Saturday, November 20, 2004

FINDING A "NATIONAL TREASURE:" So is the new Bruckheimer/Cage vehicle "National Treasure" a good movie? No, not really. It's utterly formulaic. We have the intrepid hero (Cage), his doubting father (Jon Voight), the plucky sidekick ("Gigli" refugee Justin Bartha), the love interest/plucky female with critical skills/information (Diane Kruger), the competing treasure hunter (Sean Bean), and the misguided, yet ultimately well-meaning, FBI agent chasing them all (Harvey Keitel). The premise has been beaten to death in promos, so I won't recount here, but it is what it is, and, for what it is, it's entertaining, and Kruger, as a plucky National Archives historian, gets a part that may do for her what Sandra Bullock's part in "Speed" did for her.

I'm sure Adam and Kingsley will have high fun with this one, though, given that there's a lengthy chase sequence through the streets and rooftops of Philadelphia which is assuredly riddled with both geographical inaccuracies and "Hey, it's that place!" moments. Heck, even I wondered how Kruger and Bartha managed to get from Independence Hall to the 9th Street Italian Market in mere seconds on foot.

For those looking for a more intellectual variant on this (and similar works/crazes like "The Da Vinci Code"), check out The Eight, which weaves together the French Revolution, the late 70s oil crisis, and a mystical chess set into a coherent story with one "Holy crap!" reveal 2/3 of the way through the book.
MALICE AT THE PALACE: For those interested in seeing video of the Ron Artest-led Pistons/Pacers/fan brawl from Auburn Hills last night, click here.

It's one of the ugliest such incidents I've ever seen. Artest has some mental health issues that need addressing, and maybe this will force him to do so.

And yet again, another town's sports fans behave worse than Philadelphia's, but we're the only ones with a reputation.

(Also, I didn't notice, but did Darko Milicic even get off the bench for this?)

Friday, November 19, 2004

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS AN AIRBORNE SCROTUM: Saw The Polar Express in IMAX 3D this evening. I really don't have much positive to say about the film--it's a narrative mess with utterly unnecessary sequences including a couple of "roller coaster" sequences inserted just for the visual purposes and a musical performance from Steven Tyler. However, the visual, in IMAX 3D, is absolutely spectacular. The images, which seem flat in TV ads or in a normal 35 mm trailer, jump out of the screen (literally), and decrease the "creepy artificial" issue that has oft been remarked on.

The film nails Van Allsburg's illustration style, at least when there aren't people on screen, and the film looks great. However, Zemeckis should have learned in making Who Framed Roger Rabbit? a lesson he hasn't--the screenplay should drive the technology, not vice versa. Here, it seems like they came up with the technology and the look and then tried to stretch Van Allsburg's short and touching story into something far longer. I think the film might have worked better as a short, just telling the heart of the book rather than the ridiculous plot contrivances that have been introduced.

And yes, while I wouldn't have noticed it before reading the review, Santa's sack does look suspiciously like an airborne scrotum.
UMA BOSHI: I haven't been blogging about America's Next Top Model (After The First Two We Chose) this season because I've been playing the catch-up game for a bit, but, golly, for those who are watching, it's quite a treat. Again. Miss Tyra continues to rock the house (please, please, by 2006 let her and Trump switch shows), and the competition is fun and fierce.

If you can, check out this week's episode, which re-airs on UPN tonight at 9p. It features two of the hardest challenges you'll ever see in a reality show, far more difficult than the Phillipine cliff-rope-climb on TAR5 or a Survivor hands-on-the-idol challenge. Trust me. It's good tv.
THE COPS' FIRST CALL WAS TO THE BUTTERBALL HOTLINE: Or perhaps it should have been in this case involving "turkey hurling." Interestingly, Butterball now calls it the "Butterball Turkey Talk-Line." Of course, there have been more memorable calls to the Hotline in the past.
THE FIRST STEP IS ADMITTING YOU HAVE A PROBLEM: So, I'm reviewing an escrow agreement at the office is the morning, and somehow, I can't resist constantly thinking that "I'm in Es-ca-row!" (Note: I suspect this joke will make no sense to much of our audience even after the link, but that's OK.)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT: With so many of you coming here hoping to find a link to the Nicolette Sheridan and Terrell Owens Monday Night Football towel dropping clip, I figured I might as well deliver. Enjoy.
HE'S SO RONERY: Is life imitating "Team America: World Police?" Apparently, North Korean "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il has gone into seclusion following the death of his beloved consort, and he might well now be singing "I'm so ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sadry arone."
NOTABLE QUOTABLES: According to the AFI, these 400 movie quotes are the top 400 of all time. From "All-righty then!" (from "Ace Ventura") through "What hump?" (from "Young Frankenstein"), it's a collection of moments that you're sure to remember. Some notable omissions? Nothing from "Almost Famous" at all (no "I am a golden god!" or "Opie must die!"), even though writer/director Cameron Crowe scores 5 entries (including three from "Jerry Maguire"). The only line from "Princess Bride" making the cut is "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." with no love for other great lines like "As you wish!," "Inconceivable!," or even "She does not get eaten by the snakes at this time."

Inexplicable finalists include "Good night you princes of Maine, you kings of New England," from "Cider House Rules,""Help me! Help me!," from "The Fly," and "Damn!," from "Friday." I will give them points for not excluding profanity, as John McLane's "Yippee-Kai-Yay, Motherf****r!" has a well-deserved spot on the list of finalists, as does "Sometimes, you gotta say 'What the f**k.'" from "Risky Business."

Trivia (to be answered in the comments)--two performers score perfect in the finals, getting recognition as sole actor, writer, director, and producer for a quote. Can you name them without cheating? Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen both almost make it, but they're not the two.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

VISITOR OF THE DAY: Congratulations to the lucky fan who came across us via a Google Search on "jerry hopes to someday complete the film".

What film? This one, of course.
NELLIE'S GOT THE ST. LUNATICS -- I'VE GOT POOTIE TANG: Few comedians are as insightful or introspective about their craft as Chris Rock is, and this Onion A.V. Club interview proves it again. Here's part of his discussion of his breakthrough Bring the Pain HBO special:

By the time I got to Bring The Pain, I felt like I had a point to prove. I addressed it like it was it, that it might be the only shot I'd get, and I just learned to be relevant. I wanted to really, really make the most of it. And the fact that I was kind of out of show business helped, because that was all I had to do. No movies on the side. No TV. Just hit the road.

Right before I did Bring The Pain, I'm in Atlanta in the Buckhead Mall, buying underwear. And who do I bump into but Andrew "Dice" Clay. And he's buying underwear, too, because we're comedians. We're both from that Sam Kinison school of comedy where you get on a plane with a toothbrush and your coat and you just go. Buy clothes when you get there. So we start talking, and he said, "You're doing an HBO special? Watch Rocky. It'll all come back to you." I'm not going to sit here and talk here about Dice like he's Lenny Bruce or anything, but the guy did get more out of an HBO special than just about anybody in the history of cable. So I watched Rocky, and it did all come back to me. It was weird. Of all the guys to bump into. . . .

Tim McCarver told a story about Steve Carlton. Every now and then, they'd be playing a game, and they'd let certain guys get a hit early in the game because they knew the guy wouldn't try as hard later. That was me. I'd write something funny, and then I wouldn't try as hard the next week on the show. So with Bring The Pain, I just tried to shake all of that shit. I just tried to do the best work I'd ever done.

Worth your time, as the A.V. Club always is.
LIKE A ROLLING STONE? Well, you're not alone, because the Dylan classic has just been named the No. 1 Song of all time by--who else?--Rolling Stone. Rolling Stones get more love, with the group nabbing the No. 2 spot with "Satisfaction." The rest of the top 20, as determined by a blue-ribbon panel of artists and critics: 3. "Imagine" 4. "What's Going On" 5. "Respect" 6. "Good Vibrations" 7. "Johnny B. Goode" 8. "Hey Jude" 9. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" 10. "What'd I Say" 11. "My Generation" 12. "A Change is Gonna Come" 13. "Yesterday" 14. "Blowin' in the Wind" 15. "London Calling" 16. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" 17. "Purple Haze" 18. "Maybellene" 19. "Hound Dog" and 20. "Let It Be." The whole list isn't up yet, but according to various news reports, No. 21 "Born to Run," No. 69 Roy Orbison's "Crying" and No. 169 REM's "Losing My Religion." "I Got You Babe" comes in at No. 444.

Other highlights from the list of 500: The Beatles lead all artists with 23 songs, followed by the Stones (14), Dylan (12) and Elvis (11); the most recent song is 2003's "Hey Ya" at No. 180, with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" (166) and "Stan" (290) being the only other songs on the list from this millennium; 202 of the songs come from the 1960s, 144 from the '70s, and 55 from the '80s; and No. 500 is Boston's "More Than a Feeling," 491 spots behind the song that heavily borrows its guitar line.
KARL MARKED: Having single-handedly convinced 130,000 or so Ohioans that John Kerry intended to allow homosexuals the right to buy Ohio State season tickets, Karl Rove appears to be the front-runner among the short list of candidates for Time's Person of the Year. Beyond Rove, a blue-ribbon panel of Person of the Year judges including itchy blogger Andrew Sullivan, Al Sharpton, and Brian Williams, are said to be considering Michael Moore, Mel Gibson, God, Mohammed, the Terrorist, and Bloggers (!?!). The money here is on Rove, but let us know who you think deserves the honor.
IS THAT A SHARPIE IN YOUR JOCK OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME? The NFL is shocked -- shocked! -- that ABC inappropriately mixed sex and football by running a Desperate Housewives promo featuring Nicolette Sheridan jumping naked into Terrell Owens's arms. According to the NFL, the promo was "unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience." The NFL heartily disapproves of all female sexual objectification that distracts from the overtly homoerotic action on the field.

In completely unrelated news, you can now order your 2005 Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders Lingerie Calendar (featuring: little or no lingerie) on the Eagles' web site. Other lingerie, swimwear, or just plain wee costume calendars and paraphenalia available through Don't forget to visit our sponsors, Coors Light (official panderer of the Coors Light Twins) and Miller Lite (proud sponsor of catfights).
NOW THAT'S CROSS-PROMOTION: The IcelandAir website tells you everything you need to know if you want to visit Iceland and "trace the race" yourself.

I remember reading somewhere that last season's trip to The Philippines was as a result of lobbying from the country's tourism bureau, and I don't have any quarrel with that. Where they send the Racers has no impact on the outcome (save some kind of 'I grew up there' thing, though that didn't Racers in consecutive final legs), and it's not like they're going to send people anyplace uninteresting or non-photogenic. No matter how much lek they send Bertram van Munster, the Race isn't coming to Albania anytime soon . . .
H.O.P.E. IS ON THE WAY: Fair readers, I give you H.O.P.E. (that's the "Horrifed Observers of Pedestrian Entertainment"). Among H.O.P.E.'s recent activities?

1. Offering an exchange service for owners of "low entertainment quality" CD's from Ashlee Simpson and other comparable artists for "one of a higher entertainment quality" courtesy of Rhino Records. Given that I (sadly) own a copy of Creed's "Human Clay," can I trade it in and get "Smile?"

2. Protesting Paris Hilton's book tour, with the slogan of "Read a Book, Don't Write One!" Other signs waved included "Why Are You Famous?," "Prose Before Ho's," and "You Can't Buy Brain Cells."

3. And, yes, protesting to make sure viewers were informed about the low quality of the film "Taxi."

More information is available in this news article. Suggested future targets for H.O.P.E. seem likely to include "Christmas With The Kranks," the new book and Christmas album from Clay Aiken, and all things relating to VH1's series "The Surreal Life." You know of things that H.O.P.E. should target? That's what the comments are for.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

DUDE, YOU LOOK LIKE A SMURF: Oh, it's good to have The Race back. Without giving too much away to our West Coast friends, here's some of the highlights of Episode 6.1:

--All that driving time just meant that there was plenty of time for us to see the teammates interact with each other. Smart thinking.

--I've never hated a reality competitor as much as I hate Entrepeneur Jonathan right now. He and his wife are to TaraWil what TaraWil is to Chip and Kim.

--As amusing as "It's so cold, my implants are frozen!" was to hear, there are no words that stir a Race fan's memories quite like "Do we need diesel or gas?"

--I'm so glad to see Survivor Vanuatu's Rory back in a reality competition so soon. Dude needs a belt, however. Seriously.

--The Yield appears to be gone. No FF shown in this leg, either, but that's not unusual for leg one. No Road Block, though? Odd.

--As far as The Team That Got Eliminated is concerned, they took the road less traveled by -- literally -- and that made all the difference. Almost every stage of the competition is about Not Being Last, which means Not Fucking Up And Taking Stupid Risks, and they did that, twice, and earned their early exit.

There's no one I'm particularly rooting for, yet. Maybe Team Hellboy. You? And any other observations or proposed team nicknames, the floor is yours.
THE TODDLER-PARENT-NO-FAMILY-IN-TOWN-BABYSITTERS-REALLY-EXPENSIVE OSCARS(r): With Ray kicking off the Oscar(r)-begging season, Spacewoman and I are handicapping the Spacescars -- like the Oscars(r), only limited to movies we've seen. Using the comma in this sentence as the point at which there will be no more ado, the big winners:
Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles
Best Animated Short Subject: Boundin'
Best Picture: Mean Girls
Best Foreign-Language Film: That part of Mean Girls where Lacey Chabert speaks Chinese*

The nominees in each category were, respectively: The Incredibles, Boundin', Mean Girls, and Mean Girls. I'm not giving out any acting awards yet, but if I were, I would strongly urge Tim Meadows to show up.

But surely you have better suggestions in this Oscar(r)-poor year. Do you agree with the radio men that there are no real Oscar(r)-worthy films this year? Tell it to the comments.

*Edited to reflect Matt's comment that Hero is not eligible in the foreign-language film category this year.

Monday, November 15, 2004

THE BIRDS AND THE SPELLING BEES: Anyone in NYC with $75 to burn and nothing better to do this evening (a demographic that does not include me) may be well served by heading over to "A Good Spell," tonight's charity spelling bee for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Competitors range from the highbrow (Mya "Bee Season" Goldberg) to the exceedingly lowbrow (Lauren "The Devil Wears Prada" Weisberger).

In the decidedly less literary sweepstakes, Wonkette has our first look at Jessica "Washingtonienne" Cutler's upcoming novel, titled simply, "The Washingtonienne." No word on whether Ms. Cutler will attempt to compete with Toni Bentley in the overexposure sweepstakes, though.
FORECAST: THERE WON'T BE SNOW IN AFRICA (AGAIN) THIS CHRISTMASTIME: The BBC gives its full team-coverage treatment to Band Aid 20, the name given to the re-recording of 1984's "Do They Know It's Christmas." The only musician from 1984 reprising his role is some guy named Bono, who flew in to contribute the line he made famous the first time around: "Well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you." This go round, though, instead of George Michael, Boy George, and Bananarama, the song features Thom Yorke, Chris Martin, and Dido, and many more.

And in other Bob Geldoff-led musician famine relief effort news, the four-disc DVD of Live Aid has been released. Alas, according to an review, 85 songs are missing from the DVD set, including whole sets by several artists like Power Station, Led Zeppelin (refused to grant the rights to their crappy performance), Rick Springfield, and sadly, The Hooters. Resumedly some day there will be an eight-disc set to buy that will include the Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now," Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave," Style Council's "You're the Best Thing," and both "And We Danced" and "All You Zombies."
ONLY ONE MAN COULD PLAY GEORGE W. BUSH: And it's not Will Ferrell. (Warning: Quicktime movie contains extremely inoffensive but unmistakably left-leaning editing. Rated G for general audiences.)
TRUMP WOULD HAVE ACTED MUCH MORE SWIFTLY: Yes, you can get fired for failing to sell a sufficient number of wedding dresses, for being incompetent with handling dogs, or for hiring an incompetent contractor. But those aren't guaranteed to provoke as much anger as interrupting "CSI: NY." The ill-fated decision by a CBS exec to inform viewers of Yasir Arafat's death rather than how Det. Mac Taylor resolved the crime has led to his firing. Still not fired? John Ellis, the man who called Florida for Fox News at 2 AM on election night 2000.
RETURN OF THE EXPOSITION HANDS: At (short) last, The Amazing Race 6 debuts Tuesday night at 9p eastern.

There's not much more I can do to promote this show than what we've all already said here. Beyond being the best reality competition on tv, it is perhaps the best drama and best comedy as well.

Meet the teams. Predict a winner. And come back after the show to talk.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

O.D.B. IS D.O.A.: Sad news from the hip hop world today, as Ol' Dirty Bastard, a/k/a Big Baby Jesus, Osiris Siris, Dirt McGirt and Russell Jones, collapsed and died yesterday in a recording studio. He was 35, and leaves behind 13 children.

Beyond the music, most of us will remember him for bumrushing the stage at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Upset that the Wu-Tang Clan had lost a rap award to Puff Daddy, he interrupted Shawn Colvin's attempted acceptance speech for another award and declaimed the following: "I went and bought me an outfit today that cost me a lot of money, because I figured that Wu-Tang was gonna win. I don't know how you all see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best. I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all, peace."

They will be pouring some off at the O.D.B. McDonald's tonight.