21 Feb


1. Safe House/Universal                                   Wknd/$  23.8            Total/$   78.1

 2. The Vow/ScreenGems                                  Wknd/$  23.1            Total/$   85.0

 3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance               Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$   22.1

 4. Journey 2: Mysterious Island/WB             Wknd/$  19.9            Total/$   53.0

 5. This Means War/Fox                                     Wknd/$  17.4            Total/$   19.0

 6. Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom..                 Wknd/$   8.0             Total/$   33.9

 7. Chronicle/Fox                                                 Wknd/$   7.6              Total/$   51.1

 8. The Woman In Black/CBS                           Wknd/$   6.7              Total/$   45.3

 9. The Secret World of Arrietty                       Wknd/$   6.5               Total/$     6.5

10. The Grey/Open Road                                   Wknd/$    3.1              Total/$   48.0



Safe House moves to up number one, proving the world is filled with sad clichéd people who feel the need to made “date deals” wherein they see movies like The Vow (down to number two) on Valentine’s Day when no one should see a Nicholas Sparks movie ever on any occasion.  While watching this I was annoyed at all the quick cutting Tony Scott was doing but then I found out it wasn’t Tony Scott at all, just some poor hack who proves that even the less talented Scott brother also has imitators.  I thought it was Tony Scott because a) it was bad, b) those same stupid filters of red and greed were in use and c) Denzel Washington has made a hundred films with him. Okay, maybe it’s just five (Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Unstoppable, Déjà vu, Taking of Pelham 1-2-3), but it’s five too many. Hell, he’s worked with less with Spike Lee (Malcolm X, Mo’ Better Blues, He Got Game, The Inside Man) and they were supposed to be a black version of DeNiro and Scorsese.



Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens at number three and there are two kinds of bad movies: bad movies that are nonetheless fun to watch, especially late at night or on a rainy afternoon, hungover…or so fucking awful their very existence causes you pain.  The first Ghost Rider was the latter while this “semi-sequel” is the former.  It comes from the directing duo that brought us Crank, which means it’s made for kids raised with ADD, video games and ultimate fighting. And unlike, say the Tony Scott-lite hack who directed Safe House, they know how to use quick cuts to help tell a story, not to mention clearly knowing how to properly use the humor needed in a movie about a flaming skeleton on a flaming motorcycle.  In the first movie we got jokes like “My skull feels like it’s on fire.” Get it? Because it really is on fire at times?  Wow. The sheer wit.  Here, we get Nicholas Cage joking with a kid about what happens when he has to pee as Ghost Rider, which acknowledges the absurdity of his own situation as well as serving to allow him to bond with the kid.  Part of the reason is THEY AREN’T WRITERS AND DON’T PRETEND TO BE, actually bringing in screenwriters, including Batman Begins and Blade writer, David Goyer.  Contrast this to that fucking no-talent Mark Stephen Johnson who thinks he’s a writing/directing auteur but auteurs don’t have Daredevil, Ghost Rider and Simon Birch (a movie so ill-conceived John Irving put it in his contract that it couldn’t use the book’s actual title A Prayer for Owen Meany and I like to think he did it after meeting Mark Stephen Johnson and realized he didn’t want to be connected to anything this idiot did) on their resumes.  They also have the common sense to realize there’s no point in hiring Nicholas Cage for a movie about a flaming skeleton on a flaming motorcycle and asking him to play it straight and just allow him to do his thing.  I can’t recommend it to anyone other than my baby sister who loved Crank, but I also won’t turn the channel when I see running non-stop on Spike and FX in next year.



Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is down to number four and you have to love The Rock.  He is so just honestly self-effacing about crap like this. You know if it took it seriously there’d be no scene like “The pec pop of love” which was clearly written just for him. When straight action failed for him, he did what most do and went the family film route which is pretty much a guaranteed win and then went “safe” with the action by becoming part of the Fast & The Furious ensemble and the upcoming G.I. Joe franchise.  He’s just so sensibly honest and sincere about his film choices you can’t really hate on him no matter how much crap he puts out.  Seriously.  His best movie may actually be The Rundown. That’s not good.



