Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eastern Promises - Movie Review

Eastern Promises (R) 100 minutes A
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Sinéad Cusack, Donald Sumpter, and Armin Mueller-Stahl

I use to say that David Cronenberg made some of the most interesting films around. His 1996 film Crash is among the most provocative and daring films I have ever seen. But nowadays it is safe to say that Cronenberg makes some of the most interesting AND best films around.

A History of Violence was my film of the year for 2005, and Eastern Promises is one of the best films of 2007 so far. It is a violent and captivating descent into the lives of the Russian mafia.

Anna (Watts), a midwife at a North London hospital stumbles upon a dairy full of secrets after delivering the child of a teenage prostitute. The baby lives and the teenage mother dies. While trying to locate the dead girl's family, Anna quickly learns that the dairy contains incriminating evidence against the Russian mafia.

This is Naomi Watts best work since 2003's 21 Grams, and Viggo Mortensen is electrifying and gives an Oscar caliber performance. Eastern Promises is not for the faint at heart. Cronenberg and writer Stephen Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) have brilliantly captured the gritty and violent world of organized crime. The movie is bloody and graphic but it never seems unwarranted.

Esteemed film critic Roger Ebert scored Eastern Promises 100 out of 100, and earlier this year the film won the coveted "People's Choice Award" at the Toronto International Film Festival.

If you can handle a little violence this is a must see film!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mass Media and Politics

Nowadays politics is sport; very competitive in nature, strategic, and enough wins can get you to the next round. CNN, CSPAN, MSNBC have become the political equivalent of ESPN. Bringing us highlights of the latest political candidates, updating us on the latest polls (i.e. stats), and providing commentary and analysis. But while sports are meant to entertain us, politics are real life.

Mass media plays a crucial part in American politics. Because of the decline in newspaper sales, network news ratings, and more people googling Britney Spears than our presidential candidates, the media has been forced to change with the times, often featuring political stories that are more entertaining than substantial. The wealth of information we have at our finger tips is having both a positive and negative effect. We have the capability to research and study our political candidates and the issues, but there is also a plethora of misleading, distracting, and false information available as well.

Considering the current state of affairs regarding media and politics, some of the voting public knows more about American government than ever before, while others know more about John Edwards’s hair than his political agenda. I for one know that Ann Coulter allegedly called John Edwards a “faggot,” yet I don’t know his stance on abortion or his plan for health care.

In 2004 John Kerry’s stellar health care plan went unnoticed mainly because of the media catch phrase that he was a “flip flopper.” During that election year I specifically recall asking a few friends why they didn’t like John Kerry and they had no legitimate response except, “he’s a flip flopper”.

I love the mass media despite their influence on the voting public. Ultimately it is up to the American public to disseminate what sources and information is credible. Especially since the competitive nature of politics continues to promote the ever growing divide between Democrats and Republicans. The media has taken the concept of “Republicans vs Democrats” and ran with it. Hence the mudslinging and the pageantry that has become American politics.

Can we really blame the media for our lust of tabloid trash or our need for escapism? Their only feeding us what we want. You say your tired of Paris Hilton, yet 3.2 million people tune in to her first post television interview after jail.

More people watch sporting events than politics, so why not make politics look more like sports. Maybe CNN can become as popular as ESPN...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Denver Broncos and Fantasy Football

Earlier in the week I had Jacksonville beating the Broncos in over half of my football pools. But at the last minute I changed most of those picks because the more I thought about it, the more I thought the Broncos would win.

Initially, I figured the Broncos were lucky to have won their first two games. After two hard fought and thrilling victories over two less than average teams, I thought the Broncos would either a.) have a let down or b.) Get exposed and beat down because their not as good as their 2-0 record.

But as the week went on I started thinking that maybe these close games were building character, motivating them to work harder, or maybe after a tragic and unlucky off season they were becoming a team of destiny.

Well... judging from today's game they don't appear to be a team of destiny. I'm not pushing the panic button yet, but I fear that this loss to Jacksonville is a sign of things to come. Luckily the Chargers loss to the overachieving Packers today.

I love the Broncos D-Line and Secondary, but the LB's are weak, and the offense seems to be missing that killer instinct (despite their ability to move the ball). Cutler has been good so far, but not without growing pains. The good thing is, this team should be dangerous in the years to come, but right now I think we're going to have to take our lumps and hope we can win the games we're suppose to win (like today's game).

