Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Usually when I try to guess or ask who will play certain film roles, it seems like it takes forever to find out.
But not so in this case.
I proposed that the title role would need to go to an actor who was as big a celeb as Johnny Depp and had to have a clearly masculine Paul Newman-esque charm.
I believe Jerry Bruckheimer found that in signing up George Clooney to play the part of The Lone Ranger. (Congrats to Um Naief for predicting Clooney earlier in the comments)
Let's just hope Clooney isn't as cheesy as he was in his other masked role as Batman.
Oliver Stone's film Wall Street was released 20 years ago and in the plot Charlie Sheen's character Bud Fox creates an archetype for the young stock broker that fits your perfect stereotype of the young guy who will do anything to get to the top.
In fact getting to the top at any cost is a Wall Street characteristic that shows up in other recent films like The Pursuit of Happyness, Boiler Room, or A Good Year. Most of the time, these "Wall Street stereotypes" will get to the top at any cost.
Obviously, when investors are playing games with other people's money, its scary and dangerous. Especially over the past couple of decades more and more people have their retirement and savings accounts tied up in the ever growing pool of investment funds....whether through 401ks, mutual funds, or other investment options.
The one thing that has been crazy for me to hear over the past couple weeks with these crazy and unsettling financial times is the criticism that politicians and individuals have towards businesses and the risky behavior. I don't know if people are unaware but American financial culture is not one that is risk adverse. In fact, I would say America's financial and economic history is filled with risk, whether you're talking about the Pilgrims, the gold rush, the railroad tycoons, or those people who created online websites for people to buy dog food or groceries over the Internet.
Back in June I shared some ideas from Daniel Gross' book Pop: Why Bubbles are Great for the Economy. Gross' 2007 book finds some silver lining in bubbles of the past as well as spends some time suggesting the benefits of our current real estate struggle as well as predicts the next bubble to grow (and pop)...the energy bubble.
I certainly would love to hear Gross continue the conversation as the real estate bubble's pop has continued to spiral out of control and spread into other areas of the economy, in ways the fiber-optic bubble did not.
Yet...I still find it so odd to hear so much criticism about investors taking greedy risk. Isn't that in part the role of the investor?
I think one of the dangers is that so many of these investors have gotten so big and powerful that there power supersedes the power and reach of government in many instances...and as a result we begin to superimpose a moral standard for these corporations. If you want to get real fired up about the danger of the modern corporation, may I recommend the documentary The Corporation, were we are reminded that much of the function behind the corporation is to free people from having a moral obligation in the professional actions.
I don't really know how this all shakes out. I certainly wonder what role these days and weeks we have seen and are seeing play out in the big picture. But one thing I do know...this is history before our eyes. Politically, economically, socially, culturally...the world is changing and there will be many books, thoughts and perspectives on what is happening in our world over these days. This is the stuff of American History exams of the future.
And I can't help but think...whatever happens on Wall Street and with business I hope that Americans don't become risk averse, because I feel like if there is anything that distinguishes Americans is that they are often independent risk takers...and sure Americans and American businesses make lots of mistakes, but I think we also succeed and have found ourselves in these risk.
When Charlie Sheen brings down Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in the movie Wall Street, Sheen is laying it all out on the line, his career, his freedom, and his previous hopes and dreams. Yet, he counts the cost and brings down Gordon Gekko at his own game...sure the securities and exchange commission play a role in the final outcome, but Charlie Sheen doesn't take these risks with regret, but in the full knowledge of the consequences.
America has succeeded and seen prosperity in their risky and entrepreneurial behavior. We cannot take the good without also being willing to take the consequences, and to blame business for moral hazard is a little silly to me.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
In honor of the great performer, I thought I would pay homage with a Paul Newman Top 5 Performances (there really are so many great ones to chose from):
5. The Verdict (1982)
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
3. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
2. The Sting (1973)
1. The Road to Perdition (2002)
I encourage you to post your own Newman top 5 as well in the comments or on your own blog.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Which leads me to ask...who will play the Lone Ranger?
