Wednesday, December 7, 2011

click here

Recently reading an article about pedophile and all-around scum bag Jerry Sandusky, I came across something that gave me pause. Something almost as disgusting and egregious as the man himself. At the end of the short article about Sandusky's latest charge, boy's 9 and 10, the website had an ad reading:  
Take to the field, it's bowl time! Sign up for College Bowl Pick 'em.
(With a link to click on the "Pick 'em", of course.)

This is not an ad on the side bar where more ads tracking your web surfing seem to appear daily. Not at the header or footer either. This sat centered at the bottom of the article looking as if it were part of the correspondence, with no separation, no fancy pictures, borders, or font difference.

And below that, maybe more ironic than anything, were ads for lawyers and of course for Penn State gear.

This got me thinking, as much as I can think after a day of listening to stupid questions about things I already covered minutes before and the dramatic complaints of teenagers whose worlds are ending because of broken hearts and no tater tots at lunch. So I went back to Yahoo Sports homepage searching for another article where I might find similar subject matter. I didn't have to look far. The first article in the headline section read : Sex-abuse scandals - Too much time has passed for a DA to file charges vs. Bernie Fine. Perfect. I click over to the article highlighting Mr. Fine, the Syracuse Men's Basketball assistant coach accused of Sandusky-like acts. Deciding to skip the article, I know how this one turns out, I scroll to the bottom and there it is. Centered, italicized, and with a link to the Yahoo Sports NCAA Twitter account, another, yet different, ad: Follow Yahoo! Sports' college basketball coverage on Twitter. 

What this says about the editors of the website, I'm not sure. Are we to expect them to filter their ads based on the content of the articles to make them more appropriate? Can we really expect them to be in complete control of all their content, when the job really is to simply get the news out there?
The answer: Yes, we can.
We can be a bit more sensitive, or just less douchy, without sacrificing the truth.
We don't have to be like Diana Christensen, a real heartless bitch. Or build websites that are the digital personifications of Tom Grunick, opinion-less and vacant, yet pretty.
Just sometimes I wish we could get up, get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick our heads out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'

Wild Wing Tuesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings, don't miss it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Slice of Life - A Look at Terrence Malick's new film The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick's new feature, The Tree of Life, deals with concepts of creation and evolution, of loss and faith, and questions of being and existence. That is not to say the film need be watched by the mindful eye of a believer or the un-trusting one of a skeptic to make any sense. The film is, after all, on it's surface an exploration of relationships: a son's to his father, a son's to his mother, a husband to his wife, a human's to God, and so on.

At first glance, we are bombarded by familiar image. In fact, any person bored on a Sunday afternoon can turn on the Discovery Channel and see replicas of, or maybe even exact shots of, large chunks of Malick's Act II (what I like to call, Simulacra Earth). He brings the viewer through his version of the beginning of life here on Earth: an explosion of rock and fire, the beginnings of life in the ocean, even a vaginal-looking jelly fish, followed by a quite phallic-looking fish creature. Then dinosaurs, that's right, dinosaurs. All leading up to a fetus in utero and then birth.  The problem is (disregarding the none-too-real-looking CGI monsters/dinos) that we've seen it all before. The overdone shot of Earth as a large rock mass plummets to the surface causing ripples in the deep blue. The obvious replay of the unborn fetus, pink and black-eyed like so many eye-witness testimonies of Extraterrestrials. The much (over)used swooping tracking shot across the ocean, the desert, the whatever surface fits. All of it not new.

So what's all the fuss about over this film then you ask? I'm not really sure.

What we do have is an exploration through memory and death. What we don't have is a narrative to follow. Here's the premise: a man raised by a very strict father tries to come to terms with the loss of his brother years before. 2 hrs. 18 min.

Ok, ok, there are some positives here. Malick's characters are believable and warm, especially the father and mother (superbly acted by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain). And the boy, Jack, played by Hunter McCracken (unfortunate name, I know) takes us to depths of character with no dialogue needed.
The set design is nearly flawless as we seamlessly shift from the 1950's ahead to present day. The juxtaposition of the suburban world little Jack grows up in versus the glass and steel one he must try to make sense of as an adult nearly become characters unto themselves.

And then there's the themes mentioned above, specifically loss and faith. An important part of the film comes when a little boy drowns in the public pool. This is the moment when Little Jack really begins to question his faith, a faith written on him by his father not one chosen by him. His voiceover is a question to God, in fact all of the voiceovers in the film are not questions to self or to the audience, but instead a dialogue between the character and God, Jack simply asks why. From this point forward Jack struggles mightily with many things. The confusion of God and Dad being a biggy, along with the difference between right and wrong. Something Jack also struggles with. There are times when he is about to do something wrong and we can see in his eyes he knows the difference but his body goes ahead and does it anyway. Maybe to get attention from Dad/God; even though negative, it is still attention.  The major problem here is that by the time we see Older Jack (Sean Penn) we don't get enough of him. The audience can't connect to his older self. This mis-connection might be a casualty of editing, who knows.
This is a film of a 67 year old man (Malick) coming to terms with  life and death (his own), while at the same time dealing with loss and death of the people around him. And for that, I applaud Malick. He's honest and true and all of his films are beautifully composed and smartly shot. Sometimes though, I just need more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You haven't seen that?

"You haven't seen that? And you call yourself a film teacher?"
Truer words were never spoken.  A true film lover should see every, single movie ever made. Not just the "important" ones, classics, and his/her favorites, but EVERY ONE. How else can you even begin to wax intellectual about them? Judge and criticize other films? What have you ever done? Roger Ebert wrote a movie, you know. But that's besides the point. Jumanji  is a classic movie.  When the guy runs out of bullets and they give him another gun, but the new one is, like, huge...awesome! Or in Snakes on a Plane when there was those snakes on a the...plane mother fucker! Should be canonized, I tell you!  
Gigli, Waterworld, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Troll 2, From Justin to Kelly, It's Pat, Showgirls, Battlefield Earth, Freddy Got Fingered, Who's Your Caddy?, The Hottie & the Nottie...
Go back, get a Netflix subscription and learn, my friend.