What They Blogged For.

Love. Hate.

Before we say our final goodbye, I just wanted to leave you with a random sampling of posts from some of my favorite people on this blog:

Benjie’s Skyrim addiction.

Occam Razor on “The Seven Robots You Meet In Heaven.”

Benjie and I watching New Moon and The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2.

A Movie Script Ending.”

The MPDG vs. the Amazing Girl, Heroes vs. BSG, and Kirsten Dunst vs. Kate Hudson.

Peanut St. Cosmo saying goodbye to her Blackberry.

(And really, just anything by Peanut, cause there’s too many to list.)

Fuck Yeah Sayid!

Anytime we talked about Lost.

High Fidelity vs. 500 Days Of Summer.

Hey, Shitface, Get Off My Lawn!”

Benjie and August Bravo on internet hype, and meeting expectations, and also Super 8.

Independence Day 2?

The end of the Counterforce podcast, and the birth of Time Travel Murder Mystery.

J Fran Fran.

Jonathan Franzen and his “Strong Motion.”

Benjie on his favorite sequel ever.

Occam Razor on a post peak oil world, and big booty bitches.

Benjie on how to properly spend New Year’s Eve.

While my torrent gently downloads” by Benjamin Light.

This is by no means a complete list, not at all. It is, in fact, an extremely rushed list. And may actually be a really terrible retrospective, at least in terms of showing what we did best, when we did our best, but oh well.

It’s just a few of my favorites. I would invite you to explore further, if you get the chance.

(of Mars.)

I didn’t see John Carter, the long burning adaption of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books, on its opening weekend.

But neither did you. And neither did a large chunk of the rest of North America.

I saw it today though, two weeks (perhaps?) or so into its run.

I’m going to wax ineloquently about its pros and cons, if you will, and I’ll do it as briefly as I can. I can already suspect that very little of what I’m going to say will be about the film itself.

PRO: The film is good. It is strong, and solid, and good. It is enjoyable, especially on a rainy Saturday afternoon, in the movie theater.

CON: It’s long. Not super long, no, but they could’ve cut about twenty minutes or so down and it would’ve felt like a sharper bullet fired at the audience (in the hopes of making a trilogy-sized wound?).

A somewhat similarly related CON: Another light breeze through the script could’ve helped. Michael Chabon does a decent job, definitely, but they should’ve brought in a seasoned script doctor (like Joss Whedon from the late 90s) and let them punch up the dialogue a little more, toss in a few more one liners.

Neither a PRO, nor a CON: It’s just funny to see McNulty in this movie. Does he only play incredibly sleazy bad dudes in his film work? I would’ve killed for a “What the fuck did I do?”

Also, neither a PRO, nor a CON: Ciarán Hinds and James Purefoy, reunited. Interesting. I wanted to scream, “CAESAR, LOOK OUT!” Purefoy’s only in the movie for about five and a half minutes, but he’s the only character really having a lot of fun, it seemed like. Which is weird because, at the same time, given the kind of characters that Purefoy usually plays, or doesn’t, I felt like he was ready and willing to take over Dominic West’s role in a heartbeat should he have felt ill or something.

Also, Polly Walker’s in the mix too. What a weird Rome reunion.

Related, but neither a PRO or a CON: You really could’ve unleashed this story as an HBO show, especially in light of success with properties like A Song Of Ice And Fire on HBO and Spartacus on Starz. Everything seen here in this movie would’ve made for a very strong first season.

PRO (obviously): Andrew Stanton. The guy’s good.

I remember going into the theater to see the last Mission: Impossible film, humorously subtitled Ghost Protocol, with no real expectations at all, mostly because the trailers and advertising were so sub par. Obviously I liked The Incredibles and Brad Bird’s talent there was undeniable, but there was no real clear indication in the advertising for Ghost Protocol as to what that would look like in Bird’s live action debut.

Long story short, Ghost Protocol was good. A real solid, fun popcorn flick. Definitely worth watching. I walked out of that thinking that, rather than jerking us or themselves around, Tom Cruise and J. J. Abrams and their associates might as well just lock Brad Bird down for another Mission: Impossible film. Will they? Who knows. Probably not. He’ll probably return as a “producer,” but they should.

