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Monthly Archives: May 2008

moving day


moving day, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

Leaving behind my red, red room.

Indiana Jones I-IV (1981, 1984, 1989, 2008)


indyskull-snip.jpgThe past week has been all about packing. Packing and preparation for the new Indiana Jones movie. I assume you don’t want to hear about the packing.

I watched the first three Indiana Jones movies last week. And then today, I watched the new one. I haven’t seen any of the films in at least ten years, so it was interesting to see how my memories matched up to the experience of seeing them now.

The first revelation was just how damn good Raiders of the Lost Ark is. I mean, I know it’s a classic, and remembered it as a fine film, but it’s actually a great film — the action and stunt scenes are amazing and hold up really well, the characters are well-drawn, and the humour is humorous. But above all, the chase actually has some weight — I actually felt there was something at stake. That’s not something I felt watching the other films in the series. Even in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which is ostensibly about searching for the Holy Grail, the characters spend far (far!) more time chasing an old book and solving lame puzzles. It hardly seems to matter to anybody what’s at the end. But when Indy single-handedly takes on the Nazi convoy transporting the Ark of the Covenant, you can tell how desperately it fucking matters — to him, to the Nazis, and to Belloq. And that, more than anything is why Raiders of the Lost Ark is far and away my favourite (though having the young and saucy Karen Allen as Indy’s romantic foil doesn’t hurt).

The second revelation was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. If Raiders was slightly better than I remember, Temple of Doom is much worse. I don’t think I’d seen the whole thing since I was a kid, and I remember it being — to young me — the stand-out movie in the series. But as my roommate Meghan (who was watching it with me) observed, that’s probably because the whole thing really is a kid’s movie. The action is incredibly fast, like a cartoon, especially the famous mine-cart chase, and the horror elements are things that will haunt the dreams of children, not adults: being made to work in the mines, having your heart pulled out of your chest, being forced to eat icky monkey brains. (Speaking of the mine-cart chase: I remember as a kid thinking it was awesome, but this time around, I thought it was about as much fun as watching stock footage of a roller coaster.) By far the worst part, though, is the incredibly broad “humour”, mostly in the form of the supremely unfunny Kate Capshaw, who bulldozes through the movie with her “shriek” knob set to 11. Jesus. This movie is not only worse than I remembered, it’s a downright slog. It took us three evenings to get all the way through. On the other hand, it’s the film that’s probably truest to the old Republic adventure serials, with implausible action, ethnic-stereotype villains and sidekicks, and a whole lot of fast-moving tedium.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, though, was about as I remembered it — fun, funny and totally winning, without ever really trying for — and certainly not achieving — greatness. However, while I never really cared about the grail quest theme, the movie does have the best writing in the series, aided by Harrison Ford and Sean Connery’s back and-forth hamming. “I shood have mailed it to the Marksh Bruthers.” Oh, yes.

Which brings us to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I have the feeling than in making this, at least one of Spielberg’s goals was bring to an end the eternal questions about when the next Indy was coming out. Crystal Skull manages to do all of (a) be a modestly-entertaining send-off to the series; (b) kill my desire to see any more episodes, by presenting an old — almost sadly old — Indiana Jones (though wisely, they merely acknowledge his age and move on, rather than making it a running joke); and (c) threaten us with the spectre of Shia LeBeouf in an even larger role in any follow-ups. That said, though, I did enjoy the movie. There are some great Spielberg-ian images, and while it brings back elements of the previous films, and a few nods at the beginning, it doesn’t go overboard with the fan-boy in-jokes. And it brings back Karen Allen as the two-fisted Marion Ravenwood from Raiders and lets her fight scene-chewing communist Cate Blanchett. So it’s got that going for it. However, it does continue Steven Spielberg’s recent trend of not having any bloody idea how to end his movies — or, more accurately, having an idea for an ending that completely fails to satisfy. Here, we basically get a family-size can of supernatural WTF? served up on a saucer.

Seriously, Steve? That’s what you’re ending the series with?

I’m moving!


moving.jpg

Yes, after living at my beloved die Kommune for six years, on June 1st, I’m finally moving out on my own. I would also like to report that looking for an apartment in Vancouver? Not much fun. Trying to get an apartment you like in your first-choice of neighbourhood in Vancouver? Also less than entertaining.

But I did it! Kind of, almost! At least, as well as could be expected. My new pad is a ground-floor two-bedroom in a house just off Main and 23rd, an easy bus, bike or walk to work. The neighbourhood is one of Vancouver’s oldest, which really isn’t all that old, given that the town was a few saw mills and a train station a hundred years ago. The area has gone from working-class immigrant neighbourhood, to middle-class homeowner neighbourhood, to somewhat-trendy but mostly-inexpensive student/artist/designer neighbourhood of coffee shops and vintage clothing, while keeping characteristics of all of them. It’s the kind of place where you can have a trendy faux-grunge fusion restaurant across the street from a real-grunge circa-1972 Greek-Canadian diner, or have a bustling Vietnamese pho shop across from a DIY art space, and not notice the disconnect. In other words, it’s “Vancouver’s hip strip.” And hipster d-bag that I am, I’m quite happy to be relocating there, though I will surely miss living at the kommune.

Spaced on DVD?


spaced-snip.jpgWell, this is potentially pretty awesome. Supposedly, Spaced — the brilliant Y2K-era British sitcom (or “Brit-com” to use a term I invented just this minute) from the guys who did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz — is finally (finally!) coming out on Region 1 DVD on July 22. Possibly. Maybe.

If you don’t know the show, it’s the story of two twenty-something “creative types” who have to pose as a professional couple to get a nice flat in London. Aaaaand that’s about it: they hang out with friends, try to get jobs, go to clubs, attend neighbour’s gallery shows, and play video games. The hook is the combination of affectionately-drawn characters and surreal pop-culture-riffs — everyday life becomes the scaffold on which to hang J-pop interludes, fantasy action-movie sequences, and dense layers of movie references. I already acquired the series via “other” means, but I will quite happily shell out my cash for a legitimate DVD version, if only to push it on everybody I know. Features will apparently include commentary tracks by Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Diablo Cody, among other illustrious hipster personages.

The reason I qualify it all, though, is that I can’t find the official source of the announcement. Just a bunch of gossip sites quoting each other. And Amazon seems to have not heard the news, because there’s no entry, and no pre-orders. Plus, any internet-based announcement involving Quentin Tarantino should set off warning bells. But hey, fingers crossed.

Amusing anecdote: First time I saw an episode of Spaced, I was pretty unimpressed — it seemed too hip and precious and not enough funny. Now, I would say it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. The moral? I’m an idiot, but at least I’m trainable.

update: It’s listed at the BBC America web site, so looks like my skepticism was misplaced. This time.

Sad Kermit


Sad Kermit covers Elliot Smith’s “Needle in the Hay”. (And here is the Royal Tenenbaums scene it’s based on.)