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Batman 3 Has A Title! (Not Rumor, But TRUTH!)

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Alright, looks like we finally have it confirmed–the Riddler will NOT be in Nolan’s next Batman movie.  This according to his latest interview.  And the official title for Batman 3 is…drumroll…

The Dark Knight Rises

This is the title that will be burned into my fangirl memory for all time.

Interestingly, the Riddler will NOT be the next villain (contrary to a great deal of popular rumor).  So now I really don’t have a clue who it will be.  Hmm…it will be filmed in New Orleans…hmm…uh-oh…please no, not Harley Quinn!!

The thing I don’t like about Harley Quinn is that she was kind of the Joker’s girlfriend.  And in the Nolan universe, the Joker has no backstory, which added to the mystery and frightfulness of the character.  Having a “girlfriend” come into the picture would screw that up.  NO NO Nolan, no Harley Quinn, PLEASE!

What do you think of the title?  And who do you think this elusive new villain will be?  Disagree with me about Harley Quinn?  Let me know!~

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Album Covers That Will Be Iconic (Part I!)

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

While idily browsing music review sites hoping to discover some new indie bands to get hooked on, I noticed some sites have been making lists of their favorite albums from the past decade (I guess they’re starting early).  While I enjoyed trying to understand the music review lingo in these lists (please, what are alt-stab-synths?), I found myself being more drawn to the images of the album covers.  Some covers are standard–most are just bizarre–and some really stand out.  And I thought: there are quite a few album covers that everyone agrees are iconic, like the Abbey Road cover and that darn prism on Dark Side of the Moon.  So what recent album covers–released in the past 15 years or so–could become iconic? 

Now, I’m not too bad at predictions.  When the hype for Glee first began, I remember watching the first commercial and thinking, “That’ll be a cult hit.”  Pardon me as I take my  bows.

So here is my list of one-day-to-be-iconic album covers, in no particular order.  These are covers whose images are destined to be blown up, put in square poster frames and hung on the walls of used record stores in the distant future.  Covers that will adorn the retro bookbags of our children’s children.  Covers that just might stick around.  I’ve tried to make my choices based not just on personal taste but on how much the covers “stand out.”  

1. “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea,” Neutral Milk Hotel

To be fair, this album cover is already well on its way to becoming iconic.  But I really couldn’t make a list of great covers without it.  I’m a sucker for vintage images, and this is a great one–beautiful colors, charmingly rendered turn-of-the-century bathers, original stains from wear, and the surrealistic addition of what appears to be either a slice of potato or a drum in place of the lady’s head (yes, pretty sure it’s a drum).  The latter is incorporated into the picture so well that at first glance I thought it was a painting done by a Magritte fan.  A fantastic complement to the quirky, carnival-edged rock of Neutral Milk Hotel. 

2. “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” Phoenix

In all honesty, I don’t think this album is the greatest.  “Lisztomania” is a great track, as is “1901,” but the rest of the songs kind of blend into each other, and the two instrumental tracks don’t do much for me at all.  But just look at that cover.  Three colored silhouettes of falling bombs against a patch of innocent pink.  The title in white on the topmost bomb.  Simple, slightly retro-style graphics.  Is it stunning?  Maybe not, but it’s the kind of striking-yet-subtle image that could one day show up as a poster on our kids’ dorm room walls.

3. “Fleet Foxes,’ Fleet Foxes 

What could be more awesome than using a 1500s-era painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder as your cover?  And what could be more fitting for this folksy baroque band?  Its charmingly busy image beats studio poses and carefully timed artsy shots by a mile, in my opinion.  It was on the strength of this cover alone that I knew I had to give the Foxes a listen.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

4. “Contra,” Vampire Weekend

Speaking of carefully times artsy shots…well, this isn’t one.  And it’s a good thing.   Clear, candid, and slightly bizarre, the image gives little clue as to what we’re supposed to take away from it.  Is the young model surprised?  Scared?  Joyous?  Philosophically pessimistic?  It’s the viewer’s decision.  And for those reasons I will call the “Contra” cover a stand out. 

It also doesn’t hurt that the image is right now embroiled in controversy.  (Which spawned quite a few headlines playing with the words “contra” and “controversy.”  Har har, newsies.  Har har.)  After all, what could make a picture stick in the public’s consciousness more than a Contra-vers–wait, no, forget it.  I won’t lower myself. 

5. “Funeral,” Arcade Fire

Ah, Arcade Fire.  My beautiful Arcade Fire.  How I love thee for thy divine indie-rock, so obviously above most indie-rock and yet so alluringly distant from most of today’s vapid Top 40 pop.  I would count the ways that I love thee, but for now I will settle by listing your cover art for “Funeral” as being Soon To Be Iconic.  How could it not be, really?   The carefully hand-drawn hand and baroque-esque flourishes, the demure band title in a scrapbookish format, the neutral tones…it adds up to a quirkily beautiful piece.  Soon to be a little more legendary than it already is, dearest Arcade Fire.  Call me.

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And that is the first half of my list.  What do you guys think?  Do you agree with is so far?  Disagree?  Have any suggestions?  Let me know!~

Bulletin: Secretariat = Nazism, the Klu Klux Klan, and *GASP* the Tea Party!

October 17, 2010 1 comment

Recently I read Roger Ebert’s blog post discussing Andrew O’Hehir’s unusual movie review of Secretariat.   Having already heard Rush Limbaugh poke fun at the same review, I wondered what could cause two men who occupy such different spheres (of media AND of political persuasion) to come to the same conclusion: that O’Hehir’s review is nuts.   So I couldn’t resist heading over to Salon.com and reading it for myself.  (And mind you, Salon.com  is a site I tend to avoid since it’s a hub for such unintentionally funny articles as “George Clooney Meeting With Obama To Put Focus On Sudan Partition Vote” and “Cheers to drinking during pregnancy!”)  You can check it out too, right here.  Try to refrain from drinking milk while you read it.

Interesting, eh?  Let us discuss.

O’Hehir’s review is titled “‘Secretariat’: A gorgeous, creepy American myth.”  In case you didn’t understand the title, the lead declares: “Diane Lane shines in a Tea Party-flavored, Christian-friendly yarn about one big horse and our nation’s past.”  Hmmm…

O’Hehir begins by remarking on the “warm golden light” infusing the cinematography, saying that it is “as if the movie is ablaze with its own crazy sense of purpose.  Or as if someone just off-screen were burning a cross on the lawn.”  Whoa.  Wait a minute.  So this movie has a hidden purpose so horrible that it warrants a  facetious comparison to the Klu Klux Klan?   “I enjoyed it immensely,” O’Hehir surprisingly goes on to say, “flat-footed dialogue and implausible situations and all.” (Well it was based on a true story…)  “Which doesn’t stop me from believing that in its totality ‘Secretariat’ is a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda almost worthy of Leni Riefenstahl, and all the more effective because it presents as a family-friendly yarn about a nice lady and her horse.”  (Secretariat is a more insidious piece of propaganda than Triumph of the Will!)

So what, you might ask, is Secretariat propagandizing?  What form of misplaced idealism could be so vile that O’Hehir is compelled to mock it with Ku Klux Klan and Nazism references? 

Be careful, faint of heart, for the following revelation may do some injury to your nerves.  Steel yourself.  Are you ready?  Here, presented to you by Andres O’Hehir, is the sordid truth behind Secretariat “‘Secretariat’…[presents] a honey-dipped fantasy vision of the American past as the Tea Party would like to imagine it, loaded with uplift and glory and scrubbed clean of multiculturalism and social dischord.”

But that’ not all:  “In the world of this movie, strong-willed and independent-minded women like Chenery are ladies first (she’s like a classed-up version of Sarah Palin feminism), left-wing activism is an endearing cute phase your kids go through (until they learn the hard truth about inheritance taxes), and all right-thinking Americans are united in their adoration of a Nietzschean Überhorse, a hero so superhuman he isn’t human at all.”

So let me get this straight.  This film, set in the 1970s, is a monstrous piece of propaganda precisely because it does not focus on the political and social “dischord” of the 1970s.   It dares to show a charming inspirational story and NOT focus on the evils of racism and dischord and especially Richard Nixon, which is what every single film set in the 1970s must do.  For shame, movie!  FOR SHAME!!

So by O’Hehir’s logic, Secretariat should be like this: it should show a grimey, horrific vision  of 1970s America that makes the London of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street look homey, should focus relentlessly on the evils of RACISM!!!1 and the dischord of the Nixon era, should have as its heroine a thoroughly unladylike and classless bag of a woman who is preferably into feminism, should show a culturally diverse group of Americans picketing against the victories of Secretariat (since according to the O’Hehir the idea that all Americans were united in championing this racehorse couldn’t possibly be true), and should show Secretariat himself as a deeply flawed yet human individual who is wrestling with his sexuality and a drug problem against a background of, er,  political multiculturalist turmoil.

Much better.

