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open and shut case, johnson.
23 October 2002
it hit me one night when i saw dave chapelle on conan o'brien: this man is real. perhaps many view what i just said as mere ebonic vernacular, but i think you see what makes this man so damn funny when you see him comfortably slumped in conan's chair.

throughout this set, dave comfortably treads the line of race, social commentary, and pure humor forming one of the funniest hours of comedy that i've found imaginable.

i could go on about the material in and of itself, but that'd only serve to spoil something that you should have no idea is coming at you. i think this man is the funniest and most well rounded comedian around these days, and this set serves as a testament to the undeniable skills of one david chapelle (who wasn't any part of half-baked being another lowbrow weed-afiocionado flick, dangit)
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warning: caustic reagent
8 August 2002
the sophomore effort between aphex twin and chris cunningham continues the proud tradition of putting a face on a once-said-to-be faceless music; richard james'. this is what happens when you take a bloody brilliant director (cunningham) and NME magazine's composer of the 90s (james) and infuse them with spite for the music industry. their last video, come to daddy, seemed to take on the thrasy rock element of popularity spawned by nine inch nails, prodigy's "firestarter", and other clones of such. this time around, they focus on satiring the presence of the half naked woman's place in music video.

the song itself features an amalgamation of chopped up bits of chorus singers, resulting in more of a moaning type melody as opposed to traditional lyrics, on top of typical post-porno-music aphex twin beats. the music is timed up with the transformation of a couple street whores into aphex twin-faced street whores, who are being chased down by two would-be customers. from there, you get to see the visage of richard james making out with himself, then of course, the gratuitious dance and champagne scenes.

it's a pity that richard tends to be more bored with making music than most people, but that's part of the reason why he's special. who's the biggest name in mainstream electronic music these days? fatboy slim? moby? after watching this, come to daddy, and donkey rhubarb and listening to some of his music, it's pretty obvious that aphex twin could have probably been the biggest name in electronic pop music if he put his mind to it, but fortunately for the hardcore fans out there, i don't think it has ever crossed his mind.
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come to daddy
8 August 2002
when chris cunningham and aphex twin get together, watch out. chris cunningham happens to be a giant fan of the likes of aphex twin and squarepusher, so the ingenuity shows when he gets a chance to direct music videos for them. their latest entry, monkey drummer, is essentially the video for aphex's drukqs album, however the pretensious snobs decided that they're too artsy for the video industry, so they just let the video open up at an art house and make the rounds on a weird short film collection dvd.

as for this video itself, what can you say? i always wondered what kind of creatures would do the drums for an aphex twin track, my personal daydream being an army of angry miniature dwarves going spastic, and it turns out to be a six-armed robotic monkey.

whereas come to daddy and windowlicker were satires of the music industry, this is just trademark richard james goofiness. if you can get a copy, i'd highly reccomend it.
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nobody can hold kubrick's torch. he needed to do this movie.
30 June 2001
warning: there will be some spoiers so skip this one if you haven't seen it.

this movie suffers from an identity crisis. is it supposed to be a chilling reminder that machines can never fully replace humans? or does it say that when humanity is long gone, the most primitive element of love will last in its ultimate creations, thus making love = eternity? it's got a stone cold atmosphere at times, and it feels like a tender family movies at others. spielberg made a valiant effort at trying to be stanley kubrick for chunks of this movie, but his innate tendencies eventually shined through, adding the cheese factor.

this movie insults you as a viewer quite a few times. not with stupid things it starts off with the eventual banishment of david, where their real son acts as a catalyst for his departure. the parents don't bother to ask david why he did those weird things, and surely the mech doesn't seem capable of deceit or killing. you're going to tell me that he wouldn't tell the parents that the kid's friend stabbed his arm, or that his real brother told him to get a lock of his mommy's hair to make him love her? that's a big hole in my eyes. if she were an irrational alcoholic, then it makes sense that they need to be rid of this robot.

but spielberg makes family movies to an extent, although he really tried to do otherwise at times here.

instead it's a sad utopia failed type of thing, and the parents show a brash disregard for knowing the truth as they wholly accept their son, capable of deceit, as the innocent child out of the two, based on his humanity. so the mindgames of a gimpy 8 year old kid worked on his parents, woe is indeed me at this point.

the framing of the gigolo came out of nowhere and went nowhere. it seems to me that this was added in at some point to give the movie some much needed action scenes to flex their CG skills. who killed the woman? why blame a robot when you've already gotten away with it? who cares? let's face it, a few heart to heart conversations with a few robots and their teddybear isn't going to do much otehr than induce sleep for a couple hours, so there's this convenient twist that causes them to run of their lives for a good hour or so, changing the whole feel of the movie.

from there the movie is a split between a twisted future flick and a boy chasing his dreams flick. other characters flutter throughout pointlessly, most notably the professor hobby. let's see: he tells david how important he is and how he's the first success, so then you let the boy run off and dive into the water because he's so important? you got me there.

