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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Dead Fish Museum

Book #23 on my reading list this year was Charles D'Ambrosio's PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist The Dead Fish Museum.

If you're a dude living in the Pacific Northwest and you enjoy reading modern fiction, D'Ambrosio's pretty much as good as it gets. In the Dead Fish Museum he cements his already sterling reputation with a great collection of gritty short stories. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Raymond Carver, D'Ambrosio's stories are like a good swift punch to the gut that's sure to send you reeling. Highly recommended.

NY Times review
Believer review
Bookslut interview


Saturday, June 23, 2007

V For Vendetta

Book #22 of my '07 reading list was V For Vendetta a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. I picked this one up after being thrilled by Moore's Watchmen.

Having already enjoyed the movie adaptation of VfV, I found the novel to be pretty much more of the same (which isn't a bad thing). The book digs deeper into several characters and has different political themes, but in general the film is pretty faithful to the original story (some differences are detailed here). Given what I thought was a pretty good adaptation, I was surprised to learn that Moore distanced himself from the film, even to the point of requesting his name be removed from the credits (which now say 'Based on a Graphic Novel by David Lloyd'). Perhaps I'd feel differently if I had read the novel first?

Wikipedia entry
V for Vendetta Shrine
Alan Moore Fansite

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

No One Belongs Here More Than You

Book #21 of my '07 reading list was Miranda July's new short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You.

Picking up where Me, You and Everyone We Know left off, July's short story collection is more quirky, emotive, unique goodness that's bound to further segregate the already divided indie fan-base. One thing that's clear though is that July is definitely a legit writer whose voice comes through almost as strongly in print as it does in her films. A couple of the highlights for me were "Something That Needs Nothing" and "Mon Plaisir".

Bonus points for gathering one of the finest sets of blurbs I've ever seen, including praise from Dave Eggers, King George Saunders, Amy Hempel and talking head David Byrne.

Excellent Official site <--highly recommended
Miranda July's site
NY Mag review


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

American Shopper

My final film of this year's SIFF and Film #33 overall was the world premier of American Shopper.

In a previous post I dubbed Trekkies as the 'best Christopher Guest movie that Christopher Guest never made'. That trophy now has a new mantle. American Shopper is a documentary (though it could be considered a mockumentary since folks were in on the joke) about a man who starts a new sport called Aisling. Aisling basically involves sort of an odd mix between interpretive dance and grocery shopping. Dangling a $10,000 prize to the winner of the inaugural contest, the sport's inventor, Jonathan Sawyer is able to drum up interest from a diverse set of contestants who are out to win. The result is hilarious, at times moving, and mostly just awesome. Funniest film I've seen in awhile.

Official Site

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

Film #5 of this year's SIFF and Film #32 overall was the disturbingly named The Pervert's Guide to Cinema.

The Perv's Guide is a tour through cinema led by psycho-analyst Slavoj Zizek. Zizek provides narration weaving through numerous films from David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick to Disney and Charlie Chaplin. Along the way Zizek uses Freudian pyschology to dissect the way we interact with cinema exploring its relation to ego/superego, fantasy/reality, etc. You can get an idea of the dialogue here. I found it fairly interesting for the first hour and half or so, but 2 1/2 hours of it got the best of me. If you liked Waking Life you might dig this one.

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes

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Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Film #31 of my '07 watch list was the indie-sleeper Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

My NetFlix rating: 3.5 stars
Jamie says: It is what it is, but damn that Johnny Depp makes a good pirate.
RIYL: Pa-Pa-Pa-Pirates I &/or Pirates II

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia site


Sunday, June 10, 2007


Film #30 of my '07 watch list was Mike Judge's Idiocracy.

My NetFlix rating: 4 stars
Jamie says: So stupid it's kinda smart...okay maybe not, but it's pretty darned funny. $10 says 'Ow My Balls' is on Spike TV in the next 5 years.
RIYL: Beavis and Butthead, Team America, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia site


Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Fountain

Film #29 of my '07 watch list was Darren Arnofsky's The Fountain.

My NetFlix rating: 2.5 stars
Jamie says: Very different film, but as much as I wanted to like it, it never seemed to really click.
RIYL: Requiem for a Dream, romantic head-trip flicks (the red-head cousin of romantic comedy)

Official Site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia site


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

2007 Reading List - Books #1-20

Here's a recap of the first twenty books of my '07 50 book challenge:
  1. Martin Dressler - Steven Millhauser
  2. The Boys From Old Florida - Buddy Martin
  3. An American Family - Harry Crews
  4. Profiles in Courage - John F. Kennedy
  5. What is the What - Dave Eggers
  6. I Love You More Than You Know - Jonathan Ames
  7. White Noise - Don DeLillo
  8. Fiskadoro - Denis Johnson
  9. US Guys - Charlie LeDuff
  10. Willful Creatures - Aimee Bender
  11. Decoding the Universe - Charles Seife
  12. Twin Study - Stacy Richter
  13. The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman
  14. We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
  15. The Cheater's Guide to Baseball - Derek Zumsteg
  16. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
  17. Baseball Between the Numbers - Jonah Keri
  18. But I Like It - Joe Sacco
  19. Chuck Klosterman IV - Chuck Klosterman
  20. Watchmen - Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Previously: My 2006 reading list and my 2005 reading list.

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Book #20 of my '07 reading list was Watchmen, a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Wow. Can you say genre defining? Watchmen is the king of comics. According to Wikipedia it's the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award, and also the only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present." But more important than that it's a blast to read. I think Rorschach may be my new favorite comic hero ever. Great story, great art and just an all around gem. If you only read one graphic novel...

Looks like the wheels are in motion to turn Watchmen into a major motion picture (from the director of 300) set for release next year. Movie rumors can be found here.

Wikipedia entry (quite good)
Fan page
Annotated Guide

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

About a Son

Film #28 of '07 and #4 of my SIFF experience this year was Kurt Cobain: About a Son.

About a Son is not your classic rockumentary. Instead director AJ Schnack has put together a visual montage of scenes from modern Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle set to audio clips of Michael Azzerad (Our Band Could Be Your Life) interviewing Kurt Cobain for what would later become the biography Come As You Are. The scenes are meant to invoke the memory of Cobain and provide us with a connection to where he came from. Filling in the gaps is an ass-kickin' soundtrack of some of Kurt's favorite tunes supplemented by a score composed by local lumanaries Ben Gibbard and Steve Fisk. Also mixed in are photos by grunge-rock photographer extraordinaire Charles Peterson. The film doesn't really add up to the sum of it's parts, but it's a unique approach and an honest effort to present Cobain warts and all.

Brian's review
Info on forthcoming Barsuk soundtrack
Sidetrack Films site

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Big Rig

Film #27 of '07 and film #3 of my '07 SIFF was Big Rig.

Big Rig is an excellent new trucker documentary from Doug Pray (Hype, Scratch). The film starts on the East coast and winds its way Westward (Grapes of Wrath like) introducing us to individual truck drivers along the way. Rather than trying to tell one specific story, Pray provides the truckers an opportunity to tell their own stories as best they see fit. Common themes include the infrigement on individual truckers rights by government regulation and the disappearing middle class. Mostly though you're along for the ride, following the road wherever it may lead. It's a fun ride and one that'll probably change your peception of what truck drivers are all about. My vote for the coveted Golden Space Needle out of what I've seen so far.

Official Site
The Stranger review

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Fever of '57

Film #26 of my '07 list and film #2 of my SIFF experience was the world premiere of The Fever of '57.

Based on the book Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, Fever is a documentary about the launching of Sputnik and the subsequent reactions. Initially lauded as a scientific leap forward for all of mankind, American reaction to the launch soon turns to fear as speculation that the satellite could be misused for nefarious military purposes spreads. The following months led to an arms escalation that brought us to the brink of war. Presented with mounds of excellent archival footage, director David Hoffman tells a forgotten tale of American history that is every bit as fascinating as the Cuban Missle Crisis (and will leave you with a new found respect for Eisenhower). Well worth seeing.

Official Site
Seattle MetBlogs review

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