Archive for June, 2013

A few scattered thoughts in response to seeing The Bling Ring:

– I like the way Sofia Coppola uses her films to follow interesting young women in extreme circumstances: a group of desperately overly -sheltered sisters in The Virgin Suicides; a lonely American bride in Japan hoping for connection in Lost In Translation; a young princess thrust into unending wealth and worship in Marie Antoinette; a daughter grappling for her famed obsessed father in Somewhere. And now, in The Bling Ring, Coppola focuses on celebrity and fashion kowtowing young women so driven by immediacy they steal artifacts of the life they desire rather than build a life of their own. As a girl raised in an extreme life herself – making her film debut as the christened baby in The Godfather – Coppola’s films debunk the notion that money and fame, even love, complete a person. Sadly, all of Coppola’s films end with deferred hopes and sick hearts. Sure, her characters progress from trusting the empty thing/person they hoped would satisfy, but they never find their satisfaction. For once, I’d like to see Coppola’s heroine succeed, simply that I might know what solace – the lost source of gaping ache – looks like to Sofia Coppola.

– Emma Watson will be one of our next great Hollywood actresses. She kills in The Bling Ring and in This Is The End. She can play it straight and comedically. Mark my words: Watson will be a legend.

– Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article that got this whole thing started, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins”, is worth the read. Perhaps we expect films to feel more foreign than journalism, such that the article feels far more embellished than the film. You’d like to think, and it would be easy to believe, Sofia Coppola made-up some of those ridiculous lines Emma Watson’s character says – “God didn’t give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.” – but then you read them printed in VF with journalistic integrity. You just can’t make-up shit that golden with a straight face!


– I hate comparing films, but it’s hard not to think of Spring Breakers while watching The Bling Ring as both films feature dissatisfied young people seeking solace, even identity, in new (false) realities. And it’s hard not to notice the amazing amount of talent and heart that Sofia Coppola shines over Spring Breakers’ writer and director, Harmony Korine. Coppola’s film uses the common dialogues of news media and social media to invite audiences into the narrative, reminding viewers they share the same world and communication patterns with these characters. By creating a basic commonality, Coppola more easily leads her audience to rethink their own wayward exaltation of self and celebrity. Coppola’s film also explores the shared emotional and spiritual emptiness of its characters, even its audience, as potential paths to both identity crisis and identity theft. It’s difficult to walk out of Coppola’s film certain of your own innocence once you recognize your own lusts excited by the colors and sensations on the screen. Korine’s film, on the other hand, drops viewers into a world stripped straight from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Everything is so overly sexed, overly drugged, overly hyped, overly violent, that – much like A Clockwork Orange or Trainspotting – the sins explored on the screen feel far too grotesque to resonate with the average viewer. Also, when Korine fails to demonize the very debauchery that ruins his characters, one is left unsure whether to embrace such excess as a romantic plea of anarchy or to flee it as a great evil. Such unawareness – or perhaps blatant disregard – for the viewer keeps Korine’s audience on the outside of a story spiraling out of control. Offering no footing in his story, Korine reduced Spring Breakers to pornography when it could have been so much more.

The Bling Ring is not a perfect film. For one, it’s slow, even by Sofia Coppola standards. And I could have used less coke-snorting parties and more consequence, but that’s because I’m an old fart and I believe far more in karma than Emma Watson’s karma-preaching character. Still, The Bling Ring features a perfect soundtrack, solid performances, naughty expose under-the-covers imagery of Paris Hilton’s inner sanctums, and an overall beat-boppy affectation that sticks to the ribs long after leaving the theater.

The Bling Ring gets 4 Louboutin heel clicks from the courtroom out of 5. 


So, Why the Return?

Posted: June 25, 2013 by mwerntz in Hand Banter, Myles

“But Myles–you’ve got like four books you’re working on! Don’t you have enough writing to do?”

It’s true, faithful reader! It’s ALL TRUE! I have more to write that I have time to write! In fact, I’m looooooooosing my mind with all the writing!!!!!!

