August 19, 2006

Fuego?!? Speaking of this video, did you know that there was supposed to be an Asia reunion tour (with an accompanying CD) back in 2000? Damn that Geoff Downs...

...but now they've reconciled, and the kickoff for the reunion will be August 29, in Rochester !!!

August 18, 2006

With Lieberman taking a comfortable lead in the initial post-primary polls, the important question becomes whether he would vote with the Democratic caucus when the next Senate convenes in 2007. This whole notion of whether progressives should mau-mau the party leadership to strip him of his seniority really would be comical were the consequences not so enormous. Who cares if he attends a committee hearing the rest of the year, or what his place is in the pecking order right now.

If the Democrats take six seats this November from the GOP, then of course whoever wins the general election, Lamont or Lieberman, should be embraced by the party's leadership in the Senate. If we don't, or if the Democrats pick up seven or more seats, and Lieberman wins, then we can tell him to screw himself, and tell him to caucus with the other side. But lets get a majority before we start to act all vindictive and everything.
Luke Y. Thompson's review of Snakes on a Plane is up, and he (kinda) likes it:
David R. Ellis' directing skills aren't as evident here as they were in FINAL DESTINATION 2 (the best film in the FD series), but he has the same sense of humor, and he also has Sam Jackson, who elevates this above the direct-to-DVD level it might otherwise be. His acting is more subtle than some may notice; the build-up to that signature line is just as important as the line itself, and the way he gets just slightly more exasperated every time a new thing goes wrong is very well done. At the same time, Jackson is very much in danger of disappearing completely into caricature, blurring the line in people's minds between himself and the Dave Chappelle impersonation of him, in much the same way that, say Dana Carvey and George Bush Senior are inextricably intertwined in the memories of those who saw both back in the day. I fear that if and when Jackson decides to make an Oscar-bait film again, we'll be unable to see him as anything but the muthafuckin' snakes guy.


Make no mistake, SNAKES ON A PLANE is basically a Sci-Fi channel movie original with better-than-usual actors and a slightly naughtier sense of humor. It never takes itself seriously, and neither should you. But I've always enjoyed and respected this kind of much the better that larger audiences seem to get the joke now too.
Actually, I don't think Samuel Jackson gives a snake's ass whether he's becoming a self-caricature, at least going by the interviews he's done this week, and if he's never again considered for another Oscar, well, that will be fine, so long as his paycheck doesn't bounce. You have to hand it to the producers of this film for so perfectly reading the zeitgeist the past few months. There may have been other films that used the Internet to shape itself for its paying audience, but none has done it so well as Snakes on a Plane.

August 17, 2006

This weekend, one of the few international sporting events for which an American can comfortably support the rest of the planet, the World Basketball Championships, begins in Japan. Dave Zirin writes in the Nation about how longtime GOP fundraisers Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski are exploiting some of our crippled soldiers as a motivational gimmick to "bind" our latest version of the Dream Team together. Real Americans should root for Puerto Rico. [link via Tapped, which takes the opposite view]
From the conservative blog Balloon Juice, on l'affaire Macaca:
I feel duly obligated as a blog owner to weigh in on the George Allen ‘Macaca’ affair. To be honest, I had heard that Allen had said something stupid, and I really didn’t pay any attention to it because, well, let’s face it- the last few years I have grown accustomed to elected Republicans saying something stupid.
--John Cole
Greatest Dylan Cover EVER !!!!

But what really sells this performance is the oh-so-funky dance.

August 16, 2006

I can't believe this former despot was still alive, as of yesterday. It's like finding out that Ian Smith is still with us....
Divisions within the Republican base? What's George Allen to do?
This is an appropriately trippy version of this song, circa 1967, from the Ed Sullivan Show:

August 15, 2006

I can't say for certain that this was not a joke, but I have a feeling he was dead serious. It's the equivalent of those jackasses in the lefty blogosphere whose clever contribution to the topic of race involves posting photoshopped pictures of their adversaries in blackface. How is this different from the Latino immigrants who waved the Mexican flag at pro-immigration rallies?
The Famous Guy Force Field: Michael Totten, a blogger who actually practices journalism, reports from Northern Israel.
Farewell, Sploid.
Jumpergate, Part Deux: Now comes word that yet another of the stars of this film is getting the axe. According to the Melbourne Herald Sun (by way of IMDB), Teresa Palmer, who was to play the love interest in the movie, has also been canned, in favor of a "star" to be determined later (probably Hillary Duff or Mischa Barton). Unlike Tom Sturridge, who was ousted weeks ago, Palmer has hired legal guns, and is apparently not going to go without a fight. Of course, as an ingenue, the clock is already working against her.

It would be one thing if these changes were being made because the director, Doug Liman, decided that he had made a mistake in casting, and that the talent he picked originally wasn't good enough, or that the stars were such prima donnas or party hounds that they were impossible to work with, or even that the actors he really wanted to work with all along had just become available. These firings would have still been arbitrary and cruel, but at least they would have been consistent with whatever artistic vision of creating a good movie the director might have.

But that is apparently not the case here. These people are being ditched because they are relative nobodies who need to be replaced by "names" (preferably, North American names) to cover the asses of the producers. And again, this is after filming had already started on the project, and the actors involved had already made a commitment of time and emotion to the endeavor.

But in the end, as far as the bottom line is concerned, it will make no difference. As I noted yesterday, Hayden Christensen's only non-Star Wars film made less than $3 million, and that was a good film. Mischa Barton's only significant movie to date as an adult, The OH in Ohio, has grossed less than $260,000 in limited release. The Lord of the Rings trilogy had no major names or stars in the lead roles at the time it came out (unless you consider Sir Ian to have been a star at that time), and it became one of the biggest hits of all time. Same with the first Star Wars movie. To paraphrase Chris Rock from the Oscars a few years back, there are just a few stars, like Tom Cruise (boy, is that dated) or Sean Connery, whom people will actually pay to see, and then there's everyone else, from Jude Law and Heath Ledger to Dustin Diamond and Pauly Short, who moviegoers don't give a rat's ass about; all they want from that fungible class of "everyone else" is a good performance.

Canning someone you cast in a movie because they're not famous enough is not only a shitty thing to do, it makes no sense from a box office standpoint. It will probably make the movie less enjoyable for movie fans. It's bad business. No wonder the movies suck.

UPDATE: Well, perhaps Jumper will suck less. Teresa Palmer remains in the cast.

UPDATE [10/16]: And now she's gone....

August 14, 2006

Damascene Rage: Kevin Drum makes a solid point, whilst riffing on a Josh Marshall post:
And just recently I've been thinking about what a genuinely profound story this is, one that the mainstream media ought to be more interested in. Instead of writing incessantly about "angry bloggers," they ought to be asking why so many mild-mannered moderate liberals have become so radicalized during George Bush's tenure. It deserves attention beyond the level of cliches and slogans.
The inability to acknowledge this phenomenum is what has doomed Joe Lieberman to what appears to be political oblivion. Other than the Iraq War, there doesn't seem to be a single issue that has riled the lefty blogosphere in any substantive sense. Frustration over the obsequiousness of the nominal opposition in our country, as manifested in a timid punditocracy and "centrist" Democratic leadership in Congress, seems to have created a rage on the left that has typically been the province of right wing talk radio and sites like LGF. Lieberman is certainly not the most conservative Democratic Senator (he's not even the most rightward Democrat running for reelection in a Blue State this year), but he got caught on the wrong side of history.
Words I never thought I would see in the same sentence: "George Bush", "read", and "Albert Camus."
It's official: George Allen is a racist jerk.
Vanity Fare: Sorry for the Hollywood theme today, children, but I thought I would share one of my pet peeves, the absolutely sorry state of what amounts to "journalism" in the Business of Show. To wit, this story, appearing in the Hollywood Reporter last Friday, about a casting change on a film:
Hayden Christensen will star in "Jumper," a big-budget thriller being directed by Doug Liman, whose credits include "Swingers," "The Bourne Identity" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

The film's production company, Regency Enterprises, has partnered with 20th Century Fox to finance the production, which sources say is budgeted in the $100 million range.

Christensen's casting jump-starts the production, which was to have begun shooting earlier this summer but had been running idle. Christensen replaces Tom Sturridge in the lead role of David; during preproduction, a decision was made to go with a more prominent actor. Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell and Teresa Palmer remain with the project.
First, if this casting change had been made "preproduction", wouldn't it have been worthwhile to check to see that it was actually being made "preproduction", and not after filming had already started on the project? A simple Google search would have informed the "journalists" that, in fact, filming had already begun on Jumper earlier this summer, with the original star.

Second, isn't the real story here not that Hayden Christensen is going to get another opportunity to ruin a big-budget film, but that the director's first choice for the role was dumped (after filming had begun, mind you) in order for him to get the part. "A more prominent actor?" C'mon, this isn't Orlando Bloom or Leonardo DiCaprio we're talking about here; this is Hayden Freaking Christensen. The other big film he did besides Clones and Sith, Shattered Glass, made a grand total of $3 million in domestic gross, and he was actually quite good in that. If Mr. Liman, the director, wanted the move, what does that say about his habits in preparation for making movies? (hey, kids, lets shoot a film, and we'll decide who the star is as we go along) And if he didn't, doesn't this make him look like the studio's bitch?

Third, what was Mr. Sturridge's reaction to all this? Was he disappointed? Relieved to be out of that hellhole? Considering that his father is also a director*, will there be consequences down the line for such contemptible treatment of the lad? But in the article, we're left to speculate, since it doesn't appear that the writers in question bothered to even attempt contacting him.

Those are obvious questions, and it rankles me no end that there aren't people out there who are willing to go beyond the studio's press releases, and try to give their readers an accurate view as to what's happening on a movie set. You'd think simple human curiosity would do the trick, or at least an aversion to always being lied to.

*And his mother is the Blogmuse, pictured top right.
Do you realize that since he was so brutally insulted by Chris Rock at the Oscars last year, no movie featuring Jude Law has seen the light of day? I guess Clive Owen has now taken on the mantle of being the British star who will appear in anything for money. And there's even better news coming out of England...but sad news stateside, as an Oscar-winning actress' career comes to an end today.