Sunday, November 30, 2008

Men in Film

After seeing the second--and last--Bart Freundlich movie I've seen in my life, World Traveler, I have discovered that I am both upset* by his films and have grown to dislike Billy Crudup.

*I would hate for my use of the word upset to be taken the wrong way. In no way am I insinuating that writer/director Bart Freundlich is hitting a chord that strikes too close to home and therefore disturbs the very core of my being to the point that I am physically revolted with myself. I am not giving that much credit to Mr. Julianne Moore. Any further elaboration will exist outside of this clarification of the word usage, however.
As far as World Traveler and to a lesser extent Trust the Man are concerned, it seems as though his preoccupation with male desertion is a deep-seeded pathological issue that he would prefer to use the chair of director to masturbate--er, pontificate--but while doing so, he is wasting the time of the audience. His take on the dilemma of the weak, self-absorbed modern male is simply not interesting, and his preoccupation with the subject makes me feel bad for his wife, who surely has to deal with his wanderlust on a consistent basis. Moreover, the ease at which his philandering heroes win back their doting spouses is insulting, especially in World Traveler.

All attacks on Freundlich aside, it is actually Billy Crudup who finds himself atop my shit list right now. It seems like the more I see of him in film, the more his fatal character flaw resulting in the abhorrent desertion of then seven months pregnant Mary-Louise Parker comes through in each character he plays, with World Traveler serving as a harbinger of what was to come. Moreover, he left the incredibly cute Parker for the much younger but less attractive/talented Claire Danes, which calls into question his taste in addition to his character and his ability to fulfill his duties as a man.

Even more so than his inability to commit to a relationship or weakness when faced with the prospect of fatherhood, his choice of roles in which his characters are almost largely afflicted with his internal struggle that he faces seems both sad and would indicate a possible lack of range that I had previously not occurred to me.

Men have obligations, dude.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adult Things In Kid Places

No, not that. Get your head out of the fucking gutter, you pervert.

Jack Attack is watching Happy Feet right now, and some kid penguin (I'm sure the character has a name, but it's a fucking penguin and I'm not paying attention, so I'm leaving it at "some kid penguin") started singing "The Message". Seriously. If you need a refresher or don't really know what I'm talking about (and if you don't, for shame...), here's the song:

Obviously, there have to be little things in kids' movies for their parents to get some sort of enjoyment, but that? Talk about something random. I guess it could've been weirder and been the "Check Yo' Self" remix.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Three Steves and a Little Annuity

Upon dicking around on wikipedia for a while, I came across a strange little factoid:

When Steve Young signed his then record 10 year, $40 million contract with the L.A. Galaxy of the USFL, he agreed to have that money put in an annuity to pay him $1 million every year for 40 years in an effort to alleviate the strain on the less than solvent organization.

As of 2008, despite the team and league having gone bankrupt more than 20 years ago, Young still receives his annual check for $1,000,000.00.

Now of course, I got to this point while looking at the career of Steve DeBerg, who preceded Joe Montana, John Elway, and Steve Young as starting quarterbacks on successive teams.

When I look back at that Chiefs team that Steve DeBerg was a part of, I completely forgot about the other two quarterbacks on those teams: Ron Jaworski and Steve Pelluer. Now that I thought of Steve Pelluer, I wish I could forget him--much like I wish I could forget this season...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tube Steak: 24: Redeemed?

At about two-thirds through its last season, I lost interest in "24" and fell behind. I haven't seen the last few episodes of the sixth season and it's more than a year-and-a-half later, but tonight's airing of the "24" television movie is leading to a re-examination.

Jack is doing missionary work and subpoena dodging in the fictional country of Sangala in Africa (presumably for something he did at the end of last season), but my first question rose about ten minutes in when I saw Gil Bellows and couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking when he went with those sideburns. I didn't know diplomats operated in a time vacuum and the 1970's were still alive and well. Moreover, I'm pretty sure they have dress codes...

After the first commercial break, we finally get the first sexy girl shot of the season, with a scantily clad Carly Pope (daughter of Pope John Paul II, I'm sure) post-coitally dressing. Not complaining.

Shortly thereafter, we're treated to our first Powers Boothe (native of Snyder, Texas--formerly home of one of the only Taco John's in Texas) appearance. Status: seething and lame-ducking.

