Monday, July 31, 2006

Maybe He's A Better Role Model

While Mel is slurring his speech and fellow human beings, his sometimes co-star Danny Glover is actually trying to make the world a better place. A long-time political activist, Glover is trying to organize Puerto Rico's hotel workers into joining the local branch of a large U.S. labor union, hoping to improve pay and benefits.

Whatever you might think of his politics, Glover is at least working actively to make a difference in the lives of everyday folks. A bright spot in an environment that is otherwise too bleak these days.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

It Reads Funnier When Said With A Twang

As much as I've been tempted to weigh in on the Mel Gibson fracas of the last couple of days, my friends at Donutbuzz have that subject well covered, and nicely articulated. You should give it a read.

So, I'm relegated to keeping it lite.

Owen Wilson's response to Steely Dan's goofy complaint that You, Me and Dupree was a rip-off of their song Cousin Dupree was just plain brilliant. And, as funny as anything Wilson has spoken since his part in Meet The Parents. His statement read, in part:

"I have never heard the song 'Cousin Dupree' and I don't even know who this gentleman, Mr. Steely Dan, is. I hope this helps to clear things up and I can get back to concentrating on my new movie, HEY 19. "


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rumors Of Iron Man

Iron Man, The Musical, er...The Movie, I mean, has been in pre-production and semi-production and stalled-production for quite some time. For whatever reason, the flick just can't seem to get off the ground.

Last week at the Comic-Con, a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-guy-who-reads-comics overheard someone say that Tom Cruise will star as billionaire super-hero Tony Stark. The Internet went abuzz, and Cruise fans went ga-ga.

Ain't gonna happen, folks. First, the whole iron suit thing is too confining for the heart-throb. It wouldn't show off his pearly whites and always-perfect hair. Secondly--and most important--Iron Man sucks. He is a second tier hero, below even Daredevil and Electra.

The Kid Got Called Out

Finally, someone had the guts to call out a spoiled celeb. My coal-minin' Daddy would be proud.

"...Your ongoing all night heavy partying is the real reason for your so-called 'exhaustion." Smear some B-12 on that, honey.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Discovering Edmond

I'm a huge fan of William H. Macy. And his long-time friend and sometimes-collaborator David Mamet. But, I had not heard of Edmond, released recently in limited areas across the country. Edmond is directed by Stuart Gordon, of Re-Animator fame ( I didn't sleep well for weeks after seeing that movie years ago), and is based on a 20 year-old Mamet play.

For those interested, there is an interesting interview with Macy about Edmond, from Ain't It Cool News. The film looks like a winner, and if it comes anywhere near here (which I doubt) I'll be first in line. That said, if anyone else sees it, I'd appreciate a review.

MTV Turns 25 (That's 13 To You And Me, Russ)

Growing up, I didn't have cable. I couldn't have watched it if I did have it, though, as I was too busy working on the farm, hiking through three foot snow drifts to and from my one-room school and fighting off wild, rabid animals that menaced me and my siblings.

I'm sorry, that wasn't me. Those are memories I have from watching Little House On The Prairie. My bad...

But it is true that I didn't have cable TV. So, I didn't get to watch the beginnings of the social and pop cultural revolution that was music television. I wanted my MTV, I just couldn't have it.

I see that MTV is now celebrating it's 25th anniversary. Like many 25-year-olds, MTV seems to be struggling with it's identity. Questioning it's relevance. Pondering it's future. Obsessively curious about adulthood, and how it will fit in with the same crowd it used to defy and dismiss.

The adults.

Remember when MTV was just 15 years old? Being young and hip allowed it to make fun of the other adult networks and cable channels? It regularly gave the finger to those old bastards by using the original ideas and creative efforts that come with a youthful, fresh perspective. MTV gave a stage to music-themed aid movements, and invented reality TV.

At 21, MTV became pretty self-absorbed, thinking itself too hip and cool for the friends it used to hang with. The channel lost a lot of friends with that attitude, but it didn't seem to care. It was still young, full of piss and vinegar. Quick with the "screw 'em" attitude for anyone that didn't get it. The Osbournes was great TV, MTV said. Trust us...You'll get it, eventually.

At 24, MTV hung around a lot with the 17-year-olds, often buying them beer and cigs. MTV knew making the wrong move with those not-quite-adults was risky, but risky behavior was still OK. The channel wasn't really an adult, yet. Mistakes were understandable, after all, because MTV was just a kid. Madonna kissed Britney Spears. And Christina Aguilera. At the same time. MTV was cool again, yes? Well, it tried to be.

