21 July, 2005

Upcoming Flicks I'll Be Checking Out

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Film: Heat. To date, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro have starred in two films together: The Godfather, Part II and Heat. The Godfather, Part II featured parallel story lines playing out during different time periods, and therefore did not allow Pacino and DeNiro to be onscreen together at all. Heat marks the first time that these two legends of acting interact and exist in the same scene. This is no gimmick, either. Heat is a brilliant crime thriller with DeNiro as a criminal mastermind and Pacino as the law enforcer after him. Director Michael Mann delivers one of his best films with this three hour masterpiece starring two of our age's greatest stars.
Song: "Frankenstein," Edgar Winter Group. This song is, quite frankly, excellent. Although it's simply five minutes of instrumental music, it's incredible to listen to. You know that this must be a good song since it's my ring tone for my friends.

As the summer film season sadly begins it's downward spiral, I'm looking ahead to what films are still in store for us. However, some of the following films are still to be released this summer and some won't be released this year. Here's a look at the films I'm looking forward to seeing:

The Brothers Grimm: Director Terry Gilliam returns to the cinema eight years since his last film. The former Monty Python has become one of my favorite directors, although he has a limited filmography, one that I haven't even completely seen. This film, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the Brothers, is a fantasy film taking place in and around the famous stories of the Brothers Grimm. Despite its release in late August, normally a time when the studios deliver the crappiest of crap to the theaters, I'm optimistic about this one. Not to mention there won't be much else out there when it's released.

A History of Violence: This film has some pre-release buzz as it was shown at Cannes Film Festival and vied for the top honors there. It stars Vigo Mortenson and Ed Harris in a plot that really intrigues me. The trailer doesn't really get to much into the story, but that much that it does get into seems really interesting. Mortenson is a seemingly normal guy in a normal town until his armed defense of a robbery attempt at his diner brings out some aspects of him that those around him were unaware of. Questions like "how did this normal man obtain such abilities?" arise from those around him. Harris' character enters as the one who has info about Mortenson's past and is depicted as a menacing force in the trailer. This film looks very original and very interesting.

A Scanner Darkly: I've already mentioned this film in a past recommendation. This film won't be released until some time next year but it's already getting me excited. The story comes from a novel by master science fiction writer Philip K. Dick and employs an incredible looking animation technique. The trailer displays all of this and can be found at "www.apple.com/trailers." After you check that out, you'll be excited for this one as well.

The Island: This film is to be released tomorrow. It is from shallow director Michael Bay (I'll give him props for The Rock, but all the rest of his films are shallow and suck), but I'm excited about Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson being in it and the film has the potential for being deeper than any of Bay's other films because of the sci-fi cloning plot line. Reviews have been mixed thus far but should they remain where they are or swing upward as of tomorrow, I'll be checking this one out.

Elizabethtown: Director Cameron Crow has had a pretty impressive career as director of Say Anything..., Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous. This is his new film that is already drawing some Oscar speculation. The trailer looks great, although the film looks a bit feminine. That doesn't bother me too much as a good romance can hit the spot for me, something I am looking for this film to do, as well as deliver an excellent film on the whole.

The 40 Year Old Virgin: Perhaps the least classy film mentioned in this entry, this film looks hilarious. The outlandish title can make you laugh by itself. I've heard that this film is histerical and this will also be released in one of the semi-annual black holes of cinema, late August. However, one of my favorite comedic actors, Steve Carell, plays the title role, not to mention the film is going to be rated R and comedies of this caliber with such a rating in the past couple of years have almost always made for a good time.

King Kong: Yes! Another remake! Remakes are running rampant around the cinema these days. Many of them are terrible, however, not all of them (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, should one consider that a remake, was excellent in fact). This one looks like it could be good, if not excellent. Naturally, King Kong and the dinosaurs of skull island are computer generated, but they look very good in the trailer. Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, is helming this one, with Adrien Brody, Jack Black and Naomi Watts, among others, starring. This one will be out at Christmas, or there about and should make for an exciting end of the year flick.

2046: This one has been released in most of the world already, but it's coming out in the beginning of August in the U.S. This film from Hong Kong, directed by respected Chinese director Wong Kar Wai, stars Tony Leung (House of Flying Daggers and Infernal Affairs) and Zhang Ziyi (Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), two of China's most revered current actors. The trailer looks very cool, showing a romance story in a futuristic noir type of city. This one looks very interesting.