If "24" has taught me one thing--well, one thing other than the fact that Presidents die all the time, and Jack Bauer is a badass who stops at nothing to do what needs to be done--it's that the first new character that interacts with Jack is going to have someone close to the maimed, kidnapped, blackmailed, shot, and/or killed. That would be true in my life, too, which is why I like the show so much, I guess.

New development: the UN are pussies. Jack Bauer obviously is not. UN guys go hiding in shelters with all of the innocent children while Jack Bauer blows up militant warlords' shit with dynamite and then shoots them with his handgun. He is also faster than fucking rockets.

Can Robert Carlyle ooze badass as much as Kiefer Sutherland? I guess I have to wait until after the commercial break...

Well, now I have to wait while Ally McBeal's balding boyfriend (or whatever the hell he was) is getting all the Americans airlifted out from the embassy. This just in: Gil Bellow's Frank Trammell = Tool of the Man.

Jack Bauer can withstand all sorts of shit though. And is cagey.

Answer to the Carlyle quandary: Well, it wasn't much, but he saved Jack, kind of. Oh, and Jack can kill anyone at anytime with anything.

This Roger Taylor character looks a little too much like adult Anthony Michael Hall for my liking. Apparently, this guy is Blake Lively's brother, Eric. At least one of them is doing something cool (hint: it's not Blake on "Gossip Girl").

Speaking of lookalikes, Colm Feore (playing the First Husband) must be Michael Gross'* twin brother. Steven Keaton being tough is a hard sell to me. Wasn't he a pacifist?

*Isn't it a little fucked up that when you're choosing between various Michael Grosses, this Michael Gross is listed as being the Michael Gross from Tremors? Seriously? Gary Coleman's credit to identify him is not "Diff'rent Strokes". What the fuck?

Tim Roth is going to be in a show based on a Jonny Lang song? I don't know about that one...

Well, I guess kids in Africa love scarves. Carl Benton likes kids. Scarves win out every time.

What a short season 7 preview during the last commercial break.

If Jack ends up in a situation in which he gets to kill people in this last fifteen minutes I'd be shocked.

Fuckin' A. Jack Bauer shoots a bunch of guys in the streets of that city in Sangala without killing any civilians and gets the machete wielding kid from the teaser to drop his weapon.

How can Benjamin Franklin Gates' dad be such a dick?

And all Jack Bauer needs to do at the embassy is drop his fucking name and those military dudes go running to do his bidding. Frank Trammell? Still a dick.

And Jack has to turn himself in. But the kids are safe.

Now-President Taylor's inaugural speech was a little substandard. She should have asked Barack Obama to write it for her. Alex P. Keaton's dad was moved, though.

My main question upon the completion of the TV-movie-event-of-the-new-century-that-wasn't-Category-7 is will Jack be all of these refugee children's foster father in the new season, and if so, will this be a new action packed season of "Diff'rent Strokes"?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Random Hearts

As I re-watch "Trapped in the Closet" on IFC, I can't help but wonder why the fuck I haven't gotten around to seeing the second installment. It is so goddamn good. Not that this is news to anyone.

I think my favorite part of "Trapped in the Closet" is when R. Kelly is doing his white girl voice.

It is weird that everyone seems to be strapped in the film.


If you didn't get the chance to read this, it is probably the best album review I've ever read. Don't forget to get your free Dr. Peppers.


"The midget faints again"


A couple days ago, I watched Hustle with fellow Burt Reynolds aficionado, Mark. Pretty good. I loved the longing looks at the calendar of Rome, which brought me back to a simpler time in my life when I first watched the masterpiece Heat. Heat, much like Hustle, was marked with numerous longing looks at Venice.

One weird note on Hustle: Fred Willard was an officer at a desk in the police station about half-way through the film. I'll tell you this, it was weird seeing 1975 Fred Willard.

On a downer note, in the world of Hustle, Burt Reynolds' character, Lt. Phil Gaines, does not live past the end of the film.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

How the hell does Burt Reynolds ever have his character die in a film? He's Burt Fucking Reynolds. Neither Mark nor myself could think of a movie in which Burt was not alive at its end, and honestly I don't like to think of a world without Burt, so this ending disturbed me. As Paul Winfield walked into the airport where Catherine Deneuve was waiting for Burt at the ticket counter, my world was getting turned upside down, and I didn't like how that felt.


Upon finally seeing the airing of the Iron & Wine Austin City Limits episode, I have to say there was a lot of show cut. I guess I'll have to wait for a potential DVD to come out to see what was truly a great show. I was pretty disappointed that they didn't decide to give him a full hour.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bruuuuuuuuuuuce News

When he busted out a new song on Monday Night Football, I think most of us Springsteen fans were hoping for (and almost expecting) a new album to follow.

