Thursday, November 29

The Butt

From the New Yorker profile of a controversial French comedian:

"His favorite role, he told me, was playing a gay proctologist who was the lover of Claude Rich in the cross-dressing 1999 comedy Le Derrière."

I love French films! They're so SOPHISTICATED.

Wednesday, November 28

Affluenza: November 28

Portable cereal!

Admit it, you totally thought that said "lanebryanthome" in the URL, didn't you? Me, too!

What a great idea, though...a plus-size home decor line: Modern furniture secretly fortified to handle up to 500 pounds. Delicate-looking vases and candlesticks that can resist accidental mangling by giant meaty paws rendered shaky by diabetes. Marimekko fabrics treated to resist grease and barbecue sauce.

And so on.


John Roman Photography:


Oh, uh...hey you guys: Prada Tarot Cards!


Hilarious leather necklaces with ornate descriptions of lavish jewelry on plain white pendants:


Joey Roth's Sorapot:


Asian architects are given white Legos, build some pretty amazing sculptures; PINGmag writes almost unbearably pretentious article about it.

Sigh. If only Norman Mailer had lived to see these!


Speaking of, here's the GORGEOUS Mailer / Breslin campaign poster from their mayoral run:


Rick Owens Lilies padded funnel neck coat:


"Fitted pea coat" sounds like such a disaster, but I really like Scotch & Soda's version:

Uh, wait a minute. What is that on the shoulder!? And does it come off?


This custom MP5K created in 1976 is the first fully automatic machine gun with an endorsement from Affluenza:


Kawaii! Bike wheels with HK imprinted on them! (Scroll down.)

(Bonus points if you just knew what I meant by "HK" before you even clicked the link...)


A blog called Watchismo (ha!) features their holiday picks:

I know this is an utterly banal and predictable comment, but they really DO get uglier the more expensive they get, don't they?


Geneva Sound System:

Note that the LED display is under the speaker covering. And that it's an LED, as in blinking red lights, not an LCD.

(If there were a band called Geneva Sound System, I guarantee you they would be my favorite band.)


Ever seen a house you want to punch in the face?

There's just something about it that screams "I'm a twaaaaaaat!"


Today is William Blake's 250th birthday.

Thursday, November 22


This is a couple of years old, clearly, but how hilarious:

Wednesday, November 21

Affluenza: Special "Long Afternoon Before A Four-Day Weekend" Edition

These are so cool. The "Fair Share Fountain" are six nesting champagne glasses, each with a lip that fills the cup below it:

I love that they're made to exactly hold an entire bottle of champagne. That's perfect.

I like these so much that I don't even care that champagne is disgusting. If I had $1200 to spend on champagne flutes, you can be DAMN SURE I'd have an Icee machine in my kitchen.


A reader writes: "Are these in any order?"

Not really. Sometimes I'll put something up at the top if it's really really cool and I want to highlight it, like The Contemporist or those champagne flutes. Mostly because I suspect most of you click maybe two of these before going back to Bedazzled.


Ha ha. No!


It's been a while since I featured a Sartorialist picture:

As usual, no idea if that's gonna work.


Last Exit To Nowhere, "a collection of unique shirt designs which are inspired by and pay homage to some of the most memorable places, corporations and companies in 20th century fiction":

Recently featured in the New York Times magazine:

"Surely it’s not worth the effort to make actual replicants just to capitalize on the Tyrell name."


A glow in the dark deck chair. Of course.


Those of you who loved Brocade Home (i.e. all of you who are my real friends) are directed towards Horchow:


Obviously I'm not a big Playboy fan--I'm more of a Juggs man, myself--but I love the idea of a coffee table book that comes in its own briefcase:


A Mac painted to look like the classic start-up icon:


belOga: Not Your Grandmother's Sewing Machine

"Hey, fuck you Grandma!"


Equation Bookshelf:

Storyline Bookshelf:


I really like Ann Demeulemeester's pins, featuring mythical creatures:

And I really REALLY like her last name. Deh-myew-la-MEE-ster? Awesome.


Calligraphy Robot:

But I'm mostly posting this for James Healey's ridonk photo and comment.

Monday, November 19

Suck It, Trebek

At the end of the second round of Celebrity Jeopardy, the scores are:

Paul Schaffer: $400
Susan Lucci: $800
Scott Turow: $13,600

Sunday, November 18

Tough Love From The Costume Designer For 2001: A Space Odyssey

In 1964, British designer Hardy Amies published The ABCs Of Men's Fashion. It was recently reprinted by V & A, and writer Julian Keeling fondly remembers having been given the book as a teenager.

