Since everybody else is looking back on the films of 2003, I might as well do the same. And, since I feel the Oscar-winners rarely end up reflecting those actually deserving it, let's go with that...
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. Okay, the award would really be for the entire trilogy not just the final chapter, but Peter Jackson's film version of an un-filmable book is an incredible achievement and is very much Oscar-worthy. Two other films just as worthy: Lost in Translation, which is one of the best character studies ever put to film, and The Last Samurai which is one of the most beautiful films I've seen in years.
Best Actor: Bill Murray for Lost in Translation. Bill Murray is a comic genius that can salvage even the most inane roles (re: Bosley in Charlie's Angels). But it's his more dramatic turns that make him Oscar-worthy. First there was Rushmore, then there was The Royal Tenenbaums, and now his absolute best role to date in Lost in Translation which completely dominates any other actor this year. And the best is yet to come... Bill is re-teaming with Wes Anderson for The Life Aquatic next year!
Best Actress: Uma Thurman for Kill Bill. Oh come on. Forget Jennifer Connely, Nikole Kidman, Charlize Theron, and all the rest... that sappy drama crap is cliche, and each role is interchangeable with the others. Uma's stylish performance elevates this grinder-flick to new heights, which takes a talent no other actress came close to this year.
Best Supporting Actor: Ken Watanabe for The Last Samurai. Easily one of the best performances this year, it really chaps my ass that he will probably be overlooked. Anybody who has seen this film knows Watanabe's quiet dignity and mind-blowing charisma on the screen deserves the Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress: Scarlett Johansson for Lost in Translation. How many actresses could have held their own against Bill Murray in this film? Very, very few. Johansson actually deserves Best Actress for her stunning work here.
Best Director: Sophia Coppola for Lost in Translation. Yeah, yeah, Peter Jackson did an amazing job for Lord of the Rings. But such effects-heavy films have me question what the role of a director actually is in such a spectacle. And, as if the performances that Coppola managed to coax from Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson weren't enough, she wrote Lost in Translation as well. Every scene was perfectly orchestrated for effect, then sewn together to create a film that was brilliant and Oscar-worthy.
My only regret is not finding a place for Johnny Depp in my list. His performances in Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon a Time in Mexico were classics in 2003. Likewise, I haven't a clue as to where Master and Commander should go, but that was a pretty good flick as well.
One of the only things that was going to make my non-motorcycle-riding winter worthwhile was the coming of Kill Bill 2 on February 20. I was already pissed off that I had to wait that long, but today Variety breaks the news that Miramax has moved the release date to April 13. That's 94 days... over three freakin' months... away.
What the f#@%?!? The movie is done, what in the hell are we waiting for? I didn't complain when the movie was split in half... whatever Quentin needs to fulfill his vision for the film is fine with me, but to pull something like this is unforgivable and doesn't make any sense at all. Fans of the first film... YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE YOU MIRAMAX DUMB ASSES... are dying to see part 2, and you now go out of your way to piss them off? If this stupidity is due to coinciding with a DVD release or some other moronic marketing crap I will be very disappointed. If this were any other film, I'd boycott the theatrical release just to be happy knowing that I didn't support Miramax for being such bastards. But it's Uma kicking ass on the big screen, so what can you do?
Okay... a movie featuring motorcycles and hottie biker babes (called Torque)? Who is the genius behind such a perfect concept? Oog... looks like it's über-producer Bruce Berman. The guy has his share of hits (well, one anyway: The Matrix) and complete misses (Matrix: Reloaded, Matrix: Revolutions and just about everything else), so I guess it's anybody's guess as to how bad this movie might suck.
Watching the Torque movie trailer, I can see that they are mixing in some special-effects for the trickier (i.e., impossible) riding shots. I guess it will make for a more exciting movie, but it kind of sucks that reality is so blatantly absent from every film that hits the screen now-a-days. Oh well, I'm sure all the breasts are real...
I ran across a proposed bill which would ban all "objectionable" language from radio and television. Now I can't get the song It's Easy Mmmkay (from the South Park movie) out of my head as I try to mentally picture radio shock jocks trying to learn how to stop swearing on the air...
You can do it Its all up to you-mmmmmkay.
With a little plan you can change your life today!
You dont have to spend your life addicted to smack...
Homeless on the streets giving handjobs for crack.
Follow my plan and very soon you will see, its easy mmmkay...
Step 1: Instead of ass say buns, like "kiss my buns" or "you're a buns hole."
Step 2: Instead of shit say poo, as in "bull poo," "poo head," and this "poo is cold."
Step 3: With bitch drop the t because bich is latin for generosity.
Step 4: Dont say f#@% any more because f#@% is the worst word that you can say!
So just use the word "mmmkay!"
Now, out of respect for others, I never swear in mixed company... oh no, I save that kind of language for my friends, family, and this blog. But I have to say that harsh words have lost their shock value to me anymore... through years of constant exposure, words like "f#@%" have no more worse meaning to me than "darn." Yes, it's a shame that today's youth have turned into foul-mouthed little perverts... but what's the use in stopping the swearing on radio and television when kids can hear far worse on the school playground? Mmmkay?
I had already given my take on who should be winning an Oscar this year, but thought I would do a rough follow-up now that nominations are out:
Best picture: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," "Lost in Translation," "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," "Mystic River, " "Seabiscuit." Who should win: This is a really tough call since the first three are all Oscar-worthy. I previously theorized that Return of the King should win based on the strength of the entire trilogy, but in retrospect I feel Lost in Translation is the better film. Who will win: I am guessing Return of the King has the edge.
Best Actor: Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"; Ben Kingsley, "House of Sand and Fog"; Jude Law, "Cold Mountain"; Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"; Sean Penn, "Mystic River." Who should win: Absolutely Bill Murray... not even a contest (though Johnny Depp made that film). Who will win: Bill Murray... how could he not?
Best Actress: Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider"; Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give"; Samantha Morton, "In America"; Charlize Theron, "Monster"; Naomi Watts, "21 Grams." Who should win: Uma's Kill Bill performance was overlooked (idiots!), and the only one of these films I saw was the excellent Whale Rider, so I have no clue. Who will win: It looks like Charlize Theron has the edge, though Nicole Kidman is a Hollywood darling that could prove an upset.
Supporting actor: Alec Baldwin, "The Cooler"; Benicio Del Toro, "21 Grams"; Djimon Hounsou, "In America"; Tim Robbins, "Mystic River"; Ken Watanabe, "The Last Samurai." Who should win: I admit I haven't seen all these films, but I don't need to... Ken Watanabe's performance was one of the best I have ever seen in a film. Who will win: My guess is Tim Robbins.
Supporting actress: Shohreh Aghdashloo, "House of Sand and Fog"; Patricia Clarkson, "Pieces of April"; Marcia Gay Harden, "Mystic River"; Holly Hunter, "Thirteen"; Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain." Who should win: I didn't see any of these films, but Holly Hunter stands out because she doesn't usually lower herself to dramatic pap like "Cold Mountain." Who will win: Renee Zellweger can't seem to get any hotter in Hollywood right now.
Best Director: Fernando Meirelles, "City of God"; Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"; Sofia Coppola, "Lost in Translation"; Peter Weir, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"; Clint Eastwood, "Mystic River." Who should win: I maintain that the direction of special-effects spectacles like Rings is too much in the hands of people at the computers rather than directors... so Sophia Coppola easily gets my nod for best director of Translation which she wrote as well. Who will win: They'll probably give it to Jackson for Rings just because of the mammoth effort it took to film the entire trilogy (and that's not entirely wrong, I think).
Best Animated film: "Brother Bear"; "Finding Nemo"; "The Triplets of Belleville." Who should win: The magic that Pixar pulled off in Nemo gets my vote (though Triplets is brilliant). Who will win: Nemo.
As for the other awards... Original screenplay: Sophia Coppola should win and probably will. Adapted screenplay: This is an area where Lord of the Rings deserves to win... it's the impossible task somehow done really well, but I have a feeling Cold Mountain will take it. Art direction: Both Last Samurai and Master and Commander are deserving, and Samurai should take it. Cinematography: Last Samurai really should have been nominated but, since it wasn't, Cold Mountain will probably grab it.
Roger made my morning by sending me the link to the new Kill Bill Vol. 2 teaser trailer that's up at Yahoo in glorious QuickTime (I have no idea why Apple doesn't have it on their trailers page). Somehow I managed to miss it when it was posted last week.
While this does nothing to ease my anger about Miramax pushing back the February 20th premiere date to April... it does make me happy to know that the film is out there somewhere.
I didn't think it was possible to ruin the perfection that is Sofia Coppola's brilliant character study Lost in Translation. Unfortunately, I was wrong. As I just found out, you can ruin a film on DVD. All you have to do is make it so that the viewer cannot simply insert the disc and watch the film... you force them to watch dumb-ass previews first...
Try hitting the "menu" button so you can watch the film and what do you get? OPERATION FORBIDDEN! You can fast forward through the previews, but you cannot stop them, and that sucks ass! I paid for the movie not your f#@%ing advertising you Universal Studios fuckers.
Anyway, this is one of my favorites for 2003 and is highly recommended. But don't rent it expecting to see a cutsey romance or a film that does the thinking for you... this is very different. You are simply an observer of two people that find each other in an ocean of oddities that is a different culture. It is a film of quiet moments that allows you to decide for yourself who these people are and what they are thinking. It's not Hollywood, it's real life. You don't watch it, you experience it.
As and added bonus, Lost in Translation also does an amazing job of capturing what it is like to be a foreigner in Japan. Numerous times while watching I had a touch of déjà vu that mirrored my own experiences from my travels to the land of the rising sun. It is respectful of Japanese culture, yet not afraid of poking fun at how foreigners perceive it (which is why I find it ludicrous that some people are calling this film "racist").
About the only thing missing from the DVD was a commentary track... I would have loved to hear Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson comment on the various scenes and what went into making them so wonderful to look at. What you do get is a short documentary by Sofia's then-husband Spike Jonze called "Lost on Location" that reveals how difficult it was to film "guerilla-style" in the streets of Tokyo without permits, prior arrangements, or a firm grasp of the language! The only thing that's more astounding than the film itself is what they had to go through to make it.
The good news is that today Lucasfilm distributed a press release confirming that the original "holy trinity" of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi will finally be released on DVD in September. The bad news is that these will be the same crappy and much unimproved "Special Editions" from 1997. You know, the version where distracting computer-generated characters are crammed into every frame and Greedo tries to shoot Han Solo first? LAME! I had at least hoped that the original versions of the film would be a selectable option for those of us who love and remember the way they were first shown... you know, when Han Solo really was the scoundrel smuggler that Leia accused him of being... who shoots first and asks questions later... not some whiner in desperate need of a bitch-slapping.
I simply don't understand how Lucas could be such a twit. First he creates one of the greatest films of all time in Star Wars, then follows that up with an even better film in Empire Strikes Back, only to flush the entire franchise down the toilet with Return of the Jedi (featuring dancing teddy bears, burp and fart jokes, and general moronic stupidity). I won't even go into the flaming pile of shit that are Episode 1 & 2... with even more burp and fart jokes and, heaven help us, Jar Jar Binks. Please, somebody stop Lucas before he can kill again!
Oh well. I still own the originals on LaserDisc, so I suppose I can always go and burn my own copy of the real films onto DVD. Problem is, I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT!! I can only hope that when George Lucas dies one of these days that his kids have more sense than he does and allows a re-release of the originals on DVD (or holocube or whatever media we'll be using then). Don't we true Star Wars fans deserve that much?
Since Billy Crystal came back to hosting the Academy Awards, I decided to have them playing while I worked... Funniest Moment: Adrian Brody's breath freshener (runner up: any moment with Billy Crystal). Most Deserved Oscar: Sofia Coppola's original screenplay (runner up: Finding Nemo's best animated film). Most Undeserved Oscar: Sean Penn's best actor... he's good, but dozens of other actors could have played that role equally well, whereas nobody else could have pulled off Bill Murray's performance in Lost in Translation. Best Unrecognized Performance: Uma Thurman from Kill Bill.... again, how many other actresses could have pulled that off? Best Speech: Renée Zellweger's best supporting actress. Worst Speech: Sean Penn's not-so witty WMD comment (I feel the exact same, but it was completely inappropriate here... Tim Robbins was able to restrain himself, but you couldn't? Dick.)... oh hell, all of the speeches were pretty terrible, because all I heard after the first 20 seconds was "blah blah blah blah blah." Hottest Babe: Jennifer Garner (runners up: Catherine Zeta Jones, Charlize Theron). Most-Missed Babe: Halle Berry.
Overall a pretty good show. The only lingering question is whether Lord of the Rings deserved such overwhelming praise... best adapted screenplay, absolutely... best special effects, definitely... but the others? Perhaps. As I mentioned before, I honestly think that it is winning not for the film Return of the King that was nominated, but is instead winning for the entire trilogy. When thinking about it that way, perhaps it is deserving.
Selma Blair is one of those actresses that seems to hover on the fringes of Hollywood, taking memorable small roles in an eclectic mix of films and TV. I first remember her from the television bomb Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane and later from the most excellent film Cruel Intentions (where she makes out with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Central Park... sweet!). Then Selma moved on to Legally Blonde and an underrated Cameron Diaz film called The Sweetest Thing.
And now she's playing Liz Sherman in Hellboy which could be her best role yet... I can't wait to see it.
To promote the movie, Selma has been doing the talk-show circuit. I knew from previous interviews that she was funny, but something else is going on now... Selma is hot. While scanning TiVo from yesterday, I ran across her appearance on Ellen where she took my breath away...
Yes. I think the word you are looking for is "radiant."
My favorite part of the interview was when Ellen was asking about Selma's one-eyed dog "Wink"...
Ellen: So his eye was missing when you found him?
Selma: No, but I thought he was cuter that way, sooo...
Classic! Yep, I'm in love again. A pity she just got married to Ahmet Zappa.
I just got done watching the Biography tribute to Phil Hartman and it once again hit me how much I miss that man. He was unquestionably one of the funniest people on the planet, and his work on Saturday Night Live makes him my favorite SNL player to date (who could forget Phil as Sinatra? Donahue? Clinton? and so many others?). And then there were his standout characters of Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure on The Simpsons. And, of course, his brilliant performance of Bill McNeil on News Radio.
Every time I hear a voiceover that Phil did... or run across an old show or movie Phil was in... my heart sinks a bit as I wonder how many other wonderful projects he could have made for me to laugh with had he not been killed. Phil, you are much missed.
Excuse me for a minute... Billy Idol just came on Random Play from my iTunes jukebox...
This is why it's so cool to be able to have all 8626 of my songs with me wherever I go. Just put my iPod or iTunes on random and anything from my music-listening past can come back to haunt me. Billy rocks!
Yes! More Uma ass-kicking goodness was to be had with Kill Bill: Volume 2. It was not as intense as the first part (which makes it seem a bit boring by comparison) but I'd imagine once Quentin edits them back together into the single film it was meant to be that it will even out a bit. In any event, the wait was worth it... the fight between Uma and Daryl was perfect (and gave me a BladeRunner flashback). As with all of Tarantino's movies, I was left wanting more (much more of Pai Mei!), hopefully in ten years Quentin will make good on his promise and bless us with Volume 3.
In the meanwhile, the trailer for Hero with Jet Li has a definite Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon vibe with lush visuals and some cool special effects. Absolutely looking forward to that one.
Inbetween work, work, and more work, I've made an effort to see a couple of movies because that's something I don't get to do very often. A quick run to the TomatoMeter over at Rotten Tomatoes revealed only two current movies that have a rating of "fresh"... 13 Going on 30 and Mean Girls. So two "chick flicks" it is then!
13 Going on 30: Surprisingly enjoyable. It's the same premise as Big except instead of Tom Hanks, we get the sweet hotness of Jennifer Gardner who all of a sudden becomes a grown-up overnight. What makes this version different is that time has passed, meaning that all the kids from her childhood are grown up as well (including her best friend, played by the always cool Mark Ruffalo). Any doubts about Jennifer Gardner's star power will be buried with this film and, if there's any justice in Hollywood, this will be a major break for her (but hopefully not so much that she'll quit Alias!). In the final analysis, I probably enjoyed this more than Big, and can easily recommend it for a rental.
Mean Girls: I was actually looking forward to this movie since it is the feature film writing debut of my current crush... Tina Fey (who also has a small part in it). Sadly, while smartly written, it's just not very funny. Mean girls rule the school and getting revenge ends up not being the best solution. Lesson learned, movie over. Maybe young girls will get more out of it than I did (I certainly hope so, because mean people suck!).
How do you make the shitty finale to two of the greatest movies of all time suck even worse than it already does? Well, with Return of the Jedi, it's not that hard to do... I mean, you've already diminished the Star Wars franchise to teddy bears and burp and fart jokes... but that didn't stop George Lucas from finding a way. Oh no... when it comes to f#@%ing up movies, Geroge Lucas is the master. His latest shot at blasphemy is igniting a firestorm across the internet and, if it proves to be true, is going to make me very cross indeed.
WHAT IN THE HELL?!?!!!
I've already ranted about how much I loathe Lucas for his inane "prequels" and his tampering with his original Star Wars (HAN SOLO SHOOTS FIRST YOU MORON!) but, as bad as Return of the Jedi is, IT'S NOT EVEN GEORGE'S FILM!! It was directed by Richard Marquand!
WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP LUCAS?
At the end of Jedi, Luke saves his father from the Dark Side... meaning that Anakin Skywalker is redeemed and gets to take his place as a Jedi in the "afterlife" (or whatever). THAT'S why Luke sees his father... THE MAN HE JUST RESCUED... standing next to Yoda and Obi-Wan there in Jedi attire.
IT MAKES NO SENSE THAT LUKE WOULD SEE "YOUNG ANAKIN" at the end! I mean, how would he even recognize him? Why didn't Yoda and Obi-Wan reverse in age when they died? Where is the man that Luke saved? Bah. I guess I won't be selling my LaserDisc player anytime soon, since that's the only way I can ever see the Star Wars films when they were any good.
As some of you know (or have guessed) I grew up a comic book fanatic. One of the greatest moments in my young life was seeing a comic book finally come to life in a film... a good film... in 1978 when Superman: The Movie was released. For the first time, things on the screen were matching what my young mind had been envisioning all along. For the first time, I believed a man could fly.
Two years later, a surprising thing happened. A sequel was released (Superman II) that was actually better than the original. Seeing Superman battling it out with the Phantom Zone Villains over Metropolis on the big screen is a memory that gives me goose-bumps to this day.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Superman II film which director Richard Donner intended to release never came to pass, and the film I actually saw was a butchered version of a much better film.
Given that Superman II is still one of the best super-hero comic films ever... even 24 years later... nothing would make me happier than to see the movie as it was supposed to be. And now that the film's 25th anniversary is approaching next year, it's the perfect time to do it. That's why I will be adding my voice to those good people at the Forbidden Zone who are petitioning Warner Brothers to let Donner "fix" the film...
If you want to read about the amazing film that Superman II could have been, there is an excellent analysis over at Superman Cinema. If you want to do something to try and get the film restored, go to the Forbidden Zone and see how you can help.
I was channel surfing and ran across one of my favorite films of all time... The Day The Earth Stood Still, so naturally I was compelled to watch it for the hundredth time. It still sends me into shock when I realize that the movie is over fifty years old, yet is more relevant today than ever. Even though it is in black & white, it is beautifully shot, wonderfully paced, incredibly acted, and has special effects and a music score decades ahead of its time. The film is timeless...
I take a look at this, then look at the crappy state of today's science fiction, and just want to chop somebody up with a light saber. Back then a film meant something. Whereas today, we've got loonies like George Lucas destroying sci-fi with burp and fart jokes, paper-thin characters, and Jar Jar Frickin' Binks.
"I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder."
Fifteen years ago my favorite film of all time, Field of Dreams was released. To mark this anniversary, they've released a new edition on DVD that includes a few more extras than the previous release, including never-before seen deleted scenes. Fortunately director Phil Alden Robinson resisted the urge to go insane, "pull a George Lucas," and completely f#@% up a perfect movie... everything is exactly as he left it years ago.
I still cannot figure out what is so appealing to me about this film that nothing else has come along to knock it off the top of my list. I've seen it dozens of times, never get tired of watching it, and will probably watch it dozens of more times in the future. There's just something magic about Field of Dreams.
It's about time. I've been waiting twenty-four long years for a comic book movie to approach the greatness that was Superman & Superman II, and finally Sam Raimi delivers in spades with the wonderment that is Spider-Man 2. I was a comic book geek that was beginning to lose hope, but now salvation is at hand...
