Sunday, February 27, 2011

Live Bloggin' The 2011 Oscars

The Red Carpet Edition:

Just tuned in to E! in time to see Jennifer Lawrence, from Winter's Bone doing the long walk in a beautiful, simple-but-classy red dress. No baubles, no bling. Just awesome! I haven't seen her movie yet, but I hope she wins just so I can watch her walk up to the podium.

. . . Then, the camera switched to E! Red Carpet pre-show co-host Kelly Osbourne. YIKES! The transition was like looking into direct sunlight with unprotected eyes.

I actually looked away from the screen for a few seconds.

The Goodyear Blimp's sold out to the red carpet hoo-ray by scrolling messages about the celebs! Oh! The humanity!

Dear Mila Kunas: The lace-y aspect of your dress is the coolest special effect I've seen on TV or movies this year. I wanna soooooo be your BFF.

Strange interview question / comment #1, from Ryan Seacrest to the mother of Russell Brand: " You must be very proud of your son." And oddly, she answered "Yes, very proud." Strange . . .

Does anyone else think a clean, sober Brand looks a lot like Weird Al Yankovic?

The last time I saw Cate Blancett's dress, it was being worn by one of the princesses in Disney's royal castle.

Kevin Spacey, one of the producers of The Social Network, just gave insightful commentary about how social media like Facebook has given voice to the disenfranchised and voiceless in our world. And it's true. Now, back to figuring out how to get more supplies on Farmville!

Sharon Stone is still alive? Who knew?

One quickly becomes aware of one's place in life if, while blogging in a Lazy-Boy while dressed in sweat pants with mussed-up hair, one's wife makes a he's-so-sexy comment about Justin Timberlake as he's interviewed at the festivities.

This just in: Hilary Swank wins another Academy Award, just because.

Nice to see Matthew McConaughey cleaned up for the event [ahem]

I'm afraid Christian Bale is one role away from living in remote cabin in Montana.

The Opening:

The opening, with Franco and Hathaway inserted into scenes from Best Picture nominees, was terrific. Similar to the bits that made Billy Crystal's hosting gigs from yesteryear so successful. Adding Alec Baldwin was pure genius!

I'm not certain, but it looks like James Franco is [ahem] sedated.

The Awards:

Tom Hanks is half-way through his speech for Achievement in Art Direction, and I'm already thinking about making a sandwich.

Seeing Kirk Douglas always makes me wanna stand and yell: "I'm Spartacus!" Even elderly and ill, I bet Douglas can still kick some ass.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo is a fine choice, but I thought Hailee Steinfeld really deserved the recognition. Leo comes across in her speech a little pretentious, especially after Douglas' genuine funny. Cue the get-off-stage music.

Best Animated Feature: TOY STORY 3!! TOY STORY 3!! TOY STORY 3!! TOY STORY 3!! [wipes sweat off forehead] I just loved that flick.

Javier Bardeem makes me nervous, what with his good looks and cool-as-hell accent. Now, he pulls off a white tux with no problem at all? Jeez, I wish the guy would just go away.

Adapted Screenplay Award: Adam Sorkin, for The Social Network, takes the award considered the consolation prize for not winning the bigger ones. Sorkin and The Social Network folks can leave early.

Best Supporting Actor: Keeping my fingers crossed for Bale, because that dude will do anything for a role. Anything! And he needs another award to justify his obsessive behavior. I wish Ruffalo wins, though. That guy turns in great role after great role.

My prediction? Bale. The winner: Bale! For The Fighter.

I hope in his next role he plays a guy who is physically and emotionally healthy.

The score for The Social Network was tremendous, and a real testament (along with the film's subject) to how visual art is becoming a young person's medium. Weird thing is seeing Reznor looking and acting like the guy next door as he accepts the trophy.

Every time Matthew McConaughey is on TV, Mrs. Film Geeks sez: "You know, we've touched each other." Yes, dear, . . . I know.

Note to James Franco: Next awards show, take only half the Xanax.

I'm not trying to be mean, but when I see the Cate Blanchett dressed like that, the tune "When you wish upon a star," pops into my head.

The Academy Award Winner for Make-Up: Bringing back the mullett!

Gods Of Love director Luke Matheny was refreshing, not only for his "I shoulda got a haricut," comment, but for the way he views his art. That passion is missing too regularly in big biz flicks.

Oprah!!! Gowd, no. Run, everyone hide.

Loved the banter between Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. Remember the Wonder Woman-costume-cocaine-hotel fiasco that happened back in 2000? Charlie Sheen can only hope to be as cool as Downey, Jr.

Seriously, who's done more with a 15 minute fame spot than Jennifer Hudson? She has it going on, and did it the right way: hard work, good gig choices, and focus.

