The Cheesecake Factor

Bettie Page has to be considered the quintessential pin-up model in this country. She had huge popularity in the tight-sphincter era of the 1950's but she may be even more popular these days. Bettie broke barriers, incurred the wrath of congress, and appeared in and on everything from magazines, movies, album covers, and adolescent imagination.

She inspires many to emulate her today, including a new generation of performers (and their movie), including the reigning queen, Dita VonTeese. I like Bettie for the sheer volume of undergarments she incorporated in her voluminous portfolios. Garters and stockings were a given, but there was all manner of lingere', gloves, diaphanous delicates, and yes corsets as well.

Work is underway to make a feature film about the photogenic poser and you have to feel good that Gretchen Mol is picked for the lead. I first noticed her as Matt Damon's arm candy in the excellent "Rounders", and lately she has been a key player for Neil LaBute. It will be interesting to see how the flaxen femme appears as the raven-haired model.


SE7EN, Coming Out

All right, it is already released, but the title wouldn't have sounded as good. After some searching I finally wrangled a copy of the new Platinum Edition of "SE7EN" and I am still pouring through the myriad options. This is an edition for film obsessives like myself, but if you have even a passing interest in movies beyond something to occupy yourself while eating popcorn you should grab this 2 disc set.

David Fincher became a star director as a result of this effort, and for good reason. While Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt both do excellent work it is clear the star of this show is Fincher. From his visuals to the intricately staged sets it is a film to absorb with repeat viewings.

"SE7EN" is the kind of movie that begs to be fetishized and this package provides the goods for forensic viewing. There are four full-length commentary tracks: One with the stars, the second has a large number of the production staff, the third has the cinematography team, and the last has the sound technicians, with Fincher sitting in on all four tracks. There is also an exploration of the revolutionary title sequence and a detailed account of the creation of John Doe's obsessive notebook's.

This is as close as I get to slobbering fanboy adulation with a movie. I've had to towel off the drool on the remote a few times already. There is set to be a sequel--"SE7EN2" if you can believe it. Freeman is back, Fincher is a maybe, and Ted Griffin who wrote "Ocean's Eleven" is behind the story. I'll reserve judgement while not getting my hopes up.


The Big Bunny is Back

There is no set formula for creating a cult movie, but you can positively say the movie "Donnie Darko" fits the definition. Originally appearing at Sundance in 2001 it was released later that year and took in only half a million at the gate. However it found new life on DVD, grossing $10 million on disc as well as achieving that primary cult signifier by becoming ensconced in the midnight movie schedule in some of the bigger cities.

New Market Films is planning to bring "Darko" back to the bigger screens with a platformed rerelease. Starting next month at the Seattle Film Festival it will roll out from there. To get a feel for the movie (if not an idea) check out the film's immersive web site--only if you have the time and patience.


God Save the Script

When I first heard the news I cringed at the thought, but when I saw the source I blanched at the reality. The autobiography of John Lydon--better known as Johnny Rotten--titled "No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs" is, according to the Sex Pistols frontman, set for the screen. But that is not the stunner.

The name that springs up to play Rotten on camera--Justin Timberlake. As stunning as the idea of an industry hellspawn from a boy band playing a key figure in the anti-establishment iconic band even more surprising is that this idea comes from Lydon himself! And someone please explain this tidbit to me please:
he (Timberlake) agreed to play the former Sex Pistol as long as Rotten stays away from the set.
Because Justin is such a serious thespian? At this point I'm guessing that this is all a load of bullocks and Johnny is pulling off another one of his swindles.

Take my advice: if Justin gets anywhere near a Rotten leather jacket turn away and settle for the Julien Temple documentary "The Filth and the Fury".


School of Hard Knoxville

I could never be a studio exec who greenlights films. Drop two pitches for comic book scripts on my desk and I would have opted for the guy who has his entire life uprooted and becomes an unrepentantly violent vigilante over the tale of Nazis who bring one of Lucifer's spawn to this Earth to win WW2 only to see him shave off his horns and use his cement hand to battle crime. Yet "Hellboy" has done admirably at the cinema while "The Punisher" has dropped 60% of its BO take in week two. Both however will be hard pressed to make back their budgets.

Not a comic fan myself the one graphic novel I was taken with--primarily due to my prediliction for things Polynesian--is called "Hawaiian Dick". Not a super-hero account this is more of a noir detective procedural set in the 50th state, replete with tikis in many of the panels. How could I not like it? Well word has come down that a script has been optioned based on the series and the lead is set for Johnny Knoxville.

New Line will be producing and they will soon be saying Aloha to a nice piece of money. We will have to see if that means hello or goodbye.


