Author: Chris

Lebowski, Meet Shakespeare

Written by : Posted on January 7, 2010 : No Comments

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When I first saw The Big Lebowski, I was at a loss. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on, or what any of it meant. But, I suppose that makes sense as I was about 12 when it came out. Since then, I’ve come to love it. With Netflix instant viewing, I now watch it about once a week. And while I still don’t know what a lot of it means (that’s actually one of its great strengths), I now count it among my favorite films.

So imagine my great joy when I came across this: The Big Lebowski as written by William Shakespeare. The entire screenplay re-written, as if by Shakespeare. That alone should be enough for you to follow the link and check it out. But, if it isn’t, here are a couple of choice excerpts.

1) The Big Lebowski and Brandt question The Dude (Knave) in the Limo.

LEBOWSKI
Speak, and speak quickly, foul vagrant!

THE KNAVE
I beseech ye, there is a beverage here.

BRANDT
Our attempts to reach thee have been frantic and numerous, Knave.

LEBOWSKI
Whither my money? They did not receive the money. Thou liest, thou shag-haired villain! Thou odious maggot! Her life was in thy hands!

BRANDT
Verily, this be our concern, Knave.

2) Donny and Walter.

DONALD
I be the walrus.

WALTER
Hold thy tongue, Donald! Thy mind is Lenten.
The quality of wealth has sicken’d me.
An had I known that this would come to pass
(O vilest strumpet! Sinner! Painted whore!)
I might have tarried ere accepting service.
War in far-flung jungles, as my friends
Did die face-down in mire and muck and fens!


A Few of My Favorite Follows

Written by : Posted on January 4, 2010 : 13 Comments

Now that Twitter has lists, it’s become even easier to follow more people without missing the content you really want. Here are a few of my favorite people/things to follow.

Music: @AmazonMP3 If you’re still buying music on iTunes, I only have one question: Why? AmazonMP3 albums are always cheaper, and every month they have at least 50 albums for $5. Plus, they offer $3 off coupons all the time. I bought the Antlers’ album, Hospice*, the other day for $2.00. Follow them on Twitter for the daily deal and special discounts.

Entertainment: @Variety Probably the best source for Entertainment news. And one of the news sources best-suited to 140 characters. For casting updates and box office reports, a headline is all you need.

Important: @TheEconomist For when you CNN isn’t really enough. More in-depth and thoughtful articles on finance, business, and world news.

Funny: @TheSulk Alec Sulkin*, a writer/actor/producer of Family Guy, has becomes my favorite for quality one-liners. It’s nice to see things like,“God, I wish I was 5 years younger, and not me.” in your feed every once in a while.

*My thanks to @TylerRomes for recommending both of these things to me.

Favorite Films of 2009

Written by : Posted on January 2, 2010 : No Comments
Jesse Eisenberg

Jesse Eisenberg

Here’s a list of my very favorite films* of 2009.

1) ADVENTURELAND. This is an interesting choice, I know. I get shit all the time for liking this movie and now I’ll hear about it even more for placing it atop my list. But, I love it. Adventureland was mis-marketed when it came out. Sure Greg Mottola directed it, but this is no Superbad 2. It’s an honest, slow, and caring look at growing up. A coming of age story that deals with work, family, and love in familiar yet fresh ways. Jesse Eisenberg may play the same character he does in every film, but he plays it brilliantly here. And you almost forget Kristin Stewart is Bella Swan in those other movies, as she pulls off a moving and subtle performance here as Em, Eisenberg’s love interest. Rounding out the cast are favorites like Martin Starr, Bill Hader, and Kristing Wiig each adding another layer to the film.

2) UP IN THE AIR. You know those movies you go into with such high expectations you just can’t help but be let down? Up in the Air was already on a number of top ten lists before I got a chance to see it. I had already heard that George Clooney gave a career-defining performance, and that Anna Kendrick was sure to be a star. My expectations could not have been higher. But, then I saw it. And Up in the Air delivered. Topical in a way Director Jason Reitman never could have anticipated, this film about a corporate downsizer who spends 250 lonely days per year flying, somehow manages to make you care about a man who fires (sometimes dozens of) people every day. The performances are astounding, particularly Clooney and Kendrick, but what’s surprising is the heart.

