Saturday, July 25, 2009


The Orphan was disappointing, not just because the waif-from-hell storyline features the dumbest family in the history of demon children movies but also because a boom mike can be spotted in every other interior scene. How did this shite get released? Good lord! The kid, Isabelle Fuhrman, who's like 12 years old and a native of my hometown, is pretty creepy though. Her Russian accent is a little spotty. Don't ask.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sunbeam Bread Commercial '50s

This commercial features shapeless though faceless female characters and a lumpy, buffoon of a father character that appears to be aping Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton, popular comedic actors of the day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Duncan Jones's "Moon" borrows from "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Solaris" and "Silent Running" but does manage to offer up a unique vision of alienation and disconnectedness. Sam Rockwell gives a wonderful performance in this film about Sam Bell, a man counting down the days until he's relieved from duty on a desolate lunar mining station. Kevin Spacey voices Bell's computer companion, Gerty. It's captivating.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I'm not a Potterite.I have not read the whole of a single volume in the series. I engage the films as cultural phenomena even though they have been, consistently, quite magical.

To me, this story of a boy wizard is not only the tale of messianic identity and good v. evil, it also appears to be about connectedness in a fractured and threatening world. The orphaned Harry, the reputed Chosen One to lead the final battle against the dark forces, is a figure rooted in other British literary creations like David Copperfield and Tom Brown, but he is such an interesting figure to me. Harry is marked and detached, loved and cared for by a host of people, but essentially disconnected and alone, and lonely, in his quest to defeat "he whose name must not be spoken," a task he seems at once driven by and ambivalent toward. The emotional and psychological dimensions of his life take on richer dimensions in the latest, highly enjoyable film.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We're All in This Together PSA

I've seen this spot dozens of times now, in movie theaters, and am still torn. I understand the message, I think ~ Working together is better for everyone ~ but why stage it with the Down syndrome kids? It seems to be saying "the least among us will lead us." But what if we don't see Down syndrome children in that way? Doesn't this become patronizing? A similar spot that features a young Down syndrome woman as prom queen, see below, is even more problematic for me. I think it's based on a true story but it strikes me as cloying and condescending and treats the woman like a mascot or maybe an object of pity.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I'm fairly sure that at some point most of the millions of people who will see Bruno will stop for a second and ask "Why am I laughing?" I laughed more to keep myself from leaving the theater than to share in whatever hilarity was transpiring on the screen. Norman Cousins promoted the therapeutic qualities of laughter. I actually felt depleted by this film, spiritually. Sacha Baron Cohen's heart might be in the right place in getting audiences to confront their issues with homosexuality but the gags seem inappropriate -- not just because of their crudeness -- but because they obscure the message. Maybe other folks will be delighted and enlightened by this film, I wasn't.

Jay Smooth's Reflection about Michael Jackson

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Man's Best Friend

The tone of this commercials is less acerbic than other Folgers spots until the end. The mention of man's best friend at the end seems odd because the puppy bit at the top was so brief the context was lost and it seems a bit of slight against the wife.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Public Enemies

I can't remember the last time a film delivered the whole package ~ impeccable acting at all levels; smart, efficient directing; intelligent art design, a beautiful score, etc. Maybe Eastwood's "Changeling"? In any event, Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" delivers some fine action and two or three wonderful performances ~ Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, Marion Cottliard as his moll Billie Frechette and Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover ~ and immaculate period art direction and a sumptuous score that plays heavily into the narrative but the film is too often over-modulated and frantic and, in that regard, unsatisfying. In fact, the quieter scenes between Depp and Cottliard are splendid. She really is quite an actress. The bloody gunfights, while somewhat artful, felt like homages to Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde and Sam Peckinpah's Wild Bunch. I will say the final reel is some of the best cops and robbers (literally) movie making since Brian DePalma's The Untouchables, but it wasn't enough to make this a great film.

Queen & Slim

In the soon to be iconic photograph from Melina Matsoukas's distressing Queen & Slim, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith...