Sunday, December 31, 2006

Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

You know a film that has become a huge hit because of it's irreverent and edgy humor has jumped the shark when portions of it are used in a Sunday morning church sermon.

And that very thing happened, last week, at the church I attend. The minister--to a chorus of giggles and guffaws--successfully used a scene from Ricky Bobby to illustrate a point he was making about how some Christians pick and choose how to view Jesus.

In one of the funniest scenes in the movie, Ricky Bobby says a prayer over a semi-formal meal, and addresses it to "Dear sweet baby Jesus." When his shrew-like yet beautiful-on-the-outside wife chastises him for praying to a baby rather than the grown-up Jesus, Ricky Bobby explains the innocent baby image is his favorite way to view Christ, and he will pray to whatever version of The Messiah he wants.

It's a very funny scene. Maybe the funniest in the movie. The problem for me is, it happens too early in the film. The rest of Talladega Nights, for me at least, was a disappointment.

Will Ferrell is consistently funny, and he is terrific in this role. John C. Reilly is great in the supporting role of best friend Cal Naughton, Jr. (Isn't that a great NASCAR name?) And Gary Cole's character, Reese Cole, gets too little screen time. His character was complex and darkly funny.

But, the film fell flat for me after the first hour. I thought it dragged on too long, had too many sub-plots and relied too heavily on redneck-poking for jokes.
My expectations for this movie may have been influenced by the "Oh, my gawd...have you seen Ricky Bobby yet!?!" buzz about the flick.

I expected it would knock my socks off. But, as much as I like Ferrell's comedies, I thought Talladega Nights was only average.

Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story

Dreamer, starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, is based upon the true story of Mariah's Storm. About a decade ago race horse Mariah's Storm broker her leg, and it was presumed her racing career was done. The leg healed--against incredible odds--and she resumed racing. She even won some big-time races.

You can never count out the heart of a champion, even if the champion is a horse.

Dreamer tells the story of Cale Cole, the daughter of Russell's character, Ben Crane. Ben is a down-and-out former horse farm owner who now trains horses for other people. He's lost almost everything, selling off bits of his land in order to make ends meet. In the process, he's lost a large part of himself. His pride, his focus.

Even his interest in his family.

Even though Cale is young, she recognizes that her father needs something in which to believe. Something that will turn his life back around, and help him regain his confidence. She finds that something in Sonadora, a race horse with a fractured leg. The Cole's take Sonadora in, help her heal and discover she is well enough to race again. The horse overcomes significant odds because she is a champion.

Like Ben Cole.

Dreamer is a wonderful flick. It's tagged a "family movie," and it is a fine movie to see with the kids. But, it stands alone simply as a terrific movie, regardless of genre. Fanning is great, and Russell--as usual--turns in a complete performance.

I think you'll like it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Wicker Man

The 2006 version of The Wicker Man arrived in my Netflix box earlier this week.

Let's see...Nic Cage fights chicks who: drink mead, are organized to function like a bee colony, sacrifice people to Nature in hopes of improving the harvest and dress up like woodland creatures for their very special version of Festivas.

I shoulda qued up the 1973 British version, instead.

Friday, December 29, 2006

John Tucker Must Die


He must. And it should've happened before the making of this movie.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

I'm a tad worried to mention much about the plot of Little Miss Sunshine, because it sounds horribly cliche, and not terribly interesting.

Let me try...

A dysfunctional family--each hanging desperately on to some small hope for normalcy--travels across the country in a Mystery Machine look-a-like van so that their daughter can participate in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.

Yuck. That sounds God-awful.

But it isn't. In fact, Little Miss Sunshine is a very good film that ultimately sends the message that authenticity and originality are important in life.

Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette are parents to Olive, played wonderfully by Abby Breslin. Kinnear works as a D-list motivational speaker, whose "9-Steps to Being a Winner" can't get published because he isn't. Collette's character, Sheryl, is long-suffering and unsure. She knows the family is spiraling into despair, and isn't sure how to stop it.

Olive's older brother, Dwayne, reads, obsessively, books on modern philosophy and is nine-months into a vow of silence. Her grandfather, played wonderfully by Alan Arkin, is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Oh, and he snorts heroin. Daily.

Steve Carell, in a serious, dramatic turn, is Olive's uncle, Frank. Frank recently tried to commit suicide, and is staying with the family while he recovers.

Well, that's at least a little more interesting...

