The minutes of a Park Slope Food Coop meeting, tweeted.
Yes, a horrible show as always. The jokes were all either lame, old, or lame and old, Billy Crystal's schtick is beyond dated, and the presenter banter was some of the worst stuff I've ever seen. Why does Bruce Vilanch get to keep writing the Oscars? He's like the Bob Shrum of comedy writers.
And if there's such a time crunch that we have to cut off all the winners, why do they make time for nonsense like Cirque du Soleil, three different montages and an overlong, subpar Christopher Guest comedy sketch?
- Get Neil Patrick Harris to host, please.
- As for the winners, as someone who loved both "The Artist" and "Hugo," I didn't have a whole lot of complaints about who actually got the Oscars. I'm also thrilled that the Muppets won for Best Song, although it was the wrong song ("LIfe's a Happy Song" was much better) and there should've been a live performance.
- Quote of the night from Dave Itzkoff on Twitter: "Maybe if Kermit had punched Piggy in the face, the Muppets would have gotten TWO musical performances. #teambreezy."
- Matt Zoller Seitz, on the show you imagined:
You knew you were in for an extraordinary Oscar ceremony, the most exciting and surprising in history, when Billy Crystal’s traditional “I am the movies” opening montage cut to a re-creation of the tender hospital bed scene in The Descendants, but with Crystal in the bed, and the movie’s star George Clooney leaning in to kiss the host and giving him a staggering 43 seconds of tongue. Then came a string of toppers: The show certified its contempt for the technical categories by having a talking garbage can read the list of nominees for cinematography and production design, burp the names of the winners, then make them root around in the bin to claim their statuettes. Steve Whitmire, Jim Henson’s replacement as Kermit the Frog, paused in the middle of Kermit and Miss Piggy’s introduction of Cirque du Soleil, then hung his head and muttered, “Guys, sorry, I’m just not feeling it, and I know you aren’t, either. We all should have hung it up after Henson died. Cirque du Soleil, ladies and gentlemen, like you care.” TheCirque du Soleil performers spun menacingly over the assembled crowd at the Kodak Theater and dropped shards of broken Oscar statuettes on their heads while the director cut to tight shots of terrified spectators shielding their Botoxed faces. Statler and Waldorf put shotguns in their mouths and the show cut to a commercial. The broadcast returned for the “In Memoriam” segment, a stream-of-consciousness Proustian montage done in the style of Tree of Life, alternating home-movie footage of the deceased with shots of Sean Penn walking his dog on a beach. Oh, all right — none of that actually happened.
- A SuperCut of all the cursing from the Best Picture nominees. Yes, "The Artist" had some:
- Also from the Deadspin/Gawker axis A.J. Daulerio with his annual Top Ten list of nonexistent movies.
Matt Taibbi on the GOP race:
That's all the early conservative movement was. It was just a heartfelt request that we go back to the good old days of America as these people remembered or imagined it. Of course, the problem was, we couldn't go back, not just because more than half the population (particularly the nonwhite, non-straight, non-male segment of the population) desperately didn't want to go back, but also because that America never existed and was therefore impossible to recreate.
And when we didn’t go back to the good old days, this crowd got frustrated, and suddenly the message stopped being heartfelt and it got an edge to it.
The message went from, "We’re the real Americans; the others are the problem," to, "We’re the last line of defense; we hate those other people and they’re our enemies." Now it wasn’t just that the rest of us weren't getting with the program: Now we were also saboteurs, secretly or perhaps even openly conspiring with America’s enemies to prevent her return to the long-desired Days of Glory.
She's telling people not to see "Act of Valor" because it's anti-Semitic, something that no one else who saw the film noticed. I wish I was kidding.
The new comedy "Wanderlust" is based around a bunch of things- hippies, hallucinogens, nudity, ostentatious single-character scenery-chewing - that aren't nearly as hilarious as the filmmakers think they are. The movie is wildly uneven but does have its share of big laughs.
