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Carson Arnold is a young drummer & guitarist who loves to read books, watch old & new films, and listen to all sorts of music.If this sounds like a match made in heaven--contact and say hello. Send any such books, films or CDs for Carson's once-over and possible review. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last month I've had the opportunity to see a few newer released films with my family, most of them on video. I'm going to start this off on a positive note with "O' Brother Where Out Thou'?" This one is probably the best of the batch. I saw it in a theater when it first opened up and I absolutely loved it. I remember when my family and I walked out into the sunlight I was expecting them to say, "man what a great film!" But there was all this hesitation about it. Everywhere people seemed to be skeptic. I couldn't believe it. My parents and a few other people I know, said that it was too comical. I thought that was the point. The Cohen Brothers have always been known for their humorous and then dramatic film making. Take "Blood Simple", then take "Raising Arizona". Take "Fargo", then take "The Big Lebowski". They have always been solid with their idea's. My theory is that each film they make is different from their last, and each one is enjoyably fresh. And the reason why, is each one has a specific theme. The same with music. A great band or artist can make good music. Sure. But if each album sounds the same with no feeling or theme behind it, the music becomes repititous and doesn't last. I mean look at directors like Hitchcock, Scorsese, Orson Wells, Werner Hersog, even Quentin Tarantino or Spike Lee. They all follow a formula, a theme. "O' Brother" is exactly this. There are no holes in this film. Everything you see in the beginning ties once again in the end; a full circle of clever film making. George Clooney gives the final push that proves to me he's progressed generations from the ER days, and willing to try any roles that are given to him. The film physically looks wonderful. The story is moving, never once lagging behind. And the dialogue adds such a flavor of tasteful humor that it sticks with you for days.
Bruce Willis, in another film with a soft-spoken voice, shaved head, and battered face, how original! Well, I guess he might of had hair in The Sixth Sense. But The Sixth Sense had a lot of things that "Unbreakable" didn't. M. Night Shyamalan directed both of these flicks, but as I could see had trouble with his latest, Unbreakable. I felt like I was watching the b-side of The Sixth Sense- just trying to capture the same idea all over again. The Sixth Sense was well made and very fresh to watch. Unbreakable was slow, and filled with too many introductions that never were followed by a conclusion. And anyone will tell you, when your watching a eerie supernatural movie, you must at least have the plot make sense to the audience. I have a feeling Shyamalan (who wrote, produced, and directed this,) was under a lot of anxiety to top or equal The Sixth Sense. Which is probably a horrible thing to try to accomplish. My suggestion is to direct something totally different from these sort of mind-boggling dense Sixth Sense type of stories. Something independent that doesn't rely on big Hollywood names and production. For those of you that don't know the story, Bruce Willis is the only survivor in a train accident (which is similar to Jeff Bridges in "Fearless",) and then goes on to realize he's immortal. This new thought then relates to Samuel Jackson, whose this comic book freak, selling them as philosophic art work in frames in downtown Philadelphia (how does that work?) Anyway, all these new characters are introduced, then they disappear... blah- blah-blah. Doesn't sound like much? Your right it isn't.
On to a much better film, "Requiem For A Dream". Sadly to say I never saw director, Darren Aronofsky's other film, "Pi". So I can't make any contrast between the two. I think this film appeals to more of a newer generation of kids like myself. The picture is filled with fast editing, with quick sound effects and artsy shots. It's hyper basically, and repetitive. I'm not sure that one scene lasts for more than five minutes, so after awhile it's like watching music videos. It's all about addiction too, but not just about drugs. Food, attention, money, sex, beauty, and health are also the main frenetic focus's is this story. But drugs are the essential roles to actor Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Connelly. Leto's mother, Ellen Burynstien, sits alone in her apartment haunted by a refrigerator of food and a television, where she slowly drives herself insane with diet pills and the thought of starring on a television program, that airs over and over again in front of her and us. Leto needs to keep the ring of money supplied for him and girlfriend Connelly. He runs around with his friend Wayans, experiencing the city drug traffic where troubles lead to human chaos. The film is well made, but I can see how some might think it's overly repetitive with all the fast editing. True. But it's fun to watch with an open mind. And without the quick pace of editing and the story, the film wouldn't have brought across that silly and harsh addictions play a daily role in all of our lives. You seem not to have too much sympathy for the characters through the film. I'm not sure if that's good. But that might be the point the director was trying to show. A diagram or chart for him to show and us, as viewers, to watch and learn. If your looking for a drug flick but with a dramatic moral tale, you should check out "Jesus's Son" or "Drugstore Cowboy".
