The Alpha Primitive

Film reviews, essays, commentary and sundry writings

2013 Oscars: Predictions

In my history as a film fan, I have never seen as many Oscar nominated films as I have seen for this year. I have seen every major Hollywood film up for nomination save two, The Impossible (Naomi Watts was nominated for Best Actress) and The Sessions (Helen Hunt nominated for Best Supporting Actress). I’ve even seen all of the nominees for Best Animated Short (and will hopefully get a chance to check out the live action nominees at one of the art house theaters here in Boston before next week), and four of the five nominees for Best Documentary (The Gatekeepers has eluded me). As such, I feel more confident in my analysis and predictions regarding this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. For the purposes of this article, I will be listing the nominees for each category, as well as my predictions for who will win, who should win, and my personal favorite of the year (which may or may not even by nominated), and maybe some comments depending on my thoughts. So here we go (starting from the bottom of the official list and moving up in reverse alphabetical order. Because why not?).

Read More

2011 Oscars: Reactions

The irony that permeates the night after the 83rd Academy Awards marked the official end of the 2010 movie season is the way that Anne Hathaway and James Franco, the two young, hip movie stars tapped to host the show and inject some youth and excitement into the proceedings, had to preside over The King’s Speech winning every major award. Many of us talk and threaten and bluster over boycotting the Oscars when things like this happen, when Crash defeated Brokeback Mountain or Shakespeare in Love won over Saving Private Ryan, but I feel betrayed this year in a way that I haven’t felt in the past.

Read More

2011 Oscars: Nomination Announcement Reactions

Award shows are an odd duck by their very nature. The average man, the layperson, doesn’t get anything tangible out of them other than a somewhat twisted sense of pride, the notion that we were ‘right’ for liking a certain film, television show, play, piece of music, etc., and finding commiseration with the opinions of others. We may not have some fancy degree or have spent X years in school studying movies, but dammit, we knew Million Dollar Baby was the best movie released in 2004 (note: it wasn’t), and feel vindicated that the Academy (with a big A, of course) agreed in our assessment. It’s a confirmation of taste. Comfort comes from the knowledge of a job well done.

Read More

Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under

Yesterday, Amanda Palmer released her newest album, the full length Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under (with all requisite references and entendres entirely intended) as a digital download on her site. The standard variable price structure applies, but anyone can have it for the low low price of 69 cents (a number that is likely just as deliberate as the title and cover of the album). As such, considering the price, I encourage everyone to buy it. Pretty good deal, all things considered, getting an entire album of twelve songs for less than the price of one song on iTunes. Obviously, those with a particular affinity for Miss Palmer probably already have the thing, as there’s no real reason not to. The question, of course, for the critic in the room (or so I consider myself, lack of credentials and all), is whether it’s any good.

Read More

Rammstein at Madison Square Garden

December 11, 2010 was an important day indeed for industrial music fans in America. Rammstein, arguably one of the most successful industrial metal bands of the past fifteen years, returned after nine years without playing a single concert on US soil for a one time only show at Madison Square Garden. It required a bit of creative transportation, but I made the trek down to New York City to take in the show that sold out blisteringly quickly. Seats were in the second level of the bowl, the 300 level halfway down the stage right side of the arena. The lighting rigs and speaker systems threatened to potentially obstruct viewing of parts of the stage, but it didn’t look like it would be too much of a problem. I sat down and got ready for the opening band.

Read More

Dreams

A while ago, I wrote two back to back articles on the nature of perception and memory, and how we interact with the physical world. Some believe that the world is entirely beholden to our perceptions, other believe the world is static and independent of our presence or input, and (shockingly) some believe true reality to consist of various degrees of both concepts mixed together to form a unifying theory. One aspect I neglected to take into account in those initial articles is the dream state, and how what it represents may alter or impress itself on the argument as a whole.

