Thursday, March 31, 2005

no coffee... strong enough right now. The Day After Insomnia... it ain't pretty.

i can't sleep

...why else would I be posting a two sentence entry at 1 AM when I have to get my ass out of bed at 5?
Know any good cures?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wherefore art thou, Julie Ann?

I am suffering Julianne Moore withdrawal. Oh, sure. I know it was just a short time ago when her flaming locks were tossing to and fro as she weathered alien agression and boy-snatching sneakiness. And it wasn't much earlier when her gorgeous mouth was masticating junkfood in a bathroom stall blown up to silver screen heights. But... let's be honest... for the Julianne Moore fan, The Forgotten and Laws of Attraction just don't cut it. Not after the apotheosis of 2002 which starredThe Hours and the supercalifragilisticexpialadocious Far From Heaven.

But when is she reappearing and will we have another 2002? or a 2004? The IMDB which I've learned to take with multiple grains of salt when it comes to films in the works. Suggests that she is filming Savage Grace, a film about the torturous life of Barbara Daly Baekeland in which Julianne would certainly be nothing other than stupendous. But, the IMDB lists no other cast members. If the movie is truly filming surely Julianne is not playing ALL the roles!?! Well, if anyone could do it... What an overachiever!

The IMDB also claims that she is done filming two projects, Bart Freundlich's Trust the Man which is worth looking forward to because, whatever the arguable merits of deficiences of his two previous features --in both Julianne came on like gangbusters making the most of the material. According to the IMDB she is also done filming The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio but I fear a Laws of Attraction style trainwreck there given the preciousness of Anderson's last film, the HBO Jessica Lange movie Normal.

And finally, newly announced, is Next based on a Philip K Dick story and co-starring Nic Cage. Nicolas Cage? "Next!" indeed.

Joss & Eliza

I use to get through Mondays by saying to myself 'self, tonight you get to meet your friends for Buffy at the Urge.' But then we stopped going. And Mondays become more dull. So last night had a little ressurection of my previous Monday haunt and watched Angel. I don't really 'get' Angel the series the way I got what Joss Whedon was always doing with Buffy. Probably my loss. But last night was two 'guest-starring Faith' episodes (...with one special appearance by Willow!) so I enjoyed nonetheless.

Why don't they just cancel Tru Calling already and let Eliza Dushku free to do Whedon's rumored Faithseries. I would be SO there. I know Whedon is doing Hollywood right now but I love "Faith" as a character way more than I'll ever love Wonder Woman. You know?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

around the corner...

...lies my nervous breakdown. I am moving from the boroughs to the island very shortly and as a result my headspace is full of "shit that I gotta do" Meanwhile i'm working 6 to 7 days a week. And i'm still posting daily to a blog even though I'm supposed to be on hiatus from webstuff. All the while I'm looking for a new job, losing a bunch of weight, and living in a total obstacle course of boxes, both packed and previously stored, and in some cases cobweb covered because I threw them in closets ages ago and I don't even know what's in them.

Basically I'm in the middle of a clusterf*** of life changes all within a tiny time frame even though you're supposed to spread stuff like that out so that you don't have the nervous breakdown. It's just around the corner! I feel it waiting 'round the bend. somethings coming --- I don't know what it is--- but it is not gonna be great....

So I go to the movies! Today I saw the Oscar nominated shorts. Ryanwhich won the animated short film prize is very bizarre, original, and documentary like while also being visually arresting but kinda scary/ugly at the same time. The other really good one is Birthday Boy about a Korean boy in 1951 playing amidst war wreckage. wasp which won the live action short film prize is about as depressing as it gets but well made and sharp. For those of you who haven't heard of Natalie Press, she is the star and you will be seeing her very soon as I expect she's about to be the new Emily Watson/Samantha Morton/much raved about new import... She's also the lead inMy Summer of Love which is opening this summer and worth a look. Paddy Considine (In America, Last Resort) is great in Love as well. I wasn't blown away by any of the live action nominees except maybe 7:35 in the Morning which is blessedly weird, funny, and a touch unsettling.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Today's Screenings

The Caine Mutiny (1954)
This was the second biggest hit of 1954 and also an Oscar nominee for Best Picture. Audiences and Academy voters were stupid back then, too. Some things never change.

