Friday, September 26, 2008
Oregon State 27, U$C 21
What a game!
Having lost to lowly Stanford (arguably the worst team in the PAC 10) and then being routed 45-14 by Joe Pa's Nittany Lions, it seemed impossible to even imagine that 25-point underdog Oregon State could possibly beat the mighty Southern Cal Trojans and their cocky coach, Mr. Red Top himself, the egotistical Pete Carroll.
But beat them they did.
Whizz kid Jacquizz Rodgers (from Lamar Consolidated High School), a 193-pound diminutive freshman running back, deflated Pretty Pete's Prophylactics by squirming through holes pricked wide apart by his surging offensive line.
The last time OSU knocked up a Number One Ranked Team it was 41 years ago (1967) when they deflated the O. J. Simpson-led Trojans. This was back when Orenthal (aka "The Juice") was a gridiron great, not a murderer. But that's another story for another time and place.
For now -- it is time for all champions of what is right and just to rejoice.
Will the Boomer Sooners be next? (Could anyone Stoop so low? I say yes...)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"Speaking of ballroom, these pants are very, very tight."
The Seventh Edition of DANCING WITH THE STARS is now upon us and for most red-blooded American males this marks the beginning of another Season of Joy that might only be rivaled by the opening of Deer Season, Baseball Season, Bowl Season (the BCS notwithstanding) and, of course, "March Madness." Who needs to pay extra for The Playboy Channel or XTSY when ABC will telecast something this stimulating for the cost of basic cable? Yes, pants will get tight, glad I wear boxers...
The above-quoted Jeffrey Ross, aka "Roastmaster General," is one of thirteen "celebrities" vying for the coveted Mirrored Ball and lasting fame, if not fortune. Mr. Ross is considered to be the "Meanest Man In Comedy" -- a title that might be appropriate only because Triumph the Insult Dog is a canine and Lisa Lampanelli is, well, a different kind of dog. Still, Ross does have at least a modest following as do all of the other "celebrities" to one degree or another. And speaking of "degrees," what does it matter when every one of the pairings has at least one super hot partner?
Besides Ross, this year's celebrity line-up includes:
Lance Bass -- a member of the pop group NSYNC
Toni Braxton -- a six-time Grammy Winner
Brooke Burk -- regularly ranked as one of the sexiest women alive, even after four children
Susan Lucci -- "the most famous face in daytime television" -- she will be appearing in her 10,000th episode of ALL MY CHILDREN soon
Rocco DiSpirito -- the celebrity chef and cookbook author
Maurice Greene -- two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner
Kim Kardashian -- last year she was selected as "Rear of the Year" -- honest
Cloris Leachman -- actress with 9 Emmys, one Golden Globe and one Academy Award (she's 82 and the oldest celebrity by far, yet she's not afraid to use a little cleavage to improve her score!)
Cody Linley -- the youngest celebrity ever to compete on the show -- age 18 -- plays Jake Ryan on the Disney show HANNAH MONTANA
Misty May-Treanor -- two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner (volleyball)
Ted McGintey -- a rather obscure actor whose most interesting credits include roles in REVENGE OF THE NERDS and MARRIED WITH CHILDREN
Warren Sapp -- 13-year NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders -- clearly the heaviest of all contestants to date
And then there are the professional dancers who never cease to amaze, both with their feet and, for the females especially, for their tans. Among our favorites are Julianne Hough, Cheryl Burke, Tony Dovolani, Edyta Sliwinska, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and the fiesty, hard-luck...
...Karina Smirnoff. Can you believe Smirnoff has a Law Degree from Fordham University? I say get out the vodka and lets slap a lawsuit on someone!
Keeping things rolling along at a comfortable pace is the quick-witted quipster Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris, the beguiling broad who helps shoulder the hosting duties (pun intended -- do you think she's from Chicago?) And last, but not least, there's the esteemed Panel of Judges -- Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, a three-some as zany as the Nairobi Trio. Put these ingredients together and you have a stylish, slightly salacious smorgasbord sure to satisfy couch potatoes from Idaho to Istanbul.
DANCING WITH THE STARS -- exposing more heavenly bodies than anything this side of Andromeda, or even Rick's Cabaret...
(Thanks go to L-Cubed DWTS commentator extraordinaire Lynda L. whose unique insight and overnight overviews provided some of the information used in this Needtovent posting. We feel extremely lucky to be among the dozen or so recipients of these proprietary and highly exclusive e-mails -- there's not been a more notorious or secretive VIP newsletter since Dennis Franchione's infamous Aggieland gaucherie, yet L-Cubed complies with all applicable NCAA rules and regulations! Keep 'em coming Lynda L.)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Echelon Studios is a dynamic motion picture distribution company with a large and varied slate of films that are available worldwide on DVD. Among these is a compilation of six distinctly unique short films that have been carefully selected to provide "A purrfect time to spend with your cat!"
Ranging from nine minutes to twenty-six minutes in length, these independently produced films have been brought together on the first SHORTS FOR CATS DVD. Be advised, these short films are not about cats in any way. If they have anthing in common, they are all enjoyable to one degree or another and they are all worthy of representing those who devote their energy and their creativity within this overlooked but highly creative sub-genre. Perhaps Morris the Cat says it best, "Who me? Finicky? You betcha!" And the executives at Echelon were certainly that -- finicky -- in their choices.
Not surprisingly, these six offerings are not equal to one another -- as the old Sears Catalog would say, here's "The Good," "The Better" and "The Best."
THE GOOD ---
DON'T LEAVE ME is the last of the six films and it's placement is most appropriate. This 15-minute psychological drama Written, Produced and Directed by Lyndon Ives has a twist ending I will not give away. The central theme of whether or not humans (women especially) can totally adapt to domestication is both intriguing and thought-provoking. Animal instincts and predatory desires are within us all, that's for sure, and the character played by Amber Coombs comes close to making a memorable statement. But, unfortunately, DON'T LEAVE ME fails to fully deliver on this ambitious premise. Perhaps with a bit more filmmaking experience Ives can succeed in what he has set out to do, but for now the best that can be said is, "close but no cigar."
"Dogs have owners. Cats have staff."
The other film that just barely misses the mark is THE FIGHT, by Nicholas T. Coming in at 22 minutes, THE FIGHT starts off with a bang. Cody Jones and Robynn O. Brooks exhibit strong and endearing on-screen chemistry as husband and wife during the first half of the film. Unfortunately, when the actual fight is staged between Jones and a Russian "ringer" (Segel Shisov), the momentum comes to a halt. A "no holds barred" extreme fight plays on screen as nothing short of lame. While the ending is predictable and the fight sequences lack any "punch," the winning performances of Jones and Brooks make this a short worth watching.
THE BETTER ---
DUEL is an exceptionally well-produced short that has been selected for screening at five divergent film festivals, winning Best Picture at the Hermosa Shorts event. These accolades are well deserved. The lush cinematography adds elegance to this intriguing tale of two killers who find themselves in an isolated tavern that is located in an uncertain time and place. This uncertainty regarding the "where" and the "when" enhances the impact of the eventual duel between Matthew Rimmer and Jonathan Fraser, two actors who play their roles to perfection, and there's no doubt that Director Dominic Antonio Cerniglio has a bright future based on this highly polished, 26-minute, near classic cinematic effort.
"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten this."
Coming in at a mere 9 minutes, THE BIG BREAK features a toothpick-challenged, inept hitman (Luca Costa) and an aspiring actress (Pia Shah) who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Director Matthew Hals gets the most out of Costa, a natural when it comes to comedic timing and nuance. He literally steals the movie and, maybe, the heart of Shah as he "hits" on the vulnerable actress. Personally, I hope he does.
