No Country For Old Me

I'm not gonna lie... I thought it was good, but I didn't think it was that good. It's always disappointing when you really want to love a movie, and you expect to really love the movie because all your friends tell you how amazing it is and the entire world says it's a shoo-in for Best Picture, and then you finally watch it and when the credits start rolling you're forced to admit that it wasn't quite all you hoped it would be. I'll be rooting for "There Will Be Blood" on Sunday evening.

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Blogger OD's on Popcorn, Checks Into Promises Rehab


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - I caught myself composing a mental grocery list during this incredibly long and convoluted movie. But you really can't blame me - Johnny Depp is barely even in it and that's the only reason I was there. Instead, countless plot twists that no sane person can follow are hurled at the audience every five seconds for pretty much no reason other than to detract us slightly from Keira Knightly's inflated upper lip. And that doesn't even work.

Blackbook Black Book - Surprisingly entertaining. WWII thriller about a Jewish woman who loses her family, goes undercover for the Dutch Resistance, seduces a high-ranking Nazi officer, and lots of other things I won't go into in case you actually want to see the movie without me ruining it. Carice van Houten, who I'd never heard of before, is adorable and gives an amazing performance. Director Paul Verhoeven (of "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls" fame) clearly knows how to titillate an audience. Don't bring the kids.

Spiderman3_2 Spider-Man 3 - The Emo Peter Parker twist is so painful it's funny. It was like watching a joke movie half the time. I'm pretty sure people were high when they shot this film. You could cut twelve hours out and not lose any important plot lines. That said, it wasn't so terrible. I thought Spider-Man fans were a little generous with the first two movies anyway.

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Girl on Film

When you're unemployed, you tend to go to the movies a lot. Why? Because it's 3 p.m. on Tuesday and you're in the mother effing MOOD, that's why! I wonder if I could subsist solely on theater popcorn? For what it's worth, I never add butter.

In a nutshell:

The Lives of Others - Excellent! Sort of a German Communist political dissonance love story/tragedy. I know my description sucks. Starts slow, but you'll be glad you stuck with it.

The Namesake - Pretty good! Illustrates the emotional complexities within an NRI (non-resident Indian) family living in the States.

Hot Fuzz - Not that funny! It's too bad, because I had really high hopes. Maybe too high. The movie has its moments, but ultimately it's a disappointment.

Blades of Glory - Funny enough! But still really dumb. But still funny enough to not make you want your money back. I mean, it's ice skating. And ice skating is funny.

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V for Victory

As my moblog indicates, over the weekend I was in New York for a sneak preview of "V for Vendetta," the new comic-inspired flick written and produced by the "famous-for-a-few-bizarre-reasons-but-mostly-for-the-Matrix-movies" Wachowski brothers. And I'm thrilled to report that I absolutely loved it! Totally rocked. Great flick. There was a time where I'd have written a really long explanation of why I loved it, but this is not one of those times.

The film opens on March 17th and I hope you all have a chance to see it between Irish car bombs. Until then, you'll have to settle for the trailers and my brilliant opinion.

As we march forward into March (!!!!!), I hope you're all enjoying yourselves, hugging your pets, and saying nice things to the people you love. Oscars this Sunday!

PS- IRL, Natalie Portman makes me look like a cow. She may actually be world's first real pixie. A ridiculously cute one at that.

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Celluloid Lane: Sin City

My, my. Where do I begin?

I've had unreasonably high hopes for "Sin City" ever since I watched that fabulous trailer. But it's not like graphic novels-turned-movies have impeccable track records on the big screen, so imagine my concern going into this.

For lack of a more eloquent explanation, "Sin City" freaking rules.

Remember the first time you saw "Pulp Fiction"? You were unnerved and at times downright repelled, but you admitted that it was the freshest, most original thing to be put into a theater since... ever, and you couldn't wait to talk about how amazing it was with everyone you knew? "Sin City" is kind of like that.


So I'm having a hard time explaining this movie, because it's exactly like reading a Frank Miller graphic novel panel by panel, except that the images move. So let's do Q&A instead.

1. Is "Sin City" a family movie?
- Heavens no. It's incredibly graphic and gruesome. I know YOU'RE into that, but don't bring the kids.

2. What's the plot all about?
- It's complicated. But if you're familiar with Frank Miller, "Sin City" the movie primarily reinacts 3 of his original stories: "The Hard Goodbye", "The Big Fat Kill", and "That Yellow Bastard".