Staying In a Comfortable Hilton

The vacuous parasitic existence of Paris Hilton is exceeded only by the bizarre insistance of the media to treat her slavishly in coverage. For someone named after the City of lights she appears about as bright as a 3 watt bulb, and considering she has done little more than gorging on her trust-fund teat her popularity is approaching near Faustian levels. Nary a week goes by without some entertainment dispensary spewing party coverage, rumors, or photos surrounding this societal placebo. The fact however remains--She Has Not Done a Damned Thing!

In the next few months there will be two new attempts at bringing Paris legitamacy--one she sanctions and one which she does not, yet both will surely embarass. On May 11th a direct-to-video horror offering will hit the stores, entitled "Nine Lives". While earning no more than 10 minutes of screen time the marketers cleverly have her positioned front and center on the cover over the no-name co-stars. Word is that the movie had a lone appearance in a theater at a 2002 London horror festival and was greeted with yawns.

This meek effort will certainly become eclipsed by the news that her infamous online sex video will become available for purchase in stores with a new director's cut, with extended footage. June 15 is the street date for--get your cringe ready--"One Night in Paris". Maybe we'll get to find out some of the unanswered questions of the initial release. For instance, who was on the phone that she elected to answer in mid-romp?

For those who want to get in touch with their inner Rick Salomon you can proudly boast about your excursions with this uber-trendy T-Shirt. Just be ready for offers from pale looking nervous guys wearing Batman pins and Kevin Smith hats.


Dead Poets Leave Society.

The temptation has always been there for film makers to dramatize the lives, and the deaths, of poets becuase their lives and deaths are often, well, so damned dramatic. Now we even have proof that poets tend to check out before their reservation is up. There is a paradox for studios to wrestle with however, in that with most cases the lives of the writer was often more entertaining than the works, and this manages to keep a wider audience at bay.

Last year's "Sylvia" had Gyneth in the lead but let's face it, Ms. Plath's outlook (we'll call it somber) obviously kept marketing wags from convincingly calling the film the "Feel-good story of the season." Cuban Poet Reinaldo Arenas as well met an early exit, but even though "Before Night Falls" made a name for Javier Bardem the film didn't make much money. "The Hours" could be pointed to as an exception here, except that the perishing Virginia Woolf was a novelist, but Ed Harris played a dying poet opposite Meryl Streep, so maybe it counts.

I wonder if the reason that poets are thought to die younger is due to rap musicians who were gunned down being included in the study. I base this on no proof, I should add. One thing to worry about is this could be dire news for fans of the buxom bard Jewel. I'd hate to think of the bestselling poetess being brought down in her prime, preventing us from enjoying such imagery in passages like “And So to Receive You”:

My breasts are twin moons/two pillows/for your whiskered cheek/a harbor for your teeth/and tongue.

It would be a loss indeed.


Tru-ly Disturbing Fans

By pure happenstance while researching on the web I ventured into that dark realm of compulsive internet fandom. While I always have been aware that the fractionally unbalanced can take on added significance via their modems, it may still surprise you to see the behavior firsthand. The web is a great clearing house of opportunity for those people who harbor a more than healthy interest in the luminaries of our world. Electronic shrines can be erected and like-minded obsessives can congregate to bask in the collective glow of anonymity. I stumbled upon such a place and wanted to shine a light on those who have a rather longing glance towards the actress Eliza Dushku.

Dushku leapt into our thoughts as the teenaged daughter of Arnold in "True Lies", made numerous appearances in features, and cemented her iconic status with shut-ins when she was a cast member on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Currently she stars in the prime-time effort "Tru Calling". Her approachable charisma and fetching looks easily put her in the affectionate cross-hairs. The study today is on an Eliza Dushku message board that boasts no less than 13 subjects to which the infatuated can contribute, and where the benign web design frees up the fan to reveal their Tru selves. Surprisingly the site even encourages the deviant to open up to the crowd.

Under the forum title TESTIMONIALS the sub-heading reads: "Have you met/stalked Eliza? Share your adventurous tales with every other jealous person on the forum..." This nicely addresses both those who stalk and those who envy those with the pro-active adoration. In that particular thread fans detail their brushes with fame.
A fan going by Snaglefunk responds to the notion of a face-to-face. “Dear God, I can only hope that someday it will happen. Maybe one day when I'm a rockstar.”
Less optimistic was Sacnite, who theorizes, “I believe that nobody has had the happiness of seeing in person Eliza.” For me this paints a rather lonesome existence for the young woman. It also poses a most difficult challenge for cinematographers.
Vanboy posts that Dushku lives in his building, and the responses to this news vary, from being called a “liar”, to a veiled suggestion that he should get onto her balcony to get photos, to another poster wanting to come and stay with him.
When the question of renting availability at the complex was asked another member gave a revelatory answer to the state of potential lessees: “There may be a mad rush and fight for the place to rent may end in violence (sic).
Surferstud1313 gives his account of meeting Eliza in a nightclub: “She was very down to earth out to have a good time and dance and defineatly get her drink on”. This everywoman report prodded another poster to admit they “will remain a loyal supporter for many, many decades to come.” Eliza, there are two words for this—job security. Or maybe—home security.

Kudas has his own encounter to detail, about a time that he crowded in with autograph lemmings and how he played the hero by lending Dushku his notebook for her to use so that she could sign her name for the masses. As touching as his brief meeting was, (she twice gave him an “intoxicating smile”) I’m not so sure it needed to be exposited with more than 700 words, but when he entitles this as a “Magical Encounter” it was bound to be loquacious.

For more off kilter commentary we turn to the POSTS TO ELIZA forum, where the hopeful can write a memo directly to the star--yet the host provides a caveat—“Note: It is highly unlikely Eliza will read your posts.” Undeterred there are plenty of passionate passages. Faith 881 implores ”I want to meet you cuz i like you very much you are my idol and i like you to read this plz i live in ELPASO TEXAS.” Not content Faith 881 continues in another post titled “Your Cool: “i just whant to said that you are cool and that i watch tur calling and tha is cool to and you cool in buffy tvs as faith and you are my idol.” Not to be overly critical, sweetie, but if you want to get the attention of your idol you may want to re-register at your EL PASO HIGH SCHOOL real soon.
Klevis, addressing Dushku's lineage, has a rather curious declaration to make. “hi you probably cannot speak any albanian and you probably dont want to learn but i would reccomend it because at the end of the day you are albanian.” This may call for a new song from The Vapors.
Another with the intriguing name fitnessbuff4 tries to draw the star’s attention with a post titled “Hmmmm…” but I think he blows his chances. “Eliza' you dont know me, but...I bet you would like to...heh...j/k...(where's my needle?) PSSSSsssss...(scuse me) had to pop my head!” Ummmm...moving on--
TicklerJay asks something we’d all like to know, “Hey Eliza I was just wondering if your feet are ticklish? I have seen your feet and I think they look great”.
In another section Kudas, the notebook savior, reveals he has come as close to the stalker title as any, haunting the set of “Tru-Calling”, but with good intentions. "When they start filming agaiin, I'm going to start hanging out around the set. Surely someone will realize what a perfect match Eliza and I are. Then I shall be cast as the newly hired buff guy”. A viable plan, sure, but I would not let on that you are the same guy who refers to her on the boards as “The Spicy Dorito”. It might keep you from getting your own trailer.
Now I know I run the risk of sounding like the very subjects of this piece, but I’m going to go out on a limb. I would like to send my own message to the star of Tru Calling, and the upcoming “The Kiss”. Consider this my attempt to contact the starlet, my bold attempt to reach her directly with a message of warmth and affection.

Dear Eliza,
I wish you the best on your television show and hope you have many more seasons in which we may be able to enjoy you in our homes. If there is any hope at all that you get this message while staying in Vancouver to film your program there is one thing I am dying to say to you—
Please, change your address.


He Was Also Unbelievable In "The Negotiator"

It was a tough weekend for Kevin Spacey First, he called the police in London to inform them that he had been mugged and roughed up in a section of town near the theater where he is serving as director. However after a few days of contemplation he went back to police to let them in on the fact that he was weaving a story not quite to the level of Verbal Kint. His new explanation to what happened was he was a victim of theft.

Turns out Keyser Soze was duped by a simple scam--or as Spacey described it, "Such a good con." The complex graft involved a young kid wanting to borrow his cell phone for an emergency and then bolting with the Nokia. The injuries were incurred when Kevin tried to give chase and tripped over his pet, knocking himself around. Kevin then says he was "taken by the oldest con going." On this I have to quibble. I'm sure, for instance, that they were playing 3-card-monty in Times Square long before cell phones were around.

The police meanwhile were at least a little curious why it was Spacey found himself in this section of London known as a cruising point for gays. His answer--"My doggy had to go." What, What?
Now for some time speculation has swirled around Spacey's sexual preference, fueled in part by his refusal to acknowledge one way or the other. If I may weigh in on the subject, the homosexual cruising park not withstanding, I suggest few if any hetero men--and most retrosexuals even--would use the term "doggie" to refer to their pet. Few would even have a mutt small enough to be classified in such a manner. My 2 cents.


"Why Can't I Get My Coffee Today?"

If anyone is planning on having lunch today at any one of the numerous homogenized American Bistro Eateries with a possesive apostrophe in its name you should be ready. The lounge and booths are bound to be choked with clutches of skirted professionals who are trading stories of their oppressive and incompetent boss.