Now 25, MTV has reached a crossroads. It can't rely on it's youthful exuberance any longer. It can't party every night with the teens, and still feel fresh when it gets to the office first thing in the morning. Buying the kids beer ain't cool at 25; in fact, it's kinda creepy. And when it screws up, MTV can no longer argue: "But I'm just a kid. Give me another chance." Nope. 25-year-olds who say that sound pathetic. And rightfully so.

So, happy birthday, MTV. And good luck. You have a long life ahead of you. The lifestyle you choose--and the consequences it brings-- is up to you.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's All About Perspective, I Suppose

My Dad made his living and raised a family mining coal. Even those of you who know little about the industry probably would guess--correctly--that the business is hard. Physically, emotionally and financially. It's a tough gig for the toughest among us, and requires a workforce that understands the importance and value of a strong work ethic.

I think growing up watching that work ethic is what makes me more-than-annoyed when I see stories like this: Lindsay Lohan reportedly overcome by heat. The story, in today's USA Today Online Edition, reports Lohan became overheated and dehydrated while filming for 12 hours in 105 degree LA heat. She required medical treatment, and was taken to the hospital.


Lohan was given a B-12 shot, and released.

Maybe I'll suggest that to Dad the next time I see him. Although he never complains, I get the sense his back and legs ache a bit. A good B-12 shot just might do the trick.

Hassellhoff's Got Talent

The former Knight Rider and Baywatch star's divorce from Pamela Bach has just been finalized. After 16 years, it's kaput for the couple.

How do you vote?

Baywatch: The Lost Episodes

It seems the producers of Lost are adding a new cast member, Rodrigo Santoro, to the show in season three. From the article , which provides only sketchy details, Santoro is known as "The Brazilian Tom Cruise."


Now, I've never really questioned my sexuality, but this guy is just way too pretty. And it just makes me plain mad that more eye candy is being added to the show. Apparently, Flight 815 from Australia carried the sexiest passengers in airline history.
Hey, maybe that's the mystery.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Keane (2004) stars Damian Lewis as William Keane, a man struggling mentally and emotionally over the loss of his daughter. Maybe.

We're not certain, you see, because Keane is losing it, big time. The loss (or perceived loss) due to abduction is so devastating that one year later he searches daily the area she was last seen, hoping to find clues to where she might be. He reads every scrap of paper he finds on the street, hoping that one might be a letter she has written him, with information about how to find her. He looks in every car that passes by for her, and asks strangers on the street if they have seen her. Just in case.

Keane is a really interesting film for a couple of reasons. First, most folks--and particularly parents--can empathize with the loss of a child due to abduction. Nothing from the moment a child is abducted--not one goddamned thing--would matter, except for the return of the missing child. How this would effect the mental health of the parent is the other interesting part of this movie. Has the tragedy caused the emotional breakdown that Keane is experiencing? Or, is the tragedy simply a part of his mental illness, and didn't occur at all?

The movie is dark, and disturbing. There is no soundtrack, and has few supporting characters. While the movie is pretty simple in design, the pace is desperate and frantic. Damian Lewis is terrific in the lead role, drawing the audience into his pain and angst with minimal and subtle acting. The viewer feels what Keane is experiencing, from the opening to the close. And the ending offers few answers regarding a conclusion, because there really will be none; William Keane is dramatically and permanently changed due to whatever experience he had, and nothing will fix what he has become as a result.

Keane isn't for everyone, but I really liked it. Be prepared to be a bit depressed after seeing it, though. ***

Steely Dan: Don't Lose Our Number!

This from Ken Barnes' "Listen Up" section of USA Today Online Edition:

Steely Dan members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are suggesting the recent comedy You, Me and Dupree is a rip-off of their song, Cousin Dupree. They've written a rather odd, public letter to Owen Wilson's brother, Luke (for some reason), asking him to intervene and get Owen to set the record straight. Their open letter can be read here.

Jumpin' The Shark

One of my guilty pleasures--and I say "one of" 'cause, well...I have quite a few--is the TV show Nip/Tuck. (By the way, when you talk about this show, do you call it "Nip. Tuck.? Or, as I do, Nip and Tuck? Just curious.) Anyway, my wife turned me on to the show in it's second season, and I got hooked.

It's like crack to me, except the people are pretty and the drama is over within the hour.

I hate it when a show becomes a caricature. It happens way too often, when writers use up all their ideas and end up bringing in a kid actor to freshen up the plot. Or, when they allow the lead actors to sleep together to satisfy the tension built up within the audience. Or, when a show starts bringing on guest star after guest star. This, more than the others, reeks of desperation, and a lazy approach to boost ratings. And it's exactly what Nip/Tuck is doing this upcoming season, which begins September 5.

C'mon...I mean, Catherine Deneuve, Richard Chamberlain, Jacqueline Bisset, Melissa Gilbert, Rosie O'Donnell, Peter Dinklage. Brooke Shields, Larry Hagman and Kathleen Turner are in the first episode alone! Don't believe me? You can read it here, yourself. (Update: Anonymous #2 from my comments section is correct about one thing. All these folks are not in the first episode. I misread two sentences in the article.)

I still smell the blood in the water. The shark is about to jump.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yadkinized, The Mystery Hole And Sweatin' In Yawkey

I spent most of the day driving.

I really enjoy traveling about in my home state of West Virginia, and through the Appalachian Mountains in general. My job allows me to travel pretty freely across the region, so I get to experience a lot of differing cultures, interesting people and (sometimes) unusual places.

And occasionally, something that occurred in my travels has a pervasive impact on my life. Take being yadkinized, for example.

Way back in 1995 some co-workers and I were traveling to a conference of some type that was to be held in southern North Carolina. My then-boss, who was driving, was complaining that the CEO of our company had instructed him to put together--bear with me, cause this is pretty lame--a company bell choir for the agency's holiday party. My then-boss was really grumbling about it, and I was half-listening from the backseat.

Then, just as we crossed into Yadkin County, North Carolina, he said:

"Film Geek [well, you know what I mean] I'm passing the bell choir off to you. Put the thing together, and let me know when you get it done."

I had just been yadkinized. Defined as: When one is assigned a job or task by another because (1) the person originally assigned the task doesn't want to do it, and (2) that person has the authority to make you do it instead.

I didn't do the bell choir, and hoped it would be forgotten about. It was. It wasn't the last time I'd be yadkinized, though. Not by a long shot.

One of my favorite places in south-central West Virginia is The Mystery Hole. I haven't' been there in years, but I used to love this place. It amazes, frightens and confuses, all at once. And you can get a cool T-shirt afterwards.

I was able to drive through the south-western portion of the state for the first time in years today. I really enjoyed the scenery, and the traffic was so low that I was able to take my time and really roll through the hills. Until Yawkey,West Virginia, when my air conditioning went out. 93 degrees is a hot drive, even in the hills, so I was really sweating by the time I got to Hamlin. So tomorrow, I have to take my car to be serviced, and get the a/c fixed.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to do it, cause my schedule is so full. Wonder if I can yadkinize Mrs. Film Geek...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Looking Forward To Spidey

Yeah, yeah...I know. It's way too early to start talking about Spider-Man 3. But, here's a terrific post about the upcoming movie and the Comic-Con panel discussing it, from Ain't It Cool News.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I'm a muller.

I've always been a person who questions things, and will probably never change. I mull over things hard, and often can't figure out the answers to what should be life's simplest questions.

You can typically find me pondering things like:

Why can't Robin Williams be reported about in print without being described as: "Funnyman Robin Williams?"

Why is every girlfriend, drink of wine and breath of air better for Tom Cruise than the last one he had?

Why doesn't my wife understand that it's Bruce Wayne that is the alter ego, while The Batman is the core persona?

If one member of 'N Sync was a girl, would they still be included in the genre of boy bands?

Why does there even exist such a genre?

Why does Oprah not realize O magazine's What I Know For Sure article sounds pretentious and vain?

Can there really be too much of a good thing? (If so, I've never experienced it.)

Is 40 the new 30? Or are those of us already there just foolin' ourselves?

Knowing what we now know about reality TV, why do people continue to try out for those shows?

Is blogging similar to the CB craze of the 70s?


My Super Ex-Girlfriend

After a severe thunderstorm wrecked havoc on our community and caused a power outage at my house for almost a day-and-a-half, I was desperate to watch anything in order to get out of the house and into some air conditioning this weekend.

Hell, I'd have been first in line to see a Sharon Stone movie, if she had one that played in theaters for any length of time these days.

Thankfully, My Super Ex-Girlfriend was playing at the local multi-plex. Cool, refreshing air conditioning, hot buttered popcorn, a cold soda and my bride. Heaven.

The cherry on top was that the movie gave me the opportunity to play my favorite movie- joke on Mrs. Film Geek. I do a variation of it often, just to bug her. I wait until the lights dim, during those few seconds just before the previews start. The audience is silent, waiting in anticipation. In that very quiet moment I lean into my wife and say something about the upcoming movie that is so obvious that it makes me look like a goof. And I say it loud. Really loud, so most everyone can hear.

At this movie--and in my best dumb-guy voice--I said: "Uh...You know, uh...This movie stars Luke Wilson. He's one of them Wilson boys. He's brother to Owen, dat blonde guy from The Wedding Crashers."

It embarrasses her, and makes me chuckle. The rest is gravy.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend was not a bad movie at all. It was funny in all the right spots, had good effects and an interesting, if predictable, plot. Wilson was funny, and Uma Thurman was good in her dual roles of Jenny/G-Girl.

The most interesting aspect of this movie for me, though, was thinking how true this movie would be if it was possible for regular folks (like me, and you) to have super powers. Sure, Superman is full of virtue and handles his life with such dignity. Batman and Spider-man have personal lines they won't cross when apprehending criminals. If I was a super-hero, though, how would my powers effect my insecurities? Would petty jealousy cause me to use them to lash out at someone? Would I use my power to improve my finances, or to get a date with the hottest woman in town? My Super Ex makes you ponder these questions, I think, because the characters play so normal in the movie, even when they obviously are not.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend is pretty funny, with an interesting plot and a good story. I recommend it, especially if you need A/C and some refreshingly cool soda.

Basic Instinct 2

I haven't really liked a Sharon Stone movie since Total Recall, way back in 1990. And then, I liked her in that role only because: (1) she was in the movie for only a short while, and (2) her character is killed by Arnold after a merciless butt-kicking. I want to like Stone. Really. But I just cant, no matter how hard I try. The original Basic Instinct? Pretty good movie, but her acting was over-the-top. Sliver? She made that movie trading on her first Instinct cred, and her acting was way over-the-top. That western she made with Gene Hackman, The Quick And The Dead? Over-the-top.

Oh! I liked her in Casino. But then her character snorted cocaine in front of her young child, making me somewhat nauseas and placing her and that movie on this list of disturbing movie scenes.

I'm just not a fan.

She tries too hard. And it shows. It shows in her dialogue, her body language and the roles she chooses. She can't do subtle. Stone seems to know only one gear, and you either like it or you don't. I don't.

Stone's over-the-top acting killed this Basic Instinct sequel, but the movie was nearly dead already. Basic Instinct 2, like Stone, tries to hard. It wants to remind us of the original, and even uses many of the same themes to set a mood ("There's no smoking in here" is used in this movie more than once). The plot is extreme, the acting is awful and the dialogue is cheesy. I hated this movie so much that I stopped watching half-way through.

It was unbearable.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

He Was Crazy Like A Fox

Jack Warden, a veteran actor well-known for strong supporting and character roles, died this week at age 85.

Warden's most acclaimed work may have been in supporting roles for Warren Beatty; he was nominated for an academy award in 1975 for Shampoo, and again in 1978 for Heaven Can Wait. Warden won an Emmy in 1971 for his work in Brian's Song. In the 80's, Warden starred in the TV comedy-drama Crazy Like A Fox, which was pretty successful for a number of years.

I enjoyed Warden's work most in ...And Justice For All. One of my all-time favorite flicks.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Duck Season!...Rabbit Season!

Looks like there may be some controversy with Little Man, the new movie from the Wayans family. According to some, Little Man may have lifted a little too much from the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, Baby Bugs Bunny.

Lots of folks have stolen from Bugs...In fact, I play out the Duck! Rabbit...Duck! classic a couple of times each month with my wife and kids. In the basement, in full costume.

Ahem...That's more than enough about me.

I'm taking bets, though, that the 1954 classic from Warner is better than the new Wayans flick. Any takers?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This And That

Ran across these interesting oddities (or oddly interesting tidbits, depending upon your perspective) this morning. Even with coffee, they have fewer calories than the muffin and bagel I might have had otherwise:

He Can't See Brick Pillars: Haley Joel Osment, who starred in The Sixth Sense as the "I see dead people" kid, wrecked his 1995 Saturn at 1:00am Thursday near Los Angeles. He hit a brick pillar, and flipped the car. Although taken to an area hospital, there is no current word of his condition. I hope the kid is OK.
It's cool to see a child star driving a 1995 Saturn, though...
Dakota Fanning, take note!

I Think I Dated Her In College: I'm not a huge fan of Uma Thurman or flicks that use a lot of sight gags, but for some reason I am looking forward to seeing this movie. That may be because it plays to a basic infatuation many men have...We are often--and at the same time--attracted to and frightened by strong, emotional and unpredictable women. The plot to me is just damn funny.

Please, Someone Do An Intervention: Daniel Baldwin wrecked his car while driving 80 miles an hour on a Los Angeles street. Oh yeah...He was driving on a suspended license. No matter how hard you try, Daniel, you can't rid yourself of Car 54, Where Are You? Live with it, pal.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hittin' The Early Homer

I had one of my favorite movie dates one Friday night in the Fall of 1999. My wife and I, having secured a sitter for our young child, were eager to hit the streets for the first time in what seemed like months. (Those of you with young children will understand what I mean by eager to get out of the house. It was a necessity!) After talking Mrs. Film Geek out of hittin' the clubs (I tell you, that chick loves to dance) we agreed to spend the night at the movies.