3) (500) DAYS OF SUMMER. Is there anything more tired and cliche than the Romantic Comedy? I mean, this is the year that gave us The Ugly Truth and Confessions of a Shopaholic. (500) Days of Summer while not completely free of the usual Romantic Comedy trappings (goofy best friend, precocious little sister) rises above the genre with inventive writing and direction, a non-linear plot, and dashes of creativity that in lesser hands would have felt like trite indie-movie tropes. Instead we get an engaging story about love (not a love story), led by my favorite new pair of leading actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

4) STAR TREK. I’ve only seen two episodes of the original series, and I have no interest in dressing up and attending a Star Trek convention, but I still loved this movie. And that says a lot about what Director J.J. Abrams accomplished here.  A movie for fans and novices alike, what makes Star Trek so successful are the intense action, the seamless effects, and a story we care about. We know who these characters are, and we care what happens, whether or not we’ve already been watching them for 40 years.

5) INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. This is easily my favorite Quentin Tarantino movie. For the first time in his career, I feel like style serves the substance instead of the other way around. He’s confident enough to leave scenes at a desperately-long 25 minutes, even when the only thing happening is a conversation. But, it’s in these scenes that the tension rises to levels higher than in any other film this year. Lives are threatened here just as often by the tone of a voice as by the end of a bat. It’s thrilling, unexpected, and altogether original.

6) AVATAR. Talk about a movie with high expectations. James Cameron’s first feature in over a decade was famous well before anyone ever saw a screen shot. Estimates of the film’s enormous budget were circulating before any reviews came in. But now that the film is out and the dust has settled, what remains? A beautiful and groundbreaking film. I won’t argue the merits of the story, as it is indeed a sort of environmentalist  Dances with Wolves. But the effects are incredible. It’s the best 3D and motion capture I’ve ever seen. You forget that the Na’vi aren’t a real people Cameron found, that Pandora isn’t a real place. As promised, I think we’ll find that Avatar was the beginning of a new wave of filmmaking.

7) FANTASTIC MR. FOX. If Cameron demonstrated the possibilities of cutting edge technology, Wes Anderson showed just how much could be accomplished with anachronistic stop motion. A project years in the making, Fantastic Mr. Fox looks like a handmade art school project. And I mean that in the best possible way. Every frame is filled with Anderson’s details: Carpet patches as farmland seen from above, a tiny corduroy suit, miniature paintings.  The things we came to love about The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore years before somehow feel original again in this context. Here’s proof that Anderson one of the best directors of the 1990’s still has some originality left nearly 20 years later.

8) UP. Pixar has yet to make a bad film, and even with this impressive pedigree, Up is one of their best. Where they’ve dealt with children and families before, Up takes a decidedly different approach, as the main character is an older man whose life has largely already passed. In perhaps the best montage of the year, we see his whole life progress from childhood, up until the death of his long-time love. It’s new ground for Pixar and it works. The story falters only slightly near the end with a villain that’s a little too stilted.

9) WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. There are only two ways to view this film: 1) It’s boring, slow, confusing, and seems to have little to do with the book or anything else -or- 2) It’s brilliant, visually-rich, emotionally complex, and challenging. I’m in the latter camp. Spike Jonze, working from a screenplay he co-wrote with Dave Eggers, created the strangest mainstream film of the year. Love it or hate it, it’s absolutely worth viewing.

10) ZOMBIELAND/THE HANGOVER. I guess this is cheating, but I liked these two for the same reason. They’re just fun. They aren’t trying to be anything more than pure, simple entertainment. And sometimes that’s what we really want. They can’t all be Up in the Air.

* I should mention that there are a few movies I haven’t seen yet that probably would have made this list. Among them are: The Hurt Locker, Big Fan, Precious, A serious Man, and A Singe Man.

Oprah’s on Twitter!

Written by : Posted on April 21, 2009 : 6 Comments

picture-1Damn.

I really liked Twitter. I liked getting updates throughout the day on what crazy things Rainn Wilson is doing, or how Eddie Izzard’s show went last night. I liked posting stupid pictures for people to see (or not). And I liked that only about 10 of my friends were on Twitter.

Then Oprah had to go and ruin everything. Pretty soon I’m going to get requests from all those people from high school I didn’t have the heart to reject on Facebook either  trying to “follow” me. Obscure relatives will want to follow my updates. 

I’ve come to grips with the fact that Facebook is no longer ours – it’s been hijacked by the 40-somethings of the world, and now I have to live with that. But, shit Oprah, couldn’t you have just left Twitter alone? We needed it.

