Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Crossing The Thin, Blue Line

Visiting the Pumpkin House on Monday cost me $10.

There was no admission, or any charge to take a gander at the punkins. Nope, The Griffiths keep it free. The $10 was was in the form of a parking ticket.

I parked the Film Geek Family Mini-Van a block or so away from the house, and our clan hiked across the rail-road tracks that separate Ceredo from Kenova to enjoy the spectacle. After an hour or so (we love us some pumpkins!) we trekked back to the van, only to find a Ceredo policeman putting a ticket on my window.

"Can I help you?" I asked.

"Oh, you're back. I'll just hand this to you." he said. And he said it with a smile, and with a whole bunch of smarm. He walked around the van, and handed me a ticket. Apparently I--and the whole line of cars that were parked in front of me and behind me--had parked our vehicles with our tires a couple of feet off the small side-road, on a woman's property.

And she was pissed.

I apologized to the woman for parking on her yard. Even if it was only a couple of feet, it wasn't my intention to have my tires on private property. I--and apparently all those who parked around me--thought we were parking on a public portion of the small access road.

Then, the following occurred:

Me: "I understand why you're giving me a ticket, but you don't have to be so enthusiastic about it."

Cop: "Enthusiastic? I'm not being enthusiastic."

Me: "Yes. Yes you were. You seem way too happy to be giving me a ticket. Man, that's just not necessary."

My wife, the daughter of a police officer, realized things were going horribly wrong. She knows me too well, and understands what makes the average cop tick. So, Mrs. Film Geek recognized fully the train wreck that was about to happen. She knew I'm not capable of stopping my little tirade, and she knew the cop was gonna eventually get to the point where he had to put his foot down. Hard, and on me.

Mrs.Film Geek: "Honey, take the ticket and let's go."

Me: "But, I'm not finished talking to the officer."

Mrs. Film Geek: "Yes you are. It's time to go."

So I did.

But, I'm going back tomorrow night, and guess where I'm parking!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ye Olde Pumpkin House

Anyone within driving distance of The Pumpkin House in Kenova should make it out to see this year's display. (This picture is from last year, and was taken by Dave Fatella.)

The Griffith's have erected a 20 foot tall, 30 foot wide wall o' pumpkins carved as orchestra instruments, and each pumpkin is computer programmed to light up when it's respective instrument is played during the 1812 Overture.

It's amazing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Benchwarmers

"Don't rent it on pay-per-view, you'll be disappointed," I was warned by my wife as I clicked on the cable option. "It'll be stupid, and you'll lose interest half-way through."

But I was bored.

Really bored. The kids were in bed, I had nothing to read and Mrs. Film Geek was catching up on work she's missed this week while we hung out at the hospital. Even the WV Blogger Message Board was pretty dark.

The Benchwarmers seemed like a decent option.

Rob Schneider, Jon Heder and David Spade play losers who get tired of seeing kids bullied, so along with Jon Lovitz they stage a Round Robin Baseball Tournament to promote cooperation, and the acceptance of geeks and nerds everywhere. I like Schneider (does anyone remember his "Makin' Copies Guy" from SNL?), I'm a huge fan of Lovitz and the Napoleon Dynamite guy made me laugh.

So, I clicked "Buy" on the remote control.

I am obligated by marital contract to announce publicly: "She was right. I was wrong."

I loved Revenge Of The Nerds. And, The Bad News Bears. The Benchwarmers tries to be both of those, and fails. Skip it, and go hit some balls with your kid instead.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

An American Haunting

I recall reading a lot about The Bell Witch during my childhood. I'd squirrel away in the attic or some other secret hide-away with a couple of new comics and a reference book about ghosts or the supernatural. And I loved the Bell Witch legend. It's a terrific ghost story complete with curses, poltergeist activity and even death caused by the ghost.

That's right, the Bell Witch is the only ghost in America that has a premeditated murder rap attributed to her.

An American Haunting, though, is an average film about an above-average legend. Starring Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek and Rachel Hurd-Wood, Haunting tells the story of how the Bell family--who lived in Tennessee circa 1820--was terrorized by a poltergeist. The poltergeist targets Betsey, primarily, while it systematically disturbs and confuses the family. It appears mostly at night, while Betsey sleeps alone in her bed, and physically assaults and tortures her.

And her parents seem powerless to help.

The terror seems to end, however, when the Bell Witch causes the death of one of the film's stars. It's then the audience realizes that the Bell family haunting is really caused by some deeply rooted, psychological trauma.

An American Haunting is not a great telling of what is, truly, a great ghost story. Skip the movie, and read about the Bell Witch instead.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Murphy's Law

Traveling via Interstate from Charleston to Huntington this afternoon was difficult, due to heavy rain. But still, I had my windows rolled up, my heat turned to "medium" and some old school classic rock turned up loud.

I was, at least, comfortable.

This guy wasn't faring as well.

I'm curious if he planned his trip without looking at the weather forecast this morning...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Monkey Says 'No'

Jackie Lantern, the pumkin' wearing scribe from Saved By The Torso, wrote recently that he tries hard to "avoid turning this blog into some touchy-feely emotion-fest." And, I understand that.

I, too, try to keep the cutsey on the down-lo.

It's just not that interesting to me to write about all-things-emotional when I can focus my time on such topics as movies, music or Oprah. Hell, even TomKat getting married in November is on my To-Write-About-Soon list, three priority levels above What I Love About Thanksgiving.

Besides, I have a reputation to maintain among my brotherhood in
The Union. I am, after all, an Official Member.

But even Jackie admits that sometimes the emotional stuff can't be avoided. And I agree.

My three-year-old son, Jaden, was recently hospitalized for what doctors are calling "walking pneumonia." His breathing had become a bit labored, and he ran a high fever for a couple of days. So, we insisted he be admitted to the local hospital. (After a couple days of intensive treatment, Jaden is home and recovering nicely.)

But, it was his exchange with a new doctor on that first day at the hospital that I can't stop laughing about.

The doctor wanted Jaden to buy into some respitory treatment that involved face-masks and straps, and Jaden wasn't having any of it. In fact, he was refusing to talk to the doctor. And this is unusual, because he talks.

A lot.

But, not that day. And, while he was not talking, he was clutching the brand new stuffed monkey that his aunt brought to keep him company. The doctor saw the monkey, recognized the opportunity and switched techniques:

Dr.: "Jaden, the mask won't hurt you, it will make you feel better. Will you give it a try?"

Jaden: [Silence. And an evil glare at the otherwise nice doctor.]

Dr.: "Jaden, you won't have to wear it all day. Just an hour or so. OK?"

Jaden: [Nada, except more of the same. Doubled.]

Dr.: "Jaden, I bet the monkey would want you to try it. Let's ask the monkey if it's OK for you to wear the mask just for a little while, then take it off. What do you think about that, monkey?"

Jaden: [15 seconds of dramatic pause, then a deadpanned...] "...The monkey says 'No."

It sounded like dialogue right out of the 40s, or like that from the movie Brick. And, I could not stop laughing for hours.

Man, for some reason I love that kid more now than before he went in.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thank You For Smoking

Nick Naylor, the lead character of Thank You For Smoking is the reason I walked away from an obsessive interest in politics and social commentary a couple of years ago. Well, not Nick Naylor literally, of course; the embodiment of Naylor, though. Spin doctors who look you in the eye, tell you their version of the truth then cash a huge paycheck earned for the perspective they've created.

Real-life folks like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, James Carville and Paul Begala. Professional mercenaries who pretend they aren't.

Spin masters are toxic. Regardless of ideology, they're toxic. Every damn one.

Aaron Eckhart's Naylor is a lobbyist for Big Tobacco. He's become quite jaded, and pretty transparent in his efforts to win each point of debate. Confront him on a TV talk show with a teen dying from cancer associated with second-hand smoke, and Naylor will remind the audience that tobacco companies gain nothing by the child's death. In fact, it's a loss of a future consumer.

Spin, baby. Spin.

Naylor can't spin his life, though. His marriage has failed, and his son is growing up too fast. Naylor spends a lot of time teaching the kid spin ninja skills, hoping that one day, Li'l Joey Naylor will earn big bucks for his lobbying efforts, too. Naylor's choice in chicks is pretty suspect: He falls for teen-looking tomboy Katie Holmes who, ultimately, spins the most significant spin of all.

I liked this movie a lot. The acting was above par, the story line was interesting and the pacing was perfect. My favorite part, though, was the ultimate answer Naylor and other spinsters revealed as the reason they were willing to lie for profit:

"The mortgage."