3. Can I expect a love story?
- Yes.

4. Can I expect nudity?
- Yes.

5. Can I expect to laugh?
- Yes, although you might feel inappropriate when you do.

6. Does the all-star cast detract from the story at all?
- Refreshingly, no. No one character is the main star, it's more like a bunch of supporting roles. Great supporting roles. These actors are stoked.

7. I hear Robert Rodriguez directed "Sin City". What's his deal?
- Robert Rodriguez is a well-respected force in Hollywood (El Mariachi, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids), but Frank Miller co-directed the project from start to finish. The collaboration kept the story eerily true to the comic. Quentin Tarantino guest directed as well.

8. Are we talking CG animation or live action?
- Almost all the live action was done with green screens and props, then the magic was painted in later. It's amazing.

9. But I'm not into comic books.
- I'm not either. It doesn't matter. This is cinematic history.

10. I was pleased to see lots of hot chicks in the trailer. Can I expect more of that?
- You sure can, my friend! But they'll also chop your head off. Literally.

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The Golden Globes... Live at sarah.word.

8:03 pm- Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture- Clive Owen? CLIVE OWEN? Ok people, this is a crappy way to start the show. You're telling me Clive in "Closer" beats Thomas Hayden Church in "Sideways"? Did the Hollywood Foreign Press actually watch "Closer"? Because I did. And I demand a recount!

8:06 pm- Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture- Ok, I realize Natalie Portman is pretty much the cutest thing any of us have seen in the last 10 years, but... again with the "Closer". Sigh. Ok fine, she kind of deserved it. And her dress is fabulous.


8:12 pm- Best Supporting Actress in a Series/Miniseries/Etc - Anjelica Huston. Sure, she's good.

8:14 pm- Best Supporting Actor in a Series/Miniseries/Etc - And the award goes to... Caption Kirk! Er, William Shatner. Let's just hope he sticks to acting. Has anyone seen him perform in that weird band?

COMMERICAL BREAK (I have a feeling I'll be sorry I decided to break up the show this way)

8:20 pm- Diane Lane presenting a clip from "Kinsey", one of the night's nominated dramas. I support any actress with my last name.

8:22 pm- Jim Carrey introduces the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press. Hi, Lorenzo. Please hurry your speech along. I'm on a timeline. Oh wait, now we're going to a taped clip of Bill Clinton thanking Hollywood for the Tsunami effort. He says to go to to find out how to help more. Actually, I think I will.

8:25 pm- Best Actress in a TV Drama Series- Mariska Hargitay for "Law & Order: SVU", which I've never seen. There are just TOO MANY Law & Orders. Sorry Miss H.

8:29 pm- Best Actor in a TV Drama Series- Ian McShane for "Deadwood". Mmm, I saw an episode or two. Filthy mouths, those cowboys.


8:39 pm- Meryl Streep presents... Best Miniseries or Motion Picture for TV- "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers". Speaking of Pete, did anyone see the movie "Being There"? Freakishly good.

8:42 pm- Best Actor in a Comedy Series- Jason Bateman! And you thought he'd never go farther than "The Hogan Family." Which was once called "Valerie's Family". Which was once called "Valerie".


8:49 pm- Halle Berry shows us a clip of "Finding Neverland", also up for Best Pic. I really loved this movie. Johnny Depp can do no wrong.

8:51 PM- Will Ferrell is wearing an eye patch. Just thought I'd share. Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy - Annette Bening. She sure has presence, doesn't she?

8:56- Best TV Series Drama- "Nip/Tuck". I've heard good things. Anyone? Nip/Tuck? Worthwhile?



9:14 pm- Ok, what'd I miss? Ok, Glenn Close wins for Best Actress in a TV Miniseries. I realize this is completely unfair and in the past, but I'm still angry at her for boiling that rabbit.


9:27 pm- "The Sea Inside" wins for Best Foreign Language Film. Which I haven't seen, but it better be good if it beat "A Very Long Engagement"!!!


9:34 pm- Best Screenplay (if Eternal Sunshine doesn't win I'll boycott the rest of this show) ...... "Sideways". While I really, really enjoyed "Sideways", I think "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is far, far more worthy. Still deciding whether to boycott. Very angry.

9:37 pm- Best Actress in a TV Comedy- Teri Hatcher, "Desperate Housewives", the show that bores me.


9:45 pm- Clip of "Hotel Rwanda", nominee for Best Pic. Man, that looks good... and heavy.

9:46 pm- OMG! What are Usher and Lisa Marie Presley doing on stage? Oh, riiiiiiiight, it's the award for Best Original Score. How clever. Just like Usher's indoor sunglasses. Wait, who won? Ah yes. "The Aviator". I loved that movie.

9:48 pm- Best Original Song (also presented by the musically challenged duo from previous entry) - "Old Habits Die Hard" from the film "Alfie", performed by Mick Jagger? Er, yeah. Never heard of it. But I do love Mick.


9:57 pm- Prince is onstage, wearing pink and black. Somehow it works. Clip from "Ray".

9:59 pm- Best Director, Motion Picture - Clint Eastwood! Who else thinks "Million Dollar Baby" is going to sweep the Oscars? Hey, he even got a standing O.

10:02 pm- Diane Keaton's outfit is.... is.... scary.

10:02 pm- Best Actor in a Motion Pic, Comedy or Musical- Jamie Foxx. I feel sorry for Paul Giamatti, because any other year and it would have been him. But "Ray" had it in the bag.

Jamie Foxx's speech just made me cry.



10:13 pm- Pierce Brosnan is honoring Robin Williams with the Cecil B. DeMille Award. If you're watching, you're getting a wonderful look back at RW's outstanding career.

10:24 pm- Robin's killing 'em onstage. I mean he's really going for it with this speech. Bravo!

10:27 pm- Robin dedicates his award to Christopher Reeve.


10:31 pm- Orlando Bloom (Legolas to me) presenting a clip of "The Aviator". Go see it.

10:33 pm- CHARLIZE! Maybe I should consider dyeing my hair black. Wow.

10:34 pm- Leonardo DiCaprio wins Best Actor for "The Aviator".


10:40 pm- Best TV Series Comedy- "Desperate Housewives". Yawn. Though you want to root for the creator.

10:44 pm- Clip from "Sideways". Please, please go see this movie. Unless you're under 18, and then maybe not. Hard to say if I would have liked it back then.

10:46 pm- Best Actress.... Hilary Swank. I stand by my Oscar claim for "Baby". And to think she started out on 90210! Remember to thank your husband, Hilary! Good girl.


10:54 pm- Hmm... why, of all people, is Sylvester Stallone presenting a clip for "Million Dollar"- oh, oh! The boxing thing! Of course.

10:55 pm- Best Motion Picture Comedy- "Sideways". Yay! You can just hear all the actors sighing with relief that they've been guaranteed some more good roles.

10:58 pm- Best Motion Picture Drama- "The Aviator"!!!! Frankly, I'm shocked. Great movie, but figured it would be passed over. Hey, now you have no excuse not to go see it and learn more about Howard Hughes. Creepy creepy.


Well, my friends, if you made it this far, you deserve an award. And if you actually followed along with me in realtime, you deserve a standing ovation!

I'd like to thank all the people who helped me get here tonight....ah, where to start...
First and foremost, Six Apart for creating Typepad, my agents Cosmo, Luther, and Bunny, my mom for teaching me to be an awards show junkie, and my darling Bobby, who IM'd me through the whole evening, giving me support and encouragement and believing in me when no one else did.

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Celluloid Lane: Ocean's Twelve

Oceans12Well, it isn't spectacular, but it also isn't terrible. The sequel to "Ocean's Eleven" stars all the same names, has that familiar swanky vibe, and still involves a large heist, but somehow doesn't ever really get up and moving. You'll love the inevitable plot twists, but you might catch yourself getting bored here and there.

You know them all: Danny Ocean and his band of merry thieves, all back for "Ocean's Twelve". Except this time, they need to steal something reeeeeeally expensive to pay back the casino owner they ripped off in the first movie (yep, he's pissed). As you can imagine, much strategizing ensues, with dashes of comedy for good measure.

What's gotten tiresome after two movies is the way Ocean and his team always have empty warehouses to hold meetings in, cutting-edge technology for breaking and entering, and enough smarts to always outsmart other smart people. I know part of the charm of these guys is that they're total pros, but I can only go along with so much before it starts to get silly.

