Between the covers.

So about two months ago, Marco had this great idea to do some posts on Counterforce about summer. Summer traveling, summer adventures, flings, weird things to be done to the world and to yourself during the course of summer, and of course, summer reading.

Not a hard subject for us to tackle. Quite the opposite, in fact. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re all voracious readers and also, frankly, scary brilliant. But we got a little wrapped up in the business of having a summer, which we’ll leave undefinable for now, and before you knew it, the grass started getting a little less greener, the wind started getting colder, those chirping annoying kids finally went back to school, and the season of summer flings quietly faded away.

So let’s talk about what’s on our nightstands as we head into the autumn months, okay?

Occam Razor:
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What that Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt.

Because you assholes don’t know how to behave on the road and your idiotic fucking tendencies just lead to me being in traffic. I read most of this on my lunch breaks while eating sushi. Now, I’m not saying you have to read this at lunch while eating sushi, but you probably should to get the same exact experience I did. California Rolls will not be accepted. Unless its the ones with the fried shrimp in the middle, I don’t know why but I can’t get enough of those. Damn, I could go for some right now. If I only had a book about the traffic culture of Mumbai to read.
Lollipop Gomez:

Youth In Revolt is one of my favorite books. I read it 10 years ago and then I re-read it when I was recovering from surgery in 2005. It is a treasure. I’m very worried of what they will do to it.

If there aren’t any donuts in the first 20 minutes of this movie, which is a major detail in that they go get donuts all the time in the book, I will be very upset. I remember sending my ex up the hill to get me Maple bars because they kept mentioning them. So, if there’s no donuts in the movie then I will torch Michael Cera’s house. And I don’t know how I feel about this fake Amanda Seyfried as Sheeni. I don’t know if I imagined her being so faux-sexy. Ugh, Hollywood.

Marco Sparks: Cera’s starring in the upcoming movie version, right? When reading the book originally, can you say that you ever would’ve thought to see Michael Cera playing the lead? I totally want some donuts now, by the way.

LG: No, Michael Cera is not Nick. But he’s the awkward man of the moment and I think he’s producer, so we can thank his dollars.

Marco: Hello, Nick and Norah!

Conrad Noir:
Why this book? Because why the fuck not, motherfucker? This book is like experiencing what it’s like when a mentally ill person has an orgasm during a car wreck. It’s fucking wonderful. Here’s an excerpt:
“Soon after this episode there was a birthday party for me. Prince came, he was sitting at a table with some people not drinking. I walked up to him, grabbed him by the back of the hair and poured cognac down his throat. He spit it out like a little bitch and I laughed and walked away. I loved fucking with him like that.”
Occam Razor:
Lush Life: A Novel by Richard Price.

Because of several reasons. A) Richard Price wrote some of the best episodes of The Wire. 2) For the first 350 pages or so it’s an entertaining read. Nevermind the end, though. and C) For all intents and purposes the subtitle A Novel is actually a part of the title of the book. It’s not Lush Life, a novel by Richard Price, it’s Lush Life: A Novel! Why can’t more titles be that informative like this, imagine Bruno: A Terrible Film Where This Guy Sexually Harasses Rednecks Until They Finally Snap.
Conrad:
This one isn’t as easy to enthusiastically recommend. Honestly, I haven’t read it yet, but I certainly intend to. Especially now that I know they’re making it into a movie.
Marco:
I’m honestly too indecisive to pick just one, or just a few books here. I apologize. So, speaking of the post Lollipop and I did yesterday, I’m going to suggest…
What a fun and fascinating read this book was (for me, anyway). On one hand, you could take it as some very factually based interesting guesses into what tomorrow holds for us, but in a lot of ways, due to it’s style and subject matter, I think you could almost take it in as a very experimental novel. Especially if the futurist angle just isn’t for you. In fact, be warned, because I think I may have more to say about this one in a few days…
Occam Razor:
Why Your World is Going to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin

Because I’m too fucking lazy to properly prepare you for Peak Oil.
And you’ll have plenty of time to read after the end of the world
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The Auteur Theory, part four: Film lovers are sick people.

