Matt Brundage

Archive for the 'movies' category

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Snobbery

I’m becoming more and more of a snob every day. (Well, at least according to Annie.) I’d rather call it “discriminating taste” — or in its simplest form, just a preference for one thing over another.

  • I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated oils (margarine), other “unnatural” fats, and needlessly processed food products with unpronounceable ingredients. Instead, I purchase “real”, “natural”, or “organic” whenever possible. I don’t mind paying a bit more for quality. For that, I am a food snob.
  • I won’t drink Merlot, Rosé (White Zinfandel), or wine that has been “embellished”. For that, I am a wine snob.
  • I am through with North American lagers. Instead, my gaze is fixed upon Ireland (Guinness) and Belgium (Chimay). For that, I am a beer snob.
  • I consume an enormous quantity of music, much of it esoteric. I typically get blank stares or polite nods when I try to describe my tastes to people. I value my vinyl records just as much as my CDs. I’m not the kind of music snob who categorizes his collection as classical, jazz, and “other”, but I am a snob nonetheless.
  • While my video collection is comparatively more mainstream than my music collection, certain “guidelines” still apply: Since the beginning of 2008, I have completely stopped purchasing DVDs and have moved on (without any hiccups) to Blu-ray. I’ve even been replacing my old DVDs with their Blu-ray versions. I will never stretch or crop the picture. I prefer to watch a film in its original, theatrical aspect ratio, whether that be 1.33:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1, or any other variation. I cannot be happier that “Full-screen” DVDs are finally being phased out. I am frustrated with people who just don’t get it, especially those with capable widescreen televisions. For that, I am a film and video snob. In this regard, the label of snob may be warranted.
  • My requirements for church are becoming more and more specialized. While I’ve always been Catholic, my adherence to the “weekly requirement” hasn’t always been strict. And by that, I mean that, a few times a year, I would attend a non-Catholic church service and count that as my “weekly”. Never again. It’s even gotten to the point where I’m hesitant to attend a Novus Ordo Mass — especially if it’s in the vernacular; I need to hear the old Mass in Latin. For that, I am a church snob.
  • I’m a stickler for proper grammar usage — a great deal of my Wikipedia edits involve grammar corrections or diction in some form or another. I’ve corrected people in everyday conversation: I remember telling someone once that they had “split the infinitive.” Lately, I’ve been surprised at the frequency at which people use the word “less” when they really mean “fewer.” It boggles the mind. I have strong preferences toward the increased usage of both the serial comma and the subjunctive mood. For that, I am a grammar snob.

In addition, Annie says that I’m a snob in the following categories: cars, clothes, computers, paper shredders, razors, lamps, light bulbs, and books. That’s right. I’m officially a paper-shredder snob.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Whom to root for

The film Casablanca got me thinking about the way many of us “choose sides” when we watch a film with war themes. What vexes me is that one can’t always pull for a certain country — no country provides an assurance of consistency. Even the United States is not exempt from this rule, as Clint Eastwood’s complementary films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima let on.

In general, yes, one can pull for the United States — unless they’re depicted torching huts deep in the jungles of Vietnam. Pull for England/the United Kingdom, except when they’re at war with America (The Patriot) or with Scottish clans (Braveheart). France is tricky: pull for them during the French and Indian War (The Last of the Mohicans), other colonial conquests, the American Revolution, but then not during the Napoleonic wars (War and Peace, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). With few exceptions (the Franco-Prussian War and the Algerian War come to mind), pull for them from the middle of the 19th century onward.

Pull for Germany during the Austro-Prussian War, but not during World War I (All Quiet on the Western Front) or World War II (Saving Private Ryan). It is also permissible to root for “good” Germans (a la The Pianist and Casablanca) but only if the films make it clear that most Germans are bad. Pull for Austria, but only in the months immediately preceding the Anschluss and the subsequent occupation (The Sound of Music). Pull for Russia/USSR during the Napoleonic wars and World War II, but not during the Cold War or the Invasion of Afghanistan…

Friday, 11 January 2008

Blu-ray on top

I couldn’t be happier that Warner studios decided last week to release it’s high-definition discs exclusively in the blu-ray format beginning in June. While blu-ray had been slowly gaining an edge in the format war between rival HD DVD, the Warner decision will no doubt speed up HD DVD’s demise. There are talks that Universal and Paramount studios — the only two studios not currently pledged to blu-ray — may soon break ranks and support blu. That would definitely be the last nail in the fat lady’s coffin, so to speak.

