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Thursday, December 11, 2003
Movies this week
Die Mommie Die: I'm all tapped out on drag movies. It's been done, done, done and if I see another set of four-inch false eyelashes projected to about eight feet in length... (sigh.) This one's gotten good reviews, so if you can see another one, go for it. I mean, I'm sure there are more catty, bitchy jokes to be had. I'm just out. Call me after the movie. I'll meet you guys for coffee or something.
In My Skin: This movie is about a woman who discovers she loves to cut herself. It was originally called, The Livejournal Chronicles. Oh, come on, I'm just kidding. I kid the Livejournalers. So, anyway, it's about a woman who gashes herself and watches the blood and who gets off on it or whatever, and this goes on for like an hour and a half, so if you like seeing wounds on the big screen and you haven't already seen Secretary, I guess this movie is the blood sister of you. Me, I get antsy watching someone get a paper cut.
Love Don't Cost a Thing: I haven't seen Drumline or any of the Nickelodeon stuff he's done, so I can't speak to the charms of Nick Cannon (I hear he's dreamy, though. "Dreamy Drummer Boy," they call him), but I have seen the original movie this one's based on, Can't Buy Me Love. How did we go from using a Beatles song as the title to using a Jennifer Lopez song? Nevertheless, I remember the movie being kind of silly, innocent fun. As innocent as a movie about paying a high school girl to be your ho can be. I think instead of money, the main character now offers the girl services, like online auctions or B2B e-tailing solutions, or something that brings this classic tale to the next century. But I won't be seeing this, so perhaps I'll never know.
Something's Gotta Give: I almost went to see this because I really liked About Schmidt and I had sort of forgiven Jack Nicholson for being so smarmy in the '80s and '90s, but then I saw that Nancy Meyers directed it and she's the same woman who conjured up the flaming hydra that was What Women Want, which however you view it or try to eye it through a prism of denial, was a terrible, terrible movie, the kind of movie that makes you go stick your head in your sock drawer and pray for sweet cotton death. Keanu Reeves is in it too, as a doctor, which you get the feeling was done just so he can add it to his growing list of improbable characters. (Buddha? Check. Rocket scientist? Check. Savior of the future machine-run world? Check.) Jack apparently shows his ass and Diane Keaton goes full frontal, and while a tiny piece of me is morbidly curious about all this (hey, nothing wrong with older ladies), the whole enterprise seems like it's going to have lots of mistaken-identity or mistaken-door-entering scenes, and bits toward the end where Jack turns out to be a sweet old guy after all (and vulnerable too!) and Diane Keaton is going to wear tinted glasses and laugh uproariously and, shit, I'm already looking for the EXIT sign. Which is all to say this movie is not What Omar Wants.
Stuck on You: Another movie I almost saw this week. This one wins out because Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon are both positive things in the world, to my view. Matt is certainly the one with the talent and the smarts in the Matt/Ben Hummel figurine set. And Kinnear. Hey, he even was funny on Friends, which is tough for any guest star who's not Elliot Gould. The Farrellys, though... They sort of stopped being so funny, didn't they? Shallow Hal was just okay. They just seem to be losing their bite. They used to be tasteless and go for the grossout and not give a shit, and now they're trying to be all soft and cuddly, like a Hooch who's learned to control his drool. I dunno. The one thing I never expected to hear critics point out about one of their films is that it holds back too much. Still, I need a good brainless comedy right now, so this might fit the bill.
Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion: You're really not supposed to laugh at that title. I'm sure it has signifigance, and you allow it bonus leeway points for being a documentary, but come on. "Cry of the Snow Lion?" Were "Pitter-Patter of the Eagle Feet" or "Jugular Ripping of the Vegas Tiger" taken? How about, "Tibet: Creamed Corn Capital of the East"? Or, "Tibet: Don't Come Knockin' if the Snow Cap's 'a Rockin'"? You're supposed to learn a lot watching this film, which no good can come of, and it's narrated by Ed Harris, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. I'm sure it's great, and well-made and all that, but between the title and the self-congratulatory tone of its narration cast, you get the feeling they're going to ask for donations and give you a tiny Tibet love bead bracelet when you come out of the theater.