V for Vendetta: This is the film for which Natalie Portman infamously shaved her head for filming, sending teenage boys everywhere to sleep crying (and some eerily aroused...). The Wachowski brothers, of Matrix fame, are credited with some creative input in the trailer for this film, although I'm not exactly what it is since they aren't directing. Hugo Weaving stars as the masked villain of this film, based on a graphic novel. This film has a good deal of buzz around it and I'm hoping this will be the second incredible graphic novel adaptation for the screen of the year, the first being Sin City.

Spielberg Olympic Film: This one is being called Vengeance some places, although that hasn't been confirmed as its title yet. This will be Spielberg's second film of the year, following this summer's excellent War of the Worlds. This film isn't exactly about the Olympics, despite it being widely called "Untitled 1972 Munich Olympic Project." The film is supposedly about the Israeli military action taken against the Palestinians responsible for the kidnapping and murdering of Israeli athletes at those Olympics. The actual story of the kidnapping and murder is an intense one, and if interested in that, check out the incredible documentary, One Day in September. This film is still in production, but all sources point to a late 2005 release, although no trailer or poster has been released. I'm totally excited for this one and I'm hoping it will be released this year.

Jarhead: Director Sam Mendes has had an absolutely stellar career so far, despite only having directed two films, American Beauty and the vastly underated Road to Perdition. This is his new film about soldiers in Gulf War combat. Indications are that it will have comic elements, so this isn't a Saving Private Ryan for the Gulf War. It is based on real events, however, and stars Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. This one is also drawing some early Oscar buzz and looks very, very promising.

The Fountain: This film may be the film I am most anticipating. It stars Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman. I'm always looking forward to seeing Hugh Jackman in a new movie because I think he's a very versatile actor, not to mention I met him. This one comes from Pi and Requiem for a Dream director, Darren Aronofsky. The film has a totally insane plot in which three parallel stories, all starring Weisz and Jackman, play out simultaneously, despite the fact that the stories take place at different times in a 1000 year time span. The title comes from the Fountain of Youth, which plays some role in the film. This one has been in production for awhile and has been kept under pretty tight wraps. Not too many people seem very excited about this one, but it's going to knock our socks off.

Green Street Hooligans: This one is kind of a cheat. I have seen this already, although it hasn't been released in theaters. It has had its rounds on the festival circuit, under the title Hooligans, one of those festivals being the Tribeca Film Festival, where I saw it. First time feature director Lexi Alexander made this film out of personal experience. This is a gritty film depicting the world of football firms in the U.K. Firms are basically hardcore football fans, loyal to one team, who beat up the firms of other clubs. Alexander told the audience at the screening I attended that she was part of this world for awhile in Germany, where things are similar to the way things are depicted in this film. Despite speculation that this would be picked up because of its seemingly easy sell with Elijah Wood starring, it did not sell to any studio and is being released independently. Come September, this one will be released limitedly and will probably expand from there. I'm going to make an attempt to see this one again and I encourage others to as well. This film reminded me a lot of Fight Club in that it followed organized groups of average guys that fought periodically, however I enjoyed it more than Fight Club because of the sports aspect and because it was less surreal than Fight Club.

Well these are the films I'm looking forward to. I'm sure I won't get to see all of these in their theatrical runs and more films that have flown under the radar will be seen by me in the theater as well.

14 July, 2005

The GOP: Yeah, I'm Embarassed They Run Our Country Too...

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Film: Short Cuts. My love for lengthy ensemble pieces is shining through again. This film has drawn countless comparisons to Magnolia, and while they're both three hour films with huge casts set in Los Angeles, not much else is the same. I believe Magnolia to be better, but I believe Magnolia to be better than many, many films, so that doesn't say much. Short Cuts is definitely worth checking out, the three hours fly, as they do with Magnolia, but don't come in to this film looking for Magnolia, it's a totally different movie. Master director Robert Altman helms this one and directs the fantastic cast quite skillfully.
Date to Keep Free: Saturday, July 16. Yep, that's right. You know you've got to keep this date free, because O'Leary's making his triumphant return to Pompton Plains, best brace yourselves! Yeah, I'll see you kids on Saturday, sometime in the later half of the day.