Speaking of insanely untalented directors, McG, the man who may have been separated from Brett Ratner at birth is back to torment eyes and ears with This Means War (the latest failed attempt to cash in on Mr. & Mrs. Smith) opening thankfully very poorly at number five. While I’m a tad sorry for Reese Witherspoon who had one brief white hot moment as the highest paid actress in Hollywood, I kinda think she had it coming with her comments about how she’s basically above being in science fiction movie or an action lead. Great. That means you get to be “the girl” in shit like this instead of say, a secret agent who is dating two other secret agents or one of two female secret agents who are both dating the same guy.  This is basically the movie version of a threeway between two guys who are friends: the girl is only there so you can pretend you don’t really want to fuck each other.  Even someone as dumb as McG knows this, joking there should have been an ending where the two guys end up together.  Of course if he had a clue he’d know it was the only possible ending.  I love action movies and romantic comedies, but even this shit bomb was too much for me.  I can barely make it through the commercials, so sitting through 90 minutes of this would be impossible. Luckily for both Tom Hardy and Chris Pine they have Batman and Star Trek to fall back on.  Reese, on the other hand, had better start shopping around Legally Blonde 3.



Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace is down to number six, followed by Chronicle at number seven and like Safe House, it was made in South Africa which is part of the reason why it cost next-to-nothing resulting in $83M worldwide off a $12M budget.  Everybody’s getting cheese on their Whopper!



The Woman in Black is down to number eight with The Secret World of Arrietty opening at number nine and if this sounds familiar it’s because it’s a Japanese animated version of The Borrowers which has been made as a live action movie or TV series multiple times, most recently as last year…and I have never had an interest in a single interpretation.  Seriously? Tiny English people?  The big ones don’t interest me that much.



Finally we’ve seen Liam Neeson punch his last wolf as The Grey closes out the top ten at number ten.



Because I’m sad and weird, I don’t watch any of the “prestige” shows on premium cable like Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Nurse Jackie, Dexter, etc. Instead I’ll get HBO to watch the now-cancelled How To Make It In America and Showtime to watch Californication.  The latter network is most troublesome because while at least HBO will still have good movies, Showtime has nothing. Seriously.  99% of the time it’s shit you’ve never heard of with actors you either don’t know or have forgotten. “Oh, so that’s were C. Thomas Howell went.”  That said, occasionally something does pop up that may be worth watching and in this instance it was Brooklyn Boehme, a documentary about the brief “bohemian” movement in Fort Greene in the late 80’s early 90’s when a varied group of young, black creative types all found themselves living in the same area.  It intrigued me because I like to pick the scab of my failures and look at something noteworthy that was going on right next to me, of which I was vaguely aware but not involved in because I couldn’t get off my ass and actually pursue (which is so unlike today, where I’m just too old).  It’s not like reading about Paris in the 20’s, which you probably couldn’t have been a part of even at the time.  All this basically asked of me was to get on a train to Brooklyn and be social.  Writer/director/narrator Nelson George who grew up in Fort Greene interviews some of the most notable people from that time (Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Rosie Perez, Vernon Reid) to talk about how it came into being, what it was like and how it ended.  I was only able watch in bits and pieces because, like I said, it’s picking a scab and when it starts to bleed you stop and far too many memories of doing jack shit at that time period kept flooding my mind.  It begins by pointing out the original Fort Greene bohemian was none other than Walt Whitman, but for black bohemians it was Richard Wright who was the inspiration for Nelson George, the writer, director and narrator of the film.  Like so many black cultural nexuses it was a result of white flight.  A gorgeous, accessible neighborhood was left behind and black people moved in.  To illustrate this time he uses clips from The Miseducation of Sonny Carlson, a 70’s movie about growing up in Brooklyn that disturbed the shit out of me as kid and I feel justifies my choice to pursue Woody Allen’s New York movies instead, which lead me to Manhattan.  While well-intentioned, it stumbles occasionally trying to place too much meaning on that time as there’s ultimately not a lot of great work resulting from it.  Spike Lee, Branford Marsalis and Chris Rock are not Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Picasso. It’s only an hour and fifteen minutes but honestly even that is 15 minutes too much. When they get to the end of that “moment” nothing sums it up better than Chris Rock visiting his old apartment. There now is a nice white family from San Francisco who are happy to let him in—after which he hops into a towncar to leave.  Basically, it ended when people found success and left, not so much with them being forced out by returning whites (I saw Felicity there having sushi a few years back). Branford Marsalis who now lives in South Carolina says he knew it was over when he saw a giant Chase building going up.  Another person says Spike Lee did it when he sold his brownstone for an unheard of price and moved to the Upper East Side. Spike Lee initially doesn’t even mention leaving Fort Greene as he goes on a rant about it, but he felt he had to because apparently being famous in Brooklyn means people ring your doorbell at 4:00 am constantly. Rosie Perez’s neighbor says “Fuck them. They’ll leave for the next hotspot.”  The truth is, bohemian centers change with every generation and are almost always based on affordable real estate. This is acknowledged at the end with a mention of an apparently growing community of Black bohemians in Bed-Stuy—but considered a white girl from Jersey I know just moved there I’m thinking even that has already passed.