One this particular Friday night, I compromised with my wife: in exchange for no dancing, we would watch horror flicks, her favorite type of movie. While I don't like horror at all, I like the bright lights even less. So, horror it was. We hit the early showing of The Blair Witch Project, which we really liked (for all the now-obvious reasons), and then we saw The Sixth Sense.

We talked about this movie for days afterwards. It was, for us at least, an instant classic. And the director, this newcomer whose name I couldn't pronounce, was a genius. The next Spielberg. A prodigy who would become a master among otherwise common story-tellers.

M. Night Shyamalan followed up The Sixth Sense with Unbreakable, Signs and The Village. All cashed in well a the box office, and most were reviewed well by critics. His next flick, Lady In The Water opens this weekend, and is getting tons of press.

Mostly though, there seems to be an uneasiness--sort of a nagging feeling, really--that people have with Shyamalan's ongoing body of work: despite the artistic integrity of his flicks and the more-than-acceptable box office, people want The Sixth Sense all over again. They want the hook, the plot they can't figure out. They want the grand slam home run. And they want it now.

Shyamalan writes and directs movies that are true works of art. The pace of his movies remind me of old Hitchcock masterpieces. He creates incredible suspense with interesting camera angles and color. He lets the story unfold, pulling the audience in slowly, but intimately. He has such patience.

I wish the movie audiences had more patience with Shyamalan.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Like Father, Like Son

Last evening as my kids and I were goofing around outside, a really large flock of birds flew overhead. My son, Jaden, became very excited:

Jaden: "Daddy...Daddy! Look. All those birds!

Me: "Wow...that is a whole lotta birds. Where do you think they are going?

Jaden: "...To the movies."

Please, Make It Stop: Part 5

Dear Oprah:

A moment ago I poured my second cup of coffee and sat down to read the online news. I skipped over most of the stories regarding the Middle East and national politics, sadly. These days I'm a bit tired of the difficulties we humans create for ourselves, and the tragedies that occur due to differences of opinion, culture, religion or economics. Frankly Oprah, all those headlines began to blend together for me a couple of years ago, when I realized I'd had enough. So, I dropped out. Most days, I head straight for the Life section of the USA Today. It's easier. Simpler. And except for a few nutty celebs, a whole lot less frustrating.

Which brings me to this letter, and my point.

One of the headlines that caught my attention this morning centered on you denying that you are gay. Seems your 30-year friendship with Gayle King has been questioned by some as being more than platonic. Although I had never questioned your sexuality, lots of folks apparently have, causing you to believe it necessary to explain otherwise.

Trust me, O. It isn't.

I won't watch your show any more or less because of your announcement. I won't have more compassion for you, nor will I sign up for your book reading club. Your comments also won't make me seek out your friend Gayle in whatever-gig-she-is-doing-now, or hope against hope that she lands the vacant spot on The View. I simply don't care to whom you may or may not be attracted.

And I wish more people cared less, too.

Power and huge amounts of cash often lead folks to feelings of superiority. And when people feel superior, they con themselves into thinking that the tiniest aspect of their lives has significant meaning to the masses. That perspective is a dangerous one to buy into, Oprah, because it has an obvious superficial appearance. When one begins to believe their own press, expects others to heed maxims and cliches designed to sound like advice and speaks out against the rumor that she is gay (but not about press that suggested she is the nation's spiritual leader), there is something wrong with one's perspective. It needs adjusted. Reminded of really important qualities of life, like humility. And the personal dignity that comes from doing good quietly, without cameras and photo ops.

Anyway, Oprah, friendships like that you seem to share with Gayle are rare. I wish more of us had those types of lifelong relationships. Enjoy it. Just remember, though, that simply because it is important to you does not mean the rest of our society gives a damn.


The Film Geek

Sunday, July 16, 2006


My post about Stay may be my shortest about a movie yet. And that's a shame, because this movie is so great that it deserves lengthy discussion regarding it's plot, the visual way the story is told by director Marc Forster and the incredible acting by stars Ewan McGregor, Ryan Gosling and Naomi Watts. Problem is, there isn't much I can say about the movie without giving away spoilers. And believe me, you don't want the spoilers...You want to enjoy this movie moment by moment, and allow the film to reveal itself to you. It is that satisfying.

