It’s not like I didn’t put in my Cinevegas screening time yesterday, above and beyond the Get Smart screening. I saw a little bit of Ben Rodkin‘s Big Heart City (Italian asshole gambler in love with woman he’s gotten pregnant), about 60% of Josh Fox‘s Memorial Day (a party film that segues into an Abu Ghraib torture piece) and about 20 minutes worth of Nicola Collins‘ The End (doc about aging criminal types who hail from London’s East End). None rang my bell, at least to the extent that I was persuaded me to write something. Sorry. Trying again this evening.
Are Adam Sandler comedies gradually becoming a little too lengthy? I felt that Zohan was maybe a little on the drawn-out side. Not fatally but somewhat. Darth Mojo has posted a list that makes the case. Billy Madison (1995 — 89 mins.); Happy Gilmore (1992 — 92 mins.); Big Daddy (1999 — 93 mins.); Mr Deeds (2002 — 96 mins.); 50 First Dates (2002 — 99 mins); Click (2006, 107 mins); I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007 — 110 mins); You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008 — 113 mins).
I’m dying, naturally, to see Albert Brooks in the debut episode of a new season of Weeds on Showtime tonight. He’s playing Len, the father-in-law of Mary-Louise Parker‘s pot-dealing Nancy in a new Southern California burgh called Ren Mar. Read Mary McNamara‘s L.A. Times review for a taste.
Does the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino have Showtime on its system? Of course not. I’ve been told that first new Weeds episode is viewable on Showtime’s website but I went to college and all I found was this little snip of a scene with Brooks doing his shpiel. I’m not saying it’s not there, but If they’re going to hide the link to the episode then the hell with them.
I guess I’ll have to find the Showtime publicist, beg for a few discs of the opening three or four episodes, and catch it back in Los Angeles. Another campaign, in other words. Never easy.
What a brave and courageous thing it is for Al Gore to stick his political neck out and endorse Barack Obama tonight. What cojones! That, ladies and germs, is why Al Gore is such a respected statesman. Because he’s not one to blow with the wind. Seriously, it’s all well and good to endorse but who respects Gore for having waited until Obama has the nomination all sewn up to make his move?
MSNBC’s video coding is so unstable and unreliable the above video clip could disappear in a blink of an eye, so here’s the URL in case it disappears.
One of the few things I really enjoyed about Get Smart was the apparent visit to Moscow. Apparent, I say, because Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway seem to actually be in Red Square, I mean, and not…you know, some seamless CG backdrop recreation stitch job. Which I half suspected it was.
I didn’t fully enjoy the Moscow footage, in short, because a part of me suspected it was fake despite what my eyes were telling me. I’ll say it again: Carell, Hathaway and the crew did in fact visit Red Square, unless the video is a put-on. Despite the IMDB’s location page saying otherwise.
Except it doesn’t matter because nobody believes it when a movie crew goes somewhere for real and uses real-life backdrops. Even if we’ve been repeatedly told on the entertainment tabloid shows they’ve literally gone to Moscow or Beijing or Paris, we still don’t believe it because showing realistic fake backdrops is a snap these days if you have the CG budget. And we know going in that Get Smart is a fairly heavily budgeted, big-studio package so who cares? They should have shot the actor footage in Burbank and made the Moscow part happen in post.
The only way I’ll believe that a film has actually shot footage in some exotic city is if the film is a lower-budget indie. I know those guys don’t have the money for CG budgets so I’ll believe that they sprung for air fare if I see, let’s say, Rome’s Piazza Navona in a scene. Otherwise, forget it.
It’s true — Stan Winston is gone. I don’t know what happened — the man was only 62, for God’s sake — but man…early! What a legend in his realm — the top godfather-creator of cool-ass Hollywood monsters, predators, dinosaurs and various other grotesqueries for the last 20-plus years. Pretty much the dean of the school since the creation of the first Terminator in ’84 up until to his stellar work on Ironman.
The idea of a brilliant, energetic, super-creative guy leaving the earth at the beginning of his third act (as poor Tim Russert just did a few days ago) is, of course, offensive and appalling. Here’s the official site for Stan Winston Studios, but it’s…I don’t know what to say except that death can be an extremely rude and untimely visitor.
For me, for everyone, Winston’s legacy rests upon his animatronic, makeup and model-design work in two franchises — the Terminator films (he’d been working on the latest — McG’s Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins) and the Jurassic Park films. You can point lots of other creations and go on and one about them (liek his work on Edward Scissorhands), but Winston’s work on these two famous franchises are the foundation of his rep.
Whenever I think of Winston I think of (a) the “sick tryke” — the wheezing, breathing Triceratops lying on its side — in the first Jurassic Park, (b) that horrific army of razor-tailed, bullet-headed monsters in James Cameron’s Aliens, and the T2 skeleton with the red eyes — the first life-form seen in Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.
Winston won Oscars for his make-up and visual effects work on Aliens, T2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park, and was nominated for his work on Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Heartbeeps, Batman Returns, The Lost World and Steven Spielberg‘s deeply loathed AI.
I never knew Winston; never even met him. I do know that I spent lots and lots of money on action figures based on Winston creations for my kids in the early to mid ’90s. I still have a couple of good-sizen alien figures based on his Aliens work. I’m particularly enamored of the big black queen. I also know that suddenly I feel like watching The Lost World again. That film got a bad rap when it opened, but I’d rather watch it ten times than sit through A.I. once.
On Hulu, a three minute and nine second portion of the tidal wave sequence from Roland Emmerich‘s The Day After Tomorrow. In high-def yet. I’d forgotten how well-painted this sequence is. The reason I’d forgotten, of course, is that the movie generally blows and I’d thrown the baby out with the bath water. Hulu offers video embed codes of some of its clips, but not this one.
I was as much of a devout fan of Tim Russert as anyone, but I have to say this: I’m getting sick of the emotional butterscotch schmaltz that NBC reporters, commentators and show hosts are still pouring all over the man’s memory this morning. I wish more of it had been on the level of, say, what Chris Matthews said on the phone from Paris and…well, just less from everyone else.
The thing that tipped it was Matt Lauer‘s emotion-milking interview this morning with Tim’s son, tthe very bright and admirable Luke Russert, followed by Meredith Vieira and Kathy Lee Gifford talking about how “incredible” the younger Russert is…Jesus! Enough! I’m sorry but something just snapped when Vieira said that.
I realize it’ll keep going until the Wednesday morning funeral and the Kennedy Center tribute later that afternoon, but it’s getting a little bit grotesque. There’s something to be said for quiet sadness and holding it in a bit, or at least for showing a little old-fashioned restraint. (A quality, come to think, that Russert’s dad, “Big Russ,” was known and admired for.) Sorry to say, but Russert’s friends have taken things to a point where they’re almost starting to taint his memory.
As the Orlando Sentinel‘s Hal Boedeker wrote this morning, “The self indulgence” of the Russert tributes “was breathtaking. A friend told me Sunday: ‘I now know more about Tim Russert than I do many members of my family.'”
Postnote: What is with the MSNBC embed codes? You copy a code for a particular video, it goes up just fine and then an hour later another video is playing. What the…?