Ok, "Cast Away" is probably the most disappointing movie I've seen this year. We waited until it arrived on video, and after slurping up a lot of garbage in theaters last summer I was expecting at least a decent film. Tom Hanks stars as a Fed-Ex manager whose never at home enough for his family. After a short notice call during the holidays, he has to fly over seas somewhere (I can't remember specifically.) The plane goes down into the ocean. Hanks survives and ends up on a deserted tropical island along with Fed-Ex package debree, including a soccer ball which becomes his friend during the next three or four years. The first three quarters of the film is really great. Tom Hanks displayed a terrific acting job during the survival tactic scenes on the island; showing off his humor from his days in "Big", and his drama from "Saving Private Ryan". And then the last half hour. I don't want to give away the ending, but Robert Zemeckis showed a brilliant example of literally "ruining a film". Just a sappy ending is all it was. I didn't even know if I was watching the same film after a while. Too bad. Don't let that spoil your time though. I believe it's worth a few bucks to check out Hanks in the island parts.
"You Can Count One Me"- at last a film! Every movie I watch now I have to play a game with. There's always this controversy in my mind, half my brain tells me I should like it, and the other half is resistant. I can never simply relax and enjoy something. Kenneth Lonergan knows how to direct. He doesn't bore you to the show every detail in the script. He lets you find out by expression and conversation from the actors, almost like a play. Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo play brother and sister whose parents died in a car crash when they were quite young. Ruffalo comes from the big city, whose tampered past copes with his sister (Linney), coming home to the small town country where they both grew up. Linney's child, Rory Culkin, and Ruffalo make almost a father and son personal bond, while Linney gets involved with her boss at the bank, Matthew Broderick. The story weeps honesty, and lets us to decide who really acts like a understanding person when it comes to trusting. Every character terrifically does a great job bringing across who they are, especially the up and coming actor, Mark Ruffalo. It's a light film that comes out of nowhere and really hits you. Though the film may look like an ordinary story with a familiar plot, you can really feel the unusual uniqueness of directing and acting grasping hold.
On a smaller note. Another film that comes out of nowhere and hits you is the latest version of "Twelve Angry Men", with the recently departed Jack Lemon. I was very surprised with this, because it's just about as good as the original film. The character actors really grab you and the script is immensely crisp. Also the five-star classic "Aguirre" directed by the great Werner Hersog. It would be impossible to sum this film up in a few sentences, you have to see it yourself. If you thought the television show "Survivor" was as realistic as it gets, the check out "Aguirre". Spike Lee's new joint, "Bamboozled", also is surprising. I suggest you do a little research on "blackfaces" before seeing this, it'll help.
"The Pledge" had all the potential in the world to be a thrilling suspense that seems to be rare in modern films, but lacked the story to show for it. Directed by Sean Penn (Crossing Guard, Indian Runner,) he makes yet another angry macho film, filled with violence, tormented past, and bad attitudes. Penn is still maturing both in acting and directing, so he might have something to show in the future. But "The Pledge" was like a roof with too many leaks. This made Jack Nicholson's dramatic acting and the film's interesting camera work drown- it wasn't even noticeable after a while. The plot also seemed a little too grotesque- seven year old girls getting hacked up by some killer who hands out puppet porcupines to his victims. It's a little to sick to make serious on the big screen. During the film your never sure who the killer is, and at the end your either not satisfied with the answer or totally bewildered.
I enjoyed "A.I". Like I said before, lately with films I almost play games with my mind. "I wanna like it... but I'm not sure, what do other people think?" You go crazy. But with "A.I", I never had to question myself. I took pleasure watching it. But many people seem to differ. Some reviewers called it a failure, or some called it a pure classic. I believe it is either. But somewhere between confusing and pure. I'm also starting to think that if people didn't know Stanley Kubrick was once originally behind the picture, then I think they wouldn't be fretting over it, ( Kubrick handed down his idea of "A.I" to Steven Spielberg before he died.) Some people say Kubrick would have done a better job. And I'm not so sure.
The story in "A.I" is a futuristic plot where robots and humans exist together, most of the world being now covered by oceans (yes, like Waterworld). Haley Joe Osmot plays a boy/robot created and designed by William Hurt. He's uniquely programed different to show love, which is devoted to to his Mom- who adopts him with her husband, replacing their son who is ill in the hospital. Though she does not want to, the mother strands Osmot in the woods, after causing too much grief when their regular son comes home. Along Osmot's is a robotic teddy bear (who talks,) they journey around much like The Wizard Of Oz trying to find "The Blue Fairy" (almost like Oz,) who will then bring Osmot his Mother. He meets Jude Law (a robotic jiggalo,) at a future wrestling tournament called the "Flesh Fair"; where robots are watched being split to pieces by humans. He runs into all sorts of adventures encounters many humans, many robots. It's a tale with the Wizard Of Oz and Pinocheo combined.
So to say Kubrick would have done a better job, again, I'm not so sure. There's a real chemistry of childhood magic that Kubrick I don't think could bring across. I certainly believe Kubrick could have made a more interesting film, but with a different story. Probably a little more demented and dark, this would take away from that magic that A.I is already filled with. Kubrick would have made a film based on where his mind is. Terry Gilliam would have perhaps done his own version. But the version Spielberg has, the ideas he took from Kubrick, sits fine. So basically I think when you take the whole Kubrick comparison to the extent to where you totally dump on "A.I", it's pretty unfair.
I took the picture for what it is- a film. "A.I" has some small holes, though. It was filled with a little too many pshycological metaphors that don't come to mean much when the ending credits roll around. The way the story evolves is like an adventure, but with all the "this" and the "thats", it sort of takes away from the tale it was trying to tell. Remember this is the only thing I think could have had a little more adjusting- the story. Maybe more villains, or more of something that Osmot was trying to uncover. If Spielberg kept the story on the same path, the picture might not be as long, and the need to invite more characters into the setting wouldn't need to take place.
It's weird futuristic films like A.I always have a hard time. Especially ones that aren't along the line of entertaining, drowned with huge explosions and whipped with selfishness. Pictures like Gattica (which I personally found very well made,) and now A.I, that show warmth to a reality, are filed away somewhere for future reference. It's interesting that public isn't fond of A.I either (it dropped increasingly at the box office). But films like "Tomb Raider", "Fast and the Furious" and "Hannibal" make huge blowouts. This could go to show that one, I'm wrong, A.I is not a good film at all. Or two, the public either doesn't have the lack of attention or patience for a film like this or can't handle the story for what it is at least trying to show. And nobody really bad mouths these films. They see "Hannibal" for it's violence and "Fast and the Furious" for it's adrenaline car crashes. Rolling Stone lightly talks trash about "Pearl Harbor", but then makes sure they have a three page interview with the director Michael Bay inside. They also put down Tomb Raider, but then again they make sure the cover has Jolie posing in a tank top. And then TV after TV commercials of the preview. Followed by a soundtrack, with hit artists. Bands like U2 doing a music video for the picture. And then it air's on VH1's top twenty. Never mind the video game the movie is originally based on....... And I wondered why A.I hasn't done well? Wondered why Dancer In The Dark wasn't looked upon? It's obvious.
But anyway, things will always be like that. Just enjoy what you see. A.I wasn't a great film. It was a solid good film. Spielberg did a clean job and showed some guts. The way it looked on a big screen was terrific, the dramatic acting probably couldn't be that much better then it is. Everything except detailed parts of the story worked. "A.I" is one of those films where you either see it directly when it comes out, or afterwards when the mushroom cloud has ceased.
(Out of five stars)
O' BROTHER WHERE OUT THOU'- ****
UNBREAKABLE- * and a half
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM-***
CAST AWAY- ** and a half
YOU CAN COUNT ON ME- ****
THE PLEDGE- **
A.I- **** (maybe a little less)
Years ago I remember taking a family vacation to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and listening, for the first time, to The Smashing Pumpkins "Simease Dream" on cassette. A friend had told me that it was very very good, but it remained in a pile of other tapes collecting dust for months. Along with other cassettes, I threw it into my backpack for the long highway ride to upstate New Hampshire. Listening to the first track of Simease Dream, "Cherub Rock", a thousand questions rushed between my headphones. Who is this? What is this? This is great! From that day on, the Pumpkins remained on my top ten favorite groups of all time.
After that, not much musically really happened. Nirvana was gone. Pearl Jam kept on pushing only on what they had. Sonic Youth had some nice touches. Around 97' the Korn groupies ruined the rock industry following, to this day, thousands of other three chord bands. Radiohead dished out surprising notes in "Ok Computer". And Rage Against The Machine told us "where" and "why" but not really "how". In the later part of the nineties and the earlier Millennium, rarely anything inspired me as a musician, and hardly any artists swept me off my feet . Instead I retrieved back to the sixties to find refuge. The Doors, The Airplane, and Hendrix helped me out for some time while I crawled through the haze of corporate rock. I struggled to understand why there wasn't any bands that were making great music. Why wasn't there a message in music any more? Sure there were some artists devoting themselves to make a song. But nothing consistent.
My Dad was a fan of PJ Harvey, owning her first three albums. From our local library he had just checked her recent one "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea". Remember hearing from "Rolling Stone" that the album was pretty good I asked if I could borrow it. I was working on homework when I pressed play. I seriously don't think I wrote one sentence when listening to "Stories From The City." It was just that good. The feeling that was made listening to her was unexplainable. Every track was amazing. She used her vocals as both an instrument and her lyrics. I should have broken my cd player skipping back to the song "Good Fortune" a hundred times. Thom Yorke of Radiohead uses that sensitive cello voice on "Beautiful Feeling" (which has an almost Bjork sound to it,) and "This Mess We're In".
