Oh HELL Yes!

As I’ve mentioned before, I am really looking forward to Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens.  It’s based on yet another comic book (at least this one calls itself a comic book and not a "graphic novel") that I have never heard of. That’s okay, I’m relatively certain that I am not part of its target audience. This movie, however, looks like just what the doctor ordered: the kind of summer blockbuster that we haven’t seen since Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981. It’s got Cowboys! And Aliens! Together again for the very first time!

It’s also got a screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (with a little help from Damon Lindelof and others), arguably two of the hottest scribes working for the movies right now. Directed by Jon Favreau, whose talents behind the camera are definitely more hit than miss, produced by Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard,impressarios definitely not known for picking duds, not to mention the King of Hollywood, Ryan Kavanaugh, cinematography by frequent Favreau collaborator Matthew Libatique (who was just nominated for an Oscar for Black Swan), we already have all of the ingredients for one incredible thrill-ride.

Then there’s the cast…

This cast almost makes me want to weep. It’s so stuffed with talent it’s practically absurd: Daniel Craig looking buff and gritty and shirtless, Harrison Ford looking all Harrison Ford-like, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine… David freakin’ O’Hara…and thank you sweet baby jeebus, someone gave Walton Goggins* a job!

*deep breath*

The new theatrical trailer appeared online last night and the interwebs are all abuzz:

Help me Rhonda, there’s still 3 1/2 more months before it’s released on July 29!

*Boyd Crowder in "Justified"-a modern day western & one of tv’s best shows that you are probably not watching, but should be

My Daily Moment of Zen

I realize that I’m easily amused, but I made this this afternoon and I cannot stop watching it. It just makes me laugh…


sorry, it’s a download, the embed’s not working.

With Thanks and Appreciation: Sidney Lumet 1924-2011

 I feel the need to say a few words about the great Sidney Lumet.

There will be scores of other tributes for you to read and most of them will be more in depth, but like a casual acquaintance compelled to say a few words at a funeral, I want to add my humble voice to those reverberating around the internet and the blogisphere. Anyone who cares about movies has experienced a loss today.

Director Sidney Lumet, ex-husband of Gloria Vanderbilt, former son-in-law of Lena Horne, left behind a huge body of work; a list of films that contains some of the greatest of the 20th century. His very first film, 12 Angry Men, is arguably the definitive court room drama against which all others are measured.

For me, ever since I saw Murder on the Orient Express, with its flawless all-star cast, when I was a kid, a Lumet film was an event. If he directed it, I went to the theater to see it, and with few exceptions, could just about be guaranteed that I’d like it.

With a distinctly American voice, Lumet helped define a decade with two of the most realistic and gritty urban films of the ‘70’s, both set in his beloved New York City: Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. (They both almost certainly inspired another son of NYC, Martin Scorsese.) He’d go on to use the city as a backdrop many more times, with varying degrees of success in Prince of the City, Night Falls on Manhattan, Q & A and  Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.  While I can recommend all of them, the last four don’t have the resonance of Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon. (They didn’t have Pacino either.)

Network, another classic of the 1970’s that appears on many critics all-time Top 10 lists, was made in the same period. In fact, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Murder on the Orient Express and Network were all made in a single three year span.

Known as an ‘actor’s director’, he wrested some of the best performances of their careers from a long list of venerable artists, many of whom were nominated for a great many awards, starting with Henry Fonda for 12 Angry Men and Fail Safe, Katherine Hepburn for Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Peter Finch in Network (for which he was awarded a posthumous Oscar) up to and including his final film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, which won numerous critics awards for ‘best ensemble cast.’

He made stars of River Phoenix in Running on Empty and Andy Garcia in Night Falls on Manhattan, kept Timothy Hutton employed and resurrected the careers of Jane Fonda (The Morning After), Nick Nolte ( Q & A) and Sean Connery (Family Business – although he’d also worked with him nearly 20 years before in The Anderson Tapes.)

Not every film was a classic, by any stretch. Guilty As Sin with a then-hot Don Johnson and Rebecca DeMornay is pure camp (and can still be enjoyed as such.) A Stranger Among Us with Melanie Griffith as a NYPD detective infiltrating a community of Hasidic Jews defies further description. There was something oddly charming, yet tinged with melancholy about Michael Jackson’s Scarecrow, but for the most part, the rest of The Wiz was a mess. Probably because the musical itself was a mess. Diana Ross was never going to make anyone forget Judy Garland, any more than Sharon Stone could replace the great Gena Rowlands in the completely unnecessary remake of John Cassavetes’ Gloria.

By far, my favorite Lumet film is The Verdict, which also contains my favorite performance by Paul Newman, as a down-at-the-heels, alcoholic lawyer seeking personal redemption with a medical malpractice case he can actually believe in.  Beautifully photographed by long-time Lumet collaborator, Andrzej Bartkowiak, with an adapted screenplay by David Mamet, this film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (James Mason) and Best Director. (It didn’t win any of them. Unfortunately, Gandhi was also released in 1982.)

This film is on my personal “once a year” list. If you haven’t seen it, you owe to yourself to do so.
(Bit of trivia: The Verdict’s writer, playwright David Mamet was married to Newman’s co-star Lindsey Crouse, who also appeared with him in Slap Shot. It was after seeing that film, that Mamet sought her out and they were married in ’77.) 
In any case, despite other accolades and even though three of his films are on AFI’s list of the 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time #42 12 Angry Men (also #2 AFI’s Top 10 Best Courtroom Dramas), #75 The Verdict ( #4 Best Courtroom Dramas), and #84 Serpico, Sidney Lumet never won an Academy Award. He was given an honorary Oscar in 2005. This is another travesty that the Academy has run out of time to rectify. They’ll probably try with a posthumous tribute at next year’s ceremony. Too little, too late. JMHO.

*AFI – The American Film Institute

“You WON’T be baaahk”

Over the weekend, an actor looking for a jumpstart to his stalled movie career made a ridiculous remark to the press; a remark meant to appear casual but was, of course, anything but. While it’s not news for an actor to utter something facile for no other reason than to garner the attention it will generate, one would think that an actor who prides himself on his intelligence, would in this instance, know better.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant, was quoted by Entertainment Weekly as having asked his friend, 300 producer Mark Canton, how he could go about duplicating Gerard Butler’s famous physique from that film. Canton probably thought he was being funny when he supposedly quipped that those muscles cost him "a lot of money." Yes they probably did. I’m sure that the services of fitness Nazi Mark Twight or Venezuelan bodybuilder Franco LiCastro, do not come cheap. But that glib remark negates the blood, sweat, puke and God knows what else, that went into the forming of Butler’s muscles, as well as those of the rest of Zack Snyder’s Spartan army. (Snyder subjected himself to the same rigorous training.)

Both Schwarzenegger and Canton have certainly been around long enough to know not only how the system works, but how to manipulate it to their own ends. Regardless of how it was intended, if indeed Canton intended it as a joke that Ahnold ran with, The Guvernator had to know how it would sound to a scandal hungry press. (The Black Swan thing turned out to be a bust…NEXT!)A so-called legitimate source like Entertainment Weekly ran to press, probably foaming at the mouth, with this prize tid-bit without checking its legitimacy and of course it immediately bounced all over the web where news outlets and blogs, with even lower standards and more lax policies with reference to fact checking, reprinted or reposted it verbatim. (Some even listed the source.)

I’m not the first person, or even the first person with a blog, to be up in arms about this. I think that’s a good thing. Voices other than my own have expressed their outrage better, some even going so far as to intelligently point out the disloyalty that actors who may work for Mark Canton in the future can expect from him, but I think anyone who watched an interview or read an article about the ‘300 Workout’, certainly anyone who bought a ticket to the movie itself, should be incensed. We all need to get on our soapboxes and bang on our drums. Let Schwarzenegger and Canton know how we feel and especially whose side we’re on. (Admittedly, I have a certain bias toward Butler. That, however, has nothing to do with calling foul on stupidity wherever I find it.) Frankly, they both owe Gerard Butler (as well as Zack Snyder, Mark Twight and Franco LiCastro, to name a few) an apology.




"I got yer f*ckin’ CGI…"

"Could the Terminator crack walnuts with his ass?? I don’t think so…"

“Go away and stop pissin’ me off…”

Word of the Day for Tuesday, April 5, 2011

irascible \ih-RASS-uh-buhl\, adjective:

Prone to anger; easily provoked to anger; hot-tempered.