Friday, June 30, 2006

In This Corner...

You know the bell is about to ring, and these two middle-weights will come out slugging. Place your bets now:

The Challenger:

Vs. The Champion:
Star may have youthful energy, but Barbara is the wiley veteran. It's gonna be a war.

The Times They Ain't A-Changin' That Much

I'm about five turns through the latest Dixie Chicks album, Taking The Long Way. While I'm not generally a fan of country music, this album seems so personal and introspective that I'm rather obsessively drawn to it. Track 14, I Hope is far-and-away my favorite. The song balances worries about some of today's obvious social and political concerns with an optimism about the future.

I wouldn't categorize any of the songs from Taking The Long Way as real protest songs, even though it contains an obvious undertone, and several political messages. Some of my favorite songs are songs of protest, whether the protest is about politics or worries about a changing society. Classics such as those that Dylan and Joan Baez wrote and sang used to move me, as did songs by Arlo Guthrie. Hotel California and The Long Run by The Eagles commented on the dramatic societal changes taking place in America during the late 70s, and speculated on our move toward a more selfish, materialistic lifstyle. Those themes made me like the records for more than just Joe Walsh's wailing guitar.

Seems protest songs are in vogue again, fueled mostly by artists who believe the US government has blundered or squandered many of it's attempts to answer the tragic events of the last several years. The movement can't be ignored: Green Day scored a critical and popular hit with American Idiot; Pearl Jam is back on top with World Wide Suicide; and iconic artists like Neil Young are writing inspired lyrics.

Throughout our history political and social issues have served as muse for great artists. The current wave seems so popular, though, that one can't help but speculate that it represents an increasing and mainstream uneasiness in America.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Earlier this week, when I popped onto Blogger to write something about Oprah, or a Backstreet kid or some other sort of nonsense, I saw on Dashboard the number "99." My next post--this one, in fact--would be number 100.

Compared to some of the folks on my "Blogs I Like To Read" list, 100 posts ain't that many. Some have been writing for several years; others have just been quite prolific in a shorter period of time. For me, however--a guy who used to write a political and issues-driven blog that my best friends and family refused to read (even when I begged them)-- 100 posts is a real milestone.

Milestones are checkpoints, places to pause for a brief second and gauge the road ahead. Will I be able to write as honestly as him? Can I be as genuine and authentic as they seem to be? When the hell will the words and phrases flow more fluidly, like they seem to do for him and her. Will my dry humor come off correctly in type, like it seems to do so easily here? And here.

So, it's with sincere appreciation that I thank those of you who pop onto The Film Geek frequently, and those who take the time to comment about something I've posted. I've learned a lot, and laughed a lot. I've been inspired. Mostly, though, I've enjoyed making the new connections and relationships that have occurred because of this strange, narcissistic cyber journal.

Now, gotta go find me some Oprah news...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

He Can Leap A Tall What?

For those interested, here is a review of the new Superman Returns, from USA Today.

For a lot of fun reading about the movie, and how the flick is geeking folks up, check out Superman Week at Fried Rice Thoughts.

Update: And for continued Super fun, check this out.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Please, Don't Let This Be A Dream

When you've made a career (and millions of dollars) out of passing public judgment on others, karma can sure be a bitch.

Update: Apparently the Chicago Tribune requires registration, which I didn't realize at the time I added the link. Here is the story, from tonight's online edition.

Limbaugh detained at Palm Beach airport

The Associated Press
Published June 26, 2006, 9:12 PM CDT

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement examined the 55-year-old radio commentator's luggage after his private plane landed at the airport around 2 p.m. from the Dominican Republic, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

ICE officials found a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra, a drug that treats erectile dysfunction, in his luggage, Miller said.

"The problem was that on the bottle itself was not his name, but the name of two Florida doctors," Miller said.

"He said he had the Viagra in his possession for his use and that he did obtain it from his doctors," Miller said.

Investigators confiscated the drugs, and Limbaugh was released around 5:30 p.m. without being charged.

The sheriff's office plans to file a report with the state attorney's office.

"We believe there may be a second-degree misdemeanor violation, which is possession of certain drugs without a prescription, because the bottle does not have his name on it," Miller said.

A doctor had prescribed the drug, but it was "labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes," Roy Black, Limbaugh's attorney, said in a statement.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bye, Bye, Bye

Kevin Richardson has left the Backstreet Boys, after spending more than a decade with the band. The Backstreet Boys have recorded three studio albums, and sold more than 35 million CDs.

Apparently, Kevin has a better gig to pursue.

Might as well draft up a "Whatever Happened To..." post, just to make sure it's ready.


I love a good conspiracy. While I wouldn't categorize myself as a conspiracy theorist (and what mostly-clear thinking, self-respecting conspiracy theorist would?), I tend to be a tad skeptical of people and their motivations. Which, of course, is a process of thinking that lends itself to believing--or at least not immediately dismissing--conspiracies.

Think more people than Lee Oswald conspired to assassinate JFK? Maybe.

President Truman established Majestic 12 after the Roswell crash? Well...I dunno 'bout that.

Current President Bush and his administration lied to the American people in order to get us into Iraq to satisfy political and economic desires? Hell, yeah!

Syriana shines a very bright light on the intermingling of government and big business. The movie shows how, without many citizens being aware, the two are so intertwined that the policies of one affects the other. The results change global dynamics, cultural norms and the everyday lives of individuals.

The story of Syriana is difficult to follow. The pacing is slow and the acting seems minimalistic. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the way through I looked at my wife and asked: "Any of this making sense to you?" Not much was, which worried me. Mrs. Film Geek is a whole lot smarter than I am.

Not long after that comment, we began to figure out that the film seemed disjointed because it is staying true to how similar events are carried out in real life. Governments, businesses and even people who are connected do not always know they are. More often than not, we know nothing at all about the domino effects that influence our lives. Governments adopt polices, businesses merge, kings come and go; how those happenings are influenced--and how those happenings influence the daily lives of people across the globe--is the real theme of Syriana.

I think.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How Many Directors Does It Take To...

EW Online has this cool interview with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez regarding their upcoming joint venture, Grind House.

Whether he was directing or writing, I really dug Tarantino's innovative story narratives from his early movies, especially Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and True Romance. Since Jackie Brown, though, I haven't been much of a fan. Something feels gimmicky to me about his work since the mid-90s.

I'm a big fan of the visual way in which Rodriguez tells a story. Sin City was brilliant, I thought, and I really liked the early Spy Kids flicks. I may be the only person in America over the age of 17 who liked The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl.

Grind House sounds like it may be a winner when it's released in 2007.

Tori's Father Was Famous?

Richard Stahl, and now Aaron Spelling; seems I'm gonna be able to test my grandmother-in-law's theory about celebrity deaths occurring in groups of three...

There is no doubt that Spelling was a television pioneer and a genius of, well, some sort. I'm not sure if it was marketing, story development, production or what. But he had vision, and television execs and American culture hooked up to his vision for a long and successful ride.

My favorite Spelling production was The Boy In The Plastic Bubble. I'm not sure why, but the TV movie, which starred John Travolta and then-fiance Diana Hyland, really made an impression on me. I remember watching it with my mother, and being blown-away that something like the movie's premise could really be happening to a real person. The Boy and Aaron Spelling really kicked off the whole movie-of-the-week genre. (Which could be a good or a bad thing, considering.)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Whatever Happened To...Robert Romanus

Fast Times At Ridgemont High was an instant hit when it was released in 1982. Although the tag line read: "A story of a group of California teenagers who enjoy malls, sex and rock n' roll," Fast Times was much more than that. It was a coming-of-age film for kids like me who were struggling with authority, transitioning into adulthood and learning about relationships.

The film launched or solidified the careers of lots of actors, including Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker and Phoebe Cates. It helped resurrect the career of Ray Walston.

But, whatever happened to Robert Romanus?

Mike Damone, as played by Romanus, came across as slick and street-wise, but he was really a poser. Insecure and afraid (but pretending not to be), I identified with Mike Damone more than any other Fast Times character.

Romanus went on to do lots of TV guest spots, some soap work and a couple of failed TV series pilots. Although he has worked steadily, it seems he never met the critical or popular success of Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

Pop Quiz Of Steel

Test your knowledge of the Superman's history and various incarnations here, courtesy of USA Today's online edition. If you're really brave, post your correct answer score in the comments. Please keep your eyes on your own paper.

Here's Hoping The Man Of Steel Rocks

Although I suspect many would guess this about me, I confess that I get geeked up over comic books as much as I do movies. At a small birthday party held for me in May, I actually jumped off the couch with excitement when my mother-in-law handed me a gift bag containing The Encyclopedia of Comics. The 400-plus pages made for days of fun reading and nostalgia.

Despite my affection for comics (super-hero comics in particular) I never really liked Superman. Kal-El was too much of a boy scout for me, and always had too much power for the writers to use effectively. C'mon, ...If a hero can easily change the rotation of a planet, or throw objects through space and into the Sun...Well, that's just too damn silly for even a geek like me to get excited about.

I like angst-ridden anti-heroes. Give me a hero with a guilt complex, or a character struggling to overcome some emotional distress. Let me get to know a hero who broods over a decision, or who actually kills a super-villain once in a while in order to serve the greater good. Superman would never behave in such a way. And that's a shame. It keeps me from connecting with him like I do with Batman or Wolverine. Or even Spider-Man.

In order to modernize the Man of Steel, Superman writers have more recently married him off to Lois Lane, and even let Clark Kent grow a pony-tail. It was a nice try at humanizing the nearly god-like icon, but not good enough.

I'll see the movie, just because...Well, that's what I do. I know it will do huge box office, and that the effects will be super. I'm sure it will spawn a sequel or three, and sell lots of lunchboxes. I just hope the story is great. It's just that I worry it won't be.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tidbits It Will Be OK To Forget Later

From USA Today:
Fans of the Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy can see more than five hours of never-before-released footage in New Line Home Entertainment's limited-edition DVD collector sets due Aug. 29. Each two-disc set includes behind-the-scenes extras and two-hour documentaries. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King are priced at $29.

Geek-y Comment: Due as early as August 29th? Sweet Lord, I better pack my sleeping bag, a change in underwear and some cans of Vienna Sausages and head to Borders now!

Richard Stahl, an actor whose more than 40-year career stretched from New York theater to film and television comedies such as Laverne and Shirley, has died. He was 74. Stahl's film credits include 1979's Five Easy Pieces, Mel Brooks' 1977 spoof High Anxiety, 1980's 9 to 5 and 1996's Ghosts of Mississippi.

Geek-y Comment: How often do you think Stahl said: "I did high drama with Five Easy Pieces and Ghosts, but I'll bet in my obituary they mention goddamned Laverne and Shirley." Rest in peace, Richard.

William Shatner, Tom Brokaw and Regis Philbin are joining the Academy of Television Art & Sciences Hall of Fame, academy Chairman Dick Askin announced today.

Geek-y Comment: [to the Sesame Street tune] "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

The Clown Never Got To Cry

Whitney Matheson, who writes USA Today's online Pop Candy section, links today to an interesting list of Top 10 Unfinished Films Of All Time.

These are some really interesting films, including the most famous on the list: The Day The Clown Cried. This Jerry Lewis flick was gonna be his baby; the film about a clown forced to entertain children in a Nazi concentration camp was his vision, and was gonna establish his chops as an actor. The film was never completed, although some stills and some clips of the movie can be found here and there.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Want My M[arshall] TV

Seems there is a song and video making the rounds for the "We Are...Marshall" film. Those interested can check it out on YouTube here. Not sure what I think of it yet...But, it's nice to see the university's story getting some national play.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Have It Your Way

Given the choice do you prefer seeing a movie on the big screen in a theater, or at home on DVD? Which do you choose, and why?

A Random Listing Of Things I Learned On WV Day

Having WV Day off from work always feels weird to me. It doesn't seem like a holiday to celebrate, and it often occurs in mid-week, which causes problems with travel. So, I usually spend the day cleaning up around the house, or goofing with the kids.

On occasion, WV Day provides educational opportunities for me. A list of things I learned today includes:

1. Marie Osmond has her own line of lifelike dolls, which she sells on one of the home shopping channels;

2. If you are out of Draino and need to unclog a slow-draining bathtub, a wire clothes hanger snapped in two can be used to dig out the handfuls of hair;

3. Sesame Street is still relevant, even today;

4.Little kids love colorful stickers, and behave well to get them;

5. So far, The View sucks without Meredith Viera;

6. Little kids eventually lose their excitement over getting stickers for good behavior;

7.Although it seems like a good idea, you really can't re-use a wet Swiffer pad;

8. The mail does run on WV Day;

9. Chef Boyardee Ravioli still tastes the same as it did 30 years ago;

10. Avoiding a shower and a shave makes me feel sneaky, as if I'm getting away with not doing something that is otherwise pretty important.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Throughout my childhood I attended a church deep in the mountains of central West Virginia. Small and fundamental, the church membership was made up mostly of extended family members. It was rare when folks outside that small circle of relatives would attend.

During my teen years a young, married couple, who were not family, began attending. They were interesting, and seemed pretty hip to most of us kids. Soon, they began taking an active role in the church, and were especially eager to work with the youth. There was one problem: this congregation frowned upon women wearing pants in the church. And the young lady wore pants. For every service.

After several months of waiting for her to catch on and conform, church leaders finally decided to talk to her about wearing a dress. Afterwards, the couple never came back.

I think of that couple often when I ponder how we humans are so easily enslaved to our beliefs, rituals and habits. In this instance, frustration over something as petty as whether slacks or a dress should cover the legs of a woman caused harm and ill will, and forced from the church two people who may well have influenced positively the lives of several kids.

So, good luck to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the newly elected leader of The Episcopal Church. It's gonna be a tough gig, Ma'am. Stick around, though, and change the minds of a few kids. It'll be worth the effort.

That's A Big Ol' Guitar

Friday afternoon was dragging, I was pissy and anxious to get home. The weather was great, so I opened the sunroof on my 10-year-old non-profitmobile and slipped The Killers CD in the stereo.

I turned the volume up to 32, which translates to "bleeding ears" level, and hit the number for "All These Things That I Have Done."

I got soul, but I'm not a soldier,
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier

The guitar is blaring and the drums sound cool, but I'm still ruminating about my pissy day. And then I see this Mariachi Band.

Who can stay pissy when they see a Mariachi Band?
I wanted to get out and listen for a while, but realized I'd look like a buffoon, so I traveled on after sitting for a few moments at the red light.


I experienced an odd sense of deja vu during Munich. The plot about a tragic, murderous event being answered by a poorly planned, superficial military action designed to get-the-bad-guys-before-they-get-us-again seemed strangely familiar.

Seems as though I've been watching this flick for way too long.

Munich follows the covert Operation Wrath Of God , carried out by Israel after the tragic events of the 1972 Summer Olympics, where 11 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. When several members of the Black September organization responsible for the terror are released months later by German officials, Israel recruits field agents to work secretly across the globe to track down and kill people known (or suspected) to be terrorists.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Munich is a complicated and multi-layered look at the effects that Operation Wrath of God has on Avner, one of those recruited to lead the effort. Eric Bana plays Avner, and is most effective by showing the character as being both heroic and conflicted. How the operation affects Avner, his family and his sense of patriotism is interesting to watch, and well-illustrated by Spielberg.

Munich is appropriately violent, emotional, complicated and disturbing, much like real-life actions taken by countries struggling with how to respond to a potential crisis. It's long, though. Much longer than it needs to be...***1/2

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Greatest American Hero

Each Wednesday night in 1981, my Dad and I would return home from church and sit down together to watch The Greatest American Hero. The show, which ran on ABC for three seasons, was more comedy than drama, and it made my Dad laugh.

Dad was then, and remains today, an intensely private sort of fellow, and laughing--especially a good ol' rip-roaring belly laugh--is a pretty public display of emotion. So, anything that made my Dad laugh out loud was cool with me, and I enjoyed watching episodes with him mostly because of that.

I miss that show.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mr. Romance Gets Outed

"Hi, I'm The Film Geek, and [taking a long, deep breath] I'm not really very romantic."

Okay, there. I said it. While I sometimes think I'm romantic, and often proclaim loudly that I am romantic, the fact is I suck. I'm lame. When it comes to planning romance, I blow. Hard.

My wife's 40th birthday was this week. I arranged a couple of things to celebrate the event that I thought would be fun: I put together a dinner with our closest friends at a nice restaurant, and paid to have someone fill our yard with signs, balloons and objects designed to (1) make her smile, and (2) embarrass her a lot.

Fun, for sure. But not romantic.

Romance, one may suggest, could be found in the small, intimate gifts a husband might give to or purchase for his wife. And here, dear blogger friends, is where I went bad. My small list-of-what-I-thought-were-good-gifts was:

1. A couple of large, scented candles.

Mrs. Film Geek and I spend lots of mall time in candle shops, looking for that just-right scent. It made sense to me that she loved candles, so I picked up a couple. Apparently, though, I haven't been paying attention to what we are looking for at Bath & Body Works. Mrs. Film Geek doesn't like fruit scents...

2. A CD of 80's tunes.

Turning 40 was nostalgic for me, and caused me to spend lots of time reflecting on my early adult years. Figuring she would too, I thought a CD full o' 80's tunes would be fun. Another mistaken presumption on my part: my wife is more Thriller than Ghostbusters, more Billy Squire than Footloose. You can guess which tunes were contained on this particular CD.

Number 3 is hard to talk about...So, forgive me if I struggle through the facts. To round out my wife's 40th birthday gift bag, I picked up for her...

3. Office Supplies.

Mrs. Film Geek works in a consulting-type gig, and spends significant amounts of time in the offices of other professionals. But, she doesn't have an office herself, except for a small room in our finished basement. And she is always--well, maybe once in a while--talking about how she needs to better organize that office area. So, I took the opportunity to help out...With a 24-slot travel-ready portable file something-or-other, and some file folders.

Jesus, I suck...

The only redeeming factor in all of this is that word leaked out among our friends that I purchased office supplies as a birthday gift for my wife. So at dinner last evening, our friends gave her office supplies as gifts themselves. Reams of paper, pencils, boxes of pens, post-its, etc. It made her laugh, and got me off the hook. A little...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mr. Romance Eff's Up...

Mrs. Film Geek has a milestone birthday tomorrow. (By the way, since this blog thing started, my wife insists on being called "Mrs. Film Geek". Go figure.) Because I am known among my friends and family as Mr. Romance, I've been trying to plan something fun for her.

Besides cake, I mean. I got the cake covered...Really. I do. (Note to self...)

Anyway, in my desperate attempt to come up with something original I decided to call our friend Darcy (a pseudonym) and ask her advice. Darcy is a great friend, and lots of fun. She is prissy, yet bawdy. She can curse like a sailor given half the chance, and I often tease her about her language. The telephone call went like this (Please be advised, salty language ahead):

Darcy: [answering the phone] "Hello?"

Me: "Hey, it's [my name]. How ya doing? You sound a bit muffled, like you are outside. Enjoying the pool?"

Darcy: "No, just have my hands full, and trying to answer the phone. Carrying stuff in from the car."

Me. "Oh, I'm sorry. I bet you were cursing the whole time you were getting to the phone. I can hear you now: 'Goddamn it! Who is calling me while I'm carrying stuff in? Fuck them, goddamn bastards! Fuckers!"

Darcy: "No. I wasn't cursing. It just took me a little while to get to the phone is all. What's up?"

Me: "Sure you were cursing. I can just imagine it now. 'Fuck whoever is calling! Bastards! Leave me the hell alone, I'm busy!"

Darcy: "No...I wasn't cursing. Anyway, do you want me to have Darcy call you back?"

Me: [long pause] "This isn't Darcy? You sound like Darcy."

Darcy Stand-In: "No...This is her Mom."


End Game

I sincerely hope Cuba Gooding, Jr. saved the cash he made from Jerry McGuire.

End Game sounds interesting: Gooding plays a Secret Service agent who fails to save The President from being assassinated, despite his heroic efforts. CIA and Secret Service high-ups may figure into a conspiracy, and military personnel are lurking in the periphery. In addition to Gooding, James Woods, Ann Archer and Burt Reynolds star. (As an added extra, West Virginia native David Selby plays a small role early on as a homeless informant named "Shakey.")

God, this film was awful. So awful, in fact, it deserves a significant position on this list.

While the plot has potential, the movie lacks energy, follows no real logic and suffers from Gooding's inability to..well, act. Face it: "Show me the money!" was cute and funny for about 20 minutes, but it ain't a career. This guy has no real chops, and should be relegated to an asterisk on the History of Oscar trivia game.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

But I Don't Have TiVo

I really dislike Jay Leno. In fact,I dislike him so much that I have never--not once--seen an episode of The Tonight Show since he became The Man. But, I'm gonna make an exception Wednesday night, when his guests are George Carlin and Anne Coulter.

The sad truth is that both of these folks have become caricatures in recent years, and lost most of whatever relevance each may have had at one time. But, I'm hoping for some fireworks...And as I am way closer to Carlin's political perspective than Coulter's, I hope Carlin draws first--and last--blood. I'm also hoping Leno stays out of the way.

Maybe Dave will understand my absence.

Monday, June 12, 2006


We all know what we are getting with a Harrison Ford film: (1) A loving family thrown suddenly into peril; (2)the everyman father (Ford) who defies circumstance, overwhelming odds and sometimes the natural laws of physics to aid his family in overcoming the peril; and (3) lots of close-ups of raised eyebrows and slack-jawed looks of confusion, designed to convey that the character is befuddled just prior to his decision to kick some enemy ass.

Firewall has it all. And then some.

Unlike some of Ford's most recent movies, though, Firewall does have a frenetic pace that kept me interested in the outcome, and helped me overlook some of the more absurd and formulaic aspects of the plot. Good popcorn movie. **1/2

I Ain' t That Controversial

I need to get out of the house more. I've seen only thirteen of Entertainment Weekly's 25 Most Controversial Movies Ever.

What's your total?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Over The Hedge

School is out, meaning the kids can get out and see a film with their geeky Dad on a weeknight. This week, we made it to Over The Hedge. The reviews were mixed:

Jaden (age 3): "The bear had balloons! I want balloons too!"

Griffyn (age 5): "The squirrel was my favorite, he was really funny."

Maddisen (age 10): "Are we getting ice cream after the kid's movie?"

Dad: (age 41): "The dialogue was clever, the animation was average and the political message of the movie was appropriately subtle. And we are getting ice cream."


Hollywood loves a road trip.

Know a couple of brothers who need time to bond and get to know one another after years apart? Send 'em on a road trip. Need a gimmicky way to illustrate independence and resiliency? Road trip. You a bounty hunter who has a soft-heart? Go on a road trip with your prisoner, and become a better person for having the experience.

Used effectively, a road trip is a terrific metaphor for personal growth. We start out one place, and end up in another. New York to LA, insecure to confident. Boston to Texas, grief to acceptance. And along the way, lots of car chases, explosions and occasional road kill...

...Except in Transamerica.

Felicity Huffman plays Bree Osbourne, a transsexual struggling with patience. Only a few days remain before her gender reassignment surgery, and she is worried something will occur to prevent the surgery from happening. And something does happen; out of the blue Bree receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be her son, a son she unknowingly fathered years ago when she was known as Stanley.

Quickly, Bree and her son begin a trip across the country, with LA as their destination. Bree is scheduled to have her surgery there, and her son hopes to get into the film biz, thinking it will solve all of his problems. Along the way, of course, the pair learn to trust one another, resolve several problems and learn to live with challenges they can't overcome.

The movie is stripped down to a bare minimum. No real soundtrack, no special effects or car crashes. Not many surprises. Transamerica is just a intimate story about two people who find themselves as they struggle to understand each other.

And they do it on a road trip.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Please Make It Stop: Part 4

In yet another "Look at me! Look at me!" moment, Oprah traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to crash weddings.

After several couples spent months planning every intricate detail of one of their most private and important life events, Oprah turned an otherwise solemn ceremony into this:

It's all about you, honey. Enjoy the ratings.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Whatever Happened To...Robbie Rist

Most people remember Robbie Rist from his his work on The Brady Bunch, in the early 70s. Rist, a miniature John Denver look-alike, played Cousin Oliver during the Bunch's jump the shark period.

