitely not least, my favorite of all. Yakko Warner teaches you the nations of the world.

I will be honest and say that I learned every one of these at one point in highschool just to be able to recite them. Years later when I had to learn the continents of Africa I did so using Yakko's song. It was way more salient in my head since I had already learned it in High school. I aced that exam.

Pinky and the Brain MD

I am not a super huge fan of House. I watch it sometimes, and everyone else around me seems to love it.
I found this online and it made me crack up. I was a huge fan of pinky and the Brain. That show was brilliantly cerebral for all its silliness.

it makes me smile just to hear the song again.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Messing with Sasquatch

I love this commercial.
especially the part at the very end, where the sasquatch gets his revenge.