If this was going to be a quality well made/well acted film...I know who I would want to play The Lone Ranger...Jon Hamm, star of AMC's award winning show Mad Men. He has the allure of a masculine all American hero of the West, with intrigue, mysterious behavior, and strength.
But, if I know Jerry Bruckheimer (which I don't personally...but who's work I couldn't completly avoid even if I tried to)...I imagine that Bruckheimer will want a name he can write in really big letters on that movie poster...a bankable box office name to accompany Johhny Depp.
It's a tricky role to fill, because the strong male Paul Newman-esque actors are less common these days then the Ben Stillers, Jack Black or Matthew McConaughey.
Since the role probably wouldn't work for the very bankable Will Smith, I think he'll chose someone like Mark Wahlberg.
Other options I could see is Eric Bana or Aaron Eckhart, but there names just don't seem big enough.
Any suggestions or predictions for who will play the Lone Ranger?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Who is being casted...
But of course, Johnny Depp.
Who else would you cast if it's an iconic character with a funny costume?
In fact, Johnny Depp will also be reprising his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (why not...the money is surely there)
Apparently the news broke at a Disney event today at the Kodak theater. And I'm sure hearing the news people were excited...it's sure to have a lot of energy to it...Bruckheimer & Depp working together in a project sure to have a huge budget, lots of marketing, and plenty of product tie-ins (McDonald's Toys, Candy, Halloween Costumes, etc.)
I like Johnny Depp, and think his work in pirates is actually pretty amazing, and totally deserving of his Academy Award nomination for the first film, but...how about more Finding Neverland type roles, and a few less Willy Wonka roles.
UPDATE: Depp is not playing the Lone Ranger, he's playing TONTO. See the correction post here.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Those side by side pictures can be seen here.
But my greatest concern over this movie initially was that the history was too recent, and especially in his final term as president, in an election year, I just didn't think this has huge long-term success potential.
While it'll be intersted to see how Josh Brolin's performance is perceived, I think this film is going to miss out on covering a huge part of Bush's presidency...called 2008!
I think that years from now when history books of 2025 are written, the history books will largely talk about the decisions made in the economic realm and the decisions made by Henry Paulson, the treasury secretary.
It's too bad that Paulson will likely not be included as a character in the movie. And even worse that Henry Paulson will not be played by Terry O' Quinn (John Locke's of Lost fame).
I have posted a pictures of the two men. First Paulson, and then O'Quinn. Not only is the look similar but Locke's Lost and Alias mannerism would work great in a role of this nature. Hey Stone how about a movie about Henry Paulson?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Many of the best actor contenders are playing bio pic roles this year, which gives them an extra boost...but like most years, as time progresses new names and new films start to pop up on the list (Mickey Rourke, Clint Eastwood), while early contenders seem like distant memories (Hugh Jackman in Australia, Ralph Fiennes in The Reader).
One of the biggest changes in the Oscar landscape recently has been the discovery that Robert Downey Jr.'s role in The Soloist, probably places him in the lead category, with Jamie Foxx's role going supporting. With the success of Downey's other roles (Iron Man, Tropic Thunder) this more prestige role seems like something that might give Oscar a reason to give him some love.
I have long thought that this year belongs to Frank Langella, and these September predictions still place him in the top 5, and unless America gets politiced out by Oscar time, I think his performance as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon will put him in position for Oscar gold.
Without further ado...my September Best Actor Academy Award predictions...
- Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
- Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
- Robert Downey Jr., The Soloist
- Sean Penn, Milk
- Benicio Del Toro, Che/The Argentine
8 Other names I wanted to included on the top 5 list...
- Leonardo Dicaprio, Revolutionary Road
- Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
- Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
- Viggo Mortensen, The Road
- Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
- Daniel Craig, Defiance
- Peter O'Toole, Dean Spanley
Names I could have included, but just can't see making the cut in a crowded year include Hugh Jackman (Australia), Josh Brolin (W), Will Smith (7 Pounds), Liam Neeson (The Other Man), Brendon Gleeson (Churchill at War), Leonardo DiCaprio (Body of Lies).
Friday, September 19, 2008
For the third weekend in a row, important politicians and business men meet, discuss, and determine the course of our country out of our emergency need for action...with big announcements unveiled between the stock market bells Friday afternoon and Monday morning.
I strongly believe in the role of the government to help control the financial stability of America. Every country has that responsibility to it's citizens in the way it controls the flow of money, taxes, and access to a federal funds and banking.
Yet, America's 20th century history moved our nation for a country that was isolated in world affairs, to a country that became heavily involved in world affairs as we sought to encourage free enterprise and capitalism within a democratic and politically free society.
How long has the ethos of our politics, and the American academy discredited Soviet Union and China for their restrictions and their high level of government interaction in business and entrepreneurial behavior. All of this always praising the virtues of the free markets and the American entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunities that come with it.
Yet all I hear from politicians campaigning is the virtue of restrictions. All I hear from the White House, Wall Street, and the Treasury is about more money that's going to be vested/lent/spent on bailing out US business.
And after the government pulling Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back under it's wings, and the bail out of insurance company AIG, there is new discussions and plans involving a half-trillion dollar bailout to house the bad debt of ailing financial firms.
Honestly, I'm not sure what the solution the multi-faceted mess that America is in, but I can tell you this, that a bail-out of this nature makes it appear that the United States (hence the tax payers) wants to shoulder the burden and take responsibility for the global financial system, as if American business was a State run enterprise, as opposed to a private free-market system.
On top of all that, these emergency situations are creating bizarre policy decisions, largely at the leading of Henry Paulson (pictured right). Hardly a regular name in the news over the course of his last two years as Treasury secretary, suddenly this former CEO of Goldman-Sachs is signing blank checks to bailout various companies at his discretion.
How is he making these decisions? After saying yes to Bear Sterns earlier in the year, he then went to say yes to Fannie & Freddie, but no to Lehman Brothers, and then yes to AIG. Where are the guidelines, the checks and balances, the legislation, etc?
What will he say to other companies in the weeks ahead? What will he say to the American Automakers requesting there own bailout from the government?
What exactly is the Paulson doctrine, and is anyone asking what the long term reprocutions of these actions are, or is it all about solving short term problems.
If the problem is that some of these companies are too big and their failure means too much to the US, should we be letting these large failing companies merge to make even larger companies which the country depends on even more?
What is going on?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
These two problems, as I discussed really put the Fed in a pinch because their biggest Economics tools, supply of money in the economy and the federal funds rate help one area of this double sided problem while worsening the other.
There is another double edged sword with this American and World economic meltdown that has occurred, and it's in our view of how to solve the problems.
Partisan politics often create opposing sides that make us wish that everyone could just get along (and see it "our way"). But as problems worsen, people become more passionate about various things, even at the cost of others.
California's budget situation has been an utter mess. With a $15 billion dollar shortfall, the California Legislator has yet to approve their fiscal budget...which began 77 days ago, July 1st.
When I read and listen to the ideas of the politicians it's easy to see where they are coming from. In rough economics times many of the liberal democrats are passionate about seeing that necessary services, like health care and education become primary focuses of the current years budget. In the weak economy, these democrats see the need and role of the government to step in and provide services greater than ever...even at the cost of spending money they don't have (with solutions like buying futures on Wall Street for 2009 California Lottery earnings).
More fiscally minded conservatives see that there is a problem with the budget, that needs to come to an end, not be exacerbated, and are proposing cuts...saying, let's not bite off more than we can chew. They suggests that the last thing Californians need is less of their paycheck coming home, especially in the presents of high gas prices, a credit crunch, mortgage crisis, job loss, and inflation.
Both conceptual ideas make sense, and depending on your tendency towards donkey or elephant politics one seems to make more sense than the other.
