“There is an air of fantasy to the film—in its glittering idealization of a Manhattan full of magic, in showing a career spring into being with accidental ease—but there’s far less cheap sentimentality than one might expect. The film’s original title was Can a Song Save Your Life, and while I don’t think the film really answers that question, or even attempts to, it certainly says something about a song doing the soul some good during difficult days. And about music’s unique ability to imbue an otherwise mundane moment with a certain specialness and meaning. And I think that’s probably plenty good enough.”

I love the last two lines of this comment on my Transformers review

“Its metaphors and allegories may not be subtle—the whole of human society, the strata of haves and have-nots, shown as compartments on a train car—and it may be hard to watch at times, with all its crunching, spurting violence. But the new sci-fi action drama Snowpiercer is nonetheless the most original and oddly stirring movie so far released this year. A stark and grimy look at a terrible future, Bong Joon-ho’s film (his first in English), is unrelentingly bleak until, well, it relents. When it does, and it’s really only for a brief moment, the film achieves a kind of grace, a transcendence of all the dark obliteration preceding it, in a way we haven’t seen since Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 masterpiece about another dystopia.”
“Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz, is costumed in the style of many a Bay girl before her, with very short jean shorts and very tight tank tops and silly high-heeled boots and pouty pink lip gloss, all fashioning her as the innocently teasing sexpot next door. I don’t know if Michael Bay had a babysitter as a kid whom he’s still lusting after or what, but his obsession with this particular type, these Daisy Duke’d madonna-whore hybrids, is increasingly gross and unsettling. The fetishistic costuming and leering camera work would be one thing if any of these characters had any sort of agency, but they never do. Here Tessa is simply fought over by the two men in her life, overprotective daddy and hot stud racer boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor). Oh, I guess she gets scared sometimes, too. And has to be rescued. Those are the other two things she does.”
“The Leftovers is not about a post-apocalypse; the world is functioning, for the most part. But there is nonetheless a mounting dread and unease, as if along with this small but not insignificant fraction of humanity, a crucial sense of order and balance is gone too. Maybe it’s a loss of faith’s organizational influence—if those 140,000,000 were Raptured and now Heaven’s doors are closed for good, then what does anything down here even mean?”

The summer place

My parents came to visit a week ago, and I wanted to write something about that. Because it’s always strange, increasingly strange, to have my parents here. To linger for a bit in the distance between us, to see my parents out of context, standing uncomfortably on Bedford Avenue, to feel like I know a place so well that they don’t know at all. Suddenly, and gradually, you know things your parents don’t, have a vocabulary that is not exactly beyond them, but certainly outside of them. I like showing my parents around New York, but it also makes me feel more than a little desperate about time passing.

We were walking to McCarren Park, because it’s near my sister’s new apartment, and I was going to tell them about what a destination spot the park was for all the cool kids, about their intense kickball leagues and the scary encroachment of condos and about how this place was the center of the universe for everything that people thought of when they thought about Brooklyn. But then I realized, with no small amount of despair and dread, that that’s an old reference. That’s an eight-year-old story, from when I first moved here, when McCarren Park was a wry joke on Gawker. I got a flash in my head of ghosts playing kickball, or old people, like in A League of Their Own. They’re all gone now, was what whispered its way through my head just then. Of course they’re not all gone, they just got older, like I did.

I also wanted to write something about this past weekend, when I went to Woodstock for a friend’s birthday, where food was cooked and distressingly artisanal cocktails were drunk (I say distressingly because when the hosts were not available to make one for me, I was forced to do the mix myself, and I did it completely wrong) and a lot of anthropological wondering happened. The party was a bunch of writers, mostly poets, and I found myself thinking that maybe this is where they all went when they left McCarren Park however many years ago. All the people that evaporated from 2006, materialized here. Or somewhere else! The finance types I met one dumb night in Midtown eight years ago are now fattening up the Hamptons. The scary musical theater queens from 2007, straight out of Michigan, are prowling the Pines like they own the place. 

There’s such a thing as knowing too much about a place while also knowing nothing about it. Because, I guess, that’s just sort of how time works. I don’t know anyone playing kickball in McCarren Park anymore. But I also stood dumbstruck last week, feeling brand new, at the Kara Walker sugar sphinx only a few blocks away. And in Woodstock, where all those writers went, I didn’t know anyone. So I spent the night introducing myself, talking about the city like it was an old friend we all knew, none of us shocked that it had never introduced us before, but glad to at least share some words in a common tongue. I also met a girl who went to my high school. And we talked about old teachers and I thought of my parents, back in Boston, exactly where they wanted to be, not thinking much of that park they walked through with their anxious kids a week ago. Maybe they will only remember it as the park near my sister’s apartment, where my dad felt tired and we huffed in the heat and wondered what to do with the rest of the afternoon. And in another eight years, that too will just be something some other people did once, before they left and found somewhere else to call home. 

“I guess us gay guys are supposed to appreciate all this “it’s like they’re dating!” subtext? But I’ll admit that I saw the movie only after Jonah Hill’s ugly, offhand gay slur to a paparazzo made its way onto TMZ, and that fact made the film’s sometimes direct but mostly allusive homoerotic tendencies read a little smug, everyone seeming a little too proud of themselves for all their supposed open-mindedness. Yes, it’s cute that Jenko and Schmidt do, rather passionately if ultimately platonically, love each other. And it’s great that we’re getting a big, broad mainstream comedy that isn’t afraid to explore intra-male emotional dynamics in surprisingly earnest and heartfelt ways. But that it’s all such a winking joke in the end—that Jenko never actually smooches the frat bro (Wyatt Russell) he forms an immediate, sexually charged bond with, much to Schmidt’s envy—is also a cop out, a tease. I’m not naïve enough to have thought that the movie was actually going to go there, suddenly alienated hetero teenage boys be damned. But in some ways the almost feels crueler, and kinda flippant.”