I'm in the hunt in most of my football pools, and Jason continues to own me head to head in Fantasy Football. Everything rides on tonight's match up (Cowboys vs Bears), but Jason (aka Zone Dogs) has Romo and TO... while I'm bring Rex Grossman off the bench to replace a banged up Marc Bulger. Jason and I faced each other in the Fantasy Football Superbowl last year, with Jason coming out victorious in a super blowout. This year I have another blue collar, under the radar type team and like the Broncos I'll have to take my lumps and hope that I can win the games I'm suppose to win (which will hopefully catapult me into the playoffs and beyond).

"Running is an unnatural act, except from enemies and to the bathroom."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

None of these faces feel like home

Perfect Blue Buildings
A therapist once said to me, "It must be hard being you because of the constant tug-o-war going on in your mind." She was right... I am my own worst enemy. Good versus Evil, Right versus Wrong. You wouldn't believe some of the things I tell myself... it's sickening! How did I get like this and why can't I stop?

Today I went for a walk during lunch, just me and my Ipod. It was so nice, a brisk 40 minute walk with the soundtrack to my life filling up my head space. I was in my own little world, imagination running wild, I felt emotional, I felt alive. I wanted those feelings to last all day.

Now I'm sitting here with a head full of doubt, doing everything except what I should be doing (homework). I feel a sea change coming my way. Maybe it's this whole house buying thing or current events in my life, but I feel myself shutting down a little. It's not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes I need to regroup and get strong... quietly sort out some things in my head. Sometimes I talk too much and karma is a bitch... It always comes around.

I got my passport yesterday, It only took 4 1/2 weeks to arrive. The entire process was much easier than I expected.

Ipod Stats
I now have over 200 songs (over 14 hours of music) on my Ipod. Chris Isaak has the most songs by a single artist with 12 tracks, and Duncan Sheik and The Rollins Band have the second most with 10. My Ipod is a collection of individual songs (no entire albums), and a WIDE variety of music.

New Music
The new Lyle Lovett is pretty good, after 3 or 4 listens it's slowly growing on me. It's not as immediately accessible as some of his older stuff, but with Lyle you can hardly go wrong. The new Thurston Moore album came out today (I forgot until just now), and for me it's one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. Eddie Vedder and Springsteen also have new albums on the horizon, but right now I'm not that excited about either. Maybe I will be after I hear and read more.

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."
-James Thurber

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hey Monkey, Where you Been?

SO MUCH is happening in Curtis world. There is no need to bore you with the details, but I'll be sure to give you the low down once everything is finalized. A combination of varies projects and tasks has kept me busy and unfortunately away from the cineplex. Tomorrow I am looking forward to a day of rest, relaxation and football, and Wednesday I'm looking forward to a night out at the ball park- Rockies vs Dodgers.

I bought the new Lyle Lovett album today, but right now I'm listening to 50 Cent. I've been craving some funky, bass thumpin, hardcore beats lately. I got a copy of the latest Guru album earlier this week, it's ok, but I don't think I've fully digested that one yet. Rarely any more do I find a hip hop album that really moves me from beginning to end (Although, the new Talib Kweli is tight and at times he shows signs of becoming the next rap luminary).

I remember when rap albums use to rock my world and literally change the way I think and feel about life. Albums like Public Enemy's It takes a Nation of Millions, Boogie Down Productions - Ghetto Music: The Blue Print of Hip Hop, De la Soul - 3 feet High and Rising, Ice T- Power and O.G. Original Gangster, NWA - Straight outta Compton, and so on... I was much younger then and perhaps more impressionable, but that music said something.

Last week I ran over a prairie dog. Not on purpose... I swerved and tried to miss him but he ran right into my path- crunch! I felt so bad, but what could I do? I felt like I should get out of the car and do something... I slowed down almost to a full stop, looked in my rearview mirror... I felt like a criminal. But there was nothing I could do... I wondered who would clean up the pile of blood and fur? I wondered if the prairie dog threw himself in front of my car on purpose? I tried to look at the bright side and thought that maybe I just provided a bird or a couple squirrels with a hearty meal.

I found $26 dollars today. I was so happy! I guess it makes up for the pop machine at work ripping me off on Friday. I put $1.40 in the machine for 2 diet Dr. Peppers, but instead I got 2 regular Dr. Peppers. I will not drink regular soda any more, it's like drinking carbonated sugar water. I was so pissed, I wanted to violently shake the pop machine... I wanted to take those 2 regular Dr. Peppers and throw them at the pop machine... Take that you sonofabitch! But I didn't. I just walked away cursing underneath my breath.

