The Republican Who Wasn’t There

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a bad thing.

I suppose I should start this entry off with an apology. You see, Life (and no, I don’t mean the Milton Bradley game with the super-bitchin’ spinny wheel) has kept me exceedingly busy over the last couple of months. And while I doubt that any of you have spent the past several weeks frantically clicking the “refresh” button on your browser for days at a time, desperately hoping beyond hope that a new Joe Barlow post would appear on your screen like a nubile young virgin in the Great Desert of Celibacy, I nonetheless feel bad.

As though I’ve somehow let you all down. As though a million voices cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. As though I just put my hand in a pile of goo that used to be my best friend’s face, and I didn’t know what to do. As though all work and no play made Jack a dull boy, so let’s go hack up Shelly Duvall with an ax.

So… I’m sorry, everyone. I’m not sure for what, exactly, but my own sense of eternal shame has taught me that I need to apologize for *something* at any given moment.

At any rate, the pilot is progressing very well! We’ve long since wrapped principal photography, and we’re most of the way through post-production to boot, with mixing and color correction remaining to be tackled. Our composer, Dave Brodt, delivered the score on schedule, and I plan to spend much of this weekend going through the music tracks and laying them in.

With all the post-production activity that’s been happening, I haven’t had a great deal of time for movie watching, but I did check out a few films since my last entry:

THE GOD WHO WASN’T THERE
RATING: 3 out of 10

A condescending “documentary” that purports to prove the non-existence of Jesus, but is really just an excuse for the director to make fun of Christians and their beliefs in his most David Spade-like tone. I’ve been firmly in the agnostic camp for quite a while, and did not find this flick even remotely enlightening. The director is much more concerned with mocking people who disagree with his atheist viewpoint rather than trying to convince viewers to change their beliefs. Check out the much superior Zeitgeist if you’re looking for a well-researched film that covers similar subject matter, without the childish name-calling.

The only reason I rated this film even *this* highly is because it includes clips from several rare silent movies which depict the life of Jesus. It’s a fascinating glimpse of vintage cinema, even if the director’s condescending narration doesn’t allow us to enjoy these clips. Again, Zeitgeist makes many of the same points, but without the snide attitude.

FIRST BLOOD
RATING: 7 OUT OF 10

I just watched this film for the first time in almost twenty years. The first half is still taut and lean, with Vietnam vet John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) catching shit in a small Northwestern town because the sherrif (Brian Dennehey) doesn’t like our hero’s dissheveled appearance. Things soon get out of control, and lots of things blow up and go “boom” in a manner that’s sure to delight the pyromaniac in us all.

The story stumbles slightly in the second half as Rambo proves himself to be an unstoppable killing machine, but Stallone sells the finale, giving us one of cinema’s great mental breakdowns. A good, but not great, film that has been lovingly remastered for DVD. Be sure to check out the dynamite audio commentary track, in which Sly speaks openly and honestly about his mixed feelings on the film, and his regret that the Rambo character has become associated with right-wing pro-war Republican agendas.

CRAZY LOVE
RATING: 6 OUT OF 10

A disturbing but fascinating documentary about a man who blinded his girlfriend in a fit of rage, went to jail for 14 years, got out, and eventually re-won her heart and married her. (Huh.) Along the way he cheats on her multiple times, but she remains devoted and faithful. Always interesting, but the film consists mainly of static talking head shots, so don’t expect the visuals to “wow” you. If you think you’ve got a rough love life, watch this film and get some perspective.

NOVEMBER
RATING: 7 OUT OF 10

A captivating but slightly confusing drama about a woman (Courtney Cox) who descends into madness after her boyfriend is murdered in a botched convenience store robbery. This film was shot with the same 24p video camera that I own (the Panasonic DVX100), which is the chief reason I wanted to see it, but it’s an interesting narrative achievement, and indicative of how a good cast and creative cinematography can successfully mask a low budget. Comparisons with the work of David Lynch are unavoidable, but well-deserved. Cox is very good in a challenging role that’s as far removed from Friends as it’s possible to be. Well worth a look, but be prepared to supply your own interpretation.

That’s it for now. I’ll update more regularly from now on, I promise. Begin clicking “refresh” now.

-CSJ

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