His slim volume was a masterpiece of essential information, peppered with learned observations, withering put-downs, factual accuracy, arch and bitchy humour and decades of knowledge, all based on the premise that "a man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them."

Of particular delight was to have all my prejudices confirmed. The heading for "Shorts," for instance, simply contains the instruction "see Beachwear." Under "Trouser Cuffs," he has written one sentence: "You can't have any."

Similiarly, he comes down heavily on short-sleeved shirts, which are "ghastly": "In extreme situations, you may roll up your sleeves, but never above the elbow." And again on certain types of hosiery: "It is impossible to be elegant in thick socks" and "pale-coloured socks are right out."

He also offers useful advise for those with other-than-standard body shapes. The short man, he insists, should always strive to be dapper and wear "neat, smooth, well-proportioned clothes. He should never allow what little space given to him to be cut up by patterns in design or contrasts in colour."

To the fat man he offers the following advice: "If you are vain enough, as I hope you are, to read this book, surely you can be vain enough to want to make yourself less fat." He suggests, helpfully, that they "eat less."

Saturday, November 17

Book Covers, 2007

The Book Design Review--a blog I didn't know about but promptly bookmarked and devoured--pick their favorite book covers of 2007:

(Ignore the weird URL; this has nothing to do with the New York Times.)

Friday, November 16


The other day I was at Subway, and a (black) teenager was telling the (black) teenager who was making my sandwich about his new "mic name"...

Kid: NYC.

Subway Kid: NYC? You from New Orleans, bro.

Kid: Naw, naw. It stands for "New Young Carter." NYC.

Subway Kid: You can't call yourself Young Carter! Are you crazy?

Kid: I'm not...I'm NEW Young Carter.

Subway Kid: You can't call yourself New Young Carter. You can't just steal somebody's name. That's like me calling myself Jay-Z II.

[Johnny LLOLs, causing a long awkward pause between the two kids.]

Kid: [quietly] I'm not stealing his name, I'm honoring it. [pause] He stole MY name.

Subway Kid: He did not.

Kid: He did! I was Young Carter, and he stole it.

Johnny: [chuckling] Well, if he stole your name, wouldn't you be Old Young Carter?

[Dead silence]

Affluenza: Special Weekend Edition

Alejandro Paul's new typeface is pretty cool, and a steal at just a sliver
short of a hondo:

Dumb name, though. Feel Script?


Home designed for a Costa Rican writer with 16,000 books:

Heh: "Costa Rican writer" I've heard everything!


My jaw *literally* dropped when I saw this Louis Vuitton menorah:

Unfortunately, it's not real, just some boring artist's pointless satire of
consumerism and how RELIJON = TEH SUX. Grow up, dude.


Helvetica necklace:


Playmobil's new playsets are set in Ancient Rome:

Look at these coooooooool Playmobil marble statues:

Thursday, November 15


Here are some utterly retarded tidbits about The Killers:

Ha!: "In 2001, Brandon Flowers was abandoned by the first band that he was in..."

This did not happen: "He was rejected by a potential guitarist who claimed that 'this "Duran Duran' crap wasn't going to go anywhere.'"

This really did not happen: "After gaining his fame, Flowers was waited on by that same guitarist in a Las Vegas restaurant." (And then when he asked the puzzled manager about it, he was told that the guitarist/waiter no longer worked there, having killed himself...exactly one year ago that night!)

Not a problem!: "In August, Brandon Flowers announced at Belfast's T Vital Festival that their performance would be the last time songs from 'Sam's Town' would be played in Europe."

Oooooh, BURN: "Panic! at the Disco made an appearance on Total Request Live, and made it appear that they don't hold a grudge against the Killers, saying that they 'love the new album.'"

Rehearsing for his next career?: "Flowers has claimed that Green Day's politically driven concept album American Idiot displays 'calculated Anti-Americanism.' He has problems with the album content itself and also the fact that the band's recent live DVD, Bullet in a Bible, was filmed overseas. He said, 'I just thought it was really cheap. To go to a place like England or Germany and sing that song - those kids aren't taking it the same way that he meant it. And he knew it.'"

Wait for it, wait for it...: "He went on to say that he feels The Killers' most recent release, Sam's Town, is a much more accurate representation of American culture."

