Friday, May 04, 2007

Movie Review: "Zoo"

Zoo has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It is one of the most pretentious and boring movies ever. If you have any inclination toward suicide, watch this movie!

Zoo
is a true story about a man who died from internal bleeding after having sex with a horse. Actually, the film is about the "zoophiles" who engaged in this. It is not really a documentary since everyone is an actor, but it is taken from several audio interviews.

Problem 1:

The music is horrible. It is overbearing and obviously intended to make you feel "poetic" or "haunting" as some asinine critics have said. There's no subtlety at all about the director's manipulation of his audience.

Problem 2:

One-half to 3/4 of the film is poorly lit or actually a black screen. I don't go to movies to watch a black screen. Again, this seems to be another manipulative device used to make the audience feel "moody".

Problem 3:

The whole film is one long monotone of audio interviews. Almost the entire film is a voice-over of interviews with the different people involved. That wouldn't be a big problem if there were actually something interesting to see. In this case, it would be better on radio.

Except, it wouldn't be better on radio. Almost every interview in this movie is dull. One interview in particular stands out: one of the actors is interviewed against a white background (finally) who talks on and on about nothing. He is pointless and the director insists on cutting his one scene up several times. Actor talking, black screen, actor talking, black screen, etc. No reason whatsoever for it.

Problem 4:

The acting is atrocious. While you're hearing the boring interviews you get to see the actors who make this film look like a parody of bad silent film melodramas. Every action is overdone, there are several moments in slow motion, tears abound. I've seen better acting in dramatic re-enactments.

Overall I would say--don't see this film. It is complete crap. And I have a bone to pick with some film reviewers. There seems to be several critics who say how "lyrical" and "poetic" and "daring" this film is. This is actually the kind of film that turns people off of independent or arty films. There are many good independent or art-house films out there. Don't waste your time with this.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dancing as Salvation

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. --Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

I do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to be than a good dancer. For the dance is his ideal, also his fine art; finally also the only kind of piety he knows, his "divine service." -- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

I should not believe in a God who does not dance. --Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education: dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen? --Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche




After quite awhile of sedentary pursuits I went out dancing last night. I'm a horrible dancer and will probably need time to recover now, but it was quite fun. Now that I am not young and single and no longer feel the need to go to a club to try to get laid, I can relax with my woman and just let my body make all the decisions.

There is a freedom in physical activity that just can't be acquired through the intellect. Whether it is dancing, or running a few laps, or pounding something with a sledgehammer, or sexual activity, we are animals that need to exercise our physique. Being a part of the animal kingdom we need to remember the joy in physical activity (just as bear cubs or playful dogs "know").

We should strive to live the ancient Greek ideal. Not only should we pursue intellectual goals in our education but need to stress the physical. A well-rounded person should be in good health.

One of the most pernicious ideas given to our culture through Christianity is the horror of the body. From the prudishness concerning sex to the extreme derangement of ascetic behavior, Western culture stopped caring about the body. Fortunately, our growing secularism is coming back to appreciating the importance of our bodies--by way of science. Contentment might well reside in a balance between what we need for our mind and what we need for our body. Better yet, we should realize there's not even a schism between the two and are both the same thing.

My advice: dance! read! fuck! meditate! Just be aware of going too far in any direction.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Movies and How They Fail Us

latimes.com has an Op-Ed piece by Neal Gabler concerning the loss of centrality with films in our contemporary culture. He comes up with many excuses for why this is so without ever coming to the obvious: films suck. In general, movies coming out of Hollywood are a complete waste of time.

True, the internet, video games, YouTube, tabloid journalism have chipped away at the popularity of movies, but I don't think that's the whole picture. If films were really good they would easily hold an audience's attention for longer than the 20 minutes of special effects they contain. Now that Oscar season is over I have from now until November/December to be annoyed by all the horrible genre films that come out: shall I watch the comic book hero film with poor dialogue and cheesy characters? shall I go to the theater and enjoy the chick flick with stereotypical characters who end up singing a song from the '80s while they share in the glow of "good" female relationships? or maybe I can sit through another remake of a classic horror film that gets worse every time it's remade?

Hollywood studios insult their audience's intelligence by assuming we'll spend $10-$15 a ticket, $8 popcorn, and $5 drinks to watch a film we'll forget a few minutes after it's over. I can remember how exciting it was for people when Pulp Fiction came out in 1994. There was a sense that this was a film that expanded our consciousness and changed the way we viewed a film or narrative. I don't really get that sense anymore. The thought did come to me that maybe I'm just getting older and I don't connect, but I love Titanic and I was well beyond the 12-yr. old demographic that everyone says it was for when it came out. That movie, while it has its flaws, is definitely an experience that makes you want to go to the theater to experience it.

People seem to be turning to television for good entertainment now. Talk around the proverbial "water cooler" concerns characters on TV dramas when it comes to fiction. I read an article not too long ago about the loss of screenwriters to television. Audiences like good fiction, characters that have an emotional impact, stories that are interesting. I first saw Urban Cowboy a few years ago when I rented it on DVD. What struck me is how rarely a film like that gets made anymore by major studios in Hollywood. It is not the greatest film on earth, but it has a story, believable characters, an almost sociological feel for setting. I'm sick at how little of this ever comes across in films anymore. It seems every studio green lights a film on the basis of the gimmick it can offer--fire, CGI, or happy endings. Movies need good writers, not more special effects and gimmicks.

If Hollywood really is interested in making films that matter to the public they have to stop allowing business executives to make all the decisions. They don't have to make a timeless classic every time they set out to film something. But they should stay away from making nothing but gimmicky films that are all fluff and go for the lowest common denominator. They don't seem to see how they are slowly killing their own industry.