My favorite Robbie Rist role, though, is his character Little John Martin in the 1976 Saturday live action kids show, Big John, Little John. In the show's pilot, middle-aged teacher Big John Martin discovers the legendary fountain of youth, drinks from it and magically--and unexpectedly--transforms into a child (Rist). Martin changed from adult to child and back several times each episode, but was never able to control the power, resultiung in madcap adventures. I loved the show, even though it was only on for one season.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

OK...You know what this film is about, and you've heard all the buzz about it. So, let's focus instead on a few of my initial worries about this movie.

The Hair: Tom Hanks' hair was the butt of a lot of jokes prior to the opening of the movie, and even I thought it looked goofy. (I say "even I" because...Well, you would understand if you saw my hair.) But, the hair works in the movie. It seems a little shorter than the neck-length style shown here, and was styled in a way to make Hanks look academic-yet-adventurous. (OK. Maybe that was a little over the top.)

How They Gonna Do All The Stuff From The Book In A 2 Hour Movie: I was a great fan of the book, and enjoyed how it laid out the plot in intricate detail. I couldn't understand how the film would incorporate all the necessary detail. But, it did, and in an interesting way. The film used real-time flashbacks (you'll understand it when you see it) to flesh in the detail. Brilliant.

Continuity With The Book: I thought the flick stayed pretty true to the book. The liberties it did take, though, seemed important and true to the characters. The few differences I did notice were fairly minor.

The acting was stiff: Reviewers crucified (pun intended) Hanks for what they described as stiff, or "wooden" acting. I didn't see that...What I did see was his portrayal staying true to the literary Langdon character. Langdon is reacting in much of the film, a step behind the mystery and the other characters. Hanks (as Langdon) looks stunned and confused because, well, he is.

The Da Vinci film was as good as the book. Terrific secular mystery, Fine acting. Good plot pacing and one hell of a story. Highly recommended. ***

Conversation Between Two Old People Out On The Town

The scene: Two not-quite-yet-middle-agers stand side by side in front of a row of movie publicity posters, trying to decide what movie they will see. They look somewhat confused, as if they are unfamiliar with many of the offerings.

The guy: " So...What do you want to see?"

The gal: "Well, I'd really like to see The Da Vinci Code. What about you?"

The guy: "Well...I was hoping to see X-Men soon. You liked the first two, didn't you?"

The gal: "Yeah, but that is a rental for me. I think I'd like to see The Da Vinci Code. You talk about it all the time, and you read the book. I figured you'd want to see it."

The guy: "I do, I do...I just kinda hoped to see the X-Men...But I'll see it next week, maybe."

The gal: "How are you getting out of the house without me and the kids next week?"

The guy: "..."

The scene: Both walk quietly and slowly into the lobby, where they pay $17.50 for concessions.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Killin' Time During Pride And Prejudice

Twenty minutes ago my wife and I cranked up the movie Pride and Prejudice. It took me about ten minutes to get used to the British accent, and a bit longer to figure out the female lead was Keira Knightley and not Natalie Portman.

Soon after, I began recalling the reasons I hate period piece movies:

1. Hygiene practices in real-life Victorian society were nowhere near as good as portrayed in period piece flicks. Face it, folks were dirty, they smelled and they couldn't do much about it at the time. Chicks didn't look like, Knightley, and Orlando Bloom look-a-likes didn't gallivant around the countryside being all that.

2. Actors in period pieces move and talk in an odd rhythm that seems choreographed and forced, and all too uncomfortably familiar.

3. In Victorian England, most girls seemed to be named "Jane." Even the prettier ones. I'm not sure why that annoys me, but it does.

4. Powdered wigs and mutton-chop sideburns frighten me. It's a complicated story, and has to do with my mother.

5. Characters in period piece movies are always dressing up and going to Balls, and other formal get-togethers where they dance perfectly in unison, never out of step and always in control. Hell, I can't walk down the street without stumbling over some crack in the sidewalk. And I have modern shoes, not ones with large buckles and bad heel designs.