Thunder Is Your Nightlight, Magic Is Your Dream

The lyrics to Undercover Angel are so insipid it's really hard to imagine someone sitting down to write them, much less looking them over afterwards and being like "Done!"

Crying on my pillow, lonely in my bed,
Then I heard a voice beside me and she softly said,
"Thunder is your night light, magic is your dream."
And then as I held her, she said, "See what I mean?"

I said, "What?"
She said, "Ooh-ooh-ooh, whee."
I said, "All right!"
She said, "Love me, love me, love me!"

Undercover angel, midnight fantasy,
I never had a dream that made sweet love to me.
Undercover angel, answer to my prayer,
You made me know that there's a love for me out there.

Somewhere. Yeah, somewhere.

Heavenly surrender, sweet afterglow
I'm giving up my heart to you, now angel don't go.
She said, "Go find the right one, love her and then,
When you look into her eyes you'll see me again."

I said, "What?"
She said, "Ooh-ooh-ooh, whee."
I said, "All right!"
She said, "Love me, love me, love me!"


Somewhere. Whoa, somewhere.

Now you know my story, and girl, if it's right,
I'm gonna take you in my arms and love you tonight.
Underneath the covers, being so nice,
I'm looking for my angel in your sweet-loving eyes.

[Repeat chorus 300 times]

Thank god Wikipedia is here to explain the "storyline" to us!

The song begins with a man commiserating his loneliness, when a woman suddenly appears in his bed, and encourages him to make love to her. The rest of the song describes his feelings about her, then he discovers she must leave him, and he is saddened. She tells him to "go find the right one, love her and then, when you look into her eyes you'll see me again. He then explains that was his story, as apparently he has been singing this song to a woman whom he is trying to seduce, and how he wants to look in her eyes to see if she is the reincarnation of the angel he found.

Wednesday, November 14

Converse Chuck Taylor® All Star® Luxe Herringbone Ox

Wait...wha-wha-WHAT!? Chuck Taylors in a HERRINGBONE TWEED?

I feel like I'm dreaming...but I'm totally not, 'cause I'm wearing a pair RIGHT NOW!


*I swear to God this really happened.* I wanted to put them on right away and throw away the old beat-up shoes I was wearing, partly because I walked to the Quarter and didn't really want to carry anything I didn't have to, but mostly so I could have them on as soon as possible.

I was sitting on a low wall beside Urban Outfitters ($45, no half sizes available) lacing them up, when two roving garbagemen came by, sweeping up the sidewalk.

GUY 1: Those are TIGHT.
JOHNNY: (beaming) Thank you so much!
GUY 2: What are those? Converses?
GUY 1: They Converses, yeah, but they SOPHISTICATED.

Affluenza: November 14

Chiasso's Child Play Chess Set:


A flask designed to look like it stopped a bullet for you at some point in the past:


Walter Knoll's Lazy Island:

(Does not involve Andy Samberg.)


Two cool new products from OAK:

YMC's Buckle Boot:

United Bamboo's Tie Neck Dress:

"For the dandy punk in everyone"? "Perfect for the ironic hipster sporting a precocious school teacher ensemble"? What. The. Fuck. OAK? Do you even want us to buy these?


Whoa. I LOVE Philippe Starck's BaObab. (It's a desk.)

Dig the one in MAD MEN blue! Awesome!


I know you guys love all this modern minimalist furniture as much as I do, but honestly...deep down, wouldn't we really be more happy if we just cleared out our living rooms and installed an eight-foot bean bag?


Well, here's the most complicated idea for a photo shoot I've heard in a while: "What if we used modern clothes to recreate British skinhead fashions from the mid-70s and put them on black models and pretended that they were photos of an alternate universe Nigeria? And we'd scuff 'em up so they'd look like pictures from the 70s. And we'd call it Lagos Calling, 'cause it's sorta kinda a pun on London Calling, which didn't really have anything to do with skinheads, but you get the point."

The pictures look pretty good, though:

Speaking of Nigeria, check out these amazing portraits by Pieter Hugo:

I think it's safe to say that, when all is said and done, the greatest accessory I ever featured on here will have been a freaking HYENA on A CHAIN. Want!


Stefan Lie's Genie Tea Pot:

Dude's last name is Lie. How cool is that? (If you type Johnny Dale into a cell phone using T9, it defaults to Johnny Fake.)