I've had a dry spell of politically themed entries recently, at least in my opinion. Thanks to a lack of television at Cornell, I've been reading the news both online and in print much more than I would at home. This has brought me to the conclusion that broadcast news sucks for the most part and print is better in that a larger selection of articles is available and you can choose what news you get to hear. Being the left-of-centrist I am, I've been reading up on the plight (one I'm not at all sympathetic to) of this nation's GOP, the Republicans.

Quite the contrary to how our nation is supposed to run, ideally, the Republicans control just about everything in this country: the majority of the governerships, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House. This is quite a ridiculous fact, although the White House isn't much of a problem as people have come to realize this administration is just some sick joke. Right now, the members of the GOP are making fools of themselves. To give a quick run through, demigod of the right, Karl Rove, is at the center of an alleged White House cover-up to protect him from charges of exposing the top secret identity of a CIA operative; William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the highest individual judicial power in the land, is living in a hospital bed and refuses to retire; and the president has his nation in a war for which support is slowly drying up.

Karl Rove, the advisor who is credited with significantly helping Bush's reelection campaign, is now being called to retire by Democrats. Rove is being blamed for releasing the name of a secret CIA operative during an investigation of the authenticity of the evidence to go to war in Iraq. The situation is complex and I'm not going to go into all the detail but as a result of all this, Judith Miller, a New York Times reporter sits in jail. The important part is that the Bush administration has taken no apparent stance on Rove's involvement in the situation as Press Secretary Scott McClellan has repeatedly answered "no comment" to all questions regarding his involvement in the situation, despite the fact that just a few months ago he denied that Rove was at all responsible for the situation. The way I see it is that the White House will just keep up this "no comment" strategy until the press finds something else to cover. Several months ago, Democrats demanded another high ranking member of the administration, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for authorizing the torturing and whatnot that occured at Abu Ghrab, but that eventually died down and this twisted dude still controls our defenses. So most likely, the Democrats and members of the press will call for Rove's resignation or firing but the hype will probably die down. We should all be impressed with this strategy the White House is using.

The Supreme Court has been in the news recently because of an announced retirement and because of a speculated retirement. Chief Justice William Rehnquist is battling thyroid cancer, seems to be in the hospital every other day, is very old and feeble, and was in the Nixon administration. He needs to step down or get healthier. This stubborn Republican seems insistent on finishing out his alloted life term on the Supreme Court. We can't have this feeble man holding the highest judicial position in the land, it's just ridiculous.

(Read like the "Now, a word from the President" line in "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta") Now, a word 'bout the President. Oh boy that was thrilling to conceive and type. Bush, Bush, Bush. Let's go back to the beginnin: the guy was placed into office by a court order and the help of his brother and friends down in Florida. Then, less than a year into his first term, 9/11 occurred. Now normally, a national catastrophe creates a hero in the president of the time. For a while there, Bush did have the potential to become a revered figure. He was strong in the days following 9/11 and in October he went to war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in a successful military campaign, although that fight is still going on as we try to create democratic stability and search for Osama bin Laden. Then we got involved in Iraq, and after about a month of fighting, Bush declared an end to major combat operations. Now, more than two years since that, and almost 2000 Americans dead, the end of "major combat operations" doesn't seem visible quite yet. With his approval ratings hitting an all time low, as almost half of the nation does not approve, it makes me wonder what Americans were thinking eight months ago when they reelected him. What could they possibly expected him to do in the upcoming months? Well, whatever Bush voters were expecting him to do, he hasn't done. Recent polls have also shown that Americans are looking for control of Congress to switch parties following the 2006 elections. What were the people thinking in November '04?!

America's frustration with the way the Republicans are going about things just seems to be increasing. Hopefully they'll be out of office soon enough or they'll get some sense knocked in to them. Well I wish you all well in the coming months as the Republicans continue to control our country. I'll leave you with this deep, humorous slogan that surfaced during the election campaign last year, "At least when Clinton lied, no one died."

