Record of the year

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Party and Bullshit in the USA by Notorious B.I.G. and Miley Cyrus

I was first turned onto this by my good friend Nathandernal (Nate) Larkin-Connolly on his blog...

My life is now different after hearing it.  Rarely do we have an experience so fulfilling on so many levels.  The only time I listen to the radio is when I drive with dad.  We were going to a Jets game with my little brother so Z100 was on.

Miley Cyrus "Party in the USA" came on.

I never thought this could exist.  Jack White, after receiving an award from Dublin, Ireland's prestigious Trinity College, spoke about authenticity.  His quotes were taken wildly out of context later on blogs, but essentially what he said was that in some ways he considered Britney Spears more authentic than guys like Bob Dylan.  He was not criticizing Dylan in any way, but simply referring to his desire to tell stories not his own.  Britney is true to herself, only tells her own story, sings about what she knows and wants to sing about, knows her limits, knows her strengths, and owns them all.  She succeeds for those reasons.  Just to be safe, I'll make clear that Dylan succeeds because he's as much of a creative genius and student of the human condition as has existed period.

The Box

This movie was much better than I expected.  That doesn't mean I loved it, but I definitely didn't hate it (well, maybe I hated it, but I hated it less than I thought I would).  I left and asked two girls leaving who looked college age what they thought.  They both shared zero understanding of the story they had just been told.  I tried to explain it to them, focusing on the point that it's simpler than they thought, but they still didn't get it.

I doubt revealing plot elements here will ruin anyone's day, but honestly just don't read this if you care.

The movie frames itself as this big, deep puzzle, but it's rather easily summed up.  When NASA sent a ship to Mars, they brought something back.  Through a bolt of lightning the Martians possessed the would-be deceased Frank Langella character with the unnecessarily dramatic name of Arlington Steward.  Steward acts as a proxy for the Martians, who want to run tests on human beings to essentially decide if they are worthy of living--for if their living would mean eventually cohabiting Mars.  The eponymous Box marks the beginning of a series of moral tests which obviously we all fail, choosing self interest over what we know to be right.  All of this is revealed through dialogue in only a few scenes, which are few and far between, with a whole lot of why am I on the edge of my seat? in between.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thinking Contextually in the Existential Whodunit

This is an article I wrote for The Brooklyn Rail.  They included about 1/3 of what I wanted to, so I'll post the rest of it later, but here's what they have.  You can read it on their site here:

I recently wrote on Lars von Trier’s Antichrist and much of what I wondered about was the maker’s intention. Specifically, what was von Trier’s choice and what was a mistake? I loved the film and found it quite powerful, however, I am convinced that there are several instances, in the final third of the film especially, that create contradictions and were most likely mistakes, possibly due to von Trier’s alleged unstable mental state. Or perhaps they were meant to be representative of said mental state.