If only Hannity would be so genuine...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Bold (Maybe) New Frontier

Director John Landis, who always seems interested in pushing the art of directing in new and interesting ways, has a neat gig going at JibJab. The Great Sketch Experiment is a contest featuring six sketches--all directed by Landis and starring professional actors--that the public can watch, then cast a vote for which is best.

Shawshank In A Minute is a hip-hop version of the classic flick The Shawshank Redemption, and is one of the most interesting things I've seen in a while. The actor who narrates the video sounds very much like Morgan Freeman, and the video quality is terrific. Check it out here
. I think it's worth the look.

The Break-Up

The Break-Up, written by Jeremy Garelick and starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, isn't a typical relationship movie. It doesn't have a quick, exciting pace nor an I-didn't-see-that-coming ending. The central characters aren't perfect; in fact, sometimes they are selfish and controlling. And mean. Most times to each other, but sometimes to family and friends. So, The Break-Up ain't That Girl, or Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best. Nope, it's better than those vanilla-flavored lies force-fed the American public for one simple reason:

It's real.

Vaughn and Aniston meet and fall fast in love, and move in with each other. After several years, it's apparent they've grown apart. She's matured personally, and become quite successful professionally. Vaughn, however, is pretty much the ESPN highlight-watchin'-- beer right after work grabbin'-- I'll get to that right after the game promisin'-- guy she met years ago. Aniston thinks a break-up will snap some sense into him, so she tries that as a tactic to save the relationship.

It doesn't work. At least regarding the relationship. But, while the events that unfold over the movie may not save the relationship, they help shape the characters into better people.

To me, that's the success of The Break-Up. It points out that many times the poor decisions we make in relationships are simply the result of not knowing how to get out of a personal or professional rut. Bad relationships can sometimes evolve because we take our significant other for granted. And once in a while relationships go sour because we haven't grown emotionally with our partner.

And like the central characters in this movie, when we finally get around to figuring out those problems, it's often too late to fix them.

So, The Break-Up isn't a great movie with a typical look and feel. But I liked it because it forced me to think, and reflect upon some important aspects of my own life. And, it made me hug Mrs. Film Geek a little tighter after the credits finished rolling.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Give Me My Prize

I don't pay much attention to promotional events. Hell, I've never won as much as a free scratch-off at the 7-11; that Gold Rush game going on at AOL is way outta my league.

But, the game today did catch my attention. It is a ten-question quiz where the quiz-taker must guess upon which novel a particular film was based. It's pretty interesting, and doesn't take long if
you wanna try it. (There's even a The Big Lebowski/Blade Runner tie-in.)

If you do, post your score. Mine was 10 for 10.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

NOOOOOOOoooooooooo !!!!

AOL Entertainment News reports that Steve Irwin's daughter, Bindi, will star in a new wildlife series on the Discovery Kids channel called "Bindi: The Jungle Girl."

Says the 8-year-old daughter of the deceased Crocodile Hunter, during an interview on ABC:

"Some people think that I would be afraid of them, but I'm never ever afraid of an animal ."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Whatever Happened To...The Cast Of Fridays

I was 15, and just starting to feel grown-up enough to stay up late-night on weekends. We couldn't get cable in my hometown neighborhood (still can't, actually), so we had an outside antenna hooked up to a cool rotor dial.

Turn the dial a little to the left, a fuzzy PBS could be seen on channel 6. A two-thirds turn to the right? ABC, baby.

In full techno-color.

Most Friday nights in 1980 I spent watching
The Goodies on PBS, then Fridays on ABC.

Fridays lasted only two seasons, but I loved it. I thought the comedy sketch show was cooler than Saturday Night Live, in that it seemed edgier and a bit more willing to take risks. One of my favorite episodes was the night Andy Kaufman hosted. Kaufman, who was just brilliantly nuts, seemingly broke character during a sketch and got into a live brawl with Michael Richards. (Although it happened over 25 years ago, you can see it still thanks to the magic of youtube.)

Later it was announced that the bit was staged between Kaufman and Richards, but the supporting cast didn't know it was fake. They thought it was real, and they acted like it.

Kaufman was brilliant.

