Sunday, February 28, 2010

Community college

Well, the University of Georgia seems to be the go-to fashion choice for celebs these days. Here are some castmembers of NBC's "Community" chillin' in New Orleans - and one Mr. Donald Glover represents.

Glover, a former writer for "30 Rock," was born and raised in Stone Mountain - and I'll assume he left the show before it painted the predominately black city as a whitebread, rube-filled redneck paradise in a recent episode. Either way, it's nice to see he still recognizes his roots.

(Here's Glover talking Atlanta up in a recent Craig Ferguson appearance.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grambling addiction

In December '08, the UGAniverse began buzzing about the apparent induction of a new fan: Mr. Marvin's Room himself, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Sadly, the truth slapped us upside - it was, in fact, a Grambling cap. Same logo, different color scheme.

Well, just over a year later, Mr. Critters 3 has realized his mistake. C'mon Fun Police, take this one from us!

Tip o' the hat: Mirabella

Moral of the story? Grambling gets you the kid from Witness, while UGA gets you whoever she is. Winner, Jaw'ja.

Thank you for setting it straight, Mr. Quick and the Dead.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Big brother

Well, this was certainly a welcome e-mail.

Of course, my followers will continue reading about what they always have: my charitable work, non-denominational church events, rock-solid family life, and obsessive dedication to my job.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The 50 Best Movies of the 2000s

Nine years into the century, the decade has ended.

While many of my friends celebrated a new millennium in January 2000, I remained a stickler. You all know the argument - due to the lack of a Year Zero, the 21st century and new millennium didn't begin until 2001. A decade, however, is a different story.

Ten years equals a decade. Any 10 years, really. 1984-1993 is a decade. 1633-1642, a decade. 1702-1711, likewise. We obviously break ours down fairly easily: the '80s, the '90s, the '00s. (Isn't it weird we never really came up with a universal name for this one? How will VH1 cope in 20 years?). So I have no problem calling this list The 50 Best Movies of the Decade.

Now are these the absolute supreme examples of filmmaking from the past 10 years? Maybe, who knows. I just know they're my 50 favorites. There are some titles that'll make you nod, some that'll make you scoff, some that'll make you think I'm kidding. But I'm not - they're simply the films I'm most likely to remember, most likely to revisit.

(And about ten seconds after I hit "post," I'll want to rearrange the entire thing).

1) The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007) "I honestly believe I'm destined for great things, Mr. James. I've got qualities that don't come shining through right at the outset, but give me a chance and I'll get the job done."

2) Mulholland Dr. (2001) "Now you will see me one more time, if you do good. You will see me two more times, if you do bad."

3) Children of Men (2006) "As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children's voices."

4) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) "I don't think you're an asshole, Royal. I just think you're kind of a son of a bitch."

5) Wonder Boys (2000) "Now that is a big trunk. It holds a tuba, a suitcase, a dead dog, and a garment bag almost perfectly."

6) Michael Clayton (2007) "I am Shiva, the god of death."

7) Kill Bill Vol. I (2003) "It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that I'm sorry. But you can take my word for it, your mother had it comin'. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waitin'."

8) Inglourious Basterds (2009) "When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps."

9) A History of Violence (2005) "I saw you turn into Joey right before my eyes. I saw a killer, the one Fogarty warned me about. You did kill men back in Philly, didn't you? Did you do it for money? Or did you do it because you enjoyed it?"

10) The Departed (2006) "I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me."

11) In Bruges (2008) "Don't know any Belgium jokes, and if I did I think I'd have the good sense not to - hang on. Is Belgium with all those child abuse murders lately? I do know a Belgium joke. What's Belgium famous for? Chocolates and child abuse, and they only invented the chocolates to get to the kids."

12) Rocky Balboa (2006) "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward."

13) You Can Count On Me (2000) "I just want to get out of this town. And if you've got any sense when you get old enough you'll get out of here too. Your Mom's gonna live in this town for the rest of her life, and you know why? Because she thinks she has to."

14) The Aviator (2004) "I don't want them bribed, Jack. I want this done legal. I want them bought."

15) The Incredibles (2004) "Remember the bad guys on the shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings? Well, these guys aren't like those guys. They won't exercise restraint because you are children. They will kill you if they get the chance. Do not give them that chance."

16) Rambo (2008) "You know what you are. What you're made of. War is in your blood. Don't fight it. You didn't kill for your country. You killed for yourself. God's never gonna make that go away. When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing."

17) Signs (2002) "There are a lot of things I can take, and some things I can't. But what I can't take is when my older brother, who's everything that I want to be, starts losing faith in things. I saw that look in your eyes last night. I don't ever want to see that look in your eyes again."

18) Best In Show (2000) "Look at Scott! He is prancing along with the dog! Man, I tell you something, if you live in my neighborhood and you're dressed like that, you'd better be a hotel doorman."

19) Catch Me If You Can (2002) "Your son has been pretending to be a substitute teacher, lecturing the students, uh, giving out homework. Mrs. Glasser has been ill, there was some confusion with the real sub. Your son held a teacher-parent conference yesterday and was planning a class field trip to a French bread factory in Trenton."

20) The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) "All you got to do is use your instincts. How do you think a lion knows to tackle a gazelle? It's written, it's a code written in his DNA, says, 'Tackle the gazelle.' And believe it or not, in every man there's a code written that says, 'Tackle drunk bitches.'"

21) Shattered Glass (2003) "He handed us fiction after fiction, and we printed them all as fact. Just because we found him entertaining."

22) There Will Be Blood (2007) "Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry, I'm so sorry. If, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw - there it is, that's the straw, you see, you watching? My straw reaches across the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I. Drink. Your. Milkshake! I drink it up!"

23) Vanilla Sky (2001) "With all the possible respect I can offer a man wearing a latex mask and spouting conspiracy theories, David, believe me, you've crossed that bridge."

24) Dawn of the Dead (2004) "Not to shit on anyone's riff here, but let me just see if I grasp this concept, ok? You're suggesting that we take some fucking parking shuttles, and reinforce them with some aluminum siding, and then just head on over to the gun store and watch our good friend Andy play some cowboy movie jump-on-the-covered-wagon bullshit. Then, we're gonna drive across a ruined city, through a welcome committee of a few hundred thousand dead cannibals, all so that we can sail off into the sunset on this fucking asshole's boat?"

25) Man on Fire (2004) "A man can be an artist at anything, food or whatever if you’re good enough at it. Creasy's art is death, and he's about to paint his masterpiece."

The next 25 (in alphabetical order): American Psycho, Amores Perros, Apocalypto, Bad Santa, Brokeback Mountain, Collateral, Casino Royale, Cast Away, City of God, Eastern Promises, The Fellowship of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings**, Ghost World, The Host, Identity, The Kingdom, Lord of War, Munich, O Brother Where Art Thou, Once, Open Range, Role Models, Shaun of the Dead, Tropic Thunder, We Own the Night, The Wrestler

** In the comments, I've been informed this title is ordered incorrectly. However, I will not edit it, and view my mistake as a point of pride.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Quarter Back: January 1985

Quarter Back is a monthly feature looking back at the movies of 25 years ago. One movie will be watched for the first time, one will be revisited.

Where the hell did January go?

Well, I have an excuse for this post showing up a few days late - this new 46-inch monstrosity, combined with my desire to rewatch "Lost" in its entirety before Tuesday's premiere (I failed, still mired in the Nikki/Paolo days of Season 3).

Really, though, I should have torn myself away and watched Tuff Turf in time. There's no justification for ignoring the classics.

Featured Movies

Tuff Turf
Seen it before?: No.
Release date: January 11, 1985
Actors: James Spader, Kim Richards, Robert Downey, Jr.
Director: Fritz Kiersch (Children of the Corn, Gor)
Box office: $9.4 million (#89 in 1985)

"Meet Morgan Hiller. He's always been a rebel. Now, he's about to become a hero." To which I say, meet Morgan Hiller. He's always been an asshole. Now, inexplicable comma, he's about to be beat up by other assholes.

This 1985 gem stars James Spader, just before he would become the Bill Zabka of the late '80s, infecting his sleazy, yuppie, Andrew McCarthy-hating charm in Pretty in Pink, Mannequin and Less Than Zero. Oddly enough, though, each one of those characters was more likable than the supposed "hero" of this movie.

He's a tough guy! He wears sunglasses in school! He treats his legitimately caring parents like crap! The teachers just don't understand why he doesn't get their vibe! He's got a totally bitchin' 10-speed!

And the movie thinks we don't want to see this guy punched in the face.

Anyway, a seemingly long story short: Spader is the new kid in school, gets on the bad side of the lamest, whitest gang in movie history, falls for the gangleader's gal, gets kicked and punched, and befriends a drummer played by Robert Downey, Jr. Yes, Downey, Jr. in his Back to School/"Saturday Night Live" days, showing zero of the Undeniable Awesome that's made him a star today.

Kids, rent this and make fun of your parents for once thinking it was cool. Grade: C-

Blood Simple
Seen it before?: Well, I thought I had. But I didn't remember a thing.
Release date: January 18, 1985
Actors: M. Emmet Walsh, Frances McDormand, John Getz
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen (Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski)
Box office: $2.2 million (#138 in 1985)

Blood Simple would probably be a forgotten piece of '80s noir, but it lives on due to the braintrust behind it. Twenty-five years later, Joel and Ethan Coen have eight Oscars between them, and a filmography of classics both cult and mainstream. But it all started here, in a now recognizable world of small-town murder and deceit.

Describing the plot does the film a disservice, but some Coen mainstays are already present: hit men, violence by way of confusion, Frances McDormand, gunplay in empty fields, the occasional flash of gore. Really, this seems like a batting cage warm-up prior to the World Series of Fargo.

It doesn't have the slickness of the Coens' later efforts, and the film pulls up a little lame with a charisma-free leading man (Getz, long before the Coens could pull the George Clooneys and Tommy Lee Joneses of the world). But as low-budget debuts go, it's an extraordinary effort, and certainly fascinating as a slice of movie history. Grade: B+

Other films 25 years old this month:

Avenging Angel - In 1984's Angel, Donna Wilkes played the title character, a high school honor student by day, streetwise hooker at night. Totally awesome, obviously. Well now it's a year later, and Angel has some avengin' to do. In a recasting on par with George Lazenby stepping in for Sean Connery, Private School's Betsy Russell wears Angel's high heels this time. And the results, I'm assuming having never seen a second of this, are no less spectacular. Amazingly, two more Angel sequels (straight-to-video, natch) would follow, with a different actress each time.

The Falcon and the Snowman - Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton try to out-brood each other in this true story about All-American boys who wind up Soviet spies. (It goes without saying Penn hired the guy his character was based on, once he had been released from prison. No, really.)

Fandango - Kevin Costner emerged as a viable movie star in 1985. Of course, it had little to do with this or August's American Flyers (grossing less than $2 million combined), and more to do with his star-making turn in Silverado. Judd Nelson joins Costner in this one, and would go on to have a great year with The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire.

Here Come the Littles - Remember those creepy hare-lipped gophers who had their own Saturday morning cartoon? Yeah, there's a movie. Who knew.

The New Kids - January 1985 was apparently James Spader Month. In this pseudo-horror flick, he terrorizes innocent high schoolers in a theme park. See, it's the flip side of the Tuff Turf coin - the dickhead terrorizee is now the dickhead terrorizer! What range! The silver lining: one of the teens is Lori Loughlin, who obviously made a deal with the devil to stay as stupid hot 25 years later.

The Perils of Gwendolyn in the Land of Yik Yak - Silly me. When I typed the title - which I'd never heard before - I assumed this was some cheapo, cheesy, Don Bluthish kiddie cartoon about a girl who runs through a gumdrop forest and fights a mean witch on her way to spend the holidays with Grandma. Nope, BOOBFEST. Tawny Kitaen, only a year after Bachelor Party, flaunts her wares throughout this - seriously - R-rated Indiana Jones ripoff. Praise be to Netflix for having this movie (now renamed simply Gwendolyn) in stock. I'll be in my room.

That's Dancing! - In the days before Netflix, Youtube or even VHS, studios would occasionally release a glorified clipshow to theaters. Basically, you'd have a few hosts - Gene Kelly and Liza Minnelli this time, among others - presenting bits from the "golden age" of Hollywood. This one, following 1974's That's Entertainment! and 1976's That's Entertainment Part II, exclusively focused on dance numbers. As proof this wouldn't work today, the $30 million gross of the first That's Entertainment was followed by only $280,000 in ticket sales for 1994's That's Entertainment III.

Tomboy - Betsy Russell is back, giving Spader a run for his overexposed money. Two weeks after avenging as Angel, Russell is a mechanic who yearns to prove she's not just a pretty face. Part of that plan, apparently, includes showing us her jibblies. Sadly, Netflix has let me down this time. (Kudos to Russell, though, for still being hot and getting work in a few of the Saw movies).

Quarter Back: December 1984
Quarter Back: November 1984
Quarter Back: October 1984
Quarter Back: September 1984
Quarter Back: August 1984
Quarter Back: July 1984
Quarter Back: June 1984
Quarter Back: May 1984
Quarter Back: April 1984