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Archive for July, 2007

Movie Week: Day #3

In which I blog a movie a day for one week…sort of.

Initially, I thought this movie would be a fun send-up of art school and those who attend/teach there. It is that, but it’s more dark-comedy-meets-murder-mystery than satire. It surprised me–in that it was better than I’d expected–but I’m left with a bitter taste (and I actually saw it more than one week ago; the bitterness remains).

There were the stereotypes that–after teaching at an art school for a semester last year–were immediately recognizable and funny. But behind the humor was a profound cynicism, something I saw in my students last year to some degree, but which the film brings to a new level. None of my students admitted to the aspiration of “Great Artist” or some equally idealist (and romantic) notion; they were well aware of job pressures and the market–some, as college freshman, better than me–but didn’t strike me as deeply cynical.

Now, how serious to take the movie? Or is it a film?

There were moments in which the viewer had to take a great leap in suspension of disbelief; at one point the students were in what appeared to be gym class–most definitely not an art school requirement. There were other moments, too, that I won’t give away, but you’ll know if you’ve seen it. The movie didn’t seem entirely satiric, yet I’m not sure how serious it wants to be–which may be the problem: it doesn’t know either.

The thesis of the movie seems to be that the only definition of art in America today is that which profits from the destruction of others. The artist (our protagonist) in the movie becomes, literally, a thief and a murderer. We’re not supposed to celebrate his success; the irony of the ending brings home the message of a corrupt industry. Is there a way to rescue art from capital? The movie seems to think not. What do you think?

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Read this article in today’s NYT about Hill as a college student. So articulate, so erudite, so conflicted! If only students today were like this…

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Comedy for you.

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Movie Week: Day #2

In which I blog a movie a day for one week…

Though I had seen bits and pieces of this movie on several occassions, mostly as a small child, I’d never seen the whole thing through. So, once again, the library yielded up a tiny treasure, free of charge.

Jaws is a great movie. Having seen parts of the end (including the remarkably life-like shark) had little effect on the suspense and tension of the movie. As with most “monster” movies, the most frightening moments are when you can’t actually see the thing doing the killing. The first two-thirds of the movie were the best, in my sometimes-bizarre opinion; once you see the beast, some of the magic is gone.

I said some of the magic, though. The movie manages to maintain tension as we’re wondering if and how the boat and the people aboard will survive a 25-foot shark hell-bent on destruction. (A tip for DVD viewers: don’t read the chapter titles, as they’re too descriptive and kill the (ahem) suspense.)

My favorite thing about this movie has been–even before I actually saw it–and remains a story my mother told me about Jaws. She was sixteen when the movie had its theatrical release, and my grandmother took her to see it. My mother recalls the profound embarrassment she felt when, at each moment that caused the audience to gasp or even to scream in terror, my grandmother laughed hysterically.

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Movie Week: Day #1

In which I blog a movie a day for one week…

I’d wanted to watch this one for some time when I picked it up at the library last week. When I read an article in which the writer claims that Harold & Kumar was the first real “post-9/11” movie, my interest was really piqued–though now I can’t find the article. An interesting twist is that the director–Danny Leiner–made a film called The Great New Wonderful, which is widely called a “post-9/11 film.” Whether you make the leap to give this movie that particular accolade, these characters definitely are living in a post 9/11 America, in which suspicions about race have reached new levels.

This was really a fun movie, and the smartest stoner-comedy I’ve seen. Unlike most films in this tradition, the characters are smart and the jokes are interested in more than bodily functions (though there is a fair share of that, too). And the commentary on race and racial stereotypes in America is dead-on without seeming out of place in a comedy. A fun movie that’s about more than just pot.

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From Language Log, via John Dufresne:

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One of my summer projects is to get out and do some new things in Cincinnati. Since my list is pretty short, I decided to Google “Things to do in Cincinnati,” and one of the hits on the first page links to a recent article in the Enquirer, “100 Things To Do In Cincinnati Before You Die.”

If you want a laugh, click on the link; maybe the “Before You Die” part of the article title is literal: the list is intended for people who are really about to die. I’ve summed up the highlights below:

  • Artery-clogging food: 18 (the phrase “stuff yourself” appears twice, and there are more food entries not included in this category)
  • Churches (services, carnivals, looksies): 9
  • Reds/Bengals-related: 5
  • Christmas displays/theatre: 4
  • Cemeteries: 2

Other fun facts:

  • The word “University” appears once. (“84. Survey the bulging red brick Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.”) There is no mention of CCM or DAAP–the top design program in the nation.
  • The word “College” appears once. (“85. (Quietly) check out the Klau Library at Hebrew Union College in Clifton, one of the most extensive Jewish libraries in the world.”)
  • There is no mention of collegiate sporting events, or any sporting events aside from the two pro teams. Roller derby, anyone?
  • There are no Walnut Hills, College Hill, Clifton, or Northside destinations. This means no businesses from these communities were plugged, either.

And the awards for the most peculiarly worded entries:

  • “9. View the slave pen at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Feel the brutality.” Feel the brutality? After which you’ll immediately want to go eat some chili, I’m sure, and stuff yourself with it, at that.
  • “71. Nibble cold watermelon on the beach at Hueston Woods State Park north of Oxford.” Nibble cold watermelon? As opposed to, say, chowing down on some freshly baked watermelon?

At this point you might be asking yourself (if you’re still with me), “What of it, Coral?”

Well, aside from feeling totally frustrated at the unhelpfulness of the list, I also feel really alienated. Whose values are these? (Duh, the stiffs at the Enquirer.) I’ll never “Walk through every single home in Homearama and shout: “I want this one!”” (#64) or “Dress up like a Parrothead and drink margaritas at a Jimmy Buffett concert at Riverbend” (#76). And the only thrill I get from booing a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan is entirely personal.

So here’s where you come in, faithful reader(s). Let’s make our own list: “Things To Do Before You Leave Cincinnati,” for you students, transients, and wanderers, or “Things To Do Before You Die of Boredom in Cincinnati.” Help me compile a list comparable in length to the original, and I’ll shop it around the local weeklies, blogs, etc.

Things to Do in Cincinnati While Young and Lively:

1. Publish something about real things to do in Cincinnati.

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