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Archive for August, 2007

Death Sentence: Kevin Bacon seeks revenge on a group of street thugs with the power of….dance! No, he actually brutally kills them or something I think, but wouldn’t it be better if he got the message across by moving his feet and gyrating his hips to the sounds of Kenny Loggins? From James Wan, the director of Saw, comes this update on vengeance movies like Death Wish. Next Kevin Bacon should go after the assholes who plan to remake Footloose with Zac Efron. This is playing at the United Artists on Court Street.

Halloween: While I normally get pissed about remakes of horror movies, this one involves Rob Zombie. As a fan of House of 1000 Corpses and the sequel Devil’s Rejects, I’m looking forward to this update of the John Carpenter slasher classic. Starring every fun C-list actor from Danny Trejo to Clint Howard, this movie promises to be more fun than any of the Halloween sequels (especially Season of the Witch, which didn’t even have a Michael Myers character). This is playing at United Artists on Court Street and the Park Slope Pavilion.

Balls of Fury: I’m guessing that there is a handbook floating around Hollywood on how to make a conventional, successful and unfunny comedy. Judging by the trailer for Balls of Fury, the creators must have read it cover to cover. It includes such obvious points as:

  • Take an unusual sport and use it to spoof sports comedies.
  • Make a lot of jokes about race and homosexuality.
  • Have your protagonist be a tacky slob who still lives in the past (it’s better to laugh at characters than with them, apparently).
  • Get Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant (who also wrote The Pacifier, Night at the Museum and Herbie: Fully Loaded) to forget the wonderful comedy they used to be a part of in exchange for writing broad, cliched humor.
  • Host a competition to determine the dumbest thing you can write that will sound funny coming out of Christopher Walken’s mouth purely because he is Christopher Walken.
  • Employ George Lopez.
  • Dick jokes. Looootts of dick jokes.

This is playing at the Park Slope Pavilion and the United Artists on Court Street.

The Nines: I saw the trailer for this recently, and didn’t really get what I was watching. The film is getting a lot of hype because it is the feature length directorial debut of screenwriter John August. He’s written some good movies (Go, Corpse Bride) and some bad ones (Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). The film is divided into three stories and stars Ryan Reynolds and Hope Davis. It’s probably best to wait for reviews before gambling on this one. It’s playing at the Landmark Sunshine.

Ladron que Roba a Ladron: This Spanish film tells the story of two thieves who try to rob an infomercial guru. While I don’t know a whole lot about it, I’ve watched the trailer and it looks like a fun heist movie. It’s also being released by Lion’s Gate in the United States, who have a great reputation for releasing interesting movies that most studios won’t touch. The trailer is here. This is playing at Cobble Hill Cinemas, the United Artists on Court Street and CC Village East Cinemas.

Self-Medicated: While this movie looks depressing as hell, it has also won awards at twenty five (!) different film festivals since 2005. The film deals with a seventeen year old kid who becomes addicted to various drugs and acts out when sentenced to a correctional facility by his also-addicted mother. The cast consists of mostly unknowns, including Monty Lapica who plays the main character (he also wrote and directed). This is my pick of the week. It’s playing at Quad Cinemas.

Exiled: I’ve never seen a Johnny To movie, but he’s been called “the Jerry Bruckheimer of Hong Kong.” While I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a really bad one, I also know people that swear by him. The film chronicles the lives of several hitmen living in 1998 Macau. It’s playing at Angelika.

Aside from that, Tom DiCillo’s new movie Delirious is playing at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, The Princess Bride has been rescheduled to tonight at Brooklyn Bridge Park (thanks, Greg) and John Turturro has announced that he will release Romance & Cigarettes out of his own pocket at Film Forum on September 7th.

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The story is that 4 “thirty-something hipsters…including a well-known illustrator and designer, and a Vogue Australia scribe” bought a building on Bergen between 6th Ave and Carlton that is home to 5 rent-stabilized units. And the people who live there.

The law is that the owners can evict the residents for “personal or family use,” and that’s what they’re trying to do.

The new owners are artists, which has surprised some people:

“You’d think as artists these people would basically have better politics but they’re basically building their dream house on the backs of long-term rent-stabilized tenants,” [Brent] Meltzer [a lawyer for one of the tenants] said. “When they bought the building, they got it for that price [$866,000 in 2006] because it came with five-rent stabilized tenants.”

The comments on this Village Voice article aren’t too surprising – poor people have it easy, poor people have it hard, why would you think artists would have good politics? et cetera.

What seems interesting to me is the value or culpability that gets attached to “coolness”:

Yeah, those damn poor people. They have some nerve paying their rent, with regular rent increases, and living in a neighborhood that no one wanted to live in until Mr & Mrs Yuppie & their partners decided that it was “cool” and bought a building below market rate. And some of those tenants are senior citizens. How dare they not just move out onto the street because a greedy couple doesn’t have enough to satisfy them.

Coolness is a funny thing. Sometimes when something is trendy it is because it is a good thing that can really improve the world (the sustainable food movement?) or sometimes it is trendy because it helps people feel better than other people (remember bling?), and most of the time it’s some of both (um, like both of the above examples).

OK, but what I’m really getting at is the fact that every cultural convention we have started as some kind of cool trend… whether it became cool because it helped people not die as often or as quickly (hygiene, vaccinations, etc.) or because it helped people not be disfigured freaks (not sleeping with your cousin – what’s cooler than that?).

