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Articles in the May 2009 Department

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[21 May 2009 | One Comment | 945 Views]
Anvil! A review of <i>Anvil! The Story of Anvil</i>

The audience is made up of equal parts leather-clad true believers, college-age hipsters, and, like me, cinematic onlookers hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime multimedia experience.  I’d never heard of the Canadian hard rockers Anvil, but since the unveiling of the sweetly-titled documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, at Sundance in 2008, buzz had been mounting.  I frequently check this particular theater’s online listings, never knowing when a special event may appear, and tonight I’ve hit the jackpot:  Anvil itself is going to be at this midnight showing, thrashing through what could …

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[20 May 2009 | No Comment | 1,096 Views]
Holy See, flunky do: another DBSM*

Hollywood’s longstanding equation of “Christian” with “Catholic” is affirmed in Angels & Demons, the latest adaptation of a Dan Brown novel, once again directed by that most sagacious of industry hacks, Ron Howard. Unlike his less visually coherent brethren, Howard drapes his lens in a golden velvety sheen and edits with a semblence of attention to rhythm and location. Let it never be said that he is an incompetent director. Let it also never be said that he posseses the nuance and insight to probe such portentous subjects as religion, faith, and science without resorting to condescension or asinine bromides.

Cinema and Television, Cultural Comment, May 2009 »

[14 May 2009 | 2 Comments | 4,512 Views]
To boldly go: A roundtable on Star Trek

Playtime and Star Trek
This month is sci-fi month at Playtime in honor of the release of J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Playtime staff and collaborators sat down to have a chat on their favorite and formative Trek memories, as well as their reaction to the latest film.
What was your first Star Trek series, and who/what introduced you to it?
David Jordan: TOS.  My dad has been a fan of ST since the show originally aired and as such I was exposed to it at a very young …

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[13 May 2009 | 2 Comments | 2,717 Views]
Socket to me!

Once again, Chev Chelios (a.k.a. Jason Statham) races around the city collecting power ups throughout the game — er, movie — to keep the battery for his artificial heart revved up and ready for action. These power ups come in the form of various and sundry electric jolts, each (literally and, ostensibly, metaphorically) more shocking than the last. Neveldine and Taylor toil relentlessly under the mistaken impression that being the loudest, most obnoxious, most vulgar kids in the class constitutes rebellion. Heavens, no, fellas. That just makes you tiresome and in desperate need of a corporal thwack across the bums.

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[13 May 2009 | 3 Comments | 1,261 Views]
Your worst nightmare: a six-year-old with a badge

Ronnie Barnhardt has to be just likable enough that audiences won’t start hurling Orange Julius smoothies at the screen by the fifth or sixth time he’s said or done something irredeemably stupid or cruel. But director Jody Hill is entirely uninterested in sweet and sincere; the adolescent fantasies of his male protagonists are not necessarily deserving of our sympathy or empathy; certainly, Hill gives them little or no respect, so there’s no reason to think we should, either. Instead, he sifts through their lives like a dumpster diver rifling through a Hefty bag choked with damaged goods. His storytelling is surprisingly intimate, and his characters unquestionably pathetic. Rather than just cashing in on the formula of the loser-makes-good, Hill’s lateral approach to the problem is a kind of exploitive compassion.

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[7 May 2009 | 2 Comments | 2,230 Views]
My monolith: How <i>The Black Hole</i> guided the evolution of a cineaste

What if the movie a person credits with turning him- or herself into an authentic film buff is the single most influential film on that person’s aesthetic taste? It may be that a person is unable to cite a specific motion picture — after all, one’s passionate love affair with cinema isn’t usually something that occurs overnight. Real, lasting love grows over time. So arbitrarily picking your current all-time favorite just won’t do for this thought experiment. No, if you can’t recall a specific film, I suggest that the pentecostal movie is the one that you loved most as a child. For me, Disney’s The Black Hole, for all intents and purposes, is my own personal Rosetta Stone of aesthetic taste.

Cinema and Television, Literature, May 2009 »

[7 May 2009 | 2 Comments | 9,435 Views]
Top 5 starships: Star Wars, comics, and UFOs

That's not a ship….. it's a SPACE STATION. –Alex M.
In honor of the release of Star Trek, Playtime is running science-fiction themed articles during the Month of May. And what could be more apropos than talkin’ about some of the most badass spaceships to be put on-screen? Regular Playtime contributors and posters were asked to submit lists of their Top 5 Starships. In Part 1 of 2 of Playtime’s Top 5 Starships, we have culled three of the most interesting submissions, covering everything from Star Wars to the legendary saucers …

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[30 Apr 2009 | One Comment | 944 Views]
For the love of irrelevance

Film critic Andrew Sarris at work.
It almost seems mean to criticize For the Love of Movies, Gerald Peary’s documentary on American film criticism. It’s very well put together. The movie has nice music, interesting clips from other movies, and warmly quirky narration by actress Patricia Clarkson. All those critics we only know from their bylines are given time to say a lot of cute things.
It’s a very nice movie. It’s too nice.
The affectionate doc certainly makes a great primer on the history of film criticism; and Peary, with 30 years …

Cultural Comment, May 2009 »

[30 Apr 2009 | 2 Comments | 2,733 Views]
The serious dieter’s guide to utensils

Recently, a good friend of mine started on the quest that many, if not most of us will face in our lifetimes — one which sadly involves neither dragons nor magic rings; he set out on a diet in order to lose weight for a quality-of-life bump. His weapon of choice: a free SparkPeople diet plan, complete with a weekly routine of core-strengthening exercises.  One evening as we poured over the daily statistics, the tabulated calories, grams of fat and sodium tracked in several neat line-graphs, I recognized that he …

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[29 Apr 2009 | 2 Comments | 2,101 Views]
Punch-drunk life

The recent, Cannes-approved biographical documentary (hereafter known as a “biodoc”) Tyson features an insightful interview between the eponymous former heavyweight boxing champion and director James Toback.    The biodoc strain of documentary filmmaking tends to present a panoramic, historically-situated view of an individual, the better either to understand those we deem to be “larger-than-life” or to use particular circumstances to illuminate the universal condition.  Treatments can be admiring of subjects, such as in The Times of Harvey Milk, or damning, as in Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, …