Friday, December 2, 2011

NOT SINCE PROPERTY CLASS: A lot of folks are likely to see The Descendants because of its Oscar buzz, and some because of its trailer, which erroneously sells it as a madcap comedy, and some brave souls may now be more interested in seeing it knowing that it invokes the Rule Against Perpetuities as a major plot point. I really admired parts of it, particularly the performances from George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, and a surprising dramatic turn from Judy Greer, but I found myself unsatisfied by the end--without spoiling things here (though the comments are fair game)--it seems we're building to a moment of catharsis, and then, instead, we opt to end in a moment of quiet. In that way, it reminds me of Payne's prior About Schmidt, which ended not with Nicholson exploding, but with a moment of peace.

It also seemed to polarize the audience, with some applause at the end (seemingly primarily from the older set), but a fair number of folks grumbling that it was the worst thing they'd seen in a while. I find myself in the middle, though the older folks may drive it to a few nominations (screenplay and Clooney seem the naturals).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FINALLY, I'LL GET TO GO TO CASA BONITA! With its oft-juvenile humor and heavily male fan base, South Park would seem a natural for a video game (and a few have been done in the past). However, I wasn't expecting the next effort to be an RPG with writing/voice from Parker and Stone from the folks who've previously given us KOTOR II, Neverwinter Nights II, and Fallout: New Vegas. This could either be fascinating or a complete and utter mess.
TALE AS OLD AS TIME: I see the new trailer for Disney's adaptation of John Carter is out. I'm reasonable excited for this, although coming in the heels of Avatar it will look derivative of, rather than the source, of one of the great tropes of science fiction: Earthman leads native aliens against their oppressors.

I am more curious, however, about the decision of Disney to restyle "Princess of Mars" as "John Carter." Perhaps they did not want to get Dejah Thoris mixed in with the pantheon of Belle, Cinderella and Ariel. Understandably, since Dejah Thoris would have slit Gaston's throat before dawn and gutted the Beast before he'd ever had a chance to explain himself.
CAN IT: Sensitive to consumer concerns, Coca-Cola will be dumping the white holiday cans which it had created for its primary soda because they were confusing too many people who thought they were being served Diet Coke -- so much so that the company had to issue a fact sheet to help folks tell them apart.
SUPPLEMENTAL EGOT WATCH: For years, there've been efforts to revive or remake Jimmy Stewart classic Harvey either on stage or on screen, but they've fallen apart, with the closest to fruition being a Spielberg-directed version that would star either Tom Hanks or Robert Downey, Jr. We're finally going to get a version next summer, though, with Emmy winner Jim Parsons filling Elwood's shoes. I'm not sold, in part because his performance as Sheldon is so amazing and so utterly different from Elwood P. Dowd, but if he can pull it off, it'll be an impressive display of range.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

GOD MAY MAKE NO MISTAKES, BUT THESE FOLKS SURE DO: Here are your nominees for the 2012 Grammy Awards, now with fewer categories than before!  Quick bullets:

  • A whole lot of Adele going on.
  • Possibly getting closer to EGOT: Tina Fey, Trey Parker/Matt Stone, Daniel Radcliffe.
  • How the hell did Kanye not get nominated for Album of the Year? How can you have a Record of the Year category without one Lady Gaga song?
ONLY A KID, BUT HARD TO SCARE:  Finalists for the role of Éponine in the Crowe-Jackman Les MisĂ©rables appear to be Scarlett Johansson, Evan Rachel Wood, Lea Michele, and Taylor Swift.

And remember, Isaac: they already cast Anne Hathaway (as Fantine).
THEY'D NEVER CANCEL IT--IT'S A CROSSOVER HIT! It's not confirmed yet, but it's heavily rumored that provided ratings/acclaim hold up, HBO will renew Game of Thrones for two more seasons shot back to back, which would cover the third novel and limit the issues posed by child actors aging out of their parts, as well as giving some breathing room for Martin to finish the last two books before the show gets there. If that model works, I wouldn't be surprised to see it followed by a 3 season renewal which mashed up books 4 and 5 over three seasons.
YOU'VE GOT MIDGETS VIOLATING A TRANNY. I THOUGHT IT WAS HYSTERICAL, BUT MTV DIDN'T:  I am greatly enjoying my read through the new oral history of MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, which both tells the business story (and how the "I Want My MTV" campaign was crucial in getting cable operators to pick up the network) as well as its discussion of the videos themselves, whether it's the homoerotic content in Billy Joel's "Allentown" video, or the generally fucked-up nature of Van Halen's "Pretty Woman," the section on which you can read here.
OF COURSE, WE HAPPENED TO BE IN OUR WHITE PANTS: You should be listening to Slate's Hang Up and Listen sports podcast anyway, but especially this week because Stefan Fatsis's discussion of the Nick Novak incident uncovers more than a few seconds of panic from athletes in other sports, including these football tales compiled by WIP host Anthony Gargano for a 2010 book.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SCREW YOUR COURAGE TO THE STICKING-PLACE, AND WE'LL NOT FAIL:  Alan Cumming is Macbeth.  And Lady Macbeth. And Banquo, MacDuff, and everyone else in a one-man production of the Scottish play he'll bring to Lincoln Center next July.
AND, REALLY, HOW BAD CAN IT BE WHEN THE GUY WHO PLAYED MIKE DEXTER IN CAN'T HARDLY WAIT IS A VAMPIRE DOCTOR AND ELDER STATESMAN?  Say what you will about the Twilight films -- and let's be honest, we basically only invoke the sparklevamps here to complain about EW's excessive coverage thereof -- but as NYMag's Kyle Buchanan points out, at least unlike other blockbusters it thoroughly passes the Bechdel Test.
THE MAVERICK: Various SI writers are posting essays on their favorite 2011 athletes, but can anyone realistically win Sportsman of the Year 2011 other than Dirk Nowitzki?

Amended: Okay, I forgot Aaron Rodgers isn't just having this great regular season, but won the Super Bowl earlier this year. Equally worthy pick.  I still prefer Dirk.

(Others suggested in an SI poll include Aaron Rodgers, Pat Summitt, Albert Pujols, Novak Djokovic, and Hope Solo.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

VERY GOOD. HAPPY CHRISTMAS!  Just added to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln biopic starring Daniel Day-Lewis: Mad Men's Jared Harris (Lane Pryce) is Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.  (He's also co-starring as Moriarty in the new Sherlock Holmes film.)

With Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as assassination magnet Robert Todd Lincoln; Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens; and David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

BANG BANG! Whether it's Stevie Johnson's celebration or the Continued Miracle of Tim Tebow or Nick Novak doing what one needs to do, feel free to discuss any of the NFL games this weekend other than the one I attended.
SEGEL'S CORE MISTAKE IS TO PUSH THE MUPPETS TO THE MARGINS IN A MOVIE DESIGNED TO GIVE THEM THE SPOTLIGHT:  One of the House Next Door contributors didn't like The Muppets, following the headline with this statistic:
Case in point: Of the more than 20 songs in Henson’s three Muppet movies, only one of them has a non-Muppet performer (“Piggy’s Fantasy” in Caper, in which Kermit vies with a voice-dubbed Charles Grodin, which is part of the joke). Yet of the six original songs in Segel’s film, only one of them is Muppets-only. One.
Also, he doesn't care for "We Built This City." Conceded.