Once & Again -another couplea episodes
I'm a third of the way through the first season and if ABC doesn't find it in their hearts to put the 2nd and 3rd season on DVD I may become violent.

Melinda & Melinda (at the theater)
Great concept. so-so to good execution. Look, I'm never going to tell anyone to skip a Woody Allen picture unless it has Jade Scorpion in the take my thumbs-up with a grain of salt if you are a Woody hater. The premise here is so good it makes up for a lot says me... And it's always a pleasure to see Brooke Smith onscreen. She does not work enough. If you don't know who Brooke Smith is, shame on you and here is your triple-feature viewing assignment: Silence of the Lambs, Vanya on 42nd Street, and Series 7: The Contender. If you're not a fan afterwards...


Believe it or not I had never seen Billy Wilder's Sabrina until last night. I don't know why but I had this vague perception that it was a dated clunker. Maybe my fear of the remake (Remember that Julia Ormond vehicle in the 90s? Remember when they were trying to make Ormond into a big star?) which I never saw somehow bled into the original and, knowing that some classics are unworthy of their reputation, I somehow assumed Sabrina was one of those. Also this film is brought up in every article about Hollywood's sexism/ageism collision so I naturally thought "ew" about Bogie and Audrey as a couple.

But as per usual with Billy Wilder, it has the just-right combo of laughs, drama, and overall cleverness. If Wilder made beds, the princess would never feel a pea under the mattress. If Wilder made porridge Goldilocks would never feel it was too hot or too cold. Sabrinais "just right." It's lovely to look at (not just for Audrey Hepburn) and a couple of images/scenes will stick with me for their sheer perfection; I'm thinking of two shots of otherwise prim and proper people smooshed up against one another hopping up and down on a sheet of plastic. Once as a plot point joke, the next as a beautiful refrain and comic aside. It's all just so graceful. Wilder is such a confident smooth filmmaker. And my favorite scene is a climactic one in which Sabrina (Hepburn) finally understands out what Linus (Bogart) is up to with their frequent dating. Watching it I'm marvelling at how Hepburn geniusly underplays it. It's the type of scene that I think most lesser actors and directors would have really pushed -and thereby lost it's quiet wounding force. As she leaves the scene in beautiful longshot b&w cinematography -(haven't seen it but I bet the remake used a closeup) I just said to myself 'Doo-Wah!*'

* 'Doo Wah' being a term once overused as personal shorthand amongst friends in the 90s whilst in the collective fan throes of dance group Deee-Lite's shortlived 'World Clique'dominance. 'Doo Wah' being pulled from the song "Good Beat" as in 'I just wanna hear a...' Doo Wah being a term of respect/endearment/drop-jawed awe usually provoked by some diva-esque action. In the vernacular family of the finger/vocal 'Snap' and "you go girl!" -- i.e. unneccessary verbal/physical punctuations to dramatic/showstopping moments. This lesson in personal 90s pophistory is brought to you by Nathaniel's early morning coffee.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Carbing my hunger...

I am completely ashamed to admit it but I have joined the cult of this fad diet. In just three weeks I've slimmed down 14 lbs (a big + in keeping motivated, that speed) It's totally noticeable. Now, if I could only convince myself to go to the gym I could be a hottie someday...and even eat my beloved pasta dishes once again. We'll see if it really works though once I move into the next phase (the one where you eat normally now knowing which foods to avoid and which in which to indulge occassionally...)

so very...

the eyes are getting heavier. must. sleep.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Stage Magnolias

Tried to watch this on Broadway last night. Only made it halfway through. It was just so lifeless to me. Whether that's because I know the movie too well or because this particular staging was uninspired or the cast was all wrong, I'm still trying to figure out. Mostly it just wasn't funny. And the first half should be really funny. The line readings seemed very off. Like a high school play with actors waiting to have each other's lines end before they spoke their own. Not very interactive/natural. At least for the first half I was not impressed --maybe it got better? But, Delta Burke is no Dolly Parton. And there's no getting around that for her and for most of this cast.

