May 08, 2004

Not Growing Up

I've mentioned how I end up going to pretty much every little-kid movie that comes out. It's an easy way to give the Mrs. a break from tending the herd, and while some of the movies might leave something to be desired as grown-up entertainment, you get the occasional surprise.

Like last year's Peter Pan. I ended up seeing that one with my 6-year-old son, my 12-year-old daughter, and (inadvertantly) a group of thoroughly obsessed barely-teenaged girls who sat in the row in front of us and squealed uncontrollably whenever Jeremy Sumpter (the boy who plays Peter Pan) was looking especially cute. Which was a lot. By the end of the film my daughter was disgusted with them, but I thought they added to the ambience.

Now that the movie's out on DVD I was curious to see if I'd like it as much without the hormonally-crazed accompaniment. And it turns out that I do. This movie is amazing. It's beautiful. And yes, it made me cry.

As with other films I've felt compelled to gush about here, I love it in large part because director P. J. Hogan, along with his cast and crew, was willing to risk a complete commitment to the story's emotional potential. The downside to that is that it makes the movie easy to criticize, if that's what you want to do. For an example, see this review from Bruce Kirkland of the Toronto Sun: A sexualized Peter Pan. Or, for someone whose panning is a good deal less repressed and more fun, see Mr. Cranky.

Mr. Cranky is funny but wrong, while Kirkland is just wrong. For some reviews that put things in proper perspective, see Roger Ebert, Michael Atkinson, and Harry Knowles.

Yes, the movie is occasionally dark, and doesn't skirt the issue of its characters' emerging sexuality. Attention prudish doofuses: That's what the story of Peter Pan is about, the sanitized Disney version notwithstanding. Deal.

My son is a pretty sensitive kid, even by 6-year-old standards. I just this moment asked him if he liked the movie.

"Yeah."

The scary parts, the serious parts, didn't bother you?

"No. They were good."

You sure?

(Hint of annoyance.) "They were good."

sumpter_hurd_wood.jpg

He's right. This whole movie is good. It's magically, heart-achingly good. I feel really sorry for those of you who don't have a kid or two of your own to entertain, since you might very well end up missing it. Take my advice: Go find some kid-encumbered friend or relative, and offer to babysit. Then settle in with some microwave popcorn and this movie. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I sure was.

Posted by jbc at 07:21 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 05, 2004

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush

I saw this little ditty in IMDB's Movie News, I'll lay off the personal commentary, and just link to Mike's Message and cite a few passages from the NY Times Article...

... Disney executives indicated that they would not budge from their position forbidding Miramax to be the distributor of the film in North America. ...
...
Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.
...
A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's interests not because of the company's business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many.
...
Miramax is free to seek another distributor in North America, but such a deal would force it to share profits and be a blow to Harvey Weinstein, a big donor to Democrats.
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April 28, 2004

Crying at Movies

What with the logistics of kids and babysitters, I tend not to see too many movies during their theatrical runs. (Well, except for kid movies. I see pretty much all of those, whether they deserve it or not.) Eight or nine months after everyone else has finished discussing the latest cool movie, I finally get around to seeing it on DVD, and suddenly find myself wanting to discuss it with my friends, friends who are already all talked out about whether Matrix Reloaded sucked or not (not, unless you're willing to stipulate that the first one sucked, too), or whether Lost in Translation was an aimless piece of nothing (sorry, no) or a masterful mood piece (a-yup).

So it was something of an aberration that my wife and I saw Love, Actually in the theater a few weeks before it officially opened, at a sneak preview in Santa Barbara. The audience was chock-full of Hugh Grant/Emma Thompson/Colin Firth fans from the city's British-expat community, which may have helped it receive an especially warm reception, but even without the supportive crowd, I'm pretty sure I would have liked the movie a lot. Anyway, I did like it a lot, and now that it's out on DVD and I've seen it again, I like it even more.

I'm quite the sucker for romantic comedies. An argument can be made that Love, Actually isn't really a romantic comedy, but is more of an extended highlight reel from six or seven of them, but the fact remains that Richard Curtis (the film's writer and director) has a distinctive sort of output that was very much in evidence in his previous work (he wrote the screenplays for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones' Diary), and if you liked his work there (which I mostly did) you're probably going to like it here.

Not so, however, for Chris Orr, a writer for The New Republic. In a new review timed for the DVD release he pretty much pans everything about Love, Actually: Crap, actually. While I admit that his review's title is kind of cute, he's just completely, tragically wrong about the movie. It is a great film, a beautiful film, a hopeful, uplifting film. That a movie with nine (or so) separate storylines is not a mess is a tribute to Curtis's deft writing and to his effective use of the stunningly good actors in his cast. Improbable as it seems, Curtis has taken the stuff of several light, frilly comedies, stripped it down and mashed it together, and delivered not only laughs, but a deeper movie that is actually about something.

Okay; I admit there are comic bits that aren't going to work for everyone. For my taste, there were too many fat jokes, and the storyline about the loveless Colin (Kris Marshall), who goes to America to become a sex god and succeeds beyond any reasonable expectation, was pretty silly. (Though I liked it better on subsequent viewings.)