Amazingly enough, Julia Roberts is my favorite part of "Ocean's Twelve". It's a total turnaround for her character from the first film, who I originally found cold and unnecessary. I won't give away the joke, but she redeemed herself.

Small complaints aside, I have no doubt "Ocean's 12" will do splendidly at the box office this weekend, and most of you will feel you at least got your money's worth. And if you're a Brad Pitt/George Clooney fan, you'll probably see it twice.

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Celluloid Lane: Closer

CloserHave you ever been so in love that you did something awful to make the person hate you and set you free from your obsession? Have you ever been so in love you'd forgive someone for making your worst fear come true? Have you ever been so in love that you were reduced to nothing more than pathetic ash? If you answered yes to any of the above, you'll probably relate to the characters in "Closer". But you probably still won't enjoy it.

Quick synopsis so I don't ruin the happy ending (just kidding, it's because I can't bear to think about it any longer)- Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law, and Natalie Portman are four deeply flawed characters intertwined in a bizarre and largely unbelievable love triangle. The glaring annoyance is that none of them seem to understand real passion or the modern concept of fidelity, although they manage to keep all the trouble within a nice, neat, 4-person reality over the course of several years. I saw redeeming twinkles in each of their eyes now and then, but they continued living disappointing lives. My guess is that the point of the movie was to showcase true character flaws, the kind that will tear someone away from their dearly beloveds no matter how they try to reform...but we as an audience get zero background on these folks and what could have possibly gone wrong earlier in life to warrant such mental cruelty.

Ok, I'll admit the acting is quite good, but do these sound like people you'd like to watch for two hours? I assure you the problem doesn't get fixed and nobody learns anything.

Oh, but you will see Natalie Portman in a stripper thong and not much else for a good 10 minutes. Yep, she's a stripper, though by far the most angelic stripper ever seen on film. So if that's your bag, perhaps you should stop listening to me.

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Celluloid Lane: Finding Neverland

FindingneverlandI'm a big Johnny Depp fan, so when "Finding Neverland" opened at a theater near my house, I was first in line. Depp plays James Barrie, a playwright who receives the inspiration for "Peter Pan" while spending time with a lovely widow (Kate Winslet) and her four sons.

I liked the movie. A lot. My reasoning is based on the casting of Depp as a grown man who enjoys the company of children and believes in the power of imagination. Why? Because for a man over 40 years old, Depp has a eerie youthful quality that seems only to glow more as he ages. It really works here.

The story itself is a small, sweet tale about growing up (while not growing up) and making the choice to continue to believe in a certain type of magic. Those who know the story of Peter Pan will probably enjoy the depiction of Barrie and his quirks, as one would assume a grown-up who visits "Neverland" is a unique grown-up indeed. No need for any comparisons to Michael Jackson, although the film does touch lightly on the stigma involved with men and boys, and reveals that while Barrie's intentions were purely innocent, those around him didn't always see it that way.

I have a feeling that "Finding Neverland" will seem too slow for some of you, and perhaps it can be argued that nothing really happens, if you're looking for something loud and adventurous. But Peter Pan fans, Depp fans, and cinematic whimsy fans won't be disappointed. Bring your Kleenex.

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Celluloid Lane: "Garden State"

garden_stateIn the first few minutes of "Garden State", I assumed I was watching a movie about apathy- the kind of apathy so many of us in our mid-20s experience when we realize that life is hard and unfair and we'll never be rich and famous no matter how hard we work. "Garden State" is refreshingly more complicated and cleverly woven than that, though I do get the sense that main character Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff, who also wrote/directed the film) and I have shared a few of the same "i'm a grown-up now" disappointments.

In short, Andrew is coming home to New Jersey from LA for his mother's funeral. Deep-rooted family issues have kept him on the opposite coast since he was old enough to escape, though, for reasons not immediately clear to us, even the allure of LA has never allowed him much joy or emotion. Those who help him along what ends up being an introspective journey are a few old friends from high school (similar to a few I left behind in my own small town, which is both amusing and depressing), and a beautiful, odd stranger (Natalie Portman), with whom Andrew crosses paths.

"Garden State" ambles along without much of a conflict or climax, but somehow manages to stay focused without dragging itself down in angst or veering away from what's essentially a simple tale. A impressively thoughtful soundtrack seals the deal. This was a sweet little movie... touching and smart.

PS- Guys, don't shy away. This movie is more for you than me.

