TORO! :: bull by the horns

an online compendium of culture and commentary

move with me…

Posted by rollinsloane on 7 April 2009

We’ve had some bold plans for this venture in place for a while, but alas, life out of the WWW does occasionally get in the way.

So…

Due to emotional constraints (blogging is not for the close-at-heart, HA), I am proud to announce the advent of a new and fresh and totally self-centered blog, BEAR: http://bjorninthewoods.blogspot.com/

Join us for times good, miserable, and downright Dionysian. TORO! is, for the moment, until prevailing winds (and hearts!) turn otherwise, officially defunct.

– sloane

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to earth, and beyond

Posted by rollinsloane on 28 March 2009

battlestar galactica

episode 4.12 – daybreak, pt 2.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/64690/battlestar-galactica-daybreak-part-2

official synopsis: “In the final episode, conflicts reach a climax while Cylons and humans face a stark choice.

 ——- quotes and comments and SPOILERS follow ——-

Hmmm…lots of drinking back there on Caprica. Come to think of it, lots of drinking (Saul, Starbuck) throughout BSG

God, you can’t even recognize Starbuck in the flashbacks. It seems like Katee Sackhoff is actually just doing another character…and it’s nice to know she’s got the range. I kind of like her in this goofy incarnation, flirty and bright but still so secure.

This young version of Lee is familiar to me – the earnest young politico, mad at the system but convinced of its necessity. So certain that his leadership will make things different.

Cheesy thank you speech from Roslin to Doc Coddle, but somehow observant, because doctors only get those kinds of thank yous on their own TV shows, and even then rarely. You know, Doc Coddle’s been a pretty stand-up guy throughout this series and they’ve never really given him the depth of a good background story or parallel plot (Deadwood, too, has a similarly affable-and-frequent-but-underdeveloped doctor character)

Not going to lie…I’ve never really bought the whole Gaius-cult thing as a legitimate story line…I understand what they were trying to develop, but it’s a bit too left-field for me.

Good lord, the battle scene music…ridiculous! Like, old-school Davy Crockett-style over-the-top.

Oooo, shades of Starship Troopers as they scour the Cylon ship with battles guns drawn.

I love Lee’s hilarious half-mullet. Whipping off that space helmet, he couldn’t possibly be more 80s.

It’s hard to fathom how high the stakes are in these aerial dogflights….all that stuff flying at them, and any single slightly wrong move could kill them instantly.

The Cylon examiner gets a Deep Blue Sea-style death (remember Samuel L. Jackson getting chomped mid-speech by the shark?) after calmly telling Boomer that “In the end, it’s all mathematics.” She then swiftly breaks his neck in the name of some vague emotion. Score one hugely  obvious narrative point for the theme of Heart Over Head.

Then Anders comes back (in one of his creepy catatonic monologues) with  “Open your mind and hear what your heart wants to deny.”  Point for Head Over Heart?  

Cylon (re Boomer’s significant betrayal): “Never should have trusted her.” Dean Stockwell: “Trust didn’t enter into it. I simply miscalculated her need to engage in gestures of futility.” – Ice-cold! But so well-phrased. Isn’t that a lovely way to think of trust?

Does Caprica 6, Baltar’s Cylon-ghost-invisible friend, say that she wants to be proud of him or part of him? “I always wanted to be proud/part of you. I guess I always felt that was the only thing missing.” It’s either maternal or creeper, but odd either way.

WHA! Does Caprica 6 have her own slinky, manipulative Baltar in her head? That is awesome. Totally appropriate. Another comment on relationships, perhaps…isn’t it an unrealistic image that serves as our inner motivation? Of course, BSG gives it its own oddball sci-fi twist with the suggestion that these internal images also served the characters in some sort of mystical Fates capacity.

Ummm…how did Athena and Starbuck and Helo et. al get to Boomer and Hera soooo fast? What are the lay-outs of these ships that they’re so easy to navigate? 

Interesting, Athena shoots Boomer in the stomach…not up to the task of shooting her own image in the face?

You know, filming some of this stuff must seem so silly on-set, the emotional marching through the hallway, etc.

Interesting image – Baltar leads the way while Caprica 6 holds the child and wields the gun.

I’m sure it’s supposed to mean something that the most intelligent human (man) and most beautiful Cylon (woman) continually compose the series’s favorite hybrid family image instead of plain old goody-two-shoes Helo and Athena, the hybrid child’s actual parents.

It’s Baltar who gives Dean Stockwell the last speech for mankind — and it’s about the beauty of faith? Is this really what humankind represents? 

