Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Kinsey starring Liam Neeson.
Kinsey sure tries to make the namesake a hero, but ultimately comes across a little histrionic. You can only gold plate a plastic trophy so much before it collapses under the weight. This movie would have been more effective had it taken a clinical or documentary-esque approach rather than "glowing historic hero" approach. But, as Ebert says, you review the movie you saw, not the one you wanted to see. It was enjoyable and, if you're a movie addict like myself, worth the solid two hours of run-time. Kinsey really did have a lot of positive influence in demystifying sex and redefining what's "normal," but he apparently, like the free love generation, just couldn't grasp the point that sex is more than genital manipulation for most people. It's tied very close to our emotions and attachments. This movie does a decent job at portraying that, but then downshifts and tries to gloss over that lesson. Liam of course and as always is spectacular in the role, though Laura Linney is miscast as his brown-eyed, brunette wife. With some actresses you just can't hide the fact that they're really blonde, and vice versa; imagine seeing the amazing Ava Gardner with platinum hair - you would still know in the back of your mind it didn't quite fit. (In a much more frivolous example, think of Freddie Prinze Jr. as "Fred" in the Scooby Doo movies. Even my 8 year old said after a couple scenes, "That guy's not really blonde, is he?") Stick around for the credits, because after the initial scroll of who played what, there's a montage of animals doing the nasty to a jaunty soundtrack - compiled form footage which was originally done by the Kinsey institute. Apparently Kinsey thought there was value in watching all kinds of critters hump. The final pair is especially entertaining as it provides proof to the veracity of the old joke: Q: "How do porcupines make love?" A: "Verrrry carefully."

Magical Mystery Tours by Tony Bramwell.
Mr. Bramwell literally grew up with the Beatles and entered the biz by starting out as their roadie and graduating to production and management. If you like rafts of trivial detail, this is the book for you. But, it's like sitting at the pub (or reading a blog) and listening to someone gas on and on about the events in their lives. The book is roughly chronological, but Bramwell often digresses [shit-eating grin] back and forth through time as things occur to him. Therefore, even though this book has the best outsider's view of the Beatles I've encountered, it becomes tedious reading. For example, (and I paraphrase wildly here), "We went here and did this, then we shagged some birds, then John was a jerk, which pissed Paul off, George was gloomy and quiet, while Ringo ordered another pint." This one is for hardcore fans, all others should just watch the video series The Beatles Anthology, as it's much more fun. Highlights are: Though a complete original and the de facto leader of the group, John was often a jerk who was eventually as unhinged by fame as Elvis was. Yoko Ono was an opportunistic freak (her performance art act consisted of audience members cutting her clothes off until she was nude, which would qualify as tragicomedy because she had the kind of body that cried out for concealment) who intuited that she could leverage John's weaknesses to weasel her way into permanent fortune and carte blanche (no surprise there, but it's fun to read how she did it and how shameless she was). One prime example is when John and Yoko were doing their ridiculous infamous bed-in for peace, Yoko ordered an entire bucket of caviar every day, had about two bites, and let the rest rot. George was insecure being next to the white-hot talents of Lennon and McCartney and only realized how good he was once he branched out (even the greenest, most lush lawn must sigh with weltschmerz while gazing at a tree). Ringo did his job as a drummer and reveled in the life of celebrity and access to great parties. McCartney was the most grounded of the group, and according to this book, is still that way today. Personally, I think he comes off as a little conceited in interviews these days, but if anyone's earned it, Paul has. Linda was a class act who, being raised by the rich and famous, fit right in with the newly rich and famous. Final verdict: Somewhat tedious, but filled with info you'll find nowhere else. I'm amazed Yoko hasn't sued this guy within an inch of his royalties.

A Dirty Shame, directed by John Waters.
I've never liked Waters' films. They're childish and prurient in much the same way as Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but without the razor wit and with way too many drag queens. I mean if watching a morbidly obese man dressed as a woman eating freshly excreted real dog shit on screen does it for ya, be my guest. But, I love Tracey Ullman, so I'll eventually hunt down anything she's in, and here she's wasted playing an uptight woman who turns into a nympho when she's hit on the head, sitcom style. She is then indoctrinated into a little group of fellow sex addicts who have Johnny Knoxville (of MTV's "Jackass") as their savior, who happens to have a snake for a penis (which he blows in an out-take). A portion of the gay community considers Judeo/Christian beliefs fair game for mockery (for reasons known to anyone who cares), and this movie takes it to the wall in that regard, using J/C religious iconography as the structure of the sex addicts group. So, not only does the flick lack legitimate laughs, it tries too hard to be offensive, and ends up being so only because it tries so hard - in the same way that a movie trying to be funny but failing subsequently loops around to be unintentionally funny (see Ishtar if any undestroyed copies remain). This one's not even interesting in a car-wreck sorta way. Avoid.

Musicology by Prince (once again known as the artist "Prince").
It must truly suck being a genius. When I meet someone whose intelligence vastly outstrips mine, I get the same sensation I got when I first saw the contrail of the space shuttle arc all the way out of the atmosphere. I'm given to wonder how it must feel for someone who truly towers above the rest of us in either intelligence or talent. Practically every time I spin up a new Prince album, I expect it to suck and thus I'll be able to proclaim he's finally lost it, that the well has dried up, but time and again I've been pleasantly surprised that His Purpleness can still pull it off. This guy is just freaky talented, a bonafide and true musical genius, which (to me) goes a long way towards explaining why he comes off as kind of a freak. How could you not be a little out there when in fact you are one of the best around? So I suppose I consider myself lucky to be average, as I stand there gazing at the towering contrail that goes someplace I never will. Musicology is a must for fans, and everyone else should give the samples a test listen on the web site of their choice. I hope Prince has taken Kevin Smith's advice and wears tennis shoes more often (his high heel addiction has ruined his knees) because we want him wiggling his microscopic ass across the stage for decades to come.


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