Thursday, February 28, 2008

He sure doesn't trust women

8. "Past All Dishonor"
This wonderful read is longer than "The Postman Always Rings Twice" but goes by just as quickly. The 1946 novel is another piece of hard boiled fiction from James M. Cain. A young Confederate supporter goes to California, falls in love, sells out everything he believes in for the woman, ends up losing it all. It's not so much what happens as the way Cain tells it. Like his other works, the main character is believable and the setting, during the Civil War, surprisingly doesn't distract from the work.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Local boy

27. "H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer"
This film is awful and there’s really no one to blame.

H.H. Holmes is America’s first serial killer. He built his ‘murder castle’ in Chicago. Many visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair stayed at his home and never came out. Interesting stuff. The problem is that there is no footage of the killer (there are two photographs used throughout the documentary), the house was burned long ago (and is now a post office) and all of the victim’s families are dead. In other words, there isn’t a lot to work with. Nonetheless, this short documentary is still worth watching because of the subject matter.

Does anyone like reenactments? Have they ever helped the story? Maybe “America’s Most Wanted.” Other than one television show about people that are still alive, reenactments should be done only in a court of law.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Baseball might be shrinking my noggin

7. "Three Nights in August"
This book was recommended to me by a college baseball coach. He said it's the only book about baseball he enjoyed. I enjoyed it quite a bit myself.

The Buzz Bissinger book does a good job marrying the belief that baseball is all heart and that baseball is all statistics. Reading "Moneyball" a month ago made this book even more compelling. Bissinger does an excellent job drawing in the reader and makes LaRussa's life seem one dimensional in a way that's good for the game. It didn't hurt that I'm a Cubs fan and reading about Prior and Wood in 2003 puts what has happened into perspective.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The cat is drinking the water in the juice glass

Since the 52 books goal isn't going so well and since I'm watching "Maury" before work, I've decided to set another goal dealing with literature. In addition to reading 52 books this year, I will also read all of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction books in the next three years. I've already read "A Confederacy of Dunces" and "The Old Man and the Sea" so knocking out the other 51 (I think there are 51 others) shouldn't be that difficult.

The following goal will be slightly harder. Once the Pulitzer list is done, I will attempt to read at least one major work from each author awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I will not read the text in the work's original language, the work has to be in English. Other than that, it's all fair game. Since the Nobel Prize goes back 47 years before the Pulitzer, I'm going to give this goal three years.

So, there you have it. This is what I'll be doing in my free time for the next five years.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hooray sick day

26. "Confessions of a Superhero"
Hooray Netflix!

Since Netflix switched to unlimited viewing hours I've been watching a lot of documentaries. Since I'm still on the couch, why not view yet another film set in Los Angeles?

"Confessions of a Superhero" is the type of film I wouldn't have seen if not for Netflix. It's about the people that dress us as superheros in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre. It follows Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. The film is engrossing and like most good documentaries, you want to find out what each hero is doing now. Each person could be laughed at or sympathized with or dismissed for being crazy. Please don't dismiss.

I should crack a book

25. "Sunset Blvd."
According to the American Film Institute, this is the 12th best American film of all time. Therefore, there really isn't much I could say. If anyone has any desire to learn about the film, all they have to do is Google the film title and could read for weeks.

I do not think it belongs at 12. Maybe I would have liked it more if I wasn't sick.

24. "Two Days in April"
A manly documentary.

Four college football players signed by the IMG sports agency are brought to camps and games and other hob nob sessions to better their chances in the 2006 NFL Draft. We watch the players bitch about their performance, praise god, take free stuff because it's free and eat a ton of fried foods on draft day. We get to see the prospects not get selected in the first or second round. Three of the four go in the third round, a disappointment because at one point all three were projected to go in the first and make almost double the money. The last player, the one I liked the most, does not get drafted. We learn in the post script that he was invited to the New York Jets to try out. He does not make the cut. The other three signed 4 year contracts for 2.3 million dollars.

The film is good. You get a glimpse on what it seems to be like for draft prospectives. After watching this film, my only thought was why would anyone want to play professional football? It really is a meat market. Give me baseball. Give me David Wells.

23. "Kinsey"
If I was 55 instead of 25 I would have enjoyed this film more. It's difficult to understand the controversy over Kinsey's study of human sexual behavior. Maybe if I didn't live in a city and didn't go to college and was raised religious. Then again, if I didn't live in a city, didn't go to college and was raised religious, I probably wouldn't have seen "Kinsey."

