Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Last Chance!

This is my last call for anyone who would like to joing in a free, pride-only, Internet-based Fantasy Football league. As of right now I have four players (I think), so if I could get only two more I think we could have a crazy fun high-power league. That sounds like fun, doesn't it? Yes. Yes, it does.

Anyone who's interested, please reply in the comments or hit me with an e-mail: reidj21@yahoo.com.

Living Too Late For Oblivion

As has been the case with most of my recent epiphanies, this one arose from my Netflix list. I rented Party Girl the other day. I’m a Parker Posey fan, and I’d always heard she was good in it. And she is. Not the best performance I’ve seen from her – check out The House of Yes or Best in Show for that – but it’s worth your while. The thing with Party Girl is that it’s so ridiculously dated. And not just with the library stuff, although as a library employee, the card catalogues are tough to take in stride from a 2005 perspective. Everything from the clothes to the clubs to the attitudes are such a product of the mid-1990s.

This was when I realized that I was born five years too late, and that I totally missed out on that mid-‘90s indie film bonanza. Not that independent film was dead by the time I really started to get psycho about film (around 1997/98), but it had changed by then. The mid-‘90s indie films were infused with that Gen-X, slacker aesthetic that I had grown up with so much in music. And watching those movies on DVD now, I can’t possibly see them with the kind of novelty they must have had back then.

Think about it. Between 1994 and 1997, you had movies like Living in Oblivion, Basquiat, Clockwatchers, all good movies that I have to think would have been even better in the context of what must have seemed like a movement for indie filmgoers. Think of the directors who were coming out with their first projects back then: Kevin Smith, Whit Stillman, Noah Baumbach, Richard Linklater, Nicole Holofcener were all making these bright, talky, invigorating movies. To have been able to catch filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Alexander Payne, David O. Russell, and Todd Haynes when they were making their ragged first films? Had to be exciting.

Also, it might have been nice to have caught in to some of the indie actors while they were young and adventurous. That way I wouldn’t have first seen Liev Schrieber in the Scream trilogy. Or Julianne Moore in Jurassic Park II. Or James LeGros in Ally freaking McBeal.

In summation: five years earlier, Mom and Dad. That’s all it would have taken. Thanks. A lot.

ADDENDUM: My favorite indie movies from the mid-‘90s

01 - Before Sunrise - dir.: Richard Linklater
I really didn’t think I’d like it much, but you really do get engrossed by an hour and a half of Ethan Hawke talking. Trust me, it’s so much better than you think it is.

02 - Bottle Rocket - dir.: Wes Anderson
Just saw it recently, but it’s a lot of fun to see the Wilson brothers cut loose at such a young age. It’s a bit unformed and ragged, but the ill-fated heist scene makes up for a lot.

03 - Clerks - dir.: Kevin Smith
One of the most eye-opening movies of my lifetime. I remember seeing this movie and realizing how differently movies can be made. Plus, it’s still damn hilarious after all these years.

04 - Living in Oblivion - dir.: Tom DiCillo
Indie film about making an indie film, it’s a precious conceit, to be sure. But the actors sell it so well, Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, and James LeGros especially. It’s very funny.

05 - Walking and Talking - dir.: Nicole Holofcener
This is a smart, well-acted (Catherine Keener again, this time with Anne Heche), heartfelt comedy. Holofcener would later make Lovely and Amazing, another intelligent and genuine character piece. I really like her work.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Monday Top Five: 08/29

Five things that impressed, appalled, or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:

01 – I didn’t watch all of the MTV Video Music Awards last night, because . . . come on you guys, that shit is bad. But in between the good (ladies and gentlemen, Kelly Clarkson), the bad (skeezy uncle Eric Roberts) and the ugly (Jessica Simpson, good lord), I was mostly amused/horrified by “Diddy” as host. I mean, I know it was probably a good decision not to let him try stand-up comedy up there, but jeez Louise that was a ridiculous display. With the dancing and the preening and the smoke machine DRAMA. He was like David Copperfield crossed with Diana Ross crossed with Michael Jackson. In all the worst ways. And the MC Hammer appearance? Oh, how I wish I was kidding.

02 – Providing a delightful distraction from Eva Longoria’s crotch last night was the premiere of Rome on HBO. Almost all of the pre-show word on Rome was that it takes until about episode three for things to really catch fire. So I was actually surprised at how engrossed I was in the proceedings right off the bat. I especially dug Polly Walker as the scheming, daughter-pimping, cow’s blood bathing Atia. She’s going to be the hook this show needs to really enter the pop-cult consciousness.

03 – A big thank you to Jalen Cameron (and the participation of his no doubt reluctant dad Aaron) for my favorite birthday present of them all, The Simpsons Season 6 DVDs. It’s one of my favorite seasons, containing my favorite Simpsons episode of all time, “The PTA Disbands.” It’s the one where the teachers go on strike and contains such gems as “Mrs. Pommelhorse? I’d like to get down now,” “purple monkey dishwasher,” Jasper’s “that’s a paddling” speech, and Frink’s “the colors, children!” Also, the best It’s a Wonderful Life parody yet, Otto siphoning gas for the school bus, Kearney dancing a jig, and “Lisa, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!” All in the same epsisode. It rocks. Thanks, Jalen. Uncle Joe will surely shut his cry-hole for a few weeks at least. And tell your dad to get the lead out on Black Actress Survivor already.

04 – Another on the pile of awesome birthday presents is the Undeclared DVD set. This was the awesome Judd Apatow-produced TV series that only lasted 17 episodes about college. As opposed to the awesome Judd Apatow-produced TV series that only lated 17 episodes about high school, which was Freaks and Geeks. And, naturally, FOX aired the episodes out of order and pulled the plug way too soon. Having the complete series on DVD may be cold comfort, but it’s nice to have nonetheless. The cast rocks, especially Seth Rogen (The 40 Year Old Virgin), Carla Gallo (a million miles away from her Carnivale role), Charlie Hunnam (mmmmm), and Jay Baruchel (who will always be Vic the Zeppelin fan from Almost Famous to me). And Jason Segel as the psychotic ex-boyfriend from home? Excellent.

05 – Quick reminder to everyone to try and watch Prison Break as it premieres tonight on FOX at 8pm. It’s a prison drama that’s being sold as part-Oz, part-24, part-Lost. And I’ll be writing about it some time soon, so you all will want to know what I’m on about, right? Right? Thought so.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Today's J.A.M. Links

It’s Friday, and thus time to toss out links to my former 411 partners in crime.

Aaron Cameron’s Bootleg lives up to its “Goodness” mission statement this week, with thought provoking debate on Nas and the city of Detroit. Separately, of course; God forbid if the partisans of both had descended on Cam all at once. He also gets some shots in on Curt Schilling and Johnny Damon, because he’s my kind of guy, and throws in a Sarah Jessica Horseface joke for good measure.

Ahh, equine jokes made at Sarah Jessica Parker’s expense. They truly never get old. True story: I caught the tail end of a Sex and the City rerun the other day on TBS, and the only part I saw consisted of a series of associational edits between SJP’s Carrie and this horse in Central Park. “That’s unkind,” I muttered to myself. Then I realized that not only was Carrie in the same scene as the horse, but that the show was drawing comparisons between Carrie and the horse. Damn. That’s cold. Looks like someone forgot to send Darren Starr flowers on his birthday.

Meanwhile, Mathan Erhardt busts out a long-awaited Remote Destination. I say long awaited because I’ve been waiting all week to see what he thought of the Six Feet Under finale. Not to hijack Mathan’s blurb here, but I need to talk about the finale for a second. So good. Really, really good, and satisfying, I might add, for someone who’s been watching since season one. I enjoyed seeing Ruth and Brenda finally reach an understanding between them, and I was glad they never softened Margaret Chenowith even at the end.

Like everyone else, the last several minutes really knocked me out. I was glad to see that Brenda remained close to the Fishers, and it was funny how Billy basically ended up talking her to death. And I was happy to see that Claire was such a focal point at the end. She was always my favorite character, through her ups and downs. Lauren Ambrose had better have a long career ahead of her. Rachel Griffiths, too. Anyhoo, read Mathan’s account of Six Feet and more.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mawwage. Wuhve and mawwage.

Low Resolution would like to happily announce the launching of Brian and Kristeen’s wedding site. Brian (aka Monkeyboy) and Kristeen (I refuse to call her The Future Mrs. Monkeyboy, no matter how much she begs me) have been longtime friends of Low Res and its intrepid author. Go and read about the improbable storybook romance and the impossibly romantic proposal. Who knew the Grupp Fireside Lounge could be so enchanting.

While you’re there, help make Brian and Kristeen’s wedding site the most popular wedding site around and sign their guest book. If you don’t have the pleasure of knowing them like I do, feel free to cut and paste the following well-wishes:

Congratulations Brian and Kristeen! Yours is a many-splendored love that will ring throughout the ages. I have every confidence that Brian will make a hardy and successful husband, while Kristeen will prove to be a capable and industrious wife. And did I say attractive? Because I should have. Y’all are damn hot. Happy wedding!

Or come up with your own greeting. Use profanity and I will cut your shit the fuck up, though. Cheers!

Wednesday Top Five 08/24

Five things that impressed, appalled, or otherwise held my attention for more than 15 seconds during the past week:

01 – I know I’ve blogged about her before, but Kathy Griffin’s Allegedly DVD is real damn funny. I’ve always been pretty much a fan of hers – and it’s been lonely on this side of the mountain – but this whole telling tales out of school / burning bridges thing is brilliant. And I’m pretty sure the dumbass pro wrestler she makes fun of during her USO tour bit is Bradshaw, which makes her all the more golden, in my book.

02 – Speaking of stuff I’ve previously blogged, I recall that during a previous post in which I raved about the Ricky Gervais/BBC version of The Office, I referred to the Steve Carell/NBC version as a “pale imitation.” Which, in my defense, it was, based on the one episode of the American version that I’d seen – the pilot. But having seen the remainder of the first season, I’m totally taking that back, because that show came into its own in record time – like second episode record time. The Diversity Day episode . . . the basketball game . . . the one where Dwight picks the health care plan . . . that’s like three classic episodes right there, and they’ve only made six episodes in total. If they can bring that kind of material into the second season, we may have a third great network sitcom on our hands.

03 – One of the trailers I saw before The 40-Year Old Virgin (and more on that hilarious little gem of a movie later on) was for this comedy called Waiting, which looks like you basic grossout comedy, this time set in the all-too-relatable world of a restaurant waitstaff. But the cast, my god the cast! Headlined by Ryan Reynolds, which is great in its own right, the cast includes Justin Long (hilarious skinny kid from Dodgeball), Robert Patrick Benedict (Richard Coad from Felicity), John Francis Daley (Sam from Freaks and Geeks), Luis Guzman (got stabbed in the enck by Rebadow on Oz), and Dane Cook (crazy-ass comic of the “who shit on the coats?” variety). Done. Sold. I’m in. I may never eat at TGI Friday’s ever again afterward, but I’m totally seeing this.

04 – Okay, so is Jerry Sullivan the biggest douchebag in the world or what? If you’re from Buffalo and follow sports, you already know what I mean. If you’re not . . . well, get used to this, because with football and hockey season coming up, I’m going to be ranting in this vein a lot. This column is pretty standard for ol’ Jer – condescending, shit-stirring for the sake of shit-stirring, oozing a weasely “charm.” He’s a Boston guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, except Buffalo isn’t Boston. We don’t secretly revel in our misery.

In this column, about how Sabres owner Tom Golisano is cheaping out on the free agent market this offseason, Jerry is his usual self. He’s pretty much trying to convince the fans that the team is going to suck this year. After the NHL ended the lockout, there was an actual enthusiasm around town about the returning season, with the exciting new rules and a team that, last we saw it, were promising and young. Sullivan basically tries to disabuse us of such positive thoughts. He then busts out with this maddening, if typical, gem:

Golisano has a right to make a profit. He's a businessman, not a philanthropist. But it gets tiresome hearing about how Golisano saved hockey in Buffalo. You get the notion that fans are supposed to be on their knees, grateful for the privilege of having an NHL team and willing to tolerate a mediocre product on the ice.

Yes, we are grateful to have an NHL team. We’re a dying city, asshole. We lose the Sabres or the Bills, they’re not coming back. We’re not Charlotte, who loses the NBA’s Hornets and get the Bobcats a year later. We’re not Los Angeles, who keep getting NFL franchise offers tucked into their g-string by a sweaty, desperate Paul Tagliabue. We allow jerkoff sportswriters to run our hockey team out of town, we’ve put one foot in the grave, and it’s not coming out. Yes, we’re grateful. Grateful sports fans. Obviously it won’t last – no grace period does - but quit greasing the damn tracks, Masshole.

05 – I’ve decided to re-read Stephen King’s It. The motivation came from catching an airing of the TV mini-series of the same name on Sci-Fi Network. God, that was just so poorly done. I mean, it’s probably unfilmable anyway, but seeing the crap-ass way it was rendered made me sad, because the book was so, so good. I was a lot younger when I read it (high school), so maybe it won’t have aged well, but for me it was the quitissential Stephen King book, with all his themes of childhood and monsters under the bed reaching their apex. It’s a long damn haul, but I need to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Summer '05: A Tribute

With yet another summer rapidly dwindling away (no more smoking weed in Mom and Pop’s basement, kids; take those bongs to your dorms where they belong), I think it’s time we start to memorialize Summer 2005 for what it was: one of the finest periods of gossip and celeb watching that we’ve had in quite some time.

In case you need a little refresher course in what’s gone down ever since final exams wrapped in May, let me remind you.

We saw . . .

Tom Cruise’s Couch Dance Party

The subsequent Scientology: Truth or Consequences meeting of the minds between Cruise and Matt Lauer.

Katie Holmes’s horrifying One Hundred Teeth of Grinitude smile.

Russell Crowe’s Bruce Banner moment in which an inability to decipher “anytime minutes” was taken out on hotel service staff.

Britney Spears threatening to go Demi Moore on unsuspecting paparazzi at any time.

Mr. and Mrs. Federline proving that not every car wreck can be as mortifyingly watchable as Bobby and Whitney, as their UPN series gets put to sleep.

Jude Law indulging in every Hot Babysitter fantasy he’s ever had, kicking off NannyGate2005.

Sienna Miller’s maybe/kinda/probably/could be pregnancy, which, if nothing else, offers definitive proof that Sadie Frost totally owns a voodoo doll.

Jude Law displaying the Red Hot Nanny Poker for all to see . . . and snicker at.

Owen Wilson's seamless transformation into The Butterscotch Stallion, in all its bum-licking glory.

Paula Abdul continuing to deal with the Corey Clark Is a Skanky Ho fallout, including rumours that she could be replaced by . . . that's right: Whitney Houston.

Kathy Griffin busting out with new and improved ways to mock Ryan Seacrest and Clay Aiken.

Jennifer Garner getting knocked up with the Affletus. And judging by the cranium size of this kid’s parents, I’m thinking Jen’s gonna want to go Cesarian.

The revelation that Michael Jackson is, contrary to what we all stupidly thought, not a child molestor after all, according to the California Justice System. Huh. Man, we were wrong about O.J., too. When will we learn to give celebrities the benefit of the doubt and stop believing the piles and piles of evidence against them? When?

Lindsay Lohan’s journey from America’s Sweetheart to Tara Reid Without The Tits But With A Lot More Coke, As If We Ever Thought That Was Possible.

And finally, the most jaw-dropping celebrity development of them all: Paris Hilton does nothing more scandalous than fuck a hamburger and get hitched to a dude with the same pretentious name as hers. Way to zig while we all zagged, Paris.

To everyone who made Summer 2005 such a gossipy delight, we salute you. May you all have adulterous affairs and drug abuse scandals in your futures.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Theme Tonight Is "Pathetic"

For starters, I don’t know if I’m the only person who watches The Real World anymore, but tonight’s episode was a doozy. I’m not going into the specifics of Wes – the frat-bred, self-styled, rather homely, would-be player – trying to get roomie Johanna jealous, a plan that failed spectacularly. Suffice it to say, Wes has attained that rarefied air of The Most Pathetic Real Worlders of All Time. He joins Hawaii Matt, Chicago Kyle, San Diego Frankie, and Montana’s boyfriend Vaj. Thank you, Wes. Your obliviousness and creepily competitive outlook on dating entertains us all!

In other news, if anybody reading this would be interested in joining a Fantasy Football league through Low Res, please reply in the comments. This would be for Internet pride, not money, but it’s a great way to follow the NFL season. If we get enough player, I’ll set up a Yahoo league.

Finally, I’ll be sojourning to Syracuse this weekend to visit friends, so maybe no updating until mid-week next week. Among other things, I will be celebrating my birthday! That’s right. One year older. None the wiser. If I were a different kind of Internet writer, here’s where I’d be posting a link to my Amazon wish list.

Well would you look at that. Did you see what I did there? You’re not sure if I’m kidding or I’m serious, aren’t you? I trust you’ll make the right decision.

Magnolia. Again.

So I re-watched Magnolia this week. And the following several paragraphs of analysis can be summed up in one short sentence: I still don’t “get” the frogs.

But first, some background. I first viewed Magnolia on VHS back in 2000. I had already seen Boogie Nights and enjoyed Paul Thomas Anderson’s directing on that one. I had read the positive reviews Magnolia got, especially for Tom Cruise (who I still liked at the time), and I was fairly excited to see it. Since it was VHS, it came on two tapes. Two intimidating VHS tapes for an indie character drama. Maybe that was the first sign. The second sign? It took me three days to watch the damn thing. I just could not stick with it, even though I liked a lot of the small parts, and most of the acting.

I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I was missing the boat on Magnolia. That the three-day marathon viewing robbed me of seeing a masterpiece for what it really was. A re-viewing was in order. Hell, a second go-round certainly altered my perception of Natural Born Killers (both positively and negatively). Perhaps I’d come out with a different assessment that I did the last time, when the word I remember emerging with was “boring.”

So, five years later, I can say with some certainty that it’s not boring. Well, most of it isn’t boring. It’s three damn hours long so I can’t say it doesn’t drag, but the two hour mark comes a lot quicker than I expect it to, and the multiple storylines give it a rhythm and momentum that carries it a long way. Which is maybe my biggest problem, because at two hours and change, this is a compelling, if enigmatic, flick. At three hours and fifteen minutes, it’s a marathon.

Full analysis when you click the link . . .

Compounding this observation is the fact that Anderson builds to a climax at the two hour mark, for seemingly no reason. The editing and the musical cues get amped up, Tom Cruise gets blindsided by the reporter, William H. Macy freaks at the bar, Stanley Spector pisses his pants, and John C. Reilly asks Melora Walters out on a date. And then . . . everything calms down for a bit. And then, everyone starts singing “Wise Up.” And it’s weird, but it’s a dénouement of sorts. And, yes, a LOT of questions remain unanswered at this point, but I can’t help wishing Anderson has chosen this surrealistic conceit to wrap his film instead of the one he actually chose.

Instead, the film goes on for another hour. And in this all-important hour, a grand total of four things happen: Cruise has his big Oscar scene as he breaks down at his dying father’s bedside; Phillip Baker Hall confesses a lot of bad shit to his wife; Reilly and Walters go on a date; and Julianne Moore overdoses on pills. And then . . . frogs. But before frogs, these four scenes take an entire hour to wrap things up, and I get that you want to allow the scenes the emotional room to breathe and all, but this is where the movie bogged down the first time I watched, and it’s where it bogged down this time.

I’m no filmmaker, and maybe for as much as was set up in the first two-thirds of Magnolia, it really did need an entire hour to let things play out. But everything I enjoyed about the movie happens in the first two hours, with the notable exception of Aimee Mann’s “Save Me” over the closing credits. Everything else – the virtuoso character introductions, Moore’s breakdown at the pharmacy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman ordering porn over the phone, “Wise Up,” Henry Gibson as the haughtily bitchy bar patron, Tom Cruise’s bizarre personality inversion – gets frontloaded.

And about the Tom Cruise performance. Yes, I was one of the countless who praised it as his best work in years, perhaps ever. And it is rather impressive. But my opinion of the performance itself went down a bit after the re-watch. With Frank Mackey, Cruise takes his natural gift for onscreen charisma and subverts it, uses it for evil instead of good. It’s the same devilish smile, the same rapid-fire delivery . . . just with a misogynist twist. In fact, I think what Anderson does with Cruise here is akin to what he would later do with Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love: that being to utilize a charismatic but limited performer in a manner which capitalizes on all his strengths and minimizes any weaknesses. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and a highlight of the film, but I’m not sure it’s so much the acting showcase I once thought it was.

And, okay, the frogs at long last. Yes, I understand about Exodus. And the foreshadowing. And “these strange things happen all the time.” It’s still hopelessly showy, rather narcissistic (oh, my characters are so important that they need a Biblical resolution), and far too in love with its own sense of randomness. That latter comment goes for the entire movie itself, actually. It’s a film whose whole is far less than the sum of its parts, but for a while there, those parts are really humming along.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Recommended Friday Viewing 08.12

It’s Friday. Do what I say. Read what I read. Watch what I watch. [“Eat who I eat”? That’s not funny.]

First off, read me over at The Film Experience. This week, I cover Meryl Streep, The Wicker Man, and the sad fate of Frances McDormand’s hair in Aeon Flux.

The reason I find Fametracker’s list of Sela Ward’s regrets funny is the same reason I love this list of provisions to the anti-flag burning amendment. The lesson? Lists are funny.

Sarah’s Atlantic City essay at Tomato Nation really got me in the mood to do some gambling. In related news, I just discovered that my cell phone came equipped with video poker. Marvel as I ignore everyone around me in an indescribably rude spectacle!

Did anyone else see Paul Rudd on The Daily Show this week? Hilarious as usual. The clip of him and Seth Rogen in The 40-Year Old Virgin totally sold me on that movie. Sadly, the Daily Show web site doesn’t have the interview up in their video gallery. Yet they have that insipid Kate Husdon interview from the other day where all she talks about is, like, child rearing. Also, I totally had to Google my way to a back door to the Daily Show site since Comedy Central is too busy prostrating itself at the feet of Adam Carrolla and that godawful Pamela Anderson roast to provide a decent main page link to its best show.

Cam’ron got his column posted just in the nick of time. This week, he busts on Foxy Brown, Kimora Lee “Baby Phat is right” Simmons, and Jack McCoy. He also reveals that the line between fiction and reality is blissfully thin, especially as applied to minor league baseball.

For the third week in a row, TV recommendations. Do you know what’s on TV tonight besides Veronica Mars (8-9pm, CBS) and Arrested Development (8-10pm, FOX)? Nora’s Hair Salon on UPN, starring Lil’ Kim. [Damn, I just lost the Cameron household.] Everybody else? You know where to point your TiVo.

Finally, my DVD recommendation of the week: Magnolia. I’m re-watching it after not really caring for it five years ago. I did the same thing with Natural Born Killers and wound up liking that movie a good deal better. Will my opinion change? Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Job Listing

Wanted: Brain surgeon, or at the very least someone who knows their way around an exacto blade, for the expressed purpose of slicing into my brain and removing a slew of popular songs, which range from enjoyable to extremely unpleasant, but which are all currently lodged in my cranium and don’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

The songs to be excised include:

"Feel Good, Inc." by The Gorrillaz: Don’t get me wrong, I kind of love this song. But it won’t stop Mobius Stripping through my consciousness. A special bonus check, also, to anyone who can help me decide which part is more addictive: the “windmill, windmill” part or the “don’t stop, get it, get it, hahahahahaaaaa” part.

That "loaded God complex, cock it and pull it" song: Carlie, I’m going to send you the bill for this one, since I had never heard it before your party and now it won’t leave me alone.

"Don’t Cha" by The Pussycat Dolls: Okay, for one thing, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to it the whole way through, so I don’t know why it’s set up camp in my noggin. Every time I see it on VH1, I stop by for a few bars, because every time I get fooled into thinking Jody Whatley is on TV. Like it’s “I Love Obscure Dance/Pop Singers of The Very Early ‘90s” or something. But, no. It’s always the damn Pussycat Dolls. I think the problem is that my trigger for changing channels on the Pussycat Dolls is set to “Carmen Electra,” and without her, my defense mechanism is on the fritz. Anyway, get it outta my head!

No idea what this next song is called, because it’s not an entire song in my head, just this "My goodies, my goodies, my goodies . . ." part. And I have no idea what it is. I have a feeling it’s part of a well-known song, like . . . maybe “1,2 Step”? Or even the very same Pussycat Dolls song I just said I hated? No clue. But it needs to get out of my brain immediately, because pretty soon I’m gonna be at work, idly typing, and it’s just gonna come out: “My goodies, my goodies, my goodies . . .” And then I’ll either be fired or I’ll have to quit from the embarrassment.


Competitive wages. EOE.

With Kelly Stouffer, as 'Whitey'

So, I may be the only one I know who remembers Gary Hogeboom, the old Indianapolis Colts quarterback. But he's going to be on the new season of Survivor. And man does he look OLD. If I recall correctly, he rode the Colts quarterback caroussel with Chris Chandler and Jack Trudeau back in those halcyon days of the late 1980s.

Which makes me hope that we're drawing ever closer to the first all-middling-NFL-quarterbacks edition of Survivor, which will include Tony Eason, Steve Bono, Mark Vlassic, Todd Marinovich, Heath Shuler, Scott Mitchell, Bobby Hebert, Erik Kramer, Steve Walsh, Steve Buerlein, Bubby Brister, and starring Sean Salsbury as the smug blowhard who everyone votes off in week six, to the thuderous applause of a grateful audience.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Wednesday Top Five: Angels in America edition

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I watched Angels in America on DVD this week, for about the dozenth time. I just love it so much. It’s put together so well, with the characters and the themes, and every time I see it I’m drawing new conclusions from it. It’s just fantastic. So, purely for selfish reasons, this week’s top 5 will consist of my favorite scenes from Angels in America.

And if you haven’t seen it, see it.

01 - “That was heaven, Roy.”
Belize, “the negro night nurse,” explains his vision of heaven to a delusional Roy Cohn. Jeffrey Wright’s performance as Belize is phenomenal throughout the film, but it’s best showcased here. His delivery, his diction, is so precise. His spoken words have a melody to them. And it’s not like a poetry slam, it’s like . . .singing. Only he’s talking. And the words are lyrics. When he finally gets to “all the deities are creole, mullatto, brown as the mouths of rivers,” the scene almost starts to float. It’s an amazing showcase.

02 - ”I’m not in your hallucination, you’re in my dream.”
Prior and Harper’s shared hallucination is filmed in the most dramatic, majestic way possible, each entering the scene amid billowing curtains, each relishing their Norma Desmond-like closeup. It’s the only time these characters will share a scene, and that’s significant because their arcs parallel each other so strongly. Both sick, both abandoned, both envisioning doomed portents in the sky. It’s not a scene of great consequence, plotwise. Prior tells Harper something she probably already knows (her husband’s a homo), Harper tells Prior something he doesn’t believe (at his core, he is free of disease).

I love the scene so much mostly because I love the performances of Justin Kirk and Mary-Louise Parker. The MLP fan club isn’t well populated. That’s fine, it allows me to stretch my legs a bit. I love her screen persona in general, and I especially love her as Harper. She does the crazy stuff so well, without a bag full of tics and crazy eyes. Kirk was criminally under-praised for his work as Prior, the film’s most crucial role. The Emmys, as they always do, went to the “name” stars like Al Pacino and Meryl Streep. But Kirk was most worthy.

Three more, after the link . . .

03 – “He’s saying Kaddish for Roy Cohn.”
Louis is far from the most admirable character in the film, and his redemption is granted grudgingly, if at all. In this scene – in which Louis, at Belize’s behest, prays the Kaddish for the deceased conservative demagogue Cohn – he experiences the act of forgiveness as a conduit between Cohn and the executed Ethel Rosenberg. (Confused? It’d make sense if you’d watch the thing. Sort of.) Streep is every bit the spectral haunting she needs to be as Ethel, and her forgiveness for the man who sent her to her death is affecting. Like all the best scenes in Angels, this walks a thin line between fantasy and reality. It also touches on any number of the movie’s larger ideas: forgiveness, religion, and redemption.

04 - “You can never make that crossing that she made.”
It took me probably until my fifth or sixth viewing to really appreciate the opening scene. First off, Meryl Streep as the old Jewish rabbi was significantly creepy to me, in ways I can’t describe. Just . . . weird. Then there was the problem of me watching Angels on TV and coming in slightly after it began, so I kept missing it. But once you pay attention to what it’s saying right off the bat, that physical immigration may not be possible anymore, but that the human race certainly still had its journeys to make, it’s a beautiful place setting. As it always does, Thomas Newman’s score leaves an indelible mark.

05 - “The Angel Bethesda”
It’s partly history lesson told in the Socratic method. It’s partly a concluding monologue with some encouraging words for the audience. Traditionally, it’s not the kind of filmmaking you want to see, it’s more “tell” than “show” and it’s speechy (although compared to the rest of the play/movie, this scene doesn’t know from speechy). But I think it wraps everything up exactly as it needs to. The world spinning forward. For once, a movie dealing with AIDS doesn’t end in a teary deathbed scene. World politics taking another journey into the unknown. It’s moving, to me. It’s also hopeful. And looking at Angels through the lens of Bush II, Term II, “hopeful” is welcome.

Monday, August 08, 2005

What I'm Thinking Riiiiight . . . Now.

I’m somewhat surprised at how sad I’m feeling about Peter Jennings's passing. What I mean by that is, I was never an evening news person. I didn’t “grow up with” Jennings - nor Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw – as my window into the national news. I got my information elsewhere (if at all). And yet, the idea that network news now exists without those three giants is sad to me. It’s like I’ve had this Jungian nostalgia implanted in my brain.

Besides this phantom feeling of loss, though, it makes sense that I’m feeling bad. I liked Peter Jennings quite a bit when I did watch him. I’d always opt for him over Rather and Brokaw during the across-the-board-coverage times. He was the guy I watched for hours on end on September 11th. Maybe it was his soothing Canadian voice, I don’t know.

In other news, I’m four minutes away from having to make the decision to watch or not watch this new Adam Carrolla show on Comedy Central. Not that I think there’s a chance in hell I’ll actually enjoy it, but I’d like to be at least well informed as to why I don’t like it. Of course, the alternative is thirty minutes that are blissfully Carrolla-free. Can you imagine being stuck in the same room with, like, Carrolla, Jimmy Kimmel, and Bill Simmons? No wonder Sarah Silverman is so nasty.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This 1999 Thing Is Catching

Over at my newest online home, Nathaniel has begun to travel back in time and hand out his movie awards for 1999. Since I am utterly unable to resist the temptation, so will I.

Bear in mind there was a bunch I didn't see that year, and I'm resisting the urge to revise the list too much, I loooved American Beauty way back then, and so that love will stay.

The "Because I Say So" Awards for 1999

Best Picture
01. Fight Club
02. American Beauty
03. Being John Malkovich
04. The Cider House Rules
05. The Blair Witch Project

[The full top ten continues: 06-Girl, Interrupted; 07-Boys Don’t Cry; 08-The Insider; 09-The Matrix; 10-The Sixth Sense.]

Best Director
1. David Fincher - Fight Club
2. Sam Mendes - American Beauty
3. Spike Jonze - Being John Malkovich
4. Lasse Hallstrom - The Cider House Rules
5. Michael Mann - The Insider

[Honorable mentions: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense); Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry); Alexander Payne (Election)]

Best Actor
1. Edward Norton - Fight Club
2. Denzel Washington – The Hurricane
3. Kevin Spacey - American Beauty
4. Russell Crowe - The Insider
5. Jim Carrey - Man on the Moon

[Honorable mentions: John Cusack (Being John Malkovich); Al Pacino (The Insider); Tobey Maguire (The Cider House Rules)]

Best Actress
1. Annette Bening - American Beauty
2. Hilary Swank - Boys Don’t Cry
3. Reese Witherspoon - Election
4. Kate Winslet - Holy Smoke
5. Sigourney Weaver – A Map of the World

[Honorable mentions: Winona Ryder (Girl, Interrupted); Meryl Streep (Music of the Heart); Sarah Polley (Go); Jennifer Jason Leigh (eXistenZ)]

The rest after a click of the link . . .

Best Supporting Actor
1. Christopher Plummer - The Insider
2. Michael Caine - The Cider House Rules
3. Haley Joel Osment - The Sixth Sense
4. Jude Law - The Talented Mr. Ripley
5. Brad Pitt - Fight Club

[Honorable mentions: Wes Bentley (American Beauty); Tom Cruise (Magnolia); John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich); Chris Cooper (American Beauty)]

Best Supporting Actress
1. Helena Bonham Carter - Fight Club
2. Catherine Keener - Being John Malkovich
3. Angelina Jolie - Girl, Interrupted
4. Chloe Sevigny - Boys Don’t Cry
5. Julianne Moore - Magnolia/A Map of the World/ Cookie’s Fortune
6. Toni Collette – The Sixth Sense**

** I fudged this a bit because I couldn’t in good conscience leave Collette out.
[Honorable mentions: Cameron Diaz (Being John Malkovich); Natalie Portman (Anywhere But Here); Thora Birch (American Beauty)]

Best Original Screenplay
1. Being John Malkovich (Charlie Kaufman)
2. Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Pierce)
3. American Beauty (Alan Ball)
4. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. Existenz (David Cronenberg)

[Honorable mention: The Sixth Sense (Shyamalan)]

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. The Cider House Rules (John Irving)
2. Election (Alexander Payne; Jim Taylor)
3. Fight Club (Jim Uhls)
4. The Insider (Michael Mann; Eric Roth)
5. The Green Mile (Frank Darabont)

Best Ensemble Cast
1. American Beauty
2. Magnolia
3. Girl, Interrupted
4. The Cider House Rules
5. Cookie’s Fortune

[Honorable mentions: The Green Mile; The Insider; The Talented Mr. Ripley; Being John Malkovich]

Best Cinematography
1. American Beauty (Conrad L. Hall)
2. Fight Club (Jeff Cronenweth)
3. Sleepy Hollow (Emmanuel Lebezski)
4. The Talented Mr. Ripley (John Seale)
5. The Sixth Sense (Tak Fujimoto)

[Honorable mentions: The Cider House Rules (Oliver Stapleton); Boys Don’t Cry (Jim Denault); The Blair Witch Project (Neil Fredericks); The Matrix (Bill Pope)]

Best Production Design
1. Fight Club
2. The Matrix
3. The Blair Witch Project
4. American Beauty
5. Being John Malkovich

[Honorable mentions: Sleepy Hollow; Magnolia; The Cider House Rules; eXistenZ]

Best Achievement in Music
1. Go
2. Magnolia
3. The Cider House Rules
4. Girl, Interrupted
5. American Beauty

Friday, August 05, 2005

Where's Your Jesus Pose Now?

You guys all have to go and read this right now. I got the link from Defamer. My favorite part?

Anyway, so the guy who was so spiritually affected by The Passion of the Christ is now hightailing it to Gainesville to tag a piece of ass he met in an airport bar. And he's having his ghettotastic hootchie skanky Jersey girl sleaze of a sister drive him. Yes, Creed is making his sister drive him to the Gainesville Denny's for a booty call.

All appropriate disclaimers apply, very well may not be true (yeah, right), blah-blah-blah-oh-my-god-go-read-it!

EDIT: Almost as funny as the Scott Stapp taking it in the pants part is the Project Mayhem-like zeal with which these college kids decided, en masse, to utterly humiliate this celebrity they hated. Like this was their guerilla warfare attack upon The Fucking Man and His Shitty-Ass Music. And they can fund their next ambush (fairly warned be ye, Rob Thomas) by selling Stapp's Klonopin stash.


New Column, and I Play Kreskin

Today marks my first column for Nathaniel over at The Film Experience (READ IT HERE). I think it turned out rather well for a first effort. I’ll basically be walking a similar beat as I did at 411 (news and trailers galore!), but focusing a little more on the high-end flicks and a lot more on the Oscar race. If you thought I was a movie fag before, well . . .

Anyhoo, to commemorate – and to throw something out there for readers who might be finding Low Res for the first time via the not-in-the-least conspicuous link I embedded in the new column (“Hey! Read me here!” counts as embedded, right?), I’m offering up my next round of Oscar predictions.

Remember, this isn’t for gambling purposes, nor is it for entertainment. It’s purely so I can say “I told you so!” after I get my customary one guess out of five correct come February. Rankings are for the likelihood of nomination, not of winning the trophy. Comments and exhortations (“Reese Witherspoon?! You dumb asshole!” – stuff like that) are welcome.

Best Picture
01 – Munich (Dreamworks/Universal)
02 – All the King’s Men (Columbia)
03 – Memoirs of a Geisha (Columbia)
04 – Goodnight and Good Luck (Warner Independent)
05 – Jarhead (Universal)

06-Walk the Line (20th Century Fox); 07-The New World (New Line); 08-Elizabethtown (Paramount); 09-Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features); 10-Cinderella Man (Universal); 11-In Her Shoes (Fox); 12-The White Countess (Sony Pictures Classics); 13-The Constant Gardener (Focus); 14-A History of Violence (New Line); 15-Match Point (Dreamworks).

Best Director
01 – Steven Spielberg (Munich)
02 – Rob Marshall (Memoirs of a Geisha)
03 – Sam Mendes (Jarhead)
04 - Terrence Malick (The New World)
05 – Steve Zaillian (All the King’s Men)

06-Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain); 07-James Mangold (Walk the Line); 08-Woody Allen (Match Point); 09-David Cronenberg (A History of Violence); 10-George Clooney (Goodnight and Good Luck); 11-Curtis Hanson (In Her Shoes); 12-James Ivory (The White Countess); 13-Ron Howard (Cinderella Man); 14-Cameron Crowe (Elizabethtown); 15-Stephen Frears (Mrs. Henderson Presents).

Acting categories await if you follow the link below . . .

Best Actor
01 – Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line)
02 – Sean Penn (All the King’s Men)
03 – Tommy Lee Jones (The Three Burials of Meliquades Estrada)
04 – Ralf Feinnes (The Constant Gardener or The White Countess)
05 – Eric Bana (Munich)

06-David Strathairn (Goodnight and Good Luck); 07-Viggo Mortenson (A History of Violence); 08-Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man); 09-Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote); 10-Bill Murray (Broken Flowers); 11-George Clooney (Syriana); 12-Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead); 13-Jonathan Rhys-Myers (Match Point); 14-Cillian Murphy (Breakfast on Pluto); 15-Steve Martin (Shopgirl).

Best Actress
01 – Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents)
02 – Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha)
03 – Felicity Huffman (Transamerica)
04 – Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)
05 – Charlize Theron (North Country)

06-Natasha Richardson (The White Countess); 07-Joan Allen (The Upside of Anger); 08-Meryl Streep (Prime); 09-Kiera Knightley (Pride and Prejudice); 10-Juliette Binoche (Bee Season); 11-Diane Keaton (The Family Stone); 12-Julianne Moore (The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio); 13-Cameron Diaz (In Her Shoes); 14-Gwyneth Paltrow (Proof); 15-Claire Danes (Shopgirl).

Best Supporting Actor
01 – Jude Law (All the King’s Men)
02 – Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead)
03 – Ken Watanabe (Memoirs of a Geisha)
04 – Christopher Plummer (The New World)
05 – Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)

06-Geoffrey Rush (Munich); 07-William Hurt (A History of Violence); 08-Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain); 09-Daniel Craig (Munich); 10-Ed Harris (A History of Violence); 11-George Clooney (Goodnight and Good Luck); 12-Barry Pepper (The Three Burials of Meliquades Estrada); 13-Bob Hoskins (Mrs. Henderson Presents); 14-Don Cheadle (Crash); 15-Anthony Hopkins (Proof).

Best Supporting Actress
01 – Toni Collette (In Her Shoes)
02 – Patricia Clarkson (All the King’s Men)
03 – Susan Sarandon (Elizabethtown)
04 – Scarlett Johansson (Match Point)
05 – Frances McDormand (North Country)

06-Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha); 07-Shirley MacLaine (In Her Shoes); 08-Maria Bello (A History of Violence); 09-Rachel McAdams (The Family Stone); 10-Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain); 11-Brenda Blethyn (Pride and Prejudice); 12-Kate Winslet (All the King’s Men); 13-Kirsten Dunst (Elizabethtown); 14-Vanessa Redgrave (The White Countess); 15-Hope Davis (Proof).

Recommended Friday Viewing

Once again, I'm here to point you in the right directions as you ride out the work week in style . . .

Fametracker raids Eva Longoria’s t-shirt drawer and comes out with more than a few doozies. My favorite? “I'm With Stupid. And By 'Stupid,' I Mean Leo DiCaprio.”

Aaron Cameron had his Bootleg column up and posted before I could even think to e-mail and complain. Well played, Cam. This week, everyone’s favorite Shirley Bellinger enthusiast takes a courageous stand against Dangermouse AND Rosie O’Donnell, and proves unable to resist the subliminal urge to place photos of himself directly adjacent to a news item on Warren G. “Because they’re cousins! Identical cousins . . .” Cam also slaps a pair of water skis onto the concept of alliteration and sends it sailing clean over the dorsal fin of a threatening shark. Impressive!

Sarah at Tomato Nation needs your help in deciding who’s the more annoying baseball announcer: the embittered Joe Morgan, or that smitten kitten Tim McCarver?

If you’re in a TV watching mood this weekend, you could do worse than VH1’s three-day America’s Next Top Model-fest. I still need to see the entire third season, which makes me kind of mad that VH1 only seems to be playing selected episodes instead of a full-scale marathon. Still, there's a good chance you'll see Tyra's freakout from season 4, and Shandi's boyfriend and his girlish cries of anguish from season 2. Gooood times.

Once again, Veronica Mars (CBS, 8-9pm) and Arrested Development (FOX 8-10pm) are here to help ease the pain of another lonely, pathetic Friday night indoors.

Also? If you have the chance, try and catch Kathy Griffin’s new stand-up special on Bravo. I sort of steered clear of her new reality show, but the stand-up has some bitchy highlights (although nothing quite so good as the Little Richard/Sharon Stone/Rosie O’Donnell anecdotes from her last show). Her mega-rant on Clay Aiken (“because he loves pussy!”) is a joy to behold.

If you’re feeling like a little Quicktime on your lunch break, you could try out the King Kong trailer. Somehow, this bit of pop cult news passed me by, but . . . there are dinosaurs in this movie? Like, King Kong fights dinosaurs? Really? The 50-foot, giant gorilla wasn’t enough? Had to hedge their bets with dinosaurs? And no one seems to mind, either. That’s the freaky thing. You’d think the geek community would be all over this. Man, Peter Jackson earned a shitload of slack from these guys after Lord of the Rings.

Finally, my DVD recommendation of the week . . . for those of you who have Netflix because in no way will Blockbuster be carrying this movie . . . is Bottle Rocket. This was Wes Anderson’s first feature film, before Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums made him a rightly revered directorial name. Owen Wilson’s performance in this thing is hysterical, and the movie itself is quite good, too. Looking at it now, it was an easy call that Wes (and the Wilsons, too) would go on to bigger and better things. Rent it.

And enjoy your weekend.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My Awesome Hair

Here’s what happens if you’re me, and a) you spent all day Sunday incredibly lazy (yet not half as hungover as you expected) and b) you have Monday off, thus accumulating two days of not washing your hair. If you’re me, this means that you can – with your bare hands and nary a drop of product – fashion the most awesomely awful hairstyle imaginable. I have one of those fashionable Mohawk-type-deals on the very top of my head (Justin Theroux in the Charlie’s Angels sequel, by way of Maddox Jolie), yet in the front, I have one of those Elvis dippity curls. It’s breathtaking, truly. I only wish I had a digital camera or a camera phone with which to memorialize it. Sadly, it will likely be lost to the ages in an hour or so.

In other news, I’ve got some fun Monday Internet dealies for y’all:

The first is THIS flash animated Lord of the Rings creation that had me in absolute stitches on Saturday night. “What’s ‘taters,’ Precious?” Oh, you’re about to find out.

The second is an ad for Alan Cumming’s fragrance, called “Cumming.” No, really. That’s what it’s called. The ad is the most preposterous thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and the real horror of it is I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be funny. It aint work safe, lest you want your co-workers to see you observing pasty, naked, pretentious British folk during your coffee break. It’s just . . . yeah.

Happy Monday.