Artists are exploring and reinventing all sorts of media, so, uh, why not snow globes? Check out Paloma Muñoz and Walter Martin's gorgeous and bleak work:


I really love Elena Dorfman's haunting portraits of cosplayers:

Uh, I realize that for some of you, this is the second cosplay-related link I've sent you in as many weeks. I swear I'm not getting into that scene. (That would be hilarious.)

Speaking of treating fringe cultures with dignity and respect, how cute are these two?

I mean, I don't really wanna hang out with them, but that picture is great. They seem fun and totally in love. (Oh my god, am I projecting?)


FLOR's modern Christmas tree skirt:


Info on Erin Fetherston's Target line, dropping this Sunday:


Egg Pants:


An working exploded iPod, encased in resin:

I love the first comment. So earnest.


A pewter trinket box, in the shape of a banana for some reason:

"Cast from a real banana" but don't worry you died of natural causes.


This is sorta cute...a planter designed to look like an apartment building with a lush rooftop garden:

Monday, November 12

Looking For Gold In The Desert Of His Arid Inner Life

Sorry, I had to post one more Norman Mailer link:

Whoa! "Male chauvinist pig" was coined to describe Mailer? Like, really? Man, what an accomplishment. I'm not even kidding. If that were me, I would put that on my business cards. Hell, I would put it on my HEADSTONE.

(Love Vidal's quip from the floor of the Cavett show, too.)

Saturday, November 10

Executioner's Song

As you've probably heard, Norman Mailer--a great novelist who never wrote a great novel--passed away today.

Anthony Lane, in a 1998 New Yorker article about Legos, detailed perhaps Mailer's greatest contribution to civilization:

If you had to name one American, for instance, who clubbed together with a couple of friends in 1965 and spent more than three weeks building a futuristic seven-foot vertical city out of Lego, you might not immediately think of Norman Mailer. Thirty-three years later, however, the city still stands in Mailer's living room in Brooklyn Heights, and its creator remains enthusiastic about his project. "It was very much opposed to LeCorbusier I kept thinking of Mont-Saint-Michel," he explains. "Each Lego brick represents an apartment. There'd be something like twelve thousand apartments. The philosophers would live at the top. The call girls would live in the white bricks, and the corporate executives would live in the black." The cloud-level towers, apparently, would be linked by looping wires. "Once it was cabled up, those who were adventurous could slide down. It would be great fun to start the day off. Put Starbucks out of business."

Blue Stripe: The Life and Times of a Holodeck Janitor

This is scatalogical Star Trek humor hosted on Something Awful, yet it is unexpectedly hilarious.

The idea that Riker would use the holodeck just to take a shower made me laugh until I was incapacitated.

Thursday, November 8

Emergency Update

Uh, *oh my god.* That Phillip Lim trenchcoat I linked to yesterday COMES IN

Wednesday, November 7

A Review Of "Jesse James" By The Coward Baby Ruthless

Some quick thoughts on The Assassination Of Jesse James, which I saw last week and didn't really have a lot to say about. Yeah, I saw four movies last week. (Yet I still didn't get to Lars And The Real Girl. I guess I've passed over fat Ryan Gosling for my new love, Casey Affleck.)

-The movie is saddled with a weird contemporary (as in, from 2007) narration, who provides unnecessary historical background and occasionally describes what we're already seeing on the screen. I'm gonna have to assume that this was studio-mandated during the film's long and troubled post-production, because it makes the film seem like the most lavish History Channel special ever made.

-Sam Rockwell is all but unrecognizable as a thick-headed toadie. His character turns really affecting late in the movie, and there's an utterly mesmerizing scene where, playing Jesse James on vaudeville, he slowly morphs into Brad Pitt's laconic James.

-Weird casting. (If Sam Rockwell is in your movie, "weird casting" is pretty much a given, right?) And not the expected left-field cameos, either, I mean real head-scratching decisions. I'm talking James Carville as the governor--which caused audible laughter among the Louisianians watching the movie with me--and an utterly WTF cameo from Nick Cave, playing pretty much the same role ZZ Top played in Back To The Future III.

-Anthony Lane: "It is no mean feat to make a boring film about Jesse James, but Andrew Dominik has pulled it off in style..."

-Casey Affleck gave such an amazing and subtle performance I can barely even describe it. He has this way of hooding his eyes and looking off to the left whenever someone doesn't appreciate him for who he thinks he is. If I don't talk that much about it, it's only because it's hard to really talk about. The movie is definitely worth seeing just for Affleck alone.

