Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

Archive for December 2010

How Do You Know

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Dir. James L. Brooks


Punctuation is key when you want to understand How Do You Know. Mainly because that’ll be the joke that dawns on you while Paul Rudd hems and haws, Jack Nicholson raises his eyebrows, Reese Witherspoon gives a half-smirk and Owen Wilson will stop this sentence dead to remind you, “no, really. Punctuation. Because that last sentence ended in a period instead of a question mark. Like the title–you know, of the film? How Do You Know? See. There I used a question mark, but only because that was a question! I get points for that, right?”

In theory you expect more from James L. Brooks when this took a reported 20 years to prep for the screen. But How is important, since it plays extremely well on the language of America’s best kept secret: the nation’s capital. It throws an initial red herring out with “Arlington, Virginia” but the actual Do-ing hangs around the Chinatown/Navy Archives in Downtown DC before shifting over the Adams Morgan, played here in part to Brooks’ time lapse, as “slum city.”  George (Rudd) is a hapless nice guy who finds out from his father (Nicholson) that he’s being indicted by the Supreme Court for flimsy reasons that purely serve to introduce a relationship with Lisa (Witherspoon) who is a 31-year old Olympic Softball player cut from the 2011 team and floundering around a relationship with the baseball pitcher Matty (Wilson).

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December 25, 2010 at 11:47 pm

The Wolf Knife / Tiny Furniture

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A director’s background will always emerge when attempting a discussion and reading of their work. A brunt of the critics tackling Tiny Furniture immediately praised/lambasted writer-director-star Lena Dunham for casting her own mother and sister to play a version of themselves. It spiraled out from there: was Dunham attacking the “art world” that she grew up in? Was she equally stunted by the (now non-existant to anyone outside of)  Tribeca art scene? No matter what camp you find yourself in post-Furniture, these questions can rise much like Dunham’s own meteoric ascent from festival darling to writing/starring in and co-producing a new show for HBO.

Laurel Nakadate is a photographer and writer-director whose second film, The Wolf Knife, premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival. It has nothing to do with the art world and more in line with a coming of age story that unfolds against decaying americana–i.e. it is set in Florida and that place is fucking depressing. Nakadate, however, is best known amongst the performance art community in New York due to her work: she approaches men and then records the entire meeting while performing any request they ask of her. As a friend of a friend described her first film, Stay The Same Never Change: “She is the master of the stilted rape scene.”

So, why compare them? Clearly because they are both women. Petty? Of course it is. That’s also a terrible reason. I actually saw these films back to back and it became the type of double feature that grew on me as I thought about it. Both are products and functioning members of the New York art community; but one via her pedigree and the other based upon her body of work that has mainly stayed within the studio realm save for her two features. That seems like a far more entertaining “petty” reason than “hurr dey women and do the movie picture showz bout the baitin in new forks?”

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Written by john lichman

December 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Morning Glory

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Dir. Roger Michell

In the years to come, history will look back upon the world of news media with a simple debate: sugar vs. bran cereal. That’s the crux Morning Glory strives to an answer for, if you’re an over-analytical twit who can’t sit back and enjoy the light-hearted comedy that stars Rachel McAdams as the perpetually active executive producer of a morning news program so doomed it lives in the sub-basement of a media corporation.

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December 16, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Why I Will Apply To A Job on Twitter

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Disclosure: The only reason I’m writing this is because it has sort of gnawed at me recently during my daily malaise grind. Also, if you are someone whose job I applied to via Twitter, please know I am actually serious about this.

Being out of work after two years is a weird feeling. Mainly because I was out of work for three and a half months the last time around and spent every day refreshing Craigslist, Mediabistro and JournalismJobs before I lucked into a string of freelance work and then lucked into my (ex-)Current gig.

So a bunch of stuff has happened since then: I moved to Los Angeles (from New York and back home to DC). I became a glorified web/tv producer (and an event volunteer and–in the words of a very friendly man–“a fucking errand boy”). I started going to the YMCA while home (because I got too good at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2). But mostly I’ve been searching up and down the coast for full-time work. Now don’t get me wrong: freelancing’s great. I have friends who freelance. But as they’ve noticed, the work is drying up in our current environment and unless you can juggle 10 outlets at a time it can become rather stressful.

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December 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

An Idiot’s Otherwise Best Of The Rest in 2010

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These are the films that I just happened to see over the course of the year and some have not had an official release while others have. Also one I just plain ignored and then never got a chance to see. Here we go.

Best Theme Song That Makes You Want To Learn Kung Fu

Best Film Not Coming To A Theater Near You That Made Me Miss LITTLEROCK
The Wolf Knife

Best Sundance 2010 Film with David Hyde Pierce
The Perfect Host

Best Documentary You’ll Never See
The Parking Lot Movie

Best High Concept Horror Film

Best Indoctrination to Brass Eye
Four Lions

Best Recreation Of John Lichman’s Time In Los Angeles Sans Going Down On His Non-Existant Brother’s Dogwalker/Housekeeper

Best Meta-Film To See At Sundance and then Austin
Lovers of Hate

Best Comic Book Film

Best Detective Story/Best Ending
Cold Weather

Best Final Shot
Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl

Best Fight Sequence
Ip Man vs. 10 Black Belts

Best Film Everyone Else Saw That I Didn’t So It’ll Have To Be On This List

Best Use of Spacial Elements and Geography
Morning Glory‘s use of Manhattan/Brooklyn/Jersey City as being within walking distance of each other.

Best Use of Jason Statham in 2010
The Expendables