Our first mode of celebration when we found out that we had posted 200 entries on S+C was to wait for the liquor store to open and buy as many boxes of wine as we could carry, then drink them. But realizing that we were going to do that anyway, so we wanted to do something a little more special. Being lazy and instead of thinking up any form of original celebration we went to our good friend the internet to inspire us on how to celebrate our 200 somethings.
Finding the internet a little overwhelming we limited our search to YouTube. So, sifting out all of the machinima (if you don’t speak 1337 this means making movies from video games, AKA being a virgin), here is how other people have celebrated their 200’s.
White Loop is a sound installation created by Nick Hutcheson, Mara Marxt and Eva Schindling being showcased at this year’s Nuit Blanche. The project explores the collective unconscious of a neighbourhood by looping a 100 pre-recorded voices re-telling their dreams. The combined impact generates a audio landscape similar to white noise; an unclear sound created by a collection of human voices.
I hate reading movie reviews, as there are few things more repetitive than your newspaper’s three star review of Killer Elite. Simply write about the plot in detail for a minute, talk about what the director’s previous film was, mention which actors were good, which weren’t, and give it some sort of rating out of either stars or, if you’re feeling silly, origami unicorns. I get why the formula works, as sometimes there isn’t anything compelling enough about a movie to really write about. But more often than not, there is something more interesting to write about Ashley Judd’s performance in Dolphin Tale. With that in mind, I’m biting the bullet and trying to anti-Swordfish* this bitch. I’m going to start writing (spoiler-free) movie reviews, and I’m going to start with Moneyball.
*A movie that is remembered now exclusively for exposing Halle Berry’s breasts, Swordfish began with John Travolta’s character saying, “You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit.” Following that were five interesting minutes, and then 94 of shit.
Moneyball is a sports movie, but it’s not really. It’s a baseball movie, except for when it isn’t at all. It’s as entertaining as both of those formulaic styles of film, but it’s far more interesting than the ones that tend to stick to the old tried and tired Rocky formula (I’m looking at you, Warrior, you steaming pile of shit). And that’s because at its core, Moneyball is not about baseball, or sports, or stats, or Brad Pitt’s continuing attempts to look exactly like Robert Redford. Moneyball is as good as it is because it’s about new ideas.
The movie is based on the non-fiction Michael Lewis book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, but the movie does not worry about keeping the story as truthful as possible; for a guy who only passively follows baseball, even I could tell they were taking artistic license with many aspects of the story. (That being said, the filmmakers’ changes almost certainly made this a better, if not more truthful, film.) In the movie, the Oakland Athletics are faced with the problem of replacing departing free agents, and general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) brings in Peter Brand (a still-fat Jonah Hill) in order to throw traditional methods of scouting out the window, instead making their primary focus finding cheap players with a good On Base Percentage. Home runs don’t matter, and neither do expensive players. Only wins.
The highs and lows of Oakland’s 2002 season are followed in the film, but unsurprisingly the most entertaining and interesting moments happen off the field. Beane faces a lot of opposition from his team of old school scouts, representing the method of thought in baseball itself (they don’t even know who Fabio is! OLD!), and pretty much anything where a set of thinking is so entrenched in popular thought that nobody ever thinks to do things differently.
Moneyball is promising as a sports movie, despite not really being one. It uses many of the old elements of the form (there are a couple of hokey metaphors), but it always recognizes its slips into cliché (like when Brand actually points out that he’s using game tape as a metaphor). It makes me think that maybe something that so desperately needs updating isn’t that far away from one. Moneyball is a smart movie that adds a new way of thinking to something that is tried, tested and true. It’s not surprising that the 2004 Red Sox were able to learn from Beane and win the World Series; what’s most surprising is that Beane was ever given a real opportunity to try.
You can read more of Alex’s writing at The MacGuffin Men, or you can subscribe to his weekly podcast with James on iTunes. He will also continue to review movies here at Songs & Cigarettes, despite all that shit he talked about reviews in the first paragraph.
Some big changes coming down S&C way, as a direct result the ole Electric Cigarette is slowly burning itself out. Until that day comes, this old thing will keep on keeping on.
From TEDxToronto to Polish Fest, the S&C hive-mind has been a busy bunch in the past weeks. Let’s go.
Before we start this entry, its important to note that Aislinn and I are good guys.
We’re never intentionally mean to anyone, we obey the law, always call our mothers on their birthdays and other important events. So, when we were offered passes to see the HOLY SONS with STEPEHN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS, we fully intended to offer an honest and in depth opinion of the show. I even spoke to HOLY SONS’ front-man Emil Amos on his personal cell phone beforehand to ensure the correct names were on the guest list. He was polite, friendly and the fact that he was so accommodating to my name-switch made me hope that his performance would match how awesome he was (on the phone).
When I tell you that we missed almost the entire set you can’t get mad, because like I said “we’re good guys.” What we did catch of the HOLY SONS set was a brilliant mash of honest, mellow rock ‘n roll with a constant driving melodic wave and some seriously tasty guitar licks. In the end I’m just disappointed that we spent more time going over Aislinn’s cool new Andriod phone while eating Dominos pizza than catching more of the show. I think the lady at the ticket window said it best “people on guest list usually show up BEFORE the band, I shouldn’t even let you in, this is pathetic.”
Maybe she doesn’t know how often I call my mom.
Seriously though, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks were a pretty big deal for the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at the Phoenix Theatre – and of course for us guys at S&C. After all, Malkmus is a legendary indie guitar king from the ‘90s super-band Pavement’ we paid our respects through many melodic guitar riffs. Actually, I caught a few minutes of Pavement’s show after they reunited last year at Coachella in Indio, California. This fall Malkmus has gone solo and touring his new LP produced by Beck, Mirror Traffic.
They played about 20 songs with a lot of energy and tightness – most off their new record. Most are easily noted with Beck-ish pop song feel and all fairly short in length (Side note: Check out Beck’s Record Club project covering songs with various artists). At one point Malkmus reminisced to the crowd about his sunny Toronto Island experience hanging out with Broken Social Scene, to huge applause.
The Jinks’ drummer, Jake Morris, looks like someone famous, but Neil and I couldn’t exactly pin it down. Who is it!? Aside from the distractions of the evening, we had a good time hanging out at the Phoenix drinking Canadian and listening to the Holy Sons, and Malkmus kill it on his guitar solos.
Switched my point-and-shoot to rapid fire and took about a hundred blurry shots, too.