PRO (continued): A little of that though, that ambivalence, is why I just wasn’t jazzed to see John Carter. I read more good reviews than negative ones, but nothing in that trailer was making my cock stand up, you know what I mean? I mean, I’ll probably go and see The Hunger Games, and I’ll most likely hate it and curse Gary Ross’ name in the dark, but I’ll see it out of obligation. The flat out suck is more than apparent already in The Hunger Games‘ trailers. I’m going to go out on a limb and say right now that Gary Ross will probably have spent more time obsessing over weird costume designs and facial hair and shit than developing strong stories, interesting action sequences, or interesting characterizations.

The difference between that instance and the one I’m somewhat talking about here in this post is simple: Gary Ross is a fucking hack and Andrew Stanton is the real deal.

Spoiler for all The CONS listed in this post: The marketing and advertising for this movie is fucking terrible and all the blame for the film’s poor Box Office performance should reside squarely on their shoulders.

PRO: There’s about ten minutes of this film set in the Old West, and every bit of it was more exciting than the entirety of Cowboys And Aliens. I’m very glad that Jon Favreau got shown the door from this production.

PRO: You get the sense that Stanton gets film, gets how it should flow and feel, especially the big popcorn munching blockbuster, in a way that can only be viewed in another modern filmmaker in the likes of someone like the aforementioned J. J. Abrams. Their style is original, using the tools of today, but it also feels like a respectful homage to a 70s style as well, something from George Lucas or Spielberg. I don’t say that in a bad way though. They’re not like the average Tarantino beast, inserting 13% original creativity into a mutant wearing a t-shirt that says “BIG SLOPPY HOMAGE” on it. But I feel like Super 8 was just Abrams addressing the fact that he knew what he was doing, where his style was born. I feel like John Carter is doing that too, but in a much more quiet voice.

Thesis Statement of the PROs: About half way through the viewing of this movie I started to wonder if this film was the closet that I would get to watching the original Star Wars film as a kid.

Perhaps it was thinking that that completely kicked me into a higher gear of of enjoying this film. I mean, I have nitpicks, yeah.

Tons of them, in fact: Starting with cutting this film down a little bit, not in the editing room, but at the drawing board stage, just tightening some things up, some of the chases and what have you, and punching up some of the dialogue. Some diversification of the character designs, especially the warring civilizations, and primarily the “red people,” the humanoids from the warring city-states. There should’ve been a mindset in place for the fact that this movie should be for KIDS, and also adults who accompany them. And more of a mindset than just slapping the tiny little Disney logo on top of the posters.

I mean… Right?

PRO: Taylor Kitsch doesn’t seem like a very interesting entity to be pushing upon filmgoers, but I guess I like him better than Sam Worthington. That said, Kitsch (Sorry, that’s a terrible last name for an actor) does a fine job in this film, but the rest of its cast is fascinatingly seasoned:

Lynne Collins as Dejah Thoris, as well as Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Strong, David Schwimmer, and Art Malik are in there with the aforementioned Hinds, Purefoy, Polly Walker, and Dominic West. And with a cameo by Jon Favreau. And thankfully no cameos whatsoever by Harry Knowles (taking the cheapest of shots here: we would’ve needed something a little bigger than IMAX for that).

Taking a smart note from the original Star Wars there is that you have a unique mixture of British pedigree there, all chewing on that Martian scenery.

CON: The shortened title. I get Stanton’s reasoning, that this film is about John Carter becoming of Mars. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blah, blah blah. But still. I don’t know how many Tarzan and/or John Carter and/or lovers of old pulpy sci fi were out there, horny with desire at the thought of this finally coming to the big screen, but still. The OF MARS at the end of the title would’ve really clued you into something going on there. Something different. Simply titling the film John Carter tells me one thing about this movie: I don’t know what this is. Is it a film about a high school basketball coach who applies tough love to his students? Is it about a guy who starts his own company and starts a relationship with a receptionist and also has cancer? Is this a lawyer and/or a doctor flick?

CON, continuing: Leaving the “Of Mars” at the end of the title should’ve lit a fire under the advertising people’s asses too. And perhaps the production design as well. No one on this production should’ve been afraid to go weird here. Obviously they weren’t too precious about the original source material (who is these days?)(other than the people adapting Game Of Thrones), which is fine, because there was nothing too precious in Burroughs’ source material, but there should’ve been some steps outside of the box.

Interlude to this CON: An example of them not being terribly, painfully faithful to the source material: the (would be titular) princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris.

from here.

I like Lynn Collins, and I’m glad with how they reinvented her character for this story. The original idea of Dejah Thoris in the books seems like a castoff wet dream from Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales, and can rightfully belong in the wet dream and basement apartments of fan boys. This is the real world. “Tits” and “Ridiculous nudity” are not character qualities.

The princess of Mars, by Bruce Timm, from here.

Sorry, CON, continued: There should’ve been more steps outside the box in every aspect of this film’s production, really.

There’s no denying that filmmaking has gotten so much lazier since the late 90s, but that goes hand in hand with how much lazier advertising these films has gotten since then. And yet, the advertising budgets for studios is getting bigger and bigger, going through the roof, even when they’re seemingly returning less and less profits. The budget for John Carter is supposedly $250 million dollars, which really means that it’s total budget with the marketing is, what, a minimum of $350 million? Ugh. I’m sure they’ll make that back, but not quickly enough.

But I guess you could say that the film was doomed by the time its first teaser was released.

CON, still continuing, becoming more and more of a bitch session about modern movie marketing and more of a circle jerk over the original Star Wars: The beauty of the original Star Wars as that, to then modern cinema-going audience, it was new. Sure, all that Joseph Campbell shit was old, but they didn’t know that, not consciously. All the fat little nerds weren’t sitting in movie theater lines in 1977 waxing poetic over the hero’s journey. No, they wanted to see a good story and some cool shit, and the film fucking delivered. George Lucas took stuff from primal storytelling archetypes and he took a little from classic pulpy sci fi and he managed to remix it into a very new style.

I’m guess I’m telling you that John Carter has a little of that (but not enough). I guess I’m telling you that we desperately need more of that. We need that potential and we need marketing that delivers the suggestion of a little of that to audiences.

PRO: Again, the movie just solid, and fun. Not perfect. Not a home run, but better than a lot of the shit that you could end up seeing in theaters these days. I’m going on and on about the sins of films these days and how they’re slaves to the advertising departments, but the thing I really want you to take from this is that John Carter is a pretty good movie, even if the trailer would’ve lead you to that assumption, or to any kind of assumption of what kind of movie it is.

One last CON: The ending. It ends somewhat ambiguously, but in a happy way. It wraps this story up in a way that works, even if it means that there will never be a sequel, which could very well be the case. I was somewhat reminded of the adaptation of The Golden Compass from a few years ago, which was not great. I’m a huge lover of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, of which The Golden Compass was the first entry, and I was ready to forgive a lot of the sins of that film adaptation, of which there were so fucking many, but the one I could never forgive was that they cut off the last thirty pages’ worth of the story’s ending, which they had filmed, with the intention of moving it to the beginning of the proposed sequel, which never happened.

Similar to what they did with the ending of The Two Towers, and how they moved its ending to the start of The Return Of The King.

And they did that because I guess they were afraid to end the film on a slightly downer of a cliffhanger. The fools. They needed that cliffhanger so badly. And The Golden Compass was edited like they weren’t expecting to be filming the follow up any time ever, so why not go for broke?

I’m not saying that John Carter needed to do that. They could’ve though. Rather than tying up the one last lingering plot point, such as they did, they could’ve thrown a mystery into your face. That’s another lesson Star Wars that a lot of the so called modern myth makers seem to not see: If you want to have a nice, large tapestry, it better have a lot of complex threads in it, any one of which could produce an interesting story. You walked out of A New Hope not quite sure of what was going on with that Darth Vader dude, or Luke’s dad, but you knew there would be an interesting story there if someone ever brought the story back to the movie theater near you…

The Rise Of My Dark Knight Rises Anticipation Boner.

I’ve always wanted to title a blog post something as eloquent as that. Wonderful.

Anyway, a recut of the trailers from the three films in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but with Michael Caine‘s voice over from The Prestige trailer laid over…

…And it’s fitting. And wonderful. And exciting. In preparation for this movie I’m attempting to strongly cultivate a healthy environment for my excitement and anticipation to grow, while not being ensnared by expectations.

Also, this:

Your mind is the scene of the crime.

Your eyes may be open but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re awake.

All that glitters isn’t necessarily gold, not all travelers are lost, and that stuff underneath your feet isn’t necessarily Earth. When the sky’s the limit (and possibly not even then), when you can do and create anything, you’re still grounded by your own rules. Your own sense of understanding of ideas and concepts. Theft and violation are painfully easy, but inspiration is hard. Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there. Things can only appear strange to you sometimes when you’re told that perhaps that’s what you should be looking for. Sometimes it’s hard to fall, or to feel like you’re falling, when there is no gravity.

This is my simple, rudimentary thoughts on Christopher Nolan’s Inception in three and a half points.

1. Every time I go to see a good movie in a movie theater, one that both excites and intrigues and involves me in some regard, be it superficial or something deeper, more substantial, it’s like a dream, isn’t it? We love the idea of dreams because they’re the perfect metaphor for… anything. Anything you desire.

And more so, we love our stories, and we love comparing movies to dreams.

Film logic just has to captivate you for the time that you’re watching it, to keep you floating in a suspension of (dis)belief, and then the movie ends, the credits roll, and you crawl out of the cave of the cinema. If you’re going to see the matinee, then the sun outside is harsh, and cruel. Your senses are heightened to extraordinary degrees. Every step feels more epic, the angle of objects seems more profound. You just experienced something amazing and you’re taking a little bit of it with you, and by contrast, you feel like you’re leaving a little of yourself behind, but you move on from it because you feel touched, activated, feeling pretty amazing yourself. You move with your own soundtrack blaring, your mind working overtime and recovering from the shock of excitement.

Waking up from an intense, weighty dream can inspire you and invigorate you, especially if for even just half a second, you think you’re waking and walking into another dream, even more stupendous, and of your own design.

2. Comparing things to video games infuriates me. But mostly it’s the people doing the comparing that bother me because, honestly, the idea of comparing things, especially movies, and certain modes of reality, to the idea of a “video game” interests me. I’m by no means a gamer, but the idea, and it’s possibilities, excites me.

Video games are like dreams in a certain regard, aren’t they? At times you’re completely powerful, in control of everything in your surroundings and yourself, and then, with little to no warning, you’re absolutely powerless and everything is completely out of control. The shit hits the fan, then the fan explodes, and somebody gets their head cut off.

Inception feels like a video game. It’s a cerebral maze of ideas, working on a multiple of levels, dabbling exquisitely in both terms of narrative, time structures, visual metaphors, and big ideas and memes (and sorry, everybody, I know the word is beyond detested, but the concept of it, the virus of the idea that spreads and can’t be killed is both thrilling and terrifying).

The other day Benjie Light and I were talking about things that we want to do in our lives, stupid things that we want to imitate from the movies/books/pop culture stories that we’ve ingested and loved over the years, and my big three things were 1) solve a mystery, preferably a locked room murder mystery, 2) plan and execute a (hopefully successful) heist, and 3) diffuse a bomb with mere seconds left on the clock. Commander Light also understandably suggested “car chase” as a scenario that would be nice to throw in the mix, and he’s right, but I’d toss that into the heist paradigm.

My point: I would love to play the video game based on Inception. The one that has a story that works brilliantly and ambitiously and only gets strange when a stranger suggests to you that something seems strange. And then you explore the depths of that strangeness. You have fist fights in rolling hallways, watch cities rise up to meet you, get attacked by angry mobs and the spectre of your Oscar-winning French hottie wife, fire guns, blow shit up, both run and chase after faceless nefarious goons, and deliver mind blowing bits of exposition while looking incredibly GQ.

Also, I’ll say this: Inception had a certain frame of mind to it that I feel like The Matrix could’ve really benefited from having had ten years ago.

It’s a video game that would excite you on a variety of levels, both on the superficial and the deeper, the more intellectual. A cerebral workout. An existential knife fight. The only thing that would make it better than the movie, though, would be that it was presumably interactive.

2 1/2. The thing I’ve noticed about Nolan’s films is that they’re all plot. They’re far from indulgent and long and dense and they move fast, leaving very little time for fireworks that are purely character building. In that sense, he’s the exact opposite of P.T. Anderson, who’s films are all character, and sometimes those characters move in a certain direction that takes them from a starting point to a stopping point. But in the exercises of narrative, Nolan manages to paint shades of characters, both skeletal sketches, like Cillian Murphy’s character in Inception, and those with the driving illusion of more depth, like Dicaprio’s in this film.

And grounded. So grounded. Nolan’s films are fantastical creatures of oneiric energy that are dreamed up by inhabitants of the real world. As scholarly influenced as they are, even their madness, and his, is grounded, and logical. His Gotham City and battle gear clad vigilantes are both out of this world and something that could play on the 5 o’cock news in this world.

Nolan doesn’t speak in a language of dragons and flying carpets and talking animals and liquid robots that morph in physics-defying feats of light and spectacle. His characters live in dreamlands based on urban mazes and high speed travel and real world concern and drabness. And they dream/create with the tools that their worlds give them.

Half of movies is glamor and glitz and show and all preconceived notions. And Nolan is good about using that, especially in his casting. Michael Caine can walk into just about any scene in a movie now and seem like the wise, but slightly jaded mentor who knows that you’re about to go down a pretty dark, fairly shitty path, but still supports your decision and has a few nuggets of sage wisdom for you. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a certain level of cool attached to himself, either earned or not earned. Ellen Page perfectly fits into the category of smart newbie who’s still learning the ropes and is beginning a journey, despite her probably immense and amazing knowledge of all things Cisco. Ken Watanabe always carries a certain sinister edge with him, though perhaps that’s just an occidental thing. And Leonardo Dicaprio has perfectly aligned himself with a certain archetype, that of the little boy grown up into a man, hardened with anger and guilt, and we’ve accepted him as the protagonist cipher who will either work through his issues or ultimately be destroyed by them.

My only complaint about the actual production/composition of this film is the level of soundtrack on display at all times. I really liked Hans Zimmer’s score to the film, so much so that I went and bought the soundtrack immediately after the movie concluded, which was a surreal experience all of it’s own since I saw the film at the theater in the mall which was a weird labyrinth to wander through as I was re-composing myself into reality after exiting the movie. Maybe it was just a bad mix at that theater, but the score seemed to be too loud at certain points, competing with the actors and their dialogue, sometimes defeating them a little, which is a shame because as I said, with Nolan’s movies, nothing is wasted, not a single shot, not a single glance or expression, and especially not a single word or sentence.

I think it’s safe to say that this is the kind of movie that Counterforce has been waiting for all of it’s short life (2+ years now).

SPOILERS, from here.

Apropos of nothing, here’s an idea that you should carry with you into viewing this movie: “just as movies are metaphorical dreams, maybe dreams are metaphorical movies.” Well said. Inception can be just another popcorn action heist movie for you if you want (especially in 2010, the year we make contact with heist movies like The Losers, The A-Team, and Takers), or it can be something more. Or both.

Benjamin Light put forth a desire that I’ll repeat here: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page should do more movies together. They’re the brightest of the hip young things in the world of thespians with cred these days, yes?

That said, amazingly, James Franco was close to getting Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role originally. And Nolan’s original desire was to cast Evan Rachel Wood in the role of the architect, and then it floated towards Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams, and even Emma Roberts before Ellen Page was cast. That’s just fascinating. And so bizarre.

3. I haven’t repeated the plot of Inception here and I’m not going to. Go look it up. Then watch the movie. Then watch it again. Here’s a spoiler though: Inception ends just like Shutter Island, after a fashion.