This is not to say that other movies haven't come close... the original Batman was pretty good... Daredevil was better than most people gave it credit for... Hellboy and Blade were serious contenders... even the first Spider-Man flick was a step in the right direction. But it wasn't until Spidey 2 that everything came full circle and you could believe (if just for a moment) that comic books could be real. Not only that, but director Raimi also gives his fans a few inside jokes and is having a bit more fun this time around (Bruce Campbell? Chain-saws? I want another Evil Dead movie now!).
But forget about all that... do you know why this movie works? It's not a big secret: THEY RESPECTED THE SOURCE MATERIAL!! If the huge box-office continues, Spider-Man 2 will be the biggest movie in history, which is why I am all the more puzzled at films like the new Catwoman fiasco that in no way resembles the source material and is sure to be a complete bomb because, HELLO, IT'S NOT CATWOMAN!!
Spider-Man is successful as a fictional character because he's a good fictional character. His history has been refined and built-up for decades... there's no need to f#@% with it, and Raimi understands this. If only we could get him to direct the next X-Men film as well. Hell, if only we could get him to direct all super-hero movies! But, talented as he is, Raimi can't be everywhere at once, which is why I offer Dave's Top Five Tips on How NOT to f#@%-Up a Comic Book Movie in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Well crap! In preparation for my impending vacation holiday, I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my back. It hurts to walk. It hurts to type this. It hurts to breathe. I can't figure out what I did. Just all of a sudden, wham, welcome to the house of pain. About an hour later I met up with some friends to go see The Bourne Supremacy, and think I made things worse by sitting in a cramped theater seat for two hours instead of staying home and laying down flat.
Fortunately, the movie was pretty darn good. Fast paced, with an entertaining (if fairly straight-forward) plot and a serviceable performance by Matt Damon and Franka Potente (from Run Lola Run fame). I think I liked it even better than the first one. Kind of sweet that we get yet another excellent sequel (like Spider-Man 2!) since they are usually pretty lame the second time around. Here's hoping that the film is a success so we can see a big-screen treatment of The Bourne Ultimatum!
I like the Robert Ludlum novels I've read, but haven't yet taken a look at the Bourne books, so I'll have to give them a try. It will give me something to do instead of lying here in bed moaning in agony.
The trailer for Trey & Matt's new movie Team America: World Police is up (in Quicktime, thankfully). If it's even half as good as South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, I will be very, very happy. The hard part is having to wait until October to see it... I want to see it now. "Putting the "F" back in Freedom" indeed.
I just read that Kevin Smith, fresh off his Jersey Girl flop, has decided to return to where he began and make a sequel to Clerks which he is calling The Passion of the Clerks. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I am thrilled that Smith will be again delving into the familiar territory we know and love. On the other, I am terrified that he will pull a George Lucas and needlessly trash some of my favorite movie characters...
I suppose that I should give the guy the benefit of the doubt, because I loved the Clerks animated series. And if there's even a small chance that he will approach the greatness that is Chasing Amy, then perhaps it's worth the risk? But can we at least get rid of the cheesy "Passion" title? South Park already beat you to it, so it's just lame now.
It's just a little over a week until my Clerks: 10th Anniversary Edition DVD set gets here. That's something I have no mixed feelings about... I can't wait!
My jealousy is in overdrive right now because people at the Venice Film Festival got to see the latest Miyazaki animated masterpiece: Howl's Moving Castle (based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones). As if the fact that they are in freakin' Venice isn't cool enough, they also get to see what is sure to be one of the best films of the year...
I have blogged several times about my love for all things Miyazaki (he's entry #38 in my "One Hundred Things"), and feel that his stuff is equal to anything Pixar has ever done, and surpasses anything I've seen come out of Disney. Everything he touches is magic, which is why I was devastated when rumors were running around that he would be retiring after his previous piece of genius Spirited Away. Fortunately, his love of children put retirement on hold so he could get this movie made (possibly because it has a strong anti-war message?). Is it too much to hope that he will get a few more movies out before he really retires? I hear he is in poor health and couldn't make it to the festival, so I offer my best wishes for a quick recovery.
The film debuts in Japan on November 20th, so who knows when it will ever reach us here in the States. A preview in Quicktime is available (select "Media" - stunning!). And the official website is up as well (Japanese only).
If only I could afford another trip to Japan this year.
As if it weren't enough that Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle is coming... Ain't it Cool reports that Katsuhiro Otomo's first feature-length film since his masterpiece Akira is finally nearing completion: Steamboy! As you would expect, it looks absolutely amazing, and I have no idea how I am going to be able to wait for it to appear here in the States once I saw the brilliant images they have up at Monsters & Critics...
The film takes place in kind of an "alternate universe" version of Victorian London, which I'm sure will look stunning. It's supposed to be a much more "family-friendly" film than Akira, but fans of Otomo's ability to blow stuff up should not be disappointed. Here we see the Tower Bridge taking quite a hit...
Otomo packs so much into every frame of his films that it is imperative to see them on the big screen in a really good theater. Since there are only a handful of theaters in the States I consider to be "really good," I wonder where I will end up flying to in order to see it? Now if only Otomo would adapt his excellent manga "Domu: A Child's Dream" into anime.
Last night after a long day of work, we returned to the city and decided to walk around Insadong so I could buy a few souvenirs to take back with me. This famous shopping area of Seoul is kind of a divide between the old and new of the city, and packed with tourists and natives alike. As night began to fall, we wandered towards the "new side," which reminds me a lot of Tokyo when the bright lights and lively signage is ignited...
After shopping, we decided to go see a new movie from China called Shi mian mai fu (which translates to House of Flying Daggers). I've been dying to see Hero but that film had come and gone to Asia over a year ago (even though it is just now making it to the States) and House of Flying Daggers looked as though it might be similar in a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon kind of way... especially since they both star the astoundingly talented and beautiful Ziyi Zhang...
I didn't have much trouble following the story even though the film was in spoken Chinese with Korean subtitles. Unfortunately, I think I would have enjoyed myself more if I didn't understand the story! While the film is beautifully shot, has some kick-ass fight sequences, and features Ziyi Zhang being as captivating as ever... the tale itself was mostly laughable with boring stretches that send you into a coma.
The plot basically involves a young blind girl (Zhang) who works as a dancer, but is suspected by two policeman-friends to have secret ties to a team of revolutionaries known as the "House of Flying Daggers." Once she is captured, the police guys decide that they should rescue her, and a bizarre love story filled with inept surprises, mind-boggling plot twists, and over-the top drama ensues. At one point I had to resist the urge to stand up and scream "would you people just die already!" because there is only so much drama I can take in one sitting. Even so, I'll probably buy it on DVD so I can relive the scenery and fight sequences.
Oh well. All-in-all it was a pretty good way to spend my last night in Korea. After breakfast, I'm packing up and heading home.
