Harper Lee as Hott Older Woman

OK, that was mostly to get your attention, but I do find it interesting that in both of the recent movies about Truman Capote (“Capote”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0379725/ and “Infamous”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0420609/), Harper Lee–who was born in 1926, and thus 33 at the time of the events in each film–was portrayed by a woman _at least_ a dozen years older than she was.

I mean, what’s up Hollywood, did you forget you’re supposed to cast younger? Not that I’m complaining, it just seems bizarrely atypical.

_The Last Picture Show_

Anne and I have had a copy of this out from Netflix for, I’m not kidding you, three months. We _finally_ got around to watching it last night.

To say that I’m glad I didn’t grow up in a small town–I spent a fair amount of time in small-ish towns, but always as a transient outsider–is perhaps obvious.

It’s got a lot of the flaws I anticipated, but that anticipation is at least partly informed by the existence of this movie–it isn’t impossible to see how it would have been fresh and new, oh, you know, around the time I was born. So it’s worth seeing, even if only as a historical document.

I must say, though, what the hell happened to Timothy Bottoms? Looking at “his bio on imdb”:http://imdb.com/name/nm0000961/, I swear, it seems like this is the only movie he’s done (perhaps other than _Texasville_) that was really worth doing. Weird.

Ah, Andre, we hardly knew ye

OK, so guest starring on ER would have hardly been a significant feather in his cap, but oh how it hurts to hear that Andre Braugher turned that down to “be in the second Fantastic Four movie”:http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=3&id=37645.

I rented the first one, and still felt a bit cheated. I can’t imagine the second would be any better. But who know, I suppose they could really pull out the stops and Do Galactus Right.

But could they really make it incoherent enough?

So, apparently Christopher Nolan is almost on board to “direct a movie version of _The Prisoner_”:http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=3&id=37460.

Now I don’t really remember much about the original show–even though MTV rebroadcast it while I was in college (I had no TV, and, honestly, I really didn’t miss it)–but the lasting impression I have is one of a show playing “hide the ball” with important bits of information to the point of incoherence. While I don’t mind that _per se_–and maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so had the show not had a very short run, meaning they perhaps weren’t able to explain things they intended to later–I have to wonder how that would play with mainstream movie audiences.

Still, with a good writing team, I would expect Chris Nolan to be able to make a credible go of it.

Diane Lane with baby fat

Seriously, “_Streets Of Fire_”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0088194/ is not too good a movie. This may or may not really surprise anyone, but I hadn’t seen it in likely 15 years and when I stumbled across the fact that Diane Lane was in it, along with a positively young looking (though 29) Willem Dafoe, well, I decided I had to see it again.

So I fast forwarded through most of it because, well, that’s what it deserved. _I can dream about you_ is still a pretty good song, but boy, just not a great movie.

Warren Ellis takes on Casino Royale

You should “read the whole thing”:http://feeds.feedburner.com/Warrenelliscom?m=1661 (don’t worry, it’s quick), but the part that made me laugh the most was the last line:

bq. I suspect Patrick wouldn’t go as far as me. But he is essentially Small-Time, and I am Internet Jesus.

Happiness is a warm gun, bang, bang, shoot, shoot.

I don’t know that there’s any more obvious lead in to ??Mr. and Mrs. Smith??, a movie I heard described as “beautiful people shooting at one another”. That does pretty much sum it up, but I think Roger Ebert is right when, “in his review”:http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20050609%2FREVIEWS%2F50524003%2F1023, he says:

bq. None of this matters at all. What makes the movie work is that Pitt and Jolie have fun together on the screen, and they’re able to find a rhythm that allows them to be understated and amused even during the most alarming developments. There are many ways that John and Jane Smith could have been played awkwardly, or out of synch, but the actors understand the material and hold themselves at just the right distance from it; we understand this is not really an action picture, but a movie star romance in which the action picture serves as a location.

For better or worse, that is it exactly. And I was entertained, even if it *was* a festival of cartoon violence.

