Trying out Squarespace.

Hey, kids. If you've been wondering where I've been, I've been giving Square Space a trial go--all the Never News from the last few days can be found here. Give me some feedback and tell me how you like it--or if I should stick to Blogger.


Review: Melinda and Melinda


As I said before, I went on an extended shopping binge last week while in Salt Lake; eleven records and four or five movies. About 20 magazines.

One of the movies:

Melinda and Melinda, Woody Allen

Woody Allen has always been an admirable filmmaker for me; I never really felt justified in saying he was my favorite filmmaker, or even one of my favorite, based in the fact that I have really only seen a small selection of his films (he's directed 42 films, and I've seen maybe six to ten of them).

But I'm giving up the ghost—of the filmmakers I admire (Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, Sofia Coppola, Gus Van Sant, and Miranda July being my top, current generation filmmakers), Allen is at the top of my list for this reason; while I haven't yet seen his complete directorial career, what I have seen has astonished me. Never once, at the end of a Woody Allen movie, have I said, “Meh. That could have been better.”

Melinda and Melinda is no different; the film's base premise lies in the fact that four friends (two of them playwrights) are discussing the concept of Tragedy and Comedy and how they fit into life. One of these characters is portrayed by the (kind of) legendary character actor Wallace Shawn (who we all remember as Vizzini in the immortal Princess Bride); when a film begins with Shawn, you know you're going to have a good time.

As they discuss, one of the friends decides that he'll tell a story he has recently heard. The two playwrights are then drawn into a discussion of whether this story could be a comedy or a tragedy; we're introduced to Melinda (Radha Mitchell) as she starts her trek as two versions of herself—both stories begin with Melinda barging in on a dinner party. The only difference is based in the circumstances, characters, and tones of story. In the tragic, Melinda arrives, mid-dinner party, at the home of Laurel (the ever brilliant Chloe Sevigny), a childhood friend, and her husband Lee (Johnny Lee Miller). In the comic, she arrives at the door of complete strangers Hobie and Susan (Will Farrell and Amanda Peet, respectively).

When I discovered the concept, I expected the stories to come in succession; starting with one and ending with the other. Much to my amusement, Allen pulls through in a way I should have expected; the stories evolve side by side, switching from one set of characters and tones to another easily and without sloppy explanation shots.

What really interested me as I got into the film is the fact that Allen seems to be letting go of the concept of playing 'his' character in all of his films (mind you, I haven't seen them all, but the ones I have all feature Allen as the insecure lead); instead, he hands 'his' character over to the overly talented Farrell, who seems to mimic the standard Woody Allen style of speaking. The great thing about this is that Farrell does it so seemlessly; he adds his trademark physical comedy into the film, creating a less physically adept Allen protagonist—many of the scenes in which he becomes flustered feature both his neurosis and his physical awkwardness (with lines like 'Oh no! The Chilean sea bass sprinkled with lime powder!” coming out less Allen and more Farrell, making me wonder if Allen had actually written them or if Farrell had just completely and amazingly gotten into character while retaining his own humor), rather than the standard rapid lines Allen is famous for.

This decision on Allen's part is a tremendous one; we've seen him play opposite anyone from Diane Keaton, an age appropriate relationship and, in later films, both Téa Leoni and Debra Messing (in Hollywood Ending), creating a sort of mid-life crisis type image; as he progresses in age his female leads never do, creating a sort of off feeling of the relationships and, in some cases, needing to be explained by ever-important dialog. In this film, he instead makes the casting decision of Will Farrell's career—Farrell has always played the off-beat, unbelievable character, from Night at the Roxbury to Anchorman, and, as a result, we'd had him typecast as that character—however proficient he is in the situation. Melinda, though, earns him his write to be called an actor and not a comedian; Farrell becomes Allen rather than Allen becoming Farrell (which I don't think would be possible—Allen is Allen; his acting has never really been considered acting).

