Daddy Has Needs

C. and I were walking up 13th Street to have lunch at the Marathon Grill next to Borders.  Goldman Properties has been redeveloping the area for years as part of the not-so-quaintly-named Midtown Village.  It’s been a slow process since the originally dilapidated area was home to some seedy businesses that proved impossible to evict.  I noticed construction on a years-vacant empty lot next to one of those seedy businesses a few months ago.  Who would open a store next to one of those seedy businesses?

On the right is Sansom Cinema, the notorious gay “adult” book store with its new, dressed-up door; on the left is Genes, the new baby store.  Talk about juxtaposing innocence and experience!  Maybe Daddy has needs that Mommy just can’t meet.  Not seen here, just past Sansom Cinema, is a pet store called Doggy Style.  Really, could I make this up?

Genes on the left, Sansom Cinema to the right
Genes on the Left, Sansom Cinema on the Right

Milk

VERY GOOD (See it in theaters now.  And I mean NOW!)

MilkIt’s hard separating the man from the movie with Milk, a biopic about a life that deserves something beyond a mere excellent rating.  However, let’s set aside the political and social relevance from the filmmaking.

The performances by Penn, Franko, Hirsch, and Brolin are top notch.  Penn and Franko have chemistry even though they’re straight.  Then again, who wouldn’t have chemistry with James Franco?  Only Diego Luna’s over-acting dipped below good. Pacing, mood, setting all get high marks.  However, this is one of those rare cases where putting together excellent components yields only a very good film.

Mixing TV footage from the era directly into the movie didn’t make the film more real; it disrupted my immersion and broke the spell of being in a movie rather than just watching it.  Spike Lee’s otherwise good film, 25th Hour, suffered from the same gimmick.  There were points where the footage did matter to the plot, but I’d rather have seen the actors watching it on TV to avoid the obvious inconsistency of film and footage.

Beyond that, it’s hard to pinpoint why this film doesn’t get the excellent I would so like to give it.  Maybe real life lacks some kind of alchemy that’s only possible in fiction like in the whole-and-parts excellence of a similar period piece,  Tales of the City.  However, I don’t think this explains the virtual snubbing by the Golden Globes with only one nomination.  The Academy better do better.

See this film on its merits as a movie and as an education in the equal rights struggle we in the LGBT community are still fighting.  A documentary about Milk was one of the first positive films I’d seen about being gay.  Boys in the Band and Cruising, not so much.  Beyond the idea of a normal life being gay, Harvey Milk gave people like me an example of a life well-lived in public service.

On IMDB

Official Web Site

The Times of Harvey Milk (Documentary)

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Cities In Dust

Sometimes a song will sit in my collection for years before it really slaps me in the face.  I listened to this particular song many times, even gave it four stars, but never thought of it as more than just “a song”.  Then some snippets of lyrics stuck in my head a few nights ago, and I really listened to it, looked up the complete lyrics.  Then I got it.

Cities in Dust” by Siouxsie & The Banshees is about the fall of Pompeii.

The band first got my attention when I discovered their video Peek-a-Boo on MTV back when MTV actually played music videos.  This was not a “la-la-la” band in brilliant Technicolor singing happy songs: Dark, strange, a little abrasive, and exactly my kind of thing. Even as a child, it was Alien over E.T. for me.  I’ve also always loved the Classical period, history and mythology.  My new understanding of the context of “Cities in Dust” bumps it up from four to five stars.

Rachel Getting Married

FAIR (TiVo it.)

This potentially good film bogs down with themes gone overboard. Hathaway gives a strong performance as does Winger in her too-few scenes. Neither can save the film from its weaknesses.

Shaky cam does not make films automatically seem more real. While not the nausea-inducing level of Cloverfield, it’s enough to distract during the film’s many slower moments. I don’t go to a theater and pay real money for that home movie feeling.

The film spends far too much time dwelling on the multicultural and musical. This works early in the film with musicians practicing before the wedding and providing an organic soundtrack. Then we spend five (ten?) unending minutes at the reception with no dialog and far too musical spotlighting. Somebody was too attached to his concept at the expense of making a good movie. “The Visitor” is a much better example of weaving music into plot.

Typical of a fair film, my mind wandered frequently. The most likeable character turned out to be a dead six year old that never gets any screen time. Other than a few good snippets of dialog, this film is totally forgettable.

My guess is that serious subjects like death and addiction, multiculturalism and interracial marriage guilted people into higher-than-deserved ratings. Don’t pay money to see “Rachel Getting Married”. Go rent “The Visitor” instead.

Take Me to the River

Fairmount Water Works - view from 1984
Fairmount Water Works

Center City Philadelphia is bracketed by two rivers:  The Schuylkill River to the West and the Delaware River to the East.  Both are undergoing a transformation from abused industrial waterways to scenic recreational attractions.

I can’t head East towards the Delaware without Take Me to the River (the Annie Lennox cover or Talking Heads original) playing in my head.  The DVRPC’s $1 million grant program of the same name is one of many efforts to keep river redevelopment going in these turbulent economic times.  It’s good to see such persistence since it will require years if not decades to fully realize the rivers’ potential.

When warm weather returns, take some time to enjoy the Schuylkill Banks.  I rediscovered it last year and walked from Judy Garland Park to the Art Museum a few times.  Bladers and Bikers might want to continue further along Kelly Drive or West River Drive.  Pedestrians might want to loiter at the Fairmount Water Works before heading home.

Wazzup – 8 Years Later

Memes, like bell-bottoms and bangs, are cyclical.  60Frames revived the Wazzup Meme with the original cast and a political message:

“Superfriends True” is my favorite parody:

Here’s the original Ad: 

Other Wazzup variations on youtube:  The Simpsons, Teletubbies, Wasabi, Pizza Guy

Star Wars: KotOR MMO confirmed! – VideoGamer.com

Stay alert. Trust nobody. Keep your blaster handy.

Let the squealing like giddy school girls commence: My favorite single-player RPG is becoming an MMO.

Star Wars: KotOR MMO confirmed! – VideoGamer.com

Can BioWare bring their brand of storytelling and character development to an MMO without falling prey to pitfalls like farming and grinding?  Their last single-player offering [Mass Effect] fell short of the truly cinematic peak that was Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR), but that may have been more about the console market than BioWare losing its groove.

With Star Wars Galaxies effectively dead and buried, this may be the reboot that the franchise needs; hopefully LucasArts learned that slapping a Star Wars logo on something doesn’t make it a slam dunk. However, Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t our only hope for a non-fantasy MMO that rocks. There is another.

UPDATE: Here are two articles on shacknews that go into greater detail.  The obsessive story work, companion idea, and “no bunnies” all bode well.  Thanks, Google News.

BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO Revealed – Shacknews

Star Wars MMO Lead Writer Talks Story Details – Shacknews