The road trip is really about the group overcoming the obstacles they have placed in their own paths of life, particularly pretenses the family has set up to look like something they aren't. The experience of the Little Miss Sunshine pageant helps them reconsider their place in life, and the importance of authenticity.

Little Miss Sunshine is a bit dark, funny and well written. The dialogue is terrific, and helps make up for some plot events that are a little far-fetched.

Check it out. It's a B- flick.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Seasonal-Affective Pondering

The bah-hum-bugs are lifting:

Sometimes, simple is just fine.

Even in this era of iPods, laptop computers, cell-phones and other digital miracles, bubbles still rock!

Photo by Sean Saguansin (thanks Cara)
The premiere was wonderful, and the story being told was cathartic for the community. Too bad the rest of the country seems not that interested. Check out A Sour Apple Tree for a terrific post on how the flick is faring, and a perspective on how it could be worse.

Associated Press
Former President Ford died this week, and I can't help but think of Chevy Chase. The SNL-guy looked nothing like Ford, but captured something about the man that stuck. To all you future politicos: a "full, free and absolute pardon" might be a nice gesture, but it's a career killer. Don't do it.

I'm no teetotaler. I'm just tired of the holiday stories about Christmas-night bar fights and kids being killed by drunk drivers.

I think the after-Xmas blues have just returned...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Whatever Happened To...Peter Billingsley

Like "Yo! Adrienne!" and "I'm walkin' here," some lines are so classic they immediately identify the movie in which they were spoken. Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, had this memorable gem:

"Only, I didn't say: "Fudge.'"

Simple. Brilliant.

A Christmas Story--my favorite Christmas-themed film--is a terrific story about hope and desire, and finding satisfaction even when one comes up just a bit short. Ralphie, played wonderfully by Billingsley, is at that uncomfortable age for kids. Tweeners, I guess they are called these days. Too young to understand an adult world, and too old to be completely innocent and naive. Ralphie's dream of getting a Red Ryder BB gun represents the same wish each of us have, really. That job, that significant other, that best friend--whatever--that will make our lives more complete. The secret is, we never reach the goal. Or, if we do, we quickly shoot our eye out.

Wishing for it is always more fun that getting it.

Peter Billingsley, best friends with Vince Vaughn for years, works currently as a film producer. Recently, Billingsley produced
The Break-Up, and is in pre-production now with Iron Man, which will star Robert Downey, Jr.

Oh, yeah...Merry Christmas, from the Film Geek family. Don't shoot your eye out!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yeah But, About That Surf Board...

Arriving on Earth in June, 2007!

20th Century Fox
I didn't care for the first FF flick, but I'm really looking forward to the sequel, which will feature this guy. Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer.

Fanboys can read the detail here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lady In The Water

Some months ago, I commented on what I think is a tendency to judge Lady In The Water writer-director M. Night Shyamalan solely on the fact that he hit one out of the park early in his career. One of his first films, The Sixth Sense was an instant classic, and movie-goers couldn't help but compare his follow-ups to the "I see dead people" flick.

That's a shame. Because I think Shyamalan is the Hitchcock of our era.

Directors should be judged by how well they tell the story, and Shyamalan tells the story of Lady In The Water with a subtle grace and delicate pace. The story is about grace, after all, and finding one's purpose in life. Despite being told in what is essentially a children's fable format, I found the movie interesting and well developed, and taken to the level of near-greatness by the wonderful acting talent of Paul Giamatti.

Giammati's Cleveland Heep is a former doctor turned apartment superintendent. He works slowly and methodically, providing upkeep for the misfits who occupy his building. Heep is rather a misfit himself; after his family was murdered, Heep buried himself in obscurity and simplicity in order to hide.

From his emotions, and from his memories.

Story, the sea creature Giamatti finds in his pool one late night, is sent to inspire a writer (played nicely by Shyamalan, in yet another Hitchcock-like walk-on) who lives in the building. During the course of her mission she becomes endangered and is cared for by Giamatti, and many of the misfits who rent in his apartment building. Focused on a common goal, each finds the strength and resolve to assist Story in her journey back home to The Blue World.

Each figures out, as a result, his or her purpose in life.

Lady In The Water is based on a children's story Shyamalan told his own daughters. And it feels like a children's fable. But I think that's appropriate, given the premise. Children, in all their innocence and freshness, seem at times drawn to a purpose. Simplicity allows them to dream, and to aspire. Adults--heavily burdened by things like the Christmas season rush, boring jobs and overwhelming goals--too often lose our purpose. We adults forget, I think, to live. Shyamalan reminds us to live through Lady In The Water.

