Amoeblog

The Art of the LP Cover- Wicker Men And Women, Pt. 2

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, November 27, 2011 05:40pm | Post a Comment

Check out last year's gallery for more wickery, click here.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Posted by Miss Ess, January 28, 2009 05:52pm | Post a Comment
I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona last night and it was all so very Woody Allen. In a way, it's nice to know that despite setting his movie in a place as far-flung as gorgeous, sun dappled Spain, you can't take the neuroses out of a New Yorker and thus his work.


The movie is about two friends who are opposites when it comes to love, which in this movie equals life. They visit Spain for the summer, one to study art and architecture, one to study, of course, love and life. They quickly meet an artist named Juan Antonio who has a violent ex-wife, Maria Elena. Various entanglements ensue. I do tire sometimes of Woody Allen's female characters and their limitations in so many of his films -- his women are so often both shallow and unknowable, both to other characters and the audience. You can tell a man with a somewhat restricted, maybe even old fashioned knowledge of women's inner lives has written the script. But then, each time this thought enters my head while watching a Woody Allen film, I think of Annie Hall and I know that there is or was something more in him, just not in this particular movie, which for me includes Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Penelope Cruz exhibits enough rage and instability as Maria Elena to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and good for her. She is probably the best, most emotive character in the film, and yet I was still frustrated by the lack of depth to her character.

There are some odd, Woody-esque details that make the film feel almost a tad silly, maybe a bit lovable: The oddly sinister sounding omniscient narrator that chats us through the film; Vicky's square fiance and his perfectly coiffed hair; The ending itself is oh-so-Woody Allen, but I won't give any of it away.

Truthfully, like most of Allen's films for me, the whole thing, as usual, comes off as a slightly creepy, should-I-really-watch-this? old guy's fantasy. Which is probably what it is anyway, right?

That said, the flim did keep me absorbed throughout (it's only about an hour and half long), and brought up some interesting thoughts about class divisions and life choices. And did I mention the scenery? I mean, if Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johanssen, Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall aren't enough for you, there's always the Spanish countryside, which is just as seductive as the characters, if not moreso. The camera lingers and gazes at the scenery with a kind of wonder that matches that of Vicky and Cristina, the tourists.

This picture is not a weighty work, but all things considered it's a rather flippant, light pleasure to watch. And considering it was written and directed by a guy who is the same age as my grandparents and whose creative output continues nonstop, despite his age, I'd call it worth watching. It arrived on DVD&nbs

(I vilket författaren diskuterar hans favoritt direktör.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 14, 2007 08:23am | Post a Comment

Today is Ingmar Bergman’s birthday!

I know – you’re ready to leap from the computer to rush out to buy a piñata and cake.

Or, more likely, you re-read the above sentence a couple times as your brain grappled with confusion over whether or not I wrote Ingrid Bergman. Quite possibly, some of you still think I did.


Actress Ingrid Bergman, star of "Casablanca" and the Bergman film "Autumn Sonata";
no relation to the director and much better looking in a dress.

I’m not being (intentionally) condescending; it’s just that that’s what seems to happen every time I gush about my most favorite film director.

Fellini, Buñuel, Pasolini, Hitchcock, Godard, Woody Allen… There are many film directors that cause me to go weak in the superego, but none of them so deeply penetrate my soul and slop it on the screen like ol’ Ingmar.

Furthermore, many of his films star his ex-wife and one of my favorite actresses, Liv Ullman.


Liv Ullman looking ravishing as she has a nervous breakdown in "Persona"

I’m the first to admit that his films aren’t for everyone. They’re an intimidating option when considering an evening’s entertainment. When faced with “what to do”, who in their right mind would subject themselves to a somber, cryptic and psychologically penetrating film in which handsome Swedes come to grips with their innermost core-of-self amidst Midnight Sun landscapes?

Me. I would subject myself. Sadly, I’m often alone for the ride. It’s hard to convince your date that a five hour epic like “Scenes From a Marriage” – in which you see a happy couple crumble toward divorce in episodes that make “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” seem like “Oliver & Company” – is good material for snuggling.