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A Bomb on Celluloid Lane: "Exorcist: The Beginning"

exorcistThere are many reasons why I didn't enjoy "Exorcist: The Beginning". The most obvious reason is that it was a horrible, horrible movie. I don't even feel it deserves a proper review. Think "The Mummy" meets Satan, except that the plot unravels at an absurd pace and the acting is laughable at best.

Anyone who saw the original Exorcist knows how a scary movie is done right, right? Man, I remember the first time I saw it. I was at a slumber party in 6th grade, and was so traumatized and freaked out that I called my parents sobbing in the middle of the night to come get me.

The original Exorcist had none of the gratuitous violence, campy one-liners, oh-so-obvious bathroom shower shots, and obligatory "the bad guy's dead but not really because when you sigh and walk away his eyes will open and he'll grab your ankle and we'll have to sit through more of this crap" scenes that we scary movie audiences, for inexplicable reasons, have come to expect. That's what I call lazy horror, and this new "prequel" to the 1973 classic was nothing but. I hate to be so critical of a series I've always enjoyed, but there you go.

Hmm what else, oh yes... I enjoyed the experience even less because of the mind-blowingly inconsiderate audience members I had to share oxygen with, the type that seem to flock horror movie seats in larger droves than any other film genre. I thought the same thing when I went to see "Scream" back in 1996, except at least then it was an issue of people yelling out stupid comments to the screen as if they weren't ruining the magic for everyone else. Last night, a girl in the row behind us was having a conversation on her cell phone for the first five minutes of the movie (I still thought I could be in for a good flick at that point, so the distraction factor just didn't seem fair). She wasn't even whispering. So I shushed her. I gave her the bewildered "what are you thinking?" stare. I even asked her to please, please be quiet in a very calm big girl voice. She ignored me and eventually walked out of the theater when the conversation was over, never to return. Unbelievable. Who are these people, and are they actually aliens?

Thankfully, I always enjoy a warm bag of popcorn regardless of my surroundings, and the credits eventually rolled. Hooray!

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Celluloid Lane: "I, Robot"

irobotsmall Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend a pre-release screening of "I, Robot", 20th Century Fox's cinematic take on the short stories of Isaac Asimov.

If you aren't already familiar with Asimov's impressive sci-fi collection, let me get you up speed with his Three Laws of Robotics: 1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Laws.

In theory, these Laws seem kind of perfect and fool-proof, right? Robots are good, robots help people, robots stay safe. And that's exactly what we see as "I, Robot" (the movie) begins. In the futuristic city of Chicago set in 2035, humans and robots mingle seamlessly as machines have taken over life's dirty work. But a new revolution is on the horizon, as a brand-new model called the NS-5, manufactured by corporate giant U.S. Robotics (USR), is about to be shipped to households in numbers that will swell the robot population to 1 unit to every 5 humans. The movie cleverly incorporates Asimov's Laws into the slogan USR has created on billboards around the city touting the NS-5's guarantee: "Three Laws Safe!"

Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a vintage-loving cop wary of robots and their infinite logic. He doesn't trust their inability to make emotionally-charged choices and suspiciously awaits a big malfunction. When the facts on a suicide from inside USR's headquarters don't add up, you can bet Spooner's on the case. It's at this point that he's introduced to Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), a shy, brilliant robot psychologist working for USR and lacking a few good ol' human social skills. Together they try to figure out the mystery behind this death with the help of one very unique NS-5 robot named Sonny, one that is markedly different from its peers.

I'm not going to give away the plot, so if you're intrigued by what you've read so far, you'll probably dig this film. The sci-fi aspect alone is fascinating, and a surprisingly believable peek into a future Chicago is carefully thought-out and a joy to observe. "I, Robot" also claims to feature the most advanced CGI character ever on film (the robot Sonny), and I imagine you tech buffs will have a field day debating this film's proper rank on the special effects scale. It looked pretty good to me, but I also suspect that SFX are like megapixels to my eyes: once the picture looks good, further advances provide diminishing returns.

And forgive me for pointing out the obvious here, but action movies have become so utterly, painfully obvious and predictable (e.g. hero/sexy woman/danger/car chase/explosion/sexual tension/car chase II/ injury almost to the point of death/motorcycle chase once car is demolished in climactic car chase III) that I have a hard time accepting them time after time. Will Smith, already a proven actor capable of more than guns and one-liners, offers up little more here than big muscles and weak jokes. I'm not surprised, but rather disappointed, with both the film's producers and the enthusiastic audience for allowing this kind of uncreative nonsense to seep into every freakin blockbuster released in the last ten years.