DVDs: Freaky Friday was a lot of fun. I still need to see Whale Rider, and the first DVD of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force set arrived. I used to hate that show when it first arrived, but it's become one of my favorite Adult Swim cartoons. The episode with David Cross as the bitter action figure was the one that won me over. Also, I may partake again of the glory that is Pirates. Avast! Yar! Plankton breath!
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
It's better than yars
Have you heard the Milkshake Song?
It goes like this:
My Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
And they're like "It's better than yours"
Damn right, It's better than yours,
I can teach you, but I have to charge
To start with, the song is impossible to get out of your head once its in there. (My apologies if I just did that to you.) The second thing is that I don't know what the heck Kelis is talking about. What's a "Milkshake?" I know it's not, you know, an actual milkshake. So it must be dirty. And if it's what I think it is, if it's even related to what I think it could be, it's very, very filthy indeed.
We went out to the Apple Bar one night and the song came on the radio. I got so flustered and upset by my ignorance that I had no choice but to call my brother, who usually has forensic insight into what's up in hip hop.
Omar: Hey. It's me.
Omar: Your brother.
P.J.: Oh. Hey. What's up?
Omar: What's a "Milkshake?"
P.J.: Milk. Ice cream. Maybe a banana.
Omar: No, no, no. In that song. The "Milkshake Song."
P.J.: What "Milkshake Song?"
Omar: You know!
Omar: "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard... and they're like, 'It's better than yaaars.' "
P.J.: Keep going.
Omar: Grrrr. "I can teach you. But I have to charge."
Omar: So you've heard it?
P.J.: Yeah. I already knew what song you were talking about.
Omar: Asshole. So what does it mean?
P.J.: I don't know. I really haven't thought about it.
Omar: It sounds dirty.
Omar: So, er... can you find out for me?
P.J.: I'll see what I can do.
A half hour and one apple martini later:
P.J.: OK, I figured it out.
Omar: Cool. What is it?
Omar: What do you mean, nothing?
P.J.: It doesn't mean anything.
Omar: It has to mean something. It can't be a girl making milkshakes in her front yard.
P.J.: Well, that's what I found out.
Omar: Shit. I hate not knowing.
Omar: Maybe the milk is like, breast milk. And she's, you know, attracting people.
P.J.: I gotta go.
Omar: Or she's shaking her breasts. And charging girls to show them how to shake their breast milk.
P.J.: I really need to, ah... do something now.
Omar: Maybe it's a smoothie. A breast smoothie. That she has to warm up.
Omar: Hello? Hello?
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Now with deleted scenes
The way to read today's XL Blog entry to get the full measure of enjoyment from this extended Tom Cruise riff:
When you get to the paragraph that ends, "He started talking more and more about Scientology," insert these lines:
There were the rumors. (You know, those rumors.) Not that there's anything wrong with those rumors. We still like Richard Gere and he is to rumors about rodents what Rosie O'Donnell is to bad haircuts.
Then later on, replace this sentence: "The heck with that Boba Fett kid and the heck with Tom Cruise for getting paid $20 million to be a Samurai."
With this one:
So fuck that Boba Fett kid and fuck Tom Cruise for getting paid $20 million to be a Samurai.
Repeat as necessary.
Run, Ronnie, Run!
My recap (part one of two) of The Reagans is up at Television Without Pity. I think it's the longest thing I've ever written for the site. (And it's only the first half!)
Monday, December 08, 2003
Angels among us
I read Angels in America in high school. It was around the time I was really digging on Twin Peaks, and it was those years in Germany, isolated from my home, but plugged in through magazines, books and newspapers that I must have heard about it.
The play had hit Broadway and it was being called the most important play of its time. Ten years later, those reviews still hold up. Tony Kushner's play is revered and admired, a staple in college drama departments and a great source for audition monologues. (Although for a while, it became so popular for that that people got tired of her hearing them in auditions and at drama contests.)
I ordered the two volumes, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika and they came to me as slim, dark-gold-covered paperback volumes. I read them, devoured the language, built up the scenes in my head, fantasized about going to New York to see them. I'd never been to New York. I'd never been to Broadway.
The play tapped into my fears about politics, war, death, AIDS, abandonment, loss. But it also gave me hope. It's a hopeful play, a play whose optimism shines all the more because it comes at a great cost. Its message of hope is one that can't exist without pain, without sacrifice, without death and disease. It was a seven-hour play, in two parts, something I could barely wrap my head around. There were places where people paid to sit for seven hours and watch theater? Where was this place? Who were these people? Who had such power in their words to put them there?
I color copied the book covers and glue-sticked the beautiful illustrations to my bedroom wall. I read the plays again and again and when I moved to Oklahoma, I lent them out to friends. In college, I played Roy Cohn and Prior in two scenes done for an acting class. I saw the special on PBS called, "In the Wings," which showed scenes from the Broadway show. I was galvanized by Ron Leibman, who breathed life into a character I'd only ever imagined as I read the scripts. Harper to me was both scary and magical.
About five years ago, the plays were performed in Austin and I watched an amazingly talented group of local actors create this magical thing again. I shook when the Angel came down to Prior. I shivered with Prior's pronouncement for "More life." It got me all over again.
Now it's 10 years later and after years of reading about attempted film adaptations and ideas for movie versions (I think at one point, it was supposed to be a three or four hour film done by Miramax), it finally ended up where it probably belonged all along. As a mini-series on HBO.
I've skimmed the episodes (they sent us an advanced DVD a few weeks ago), but I'm planning to try to sit and watch the HBO version in two long sittings. What I've seen so far is promising. A lot of the dialogue is downplayed so much that if you don't know the text, you could miss some gems. It's also a little jarring to see people you're familiar with, like Meryl Streep, in the roles. But the words are there. The magic is there. When I hear bits like Harper's monologue about the ozone as the interlocking hands of angels or Roy Cohn's venomous diatribe about homosexuals and clout, I get goosebumps. These little speeches, the clever lines and dense ideas still reverberate in my head and hearing them again just opens up past imaginary conversations I've had myself, memories of Deep Thoughts, other memories about where I was (figuratively and physically) when I was reading a particular part of it.
It's a work of art, a big, nasty ball of love and fury, a work that's not easy to wrap your arms around. It's something I love and something that changed me forever. I don't know if the film version will do that for anyone, but for me it's just an added bonus: the plays already did their work.
Who do tech? Bloggystyle do.
Just a few little things before I update more fully later today. On Friday, I had a short piece run in the paper about Netflix, the service I've fallen back in love with. They're able to get a DVD to you the next day (as long as you don't have one to return first) and they've served up discy goodness to me after I took a year-and-half break from using their service.
Oh, is it totally wrong that I saw Freaky Friday last night and absolutely loved it? Like the sweet (but not oversweet) holiday morsel, Elf, I'm amazed that two comedic family movies that don't insult the intelligence of their intended audience were released the same year.
The other entertainment I've been thinking a lot about lately (What, you don't think Freaky Friday is worthy of serious analysis?) is Angels in America, which I'll write about more fully a little bit later. It's a work of art that I've loved since high school (the play version) and to believe that it's landed in film form still doesn't seem quite real to me. In any case, if you don't have HBO, get a friend to tape it for you. It's a stunning work, in any form.
And for my gamers out there (hollah!) Microsoft just announced it's giving away the massively multiplayer online game "Planetside" with a month of free play. (You can cancel if you don't like it to avoid the $12.99-a-month fees thereafter.) I played it early in its release, and although I liked it, I couldn't quite commit to this massive online ongoing war. I'm like that with massive war. But I've heard it's been steadily improved, and if you have the bandwidth and the gaming rig to play it, you certainly can't beat the price.
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