Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Television Aside

This is a departure from movies but I had to share. Once a year through his job in media, hubby receives preview discs of each major television network's new line-up of programming. This is CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX's collective chance to dazzle potential advertisers with their sharp, witty and poignant new programming. And it's usually a total disaster. Last night, we were in between Netflix discs, so we decided to watch the offerings of CBS.

We might just have simply walked to the bathroom and stared at the toilet for a half hour, because we would have found the same contents there. Every single show was a turd. Were I the president of CBS programming, I might be polishing my resume. Or maybe no one is in charge there and so the teenage interns have taken over:

"Hey, dude, my little bro is driving me nuts this summer. I need to get rid of him. So let's have a show where we throw a bunch of kids together in an old west ghost town! And we'll call it Kid Nation!"
"Sweet! I wish I didn't have so many pimples. And that I didn't hate myself. I wonder if Jennifer Lopez hates herself. She has to hate her husband. He's greasy. Hey, that gives me an idea...what if we pander to the Latino community with some crappy recycled version of Dynasty?!"
"Dude! Only we'll call it Cane and we'll make it about the sexy, dangerous world of sugar cane. Get it? sugar cane/Cane? Man, that is blowin' my freakin' mind."
"Fuckin' A! Let's see. There's Jimmy Smits. He's Mexican or something, right? And that Nestor guy from Jessie and Lost. He's not busy, right? Oh, and that Hector Elizondo guy. I'm sure he's available. That's about all of them, right?"
"Dude, this is gonna be off the hook."
"Or off the cane, don't you mean?"
"Man, you should write for the show. You're a fuckin' genius."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Week 7: Gia

We've all got those movies out there, haven't we? Those ones we've been meaning to rent for 10 or 12 years but never get around to it. Like, say, a certain movie that starred a mega-watt female celeb and received much hoopla and even a Golden Globe. And then one day that movie appears in your Netflix Recommendations and you think to yourself, why not? It has to be good, right? She won a freaking Golden Globe for it. Sure, you seem to remember it's about some trashy model but you're sure it's worthwhile. She won a Golden Globe for it, right? So why do I feel so dirty now, you ask yourself. Oh, just go ahead and add it to your queue. It'll be just fine, you tell yourself.

I'm back to feeling dirty. Big-juggly-Angelina-Jolie-naked-boobs-pressed-against-a-chainlink fence-dirty. And sadly, that is not a metaphor, but an actual scene from the movie.

This movie is bad. Oh, so bad. I would swear to you that the score for this movie was done by the same musical mastermind from such films as "Panties of the Caribbean" and "Forrest Hump." It definitely reeks of soft-core Cinemax late-night programming.

Even though I know Gia was a real model and this was her real life story, we couldn't help but feel like the script was taken directly from a submission to Penthouse Forum:

Dear Penthouse: I never thought it would happen to me. I got Angelina Jolie to star in a film where she had to take her clothes off and smash her boobs against a chainlink fence. And take her clothes off and suds up her lesbian lover in the shower. And take her clothes off and seduce a woman's ankle. And this is the best part, Penthouse. I made her wear this terrible wig the entire time and I gave her an atrocious script that included the line, "People shouldn't take other people's knives away from them!!!!!!"

Honestly, I haven't been so embarrassed to watch a movie since the time my dad unwittingly rented 9 1/2 weeks and all six of us watched it together as a family. And I was just ten years old and all I remember is praying to the sofa to please swallow me. Sadly, it didn't. And so I got to sit next to my brother and my stepmom while we watched Mickey Rourke drip honey all over Kim Basinger. What I wouldn't have given for someone to ram a rusty fork in my eyes.

