Anders Bergstrom's blog on Words, Films, and Music

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

After the all the hype, and the thumbs up from Anton (which still holds more weight that just about any critic out there), I finally bought the Arctic Monkeys debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. The verdict? It's good. I like it a lot. Possibly my favourite new album of 2006 thus far. They have a feel that vaguely reminds of The Strokes, The Libertines and any other combination of neo-classic punk, garage rock, with a touch of post-punk influence as well. That said, while they wear their influences clearly on their sleeves, they don't sound like they are merely aping those other bands or living in the past.

This is music for the moment, and that must be why they sold 118,501 copies of the album in its first day of release in the UK. That's the biggest debut since Oasis incase you're wondering.

I also bought the DVD of Walk the Line today as well: the 2-disc Collector's Edition. I'm a sucker for the "fancy" editions of DVDs. It's like they say, "This is the collector's edition" and I'm like Mickey Rooney on The Simpsons, saying, I'm a collector!. But I don't feel bad about this one. For one thing it was only $5 more. For another, the art was just a million times better. Also it comes with nifty cards of the various posters for the film, which I had earlier mentioned that I like quite a bit.

Critical scholarly editing is a somewhat disheartening activity. In our bibliography class today, we learned about the impossibility of creating the ideal text. We have documentary texts—the evidence left behind by authors and editors of the past—and we do our best to make something of them and justify our actions to our peers. But the ideal text is impossibility: one cannot say that we have, finally, the definitive text. We just have to do our best, knowing that in some way it will be a flawed attempt.

Some people dedicate their entire lives to such enterprises. The editors of an upcoming critical edition of Othello have been working for ten years; ten years knowing that what you created is still not perfect. I guess that’s what I find disheartening. I’d like to think that if I was going to dedicate all that time and energy to a project, I’d end up with some original work. I still hope to do so someday.

In the end, all this work is somewhat futile. It isn’t going to give our lives meaning. We need to take joy in the parts of life beyond what we do, what our labours yield. We can take joy in each other, in the relationships with family and friends, despite knowing that we will all fall short in some way.

And so our lives are somewhat like critical scholarly editing. We just have to make the best with what knowledge and ability we have, knowing that the end result will be inevitably flawed. But we keep going anyway. Who would have considered the existential ramifications of bibliographic work could be so grand?

In other news, I’ve been reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Some of it is somewhat repetitive, but there are flashes of brilliance and insight that have made it an enjoyable experience thus far. Seventy pages in an hour-and-a-half aren’t too bad. I find that when I want to really take in what someone is saying, especially in essay type books like this, I need to slow down and let it sink in. Her commentary on the experience of “seeing,” and particularly the experiences of those blind from birth, who through surgery are able to see for the first time, is moving and profound I think.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I stumbled across this song from this new Swedish band, The Envelopes and promptly downloaded their EP. It is so incredibly catchy, bouncy, rocking and...good. You can see the video here and check out their website here.

Today was a complete waste. I barely got anything considered work done, I just procastinated, dreading the week that is coming ahead. This song made the day worthwhile.

Friday, February 24, 2006

So, Venom it is? I guess the teaser poster for Spider-man 3 just goes to show that Raimi changed his song (he has been quoted in interviews as saying he never liked the character of Venom). Why else have the black suit/symbiotic costume without Venom? This should be interesting. I just hope Raimi doesn't pack the film too much; we have Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church), Venom, the promise of Harry as the new Green Goblin, and the introduction of Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard). Let's just hope he can pull it off.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ok, what the hell happened? How could we not score a goal? It's just mind blowing. Brodeur played well, but the offense was just lacking. I'm just wondering why players like Draper or Doan were selected for their "grit" and proven young goal scorers like Spezza or Crosby (who has international experience) weren't? I mean, Russia had their star rookie Alexander Ovechkin who scored the game winner. Some things to think about before Vancouver-Whistler 2010.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

These are hilarious. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

I'll post this one for you here, not only because it's great, but also as a tribute to Phil Brown (Uncle Owen in Star Wars) who passed away at 89 this past week. He was one of those thankless, unglamorous roles in the film, but he added a lot of believability as Luke's cranky but well meaning uncle.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I have to say that this news makes me very happy. After Disney shut down their traditional animation division last year, AICN is reporting that John Lasseter (head of PIXAR animation studios) is planning on bringing back the traditional 2D animation division of Walt Disney studios!