I can see it now: Coldplay and Gwyneth Paltrow, One Night Only! in bright lights at the Charleston Civic Center, circa 2020. The arena will be half-full.

People I Didn't Know Were Dead: This year, it was Robert Culp and Lynn Redgrave. Who knew? This is always my favorite part of the Oscar show, and the part that signals we're heading into the home stretch. Sorta like Weekend Update on SNL. Funny thing, my blog blew up during that memorial, with people who apparently didn't know Leslie Nielsen died searching for his info and finding this

Directing: Tom Hooper just said "man-love." Cue Beavis and Butthead cackle.

I wanna be Jeff Bridges! The guy is as cool as you can get, I think. I'm hoping the girl from Winter's Bone wins so I can watch her walk onstage in that red dress. But I'm predicting Natalie Portman. Black Swan was unbelievably good.

Who wants to bet Sandra Bullock doesn't give a shout out to her husband this year?

Best Male Actor: Wish it was Bridges, betting on Colin Firth.

Best Picture: I saw Black Swan, True Grit, The Social Network, Inception, Toy Story 3. But I'm guessing the winner will be a movie I've not yet seen. So, I pick...The King's Speech.

Black Swan deserves it...

But The King's Speech it is. Guess what I'll be renting this week.


Not a bad program, but lacking in excitement for such a strong year in movies. The hosts were mostly OK, but Franco was too laid-back to be asked back next year. Safe telecast, with few surprises.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Closer to Darkman,
Than to Schindler's List, it seems.
Less fun than Taken.

Predictable, and
January Jones is cold.
Real cold. Hard to like.

Unknown disappoints.
Near to the level of the
dreadful District 9.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Waiting For "Superman"

I used to think I had a pretty good understanding of the history, development, and purpose of schools.

Back in the days of Socrates, education was about insight and the wisdom that results. In more modern times, schools in America have served the function of feeding our economic system. Teachers taught basics that helped future employees be most successful on the 8-4 job they moved into right out of high school or, in some cases, right out of college. Although I have three kids currently enrolled in public schools, I thought our educational system was still working within that functionalist mentality.

I was wrong.

Waiting For "Superman," an incredibly thought-provoking documentary, explores the current state of education in America. How, for example, can students in America score far behind students in other countries in subjects like math, science and reading, but score first among those same countries in academic confidence? In other words: we don't do well at all, but we think we do.

As film director Davis Guggenheim points out, it's because the experience of school is no longer about the student. Education in America is no longer serving the functions of our society, nor is it focused on planting seeds of wisdom in the fertile brains of kids. Nope. Instead, schools have become another place of employment for teachers, administrators, staff, and unions.

Schools are all about serving the needs of adults.

Guggenheim's film isn't dynamic -- there are no Michael Moore-like shenanigans. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.). "Superman" is straight-forward while still well-written and well-directed. Most effective, though, is how Guggenheim lets those he follows in the school system tell their stories. It's dramatic to watch a meeting of the Washington, D.C. teachers' union, as the group refused to even consider a proposal to allow teachers to earn more than double their salaries by giving up tenure and allowing performance reviews. And it's telling to see the minorities in the film, especially those living in poverty, attempting desperately to get their children into the best schools possible. Slots are few, and tuition for those type of schools is high.

Wanna argue with me about the purpose schools serve now?

Waiting For "Superman" points out where the educational system is broken. It tells us how past efforts to over-haul the system have failed. Most important, though, is that Guggenheim challenges us to do something about it. Now. Superman ain't coming, folks. He's not real.

It's up to us.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Rite

Whatever you do, avoid The Rite!

This exorcism flick -- so poorly written, horribly directed, and with not-scary-at-all special effects -- is so bad that a beefy supporting role by Anthony Hopkins can't salvage it. In fact, Hopkins seems to be phoning it in alongside lead Colin O'Donaghue. The two have no chemistry in their roles as priests and exorcists.

The actors are so dull, I cheered for the Devil to win the spiritual battle during the final scene just so I could experience some excitement.

About a third of the way into the movie, I became bored and fell asleep. As I slept, I dreamt The Chinchilla scurried up the theater aisle, hopped into the cup-holder between Mrs. Film Geek and me and said hello. His eyes glowed red, and his voice was unusually low, and gravely.

Mr. Chinchilla: "May I share some of your popcorn?"

Me: "I suppose. You interviewed me once, you know. We're sorta friends. So yeah, you can share my popcorn."

Mr. Chinchilla [red-glowing eyes glancing toward me]: "Blogging is dead, you know. People love Facebook now, and Twitter. No one reads your blog. They don't care."

