Posts in Category: Become What You Are

Become What You Are

I’m back, baby!

Some of you might have found me through The Parallax Review, a film criticism website I agonized over for nine months before throwing in the towel, resigned to the fact that it’d take years—possibly decades—to break through the din of terrible Internet film reviews and become a legitimate voice. I have a life to live, and I won’t sacrifice it for a website unless it has naked chicks.

Some of you might have found me through my former blog, Stan Has Issues™, where I posted for nearly a decade under the anonymous guise of Stan McKagan (sometimes McCague). What started as the comic soap opera of my college years quickly evolved into an outlet for my frustration over certain movies I saw, certain scripts I read, and certain advice I saw preached on the Internet by so-called gurus who couldn’t tell their ass from a hole in the wall.

Some of you might have found me because you know me. Well… This is awkward. Here I am, letting it all hang out. Believe me, I need all the support I can get, but I’m not sure you want to read boring articles about screenwriting or stories about chronic masturbation.

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On Glee

[Sorry, Megan (and probably others). I know you love this show, but I just can’t get on board…]

This evening, I read a lot—perhaps too much—about these alleged dust-ups between various rockers and Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy. It started, I guess, with Kings of Leon (full disclosure: I’m such a square that I’ve never heard a Kings of Leon song, though to my credit I have heard of them), who received a verbal tongue-lashing from Murphy after turning down the opportunity to have their music featured on the show. Instead of taking it lying down, they got up in Murphy’s Twitter grille, making me wonder (not for the first time) how anybody can report on social media without laughing hysterically at the idiocy of it all.

But mine is not to reason why. Mine is to continue rambling about Slash, one of the greatest rock guitarists in the history of time, who further endeared himself to me by saying, “Glee is worse than Grease, and Grease is bad enough,” after which Murphy cattily responded, “Usually I find that people who make those comments, their careers are over; they’re uneducated and quite stupid.” Says the man who’s begging to feature his music…

Finally, the Foo Fighters weighed in on the controversy, after they, too, turned down Murphy’s request to use their music.

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Kick-Ass vs. Super

If any of you paid attention to The Parallax Review from the beginning, you’ll recall that I hated Kick-Ass. In one of our only contentious podcasts, Matt and I vehemently disagreed about the film’s quality and worth. I argued that the story was an unfocused, structurally unsound mess, that the satire was weak and self-defeating (by ignoring its own premise—that regular people have decided to act like superheroes—the moment Big Daddy and Hit Girl show up), and that the jokes were incredibly repetitive. Granted, it was more than a one-joke premise—it pretty much gave one joke to each character, then beat it into the ground repeatedly. Worse than all that, I never felt like I was watching a story about characters I could believe doing things I cared about. It’s merely a movie that tries very hard to be shocking and irreverent without having the narrative or comedy chops to back up its brazenness. (And even its brazenness was dulled quite significantly—disturbing and unfunny as I found Chlo&eum; Moretz as the foul-mouthed, ultraviolent Hit Girl, I probably would have believed in the character more, and found her relationship with Big Daddy more compelling, if he had been drugging her as he does in the comic. Granted, I haven’t read the comic, and I hear it’s quite awful, but by most accounts it’s much bolder than the sanitized-for-your-protection-but-still-pretending-to-be-aggressive-and-filthy film.)

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Mind-Blowing Joy

It’s hard to deny that, since I’ve relaunched the site, I’ve done little more than complain. Most of you should be used to that by now, but I told myself that I wanted to do more with this new site than merely vent my frustration about things that, in large part, make me quite angry at the time I’m ranting but evaporate quickly. For instance, I forgot I even wrote anything about Glee, because I stopped caring almost immediately after I hit the “Publish” button. (To that end, though, I do still think Murphy’s comments point in the direction of him being a terrible human being, and I’d have started boycotting his show even if I didn’t already find it unwatchable.)

So I’ve decided to devote today’s post to things that I love. Because, you see, even as I was bitching about Glee, I was in the process of binge-watching movies I hadn’t seen in awhile: Galaxy Quest, Moon (an unintentional Sam Rockwell sci-fi double feature!), The China Syndrome, Giant, and Rabbit Hole. Watching all these films in the span of a single weekend reminded me of something quite wonderful: I fucking love movies. It’s quite easy to lose sight of that when mired in draining pursuits designed to rob people of their love of the artistic power of a film. It’s really nice to just let a movie wash over you like a warm ocean wave, without having to analyze its artistic merits or commercial prospects, or thinking about how it fits into the current spate of releases, or thinking about anything other than what the film is offering.