The cast of Fridays was also. It included an entire gaggle of folks who went on to even greater fame. Michael Richards, who did a great Battle Boy--the kid who tortured his Army men with a new evil torture each week--hit the jackpot as Kramer in Seinfeld. Larry David, the writer who developed Seinfeld, was a writer and cast member. Cast member Bruce Mahler, also a sometime-player on Seinfeld years later, honed his comedic
skills on Fridays before co-starring in the Police Academy movie series.

And then, there was Melanie Chartoff.

What a crush I had on Chartoff! She did the fake news, and I credit her with my long-held obsession with local female news anchors.


While Chartoff never became a household name, she has worked steadily in small film roles and as a guest star on TV. Including, oddly enough, Seinfeld.

Go figure.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Friends With Money

It's very rare that I read a professional review of a movie I've watched before writing about it here. I don't really consider anything I write as an actual review; I don't know enough about the industry or the process of film production to write an intelligent review.

Nah, I'm simply writing about what I like, and how a particular movie moved me, or didn't. I stay away from reading reviewers like Ebert and that guy who replaced Siskel for a couple of reasons: (1) I don't want to sound like a professional wanna-be, and (2) I don't want to steal their comments. And I would. I have no shame.

Well, very little shame.

So, I have a confession: I clicked on--and read-- Ebert's review of Friends With Money before writing this post. I had to...I really liked the movie, and couldn't figure out why. I hoped Roger could help me think it through.

There is a lot to like. The dialogue is catchy, the acting (especially Aniston, Joan Cusack and Frances MacDormand) is above par, and the supporting cast give A-level performances. But, it has no real action, very little music to set the mood, no significant plot twists or mysteries that needed to be solved.

No nudity, even.

I mean, it's really just a bunch of friends--most wealthy, all searching for something to fulfill them--who talk a lot, argue a lot and support each other through difficult times. Those with money are trying to fill their emotional holes with material things, while the friend without money (Jennifer Aniston) realizes her needs have to be met through relationships. She's searching for love, and realizes cash can't make her happy.

The friends with money all have built walls around their lives that cut them off from living fully; the friend without money is constantly trying to tear through her own walls in her search for personal peace and acceptance.

So why did I like it? It reminded me of
Crash. In Crash, Don Cheadle's character comments on how isolated and distant our society has become, and he says: "I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." The characters in Friends With Money are similar: they pick at each other, fight, debate, brag about their accomplishments and seek out shallow relationships in vain attempts to feel something they lost a long time ago.

And, it's this observation that is my dilemma.

Ebert's review, he writes: "Friends With Money" resembles "Crash," except that all the characters are white, and the reason they keep running into each other is because the women have been friends since the dawn of time. "

Well...I'm gonna use my comparison anyway. Ebert can cry in his popcorn.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Inside Deep Throat

I knew it was coming.

I checked out my updated Netflix que a couple days earlier, so I knew it had been mailed. Netlix films typically arrive at my house two days after they've been mailed, so I knew the red envelope was in the mailbox, even before I looked inside.

Yep. Inside Deep Throat.

As soon as I pulled out the envelope I had a flashback. I wouldn't call it a Post-Traumatic Stress flashback really, but the memory is one that causes me a high level of anxiety. Walking back up the driveway toward the garage opening, I remembered the vivid details:

During Junior High football season, between classes ending at 3:00pm or so and the time we were scheduled to leave for an away game, some of us would walk to Summersville's Main Street to get a bite or shoot some pool at the arcade.

Some of us.

Others would, on occasion, head to Rite Aid and check out the porn magazines that, at the time, were openly available at the magazine rack. One day--being 13 and all--I decided that group of guys would be fun to hang out with. So I did.

Rite Aid had Oui magazine. At the time I didn't know the title was French, and I pronounced it like it was an acronym: O.U.I. Anyway, I liked Oui. It wasn't too perverse, but not as whitebread as Playboy. It was just right for a early teen just starting to like girls. And porn.

So I headed toward that section of the rack.

I stayed a little longer after my buddies left, and felt really bold leafing openly through the magazine. Scott Moore always put his porn magazine between the covers of another, more acceptable book. Not me, man...If I'm lookin' at it, I ain't gonna hide it. Say something to me if you like, but it's my right and I'm gonna fight for it.

Yeah, that's the ticket...

