Thursday, February 28, 2008
It came out nearly 25 years ago, and yet “Vacation” still stands as my favorite vacation movie. It features Chevy Chase when he was still funny. The simple plot shows the Griswold family embarking on a summer trip to Walleyworld.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it but I still remember:
Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie. He’s the original redneck. Clark tries to be hospitable in spite of the fact that Randy’s kids make out with each other.
Aunt Edna tied to the top of the station wagon.
Clark falling asleep and driving through most of Kansas.
Clark attempting to dance seductively for Christie Brinkley.
The vacation destination, Walleyworld is closed so the Clarks need to find a way in, even if it means tussling with John Candy.
“Vacation” didn’t take itself seriously, which is precisely why it was good. “Caddy Shack” is another that went for jokes over any kind of message. I miss those kind of movies.
Posted by brian at 3:56 AM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
It occurred to me yesterday that Zodiac got blanked at this years Oscars and damn if that didn't make me angry. Of course by including it, the overall awards race is pretty grim, filled with Sweeney Todd's and Anton Chigurhs and the Zodiac killer, but that's not how we should look at it, right? We should look at it as what were the best pictures of the year. And I would argue that Zodiac would be/should be among them. So give me your Top 5 reasons Zodiac should have been included in this years Oscar race.
Here are mine.
1. David Fincher shows us his most mature direction yet.
2. Robert Downey's journey from flamboyant reporter to washed-up alcoholic is brilliant.
3. The writing of Jame's Vanderbilt and Robert Graysmith shows us that great storytelling does still exist.
4. The supporting cast of Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox and John Carroll Lynch rivals the cast of No Country For Old Men.
5. Jason Reitman as best director nominee.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Last year due mostly to the fact that my wife was out of town and you know, I'm a guy so I'm worthless planning anything without my wife, I decided to make the Oscar party pot luck. Everyone brings a plate themed after an Oscar nominated movie or actor, or editor, or whatever. A brilliant idea born out of laziness.
So here's what we had last night. Some pretty good themes. Please hold your applause until the end of the show. Thank you.
I provided a frosty case of No Country for Old Milwaukee Beer.
My wife made some Bruschetta which had no theme so I named it There Will Be Bruschetta. Actually, if you wanted to, you could have had an entire party themed around There Will Be Blood. There Will Be Tortilla Chips. There Will Be Chardonnay. There Will Be Frosted Cupcakes. There Will Be The TV Over There. In addition to the Bruschetta, we also had shrimp which I named Clooney Cocktail Shrimp.
My friend Celeste also known as Average Jane brought I Drink Your Milkshake Cake from There Will Be Blood which was incredible. It had about every dairy product one could muster into a cake. It tasted like custard with frosting.
Jeremy of The Martini Shaker brought little weiners wrapped in bacon and called them Sweeney Todd Bloody Fingers.
Some other highlights.
There Will Be Blood Sausage regular hot dogs injected with mustard dyed red. They were wrapped in blankets. They squirted when you bit into them and the red dye was a little nasty because it looked like really bad fake blood, but if you just closed your eyes, who doesn't love a good pig in a blanket.
Ratatouille which was very good.
Tang in case anyone thought they were pregnant and needed to pee on a stick.
Remy's Cheese Plate and Crackers for Ratatouille.
Atinmint a plate of assorted after dinner mints.
And here's the orchestra swelling so I better hurry up. All in all a good party and a good Oscar Night. Tilda was a nice surprise. Glad Juno didn't win any more than Original Screenplay. Had my fingers crossed that that P.T. Anderson might win Best Director, but was perfectly happy with the Coens. Alright, I'm getting off. I thought Jon Stewart was good and only awkward a few times. Okay, okay I'm leaving. One last thing... right after I'm done with Julie Christie, I'll have Dame Mirren as well.
Posted by PIPER at 8:56 AM
Friday, February 22, 2008
Charlize Theron and Brad Pitt take the stage. They are there to announce the Oscar for a category. Could be Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Picture, whatever. They open the envelope and instead of saying "And The Oscar Goes To..." they say "the runner up in this category is (INSERT POSSIBLE RUNNER UP HERE)... there was no Oscar awarded in this category. Can you imagine the gasps? Would there be silence or would there be outrage? I don't know, but I bet the category would be better next year.
Or what if no one got nominated for a category? What if on the morning of the nominations they announced that no one was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor Category? See, I work in advertising and it's not uncommon for whole categories to go without an award. One year, not one single TV spot received an award. Sure there were drunk advertising professionals crying fowl and yes, even I was pissed. But damn if I didn't work harder the next year to make the work better.
The truth is, as I've been writing some pieces about Oscar I've had a chance to look back at past winners and nominees and sometimes the pickings have been pretty slim. And when Ruby Dee is up for an Oscar for only three and a half minutes of performance and she might just win? Makes you wonder how much better the work might be if there was one less naked golden guy adorning a mantle somewhere.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The same can be said of Juno. Take away the fact that it has made many top 10 lists and has received several Oscar nominations and you might find a fun little movie. But add all that back in and you have a movie that does not measure up to all the weight that Oscar carries. Or should carry. I received an e-mail from a friend asking me if I liked Juno. My reply was, I thought that it was enjoyable but not Oscar worthy. Before the Oscar buzz of Little Miss Sunshine, I found it to be funny and heartfelt. But then there was the nomination and talk of it being Best Picture spoiler and I couldn't look at it the same way again. And then there's Crash. When I saw it on DVD, I was somewhat surprised by it. I found it to be worth the three and a half dollars I spent renting it. But certainly not best picture. Of course I'm just scratching the surface here. There are a lot more examples of this.
I feel that in this sea of movie mediocrity, anything that's half decent is suddenly held on high for the sole fact that it doesn't suck. Of course I'm not saying that a great film can't be entertaining. Entertainment is why we go to see movies. Entertainment is the price of entry. But is entertainment enough? If a movie is to carry the weight of Oscar, we should expect more.
Posted by PIPER at 10:49 PM
There's some fun stuff going on around here that I think you all should know about.
Lucas McNelly of 100 Films has his short gravida on MySpace TV as part of the Now Film Festival. Check it out and vote for it.
Welcome To L.A. has been hosting a Burt-A-Thon for some time that you need to check out.
Silly Hats Only is hosting the Muriel Awards and it's the Guinea Piggiest.
Bemis at Cinevistaramascope has written a wonderful piece on true romance in Cinema.
And Nathanial and clan are counting down the most anticipated movies of 2008.
And more Oscar bizness to come from me soon.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Every year The Oscars honor the best of the best of the best. Or so they say. Awards are well... there are politics, and there's campaigning, and awards are subjective, etc. In short, there are some more deserving than others. This month, I'm going to honor the best of the best Oscars with my Top 5 Tuesdays. And today, I'm asking for your Top 5 Best Best Pictures. The most deserving of the coveted award. Here are mine.
1. It Happened One Night
2. The Godfather
3. The Godfather Part II
4. Kramer vs. Kramer
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Good actors, bad choices.
Sometimes even a great actor can’t rise above the material. So I thought I’d take a shot at great actors who have taken lame parts. Here are my Top Five.
Jodi Foster. Nell. One unwatchable performance almost erased everything she had done before. (And she’s a two-time Oscar winner.) She was also rotten as the prostitute in Woody Allen’s Shadow and Fog.
Robert DeNiro. Officer Trey Sellers in Showtime. This was so bad it was actually nominated for a Razzie award (worst actor).
Hilary Swank. Madeline Linscott in the Black Dahila. Swank is a lot of things. But sexy she’s not. And of course, what a risk to put herself in DePalma’s hands at this point in his career.
Jack Nicholson. Edward Cole in The Bucket List. It’s sad to see an actor of Nicholson’s stature winding down his career with a role that’s been done many times before.
Meryl Streep. Gail Hartman in The River Wild. Streep is so good I can buy her in almost anything – except white-water rafting with David Strathairn.
Posted by brian at 1:32 PM
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The Oscars are approaching. So what else can we analyze before they are finally here? I got it. Let’s take a look at the best Best Picture nominees and the worst Best Picture nominees by year.
1976: Rocky, All the President’s Men, Network and Taxi Driver were all nominated. So was Bound for Glory, which may be great but I don’t know it.
1975: The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, The Conversation and Lenny were all nominated that year. So was Towering Inferno. Oops.
1997: Titanic, As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, LA Confidential.
1995: Braveheart, Apollo 13, Babe, The Postman, Sense and Sensibility.
The last couple of years we’ve had a pretty good crop of nominees; but will we ever see a year at the level of 1975 or 1976. I doubt it.
Posted by brian at 7:45 AM
Friday, February 15, 2008
I was separated at birth from Sean Nelson, an editor at MSN. I had no idea until today. When I read Sean's article Worst. Oscars. Ever. I knew the two of us must be cut from the same cloth because our opinions are almost identical.
Here's where Sean netted out for what he calls his Top 10 Worst Oscars Ever.
10. Best Original Screenplay for Ghost. "I don't really have anything to add to this. It's self-explanatory, more or less. "Ghost." Best. Original. Screenplay. It's just funny to think that anyone -- even people who work in the movie biz -- saw those words together on one line and thought, "YES!" And then made a check in the box, looked the ballot over and mailed it. It's funny, right? Kind of funny. Not funny ha-ha, of course. Funny sad."
9. Best Supporting Actress Tie with Marissa Tomei My Cousin Vinney and Mira Sorvino Mighty Aphrodite. "As it turns out, these actresses are fantastic and do better and better work as they get older. But these awards were examples of academy tokenism at its most flagrant."
8. Ron Howard Best Director for A Beautiful Mind. "What can one say about Ron Howard? Has he ever made a genuinely good movie? I liked Parenthood, but it was basically a sitcom pilot. I liked Splash but it was basically a kids' movie. I liked ... uh ... no, that's it. I don't like anything else he's done, and that's because he's not so much a director as an assembler of movies."
7. Halle Berry Best Actress for Monster's Ball. "I'm all for physical beauty, and I'm all for unlikely winners, but there comes a time when you just have to be honest. Not only is Berry not much of an actress under normal circumstances -- I mean, she's fine, but really, she's there for her beauty, not her range -- but in this particular movie (which is subawful, by the way), she is atrocious. Bad at the Southern accent, bad at the slow-eyed grief, bad at the layers that attend being the mother of a problem child -- basically, bad at the whole package."
6. Best Actor Tie for Dustin Hoffman Rain Man and Tom Hanks Forrest Gump. "I love Hoffman and I love Hanks. When either one is at his best, he's among the most powerful, versatile, compulsively watchable actors of all time. But let's get serious about why they were rewarded for these towering monuments of cinematic embarrassment. Funny -- cartoonishly funny -- voices for characters with mental difficulties (one an autistic savant, the other a kind of all-purpose dumb-ass), sustained for a whole movie until the sheer ridiculousness of the insulting vocalizations somehow became an asset to the -- let's face it -- miserably bad films they anchored."
5. Best Picture Tie for Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Shakespeare In Love, American Beauty, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago. "It's kind of impossible to choose which one of these abominable-to-innocuous films actually deserves the honor of being called the most absurd Best Picture winner of all time."
4. Best Picture and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby. "Seeing the great Clint Eastwood win Best Director and Best Picture awards for Unforgiven in 1993 was one of the few unqualified thrills of Oscar memory. First, a perfect film made by the only director who could fully realize it, and second, the narrative: An artist underestimated as a lightweight former TV and action movie actor finally arrives to the glory and recognition he had long deserved. Perfect. Well done, academy. Now flash forward to 2005... Lo and behold, an even worse Eastwood production, a film that begins with the gripping story of a female boxer and her grizzled trainer, then devolves into a moribund morality play about the right to die, walks home with the statues."
3. Best Picture Crash. "Another raging example of Hollywood's intense desire to reward itself for "saying something." Only this time, they forgot to notice that the winning picture actually said nothing about race and class in America that you couldn't learn from reading a bumper sticker or wearing a ribbon on the lapel of your tux."
2. Best Picture and Best Director for Dances With Wolves. "This was probably the first Oscar moment that ever made me actually shout at the TV, as though someone inside could hear. The idea that Kevin Costner's bloated, dew-moistened white-man's-burden epic could defeat Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, a masterpiece on so many levels that you lose count, is all the evidence anyone should need that the academy has skewed priorities. When was the last time anyone said, "Oh, man, let's watch Dances With Wolves again! I love the part where it goes on for five hours and everyone learns a bunch of important lessons"? Meanwhile, I watched Goodfellas yesterday. Pow!
1. Best Picture, Best Director and Just About Everything Else for Titanic. "I mean, come on. I know you were in junior high and your first ever boyfriend took you to see it and you guys both reached for the popcorn at the same time and your buttery hands clasped as DiCaprio and Winslet gazed moistly at each other while Celine Dion yawped out the worst song of all time (also a winner that year, by the way). I mean, COME ON! We're adults now. You can admit this film is worthless garbage."
It's too bad you can't see me right now, because there are tears in my eyes. This is beauty at its most beautiful. Everything Sean Nelson has written is so true and it's so opinionated and it's so not understated. Sean, you and I are brothers of the movie kind and if I ever see you, I'm going to hug you because brothers don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug!
Thanks to Brian for the link.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
So here goes. I love Cynthia Rothrock the undisputed Queen of Martial Arts. Let me climb to the rooftops and shout it from the chimney tops. I love Cynthia Rothrock! Hey what are you looking at freak? It's okay that I love her. Don't look at me that way, this is love week and I'm crazy in love. Don't judge me, just go with it. No seriously, stop yelling at me you're hurting my feelings. Don't make me come down from this chimney top and kick your ass.
Why do I love her so? Let's start with the name. Let me break it down for you into two parts. Cynthia. I am going to call her Cyn. Hey Cyn, what's for dinner? Hey Cyn, did you know that your thigh is as big as mine, only yours is a bunch of muscle and well... I'm a whole lotta lovin. And when I'm feeling naughty I would call her Sin, but she would still think I'm calling her Cyn but I would know I'm not and that would be my own little dirty joke to myself and I would laugh but not so loud that she would ask me what I'm laughing about. Then there's her last name. Rothrock. That last name just suggests flesh being torn from the body. I'm going to Rothrock you! With a name like that, you just need to kick ass. If I was her Dad and she weighed a buck o five, I would have still told her she needed to go out and kick ass with a last name like that. She might say, "but Dad, I'm a buck o five and I want to be delicate and play the harpsichord" and I would say "but Cyn, your last name is Rothrock now go out and kick some ass."
Then there's the fact that she really does kick ass. I mean really kick ass. She's the female Bruce Lee. She holds five black belts in Korean and Chinese Martial Arts and is the five-time undefeated World Karate Champion in forms and weapons. So if I was at a bar and a guy ran into me I would say, don't mess with me man and then if he stepped to, I would step back and let Cyn put two Chinese Nine-Section Steel Whip-Chains upside his head. Then when she was all glisteny and breathing hard, I would hug her and maybe give her a noogie and would say "you kick ass."
Then there's the look. Sure she's muscular and normally I don't go that way, but she's kinda cute in a Samantha Fox 80's kind of way and she's kinda got a cute bubble butt that you just know you could bounce a quarter off of or chip a tooth on.
So that's it. I'm in love with Cynthia Rothrock damnit and I ain't ashamed to say so. At least not today. So what about you out there? What kind of kooky love do you harbor deep down. Let it loose. Break the chains that bind you and fear no judgment from this guy. Only open arms.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
1. Frank Capra for It Happened One Night
2. John Huston for Treasure of the Sierra Madre
3. Mike Nichols for The Graduate
4. Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part II
5. Stephen Soderbergh for Traffic
Monday, February 11, 2008
Three and a half minutes.
That's the length of a song.
Three and a half minutes.
That's the length of a commercial break.
Three and a half minutes.
That's one minute and three seconds short of John Cage's Musical titled 4' 33"
Three and a half minutes.
That's how long Ruby Dee was on the screen in American Gangster.
Brian wrote a post a few weeks back titled Better Late Than Never where he listed actors that received Oscars for the wrong roles. And that's exactly what we have here. Ruby Dee is absolutely deserving of praise for her career thus far, but unless the Academy knows for a fact that she's going to kick in the next few months, let's not throw her a going away party just yet.
Here's hoping The Academy does the right thing.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
It's true, I should admire these two for their acting. For their strength and determination. I should admire them for being good role-models for the myriads of female actors that will come after them. But mostly I love them because they look really good in their birthday suits.
For more deeply superficial thoughts, check out The Deeply Superficial Blog-a-Thon going on over at South Dakota Dark.
Hmmmmm, let's see.
Support the writer's strike. Check.
Love Maggie Gyllenhaal. Check.
Find lesbian sex interesting. Check.
You can find more of these excellent shorts at Speechless a site dedicated to the writer's strike.
Thanks to Brian for sending this to me.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
2. Ellen Burstyn as Alice Hyatt in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
3. Meryl Streep as Sophie Zowistowska in Sophie's Choice
4. Shirley MacClaine as Aurora Greenway in Terms Of Endearment
5. Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson in Fargo
1. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mocking Bird
2. Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer in Kramer vs. Kramer
3. Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
4. Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson in The Color Of Money
5. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote
And for the definitive best actor list, check out Edward Copeland On Film's Best Actor Survey Index.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Here's what I do know. I saw the movie Hot Rod the other night and thought it to be pretty damn funny. Yeah, it's really stupid at times and it tends to take a joke too far, but it has a lot going for it as well. This movie was to have starred Will Ferrel and it feels like it. And honestly, I'm glad he took a pass on this one because I think it would have been a different film. I think Ferrel would have taken it down the arrogant idiot route that he is so familiar with. With Adam Samberg in the lead, you have a lovable loser instead. And there's just something about Adam that I like. His whiny puss is without peer.
How can you not love a movie in which the plot is about a kid risking his life to raise enough money to give his step-father an organ transplant only so he can kick his ass. It felt like a movie that wasn't trying too hard to make you like it. Honestly it reminded me of the old Adam Sandler movies Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. Those were strange and funny and didn't try to tell jokes everyone would get or even like.
I'm not saying that Hot Rod is a breakthrough in comedy, but to me comedy is about taking risks and putting stuff out there knowing full well that a lot of people will hate it. And for those few that get it, it's great stuff.
And I'm sure you're wondering what My Comedy Penis thought of the movie. Well, if you must ask, it liked it.
Okay so enough of the jibber jabber. Let's take the rest of this post and put out all those dirty rod headlines here.
Smokin' Hot Rod!
Hot Rod Isn't Too Short Or Too Long.
This Hot Rod Satisfies.
You'll Crave Hot Rod Again And Again And Again.
This Is One Rod I Didn't Shy Away From.
Bring The Kids!
Even Grandma's Love Hot Rod.
Hot Rod Never Went Soft On Me.
88 Minutes Of Hot Rod Was Almost Too Much To Handle!
Somebody Grab A Bucket Of Ice!
Smell That? It's Hot Rod.
Leslie Got Too Close To The Hot Rod And She Liked It.
That Burning Sensation Means The Hot Rod Is Working.
10 Minutes Of Hot Rod Is All You'll Need.
Alright, alright I'm done. Feel free to add some.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
DeNiro and Hoffman were in "Wag the Dog" and "Meet the Fockers".
DeNiro and Pacino were in "Godfather II" and "Heat".
DeNiro and Nicholson were in "The Last Tycoon".
Hoffman and Pacino were in "Dick Tracy".
Nicholson and Hoffman? Can’t come up with anything.
Nicholson and Pacino? Can’t come up with anything.
You’d think after a 40+ year career, those legends would have the chance to work together. Do they not like each other or did egos get in the way?
Posted by brian at 10:58 AM