Most of Allen's movies are timeless (though a few, such as Small Time Crooks, aren't); with Melinda and Melinda Allen has added another timeless film to his career. Updating his previous themes and moods for a newer, younger cast, Allen never once steps over his sensibilities; never once are we confronted with knowing what year it is; never once do we need to know what year it is.

While Farrell takes Allen's role, Mitchell seemingly takes Keaton's (in both Annie Hall and Interiors); she's the lovingly neurotic girl in the comic half of the film and the desperate neurotic character in the tragic half (though, at points, a more fitting reference to Interiors would be a mix between Keaton's character and Mary Beth Hurt's). I'm unsure whether or not I've seen Mitchell in other films; she seems talented enough but, without context, any actor in an Allen film is phenomenal.

Sevigny, though, is always brilliant. Her turn here as the unsatisfied musician is breath-taking (though, probably not as breathtaking as some of her other roles); when we find ourselves deciding who to care for in the tragic part of the film, it's hard to decide whether we want Laurel or Melinda to come out on top.

So, on a scale? I'd say I'd give this one an 8.5 to a 9 out of 10; the film is nigh on perfect (from the familiar jabs at Republicans to the Wes Anderson like music queues) but, I think, my favorite is still Annie Hall.

Speaking of Bruce Tim


Oh, and there's this Bruce Timm gallery, featuring Timm's art on a large range of characters (not just limited to his DC contracted work). My personal favorite:



New stuff

I've already posted about the new book review and music review blogs, where all my reviews will go after I post them, but I'm thinking about dividing my links posts as follows. Give me feedback and tell me if you like it.

Also, there's a new Never News Erotic news site.


Dresden, Germany has always been pretty (even when burning). And so are it's factories

Fantastically disturbing knitted art

I wish I could have seen this. It looks phenomenal

Somebody buy me one of these awesome wallets

I don't know what's going on here, but I like it (check out 5814)


Can something that looks like a Neutral Milk Hotel album cover really have been invented by the military? Answer: Yes.

Mt. Saint Helen's pushing out a giant rock formation—complete with time lapse video

Atomic Books is carrying a Bush's Last Day countdown clock. Thank god.

The Washington Post reports on a new set of federal guidelines saying that all women, regardless of whether or not they plan to get pregnant, should observe the health factors of pregnancy (no smoking, drinking, etc). Is it just me, or is that a little. . . hindering of personal belief?


Slate covers indie bookstores versus chains “Another superstore sales assistant had never heard of the Village Voice.”

If you haven't read Cat and Girl, you're missing a lot of good things. A lot of them. No, seriously. Plus, I have a feeling, from a few emails I've shared with her, that Dorothy might be leaving the strip behind. Get it while you can.

Bob the Angry Flower has been, for a long time, a comic I loved but never really talked about. That's a shame. Love this site.

Some pretty funny comics on Flickr

Alan Moore's new book, Lost Girls, is being touted as a lit-porn book “It is, everyone involved with it declares, beautiful, literary and moving. It's also bluntly pornographic, with explicit sex scenes on almost every page. Beyond couplings of every combination of women and men, the story involves fetishism, incest and even a touch of bestiality, as well as a whole lot of sexual activity involving minors, all depicted in Gebbie's sensuous pastels and paints.” Buy It from Top Shelf.


A talk with Free Diamonds, my new favorite Deep Elm band


Cate Blanchette to play Bob Dylan in upcoming film(?)


The other day I borrowed the second DVD of the new 'The Batman' series from my nephew.

Batman's had a pretty prolific career in animated television. Way back when, we got a glimpse of him in The Scooby Movies, along with Robin, the Harlem Globetrotters, and Phyllis Diller. Not to mention Don Knotts.

I'm not sure if this came first or the godawful Super Friends that everyone seems to love did. Some people seem to love the campiness of this era of comic-cartoons; even as a kid I couldn't get into Super Friends based off of the terrible writing and pathetic plotting.

As a kid, I was a staunchly Marvel comic book fan; DC just never interested me back then—except, of course, for Batman; whereas the other DC characters seemed too solid and glowing, Batman appealed (much like the gritty Daredevil, parable-esque X-Men, and plagued Spider-Man of Marvel) to my need for depth in reading. Mind you, I was a little kid at the time.

When I got home from school every day, the Bruce Timm version of Batman was on. This was the era to be an animated Batman fan—Bruce Timm created a mood, style, and tone for the series that has never been topped (except, of course, by himself with his Superman, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited cartoons).

When that incarnation of Batman had died (as well as the Batman/Superman era), I thought we'd be left without a Bruce Timm cartoon to show us how good cartoons based off of comics could be. Of course, he went on to do the afore mentioned series (which I love), and I'm fine.

But the people over at Warner got a little itchy at the idea of the world without a solo Batman cartoon, and so they hired Brandon Vietti (who also did work on the CG Spidey cartoon [which I also have never seen]) to start work on a new series for the WB network.

I had never actually sat down to watch this series (really, I hadn't ever had the chance) and, when my nephew and I were looking at movies the other day I found the fourth season of Timm's version and the before linked second disc of The Batman. My nephew told me not to get the new disc, as he had it; he hasn't seen the entire Bruce Timm Batman before—although he loves JLU—but he loves this new one.

So I gave it a try.

And, fuck, it's bad.

Not really bad, I guess. It did just walk away with < a href=http://blogbattery.blogspot.com/>two emmys. The design is fantastic, the villains are scarier, the music is new-ish (but not classic). That Catwoman episode is brilliant (they capture the Bats/Cats chemistry that is often overlooked in adaptations).

But the Man-Bat episode lacks forward motion; which is to say that suddenly, for no reason, Langstrom turns himself into Man-Bat with no prior information. And then Batman fights him.

The Mr. Freeze episode was terribly trite, in that Freeze is continuously saying things like, “The weather is a bit. . . muggy tonight,” and “Have an ice evening”, whereas the real Mr. Freeze is a terribly complex character to begin with ('Snow', a 5 issue arc in Legends of the Dark Knight (192-196), for example, is complex and heartbreaking), this show makes him into a parody of a villain—campy to the point of hatred (like the Super Friends).

So it's a hit and miss type of show, I guess. Worth the price of admission if you skip the first two eps and get right to the Catwoman one. I checked out the special features and was impressed by the animation of both the Bane and Penguin episodes. I'm still unsure about Joker (my nephew has a book from the series featuring him), as I feel that he might be the same self-parody that Mr. Freeze is (which is a shame because Joker is one of the scariest motherfuckers in comics); I do think his straitjacket costume is pretty cool, though.


Branching Out

Hey. Just thought I should let you know that I've removed the reviews from this blog to put on the new branches of the Never News empire, Never News Music and Never News Books and Comics.

Lots of links.

Streep and Starbucks

Cinematical's X3 Review

Teri Hatcher, Dakota Fanning to work on animated adaptation of Neil Gaiman book

Original Quake paper models

Comic Book Urban Legends: John Byrne wrote an Avengers West Coast: House of M type story years ago, and Bret Warnock (of Top Shelf Comix) responds

The Morning News covers the annoyance of people talking loudly on cell phones

Passengers sacrifice lives to stop a screening of Big Momma's House 2 on their airplane

The US has better wine than France (!?!)but France doesn't believe it

If my robot got blown up, I'd be sad too

If a sexy robot girl can get me to stop smoking, I'm all for it. I mean, fuck quitting cold turkey.

Last night I was thinking that I wanted to buy an apartment building and advertise it as 'Dirt Cheap apartments for Producing Artists', which I feel is self-explanatory Turns out I'm a bit slow to the punch

I don't know how much I like the idea of using a sound that only kids can hear to keep them away from shopping malls, so I applaud the annoying use of it as a cell phone ringer.

Artist portraits.

