Saturday, May 19, 2007

movie of the week: the vice guide to travel

i can't say that i've always been an unquivocal fan of vice. previously i've been accused, in this regard and others, of "hating." this term specifically i find bothersome, in it's connotation as downgrading things or people that may be successful. not to get all serious here, but my dad always told me as a kid not to hate, because that was the reason that so many people in our family died during the Holocaust, and i've tried to live by that maxim.

my friends and i have a misanthropic attitude in general, especially when together. so one might fit my attitude within that paradigm, but i feel that there are legitimate complaints with vice. specifically, mine stem from a number of aspects of the magazine. first, although vice might be considered an originator in this regard, i find the postmodern 21st century ironic, biting, contrarian-style of writing extremely tiresome. not only that, but it seems that this type of sarcastic prose is easy to do in many respects. vice however, probably does it pretty well. but as my friend mike has pointed out, their content is often inconsistent. there are often a few issues that backslide into this lazy, sardonic writing, but then they produce an excellent issue, such as the applachian issue, that avoids this tired formula.

my other complaint is that the magazine projects a totally anti-establishment ethos, but is completely supported by advertising, often from major multinationals at that. they even decry the corporate drive behind subscriptions, but at least subscription-based magazines have some amount of money coming in besides ad revenues, while vice is completely ad supported.

the vice guide to travel:

all that being said, i thought the vice guide to travel was an excellent piece of work, especially for a documentary-style piece. there is some crazy shit that happens, and while not all of the short pieces are equally enthralling, overall it was quite fascinating.

a lot of the stuff in the movie is stuff that really needs to be reported (the pieces in palestine, pakistan, and bulgaria particularly). my question during these parts was "how is vice doing this and not other media outlets?" it seems like we should be getting an inside look at the transmission of jihad ideology to youths in palestine, the culture of guns in pakistan, and the ease in which one can aquire a nuclear weapon, from mainstream media outlets. at the least what vice found should be more widely reported.

the pieces i mention (palestine, pakistan, and bulgaria) i liked the best. the report from the favelas is brazil was also great...jesus, the correspondent outfit that the guy was wearing was ridiculous. i though he was going to get shot at any moment when he was inside the party.

the extras were very cool, but they definitely needed more. the only major letdown was the piece from the congo, which wasn't that interesting and was sort of anticlimactic. it felt like the author went to the jungle and just got too fucked up to do anything meaningful while there.

one question was: where do they get all money for this stuff? all the offices (they have like 20 or something)? is this all from products and advertising? i'm sure these perks and the cachet of working at vice allows them to pay people very little, a la the music industry. but i digress.

overall though, great stuff. now if i can just make time to watch more of Vice TV.

other movies:

empire of the sun
interesting, but unfocused and melodramatic. christian bale is quite intriguing in his first role.

a bronx tale
for a movie billed as a conflict between two powerful men over the control and future of a young boy, there really isn't much from those male roles, specifically de niro, who practically disappears from the second half of the film. and the young male lead was just so stiff. there was an interesting overall plot, but it wasn't sufficiently novel or compelling. de niro directed, which may be why his role is diminished in the latter stages, as he might have reacted too strongly against the perceived tendency of actor/directors to insert themselves into their work. chazz palminteri, who plays the counterpoint to deniro's character, wrote the screenplay. maybe that's part of the reason he plays such a larger role. overall, i wasn't really impressed and expected a bit more. the moral parables felt forced as well.

an okay flick, but very uneven. m. night always crafts a great movie visually, but otherwise, his work is inconsistent. this movie felt overwrought, and always weighed down by it's own sense of self-importance. you certainly can say that about most of his movies. the comic aspect is initially intriguing, but gets tiresome, although the final aspect of the device is quite interesting.

hilarious, but completely ludicrous. bill murray always seems to play a variation on the same character. in this case, it's an early iteration, and it's pretty funny.

say anything
apparently according to an article i read, all women really want is lloyd dobler. i can see that. from a guys perspective, diane court wouldn't be so bad. this is also part of the reason why john cusack has had such a good career, because of this enduring legacy (i'm sure it's also related to the fact that many of his characters are dobler-esque).

other flicks:
casino royale, beerfest, millions, million dollar baby, wall street, the princess bride, brokeback mountain, true romance
st. elmo's fire - i don't see what all the fuss was about.
talladega nights - ditto
ray - jaime foxx was fantastic, but i had the same complaints about this one as i did about walk the line. plus the historical liberties were a little annoying.

No comments: