Jack Black joins Peter Jackson’s King Kong as “adventurer-filmmaker Carl Denham” (played by Robert Armstrong in the original.) Um, trust PJ, I guess. Update: Adrien Brody’s the other lead. That works.
I don’t want to say too much about Eternal Sunshine, as I think it’s probably a movie best enjoyed fresh. But just to give a sense of where my own brain was at during the film, there’s a scene near the end where Joel and Clementine are talking in a Barnes & Noble, and as they chat the books around them slowly lose their color and titles, until they’re all just blank. I think this scene unnerved me more than any other in the film…I wanted to shout, “Not until Thursday! Just remember them until Thursday!” Until then, I’d like to keep my mind as spotted as possible, thank you very much.
Well, a swing-and-a-miss by the Coen brothers is still more entertaining than a lot of movies out there…nevertheless, The Ladykillers is something of a disappointment. I was amused by the film throughout, and particularly in the early minutes at the sheriff’s office, but, frankly, Ladykillers never really takes off. In fact, given how thinly conceived and surprisingly one-dimensional all of the supporting characters turn out to be, you often get the sense the brothers are slumming it. (Jokes about Irritable Bowel Syndrome? C’mon, y’all…you’re the Coens, not the Farrellys.)
Perhaps most disappointing about The Ladykillers is the realization that Tom Hanks, an actor I normally root for, hasn’t quite found his rhythm in Coenland quite yet. While I’m not quite sure how it could have come off differently, his turn as Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, PhD doesn’t really work here…he’s more distracting than anything else. (I think there’s hope for Hanks, though…George Clooney seemed much more at ease in Intolerable Cruelty than he did in O Brother.) And as for the lady in question, Irma P. Hall is fun for the most part, but she too could have benefited from better material from the Coens – once the gang of thieves shows up in her root cellar, she has little to do but act affronted. A relatively amusing time at the cinema, to be sure, and particularly if you’re already sold on their sense of humor, but all in all this is a hiccup for the brothers Coen. Here’s hoping next time around is a little more satisfying.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins gets even more star-laden with the additions of Tom Wilkinson and Rutger Hauer to Gotham City. Apparently, Wilkinson’s a crime lord, while Hauer’s scheduled to attempt a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises. Are we going to have enough screen time for all these folks?
Describing his candidacy as a “second front against Bush, however small,” Nader schedules a pow-wow with John Kerry next month to discuss the best way of defeating Dubya. See, fellow Dems? He’s on our team.
Hmm…I’ve been so busy this week that I’ve completely missed out on the Clarke 9/11 testimony, but it sounds like he’s not only fighting mad at the Bushies for their Iraq sideshow and failures on the terrorism front, he’s deflecting their usual smear tactics quite swimmingly. Good stuff.
The new Prisoner of Azkhaban trailer is online, and, look, the camera moves! We’re already a step ahead of the first two Chris Columbus outings.
Hey did you hear the one about Dubya looking under a chair and asking, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere?” Chuckle, chuckle. Yeah, well I can think of almost 600 Americans (to say nothing of their families) that don’t find Dubya’s snickering all that goddamn funny. The Prez hasn’t been in such lousy taste since the day he scampered across the WTC rubble playing fratboy with a bullhorn.
Hey y’all…one week left until my orals, so expect it to be preternaturally quiet in these parts for that much longer. I’ve finished 98% of my reading at this point…I just need to spend the next few days getting psychically prepared for the test and fighting back the starting-to-become-omnipresent nervousness in my gut. Of the mocks I’ve taken, two went well and one went…not so well, but I’m chalking up that last one to sheer dogged tiredness and jetlag (from the recent break-even Vegas trip, which was decently fun, albeit being hampered by dark thoughts of the pending exam most of the time.) At any rate, I think I have the knowledge at this point…I just need to make I sure I can access it through the fog of encroaching anxiety.
With Indy IV in turnaround, Steven Spielberg now plans to team up with Tom Cruise for War of the Worlds. (And, what with Robert Rodriguez’s John Carter movie, 2005 is looking to be the year of literary Martian invasion adaptations.) Anyway, hopefully Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp will stick closer to the source material than did that godawful-looking version of I, Robot.
It’s that time of year…So who’d you pick? I’ve got Kentucky, UConn, UNC, and Oklahoma State as my Four, with the Wildcats over Connecticut in the finals. Alas, I’m in no pools this year, which probably means I’m more on the money than usual.
Columbia historian (and one of my interlocuters two weeks hence) Eric Foner takes a gander at William Rehnquist’s new book on the disputed 1877 election, and, aside from the obvious Bush v. Gore overtones, discovers that the Chief Justice’s grasp of history is as backward as his jurisprudence. “The scholarship on which Rehnquist relies is almost entirely out of date and his grasp of the complex issues of the Reconstruction era tenuous…That the Chief Justice of the United States sees national protection of blacks’ rights as a punishment imposed on whites is disheartening.” Hmm…let’s hope Rehnquist doesn’t decide to regale us with his thoughts on Dred Scott anytime in the future.
