Isn’t it wild how life imitates art imitates life? Sometimes it is just kind of freaky; then other times it is “twilight zone” weird. For example, this weekend, the reel world and the real world merged for just a brief moment in the strangest of ways. For me, it was a tough weekend because a great friend, and an amazing Bernal personality, passed away. Aaron Green, a Bernal Heights resident who could often be found book in hand, sitting on a bench on Cortland, reading, listening to music or just enjoying the day, succumbed to illness leaving behind an earth that is a little less bright as a result. Aaron was the kind of guy who was a king of perspective. Many times he helped me remember what was important, and more importantly, what was not. I was grateful for his humor and his wisdom, and he was also a great loaner of books, which we shared a great love for. He was among the very first people who welcomed my family to Four Star Video, and I will always remember him for that.
Aaron was my friend, and on Saturday he left us. That day my family spent the afternoon in the Brisbane swimming pool and my mood rose and fell with the memory of his breath. It was a sad day. And I was comforted by my family. That night, I swung by Four Star to pick up some movies for a little cinematic escape. I took home this week’s biggest two releases, GET HIM TO THE GREEK and IRON MAN 2 (electric boogaloo). When I went online to the IMDB to read about the films, I was initially startled by the first words I read on the first film…”Aaron Green can do no wrong.”!!!! My brain didn’t understand at first…that’s right, I thought, he couldn’t…but…how would the computer know about Aaron Green? Wha??? Then, like a pile of plates that have fallen perfectly back into place after the tablecloth was pulled out from under them, suddenly it clicked. The universe was talking to me through film!?!? Was it just coincidence that the movie I picked up had a main character with my friend’s name? Maybe, but who cares? It was a sign! Of what? Not important! What was important for me was the sign. Aaron was gone, but here was another Aaron and I was invited to spend a couple hours with him. So, of course, I did. I watched GET HIM TO THE GREEK, a silly comedy starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, and I laughed until I cried. And I cried a bit until I laughed…Aaron would have appreciated life’s rich façade, and I did, too. The movie was pretty funny, if you like Judd Apatow-style humor – which I do, and which, humorously, Aaron did not.
The universe has a tendency toward bizarre connections like this. And usually we have the tendency to just ignore them. But I think the more I notice these strange and beautiful moments, the more I feel like I am on my correct path. Which is a nice way to feel.
A couple notes on some of the other titles: I watched IRON MAN 2. Back with another supercast, this one with Robert Downey, Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow playing the same roles, and introducing Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson and the very sexy (but slightly vapid) Scarlett Johannsen in either villainous or duplicitous roles, the sequel was pretty much exactly what I hope for in a comic book film. Truth is, I don’t watch a ton of these films, so I am not the best judge. But what I want in these movies is some cool gadgetry, snappy dialogue, tight costumes over fit bodies, high-tech action sequences, and a few well-placed explosions. IM2 has that and more. I heard some complaints about this and that, and they are valid complaints, but as for me, I am not judging this film the way I would judge more dramatic films or serious comedies. This kind of movie is pure entertainment, and in that department it delivered what it promised.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME is the new film by Michael Winterbottom. Starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson, it is about a sheriff in Texas struggling with his own passions and demons.
BABIES is the doc we’ve been hearing about for the last year. It follows 4 babies from around the world (including one from San Francisco) and shows how we are all the same, even though we are all so very different.
COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY is another film that is trying to contextualize the huge affect Coco had on the world and in this case on Mr. Stravinsky.
There is also a lot of television out this week, including everyone’s fave 30 ROCK: SEASON 4!
Two other short personal notes: First, this week, my first ever film column is being printed in The New Bernal Journal. “Film Talk with Ken” should hit the streets at the end of the week. It was fun writing, and I hope I get asked to continue to do it. Let me know what you think! Secondly, my band, The Dont’s, is being reviewed, dissected and psychoanalyzed in an article in the East Bay Express that is maybe coming out tomorrow (or next week, nobody tells the drummer!). So there you go, this weeks horn blowing has come to an end.
Alrighty then, see you down at the store.
Love and Kisses,
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COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY.???????????
Mads Mikkelsen/Anna Mouglalis/Yelena Morozova.
Directed by Jan Kounen.
* Parallels in their drive and motivations are strongly felt by Coco and Igor when they first meet, passion is the emotion that marks their later connection.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK. ****BD****
Jonah Hill/Russell Brand/Rose Byrne/Elizabeth Moss/Sean Combs.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller.
* P-Diddy is pretty awesome as the record label boss who sends Aaron (Hill) off to pick up a newly off-the-wagon, Aldous Snow, somewhat washed-up rock star, to bring him from London to Los Angeles where he is set to have a 10-year anniversary concert of one of his more famous performances. For Aaron, it is the chance of a lifetime, to be the man in the industry who makes this special event happen. For Snow, it’s just another weekend of drug cocktails, boorish behavior, and kinky sex, which culminates in one of film’s more uncomfortable ménage a trois scenes with Aaron, Aldous and Aaron’s girlfriend (Byrne). Though the film is pretty silly, there are a lot of laughs to be had.
I’M GONNA EXPLODE.
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo.
* Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna produced this rebellious teen film about a young couple who hit the road with daddy’s gun and a stolen VW…party!
IRON MAN 2.****BD****
Robert Downey, Jr/Gwyneth Paltrow/Don Cheadle/Scarlett Johansson/Mickey Rourke/Sam Rockwell/Samuel L. Jackson/Garry Shandling.
Directed by Jon Favreau.
* Pretty sturdy sequel with Downey, Jr back in the role of the egomaniacal and narcissistic Tony Starks, world dominator, all around stud, and supergenius, who also happens to be dying from some hard to explain illness having something to do with the ring of blue electricity that emanates from a strange hole in the guys chest…Uh, moving on. Enter Mickey Rourke, the son of some Mongolian, or Russian, or Latvian who feels like he was rooked by Tony’s daddy and now wants revenge. I really liked this movie, but couldn’t they have found a Mongolian, or Russian or Latvian actor to play this part? Or maybe Viggo Mortensen at the least? I digress… Mayhem ensues, battles, flight, weird explosives, other Iron Men, friends turned enemies turned friends again, rival weapons companies, snotty senators, very sexy assistants and assistants assistants (censoring a funny line here). All around this movie had the fun things you are looking for in a comic book flick and, as usual, is perfectly set up for the next one in the series. My son, Huck, says that Tony Starks turned bad in the comic books and eventually got killed by the good guys…we should only be so lucky if they follow that path on the silver screen.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME.
Casey Affleck/Jessica Alba/Kate Hudson/Elias Koteas/Bill Pullman.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom.
* In this strange tale, a southern sheriff turns out to be a psychotic killer...Where do they come up with these crazy stories?
LA LOI (THE LAW).
Drama/Black & White/Foreign (French)
Gina Lollobrigida/Marcello Mastroianni.
Directed by Jules Dassin.
* Pretty awesome and hot looking film from 1959.
LE PETOMANE! (THE FART FILM).
Directed by Steve Ochs???.
* Please watch this important film, from the IMDB: Based on a true story set around turn-of-the-century France, it follows the lives of two men: Joseph Pujol and Dr. Marcel Baudouin. Pujol was an entertainer at the Moulin Rouge who was gifted with a unique backside, which could take in and release air in measured increments thus producing amazing and humorous noises. Dr. Baudouin was obsessed with Joseph's "instrument" and pursued him doggedly for many years, ultimately resulting in his undoing.
Travis Aaron Wade.
Directed by James Isaac.
* We’ve been hearing about this locally made horror film for a few years now, and I have been pretty psyched about it…today Chris told me it is basically about these dudes mesmerize by these hippy chicks with their hippy outfits and who use the marijuana, who then become food and fertilizer on the farm by getting scarfed down by their crazy wild human-eating pigs…hope I didn’t spoil it!
MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE.
David Bowie/Tom Conti.
Directed by Nagisa Oshima.
* Bowie plays a British Major in a Japanese internment camp during WWII in this 1983 film just being rereleased by Criterion.
Cillian Murphy/Jim Broadbent/Brendan Gleeson.
Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon.
* This is a revenge story about a gangster looking to exact revenge on some people who he blames for the death of one of his peeps.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: THE BEST OF EDDIE MURPHY.
* Eddie did his most amazing work back in his SNL days…
STOMP THE YARD: HOMECOMING.
Directed by Rob Hardy.
* More great dance drama in this sequel about “step” competition at university.
THE THIN RED LINE.
Sean Penn/Adrien Brody/Jim Caviezel/George Clooney/John Cusack/Woody Harrelson/Elias Koteas/Jared Leto/Nick Nolte/John Travolta/.
Directed by Terrence Malick.
* When released in 1998, this was Malick’s first film since 1978. It stars many of the biggest stars of the day, and features tremendous cinematography, as well as tight and intense dialogue. The story is about the conflict at Guadalcanal during World War II.
Directed by Thomas Balmes.
* This doc, which shows a year in the life of four babies (San Francisco, Tokyo, Namibia and Mongolia) highlights some of the differences in the way we raise our children around the planet, but even more so highlights the similarities in peoples everywhere.
SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION.
The Roots/Richie Havens/TV on The Radio/Wyclef Jean.
Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman.
* This is a telling of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s through the powerful and political music that served as the anthems and freedom songs sung by the protesters.
Documentary/Celebrity/Politics/Foreign (English and Italian).
Directed by Eric Gandini.
* From Amazon: VIDEOCRACY is a queasy-funny and unapologetically biased look at the televisual world that the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has created. As if you were watching a transmission from another planet, the media mogul and politician (he was elected for a third term in 2008) has a monopoly hold on Italian television and some say, helped put the boob (and lots of them) on the Italian tube. Berlusconi is often in the news himself for his political machinations, outrageous observations, sexcapades and persistent charges of corruption. This gripping documentary captures it all.
ASTONISHING X-MEN GIFTED.
Created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.
* I think if Joss Whedon touches it, it becomes gold.
BEING HUMAN: SEASON TWO.
* I was gonna make a joke about a werewolf a vampire and a ghost walking into a bar, b/c the premise of this show is those three living together and trying to make a go of their multi-ethnic lives…then I went online and saw that EVERY reviewer made the same unfunny joke. Now I know I have really hit it big-time!
THE LORD PETER WIMSEY MYSTERY SERIES: SET TWO.
* More epic BBC televised mysteriousness.
MIDSOMER MURDERS: SET 16.
PARTY DOWN: SEASON TWO.
Adam Scott/Martin Starr.
* Season two of the noxious comedy about a crew of caterers who were actually hoping to be actors when they moved to Los Angeles. Oh, well…reality bites.
SOUTH PARK: A LITTLE BOX OF BUTTERS.
TV/Animation/Wonderfully sick humor.
* This is a collection of Butters-centric episodes from the crazy South Park gang.
* This is PG-13 and that is why it is not in the kids section.
30 ROCK: SEASON 4.
Tina Fey/Alec Baldwin.
* Elizabeth Stamatina Fey is the king of comedy. And she’s hot! Seriously, this show about goings on behind the scenes of a late night comedy show is super funny.
HARRIET THE SPY: BLOG WARS.
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE LAURIE BERKNER BAND.
RALPH S. MOUSE: RELAUNCH.
SHE-RA: SEASON ONE VOLUME ONE.
TOM AND JERRY’S GREATEST CHASES: V05.
VEGGIE TALES: GIRL POWER TRIPLE FEATURE.
VEGGIE TALES: SUPER HERO TRIPLE FEATURE.
* Really? The Coen Brothers are remaking this film? Well, I guess those crazy guys know what they’re doing... This is our first DVD of the original John Wayne masterpiece.
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM.
* My son must not have been in that room...