Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Fundamental Difference Between Me and My Gal

Last night we're watching television, and on comes the commercial for the movie BloodRayne, the new film from Uwe Boll (of House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark) based on the computer game or video game or comic book or whatever the fuck screenwriter's shorthand it's based on. I'm lost by the time Michael Madsen shows up as a swordfighter.

Becca: "That... looks so..."

Me: "I know, stupid."

Becca: "Awesome!"

Me: "What? In what possible universe can you look at that movie and think it looks good?"

Becca: "Dude, the only way it could be more awesome is if it had Billy Zane in it!"

A little piece of me weeps as I wonder if I should just be glad she didn't say Christopher Lambert. Posted by Picasa

UPDATE: At the request of Becca, I should point out that she didn't know at the time she said it might be good that Uwe Boll had made the film. When I mentioned it this evening, quoth she (in a disappointed tone of voice): "Oh, God, Uwe Boll made it? I thought it was going to be fun bad, not bad bad!"


"Like CrossWorlds."


Maybe she'll finally put up that new Action Figure Theater with Lindsay Lohan and the Muppets, and all will be forgiven...

El Esta Aqui, el Fantasma de la Opera!

This morning, I found myself idly flipping my HBO channels, when I happened to catch the beginning of Joel Schumacher's terrible version of Andrew Lloyd Weber's The Phantom of the Opera on HBO Latin. This is a movie I absolutely hated, but I found myself riveted to the Spanish-dubbed version (which, apparently, was dubbed by the actors who performed the stage production in Madrid). First off, the heightened reading of the Spanish actors was more in-line with the unitentionally comic, ridiculous sets and direction. The funnier characters--Andre, Firmin, Carlotta--actually come off as funny, for example. The actors give the characters a sort of mad energy that is completely missing from Schumacher's dull, listless film.

Secondly, the singing is...well, it's singing! The major problem with the film (how to pick one from so many?) is that the ability to sing and emote through music takes a second place to acting ability. Which normally wouldn't matter to me, except that the film is a musical! Granted, it isn't an overly good one, but nonetheless, the music is the entire point of the story; it's the medium through which the actions, emotions, and characters are communicated. But in the movie, not only is the music too slow (too compensate for weak vocal ability, I assume), but too many lines of lyric are spoken and emoted rather than sung. When you do this, you stop the entire flow of the song and make the other lyrics sound meaningless. If you do that, what's the point of the film?

The Spanish actors concede to this idiot conceit of Joel Schumacher, but their singing is just so much better. Juan Carlos Barona plays the Phantom like a manlier version of the original, Michael Crawford, rather than blustering and ripping his way through the music like Gerard Butler, who tries to simply beat the music into submission by overpowering it. When Barona sings "Music of the Night," he makes it sound seductive and appealing, rather than just creepy. Julia Möeller plays Christine with a mixture of innocence and burgeoning sexual awareness that blows Emmy Rossum of the screen. That's the second major problem with the film: Emmy Rossum. Seeing the movie again really did cement my opinion that, frankly, there is no less talented and less attractive young woman on the screen today than Emmy Rossum. Come back, Keira Knightley, all is forgiven! Save me from the dead-eyed uggmo that is Emmy! This was the most important role in the film to cast, and Schumacher and Weber decided to go with a girl who sings with the force of a laryngitic mouse in a wind tunnel. I don't know at what point they decided singing ability wasn't actually important to the lead role in a musical, but they went from considering Charlotte Church and Anne Hathaway (the perfect choice) to coming this close to casting Katie Holmes (Schumacher, who apparently has not seen the unfortunate episodes of Dawson's Creek where they let Ms. Holmes "sing," decided that the major problem with her was that she was too old).

Quick digression: they were going to make this movie in 1990 with the original cast members, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Then Weber and Brightman got divorced, and the movie was put on hold, apparently so Weber could punish Brightman with the loss of a potential defining screen role.

Anyway, if you like the music but hate the film, I highly recommend the passionate Spanish dubbing that, in some ways, is superior to the original cast recording. If you haven't seen the film and are planning on watching it in English, guarde su mano en el nivel de sus oidos.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My Dad Either Invents Snowboarding, Teaches Me a Valuable Lesson, or Just Acts Like a Jackass

This Christmas, my sister Jayne brought up one of her favorite stories about our father; the time he sprained his neck when we were sledding. I think I was eleven or so at the time, making Jayne eight. Like in most suburban neighborhoods, there was one high hill that everyone used for sledding when the snow was good, and luckily for us, it was only about a third of a mile from our house. For a long time we had this really nice, old wooden sled, but for some reason, we ended up getting those crappy little sleds that roll up like a carpet. They go faster, sure, but you also have to feel every bump jab at you on the way down.

Well, Jayne and I were going down the hill together on the same sled, and my dad decided to be Mr. Cool and surf down the hill on his sled. "Look!" Jayne yelled as we were a quarter of the way down; I turned to the left and there was Dad, surfing down the hill and smiling like an idiot, apparently thinking that his children thought he was the coolest guy in the world. He sailed smoothly all the way to the bottom of the hill, then came to a sudden stop in front of a snow drift, lost his footing, and dove headfirst into a big bank of snow. Which, to an eleven year-old, is instantly hilarious. Actually, I'm twenty-nine now, and it still makes me laugh. Jackass.

So, my dad pulls himself out and decides that's enough for the day. Then he takes us home, leaves us with our mom, and drives himself to the hospital. We could already tell he had hurt himself, because a big bruise was forming on his neck. Do you realize what a man driving himself to the hospital does to a kid? I knew I wasn't going to be able to cry when I hurt myself anymore, because here was my father, possibly with a broken neck, driving himself to the hospital. When he came back, he had a big, fuzzy neckbrace, and non-chalantly mentioned that he had sprained his neck earlier. He decided not to give us enough info to make the connection between his sledding accident and his current condition.

Now my dad likes to alternately say that he either invented snowboarding or that he was teaching my sister and I a valuable lesson in safety. Either way, it's one of the funniest things I can call on to show people what an obnoxious ass my father can be. Why do you think I'm such a prick?