TNT + NBA = Whore!

Is anyone else annoyed at the combo movie/basketball ads showing on TNT during playoff games? Not only are they lame tie-ins for the movies, they’re super lame promos for playoff basketball, which really doesn’t need a whole lot of help.\
And as an added bonus, they’re some of the most forced, weak and painful stretched metaphors for the playoffs I’ve ever seen. They’re so bad they make Bill Walton’s frequent hyperbole and crap pontificating seem almost palatable.\
TNT, come on. Charles Barkley + Jeremy Irons + Crusades + Detroit != Compelling Advertising. Get a clue.

Oscars Impressions (Cuz Everyone Else Is Doing It)

I think the Academy should make a new rule: the music starts playing when the lawyers get thanked. Nothing good ever comes after the lawyers get thanked. Really. The same could be said about publicists. Nothing against either profession, but after an award winner’s gone through family, the director, co-stars, producer and studio it all starts to get sketchy and people stammer, trying to make sure they go through the litany of people who had some effect on their career. Send them flowers.\
And is it just me, or is Chris Rock the best host the Oscars have ever had? He’s not overly reverential and says a lot of the stuff we’re all thinking. And Jamie Foxx? He wanted this so bad. You could see it on his face while Charlise Theron was reading the names. His speech was so much better than the one at the Golden Globes. The bit about his grandmother was great.\
And wow, the show tonight is really moving. I skipped an hour to watch Carnivale (I mean, didn’t you?!), but it’s moving right along. We have what, two awards left?\
Thank You and Goodnight!

From One Nerd to Another

Battlestar Galactica is coming back. Next week, they’re playing it on NBC, and on Sci-Fi. As a nerd who grew up as a huge Battlestar fan, PLEASE watch it. If you don’t watch it, at least TiVo it. Consider it a personal favor to me. I’ve seen the first five episodes (thank you, SkyOne and BitTorrent) of the new series, and it’s awesome (or, as Napoleon would say, sweet). It’s very well made, is a lot of fun, and seeing those Vipers again is like being seven all over again.\
If we support good sci-fi, the networks will make more of it. The last great sci-fi show to be on a regular network, Firefly, died too soon. Let’s not let the same thing happen to this one (and if anyone wants to come over next week, the Battlestar mini-series should show up – I missed it the first time it was on because I was out of the country).\
I’m begging you. Please watch it or TiVo it. Come on, for me?

What I Wish I’d Written About F9/11

Steven Johnson puts it better than I did:

What the film makes clear — without ever coming out and saying it — is that for those victims destroyed and dismembered, the horror was just as terrifying and brutal as what happened here on 9/11. The motives behind the violence were different, of course, and in fact they were better. But the motives behind the violence don’t matter when the bombs are dropping on your family.

This is exactly why I needed to see the movie, and think other people should too. I agree with the rest of his observations about the movie. The first paragraph especially mirrors my disappointment in parts of the movie.

As uneven as it was, it was still my first exposure to the real cost of the war. If you can get some idea of the price our soldiers, the people of Iraq and the other civilians over there, are paying for our attempt at “liberating” Iraq, then don’t go see the movie. But, we all need to let sink in the fact that more than 60,000 people have been killed and wounded; whole families have been lost or torn apart, and countless lives have been destroyed. We may never know how many, but all the families that have lost a father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter are never going to be the same, no matter where they live. Those people lost will never fulfill their potential.

To quote Mr. Johnson:

To that I say: if we’re not grownup enough as a nation to confront these questions and still “support our troops”, then we’re not grownup enough to be starting elective wars in the first place.

Fahrenheit 9/11

I went and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Friday, in an absolutely packed theater. I have mixed feelings about the movie. Right after it was over, I loved it. Then, after I thought about it, the doubts started creeping in. There are parts of this movie that could convince anyone, no matter how much they love the President, that going into Iraq wasn’t worth it. Unfortunately, there are other parts of the movie – the ones you’ve been hearing about from the right-leaning commentators – that will deflate the impact of the last third of the movie.

The stuff about the Carlyle Group and the Bushes doesn’t really matter in the long run, does it? It’s interesting, and I hope people go track down the source information. But, there wasn’t enough time in the movie to go into all of it. It also doesn’t advance the emotional meat of the movie.

The stuff at the beginning about the 2000 election was great, and done with a real sense of humor that belied the seriousness of the charges leveled. It was a great way to open the movie, even though the section that came after it was a bit uneven.

The last half of the movie was what really affected me. I had posted Thursday about the real price of the war. The numbers blew me away, but seeing the images in the movie just cemented it for me. While many on the Right will have a problem with the happy pictures of Baghdad in March of 2003, those scenes weren’t staged. Yes, Saddam was horrible, and horrible things happened, but the images were of average Iraqis living their average Iraqi lives. The images of the “collateral” damage of the war that came after that were just as real. Those things really happened. Those children were injured, along with thousands of their countrymen. That old woman really lost her family, and really said those things. It wasn’t staged, and the numbers aren’t fake. Someone said to me this morning that the movie fails because it doesn’t mention the “good” things that have happened. You know what, it doesn’t have to. We’ve never seen those images in the U.S. media, and we should. We should see them for the same reason we should see the flag-draped coffins as they arrive at Dover. That’s the real price of war.

The segment on Lila Lipscomb, and the images of the soldiers in Iraq was even more powerful to me (I know, it shouldn’t have been, but I was). The images of the amputees in physical therapy were too much, and watching Mrs. Lipscomb grieve was more than I could handle.

And those are the parts of the movie that everyone should see. I can understand why people don’t want to see the rest of it. It’s inflammatory, and doesn’t tell (or try to) tell the “whole” story. No one’s telling the whole story, so expecting a two hour movie to is silly and overly partisan. Where the movie succeeds, it does so with more power and impact than anything I’ve seen. Where it fails, it fails only because of the voice it’s delivered in and the time given to laying out the evidence. It was an excellent review of the past three years, no matter what lens it was given in. The build up to war, the lies, the half-truths, the chest-thumping declarations… they’re all there.

I think the movie will have an impact on the election, not because it shows Bush as a doofus or evil (I don’t think either is true at this point, which is another post). It will because it shows the true price of war, a price that the media and the Administration have failed to show us in the past year. We should all see what’s being done in our name, under our flag. 60,000 people wounded and killed, never to be the same. And why? For what?

I hope the movie influences people to find the truth, to honestly seek it. Go see it, then go find the truth – not the truth as presented by either side, but the truth as it is. It’s complex, and difficult to find, much less understand. Every target is a spinning top, endlessly spitting out their description of intent and motive, trying to influence how we see what they’ve done and why. I’m done caring about the “why” and the motive. It doesn’t matter. The consequence is more important to me. Seeing the consequence of the President’s action in Iraq is enough for me to cast my vote for Kerry this November.

Kill Bill

This is unlike any movie you’ve ever seen. It may remind you a little of Pulp Fiction, but it’s just a twinge of a memory. It will nag you through the whole movie what this spectacle reminds you of. You won’t realize what it is until the end, as you sit through all the credits hoping for a Matrix Reloaded-like preview of the next film. It never came.

Sorry… let’s talk about the flick why don’t we? But first, let me say that I’m an unapologetic Tarantino fan. I love Pulp Fiction and Resevoir Dogs. I even liked Four Rooms. So, this is a fan’s review. I’m not impartial. I went into this expecting to love the movie, and I was no disappointed. I loved it. It was awesome. It was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time.

The action is intense, slightly cartoony (which I’ll explain later), and a lot of fun. Uma Thurman pulls off her best performance ever… ever. Everyone else is solid, especially Lucy Liu, who chews up the scenes she’s in with a lot of power, but with a very real sense of grace and lightness.

A couple warnings… this is the bloodiest, most gruesome action movie I’ve ever seen. I don’t watch slasher flicks, but I’ll bet it outdoes some of them for the number of limbs violently removed and the gallons of blood sprayed per character. Even so, most of the blood feels cartoonish, and there are only a couple real cringe-worthy moments.

Let’s talk about music… it rocks. All of Tarantiino’s movies have great music, and this movie is no different. There was only one place I wanted a song to go on longer than it did – that killer horn riff song from the trailer. It’s a great track, but it’s only in the movie for a minunte or so. Still, the rest of the music is great, and fits the scenes perfectly.

Now, where have I seen this before? While I loved the movie, it felt very familiar. I realized near the end that it’s really a live-action anime. Behind the great acting, great production values and fight scenes, it’s anime. The spurting blood, crazy action, and forceful amputations are all nods to anime. This isn’t bad… it’s good. It’s great. I think more anime should be retold to American audiences. A live-action Akira rewritten by an American screenwriter with Hollywood stars? Awesome. Yeah, it would rule.

Go see Kill Bill… go see it today. Movies like this deserve to be successful so they’ll make more like ’em.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

This afternoon’s “Movie Matinee That Jen Doesn’t Want To See” was Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and it was a blast. Johnny Depp was great as the effortlessly slimey CIA agent, Antonio should only play “El”, and Salma Hayak was beautiful in her short stay on the screen in flashbacks. The action didn’t seem as spontaneous or as un-choreographed as I would have expected, but it was still exciting.

This is a go – in – sit – down – disengage – brain – engage – popcorn – popping – testosterone – action – guy – gene – and – enjoy movie. This is not a deep film, although it tries at the end – it fails completely to be politically relevant to anyone. I’m fine with that. This movie was a lot of fun. Willem Dafoe sneers his way through yet another villain role, and the side story with Mickey Rourke and Ruben Blades was more compelling and better acted than the main plot.

Friday, I’ll be at the first show of Kill Bill if anyone wants to come with me.

School of Rock

Today was a good day. I got up at 10:45 in the AM, showered, dressed, left the house and met the folks from work at Nagoya in Ashburn for some Hibachi action. It was good, but the Hibachi chef didn’t put on the show I was expecting. The two other times I’ve been there, the guy did the onion volcano, the egg-robatics, etc. This guy was aaa-aaall business. The food was just as good, I just like fire… especially flaming onions.

After lunch, I went to see School of Rock. If you like Jack Black at all, even a little, you will love this movie. If you’ve ever loved rock, and ever wanted to be a Rock God, you will love this movie. It could have been super-cheesy, shmaltzy, after-school-special crappy, but it’s not. Jack Black pulls off hilarious earnestness, and the kids really do a great job. I laughed more than I expected. Oh, and Joan Cusack is amazing.

Go see it with someone you love, or by yourself like I did.

Tonight? I made a lovely butter-lemon salmon with curried tomato rice and it was super-tasty, if I do say so myself. I’m especially proud of the rice: just enough curry to give it a kick but not overwhelm the little pieces of tomato. Aaaaand now, I’m feeling sorry for Tony Dungy getting his butt handed to him by his former team, 21-nothing, and they’re still trying to run up the score with just a few seconds before halftime. What a way to spend your forty-eighth birthday.

Tomorrow, I’m starting on the Honey-Do list Jen left for me. Lots of phone calls… and maybe I’ll go see another movie. Suggestions?

Sick Movies

Yes, I’m still sick. I couldn’t get to sleep until four AM this morning, and then, when I do wake up, I see that someone posted SPAM in my comments!!! Of course, it’s been deleted now, but that was not the way I wanted to start my sick day. I’m pretty tired of feeling crappy. I think that tomorrow, no matter how I feel, I’ll just deny that I’m sick and go back to work and pretend I’m fine.

I was going to do the weekend entertainment roundup, but I’m gonna go lay down and watch an action movie on DVD (this weekend, we watched The Recruit, NARC, and The Lost World – we’re recording Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, which may be more crappy action than I can handle). I’m considering Twister. I’m not up for thinking.. so more Homicide is definitely not in order. Jen and I have this concept of good “sick movies”, of which Air Force One is probably the consensus winner for best sick movie of all time, followed closely by my personal all-time favorites, Jaws and The Great Escape. Sick Movies should be fun, full of action and should be either so rewatched that you know exactly what’s going to happen next and the story just washes over you. Right, got it? Ok, off I go. Wish me luck.

The Animatrix

I watched The Animatrix this weekend. Since a lot of the people who come to my site from Google are searching for commercial music (ie: that song from the levi’s french dictionary ad). I’ll do the same for The Animatrix before I give you a review. The song that plays over the main DVD menu, and is used in a couple of the shorts is called Supermoves and is on the Snatch soundtrack (among other places). The song from The Kid’s Story and that plays during the closing credits is called Who Am I by Peace Orchestra. It’s on the Memento soundtrack, and the Peace Orchestra album.

On to the shorts. First, I was blown away by the quality of animation in each of them. They’re all a little different, but all gorgeous in their own way. The first was done by the team who did the Final Fantasy movie, and was just amazing to look at. The characters were more refined, and the muscles more accurate than in The Spirits Within (although they used some of the same character models, it’s hard to tell – or at least you get past is quickly). The second two, The Second Renaissance Parts 1 & 2) were absolutely stunning. The rest of them are worth watching for the visuals alone, but my favorite has got to be Beyond. It’s the story of a group of kids who find a glitchy spot in the Matrix in an old abandoned house. Things are wonky in the house, and it’s way too much fun to watch the kids play with conventions like bullet time we saw in the movie. The have a falling contest and stop inches from the ground after jumping off a second story window ledge and others. It was the best play on the physics set up in the movies on the disc.

Overall, it’s fun to watch. The shorts aren’t long enough that you get bored with the story or animation style. And while there are a couple duds on the disk (World Record being the worst), the great and good stuff on the disk more than make up for it.