09 July, 2005

Microcosms in Late 90s Cinema: Part 3

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Film: Collateral. Usually I don't recommend something in the same realm as what my post is regarding, but this film deserves an exception. I love this film but I recommend it per a request by the lovely Sara Rutkowski, probably embarassed upon reading this. This film is intense all the way through. The soundtrack successfully mixes original stuff with pre-recorded songs. Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise both give stellar performances under the direction of Michael Mann. I've enjoyed discussing this film in short here so much, I think I'm going to make a full post out of it.
Trailer: A Scanner Darkly. Well a few months ago, a visually stunning movie's trailer hit the web and I was all over it. I told quite a few of my peers and they became pretty excited about it. That film was Sin City which ended up a huge hit of the first half of this year. In somewhat of a repeat of that incident, I have found a new film that is visually stunning, perhaps more so than Sin City. This film is A Scanner Darkly. From genius director Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Dazed and Confused) comes this film which employees an animation technique he previously used in his film, Waking Life. A few years have passed since that film and the technique has improved dramatically. Check out the trailer for A Scanner Darkly at "www.apple.com/trailers". It has an impressive cast and looks absolutely incredible. I'm already anticipating this film and after seeing the trailer, I think you will be too.

Well after a day off, I'm here with the final part of this three part entry. To recap, I've explored The Truman Show (1998) and Dark City (1998) and the existence of a microcosm in these films. Today, The Matrix (1999) is the subject. This is going to be the hardest one to write about because the film has such a large following and its story and its themes have been explored quite a bit already. However, the film is all about the microcosm that exists within the film, so it's a worthy film to wrap up this series of entries.

The Matrix is the most seen and most commercialized of any of these three films. It has spawned two sequels, a series of anime, video games, etc. The premise of this film is concerned with an artificial world existing along side the real world. To avoid conflict, my use of "artificial" and "real" describing the two worlds are the subject of debate during the film, but for our purposes, I'll be referring to the "Matrix" as the artificial world and the world on which the city of Zion exists as the real world. The "Matrix" is the world in the film that exists only in people's minds. The people living in the Matrix are in fact encased in goo filled capsules under the control of machines. The lives that they live are actually only occuring in their minds, which are being controlled by the machines. The real world is unknown to almost everyone living in the Matrix. The people living in the last human stronghold, Zion, and the crews of various hovercraft spelunking the canals of the barren earth are the only humans conscious of the real world and these people have manipulated the system so they can live in the Matrix and live in the real world as they please. One becomes conscious once they are approached in the Matrix by one of the conscious people and invited to learn what the Matrix is.

Herein lies the plot for the film: Thomas Anderson is an average joe working a 9-5 office job who is a computer hacker on the side. He begins to be contacted by an unknown person and eventually meets with them face to face. They refer to him as "Neo," his hacker alias. The two who have been contacting him are "Trinity" and "Morpheus." These shady communications pinnacle when Morpheus calls Neo on his cell phone and instructs him as to how to escape several agents in pursuit of him. While initially successful, Neo doesn't end up following all of Morpheus' instructions and eventually falls into the custody of these "Agents." While in their custody, Neo is interrogated as to his knowledge of Morpheus and has the opening to his mouth physically sealed. Shortly thereafter, some sort of insect-looking thing is injected into Neo's navel. Trinity reenters the picture when she picks Neo up and removes the insect.

Neo is taken to see Morpheus, where he is invited to learn about the Matrix. While initially apprehensive, Neo does enter into the Matrix wherein he is told that he is believed to be the chosen one. Neo learns the ways of the Matrix, the world he formerly thought to be the real world. Neo and the others engage in an adventure within the Matrix that eventually help Neo come to the realization of the sort of possibilities that exist for him now.

This film is confusing and complex the first time through, but its action and intrigue will bring one back a second time, upon which further understanding will be had. The sequels are there in order to see how Neo's story plays out, however, one can still enjoy The Matrix without seeing the subsequent films in the series or without any intent to view them. This has served as little more than a recommendation because so much has been said about this film already and it has been explored thoroughly already, however, I include it as a companion piece to Dark City and The Truman Show because of the three films diverse depictions of microcosms. In conclusion, The Truman Show is my favorite among these films, but these three offer very different things and it is tough to compare them.

07 July, 2005

Microcosms in Late 90s Cinema: Part 2

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Music Video: Tonight, Tonight, Smashing Pumpkins. If you've never seen this music video, download it. If you have seen it, you're well aware of its glory. Not only is the song incredible, but the visuals of this video are stunning. Graphically supposed to resemble film of the silent era, this video is very cool, with its retro feel. A bit bizarre at parts, this video is entertaining for its entirety.
Song: All of My Love, Led Zeppelin. This song is so sexy. It sounds a bit different than some of Zeppelin's other stuff, seeing as it was done later in their career. I can listen to this song for hours on end because of how sexy it is and because it is awesome intrumentally. Check this one out.