With grace, and with dignity. But always with purpose.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Clerks II

I've been a fan of Kevin Smith's work since the first Clerks, back in 1994. His movies aren't brilliant works of cinema. His best movie (Chasing Amy, in my opinion) his worst (that mall-rats-something-or-other) and all in between share several things in common: a community of common characters, each trying to figure out their identity, and their path in life; incredible dialogue which always stands out as the best part of the flick; and the simultaneous celebration of and poking fun at all-things-geeky.

Oh, and profanity! Lot of it, used in wonderfully funny, inventive ways.

The original Clerks spoke to a whole generation of people, many of whom identified with the characters Randal and Dante. We--especially we males--understood the relationship of the two friends, and what the witty banter really meant. Breaking balls is a guy's way to show affection for another guy, after all, and Randal, Dante, Jay and Silent Bob could break balls with style. We also identified with the more subtle parts of Clerks, like how the guys were stuck in a dead end job at the Quick Stop, working for low pay while day after day passes with little hope for a better gig any time soon. We men tend to compare our standing and our position to other men of similar age, even though we say we don't.

We do.

And we know when we're in a loser phase. Knowing it is the easy part; getting unstuck is much harder.

Clerks II is the movie where, ten years after we first meet them, Dante and Randal get unstuck.

It's another brilliant Kevin Smith movie. For an excellent review, check out Jackie's comments from when he saw the movie back in the summer. He's dead-on right about the flick.

Jackie points out the sentimentality of Clerks II, and I agree that it is much more sentimental than the first movie. And most of Smith's work, really. That's because the movie is about transition. All his other movies--hell, even Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back--was about being in the moment. Characters were trying to work through problems and relationships in the here-and-now, like good twenty-somethings should. Kids in their 20s are invincible, aren't they? Typically they have little reason to worry about the future.

At least they think so...

The 30s, though, brings it. And hard. The realization that the lives of others around you are changing. The awareness that you may be more than a bit behind your high school's valedictorian in education and achievement. The understanding that you will not always be able to hang out for hours a day with your best friend, goofin' on geeks and talking about chicks.

Life happens. Often before you realize it.

Clerks II is damn funny. The dialogue is tight and the peripheral characters--you know, Silent Bob, Jay, and all the guys like Jason Lee and Ben Affleck who always do cameos in Smith flicks--were used perfectly. Not overdone, but just enough. But, as Jackie pointed out, it's the sentiment of the film that makes Clerks II a real surprise.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's The Reason For The Season

Santa showed up at the Film Geek's In-Law Christmas Get-Together last night. All the kids took a turn on his lap, and each had a well-detailed list of Christmas wishes.

Mrs. Film Geek also took a turn on The Bearded One's lap, late in the evening. I'm not completely sure, but I don't think Santa was prepared for her list of: "Matthew McConaughey, two cans of whipped cream and a 'Do Not Disturb' sign."

God bless us, every one...

Monday, December 18, 2006

I Am The DJ

Eclectic Guy is asking folks how they would program an hour of his show, EclecTopia. If you could be guest DJ for the time, that is. Send your playlist to him, on his site.

I'm a DJ wanna-be...If this idea ever comes to fruition, I'm so there!

The Pursuit Of Happyness

Will Smith has one of the longest lists-of-hits in modern film, with more than his share of $100 million dollar blockbusters on his resume. He became King of Summer Releases with Independence Day, and cemented that standing with Men In Black.

This guy is so solid that people line up to see his duds.

So, he's made a lot of cash for the studios, and for himself in the last ten years. He's had lots of success. What he hasn't had, though, is a signature role that shows off his ability to carry a film alone, through the portrayal of a complicated and multi-layered character.

His role as Chris Gardner in the
Pursuit Of Happyness gives Smith that opportunity. And he delivers.

Chris Gardner is a real life rags-to-riches story, a man who always had ambition and foresight but little means or opportunity. The movie opens as Gardner, his wife and son are facing an insurmountable financial crisis. His wife consistently works double shifts for low pay, and his sales job is hit or miss. And mostly it's miss. Gardner sunk his life savings into bone density scanning machines, and carries them from doctor's office to doctor's office on sales calls, but rarely sells one.

Gardner schlepping the bulky, over-sized machine from office to office is a terrific metaphor; the man has such a heavy load to carry emotionally, and does so with impressive grace and dignity. Workman-like, and methodical. Gardner simply tries to get by day by day, taking care of his family's most basic needs: optimistic about the future, while having no means to influence it.

When his wife has enough and leaves, Gardner and his son try to make it alone. Gardner soon realizes he's gotta take control of his own destiny and applies for an internship with a brokerage firm. His perseverance and sales skills pay off, and he lands a paid gig with the firm after an unpaid six month internship. The six months was difficult--he and his son lived in motels and shelters, and on occasion slept in public bathrooms--but the suits at Dean Witter never knew. They simply saw an under-educated guy who knew what he wanted, worked harder than everyone else and brought them in a ton of cash during a short period of time.

They loved him!

And, so did I. Smith's Gardner is a complicated character. Dignified, but humble. Strong, but sometimes unsure. Driven, while sometimes grandiose. Most importantly, though, he has an almost compulsive need to keep his family intact. His drive is less for his own success, and more about providing for his family.

Smith's acting is the best part of the movie. Thandie Newton, who plays Gardner's wife Linda over-acts and, because of that, doesn't connect with the audience. Characters peripheral to the story are never developed. And, there are a couple of plot twists that are just not that believable.

The movie is very good, but not great.

Smith is great, though. I hope he gets recognized for it on Oscar day.

Friday, December 15, 2006

World Trade Center

It's difficult still, in 2006, to watch archived news coverage or read personalized accounts of the tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. The events of that day are just too personal; the attacks were designed to strike at the core of American culture, after all, and what might be described as American values. In that context, the attacks were as much on me and you as they were on specific individuals at the various sites.

That we didn't anticipate it coming is even more saddening, because it demonstrates that somehow we bought into the paradigm that we--our routines, and our lifestyles--were above insult and injury. We were safe.

In a single moment, we realized we were not.

Despite my apprehension, I waited a long while to watch Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. I was eager to see a tale of heroism and hope. So, I fixed the popcorn and settled in.

World Trade Center tells the story Port Authority officers John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) as they react to the initial act of terrorism and go to the site to provide assistance, only to ultimately become trapped in the rubble caused by the collapse of the towers. Only 20 people were found alive in that rubble, and Pena and McLaughlin were numbers 18 and 19. It was a desperate and tragic several hours after the initial act of terrorism, with most emergency responders working by instinct only. No one expected or planned for the events of that day, so responding to the crisis in a planned effort was really impossible.

McLoughlin and Pena survived--while their colleagues didn't--by staying focused on their families. They ignored the pain by talking about their kids. They staved off their thirst by recalling their love for their wives. They held out hope they would be saved by New York's Finest, even in the darkest of moments.

Stone's film is a memorial to that hopefulness. WTC is not a typical Stone film; conspiracy theories are abandoned, profanity is nearly absent and the action is subdued. The message of the movie is, clearly, that the human spirit can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds when challenged.

The true story is remarkable. The movie, though, is not.

Most of my problems with this movie are simply minor annoyances in how the story is told. For example, the pacing of the film is very slow even in the beginning, before the men are trapped in the rubble. Cage and Pena walk to the police van that takes them to Ground Zero, talk casually about the damage on the trip there and sort of meander through the ground floor of the Towers when first arriving on the scene. There was no sense of urgency. Sure, they were unsure what to do. There was confusion, and uncertainty about what to do. But their actions came across less "uncertainty" and more "disconnected".

It was odd.

The same casual pacing occurred in the rescue scenes. There was no urgency, no frustration shown at failed efforts, no high-fives and yelling when the men were finally freed. The characters carried out their efforts in a methodical, focused and workman-like manner that was just plain odd.

I'm hesitant to compare the film to
United 93, another movie about the events of that day. But, I suppose, a comparison is inevitable. United 93 showed that urgency and the intensity of people feeling powerless, yet working together in overcoming that fear. United came across as more believable--and was far more entertaining--than World Trade Center because of it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Please, Make It Stop: Part 10

C'mon, Rosie. You gotta be kiddin':

i am sorry it hurt u
i didnt think of it the way it was taken
i will b more sensitive

Not only is this a terrible apology, it's a God-awful haiku.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We Are Marshall

I knew nothing of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of so many Marshall University student-athletes and community members when I entered the college as a freshman in 1983. I was five years old when it occurred, and I simply don't recall hearing the story until I moved to Huntington that summer.

There was something unique and special about the community, though. That much was obvious. I attended football games where the team lost--and lost, and lost again each year--but the fans were faithful. Incredibly close-knit, like family.

I simply didn't understand it.

Football is about winning, isn't it? And Marshall wasn't. Why did the fans keep coming back each week, and how could they be so accepting of something-less-than mediocre?

Years later--it probably took me too long to figure it out, actually--I realized that this is something that victims of grief and trauma do in order to heal. Remember. And participate. Become actively involved, and turn mourning into production. Turn trauma into inspiration.

And do it with family. A sense of community is vital for healing.

It was with that sentiment that I expected McG and the cast of
We Are Marshall to struggle when making this film. How does a director--especially an outsider, who never experienced that level of grief-- translate a highly subjective, emotional experience onto a tangible screen in a way that each movie-goer can experience it?

It was an overwhelming chore, I thought, and not one I truly expected could be successful.

But it was.

McG uses each character as a metaphor for the community and university, and how both struggled immediately after the tragedy. Marshall University's President Dedmon, played wonderfully by David Strathairn, is timid, insecure and uncomfortable with anything but the status quo. Coach Red Dawson-- in whom actor Matthew Fox seems to have found a soul-mate-- struggles with communicating emotions, and ridding himself of the responsibility he feels in causing the deaths of so many people. Kate Mara's Annie Cantrell can't overcome the guilt she has from wanting her life to move on after her fiance dies in the crash. And Paul Griffin, the character played by Ian McShane, just wants all the pain to go away. He tries to end his grief by quietly working to abolish the football program so he can stop being reminded of his son, who was The Herd's quarterback.

And then there's Coach Lengyel.

Matthew McConaughey's crazy-like-a-fox Lengyel seems to have a paternal nature that nearly compels him to go hard after the Marshall coaching job. The film never says it, but one gets the sense Lengyel was (or, maybe is) the sort of guy who is always evolving as a person. The reflective type who learns more about himself than others when teaching. That guy who is always pushing himself to be a better human being.

The film is successful in making the viewer connect these characteristics to the university, and to the town. The community suffered pervasive grief, and struggled daily with anger, hostility and confusion. Like these characters, Huntington evolved. Because it persevered, it healed. Like the blue collar workers that made up its citizens, Huntington showed up day after day.

And after the fog of grief lifted, it was a better community because of how it handled the trauma.

We Are Marshall isn't a perfect film. There are some filming techniques that were sort of dizzying to watch, and I wish it had been a tad more serious in tone (the comedic aspects were funny, I just didn't expect so many). But there was so much right about this flick--the performances were inspired, the emotional aspect of the film was evident and the soundtrack was successful in helping set different moods and emotions throughout.

And for the locals, it was nice to see Huntington on the screen. McG said in interviews that the town is as much a character in this movie as the cast. He's right, and it deserved it's spotlight too.

Whew...What A Night

I'm typically not a guy that likes to hang out in crowds. But a Hollywood-like premiere doesn't roll through our little town very often. I attended the benefit showing of Rain Man back in the late 80s, so I sort of expected the premiere of We Are Marshall to be similar.

It wasn't, in neither style or substance.

This shindig was better. Glitzy, and with a whole lot more planned pizazz than the classy-but-subdued 80s gala. There was the green carpet, Hummer limos, national media and a handful of big-name stars. Stars who seemed genuine about their affection for this story, and for this town.

Oh! And local women wearing lots of fur. On a 60 degree day.

It's a sign of wealth, I suppose; however, wearing full-length fur (even faux fur) on a warm day under heavy floodlighting is, to me at least, more a sign of goofiness.

Mrs. Film Geek, our daughter Maddisen and I were a bit discouraged when we arrived on the scene and found this line waiting for bleacher seating to the pre-flick carpet walk. Considering we were about 750 people back, getting bleacher seats didn't look promising.

Mrs. Film Geek spotted a friend who was working as an usher. He noticed us from across the street, walked up and very quietly pulled us from the line. After he said: "Follow me," I overheard the woman behind us complain: "Where do they think they are going?" We weren't sure, but followed Phillip anyway. We figured it was better than where we were.

And it was!

Phillip put us on Press Row, alongside the green carpet and right beside a crew from ExtraTV.

Huntington native and ExtraTV reporter Katie Joel (who also is the wife of Billy Joel) was to our immediate left. She was very sweet, and pretty generous with the crowd. I suspect as a native Huntingtonian, she knew how cool this night was for 10-year-old girls from Appalachia. She went out of her way to make the night even nicer.

Then, after the $1,000-per-ticket-folks walked down the carpet, the stars lined up for interviews with Katie. Because the Film Geek Family happened to be on Katie's immediate right, we were treated to the whole scoop.

McG seems genuine in his affection for this movie, and for the story it tells. This movie was important to McG mostly, though, because it allows him to reinvent himself. He was labeled from the start as an action-film director, and I think he wants to be taken more seriously as an artist. We Are Marshall is a step in that direction.

Kate Mara, who plays Annie Cantrell in the movie, attended the premiere. After her interview was over, I said very quickly: "Hey, you rocked in Brokeback!" She turned to me, smiled and said: "Thank you so much!"

My heart skipped a beat.

In every interview I've seen with Arlen Escarpeta, he's shown affection for Huntington. This ExtraTV interview was no exception. He seemed honestly affected by the small town charm, and the friendship of Young Thundering Herd QB Reggie Oliver, the real-life Marshall football player he plays in the movie.

Matthew Fox and Red Dawson, the real-life coach Fox plays in the film, arrived together. They talked about developing a life-long friendship, and Fox announced in his interview they liked to "sit around, drink beer and shoot the shit." I doubt that makes the ExtraTV report. Fox is my daughter's favorite actor.
Her heart skipped a beat.

I accomplished my mission of seeing Coach Jack Lengyel. He was really gracious in his interview, and spoke with great affection about his time at Marshall. He's been back to Huntington many times over the years, so I know he loves the town and the university. He seems to be such a great man.

The place went crazy for this guy. To his credit, McConaughey really worked the crowd hard. Event organizers had to pull him along in order to meet their time schedule. He seemed to really enjoy meeting people, signing autographs and mingling. During the interview, Mrs. Film Geek's heart skipped a beat. Or three.

UPDATE: USAToday provides this video of the California premiere that took place Thursday, December 14, 2006. McG, Matthew McConaughey, Josh Halloway from Lost and others are interviewed in the 1:59 second video.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Preparing For The Premiere: Part Two

I trekked downtown to check out the shindigs and goings-on for the We Are Marshall flick, which premiers tonight in Huntington.

My first encounter was with a WOWK reporter, where this embarrassing exchange took place:

Me: "Hi. Looks like you guys are settin' up. Can I take your picture?"

Her: [enthusiastic and interested] "Yeah, sure. Who are you with?"

Me: [confused] "I'm sorry?"

Her: "Who are you with?"

Me: "Uh... I'm not with anyone. This is just for, ummm, my own, you know, my own... uh. It's for my own personal blog."

Her: [no longer enthused] "Oh..."

The green carpet looks pretty cool.

I expect later tonight 4th Avenue will be lit up with floodlights to show off the bling--not the bling of the stars, but the bling of the Huntingtonians who shelled out as much as $1,000 per ticket to hang for the evening with Hollywood.

If you spend a grand per ticket for one evening of fun, you gotta bring out the bling.

A big-screen has been set up to show off the festivities. It's two way, meaning that folks standing on the backside of the screen can see the images as well.

I hope they have some close-ups of Mathew McConaughey!!

As I left 4th Avenue, I overheard workers setting up the bleachers commenting that the number of bleacher seats has been reduced from 1,000 to about 600.

Looks like I may not get as close to the bling tonight as I'd hoped.

Update: Word on the street--and on the local radio, and in some shops downtown--is that Matthew McConaughey invited George Clooney, Lance Armstrong and Oprah (damn it!) to tonight's premier, and they are in town. I can't confirm any of that, but it's a really strong rumor around town.

Preparing For The Premiere: Part One

Quick, pop quiz !

The quote:

"I would love to buy a house there, and spend as much time there as I possibly can. The people are so kind — just the generosity and the warmth, the extended hugs and the long handshakes and the eye contact and the sincerity. It’s just very specific to West Virginia and I think the world could use a lot more of it."

would be correctly attributed to:

A. Rich Rodriguez, during his "I- ain't- going- to- 'Bama- after- all" speech

B. West Virginia's Governor Manchin, discussing his plans for life after he leaves The People's Mansion

C. We Are Marshall director McG, during a recent interview with the Associated Press

D. A resident of eastern Pennsylvania, spending his holiday vacation in the Mountain State after reading about the Slaw Line on the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog

(It is, after all, all about the slaw.)

Huntington is crazy today, with all the We Are Marshall hoopla and goings-on. The green carpet is down, and 4th Avenue is sparkling.

The stars will be out this evening, sure.

But I'm hoping to get a glimpse of Coach Jack Lengyel, the man Matthew McConaughey plays in the film. By all accounts Coach Lengyel is special, the sort of coach who understands that life is more than football, boosters, X's and O's and how many perks are contained in a contract.

I wish there were more Jack Lengyels.

Answer: C. We Are Marshall director McG, during a recent interview with the Associated Press

Monday, December 11, 2006

Flushed Away

Me: "Hey kids, are you tired of shopping for Mommy's Christmas gifts yet?"

Kids: [all together, and with looks of annoyance]: "NO !!"

Me: "Oh...Well then, wanna take a break from shopping for a while?"

Griffyn: "We just took a break for lunch."

Me: "Oh, yeah...I guess we did. Hey! I have an idea. How about we take a break to see a movie.
Flushed Away starts in 15 minutes."

Kids: [all together, arms waving excitedly] "YEAH!!"

Me: Flushed Away it is, then. Let's get the popcorn."

Kids are suckers...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Film Geek

I am nothing--and this is my hand, to God--like Scotty Pelk, the main character in James Westby's supposedly semi-autobiographical movie, Film Geek.

I finally had a chance to see the flick which, Sitemeter reported, was one of the biggest referral sources to this blog last Spring. In fact, some folks who regularly visit The Film Geek do so because they found it first while searching for Scotty Pelk.

I'm not sure why...

I mean, first of all, I'm much more attractive than this guy. Clearly.

If you don't believe it, find my picture on the web and see for yourself. Yep, I'm so confident in my hunk-dom, I've passed my mug all over the 'net for months. It's not as widespread as Britney's panty-less limo exits, but it's worth the search, baby.

But, my looks are not only what separates me from this loser. Scotty Pelk has no social life, and fills up that personal wasteland with film trivia and savant-like ruminations of odd movie facts. He even goes on irrelevant tangents about movies while engaged in conversation with other people.

(By the way, I've been reading a lot lately about the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie, Blood Diamond, and pondering DiCaprio's chances at an Oscar. Two meaty roles at the end of the calendar year often plunges actors into the Best Actor category. Watch for it!)

I was saying...

Sure, I like a good movie as much as the next guy, and I do recall a lot of useless trivia about them. But, my interests are far broader and much more functional than that goofball Pelk's.

Ask me anything about comic books or professional wrestling, and watch the conversation flow.

Pelk is so geeky and socially awkward that he can't hold onto jobs. That so isn't me...I've been steadily employed for 23 years! They even gave me my own, private office. It's at the end of the hall, near the copy machine. It's far away from co-workers, just the way I like it, so I don't have to listen to all the blah blah blah-- you know, all that stuff no one really cares about, but pretends to.

Isn't it neat how things like that seem to just work out?

And although I'm sort of far removed from co-workers in my own private Shangra-La-Office, I'm not so far away I can't trot down the hallway during break time and talk up some movies with Helen, Bob or Tom. I bet we do that eight or ten times a day!

Pelk also spends a lot of time on his website, which is devoted to film and film information. He writes reviews about movies, essays abut movies and makes unusual and obscure personal connections between movies and his day-to-day life.

What a loser!

Truth be told, I didn't care much for Film Geek. It was just too--unrealistic, I think is the right word here--to be believable.

Have a nice weekend! Gotta take off and check my Sitemeter!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


AOL Music lists today the 89 Most Redundant, Repetitive Cliches In Music.

I'm sad to report I've done the #1 Cliche on more than a few occassions.

(I've never, however, done #4...)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sizin' Up The Competition

A recent review in Ain't It Cool News describes We Are Marshall as having the feel of "a very small indie film about a very small concept - survival." While the reviewer known as "Rubber Band Man" says he liked a lot about the film, he suggests it is too small a flick "at it's core," and won't be a hit at the box office.

He could be right, but I hope he's wrong.

The review made me start looking at the film's competition for the box office buck. Frankly, I'm not convinced the movie about The Young Thundering Herd won't be the leader in quality, at least.

photo by: Gary Malerba, AP
Yo!-- Rocky: The Geriatric Years (or some such title) will be released the same day, December 22, 2006. My prediction: Rocky is faced with what seems like an overwhelming challenge, goes into serious training to overcome said challenge, comes up slightly short but shows tremendous heart while trying.

