Category: Movies

Movies with Movement is What I Like

Make that love.

We had some friends over for dinner recently and the discussion, as is common, turned to movies. Everyone’s opinion on what makes a good movie may differ, but there is one fundamental thing a movie needs: movement. For example, my friend Dave said that while he likedCloverfield,” he had a problem with the monster itself. It didn’t seem to have a purpose and its movements were random. Now Godzilla, on the other hand, was always on the go. He moved and did it with purpose. He was on his way somewhere. I had to agree. I too liked “Cloverfield,” but the monster’s intent was like its shape, amorphous and random. So what could have been a new, genre-defining monster movie was merely an engaging and likable affair that featured a bit of credibility stretching by using a hand-held camera POV for its duration. There is a world of difference between “like” and “love.”

This year, two movies in particular were competing for Best Picture at the Oscars. One was Paul Thomas Anderson’sThere Will Be Blood,” loosely based on “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair, and the other was (eventual winner) Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men,” based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. Both movies feature sadistic central characters and have a theme of “the times they are a changin'”; the first due to unabated oil development around the turn of the last century and the other to a rising tide of drug running and criminality along the Texas border in 1980. But there’s a key difference to what separates the first movie from merely being an attractive, if long-winded exercise in greed and megalomania, to a thought provoking, riveting, and accomplished feat of storytelling in the latter: movement.

Some Links May Be NSFW: The 2008 GayVN Awards

GayVN Header.My friend Melissa Gira Grant and I recently attended GayVN Awards, the biggest gay porn industry awards show. Both of our tickets had been gratis through our office jobs, hers as a consultant at the St. James Infirmary (an occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers) and mine as a webmonkey for NakedSword (a hardcore streaming gay porn website). It’s one of those weird, neat little perks of my place of employment, which is otherwise an office job like most any other.

We’ve got health insurance and mysterious 401K paperwork and a sign above the kitchen sink asking people to please wash their damn dishes and cliques and birthday cards passed around and we go on the occasional “team-building” outdoor excursion or out for lunch around the holidays. Except, you know, our raison d’etre is pornography, so we can use dirty words in office emails and it’s perfectly okay to put up pictures of naked hunks if one is so inclined. Best of both worlds.

(Sidenote: my new favorite adjective is “hunky.” It’s often used in movie blurbs, as well as episode synopses for our webcast The Tim & Roma Show, i.e. “Tim and Roma are joined by hunky Jason Adonis…” I have no idea why, but it makes me laugh every single time.)

Sometimes we need to de-porn the office for a sensitive visitor (like one of our “straight” web design clients, or the boss’s nephew), and even though the relaxed corporate culture allows me to decorate my workspace like the gloomy, media-saturated teenager I’ve never stopped being, there’s no nudity on my walls. Three (count ’em, three) Marilyn Manson posters, sure, magazine covers from Bizarre and Fetish and Skin Two as well as one-sheet movie posters for both Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me and Cronenberg’s Crash, both of which are among the most sexually outré films of the nineties, but no porn. Because, really, that would just be tacky.

Melissa’s actual day job is writing for Valleywag, and in addition to Medialoper I write for the Eros Zine (or at least I did, until it folded this week). Our post-modern ironic-yet-sex-positive credentials were solid. Granted, to get in the door all that mattered was that we had our tickets in hand. Like David Cross said, indie hipster cred won’t buy you a house in the country, and at a hundred bucks for regular tickets (and two hundred for my “industry” ticket), we wouldn’t have been there if our bill wasn’t footed.


Goodbye, HD-DVD, I Never Knew You

I’d like to bid farewell to the HD-DVD format, which died a quick death this week. Was it any good?

You see, I was one of the millions of consumers who stayed on the sidelines while HD-DVD fought it out with Blu-Ray for high-definition digital supremacy. Because I knew that this day was inevitable, I stayed away from both formats. So I never actually saw an HD-DVD movie. Not even in a demonstration.

After all, I’d already lived through this movie once before: only it was called Beta vs. VHS. I watched while a lot of smart people got burnt by picking the wrong format, so I figured that I didn’t need to see the remake.


Going to Church: Rifftrax Live at the Castro Theater

Plan 9 From Outer Space.

I first heard about Mystery Science Theater 3000 from friends in ’91 and thought it sounded interesting, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to track it down. Then one Friday night after closing the Video Zone my friend and coworker Mark and I were flipping through channels, as was the custom in those days. we came across a b&w monster movie with silhouetted chairs and figures along the bottom of the screen. I said: “Is this what I think it is?” The movie was Gamera, and while it was never my favorite episode of MST3K, it will always be the one closest to my heart. You never forget your first. I was immediately a fan, and I taped every episode.

The show was canceled in 1999 after a decade, and I figured that was that. It saddened me, of course, especially because I held the heretical belief that the show hit its stride when it moved to the Sci-Fi channel in 1997. I always preferred Mike Nelson to Joel Hodgson, I liked the new direction Bill Corbett took Crow, I found Pearl and Professor Bobo and Brain Guy a lot funnier than Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank, and…yeah. As I say, heretical.

Still, there’s a lot to be said for quitting while you’re ahead. Or, as the case may be, being abandoned by your network while you’re ahead. Besides, I still had several hundred hours of MST3K on tape should I ever need a fix, many of which I hadn’t watched since the waning days of Bush 41’s administration, so they wouldn’t feel stale. It’s not like I remember any of the jokes from Crash of the Moons or Tormented, though I do know Manos, The Hands of Fate and Mitchell by heart at this point, and woe to anyone dating me who thinks they won’t be subjected to Hobgoblins.


Why You Shouldn’t Get Excited About HBO on Broadband

The headlines, of course, are breathless: HBO Goes Online,
It’s not TV, it’s HBO — on your computer, It’s Not the Web, It’s HBO, so when I first saw them, I thought, cool.

Actually, here is what I thought: finally, I’m going to be able to re-watch the full run of The Larry Sanders Show! On my own schedule!

But then I read what HBO on Broadband is actually going to be . . .