I'm a pretty big animation fan. I own over 40 animated films or collections on DVD and have always had an affection for Walt Disney's work. While I can't claim to have the insight or critical acumen that Luke has into the process of animation, I still celebrate the return of 2D work to the House of Mouse. The almagamation of PIXAR and Walt Disney, under Steve Jobs, is turning out to be the most exciting movie news of the year so far. Since Brad Bird, who's Iron Giant is among the best non-Disney animated films ever, is now part of the PIXAR team, perhaps he can make another fantastic 2D animated film.

If I had to pick my favourite Disney film I'd probably have to say Pinnochio has always been my favourite, and Beauty and the Beast ranks closely behind it. I have a real appreciation for the landmarks that are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia as well. I grew up watching Disney. Hey, how many 23-year-olds will admit that they bought Bambi on DVD? Yes, it's true. I'm a pretty hardcore fan.

What are your favourite Disney animated films?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy have started! I'm a huge fan of the Winter Olympics. Summer games, there's only a few events I really enjoy. Whereas I pretty much like every event in the winter games. How can you tell I'm a Canadian?

I also love the CBC coverage of the Olympics. For the next two weeks, Ron MacLean and Brian Williams will be on my TV pretty much non-stop. I've already been watching this morning as Canadian Jennifer Heil wins our first Gold Medal in women's moguls. Off to a good start. Go Team Canada!

Friday, February 10, 2006

I saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote this past week. Without going into an in depth review of the film, let me just say that I'll be rooting for Hoffman at the Oscars next month. The film focuses on Truman Capote's research into the murder of a Kansas farm family for his "non-fiction novel" In Cold Blood, and specifically the strange relationship Capote has with one of the killers, Perry Smith. Capote becomes fascinated with Smith and the insights that he gains for his novel. However, the film asks difficult questions about the nature and morality of such a relationship, especially when the ending of Capote's book becomes frusterated by the lack of closure to the killer's story. Catherine Keener is also good as Capote's best friend and research assistant, Harper Lee. I think it's a complex and engrossing film that deserves the accolades it's getting.

It's nice that Hoffman is getting the attention he is. After outstanding supporting roles in films like Almost Famous, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and 25th Hour. I also love that he's going to be the villian in M:I-III. It will be fun to watch Frank T. J. Mackey,
from Magnolia facing off againsthis dying father's male nurse, Phil.

I think I've mentioned before that I quite like my little apartment here in Victoria. It's cozy, clean, has a skylight and really, it's everything I need for my purposes and it's starting to feel like mine. Even the location is great, nicely situated equal distance between downtown and the University. But it's also just off a main street, and for some people, the noise of early morning traffic might be frusterating. Fortunately, I tend to sleep through almost anything (even earthquakes). But this morning was the exception: I awoke earlier than I would have hoped (today was a day I could have slept in) because they were doing work on the sidewalk one house away with a backhoe and a jackhammer! A goddamn jackhammer! Seriously, who starts operating a jackhammer at quarter-to-eight in the morning? Infuriating.

In other news the Curious George movie opens today, with the voice talent Will Ferrell as the Man in the Yellow Hat. Often I'm frusterated with the constant efforts of studios to "update" classic children's stories for mass consumption (see the recent Winnie the Pooh alterations for example), so it's somewhat heartening to hear that the movie is merely pleasent and appropriate for very young children to enjoy the adventures of a monkey without being subjected to sexual innuendo (ala Shrek) for once.

I've been well known for bashing singer Jack Johnson on numerous occasions. I thought it should be known that I have no active vendetta against the guy. The fact that I can barely get excited enough to care is pretty much my problem. However, he has recorded the soundtrack for Curious George, and it has been the number one selling album this week. I think Roger Ebert sums up my opinion of this very well in his review (linked to above): "There are songs sung by
Jack Johnson, which are pleasant if kind of innocuous."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Since it seems to be popular on other blogs, I'm going to post my viewing journal for January. Hopefully I'll be a little more consistent in keeping track of my movie watching this year.

