13 February 2006

TV Weekend, Truck Day...

The reasons for which being rather obvious (and fucking annoying), I spent most of this weekend in front of a television. I have no idea how much snow we got, but it was enough to make the simple act of going to get a sandwich from my deli not five blocks away a 45 minute exercise. Such fun. On the one hand, I saw some good stuff and caught a couple movies I wanted to see. On the other hand, by Sunday night my eyeballs had nearly been scorched out of my skull from accepting almost 60 straight hours of TV rays.

I started the weekend by watching the two hour series finale of Arrested Development which, true to form, FOX put up against the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics on NBC. I think they were worried a few people actually still thought they ever wanted the show to succeed. Just a hunch. The last four episodes were titled, in order, Faking It, Family Ties, Exit Strategy and Harboring Resentment. It's hard to pick a favorite, because it was great to the end (I never saw an episode in three seasons I didn't like), but if pressed to, I'd pick Exit Strategy, just for two lines (no context, to avoid spoiling it for someone who hasn't seen them yet):

MICHAEL: Well Buster, looks like you're a hero after all, buddy.
GOB: Well, I'd say we're all heroes...


SADDAM HUSSEIN LOOKALIKE: Oh- my God! Please, please, come in! I'm sorry, I'm behaving like an Uday Hussein lookalike!

Those shows are really the perfect DVD material not only because they're so rewatchable, but also because of the rewards of rewatching- the endless amounts of little things you notice the third or fourth time around, sort of like The Simpsons used to be. In fact, I noticed something in that Exit Strategy episode that floored me- earlier in the season, when it was revealed that George Sr. met with Saddam Hussein (a clear jab at that Rumsfeld picture where he's shaking Saddam's hand), it was said George Sr. didn't even know it was Saddam, and thought it was "the guy that played the Soup Nazi." Well, they got the guy who DID play the Soup Nazi (Al Yeganeh) to play one of the Saddam lookalikes. You gotta love a show that'll do that.

The last episode was great too, and though it sort of tied up the plot strands, it left it loose enough where if, say, Showtime were to pick it up, they wouldn't have their hands tied. I personally totally doubt it'll get picked up, however, which blows. The last scene- where Maeby's talking to Ron Howard- was pretty cool. I actually really didn't like the Howard narration when I first started watching the show, but I thought it got a lot funnier as the series went on.

When Justine Bateman showed up in Family Ties, I started shouting "Mallory!" at the TV. Yea, I hadn't heard that she'd be on, somehow. So that was cool. She's still pretty much a fox ("you forgot to say 'away' again, but that's great... So, Lindsey, Nellie's doing great at the office, she is blowing them all away."), as she was in her heyday. She has a sort of PJ Harvey quality to her, actually. Funny as hell, too.

The biggest gut laugh though, by far- more than the Pete Rose diving into second base with the airhorn going off, more than "There's a Girl in My Soup!", more than "M: I'm not into you that way, Tobias. T: What way? M: Pick one."- the biggest gut laugh was seeing Franklin re-emerge, and noticing the sticker on his chest:


THAT is funny.


In addition to the end of AD, I ended up watching three movies over the weekend. Interestingly enough, one was boring, one was decent, and the other was really great.

I saw Kinsey and The Constant Gardner late on Saturday night, and Tombstone on Sunday afternoon.

First of all, neither of Kinsey or Tombstone was all that great to me. I was interested in Kinsey purely out of late night boredom, and Tombstone out of interest from word of mouth. I'd heard it was a cool movie.

Kinsey was a pretty de rigeur biopic movie, albeit about a very interesting man. Peter Sarsgaard was in it, which is a good thing, but Chris O'Donnell was in it too, which is a bad thing. Every time I see Chris O'Donnell's face for some reason, I am overcome with the impulse to punch his face (the TV screen). That's normal, right?

They filmed a lot of the exterior "academia" shots at Fordham University which, as a former student there, was cool to see. More visuals than another Fordham location user, Quiz Show, but nothing that saved the movie for me. He was born, he had an asshole for a dad, he was curious, he wrote about sex out of a sense of duty, the tight-wad US culture backlashed on him, he died. Also- he makes out with Peter Sarsgaard along the way. Michael should see this movie- he's met Sarsgaard and talked acting with him- the thought of him watching the movie and the awkwardness of his seeing the dude's dong would crack me up, at least.

Most of what I'd heard of Tombstone was about Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday, and how great he was. It's true, and he was really, really great. This movie is full of those really great, underrated/ underused actors- Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Biehn, Frank Stallone (heh). Not Powers Boothe though, he's fucking obnoxious. Billy Zane, too.

So yea, Kilmer was great- the pale, sweaty face. He nailed the accent, that "Southern gentleman" twang. You hear all this shit about Kilmer not getting a lot of great parts because he's "difficult," and while I can appreciate that maybe that's a euphemism for something really, really bad- but it just makes me wonder; do you want to make a good movie or not? He's fucking great in everything.

But the rest of the story was just poorly told. Everything felt rushed- I could not have cared less about the Earp/ Dana Delaney's character romance. The Gunfight at the OK Corral was pretty weak. The legit great scene though- and I'm not sure if this is something Earp is reported to have said, or if it was put in the movie, but when he says to the outlaw that he beats mercilessly, "tell 'em we're coming, and that Hell is coming with us!" it's really well done. So that's in it's favor.

The Constant Gardner was an adaptation of a John le Carre novel by the director of City of God, Fernando Meirelles. I'm both a le Carre and Meirelles fan, and while Ralph The Mafe Fiennes isn't my favorite- this was a great movie. I guess I could expand on that, but most of it would be story re-hashing and vague grasping about what little I know about what makes a movie truly great, which I'm sure you all can get in full from, say, Rex Reed.

But it was beautifully photographed, well written and conceived, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Meirelles has a distinct visual "signature," and that's something I appreciate in a director, personally. So that appealed to me.

This is the dead of the winter of baseball news and information, and for that reason most of my posts have been completely or nearly baseball-free. For that I apologize. I don't really love to get into every stupid rumor that crops up, and many moves speak for themselves. That said, nothing is going on with the team at the moment

However- today IS Truck Day. This is a decent barometer of how big a baseball fan someone is. If you ask them in January, "hey, what's 'Truck Day'," and their pupils dilate and they get a far-off look in their eyes... they're probably high. But if they respond by saying, "oh, it's the day the team sends all the gear down to the Spring Training locale," they're big baseball people.

It means that pitchers and catchers isn't far away, which means that Spring Training isn't far away, which means that baseball is on it's way. MLB Extra Innings, here I come.

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