So I came home and settled into Once & Again again with the blanket around me (my apartment is suddenly like ice -damn landlord!) and the cat on my lap. How domesticated is that?! Still, if you need comfort, take it. Nothing better than warmth when you're cold.

I still haven't seen the new Woody Allen. argh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

my new arch-enemy

I really hate Patricia Heaton. It began as indifference. I thought she was funny enough on Everybody Loves Raymond but I began to get annoyed when she was winning the Emmy for comedic actress over my preferred choices. Still, no big whoop.

My annoyance turned to outright public dislike (of the comic I-don't-know-her-as-a-person variety) when she publicly dissed none other than Michelle Pfeiffer a couple of years ago. The brouhaha was mini in scope but did get Heaton some media play (Pfeiffer was mum because she's a classy woman) and involved Pfeiffer's implication that she had not had any plastic surgery... whereas Patricia Heaton had admitted to it and presumably wanted others to do the same. I didn't know at the time that this was because Ms. Heaton was a pious morally superior and judgmental person. But it pissed me off: If you do not want to feel the tiny web wrath of Nathaniel, you do not under any circumstances diss La Pfeiffer.

And if I'm being honest... I would say it also pissed me off a little because moral superiority is possible a character trait I've tried to stamp out in myself as well. It's unattractive even if it's easy to fall prey to. So before I go off on Ms. Heaton some more, it takes one to know one.

Now, I see Heaton sucking up airtime on Entertainment Tonight as the spokesperson for this group Feminists for Life... which seems to be a code word for women who think they're feminists but fight for conservative patriarchal causes like the pro-life movement which is all about controlling women of course --very feminist of them! And their latest cause du jour is the Shiavo case.

Now, I understand that this case has people from all walks of life and political viewpoints all atwitter and its extremely divisive. There are all sorts of moral / ethical / political / personal issues involved in opinions on this one. So to each their own. But what rubbed me the wrong way was the imbalance. Listening to Heaton, a famous and wealthy star using a popular news program to denounce the character of someone she has never met, Mr. Schiavo, made me sick to my stomach last night --and she's doing it again tomorrow night. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

Mr. Schiavo is already being sufficiently vilified these days --whatever your thoughts on the case consider that the only thing the media ever seems to be covering is how evil he is, make sure to use discernment to realize that you are not hearing anything balanced about this case. at all. Certainly no coverage of the political ramifications of the Federal government sticking its nose in where it doesn't belong.

I use to dislike Patricia Heaton. Now I really despise her. Who died and made her God? I've never been the type to be this angry with celebrities who express political opinions because they're citizens just like you and I. Mel Gibson. Eminem. Streisand. Penn. Heston. Whatever. That's their perogative. But to use your platform to publicly demean the character of some civilian whom you disagree with? Who doesn't have an equal platform to defend himself (he's not famous. not glamourous. not wealthy. not a politician. etc...) Despicable. She oughta be ashamed of herself.

Tonight on the news channels she will be demonstrating her superiority again by claiming that she would never let her child starve. My guess is that Mr. Schiavo wouldn't let his child starve either. Most people wouldn't. But what if you WERE the brain-dead woman? What if you had expressed to the person closest to you (spouse) that you would never want to live like that? There's more than one way to look at this. Which is why people should just mind their own business rather than judging the marriage of people they've never met or even heard of till last week.

I don't feel comfortable judging the woman's family (who want her kept alive) or the husband (who says she didn't want to be kept alive) but I feel totally comfortable in judging political and public figures who feel comfortable judging the family or the husband.

My advice? Get yourself a living will so that if a tragedy ever happens to you (God forbid) you won't be used as a political football for people who never knew you existed up until you became a way for them to score political points or get their faces on television when their hit series is finally going off the air.

close to home

Watched Latter Days again last night. There are movies that you know are intensely problematic, poorly structured, too on-the-nose in their writing etc... but you respond to them anyway if you know where they're coming from. This movie is like that --plot details are sometimes ludicrous but it's also highly realistic in terms of 'capturing' mormon missionary speak, gay mormon angst, and mormon family interactions with a black sheep in their mix, etc...

Now Tony Kushner also went to this spiritual crisis well famously with Angels in America which is roughly 2.79 trillion times more majestic, beautifully written, important, etc... but he was an outsider looking in and though he wasn't exactly going for naturalistic dialogue, his dialogue also was written clearly from an outsider perspective looking in (Mormons speak in very specific ways and this movie knows how they speak) rather than a former insider looking back (which I assume the writer/director here was -or else how is it this spookily accurate)

Here comes the PSA: If you are a Mormon or former Mormon or wannabe former Mormon and find yourself in this protagonists situation with the churchthis is a great website to visit.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Rick & Lily -T.L.A.

I finally bought the DVD of season one of Once & Again, perhaps the most extremely underappreciated television series of my adult life. And last night I was loving it to the tune of 3 episodes in a row. What happened to this cast? Sela Ward (as Lily) is a sensational TV star. Where's her next show? (Don't say the 7th installment of L&O or the 5th spin-off of CSI if you don't want to be strangled by moi.) I also miss Billy Campbell (as Rick) he of the so-cute-it's-impossible-to-believe-he-exists face, voice, body, etc... Marin Hinkle (as Lily's sister Judy) was also great but the only time I've seen her outside of this show was in a bit part in the Pfeiffer/Penn travesty I am Sam where she played an assistant to Michelle's bitch goddess lawyer and spent her limited screen time cowering in fear of La Pfeiff. The only cast member who has really thrived afterwards, not so surprisingly to me --but surprising to many no doubt, afterwards is Evan Rachel Wood who kills as Rick's young daughter.

This is one of my favorite television drama series (others being Twin Peaks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer,My So Called Life and Six Feet Under--well about half of that one... ) and I hadn't bought it previously because I live in fear that evil ABC will not release the other two seasons (ever) leaving my fandom only 33% complete. Plus if they never release the second and third season the uninitiated will never get the chance to see why Evan Rachel Wood's startling star turn in thirteen wasn't so startling to Once & Again addicts.

In the second or third episode of this show --I watched it in a marathon last night so I'm fuzzy-- Rick and Lily sleep together for the first time. And damn America's revived Puritanism because it felt watching it like "how did this show ever exist?" I simply can't imagine network television even attempting a sex scene this frank, well-acted, lengthy, and dramatically interesting these days (and this show is not that old!). They've basically ceded all adult emotional terrain to the cable stations at this point I guess. sigh

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Had one of those magical only-in-Manhattan days today. Starting the day very early in line for "Wall to Wall Sondheim" a 12 hour extravaganza @ Symphony Space on the Upper West Side. A free event so you know it was a madhouse and the wait was looooooong. Spent two and a half hours freezing outside than three and a half hours inside listening to selections from the most impressive songbook of, well, practically anyone ever. We had the early morning session which had Into the Woods, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and A Little Night Music in heavy rotation.

But for the purposes of this blog I just wanted to note that during the interview with Sondheim he did talk about the upcoming Sam Mendes directedSweeney Todd movie. Sondheim complemented the script (by Jon Logan of The Aviator fame) and Sam Mendes. He went on to say that they (Logan and Mendes) had a very specific idea about Sweeney Todd 'not just structural' --Sondheim obviously knew way more than he was telling---and than he said that the film was now in the hands of an actor that they all hope will do it. Of course he failed to name the actor so now my little brain is scanning all major male stars (who else would you put your important project "in the hands of") with musical ability who might appeal to studios, Sondheim, and Mendes. It's a tough guessing game.

Any one have an idea who it might be?

Friday, March 18, 2005


I neglected to say Happy St. Patricks Day yesterday to any of our Irish readers. So, belatedly I offer you a completely green blog for your special day. Green is my favorite color.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Finally caught the Broadway transfer DOUBT last night. This is the play about the nun who suspects the preacher of molesting a young boy. I can't account for why I have never seen Cherry Jones (stage actor extraordinaire who plays the nun) perform onstage yet... I have seen a lot of Broadway and Off Broadway plays in the past several years and somehow I have never seen a show of hers despite her considerable level of fame within the medium. For those who never see stage shows in NY you may have seen her in bit parts in The Village, Erin Brockovich, and especially Cradle Will Rock After having seen this much talked about show I can say that her hoopla is earned. She has that special stage magic that you can't learn, fake, or convey properly to those who haven't seen for themselves. The sort of 'born-for-the-stage' charisma. Hypnotic.

My feelings about the show are mixed. It's very good mistake. But I wanted DOUBT to be "great" and it fell short I think. My principle problem with it was that I didn't think it was as ambiguous as it thought it was. The central conceit is that you don't really "know" and to the play's credit it does take some unexpected turns --there is one scene in particular featuring the child's mother--which really deepen it and make it noteworthy. But in the end I thought that both the actors and the playwright had made up their minds and in a play about suspicion, gossip, and the unknowable... I think that was a miscalculation. But, I don't want to be so critical because the 90 minutes fly by. The acting is superb. And I'm pretty sure it's going to win the BEST PLAY Tony. It's only competition seems to be DEMOCRACY.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

little devils

There are little devils in my TV. They pose as "channels" which provide a smorgasbord of (mostly) crappy movies to choose from at a moment's notice. Though their names surely must be Beelzebub, Lucifer, and Melanie Griffith... they call themselves "Showtime OnDemand", "Cinemax OnDemand", "HBO OnDemand". They make me watch movies that I would never for any conceivable reason watch in any other way.

I would not rent them from a store.
I would not review them -what a chore!
They would never see my Netflix list.
Still I watch them -that's the twist.

I must get these little devils out. Cancelling OnDemand is on my "to do" list this week. Good riddance horned ones from the Ninth Circle of fiery TimeWarnerCable !

Monday, March 14, 2005

Thai me up...

Late to the party here I know but I finally saw Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior in the theater. It must be on its last legs because it is only showing once or twice a day. The movie has made about 4 mil. after a month in the American market... not bad for a foreign action flick but not great either... I expect it will be a bigger hit on DVD) But I'm glad I trekked in for a 9:40 PM show risking tricky subway shutdowns after the showing (the trains these days -argh!) because "wow". I'm not speaking of the movie of course, which is pretty much a rough by-the-numbers action vehicle. The "wow" is for the star (Tony Jaa) showcased therein. The ads for this movie promise:

"No Stunt Doubles"
"No Computer Graphics"
"No Strings Attached"

which is a pretty simple advertising hook...but the truth of it packs more of a punch than you might think. Instead of the no-longer magical (because of ubiquity) "how'd they do that?" special effects reaction to movie sequences... you now get a "How'd HE do that?" genuine engagement and curiousity. Jaa's physicality is pretty showstopping.
Ong Bak? C+/B- Tony Jaa? More please! And quickly...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Return of the Screening Log...

As promised this Blog will be just that (plus other random tidbits) while the site gears up to return for the spring

Wednesday (03/09) through Saturday (03/12) viewings:
The Upside of Anger (in the theater)
I predicted this for two Oscar nominations a year in advance and that wasn't even wishful thinking since I hadn't seen the movie when I did. Nevertheless it's self prophetic because I will now be royally pissed if Joan Allen isn't nominated. She is magnificent. An "A" performance all the way and better than her Oscar nominated work in The Contender. As forcefully dramatic as her most famous performances PLUS terrific comedic timing. The movie as a whole is much better than Mike Binder (writer/director/co-star)'s other work would have you believe. It is a little unfocused and overreaches with some subplots that feel tentative or unsure of what they're there for... but overall it's a sharp, insightful, and even original (!) family dramedy. Allen and her four teen/20something daughters don't look like they're related but the chemistry is good and the film is reallyfunny. I could see it doing decent box office with some support from New Line in marketing. I think it will have good w.o.m. And Allen had better be nominated in January 2006. (B)

Robots (in the theater)
I was more consistently entertained that I thought I might be (I didn't like The Ice Age at all from this studio) but it's only a day later and it's already a little fuzzy in my memory. I've had enough of Robin Williams shtick to last a lifetime but otherwise the jokes were funny and the production design was also noteworthy. I only wish they hadn't thrown in stupid anachronistic stuff like a long sequence of fart jokes and the Britney Spears spoof (they're anachronistic because everything else is completely true to that robot world. But comparing noises to old men's farts doesn't make any sense when there aren't any humans in your world --duh! And spoofing on a singer might make some sense except for in the context in which it appears). Still it has it's moments. And at least one "wow" visual moment --which is always good. (C+)

La Strada(on DVD)
I had never seen this particular Fellini film ---I've still got many left to go, chief among them is La Dolce Vita. I've seen 8 1/2, Satyricon, Roma, and the first time I ever saw one was when I was 18 in college in a film history class and I still can't remember which one it was but remember I loved it. I'm thinking I Vitellonior Nights of Cabiria, maybe?) The La Strada DVD is from the Criterion Collection so I was disappointed that there were a lot of sound problems (lots of out-of-synch lip stuff) with the transfer. But it's a beautiful movie. As usual the visuals are the key thrill with Fellini. My favorite two moments were Gelsomina unexpectedly meeting an invalid boy in his room and Gesolmina watching the tightrope act: lovely nearly wordless sequences.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (on Broadway)
I'm not happy about the film-to-stage thing that's happening regularly on Broadway now. It's not that I disapprove of cross-pollination. It's just that I find people are pretty unimaginative about it. This transfer, like the Full Monty, is practically just lifted off the screen and plopped down on stage. Same plot points, plot sequence, ending, etc... only with music! Like they didn't really rethink. BUT. It is really funny and in addition to the famed comedic talents of John Lithgow, it has the comic and emotional joy of Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz onstage together. These two aren't that familiar to out of towners but they're awesome and they co-starred together in one of my favorite all time shows, Jason Robert Brown's off-Broadway The Last Five Years (which has quite a cult following of which I am a proud member).

I expect that this show will do at least as well as The Full Monty and being that it's funnier may last even longer. But back to the transfer. The best change is the addition of two characters (who will probably be looking at featured actor and actress nominees come May at the TONYs) and, of course, Sherie Rene Scott who is lighter than air in this show (For Broadway followers Sutton Foster's headlining of Little Women finally has some real competition for Best Actress at the TONYs). Scott's characterization is an improvement from the film version of Ms. Colgate, who is the American ingenue and principle target of the two conmen who drive the plot.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Commencing now (reader response page to the Oscar Predictions is at the site) this blog is it until the site proper gets going on again in April. This will be a screening log during the spring hiatus.

If you're in a large city go see WALK ON WATER the new Israeli film from Eytan Fox, director of Yossi & Jagger. Very interesting complex (but accessible) stuff about a Mossad agent and two German siblings.

It stars Lior Ashkenazi who some of you may remember from Israel's 2001 Oscar submission Late Marriage. If you haven't seen Late Marriage forget about anything currently playing in theaters and find it NOW. Great stuff

Thursday, March 10, 2005

wants to be found

I'm having a Bob & Charlotte kinda day. Ever have those? What to do...what to do? Lay around in pink panties, stare at the skyscrapers, or go for another swim in the hotel pool?

Feeling fuzzy and directionless...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Law & Order: Nathaniel Lashes Out

Totally appropos of nothing, other than a viewing last night of Special Victims Unit , I just wanted to share with readers my complete and utter hatred of Law & Order: The Universe. I don't understand how this show is now on its 4th concurrent edition (Trial by Jury) and has been running in some form or other for well over a dozen years.

For many of those years I successfully avoided L&Obecause I just wasn't interested, as I've always felt that TV was very unimaginative in its series topics. It seems like there's a choice of three: hospitals, courtrooms, or police/detectives. I would often notice this show being on as I was flipping channels and each time my reaction was always... 'why does Jerry Orbach (RIP) waste his time with this when he could be doing a Broadway show?' or 'why does Dianne Wiest waste her time with this when she could be doing a movie?' followed by 'How many stations carry this freaking thing?'

I finally saw some episodes last year when I had a houseguest who was a regular watcher of L&O and I was alarmed to find that this show, which I had assumed to be a fairly good one given that it had nearly broken a consecutive Best Series Emmy nomination, was nothing more than H&E "Headlines & Exposition" and then I began to get furious that the show is popular, prolific, award winning, and is now stealing one my favorite actors from Broadway (that'd be Bebe Neuwirth on the new T&J) after having stolen one of my favorite actors from the silver screen (Wiest)

And all this even though it's possibly the stupidest and most predictable drama on television. And here's the really weird part: Smart people regularly watch it. So if you watch it don't feel like this is an attack on you ---some of my friends are regular viewers. But it's maddening to me in my more idealistic moments. You see, all episodes follow the exact same arc. All plots are easy to follow. And even though they're easy, each scene will perform the exposition for you over again in case you are really dense. No thought process will go on internally. All characters say everything there is to be said. They think out loud for you to follow along. In the show all criminals are easy to spot. And all criminals confess. And all crimes are solved by a certain time. And nothing ambiguous or personal ever happens. All bad guys go to jail. In comparison, scifi films and superhero flicks, often criticized for their lack of deep thinking are downright ambiguous when it comes to good vs. evil.

If you begin watching any episode at 8:02 and leave the television at 8:20 on any night, you could return to your TV 24 hours later the following night and be only SLIGHTLY confused (by the change in peripheral actors and storyline) and still be at the EXACT same point in the plot. And what's even worse? The creator is PROUD that it's a total formula from which the show will never veer (see his interview in Entertainment Weekly)

Another thorn in my paw? For frequent obsessive theatergoers like myself, you can often spot abundantly talented singer/dancer/actors ranging from minimal to great Broadway fame typing away at a secretary's desk, answering phone calls, or spouting inane exposition for one minute as that scene's criminal/suspect/neighbor/family member of victim/family member of criminal/witness/victim/etc...

So in addition to being completely uninspired paint-by-numbers drama it's wasting precious talent in the most boring way you can ever use an actor: to deliver exposition. Nobody on the show delivers anything BUT exposition.

Now, my boyfriend reminds me that stage actors don't make any money (comparatively) and Law & Order probably keeps theater careers alive with it's frequent paydays for Broadway babies. But that doesn't stop me from being haunted by the fact that Jerry Orbach did this show for more than a decade and now Bebe Neuwirth, one of Broadway's largest talents, won't have any time for Broadway any more since she's taking a lead role in this series. TV series aren't short hours for leads. And getting the summers off isn't enough time to headline a new Broadway show.

I like money too. I understand it from a financial perspective but the series creator is also proud of the fact that you never learn anything about the regular characters' lives on the show. Now, I ask all actors out there: Why would any actor WANT to sign on for years of spouting exposition with no character arcs? Again people will scream "Money!" But surely someone else on the planet has offered Emmy (Frasier) and Tony (Chicago) winning BEBE f***ing NEUWIRTH a job where she actually has a character to play?

It's not just that I hate bad television and have a particular pet peeve with exposition-filled screenplays. It's also because I really and truly love Bebe Neuwirth. Everyone knows how hilarious she was on Frasier of course. But on the stage she's true star wattage magic. I most recently saw her at the Zipper theater doing "Here's Lies Jenny" and the entirety of her work on Trial by Jury ,I can safely predict, will never measure up to one single song in that show.

Why, Bebe, why?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Light vs. Leaden

Just saw this film, The Miracle at Morgan's Creek, for the first time last night. Very funny Preston Sturges film starring Betty Hutton. I had just seen Be Cool the day before. It's an interesting if random anachronistic comparison.

Morgan's Creek is a great comedy. Be Cool is a bad one.

Now let's pretend that the screenplays are equal (I know it's hard. Bear with me) The secret, if I may ridiculously reduce the equation (may I?), seems to be in the direction and the editing room. Both films feature a convoluted plot, colorful characters, comical misunderstandings, slapstick humor, not-so smooth talkers trying to be smooth, and a musical sequence aimed at reminding us about why we love the star in the first place. But it's in the pacing and the cutting where one film shines and the other is badly in need of a polish.

Miracle on Morgan's Creek flies by. I've heard many non film-buffs say they don't like older movies because they're "too slow". I can only guess that they aren't watching the old comedies. In comparison, todays comedies seem to drag and drag. Even those with semi-big laughs or endearing characters (Meet the Fockers if I'm being generous) drag toward the 2 hour mark or beyond with lots of filler. I can't think of one recent comedy (including the justly lauded Sideways) that couldn't benefit from some tightening.

In Miracle and other 30s and 40s comedies, you miss things regularly because you're laughing as the next joke has already begun. But this film mercifully really moves. I'm all for silly. But silly reads as stupid if it's not fast. Maybe Be Cool is too much a product of our sitcom age? There's so much dead space after each joke that I couldn't help but wonder where the filler soundtrack chuckles were.

Are they so concerned with us hearing every word that they don't dare tell two jokes at once? And they leave good performers stranded. The Rock and Vince Vaughn, who play a gay bodyguard and his wannabe black employer, are the best things by far about Be Cool (sorry Uma & John and your happy dancing feet). Unfortunately they are given a few hilarious bits and then. dead. space. and then more of that same hilarious bit and then. dead. space. repeat... until the beautifully silly and truly funny joke is reduced to just mildly amusing. Such a shame.

I wish today's comedy directors would study Lubitsch & Sturges.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Forecast: Cloudy! and other updates

So, I'm done. Year in Advance Predix. It's crazy. It's stupid. It's mind-boggling. It's like a giant puzzle only you're not allowed to look at any of the pieces to form the picture. But as soon as it stops being fun to shuffle all the films and players around and imagine nomination scenarios you just have to stop. No matter how f***ed up it looks.

In Other News:
Went back to the theater --My friend chose the movies so don't blame me that I saw CURSED and BE COOL. Today I was heading out to see ONG BAK but changed my mind. Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Geishas, Cowboys, Singers, Boxers, Miners, Olympians and more...

OK. Much more info up now. All major studios covered for this year's films. Now I need a day or two to think about the actual predictions. Totally silly I know but I like the fortune telling...

Movie Strike

It just occurred to me today that it's March and I have only seen ONE movie that was released this year in the theaters (that would be a Bolivian picture Sexual Dependency which I doubt will be playing at any theaters near you) What will it take to get me to go back to the theater?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fortune Teller

The early bird 2005/2006 Oscar race prediction work has begun. First up Columbia, Fox, & Focus Features...

Hilary the Deal Breaker

Anyone know how she weaseled out of her Calvin Klein contract for Oscar night? On all the talk shows she kept talking about how she didn't have to worry about her Oscar dress because she was under contract to Klein... and than she shows up in another designer? What gives?

Anyone know? I hope it's juicy as I'd like more ammunition for my imaginery feud with Ms. Swank.