I backtracked and gave a listen to her previous albums to compare. Through those songs I felt that Harvey was a seed. Each album she progressively grew, showing her experience with love and anger. Collaborating together her influences, talents, maturity, and experience she blossomed as a flower with her latest "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea". In a time where artists convert to the somewhat "art rock" of music because they can't play a decent song, but have the talent to imagine, PJ Harvey shows that she has the "art rock" in her, and the songs to make you smile or to make you weep. "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea" is the perfect remedy, or perfect medicine for people who share the same opinions as I do about todays music. Stop torturing yourself and buy this record. ~ April 2001
After hearing that John Frusciante was putting out a solo album I knew I had to have it. Being a fan of Frusciante's delicate guitar work with The Red Hot Chili Peppers, I was certain that his own album would be a fun ride. I downloaded a few songs off Napster that were magnificent, and told my parents that there was finally an artist putting out some good music. For Valentines Day my parents bought it for me. Days later it arrived, and I popped in my cd player the minute it came. From the opening track "Going Inside" to the last, "Moments Have You", you escape into an atmosphere of rhythm, understanding, and patience. Instead of being angry, Frusciante preaches scenes and ideas that are left for us to decide. His voice and guitar seep through notes like liquid, while a drum machine quietly keeps pace (,although it took me awhile to get comfortable with the drum machine editing, being a drummer myself.) Acoustic guitars and strings mend together much like a Nick Drake record. It's definitely an album where you have to listen to numerous times. Through this album Frusciante sings his heart and paints a portrait that shows he is a far away from the usual modern music scene. ~ March 2001
OSCARS - 2001
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE- "RENEGADES"
SMASHING PUMPKINS- THE LAST SHOW
"BEST IN SHOW"
"DANCER IN THE DARK"
- Live at Mount Holyoke
"Sold Out"! read the sheet of paper outside Chapin Auditorium on the campus of Mount Holyoke, (an all girls' college in Massachusetts) And "Sold Out" it was, as a friend and I looked over the incoming crowd of Moby fans while sitting on the second balcony( there were three balconies total and a floor without seats.) While a variety of fans poured through the door, a techno band, Hybrid, synthesized songs similar to "The Crystal Method". After nine p.m we all became a little edgy, yelling out "We want Moby!" A half hour later, after Hybrid walked off with their equipment an uproar arose from the crowd, we knew Moby was on his way. The light show started up, springing around the room in different shades and colors. The scattered instruments were: a drum set, turntables, a couple of synthesizers, bass guitar, bongos, and two microphones (one female vocalist alone on one.) Five musicians walked out, the crowd screamed while an even techno beat was started; the audience grooved to the rhythm. Moments later, hollers were heard as Moby jumped onstage running around in a hyperactive fashion, plucking guitar notes as the band played "Honey", the first track on their CD Play.
Soon after, the synthesizer worked its way into "Porcelain" while the crowd smiled, singing the verses together. Moby bounced from electric guitar, acoustic, synthesizers, bongos and regular vocals, while the other five members stayed right with him. "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" and "Natural Blues" were perfectly sung by the background female vocalist, Charlamagne. Techno drum beats and heavy bass made many heads bob and several feet leave the ground. Moby played most of his songs from Play, also adding the "James Bond Theme" (which he scored for in Tomorrow Never Dies.) He robustly covered The Doors "The End", and many other various rave and disco beats. Moby knew how to relate to the crowd by combining witty jokes and diving into the audience for a bit of quick crowd-surfing. He gave the other five musicians the spotlight as much as he did himself, crediting them in the middle of the show. After nearly two hours of fast beats and funky rhythms, Moby left with two encores (including an acoustic version of "Porcelain"). The people on the two balconies seemed not to really feel the music as well as the crowd on the floor, (maybe it was the seats.) Some people complained that the music was pretty loud, and it actually was ear-ringing. I thought it was a fantastic show. Anyone who likes to have fun and has any sense of music should definitely catch Moby if you get the chance.
C I N E M A 2000
When I watched this movie, it seemed to me that it was like not putting milk in your cereal. It lacked a movie presence, missing a certain punch. The film would dwell too much on the obvious and wouldn't go deeper into the tales of rock n' roll conduct. The film seemed to go around in circles, all of the actors staying the same with no real inner message to the audience. And after seeing the film I wasn't sure if there was that much of a moral to it. The story is: fifteen year old William Miller based on the director, Cameron Crowe's, experiences as a youthful music reporter, (played by, newcomer, Patrick Fugit.) William desperately tries do an interview with a band called Stillwater, (a Led Zeppelin take-off,) for Rolling Stone, while actually traveling with the band. Paling along with William, is band groupie Pennie Lane (Kate Hudson.) William immediately has an instant crush for Lane. Meanwhile William's mom (the always good Frances McDormand,) sits home worried to death that her son will end up doing uncivil things like smoking pot or even meeting girls. William has been advised by a rock n' roll critic, (a Lester Bangs character, played by the irresistible Phillip Seymour Hoffman,) who guides him through rough times with mouthfuls of rock n' roll "editor" wisdom. But where the story really bores me is when it gets wrapped up with Stillwater. William becomes cuddly with the Stillwater lead guitarist (Billy Crudup,) bonding together as good friends; but at the same time in love with the same girl (Hudson, who can't decide which one she likes.) The film goes on and on about this matter and never really resolves it. It's not a great film, but it's good for kids to see because it gives a general background of 70's rock. If you're looking for biography-rock movie which shows what rock groups are really like then check out Oliver Stone's "The Doors." Otherwise, you can see a film like Almost Famous on VH1.
