Bad form, Owen Wilson! (Link via Kittenpants.) I want to have slightly fewer of your babies now.
Great artists and other famous people who could (or couldn't) say the sentence "I am ridiculous."
Michaelangelo Matos holds forth on the June/July music issue of The Believer. Whereas I agree in theory that their indie-rock-centrism could stand to be toned down a bit in general, The Believer does tend to be extraordinarily good about featuring unconventional profiles of unconventional scientists and visual artists, which, coming from a "literary" magazine, seems ultimately more worthwhile to me than any attempt they could subsequently launch to provide unique and in-depth write-ups on the whole spectrum of cutting-edge musical genres. I mean, I would imagine that a large chunk of The Believer's readership consumes other magazines like Paste, Punk Planet, and Pitchfork (yes, I picked those three just for the alliteration), all of whose raison d'être is more specifically music-based, so it's not like we're hurting for music news and coverage on whatever microgenre we happen to be passionate about, y'know? But, I don't even know what I don't know about many interesting scientists and visual artists for the most part, so I'm perfectly happy to suffer through yet another interview with Jack White or Karen O if it means I can read an interview with the guy who sequenced the human genome. It just strikes me that Matos is looking a little too myopically through his own music reviewer lens here.
I finally finished Blink this weekend, and I luuurved it! I have a total nerd-crush on Malcolm Gladwell right now. He's a brilliant journalist. I'm in the mood to recommend this book to everyone.
CTLA, it's all you: a call for academic papers on Brad Pitt.
Never fear, I'll get to Mr. & Mrs. Smith in a moment, but I'd first like to rave about Mysterious Skin. It's definitely not a movie for everybody, but it's beautiful and challenging and rewarding for those who are willing to go with it to some unpleasant and uncomfortable places. It's one of the few movies I've ever seen where a character is repeatedly referred to by other characters as being "exquisite," "like a god," etc. without it being a cheap indicating trick from the screenwriter--when the character is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (yeah, I know; who knew?), he really is exquisite, like a god, etc., while still conveying multiple fucked-up layers of hurt, pride, mischief, loneliness, longing, confusion, boredom, frustration, and pure teenage lust. As pretty much all the reviews have mentioned, Gordon-Levitt gives an electric performance here, one that would be career defining if more people were likely to see it. Which isn't to say that he's the only reason to catch the flick.
I'm sure much of it can be chalked up to the source novel, but this movie deals with the issue of childhood sexual abuse in perhaps the least shrill and hysterical way I've ever seen. The film focuses on the parallel lives of two boys who share a lot of contextual similarities (absent father, doting mother, a close friendship with a slightly older woman) and how their paths diverge (and, of course, eventually converge again) after being molested in their youth by the same baseball coach. By tracking their respective paths, the film is able to present a provocative and well-rounded view of the ways that a traumatic event like that can completely redefine not just that person's perception of the world, but who that person is in relation to his world. It's also a beautiful illustration of the human impulse to force the circumstances of our lives to fit into our most gaping emotional holes in an attempt to, however imperfectly, get our needs met, to create meaning out of personal chaos. There's some clumsy dialogue and symbolism here and there, and, despite my love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I'm still not convinced that Michelle Trachtenberg could act her way out of a wet paper bag, but I have a feeling the overall impact of this movie is going to stick with me for a while.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a delightful, and delightfully lightweight, summer blockbuster. Though I vastly prefer the way the Kill Bill movies used two assassins' to-the-death rivalry as a metaphor for male/female relationships, Mr. & Mrs. Smith does achieve an approximation of screwball comedy's insouciant, double-entendre-laden banter. It gets a bit one-note after a while (the Missus shoots the Mister in the thigh and he's just kind of lovingly irritated with the accident), but I wasn't really expecting much else out of it to begin with. Yadda yadda, sex appeal, yadda yadda, are-they-or-aren't-they? All I have to say is, going back to Buffy [spoilers ahoy, CTLA, LBLA, KP, etc!], while superficially hot, the scene where Angelina and Brad have steamy and violent sex in the wreckage of their suburban home carries only a fraction of the weight that a remarkably similar sixth season scene between Buffy and Spike so famously does. Also, Adam Brody's "who are you people?!" was one of the best timed and delivered lines in the whole movie. And, yes, that's a fairly explicit slam on Vince Vaughn's movie-long Will Ferrell impression masquerading as a comedic foil performance. (Oh, snap!)