Suddenly, I hear the cashier speaking. And she's right beside me. Seems I became so engrossed in Miss October that I let the enemy sneak up on me:

Her: "What are you looking at?"

Me: "...A magazine."

Her: "It's a dirty magazine! Are you 18?"

Me: "...yes..."

Her: "No you're not, you're a kid! You can't look at that."

Me: [Staring blankly at her]: "..."

Suddenly, I dropped the Oui on the floor, and ran past her. Fast. As fast as I could. I ran all the way up the hill, to the school. Didn't stop. Couldn't stop, until I got to the gym.

I didn't go back to that Rite Aid for years.

The memory faded by the time I made it in through the garage. Truth is, I was excited to see Inside Deep Throat. It was produced by Imagine co-founder
Brian Grazer--anyone who hangs out with Opie can't be a bad guy--and tells the story of the single most profitable film ever made. That's right: Deep Throat was made for $25,000, and grossed over $600 million.

That's because the film became an instrument of cultural change. It was the event that caused American society to re-examine our obscenity laws, and re-think our views on sexuality. Inside Deep Throat does a great job of detailing the social and economic ramification of the original film, as well as explaining how organized crime used the film to make millions of dollars themselves. Inside Deep Throat does this without showing graphic sexuality (there is only one sex scene from the movie used in the documentary) by interviews with the major Deep Throat players who are still alive.

It's smart, well done and relevant to many issues of today, such as censorship.

I really liked it. Check it out, if only to be reminded of the Puritan-like views America had regarding sexuality prior to the early 1970s.

Yeah, that's Inside Deep Throat in my hand. Whatcha lookin' at !?!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cause I Ain't That Easy To Live With

15 years.

I'm sure it's supposed to be diamonds or wood or something equally cool in anniversary tokens. But, I have no idea what to get Mrs. Film Geek for our fifteenth wedding anniversary.

15 years.

The woman has put up with a lot. Once, she baked me a beautiful birthday cake from scratch. But, I was too depressed about getting old, and refused to get out of bed. All day. Not once, except to go to the bathroom. Until my friend John called to ask me out for a birthday drink at 10:00pm.

Somehow I found the energy to hit the bar.

I seem to struggle with social situations, which has probably cost us at least a couple of friends. Someone close to me once described me as: "Charming...But in a serial killer sorta way."

Yep. Mrs. Film Geek is a lucky bride.

So, number fifteen is coming up on the 19th, and I'm clueless about what to do. I freeze on all holidays and special events.
I'm just not that romantic.

Any suggestions? (Besides office supplies, I mean.)

It Has Seasonal Changes In Plumage

One of the coolest benefits of the WV Bloggers Message Board is finding new state bloggers to read. Scarlet Tanager is one I've just discovered from the board, and I'm really enjoying her posts.

(I even looked up
the bird on google!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

He Gets My Vote

John Mason gets my vote for Unluckiest Man Alive.

Sure, there are people worse off. But I'm talking luck. The little space between choices one makes, which affects future options and possibilities.

Mason, shown in this NBC photo with former fiance Jennifer Wilcox, was recently sued by the Runaway Bride for half a million bucks.

According to Atlanta television station WAGA, which reported on the lawsuit Monday night: "Wilbanks seeks $250,000 as her share of a home Mason purchased through the partnership with proceeds from $500,000 received for selling their story to an agent, plus $250,000 in punitive damages for allegedly abusing the power of attorney she granted for him to handle their financial affairs."

I hope he counter-sues for the egg on his face from that whole fake abduction fiasco. I mean, the guy was a rock when she pretended to go missing, then stood by her for months while she went through therapy and tried to get her life straightened out. He's a saint in my book...I would've bugged out after my second glance at those freaky eyes!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Excuse Me, But You Were Saying Something About Change?

When I first started reading blogs--especially those written by fellow West Virginians (which are my favorites)-- the one that caught my attention early was The Spinster Girl's Guide To Love. I thought Spinster Girl was humorous, insightful and irreverent --all qualities I find interesting. Sometime in late July, Spinster Girl wrote about needing to make a change in her life. She hasn't written on that specific blog site since. I still check her site often to see if it's updated. As of today, it hasn't been.

I hope she found the change she was craving.

