Saturday, March 12, 2005

THERE MAY COME A TIME WHEN A LASS NEEDS A LAWYER: To criticize the Bolly/Hollywood film Bride & Prejudice for being inconsequential or formulaic would be entirely accurate, yet miss the point completely.

I will readily concede that the movie's plot is little more than excuse to allow us to watch beautiful people do goofy things in exotic places around the world for two hours. If you've seen any romantic comedy, ever, you will not be surprised for a moment here. But so what? Sometimes you want a stately cocktail, and some days, you want a delicious milkshake.

And, my goodness, Aishwarya Rai has a milkshake that brings the world to her yard. There is nothing I can say about her that has not been said (or that would get me into trouble with my wife), so I will leave this truth universally acknowledged at hubba, hubba. The rest of the cast is solid, with particular kudos to Nitin Ganatra's willingness to make an ass of himself as a California-based player-in-training. (Also, is Martin Henderson playing the poor man's Breckin Meyer, or the poor man's poor man's Noah Wyle?)

One final moviewatching note: in a crowded theater, we were stuck with a very loud older couple behind us, that talked nonstop for the first fifteen minutes of the movie, and not even the tradition Older People Have To Explain Things To Each Other kind of nonsense. They were talking about shopping and their friends.

Glaring at them didn't do anything. Saying "Excuse me?" or "Could you keep it down?" didn't help. Which, after a few more minutes of their obnoxious distraction, left me saying this, loudly: Could you please give me your address? I'll send you the DVD when it comes out, and then you can talk all you want.

That shut them up. Swear to God.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I AM MARK BURNETT'S BITCH: There's no other way to put it: The Contender is fantastic television, and if you're looking for early adapting, Isaac, jump on board right now.

The Contender is reality tv stripped to its essence: 16 men trying to eliminate each other the simplest way possible: beating each other up. (Which, if you saw Survivor this week, you know how much fun it is.)

All the Burnett trademarks are there -- clear structure (training/challenge/family/fight), high production values, solid challenges, great personalities in the cast, hosts that occasionally need to be overdubbed for clarity -- but what's new here is the level of family drama that's involved. When you see these guys boxing in front of their children, man, it hurts to watch.

(One minor note: so far, Jackie Callen has had as much a role as original Joe Millionaire host Alex McLeod, but that's neither here nor there.)

Stallone is as iconic as Trump, only he's willing to lend his expertise throughout the show and not just swoop in at the beginning and end. And Sugar Ray . . . that's a legend.

Yes, I'm fine with Burnett getting even richer off this. And I'll be thrilled if the show has some impact in cleaning up the sport, bringing back fans, making it a legitmate attraction again. I've spent some time at the legendary Blue Horizon and down the shore for fights with my dad, and at that level, it's a lot of fun. As the PTI guys love to point out, there used to be a time when boxing and horse racing were two of the premiere sports in this country, and I wouldn't mind at all seeing boxing make its way back to the top.

So watch this show. Because someday soon, Ahmed and Ishe are going to wail on each other, and it's going to be awesome.

edited to add: For readers interested in detailed analysis from a boxing fan as to who should win this competion, this TWoP post will be most educational.
BETTER THAN "MIND OF THE MARRIED MAN:" To be fair, I never saw Mike Binder's much-loathed HBO sitcom, but I'll trust those who loathed it. By that understanding, Binder's first film as a writer/director/actor, "The Upside of Anger" is an enormous step up. The plot makes no real sense (and ultimately depends on a third act plot twist that's borderline nonsensical), and secondary characters drift in and out, having scenes that do nothing to advance the plot or tell us about the characters (most notably, a subplot involving daughter Popeye's bungee jumping friend). The plot, such as it, revolves around a family with dour daughters that begins to break down when the father disappears one day in the fall of 2001, and their relationship with their neighbor, a retired alcoholic baseball player.