- Russell Crowe ("L.A Confidential" and "The Insider") teaches every actor how you really play a hero that fights for justice in the dynamic film, "Gladiator". Set in 180 A.D, Maximus (Crowe) fights his way through every possible situation. War, betrayal, and trust make up the film's character. When we think of the word "Gladiator", we think of muscle-bound men in a large Colosseum. Many people confuse this story for modern-time Gladiators (ie., pro-wrestling) when really the story is a solid grade better than "Braveheart" - but based in a different era. The film combines Roman history, war, and slavery into almost what could have been an epic. Joaquin Phoenix plays the horrible Commodus, the wimpy emperor, whom Maximus seeks high revenge on behalf of his wife's and son's death. The film never lets down, and it reminds me at times of George Lucas's "The Phantom Menace" for its energy -- taking high class action and then softening it with politics and growing dialogue, and coming right around with more action. Director, Ridley Scott ( "Bladerunner" and "Thelma and Louise") chooses an excellent cast . Crowe makes you think, Phoenix makes you cringe, and the movie makes you leave the theatre like you've won a war.
THE STRAIGHT STORY
- Richard Farnsworth ("The Grey Fox") plays a beaten down eighty-or-so-year old who needs to find the long lost words between his forgotten brother (Harry Dean Stanton), before Farnsworth has lost any teeth to talk with, in the small film -- "Straight Story". But it will be a long time before Farnsworth's character loses any teeth, for he comes up with an idea any person would joke about -- riding a riding-mower from Iowa to Wisconsin just to see his old brother (this actually is a true story.) Farnsworth runs into various adventures and different people, through his tough travels. Back home he leaves his mellow daughter (played by Sissy Spacek) who suffers from a speech disorder from a tragic family problem. The film isn't a "Homeward Bound" for humans, it's actually a dull film; but what is unique rather than most is that isn't some Hollywood flick, where you add adventure and excitement to a man riding a mower across a state. While watching it you feel as though you are actually watching someone do this, and you get a positive feeling where you at least expect any movie storyline rushing through. The film takes you through a maze of cornfields, truth, tragedy, hardship, and corporation. This film is a keeper, not something to erase over.
- In case your wondering where John Cusack has been since the hilarious "Grosse Point Blank"? Well you may want to check out "High Fidelity". Cusack plays an ever crazed music fanatic who owns his own record shop that caters to fellow fanatics. Meanwhile, while spending time writing out his top five favorite albums or the top five jobs he wanted, Cusack then bursts into the list of top five girlfriends of the past. They immediately haunt him, and he can't face the fact that these girls are the reason why he has been so humble and bored. Most of the movie is spent with loads of laughter while Cusack fumbles around tracking down these five girls and battling with his former girlfriend (Iben Hjejle,) whom he still loves. It's not an "Object Of My Affection" type of deal, nor "She's The One". Combining Cusack's boyish looks and wise attitude, the movie fits in just right for a good escape.
SPRING ~ 2000
If you make a time line dating from the prehistoric age to the present time, you will find that this man named Eldridge Cleaver would fit into the realm of it. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll mixed into the society of youths and young adults in the 60's as was the discrimination of black Americans. Most whites had been trained to look at blacks as something non-human, and blacks had been trained to take this brutality. There were separate bathrooms, they had to sit in the back of the bus, and some stores banned blacks from entering. After decades of this adversity, police brutality broke out, instead of looking for the usual white person crime, cops would insist on tracking down black misdemeanors and treated them like a felony.
So things started to change when the black role models like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were assassinated, and Rosa Parks made a extraneous move, and sat in the front of the bus with the whites, and when Eldridge Cleaver sat in his jail cell and wrote a masterful book called Soul On Ice, and set people into emotional state of thinking the exact question of: How are blacks really treated? Blacks turned to Elijah Muhammad of Islam for help and support and they found it; he gave hope to them and taught non-violence as did Gandhi in India. Soon teachers of the black world who learned from Elijah, like Malcolm X, and soon after Eldridge Cleaver began to break out and take hold of important factors.
In 1968 Eldridge Cleaver did sit in his jail cell and wrote a autobiography about himself and at the same time wrote about whites in blacks, their differences, their power, their tastes in women or men, the government, police brutality, and the whole time line on how black Americans have changed for better and for the worse. Cleaver gave a introspective view on the outlook of racism, and elaborated on the idea of freedom, and told us that discrimination and racism is prodigal. From the many individuals I have talked to about the book Soul On Ice, they say it affected the nation and was a inspiring book in the 60's. At one time a person may have been a pimp or a dope dealer, but as the racism crisis clashed and wise teachers like Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X spoke of freedom and their rights in the Constitution, that same dope dealer or pimp laid down their unearthly occupation and went on as a rebel and marched in a twenty mile anti-racism demonstration down in the middle of an all white neighborhood. In Soul On Ice Eldridge criticized the power of the government and school administrations, stating how it is not a free democracy in that society of learning nor working. I took one quote from a chapter on power and socialism: " If the capitalists are in power, they enforce laws designed to protect their system, their way of life". This would fit the Supply and Demand profit motive of capitalism of the past and present of our time.