Change doesn't happen easily for me. It's uncomfortable, and causes me stress. I like the same clothes, the same haircut and the same routines. More than the average guy, I suppose. It's a good way to keep one's life less complicated. At least that is always my defense.

But some change can't be avoided. This week, for example, I changed jobs. I've moved from a terrific job with a wonderful group of co-workers to one that has been a dream job of mine for years. It's bittersweet. I miss not seeing my co-workers everyday, but I haven't felt this creative and energized in months.

This change is gonna be good. But, it's also scary.

Yesterday I finally made it to the place at my new gig where they make ID cards for employees. I filled out the form, sat down and practiced smiling while they arranged everything for the picture. Then:

Her: "Are you sure you want to do this today?"

Me: "Yeah. I need to, so I can get my parking pass."

Her: "Ok...[With a "Well, it's up to you..." inflection and verbal fade-out.]


A couple minutes passed, and she handed me my bright, shiny new employee ID. I picked it up, took a look and realized my hair made me look, well...Just awful.

Kinda like this guy. In fact, a lot like that.

Except worse. At least this guy's pretty hip, and has a cult following. Me? Not so much of either.

I was embarrassed.

Added to the stress of the job transition, leaving co-workers for whom I care a great deal and learning the bureaucracy of a new job, this embarrassment sent me over the edge.

I took the ID card, mumbled a "Thanks..." to the woman who noticed my hair sucked and walked outside.

Sitting on a bench for awhile, I kept thinking of that damned post Spinster Girl wrote, titled: "
A Little Change..."

It started with: "Change is inevitable and it's scary' and concluded with: "So, yeah, I'm looking for a change. A bigger one, anyway, and, maybe, in truth, I'm just too lazy to make one."

That sure sounded familiar. Too lazy to make a change, huh? A challenge.

So, I did.

By the way, if anyone talks to Spinster Girl, tell her I said thanks, and to come back soon.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Departed

It was a really tiring week. Much more than usual. So when my friend Bob invited me to go with him to see The Departed, I was thrilled. For me, there is no better way to relax than in soft, reclining stadium seats while snacking on hot buttered popcorn, chasing it with the biggest soda one can buy on the black market and sitting along-side a good friend.

With the customary space-in-between, of course.

That The Departed is a Martin Scorsese flick was the cherry. I've never seen a bad Scorsese movie; I even liked that period-piece film he did in the early 90s with Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer.

For me, that's evidence I dig the guy and his work.

I'm not that hip to Jack Nicholson, whose Frank Costello is one of the leads in The Departed. I just don't get his schtick. I've liked him in some movies--The Shining comes to mind, and Five Easy Pieces--but frankly, every other film I've seen him in, he's just playing some degree of the same character (which, I suspect, I pretty much his own personality). Somewhere along the way, Jack's figured out that mussed-up hair, long rants laced with profanity, a sideways smirk and Runaway-Bride-Eyes gets him a big payday on the studio backlot.

But the rest of the cast! Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Mark Wahlberg. Martin Sheen. And Alec Baldwin in his best role since his too-brief stint in Glengarry Glen Ross. Plus, everyone gave this movie a great review. Two thumbs up from Ebert and the guy who replaced Siskel, an "A" rating from some of the Internet review sites. Hell, the trailer was more entertaining than some of the movies I've seen of late.

Pass me the popcorn, Bobby, I'm ready to be entertained.

The Departed has a terrific premise. Two young Massachusetts State Police Academy graduates (DiCaprio and Damon) begin their respective careers on opposite sides of the track. Damon's character Colin Sullivan is a former delinquent turned squeaky-clean cop who has serious ambition and childhood ties with organized crime. DiCaprio is a sensitive rich kid who doesn't want to be, and his character, Billy Costigan, goes deep undercover in order to infiltrate the Boston mob. Both characters are opposites in lifestyle, perspective and what they are willing to do to achieve their personal ambitions. Although they don't meet until near the end of the movie, they are tied together throughout by peripheral characters and circumstances.

But the movie fails. The story is told in a quick-scene pace that doesn't allow you to connect with the characters. I knew them, and understood their motivations, but I never really connected with them because of the way the film was edited. The dialogue originally sounded smart, then quickly became cliche. The main plot theme--that moles have been implanted in both the police department and the organized crime syndicate, and people try to figure out who is who--had holes in it that couldn't be ignored. And, Jack was Jack. Bug-eyed, hair-mussed, smirking-all-the-time, profanity-spewing Jack. People will probably be talking him up for an Oscar for this role...And when they do, I'll be shaking my head in disbelief.