Well, his site officially announced the news that "Working on a Dream" will be coming out January 27th, five days before what will surely be a glorious Super Bowl Halftime performance. This will be another E Street Band record, which I am totally behind as I liked "Magic" as much as all of his other recent, non-E-Street projects--even the Seeger Sessions material, which I was absolutely obsessed with.

Now, as soon as I found out, I wanted to chime in with my excitement. I was coincidentally listening to "Devils & Dust" today (actually, I listened to it twice), reconnecting with a great album. As soon as I spied the news in someone else's New York Times, I got excited and jumped--fairly quickly--to the hope that he'd be touring again and rolling through Texas.

In honor of the new record, much of which he had been playing on the campaign trail in support of Obama, here's a little clip:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Affirmation of Faith

Every once in a while you get into a situation in which you unexpectedly get a gut feeling confirmed. Tonight was one of those nights.

For the sake of privacy and anonymity, I will refrain from sharing the details of the conversation I had this evening at the neighborhood watering hole. But if there is one thing that should be abundantly clear to anyone who has spent anytime speaking with me or reading this blog, it is that I am a person who is full of opinions. Obviously, I am fairly excitable.

So over the past few months I have grown to have quite a bit of disdain for a character on a television program. The program is not important, really. What is important is that I happened to find myself in a conversation with someone privy to the inner-workings of this show, and my disdain for the character pales in comparison to the disdain that many have for this person on set. Color Me Badd. Or at least delighted.

See, I like to think that my reaction to a character is really a reaction to the person playing the character. Whether or not there is any actual truth to this belief is more than likely dubious, but it still makes me feel special in some vain way to believe that I am more attuned to these things than the average joe. I am [kind of] sure that this is not true, but this is the first time I've been able to get confirmation that the character I dislike is portrayed by a person that no one seems to like either.

What this means is clear: There is a deeper douchebag within that seeps into the characters that Ray Milland, Kim Cattrall, Ed Westwick, Julia Roberts, Ron Rifkin, and Cameron Diaz play.

And, yeah, I think Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz are probably terrible people. Is someone going to disprove my inklings?

This all also means that James Garner, Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Ben Affleck are fucking awesome.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reading Rainbow: Recoil by Jim Thompson

For those of you who may need a refresher or a cluing in, Jim Thompson is the brains behind the books The Grifters, Pop. 1280, The Killer Inside Me, and The Getaway. He also wrote the screenplays for The Killing, and Paths of Glory. I recently read Pop. 1280 and rather liked it, but Recoil, which I couldn't have finished more than five minutes ago, was really great. I will refrain from too much exposition for fear of spoiling the element of surprise, but Recoil follows a paroled con through a labyrinthine mess of shady characters with murky motives in a way only the greatest noir does--unpredictably. Sixty-five years later it reads like it could have been written today, with its protagonist being just hard enough to do whatever it takes to not be a pawn but being just a step behind where he needs to be. The book reads faster than this entry--which I'm cutting off here--but Thompson's hard-boiled prose will burn your eyes into used lumps of charcoal, and that's a lot better than you can usually hope for.

Post Script: While finishing the book and writing this entry, I was watching Brick. If for some fucking reason you didn't see Brick, get your shit together and get a hold of it. It's been on the movie channels lately, but it's a great modernization of the noir genre starring the superb Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


L. Ryan Luecke,

What the hell were you doing up and on the internet before 7:00 am? Unacceptable. Get some sleep.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


While watching the latest installment of everyone's favorite Canadian teen show, I couldn't help but wonder why the fuck they can't get real advertisers. In the last episode of "Degrassi", there was a homo-aggressive kiss while sparring, a closeted (and apparently not fully self-realized) aggressor calling his victim a "fag", the copasetic victim trying to maintain a friendship electing against retorting by dropping his own "you're the fag" line, and churchy prude girl finding a vibrator only to end up having it go off in class with her teacher pulling it out of her bag. Seriously.

All that shit happened in 22 minutes of programming.

Eight minutes were just sitting there for opportunistic advertisers, and I'm stuck fast-forwarding through Cash 4 Gold ads for an entire commercial break, a Switchfoot Greatest Hits album* and then the obligatory Playtex spot.

