Thursday, June 28, 2007

Porter Wagoner: "Committed to Parkview"

I've just had a week of whiskey, women, and song in Nashville, and have to share some of its bounties. There is quality music blaring around every corner, and one such (large) corner was at the Grand Ole Opry, the live radio show that's been broadcasting since 1925. One of the main attractions this past Saturday was Porter Wagoner, the 79 year old country icon. He was the host of "The Porter Wagoner Show" from 1960 to 1979, and has been a member of the Opry since '57. He launched the career of Dolly Parton when he hired her as his "girl singer" for the show, and has had a slew of hits in a gospel vein.

On his new album, "Wagonmaster", he recorded a track that Johnny Cash wrote for him 25 years ago, when he discovered that both Wagoner and himself had spent time at the Nashville sanitorium. Produced by neo-traditionalist Marty Stuart, it seems to have the bare-bones aesthetic of the Cash/Rick Rubin American series. Wagoner's stage presence is marked by his goofy amiability (and his garishly wonderful Nudie suits), so this dark piece of Americana comes as a bracing surprise. Watch the video, enjoy the Nudie suit (it appears late!), and visit Nashville. I'd recommend checking out the Station Inn, the Bluebird Cafe, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Also: listen to John Loudermilk. Specifically, listen to "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye".

YouTubeArt: 100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

This is brilliant.

Interesting News: Spike Lee Comes to Broadway

This one had slipped under my radar, so I'm posting a link here to the article in The New York Times. Spike Lee's directing his first Broadway production, a revival of the play Stalag 17 which Billy Wilder turned into one of his best and most underappreciated movies:

“Although he has never worked in the theater and couldn’t recall the last play he attended, Mr. Lee, in an interview this week, said the idea of doing stage work was not completely foreign to him..."I just don’t want to do the old okey-doke thing, dust off some old piece and make a revival,” Mr. Lee said. “If I’m going to make this venture, this debut to the stage, I have to try to come up with some things that are going to make it interesting for me.”

I'd probably be interested in any play Lee chose to direct — but the addition of a fine source material and the chance to compare Lee's interests with Wilder's, one of my favorite directors (and, apparently, one of Lee's) makes this a must-see, or at least a must-wait-and-see depending on the reviews. Look for the show Spring '08.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

This review contains SPOILERS that will ruin certain plot details — though reading it and learning these details might actually be preferrable to seeing the movie and SPOILING your day.

A couple weeks ago, my good friend Mike Anderson and I got into an argument about the merits of reviewing mainstream cinematic abominations, with the recent Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer as our example. Turns out, that movie, though thoroughly mediocre in its own right, isn't quite as bad as expected (and, in fact, is slightly better than the original). The movie we should have been railing against, instead, is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I see that Mr. Anderson did see this film and was remarkably and uncharacteristically kind to it. Pity. The only positive part of my viewing experience was the theater's air conditioning. The movie is offensive to blacks, Asians, and people who defended the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl.

At World's End is utterly incomprehensibile. For the most part, I could tell you what happened in it, but I couldn't really explain why. Then again, there are some scenes and some elements that remain a mystery to me. Why, for instance, are there multiple Jack Sparrows in a few scenes? And how, exactly, did Captain Barbossa come back from the dead? Why do we see Davy Jones hanging out on land if, as the movie tells us, he can never do that? How, I might add, is the British Empire operating in tandem with this giant, heartless octopus guy? After two movies staring at this hideous character, I still have no idea of the extent of Davy Jones' powers, his curse, his duties, his crew. Reading his Wikipedia page, I see all this information that was totally unclear, vague, or non-existant within the movie itself. If I'd been handed a printout of this before I slogged through three never-ending hours of this stuff, maybe I could have made heads or tails of it.

Despite the fact that nearly all the main characters from the first Pirates reappear here, At World's End seems totally unconnected from its predecessor. The Curse of the Black Pearl was funny and exciting. It was light on its feet and it was genuinely entertaining. At World's End is a bloated collection of at times startlingly beautiful effects shots, edited seemingly at random without a care for narrative cohesion or clarity. There isn't a single sword fight in At World's End until almost two and a half hours into the picture. Wasn't this series about sword fights at one point? Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) gives a rousing speech near the end of the picture, that signifies everything that's wrong with this movie. It's loud and aggressive and inspiring, like something out of Braveheart. But this is Pirates, and they seem to have forgotten that. The franchise's most beloved character, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), doesn't even appear onscreen for the first fourth of the running time, but then, since he's actually dead when the film begins, that's actually kind of impressive.

Yes, for those who skipped the previous Dead Man's Chest, dear old Captain Jack died in a battle with a ferocious sea creature called the Kraken, a supposedly unkillable creature that is found totally dead in the third picture — whoopsie!! Did I say unkillable? I meant, like, totally killable! Jack's crew and his hated enemy (who was dead but isn't anymore for reasons left to our imaginations) Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) set out to rescue him from Davy Jones' Locker by sailing their ship off a waterfall and waking up on an island. Then they capsize their ship and are retransported back to our world. Uh huh.

The crew, no doubt, has a very good reason to go through all of this to rescue Jack. Pity director Gore Verbinski and writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio never bother to remind us what that reason is. I guess when your movie runs 175 minutes without that information, there's just no time for stuff like that. I think it has to do with his "magic" compass which he almost gives to one character and then doesn't, then gives to another character who, in turn, gives it to the first character, who then gives it back to Jack.

I don't have a problem with the heavy supernatural bent to At World's End (and, to a lesser degree, to Dead Man's Chest). Those who cite only that in their criticism of the film are forgetting just how supernatural the original Pirates was (they were all ghost, uh, skeleton dudes, or whatever). Rather, what I object to is the fact that all these supernatural elements are given rules that change constantly whenever the screenplay demands. Sometimes things do some things, other times they do others. A good supernatural movie (like, say, the first Pirates) establishes the rules of its universe and plays fair, because to break those rules is to cheat the audience. POTC: AWE thinks that revising something they'd previously established is giving the audience the added value of a twist. But it eliminates the validity of everything that's come before it, and gives the impression that whatever'd come before was just a massive waste of time.

I got that feeling a lot during this movie. Let me ask you this: if two — maybe even three, depending upon your definition — of your characters can come back from then dead, what's stopping the rest of them from doing so as well? And if death means nothing, why should I care about whether the characters live or die? I shouldn't, and in this case, I didn't and if you saw it, you wouldn't either.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A look at AFI's New 100 Years... 100 Movies List

Last week, whilst I was out of town on business, the AFI released a 10 year anniversary updated edition of their original 100 Years... 100 Movies list. I can remember watching the original when it first aired on television. I can remember feeling the swell of pride that came with having already seen Citizen Kane, the poll's pick for the best American film of all time ("It is the best," I can remember thinking. "This proves it."). I can remember printing out a copy of the list and trying to see the films I hadn't yet encountered — and not getting very far.

AFI's website seems to want you to go through a great deal of rigmarole to simply access the list, so I recommend Wikipedia's page on the subject which has both the original rankings and the updated ones side by side for comparison. The differences are fascinating -- at least to me. I love this kind of stuff. Let's break it down.

There are 23 new members of the list: The General (#18, 1927), Intolerance (#49, 1916), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (#50, 2001), Nashville (#59, 1975), Sullivan's Travels (#61, 1941), Cabaret (#63, 1972), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (67, 1966), Saving Private Ryan (#71, 1998), The Shawshank Redemption (#72, 1994), In the Heat of the Night (#75, 1967), All the President's Men (#77, 1976), Spartacus (#81, 1960), Sunrise (#82, 1927), Titanic (#83, 1997), A Night at the Opera (#85, 1935), 12 Angry Men (#87, 1957), The Sixth Sense (#89, 1999), Swing Time (#90, 1936), Sophie's Choice (#91, 1982), The Last Picture Show (#95, 1971), Do the Right Thing (#96, 1989), Blade Runner (#97, 1982), Toy Story (#99, 1995)

And, accordingly, 23 films that no longer made the cut: Doctor Zhivago (#39, 1965), The Birth of a Nation (#44, 1915), From Here to Eternity (#52, 1953), Amadeus (#53, 1984), All Quiet on the Western Fron (#54, 1930), The Third Man (#57, 1949), Fantasia (#58, 1940), Rebel Without a Cause (#59, 1955), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (#64, 1977), Stagecoach (#63, 1939), The Manchurian Candidate (#67, 1962), An American in Paris (#68, 1951), Wuthering Heights (#73, 1939), Dances With Wolves (#75, 1990), Giant (#82, 1956), Fargo (#85, 1996), Mutiny on the Bounty (#86, 1935), Frankenstein (#87, 1931), Patton, (#89, 1970), The Jazz Singer (#90, 1927), My Fair Lady (#91, 1964), A Place in the Sun (#92, 1951), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (#99, 1967).

Of those lists I find mistakes that have been corrected (leaving Sullivan's Travels off, while having Amadeus on, for example) and new mistakes that will need adjusting in another ten years (The Sixth Sense yes and An American in Paris no?). I have no idea what differences, if any, rest in the voting bodies that determined these two polls. Regardless, I think we still discern a few signs of the times just from this part of the poll: a decrease in interest, for example, in the works of James Dean (both Rebel Without a Cause and Giant get the heave-ho) and sweeping epics (Doctor Zhivago and From Here to Eternity).

Of course, this does not take into account what might be discerned from movies that stayed on list but swapped their positions (interestingly, only three movies remained in exactly the same position as before: Citizen Kane [#1, 1941], The Godfather Part II [#32, 1974], and The Best Years of Our Lives [#37, 1946]). Five films made gains of at least fifty spots, indicating their increasingly canonical status, The General (the highest ranked film to miss the list last time, meaning a jump of at least 82 spots), City Lights (1931, up 65 spots) Vertigo (1958, up 52 spots), Intolerance (up 51 spots, though ironically, Griffith's prior appearance on the list The Birth of a Nation disappeared this time around) and, most obviously, the single biggest spot-jumper, The Searchers, (1956) up a whopping 84 spots to #12. Going to NYU, it was essentially agreed upon that Ford's The Searchers was one of the best two or three Westerns -- if not films -- ever made, and you need to understand that in that environment, NOTHING was agreed upon except the fact that The Searchers was one of the two or three best Westerns (heh) ever made.

There are almost certainly more fascinating discoveries to be found in comparing these lists, particularly by one not horribly jet lagged (like myself). Let this be the starting point for a vigorous discussion!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

Wes Craven's Wes Craven's New Nightmare brims over with creepy imagery, and the sort of dreams/reality/cinema metaphors I usually go wild for. So why didn't I go wild for it? Oh sure, it's intelligent, particularly for a "slasher" and you couldn't deny that it's made with style and wit. Here, at least, is a movie that proves that good filmmaking is more than style and wit.

The conceit is a clever one, but maybe it's a bit too clever. Craven, of course, wrote and directed the original A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984. Because it came out when I was 3 years old, and I was pretty well shielded from R-rated horror until I was much older, I never saw the original Nightmare until earlier this week. I was pleasantly surprised to see that that movie is pretty much a masterpiece. I could see why Freddy (or just Fred, as he is generally called in the first one) Kruger became such an icon over the course of five sequels, including one of such seeming finality that it was actually called Freddy's Dead. Then again, if I've got this right, Freddy was dead before the first movie began, which could explain how in the intervening years he's battled Jason from the Friday the 13th series and, in this film, the actress who played his original antagonist.

Craven didn't play a part in all those sequels; he was immensely displeased with New Line Cinema's desire for a rug-pulling ending to the first film that would throw one last twist at the audience. It was his intention for Nightmare to be a one-off, and so he did not participate in any of the others, save for a co-producing/writing stint on Nightmare 3 which didn't go nearly well enough to bring him back for Nightmare 4. Perhaps sensing after installment 6 that the series was pretty much dead, even if Freddy wasn't, New Line and Craven relented and reteamed for this far more cerebral take on the original material.

The set-up: Heather Langenkamp, the star of the first Nightmare plays herself, as a neurotic actress and mother living in Los Angeles. The night before a massive earthquake (and, eerily, one occured during New Nightmare's filming, months after Craven had written about it), Heather has a horrific dream on the set of a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel where Freddy's severed claw comes to life and kills her husband (dead fish David Newsom). When he really does die, possibly at the hands (or claws) of Freddy, Heather's life is thrown into chaos. Freddy's just a fictional character -- so why is he bothering a real woman?

Well, because this is a fictional movie. And even though this premise sounds just about perfect for Craven, who would soon mine the divide between cinema and perceived reality with far greater success in his Scream trilogy, our most popular modern horror director isn't quite at the top of his game. Remember that before Craven made Scream, he made one more picture: the Eddie Murphy horror vehicle Vampire in Brooklyn, a movie that is only a vehicle for horror for those making the shocking discovery that they'd paid good money to see it.

New Nightmare is indeed cerebral but not necessarily scary, and most of the scares are essentially retreads of moments from the original film. Which, of course, is Craven's intent; he's blurring that line between Heather and Nancy until, by the end of the film, she's looking, talking, and acting like her. The suggested idea, then, is that Heather, who lives uncomfortably with her Freddy legacy, needs to embrace it and will only be saved once she acknowledges how wonderful it was. Given Craven's previous reluctance to make more Nightmares, this notion is surely rooted in autobiography.

But the original film wasn't distinguished for onscreen therapy sessions (except maybe in the scenes between Nancy and her boozy mom) and a couple retreads of 10-year-old gore gags. It became a classic because the ideas and images it presented were thrillingly new and original. The ones in Craven's second attempt are spit-polished renditions of that earlier film. It's not a New Nightmare at all. It's an old one with a new claw.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Matt on Indie 103.1!

I'm out in Los Angeles for the L.A. Film Festival, and, as part of that, I did a spot on a very cool radio station out here, Indie 103.1. We taped it and here's an excerpt:

On Indie 103.1

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Also, you may notice the video's from MySpace; I've got my own MySpace URL now:, which I'm under direct orders from management to make look not terrible.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nancy Drew (2007)

The best Hollywood film of the summer? Not that there's a truckload of competition, but the intrepid Nancy Drew takes that dubious prize early on in the race. A bright concoction from writer/director Andrew Fleming (The Craft (1996), Dick (1999)), it flings our perky sleuth into the 21st century, but with her 50s accouterments intact. Beginning with a credits sequence made up of the woodcut-like drawings that appeared in the original novels, the film captures the spirit, if not the entire body, of the books. Because while there is plenty of postmodern upgrading (she now carries an I-Pod in her sleuthing kit), it maintains a respect and almost obsessive love for the sincerity of her personality and style. When insulted at school for her home-baked desserts and too-prim dresses, she just says "I like old-fashioned things", and it's entirely believable (and cute: also, "downloading is OK, but nothing sounds like vinyl." She then pumps some Les Baxter!)

Emma Roberts (Julia's niece), nabbing the role through nepotism, plays Nancy with a steely dorkiness, her perky attention to detail is never flustered as events spin out of control around her - various murder attempts only elicit, "I hate when that happens." She's slapped with an amusing overweight sidekick named Corky, who falls pudgily in love with her, but then, so does everyone who comes in contact with her. There's a mystery about a dead movie star - which leads to a great cameo on a film set - and it's all done with wit and aplomb. The identity of the murderer is no great surprise, but who wants to be surprised by Nancy? It's enough that we can spend 100 minutes with a such a nice young girl (it's also well paced and edited, with quality performances all around). And if you don't believe me, at least I have Rosenbuam in my corner. Plus the enigmatic (and delightful) Spinster Aunt has her own appreciation of old Nance.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Food Porn? You ain't kidding!

Devotees of the Food Network have often called its programming "food porn" — they lovingly portray the cooking (and especially the eating) of food as an orgasmic experience for the senses. The worst (or, depending on your point of view, best) offender is Giada De Laurentiis, the host of Everyday Italian. She cooks lavishly photographed Italian cuisine in low-cut tops that show off her cleavage. She gets so into the descriptions of her food while wearing such boob-intense clothing, that the food porn sometimes just looks and sounds like plain porn without the sex scenes.

But I have never seen anything like Ms. De Laurentiis' new special Giada In Paradise, where she travels to Greece and eats all sorts of local food and even — get this — goes for a luxurious swim in a sequence that looked (lots of slow fade-ins and outs, and at one point she actually materialized on the screen out of nowhere) and sounded (sleazy wakka-cha-wakka techno music) like an actual pornographic film. Seriously, Mel and I have been sitting her for the last 40 minutes just watching with our mouths hanging open in shock. I mean this thing is pitched way wrong. Everyone wants to travel, sure, and you should make these places seem fun and romantic. But, dude, not this romantic. Unintentional hilarity alert people!

I wanted to post some pictures or a YouTube of this insanity, but there's nothing available yet. If it pops up, I will post here. But according to, it's playing again tomorrow night (Sunday) at 9 PM. It's the perfect Father's Day present for your food porn lovin' Dad!

UPDATE: Giada is wearing a see-thru white dress to go stomp grapes for wine. And she just said "But first things first — I've gotta wash my feet!!" Oh boy...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Critics, Can We Declare A Moratorium On This One?

Spotted in a review of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer:
"Jessica Alba...still can't act her way out of a paper bag"

Now, I haven't seen Silver Surfer, and I'm not debating Ms. Alba talents as a thespian. Regardless: this phrase needs to be retired. It makes no sense. Who acts inside a paper bag? Who wears a paper bag at all? How could acting, even under optimal circumstances, help in the removal of a paper bag? If you put, say, Laurence Olivier inside a bag, would he have been capable of acting his way out of it? The way I see it vigorous physical activity could remove all but the most carefully lodged paper bag. And you don't need to be a great actor to perform vigorous physical activity. Jean-Claude Van Damme, therefore, could probably "act" his way out of a paper bag better than Ms. Alba, but should we hold that against her?

I have no idea where this phrase began, but here's where it ends. Therefore, "acting his/her way out of a paper bag" is now officially banned from criticism. You're all on notice. The only way this phrase is ever permissible again is if someone physically wears a bag on their head, and then, through sheer force of acting will, removes it. Otherwise, just say they can't act, okay?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1973)

One of the rarest items in the just-deceased Museum of the Moving Image Sam Fuller retro is the 1973 made for German TV curiosity Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street. An episode in the cop show "Tatort", Fuller received a modest budget and instructions to use his wife, actress Christa Lang (The Champagne Murders (1967), What's Up, Doc? (1972)). He obliged, and churned out a fabulously entertaining detective thriller/farce. It's pure Fuller - with an opening shootout in a maternity ward and a clandestine meeting at the Beethoven Museum (the same spot he broke into for a night's sleep during WWII).

Christa Lang plays a professional blackmailer, seducing diplomats and then drugging them to take some artful photographs. The limp dick on the case is played by Glenn Corbett, prolific TV actor ("Route 66", "Dallas"), and who debuted in Fuller's Crimson Kimono back in '59. From the outset Corbett, here known as by the intimidating moniker of "Sandy", is an easy-going failure, big, dumb and appealing. He gets outsmarted by the opening shooter, and ambles his way happily through the rest of the proceedings. He's double and triple-crossed to no seeming effect. The most engaged Sandy gets is when he trails Christa to a theatre screening Rio Bravo dubbed in German.

It's a tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of the detective genre, and Fuller has a blast with it, especially in the dialogue. Christa says Sandy looks like an "unemployed rapist", and when she doesn't allow him to open the door for her, she says the last time a man did that for her, "I was going 60 miles an hour". There's also a brilliant bit where Christa tells the Chinese ambassador that she doesn't think ping-pong is a sport.

Most bizarrely, Stephane Audran (fresh off Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) pops up as a Dietrich-esque lipstick lesbian in an underground bookstore, going by the frightening name of Dr. Bogdanovich.

There's also murderous clowns and a Fuller phone cameo as an aggrieved senator caught in one of the photos. Fantomas plans on releasing it on DVD, although it's been delayed due to some sure to be knotty rights issues. I hope it sees the light of day soon, because it shows Fuller at his loosest and close to his best.

Classic Trailer Theater: Dawn of the Dead

Pretty typical old school exploitation trailer in all but one regard. Listen to that narration; it's a standard breathless sales pitch, but pay close attention to those words: it's actually a pretty accurate reflection of Dawn's themes:

"We have spawned our own savagery! SOON it will consume US ALL! It is a horrible, hauntingly accurate vision of the mindless excesses of a society gone MAD!"

The way it's delivered, it almost sounds like a religious sermon.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Death Proof At Cannes

I know this is kind of old news at this point, but it just occured to me that I never wrote about this and we seem a bit starved for content this week anyway.

Back when Grindhouse opened last spring, I wrote"both movies are too long." Which should automatically mean that the cut of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof that played sans Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror at Cannes was inferior to the one that played with it Stateside. This solo Death Proof was a full half-hour longer than American version. Ergo, it must be extra bad, right?

Wrong. Without the (un)dead weight of Planet Terror and without the butt fatigue of watching two full-length features back-to-back (next time guys, throw in an intermission that doesn't include stuff we want to see like cheeky trailers or vintage drive-in bumpers), Death Proof doesn't feel too long at all, even with an extra thirty minutes of footage sutured back into the running time.

Most cursory descriptions of the new Death Proof summed up the changes as, "Oh Quentin put back Vanessa Ferlito's lap dance," and, indeed, the scene that was previously excised from the film with one of Rodriguez and Tarantino's cheeky "Scene Missing" cards is now fully evident in all its stimulating glory. But beyond whatever prurient value has (and if you're interested in such things, well, you shan't be disappointed), the scene adds a previously absent piece to the Stuntman Mike puzzle.

As those who saw the film know, Stuntman Mike McKay (Kurt Russell) targets groups of attractive young women and then runs them over in his reinforced car. In the Grindhouse cut, McKay asks Ferlito's Butterfly for a dance, she demurs, he presses, she accepts. Then the scene is missing, and Tarantino cuts to the whole crew leaving the bar and Stuntman Mike hunting down his prey. He seemingly goes from eccentric charmer to full-on psychopath. Now we see Butterfly's dance and there's a much more direct and explicit correllation between the sexual act and Stuntman Mike's explosive release. The change reinforces Tarantino's critique of the classic slasher villain (who always has a disturbed relationship with sex and violence) and also enhances the punchline at the movie's wild demolition derby ending.

Remember, too, that Tarantino's added a half-hour of material; Butterfly's dance is maybe five minutes of that. There are other scenes that are added: an extra scene for Butterfly in the first half (that benefits her character tremendously and turns her into the true tragic figure of her portion) and an extra scene at the start of the second half that shows Mike stalking his new set of victims (in black and white for some reason). Beyond that, a lot of scenes had plenty more dialogue. If you thought there was too much talking before, you might not be pleased but from my vantage point the movie just flows better and more smoothly. Tarantino's dialogue is musical and cutting out a snippet here and there might not affect the overall intellectual impact, but it does change the way it sounds and moves so it's best appreciated in its uninterrupted form.

It's still not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but as an enhanced and elongated piece Death Proof works better than it did before. It's a fine addition to the director's cannon — and the soundtrack, which I now own and can't stop listening to, might just be Tarantino's best.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Singer: Overrated

So I'm bumming around IMDb and for some reason I type in myself on there and I go to look at my page. And someone has posted something on the "message board" on my IMDb page. It is called Singer: Overrated and it reads, in its entirety:

Seriously buddy, overhyped and totally out there and not in a good way

Don't you need to be hyped before you can be overhyped? I must have missed the profile in The New York Times and that day the mayor gave me the key to the city.

It's my first really hardcore internet bashing since back when I did one episode of Your Movie Show on MTV and I got a virulent email from a viewer accusing me of playing up all the bad stereotypes of a geek. That one cut me deep because I was just being myself. Apparently, I am just a walking stereotype.

By the way, if you want to check out more of my overhyped ass, go to's video page where you can watch all my latest clips from Tribeca and Cannes, including some of the live red carpet shows I hosted (we taped 'em).

Overhyped. Keep it up anonymous Internet haters, I love it!


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Depressed Danes

You don't have to worry about Lars Von Trier anymore. He told a Danish newspaper in May that he was admitted to a hospital because of depression, and that all of his upcoming projects were on hold (including the conclusion of the USA trilogy, Wasington, and his Satan created the world lark, Antichrist) because of it. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian immediately smelled another publicity stunt for the provocateur, but only Lars knows how bummed out he really was. On a newly posted interview on Radar, however, he claims:

"I've been through three months of depression in the last year, and for some reason everyone seems to think I'm in a straight jacket, which I'm not."

So it seems it's simply an issue of an offhand comment blown out of proportion, although I'm sure he didn't mind the publicity. In order to calm his legion(?) of well-wishers, he snapped the above photo (note how the day's paper is shoved in to prove it was taken recently) and now all is well with the world.

And I think The Boss of it All is really very funny.

Classic Trailer Theater: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The fact that Orson Welles is reduced to providing the voiceover for this thing while Robert Wise is its director feels brutally unfair somehow.

All I will say about this trailer is that while not being particularly good (in that it doesn't sell the film especially well) it does capture, with impressive accuracy, ST:TMP's tone of lumbering, epic boredom. This trailer is boring (well, all of it except Uhura, the only woman in history with both a widow's peak AND an afro) but the movie it's selling is boring, so what else do you want? This is truth in advertising at its most yawn-inducing.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

YouTubeArt: Dude, Transformers Looks Like Crap

I thought this movie was going to have computer effects and stuff!

(Seriously though, I thought I was the biggest dork on the planet. I've got a long way to go.)


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hildy, Top Ten, Arachnid Excrement

Happy 100th Birthday to Rosalind Russell. Or as I prefer to know her, Hildy:


My current top ten:

1. Still Life, dir. Jia Zhangke (to be released in the fall by New Yorker)

2. Two Wrenching Departures, dir. Ken Jacobs

3. Offside, dir. Jafar Panahi

4. Private Fears in Public Places, dir. Alain Resnais

5. The Taste of Tea, dir. Katsuhito Ishii

6. Election & Triad Election, dir. Johnnie To

7. Belle Toujours, dir. Manoel de Oliveira

8. Exiled, dir. Johnnie To

9. Black Book, dir. Paul Verhoeven

10. I Think I Love My Wife, dir. Chris Rock


Kenneth Anger on Spiderman 3: "The biggest spider turd that ever dropped from the great big spider web in the sky has landed. We knew because we couldn't escape it." I recommend reading it through.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Termite Television: Return to Hell's Kitchen

He's baaaaaaaaaaack!!

There are exactly three things I look forward to every summer: San Diego Comic-Con, hot dogs straight off the grill, and the return of my favorite television show, Hell's Kitchen. I wrote extensively about HK last summer at the start of its second season, so this will serve as a brief refresher.

As always, the show remains a reality/game show about a bunch of marginally talented culinary artists all fighting for their very own restaurant in Las Vegas and a couple hundred grand in cash. Standing in their way is the great British tyrant of the kitchen, Gordon Ramsay, one of the world's most respected chefs and biggest assholes. While a typical reality show primarily stars hot people with drinking problems and/or personality disorders, FOX and the producers of Hell's Kitchen take a different approach: fill the cast with circus freaks who aren't even qualified to eat in a restaurant, much less work in one. That way Ramsay will have tons of targets to yell things like "SHUT IT OFF YOU DONKEY!" to.

The highlight of this year's bumper crop of loons is Aaron, a 48-year-old retirement home chef from California who wore a cowboy hat to meet Chef Ramsay. Yes, Aaron's a cowboy, and just like real cowboys in the Old West he weeps when he's scared and sneezes into his cooking. Yee haw, Aaron. I'm also a fan of Vinnie, a nightclub chef from New Jersey who foolishly thought he could talk back to Chef Ramsay and who'd never heard the word "rubbish" before. "If you want me to do something, use words I can understand!" he griped to the cameras. Oy. Wouldn't you know he's from New Jersey.

For the second year in a row, Ramsay has split the men and women into separate teams and made them compete against each other. The men tend to get on well, but the women can't seem to stop yelling at one another (A disgusted Ramsay referred to them as "Hell's Bitches" at the end of their disastrous first service). Though one of these "chefs" will have the chance to run their very own restaurant, none of them at this stage of the game can fry an egg. None, except poor Julia, a cook at a Waffle House, who pleaded with her team to let her make the eggs — because, y'know, when you work at a waffle restaurant, you get pretty good at cooking eggs — while her snobby peers kept ignoring her and telling her to chop onions. Then she cried. Then Ramsay yelled. Then more crying.

It's clear that as it enters its third season, Hell's Kitchen has totally abandoned any pretense of being anything other than rubbish — yes, Vinnie, rubbish. The contestants are emotionally unstable (one fainted before she even spoke to Ramsay), physically impaired (one guy has a kidney disorder that makes him look like a child) or just totally insane (Vinnie, I'm looking at you). There are exactly two contestants, one male and one female, who look like they've used an oven before (coincidentally, it wouldn't be the first time that someone couldn't figure out how to turn on an oven — one guy got the boot last year for that very reason). So I think the finals are pretty much set at this point. But that's fine; you don't watch Hell's Kitchen for the suspense, you watch to see nutjobs get yelled at by an even bigger nutjob. Set your DVRs people, it's gonna be great.

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