Vince Vaughn, incidentally, seems to have totally jumped tracks in his career. Not that he doesn’t do it well, but I wouldn’t have guessed he’d end up in this role five years ago.

Tomorrow we intend to watch a movie I will feel much less guilty about enjoying, ??The Girl with the Pearl Earring??.

I just need to point out…

That long before he was Dumbledore Mk. II, “Michael Gambon”:http://imdb.com/name/nm0002091/ was the thief in “??The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover??”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0097108/.

That should creep out anyone who’s taking their kids to those Harry Potter movies.

Batman Begins

So, I saw the original ??Batman?? once all the way through in the theaters. Every other time I’ve tried to watch it, I’ve gotten bored or fallen asleep (no, I’m not kidding).

I remember ??Batman Returns?? as much because I saw it with Anne and Dave McGhee just before he left town for another co-op stint that was going to keep him out of town beyond when I was planning to graduate (let’s be honest about my level of certainty 🙂 as anything else. It was certainly more interesting than the first, but kept a cartoonishness that I found a little off-putting.

I have only vague memories of ??Batman Forever??. Mostly they revolved around how much Tommy Lee Jones should have sued his agent for. Joel Schumacher seemed to me to have no respect for the characters, wanting to make something more in the vein of the 1960’s TV show, which also annoyed me. I may have noticed Nicole Kidman’s heaving bosom, too.

??Batman & Robin?? I saw during some downtime at Patrick’s wedding. I was amused when George Clooney was on ??The Tonight Show?? a couple of weeks ago, and Leno made some comment about how Clooney had produced his fair share of dogs, and Clooney made some comment about having given his best shot at killing the Batman franchise.

So–and I say this as someone who’s never been a huge Batman fan, really, outside of ??The Dark Knight Returns??–I was somewhat cynical about the level of praise that ??Batman Begins?? was getting. I mean, I TIVO ??Ebert & Roeper??, and enjoy their reviews, but I decided their notion of good comic book movies was a bit different from mine when they heaped tons of praise on ??Spiderman 2??, a movie I thought it was OK, but certainly not great.

Anyway, my expectations were high, and I was prepared to be disappointed, especially knowing that the screenwriter was responsible for the ??Blade?? movies, of which I do not have a high opinion–I also note that he worked on ??The Puppet Masters??, and plays a (basically positive) part in the “long essay about PM making it to the screen”:http://www.nitrosyncretic.com/rah/rossio.html. Christopher Nolan could direct the hell out of the movie, but if it had a bad screenplay, it was still going to suck.

It did not suck.

Not only did it not suck, it exceeded my expectations, high as they were. Sure, Katie Holmes’ character could have been a little less of a cypher, or, in fact, acted by someone other than Katie Holmes. And there were various other small things that could have been different.

But, really, I think it succeeded in capturing a huge swath of the character *without* feeling like it was being crammed full of exposition like a duck intended for fois gras. The look was surprisingly down-to-earth, and Christian Bale is just one hell of an actor.

I mean, from ??American Psycho?? to this?

Actually, the really weird thing I notice on IMDB is that at 13, he was the lead character in ??Empire of the Sun??.


Well, I expected watching this movie to be a bit of a chore, and it was. I guess you could argue that such expectations are self-fulfilling, but getting Keanu Reeves to play a character who was originally modelled on Sting–both in his blondness and his Britishness–was just stupid.

That said, Rachel Weisz sold the absolute goddamn fuck out of her role. Shame it was in such an otherwise mediocre movie.

Wow, tough day for Aardman

Just a couple of days after ??Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit?? goes number 1, Aardman Animation lose their warehouse with props and historical material. Brutal.

We actually went to see the movie on Saturday, with “Patrick”:http://missourilovescompany.blogspot.com/ and Diane. It was enjoyable enough, although I would have to agree with “Richard Roeper”:http://www.suntimes.com/index/roeper.html that it moves along just a little too slowly.