I could be wrong...

Oh, It's In A Museam. Now I Get It-- Night At The Museum stars Ben Stiller, a bunch of other people and Andy Rooney.


And The Oscar For Best Supporting Actor Goes To-- Eddie Murphy, for his role in Dreamgirls. Money in the bank!

This movie scares me, cause it has all the talent for a blockbuster, and all the buzz needed for an Oscar sweep.

Anyone Seen Kevin Smith?--Matt Damon not cracking (a) wise, (b) bones, or (c) jokes just ain't that appealing. The Good Shepard looks like (d) None of the above.

By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

This Guy Gets It Done-- Will Smith's The Pursuit Of Happyness opens a week before the Marshall flick, on December 15. But this is my pick for heart-string-tugging movie of the year. Will Smith doesn't mess around, starring in only three flicks that earned less than $100 mil.

I'm guessing this one is still sticking strong in Week 2 of it's release.

Considering the line-up, I'm predicting We Are Marshall has a third-place Week 1, but follows up strong in weeks two and three after some positive buzz on the street.

Monday, December 04, 2006

SNL's Lost Sketch

Matthew Fox hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend, and was featured in a sketch about his show, Lost. For fans of the show, this skit hits close to home:

Happy What?

The "Santa's Butt" beer controversy in Maine reminded me that it's time to start my annual Holiday Period Of Angst.

Thanksgiving is such an enjoyable time. It's sort of holiday-ish, but mostly Fall's Turkey Day serves as a focus for reflection. I need that sort of focus to avoid becoming self-absorbed. I hate selfishness, particularly when it is me being selfish. Thanksgiving helps keep me on the straight-and-narrow in that regard.

But, not Christmas.

While I enjoy Christmas day (watching the kids opening their gifts, and Mrs. Film Geek putting the drawers together for her new, shiny filing cabinet I got her as "the" gift), the Christmas season, in general, brings out all sorts of angst and frustration.

First, I'm a terrible picker-outer-of-gifts. I buy gifts that are boring, and tend to reason that if I like it, the gift-receiver should too. Secondly, the whole rush of Christmas frightens and confuses me. It's become a feeding frenzy, especially when we get closer to the 25th. And thirdly, I hate the freakin' snow and cold weather. I hate the brown hills, the something-other-than-green grass and the dirty roadways after the snow melts.

I know. I'm Scrooge.

One of the most anxiety-producing parts of the yuletide season for me is knowing when to begin--and end--greeting people with the phrase: "Happy holidays." I always thought the phrase is acceptable right after Thanksgiving and through New Year's Eve. But without exception, when I begin using it in early December, I get odd looks from passers-by. Just this morning, while passing an acquaintance on the stairwell to my office, I shot him the greeting.

Me: "Good morning, happy holidays."
Him: "Hi."

No "Happy holidays," or other friendly, seasonal greeting. Just: "Hi."

I feel the angst creeping in...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Deck The Halls

A sign that Xmas is upon us:

I don't care what the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement says "Santa's Butt" beer is funny.

Damn funny!

I hope, though, that the stuff smells like, ...Well, beer.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Strangers With Candy

Strangers With Candy, a prequel to the comedy series of the same name on Comedy Central in the late 1990s, is a riot! Starring Amy Sedaris, the film was co-written by Stephen Colbert and directed by Paul Dinello.

Strangers tells the story of Sedaris' character, Jerri Blank, who is desperate to reconnect with her family after her release from prison. She discovers her father is in a coma, her mother is dead and she has a half-brother who is a twit. Convinced doing "something special" will help bring her Daddy out of a coma, Blank goes back to high school and enters the Science Fair competition. Her path to that competition is incredibly dysfunctional, weirdly warped and constantly entertaining.

Oh, yeah. It's also really, really funny. Like everything Sedaris does, Strangers is clever and smart, even when it looks like it isn't. Compared to other TV shows and skits that have been turned into movies, Strangers With Candy is a gem.

The Sunset's Just My Light Bulb Burning, Now

My thanks to Jackie for getting me listening to Ryan Adams. I'm obsessed with catching up with all his past work now, and especially like this song "Oh My Sweet Carolina."

There's something hypnotic and mournful about the tune, and the way he sings it.