Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Annual Oscar Recap

-Ellen DeGeneres was pretty funny, not by actually saying anything funny, but by making everyone else feel bad about themselves. Nice.

-First nominee for Word of the Year: "sticktoitiveness."

-The Showing of the Costumes was awkward.

-There's something not right about the thought of Jack Black and Will Ferrell double-teaming Helen Mirren.

-My conspiracy theory regarding the Sound categories turned out to be true.

-Everyone was spared the shame of having to interact with the animated characters.

-Best Supporting Actor, typically the first award, gets pushed back waaaay into the show. Nice pickup by Alan Arkin, btw.

-The screen constantly switching back to 4:3 aspect ratio to accomodate the ticker for the local school closings ruined my HD viewing experience.

-The Reading of the Screenplays was awkward.

-Cars not winning Best Animated Feature ended The Girl's streak of correctly handicapping the Oscars up to that point.

-This whole "penguin movie craze" must end. George Miller: Step away from the cute animal movies, and resume production on Mad Max movies.

-Nice to see Mummenschanz back in action again.

-Through some apparent ballot miscount, Pan's Labyrinth didn't win Best Foreign Film, the one real travesty this year. Oh well; it still won three Oscars. Fuck Hollywood, Viva Mexico!!

-Larry David was not amused by An Inconvenient Truth winning an Oscar.

-The Stiffing of Dreamgirls was awesome.

-Matthew Broderick must be pissed that Little Miss Sunshine won Best Original Screenplay, because the chances of him getting his personal assistant back just went down to zero.

-Ennio Morricone and Quincy Jones are tight. And I wonder if that song will be the first single off Celine Dion's next record. Hmmm...

-A musical not winning Best Song is awesome. And The Girl and I agreed that it would be better if all the performers had just come out and played one of their greatest hits than what they played. I would have preferred "I Wanna Come Over" to whatever it was that Melissa Etheridge actually won for. (Eddie Murphy performing "Party All the Time" would have been good, too.)

-Helen Mirren got what she deserved. Not that there was a doubt, considering she'd won every other award possible for that role.

-Marty Scorsese did the right thing, and mentioned Andy Lau in his acceptance speech.

-And, even with its dogshit ending, The Departed was the right pick. I'll always cheer for Clint, but it was Marty's turn.

Good stuff. See you in 365.

Last Five Movies

Hollywoodland (2006)
Maybe it's the obscure subject material (because, really, who gives a fuck about George Reeves), but I really couldn't get it this. Next thing you'll know, they'll make a movie about the mysterious death of Bob Crane.

The Number 23 (2007)
A movie of which The Girl and I had differing opinions: she thought it got better as it went along, while I thought the opposite. And, when you see it, you too will make the obvious references to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Good idea, so-so execution.

The Science of Sleep (2006)
A weird, weird, weird movie that is basically for Michel Gondry fans only. Lots of nice, inventive set pieces, but your head will probably explode trying to decipher the plot (if you can call it that).

Murder-Set-Pieces (2004)
Direct-to-video movies usually go that route for a reason, and this DTV offering is no different. Sure, it's got plenty of sex and violence, but you know you're in trouble when the best part of the movie is the villain's '72 'Cuda. That's not good. Also, a big bonus for being yet another movie that assumes no one watching has been to Las Vegas, and don't know where anything is on The Strip.

It's a pretty slow week when this is the best I've seen, but...

Clue (1985)
One of The Girl's faves, so it gets a semi-annual screening. If you've played the game, you've seen this movie. Good, clean, inoffensive family fun. It's also worth noting this is probably the first time I'd seen Tim Curry not dressed up like Frank N. Furter.

Check it out.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What The Fuck?

Once she unbolted the wreck of the Titanic that was her marriage to K-Fed from her ankle, I thought maybe Britney Spears would go into turnaround, maybe get back to where she was two years ago, before she threw her life in the toilet.

And then she shaved her head.

This just has no upside. As Keith Oberman so aptly put it, I see this ending with a meth lab explosion. Really, the best thing to do would be for her to put a gun to her head and pull the trigger. And maybe Lindsay Lohan could get hit with a ricochet or something. The world would be a better place by half.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Land Of Misfit Restaurants

As I've mentioned before, I believe the city I live in exists in some alternate dimension, just a little left of the norm. Kinda like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside, if you will. My suspicions about this theory are confirmed on an almost daily basis.

Like the other day, when The Girl and I were driving about, looking for someplace to eat. It dawned on me that The JVL has the strangest assortment of chain restaurants of any city I've ever been to. Oh sure, we've got your McDonald's and Chili's and IHOP, just like every other city in the States. But then there's others that exist in other cities, but you'd have to combine about eight states just to get the combination that exists here in Janesville. Like Shakey's (which has three locations east of the Mississippi, and this is one of them), Ground Round (which went bankrupt, but lives on here), Hardee's (another dead one, of which we have two), Happy Joe's (which has been around forever, but is otherwise nonexistent around these parts), and Ponderosa (the last one around the region that hasn't been turned into a Chinese buffet). Shit, up until a couple of months ago, we had what I believe to be the last remaining Chi-Chi's in the United States. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a HoJo's or a Planet Hollywood hidden away in some corner of town.

But, I guess being trapped in some wormhole restaurant anomaly keeps us from having to eat at TGI Friday's every night. (Although that would taste good right about now...)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Give Trish Helfer Some Credit

As most people suspect, the only exposure most sci-fi geeks get to women is the eye candy the producers of sci-fi TV shows and movies cast as characters on said shows, to cater to the fantasies of said geeks. (And by "geeks," I'm talking about the diehard fans who have learned the Klingon language, or can accurately render a schematic of a TIE-Fighter from memory.) Whether it be Carrie Fisher or Jeri Ryan, these are the women that geeks fantasize about.

And, from time to time, one of these "sci-fi babes" will appear in FHM or Maxim in a cheesecake spread, designed with just those geeks in mind, because, frankly, if you're not a geek, you wouldn't know who these women were. (Seriously, did you know (or care) that Jolene Blaylock was on Enterprise?) And this is what geeks get: the softest of softcore porn. The women of their fantasies presented in a way that's about as titillating as the women's underwear section of the Sear's circular.

And this is why I have to give Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer some props. She decided to give the fans what they want, and posed nude in Playboy. And added points for doing it while her show's still on the air, instead of waiting until the show is gone, her star had faded, and she's looking to get back in the limelight. No, there she is, naked as a jaybird, during the highest popularity of her show. (I'll admit to watching Battlestar Galactica. Not for Trish Helfer, mind you, but because I think I probably saw every episode of the original '70s series first run. This new one's actually a pretty good show.)

So, as a note to any current and future sci-fi babes, give your fans what they want to see. You're making their wildest fantasies come true. And, non-fans will appreciate it too, because, hey, it's a naked lady!

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Something's Happened To Trent Reznor

If you're a Nine Inch Nails fan, you're quite familiar with how Trent Reznor works: release an album, tour for a couple of months, take the next five years to work on the next album. And I fully expected that to be the case after the release of With Teeth. It'd been six years since the release of The Fragile, and I expected things to go as they had for the previous 15 years. But then, something odd happened.

Trent started touring, and hasn't stopped. (He actually played a number of dates before the record even came out.) If I were motivated enough, just within a hundred mile radius of The JVL, I could have seen NIN seven times. Seven times. He's easily played 200 shows worldwide, just on this tour. He's been touring for two years straight.

And he's got a new album coming out in April. And a concert DVD. And there's talk of him releasing remastered editions of all of his other albums.

With this much shit going on in such a short span of time, I wonder if it might be another 10 years before we hear from Trent again. Only time will tell.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Departed Fucks It Up

I'm usually pretty on top of these things, usually seeing most of the Best Picture Oscar nominees well before I make a judgment call on what's Best Picture. (The exception here is Letters from Iwo Jima, which is difficult to see, due to Warner Bros' odd 400 screen rollout. You'd think they would want people to see it, but, I guess not.) So, I'll admit that I made this year's Best Picture call without actually having seen The Departed. Everybody said it's great, and Scorsese rarely disappoints, so I was comfortable jumping on that boat. Then I actually saw the movie.

I'll preface my comments by saying that I've seen Infernal Affairs (the Chinese movie of which The Departed is a remake) and all of its sequels, so nothing in The Departed came as a surprise to me. In fact, it's a very faithful remake. There are direct lifts from Infernal Affairs in The Departed. And Scorsese follows the movie...right up until the end.

Infernal Affairs, following the scene in the elevator, ends with the scene of the dirty cop coming home and finding his fiance listening to the tape of him talking to the crime boss. It's a great ending: ambiguous, downbeat, rife with sequel possibilities.

But Scorsese changes the order a little. He puts the scene with the girlfriend first, and then the elevator scene. And I was happy with that. But then, Matt Damon comes home, and Marky Mark shoots him in the head. What the fuck?!?

I'm a strong proponent of the fact that a terrible ending can completely ruin an otherwise perfectly good movie. (Anyone up for a rant on Unbreakable?) The only way Scorsese could have ended this worse would be to have The Funky Bunch come in and sing us out with "Good Vibrations." But what we get is still pretty terrible.

Here, I claimed Scorsese deserved that Best Director Oscar. I'm strongly leaning back toward Eastwood again. I'm pretty sure he didn't fuck his movie up.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What I've Learned From 24

Now that I've caught up with the most recent episodes of 24 (thanks, MySpace!), I thought I'd pass along what I've learned over the show's 127 hour run:

-Jack Bauer could make Chuck Norris cry.

-Never involve your family members in geopolitical intrigue.

-The Vice President is a duplicitious motherfucker.

-Everyone needs a dependable guy like Aaron Pierce on their side.

-Los Angeles is the center of all terrorist activity in the US.

-Jack Bauer is undying.

-You can save the world with nothing more than a handgun and a cell phone.

-Well-known character actors are always villans.

-Working in a government office is more dangerous than working in the field.

-The 25th Amendment and the Presidential line of succession get more of a workout than you might suspect.

-They are watching you. All the time.

-You can kick a heroin habit over the course of one really bad day.

-There are more chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in the US than you would think.

-Thank God for travel time.

-Trust no one. No one.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Random Super Bowl Stuff

Some thoughts on Super Bowl XLI:

-My only comment on the game: if Grossman were actually able to throw a football, the Bears probably would have won. Those wiffeball throws to the other team just didn't cut it. And it was nice to see that the Colts could completely negate the Bears offence, but couldn't stop kick return idiot savant Devin Hester. You can't stop him; you can only hope he runs just one back.

-The commercials all sucked. The only one worth mentioning was the Taco Bell one with the lions, which had a clever Ricardo Montalban in-joke that no one got.

-And apparently, the only big summer movie coming out is Pride, which appears to be an incredibly saccharine movie about a black swim team. I think I remember this movie when it was called Glory Road. Or was it Remember the Titans? I can't remember.

-I must give props to Prince: Even though he's a bad fit for the Super Bowl, he's an absolute fucking trouper for playing out in the rain, and playing well, for that matter. But what was up with him playing two lines of "All Along the Watchtower," and then switching to "Best of You"? Dave Grohl watching at home: " that...What?"

All and all, one of the crappier Super Bowls I've experienced. At least the crazy Florida rain was entertaining.