Saturday, September 11, 2004

Paranoia sucks

All week I lived in dread and fear that someone whose friendship and patronage I cherish had begun to hate me. This was on the basis of something I wrote in a newspaper that then got discussed in an Internet forum. I was living in dread and fear on the basis of gossip I heard secondhand in an Internet forum. What's wrong with this picture?

When I finally ran into this person last night, I watched her body language for evidence of loathing. I saw none. Next I hinted at the unpleasantness, but she didn't comment. So I tentatively, but explicitly, raised the topic of the unpleasantness, and it soon became clear that she had no idea what I was talking about. I explained; she listened and then affirmed what I wrote in the newspaper. Then she changed the subject.

Why am I so crazy?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Movie makeovers, part 2

In case you missed it--I almost did--SF Fan responded definitively to my recent query about movie makeovers. Here's the lowdown; I'm not worthy, etc.:

I've been blogging this one in my head for a long time:

Cher in Moonstruck is my favorite. Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. Melanie Griffith in Working Girl (Or in Something Wild--does that one count?). I've been told to check out Barbra's makeover in The Mirror Has Two Faces. Julianne Moore's slow-mo perm in Safe is an important one. And what about Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie? (The last one's questionable, I know, but it may be the only MTF drag transformation that qualifies in my book. Not at all like that clowny To Wong Foo shit. )

SF fan 09.07.04 - 11:50 pm #

Thursday, September 09, 2004

What kind of monster

I sometimes get the sense that the business of movie distribution is more chaotic than I'd ever guess. Case in point: the new rockumentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. I attended a press screening of this film back in July and filed a review, which is running in today's Isthmus, six weeks later.

Some Kind of Monster originally was supposed to open here early last month, but then didn't, and then didn't. It finally opened last week at Westgate, but the distributor apparently didn't tell anyone, so my review didn't run. It played one week there and then seemed to close, but this week it is showing at South Towne, of all places, with nightly showings next week at 6:30, only. Huh? This weekend there also are screenings at 9:15, if 6:30 doesn't fit your schedule.

For those of you not from around here: South Towne Cinemas is the last of Madison's mall-based multiplexes showing first-run films; the others long ago gave way to the exurban megaplexes. South Towne is a troubled shopping center in a troubled neighborhood, and it's the last place I would go to see a movie. In fact, I've never seen a movie there. So I'm a little amused that the Metallica documentary has ended up showing there and only there.

But the movie is great! There should soon be a link up on Isthmus' web site, but meantime, here's my review. I urge you to make a special trip to South Towne to see this fine documentary. While you're there, you can buy a cell phone.


Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

With Spinal Tap, it was drummers. Intentionally or not, the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster keeps evoking This Is Spinal Tap, the faux documentary about a rock group that hemorrhages percussionists. Metallica's personnel crisis is over bass players, but much else is the same: the baroque hairstyles, the snits that evolve into longstanding resentments, and above all the unflinching solemnity with which Metallica's permanent members discuss their work.

You'd be solemn, too. One of the most successful groups to emerge from the 1980s metal revival, Metallica produces music with a fierce integrity that has kept the group respectable, even as pop-metal excess drove competitors like Poison and Warrant toward bubblegum insignificance. Metallica's CDs sell in the zillions, but alt-rock dabblings in the 1990s alienated some fans, as did the group's 2000 campaign to keep their music from being traded on Napster, the then-illicit Internet music service.

So much was at stake when, in 2001, Metallica began recording what would become the 2003 release St. Anger. Fatefully, the group allowed the documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky to film the sessions (and, endlessly, the meetings surrounding them--this rock movie could use, as the radio people say, more rock and less talk). In films like Paradise Lost and Brother's Keeper, Berlinger and Sinofsky examined troubling events and teased out threads of ambiguity and uncertainty. So the Metallica boys must have known Berlinger and Sinofsky's film would be anything but VH1-banal.

And the filmmakers probably never dreamed they would be privy to such juicy stuff. As the sessions begin, Metallica looks, after 20 years of recording and touring, to be suffering from a collective case of nerves. The group hires a therapist to help manage their differences and tap creative energies, but by the time singer and guitarist James Hetfield decamps for rehab, halfway through the film, the future of Metallica looks bleak. In scenes reminiscent of Let It Be, the film that documents the Beatles' demise, Metallica members angrily swap insults and slam doors.

Of course, the sessions were ultimately successful, a fact foretold early on in snippets of television interviews promoting the new album. But it's clear that recording St. Anger was dismally frustrating for the band's members, especially Hetfield and cofounder and drummer Lars Ulrich. Like John Lennon and Paul McCartney before them (not to mention Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins), Hetfield and Ulrich were just kids when they started their band, and in Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, their marriage is showing its age.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Overheard in the Burns-Jarvis household

"I'm not angry; I'm just copyediting."
Jingle this

Like King Midas, I have a super power that is at once my bane and boon: I recall just about every commercial jingle I have ever heard, and as Ereck will tell you, I am liable at any moment to sing one. (I just remembered that I have mentioned this skill before.) For example, a trip to the conventional produce section at the co-op the other day found me breaking out into, "Nothing's too good for Daddy and me / Mom brings Del Monte home."

So I was delighted recently to run across this page, which has links to sound files of numerous jingles from my youth. Listening to these gives me Proustian moment after Proustian moment.

I'm inordinately fond of the Big Red song. Also, my recent viewing of a local production of Oliver! makes me excited about "Cheese, glorious cheese."

Monday, September 06, 2004

More exciting news

I'm using a new AOL Instant Messenger name: KennethRBurns. Chat me up, won't you?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Today's exciting news

You now can reach this blog by pointing your browser at