There’s a college course or at least a long conversation for armchair cineaists and philosophers in movies like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Mulholland Drive, and Synecdoche, New York, and Inception belongs in the mix with them. Movies are all dream logic, especially more so in the last few years. At a certain point, a 1/3 or 2/3 of the way through movies with a certain “out there” kind of story, we start to look for the seams and loose threads of the eventual reveal that “it was all a dream.” Especially in Synechdoche, New York. By the end of that film, you’re pretty sure that at some point you’ve crossed over into a dream world, but the question is simply: Where? At least Mulholland Drive is a little more straight forward about that, at least, for the filmgoer with is both actively looking for and completely open to massive weird download of logic and strange visuals and strong, penetrating emotions the film requires you to take in.

Shutter Island almost belongs in that same thread of films, and somewhat suffered because of it. Read any two reviews of that film and at least one will say some variation of “I could guess the ending of this movie long before the finish line and you know why? Because I’ve seen movies before.” So little shocks us these days, and we’re somewhat let down by twist endings now just because they’re expected. We set an extra place at the dinner table for them. Identity was a fine, harmless movie, but after about 25 minutes into it, you were pretty sure that a crime was being committed against you and the culprit was going to be a writer with a flashy, showing idea about tricking your expectations.

And once you start to look for those tricks, you feel like a trick that’s been turned. You open your eyes, you see the money on the dresser.

At least Inception is up front and honest about all of this, with it’s simple and confounding tagline: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.”

from here.

To mix metaphors even more: I think one of the many problems with the modern take on “twist endings” and “it was all a dream” logic in the cinema is that your goals as a viewer and participant get too confused. Are you looking for the map or are you looking for where the map leads you. X is supposed to mark the spot, but it’s tough to translate that when you’re X in that equation.

And, slowly but surely, twist endings are becoming the new “Hollywood ending.” Once upon a time and through the woods and only in a dream can you live happily ever after.

The thing that saves Inception and Shutter Island‘s endings is that they fall down to the user. You’re required to make a certain level of decisions, to feel something, and decide what you believed just happened. You have to be both actively involved, and also open and ready to receive, you have to “get it,” and in return, the film lets you pick a path to go down. It was all dream. Or it wasn’t. The main character remembers everything. Or doesn’t. Something happened here. Or maybe it was there. Maybe it was earlier. Or later. This is a review. It isn’t.

Actually, it isn’t. Just my immediate reactions, of a sort, having just walked out of the movie something like two hours ago (it’s roughly 5 PM as I write this). Such a strange experience watching the end credits rolling for that movie. Like I was walking out of a half remembered dream of sorts, standing on a widening chasm between a narrative flashing on the walls of my unconscious/subconscious mind and the harsh light of day in the real world. Which works dually for this movie as well: An artsy movie full of deep ideas, or at least ideas that can feel deep, but done in a slick, expensively executed mainstream way. As if Michael Mann had remade 8 1/2.

The theater I was in was virtually empty, the two other people there with me more invisible than usual, and it was so strange to feel that as I walked out of the shared dream that is the cinema that way. Dreamspace faded away, light entered the room, the real world was knocking on the door, and I felt more alone than usual. It was a scary but important feeling, my brain decided as it’s gears grinded and took delight in processing what it just took in, but even still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the movie was over and now it was time to go back to sleep.

Xs and Os.

Two songs about last night and today…

1. Dido “Mary’s In India”

Last night, about an hour or so before I fell asleep, I got a phone call. An old friend that I had talked to… well, it hasn’t been a long time since I talked to her, it had probably only been a week, and that was nice. So we talked for about an hour and eventually, the effects of the long day and long night started to take their toll on me and I was already laying down and I could feel the fatigue really setting in. My eyelids were getting heavy. I could feel myself slipping a little. This was at like 1 or 2 in the morning and though it was nice talking to her, having to work early today, I didn’t really want to fight this, you know?

The sad thing is that she and I were in the middle of a very, very, very important conversation, which was: The five “safe” celebrities that you, if you were in a relationship, could sleep with and it wouldn’t be counted as cheating and your girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other would have to be okay with. You know, like in that episode of Friends. And man oh man, maybe it’s cause I was tired, but I was having a really hard time coming up with five. I was struggling. It was pathetic. I would say things like “Natalie Portman,” which felt timely, but also a bit generic.

