Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Talk about a film that lives up to its title...
A former White House speechwriter under the Nixon Administration, Ben Stein, tries his hands at making a documentary film. Unfortunately Benny-Boy surrounds himself with a talentless first-time director, Nathan Frankowski, and two hack screenwriters with only one previous credit between them. As a result, is it any wonder EXPELLED exhibits "no intelligence" whatsoever when it comes to any phase of motion picture production: development, pre-production, principal photography or post production? This film is so bad I barely know where to begin.
Supposedly Intelligent Design is not about Creationsim, not about Christianity and not about Religion. What it is about is impossible to decipher based on what is presented by Benny and his "pets" -- hand-picked scientists who, from what I saw, couldn't even handle the care and feeding of a seahorse in middle school. Their attempted explanation for the origin of the species was specious at best. Again, what should have one expected from someone whose biggest claim to fame is a relatively minor role in FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF? Like a ride on a ferris wheel, Herr Stein's round-and-round assortment of disjointed interviews goes nowhere.
Well, not exactly.
In what is a bigger stretch than a condom on John Holmes' willy, Herr Stein gives us what I can only describe as ill-advised scenes correlating Darwinism to Hitler's concentration camps. Call it "Stein's Kampf" if you want, but this supposed connection comes with a Holy Cost -- by now there is virtually no credibility to anything presented on screen. Even a Bible-belt Baptist will find this analogy harder to swallow than Jonah.
And it doeesn't just end with scenes of the holocaust and Nazi death camps. You see, Herr Stein goes on in his inimitable, smug, disingenuous way to compare not only Darwin to Hitler but to Stalin and Lennon as well. As in John Lennon, believe it or not.
I suppose an argument can be made that nature is so incredibly complex that it is impossible to have it happen randomly and, therefore, there must have been a creator of some kind. This creator, I've been told, could have been anything of intelligence, including aliens landing on earth. Then again, who/what created the creator? These are difficult questions, indeed. The one answer we can come away with in watching EXPELLED is that the arguments for Intelligent Design are way beyond the capability of being articulated by one Mr. Ben Stein. Maybe Alan Shore could do the trick. Until then, the only "intelligent design" I know of comes from Ron Popeil and his creations at Ronco.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Review by Jerry L. Nelson
As a small child back in the fifties I always marveled at how far away certain places were. It took days for my parents to drive us to my Aunt’s house for Christmas Eve, or at least it seemed like it even though we were only about forty miles away in reality. The Saturday morning trips during the summer to my Grandmother’s house in San Antonio to mow her lawn were an all day affair…just getting there. And the town of Bulverde (was there a real town or was it just some place on a map?)…Fuhgeddaboutit. Bulverde, or as the locals would say, BulWerde, was some place way far away…on the other side of the world. For that reason my parents never took me there and never went there themselves.
Thanks to the current trend of invading the hill country and depleting the Edwards Aquifer to nothing more than a trickle in Landa Park in New Braunfels, Bulverde now boasts subdivision after subdivision of multi-acre ranchettes brimming over with wannabe Texans. But I digress.
With growth come people. With people comes the need for places to dine out. Bulverde, being on the outer edge of the north side of San Antonio, has experienced phenomenal growth over recent years. Unfortunately, the dining options have not kept up in comparable numbers…but those numbers are gradually growing with the recent opening of Mike’s in the Village located on Bulverde Road just west of U.S. 281…in what area residents call "The Village."
Mike Romano came to this area from New Orleans pre-Katrina and had a successful catering business for a number of years before he decided to venture into the world of restaurant ownership…hence, Mike’s in the Village, his first stand-alone effort.
Mike stopped by Friend’s and my table on a recent lunch excursion to his newly opened effort. He’s a likable chap and I hope he succeeds because I’m selfish…I like to eat and, for the most part, his fare was quality. Friend started things off with a choice of the Tortilla Soup for an appetizer (does everyone serve Tortilla Soup?). While not “blow your socks off," it was adequate. Friend commented it had just a hint of a “Sherry” taste to it…certainly a unique twist to what has become a standard in the area.
Our comely sever, Melissa, presented our entrees…Friend’s was Fried Catfish while I went for the Chili Relleno…not because I can’t live without Chili Rellenos, but more because of the description on the menu. It was described as being covered in Filo dough rather than battered and deep fried and the Poblano pepper was stuffed, yes, stuffed, not just filled, with a meat and multiple cheese mixture…something you don’t find too often. Most Poblanos are merely cheese filled and remind me of overgrown “poppers”.
The only complaint Friend had was relating to the size of his serving. He felt two planks of fish would have been more adequate. He commented on this to “Mrs.” Mike and was assured it would be taken under consideration. His side of fries (which should have been homemade onion rings) were fresh cut, not frozen, and very close to genuine pomme frites…just a bit overly crisp.
My Chili Relleno was incredible…no fried batter to obscure the taste of the pepper, rather a thin layer of Filo dough placed over the pepper and baked. The flavor of the pepper was sweet and bitter at the same time…a wonderful combination…plus, it had been seeded, allowing one to eat more of it. And the filling was just that, filling…and good. It came with black beans topped with, as Mike described it, a salsa pico, which helped the beans go down a bit easier. Very tasty. We washed all of this down with two different wines…Friend had a Cabernet Sauvignon, once again an establishment not having his first choice, and I swilled down an Argentine imitation of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called UMA. Where was Letterman when you needed him?
What’s a good lunch without dessert? The lunch menu listed three options for us…bread pudding, key lime pie and the seemingly traditional crème brulee. Unfortunately, the bread pudding was still in the oven so we asked for one each of the remaining two. Friend went for the key lime and I took on the crème brulee. Now understand, I make a pretty respectable brulee myself, so I was going into this with a bit of an advantage over Mike…and, unfortunately, the first one I was served was less than good. The caramelized sugar topping was not…it was extremely grainy and not crunchy at all…and the custard was broken and had the texture of small grain cottage cheese due to the fact it was either cooked at too hot a temperature (optimum is 325 degrees) or it was left in the oven too long…both will do it. The second one I was served was no better. Friend’s comment about his key lime pie was it was a bit too "limey" giving it a high “pucker quotient”. I sampled it and must disagree. I thought it was perfect…but then, I guess that’s what makes a horse race. Next time I’ll have the bread pudding. It has to be great…after all Mike’s from Naw’lins.
The score for Bulverde dining now stands at five reviews and four recommendations. Interestingly, the one place I would not recommend, I have heard, has recently closed. I guess there is some justice after all. Who woulda thunk it fifty years ago when this place was on the other side of the world?
Thursday, April 3, 2008
BARBARELLA is more than a tale of two titties.
With rich guys like Elliott Spitzer and Max Mosley having such well-publicized, decadent fun the staff at Needtovent decided we needed to find something to lift our spirits as well. With severly limited funds the best we could afford was a bowl of Jiffy Pop, a bottle of cheap tequila and a rented DVD of BARBARELLA, the 1968 cult-classic adaptation of Jean-Claude Forest's risque comic book starring Hanoi Jane before she become a McCain in the ass.
One thing is certain, Lady Jayne Semour Fonda sure made us all want to "see more."
Dildano: "Are you typical of Earth women?"
Barbarella: "I'm about average."
If only this were true. Clearly the world would be a far more attractive place, especially when one realizes that the fetching wench parading on screen in a fabulous series of revealing costumes was already thirty-one years old when this film was made.
Playing a sexy, yet innocent space-age heroine in the year 40,000 A.D., Jane gets herself into a never-ending array of highly unusual situations. Luckily, none of these requires her to wear much clothing. During her journey to the city of Sogo (clearly a reference to Sodom and Gomorra), Jane meets, among others, Dr. Ping (Marcel Marceau), Pygar, a blind angel (John Phillip Law), an evil queen (the lovely Anita Pallenberg) and Durand-Durand, a mad scientist (Milo O'Shea) whose name served as the inspirational source for the 1980's mega-successful music group Duran Duran (who dropped the hyphen and a "D" at the end for some unknown reason).
One of the most interesting concepts found in the film is the idea that sex in the future is performed through the consumption of a drug while simply holding hands -- the good old fashioned way being deemed too "inefficient" by the fascist followers of the Protestant Work Ethic. Besides, there's a whole lot of profit in sex pills for the drug companies and they have extremely powerful lobbyists. Wait -- did I say something about the "future?" Seems to me the future is already here to an alarming degree.
This film, flawed as it might be, has a lot of highlights that make watching it a guilty pleasure. Among these:
The opening credits where vivacious Jane does a striptease in zero gravity.
The scene where semi-nude women sit around a hookah inhaling "Essence of Man" -- which is revealed to be a fine-looking fellow floating in a giant fish bowl.
The overall art direction which is so cheesy it had to come from Wisconsin -- a spaceship constructed of shag carpeting being just one example.
A torture machine that "orgasms" its victims to death. Hey, I wonder if Howard Stern has had this device on his show yet.
(Every time I see this photo I cannot help but be reminded of the famous Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction")
Here's the bottom line -- BARBARELLA remains saucy, naughty and bawdy forty years after it was originally released. It's an hour and a half of hallucinatory hi-jinks and softcore titillation. One could do far worse; the soon-to-be-released SPEED RACER being just one example that comes to mind.
(If your persuasions lean towards more serious decadence, then we recommend THE NIGHT PORTER. Talk about room service!)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
"He was deeply in love. When she spoke he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up."
This may not actually be one of the scene descriptions in the screenplay for the proposed CASABLANCA remake, but we bet it is close to being accurate -- damn accurate.
Yes, the entire staff at Needtovent must hereby express its saeva indignatio at the thought of a CASABLANCA remake regardless of who might be involved in the production. But to add insult to injury, we understand that producers are intending to cast Madonna in the role Ingrid Bergman so beautifully portrayed in the original. Madonna for cryin' out loud; is nothing sacred? Makes one wonder who would play opposite her -- perhaps Pee Wee Herman is available.
The project has not yet been formally announced, but loyal readers of Needtovent have been forewarned. Please feel free to leave any comments that come to mind.
For once, we are speechless...