Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Robert Rodriguez, You Son Of A Bitch

You owe me $15. Actually, you owe me about $30.

Let me splain.

First, you were born. And then you grew up and you went to school, you went through puberty, you kissed girls and all kinds of stuff. Then you decided you were going to be a director. And not just any director. A maverick. Someone who did it "his" way. And in doing it your way, you broke some rules. Like co-directing Sin City with Frank Miller. And in doing so, you let Frank Miller think he was a director. So he went on to direct The Spirit. And I bought two tickets to it. And some popcorn and a couple of sodas. And then 30 minutes in, I walked out of it. I ran, actually.

So you owe me. And when I see you, I'm collecting.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 5 Tuesdays Wishes You A Happy New You

Here comes the new year. And with a new year, a chance for a new you. Wash away the past and cake on the new.

This Tuesday, let's celebrate the movies that celebrate another chance. Here are mine in no particular order.

1. Carlito's Way
Carlito gets out of the joint and pledges to stay away from drugs and violence. Only they keep finding him.

2. Postcard's From The Edge Who knew rehab could be so much fun?

3. Hard To Kill If I had Kelly LeBrock waiting for me, I'd come back from the dead too.

4. RoboCop Thanks to OCP, Murphy has a second chance at getting the bad guy.

5. The Royal Tenenbaums Royal attempts to reunite with his family that's falling apart.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Birthday Wishes

Burbanked as made a wish for his 3rd Blogging Birthday and who am I to deny someone their birthday wishes. Don't ask me how I pulled this off before the holiday, but I did.

SFX: Knock On The Door


Hey Kevin, it's me Piper.


Piper from Lazy Eye Theatre.

I'm sorry...

Oh Kevin, don't act like you don't read me. So are you going to invite me in? I come bearing gifts.

Um... well...

Don't make me beg Kevin.

Alright, but just for a few minutes.

Wow, this is an incredible place you've got here.


You know Kevin, I'm probably the biggest fan of Fandango there is.

Oh thank you.

Your best acting yet.

Well I've done a lot of stuff since then.

Yep. Your best acting yet. So where's that Oscar of yours?

I've got two.

Oh. That's right. So where are they?

Right over here.

Man, those are cool. So how about you eat some of my Piper Peanut Brittle. Just perfect for the holidays.

Hmmm. That's an interesting taste.

It's a special recipe. I sent some to Michael Bay as well.

Whoah. Wait. What's going on. I don't feel good.

Yeah, you're going to want to hit the can here pretty quick. But before you go, I'll be taking this Best Director Oscar you stole from Scorsese for Goodfellas and I'll be re-gifting it to my friend Burbanked. Now move along.

KEVIN: You son of a....

Burbanked, I present you with the oh-so-wrongfully awarded 1991 Best Director Oscar for Dances With Wolves. It never belonged to Kevin so it might as well belong to you.

Happy Holidays Everyone

I'm off for Christmas. I'll be partying with Kiefer. I hope to survive.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Moving Picture Poster

This is a video for the song "A Girl Called Trouble" by the group END. It's a tribute to dozens of movie posters. I offer up no commentary other than it's pretty frickin' cool. And my attraction to it has nothing to do with the fact that the Girl also happens to be a redhead.

If you can name all the posters, then you will be King.

Thanks to Brian for finding this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

When To Play The 'Rudy' Card

The word "Rudy" from the movie of the same name has become synonymous with the slow clap from 80s teen movies. It's a sappy movie device that has been elevated to legendary pop status and is good for a cheap laugh among friends. I find myself using the word "Rudy" often in everyday life. Like when a co-worker can't seem to get the coffee filter in right the first time, I begin to chant "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy" until he or she gets it right or walks away in frustration. And if they do end up walking away, that's when I lay into them with a little pep talk from Charles "The Roc" Dutton.

Oh you are so full of crap. You're five foot nothin', a hundred and nothin' and you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years. And you were also going to walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life time you don't have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself and after what you gone through. If you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never happen, now go on back.

Because of this fun little game, I've never really taken Rudy seriously. It's always been a gag to me. Yes, the story is nice. And yes the movie makes you feel all warm and cuddly inside. But I get that same feeling from a Benji movie. But all this changed the other night as I drove my son home in the bitter cold as he had just finished a basketball tournament. And boy was he bitter.

My son is tall. And he's built like a tank. This has served him well for basketball. He gets under the basket, no one gets all up in his grill, he shoots the ball, he makes the basket, parents stand and cheer and my son ends up with a nice ice cream cone when all is said and done. This year my son decided to step it up a bit and play in a more competitive league. And with that comes more... um.... competition. I don't know that my son had planned for that part. These kids are fast and they call plays like "number 1" and they can really shoot the ball and my son is playing on a new team with lots of boys he's never played with before. And some boys who have never played basketball before. All of these issues came to a head as I drove him home last Sunday night.

In the last game of the tournament, my son had been pitted up against a boy twice his size and three times his weight. Needless to say, my son was intimidated by this. Not unlike the time I played football my freshman year of high school and looked across the line and saw a lineman with a full mustache. Those are scary times.

As a parent, times like these are tough. You want to be sympathetic, but you also want to kick them in the ass a bit. In my working life, I deal with a lot of young-uns that don't appreciate hard work and I'll be damned if I allow my son to follow that path. Because of this belief, I will always err on the side of hard-assness which I usually regret later on. So there I was, being a man and thinking I had to fix this right then and there. To put these feelings to bed. But how? And that's when Rudy popped into my head like a big bright shiny beacon.

I asked my son if he knew Rudy? Who? Rudy, I said again. My son answered "no" and that's when it all started. I told my son the story of Rudy. How hard he worked. How he overcame incredible odds to play on the football team he had always wanted. How he was five feet nothin' and weighed a hundred and nothin'. Charles "The Roc" Dutton's words flowed beautifully from my mouth. How if someone didn't play hard enough, Rudy would go after him and chew his butt no matter how big the guy was. Rudy didn't make excuses. He just played as hard as he could.

My son quieted down after that. Maybe he understood, maybe he was tired, maybe he was thinking about butterflies. I have no idea. But one thing's for sure, my son and I are going to be watching Rudy very soon. And I'll be viewing it through new eyes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Makes Me Love Snow

I have fallen out of love with snow. It's dirty, it's cold and it's hard to drive in. All of this of course makes me realize that I'm not a kid anymore. That I'm grown up and grumpy. And that makes me the angriest. The truth is, snow is simple and beautiful. And should be celebrated. Bing... that's your cue.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Absurdity Of Humanity

Human moments are strange moments. That's what makes them human. If every "human" moment were the same it would cease to be human and more robotic. Where most film-writing suffers is in its inability to create real human moments. Why? Because it's a risk. Because human moments are specific. And may not appeal to the masses. It's much easier to draw from what happened in a past film than to create something new and risk losing your audience.

I was not terribly enamored with the movie Rachel Getting Married, but there is a scene of note that I would like to share. After the wedding rehearsal dinner, Rachel's father, Paul, and his soon to be son-in-law, Sidney, engage in a strange competition. Evidently, Paul prides himself in his ability to load the dishwasher. To strategically pack it so that hundreds of dishes and forks and glasses get cleaned perfectly. This is a strange thing to be proud of, yet there are stranger things in which we take pride. For example, I make Chex Mix. Correction, I make excellent Chex Mix. I take pride in it. I think mine tastes the best. It's absurd yes, but it's part of me. As part of Sidney's entry into the family, he challenges Paul to a dishwasher load off - I suppose that's what one would call it. In the kitchen of Rachel's parents and in front of the wedding party, the two are timed and judged on their ability to successfully load the dishwasher.

As I watched this, I dismissed it. It was absurd and a bit strange in the sequence of the story. And yet. And yet. I can't stop thinking about it. Why is that? There was so much weight in this movie, and yet it's the dishwasher loading competition scene that sticks with me? Does it stay with me because it was just plain bad filmmaking? Or has it stayed with me because it was brave filmmaking? Was it a brilliant risk that the writer, Jenny Lumet, and director, Jonathan Demme, took knowing that it could go either way? I ask the question, yet I know the answer. It is in the smallest parts that we truly discover humanity. In the most insignificant places. And if you catch those - bravo.

When people speak of "risky" filmmaking, it is usually in context of the entire film. Seldomly is it used to describe a single scene. And while I can't applaud the whole film, I can certainly say that this is one extraordinary scene. Maybe that's an absurd statement, but hey, I'm human.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is There A Best Movie Poster Oscar Category?

This ranks right up there with Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Say It Ain't So Stacy Peralta

The way I see it, Stacy Peralta was at the pinnacle of cool when he was hanging with the Z-Boys at the age of 11.

If I have one request in this life it is to be a part of something great. I am not a skateboarder, nor was I ever one, but to me what Peralta did - what all the Z-Boys did - is huge. To take something and reinvent it - now that's something. What Stacy did with evolving skateboarding was to transform it from sport to art-form.

From the beginning Peralta was driven. It wasn't enough to have evolved the sport in the backyards of Venice. He had to take his new discoveries on the road. He cheapened it a bit when he did that. One wonders if we would have known about the Z-Boys if not for Peralta (Tony Alva as well), but when he went commercial and became the Tony Hawk of the 1970's skateboarding movement, some of the luster of what he had done was lost. Peralta regained his coolness with the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. There he retold his story in its purest form. The film felt restless and rough - exactly how it should have. In taking his story mainstream, Peralta sacrificed nothing.

But now. Now Peralta has given it all back. He has taken his currency as a respectable documentarian, opened up the window and thrown it out like yesterday's garbage. Recently, Burger King released a public relations stunt called Whopper Virgins where they scoured the earth in search of burger newbies. People in places like Thailand, Romania and Greenland. People who didn't even have a word for hamburger. All of this for the sake of providing consumers an unbiased taste test of The Whopper versus The Big Mac - as if we're all staying up late at night on that one. All of this has been documented by none other than Stacy Peralta.

As a professional in the advertising business, I first and foremost must comment on the merits of this as advertising. And let me say it sucks. As we all know, advertising is not thought highly of. In the minds of consumers it is deceptive, creating needs and wants where there were none before. I only partially subscribe to this notion. If you buy something you don't want or need because an advertisement told you to - what does that say about you? But I digress. In an effort to appeal to a more savvy and skeptical consumer, advertising's goal today is to hit consumers where they aren't expecting it. To not look or feel like advertising. Branded content is the word they use. It means it's still advertising, but it's less information and more entertainment. I am a fan of this. As primarily a broadcast creative, I have always believed and will continue to believe that my primary job is to first entertain. To connect with the consumer on an emotional level. To not think that we are all sitting in front of our televisions, waiting for some corporation to tell us to buy something because it has 10% more of this or that.

The problem with branded content is that it's relatively new in the advertising profession, so there's good, there's bad and then there's Whopper Virgins. An idea that's not only bad, but one that dares to reset the boundaries on how commercial commercialism can be. An idea that capitalizes on the lack of westernization - as if that's the end all be all. These people don't even know how to eat a hamburger. Isn't that funny?

If Whopper Virgins was a goof. If it were done with tongue firmly placed inside cheek, then I might smile a bit. I might say "well, they understand the absurdity of it all." But it's done in all heart-attack seriousness. And none more serious than Stacy. To think for one second that he believes what he is doing is somehow important in the whole scheme of things is laughable. And it's here where Peralta fails as a filmmaker and a human being.

So when I saw this and saw that his name was attached, I couldn't believe it. How did the anti-establishment suddenly become the establishment? Stacy, you used to be so cool. But now you're just grown up and peddling burgers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top 5 Tuesdays (T5T) Thinks It's Kinda Looking Somewhat Like Christmas

There are the traditional holiday movies. White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Frosty the Snowman, etc. And then there are the non-traditional, traditional holiday movies. Movies that for some reason or another remind you of the holidays. They may take place during the holidays (Lethal Weapon) or they may have traditionally been released during the holidays (Lord of the Rings).

So this Tuesday, give me your Top 5 holiday movies that aren't quite exactly considered holiday movies, but for you it wouldn't be the holidays without them.

1. Wonder Boys

2. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

4. War of the Roses

5. The Man Who Came to Dinner

Friday, December 5, 2008

DAY 5 of Lazy Eye Theatre's 2nd Birthday Weeklong Blowout Extravaganza

Here we are, the final day of Lazy Eye Theatre's 2nd Birthday Weeklong Blowout Extravaganza. I'm pleased to announce that there has been minimal damage: only a few fights, three and a half fires and just four deaths. But not to worry, I have an incredible press team who will keep it all out the papers.

In a constant effort to one-up myself, I have decided to add the cherry to this shindig and invite the biggest names in the film blogging biz. And I'm pleased to say they didn't disappoint with their attendance. Here follows some random ramblings from the party's finale.

What’s your favorite appetizer? Mine is the Burn After Eating Jalapeno Poppers.

I'm partial to the Day After Tomorrow Tuna Rolls. So named, because
that's when you see them again.

JA, Bai Ling told me to pass this message on to you; The pear is clear if you look underneath. And then she gave me the numbers 34, 79 and 32. What does all that mean?

For the... let me check my records... 2,3,8... for the 37th time, Bai Ling, I am not a "sexy safe-cracker" and I do not want the combination to your "lady lock" and no, that... garment... that might be clear, but it is not a pear underneath that I am looking at and frankly you have turned me off of pears for the rest of my life. I loved pears! And now they are dead to me. Poor, dead, forever-linked-to-lady-parts pears.

So which one of the ice sculptures is your favorite? Mine is the Anton Chigur. The attention to detail is incredible.

I don't know about the Chigur. There's something a little too abstract about it. It doesn't have a soul. Personally, I prefer the Keyser Soze. It's deceptively simple. Just when I think I've got it figured out, it comes up with a new and shocking surprise.

Nat, I saw you talking to Hilary Swank. Why is she crying?

She realized her voodoo doll wasn't working. I'm healthy as an ox!

Is it true what Marilyn and Lapper are saying about you?

You mean the gay thing? Cuz Marilyn thinks I'm gay. Not that there's anything wrong with her thinking that, b/c she might be right. Women are more sensitive to picking up on such things, especially the older ones.

I just saw you and George Clooney walk out of the cloak room. What happened?

Look, I don't know what happened. One minute we were frosting each
others' pastries, the next minute it got weird. I... I don't want to
talk about it.

Have you had a chance to play one of my fun birthday games like pin the tail on Kim Kardashians enormous ass?

I would have, but Brett Ratner is over there trying to impress everyone with his friendship with Chris Tucker. He's all "Hey, I can get you an autographed photo of Chris Really! The guy owes me his career." I went old school, and played the Ernest Borgnine version.

The gift you brought is so big. What is it?

My ego. I thought you'd need it more than me on this special day.

Hey Bob, who's your date? She looks kind of familiar.

Phyllis Dietrichson. New in town. She's looking to get a fresh start - you know, new hair colour, new...

Uh...Um, Piper...What are you doing? Uh, don't you think you're being a bit too familiar putting your hand there? Aren't you with Alba these days Piper? Phyllis, just let me know and I'll...Uh, Phyllis? Phyllis?!

Ah crap.

Hmmm, I wonder if Jessica's still here?"

Megan, the bartender told me to tell you to quit trying to order Flaming Dr. Peppers. What's your second favorite drink?

Coffee. As hot as love and as sweet as hell.

Man, those are crazy shoes you’re wearing. What are they made of?

Thanks! I got them from this kooky dude in an arm cast selling shoes out of the back of a white van at the El Pollo Loco on Alameda. I don't know what they're made of, but they sure are roomy for a size 10!

Ron Howard is pissed and he’s looking for you. What did you do?

Disguised myself as the Fonz's dad, convinced Fonzie to beat the heck out of little Ronnie, then faked my death on Christmas Eve. My last words were "Sorry about Arrested Development, but American Dad had the awful Sunday show quota filled."

I see you found our talented balloon artist. What did he make for you?

A 1/4 scale replica of Griffin Dunne!!!

Jonathan, do you think the White Bengal Tigers are too much or just the right touch?

JONATHAN LAPPER FROM CINEMA STYLES (in case you were wondering):
Too much? Piper, at Cinema Styles, my blog, this kind of thing fits right in. Yes, at Cinema Styles, we believe you can't have too much of a good thing. At Cinema Styles. You know, my blog. Cinema Styles. That's . In case you missed it, the name of the blog is Cinema Styles. I'm sorry Piper, did you ask me something? At Cinema Styles?

Any last words Marilyn?

Yeah. Sarah Silverman is a pig.