Also weird and coincidental was that earlier in the week Benjie Light and I had a conversation about various celebrities and their “eras and fuckability.” This is only the kind of conversation that two men can have, but I’ll let Commander Light finish that tale.

Anyways, so the conversation kept going, talking about other things here and there, filling in the holes of my trying to think up potential celebrities to hypothetically sleep with, and I started drifting off, a few seconds here, a few more there. Apparently I was mumbling things at one point. I didn’t realize what it was until my friend texted me this morning, telling me that she googled some of the things I was saying and they were apparently from this Dido song. How fucking weird is that?

But that got me thinking about female-centric pop music from the past ten to fifteen years and I started hitting up the easy peezy nostalgia machine: Youtube. Some videos listened to: “The One” by Tracy Bonham, “Wrong Impression” by Natalie Imbruglia, “No Man’s Woman” by Sinead O’Connor, “Simple Kind Of Life” by No Doubt, and “Open Your Eyes” by Tonic.

So that was that and now I’m going to take it here for just the briefest of moments…

2. The Concretes “Say Something New”

The other night, approximately three nights ago, I ran into an ex. We had a lovely, not terribly long encounter. Did a little talking, maybe shared a few drinks, caught up just about as much as we needed to.

The next day, I ran into her again. “This is weird,” I said to her as I stood there in the harsh light of day after the previous night. “Isn’t it though?” she said with his bemused smile. I was in a rush, “no time to talk,” I said, “but it was nice running into you again so out of the blue,” and then I was gone.

The following day, ran into her again. “Isn’t this weird and exciting?” she asked with this pre-crazy look in her eyes.

“Uh, sure…” I said. Then I thought about it for a moment and amended that: “Actually, no, sorry. That’s weird. Haven’t seen you for a very, very, great long time and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I keep running into you. It’s weird and it’s bizarre. Plus, you know my well trodden paths and I don’t know yours at all. I couldn’t fake running into you even if I wanted to, but you… you could.”

She just smiled. It was a nice smile, a bit mysterious and intriguing. “Yes, I suppose you could say that,” was what she said.

Then I added: “You know, the mafia have a saying. They have a lot, I’m sure, but they’re all quotes from The Godfather, most likely. But they have another too. It’s this: Once is happenstance. Twice? That’s just coincidence. But three times? That’s enemy action.”

“That’s a mafia quote?” she asked.

“I have no idea,” I said. “It was in Goldfinger and it sounds like the kind of thing I’d like the mafia to say.”

“Ah,” she said.

Then she told me of certain ulterior motives, which are nice in theory but not so hot in fact following upon certain words and deeds from long, long ago. She asked certain questions, proclaimed certain things, and made vague suggestions about the future… A shared future that she was suggesting. Such professions can be flattering at times and, sometimes, such professions can be… repetitive.

And to her, and to all the internet and the ex’s out there who are far better off that way, I propose and dedicate the above song by the Concretes. To everyone else I dedicate the song below:

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice and everything nice. If you’re baking a cake, that is.

Let me first just bring up three movies…

(500) Days Of Summer:

The upcoming Kick Ass:

The (also upcoming) completely unnecessary Let Me In:

I mention these three movies because of their common quality: A young lady by the name of Chloë Moretz who appears in all of them. This actress, who is all of 12, already has three very interesting movies on her resume, as well as a slew of others in her past and most likely upcoming. She’s listed on IMDB as one of the 10 to watch in 2010.

I thought she was excellent in (500) Days Of Summer, far exceeding things we expect from child actresses in her role as the strongest voice of reason/youngest sister of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character. And while Kick Ass looks kind of dumb to me, she easily looks to be the best part of it.

Easily.

I’m kind of concerned about Let Me In though, directed by Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves, which is a remake of Let The Right One In. Well, not concerned so much, because I honestly don’t care, but someone changing the setting from snowy 1980s Sweden to America just didn’t seem all that exciting to me. Then they cast Moretz as the little vampire girl with a complicated past and I was more interested. I don’t expect her to play the same character as in the original movie but I’m impressed with her and curious what she’ll do with the role, how the role will translate into something new with her performance.

