Tag Archive for 'film'


It’s been nearly 24-hours since I relaunched this weblog, and the feedback has been encouraging. Thanks to everyone who emailed or left a comment.

I talked last night about my desire to use a typographical grid for this design, but I also knew that this had the potential to look quite antiseptic and sterile. I thought of the comment that David Carson makes in the Helvetica film, as he points to the word “caffeinated” that has been printed out in Helvetica Black and hung on the wall next to other identical looking words: “This doesn’t say ‘caffeinated’!” To avoid the trap, I needed to work in a design element that would make things a little more interesting.

Continue reading ‘Splat!’

Best of 2003

Well, I’m late with my yearly round-up. I’ve enjoyed reading what other webloggers have written on 2003, and hopefully I’ve got something to offer. Here goes:


Yeah Yeah YeahsI won’t bore you with my theories of correlation between poor economic prospects and quality rock music—suffice to say, 2003 was a lousy year to look for work, but it was another excellent year for rock. Without any dominant “ism” (e.g., Alternative, Rap Metal, etc.) defining what was cool, smaller bands were given the chance to experiment.

  • Stellastar, Stellastar —The 80s are back, and I’m thankful for it. But to dismiss Stellastar as a Gothic throwback would be a crime— Shawn Christensen’s voice is more a post-punk David Byrne, (and I love basist Amanda Tannen’s backup vocals). My Coco is a great tune.
  • Blur, Think Tank —Ok, enough New York bands… Let’s talk about Blur. With their seminal guitarist Graham Coxon gone, and the Gorillaz side project behind him, Damon Albarn and crew turned out something no one expected—a melodic, measured, mature album, with some of the best album art by Banksy that I’ve seen. I miss the mod days of Modern Life, but this was a fitting evolution.


Lost in TranslationSummer movies still baffle me—I never saw The Hulk or X-Men 2—but there were a few interesting films sprinkled amongst the usual trash this past year. There were so many I missed this year, but here are a few worth considering:

  • Lost in Translation—I started a new job this year, and I work closely with a Japanese girl, whose English skills are… well, limited. So, this film was my favorite in 2003. I was rolling on the Cinema floor laughing during the “why do they switch their Ls and Rs” conversation. I’d marry Scarlett Johansson tomorrow.
  • In America—Jim Sheridan’s semi-autobio story of an Irish family moving to New York after the death of their son, was about as sweet and magical an experience as is possible at the movies. I hadn’t expected it to be so emotionally heavy, but there is redemption in the end.
  • Angels in America—I’ve never seen the play, but this 2-part HBO movie was exhilarating, inventive, and gut-wrenching. This film tackles the big questions of faith, love and identity.
  • Kill Bill—Uma and Quentin were back in 2003, and despite rumors that Kill Bill was going to suck, I really enjoyed watching Uma slice and dice her way through her addressbook. Part II is coming in 2004, so maybe we’ll find out who the hell Bill is anyway.


Howard DeanFor those of you in late-primary states who might not be paying attention, there’s a presidential campaign underway. Never in my lifetime have the stakes been so high—2003 showed us terrorism, preemptive war, tax cuts, budget deficits, job loss, and gay marriage (one positive, at least).

  • Howard Dean—Not only has Howard Dean single-handedly handed the Democrats their balls back, he’s re-written the campaign handbook and made blogging an important tool in reaching the Grass Roots. Silly establishment pundits are still dismissing him as the flavor-of-the-week (and weak), but I think he’s going to put up one hell of a fight, and he’ll be walking and talking a lot more like a traditional candidate after the primary.
  • Nothing else good happened in 2003. sorry!

Larry got it Right in Mystic River

salonlogo.gifAn open letter to the author of an otherwise good review of Mystic River in Salon:

Hello Ms. Zacharek,

I did enjoy your review of Mystic River, and am looking forward to seeing it this weekend. I especially enjoyed your observations on conceptions of neighborhood, and on the film’s sense of place.

While it’s true that Boston’s many neighborhoods are more self-contained than most cities’, I think it’s a leap to assume that this clannishness is total. It’s equally true to argue that all of Boston is insulated from other parts of the country. There is a distinct common Boston culture, which includes things like language, values, and traditions (red sox).

And while there may be an evident us vs. them dynamic between certain groups in the city, there is always a circling of the wagons when Boston is facing outward to the rest of the country. So there must be more to this place than the sum of its parts.

Which leads me to ask you about this:

His partner is played by Laurence Fishburne, who wasn’t told, unfortunately, that black people in Boston don’t speak with a Boston accent.

I know it’s a minor bone to pick, but what experience or knowledge did you use as basis for that comment? An assumption that only Irish-Bostonians drop their Rs and As? Michael Dukakis certainly would debunk that statement.

Visit an elementary school in Chinatown, and you’ll see the children of Chinese immigrants saying cah and pahk, just like many of their teachers. Maybe not to the exaggerated degree that you’d find on the South Shore or in the Kennedy family, but it’s there.

Would you similarly argue that blacks born and educated in Chicago don’t speak with a Great Lakes Mid-West accent?

The Boston accent originated in East Anglia, when the first English colonists came from. It’s been refined and extended by a immigrant groups of all kinds (not to mention a few of us transplants from other parts of the country). I think there is a mistaken assumption here, and I’d hate for non-Bostonians to get the wrong idea when watching this film.

Ned ned.suckahs.org

Now, I’m not a native Bostonian, but I have been here for nearly a decade — and I know many people that grew up in this town, and share the local accent– be they from hispanic, black, or other backgrounds. Does anyone disagree? Am I overreacting to a small bit in an otherwise good review?

UPDATE: Ms. Zacharek kindly responded to my letter:

Hi Ned — Thanks for your letter. I actually took great pains to make it clear that the clannishness shown in the movie isn’t total — the neighborhood of the movie seems to me very much like South Boston (though plenty of people are writing in saying, “No, it’s Charlestown!” or “No, it’s Dorchester!”) I think the point is, there ARE pockets of Boston that are particularly clannish, and Lehane’s story is predicated on that.

And the L. Fishburne line…I just went in and cut that from the piece, because it seemed to be a bone of contention with several people. I lived in Boston for 15 years (it was only four years ago that I left), and I never heard a person of color speak the way Fishburne does. Then again, all of Boston is set up so that a white person (like me) never needs to come into contact with a person of color unless he or she makes a great effort to do so. So it’s entirely possible that there are African Americans in Boston who speak like Mark Wahlberg and I just never heard them. In any event, it did seem like a misguided acting choice to me.

Anyway, thank you again for taking the time to write in with your thoughtful comments, and best wishes —

Stephanie Zacharek

I’m humbled that she responded so generously, but now that I think about it, I’m feeling a bit like the PC Police. I didn’t want her to self-censor herself, but I thought that I should say something.