Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Overblown Eye Candy

I recently saw the new Joe Carnahan flick, "Smokin' Aces." It was an entertaining diversion, and not necessarily a "Tarantino rip off," but there was definitely some Quentin in the DNA.

I'm sure by now everyone has seen the outstanding trailers (my favorite featured Spiderbait's cover of "Black Betty"), and I'm sad to say the movie itself doesn't quite follow through on the excitement they created. The plot (until the last 15 minutes) offers a smart and straightforward set up: sleazy Vegas magician Buddy "Aces" Israel has been cozy with the mob, but is going to turn state witness. The Feds try to protect him after a $1 million hit is put out on him, attracting an eclectic crew of deranged assassins aiming to collect.

The Good:
The music and cinematography are stellar.
The performances are uniformly excellent, though no one has a true "lead" role taking up a majority of the screen time. Jeremy Piven is great as the coked up Aces, Ryan Reynolds solid and believable in a less snarky role than usual and Alicia Keys makes a nice impression as one of the killers. Jason Bateman (of the late, lamented Arrested Development) is the real scene stealer and provides non-stop laughs during his moments on the screen.
The violence, while a bit over the top, is exciting and well shot.

The Bad:
The plot "twists" in the last few minutes are just not set up well (though they tried). While the "clues" are laid out for you, and then reviewed with a refresher course of flashbacks, they are a bit incoherent and ultimately, the major plot just collapses under its own portentous weight.
The roles are charismatically played and the lines given deliciously chewed, but the script just doesn't have enough snappy patter for this type of film with such wildly drawn characters.

Overall, a decent effort and an entertaining splatterfest, but not nearly as sharp as it could have, and should have, been. B-

Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves

On a night filled with disappointments (House opens up to a rape victim, he was abused as a child, Cameron gets weepy over a terminal patient, more Lorelai/Luke/Chris hackneyed melodrama), there was one divine gift emanating from the Tivo: Veronica Mars.

On a show known for clever episode titles, this was one of the more amusing.

It's hard (for me) not to be drawn in when most of the opening scenes revolve around a discussion of Battlestar Galactica. For a few moments, I almost believed in the existence of a higher power when Max was discussing his dream girl. They met at a comic convention, she was hot, eloquent and could tell the difference between Vipers and Raiders. Where is this girl? But of course, she turns out to be a hooker and stripper (wait – conjunction unnecessary). Poor Max. Falling for a skank who pretends to be interested in geek chic who then cleans him out, before eventually realizing that she is what she is. I've heard that can happen. But later, she offers to pay him back. I've thought that should happen, but of course, it doesn't. Or so I've heard.

Though we didn't get any Mac, Piz or Wallace, we did some fantastic Keith and Veronica scenes:

"I'm meeting two hookers over at Logan's later."
"On a school night?"
"Off peak hours, save a few bucks."

"When you rip off the breakaway pants, thrust your pelvis towards the bachelorette. It's her special day, OK?"

"If you go undercover as a student, no Daniel Boone jacket, no peace signs. The times, they have a-changed."

I still have a suspension of disbelief about Keith going "undercover," as he did last week. He was the sheriff and involved in many high profile and newsworthy cases around town. How can people not recognize him? The stop light meet with Lamb and Keith was amusing, though.

Every scene crackled with wit and energy, and the script was one of the best of the season. In fact, if I pointed out all the good lines, it would probably be about 30 pages. But here are a few:

"You didn't get all sweaty in your wookie suit, did you?"

"The one that got away… she was dressed as a Cylon and you only knew her as Six, right?"

"And then you frakked."

"It's like a Zagat guide for hookers."

"From 18 down to two. Your attention to detail has served us well young jedi's."

"That's what the female praying mantis says before she bites the male's head off."

"Amuse me, dammit. Amuse me now!"

Hopefully, the promo monkeys took something out of context for next episode. Because "I'm pregnant?" Don't go there.