Eldridge Cleaver was sentenced to prison for misuse of Marijuana and rape. In jail he discovered the values of being a black in America, and found that there was not much. Blacks amendment rights were abused, they don't live in a free society, and the only way one must deal with this way of life is to fight the system. And that's what Eldridge did, after typing memoirs, journals, and letters, and reading black and white authors, and studying the works of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, Cleaver made the decision to step forward and shine the light on all blacks and teach them their rights, and to console the needy and the poor. And with the immediate book Soul On Ice he not only shined a light but turned the sun around to shine for all.
The reason why Eldridge Cleaver made such a influence on me while reading Soul On Ice is his mobility and strength. He went to jail for crimes which he told us as wrong, rose above from as an astringent citizen in jail and went on as a black role model because he fought through the system of racism and won, he made people use their minds in a indigenous way. Eldridge went on to be leader of the Black Panthers, a large group around the nation consisting of African-Americans and fought rebelliously against the racism and discrimination, and with that effort of the Panthers, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Elijah Muhammad, and many other concise and precise teachers of the world blacks have partly dominated from that era decades ago. But racism is still a leading factor in the world, as is sexual harassment in the work field, and discrimination in the schools. Without leaders like these individuals our world is just digging their own grave. Now leaving this piece of writing, I give you two quotes that would fit into Eldridge Cleaver's world of learning and talent. One from a group called Rage Against the Machine: " So make your move and plead the fifth, 'cause you can't plead the first". And one from the Bible of Proverbs: " Badgers are not one of the mighty, yet they built their homes out of rocks". -- Spring 1999
THOREAU, NOW ME.
- A MOUNT MONADNOCK EXPEDITION -
Mount Monadnock stands alone at an elevation of 3,165 feet, in the midst of New Hampshire. Surrounded by lost leaved trees that stretch as far as the eye can see, which gives the mountain a feeling of "big."
It's a beautiful sunny Friday day in December with a somewhat California sky. I was pulled out of school to go climb a mountain - Monadnock. People have looked at it, people have talked about it and people have climbed it. From the early times with such writers as Henry David Thoreau to modern weekend city folks. I think of this, snapping a picture of my parents, before entering the entrance of the mountain's domain, between two split rocks. The trail we will climb is called the Dublin Trail.
The mountain's terrain is filled with wilderness - pine trees sprouting with little squirrels sitting near them. The ground has small rocks on the dirt with fallen leaves in between. We climb at steady speed, the trail is upward but we are not that tired but sweating enough. Halfway up the trail becomes all rock, where we have to use our hands to climb while the shiny view beckons of faraway towns behind. Ice patches from the morning dew and snow that was on the mountain a few days ago. Immense winds brush against our bodies making our hair brush all over the place. We all stop almost at the peak but still stunted evergreens block our view of the top. Climbing more we fall out of the windy forest and land upon a summit of all rock. The winds must be forty miles per hour .
My father is ahead of my mom and me, as we stumble and hop over nothing but rock, careful of not falling over because of the wind. I see other climbers from other trails coming up trying to find shelter while looking at the superb view. Finally the hour and fifteen minutes of climbing is worth it, for I have reached the summit and so has my mom. We all meet my dad at the top and stare out to the far-off lands and towns that stretch for miles. We look, we think, we climb. And say what a beautiful day this was.
Have you ever met a person bored out of their minds waiting for the second hand to strike the twelve for the three-hundredth time while watching it? Well in a movie called "Clockwatchers" you just may meet those people. Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow and a few other actresses star in a movie full of young hearts and dull heads. They await together in the office building they work at as secretaries. Carving names in desks, making fun of other workers, sipping black coffee and other mopey situations where they examine stolen things in the work place and wonder who is the thief "amongst them." The movie shows friends and how little things and mistakes and words may tear them apart. It may sound like a boring movie, but it really isn't. Funny things and unique behavior make it all the better to watch it. Come hither.
CLOCKWATCHERS - ***
After watching this very short film you think of short blurbs that kids usually say. Or blurbs that are on T-shirts like: "whatever"..., "what if," "talk to the hand." This is what "The Avengers" stands for after seeing it, "whatever", "what if," and "talk to the hand." The movie ( which hardly it is), has three actors who have been in well-acclaimed films - even two Academy Award films for Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List" and "The English Patient." And they all end up in a stupid thing like this. The film is about, I guess, a bad man played by Sean Connery, who has the ability to change the weather ( ooh, how so scary.) Then we have a clone of Dr. Peel (Uma Thurman) who keeps knocking Ralph Fiennes unconscious and then always ends up on Dr. Peel's living room couch drinking tea. The film has no beginning and has no end, like a book with missing pages. So why did the director bring in "The Avengers" to stop Sean Connery and save the world? I mean X-filers Mulder and Scully could have done it better in their one hour TV show. Maybe, even Al Roker? Well, anyway, the film is a major disappointment and not one to waste four dollars on seeing like I did.
