The Kingdom

If you like creepy things, weird, ghostly, creepy things then you'll love Lars von Trier's "The Kingdom". The story is this: there is a ghost haunting a large old Danish hospital. There are a lot of eccentric hospital employees. One in particular, a Swede, frequently comments on the dim-witted nature of his coworkers as he peeks through his binoculars across the water to his native country. "Danish scum!" he screams at least twice an episode.

Anyway, because of this haunting, all the people in the hospital begin to question their beliefs, a phantom EMT keeps appearing out of nowhere, and I can't watch it after dark. Really. It's that creepy.

It reminds me of Twin Peaks in a way.
But it's way cooler because it's in Danish.

BAM-February 2008--"heart"

So the BAM theme for February isn't love but heart. I'm still doing Amphitryon...but not just Plautus' play. I've included Moliere's Amphitryon as well. After work on Friday, being discouraged by my experience with Plautus, I went to TitleWave to find something to replace it. I wanted a play, preferably something Greek or Roman but came across Moliere instead. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two and rail on Plautus.

There is very little difference in each of the stories. Both men were trying to convey the corruption that exists in those who hold tremendous amounts of power. The gods Jove and Mercury take the forms of Amphitryon and Sosia (the slave) respectively and reek havoc on the mortal world. Accusations fly, sanity is questioned, hearts are broken...of course they are mended again with not much more than a word from Jove.

Here's my synopsis of the final scene (of both plays):

Jove: You are the real Amphitryon. I am Jove. My son Mercury took the form of your slave Sosia to trick you.

Sosia: *whew* I thought I was going crazy

Jove: I slept with your wife. You should be pleased. I mean, I did have to take your form and all. Besides, one of your sons is actually mine! You'll have to feed him and take care of him and be responsible for him. He'll always be doing things that seem stupid and dangerous and you'll worry about him even though he's my son and I'm always looking out for him. So don't worry.

Amphitryon: Oh, now that you put it that way, my wife isn't an evil adulteress. If she thought it was me then I guess it's okay. I'm not made at her or at you anymore. Thanks, Jove!

The Moliere play was significantly better. It was written in lyrical form. It was more clever. There were fewer asides to the audience (though some of those speeches in Plautus were quite amusing). All-in-all, Moliere was just more pleasant to read.

Besides, if Voltaire thinks it's funny, who is anyone to argue?


BAM February--Love, part I.

I'm reading the play Amphitryon by Plautus. I'm not big on Roman drama (though I do love me some Greeks) and I don't really like this modern translation, but it's pretty funny so far. And I learned a new word, one that I will adopt in conversations regarding myself: inamorata. Of course, you have to say it like an Italian or it's not quite so pretty.

...more to come.

The Baxter

Last night I watched "The Baxter". It's a film written and directed by Michael Showalter of The State and Stella (two offbeat comedy troupes). It's the story of Elliot Sherman an accountant and self-proclaimed "Baxter". A Baxter, it is explained, is the term used for the guy that women settle for when their true love doesn't pan out. Ultimately a Baxter is either happy while his/her partner is not.

It's a typical romantic comedy story with a twist of Stella-style in there. In fact, the movie also features Showalter's The State/Stella comrades Michael Ian Black (henceforth MIB) and David Wain and many actors you would recognize from their other endeavors...it's a long list. Also featured is the incredibly charming Michelle Williams. I honestly haven't seen her in much but I found her unbelievably adorable in this movie (she plays the female "Baxter").

Overall I really liked the movie. It's great for anyone who may have been a fan of The State or Stella. If not, you might be a little put off by MIB's sexual ambiguity or Wain's ridiculous rants. To me it's those qualities that separate this movie from all other romantic comedies.

But I loved Stella, so I'm biased.

I also recommend you watch the Wainy Days serial on YouTube. It's hysterical.


magic, and pinstripes, and mouthy skeletons

I've been dying to review this book at our YS meetings since I read it early last summer.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy appealed to me for very few reasons but very compelling ones.

1.) The cover: something about a skinny man in pinstripes suggests quality.
2.) The title: Skulduggery is an excellent word that is underutilized in modern speech.
3.) I think I read a review somewhere that suggested that the main character was a smart-aleck and that made me shiver with anticipation.
4.) It's an action-packed fantasy that's not Harry Potter...In fact, I tend to think that SP would kick HP's tuches in a darkened alley.

The plot: Gordon Edgley dies unexpectedly. In his lifetime, he had become quite wealthy as an author despite being an oddball and not-well-liked in the writing community. At his funeral, Stephanie Edgley, the niece of Gordon, meets a friend of her uncles standing under a tree, far away from the group. He’s an odd man covered from head to toe (think Claude Rains as the Invisible Man) who seems to know more about her than she expected. Stephanie becomes even more fascinated by this unknown man when, at the will reading, his name is given as Skullduggery Pleasant and he is given cryptic advice from her uncle’s lawyer.

When it is discovered that the 12-year old inherits her eccentric uncle’s enormous fortune, her world turns upside down. She discovers that the mysterious man isn’t a man at all but a snappy dressing, sharp-tongued, flame throwing, magic wielding skeleton and that a war is going on unbeknownst to the rest of the world.

She joins forces with Skulduggery and enters a world where people can control the elements, all who are old and wise don’t necessarily have the mental agility to save anyone, and where skeletons can walk, talk, and throw fire.

[Insert a Beavis-like, “Yeah…hehehe. FIRE!”]

It's book one of what is supposed to be a 9-book series.
Yikes. Nine, huh?

The book was good. Pretty good. It was dark and funny, the characters were clever. It didn't really hook me, though. I'm not eagerly anticipating the next one. I will probably read it, though.

Overall it's a fun read but pretty dark to be in the Juvenile section...I'd recommend it to preteens or to older J-readers. I think it could be appealing to both girls and boys, which is always nice.

On a completely different note, the website totally rules. The graphics are great, there are character bios, a short history of the world, and some fun extras.

Check out the British website as well (I think the artwork is way cooler).

It would make a great movie.
Warner Bros. apparently owns the rights to it.
Who knows how good it will be.
It has such potential, though.