Stay is a rare gem: a movie I hadn't heard much about, didn't consider seeing in a theater and didn't know what to expect when I hit "play." Like similar gems from years past--movies like Memento, or The Sixth Sense, for example--Stay keeps you thinking long after the credits end. The most basic part of the plot, which involves psychiatrist McGregor trying to help Gosling, his patient in crisis, is all you need to know for starters. But don't get too wrapped up in that dynamic, cause you soon realize that all is not what it seems.

If you take my advice and see this movie, stick around a few moments into the credits for a hauntingly beautiful song. And let me know what you think of Stay...I really wanna talk about it! ****

By the way, if you want spoilers, they are here...and here. (But, you don't...Trust me.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Discovering The Video Junkyard

One day in 1979, when I was 14 years old, I walked up to the counter at the Ben Franklin store (commonly called the Five & Dime in my hometown) and plopped down a copy of Aquaman, two Superman titles and an issue of World's Finest. The cashier looked at me with a crooked brow, which caused me to clear my throat and shuffle my feet as I weakly proclaimed:

"My brother sure loves comic books."

The lady--who, in my memory, looks a lot like my junior high school's cafeteria lady, for some odd reason--didn't respond. She slowly began to ring up the total with an I'm-on-to-you look.

"He's just a kid. 8 years old. Picked these up for him so he can use them to help in learning to read," I said, while doing my best Barney Fife nervous shuffle.

Granny Cashier took my money, handed me the change and my comics in a bag, and I rushed the hell out. Embarrassed. Insecure. A known liar and a lover of comic books!

Several years later, after moving away for college, I discovered comic shops. I loved my town's comic shop...The smell of the old boxed issues, the colorful racks with new issues, the mounds of just-delivered comics each Friday morning. But most of all, the people there didn't judge me. They understood me. They accepted me. No longer needing an excuse to buy comics was liberating, and comforting. I found myself wanting to hang out there, to talk to people about story-lines, art and characters. Conversations I couldn't have on the outside.

This YouTube video is of a failed Comedy Central pilot from 2000, and stars Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Sarah Silverman. Super Nerds is about a couple of guys who own a comic shop, and the geeky folks like me who stop in from time to time. It isn't drop dead funny, nor is it a real artistic achievement. But, I sure understand it, and it makes me feel comfortable and safe. More than a failed sitcom, this video seems a lot like real life to me.

Match Point

Match Point has a really interesting pedigree. Written and directed by Woody Allen, the film co-stars Scarlett Johansson (in an uncharacteristically emotional role), and Jonathan Rhys Meyers who, as Chris Wilton, seems to be both constantly plotting and perpetually plodding.

Match Point isn't Annie Hall. Or Sleeper. Or at all like any other Woody Allen movie you can name. It's in no way a comedy, and not really a thriller. The film is really a look into the role luck plays in the lives of it's characters. Like a tennis ball that hangs on the net for just a brief second, luck can work for or against you. Which side of the net the ball finally bounces--and the effect it has when it eventually lands--is central to the movie's plot and final outcome.

Struggle through the mostly boring first half, because in the end the film is worth it. Johansson acts great and is really sexy, and Meyers has a controlled intensity that never seems to let up. For some reason, Match Point reminded me of old Fred MacMurray movies, like Double Indemnity. **

Friday, July 14, 2006

Giving Credit Where It's Due

Excerpted from AOL Movie News:

BEIJING (July 7) - A Chinese actress who played Hollywood movie star Zhang Ziyi 's naked body double in "The Banquet" wants her name in the movie's credits, state media reported on Friday.

"The Banquet," a Feng Xiaogang-directed film set for release in China in the autumn, stars "Memoirs of a Geisha" actress Zhang Ziyi and features several body doubles to play her in nude and fight scenes, the Nanfang Daily newspaper said. Shao Xiaoshan said she was paid 20,000 yuan ($2,500) for shooting several nude scenes in comments carried by the paper.

There may be a lawsuit. Who says jury duty sucks?

Tonto Gets No Love

I'm calling for a boycott!

Boycotts work for Bill O'Reilly. Well...At least he calls for them all the time. When his dander gets up, he calls on his boyz to boycott things. Including countries, for Christ's sake. That's because boycotts are the life's blood of American protest. A way to right wrongs, and a method to draw attention to major slights and faux pas.

The reason for this boycott, you ask?

Tonto was left off the list of All-Time Top 50 Second Bananas.

The Top 5 of all-time were (5) Lucy's friend, Ethel Mertz; (4)Chewbacca; (3) George Costanza; (2)Batman's chum, Robin; and (1) Ed McMahon.

The rest-of-the-50 included such side-kicks as: Tattoo, from Fantasy Island, Robin Quivers, Howard Stern's perpetual laugh track and Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite.

