Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Grindhouse Trailers

This is Part 4 of my Grindhouse Premiere experience

Part of what makes the Grindhouse experience so much fun is how fun Tarantino and Rodriguez had in putting the concept together. The double feature would have been good by itself, but the two wanted to completely recreate what they grew up with. So Grindhouse is not only two complete features, but four trailers for movies that don't exist. And for the most part, they are as great as the features themselves.

The first trailer was titled They Call Him Machete. It was directed by Rodriguez and ran before either of the features. It does a great job of setting the tone for Planet Terror as we watch the quick story of the outlaw Machete (Danny Trejo) who was once left for dead and is now back with a vengeance. The best scene of this trailer can be seen in the Grindhouse Trailer. It is Machete affixing a giant gun on the front of his motorcycle and then jumping over a giant explosion and shooting the bad guys as he lands his motorcycle on the ground. And there is word the Rodriguez plans on turning the Machete story into a full-length feature that's to go straight to video. Which is at once brilliant and disappointing at the same time. It's staying true to the idea that this would go straight to video, but it would also be cool to see it in the theaters.

After Planet Terror they played three more trailers. And I thought it impossible to come down from the exploitation high I was on from Planet Terror, but that was before I saw Rob Zombie's trailer Werewolf Women Of The SS. Here's my first question. Why the hell was he included in all this? I wanted to play a quick game of which one of these is not like the others. And that was clearly Zombie's trailer. Imagine a line of dialogue in a movie delivered so poorly that it almost kills a great movie. That's Zombie's trailer. A big stinky turd in the middle of a valley of flowers. It was not shot well, not narrated well, not acted well. I'm sure Zombie felt that its Nazi subject matter and the inclusion of Sybil Danning would put the trailer over the top. But he was mistaken. Now let me come forward and say that I have baggage with Zombie because he's hacking up the original Halloween by making a prequel of sorts, so I thought I would get opinions from others who had seen it to see what they thought. They were all in agreement that it was the weak link. I'm sure the fact that I phrased the question as "Hey what did you think of that fucking hack of hack's Rob Zombie's trailer?" had nothing to do with their answers.

Next was Eli Roth's trailer Thanksgiving, a classic spoof of the My Blood Valentine and Friday The 13th type holiday themed slasher movies. Let me first say that I'm not a big fan of Eli Roth. I didn't care much for Cabin Fever and as more of a Hitchcockian-type horror movie fan, I don't like that Eli has made horror more about gore then actual scares. But all that aside, this was a great trailer. A guy goes insane for some reason, dresses as a pilgrim and then goes around slashing teens everywhere. The premise is funny and gory as hell. I thought it humorous that the scenes that had me laughing in the trailer would have terrified people 30 years earlier. Oh, how far we've come.

Last was Edgar Wright's trailer for a movie called Don't. It was a spoof of the classic 70's horror movie trailers (think of a movie trailer for a Dario Argento film). It was a montage of different classic horror scenes (couple walking into a spooky house or someone opening a door to a closet) followed by a series of statements one might hear on a classic movie trailer advising them of what not to do. In the end, the audience is pretty much told to do nothing because whatever they do, something bad will happen. This trailer is harder to explain but was clearly my favorite because it was so funny and so smart.

There they are. Three great trailers done by some of the finest and one stinky turd done by a mediocre rock singer. A great idea almost perfectly executed.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Zombie A Go Go: Planet Terror Review

This is Part 3 of my Grindhouse experience.

The two movies of Grindhouse are very different. Everything about Planet Terror, from the loud crackle and pops of the film, to the scratches on each frame, to the odd cuts where the soundtrack doesn't match up, to the acting, the dialogue and the premise itself, reeks of a grindhouse parody. I'm going to review Planet Terror in very broad strokes because the fun is in the discovery. If I tell you what to expect, then it's no fun. You have to open yourself up and prepare yourself for anything because that's exactly what will happen.

The movie opens much as the original trailer did with Rose McGowan on stage dancing. The music is loud and angry and the colors are all at once bright and saturated and dull and fading. Planet Terror is no doubt an attack of the senses. You'll hear blood spurt twice as loud and the explosions ring twice as hard in your ears. The gore is twice as gross. You're going to want to laugh at decapitations and say "ewwwww" as red puss shoots across the screen onto someone's face and Dr. Piper says let it out, baby. Let it all out. Because that's why you're here. That's why you want to know about Grindhouse. That's the experience and if you don't surrender yourself to all of that, you will miss out. It will be very interesting to see how these movies play in traditional theaters, but regardless I ask that each and every one of you who reads this heeds my words: Scream, yell, laugh, boo, give a barbaric yelp. Whatever. And if anyone in the theater bitches about it, they should have their asses escorted out the doors, because they're not getting it.

The premise is rather simple. Biological weapons get in the wrong hands, everyone turns to zombies, and a few local Austin residents are pitted up against thousands of them. That's it in a nutshell. The movie centers around a series of separate characters that eventually cross paths towards the middle of the movie and band together to take a stand against the zombies.

Rose McGowan plays Cherry a Go-Go Dancer, and don't you dare call her stripper because there's a difference. Cherry wants to put her dancing ways behind her and become something new, a joke I won't give away but it's a pretty good one. Freddy Rodriguez plays Wray, Cherry's old lover with a deep mysterious past. They cross paths again at J.T.s Barbecue Shack. J.T. is played by Jeff Fahey... man where the hell has that guy been? And if you don't know him, you should know that you can't successfully cast a B Movie without him so his inclusion is welcome and a nice nod to the crowd. Josh Brolin is Dr. William Block and Marley Shelton plays his wife Dr. Dakota Block. They are the two main doctors in the hospital and they're about as dysfunctional a pair as you can find with all sorts of skeletons in the closet. And completing the main cast is Michael Biehn as the town Sheriff. There are nice cameos played by Bruce Willis, Tom Savini, Fergie and even Tarantino himself but most of the action centers around the main six I described above. No performance sticks out because they're all bad (in a good way) but I will say that Josh Brolin was a welcome surprise to the group.

What makes Planet Terror different is how Rodriguez works with his material. This is a spoof through and through and as I said at the beginning if you don't resign yourself to that, you won't enjoy it. If Rodriguez is guilty of anything it's in going overboard in the parody department. There are a few lines and a few scenes that tip the cheesy meter a bit too much and I was not without a few cringes here and there. But everything that you want to happen in a movie like this is here: great explosions, great killings, kooky dialogue, and best of all Rose McGowan's leg. You've seen the posters. You've seen the trailers. You all know already that at some point in the movie Rose looses her leg and eventually has it replaced with one hell of a gun. And watching her spin around on the ground as she takes out dozens of zombies is about as cool a thing as you can see.

That's it. I don't want to tell you any more because I don't want to spoil it. But I still haven't answered the question. Did I like Planet Terror? Is Planet Terror a great movie? I won't say it's a great movie, but I will say it's about as good as a movie that spoofs a bad movie can be. And if doing all that makes it great, then that's okay in my book.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Grindhouse Concept

This is part 2 of my Grindhouse Premiere trip to Austin.

It’s impossible to talk about Grindhouse without first praising the concept (double feature broken up by trailers). It really is a great idea. There are going to be lots of people bitching once again that Tarantino and Rodriguez (more Tarantino than Rodriguez) have done nothing more than steal an idea. It's true and neither are trying to take credit for it as their own. When Tarantino and Rodriguez took the stage last night they said that when they were growing up, going to movies was an event. It wasn't a two hour movie with a bunch of commercials before it. They wanted to re-create that feeling again with Grindhouse and that's exactly what they did.

In both movies, there is a missing reel. Again, this has been done before, but not quite to this extent. Major sections of both movies are missing, and at key points in the story. You have to try to piece the missing story together and imagine what exactly happened. I'm sure that those missing reels will be included on the DVD or somewhere. I'm geek enough to know that a scene from the missing reel in Death Proof is actually on the trailer for the movie, so I feel its got to eventually turn up.

What Rodriguez and Tarantino have done is make it fun to go to the movies again. Make it something you want to invite a bunch of friends to. Rentals be damned! Get off your ass and go to the movie theaters because it's a hell of a good time. The truth is, the world is a pretty scary place right now. Pick your poison: dirty nukes, politics, global warming, cancer, whatever. I like serious fare just as much as the next person, but in the end movies are meant to be fun. They're entertainment. They don't always have to be thoughtful pieces that reflect life in its current state. Tarantino and Rodriguez know this and goddamn if they aren't having a time of it.

Stay tuned folks, the review of Planet Terror is next.

The Grindhouse Premiere Experience

First let me say this: Hells yeah.

Okay, now let me tell you that (as if you couldn’t tell) my Grindhouse Premiere experience was excellent. And I’m going to tell you all about it in six parts because that’s how it’s breaking up for me to make sure I give everything its due.

First, I need to thank my friend Wally at Tequila Mockingbird for getting us the tickets. He made the impossible possible and for that I am eternally grateful. And if you ever need some kick-ass music for broadcast or whatnot, you should look them up in Austin.

Yesterday, I flew to Austin with my friend Brian and on the plane he asked me “would you be doing this for any other premiere?” The truth is, I don’t know. It’s hard to say that I wouldn’t, but this Premiere was special for me. Why? Because this had everything going for it. A fun movie, good friends and it was in Austin. And if I had to take up the roots in Kansas City and write down a new home address, it would probably be in Austin. That city has so much personality, so many characters, so much creativity within its small borders it’s hard not to love it. Present me with these elements again for a Wes Anderson premiere and it’d be hard not to say yes. But even then, I wouldn’t be sure. Grindhouse is all about the experience. The splatter, the booming soundtrack, the screams from the audience. I can appreciate a Wes Anderson movie in the theater and at home. Grindhouse has to be experienced with an audience. This movie will not translate as well on the small screen, nor be as much fun. So whatever you do, see it in a theater.

So we got to Austin. And at the Hertz rental car desk, Brian upgrades us to a red fucking mustang, because that’s what you gotta drive to the Grindhouse Premiere. I only wish I had made temporary plates that read “Pussy Wagon.”

We did a quick stop at Chuy’s Tex Mex for some chips, a couple of margaritas, some Dos Equis and burrito as big as yo head. Then we headed to the Premiere. We parked around the corner and walked down the sidewalk to the front of the Paramount. We passed reporters, cameras and faces that were painted zombie white in honor on tonight’s festivities. A large crowd had gathered and it was quite an eclectic one. As I passed people in everything from evening gowns to Battle Royal t-shirts I wondered to myself “what is the appropriate attire to the Premiere of a movie called Grindhouse?” I think my jeans and Dickies' shirt suited me just fine.

So in we walked to The Paramount. And if you don’t know it already, I have a thing for movie theaters. So as I entered the Paramount, I was pissed. How many times had I been to Austin and never set foot in this theater? It was perfect. Ornate designs, classic movie seats, old concession stands, and not one balcony but three. We quickly bought a couple of beers and took our seats: second row from the front. The Austin Film Society had done an excellent job at cutting together old trailers before the movie. I saw trailers for movies like The Crippled Master, Ms. 45, Blood Splattered Bride, Werewolves on Wheels and my personal favorite title, The Undertaker and his pals.

I stepped back out to grab another couple of Shiners when Tarantino made his entrance. He walked up in to the theater and shook hands with everyone, thanking them for coming. He was just as I would expect: in an excited state. As I stood in line, a couple of women behind me had this funny exchange:

Woman 1: Who's that guy?

Woman 2: I don't know but everyone seems to want to take his picture.

I headed back to my seat in time for the lights to dim. Tarantino and Rodriguez took the stage and introduced the movies. They said it's an interactive movie so you can yell and scream all you want (and if you set foot into any theater to see this and people aren't into it, I don't care which one, you better be yelling and laughing and whooting and whatever because that's what this movie is about). Rodriguez and Tarantino asked the cast to stand up (they were all there, Kurt Russell, Rose McGowan, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Sydney Tamaii Poitier, Vanessa Ferlito, Danny Trejo) Tarantino finished the intro by saying "if you were to get mad at someone and a fist fight were to break out in the middle of the movie, that's just fine with us." He then counted down from three, threw the mic on the stage and the movies began. If the movies had sucked, my trip would have still been worth it. But they didn't and I will write about them next.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Going To The Grindhouse

Today I leave for the Premiere of Grindhouse at the Paramount Theater in Austin. Got some last second tickets. Tarantino and Rodriguez will be in attendance. In about 12 hours I will be engulfed in visuals of zombies, a killer car and a stripper with a grenade gun for a leg. I couldn't be more excited.

Look for my report and lots of photos on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thoughts From Herzog

Every month, and probably the single reason why I get the magazine, Esquire runs a column titled “What I’ve learned.” The column features several different people from all walks of life. One month it could be a chef, the next a firefighter, the next an actor and so on. The answers are simple and some have brilliant insight. I remember reading about a chef who had said “if you want to get your kids to listen, whisper instead of yelling. Whenever I whisper, they lean in to hear what I’m saying.” This month, they featured director Werner Herzog. And as usual, he had some wonderful things to say which I would like to share with you now. I’m saving you $3.50. That’s $4.50 for you Canadians.

I do not make documentaries or features. My films are something else.

I was shooting a film with an entire cast of midgets, and one caught on fire and was run over by a car. He was completely unhurt, and I was so astonished, I told the cast that if they all escaped filming unscathed, I would jump into a cactus for their amusement. And they did, so I jumped into a cactus.

I do not know why people who are in love do what they do.

Why America? I got married.

Los Angeles is the city with the most substance in the United States – cultural substance. There is a competition between New York and Los Angeles, but New York only consumes culture and borrows it from Europe. Things get done in Los Angeles.

School has not given me anything. I have always been suspicious of teachers. I do not know why.

If I opened a film school, I would make everyone earn their tuition themselves by working. Not in an office – out where there is real life. Earn it as a bouncer in a sex club or as a warden in a lunatic asylum. And travel on foot for three months. And do physical, combative sports, like boxing. That makes you more of a filmmaker than three years of film school. Pura vida, as the Mexicans say.

I was shot a year ago. It did not impress me because I have been shot at before. Once, with an elite unit of insurgents crossing over from Honduras into Nicaragua, we came under fire in the middle of the river, which was unpleasant because we were so visible and the jungle hid the shooters.

Kurt Is Pissed

According to Kurt Russell is "enraged" that Gerard Butler is going to be playing Snake Plissken. So I clicked on the link to get the heavy scoop and this is what I read.

When Kurt Russell first heard the news, his initial reaction was "oh man."

Man, Kurt IS enraged. I could feel his rage come off my computer screen and try to strangle the life out of me. I could feel the hate from the deepest, darkest part of his body. I'm surprised he didn't pick up a road sign and smash it through a window he was so pissed.

Russell went on to say that if Plissken was one thing, he was American. Seething, white-hot blinding rage. I couldn't believe he could speak through all the bile that had built up in his throat.

Nice reporting

If only the casting were the reason to be pissed about them remaking yet another movie, and yet another John Carpenter movie.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Coolest Part Of 300

The credits. At the end of the movie.

Cube Is Melting

Ice Cube has a kinder, gentler twin brother. He's currently starring in the upcoming family movie Are We Done Yet? the sequel to the family movie Are We There Yet? Instead of coming Straight Outta Compton and telling us to "Fuck Tha Police", this twin is performing pratfall after pratfall all for the amusement of eight-year-olds everywhere.

Hey Cube, you better kill off your twin because he's making you look like a real puss.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Have Movies Evolved?

With the release of 300 in theaters, it seems we have hit another milestone in telling stories on film.

Which begs the question, are we making progress?

I think that when you look at the use of special effects, there is little debate. We witnessed, thousands of orcs storm Helms Deep, the Titanic fall, Neo dodge bullets, herds of dinosaurs walk among men and the unfortunate debut of Jar Jar Binks. There are no more wires, no more painted mirrors, no more hard lines from the green screen. And now it seems that tears can even be added digitally if you have an especially emotionless actor.

But in my opinion, technology has failed us in the form of the film itself. To me, we have regressed with the color of film. I long for the days of the bluish greens and the deep candy reds. To me that was movie magic and showed off the richness of shooting on film. Todd Haynes successfully recaptured these colors in Far From Heaven, but aside from that we have regrettably lost what made shooting on film so great. There's a reason why it's hard to tell the difference between film and video nowadays.

But what about everything else? Is the writing better than it once was? Are the directors better? Are the actors?

I think about Zodiac and what an excellent movie that was, but how it is impossible to talk about it without mentioning All The Presidents Men. I think about The Departed and how good it was, but it was a remake of a gangster movie that no doubt borrows from John Woo and Scorsese as well as Coppola and Hawks. I cannot see a current DePalma movie without longing for Blowout or Body Double. Or Gosford Park without thinking of Rules Of The Game.

I feel where we have evolved is in subject matter. Stories have become more personal and much darker. Imagine the Scarface that was and the Scarface that exists today. The Squid And The Whale is a very personal view of a dysfunctional family. Oldboy is as dark a tale of revenge as can be told or at least that has been told. And few would argue that David Lynch borrows from anyone. Subjects that were once taboo are now explored again and again. Drugs, prostitution, serial killers, divorce.

Actors have changed as well. There is not the pool to draw from as there once was. Sure there are the blockbuster guarantees like Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz, but when outstanding performances are considered, they can come from anywhere. Helen Mirren or Bill Murray or Forrest Whitaker or Hillary Swank. And even once bankable actors can sink as fast as they soar. Would anyone have guessed that Mission Impossible 3 would have struggled?

Directors seem to come from everywhere as well. It seems that every year, the list of notable directors gets shorter. And not so notable directors get too much notoriety. I remember seeing a preview of Con Air and in the end a bold announcer said "a film by Simon West" and I thought who the fuck is Simon West and what has he done to get his name mentioned? And it's a dark day when Dino De Laurentiis claims that Brett Ratner will do an important film very soon. But still we have Wes Anderson who I think is as interesting a director as I have ever seen. Tarantino continues to remind me how fun it can be to see a movie. And Steven Soderbergh never stops amazing me with his subject matter and the performances he gets. And damn if Clint doesn't deliver over and over again.

But is all this evolution, or just a desire to top ourselves? It's hard to tell sometimes. Sometimes it feels as if we're not seeing better movies, just different ones. And then you have to ask yourself again, is that progress?

Friday, March 23, 2007

The John Carpenter Effect: A Blog-A-Thon

A few months back I wrote about how Grindhouse is nothing more than a flat out tribute to John Carpenter. You can read about it here. And that got me thinking... how many other things has John Carpenter influenced? The guy writes his own stuff, directs it, writes the music, and even sometimes edits it. There's no doubt he has paved the way for modern horror and numerous remakes, but he's also directed biopics and westerns.

So on the days after the opening of Grindhouse April 9th-11th (I'm not stepping on The Bleeding Trees Trashy Movie Blog-A-Thon), I ask you to write about John Carpenter's influence during The John Carpenter Effect: A Blog-A-Thon. Could be on music. On movies. On cartoons. On comic books. On bad hair. Whatever.

Spread the word. It's short notice. Show John Carpenter a little love.

The World Could Use A Little More Coreys

So I get home this morning after taking a 7:55 a.m. flight from Tampa to K.C. and I decide that despite having woken up at about 3:30 a.m. central time to get the family packed and on the plane that my son Gabe and I should go see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Gabe has been talking about the mutant ninja turtles for the past few weeks. The funny thing is that Gabe thinks he's discovered them, unaware that they existed on the movie screen 17 years ago in the form of live action.

And as I watched this new version of TMNT, and watched the turtle brothers fly across the screen and take on the baddies and eat lots of pizza, I couldn't help but miss the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the voice of Corey Feldman belting out with a slight valley twang "cowabunga dude!" And you can't really long for one Corey without longing for the other. So there I was, in the darkness of the movie theater, watching the cartoon version of TMNT and thinking two things: 1) The distributor messed up and delivered a straight-to-DVD movie to the theaters by accident, and 2) Man, I missed the good old days of The Coreys.

The two both had their career beginnings away from each other but it wasn't until The Lost Boys that the two halves became whole. After that it was impossible to see one without the other on screen and off. Suddenly, past efforts withered away and the two became known not for Lucas or Stand By Me, but for License To Drive and Dream A Little Dream. As word of their drug and alcohol abuse became more prominent, their career began to crumble with movies like the straight to video release of Blown Away and Last Resort. The Coreys were there, but the magic had gone. They're still hoping there is some spark left as they are to star together in a reality show called The Coreys.

Seriously, is there anything more interestingly bizarre than The Coreys? Two heart-throbs on screen and off. They represented all that was good and bad of the 1980s. All the fun and excess wrapped up in blond highlights and Ray-Bans. Today, we have our Lindsay Lohan's and our Britney Spears and they think that they are carving new territory in the realm of teenage heartthrobs gone bad, but they're nothing more than mere posers. For they are only one beneath the heavy shadow of the The Coreys.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Spring Break

I will be out this week on the beach wearing lots of sunblock and making sure my three year old doesn't eat sand.

I will resume duties on Friday.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Seth Rogan vs. Tom Cruise

Seth Rogan

  • 5'11"
  • Young
  • Not married
  • Has no children
  • New Hollywood
  • Has a new movie coming soon that everyone is talking about
  • Last movie was a summer hit
  • Someone I can identify with
  • Not too good looking
  • Has never taken out a 100 million dollar lawsuit against a French gay porn star
  • Very funny
  • Someone I want to get drunk with

Tom Cruise
  • 5'7"
  • Not so young anymore
  • Not sure if he's legally married
  • Has no children of his own (still don't believe Suri is his)
  • Has no new movie but people are talking about him
  • Last movie was a summer dud
  • Someone I can identify with if I believe that one time an alien inhabited my soul
  • Good looking for someone that at one time had his soul inhabited by an alien
  • Has taken out a 100 million dollar lawsuit against a French gay porn star
  • Not funny unless I think that it's funny that someone believes that at one time an alien inhabited his soul. Then in that case, he's funny as shit
  • Someone I want to get really drunk to record him confessing that he's gay

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Let Loose The Dogs Of War

A few months back I wrote a post asking if the 300 trailer was for real?

It was such a cool trailer filled with incredible images and music and just enough great lines to guarantee that I would throw down my money to see it in the theaters. Could it ever live up to the trailer and the hype that surrounds it I asked.

Yesterday, I threw down my money. And here are my thoughts.

I write often about movies that fall short. That don't aspire to be anything better or much of anything at all. After seeing 300, I would say that it aspired to be too much.

Before seeing 300, I had read several blogs discussing it. Some said it was shallow, claiming that it was no Ben Hur (was it supposed to be?). Some said it was okay but in the end it was no Gladiator (please). Somehow all the hype had set very high expectations. Not only for it as a pre-summer blockbuster, but as a movie that somehow was supposed to reset the bar for epic war movies. Me, I saw it as a cool looking movie based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. I wanted to see a classic story retold in a visual style I had never seen before. I wanted to see blood. Lots of blood.

First, let me talk about the visual style. For me, this was a master stroke and the main reason why 300 works so well. The golden clouds and bright crimson capes give everything a surreal edge making the unbelievable seem more believable. It is this style that is also its undoing. 300 is at its best when it is full of Spartan fury, swinging swords and piling bodies. It is when it tries to function on a more emotional level that things seem awkward and slow. Like when a cartoon tries to capture real emotion. It doesn't feel right. And that's not why I go to see cartoons in the first place.

Like a great action movie, 300 wastes no time in getting to the good stuff. I remember worrying that it was too early for the battles to begin. How could the movie possibly keep me interested throughout the rest of the hour and forty or so minutes? Well it did. It did because it was not just one battle, but a series of battles. The Spartans fought waves and waves of different warriors. It was interesting to see what fresh hell the Persians would bring next. And how would the Spartans fight these different foes? This became the driving force of the movie and kept it moving along at a steady pace.

Where 300 surprised me was with the story of the Spartans. These warriors live for the fight. It is not second to them. At one point Spartan Warrior Stelios hopes that he will find someone worthy enough to kill him. There is no fear for these men. They have one job in life and it is a job that they look forward to. A day without killing, is a bad day to them. Even the women take pride in how courageous their men are. Queen Gorgo brags to a Persian messenger that only Spartan women give birth to real men.

King Leonidas: We Spartans have descended from Hercules himself. Taught never to retreat, never to surrender. Taught that death in the battlefield is the greatest glory he could achieve in his life. Spartans: the finest soldiers the world has ever known.

It was in this commitment. This arrogance in the fight that got my heart pumping. It seems in most war movies, the emotion comes from soldiers debating the war. Trying to understand why they fight. Why they kill. Not the Spartans. In 300, they fight for their freedom, but even without a worthy cause, these warriors would fight all the same. They are machines, and I had never seen a movie capture this as powerfully as 300. I found myself envious and fascinated by such commitment. Had 300 stayed in this territory it would have completely succeeded. But I fear that director Zach Snyder was trying a bit too hard to impress. And if he doesn't learn from these mistakes, he will make the same ones with Watchmen.

So did the movie live up to the trailer? To the hype? I would have to say yes. Visually it was stunning. There was lots and lots of blood. Swords were swung. Heads came off. Bodies were piled. I suppose if the worst thing a movie does is try to aspire to be something more, you can't fault it too much for that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Distrubia Disturbs

Remember when the song "Ice Ice Baby" came out and everyone said, "man I like that song it's like I've heard it before." And then Kurt Loader or J.J. Jackson or Martha Stewart broke the news that Vanilla Ice was sampling "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen? That's why we liked it. We had heard it before. It was a great song, dressed differently. Which would have been fine if Vanilla Ice would have paid his props up front. But he didn't. He tried to snow the public.

The same thing is happening with the upcoming movie Disturbia. It's Rear Window retold. Or in this case dressed down, because how do you dress up Rear Window? I went to the site here and didn't read anything about it being an homage to Alfred Hitchcock or Rear Window.

It seems that maybe the Studio is trying to dupe everyone by skewing the movie to a younger audience. Thinking that they won't remember or even care about Rear Window. It's like when Gwen Stefani remade "It's My Life." People loved that song. And I said yeah, I did too when Talk Talk did it about 20 years ago. And most people said "who?" and didn't really care to hear me repeat myself. They just went back to their Gwen Stefani song.

So I gotta ask, is this the future of the remake? No regard for classics or paying homage, just remaking and hoping everyone forgets the original? Probably not. But I think it's evidence of how Hollywood feels about its audience. They think we're too stupid or too disinterested to care that they're ripping off better movies.

Shia LaBoeuf is no Jimmy Stewart and Sarah Roemer is no Grace Kelly and D.J. Caruso is certainly no Alfred Hitchcock. And I'm not too stupid or too disinterested to say that Disturbia is no more than a shitty version of Rear Window. Whether they pay homage or not.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Best Quote Ever

Damian over at Windmills Of My Mind wrote a recent post about how Philip Baker Hall might just be the Real Zodiac killer. An interesting thought. Which got me thinking about Philip Baker Hall. I'm not sure he's the Zodiac killer, but what I am sure about is that Philip Baker Hall might just be responsible for the best quote in movie history. As Floyd Gondolli in Boogie Nights, he delivered these three sweet sweet lines to Jack Horner.

"I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth. That's just me. That's just something that I enjoy."

It was so good that you can see Robert Ridgely laughing in the background. Maybe it wasn't scripted, maybe it was. Maybe P.T. Anderson and Philip were rehearsing it without the knowledge of the rest of the cast, who knows. Who cares. It's one of the most memorable, honest, spontaneous quotes I have ever experienced in a movie.

And for my money, it is the best.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Q: What's Wrong With Hollywood? A: Brett Ratner

This is going to be a stretch and an obscure one at that but here goes.

It's hard not to compare Brett Ratner with Andrew Dice Clay from the movie Ford Fairlane (told you it was a stretch). Ford was a private eye, but he was called the Rock-n-Roll Private Eye. Sure he got asked to all the hot parties and pulled down some pretty good tail, but he wasn't a real detective. And no one really took him as such.

Same with Ratner. He has a house that's compared to the Playboy Mansion. He's seen with Lindsay Lohan. But what about his movies? He's starring on the hit HBO show Entourage. He shot the photos for the new Jimmy Choo ads. Yeah, but what about his movies? He's shooting the new video for Jessica Simpson. He dated Serena Williams. Yeah, but what about his goddamn movies?

Finally when you actually happen upon the words Brett Ratner and movies (Jesus, don't say film) in the same sentence, you discover that his movies have made more than a billion dollars. A BILLION DOLLARS. Wow! People compare him to Spielberg because of his bank ability. Ratner was quoted recently in Vanity Fair as saying "I feel sort of guilty because I look up to guys like Spielberg and I beat every one of his records."

Hey Brett, have you won two Oscars for best director?

Yeah, I think some records are still safe.

Ratner is a hack in the worst way. He's a Hollywood hack. Michael Bay meets Kato Katlin. His talent is judged by who he knows and what he grosses, not by his ability to actually make a good movie. Problem is, he's convinced everyone that he's a diamond in the rough. That his true talent lay ahead. Somehow Money Talks and The Family Man are just warm-ups to true greatness and we've all missed it.

Not me. Declaring yourself a filmmaker does not make you a filmmaker. He had his chance with Red Dragon. He had the cast and the money and he choked. The planets don't align like that everyday. I'm sure saying that he worked with Anthony Hopkins is probably a good pick-up line.

But despite all his 7.5 million dollar paychecks, his high-profile girlfriends, his guest appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Ratner seems to really be bothered by the fact that he gets so beat up on the Internet. They don't give him the props.

It's like Ratner has a complex and the Internet is the Daddy he's still trying to prove himself to. Well Brett, Daddy still isn't impressed. You're a poser and nothing more and I'm not going to give you a hug just so you feel better about it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wear The Movie

Cafe Press is selling "I AM NOT AVERY" T-shirts. The phrase originally made famous by the buttons worn by Paul Avery and many others is famous again because of the movie Zodiac.

If you're the kind that loves to wear these type of shirts, as I am, then this is for you.

Tadpoles Are Scary

I can only imagine the pitch in the early 60's for the movie The Birds.

Hitchcock: I'm going to make birds terrifying.

Studio: Excuse me?

Hitchcock: I said I'm going to make everyone fear birds.

Studio: You mean the cute birds I feed in the park with bread crumbs?

Hitchcock: The same. People will fear birds because the birds will kill hundreds of people.

Studio: Really? So what is it that causes these birds to be deadly?

Hitchcock: Doesn't matter.

Studio: So you're going to make a movie where suddenly birds everywhere become deadly and that's supposed to be scary.

Hitchcock: Terrifying.

Studio: I'm sorry I can't stop laughing.

Of course it didn't go down like that. Hitchock could make a marshmallow seem scary, not to mention he had proven himself ten times over by the time he made The Birds. But all that aside, Hitchcock delivered. We all became scared of birds. And it required no explanation. One day birds became enemies of people. And it was scary.

History has repeated itself with the Korean movie The Host. Director Joon-ho Bong has made a tadpole scary. Granted it's a tadpole 100 times it's normal size, but still it's scary. Most importantly, it doesn't seem stupid that a giant tadpole is chasing people down the streets in Soeul, Korea. That's because Bong does a fantastic job with his material. He makes it plausable. The movie opens with an American doctor ordering a Korean assistant to dump several bottles of formaldahide into the sink, thus polluting the Han river. So far everything is true. In 2000, an American working for the military had ordered a large quantity of formaldahyde to be disposed into the sewer systems leading into the Han river.

What happens after that is stuff for the movies. A tadpole grows to almost Godzilla size from the polluted water and terrorizes the city. Simple enough. And the movie would fall short if that was all it was about. But the writing works a bit harder and the scenes are framed a bit better and the acting is a bit better. Where all traditional monster movies fail, this one succeeds and exceeds.

The story surrounds a dysfunctional family with a failing father Gang-du at the center. He's a man-child who accepts no responsibility. He's not much but what he is is a father who loves his daughter Hyun-Seo very much. But here's the problem, Tadzilla comes and kidnaps Hyun Seo making Gang-du more of a man than he ever would have become helping his father run the snack shop along the Han river. The movie then follows Gang-du, his father and brother and sister as they try to rescue Hyun-Seo.

The great scene and the one that sets the table for higher expectations is the reveal of the monster. Gang-du witnesses a group of people gathered at the edge of the Han river. They're looking at something that is hanging under the bridge. It looks like a large bag. Is it something leftover from a construction crew? And then it moves and unfolds and drops into the water. And you see it initially from such a distant that you don't know what it is any more than the characters from the movie. But it floats over to the group and hangs like a giant dark blob under the water. At first it's playful as the on-lookers toss different food for its long tongue to snag from the surface. But then it disappears. As the crowd disperses, Gang-du looks down the river and sees something he can't believe. A gigantic tadpole running alongside the river, killing everyone in its path.

Again, this is all good so far. And if the director had decided to make the rest of the movie about Tadzilla terrorizing everyone it would have saved a place right next to all the Godzilla movies like it before. But it doesn't. An American military man comes in contact with the monster and begins to grow bumps on his skin. This causes a terror throughout Soeul that is greater than the monster. It is thought that the monster is a host of a SARS-like virus that threatens everyone.

Of course, this involves the government as it tries to quarantine everyone who might have come in contact with the monster. And it seems that the government is more concerned with the virus which may or may not actually exist than it is with the monster itself. This provides a conflict for Gang-du as he tries to allude the government while trying to save his daughter.

The fear of the SARS-like virus escalates throughout the movie to the point where the government says it is going to let loose Yellow Agent, a powder that will in effect kill the monster and do some serious damage to anyone within a 100 mile radius. This of course elevates the fear even more and drums up protests throughout Soeul.

I won't give away the ending which certainly doesn't disappoint, but I will say this. The evolution of film or the revolution of it doesn't just begin or end with the U.S. With movies like Oldboy, The Host and a I'm sure a slew of other movies that have yet to catch my eye, Korea has proven itself a contender in modern movie making.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Lets do The Blog-a-Thon

Like Blog-A-Thons? Ever participated in one? Here's a good one. It's the White Elephant Film Blog-A-Thon at Lucid Screening. You pick a movie, probably a bad one that you have never seen (what's fun about picking a good one) and submit it to Ben at Lucid Screening. He then randomizes it and gives you a different bad movie to review from somebody else.

It's brilliant. And fun. And you should join. Just click on the page and e-mail Ben your idea. It's April 1st, so if you're going to sign up, sign up soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Where were you when...

I have probably an unhealthy love of movie theaters. But to me a great movie theater makes all the difference. I live very close to an AMC 24 Multi-Plex. It's not a pretty theater. No history. But I go out of my way on the weekends to drive by it. To see the movie posters of "now playing" and "coming soon." And to wonder when I will be there next. Buying popcorn and a soda and sliding into a seat waiting for the lights to go down and the picture to come up. Like I said, it's unhealthy.

In 1977, I was six when I saw Star Wars at the Stuart Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska with my brother. We were able to get in on the ending of one screening so I was able to see how Star Wars ended before I saw how it began and then we sat through the whole movie again. The Stuart Theater is an amazing theater. An actual opera house once, it was converted to be a movie theater. Great chandeliers and amazingly detailed walls hid behind drywall and lush red curtains. But the chairs were still there. Red leather seats still lined the floors and I have one I received as a gift that now resides in my basement. Later in 1994, I saw Pulp Fiction with my soon to be wife in the balcony of the Stuart. We did not make out during it.

In 1981, I was 10 when I saw Escape From New York at the Cooper Theater in Lincoln with my parents. They were pretty lenient to let me see such a film and I was able to truly grasp what I was seeing. I remember being disappointed that I wasn't able to witness Air Force One crash into a building (they showed the crash on a computer monitor) and there was no blood when Snake drove that nailed bat into the head of that bald behemoth he fought in the ring. The Cooper was a great theater with fake trees planted in rock gardens. The Cooper came from a time when curtains actually opened to reveal the screen that was so big it was cured at the ends. The carpet was pure cheese and I loved every inch of it.

In 1982, I was 11 when I saw Poltergeist at the Eastpark 3 Theater in Lincoln at a birthday party. It was my first horror movie in a theater. It was packed and when the clown wrapped his long red and white stripped arm around the boy, everyone screamed at the top of their lungs. It made the scene 100 times scarier and it was fantastic. I haven't been in a horror movie since where so many people enjoyed being scared. Eastpark 3 is a basic theater inside a mall and I loved waiting in long lines there that stretched past the Asian Shop where I would buy throwing stars by the gross.

In 1989, I was 18 when I saw Say Anything twice in one day at the Plaza 4 Theater in Lincoln. Once earlier in the day with a friend and then later that day with my girlfriend of the time. I declared that day that "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel would be our song. The Plaza 4 Theater has nothing spectacular about it, but it did have a round concession stand in the middle of it which was strange and cool. Four years earlier I was in the Plaza 4 watching Moving Violations when a tornado hit downtown Lincoln. The Plaza 4 has no basement, so we were asked to walk out in the hall and assume the tornado position.

In 1995, I was 24 and married. My wife and I saw From Dusk til Dawn with a friend at The Dundee Theater in Omaha, Nebraska. The Dundee is a great old one screen theater. Walk in and you can smell the must from the years. The Dundee projector operator was not afraid to crank up the soundtrack to the point where the speakers crackled with every thump. A few doors down was the Dundee Dell, a wonderful gathering point to tip a few beers while you discussed the movie you just saw.

In 1996, I was 25 and thankfully still married. My wife and I saw Before and After at the Indian Hills Theater in Omaha. Dreadful movie, but Indian Hills is maybe one of my favorite theaters of all time. Concession stands ran along the walls inside every theater. They were closed when we were there, but I would occasionally glance at them and wonder of the time when they were fully functional.

In 1997, I was 26 and would soon have a baby on the way. I had decided the night before that I wanted to see the renewed Star Wars at the Glenwood Theater in Overland Park, Kansas. My wife agreed to see it with me and I couldn't sleep the night before. The Glenwood is also an old opera house and was built as THE premiere theater. Pointy roofs greeted you at the door as well as giant Italian statues once you got in.

In 2001, I was 30, had my first house, married and now had a 3 year old little boy. Movies were scarce but the wife and I ditched the boy at the in-laws and went to see the premiere of Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Rings at AMC Barrywoods 24. Not a great theater, but a great big one. It has a space theme (what's with the space themes) and a giant ceiling in front of the concession stand where if you stand in the right place you can make your voice echo throughout the building. My son would stand there for hours and yell if you would let him.

In 2001, I was still 30 and it was a few days after September 11th. My wife and I had been incredibly depressed the whole week. We were able to get out for a date night that weekend. We went out for dinner and then to The Barrywoods 24 to see The Glass House. Not a great movie, but it was just what we needed. As I sat there with Sweetarts in hand, I felt secure and comfortable and far, far away from all the horrible things happening around me.

In 2005, I was 34 had a seven year old boy Gabe and was getting ready to go to China to adopt our little girl Sing. Gabe was finally old enough to get excited for the premiere of the final installment of Star Wars Episode III. Again, we saw it at Barrywoods 24. It was a different time, a different setting, but it was childhood all over again as Gabe and I stood in a long line and waited in anticipation to see what was the final straw to turn Anakin to the dark side.

People mark milestones differently. Some by birthdays. Some by major occurrences. I measure mine by movies and the theater's I've seen them in. Like John Cusak's character in High Fidelity, movies (like music to him) provide more than entertainment for me. They are my memories, projected on the big screen with really comfortable seating.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Great Teaser Trailer

I saw the trailer for The Hills Have Eyes 2 before Zodiac. Never saw the original sequel, but if this remake is half as cool as this teaser, I'm there.

All The Zodiac's Men

I saw Zodiac last night and have been writing about it the whole day. Here's what I have so far.

First off, I am not here to review Zodiac so much as to talk about it. Be warned. There are spoilers.

I read an early review of Zodiac which compared it to a Sidney Lumet or Alan J. Pakula film in the way that it covered its content so thoroughly.

This couldn't be more accurate a statement and it is with these glasses that I viewed Zodiac. Not as a new movie per se, but more of a return to the way movies were once made. It is a real tribute to the power that director David Fincher has that he was able to make this movie the way he did. No single detail or historical fact is glossed over for fear that it will be confusing or boring. You are taken through every single lead, clue and hint spanning over 30 years.

So back to those Lumet/Pakula glasses I was wearing. This movie made me think of two movies by these directors. Prince Of The City and All The President's Men. Both films dug deep into their subject matter and covered a good chunk of time. They were almost documentary-like in the way they told the story because there is so much history to follow. Too much drama in these cases causes the viewer to doubt the truth. What these two films do is take the name out of the film. Prince Of The City was a Lumet film because it had his name attached and because it was a gritty cop drama, but other than that he let the history do the storytelling. And All The Presidents Men doesn't get too wrapped up in that it has two of the best actors of the time starring in it. Even Goodfellas, while based on a factual story, has Scorsese's techniques all over it. There are no Fincher moments in this movie. Unlike what Stone did with JFK, this is not Fincher's interpretation of the Zodiac killer. This is Fincher telling a story about the Zodiac killer. Not too glossy or gritty and it is Fincher's restraint that makes this movie so good and shows how he has matured as a director.

It is impossible for me to talk about Zodiac and not compare it directly with All The Presidents Men. Both are a study of an obsession with finding the truth. There is no better scene than when Redford tracks the beginnings of the Watergate scandal with a series of phone calls. As he talks on the phone, he makes frantic scribblings, connecting names and ideas. This is such a simple scene, but such a masterful one. Bravo to Pakula and Goldman for capturing it because it is in the chase that the excitement lies and it doesn't always have to be in a car barrelling down the road at 100 mph. Zodiac is filled with these chase scenes, although I would say not one is as strong as the aforementioned, and it is when Robert (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes center stage with the chase that this movie is at it's most interesting.

I have never seen a movie with as large a narrative thread as Zodiac. One that covers so much time and so many characters telling the same story. At first it seems a Robert Downey Jr. movie and then a Downey/Gyllenhall movie. Then a Ruffalo/Edwards movie. Then a Gyllenhall movie again.

Zodiac is not only an excellent movie, it is a coup for movie making in general. A throwback to when movies were about good scripts, good performances and good storytelling. Well done Mr. Fincher.

Tim Burton's Journey To Big Fat Bloated Hackness

Tim Burton used to be skinny. I'm guessing a buck fifty, a buck seventy-five when he was making good movies like Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. Probably at his skinniest when he made Ed Wood. He was tip-toeing around his wonderful sets, giving good direction to the likes of Michael Keaton, Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Jack Nicholson and making movies we had never seen before. Telling us things we had never heard before. He had lots of promise. But then he started hitting the jelly donuts. And the cream-filled long-johns. And burgers and fries.

Now look at the guy. What is he 230? Add an extra 10 lbs from those glasses. He's a big, fat bloated hack who treads on the grounds already traveled by others. The originality has drained from his body and been replaced by loads of trans fats. I'm talking about Sleepy Hollow, Planet Of The Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and now Sweeney Todd. Remakes or re-imaginings. Whatever you want to call it, it's laziness.

There's no doubt Burton was at his best when he was amazing us with his originality. Pee Wee's Big Adventure still holds up as a great, irreverent comedy. Beetlejuice was a wonderful story with visuals to match. And while I think Batman is dated, there's no doubt Burton helped resurrect or even springboard the comic book movie. And Ed Wood was a combination of all his best talents clicking.

Now he's no more than a snappy set designer. All style and no substance. Lumbering through his sets surrounded by people still telling him he's a genius. Tapping all the regulars (Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman, creepy sets) hoping to create movie magic one more time. I'm sure Sweeney Todd is going to look amazing and Johnny Depp will get into some weird, complicated character that's going to make the studio execs nervous (that's Johnny) but we won't be told a story that hasn't already been told so many times before. It's like Burton is going through and revising history. Making it all seen through his black curly shoed eyes. And that's to assume we all want him revising, remaking or re-imaging all this stuff for us.

Not me.

I'll take my Disney Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, my 1968 Planet Of The Apes and my Gene Wilder Willy Wonka any day of the week. Thanks Tim, but no thanks. Keep your sausage fingers off my favorite stories and go make some of your own.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Write Your Caption Here

Write you caption in the comments and I'll put it under the photo. Come on, there's some good material here.

George Lucas has his double chin removed and feeds millions.
George Lucas: One-trick pony.
George Lucas discovers that the galaxy far far away actually resides in his neck.
Goiter! I hardly knew her.
Lucas was overjoyed after winning his first ever "eat like a snake" contest.
And for the low, low price of only $29.95 per month, will bring you only the best in uncensored hot celebrity wattle action!
Clearly George, you gave into the Dark Side!
Ribbit. Ribbit.
Guess where Lucas carries his millions and millions of dollars?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Let The Linkage Commence

I have scoured the information super-highway (still makes me laugh) to give you the best and the brightest links I could find. And if you hate them, don't blame me, blame the bastards who wrote them. I'm just the lazy ass who is giving you a link.

Things Overheard on The Razzies Red Carpet - The Jay continues to make me laugh. And this entry is no exception.

Scientology Could Have Saved Anna Nicole - Another story where a Trekkologist (this time John Travolta) thinks he can save the world with what has been the best joke of the past hundred years. You can take the man out of the spaceship, but you can't take the spaceship out of the man.

Grindhouse 101 - Man I want to be Quentin Tarantino. He's taken over the New Beverly Cinema for the next month until the release of Grindhouse where he will be showing a few of his favorites. Read the post and see all the great posters of the movies being shown.

The Blog Crossover Event Of The Year - I'm not 100% sure what this is, but it sounds interesting. And if Becca is anything, she is interesting.

Have a good weekend. I bid you Godspeed. Go see Black Snake Moan and Zodiac.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Witchy Power Of Aaron Sorkin

So word is that Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip is on its last leg. Wouldn't know if that's a good or a bad thing because I've never seen it. But I would have to say I'm a bit surprised. Why? Because Aaron Sorkin has some kind of power. A deep, dark sinister power. A power that I can neither put my finger on, nor shake.

What other reason can I give for watching
The American President over and over and over again. If I'm flipping through the channels and I see it on TV, I will stop. I will not take note of it and come back later. I will stop on that channel and watch the rest of it. It doesn't matter if I saw some of it last week. I will watch it again. It doesn't matter if there's just 15 minutes left, I will watch the rest of it. It doesn't matter if most of the dialogue that comes out of Michael Douglas' mouth bugs me because of it's flippancy.

President Shepherd: Seven trillion dollar communications system at my disposal, and I can't find out if the Packers won.

I will watch that again and again. Why? I wish I knew. Is this one of my favorite movies of all time? No, but you would think. I think I've seen it more than most movies and certainly more than movies that I say are my favorites.

The same is true of A Few Good Men. Never mind that I don't care two squats about Tom Cruise and that a lot of the dialogue in this movie is preachy:

Galloway: Why do you hate them so much?

Lt. Weinberg: They beat up on a weakling, and that's all they did. The rest is just smokefilled coffee-house crap. They tortured and tormented a weaker kid. They didn't like him. So, they killed him. And why? Because he couldn't run very fast.

Lt. Weinberg: Why do you like them so much?

Galloway: Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."

I chronically watch this movie, too. Why? I wish I knew. But again, if it comes across my TV screen, I'm stopping and watching the rest of it. And what's worse is that I own this movie. I watch it on DVD and on TV. It creeps me out. It's like an out of body experience. I'm watching me watching
The American President or A Few Good Men and I'm thinking why am I watching this movie again. I've seen it about 50 times, and here I am again. For the fifty-first time.

I can't be the only one that suffers from this. Why else would TBS or TNT run these movies about every other day.

Maybe I watch them because when Sorkin hits, he hits pretty hard. Yeah he's preachy and too self-concious and pretty arrogant, but the man can write some dialogue.

Col. Jessup: There is nothing on this earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning. Promote 'em all, I say, 'cause this is true: if you haven't gotten a blowjob from a superior officer, well, you're just letting the best in life pass you by.


President Shepherd:
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"

Maybe that's it, maybe not. So many questions but no answers.

Maybe beneath the preppy, slightly greying hair is an evil, evil man who will not rest until I cannot rest because I'm up watching The American President or A Few Good Men all the time.