Observations on the Road to...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The holidays are always a time that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside... or at least, that's what the feelings they're meant to evoke. It's been a long year for me, personally, and I'm feeling particularly festive/jolly/that warm fuzzy feeling. I'll get to that in a year end recap entry a little later. Til then, I'm "off the grid" for a few days (not that that matters that much, I'm sure. When I'm "on the grid" it's not like I've made that many posts the last few months), so have a Merry Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa or whatever brings about your holiday spirit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


No one should be surprised at the influx of good movies that should be seen this winter season, because that's usually how it always is. It's prime restate for Oscar contenders. Why do you think Warner Bros. is re-releasing The Dark Knight in January?

As mentioned in my previous entry, I saw Milk on Saturday, yesterday. I lived in San Francisco for two years, and you don't live in the city and can't get choked up by this film if you know this city, regardless of sexual orientation.

Harvey Milk, and what he helped to accomplish is a huge part of San Francisco history, and the Bay Area at large. With what is going on socially in our country right now, this film is especially poignant.

The whole thing about past being prologue couldn't be any truer now than it ever has. California's Prop. 8 in 2008 is an evolution of what California faced when Milk led the charge against Prop. 6 in 1978.

With the issues that the country is going through, as far as socially, economically, and abroad, it is, personally, a little weird, unnerving, and yet an exciting time that we are living in right now. There's always talk about doing something, about changing things, and about hope. And then there comes the time when it's actually happening in front of you, and you are seeing it with your own two eyes.

Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn are at the top of their game here. Van Sant blends some actual newsreel/stock footage from the 70s' into the narrative. It's not a technique that no one hasn't seen before, but when executed well, the result is nothing but gravy. The last time I saw it done was well was George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck a few years back.

As usual, you can always count on Josh Brolin to be good in roles as the antagonist and/or very-layered arc types, and he does it well here again playing Milk's and Mayor George Moscone's eventual killer, San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.

Penn's performance is very warm, and with a lot of heart, and is unmistakably Harvey Milk, and although Prop. 8 may have passed in November, it really is nothing more than a speed bump. Just look at who was elected President in the same election. As Milk stressed constantly, "you gotta give 'em hope." This bio-pic does what other good bio-pics do, it inspires.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What needs to be seen: A few choice reviews.

I was able to catch preview screenings of Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino and David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The protagonist in both films undergo very fascinating experiences through different means, but the themes in both films are similar in ways as well. I won't tell you what they are, because that'd be telling.

Clint Eastwood's Walt Kowalski and Brad Pitt's Benjamin Button reach certain viewpoints of the world, with the main crux of each film is particularly focused on unlocking the untold and mysterious aspects of both protagonists.

Walt Kowalski is such an engaging character. That despite being as old and old-fashioned as he is, his mind and heart are as strong as ever.

Benjamin Button is the kind of character who lives such an extraordinary life that you have to wonder if a person like this actually exists.

Both films are well written, produced, and directed, but it's leads in Eastwood and Pitt that bring an energy and magnetism to their roles that really pushes their respective films over the top. To that end, both films must be seen.

Tomorrow, I plan on seeing Gus Van Sant's Milk. Which is another film with a primary focus on a very magnetic protagonist, except for the fact that it's based on a real-life person. I've been wanting to see this for the longest time, in anticipation, and I don't think it'll disappoint. I'm sure I'll post a write-up on this in the next couple days.

Also, another recommendation to pass along: Phonogram 2: The Singles Club #1. This bad boy came out last week, but haven't had a chance to plug this. If you love music, dig magic, and think comics are cool, then you really need to read this comic book. By all means, you should pick up the first Phonogram series, but you don't necessarily need it to enjoy what's going on in this second series.