Friday, March 30, 2007

Hypocrites and hotties!

Been preoccupied with my script and and our first trip to Disneyland with kids this weekend (leaving ASAP for the Happiest Place on Earth -- and they better have the good stuff open this time), so I thought I should post something.

Actually, just a couple quick links to Libertas if you haven't seen these yet. Well worth it, particularly the second one. Pictures worth a thousand words here and here!

Have a great weekend, everybody. Look for a fresh post or two by Monday!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Civic Doodie?

Have gun, will racial profile!

Have you heard of this one now?

I'll reserve judgement until I've seen it, but...

"CIVIC DUTY, a psychological thriller in the tradition of “Rear Window,” takes a controversial look at the fear and prejudice that runs rampant in our post 9/11 world, by telling the story of Terry Allen (Peter Krause) who begins to suspect that his new neighbor, a single Islamic grad student is involved in a terrorist conspiracy. He becomes obsessed with this notion, contacts local law enforcement and even the FBI, but decides to take matters into his own hand."

This film has been around since last April, when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. It's also been screened at the Cairo International Film Festival. Appears to be going wide in May.

Based on this review from Tribeca, there's a chance this may be one of those open-ended films in which we never know if the Arab next door turns out to be guilty or not. But based on the liberal sprinkling of words like "paranoia," "obsession" and "tolerance" in the available write-ups on this, I'm guessing the out-of-work "generic white-collar guy" turns out to have a racist screw loose. Remember Falling Down? Something along those lines, guaranteed.

According to a viewer at IMDB who thinks it's a good thing, the film is indeed "politically correct" and "anyone who is concerned with Arabs rights or even justice in [the] world would love this movie."

Admittedly, the Rear Window premise with a terrorist twist is a dynamite idea. And had it looked anything like the poster, had the filmmakers played it straight -- demonstrating how terrorists are living among us -- this film would already be out and a smash hit.

Yes, "the prejudice runs rampant" in American these days. Mostly coming from Hollywood.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Glover makes 'Lethal' career move yet again

Murtaugh and Riggs ride again

Fresh off the wild, third-place, finger-on-the-pulse-of-America success of Shooter, Danny Glover can soon be seen in his follow-up bid to work again, Lethal Weepin' 5. Glover will again play long-suffering cop Murtaugh, with Dick Cheney taking on the role of his wild man counterpart Riggs.

This installment finds the mismatched pair working a case for the World Court, out to prosecute a group of security contractors hired by Rush Limbaugh to take out a school bus full of children on their way to an Earth Day rally in San Francisco.

Mark Cuban's Magnolia Pictures produced the film in partnership with Clooney/Penn's Whet Dreamz co-op. Details of the plot remain under wraps, and no press screenings have been scheduled.

The only photo released to the media (see above) suggests at least one scene in which Murtaugh shoots Riggs in the crotch. Fan-boy Internet buzz says the scene, played for laughs, caps a hilarious quail-hunting sequence in which Riggs "peppers" Murtaugh in the face with a shotgun after mistaking him for Harry Belafonte.

Belafonte, in a supporting role opposite Glover

The film -- already enjoying a 95% "fresh" rating at -- will premier unannounced this fall after its premier at Sundance.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What needs to be done

With the anniversary of the launch of our national adventure in Iraq, Garry Moes over at Graybrook has posted a brilliant recap of the situation and made a good argument for why it's far more than an adventure.

"We, the people of a rational civilization, must understand historical and ontological realities if we are to succeed in the defense of our world and way of life. The problem is that in recent generations, owing to our crumbling educational system and moral/philosophical foundations, we are quickly losing our ability to reason, especially to morally reason, and to see clearly what has to be done. We may respond to our latent instincts for a time, but these are not enough to see us through to the necessary end in the long haul."

He also makes a great case on why so much is riding on Iraq. Not just for our oft-cited image abroad, but in terms of what Iraq itself means to our enemies.

Also some good points regarding Islam's inherent drive to conquest and historical predisposition to factional warring within the faith itself.

Important reading, particularly in light of Victor Davis Hanson's recent comments on his Website and elsewhere that the coming year will likely make or break us over there, with the fate of the world in some aspects riding squarely on the shoulders of Gen. Petraeus.

Speaking of VDH, don't miss this nice review of a new book on the Crusades:

"Important here is Tyerman’s stance towards religiosity. He reminds throughout the narrative that it was not merely glory or money or excitement that drove Westerners of all classes and nationalities to risk their lives in a deadly journey to an inhospitable east, but rather a real belief in a living God and their own desire to please him through preserving and honoring the birth and death places of his son."

Makes a nice companion piece to Moes' essay in several ways. Read both.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Big fish start small

Thanks to Dirty Harry over at Libertas for the heads up on this one -- a really innovative concept that I think could really end up stocking the pool of Christian filmmakers with some pretty big fish in the future.

Hope they do this again. Might even take a crack at it myself. Always been a better artist sketching on the fly than sitting down to paint a masterpiece, which is one of the strengths of this approach. Totally bypasses that editorial voice that can get in the way without a tight deadline.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nathan Hale goes Hollywood

Wow. I never thought I'd live to see this, but I'm fairly jazzed at the news.

Looks as if a big-screen treatment of Nathan Hale is in the works. Based on a forthcoming book by M. William Phelps. (Here's the official release if you want more than the Variety blurb.)

" 'We want to do it as an exciting spy story,' Josephson Entertainment VP Danica Radovanov said. 'Phelps has uncovered a lot of new details.' "

This is the perfect way to attack Hale's story, which is literal cloak-and-dagger stuff. Nor do I see any immediate red flags in the people this far fronting this production.

I just found the author's website, and while I can't say that first 8x10 glossy instills me with a lot of confidence, the dude does have a resume.

Actually, I'm far more comfortable with a Geraldo-style journalist doing this than, say, your average Ivy Leaguer on sabbatical from CNN. Though really, I can't see anyone having the audacity to play this for any contemporary political spin.

On the other hand, Warner picking this up for its "relevance today" just makes me nervous somehow. Probably nothing and maybe even something pro-American at the heart of that statement, but I've been burned before. Pretty much every time the phrase is uttered by studio execs, in fact.

(Not to mention Charlie Sheen, Rosie O'Donnell and Mark friggin' Cuban are doing a feature film based on that cheeseball YouTube movie that argued the American government was behind 9/11. So I guess nothing is sacred and beyond abuse.)

Still, I have high hopes for this. And for Matt Reilly's work over at Warner Bros. too, perhaps, if he's the kind of outside the box thinker who will greenlight material like this again.

"Make your own movie!"

So I guess I like Mel Gibson again, this event more than making up for his well-publicized jab at Dubya during the filming of Apocalypto. (Always considered that the Paleo-Con in him anyway, which is infinitely more forgivable than a liberal making the same comment.)

But "exploded in anger"? Come on, Associated Press... Mel nailed it and you know it. And at my film school alma mater, too. Even back then CSUN was a hotbed of So Cal Leftiness. Can't imagine it's changed for the better in the intervening...uh...few years.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Snake weighs in on remake talk

He is Snake Plissken!

According to Variety, Gerard Butler (300) has signed on to star in the upcoming remake of John Carpenter's Escape From New York.

In a move to capitalize in his new clout and hard-earned physique, Butler would take over the Kurt Russell role of Snake Plissken, the one-eyed convict tasked with heading into the inescapable maximum security prison formerly known as Manhattan to liberate the U.S. president.

Now Kurt has weighed in, none too enthusiastically, here on the project.

"I am Snake Plissken! It's like Sean Connery always watching someone else do their version of Bond."

Good point. Moreover...

" 'I do think that character was quintessentially one thing. And that is, American. ... He's a fascinating character. In fact, he's the most complex character I've ever played,' says Russell."

Snake Plisskin complex?? Then again, Kurt was also Captain Ron and Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China. Then again again he's been criminally underrated as an actor going back to The Thing. Though for my money, Miracle, Dreamer and Dark Blue were infinitely more complex.

But he makes another good point about Snake's American tone. He was essentially a cowboy on a Harley. (On a steeeeel horse I riiiiide...!)

I'm actually intrigued by this remake. Dated as it probably is, it's considered a genre classic, I know. And ordinarily I'm against that sort of thing. But the premise is both so over the top and yet so very, very cool, I'll have zero problem buying a ticket to this if handled right.

Word has it, Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) will pen the script, too, so they're getting it right on one level already at least.

Larry Flynt wins again

Your Honor, I breast my case

Here we go again with those "activist judges" telling you how your world should work. Legally elected representatives of the people be damned. The welfare of kids be damned.

Our hope to beat this latest bit of legislation by black-robed royal fiat...?

" 'It doesn't matter if the Republicans are in the majority or the Democrats. This issue is something both sides of the aisle feel strongly about,' said Donna Rice Hughes of Enough Is Enough, an Internet pornography watchdog group."

Not really. Despite what I just said about our elected representatives.

Porn is big money, like illegal-immigration cheap labor and the abortion industry. On the other hand, maybe we can hope this is one of those election time no-brainers that most Congressmen and Senators will jump at regardless of their special interest obligations.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bring me the head of Rick James

This just in -- the skull of Rick James unearthed on a golf course in Chicago. Super freaky!

Monday, March 19, 2007

"As hard as it is to believe, the Bush administration is at odds with one of its biggest supporters — the religious right — in the Supreme Court battle over "Bong Hits 4 Jesus..."

As hard as it is to believe, MTV has a good little article here.

I post this partly as a curiosity piece. One of those very rare times when Left and Right are hunting spooks in a darkened room, come full circle and find themselves inadvertently back to back a la Shaggy and Scooby. Or more accurately, watching each other's back in the same real fight.

The key quote:

" 'Schools have become like prisons, where students are discouraged from using free speech and there's this draconian atmosphere.' "

So true. Just a
week or two ago here in conservative Fresno, otherwise model students were being suspended for using the phrase "that's so gay" in a negative context.

Let me take this opportunity to say, being against free speech is so gay.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bay Area Battle Cry

Sounds like O'Reilly mentioned this recently, so I'm probably late with this one, but here's an interesting story about the only rally I could ever back in San Francisco. Nice to see the Giants are one of the few official entities in the Bay Area not entirely opposed to true free speech.

"Shooter" a self-inflicted wound

Danny Glover on the red carpet for Shooter

Don’t believe the rumors... It is all about oil, my friends.

Not only do we invade other countries for it, we slaughter whole villages and bury their bodies under the pipeline.

I know because I saw it in Shooter.

I won’t even bother with the plot. Let’s just jump right in.

In Shooter, America is baaaad. So bad that even the handful of good guys left in government are powerless to stop the vast majority of baaaad ones running it layer upon layer upon layer (with brandy snifter in hand, of course.)

In Shooter, there are no Republicans or Democrats, only guys trying to make a quick buck. In fact, any U.S. senator -- albeit those who look suspiciously more Republican than Democrat -- will admit that to your face, with a smile and a puff of cigar smoke, because you can’t do a thing about it, little man.

In Shooter, U.S. soldiers get left behind at the first sign of trouble. By their commanding officers. Who will set up large, illegal, undetectable military bases in foreign countries at a phone call from those Republican-looking senators and their Haliburton pals.

In Shooter, you can tell the bad guys by their American flag lapel pins, and the good guys by their Che Guevara T-shirts.

In Shooter, you have a film to heal the long and unfortunate rift between Hollywood and Iran caused by 300.

In Shooter...

You have a film Hugo Chavez will adore...

You have a film Hugo Chavez-adoring Danny Glover stars...

Patriotism is for suckers who should know better, a weakness acknowledged reluctantly, like alcoholism...

And even rednecky, good-old-boy gun nuts from the deep south gloat like Rosie O’Donnell about finding no WMDs in Iraq...

Seriously folks, it’s that bad.

Danny Glover was a dead giveaway, of course, but I had hoped it was one of those cases where he was so desperate for work, he was willing to compromise his core beliefs. Like Oliver Stone stooping to direct World Trade Center. But nope.

Oh, and get ready for the payoff line at the end...

Evil Guy: You can’t shoot me. I’m a U.S. Senator!
Hero: Exactly. [BLAMMO!!!]

Burn, baby, burn!!

And when, oh when, are we going to give private security contractors a break? They're popping up as the heavies everywhere lately, despite the fact most are uber-patriots in the real world who deserve to be stars in their own right. (But to see that movie, you'll have to buy my recently completed Iraq actioner, Spartans, currently being politely rejected for its subject matter by all the top producers in Hollywood.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Oracle at Fresno speaks

Maverick classics scholar Victor Davis Hanson returned to a packed house at his old Fresno State stomping grounds tonight to weigh in on his involvement with 300 and the history that inspired it.

And when I say packed, I'm talking Starkist tuna.

I ended up party to this egregious violation of fire code in a "seat" on the floor down one aisle with scores of others assembled to bask in the glory.

In his usual odd mix of academic brilliance and raisin farmer earthiness (seriously, the farm's been in the family for generations -- he once recreated an ancient battle there with students wearing 70 lbs of armor like true hoplites) Hanson spoke for about 30 minutes before taking questions from the audience of all ages and media affiliations.

I would have opened my laptop to take notes if I wasn't pretty much spooning my aisle-mates by the time we actually got rolling, so here goes the random highlights.

Yes, 300 was his first movie gig, though he passed up hanging with Colin Farrell for Alexander after getting a phone call from "an obnoxious sounding woman with a British accent" requesting the meeting. Hanson had never heard of Farrell -- and had no problem trashing the film when he saw it. Ditto for Troy.

Zack Snyder, co-writer Kurt Johnstad and Frank Miller, fans of Hanson's writings, hounded him for some time to view an early cut of the film, Johnstad ultimately driving all the way to Selma with a DVD.

"When someone phones you and lists Dawn of the Dead and Sin City as their credentials, you have to be careful," Hanson joked. "I've already done enough to discredit the profession."

After initial skepticism over visual embellishments and details like the lack of armor, Hanson was won over by the accurate themes and spirit of the thing.

He considers 300 historically accurate, merely delivered in a hyper stylized form -- something guys like Herodotus and Plutarch would have been just fine with.

He was also impressed with the lengths the filmmakers went to stay real with the script. The film contains some 16 lines lifted directly from history and a slew of whole scenes. That cool bit with Xerxes' messengers tossed into the well? That happened too.

Also accurate, the phalanx style of fighting. But surprisingly, even the one-on-one fighting scenes are grounded in history. Mini sorties and hand-to-hand combat often followed the phalanx charge, Hanson said.

There was one truly Hollywood aspect...

Hanson said he couldn't help but notice, too, the -- er, hyper-reality of the upper female anatomy on screen at times.

"We have makeup for everything," Snyder said.

Colleagues have given Hanson grief for defending the film, mostly for political reasons.

“Why are you working with this right-wing, comic-book guy Frank Miller?” they ask.

"What I love about these guys is that they're outsiders, doing this with a handful of people beyond the mainstream, on a budget of $26 million," Hanson said.

He never officially outed Snyder and Johstad as conservatives. But he did say Gorgo's troop surge senate speech was added after the Bush Administration's decision to up the ante in Iraq.

"That wasn't in the version I saw late last year," he said.

He also said he just got an email from one of them, "thrilled" at reports people were walking out of the movie in Germany after calling it an American propaganda movie.

"I can only assume they're ecstatic now that Iran is outraged too," Hanson said.

Other completely random highlights:

* Hanson stayed a phone call away during final and post-production, with Snyder calling on at least one occasion for quick tips and fix-it advice.

* Hanson attended the big So Cal premier last week.

* Are you a super fan planning to visit the actual pass at Thermopylae? You may be disappointed. It's now a highway, with the sea below the cliffs silted over for some distance.

* Archeology at Thermopylae has unearthed hundreds of arrowheads on the spot the 300 died, confirming they fought in the "shade."

* Hanson was once contacted by a military unit in Iraq, asking for the correct Greek form of their proposed tattoos: "Come and take them,” the taunt used by Leonidas' men in the film.

* Our troops in Iraq routinely find porn and drug paraphernalia in raided Jihadist enclaves. “They’re just as corrupt as anyone else.” (He digresses during the Q&A.)

* What would have happened if Persia had subjugated Greece? The same thing that happened to culturally rich Ionia when it happened there: a total dark age.

* To the criticism Sparta was oligarchical and depended on serfs: Imperfect as it was, by the standards of the day, constitutional government in Greece was unique -- and light years ahead of the rest of the world. In Persia, there was no debate over slavery being immoral. Nor was history even recorded. "History" was writing what Xerxes told you to write about Xerxes.

* New U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. Petraeus is destined to be either Bush's Gen. Sherman or his Gen. McClellan. (Lincoln was politically dead in the water until Sherman destroyed Atlanta in his march to the sea and won the Civil War.)

VDH: "Today, 20 percent on the left believe the war in Iraq is inherently evil and all for oil, 20 percent on the right believe we could democratize the moon if we set our mind to it, and 60 percent in the middle just want to back a winner."

* NPR interview audio covering some of the same topics discussed tonight.

* Website of the man himself. Highly recommended.

Hollywood Declares War on Iran!

Goin' Ber-Xerxes!
Hollywood did what now?? (There's a headline you don't see every day, Edgar.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Go tell the Spartans

In the book Masters of Chaos, there's an anecdote about a U.S. Special Forces unit in Afghanistan so inspired by the strength-and-honor themes of Gladiator that they took the film with them into combat, at one point rigging a projector and screening it on the hood of a truck in a remote outpost.

My best hope for '300' was that it might represent that kind of film. With Hollywood a total no-show for the war on terror, refusing to give the troops (and us) the kind of inspiration and resolve it did in World War II, even a historical epic about the ancient democratic West standing up to the ancient anti-democratic East would work at this point.

I just saw the film. I predict it will indeed be playing at Humvee drive-ins from Kuwait to Kabul in no time. I'll even send a dozen copies myself. And if it infuses America's Spartans with the sort of backbone the Greek sort had, the modern Persians (Iran) should be shaking in their boots.

Granted, 300 lacks the proto-Christian soul of kindness that the Lord of the Rings trilogy offered -- the last film event with a timely message and welcome martial spirit post 9/11. Be advised, this a sensual, blood-soaked, adults-only portrayal of the limited virtues to be offered by a pagan warrior culture like Sparta. But boiled down to its essence, the virtues of patriotism and resistance to decadent tyranny are true virtues nonetheless. And criminally rare ones today.

See my previous post for what turned out to be an accurate assessment of the film from, though I was even more struck by the parallels that had to be intended by the filmmakers. Right down to the heroes' explicit distaste for the word "submission," which just so happens to be the meaning of the word "Islam," which happens to be the religion of the descendants of the hordes trying to invade Europe even then to leave it a "pile of ruins," which just happens to be the image of Ground Zero burned forever in our brains after 9/11.

And what a mesmerizing, darkly beautiful piece of pure cinema. Director Zack Snyder just knocked Mel Gibson off the "most visual director working today" pedestal on which I placed him after Apocalypto, which suddenly looks trite -- and harmless as a Quaker ice cream social -- by comparison. Can't wait to see what he does next, particularly if the conservative politics of this film wasn't a happy accident of true history and Frank Miller's source material.

Can't say enough about Gerard "King Leonidas" Butler either. The guy's been banging around American and UK cinema doing quality work for a long time now, and it's great to see him in a role that could push him onto the A List at last. (Ladies, if the snarling, head-severing Gerard Butler isn't your cup of tea, be sure to catch his warm and cuddly flip side in the underrated Dear Frankie on DVD.)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Let's get ready to rumble!

Sorry to report this isn't a review as I'm still "preparing for glory" at this point (seeing it IMAX style tomorrow). But having looked forward to this like I haven't for a film since The Fellowship of the Ring, I can't resist posting something about it opening night.

One really big reason for having high hopes for this film is the fact my old professor from Fresno State, Victor Davis Hanson, a man feared and hated by liberals everywhere, has given it his seal of approval:

"But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees. "

Hanson, in fact, has apparently written the forward to a book coming out with the film.

Then there's this telling review over at

"Gorgo’s speech to the council in the third act could be given by Republicans on the House floor to argue in favor of the next troop ‘surge’ in Iraq, and it’s hard to believe that the words were written after 9/11 and after the invasion of Iraq without the echoes of modern debate ringing in the writers’ ears. ... Gorgo actually says at one point that freedom isn’t free. It gets better when you have Leonidas talking about how he must break the laws of his own country to save it by getting it into war – this is the kind of rationalization George W Bush might have made... And to be honest, you can’t tell a really good story about a bunch of guys fighting to the death without regrets from a liberal standpoint. I wouldn’t want to live in Sparta, but I can appreciate their point of view. And I’m not enough of a liberal to think that we can wish away all of our problems – I know that it takes unpleasant men, like these Spartans, visiting violence upon enemies to clean up situations every now and again."

Couple this with the fact liberal reviewers are reaming it for racism and fascism, and I'm really raring to see this one. (Note: At least one noted Christian reviewer is warning against seeing this one due to some graphic lesbian nudity during a brief orgy scene.)

I'll report more on this all after having seen it.