Ok so it wasn't perfect, but I liked the movie. Good premise, good adaptation of a science fiction concept first delivered over half a century ago, good effects. Just don't expect twists and turns beyond the Hollywood norm and you'll be fine.

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Celluloid Lane: "Fahrenheit 9/11"

28m Anyone who follows Michael Moore knows that he relishes in controversy, and this film is no exception. Depending on the way you lean, "9/11" might make you feel power, anger, elation, or smugness. I felt all of these emotions, but none that even came close to overwhelming sadness. I didn't think this was a funny film, even though at times it wanted to be, and judging from the whoops and snickering around me in the packed theater, it was somewhat successful.

Politics are tricky. No matter what party with which you affiliate, someone's gonna scoff at you for making a really stupid choice. I gave up trying to argue my case (which is a really great case, btw) a long time ago, because I hate it when others do it to me. That's not to say political activists should shut up and take it inside, because good activism can work. I guess I'm just not a good activist. I'm reminded of past religious discussions I've participated in where those who truly believe can't be bothered with logic. Political beliefs tend to drift away from real facts and become kindergarten debates really fast, with opponents hurling insults like "you're just a liberal tree-hugging hippie" and "you and your power-hungry conservatives are only concerned with the wealthy elite". The next time someone tries either of those on you, point them in the direction of the local junior college and wish them well.

Oh, and I don't think all religious paths are devoid of logic. Just a few.

I took a good look at the demographic around me in the theater at "9/11" before the movie started, and I couldn't get a pulse. I'm not sure what I expected- a few more "No Blood for Oil" pins and maybe a stronger scent of revolution in the air? Nah, I think most of these folks wanted to watch the latest over-hyped film the day  it was released in select cities so that they could dangle the goods at Saturday's cocktail party. No problem, folks. God bless America.

Moore is an unapologetic liberal activist, and one of his prized cinematic weapons has always focused on making his adversaries look foolish. It's extremely successful in this film, as President Bush has never looked worse. He comes off as stupid, mean, uncompassionate, blah blah blah. But I kept glancing around every time the audience would laugh and clap, wondering why, if they all agreed that our nation's president is dumb and horrible and evil, they thought it was funny. Seems pretty unfunny to me.

I wish I didn't have to dance around who's right and wrong and if this movie was real or fake and are Democrats or Republicans more likely to go to heaven and so on, but my personal opinions would only alienate around half of you, so I'll refrain. What I will say is that the movie provoked me, just as it set out to do. I won't say I enjoyed it, but who really enjoys war and death and corruption anyway? Regardless of truth-stretching and one-sidedness and all of the other things Moore has already been and will continue to be accused of, it definitely didn't leave me cold. It left me sad.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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And the Award Goes To...

Live From Celluloid Lane: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

Last night I had the immense pleasure of experiencing this movie. And I'm gonna have to recommend it to pretty much anyone, unless you don't like extreme creativity or have something against films shot out of chronological sequence. Point being, we have a gem.

Now, there are Jim Carrey fans, and then there's me. I don't hate the fellow, but with the exception of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective", I've never been a huge fan. The teeth, the wild arm waving.... you dig? But anyway, let's put all that aside because if I ever doubted Mr. Carrey's abilities to pull off a strong dramatic performance, this flick turned me right around. He's just perfect as Joel, a boring, square dude trying to make love work with a wild mismatch of a girlfriend (Kate Winslet). Winslet is naturally fantastic as impulsive, often reckless Clementine, whose mood is as bipolar as her hair is bright (the color changes often through the film, helping you differentiate flashbacks from present time, though it serves more purpose than that).

The absurdity that these two radically different personalities would ever get together in the first place is validated as the relationship falls apart. But the story takes a bizarre turn when, post-breakup, Joel finds out that Clementine has undergone a surgical procedure to have him erased from her mind. Almost out of spite, Joel has the same procedure performed to rid himself of his own painful memories. Sound weird? Very. But as "Eternal Sunshine" is another Charlie Kaufman screenplay (Human Nature, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), this is only the beginning. The real magic gets underway as unconscious Joel, mid-procedure, comprehends the power of beautiful memories and attempts to reverse what is being zapped away by a computer...while still trapped inside his own brain. Brilliant. Can someone bring me what Kaufman had for lunch?

By the way, if you haven't indulged in his aforementioned flicks, stop right now and come back when you have. You'll thank me.

Prior to my "Eternal Sunshine" ticket, I'd read a few glowing reviews...though the critics all seemed to have trouble explaining the plotline. Now that I've been to the theater, I won't even try. It's one of those unexplainable stories that gain nothing from being explained. Somehow, "Eternal Sunshine" also pulls off a legitimate romantic tale, one in which the clear message is that love paves a certain path that we as humans cannot deviate from, despite the most sincere interference. It's all very heavy, and as I wiped away a tear on my way out of the theater (sobbed is more accurate), I was filled with a renewed sense of fragility coupled with an urgency to hold onto what's most dear to me.

And that's why I couldn't wait to gush about this movie to all of you...because it's really, really worthy. I haven't felt this way in a long time. Please feel free to discuss below.

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Celluloid Lane: City of God

city of god-small.bmpRuntime: 130 minutes. Rated R.

Note to self: remember that when you tell everyone you're going to start writing movie reviews, you should.

Moving on.... I'm a fan of foreign movies. The less predictable and blockbusteresque (yes, I made that word up), the better. And subtitles... you either love 'em or you hate 'em. I love 'em. Come on now. I hear rotten, ugly English all day long. Let's listen to somebody else!

And so I embraced Brazilian Portuguese, during "Cidade de Deus� (City of God). Heather and I caught it at the Red Vic a couple weeks ago as it made its final rounds through the city. By the way, The Red Vic has this incredible popcorn topped with Brewer's Yeast in lieu of fake butter and salt. Just one taste, and you'll be a believer.

Back to the flick. It begins in the 60s. We are introduced to a group of youths growing up in what looks much like the slummiest of army barracks, which is actually a huge housing development built to accomodate the large number of country folk who've migrated to Rio de Janeiro in search of something better... the "City of God."

We become familiar with great poverty... though while the scene is certainly forlorn, it's not as hideous as your mind might concoct a Brazilian ghetto to be. What's more apparent is an abundance of young children who walk with pistols, rob their neighbors, and have an overall apathy for human existance. Bad news, but you always kind of knew this sort of thing existed, right?

The story steers us toward a group of boys growing up in the City of God.  They chase girls, they play soccer, they laugh at the sorts of things little kids find amusing, but they also carry guns. A teenage trio from the pack, in an effort to steal more efficiently, decides to rob a nearby hotel. They bring one of their younger brothers along to keep watch outside (policemen, however corrupt, are still a source of concern). Unfortunately, the young boy is inexplicably bloodthirsty, and what begins as a simple robbery turns into a scene of mass homicide. It's an unbelievably brutal way to start things off.

These initial scenes set the tone for what's to come in the next two decades (the film is split into 3 total). Our only real hero, Rocket, grows up shunning the hood life (he loves photography, hallelujah!). But he's still intertwined in the lives of his childhood playmates- now vicious, murdering drug lords who keep the cops at bay and the neighborhood in fear. Much as he tries to avoid the violence, he keeps getting sucked in. He hones his journalistic skills by documenting the gangster life surrounding him, though escape is never an option. You are either with the gang, or you are with the other gang.

Sounds bleak? It is. Don't expect things to get better around the City of God. These soulless youths lower your faith in mankind's ability to pull itself out of one very miserable funk. Greed, pride, and ignorance are powerful weapons, never more obvious than in this story. This is a tale of children, aging without parents, schooling, or discipline, who choose the most lucrative paths they can to scramble atop a cesspool of forgotten faces. And believe it or not, drugs aren't even really the problem.

I won't get too involved in the details of the plot- I think I've told you enough to come to your own conclusions about how a jig like this might end...and did I mention it's a true story? And have I forgotten to tell you that I really enjoyed "City of God?" I did. Sometimes a pathetic tale is just recreated beautifully. The no-frills, honest method will always bring my desensitized little heart to tears most genuinely.

I've got to hand it to those in charge of casting this film. There are 6, 7 year old actors who will have you convinced they've got what it takes to be the next top dog in crime. It's remarkable, and frightening. Cinematography fans will agree "City of God" does the gritty thing flawlessly, reminiscent of the Tijuana scenes from "Traffic" with their yellowy, sallow filters. I wish I could tell you what I thought of the musical score, but it didn't leave an impression. Perhaps the subject matter left no room to appreciate it. I did eat all my popcorn, if that matters.

Well? Let's talk about it!

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Movies that don't completely suck.

I love film. Nothing makes me happier (or sadder) than a brilliant movie. That said, my favorites list is an eclectic one, and not without some conflicts. (I've left out all SW and LOTRs because of the obvious factor).

1. Magnolia
- one of the most moving 2 1/2 hours I ever spent. Went alone to the theater and cried like a baby. BTW, going alone to the theater is really fun!

2. The Princess Bride - Rob Reiner's classic tale of true love, giants, and swordfights. It's one of those movies I know all the words to, and am always highly disappointed when people don't get my references.

3. Austin Powers-Goldmember
- Surprisingly enough, I wasn't in love with the first two in this series. I loved the third. There's nothing funnier than this movie. I generally think that people who don't agree with me are axe murderers.

4. The Breakfast Club
- I saw this movie in 1986, a year after it was released. It was R rated, and I knew my parents would be mad at Kari Wallerstein's parents for letting me watch it, so I didn't tell them. Always takes me back to being an 80s kid and lusting after Molly Ringwald's dance moves. Don't even talk to me about John Hughes' other stuff. BC rules all.

5. High Fidelity
- A wonderful love story/John Cusack masterpiece. Who doesn't love a good John Cusack? Damn, if you know what it's like to have loved and have lost --that's all of us, weep weep-- you'll relate. Also a must-see for music snobs across the world (we're better than you, nyah!)

6. Being John Malkovich
- Because of this movie, I love Cameron Diaz (even after Charlie's Angels). Spike Jonez never ceases to amaze. I really want a porthole. Please let me know where I can find a good one.

7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - This is silly English humor at its best. Walk, don't run, to your nearest video store and get your laugh on, trick.

8. Amelie
- Possibly the most beautiful and positive film I've ever seen. Audrey Tatou is luminous and her performance made me want to change my life for better. And who doesn't want happiness in Paris? Awesome, awesome. And the DVD has some killer cinematography extras. Go rent it or I will cry.

9. Snatch
- It's very hard for me to give props to my least favorite entertainer's husband, but hello! This movie is sooo awesome, and features my favorite actor in a, shall we say, less glamorous light...which is exactly how I love my men. And diamond heists are da bomb. And I've always wanted to be a gypsy. I'm pretty sure I am.

10. The Sound of Music
- I've loved this movie since before I was born. It's undoubtedly a musical to end all musicals. I've converted many men to the Julie Andrews way. You can't tell me you don't like "Do Re Mi." The very best part is when he messes up and calls her "Captain" instead of "Fraulein" after they come back in their drapes/playclothes. I'm convinced it was a line flub and they left it in.

Yes, my list slightly changes from time to time, but these are pretty much my trieds and trues.

I'm listening.. tap tap tap....

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Pirates are the new black.

So I had a chance to see the screening of "Pirates of the Caribbean" over the weekend. I loved it, and not just because of the big wooden ships. No, I'm convinced that pirates are making a big comeback in today's world. Pirate skeletons, curses, eye patches, hidden treasure, skeletons, plank walking, scurvy... what's not to like? Uber-hip. Mark my words, diamond studded eye patches will be seen on Galliano's runways this fall.

Oh, I forgot to mention Johnny Depp's gold teeth. He's kept them since the movie wrapped. In our interview, he showed me all the caps, and there are quite a few- but he hasn't been back to his dentist to have them removed. I'll just say right now that Johnny Depp is the coolest actor I've met yet. Gracious, intelligent, friendly, cool as shiiat, a real gent. I knew he'd come through.

In more pirate news, Puzzle Pirates, the online pirate pillaging game, is a big favorite around the office (particularly with Joshua Brentano). My pirate handle is "Grizzly Dread." Meet me online and I'll challenge you to a swordfight! Arrrrrrrr.

And if you aren't buying my pirate trend theories just yet, how about a pirate themed bar? Yes, I've been there. It's in Oakland on Thursday nights, in a neat little fishing house along the bay. We all participate in pirate songs along with an authentic band of old pirate dudes with tats, stripes, and bandanas. Beer, peanuts, and loud singing is encouraged. Gotta love it.

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