-"The role of Ford eventually was between Casey Affleck and Shia LaBeouf; Affleck was cast because it was felt that LaBeouf was too young."

-Brad Pitt is also great. He plays James as a sort of cunning shit-kicker right out of a Tom Petty song, apparently basing his portrayal of James on our collective uncles circa 1985. There's something that feels utterly RIGHT about this decision.

What's really genius about this--and, uh, I do sorta think Pitt is occasionally some kind of genius--is that we hardly ever see this side of him, as Jesse is smart enough to hide behind a moody quiet that everyone--most of all Robert Ford--misinterprets as dignified intelligence.

The easy decision would have been to portray James as the sort of "stoic philospher with a six shooter" we saw in all the boring 70s revisionist Western. It's much more interesting to see this, where he plays quiet and reserved as a survival instinct, to mask his inner violent nature.

-This is also the first Western I've seen that stays really true to the upbringing the characters would have had. These are low-brow, brutally unsentimental country folk. As much as I love Deadwood, there's none of the psuedo-Shakespearian dialogue, and Jesse James is no Al Swearingen. For a lot of the film, I felt like I was back up at the fishing camp with my dad's side of the family again.

-This isn't in the movie, but Jesse James’s epitaph, selected by his mother, reads: In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear Here.

-I guess these thoughts weren't so quick after all. In the end, I think I'd have to see the movie again to make up my mind about it, but I know that's never going to happen.

Ultimately, it was one of those movies I see a few times a year, where the whole time I'm watching it, I'm thinking it's one of greatest films I've ever seen. And then the second the credits start, that feeling rapidly fades away. A week later, I can barely remember having seen it. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

A Little Romance

This is either:

-some dude's fictionalized pretentious Second Life pseudo-erotica, or

-a transcript of some dude's actual pretentious Second Life pseudo-erotica.

Either way, it's so hilarious and depressing I'm gonna go get some Indian food.

(Please don't think I'm suggesting you read every single word of this. Just skim it and crack up at how CORNY some guys can get when they don't want to admit they get boners like the rest of us.)

Affluenza: November 7

I find myself wanting to link to literally every single thing featured on Contemporist, a blog featuring minimalist architecture, furniture, and interior

So I decided to cut out the middleman (me) and just link to the site itself.

"This one's a keeper," as Billy would say. The site can be a bit numbing if taken in large doses, but I highly recommend bookmarking or subscribing to the site, especially if you like the sort of stuff I feature here, or enjoy being my friend.


Opus Shelving:

"Can be used outdoors and in wet environments."


Stella McCartney's Funnel Neck Coat:


For a guy, there is no bigger act of self-deception than buying a trenchcoat. In our minds, we know we look like Alain Delon in Le Samouraï...

...but after a few weeks we have to admit to ourselves we look like The Commish.

I try to be pretty populist when it comes to fashion--am I using that word right?--but I feel like wearing a trenchcoat is one of those rare instances where you just need to intrinsically have the ability to pull it off or you'll never get it right. (See also: no socks.) If you have to ask yourself if you're the right person for a trench, you're probably not.

However, I can't imagine anyone looking bad in this awesome Phillip Lim Inspector Trench:

I mean, even brocephus here looks awesome, and he's some Mennonite kid in jeans.

Sure, it's a cold grand, but if you're the sort of person that thinks a thousand bucks is too much to spend on a coat that makes you look like a fucking badass and a stone cold killer...well, have a nice life.


While I was unsuccessfully trying to find a picture of The Commish in a trenchcoat, I discovered this blog entry from an adorable gay black Australian teenager. He makes the point I've been making for years, that Michael Chiklis seems to be aging backwards:

They should put that image on the one-dollar bill, so whenever a dude is feeling down he can reach into his wallet and know There Is Hope For All Of Us.


Jeremy Cowart's photography:


These Obelisk chairs and sofas are pretty neat, even if they would get dated pretty much the second they were delivered:

Your coke dealer will LOVE them, though.


Leesa Leva, Illustrator:


David Friedman Photography: Halloween 2007

I wish this was what The Sartorialist were like.


This retractable-roof stadium in China is based on a magnolia blossom, is awesome:


The Kyle Knit Button Scarf, by Mike & Chris:

I like everything I've ever seen by Mike & Chris, by the way.

Fun trivia: The lady wearing this scarf makes a living as a model. It's true!


An article about Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquess of Anglesey

At the very least, look at the hilarious picture.