*Switchfoot? Who the fuck are they? Switchfoot? Upon initial inspection, these guys are "Alternative rock band from San Diego". Huh. Well, if they're from San Diego, they must be good, right?... Apparently, they're one of those non-Christian rock Christian rock bands. Regardless, I have no idea who the fuck these guys are, and apparently they have a greatest hits (plural!) album. What fucking world do I live in?

Now, I get the Playtex spot. For as long as I can remember, all teen programming has inundated with skin care and menstruation advertising. Hell, I think the whole world--and by whole world, I mean everyone that matters (i.e. people between the ages of 21 and 35 or so)--remembers Rebecca Gayheart as the Noxzema girl. I'd imagine that each person that knows Rebecca Gayheart as the Noxzema girl, which is really just about everyone who knows who Rebecca Gayheart is, would first name the program they saw that ad air during as being "Saved By The Bell". Sure, the ad aired during "Hang Time" and "California Dreams" and probably even "USA High". Maybe it even aired during the original "90210".

And you know what? It makes sense to have that kind of ad on those shows because teens are the only people watching these shows without any sense of irony or guilt, and they're more than likely going to be the only people watching the show who would buy anything advertised on it. I mean, are advertisers going to decide that they need to pursue the ironic fans of a show and have only Busted Tees, Hall & Oates, "The Colbert Report", and drug paraphernalia ads? While there may be more disposable income in that viewership demographic, it not exactly one you can market to with any degree of effectiveness.

But this fucking ad? What the fuck? What kid has a fucking dearth of gold that they need to turn into cold, hard cash? I know the show's Canadian, but these kids ain't prospectin'.

P.S. The Darcy's sister finding the vibrator storyline was fucking awesome. If you get the chance, watch**.

**Go to full episodes of "Degrassi". The episode is called "Man With Two Hearts".

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Man on Film: Kevin Smith and the Path to Redemption

There was a time that I was a big Kevin Smith fan. As a high schooler, there was not an auteur I liked more. Sure, his films weren't visually arresting--hell, they weren't even visually interesting--but they were fun and at times he could reach into his limited bag of tricks and have you caring about his characters on a deeply personal level.

But as his films became more and more insular, they started to carry less and less weight. While Dogma marked a foray into a weightier realm narratively and technically speaking (read: tackles religion and has special effects and a crane shot), it was also a departure from the aspects of his two early films little films that worked*: believable stories with the right amount of heart.

*I think it's safe to say that whatever juvenile enjoyment can be derived from Mallrats does not outweigh the fact that the film does not work. I know it's a little revisionist of me to deride the film because there was a time that I loved that movie, but it really doesn't work. While attempting to hearken back to the John Hughes teen flicks of the 1980's, it lacks the heart that they had and is saddled with a shockingly leaden performance by that London tool--the one who wasn't in "Party of Five"--and erred to the comic book-y aspects of the 80's teen sex romps that did not work then and did not work in 1995. And while I am understanding of the fact that this was a young director given his first studio film which was then meddled with in the way that studios mess with films (i.e. Jim Jacks and ill-advised casting mandates), these problems do not except the film from criticism.

Where his debut feature Clerks excelled in telling an engaging, dialogue-driven personal story, Chasing Amy showed a growth as a writer and director that gave one hope. Then he embarked upon a rather disappointing ten-plus years. Dogma pretty good but certainly nothing special, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was intermittently funny but mostly masturbatory. Both relied too heavily on the characters Jay and Silent Bob who are amusing the first time around but bring very little on the table upon repeat appearances. Of course in between the two features, Kevin Smith busted out that ill-fated "Clerks" cartoon, which wasn't given a fair shake by the network but was a trip back to the juvenile and added insult to the injury of becoming overly reliant upon Jay and Silent Bob. Then came Jersey Girl, which to this day I've never been able to finish, and this is coming from a very public supporter of one Ben Affleck, who is fucking awesome but even his presence was not enough to make me actually finish watching Smith's ode to fatherhood.

When I'd all but written him off, I happened across Clerks II. In spite of its obviously unfortunate inclusion of the characters Jay and Silent Bob, the movie struck me as not being horrible. In fact, at moments, it was very funny. Ownable? Probably not. But they show it fairly frequently on cable, and I've watched it more than once. Maybe it was the benefactor of low expectations or familiarity, but I was pleasantly surprised with the movie despite some of the absurdity that lied within.

Then came Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which finds Smith back in the territory that he explored to success in Chasing Amy. What works here, and I'll try to err away from spoiling anything, is that Kevin Smith has gone back to creating sexually complex situations for normal people.

