November 2nd, 2008

Groucho

There is No Frame like a Human Skeleton

I went to La Jolla to-day planning on picking up some more bottles of wine from Trader Joes. You know both Anne Rice and John McCain have houses in La Jolla? I'm not sure what that implies. Maybe she unearthed him in her basement.

Trader Joes sells Charles Shaw wine which, despite costing only two dollars a bottle, is actually genuinely good. The Trader Joes is located in a miniature mall-like shopping building . . . thing. While I was there, I saw Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I hadn't planned it, I think I saw it mainly because it started five minutes after I'd looked at the show times posted in the box office. This is what happens when I go too long without seeing movies--I have to get my fix without coordination.

I'm glad I did, though. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is Kevin Smith's most natural feeling movie since Dogma, though Zack and Miri is certainly formulaic. For a long time now, Smith has desperately been trying to make formulas work for him. He made his breaks with natural, free range movies like Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, but Smith has a lot of respect for the simple pleasures in life, and one of those simple pleasures is simple movies. The trouble is, if audiences sense a formula, they feel insulted. You have to give them what they want without reminding them that they want it, and with Jersey Girl and, to a certain extent, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks 2, Smith didn't have the instincts to construct a "well-made" movie. Now, he's finally a lot closer, mainly by embracing his sweet, filthy humour.

Roger Ebert said something extremely insightful in his review of Zack and Miri Make a Porno; "Kevin Smith begins with the advantage of being raised with deeply embedded senses of sin and guilt. He's 38, and he still believes sex is dirty, and that it's funny to shock people with four-letter words and enough additional vulgarisms to fill out a crossword puzzle."

Ebert goes on to call this endearing, and it is. Smith strikes a rare balance of being unrelentingly filthy while not being jaded about it. This is Smith's true talent, and it's his natural vehicle for telling stories. He uses it to flesh out the skeleton of a romantic comedy here, and it works.

Last night I watched Tim play a bit of Fallout 3, and it's almost exactly what I thought it would be. The graphics and size of the world are not only as impressive as Oblivion's, those aspects feel remarkable like Oblivion. I suppose this is a side effect of the same game engine being used. All the voice actors are the same, too. And, unfortunately, the dialogue seems to be just as awful, and makes a pathetic attempt at emulating the wonderful humour of the previous Fallout games. Though, it does seem to be a step up from Oblivion in terms of writing. At least the speechcraft skill is genuinely useful in quests and Oblivion's boring ass colour wheel is absent.

I suppose I ought to withhold further judgement until I've actually played the game myself.

So, instead, I'll judge the pizza I had after the movie to-day; fantastic. Ricotta cheese, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms. Obscenely good.
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