Monday, November 27, 2006
"His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free."
Obviously there is bad writing.
"Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze."
And there is really bad writing.
And, occasionally, there is good writing.
Case in point is STRANGER THAN FICTION, the new Will Ferrell film that is literally blessed with a terrific cast: especially Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Linda Hunt and Queen Latifah. However, it is the screenplay that is the star of this picture. Shot entirely in the Windy City, STRANGER THAN FICTION is a breezy comedy for English majors and anyone else who enjoys a work of literature that is highly creative and cleverly written. In fact, Zach Helm's poignant and insightful screenplay may possibly land him an Oscar nomination this coming year.
Now who would have thought that the words "Academy Award" and "Will Ferrell" would ever appear in the same paragraph?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
No friends and neighbors, it isn't time (yet) to gather 'round the river so we can present Jesus with his very own PlayStation 3 (or whatever the fine folks at nearby Faithville feel is appropriate).
Instead, this glorious headline from MSN's UK correspondent, Brian Laban, announces the arrival of the second-generation MINI making its first public appearance. Just 4 1/2 years after the intitial re-introduction of this British classic, the fun-loving fellows at MINI simply couldn't resist making an already grand vehicle even more grand. As a result, sales are expected to continue to exceed all predictions for years to come. (The MINI plant in Oxford has never been able to keep up with the demand, consistently running at double the original estimates).
Although the changes are visually subtle, this totally new MINI is completely redesigned; in fact, every external body panel and every external detail except the MINI badge has been changed. With a more powerful, now turbocharged engine, the MINI S model is even quicker and more fun to drive than ever. Holy jumpin' Jehosaphat!
Capable of a top speed of 140 mph, the good folks at MINI have even installed "the largest speedometer dial since Flash Gordon." Trust me, if you take one of these babies for a test drive, you'll know why...
Speaking of things large and small, and now turning from the sublime to the ridiculous, I couldn't help but notice recently the horrendously enormous size of Terrell Owens' yapper. Could there possibly be a bigger human orifice anywhere? Probably not. What I do know is that the last time anyone saw a mouth this big Jonah disappeared.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
"Angelina Jolie wearing an eye patch! Scratch off #43 on my 'Things I Really Hope To See Jolie Do Before I Die' list." Keith Simanton, Reviewer for imdb.com
Some dreams do come true. (This was #67 on my list...)
Unfortunately, SKY CAPTAIN is pretty much eye candy and nothing more. Writer/Director Kerry Conran and his art department do a fantastic job of giving us a stunning, futuristic world set in the year 1939. From a purely visual point of view there's flash and panache galore. As for a story, or any semblance thereof, a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet is better written and more entertaining.
The cast for this fluffy fantasy is certainly appealing. Jude Law, as Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan, possesses the look and the swagger of a P-40 fighter pilot par excellence. Gwyneth Paltrow plays perky, plucky Polly Perkins to perfection. Giovanni Ribisi steals his scenes as Dex Dearborn, Sky Captain's know-everything, do-everything side kick. The aforementioned Angelina Jolie (as Captain Franky Cook) elevates the level of fantasy as only black leather and a riding crop can do. And Sir Laurence Olivier even comes back from the grave to play the evil Dr. Totenkopf. Although dead and buried since 1989, he makes a brief appearance thanks to filched footage from previous films. He is by no means the only thing that isn't real.
SKY CAPTAIN was shot almost entirely on a sound stage in front of a blue screen. In fact, just about everything you see (except for Polly's office and the principal actors) was computer generated in keeping with the genesis of this film, a six minute short Mr. Conran produced on his very own Apple computer.
Let's give credit where credit is due. Mr. Conran and his Big Mac aimed high; this tale of an eponymous mercenary wants to be the next RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and it often has the right look. Unfortunately, this "world of tomorrow" just doesn't have enough substance, Jolie's jollies notwithstanding.
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
"The biggest problem we face in this country is political correctness. Everyone's being so damn careful not to offend anyone; it's a bunch of crap."
"BORAT! is nothing but a totally offensive piece of crap. I'm not going to waste my money."
The above two quotes were heard recently at lunch -- within minutes of one another. Yes, they were spoken by the same individual.
As Borat might say, some people could use a little "cultural learnings for make benefit glorious tolerance among crackers." One can only hope.
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, BORAT! is essentially a road movie. As far from ROAD TO RIO or ROAD TO ZANZIBAR as one can possibly get, the road taken here is populated with polemic potholes, ranging from anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, racism, cultural elitism and religious fervor. Heady stuff, indeed, yet I cannot help but believe that even Bob Hope and Bing Crosby would appreciate this journey --- because while Borat Sagdiyev entertains, Sacha Baron Cohen enlightens.
Make no mistake. The improvised interactions are as subversive as they are brilliant, as inflamatory as they are informative. There's absolutely no attempt at whitewashing anything. This is NOT 20 Mule Team Borat; this is full frontal and disturbing filmmaking. And it's funny -- snarf running down the nostril funny. The kind of "funny" best shared with an audience. (At my early Monday afternoon matinee the theater was one-third full, and the biggest surprise was that I was younger than most of those in attendance. The theater reverberated with laughter. Who woulda thunk?)
My recommendation is to go see for yourself why BORAT!CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN is a box-office hit. Go on, just do it.
(Here's one hint: It has nothing to do with the fact that the title is the second longest in American cinema history -- DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB -- remains the record holder by one word).
True, you may find yourself offended a time or two. So what? Perhaps David Edwards of the Daily Mirror said it best: "The least politically-correct film since THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL."
Just what America needs -- or so I've been told.
Monday, November 6, 2006
Needtovent.com is pleased to announce the worldwide release of FALSE RIVER, an independently financed motion picture produced by Robert A. Nowotny. Although we were extremely tempted to publish our own comments on behalf of this film we ultimately decided that doing so would not be kosher. Instead, we bring you the kind words from esteemed author and critic Ed Callaway, whose review of FALSE RIVER is the first to be published anywhere...
by Ed Callaway
Jim Mix, a young, bewildered man battling his own personal demons, has escaped with two other "lunatics" from Science Hill Hospital. His metaphorical journey catapults him into a landscape that is as dehumanized and deathly as any recently seen in cinema.
The slippage of sanity is the judgement of a dark god, and man is always working feverishly to indict himself. The town of False River resonates with a banality and corruption that delineates the individual from his greater self, always lying in wait to destroy such an Everyman as Jim Mix.
Jim is prey. The predatory nature of the environment stalking him is relentless. In this milieu of madness, a vastly entertaining story is splashed across a canvass drawn so tight it nearly vibrates. With originality and wit, FALSE RIVER telescopes the human condition in a way that seizes the viewer with a grip that can still be felt long after the film ends. There is murder here, and deceit, caustic humor and callous regard for that which makes us most human. And there is love.
Jim Mix flits between light and darkness as easily as a butterfly, wary yet unaware, in this surrealistic madhouse of the rural South. For this is home to him, and he comes to realize all too quickly that he has no home. He moves shakily along the precipice that is his destiny. Headache pain wracks him, sledgehammer blows against his brain. Haunted by the tragic memory of his parents' death in a car crash, Jim also holds onto the memory of his love for his girlfriend, Judy Ann Moody. A filament of meaning and hope, something to grip tightly as his fragile mind must cope with a murder for which he has been framed as well as the advances of an enigmatic young local woman who sucks him into yet another inner orbit of this ongoing restructuring of reality, the swirling vortex that is False River.
Inside this funhouse mirror stalks one Dick Crockett, clownish and malignant, the demonic in juxtaposition with the angelic: the Lunatic, Charles.
Charles is a lightning rod of hope, peace, and ultimately, transcendence. A shattered smile creases his face, and his misty dreams spill forth to unwitting ears. He and Jim, together in the mental hospital and now on the outside together, "passing ships" as Charles describes them, are a dyad born of love and remembrance. They share the memory of a former life, a sane and safe place that is surely achievable again. Ripped by psychic and emotional pain, Charles knows he has killed. His bonding with Jim, in a desperate attempt to ameliorate his condition at the eleventh hour, serves as a bridge to redemption, an escape from the pain that rips them both.
We meet Jim on the road, briefly accompanied by a dimwit killer named Pokey. Jim's brutal isolation does not bury him, for he still seeks to understand those forces to which he can only react; his struggle is to keep the spirit intact. In this quest he finds, in the lunatic Charles, a scarecrow-thin exposed nerve, a symbolic representation of humanity and salvation. Charles is a highwire artist of the human spirit, at war with despair, and the breaking of his mind has not yet forced him to relinquish his soul. But in the midst of comic evil and the brain-numbing reality of environmental pollution and floor wax and bean dip that comprises an artery of False River, this is a time of suffering for Jim and his spiritual compatriot and guide Charles, an ultimate test of survival forged in blood and madness, and survival is less important than restoration of the heart.
Under its slippery surface, FALSE RIVER is a transformative journey of mythical proportions, ultimately life-affirming. It is played against a backdrop of small-town American reality that is calibrated to stasis and fine-tuned to destruction. The ironic richness of this stark contrast opens possibilities to the viewer that are not readily available in any form, a small gemstone glittering in the sunlight.
If you are among the curious and foolhardy you can acquire your very own DVD copy of FALSE RIVER at:
http://singahe.com/falseriver.html ---- this should take you directly to the ordering page for FALSE RIVER
(If the website's main page appears, simply click on "New Releases 2006." FALSE RIVER is the sixth film listed from the top in the middle column)
With the amazingly low price of $9.98 (plus $3.00 shipping) you'll find that FALSE RIVER will make a glorious addition to your collection of cinematic classics. In addition, these DVDs also make terrific stocking stuffers, reasonably decent trivets and, because they are nice and shiny, they will entertain your retarded uncle for hours on end.