Monday, July 31, 2006

Are We Born Pirates or Do We Become Pirates?

When it comes to the spirituality and philiosophy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest seems to ask one major question (which the fact that it ask one question at all is fairly impressive since I don't think too highly of Jerry Bruckheimer films)

But the question that it asks is are we by nature pirates.

Or rather, are we good people who do bad things or bad people are capable of doing good. This question is definitly pondered in the Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) characters.

Although the film ponders the idea, by the end it doesn't seem to offer any resolve to this thought, but allows for the possibility of both.

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Jake Wants to Livestrong

Apparently Jake Gyllenhaal stalkers have seen Jake riding around on his bike a lot recently, traveling to France to watch the Tour de France, and hanging out with Lance Armstrong.

Could these random occurances be connected?

Well apparently Sony is planning on doing a Lance Armstrong bio-pic, and Jake Gyllenhaal wants the part.

A Lance Armstrong story would be an interesting one, being that Armstrong has not only won the Tour de France 7 consecutive times (1999-2005) but his personal story is also one that is filled with triumph and defeat.

Armstrong's battle with testicular cancer (that spread to his lungs and brain) serves as a strong backdrop to a story that suddenly becomes much more than a sports story.

I don't know if Sony would include it in the film, but I think the Nike Partnership with 10/2 and the Lance Armstrong Foundation also make for an interesting story.

I would also wonder if they would include the allogations that Lance had used performance enhancing drugs in the Song bio-pic?

Anyways, it's an interesting thought, and Jake Gyllenhaal seems to want the role bad, especially for all the bike riding and traveling he's been doing.(via)

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Harry Potter: Nude, Off The Shelf, and Night Shy

1. Daniel Radcliffe to perform nude on London Stage.
Recently-turned 17 year old Daniel Radcliffe, star of the J. K. Rawlings Harry Potter film series will appear naked in the stage version of Equus next march.

The play Equus is about a boy who blinds six horses with a metal spike.

According to the Associated Press: "In one scene the actor playing Strang is required to simulate sexual ecstasy while riding a horse naked." (via)

2. Get your Harry Potter DVD's while You Can

Just like Disney does with their animated films, Warner Bros. is pulling Harry Potter DVD's off the shelf to be sold only at designated times.

Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban will all be pulled off the shelf December 29th of this year. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire will be pulled February 9, 2007. (via)

3. M Night Shymalan and Harry Potter

Apparently M. Night Shymalan was offered the directing position of the first Harry Potter film, but turned it down to do Unbreakable.

Since then there has been talk of M. Night Shymalan directing one of the last two Harry Potter Films for Universal, but M. Night Shymalan seems hesitant of doing a film that is part of a pre-established series as well as a book adaptation. (via)

I am very curious to what my friends Grete and Allison big Harry Potter Lovers think of these Potter tidbits.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Will Breaking & Entering Break-in?

Question: Will the film Breaking and Entering be An Academy Awards Big Dog this year?

Minghella as Director
I have enjoyed Anthony Minghella's last three feature length films: The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Cold Mountain.

The Academy has loved this films with 12 noms (9 wins), 5 nominations, 7 nominations (1 win), respectively.

This track record, leads me to believe that the film Breaking and Entering has a chance of getting some Oscar attention this upcoming year (even if it does not receive a best picture nod).

Cast and Academy Track Record
The film stars Jude Law (2 time nominee, for The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain) and Juliette Binoche (2 time nominee winner for The English Patient). The film also stars Vera Farmiga (who between this film and the Departed I feel like is destined for some critical props come year end).

(Vera Farmiga is pictured bottom right)

The Story Concept
"A young Muslim thief breaks into the office of a yuppie architect in London, afterwards the architect re-evaluates his life. A series of related events intersects the lives of the two men with a variety of other people in the seedy inner-city area of Kings Cross" (via)

Does this not sound a little like Crash...will the story be too similar to garner academy award attention?

Expectations
More than anything I hope this film is entertaining, as I enjoyed Minghella's other three films, I hope to enjoy this one as well. I imagine there will be at least a couple acting nominations (maybe Binoche and Farmiga), and Gabriel Yared I am sure will probably get a nomination for his score for this film, as he has been nominated for his previous work. Who knows as far as the production side goes? But at this point I would venture to say it is not a best picture nominee for this upcoming year.

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The Joker: Are you Joking?

According to the Latino Review, Heath Ledger is apparently been offered to star as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins.

(The Latino Review broke the story that Brandon Routh would play the part of Superman, so that gives some validity to this breaking story).

Also, I read awhile back that Michael Caine in talking about the film, called Batman Begins 2, "The Joker."

I like that title, and think it's more suiting than something long like "Batman Begins Again" or "Batman Begins: United."

For a previous discussion on this film check out the post The Joker and Batman Begins 2.

Sorry Jordan, I know you were hoping Paul Bettany would get the role, and you even mentioned Bettany's role in A Knight's Tale, I guess we were just thinking about the wrong Knight's tale character.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mysteries of Kavalier, the Dwarfs and the Simpsons

Last month I posted about Michael Chabon posted about how it appeared that Michael Chabon's pulitzer prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay appeared that it hopefully would be coming out of limbo and made into a film.

Chabon posted on his blog that "a budget and cast and everything, will be decided on or around 12 July 2006." Mr. Chabon weeks have past, and I've been hoping to find more information, and there's no information.

Yet in this time I have heard announcements that make it sound pretty certain that Chabon's first novel The Mysteries of Pittsburg will be made in the film to be released in the 2007. This novel does not have the finesse of some of Chabon other books but it's an interesting character study, although often times a little risque.

Mysteries of Pittsburg will be directed and written by Rawson Marshall Thurber (the same person who wrote and directed the Dodgeball movie) and it is set to star Max Minghella (son of Anthony Minghella and getting some juicy parts all of the sudden), Peter Sarsgaard (a great underapprecaited actor, but I wonder why they keep on casting this 35 year old as someone much younger), and Sienna Miller.

Also Michael Chabon is one of the writeres for a martial arts fantastasy film directed by Woo-ping Yuen...the film is called Snow and the Seven. The verdicts still out on how I feel about this one.

Also, Cincinatti Post announced yesterday some of voices for the 18th season of the Simpsons and listed among the guest appearance is Michael Chabon...kind of random choice if you ask me.

Also mentioned in the 18th season of the Simpsons are Natalie Portman, Keifer Sutherland, the White Stripes (as themselves when Bart organizes a benefit concert), Dr. Phil McGraw (in the halloween episode, perhaps the scariest one ever if Dr. Phil's in it), Joe Mantegna (reprising the role of Fat Tony), Joe Pantoliano (Tony's Thug), Michael Imperioli (Tony's other thug), Fran Drescher (also in the Halloween episode with Dr. Phil), Richard Lewis, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, and Jonathan Franzen. (via)

But how about the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay...when will we see that?

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Wedding Cake, Part 3 (the conclusion)

In Wedding Cake, Part 1 I discussed the pain at which my wife and I went to preserving our wedding cake for our one year wedding anniversary.

In Wedding Cake, Part 2 I discussed the trip to my sisters wedding this past weekened and how much we enjoyed her cake and the transportation of our cake topper.

On the morning of our anniversary we left the hotel we were staying at and traveled about 60 miles to Colorado Springs were we would spend our first anniversary with various adventures (Cave of the Winds, Garden of the Gods, and Seven Falls).

For the majority of the day our cake was sitting in the cooler with the ice I had put in from the hotel the night before.

When we checking in to the hotel, it was time to check in on the cake. The ice had melted, no surprise, but when I picked up the cake it was extra heavy.

The water had melted and absorbed into the box.

My wife and I laughed -- We knew it, we had ruined our wedding cake on the very last day of our first year of marriage. After 355 days of having to care for this cake, the annoying box that took up our whole refrigerator had turned into a wet soppy mess.

I set the box on the patio of the hotel room for it to leak away while I called down to room service for 2 plates and 2 sets of silverware. Our curiousity would no longer allow us to wait.

I laid out a towel on the table and my wife and I began using the knifes to cut through the plastic, and our hands could easily tear open the wet saturated cardboard.

After peeling back the aluminum foil we were surprised to discover that the very inside layer of plastic seemed dry and as carefully as I could ripped open that last layer and dipped my finger in the frosting and offered it up to my wife.

I could tell by her smile that it tasted good and we finished peeling off the exterior and cut a piece.

Probably no more than two millimeters of the bottom were a little extra moist and the rest was perfect.

"This taste like something they could sell at the store and no one would know the difference," my wife said.

I agreed.

We were a little surprised when we cut into the cake that it was regular vanilla cake since we thought it was almond poppyseed, but it was delicious.

My wife didn't particularly care for the concept of eating year-old cake, so after a few bites she was finished.

But I enjoyed much of the cake over the next two days and was so pleased it wasn't dry, nor did it taste like dog food, nor did get ruined by the elements.

What a delicious success.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My First In-Depth Experience with Anne Lamott

Like any word or thing, when someone says they are a Christian, you are bound to have a certain perception of who they are or what they believe. Living in the middle of America, a voice like Anne Lamott, the famous author is a very different voice.

Traveling late at night to my home and my sister's wedding I listened to an audio book of Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith read by the author Anne Lamott.

Famous by now, Lamott, at the time she writes this has recently turned 50, raising a 15 year old son alone, struggling with forgiveness after the death of her mother, and is deeply distressed over the actions of President George W. Bush.

Lamott writes in this book many of her current thoughts on faith and life as a Liberal Presbyterian growing up in the bay area of California.

Lamott is different from an evangelical Christian because she believes that a loving God surely would want everyone to go to heaven, but is very critical of those who do not give to the poor, help the needy, and reach out to these who are struggling in tough times.

Her writing style is absolutely fantastic, and hearing her read her work is very fascinating because the things she talks about are so personal (like putting on wait in her menopausal years and the boredom which she often has experienced in raising her son Sam).

I certainly did not agree with everything Lamott had to say about God and Jesus, but I could still listen and pick out parts of wisdom and understanding she had picked up along her own travels. She reminds us that God loves all people, and that everyone is in need of forgiveness and what we have to offer them, she also reminds us that life is too short to wear uncomfortable pants and that parents get angry with their children because we are naturally angry people and children are some of the few people we can exercise control over and sometimes people do.

There is a refreshingly honest quality that Lamott brings in her book as a democratic dreadlock-wearing, former drug using, sexually active, sing mother, cussing writer who occasionally preaches when her pastor Vernonica is not able to preach.

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Biblical Horror

After two roles of a liife time (Million Dollar Baby, and Boy's Don't Cry) Hilary Swank has nowhere to go now but down I suppose.

One of Swank's next movie will be The Reaping, a biblical horror film coming out this november. This film deals with Swank's character, a former missionary who after the death of her family struggles with God and comes to the conclusion that God does not exist and all his miracles can be explained away in a scientific way.

It is for these convictions she gets pulled into a small Louisianna town when it appears that they are experiencing the 10 plagues in their own time.

If you watch the preview for this film (linked here) you will see that this film begins to look real ridiculous when the horror element is thrown in with what looks like a small girl playing the child of Satan who appears to be causing the plagues to happen ("Evil has a Savior" is the last thing they say in the preview).

Also, this film officially has the worse tagline of any movie I can remember...it's long and incredibly wordy. Do they really need to use the word bizarre? I understand plot-wise why they would say "many believed to have been the Ten Biblical Plauges" but come on, it's a tagline.

The film is directed by Stephen Hopkins who directed and produced many episodes in the first season of 24 and the highly acclaimed television film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. The film is written by Carey Hayes and Chad Hayes the writing team who's most well known credit is the recent horror film House of Wax.

Swank has a triple play of film coming out this fall/winter with The Black Dahlia in September, The Reaping in November, and Freedom Writeres in January.

First aware of this film and it's tagline from Stale Popcorn.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wedding Cake, Part 2


In the post Wedding Cake, Part 1 I discussed how the past year of idle waiting the topper to my wife and I's wedding cake has been forced to undergo as well as the multi-layered, multi-medium wrapping that took place.
The cake made the successful almost 1000 mile journey with no problem and the defrosting process seemed to be beginning. Upon arrival at my parents house I transferred it to the micro-fridge in my parents basement.