I loved Rabbit Hole the first time I saw it. I couldn’t be sure whether or not I overvalued it, because I’d been mired in a sea of shit at the time I saw it. My viewing of it was surrounded by a handful of other theatrical releases—Casino Jack, Somewhere, Black Swan, and All Good Things—that were fucking awful, and I generally can’t stand Nicole Kidman. I had zero interest in seeing it, but I was the only one who could review it (being that it was released around Christmas), so I took the plunge, and I fucking loved it.

I watched it again, and I still fucking love it. It comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray on April 15th, and it requires your immediate attention. It got largely (and undeservedly) ignored at the Oscars, barely got a theatrical release, and was mostly dismissed, even by critics who liked it, as a dour, 21 Grams-esque film about grief. But that’s not what it is. Read the review I linked above if you want more information. My second viewing reaffirmed everything I felt the first time I saw it.

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Soul One

Everyone within the sound of my cyber-voice: if you live in Chicago or want a reason to visit, why not check out Soul One, a new play written by and costarring my friend, Travis Hughes. It runs Fridays and Saturdays throughout April, at the National Pastime Theatre. Tickets are only $15. There’s a special premiere this Thursday, March 31st, at 7:30. Read below for more information, then click the link to buy tickets.

Clock Productions will present the World Premiere of the musical “Soul One” by Travis Hughes opening Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 7:30pm at The National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago.

A thought provoking comedy about a rock star who regresses to his past lives and discovers ancient memories and the source of his soul’s suffering. Along for the ride are his group of companions who return over and over again as different incarnations of past encounters.

Appearing in the cast are Travis Hughes, his real life brother Ryan Hughes, along with Josh Baker, Robbie Bersano, Gemma Crowley, Donaldson, Linsey Falls, Amy France, Katy Nielson, Ilana Plen, Chad Ramsey, Nikos Brisco and Sasha Walloch.

The show is directed by Jesse Stratton with Don Alsifi as Stage Manager and David Denman as Producer and Set Designer. Costumes are designed by Sienna Macedon with Sound Design by Laurence Bryan and Props by Keely Haddad-Null. Lighting Designer is Steven Besic and musical composition by Nikos Brisco

“Soul One” opens with a special Thursday performance on March 31 at 7:30pm. Thereafter the regular run is Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm to April 30. There are no performances on Easter Weekend (April 22-23).

While you’re at it, why not check out Travis’s first novel, The Book of Perry? I read it last year and found it alternately funny, tragic, and thought-provoking. It’s worth a read. He put out his second book, The Primrose Path, in August. I haven’t read it (I only just now discovered it on Amazon—thanks for the heads up, T-Ride), but I did just download it to my Kindle. It appears to have won an Breakthrough Novel Award in the category of science fiction, and guess what? The Kindle edition is free. Free, I tells ya!

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Why Do I Even Try?

My disdain for Microsoft ebbed somewhat when they tried to stop being the Evil Empire and started using their enormous wealth for charity purposes. Also, Windows 7 was an incredible leap forward—finally, Windows is a usable operating system. More than that, it’s one I—gasp!—prefer to Mac OS X.

Today at work, I got a friendly reminder of why I should never give in fully to the cult of Microsoft. It starts, as these stories often do, with unmitigated administrator access to a computer that’s usually locked down tighter than a virgin Nazi oil drum. I discovered, quite by accident, that if I change the computer’s domain from the work network to the computer alone, I can login with the administrator username and a blank password. Since then, I’ve used it for little more than program updates—which I can’t install under my own username, thanks to all the restrictions—and, occasionally, Windows updates.

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A Case of the Mondays?

Saturday night, I watched Shutter Island, and I was displeased. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of getting the annoyance out of my system before I had the chance to blog it, and now I’ve stopped caring, so I’ll just say this: it has the worst musical score I’ve ever heard in a studio film. Worse than The Princess Bride!

To temper my disappointment, I decided to order used copies of The King of Comedy and Raging Bull—the only two Martin Scorsese films I really like—as part of a bizarre, possibly obsessive-compulsive quest to create the ultimate movie collection. (Please note: the ultimate movie collection is a deeply personal pursuit involving numerous factors. My collection won’t be like yours. There are a lot of rules.) That’s about all I have to say on the subject.

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