But those are minor quibbles, given the things the movie does right. The most unexpectedly powerful moment for me comes when Thomas Sangstrom, playing the 11-year-old stepson of Liam Neeson's character, steps into Neeson's arms to be hoisted and turned in the air, his arms spread wide in a moment of exultation that is pure, heartfelt, and thoroughly moving.

neeson_sangstrom.jpg

I don't think I was particularly prone to crying at movies when I was younger, but since becoming a parent I've noticed a definite tendency toward emotional waterworks, especially in tear-jerking scenes involving children. I cried when I saw that scene in the theater, and cried again when I watched it on DVD, and again when I watched the DVD the second time to listen to the audio commentary. It's powerful stuff, and it's powerful because Richard Curtis and his cast and crew were willing to risk making a movie that talks honestly and openly about the most vulnerable of human emotions.

It's easy to cut down a film that is sincere and hopeful about love. It's easy to be cynical and snarky. Easy, but wrong.

This is a great movie. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. If you have seen it, see it again. Go ahead and mock me in the comments for being a silly girly-man; I don't care. I love this movie.

Posted by jbc at 09:15 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 29, 2004

Oscar Predictions

Because I like the idea of people dangling out there in public view with predictions about unpredictable phenomena, here is my ballot, just now prepared, in anticipation of the Oscar-viewing party that will be taking place here in a few hours.

Note that these are not necessarily who I think should win, but just who I think will win. Or at least, my best guesses in my effort to secure bragging rights among the other losers who'll be attending. Follow the link below, or scroll down, for the full picture.

more...

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February 27, 2004

Paris Hilton: Porn Director

I saw this the other day, but the significance of the claim didn't really register in my mind untill today. Rick Soloman has filed a lawsuit against "Marvad Corp", for displaying still shots taken from the well known video of he and Paris Hilton having sex on their web site. The basis of his suit is copyright infringement -- which is key to keep in mind, because Marvad's lawyers have responded by claiming that as "The Producer", he is commiting fraud by claiming copyright without the consent of Paris Hilton, "The Director".

From their petition: "Ms Hilton offered directorial comments and physically controlled and directed the camera. Solomon's failure to identify Ms Hilton as a co-author on the application for copyright registration renders the certificate of registration invalid and fraudulent."

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December 29, 2003

Stryker on Widescreen Movie Formats

Stryker is tragically broken in his non-appreciation of LOTR, but otherwise makes a good point about the weirdness of people who prefer panned-and-scanned over widescreen: Challenging your beliefs.

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November 21, 2003

The Cat in the Hat Sucks

I haven't seen it yet, so I'll hope you'll forgive the title. But it seems a pretty safe bet, based on the assembled comments on this Defective Yeti page: The Bad Review Revue: We Did Not Like It, Not One Little Bit.

Posted by jbc at 06:39 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 12, 2003

Smoke Free Movies

SmokeFreeMovies recently came to my attention when my girlfriend told me about a lecture (PPT) she'd just attended by Stan Glantz. Dr. Glantz is somewhat of an eccentric in the Public Health community and started the project on a lark, knowing that Big Tobaco has a history of working with major movie studios -- but then he discovered that smoking in movies does significantly stimulate smoking in kids.

Personally, I thought the idea was a little goofy, but he presents some pretty interesting statistics (like: characters in movies smoke 300 times as much as people in real life) and their goals are very modest, and seem completely reasonable to me. In particular, they'd like to see smoking given the same consideration as profanity and alcohol in determining if a movie should get an R Rating.

If nothing else, it's interesting to see some of the Ads the organization has run in industry publications to promote their cause within the Hollywood system. (They are listed in reverse chronological order, so I suggested starting at the bottom and reading up). Of particular interest to me was the Ad they made after finding out about the letter writting campaign of a group of High School kids in New York who wrote 202,000 letters to various Hollywood big shots and got only two replies: one refusing delivery, and one from Julia Roberts's people threatening legal action if they sent any more letters.

Posted by hossman at 12:27 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

September 29, 2003

Gollum and Smeagol Review the Two Towers

If you haven't seen the trailer for The Return of the King yet, you must go watch it. Watch it now! Heh. It made the Mrs. start bawling, and I got pretty misty-eyed myself. Appears to be available from various places, like Apple's download page.

But anyway, in the meantime, here's a fun item: Gollum and Smeagol debate The Two Towers DVD.

Posted by jbc at 03:34 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2003

More 'Bowling for Columbine' Fun

So, I finally rented and watched Bowling for Columbine. It's funny to me how something that's been built up in my mind for so long by so many people can end up seeming so... different when I finally meet it face-to-face. I felt like telling the movie, "Huh. You're a lot smaller in person."

Which isn't intended as criticism. The movie is what it is, and I think it makes a great point, and deserves to be watched and talked about. If I had my way, though, I guess I'd prefer that the talk actually be about what the movie is about, rather than being the strident meta-discussion over whether or not Moore "told the truth" in making it.

Yeah, well, I'd like to serve under Captain Picard aboard the Enterprise and take an extended vacation with the riders of Rohan and go fishing on the Grand Banks with the crew of the We're Here, too. But none of those things are ever going to happen, except in my head. We live in the real world, and the subjective nature of reality notwithstanding, it is what it is, too, regardless of our wishes.

