In the spirit of posting regularly, earlier today while at work, I had a slew of things I was going to throw up here in the midst of several job-related activities. And then, our network went down. And then it came back up ... for about 30 seconds before going back down. Eventually, I just decided it made more sense to skip the post and go to a movie. Duh!
So off I went to finally see Ratatouille. I twittered it on my way out, and I'll say it again: Brad Bird is a genius! OK ... hyperbole aside ... he really is. I'm not going to actually say that Ratatouille is a perfect film; it has a few flaws here and there and I think I probably still like Bird's The Incredibles more. But Bird repeatedly brings a humanity to his films that is unparalleled in most animated features, including its Pixar brethren. But even more amazingly, Bird has managed to compel me to do something I thought very unlikely: to not only agree with an A.O. Scott review, but to also actively applaud him for (I can't believe I'm going to say this) a keen insight that goes beyond his usual holier-than-thou-and-thou-and-thou posturing. Maybe it's because Scott sees a bit too much of himself in the character of food critic Anton Ego. I don't know. As Scott writes, Ratatouille is "one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film," and it achieves this feat not just by showing said artist (in this case, an adorable little rat with a knack for cuisine) perform his magic, but by also depicting an audience transformed through his experience of the work. Bird doesn't make animated films; he makes films that happen to be animated rather than live-action, and he is, quite simply, one of the most talented storytellers working in cinema today.
Seeing Ratatouille was enough to take my mind (briefly) off of this weekend's weather report. According to all the weather reports (and most recently to weather.com), there are supposed to be scattered thunderstorms all weekend, especially starting Saturday night. And where am I supposed to be Saturday night? Standing outside in an empty pool in Williamsburg to see Sonic Youth. And potentially going make on Sunday for TV on the Radio. Sunday is free ... I'll happily skip it. Saturday is a paid show and I have tickets. But do I really want to stand out in a downpour? And at what point do they call a show when there's lightning in the area?
The past two weeks have seen a couple must-own (or at the very least must-see) DVDs hit the market. This past Tuesday, The Host came out. As I've already mentioned several times on this blog (starting with my review last October), The Host will most certainly be near the top of my 2007 "Best" list. It's a remarkable film, and much more than just a monster movie.
But even more importantly, and likely unseen by many, is the Criterion release on July 14 of Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole. I mentioned this release just before it happened two weeks ago, but it's worth mentioning again. Ace in the Hole is a tremendous examination of the media, still relevant today even as it happens to be over half-a-century old. It had never been on DVD, and if there was a commercial video copy anywhere, I was never able to find it. I've managed to see it twice thanks to both BAM and Film Forum. Thankfully, with my DVD finally arriving today, I no longer need to depend on them to revisit this marvelous, long-overlooked and often-forgotten movie from one of history's greatest filmmakers. Netflix it now.
I love Top Chef, but what the hell was that crappy three-season/mid-season reunion special they aired this week. First of all, you know what I really hate? When television programming executives think it's time to appear on camera themselves. Andy Cohen, apparently a Senior Vice President of Production and Programming at Bravo, seems to host all of the cable network's "What What Happens!" reunion specials. Oh, and he's terrible at it. Please, someone get him to stop. Regardless, why are we sitting through season filler like this so early. A rerun would have been more entertaining. Bravo has done a good job with most of its reality series -- although Shear Genius was anything but and Top Design was relatively meh -- but why ruin it with crappy reunion specials.
Speaking of Bravo reality, every time I walk by the poster for Flipping Out, which premieres next week, I do a double-take at the brunette who looks like Julia Louis-Dreyfus' double.
Oh yeah ... I need to move. By the end of September, but I'm shooting for beginning of September. I need to live alone again, and preferably in a building where the landlord responds to things like a collapsing ceiling because of a leak in the pipes from the apartment above in less than five days, thereby stopping the paint and plaster from actually bursting. But more importantly ... I just need to live alone again. Send tips my way if you know of any.