Throbbing Skunk Ape Official Homepage

Welcome. I am Caley Middleton and this is a glimpse into my world. You'll see what I see, defile what I defile, eat who I eat. I really can't fathom why you'd stop by, but if you do please leave comments! I absolutely crave, attention.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

"I’ve learned I was part of someone else’s happiness. What a wonderful discovery."
-After Life

After Life (dir. by Hirokazu Koreeda): I was reading reporst from the Cannes film festival, and came across the name Hirokazu Koreeda who is showing a film there, and remembered the movie After Life which is one of the few movies I have rented despite no build-up prior to watching it. I asked my brother if he would like to see it, as an excuse to rent it again at a time when I should be out looking for a job. It's such a beautiful movie. It's definitely not for everyone, though, as it moves very, very slowly. But, the shots of Shiori walking through the bamboo forest, the city streets at night, and kicking around snow on a rooftop or more than worth the price of a rental alone. The story of After Life is that, after you die, on a Monday, you are taken to this building, which looks a lot like a run-down hotel. There, you are instructed that on Wednesday, you will have to choose your favourite memory of all your life, and the people in charge will do their best to recreate it on film. Once you watch you memory, you will be take elsewhere, remembering nothing from your entire life save for the memory you just watched. One of the things I find most fascinating about After Life, is that for a movie about what happens after death, the movie does not dwell on death, but, instead, focusses on life. The characters don't lament their deaths, or even carry on about how it happened (the most information you ever learn about someone's death is that he died during the war). If the characters complain, it is about wasting their life, not the unfairness (and in some cases these are fairly young people) of their death. Another amazing aspect of the movie, is the prescence of Susumu Terajima. You should be able to recognize him from countless Takeshi Kitano movies, he's always there, and more often than not he's a tough as nails yakuza underling. In After Life he's a kind, caring, counsellor, and a despondent deceased father. It's really strange to see.

SPOILER: The unfulfilled love between Shiori and Mochizuki is among the most heart-breaking ever. Mochizuki decides that after some 40-50 years of working there, he has finally made up his mind about which memory he will choose. He chooses the memory, after finding out he is in someone else's memory: "I’ve learned I was part of someone else’s happiness. What a wonderful discovery." He assures Shiori that one day she will find that same happiness. But, she says she cannot. She says she can never choose a memory, b/c that will erase everyone and everything she has come to known in the after life. When they sit down to watch his final memory, and after the lights come up, and Mochizuki is no longer there, it just says more about life and death than words ever can. END OF SPOILER SECTION.

But, what this movie does best, is make you analyze your own life. There is no way you can watch it without thinking "What memory would I choose?" After doing much thinking on it, I think I would choose a day from September 2002. I went with a friend to visit a friend who'd moved to Washington state,and, on our last day there, we decided to see the ocean. And we went to Seaside, Oregon. We ended up at the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. I read somewhere that the beach is 15 miles, and I would believe it. Not only is it immense, but it is absolutely, positively rock-free. I don't remember a single rock on that beach. I almost fell asleep instantly once I layed down upon the sand. That night, we came back and watched the sun set over the ocean. Some people had set up bonfires on the beach. Everyone was so nice. A man in the background played a ukelele while another sang in some Island dialect. That beach, as of right now, would be the one memory I would have to take with me. If only there were some way to take memories of people who weren't there along.

ps: Everyone should go to this site right now and download Clive Holden's amazing CD. I first discovered it via Sean and every single song is amazing, just Holden reciting his poetry over some slight music by people whose names I can't remember save the two guys from the Weakerthans (Jason Tait and John K. Sampson).
xoxo

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

"Everybody loves this movie. Why be mad? It's only a comedy movie. It's not real. It's a comedy movie. Be mad at "The Passion of the Christ" or something — something that made $700 million off of killing Jesus the whole movie. We having fun. We smiling. Enjoy."
-Snoop

Man, Snoop is the king. There's an interview over at mtv.com (linked below) where he talks about things. The above quote came from that interview. This one, too.

“ MTV: So the word is that you've been telling people the "izzle" is over.
Snoop Dogg: The message is LIG: Let it go. OK, America? Let it go. You can't say "izzle" no more. Tizzle, fizzle, dizzle — none of that. It's over with. LIG. Let it go.
MTV: What happened?
Snoop: I overdosed on it. I'm seeing it everywhere, you know what I'm saying? It's like, it becomes bad after it becomes too much, you know what I'm saying? I overdosed off of it. So let's find something new. Maybe pig Latin, anything. Come on."


