4.27.2010

The Fly - Movie Review

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The Fly
*****

Now, I realize that this review may be very delayed, especially considering that The Fly may now be 22 years old, but there's something about the movie that simply sticks with you afterward. This is especially true when the last time you saw it you were in kindergarten watching it after school with your older brother in your parents basement. Like I did. Was I subliminally affected by the sight of Jeff Goldblum vomiting on doughnuts while having his ears fall off? Most definitely. Is that a bad thing? Maybe yes, maybe no. But do I regret it? Never.

At its core The Fly is a remarkably simple premise. It's just about a guy who is gradually turning into a giant housefly. But just like an ultra gross version of Kafka's Metamorphosis, there's more to it than that. The movie is remarkably detailed, and for all that can be said about pseudo-science in movies, The Fly manages to make it convincing. The story, if you haven't heard it or seen it spoofed elsewhere, is that the scientist Seth Brundle has managed to assemble his very own teleportation device in his shabby apartment/laboratory. The notion isn't as far fetched as the fact that Professor Brundle keeps trying it out on what appears to be an endless supply of Chimpanzees. Where all the chimps are coming from, I can't tell you, but I can say what happens to them isn't always pretty.

Brundle, as a character, is an interesting one. The film begins immediately with him showing off his teleporters to female journalist Veronica, like a new car, except in this one all the passengers usually end up inside out. One day, to Brundle's delight, one of the chimps comes out of the other teleporter and is the right way in. And after sending Veronica home in a drunken stupor, he figures that he'll try it out on himself. Little does he realize, my friends, that yes, a fly went along with him.

The movie is science fiction, but somehow manages to cross-paths with a relational drama, absurd comedy, action film, and horror. Brundle is presented as not a mad scientist or villian, but as a man consumed by his passion in life, be that science, his relationship with Veronica, or the teleporters themselves. It becomes an exploration into the depths of addiction and disease, where someone goes from recognizable, to something entirely different. What the movie still wants to drive home, is that however different someone becomes, there is still someone trapped inside of there.

At its climax the movie collides with a mixture of emotions that, delivered all at once, make for one of the most heartbreaking and intense moments on screen. This is, I think, director David Cronenbergs finest achievement, and he doesn't make it easy for us either. How interesting are all of the dynamics he functions with. Are we supposed to hate Veronica's editor, or is he a relatively good guy who is still dealing with a jilted love interest gone wrong? Are we supposed to side with the relatively well-meaning Veronica or is she taking too many liberties of her own with her relationships and professional life? And Brundle, well, there's a whole lot of things to feel about Brundle. What's amazing here is that not a single character is bounded by the description of a protagonist or antagonist. Rather, they shift from one to another in a way that doesn't violate the viewers expectations as much as verify the humanity of the characters.

This is a great movie, and to be honest, I'm glad I saw it when I did.

Kindness in a Smelly Couch - Chimes Article

Kindness in a Smelly Couch
Zack Newcott


I’m not sure why I thought I could move a couch by myself, but years ago I did manage to remove my shoelace from a moving escalator without losing my life so I assumed I was capable of anything. The couch in question was a dirty one that we found for free on the side of the road. Who knows how long it had been there, but Beth decided we were more than capable of removing the several added pounds of black dog hair that had been shed over every crevice and make it suitable within our home. At least I desperately hope it was dog hair.

“Careful!” Beth yelled as I began to roll it into the street. “You’ll get it dirty!”

“Really Beth?” I replied. “You really think I’ll get it more dirty?”

As far as I saw it, every move only helped to remove another thick cloud of dust.

Taking it out of the car was simple enough, and my bright idea from then on out was to simply roll the couch length-wise from the street, up the stairs, and safely through the front door of our apartment. Pushing it up for the first time, I was surprised to find that the small tear in the upholstery had been stuffed full of what I imagined at the time to be dead raccoons. Or worse, living raccoons.

In fear of disturbing their nest, I decided I should be more careful, this however meant moving the couch with a more dainty approach not suitable for a one-person job. Thankfully a passer-by came to the rescue.

A young man with headphones stopped in his tracks and asked if I needed any help. Myself, coming from Los Angeles, was not used to such kind gestures and immediately assumed the worst.

“Here’s my wallet!” I screamed, “Just don’t stab me in the face.”

Unwilling to take a wallet filled with nothing but fortune cookie wrappers and IOU’s, the boy helped me carry it up the first flights of stairs. Afraid to enter my apartment he mumbled something and ran off into the distance.

I continued to wrestle the smelly mass into the apartment, but having only arrived a few feet closer to my destination I succeeded only in tearing my sweater and getting another mouthful of dog hair. Again to my surprise an older gentleman having dinner at the Thai restaurant across the street came to my assistance. This time I had more confidence that I would not be robbed or maimed and took him up on the offer. Now no longer caring for the well-being of said raccoons, we both rolled the couch into my living room.

