Awake: 7:45 a.m.
Movies: 9:00 a.m.: Time (B); 11:00 a.m.: Exiled (B+); Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (B-); The Prisoner, or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair (C-); 9:00 p.m.: American Hardcore (B)
Food: strawberry yogurt; jumbo hot dog (with mustard, onions, pickled hot peppers and sweet corn relish); small popcorn; stir-fried beef noodles with lots of vegetables; three spring rolls
Drink: half-can apple soda; can of Coke; bottle of water; medium movie theater Coke; bottle of Sapporo; bottle of Stella Artois
Gum: 6 squares Eclipse spearmint
Music: iPod shuffle
Print Media: none
TV: The Daily Show
Conversations: the usual crowd*
Bedtime: 2:30 a.m.
*I ran into Time Out New York critic Josh Rothkopf in the hallway of the Varsity theater around 5:00; and one of the great things about Josh is that he's alternately up for anything and full of plans. When I saw him at 5, he asked what I was going to do next, and when I told him I was going to pop into The Prisoner and then grab some dinner, he impulsively decided to join me for both. Then, when I told Josh that I planned to spend my evening watching The Silence and The Fountain, he "Rothkopfed" me and made me go see American Hardcore with him, and go to the after-party, which had free beer, free spring rolls, and live performances by the reconstituted D.O.A. and Flipper. A blast to be sure, though I had to leave after half an hour–and only one Flipper song–in order to come back to my room and write this blog post. In its own way, that's totally hardcore.
Movie notes: I'm a fan of Kim Ki-duk and had heard great advance word on his latest, Time, so maybe my expectations were a little high going into this morning's screening. It's definitely a good movie, with a sublimely creepy premise, about a woman who has radical plastic surgery because she worries that her boyfriend is getting tired of her. But Time also plays like an excellent 45-minute short film padded out to double its ideal length. The imagery is strong–especially in the scenes set in an astounding sculpture garden–and there are a few fantastic creep-out sequences, but the wheel-spinning is a little disappointing. Then again, Time's best scenes are already haunting me, so I can imagine a time when my memories of the time-wasting stuff fades. That's the way it goes with movies that are brilliant but uneven. Over time, brilliant wins out. … For its first hour, Johnnie To's Exiled is another of his Triad potboilers packed with standoffs in closed-in spaces. Entertaining, but unspectacular. Then, almost out of nowhere, the movie turns into a western. The gang heads for the hills, gets involved in a robbery, and comes back into town for a final showdown in a saloon. To switches around the signifiers–using a baby rattle as a substitute for jingling spurs, for example–but retains the mythological resonance. Again, still not so deep, but masterfully executed. … After getting shut out of Severance–thereby ending the dream of the seven-movie-day–I took an extended rest break then went to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, an experimental sportsdoc that holds on the French soccer legend's face and feet for nearly the full 90 minutes of a single match. At a certain point in a movie like this, you have to accept what the movie is, and appreciate the state it puts you in, even if that state is distracted and sleepy. Still, the concept of Zidane is more limiting than it needs to be, disallowing such useful cinematic inventions as slow-motion, double-exposure and montage. And Zidane himself is kind of an impassive subject to stare at for an hour-and-a-half. When he cracks a smile, it's like an action sequence. … The hour-long documentary The Prisoner, or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair tells the story of one Iraqi who was wrongly imprisoned by the U.S. military for nine months, and his memories of the grueling interrogations. A sad story, to be sure, but the doc's post-modern presentation–which includes wacky sound effects, animated sequences, and on-screen text in comic-book form–works against the narrative, and even the story itself ultimately feels like just a telling anecdote, not any kind of hard indictment. … American Hardcore attempts to cover such a broad subject–the U.S. DIY punk scene from roughly 1980 to 1986–that the movie can't be blamed for skipping lightly over some parts of the history and leaving some out altogether. The doc's still surprisingly comprehensive, and packed with priceless snippets of performance footage by the likes of Black Flag and Bad Brains. It's imperfect, but vital in ways that I'll write more about when the movie opens, in just a couple of weeks.
Awake: 7:45 a.m.