And what it is lately is a place to talk about Moore's truthfulness in making Bowling for Columbine. He himself has a really nice treatment of that at his web site: How to Deal with the Lies and the Lying Liars When They Lie about "Bowling for Columbine". And Brendan Nyhan at Spinsanity has his own counterspin on Moore's comments: Moore admits to altering "Bowling for Columbine" DVD.

Thanks to Adam at Words Mean Things for the link.

Posted by jbc at 10:51 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (1)

September 05, 2003

Spinsanity on the Bowling for Columbine DVD

Sometimes these lies.com stories just take on a life of their own. I've never even seen Bowling for Columbine, but it keeps showing up here.

Anyway, here's Spinsanity's Brendan Nyhan: Moore alters "Bowling" DVD in response to criticism.

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August 29, 2003

The Quest for Better Movie Physics

Fun site you shouldn't miss: Insultingly stupid movie physics.

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August 24, 2003

Amazing, Spoiler-Laden Dernhelm Image

We're getting closer! Woo!

Ahem. Obsessive fanboy restraints applied. I wanted to share the following image, which apparently is a scan of the packaging for an action figure due to come out with The Return of the King, and which has been posted by the excellent obsessives at theonering.net: Dernhelm.

Warning: I (obviously) don't know yet how this particular plot element is going to be handled in the movie, but if you haven't read The Lord of the Rings and want to preserve what is, in the book at least, a major surprise, you shouldn't view the above-linked image. But if you fall into that particular demographic, you're tragically flawed already, so it's hard to muster much sympathy for your predicament. Go read it already, then come back and view the image.

Woo!

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August 16, 2003

In Defense of Michael Moore

User Eloquence at Kuro5hin has a really nice rebuttal of a David Hardy piece I previously linked to: A defense of Michael Moore and "Bowling for Columbine".

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July 31, 2003

James Woods Interview in Salon

It's kind of hard to categorize this one. It's an interview with actor James Woods by Salon writer Amy Reiter, and it's definitely worth watching the MCI commercial (or whatever) to get the one-day pass for it: Woods on fire. He's promoting his new movie, Northfork, so it should probably go in the "Movies" category, but the interview actually ends up being about lots of other things, like whether or not George Bush is a moron and why people on the left-wing can't admit that it was a bad thing for Bill Clinton to put a cigar in Monica Lewinsky's vagina and whether it's important that WMD have not been found in Iraq and so on. On balance, I think the thing the interview is "about," more than anything else, is the nature of celebrity and the larger context of people like Woods doing interviews like this, so that's the category I chose for it.

I certainly don't agree with all the conclusions Woods comes to. But I certainly do agree with some of them. And his comments about the frustration of dealing with people whose minds are already made up on every political issue struck a chord with me, given the kind of ranting I've been doing on this site lately.

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July 14, 2003

Mel's Cinematic "Passion"

In a story referred to earlier by John, Mel Gibson's upcoming film project on the last hours of Jesus Christ's life on earth has started to receive some advance screenings, and a few more details are coming out about it. Any kind of play or movie that has a central focus on Christ has always been a lightening rod for scrutiny and criticism among the Jewish and Christian faiths. It's apparent already from this story and this one that some serious trepidation is surfacing, especially within some Jewish and Catholic groups. As a Christian, I certainly hope that Mel Gibson is true to his word of a faithful and authentic-feeling presentation of, what I feel, is the most important event in mankind's history (although the dialogue will be entirely in Aramaic and Latin, it now appears that a limited amount of subtitles will be included). It's an impossible job to fully pull off however, since Mel is relying on some Gospels that sometimes differ with each other in the details of those final hours. So what do you include or leave out in a biblically accurate retelling of the Passion Story? Hence, part of the inevitable disapproval. There is also an indication that some non-biblical sources (the writings of several centuries-old nuns) may find some influence within the story. The more problematic issue will be the reaction of the Jewish religious leaders and the Defamation League at any connection of the Jews of that time being involved in Christ's arrest and death. Now, I certainly would be dismayed if the film painted the Jews in some ugly stereotypes and/or suggested that they were either wholly and collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. But I don't believe that will be Mel's intent. However, the fact that a number of the Jewish population and leadership of that time were threatened and angered by Christ's presence, and had a hand in shaping the events of those final hours (along with the Romans) is undeniable.

Does this make all those of Jewish heritage permanently stained by the actions of some predecessors? Of course not. But the hatred and persecution endured by Jews over time has made many of them understandably hyper-sensitive (to a fault) to their depiction in this part of world history (an example of such thinking and a more moderate voice). I hope that the likely predictible uproar that some in both the Jewish and Christian communities will create will not distract people ( both believers and non-believers) from viewing the film without pre-judging its validity, sincerity, and its faithfulness to the scriptures. From all I have now heard about it, the film seems to deserve that chance.

Posted by Craig at 08:34 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 06, 2003

Stick-Figure Two Towers

You won't have noticed, but I've been keeping my obsessed-fanboy side in check for the past several months. Well, I can feel the restraint slipping. We're well and truly entering the ROTK spoiler season at theonering.net, which means it's time for everyone, or at least me, to begin thinking continuously about the upcoming conclusion of the Greatest Film Adaptation of All Time.

I think I can restrain myself for at least a little longer, at least as far as posting about it here goes. But I can't pass up posting about this one. From the truly insane cats at insanecats.com: The Two Towers Movie - Stick Version. Flash required.

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June 02, 2003

Lights, Camera, Fiction!

For those who may have watched the movie on FX yesterday on the real-life bank robbery and police shootout with those two heavily-armed, body armor-wearing guys in North Hollywood a few years ago, here is an article on the riveting story's feeble reenactment to a TV movie. Interesting how often an isolated yet compelling episode of real life becomes listless and full of inaccuracies once scriptwriters and producers get ahold of it and feel the need to add more "drama".

Posted by Craig at 07:28 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 01, 2003

The Two Towers Wins Some Awards

So, here I am biding my time until December, when ROTK appears, or at least until November, when the extended-edition TTT DVD appears. In the meantime, though, my fanboy juices were set flowing by the following: Rings grabs four MTV Movie Awards.

Yeah, they're not the real awards; just the silly MTV variety. But I'll take 'em.

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May 22, 2003

Whittle on Moore's 'Magic'

Assertively-rational conservative Bill Whittle has posted an essay that is getting lots of attention lately, at least according to Daypop: Magic. It's entertainingly written, which is good, because it's also fairly long-winded, and takes quite a while to get to the main point, which is that Whittle doesn't like the way Michael Moore staged fictional scenes and asserted untrue things in Bowling for Columbine.

There's extensive discussion of people's love of magical thinking, illustrated by gleeful debunkings of Roswell and Loch Ness. Whittle invokes Carl Sagan, citing him as an influence and hailing his writing as "refined genius of the highest degree" (though apparently Sagan wasn't able to actually apply the principles of clear thinking that Whittle praises so highly, since Sagan's own views on political questions, at least, were diametrically opposed to Whittle's).

There's also a mention of misdirection, the illusionist's hand-waving that distracts the audience while handkerchief is replaced by rabbit. Which is fun, given that Whittle's logical argument itself is pretty much just a grand piece of misdirection.

I am always distrustful of self-styled skeptics who seem driven more by an emotional need to prove others wrong than by the desire to get closer to the underlying reality that mocks our simplistic, abstract perceptions. Whittle provides a great example of that, decrying the magical thinking on the part of those he disagrees with, while engaging in his own version of the same thing. His denial of the essential magic and mystery of the world, his repeated assertions that he possesses firmly-grounded Truths that his political opponents myopically overlook, is itself magical thinking, just on a slightly higher plane.

The constancy of the speed of light as a natural speed limit has been so thoroughly and completely tested and vindicated that these aliens must have learned to harness the power of entire galaxies to bore wormholes through spacetime, which would be necessary to have these infinitely fast, staggeringly maneuverable, gravity-defying, super-hardened space-metal saucers in the skies over our planet.

Sweet!

Heh. No one who really grasped the essence of what Sagan wrote about human knowledge and science could make a statement like that. Not because it's particularly likely that aliens crashed a foil-wrapped spaceship into New Mexico in 1946, but because anyone defending a scientific principle as having been "so thoroughly and completely tested and vindicated" is just begging to have his frame of reference pulled from under him by new, unanticipated data.

The Whittle who saw a leprechaun at the age of nine was, in my view, a better scientist than the Whittle of today. It saddens me to see how the emotional traumas of growing up can do that to people, closing them off from the world, isolating them within protective walls of rational certainty, loudly proclaiming the correctness of their views and attacking anything that threatens to make a chink in that armor.

There is magic in the world still, real magic, way down deep. Children know that. Too many adults have forgotten.

Posted by jbc at 05:35 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2003

Ebert Interview

Something I missed when it first appeared is a really fabulous interview with Roger Ebert over at AlterNet. He talks about Michael Moore's Academy Awards speech, actors and musicians who criticize the war, and whether movies can make us better people. An excerpt:

Q: What do you make of the criticism of Hollywood celebrities for speaking out against the war the Sean Penns, the Susan Sarandons?

Ebert: It's just ignorant; it's just ignorant.

Q: Why do you say that?

Ebert: I begin to feel like I was in the last generation of Americans who took a civics class. I begin to feel like most Americans don't understand the First Amendment, don't understand the idea of freedom of speech, and don't understand that it's the responsibility of the citizen to speak out. If Hollywood stars speak out, so do all sorts of other people. Now Hollywood stars can get a better hearing. Oddly enough, the people who mostly seem to hear them are the right wing, so that Fox News can put on its ticker tape in Times Square a vile attack on Michael Moore, and Susan Sarandon is a punchline. These are people who are responsible and are saying what they believe. And there are people on the other side who also speak out, and it's the way our country works.

There's lots more good stuff there. Definitely worth checking out, if you haven't seen it already.

Posted by jbc at 09:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 16, 2003

Stop Affleck and J-Lo from Remaking Casablanca

From Daypop comes word of this online petition, which seeks to derail the reported Casablanca remake starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez: Stop them before they film again.

Posted by jbc at 09:21 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

WWN: Saddam Starred in Gay Porn Films

There's something fairly delicious in having the Weekly World News included in the list of publications available from Yahoo! Entertainment. Because, for example, it allows me to link to stories like this: Saddam starred in gay porn films!

Gasp!

In the newly uncovered 86-minute prison flick, Saddam, then just 34, plays a naive young peasant who is wrongly convicted and sent to jail. He is initiated into homosexuality by a series of older and more experienced cons.

"Saddam's acting in the picture is actually quite good," al-Sabah notes. "One scene, in which he buries his face in a pillow and cries, is so touching you almost can forget you're watching a low-budget sexploitation film."

Posted by jbc at 09:06 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 10, 2003

Sarandon, Robbins Get Smackdown from Baseball Hall of Fame

Here's a wacky story. As pointed out by the fine people at Daily Kos: Robbins-Sarandon anti-war talk leads Hall to cancel celebration. Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey, a former Reagan administration official, has apparently chosen to cancel a scheduled tribute to the movie Bull Durham, because the tribute would have involved participation by those dangerous peaceniks Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. The story quotes from the letter Petroskey sent to Robbins announcing the cancellation:

"In a free country such as ours, every American has the right to his or her own opinions, and to express them. Public figures, such as you, have platforms much larger than the average American's, which provides you an extraordinary opportunity to have your views heard -- and an equally large obligation to act and speak responsibly," Petroskey wrote.

"We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important -- and sensitive -- time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our President and our troops in this conflict."

The story quotes Robbins as replying that he didn't realize baseball was "a Republican sport." The story goes on to quote the following from Robbins' letter of reply:

"You invoke patriotism and use words like 'freedom' in an attempt to intimidate and bully. In doing so, you dishonor the words 'patriotism' and 'freedom' and dishonor the men and women who have fought wars to keep this nation a place where one can freely express their opinions without fear of reprisal or punishment."

Right on.

Posted by jbc at 10:31 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

April 06, 2003

Edelstein on 'Three Kings'

From today's New York Times comes an interesting review of the 1999 movie on the aftermath of Gulf War I: One Film, Two Wars, 'Three Kings'. Reviewer David Edelstein is a big fan of the movie, which he describes as "the most caustic anti-war movie of this generation." He also quotes from a recent email he received from David O. Russel, the movie's writer and director, on how he'd like to believe that the American public is smarter today about the realities underlying our mideast war aims, "but I honestly don't think so... I mean, come on, it's a SCANDAL that Bush has pulled this off. It's mind-blowing."

Anyway, if you haven't seen the movie yet, you should rent it. Good performances by George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, among others.

I'm not sure why, but I've found myself drawn to war movies lately. On some level I guess it's obvious: a steady diet of raw news from the front lines has left me wanting something a little more polished, something that puts all the technology and amoral strategic calculation into a more-human context.

I recently Tivo'd and re-watched Full Metal Jacket, mostly for Lee Ermey's Sergeant Hartman in the first half of the film, but as usual for a Kubrick movie, once I started watching it I was sucked in, hypnotized by his vision, and ended up watching the whole thing.

I also rented Saving Private Ryan last week, which really is an incredibly good war movie, as long as you skip the ham-handed opening and closing present-day sequences where Spielberg felt compelled to hammer us over the head with his message, just in case there were any five-year-olds in the audience who'd missed it.

Two war movies I've meant to see, but haven't gotten around to, are The Thin Red Line (with a pre-Two Towers performance by Miranda Otto!), and Tears of the Sun, which has that Bruce Willis thing going for it (assuming we're talking about the Bruce Willis who was smart enough to associate himself with The Fifth Element and Twelve Monkeys), which I'm hoping is enough to make up for the frighteningly twisted Hollywood premise of a war movie predicated on a Navy Seal officer's heroic decision to violate his orders in order to save a bunch of Third World civilians.

Anyway, get out there and get your war (movies) on.

Posted by jbc at 08:43 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 25, 2003

Hardy: The Truth about Bowling for Columbine

I seem unable to stop posting links about Michael Moore and Bowling for Columbine. Maybe I should actually see the movie. Anyway, here's the latest: from David T. Harvey, Bowling for Columbine: Documentary or Fiction? According to Harvey, Columbine cannot be considered a documentary, because in making it Moore consistently lied about his subject matter.

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March 24, 2003

Poniewozik on Moore's Oscar Rant

Just to beat a dead horse a little more, here's Time Magazine's James Poniewozik with a fairly apt critique of Michael Moore's anti-Bush, anti-war acceptance speech at the Oscars last night: Shame on You, Mr. Moore! Shame on You!

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Dave Barry on Writing Oscar Jokes with Steve

Dave Barry reveals the process behind the creation of Steve Martin's Oscar jokes. Dave Barry is extremely cool.

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March 23, 2003

Oscar Does War

So, I watched the Oscars. I was gratified by The Two Towers winning a few technical awards, and pleased that my (admittedly pretty sucky) score of 9 was sufficient to win the prognostication pool between myself, my wife, and my sister-in-law. And it's fun to see Steve Martin doing what he does. Also, I was curious, like everyone else, to see how the war figured in acceptance speeches.

I basically agree with most of Michael Moore's criticisms, but his ranting annoyed even me. Personally, I was more impressed with Adrian Brody's more-thoughtful comments. Michael Moore bugs me in much the same way that Rush Limbaugh and Evan Coyne Maloney do. The strength or weakness of their arguments notwithstanding, I don't like their certainty. For Michael Moore to get up on the Oscar stage and spout off about Bush's fictions requires that the other side respond with boos, and the noise level goes up, and before you know it people are willing to go to war with each other in the name of peace.

