Saturday, September 1, 2007
Next week, fans of Justin Timberlake will be tuning in to HBO to watch a special concert performance.
Timberlake has been nominated for the prestigious MTV award for the "Male Artist of the year"...but was also was given the nod in six other MTV musical categories.
Unlike most break-away stars in all-male bands, Timberlake chucked out the bubblegum tunes - and chose instead - to gravitate towards a sly, distinctive, talky beat with obvious roots in a vibrant Afro-American Culture; which was ready, able, and willing to propel him forward in the ranks.
Looks like the gamble has paid off for his handlers.
To some he's an oddity.
White-skinned, but underneath, moving to a rhythmic, black beat.
He's not alone in his musings.
Whenever I'm out in the mean streets of L.A, it baffles me a little when I encounter teenage white boys referring to their "homie" or ranting about some guy in the hood who's been disrespectin' them.
Yeah, Black culture has gloriously surged forward, in myriad manifestations; so "on the cuttin' edge of cool" that anxious, vulnerable teens are inclined to jump on the bandwagon.
You see it in all the trappings: the sloppy, oversize T's; the sulky, loose-fit dungarees hangin' down to expose designer boxers; the dazzlin' eye-poppin' bling. And, in a swagger that's animal in nature.
The handshake that bonds is all deft knuckle-bends and clever finger work, gliding over skin surface.
And, the musical staging for the tribunal is distinctive as ***:
There are a lot of fluid, confident moves, talky moments, and splashy, sensual sexual images.
Yo, what attitude!
The early days of Rock 'n Roll - which generated a lot of hysteria - seem so tame by comparison.
Yes, when Elvis Presley first busted out on the radio, before he performed publicly, everyone thought he was a Black, Gospel singer.
Even still, he faced a couple of obstacles on his meteoric rise to Pop Icon status.
Yes, Little Richard gyrated in what amounted to a wild, tribal ritual on stage.
But the idea of Elvis in that posture was too much for Puritanical, middle-class censors to digest.
The hip-swivellin' was too overt, and the sneer way too denigrating - "a bad influence on the youth of America" - critics argued.
When Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show cameramen were instructed not to shoot below the waist!
Today, just about anythin' goes - innovative musical artists in the limelight now - cross-mix, draw on, and influence each other's musical styling - without boundaries.
As they should.
Music is an International language.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Silver is the big color for fall and Calvin Klein has it in spades...
If you've got the bucks, and you want to turn your back on the old classics that normally get you through each season with an updated accessory or two, then the Calvin Klein Menswear collection for fall is for you.
There's one hitch, though; yes, you're probably going to need a well-chiseled bod just to get into 'em.
Ah, why is youth wasted on the young?
The tight-fitting leather jackets and slacks will turn heads, so you'd better be comfortable in the spotlight.
The sleek techno-tailoring seen on most run-ways this fall is somewhat reminiscent of the simple, practical elegance, featured in the film Gattaca (Ethan Hawke).
In fact, the jackets and pants offered up by designers this season remind one of spacesuits.
Dolce Gabbana has explored the stellar trend with great flair; their silhouettes feature a palette of metallic silvers, bronzes, and golds - to suit any flesh tone - or fashion taste.
Most of the men's clothing fall for 2007 tends to be minimalist in nature, retro in tone, with simple clean lines.
However, for the dude who prefers to swagger into definitive, male fashion territory, there will be racks of military wear to choose from.
Leather pants tend to be the norm, turned out in brown, tan, and - silver - of course.
For nights out on the town, trip-the-light fantastic in a grey velvet dinner jacket with matching trousers. Spice the look up with a bright red tie or silk scarf; both, if you can muster it. Top the ensemble off with a woven, cable knit trench coat - the rage this fall.
Casual affairs may call for a no-nonsense leather jacket - one in vogue now is fashioned in silver metallic. I'm inclined towards a tasteful, chic black one, paired with pigment-dyed jeans - although herringbone high-waisted pants may add an intriguing twist to the look.
For the adventurous guy, there will be a slew of colorful, textured ponchos, a trifle of fur fringe, a bevy of colorful scarves, and even a handful of frilly shirts.
For business attire, the trend will be towards dark suits that accent the male physique. And, a host of flashy ties are at the ready to spruce up the silhouette.
But Klein's departure here is refreshing, too.
A mainstay is a metallic grey suit donned with red sweater and matching tie.
Not for the impotent, to be sure.
If you have the stamina, saunter into fall confidently while making a bold statement.
As the city streets, or the Boardroom, beckon you...remember, it's style - not the clothes - that make the man.
You're cruisin' down the strip with your buddy, the music blaring, and life is good.
Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye a pulsating red light casts long tentacles over the vehicle.
A loudspeaker squawks into the dark night.
A surly State Trooper swaggers up to the driver's window and barks an order.
Your pal grumbles, "Oh,****."
Should you quickly exit and say - "Later" - to your best bud?
Too late, in minutes the cop's partner asks you step out of the vehicle - at which point he not only rummages through the car but your very own backpack.
You're ticked; after all, the officer gave no reason for the stop.
If the police find something incriminating in your possession, can you be charged under these circumstances?
What went down amounts to an illegal search and seizure, according to a Supreme Court ruling handed recently.
Citing a case with a similar scenario which was heard recently, Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter summed it up quite astutely.
"Any reasonable passenger of a car that is pulled over would understand he is under control of the police until given permission to leave."
And, based on the long-standing 4th Amendment, Souter wrote:
"We hold that a passenger is seized as well and so may challenge the constitutionality of the stop."
Civil Libertarians applauded the ruling.
It means that "police will no longer have a free pass" to stop a car and then search everyone in it," said Steven Shapiro, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The decision properly deprives the police of what would otherwise be a virtual invitation to engage in racial profiling."
One for the rights' advocates!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
In the opening scenes of Wild Strawberries an elderly Doctor is puzzled by a sequence of dreams...
In one, as he gazes skyward, he is taken aback by a town clock without any hands.
As he turns in the street to take in the rest of his surroundings, an ornate horse-drawn carriage - trimmed with a Golden Cherub - turns a corner. A wheel catches on a fixture protruding from a building and upsets the procession - at which point - a nondescript wooden coffin spills out onto the quiet cobblestone street.
Taken aback at first, the doctor draws closer when he notices a corpse in the open casket.
Boldly, he snatches up the lifeless body, and pulls it up to maneuver a gaze at the face.
It's his own, naturally.
Is he staring death in the face?
A few years ago, I experienced a remarkably similar nightmare, in some respects.
In mine, I stumbled into an empty room painted in a blinding, dazzling shade of etheric white. At my feet, I spied my naked dead body with a splash of garish red blood marking a gaping wound at my chest. Almost sacredly, I carried my limp form out of the room.
Curiously, the following evening I was attending a party and in the course of a conversation mentioned the disturbing dream to another guest. Coincidentally, a woman standing nearby turned out to be a dream analyst who proceeded to help me fathom the depths of the startling images.
She noted that the room represented my "house" (me) and that the color of "white" symbolized the attainment of purity. The body, she asserted, was my "dead self". Evidently, I was in a phase of great change in my life, she conjectured. A part of me had died and now there was renewal in my life. The reason I cradled my dead body, she explained, was because we must have compassion on our "former selves".
In essence, we are the sum total of all our experiences and must recognize and accept that.
In the case of the good doctor in Wild Strawberries some might speculate that he was coming face-to-face with mortality. The manner in which he was handling the issue would tend to suggest that he was at odds with the foreboding signs.
After all, noted psychologist Carl Jung believed dreams were expressed in a symbolic language; also, that they were the pathway to self-actualization.
In contrast, Freud argued that dreams were a matter of convenience.
They help to prolong sleep instead of waking up - and subsequently - are the guardians of sleep and not its disturbers
If we are to concur with Freud, the meaning of the good Doctor's dreams signal one avenue of thought.
I am inclined to focus on the Assyrians who alleged dreams were simply omens.
Dreams, according to their cultural heritage, contained warnings; more importantly, were God's way of demanding some type of action.
Yes, perhaps the hour had come for the retiring physician to take stock of his life!
The Wild Strawberries figure quite prominently into the scheme of things, too.
Medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in Churches and Cathedrals to symbolize perfection and righteousness.
All told, it is evident that Ingmar Bergman's storytelling devices profoundly hit their mark.
The Cinematography in the film is breathtaking.
In one scene, the camera slowly pans as the Doctor cautiously strides down a desolate lane; you could hang a gilded frame on each moment of film for each is so artfully crafted.
While the directing itself is at times formal, it is natural and seamless nonetheless.
His signature style is immediately recognizable on film.
The relentless close-up of the face is one of the useful thematic keys to Bergman's work, for example.
Moreover, his provocative screen images often generate startling feelings of raw, complex subjectivity as well.
When asked about the meaning of his films, he said, "...it is a difficult and dangerous question and I usually give this evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it."
Mr. Bergman once noted, "No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls."
In a staggering body of work spanning fifty years he has proven that to be true.
Steve Jobs has unveiled a polished new Apple...with innovative bells and whistles.
Most notably, the exterior design has gone through a major transformation.
The sleek little devil is fashioned in an aesthetically-pleasing aluminum casing.
Yeah, time for the old heave-ho.
The old plastic facade always reminded me of a kid's sophisticated plaything.
When I was newbie, a scant few years ago, my first computer purchase was an Apple.
After all, it was always the tool of choice for artists, designers, and other creative types.
But, it wasn't long before I pined for a regular desktop PC.
You see, every time I hankered to attach an appliance, or facilitate leading-edge software, the clerk at the computer outlet would shake his head sadly in response when I beamed that I owned, "A Mac, of course".
"Not compatible", he'd shrug, as he walked away to serve another more computer-savvy customer.
But in recent days, Apple has surmounted many of those obstacles.
For starters, there was a switch to intel-based computer chips which have helped boost performance, and subsequently, sales.
In addition, the ilife suite of applications features a host of innovations for photo management and video creation programs.
Iwork productivity software has been upgraded to include a new spreadsheet operation called Numbers.
Steve Jobs expects that Mac users, who generally use Microsoft spreadsheets, will be joyful about this turn of events.
Believe it or not, the snazzy, ultrathin wafer-like model, are a couple of hundred bucks cheaper than the models before them.
Industry analysts and critics are responding well to the unveiling.
"Because this new iMac is so fully-featured, especially compared to other systems on the market, we had to give it an Editor’s Choice,” reported Rich Brown at CNET.
Brown also compliments the redesign of the Apple Keyboard adding that, “key mechanics also have a smooth response that make it a pleasure to type on.“
Bottom line, Brown concludes, “With its super-elegant new design and a strong configuration, Apple’s new iMac competes with the PC desktop market better than perhaps any previous Mac to date.”
Maybe its time to trade my PC in.
Is the Internet becoming the new "old boys' network"?
If you're to believe the rantings of a female blogger who writes for the Insight section of the Daily Breeze, yes.
In an article titled, "A Woman's place on the blogs?", a female blogger alleges that a typical blog reader is actually a 43-year-old white man with an annual family income of $80,000.00.
Based on this statement (without any back-up with hard, cold facts), she argues:
"No wonder Hillary Clinton only got 9% backing in online activist polls while garnering more than 40% in traditional ones."
Her article was supposed to focus on "A Woman's place on the blogs".
But, you don't even have to read between the lines to get the impression that her commentary is a Manifesto against men on net.
She's based part of her argument on a graduate student's spreadsheet that alleges that of 90 top political web blogs, 40% are edited and written by men only, only 7% by the female gender.
Is her source material that credible or worthy of note?
She says that the Internet trend may have something to do with the fact boys raised their hands first in class.
They did? (who says...)
Then, the pundit (?) wildly theorizes that educated, economically comfortable men were early adopters of the technology - so, therefore took the lead on the World-Wide-Web.
She fumes, "...but it's not about counting, not just about diversity-in-numbers. It's about political dialogue - who gets heard and who sets the agenda."
At this point, she's just about foaming at the mouth.
After the "tracking of maleness in the media" (her words, not mine), she concludes, "The chief messengers are overwhelmingly men - white men, even angry white men."
What a sweeping generalization. Based on what facts?
Her opening remarks say it all:
"It boggles my mind to realize how quickly a piece of Internet terrain has gained power in politics. By now, the political blogosphere is to the left of what talk radio is to the right. It is a forceful, sometimes demagogic, message-monger organizing tool for the progressive end of the Democratic party."
In the final analysis, this woman slings mud (and propaganda) just as well as the rest of 'em.
Miss, you can lead a horse to water...but you can't make him drink.
This article should have been captioned, "Envious Blogger rants"...
Well, I'm a kid at heart, what can I say?
Under the guise of being early for "HAIRSPRAY", I discreetly asked the usher to print out a ticket for Harry Potter's "Order of the Phoenix".
My first shock? The price of admission. Friday's evening show was a whopping $12.75.
Oh well, there was enough of my allowance left to scrounge up some cash for a "kiddies' combo" as I slunk into the theater with dark glasses firmly affixed to my snoz.
A plush seat upfront and center screen beckoned me and I flopped into it for the big event.
Gee, as I surreptitiously glanced about the room, it was quite evident to my keen eyes there were a number of adults in the room without any kids in tow!
A few minutes later, and with little fanfare, the fantasy feature began.
Right off the bat, there was a perfunctory introduction to a handful of the delightful characters we've come to recognize and love.
A number of the roles have been diminished somewhat this time around, though, like Maggie Smith's character.
Obviously, the screenwriters kept a tight rein to amply provide requisite screen time to introduce a new character - Doris Umbridge - an evil new Headmistress integral to the Phoenix's plot twists in the popular enchanting franchise series.
The character is sort-of a cross between Leona Helmsley and Ann Landers - a portly woman trussed up in shades of lavender - who clicks her heels when she walks. With razor-sharp aim, she's quite adept at zapping a cantankerous young wizard or two when they step out-of-line.
Essentially, the storyline focuses on the return of the "Dark Lord" and his diabolical efforts to secure an oracle that portends the future. Of course, Harry Potter is in the thick of it all.
The humor still abounds.
Occasionally, there are cackles from the adults in response to jokes that sometimes zing over the youngsters' heads.
For instance, a housewife infers a naughty innuendo when she wickedly admonishes a couple of teenage boys "for whipping out their wands" at whim.
Of course, the word has probably leaked out; without much advance warning, young Harry embraces a young beauty - and lo and behold - clinches his first screen kiss.
When his mates ask how it was, he quips: "Wet".
Curiously, the scene cuts to a shot of the lad tossing and turning over a nightmare about a long thick slithering snake.
One wonders, what would Freud think of this?
Clearly, the boys are coming of age!
The young heroine, Hermione - on the other hand - doesn't appear to be hankering towards any hanky-panky with the opposite sex just yet. Although her hair is coiffed and pretty, she acts more like one of the boys than the object of their desire.
Perhaps that is why the producers introduced a pretty waif-like femme fatale to waft on and off the screen now and then.
Emma Thompson performs in a throw-away role. I didn't think it was possible to overact in a part that amounts to about a minute or two of screen time.
Gary Oldam also makes an unassuming entrance or two, winks at Harry, then disappears off-screen. What a waste of high calibre talent!
Basically, the celebrated sequel is all intrigue and bluster and teenage angst over this and that.
The ending - what amounts to a lot of state-of-the-art lasers and cataclysmic explosions out of an industrial-light show highlighted by to-the-death struggles between the forces of good and evil - appears to be coined from a well-executed Star Wars sequel.
Well, if you have to copy anyone, why not imitate the best of the genre?
Sure to enthrall the kids and even a less-sophisticated adult or two.
If you like kitsch and don't mind a little plaid or a cardigan or two, HAIRSPRAY is the movie for you.
The Broadway hit was recently adapted for the big screen and never lets up from the get-go.
The setting is in Baltimore in the 1950's.
The premise goes something like this.
Each day, when the school bell signals the end of class, excited teens dash home to turn on the boob tube to grind and gyrate to popular tunes on the Corny Collins Show (undoubtedly styled after yesteryear's trail-blazing American Bandstand once hosted by the affable perennial host Dick Clark).
In fact, there are a number of stand-out performances by up-and-coming young performers.
For instance, actress Nikki Blonsky is captivating in the lead role as "Tracy Turnblad".
And, there's also a surprising on-screen turn by Michelle Pfeiffer, as well.
One day Tracy receives a slip for tardiness and heads down to detention hall where she encounters a juggernaut of appealing black youths lithely jiving and raucously harmonizin' to a jungle beat she finds irresistible.
At last, she is in her element.
When she learns that Corny Collins will be auditioning for a replacement for the popular Dance Show, she's first in line to strut her stuff - all jowls and cheek - much to the dismay of the Station Manager who has a slanted eye towards what is palpable for the hit music show.
Of course, Tracy is turfed out because she's way too hefty and a tad beyond light of foot.
But, some intriguing plot twists put her up front with all the underdogs rooting for her on the way to the annual "Miss Hairspray Talent Competition".
The musical numbers are all big and glitzy and way over-the-top - but in their context - make HAIRSPRAY truly entertaining toe-tapping bill-of-fare.
Unfortunately, the Travolta bit didn't work for me.
John, whatever were you thinking?
The role was more suited for a "Divine" type, if you get my drift.
The explosive documents focus with razor-sharp attention on controversial issues such as overseas assassination attempts, domestic and foreign spying, and kidnappings approved by top-level officials.
In short, a whole can of worms!
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden's confession to the press that the documents are unflattering is somewhat of an understatement.
The prolific records include accounts of break-ins, thefts, illegal wiretaps, surveillance of journalists critical of the government, and notes on a series of "unwitting tests", including the use of lethal drugs on U.S. Citizens.
Kissinger warned in the past that if the incriminating documents were released, "that blood would flow".
After all, high-level dossiers include detailed accounts of Robert Kennedy's alleged personal management of an assassination attempt on Cuban President, Fidel Castro.
Did they knock off John Kennedy, first?
Most of the major operations uncovered - albeit unwillingly - were revealed in varying detail during congressional hearings that later led to widespread intelligence reforms and increased oversight protection.
The reports, which have come to be known as the "Family Jewels", would make for an intriguing potboiler.
Anyone up to the task of penning the script?
Or do you value your life too dearly to embark on such a dangerous path?
Oftentimes I arrive at the movie house early.
As I sit idly in my plush, comfy seat, I have the option to twiddle my thumbs or gobble up my treats before the main attraction fires up on the screen.
Now that many Theaters are offering up trivia games prior to the big show to wile the minutes away, personally, I am inclined to play along.
Usually, the brain-teasers are about current films; for example, what name actor, currently starring in a comedy, is married to Kirk Douglas' son?
Of course, the answer is...
Now managers are offering up famous quotes by actors on the wide screen; after all, aren't we all just waiting with bated breath to hear what our favorite star has to say about the state of the world?
I must have been in an off-the-wall mood last night at the Regency 'cause a number of the quotes hit my funny bone real hard in a nonsensical way...
For instance, Beyonce Knowles was quoted as having said,
"I make records like I speak."
Oh, so that's the problem!
Then there's the profound one by Carmen Electra,
"Life is not worth living unless there's a camera around."
Ah, another Kodak moment!
Some of the misconceptions may have arisen due to a lack of articulation by the artists.
For example, when Jared Leto contributed this gem - "I'm rarely proud of what I've done" - I surmise that what he meant to say was that he isn't too proud of his acting chops on screen.
Actually, Jared, your performance in "Requiem for a Dream " wasn't half bad.
Then, there's the comment by Amanda Peet:
"I think you have to fall in love a little with your co-star."
If you don't, will someone twist your arm?
The one by Lindsay Lohan caused the audience to roar:
"I am the hardest working person I know", she allegedly said straight-faced.
I wonder, was that a misquote? Did she actually say,
"I am the hardest two-fisted drinker I know"?
Some are downright silly.
There are the philosophical words of wisdom by Pam Anderson,
"A little pain is good for you."
Or the cerebral message from Natalie Portman:
"I'd rather be smart than a movie star".
It caused me to wonder, is it not possible to be both?
Will Ferrell noted that when people engage in inappropriate behaviour that he laughs.
How refreshing, most would turn up their nose in disgust.
From Jennifer Lopez, this little ditty:
"I need 8 hours of sleep or I go out of my mind".
Gosh, Ben could have told us that!
Finally, there's this from Sandra Bullock:
"Success comes in a prickly package".
In view of her favourable press to date - it causes me to ponder - who pricked her?
Undoubtedly, it's because of fluff like this, that celebrities are prone to be chaste when it comes to probing interviews.
It's bad enough to be misquoted, but worse yet to be caught in an outrageous moment of stupidity.
Remember: to err is human, to forgive Divine.
As Salvador Dali said:
"Have no fear of perfection- you'll never reach it."
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
What was to be a celebratory occasion - the screening of the powerful feature (A Dry White Season) for a contingent of guests from the French Consulate - many conceded turned out to be a downer brought to the fore by a lack of sound judgment on the part of the Director, Euzhan Palcy.
Yes - as fate would have it - the "Question & Answer" session afterward was where the spotlight fell; exposing behind-the-scenes production tales brimming with intrigue, suspense, and stabs in the back.
Ms. Palcy started the evening off pleasantly enough.
There were vivid details about the more intriguing aspects of the filmmaking process for this particular venture; for example, insider info detailing how she managed to secure the rights to the book and a smattering of thoughts on her subsequent soul-searching and in-depth preparations for a production about apartheid in South Africa.
To her credit, early on in-the-game, she noted to the audience that she realized the need to uncover the truth first-hand beyond the well-written pages of the best-seller by Andre Brink. So, she proceeded to authenticate the facts by journeying to South Africa incognito.
A rapt audience sat on the edge of their seats as the director recalled a clandestine trip to South Africa to research material for the feature film to be financed and distributed initially by Warner Brothers.
First hand, the locals provided her with shocking testimony about the atrocities - torture, stabbings, the killing of young children in villages - for example.
On the heels of gut-wrenching testimony - she slipped the incriminating evidence out of the country by way of her silk panties - at the height of the conflicts.
Once the script was on paper, the director focused on casting the right talent.
About this time "CRY FREEDOM" was released, so Warner Brothers wanted to shelve the production slated with Palcy.
In spite of this, they were also reluctant to let the project out of their hands, either.
Allegedly, Jane Fonda, Sidney Poitier - and a handful of other actors - pressured the studio until they finally relented.
At this juncture, "A Dry White Season" moved over to MGM.
Immediately, the production team pushed for the casting of South African actors to lend authenticity to the film. Fortunately, studio brass - like Alan Ladd Jr. - were behind Palcy one-hundred-percent and gave the go-ahead.
For the part of pivotal role of the attorney, the young auteur pined for Marlon Brando. Luckily, she knew Jay Kantor, a former agent of the acting icon. Because of an overture Jay made on her behalf, Marlon agreed to sign on.
In one hillarous recall - she noted her concerns about approaching Marlon on the issue of salary - sure Brando would back out when the meager remuneration she was capable of paying was offered up.
He allegedly chastised her for raising the issue.
"You're talking to me about money?" he allegedly responded somewhat incredulously.
"This is a cameo role on an important project and a comeback for me. I'll do it for free. Don't talk about money."
She was elated.
At the packed screening, Ms. Palcy now focused the discussion on a jovial Brando, amusing hours on the set, and underscored how everyone was so enamored of the superstar.
She boasted that at the end of the production, both cast & crew lined up for autographs, herself included.
Then, for some inexplicable reason, she suddenly said,
"I have to tell you one bad thing about Marlon, though."
We sat up, all ears!
She noted that one scene called for Mr. Brando to be dragged out of the courtroom after the Judge presiding over the case becomes frustrated by the aggravating courtroom theatrics of Marlon's character.
The whole point of the scene, she asserted, was to underscore that corrupt "powers-that-be" thought they were above the law.
However, after two takes, Palcy and the producer were allegedly at their wits end.
The semantics of nabbing the footage in the can were so challenging - even with a consummate pro like Brando at the helm - that it was doubtful they would succeed at the enormous task.
In the struggle with the guards, for example, Brando's wardrobe fell open.
"His belly popped out," she noted in disgust.
There were many wild guffaws from moviegoers in the theater who found the whole episode remarkably funny.
According to her, though, the takes were appalling - so much so - that she claimed that the editors laughed in the cutting room during playback.
Determined to delete the scene from the final cut - she hatched the idea to send Brando two versions of the film - one with the lackluster scene and the other without it and trusted that he would wise up.
But, the megastar was not amused with her ploy.
An argument ensued between the two and he demanded the scene be left in the film.
"It's my dramatic exit," he lamented excitedly.
After consulting with producer Paula Weinstein, they both to put their foot down.
At this point in the tale the evening turned dark and ugly.
Instead of dropping the issue - Ms. Palcy continued and repeated "vile foul language" she alleged Marlon hurled her way on the telephone on several occasions during the duration of their on-going dispute - some of which I would never repeat here.
In fact, Palcy was quite adamant that he not only made bodily threats, but threatened that he'd ensure she never worked in Hollywood again.
She described Mr. Brando as a sort-of vulgar madman bent on her destruction if he did not get his own way.
She claims she tried to appeal to his senses by emphasizing,
"This is about apartheid in South Africa and not about you, Marlon."
Well, over the years I've been privy to many showbiz arguments.
Yes, producers, directors, and actors fight - but generally when it comes to the issue of discussion - most professionals find tactful diplomatic ways to explain the scenarios in a tasteful dignified way on talks shows, in the press, and in their memoirs.
What occurred that evening was not only uncalled for, but amounted to an outright character assassination.
The whole episode was particularly distressing and distasteful to me because - for one - Mr. Brando is deceased. Is it proper etiquette to speak so ill of the dead?
Notwithstanding, Mr. Brando was not there to defend himself.
More shocking, perhaps, was the comment she made after her twenty-minute assault.
With a slight sneer on her face she added as if to validate her position,
"Then, look what happened to his children after that."
Personally, I was shell-shocked by the remark.
Was she inferring that Mr. Brando was directly responsible for those tragedies?
In sum, I found her reprehensible behaviour at the screening inappropriate, immature, downright tacky and unprofessional.
I attended the screening to honor Caesar, not bury him.
Brando in "The Wild One"...
Marshall McLuhan once said, "the medium is the massage".
But here's the rub: Critics complain that Internet Bloggers are not being mindful of Professional Ethics.
For this reason alone, some say blogging is not much more than blabbing.
Has no merit.
For example, bona fide Journalists usually check their facts and verify sources.
Oftentimes, a tempting news bite is spun off onto the web with nary a thought of the consequence.
Are the perpetrators not aware that such conduct is not only unprofessional, but irresponsible and potentially harmful?
You bet your self-serving link!
To gossip is human.
What better way to rev it up the rumor mill than by deft post on a popular, well-travelled blogger site?
A main complaint?
Some of the Messiah's of the wide-band waves twist news flashes to suit their own purposes, often fanning the flames, and elevating the issues to controversial new heights.
No legitimate, self-respecting Journalist would have a hand in such things.
To others, the Internet is a handy tool to expound a philosophy, a political bent, or squarely put focus on a particular social issue.
A blog site is not unlike the "soap box" in Hyde Park (London, England) where public-speaking enthusiasts spout their views and offer up dire warnings about society's ills.
Those nefarious post-its hung anonymously on the web should be avoided like the plague, some assert.
From whence do they come, and what is their secret agenda?
The gossip mongers, and harbingers of doom, are daring darlings - yes; often tossing vitriolic spikes into the arena at whim - where courage be if face or identity tagged alongside their missive for the Citizens of the World to perceive?
Personally, if the source (I use this term loosely) is muddy, playin' hide-n-seek, or wrapped in smoke and mirrors - I am inclined to be cautious.
Marshall McLuhan astutely predicted without hesitation that we would fast become a global community ...more so, with the advent of the Internet Super Highway at our fingertips.
For this reason, the human race must act responsibly - each do his or her part - to honor freedom of speech, promote responsible action, and likewise, raise the consciousness on the planet.
What better place to start than the great intrusive World-Wide-Web
The Fine Arts Theatre screened a curious documentary about a most-unusual farm boy.
The documentary was titled the - "Real Dirt on Farmer John" - so what was I to expect?
Farmer John - as I later learned at the screening - was forced to take over the family farm in Illinois after his father's untimely death.
Yes, shy retiring John Peterson was quite at home with the Earth, but his life took an unlikely new turn when he headed off to Beloit College where his creativity subsequently blossomed among a gang of merry pranksters he soon invited to the idyllic countryside to "commune with the land".
The rebellious earthy youths got close to the soil, worked the fields daily - and in restrospect - it would appear that Eden had sprung up in the mid-west.
Of course, in rural areas such as this, the locals were not used to young fellas with long hair or glaring festive attire that was out of the norm. So rumors spread. In fact, quick as wink, Farmer John was accused of a number of evil past-times. Like, wild orgies, and devil worship,and even drug-running.
The neighbor who fueled the gossip-mill put it this way,
"The cows were restless at night. So, of course, I just knew somethin’ was up."
John meanwhile tried to hold onto the farm, but in the 80’s the bank foreclosed on his loans and he was forced to sell most of his large parcel of land except for a handful of acres he manged to keep for himself.
About this time, he became depressed and drifted off to Mexico, and tried to fathom the meaning of life.
Inspired by the spirit of a dead Uncle who haunted him daily south of the border, one fine morning John suddenly snapped wide awake, pulled up his boot straps, and headed home to start anew.
With financial help from his mother - a kind soul depicted lovingly in the film - he got back to nature and what he knew best, planting crops. As a result, the farm began to flourish once again.
When it appeared he’d fail again, he stumbled upon new-age ideas about organically-grown vegetables which he ably put to use. At last, he was on his way once again.
Fortunately for us!
Farmer John now runs Angelic Organics, one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in the United States.
In a nutshell, investors buy shares in a farm like John’s, then pitch in with the day-to-day operations so that city-dwellers and their children can get back to nourishing naturally-grown foods.
More than 6,000 families in the Chicago area receive a weekly delivery of vegetables and herbs from Angelic Organics during the growing season at last count.
The film also charmingly reveals other facets of John’s character.
He’s not only an outrageous artist - who occasionally likes to ride his tractor wearing a feather boa while his girlfriend follows behind in a mud mask - but also a maverick environmentalist, homespun rebel, and playful provocateur.
In sum, the man's an incredible human being whose inspirational story about revolutionizing his family farm and redeeming his own life has won accolades and awards at film festivals around the world.
See, "Farmer John".
It’s not only a "hoot", but it just may change your life!
Occasionally - at the witchin' hour - I suffer from an extreme case of the munchies or incurable insomnia.
So, some Friday nights I leave the tossin' and turnin' behind to take in a midnight movie at the Regency's "Insomniac Cinema" (Fairfax District).
Recently, I caught two offerings.
For the most part - trendy starry-eyed movie-goers were queuing up for the screwball comedy - "Spaceballs".
Ah, Mel Brooks!
Years ago, I wangled my way onto a set and managed to sidle up close to observe his innovative directing style. While going through the "motions", the celebrated icon often puffed on a stogie rigorously, spit out a rapid-fire string of off-color jokes, and likewise, was prone to cuss up a mean streak.
Mr. Brooks loved to shock. But, the man has a heart of gold.
It's difficult to fathom sometimes how he came to be paired with his lovely elegant wife. The twosome remind me of that other celebrity couple - Shirley Jones - and what's-his-name!
In spite of the fond memories, I headed into Theater 3 for parts unknown.
I guess I was drawn to "Black Sheep" because of a clip I stumbled across somewhere, the contents of which I cannot recall, which now remain forever stuck in the foggy recesses of my noodle brain.
The feature opens on a breathtaking panoramic view of an awesome pastoral scene which belies the horrors yet to come.
The premise goes something like this.
A young man traumatized in his youth returns home to exorcise past ghosts and settle accounts with an older brother handling matters of their father's estate.
Soon, it becomes evident that somethin' is amiss.
The sibling has been genetically-altering the livestock with disastrous results.
There's something about a deranged flock of woolly-white sheep on the rampage on the range which jars the sensibilities.
In fact - the director has deliciously juxtaposed an uncanny montage of comic moments with a splash of squeamish images - with gut-wrenching effect.
Yes, there are buckets of blood and guts and unimaginable gore.
Indeed, the audience is sent on a roller-coaster ride of conflicting emotions from one scene to the next.
If you like your popcorn soaked in horror, this is the flick for you!
My favourite character in the film is the new-age activist who can sense when out-of-whack feng shui may pose a potential imbalance to a harmonious state or adeptly quote the percentage of animal flatulence which may contribute to greenhouse gases.
In one scene, the brother ushers his prize sheep into the den and quickly bolts the door. Later, we catch a glimpse of him in his boxers taking a drag on a cigarette - at which point - the tale takes a macabre turn.
Well, we've all heard about cowboys and those seemingly endless lonely nights. Here, there's a bizarre twist that just might tickle your funny bone or make your stomach heave-ho.
Not for the squeamish or the faint of heart.
Black Sheep is headed for cult classic status.
I feel sheepish sayin' it: not baaaaaaad!
Imagine that...singing off-key, or forgetting the words to a ditty or two, may land you in the klink in North Korea...
Looks like die-hard Karaoke fans will have to return to the shower to warble their favorite tune, now that Karaoke bars are shut-down pursuant to a directive from the Ministry of that far-east country.
Officials argue that the action was taken to stem the tide of foreign influences.
In effect, shutting down the popular hang-outs was a way to "mop up and prevent the ideological and cultural permeation of anti-socialism" , according to a spokesmen for a Civic group fighting the ban.
In a raid later, club-to-club inspections were undertaken in search of cellphones and illegal videos, deemed as contraband prone to induce negative influences on the youth of the strict communist country.
I don't suppose "Don't Forget the Lyrics" will be broadcasting there anytime soon.
What happens when a young Jewish Lothario falls in love with a Kurdish beauty?
In the Independent feature - David & Layla - there's a lot of hand-wringing by the doting parents and fervent prayers for guidance from Allah and Abraham alike.
The romantic comedy was directed by Jay Jonroy and is set in New York.
In eye-catching opening scenes, interlaced with the credits, there are an enticing array of cultural images to digest.
In fact, the vivid montage sets an inviting tone as the upbeat storyline quickly unfolds.
The main character (David Moscow) - the producer of an ingenuous sex-show for cable - bumps into an exotic young woman on the street and cupid comes calling.
Fearing his "faith" might repel the green-card-seeking Immigrant (yes, there are a couple of subplots), the gushing romantic tells a fib. Under the guise of being Agnostic, he ardently pursues the woman in spite of protests from his devout conservative Jewish family.
Besides the religious differences, there are a number of other complications for the young horndog to surmount.
For example, there is the issue of his "tubes"; David reluctantly agreed to have them tied to appease a former girlfriend, not anxious to bear child.
On the threshold of marriage, a disheartened Layla (played by Shiva Rose) and her long-suffering parents are disturbed to learn that something funny is going on down there with David's "chromosomes".
In one amusing scene, Layla refers to him as a "unich".
"Eunuch", he protests without batting an eyelash.
At this juncture, she laments, "I Divorce You. I Divorce You. I Divorce you."
In some cultures, this is sufficient to cut the ties that bind, apparently.
Yes, it doth appear the coupling is doomed!
But, by way of a couple of amusing plot-twists, all the wrinkles are ironed out.
A festive Kurdish wedding heralds a titillating finale complete with marijuana-laced (green spice, eh?) banquet food enlivening the spirits of the unsuspecting guests.
There are a number of jokes at the expense of each faith - good-natured, nothing hateful - but throughout the film the Director/writer appears to be preoccupied with sex.
Maybe he was inclined to hold to the truism that "sex" sells and ventured down this path for commercial reasons.
But in this regard the script creaks; the gags are middle-aged - cliche - in fact.
For instance, in one scene the young man's parents wrestle over the issue of her performing a naughty sex act below the waist; in another, a hot-to-trot twosome interrupt a moment of ardent lovemaking to quarrel about condoms.
The material here is not fresh or original; it's pretty-familiar territory explored quite thoroughly - and exhaustively - in the genre in more provocative ways elsewhere.
"Layla & David" is bolstered - and succeeds admirably - in the main storyline that focuses on the clash of cultures and faith.
In a country like the burgeoning United States - where a melting pot is becoming more the norm - films focused on Interracial Marriage issues are ripe for the marketplace.
Although not a stellar piece of work, "David & Layla" is fun, entertaining, and worth the price of admission.
Prince, the true King of Pop, ventured into new territory in recent days with the endorsement of a fragrance for women, 3121.
Taking a cue from the musical legend, the advertisers are aggressively plugging the scent as quite "xquisite" and "with a rhythm all its own".
If you're craving for C Chords, forget it.
The exotic cologne is composed with:
"Notes of bergamot, orange flower and sandalwood entice, tease, and beckon."
Now the alluring images of the Pop Icon in the promotional blurbs make sense.
The designer perfume is offered up in Prince's signature color - Purple - in a quality designer bottle sure to be a collector's item.
Could this new enterprise have anything to do with the mercurial businessman's latest decision to release his new CD to fans for free, much to the chagrin of top-level brass at a major label?
Die-hard Prince-lovers are assuring everyone at prince.org that it was good strategy.
"Cheeky marketing strategies can breathe new life into a veteran recording artist's career."
And, companies like Verizon are helping to make that happen.
You can now download Prince's new single from their site.
Talk about saucy!
After years of languishing on the storyboards, "The Simpsons" headed into movie houses for the wide-screen version of the celebrated TV hit.
Over the years, there have been many memorable moments on the well-written, ground-breaking show; too many to mention here.
Of course, it's always been a badge of honor for an actor to be invited to inhabit one of the characters on the top-rated comedy.
Such notables as Elizabeth Taylor, Jerry Lewis, Harvey Fierstein, Danny De Vito, Bob Hope, Leonard Nimoy, James Woods, and Meryl Streep - to name an illustrious few - offered up their golden voices for a host of hilarious characters over the past few seasons.
The popular comedy is not only the longest running animated feature on Television, but the most Internationally-syndicated show around the planet.
According to at least one modern-day Philosopher, Carl Matheson, it is the "deepest show on Television".
In a book of essays, one writer astutely notes, "...it is a corporate-manufactured show that openly and self-reflexively parodies the very consumer capitalism it simultaneously promotes."
To others, simply put, "...it's a celebration of family or an indictment of the American family."
In the movie, there is much of the same.
However, in the screen version, there are at least one-hundred speaking roles to track in the hushed, dimly-lit theatres.
The producers assured the press prior to release that the movie would have the same artistic sensibility of the series with "grander backgrounds, nuanced lighting and shadows, more colors, and a scope that would be impossible to carry off on a TV production budget". And, they delivered.
James L. Brooks noted at a recent press outing that while there is no 3-D, Pixar-style animation, the film does have a depth and sweep that goes beyond the 2-D Artful flavor of the small screen series
Due to a PG-13 rating, Brooks was thrilled to be able to venture into new comedic ground, as well.
In one scene, a cartoon penis is featured, for example; in another, Homer gives the mighty finger.
Two cops passionately lip-locking in a key scene signal the gender-bending trends of a permissive society.
Producers are hoping the release of the feature will revive the TV show somewhat.
The jury is still out on that.
In its last year, Simpsons won the Emmy for best animated program, Writers Guild Award for best animated script, and a People's Choice Award for cartoons.
Although the Simpsons "MOVIE" took almost a decade to emerge from the small black box onto the big silver screen, there are already vigorous talks ongoing about a potential sequel.
There's been some grumbling in political circles that Hillary Clinton has an unfair advantage...the controversy reared its ugly head this past week when a Style Editor drew attention to a plunging neckline and Hillary's noticeable display of cleavage on the campaign trail upfront and center stage.
Some candidates are crying foul!
Those running for office should base their platforms on issues and refrain from enticing away potential voters with sly tricks like this, after all.
The writer of the controversial piece has been criticized for placing the focus on Hillary Rodham Clinton's hope chest.
In a fundraising e-mail message, written by Senior Clinton adviser Ann Lewis, there were harsh words from the Clinton Camp: "...focusing on women's bodies instead of their ideas is insulting," she ranted.
