Monday, April 14, 2008

The finals countdown

This weekend I avoided a policy paper like the plague by writing a paragraph, going to the gym, watching a movie, writing a paragraph, meeting friends for dinner, writing a paragraph, meeting friends for drinks, writing… ad nauseum. I finally finished the paper, on a bizarrely tech-wonky subject. But it took a while!

In another one of my procrastination swings, I was playing Prolific online, chatting with a few other players in Boston, and figured out that one other player and I were at Grendel’s Den (the coolest name for a pub, btw) at the same time just hours before. It’s a small world after all, it’s a small, smaaaaall woooorld…

Eddie Izzard in Glorious was hilarious, as usual. This was the third Eddie Izzard bit I’ve seen --I was trying to watch them in order, but I think I forgot about this earlier one. He's dependably intelligent and funny. One thing I’ve noticed, though: in every performance he seems to always have bits with references to biblical stories. They're uproarious, naturally, but makes me wonder if maybe he had to suffer the rigors of Catholic school, and has the subsequent baggage? I suppose I could look it up if I weren't pretending I have an Econ paper to write...

I’m Reed Fish got points for a few creative twists in the standard and very boring small-town-boy-deals-with-drama story. But the whole film played out more like a teen sitcom than a good coming-of-age movie. The basic plot is a kid named --guess what, Reed Fish, since the screenwriter didn't try to disguise his real identity-- who lives in a small town ... somewhere... and is engaged to poor Alexis Bledel, who seems trapped in that small-town girl-next-door role. Except here she wasn’t as sharp-witted as in the few episodes of The Gilmore Girls that I’ve seen. At any rate, an old ex comes home a few weeks before the wedding, and predictability ensues. There were some details that made the story unique, though, including dealing with the death of parents, and an unexpected college dropout. For those and the plot-within-a-plot device, it 's an okay film instead of a mediocre one.

First Monday in October was my attempt to pretend I was working, by watching a movie about the Supreme Court. Walter Matthau plays a liberal justice who clashes with the new first female SCOTUS justice. (It's unclear whether we’re supposed to pretend Sandra Day O’Connor wasn’t confirmed the same year the film was made.) Thankfully, the movie didn’t go the route of The American President or even Dave by making it a romance. I hate romantic comedies. Instead, the plot revolved around a Dharma and Greg-type happy unity that is supposed to represent the politically divided country as a whole. Unfortunately, the two main cases the Court hears in the movie are about free speech and corporate monopolies, and I have very strong ideas about both (though admittedly stronger about free speech), and it was agonizing to see Matthau’s character, who had my viewpoints, butcher his arguments. To be fair, Jill Clayburgh as the ultra-conservative justice didn’t argue her points well either. And weirdly for lawyers, there was no over-citing of precedents or cases to back up their legal arguments. In fact, there were no legal arguments made at all.

The ending was slightly confusing, as there’s a possible conflict of interest thrown in, and Clayburgh's character dramatically says she’ll resign. I don’t understand why recusing herself wasn’t an issue instead, but that’s another one of many minor quibbles. Overall, it was a decent film. It was made in 1981, and there are a lot of sexist attitudes on the part of both the male and female characters (the idea of a “woman’s touch” or an inherent “female” perspective isn’t critiqued very much, although the O'Connor wannabe did a good job addressing most but not all double standards). but hey, it was 1981. We’ve come a long way, baby…. right?

Well yeah, actually. At the end of this week, I'll have survived a year of grad school. =)

No comments: