Monday, February 26, 2007

Bologna Has a First Name

Not since the 1990s have I been as disinterested in the Academy Awards as I was this year. This isn’t a big surprise, of course. Since becoming a father, I have seen two films in the theater—quite a departure from the days when I would see up to 100 movies in the theater within a given year. As a consequence, many nominated films were completely unfamiliar to me, even by name. I simply had no emotional investment in this year’s Oscar® race—except for one movie.

After much hullabaloo, I saw the global warming “documentary” An Inconvenient Truth on DVD just two months ago. As compelling or engrossing as the film may or may not have been in its own right, I fail to see its merits as a documentary. Those with a background in film studies may find my ignorance glaring, but An Inconvenient Truth seemed to me nothing more than a videotaped lecture. It was a filmed PowerPoint slideshow interspersed with Al Gore’s (totally unrelated) reminiscing about the scandalous events surrounding the 2000 United States presidential election. If this had been meant as a documentary about Al Gore, its focus on global warming would have proven its filmmaker inept. But nobody can truthfully assume Al Gore was meant to comprise the film’s subject matter. So, if global warming was the real message of the film, why all the interruptions to discuss Gore’s firsthand experience as a presidential candidate? Interesting stuff, sure, but not in a movie about global warming. And why not branch out and talk to someone other than Al Gore? Are we documenting global warming, or just Al Gore’s speech about global warming? The filmmaker only demonstrates the latter.

As I see it, this film was a way to promote Al Gore’s views on global warming and not a documentary about global warming itself. If it was meant to be the latter, then it is an abysmal documentary. If it was merely a marketing ploy for Gore’s own thoughts on global warming—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that being the motive—then perhaps the film succeeds. After all, if you can get your lecture to a bigger audience by putting it on film and playing it in movie houses all across the country, then so be it. But again, if that is the case, does An Inconvenient Truth really constitute a remarkable documentary? I just don’t see it. And unless the other four features nominated in this same category were absolutely wretched (I haven’t seen any of them to comment), I can only see Gore’s Oscar victory as a consolation prize for his de jure loss in ’00. I’m doubtful that the Academy would have felt as strongly toward An Inconvenient Truth had 2000 turned out a bit differently (even if Gore had still “lost”). Of course, if the film’s victory is undeserved, that’s Gore’s and the filmmakers’ inconvenient truth to deal with. All I know is that it’s a truth with which I’m not very comfortable.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Time Travel

As of late, my life has been replete with time traveling experiences. Lest you raise your skeptical brow all too quickly, let me explain…

DVDs No Longer RIP
One of Melanie’s and my goals this year is to watch all of our DVDs. Or at least to watch a decent amount of them. We own quite a few, so we’re not all that hopeful that we’ll make it through all of them within one year, but we’re giving it a shot. It’s a goal that has allowed us to watch DVDs that typically do little more than collect dust, especially those films that, in general, only one of us is ever in the mood to watch (e.g. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!) We’ve decided to watch our DVDs in alphabetical order, partly to avoid disagreements, partly to avoid making a decision at all, and partly for the anal-retentive fun of it. As of today, we’ve barely made it through the Back to the Future trilogy. But at least that’s something. (And if this sounds vaguely familiar, it may have something to do with the challenge Melanie posed to me regarding my CD collection, a challenge made in much the same spirit and which I wrote about here.)

Beefeater … or Mindblower???
I now have earth-shattering, mind-blowing, irrefutable proof of my own time travel expeditions. That’s right – as you will see in the photo below, I have the undeniable evidence that I have already been to June 17, 2007, a day on which I will gorge myself on a delectable French dip sandwich known as “The Beefeater” from Jason’s Deli. Just look at the date on the receipt. Now, I assure you, my Photoshop skills are not sophisticated enough to forge such a thing. And if you don’t believe the photo, you can come see the receipt in person—it’s sitting right on my computer desk. But hurry! Four months from now, the receipt will only convince those with access to the proper carbon dating equipment…

click picture to enlarge

Mindblower, Redux
If, in addition to traversing the space-time continuum, you appreciate comic genius, let me point you to a short time-travel film produced by stand-up comic Eugene Mirman (click here to go right to his video page). I’ve promoted this comic’s work on here before, but the video in question, aptly titled “Video From the Future,” contains a hilarious moment (about 17 seconds in) where Mr. Mirman attempts to eliminate any doubt one may feel regarding the video’s futuristic origins. Despite the warning that appears at the top of the page, this video is clean enough for the whole family to enjoy. I would urge you, however, to heed that warning should you choose to view any other Mirman videos. They can be a bit raunchy…

And that’s all for now. I’ll write again … in the future!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ed the Thespian

Eddie has never made me laugh as hard as he did just a few weeks ago. One night, Melanie was playing with Eddie by alternating between making a sad face and making a happy face. Little did we know that Edison would immediately catch on and start playing the game himself. In fact, Eddie was so darn good at the game that, at several different times, Mel and I sincerely believed he had become sad and was no longer playing around. He'd hold his sad, pouty face for such a long time, that I'd start thinking, "Uh oh, the game's gone too far. He's starting to get freaked out and is going to burst into tears!" But nope, he's just a really good actor! The second I thought he couldn't possibly be playing around anymore, he'd break into another huge smile.

We grabbed our camera and tried to film this little game. Unfortunately, Edison never held a pouty face as long as he did several times before we grabbed the camera. Such is the parental life, I've realized. Anyway, below you will find the best video we were able to capture. It's still pretty good. At times, li'l Eddie will even do a faux lip-quiver. Watch closely and you'll see. What a guy!

(Melanie is also enamored of this video and has pasted it on her site. In fact, she posted it first. Gotta give her her due props!)