Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Road Kill Words from a Rhodes Scholar

Imagine for a moment that the world has run you over with a forklift. The job is gone; the money has run out. The wife disappeared with the homeless guy down the street. The kids did the right thing and broke into prison.The food on the shelves consists of stale air and untouched dust. The hounds of foreclosure are banging down the door. Time to make the Alamo stand. Your weapon of choice, last year's copy of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide because, like yourself, it is already obsolete. The door smashes open. The blaggard Javier Bardem, cattle gun drawn, should be standing in front of you.

Instead you see this guy leading the charge:

Bobby Jindal is the Governor of Louisiana. He is also a Rhodes Scholar. He presented the Republican talking points last night after President Obama's speech.

It's amazing that now a personality can be outsourced. Call me old fashioned, but I want a national spokesman from the Planet WTF to have a deep menacing voice, twirl a moustache, walk around in a bulky pin stripe suit carrying a heater, and have a name like Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Sauron, Shere Khan, or Captain Hook. Bobby Jindal sounded like a whiny guy selling ShamWow at 3 AM on Lifetime. He exuded all the compassion of a broken levee. Apparently an angry ex-wife dressed him for the occasion.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Animation, Sergio Leone Style

The Cold Rush by Mikael Lynen, Simon Corbaux, Tristan Urbin and Rémi Certhoux

Once more my win/loss record for choosing Oscar winners ranks me right up there with Napoleon betting against the Russian Winter and Custer's certainty that his Crow scouts were too drunk to have possibly seen so many Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians playing canasta along the Little Bighorn. I was so depressed at my lack of prowess to understand the Academy that I fell into a deep funk, which should not be confused with Deep Purple or Grand Funk. Not even an abbreviated audio reading of The Reader helped my mood.

In search of a quick pick-me-up, I did a Google search for Chaplin's The Gold Rush. What a slap your knee, barrel of fun that movie is! I especially love the scene where The Little Tramp cooks his last pair of shoes to avoid starvation. Looking longingly into my closet, I knew that I would be able to weather the hardships of this recession, although I'm not certain penny loafers are as nutritious and rich in Niacin and Vitamin B12 as my steel-tipped hiking boots.

But I missed The Gold Rush by one Ramos Gin Fizz-slapped key, stumbling instead upon The Cold Rush, a visually stunning piece of perverse storytelling that had me laughing and dancing and calling up ex-girlfriends to ask if they remembered me. The ending is straight spaghetti western, those words keying my lust to hunt up a frozen cannoli and an excuse to cue the finest opening movie score outside of a Bond movie.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If I Could Vote For Oscar this Year


I see scores of new movies a year, and I have an opinion on every one of them. This means nothing more than a bunch of burned out brain cells, because I am not a voting member of the Academy. Over the decades, my win/loss ratio in office pools ranks right up there with the '62 Mets. If I say a movie will win or a star will walk away with the Oscar, bet the opposite. I lost so much money choosing Saving Private Ryan to win Best Picture in 1998, for instance, that I'm still paying off a guy named Vinnie Shakespeare. That should have been the clue. The lack of Oscar acclaim for Citizen Kane, The Searchers, The Wild Bunch, Singing in the Rain, any Sergio Leone film, Barbara Stanwyck, Montgomery Clift, and so many others is well known and a reminder that Academy members have no more knowledge of what will make a classic than any of us mortals. Check out this flotilla of presumed Oscar snubs.

If I could vote here are my choices for the Oscars. The movies with the parentheses, I suspect, look by all odds to be the winners. By Monday afternoon, I along with the rest of the Universe will have completely forgotten who won what but will already be looking forward to next year's competition.

Supporting actress:
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler" (Amy Adams, "Doubt")

David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire")

Animated feature:
"WALL-E" (should have been nominated for Best Picture)

Adapted screenplay:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," screenplay by Eric Roth, screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord ("Slumdog Millionaire," screenplay by Simon Beaufoy)

Original screenplay:
"WALL-E," screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon; original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter (what else?)

Foreign language film:
"Waltz with Bashir," Israel (anti-war films always win Best Foreign)