Do or Do Not.

Archive for May, 2009

Button Pushing

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I’ve always had a phenomenal amount of respect for dancers.  The dedication and work that must go into being able to move like that (where “like that” equates to just about any form of dancing) just blows my mind — both the “moving like that” part and the “working that hard at one thing” part.  I have absolutely no conception of what it must be like to have that much control over one’s body, to move with that kind of fluid grace and precision and easy motion; I’m 6’2″, but my brain never seems to have gotten used to my size, so half the time I tend to flail around like a one-winged chicken — even when I’m just walking, or worse, standing still.

And all of that talk about respect and admiration doesn’t even get into the fact that dancers are just damn hot and push several of my buttons. 

So on the advice of a friend, the family and I watched the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance?, which is exactly American Idol for dancers.  The main reason we watched was because I wanted the girls to see it, as said recommending friend told me it really promoted positvity, hard work and teamwork, all qualities I try to instill in the kids — and they also really enjoy dancing and dancers.  Watching Kelsey dance her way through Mary Poppins every time they watch it is a site to behold.  (And it is here that I should note that we did not mean her middle name, Grace, to be quite as ironic as it has become.)

These first few shows of the season, as on Idol, are the audition rounds, where the judges go to a bunch of different cities and weed through all of the wannabes to find those dancers with actual potential to go far in the competition.  So, of course, there were a few laughers in there (though not as many as you tend to get on Idol).  But most of the dancers whose auditions they showed on the program — even the ones who didn’t make it through to the next round — were amazing.  I’ll admit I have far, far from a trained eye for this sort of thing, but wow was I impressed with most of the auditions.  And some were phenomenal enough even to blow away the judges — many of these people were clearly born to dance, people whose talents and passions lined up perfectly to allow them to create moments of pure beauty.

That, my friends, is sexy.  And inspiring, and wonderful, and beautiful.  Seeing someone do something — anything — that so truly seems to come from deep inside them, something that means so much to their very essences as a person, something they’ve obviously worked at so hard and for so long, something that they just couldn’t not dothat pushes my buttons.  It doesn’t matter what that thing is, as long as it comes from a place of love and skill and passion and determination and talent and creativity.

Wrapping it in spandex is just a bonus.

(This is my 400th post on this blog across several sites and names.  I have no idea how 400 posts happened…I keep going through the archives and finding posts I have no memory of writing.  Anyway, happy fourth birthday/400th post, blog!)

Written by Allen

May 25th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Undecided Basterd

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I have a quandary to work through and just under three months to do so.  Well, truthfully, I have more time than that, but the jist is this:  Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds comes out on August 21, and I have to decide if I want to go see it or not.

I’m a little surprised that I find myself in this predicament; I’ve seen every one of Tarantino’s films (with the recent exception of Death Proof) and I’ve enjoyed all of them.  Even Jackie Brown.  I’m in awe of his ear for dialogue, the performances he’s able to get out of his actors and his ability to synthesize wildly disparate elements from his wide range of influences into something uniquely his own.  Reservoir Dogs?  Excellent.  Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2?  Loved ‘em both.  Pulp Fiction?  Brilliant.

But all of the early marketing I’ve seen for Inglourious Basterds, in which a small troop of Jewish-American soliders in World War II try to strike fear into the Germans brutally killing Nazis, implies a very high level of violence — even high by Tarantino’s standards.  The posters, while graphically very striking, are also more than a bit disturbing:  various implements of brutality shown in heavily desaturated colors…except for the dark red of the blood splattered on everything.  The trailer certainly plays up the ultra-violence angle as well.

I should note that I don’t have the tolerance for extraordinary violence in movies that I used to.  I’ll usually be fine with a certain level of stylized violence in my movies, as long as the bloodletting isn’t the entire point:  I could handle the almost cartoony level of limb-chopping and blood-spurting in Kill Bill, for instance, but I have absolutely zero desire to ever sit through any of the recent “torture porn”-style horror flicks.  One of my best friends when I was a teenager was a diehard devoteé of Fangoria magazine and made me sit through countless gore-filled horror flicks, and I just never was able to gain any real kind of appreciation for them.  And I seem to be becoming even less appreciative of excessive amounts of blood in movies as I approach forty.

Now, though, I’ve started reading early reviews of Inglourious Basterds after its debut at the Cannes Film Festival that indicate that it’s…well, that it’s far more talky than reviewers had expected.  Early buzz is that it’s dialogue- and actor-driven with a fairly limited amount of action.  Dialogue- and actor-drive Tarantino?  That I very much can get behind — but I’m still not sure about the amount and kinds of brutality implied by the film’s marketing.  I realize that hyping the violence angle is far, far more likely to draw in viewers than hyping the quality of the dialogue — especially of the demographic most likely to want to see a Tarantino movie.  But as someone who feels like I should have this movie marketed to me, I’m more than a little turned off by all of the blood.  And isn’t misrepresenting the movie, if it is indeed as talky and less action-y as it now sounds, an awfully dangerous (if time-honored) marketing strategy?

Do any of you have any thoughts here?  Anyone have any sort of early opinion one way or the other?

Written by Allen

May 23rd, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Trailer: Sherlock Holmes

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And now, presenting the trailer for one of my most heavily-anticipated movies of this winter:  Sherlock Holmes.  Starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson, and Rachel McAdams as…er, some scantily-clad woman.  And directed by Guy Ritchie, who’s way overdue for making a good movie again.  Cannot wait for this one.  Enjoy!

ETA: So apparently, I’m about the only person actively looking forward to this one.  I’ll admit that I could be overly optimistic; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time and likely not the last.  But it’s Robert Downey Jr., whom I love, and Guy Ritchie, who I have been known to love on occassion.  It looks like fun.  No, it’s not going to have much at all to do with the Doyle novels past the basic premise and characters, but they’re not pretending it does.  Well, I’ll go see it and let all of you Doubting Watsons if you should bother or not, how’s that?  :)

Written by Allen

May 22nd, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Conversations with Kelsey (Part n of a Series)

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Kelsey, Age 7:  I really want all of my dreams to come true.

Me:  Well, they can.  You have to work hard for them.  No one’s going to just give you your dreams, but if you work hard, you can do anything you want.

Kelsey:  I’m working really, really hard for a baby pony.

Written by Allen

May 21st, 2009 at 10:00 am

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100-Word Review: Tori Amos’ Abnormally Addicted to Sin

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If Little Earthquakes was a towering first-inning leadoff home run, Tori Amos‘ last few albums have all been solid stand-up doubles.  The Beekeeper was a Pete Rose-style sliding-headfirst triple.  Abormally Addicted to Sin, though, is a weak hit into the shallow outfield followed by an errant throw to first, so that the runner manages to reach second anyway.  (Okay, that metaphor is now officially abused.)  It’s certainly not bad, but it’s far from her best work:  I’ve listened to it four times and still haven’t found a single song which grabs me enough even to note its name.

Grade: B

Written by Allen

May 20th, 2009 at 10:19 pm