Monday, July 20, 2009
Oh sure, the dream factory depends on the willing suspension of disbelief, but must that disbelief be the crucial factor in following the story.
True writing is the least essential element in making any picture or television show, but even if you believe that shouldn’t the words have some meaning?
Why then do producers, directors, writers and casting directors insist on casting actors with no noticeable boobs in parts which according to the script would seem to require the presence of boobs? Case in point a recent HawthoRNe, Jada Pinkett Smith and Suleka Mathew are fine performers, but when it comes to boobs, not so much as a goose bump shows its head. So why then does the script have them say, (Hawthorne to Bobby) “Wear the blue dress, it makes your boobs look big.” (Bobby replies), “My boobs are big.”
If that line is an essential element of the script why not cast an actress who actually has boobs? Oh sure, in the Golden days of the studio system Spencer Tracy could act unshaven, but not taller. How then can the writer live with that line? And this isn’t the only case. No, some of the biggest stars, but tiniest bosoms in Hollywood have uttered similar lines. There’s Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, “They’re called boobs, Ed.” Yeah, where? I guess if you haven’t seen the real Erin Brockovich this might work, but if a six foot tall, blonde with a full D-cup leans over the counter and lets you see all the way through to the looking glass you’re gonna be pretty sure it isn’t Julia Roberts. And of course there’s Reese Witherspoon, tiresome at best, in Legally Blonde she says, “Is it because I’m blonde and have big boobs?” Only in a script could Reese make such a claim. Any other venue would see her arrested for false advertising or making inflated claims.
And just for the truly and deeply offended, I am not suggesting that boobs or cleavage are an essential part of any actor’s equipment. Talent and a burning desire to act are the two most necessary ingredients, if an actress, and yes to all of the Grammarians, I am aware that the trend is to use actors for both sexes, but actors do not have boobs, happens to be well endowed and can act, so much the better. No one today does elegant, sly, sensuality better than Catherine Bell. She does have exceptional blessings, but somehow that never impacts her roles. As Cassie, the good witch, her twinkling eyes and subtle smile do more to make magic than watching her breathe.
In fact if I were to name an endowment which makes an actor more appealing, I’d choose…an overbite. I guess I was influenced by Abby Dalton at a tender age and have never fully recovered. Valerie Cruz, the delicious Sonya Walger and the versatile Joanne Kelly, really she played the vampire Bianca in The Dresden Files as a forty year old and now she’s a twenty something agent in Warehouse 13, that’s quite a range for someone who happens to be twenty-something, these actors all have a serious overbite and manage to look, probably best I don’t say, there might be children listening.
Maybe, I’ll keep my opinions to myself and hope that Hollyweird does the same.
Friday, June 5, 2009
of a life's so secret sins
a penitent's path
crossed that of Artemis
the huntress gold and gleaming
with the sheen of runner's sweat
passed by and left
when the Gods descend and hide in humankind
they come in common clothes
so jogger bra and Lycra shorts
should hold no mystery
but why the pilgrim puzzled
from her golden waist
a four inch lavalier, turquoise
danced dangling in her
pierced belly button
What grown up could imagine themselves in a dirty bikini, thousands of miles from civilization, in some hellhole, jiggling and sweating for the cameras? Men without razors in filthy shorts exposing knees which should be a felony and all the while scheming to strike a deal with the others of their like and sell out the rest of the tribe. Yeah, that’s adult programming. Even the names spell out the target demographic, Desperate Housewives isn’t for men only and Two and a Half Men or How I Met Your Mother certainly won’t capture an adult’s attention,
And when by accident something makes the air with a slightly more adult view it has to be dumbed down so that the audience won’t catch on it’s not for children.
Case in point, Bones, based on the novels of Kathy Reich, truly adult fair and full of fun, murder, mayhem and mystery, these tense forensic investigations have been reduced to a comic book. Temperance Brennan once a brilliant scientist is now a woman so dull that she cannot respond in a human fashion to even the most blatant suggestive dialogue.
One of the delights of the novels of Dr. Reich is her Temperance has hormones. This is a flesh and blood woman with enough sexual drive to match her intellect. The television would have us believe that someone gifted enough to achieve a doctorate cannot manage even basic social skills like not shocking the family of a deceased person by blurting out some insensitive bit of information. That would come in handy with the degree committee!
Even when Bones does notice she being seduced, she analyzes each heaving breath, correlates all of the physical data and reduces the mysteries of human love to a social myth.
Now I admit I want my way with Dr Brennan, all readers do, we want the writer to scan our brains and make the story end like we want it to. And Tempe really should wind up with Andrew Ryan.
So when Dr Reich sells the film rights and makes an adult version of this story, think about casting Rebecca Demornay as Temperance. I can’t really offer much help with the Ryan character, he’s a guy and being a guy I don’t really care what the guy looks like. It’s an anthropological thing, just like Bones says…
Friday, May 29, 2009
Where are the programs which just might do some good, tell a Walmart worker graveling for seven dollars an hour how to get out from under a lifetime of worry and stress by lifting their social situation to that of abject poverty instead of wage slavery? There aren’t any.
That is because the talking heads and the financial pundits believe poor people deserve what they get. Any fool knows that with hard work and education a person may achieve his dreams? Really, tell that to the folks wiped-out in the Katrina disaster or by Bernie Madoff’s dealing, what about the thousands waiting to see if their pension will go the way of the Nortel pension program? Can a union worker destroyed by GM find happiness on Dr. Phil?
If hard work and education were the universal solution then there would be no homeless. Just get those poor, ignorant, oafs on their feet and give them a broom and send them out to sweep the streets clean for God, Country and the American way.
Education at least what we call education in this country is a system of regimented popularity contests measured by tests and recall which have little to do with anything which might make for a sound employment future. It is more important to a potential employer that a person be a socialized drone which they call a team player than it is to have a brilliant idea every now and then. After all ideas are expensive, they take research, development and product testing, when sticking with the same old thing takes nothing, but workers more concerned about making the rent than about advancement. Is that why GM kept making cars no one would buy when the writing on the wall was clear to all? The Suburban is a fine vehicle and the men and women who make it should be proud, but it isn’t practical in a time when someone else controls all the oil!
We have alienated our minorities by excluding them from the white, upper class, male seniority system. Blacks are so despondent they have given up all pretense of assimilating into the culture, they now speak a separate language, live by a separate moral code and strive for the shallowest of rewards while the news readers wonder why?
Women have become so cynical and angry they have abandoned the two gender system in favor of a single sex model. And can we blame them? We don’t pay them as much, we don’t value them as much and we don’t offer them as much and when they insist on achieving anyway we call them bitch.
What about Latinos? They don’t trust us enough to share our language and they feel that by doing so they endanger their own cultural heritage? And why not? We have created a fourth race, Hispanics. Now anthropologically there are only three races and when Latinos were shifted out of the Caucasian and in to their own must have come a big shock to Darwin.
Asians hold most of the advanced degrees and yet many live in abject poverty, having taken the bottom of the crime scene away from the Latinos much as they did from the blacks and the Italians before them.
Education cannot answer all of the needs of the under class. It takes too long, it fails to recognize real talent in favor of real toadying and it costs too much. It is hardly surprising that a ghetto kid will choose a BMW over a four year degree every time.
Hard work, like the Native Americans have spent the last century doing in the skies of New York and all of the other large cities? Some reward for the land we stole from them. No, all of the hard work and dedication to their culture didn’t do squat for their cause, it took casino gambling. That’s right; Sitting Bull’s revenge wasn’t Custer, but all of the Native American casinos sucking down the dollars made by the whites. And it was long overdue.
Country singers, even though they fit the profile of the over class, seem to get it right, where are the jobs? Where are the veterans and the promises made when the kids were signing up to fight a war which didn’t need fighting? Where were politicians doing right by all of the people?
No, I don’t think they have it right on every topic, just some and they should be heard because they are speaking for all those Walmart slaves. And remember slaves have been freed. Freed like the blacks after the Civil war, freed to struggle and starve and lose hope and dreams while lesser men watch.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
while all around
their castles crumble
in Alexandria and Athens
on the pleasures
of a day
a stick, a twig
a hank of hair
yet screams and death
without a thought or care
these learned few
the shadowed ones
where Ceasar fell
and mimic mighty deeds
The sun is high in the sky and the days are long, kids are out of school and people are gassing up their cars for Memorial Day, can the summer of dreadful remakes be far behind?
We’ve seen remakes every summer for a dozen years, its what passes for creativity in this age without the studios. Oh I know, The Studios were horrible, creativity stifling monsters and all they ever did was hold back talent and push box office receipts at the expense of art…excuse me ART.
Probably why we have Weekend at Bernie’s II and Ocean’s Eleven and they had, Citizen Kane,
They were, Howard Hawks quest to tell the same story, a lone man facing overwhelming odds, without any support and finding a way to win. And they were all good. Now there are good sequels the Die Hard series features three and the James Bond series has the Daniel Craig entries, we’ll skip right over the George Lanzenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan mistakes, and way back in the dawn of time before he became an ARTIST and a racist Mel Gibson and Danny Glover made three good sequels.
But when it comes to remakes we aren’t so favored: The Wild, Wild West had potential, Kenneth Branagh’s Dr. Loveless was magically over the top, Maverick managed to find the spirit of the original in spite of Mel Gibson, (Jodie Foster and James Garner might have had something to do with it.), and Steve Martin’s Roxanne, filmed before he started over-reaching his talent, (Really Steve, Clifton Webb maybe, but Tracy? Don’t be silly. And who couldn’t manage to be heroic if the prize was Daryl Hannah?), but the rest…pitiful. pitiful, pitiful.
The original Ocean’s Eleven was a joy to watch with a MacgGuffin that made the two hours of Dean, Sammy, Joey. Peter and Frank even better, The Avengers, one of the most stylish programs ever to air was reduced to drivel and had to lean on the powers of Sean the Magnificent to try and pull it out of the muck, and the prospect of John Travolta trying to match Robert Shaw’s under-played masterpiece is chilling. (Fortunately John won’t be alone, Keanu Reeves stepped into Michael Rennie’s shoes and stumbled through a remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still.)
Why do good actors go so wrong? They have no direction, no guidance and no backstop. Now in some cases, George Clooney, the actor can manage his won career selecting projects which are both entertaining and satisfying, but not all of the time Ocean’s Eleven wasn’t the worst of a bad lot but it missed the joke. Why introduce Bruce Willis as himself and not use that as a MacGuffin? Because no one really understood the original Ocean’s, it’s okay Frank you’re still the Chairman of the Board.
And the truth of it is you can make a good remake. If you love the material, respect the source and cast carefully.
You have to love the material. You can’t disrespect the original and expect the good folks who know the story to come and clap. Maybe Dashiell Hammet isn’t undying literature, (I completely disagree), but you can bet your sweet ass there are people who think so.
You have to respect the source. I know all of the English instructors groan every time they hear, “Where no man has gone before”, get over it grammarian. There are two things we know about Star Trek and they’ve been repeated since the very first moment Gene Roddenberry invited us into his universe, “These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise”, and Vulcans are the good guys. Wanna know why
And finally you have to cast carefully. I know that Murphy is a blond. Com-on, The Dresden Files, I can’t make an argument if you don’t try to keep up, but Valerie Cruz did such a great job I have to admit it takes a coupla paragraphs to shake the Latina out of Murphy’s style. However, Paul Blackthorne as Harry and Terrance Mann as Bob the skull will be with me forever. They fit Jim Butcher’s descriptions to a T. And what about
And just in case you think I’ve given up hope, you’re wrong. In the long film history of
And what about the Maltese Falcon, you know that the Bogie/Houston version was number three? Sure Bogie is Sam Spade and you can only be as heroic as your villain permits and with Sidney Greenstreet as Caspar Gutman you could be pretty heroic. (Greestreet plays Gutman with such style that
And the remake champion of all time, The Prisoner of Zenda. It’s been remade so many times I’ve lost count, there’s the Thirties version with a perfectly heroic Ronald Coleman, a young David Niven, a dashing Sir Doug, a loathsome Raymond Massey, Mary Astor as the Girl and the most stalwart of companions, C Aubrey Smith, damn which way to the battlements we can take it with one more charge! Then there’s the Stewart Granger lace shirt remake, the Peter Sellers confused and dazed remake, the two prequels to the Coleman version and a handful of semi-remakes like Moon Over Parador and Dave.
Remakes can be done with style and verve so long as the maker treats them with complete respect. George Clooney, are you listening, instead of making bad Ocean’s films why not do a remake right? Do It Takes A Thief, you’re the closest thing we have to Cary Grant or how about Banacek, the turtle-necked Polish vulture could use another go ‘round even with Tim Hutton’s Leverage stealing some of its thunder.
The Studio System knew when a property was hot enough to stand a remake. It’s time some of our auteurs found their way to discriminating between inspired imitation and cloned creativity
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Was this because of the owner, the wins, the fans, the history, the legends or was it because of all of its assets, the New York Yankees had Babe Ruth.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
their naked bodies
the neon fires
a trembled by
the terrors huddled
dashing there and here
they tie away
the mustangs wild
who's chrome and wax
reflect the rites
and stardust mingle
ride the moonbeams
'til the cock's crow call
when all things of the night
and in a twinkling
turn to savages
sin soaked and sweating
the paparazzi's amber