Did the awful 3/11 train bombing decide the recent Spanish election? Not so fast. My friend Luke of Expats against Bush happened to be visiting Barcelona during the recent attack, and his experience conforms closely with this Post article. Namely, it was Aznar’s lousy spin job as much as the bombing which decided the election. And, let’s be real — Given that 90% of Spain was against continued involvement in the Iraq war prior to the attack, it’s not as if the new government is coming out of nowhere with its decision to withdraw Spanish troops. Obviously, this act of terror didn’t help matters for the Popular Party, but the foundation of this decision by the electorate was paved long before by George W. Bush’s amateurish diplomacy. Instead of seeing common cause with our nation after a horrible terrorist attack, the Spanish people have been more repelled by Dubya’s preemptive sideshow and his continued insults to international intelligence. At this point, if Bush really wants to figure out which world leaders would prefer John Kerry, all he has to do is look around.
Witness, if you dare, the egregious new trailer for I, Robot, soon to be a Will Smith video near you. As Do You Feel Loved also noted the other day, somewhere Isaac Asimov (to say nothing of Chris Cunningham) is almighty pissed.
A very happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours. (Don’t miss this chance to rent Miller’s Crossing and/or have a Guinness or three.) My own St. Paddy’s should be relatively downbeat, for, as I suspected, it’s been much busier than usual over in these parts. Freelance work aside, I’ve been swimming neck-deep in political theory for a solid week now in prep for the big day. And I’ll be lugging a sack of books with me this weekend on what passes for my Spring Break vacation…Vegas Redux. (I know, I was down on the place last year, but it’s always good to catch up with old friends, and perhaps the glitz of the Strip will seem less jarring this time without the 24-hr CNN greenscreens of war on the other channel.) At any rate, if you want to approximate the GitM experience this weekend, peruse The Road to Serfdom or Democracy in America, while occasionally plying your hand at Deuces Wild. Between Hayek and games of chance, I’m feeling like Bill Bennett’s dream American at the moment.
Big-time raging Episode 3 spoilers today, including looks at the new Big Bad (General Grievous…couldn’t at least one villain be named something like Darth Sunflower?) and a post-Volcano Anakin that looks like he’s been hanging around the waiting room in Beetlejuice. Update: Emerging fanboy consensus seems to be that this second pic is semi-fake. The head is real, the body is not, and the arm is that of the T-800. So there you have it.
Because noone demanded it, the new Alien v. Predator trailer. Man, talk about running a quality franchise into the ground. As James Cameron noted when he heard about this lame Paul Anderson project, why don’t we get Freddy Krueger or the Wolfman up in here too? I know this was a Dark Horse comic, but that doesn’t mean it had to be a movie.
Orals at three weeks and counting. And, what with various freelance projects coming to closure right around now, postings might get sparser than usual around here. If so, apologies in advance.
*Snap. Crackle. Crunch.* No, that’s not the clattering of carabiners or the sound of snow underfoot you’re imagining in the background of Touching the Void, although there’s plenty of hiking gear and fresh powder to go around. It is, in fact, the bones of the protagonist’s shattered leg, grinding together with every excruciating step, drag, and fall. This central fact makes for a rather grisly viewing experience, but, if you can get past it, Touching the Void is an altogether decent night at the movies (or on the Discovery Channel.)
One part documentary, one part voice-over, Touching the Void tells the true story of two ambitious hikers who aimed to scale Peru’s Siula Grande alpine-style (i.e. connected by ropes and with minimal supplies) in the mid-1980′s. All in all, getting up the mountain wasn’t that bad, but getting down…that was another thing entirely. Soon our dynamic duo of Type-A climbers find themselves in dark and dire straits, where every step might lead to death and survival and betrayal seem to go hand-in-hand.
I knew basically all of this going in, but where Touching the Void surprised me is that it gradually becomes less a hiking disaster movie and more the harrowing travelogue of one man’s existential ordeal. Several critics seem to find the last third of the movie, with its increasingly un-documentary-like camera tricks, to be overdone. And, while it’s hard not to think of Trainspotting (or, as my sis noted, Requiem for a Dream) when the steadicam swooning and blurry dissolves break out in spades, I still thought the movie still worked as an intriguing blend of documentary and film, true recollection and fanciful recreation. Apparently, Tom Cruise’s production house had optioned this story at some point, and I got to think this was a more interesting way of capturing the psychological dynamics of this amazing story than anything that project might’ve come up with.
All in all, Touching the Void has a few problems (perhaps most notably that the fact that the survivors are telling you the tale reduces any real question of how it’s all going to end), but it still made for one of the better survival stories I’ve seen on film recently…in fact, in a strange way, it reminded me of The Pianist. And it makes clear beyond any reason of a doubt that all the Worst-Case Scenario Handbooks in the world aren’t going to prepare you for the moment when shards of your femur begin to grind against your patella in the middle of an icestorm. After seeing this film, I think I’m going to do all my ice-climbing on the XBox, thank you very much.
One journey is over, another begins…word is Nicole Kidman may be the White Witch in the forthcoming Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. I’ll be honest, I don’t like the Narnia books nearly half as much as LotR. But, still, it’d be nice to see ‘em done right, and Kidman is a step in the right direction (Heads up via High Industrial.) Update: Word from the studio is it’s not true.
Usual Suspects and X-Men director Bryan Singer moves from Logan’s claws to Logan’s Run, and they’re reverting to the book’s age limit of 21. Run, Haley Jo, run!
Online today is the new trailer for Troy, and it’s quite something. I generally like Brad Pitt, but right now he’s looking (well, sounding) like the only potential problem here. Still, each and every scene with Brendan Gleeson and Brian Cox should be scenery-chewing fun. And where’s Sean “Odysseus” Bean?
Also new today, Tuck Pendleton, Bilbo Baggins, and Donnie Darko run around lamenting the dire consequences of global warming in The Core 2…um, I mean The Day After Tomorrow. The earlier teaser had made this seem potentially like an “after-the-cataclysm” sci-fi movie, but, nope, it’s just a disaster flick. Sigh.
Well, that didn’t take long. In his first major ad wave, Dubya touts the endorsement of the WTC, to the anger and consternation of the families of 9/11 victims. Trust me, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better: If it helps get him elected, Dubya and his ilk will be bathing in the blood of the fallen by the end.
Batman Begins starts production in Iceland, with the final casting announcement of Gary Oldman as Sgt. (future Commissioner) Gordon. I really liked Aaron Eckhart for this role, but Oldman should be grand, provided he doesn’t go all Professional-crazy.
So, to no one’s real surprise over these past few weeks, our horse is John Kerry. Ok, then, let’s bring it on (and let the veep sweepstakes begin.) I’m sure it’ll be a tight race before it’s over, but for the moment, even the House GOP is thinking Kerry these days.
As the Senate GOP tries to schedule embarrassing votes for Johns Kerry and Edwards, Richard Rosendall of Salon remembers the last election cycle the GOP invoked the culture wars so heavily: 1992. Thanks again, Pat Buchanan.
The two NASA rovers have completed one facet of their mission, and the results are exciting: There was in fact water on Mars. And where there’s water, there’s…sea monkeys?
Super Tuesday has arrived, and many pundits are predicting it to be the last stand of John Edwards, who’s got mathematical problems even if he should upset in a few states tonight. Nevertheless, I voted for Edwards this morning (although the machine I used was so Third World that I have to wonder if my vote’ll get counted), not because I prefer him all that much to Kerry in the end — I think either will make a fine candidate this year — but more because (a) he bothered to show up here twice, and (b) with his personal charm and rhetorical focus on poverty, I believe he has a bright future in the Democratic party. If my vote can help suggest that he has a following outside the South, good for it. All that being said, I’m happy with Kerry too, and he can expect my vote in November, if (ok, when) he proves to be the Dem nominee.
Emptying out the trailer bin today, we’ve got the new Prisoner of Azkaban teaser (not appreciably different than the last preview, but still looks better than the Chris Columbus movies), a second look at Tony Scott’s Man on Fire (Denzel + little girl + slo-mo explosions = ?), the new clip for The Punisher (Much better than the last one, but I still doubt I’ll see it), and a new TV spot for The Passion of the Hellboy (Nobody likes robot Nazis.)
Hail to the King, baby. RotK sweeps the Oscars, winning all 11 categories in which it was nominated. I must say, this is a much better showing than I anticipated, but it is in no way undeserved (Three words for the playa-haters: A Beautiful Mind — Fellowship deserved at least half the awards that that schmaltz-fest won two years ago. Besides, the most contested win this time around was probably Adapted Screenplay, and, even there, none of the other nominees had to straddle such an enormous divide between newbies and a rabidly devoted fan base.) Congrats and many thanks to PJ et al once again. And, in honor of the achievement, the official LotR site has posted the trilogy supertrailer (from the deluxe RotK soundtrack), which is definitely worth a look to get a sense of the sweep and majesty of the films taken together.
At any rate, the entertainment pundits seem to have been bored, but I thought it was just about a perfect evening. The only melancholy note was a brokenhearted-looking Bill Murray losing out to Sean Penn. Both were good, but Penn’s going to be up there every year, while Murray — unless Wes Anderson sets him up with a chewy Supporting Actor morsel sometime in the future — may never get a second chance.
Now, just think how many Oscars the RotK:EE might’ve won…