And right now, gentrification is cool. Thirty-somethings are coming of age who were raised by baby boomers. The baby boomers thought the coolest shit was to get rich and move to the suburbs. The thirty-somethings think the opposite is cool. And the baby who is raised wearing Sonic Youth onesies will eventually grow up to be a proper lady.

Gentrification clearly affects peoples lives in a much more serious way than baby fashion. And this type of gentrification is possible because of free-market capitalism and our legal system. The whole way our society is set up means that whoever has the most wealth will get to fuck the most people. And there are way richer people than these artists who have inevitably made these artists feel victimized before… but in this situation the artists are clearly doing the fucking.

And people who’ve grown up poor are obviously the ones who get fucked over and over again by this system. Councilwoman Letitia James was at a block party/rally to protest the attempted evictions. Which is great. Support your electorate.

letitia.jpg

Pic from Village Voice

But it’s hard to be totally into it when the most recent decision to come out of City Council is a ban on metal bats. Not anything about renters, eminent domain, or evictions. In a situation like this it’s really only a change in law that could keep these tenants in their apartments. Or in the next building that this happens to, to keep the tenants in their apartments. And so on…. And what happens when all those yuppie owners/livers are her electorate? That must be a scary thing about being an elected official in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood. Huh.

Because it is a trend, and it seems unlikely that case-by-case advocacy could change that. If it could, would we have ever seen another publicly fucked-up celebrity after 12 year-old Drew Barrymore finished rehab?

youngdrew2.jpg

No.

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Barbès

We write a lot of bar reviews for Brooklyn Skeptic, but I have to say, nothing is more fun than writing one moments after you’ve just been to the bar and had a few drinks (guilty). It was a quiet Wednesday night at home, and after sitting around doing nothing, ChezJJP and myself decided to walk the short walk to Barbès. I had been there once before (I bought oneiroi a romantic birthday libation) and had since been excited to return.

Upon entering, ChezJJP commented on the distinct Brooklyn semblance that emanates throughout. That damp smell, the warm and intimate feeling, the dark red lighting lingering effortlessly like a blanket. The bar itself is small, but more than most places, this works to its advantage. If I were to lay down on the ground, something I can say I would feel incredibly comfortable doing at Barbès, I would probably come close to touching either side of the bar. Towards the back there is a small room where they have plenty of local artists perform, as well as sometimes films. The bar had a good collection of beers, as well as a friendly group of chatty locals (we talked briefly to an older gentleman upon entering, who seemed sad to see us take seats away from the bar).

The seating is incredibly intimate. Most of the tables are for two people, with a table for four or more next to the door. There is one particularly intimate table that is next to a black wall, where a pair are forced to sit close together (this is where oneiroi and I shared our tryst). The back room is set up with fold-out chairs, and seems to be a place where people gather to chat as much as listen to music. In short, this is an ideal place for a date, or to peacefully ponder your love for Brooklyn.

Pros: Quiet enough to sit and read, friendly enough to start conversations with strangers, a great place to meet fellow locals, romantic, local music, friendly bartenders.

Cons: Not great for large groups or rowdiness.

Barbes
376 9th Street at 6th Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn

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Tucker Carlson proclaimed himself the “least anti-gay right winger you’ll ever meet” right after telling a little tale about being hit on in a bathroom in Georgetown. He claimed that after the incident he found a friend of his, returned to the bathroom to find the guy who was interested in him and “hit him against the stall with his head.”

This came up, obviously, during a discussion on Larry Craig where he described the Idaho Senator as being “not in possession of himself” and saying “there’s something wrong with Larry Craig.” “I’m not a shrink,” he goes on to say. Tucker, I’m not a shrink either, but methinks you have some anger issues.

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In case you haven’t heard, Idaho is now famous for more than just potatoes and “I da ho”, now having a sex scandal to call its own. Senator Larry Craig was recently exposed to have plead guilty to lewd conduct in a bathroom while making a stop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. How this happened in June and is only reported now is beyond me, but I’m glad to see major news outlets grill a man whose appearances at my high school were frequently key noted by anti-sex tirades and arguments for why motorcyclists shouldn’t have to wear helmets (an unrelated pet peeve of mine). You can read more about the incident at Slate where they kindly post the police report and engage in some amusing commentary about Craig’s foot tapping in the bathroom.

-Minneapolis Airport Lobby, 12:30 pm

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I didn’t know what they were called, I just knew that every kid I saw the last bunch of months was wearing them. The little kids in my building run up and down the stairs on their toes like little birds and I am so afraid that they will catch their wheel(y) on a stair and fall the fuck down. But I haven’t seen that yet.

The Village Voice fashion blog Threadster just informed me that there are Heelys for adults too! (relatedly – are there LA Lights for adults?)

 So I checked out the Heelys website. Their slogan is “freedom is a wheel in your sole.” Ha! A masterful pun like that could only be intended for a worldly adult audience, not some stupid kids. Some of their shoes go up to Mens size 10. Which means that if you know a dude with average sized feet, he too can experience the freedom of a soul wheelie.

heelys.jpg

“catching air”

On the website they also have a bunch of video clips of the Heelys pro team (you can join it!) doing tricks. One kid rides a skateboard down and up a ramp and then jumps off the skateboard and slides along a picnic table on his heelys! It was cool in a fucking terrifying way.

Next time you see some kids in your building cruising for a bruising encourage them to go for it and direct them towards a Heelys Recruiter. This could be their ticket to the big time.

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Check out this video taken from Nick Jr.’s Yo Gabba Gabba, and then tell me you’re not going to lock your door tonight.

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