From Monday and Tuesday's TV:

Hiro's dad on Heroes is obviously Hikaru Sulu, from Star Trek. And Howard Stern's announcer. (George Takei) Great Casting!

Claire's maternal mom, who apparently saves a lot of money not spent on zippos and lighter fluid, is also Gina Russo, the sex-addicted, bitchy, trollop who was Christian's paramour and Wilbur's mom on Nip/Tuck (Jessalyn Gilsig).

On Studio 60, the actor playing Keith Richards in Harriet's Anita Pallenberg flick is Dexter's brother, the Ice Truck Killer on Dexter. (Christian Camargo).

And Bevo, the laconic "snake wrangler" is Xander's dad, Tony Harris, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was also Grace's boyfriend Wade on Grace Under Fire (Casey Sander).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Next Question

Super Bowl "media day" always elicits a few chuckles, with the profoundly inane questions hurled at the players and coaches. There's a good summary on Two of the most famous – one to Jim Plunkett about his parents, and another to Doug Williams about being a black QB – are listed here (though the Williams question, while funny in a non-PC way, has been debunked as an urban legend).

Perhaps these will get asked today:

To QB "Sexy Rexy" Grossman: "Do you prefer your sexual partners to wear jorts, wifebeaters, or both?"

To QB Peyton Manning: "Have you considered doing any commercial endorsements?" Or "Are you glad Steve Spurrier isn't coaching the Bears?"

To LB Brian Urlacher: "When you were banging Paris Hilton, did you wear four or five condoms at one time?"

To Coach Lovie Smith: "How was it being married to Thurston Howell III?"

To QB Brian Griese: "Do you often feel like U2 opening for William Hung?"

To RB Adrian Petersen: "Aren't you tired from playing for both Oklahoma and Chicago the last few years?"

To P Brad Maynard: "With Rex Grossman directing your offense, do you worry about your leg falling off from overuse sometime during the 3rd quarter?"

To DT Tank Johnson: "If I was going to kill someone outside a nightclub, do you recommend using an AK-47 or an AR-10?" Or, "Have the Bengals tried to sign you yet?"

To RB Joseph Addai: "Does Nick Saban really have cloven hooves and bathe in the blood of innocent children?"

To DT Dan Klecko: "Did Mark Gastineau ever bring Brigitte Nielsen over to your dad's house for a three way?"

To LB Cato June: "Did it bother you playing sidekick to the Green Hornet, when you could easily kick his ass?"

To Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore: "When Peyton is calling the plays, what tunes are you listening to on your Ipod?"

To WR Reggie Wayne: "Do all receivers from 'The U' get an endorsement deal for crack pipes, or is that just Michael Irvin?"

To CB Tim Jennings: "If you were playing defense by yourself, 1 vs. 11, against Georgia Tech, how many times would you intercept Reggie Ball?"

Can't catch me 'cause the rabbit done died.

While passively watching "live" TV last night (not doing the usual timeshifting and skimming through the commercials with the miracle from on high that is Tivo) I caught part of a commercial for some type of newfangled birth control drug. I wasn't really playing attention to it, as I'm not really part of the primary target audience, until I saw the text at the bottom of the screen: "see our ad in Parents Magazine."


If you're advertising birth control, wouldn't the idea be to reach your audience before they're reading Parents? Is this like a commercial for "chainsaw safety" that says "see our ad in Double Amputee Times?" Or an ad for Gamblers Anonymous that directs you to find more information inside the casino? Perhaps a suicide hotline will employ this strategy, and start a marketing campaign at funeral homes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My husband is a pig. Try the veal. I'll be here all week.

I don't often agree with her, but what makes this remarkable is that she's actually funny.

Of course, she's about as sincere and "real" as a stripper, so of course she analyzes and backpedals later, but still.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sam Malone never threw anyone out of an airlock

The best show on TV just keep getting better. Tonight's BSG, "Taking a care from all your worries" was another riveting hour of television.

The title, as I'm sure you recognized, is from the Cheers theme song. (Evidently, Ronald D. Moore and the staff are fans, as they should be. When he was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they had an alien character always present at Quark's bar named "Morn" -- an anagram of "Norm"). More than just that homage, however, it also tied thematically to the worries suffered by most of the principals here, including Gaius, Laura, Adama, Chief, the Quadrangle and even Gaeta. And give James Callis an Emmy.

I didn't realize EJO was going to be directing this one, but frak, he did a great job. The close ups were intense but not overdone, the dream sequence edgy (I'm with ya Gaius, but I don't have a hot blonde robot egging me on) and the drug fueled interrogations quite a trip.

Particularly memorable:

"I always knew I was different, special, maybe a little gifted."
"To marriage -- it's why they build bars."
Laura's first interrogation devolving into a screaming match, with the special guest appearance from Madame Airlock!
"Kara Thrace and her special destiny. Sounds like a bad cover band."
"I did see this coming and I married you anyway." (Right there with ya, Dee).
"Try not to make any loud noises." (Always helpful advice when beginning the long, hard hallucinogenic trip. Er, or so I've heard. From others).
Burnt kids around the tub. Eerie.
"He won't buy that coming from us." "Of course not."
"I didn't think I ever really realized that until I knew that I was losing you." (Like that's gonna work, Lee).
Every thing that Saul Motherfucking Tigh says.
"Creature comforts. That's the clincher." (and loved the wave to the camera. Callis' whole take on the scene, staring broken and scared and winding up playing with Gaeta was just top notch acting. I was serious about the Emmy before).
Adama's solution with Gaeta? Priceless. That's how you negotiate with a hostage taker.

Not so much:
Can we please put an end to Dawson's Galactica? Is the quadrangle dead? Pretty pretty please? And the intercuts between Lee and Gaius toward the end, each baring their soul, felt too manipulative to me and didn't exactly balance in the grand scheme. I don't see a lot of parallelism between genocide and adultery (though both should be punished by Airlocking! Unless it's Gaius).

Absolutely riveting.

Shan's Canon: NFL Unis

First in an ongoing series of lists that provides the definitive order of things in the universe.

Best NFL Uniforms:
  1. San Diego Chargers (powder blues only)
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. NY Giants
  4. Chicago Bears
  5. New Orleans Saints (not all black, though)

Worst NFL Uniforms:
  1. Cleveland Browns
  2. Miami Dolphins
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Denver Broncos
  5. Washington Redskins

I can't even list the Bengals. They're so gaudy and god awful they almost make a complete loop back around from ugly, to so hideous you can't stop looking at them. And they DO pay off the mascot and identity. Also, I want to turn off my television any time a team (looking at you, rocket laser arm boy) wears all white, no matter how iconic the uni.

Hey, Gimpy McCrutch, who are the whores?

Given the lack of football on TV today (sniff), I actually watched some of the NBA on ABC (ESPN on ABC, presented by ESPN, courtesy of ABC, ESPN and Disney, featuring the talent of ESPN and endlessly promoting ABC!). While it was no substitute for the pigskin, I did get to see about 735 promos for the soon to be returning Lost. I'm not one of the (Dharma labeled) "shark jumpers" who thought they spent too much time on the Other Cage Love Triangle, though I did want to see more of the original Losties than we did. Still, I'm anxiously awaiting the return of the one of best shows on TV. In honor of the endless loop of commercials today, I thought I'd post one of my favorite things, a list of Sawyer's Nicknames. Funny stuff, that. Ana-Lucia, Charlie and Hurley are particularly amusing.

On a less enjoyable note, what the fuck is up with the Pussycat Dolls doing the theme music for the NBA? Remember John Tesh's compositions for NBC and CBS? (yes, I know he's not very cool. But his sports theme music was, and he was once on Star Trek, so I'll give him a break). Hank Jr. for Monday Night Football? All the classic instrumentals from the 70s? Now we have Pink covering Joan Jett for NBC Sunday Night Football. And this group of tranny looking hookers doing the NBA? Hell, I'd take the tinkling piano of Masters coverage or even that Rob Thomas song the NBA used a couple of years ago over this crap. While the song itself is not particularly offensive (it wants to be some type of homage to the swing era, much like Christina Aguilera's recent album, but that featured some uptempo smoking horns), it doesn't fit very well with the NBA. It has a flute, for crissakes. The only way I can relate a flute to basketball is that Isiah Thomas is getting sued for probably asking an employee to play his skin flute. And one of the tramps is wearing a Kobe "8" jersey. Is this supposed to be a "throwback" to, uh, last year? Gah.

Can you hear me now? Over the terrorist gunfire?

I want a CTU cell phone.

Sure, I have a nice, capable and functional BlackBerry. But Jack Bauer would laugh at my phone and then piss on it. (Well, if he ever took a piss, but that's another story).

CTU cell phones don't ever need recharging. You can talk on them for hours. You can leave an open connection so the folks back at the office can hear you torture, er, "interrogate," a suspect with an extension cord and a melon baller. You can take pictures that put Annie Leibovitz to shame. They have unbelievable range, working clearly in underground bunkers, airplanes, submarines and nuclear fallout. You can download the entire contents of the interweb faster than if you had an OC192 line plugged directly into your ass. They never drop a call, every phone number is only one button away, have GPS that would make Magellan blush and things that baffle the rest of us (like conference calling) go off without a hitch.

Rumor has it they also part LA traffic like Moses or a starfleet deflector dish, and also ward off cougars. However, it would be very handy if version 2.0 included a feature that lets you format and print out Presidential Pardons.

And I thought the new IPhone was cool. Just wait until these babies hit the market.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sometimes I feel like a Six. Sometimes an Eight.

(when I wrote that headline, I wanted to start singing the "Peter Paul Almond Joy has nuts" song. God, when is too early to start drinking heavily?)

Another beautiful, intelligent and almost poetic recap on last week's BSG:

Rapture Recap

Random comments about the recap:

Right on with the Adama/Helo/Roslin scene. Master acting class, and for Helo to not be blown off the screen with these two pros is quite remarkable.

I, for one, was never in the camp of "too much Cylon stuff! Get off the basestar! I want my evil robots faceless and unexplained!" (Hell, in my own life, the Evil still wouldn't explain itself, and I don't need to be living that shit again on my TV show. Speaking of which, do they screen sappy movies on the basestar, where they justify evil by saying "being a Cylon means never having to say you're sorry?" Part of having two protagonists is understanding the reasoning and motivation behind each side. Whether you agree with it or not is beside the point – the point is knowing it and having it illuminated. Or at least seeing something identifiable or logical behind it. In Galactica world I certainly don't need to hear Cavil mumble something about "hey, sorry about that exterminating humanity thing, sorry about the lying and betrayal, sorry about the torture and "occupation" stuff." And even if they did, I'd still find them fascinating and still find them evil. I just want to see a glimmer of WHY they want to exterminate life. And I think we have. But the Evil in real life? Uh, yeah, that would nice and helpful).

Sly and funny Alanis snark on page 8.

Yes, the "pyramid/basketball/turning a double play" thing between Anders and Apollo with the live grenade was cool – but huh? If Anders was in a better place to toss it without getting shot, then why not just toss him the grenade with the pin, have Anders pull it, and then toss it at the toasters? Cool, yes. Illogical? Er, yeah.

Where the fuck did Cavil come from on the planet? Bad writing or bad editing?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Your model is fundamentally flawed." How many different places philosophically can I grab onto this, screaming impotently into the wind, putting a bearhug on the vapor of nothingness?