Thursday, March 27, 2008

walking down the streets of paradise

Come out to the release party for perhaps this city's only dance-related zine (coordinated by Ana), tomorrow night at Sound Fix!

Also, read Hannah's photo blog about her Argentinian adventures.

Finally, you should probably listen to Pour Down Like Silver.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Memories of Murder

One expects the unexpected in a police procedural so automatically that the twists become formulaic: the first suspect won't pan out, the corruption at the heart of the law and the cop-criminal slippage usually starts to unfold about 2/3 of the way in. Memories Of Murder sticks to the formula partially, which makes it an incredibly weird movie. As in Law and Order, you see only hints of the policemen's private lives; the film focuses on the case, a serial rapist and murderer terrorizing a village in 1980s Korea. This movie--it is so strange.
First, the film plays much of the investigation for laughs. The cops bumble around, employing idiotic strategies (at one point, the lack of pubic hair at a crime scene convinces one that the criminal must be a hairless monk, prompting him to camp out in bathhouses, investigating his fellow bathers), seem generally ignorant, act cruelly and beat suspects out of sheer stupidity rather than vindictiveness. The comedy runs through the whole movie, but the wackier the cops seem, the more the film emphasizes their helplessness. In an early scene, they can't prevent a tractor driver from running over a footprint; later on, they sit in their office knowing that a murder will take place but unable to do anything to prevent it.
The movie's stock characters--the sharp city detective, the old chief of police, the murderer--act atypically. The man from Seoul has sharper investigative skills than the small-town police (who also don't shape up to impress him, as they might in a different movie), but proves equally unequipped for this case. Rather than affecting those around him, the irrationality of his fellow cops and the crimes' cruelty take an abrupt, heavy toll.
The DVD case describes Memories of Murder as a "moody thriller," which I first found unapt but think might be accurate--better, it's rueful, all about missed opportunities and disappointments, but this tone is unexpected in a movie about what this movie's about. It also puts a weird cast on the actual scenes of brutality, of which there are a few, that are horrifying and, more frightening still, inevitable.
I find this movie hard to describe. It came recommended really ardently from a few disparate sources, and it definitely hits you a lot harder after you finish watching it than while it's actually unfolding in front of you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Both proprietary brands!

1. Trader Joe's Jumbo Raisin Medley. I barely liked raisins, only had odd-hour cravings for them and appreciated their presence in oatmeal, oatmeal-raisin cookies, and bran muffins, till I got this. About five of these raisins basically comprises a snack, and if you ever heard the phrase "plump and juicy" applied to a raisin before and looked down at teensy dried nuggets in your palm as the corners of your mouth turned down involuntarily, you should wait in that line, man. THESE RAISINS ARE AMAIZINS! I won't use them in my oatmeal--it's be like using Macallan for a whiskey and coke or something.

2. Archer Farms Jamaican Spice and Black Pepper and Sea Salt-flavor Baked Potato Crisps. You buy these at Target and at Target only; luckily I work near the hellacious Atlantic Avenue Mall, which is redeemed from fire and brimstone by these chips' righteousness alone (although the $14.99 Xhiliration bra special at Target also wins them points. I can't go in there and not buy chips and a bra! What the fuck?) These broad, flat chips have a brittle texture and lack the slightly sweet taste that bring down Baked Lays in my estimation. They're light while not lite, but the seasoning really makes them. When Archer Farms says pepper they mean real coarse-ground black pepper, that lingers in the corner of your mouth. Jamaica BBQ has a savory jerk taste underlying the pepper, while the black pepper chips simply have MORE PEPPER. Geniuses! My office can take down a big bag of these lickety-split.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

ignorant: the book review corner

People tell me I write how I talk but I hope that's untrue: the language I speak comes haltingly, broken unevenly into measures by "like"s, "I mean/guess," and a lot more shits and fucks and goddamns than my audience should accept. I resolved to quit "like" more New Year's than I can remember, but it takes such a pervasive role in my vocabulary that when I speak formally, to superiors at work, say, I might utter "yes, like, this situation . . . " realize that I've just used "like" improperly, and turn the actual situation into a hypothetical: "Yeah, like a situation wherein x might happen is analogous to the situation we're in" rather than "Yeah, our situation is x." And more minds than mine have drawn broader conclusions about this generation from our linguistic limp--things are not, for us, they are like this or like that. But I digress.
Since I read anything I see that has to do with meth addiction (I also feel compelled to read cookbooks and top 10 of anything lists, that's not what this is about here), I read the excerpt from Nic Sheff's meth addiction memoir Tweak, which was linked off an article in the Times. Here's a quote:

"I guess I've pretty much spent the last four years chasing that first high. I wanted desperately to feel that wholeness again. It was like, I don't know, like everything else faded out. All my dreams, my hopes, ambitions, relationships -- they all fell away as I took more and more crystal up my nose. I dropped out of college twice, my parents kicked me out, and, basically, my life unraveled."

This is amazing! What a mess, man, what an onslaught of cliches and nervous modifiers and "like"s and unnecessary adverbs. This phrase represents the core of this book, the truth of the devastation of this kid's life, and it's inept. One should not be allowed to get away with writing like this, much less earn a publishing contract from Simon and Schuster. But then, talk to me when you see me about inarticulateness and likely I'll look at you from behind a chunk of hair, scratch my nose, push up my glasses and say "Basically, like . . .fucking, like, we don't know how to talk anymore." So in a way this terrible writer has perfectly captured heavy sentiments for the era of the idle rich meth addict--he has no art, he could've done better but instead he did drugs. Is this prose commendable for its honesty and aptness or loathsome for its ignorance?
I saw about an hour of Into the Wild, which worked in a similar way: to express the naive alienation of its protagonist, the film's director (Sean Penn, I think) employs the dullest MTV techniques--slo-mo, split screens, topical Eddie Vedder songs--in a movie with themes (the romantic innocent trapped by society trekking out into the hills) for which this stylistic crap could not be less appropriate. . . OR IS IT?

Anyway, I have seen some movies lately, including Annie Hall, The Panic In Needle Park, J'entends plus la guitare, 10 Rillington Place, and Nobody Knows. Unlike Into the Wild, these were mostly good, particularly J'entends.

Based on Philippe Garrel's affair with Nico, the film has one topic--how love works--and cuts out any dross that might not relate to this particular thing. You don't know what any characater save one does for a living, the interiors are sparse, the camera lingers on faces, faces and pays attention to conversations, not actions. It is about the Frenchest thing I have ever seen.