Kor Water Flask:

I really like these. I almost bought one at Resto last year, but then I looked into the future and saw it all-but-forgotten on my nightstand, the top missing (probably under my bed), with a thin ring of dried cherry Kool-Aid around the bottom, and I decided to save myself $30.


It never even occurred to me that a hookbox needed to be designed at all, much
less made Mod:

It's cute--I'd prefer plastic to ceramic--but: $270? God, fuck OFF, DWR.

("Works great in multiples..." Nice try, assholes!)


ModernCat, "cat products, cat toys, cat furniture, and more…all with modern style":


Tuesday, November 6

Fancy Man

The common complaint about The Onion is that "only" the headlines are funny, but here's an article where every single line makes me laugh:


Tina Fey on the picket line:


24 Hour Party People isn't as great as I'd been lead to believe, though it certainly passes the time well enough.

Steve Coogan is really good in it, portraying a shyster perpetually on the make, with half-hearted artistic pretensions that he attempts to use to fill up the void in his life. (There's a great scene where, at Ian Curtis' funeral, he kisses Curtis' forehead and quotes Macbeth, then looks around discreetly to see if anyone saw him, and is disappointed to discover he's alone.)

What's interesting about the movie, though, is that it's not his greed or his vanity that bring him and Factory Records down in the end, but the artistic pretensions he's spent his life giving lip-service to. He betrayed his inner nature.


Unchanging Times is a blog that looks at current New York Times stories and then links to previous NYT stories (some almost 100 years old) on the same topic:


New And Improved Stereotypes:


In the comment section of a blog entry, the commenters are savaging someone they see as a "hipster," based on the fact that he's skinny and wearing an iPod. Finally, someone writes:

"If you have to use the word hipster to snark about this, you are a lazy failure and you should be ashamed."



Here's a Mystery Science Theater joke I've been laughing about for ten years. Regarding a low-budget film shot in terrible lighting and terrible film stock, Joel says: "Every shot in this movie looks like someone's last known photograph..."

Monday, November 5

Murderer Of Love

If I say that I can guarantee you Dan In Real Life is ten times better than you think it is, it's only because you probably think it's a piece of shit. The marketing for the film has been terrible, pushing the movie as the guy version of that Mandy Moore/Diane Keaton turd from earlier in the year. "A widowed advice columnist spends all his time protecting his three daughters, and learns that he has to let go...of his girls, and his heart! Turns out someone who makes his living giving advice could use a little advice himself!"

What's most interesting about this description is that it's totally dead-on, and yet almost comically wrong. The movie is in no way the sort of facile heartstring-tugger that the ads would make it appear to be.

Early in the film, Dan's youngest daughter tells him solemnly that "you're a great father, but sometimes you're not a very good dad." In a shittier movie, this would be where the music swells and Dan looks at a picture of his dead wife. Instead, this line triggers a hilariously dead-end argument about whether the little girl came up with this on her own, or if she was fed that line by one of her older sisters. (" I can make things up! I'm in THE FOURTH GRADE.")

The ads seem to imply that he's an advice columnist whose life is hurf durf a total mess. In the film, though, the opposite is true: Dan has his life together. The film opens with a touching sequence where he wakes up before dawn to write his column, so he can finish the laundry and get the girls up for school. In fact, the advice column plays no real role in the movie, and I wish it had been dropped altogether. Nobody else in the movie's large cast has an identified job, but more about that in a second.


An aside: is there any cinematic profession more fetishized than "advice columnist?" I mean, how many professional advice columnists are there in the country? Twenty-five?

And, just as Sex In The City was criticized for the unrealistic portrayal of Carrie's lavish lifestyle on a journalist's budget, this film has similar issues: Dan, an unsyndicated advice columnist, lives in a large two-story shingle-sided house in the Boston suburbs and drives a pleasingly fussy Mercedes station wagon:

But, again, more about this aspect of the movie later.


The movie is a very solid A-, thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end, with a surprisingly low-key tone and an appealling cast. Oh, and Sondre Lerche supplies a greatly affecting soundtrack.

I recommend it highly. I don't want what I'm about to write to take away from the fact that I really liked the film and think you would enjoy seeing it.


Aside from the quality of the film, though, the class aspects of the movie and what it says about us as an audience and a society are really fascinating.

One thing that's remarkable about our visual culture in the last ten years is that, suddenly, everyone is beautiful. The sort of interesting-looking character actors that populated the backgrounds of movies and TV shows in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s have largely disappeared, replaced by uniformly young and gorgeous actors.