Aiming to do for the Great Recession what "Lost in America" did for Reagan-era Yuppiedom, "Wanderlust" stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as a married New York couple who both find themselves unemployed shortly after purchasing a tiny-but-expensive apartment. On their way to Atlanta to stay with Rudd's monstrous asshole of a brother (Ken Marino), Rudd and Aniston stumble into a rural Georgia commune populated by a collection of wacky '60s types.
The commune characters are all played by accomplished comedic actors doing extended character bits, some are funny (Kathryn Hahn's depressed ex-porn star, Joe Lo Truglio's nudist/novelist) and some not so much (Lauren Ambrose's Earth Goddess, Alan Alda's aging hippie, Malin Akerman -as always- playing a braindead hot chick.) Justin Theroux plays the leader/David Koresh figure, and you can see where his plot is going from a mile away.
"Wanderlust" was directed by David Wain and written by Wain and Marino; those two and most of the non-Rudd/Aniston actors are veterans of MTV's '90s sketch series "The State." I've never really gotten that style of humor or that of its various ancillary projects. I've watched the Wain-directed cult comedy "Wet Hot American Summer" multiple times over a decade and it still does nothing for me.
The only exception is 2008's "Role Models," also directed by Wain and starring Rudd, which should've been a middling high-concept studio comedy but instead was one of the last decade's funniest films. That was thanks mostly to hilarious setpieces, wonderful supporting turns by Jane Lynch and kid actor Bobb'e J. Thompson and best of all Rudd's wonderfully cynical, gutbusting performance, the best I've ever seen him give.
"Wanderlust" isn't anywhere close to the level of "Role Models," but when it works it's usually because it takes after that film. There's some great stuff by Rudd, especially a bit in which he rehearses in front of a mirror is beyond hilarious. The other great performance in the film is by former SNL player Michaela Watkins, who as Marino's depressed wife seems to be visiting from a different, more psychological movie. And if you're a fan of the new Comedy Central show "Key and Peele," both Key and Peele are in the movie, although they never share the screen.
The other great bit is a 30-second throwaway scene that has nothing to do with the plot, in which a trio of newscasters (played by Wain and ex-Staters Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter) parody news-set banter by making it aggressively sexual. I normally recoil in horror from this sort of humor- especially when it involves Black and Showalter, who are far from my favorite comedians- but I couldn't stop laughing at this bit.
However, the funniness tends to disappear for long stretches. There isn't really anything funny or compelling about the premise itself, and when the film falls back on tired drug and hippie humor, it fails just about every time. There are also many, many running gags that don't work, from Theroux talking about obsolete electronics to Alda rattling off the entire list of people who founded the commune with him, which isn't funny the first, second, third or fourth time and leads to a punchline that isn't remotely worth the trouble.
As with most films that involve nudity, a scene (since pulled) in which Aniston lifts her top has gotten exponentially more media attention than anything else about the film. Unfair, yes. But besides those two brilliant scenes, there's not a whole lot else about that will be remembered.
I've got a new article at Philly Post on the Waze navigation app, and a review of "Shut Up Little Man" at HomeTechTell.
I've been following the story of Jack Jablonski very closely. He's a high school hockey player from my hometown of St. Louis Park who was recently injured and paralyzed in a game. For "Friday Night Lights" fans, his story has a lot of parallels to that of Jason Street.
Anyway, there's an article this week in Sports Illustrated about Jack, and it's written by a cousin of mine, Karen Schneider.
Larry Doyle asks a question I've often asked myself- why does Nancy Grace still have a job?
Stewart at his best:
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2012 - President Evil|
There's a huge scandal going on at Villanova because a relatively famous gay performance artist named Tim Miller was scheduled to conduct a workshop on campus. The president of the university, citing the nature of his act, put the kibosh on it.
This reminded me of the episode of the "Larry Sanders" show with the gay performance artist. Especially because, it's the same guy:
I guess the upshot is, 20 years ago this battle was being fought on (fake) late night talk shows. Now, it's being fought in Catholic universities.