Further on in his review, O’Hehir does what far too many people of the liberal bent tend to do: find RACISM!!!1 where it doesn’t exist.  Of the character Eddie Sweat, who by the way was a real groomsman who took care of Secretariat, he says: “Eddie dances and sings. He loves Jesus and that big ol’ horse. He is loyal and deferential to Miz Penny, and injects soul and spirit into her troubled life. I am so totally not kidding.”  A talented, Christian groomsman who is a good employee and a good friend–BUT WHO HAPPENS TO BE BLACK!!   Good sweet potato pie, this must be RACISM!!!1

Of Diane Lane’s lovely performance, O’Hehir’s would only concede that it’s “weirdly compelling.”  He says,  “She renders Penny Chenery as an iron-willed superwoman, striking and magisterial but utterly nonsexual, illuminated from within like a medieval saint.”  Utterly nonsexual?   Let me add more to the description of how Chenery should be portrayed in O’Hehir’s version of Secretariat: as a thoroughly unladylike and classless bag of a woman who is preferably into feminism and is involved in a great many NC-17-rated scenes.  After, this character much easier to take seriously than a classy woman who leads a classy life.

Happily, my hero Ebert has stepped forward to say: Really, Andrew?  Really?   “In its reasoning, his review resembles a fevered conspiracy theory,” Ebert writes in his October 7th blog post. “…O’Hehir’s reading is wildly eccentric, and commits a logical error best outlined as: A is evil because it does not acknowledge B. Or perhaps: Although A and B are represented as separate circles, they should overlap.”  I agree wholeheartedly.  (Man, how does Ebert do it?) 

A day after the blog post was written O’Hehir himself stopped by to comment on Ebert’s splendid exercise in rational thought.  Here’s where it gets even more interesting: “Well, gee,” he says with slightly disgruntled amusement.  “Thanks, Roger. (I think.)…I appreciate that you opened and closed this piece with some kind words, and I have great respect for you as a man and a critic. That said, I think the only place where we agree here is when you say, ‘O’Hehir’s reading [of “Secretariat”] is wildly eccentric.’ I’ll cop to that happily — my review of the film was willfully hyperbolic, even outrageous, in hopes of getting people to look at a formulaic Disney sports movie through fresh eyes…My hyperbole in the ‘Secretariat’ review was supposed to be funny, and also to provoke a response. I appear to have succeeded brilliantly with the second part! The results on ‘funny’ are more mixed.”

So to paraphrase: “It was just a joke!”  Really, Andrew?  Really?  You pull out “It was just a joke!” as your defense?  Far too predictable!  But in spite of that, I do think he is sincere.  The problem is that “It’s was just a joke!” doesn’t help his position at all.  O’Hehir may have been using hyperbole in order to get his points across, but that doesn’t change the  CRAZINESS OF THE POINTS THEMSELVES.   For instance, he may not literally think that Secretariat is a piece of master-race propaganda worthy of Riefenstahl, but that doesn’t change the fact that he thinks it’s a piece of propaganda.

I think what saddens me most about O’Hehir’s review is not just that it contains a bonkers interpretation of Secretariat, but that it’s so cynical.  “You could hardly pick a period in post-Civil War American history more plagued by chaos and division and general insanity,” he writes earnestly, “…but our heroine’s double life as a Denver housewife and Virginia horse-farm owner proceeds pretty much as if the 1950s had gone on forever.”  Have beauty, classiness, and good values really been so absent from your life that you refuse to recognize them even in an idealized fictional setting, O’Hehir?  Or have you been steeped in anti-Western civilization, pseudo-college-campus, elite groupthink for so long that you can’t see good values as being anything but sentimental hogwash?

O’Hehir’s controversial review ends with: “Horses don’t go to the movies, and this movie is about human beings, and our nonsensical but inescapable yearning to find the keys to the future in stupid ideas about a past that never existed.”  I’d call this is more of a sobering revelation about O’Hehir’s dismal worldview than a statement about Secretariat.~

BREAKING NEWS! The second of the trapped Chilean miners has just been rescued!

October 12, 2010 2 comments

Would have gotten this story on here sooner had I kept checking the news.  See it all here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/lt_chile_mine_collapse

This is fantastic news, the beginning of the end to an inspirational story.  Can you imagine the interviews these awesome guys are going to give?  Can you imagine the relief and joy they must be feeling at knowing how soon their ordeal will be over?

Be sure to pray that all will be well, and that all the remaining miners will be pulled to the surface safely.  They’ve made it this long–certainly some Higher Power must be with them!