Here it is, in its entirety

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Saturday, May 22, 2004

"For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see."
-Lynyrd Skynyrd, Freebird {I blame Freaks and Geeks for making me like this song}

]Signs(dir. by M. Night Shyamalan): I was typing out a story today and the topic of corn stalks came up (don't ask!) and it reminded me of Signs, so I decided to pop it in. I love this movie. People who complain about the abscence of aliens, method of harming the aliens, etc. etc. are missing the point of the movie. It's not an alien movie, it's a movie about religious faith that involves aliens. You know, from reading some of these posts, you would get the impression that I was the staunchest of christians. Yet, I don't even go to church, or even proudly proclaim myself to be a christian (I was born a snake handler, I'll die a snake handler). But, for some reason, songs (Jesus Walks by Kanye West), movies (such as this), and books (A Prayer For Owen Meaney by John Irving) that reaffirm their characters' religious faith, absolutely enthrall me. This movie is no exception. The movie is not about aliens attacking Earth, it is about Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his grappling with his own loss of faith. The death of his wife has erased all remenants of faith from the former minister, which leads to some powerful moments such as when he declares at dinner "I will not waste another minute on prayer", or when his son is experiencing an asthmatic attack and Hess says "Don't do this to me again...I hate you." The other aspect of this movie that I like is that nothing is wasted. Everything in the movie, is in it for a reason. Everything adds up to come to the conclusion. Just like the aforementioned Irving novel, Signs pulls it all together into a neat little package in the end and leaves you making endless revelations: "Oh that's why [he/she] [said/did/does] that." And as far as complaints about the aliens largely being absent from a movie about alien invasion, I think it's better this way. The more you see a clear view of an alien in a movie, the more the flaws inherent in its design become obvious. Signsis smart in that there are very few clear shots of the alien, which makes it easier for its audience to suspend their disbelief. Joaquin Phoenix is sooo good in this, too, good enough for me to forget that Mark Ruffalo was supposed to play his part.
xoxo
{EDIT}Fixed the html, man, am I stupid or what?

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

On a lonely message board, somewhere, someone started a thread asking what their favourite driving music was b/c he was thinking of making a CD. So, I thought that would be a fun blog activity that no one else could possibly be interested in, except for me, so here it is, the official Caley Middleton Drivin' Music List.

-Moby, Feeling So Real: This song could go under the sub-heading 'Cruise Control', this is one of those songs that makes me drive really fast.
-Cowboy Junkies, Blue Moon Revisited: This goes under the 'Cruise Control' heading, as it makes me slow down to an almost crawl as I bob my head and do 40 down the highway.
-Death Cab For Cutie, A Movie Script Ending: This is a driving song, b/c Ben Gibbard says "highway" a lot.
-Built To Spill or Lynyrd Skynyrd, Freebird: And if the Cat Power version were longer than 40 seconds, it would be on the list, as well.
-Built To Spill, Else: also doubles as a Summer song
-SIANspheric, I Like The Ride: ditto
-Jets To Brazil, I Typed For Miles: Nothing better than blaring the last lines: "You keep fucking up my life" out the window.
-Last Days of April, Piano: Another summer/driving song. This makes me long for Hawaii (though I've never been).
-Last Days of April, Down The Aisle: I really really like Last Days of April. Really.
-Godspeed You Black Emperor, {the first song off Disc 2 of Lift Your Skinny Wrists Like Antennas to Heaven, I don't know what it's really called): But this has to be of driving trips that are at least half an hour in length, particularly from Washington to Oregon in the fall.
-Death Cab For Cutie, Photo Booth: For a while, I'd actually convinced myself that I didn't sound half-bad singing this song. But, alas, it's just those wonderful in-vehicle acoustics.
-The Postal Service, Natural Anthem: It's good.
-The Postal Service, Such Great Heights: When the lines "That frankly will not fly/you will hear the shrillest highs and lowest lows with the windows down/when this is guiding you home" hit I always drive faster in a sudden rush, if only I had someplace to be...
-Justin Timberlake, Like I Love You: b/c it friggin' rules!
-Kylie Minogue, Love At First Sight: Goodbye indie cred, hello singalongs and strange looks at stoplights.
-The Dismemberment Plan, The City: particularly good when driving through the city
-Death In Vegas, Girls: I pretend I'm Bill Murray arriving in Tokyo with this playing.
-Air, Alone In Kyoto: I damned near had a religious experience driving toward a sunset on lonely Old Vernon Rd. one day.
-Massive Attack, Unfinished Sympathy: I love to listen to this while I drive, can't seem to tolerate it at any other time.
-Nick Drake, Pink Moon: I'll come clean, I hadn't heard of Drake until that Cabriolet commercial. I still like to listen to this song at night and pretend I'm avoiding driving to parties, too, even though it's not really pretending.
xoxo

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Sunday, May 16, 2004

"Octopus on standby!"
-Kikujiro

There have been few and far in between music posts, and I must admit to a general disinterest in most upcoming music. Lately I've been listening to a lot of music that comes from movies like Faye Wong (Chungking Express ), The 6ths (from Pieces of April , and anything I can track down by Joe Hisaishi (almost every Takeshi Kitano or Hayao Miyazaki movie). So, here are some more films I've seen recently.