But here’s the other truth. You get better at writing by writing. You get better at writing by reading other people’s writing, by putting words down in coherent orders and arrangements, such that hopefully even the chaff becomes worth keeping. This is where archives and collected letters come from, I think–after putting words down long enough, even the run-off pages and scribbles becomes worthwhile.

So–you get better by writing. All of the folks here, in one way or another, are engaged in writing, words, and writing words. All of us are people who love writing, literacy, the way that words come together and break apart. But here’s the other truth: none of us get the chance–in our normal veins of writing–to talk about the things which roll around in our group text messages or that haunt our day jobs.

I recently got the opportunity to write an essay about theology and music, about how Pearl Jam’s Ten is more than a seminal grunge album; it’s a meditation on how to get out of the vicious cycle of trauma. But this is the rare essay for me; somewhere in the back of my mind, I have a short book on the theology of Bruce Springsteen and a long meditation on dystopia and Tom Waits. But these, sadly, get left in the mind’s attic for the most part. Though, make no mistake–the Springsteen book will happen.

So, this site then. This is where the attic gets emptied, and the wild horses get trotted out. We’ll root around in film, to be sure, but here’s where things get wild: we’ll delve into film, books, music, social media, all the things which wait patiently for us during the day.

This site is, in sum, what all of us need to do in order to open up the attic to the light of day. Welcome back.

Anybody that’s ever spent any time with the Four Hands knows that we have a thing for zombies. Old widows love cats, we prefer the undead. And on a good day, we love a good metaphor. That’s one of the reasons we’re such big fans of Romero’s seminal DAWN OF THE DEAD, which is chocked full of meaning. And brain eating zombies. But mostly meaning.

WORLD WAR Z, on the other hand, has no such meaning. There’s not a big metaphor about commercialism or the prevalence of technology here. There’s no moral. And that, dear readers, may be the thing I liked best about it.

I had a great talk with my 14 year old this weekend. He’s of that magical age where his taste is better than yours, and if you don’t believe me, just ask him. He understands film at a level you can only dream about. And those movies he liked a few years ago? Well, he just wasn’t as mature back then. He clearly sees that they weren’t worth it. Anyway, his old man took him to see WWZ and afterward, we had a talk about how some movies (let’s not use “films” here) are to be taken at face value. There’s nothing beyond the two hours of intense zombie action. And that’s ok. A great popcorn movie is still a great movie. Now, the 14 year old disagreed with me. Because he’s 14. I would have said the same thing, probably, twenty years ago.

All that to say that WWZ was totally, completely, rad. You know how movie reviews always say things like, “it’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller!”? Well, I caught myself literally on the edge of my seat. The movie is just like one of the zombies in it. It’s full-tilt, smash your face into the wall, nonstop action. And I liked every minute.

WWZ zombies aren’t your George Romero types. They don’t lumber. They run. Hard. And they don’t stop… just like the movie.

One other thing I loved about WWZ was that it was PG-13. Usually, I’m a fan of the blood and guts and sinews and brains and whatever. But it was actually kind of refreshing that all of that was absent. That zombies looked cool, but there was not gratuitous munching of flesh. And that worked for me.

Also, Brad Pitt is awesome. And Mirielle Enos, so great in “The Killing,” was great in this, although we don’t get enough of her. There’s not really anyone else in this for any length of time – don’t get too attached to any characters, fyi. It’s Pitt’s movie.

WORLD WAR Z gets nine airplane grenades out of ten. I want it on Blu-Ray. And I want some more popcorn. Welcome back, Hands.

The Four Hands Return

Posted: June 24, 2013 by Kiki Malone in Kiki Malone, Uncategorized

Is long since Hands gathered ‘gether
Folded unto media pray,
Though genuflections newly tether
As text betwixt them prompts replay.

New site? A sight! Woe web redeemed!
A Tweetable congress boldly stands!
Tis more than trendy fashions memed
When posted ‘tween the hands of Hands!

– Kiki Malone