Superbowl Commercials
In an effort to scare up some kind of hype for this weekend's Superbowl, MSNBC has listed what it considers to be a list of top Superbowl commercials of all-time for your voting pleasure. Frankly, after the Eagles foundered, I'll be more interested in watching the commercials than the game. In any event, here are my top five from the list, presented in ALL NEW REVERSE ORDER FOR YOUR PLEASURE.

Okay, after viewing them all I changed my mind. There are a couple of noteworthy consolation prizes, such as Mean Joe Greene's Coca-Cola classic, Apple's "1984" ad, and the "wassuuuup" Budweiser ad (which as I recall will forever be dated in one of my friend's wedding videos, alas), but the clear winner is the most recent: the Reebok "Terry Tate -- Office Linebacker". Terry ferociously destroys about a dozen hapless office slackers during the minute long clip, which was clearly either written by or stolen from the ESPN-ad guys. My favorite line from Terry, yelling over a recent tacklee: "Break was over 15 minutes ago... BITCH!!!"


Casting Hell and Oscar Buffoonery
Jaquandor alerted me to a vicious rumor that's been going around the internet movie sites, notably in Cinescape and AICN. Thusly: Beyonce Knowles is close to being Lois Lane and Johnny "zoot suit" Depp as Lex Luthor in the in-development-hell Superman flick. Personally, I can't think of a more ridiculous casting decision, but AICN said it nicely:
    "Ok, can you see what's happening here. They're not making the great SUPERMAN movie, they're making the hip and pop and garbage version. I love Johnny Depp, but he's wrong for Lex Luthor. Lex doesn't need to be funny or quirky. He needs to be calculating, charming and cold. Somebody like a shaved headed version of Ralph Fiennes. And Lois Lane, you don't throw away nearly 70 years of programming that Lois Lane is a small lithe brunette that wears wonderous buisness suits. Beyonce is COMPLETELY WRONG FOR THE PART! You need an actress, not a fucking PEPSI COMMERCIAL POP TART!"

Exactly. In somewhat related rant, can anyone tell me what glaring omission(s) are in the Oscar's Best Visual Effects category? You may have not understood the films, but at least acknowledge that the effects were fantastic. And tell me how 'Master and Commander' can even come close. Please. I shouldn't be surprised, though -- the Oscars are like the Grammy's to me anymore -- just a popularity contest. Utter contemptuous glare I have.


Kill Bill -- Volume 2 Trailer
Somehow, Yahoo has got the exclusive teaser trailer for Kill Bill Vol. 2 all to themselves, but they seem willing to play nice for the rest of us. Mostly a head-shot of Uma Thurman addressing the audience, at one point recapping Vol. 1 as thus: "I went on what the movie advertisements said was a roaring rampage." Can't say as I've ever seen a teaser trailer break down the 3rd wall, but that's Tarantino for you, and of course it works.


I harken back to the heady, silly days of my youth, when I was sure that I could tell the substance and impact a film would have on me by a television trailer. I could also tell that I didn't like green peas because they were far to small and smarmy, or in a smack of true cliche, dismissed a book as uninteresting because the picture on the jacket didn't appeal.

The two most vivid recollections of my instinct being horribly wrong is in the form of two movies which I kicked, bucked, and threw one of my Trademark Fits (TM): On Golden Pond (1982) and (hesitation) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

In a limited defense, these movies came out when I wasn't quite yet a teenager and therefore still confused about penile dual purpose jokes (plus the rather sheltered childhood) as I was about quality filmmaking. Honestly, I can't remember why I objected to going to see Raiders, one of the best adventure films ever and pretty much geared for kids. (Except for the spiders, snakes, and melting/exploding heads. This was the film that started the whole PG-13 rating. Really.) I just recall being really insolent (surprise!) as my brother and sisters dragged me to go see the film. Doggedly, I mentally assured myself that while they could make me watch the film, they sure weren't going to make me like it! Of course, being an unwitting slave to Lucas, this horse sure as hell drank when it got to the water.

However, Golden Pond was a different story. I know why I didn't want to see that flick -- who in their right mind would want to take a 11-year-old to see a movie about old people and their relationship with their kids? If ever a baby-sitter was asked for this was the time. Couldn't I just go see Dragonslayer for the 3rd time instead? Sadly, the answer to these questions was no, and that my parents knew I'd like it. Well, I had been wrong before about a movie, but surely my enlightened near-pubescent wisdom wouldn't fail me a second time.

It did. Both miserably and wonderfully on both occasions. Which leads me to (hopefully) the point of all this tittering: expectations. I've found that when I've expected very little in a film, it's easy to be open about the experience, and also when you stumble upon a great film in that state of mind, it's taking the experience to another level. Like getting gifts on non-holiday/birthday occasions.

It's pretty sad, my lack of movie-going prowess these days. Although I don't necessarily vouch for the validity of the Golden Globe Nominees as a working checklist of titles to see, it'll do for the purposes of my little rant/spontaneous keyboarding.

I've seen quite a few films this year already, but not very many that are referenced on the GG list (have seen: Return of the King, Master & Commander, Kill Bill, Last Samurai, Pirates of the Caribbean -- all great films), although I aim to take out Lost in Translation and Big Fish this weekend. Of those films, the one I went to with a perfunctory attendance attitude was The Last Samurai. It was another bloated Tom Cruise epic film, blah blah blah. But I still felt like seeing it because, well, I wanted to form my own opinion (being the most reliable judge of what is right and wrong and post-adolescent).

And it was the best film I'd seen this year. Yes, better than the Matrix sequels (not to say that they aren't wonderful films) that I go on about. Yes, better than Return of the King -- I admit I checked my watch 3 times in that film and none in Samurai. Yes, Tom Cruise deserves his GG nomination because, stunningly, I forgot that it was Tom Cruise playing the role of Algren from time to time. And yes, this is because the film really struck a chord with me. (Yes, I cried three times.) That the film hasn't garnered more notice or honors is most likely due to the Cruise backlash that seems to stigma his films and aggrandize Nicole Kidman's performances. Also, unfair comparisons (e.g., "Dances with Samurai", or "BraveCruise") have framed the film (I admit they rang true to me prior to seeing the film) as a knock-off. Nevertheless, this epic is restrained and bold, powerful and gentle, moving and breathtaking. And it didn't leave my ass sore from sitting for 3.5 hours (in truth, once you see ROTK, anything will seem short and refreshing). In short: go see it and form your own opinion, but see it nonetheless.

And now for eager anticipation -- I have heard lots of great things about Lost in Translation and Big Fish, and I'm really looking forward to seeing both. I won't have the surprisingly satisfying experience I had with Samurai, but if things hold up, maybe I'll have an expectedly great time anyway.

PS. So far, here are my top favorite movies of 2003:

1. Last Samurai
2. Kill Bill -- Vol. 1
3. X2: X-Men United
4. Pirates of the Caribbean
5. Matrix: Reloaded

I'm hoping some contender this weekend will jump in there.


My instinct tells me that Catwoman will be the cinematic malfeasance, but who the hell cares as long as they put Halle Berry in S&M-type 'superhero' outfits? Of course, this may be the film-makers' idea to distract from the plot. Kudos.
Battlestar Galactica Series -- Green lighted?
According to Cinescape.com, there's a reliably good chance that Battlestar Galactica may become a series. As I mentioned a while back, I thought the mini-series was pretty damn good and deserving of being a regular program. Looks like my opinion has proved, yet again, to be invaluable to cable executives.

Now if only they will heed my pleas to bring back the wisdom of "Doogie Howser, MD".


"Plot Holes" and how to deal
My angry, embittered, and occasionally constipated brother-in-arms has done a good piece of research and logic rebutting a couple Raiders Of The Lost Ark "plot holes". They really aren't plot holes, per se, but somewhat unrealistic events that the viewer found disagreeable. The gripe (from here):
    Perhaps the greatest came in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nazis steal the ark from Indiana Jones, and escape in a U-boat. As the submarine dives, Jones leaps off a ship and clings to the U-boat's side. Now, what is he supposed to do -- hang on while the sub is underwater? We see a chart of the U-boat crossing the Mediterranean, then a shot of the submarine easing into its dock at a super-secret base. As the submarine arrives, Indiana Jones is already standing on the dock, disguised as a Nazi. Double plot hole! Not only could he not have survived by clinging to a diving submarine, how did he then get to the base first? Triple plot hole! How did he even know where the sub was going?

Jaquandor does address both amply. But I think there may be more to it (thusly indulging my ability to over-analyze everything). As you may (or may not) recall, Indy is not already in a Nazi uniform when he first appears behind some crates. He is forced to knock out a Nazi soldier and take his uniform -- only the uniform doesn't fit so he takes the one of the officer who accosts him for being unkempt, adding a bit of comic relief to the moment. This scene also serves as a nod from Lucas/Spielberg to the cliche of interchangable, one-size-fits-all garments that always seem to be worn by the abductees.

However, in light of the "plot hole" described above, the placement of this little scene serves a third purpose. It is a wink to the audience that every movie has little "plot holes" or unrealistic situations (not the least of which is that 'Lost Ark' is a fantasy movie for pete's sake), such as the Indy's journey on the submarine the scene before. This isn't lost on the movie-makers, so instead of ignoring what has transpired, they chose to include a short, comic scene that says "Yeah, we know it's a little unrealistic, but this is just a movie".

My work here is finished. You are all enlightened; admit it. Or scared.


Rules, and the Ruling Rules who Rule them
My old (and I do mean old) friend Jaquandor issued a small post last week that got me to thinking about rules, and how, though most are made to be broken, might come in handy in solving the silliest of arguments.

Jaq posted a piece about how Dennis Miller was being hypocritical of left 'Nazi-labelers'. It seems that a lot of people on the left, according to Miller, like to label right-wing leaders as some derivation of the Hilter-led movement. Frankly, I've heard it a lot myself. However, the linked article Jaquandor points to shows that Miller himself used a lot of Nazi comparison jokes when he was more liberal. That shows how your political views influence your perception, but that's not why I'm rattling here today. Jaquandor doesn't like the term, and who really does, but I think a more basic point has been ignored, and that is in terms of argument, being called a Nazi is a good thing.

I'm sure all of you have been involved in some form or another of a barroom political argument, whether it be over trees, abortions, or Al Sharpton (if even the idea of Sharpton causes you to giggle, you are in with me). And perhaps at one or another of these arguments, both sides got heated and someone called someone else a Nazi or a fascist, etc. Happens all the time when people get angry and flustered. And the arguing probably escalated from there into shouting, kicking, punching, biting, scratching (my order of escalation). Excellent. Wait, but no, the argument should have ended right at the point someone was called a Nazi, because of the logic behind Godwin's Law.

Godwin's Law was originally concocted by uber-geeks on the Usenet to add order to discussion threads. Put in terms of everyday logic:
    "As a [Usenet] discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups.

Who decided that comparing someone to a Nazi ends the argument? Well, the logic is that if you are comparing your discussee to the paradigm example of ultimate evil, you are exaggerating or run out of actual logical arguments to use and are just being emotional. It is the equivalent of resorting to vulgarity (Mr. Poopy-Pants!) or other outrageous accusations (Senor Burns es el diablo!), and it just means that you've run out of intelligent conversation.

Of course, this whole line of reasoning doesn't matter, because of the 90% rule, which I derived from Sturgeon's Law years ago. Sturgeon was a famous science-fiction author who said "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud." Meaning, for the purposes of this discussion, that 90% of all people are idiots. I have not seen any evidence to controvert this in my 32 years. Unfortunately, this means that 90% of the people out there won't understand Godwin's Law, and that I'd be better off saving time and resorting to violence. Hmm... violence, eh? Only a Nazi would disagree.


Goodbye to that Girl
The other night, spurred by a reminiscing of a classic 70’s performance and an ignorant roommate (she gives me lots of excuses to re-watch old movies, so I can’t complain), I decided to rent what will now be termed ‘the original’ Goodbye Girl for a slow detox Monday. Another secret reason is that I have been inundated by promotions and Hootie-covers of TNT’s remake, but wanted to watch ‘the original’ first to get my fix. Personally, I didn’t think this was a film that needed to be redone, but maybe I was wrong.

Well, after this most recent viewing I can firmly say "The Goodbye Girl" was very good, just as I had remembered it. However, I was reminded that Marsha Mason's part made me cringe at some points (she was a bit clingy -- admittedly coming directly off being dumped -- and her idea of cohabitating with a man is to declare "I'll spend your money!" with glee at least twice in the picture as if it is a romantic slogan), and that Richard Dreyfus deservedly won an Oscar for his role (he gets most of the good lines, of course). Now, my interest is peaked to see what TNT does with the movie; really two-fold – if Jeff Daniels can step up to the part and make it his own (tough act to follow) and if the writers and Patricia Heaton can expurgate some of the less savory parts of Mason’s original character. At least I’ll have “3 chances to catch it”.

Update: People are already making comparisons.