Troy (Dir. by Wolfgang Petersen): This rates a big ol' "meh". I was helped by my lack of knowledge of The Illiad. I know the basic premise (actually, I probably don't...), but I don't know any of the details, such as the involvement of the gods, which was helpful, b/c the gods weren't involved anymore in this movie than they are in a philosophical WWII movie ("God look over us", "God will punish them" etc. just substitute "Appollo" for God). I will say that this is likely as good of a movie as you are going to see that feature two pro wrestlers in prominent roles (Nathan Jones and Tyler Mane). Anyways, this movie reminded me a lot of Lord of the Rings without the fantastical elements. So kind of a historical, action war movie. Brad Pitt is fine as Achilles, I suppose. He pouts, he fights, he pouts and pouts and fights, pout pout...you get the idea. Orlando Bloom assumes the role usually reserved for Asia Argento, Shannon Elizabeth or another actress of their ilk, and that is as the eye candy. He really didn't do much, except get beaten up, look intense, look sad, and shoot arrows (type-casting?). Eric Bana is awesome as Hector, and could really turn this into a big break for him, seeing as Hulk was such a colossal failure (though I loved it so...). Brian Cox is SWARTHY as Agememnon. It's hard to say that anyone other than Bana was good in the movie, b/c so few of them are given anything of note to say. I will say at 2.5 hours + of movie, this felt much longer than any of the LOTR movies, and I didn't love any of them, either. Anyways, go see this if LOTR is your bag, re-read The Illiad if you're into the gods. Don't say I told you so, b/c I didn't really.

Kikujiro (Dir. by Takeshi Kitano): This is like the polar opposite of the above. Well, sort of... It is actually fairly long, as well. I've really come to love Kitano's ultra-violent yakuza stories, b/c there is always something deeper involved. These aren't flashy shoot 'em ups for the sake of style, but instead he uses his bloody films to explore issues of mortality, the ends justifying the means, family, brotherhood, fate, living up to potential etc. etc. So, I was curious what this film would be like, as instead of another yakuza parable, it's the story of a particularly cantankerous man, accompanying a young boy on his trip to find his real mother, whom he's never met. And it is really great. Kitano is hilarious as the abusive Kikujiro, who treats everyone shabbily, even those that help him, save for the kid (well, not at first). It probably isn't a film for everyone, as they say, b/c it's slow-paced and there is a lot of general weirdness (the winking frog whose eyes suddenly grow. But, my brother and I enjoyed the hell out of it. And I always neglect to mention how good Kitano's soundtracks are. And that can be chalked up to Joe Hisaishi whose score is so soaring and sad that even scenes that may not initially resonate with you, will find you almost tearing up when the music kicks in. I would say, save your money and skip Troy and see this, but chances are, if the previews to Troy have appealed to you, than you will enjoy it (translation: there ain't a lot of surprises). But then, afterwards, rent Kikujiro, you'll either be pleasantly surprised, or genuinely annoyed with me.
xoxo

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

"Don't "little girl" me. I've been carrying this family on my back for over a year, ever since Frankie died. He's my brother too. It's not my fault he's dead. It's not my fault I'm still alive."
- In America

Like the new look? Me neither. But, for some reason, this shocking pink blog is the only one for which I have been able to get my comments working for, so I think I shall stick with it. Anyways, some guy is calling me "way gay" in one of the comments, so this should just cement his accusations. Anyhooooo...Covered some movies from 2003 that I've been meaning to see for a while now, and well...here we go,

Elephant (Dir. by Gus Van Sant): You know this is the first Van Sant film I've ever seen. I rented Good Will Hunting once, but forgot to watch it. I do like Ben Affleck, though, and will defend him to the death for Chasing Amy. I liked this, well, that's not fair. It's not exactly a movie you can say you liked, b/c it is just so unnerving/disturbing. In case you don't know, this is the big winner from last year's Cannes film festival about the Columbine shootings. It just kind of slowly meanders from student to student. We see them interacting, we see the very surface of the characters, but we never really get to know them. The two kids in question who perpetrate the shootings aren't exactly given motives. Van Sant himself said somewhere (I forgot where, Ebert maybe?) that he doesn't know what caused the shootings, so it would be wrong of him to assign blame anywhere. He hints at the roots (bullying, video games) but never says "they killed them becase of..." It is really a heartbreaking movie, b/c like its real-life counterpart, it's just so senseless and surreal. You know the shooting is coming, in fact, the more you watch, the more you can pinpoint exactly when it is coming, but that doesn't soften the blow any. I had the hugest knot in my heart while watching it, and that knot didn't subside for hours. That said, I can't tell if I loved it, liked it, or disliked it. In some ways, I can look at this movie as an almost sensationalism of the killings. Some people praise Van Sant for not blaming anything. But in a film such as this, is there a responsibility on the filmmaker's part to place blame? I'm leaning towards saying this is a very good movie, but something holds me back and keeps it at the level of good movie.

Pieces of April (Dir. by Peter Hedges): Now this, on the other hand, I can wholeheartedly recommend. Highly, highly recommend. It's a simple short movie. I believe Ebert said it was shot in something like 3-4 weeks on very little money (I want to say $200,000, but that seems awfully low for a movie with Katie Holmes, Derek Luke, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt and Sean Hayes). It's about April, the black sheep of the family who invites her family over as she tries to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The family is reluctant to go, and we see why as they are en route when they can't come up with any good memories of April. Well, not true, the father (Platt) comes up with one, but it's of April asleep. The movie is sad, but a happy kind of sad. You know that the future doesn't hold good fortune, but you can smile b/c in the here and the now, things are good, things are working out. Patricia Clarkson got an Oscar nomination for this (I should probably put one of those circle 'c' copyright simples beside 'Oscar', but, alas, I do not know how, please don't sue me, Oscar, I'm rapidly running out of money as it is), but I'm inclined to think Oliver Platt was even more deserving as he is great in this. I only know Platt from that truly awful Ready To Rumble movie, but he shows a real dramatic depth here, especially the scene where is trying to coax Clarkson's character back into the car, and the one where he breaks down in the car. It's great, it's not too long, and it's fun and heartfelt. See it.

In America (Dir. by Jim Sheridan): Wow. I meant to see this when it finally came to local theatres three or four weeks ago, but b/c of finals, no money, laziness, I never quite made it. And I'm kicking myself now. This is great. A wonderful movie. I haven't cried in many years (unless you count bad light, hot gum, or All Dressed Potato Chips in the eye), but boy did I come close in this one. It tells the story of an Irish family moving to America in the late eightes/early nineties. The time/place is never really set, and it really doesn't matter, it gives it a kind of timeless feeling. The family is poor, the dad an unsuccessful actor, the mom a waitress, and they move into the shabbiest of shabby apartments, sharing a building with "drug dealers and transvesites" as the mother (Samantha Morton) says. The family is wounded, there is the mother, the father (Paddy Considine), and their two daughters (Sarah and Emma Bolger), Frankie the brother is dead. "It says three," the officer at the border says, "We lost one" says the father. The movie is simply about how the family copes, and while it is a sad, sad movie, there are still enough laughs here to keep it from being a wrist-slitter. I don't want to ramble too much, as I have just finished watching it, and I tend overrate things I've just seen, but this is as good a movie as I saw from 2003. This is a definite top 5 of the year for me, and just might make the top 2-3. Really, I thought 2003 was a fabulous year for movies. Shows what I know, eh?

Other news and notes: Tofu Hut is back, go and wish him a hardy "Welcome Back", and while you're at it, head on over to Said The Gramaphone and thank him for keeping Tofu Hut running while its owner was away. These are the best musicblogs on the net for my money's worth. I've gotten so much good music from the two, that it's not even funny. Although, I must admit, Listen Closer is on his way up as well. Okay, I think I've wasted enough of your time, aloha.
xoxo

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Saturday, May 08, 2004

"Masseur, quit making those eyes at me!"
-Zatoichi

Zatoichi (dir. by Takeshi Kitano): I've been looking forward to this ever since I first saw Brother last summer and then saw the preview for this, Kitano's resurrection of the Zatoichi series about a blind samurai. I've read that this movie offended a lot of people who thought that the Zatoichi series was sacred and shouldn't be messed with. But, I'm so glad Kitano heeded no warnings, as this is spectacular. If it is actually released in North America this year, it's a shoo-in for top 10, with a good shot at number one. What surprised me about this was not the fight scenes (which are great, as I expected them to be!), but how funny it was! There is one scene where a completely unskilled man tries to teach three others how to fight that had me laughing harder than anything since Subpop posted an mp3 off the new David Cross album. So, yeah, find your favourite local Asian DVD dealer (or ebay or whatever) and get this, b/c chances are it won't see the light of day in North America this year ( Shaolin Soccer anyone?). Just a great movie.

Oh yeah, and head over to the Sigur Ros website and look up Frakkur, the lead singer's solo kind of project. There is an amazing 11 minute mp3 of the performance, as well as pictures, such as this. You know you want it. Sigur Ros is one of the greatest bands in the world, made even better by the copious amounts of free mp3s on their site, as well.
xoxo

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"One bases a decision on what one wants, not based on what one doesn't want"
-Beautiful Girls

Beautiful Girls (dir. by Ted Demme): I love this movie. It has its faults. Some of the dialogue is very over-written with characters spouting lines or speeches that are far more sophisticated than they are capable of. There are too many characters with some of them so underdeveloped that they become almost caricatures. The whole plot revolves around them meeting up for a high school reunion, but said reunion, for some reason, takes place in February. But I forgive Beautiful Girls these faults because the movie is good, and the romance between Willie (Timothy Hutton) and Marty (Natalie Portman) is maybe the saddest romantic relationship I have ever seen/heard about/ read about/lived. Willie is a twenty-something barely employed piano player who comes back home to drink, hang out with his friends, drink, and ponder what to do with his life. Does he give up the piano for the security of an office job? Does he settle down with his girlfriend? Does he just get drunk? Meanwhile, next door to his old house, a new family has moved in: Marty's. He starts talking to Marty and finds himself falling for her. He talks to his friend about it, saying that if he can wait 10 years, than he will be 39 and she will be 23, not nearly as bad as now where he is 28/29 and she is 13. The conversation they have at the skating rink is positively heart-breaking where she tells him to wait for her and he says that he can't, comparing their relationship to that of Winnie The Pooh and Christopher Robin. "I can't be your pooh," he tells her. "That's the saddest thing I've ever heard," is her reply. Every time I see this movie sitting on my shelf I look at the cover, and the cast (Lauren Holly? Martha Plimpton? Rosie O'Donnell?!?!?) and wonder why I own it. And everytime I pop it in, I'm reminded of just how great the relationship between Willie and Marty is. Am I nuts? Has anyone else seen this?
xoxo

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

"I guess the well is running dry,
I'm not surprised,
It's been thirteen years of lies,
Running at the mouth about,
these lovers I can't live without out,
well, I'm not exactly hunting 'em down"
-The Good Life, For The Love of The Song

I'm too lazy to write about some of the stuff I've seen lately, and maybe in the future, I will write up longer synopses for each, but here are some very quick reviews.

Ichi The Killer (dir. by Takashi Miike): Not as good as I was hoping, or really what I was expecting at all. I had been led to believe that the guy on the cover with the weird pierced cheek thing was Ichi, not some scrawny guy in a rubber suit. I was expecting a kind of masochist who's been done wrong wreaking revenge, not some S&M bad guy vs a weird, unstable guy in a rubber suit. If it's mayhem you're after, by all means be my guest. But this is nowhere near as great as Happiness of the Katakuris, and nowhere as good as City of Lost Souls, Dead or Alive, or Audition. By the way, the man Ichi tangles with is named Kakihara, and I really think Miike missed the boat by not giving this movie a theme song that went, "They hate, and fight...The Ichi and Kaki show!" No? Well, I tried.

A Bout De Souffle (dir. Jean-Luc Godard): Also known as Breathless but I prefer the french title b/c if you were to translate it literally it comes out more as "at the end of your breath" as in you've reached the limit, not the more cliched image of being 'breathless'. So far so good as far as Godard goes. I can't quite explain why, but I really do like Godard. His characters are strangely aloof, yet I become fascinated by them. The plot is secondary, but I'm intrigued by it. The most amazing thing about this movie is the female lead's accent. At first I hated it. Her pronounciation was so bad, especially her 'r's that it was making me cringe. Yet, oddly, it became endearing over time. I really need to see My Life To Live now.

Provided the DVD holds up (it was not working on my player but my work on another), the next movie I should see is Zatoichi which having watched about 40 minutes of so far, is pretty durned amazing. Others to shortly follow Visitor Q , The Last Samurai , Beautiful Girls and whatever else I stumble across in the next couple days.
xoxo

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