There's actually something fairly Bush-like in Moore's assumption that the direct assault is the way to go. It's kind of childish; everything is black or white, right or wrong, with us or against us. I assume the author of the YahooNews story I saw about Moore's acceptance speech was going for irony with the line about how Moore had "used his win of an Oscar to launch a violent attack on US President George W. Bush," and while I think that phrasing constitutes a pretty severe devaluing of the term "violent attack," especially in the current context, I can also see the person's point.

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March 20, 2003

Oscars Blacklist Antiwar Stars?

From The Scotsman comes this interesting story: Oscars blacklist stars in bid to prevent peace protest speeches. So, assuming the Oscars do go forward as planned, there's another reason to tune in: to see if anyone gets their acceptance speech cut short for saying what they think about the war.

Posted by jbc at 01:53 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 14, 2003

Mel Gibson's Got Religion

You've probably seen this already, but if not, you'll need to check it out. Mel Gibson, it seems, is making a movie about the last few hours of Christ's life, which is nothing particularly new, but he's going to present it in Latin and Aramaic, without subtitles. Hollywood says he's crazy, but he's paying for it himself, so more power to him. Apparently this is related to Mel's close involvement with an ultra-conservative brand of Catholicism that believes the Vatican II reforms were a mistake; see the linked story for more wacky details.

Posted by jbc at 09:20 AM | view/comment (62) | TrackBack (0)

February 25, 2003

Jerrold on Kim Jong Il's Love of Movies

From Bravo comes word of this cool op-ed piece from the L.A. Times (login with cypherpunk98/cypherpunk): North Korea: The Movie. By political psychologist Jerrold M. Post, it looks at some of the cool wackiness behind North Korea's leader.

Posted by jbc at 01:00 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 18, 2003

Salon on Serkis's Non-Nomination

The folks at Salon have a story on Andy Serkis's failure to get a best-supporting nomination from those aging thespians at the Acadamy.

Posted by jbc at 07:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 13, 2003

Yes, Steve Bing Is STILL a Wanker

Let's see, it's been how long since producer Steve Bing last made himself look like a horse's ass by bringing a lawsuit that ended up going against him once the facts came out? A few months, maybe? Here's the latest one, right on schedule: dueling lawsuits between Bing and actor Sean Penn. Penn claims Bing backed out on a deal to have Penn star in the film Why Men Shouldn't Marry because he (Penn) refused to lighten up on his protests against the looming U.S. war with Iraq. Bing claims that there never was a movie deal, that Penn never really meant to appear in the film, and that Penn invented this whole stifling-of-his-rights story in an effort to extort $10 million from him. Right.

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February 11, 2003

No Oscar Nominations for PJ, Serkis, Shore

Nicely illustrating their conservative cluelessness, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has failed to dish up nominations for Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, and Howard Shore in the Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Score Oscar categories, respectively. The Best Picture nomination for The Two Towers, and the smallish passle of technical-category nominations, were nice enough, I guess, but the Academy is digging themselves a pretty deep hole. Sigh. They're just going to have to do their best to dig themselves out of it with next year's The Return of the King.

Posted by jbc at 07:10 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

February 07, 2003

Oscar Ready for War

The folks at the Academy are ready for anything with this year's Oscar telecast, according to an article from Variety that has been posted at theonering.net. Favorite quotes: Though the Oscars have in fact been postponed three times before, a cancellation or significant delay is thought to be unlikely this year. At the most, insiders say, the ceremony could be delayed for two days in the case of war. A greater delay, it is thought, would wreak havoc with talent as well as network commitments worldwide. Also, A lot has to do with novelty," Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz told Daily Variety. "A war that has just broken out gets a huge amount of media attention. A war that has been dragging on for a couple of months becomes more of a back-burner story. So as with so many other things in life, timing is everything." Isn't it, though?

Posted by jbc at 12:20 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2003

Come for the Hobbits, stay for the Trolls

As many of you allready know, there are a lot of stupid people out there -- but I never realized just how bad the problem was. Staff members of "Yahoo Travel" say that lots of people are searching for vacation packages in places like "Mordor" and "Rivendell" -- not realizing they are make believe.

Posted by hossman at 11:18 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 14, 2003

Miranda Otto's Secret Wedding

Ach. Apparently the lovely Miranda Otto got married in an unpublicized ceremony on New Year's Day. Congratulations to the happy couple, wishing you every joy, yadda yadda yadda.

Posted by jbc at 01:43 PM | view/comment (7) | TrackBack (0)

January 07, 2003

ROTK Images

Now that we've got that pesky TTT thing out of the way, it's time to initiate the final countdown to ROTK. And what better way to whet your appetite than with a dozen images, posted on the Web by some calendar company, then taken down again, but still available thanks to the tireless obsessives at theonering.net. Among other goodness we've got Frodo in Shelob's lair, Eowyn radiant in the morning sun atop the walls of the Houses of Healing (or at Edoras, maybe, not that it matters; it's still Eowyn), and Denethor tasting the bitterness in the cup he mixed for himself. Yes, it's going to be a long year. Update: Hi-res versions of the some of the images now available (though not Eowyn, dammit): Aragorn, Gollum, Gandalf, Arwen, and Frodo & Sam

Posted by jbc at 08:48 AM | view/comment (11) | TrackBack (0)

December 17, 2002

Serkis Brings Gollum to Life

The Los Angeles Times, despite having a really user-hostile web site, has a really nice article this morning on Andy Serkis, the actor who portrays Gollum in TTT. Check it out, if you can stand the registration requirement (cypherpunk98/cypherpunk), pop-up ads, and assinine little DHTML "blimp" that crawls back and forth over the text you're trying to read: Putting a Human Face on 'It'. Oh, and by the way: Miranda Otto, who plays Eowyn, is 35 today. Happy birthday, Miranda!

Posted by jbc at 06:59 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2002

New Line Has Oscar Hopes for Serkis' Gollum

It looks like the Academy will get a chance to make up for their pathetic fuck-up in failing to award the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar to Walsh, Boyens, and Jackson last year (A Beautiful Mind? Hello??), by giving a Best Supporting Actor nomination (or heck; the actual statue) to Andy Serkis for his invisible-yet-destined-to-be-unforgettable portrayal of Gollum in the upcoming TTT. Which is a cool idea: that an actor could be honored for a role in which not one scrap of the actual actor ever appears on screen. Here's hoping, anyway. 26 days and counting...

Posted by jbc at 10:50 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2002

MPAA: Soderbergh Can Have Clooney's Ass AND PG-13 Rating

On appeal, the MPAA has decided that the depiction of George Clooney's bare bottom in Steven Soderbergh's upcoming film Solaris does not justify an R rating after all. CNN's version of the headline: George Clooney Butt Gets PG-13.

Posted by jbc at 07:16 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 08, 2002

TTT Tops Norway Box Office - Six Weeks Before Opening

Those Norwegians are smart cobbers. They've snapped up so many advance tickets to the as-yet-agonizingly-unreleased The Two Towers that it is the #1 film in the country, beating out all the crappy stuff currently showing in the cinemas. Bring it on!

Posted by jbc at 05:41 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2002

Hooooom Hmmmm, Treebeard...

Just because a) I can't resist posting a Lord of the Rings link that jbc missed and b) jbc has been distracted from his TT obsession by a well-dressed criminal -- I now bring you a nice picture of Treebeard courtesy of elbakin.com, what appears to be a french-language fantasy news site. Surprisingly, I actually think he looks pretty respectable.

Posted by ymatt at 09:44 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Soderbergh: The MPAA Can Have George Clooney's Butt When They Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers

Another round in the culture wars: Director Steven Soderbergh wants a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for his upcoming sci-fi film Solaris; they counter that a scene showing George Clooney's ass earns the film an R. So Soderbergh is taking his case to the public, arguing that the ratings board is employing a double standard (since women's butts don't result in R ratings). How about it, ladies? How significant is a 40-foot-wide image of George Clooney's bare bottom?

Posted by jbc at 03:54 PM | view/comment (11) | TrackBack (0)

October 27, 2002

Jackass: The Movie Debuts at #1

TSIA

Posted by jbc at 11:01 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2002

Miranda Otto TTT Poster

Prepare yourself for a long, grueling season of obsessive fanboy postings about what will become, as of December 18, the Greatest Movie of All Time. To get things going, let's take a look at this leaked Taiwanese (?) poster showing Miranda Otto as Eowyn, shall we? Sigh.

Posted by jbc at 09:45 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

October 19, 2002

Child Abuse by Movie

James Scott Bell describes seeing a 6-year-old girl brutalized (cypherpunk98/cypherpunk login required) by her parents, who had dragged her along when they went to see the movie "Red Dragon." Having seen a fair amount of this lately myself, I'm in complete agreement with him about how disturbing it is. These parents are doing this to their kids in public; who knows what they're doing to them in private.

Posted by jbc at 06:42 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 16, 2002

War on Terra Trailer Screened in Theaters

In another cool example of Your Tax Dollars At Work, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have apparently contracted with a film production company to create a four-minute movie on Operation Enduring Freedom, with the film being shown in movie-houses nationwide before the regular feature. One mom reportedly complained about her kids seeing war footage before the G-rated Veggie-Tales movie, but she just sounds like a whiner. Can't start kids too early on learning to reflexively fall into line whenever the government decides it wants to kill people overseas, is my attitude.

Posted by jbc at 03:37 PM | view/comment (6) | TrackBack (0)

June 25, 2002

TTT Trailer Available Online

from the 176-days-and-counting dept.

ymatt made fun of me for not being first with the news that you can now download the teaser trailer for The Two Towers online, so here you go. It's mostly the same footage that obsessed fanboys (*cough*) and fangirls saw already in the in-theater preview, though with additional explanatory voice-over from Cate Blanchett. So, where will you be on December 18? I know where I'll be.

Posted by jbc at 05:37 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 12, 2002

EW: The All-Digital Yoda

from the pint-sized-action-hero dept.

From the good people at Entertainment Weekly comes the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of Attack of the Clones' all-digital Yoda. The thing about this I find interesting is where the animators talk about how their first attempt, in which they went all-out for realism, was creepy-looking. Apparently they had to recreate the jerky movements and other limitations of the original Frank Oz puppet before audiences would accept the new Yoda as "real".