The Lavender Hill Mob

I caught this listed on TCM, mostly because of it’s proximity in the listings to ??The Ladykillers??. I’ve not finished it yet, but it occurred to me to look it up on “IMDb”:http://imdb.com/, which led me to look at some of the external reviews, which led me to “this”:http://decentfilms.com/reviews/lavenderhillmob.html review.

Now I really have no complaint about an organization with a particular bent doing its own film reviews–as long as they don’t mind me mocking them if I feel it to be necessary. And, in fact, the review is actually pretty reasonable, even if it does seem to contain some mild moralizing.

(Well, I might mock their list of things-that-might-offend. Where, say, HBO tells you, “Violence; Nudity”, they tell you “Brief comic drunkenness; comic depiction of grand larceny.” It’s really the second that makes me want to laugh.)

No, what mildly surprises and maybe a little confuses me is the notation that this film is:

bq. One of the 15 films listed in the category “Art” on the Vatican film list. A National Catholic Register “Video/DVD Picks” film.

This is, ultimately a film that centers around a crime and its perpetrators and it’s on the Vatican film list?


Incidentally, I am guessing this is one of the movies that led Robert Heinlein to write, in ??Double Star?? (1956):

bq. I needed a face as commonplace, as impossible to remember as the true face of the immortal Alec Guinness.

Well, OK, maybe that was actually about ??Kind Hearts and Coronets??, wherein Alec Guiness plays as many characters as there are other actors.

Ah, Google

The combination of channel surfing and googling brings me to “The Unholy Biblical Subtexts and Other Religious Elements Built into Superman: The Movie (1978) and Superman II”:http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/Vol7No1/unholy.htm, in “The Journal of Religion and Film”:http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/.

Really, not a good movie

I mean, let’s be honest, ??Charlie’s Angels?? isn’t really a good movie by any rational standard. _But_, the image of Bill Murray and Tim Curry wrestling in padded sumo suits is, as far as I’m concerned, worth the rest of the two hours.

I am watching…

…the White Stripes discussing Nikolai Tesla. I don’t know that there is a good way to get across the deep strangeness “of this whole movie”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0379217/.

“No, I _didn’t_ blow a capacitor, Meg.”

Caesar and Cleopatra

So, Saturday night we went to see Caesar and Cleopatra at “Playmakers”:http://www.playmakersrep.org/index.pl

I was looking forward to it quite a bit. I read the play when I was perhaps 14, and although, honestly, I couldn’t remember huge chunks of it–as in almost any of it–a couple of things stuck with me for the last two decades.

One was Britannus, Caesar’s Briton slave, obviously intended as a stand-in for a modern (which I believe would be Victorian) Briton, being affronted by the strangeness of other cultures. He is a useful and amusing foil for Caesar, though, as in this exchange:

bq.. THEODOTUS. Caesar: you are a stranger here, and not conversant with our laws. The kings and queens of Egypt may not marry except with their own royal blood. Ptolemy and Cleopatra are born king and consort just as they are born brother and sister.

BRITANNUS (shocked). Caesar: this is not proper.

THEODOTUS (outraged). How!

CAESAR (recovering his self-possession). Pardon him. Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

I do believe that Heinlein more or less rips off that very line.

And then of course there’s the famous Cleopatra-in-the-rug scene.

Still, the bit I was looking forward to most, and, unfortunately, a bit that the producers almost entirely elided, was the “address of Ra to the audience”:http://www.4literature.net/George_Bernard_Shaw/Caesar_and_Cleopatra/.

Quite simply, it is the author haranguing the audience. It is also, as with most things regarding human nature, all too pertinent today. He derides them for their passivity and conformity and ineffectualness, as well as the institutionalized deceit between men and women, much of it in an amusingly opaque way.

I mean, how many other such addresses would include the line:

bq. Hearken to me then, oh ye: compulsorily educated ones.

The producers’ clever little rewrite to admonish people to turn off their cell phones had neither the humor nor the wit of the original. I’m quite disappointed that all of the Project Gutenberg copies of the play do not include this address at all.

