The Eclectic

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. – William Gibson

Archive for the ‘The Arts’ Category

Wanted: The Must See Action flick of the summer

Posted by David Leslie on June 19, 2008

I won some free passes to see Wanted and let me just say that I haven’t seen an action flick this good since “The Matrix

In many ways, Wanted the book is what got me back into comics. The cover of the first issue by Mark Millar and JG Jones just grabbed me when I caught just a passing glance at it in a banner ad. I hunted it down and I loved the idea (like in the The Matrix) of a guy who thinks his life is one way to have his view of himself shattered and rebuilt yet leaving the question hanging “Who are you really? And Does a change of fate change that inside you?”

The film takes this and builds out on this question while leaving behind many of the comic book aspects of the Wanted universe. To be honest, this makes the movie stronger because it is easier to relate to than the group of super villains featured in the book.

The action is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t really put it into words, you just need to treat yourself to see this on a big screen.

Acting, first rate. Folks in the theater laughed and clapped both for the bad guy’s speech and at the end.

Here’ is hoping that Dark Knight is this good!


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Notes from the day

Posted by David Leslie on May 14, 2008

  • The new Nine Inch Nails “The Slip” is, lets call it an album, is great. This is the best album for me so far this year. And that’s before you factor in that it is a free download and Trent is offering remixable tracks. I’ve got Discipline stuck in my head plus “The Four of Us are Dying” is a great instrumental track with a bleak name.



  • Speaking of flicks, do we really need a 2nd Hulk movie? I mean, I’m all for redoing Catwoman so long as they keep Haley, dump everything else and get Will Pfeifer and Ed Burbaker to do the script. Oh and Darwyn Cooke’s take on the costume is a must.

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The Road

Posted by David Leslie on August 23, 2007

A few weeks ago, I was reading a book review for “Last Child in the Woods: Saving out Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv. The idea is that unless kids experience the joy of the outdoors, they won’t care about protecting it. Plus they are at risk for, well you know, the bad things American kids are at risk for when they don’t get out and play.

So on Daddy and John nights when Jean is at work, John and I have been taking walks at Indian Run Falls park which is near the entrance to my office.

These walks took a deeper turn after reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. First, I found the book after catching the trailer for the new Cohen Brother’s movie based on another McCarthy book, “No country for old men”.

Reading the Wikipedia entry, I saw that McCarthy had set “The Road” in a post-apocalypse world. Given that I’m an avid reader of post-apocalypse and dystopian fiction and the fact that The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer, I had to read it.

The book is stunning in how it expresses the pure love between the father and the son when all else has been stripped from the world. The simple things like rest, shelter, food and safety are not taken for granted in this book. They are things that must be sought after and come with risks.  

The father is not made to be perfect, a yelling ‘man’s man’ nor a fool which tends to be the extremes that fathers in our culture are viewed. He has only one purpose in life, to protect his child.

You won’t find long passages of dialog expounding on life or whatnot. You will find something so basic and pure that you’ll be haunted by it.

I can give no higher praise than this: I’ve never cried while reading a book. Gotten upset and spooked but never cried. At the end of this book, knowing already the ending from the Wikipedia, I still cried.

So now when I take these walks with John, I find myself appreciating our relationship, our safety, our home, and our food. I think about the parents in places like Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq who right now live “The Road”. Maybe not in a post-apocalyptic world as McCarthy’s with ash and cannibals but a world where there is a dark fear in doing the simple things of life and yet still the light of hope that a child’s heart can bring into that darkness.

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Protected: John and the TV

Posted by David Leslie on October 7, 2006

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Punishment Park: Why it still matters 35 years later

Posted by David Leslie on August 29, 2006

For years when I would read about the work of a director from the UK named Peter Watkins and his film “The War Game“. Thanks to DVD, Watkins work is now available.