No Tonto, Kimosabe.

It escapes me how the Lone Ranger's best bud could be left off a list of 50. And a list that includes Pedro. It's just wrong. Tonto is the quintessential side-kick. The mold from which all other second bananas are created.

Tonto started it all!

So, I'm calling for a boycott. But I don't know who or what the boycott should take on. I need suggestions, and I need 'em quick.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Brothers Grimm

The Brothers Grimm is another movie I stayed away from for quit a while. Not that I thought it wasn't good, really. Fact is, I typically hate movies that are set back in the day, and those where the characters have thick accents or dialect. I usually can't follow the dialogue; I'm just not that bright.

Terry Gilliam directs Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in The Brothers Grimm. Because I like Gilliam's work, I decided to give his latest a shot. Mostly, I'm glad I did.

Jake and Will Grimm play hustlers, circa lat 1790s, who find themselves hip deep in a supernatural mystery where children are being stolen and used, ultimately, for the resurrection of an evil queen. The plot isn't that interesting, really. The best aspect of this movie is Gilliam's use of imagery and visual technique. The forest in which the Brothers Grimm travel is a character in and of itself, and the atmosphere sets a disturbing tone that lasts throughout the flick.

The Brothers Grimm ain't a great flick, but it's nowhere near as bad as I expected. It may be best watched late at night, with really low lighting. **

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

She Has A Way About Her

On rare occasion, I publicly admit the crush I have on Sarah Jessica Parker. It's well known in my family. I've seen everything she has acted in (more than once), and I dig the kooky way she dresses. Hell, it's a recording of her voice that announces that I have email when I sign on to my server.

My wife enjoys my crush, and even plays along with it from time to time. This isn't only because she feels confident in our relationship...In fact, it's mostly because (1) Parker and I don't run in the same circles, and (2) Mrs. Film Geek's contention that if I did meet Parker in a bar, she wouldn't talk to me.

When I disagree and insist that she would, my wife retorts: "Cool. When you introduce yourself, be sure you tell her you are once-divorced, in your early 40s and have nearly a handful of children. Then, enjoy your whirlwind romance with the movie star."

Disillusionment. It sure sucks.

Which brings me to this article about Christie Brinkley, who is going through divorce number four.

Like many boys I knew, I had posters of Christie Brinkley on my walls during my teen years. (And maybe at least one on my ceiling, if I recall correctly.) I had a huge crush on her, and recall being a bit envious of Billy Joel when they married. She was beautiful, seemed smart and was something of a muse for Joel. Hell, most of his best songs were about her! What more could an artist want outta love?

I can't help but wonder, though, if I would have been less attracted to Brinkley if I had known then (via my obvious psychic powers) that she would marry and divorce so many times. That the muse had a limit, or that she may have baggage that isn't quite so obvious. Like Rush Limbaugh (sorry my neo-con friends, I couldn't resist). And like me, of course. Who knows,...Brinkley and I may share some similarities. (Except that I no longer have super-model legs.) Would knowing her future have made a difference to me at 16?

Nah, probably not.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fortune Cookie Mysteries: Chapter 4

It's been a long time since I last ate at the Chinese buffet place nearby which, I allege, often tries to pass to me very private and personal messages via fortune cookie. But, Mrs. Film Geek asked me to lunch (and she was paying) so we stopped by there.

Now, I'm not as paranoid as I was the day I wrote this. Or even this. But, I can't help but think something is up when my fortune cookie arrives (sans oranges, by the way, which always upsets me) and reads: "As the purse is empty, the heart is filled."


How did these geniuses know in advance that my wife would shell out the $17.35, and that I would be thrilled that the cash wasn't coming out of my pocket.

The mystery continues.

By the way, the lucky numbers are: 4, 46, 8, 27, 3 and 17. As always, play responsibly. Void where prohibited.

I Coulda' Been An Actor, But I Wound Up Here

Got real chops? This on-line data base houses casting call information from across the nation, and lets you plug yourself in to auditions.

I might just give that play Rent a shot...I've been workin' on some new moves.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Norm Was Right!

During his fake news segments at SNL, Norm McDonald loved to say: "Germans love David Hasselhoff." I think this video demonstrates why.

Thanks to my friend Paula for sending this my way. I'm adding it to my favorite places!

Yo! [cough...wheeze] Adrian

Thanks to USA Today's Pop Candy section for this link to YouTube, which provides some sketchy info on a new Rocky movie that will be released late in 2006.

Is there really any interest in one more fight? And, how many "just one more" fights does Sly have in this character, anyway?

Speaking of Sly, just ran across this picture of his ex? What the hell?

