This Great Evil

Month: January, 2012

The Oscar race in simpler terms

“If I were feeling less generous and more cynical on this holiest of all Oscar-calendar mornings, I might say that to decipher this year’s Academy Awards contest, we need only look for inspiration to the GOP presidential race. The Artist is Mitt Romney — desperate to please, doesn’t stand for anything in particular, not especially popular with the general public, will eventually keep most of its money offshore, and, though dinged up and trash-talked, will probably cross the finish line first by default. The Descendants is Newt Gingrich (emotionally unsteady, hard on wives, doing better than expected, but probably can’t go all the way). Hugo is Rick Santorum (a little slow, doesn’t really like anything that changed in the culture in the last 80 years). And The Tree of Life is Jon Huntsman (believes in evolution, probably a little too classy for this field).”

Thank you, Mark Harris. Shine on, you crazy sapphire.


I will not make a joke out of the title of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

EL&IC is a photojournalist’s wet dream.

What strikes me most about the film are how many moments (especially about 9/11) resemble the kind of iconic, zeitgeist capturing photography you’d find in some New York Times year end round up. And yet, these moments feel phony…too artificial, despite the technical merits on display.

In fact, viewing the scenes out of context, merely as still frames, evokes more out of me than in the context of the movie. Hell, pick a random picture of Thomas Horn in the film without the film’s other, more famous stars in the background and you could probably convince folks that it’s an authentic picture taken in the aftermath of 9/11 New York.

Many sequences in the movie strain to recreate that kind of authenticity, to invoke images seared into our collective cultural psyche (most egregiously of which would be the repeated falling man motif). The film intends for these moments as a cheap and efficient way of explaining Oskar’s (the protagonist) interior life, a never ending loop of CNN broadcasts from 9/11 filtered through an autistic child’s hyper-real outlook on the world. It’s supposed to be how we come to warm up to Oskar’s innumerable quirks and peculiarities, like the filmmakers saying, “You remember how bad you felt during ‘the worst day,’ don’t you? Well this kid’s going through this shit 24/7. And his daddy died. Cry, damn you!”

Needless to say, it doesn’t work.

I’ve never been a fan of this blatantly artificial technique (see EL&IC writer Eric Roth’s Forrest Gump’s digital insertions of Tom Hanks into newsreels); it’s lazy, asking the audience to react without really making anything worthy of evoking that reaction. Yet, I don’t really agree with the absolute critical pistol-whipping EL&IC’s getting for its 9/11 imagery. Forrest Gump bumbling his way through the civil rights movement is just as offensive and demeaning to all those involved. It’s just that Gump had the benefit of 40 years to dull the memories of that era.


Chinese Restaurant Haikus: Joe’s Shanghai

Dinner’s served, bitches. 

Joe’s Shanghai

If you go to here

For other than xiao long bao

You are fucking dumb

9 Pell St
New York, NY 10013

Chinese Restaurant Haikus: A&J Restaurant

Chinese Restaurant Haikus: Reducing blood, sweat, tears and cash into 5-7-5s. 

A&J Restaurant

Come for potstickers

You better bring fucking cash

Sauerkraut soup’s worth it

1319 Rockville Pike, Suite C
Rockville, MD 20852

Chinese Restaurant Haikus: China Taste

Chinese Restaurant Haikus: An unholy marriage of the worst in Chinese and Japanese traditions.

China Taste

Though good bang for buck

Devoid of flavor and grace

Utterly tasteless

155 Rollins Ave
Rockville, MD 20852