McSweeney's online features an odd article by Greg Ruehlmann, 'This is Your Brain on Drugs'

Don't be rude when you get married

A link for Brando: Wonderman is Cooler than Superman

Pretty pictures thanks to The Morning News

Quite possibly the funniest internet interaction I've ever seen

Comics Should be Good discusses Black Canary being a bitch and 'Hypertime'


I went to the Virgin Megastore yesterday and ended up buying 11 albums and a new DS game. Then, on my way home from Salt Lake, I stopped into the WalMart in Evanston and ended up with three movies.

For reviews, I've gone and made a new blog: Never News Music.


Um. Guys?

Fuck fuck motherfuck fuck fuck

A fourth Bush Presidency?

The Garfield mentioned yesterday

I've taken it to a further step--a complete, chronological Jon's view version of the comic. It's going to take a long fucking time, but I'm all for it.

Be sure to check out another amazing Jon version project, Arbuckle.

Season of Awesome

I've been reading through those Garfields at the Truth and Beauty Bombs--Neil Gaiman, apparently, was a fan of these, and linked it in his blog. I stumbled across this gem:

Says "Professor Stevie Freezie"

"PS: Neil Gaiman, if you want I can send you some Sandman fan fiction I wrote in which me and The Sandman have to cover for the Rolling Stones because Mick and Keith get food poisoning and it turns out we had the power of rock and roll in us the whole time.

I titled it "Sandman: Season of Awesome"."

Professor, I nearly died.


Today, I read

Bad ideas, part 1: Misnomer? I think not.

Does no one see the problem of naming something HAL?

Bad ideas, part 2: Another battle of the cosmetic vs. the functional.

This time with lives at stake.

Bad ideas, part 3: If the best you can do is $2, you're shit out of luck.

The GOP signs a Tax Cut (complete with chart)

Neat ideas, part 1: Take a picture of yourself every six minutes.

The Six Minute Project, a community art project.

Neat ideas, part 2: Color coded Matchbox

No, really. Check this shit out.

Great ideas, part 1: Make Garfield mute.

Example one. Reason 2.

Neat ideas, part 3: Mod your USB.

Everything's a toy!

Sexy ideas, part 1: Maria

The latest Urban Pinup.

Sexy and Good ideas, part 1: Yeah Yeah Yeah's. . .

Discuss four albums that inspired them.

Sexy and Good ideas, part 2: Neko Case. . .

is interviewed by The Onion A.V. Club.

Good Ideas, part 1: So is. . .

Mark Kozelek.

Sexy Ideas, part 2: Living in Sin

LA-ist has a sex column.

Bad Ideas, part 4: Family Circus

It's just plain bad. And it doesn't work for the Garfield experiment (scroll to the middle of the forum).

Amazing Ideas, part 1: adicolor

See it. Love it.


Is it Tuesday?

Well, I guess we've got that covered

They're planning monuments to warn future generations about our fuck ups.

Mmm. Photos.

The Morning News highlights some of the work of Vincent Perini.


I'm not entirely sure what Veer is yet, but I like it.

My Morning Jacket

Metro talks to My Morning Jacket about (but not limited to) their role in 'Elizabeth Town'.

Is it Tuesday?

Well, I guess we've got that covered

They're planning monuments to warn future generations about our fuck ups.

Mmm. Photos.

The Morning News highlights some of the work of Vincent Perini.


I'm not entirely sure what Veer is yet, but I like it.

My Morning Jacket

Metro talks to My Morning Jacket about (but not limited to) their role in 'Elizabeth Town'.

Blarg, again

Pacino talks Wilde

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This is the official site. I wish I could see it.


Harvard reports that they still do not have the “foggiest notion” of how many volumes wrapped in human hide exist throughout the system. That's right. Human flesh binding. They know of three books out of their 15-million volume collection.



Godsmack, what a world

An undereducated Sully Erna (of Godsmack) sold out his fans to the military and all he got was an interview with this guy. Priceless.

Ah, literature

Hey, remember that time I told you that Penguin was releasing classics with comic art covers? Well, here are some more samples and an article about that.