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
- Mark Twain

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Curtis's NFL Answer Key 2007

1. New England 11-5
2. Miami 8-8
3. Buffalo 8-8
4. NY Jets 8-8
1. Cincy 10-6
2. Baltimore 9-7 *Wildcard
3. Pittsburgh 7-9
4. Clevland 6-10
1. Indy 11-5
2. Jacksonville 8-8
3. Tennesse 7-9
4. Houston 6-10
1. San Diego 11-5
2. Denver 10-6 *Wildcard
3. Kansas City 8-8
4. Oakland 5-11

Playoffs -
Wildcard round
(3)New England over (6)Baltimore
(4)Cincy over (5)Denver
Divisional playoffs
(1) San Diego over (4)Cincy
(3) New England over (2) Indy
AFC Championship
(1) San Diego over (3) New England
1. Dallas 11-5
2. Philly 9-7
3. NY Giants 8-8
4. Washington 5-11
1. Chicago 10-6
2. Detriot 7-9
3. Green Bay 7-9
4. Minnesota 6-10
1. New Orleans 10-6
2. Carolina 10-6 *Wildcard
3. Tampa Bay 8-8
4. Atlanta 6-10
1. St. Louis 10-6
2. Seattle 9-7 *Wildcard
3. San Francisco 8-8
4. Arizona 7-9

Playoffs -
Wildcard round
(3) New Orleans over (6) Seattle
(5)Carolina over (4) St. Louis
Divisional playoffs
(1)Dallas over (5) Carolina
(2)Chicago over (3) New Orleans
NFC Championship
(1) Dallas over (2)Chicago

Superbowl XLII -Glendale, Arizona
San Diego 27
Dallas 17

Monday, September 3, 2007

2 Days in Paris - Movie Review

2 Days in Paris Not Rated 96 minutes C
Starring Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Daniel Brühl, Marie Pillet, Albert Delpy, Aleksia Landeau, Adan Jodorowsky, and Alexandre Nahon

2 Days in Paris is essentially the brainchild of Julie Delpy. She is writer, directer, producer, composer, and star of the film. Delpy is a NYU film grad and perhaps best known for her role in 1995's Before Sunrise. She has also stared in films such as An American Werewolf in Paris, Broken Flowers, The Hoax, and Before Sunset.

When I think of Paris and actresses, I think of Julie Delpy. In this, her latest vehicle, she has definitely channeled her inner Woody Allen. 2 Day in Paris is about a neurotic New York couple who hopes to end their European vacation on a high note. After a somewhat disappointing week in Venice, the couple has decided to spend the last two days of their vacation in Paris before heading back home to New York.

Marion (Delpy) is a French photographer and Jack (Goldberg) is her American boyfriend. While in Paris, Jack is meeting Marion's family for the first time. Jack doesn't speak french, but because of his relationship with Marion, he's able to decipher a little of the language. Jack soon learns that the language isn't the only barrier in Paris. During the two days in Paris, Jack has numerous encounters with Marion's ex-lovers.

The film has all the makings of a brilliant romantic comedy/drama, but it never seems to deliver. The story is centered around Delpy and Goldberg who are great, but some of the dialogue feels contrived, and the toggle between characters speaking french and speaking english left me feeling frustrated at times.

That being said, the film did end with heavy and heart felt deliberations about relationships and breakups. The kind of dialogue that is very relatable for many and very real. Ultimately I was a little disappointed with the film, but there were moments worth remembering.

In other ramblings ...................

Sorry for the delay between posts. It has been a very eventful and busy last couple of weeks. More stuff than I care to share right now, but I hope and pray that it all ends up fine. Sometimes the hardest part of my day is fighting my own darkness, and other times I think that a combination of unorganization, self doubt and poor work habits have put me in a psychological hole that I can't dig myself out of. I consistently feel like I need a day or two to just do stuff- homework, house stuff, cleaning, writing, errands, etc... Yet, I also feel like I need a day or two to just do nothing. Nothing being- reading, watching television, cooking, eating, laying around, surfing the web, watching films, etc...

I'm also a little disappointed in the latest Suzanne Vega album- Beauty & Crime. I've listened to it 3 or 4 times so far, and it hasn't really grabbed me. It's too bad because I like Suzanne (I've also met/talked to her in person), maybe it will grow on me later. The album has received a lot of positive reviews, and Suzanne once again subtly hints at her inner vixen (evident by the album cover and accompanying artwork/liner notes of the cd).

Here comes another week people. Take care, and hopefully I'll have another review and/or post in a few days.

"Honesty has ruined more marriages than infidelity"
-Charles McCabe