The journalist, Ms. Givhan - who described the cleavage as "an exceptional kind of flourish" underscored that this foray into uncharted waters was kind of unusual by emphasizing "...even for a woman who, in her campaign for President, has given up on her onetime "desexualized uniform" - a black pantsuit - in favor of a wide variety of suits and jackets that have allowed her to play the fashion field."
Who knows, maybe Mrs. Clinton is tired of being the butt of bad jokes.
For example, in the movie "Breach" - about a traitor in the FBI - Chris Cooper's character makes a comment about a woman in a pant suit, then, quips, "Well, we don't need another Hillary Clinton".
Ms. Givhan defends her article this way, "...I do think that when people are delivering a message, the message is essentially consumed in different ways, and that depends on how it is delivered...the tone of voice, the appearance, context, these things come into play."
Frankly, I don't know what the fuss is all about.
Hillary didn't manage to keep Bill in line at home, so it is doubtful the voters will be paying that much attention either at the polling booths, in my estimation.
Gosh, what can I say?
You know, over the years notable journalists have become infamous for their deplorable reviews; indeed, on occasion their words have come back to haunt them.
For example, when the great Katherine Hepburn first sauntered onto the stage in New York a well-known critic quipped that,
"Ms. Hepburn ran through the gamut of emotions from A to B."
Of course, that quote was penned by the infamous Dorothy Parker, a reviewer known for her caustic wit.
Originally, Ms. Parker's career was launched when she began writing Theatre pieces for popular Vanity Fair.
The celebrated writer was a member of the Algonguin Round Table - a group of New York writers, critics, actors, and philosophers of the day - who met from 1919 to approximately 1929 to discuss matters pressing and those more importantly pertaining to artistic expression in all its myriad forms.
The illustrious group met for lunch every day at a round table at the Algonquin Hotel. More-often-than-not, the stellar literary giants traded biting and insightful quips which echo through the hallowed halls inhabited by literary pundits today.
There was no formal membership at the Roundtable, so people came and went at will; but, the primary members included such luminaries as: Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Harpo Marx, Franklin P. Adams (known as the father of the group), Harold Ross, George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, and Heywood Broun.
Parker was well-known for having said,
"Men never make passes at girls with glasses."
And this little ditty,
"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
Her best known critique is also the shortest review ever written in the history of the Theatre.
After attending a preview of a play - "The House Beautiful" - she quipped,
"The House Beautiful is the play lousy."
With a nod to Ms. Parker, I hand in my assignment to the editor.
"Chuck & Larry is a film gay, but not funny."
(1) Was that Lance Bass playing one of the "Boys in the Band" at the gay wedding? (2) Was that Dr. Kildare in the role of the commissioner? (3) Was a body-double hired for the scene where one of the lead characters bent over to pluck up a bar of soap on the shower-room floor? (4) Was there any tasteless gay joke in the history of mankind that was not offered up on a silver platter in this film?
Woody Allen, the quirky filmmaker known for his cerebral film style, and a consummate New Yorker, will stage a new production of Puccini's "Il Trittico", a trio of one-act operas.
The production is slated to open the Los Angeles Opera's 2008-2009 season.
When celebrated film actors hanker to get back to their "craft", they often tackle tough stage roles in the legitimate New York Theatre.
So, this begs the question...is this a star-turn for the three-time academy-award winning director?
"I have no idea what I'm doing," Allen said in a recent statement to the press, "but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
Recently, the fashion section of the weekend newspaper focused attention on two menswear designers hailed for their sensible approach to a line of menswear featuring random period British influences.
Wainwright and Neville, known for their ineluctable hipness, according to a New York Times editor, have understandably commanded a ubiquitous celebrity following.
More importantly, their fresh innovative offerings won the duo a coveted award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Their line, Rag & Bone, fuses British tailoring with an eye to American worker's clothing.
With fabrics that were soft and colors that were good - as they put it - it was obvious to fashionistas they'd be on their way to rag trade super-stardom.
Notwithstanding, their keenness in some lofty, aesthetic areas, I was quite startled to read an amusing quote from Mr. Wainright who proudly asserted, "It's important that our clothes have a sense of history."
To hammer the point home, he noted, "...I've been wearing these jeans every day since February and they've never been washed. I'm breaking them in."
A "Look" may turn heads on the runway, but when it comes to hygiene - well, it's never been out of fashion.
No silhouette, excluded!
If cleanliness be next to Godliness, then get thee to a shower, dear boy...
It's not just the clothes that make the man, after all.
The New York Times reported recently that a New York Socialite is producing a video based on her best-selling book "The Manny".
Directed by Michael Jaffe, it appears to a pot-boiler, of sorts.
The publishers are hoping that it will be this season's answer to another popular hit "The Devil wears Prada".
What is a "Manny"?
The lens focuses on a relatively new phenomenon: a look at the privileged rich who are "hiring" male nannies to keep their tots in tow.
"The Manny" chronicles the trend towards the male hiring of nannies "...to expose sons to the sort of informal knowledge about sports and girls that nannies and workaholic fathers were not delivering."
There was a hot-bed of activity around the original manuscript written by Holly Petersen. After a feverish auction, with many key players jockeying for control, Dial Press won out with the top bid.
The finished video will be posted on YouTube and features sizzlin' rap and a number of celebrity cameos.
The "Manny" is being portrayed by a 29-year-old model named Johannes Huebl known around the late night party circuit as Joe Hotness (I kid you not).
An unlikely tenor took the world by storm the other day when he sang out, some say, with tuning that was "all over the place" - "... the voice was strained and uncontrolled," according to a music critic, Philip Hensher in the Independent of London.
But that did not stop the humbling masses from screaming out "Bravo" on blogs all over the world after Paul Potts, who appeared on a Televised Talent Contest in Britain , garnered first prize for what many have crowned a triumphant rendition of "Nessun Dorma" - a Tenor aria.
Of course, Nessun Dorma" is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot". The aria, whose title translates from Italian as "Let no one sleep", follows the proclamation by the Princess Turandot that no one shall sleep: they shall all spend the night attempting to find out the name of the unknown prince, Calaf, who has set the challenge. Calaf sings, indicating his certainty that their effort will be in vain.
The aria achieved pop status after Luciano Pavarotti's rendition of it was used as the BBC's theme for the 1990 Football World Cup held in Italy. It has been that tenor's signature song outside Italy since the 70s, as his rendition of it garnered him worldwide fame.
After Potts' performance, the Internet was abuzz - at issue?
The opera snobs, of course, noted a handful of Potts' supporters; in particular, those who roundly criticized the singer's lack of operatic training.
A Robert Burns quote may be worthwhile to cite in this instant case:
"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.”
"He may not be the greatest opera singer," quipped one. "We don't know dip about opera like him and can't wait to see him perform. We know what uplifts us and makes us feel good. Go away, snobs."
The segment which showcased Potts' vocalizing was the "most viewed", a "top favorite", and the "most discussed", according to YouTube.
One observer noted, "...he sounded just like Pavarotti, unless you've heard Pavarotti."
Actually, Paul first sang opera at the age of 28 for a karaoke competition where he dressed up as Pavarotti.
The response to the telly show ranged from "soul piercing song" to "absolutely delightful."
All the acclaim has brought Potts a $200,000.00 prize, a chance to sing for her Majesty, the Queen, and a record deal.
Of course, the Tonight Show will undoubtedly invite him on as a guest, too, so that he may conquer America , as well.
Congrats, Paul Potts!
Limos crept up the street, the paparazzi jockeyed for position, and the red carpet was thrown down on the sidewalk.
Ah, a big splashy premier Hollywood-style!
With flashbulbs popping, I strode into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences building in downtown Beverly Hills to take in "Resurrecting the Champ."
The sharp-suits at Yari & Phoenix know how to throw a bash!
The liquor flowed generously throughout the night courtesy of the house!
And, a swirl of the jaded Hollywood elite swarmed around the banquet tables to snap up the succulent chicken, a wide array of designer cheeses, tasty imported crackers, mouth-watering fruit, and the most fabulous! desserts sure to satisfy any discerning sweet tooth.
But as I slipped through the throngs of excited moviegoers, from the conversations I surreptitiously listened in on, there did not appear to be much talk about the "Champ".
The film - starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett, and Terri Hatcher - is apparently based on a true story which caused an initial buzz for the picture.
Hollywood is keen on down-and-out tales about underdogs who are resurrected, of course!
"Resurrecting The Champ" survived the fight, but there were a few bruises inflicted along the way.
When the tale first flickers up on the silver screen - the audience is introduced to a young journalist (Josh Hartnett) who is under a lot of pressure from his boss (Alan Alda) to deliver up quality news stories for the daily morning paper.
To add insult to injury his boss laments at one point,
"There's a lot of typing going on, but little writing."
Subsequently, Hartnett's character is anxious to get his hands on the "big ticket" - as he puts it - a dynamite story capable of lifting him up out of his professional slump.
Gee, do people still talk like that?
He stumbles on an idea for a feature story and slaves over the material until it is crafted to perfection and ready for publication.
But, shortly after the feature is published and acclaim comes his way, petty annoyances like facts and accuracy of reporting rear their ugly head.
At this juncture, it appears that "The Champ" is supposed to be a hard-hitting film about ethics in journalism and "doing the right thing".
But, the script is flawed and there are serious credibility problems to overcome, if that is the case.
One has to wonder, for instance, how did the naive young writer land the post at the Denver daily in the first place?
In spite of his obvious lack of ability, Hartnett's character manages to turn out a stellar piece of Pulitzer-Prize winning caliber.
But, we can't help but wonder how he to pulled it off given the facts.
To make matters worse, a sub-plot focusing on a failed marriage is introduced.
On screen, the audience doesn't get much of a peak into the relationship - not enough anyway - to determine what caused the coupling to go awry in the first place.
In fact, Hartnett's character makes so many mistakes (with his son and his boss) we seriously have to wonder, what makes him tick?
There's no clue emanating from the big budget screen endeavour overhead.
Hartnett delivers his lines well - and is a handsome appealing man - but at times I wanted to yell at the screen.
"Hello, is anyone home?"
At one point, the film - which takes a small foray into the mystery of the ironies of life - actually manifested one of its very own in the theater packed with enthusiastic film goers.
For example, about a quarter of the way into the movie, Hartnett's character suddenly appeared on screen with a big bruise on the side of his face.
Everyone in the audience turned this way and that, whispering among themselves, trying to figure the phenomenon out.
The film ground to a halt. The lights went up.
After a few awkward moments, the Chump - um - Champ flickered on the screen again without explanation.
About a half-an-hour later - after a physical fight breaks out between Hartnett and another character onscreen - the clip with the bruised face popped up again on screen.
Ah, it all made sense now.
The reels were out of sequence!
And, there's the irony.
Just like the projectionist who needed to restart to set things right - Hartnett's character was now forced to retool to make good - as well.
Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of a homeless man is a stand-out in a long distinguished career.
But, Peter Coyote and Terri Hatcher nearly steal the show out from under him in precious cameo roles.
In fact, Terri Hatcher shows such great potential in this cougar-style role, there may not be any looking back.
She masterfully handled dialog quite well; but, similar material was better articulated in powerful films like Network, for instance.
One guest noted that there weren't enough fight scenes.
Yeah, in my estimation, "Resurrecting the Champ" lacked a lot of punch.
Essentially, it wrestled on the ropes.
No knockout, though.
I took in "Resurrecting the Champ" the other evening, but judging by the morning papers, if I was looking for some fight action, I should have scoffed up a ticket for the Galaxy match!
A lot of excited ink splashed across the sports pages this week, as reporters gave a blow-by-blow account of a brawl Beckham beckoned his way on the turf in Thursday night's game...
When Chivas midfielder Jesse Marsch delivered a nasty kick to Beck's midriff, team players on both sides sprang into action like a pack of pit bulls - snapping and barking at each other.
With a multi-million-dollar body at stake, the message was loud and clear: "Hands of the merchandise!"
Apparently Kevin Harmse threw a punch at Chivas defense man Alex Zotinca, who did a pay-back with a head butt.
Tempers flared and it looked like there would be a bloodbath. But, cooler heads prevailed.
Later, Marsch apologized to Beckham.
The incident revved up things a thousand-fold, sent writers' jockstraps throbbing, and fans into a frenzy.
Some sports writers were hinting that hiring the media darling may have been a stunt.
Ah, suddenly the bells rang off in my head.
I flashed back to my grandmother's house in Oshawa in the days of my youth.
While I played in my imaginary world on a lazy Saturday afternoon, she'd be riveted to the edge of her seat - grimacing, wringing the life out of a cushion - and occasionally uttering expletives - as she reacted to her favorite wrestlers, like Gorgeous George, on the idiot box.
If a brawny, beefy brute - not in the round - snuck up behind a wrestler to give him some unexpected due - she'd been in there like a dirty shirt, crying out warnings at the screen: "George. Look out, that son-of-a-gun's behind you".
Yes, she was emotionally involved, caught up in the mad antics of the athletes, lost in their world for the day - in spite of the fact Poppa chided her amusingly from the sidelines about the reality of it all.
"Kitty, it's all an act, for heaven's sake."
She'd waved him off, glued to the set, nonetheless.
The gripping, exciting theatrics she gravitated to were a welcome release after all the chores were done each week.
I suddenly realize that maybe that's what soccer needs - a bunch of brutish, brawling, bad boys - cutting up on the field, to get the fans into the stadiums.
Especially if the league wants to give games like Football - an exciting, tackle sport - a run for their money.
In view of the press Beckham and the soccer league mustered up this week - I have a itchy-achy feeling inside that's what the game needs to give it a jump-start.
In "Resurrecting the Champ", a sports writer opines, "you're only as good as the athlete you cover".
In this instant case, it should read:
Behave badly on the field and you'll get all the coverage you want!
And, in the process, rustle up a truckload of ticket sales, too.
Play ball, and may the last bloodiest man still standing, win!
Every amateur detective into murder mysteries has been paying attention to the Phil Spector case ongoing in Los Angeles...especially, now that the trial is winding down.
There are enough twists and turns to pique the curiosity of any sleuth.
As the story goes...one dark night Lana Clarkson, an aspiring actress (with some legitimate film credits) accompanied famed music producer, Phil Spector - who created the "Wall of Sound" - to his palatial Alhambra manse - and ended up dead.
The issues swirl around Ms. Clarkson's frame of mind, altered evidence, and the questionable conduct of a criminologist.
Mr. Spector alleges that the statuesque blond nabbed one of his pistols - for some inexplicable reason - and turned it on herself, committing suicide. End of story.
However, over the past few weeks, witnesses for the prosecution have sought to dispute these claims.
One expert argued that a woman would never commit suicide by shooting herself in the face.
A man may point a gun point blank at his head and pull the trigger, but they assert that a female would not disfigure herself in this way. A woman would be more inclined to put on her best dress, brush her hair, and lay down on the sofa or bed until the drugs and alcohol kicked in.
Then, there's the issue of her state-of-mind. Friends insist that she was in a positive upbeat mood, excited about new prospects - not a likely candidate for suicide.
Of course, that purse is pretty incriminating, too.
A criminologist, Dr. Lynne Herold, noted that it was sitting on her shoulder positioned backward - an awkward way for a woman to carry her bag. Had it been adjusted by someone?
Blood tests established there were mystifying smears of blood, too.
One stain on the foyer chair where Clarkson's body was found slumped suggested her head had been turned around. By who? Why?
One piece of evidence - or lack thereof - has caused quite an uproar.
One witness claimed to have witnessed Dr. Lee - famed evidence expert (who presided over the O.J. Simpson trial) - pick up and pocket a small scrap some believed was a part of a fingernail.
But, the evidence did not end up in the evidence packet submitted to the court.
The attorney who eye-balled the event, now refused to testify (on the grounds of attorney-client privilege) and came close to jail time for contempt of court.
Prosecutors surmise that the nail was blown off her finger when she put her hands to her face to defend against an attacker.
Mr. Spector's defense team has been headed up by attorney Bruce Cutler; the high-profile lawyer from New York who represented John Gotti in three cases in which the alleged mob figure "got off".
Gee, where's Hercule Poirot when you need him?
Some days it's fun to knock off and take in some mindless entertainment.
The next movie in queue at the Grove was "The Invasion" so I snapped up a ticket and slipped into my plush chair as the credits started to roll.
From the offset the stylistic pace was able to draw a captive audience in.
Without hesitation, the suspenseful tale unfolded before our watchful eyes, as we sat on the edge of our seats.
A space shuttle mysteriously plummets from the heavens and crashes to the earth below.
Puzzled scientists stumble on a curious organism - other-worldly - in nature?
Perhaps, but they can't quite put their finger on it.
But wait - one Doctor manages to - and suddenly an odd transformation takes place that night as he falls into a deep sleep.
At this juncture, the audience is introduced to a well-manicured, professionally-coiffed woman, played convincingly by Nicole Kidman.
Ah, Kidman has come a long way since her first big movie entrance (she of freckled face and tangled hair) opposite Tom Cruise in the Days of Thunder.
Mindful that she's a mature actress now (thank God the frizzies are gone) she appears here in the role of a psychiatrist with a look that is decidedly right for the role of a busy working professional.
When a patient laments that her husband is not "himself", she prescribes some meds; obviously, the woman is having an episode, she thinks to herself.
But when she strides down the street later, and spies the odd behavior of pedestrians all around her, it is evident to her keen eye that something more ominous is afoot.
Daniel Craig's character, who is pining for a relationship with Kidman's, plays a down-to-earth masculine guy who comes to her assistance.
He's an uncomplicated supportive foil, but a bit on the boring side.
Just what the film needed, a touch of sanity somewhere.
If you're familiar with the film - The Body Snatchers - then you'll be wise to what's going down about a quarter of a way through the thriller.
But the truth of the matter is, there's nothing original in this script.
In fact, the body of another idea integral to the premise was also lifted from an earlier sci-fi pic of the fifties. Once you've pretty much fathomed that, just sit back and take in the ride.
Material like this, in the hands of a director other than Oliver Hirschbiegel, may have fallen victim to high melodrama.
But under Kidman's skin, is handled with aplomb.
When zombie-like characters lope down the streets after her, spewing a virus-like vomit in her wake, she manages to keep a straight face and walks a tightrope between suspense and belief.
It's the same old story, though.
Alien gets human, alien loses human, alien -
Plausible, no; but for ten bucks, what the heck.
Gee, what's this flaky piece of skin on my face?
If you're like me, when you check into a Hotel, right off-the-bat you turn on the tap to ensure there is ample hot water to shower in.
Then, as you putter around the suite, you'll probably flick on the TV to make sure the reception is a-okay.
What happens if you encounter a couple of naked bimbos and muscular man-slaves making out on the small screen?
Well, you may want to ring up the front desk and complain to the Manager, at which point, he'll probably apologize profusely and advise you to avoid channels 23, 24, 31, 47, 52 - well - you get the picture!
Or, if you're in the Bible Belt, you might surreptitiously turn the sound down so the other guests don't hear the cries and moans onscreen, order up room service, and settle in for a little voyeuristic entertainment for the night.
Just remember to grab the remote and silence the sound in the event your wife calls you unexpectedly from Little Rock.
Actually, the growing problem of sleaze (x-rated content) on the roster at Hotels across the Nation has been been coming to a - um - head.
In fact, a Cincinnati-based conservative group, led by a self-confessed former sexaholic, took the issue Nationwide to fight the racy offerings at LodgeNet Entertainment Group.
LodgeNet is a major supplier - some would argue purveyor - of on-demand movies for TV and the Internet.
The Citizens for Community Values (CCV) pressured the publicly-traded company to stop promoting and selling xxx-rated product through the in-room pay-per-view service currently available at most Hotels in the U.S.
The angry protesters argued that the bulk of the material is hard-core and not suitable for the venue that it is outsourced in.
LodgeNet countered by noting that the Adult Film Genre (I use the term loosely) is only one category of content they offer up in a myriad of programming options.
In addition, they allege that they are not responsible for the most part because individual Hotels determine the selections.
Moreover, the broadcast systems allow guests to block access if they are offended by the content, they have firmly asserted for the record.
Law Enforcement may take action, sources have warned.
After a recent review of scheduled programming for South Dakota, the CCV announced they intended to pass on the questionable content to the U.S. Attorney's office of that State to determine if LodgeNet may be prosecuted for Violating Federal Obscenity Laws.
Essentially, LodgeNet scoffed at the proceedings on the grounds that the activities they are promoting are "legal".
A spokesman for the publicly-traded company noted:
"Courts have made it clear that the Government's ability to dictate taste in private Entertainment choices is extremely limited."
The Constitution, they theorize, supports individual choice over any government "coercion".
CCV has met with some success in stopping the programming in several Hotels in Ohio and Kentucky.
But, as of today, the xxx-rated content is mostly accessible across the Nation.
If the films scheduled for the hetero market offend you - or happen to be of a gay or bi-sexual nature which you're not in to - the Gideon Bible is available for your reading enjoyment.
It's usually tucked away discreetly in the top drawer of the night table.
Thomas Carlyle (Wordsworth) said,
For music fans it is a must-see.
With the advent of "clear channel" and focus groups, Director Andrew Shapter gambled on taking his voyeuristic camera along the roads of America to interview key personalities in the music arena, and came up a winner.
In the words of producers Shapter and Joel Rasmussen:
"We sought to understand why mainstream music seems so packaged and repetitive and whether corporations had the power to silence musical innovation."
The revealing interviews Shapter captured with his insightful lens clearly signal the answer is a resounding "no".
In the old days record labels signed about twenty or thirty artists and dictated how their talent would be packaged and promoted, usually keeping a tight reign on their creativity.
"There was so much pressure to turn out a hit," one artist confessed.
Others complained that today the suits would cut a musician loose if they failed to deliver right out of the gate.
"It's all about money" appeared to be a repeated MANTRA in the engrossing film.
For this reason, many popular acts are signed on the basis of one CD so the movers and shakers can cut their losses and capitalize on a sudden hit.
One promoter lamented that few at the majors were in for the long haul anymore.
Bonnie Raitt fondly recalled an earlier era when it was a lot easier for talent to break in; in her case, playing the guitar figured well into her success.
"The way I look, it is doubtful I would have made it in the business today."
That was one of the focuses of the film.
Artists pointed out that with the X-Generation it was all about the "look", glossy images, and sizzlin' sex appeal.
Ah, the seductive nature of those MTV videos!
Industry-insiders noted that all the – um – talent had to do these days was show up.
Don’t worry. A sound mixer demonstrated how an off-key note could be sweetened in the recording studio until it hummed with perfect pitch.
The music giant "Clear Channel" was criticized for relying on focus groups (many wondered who these curious mysterious forecasters actually were, by the way) to determine slots and airplay.
Others observed that today it was harder for true artists with a heart to make it.
But many interviewed were enthusiastic about the new trends in music.
Independent radio stations in Seattle and Texas and elsewhere are now scouring the earth for alternative innovative new sounds, they alleged.
In fact, if Shapter's subjects are to be believed, hordes of the teaming masses appear to be turning away from the mainstream radio stations.
One female vocalist thought it was offensive how Radio Stations packaged a radio program for Nationwide airplay and then inserted a short - "Hello, New York" - into the mix to give the impression that the music was tailored to their locale.
A number of music enthusiasts - with eclectic tastes - talked excitedly about garage bands, too.
The acts were applauded for taking destiny into their own hands by shooting their own low-budget videos which they summarily edited and mixed on tracks on their home computers.
Then, given a glorious send-off to YouTube and other sites on the World Wide Web.
In fact, Andrew Shapter noted that one band he was familiar with did just that and are now reaping huge rewards playing to sold-out venues around the globe.
Shapter noted that the homogeneous corporate product that was spoon fed to consumers is now competing with independent music that adventurous fans online and at clubs around the country are discovering.
I loved the look of the film; slick and professional, but heartfelt too.
Shapter is a former fashion photographer and has a great eye which is reflected in his work.
The pacing of the well-produced doc is excellent and the sequences soundly and stylistically placed.
The historical references are solid, embolden, and ultimately lay a great foundation for the musical landscape that unfolds.
The journey is a worthwhile insightful one.
In sum, the film takes a fascinating energetic (and optimistic) gaze into the fascinating world of music while hinting at the myriad possibilities ahead.
Forest Whittaker narrates.
Impromptu performances by Eric Clapton (at the Viper Room) and Dave Mathews are a plus.