THE AVENGERS half a star
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN *****
Mafia * - cold turkey
SCREAM 2 **
DIRECTED BY SPIKE LEE
The Buffalo Springfield theme song of the movie glides in, only remixed by Public Enemy.Three seconds into the song Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Aleen) does a one pump finger-roll and ... swish! He lands softly on the green basketball court where he first learned how to play the game when he was only three and a half feet tall. Playing against his father, who pushed him hard to make his achievement where he his now. "Check", his father says Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington). They both meet again, playing basketball against each other for the first time in years.
But things have changed in those few years. It's not the little boy who used to hold the basketball in two hands. It's the teenage role model in all the high schools who palms the ball with ease, swishes the ball with ease, dunks the ball with ease,and with all the agents who want him for college, he could easily slide into the NBA like butter.
With people nagging him about which college to go to, his father (Denzel Washington) has just gotten a bargain from the warden in his jail where he his serving time for manslaughter, for an accidental death of his wife. If he can make his son go to a certain college, where the governor went, the state will cut his time in jail.
So the rivals are on for Jesus between which college to go to and to fight for love with his father. I like the movie a lot , it is not one of your slam dunk movies just about basketball , if you want to see those go watch "Blue Chips" or "The 6th Man." "He Got Game" is just what it sounds like. Even with raunchy graphic sex the movie is still holds up. If you don't like basketball, and you do not get into Spike Lee's movies do not waste your time seeing it, but if you like both of those things, see it before any other movie.
HE GOT GAME ****
REGARDING MICHAEL CRICHTON
$7.99 reads the cover price for the book Airframe by Michael Crichton."Forget it", I say to my self putting the book back on the shelf in the Crichton section.
I'm traveling around following my parents around to bookstores in Massachusetts or let's just say New England. Finding a used or new books I like is pretty simple, because Robin Cook, Crichton and others are very popular these days. Passing through shelves millions of copies of Stephen King and Peter Straub you get to the used mystery and horror section. In the Michael Crichton section you always find Jurassic Park and Lost World and other"major motion picture books". I just finished the book Sphere, buying it used for a dollar. A couple of weeks after buying it, I went to the Atlantic shoreline, stopping at lots of different new and used bookstores. The used Crichton books ranged from 3.50-5.00 in paperback. The cloth copy was $7.99. The two books Jurassic Park and Lost World I did not need to read, ironically, because of seeing the movies made from the books too many times. I was more interested in the book Airframe, but no bookstores had it. Either these books of Crichton are really popular and the public buys them, or they just like to sell big blockbuster books. I'm still figuring it all out... (By the time I finished this review I found Airframe for $3.00 in Hyannis, Mass.) - May 1998
WHEN someone says they are going to the ocean you think sunglasses, hot weather, shorts, soda, parties, sunshine, etc. But sometimes the weather at the ocean could be compared to a windy Kansas prairie.
The waves get higher, as the wind gets stronger. Stepping out of from a Cape Cod cottage on the ocean in a t-shirt, I return quickly t o grab my windbreaker. I look plainly out over the Atlantic ocean thinking of something to do; to make use of my time. I look at the shoreline, many things have been washed up, such as strong fisherman's rope, driftwood, twigs, old lumber, plastic debris and a few other things. Having it be so windy I decided to build a small shack to break off the wind that was blowing against me. Getting low to the ground I put up thick washed up lumber barriers, six inches apart from each other, with a diameter of two feet. Then taking different kinds of driftwood and sticks to make the beams for the roof. Putting two thick logs on both sides of the stick barriers so the sticks would not fall down. Then I collected dry seaweed and covered the the roof and the barriers to have it turn out to be a small shack. Kind of like a fisherman's igloo. I crawled in the hut and sure enough it broke off the wind that was a problem building the shack. So when you go to the ocean and the wind or weather is bothering you, construct something like I did. It works! - May 1998
"Elsa!" cries the actress Virginia McKenna, returning in her jeep from the city where her husband is waiting in their African home. The female cuddlely lion named Elsa watches the woman pull in the driveway and all the lion wants is a hug and a kiss from the woman she thinks is her mother. This is a loving film about nurturing and the difficulties of letting something go - to be born free.
A sure family classic movie released in 1966, "Born Free" is about a man and a woman who are game wardens in the heart of Africa. They raise three baby lions but the one who is a clear favorite to them is named Elsa who they keep as a pet. The story climbs up like a set of stairs; each step tender and emotional as can be, till the closing moments that ends with a heartbreaking finale. A true tear-jerker for anyone. I recommend this film to be watched - on video is your best bet - with a big family or gathering with friends. Great story, great characters, great color, great film!
BORN FREE *****
"Magnificent," my parents say. "Magnificent," I say. "Magnificent," my friend says. The word magnificent is just the word for this movie. Robert Duvall and the rest of the cast of characters sets a flame for this magical film about one man accused of manslaughter. While he worries about that he pulls a southern town together with the help and act of God. Definitely a movie to take a day off from work to see.
Ever heard of the Coen Brothers? Maybe not. How about the movie "Fargo"? Probably. The Coen Brothers are back making some of much more black comedy since "Raising Arizona." Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi play two bowling block-rats getting mixed up with a rich man's flirting wife, who supposedly gets kidnapped. Bridges has many teenage sick humor jokes going; Goodman makes a good wild Vietnam veteran, but it all gets tiring after awhile. The movie is between a George Carlin show and a Monty Python movie. Goodman needs to get a grip on himself, Buscemi needs to shut up and Bridges needs to drink something other than a white Russian alcohol beverage.
