Tony Homo

In honor of the Philadelphia Eagles' amazing and shocking spanking of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, I thought I'd take some time to reflect on what's become of Drew Bledsoe. The former Bills and New England QB, Bledsoe has been ousted from his starting job by Tony Romo, who was (until recently) getting ready to be anointed as the next Elway. Or something. Then reality set in.

Note that I couldn't be more shocked by the Eagles' turnaround in the past few weeks. I love my team, but if you told me three weeks ago that we would be in the division lead by now and the hottest team in the NFC, I would have smoten you with a giant fish.

Anywho, it appears that ol' Drew hasn't taken his unseating well. (Has anyone seen a camera shot of him since he lost his job? Is he even part of the organization?) The website TonyHomo.com, Drew Bledsoe's 'official' blog, has some hilarious observations about himself and his replacement...

From his 'Power Rankings', or how Drew could improve any team in the NFL:
    Denver Broncos: ... I'll make Elway's two superbowl wins seem like a rebuilding phase.

    Jacksonville Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew called me the other day. He said if I signed with the Jaguars this offseason, he'll change his name to Maurice Jones-Drew-Bledsoe. I told him, I said "Maurice. That's very nice of you. Thank you." He said, I swear on my life, he said, "You're welcome, Jesus." I'm like a Savior to these people. That's what you guys don't understand!
On his winning playoff record:
    And don't worry about me choking in the playoffs, I'm a proven winner: 3-3 in the postseason, and those three losses were not my fault. Football is a team game -- those wins are all me though.
On the Texans draft pick last year:
    Houston Texans: I don't care what people say, I still think they shoulda taken me with the #1 pick last year.
And how did Bledsoe interpret the Eagles trouncing...
    T.O and Terry are angry "about the offense" not "playing aggressive enough." Translation: We're working on fashioning a Carrie Underwood shaped bomb to lure our QB into a trap and then explode his arms off.

    Coach said "There's nothing good to say. We just didn't make any plays at all, either side of the ball. Just awful." Translation: Romo ruined Christmas. And to a lesser extent, Boxing Day (Canada).
There's just too much material to absorb, so if you have plenty of time at work, you'll enjoy a fresh take on the Cowboys from an insider's perspective.


Harry Potter and the __________

According to Cinematical, J.K. Rowling's official site has revealed the name of the forthcoming Book 7 of the Harry Potter series. However, you need to go through a specific sequence of clicks to get a shot at it:
    In order to begin your journey, you must first visit Rowling's official website and click on the eraser on her desk. From there, you must follow these directions (courtesy of HPANA):

    1. Click doorway in mirror to see Christmas tree.
    2. Click on the top half of the door to get the wreath.
    3. Click on the top of the mirror to get the garland.
    4. Click on the spider web right next to the door to make them go away.
    5. Click the 4th chime in the window and get the key for the door.
    6. Drag key to unlock the door.
    7. Door opens to show a desk with a package.
    8. Click the bow on the package and it will open.
    9. Click the inside of the package and a game of Hangman is shown where you can play a game to guess the name of the seventh book.
    10. You can keep playing till you get it right and when you do a check mark will appear.
It took me two times, but I got it. If you want me to spoil the fun, then scroll down:


Walter Chaw Cutting Down Holiday Movies

I mentioned recently that there was a dearth of quality films to see this holiday season. My favorite critic Walter Chaw has started validating this claim in his own manner: by writing hilariously scathing reviews.

With apologies to Beth and Tony, who actually 'liked' the film, here's an excerpt from the review for Holiday:
    See, high-maintenance Barbie bitch Amanda meets her match in a man who seems a lothario but, wait for it, is in fact a loving family man with a pair of doe-eyed moppets Meyers uses in exactly the same way she does a little dog. (The real magic of Diaz's performance is that if you close your eyes, you can distinguish her from neither the whining of the dog nor the keening of the toddlers.) Seeking escape in the aftermath of a break-up with her good-for-nothing boy-chick (Edward Burns, of course), she heads to Google™ on her VAIO™ laptop and, like all retarded people do in retarded movies like this, proceeds to recite aloud everything she does and everything she reads. Meanwhile, her counterpart across the pond, Iris (Winslet), fed up with pining for her evil boss (Rufus Sewell--reaching his nadir at last as the British Edward Burns), agrees to exchange domiciles on the principle that exhausted, derivative crap such as The Holiday will appear less so with an infantile high concept. Jack Black (50% eyebrows, 50% gut) makes for the worst kind of love interest in that he's both physically unattractive and obnoxious, even turned down to a low simmer as he is here. That said, a scene in Blockbuster™ where he does his Tenacious D™ shtick to movie themes is, by that time, no more upsetting than a dinner party of the damned that accidentally recalls the card game from Sunset Blvd., an entire subplot that has dinosaur-Jew Tuesdays with Morrie pathos scrawled all over it, and a two-second cameo by the once-promising Jena Malone as some girl her Cold Mountain co-star Jude Law is about to screw.
Sounds delish! But what about that inspiring Will Smith vehicle The Pursuit of Happyness? Not much better, I'm afraid:
    If we're honest, the only reason Chris isn't a villain is that we know the outcome. His wife is angry because her husband appears unwilling to get a job that actually pays a salary so she can stop working double-shifts at an industrial laundry, pay the rent and utilities, and keep their child in daycare--what a bitch! The Pursuit of Happyness is great for the minute or two it talks about how hard it sometimes is to come up with the pennies for a hot meal for your family in a single-income household--the rest of it's just such glad-handing garbage. The trailer-friendly tableau of father and son (real-life Smith-spawn Jaden), sleeping in subway can with Smith squeezing out the Denzel Washington-in-Glory Teardrop of Oscar Gold is the perfect counterpoint to its parade of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles anthems and is, again, so affected as to be a single-panel political cartoon. The final equation of The Pursuit of Happyness is that happiness is a job that can support your family, no matter what indignity one suffers in its pursuit and execution--a message that should bring tears to the eyes of The Man everywhere. What I left with is this idea that the three men positioned as Chris' superiors (after Chris goes through his unpaid internship as a boiler-room cold-caller) are each, in turn, shown to be officious, condescending, and racist, leading one to justifiably wonder whether the real message of the film isn't that smart, hard-working minorities should shut up and be grateful for whatever scraps the gentry deigns to toss out. Way to get your mind right, Will.
Well, perhaps I can take refuge in that fantasy vehicle Eragon. I mean, John Malkovich is in it, so it can't be a waste? Can it? Alas, poor Yorick...
    Fears that veteran F/X man Stefen Fangmeier's directorial debut Eragon, a feature-length adaptation of a fifteen-year-old trying on Anne McCaffrey's jodhpurs, would be the sequel to Dragonheart nobody wanted prove unwarranted, as Eragon is actually the sequel to BloodRayne that nobody wanted. It's ugly as sin, with the much-vaunted dragon at its centre (voiced by Rachel Weisz), designed by skilled craftspeople from both Peter Jackson's WETA workshop and Industrial Light and Magic, looking fatally inorganic to its environment. Not helping matters, the titular rider (Edward Speleers) resembles a younger, equally rubbery David Lee Roth and sports the acting chops of the same. Eragon is the towheaded farmboy who heeds a call to glory to save Sienna Guillory's beautiful Princess Arya ("Help me Eragon, you're my only hope") while gaining a mysterious old hermit mentor (Jeremy Irons--the poor sod should've learned his lesson with Dungeons & Dragons) who dies during a daring raid on the Death Star--er, on the castle keep of Darth Vader, er, King Galbatorix (John Malkovich). Alas, this Luke Skywalker also has an Uncle Owen (Uncle Garrow (Alun Armstrong)), and his Darth Vader has a henchman (Robert Carlyle) who at one point kills an underling general and declares the second-in-command "promoted." Eragon is a rip-off and a bad one, a carbon copy made on one of those old mimeograph machines: washed out, juvenile (even weighed against the not-exactly-mature example of Star Wars), and nigh unbearable for anyone so much as cursorily familiar with genre fare.
It's looking more like another showing of Casino Royale.

Tom Brady is Single

No, I don't really care, but I know MaggieMay will care. According to Mr. Durden at WWTDD, he and Bridget Moynahan just broke up, having dated for the last three years. The only reason I post this is of the excellent commentary about the newly single Ms. Moynahan:
    This chick might as well go gay because no dude is gonna wanna follow Tom Brady. He won the Super Bowl three times, he's richer than most countries and he looks like a damn model. I made a list of the guys who have more to offer a girl than Tom Brady:

    1. Bruce Wayne

    And that was pretty much it.


Holiday Movie Plans

Surprise followed by a calm sense of knowing. That's what it felt like to learn (last week) that all the contractors (myself included) would be expected to take vacation from December 22nd to January 8th. It is so much expected that not only will we not be allowed to charge hours (and thus get paid for half a month), but that our security badges will be deactivated during this time.

The 'knowing' part of this is having a history of working for this company, and remembering that managerial decisions often carry with them the stench of ineptitude. Hardly a unique situation; isn't that how Dilbert remains so popular?

Unfortunately for most, the reality of having your monthly pay cut in half right when the holiday season's bills will be streaming in (and the upped heat bill) would certainly do much to spoil the holiday cheer. I sympathize with those folks. Luckily for me, I'm fortunate enough in the financial sphere to not have to worry about that.

What does worry me is what I'm going to do with all the extra time. Well, worry seems strong. I'm worried that there aren't enough holiday season movies being released that will claim my afternoon matinee bucks.

Now, of course, I am planning on seeing Casino Royale again. But, aside from my third viewing of Bond, I'll need a few more to fill the time.

The Good German. Noir homage that looks like the more intriguing of the "Good" movies. Still not a lock, but a contender. If desperate and already seen "The Fountain", this is the most likely.

The Good Shepherd. Stellar cast, Angelina Jolie, spy movie, but I'm just not overly excited about it. A solid "enh".

Borat. Possibly, although I don't enjoy seeing comedies in the theater -- with all the laughter, you tend to miss half the movie. Probably wait for the DVD or the bunny version.

Happy Feet. This is here as a joke. I do not own children. No chance. Ever.

The Fountain. Here's one film that I definitely want to see, but my fear is that it won't be around come Christmas. I will have to watch closely, in case I need to make a preemptive strike next week.

Dreamgirls. I don't like musicals, the Supremes, Eddie Murphy, Beyonce, or the trailer for this, which was forced upon me twice. Not in this lifetime.

Apolcalypto. Fair trailer, decent reviews, and a lot of Christ-like bloodletting. Plus, I'm immune to the Gibson-hater trend. Still, can't say that can muster a want for it.

Rocky Balboa. Sigh. The truth is, with all the weak competition, I just might do it. Hell, I need to complete the series! (Or IS it complete...?)

If I'm missing anything of quality, please let me know.

Update: Congential movie watcher MaggieMay (we all know your real name, but for the purposes of this paragraph, your secret is safe) comments that I forgot We Are Marshall. The likelihood that I will see this is remote, not because of anything against Matthew McConaughey, not because I can't recall the last sports-themed movie I've seen in the theater, but because the title blatantly steals from Penn State, and I just can't deal with it.

Public Service Message From a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

First Chad Vader and now recreating a classic 80's commercial. What can't you do with a authentic costume and a voice-changer? (This is a rhetorical question.)


Journey: My eyes! My precious eyes!

And then you have the premier example of the worst video efforts of the 80's. That would be the shamingly (i.e., if you can remember when this came out and thought there wasn't anything wrong with it at the time) awful Journey's Separate Ways music video. Again, Bill Simmons captures it:
    A recipe for bliss: Take one of the cheesiest-yet-enjoyable bands of that era (Journey), bring them to an empty shipyard, have them play invisible instruments and lip-synch the hell out of their best song, throw in some ridiculous slow-motion closeups and multi-picture edits, and have a hot girl with a bad haircut walking around for no reason whatsoever. And if that's not enough, lead singer Steve Perry gives one of the greatest performances of the last 35 years -- he throws himself into this thing like DeNiro or Pacino. It's incredible. Everything about this slays me. If somebody gave me five minutes to sum up the '80s, I would just show them this video and be done with it.
I'm literally wiping away the tears after watching that clip. I'm also still waiting for that tracking dolly following the girl's heels to cause her to trip. You know there's a take somewhere of this happening. At least they saved some money making it.

Miami Vice and Mann

In reviewing Bill Simmons' YouTube Hall of Fame clips, I stumbled upon a fantastic video from the original Miami Vice pilot. Simmons' captures the import of the clip:
    Two great things about this one: First, it still holds up -- even now -- and "Vice" is about as dated as it gets. Second, up until that point, there had never been anything on TV even remotely resembling that scene. Remember, this was the same era when A) they were still freezing people's faces mid-laugh during the opening credits of any sitcom; and B) nobody realized that you could use music to accentuate dramatic TV scenes. So this was like watching Bill Russell block someone's running hook shot in the mid-'50s for the first time.
Watch the scene here. I still got chills, and I haven't seen that show since its debut. (Translation: Michael Mann is a genius both now and then. Although I haven't seen the movie version, but he's made enough great films already to cement his place in my pantheon of great directors.)


Vesper vs. Tracy

CommanderBond.net has an excellent article about Bond girls and how there are now two films that set themselves apart from the rest.
    In most of the Bond novels, the women are not much less disposable than the smorgsbord of interchangeable women in the films. Yet there are two novels in which Bond’s romantic partner is much more important, and these become the relationships that define Bond’s character. The first is Casino Royale, the first Bond novel. In this, he falls in love with fellow agent Vesper Lynd during his recuperation from debilitating torture...

    It would not be until the tenth Bond novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, that Bond would again pursue the desire to marry one of his conquests. This time it is Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (Tracy), the troubled daughter of organised crime boss Marc-Ange Draco. Bond and Tracy are married at the book’s conclusion, but as they drive away from the wedding, they are fired upon from another vehicle. Bond survives, but Tracy is killed: the book ends with Bond clutching her lifeless body to him. Once again Bond is penalised for letting his emotional guard down.
Well worth a few minutes of your time to appreciate Casino Royale. In case I haven't rammed the suggestion down your throats by now. Have I mentioned I kinda liked the movie?


Gravity's Rainbow

The accompaniment to Gravity's Rainbow: a painter's rendition. So worth it.


Eva Green. I don't need a reason.

"Holiday" snippet

Taking the lead from my hero of smarm, Walter Chaw, Ryan Stewart's review of the new film-that-I'll-never-see, Holiday, includes this excellent description:
    Amanda [Cameron Diaz] is soon visited by Jude Law, Winslet's single brother. Realizing the serendipity of the two best-looking people in the world meeting by chance at a remote English cottage, they smartly agree that they should immediately screw.
I should aspire to such plot-driven whims of genius.

Random Painting Friday

Caspar David Friedrich has many paintings that I adore, but I think this is my favorite.

Best Nude Scenes

Here's a compilation of (listed, not video, sadly) Best Nude Scenes of 2006. These are mainstream movies, by the way, in case you are fretting over the exclusion of "Clear and Present Stranger".

I haven't seen any of the movies (nor heard of over half), but I did get a chuckle out of the commentary for one of the picks:
    5. Jennifer Aniston in "The Break-Up" - Rent the full-screen version for more of her butt during her windy walk.
Might be the only time I will ever prefer a full-screen version. If only she was remotely appealing to me.

Friday Fun: Milk and Cereal

One of my favorite songs, a B-side throwaway, is "Milk and Cereal". Its lyrics are deliriously simply and silly, and it has got to be one of the catchiest and fun songs ever.

Here's a homemade video from two fans to give you an idea of the kind of goofiness the song inspires. Happy Friday.


Re-Post: Writing Sample

For those of you who haven't read anything I've written, in cleaning up my blog, I stumbled upon a short story that I submitted for a contest nearly two years ago. I'm assuming we all have slow Decemebers, so read at your leisure.


I'll probably go see The Good German just because of the poster. Of course, if you are directly invoking my favorite film of all time, you (i.e., Steven Soderbergh) had better have made a damn great film. Here's the trailer.

Pump Up The Volume

To me, Pump Up the Volume represents a clash between counter-culturalism and formulaic drama. It's a movie with that tries a little too hard to be cool, but somehow manages some great moments by inclusion of a fantastic soundtrack and some witty dialog. In short, it's a movie that I both love and hate, and thus is irresistible viewing.
One of the ironic things about this movie that was cutting edge back in 1990 is that it has become technologically obsolete in the 21st century because of the development of the Internet. Blogging and MySpace accounts have rendered the need to find an outlet or place to get questions answered by listening to pirate radio seem quaint. I can only imagine showing this film to a teenager now, and have them baffled at the concept.

In any event, it was worth the $7.50 to add to my collection.



The buzz about the new show, "Heroes", has been strong, and the supernatural/superhero concept of the show combined with the mystery of "Lost" has made it one of the breakout shows of the fall. Unfortunately, trying to catch up on missed episodes usually means hoping for re-runs or waiting for the DVD's to come out. Only recently have you been able to download some shows from iTunes, albeit for a small fee.

NBC has this week taken a bold campaign to reel in viewers who may want to get caught up with the show, but don't want any of the above options. In an unprecedented move, you can now view online every Heroes episode from this season for free.

I've only seen a couple of episodes, but I love the darkness, and I love how you don't have to wait an entire season to get some answers to clues. The producers of the show have clearly seen what baiting an audience too long (i.e., "Lost") can do to your ratings.

500 -- And reason to keep living

Well, as hard to believe as it is considering my intermittent posting habit, this is my 500th post. In all that time, I feel I should have some reflections on life and living, but that is SO 35th birthday.

Instead, I look to the future, and on the horizon is a gift for me. Christopher Moore (I've waxed on about him before) is releasing the sequel to my favorite book of all time next month, appropriately titled, "You Suck: A Love Story". You may all share, as long as you get your own damn copy (mine is pre-ordered, naturally).
I plan on getting mine signed by the author so I can have both signed. This makes me inexplicably giddy.


Second Impressions

It's not often that I'll attend a second public screening of a motion picture, especially since it costs you $10 just to get in the door around here, not to mention any parking privileges. But more of a factor than cost is that of the films that I would willingly go see again, I never end up making the time. Compared to anyone with kids, I certainly have more time than the average joe, at least to see a film that isn't animated.

I can think of only a few films that I've seen this year that would warrant a second viewing, but that I never got around to seeing. At the top of the list is still my favorite movie of the year, V for Vendetta. Although I've seen the film once in the theater, I've subsequently seen it twice at home. It is the only film that I have openly wept at every time I've seen it. Like a lot of ardent film-goers, I'm sure that I read into film a little much, but what can I say; the film is fucking great.

However, I'm not writing to mention my list of favorite films of 2006, but to remark that as much as I loved V, the film that I have seen twice is Casino Royale, and I'm coming to love it much the same.

I was shocked to discover that I actually liked the movie more than my first viewing, but when I rationalized, I can logically attribute it to the 'Star Wars syndrome'; when you are genuinely excited to see a film, you have a tough time absorbing all facets of the film. This was certainly the case this time around. I knew what was going to happen and when, so I was able to watch the film develop, observe nuances that I had missed, and dispassionately check and see if the things I loved the first time around were really that good.

The first thing I'm going to remark is that I like Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" theme song the more I hear it. I had heard some disparaging remarks about its quality on the 'net, but it's probably the first Bond song I've liked since "View to a Kill". (Incidentally, my vote for best Bond song of all time is Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".)

The performances across the board are better than I thought. I'm not going to rehash the comments I made earlier about Craig and Green; I'm talking about Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, bringing so much to his role. The pivotal torture scene has Craig and Mikkelsen playing off each other with humor, bravado, seriousness and desperation -- for both men. Jeffrey Wright does more with the least amount of screen time ever as Felix Leiter than half the actors before him. In only a few lines he conveys that Bond has better skills than him, but commands Bond's respect with his sincerity and a bit of wit. It's not impossible to believe that the long-lasting friendship is solidly formed like this.

The script is better than I thought, containing some of the best dialog ever in Bond film history. There is nary a cringe-inducing witticism or embarrassingly hackneyed line spoken throughout the film, which is something in itself. It's still so fresh in my mind, but I'm hard pressed to think of any two scenes -- they being the first two between Bond and Vesper on the train and in the cab to the hotel -- that not only tell you so much about the characters (possibly more revealed about Bond than in any three minutes of any film), not only is hilariously witty, but really makes you believe that these two have an instant connection. The chemistry between them makes their later exchanges all the more poignant. I confess that I had a small tear well up when the scene changed to Venice, knowing that he really truly had fallen for this woman.

In short, right now it stands as my favorite film in Bond history. If you haven't seen it at least once, what are you waiting for?

Update: If not the best Bond movie ever, it's looking more likely that it will be the top grossing Bond movie of all time.


Royale Review

To paraphrase a line from the Simpsons, I'm not prone to hyperbole, but Casino Royale may be the best Bond movie ever. I have been a lifelong James Bond fan, and I don't take the previous statement lightly.

Of course, 'best' is indictive of opinion, not fact. Once you take 'Goldfinger' out of the equation, any fan's top-five list of Bond films will never match another's. Do you like your action, your gadgetry, busty women, your quips to be oh-so snarky? There are far too many traditional elements, almost cliched today (and certainly parodied), that define a Bond film and divide the fan base. Make no mistake, this is the most unique Bond film of all time. That is no opinion, that is fact. It's almost an un-Bond film, it's so visibly different from the rest. This Bond character is a rookie. He makes mistakes. He bleeds (often). He trusts the wrong people. For Christ's sake, he only sleeps with one woman, and only after he has fallen in love! What in the hell has happened to our hero?

Humanity. Realism. Drama. Poignancy. All these things have happened, and it has breathed new life into a series that was beginning (heck, it was well on its way) to become its own parody, making the Austin Powers series seem redundant.

This could only have been possible with Daniel Craig. One movie in and he fucking owns the role. He is the un-Bond. Feral, feeling, emotional, powerful, cold, human. Everything Ian Fleming envisioned when he created the first novel.

The moment that I really felt a sense of awe and downright giddyness was early on in the film, when Bond is chasing a terrorist in Madagascar. After a thrilling run through a construction site, the terrorist takes refuge at his embassy, seemingly escaping. Barely hesitating, Bond brazenly busts into the embassy and yanks his man from their sanctuary. I could barely believe the audacity of this man I thought I knew so well.

The peerless action sequences are balanced with some of the finest acting and dialogue in the series. It should go without saying the Judy Dench is remarkable, but the scenes between her and Bond carry a new relationship. She is tolerant of her new agent, she cares for him, believes in his talents, but is patiently trying to teach him some lessons (which he learns all too well). Craig is bold, cheeky, and confident, even when we know he's wrong. And when he's wrong, like in the aforementioned embassy incident, or breaking into M's loft or stealing her passcodes, M is so baffled and impressed that it tempers her anger. How can she crack down on this man, when nobody does it better?

The movie also doesn't work without a strong performance from Eva Green as the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd. Their introductory conversation on the train to Montenegro is my favorite exchange in the film, and I'm hard pressed to think of better repartee in all the series. Vesper is witty, confident, yet fragile and very feminine, and it's easy to understand how he falls for her. As Mathis asks, "How's our girl? Melted your cold heart yet?" Their relationship is lovely and tragic and essential to understanding what makes this man tick. (Not to always bring it back to Star Wars, but...) It's like watching the prequels and knowing now who is behind the mask of Vader and how he came to be. You aren't able to look at the rest of the series quite the same way again.

Where does it rank amongst the Bond catalogue? If I haven't been plain enough, I'm not sure that question even applies for this film. What I can assure you is that the experience of this film is unlike any other I've ever felt, and I'm going back for another pass soon.

Update: At Commander Bond.net the reviewer compares the love story to that of Casablanca.


Bond Quiz

I'm a double-o. Are you?. (I should note that the only ones I missed were about the freaking lyrics to the songs. Hand job by the best boy, indeed.)

On a completely related note, by this time tomorrow I will have seen Casino Royale.


The rumor that X4 will happen continues to propogate, despite the limp claims by the studio that it was the 'last one'. Heh.
    This whole "will there be a fourth X-Men movie" is turning into a game. Someone really should collect all the quotes coming from everyone involved and stack them up against each other just to see who contradicts who. It can be like Civil War ... "whose side are you on?" A handful of prominent X-actors, including Patrick Stewart, are fully convinced another sequel will happen. Recent talk by Marvel bigwigs would seem to give weight to their argument, although nothing resembling a real plan has been discussed. A larger handful of prominent X-actors are fully convinced the series is finished, and talk from director Brett Ratner seems to give weight to the argument.
I'm all about another movie, but if fucking Ratner directs it I will see it with a scowl on my face, much like the frowning-of-a-lifetime. Ratner!!!! Ratner!!!!


Bunch 'o Bond

The Unscripted series, where two principles from a film ask each other emailed questions, has been loaded up for Casino Royale. The two are Daniel Craig (naturally) and director Martin Campbell.

Nothing overly remarkable, but there is an extended shot from the film showcasing Daniel's now-famous coming-out-of-the-water shot, and some behind-the-scenes tidbits that only I could possibly find fascinating.

Reviews are starting to pour in, now that the release date is only a couple days away, and the film is still getting overwhelmingly positive reviews. Tick tock until Friday.

And, if you have extra spare time at work, you can watch all the previous Bond trailers via Cinematical.

Jack Palance

I'm sure you all know by now that Jack Palance died over the weekend. The thing he's most known for, aside from winning his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for "City Slickers" is his acceptance speech, where in the space of a minute busted on Billy Crystal, displayed some rather racy comic wit, and famously did a few one-armed pushups. It still brings a smile to my face to watch it. (At You Tube.)For me, the primary thing, or role, that I remember him for was Tim Burton's "Batman". Not only did he bring his trademark delivery to its peak, but I can't think of another circumstance where Jack Nicholson, who everyone always does impressions of, did an impression of another actor during a movie. Pretty remarkable.


Spider-Man 3 Trailer

Set your VCR's tonight. Or just wait an extra couple minutes. Via Mania:
    According to the Hollywood Reporter, Spider-Man 3 will receive a TV and online blitz Thursday night when Columbia Pictures unveils a new, full-length, 2 1/2-minute trailer at 10 p.m. in a "road block" across Viacom's online brands and CBS' TV network -- six months before the film's May 4 premiere.

    On CBS, the spot will air after "CSI" and before the James Woods starrer "Shark." On Comedy Central, the trailer will run before a new "South Park" episode, while MTV will show the spot before a new "Real World/Road Rules Challenge." Other TV networks airing the trailer include BET, Logo, MTV2, Spike TV and VH1, with each supporting the event with custom promotions.

    In addition, 14 online destinations from Viacom's networks are supporting the airing, including AddictingGames.com, AddictingClips.com, BET.com, MTV.com, IFilm.com, Nick.com, ComedyCentral.com, GameTrailers.com, LogoOnline.com, Neopets.com, SpikeTV.com, The-N.com, VH1.com, and Xfire.com.

    Immediately after the television premiere, a high-definition version of the trailer will be available exclusively on MTV Networks' IFilm.com.
On the other hand, it may be tough to actually avoid seeing the trailer.


Do I look like I give a damn

Some of the biggest doubters and critics of Daniel Craig are suddenly singing a new tune:
    LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Daniel Craig, the controversial choice to play the new James Bond in the upcoming film "Casino Royale," has won early reviews Miss Moneypenny would be proud of.

    The producers of one of the world's most successful movie franchises were seen taking a considerable risk with Craig, who angry fans said was too blond, too ugly and insufficiently suave to serve on Her Majesty's Secret Service.

    But if the majority of film critics is anything to go by, the risk has paid off handsomely. The 38-year-old, with a proven acting pedigree, has been credited with revitalizing a series some felt had become bloated and over-reliant on clever gadgets.

    "It's a terrific debut," wrote the Daily Telegraph's Sinclair McKay, summing up a weekend of praise from British newspapers eager to get their reviews out early.

    "From the very start, he steps with full assuredness into Sean Connery's old handmade shoes."

    The Times' Wendy Ide appears to take a swipe at some of Craig's five predecessors in the role by concluding her review: "His main asset quickly becomes evident. He can act."
But my favorite line from the movie already is this:
    Several reviewers noted one joke that deliberately breaks a Bond tradition. When asked if he wants his vodka martini shaken or stirred, Craig replies: "Do I look like I give a damn?"
Money in the bank. Dark Horizons has links to all the reviews. Not to be redundant, big I am indeed excited.


Anger, Part 2

Little did I suspect the tiniest post would generate a follow-up

I should clarify about a 'fresh kill' regarding the post on Tuesday. I was trying to analogize the endorphin rush and immediate calming following the verbal or physical unleashing of emotional buildup. Although this typically takes the case of a physical unleashing for me (I hit the gym daily at lunch, often to release tension from buildup of nincompoopery), I hadn't yelled (yelling being a stern and heated talking to type -- not the head-spinning maniacal fuming type, although that, too, has its perks but generally poo-pooed in the work environment) at anyone in a long time.

I found the reward to be different than that of the physical, because while you can work out and release tension and get the endorphins, you won't get the satisfaction of (finally) unloading your frustrations that you have kept bottled up time and again. I often say about myself, that once I've vented, I'm 'over it', and generally that's true about anything. As such, I also issue a disclaimer to not take it personally if you happen to be vented at, because it's just a process to get past the problems that can eat at you if unchecked.

The downside is, I got a taste of the pleasure of mental venting and went looking for more yesterday. When my foolish co-hort made a suggestion to me that sounded like a retreading of his original mistake that caused the verbal take-down, I jumped the gun:
    HIM: So, instead of taking the data from Friday, can I just take it from Monday?
    ME: (heatedly) Does this mean we are YET AGAIN changing the specs???
    HIM: (quickly) No, no. Just should I copy in the data for this one run?
    ME: (dejected) Sure.
I moped away like a child who was told there was no recess. Or, a soldier who was unable to get to bayonet someone that day.



Why is it that the after-effect of yelling at someone feels like a fresh kill?

Bunnies at the movies

I've been spending quite of bit of down time amusing myself with bunnies. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion with your twisted brains, I refer to the 30-second short reenactments of famous movies over at Angry Alien. There are an impressive list of films, but frankly the ones I enjoy the most are the horror films, Texas Chainsaw, Night of the Living Dead, and The Ring. What is notable is that I actually haven't seen any of those films. Horror films tend to scare me, but bunny horror films are interesting. (And a little scary.)


Best Bond Since Connery?

Dark Horizons points to an early review of Casino Royale, posted after a Sun reporter saw a screening of the nearly-finished film. Did he like it?
    I WONDERED if I should do two versions of my review — one for the Bond fans who prefer the tongue-in-cheek Roger Moore and another for those who long for a return to Sean Connery’s classic From Russia With Love. To be honest, those 007 fans who want more Moore — or Pierce Brosnan back — will not like what I am about to say.

    And that is: Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery.

    Craig’s performance is so strong he could even make moviegoers forget there was anyone between himself and Connery. He plays the gritty, tougher-than-nails secret agent novelist Ian Fleming meant the world to see. With his bulked-up frame, intense blue eyes and don’t-mess-with-me attitude, Craig makes Brosnan look a bit girlie in comparison.
The sound you are hearing is the rubbing of my two hands together in eager anticipation for this film. I've spent the last fifteen years waiting for another (I am referring to the last great Bond film, Living Daylights) Bond film to catch my eye, to make me hunger for the old Bond. The wait is nearly over.


The Prestige: Entertainment without 'Illusionist'

At first glance, two films released this fall dealing with magicians from times past, The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton, and The Prestige, starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, would seem to invite comparison. However, like the trickery employed in each movie, this is only from a cursory glance. Having recently seen both films, I found the former to be, while enjoyable, rather thin and easily predictable, and the latter to be dark, sinister, complex, and containing a thoroughly satisfying finish, one that I'm still grasping and relishing in its concept. In short, a far superior movie to its apparent cousin.

While it is true that to discuss The Prestige in any sort of detail is to begin to reveal its secrets, I can contrast the two movies with vagaries to explain why I found one to be much more satisfying an experience. First, The Illusionist, a tale of a poor child who becomes a mysterious conjurer in 18th-century Europe, by coincidence reunited with his childhood love who was ripped away from him and now the fiance of Austria's jerk-of-a-prince. I don't need to go any further to tell you this is a tale of romance, and that no matter what you are shown during the film, you can probably deduce the truth fairly quickly. In fact, probably too quickly; I'm not one to analyze films during the action -- I have a healthy case of disbelief and I like to enjoy the experience the film is supposed to deliver. However, if it's obvious to me what is going on, well, you get the picture.

Additionally, the movie ends without any of the magician's key tricks being revealed. While I know this isn't the sign of any true magician, it leaves you feeling that there's no way this stuff could be accomplished, which, again, is probably the intent of the moviemaker -- we feel a bit like the 18th-century audience. However, from the perspective of the filmgoer as opposed to the theater-goer, this ends up feeling like a screenwriter who didn't know how to write conclusive storytelling.

One particular instance happens at the end of the film, when one of the characters is given his wish to learn how one of the magician's tricks works. He is looking at the notes (we are given cursory glances at them), chuckling and saying 'oh, ho!' to himself, revelling in his understanding of the deception. Now, at that moment, I'm hoping that the filmmaker will let me in on the little secret, too, but alas, I realize that one of the reasons why I can't see how it's done is that no one knows, which cheapens the movie.

Which is not to say that The Illusionist isn't entertaining, nor worth the four bucks to rent. It's a handsome movie with excellent performances by all involved. As long as you stay with the trick and try not to peer into its 'secrets', you'll be fine. However, once you begin to look closely at its secrets, you'll find you're looking a little more than thin air.

'Are you watching closely?' is the tag line of Christopher Nolan's uniquely different magical film, a tag that invites, almost dares you to figure out the deceptions hidden in the movie. We know that something isn't right, that there are to be twists and turns, and like any good trick, the clues are right there for you to see. Only, like a good magician's presentation, they are nearly impossible to see even if you know you are a looking right at them. And when they are revealed, and all the tricks are indeed revealed, there is an exhilarating rush of disbelief, bewilderment over the commitment involved, and, just a little bit of giggling over how you've been had. The Prestige's payoffs are absolutely stunning.

But of course there's more to it than just tricks. Nolan creates a atmosphere of chilling tension throughout the film, using slippery, mysterious supporting characters and wonderful and invigorating settings. But the most tension comes from the two leads' amazing hatred of the other, which is unveiled through a series of mortally threatening tricks on each other. The ends to which each man will go to get the best of his rival knows no bounds, and after finished, is truly breathtaking to comprehend.

Are you watching closely? The difference between the two films is that one is light supper, and the other is a pulse-pounding unexpected treat. One is indeed an illusion, while the other a well-executed cinematic conjurment. Abra cadabra.


The Anticipation

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a fan of movies. And not just movies, but I'm one of those people who get the special edition DVDs and occasionally watches the movies with the commentary ON. I love to hear the inside tales of production, the director or writer's angles, and the occasional funny story.

I also love to read reviews for movies. The more eruditic or witty the reviewer, the better. (Walter Chaw is my favorite.) And reading reviews for great films is almost as fun as reading for bad. (E.g., X3: "It's Michael Bay's Schindler's List!")

Unfortunately, the downside of this saturation is that I'll be dissuaded from seeing the film altogether (e.g., the reviews of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 were less than enticing, and haven't bothered with it), or worse, I'll be looking forward to it with unattainable expectations.

Such may have been the case with The Departed, a film that had everything going for it: a great cast, a cool story, a great director, and nearly unanimously praising reviews. So, why when I went to see it on opening night did I come away with a 'very good -- but not great' feeling? The performances were outstanding, the dialogue was funny, there was genuine tension throughout. But I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Maybe it was the repeated references to Goodfellas in the reviews. Some even went on to say it was 'as good as'. I was expecting more contemporary music, for sure, but really I think that I was sitting there saying, "This is no 'Goodfellas'" rather than appraising the movie on its own merits. As such, I'm going to wait 'til I see it again to pass judgment.

That said, I'm a little nervous about two more movies I've been rabidly looking forward too. The first, The Prestige, is already getting a few reviews in, and although I wawnt to read them, I'm fairly skeptical of a couple things. First, of the above expectations being led one way or another. Second, in a statement to the press, Chris Nolan (the director) wrote:
    "The Prestige is a mystery structured as a cinematic magic trick. In order to allow audiences to fully enjoy the unfolding of the story, we respectfully ask that you not reveal too much about the deceptions at the heart of the film."
In short, I've been burned before by some idiot or reviewer who either tries to be too clever in their puns or is too insensitive to not reveal a secret. And besides all that, I'm going to see it anyway, so I'm going to attempt to avoid reviews this week. (This is more difficult than it sounds on a slow work-week.)

The second movie is next months' uber-anticipated revival of the James Bond series, Casino Royale. I have been rabidly consuming regular viewings of the outstanding trailer and the many tidbits from the official site. Of course, I will see this film in the theaters, but I worry about my expectations being too high. It does look like the Bond film I've always wanted, Daniel Craig acts liks a Bond I've always wanted, but I've been fooled by trailers before. Still, very tough to downplay the first Bond film I've actually anticipated since, well, I can't recall when. Unfortunately, on one of the video blogs on the site they mentioned a late scene involving a character that I thought was a surprise (i.e., a deviation from the book's character), so I'm going to have to wave-off seeing any more spoilers. Arrgh.

You know, I guess there's a good reason for having a need-to-know basis.

Air in tires

I just took my 1999 Jetta in for a series of electrical repairs, from fixing the intermittently-working taillight to the never-working AM radio. (Truthfully, I don't think that the AM radio ever worked, but I'm listening to a lot more talk radio than I used to. Yes, a sure sign of aging.) The dealership is diligently making the repairs as I type this.

I could have picked a better week to bring it in, since it is and is forecasting to rain all day. Chilly rain isn't great biking weather. Still, I've had worse.

My curiosity led me to Google common Jetta problems, just to see if my issues have come up with others. Didn't see any, but I did find an interesting 'feature':
    1999 Jetta: If the vehicle is driven with a rear flat tire, the fuel-tank filler neck can wear, causing a fuel leak and possible fire.
So, note to self: make sure to stop at local gas station on way home to fill up tire and avoid explosion. Good times.


Casino Royale: New trailer

Good lord I can't recall when I've been this excited about a movie, really any movie, especially a Bond film. Thanks to my repeated viewings of the new trailer, I don't think my expectations could be higher for this flick. Is it just my wildly distorted perception, or is Daniel Craig just money-in-the-bank in this role? As money as my perfectly shaped ass, I'd say.


Heads in the sand

Rarely political in this blog, but sometimes when I laugh out loud at news reports, I just have to post it.

In yet another demonstration of the iron-willed stupidity that continues to have Israel beating down on Hezbollah, the terrorist organization is refusing to leave Southern Lebanon. Well, not exactly. They are prepared to remove men and weapons, on the condition that Lebanon remain oblivious:
    Hezbollah indicated it would be willing to pull back its fighters and weapons in exchange for a promise from the army not to probe too carefully for underground bunkers and weapons caches, the officials said.
In other words, if you close your eyes, I am not there. In other words, if you turn around, I am invisible. In other words, we promise to continue to do the same thing as we have been doing for years. In other words, we are assholes.


Vacation's all I ever wan-ted

Posting will be extremely light over the next week, and by light I mean non-existent as I will be at the Outer Banks. Please direct your positive 'chi', thoughts of envy, and hate mail here. I'll be waiting. On the beach.

Note: Acts of God such as tropical storms and hurricanes are DISALLOWED.


Natalie: Gangsta Style

Natalie Portman is the epitome of what geeks want in a woman; cute, smart, and the mother of Luke Skywalker. But what is Natalie really like? This Saturday Night Live skit reveals she might be a little too much for you to handle.

Update: If you can't get it on youtube, you can see it on MSN video.


Getting hit with a fish

How many times have you wondered "what is the most fun I could have with this dead fish?". Before you mull it over too long, in England, the question has long since been answered: Conger cuddling:
    Conger cuddling is a traditional event in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, in which a dead conger eel is thrown at members of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Part of the town's "Lifeboat Week", the eel is attached to a rope and thrown at nine people standing on flowerpots in a manner similar to skittles. There are two teams involved in a last man standing competition.

    The event, which attracts around 3,000 people annually, was used to raise funds for the RNLI. It has been called the "most fun a person could have with a dead fish".

    The event started in the early 1970s when Richard Fox, a retired publican, organised the first event. It became a tradition of the town, drawing numerous spectators. However, in 2006 the RNLI made the decision that the event was "inappropriate" after a complaint was made. When it was next held (28 July 2006) the eel had been replaced by a buoy, but there are talks of a replacement, plastic eel being made for 2007.
So, in the tradition of Monty Python's common bit of getting smacked in the head with a fish, which came first, the sport or the comedy skit? This will surely inspire debate and research in only the most dedicated/dorky. And lo, I've thrown down the gauntlet by gleefully writing about it. Dork, indeed.

A Knight's Tale about The Dark Knight?

Cinescape has reported that Warner Brothers has named Heath Ledger as the Joker for the sequel to Batman Begins:
    Warner Brothers has sent out a press release announcing that the upcoming sequel to BATMAN BEGINS will be titled THE DARK KNIGHT and feature Heath Ledger as the Joker.

    "I'm excited to continue the story we started with Batman Begins," Christopher Nolan said in a statement. "Our challenge in casting the Joker was to find an actor who is not just extraordinarily talented, but fearless. Watching Heath Ledger's interpretation of this iconic character taking on Christian Bale's Batman is going to be incredible."

    The script will be written by Nolan's brother, Jonathan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. Christopher Nolan and Goyer co-wrote last year's BATMAN BEGINS. Filming on THE DARK KNIGHT is expected to get underway in early 2007.
First, let's just go ahead and say the title of the sequel is as good as Revenge of the Sith was for that series. Nolan has set the standard very high with his reboot of the Batman series, and he's started off on the right foot with the simplest, yet important step.

Regarding Heath Ledger, I haven't seen a lot of his work. I've seen parts of A Knight's Tale, and I have to admit the only other films he's worked on that I've seen in their entirety were The Patriot and, well, 10 Things I Hate About You. That said, I have no complaints about the casting choice. In fact, I'd have to say I'm actually relieved that Nolan decided to go with an actor as opposed to a comedian (Robin Williams, a name tossed about), a freak (Crispin Glover) or a scene-stealing ham (Nicholson in Tim Burton's original).

Nolan's Batman series (funny calling it a series after only one) has set the tone as being as reality-based and dark as possible. I think Ledger can bring a lot to the role, mostly based on a gut feeling I have about him. Clearly it can't be based on my incredible library of roles I've seen him in. I just think there's something about him that could make for a very interesting portrayal of Gotham's most insane murderer. Or maybe it's because his natural smile already resembles Nicholson's sans makeup.


No need to buy

Cinescape has a short blurb about the release date of the X3 DVD release:
    X-MEN: THE LAST STAND will come to DVD in the fourth-quarter of this year. 20th Century Fox will reportedly announce on Friday that the movie will hit shelves on October 3, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film has made over $233 million at the box office and will be released in two extra-laden special editions.
Yippie-kai-yay motherfucker. I will not fall into the trap that I affectionately refer to as the Matrix: Revolutions folly and buy the DVD just to complete the series collection. X3 is the single most disappointing movie of the year, and clearly, of the series. Or, as a much snarkier commenter on that Cinescape page put it: "Too bad they don't have a DVD with an alternate X3 movie. Or maybe an alternate director and writers."

PS. The picture of Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde is there to note that every blind squirrel finds a nut.


King of all Film

What is it with Hugh Jackman? The trailer for yet another interesting and original-looking film, The Fountain, has me looking to buy my ticket. (The website is just trippy. Exactly what I'd expect from Aronofsky.) Paired with the upcoming The Prestige, it appears as though Jackman has cornered the market on cool movies. Or he has an arrangement with the Post Office to have all good scripts rerouted to his door. Whatever deal he has made, it is clearly with the devil. And it looks worth it.


The Prestige

What's that you ask? What is the coolest and most intriguing movie coming to a theater near you? Why of course it's The Prestige:
    From acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Batman Begins"), comes a mysterious story of two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy full of obsession, deceit and jealousy with dangerous and deadly consequences.
    From the time that they first met as young magicians on the rise, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) were competitors. However, their friendly competition evolves into a bitter rivalry making them fierce enemies-for-life and consequently jeopardizing the lives of everyone around them. Full of twists and turns, "The Prestige" is set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, the exceptional cast includes two-time Oscar® winner Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie.
You still doubt me? Go see the trailer, then come back and apologize. I'll wait.


35 and counting

The time has finally come for yet another landmark birthday that a lot of people didn't foresee me making. As of 11:22 PM EST this evening, I will officially be 35 years of age.

As per the custom, this landmark birthday has inspired some self-reflection, some bits of angst, and some liver bashing. What has added a bit more of pondering about this year is that it is also the 10th anniversary of my moving to Washington, D.C. from Philadelphia, which means I've now lived here exactly as long as I had in Pennsylvania (counting my stint at State College, that is).

This does not mean I'm going to root for the Redskins. I'm afraid that I cannot in good conscience switch teams within divisions. Although I am sympathetic to the Redskins because of the many friends and relatives I have down here, my two premier teams will remain the Bills and Eagles. (I've contemplated who I would root for in a Superbowl matchup between the two teams (as if I would have to worry about that), and I have to give the edge to the Bills. But not by much.)

I've always had a fascination with the area as a kid, so it's probably no surprise that I feel at home down here. I remember the first time visiting D.C. when I was about seven and marveling at the beltway. Eight lanes just seemed so immense, at least compared to growing up in Allegany, NY. I could do a bit without the swamp-like heat in the summer, but the change of seasons, proximity to the beach, and plentiful bike trails are right up my alley.

So, since I've been down here, what have I accomplished? What have I learned since I was a mere pup of 25? What has changed? The appearance is probably the most striking. Back in the day I had fairly long, thick hair and was a skinny kid of about 165. Now, with the virtually shaved head that I've had since 2001 and another 20 pounds on the physique, it's a kinder, gentler, future me.

I've picked up the habit of working out on a daily basis, with weights and cardio, and kept that habit for about the last 7 years or so. That change in my lifestyle has allowed me to keep a strong social life while keeping off the rigors of a slowing metabolism. (Much of that 20 pounds is muscle.) Like my old math teacher used to say, moderation in everything.

I like to think the secret of my own personal health and sanity is moderation and balance. Never too much of any one activity, whether it be working out or drinking or work or play or writing. A combination keeps (my) mind at its least stressful. I know that I could never be truly happy just writing or just writing code, just reading books on the beach or just socializing. I've learned a lot about who I am, and I know what it takes to make me happy. The real challenge is actually DOING it, or combating laziness to do it.

A few weeks back I had issued an email to a bunch of friends asking for one word that they thought encapsulated me. Although this may sound like an invitation to uncomfortable responses, all of them were quite thoughtful and perceptive. However, probably the best (I thought) was "work-in-progress". The search, the journey itself is what drives me; complacency at a job, in relationships, in self invariably lead to stagnation. As such, I doubt the day I die (if I have a chance to reflect) that I will consider my life complete. And it doesn't bother me. What matters to me is to always have something to strive for, to be passionate about.

So, what has been 'accomplished' over the last 10 years? I completed my first 'real' movie script since I've been down here and written over 50,000 words of a book (which I'm currently backstorying at a snails pace, but it IS being done). I've purchased my first car, bed, TV, computer, and couch, but I really need to get some damn golf clubs to replace my 30-year-old ones. I've swam in the ocean at midnight (a great fear of mine). I've drawn and framed works in charcoal, pencil, and pastel. I've seen Penn State kick the crap out of Nebraska with 110,000 other rabid fans at Beaver Stadium. I've traveled to at least 15 states and Canada (okay, 16 then). I've taught classes in a computer language that I only just learned the week before. (For someone who is afraid of public speaking, once you've been thrust into that situation, everything else is a bit easier.) I have opened a savings account and have become entirely debt-free. I've managed wireless for a publishing company. I've programmed a custom solution to software that didn't have any reporting. I've gotten a degree as a PMP (Project Management Professional). I've changed a frickin' tire on my car. I've failed to break any teeth or bones. I have three permanent wrinkles in my forehead from raising my eyebrows at incompetence. I have broken a 5-iron while hitting a perfectly good tee shot. I have done all this and more, and most importantly, I have survived. For some, that is a big enough accomplishment.

Financially, I am certainly in better shape than when I was 25. Being single, living in a low-rent house, biking to work, and engaging in a high-paying activity will do that for you. And speaking of being single, although I recently (well, several months ago) ended a long-term relationship, I don't have any regrets about those I have dated. For one reason or another, I know the right decision was made.

Which brings me to something that I certainly didn't know when I was 25: what I want in a companion/girlfriend/wife. Although this actually leads to less dating, as the pool will naturally shrink once you know what you want and more specifically what you do not want. I could probably easily list off the traits that I need to have (not a long list), those that I can deal with either way, and those that I cannot put up with (again, not a long list). All this comes with the territory of hitting 35, and although in past times one would consider 35 to be of incorrigible bachelor age, for Generation X and Y and beyond, it's nearly par for the course.

So, do I feel older? Slightly. I consider myself to be in better shape than I was 10 years ago, but I am aware of certain things in my body creaking a bit more. I don't feel older per se. I am more mature? Against my will, certainly. You pick up things along the way, you get 'over' acting like you are in your 20's, and I have successfully stopped sucking my thumb. But, what's strange to me is that my attitude, my personality, my goofiness and sarcasm, hasn't tempered at all with age. I am as relieved as I am a bit surprised, at least compared to my vision of what I'd be like from 25. As much as I could bear it, that is; I couldn't much imagine 35 back then any more than I can really see 45. Ick.

In any event, this rambling, self-indulgent prose has come to completion, and we are all happy for it. If you've made it this far, then chances are you are a friend or you are incredibly bored at work. My friends, of course, the ones I've made and the ones I've kept over these years, are my biggest accomplishment. Thanks and fade out.


Mission: Improbable (yet succeeds)

It goes without saying that Tom Cruise's recent antics of Scientology hawking, couch jumping, psychiatry attacking and South Park censoring (to name a few) have done close-to-irrepairable damage to his once impeccable image. In the space of a year's time, he's become an intriguingly dichotomous person -- at once the most ridiculed and powerful actor in show business. Even though this negative press has kept people away, whether in protest or just because they got the 'creeps', from Mission: Impossible III.

Despite all this negative publicity surrounding its seemingly unhinged star, the reviews for Mission: Impossible III have on average been not rotten, but often quite disparate. Just perusing over a few you'll have one finding it to be awesome and another it to be dreck. I'll admit I have a prediliction (I did not know you were so kinky!) for reading spoiler-free reviews prior to a film and detailed reviews afterwards. Of course, at the end of the day, overwhelmingly positive reviews won't make me go and negative reviews won't make me stay away. I will see what I want to see.

So, even though there is all this swirl around Tom Cruise, that didn't influence my choice to view the film. What has had more impact is the last one, M:I:ii, which sacrificed a lot of character development and plot for stunt acrobatics (expected of Director John Woo). It worked on a visual level, but otherwise it left me feeling rather disappointed. However, this time around, with J.J. Abrams (of 'Alias' and 'Lost' fame) on board to direct and script the film, I was more than curious to see what would happen. Certainly, I knew he wouldn't hire Tom Crooze.

In any event, somehow I found M:I:iii was playing in a theater right next door to where I work, and it was a slow evening, so I decided to take a gamble and see what it was all about. Here's 10 things I found out:
  1. It is by far the best of the three MI films. I know that this isn't saying a lot comparatively for some. I liked the first, and the second was pretty good. Neither are much more than neat espionage films. M:I:iii just flat out surpasses them. From the opening heart-stopping interrogation scene to the first end credit, the film rolls along at a riveting pace and never looks back. And you don't want it to.
  2. As with all action films, there is a degree of believability that you have to suspend in the action sequences. Once you get past that, the scenes are taut and exciting.
  3. Tom Cruise displays human emotions, draws empathy, somehow forms a character you like (i.e., not just some action guru), and actually mocks himself. Believe it or not someone actually mimics his 'couch jumping' episode in the film.
  4. It contains the most blatant macguffin since Pulp Fiction, and just like in that film, you couldn't care less. It's not important what it does, just that everybody wants it. J.J.'s script actually has fun with this.
  5. I want to marry Michelle Monaghan, too. She is sweet, emotional, and drop-dead gorgeous, without being of supermodel quality.
  6. The IMF team (Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Maggie Q), while clearly the support for Ethan Hunt, aren't relegated to the background and are each given multiple moments to shine.
  7. The dialog is peppered with great one-liners, subtle moments of character vulnerability, and intense exchanges, especially between Hunt and Owen Davian. Speaking of Owen Davian, Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't steal the movie, nor did he rescue it, but goddam can this guy play loathesome menace. Oh wait, that is an academy award on his mantle.
  8. Keri Russell's agent character was believable and incredibly moving. I will credit the writing and pacing as well as the performance. To go into detail would be to spoil.
  9. With J.J. on the job (and this is a Mission: Impossible film), you know that there's going to be plot twists amany. You kind of come to expect that all isn't what it seems, so I can say that I wasn't exactly surprised at the twists, but they were handled effectively. I will admit during once particularly shocking scene I was had, until I figured it out a few seconds later. Enough for me to smile at myself for enjoying what the film intended.
  10. It was worth the $7.50 and will be worth owning on DVD.
So, it's pretty apparently that I have been thoroughly brainwashed by Scientology's subliminal mind-control in this film. All hail Xenu and Tom Cruise!


Should've said "Jebus"

Here's a punishment you can avoid by being a fan of the Simpsons (specifically this one:
    HONOLULU - Junior Stowers raised his hands and exclaimed, "Thank you, Jesus!" in court last month when he was acquitted by a jury of abusing his son. But his joy was short-lived when Circuit Judge Patrick Border held him in contempt of court for the "outburst" and threw him in jail.

    Stowers, 47, sat in the courtroom and a cellblock for about six hours until the judge granted him a hearing on the contempt charge and released him...But his attorney in the contempt case, Deputy Public Defender Susan Arnett, said he wasn't treated fairly...

    "I don't think there's anything about saying 'Thank you, Jesus' that rises to the level of contemptuous behavior in this case," she told The Honolulu Advertiser. Stowers is a devoutly religious man active in his church who spontaneously expressed his thanks to the higher power in which he believed, she said.
Hopefully, people won't make that big of a deal about it. My guess is the judge had just about enough of Captain Devout. I already have and I wasn't even there.


Cool Poster of the Day

The award goes to the new teaser poster for Spider-Man 3.

The Last Word on Jenny

Ever since Brad Pitt got together with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston started shlumping around the planet, to mention any one of those three to a woman was to invite an impromptu litmus test of her level of insecurity. It's difficult to really criticize those that condemn Brad for leaving her (allegedly) for a younger, hotter, more successful, more world-conscious, sexier woman; it's the greatest fear of many to be replaced by the young.It's unlikely that there was physical infidelity on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith whilst the Pitt-Aniston union was winding down. What is very likely is that there was emotional infidelity, and it may or may not have inspired the divorce. The marriage was failing, here's a woman who's better in every regard and could help you become a better man; it's a no-brainer.Did Angelina "steal" Jennifer's man? That question prompts more eye rolls in me than should be humanly possible. Thankfully I came across a throwaway response to this question, courtesy of What Would Tyler Durden Do:
    This actually sounds really mean, except I don't like Jennifer Aniston, so I don't really care. The victim the article doesn't mention is all of us, who will have to listen to Jennifer's bratty ass whine for another year just because she was beaten by someone better. Not only is Jolie 8 billion times hotter, she's a better actress and a better person. It's the difference between a Mercedes SL600 and a donkey that fell in the mud.


Indiana Jones and the Hammer of Truth

Happy 64th birthday to Harrison Ford! And as a birthday present for our longest living action hero, Paramount has decided to go the Snakes on a Plane route of bluntly describing what the film is really about with the new title for the next Indiana Jones movie:
    Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time is the current working title given to what will be the fourth of the Indiana Jones series of theatrical films. The film will be the fourth released, though the twenty-sixth episode chronologically, in a series of film and TV productions about the adventures of the heroic fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones.
Okay, okay, it's a working title, but so was Snakes on a Plane. (Incidentally, wouldn't Indiana just hate to be there?) Sounds like there's still some humor left in the ol' man after all. Either way, I'll be in the theater for it. Trust me.


Superman Returns

It's difficult to try to formulate the reaction I had into a nice succinct little blog. Not so much because I have an obvious problem with putting words to screen, but because I found Bryan Singer's Superman Returns a complex, moving, thoroughly enjoyable epic that should be ranked with Spider-Man 2 as film not afraid to stretch the bounds of traditional canonical lore and explore the character of the 'super' hero. [There, I guess that wasn't so tough, was it?]

Although the pacing of the first half-hour seemed a little off, once Superman appeared on the scene with the exhilarating shuttle rescue, I never again noticed the passage of time.

I should mention that the performances are all top-notch. Of course, the big question is whether Brandon Routh could pull off the role, and let's just say he succeeded. At some point early on, I just saw the character on screen as Superman, instead of some new-faced kid on the block.

As with every film, there were some little flaws with the movie that I would have nitpicked or fixed. (The premier of these would be to change the way Lois is kidnapped.) However, I'm not aware of any film that couldn't use a nip/tuck here and there, so I tend to wash over those little points. Those who can't suspend disbelief shouldn't be going to see a Superman film in the first place.

On the other hand, the film is wrought with moving, iconic moments, from homaged action poses to epic, brutal showdowns to soft, bittersweet moments of familial interaction. There are a lot of detailed recollections I could go into, but I'm going to talk about just one example, and one that does not have any plot spoilers per se. I'm that kind of guy.

One of the first things that you see Superman do with his new powers is something that most of us would do with them; spy on other people. In this case, his former love Lois Lane and her family at home. Although quite a few have found this to be rather creepy, I think it is consistent with the character's theme in this film, which is alienation, loneliness, longing, frustration. Yes, even for a God. Even the best, most super man has his needs and wants, and this superhero is shown to be the most vulnerable of all. His love has moved on, has a son and a fiance who is not a jerk (in fact is a human version of a super man), and during the super-eavesdropping even says she never loved Superman (not that we believe her). Well, that's what you get for spying on people; sometimes you hear things you didn't want to know in the first place.

When we feel rejected or hurt, sometimes it's too much to bear to think about, and we throw ourselves into activities, whether it be going out or sports or work. It was a nice touch to make Superman's reaction be a rather human one, in that he flies away clearly emotionally kicked-in-the-gut, and proceeds to throw himself into his work. Only his work involved flying around and fighting crime. Not just in Metropolis, but all over the world as the next day the news reports sightings of Superman in dozens of countries. It's a pretty clear and wonderfully subtle indication that he did not want to stop to think about his personal life, or lack thereof.

Superman Returns is not a kiddies' movie. It is a film made for adults that rewards the viewer who can look past the dazzling special effects, inspiring score, and hero-vs-villain line and understand what the characters must be feeling. If you can do that, then you are in for a treat.


Doppleganger alert

Linguo has tried to implicate me in his own conspiracy. Although I still write from time-to-time, I haven't gotten around to finishing my first book. As such, I have NOT been published under the alias "Max Barry" for the book Jennifer Government, no matter how much the author's picture has been doctored.On a cheerier side note, I will be appearing at the Georgetown Barnes and Noble next Saturday from 1 to 1:15 for an 'impromptu' signing of Max's books. Reserve your place now.


Captain... Kirk...

Via Cinescape, it's being reported that Matt Damon is very interested in playing Captain Kirk:
    Yahoo!'s The Insider reports that J.J. Abrams is very interested in casting Matt Damon as Captain Kirk in his upcoming STAR TREK Movie.

    Marc S. Malkin of The Insider writes, "Will MATT DAMON get beamed up? Could happen. I'm told J.J. ABRAMS is very interested in casting the Oscar-winning Damon as a young Captain Kirk in the upcoming 'Star Trek' movie that he's directing and producing. He's so interested that he's apparently already sought support from the original Kirk, WILLIAM SHATNER. "Shatner gave his blessing," my source says. "J.J. got his approval." Damon first popped up in Trekkie circles as soon as the Abrams-'Star Trek' deal was announced. Rumor had it that the new movie would center on Kirk and Spock's early days at a space academy. "J.J. wants Damon as Capt. Kirk," my source reports. "He really loves the idea."
My first reaction was along the lines of "KHANNNNN!", but I instead went for the more ubiquitous and always reliable, "NOOOOOO!". I loved Damon in The Bourne Identity, but I think that they should probably go along the lines of Superman Returns and try and cast unknowns in the lead roles. There will be too many comparisons and it'll be distracting otherwise.

My second reaction was to recall the infamous Team America bit where Matt Damon appears, but can only dumbly say his own name. To... boldly... go... where...

Incidentally, while looking for a pic of Kirk, I stumbled upon The Captain Kirk page, where you can see a 5 minute video cataloguing the 'Last Battle' between the Enterprise of Kirk and the one of Picard. It's assembled from clips from the shows, and is hilariously on the side of Kirk. My favorite part is when Riker and Data are in the middle of spouting suggestions of a shuttle or a tractor beam to Picard, we cut to Kirk who basically says "Fire!"


The Movie I Love to Hate

Cinescape made an announcement today that I've been dreading:
    The sequel to the cult hit, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, is set to begin production. The cast is all set to return, excluding Willem Dafoe.

    A box office flop and critical bomb, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS was written and directed by Troy Duffy. The film found a cult following once it hit DVD, making millions for Fox.
This forced me to become of registered user on Cinescape so I could make the following observation as 'cthomasflood':
    I have a few friends who swore by this movie, so I rented it. It lives up to the hype of being a pastiche of every single indie action film that came before it. It has a couple of entertaining scenes, all involving Willem Dafoe (who won't be involved in the sequel). The symbolism is heavy-handed, the plot is idiotic, and the 'message' of the film is ridiculous. It is a film written by a fool for an audience of simpletons. Enjoy.

    On the other hand, I loved 'Attack of the Clones', so what do I know?
I really relate to a comment by 'marshalwdr':
    That movie was so bad, it didn't make me laugh, it made me angry. They way he ripped off everything from Tarantino to Silence of the Lambs and then claimed he was such a revolutionary film maker...it was just ridiculous. Not to mention the over all sillyness of the plot and over the top acting and directing. This is one of my top 5 worst films of all time. I can't wait for the sequel.
That pretty much nails how I feel about it. Not so much disappointed as filled with rage. How people love this tripe kills me.


Your musical God is dead. Long live... Oasis?

In what is undoubtedly a shock to most music-going folks, Oasis' debut album came out on top of "Sgt. Pepper's" in a list of Greatest Albums of All-Time from the UK
    :LONDON - "Definitely Maybe," the debut album by Oasis, has beaten the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in a British vote for the greatest album of all time, organizers said Thursday.
    The Beatles also took third place with "Revolver" and had three other albums in the Top 100 in the vote staged by British Hit Singles & Albums, an annual publication, and NME.com.

    The vote was announced in last year's edition of British Hit Singles & Albums, said editor David Roberts. Anyone could vote for as many as 10 albums, in rank order, and probably 95 percent of the 40,000 votes came from Britain, he said.
Here are the top ten from the list:
    1. "Definitely Maybe," Oasis.
    2. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," The Beatles.
    3. "Revolver," The Beatles.
    4. "OK Computer," Radiohead.
    5. "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?" Oasis.
    6. "Nevermind," Nirvana.
    7. "The Stone Roses," The Stone Roses.
    8. "Dark Side of the Moon," Pink Floyd.
    9. "The Queen Is Dead," The Smiths.
    10. "The Bends," Radiohead.
What is most shocking to me is that I own every single album on this list and love every one. "Definitely Maybe" deserves a rank above the much-ballyhooed "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?", but not sure that it's anything other than blasphemous to put something ahead of "Sgt. Pepper's". Of course, as I am one to blasphemise with regularity, I salute the voters. Anyway, it's likely that a large portion of them weren't even born when "Sgt. Pepper's" came out (like myself).

I might have shuffled a few of the albums on the list, but otherwise I'm fairly content with their representation of my New Order. Don't know how my influence has reached across the Atlantic, but to my new underlings, I say, "I will be your benevolent overlord."

Gambit Sawyer

One of my avid readers (avid, heh), upon reading my X3 rant from Tuesday, sent me an email asking if I'd seen the following trivia factoid from IMDB about the rumored casting of Gambit:
    Josh Holloway was offered the role of Gambit, but turned it down because the character was too similar to his character on "Lost" (2004). As a result, the character was never added to the film since this would have been a special cameo put in later had Josh decided to sign on.
Interesting. At face value, I'm glad Josh didn't agree. I actually think it would be pretty good casting, but the last thing that movie needed was another cameo, and not from a character that deserves a lot more.

However, I find it a little suspicious, because the rumor has been reported in many places with almost the exact same verbiage. If you were to Google it, you can get quite a few instances of the same story using almost the exact same words (for instance, here).In 7th grade, this would be known as plagiarism, but I'm not familiar with internet gossip columns. Of course, this also could mean that it was just copied and pasted from one single source, which makes the likelihood of this being just a rumor all the more likely. On the other hand, it could be standard operation procedure for reporting gossip to use the same words. Either way, I'm glad it never came to fruition.