I just don't get it.

Near the end, I began second-guessing myself, thinking maybe I was criticizing too harshly. After all, I was tired and grouchy from a tiring work week, and Bobby ate most of my popcorn. Maybe it was just me. Then, near the final scene the most dramatic event of the movie occurred--an unexpected, violent scene during the final five minutes that changed the whole movie--and the audience laughed. Hard. In unison.

And they weren't supposed to.

UPDATE: Never wanting to influence folks based on my opinion alone, here is a USA Today review that says The Departed is Scorsese's best since Goodfellas.
It even credits the editing as keeping the viewer "off kilter," as a good thing. Decide for yourself.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Close, But No Cigar

The Hollywood hype was neat: McConaughey looked freaky-yet-cool, McG seemed to maintain his genuine admiration for our town and it's story, and ESPN commentator Lou Holtz was respectful on-air of the football program.

What a night!!

Oh, yeah, except MU lost.


Central Florida showed an urgency that Marshall didn't at the end, and a passing attack The Herd couldn't stop during the final seconds..

Too bad. I was kinda hoping for a Hollywood-style ending.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Little Town

The Huntington Herald Dispatch is reporting today on the national attention Marshall University and Huntington will be getting during tomorrow evenings football game with the University of Central Florida. According to the university press release, We Are...Marshall star Matthew McConaughey and the film's Director, McG, will be in attendance, as well as representatives from: Entertainment Tonight; Access Hollywood; Extra; Yahoo!; MTV; iVillage.com; CSTV; YouTube; iTunes and Rivals.com.

ESPN 2 will show the game.

Oh, yeah...A 4 minute segment of the film--not the trailer you've seen before--will be shown on the stadium's scoreboard at half-time.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Exerting My Influence

Or, maybe it's just a coincidence.

Still, Oprah has slipped from number 4 to number 8 on Fortune's 2006 list of the 50 Most Powerful Women In Business.

Yeah, yeah...I know it's a coincidence, and her slip has nothing to do with my "Please, Make It Stop" rants.

But a guy can dream, can't he?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Sentinel

A sentinel, according to some cheap online dictionary I googled, is: A look-out. A person employed to watch for something to happen. Given that, there are plenty of characters who qualify as sentinels in the Michael Douglas and Keifer Sutherland drama, The Sentinel. While some agents are watching over the Prez, others are watching out for themselves.

Apparently, some Secret Service agents are not as altruistic as we think.

The film never spends a significant amount of time developing it's characters, instead moving pretty quickly into the investigation of a plot to assassinate the President. Early in the investigation it is uncovered that a mole is working from within the Secret Service, although we are unsure who the mole is, or what the motivation of the mole might be.

Douglas plays Pete Garrison, a long-time Secret Service agent who once took a bullet for Reagan. Although the feds took a liking to Garrison for that, Pete has a habit of bending the rules, especially when a skirt is involved. As a result, Garrison has never advanced up the ranks. Could he be the mole, using greed, resentment and sex as a motivator?

Eva Longoria is a rookie agent, assigned to partner up with Sutherland's character as an investigator. She isn't given lots to do, and has no significant contribution to the flick. Except (and I don't want this to sound sexist), she sure is pretty. Maybe that's enough this early in her film career.

Sutherland plays David Breckinridge, an investigator within the Secret Service assigned to ferret out the mole. He used to be best friends with Garrison, although the two hate each other now because Breckinridge blames Garrison for the break-up of his marriage. Could he be the mole, and trying to frame Garrison as the mole out of revenge?

Kim Basinger is First Lady Sarah Ballentine. The hottest First Lady since Jackie O, Ballentine plays up her sexuality with Garrison, and seems distant and detached from her husband, the Prez. Could she be behind the plot, in order to topple her husband's career? I mean, it wouldn't be the first time...She did it to Alec Baldwin.

The Sentinel isn't a bad movie, but I thought it relied too much on characters that were superficial and not well developed. It was predictable, under-used characters and the writing was pretty typical. The flick did have me guessing through much of the first half; but in the end, after some plot devices became pretty obvious, I thought the ending was anti-climactic.