We’re riding again!  On Thursday, after taking what looked to be a large butter knife to my calf muscle (though it did wonders) my physical therapist cleared me to ride and as a result on Friday I bought a new bike from a Rock & Roll rental shop that was getting in its new line and had to move out the older models.  I sold my 17-year-old bike for $100 two weeks ago.  I bought a 2010 Trek 7200 for $150 so basically I paid $50 for bike just over a year old.   I’ve been on it literally every single day since. I even rode it to therapy this morning.  I felt a twinge of loss losing the old girl, but my new love (with awesome brakes and even shocks) is quickly supplanting those feelings.  As they say, the best way to get over an old love is to get on top of a new one.



So, I bought a camera. I guess I should say another camera as I already had one, but this is more like real camera with lenses and shit.  It’s a Canon Rebel T3, the beginner’s SLR camera.  No, I have no desire to be a photographer, but if you know me at all you know I love NYC in the rain, but when I looked for pictures of it, it was depressingly slim.  NYC in the rain at night, which is two great tastes together, was even sparser so I decided I’d take my own. First with my little cell phone camera then with my little Nikon Point-and-shoot.  The problem being because you can’t adjust it for a lack of light, they came up pretty short.  Yeah, it has a setting for night, but it’s more for a picture of a person at night, not say a building or a street.  Like any purchase I make over $5 I researched the hell out of it, starting late last year.  Good thing too, because it was going to take my broke ass some saving up as they pretty much start at $500 and that’s rock bottom.  I briefly considered going back a generation or two like I do with computers because it’s not like I’m going to be using the higher functions for a while anyway, right? But my friend OG pointed out that if you learn quickly you’ll outgrow that older camera and wind up having to buy the new one anyway.  I went over this for literally months and what finally pulled the trigger for me was tearing my calf muscle.  It made me miserable so that very night even before going to the hospital I went out and just bought one from Best Buy. I’d have gone to B&H but being orthodox they were closed Friday evening and not open again until Sunday and immediate gratification was needed.  I could have waited, as again like all my major purchases it terrified me at first. I’d put it together, be intimidated by all the buttons and functions then take it apart and put it away again.  I wouldn’t even touch it without washing my hands.  This went on for days.  Leaving the house with it, the actual purpose for it, took weeks.  I finally made that leap and am now in my own self-taught photography course as every group of shots teaches me what not to do.  My first venture into night photography was rendered obsolete by the purchase of a tripod.  It’s too complicated to explain here, but I wound up retaking every shot and they’re all a hundred percent better.  Ironically, what you learn first is, in the end the hardware doesn’t matter. It helps, but as any issue of Maxim can tell you, without “an eye” you could have the best camera and a beautiful girl in front of the lens and still come up with a crap photo.  Ansel Adams would probably come in his pants over what my little digital point and shoot could do, but I could never come close to his worst photos done with the technology available from a century ago.  Also, when talking to my personal tech guy, the man I hit up for info about almost anything hardware related from bikes to TVs, he sent me a link to Annie Lebowitz gushing about the camera in the iPhone.  One of greatest living contemporary photographers, a person most camera makers would pay to use their equipment and she’s in love with the camera on a cell phone. I think that says it all.

One Response to “I TURN MY CAMERA ON”

  1. Jean Lane February 21, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    I’m glad to see Goldcrest finally posted something you voluntarily watched (Brooklyn Boheme).

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