Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What the--??

Suddenly, China doesn't sound so bad

Wow. Now I'm really worried. I've written before about my hopes and fears for the erstwhile Red State Delight known as 24, but the news today was dark indeed.

Looks like I'm really rooting for the terrorists now -- Islamo-fascists...Texas oil men...Mormons...Leprechauns... I don't care who they are. Janeane Garofalo has been begging for a dirty bomb for some time, and the demise of Air America doesn't count. (Though I have to admit, she looks unusually good -- dare I say hot? -- in the photo.)

FYI, this should be my last post for at least a week. Definitely my last from the erstwhile great state of California. The wife and kids and I are loading up the truck and rolling to Washington in a few days. And the fact that I just described Janeane Garofalo as "hot" is a sure sign I need to get out fast.

On the other hand, we'll miss this crazy place and the fine folks staying behind to hold the fort against such impossible odds. Who knows. Might even be back someday if the call for reinforcements is loud enough.

For now, catch you on the flip side.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Giant LEGO man storms beach

Hurricanes, typhoons and tidal waves are menacing swarthy third-worlders everywhere else, and Holland gets this? (Proof, according to Kanye West, that King Neptune hates black people.)

Hours later, Sean Penn and camera crew put out to sea in a leaky boat to search for other "Persons of Plastic" -- mainly poorer, disenfranchised Duplo products -- Penn believes were abandoned by Republicans in the Dutch Parliament. He was rescued the next day by local fisherman, hauled aboard after a cold night spent clinging to his mustache off the coast of Belgium.

Personally...all I can say is Al-Qaeda is getting pretty desperate if they're down to the old "Trojan LEGO Guy" ploy... Come to think of it, also better check to make sure Michael Jackson isn't hiding in there either.

Heck, there are a thousand punchlines for this one.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blind Democrats find an acorn

Please don't screw this one up.

Resist the urge.

Give your inner Patriot Act a chance to breathe free for once since 9/11.

This will make money, I promise. Then, when it's all over? You can go back to losing money again. Yeah, that's it! Just think of it as another tent pole film! It will fund another dozen boring sermons nobody will pay to see. Investors love it when you make a profit. You might even keep your job another year and avoid that whole "taking the studio in another direction" headline in "Variety."

Plus, think how it will shut us conservatives up. Now, when we try to say you haven't made one movie since 2001 that backs up your pro-democracy, pro-troop rhetoric, you can point to this one film.

Go on, H-town. Just do it. We'll still respect you in the morning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jackson a hard Hobbit to break?

Home again...maybe

Good news for Peter Jackson's legion of Tolkien fans... Looks as if the great man himself is back in the running for a big screen adaptation of "Lord of the Rings" prequel The Hobbit. As if we really doubted this was more than an extended sour-grapes rant from Bob Shaye in the first place, right?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Prince Caspian

Orlando Bloom II?

Digging through recent news I came across this peek at Narnia: Prince Caspian I'd missed last month.

If I'm being honest, I was closer to merely happy the first film didn't screw anything up than really excited by it. The casting was so-so, the script a B-, and Andrew Adamson as director was just on the thumbs-up side of adequate.

But it ultimately worked because the pivotal scene depicting Aslan's sacrifice packed a huge emotional punch, the final battle sequence was thrilling and the look of the film was a feast for the eyes. (So perhaps I should cut Adamson some slack?)

Hard to tell much from this brief featurette, but Ben Barnes looks to be a solid acquisition to the team for Narnia II. Plucked from near obscurity, Barnes is clearly on a track down the Orlando Bloom road to stardom. He's actually a bit more masculine than the above pouty pretty boy mug suggests.

Feels right for the Caspian role, but it's been years since I've read the book.

Barnes can also be seen in the prologue for Stardust, in theaters now.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Good Night and Good Luck, New Republic suckers!

So I'm in Baghdad yesterday, right? And these Young Republican frat boys stuff 15 puppies in this mini-fridge!

This one is too delicious to let go without drawing as much attention to it as possible. Yes, it seems The Old Democrat, er, New Republic just got pantsed again.

In the grand tradition of pinko fake-o Stephen Glass, TNR's covert "Baghdad Diarist" -- a U.S. soldier blogging about the barbarism of his fellow G.I.s in Iraq -- has been unmasked. We now know his name, rank and serial fibs as a shill for the anti-war movement.

Though editors at everyone's favorite toffee-nosed Lefty rag are understandably in deep, deep denial about this embarrassing repeat of recent history, Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp has reportedly signed a statement recanting his unsubstantiated claims of U.S. soldiers wearing dead children's skulls and swerving to run over puppy dogs with Bradley Fighting Vehicles. (Turns out Bradleys are incapable of "swerving" -- one of a few clues that led The Weekly Standard to investigate this brave truth teller's claims.)

From the above-linked TNR statement on Beauchamp:
"Although we place great weight on the corroborations we have received, we wished to know more. But, late last week, the Army began its own investigation, short-circuiting our efforts."
Translation: "We asked around, confirmed our guy was there. Blame Bush we may never really know the truth!"

Ann Coulter has a piece on the Beauchamp incident, though a far cry from her best. Her boredom reporting this latest moment of media hypocrisy and disinformation is palpable. It's understandable, though. Can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Liberal fraudster these days. Where's the challenge anymore?

Movie tie-in...

If you haven't yet, do check out Broken Glass, an excellent little film about the first time this happened. Available on DVD or occasionally The Independent Film Channel.

