The horror … the horror. Lo and behold, famed director and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola has laid an egg: he calls it Tetro. Carrying the tagline “Every family has a secret,” Tetro is Coppola’s second “amateur-again” film after Youth Without Youth. Tetro is Coppola giving himself second chance, his personal spurning of Hollywood and its fakeness, unoriginality … one could give Hollywood a bad name a thousand times over. At age 70, Coppola has left living room legends Apocalypse Now and The Godfather trilogy behind him, and has purposely regressed his budget with the intention of rediscovering what it is that made him apply to L.A. film school.
This summer marked the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, considered a pinnacle event in American popular culture and the latter half of the 20th century. The festival was billed as three days of peace and music, and featured numerous musical groups from Jefferson Airplane and The Who to Jimi Hendrix, CCR and Sly and the Family Stone, all of whom — amidst rain and upstate New York’s humid summer weather — played to 500,000 people on a 600 acre field. No concert like it had ever been attempted, and the name Woodstock to this day is synonymous with the 1960s, hippies and the Flower Generation, as well as a lofty bar for live music events and culture-changing phenomena involving massive numbers of young people.
If there were any film to show how to get over someone, (500) Days of Summer would be it. It’s uplifting, it proves that nothing is meaningless and that, despite the fact that not everything works out for the best, end all is resolved in the end. (500) Days of Summer is not a typical romance; it is the tale of a young man, Tom (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who must get over someone who he has no desire to get over. In turn, by getting over her, he learns more about himself and, within 500 days, somehow seems to have a completely new perspective on life and his own destiny.
It’s not hard to poke fun at Quentin Tarantino’s distinctive writing style: Choose an obscure pop culture reference, have two odd characters argue about it over coffee, have one provide a radically new interpretation of the reference and throw in as much profanity, sexual slang and the n-word as possible (maybe have one of them comment on the quality of the coffee.) When writing by a particular auteur gets so predictable, it is either a welcome expectation by longtime fans or a glaring revelation that an artist has run out of steam and is fumbling at the frayed bottom of his bag of tricks.
Any film whose title is in the form of an amorous solicitation must meet certain criteria. First, it should concern the awkward physical beginnings of love: the glances, the touches, the timid approaches. Second, it must address lovers’ preliminary insecurities, the kind that lead such questions to be voiced in the first place. And, finally, and perhaps most importantly, the film must showcase the best that the art form — that is, the kiss — has to offer.
“The unExamined Life is not worth living.” Such is the quote from Plato that opens Examined Life, directed by Astra Taylor. So where’s the “the”? The documentary’s title describes an unspecified substance, a sort of universal life-stuff. But it is the connotation implied by the quote, and left out of the title, that makes the movie itself worth watching. Examined Life makes charmingly clear the differentiated specificity, the very the-ness of life. In her most substantial line, Taylor says, “I’m thinking about the challenge of making a film about philosophy.” What she gets is a film about philosophers — a less grandiose entity, but no less intriguing.
Things I learned from watching Dragonball: Evolution in the theater:
1. Super Mario Bros. inspired at least one director (James Wong) to attempt to make movies for a living.
2. Chow-Yun Fat (Bulletproof Monk, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) is now tied with Nicholas Cage for number of movies made where he’s willing to do ANYTHING for a paycheck.
3. If you have one wish (to be granted by a flying talking dragon, no less), don’t bring back your beloved dead relative that raised you from childhood, but a perverted useless karate teacher played by Chow-Yun Fat doing a terrible impression of Jerry Lewis.
4. Emmy Rossum is really hot.
5. Emmy Rossum can’t pull off being a badass action hero any better than Kristin Kreuk.
Last week, Cornell University commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover, a historic event that has greatly influenced the nature of student activism on the Cornell campus. Besides the numerous articles published by The Sun, the Schwartz Center sponsored a screening of Straight ’69, a student film by Catherine Galasso ’05 that was made in her final year at Cornell. The screening also included a talk by Ed Zuckerman ’70, the managing editor of the Sun at the time of the takeover.
Has there been a screen icon in the past 20 years who can convey a mix of sophistication, eccentricity and penetrating intelligence quite like John Malkovich? During his career, he’s played evertyhing from psychos (In the Line of Fire, Con Air) to heroes (The Man in the Iron Mask) to god-kings (Eragon, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) to odds and ends (Of Mice and Men, Burn After Reading, Disgrace). In fact, he’s the only actor to come to mind who is so delightfully willing to parody himself that he participated in a genre-bending comedy about space-time where people traveled down an office corridor through his body into a ditch by the Jersey Turnpike (Being John Malkovich). Yet, somehow, he’s always playing himself.