the epilogue ended the movie on a low note, and in my opinion, this is where kubrick could have made this movie classic. first off, one more hole: how can someone be revived from a strand of hair and only live for a day with no viable explanation as to why they die? that's completely irrational, and likely a quick fix to finish up the movie in 5 mintues flat. so anyways, there's an aura of kubrick ambiguity with the unknown silver creatures (i presume them to be the future manifestation of mecha technology rather than alien), but the movie takes a sharp turn in the spielberg direction with the sappy feelgood ending. oh one more giant insulting plot hole: WHY NOT TAKE MORE OF HER HAIR AND JUST MAKE HER AGAIN? are we really that stupid? they tried to make some spacetime continuum passageway explanation as to why they can live again for one day, but that doesnt hold up as to why they can't just make a new mommy every day. please, a little credit for us?

look at stanley kubrick's past with movies: he loves to leave you pondering a philosophical question at the end. did alex really get cured in a clockwork orange? is "curing" proper? what the heck happened t the end of 2001? should we trust machines with power over our lives? to me, this movie seemed to be building up to a big question at the end: what's beyond love? kubrick seemed to have a brilliant concept here. he detached the definitive human emotion from humans and put it in a heartless machine to analyze it from a different perspective. however, spielberg seemed to end the movie prematurely by showing david go to sleep aside his irrationaly dead mother figure, opting for a happy ending rather than a chilling one.

i'm led to believe that if kubrick were alive and doing this movie, david would have gotten up as his mommy deceased and looked outside at a barren world in which he had no place, his one day of love now forever gone.. and he would have had a nearly blank look on his eyes, maybe even a tear running down his cheek in the inevitable close up shot as he began to realize infinite letdown. i'm confident that stanley kubrick wouldn't have left you with a cozy feeling coming out of this movie, and thus is the curse of steven spielberg. i give him credit for trying, but his tendencies eventually shined through this picture, proving that nobody can replace stanley kubrick. rest in peace, dude.
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this aggression will not stand
30 June 2001
i'm bored and going to spoil many things, so if you've never seen this movie skip past this review. now.

to me, the big lebowski is a scathing social commentary on a few types of burnouts prevalent in the 90s. now while the typical definition of a burnout is drug related, i would argue that the core trio of this movie (dude, walter, and donnie) are all burned out on life in their own unique ways. the dude is rather obvious, seeing as he chooses to smoke roaches and drink white russians throughout the whole movie. furthermore, i presume him to be a weed dealer, due to his neverending supply of pot, kahlua, and money. walter feels that society has been indebted to him for his service in nam, so his irrational righteousness carries him through the story with an award winning swagger. donnie is the awkward outsider, trying to enter the dialogues too late thanks to his innate timidity. while these guys seem like an unlikely trio, leave it to the coen brothers to combine them in a rather dysfunctional faction to show the utter pointless absurdity of their lives.

from there, the movie centers around the inherent human trait to recycle things that it comes across. the conversations are circular, the characters all develop vernacular influenced by others, and the most boring conversations turn into a slapstick gag by the rather simple method of immediate repetition. the coen brothers are masters of characterization (i wanted to slug that pregnant cop in fargo for her accent alone) so it's interesting to watch the characters develop throughout the course of the big lebowski. you generally don't get a one dimensional look at any character in their movies.

the subtlties of the coen bros' movies are what make them borderline genius, and the big lebowski is saturated with all kinds of hilarious quirks that are easy to miss. check out jesus' coke fingernail on his pinky, or how the cops raid the bowling alley after the gun scene, while walter's borrowed dog runs off (yet inexplicably shows up later). or even the irony of how the self-proclaimed nihilists are so worked up over getting the money that they don't fit their title, subtly pointing to the core trio as the true nihilists in the movie. the dude only smokes roaches except when he's in the lap of luxury at the big lebowski's place, where he lights up a spliff. even the middle/upper class work ethic is chastised when the dude shrugs in utter disbelief that he's getting completely discredited because he doesn't have a formal job. i wouldn't be surprised if these characters were based on people from the coen brothers' past, seeing as they probably were ridiculed as aspiring directors many years ago, and maybe even got told to get a real job on several occasions.

i think this movie is their masterstroke, although the hudsucker proxy is indeed wicked too. most everything is perfectly implemented in this movie, and consequently utterly hilarious. this whole adventure starts with someone, uh... soiling the dude's rug and ends with the dude getting the most wicked 5 o'clock shadow ever, in between lies the most hilarious social commentary i've seen.

however, this movie is COMPLETELY hit or miss. some people are going to call it incoherent and boring, others like myself will call it genius. either way, the coen bros' caustic sense of humor isn't for everyone. although it's a blessing if you can understand it, seeing as you're treated to the best movies that come out of america, in my humble opinion.
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