All this good news couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Just two days before Warner’s announcement, I went hog-wild at an Amazon buy-one-get-one-free sale, ultimately purchasing 19 discs in a stunning display of consumer gluttony. I have a feeling that I’ll be upgrading most of my current DVD collection this year.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Curious George is not actually a monkey

No, you heard that right. Despite being referred to as one in the original books, multiple television shows, and the recent feature film, Curious George is not actually a monkey, but is more likely a stylized chimpanzee. A chimp is technically not a monkey but an ape. While the great majority of monkeys are tailless have tails, the macaque is a notable exception. George looks nothing like a macaque; the chances that his likeness was adapted from an actual monkey are slim. Curious George is not a monkey.

Saturday, 29 April 2006

Lohan winking

Lohan winking Lohan winking Lohan winking Lohan winking Is there something about the sight of Lindsay Lohan with one closed eye that movie execs find particularly attractive? Apparently so, for three of her past four feature films contain pervasive promotional material that features her winking gratuitously to the camera, breaking the fourth wall in the process. Consider these images from Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and her newest film, Just My Luck.

As far as I can tell, Fox has even factored Lohan’s winking into the plot of Just My Luck, as the tagline “Everything changed in the wink of an eye.” appears on the official movie poster. I have a feeling this is going to get worse before it gets better.

Saturday, 22 April 2006

Just Say Yes to Paste

I recently subscribed to Paste Magazine after having received three complimentary issues. I was hooked. Paste doesn’t patronize or appeal to the lowest common denominator. Women are not portrayed as merely objects. Artists are judged according to merit and talent — not good looks or connections. All bi-monthly issues come with either a free CD, DVD, or both. And these aren’t your average “sampler” discs. The CDs are packed with over twenty full songs, and the DVDs have over two hours of full music videos, short films, previews, et cetera. At $3.75 an issue, it’s a steal. And Paste manages to do all of this without selling out or being pretentious.

When I subscribed, I noticed that there was a gap in my issues — for some reason I hadn’t received Issue 20. I contacted Paste and asked them as much; they said I had probably subscribed a bit too late to receive Issue 20. Nevertheless, they sent me my missing issue, no questions asked. I was very impressed with their service, to say the least. As readership in Paste increases, I’m hoping that the magazine dubbed the “anti-Rolling Stone” will not succumb to pressures to evolve into what it originally set out to distinguish itself from. Please no.

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Thank You for Smoking

Forrestal building Annie threw another “girl’s night in” party, so I got the chance to catch a late-night showing of Thank You for Smoking. The film was quirky and thought-provoking, et cetera, but what I relished most about it was its on-location filming in DC. A fictitious research and lobbying group, the Academy of Tobacco Studies, is set in a building that is, in real life, the Department of Energy (my day job!). The DOE site in DC is a massive group of structures that houses thousands of federal and contractor employees. I think it was the movie’s intent to imply that the entire building belonged to the “Academy of Tobacco Studies” — in reality such agencies could make do with — perhaps — 1/100th of the floor space of the Forrestal building complex. (more production notes)

Some of the bar scenes looked like they could have been filmed at the Caucus Room, but the end credits mentioned the Hyatt Regency as a location. I don’t know for sure… A particular scene in the offices of The Washington Probe featured a row of cubicles with nameplates on each. The first nameplate I saw happened to be my mother’s first name and maiden name. Far out.

Friday, 3 March 2006

Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto Trailer Easter Egg

Mel Gibson hamming it up File this one in the that’s gotta be intentional department: check out the new HD trailer for the upcoming Mel Gibson film Apocalypto. At approximately 1:46 into the clip, this frame appears for a fraction of a second. Going over the sequence a second and third time, I could barely make out the image when viewed in real time: Mel in a wife-beater and unbuttoned plaid workshirt, a Camel hanging from his smiling mouth, full beard and head of hair. Totally insane.

Apparently, I’m a bit late on this scoop, but better late than never.

Thursday, 2 February 2006

Pumping irony

I joined a gym with Annie a few weeks ago with the hopes of losing a bit of weight. But I’ve seen my weight creep up lately and I can’t explain why. 193 · 196 · 200 · 202… What’s going on? Could it possibly be that I’m gaining muscle mass without losing fat? I heard that Brad Pitt actually gained 20lbs while preparing for his role in Troy, and Hilary Swank gained 19lbs while training for her role in Million Dollar Baby — so even if I do make it to 210lbs, I can still rationalize it.

The gym is a sad place — at least the one I frequent. My county has a series of rec centers with weight lifting and other gym equipment. The gyms aren’t well known, and aren’t used by many. I’m in virtual seclusion half the time, and thus I’m missing one element of working out — competition. I’m one to believe that collective participation definitely raises intensity levels. When I go home, I pass a well-lit Bally Total Fitness and can see scores of people running like hamsters on their treadmills. They’re probably trying a bit harder than I am, if only because they’re concerned that they’re not going as fast as the people beside them.