"Oh darling, I can hardly wait until your treachery leads me to contemplate suicide!"
Liv Ullman & Erland Jospehson in "Scenes From a Marriage"
My father was a proud Swede. Actually, most Swedes are proud Swedes. Listening to him speak about Swedish culture, you’d think the Garden of Eden still existed, and it’s capital was Stockholm. He took me there when I was a teenager for a disastrous trip that was meant to bring us closer together but instead ended up in me pretending to have the flu and hiding in my hotel room to watch Euro-Mtv while he went out in search of museums and got lost.

Even so, his expressions of admiration for Sweden had an impact on me; not in that I was hypnotized with amour for the country itself, rather, it became a reminder of everything that was my father. He was a typical Swede, so Swedes remind me of him. (He passed away in 2000.)

Oh… I suppose I should have mentioned that Ingmar Bergman is Swedish. Those of you who didn’t know were probably wondering what the hell was going on as I leapt from subject to subject without any semblance of continuity. Sorry!

Anyway, milkshakes are a delicious, cool, dessert beverage that are wonderful to attract ants with on a hot summer’s day.


I cite my relationship with my father because it accounts for some of the profound emotional impact that Bergman’s work has on me. Those of you who didn’t have stoic, Swedish dads who were raised by Victorian women (and many of you don’t, it seems) may not buckle in the face of Bergman’s work like I do. The final scene of “Through a Glass Darkly” ends with the son exclaiming in astonishment that his father “spoke” to him (meaning honestly) and it makes me cry every time.

Even so, you may find yourself deeply pondering the nature of your heart and mind after watching one of his movies. Bergman himself stated (in a 2004 interview) that he can no longer watch his own films because they "depress him". Ouch.

Many, many filmmakers cite Bergman as an influence, and any film student will/has been presented with his work.

There are dozens of hilarious spoofs of his films: Chevy Chase and Louise Lasser do a sketch in the first season of Saturday Night Live about tricking Death into leaving them alone by sending him away to pick up a pizza; SCTV has a great scene in which listless women babble in fake Swedish while accosted by midgets; the character of Death in "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" is a take-off of the Death character in “The Seventh Seal” and Woody Allen’s fantastic film “A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy” is rife with silly nods to the director.


"I would love to have children!" Happier times between Woody & Mia

Woody Allen very directly (no pun intended) went through a period wherein which he made films so obviously influenced by Ingmar that they are referred to as his “Bergman period”. They also account for the period in which fans of Woody’s comic pieces were frustrated and annoyed by him. Of these works, “Interiors” is the most obvious “Bergman film”.


Separated at birth: Scenes from Ingmar's "Autumn Sonata" & Woody's "Another Woman"

Are you still reading this? It’s not one of my funnier blogs. I get really worked up by Bergman.

If you’ve never seen any of his works, I recommend starting with “The Seventh Seal”. It’s his most famous, and it’s a good gauge to determine whether or not to continue with others. If you see it and like it, continue on with “Persona” (a personal favorite). If you hated it, try “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” because it is funny and has nothing to do with Bergman. At all.

And let me know what you think. I’m always curious to hear people’s opinions about his films.

Grattis på födelsedagen, Ingmar!

(In which the author celebrates our Nation's independence.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 7, 2007 10:53am | Post a Comment

The Boston Tea Party. (What - no Massachusetts-sized scone?)

It was the Fourth of July, which I recently learned is some kind of holiday? I dunno. Something about a “united” something-or-other; I guess it’s about, like, this one country where they killed a bunch of British people by making tea in the actual sea (I’ve tried this myself and let me tell you, there is no amount of cream or honey that will overcome the fishy flavor) and gave out blankets to native tribes… or am I confusing that with the day we celebrate our ancestors surviving a hard winter by eating Stove Top stuffing and hiding eggs under kids’ pillows for money?

Whatever. In any case, my boyfriend Corey, our friend Lisa, and good ol’ Logan of Amoeba Music fame, decided to mark the occasion by seeing “Transformers” at the Cinerama Dome (right across the street from Amoeba).


For those of you lucky enough to not live in Los Angeles, you are so unlucky that you don’t get to watch movies at this theatre. I am totally spoiled, and happily pay the outrageous fee for the experience. Reserved seating, witty/snide employees, no commercials before the previews, and none of those (insert whatever cuss word you think has the biggest punch here) SLIDES that propose stupid questions like:

“Which action film did Bruce Willis star in as a New York cop named John McClane?”

a.) Agnes of God
b.) The Little Mermaid
c.) The Little Mermaid, Part 2
d.) Die Hard


Really – if someone is dumb enough to find this trivia challenging, they probably can’t read to begin with, so they’re wasting everyone’s time!

I mean, (and I’m digressing into one of those ‘when I was a kid’ moments right now – best to just skip ahead) I remember entering a darkened movie theatre and just… reveling in the hush; the stillness of it. It was like entering a church. And then there was the excitement of hearing that first “crackle” that let you know your film was about to begin. That was terrific!

Nowadays you’re constantly faced with commercials and fake radio stations that play whatever Top 40 crap the major corporations are trying to convince you is worth the insulting price they’re charging for their tired product.

“Clap your hands if you prefer Diet Coke to regular Coke!”

What?!

I already spent half my paycheck on a medium popcorn! Leave me alone!!!

(Author takes a moment to catch breath and remember what the point of this blog was… …is.)

Oh yeah… “Transformers”.

I had a real good time. I thought it was entertaining. I also thought it was… a minstrel show. That is, every person of color was outrageous and comical and met the “entertaining” stereotypes of today, whereas every person in the film that saved the day or fell in love was not only beautiful, but beautiful and white.


"G-G-G-Golly! That choo-choo just transformed into a r-r-r-robot!"
(One of many scenes from "Transformers")

But I didn’t turn to this film for cultural enlightenment, so I’m not particularly outraged. Movies like these are, after all, less about the political agenda of the studios and more a reflection of target markets – so we only have ourselves to blame for what we see.

The final half hour is bewildering, and I think most people will leave the theatres feeling as though the Decepticons weren’t the only things to be obliterated – the flimsy plot was, too. Again, not that I expected Dostoyevsky (from what I hear, he was a GoBots man) but the moviemakers perhaps gambled that we, the Audience, would be so hypnotized by the action that we wouldn’t notice gaping plot-holes. Well, we all noticed, but in the end, didn’t care.

This climax, a super-violent war between cars and aircrafts in which old landmarks are demolished and crowds of people rush around in terror and confusion, takes place in downtown LA, so admittedly, it took a while before I realized it was supposed to be significant, rather than just a panorama of a normal day in the Garment District. Those of you who don't live here won't have this problem and should be sufficiently thrilled.

The film smartly turned to some deft dialogue, mostly featured in the first third of the film, centered on the lead actor’s family. It was like they hired Woody Allen as a script consultant for that segment. But don’t worry, mallrats, the overwhelming bulk of dialogue was your standard fare of Hollywood clichés and shallow, moral posturing.


"I know we're on the edge of complete annihilation but could I, like, see your boob?"

Corey, who went in with high expectations, left furious; I, who hoped only to feel him up at some point during the film, left surprisingly satisfied by the spectacle.

As far as action goes, this film doesn’t come close to matching the original, animated “Transformers, the Movie”, which is very simply one of the most hyper, battle-heavy films ever made. The fact that my generation survived it while sucking on Pop Rocks and discovering Jolt Cola is testament to… uh…

…Something, I suppose.


The Original. (Check out Optimus Prime's package! Whoa!)

I remember, when the first film came out, the schoolyard was buzzing with rumors that it contained the word “Shit!” Never had my class been so excited about grammar.

If you’re gonna see the new “Transformers”, see it on the biggest screen you can find, with the most friends you can gather, and with the lowest expectations you can muster. You’re bound to at least chuckle while you roll your eyes.

And if you’re like Lisa, Logan and I, you will drive home slightly paranoid that the car you’re driving may, at any moment, reconfigure itself into a giant, sarcastic robot.