Enjoy visual distraction!

*OMG, UPDATE: The rest of "The Office" hits R1 dvd on November 16. Details here. What a show. (Found at Augie's)

*Criterion has to be the greatest place on the planet for dvd cover art. Even their less-stocked discs are kinda expensive, but they always look tempting on the store shelves. I've never seen David Cronenberg's "Videodrome", but I can't imagine a cooler cover image than this. It also seems to fit the tone of what I've heard of the film...

*I know I said I was going to talk about "Napoleon Dynamite" but I can't really think of anything particularly insightful. I enjoyed it basically on a pure humor level. Jon Heder and Aaron Ruell are hilarious as the title outcast and his clueless older brother. Both characters seem to be aware of their lack of social grace, but they continue to retain some measure of confidence in themselves. Napoleon's problem is that his self-confidence never quite manifests itself in action; he's a nervous guy, prone to whispering "Idiot!" about others, but never to their faces, of course. Some critics have been complaining that the film makes too much fun of Napoleon, that it's all just an excuse to laugh at nerdy antics. But such criticisms are common for movies of this sort, comedies about dorks and outcasts. I thought a lot of the humor came from self-recognition as well as awkward antics; the film clearly sympathizes with Napoleon and his friends. Much like other movies of the type.

In fact, the film is very much 'of its type'. The story is just about the most generic 'nerd struggles to triumph' plot I can imagine. He teams up with an outcast friend (Efren Ramirez). He faces off with the popular girls (played by Hilary Duff's little sister Haylie, who might actually be her clone or a CGI approximation thereof; she has nothing to do but stand around and look snobbish, which she does well) and mean jocks (some kid who went way too far over-the-top). He catches the eye of an awkward girl (Tina Majorino, who's adorable). There's drama about the Big Dance. A climax at something not dissimilar to a talent show. In fact, I'm convinced that the plot is so blah because writers Jared and Jerusha Hess figured that they'd better focus on the comedy and forget the character arcs, which may have been a good idea. The humor is very deadpan (so deadpan that Roger Ebert huffed that it "wasn't even trying to be a comedy") and often totally absurd (two of Napoleon's relatives try to buy a time machine off of the Internet in one subplot). I also enjoyed Napoleon's sketchbook, which sort of looked like Lief Goldberg's stuff.

I don't know. It was totally predictable, basic stuff but I laughed quite a lot; I liked its style.

*Boy do I like Ralph Bakshi's episodes of the old "Spider-Man" cartoon (those would be the later ones). All those cartoons were pretty lousy, but these were lousy with a reckless try-anything vibe, like there was no need to pretend to be presentable. That's the sort of crap I like, and I really like crap.

Whenever we fell short a couple of minutes, I just kept the son of a bitch swinging."

-Ralph Bakshi, on producing Spider-Man’s cartoon exploits

*And speaking of wonderful crap, I hope you've seen this site, one of the most awesome justifications for the Internet's existence. Especially the Prelinger Archives. Hundreds of vintage educational, industrial, and advertising films in multiple download formats for free. "Design for Dreaming", a 1956 General Motors shill flick is perhaps the most hypnotic thing I've ever seen. And there's so much more.