I had often heard of the kindness of strangers, but having experienced it first hand I now know that it does in fact exist. True, you might have to look pretty pitiful, but if you manage to swallow your pride and take a helping hand, you too might be able to reap of benefits of soaking a dog-hair covered couch in laundry detergent for the next eight hours in a desperate attempt to make the smell go away – a couch, I might add, that you could never move on your own.

4.19.2010

A Town Called Panic - Movie Review

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A Town Called Panic
****-

Some people have the right idea when it comes to their toys. Some people take their toy soldiers and simply throw them in the microwave to see what happens, perhaps while making gruesome noises on their behalf. Meanwhile there are those other types who then take the melted soldiers out and continue to play, seeing that somehow the game is just better this way. Often they're right. I have the feeling that St├ęphane Aubier and Vincent Patar are these kind of guys. Their film A Town Called Panic, or Panique Au Village (yes, this is a foreign film), is essentially a collection of scenarios in which they place their central characters from one household appliance to another, just nearly melting them before throwing them into a freezer and then finishing off by tossing them into a dishwasher.

The story is centered around three roommates, Indian, Cowboy, and Horse, who, with the exception of Horse, each move across their frantic town on small plastic platforms. Think of it as Toy Story if none of the toys knew that they were existing within a deranged mind of a child. As it turns out, it's Horses birthday, and this, if you can't tell by the title, throws Indian and Cowboy into a panic. Instead of opting to buy another novelty hat, they instead decide to build a grill but run into a snag however when, after sneaking onto Horses computer, they mistakenly order 50 million bricks rather than 50. And so the true panic begins.

The real comedy magic in a Town Called Panic mostly occurs when the viewer attempts to grasp what exactly they're watching. These are simply inanimate objects being moved around and spoken for, without even the need for animating moving mouths or expressions. With this, there isn't much separation from the fact that someone is always behind the camera, and the fact that this person is seemingly in control of the absurdity makes the film all the more absurd.

With that said, after an hour the viewer will be screaming to separate themselves from the screen long enough just to get a breath of fresh air from the ever-constant havoc. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but something can be said for how successful the film is in segments. I have the feeling that just walking in to the movie at any point during it's duration would be extremely satisfying. As a whole however, I can safely say it's an experience that won't be forgotten.

4.14.2010

And I'm All Out of Gum.

Here's a peek at my latest crafting creation.
It's a little reminder to everyone that although your stock of gum is limited, your capacity for kicking ass never runs out.



Yes, it is time to kick ass and chew bubble gum.
And I'm all out of gum.

4.03.2010

LOST (in Portland)

LOST
Chimes Article
Zachary Newcott


Somewhere between an anonymous dark forest road and another anonymous dark forest road, Beth and I got lost. After seeing the words “Free” and “Vanity” on craigslist, we both decided we needed to take a drive out into the great unknown and pick up some furniture. Although I had no concept of what a vanity set could possibly be used for, I thought it could at least hold a television and maybe store a few drinks inside, so I thought the trip would be worth it.

The road took us out into the wilderness of Oregon, which for me meant anything that wasn’t near a 7-Eleven. After not seeing said 7-Eleven for several miles I knew we were doomed. Our GPS had died long ago due to the fact that I once attempted to plug in a laptop, a toaster, and an aquarium to our cigarette lighter, and with only a written post-it note with Google Maps directions written on it I was possibly better off navigating by the stars. Being only able to recognize the Little Dipper, we were stuck with only our God given sense of direction.

If anyone wants to see me at my most frantic state all they have to do is join me while I’m behind the wheel of an automobile. Every parallel parking incident is a fierce battle as I frequently find myself in a predicament that can only be solved by numerous reversals and wheel turns. The secret I have come to realize is vigorously pumping the brakes again and again. It is a technique that has seldom let me down with the exception of the time I briefly turned the wrong way down a one way street.

In this case Beth and I decided it would be best to go as far as we could estimate before turning around and trying again. After we found ourselves crossing a bridge over what was marked as the “Pudding River,” I began to question my own sanity. Had we somehow crossed over into an alternate dimension consisting entirely of the game Candyland? The truth is out there.

Damn you Lord Licorice!

Turning around once again we found ourselves back on track, and having realized we just past our destination we turned around once again. Having recently watched the film “Jeepers Creepers,” neither Beth and I knew what we would find, although we did expect a monster of sorts who would perhaps attempt to snatch my peepers. Instead I was pleased to be greeted by a man in his pajamas who had simply assumed we were in some sort of horrible accident. Although we arrived roughly around midnight, he told us that the vanity set was ours for the taking.

I soon realized that a vanity set had little use in playing video games, but the success of finding it made the victory no less sweeter. It was certain to be the first of many occasions in which Beth and I would become lost in our new hometown as we set out again to find a church, a dirty old couch, or another dirty old couch, but in the experience of searching I learned that it is up to the journey to define the destination. Even if it takes leaving all known 7-Elevens to come across something you might not have even been looking for, in the process you’ll find a confidence in exploring the unknown.