God Bless You, Dave Eggers

Written by : Posted on March 30, 2009 : 1 Comment

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Mostly, I like to write about things I hate on here, so this should be a fun change of pace.

Dave Eggers, who has long been one of my very favorite authors, somehow just keeps getting better. You may have read his memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-Finalist “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” And trust me, it’s just that. Or maybe you’ve read “What is the What,” a novel about a Sudanese refugee’s early life. While it’s billed as a novel, it had major factual components, as the main character is a friend of Eggers’, Valentino Achak Deng. All of the proceeds from this best-selling book went to Valentino’s foundation, which is in place to rebuild his hometown of Muriel Bai in Sudan. Pretty cool.

Also, Eggers is responsible for starting McSweeney’s, one of the funniest, smartest literary journals out there. A sample of their online offerings.

Oh, and he started an incredible non-profit group (826 Valencia*) to offer tutoring in reading and writing to kids around the country. The guy’s not even 40 yet.

So, Eggers is a brilliant writer, publisher, humanitarian, etc.

This month, it came to my attention that he has yet another job description: Screenwriter. Remember the “Where the Wild Things Are” trailer Brandon posted? Remember how it looks so amazing it almost made you want to cry (be honest)? Guess who wrote that. Dave Eggers. And as if that weren’t enough, he’s also responsible (along with his wife Vida) for the screenplay for “Away We Go,” certain to be one of the better films of the year (it’s directed by Sam Mendes, “American Beauty”).

All that to say, Eggers is brilliant, and I am so pleased he is expanding into the world of film.

*Eggers won the TED award last year for his work with 826 Valencia. Check out the video. It’s awesome.

Paul Blart is a Big Winner

Written by : Posted on March 27, 2009 : No Comments

Mall Cop!

Kevin James seems like a nice enough guy. I mean, I’ve watched “King of Queens” a few times when nothing else was on. It’s just a fat-guy-has-a-hot-wife sitcom, but James is fairly enjoyable. And he was fine in “Hitch.” Whatever.

What troubles me is the success of “Pall Blart: Mall Cop.” As I write this, “Paul Blart” just surpassed a domestic box office gross of $140,000,000.

To put that in perspective, here is a list of the movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture last year, and their earnings. Also, “Paul Blart” has been in theaters for a shorter time than any of these.

– “Frost/Nixon” – $18,000,000
– “Milk” – $32,000,000
– “The Reader” – $33,000,000
– “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – $127,000,000
– “Slumdog Millionaire” – $137,000,000

How the hell did this happen? Are we really such suckers for the lowest common denominator of comedy?

I’ll finish with one piece of related, positive news. There’s another mall cop movie coming out that looks risky, intelligent, and creative (Read: Another film that will make less money than “Paul Blart”).

Fred Durst is Back

Written by : Posted on March 26, 2009 : 1 Comment

Durst

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been asking yourself the same question I have these 5 long years since the release of Limp Bizkit’s final album: “When will the multi-talented Fred Durst see fit to offer his art up to the world again?”

Nope. I hate Fred Durst. Who doesn’t? But what happens when something you hate makes something that looks good?

Recently, I saw a movie trailer for “The Education of Charlie Banks” that got me feeling a bit excited. “Charlie Banks” is an Independent coming-of-age story starring Jesse Eisenberg (Squid and the Whale, Adventureland). The movie ran the festival circuit in late 2007, winning the “Made in NY Narrative Award” at the Tribeca Film Festival, and by all accounts looks like a pretty decent movie.

The problem for me while watching the trailer occurred in the final seconds as these words crossed the screen: “A Fred Durst Film.” Shit. Did I accidentally get excited about a film directed by a man who named his band after this?

But, it looks like Fred Durst is back, and he may even have a reasonable film on his hands. Even so, there is hope for all of us Durst haters out there. He made this movie, too, which looks like a cross between “Little Giants” and “Are We There Yet?” And I mean that in the worst possible way. Plus, there are reports of a Limp Bizkit reunion tour later this year.

I just hope that “Charlie Banks” is as terrible as everything else I’ve come to expect from Durst. I know how to hate the man, but if “Charlie Banks” is good, I won’t know what to do. Wait for a summer blockbuster from the drummer of Nickelback, I guess.