Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sell Out of the Day: Gwen Stefani

I am not one who uses the term sell-out very liberally. I think anyone who believes that pursuing money for one's art makes that artist less devoted to his art is either independently wealthy or pretentiously misguided. While I do not believe in overly compromising ones art work and I never believe in compromising ones beliefs, I do believe that, as in relationships, one must often give a little and take a little in regards to making their art "presentable" to others. And besides...who isn't a sell out? What greater joy can there be than to make a living doing what one loves best? And who am I to judge if someone's style changes as they get older? I certainly don't dress the same way that I did when I was 16. I don't like to think that I've sold out my fashion taste...but I do believe that my style of dress has changed with my age and with the times.

This brings me to Gwen Stefani. When Rock Steady came out, I was one of the few of my friends who didn't hang her head in despair. I thought it was a fun record. I like dance music, so why isn't a band I like also allowed to like it and even *gasp* make it?! Even if it was not their usual style? (Don't you like to play dress up sometimes?) And even when Gwen's solo album came out, I just shrugged my shoulders. I didn't like it so much, but she was having fun. I just prayed that she didn't get caught up in the glamor and money that comes with going solo, killing No Doubt (just as Justin Timberlake killed 'N Sync and Beyonce killed Destiny's Child...hahahaha).

No, no. I lost all hope when flipping through November's Vanity Fair. The ad caught my eye before I even realized what it was for. Now, I would like to believe that the ad is supposed to be ironic, poking fun at the double-entendres, sex-sells copy prevalent in most advertisement. But...it just seems too sincere in its efforts to be playfully sexy. But it's not sexy!! It's just sad!!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Favorite Link(s) of the Day

From Jezebel:

From Vanity Fair:

  • A Death in the Family
    Having volunteered for Iraq, Mark Daily was killed in January by an I.E.D. Dismayed to learn that his pro-war articles helped persuade Daily to enlist, the author measures his words against a family's grief and a young man's sacrifice.

From CNN:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Movie Review: 30 Days of Night

Director: David Slade
Screenwriter(a): Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, Brian Nelson

I'm not much of a fan of gore porn and unfortunately, most of the "horror" films that have come out in the past decade have fallen into this rather unfortunate category. Blood, guts, and over-drawn scenes of torture have replaced tension, suspense, and subtlety in the quest to frighten and entertain movie goers.

I regret to inform you that the film, 30 Days of Night, based on Steve Niles' graphic novel of the same title, finds itself at times skimming into this realm of blood and guts. I am happy to inform you, however, that other elements of the film completely redeem it and make you forgive its graphic displays of violence.

The movie tells the story of a group of vampires who travel to Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the United States. For one month out of each year, the sun does not rise in this part of the world. A perfect place to take a vacation if you're allergic to sunlight, no? Josh Hartnett and Michelle George star as the hero's of this tale, which also stars Ben Foster, Danny Huston, and Mark Boone, Jr.

A large part of the film's success is due to the superb acting. Josh Hartnett is rightfully notorious for being rather bland and devoid of personality on screen. But his mellow energy is perfect for this role, belying a sense of calm and reason, giving a necessary strength to this common police officer cum hero. Michelle George is exquisite. Despite her pretty face, one never doubtsfor a moment that she isa tough woman, used to, and capable of, surviving the bitter colds and lonelinesses of the northernmost reaches of Alaska. Ben Foster, who I've loved since his days on Flash Forward, is mostly annoying with his overly contrived and unconvincing "accent." His performance is solid, but disappointingly overshadowed by the manner in which he chooses to speak.

The true acting prizes belong to the movie's antagonists: the vampires who invade this dark town. Their bizarre make-up could be laughable in the wrong contexts. However, these vampires, at times taking their cues from the recent influx of mainstream zombie films like 28 Days Later, speak little, but say much. Their movements and mannerisms are often comical, silly, causing them to resemble the dark clowns that haunt many a child's nightmares. But don't get me wrong: these are not to be confused with the clowns of Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The actors (and actresses) manage to frighten merely by cocking their heads to the side and opening their fang-filled maws. The laughter rising past your lips is a nervous, frightened laughter.

All of the displays of extreme violence in the film seems to be done as a service to its target audience, its assumed fan base: readers of the 30 Days of Night comics, horror fans, cynical young people with no interest in the Anne Rice take on the vampire myths. However, that is not the film's only trick. It is also full of tension and suspense, as the few remaining humans hide and plot and plan in efforts to survive.

Unfortunately, the suspense was not created to its full potential. Without the day stamps that occasionally appear in the bottom of the screen and without monitoring Josh Hartnett's unsightly facial hair, it is often difficult to tell accurately guage the passage of time. This could be a good tool to show the mental turmoil of our protagonists, but the pacing just does not work. As in the American version of Insomnia, a movie also set in Alaska but during the time set when the sun does not set, 30 Days of Night doesn't quite make the best use of the phenomenon which has the ability to wreak havoc on a person's ability to tell time and tear apart the fabric of one's sanity. The film just feels poorly paced. There are often times, such as when Hartnett and George see their enemies for the first time, when the moment would have been much more poignant if it had been put off, extended, for just a little longer, if the filmmakers would have been comfortable giving the audience just a few more seconds of nothingness.

Overall, the movie is frightening and exciting and invigorating. The changes made from the graphic novel were all quite wise, creating a film that is even more intriguing than its source materials.