Friday, February 27, 2009

not a sure ball

On Wednesday the Southeast Asian Games Federation decided to take basketball out of the calendar of events for this year's SEA Games to be held in Laos December 9-18.

You would think that basketball being an Olympic sport, it is a sure shot. 

What were they thinking?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Twig of a Tree

Katharine Hepburn on Spencer Tracy:

"His quality is clear and direct. Ask a question- get an answer. No pause."

Anthony Hopkins on Laurence Olivier:

"He'll put himself out on a limb. In fact, he'll put himself out on a twig of a tree."

Monday, February 23, 2009


That you have not seen all the nominees will not stop you.

animated feature- Wall-E

original screenplay- Milk

adapted screenplay- Slumdog Millionaire

foreign language film- Waltz with Bashir

cinmeatography, editing, and original score- Slumdog Millionaire

art direction and makeup- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

sound editing and visual effects- The Dark Knight

sound mixing- Wall-E

costume design- The Duchess

original song- Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire

Look out for Wall-E in original screenplay, The Class in foreign language film, The Dark Knight in sound mixing, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in visual effects.

AR Rahman might split his votes, so Wall-E could take original song. If he wins it, it will be for the song in the finale. Remember that this is the category in which Eminem, Three 6 Mafia and Jorge Drexler (Al otro lado del rio, 2004) had won in this decade.

If Slumdog Millionaire can be considered a musical, you might look at sound mixing. Previously trophies had gone to Ray and Dreamgirls, although Walk the Line did not take it (It went to King Kong).

Sean Kate Oscar

Here are the nominees in today's Academy Awards, in the order in which they could possibly win:

best picture- Slumdog Millionaire; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Milk; Frost/Nixon; The Reader

best director- Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire; David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Gus Van Sant for Milk; Stephen Daldry for The Reader; Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon

best actor- Sean Penn in Milk; Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler; Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon; Richard Jenkins in The Visitor; Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

best actress- Kate Winslet in The Reader; Meryl Streep in Doubt; Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married; Melissa Leo in Frozen River; Angelina Jolie in Changeling

best supporting actor- Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight; Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder; Josh Brolin in Milk; Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt; Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road

best supporting actress- Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis in Doubt; Amy Adams in Doubt; Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who Needs Xenophobes?

Angelina Jolie last week called on Thai authorities to respect the boat people Rohingya, a Muslim minority, escapees from Myanmar's dictatorship. The military does not acknowledge them as citizens. 

One of their reported abuses last year included having around a thousand of the Rohingya towed to the sea, left in boats with no engines. Some of them got to India and Indonesia weeks after, although they say there were a hundred others who died. 

Myanmar's consul-general to Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post that the Rohingya are as ugly as whores, and have dark brown skin, unlike the natives who have fair and soft skin.

In related news about offensive high people, Prince Harry, 24, was to be included in a diversity-and-equality course by the British army. 

Last month, a 2006 video surfaced with him using a term offensive to a Pakistani officer.

He had also mocked another cadet by the use of an epithet for those of Middle Eastern ancestry.

Last week, Stephen K. Amos, a black comedian, said that Harry last year told him he did not "sound like a black chap."

He has said his words and actions were without malice, but when you are third in line to the throne, does it even matter? Could it ever be appropriate for him, or anyone?

In 2002, Harry was sent to a rehabilitation facility after admitting to alcohol and drug use. The tabloids had a field day calling him "Harry Pothead."

In 2005, he was caught on camera waering a Nazi uniform as costume in a party, with an armband of a swastika.

Last month, he and his father Prince Charles, and brother Prince William, were said to call an Asian friend "Sooty," although he reportedly did not take offense.

I know this makes them royalty less boring, but this is too much. With officials like these, who look down on their own citizens, who needs xenophobes?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Michael Jordan leads 15 other finalists for induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles, and he was named Most Valuable Player of the Finals six times. He was first in scoring for 1 seasons, seven of them in straight seasons. He had 30.1 points per game, the highest scoring average. We could go on and on, two Olympic golds blah blah, 14-time All-Star blah blah, but all we need to say is "greatest player of all time." 

The class will be inducted April 6 in Michigan. Other finalists include David Robinson, Dennis Johnson and coach Jerry Sloan.

But the one I'd like to see elected is John Stockton, who leads all-time in assists. He was an Olympian and he was an All-Star ten times.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day of Thunderous Reply

Keith Urban was at the Daytona 500 Sunday. 

When asked what his favorite movie about racing is, he said:

"Uhhh... 'Cars?' "


Bill Russell gets the Finals MVP trophy named after him. The announcement came Saturday from commissioner David Stern.

He stayed with the Boston Celtics for 13 seasons (his entire career!), 11 of them leading to an NBA title. Eight of these 11 championships were in a consecutive run(!). He was named MVP five times and elected into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Marilyn Monroe on Clark Gable:

"Can you imagine what being kissed by him meant to me?"

Richard Burton on Elizabeth Taylor:

"She was the most astonishingly self-contained, pulchritudinous, remote, removed, inaccessible woman I had ever seen."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Go West!

Today's NBA All-Star Game is a must-see.

Shaquille O'Neal with the Jabba Wockeez was insane!

When you've got stars as good as they come, it's hard to choose between the two teams. But I'm leaning toward Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, and others.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


In's first survey of the most bankable stars, Will Smith came in first. He scored 10 out of 10 for more than 150 industry professionals.

Smith has established control of the Fourth of July weekend at the box office, including his most recent hit, Hancock. His latest movie had a lot of negative reviews, yet it reached $70 million in US theaters. That's star power for you, and little for the critics.

Tied in second place are: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Others on the list are: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Jack Nicholson.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Run It

Chris Brown may win an NAACP Image Award today. Which is ironic given the reported incident he has found himself in.

He is nominated for outstanding male artist, a category he won last year.

Rihanna is in the running for outstanding female artist.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

See Me Kiss Goodbye

Molly Bee, a former teen country singer, died Saturday of complications after a stroke. She was 69.

She became famous when she was 13 for her hit "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1952)." 

Dark Knight

At the British Academy Awards Sunday:

"It is a nerve-racking experience.... Inside I'm shaking like Christian Bale's PA."

- Jonathan Ross on being the host 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Swagga Like Them

The Grammys were such a blast! I had a really good time.

Coldplay and Radiohead were amazing beyond belief. 

And what about Katy Perry strutting onstage with "I Kissed a Girl."

But nothing tops the performance of "Swagga Like Us" by the dream cast of Kanye West, T.I., Li'l Wayne and Jay-Z. First time together, on any stage. With M.I.A. due to give birth! Unbelievable.

Monday, February 9, 2009

American Queens

Humphrey Bogart on Katharine Hepburn:

"She does pretty much as she goddamn pleases. You never pull up a chair for Kate. You tell her, 'Kate, pull me up a chair, willya, and while you're at it get one for yourself.' "

Laurence Olivier on Marilyn Monroe:

" She was so adorable, so witty, such incredible fun and more physically attractive than anyone I could have imagined apart from herself on the screen."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Viva El Coldplay

Who I think will win at the Grammys tomorrow:

Record of The Year: Please Read The Letter by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Album of The Year: In Rainbows by Radiohead

Song of the Year: Viva La Vida by Coldplay

Best New Artist: Adele

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This Way

"They Went Thataway" (1994, Mercury House) by the National Society of Film Critics is that densest of books- offering page by page informed critical opinions of the highest order in engaging writing styles. 

Here's Jonathan Rosenbaum (right) on Fatal Attraction: "Some other critics have compared this picture to a Hitchcock thriller. But while the Master of Suspense was certainly capable of working with an audience's guilty feelings about illicit sex to generate tension, he always gave this tension a moral weight and a certain amount of moral ambiguity." 

And Kenneth Turan on Reservoir Dogs: "...Quentin Tarantino has arrived, in your face and on the screen. His brash debut film... is as much a calling card as a movie, an audacious high-wire act announcing that he is here and to be reckoned with. Strong violence is (his) passion and he embraces it with gleeful, almost religious fervor. An energetic macho stunt, (it) glories in its excess of blood and profanity, delighting- in classic Grand Guignol fashion- in going as far over the top as the man's imagination will take it. Tarantino does have the filmmaking flair to go along with his zeal."

Its editor Richard T. Jameson demonstrates the nature of genre and our awareness of it, and tells us about its mutations and cross-pollinations.

In his introduction, "The Repeatable Experience, " Stephen Schiff relates the explosion of genre to the rise of genre spoof and the recombinant genre. He also shows what a true film noir is, and differentiates genre from trend.

In "On Mob Rule," Carrie Rickey traces the history of the gangster movie, noting the mythologization of the three types of heroes: the cop, the cowboy, and the gangster.

On the other hand, J. Hoberman reflects on the sacredness of the Western in American mythology, recognizing its truths and totems, in "On How the Western Was Lost."

Peter Keough's "On Women, Films, and the Women's Film" is a meditation on the stock images of the woman in cinema. He examines the gap between actresses of the old and now, and the reduction of their roles into the delimited and the dehumanized.

Meanwhile, Dave Kehr touts a filmmaker's sensibility that goes with an adaptation. He cites Tim Burton's Batman Returns as an accomplished example of such personalization. 

The Society treats us with choices both obvious ( Roxanne, The Grifters, Raising Arizona) and unexpected (Angels Hard as They Come!).

Prominent critics give us their take on some of the most important movies: David Ansen on Aliens; Roger Ebert on The Big Red One; Andrew Sarris on Groundhog Day; Owen Gleiberman on The Silence of the Lambs; and Michael Sragow on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, among others.

There are also tributes to some of the most distinguished directors. For example, Kehr on Anthony Mann, and Michael Wilmington on Howard Hawks. 

Moreover, there are separate sections on the director and the star as genres in themselves. Different critics interrogate different Woody Allen movies, and Jay Carr attempts to explain why contemporary stars like Glenn Close don't hold a candle to supernovas of old like Katharine Hepburn. 

Try Richard Schickel on Crimes and Misdemeanors: "Allen is suggesting that if the deity himself is not dead, then he must be suffering from severely impaired vision."

Or Richard Corliss on Spike Lee and Malcolm X: "... he sees so much riding on each of his films: the future of cinema, precious testimony from an African-American perspective, and, not least, the reputation- carefully nourished, always vulnerable- of Spike Lee.... Some other director will have to find a way to merge the danger of a brilliant, racist orator with the seismic jolt of energized filmmaking."

Or David Denby on Body of Evidence: " Does (it) make it as a trash classic, a howl for the ages? No. Edel doesn't have enough fantasy and warmth to make enjoyable trash. The only dream here is Madonna's- that men will become so aroused by her they will begin dropping dead all over the place."

Along the way, we see what thespians such as Frank Langella, Virginia Madsen and Terry O'Quinn had been working on 10, 20 years ago.

The book ends with a list of movies considered genre classics, citing more recent fare along with easier picks: swashbucklers and epics (The Right Stuff), biopics (The Elephant Man), and political films (The Great McGinty, Hail the Conquering Hero) among them.

Other contributors include Bruce Williamson, Gary Arnold, Morris Dickstein, Julie Salamon, Andy Klein, Henry Sheehan and Kevin Thomas.

All told, "They Went Thataway" does not aim to be the last word on movies, but it certainly points the way to a lively discussion within the community- critics, filmmakers, moviegoers, and readers. 

The book, just like the society, is as good as it gets.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The producers of the TV show American Idol apologized Thursday for misinterpreting a contestant in Louisville, Kentucky.

After failing his audition, Mark Mudd said: "Take care and be careful."

Paula Abdul told him, "You don't say that to people.... That's just not a normal thing to say."

Apparently it is an expression in the region, one of parting.

The producers say they had been surprised because the expression had not been heard before from other contestants. "We now know better and look forward to visiting Louisville again someday."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Work Done

From the Screen Actors Guild Awards last week:

"It's great fun. You see who's had work done. You see what thespians are aging, who aren't. We just stopped around the corner for a Starbucks, and half the people are in their limos at Starbucks just circling because no one wants to arrive too early." -Tracey Ullman


"One of the great powers of the union - any union - is the ability to strike, and I support them." -Holly Hunter

"It's surreal. I mean, walking down the red carpet today, I see people who have been winning Oscars since before I even contemplated being an actor. She was like my first love, Kate Winslet. And she knew who I was." -Dev Patel

Also from the SAG Awards last week.