But that's not the point of the movie--the point of the movie is the performances. Although they're frequently given mediocre material to work with, the four young actresses playing the daughters (Evan Rachel Wood, Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, and Alicia Witt) all acquit themselves quite well, especially Wood and Russell (who, admittedly, have the most to work with as the narrator of the piece and the anorexic(?) ballet dancer). But the heart of the movie is the lead performances. Kevin Costner is at his best, playing a modified version of Crash Davis--if Crash had made it to the majors and then flamed out spectacularly, and now, 10 years later is looking for meaning in his life.

The really good news is that this is a role that may finally win Joan Allen an Oscar. Allen has three nominations under her belt already, having lost to Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, and Mira Sorvino, and should've had a fourth for "Pleasantville." (Judi Dench's 8 minutes in "Shakespeare in Love" are unquestionably great, but Allen in "Pleasantville" was spectacular.) Allen is just spectacular as a woman who slides into a deep depression and anger, and spends the entire movie clawing her way out of it. Her performance alone is worth the money you'll spend seeing the movie, and I hope she's not forgotten a year from now when Oscar season comes around.

(That said, anyone who's seen the movie and can explain the ballet sequence, where a character appears to be in two places at once, can you do so?)
WELL, AT LEAST HE DIDN'T FLAUNT HIS CHAIN WALLET: As TWOP points out, last night's "Apprentice" demonstrates that "Gene Simmons is so gross." Then again, I think that was well established in this 2002 interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air," which infamously concluded with the following exchange:
Terry Gross: I would like to think that the personality you've presented on our show today is a persona that you've affected as a member of KISS, something you do on stage, before the microphone, but that you're not nearly as obnoxious in the privacy of your own home or when you're having dinner with friends.

Gene Simmons: Fair enough. And I'd like to think that the boring lady who's talking to me now is a lot sexier and more interesting than the one who's doing NPR. You know, studious and reserved, and -- I bet you're a lot of fun at a party.
MY BOY SAYS HE CAN EAT FIFTY EGGS, HE CAN EAT FIFTY EGGS: Or maybe he can't. Gawker reports on a Maxim editor and his intern's quest to eat 50 Cadbury eggs. I'm sick already.
BY THE DAWNZER LEE LIGHT: Yes, America's focusing on the truly important issues, like the fact that not enough people know the lyrics to the National Anthem. I'll freely admit that I wasn't as familiar with verses 2 through 5 of the Anthem (the whole of which is here), with such Sondheimian wordplay and rhymes as reposes/discloses and confusion/pollution, but haven't these people been to a baseball game? Also, if you think singing the Anthem is hard, you should take a look at the original lyrics to the tune, which contain tongue-twisting lines like "To Anacreon in Heaven, where he sat in full glee," and "Apollo rose up and said 'Prithee never quarrel.'"

Of course, the Anthem, with all its flaws, remains superior to Maryland's state song (enacted in 1939), featuring such lovely moments as "The despot's heel is on thy shore!," "Huzzah! She spurns the Northern scum!," and other pro-South Civil War sentiments.
FIRST PRIZE IS THE GRETCHEN MOL GUESS-WHY-SHE'S-HERE SLOT ON THE COVER OF THE VANITY FAIR HOLLYWOOD ISSUE More so than anybody I know, Adam likes to get in on the ground floor of the reality shows. I first heard of TAR, ANTM, and Greenlight (all of which I love), and AI, Joe Schmo, and Project Runway (none of which I watch) from him. So, in an effort to scoop Adam, I am pleased to announce to you the greatest reality show on television: WB's The Starlet.

Disclaimer: I have never seen this show.

The premise is wickedly clever: Randomly kidnap ten delusional skinny girls from the malls, cafes, and Cingular stores of Los Angeles, baldly lie that one of them is going to be a star, and lock them in a room to claw each other to death while being judged by two actresses who apparently have a little free time plus the casting director from Project Greenlight. The reward: two or three years of unsuccessful auditions and a bus ticket back to the small town where the winner was the most attractive girl in her high school. In other words, same as every waitress in LA. Premise aside, this show really runs on the realistic challenges. Last week, and I'm not making this up, the contestants had to do the girl-on-girl kissing scene from Fastlane. Future challenges: reenacting artistic nude scenes from John Byner's Bizarre, "How Much Blow is Too Much Blow?" and "Brian DePalma's Casting Couch."

While on the topic of shamelessly exploitative reality TV, Defamer sadly reports that Paradise Hotel is not returning to Fox. Defamer sums it up better than I could: "the beloved reality show in which 'contestants' were locked away in a luxury resort with nothing to do but drown themselves in margaritas, screw, and tear out their hair at the capriciously-shifting rules concocted by sadistic producers." That gimmick -- changing the rules with no warning at all -- never got old. I don't know why nobody else uses it.
SPEAKING OF REALITY CRUSHES: This is directed to everyone with a hankering for "rocker" Harold "Bo" Bice on American Idol 4: just wait -- wait -- until you start seeing him sing "Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car" in a Ford Focus promo, or massaging Herbal Essences shampoo into his luxurious hair -- and then we'll see how much "integrity" people think he has.

He's a famewhore, just like the rest of them. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But don't pretend he's not going after the same thing as Mario Vasquez, Jessica Sierra and Vonzell Solomon -- yes, as one TWoP reader put it, to stand on stage at the Kodak Theater and sing a song called "I Believe That A Moment Like This Flying Without Wings All This Time Evergreen This Is The Night While Angels Brought Me Here To Listen To Your Heart As You Take Me Tonight While She's So High And Awake In A Dream".

Thursday, March 10, 2005

AND HE PROBABLY WORKS OUT IN A GYM: I know I ought to keep man-crushes to a minimum. But Fireman Tom, on Survivor? Favorite castaway since Rupert (Before Rupert Got Full Of Himself). Seriously. What an ass-kicker.

I mean, I like Angie And Her Magically Blurred Nipple too. So far, good season.
"DID YOU JUST SAY 'MY ASS?'" You probably didn't see any of the four episodes of "Wonderfalls" that aired this time last year on Fox, but I won't hold that against you. Fox didn't know how to promote a snarkier and agnostic variant of "Joan of Arcadia" about Jaye, a disgruntled holder of a Philosophy B.A. from Brown who decides to work retail while figuring out her life. Then, one day, after nearly choking on a ham sandwich, things begin to talk to Jaye that shouldn't--beginning with a defective wax lion that came out of the Moldarama machine in the store Jaye works at--and they won't shut up until she does what they cryptically tell her to do.

Unlike "Joan," "Wonderfalls" revels in the question of whether Jaye is sane, and rather than giving our heroine a generally happy family, places Jaye as the odd one out in a family of extroverted overchievers. Furthermore, the directions given by the talking animals are usually less than clear about what they want. I've been running through the episodes on DVD (the DVD's on special at Target this week, and for $29.99, you get all 13 episodes, which, honestly, is a pretty darn good deal), and on a second viewing, I think that "Karma Chameleon" is actually one of the best hours of TV of last year. In this one, the title stuffed animal orders Jaye to "Get Her Words Out!," which results in Jaye taking a stutterer under her wing, who winds up going all "Single White Female" on her. In the end, Jaye winds up learning about herself, and making a surprisingly thoughtful statement on the life of the twentysomething in America today. It's top-tier TV.

(All that said, I'm still watching "The O.C." tonight, not just because of the brilliant title "The Mallpisode," but because of that little "Star Wars" trailer, for unlike Adam, I am a "Star Wars" geek of some degree.)
TAKE OFF YOUR RAINBOW SHADES: Off to Arizona for 10 days or so, but given the myriad bloggers who make up the crack ALOTT5MA staff, I expect my absence--or at the very least diminished input--will hardly be noticed round these parts.

Any of you loyal ALOTT5MA fans in the greater Scottsdale area, you can recognize me as the guy playing a round of golf, watching the Cubs minor leaguers tussle with those of the Athletics for innings 3 to whenever I decide to cut my kids off on the stadium food and they realize they are at a baseball game and are bored, admiring the cacti, trying to decide which of the four books I brought to read before deciding to just tackle the Dan Rather profile in last week's New Yorker, thinking how we really should drive to the Grand Canyon but not making it much north of Sedona, craning my neck at every intersection trying to figure out if this is the right strip mall where my destination lay as I make another trip to buy something I forgot or overlooked or was too lazy to pack (baby shampoo, Legos and the like), trying to avoid chain restaurants and still ending up at the Cheesecake Factory at Kierland (though I do have Friday night reservations at Cowboy Ciao) and spending some quality time with my family.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

AMERICA VOTED: And your final four will be missing Travis Tucker and Janay Castine (unsurprising), Nikko Smith and Amanda Avila (surprising), with Scott Savol and Lindsey Cardinale being perhaps the most surprising to survive.

As of now, I do think we're looking at the reverse of last year, and we'll have a final six with five men and just one woman -- Nadia Turner -- unless Mikalah Gordon figures out where she left her personality or Bo Bice joins an ashram. Lord knows, I'm looking forward to his take on Neil Sedaka night or, God forbid, the return of Gloria Estefan night.

One prediction I feel comfortable making: some night in mid-April, Anthony Federov will deserve to be eliminated, but Vonzell Solomon will go home instead. Book it.
HIS GAME IS LIKE THE PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM: Longtime readers of this site -- all twelve of you -- know well by now that I believe that there's no better quote machine in professional sports than Shaquille O'Neal.

And now, Shaq Daddy delivers again. Upon being told that his listed measurements classify him as among the most obese players in the NBA according to body-mass index (did Oliver Miller and Shawn Kemp both retire?), the Big Aristotle responded: "I've read that same formula, but as an athlete, I'm classified as phenomenal," O'Neal told The AP. "You can look it up. You think that [I'm fat], stick to science. . . . Top 50, three rings, lot of money, two mansions."

The blessings of an LSU education . . .
YEAH, BUT HE PUT PEANUT BUTTER IN MY CHOCOLATE: It's not that the local Spokane paper reported on an Ookie Brownie prank that amuses me. It's that they decided to talk to an expert about the health implications:
Panhandle Health Spokeswoman Susan Cuff said the chance of the students’ health being affected would be “extremely remote.”

“Semen wouldn’t survive the stomach acids and digestion process,” Cuff said. “Anything that’s in it would not survive being out of the body for any period of time.”

Cuff said the only possible concern could be the spread of Hepatitis B, but for students to contract the disease, she said the semen would have had to come into contact with an open and bleeding sore.

Kids, let this be a lesson: do your own baking. (Via ObscureStore.)
THEY CAN HAVE OPRAH WINFREY WHEN THEY PRY HER FROM OUR COLD DEAD FINGERS: Russell Crowe reports that he was the subject of an al-Qaeda kidnapping plot in 2001:
In an interview published in the March edition of Australia's GQ magazine, Crowe said FBI agents told him of the threat in 2001, in the months before he won a best actor Oscar for his role as Maximus in "Gladiator."

"That was the first (time) I'd ever heard the phrase 'al-Qaida,'" Crowe said. "It was about — and here's another little touch of irony — taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as sort of a cultural destabilization plot," he added.

Certainly, French culture would collapse without the keystone strength of Gerard Deparideu. But this threat leads the Pathetic Earthling to ask: what icon's absence would most destablize American culture? Brad Pitt? Gene Hackman? Abe Vagoda? Show all work.

CLAP ON: A bow is in order in the direction of Mobile PC magazine on the occasion of the pub's list of The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time. What given the source you would think would be a dry look at advances in, well, Mobile PCs and their ilk, is instead an immensley readable and enjoyable look at gadgetdom from the revolutionary (Powerbooks, Palms, Ipods, the first remote control, the first mouse, and digital camera) to the plain goofy (the Clapper, Magic 8-Ball, Rubik's Cube) to the ancient (the abacus and sextant). Both informative and intriguing, it's lists like this that make suffering though every VH1's 50 Smoothest Easy Listening Moments for our art worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

SSSHH! USE YOUR LIBRARY VOICE: If I'm being perfectly honest here, the household TiVo failed to change channels at 9:00p, and we didn't realize it until 9:35p.

So I'm not entirely sure what happened on this leg of the Race, only that I assume that [The Team That I Didn't See That Whole Time] took a Fast Forward. But other than that, I need you to clue me in. And, if you're in the Philadelphia area, do you have it on tape? I feel like my week's going to be somewhat incomplete now.

(Also, a minor note on AI -- as of now, I think we'll have a field with five men and one woman after a month, and that one woman's got to be Nadia Turner. But more on that separately.)
YES, BUT DO YOU HAVE VISION? Ticky suggested it, so let's do it: the Blind Justice Dead Pool.

Tell us when Shemp's new show will be cancelled by ABC, and what it's being replaced with. Winner gets the same considerable fame and glory that Marsha did for winning the ALOTT5MA Oscar Pool (#5 in the world, she was!)

My call: dead on April 20, 2005, to be replaced for sweeps with some kind of Swapping show.
HE LIKES TO WATCH: I think we have our first candidate for the ALOTT5MA Hall of Fame (which will be abbreviated to the ALOTT5MA HOF in future posts). Meet Colin Leach, a 30-year-old pharmacist from Kansas City who has been systematically viewing all the films picked in the AFI's 100 years...100 lists. As if that wasn't reason enough for this blog to embrace, Leach, the beautiful thing about his obsession is that Leach says "I'm not obsessed with movies. My obsession is with completion."

Some other highlights from the Leach profile...

Before he launched his film-watching effort, Leach was at best a casual moviegoer. Even today he knows almost nothing about film history or film theory. He rarely turns on the TV except to watch a film. He and his housemates don't subscribe to cable.
So, he's watched some 500 movies and still doesn't know anything about the history of film? Umm, I'm not sure if I really want leach filling my next prescription.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia almost a decade ago, Leach realized that as a math-and-science type he knew virtually nothing about literature. So he found a list of essential novels and started reading.
He put that project on hold when he discovered the first AFI list issued in 1998.
Think he's read a book since?

"I realized I'd seen maybe 25 of these great movies," Leach recalled. "I didn't know who Grace Kelly or Humphrey Bogart were. I'd never seen a silent movie."
He was presumably born in 1974 or 1975 and didn't know Kelly or Bogart? I weep for the youth. The 25-year-old receptionist at my last job had never heard the song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." Shouldn't there be some kind of pop culture studies requirement in our high schools?

Now as soon as the latest AFI list is issued, Leach scans it for titles he hasn't seen and devotes the next few weeks to filling the gaps.
And when he's done, he sets new goals. He has worked his way through Entertainment Weekly's 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. He has created his own must-see lists: the films of Paul Newman or Walt Disney's animated features. And he only recently discovered Westerns.
Among the films on the original AFI list are: Treasure of the Sierra Madre, High Noon, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Stagecoach, Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven, The Wild Bunch, and The Searchers. A better student of film history may have been able to find a common link between those movies...hmmm, horses, guns, cowboys hats, good guys and bad guys, Indians, the West, you know they really should group these movies in some kind of genre.

There are other lists in Leach's life. For several weeks he got up each morning and cooked a different type of omelet from a list of recipes he compiled. Another time he decided to buy and sample every type of fruit juice available in Kansas City groceries.
OK, the fruit juice thing is a little strange.

Asked where this behavior comes from, Leach said he traced it back to his last year at MU and the deaths of two close friends in separate auto accidents.
"At first I was drinking a lot, staying out all night. Then I got sort of philosophical. I decided that life's short. If you like something, drown yourself in it."
Ummm, wasn't he already doing that? Still that's an interesting leap of logic. You hate to think that among his dying friends final thoughts were, "Damn, I wish I had seen Amadeus."

