Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thoughts On The Lost Season Premiere

Okay, just a quick rundown of my history with Lost so you know where I'm coming from. Like everyone else in the world I flipped out over the pilot, immersed myself in most of the first season, wouldn't stop telling my friends about it, discussed theories about it, the whole nine. By the end of the first season I'd begin to notice bad patterns in the storytelling, irritating characters, the utter tedium of 90% of the flashback scenes, and like everyone else in the world I thought the first season finale was a total letdown. The frustrations built all the way through Season 2, and while Season 3 brought with it my favorite character yet (Elizabeth Mitchell's Juliet), the first half of that season was riddles enough with the same old problems that I almost stopped watching. Lucky I didn't, though, because the last few episodes of last season really came together and the flash-forward really hooked me anew.

So anyway, after tonight's new episode, it seems in re-upping with the show I've also started from zero in terms of cutting the show slack. The vagueness of the flash-forwards, the incremental unfolding of new mysteries, asking way more questions than answers are being provided...these are all problems I'd developed with the show two seasons ago, but I'm willing to let it ride, for now.

The biggest and best change is the switch from flashbacks to flash-forwards. The flashbacks were perhaps my #1 annoyance with the show -- 33% of any given show preoccupied with meandering, thematically redundant backstory that was usually twice as tedious as it was informative -- and now they're gone. At least, that's what seems to be the case. God, I hope so. The complaint I've heard about this is that it takes some of the suspense away if we know that Jack, Kate, Hurley (among others) survive long enough to make it off the island. But seriously, if they're still keeping Dominic Monaghan in the main cast, who really expects them to get rid of any of the primaries anyway? The flash-forwards give the story another entire universe in which to maneuver, and I love that.

Not that I was 100% down with the premiere. This new group of people, the "rescuers" for lack of a better word, feel like yet another layer of shadowy antagonists (the Tailies, the Others, the Dharma Initiative) to put upon the ol' Lostaways, and it's yet another game of "Who can you trust?" One more group of people who you assume are always lying, except when they're not. The differentiation between these guys and the Others is going to have to be made crystal clear, and soon.

That being said, and it sounds contradictory, but I do like the idea of Locke at cross-purposes with the rest of the group, even though it splinters the agendas all the more, and I really liked the idea of the Lostaways choosing between Locke and Jack for reasons we may not fully understand.

I could sit and watch Ben give Jack shit about being stupid all fucking day, I'll tell you that. It only took me, like, fifteen minutes and one incredibly condescending comment to Kate to remind me why I hate Jack's ass.

Jorge Garcia's great and all, but that "He's dead!" line reading was rough.

I watched the hourlong clip show before the premiere, and when they played back the scene where Locke hears the elusive (and possibly supernatural) "Jacob" speak, the voice sounds an awful lot like Clancy Brown (who has played "Inman" in two previous episodes). Perhaps it was just my brain set on Carnivale with the whole "unseen puppet master" thing, but...we'll see what comes of it.

Kate remains my favorite of the much maligned (by, uh, me) Big Three (we've covered my hatred of Jack, but Sawyer's an insufferable butt too) by virtue of her little walkie talkie heist and not letting Jack pat her on the head and tell her to shut up. Liked that.

What else, what else...oh, Harold Perrineau (Michael) is back in the credits but not (that I saw) Malcolm David Kelly (Walt). Will we never find out the whole story about how he created that polar bear out of thin air??? (I'm kidding, I actually don't care.)

Overall: happy to have it back. Sucks that it's only for eight episodes.

'Round Springfield

Linking to yourself is really crass, right? And yet: go on and read the latest American Idol recap. The Miami auditions were such a chore to watch, so you guys have to make that time spent worthwhile by reading the fruits of my labor.

Best Week Ever has an interview with the utterly delightful Jack Mackenroth from this season's Project Runway. He gives props to Nina Garcia and dishes on the backstage dirt at the Sex and the City movie? Score!

This is from a couple days ago but you have to appreciate the weirdness of Julie Chen passing on all the Sean-Young-getting-blitzed-and-heckling-Julian-Schnabel fun from the DGA awards. If Julie keeps telling tales out of school like this, I'm sure we'll all stop resenting her for being a semi-literate piece of CEO arm candy. No, seriously!

Finally, Gus Van Sant's Milk is easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year. But with Sean Penn as the titular Harvey Milk and James Franco as his special gentleman friend, this kind of thing was probably unavoidable: the rumor is that they want to live together for a while in order to prep for their roles. If you're the kind of method freak that Penn and Franco clearly are, of course they're going to want to spoon for a while before filming starts. How else would the rest of us know that they're so much more serious about acting than everyone else? For Pete's sake...

Watch Tonight

After you watch Lost tonight and before you go rushing to the internet to talk about Lost tonight, please please stick around for Eli Stone. Your reasons to do so? Greg Berlanti (of Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, and Dirty Sexy Money fame), Jonny Lee Miller (a solid #2 in terms of Best Life Partners of Angelina Jolie), Victor Garber ('nuff said), Loretta Devine (ditto), Low Res friend and fave AB Chao on the writing staff, and hallucinations of George Michael.

I realize the idea of a lawyer who has prophetic hallucinations that take the form of retro pop songs might seem a bit much, but a) it's no queerer than Pushing Daisies and people seem to love that show, and b) the pilot really brings it and makes you give a damn. Even better, it's scripted TV! In this, our long strike-ridden winter of script-less discontent! Enjoy it.

EDIT: I tried and tried to find a video clip of the promo that has Loretta Devine saying, "Who is it this time, Cyndi Lauper? The Go-Gos?" because her phrasing on that is hysterical, but alas.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Get Out, You Devil!

So, according to my blog stats, yesterday saw 666 vistors to Low Res. Now, I'm not a superstitious person, but that is kind of freaky, right? And I seriously don't need that kind of bad luck, on my blog or otherwise. How am I gonna hit my Super Bowl square with the devil's stink-eye on me?

So in the interests of reversing whatever bad mojo may or may not have befallen me, I offer up these (graven?) images of various religious significance. I had to do this in a hurry, so some of these may take a bit of reading into.


An Ode To: Elaine Benes

Julia Louis-Dreyfuss came up randomly in conversation today, which led me to sing the praises, once again, of one of my very favorite fictional characters, Ms. Elaine Benes. God, she was wonderful. Just last night they reran the Seinfeld clip show (yes, the one with the Green Day song that I still kind of love, shut up it was my high school graduation year), and I swear to God, the line readings she gives during the whole "He took it out" episode are maybe the greatest the show ever had. I found it on YouTube, but you'll have to ignore the randomly inserted Cheers scene in the middle of the clip (WTF, YouTuber?):

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Thanks to Jason for reporting on the possible ineligibility of what is probably the single most worthy nomination on the entire Oscar ballot, Once's "Falling Slowly" for Best Song.
The song, “Falling Slowly,” appeared on two albums before the movie came out — a big no-no for the Academy — but the question is, was it written for the movie specifically and then ended up on the CDs as the film made its slow way to release?

My reaction: This is the dumbest fucking...this has been common knowledge for MONTHS, ever since Once began being discussed as an Oscar hopeful. There is NO WAY the Academy went and vetted the songs they vetted and approved the songs they approved and wasn't presented with these concerns. It was a frontrunner for the nomination. What kind of slack-ass vetting process do they have if they declined to make a ruling until after the nominations? This is the Oscars. They happen once a year. What the hell else do these people have to do? Idiots.

'Round Springfield

Okay, first of all? Go over to the Best Week Ever site and just look at the clip they dug up of Ryan Seacrest hosting something called "American Gladiators 2000." So many things going on there that shouldn't be going on. Try and name them all in the comments here.

Low Res football-pickin' buddy Aaron Cameron regales us this week with his particular SoCal no-concept-of-weather take on such subjects as Superbad and the Al Davis Deathwatch '08.

ModFab keeps me in the theatre loop with another Stage Addiction column, including a link to this article in which Clay Aiken claims he asexual. ...Wow. Everybody who read that sentence just went "Mmm hmm" at the same time and I heard it!

In blogiversary news, head on over and celebrate three years of Josh & Josh Are Rich And Famous, one of my favorite just-livin'-in-NYC blogs.

Finally, a pair of old blog entries I came across while weeding out my email folders: check out FourFour's take on John Tucker Must Die (and the resulting Jesse Maetcalfe het-fest), then head into the ...Pants for the best summary of The Departed ever.

Winter Movie Preview 2008, Part 2

Movie: In Bruges (Martin McDonagh)
High-Concept Synopsis: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are Irish (Irish? Most likely, right?) hoods who are hiding out in the city of Bruges at the orders of their boss, Ralph Feinnes. Many jokes at the Belgian city's expense appear to follow.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences excited for the feature debut of McDonagh, who's gained fans for his work in the theatre (The Pillowman) and his Oscar-winning short film Six Shooter. People keen on the Snatch style of British gangster humor. Colin Farrell fans who are pulling for him in 2008, which certainly seems to be his last chance to make a go of this whole "movie star" thing.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Farrell-haters who really can't be blamed at this point. Audiences who have been burned out on the whole British gangster thing by Guy Ritchie. Belgians, who shouldn't have to take such unprovoked mockery.
Why I'd See It: McDonagh seems to have earned his buzz for all the right reasons, and the trailer for the film (which is set to kick off Sundance this month) looks pretty funny, with ample room for Gleeson, Feinnes, and even Farrell to shine. February 8

Movie: My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar Wai)
High-Concept Synopsis: Norah Jones "sets out on an unforgettable journey of discovery in pursuit of true love." That sounds potentially crappy, but the cast includes Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and David Strathairn.
Who Will Be Seeing It: That thin strip of the Venn diagram that includes Wong Kar Wai fans and the middle-age soccer mom Norah Jones fan base. Fans of a road picture no matter how much bad festival buzz it has gotten. Fans of large casts full of Oscar nominees no matter how much bad festival buzz it has gotten.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People sick to death of journeys of self-discovery. People who see the giant red flags in a movie that was supposed to be released in '07 but got pushed back after largely negative reviews. Alicia Keyes fans -- she's the natural enemy of Norah Jones, right?
Why I'd See It: The folks at Cannes really hated this, but they hated Southland Tales too, and I loved that, so who knows? From the bits of footage I've seen, Jones looks pretty good, and that cast really is pretty great. February 13

Movie: Definitely Maybe (Adam Brooks)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ryan Reynolds is a divorcing dad who tells his daughter the story of how her parents first got together. Abigail Breslin is the daughter, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, and Rachel Weisz are among the possible moms-in-flashback.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences looking for family friendly fare...on Valentine's Day. (Jesus Christ, people, find a babysitter.) Audiences looking for a glimpse at Ryan Reynolds and/or Isla Fisher on Valentine's Day. (More like it.) People who watch How I Met Your Mother for the parts where you try to figure out who eventually becomes the mother.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who run fleeing at such a potentially sappy premise. Little Miss Sunshine haters looking to direct their entire joyless existence into one laser beam of hatred directed at Ms. Breslin. The other 99% of How I Met Your Mother fans who watch for Barney and Robin Sparkles.
Why I'd See It: Okay, yes it's almost guaranteed to have a sugary-sweet ending that'll make your teeth hurt, but Ryan Reynolds is adorable, and "sweet" isn't always "bad," and...whatever, shut up. February 14

Movie: Jumper (Doug Liman)
High-Concept Synopsis: Big-budgety sci-fi action flick about how Hayden Christensen can teleport and discovers that he's a part of a secret, generations-long war of teleporters. Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, and Jamie Bell co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Big, spectacle actions fans who have it kind of lean in February. Liman fans who haven't forgotten the genre fun they got out of The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. People with eyes and hormones who should perk up at the prospect of Christensen, Bilson, and Bell in the same movie.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Bitter Star Wars fans who can't let go. Partisans of X-Men's Nightcrawler, who will accept no other teleporters. Moviegoers who noted the structural weaknesses in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and that the Bourne movies got way better once Paul Greengrass stepped in.
Why I'd See It: Hayden Christensen and Jamie Bell -- I'm not made of wood. Plus this looks like a fun time at the movies right around the time when the Oscars will be seriously burning me out. February 14

Movie: Charlie Bartlett (Jon Poll)
High-Concept Synopsis: Teen smartass Anton Yelchin sets himself up as an in-residence psychiatrist at his prep school. Robert Downey Jr. and Hope Davis co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who think their own high school classmates could have done with their own brilliant and precocious guidance. Robert Downey Jr. fans who don't really need much of a reason besides his name in a cast list. West Wing fans who think this is a spinoff where Dule Hill's character gets legally adopted by Martin Sheen.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who saw Alpha Dog and thus can't see what was so special about Yelchin's performance that it earned him a leading role here. People who have had their fill of the Igbys and Simon Birches and any other young brat who thinks they can tell people how to live. People who could have sworn this movie opened last year.
Why I'd See It: Eh. Yelchin looks pretty annoying, actually. But Robert Downey Jr. is Robert Downey Jr., so...eventually. February 22

Movie: Possession (Joel Bergvall; Simon Sandquist)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sarah Michelle Gellar has a husband (Michael Landes) who has a brother (Lee Pace) who is a total shady character. Then there's a car accident and Pace survives...only with his brother's memories. Korean horror remake isn't another Grudge film, even though the trailer features that same shot of SMG looking weirded out in the shower.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Buffy fans, for the SMG factor. Pushing Daisies fans, for the Lee Pace factor. Fans of both Buffy AND Pushing Daisies, who are used to yelling constantly about their chosen programs so get used to it.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People even more over the Asian horror/thriller remakes than they were last month. Anti-Smoking activists who should be protesting the hell out of co-star William B. Davis, The X Files' Cigarette Smoking Man. People who will think they've already seen it, due to the re-hashed and generic title.
Why I'd See It: Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is back to making me want to watch her movies again after Southland Tales, and Lee Pace, who looks smokin' as a bad guy. February 22

Movie: The Signal (David Bruckner; Jacob Gentry; Dan Bush)
High-Concept Synopsis: Television signal of unknown origin drives entire populace to murder. Nobody you know stars in it, except your old friend blood.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Stephen King, provided he sees the similarities between this and his old-man fantasy of killer technology, Cell, as homage. Smug elitists who can't wait to talk about how, "See! Television IS the death of civilization!" People turned onto the film by its delightfully titled web site ""
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Stephen King, if he sees the plot similarities not as homage but as rip-off. Only slightly less smug elitists who think the film is missing the point, as it’s the iPhone that is the new death of civilization. People who already have The Crazy and will thus be seeing the Larry the Cable Guy movie that also opens this weekend.
Why I'd See It: It looks fucked up and kind of haunting. I can dig that. February 22

Movie: Vantage Point (Pete Travis)
High-Concept Synopsis: Presidential assassination thriller/whodunit, even though the trailer tells us nobody dunnit, because it was a fake assassination. So now you don't have to see it.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who didn't read the summary above. Fans of the middle-of-the-road whitebread cast, including Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Forest Whitaker (honorary whitebread for the purposes of this film). Filmgoers who seek out the most mainstream-friendly thriller they can find.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have any other movie they'd like to see that weekend. Audiences whose vague, baseline dislike for Matthew Fox was given voice by Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. People who have already seen Weaver and Hurt wasted in crappy fare before, and one The Village was quite enough.
Why I'd See It: It seems like I have a disproportionate hate on for this movie. It's just so hopelessly generic in every way. Plot strands lifted from other uninspiring movies, super blah actors save for Whitaker (who isn't a stranger to sleepwalking through) and Weaver (who really needs to be in a good movie, and soon). Ugh. February 22

Movie: Penelope (Mark Palansky)
High-Concept Synopsis: Modern-day fairy tale about pig-nosed Christina Ricci and her journey into the real world. Reese Witherspoon, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, and Peter Dinklage co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of that incredibly inviting cast. Audiences looking for quirk amid the stagnant rom-coms and abundant thrillers of February. The kinds of people who would be into something like Christina Ricci having a pig nose.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences turned off by the too-whimsical nature of the plot. People who know that this film has been delayed a few times and wonder if that's because it's crap. The bitter, bitter hordes of Reese Witherspoon and James McAvoy haters, who are...angry about being blind, I suppose.
Why I'd See It: I, however, am not blind. Nor am I as opposed to the phrase "modern-day fairy tale" as some people. With this cast, it'd take a lot for me not to want to see it. February 29

Movie: Chicago 10 (Brett Morgan)
High-Concept Synopsis: Half-animated, half-documentary account of the trial of the 1968 DNC riot "conspirators," featuring the voices of Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schrieber, Jeffrey Wright, Nick Nolte, Dylan Baker, and Hank Azaria.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Aspiring political agitators, if there are any of those left. '60s enthusiasts looking for something more concrete than the paint-by-numbers nostalgia of Across The Universe. Fans of new horizons in rotoscoped animation.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People so entrenched in the conservative side of the nation's political divide that they can't recognize how frighteningly close this country came to a police state in 1968. Documentary purists. Steven Spielberg, who is prepping his own film version of the Chicago trial.
Why I'd See It: For as much as The Sixties have been pored over, regurgitated, mythologized, and dramatized in our culture, the events surrounding the 1968 DNC, and the ensuing trial haven't been given as much play as, say, Woodstock. And that blows. February 29

Movie: The Other Boleyn Girl (Justin Chadwick)
High-Concept Synopsis: The social-climbing Boleyn sisters (Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson) set their sights on Henry VIII (Eric Bana), with sexy results.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the historical soap opera that was 1500s England. Actress enthusiasts looking forward to a Portman vs. Scarlett battle for ingénue supremacy. Fans of Showtime's The Tudors who nonetheless are itching for a PG-13 version of events.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: "PG-13?? What a fucking gyp!" Those people. Also: Portman haters, those who are burned out on Scarlett Johansson, and the historical purists who feel that Eric Bana, much like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is not nearly ugly enough to play Henry VIII.
Why I'd See It: Ow! Hotcha! Sexy Tudor escapades! Yowza-yowza! Et cetera. February 29

Monday, January 28, 2008

God Damn It, Figure Skating

Okay, first of all, why was I not informed that Johnny Weir would be competing in last weekend's U.S. National Skating Championships? Why was I not informed that Johnny Weir was still skating at all? Didn't he pack that all in to start designing clothes or something? I guess this is what I get for not following the sport at all.

But compete he did, and he almost won, too, if it weren't for that meddelsome, hateful Evan Lysacek and an unfortunate tiebreaker. I guess the full story is that dear Johnny went and re-dedicated himself to the sport in the last year and has gotten himself back to the top. Which is great for him, and watching his performance (below), it's undoubtedly triumphant to watch him kicking so much ass. And yet...I'm kind of turned off by the narrative being pushed by the announcers that Johnny's success is due to him finally sanding off his rough edges and buckling down and whatever. It's like how they always -- always -- would compare Weir to Lysacek in this coded way that boiled down to a preference for Lysacek because he's butchier. ...Let that sink in for a second, the idea that one figure skater out-butches another one. Yeah. The fact is, if it weren't for the rough edges, I'd have never given Johnny Weir a second look. I couldn't give less of a damn about figure skating, but I could watch him skate every day for my whole life.

(Incidentally, is that not the gayest photo you've ever seen? God, I love him.)

'Round Springfield

Okay, first of all, Tara seems to think she's unbeatable at Scene It! and isn't afraid of telling everybody. I'm going to write the WordPress people, though. It feels like a mistake to me.

Nick Davis celebrates his site's tenth anniversary with a wonderful little retrospective. I tried to think about what I was doing ten years ago, and I'm pretty sure one of them was "finding someone to buy me beer this weekend," so I'm kind of impressed with what Nick's been able to do.

Nathaniel has his second podcast up at The Film Experience, featuring me yet again. Thrill as I mumble-mouth my way around the Oscar nominations and sound way more like an Into The Wild hater than I am.

Finally, I have to give credit to Jason at My New Plaid Pants. When he linked to this Brady Corbett/Michael Pitt interview about the Funny Games remake, I thought his anti-Pitt stance was getting the better of him. But then I read the article and...yeah, he's kind of a dick, isn't he? My bad, Jason!

Finally, this post on the TWoP blog about one of my nemeses from one of my very first recapping assignments -- Apprentice: Martha Stewart -- made my day. Will it make yours?

Dear Puffs Plus

What, exactly is the deal with the tissues soaked in Vicks vapo-rub?

You think I'm being dramatic when I say "soaked," but seriously? I can't think of a word that better describes how loaded down these tissues are with the not inconsiderable scent of menthol/eucalyptus. It's like wiping your nose with a koala bear, or so I've been led to believe.

I get the probably medical benefits and all, but when it makes me actually not want to use the tissue because it makes me think I just smoked a pack of Marb greens, it kind of defeats the purpose. Haven't tissues reached the point where they pretty much can't be improved upon? They're softer, stronger, they have that cool dispensing design where one is always at the ready...what more do we need? Nothing. Nothing more is what.

[Of course, that being said, if anyone in the product research community is currently working on a design that allows tissues to self-destruct once they've been used, please continue to do so. That's the final frontier for kleenex, I think.]

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Reaction To Smiley Face


Seriously, this whole movie is dedicated to getting as many closeups on Anna Faris's face as possible. And it's worth it, too, because she fucking brings it. Yeah, she's stoned throughout the movie, but her expressions are like snowflakes. Snowflakes with slow reaction times and voracious appetites. Observe:

All that plus Adam Brody? Sweet.

My Reaction To Teeth

That, plus laughter.

[Note: I'm only using the above image because I couldn't find one to match "It's true! VAGINA DENTATA!!" Easily my favorite line reading in a movie in many, many years.]

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Doug Liman's Go, In Pictures

This is a photo-heavy, thus slower-loading post, so I'm putting it all after the jump. Seeing as I have no real reason for posting this beyond the fact that this movie a) was on HBO tonight, and b) is one of my personal favorite movies of ever, I see no need for a real introduction.

"You know what I like best about Christmas? The surprises. I mean, it's like, you get this box, and you're sure you know what's inside of it. You know, you shake it, you weigh it -- you're totally convinced you have it pegged. No doubt in your mind. But then you open it up and it's completely different. You know: wow, bang, surprise!"

"You can't put bleach in the same bag as food. It's poison."

"There's an opera about him. Xerxes. I took Music Appreciation. Twice."

"Hey Ronna. I just did you a favor."

"And here I thought you just gave me head."

"...And I am a happy man."

"Xiang Kai-Shek. Famous Chinese ruler. Starts with 'X.'"
"No, 'C'. Chiang Kai-Shek."
"You're going to die."

"I just wanna make a deal here. Can we?"

"Who the fuck are you? Monty Hall?"

"Hi, I'm Kelly and this is Donna. We were wondering if you wanna hang out."

"It's like...floating. Like...'Hey, man, how's the ground
down there?' and shit."

[This expression, after Ronna gets run over and Todd doesn't know what the fuck is going on, is one of my favorites in all of movies.]

"I told you my mother's mother's mother was black."

"Your mother's mother's moth-- this ain't Roots!"

[To make up for the relative dullness of the Vegas segment, with the half-retarded British guy and all, maybe let's dwell on the presence of Timothy Olyphant in this film for a moment.]

[There he is.]

[There he is again.]

[And again.]


[Zack and Adam.]

"Gay men are so hot. It's tragic."

"So, Zack, would you say you're open to new things?"

"See, now that...There was a tongue there."

"I take no responsibility, I was only an innocent bystander.But there was this one time, you missed each other by, like, three minutes. It was so exciting!"

[It should be noted that while Jay Mohr plays the least convincing homosexual in all of movies, Scott Wolf is pretty great. ]

"The one thing I will give him credit for is the oral. The oral was good."

"What do you mean? He was terrible! At some point, I had to stop him and correct years bad technique. I actually grabbed him by his ears and retrained him from the throat up."

[So blah, blah, everything works out and we all get to bask in Katie Holmes's sideways half-smile.]

[Not to mention one of the best final lines ever...]

"So...what are we doing for New Year's?"

Friday, January 25, 2008

'Round Springfield

Sometimes when I don't get to posting anything until after noon, I like to pretend that I'm blogging on a West Coast schedule. So this collection of links is for you, Eugene, Oregon!

-- TWoP's newly added weekly video feature lets our incomparable Dan Blau run wild on the week's TV highlights, this week making me laugh my way through morning coffee talking about, among other things, Boston Legal. I'm as surprised as you are.

-- The lovely FourFour has the goods on the new cast of America's Next Top Model featuring the shocking return of that Chris Rock doppelganger from last season's auditions. He manages to sum it all up with "Just when you think ANTM has run the gamut of female affliction, genital mutilation comes along." Ain't that the truth?

-- Jason at My New Plaid Pants continues being our hookup for the Michael Haneke remake of his own Funny Games. He also manages to swoon over a sadistic, murderous character for the 800th time, which I think earns him a banner or a cake or something.

-- Finally, Project Runway's ever-awesome Tim Gunn blogs about this week's episode. He doesn't care for Ricky and loves Sweet P and Rami. Oh, Tim, I love you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

From The "Things That Shouldn't Be" File

Man, I really wish Kevin Smith never made Clerks II. Sorry this is a post about a movie that came out a year and a half ago and nobody really cares about, but that's part of the problem, isn't it? It took me 15 months to watch a Kevin Smith movie. I should probably mention here that I fucking love Kevin Smith, both as a filmmaker and a personality. Clerks and Chasing Amy are both legit on my list of best movies of the '90s, Dogma is in many ways underrated, he tells one hell of an anecdote, he's a fat guy made good in a thin man's world...I love the guy. And I wouldn't see his new movie for fifteen months because I worried it'd depress me too much. I was right. The tactical retreat into the Quick Stop universe after the critical and commercial failure of Jersey Girl has the sickening feeling of waving the white flag. Jersey Girl was not an especially great movie, but as the first step in a new career direction, it showed some promise and it would have been interesting to see where he'd go next. But it bombed and now he's back making slacker comedies again, revisiting characters that should be left alone and making observations that have been made a billion times over.

Clerks II isn't the worst movie of 2006, which is admittedly where I was thinking it'd end up after the first 30 minutes when I decided to write this entry. There are some funny moments, a few sweet sequences, one great performance, and the comforting realization that Smith clearly shares my decidedly un-hip taste in music. He's branching out into more ambitious film techniques -- not all of them successful -- and confident enough to throw in a weirdo setpiece or two. All good things. But everything that was good about this movie should have been part of something else. Something better. A step forward instead of backward.

It's not that Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran became shitty actors in the twelve years since the first Clerks. They never could act. The original compensated for it when it could, but mostly the low-fi style and fresh and brilliant writing meant you didn't care. Their limitations and performers -- and they are severely limited -- are much more prominent and irritating this time around. The plight of the thirtysomething slacker isn't as foreign as many might think, but it's almost impossible to relate because Dante and Randall aren't people, they're words on a page being read as ineptly as humanly possible. These aren't errors in execution -- if you're going to make a Clerks movie, these are the characters, storylines, and actors you have to work with. The only way out of that is to not make another Clerks movie.

You know who doesn't suck, though, is Rosario Dawson. She plays a throughly mythical character that only a fanboy man-child like Kevin Smith could create, and I say that with a lot of love. She's hot, she's vulgar, she finds dumpy slackers attractive, and she'll get back to talking about her feelings just as soon as she sees this donkey show. Rosario Dawson manages to make this idealized construct into an actual person, and she continues to be the best thing about whatever movie she's in. The other scene-stealer in the cast is Trevor Fehrman, who I and only I remember from the direct-to-DVD semi-funny high school comedy Cheats, and who is hilarious as a Christo-nerdy message board type. Nice casting there.

Again, all these things that work could have -- and should have -- worked in the context of a movie that wasn't mired in all the Randall and Dante bullshit. Regressive isn't a color I like on most artists, and especially not on Kevin Smith, who already played the nostalgia card once with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I am praying his next movie, the seemingly non-Askewniverse Zack and Miri Make A Porno, signals a turning of the corner on his career, whether or not it succeeds. No more retreating. Oh, and hopefully no more arguing your Fan Wars bullshit about Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in a movie you want me to pay money to see. I can be annoyed by that shit for free on the internet.

New Recaps

Here are Monique and Christopher. Monique sounds almost exactly like Serena Williams, while Christopher is her spindly gay companion who (I'm guessing) gets all his frustrations out through dance.
American Idol 7.3, "Un-American Idol" (TWoP)

Beth, looking alarmingly red-faced, like she's Diane Ladd in Wild At Heart reminds us she's pulling for her bed buddy even though that's at cross-purposes with her team. "At cross-purposes with her team" really needs to be Beth's caption.
Real World/Road Rules Challenge 15.1, "Once More, With Lack Of Feeling" (TWoP)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

You Bring The Rocks, I'll Bring The Snacks

So who wants to go do bad things to the Fred Phelps brigade if they actually come out to picket the Heath Ledger funeral?

That fucking guy, I swear to God. I can't believe he's still breathing. But it reminds me of a blog post I've been intending to write since before I even had a blog. Unfortunately, since Phelps hasn't had the courtesy to just die already (not that he's done a courteous thing in his whole miserable life, so I shouldn't be surprised), I haven't had the chance to offer my obituary. And by now, it would hardly be worth it anyway. Phelps has so diluted any kind of mystique he might have once had as the boogeyman of homophobic vitriol that he's barely worth the effort. Between protesting soldiers' funerals and the weirdo incestuous cult, he's become easier to dismiss than even his contemporary hateful religious freaks like Robertson and Falwell. What's the point of even believing in hell if you're going to cast Matthew Shepard and George W. Bush there?

But here's the thing: There are maybe four news events in my lifetime where I remember exactly where I was as they unfolded, down to the spot in the room I was sitting in. I remember being home from kindergarten in the living room while my mom folded clothes as we watched the space shuttle Challenger explode. I remember holing up in my dorm room for hours the afternoon of the Columbine massacre. I remember stepping out the shower as the second jet hit the World Trade Center and standing in my towel for a good hour and a half before I could leave the room long enough to put on clothes. I'm willing to bet a whole mess of people remember where they were for those three.

Number four on my list is the funeral of Matthew Shepard. This was my freshman year of college, and while I was living on campus, I was home a lot. I'd been hearing about Shepard's beating and how he'd been on life support and how he ultimately died, but if you know me and my spotty news-following habits, you won't be too shocked that I wasn't staking out cable news for updates. Which is indeed weird considering what a high-profile gay-bashing it was. I mean, I wasn't out at the time, but it's not like these things weren't important to me. But whether I was too busy to follow the news or "too busy" to follow the news, whatever the case, I was home from school on a weekday and saw that CNN had the funeral on TV. I remember it as clear as anything I've ever seen. It's snowing in the middle of October in Wyoming, I remember that part. And I remember the goddamn Westboro Baptist Church led by the Reverend Fred Phelps protesting, holding up the usual "God Hates Fags" and "Matthew Shepard Burns In Hell" signs, and they're yelling -- screaming -- into the cars as the funeral procession passes. And they're screaming at the people walking into the church. Screaming into the faces of people in mourning. I had to find something to lean against so I wouldn't fall down -- it's hard to put into words how much that knocked the wind out of me at eighteen. It's was scary, it was sick-making, but it was also galvanizing. Nothing I'd yet experienced in my life had made me more proud to be a gay man, so I guess I can thank the good Reverend for that.

I wonder, sometimes, how many people have had their eyes opened by Phelps and finally saw bigotry and hatred for the ghoulish and ugly thing it is. I wonder how many converts he's made to the idea that our shared humanity is too valuable to be wasted on such flailing and impotent anger. Not enough, I suppose, but I bet there have been some, which I guess means Fred Phelps isn'tso worthless after all. God may hate fags, but let no one say he doesn't have a plan for even His lowliest creatures.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh My God.

Heath Ledger. Shit, you guys.

I am so unbelievably sad.

So, yeah, I should be able to say something intelligent or emotionally appropriate about this, but I'm finding it very hard. I don't get emotional at celebrity deaths. I didn't know these people. In the case of a suicide or an overdose, I clearly knew them even less than my through-the-looking-glass media relationship with them led me to believe. Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Princess Diana...their deaths all made me sad, but in an intellectual way. I regretted their passing away. I would miss the further contributions to art and society that they would no longer be able to make. This one is different. I feel this one in my gut.

I've said to a couple people in this last hectic hour as emails and instant messages have flown around that I feel like this may have been how I would've felt after River Phoenix died, had I been old enough to appreciate it. He was another one with boatloads of potential, talent, youth, and beauty all swallowed up by this great indescribable thing we may never be able to wrap our heads around. Phoenix filled that indescribable with drugs and booze. Sounds like Heath gave into it entirely. I can't pretend to know what that's all about, but he died in New York. All alone in the middle of this giant city. I'd be lying if I said I couldn't wrap my head around that.

Some further, totally unformed, not at all profound thoughts about this:

-- Can we maybe not go overboard with the Mary-Kate "angle" on this? My first reaction was "WTF" too, but...perspective, here. If it's even true (I'm hearing now that it's not).

-- I keep thinking of Candy, the last movie I saw him in, and how he made this totally messed up, drug addicted screwup of a man into also the most loveable, sweethearted guy you ever saw. At the time, I thought it was a fantastic branching out from the taciturn Ennis Del Mar and signaled a career that was going places. I'd like to see that movie again soon, but it's gonna suck.

-- Speaking with Sarah, she reminded me that, as a onetime Brooklynite (before he and Michelle Williams split up), he was somewhat "one of us." I added that, lame as it may sound, after Brokeback, he was one of us too.

-- All the usual platitudes apply here: how much your heart goes out to his family, especially his daughter. How the loss of a young artist pales in comparison to the loss of a young man (28!) who was a father and son and friend. I didn't know him as a father, son, or friend. He was a guy who helped tell me stories on a screen. He ended up telling me a whole lot of stories that made me happy, though, and I'm sad that he won't be able to tell me any more.