Friday, May 06, 2005

Throwdown 5/6

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. It’s big news that in the new book about Steve Jobs, iCon, Michael Eisner reveled in his belief that Finding Nemo would fail at the box office and give Disney the upper hand in contract negotiations with Pixar. Wow, that’s an amazing brand new revelation that I read five months ago in DisneyWar! Little faster on the draw next time, alright?

2. Jennifer Lopez has dropped her plans to write a book, because she thinks no one would buy it. Finally, a celebrity makes the right choice.

3. David Schwimmer needs to work constantly because, when he’s not working, he gets severe depression. Dude, if you were David Schwimmer, wouldn’t you be depressed, too?

4. Paris Hilton feels she’s accomplished everything she can and now she needs to have children to feel complete. I swear I don’t even have a joke for that–it’s enough of a joke on its own.

5. Fred Durst, shut the fuck up. I know you didn’t have sex with Jessica Simpson, I know you didn’t have sex with Christina Aguilera, and you probably haven’t had much sex that you didn’t pay for. What is your obsession with telling the world about your sex life and your sex fantasies with scads of celebrities? Why are you at parties trying to feel up Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Ashlee Simpson? You’re so fucking gross and you reek of desperation. And you probably leaked that "stolen" sex tape just to prove to the world that you’re having sex. Take your shitty music and your hideous ass, go away and SHUT THE FUCK UP!

6. Lots of American Idol fallout going on as the Fox spin doctors try to convince us that the show has any claim to reality and the winners aren’t picked out far in advance. Seriously, does anyone still think their vote matters in any instance in life? Trust me, look at the way the auditions are taped–the people they spend the most time with are 98% of the time the people who end up in the top 12. And why? Because all of this time spent learning backstory and identifying with people influences the voters to vote for them. Why did season two come down to Clay and Ruben? Because they were both underdogs, and Fox knew that people love to root for underdogs. Fantasia won because she has the perfect rags-to-riches story: high school dropout, single mother, and of course, she broke her shoe. And this season? Well, Scott eventually had to go, because they don’t want the American Idol to be some ugly dude that beats his baby mama. Carrie will probably win just because she comes across like a nice girl and didn’t have enough cocaine on her to choke a blue whale, like Bo Bice reportedly did once. Come on, it’s all marketing, and marketing people don’t care what America thinks–they tell America what to think. And by the way, does it seem like the judges, the management, and the douche bag (that would be Seacrest) are much more hostile this year? Like they’re just beating these people over the head emotionally to keep them in line. Weird. Either way, the career of exactly everyone who has ever been an American Idol contestant has been totally useless, so who really gives a shit about the outcome, anyway?

7. "First," the lead-off track on Lindsay Lohan’s album Speak, is going to be the single for Herbie: Fully Loaded. Disney really wants the single for their new film to be a song where Lindsay croons to her lover "I want to come first"? Yeah, sure it’s not a double-entendre.

8. Against all medical advice, I saw The Phantom of the Opera, one of the most boring movies in the history of man. Remember when people had to be able to sing in musicals. Well, we've gotten rid of that...

9. Eileen Atkins, the great 70-year-old British actress, says that she recently turned down casual sex with Colin Farrell. That may be the most heartwarming story of the week. Godspeed, good lady.

10. Lindsay Lohan out shopping. Ouch. Her short day as a sex symbol is long over. I don't want to say a word that rhymes with "klo klane," but you know...

11. I never watched Boy Meets World, but I remember that my manager at Hollywood Video lusted after the underage Danielle Fishel, who played a girl named Topanga. Anyway, there she is on the left, all grown up now. Child actors...they always grow up to be sexy girls who exploit themselves. Anyone seen Jodie Sweetin from Full House lately? Ye gods!

12. What is Mia Tyler so very interested in?

13. You know, there was a brief moment there when Anna Nicole Smith was REALLY interesting. Now she's just another skinny blonde alcoholic.

14. Do these look fake to you? Because I could swear to heaven they're fake. They don't quite sit right.

15. True, it was about Willie Nelson, but I had to smile when I read the headline "Jessica Simpson Thrills Willie with Birthday Treat." My birthday's in July, and my willie is always up for a thrill, if she's feeling up to it... I'm sorry, that was terrible.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Stupid, Stupid Movie

Conversation not to accidentally have with your mom just before mother's day.

Me: "So, I saw National Treasure last night..."

Mom: "See, wasn't it good? I really liked that movie."

Me: "Eh, it was okay. Cute-ish. But it was mostly pretty stupid and ridiculous."

Mom: "It was a fun movie."

Me: "Well, I could see how it might be liked by people we might call 'less discerning.'"

Mom: "'We'? Who is 'we'?"

Me: "You know, smart people."

I also remember sitting at one point, watching Nicolas Cage discern the meaning of ludicrous clues in his ludicrous wig with all of the idiot panache of those lame old Batman episodes, and suddenly blurting out to my girlfriend: "Wow--so this is what dumb people imagine thinking is like!"

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Great Zarquod--It Doesn't Suck!


All I can say about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is this: it's the most perfect version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy imaginable. The radio series? Much better. The BBC miniseries? Miles better. The novel? Oh, please, darling. This is it. This is the most remarkable movie about the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing houses of Ursa Minor. This is THE one. The story that Douglas Adams was working toward has finally, finally been told.

It's all there, only moreso. Trillian, easily the most useless character, finally has a reason to exist. Connections are lain down and, finally, come to a point. Adams's philosophical bits come out much better and much more profoundly. Unlike the novel, the story feels complete, to a purpose, and emotional. Finally, everything makes sense. Let's face it, the story always felt like it was lacking a central idea--after the Vogons, Adams seemed to lose interest and let it go, simply novelizing his radio play and leaving it at that. Now, the whole story has a plot, a central through-line, and is worth following. And it has Bill Nighy in it!

The cast is spot-on. Martin Freeman is a perfectly ordinary, almost noble Arthur Dent. Mos Def, one of the better rapper-actors, is nicely understated--Ford Prefect doesn't have much more to do than explain things in the novel, so it's nice that he's a little offbeat without being too theatrically weird. Sam Rockwell plays Zaphod Beeblebrox like a rock star, a little bit of a Bowie influence, some Marc Bolan. He manages to play it with Bill Murray's trademark insincere sincerity, not begging for laughs as some others might have done. Warwick Davis's slow movements are affecting for Marvin the Paranoid Android, and Alan Rickman's voice is a welcome match. Bill Nighy is like another Christopher Lee for me--always welcome, always excellent, and his mere presence makes any movie automatically better (even if it already sucks). Stephen Fry does the voice of the Guide (some excellent animated segments here), and Anna Chancellor has fun as the Galactic Vice President. The jokes about beauracracy are hilarious.

But the real discovery for me was Zooey Deschanel. I've liked her in several movies now, but most often I see her in things like The Good Girl, where she has some funny lines but not much else to do. Here, she's the heart of the entire film, playing her emotional scenes with such genuine, heartbreaking honesty. It's an excellent performance from an emerging actress that, for me, would have been enough even if the rest of the film had sucked. And, apart from that, she's adorable.

The British seem to be correct, though: it might be too smart, or at least too English, for American audiences. I notice that the co-writer, Karey Kirkpatrick, also wrote Chicken Run, another movie which was too English for Americans. The humor in Adams's novel was never wild or fast-paced; it was the gentle humor of the English countryside observing the folly of the politicians, businessmen, and philosophers of the world. And the gentleness of the humor is refreshing, almost affirming. I ask Roger Ebert what would have been better: the quaint message of hope for humanity and the power of the mind and heart to raise us from our pettiness, or the high-pitched 1941 screaming of the muddled American comedy? The last thing we need is another badly done science fiction spoof.

I thought it was excellent, without grovelling to be liked. Go see it, my fellow Earthlings, and have a mellow, hip, froody time. It doesn't come along very often.


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Sunday Hottie 13


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