Inland Empire Of Crap… or Art?

So this originally was going to be a scathing diatribe against the movie Inland Empire by David Lynch.   After going to see it in its Providence, RI premiere and expecting a weird but interesting film, we ended up walking out on it half way through, right around the time the dozen prostitutes started dancing in unison to "Do the Locomotion" in the lead character’s alternate reality or whatever it was.  I’ve never walked out of a movie before, but this one was just leaving me completely lost and befuddled.

In the time since then, I’ve read more critical reviews and some more fan reviews and spent time thinking about.   It has also intrigued my girlfriend and I to see the end of the film.  Given what I’ve read and our desire to finish watching the film, it has started to make me think about whether this is truly a rambling, non-linear piece of art school high-falutin’ pretentious crap or umm… just art.

Here’s the thing – if you’re looking to be entertained or enjoy anything even close resembling a normal movie, this isn’t the movie for you.  I am pretty broad-minded when it comes to art and culture, and I enjoy some pretty different movies.  One of my favorite directors is Stanley Kubrick and I’ve enjoyed movies such as Kayaanisqatsi, Madness of King George, Punch Drunk Love, and even Muholland Drive.  I enjoy movies that are challenging, creative, thought-provoking and original.  My favorite movie all time is still Pulp Fiction.  However, I have my limits and if it is simply too far out there, then I typically have a hard time enjoying it.

However, it has got me thinking about the role that such movies – and music and art for that matter – plays in the creative evolution of their genres.  Many of the classic movies that can seem dated and old fashioned now were cutting edge and controversial at the time.  Each has played a roll in the development of film and while some can still seem edgy, some have become much more mainstream as they have introduced a mainstream audience to innovative storytelling and camera techniques.  The aforementioned Pulp Fiction was certainly not the first film to utilize non-linear storytelling, but did it in such a masterful way that now many other films can do the same thing and audiences are OK with it in a way that they weren’t before.  However, there were other, arguably more innovative, films that came before it and laid the groundwork.  Watch the deluxe DVD with the subtitled commentary and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

So where does that leave a film like Inland Empire?  Like still-presiding President or a war not over yet, it is up to the history books.  It could end up being a art house film that only a very small group of people can even appreciate, even enjoy.  Or perhaps, 10, 20, or 50 years from now it could be considered a breakthrough in cinema.  For me, it is an absolute far-out piece of pretentious of artsy film making that made me walk out of the theater but yet strangely left me wanting more.

Of Interest to Me…

…and hopefully to you.  Here is some stuff that has been intriguing me of late:

This isn’t exactly breaking news anymore, but to be filed under "some people can find something wrong with anything" here’s an article about Prince’s phallic suggestions at the Superbowl.  The idea of a guitarist using his guitar neck as a phallic symbol isn’t exactly a new one or a shocking one.  Chuck Berry did it.  What else could you expect from a guy who wore assless pants during an awards show?

On a personal note, I get really aggravated when I have to deal with "amateurs" when flying.  The occasional flyers who don’t know how to go through security or how to board or de-board a plane, for example. I once heard a guy ask "WHY!?!?" in response I to a TSA security guard’s request to take his shoes off.  When the guy with the gun asks you to take off your shoes in the airport, it isn’t time for a debate.  But out of everything, nothing annoys me more than the people who think they are flying in first class or haven’t flown since 1968 and think that it is totally cool to put their seats all the way back.  I will admit to doing some guerrilla retaliation tactics, including kicking the back of the seat or coughing like I have whooping cough on top of pneumonia.

Should English be the official language of America?  This town thought so and then changed its mind.  Discuss.

I peed in a urinal once and had it speak back to me.  I stopped drinking at that point and apologized to the bathroom attendant and stopped drinking.  However, now you might have the a urinal speak to you if you’re in the the state of New Mexico.  You know there’s gonna be more than a few freaked out ravers who stop doing the E after going to the bathroom and experiencing that.

Every new music format has resulted in back catalog music hitting the charts, and it predicted to happen again now that the U.K. Charts are tracking Internet downloads as well as single sales.  I can’t imagine that there’s that many people buying physical singles anymore anyway.  Watch for the Beatles to be #1 again once their music gets released digitally.

Here’s a new one: apparently there’s a chance for a day light savings "bug" because it will be starting three weeks earlier this year.  Software that is set to adjust itself automatically on a set date will not be able to do so and everything could be off by an hour this year.  I’m guessing that every traffic light in the country is probably on a non-daylight savings time change compliant system and everyone’s commute will be royally screwed for one hour for about a week.

Metropolitan Opera is broadcasting its Saturday afternoon shows to movie theaters around the country.  I saw this advertised a while ago and wanted to mention it then.  Looks like it has been a great success. 

A couple of brilliant ideas that I wish I had thought of: paper hangers for dry cleaners with advertising on them and are completely recyclable.  Umbrella vending machines in high-traffic areas.  If I knew that these were available at airports everywhere, I would love it.  And a high-end ice cream truck for adults.