The second part of my three part entry will begin shortly. I'd like to take note of the terrorist attacks in London and how much they've enraged me. However, since the articles I've read so far are all varying on details, and the whole situation still seems in chaos, I'll wait to comment extensively on the incident. I will finish this three part entry and then return to the politcal arena and write an entry regarding terrorism. On a lighter note, things are going well here at Cornell. I've got a good amount of down time so I can write stuff like this and I'm doing well in my class (I was one of only a few students to get an "A" on our first paper, booya; anyone interested in reading this pseudo-masterpiece can ask me for it).

This entry is going to focus on Dark City (1998). Again, I'd just like to warn readers of spoilers that may exist in the following text regarding Dark City. This is without a doubt, the least seen and least known of the three films I'm discussing. However, its lack of public notariety does not in any way take away from the experience of viewing it, and perhaps for some, will increase it because you will be able to recommend this film to almost anyone after seeing it. This film does feel a lot like The Matrix (1999). People are living in a world in which they are almost totally controlled and their minds are being manipulated by a group beyond their control. The beings in this all controlling group are known as the "Strangers." They exist mostly underground and all have a Nosferatu-like appearance. The name of the film comes from the fact that the city is in perpetual night time. The sun is never seen but the people of Dark City have their memories altered often enough that they never realize that they never see the light of day.

The film works on two levels: it's a story of a man, John Murdoch, that we enter in the middle of and watch to see how it unfolds and it's also the story of a controlled society and those who control the society. John Murdoch awakens in a hotel with a dead body sharing the room he is in and having no memory of anything, not even his own name. He begins his journey to outrun the authorities and to reorient himself with his surroundings. As the film progresses, influences from both the Film Noir genre and the German Expressionism movement are apparent. The Noir feel comes from the crime elements of the film, among other things and the Expressionism influence can be seen in the purposely surreal environments.

Murdoch's encounter with Dr. Schreber, a man whose alliances never become quite clear, launches him into his search for the truth about the place he is living in. Dr. Schreber's character is very similar to the character of Morpheus in The Matrix in that he takes on a naive person and shows them the truth about the world. Murdoch's interactions with other citizens of Dark City help enlighten him as to what exactly is going on in this place. The Strangers begin to pursue Murdoch for gathering a little too much information. Eventually, Murdoch obtains unhumanly powers, much like those Neo has in The Matrix. With these powers and with the knowledge of his environment Murdoch now has, he is able to engage in a battle with the Strangers and ultimately exposes Dark City as a floating celestial body. The city has walls all along the outside of it, preventing the citizens of the city from venturing too far. This aspect of the film is very much like the televsion studio in The Truman Show (1998).

At the point in which Murdoch rips a whole in the outermost wall of Dark City to expose outer space is absolutely shocking and compelling. It evokes almost the same emotions of shock and triumph that come about as a result of the moment in The Truman Show when Truman's boat hits the wall of the television studio. Viewers are blown away by these resolutions, but feel triumphant in that the main characters' journeys are complete with these revelations.

Dark City is an incredible movie. Its stylized visuals and science fiction aspect remove it a bit from The Truman Show but not so far from The Matrix. It is the most complex film of the three and will probably take two viewings to fully apprectiate its beauty and sheer intelligence. This film's DVD is also available at many retailers for a ridiculously cheap price (I got mine at Suncoast, one of the more expensive retailers, for $5.99). So, for practically the price of a rental, pick this one up because not only is the film insane, but Roger Ebert provides a very intriguing commentary track. Do not watch this film with light hearted expectations as you may take into The Truman Show: this film is much more complex, more violent and grittier than that film. However, do not stray away from this film because of its complexity, it is well worth your time, and after you watch once, you will come back for more. The Matrix is up for the next entry.

06 July, 2005

Microcosms in Late 90s Cinema: Part 1

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Song: Wise Up, Aimee Mann. This song is used in the middle of Magnolia, at my favorite part of the film when all the characters sing along to it. It's a beautiful song and is even more enjoyable after seeing it used in Magnolia.
Food: Corn Muffins. Delicious and filling. Work as an entire meal in the form of one single muffin. Whether you eat corn muffins or not, I will. Enough said.