If we can take no other lesson from watching Gia, it is that if you never rented that movie you were considering renting ten years ago, it's best to let sleeping dogs lie. And you should never, ever take other people's knives away from them.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Week 7: Notes on a Scandal

Haven't rented Notes on a Scandal yet? Don't bother. You've already seen it. Only it was called Single White Female. And a cat dies in this one instead of a puppy. And it was much less repulsive to watch Jennifer Jason Leigh put the moves on her obsession, Bridget Fonda, than it is to watch Dame Judy Dench put the moves on Cate Blanchett. Trust me on this one.

I'm not sure when Dame Judy turned 85 years old, but it appears to have happened rather abruptly, which made the site of her shaking, crippled fingers grazing over Cate's young and languid skin all the more creepy. I had visions of my grandma raising the hemline of her geriatric blood pressure girdle at the nursing home in order to impress some young female orderly. Ick.

This movie isn't terrible, but you've seen every part of it before in one fashion or another. Luminous ingenue teacher falls for young Irish muffin who happens to be her student. Latent lesbian older teacher blackmails luminous teacher, making luminous teacher appear all the more luminous and ethereal in various crying, wrenching, sobbing scenes. Secret unravels and there is much shouting at the end. All done, neat and tidy.

Can't anyone make a good thriller anymore? What gives, Hollywood? Too busy working on Eddie Murphy's next tour de force, "The Nutty Professor Three: Clumps in Space"?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Queue Flashback: Stranger Than Fiction

I gave up watching movie trailers years ago because I got so sick of seeing every single detail of the plot before I actually saw the movie. What's the point of watching the actual movie when you just saw it all in a neat thirty-second capsule? It maddens me. So whenever we go to the movie theater I close my eyes and hum over the previews in the hopes of drowning them out. And when we’re at home and a trailer plays on TV I lunge out of the room screaming at Grant, “Turn it! Turn it! Turn it!” Our neighbors must think we’re a kinky lot.

All of this fuss to avoid trailers usually means that I get to actually enjoy the movies I watch because they’re truly original to me. But occasionally it backfires because knowing nothing about a film means I am often left to judge them solely on the idle chit-chat I’ve heard about them. That was the fate of Stranger Than Fiction. I heard the words “Will Ferrell in a serious role” and I was backing away as though someone had just said, “Britney Spears stars as Margaret Thatcher in this epic political saga…”

Why, Will? Why? Why can’t you funny men just stay funny? Did Chevy Chase poison the well so you all think it’s important to make this leap? I don’t need you to act in serious roles, Will. That’s why god invented Sean Penn. I don’t need you to play a romantic lead, Mr. Ferrell. That’s why god (blessedly) invented Viggo Mortensen and Daniel Craig. And most importantly, Mr. Ferrell, your body hair makes me uncomfortable. I’m sorry, but it’s true. There’s too much of it and it’s VERY CURLY. In a comedy, it’s funny. But in a drama, it makes me feel like I just found a kinky dark hair in my salad. Yes, that kind of hair. AND I DON’T CARE FOR IT.

Maggie Gyllenhaal (Gillenhall? Gyylenhaal? Ever heard of a stage name, Maggie?) plays the romantic lead opposite Will Ferrell. She plays the mother-love-earth local baker who spends her days feeding the homeless and caretaking for neighborhood vagrants. I’d like to know why my neighborhood baker isn’t like this. Mine charges $2.75 for a miniscule glass of iced tea and has never once offered me a free croissant even though I cheerfully respond in French when they give me a dour Bon Jour each day.

My point, and I think I had one, is that Maggie G’s character is painfully flat and one-dimensional. And she looks like a teenager which made the whole love-interest-with-Will’s-curly-hair thing a little uncomfortable to me. I guess I should be happy that someone with such a low-profile and an everywoman face is getting cast in plumb roles but I’m not. I think the Gyllenhaal’s are shifty. Maggie and Jake remind me of the White Stripes and I’m pretty sure they’re related but still sleeping with one another and once again, it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I should have called this blog “things that make me uncomfortable.”

One great piece of casting in this film is Emma Thompson as the narrator of Will Ferrell’s life. I know that’s not saying much since Madame Thompson is pretty much terrific in every film. I have a secret desire for Emma Thompson to phone me up and invite me over to her house to drink manhattans and leaf through old issues of OK! Magazine while we make fun of that tart Sienna Miller. I have always felt a certainty that we’d get along famously. This must be how stalkers start rationalizing their behavior. Consider this your warning, Ms. Thompson.

Anyway, Stranger Than Fiction is actually a pretty sweet little film and I have to admit that if you can get past all the curliness, Will Ferrell is charming in a pseudo-straight role. You proved your point, Ferrell. Now let’s get back to the comedies, okay? Surely someone is floating a script out there about the competitive Badminton world.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Week 6: Extras, Season 1, Disc 2

Okay, I still really love this show but let me just say it would be a lot funnier if I knew who random British actors were such as Les Dennis. Les Dennis, anyone? Anyone? I thought not. Apparently he's a sad-sack has-been from the British stage and screen. He's just the sort of person I hope our own Tom Cruise will grow up to be one day.

There was an episode on this disc that starred Samuel L. Jackson but sadly, never once did Mr Jackson ever scream to Ricky Gervais, "What you mumblin' about, you cracker-ass tea-drinkin' muthafucka?" Although there was a hilarious scene in which Maggie tries to hide her sambo doll from her black date, then proceeds to pantomime the black doll humping a white doll to prove she's not a racist. This is the kind of thing that went on in my rural Ohio hometown all the time. Except that no one wanted to disprove their racism. And sambo dolls were celebrated. And dating a black man wasn't even in the realm of possibilities if you wanted to keep all your teeth intact and your car un-burned. Otherwise, just the same sort of thing. Pip-pip.

PS: if you rent Extras, be advised to turn the subtitles on while you watch. We're fairly confident we missed out on half the jokes in the first few episodes because that cracker-ass tea-drinkin' mofo is a bit of a mumbler.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week 6: Extras, Season 1, Disc 1

My husband and I are currently baby poor (meaning that every spare dollar we have goes to daycare and diapers and tiny jars of things like “pureed pea and ground beef soufflĂ©”). As such, we have no extra dimes for luxuries such as HBO. So, we watch the Sopranos and Entourage via Netflix rentals a year after we’ve heard all the spoilers already. It kind of sucks, but every once in a while we stumble across a gem that hasn’t had a lot of hype, like the lovely little pearl called Extras.

This show is the brainchild of Ricky Gervais, creator of the BBC’s original The Office series. In Extras, he plays essentially the same verbal-diarrhea-plagued character he did on The Office, only this time as a man making a living as a movie extra. It’s a great premise because every half-hour episode centers on a different movie set and has a different guest star. The first episode, entitled “Kate Winslet”, has a hilarious story line of Kate Winslet instructing the extras how to properly have dirty phone sex. All while she’s dressed in a nun’s habit. Brilliant.

The show is a lot of fun and Gervais is a master at developing socially awkward dialogue that makes you squirm in your seat. I love Ricky Gervais so much that I’m absolutely convinced that if I ever met him, I would become so completely baffled and tongue-tied that instead of saying all the hilarious, witty things I had planned, our meeting would instead go something like this:

RICKY: Oh, ‘ello, then. Nice to meet you.

ME: Ha ha ha ha! So funny!

RICKY: I just said ‘ello love. That wasn’t funny. It was jus’ a regular greeting. A salutation if you will.

ME: Wheeeeeee!

RICKY: [confused] What’s that?

ME: Duur, uh…

RICKY: [whispering to his companion] What’s this then? You didn’t tell me she was mental.

ME: No, ah…I not…mental.

RICKY: She’s a complete sodding retard, i’nt she? Look a’ that. She’s got drool runnin’ down the side of ‘er mouth.

ME: [trying to touch his face] No! I smart! I really smart, Ricky Gervais! Ricky Gervais!

RICKY: [winking to his companion] Oh, yes. Sure you are. You’re the bloody Noble prize winner, aren’t you, love? Got the trophy back at home, do ya? Right next to your white paper on splittin’ the atom?

ME: Glurspank!

RICKY: Let’s get out of here. I don’t want to get her retard germs on me.

ME: [after Ricky leaves] Bloody hell.

Sorry Readers

Sorry loyal readers (both of you). Regular movie post coming soon...must finish final Harry Potter book. You understand.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Week 6: Confetti

Netflix, I really appreciate most of what you do for me. Really, I do. However, I have to admit that whenever I see the little pop-up window with “Netflix Recommendations”, I feel a little queasy.

Let’s be honest, Netflix. Your recommendations are a bit of a crapshoot. Yes, I loved Shaun of the Dead but that does not mean I would necessarily love Mulva: Zombie Ass-Kicker.

Born into Brothels? Fabulous. Thank you very much for the recommendation. The Corporation? Before Sunrise? Bad, Netflix, bad. Shame on you.

Which brings us to Confetti. This was one of those movies that I debated at length before adding it to my queue. The description sounded promising: a British mockumentary about a wedding magazine contest to plan the most original wedding possible.

Let’s be honest, you had me at “British mockumentary,” two of my favorite words in the English language. The rest of the sentence could have ended with, “a British mockumentary… in which live puppies are dismembered in front of hungry schoolchildren,” and I probably would have rented it.

We watched Confetti last night and I just sat there for a few minutes afterward trying to imagine what I could say about this movie. It was good. And it was not good. I am conflicted.

The premise is great and much of the dialogue of this film is hysterical. The best parts revolved around the couple planning their nudist wedding. I have never seen so much old British wang bouncing around playing badminton and riding bikes in my life. And I loved it. Old naked British people are the best. You should probably rent the movie for these scenes alone.

The two gay wedding planners are quite fun to watch and the final weddings were funny, including a tennis-themed wedding by an over-competitive couple and a Broadway-themed wedding for the sweet, romantic couple. It was all very entertaining but it just missed the mark somehow. The movie started out really strong and had so much potential, but in the end they didn’t push the situations or the humor hard enough. It tried to be funny and sweet at the same time, watering down both attempts.

I know this whole thing sounds very wish-washy but I’m truly stumped. In the end, I guess old British wangs win out. Go ahead and rent Confetti. If nothing else, it will make you feel much better about how you look naked.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Queue Flashback: House MD, Season 1, Disc 1

Oh, for the love of god. This show is bad. Baaaad, baaaad. I’ll admit that I was charmed into renting it by the hilariously witty appearances House star Hugh Laurie makes on the Emmy Awards. The man is funny. Too bad they sapped all of his dry wit and blackened it into a hard lump of diseased writing in House.

I studiously avoided this show for years because frankly, I’ve had enough of medical dramas. You had me for a few good years, ER, and then you lost your Clooney and the whole show went to pot. Grey’s Anatomy, you’re enjoyable in the same way a giant bag of Ruffles and a tub of sour cream is enjoyable. You know it’s bad for you and it leaves you feeling a little sick and guilty when it’s over. And when FOX started promoting the hell out of House (and pronouncing it Houwzzz), I steered clear. But I heard a lot of good things about it. People seemed to enjoy it. So I caved.

So, House, why do I hate thee so? Let me count the ways:
1. The whole premise of the show is that he’s a doctor who doesn’t like people. Ooh, I have shivers.

2. Dr. House is a medical genius specializing in bizarre and rare maladies. The result is a CSI-style plot that has to introduce and then magically solve a mysterious ailment in one hour. It feels like watching the kids solve mysteries on Scooby Doo.

3. Token black doctor? Check. Token tough-girl medical administrator? Check. Token sensitive former Dead Poet doctor? Check.

4. They allude to the “accident” that caused Dr. House’s limp approximately 372 times in the first episode alone. We get it. You have a limp and you didn’t get it picking daisies in the French countryside. Enough already. It’s a freakin’ limp, people. I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat.

This was one of those regrettable Netflix rentals where you can tell ten minutes into it that you’re going to hate it but it’s Friday night and you having nothing else to do so you watch all three episodes and you hate yourself for it. You want to call Netflix and plead with them to overnight you a new movie for Saturday delivery because you made a mistake and you should not be punished for it. “I didn’t mean to try it, Netflix. Honest, I didn’t. It’s just that all the other kids we’re trying it and I thought, well, why not? But I’ve learned my lesson. I really have. Netflix, I will NEVER do it again.”

And then you turn around and rent Syriana. You dumbass.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 5: Syriana

Syriana…so…boring…must…stay…awake. George Clooney…why? What is point…of gaining 35 pounds…and growing beard…and looking so depressed…when could have just…hired Paul Giamatti…instead. Boredom growing stronger…must fight it…

Seriously, if I can say one good thing about this movie, it’s that at least we didn’t have to endure four weeks of George Clooney jetting around the world bragging to entertainment reporters about what a fabulous time he, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt have and the hilarious practical jokes they play on one another. Here’s how I imagine most of their interactions go:

[The scene opens on a yacht on Lake Como where three well-known men are sunning themselves on the deck while drinking priceless champagne and toweling themselves off with Microsoft stock certificates]

BRAD : “Oh, George, you are such a card.”

GEORGE [innocently]: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

MATT: “What’d he do this time, Brad? And pass me that five-gallon tub of caviar.”

BRAD: “He put an ugly person in my cabin!”

MATT: “No!”

BRAD: “Yes, he did! And he was poor too!”


GEORGE: “You’re right. I AM hilarious. Let’s go throw thousand-dollar bills at the ugly person.”

BRAD: “I can’t wait to tell Mary Hart about this one…”

MATT: “I already texted her!”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Week 5: Bonus film: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

[Blogger note: I'm sorry, my dearest Netflix, but even your speedy disc delivery cannot make the new Harry Potter movie magically appear in my mailbox just days after it premieres in theaters. So, it is with heavy heart that I admit I cheated on you and went to the theater. But don't worry, love, I'm coming right back to your red-enveloped arms tonight.]

Is it wrong to admit that I have a crush on the dark lord? Is that bad? Because I'm sorry, even with pasty skin, a missing nose and the whole evil wizard business, I still feel a little steamy towards one mister Fiennes. And no, I'm not talking about you, Joseph, you runt of the Fiennes litter.

I think it must be his voice that makes me knees go all wobbly. Or the fact that he took the world's worst name, Ralph, and turned it into something dark and mysterious. Rafe. The pronunciation makes no sense at all, but I love it. And I'm even willing to look past the "alleged' in-flight dalliance he had with a stewardess on a recent Quantas flight. [Mental note: start flying Quantas].

But enough about my dark lord and onto a much less savory subject from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Ron Weasley. Be warned, audiences, Ron Weasley is the real monster in this film. Between Goblet of Fire and Order, our boy Weasley's most awkward moments in puberty unfold on screen before our eyes and THEY ARE NOT PRETTY. I was physically uncomfortable seeing his face forty-feet tall on the big screen. Hormones are not your friend, Ron-Ron. And if I know one thing for certain in this world, it's that prom night is going to be very unkind to Ron Weasley.

Harry Potter, on the other hand, aside from the fact that he appears to be approximately 42" tall, is turning out to be a handsome young lad. He actually managed to look tough in a few scenes, reaching up to scrap at the other actors' kneecaps as he was.

I could tell you how marvelous the rest of the Order cast is, particularly Immelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, but you've read all that before. [Although nobody quite prepared me for how hilarious her wardrobe would be or the whole business of her office being decked out in live kitties.]

The movie is very enjoyable, but neither of us liked it as well as the previous movie. Order of the Phoenix seemed like a duplicate effort of the dark style and grim mood set up by Alfonso Cuaron in Azkaban. It was nice enough, but by this point, we've seen all the visual tricks and we're really there for the story, which they cut a ton out of in this film. I came home from the theater and picked up the book to begin re-reading it, because I want to remember all the parts that were only hinted at in the film.

I would recommend you do the same, if for no other reason than the fact that you will not see Ron Weasley's forty-foot tall face inside the book. Only in your mind. Where it will HAUNT YOU.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Week 5: Hollywoodland

Diane Lane! Someone put a horse head in your bed! Oh, wait. It's just Ben Affleck.

Hollywoodland, for those of you who don't know (and I presume that to be all of you since this movie had zero press) is the story of the mysterious death of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on TV in the fifties.

While watching this film, one has plenty of time to consider which is larger, Ben Affleck's gum line or his forehead. The man has a large noggin. I do too, Ben. It's not a crime. It's just that you're a film actor and I'm not, so nobody really spends a good hour and fifty minutes staring hard at mine.

I can even see why ol' horsehead got cast as the actor who played Superman in this movie. He's tall, has broad shoulders and a very Superman-like hairline (although in later scenes in the movie he is wearing a wig so cheap and obvious it looks like it was fished out of a discount bin at Toupees 'r Us). Did I mention that you see Affleck naked in this movie? If you haven't fled from your computer screen yet, you should knjow that he was much more jiggly than one would think. It was one of those naked scenes that make you tilt your head really far to the side as you ponder where the jiggles came from.

I really liked the story of this movie and it's told in an interesting way with Adrian Brody playing the oozy, oily private investigator hired to probe Reeve's death, which is ruled as a suicide while all the clues point to his murder.

But here's the big rub with this movie. Yes, there is something even bigger than Affleck's forehead here. It's the casting of Diane Lane as his mistress. Rather, he plays her mistress. Mistor? I don't know what the male word is for that. The point is, Lane plays the older wife of a powerful studio executive who takes on Benny as her little side dish of man-puddin'. Or Mistor.

I could say a lot of lovely things about Diane Lane. In the game "who would you turn lesbian for", she is right up there for me in the top three (next to Scarlett Johansson and Salma Hayek, if you really must know). I think she's a fine actress and is generally lovely to look at, but her chemistry with Ben Affleck is way, way off in this film. Maybe it's because she's made up to look like she's sixty-five and it makes the site of her canoodling with Ben Affleck look like an uncensored version of the Golden Girls Gone Wild. Or maybe it's the incredibly stiff, stilted dialogue they speak with weird accents that make them both sound like film noir versions of real people.

Whatever it is, it doesn't work. And so instead of paying attention to their scenes, you find yourself studying her features and trying to figure out how the hair and make-up people in this movie managed to make her look so dull and lusterless. And then you are blinded by the size of Affleck's forehead again and you forget all about Diane Lane. And suddenly you have an itch to visit the racetrack.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Week 4: Pan's Labyrinth

Sometimes when Grant makes me watch golf or baseball on TV, I'll catch myself actually enjoying it. But then to keep my cover I have to act like I'm miserable so I just roll my eyes and sigh loudly and act like picking lint off the throw pillow is much more interesting than whatever is on TV.

That's exactly what Grant does to me whenever I make him watch a foreign movie with subtitles. Double that when it's a fantasy to boot, like Pan's Labyrinth. For the record, I thought this was a great movie and I thoroughly enjoyed the dual storyline of Ofelia’s real and fantasized worlds.

However, Pan’s Labyrinth caused a serious rift to settle in on the sofa between us. I don't know why, but when I rent a movie, I feel compelled to make sure the people watching it with me like it too. I take it as a personal slight if they don't enjoy it, even if it’s not a great movie. It makes my self-esteem vanish and I feel like the only girl at the dance without a date.

So, to overcompensate, I laugh extra-loud at things that are only moderately funny. I squeeze out real tears at scenes briefly sentimental. I say things like, “Wow, did you see the size of that rose bush in the last scene? Grant? Isn’t that interesting? Have you ever seen such a thing? Man, those blooms had to be six inches. Six inches!”

I knew I was in trouble only moments into Pan’s Labyrinth. Grant left the room after five minutes and spent another ten minutes deciding between a beer or a glass of wine in the kitchen. Next came the yawning. And then he ACTUALLY PICKED UP A BOOK. This is something he never does, so I knew I was doomed.

He settled in on the couch with his book and was asleep within minutes. So I did what I always do when Grant falls asleep during a movie. I find some small object in the room to put up his nose. It can be a paper clip, a leaf pulled off a houseplant or an old potato chip found deep in the couch cushions. Anything will do. The point is to scare him from going back to sleep so I don’t feel all alone.

“Goddamnit, Holly,” he muttered, batting away the nail file I was inching toward his nostril.

“Don’t you like the movie?” I asked sweetly. He rolled his eyes at me and started picking lint off the throw pillow, acting like it was much more interesting than what was on TV.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Week 4: The Queen

I didn't stick around to watch the closing credits of The Queen, but if I had, I'm pretty sure the screenwriter would have been listed as none other than Mister Tony Blair himself. The man is portrayed as an utter sage and saint in this movie, much like I imagine the character of myself to be in my yet-to-be-written-or-filmed biopic entitled simply, "Breathtaking." Working title. I'm open to options.

We liked The Queen well enough and it did a good job of showcasing the everyday version of the queen. We found ourselves fascinated by how surprisingly droll and boring her life is, living under the microscope of tradition and stiff formality as she does. And we were both taken by the fact that she can do ordinary things like drive her own cars and take unescorted walks in the country. Not like our own presidents who presumably don't pee without a secret service agent tapping their weenies for them.

It was all really fascinating. But in the end it was just a backdrop to the movie's portrayal of the second coming of Christ, as played by Tony Blair.

It was downright bizarre. In the first-half of the movie, he plays the bellweather of the country's mood, correctly predicting the error of the Queen's ways in dealing with Princess Diana's death. In the second half, he lashes out at anyone who dares speak ill of the Queen's judgement, rising to her defense in spite of the fact that she was being a complete prat. All along the way, we're treated to flirtatious sparring between him and his razor-sharp wife, along with scenes of Tony as doting dad and beloved boss.

And in the end, surprise, surprise, it is Jesus Christ himself, Tony Blair, who breaks through the Queen's crustacean exterior to soften her up as his friend and confident as no man has before. I don't know why the director of this film felt is necessary to kiss so much Blair behind, but he does it with a marvelous pucker.

I'd give anything to be a fly on the wall of the Queen's bedroom as she and Prince Phillip watched this movie. I like to think they watched it while swilling a big pitcher of boilermakers and throwing dirty socks at the screen. Right before Phillip tossed up the covers and smothered the Queen with one of his patented dutch ovens, shouting, "Take that, guvnah!"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Week 3: Bonus Film: Jesus Camp

I have just two words to describe our reaction to the movie Jesus Camp. . . Jesus Christ.

I should disclaim that neither Grant nor I practice any religion. Instead, on Sunday mornings we practice a religious observation of sausage. Links, patties, German, sweet, Italian or hot, we welcome all kinds at our house of worship. And if enjoying a delicious sausage breakfast isn't a godly experience, then strike me down, god who I don't really believe in anyway.

If you share our religious views or love of sausage, this is just one of those movies that is going to make you feel alternately nauseous and outraged.

It follows a group of brainwashed Oklahoma hill children as they attend an evangelical summer camp. Only at this summer camp instead of learning archery and having their first kisses, they instead learn to speak in tongues and repent for the awful sins they have committed. Their sins? Sporting enormous mullets.

The leader of the camp is a complete lunatic who at one point goes on a hilarious diatribe about the evils of Harry Potter, proclaiming, "if Harry Potter were alive in biblical times, GOD WOULD HAVE KILLED HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Take that, JK Rowling! Some lonely cow in Oklahoma with a frosted tips and a logo'd sweatshirt has the ear of god and she's not taking your crap anymore.

Speaking of the cow with frosted tips, aren't gluttony and vanity sins? Or did that change? No? Oh, well then. I think that's the kind of thing we're not supposed to point out to the righteous chosen ones.

PS: if for no other reason, you have to watch this movie to see the Reverend Ted "Not a Meth-Smoking Secret Gay" Haggard preach to the children about the evils of things such as smoking meth and having secret gay lovers. Priceless.

You evangelicals can keep your god. I've got sausage.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Week 3: The Prestige

Everything is good about this movie except its title. The Prestige. I dare you to say it without speaking in a haughty British accent. It sounds like a new flavor from Fancy Feast cat food. "The Prestige, a special blend of roasted Bavarian ham and Cristal champagne presented in an organic blackberry reduction gelee." Meow.

We almost didn't rent this movie just because the title was so awful. But then someone told me it was a Christopher Nolan film and I almost burned up my keyboard adding it to my Netflix queue. I have never met Christopher Nolan, but I'd really like to get inside his head and tinker around with it for a few hours. I bet it's like visiting a crazy person's attic.

This movie is about two rival magicians who ruthlessly try to destroy one another's careers in the quest for blah, blah, blah, blah. You get the idea. What's more important is that you get to spend a lot of time considering who is creepier: Hugh Jackman or Christian Bale.

Whenever we see Hugh Jackman in a film, Grant and I spend at least ten minutes making fun of his name. "Grant, have you seen my Huge Ackman?" or, "Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or do you just have a Huge Ackman?" Try it, it's fun. He's not really that creepy, but I have a real problem seeing the man who plays Wolverine doing the high-step in gold lame pants during the Tony awards. I'm not questioning anyone's sexuality, I'm just saying it makes a girl think.

Now onto Christian Bale. I don't know what it is about him, but he gives me the heebie-jeebies. I think it's because he has small teeth that point back towards his tongue. LIKE MUSKRAT TEETH. I imagine him licking his teeth with his tongue and making little rodent sucking sounds. And I find it creepy. He was great in Batman but in every other role he's just so needy and drab. I can take him or leave him.

Anyway, we both liked this movie and it had some good twists, although for the most part you can see them coming. I predicted the twin thing about thirty minutes in, which probably makes me a hero somewhere. Michael Caine is also in the movie, playing the same role he plays in every movie. Seeing him on screen is like stumbling upon a comfortable old slipper. Pleasant but familiar.

I'd write more but I just saw a Huge Ackman out the window.
Man, that never gets old.

Week 3: The Motel

I think every indy movie can generally be categorizes in one of three ways:

1. Immaculate. Your life will be improved by watching this movie.

2. Horrible. A complete, dismal waste of time with a lot of cheap art house innuendo. For some reason you feel like smoking filterless cigarettes and reading Proust after watching this movie.

3. Feels sort of hazy and disjointed and ultimately uninterersting and makes me wish I would have rented Spaceballs instead because this movie is mopey and dramatic and I've had enough already.

The Motel fits into the latter category. Do I really need to know what it feels like to be a lonely, horny Chinese-American boy cleaning up dirty sheets in a seedy motel? Not really. So rather than tell you any more about this movie, I thought I'd tell you what I did during this movie instead:

1. Plucked my eyebrows.
2. Did sit-ups with my legs propped up on the coffee table.
3. Ate a Reese's Cup after the sit-ups. I've earned it, right?
4. Paid my mortgage bill.
5. Peeled the shells off some hard-boiled eggs I made earlier in the day.
6. Rolled my eyes repeatedly at the screen.

It's just one of those movies that isn't necessarily awful but is totally forgettable, unless you are a lonely, horny Chinese-American boy. I'm sure the studio executives were really thrilled with the mass-marketing possibilities for this one.