Also, I’m not all that impressed with how the title changed from Let The Right One In to Let Me In, thereby losing all the nuance of the original title in exchange for something that sounds like a pop song. Which is ironic, I know, considering that the original story gets it’s title from a pop song.

You can click here for a description of the new film.

As for Kick Ass… Eh. Whatever. Scott Pilgrim looks more interesting to me, but in part, they seemed design to be specifically baiting the nerds. Or just those creatures of fish and human that latch onto all hype, either as fodder for incessant bitching or joining a bandwagon of… something. Kick Ass may be fun, may be a joke onto itself (and may very well be in on the joke as well), and it may also just be a silly, stupid super hero-y popcorn movie, but something feels insidious about it, completely non-genuine.

Part of that, though, I think falls back onto the writer of the comic it’s based on, Mark Millar. But that is a whole other post right there, isn’t it?

Regardless, I want to talk about young miss Chloë Moretz, a very talented actress at the early age of 13. I remember being really impressed by her in (500) Days Of Summer, because, let’s face it, child actors are usually terrible. Her role in that movie was a pretty simple one: the little sister with the juxtaposed wise knowledge about human relationships that she could give to her heartbroken older brother, as played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I thought she handled it well, with charisma, and that right mix of qualities you want in a child character in stories, a sense of them being wise beyond their years, but still very much a product of their years, a child.

And then I heard she was going to be in Kick Ass and I kind of felt bad for her because I remember the comic being kind of cheesy. But, unshockingly, I think, if any part of this story will be interesting, it’ll be the parts dealing with her. They will also be the most controversial parts as well, of course.

The comparisons between her role and Natalie Portman’s in The Professional, or Leon, fascinates me. I get it, knowing the gist of what goes on in The Professional, even though I’ve not seen it. And neither has Chloe Moretz. And neither will she probably be able to see Kick Ass in theaters either.

But I hear a lot of the people who don’t find the idea of a young girl running around killing people crazily in this movie and cussing talking about how the movie is a satire of stuff like The Professional. Or that it’s empowering. I don’t know that I really learned anything on my journey from being a boy to a man, so I’m not going to pretend I understand the even more complicated path from girlhood to womanhood with it’s myriad of stops in Hollywood at “Not a girl, not yet a woman”-type places.

from here.

And I’m not going to talk about the fear of the youth taking a bad message away from watching Moretz as Hit Girl violently killing and shooting and slicing people up in Kick Ass, because… well, that’s a topic for pundits more likely. And child psychologists. But the that New York Times profile I linked to goes into quite a bit about her family, her growing up, and how it was beat into her head pretty hard over the course of the filming that she was an actress in a movie, doing a performance, and there was a different between reality and fiction. Isn’t that what most modern parenting seems to be lacking anyway?

But I foresee Moretz getting stereotyped as the tough girl, which is okay. To an extent, anyway. I don’t like that word. “Tough.” It’s a bullshit word. I try not to think of Angelina Jolie characters as “tough,” but perhaps women who are just… confident? We talk about empowering roles for women, which can be things where a woman gets to pick up a gun and run around shooting and blowing things up like a man does, which is fine, because women should be allowed to do that too. But I think with a word like “tough,” we have to be careful. If we’re to say that a woman is being tough because a man can be tough, I think we need to take what that quality is within a male character…

And usually it’s compensation. It’s a lack of something and the making up for it. It’s a show. There are no real cowboys, at least, not anymore. Well, maybe, but either way, the harder and the tougher we get, well, that’s just the farther we’re running from something, or reacting to something. We’re faking it til we make it. But I’d like to see a new generation of confident boys and girls growing up in this world and surviving despite the mixed messages we give to the youth.

Just remember that behind every little girl in the guise of a juvenile vampire or hyper assassin, there’s someone’s daughter there or little sister, or big sister. But, more importantly, there’s a person there. A person who sees the world differently than you and perhaps sees it in a way that you haven’t in a long while, or perhaps never will. I don’t know what little girls are made of and I don’t really want to know. But I suspect that it really all depends on your definition of “everything nice.”