Flavor Flav must have put some real hurt on this chick.

Whatever Happened To...Billie Hayes

Billie Hayes is well known to those of us who grew up fascinated by those strange, almost-psychedelic Saturday morning TV shows produced by Sid and Marty Krofft.

Hayes co-starred as Witchipoo in H.R.Pufinstuf during the late 60s and early 70s, and has worked pretty steadily since by doing episodic TV and voice work.

My favorite Billie Hayes role is Weenie the Geenie on Lidsville.

In the middle of the summer, in the middle of the park
There began a great adventure for a boy whose name was Mark

You remember...

The hat began to grow, and grow and grow and grow...

Mark falls into the giant hat, and into a surreal word he can't escape.

The show starred Butch Patrick (also from The Munsters fame) and Charles Nelson Reilly, but Billie Hayes stole the show each and every week. Her bumbling Weenie kept screwing up, but she had such heart you kept rooting for her.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shangri La

I took the detour, but never reached the destination...

Inside Man

When I saw Denzel Washington sportin' an odd-looking and unflattering pencil-thin mustache in his role as Detective Keith Frazier, I knew I would like this movie. Denzel does his best work when he doesn't look like a leading man. Muss up the man a bit by giving him a cheap-ass hair-cut and some thrift-store clothes, then stand back and watch the magic. And he delivers magic in Inside Man, which co-stars Clive Owen and is directed by Spike Lee.

Keith Frazier is a less-than-angelic detective who happens to get called in to negotiate the release of hostages being held by Owens' character, Dalton Russell. Russell is a smart bank robber who seems to have devised the perfect crime. Frazier becomes the negotiator by default, because the real negotiator is on vacation. The result is explosive action that is clever and believable. Spike Lee tells a great story in what is one of his more mainstream flicks; this movie isn't typical mainstream, though, in what it delivers. It is smart, inventive, well acted and most importantly, it never sells out. The characters remain true to themselves and the plot throughout.

Inside Man is a terrific movie, one that keeps you interested, makes you think and lets you enjoy some popcorn all at the same time. ***1/2

X-Men: The Last Stand

Despite my offer to see The Devil Wears Prada or Speed 3 with Keanue Reeves and Sandra Bullock (yeah, I know it's really called The Lake House. But, faced with an opportunity to rag on Keanue Reeves, what would you do? What... would... you... do...?), Ms. Film Geek insisted on seeing X-Men: The Last Stand.

I've read X-Men comics since I was a kid, and really enjoyed the first two movies in this series. So, I looked forward to The Last Stand, particularly because it introduces one of my favorite characters, Hank "The Beast" McCoy. As it turns out, The Beast was about the only thing I did like about the movie. While the action scenes were great, the plot lacked depth and the acting seemed phoned in. Even though I was initially excited to see this movie, mid-way in I became bored.

I also found myself obsessed with this realization:

Hank "The Beast" McCoy and I share the same hair-style.

It's sad, but true...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Superman Returns

And does he ever!

I drove nine hours to see Superman Returns. More honestly, I drove nine hours to a south-east beach town for a week, to relax and vacation. But, the beach has a huge multi-plex cinema just a few blocks from where I'm staying. So, I knew well in advance that this week will be catch-up time for movies with stadium-seating, hot, buttered popcorn and over-sized and over-priced sodas.

Oh! And Goobers! My favorite movie snack. But, I digress.

Superman Returns has almost everything I hoped it would have: A promising young star who seems to have connected with the Superman and Kent characters well, and who will be able to carry the franchise in future sequels; special effects so incredible that they make it seem almost normal to watch a guy fly unaided into space, lift airplanes and have bullets bounce off his chest; and a Metropolis that is darker, more brooding than in previous Superman titles. Singer does a wonderful job making Supes more early scene where Clark has a beer with Jimmy Olsen is priceless. Seeing the Big Boy Scout hoist a Bud to his lips as he ponders his future was one of my favorite shots.

Despite producers saying there is no parallel to a Christ-figure in the movie, it seemed to me there clearly is. There is much talk in the flick about Supes being sent to save mankind by example and serve as our leader, and lots of Christian imagery. Supes hears the individual cries of thousands as he hovers in space above the earth, and a scene where he is beaten by his enemies seemed eerily similar to one or two scenes in The Passion Of The Christ. And finally, when Supes saves the planet while taking what might be his final breath, his arms extend into a crucifixion-style pose. I loved the imagery, and thought it added greatly to the mythology.

The acting is above par, save for Kate Bosworth. She seemed way too young to be as accomplished a person and journalist as Lois is supposed to be. Overall, though, Superman Returns in a big, big way! See it in the theater. ***1/2