Posted by jbc at 03:24 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 28, 2002

Attack of the Clones Racist, Says Panel

from the in-a-reality-far,-far-away... dept.

a_stupid_box writes "I found this story via uselessjunk.com and read halfway through before I was so disgusted I had to stop. Remember, folks -- these are ADULTS pointing this stuff out. It'd be SO amazing if those who are arguing for racial equality think for two hours and 22 minutes that someone ISN'T being racist...It must be frustrating for an actor/actress (don't want to be sexist, after all) to get a part because they're the best person for it, and then have to put up with all this crap about ulterior motives of their being cast because of their skin color." Actually, I think the PC term for a gender-unknown member of the acting profession is just "actor." Otherwise, though, I agree that the charges seem pretty over-the-top.

Posted by jbc at 07:35 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 26, 2002

Paramedics Treat Sickened Filmgoers

from the dinner-and-a-movie...-and-oxygen dept.

French firefighters administered oxygen to 20 people who passed out during a screening at Cannes of Gaspar Noe's film Irreversible, which features a graphic rape scene. Two hundred fifty audience members walked out of the screening, but those who remained (and remained conscious) gave the film a 5-minute standing ovation when it ended.

Posted by jbc at 01:47 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 18, 2002

Kermode: Why I Hate Cannes

from the Hell-looks-a-lot-like-the-south-of-France dept.

From BBC film critic Mark Kermode comes this cool piece on why he doesn't do Cannes.

Posted by jbc at 05:10 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2002

The Stench That Is Attack of the Clones

from the overhyped-cinema dept.

As a fan of the original three Star Wars movies, and a vicious enemy of the putrid heap of dung that was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I am very much keeping away from the latest installment, which opened in a galaxy insufficiently far away from you sometime shortly after midnight. But if you'd like to read about it, here are a few choice Lucaslinks: a transcript of Ebert and Roeper, Salon's Stephanie Sacharek with a really delicious negative review, and, somehow missed by me last November when it first ran, another Salon piece on the Phantom Edit, in which a disgruntled fanboy improved Attack of the Clones by exactly 15%, that being the fraction of its footage he removed.

Posted by jbc at 06:35 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 13, 2002

Stephen Hunter Reviews Cameron Diaz

from the with-criticism-like-this,-who-needs-praise? dept.

Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter has written a delicious review of Cameron Diaz and her new film, The Sweetest Thing. What makes the review so much fun is the way Hunter complains about Diaz's complete lack of acting talent, while admitting that he can't look anywhere else when she's on-screen. Anyway, you shouldn't miss it. (The review, I mean. I wouldn't suggest going anywhere near the movie.)

Posted by jbc at 03:35 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2002

Spiderman Sued for Altering Billboard

from the welcome-to-the-future dept.

This is one of those stories that starts off sounding pretty boring but just gets weirder and weirder the more I think about it. As described in an article from Newsday, owners of a building in Times Square are suing Sony (backers of the upcoming Spiderman movie) because in images of Times Square that appear in the movie's trailer (and presumably in the movie itself), ads for Samsung (a Sony competitor) that were displayed on the building at the time of the filming have been airbrushed out and replaced with ads for USA Today and Cingular Wireless. The specific charges in the suit are "deceptive trade practices" and "trespass". Trespass?

Posted by jbc at 02:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Review of Two Towers Preview

from the yes,-just-the-PREVIEW dept.

The Louisville Cardinal wins some sort of award for this: A review of the 4-minute preview for The Two Towers that has been spliced onto the end of the The Fellowship of the Ring. So, um, is it December yet? Darn. How about now? Darn!

Posted by jbc at 02:08 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 10, 2002

Goldmember Rides Again

from the yeah-baby dept.

After some nasty scuffling, it appears MGM will let New Line use the name "Goldmember" for the new Austin Powers movie after all, according to an article at E! Online. Apparently the thing that tipped the scales was New Line's willingness to run trailers for Die Another Day, the upcoming Bond movie, before a certain heartbreakingly good fantasy trilogy from Peter Jackson & Co.

Posted by jbc at 04:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 24, 2002

Botox Your Pits

from the anything-for-fashion dept.

The Mrs. brought this one to my attention: As reported by Reuters (via CBS News): many celebrities preparing for the Oscar ceremonies get botox injections in their armpits. The chicken botulinum toxin apparently paralyzes the sweat glands, minimizing the risk of unsightly wetness for up to six months. A bargain at only $1,000 per treatment. So think about that while watching those acceptance speeches tonight.

Posted by jbc at 05:09 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 22, 2002

Miranda Otto as Eowyn

from the how-long-'till-December? dept.

Recently the folks at TheOneRing.Net posted the first decent photo to come out showing Miranda Otto as Eowyn, from The Two Towers, the upcoming second installment of the Lord of the Rings movie. Not surprisingly, she looks perfect; just the right blend of beauty, sorrow, and vulnerability. Sigh.

Posted by jbc at 02:20 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 18, 2002

LOTR: The Abridged Script

from the is-that-a-ring-in-your-pocket,-or-are-you-happy-to-see-me? dept.

I've been an obsessive Lord of the Rings fan for the last 25 years or so, and can't gush enough about what Peter Jackson & Co. have done with the movie, but I still got a big kick out of Rod Hilton's Lord of the Rings: The Abridged Script.

Posted by jbc at 06:10 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)