Read More

The Dresden Dolls Reunion at the Wilbur Theater: Night Two

It’s 6:12 pm and I’m once again standing outside the Wilbur Theatre, cold and alone in a line of like-minded people, slightly further away from the entrance compared to Tuesday. It’s funny watching the types of people that are attracted to go to a show for a band like the Dresden Dolls.Most of these folks are probably pretty similar personality-wise; it takes a certain something to be in tune with Brechtian punk cabaret, after all. What’s intriguing is the way we choose to dress and act, ranging widely from full on gothed out leather and makeup to a suit and tie coming straight from work, as well as basically the combination of the two, which is me (I’m wearing a black dress shirt and black pants with a blood red and black tie, black leather trenchcoat and black pork pie hat). I see it all in the line. It reminds me of singing along to Tuesday night’s set alongside 15 year old high school students and 40+ year old working professionals. Music does that to the world. It brings us together and unites us, regardless of backgrounds, personal bias, prejudice. Sometimes you just let it all wash away and enjoy the moment.

Read More

The Dresden Dolls Reunion at the Wilbur Theater: Night One

It’s about ten after six on a cold night in Boston. I’m leaning against a wall on Tremont Street directly underneath the billboard outside the Wilbur Theatre. Every now and then, the billboard flips to a close-up of the faces of Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione in full make-up, with a simple tag line: THE DRESDEN DOLLS. TONIGHT.

Read More

Heroes Week: The Brothers Gilliam

My DVD shelf is pretty large. That in itself is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s actually three separate DVD shelves at different parts of my room. It’s a pretty simple set up: one shelf for movies, one for TV shows, one for everything else (predominantly pro wrestling and concert films). I love movies. I love TV. I love collecting things. There are quite a few directors whose work I cherish above others. Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, and so on, but none of them reach the caliber of one Terry Gilliam, the subject of day three of Heroes Week.

Read More

The Fearless Life Inventory

As an aside, the title for this article comes from a well regarded Magic: The Gathering strategy article by Sam Stoddard (host of the In Contention podcast) entitled “Creating a Fearless Magical Inventory,” wherein he talks about frankly discussing the weak points of your game, the things you do wrong that lead to losses, and making them public to give yourself a blueprint for improvement. It’s a great Magic article, but it also has its role as a strong thought experiment when applied to other aspects of life.

Read More

Creation. Expression. Frustration. Art

The apogee of rationality is creation. Our greatest gift as a human race is the ability to imagine. It’s is one of the most concrete aspects that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Look at this website. This is a heavenly shrine to creation. As I live and breathe, I devour the creation of others with voracious appetite, be it music, film, comics, the written word, anything. I write my reactions, some tempered, some impulsive, expressing on expressions. I care about the creative work of others more than anything else. It keeps me going. For I am human. And I must escape the prison of my rationality.

Read More

Misconceptions

There is a strong chance that Friedrich Nietzsche might be one of the most misunderstood thinkers we’ve seen in the philosophical enterprise. What’s interesting about it is the fact that these misconceptions are almost entirely not his fault. This is not an example of vague or overly complex prose leading to a misread of a text (I’m thinking along the lines of Hegel here, whose prose is so dense that he’s easily misunderstood due to confusion more than anything). Far from it. Nietzsche’s text is clear. Some would say too clear in certain situations, bordering on polemic (or, in the case of On the Genealogy of Morals, it’s actually subtitled as “A polemic”). Even Thus Spoke Zarathustra and some of the aphorisms from The Gay Science that are designed to be parables (or parodies of parables, which might be a better fit) still have a clear topic of focus and are easy to understand philosophically.

Read More

Heroes Week 2009: American Gaiman

We have reached the end of Heroes Week (and yes, it's a couple days late. Sue me), and the final entertainment sphere I must cover is the written word. I originally planned to write about the comic work of one Matt Fraction, one of my favorite current comic writers out there, but I wanted to switch things up and write about books. You know, book books. 

Read More