December 24th, 2009


Only Angels Have Time Capsules

Twitter Sonnet #94

Plastic makes cups of water for bottles.
Lunch is a Subway sandwich with chow mein.
In the shade of Rupert Murdoch's wattles,
No robot blue bug light burns in vain.
Bright Tron bowels unwind for the holidays.
Apple juice can't digest cinnamon well.
Booze separates from the blood of Tuesdays.
Modern clay pots have no secrets to tell.
A tall, Swedish girl can have a short voice.
There are brief broadcasts from a coal meadow.
Clean soot offers an illusory choice.
Dracula will never face The Shadow.
Alien babies are born in boxty.
Happy Christmas, Prince John, from a Locksley.

The stress of having more than ten people to buy presents for would, I think, kill me. I see people with wide, crazed eyes under frazzled hair, pushing shopping carts. I don't want that, no.

I've been out all day with my family--we had lunch at a faux Irish pub called Hooley's. Not very long after I ate breakfast, I had Jameson and boxty. I'm glad the whisky made me hungry again so soon because the boxty, which I'd never had before, was wonderful. I think the "white wine butter sauce" helped a lot, even though I hate white wine.

We then saw Up in the Air, a new Jason Reitman movie starring George Clooney. It wasn't exactly bad, but not quite as good as it seemed to want to be--the end has a sort of quiet moment where I think we're meant to contemplate the sad, lonely existence its protagonist, Ryan Bingham, has created for himself by living his life travelling 350 days a year. But the charm of real, sort of dark, comedy that comes from his lifestyle in having grown accustomed to flying, as well as the somewhat fascinating scenes of Bingham doing his job--which is firing people for bosses too timid to do it themselves--both overwhelm development of Bingham's character and the relationships he has with others so that the ending doesn't feel appropriate. Particularly flawed was the story of his relationship with a woman played by Vera Farmiga, which begins as something sexy and interesting as the two fire too-witty movie dialogue at each other in a subtle pissing contest of who can be the most casual about sex. When the plot gets serious about their relationship, it doesn't quite feel earned. It reminded me a bit of Susan Sarandon's role in the new version of Alfie, where Alfie found himself hurt that the older woman, who he'd assumed would be more likely to be loyal to a single lover, turned out to be even more of a player than himself. In both cases, there was an oddly conspicuous sense of a writer deliberately switching the gender roles. In Up in the Air, it was even worse as it required characters to behave differently than they had in earlier scenes--subtly, but crucially enough to make it seem like the parts of the movie were disconnected.

A littler better are sections of the movie where Bingham takes a young colleague under his wing to show her how important it is to fire people in person. There was a sort of master/disciple aspect to this section of the film that came off rather well, sort of reminding me of some of Kurosawa's late 1940s films where Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune tended to have the same dynamic.

In one scene, Bingham's character's talking to the young woman and she brings up the idea that men are more interested in gaining a form of immortality than women are when he tells her about his goal to reach a million frequent flyer miles, something that had only been achieved by seven other people. I was reminded of a particularly phoney bit from Moonstruck where a woman looks at her husband, who appears to be expressing a mid-life crisis by cheating on her, and tells him he's going to die some day regardless and the movie seems to feel like she's saying something really insightful. I haven't seen Moonstruck in a long time, but maybe one of the reasons neither film really works on me is I don't quite see men as being somehow more afraid of death than women.

I also don't think George Clooney was well cast, or anyway his performance was totally flat, perhaps just proving once again that the Coen brothers are the only filmmakers who can do anything with him.

I have to be up even earlier to-morrow, so I think now I'll just chill out and watch Alien.
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    "Chimes of Freedom" - Bob Dylan