Today is Administrative Professionals Day--or Secretary's Day, or Administrative Assistants Day, or Exceptional Assistants Day. You may want to check with your office manager to clarify the job title du-jour before you dart out to hallmark for the appropriate card and mylar balloon, or any other trinket based on how much of an ogre you have been as an employer. Rest assured you better do something or you will find phone calls dropping out of sight and caustic comments littering the coffee station on anonymous post-it notes.

To be sure somewhere you will find "Working Girl" playing on television today, but that's an easy way out. Only slightly less obvious would be "Secretary", though I'm not so sure the ladies will flock to such a title. I would go the equal-opportunity angle from the indie realm, choosing one of two titles with males in the assistant position. "New Suit" would fill the empowerment angle, showing an assistant who dupes Hollywood. But if your boss is a real ass you should go for "Swimming with Sharks". You'll feel better at some point in the movie, but only after learning you don't have to be in the water to get bitten.


Self-Aggrandizing, Gratuitous, or Auto-Lauditory: You Decide

On the front page of Film Threat today my dormant column entitled Milk Carton Cinema gets reinvigorated with a long-winded treatise on the film "Krippendorf's Tribe". It is a heartwarming and touching experience for all and I recomend it to any person looking for a feel-good moment of treacle. I'm talking about my column--the movie blows walnuts.

For the uninitiated or those with carpal tunnel who can't close this page, Milk Carton Cinema is a deep exploration into movies that came into theaters with a huge push from the studio and was essentially ignored by the general public and evoporated off screens in no time at all. I attempt to unearth the reasons and machinations behind these movies which were given every opportunity to succeed yet never came close, with the intention that studios may learn from these failures and in the end provide a higher quality form of entertainment. No, I don't pretend to have all the answers...that is why I used the word "attempt".

Thumb Your Way to Urbana Iliinois

Starting Wednesday and running through the weekend Roger Ebert will stage his sixth Overlooked Film Festival, Roger's annual collection of films released with minimum attention or not properly picked up for distribution. My temptation here is to weigh in with my own recommendations, but considering that this is an event staged by the nation's eminent film reviewer I'll demure my opinion.

The most visible name on the list would be "Tarnation", which made a big impact at Sundance in 2003. "People I KNow" is a wholly original indie with Al PAcino playing a freelance PR rep with an unspiraling life. One title I will point to is "Tully" and that is due to the fact that it was initially distributed on a small scale by Small Planet Pictures, a local outfit I have come to know.


Life Imitating Art

Last week in Las Vegas The Bellagio Hotel and Casino found itself in a suspiciously familiar situation last week when it fell dark for a few days. When Clooney and his minions hit 3 casinos in one night this was his modus.

Even funnier was an early report that speculated the cause of the blackout was a truck ramming into power lines in the area. This followed the plot line of the original when Sinitra had his lads execute a similar method.


I Pedaphilia Pain

Get ready, there is about to be an onslaught. June 13 of this year the Olsen twins--Mary-Kate, and that evil one, Ashley--will turn 18 years old, and there will be a testosterone overload in the media. A similar occurance happened a few years back when Anna Kournikova became legal. Suddenly every Sports Center host and sports radio DJ had her name mentioned and her images referenced with abandon. Expect double the hype when Olsen and her doppleganger turn legal.

This never addressed fact indicates that there is a wellspring of unhealthy obsession with underage sylphs in this society. Clearly these men have been leering at the nyphets in their youth and see the 18th year as a way of justifying their youngblood lust. Richard Roeper, one of the thumbs of "At the Movies" at least expresses his feeling uncomfortable with this adolescent infatuation in this month's Esquire Magazine titled "The Jailbait Dilemma". He discusses various young actresses that he encounters on screen and in interviews and the squirm-worthy feeling that they are positioned as sexy. He mentions a Q & A he did with young Ms. Duff where at certain angles she appeared like a 30 year old divorce'. This is where the line blurs, between the depravity of a libidinous adult audience and those who are cultivating the public image of these girls. The build up behind the Olsens indicates there may be guilty parties on both sides of the coin being dropped into the peep show slot. Already people are taking an unhealthy facination with these twin ingenue millionaires, and it will only get worse.

Though far from AARP age, I don't see this as a sexually healthy attitude. Can it be that 38 year old women are not sexy, or sexual? Do no men obsess over females who are exploring in their later years? (Besides you Kutcher, put your hand down.) I'm sorry, but I'd take a Diane Lane over any baby-sitting club member, but that's why I'm not living in Hollywood I guess.


"Reschedule Larry King, and get me Paul Mitchell on the Phone!"

