Wednesday, April 06, 2005


The first album I ever purchased was Van Halen's 1984. My favorite song on that album was "Panama" but now I like "Hot for Teacher" best.

I could only name three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The rest I had to look up on Wikipedia. I wish they would reconstruct the Colossus of Rhodes. Then I would visit it.

The Decemberists are very good in concert. During the concert, it occurred to me that the lead singer looked like high-profile blogger Matthew Yglesias. Funny that Yglesias turned out to be a Decemberists fanboy.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Maggie: Beautiful Enigma (Updated)

So says Olivier Assayas in the first account I've read of the Maggie Cheung/Olivier Assayas break-up. Gossip for nerds. (Via GreenCine Daily.)

It's hard not to read Clean as some kind of valentine to Maggie, but I tend to value it for not only Assayas' incomparable mise-en-scene (the veritiginous shot following Maggie's scuttling down the airport escalator is pure awesomeness) but for another sharp take on the globalized experience. Last time out, Olivier explored the socio-economic dystopia of globalized info-business. In Demonlover, Assayas taps into globalization anxiety by exploring the dark world of corporate mercenaries and cybersex. It's both a mess (dude can't plot his way out of a zen rock garden) and absolutely essential. In the small-scale Clean, Olivier narrows his scope to Maggie's multi-national, multi-lingual junkie Emily, who traverses across continents with the ease of the real-life Maggie Cheung, though Olivier's kind enough to throw in a little Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore vibe to de-glam it some. Can't disagree with those who've belittle the TV-movie-like scenario, Maggie's not entirely convincing performance, and/or especially her sucky songs (my biggest gripe is about her hair), but Clean does persuasively portray an increasingly common species, the multi-national for whom moving from Hong Kong to Paris is like moving from New York to Miami. And anyway even a TV-movie directed by Olivier Assayas, the most thrilling cinematic stylist in the world today, Wong Kar-wai, Scorsese, Tarantino, et al. included, is not to be missed.

Update: I just happened upon this Kent Jones review of Clean in Cinemascope, which may be the best piece I've read on an Assayas film and Assayas' cinema, going into great detail Assayas' strategies of "catching up to life" and narrative elisions that give Assayas' cinema the sense of captured life in fleeting, truthful moments. Par for the course for Kent Jones, who pens the most persuasive raves in comtemporary criticism.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sin City (Miller & Rodriguez w/ Tarantino) C+

She was no good. She was no good and I knew it. But I let her buy me a few. Shoulda sat at the next table, but skull's been dented too many times, it's hard to remember things. Oh yeah. I knew this dame. Some years back I took her out for a test drive. Had a nice paint job, but the engine convulsed like a cancer patient. Bumpy wheels. I like my rides smooth. Even a lug like me wants a little more from a ride than just shiny spoilers. Shiny spoilers was all she had. She disappeared for a while but now she's back. Some body shop did a nice job with her. Yeah, nice job. Real nice. Like cheap $10 perfume wrapped in a $20 package with a pink bow and and ribbons, the kind you find during the holidays in those gift boxes sold at expensive soap stores in a part of town where the broads wear stockings and the joes shave. Never got a gift box before, but even I knew cheap perfume in a pretty package is still cheap perfume.

She was no good, but I let her sweet talk me anyway. I downed four or five shots of moonshine the house shipped in from Mississippi. Good brew. Takes the sting off her yakking. This dame wouldn't shut up, even after I grabbed her and smashed my lips into her kisser. She just kept running those painted lips of hers. The dame memorized all the wrong pages of dime store paperbacks, and now she's feeding me some whopper about a hooker gang and a cannibal boy with glasses and corrupt senators and smelly child molestors. Tell you the truth I wasn't paying much attention. My eyes were glued on that hot red slip-on of hers, and imagined how fine she'd look in that dress as the rain came pouring down on her. She looked fine, alright. Fine enough for me. I didn't care if it was all body shop work. She looked fine. Fine enough for me.

I was ready. Ready to take her back. Ready for that ten dollar perfume to waft through the air of my cheap motel room. But she wouldn't stop spinning her yarn. Something about a lug with a heart of gold who saves a stripper. Something else about a corrupt priest and a cop with a gun barrel stuck to his head. Maybe it's a stripper with a barrel stuck to her head. Maybe I'm mixed up. But I didn't care. I just wanted the dame to shut her trap. After throwing back five, eight shots, I lost count, I told the dame I had business to take of. I told her I like the old fashion kind of dame, the kind who talked straight and didn't need to look at her phone to tell the time. I told her I like the dames from the cheap paperbacks, not the dames who playacted the dames in the cheap paperbacks. I told her about all the two-time losers in this joint, about that crunchy sound a human skull makes as it smacks into the pavement. About how her story wouldn't take here. I told her maybe she'd have better luck with the pimply boys at the gaming joint next door. Those kids was no older than twelve and maybe they'd take to this garbage about hot ninja broads and katanas and what not. I told her after twelve shots, or fifteen, I lost count, I'd be no use to her tonight. I was dazed. And not really interested. So I helped myself up and stumbled out of the joint and dragged myself home. Alone. No use getting mixed up with a dame like her. She was no good and I knew it.