If I Could Just Get It On Virtual Paper

Friday, July 30, 2004

So the happy news that I discovered today is that according to the Hollywood Reporter, Cartoon Network is in final negotiations for a deal with Sony Pictures Television to do a half hour series called "Boondocks." You may not be familiar with Aaron McGruder's Boondocks comic strip, but it probably ranks as my favorite one out there right now. (I read old Bloom County ones as well, but the current relevance of Boondocks sets it just a bit apart.) ANYhoo, the political/racial humor are a natural fit for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for sure.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

While looking over the list of movies that are due to be released before the end of 2004, I realized that there are a ridiculous number that I am just highly, highly anticipating. I thought I'd share my list, and if there are any names on it that are unfamiliar, I invite you to check out our Release Schedule to learn more. It's updated daily and is an invaluable source of upcoming movie information.

I've listed these in order of "most anticipated" first and then "slightly less anticipated" as I move down the list. It's a pretty damned impressive list, considering how excited I am for all of them.

1) The Life Aquatic

2) The Incredibles

3) Hero (I've actually already seen this, so it's admittedly a bit of a cheat)

4) Shaun of the Dead

5) The Motorcycle Diaries

6) Enduring Love

7) House of Flying Daggers

8) Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

9) Bride and Prejudice

10) Open Water

11) Team America: World Police

12) Steamboy

13) Synergy

14) A Very Long Engagement

15) Bad Education

16) Sideways

17) Ocean's Twelve

18) Hotel Rwanda

19) The Polar Express

20) Wimbledon

21) The Grudge

22) Warriors of Heaven and Earth

23) Danny Deckchair

24) Silver City

25) Ghost in the Shell: Innocence

26) Overnight

27) Friday Night Lights

28) Code 46

29) Mean Creek

30) P.S.

31) Closer

32) The Cookout

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The much-vaunted interview with Michael Moore on the O'Reilly factor last night turned out to be something of a letdown. Neither one of these men was ever going to change his mind about his position, so it felt a bit like they were just going through the motions in order to appease their respective fan bases. Still, Moore's "Can we get him signed up?" in response to O'Reilly saying that he would sacrifice himself for U.S. freedom by fighting in Iraq was rather priceless.

I debuted a new column today titled Book vs. Movie, and this first installment deals with the Isaac Asimov short story collection I, Robot versus the Alex Proyas movie adaptation of the ideas therein. I've been an avid reader since childhood, so this subject matter is extremely appealing to me, and I hope you will enjoy it as well. I've already had a reader request to cover The Bourne Supremacy as soon as possible, and I can in fact promise that I will do that one next week. I'm in the middle of the book at the moment and have already seen the film, so that deadline shouldn't be much trouble at all.

If you happen to have a request for Book vs. Movie, drop me a line at kim@boxofficeprophets.com.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

After the horror that was Catwoman and the dullness of The Clearing, I still managed to squeeze in two other 2004 movies into my weekend. The first was Monsieur Ibrahim, which I do highly recommend. It's a French film that stars Omar Sharif as a Muslim who befriends a young Jewish boy. It's a character-driven flick with not much story to speak of, but the dialogue is fresh and the boy who plays Moses, Pierre Boulanger, is an outstanding discovery.

The other film was the Cole Porter musical biopic De-Lovely. I really liked the conceit a great deal (though it's been done better before in stuff like All That Jazz), but the movie dragged in many spots and relied on cliche all too frequently. Kevin Cline's performance is remarkable, though, and it's worth seeing just for him. Also, Alanis Morissette's rendition of "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" is spectacular.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

indieWIRE has the entertaining news that Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me, made a trip to Capitol Hill earlier this week. He presented his now infamous documentary to Congress, working alongside the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. One of the things Spurlock addressed is the proposed Commonsense Consumption Act, which would ban civil lawsuits against the food industry for any role they might have in the growing obesity problem. The premise of Spurlock's film is actually that such a lawsuit by some obese young girls who relied almost exclusively on fast food as their diet was thrown out as unfounded. Spurlock set out to delve into the ways that marketing and branding can affect food decision choices from a very early age and also examined the real health problems that arise from such a diet. In both Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation and Greg Critser's Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, the implication is that politicians are very solidly in the pocket of the food industry. Given the growing health issues arising from obesity-related illnesses, it will be fascinating to see how that relationship evolves.

I've seen three 2004 releases so far this weekend. The first was The Bourne Supremacy, which was another excellent spy thriller. Though it does appear to deviate almost completely from the Ludlum novel, the sequel to The Bourne Identity totally grasps what made the first film work and carries it over to a cunningly crafted follow-up.

Catwoman, on the other hand, is almost certainly the worst film of the year, though I do waver between it and Two Brothers (it's a bad time to be a kitty cat). It has ludicrous dialogue, laughable acting performances, and a story that is only coherent when it is cliched. I would have liked the film much, much more if instead of Frances Conroy, the crazy cat lady looked a little something like this:

And finally, I also saw The Clearing. This film had marvelous, measured performances from two actors I really admire - Helen Mirren and Willem Dafoe - and Robert Redford was brilliant as well. Unfortunately, the movie itself was too plodding and devoid of any real emotion to leave a lasting impression. Even worse, I had an unbelievably stupid couple sitting right behind me, basically narrating every step the film took. "Oh, look. He's writing her a letter." "Oh, wow. It was really dumb of him to do that." "Oh, no! Why wouldn't she have brought help!" People. It's a movie. With fake characters and stuff.

It's possible my entire "The Clearing" experience might have been tainted by their presence, no?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

I'm not a particularly big comic book/graphic novel reader, but this Salon interview with Alan Moore sure makes me want to read Watchmen, From Hell and V for Vendetta.

I saw A Cinderella Story yesterday. It's every bit as trite as you would expect, and not at all good. I do like Chad Michael Murray, though, and wish that he'd get some attention that could land him some challenging projects. Even though the cutesy Hilary Duff flick was terrible, it still wasn't as painful to watch as Raising Helen, which I mentioned previously.

So far, Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Supremacy is awfully boring. I don't usually like techno thriller/spy novels, and this one doesn't really look to be any exception. I do expect to like the theatrical version, though. Somehow, the stuff works better when it's moving at the fast-paced clip a movie takes rather than the slow, deliberate, detailed approach of a book that is more than 600 pages long.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I was reading Gerald Posner's Why We Slept and said that I would comment further once I had finished the book. When I was about halfway into the book, I had concerns that the examination of the events that led up to 9/11 was rather blunt in the implication that Islam=bad. In the end, I don't believe that was the author's intent, but that tone did unfortunately come across from time to time. Ultimately, I do think he spelled out the difference between the Islamic fundamentalism of splinter groups such as Al Qaeda, other fundamentalist factions and the moderate Muslims who are targets of such groups themselves.

Much of the information contained in the book is stuff that has at least been given surface coverage by major news outlets, but the contentious relationship between the FBI and CIA is explored even deeper. Why We Slept also gives a rather honest evaluation of how politics entered into the fray, from the presidential term of George H.W. Bush through Clinton's eight years in office and even on up to the eight months of Bush the second's presidency that proceeded the attacks. The book probably leans to the right too much for those with more liberal beliefs, but I recommend it nonetheless.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Once again, I spent the weekend at the movies. I'll start out with one that I had actually seen the week before, but mercifully, my mind had blocked the experience.

This movie is bad. Laughably bad. And yet, there have been several movies this year that are much, much worse. The reason? At least Torque is so terrible that it affords so many unintentional laughs that the movie could quite accurately be classified as a comedy. The blatant product placement alone would be enough to have me guffawing.

And now, on to this weekend…

Before Sunset
Richard Linklater is simply brilliant. The sequel to his intelligent, talky film Before Sunrise totally exceeds expectations. While the first film was full of hope and wildly romantic, Before Sunset is a more mature piece, with a bit more realistic and perhaps more cynical approach to its subject matter. It's easily my favorite film of the year.

Napoleon Dynamite
This extremely quirky, oddly-paced little flick is definitely not for everyone. The main character is strange and often unlikable, it has no discernible plot to speak of, and the cast boasts only one recognizable actor in B-lister Diedrich Bader (and his role is actually quite small). And yet, I enjoyed it a great deal. The film's odd sense of humor really worked for me, and I'm sure it's destined to be known as a cult classic as time passes.

I, Robot
I'll have more to say about this Alex Proyas film in a column to come later this week, but I, Robot is a smart, entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. The special effects are truly spectacular and there is a manageable blend of humor and action. I recommend the film wholeheartedly, even to Asimov buffs who might have had concerns.

Coffee and Cigarettes
I liked this Jim Jarmusch-directed trifle much more than I expected I would. For those unfamiliar with the movie's concept, it's a series of vignettes set in coffee shops around the world. Each one features interchanges between a different set of characters. Sometimes the characters are real people, and other times - such as when Cate Blanchett plays her own cousin, they're fictional. Not all of the short encounters work, but the ones that do really fire on all cinders. Though the most memorable interlude might be a surreal exchange between Bill Murray and Wu Tang-ers RZA and GZA, the cleverest is certainly the one where Alfred Molina invites Steve Coogan to tea for a stunning bit of news.

Raising Helen
Amazingly, there were eight people in the theater where I saw this piece of tripe. One of the worst films of the year, it had little humor, a clichéd story, and seemed to be never ending. The saddest thing to me is that though I loved Kate Hudson in Almost Famous, her recent films Alex & Emma and Raising Helen are destined to sit amongst my worst of all-time.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Though I won't be seeing the film until later today, I just finished reading Isaac Asimov's short story collection I, Robot. Clearly, the plot from the movie itself has very little to do with what actually takes place in Asimov's stories, but I enjoyed perusing them as background to what sorts of intellectual dilemmas might take place in the Alex Proyas-directed universe. I had mentioned here in my blog before that I couldn't really understand the die-hard Asimov fans' objection to what they were seeing. I mean, really, the Law of Robotics are so deadly dull that the only way to perk the story up would be to ignore them. Having read the stories, I can envision a very smart film that, like Asimov did in the I, Robot collection, examines the laws and why a robot might seem on the surface to be going against said laws.
Since I've finished that story collection, I'm now in the middle of reading a non-fiction work called Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, by Gerald Posner. It's a gripping and fascinating read. Though I'm perhaps only a quarter of the way in, my eyes have been opened to much that was occurring in our own governmental agencies and around the world in the years preceding 9/11. I'm not totally sure I like the direction the book is going with certain conclusions, but I may just be reading more into it than I should be. I plan to finish it within the next couple of days, so I'll report back as to whether I give it the Hollis Stamp of Approval. 

Friday, July 16, 2004

I've seen a number of 2004 films in the last week, both recent releases and one film from earlier in the year. Here's a rundown:

I grew up in the '70s and '80s, so I easily remember the days when channels 3, 4 and 5 were the dominating force in television. Amusingly, I now live in a city where some of the local news anchors are considered celebrities in a manner similar to that depicted in the Will Ferrell film. As a result, I really found the film to be quite funny, with lots of weird, quirky humor that struck me just the right way. Though Anchorman isn't quite so hilarious as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, it's still well worth watching.

The Notebook
I generally avoid weepers, but this one had been praised by plenty of people I respect, so I gave it a shot. For personal reasons, it affected me pretty deeply. I won't spoil the end of the film, but it certainly mirrors (very) recent events in my own life and as such, it was more impacting than it might be to an everyday moviegoer. The film has solid performances all around, particularly from Rachel McAdams, who is emerging as quite an underrated young actress. I'm looking forward to seeing her alongside Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in next year's The Wedding Crashers.

King Arthur
While I tried to maintain a positive mindset about this film in the months approaching its opening, as the actual time drew near I couldn't help having lots of misgivings. The film just looked deadly dull. Unfortunately, this is mostly the case, though there are some well-imagined battle scenes and decent interchanges between Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. Honestly, I think I prefer an empowered Guinevire to the simpering wuss generally highlighted in the mythology.

Touching the Void
I wanted to like this film a lot more than I actually did. I typically enjoy documentaries a great deal, and this one had a what appeared to be a captivating story. In the end, I suspect that the tale works better in book form. Touching the Void was interesting enough, but it lacked real emotional impact for me. I do highly recommend it for anyone interested in survival stories or mountain climbing, though.



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