I won’t even go into the blatant historical inaccuracies–though I will note that the explanatory text in the little playbook points out that while Shaw was apparently a rabid decrier of alterations to Shakespeare, he had no problem with hacking up history to fit his desired outcome.

I think the story–which is really an exposition on statecraft, although delivered without the didacticism you might expect–is ripe for the picking in Hollywood.

The rewrite would be easy: A young heiress, suddenly thrust into a position of leadership in the corporation her father ran, becomes involved with an older businessman who helped her father fight off a hostile takeover years before. He teaches her how to wield power effectively, helping her fight off her brother’s attempts to take power for himself, but in the end she succumbs to her basically amoral nature as she utterly destroys one of her brothers advisors…

Where the hell is central casting?

An unexpected development.

OK, I reported before, with some trepidation, about “plans to make a move of ??V for Vendetta??”:/2004/11/i-cant-decide-if-this-is-good-or-bad.html.

It has become more interesting in that “Natalie Portman may feature in it”:http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire2005/index.php?category=0&id=30098.

She’s an interesting actress–her willingness to get involved in the massive charlie-foxtrot of schlock that is the Star Wars prequel trilogy aside.

I dunno.

Secondhand Lions

!http://a1055.g.akamai.net/f/1055/1400/5h/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/7200000/7202079.jpg! Although there is definitely a soft white underbelly of overblown sentiment in this movie, there’s also a good chunk of Michael Caine and Robert Duvall appearing to be having–and if you credit Caine’s appearance on The Daily Show, having–a lot of fun, along with pretty decent work by Haley Joe Osment, who gives every sign of growing into a credible actor.

I was surprised to find, browsing on “IMDb”:http://imdb.com/ that one of his first film rolls was as Forrest Gump Jr. Oh, well, there’s no accounting for coincidence.

Even weirder is to find that the director is planning to write and direct a film of Piers Anthony’s ??A Spell for Chameleon??, which I think is just too strange to transfer well to film.

He’s big and red and files his horns

!http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00022S15M.01-A2X3FMBNSRPS6U._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg! reprint series. In fact, looking over “a list of his published work”:http://www.distrimagen.es/mignola/mignola.htm, that’s about all I think I was likely to have seen. I’m actually amazed that I’ve read so little of his stuff, because he certainly made an impression on me.

Well, I’ve also enjoyed reading ??Hellboy??, with its wisecracking take on neo-Lovecraftian horror, but I just picked that up in the last year.

So, as I said “some time ago”:/2004/02/ive-been-getting-back-into-comic-books-of-late.html (before the movie came out in theaters), I wasn’t sure how I’d like the movie adaptation.

In fact, I liked it just fine. I don’t think it was anything more than escapism, but I’m recovering from straining my back, and there are much worse ways to spend two hours stretched out on the couch. But, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t try and watch it with a pair of speakers whose cones have succumbed to dry rot. The constant flatulence is distracting.

I do believe we’re going to have to go out and buy some new speakers tomorrow.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad

“The Wachowski Brothers will be producing a movie of Alan Moore’s ??V for Vendetta??”:http://scifi.com/scifiwire/art-main.html?2004-11%2F18%2F11.30.film.

Now, ??V?? isn’t bad–although it’s hardly Alan Moore’s best work, as it is lacking in subtlety in many spots–but I don’t see how they won’t do a ??Constantine?? on it–and let’s face it, that’s one movie I’m _not_ intending to see in theaters, if at all.

I mean, to understand one of the first scenes in the story, you have to know what Guy Fawkes Day is about, and in a country where they had to re-title ??The Madness of King George III?? because people thought they’d missed the first two installments, well, that’s just going to be too much.

I do find interesting this little tidbit:

bq. The project has been around for years, with ??Romeo Is Bleeding?? writer Hilary Henkin taking a stab at it at one point, but without success, the trade paper reported.

I mean, that would definitely produce an interesting movie–??”Romeo is Bleeding”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0107983/?? was…different. The scene where Lena Olin has Gary Oldman in a scissor hold from the backseat of his car, and he’s obviously loosing control and is going to crash and she’s _laughing_. That’s _fucked up_.

Hollywood Producers

So, I have to wonder, does it ever occur that people in Hollywood set out, ??”Producers”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0063462/??-like, to intentionally make a really, really bad movie?

Because, honestly, I can’t come up with any other reason that “An American Werewolf in Paris”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0118604/ would have been made. I scanned it–ah, the joys of “TiVo”:http://tivo.com/–only because I have a lot of affection for “An American Werewolf in London”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0082010/, an altogether better, if lower budget, movie that, like “Logan’s Run”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0074812/, has the added bonus of having “Jenny Agutter”:http://imdb.com/name/nm0000256/ (who, I find, has not actually been in a movie I’ve seen since 1987) nekkid.

This brings up, an interesting, if trivial, question for which Google has not been able to produce an answer: in the movie, “Julie Delpy”:http://imdb.com/name/nm0000365/'s character’s name is Serafine (sometimes spelled Seraphine). In Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld”:http://www.discworldmonthly.co.uk/ novels, one of the characters, who is, incidentally, a werewolf, _also_ has the name Seraphine, although she goes by Angua. So, is the name some sort reference that Google can’t find, or is Terry Pratchett inexplicably a fan of the movie (since I believe the appearance of that name only dates back to 1999, a couple of years later)?

(Incidentally, there is a very weird site I stumbled upon in my search, “Otaku World”:http://otakuworld.com/. Actually, it’s not so much the site that is weird as the fact that they have “a whole section of “”paper dolls”:http://otakuworld.com/kiss/”. One of which is supposedly an illustration of Angua, although it looks nothing like any illustration I’ve seen before.)

And, finally, one of those weird bits of interconnectedness.

When I was four or five–while my mom and my infant brother and I were living in Birmingham with various relatives while my dad was stuck in Korea for a year (and I don’t know how the fuck one maintains a relationship at that distance for that long; three months and a couple hundred miles is tough, I can’t imagine that)–I insisted that I wanted to stay up and watch the movie “Trilogy of Terror”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0073820/, and that I wouldn’t be scared, etc.

(I suspect many people haven’t seen the original, but “The Simpson’s”:http://thesimpsons.com/index.html Halloween episode where the Krusty doll comes to life and tries to kill Homer is based on it.)

Anyway, predictably, I was scared shitless. I had nightmares from that movie for _years_ (comments on the IMDB message board suggest others did, too).

The author? ??”William F. Nolan”:http://imdb.com/name/nm0634368/??, co-author of the afore-mentioned ??Logan’s Run??.

Holy shit, Batman!

Well, first, “I’m glad to see William Gibson is back blogging.”:http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/blog.asp.

But, much more important than that, “Peter Weir”:http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2004_10_01_archive.asp#109820696339947239 (whose film “The Wave”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0076299/ I should probably view again sometime, to see if it’s as confusing now as it was when I saw it at 10 or 11) is currently slated to direct a movie of Gibson’s novel “Pattern Recognition”:http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?isbn=0425192938&itm=2.

Although I haven’t re-read it yet, I think ??PR?? is probably Gibson’s best novel, period. Yes, better than Neuromancer, if, perhaps, less ground-breaking.

Dinner Rush

Oops, I let my note get synced over before I wrote the entry.

Anyway, the other day I watched “Dinner Rush”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0229340/, which is an amusing enough little film. There are many worse ways to spend a couple of hours.

However, I also caught pieces of “The Royal Tenanbaums”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0265666/ today, and that lookd to be a much more impressive way to spend your time.

“Resident Evil”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0120804/, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs. Milla Jovovich could have done the whole movie naked and I still wouldn’t be able to say anything good about it.

My, my.

I just don’t know. I mean, I really have no clue at all. No, that’s not true. I have lots of clues, and I have theories and ideas, and they all end up falling apart when I try to articulate them.

Now, I should note that I probably missed the first twenty minutes of the movie, but I’m not unfamiliar with what happens at the beginning, so I don’t feel like I’m missing the key ingredient that makes it all work.

I also don’t feel like I can say anything substantial without running real risk of ruining it for others, although I’m not sure exalcty how that would work since I don’t know that I believe anyone could really come up with a straight reading of this movie.

The fact is, ??Donnie Darko?? probably doesn’t stand up to specific, detailed dissection, any more than, say, many Phillip K. Dick novels do–for instance, ??Martian Time Slip??, which is brings somewhat to mind (it might bring it more to mind if I remembered it better, but I’ve only read it once and, well, it’s pretty convoluted.

But, like the best of Dick’s work, even when it doesn’t stand up to careful logical analysis, even when it just doesn’t quite work, it’s amazing to watch. It’s wonderful to see someone try that hard even if they fail spectacularly. And I don’t think ??Donnie Darko?? fails spectacularly, though I do think it fails in some respects–I can’t imagine how it could not.

I will say that it has one moment in it that I found gut-wrenching; I don’t know why, but there are occasionaly scenes in movies that make me physically ill. I often feel stupid about it, but there’s something in their simple random reality that my mind rebels against.

The car crash in the otherwise mundane ??Patriot Games?? is one (in part, I suspect, because I had, a short time before, been in a fairly violent crash, even if I came out unharmed). The final scene in ??The Piano?? between Holly Hunter and Sam O’Neill is another. I can’t think of any others off-hand, but I suspect you’ll recognize the scene I’m thinking of in ??Donnie Darko?? when you see it.

Of course, it’s now creeping up on Midnight, and I’ve got work to do tomorrow, so I think I’m gonna check out now. Perhaps I’ll type up some “Where’s Mike been” updates at the coffee shop in the morning.

Every bit as bad as I’d heard

So, I have a TV in my room, and thanks to a $5 splitter, I have “more” cable than we have at home–for instance, HBO.

So, having gotten the splitter in place, and having figured out that this TV is old enough that it doesn’t just figure out that it’s attached to cable, I’ve now got ??The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?? playing.


Now, in the case of ??Big Fish??, the book and the movie are profoundly different, while being ultimately the same story–it’s a great thing when it happens, because what it means is you’re getting the story as it will best work in the respective media; ??Blade Runner?? is another instance, and there are others that I can’t bring to mind right off.

On the other hand, ??League??, the movie, has only the barest connection to the comic book–some of the same characters, the same notion of a group of such people getting together, but it is otherwise profoundly different.

And this is not a good thing, because while the comic book is clever and subtle and understated, the movie is loud and obvious and flashy and substanceless. It posits so much more than the any of the original source material–Nemo can produce any silly thing the plot needs (a fucking sea-launched ballistic missle?), while the villian has machine guns and the ability to make all of Venice collapse.


I did think Peta Wilson doing a Sean Connery imitation was brilliant, though.

This is not the way to get typecast

Andy Serkis has played Gollum, now “he’s going to be Kong”:http://scifi.com/scifiwire/art-main.html?2004-06%2F11%2F11.00.film.

I guess it could be worse. “Imagine if your whole resume revolved around being the guy in the big rubber suit in Japanese monster films”:http://imdb.com/name/nm0457511/.

Quick, which do you pick?

You can distribute Terry Gilliam’s new movie, “The Brothers Grimm”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0355295/, or you can commit to distributing a remake of The Amityville Horror and the latest James Bond film.

“Of course, if you’re an executive at MGM, you pick the latter”:http://scifi.com/scifiwire/art-main.html?2004-05%2F14%2F10.15.film.

“I can’t even have a head-on collision in peace”

After “Sling Blade”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0117666/, Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed, and starred in a second movie, “Daddy and Them”:http://imdb.com/title/tt0166158/.

The cast is improbable–Billy Bob, Laura Dern, Brenda Blethyn, Ben Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jim Varney, Andy _Fucking_ Griffith–and the family they portray is both grotesque and hilarious.

I’m amazed that I can’t find any information about why this movie, filmed in ’98 or ’99, was released direct to cable in 2001 and then didn’t make it to DVD until late last year.