Security: The big news in travel this week is the impending "update" to airport security, which allows TSA screeners to more thoroughly pat-down people with suspicious bulges in their clothing. To alleviate fears about possible misconduct, the TSA assures passengers that any pat-downs will be performed by screeners of the same sex. That's terrific, because having the "suspicious bulge" in my crotch patted down by another guy while the entire airport watches makes me feel so much safer about flying.
20/20: Lucky us! Barbara Walters has an exclusive interview with child-raping piece of shit Mary Kay LeTourneau this Friday on 20/20! I hope I can overcome my compulsion to watch. Can somebody remind me again why it is that she isn't still in jail?
Incredible: Yet another trailer for The Incredibles is out. I can't possibly express how badly I want to see this film, which looks like it just might be the best thing Pixar's done yet. Having Samuel L. Jackson as a super-hero doesn't hurt, but having Brad Bird (of Iron Giant fame) writing and directing is the movie's biggest asset.
Stonebridge: The number of blog visitors I am getting because of the ass-hats at Stonebridge Life Insurance continues to grow. It would seem these idiots are still harassing people with their never-ending telemarketing calls. Tired of the constant hang-ups, victims are entering the phone number from Caller-ID into Google and getting my blog entries bitching about it here and here. Pathetic. At what point is the FCC going to step in and bitch-slap Stonebridge Life for this abuse?
Miami: The ads for the season opener of CSI: Miami are saying that "one won't survive." Is it too much to hope that David Caruso's character is the one to die? I would actually watch the show if he weren't on it because I like Emily Proctor. Why not put her in charge?
Emmy: For the most part, I think the Emmys completely suck. Rarely does the person or series most deserving of the honor ever win... heck, most of the time they aren't even nominated. Where is Wonderfalls? Dead Like Me? Angel? And sure Scrubs was nominated for best writing (and lost) but it deserved so much more, because it is easily the funniest sitcom running right now. And don't even get me started about Sharon Stone winning over Betty White for best guest appearance. Still, a few nice things happened: Drea de Matteo, The Daily Show, and James Spader all deserved those wins.
Clerks is one of those films that I can watch over and over without ever tiring of seeing it. It's not the best made film, and it's certainly not well-acted, but it's so smartly written that it's easy to forgive just about any other offense. Kevin Smith just has this amazing insight into how people think, and is somehow able to translate that into characters that seem eerily more life-like than real life. The film is a day in the life of two clerks Dante and Randall, as they work their way through life, love, and annoying customers. Sure the premise may sound boring, but it somehow ends up being one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the film's release, Miramax has released the ultimate Clerks 3-DVD collector's set. It includes the theatrical release of the film with original commentary and trivia track, the Sundance Cut with all-new commentary, and a new documentary called The Snowball Effect that talks to just about everybody ever involved with the film. You also get a number of extra features, with two of them alone being worth the price of admission.
The first, Clerks: The Missing Scene fills in the gap as to what exactly happened at the funeral home when Dante and Randall went to Julie Dwyer's funeral. Rather than filming the scene, they decided to animate it in the glorious style of the Clerks: The Animated Series cartoons. I read the story in a comic book that Smith released years ago, but this was magic. This one scene more closely binds Clerks into the Mallrats and Chasing Amy trilogy and fills in some back-story for Dante that enhances the original film.
The second, Flying Car is a sweet short film that Kevin Smith created for an appearance on The Late Show. Until I saw this short, I was hesitant about Smith creating his sequel: Clerks 2: The Passion of the Clerks, but now I can't wait. Something about seeing this brilliant exchange of dialogue that only Dante and Randall can deliver has left me wanting more...
Of the "Jersey Trilogy," Chasing Amy is easily my favorite. But it's hard to ignore the movie that got everything started, and Clerks is a brilliant piece of filmmaking in its own right. If you've never experienced it before (and don't mind a little X-rated dialogue, drug references, and a lot of swearing), this new 10th Anniversary edition is probably the best way outside of a theater to see it. If the impending sequel is half as good, it will still be one of the best movies of 2005.
Lucas: Finally got around to watching the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set in-between my marathon work sessions, and am still amazed at how Lucas could have created such genius in the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, only to completely flush the franchise down the toilet with the inane Return of the Jedi and horrifyingly bad prequels. Diminishing Star Wars to a series of burp and fart jokes that's riddled with insipid characters like "Ewoks" and "Jar Jar Binks" so you can sell more toys to the kiddies is about as lame as lame gets. The changes he made to Episodes IV and V are upsetting, but whatever. I don't give a crap about the changes he made to any of the other films, because they all suck. Still, if you're a Star Wars geek, the set is well worth picking up (but then you probably knew that).
Empire: Is not The Empire Strikes Back one of the most perfect action-adventure flicks ever?
Kryptonite: Some idiot in Toronto is organizing a TWO HUNDRED MILLION FREAKIN' DOLLARS lawsuit against Kryptonite, the lock makers, because the cylindrical locks they manufacture are easily defeated by using a Bic pen. It's disturbing to know that America's sue-happy mentality is infecting other countries. I own a Kryptonite lock for my motorcycle. Am I upset that the lock can be so easily picked open? Yes. Am I pissed off that Kryptonite has known about this failing for a decade and chose to ignore it? Sure. But do I think the company should be sued for TWO HUNDRED MILLION FREAKIN' DOLLARS when they have volunteered to contact all registered customers and exchange the locks free of charge? No way! I mean, come on! If your bike was stolen because your Kryptonite lock was defeated, then YES... by all means sue the bastards! But if you've not been a victim of their incompetence, what right do you have to sue them? Just exchange your busted lock for a free new one and shut up. The millions of dollars Kryptonite is already going to have to pay to fix the situation is punishment enough for their stupidity. I mean, TWO HUNDRED MILLION FREAKIN' DOLLARS?!? f#@%ing lawyer ass-hats.
Panasonishit: Panasonic just called to sell me an extended warranty on the piece-of-crap DVD recorder I bought. I felt compelled to ask the saleslady why in the heck I would buy an extended warranty for the junk when it has never worked properly and Panasonic hasn't been able to fix it? Nothing I have ever bought from this company has worked right. Not my VCR. Not my Phone. Definitely not my DVD recorder. Panasonic gear is crap, and the fact that they don't support their customers when it fails makes Panasonic a shitty company that will NEVER get another penny of my money.
Mars: The new television season is pretty bad, but I happened across a show called Veronica Mars that took me by surprise. Then I saw it was created by Rob Thomas and understood why it was good... he's the brilliant mind behind the greatest TV show of all time: Cupid. Only the stupid bastards at ABC would cancel such brilliance. Yargh!
When it comes to comic books, I've always been more of a "DC guy" than a "Marvel guy." During the late 70' when I got into comics, all the cool books were at DC: Green Lantern, The Flash, Batman, Legion of Super-heroes and the rest. But there was one Marvel book that I read faithfully. One book that was so cosmic in scope that it dwarfed all others. One book that dared to go where others fear to tread. I am talking, of course, about the Fantastic Four.
With the huge successes of other Marvel properties like Spider-Man and X-Men, it was only a matter of time before "The World's Greatest Comics Magazine" was given the big-screen treatment. There was an earlier attempt at an FF movie, but it was reported to be so bad that they were embarrassed to release it. I can only hope that this time they get it right, and manage to come up with something as terrific as the Spidey flicks.
Recently, photos have been released of the characters they've developed for the movie. If you can get past the dorky poses, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, and The Human Torch don't look too bad. They've got kind of an Alex Ross look to them (although The Thing does look a bit puny in this shot, and Johnny doesn't have blonde hair)...
But here's where things get interesting. They've cast the sweet hotness that is Jessica Alba to play The Invisible Woman! Alba, who kicked serious ass in the first season of Dark Angel, is an interesting choice. I can only hope that this means the director is going to make the character be an actual participant in the fights instead of pretty window dressing on the sidelines, because nothing could be better than a hottie like Alba kicking butt. Especially when she looks like this doing it...
Oh yeah! Halle Berrie's suck-ass Catwoman, eat your heart out (and speaking of Catwoman, why in the heck can't DC make a decent movie from their books? Everything after Superman II has sucked).
Anyway, if the movie pans out, I wonder what it would take for the films to start having fun with the characters like they do in the comics. Have the FF make a guest shot in the next Spider-Man film. Make a few X-Men show up in the Fantastic Four sequel. Have the actors put aside their egos and million-dollar paychecks to just have a bit of fun and give the fans a treat. That's what comic books are all about, and the movies should be too.
I think today shall be declared Elizabeth Hurley Appreciation Day! Well, for me every day is Elizabeth Hurley Appreciation Day, but I'm not letting that stop me. After having gotten Kazza to post a photo of the delectable Ms. Hurley in her blog, I decided to do the same. To top off this day of delights, I think I shall have to watch Bedazzled for the fiftieth time (nothing is quite so very nice as watching Liz being very naughty!).
Again, much link love goes out to the Sexy Sexy Elizabeth Hurley Pictures site, from which I have swiped this photo. It is easily one of the best sites on the Internet, and I highly recommend that you go there and spend an hour or two admiring breathtaking photos like this one...
Lovely. Perhaps this will have to be a double-feature night and I'll watch Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery along with Bedazzled. It's not like one can ever get enough of Elizabeth Hurley.
Blogography: I awoke this morning to find a baker's dozen of emails from kind people asking me not to shut down my blog (apparently in reaction to my entry yesterday). Sorry to mislead you, but I'm not planning on it anytime soon. I was just wondering how much longer I would continue given that quite a few bloggers seem to be giving it up. Besides, when I started this blog (after two previous failures) I made a commitment to myself that I would stick around for 1000 entries, and this is only #605.
Commentary: It's a mystery to me that I receive far more emails than visitor comments for my blog. From yesterday I got 2 comments but 13 emails? Thinking that perhaps people are afraid to leave comments because an email address is required, I've made some changes... 1) No personal information is required to comment anymore, and 2) If you do leave an email address for personal correspondence, it will never be displayed. I have no idea if it will make any difference, but you can now leave completely anonymous comments if you like (by leaving the name, email, and link fields blank).
Listen: Since I had to rebuild all 604 pages to remove the commenting requirements, I made a few other changes as well. First of all, I've added a link to my FAQ and other info about me to the menu there on the left. Second, the "Dave Gallery" now links to my Flickr album. Third, I've added a "Listening" item to the menu which shows what embarrassing 80's pop music I'm listening to at the moment (currently, that would be Until She Comes, a beautiful song by the Psychedelic Furs).
Angelina: I just saw a trailer for the new Angelina Jolie movie coming out called Mr. & Mrs. Smith (which also stars Brad Pitt, if you care). Sweet! They play a typical suburban married couple, but are unaware of each other's true professions... they are actually highly-paid assassins working for competing organizations. When the secret is revealed, they end up trying to assassinate each other! Looks wicked-funny and action-packed but, sadly, doesn't come out until June 10, 2005 Something about Angelina Jolie as an assassin appeals to me. Maybe it's the outfits?
Jessica: I also see that a trailer for Blade: Trinity is out, which I am looking forward to. In addition to more Wesley Snipes ass-kicking action, we also get Jessica Biel for eye candy and Ryan Renolds for comdey relief (cool, it's Berg!). They got Goyer to write again, but this time he is also directing, which worries me a bit because he's a rookie and Guillermo del Toro did such a brilliant job last time.
Season: I have a feeling that my motorcycle is going to be put into storage for the winter very soon now. I haven't had a lot of opportunity to ride it much for the past month, so I'm kind of sad about that. Oh well, just another reason to look forward to Spring, I guess.
Girls know him as that whiny bitch from Somewhere in Time. Guys know him as the world's greatest hero: Superman (my favorite comic book movie adaptation of all time). I can only hope that Christoper Reeve's passing (as Marlon Brando's before it) will lighten some hearts and finally halt the legal battles that are preventing Richard Donner's original cut of Superman II from being released. What a wonderful tribute it would be if Reeve's intended performance could finally be seen as it was meant to be.
Christopher Reeve made us all believe a man could fly. Now it's his turn.
Rest in peace.
I feel I must preface this entry by declaring my love of all things Kevin Smith. Clerks and Chasing Amy are utter brilliance in film-making, and I even like his cartoons, comic books, and many other endeavors. Very few people can write dialogue as good as Smith (Quentin Tarantino and a handful of others perhaps), and his sense of comic timing is flawless. So when I say that his latest film, Jersey Girl is kind of lame, well, it's nothing personal.
Ben Affleck plays a publicist named Ollie Trinke who loses his wife (J-Lo, go figure) during childbirth, and ends up having to raise his new baby girl, Gertie, all alone. After a PR incident gone terribly wrong at the Hard Rock Cafe, Ollie is fired from his job and has to move back to New Jersey so he can live with his father (Geroge Carlin) while he tries to find new work. From the moment he meets a new potential love interest (Liv Tyler), the movie forges ahead in a completely predictable manner right up to the cheesy ending you can see a mile away.
Affleck is passable as Trinke (but falls short of his work in Chasing Amy and Bounce) and newcomer Raquel Castro stands out with a terrific performance as young Gertie. The rest of the cast seems to do the best they can in background roles that are pretty one-dimensional... but the problem is never with the acting, it's the writing.
You can definitely see Kevin Smith touches from time to time, but it seems watered down from what I've come to expect. What's really bad though is his tendency to go for stupid jokes to fill in space that greatly distract from the overall story. The aforementioned incident at the Hard Rock Cafe starts out when Ollie's father refuses to watch baby Gertie and so Ollie has to take her to the event (apparently, he's never heard of a babysitter). Then it's time for the same jokes we've seen a million times: Baby poop smells bad. New dad doesn't know how to change a diaper. Baby powder goes flying (after dumping half a bottle on the kid... har dee har har). It's not funny, it's stupid and tired and Kevin Smith is so much better than this.
So, if you want to see a light comedy flick, you could certainly do worse than Jersey Girl (which is to say that you could do much, much better as well). About the only thing highly recommended on the DVD is a selection of Kevin Smith's Roadside Attractions from The Tonight Show so, even if you hate the film, a rental won't be a total loss.
Maher: It would seem that Bill Maher's ex girlfriend is suing him for 9 million dollars. She is claiming that he had her quit her successful career as a Delta Airlines flight attendant with false promises of marriage and buying her a home in Beverly Hills. REMINDER TO SELF: When flying to Salt Lake City this Sunday on Delta, be sure to ask the flight attendant where I can pick up a job application. I loathe the idea of dealing with bitchy passengers all day long, but would gladly do so for the millions of dollars they apparently make.
Lost: I just realized that I forgot to watch the amazing new J.J. Abrams show, Lost, last night! Thank heaven for TiVo!
Jeunet: One of the most brilliant directors in cinema, Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet (who crafted the utterly amazing film Amelie) has a new movie coming out with strong "Best Picture" Oscar buzz called A Very Long Engagement. I cannot wait to see this film, and have watched the trailer at least a dozen times now (drooling over the delicious Audrey Tautou and the breathtaking visuals again and again). Today I learned that this new movie which is set in France, filmed in France, and uses a cast of French actors and technicians, is now being challenged in French court as to whether is a French film and thus eligible for government subsidies. It's nice to know that the USA is not the only country suffering from a serious lapse in logic lately.
Koolerz: Last night I picked me up some "Koolerz Piña Colada flavored Gum" to take to work with me. Today I was dismayed to find out that the gum tastes *fabulous* for 48 seconds (I timed it!), but then all the flavor is gone and you're just chewing a substance that tastes like motor oil on plastic. I was wracking my brain to try and think of another product you can buy that satisfies for such an astoundingly short time period of time... and then remembered my worthless Panasonic Recordable DVD Player, which satisfied me for only 42 seconds. Fortunately, the gum only cost $1.29.
Thanks: For all who served. Thank you.
It's cold here in Salt Lake City. So cold, that after seeing The Incredibles at The Gateway, I had to go buy a pair of gloves so I could manage to walk back to the hotel without having my fingers freeze off.
As for that movie... it was, well, incredible. Given that this film was a collaboration between the brilliance of Pixar animation (easily surpassing Disney as the leading US animated feature house in every way possible) and Brad Bird (whose miraculous Iron Giant film is an all-time favorite of mine), I expected nothing less...
I dare say that it surpasses even Superman and Spider-Man 2 as best super-hero movie of all time (not to mention burying suck-ass snore-fests like X-Men).
It's that good.
Surprisingly, The Incredibles earns it's PG rating by being a pretty intense flick with death and destruction that you don't normally see in "kiddie pics" like this. Don't get me wrong... kids will love the film, especially once the action builds up during the second half, but adults are the ones who will really get a kick out of the more subtle elements strewn throughout the story.
The premise of the movie is pretty slick: continuous lawsuits have forced super-heroes to retire and go into hiding. Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) ended up marrying Elasti-Girl (Holly Hunter) and having super-offsprings who hide their powers from society to live as normal people. But Mr. Incredible is not content to be a paper-pushing insurance claims adjustor, and secretly yearns to be a hero again, commiserating with his super-powered buddy Frozone (a scene-stealing Samuel L. Jackson). Eventually, a mysterious offer for super-heroics (on a secret island worthy of a James Bond villain) proves too tempting to resist, and Mr. Incredible quickly ends up over his head. It's up to the rest of the family to come to the rescue, with breathtaking action sequences and humor that's almost too good to be true - much like this promotional poster by comic book legend Mike (Hellboy) Mignola...
Because this is a Pixar production, the visuals are predictably stunning. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. From beginning to end, there's so much going on that it will take several viewings to truly appreciate the effort that went into making this film so "incredible." Just watching the inventive ways that the characters use their super-powers will have comic book fans geeking out all over the theater. How in the heck the upcoming Fantastic Four film can possibly top this is unknown, as the bar has been set mind-bogglingly high.
Do yourself a favor and be sure to see The Incredibles in a theater rather than waiting for the DVD... it's everything that people love about the movies, and begs to be seen on the big screen to be truly appreciated.
Is it wrong to be looking forward to a movie even though you don't think it has much of a chance of being any good?
Sigh. Let's face it, I'd watch a film of Jennifer Garner filling out her tax return.
Seriously... how do we go about repealing the antiquated and horrendously stupid electoral voting system here? I don't care which side of the political spectrum you might lay, how can anybody not support the idea of every vote counting? Does anyone (except those comprising the Electoral College) seriously want it this way? Why hasn't a repeal of the 12th Amendment ever been offered to the people? How do we get it put to a vote? Anybody?
Seriously... can't Dave Winer just leave us alone? First he decides to define moblogging for us... badly, and now he's decided to tell us that unless we're reading syndication feeds his way, then we're doing it all wrong. I have no problem with Winer publishing his opinion, but he never seems content to do just that. Instead it's always "Winer's right, everybody else is wrong." End of story. Why can't he just be happy that people are using syndication and suggest a way that works best for him, rather than attacking people who have found a different way of doing things? Shades of gray Dave... shades of gray.
Seriously... why is it that movie comedies can't be complex and intelligent anymore? Have people's attention spans truly diminished to such a low that dumb-ass burp and fart jokes are all we're going to get now? It certainly seems that way. I just purchased the long-awaited DVD release of Foul Play and am amazed that a film starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase could be so brilliant while also being so funny at the same time. What's truly amazing is that there are no wasted moments in this film. Even seemingly meaningless scenes are subtext that builds the story. Things going on in the background are essential to solving the mystery they've got going. Unlike the typical Adam Sandler crapfest, you actually have to pay attention... but it's so well-written that you don't care, you want to pay attention (which is cruel, because there are some seat-jumping moments you never see coming). And it was made in 1978. We've certainly dumbed down in the past 26 years. A "comedy" as smart as Foul Play would never be green-lighted today.
Seriously... who is the moron that put David Caruso at the head of C.S.I. Miami? I love the original C.S.I. and am won over by the grittier take on the concept with C.S.I. New York. But I cannot bring myself to get through a single episode of Miami because Caruso is so laughably bad doing his overly-dramatic, arrogant, Gil Grissom impersonation. If Caruso can't be bothered to actually act out something original, can we put Emily Procter's character in charge?
Seriously... why do I feel compelled to participate in really time-consuming and difficult memes? This time I have Dennis to blame. To read through my "Nine Layers," just click the link below...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
With nothing on my agenda after I got caught up with some work, I headed off to the Mayfair Mall for a showing of National Treasure starring Nicholas Cage. What I expected was a modern-day Indiana Jones type film, but what I got was something entirely different. It's almost as if the success of The DaVinci Code got Jerry Bruckheimer hot to do a conspiracy-genre film that ended up being a sloppy hodgepodge of American mythological elements poorly pasted into a predictable action-driven story.
Not to say that it sucked ass, but it sure could have been better.
Nicholas Cage is Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest of a long line of Gates fortune hunters who are convinced there is a vast treasure hidden away by this country's founding fathers with the help of Free Masonry and the Templar Knights. Much to the dismay of his father (Jon Voit in a throwaway role), Gates tracks a critical piece of the treasure puzzle to Antarctica (an idea stolen from a Dirk Pitt book). Unfortunately, his need for financing leads to a partnership with Ian Howe (Sean Bean) who, predictably, turns out to be a bad guy. From that moment on, the race is on between Cage and Bean to find the treasure first... one to guard it for all humanity, and one to exploit it for personal gain.
I was sure that the "treasure" was going to be some lame-ass attempt at "idealism" ... perhaps a piece of paper with the words "America's true treasure is her freedom" or some such bullshit. Thankfully, they didn't take that route, but it doesn't matter. The lameness comes from the half-assed attempt to fit American-heritage-themed clues into a paint-by-the-numbers action flick. Strip away the nonsense with the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, etc. and there's nothing left but crap... tame chase scenes that culminate in an pathetic ending for the bad guys, and a predictably sappy ending for the "heroes."
Oh well. They did toss in a little eye candy (played by Diane Kruger), capable comic relief (played by Justin Bartha), and Harvey Keitel, which brings National Treasure up to a "5" (on a scale of 1 to 10). Not really good, not really bad, just predictably average. I hope that the actual adaptation of The DaVinci Code (starring Tom Hanks) fares better. At least it has a pretty good story to build on.
Nomaaahh!: Let me get this straight, Nomar just signed a 1-year contract with the Cubs for $8 million, after passing on a $60 million 4-year contract with the Red Sox WORLD CHAMPIONS? Even if the Cubbies pick him up for four years, he's still losing $7 million a year. I cried for a week when Nomar left Boston, now I think I'll laugh for a week at his fine business sense (then cry the week after that because he's still making millions of dollars for playing a game).
Joystick: Continuing my video game blathering from yesterday... not only are the games dumbfoundingly complex, but the controllers are ass. Two thumb-pads, four shoulder buttons, four action buttons, and two function buttons seems to be standard now. This leaves me concentrating more on what button I should be pushing than actually playing the game. On top of that, I don't want some tiny pad for directional movement... I want an actual joystick! I thought it would be simple to go buy one, but I thought wrong. The closest thing I can find to what I am wanting is an X-Arcade Stick, but that's as big as a house and costs $100!! Harsh!
Cars: Looks like Pixar's follow-up to The Incredibles (titled Cars) has just been pushed back seven months. They say it's so that they can better time their movies (release a feature in Summer, then crank out the DVD version for the holidays), which makes sense from a business standpoint. But many people are speculating that the bigger reason is to give Pixar CEO Steve Jobs more time to decide about renewing a distribution deal with Disney after he finds out who is replacing Michael Eisner (the guy who's been running Disney into the ground for the past decade). A third option, which is my personal guess, is that the movie sucks...
First of all, it's a freaky concept... a world where the only life-form is cars?? Second of all, it is a complete rip off of the Chevron Cars (a much better rendition of the concept, beautifully animated in clay by Aardman Animation, who is responsible for the brilliant Wallace and Gromit films). And lastly, one of the feature characters is a broken-down hick tow truck? How very cliche of you Pixar. Still, it is being directed by demi-god John Lasseter (who has Toy Story 1 & 2 and A Bug's Life under his belt), so I can only hope I am very, very wrong. I dunno, judge for yourself by watching the Cars trailer and then taking a look at Aardman's Chevron commercial...
You can then spend the next two hours of your life exploring the rest of the Aardman web site, which showcases numerous examples if their beautiful work in claymation. Dang. Now I want to go watch Wallace and Gromit!
Stockholm: Since Veronica Mars is now in reruns, I was flipping through channels and saw that The Amazing Race 6 was in Stockholm! Furthermore, contestants were hanging out at The Sheraton Stockholm, which is the same hotel I was at. Anyway, while I like the idea of racing around the world, I cannot bring myself to watch the show... it's just too painful to have to watch rude Americans be assholes to natives and complain all the time. As I was turning the channel, contestants were in Africa complaining about everything from how "gross" the taxis are to how stupid they think people are because they can't speak English ("DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? I NEED SOMEONE SPEAKING ENGLISH!!!"). Holy crap. Thanks for being such a stellar example, dumbass.
Letterbox: Last night I had to stop by Wal-Mart and noticed that they had The Bourne Supremacy on sale for a staggering $15 (which is cheaper than even DeepDiscountDVD!). Since we are entering rerun season on television, I thought I would grab a copy because I remember it being a pretty good flick. But when I got home and started it up, I noticed it was the STUPID FULL-FRAME VERSION! CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! Why in the heck do they even sell butchered films? When are people going to realize that anytime they buy a film that has "been reformatted to fit their television" that they are missing half the movie? Sure the letterbox format's black bars at the top and bottom of your TV screen are annoying, but it's a small price to pay for getting to see the ENTIRE MOVIE AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE VIEWED!! Argh.
Sorry to rant, but HOLY SHIT... it's bad enough that Chewbacca didn't get a medal at the end of Star Wars, but if you are watching the lame "Full-Screen" version, he doesn't even get to appear on the screen! The Digital Bits has a good argument for widescreen (letterbox) formatted movies, and excellent examples which you can see by clicking here.
Well crap! Showtime has cancelled Dead Like Me, which is easily one of the more inventive shows on television. I guess that means I can dump the channel, since the only reason I bought it in the first place was to watch this one show. It really pisses me off that they don't at least allow the creators of the show to wrap up all the loose ends, and Dead Like Me had more than most. It must really suck to be Bryan Fuller. This is the second utterly brilliant show of his to be cancelled (the other being the amazing Wonderfalls). I wonder if he'll just give up trying to create intelligent, thought-provoking shows and start creating crappy reality shows like everybody else.
In movie news, there's finally a trailer up for the adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City... and does it ever look delicious! It would seem that they went for a literal adaptation of the comic's visual style, and I'm quite happy about that. Almost as happy as I am about the sweet hoteness that Miller & Rodriguez have lined up for the female cast (including a disturbingly sexy Alexis Bledel... Rory from Gilmore Girls is hot?!? Who knew?). Yowza! Sin City indeed...
Oh yeah, they've got some other guys in it you might have heard of before... Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Michael Madsen, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, and Elijah Wood. My gut tells me the film will be fabulous, but I can't help but be pessimistic about the film's chance at commercial success.
It really is too bad that the American population at large is so stupid when it comes to entertainment. It really would be nice to have decent shows on television and movies in our theaters.
I don't know about you, but I definitely plan on tuning in to the MTV Movie Awards tonight...
From the press photos for the event, it looks to be a bit more... uhhhh... exciting than The Oscars, I think.