(Even our ugly actors are good-looking now; Phillip Seymour Hoffman would shine like a golden god in, say, a 70s Robert Altman movie.)

I'm sure there's a valid thesis to be made about why this is, possibly due to escapism brought about by America's increasing isolationism, or something. That's not that interesting to me. What *is* interesting is that, all of a sudden, everyone is rich, too.

The ludicrously large apartments that were mocked endlessly on Friends a decade ago have become de rigeur on television now. They're tastefully appointed and well-decorated, regardless of what the character's profession is. Charlie and Alan Harper's living room makes you wonder where they got that cool lamp; Gabe and Julie Kotter's apartment made you want to kill yourself.

A recent plotline on How I Met Your Mother that explored just how the characters afforded their sitcom lifestyles (answer: massive credit card debt) was as shocking to our suspension of disbelief as seeing a boom mike dangling over Barney's head.

I've written before about "lifestyle porn", usually in context of displaying ostentatious wealth onscreen. James Bond movies are the usual example of this genre. However, Dan In Real Life is another, and much more hardcore, form of lifestyle porn.

The film looks (literally and intentionally, I like to think) like the movie adaptation of a J. Crew catalog. It's all of our most cherished familial fantasies come to life: a close-knit family of inherently decent and loving people spend a long weekend in their large Cape Cod vacation house. During the day, they engage in various kooky and good-natured family competitions: boys versus girls crossword contests, an inter-family talent show, impromptu sing-alongs, early-morning calisthenics on the lawn. In the evening, they linger into the night over lavish but homespun meals, served on a rough-hewn table decorated with tea lights. They've died and gone to Martha Stewart Living.

They're not rich, exactly...despite all the clear signs of wealth, the family is solidly upper-middle-class in both its values and its aesthetic. Dan's affair with his brother's girlfriend is a scandal, not something to be shrugged over while sipping champagne, and there are no flashy dressers in the family. You get the sense that patriarch John Mahoney bought all of this stuff by working at a job. Perhaps he was an English professor (as Mahoney himself actually was in the 70s), or maybe he founded a company that made, I don't know, ruggedly old-fashioned outdoor gear for the serious fly fisherman.

It doesn't matter. What does matter is that we're never actually told any real details about the family. Dan is the only one with an identified job; there are kids everywhere--including an Asian girl--but good luck figuring out whom they belong to, or even who's a sibling and who's a spouse. No one has a personal agenda or what actors call "motivation." Like the best pornography, Dan In Real Life stays vague enough that you can project your own personal desires into it.

The outsider of the group, Juliette Binoche, IS wealthy. She has an accent and she's travelled extensively, living in a handful of countries. The family unreservedly loves her--Wiest jokingly tells Dane Cook at one point that they prefer her to him (NO DUH)--and welcome her warmly. But in an utterly fascinating twist, it's very vaguely implied that though wealthier than the family, she doesn't have as much money. She's higher-class, not necessarily better-paid, and life is getting rougher for her.


All of the above might sound like a criticism of the film, but in fact it's anything but. The film may be an unrealistic fantasia, but it's a vision that's enormously appealling to me. You know you're being had, but you allow yourself to be swept up in the possibility that it could be real.

Tarantino (sorry) talks about "comfort films," movies you put on just to hang out with the characters again. This movie certainly qualifies, almost becoming a cherished daydream we return to throughout our lives. In my 20s, the daydream involved epic slow-motion kung-fu, but as I get older it starts to look more and more like a crowded Cape Cod vacation house.

The film serves, in its own way, as a vital document, a chronicle of bourgeois aspiration circa 2007. But it's more personal than that. We watch a James Bond movie and know, deep down, that we'll probably never drop an Aston Martin off with the valet of a five-star hotel in Monte Carlo.

But all of us suspect that, if only we could become the more perfect versions of ourselves we know we're capable of being, we could take our rightful place at that large family dinner, sit at the rustic table loaded with home-cooked food, and be surrounded by family and friends who love us for who we truly are. Who look up as we join them at last and say simply, "You're home."

Saturday, November 3


Sad news: Stylus Magazine has suspended publication. Smarter than Pitchfork,
less self-concious than Vice. RIP

Let's reminisce about the good ol' days with Dom Passantino's review of The
Beekeeper, featuring a truly jaw-dropping first line: