Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Malls Of America

As someone who grew up in a city with three dead malls, and another that just remodeled its 70's interior, I'm fascinated by these websites. Who knew the fucking mall could be so interesting (and ugly)?

Malls of America

Dead Malls

Monday, July 25, 2005

Weekend At The Movies

Not that I tried to see all the movies that came out last weekend; it just worked out that way.

When I heard that there was a movie called The Island in production, I thought that Hollywood had hit the bottom of the remake barrel, and was remaking the Michael Caine pirate movie of the same name. I was relieved to find out this was not the case, but was no less comforted by the fact that the Anti-Christ himself, Michael Bay, was directing. Bay's previous directorial and producing endeavors have been box-office hits, at the cost of any artistic integrity or intelligence. In other words, Bay makes big, dumb movies that people love. So, needless to say, I approached Bay's Island with a bit of trepidation.

If you've seen any previews or heard anything about the movie, you know the plot involves Ewan and Scarlett being on an island, and then not being on an island. There's actually a lot more to it than that, but I'll leave it at that.

First things first: This is honestly not the worst movie I have ever seen. This was surprising, as Bay is one of those directors that can top himself in awfulness every time out. (I thought it was impossible to top the embarrassment that was Armageddon. Then I saw Pearl Harbor, and stood corrected.) Bay has made a film that is actually watchable. Sure, it's big and loud like all his other movies, but is not as dumb as it should be. In fact, only the second half is big and loud, as the first half is a fairly decent suspenser about the true nature of "The Island." Bay even seems to have dialed down his usual explosions in favor of some decent action scenes. (People may think that a flatbed loaded with train wheels is rather ridiculous, but any hobo will tell you they see them all the time.) Even the ending isn't as ridiculous as it should be, although though there are some touches of that You're-going-to-cry-even-if-I-have-to-kick-you-in-the-balls sentimentality at the end.

So, why is this "decent" Michael Bay, as opposed to "complete shit" Michael Bay? I would say the absence of usual producing partner Jerry Bruckheimer has something to do with it. Bruckheimer loves "big and dumb," and was apparently too busy developing more spinoffs of CSI to be involved in this. His presence is not missed, as it appears to have made this movie more enjoyable.

It's a tragedy that this movie is turning out to be a major flop (I saw it opening night, and I was one of five people in the theatre), as it is the best movie Michael Bay has ever made. Which ain't saying much, but it's something.

The other movie I saw this weekend, about which I can't say enough, is The Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie's pseudo-sequel to his House of 1000 Corpses. I really didn't know what to think going into this one. Corpses sat on the shelf for three years before it was released, not only because it was mercilessly grim and violent, but because it was a shitty movie. (Sitting on the shelf is the fate of many a shitty movie. Witness all the shitty Vin Diesel movies that came out after the success of XXX. They were all "off the shelf".) So, what did Zombie do in the five years since his last movie making endeavor? Apparently, he learned how to make a good movie. ("Good" is a subjective term here, kinda like, "It's good I only lost one eye in that explosion.")

The plot, which is nearly non-existent, revolves around the surviving members of the Firefly family running from the vengeful brother of the cop they killed in Corpses. Along the way, they kill some people, kidnap others: just the usual fun stuff that families do on a roadtrip.

Lots of "genre" movie fans lined up to see Tarantino's Kill Bill, because it promised to be an homage to all of these genre films. And it was. But he tried to cram so many genres into two movies (anyone who believes that Kill Bill, Vols. 1 & 2 were ever one movie is an idiot) that it turned into a jumbled mess. It's a lot of shit to throw against the wall, and not much of it stuck.

Zombie chose another route, and just went with one genre: the "Classic" 70's Exploitation Film. No samurais, no zombies, just pure sex and violence, with no plot to get in the way. (A lot of 70's exploitation films featured samurais and zombies, but their plotlines actually consisted of more than sex and violence.) And it's pretty obvious that Zombie is a big fan and has seen all of these movies, because he slam dunks it. Everything is spot-on perfect. He even knows how to lighten the proceedings by throwing in some clever in-jokes. If only Tarantino were this smart.

Now, it may sound like I'm recommending this, but I'm not. In fact, if you don't enjoy movies like Last House on the Left and I Spit On Your Grave, you should avoid this movie like poison. It's not for the squeamish. But, if you're a 70's Tobe Hooper or Wes Craven fan, get in line. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Your 2005 Emmy Nominees

As no one actually cares about the Emmys, I thought maybe I'd try to drum up some interest, as I think it's been a pretty good TV year. I won't cover everything, as there are about 9000 categories. (Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series? What is that exactly?) Some random thoughts:

Drama Series
I can totally see how Rescue Me and The Wire missed the cut so that The West Wing and Six Feet Under could get nominated. Makes perfect sense.

Comedy Series
So, Arrested Development is gonna take it in the ass because the Emmy folks decided that Desperate Housewives is a comedy. Right, and Family Guy is supposed to be funny.

Reality Program and Reality-Competition Program
If these are categories, where's "Best Muscular Dystrophy Telethon"? "Best Public Access Program"? "Best Sabado Gigante Episode"? All that being said, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! winning would please me. And that Sabado Gigante episode with the smoking hot girl with big tits...oh, wait, that's EVERY episode of Sabado Gigante. That Don Francisco is a genius!!

Actor, Drama Series
I can't help notice that Denis Leary's name has been misspelled "Hank Azaria". I'm sure the Emmy people will have this straightened out by the time Mr. Leary accepts his award.

Actress, Drama Series
If Glenn Close doesn't win, the Emmys should just fold it up, because that's a fuck up on the scale of thinking that Yes, Dear is watchable.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series
The following statement has never been uttered before, nor will it ever again, but I'm a HUGE Terry O'Quinn fan. Loved this guy since he beat that guy to death with a 2x4 during a house showing in The Stepfather. That being said, of course he'll lose.

Actress, Comedy Series
Teri Hatcher. Duh. Not because she's a talented actress, or is any good on this show, but because that's whom stupid people (ie Emmy voters) would vote for. I'd also like to say, because four of five nominees in this category fit the criteria, that I'd like to see a moratorium on the "controlling bitch wife" character on sitcoms. Like that's how women are in real li...oh, yeah. Never mind.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series
There are two actors in this category who equally deserve this award, but won't win, due to voters' answers to these two questions:
1) What the fuck is Arrested Development?
2) Who the hell is Jeremy Piven?

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series
How Two and a Half Men has not one, but two nominees in this category is beyond me. I wasn't aware this was still on TV. Where's Michael Chiklis' nomination for Daddio? That's still on, right?

Guest Actor, Will and Grace
Didn't think this was a category, but the nominees prove me wrong. Seriously though, the fact that Ben Stiller's appearance as Tony Wonder on Arrested Development is not For Your Consideration is a crime against nature.

Animated Program (One Hour or Less)
So, now mid-season replacements can get nominated? Family Guy fields seven episodes, and even the laziest cable shows field at least eight, yet this gets nominated. (Grey's Anatomy got a shitload of nominations, too.) Even though I fall in with the 95% of Americans who don't watch Family Guy or find it funny, I feel sorry for those who do, as it's only a matter of time before Fox cancels it, because they were nice enough to schedule it and American Dad against The West Wing, Law and Order, AND Desperate Housewives. I believe its third cancellation will set some kind of record. Way to second guess yourself twice on the same show, Fox!!

Writing for a Comedy Series
With three of five nominations in this category, hopefully, Arrested Development will win an Emmy here. And, hopefully, it will be here next year as well, even though Fox has moved it against King of Queens, a terrible, terrible show that will inexplicably kick its ass every week. The funniest show on TV is totally going to get canceled. Way to go, yet again, Fox!!

Writing for a Drama Series
Rescue Me's one nomination, and they're not going to win. What a fucking shame.

So, tune in September 18, and be just as disappointed with the winners as I'm sure I'll be.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Your Daily Gossip Fix

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, and (unfortunately) Vince Vaughn: What do all of these people have in common? At least two of them are the top story in every form of tabloid entertainment in America.

The Girl likes to read Us (the prettiest of all tabloids) and People (which, at least, pretends not to be a tabloid), and, without fail, two of the people listed above are on the cover, and, invariably, the others appear somewhere in the issue. It's really difficult not to know everything possible about these people, seeing as it's all I ever see at any given time. And, since these folks don't get enough play as is, I thought I'd weigh in on the "Hot" celebrity couples of the moment.

Tom and Katie
I used to think Tom Cruise was a cool guy. He always seemed like he had a good sense of humor, and was pretty easygoing. And then, one day... BOOM, he's stark raving mad. He's scaring the shit out of Oprah, he's arguing with Matt Lauer over shit about which he obviously knows nothing, and is running about the world, meeting and greeting, like he's a candidate for God. I see two possible explanations for Tom's scary antics: a) he's had a psychotic break, or b) Katie Holmes is completely unfuckingbelievable in bed. I'm going with (a), as, well, c'mon, it's Katie Holmes.