More importantly, he's also enlisted a new cast. Frankly, Jason Lee and Ben Affleck are probably too big at this point to be doing this film, especially when factoring in their image. Seth Rogan is the current star of the raunch fest, and I mean that in the best way possible. But I don't think the change lies just in the casting. I think the simple act of working with different people and getting new perspectives from the fresh blood can't hurt in broadening a filmmaker's horizons. Enlisting the services of someone as talented a writer as Seth Rogan can't hurt in helping things be as crisp as possible.

Hopefully, Zack and Miri is the first in a series of films that redeem Kevin Smith in my eyes. I've got my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America, The Beautiful

Last night, I went to bed with visions of Liberty dancing in my head

overcome with indescribable joy. I was so giddy with excitement that I actually that I woke up about three hours before I needed to this morning. The emotions coursing through my veins recalled a time in which I had no worries, a time of innocence. A time of hope. I watched the news and was stirred by Jesse Jackson's tears. I sauntered around the house in a daze, replaying the events of the night before and couldn't help but think of James Brown

while picking up the camouflaged cans of the Champagne of Beers scattered across the living room.

As I showered, birds chirped, and bees buzzed, and the sun shone brightly with puffy little white clouds floating harmlessly in the sky. And as I left the house to walk to work for the pleasure of it, the wind blew gently across my cheek,

cooling it ever so slightly.

From high above in the sky, a bald eagle slowly glided towards me--circling kindly--and gently came to rest on my shoulder, and as he nuzzled his head against my cheek, he began to sing...

Upon finishing his song, he told me that he thought I'd been doing well in my life and to keep up the good work. Then he said he had to go save a puppy that was going to get hit by a car and flew off to do good.

As I walked into work, I jumped up on the counter and sang

while everyone started dancing

just like that.

I wore myself out, though, and had to take care of business. When I rose from the throne and went to wash away my refuse, I was shocked to find that roses had sprung forth from my excrement, and it was at that point that I knew,

well, you know...

Upon returning to the counter to help the endless line of smiling patrons, I belted out the following:

and they all wept tears of joy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Shittiest Thing About Al Gore Inventing the Internet

My childhood was an idyllic one.

It was a simpler time.

A time in which we had little to worry about.

At least little to worry about past hearing that Mark-Paul Gosselaar dying in a car crash. Or Donnie or Jordan (or you can really pick your New Kid, I guess) going to the emergency room to have a gallon of semen pumped from their stomach--which was really just Rod Stewart updated for a new generation. Or Richard Gere going to the emergency room to get a dead gerbil lodged firmly in his ass. Or Marilyn Manson having a rib removed so he could fellate himself. Or Marilyn Manson being Paul from "The Wonder Years". There were a lot about Marilyn Manson, actually.

And these little things filled our lives with unimaginable joy. Or more precisely imaginative joy. Each time we heard something like Live being Satanic because their name spelled "Evil" backwards, we thought to ourselves, "Well, Ed Kowalcyk does have a shaved head, so I guess he could be evil..."

But once Al Gore's invention took the world by storm, all that speculation on the verity of such celebrity-centered urban legends was essentially killed. With the advent of the internet, we were suddenly cursed with the ability to check up on the truth to the rumors. In that regard, Al Gore ruined my life.

So on the eve of this election--eight years after our lives were to be changed for the worse with the "election" of George W. Bush--I find myself not wondering what could have been if Al Gore had never "lost" that "election" but yearning for the same feeling of shock when realizing that Zack Morris isn't dead upon seeing the teaser for "Dead Man on Campus".

Depths unplumbed

I don't think it's any secret that I am fond of the pre-1992 song stylings of Phil Collins. Quite frankly, you're a lunatic if you don't like "Sussudio" or "In the Air Tonight", and I try not to surround myself with the radical element.

If I were to admit to liking Peter Gabriel, that probably wouldn't shock anyone, or any monkeys for that matter.

But while Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins are the two members of Genesis to make a name for themselves as artists, I don't think either of them plumbed the depths of the human existence in a way as affective as Mike Rutherford--the brains behind Mike and the Mechanics. Where Paul Carrack and Paul Young were the voice of the project, it was clear that they were merely the megaphone for Rutherford's heart to shout out to the world.

I don't think there is a clearer example of this than the following:

I don't think there has been a song in my life that affected me as much as that song did when I was 10.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...