He laughed a maniacal laugh, then threw a kernal of popcorn into his mouth. Because he was still laughing hard, he started to choke on the corn. I gently patted him on the back, and offered him a sip of Coke. Mr. Chinchilla shifted the poprocn into his cheek-pouch, took a sip of Coke, then started laughing again.

Mr. Chinchilla: "Most of the bloggers you used to read are gathered in Hell, waiting for you. I torture them every day, for hours a day, by forcing them to read text longer than 140 characters and not allowing them to click "like" buttons. Goddamn it, people hate not being able to click "like" buttons!"

In my dream, The Chinchilla was just starting to tell me which of my old WV blogger buddies he enjoyed torturing the most when Mrs. Film Geek shook me awake.

"You're snoring," she whispered. "It was so loud, it was embarrassing."

Whatever. I bet it wasn't as embarrassing as The Rite.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Social Network

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T. Film Geek sez this flick rocked! U gotta see it :) JusTin Timberlike wuz da bomb, cuz he made U hate on him worse than you hated Zuckerberg! And what was up with
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

High School Quotes I Remember: Quote # 13

(I make no judgements about content. I'm simply purging some of the clutter that's been inside my head since 1983.)

[Audio distortion from loudspeaker being turned on] "Mr. Pryor, please send [my name] to the principal's office. Immediately." [End audio distortion]

I got that a lot back in the 80s. My visit to Principal Perkins' office on that morning, however, was strange. Nearly surreal.

If it was a movie, it would have been given an R-rating

A couple days before I was called to the principal's office, a classmate bragged to several of us about making out with a girl on the Activity Bus. That bus, which drove two routes across an entire county, was used to give kids who stayed after school for sports or band practice a ride home. Because it went to some really rural areas of central West Virginia, the ride could be long. Some evenings I didn't arrive home until close to 8pm. So you had ample time time make friends on the Activity Bus.

(And sometimes you had ample time to make out with friends on the Activity Bus.)

The make-out story my friend told, though, was too strange to believe. His description of what happened started with talking to a girl, then morphed into heavy petting and intercourse before climaxing (no pun intended) with anal sex. As I listened, it was clear the story was all wrong: the timing, the positions, the fact it supposedly took place on a public bus were all suspicious, suggesting to me that my classmate had written a pretty good Penthouse Forum letter, but hadn't really done the deed.

I called bullshit, and he started to fold. And as many immature male teens do when they spot weakness, I taunted him about the story for several days.

But this story isn't about my classmate. This story is about what happened when the principal became involved.

I left Sociology class and walked down the hallway to Principal Perkins' office. I stepped inside his office to find he's arranged a seat for me across from his, away from his desk, so we could talk informally. I sat down way too close to him, and smiled. After a few pleasantries, he got down to business.

The Principal: "I understand you ride the Activity Bus most evenings, along with several other students."

Me: "Yes, I do."

The Principal: "Your classmate [his name] rides the other bus that goes to the eastern part of the county. He tells me that he and you recently had a conversation about his making out with a girl on that bus."

This was where the surreal part happens. I realized in that moment two things: (1) my classmate had actually complained to the principal that I was taunting him about his sex lie, and (2) if I played this just right, I could get the principal to say some really uncomfortable things.

Me: "I'm not sure what you're talking about."

The Principal: "Did you not recently have a conversation with [name] about his making out with a girl on the activity bus?"

Me: "I don't remember a conversation like that."

The Principal: "You don't remember? [He laughs.] Oh, you'd remember if you had this conversation. It was very graphic. I'm told you guys talked about his having sex, and even about specific positions. You surely remember that conversation."


Me: "I'm sorry, I don't. What did he say?"

The Principal: "Well, one of the details that stands out is that [the classmate] says he, uh...he, well..., [his voice changes, becomes unsure] he put his, uh ... he put his penis in her, ... you know."

Me: "He did what? I don't know what you mean."

The Principal [squirming and uncomfortable]: "He put his penis in her, ... in her butt. [Sits up straight, firms his voice.] That's what he says. That's his story, alright! I'm told you have been making fun of him for doing that."

Me: "For putting his penis in her butt?"

The Principal: "Yes. For putting his penis in her butt on the activity bus."

Me: "That's the first time I've heard that story, Mr. Perkins. But I gotta tell you, knowing how the Activity Bus works, that story doesn't really sound true to me."

The Principal [deep sigh]: "Go back to class."

I never spoke to the student about my conversation with the principal. I figured if he reported it, he's be dying to know what happened. My not telling him let me control that, in some sordid way. Principal Perkins never mentioned it again, either. But the Activity Bus was given a monitor the following year. I sorta figured our conversation played some role in that.