Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
I contemplated the possibilities, pondered on it for a while, mulled it over, prayed about it and even made a list of ten reasons I could be the newest member of that famous musical group kids seem to love. As a show of good faith if offered the job, I promised to reunite the group with one of it's founding members, Phillip Wilcher. (Wilcher has been called "The 5th Wiggle" --ala Pete Best--after leaving the group soon after it's first album.)
Sadly, no one I know thought my applying was such a good idea.
"Yellow isn't your color" I was informed by my oldest daughter.
"You can't really sing" piped in one of her siblings.
"Uh...There is something seriously wrong with you!" said Mrs. Film Geek.
Just about the time I gave up on the idea and tossed my crumpled-up resume into the trash can, I received a note in the Comments section of the blog post. It read, in part:
"Your commitment to bring back Phillip Wilcher , as well intended or tongue-in-cheek as it may be, is novel. Nil in eodem statu permanet - nothing stays the same....
But thank you for the mention in your pages - I mean that sincerely!
Have a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
Uh oh... Google did it again!
I was worried. Did my attempt-at-a-humerous post upset him? Did it make him angry? I hoped he didn't think I was making a mockery of him. I wasn't. Really. I was making fun of me. I do that much better, anyway.
So I wrote back.
We exhanged comments on the blog post for a short time, then began regularly exchanging emails. I soon became convinced he was who he said he was, (it is cyberspace, after all) and we settled into as friendly a relationship as can be had on this magical network of tubes that is the Internet. I found Phillip to be passionate about music and art, highly reflective, thoughtful and intellectually curious. And he had a terrific sense of humor (he got my Wiggles joke!). Over time he shared with me his love for classical piano, his respect for and devotion to his mother and his fondness for all-things-Liberace.
He even sent me some recordings of his music, and an autographed picture of Johnny Depp.
Check out Phillip's web page here. It's an interesting read, and contains some recorded music he's composed. You'll enjoy it.
Tell him The Film Geek sent you.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I loved the X-Files--I mean I freakin' loved it!-- until Duchovny became too much of a diva and ruined the show.
I'm not certain he can come home again on this one.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
You gotta see this trailer!
The trailer reminds me a bit of Shaun Of The Dead, which I thought was a pretty good flick. Well written, and clever.
Ewe wanna bet Black Sheep will be too?
Monday, March 26, 2007
Saturday night in 1979, all I needed was some buttered hot-air-popped popcorn, a western flick on a newfangled video cassette (remember Betamax?) and a comfortable Lazy Boy in front of the tube. Sure, a year or so later the ladies would leapfrog westerns on my list of priorities, but in the late 70s the cowboys and I were tight.
Don't ever doubt the term geek when it's used to describe me!
Maybe it was the simplicity of westerns that made them interesting to the teen-aged me. More likely, though, I liked them because the flicks were something I could share with my Dad. We struggled to find commonalities, Dad and me. Enjoying westerns was one item on our small list.
Here's my Top 5 List Of Favorite Westerns:
The Cowboys: (1972) I wanted to be on that cattle drive with A. Martinez and The Duke. Eating beans and beef, sleeping under the stars and driving the herd.
Until Wayne's character, Wil Anderson, was killed that is. I recall thinking how afraid I would be, alone in the middle of nowhere without an adult around for protection. Suddenly, the wide open range was a pretty frightening place.
Blazing Saddles: (1974) Mel Brook's classic really pulled a Number 6 on me. To this day, dialogue from Saddles will pop into my head like a bad ad jingle.
Except, the Saddles lines don't annoy me. They make me laugh.
Little Big Man: (1970) Dustin Hoffman made his reputation as a brilliant actor early in his career with films like Little Big Man. The black comedy about a young boy raised into adulthood by the Cheyenne Nation pointed out the often dramatic differences in culture between White and Native Americans.
The Contrary--played by Cal Bellini--was my favorite character in the flick.
The Shakiest Gun In The West: (1968) I have no idea why, but I love this Don Knotts western! It's formulaic, predictable and uses the same comedy bit--his wife is the sharpshooter, not Knotts--over and over.
But damn, this movie makes me laugh. Hard.
Unforgiven: (1992). Unforgiven is so good, it probably shouldn't be lumped into any particular genre of movie. The Clint Eastood flick--he starred and directed--is a look at the effects of violence on individuals and on society. Eastwood is great as the anti-hero William Munny. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman turn in career highlight performances.
Yeah, I didn't see it with my Dad. But it's my all-time favorite western.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
One Hour Photo?
Well, we all know there is no such thing as magic...
His performance in The Night Listener is somewhere in between those flicks on the Is This A Magical Performance? continuum.
Williams plays Gabriel Noone, a nationally syndicated late-night radio host who begins a telephone friendship with Pete Logand, played wonderfully by the most talented of the Culkins, Rory. Pete weaves a story for Noone that is complex and compelling about his tragic childhood, his terminal illness and his loving foster mother, Donna. Noone becomes a bit fixated on the kid and his story. He's going through his own personal crisis, you see, and being needed by the kid is highly motivating.
Noone ultimately abandons reason and travels to Wisconsin to visit Pete in person. What Noone discovers there is the foundation for what producers hoped would be a psychological thriller. They succeeded in part:
It is disturbing, and it is dark. It's even a bit Hitchcock-ian.
It's just not thrilling.
The Night Listener is a better-than-average flick. The acting is above par--co-star Toni Collettee is close to brilliant in her role--and the dialogue is well written. But, the story itself lacks something.
It lacks magic.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Back in the day, Letterman was considered edgy and innovative. In fact, most modern late night comedy shows owe a great debt to Letterman; much of the style and many of the running bits used today originated on the old Late Night With David Letterman show. One of the things Dave did best, though, was find talent and comedy in every day people.
DeForest, who Letterman discovered, was a recurring character on the show. He made me laugh some nights until my sides ached. He wasn't a great actor, but there was something magical about him that made him fun to watch. Letterman seemed to love him.
So did I.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Until 9-year-old Heather DeLoach put on that damn bee costume.
DeLoach went on to work as an actress, performing small parts in I'll Do Anything, Tracy Takes On and ER.
But the effect DeLoach had on the longevity of Blind Melon (Hoon died of a drug overdose in 1995, effectively dismanteling the group) is immeasurable. To this point, The Bee Girl has been her most important role.
If you haven't seen the video in a few years, click "play,", sit back and let Heather DeLoach and Blind Melon make you smile.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Scripts pour in.
Producers beg Oscar recipients to be in their flicks, for the name recognition alone.
Some actors have used this newly acquired clout to enable them to do very good, very interesting work. Think Hilary Swank, for example. She worked as mostly an anonymous actor for years before getting the gold statue for Boys Don't Cry in 1999.
That one win catapulted her into a completely different level of available roles and possibilities.
But, there are lots of artists who miss out on the career path that Oscar can provide. Actors that make poor choices with their new-found Hollywood-cred.
Here's my list of Academy Award winners whose careers have devolved, artistically at least, since their red carpet win:
What Are They Thinking?
Cuba Gooding, Jr: Despite winning the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, the Jerry McGuire "Show me the money!" guy's career flopped soon after his acceptance speech.
After a solid follow-up role in As Good As It Gets, Gooding's career has devolved into movies that go straight to DVD (End Game) and flicks of no real relevance.
Anyone remember Snow Dogs?
Jaimee Foxx: Foxx followed up an incredible supporting role in Collateral with an Academy Award winning lead in Ray.
I hope that title isn't a harbinger of things to come.
Gwyneth Paltrow: I thought she stole the Oscar win for Shakespeare In Love. Since then, she's done nothing really to earn my respect.
Duets, with Huey Lewis? The best part of that movie was a karaoke-singin' Paul Giamatti. And Shallow Hal? C'mon...
Name one great role she's had since 1999.
Nicolas Cage: I'm such a fan of Cage's work that it's painful for me to add him to this list. But, I keep waiting for something as good as Leaving Las Vegas.
Dude, when you show us the goods like to you did in Vegas, The Rock, Windtalkers and Ghost Rider just seem third rate.
Somebody might put out an SOS.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
A cave-in, that cuts off access to the outside world.
Hysteria among some of the group, which results in injury or death.
Large human-like bat creatures that live deep in the cave, and which hunt these women as they try to escape the cave.