The Big Lebowski *** and a half
I can't say much for this 1998 movie except for the people who can watch something made before 1960. Paul Newman plays an elderly private investigator, hunting down some murderer who is also after him. The movie has a sense like it's a play or an old film noir movie with Humphrey Bogart. It's not too hard to figure out who the murderer is through half the movie. Enjoyable at the time but it does not grow on you. Really not made for the regular modern thriller person. I think it's made for the old women who are still in love with Paul Newman since the days he was in "Torn Curtain" and "Hombre," or "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof." Good thinking, nicely shot but obnoxious.
WHEN you buy a CD and you open it up you of course see the CD and next to it is the flap where the lyrics are. Do you ever take the time to look or read the lyrics? Lots of musicians and songwriters write lyrics that are amazing, and they have stories. Sublime, for an example, has kind of sick ghastly stories of California city life. Rage Against the Machine has very intense powerful songwriting about rebel farmers and workers in the heart of Mexico. Rhyming is an important thing in music. Beck rhymes a lot but his songwriting really is pointless with no story. It's the same with many other groups. It is really a challenge for a group to rhyme and have a story. People who can rhyme and have a story is hip-hop and rap music. A hit song out now is called "Walkin' on Sun," by Smash Mouth. This is a great song, the melody is great. Just a few New York punks decide to add a ska 60's grunge sound to their punk sound album. Their lyrics have stories about politics and they rhyme every bit of the song. Then there is the Seattle grunge sound: Nirvana and Pearl Jam have dusty but electrifying voices. Voices that sound like they have been in the studio a bit too long recording. But their lyrics are bits and pieces of what's happened in their lives, and it's like a puzzle. You have to figure out what it means first. The same with Third Eye Blind and Radiohead. They both have airy and clean voices but the lyrics are like a puzzle or a maze. Third Eye Blind sing of lost loves and lost everything else. Radiohead sing of technology and aliens and U.F.O.'s. Then there's my favorite band Smashing Pumpkins, who some might say the lead singer Billy Corgan may have a crummy voice, but the lyrics are very talented and written with confidence. You may love a band that has precious written lyrics like it's written from the Bible, or you might have a group with a moral in the songs. Or you may have some group that just doesn't know what the heck they are singing about.
"Cut," said John Ford sitting in his director's chair. "To make western movies good, you have to draw your gun better," said John Ford to John Wayne. "Take one."
John Wayne drew his shiny Schollfield and pointed it at Lee Marvin.
"Cut," said John Ford. "We'll finish it in two weeks. I have to travel with Sam Peckinpah and Howard Hawks to meet some producers in Louisiana.
SnoreSnoreSnore went Sam Peckinpah sound asleep, Howard Hawks reading scripts and John Ford reading the Kansas Daily Reporter. We crossed the covered bridge. In the middle of it we got a flat tire. The limosine driver got out and started to curse some words that I could not put in the story. Meanwhile Howard was leaning over the bridge admiring the structure. Just then John Ford grabbed him to the flat tire to help. When that was done they headed to Louisiana.
"My foot is sore," complained John Ford.
"That's because you've sat in the director's chair too much," said Sam Peckinpah.
"I do not," said John Ford.
"Oh yes you do. Sometimes I see you there sitting doing nothing. No wonder you're so chubby," said Sam Peckinpah.
"Why you no good lousy"
"Break it up," said Howard. "Look we're in Louisiana, and oh my gosh there's the Huey P. Long. It's one of the longest bridges."
The car bumped onto the bridge. They looked down to the Mississippi River. It was huge and deep.
After hours we met the producer. "Hi, I'm Irving Thalberg. I'm your producer."
"How much is my movie 'Liberty Valence'?" asked John Ford.
"$10,000," said Irving.
"How about mine 'The Wild Bunch'?" asked Sam.
"$11,000," said Irving.
"How about mine, 'Red River,' asked Howard.
"$11,000," said Irving. "I got your hotel ready. The room is 203. Goodbye. Goodbye."
"So that's our producer, a talking robot and a living dictionary," said Sam.
The next minute Sam was snoring, Howard reading his scripts and John reading the newspaper.
March 14, 1995
'' Heil Hitler!'' This is the book for any young reader to read about Nazi Germany during the second World War. When you look at the cover of this book, don't put it down on the shelf with the other copies. This magnificent collection of words and pictures tells about one father's struggle with his wife and kids. They are a Jewish family being hunted down by the Nazis, and their moves from one concentration camp to another. It's a horrible story. In modern times, the son, Artie, goes to his father Vladek, and gets the whole story about his father and his wife Anja. After hearing the story, Artie lays it out as a comic strip. But the book is not a comic book. Switching back from present time to the past, it's sure to be a classic. It holds up just great.
by ART SPIEGELMAN *****
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