Last but not least: 2007’s 12 most intruiging new things.  My favorite one is the glass skywalk over the Grand Canyon.  I loved the glass floor at the CN Tower in Toronto and think that this is awesome.    

Go Ahead, Call Me A Tree-Hugger

I recently blogged about the impact that An Inconvenient Truth had on me, and then this morning two articles came to my attention.  First of all, there was a string of horrible thunderstorms and tornadoes in Florida this morning, weather that would seem to me to be more like summer weather, not January weather. 

Secondly, this article sent to me by Meghan, which basically indicates that the scientific community is certain that global warming is happening and that it is happening because of human behavior.

Earlier this week my dad told me about a Senator (from Oregon, I believe) he heard on the radio talking about how everything in An Inconvenient Truth is a lie.  Simply not true and there’s a lot of science out there to disprove it and show that we’re just in a natural cycle.  Apparently he’s looking at a totally different scientific community than everyone else is.

However, all of this got me thinking about people’s reaction to pollution and global warming.  A lot of people get very defensive about it, one way or another, and I have started to wonder why.  It only takes a small effort to make a pretty significant difference in the amount of pollution you’re responsible for, and nearly all of them result in positive outcomes not only for the environment, but for you as well.   

I have had a difficult time seeing the potential down-side of conserving, recycling, reducing, and generally being more environmentally conscious.  What does it really matter if a hundred years from now it turns out that global warming really WAS just part of the cycle and there’s nothing we could do to stop it?  It should be our duty to at least preserve the environment to be clean and leave natural resources for generations future, and most of the time it is to your immediate advantage as well.

For example, if you change all – or just some – of your light bulbs to a compact fluorescent bulbs, not only are you using less energy, which means less pollution, but it means less electricity on your electric bill!!  It saves you money!  Same thing with turning down the heat two degrees.  Small differences that can have a big impact.  The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t cost you any more.  The best thing is that we have slightly cleaner air.

You have to throw out your trash – why not just recycle more of it?  Everyone can benefit from a little extra exercise, so why not look at that extra trip out to the curb as being good for you? 

If you save some money while saving the planet, then that money could be spent on other things… maybe save some up and help to solve the national crisis of too much debt/not enough saving.  Or maybe invest it in some retirement funds so that we can get rid of that pesky social security issue.  Or just spend it and help the economy.

Ahh – the economy.  That’s the big problem with saving the environment, right?  It is an interesting defense that companies put up against taking steps towards environmental responsibility.  They say it’ll cost too much and those lobbying against environmental protection say that it’ll destroy our economy.  It is a weak argument at best, as American businesses have proven again and and again that they are resilient and resourceful.  More than likely, it will create whole new companies – it has already created a new industry of pollution control and remediation.  It could provide new jobs, and conserving our natural resources means that the companies which extract them will have more resources for a longer time – more oil to dig up, more trees to cut.

Every company which makes its profits off of a natural resource should be figuring out how to replenish them or what will replace it when they run out.  If they aren’t doing that, then they deserve to shut down.   It isn’t just about saving a species of owl or making sure that Arizona doesn’t become the new west coast, it is about meeting customers’ needs now and in the long-term.  And in the most dire of circumstances, it means treating the planet with the respect that it deserves, ensuring that there will simply be enough people around to buy the products. 

Is it so crazy to think that capitalism could be the solution to the environmental crises?  It has worked before and can work again – we just need to demand it. 


Nope, I don’t like the show that much that I have to blog about it.  I’ve seen it a few times and it is quite funny and if you want to be entertained in a very weird, trippy way, you should tune in.  However, the REAL reason I’m shouting for you to watch the show is to make the stupidity that happened in Boston this week worthwhile.

Now, I can’t say that posting electronic materials on bridges is the smartest marketing tactic, particularly in a world of terrorism, but at the same time – they were blinking Lite-Brite looking signs that had the character giving people the finger.  And they had been up for THREE WEEKS.  Last night on the news, a commentator gave an editorial chastising those who were criticizing officials for overreacting.  He said that anyone who found these items in their neighborhood would want the police there instantly. 

Unfortunately, no one called or did anything about them for three weeks.  Goes to show the attitude of Boston drivers – they see a blinking sign giving them the finger and they just shrug it off.  I bet more than a few laughed at or gave the finger back. 

The fact that they were up for three weeks and we never heard about it makes you wonder if the controversy came about only after the promotions company called in the report themselves.  Every news report in the city, on TV, radio, Internet and in print all mentioned the cartoon and the network it is shown on.  Talk about a big media hit!

Again, it is too bad that a major city’s resources were used up and I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who had their days seriously screwed up by the snarled traffic.  But you have to ask yourself why this didn’t happen in the other cities that they were in and why did it take three weeks for someone to get freaked out about it?  I say that the part of the publicity stunt that went awry wasn’t the placement, but the calling in of it.  They probably hoped to get a little attention for ONE of them, not ALL of them.