Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hooray for Hollywood...

For many years, prior to starting the, I would send around movie reviews to my friends upon seeing some of the hot movies of the day. While mostly tongue-in-cheek, I occasionally delved into more serious reviews, and even engaged Ty Burr of the Boston Globe in an email discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of “Children of Men” and “The Shooter” (in a nutshell, I hated the former, and loved the latter); but, I don’t see movies nearly as much as I used to. Having grown up in a house with General Cinema corporate employees, I had the benefit of getting to see many movies for free; now that I’ve had to pay since 2003, my viewing habits have been curbed significantly. Movies priced over $10.00 really puts a damper on my movie attendance.

However, still, one guilty pleasure for me is viewing the Oscar telecast (I mostly feel guilty for wasting several hours that I will never get back). This year, I only saw two of the nominated movies, but watching this vapid show, with all the self-important pomp, borders on the ridiculous, without any sublime. The red carpet pre-show is a pathetic attempt to ramp-up interest; I was only interested in seeing whether Nick Nolte would win, and if he would pass out while mumbling through his acceptance speech. Did anyone know he was in a movie, let alone nominated? Either he’s lost it entirely, or working on a three-day bender…either way, he was the must-see TV.

I was posting some stream of consciousness observations on Facebook during the broadcast. Here are some random thoughts as I rewind the movie reels of my mind…

Billy Crystal’s day has come and gone, in more ways than one. He’s bloated, both in ego and appearance. Since he was begged to come back as a last-minute fill-in for Eddie Murphy (if you call December “last minute”), he came off as cocky, and appeared to be mailing it in. I’m sure he’s laughing all the way to the bank and cashing a big check, but he just downright sucked. His act has gotten stale…I say let Nick Nolte host next year.

Tom Hanks is fantastic...he's today's Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart, and Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis (thanks Dave for the Lemmon and Curtis comparison).

Is anyone’s act getting older than Sasha Baron Cohen’s? “Borat” was funny for it’s shock value, but he’s a one-trick pony and his weak attempt at being cutting edge only solidified my disdain for him.

Glenn Close? Get me “Glenn Far-Away”. She looked more like Glen Campbell.

Also unfunny (besides me)-Robert Downey, Jr….I would have preferred Morton Downey, Jr.
How about Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis? When will Ferrell’s career end? When will he get funny? Not necessarily in that order…

J-Lo and her wardrobe malfunction-not titillating in the least.

Angelina Jolie is looking more and more like her father each day. Soon, Brad will wake up and think, “damn, I’m banging ‘Joe Buck’, and I don’t mean the baseball announcer, though she has great legs”. I’m not a fan of Brangelina. She’s an anorexic ghost and he’s looking a lot like “Shaggy” from “Scooby Doo” these days.

The “Bridesmaids”? Penis jokes, really? And unfunny ones. Is this what the Oscars have come to?

Woody Allen won, but didn’t attend. Must be hanging out with his buddy Roman Polanski.

Oprah and Meryl on-stage at the same time. A black hole created by their overwhelming sense of self-importance. I am surprised the stage didn’t collapse from the weight of their collective egos.

I just want to be clear…Meryl Streep is a fraud. She must have pictures of every Academy member doing things with farm animals…there is no explanation for her and the adulation thrust upon her. She shows up with “bed head” and wearing a frock, and looks like she couldn’t care less. I’ll give her “Sophie’s Choice” and maybe even “Kramer vs. Kramer”, but she had no business being nominated for something that barely arose to being a fair impersonation of Margaret Thatcher. The movie was nominated for nothing other than Meryl in make-up. She should be playing Vegas with Dame Edna, not getting an Oscar. I don’t get it, and I don’t get her. I’d like to see the pictures...I don’t know with whom she’s slept, but she slipped them all roofies...

As an aside, I will respect her for her dedication to John Cazale, her former boyfriend and one of the greatest and most under-appreciated actors ever. Starred in 5 movies, with 3 winning the Best Picture award, and the other two nominated for it (Godfather, The Conversation, Godfather 2, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter). No one can claim that they only starred in 5 nominated movies…neither can he now, because he died way too young from bone cancer at 37, after the filming of “The Deer Hunter”.

In sum, the celebration of the wonders of the movies made me realize how disconnected Hollywood is from reality. Like most of the people in that room, the show was bloated with filler.

Lastly, I recently subscribed to Netflix for a free month to test their streaming video service. Since my kids control the TV, I needed a diversion from “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Shake it Up”. I had the pleasure of watching a fine piece of film…Michael Caine in “Harry Brown”. This was an underplayed and under-appreciated film, probably spent a total of a week in independent theatres in Omaha. Nonetheless, it got pretty good reviews (three thumbs up by Ebert), and I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon it.

“Harry Brown” is a cross between “Death Wish” and “Gran Torino”. This is a story about a man who cannot bear to see what has happened to his neighborhood, who has nothing else to lose, but who may not be physically or mentally capable of doing anything about it. The police certainly cannot, and Harry finds himself seeking to regain some minimal control in a society that is so recklessly out of control. The movie smolders with intensity, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I give it a strong recommendation.

Until next time America…what’s it all about, Alfie?