This night tens of millions of Americans, (including my own wife) are glued to "Must See TV" because they must see the conclusion of "The Apprentice". For weeks avaricious social climbers lay their dignity prostrate before a bizarrely coiffed captain of industry in the hopes of becoming his close personal lackey. You may in fact have fallen prey to this guilty pleasure, but do not feel guilty, this is actually a great lesson in economics. Or office politics, at least.

The disturbing aspect of this is not only the fact that a soulless capitalist is allowed to once again rise to heights in the public consciousness, but also that Nubian succubus Omarosa managed to delve her poisonous character into the hearts of viewers everywhere. For the past few weeks this was a nation that concertedly announced "That Omarosa is a total C***!"

Personally I haven't see one episode. I have however appropriated the termination method of "The Donald" in my everyday life. Like when the woman at the doughnut shop botches my order I point at her with a bent hand and jut it towards her as I snap off a "You're Fired!" It gets me curious looks but inside I feel warm and satisfied. I also can't get too critical of the viewing public. When it comes to a predatory boss who terrorizes his charge and requires supplicant behavior I guess I know what the appeal is.


Edgy, Controversial--But No One Says Talented

World famous actress and occassional troubador Britany Spears is set to further emulate her idol Madonna by releasing a video so controversial in nature you will completely over look the horrid quality of her music.

Her upcoming single "Everytime" will have a video that depicts Spears in a scene of catharsis for many in the audience: she will commit suicide in the video. Reputedly her label, Jive Records, is excited at the project, with someone inside the company calling it "edgy".

Edgy, despite the fact that the David LaChapelle video visits the breakup of Britany with Justin Timberlake, leading to her lying lifeless in a tub. And Timberlake's role is going to be played by the completely un-edgy charisma vacum, Stephan Dorff. Dorff, star of memory defying titles like "Space Truckers" and "Fear Dot Com" in role of boy-band fly-guy Timberlake may provoke the unthinkable--people turning their heads away and actually listening to Spear's music.


Disney's "Alamo" Begs for Amnesia

You had to know this movie was going to tank hard, based on nothing more than the premiere fiesta hosted by Disney. 1,500 people came to the invite only event at the Historical landmark, dozens of party tents, stars showing up in Stetsons, a 3-block-long carpet for the luminaries to stroll, miles of cable for a 50 speaker sound system, and a culminating fireworks show. Oh yeah, this movie must really blow.

And blow it did. Sporting a bloated budget and the big-studio marketing push, nearly $140 was put behind a film that didn't come close to a $10 million opening weekend. This is the kind of failure that gets Wall Street to notice. So dismal is the ledger entry that it has rekindled talk surrounding the Comcast attempt to buy Disney a short time ago. But the laughable conclusion is that while the string of movie failings for the House of Mouse has possibly made it more affordable to a take over, Comcast my simply walk away from a losing enterprise it once coveted.

The failure of "The Alamo" does manage one bit of positive news--its underscores the ludicrous nature of the hyper-liberal hand-wringing that normally gets provoked by historical epics. I for one was not surprised to read that Mexicans were rather in a fit over the movie, but the reasons had me scratching my head. If I'm reading this AP story correctly Mexican residents are not upset at a stilted film portrayal, but rather the movie actually displayed events that happened. It looks to me that they expected this to be "only" about the Alamo massacre, and they are dissapointed that the defeat of Mexican troops at the Battle of San Jacinto was shown at the end of the movie. I would tend to think this was a crucial addendum, given the traditional "Remember the Alamo" was employed here, and the fact that San Jacinto was played out just one month after the titular story.

More comical to me is a column written by Oscar Villalon in the San Francisco Chronical, who is in a lather because of the numerous atrocities against Mexican-Americans not displayed on screen. While I feel for the guy's personal angst, it is misdirected here. He wants to address items like the activities of the Texas Rangers who wiped out a number of hispanics in violent sweeps through the state. He also wants mention made that the first move towards desegregation in schools involved Mexican students in San Diego.

These are important issues to be sure, but any writer would have a difficult time working them into a story that took place around 80-100 years previous. Tough to segue from a a dusty battle scene in the 1830's to a courtroom in 1931. If I could offer advice to Mr. Villalon, and any others bent out of shape by a movie of sort it is to remember--it's a Disney movie! Mel Gibson addressed this misguided angst years ago when people were miffed at the historical innacurracies in the animated "Pocahantos". He pointed out that the film also had animals communicating with humans: so much for the importance of accuracy in entertainment.


10 Years Later They Dance Alone

How cool is it to be ahead of the curve? Granted in my case it was maybe by a month at best, but still, I feel on the cutting edge. Some weeks back, in an effort to add to the film schedule at the theater I contacted Pete Baxter, co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival. Knowing they have a slate of films that tour around and beyond the nation I inquired into bringing a few Slamdance titles to our venue.

