27 December 2005

Back in the Hot Box...

So another Xmas has come and gone, my friends in Christ. It was a majestic one to be sure, filled with DVDs, page-a-day calendars, beer, swedish meatballs in grape jelly sauce, new white socks and lots of TV watchin'.

So first, the important stuff. Here's what I got:

  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (DVD)

  • 8 1/2 (DVD)
  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (book)

  • Lyndon Johnson: Master of Senate by Robert A Caro (book)

  • Borders Gift Certificate

  • New Socks

  • X-mas tree ornament in the shape of a Chuck Taylor sneaker

  • Two button down shirts

  • DAD
  • "Irish Writers" framed print

  • Amazon.com gift certificate

  • Bookshelf (I gotta find one to order)

  • I Had a Hammer by Hank Aaron (book)

  • MLB Page-a-day Calendar

  • MIKE
  • 40 Year Old Virgin (DVD)

  • I also got some money from relatives, which was tremendously generous for all involved. I also got these people gifts as well, but you all don't care about that, because everyone knows the season is about receiving, not giving. Honestly.

    I also saw two movies while home- The Ringer which Mike and his friend Casey basically dragged me to, and Munich (which I'll talk about here in a few paragraphs, friend).

    The Ringer was, to put it charitably, an absolutely terrible movie. Just horrible. It was fun to go to- a nearly empty theater and a jaw-droppingly bad movie can often be a bit of good fun, which at times, it was. The first 35 minutes of this movie were about as bad as it gets though. Just every single attempt at a joke crashing, burning, resurrecting, making itself vomit and then dying again. That's how bad.

    The one bright spot was the performance turned in by Jed Rees as Glen, one of Johnny Knoxville's character's fellow competitors and buddies. If you're not aware- the movie is about Knoxville pretending to be retarded to fix the Special Olympics. The movie was co-produced by the Special Olympics, which is why you're not hearing about the movie- it's an uncontroversial family comedy about mentally challenged people.

    Anyway, not all the actors assigned to Special Olympians roles were, in fact, mentally challenged, for some odd reason. In fact, by my count of the "Special Olympics leads" parts, only two were "challenged"- the ones with Downs Syndrome. The rest were played by normal actors, presumably because there's nothing funny about an actual mentally challenged person, but there is oftentimes something funny about someone pretending to be one. See also: Riding the Bus with My Sister.

    Anyway, Rees plays Glen, and he does this ridiculous voice/ posture thing that had us laughing every time he came on screen. With the exception of that and the part where one of the fake retarded guys said "when the FUCK did we get ice cream?!" I didn't even want to laugh once. Ouch.

    That said- Katherine Heigl is a smoking hot babe.

    Didn't really do much more than that. I watched a couple episodes of "Comedians of Comedy" that I'd missed over the last couple weeks, in addition to doing a nice bit of sleeping and having my first 7-11 Taquito since I moved out of my 80th St. apartment. Listening to Patton Oswalt recite nearly the entirety of Jaws was inexplicably funny, as was Zach's faux-animal observation documentary voiceover for an Oswalt/ Pohsehn nerd conversation. That show is unbelievably funny. As it happens, Mike and I may be seeing Galifianakis sometime here in January.

    It was actually kind of warm for the entire time I was home, so that was cool. Apropos of nothing, however, right now the giant douchebag actor-wannabe I work with has jacked the temperature in the office I'm working in up to around 97 degrees because he's sick, which also means I'm treated to a non-stop round of short, hard puffs of air through his nose, seemingly to make everyone around him aware of how much snot he has in his immediate nostrils and to not allow them to move against the laws of gravity up into his nose. What this accomplishes outside annoying the fuck out of me I have no idea. Stay tuned.

    I also saw Munich X-mas night, and it was absolutely fantastic. Very heavy, uncomfortable movie to watch- but still suspenseful and compelling enough to be enjoyable.

    In a weird way, the film reminded me of Do the Right Thing- not in tone, style or execution, but in the way that both films refused to offer a solution to a moral and social issue. I'm well aware that this really, really bothers a lot of people, but I'm of the mind that, in cases like these (race relations in America, the Palestinian/ Israeli struggles), the filmmaker doesn't have an answer. Moreover, though it's easy to pick a side and hiss at anyone that sits on the other, more often than not these things are far too complicated.

    Anyway, apparently people on both sides are in a snit that Spielberg chose to sympatize with Palestinians, or that he lets the Mossad assassinations that are the subject of the film off the hook too much. Excusing the obvious point that doing both would be nearly impossible in one film, I often wonder if any of the people that take the opportunity to express outrage at a film so excitedly ever actually watch them. It's a tired debate, but suffice it to say that anyone that actually interprets the film with any level of understanding would realize that it seeks to do neither- no one's left off the hook. That's the point.

    Without getting too much into the details of the film, as I'd guess most people haven't had a chance to see it yet- the movie looks at the Israeli response to the Black September terrorist attacks on the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. In short, Mossad agents were employed to go out and kill everyone involved.

    So in essence, the violence starts to beget more of itself, as the assassinated are replaced, responses are waged, and ultimately, the film becomes a lingering question- what does any of it gain? This question never becomes Pollyanna-ish, because there is complexity (obviously) to all the decisions. But the question is there, still.

    I happen to be a great fan of Eric Bana's, so his being the lead was something I really appreciated. Added to that was a nice turn from the new Bond (apparently), Daniel Craig, and Ciaran Hinds, who played Caesar in Rome.

    Apparently Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay from the book by George Jonas, along with Eric Roth. There's also a lot of squabble about the historical veracity of a lot of what is depicted in the film- in essence, it's historical fiction. I don't think anyone doubts that the Mossad actually did wage Operation Wrath of God, but there's no telling whether this specific group of agents existed, or if their means of operation on any level were accurately portrayed. That said, when you see the movie, you'll realize that couldn't be more irrelevant.

    An analogy would be a film about a fictional regiment in the Civil War, confronted with all the moral dilemmas and crises of conscience associated with that event in history. The message applies, even if these specific instances didn't definitely occur.

    That said, the events in the film that we know ARE true- the flashback staging of the terrorist Olympic raid in 1972- is really, really tough to watch. It's unbelievable to actually see it from that angle (there's this one shot from inside the Israeli dorm, with a TV in the foreground showing the ski-masked Palestinian poking his head out the balcony door, and in the background of the shot, the actual Palestinian poking his head out the balcony door, with his back to the camera- just chilling), with these iconic images put right in your face, as opposed to being shown with the safety barrier of the well-known news footage.

    A truly great, great movie. I'm a couple of movies away before I feel comfortable listing off my favorites of the year, so that should pop up here some time in the next week or so. Keep a head's up...

    Also, one final note- apparently the one thing that did not survive the move at the start of this month was, unfortunately, my "starting rotation" of baseball hats- my Red Sox authentic wool fitted, my red 1975 Sox hat, my Expos "franchise" hat and my New York (baseball) Giants franchise hat.

    This is not good. This really, really sucks. I've had shitass luck with hats in the last 6 months. Anyway, I'm going to replace them one-by-one. Thought I'd mention it. I'm starting, naturally, (soon) with the two Sox ones.

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