True, New Republic's editors are champions of truth depicted as victims of their own good hearts, rather than the willing accomplices that this latest incident is further evidence they may have been. But it also shows a Liberal muckraker nailed by New Media upstarts and disgraced for lies intended to disgrace conservatives. (Best scene: a stunned Peter Sarsgaard yanking issue after issue of the magazine off the office racks in mute horror... Watch it on a loop. Make extra popcorn.)

But given that this latest incident also happens to touch on Iraq, don't hold your breath waiting for a sequel.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Film Review: Stardust

My Rain Man-like powers for spotting hidden agendas in entertainment can be a curse sometimes. Seems like nobody just makes movies anymore.

For that reason, I was looking forward to Stardust. The trailer (watch it, you'll get the gist) suggested the next Princess Bride -- that cynicism-free breath of fresh air from 1987 of which we could use a second wind today.

First the good news... Turns out there is a big, bright Bride vibe along with elements of The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, a Terry Gilliam-esque comic tone, and thoroughly impressive visual design and effects. Also a heavy dose of old school Brothers Grimm horror -- in reversal of Harry Potter's inversion of evil archetypes -- complete with damsels in distress and haggish witches distressing them.

We also get the fetching Claire Danes doing a heavy but excellent British accent, the ever-hilarious Ricky Gervais (too briefly), and a powerfully resurgent Michelle Pfeiffer -- the rare actress selfless enough to have zeroed out her career to devote key years to her family despite her age in a sex-appeal-intensive industry.

Much of the comedy is brilliant, including a billy goat experiencing serious culture shock after Pheiffer's witch queen turns him into an inn keeper (appropriately named "Billy") and a ghostly peanut gallery of murdered princes joining each other on the sidelines throughout the picture as they bump each other off en route to claim the faerie kingdom throne.

And if you're tired of the anachronisms and pop-culture references of Shreck, fear not. The laughs here are mostly in context and much more subtle.

The bad news is that everything only occasionally gels, largely because Stardust cant decide if it wants to be an earnest fairy tale or a send-up of earnest fairy tales.

It's also a road picture that falls into the road picture quagmire of an episodic plot structure. Too many loosely linked waypoints, too little drama.

Ditto for Stardust's too-obvious romantic comedy template. We know the bickering hero and heroine will fall for each other in the end, and it all plays out more or less as expected -- which is fine in a rom-com with perfect chemistry between the leads. Here, the romance works only in fits and starts, feeling alternately real and contrived.

Then there's Robert De Niro as a (literally) closet gay sky pirate. It's mildly funny at first, but by the time he's dancing around like a can-can girl, it's just lame... (It's tough guy Robert De Niro acting fruity, we get it already.) And we've seen this before, from Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song" to Zorro the Gay Blade. Yet it goes on, waaay past the punchline after that, all the way to a truly gay (in the worst sense of the word) "come out and be happy" message that totally takes us out of the film. Thank you again, Hollywood Gay Mafia.

Parents beware, too, the creepier aspects of the wicked witch element. Animals are sacrificed, entrails are read. (Albeit mostly off-camera. And not to worry, the furry woodland creatures get their revenge in the end.)

...Which all sounds like a thumbs-down, right? Not really. It's an entertaining, mostly original flick that's hard not to enjoy. Just don't expect it to abide with you long after, like the great ones do.

Nor, given all the flaming pirates and witchcraft, can we expect it to become the church youth group, movie night favorite Princess Bride became on its way to universally-loved "modern classic" status.

Bottom line, good film, but I guess I'm still just waiting for that breath of truly fresh air.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Keys to the 'The Kingdom'?

If you haven't yet, check out this fantastic trailer for 'The Kingdom.'

Is this yet another partisan, anti-Iraq sermon being packaged for Red State suckers, or could it be as good as it looks? I'm optimistic, but the telltale signs of liberalism may be there.

First, the cast of confirmed and presumed liberals.

Chris Cooper isn't just a Leftist, he's hardcore, in the mold of Penn/Glover/Baldwin. Cooper does not play hard-bitten G-men out to avenge wrongs to his country unless there's a conspiracy at the core. Ditto for Jeremy Piven. Then there's character actor Richard Jenkins, who often inhabits bureaucrats and smarmy authority types, evidently here playing a suit responsible for sending our heroes into the soup.

Another clue appears in an alternate trailer.

Jamie Foxx's character tells his son he's going after bad men, to which his son affirms, "you're not one of them." Hollywood does not set something up like that unless it proves ironic, ala Munich, where the "good guys" lose their soul in pursuit of "bad guys" who are really just like us.

Writer Matthew Michael Carnahan is an unknown quantity, but his upcoming "Lion for Lambs" looks to be as liberal as they come on roughly the same topic as this movie.

The producers are a mixed bag. Some with liberal credits logged or upcoming, some who just might lean right.

Michael Mann is the biggest name on the producing team. Stylistically, he's one of my all-time favorite directors. One of the reasons for that being the fact that I don't know where he stands politically. He's largely remained blessedly apolitical, though I do like the looks of one project he's developing now.

Director Peter Berg... Another unknown, though both Friday Night Lights and the TV show it spawned (and he produces) have proven respectful to and worthy of their Middle American audience.

My guess? We're the good guys but there will be a conspiratorial twist at the end, though whether or how directly Uncle Sam is complicit remains to be seen.

If it merely bashes the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the false friend to American interests that it is -- a fact which the present administration seems as clueless as it is on the immigration issue -- I as a conservative may even be high-fiving my pinko colleagues across the aisle after the screening.

Either way though, one of the best-produced trailers I've seen in years. U2's "Bullet the Blue Sky" provides the soundtrack here and could be the biggest little clue yet as to the tone of this film.

Now if only yet another film -- 300 being the last -- hadn't just lifted a few key moments from the script I last finished. Ah, well... Back to the ole drawing board.