Baltar’s ‘angel’ version has a seriously 70s porno vibe going on.

So, Chief kills Tori after finding about her instigation of Callie’s death…I wondered if Tori was ever going to get some comeuppance for that.

Isn’t Lee’s optimistic vision for giving the Earth natives the Capricans’ “best parts” a bit resonant of the Cylons’ attempts to create a new, more perfect race? And didn’t that not go so well? Also, the paternalism of the technologically advanced white man bearing down on African natives….shaky, questionable ground to tread, although I understand the historical point the creators are trying to make – the insinuation that these were our forefathers.

So they all get to Earth, only to go off into their own directions. Huh. So much for solidarity.

Ew, Baltar and Caprica 6’s last little bit of editorializing on the streets of present-day Manhattan, critiquing excess materialism, etc…snore. Although, how funny – those are indeed real, creepy Japanese robots! Our next downfall is eminent!

Overall, I must say, I’m happy with this BSG wrap-up…I’m satisfied. Even Starbuck’s ugly wing tattoo gets explained (*ahem, as she’s an angel). The flashback sequences were a wee hammy, but BSG has always been a wee hammy — that was really part of its draw.

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michael rides again

Posted by rollinsloane on 27 March 2009

michael scott revs to glory   

michael scott revs to glory

the office

episode 5.19 – two weeks 

http://www.nbc.com/The_Office/video/episodes/?vid=1073183 (Original Air Date: 3/26/2009)

official synopsis: “Michael gives Corporate two weeks notice, giving him freedom to do whatever he wants in the office.”

———–

oscar: “I love a good quitting story…it makes me feel like I have control over my own life.” so sad, so true

michael’s new drink: scotch and splenda! note to self…

michael lounging around drunk at work with just a week left…yes, michael is an idiot, but come on – you know that’s what you would want to do

michael, deferential and sarcastic to new all-business boss: “your ‘I need you to’ is my command.”  

the brief exchange between the new outside managerial hire, politely signing in with pam, and michael, lulling boozily on the reception area sofa. it would make for an interesting situation even without michael’s buffoonery

kevin to pam, re the still-broken copier machine: “you said it would be ready by today, and it is today.”

monsters scream on michael’s computer. jim responds instantly – “it’s monster.com” – revealing his familiarity not just with monster.com (the job site), but with the same stupid misspelling that michael just committed.  brilliant snippet.

michael, in reaction to pam’s gentle discouragement after announcing his new plans to start his own paper company: “I have had this dream since lunch, and I am not giving up on it now.”

michael tells andy that he’s starting his own paper company. andy: “in this climate?” michael: “in all climates. I’m going worldwide.”

dwight’s reaction to hearing (from andy) that michael was starting his own paper company…I had to watch it twice. he and michael go through so many little uncertain jerks and emotional twists and not a single full sentence

meredith, as pam shows off her copier skills, in total boredom: “little miss thing wants attention.” zing!

I feel for pam in her travails against the copier…I have so many little gadgets that bewilder me so much that I’d rather not use them than sink time trying to fix and understand them, and to be beaten by them in public is truly frustrating. worse yet, humiliating

michael scott vs. the man

michael scott vs. the man(s)

angela and kelly’s perpetually man-hungry dating styles…meh

toby’s somehow sweet, somewhat summarizing reaction to michael’s sudden departure: “michael’s like a movie on a plane. You know – it’s not great, but it’s something to watch.” (sidenote: doesn’t that seem to broadly apply to a lot of things in life?) “and then when it’s over, you’re like, how much time is left on this flight? now what?”

michael crawling camo-style across the office after being kicked out…actually somehow moving when you think about it

pam with michael, kevin at reception, stanley suddenly promoted…give the writers credit, they know how to mix things up without changing the core set-up

the nice-guy cometh

the nice-guy cometh

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some humor for funny games

Posted by rollinsloane on 14 March 2008

Naomi Watts stars in Michael Haneke’s current update of his own 1997 cinematic spectacle of “arthouse torture-porn.”  LA Citybeat critic Andy Klein’s headline: Watts No Riot.  Ha.  That’s balls.

Ollie 

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filmdom: george lucas via saul bass

Posted by rollinsloane on 7 March 2008

Would all of cinema be better if Saul Bass did the credits?  Absolutely.  Check out what some crazed uber-fan of the poster/credit sequence master put together as ludicrous homage: Stars Wars, re-intro’d.  I can’t wait to see how Saul would have imagined Indy.