Not your cup of tea? Mine either, really. Except for this one major twist:
One of the women in the group suffers an unexpected tragedy in the first few minutes of the film which changes her forever. An underlying presumption as the movie unfolds--it's almost a nagging suspicion more than a presumption, because there are no real clues to this--is that there are no real bat-like monsters at all, and the female lead character (played by Shauna Macdonald) is really behind the goings-on.
Marshall hints at this in several interviews.
Regardless of that plot twist, The Descent isn't a great movie. It's formula is pretty tired, the monsters are stereotypical and the acting is average at best.
The DVD issued in America contains an alternative ending that was originally trimmed to make the audience feel more hopeful about the outcome. The alternate ending, for me, is one of the weakest portions of the flick.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Were we to blame? I'm not certain, but we surely didn't help.
Glenn Beck can get bent! Local radio is where it's at.
Anyway, Jerry's developing his message board into a "blog on steroids." Check it out at this link.
(Maybe the site can be set up to allow donations...)
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I encourage everyone to visit the site. And those of you interested in further developing a board that values community and state-wide relationships: register as members!
Really, join up.
It'll be fun to see how the board evolves.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Not the Triple-X section located near the back and closed off by some mismatched curtains. Nope, the hardcore stuff is for Saturday night!
I said this was a Friday.
The section of videos through which I was browsing housed the sensual, artsy flicks. The kind Mrs. Film Geek digs. Which makes me dig them, too.
I stumbled upon one that looked interesting. I hadn't heard much buzz about it, but the cover seemed, well, sensual.
The title, Boxing Helena, was unusual. But, I figured, artsy flicks are quirky. A nearly naked chick in a rectangle-shaped box is still a nearly naked chick.
I decided I'd make it work.
I dimmed the lights, snuggled up close on the love seat and hit "play." The mood was set perfectly. Now, all that remained was for Boxing Helena to work her mojo.
There's something off-putting about a film in which an obsessed surgeon keeps a woman in his home and systematically amputates her legs and her arms. It's a deal breaker when the imprisoned and mutilated woman later returns his affection, as if what's been done to her was simply an annoyance she can forgive.
Boxing Helena...so bad, I didn't need a cold shower.
I'm still haunted by it.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
We simply don't realize the actor is acting!
There are some fine character actors working today. Actors--both male and female--who use their skills to make wonderful works of art.
Here's my Top 5 Character Actors:
Steve Buscemi: I first noticed Buscemi as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs. It wasn't his quirky nature that caught my attention, but the way he debated with his co-conspirators-- as they sat in a diner-- about his strong-held beliefs on tipping waiters. Buscemi immediately improves any film he is in. He's a fine director as well, having directed several episodes of the HBO hit The Sopranos.
John C. Reilly: Reilly's character Reed Rothchild was the reason I loved Boogie Nights. His best-friend turn to lead Mark Whalberg was simply brilliant, and a turning point in the career of a guy who can do it all: musicals, drama, comedy.
Reilly is brilliant. The one movie in which he had a lead--Criminal--was watchable only because of Reilly's skill.
Chris Cooper: Matewan was the first movie about West Virginia of which I can recall feeling proud. Much of that feeling had to do with how Cooper portrayed Joe Kenehan, a union organizer. Cooper brings a subdued emotion to the characters he portrays, and consistently turns out terrific performances.
Eugene Levy: Look, don't dismiss this guy as an actor because of his SCTV days, and because some of his best work came in Chris Guest mockumentaries. Levy made the first American Pie flick a hit, and his role as Gerry Fleck in Best In Show should have earned him an Academy Award nod.
Although, I'd like to forget The Man...
Phillip Seymour Hoffman: Sure, you're gonna complain I jumped the shark with Hoffman as a character actor. Just because of Capote. I'm telling you that Capote was an anomaly. Not the brilliant performance, just the lead actor role. Hoffman's role in Capote was a character one, even though it was the lead. And it was--just as all his roles are--nothing short of incredible.
As good as it was, I liked Hoffman better in Magnolia.
OK, that's my list. What's yours look like?
Thursday, March 08, 2007
This about John Popper, from today's USA Today:
By Douglas Mason, AP
"Inside the black Mercedes SUV, officers found a cache of weapons and a small amount of marijuana. A police dog searched the vehicle, finding numerous hidden compartments containing four rifles, nine handguns and a switchblade knife, a Taser and night vision goggles. The vehicle also had flashing emergency headlights, a siren and a public address system," according to the story.
He was a passenger in the vehicle, which was doing 111 mph!
"Popper, who lives in Snohomish, Wash., is the owner of the vehicle, which was being driven by Brian Gourgeois, 34, of Austin, Texas. "
The article does not report how many--if any--harmonicas were discovered in the SUV.
"I loved Invincible! In fact, I loved it so much, I couldn't help cheering aloud as I watched: 'Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!"
"Marky Mark and his Phunky Bunch of Philadelphia Eagles."
(Admittedly, that one wasn't really very good...)
But, my pre-judgement about the sports flick was wrong. I ended up being pretty impressed with the Disney production, and particularly with Wahlberg's performance.
Invincible is inspired by the true story of Vince Papale, a Philadelphia bartender who tried out to make the Eagles team. When new Coach Dick Vermeil (played pretty true-to-life by Greg Kinnear) arrived in 1975, the Eagles were the dregs of the NFL. To add spirit and new life to the team and the city, Vermeil announced open tryouts; hundreds of regular guys showed up, but only Papale makes the team. Against overwhelming odds--he was 30 years old, and played only one year of high school football-- Papale not only made the team, but made significant contributions. He was named Captain of Special Teams near the end of his three year professional career.
More importantly, Papale renewed enthusiasm among fans and within a city that had lost a lot of it's swagger: work in the blue-collar city was hard to come by, a recession was hitting hard and the Eagles football team--the one thing that united the citizens of the city, and gave them some measure of hope--was a perpetual loser.
That's what I liked most about Invincible. As much as it's about an individual achieving a dream against nearly impossible odds, it's also about how communities need to dream as well. How the success of a friend, family member or even a stranger with whom we identify can inspire hope in us as well.
It's wrong to dismiss Invincible as simply another sports flick. It's a story of accomplishment, and of dramatic achievement. And it's worth seeing.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I always thought I'd enjoy the carny lifestyle. But ultimately, it's probably best I didn't join the traveling side-show with my high school classmate, Steve Copenhaver.
Those clowns can be pretty damn creepy.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Maybe Hotdog blog could send a staff person over to cover the event, determine what "everything" is to Hiz Honor, and talk the guy into fixing some potholes.
Monday, March 05, 2007
1. Edward Norton
2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
3. Dustin Hoffman
4. Billy Bob Thornton
and new to the 5th spot:
5. Ryan Gosling
Gosling is magnificent in his role as an inner-city public school teacher and basketball coach, who connects so easily with kids, but so poorly with adults. His Dan Dunn is a drug addict who can't shake his addiction, and his life--even without the crack pipe--is a disaster.
He smart and sensitive, but extremely flawed.
Watching a guy slowly self destruct with drug use doesn't do much to endear a character to an audience. But Gosling plays Dunn as a tragic figure, a sort of man-child who uses to numb himself from emotional turmoil. That allows the audience to feel some empathy for Dunn, and helps make the movie really work.
Shareeka Epps, a newcomer to movies, shows tremendous range in her portrayal of Drey, a student of Dunn's who is fighting the lure of the drug culture. By accident, Drey discovers Dunn's secret addiction, and serves as sort of surrogate little sister for Dunn. She gives him a focus he wouldn't have, otherwise.
Half Nelson is a dark and tragic film, but the experience is worth it to see Gosling and Epps work. Both performances are just that good.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Look, I'm not saying I'm a lot like the guy, or that (if he were real) we would be friends.
I'm just saying I understand him.
Crick, an IRS taxman, leads a hum-drum lifestyle routinized by quirky rituals and to-the-second time management. Will Ferrell plays Crick as a good guy who happens to live a boring, meaningless existence. A guy who's afraid to peek into tomorrow because it might go wrong, and afraid to connect with people because he might get hurt.
I understand Harold Crick.
Sure, I've been there. Like Crick, I used to carve out lifestyle routines that were comforting. So comforting, in fact, that they numbed me. Kept me from feeling, from experiencing. The comfort was nice for a short while, even intoxicating. And then it just became sad.