Brad and Angelina
A very odd couple, in that they are obviously together, yet completely refuse to admit so. They travel the world together, are photographed together on a daily basis, I believe there was even some video footage of them fucking during one of the Live 8 shows, yet they will deny, deny, deny that they are a couple. Sure, you guys aren't a couple. And Sean Hayes isn't really gay. Whatever.

Jennifer and Vince
A completely fabricated couple. Just because someone sees them sitting next to each other on a movie set in which they play a married couple, suddenly they're a couple. Sure, like Brad Pitt and Angeli...oh, never mind. I don't know Vince personally, but he pretty much seems like he's exactly like Trent from Swingers in real life. And, if that's true, I'm sure he'd rather be getting fucked up and scoring with every other chick on the planet than having to comfort the emotional trainwreck that I'm sure Jennifer is right now. Although, I'm sure she'd be pretty easy to score with right now...maybe not as made-up as I thought.

Quentin and Shar
I know these two weren't mentioned up front, but this is such a goofy fucking couple that I gotta talk about it. For Shar, this is a total plus, as she's gone from dating rich white trash to dating someone who used to be a good director. For Quentin, seriously, dude, what the fuck are you doing?!? Is your life that bad? Are you that desperate, that the only pussy you can get is K-Fed's babies' momma? The only way I'm that desperate is if I'm deaf, dumb, and blind, quadriplegic, dying of cancer, with the world about to end in 5 minutes, and... actually, I'd never be that desperate. Way to go, QT; I hope your next movie is as good as your choice of women.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Return To The Land Of The Dead

After a nearly ten year draught in Zombie Movies, and following the incredibly disappointing remake of Dawn of the Dead, I was pretty stoked when I heard that George Romero, who essentially invented the Zombie Movie, was making another entry in his Dead series, Land of the Dead.

The plot concerns the Living trying not be eaten by the Dead. The Living live in a city completely surrounded by water, in order to keep the zombies out. (Imagine Pittsburgh with a canal on its east side, and you get the idea.) The rich Living live in a giant skyscraper called Fiddler's Green, which has all the amenities of a world not infested by zombies. Everyone else lives in the slums surrounding Fiddler's Green. All the zombies? They're on the other side of the river. Which is also where scavengers go to get all of the essentials needed to make living in Fiddler's Green seem like a normal existence.

Doesn't really sound like a Zombie Movie, does it? Well, it's not. Romero has made this movie (humans holed up, besieged by zombies) roughly three times before, so he doesn't need to focus on the zombies. And that's the genius of Romero: He can make a Zombie Movie that isn't even really about zombies. They just exist in the background, while the plot, which involves John Leguizamo getting pissed at Dennis Hopper not letting him live in Fiddler's Green, unfolds.

But is it any good? Sure, it is. There's a lot of clever (like the incredibly practical solution the zombies come up with for crossing the river) and funny (Tom Savini's callback to Dawn of the Dead cameo) bits to make it worthwhile. And the grossout zombie effects (handled by KNB this time out) will please any gore fan.

The one thing that didn't sit well with me was the "Big Daddy" zombie. He is, of course, a callback to Bud the Zombie from Day of the Dead, who could use a razor, phone, and, eventually, a gun. Here, Big Daddy actually leads the zombie revolt. For someone with no brain function, he really seems to be a regular zombie George Patton. But, other than that one hangup, a good movie; a suitable closing chapter to Romero's Zombie Legacy.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

"Fat AND Funny" Redux

Remember this post, where I brought to your attention the sizeable talents of Rosie O'Donnell lookalike Andy Milanokis? Well, now, like Rosie, Andy has his own show on MTV. And it is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. Funny as fuck, but stupid as shit. You should check it out.

Flying Once Again:

...The Marquette Golden Eagle. Yes, after much bruhaha, Marquette is once again the Golden Eagles, the same thing they were before this two month-long clusterfuck. Not that I'm surprised: No one wanted this choice before, and now we have it once again.

What is surprising is that, out of the 31,500 votes cast, 3200 of them were write-ins for "Warriors." That's 10% of the vote, good enough for sixth highest vote getter. Pretty fucking incredible, considering that wasn't even on the ballot. I'm sure Fr. Wild sodomized an extra alterboy when he heard those results. Go Warriors!!

In other Marquette news, Travis Diener was drafted by the Orlando Magic, meaning that all current Marquette Alumni playing in the NBA play on three different teams in the Southeast Conference. The Dirty South loves them some Marquette basketball!!