I write at Dealerscope about a legal battle between two headphone manufacturers, one called SOL Republic and the other SOUL Electronics. The latter is endorsed by Ludacris.
Michael Tomasky on the GOP field:
There is no savior. And let us please be clear on why there is no savior. Because there is no one who can satisfy the base of the GOP—a cohort so drunk on ideology and resentment that they cheer electrocutions and boo a soldier—and be elected president of the United States. Period. The standard journalistic trope the past few months has been to say that the Republican establishment would step in at some point and not let things get too out of hand. But that’s mostly nonsense. This GOP establishment is barely less loopy than the base. If the base is driving the party into a ditch, the establishment is riding shotgun holding a shovel.
The race has been a parade of charlatans and fools, with the lead at various times being held by an unhinged religious nut (Bachmann), a governor who made George W. Bush look like Stephen Hawking (Perry), a pizza executive whose ignorance was truly head-spinning (Cain), the nation’s most unpopular major politician (Gingrich), and America’s most vulgar citizen (Trump). None of these people were remotely imaginable as president, and all were a hoot to watch as they bumbled along toward their inevitable falls.
But now that Rick Santorum is the last non-Romney standing, things have taken a serious turn. Santorum is not hilariously buffoonish, amusingly stupid, or weirdly grandiose. He’s just a pinched, mean little man, someone who would have been right at home at Torquemada’s side flaying heretics or pointing his quivering finger at witches in Salem.
Yes, Santorum is consumed with culture-war hatred, lashing out at unclean gay people and the slutty women who think they can have sex without being punished for their sins. But he’s also the kind of guy who uses his disabled daughter to lie about the Affordable Care Act, who compares President Obama to Adolf Hitler, and who regularly imputes the most despicable motives to his political opponents… he’s not the dumbest or the craziest or the most hypocritical, but he is the embodiment of some of the most sinister and contemptible undercurrents in American politics.
Former ESPN employee Anthony Federico, who was fired for writing the Jeremy Lin headline "Chink in the Armor," to the New York Daily News today:
Federico, 28, said he understands why he was axed. "ESPN did what they had to do," he said. He said he has used the phrase "at least 100 times" in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.
Rick Santorum, also today:
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum flatly rejected suggestions that he likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler Sunday when he used an analogy comparing the 2012 election to the buildup to World War II. "No, of course not," Santorum said dismissively when asked by a National Journal-CBS News reporter whether he was comparing the two. "The World War II metaphor is one I've used 100 times in my career," he insisted.
The new corrupt-cop thriller doesn't have a whole lot to recommend about it except for a blowout, Oscar-caliber performance by Woody Harrelson. It's not competently directed, and the plot is convoluted, but Harrelson's turn makes it worthwhile almost all by itself.
Directed by Israeli-American auteur Oren Moverman- who also made Harrelson's Iraq war movie "The Messenger"- "Rampart" is set in the aftermath of the Rampart scandal in the late '90s. The scandal was a nightmarishly large-scale LAPD corruption disaster that led to the freeing of dozens of criminals and, according to one book I read, was even tangentially connected to the murders of Biggie and Tupac.
The film isn't really "about" the Rampart scandal, but rather tells the story of one cop who brings trouble to the department in the days afterward. Harrelson is Dave "Date Rape" Brown- so called because he's reputed to have once killed a date rapist in cold blood- an alcoholic, violent, womanizing racist forced to confront the error of his ways.
In the days that the department is still confronting the need to pay out millions in penalties connected to the scandal, Brown gives them another headache when he's caught on tape beating a suspect, Rodney King-style. He spends the rest of the film fighting the charges, while also trying to make money by illicit means, carry on an affair with a lawyer (Robin Wright) and manage his unconventional family life. His two ex-wives (Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche) are sisters, live together, and each have one of his daughters.
A big strength of the film is the supporting cast, featuring Ned Beatty as a corrupt ex-cop, Sigourney Weaver as a member of the police brass, Ice Cube as an investigator and Brie Larson as Harrelson's Daughter. And it's a rice treat that Robert Wisdom, who played police major Bunny Colvin on "The Wire," once again dons the uniform as Harrelson's captain.
However, these performances are all but overshadowed by a "gritty" visual style that gets tiresome very fast, not to mention a plot with little momentum, one that ends strangely abruptly.
The other problem is that the great cop series "The Shield"- also based on the "Rampart" scandal- hangs over the film like a shadow, having featured a protagonist more interesting and multifaceted that Date Rape Brown. So too does the original "Bad Lieutenant" and its totally bonkers, Nicolas Cage/Wender Herzog remake.
I just got to this over the weekend, but Ian Parker's New Yorker piece on the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi was a pretty incredible piece of reporting.
Paul Waldman, summing up my feelings on Pat's years-too-late sacking:
Buchanan has enjoyed a lucrative career as a pundit for the last couple of decades because he’s articulate and passionate, and his abominable opinions make for good TV. He does indeed say things other people are afraid to say, not so much because he has courage others lack, but because those things are, well, awful. He has every right to speak his mind in any way he likes, but no one has a First Amendment right to a slot on the MSNBC payroll. Furthermore, he’s not being “blacklisted,” he got fired from one corporation. Blacklisting is a decision by a group of employers meant to ensure that you can’t get work anywhere. When screenwriters got blacklisted from Hollywood studios in the ’50s, it meant that they couldn’t ply their trade anywhere in the industry. Pat Buchanan’s voice isn’t being silenced.
I'm proud to share that I have become a contributor to The Philly Post, the official blog of Philadelphia Magazine.
In my first article, published this morning, I tackle a pet peeve that will be familiar to longtime blog readers: the notion that the Phillies are cheap.
Pat Buchanan is the worst of the worst in American politics, the closest thing there is in the U.S. to a European neofascist. His record of unabashed prejudice and hatred has been well-documented in his writings and sayings, and beyond that, he was a principal architect of Nixon's Southern strategy.
When you see candidates today making prejudicial hatred and scapegoating of blacks, gays, or immigrants a big part of their pitch to white voters, they're working straight from Pat's playbook. He even changed things up by working virulent Jew hatred into the mix.
So, after ten years and a comfortable place in the Washington establishment, he's been fired from his lucrative commentary gig at MSNBC. Good. I don't understand why the decision is even controversial, or why it came so late. Roland Martin got suspended from CNN last week for tweeting gay jokes. Pat has done worse than that about 500 times over.
The most hilarious part is that Buchanan says he's been "blacklisted." Like Pat, had he been in government in the '50s, wouldn't have been a full-throated supporter of the blacklist, along with his hero Nixon.
It's the 100 greatest Nicolas Cage movie quotes:
More horrors going on a block South of my office at the Inquirer, with a sale likely to a group of local machers- led by Ed Rendell and Ed Snider- who have no experience in the industry. PLUS, the current publisher spiked a story about the bidding process, AND lied to the New York Times about it, NOT TO MENTION that they're firing 40 more people.
Great point by Victor Fiorello over at Philly Post:
Before layoffs, there will be a window to join the “voluntary separation program,” aka buyouts, which ends on February 29th. After that, layoffs will begin, based on seniority, meaning that 1998-looking philly.com has no hope of improving, since people who existed before the Internet was relevant will keep their jobs while newer hires are sent pounding.It doesn't matter how many times the papers are sold- Philly.com never gets any better.
(Note: I'm getting ready to launch a new online entertainment venture in April which will include my movie reviews, but in the meantime I'll be posting some reviews here)
Nearly two decades after James Cameron all but invented the "action romantic comedy" genre with "True Lies," mediocre action auteur McG tries to pull the same thing off again with the bottom-feeding mess "This Means War." It isn't the first time McG, who directed the terrible 2009 "Terminator" sequel, has come up small while trying to fill Cameron's shoes.
A screwballish romantic comedy that's only really a high-octane spy thriller/action blowout for its first and last ten minutes, "This Means War" stars Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as CIA operatives and best friends who both fall for the same woman (Reese Witherspoon), who doesn't know that they're friends or that they're spies.
The twist in "This Means War" is that not only do the two men know about the triangle, but they spend the bulk of the film carrying out high-tech, around-the-clock surveillance of Witherspoon and each other, even leading rival spy teams in order to do so. This must involve the burning off of untold man-hours and taxpayer money, not to mention who knows how many violations of civil liberties. Angela Basset, as their tough boss, has what was probably originally a much larger role cut to about 15 seconds of screen time.
This film is also set in a world in which working for the CIA is a lucrative enough job to earn both men enough to afford opulent homes that look like they cost millions.
Witherspoon is the usual stock chick-flick heroine, treated as pathetic and dateless despite being gorgeous and perfect, and subjected to serial humiliations in front of her ex-boyfriend. She then spends most of the movie feeling guilty about dating two men at once, while bouncing her thoughts off of best friend Chelsea Handler, who delivers a "performance" that consists of regurgitating her own stand-up act in five minute chunks.
There's also a Russian assassin chasing the two heroes, one made especially dangerous by the movie forgetting he exists for long stretches.
Something about "This Means War" just doesn't feel right. Maybe it's Hardy playing the sensitive guy and Pine the womanizing rogue, when they should probably be in the opposite parts. Perhaps it's that the two guys spend the entire film hugging and saying "I love you" to each other- I'm not generally one for "this movie is REALLY about homosexuality" school of film criticism, but this is clearly a love story between two men in which the girl is something of a prop.
Or maybe it's just that the whole thing is pointless. The great joke in "True Lies" was that Jamie Lee Curtis' character was ready to cheat on her husband (Schwarzenegger) because she thought he was boring, when really he was an international superspy and keeping it a secret. Not only is there no comparable joke here, but the final action sequence is stuck in 1994, ripping off both "True Lies" and "Speed" in large measures. And the film's last scene is a disaster that, had the movie preceding it been good, would have served to ruin it.
This isn't the worst love-triangle movie Reese has ever been in- James L. Brooks' inexplicably disjointed "How Do You Know" from 2010 takes that particular cake. But everyone involved in "This Means War" has done much better work, and would likely like to forget about this one.
Yea, they're the ones who are "obsessed with sex":
If Colbert had come with this it would be the most brilliant parody ever.
Paul Waldman on a weird Rick Santorum ad:
In 2005, Time magazine weirdly called him one of the nation's 25 most influential evangelicals, despite the fact that he's Catholic, and therefore not an evangelical. The magazine's explanation was that even though Santorum is not an evangelical himself, he hangs out with them a lot. Which is kind of like calling Eminem one of the most important black people in the music industry.
Here's a roundup I did, in the newest issue of Dealerscope, of phones, tablets and laptops at CES.
A few interesting reads from the past few days:
- Glamour, of all places, has an interview with Sara Ganim, a 24-year-old reporter for the Harrisburg paper who broke the Jerry Sandusky story and owned it for months. I see Pulitzers and book deals in her future.
- I'm sorry that the father of Maggie Gallagher's son abandoned her, but luckily she's been able to rebound by becoming a professional liar and hatemonger.
- Speaking of gay-bashing, this Rolling Stone piece made me pretty ashamed to be from Minnesota.
- And while we're still on the culture war, Philadelphia Weekly had a well-reported but pretty infuriating cover story last week on the fight to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims in Pennsylvania. The people leading the charge against it are pretty distinguished these days by being on the wrong side of just about everything.
- I'm normally a fan of Alan Dershowitz, but really? A few incendiary tweets by Media Matters employees are going to be the 2012 version of Jeremiah Wright? I guess that's only true in the sense that this "scandal" won't prevent Obama from winning, either.
- My buddy Jordan Rockwell had Tucker Max, of all people, on his podcast last week.
Matt Taibbi with one of the best pieces anyone has written about the campaign. Here's his take on Newt:
The only problem is, he’s a bloviating, egomaniacal hog clinging to a third marriage who suffers from incurable diarrhea of the mouth and, according to polls, is one of the most intensely disliked politicians in America, making him an utterly absurd choice for the general election. If Gingrich ends up winning the nomination, Obama will essentially be running against the political version of Gilbert Gottfried or raw garlic – strong tastes that some like quite a lot, but many more can’t stand to even be near. If that happens, every Democratic flack from Leon Panetta to Obama himself will have to wear restraints to keep from publicly crying out in joy.Gilbert Gottfried should totally run in the GOP primaries. He could answer one of the questions with a 25-minute Aristocrats joke.
In Noah's newest blog post he talks about his first time bowling, the Super Bowl and the upcoming arrival of his little brother or sister.
Billy Eichner's schtick might be the same thing over and over again but I still laugh every time:
He's like a gay, human Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
Mark Lisanti at Grantland:
"If you'd told us that Scooby Doo, Charlie Brown, He-Man, Pepe LePew, Speedy Gonzalez, Casper, Quick Draw McGraw, Fat Albert, Cosmo Spacely, Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman, Jabber Jaws, Grape Motherfucking Ape, Richie Rich, Voltron (Voltron!), and virtually every other animated character appearing on a television set in the 1980s were going to be in a commercial together, (A) yes, bring it to me right now, and (B) it better be for something cooler than, say, life insurance. And it's not even sexy life insurance, like Prudential or Farmers or Allstate. This is nothing but a pointless, fill-every-orifice nostalgia orgy aimed at reminding thirtysomethings that they will die someday, and probably from the sadness of watching Gossamer plow Underdog in a poppy field at Cartoon Burning Man in front of the entire Hanna-Barbera roster. No, this is not a very good commercial.
Dave Weigel may not be a humor writer, but I thought this was just hilarious.
Karl Rove criticized the Chrysler Super Bowl ad with Clint Eastwood; No More Mister Nice Blog imagines a Chrysler ad that Rove would've approved of:
Look, that evil Kenyan put a gun to our heads and forced us to take his filthy socialist money. We never should have done it -- in fact, we never should have tried to survive at all. We should have been left to die. Creative destruction, y'know? That's really the American way.I'd have liked the ad more if it had ended with Clint singing the "Gran Torino" theme song.
We're sorry we exist. We're sorry we're still making cars, and directly and indirectly keeping hundreds of thousands of people employed. A real American president would have kicked our union thugs to the curb and cut them off without unemployment benefits. But since we're all still here wasting America's money by working and producing actual consumer goods rather than exotic financial instruments, maybe the few bleeding-heart liberals out there who aren't too effeminate to be watching the Super Bowl could throw us a few bucks and buy a car. If you do that, of course, it's because you hate America. But we know all you goddamn liberals really do hate America, so this is a perfect opportunity for you.
We're Chrysler. Regrettably for America, we're not going anywhere.
Bernard Goldberg says the unsayable on Fox: That there's "a strain of bigotry on the right":
True, then he goes into the bullshit, media-bashing, liberals-only-live-in-Manhattan-and-Malibu nonsense. But half is better than none, right?
Yes, if you want to fire Ellen DeGeneres from an endorsement deal for being gay, you are a bigot, period, the end. And you are too, Pete Hoekstra.
Remember the "I Hate Horses" blog? It's not online anymore, but it was one of my favorite random funny blogs ever. At one point it even named a certain "Real World" cast member, who had been arrested for drunkenly punching a police horse, its "Man of the Year."
I learn from a Chuck Klosterman column at Grantland that this blog was the brainchild of none other than Bajillion Hits genius Alex Blagg. How awesome is that?
In what I believe is my first review for Gadgetell, I look at a new iPhone/iPad dock from JBL.