Words By S.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

On Public Transportation.

The scene was typical: pedestrian approaches difficult to cross intersection; however standstill occurs with pedestrian, car, and bus.  Not wanting to get run over, pedestrian allows vehicles to go first, and then makes a run for the bus stop, only to have bus pull off.

And so begins “Public Transportation: A Rant.”

I realize that buses aren’t mandated to stop and wait for patrons to get to the bus stop and board.  I also realize that, as a patron, I should be at the stop before the bus gets there.  However, it is just common courtesy and decency for the bus driver to allow a person who is running for the bus to board.

In addition to the frequency of bus drivers to drive off without the patrons, the bus drivers have a tendency to range between ten and 45 minutes of tardiness.  This isn’t merely an annoyance, it’s an inconvenience – particularly when patrons have places to be… like work.

It is bad enough that the powers that be over at the Port Authority offices recently increased pricing on a very shoddy public transport system, but now the drivers want to go on strike.

Now, I may be flawed in my thinking, but shouldn’t the service be at it’s supreme before its employees decide to be demanding of whatever goods it is that they are seeking?

I find myself hard pressed to care about employees who are rude, perpetually late, and make my life all the more inconvenient as a result of that rudeness and lateness.

To the Port Authority employees, I say – get your acts together and provide a real service rather than a disservice before getting demanding and boycott happy.

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Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Filed under: Film — S @ 10:17 pm
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Gonzo (adj.): Crazy; eccentric.

I had the pleasure of seeing this film today (when the entry starts off like that, you know it’s a good one).  As the title so succinctly puts it, Gonzo is a film about the life and work of the late journalist/author, Hunter S. Thompson.

Part biopic, part documentary, the film nicely fuses the works of Hunter with his life.  Chock full of interviews with friends, family, and important figureheads that were impacted by Hunter, as well as readings of his works by Johnny Depp, the film does a nice job summarizing his life and his legacy.

The film starts with a voice-over and scene of Hunter typing up an article about the September 11th attacks, the day that it happened.  In the article, he predicts the future of the world, as it is today.  From there, we delve into his life, and learn about the impact he would make on American society.

We follow the life of Hunter from his lower-middle class childhood in Kentucky to his trek to Aspen, Colorado.  Along the way, we get visual aids from archival footage via home movies, game shows (“will the real Hunter S. Thompson please stand up”), photographs, interviews and reenactments.  Hunter’s two wives and son also provide a lot of input into telling his story.

Throughout, the film is reinforced with readings from his books, done by Johnny Depp, and also clips of the films Fear and Loathing and Where The Buffalo Roam.

We learn about his friendship with artist Ralph Steadman as well as with lawyer Oscar Acosta.  We learn about his impact on the presidential candidates George McGovern and Jimmy Carter.  We also learn about his impact on American society as a whole, and subsequently the impact his fame would have on his family life.

The film did a good job of expressing Hunter’s brand of humor, showing his humanity, as well as showing his drug addled, gun wielding craziness.  And, when approaching the subject of his death, continued to express it with his brand of humor and eccentricity, without becoming overly sentimental and sappy.

A very good film, indeed.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Role of Sex in the Art House Film.

Filed under: Film,Popular Culture — S @ 7:38 pm
Tags: , ,

One evening, I decided to watch a documentary about sex in the indie film world.  The documentary was all about the use of real sex in art house films, as opposed to simulated sex.  It had the major art film players making commentary on the importance of using real sex and how it makes these films different from, not only their big budgeted Hollywood counterparts with their simulated sex, but also from pornography.

While I found it to be very interesting, subject matter-wise, the whole thing felt trite and pretentious (much like your average art house film).  For one, it left you with such statements as:

“In porn, you have the pizza boy who comes to the door and has sex with the lonely housewife, and that’s it. In an art film, you might have the pizza boy who comes to the door and is turmoiled and finds out who he is and his meaning through having sex with the lonely housewife.”

Therefore the difference between an art film and porn is… plot.  The pretentious filmmakers also used the documentary as a soapbox to make social commentary and assumed that anyone who opposes their use of real sex in films is “afraid of sex”:

“I hope that people will be less afraid of sex in movies and less afraid of sex in their own lives.”

Really?

How typical/predictable/any other synonym you can think of.

I didn’t like your piece of crap film that was sex-laden and weak-plotted, therefore I must be afraid of sex.  Your film couldn’t have just sucked.

The best example of an art film that utilizes actor/actress actually engaging in intercourse is Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs.  I was intrigued when it was initially released, however I never went to see it.   Normally, I am one for forming my own opinion after watching a film, however this time I allowed numerous reviews (both positive and negative) do the dirty work – so to speak.

The plot of 9 Songs, for those that don’t know, is: American girl goes to study at a school in England, and she and English lad “fall in love”.  The entire story is told through the young man’s fond memories of his first love.  They include nine indie rock shows (hence the title), and lots of sex.   From what I understand, there is not much acting in this film – the minimal dialogue that is in the film is 100% improvised, the concerts come from stock footage, and the sex comprises probably about 90% of the film.

The selling point of the film is supposed to be the “real sex” – even highlighted by the movie poster:

Essentially, what Michael Winterbottom appears to have done is to attempt to see just how much sex and nudity he could get away with by creating a 69 (get it?) minute amateur porn under the guise of “art film;” and naturally, Winterbottom fans sopped it up as a “great/important/beautiful work of art”.

From what I understand, the actress (Margo Stilley) has attempted to remove her name from this film.  I guess she must be afraid of sex too, huh?

The documentary didn’t make me feel one way or another about the use of real versus simulated sex in film, but it did make me highly irritated with the pretension and self-importance of indie filmmakers.  For one, I can fully understand when sex (real or not) is used to aid a story (i.e. Requiem For A Dream), but not when sex is used as a shock factor in a film that has no real story or a weak plot.  Lastly, I find it highly insulting for anyone, let alone a filmmaker, to assume that his consumer is closed-minded or afraid of sex just because they don’t eat up the product.

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