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Monthly Archives: November 2008

random link roundup

New and upcoming media edition!

  • Roger Ebert writes a kind of four-star anti-review of buy clomid in canada Synecdoche, New York, and is then inspired to write a rambling, poetic essay on it.
  • Chuck Klosterman reviews Chinese Democracy, which he likens to Timothy Treadwell being eaten by a bear. Just one of many reasons why Chuck Klosterman is the reigning king of brainy hipsterdom and I’m just some guy.
  • I haven’t seen a good overview of Tarantino’s upcoming Inglourious Basterds anywhere, but Wikipedia rounds up most of the details that are available. Apparently, it’s a Spaghetti Western-and-French New Wave-inspired take on the WWII action flick, with Brad Pitt as the leader of a group of Jewish-American soldiers who infiltrate occupied France to collect Nazi scalps. And it has Maggie Cheung as a Frenchwoman. Frankly, it sounds awesome.
  • 2007 Independent Games Festival grand prize winner Aquaria has finally been released for OS X. I only just started it, but I’m pretty impressed so far. It’s beautiful and oddly meditative for a side-scrolling action game. Finally, I can live my dream of being a magical fish-woman who swims around in the ocean singing songs and collecting recipes!

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) and Role Models (2008)

rolemodels.jpgYou know what? I’m going to come out and say it: I’m not a fan of the gag-based comedy movie. 90 minutes of formulaic wackiness is at least 60 minutes too much. Leave that for TV. 30 Rock may well be the funniest gag comedy on TV since the Conan years of The Simpsons, but a 30 Rock movie is about as necessary as a Simpsons movie. If you’re going to make me sit still that long, you have to make me care about the characters. I don’t have to like them, but you have to give me something to hang on to.

Happy times, indeed, that we live in that this opinion seems to be catching on. Judd Apatow didn’t invent the raunchy, sentimental, character-driven comedy, but he drove it straight into the mainstream like a crazy fat man in a garbage truck, and the results have been just as awesome.

Kevin Smith actually can claim to invent the raunchy, sentimental, character-driven comedy, but in Zack and Miri, he gets a big boost from the Apatow crowd in the form (finally) of actors who can make his dialogue sound like they come from actual people, rather than a series of Kevin Smith mouthpieces (Smith regulars show up in supporting roles, which they mostly nail, especially Jason Mewes). Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks bring their underachieving, cheerfully foul-mouthed characters to life, and make their relationship sweet and touching, even when it becomes obvious where it’s going to go (i.e. around the time the opening credits end). It doesn’t hurt that Smith manages to achieve a much higher hit-to-miss ratio than usual on the laughs, and that he obviously has a lot of affection for the world of no-budget filmmaking. In Smith’s world, there’s not a lot of difference between making an indie comedy in a convenience store and making a porno in a coffee shop.

Role Models, meanwhile, manages to inject a little mainstream into the David Wain-led group behind Wet Hot American Summer. Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks (again), Jane Lynch and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from Superbad) are among the Apatow players who show up here. Paul Rudd is a miserable, sarcastic energy-drink salesman who ends a particularly bad day by impaling his ad-truck on a statue. (My kind of guy, in other words.) As punishment, he and co-worker Seann William Scott are court-ordered to mentor dorky Christopher Mintz-Plasse and hilariously vicious Bobb’e J Thompson. Paul Rudd is co-writer and while it’s really an ensemble movie, it’s also really about his character, who is awesome when he’s walking around delivering snark like a UPSnark deliveryman, but less awesome when he’s learning life lessons. Unfortunately, he spends a lot of time learning life lessons. I don’t know what it says about me that bitter sarcasm brings a smile to my face and personal growth leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it does. Fortunately, even when that stuff’s going on, the movie brings on the funny on a pretty regular basis, so I can almost forgive it. Actually, I can forgive it — for Jane Lynch’s line delivery alone. “I’m not here to service you, I’m here to service these young boys.”

offer or ‘offer’?

Jeffrey Simpson has a good article about the Harper climate change offer to Obama. My optimism about the offer is not because I think it is heartfelt, but that it seems an almost desperate attempt to control what I suspect will be a real problem for the Tories. I really think there’s a sense of inevitability now about a carbon-reduction plan that includes at least all the developed countries. The only issue is whether Canada joins the US plan, or we let Alberta delay it for a year or two or five, while the costs pile up and the rest of the world enters the future without us.

(Incidentally, I’ve been reading Simpson’s co-authored book on the politics of climate change in Canada. I’m finding it to be an excellent political primer, but a bit light on science.)

happy birthday, me


Daisy We live in a fantasy world, Tim. We’ve just constructed this fake utopia where, y’know, we never get old and never have to face the responsibilities of adulthood. We’re just stretching our childhoods out as far as they can go.
Tim Yeah, I know. We’re lucky, aren’t we?
Spaced (alternate ending)

a (slightly) better world already?

This is pretty much exactly what I was hoping an Obama win would mean for Canada.

Canada hopes to achieve a North American climate-change deal with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama and will begin working on the file within weeks, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday. Meantime, officials told The Canadian Press the Harper government has been waiting for the departure of President George W. Bush to work with his successor on an integrated carbon market.

I don’t really buy that Harper’s hands were tied by the Bush administration, but I do think that announcing it literally within hours of Obama’s win is encouraging. And yes, I think so even though part of the reason is to try to negotiate favourable terms for Alberta’s oil sands — that’s politics. At least it’s clear that putting off this discussion is no longer an option.

Of course, the Obama plan falls well short of what Canada agreed to under Kyoto, but this one seems to stand a good chance of actually happening, particularly since the state of the US economy might make for a pretty good reason to invest renewable-energy infrastructure even sooner.