I watched a fair number of films this month, though not at either my summer time or my old "Blockbuster free rentals" levels. I spent an afternoon back during the break watching a bunch of shorts with Anton & Aren on the new Disney Rarities DVD. Some great stuff on there, specifically Ferdinand the Bull and Ben and Me. My favourite first vewing of the month would have to be Munich. Loved it. Also had a riot watching Swayze in Road House. Enjoyable in a completely ridiculous manner. Grizzly Man, Hustle & Flow and Woody Allen's Match Point were three of the 2005 releases I caught that were really good and probably would have been on my honourable mentions list had I seen them before I did my list.

* First Viewing
† Non-Feature Length Film


1.01.06 *Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955) DVD
*Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989) DVD

2.01.06 †Ben and Me (Hamilton Luske, 1953) DVD
*†Alice’s Wonderland (Walt Disney, 1923) DVD
Ferdinand the Bull (Dick Rickard, 1938) DVD
Paul Bunyan (Les Clark, 1958) DVD
*†Noah’s Ark (Bill Justice, 1959) DVD
Chicken Little (Clyde Geronimi, 1943) DVD
The Hire: Hostage (John Woo, 2002) DVD
The Hire: Beat the Devil (Tony Scott, 2002) DVD
The Hire: Ticker (Joe Carnahan, 2002) DVD
The Hire: Ambush (John Frankenheimer, 2001) DVD
The Hire: Chosen (Ang Lee, 2001) DVD
Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) (Tom Tykwer, 1998) DVD

4.01.06 *Four Brothers (John Singleton, 2005) DVD

6.01.06 *Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005) DVD

8.01.06 *Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005) Theatre

12.01.06 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001; Extended Edition) DVD
*Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) Theatre
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Peter Jackson, 2001; Extended Edition; Commentary by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens Part 1) DVD

13.01.06 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Peter Jackson, 2001; Extended Edition; Commentary by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens Part 2) DVD

14.01.06 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas, 2005) DVD

15.01.06 *Memoirs of a Geisha (Rob Marshall, 2005) Theatre

19.01.06 *Hustle & Flow (Craig Brewer, 2005) DVD

21.01.06 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam, 1998) DVD

27.01.06 *Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005) Theatre

Friday, February 03, 2006

Also, news too odd to make up.

Thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for the link.

Actual conversation I heard from two women in their late-20s/early-30s, sitting behind me at the movie theatre last night:

First Woman: He is so hot.
Second Woman: Who?
First Woman: You know, that guy; tall, lanky, dark, sexy. I don't know, I just think he's incredibly hot. And he's got that intelligence about him too.
Second Woman: Uh, what's he in again?
First Woman: You know, the guy from The Big Chill, The Fly...
Second Woman: Oh, the Jurassic Park guy!
First Woman: Yeah! Jeff Goldblum!
Second Woman: Oh yeah! He is hot.

There you go. It's undeniable. Move over Brad Pitt. Goldblum is in the house.

"Hello? I forgot my mantra."

So, I just went to see Walk the Line. Finally. It's one of those films that slipped through the cracks last fall (partly on account that it opened on the same day as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), but that I really wanted to see. Fortunately the wasteland of release dates that is January/February (I mean, unless Underworld: Evolution is really your thing) solicitates me catching up with all the films that I didn't get to see in November/December or that opened in limited release in December and are just opening up in the wider markets now. Up on tap for the next week is Terrence Malick's The New World and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote.

So, Walk the Line; it's a really good movie. I liked it an awful lot. I liked it better than most of the biopics I've seen in ages. Much better than Ray. Jamie Foxx did an amazing job in that film, but Joaquin Phoenix doesn't seem like he's doing an imitation as much as peforming a character. He's not so much concerned with making one completely believe it's Johnny Cash on screen, as he is in making you believe the story that's being told. I appreciated that. He's a great actor. Reese Witherspoon is fantastic too. One believes that Johnny would fall for her and that she would become his best friend who would save him from his own personal demons of pills and booze. She is also just adorable. As of the moment, I'm rooting for her come the Oscars.

Plus the story of Johnny Cash is, to me, just very compelling. And I love the music. I'm home listening to Live at Folsom Prison as I speak (I think "Cocaine Blues" might be one of my favourite songs). It's also amazing that both Joaquin and Reese did their own singing for this film. Outstanding. And T Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain) did the music arrangements and choices and he continues to be the best in the business.

And finally, I think Walk the Line might have one of the best sets of posters I've seen in a long time. What do you think?