Ollie

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huzzah: megan garber tells it like it is

Posted by rollinsloane on 7 March 2008

In the meta-media industry of watchdogging the watchdogs, perhaps no single institution offers more valuable analysis than the Columbia Journalism Review, self-described as yes, a watchdog, but ultimately a caring 0friend to the multi-faceted industry that is the press.  And within CJR, perhaps no single observer takes the media to task with as much panache as Megan Garber.  Her salty, nuanced tirades against inanity and sensationalism express such frustration and disbelief that editors and producers responsible should want for sleep the night after a mention.

Garber rolls her eyes at the New York Times‘ “proud tradition of publishing stories about Trends You Didn’t Realize Were Trends Until the Times Let You Know They Were.”

Yesterday the Grey Lady cast her storied gaze on a trend of a More Serious Variety: drunkorexia. (No, not a typo: again, drunkorexia.) The “phenomenon” is exactly what the compound name implies: anorexics consuming alcohol—either “to calm down before eating or to ease the anxiety of having indulged in a meal.” Now, to be clear, “drunkorexia is not an official medical term,” the piece points out. “But it hints at a troubling phenomenon in addiction and eating disorders.”

Garber identifies the true trend at work here — “trendinanity” — although the scolding is a light as its subject matter.  She saves true vitriol for the classically poor-taste “Women Are Dim” article that the Washington Post featured last week.  Charlotte Allen’s piece was apparently intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but Garber doesn’t let even mild intentions slide.

Well, that explains it! Her piece isn’t pandering to silly stereotypes; it’s transcending them. But in such a cleverly subtle way as to be entirely undetectable: it’s so meta that you can’t even tell it’s meta! Allen’s tongue is so firmly in cheek, apparently, she could choke herself.

But irony’s a tricky little weapon; if you’re going to use it, of course, you have to brandish it brazenly enough for people to know it’s there. Allen, alas, did not. Believe me, I looked—Feminine Empathy and whatnot—for some hint of the sarcasm that would redeem both the article and its author. I found none.

Someone’s got to the patrol the popular press, and I for one am glad we’ve got Megan Garber to do it.

— Sloane 

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mmm…pretty panoramas

Posted by rollinsloane on 5 March 2008

The magic of the internet has put the magic of awesome photography at our fingertips in any number of forums (Flickr, lomography), but maybe none are quite as awesome as viewat.org.  Featuring a collection of panoramic views from locales worldwide, it’s like taking a two-minute vacation in the middle of work.

Rafe 

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terrible review: was this guy even at this concert?

Posted by rollinsloane on 5 March 2008

This past Sunday found me in the upper balcony of the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a musical tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, an unmatchable talent whose predilection for standards has basically ensured that all posthumous tributes inevitably end up sounding more Supper Club than soulful blues-jazz. Mercifully, the LA Phil’s line-up instead swerved across genres, featuring the Broadway showmanship of TC Carson and traditional vocals of Ann Hampton Callaway and Janis Siegel. Carson’s jazz hands were the best of that genre and both ladies could belt and scat with equal ease, but the evening belonged to self-proclaimed “new kid on the block” Ledisi. This chick may not have the biggest pipes, but she works her distinctive reedy twitter with real aplomb, and she offered Ella’s vocal creativity the show’s only totally cheese-less tribute.

ledisi

Ledisi only got two of the program’s dozen-odd songs, but somehow she ended up with the two most ripe for some good old teeth-sinking — “Fly Me to the Moon” and the night-ending “Blues in the Night.”

Maybe she doesn’t deserve all the credit for her final audience-winning number. Ledisi was simply balm to the hall’s tortured ears, coming as she did on the heels of professional jazz hack Mark Murphy. If Will Ferrell hadn’t already mocked Robert Goulet to the smooth-crooner hilt, Mr. Murphy would be f-ing ripe for parody, with his personal accompanist and great dead possum of a coif.

mark murphy


Good lord, this guy poured his voice into such cringe-worthy classics as “Body and Soul” with all the subtle finesse of a ladies man at a singles’ bar.  His embarrassing display of god-awful taste was only matched by the LA Times‘ inept reviewer.  Damn you, Don Heckman!

The inner creativity — the quest to make a song her own — that was at the heart of Fitzgerald’s singing was best illustrated by veteran vocalist Mark Murphy…Finding the heart of the stories, moving lyrics around, winging freely across the harmonies, he transformed classics into up-to-the-minute interpretations, simmering with emotional density. Just the way Ella would have done.