The problem is that the lack of a consensus and a decision being made has probably done more harm to Californians than either of the plans, in that the budget has still not been agreed upon, meaning that money that is typically allocated to student loans, social services, schools have yet to be paid...because a budget has not been approved.
These plans, strategies and concerns seem very similar to the plans that I hear from the broader political chatter of speechs, ads, and sound bites. The situation with the American economy is historical, and action must be taken, with leadership, vision, and clarity.
Yet for some that action means seeing the government step in and use it's authority to shape and direct America out of these disastrous situations, without diminishing the expectations of American civil liberties and opportunities. While others see a need for the marketplace to be given the freedom to govern itself, for Americans to be given an opportunity to vote with their own paycheck and dollar instead of the government making the decision for them.
Unfortunately in various situations, and with different rhetorical statements, and various examples each case makes sense as the different attempts strive to amend different problems. But look at the situation for a second angle and the plans seem preposterous.
I can't help but think that the situation in California is only a microcosm of problems and situations we will see again and again. Whether it's the government determining whether to bail at Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, GM, GE, or any number of companies who just might not be able to survive in the coming year...or if it's the government balancing it's budget and trying to decide how much more it needs to go in deficit to save social security, health care programs, and transportation programs.
Honestly, it's an American mess and partisan politics aren't helping.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
That is until recently. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Fox Searchlight picked up the film The Wrestler, which stars Mickey Rourke as (the fictional) retired professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson.
The film initially has scoured tons of buzz for Mickey Rourke in this performance. The best actor race is a tough race to break into this year with many strong contenders, but I have to say that Fox Searchlight's endorsement means alot because they have helped many smaller films get Oscar love and bring there smaller performance to the main stage (Hilary Swank, Ellen Page, Laura Linney, Abigail Breslin, Alan Alda).
But even more so, beyond Mickey Rourke, I wonder what other categories The Wrestler should be considered in?
Would these be a time to honor avante garde director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requim for A Dream, The Fountain)?
What about co-stars Marisa Tomei or Evan Rachel Wood? Or Robert D. Siegel's screenplay?
Could The Wrestler be another FoxSearchlight Gem?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
You can read the article from morning edition here, but I HIGHLY recommend the audio filebecause in it you get the Russian song of bald and hairy political leaders, put together just for the story.
Listen Here and learn...
Vladimir Lenin - bald
Joseph Stalin - hairy.
Nikita Khrushchev - bald
Leonid Brezhnev -hairy
Yuri Andropov - bald
Konstantin Chernenko - hairy
Mikhail Gorbachev - bald
Boris Yeltsin - hairy
Vladimir Putin- bald
Dmitry Medvedev - hairy
Forget all other types of discrimination...where are the bald people (men & women) in American politics?
Monday, September 08, 2008
And ever since Palin has received the nomination there has been talk of her role as a mother, especially with young children, one with special needs, and a pregnant 17 year old daughter.
While both campaigns have stated a "truce on families" in this election, both campaigns have used their families to connect with people, and create a personality and identity in their campaign.
If Sarah Palin is the next vice president, I look forward to learning more about Todd Palin, and his role, and will be interested to see how that is perceived in the public spotlight.
If I had one question for Todd Palin, I would ask...If the McCain/Palin ticket wins in this upcoming Presidential Election, what would you hope to accomplish over the next four years, politically and within your own family?
What question would you ask Todd?
Sunday, September 07, 2008
But...there's one leading man that Hollywood loves to nominate that has been getting positive buzz and that's Peter O'Toole for his performance in a film called Dean Spanley. Dean Spanley premiered just this past Thursday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Dean Spanley tells the story of a father and son relationship during the Edwardian England time period. The film directed by relative newcomer Toa Fraser (his first film, No. 2, Won the World Cinema award in 2006), also stars Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill.
Peter O'Toole got the buzz in 2006 for Venus, for which he went on to receive his 8th academy nomination. But O'Toole simply score a nomination, not a win...setting his totals at 8 nominations for best lead actor in his career and never taking home an Oscar for any of those 8 performances (he did receive a lifetime achievement Oscar about 5 years ago).
With 8 nomination, and not a single win Peter O'Toole is a record holder...but if Peter O'Toole receives a nomination for this project he will also be tied with Spencer Tracey and Laurence Olivier who received 9 nominations for lead actor in there careers...the most lead nominations received by any actors. (Of course Spencer Tracy won an Oscar two of those 9 times, and Olivier won once).
(And suppose Peter O'Toole did get nominated AND won he would be tied with Henry Fonda for the oldest Best Lead actor winner)
Good luck to Peter O'Toole...although it seems at this stage in the game to be a competitive year in the best actor category, and with O'Toole's production schedule if he doesn't get nominated for Dean Spanley, he's not out of opportunities...his schedule for the next couple years is still looking full.
(O'Toole will also be seen in Home For Christmas about the life of Thomas Kinkaid.)
Dean Spanley picture from Rotten Tomatoes exclusive article from the set of the film.
Friday, September 05, 2008
But, if it's your style to find your inner child for the holidays...I want to warn you, that dressing up as the person pictured below is not creative...
I might be wrong, but I imagine that Heath Ledger's Joker will be a commonplace sight for the 2008 Halloween season...just like that dumb Scream mask that everyone wore after Scream became a hit Summer blockbuster.
Granted, the Joker encapsulates so many Halloween themes...creepy + scary + Clown + face paint + dyed hair. But it's just not that creative...and how many Jokers do you really want to see running around on October 31st this year?
I am curious to see if the popularity of Iron Man carries over into costumes this year (it seems like it'd make a great addition to the little kid costumes like Batman and Spider-Man that are very common).
But...how about some other inspiration from the 2008 season. How about dressing up like Wall-E...well executed, that'd be pretty neat. Or even Kung Fu Panda?
Or how about Maxwell Smart & Agent 99?
Otherwise, most the "costumes" of 2008 so far seem like recycled characters, Indiana Jones, the Hulk, and of course Batman.
Anyways...I don't know why, but it's been on my mind. I just see it coming.
(Plus, if any StrangeCulture readers do dress up with a Hollywood theme...I'd love to post your picture...even if you do dress up as the Joker.)
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
With an Oscar and two nominations Academy Award nominations to his name (Bowling for Columbine and Sicko), Moore has revolutionized a film genre, making it accessible and entertaining in a multi-faceted media world.
In 2005 Moore with others established the Traverse City Film Festival in Traverse City, Michigan. This year four documentaries where shown by those who had previously worked under Moore.
The AP did an excellent right up covering these four films (a few of which I've heard of previously, others I had not).
Of these 4 films, I have to think that there is certainly some entertaining and informative films...as well as a chance for Academy honors, at least in the form of a nomination for one of these films.
Which of these four films would you want to see? Which one do you think has the best shot of going for gold?
- Bigger, Stronger Faster* - Christopher Bell narrates a story about illegal steroids and drugs, and leaving viewers to evaluate whether it's horrific or in line with the American way.
- Pray the Devil Back to Hell - A film about visionary Christian and Muslim women in Liberia who bring peace to the civil war African country and elect their first female president.
- Trouble The Water - A aspiring female rap artists (Kimberly Roberts) and her husband are trapped in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina with a video camera they purchased days earlier.
- The Youngest Candidate - This film debut chronicles five young (18-20 year old) politicians in different city who run for office and experience various challenges running for election in their city.
Monday, September 01, 2008
It'll be interesting to see what makes the history books when it comes to the election of 2008. One thing is for certain is that our children will at least have a couple multiple choice questions on their American history finals that relates to this interesting election.
Piper mentioned last year that the film Juno would do to Teen Pregnancy what Pretty Woman did to prostitution. And after watching Juno last year I pondered myself, what effects Ellen Page's remarkable acting job would do to the world of teen pregnancy...could something traditionally viewed negatively be glamorized with limited emotion?
It'll certainly be interesting to see how suddenly Sarah Palin (a woman who I knew nothing about a week ago) suddenly fills the breaking news world as her daughter is pregnant out of wedlock (but with future wedlock plans).
Hopefully the media and blogosophere will respect Bristol and the rest of the Palin family on this matter...but who are we kidding? When has politicians (or the blogosphere) played nice?
Also, who is this Paulie Bleeker? Could we have another celebrity rise up this week? And if Palin goes to Washington is Paulie Bleeker going too?
Even though Ellen Page's Juno insist that her name IS NOT like the city in Alaska, maybe in this sequel it really is Juneau, Alaska.
All kidding aside, it'll be interesting to see not only how this family "reality show" plays out on the public stage, but it'll be interesting (although as previously mentioned, unfortunate in some cases) to see how public attitudes (liberal and conservative) respond to this issue, as a true barometer of our times.
(sidenote: if they do make a Sarah Palin movie, I think Allison Janney would be an excellent actress for the role)
Like many people the speculation over Obama & McCain's running mates was clearly interesting, especially in such a unique campaign with two very unique presidential possibilities.
The Biden decision by Obama was not surprising, it made sense, and although it weakened some of the arguments by their party that McCain was too old to lead, it also was very defensive about the arguments that Obama was too inexperienced. Of course, if Obama is claiming to be a centrist breaking away from the old guard, the choice of Joe Biden certainly does not reinforce that position.
The exciting spectacle of the Obama campaign, including it's Michelle Obama introduction to the campaign and the huge monumental populist presentation of Barack Obama at Invesco Field at Mile High really ended their convention with a bang that certainly seems unrivalable, as far as a political party convention is concerned.
Yet Friday's announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate has certainly reinvigorated the campaign of McCain, and given the first glimpse of hope at an interesting Republican National Convention.
When I first heard the news from a staunch-Obama-lover Friday morning his statement was "McCain has just handed this campaign over to Obama on a silver platter."
And yet, as I traveled out to "the heartland" this past weekend to spend some time with my wife's family I had the chance to hear a very positive stir of comments about Palin from conservatives in "the heartland" and all across the AM dial. It certainly seems like traditional and on the fence Republicans are excited about the relatively unknown Sarah Palin the more they get to know about her.
I got to say, I'm interested to see Sarah Palin speak at the convention, and I know that that vice presidential debate later this fall between Joe and Sarah is certainly going to be entertaining political TV for sure. Biden certainly has the bite to make Sarah look silly, but Sarah definitely could snap-back with Momness that would make Biden look like a grumpy old man.
When I watch the montages during the Democratic National Convention of Michelle Obama and Barack Obama, I felt like some of the style and editing techniques are reminiscent of reality TV snipets, or Oprah show introductions.
And in the same way upon the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate in this upcoming election everyone is saying "who's she?" "huh?" "Alaska?" But by Friday evening and into the weekend people are talk about her five kids, her husband Todd, Palin's stance on drilling and Polar Bear extinctions, etc. Suddenly we know about Sarah and her four month daughter Willow, and her husbands various jobs.
Do you think that Reality TV has acultured us to the excitement of meeting new people in a media oriented forum. Whether you have ever watched Survivor, Big Brother, the Real World, Joe Millionaire, the Apprentice, the Bachelor, or Little People Big World, you have invited strangers into your home via the TV and gotten to know their lives, personalities, families and past and present woes.
In many ways Sarah Palin and her family seem like primo TLC material. If you've ever watched any John and Kate Plus Eight, you can see how people (women) are fascinated with watching how unique families operate and how they face current challenges with creativity, strength, and courage.
Is not Sarah Palin this person? Even if she was never invited to be a vice presidential candidate, can you think of a handful of people who would would love to watch Sarah and Todd plus Five? Or maybe the show would be called the The Alaska 7?
In this current election, sometimes reality has been more interesting than fiction. It'll be interested to see what the next months ahead have in store.