Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit

We interrupt the countdown to bring you this video I found:

Countdown: The 10 Greatest TV Seasons of All Time - #10

10. Twin Peaks - Season 1 - The rise and fall of Twin Peaks has been dissected ad nauseum and I agree with the general consensus that the show began brilliantly only to run out of steam halfway through season 2 after Laura Palmer's killer is revealed.  Everything that made Twin Peaks so original and entertaining is encapsulated in the 8 amazing episodes that comprise the show's first season.  These episodes are all build-up, inviting us into creator David Lynch's mindscape.  They pay attention to music and atmosphere while keeping the pace humming along, introducing us to the myriad strange characters and mysteries of the quixotic small town.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Every Kiss Begins with...Death!

Kay Jewelers debuted this commercial during the 2009 holiday season, but I saw it for the first time the other night.  Did anyone think that this would sell jewelry?

The Golden Age of John Cusack: 1985-2000

Some actors have a shelf-life. The passion that drives them wanes over time and they begin turning in tired, listless performances, one after another. They become stuck in a rut that is impossible to break out of. Sure, there have been actors who have staged comebacks after years in the wilderness, but these are exceptions rather than the rule. In a perfect world, actors whose hearts aren't in it anymore would retire like baseball players, leaving the heavy-lifting to those who are still burning with energy. With this in mind, I want to highlight the golden age of one of these thespians who I feel has fallen off the cliff: John Cusack.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Missing Liquid Television

There was a time not too long ago when MTV was a channel worth watching.  As recently as the early 1990s, it had a lineup full of music videos that could be like great short films featuring bands that occasionally played great music.  Between the blocks of music were some fantastic, though often bizarre, original programs.  A pre-fame Ben Stiller had his own sketch comedy show that ran for a season before moving on to FOX.  A pre-fame Jon Stewart had his own talk show for two seasons long before The Daily Show.  There were scores of strange game shows.  But, without question, my favorite MTV original was Liquid Television, an animated anthology show that ran on MTV from 1991 through 1994.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Great Performances: Jason Segel in Undeclared

From time to time, I want to highlight a performance that I find truly remarkable.  This may be from film or TV and could be a leading role, a supporting role, or even a guest appearance.

I first noticed Jason Segel in the little-seen film SLC Punk! (1998) playing Mike, the only non-punk friend of the punk protagonists.  The character was a hilarious mixture of sweet and crazy and Segel was so comfortable in the role that he has basically played these notes over and over in every performance he has given since.  In the late, great TV show Freaks and Geeks, Segel played stoner teenager Nick Andopolis whose heart was always in the right place, but couldn't help but take his crush on lead character Lindsay too far.  Judd Apatow, the executive producer of Freaks, loves boosting the careers of actors that he works with (see also: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, etc.) so it is no surprise he found a place for Segel on his post-Freaks sitcom, the also short-lived Undeclared.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Music in the Films of P.T. Anderson

P.T. Anderson is one of the best filmmakers working today, and one of the reasons that his films are effective is that the director is so creative in his use of music.  Anderson's Boogie Nights (1997) is a panorama of the late 70s/early 80s San Fernando Valley porn scene and has a soundtrack full of hits from that eraThe film has an energy that comes from a constantly roaming camera and non-stop music that transitions from 70s disco and R&B to 80s pop.  It often feels like the movie is one long musical montage showing the passage of time and making sure that we always know what each character is up to.  This isn't particularly original, but Anderson's genius in Boogie Nights is in the song choices.  Consider the opening scene set to The Emotions' "Best of My Love."  This disco tune perfectly sets the scene of the film - it is pulsing, rhythmic, and fun. In a long take worthy of Orson Welles, the music draws us in and captures the optimism and care-free nature of the characters.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hey, it's...Whitby "Whit" Hertford!

Who?  Whit Hertford?  You know, he played Alice's son in Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child.  What's that?  You don't remember the one where Freddy Krueger attempts to enter the real world through the dreams of the unborn child of the girl-next-door heroine who survived Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master?  Fine.  How about "Volunteer Boy" from one of Jurassic Park's most famous scenes:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dropping Out of Community

I eagerly anticipated the premiere of NBC's Community for one reason: Joel McHale.  The hilarious host of The Soup (one of the best shows on TV for years now) was finally breaking out into the world of fictional comedy and it sounded like he had a decent premise to back him up: an ethically-challenged lawyer is forced to go back to community college.  No doubt hilarity could ensue...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hoosiers: A Fall Classic

I love Autumn.  I love the way that the season makes cold weather pleasurable, even preferable, with the crisp air that seems fresher than at any other time of the year and the clouds that hang low to create beautiful sunsets.  I love the leaves and the breezes and the apple cider.  Autumn is a time to slow down and look around - to quietly regroup and reflect.  For me, the movie that best captures the feeling of Fall is Hoosiers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Soup: Mmm-Mmm Good

I first started watching Talk Soup on E! back in the early 90s when the host was a charming young man named Greg Kinnear.  The show had a very basic premise: present clips of daytime talk shows and make fun of them.  At that time, the number of such shows was insane.  We had Oprah and Jerry Springer, but also Sally Jesse Raphael, Donohue, Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, and a host of forgotten classics like Leeza and Vicki.  These shows had not yet descended into a series of on-stage fights and paternity tests, but they were indeed ridiculous and the public needed a place to come to watch these shows be ridiculed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

In Defense of Keanu

Keanu Reeves has been the go-to example of a famous actor being completely terrible at their chosen craft since he landed a supporting role in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula 18 years ago.  I know that his first major role was Ted "Theodore" Logan in the Bill & Ted movies, but Coppola's film was his first large-budget A-list gig - and he completely sucked in it.  He was wooden, awkward, and spoke in the worst British accent that I have ever heard.  That being said, I don't think I don't think people give Reeves enough credit.  There are plenty of other famous actors that are more worthy punching bags.  Cameron Diaz comes to mind.  Outside of There's Something About Mary and Being John Malkovich, Diaz has jumped from one bad performance to another.