First off, here's a warning regarding this post: plot spoilers will follow regarding the three movies I'm about to discuss. In other words, if you haven't seen these movies, and don't want any aspect of them ruined for you, don't read this. If you have seen them already or if you could care less about spoilers, go ahead and read. The three movies I'm here to discuss are The Truman Show (1998), Dark City (1998) and The Matrix (1999). The reason I throw these all into one entry is because of the short amount of time between all their releases (just over a year) and their different approaches to alternate, smaller, artificial worlds existing alongside the real world. To begin, I love these movies a lot. Since I love them so much, and have a good deal to say about them, I've decided to break this into three parts, discussing a different film in each part.

The first part, right here, will cover The Truman Show. I've seen this film a number of times, but my viewings have been spaced out over a number of years. Due to the fact that the DVD of this film isn't up to my elitist standards, I do not own this film, despite it being one of my favorites. However, next month, a special edition will be released, it may be while I'm at band camp but I will buy it as soon as I possibly can. Everytime I come back to watch this film, I see new things, I love it even more than the last time. My memory of the first time I saw this film still stays with me. I saw it in the theater in the summer of 1998 for a friend's birthday at the Clearview in Parsippany and even at that young age, I was blown away. Looking back, I'm surprised I enjoyed it so much since the premise is off beat and a bit much for a fourth grader to handle, not to mention I knew Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura, The Mask and The Cable Guy, but I remember absolutely loving this film, and it's really the first movie I remember that I thought was incredible. The film was helmed by the often brilliant Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). Additionally, I find the moment in "Family Guy" in which The Truman Show is parodied to be the funniest moment in the entire series.

The Truman Show tells the story of Truman Burbank, a man living in a seemingly normal sea side town. However, the world that Truman knows, is in fact the world's largest television studio. Since birth, Truman has lived in this world that has been broadcast to millions of people around the globe and "The Truman Show" is now the highest rated show on television. Truman's town of Seahaven is on an island and since an early age, Truman has had a fear of water, thus, he's unwilling to venture out of his town. The fear was brought on by a staged boating accident in which his father died. All of Truman's family and friends, including his wife, are actors. They are all aware of the fact that they are on television and they follow a rough script to make for interesting television. Truman exists in a controlled microcosm within this planet and The Truman Show is the tale of Truman and his journey towards enlightenment.

The most compelling character in the film, with the exception of Truman, is Christof, played by Ed Harris in an Academy Award nominated performance. Christof is the head honcho in charge of "The Truman Show" and spends the entirety of the film in a control room in the top of the studio. From here, Christof can talk to actors, alter the weather conditions, basically have his way with anything in this fictional world. However, the one thing Christof does not have direct control over, is Truman Burbank himself. This is ultimately Christof's fatal flaw as Truman's free will causes him to begin to ask questions, to search for answers, and to pursue the truth. As the world that Christof has created for his surrogate son, Truman, begins to crumble, Christof attempts to do everything in his power to stop Truman from uncovering too much. At this point, Christof's true character is revealed as he is willing to go as far as killing Truman to prevent him from finding out the truth.

The Truman Show really plays out in two acts. The first is comprised of the film's portrayal of Truman's normal life, including his family and friends and the daily grind he has to endure. The second act is about Truman's exploration of some enigma; this enigma being that he lives in a television studio. The live television show has some haywire moments and people attempt to contact Truman as he moves closer to the truth. The two acts are equally entertaining and intriguing and together, they form an absolutely amazing cinematic experience. The Truman Show is one of the best films of 1998, that I've seen, right up there with Saving Private Ryan. The film is also one of the best of the decade; what number exactly, I'm not sure. The Truman Show will remain with us for a long time, especially as television, especially reality television, is expanding and getting more twisted. In the way that Network poked fun at the operation of television in the 70s, similarly does The Truman Show in the 90s and into the future. For those of you who haven't seen this film and those of you who have seen it and appreciate its glory, we can watch it at my house as soon as I get a copy of the special edition DVD. Stay tuned for Part 2.

05 July, 2005

I've Been Thinking A Lot Today...