“Film lovers are sick people.”

-Francois Truffaut.

Here we are again with part four of our films that we love, and perhaps even adore, that we feel should make the jump over to the Criterion Collection, if, for no other reason, just to make ourselves a little happier. Or maybe we just want to talk about them because we like them.  Or because we’re sick, sick people…

August Bravo: Taxi Driver, 1976, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Travis Bickle is probably one of the most astonishing film characters in the history of movies. Martin Scorsese directed this palme d’Or winning masterpiece. The first time I watched it, I really didn’t care too much for it. It wasn’t until I felt lonely and full of despair that it made a lot of sense. What drives a man to do what he does? One of the most deperessing movie’s I’ve ever seen, maybe. How can a man just slip through the cracks so easily? And how could Scorsese potray it so damn well? Travis seemed like a simple guy, but he’s just disgusted. Disgusted with all the scum and trash that fill the city. With himself as well, maybe? A man so devoid of attention he resorts to talking to himself in the mirror in probably one of the most memorable scenes in film history.

What spirals this movie into a need for Criterion fame is his desolation. I think that’s what really drives him mad, and what drives him do after going mad. It’s a haunting image to see Robert DeNiro sitting there towards the end after his attempt to rescue child prostitute Jodie Foster, blood everywhere, holding a makeshift gun to his head just wanting to pull the trigger. By far the best line from the movie: “Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man…”

Marco Sparks: I’m ecstatic that you picked this movie, which as distasteful as it can be, is a true American classic, and not something like… I don’t know… Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, which people are always trying to tell me is a “classic.” Scorcese has a winning formula here and I feel like he basically remade it in 1983 with The King Of Comedy, a film that I like a hell of a lot more.

For my pick today I am going to happily suggest: Chinatown, 1974, directed by Roman Polanski.

This is another movie that I’m almost afraid to start talking about for fear of talking way too much about it. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then I have to assume that you’re still a toddler. But unless you’re a blind toddler, or in a coma, then you need to be seeing it. If you’re an adult or near the age of making adult mistakes and you haven’t seen this yet, then… put simply, you don’t deserve cinema.

“My sister! My daughter! My sister! My daughter! My sister! My daughter!”

Polanski, despite what anyone may think of him personally, is a master filmmaker, and he’s particularly good with one single element of life: That sense that something is off and just not quite right. Sometimes it’s paranoia, and suspicion of one’s surroundings, but that’s if you’re lucky to nail the feelings his films inhabit so perfectly down into words. Repulsion had it, as did Knife In The Water. The Tenant had it, and of course Rosemary’s Baby had it, as did Death And The Maiden to a fair degree. Hell, his pure amazing shlock demonic thriller The Ninth Gate had it in perfect, crazy overabundance. It worked perfectly in all those films and especially here in this neo-noir masterpiece.

The film, with it’s brilliant script by the always excellent Robert Towne, was based on the real life water wars in California, but is so twisted and wonderful and captures that perfect essence of feeling like it could be a true story word for word.

And do I even need to go into how perfect Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are in this film? Not to mention John Huston. This film, which was to be originally titled “Water World” is a rare, amazing example in Hollywood of everything going perfectly right and the end result is scary brilliant. The sequel, The Two Jakes, directed by Jack Nicholson himself, isn’t too shabby either, but it’s a sequel to one of the best films ever produced in this country, so there’s no way it could’ve gotten close to the original.

If you truly have never seen this, then part of me wants to show up at your house with this and maybe a bottle of wine. In fact, let’s do that. I’ll be over next week sometime. Which goes better with popcorn, white wine or red?

Personally, I love that August picked a movie about how fucked up New York is and that I followed up with a film that says essentially a lot of the same things about Los Angeles. I’d love to counter that with something sweet and sentimental about either town or tell you that no matter where you live, home is where the heart is, but let’s face it, you’re just going to get your heart broken no matter where you go. So instead I’ll just say… We’ll see you next time.