Hoooooly cow, buddy, have you ever heard Ella Fitzgerald?  This is pure blasphemy, the editorial equivalent of giving a cute script an OSCAR (ahem, Juno) or a tribute album a GRAMMY (ahem, Herbie).  In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say this is why the newspaper business is failing — Don Heckman, pure and simple.  Congratulations, Mr. Heckman.  I’d curse you to a hell of Mark Murphy live and in person, but somehow that’s not punishment enough.

Ollie

 

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sexploitation at fairfax’s silent theater

Posted by rollinsloane on 1 March 2008

It’s hard to consider Fairfax’s Silent Movie Theater a hidden LA gem, especially considering the packed house that showed up for last night’s screening of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (even the theater’s 3-to-a-seat couches were stuffed, presumably by some uncomfortable strangers). But I certainly haven’t come across much press coverage of what must be the top arthouse theater in this very movie-minded town. Even my LA-born-and-bred cinephile butt had never before been; last night’s wham-bam conclusion to SMT’s Russ Meyer month proved the perfect introduction.

The thin wooden seats are too hard and too close together, but they all come with plump corduroy pillows and it’s the sort of place where you might get to know your neighbor anyway. In lieu of pre-screening ads or trailers, the 4×3 screen played a real police training video from the 70s featuring “To Shoot or not to Shoot” scenarios (hilarious for its paranoia, frightening for being real), and I for one didn’t miss the bogus pre-show usher speech now playing in every hoity-toity cineplex in this goddamn town.

Then on to the main event. Where to even begin. Pussycat (1965) is trash cinema at its most innocent, as if all involved were simply riding high on the freedom of being totally outrageous. Its violence is unmotivated, but cleanly bloodless; it oozes with the sexuality of tight leather and innuendo, but plays it for laughs and holds it to mere kisses. Pussycat wise cracks — it’s too happy-go-lucky to offend.

Don’t get me wrong, though — it’s still sexploitation. How many countless feminist film majors have earned their Ph.D with a lengthy examination of writer-director-producer Russ Meyer‘s sexual politics? This man’s bread-and-butter was the burgeoning soft-core industry; as a Playboy centerfold photographer, Meyer was in the perfect place to nudge the new, ahem, art form along. But Pussycat‘s backbone remains its strangely theater-ready script, a tangle of fascinating character dynamics that go beyond its ludicrous plot.

Basically, three go-go dancers-cum-renegade bad-asses stalk the California desert in a trio of sweet 60s sports cars. That’s it. Along the way they terrorize a wholesome young and try to rob a crippled rancher and his two sons, and murky chaos ensues. But mostly they wear tight close and sling about their fantastic hair. Led by tough-talking fem-sadist Varla (Tura Satana, with her own soap operatic backstory and a downright perfect name), these sex-starved ladies (played by embodied by Haji, a purring Italian-looking Canadian, and Lori Williams, the ultimate all-American blonde) could single-handedly bring back high-waisted jeans.

 faster pussycats

(Let’s just hope Quentin Tarantino’s recently announced desire for a remake featuring Eva Mendes, Kim Kardashian and Brittany Spears will never in a million f-ing years come to pass.  I can’t even believe I just read that.  I mean, I know he’s all about the homage, but if he does this out of love it would the ultimate in cinematic OJ Simpson. )

Check out the trailer below for a full-dose of the old-school soundtrack and cheesetastic acting:

Sexuality and strength and violence are all twisted up in there somewhere, and one of these days I’ll get my head around the mess. For now I’ll just be heading to the Silent every chance I get. This month’s calendar includes Philip Marlowe and 30s chorus lines, so feel free to shun Hollywood’s annual crap period and still get out to a hell of a show.

Sloane

faster pussycat kill kill poster

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poster art for the cult set

Posted by rollinsloane on 29 February 2008

sweet warriors movie poster by tyler stout

Courtesy of the fine folks over at /film:

Two words: Tyler Stout.  This man needs some cinephile lovin, so pucker up.  In an age of Photoshop and shamefully juvenille studio graphics, this dude has managed to triumph with good old pen-and-ink, winning over the likes of retro-master Quentin Tarantino thanks to an f-ing rad gift for uber-detail.  With posters for movies, concerts and film festivals under his belt (not to mention fabric — there are some sweet hoodies on the market, s’all I’m saying), Mr. Stout has an impressive resume already going; as soon as I get my blockbuster monster-movie epics in the works (any decade now…), I’ll be enlisting him for some iconic design.

Ollie

sweet movie poster for big trouble in little china by tyler stout

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