"The more movies I watch, the less critical I become. Now I just sit back and soak it up. I always find something that validates the time spent...How do you compare 'Braveheart' to 'Forrest Gump'? It's like looking at two supermodels. They're both great in their own way."
Wow, it's hard to get much more uncritical than that. Based on that, I'm guessing if this article were written in five years, Leach might be saying, How do you compare Weekend at Bernies 2 and Mannequin 2?"

Leach said he was especially blown away by "Casablanca," the Judy Garland version of "A Star Is Born" and anything with Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, "these fantastic women I'd never seen before."
I was willing to give him a pass on Kelly, but he'd never seen Hepburn before his movie-watching binge?

Still, he says, he enjoys the feeling of accomplishment more than the actual act of watching the movie..."And watching old movies is a nice way of figuring out how the world came to be the way it is. If you watch an old movie, you can see what the people who made it and watched it were thinking."
What can I really say at this point?

Congrats to Colin, moviewatcher, list-completist, and a hero to all of us here at ALOTT5MA.
MORE FUN THAN "SEUSSICAL:" Not that you really needed to know this, but Rosie O'Donnell has a blog. (And, yes, it's for real, linked off her homepage.) Apparently, she's exploring post-feminist poetry and is a big fan of Kanye West. And for the record, I did see "Seussical," though not with Rosie, and it's an interesting failure, as opposed to an utter trainwreck.
I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR "72 LEAST METAL MOMENTS:" The Times doesn't have much good to say about the new play "The Name Of This Play Is Talking Heads," which chronicles a young pundit's discovery that not all is good, right, and legitimate in the world of list shows on VH1 featuring snarky commentary, and reveals that (horrors!) the allegedly "unscripted" pundit we find on quality shows like "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders" is not as unscripted as we might want to believe. That said, the Times review does reveal a few of the actual funny moments, including the titles of the "list shows" featured in the play--"100 Most Rockatrocious Moments" and "The 22 Greatest Jews In Hip-Hop." (Ad-Rock had better be number one!) Your suggestions for wholly unneeded list shows are invited.
EPISODE 2: 'IS IT JUST ME, OR DOES IT SMELL LIKE SOMEONE DIED IN HERE?': The worst high-concept I've heard in a while, "Blind Justice", debuts tonight on ABC. I'll be watching anything else. Yikes.

Best high concept? Craft Corner Deathmatch! Think "Iron Chef" meets a sewing circle, or "Wickedly Perfect" meets A Good Show.
COME INTO MY OFFICE, BECAUSE YOU'RE FIRED: Ten Tenors? What will they think of next?

Monday, March 7, 2005

"YOU'RE A BETTER MAN THAN I, HEADLESS PONCH:" I'm really not sure what to think about the newest Cartoon Network adult programming, Robot Chicken, other than that I, for no good reason, found it hysterically funny. Imagine an ADD version of "SNL" with five sketches in ten minutes, all of which are done in bad stop-motion animation, and you've got some idea of what's going on. In this week's episode, "Gold Dust Gasoline," we get a recurring joke involving people dying, an explanation for why some animals got left behind on Noah's Ark, a public service announcement starring the cast of "That 70s Show" (all voicing themselves) to remind us "Don't be a Douchebag," a third-grade production of a show involving a cowboy, a robot, and a beautiful girl, and a race that pits various pop culture icons (ranging from Vin Diesel to Speed Racer) against each other. It's the brainchild of Seth Green, who obviously needs some help, but it's hard to find a show with more bang for your buck.
MAKE NO SMALL PATTIES: Today's Windy City-centric news quiz. "I was just saying, this _________ is going to put Chicago on the map," says Beth Hart, a tourist from Ann Arbor, Mich. In the previous quotation from today's Chicago Sun-Times, Hart is referring to:
A) Millennium Park
B) Donald Trump's new skyscraper
C) The pre-Broadway run of Christina Applegate in Sweet Charity
D) the new McDonald's in the River North area which features 60-foot high golden arches among other tasteful design elements
I'VE GOT ONE HAND IN MY POCKET AND THE OTHER ONE'S DRINKING A SOY LATTE: "Jagged Little Pill" may have sounded edgy when it came out 10 years ago (has it really been that long?), but Alanis is planning an acoustic remake which will be sold initially solely at Starbucks to commemorate the album's anniversary. Yes, you'll be able to sip your cup of Chantico(tm) while listening to Alanis detail how she once fellated someone in a theatre. That said, "Jagged Little Pill" is an album that holds up incredibly well--not just for the four singles ("You Oughta Know," "Hand In My Pocket," "You Learn," and "Ironic"), all of which, save "Ironic," retain their power--but also for less-known cuts like "Wake Up," "All I Really Want," and "Not the Doctor."
A CIVIL ACTION II: REMAND AND RETRIAL All the talk about "Be Cool" overtly referencing Travolta's prior work (by the way, the Chili Palmer character is based on Chazz Palminteri, right?), made me wonder why such a large part of Travolta's career consists of sequels. In addition to "Be Cool," there's the classic Stayin' Alive, which is definitely in the top-5 of the "tough guy from the neighborhood tries to make it as a shirtless headbanded Broadway dancer" genre, plus Jesus Christ It Won't Shut Up Too and For the Love of God Make it Stop Talking Now.

Travolta, however, is just a pretender to the throne of Your King of Sequels. Look at that -- two Star Wars sequels, two Indiana Jones sequels (with a third in the works), a Jack Ryan sequel, and for good measure an uncredited cameo in the American Graffiti sequel, a reprise of a long-running television show, and -- omitted from the IMDB resume -- an appearance as "himself" in Hearts of Darkness, a feature documentary about another movie he did.

Not counting Sylvia Kristel in the Emmanuelle series, does anybody else even come close?
SUDDENLY, BRAVO DECIDES TO ADD GOLF COVERAGE: This may be the greatest sports photograph of all time.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

GILDING THE LILY: Jim Emerson, a film critic whose piercing analysis I've always appreciated, does the kind of thorough analysis of Million Dollar Baby that you rarely see these days, and it's quite worth your time (once you've seen the movie). Sometimes, you need to be able to talk about the whole movie to discuss it in any kind of meaningful fashion, and this is one of those films.

And he likes it, but he finds flaws:
I can’t think of another film that has won so much acclaim for being “deep,” while given only the most superficial exploration by even its most ardent partisans. For a while in December and January I began to think “Million Dollar Baby” was less a movie than a religion, a sacred object beyond criticism of any kind. I couldn’t find anybody – even professional film critics – who wanted to talk about it. It was as if you either drank the “Million Dollar” Kool-aid or you didn’t, and that was all there was to say about it. . . .

But, to me, “Million Dollar Baby” seems a little too calculated to be convincing; it’s so self-consciously “classical” and fussy in its austere design, that it seems clinical – more of an exercise in filmmaking than a fully reazlized film. At times it made me think of a paint-by-numbers masterpiece, if there can be such a thing.

To find out why, read the article. His analysis covers many of Henry's concerns here (spoiler-link!), and I tend to agree with him, especially on Eastwood's take on Maggie's family. Take a gander.
YOUR TIME-WASTER OF THE DAY: Our Girl in Chicago asks: what are the first five movie quotes that pop into your head? (Must be from five different movies, and no thinking involved. Just do it.)

Here's mine:
1. Fuckin' Germans. Nothing changes. (Lebowski)
2. I'll get you yet, my pretty. And your little dog too!
3. Those These aren't the droids you're looking for.
4. All I have to do is stay black and die. (Lean on Me)
5. I'll meet you at the place where we did that thing that time. (Broadcast News)