Heeeeeeeerrre's Osama…

March 27th, 2008

Tonight's episode of House M.D. opened with a note-perfect homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. You don't see that sort of thing on E.R.

Also, it's good to see Anne Dudek, formerly of The Book Group,1 getting another regular gig.

  1. See previous comments here and here.

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The Other Other OTHER America

March 21st, 2008

Paul Ford is all fired up:

You know what, DavidSimonCreatorOfTheWire? I just read the five-thousandth interview with you and enough. And you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to create a TV series myself and my show is going to last five MILLION seasons and it is going to BLOW YOUR MIND. It's going to be set in even worse parts of Baltimore, maybe in the sewers, and it will show HBO viewers not just the “Other America” but the Other Other OTHER America. The America that's so other that the Other America will watch one episode and say, what the fuck? How amazing is it that he is paid well to show us this despair? Get us our laurel wreath because it's crownin' time. […]

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Meanwhile, Lord Voldemort gathers his forces…

March 15th, 2008

Slate's readers suggest sports metaphors that explain Clinton versus Obama:

Fictional Winner: Quiddich from the Harry Potter novels. Its rules are opaque to most outside Hogwarts and many within it. Teams fly around on their broomsticks, scoring 10 points for making a "basket" by putting the quaffle through the hoop (winning a state). At the same time, 150 points is awarded for catching the snitch, a tiny gold ball that buzzes around elusively (like the superdelegates). A Seeker is the only player on each team who can catch the snitch. Obama, a first-year seeker like Harry himself, is likely in the house of Gryffindor. Hillary is from Ravenclaw, the smart, hard-working, teensy bit dull house. While everyone zooms around on their brooms, two enchanted balls (the press) fly around trying to knock them all off.

[Via rc3.org]

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"He's got total control of our Geocities page."

March 2nd, 2008

24: The Unaired 1994 Pilot.

[Via Andrew G, posting to a comment thread at Charlie's Diary]

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"Is that it?"

February 28th, 2008

People in Order:

People in Order's Age is part of a series of short films that assembles the people of Britain in a given order. In just 3 minutes, we meet 100 different people who are arranged according to their age, starting from age 1.

Quirky. Eccentric. Fun.

[Via Very Short List]

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The Last Movie Star

February 27th, 2008

A dissenter from the Cult of Clooney speaks out:

[George…] Clooney seems to have inherited the mantle of the supernova movie star. One way you can tell he’s being groomed to replace Jack Nicholson as the Zeus of the Hollywood Olympus is the deference he is paid at awards events. He’s the guy that the emcee and the other actors give a shout out to from the stage, that the camera constantly seeks out. Last night on the Oscar red carpet, Regis Philbin gushed that it used to be "everyone in this town wanted to be Cary Grant, and now they want to be George Clooney”. This week's Time magazine has a cover story titled "George Clooney: The Last Movie Star" in which the author says "this guy… really is a movie star. Maybe the only one we have now."

The only one we have. Wow. There's one teensy-weensy problem, though, that nobody seems to have noticed. One tiny little thing missing from the George Clooney is the World's Biggest Movie Star storyline…nobody watches his movies. […]

Basically, his argument is that few of Clooney's films have made big money, and those that did so owed as much to Clooney's co-stars as they did to the man himself. The contrast with Will Smith – a.k.a. Mr Fourth of July – in terms of box office takings is striking, but completely misses the point.

Quite apart from the general objection to treating box office take as a measure of anything meaningful to those not entitled to a share of the gross, there's the question of why people are film stars. It's not the money, it's the quality of the films, the iconic roles. We don't remember Cary Grant for his films' box office takings, but for his performances. Half a dozen of Clooney's films are going to be both remembered fondly and regarded as at least minor classics thirty years from now.1 Thus far Will Smith's best shot at immortality is probably Ali; his biggest box office hits are destined to look somewhat quaint at best thirty years on.

If you're going to argue for anyone as a rival to George Clooney in the World's Biggest (Male) Movie Star stakes, it'd be Tom Cruise: although his star has fallen somewhat lately, when he was on the way up Tom Cruise mixed big, commercial films and films with more adventurous directors.

[Via kottke.org]

  1. Whilst it's certainly true that in some cases Clooney benefited greatly from working with the likes of the Coen Brothers or Steven Soderbergh, that's no different to Cary Grant's good fortune in working with Hitchcock and Howard Hawks and Frank Capra. Other than Michael Mann, which top-drawer writers and directors has Will Smith worked with?

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The Amateurs

February 25th, 2008

I completely missed The Amateurs1 on its UK release. This review suggests I'm going to have to track it down on DVD some day:

[The revelation…] to me was William Fichtner as Otis the church janitor who owes his lowly and desperate station in life to his being the most relentlessly, brutally, and compulsively honest man in town.  He knows what’s right and what’s wrong with everyone, and he can’t help telling them.  But the person he’s most honest about is himself, making the case that one of the key qualities of a successful person is a large capacity for self-delusion.  When Otis asks for a job on the movie he’s careful not to request anything that would require real talent or skill because he knows he doesn’t have any of either.  "Is there a guy on a movie," he asks Andy, "whose job is to just stand around?"

He’s made executive-producer.

Fichtner handles Otis’s merciless truth-telling with a mixture of anger and self-loathing that is somehow charming and admirable and necessary because it both keeps his friends grounded in reality when they are about to float away on the balloons of their dreams and keeps them going when after crashing to earth they are tempted by despair into giving up.

Beyond that there’s not much to The Amateurs.  It’s a slight, if pleasant, film, and I only recommend it to die-hard fans of Jeff Bridges, great ensemble work, the Northern Exposure School of Film and Television making – ensemble dramadies set in impossibly crotchety and eccentric small towns – Glenne Headly’s spectacular cleavage, and the idea of Judy Greer getting her thong spanked by another woman.

  1. Also known as The Moguls.

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February 24th, 2008

Since I discovered podcasting I've increased the amount of spoken word broadcasting I listen to by about 300%. Now that I've found Speechification, I fully expect that figure to increase to around 500%.

A related site, Watchification points out TV programmes worth watching on the BBC's iPlayer and other online video sites.1

Now all I have to do is find the time to watch and listen to all this fascinating content…

  1. I was initially sceptical about the usefulness of the online version of the iPlayer; whereas Windows users can download programs to their PC to watch offline, Mac and Linux users are forced to watch a Flash version of the programme at the iPlayer site. However, in practice I've found the iPlayer site remarkably usable. The main problem I've encountered is that not all BBC programmes are available through iPlayer, presumably due to licensing issues.

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Then, as now

February 24th, 2008

Raymond Chandler on Oscar Night in Hollywood:

If you can go past those awful idiot faces on the bleachers outside the theater without a sense of the collapse of the human intelligence; if you can stand the hailstorm of flash bulbs popping at the poor patient actors who, like kings and queens, have never the right to look bored; if you can glance out over this gathered assemblage of what is supposed to be the elite of Hollywood and say to yourself without a sinking feeling, "In these hands lie the destinies of the only original art the modern world has conceived "; if you can laugh, and you probably will, at the cast-off jokes from the comedians on the stage, stuff that wasn't good enough to use on their radio shows; if you can stand the fake sentimentality and the platitudes of the officials and the mincing elocution of the glamour queens (you ought to hear them with four martinis down the hatch); if you can do all these things with grace and pleasure, and not have a wild and forsaken horror at the thought that most of these people actually take this shoddy performance seriously; and if you can then go out into the night to see half the police force of Los Angeles gathered to protect the golden ones from the mob in the free seats but not from that awful moaning sound they give out, like destiny whistling through a hollow shell; if you can do all these things and still feel next morning that the picture business is worth the attention of one single intelligent, artistic mind, then in the picture business you certainly belong, because this sort of vulgarity is part of its inevitable price.

[Via MetaFilter]

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"It's April, what do you expect?"

February 22nd, 2008

Jeremy Paxman's brief but eventful stint as a weather forecaster.

[Via The Sideshow]

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