Sunday, January 23, 2011


Some time ago, in the wake of multiple posts lamenting the punishingly dull, relentlessly self-important botch that was Superman Returns, I mentioned my regret that the shift toward dourly serious superhero movies meant it was extremely unlikely that we'd ever again see a movie like Richard Lester's Superman 3, which is a whole lot worse than Superman Returns but a lot more interesting, as Lester's obvious contempt for the genre and discomfort at handling a summer tentpole were palpable.  The days had long passed, I thought, when a studio would hire a director as obviously incompatible with this kind of material.

I was wrong, apparently, although in the case of The Green Hornet, it's hard to know who is more incompatible with the mechanics of superhero machinery, director Michel Gondry, more noted for his decidedly low-tech whimsy, or co-writer/star Seth Rogen, whose slacker/stoner persona is rapidly approaching its sell-by date.  To their credit, neither men seems remotely interested in making a big dumb action movie.  In fact, they don't quite seem to know what the hell they're doing.

That's mostly intended as a compliment.  It would be impossible to describe The Green hornet as a good movie, exactly, but it's a lot of fun, with some of the go-for-broke inventiveness of Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, albeit without the visual and thematic unity of that film.  Half of what happens, plot-wise and character-wise, seems utterly random, and not always intentionally so, but that makes it wonderfully free of Screenwriting 101 conventions.  A late scene where Rogen puts together the motivations of the two main villains is the closest it even comes to pretending to care about the storyline. 

So the movie rises and falls on its individual scenes.  Some of them, particularly anything involving Rogen or co-star Jay Chou hitting on Cameron Diaz, are pretty squirm-inducing.  But the scenes revealing Chou's abilities as a crackpot inventor as well as an ass-kicking martial artist (and incidentally, Gondry shows a real flair for filming and editing action scenes; who knew?) are delightful, everything involving Christoph Waltz's insecure villain Chudnofsky (or Bloodnofsky, as he later decides to call himself) is solid gold, and how can you not love the fact that Gondry sticks a homage to the sped-up threeway scene from A Clockwork Orange into this would-be franchise movie? 

The Green Hornet did unexpectedly well in its opening weekend, but I suspect it won't have legs, and any kind of sequel seems unlikely.  That's okay.  It's reassuring to know that the Hollywood development process even allowed something this eccentric to get made in the first place.

Monday, January 17, 2011


This is a not-untypical day off: Janie and I went out for breakfast, we came home and hung out, took epic-length naps...That's about it.  Right now she's watching Underworld on cable, a movie I don't care for but which I'm finding to be a perfect zone-out movie, something that can be on in the background and I can dip in and out of without any concern that I'm missing anything.

That's kind of the point of my life that I've reached, and honestly, I'm good with it.  I'm no longer nagged by the feeling that I'm supposed to be doing something else.  I haven't seen as much of the world as I might like, I've never finished, much less published, any of those novels I started, and I've sentenced myself to a life with a job, not a career, which means I'll never earn as much money as I thought I needed to be happy.

Thing is, though, I am happy.  Mostly, anyway.  It doesn't matter how worldly we are or what our income level is, life will always be made up of small, individual moments.  And if more of those moments are joyous than sad, well, that's a life well-lived.  As long as Janie and I can inexplicably burst into songs from Mary Poppins while snuggling in bed, as long as beloved beagle Isabella leaps like an overgrown bunny through snow banks, as long as Delmar growls, hisses and finally purrs when curled up on my lap...At times like those I feel love, both given and received.  And what could produce greater happiness than that?

Friday, January 14, 2011


In the past, I've tended to use terms like "Lovecraftian nightmare" to describe vintage TV commercials that featured edible objects coming to terrifying life.  I mean, a talking, disembodied hand or a lumbering pitcher of fruit-flavored drink would be, if we saw them in our everyday lives, a horror beyond comprehension.

Still, you know what?  I say, good for Mr. Salty! 

Though I doubt he ever really served in the Navy, he at least found someone willing to rent him a costume, and through sheer pluck, and without actually accomplishing anything more than being "crisply"--which, you know, he's a pretzel; it's like congratulating a human for having skin--he manages to get the all-white citizens of this anonymous city singing his praises.  Of course, presumably after the ceremony, everyone will gather 'round and consume him, and his bland smile won't be enough to cover the unbearable pain, but at least he had his moment.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


A great day yesterday, spent almost entirely in the company of Paul--we went to a movie, we ate out, mostly we made each other laugh.  (Yes, my sense of humor is like an eleven-year-old's.)  In all we did, the radio and computer were barely utilized, and the TV was used for entertainment purposes only.

It wasn't until this morning, glancing at the headlines at The New York Times, that I even became aware of the shootings in Arizona.  And the horrifying details filled me with...nothing, really.  A vague sadness, a faraway sense of despair.

But no grand emotions.  Just made me feel sort of numb, and the feeling continues.  I'm all alone here now, Paul is back with his mom and Janie's gone for the weekend, so I hunker down here with the beloved cat and dog, staring out the window at the gray day, waiting for the snow.