Pete was all for it, offering me 2 titles, and come April 24 we'll be showing the first of their films, "Faster", a documentary covering the Moto GP racing bike series. The doc is narrarated by Ewan McGregor, himself a motorcycle devotee.

It turns out that as I was calling Pete had in the works a plan to branch out into film distribution from the Slamdance offices. "Faster" and another title we are mulling, "Better Housekeeping" are two of the first films the new division will be distributing. The downside is that Baxter is stepping down from the position of the director of the Slamdance Festival in Park City.


Marketing Genius: A DVD Player for the Amish

I have to admit that on the surface it may sound like an alternative, but under deeper introspection it makes no damn sense at all. RCA is going to be selling a DVD player that will have the technology to skip over violent scenes, sexual content, and even offensive language. It used to be that you had to go to Blockbuster Video to watch movies that were sanitized for your protection, but now we will have the ability to bypass the middle man.

Of course the obvious has to be stated here. Those who may become offended by the list of grievances filtered out by this machine are likely to harbor no interest in a film with said content in the plot. But just supposing that is the case the end result will be a 90 minute feature reduced to little more than an extended trailer. Take as an example, Diane Lane in "Unfaithful" (purely an arbitrary pick). You will be looking at roughly a 60 min. soap opera without the back story. Tarentino's "(Censored) Bill" will be about ten minutes of homage montages. "(Censored) In the City" episodes? Five minutes of Manolo Blahnik talk.

For years Blockbuster Video has come under fire for editing the sexual content in the movies they offer up to the general public and I am here to tell you it is plain untrue. I have even spoken with a man who works as an editor at the corporate headquarters and he assured me that in 17 years of working for them nobody at Blockbuster has altered a motion picture.
Sure, they refuse to rent or sell films with an NC-17 rating, and they have insisted on studios to cut some questionable material or they will not carry a particular title, but they have never altered the movies. This is particularly hard on independant films--which have a tendency to take on NC-17 or "unrated" status.
A flow chart may help explain.

Blockbuster is owned by---->Viacom.
A subsidiary of Viacom is----> Paramount Pictures.
Paramount is a member of----> The Motion Picture Association of America.
The MPAA is the governing body which oversees---->the movie ratings board.

More than a few times it has been stated that the MPAA is more lenient with the studio movies than they are with independants, because they know that exhibitors and rental companies like Blockbuster are reticent to become involved with "adult" oriented material. Ergo they look out for themselves and the indies get emblazoned with the scarlet A.


Tampa Bay Safe from Pancetta on the Hoof

Let's get it out of the way, it is rather obvious how this story makes it into the blog. After weeks of tracking and attempts at capture the porcine fugitive that had the run of a city and eluded capture was finally subdued.

It took a helicopter, two search dogs and four squad cars according to the AP. You know, if the crack den operators in Tampa are paying attention all they need to do to boost sagging sales figures is to release livestock into the suburbs and the authorities will be duly occupied.

Over the course of a few weeks here is what was involved in the capture: Men with lassos, animal rights freaks with nets, and residents with baited traps. The article does not say why the pig couldn't be shot and used for a really kick-ass Bar-B-Que breakfast for the posse, but the flower beds and landscaping around Ybor City are safe once again. The police lieutenant credits one of his officers for tracking the terror all night and the subsequent capture.

To the cop who cornered the vandal I'd like to say: "That'll do
Pig, that'll do."


Ted Turner's All-Star Game

You may be thinking, "When was Ted Turner in a movie?", and you'd be excused for missing the times he inserted himself in costume in the bloated Civil War epics he financed that nobody saw. But it was not Turner the thespian that granted the Atlanta mogul a Star on Hollywood's walk-of-fame. Judging by the octogenarian posse at his side--aqua musical queen Esther Williams, actress and dancer Betty Garrett, former child stars Margaret O'Brien and Cora Sue Collins(and no Jane Fonda curiously enough)--Ted was being feted for his efforts in the classic film arena.

Garrett summed up what Turner Classic Movies means to those from the bygone eras. This line would be utterly hilarious if it were not an attributable quote--(as it stands it is merely funny):
"It's really wonderful to see myself at 3 in the morning when I was young,".
I would like to suggest that the only way an 85 year old former dancer sees 3:00 am is when someone slips her a cake with cream frosting and the lactose has her tossing in bed. Now before you fly off half-cocked about my "ageism", or that she probably has Tivo, let me give you the take of the reporter of this piece, Sarah Tippet. She describes the actresses in attendance as "A gaggle of yesteryear's movie stars, rouged and primped yet slightly unsteady in high heels." Let me say this much--should the laws of physics and nature become defied and I actually manage to see my 85th year I hereby grant permission to anyone that they can point out my Depends undergarments and call me "Slappy".

What wasn't mentioned in the article was that as the party for Ted was breaking up he was overheard saying that he was concerned that all of the stars on the sidewalk appeared to be monochromatic and that something should be done to fix the problem.


Treatment Engine Pt.1

A semi-irregular assessment of proof that there are new ideas in Hollywood based on some of the scripts recently purchased in Dreantown, USA.

Goodbye to Romance--Based on an article from Arena magazine about Russian mail-order brides. If the title does not clue you in to an absence of delicate emotions this script has been flagged to be produced by the mind behind, "Road Trip", "Old School" and "Starsky and Hutch", Todd Phillips.

Honeymoon from Hell--Don't expect any lurid bacchanalia in Hades here, rather it sounds more like a "3's Company" script gone feature. Bride and groom call off their wedding and each independently decide to go on the honeymoon, she with a bridesmaid, he with the best man. It doesn't really say, but I'm guessing hilarity ensues!

(Untitled)--Michael Kalesniko is set to write this comedy about an American experiencing the cultural differences in London. Prospects are questionable because of this line: "Based on an idea by Keanu Reeves."

Spy Hunter--Set to ride with The Rock/Duane Johnson behind the wheel as he attempts to stretch himself as an action star. The story, based on the 80's video game of same name, was rewritten, ostensibly because character and plot made things murky.

The Bird--Each year the President of These States pardons the execution of a turkey in honor of Thanksgiving. This will be a comedy focusing on a hapless White House staffer who has to deal with wrangling the turkey for this ceremony. I'd say the audience potential is limited given the tens of millions of Americans who ignore the Presidential example and devour turkey on Thursday.

Cordless--Writer Oren Moverman is setting himself up to be the next Joe Esterhas. It is left to find out if this is intentional or not. In what is sounding like a very "Sliver"-like story this film centers on voyeurism in a building with unattractive males in the lead roles. Instead of Billy Baldwin we are promised Malcom McDowell, Steve Buscemi, and Fisher Stevens.

The Cobain is Bearable

(Written previous but delayed for reasons even rock couldn't solve)

April 5, 10 years ago, a generation was brought to its knees. At least that's what I had been told repeatedly by the media at the time, though I myself felt no such wobble in the joints. How strange indeed to be lectured that a seminal event was taking place around me, and not only was I not connected with the shockwave but I had the very palpable feeling that those in the media foisting these emotions on me were in fact full of crap.

Curt Cobain, volatile lead singer of Nirvana and questionable bride selector killed himself on this date and I was repeatedly told to care.
But I couldn't. Self-destruction has never been something I have been inclined to sactify into martyrdom. When someone is standing on the accelerator on a dead-end street all you can do is pull the kids in to safety and not look at the explosion. This mourning-cum-apathy within me has nothing to do with my opinion of the band.

My introduction to the magic of the album "Nevermind" predated that of most people. At the time I was in a house with 4 other guys, the cheap rent tempering the fact that most of us couldn't stand each other. One roommate was a notable jackass but he was something of an alt-music savant who always kept us in good music and on the cutting edge. He often managed to bring home a disc that later would end up exploding on one scale or another. We all had fallen for "Nevermind" long months before a note ever appeared on radio. In fact, when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was only becoming referred to as an Anthem we had in fact become tired of the album. We all gravitated to that disc, stealing it out of each other's players or blasting it in the house at any and all hours. It never occurred to us that it would become the musical mushroom cloud of the decade, although it should have tipped us off that 5 guys with differing tastes all loved the same album. (A similar event took place with "gish", as I had that entire album memorized before Smashing Pumpkins became an MTV Cribs name.)

Nirvana's mega-popularity was difficult for the masses to quantify, hence the term grunge was created, although its definition came to mean any band from Seattle or which adorned itself in tattered flannel fashions. They did not fit into the pigeon-hole of "Punk", largely due to the fact that punk was a Ramones-fueled English rebellion against the musical establishment of disco and the like. As much as I enjoyed Nirvana's stuff I had a hard time elevating their work in terms of importance with the likes of The Sex Pistols or The Clash--for one thing they were too damned melodic. Look at the effects. Those bands inspired countless acts in their wake, leading to numerous offshoots such as new wave, progressive, industrial, and others. Nirvanas's legacy instead is a wave of bands immitating them, and as a result the alt-rock scene has become a homogenized, and now marginalized, musical niche buried by hip-hop and teen queens.