For me and for Harold Crick.
Crick's moment of awareness began on a Wednesday when he was brushing his teeth. He realized someone--besides him--was narrating his life. While searching for the narrator, Crick meets and falls in love with Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a free spirit who helps Crick experience life outside his protective bubble. And through that experience, Crick begins to understand that life is wasted without meaning.
And, that a short life with meaning is more rewarding than a long life without it.
Once Crick recognizes this, he is no longer afraid to look past today into tomorrow. He's not afraid to connect with people any longer. He recognizes that he can be the author of his own life.
Thanks to Ana--the love of his life, and the one person he cares more about than himself--Crick becomes whole.
Like I said, I understand.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Since it won the Oscar for best picture last week, I decided to take a second look at it. Seeing a movie twice breaks some personal codes I hold dear, but I just had to. As I said in October, maybe it's a classic I just didn't get. So, Mrs. Film Geek and I settled in for the mob flick.
She loved it.
I still thought it sucked.
Based on a true story, Open Water was original, intense and tragic.
I loved it!
Open Water 2: Adrift never made it to theaters, going instead straight to DVD. That doesn't dissuade me, really. After all, I watched a Morgan Freeman/Kevin Spacey straight-to-Blockbuster-flick a few months ago.
Of course, it was awful and I hated it. I'm just saying...
I was eager to see Adrift because of how much I enjoyed the first Open Water. I knew it had nothing to do with the original, but the idea of being alone and helpless at sea is scarier to me than movies about zombies or werewolves.
Because it's possible.
Adrift centered on five former high school friends who reunite to celebrate a birthday. Four of the five are now couples--two are married with a small child, and two others are dating--while one of the thirty something still lives like a nineteen-year-old. Impulsive, and moment-to-moment. The impulsive one, played by Eric Dane, gathers the group on a yacht and heads out into the blue. After some drinking, the adults hop into the ocean for a quick swim. Everyone is having a grand ol' time until someone realizes:
They forgot to put down the freaking ladder!
The yacht--it's not a boat, as Dane's character likes to remind his friends--is impossible to climb. For hours the group tries to get back on board, fighting anxiety, distress and each other. Some fall victim to tragedy, others overcome severe fear to brave through the dilemma.
Adrift isn't a great movie, but it's enjoyable if you like almost-bloodless thrillers. The ending is predictable, and the acting is average. But midway through, I realized I was holding my breath.
That's not a bad indicator that a movie works.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Regardless of the punch line, the knock-knocks and riddles always ended up the same damn way. The joke was delivered, there was a brief pause, then...
Dozens of ping pong balls were dropped on the head of Captain Kangaroo.
The Captain was a bit of a diva. Everyone at the studio knew it, but no one would talk about it publicly. The Captain hated the ping pong bit, because it made him look like a goof. A stooge.
For a few minutes every day, The Captain was pwned by the The Mooster.
And slowly, it began to drive him mad.
Oh, he talked to CBS suits about it. But Mr. Moose had a lot of clout at the studio. Rumor had it The Mooster had Polaroids--the kind no one wanted leaked--of the studio big-wigs.
Just in case.
Mr. Green Jeans sensed trouble was brewing, and tried to intervene. For his efforts, the sidekick was reassigned to an even smaller supporting role on the show.
Remember the New Old Folk Singer?
One Wednesday in early 1984 the final show was taped. Staff and crew still speak in hushed tones about how The Captain's eyes glazed over immediately after the director yelled "that's a wrap." He became unusually quiet. Sullen.
Mr. Moose hung out with a few groupies after that last show was over. Some reported The Mooster and his entourage stayed in his dressing room for several hours after the show, snorting cocaine and playing Twister. Mr. Moose was a player, after all, and it was the 80's. The last groupie left the dressing room some time after midnight, leaving Mr. Moose alone in the dark studio. Drunk, stoned and exhausted.
No one ever saw him again.
People suspected The Captain had something to do with the disappearance, but the police could never prove the allegations. When asked about the missing Mr. Moose years later, The Captain would simply smile and reply: "That's the way the ping pong ball bounces."
It's a sad show biz story, really.