A Welcome and a Definition

Culture Vulture: "A person with a strong, sometimes obsessive, interest in the arts." Culture Vultures spend a lot of time observing the world. This is where those observations come out.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Right off the bat, I want to say I am a huge Ginsberg fan. I've read Howl and Other Poems several times, as well as Kaddish. I also read some of his latter, not as popular poems, as well as a biography. Like many young gay boys, reading Ginsberg was a revelation for me.

Most movies about writers and writing are never actually about the writing itself. They focus on the writer's life, including lovers, friends, and possibly what drove them to write/ be crazy/ whatever salacious details are available.

Howl is not like that. Much of the movie is the author reciting "Howl" as animation illuminates the poem. This is intercut between three different scenes: Allen Ginsburg reciting the poem at a bar, Ginsburg being interviewed about the poem, and the trial against City Light Books for publishing "pornography." The movie jumped around a lot, but was the pace wasn't too much that I could not keep up.

James Franco continues to impress me as an actor. Even though I like Franco, I was hesitant when I heard he was playing Ginsburg. However, James had obviously studied Ginsberg's mannerisms and the way he spoke intensely. His portrayal was really seamless.

My biggest issue with the film was minor to the film but major to Ginsberg's life. The movie portrays him as having a very loving relationship with Peter Orvolsky. While they were together a long time, they actually had a very tumultuous open relationship. But as one of my friends pointed out, it made an nice arc for the movie. I also feel like some of the animation moved rather quickly and I didn't get the full effect. It might be better having sat through multiple viewings.

Great movie, definitely worth the trip to the theater. 4 and half stars.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Actually Love...

I always feel a little odd telling people that Love Actually is one of my favorite Christmas movies. As Christmas movies go, it's a non-traditional one. No one tries to save Christmas. Santa Claus is not a main player in the movie. No one finds out what life would be like if they had never been born. In fact, Christmas is more of a backdrop to the movie.

However, here are the reasons I find it to be an enduring classic. Let me just say this first: for the most part, my friends are not religious. In fact, I have many friends who consider themselves atheists/ agnostics. However, all my friends celebrate Christmas in some form. While that might sound odd to many people, I really don't think of it that way. As a good friend of mine recently told me, "What other time of the year do we celebrate the best things about being human?"

The movie weaves several stories together of people's lives around Christmas. The stories are almost too numerous to mention; however, all of the storylines form around a relationship. There are many well-known actors as well: Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, just to name a few.

For me, Christmas has always been about love. Love for the people in your life, love for mankind, the love of just being alive. Love Actually captures that more so than any other Christmas movie I've ever seen. The movie shows love in many forms: old love, new love, platonic love, sexual love, even unrequited love. None of it is easy or simple. I tend to enjoy movies more that show love as a complicated endeavor, instead of the overwrought fairy tale of many rom coms.

Love this movie, love this movie! Grab someone you love and watch it (again) this holiday season!