It is doubtful we will ever see a poetic union like Joe Strummer performing on the "Sid and Nancy" soundtrack involving a Cobain feature, should it dare be made. It has to be saddening however to think that Strummer's recent passing, as well as those of Joey and Dee Dee Ramone, failed to provoke the kind of outpouring Cobain's demise invoked. Our local rock station played nothing but Nirvana for entire day. I remember news shots from Seattle on the day Cobain threw his mortal coil down the toilet, with the crowds gathering, and wondered how much of that was heartfelt and how much was a desire to be on the scene and possibly be seen on MTV News. And I think I know why I harbor such dubious emotions.

To get a true handle on the way this revolution was compromised you should see the documentary "Hype!" which covers the popularity of the grunge scene from the vantage of Seattle. More than a catalogue of events from the Pacific Northwest music system it is an indictment of the media treatment of what was taking place in that area.

Right around the time "Nevermind" was cresting its popularity I read an article in SPIN magazine where the writer was on tour with the band as they blazed through Europe. On the tour bus the writer heard curious music being played and asked the frontman about it. Curt waxed poetic, saying lauditory things about the band they were listening to and explaining how they listen to their albums all the time. That band that held such sway with the "Voice of a Generation"? It was ABBA. Freaking ABBA! I don't know about the rest of you, but I myself expect a little more from my figurehead than kicking back and listening to Swedish club icons. C'mon--how can this guy lay claim as the vox populi of Gen-X when a major influence on himself was the Nordic yelpers of "Fernando" infamy.


I'm Doing This, Because It Is Crucial to the Story

I'm only confused about one detail concerning this movie, and that is they are probably going to describe it as "a period costume drama."


Get In Touch With Your Inner Dude--Just Don't Micturate on the Carpet

This is why comedians hate to follow a good routine. The Coen Brothers--scribes of this blog's titular line--had one of their biggest hits with "Fargo", and years later they followed it with their most successful film, "O Brother Where Art Thou?". But nestled between the release of these two titles is a curiosity.

"The Big Lebowski" featured Jeff Bridges taking on the character traits of film festival fixture Jeff Dowd, a key figure in the career launch of Joel and Ethan. Unlike the love it/hate it response most divisive films create this one either touched individuals personally or had them scratching their head.

Well for those with an appreciation for bowling and area rugs you should tramp over to Louisville Kentucky for the 3rd Annual Lebowski Fest, running June 18-20. Mix up a batch of white russians (made with half&half) and drive the mobile over for 3 days of Dudeness.

Lebowski Fest - an event honoring The Big Lebowski.


From Bambino to Bartman: Do these Guys Warrant a Movie?

Last year's baseball playoff round was a tale of two cities, except there was no contrast with which to juxtapose the towns, no "Best of/Worst of"--it was simply worse on both counts. The antics of Cub fan Steve Bartman and the subsequent meltdown of the baby bears overshadowed the fact that the BoSox also were busy at what they do best. While hardball purists were hoping for a pairing of the losers in the finale and a cathertic release in one of the cities, as expected both clubs tanked in the approach.

That is why I am surprised to hear that a documentary is on the horizon that details the 2003 season of the Boston Red Sox. As if Beantown residents haven't suffered enough there will now be a feature that painfully details the travails of their beloved failures over the decades. I don't get it, I mean, they lost! The Florida Marlins took the flag and all they were able to rank was to become the namesake of a clownfish.

As if this film won't cause enough heartache among the rougue hose set here's one additional dig: The doc will be made by ThinkFilm, a New York based production company.


Making You My Baby

There really was only one thing that could come to mind with this story(may have to register). A Chicago area man on Monday commited a car jacking and happened to also come away with an additional parcel. The car's owner left the engine running as he darted into a store to run an errand. He also left his 11 month old strapped in the car seat.

Desperate calls were made to the cell phone, which had also been left in the car, at which point Nate Davis, who was tooling around with friends, proceeded to demand $10,000 for the return of the child.
When the not too clever felon was quickly caught with the child it was found in good condition

In court the unstable Davis referred to his kidnapping as a "Five finger discount", but clearly he had his hands full, while not dealing with a full deck. Eventually the family was reunited, a happy ending for all. I'm not sure why this story raises so many memories.


"Peking, We Have a Problem"

All the world was a titter when it was discovered China sent a manned space vehicle into orbit. Well a couple of people noticed, at least. However red flags, if not red lanterns, went off in China when their astronaut Yang Liwei announced that the long held belief that The Great Wall of China could be viewed from outerspace was bunkum. He never saw it, and the citizens were crestfallen.

But now the Mainland patriotism has become reinvigorated by American supernal traveler Gene Cernan who has backed up the long held belief by stating that he has seen The Wall from orbit. Cernan, the last man to actually walk on the moon--before Jim Carey--brings curious thoughts for the billion or so Chinese. Their own 'naught missed the landmark and now they have to rely on an American to reinstitute national pride. They haven't felt this kind of ambivalence since a skirt successfully fought back the Huns.