Liam Neeson does a great job in the role of Alfred Kinsey. Laura Linney goes a great job in the role of Clara McMillen, the wife of Kinsey. (The last sentence could have been omitted. Has Laura Linney ever not done a great job in any role?)

The film covers Kinsey from 25 to 60. We learn that he loves insects and can't really relate to anyone on a human level. He collects gall wasps. Once he collects one million samples. Up until this point, it is Kinsey's greatest accomplishment. The Indiana University professor has a visit from newlyweds. They want to know why the new bride is so "frigid." Kinsey doesn't know exactly what to tell them. There was no compatant literature or any scientific date on human sexuality. Kinsey decides to collect the data and write the literature. For the rest of his life, he interviews people about their sexual histories, sleeps with his wife and others because he wants to, tells his wife who he sleeps with because he doesn't want to keep any secrets, films his staff and self having sex with each other, releases books that cause a ruckus and doesn't back down from his scientific research.

"Kinsey" could have been 10 hours and still left a lot out. His relationship with his children is only glossed over. The final days of Kinsey are never revealed. His childhood, what made him become so detached, could be it's own film.

22. "Miracle"
I get trapped by the ABC Saturday night movie. It's why I saw half of "Cast Away" and "The Terminal." Since I caught "Miracle" from the beginning I figured, what the hell, I might as well feel good with a feel good movie.

Did you know that the 1980 US Hockey team defeated communism? Well, they did. Do you believe in miracles?

Kurt Russell is always fun to watch. His role as Coach Herb Brooks was well executed. All of the US players fit in all the stereotypes I expected from college aged hockey players. The hair was spot on. Hair in hockey is very important.

"Miracle" is exactly what you expect it to be. Everyone feels good at the end. The players become a family. Everyone learns something. This film was made so gym teachers have something to show in class on mornings after benders.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hooray things!

I saw a classic film and read a popular novel and my faith in film and literature is higher than ever.

21. "Freaks"
Why did I wait so long to watch the entire film? It was part of the curriculum in a film 101 class my freshman year of college but we only examined a small portion. I'm kicking myself for not sitting through the entire 62 minute film.

The story behind the film is just as interesting as the film. Director Tod Browning's career tanked after this film. Most of the actors in the film were ashamed of the product. The studio distanced itself for years. It was banned in the United Kingdom for 30 years.

The story of the film is pretty simple. The "freaks" are honorable and trustworthy and good natured. The strong man and pretty lady (I'm not sure what role she played in the circus other than being pretty), the non "freaks" are assholes. Everyone gets what they have coming in the end. Simple and great.

6. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"
Most people that read regularly know or at least recognize this book. I was lucky to not know much about it, other than it sold a lot of copies, before I read page 1. Rather than spoil any interest, I'll avoid any description of the text (not that it would matter much, this thing has devolved into "I like this, etc." and "I hate this other thing, etc.").

The library in the school I work at has a lot of books it needs to inventory. This is one of them. The librarian invited me to read any of these books and to give him a basic description. I gladly said sure. I borrowed this book on Friday. I began it on the bus ride home. I picked it up again Saturday at work and ignored the clientele of the bar in order to finish it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hot Dog

Some of the lyrics for the theme to "The Patty Duke Show"

Our Patty loves to rock and roll,
A hot dog makes her lose control

20. "Trailer Park Boys: The Movie"
"Trailer Park Boys" is a television show based in Canada. I caught some episodes of it while in Amsterdam. I enjoyed the show quite a bit. The show airs on BBC America but I don't have BBC America so the film will have to do.

It's funny and I laughed a lot.

"The New York Times" reviewer gave it one star. I like it even more.

19. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Kelsey didn't like that Mr. Burton left out the chorus piece. She also thought his common-law wife or whatever wasn't that good. She also thought Mr. Depp was ideal for the role, that no other actor could have done as good as job.

I didn't care that the chorus was left out. I thought Helena Bonham Carter was good. I thought Colin Farrel and Robert Carlyle could have been a good Sweeney Todd.

The movie is worth seeing but not nearly as great as the press makes it out to be. Maybe I'm just bored of Tim Burton.

18. "The Squid and the Whale"
I did not like this film. The story is weak. The performances are excellent, specifically William Baldwin. It's a waste of talent.

Why do people like this film? Is it because Wes Anderson produced it? Is it the indie rock poster? Fuck it. I want a hot dog and a story that doesn't involve a drunk 10 year old and a teenager based on Woody Allen.