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Film: 12 Angry Men. This film is simple. It is masterful cinema in its most simplistic form. The first few minutes show the closing arguments of a trial in which a boy is being tried for murder. The 2 hours or so that follow take place almost entirely in the jury room in which the twelve jurors deliberate the verdict. Twelve actors, one room, it's as simple as that. One of my favorite actors, Henry Fonda, gives an extraordinary peformance as "Juror #8," the righteously minded, persuasive one of the bunch. This film is absolutely enthralling and thoroughly entertaining and will not disappoint anyone with the slightest inkling as to how our judicial system works. Not to mention, the film is directed by one of my favorite's, Sidney Lumet.
Newspaper: The New York Times. I've made it clear that I enjoy the Times through and through. I'll admit the publication falls into the left side of the political spectrum, but so do I, and that's part of the reason I enjoy the paper. All the articles are eloquently composed as they always address previously mentioned people as "Mr." or "Mrs." later in the article. Plus, as a psuedo/wannabe New Yorker, I feel at home in reading it.

Well amdist some idle time up here in Ithaca, I started thinking. Thinking...thinking about the future. What the hell am I going to do with my life? I've basically decided on majoring in journalism in college, but I have amassed a near encyclopedic knowledge of film and I am also taking a film class here, so I was trying to figure out how I could incorporate that into my future. So, as I perused New York University's website this afternoon, I came across their journalism page. They proclaim that they're journalism program is one of the best in the country, blah, blah and it makes me want to go there. It is my dream to go to NYU, for journalism. Not only is their journalism world class, but they have a concentration in "Media Analysis and Criticism." Damn, just up my alley: observing society and ripping it a new one, that's what I want to do. Now that probably encompass social criticism, as well and it was the next piece of info I discovered that makes me want to go to NYU more than anywhere else. Journalism majors are required to take on a double major and NYU just so happens to offer a major in "Cinema Studies" at the same school as journalism. Life is beautiful. So, this what I'm shooting for, go to NYU, double major in Cinema Studies and Journalism, with a concentration in Media Analysis and Criticism. If this ideal situation was to occur, I'd be on top of the world. However, I think I need to look at other options and keep my hopes humble as NYU is a very competitive school and the possibility of rejection is always there. But, at this point, my isolated thinking has brought me to the conclusion that this is what I want to do. Just felt I should share my prospective plans for the future and let my peers know that I'm on the right track. Comment as you wish.

03 July, 2005

Confessions of a Cornell Summer College Student

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Beverage: Starbucks' Caramel Frappuccino. This drink is absolutely delectable. I recommend this both because of the fact that I haven't had one in a week and won't have one for another two weeks and because I want to show those of you unaware of this beverage's beauty, what it can do for you. This drink, whatever size, will not only massage your taste buds over the course of you drinking it but it will put you on a most excellent caffeine rush. My choice of beverage for a late night energy boost.
Film: War of the Worlds. I would recommend seeing this film in the theater while you still can. It is visually amazing and is the work of master director Steven Spielberg. The characters are very interesting and well developed and the computer imagery is stunning. Parts of the story do come off as shallow or lame but for the most part, this is a very enjoyable film. I was a little disappointed initially but in hindsight I believe my expectations for this film were a bit too high and I now think this is a good film.

One week down, and two to go. Cornell is a one third complete and has been great so far. The food is pretty good, especially for not having to pay anything for it (yes, I realize it was included in the initial payment, but it's no money out of my pocket at the time of the meal). At points, those in positions of authority have created an atmosphere similar to that of a Gestapo occupied Jewish ghetto under the Third Reich. However, seeing as I'm a good kid, I haven't really had any trouble with them. The film class is going well; I'm taking in a good amount of information, some of it more interesting than other. I haven't spent too much money, even with an ATM card at my disposal. I'm still working on hardening my calves in walking up hills every day. Whether I could get into this school or not, I have decided I wouldn't want to go here. Not only is it supposed to be ridiculously cold here from October-April but there is really nothing to do around here. There's your standard stuff to do on campus but the life off the campus is pretty, well I think it would best be described as "upstate New York." Yep, any suburbanite or urbanite who has ventured into the realm of upstate New York knows what I'm talking about. So in mockery of the Ithaca area, I have purchased an "Ithaca is Gangsta" t-shirt as my memoir of this trip. To those of you confused, Ithaca is not gangsta. Many, many, many white people populate the area. Well I'm going to run off and get some of the decent Cornell cafeteria food. See you kids around.