THE BEST ---
Selected for screening at 28 international film festivals including Moondance, Vail, Edmonton and Crested Butte, and winner of the Gold Award for Best Live Action Film at Worldfest-Houston, NO MENUS PLEASE is sure to please any viewer -- human and feline alike. Richard Chang is nothing short of being today's "Great Stone Face." With a dead-pan expression as stoic and mournful as the great Buster Keaton, Chang engages in a small menu war which quickly escalates to what can only be described as all-out pamphlet rage. Bet you didn't realize such a thing was possible. Writer/Director Edward Shieh keeps the fun moving along with a deft hand resulting in a sly and totally enjoyable comedy.
Perhaps the best of the best, LITTLE WINGS, Written and Directed by Morgan Rhodes, is a certified cinematic gem. With a running time of only 15 minutes, this official selection for the 2007 Cannes Film Festival tackles a subject matter -- child abuse -- that is considered taboo by many. Not since Chris Rea's "Tell Me There's A Heaven" on THE ROAD TO HELL album have I been so emotionally touched. Joseph Castanon is outstanding as the young boy, while Ron Canada headlines a fabulous cast which includes Kelly Ann Ford and Robert Gantzos. If none of the other films had any merit whatsoever (and they all do), then SHORTS FOR CATS would still be worth every penny. I'm told that Ms. Rhodes is working on a feature-length version of LITTLE WINGS; here's hoping she succeeds.
"Sufferin' succatash!" As you can see, there's clearly something beside the fishbowl for your cat to watch now that SHORTS FOR CATS is available through Echelon Studios and Singa Home Entertainment. To order a DVD go to www.singahe.com. The current price is $9.98.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
"But man does not live by bread alone. For his material needs -- an infant variety. For his spiritual needs -- a variety of the infinite."
There are all kinds of religions on God's Green Earth -- but in England, apparently, it is the Anglican Church that generally prevails. Likwise, there are all kinds of motion pictures, and in America, at least, it is the "feel good/happy ending" movie that has long been the most popular. Among the filmmakers who cater to this particular American cinematic style, none equal the incomparable Frank Capra, whose films include IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN.
Director Capra meet Directors John and Roy Boulting.
What could easily have been called REV. SMALLWOOD GOES TO ORBISTON PARVA or IT'S NOT A WONDERFUL LIFE, this 1963 film starring Peter Sellers is a biting satire on established religion, corporate greed, do-good mentality, and societal mores that insure the self-perceived elite control the not-so-noble downtrodden. Everyone on and off screen is skewered by these socially conscious twin brothers making the Boultings the "Rapiers of Ridicule."
"And lying there on the deck of Lord Batley's yacht with the sun pouring down on my naked body, I suddenly realized how much easier it is for the rich to live that truly simple life our Lord advocated."
(The Archdeacon to other church leaders)
Make no mistake, there is no hopeful message here. With one exception, until the arrival of Reverend John Smallwood (Sellers), the quaint village of Orbiston Parva is inhabited by uncaring, self-centered snobs who profess to be righteous and religious while their deeds can only be described as cruel, uncaring, greedy and self-absorbed. If this were Capra, the Not-So-Right Reverend Smallwood would make a difference through his living by the words of scripture and through his unwillingness to make compromises to the prevailing social fixation on class and wealth and status.
I mentioned an exception to the population of Orbiston Parva, and what an exception this is. The Smith's are every uppercrust's nightmare. This dysfunctional family of Gypsies is huge in number, the parents are unmarried, the children are totally undisciplined and all, without exception, are coarse, crude, rude and conniving. In other words, your typical Canyon Lake lowlifes.
This is a perfect set-up for a Capra film -- but in HEAVENS ABOVE! not only does government and the wealthy not give a damn but the poor are portrayed as lazy, manipulative and truly unworthy. In fact, Rev. Smallwood's single-minded pursuit of goodness and Godliness actually destroys the town when the best of intentions all backfire and even the outcasts fail to change or repent -- in fact, every kernel of standard Capra-corn gets the Hell popped out of it. For a "comedy" this is awfully damn dark.
"Again? Oh dear...I sometimes wish the boy scout movement had never been thought of."
(Lady Despard's lawyer speaking into the telephone)
Dark, maybe, but HEAVENS ABOVE! is awfully damn funny as well.
Case in point -- the expression on the faces of a railcar full of clerics when the conductor announces that "the last supper" is being served in the dining car is absolutely hilarious. Another example is the product the Orbiston Parva (I just love the name of this fictitious town) factory churns out -- Tranquilax pills described as "The Three-In-One Restorative ... A Sedative, A Stimulant, A Laxative." That's a pretty powerful potion, but then again the Anglican Church has it's very own Three-In-One, "The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost." Does Big Business trump the Big Guy Above in the Battle of the Trifecta? Of course it does, at least in this Gospel according to the Boultings.
"Business Needs Profits Not Prophets."
(Sign seen during mob scene)
Sellers is surrounded by an excellent cast, including the fabulous Brock Peters who was just coming off his memorable role in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Cecil Parker as Archdean Aspinall, Idabel Jeans as Lady Despard, Bernard Miles as Simpson and Ian Carmichael as The Other Smallwood are also most enjoyable to watch. With crisp, virtually flawless editing providing a non-stop series of humorous interconnected scenes enhanced by gorgeous black & white cinematography, and with more than two dozen savage, satirical snarf-producing lines of dialogue and a surprise ending that is absolutely out of this world, here's what Snagglepuss would say:
"Heavens to murgatroid! You gotta see HEAVENS ABOVE!"
We at Needtovent concur wholeheartedly.
HEAVENS ALONE! is available on DVD through Amazon.com. It is also one of six British comedies included in "The Peter Sellers Collection" DVD.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Two Films -- One Review -- No Holds Barred
There are probably over one hundred movie review websites on the internet. Some are extremely insightful and entertaining -- need I mention Neetovent.com? Most, however, are fairly weak efforts that aren't exactly a waste of time, but they rarely deliver anything the reader probably doesn't already know. And then there's MOVIE SMACKDOWN! which promises "more fun, more value, more suspense."
What makes Movie Smackdown! unique is the structure created by Bryce Zabel, the website's Founder and Editor. You see, every movie review is a comparison between two motion pictures which share some kind of similarity. One is a current release that is still playing in theaters. The other is an older film that must be available on DVD or via some other non-theatrical method of distribution. The comparison is much like a Championship Fight and it is broken down into these sections:
* THE SMACKDOWN. This section explains why these two particular films are being put in competition against each other.
* THE CHALLENGER. This is the new film, the one that has just been released in theaters.
* THE DEFENDING CHAMPION. This is the earlier (generally successful) motion picture that the newly-distributed film is compared to.
* THE SCORECARD. This is the section where each film's strengths and/or weaknesses are compared and analyzed.
* THE DECISION. A winner is always declared; there are no ties allowed.
Another unique feature is that the reviews are not written by one single individual -- Zabel's Stable of reviewers is a panoply of pundits, a cadre of seventeen highly capable critics as diverse as any to be found anywhere. And, unlike other websites, a newly released motion picture might be covered more than once, being pitted against a different "Challenger" by different critics. This is usually done on opening weekend, but always while the new film is still in theaters. And, on occasion, a Smackdown! may be posted after a special preview screening -- thus appearing on-line prior to the film's arrival at the local cinemaplex and prior to it being covered on other websites and/or blogs.
As the Ronco TV ads declare, "Wait, there's more!" One additional proprietary feature at Movie Smackdown! is the inclusion of what Zabel calls a "Comix" for each film being reviewed. Actual studio publicity stills are modified and the end results are always amusing. There's even a section where you can access a slide show of all the Comix that have appeared to date. No other movie review website has anything like this.
Movies mano y mano -- it doesn't get better than this...