Perhaps in this update it is an appropriate time to post a picture of our wedding cake. (It is posted to the right). The four layers have small miniature flowers on the sides with beaded piping around the edges and is adorned with live Gerber daisies (my wife's favorite flower).

I love cake, and so I was very excited the enjoy fresh wedding cake at my sister's wedding on Saturday. Like my wife and I, her cake had different flavors on different layers. I had a slice of almond poppyseed with raspberry (my favorite) as well as a slice of classic white with white frosting.

My sister's beautiful wedding cake is pictured at left with live roses, her favorite flower.

And although the catering company removed the top of her cake and boxed it up separately, the bakery my sister and her husband used have a special deal were they give you a small cake on your one year anniversary so they don't have to contend with the cake toping challenge.

After the wedding reception we hung out with our large family (bride and groom excluded of course), and after the party ended my wife and I left to begin our anniversary trip. We loaded up the cake from my parents refrigerator and returned it to the cooler and trekked it with us inside of the hotel.

And we had waited long enough, I was set on waiting one more day until our actual anniversary. Being resourceful I added a bucket of ice to the cooler to help keep the wrapped cake topper cool.

Stayed tuned for the conclusion to the 1 year old wedding cake saga.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Church Sign #17

Is this sign describing the pastor or alerting us to the topic of next weeks sermon?



Haven't posted one of these for awhile. See actual church signs that make you laugh or say "hum" then snap a picture and e-mail them to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Dakota Fanning's Controversial Content in Hounddog

I looked at my blog stats today and was very surprised to see an unusual amount of google hits, most of which were people searching something to the effect of "Dakota Fanning Hounddog."

All of these google searches are being directed to my post about the movie Hounddog. Hounddog is a movie where a young girl (Fanning) overcomes the side effects of sexual abuse by singing and dancing like Elvis.

Well obviously this is a gutsy role for Fanning, the 12-year-old girl who seems as though she could do it all...BUT there is new controversy.

According to Cinematical there are some heavy hitting scenes in this film where Dakota Fanning is "raped in one explicit scene and to appear naked or clad only in 'underpants' in several other horrifying moments."

Apparently, this has caused some of the financial backers to pull their money from the film, but the film is still pressing forward. This certainly is no Charlotte's Web or Dreamer.

It seems like their pushing Fanning into gutsy roles to shape her image into a quality actress not just a cutsy kid-star. I would think that her acceptance into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) earlier in July probably helped cement that impression (note: the 12 year old can't even see rated R movies, who will she vote for Academy Award winners?)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wedding Cake, Part 1

I am so excited for this weekend. My sister is getting married and the day after that will my wife and I's first anniversary.

We are leaving soon and I just put the top tier of my wife and I's wedding cake in the cooler to move almost 1000 miles as we travel to my sisters wedding.

I love wedding cake and feel very fortunate that if our top tier is bad, then at least we got to have wedding cake the day before at my sister's wedding.

But I so desperatly hope that our 1 year old left over wedding cake is good. Our top tier was almond poppyseed with raspberry filling (I think). The first picture above is from almost 12 months ago when I wrapped the cake myself in multiple layers of plastic wrap, masking tape, multiple layers of aluminum, masking tape, a homemade box of cardboard, plastic wrap, and another round of tape.

The second picture shows how much space it took up in our refrigerator and the final picture is the cake in the cooler prepared to make it's trek. Wish the cake luck, and I'll report on it's taste next week.

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Burning is Important to Consumers

In early April I did a post where I mentioned that CinemaNow.com and Movielink were beginning to offer legal downloadable movies for sale.

In April when these sites started movies cost $20-27 a piece and could only be played on a computer or by hooking a computer up directly to a TV.

Well Today the LA Times reports that CinemaNow Inc. has worked with the studios and developed anti-piracy technology that will allow users to burn a copy of the film from their computer to a DVD so that they can watch it on any DVD player. Not just that but the price has dropped to $9.

But because this service is new Cinema Now is offering some not-quite-new-releases first to test the integrity of the anti-piracy software, these include Charlies Angles: Full Throttle, Barbershop, and Scent of a Woman.

Thanks Jon for sending this link my way.

*Post Title: "Burning is important to consumers" -Rick Finkelstein, Universal Pictures Vice Chairman

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Speaking of Hotstuff (In Memory of Mr. Squirrel)

Speaking of the-movie-formerly-known-as-Hotstuff (Catch a Fire), I think it's about time we reflect on the weather.

Sure others might do that by discussing global warming, and you might even be expecting me to give it a film angle, and start discussing An Inconvenient Truth or The Day After Tomorrow but I have some other thoughts in mind.

Rather I want to pay homage to a special friend that I never had a chance to meet...I never knew his name, but he was a happy squirrel I'm sure. My only encounter with him was the other night when my wife and I were walking and there it was, the dead squirrel that had passed out due to presumed heat stroke (although some suspect heat induced suicide).

In honor of that dead squirrel, I wanted to reflect on some thoughts about heat.

I wanted to think about 1988 the year the Super Soaker 50 came out. Granted, The Super Soaker 100 and 200 followed afterwards, among with others, but the world of water guns was never the same again. Once again, the science of pressure is put to use with this genius invention. I loved my Super Soaker 50.

I also remember a good friends Mission: Impossible Birthday Party in College which ended in a giant water balloon fight.

But Mr. Squirrel, I realize your quest, obscene heat can real danger. In fact, my good friend Bennett posted earlier in the year about how peace could be achieved through the implementation of world wide air conditioning. Granted, there are challenges to be overcome but as Bennett put in such patriotic words: "Let's turn down the thermostat on violence. Let's freeze out terror, and blow air not bombs."

Perhaps Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not realize the power of temperatures over tempers, as he ordered thermostats to be set to 78 degrees in state buildings. I guess better safe then sorry, loss of power could cause a loss of cool...and we'd hate to see people in California get to hot...remember the LA riots?

Although this could be the year of Vermont riots because there they've been told to keep the thermostat at 80 degrees.

But even though I get the pleasure of air conditioned buildings, Mr. Squirrel, I feel your pain, I drove by the bank in the late afternoon and the thermometer read 108 degrees. How can we stand it.

Well, I encourage us to draw inspiration from possibly my favorite movie, In America. Do you remember the scene where Paddy Considine goes through all the obstacles to get the air conditioner up to the top of his apartment building to help cool down his family. What a great image of love and a true understanding of the power of cool temperatures.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Will Catch A Fire Be Hotstuff?

In 2002 Phillip Noyce directed two of my favorite films, The Quiet American (a unique Vietnam war movie staring Michael Caine and Brendon Fraser) and Rabbit-Proof Fence (a moving film about 3 girls who trek across the Australian Outback for their own personal freedom).

Noyce's 2002 stories dealt with socio-political issues, and so it is not surprising that his most recent project Catch A Fire (formerly called Hotstuff) deals with such issues in Apartheid-era South Africa.

Catch a fire stars Tim Robbins as a South African policeman and tells the story of his Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke) as Robbins character investigates Chamusso and his family.

This film comes out later this year (limited release in October) and it seems like this political thriller has some potential to capture some raw emotions and bring to life a picture of what was going on in 1980s South Africa.

At this point in the year, no one really seems to be talking about it, but if this movie is intriguing and powerful it certainly could receive some award buzz by year end.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Gnarly=Beyond the Extreme

For the past couple of weeks I've been enjoying the Gnarls Barkley CD St. Elsewhere.

Not everyone enjoys this CD as much as I do. I'm not the underground hip-hop type, or even the type of person to get too excited about main-stream hip-hop groups like the Black Eyed Peas.

I enjoy most of the songs on the album, except for "The Boogie Monster" (because it's creepy).

But my favorite song has got to be the first track "Go-Go-Gadget Gospel" because just as Ray Charles used Gospel roots in his music so have they in this song, as well as other tracks on the album. (Even though my wife thought it sounded like I was listening to tejano music when she heard me listening to this track for the first time.)

Just one little note of importance, as I've mentioned Gnarls Barkley some people recognize the name and even associate it with a few songs, (namely "Crazy.") But most people say things like "I like his music," or something like that. BUT Granles Barkley is namely two people...Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo (pictured to the left).

This is the type of CD, I can play and just listen to, I think it's a whole lot of fun.

Update: Paula has drawn my attention to a Gnarls Barkley contest online put on by Fluevog Shoes, were you'd win an iPod, Gnarls Apperal and a $200 gift card. Check out the contest here.


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Foxx and The Power of Duff

Jamie Foxx has gotten his fair share of talk on Strange Culture, but his new project does not seem very Foxx-like.

He will be Producing a new film for Universal called The Power of Duff about a "TV news anchor who after the death of his father begins praying aloud for things to happen while reading the evening news. When his prayers start coming true, it ignites controversy about whether he's a prophet, a pundit or a charlatan." (Reuters)

Apparently, Ron Howard has been in talks to direct, and both Tom Hanks and Russel Crowe have been in talks to star at different points.

Hum? Not really sure what to make of this project?

Thanks to Peter for alerting me to this news.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ellen Ripstein Responds on StrangeCulture

Ellen You're The Coolest.

Besides the fact that you are so smart, you have a funny sense of humor, and can do crossword puzzles as fast as it takes most people to play Tic-Tac-Toe...you are also cool because you've commented on StrangeCulture!

Kimberly Ann and JW had made a few comments about Ellen's performance in the documentary Wordplay after I posted about the film. And lo and behold, Ellen Ripstein herself commented on the blog post saying:

"Thanks for being so open about the movie. Yes it's true, a crossword movie can be fun.

I didn't feel condescended to. That's just me in all my natural awkwardness."

I wonder if Kimberly Ann feels guilty that in her post she called Ellen geeky? (Although she also credits Ellen with the best quote of the whole movie).

Thanks Ellen for visiting StrangeCulture.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Jamie Foxx's Big Head


If Memoirs of a Geisha taught us about female-power-struggles, then the male crew of Miami Vice can teach us about Male-Power-struggles.

Jim alerted be to this Slate article where it talks about Jamie Foxx's big head he had on the set Miami Vice set. Foxx had signed to work with Michael Mann on Miami Vice just before he won his academy award for Ray.

Well apparently that's all he needed to get a big head.

He requested his own private jet, he asked for money (because originally Colin Farrell was making more money).

And the worse of it, was that Michael Mann had to changing the ending of the film, which was supposed to be shot in Paraguay...but Foxx refused to exit the country when he heard about a shooting in the Dominican Republic.

Who is this gold digga'?

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Meryl's 14th nomination in 2006

With 13 nominations, where will Meryl Streep's 14th academy award nomination come from.

The most nominated actress (Katherine Hepburn received 12 nominations), the appropriate question is not will Meryl Streep get an Oscar nod this year. Rather we should ask, for which film she will receive the nomination.

(Remember, Streep got a nomination in 2000's Music of the Heart, they'll nominate her for anything)

Obviously it's not for playing Queen Ant in the animated film The Ant Bully, but both A Prairie Home Companion and The Devil Wears Prada seem viable choices.

My guess is that Streep will score her 14th nomination this year for her work in a Prairie Home Companion. Being a Robert Altman picture and his films frequently pave the way for supporting roles nominations.

My previous post on a Prairie Home Companion can be found here.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Square Fillers: War vs. Play

Sometimes I'm wrong.
In my summer movie preview I included the movie Warplay as one of the vomit-enducing films of summer.
My reason for not being excited about Wordplay was because: "After I saw Word Wars the documentary about crazy scrabble obsessed people, I'm afraid to see a documentary so soon about Crossword Puzzles."

But yet as I said, I was wrong.

The other night we went and saw the film with some friends, and I found Wordplay to be a very enjoyable documentary.

After seeing Word Wars I did a post about documentaries. I said: "A documentary is valuable if it tells an important story, one your very interested in, or one that connects to you in a way that helps you understand the world."

To me, Word Wars failed at that, because it was far more bizarre than intriguing and told an odd story of some unique people that gave up everything to try to be Scrabble masters.

Wordplay (the crossword documentary) was different in this way. While some of the characters in this film are a little bizarre and incredibly dorky it paints a behind the scenes picture of how crossword puzzles are made and chosen. The players who compete while wierd, still are more relatable, just a little obsessed, but you can see how they are roped into the crossword puzzle culture.

Also, the documentary Wordplay paints a wider picture of crossword puzzles by showing how pop-culture and political icons like Jon Steward, Bill Clinton, and the Indigo Girls have slight obsessions with crossword puzzles. These interviews help the legitimize the film.

In addition, director Patrick Creadon the director and cinemotographer for Wordplay did a great job using graphics and interesting production techniques to tell the story and bring the viewer into the crossword puzzle word, connecting them to a small black and white checkered puzzle.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Linklater: Substance D and Mickey D's

Yesterday NPR interviewed Richard Linklater on Fresh Air about his new movie A Scanner Darkly.

It's a fun interview because they play a clip from the movie, talk about the decision about how they portray the drug (Substance D) in Phillip K. Dick's story.

They talk about how drugs are perceived, and even people who have died because of drugs. It sort of made me think, if this film will be viewed as an anti-drug movie looking at the tradgedies of those who die young because of substance abuse.

It is interesting to hear Linklater talk about how Dick's daughters were very protective of the film because there mother and father both have their own drug past.

He also talks about the upcoming film Fast Food Nation coming out in October. (The film premiered at Cannes film festival). I knew this movie was based on Eric Schlosser's best selling non-fiction work. So it was interesting to hear Linklater talk about how he and Eric discussed and decided to make this film. Especially since it sounds like there are some very unique angels to the fast food industry that are covered.

NPR's Terry Gross ask if Linklater purposely tries to capture the Zietgist of the time with stories that connect to the times (like School of Rock) and Linklater responds that he's trying to create things that will resonate for ages and be things that he personally is touched by. (They actually discuss a good amount of time about why Linklater was attracted to School of Rock and how he conencted to Jack Black's character).

Terry Gross actually also questions (almost attacks) Linklater for why with his extensive knowledge he would re-shoot Bad News Bears.

If you listen to the interview note that it is just over 20 minutes long.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Fast Food: Diet Pepsi and Eggs

The unforunate Diet Pepsi Experience
Today, my wife and I met up for lunch at Taco Bell. When she filled up her plastic cup with Diet Pepsi, and we enjoyed our lunch together.

As she was almost finished with her drink she looked up at me.

"There's Something black floating in my drink," she said.

She reached into her glass and pulled out the black spickett from the machine.

Apparently it had fallen off when she was filling up her glass.

We went up to counter where the minimum wage employee took the spickett somewhat confused. And minutes later when we left the spickett was back on the machine.

Did they wash it? Sanitize it? etc. My wife's backwash and who knows what else is on that...how gross.

The Grocery Store Arrest
Heard this story from a student about their weekend.

A couple girls were out on the town on a weekend evening and decided they were going to egg "a friends" house.

Yet they didn't have any money with them and one girl told the other to wait with her because she was going to steal some eggs.

How do you steal eggs from the grocery store? Well she had a plan.

She filled up her empty Sonic drink cup with eggs, and as she was leaving was caught by police who gave her a $500 ticket.

Those will hopefully be the most expensive eggs she ever buys.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Community: Sustainable Relationships On TV


In a recent post about community I looked at how film typically often show people entering into meaningful relationships with one another through shared space, shared mission, or shared relationships. But I also point out in this post that very few films hinge their plots around the concept of sustainable relationship.

But even after making my list of cartoons yesterday I began to think about how the smurfs and the scooby-doo gang show the concept of sustainable relationships more than any movie I can think of. Because you see, the plot style of television really allows for a demonstration of sustainable relationships. It's not just about shared mission, shared space, and shared relationships, it's about shared life.

Whether it's Saved By The Bell, Frasier, Beverly Hills: 90210, or Seinfeld television is filled with good examples and bad examples of people living in community. Relationships are formed but the emphasis is not on the formation of friendships, but the deepening of relationships in community.

Just think about the television show friends. There relationships were not static, there were times when Monica and Rachel were closer than other times, and times when Phoebe and Ross did and did not get along. There were stories about cooperation, and working things out together. And the depth of their relationships grew. Remember the first episodes when Rachel really was forced to have a life change from the wealthy life she was set to live with her fiance. Who did she rely on? Her friends. And those relationships changed and developed over time.

I'm usually a movie person far more then television, but when it comes to looking at sustainable relationships. Television offers infinite more examples.

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