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Anyone who watches “Entourage” knows the career of Vincent Chase as well as any other actor. “Head On”, “Queens Boulevard”, “Aquaman”, “Medellin”, et al are classic films of the last decade loyal viewers practically know by heart. If only we had actually seen them.

I’ve heard enough people say they actually want to “see” a Vincent Chase movie. Not Adrian Grenier, but Hollywood’s biggest star himself. But no production company would pick up the rights to something like “Gatsby” or resume production on “Smokejumpers”. No, it takes too much initiative.

"Fuck commerce!" -Billy Walsh

So to ease the burden, I decided to humor everyone and amuse myself temporarily by speculating (this isn’t fan fiction, dammit) what to expect from the film that launched Vinnie into superstardom, “Queens Boulevard”. I used limited clues from the show itself as well as other bits of inferred information, so it could be completely wrong. Or it hits the nail on the head. See how it compares to your own vision. But first let’s review…

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If you’ve been following OK Confucius through its early stages, you know much of our output has concentrated on sports and art. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before we were writing about an intersection of the two…

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Everybody's like everybody else and everybody's different from everybody else.

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“Imperial Bedrooms” has to be the ultimate Bret Easton Ellis novel. No, there is no satire present because a plot-driven noir and uber-violent spectacles imitating “American Psycho” and “Glamorama” are more important. Yes, everyone’s still rich and you’re going to hate all of them. No, he doesn’t make any nuanced list or make Huey Lewis and the News references.

Ellis made it a running theme of his interviews regarding the publication to basically disown “Less Than Zero” and deprecate himself by saying how uninteresting he is in comparison to this image readers have of him. Screw that. He loves it, and “Imperial Bedrooms” is a response to that. Interpretations that this novel isn’t as much a sequel as a career retrospective are absolutely correct. As someone who’s read through his chronology (for the most part) the latest installment is pure Meta. The humor here is absent in text only.

I came to this conclusion after watching the film adaptation of “The Informers”, his short story collection. Watching this is like being a resident of Mogadishu- it really sucks. It’s humorless and vapid. It is the work of someone who only concentrated on the glossy, glamorous elements of Ellis’s 1980s Los Angeles. These people have, in effect, become his target audience. They love celebrity, status and the novel value the 80s holds without irony- mostly on par with Ellis. Mostly. They’ve grown up appreciating the things Ellis spent his life scrutinizing. And now they have a new read as cool, as sleek as anything he’s ever written.

I didn’t like this novel at first. Now I love it. Congratulations, Bret. You’ve succeeded in mocking your audience.

Marc

After seeing “Toy Story 3”, I felt completely satisfied as far as the series is concerned. The 11 year gap, mostly thanks to the Eisner-Jobs War, is probably the greatest blessing afforded to the franchise, because the kids like me who grew up with it can relate to the theme of moving on just as much as the new generation will be excited by its prison-break plot. An ingenious move, even if by accident. Nonetheless, the third installment as a stand-alone film leaves me feeling more could be done, if that’s even possible.

How are these toys 15 years old now?!?

Don’t get me wrong this film is excellent. “Toy Story” is very much Generation Y’s version of “Star Wars” in the sense that we all grew up with it and is quite simply required viewing for membership in the human race, so it was very important Pixar absolutely nailed it. New characters come in with strong back stories, and the plot’s catalyst of Andy shipping off to college builds to a satisfactory denouement.  Closure is achieved, and as a viewer you probably couldn’t want it to end any other way.

Being a sequel and being a film, however, are on two different planes. And considering Pixar’s trajectory to this point, it feels like a step sideways.

They will never do wrong. Ever

If you haven’t noticed, every Pixar release is like whenever Bob Dylan puts out a new album: they can do no wrong and mounds of critical praise are a contractual obligation. And rightfully so. Everything from the first “Toy Story” way back in 1995 up to 2004’s “The Incredibles” were fantastic family films, the ones Disney themselves used to make with strong stories and likeable characters, and they made boatloads of money.

But like any other good artist, Pixar needed to transcend its boundaries. 2006’s “Cars” was a step back, but it was necessary. Its vague preachy call for building preservation and gentrifying old towns, ironically enough made by automobiles, was feeble enough. But next year’s “Ratatouille”, which clicked on all cylinders for a human-rat interaction story and brought more mature themes to the fore than ever, served as the redeemer.

Then there was “Wall-E”. The anti-consumerism and the emotion through lack of emotion was a ballsy move for what’d be marketed as a kids movie and everyone still saw it. So when “Up”’s release successfully commercialized the adult themes of loss and growing old, it marked the third film in a row where Pixar completely outdid itself. It was damn near perfect, it made a bunch of people across all age groups cry and was Pixar’s second-highest grossing release. Whatever comes next should assassinate the consensus pick for greatest movie ever!

And yet “Toy Story 3” didn’t have the perfect aim. It’ll resonate with a lot of people yes, but for a franchise as beloved as this it just doesn’t outdo “Up” the way it should have. A certain romance between Buzz and Jessie feels far-fetched and unnecessary after the obvious Barbie/Ken pairing. The final plot conflict before the resolution feels overly dark, over-wrought and out of place with the rest of the story. Yeah it’s nitpicking, but a product from a studio as perfectionist as Pixar demands that.

So does this mean Pixar has reached a  film-making plateau? It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Toy Story 3 may be a step sideways, but it’ll still be one of the best films released this year. And with the studio’s next release a sequel to “Cars”, that film will be judged on two different levels as well to further complicate expectations. I have no doubt they’ll remain the most consistent producer of entertainment and animation in the industry, butt their continued evolution as story-tellers remains to be seen.

Marc

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