See, “The War Game” was a 1962 BBC drama that Watkins shot in a documentary format. Meant to be an hour drama to encourage people to take seriously the idea of emergency preparedness in case of a nuclear war, Watkins instead used the documentary format of a hypothetical limited nuclear war to show how the government’s emergency preparedness was all but worthless.  Needless to say, it was 20 years before the BBC aired “The War Game” but a print made for film festivals earned Watkins the Academy Award for best documentary of 1966. It also inspired two films that made me interested in nuclear warfare and international relations at way too young an age, The Day After and Threads.

Honestly, The War Game was as I had expected. Brutal but outdated. If there is to be a nuclear exchange, it will be with most likely with a dirty bomb (the impact of which was documented in the BBC film, Dirty War)

But it was another Watkins film that hit me in the gut, 1971’s  Punishment Park.

Inspired by a hybrid of the Kent State shootings, the trial of the Chicago Eight and a little known law from 1950 Red scare that gave the President authorization to suspend the Constitution (McCarran Act), Punishment Park (on UK web site for the DVD) sadly holds up well. So well that parts of the movie appear to come out of today’s headlines.

The movie follows two groups of dissidents. The first has been sent to  Bear Mountain National Punishment Park for their trial. They have held without charges, their court appointed attorney has little time to talk to his clients let alone prepare a defense while the tribunal acts as both prosecution, judge and jury. The second group stands ready to participate as volunteers’ in the law enforcement training drill about to take place within Punishment Park.

The rules are simple, avoid capture for 3 days and 2 nights and reach the American flag at the end of the course. Touch the flag and you’re sentence (ranging from 7 year to life in prison) will be pardoned. If you are captured, your sentence starts at one. They are given a two hour head start with the promise of water at the half way mark since the dry lake bed in the park reaches the low 100’s.

Watkins used for many of the rolls non-professional actors who believed in the position of their character. Also the movie was build from outlines without a script and Watkins again used the documentary style. The arguments are real as was the anger. While the ending was a bit predicable (law enforcement 101, if you know where the person is going, get there before they do) it still has an emotional impact.

A question could be asked, is Gitmo our Punishment Park? I don’t know the answer but watching this movie from 35 years ago makes you wonder about it.

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Curious George: A Review

Posted by David Leslie on March 5, 2006

Took the little man to see Curious George while Jean had a Mom’s night in party. I had been listing to the soundtrack for a few days so I knew hankies would be in order. Something about the tracks, ‘Wrong Turn’ and ‘You and I are going to be friends” just hit that ‘tears on’ button for me.

The movie is very well done and worth checking out on the big screen. John and I were the only folks in the theater and John had fun watching the movie, eating his popcorn and trying to find a seat to sit in.

The one line that did hit me in the movie was again from Jack Johnson’s soundtrack.

“If I had a minute for every hour that I’ve wasted I would be rich in time”.. So true, So true

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When Dystopia feels like home

Posted by David Leslie on February 6, 2006

On Saturday while I hammered on my project for work, at work, I threw in Code 46 which I had borrowed from work but had never watched. While Tim Robbins was quite cool as was Samantha Morton but they just didn’t click with each other

However, the idea and issues raised by the movie such as designer viruses, government control of movement as well as the concept of economic exiling was right up my alley. Also Song #6 from Freak Power drive one of the cooler ‘club’ shots I’ve seen in a long while.

When I told the basic layout of the story to Jean, she noted that
1. I tend to get enameled with depressing things
2. I seek out depressing things

I saw this as unfair but I will cop to the fact that I’ve been into dystopian fiction of late. The interesting thing about dystopia is that the better the material, the more the work feels like non-fiction rather than fiction. As if the work is a looking glass into how things could turn should certain trends play themselves out unchecked.

So here is a list of books worth checking out:

Snowcrash by Neil Stephenson
Futureland by Walter Mosley
The Handmaid’s Tale by Marget Atwood
Jennifer Government by Maxx Berry
The man in the high castle by Phillip K. Dick
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
A canical for Lebowich by Walter Miller

Saint Lebowich and the Wild Horse woman by Walter Miller


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Russian photo site

Posted by David Leslie on January 29, 2006

I’ve been really enjoying many of the photos up on Granted I can’t read a word of Russian but that doesn’t stop me from being impressed with the different ways they shape their shots.

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