It takes a Thief...

I just finished watching the first two episodes of the new FX series Thief. I will watch them again with my wife and I think I will enjoy them again, as much if not more than the first time.

Someone slipped something good into the water up at the FX Channel. Shield, Rescue Me, and now Thief. These shows make what the major networks are doing look silly.

Do yourself a major favor and get on the bandwagon. FX is generous with their repeats, so it won’t take you long to catch up. It will be more than worth the effort. New episodes air on Tuesday nights.


Do you want franchise with that?

Just a few minutes ago while I finished my lunch I caught the last ten minutes of Shrek 2 on HBO. I chuckled knowingly at the ‘adult’ jokes and cringed as I always do at the Fat Bastard brogue Mike Myers used for Shrek. I always wondered if the movie and the franchise that blossomed from it would have been nearly as popular if the producers had used the original Chris Farley voice track. I greatly dislike Myers as Shrek but I’m certainly in the minority.

I read somewhere that Antonio Banderas said he was headed into the studio to record his dialogue for Shrek 3 and possibly for a Puss In Boots spin-off. Do we need a Shrek 3? I didn’t think we needed an Ice Age 2, but I didn’t anticipate last weekend’s 70 million dollar opening. Is there a team of story people and artists cooking up Ice Age 3 even as I type this? Undoubtably.

It’s easy to chuff churlishly at the studios, but they’re only doing what they’ve been taught by Disney, Schulz, Lucas and the others.

Last night I read myself to sleep with Chip Kidd’s ‘Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz’ book and was reminded what a talented designer Kidd is and what a whore Schultz was.

Krikey! Was there anything that the man didn’t agree to put Snoopy and the gang on? The Peanuts strip itself remains a marvel and was almost always entertaining. In my mind it stands alone and is above reproach, if you don’t count Schulz’s periodic lapses into churchliness, but it wouldn’t shock me if Charles M. wasn’t making money under the table on Peanuts Tijuana bibles and piƱatas.

From what I’ve read of the man he didn’t have a heroin problem or like to play the ponies, so why the compulsion to be such a major sell-out? Of course I could see the reasoning behind the reprint books, but did he really think a Charlie Brown inflatable Bop-em punching bag, or a Woodstock pencil eraser was going to bring that much joy into the hearts of children?

I haven’t gotten to the part in the book where Kidd explains that it was all United Features Syndicate’s fault, that Charles M. Schulz had just as much moral fortitude as Bill Watterson, and that Schulz signed a sucker contract as was forced to sell-out. I hope I get to that part.

The pay off to all of this is that if I had major print success with a project or if a film studio optioned something, I would be soaking up the money as fast as they could throw it at me. I’d license my characters to anything they’d stick to. (Except for rectal thermometers. That would be just plain tacky.)

So, as always, I’m not complaining about the problem—I just want to get in on it.


This is how we get around where I live...

Anatomy 101

A few posts earlier I talked about my rediscovery of 1959’s Anatomy of a Murder. Business dragged me away before I could finish the film.

Several minutes ago I finished watching The Great White Hope and flicked over to Anatomy and was lucky enough to land on a part of the movie I had missed.

Damn, Lee Remick was red hot in this movie, and Jimmy Stewart was a pistol. There was a great courtroom scene between the judge and all the attorneys involved. The discussion concerned the use of the world ‘panties’, which made sense because the trial involved an alleged rape.

A few minutes later the doctor who examined Lee Remick was called on the stand to testify. The actor who played the doctor was Howard McNear, a.k.a. Floyd the Barber on the Andy Griffith Show. It was funny to hear Floyd the Barber talking about examining Lee Remick for sperm samples. The image of him poking around between her taunt thighs is one that will remain in my head for years to come.

I really need to watch this movie from start to finish. I should schedule the DVR to grab it the next time it’s on. I seem to remember a fun Saul Bass opening sequence.

He's no Cinderella Man, but he ain't too bad...

Sleep eludes me again. Truth be told, I haven’t pursued it with much effort.

I’m watching The Great White Hope on the Fox Movie Channel. What a fantastic movie. I didn’t see it when it first came out, in 1970, but I remember it caused quite a ruckus because of all the interracial nastiness that was going on between James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander’s characters.

I’m a big fan of the Fox Movie Channel because it shows great classics and it shows them letterboxed, like they ought to be.

James Earl Jones is at the top of his form in this movie. If he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, he was robbed.

Speaking of Jones, if you’ve never seen it, you should check him out as Looking Glass General Alice, in 1990’s By Dawn’s Early Light. It’s a brink-of-Armageddon movie with a brain. Perhaps it will show up on the Fox Movie Channel one evening.


At any price, it's a steal...

Sleep eludes me once again. I’m watching 1959’s ‘Anatomy of a Murder’. It’s a smart and sometimes funny movie that was released the year I was born. I always like using my birth year as a point of reference. Had my mother seen a particular movie or heard a particular song while she was carrying me?

I saw another smart and funny movie earlier this evening with my wife. It’s called ‘The Inside Man’ and one of the stars was the man who everyone (including myself) thinks would’ve made a dandy James Bond, Clive Owen. From the first time I saw him, in 1998’s The Croupier, I knew Owen was a pip. The guy oozes charisma and sex appeal like a sieve, even in black and white, like last year’s Sin City.

I knew from the very first preview that I wanted/needed to see The Inside Man. Denzel Washington, another featured player, never fails to deliver, and Jodie Foster looked interesting. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Spike Lee’s movies, but then again I haven’t seen too many of them.

The driving force for my wanting to see The Inside Man was that it was a heist flick. Not being a career criminal myself, it’s fun to live vicariously through those I see on television and the movies. (I’ve got high hopes for Andre Braugher’s new series ‘Thief’) This weekend was the first chance we had to go to the movies. Both Valarie and I want to see ‘V for Vendetta’ but I’ve been doing my best to keep a blind eye to reviews and television interviews about The Inside Man because I wanted to know as little as possible.

I had a funny kind of feeling that The Inside Man would be a puzzler that would have me guessing from frame one, which turned out to be the case, and if I’d seen Denzel Washington on Jay Leno and he showed a clip of him hanging to the roof of a runaway bulldozer, I knew the whole time I was in the theater I’d be setting there waiting for the bulldozer scene.

Clive Owen owns the movie from start to finish. Denzel Washington plays his role with an easy comfort, and Christopher Plummer turns in a great performance. Jodie Foster was good, but I’m still recovering from the sting of having recently seen Flightplan. Plus, I’m always nervous that Foster is going to take her clothes off. All told I don’t she’s appeared naked all that many of her films, but I think I’ve seen them all. I don’t think that Jodie Foster is an ugly woman, not by any stretch, but there’s this element of familiarity with her, so I always feel like I’m seeing my sister or cousin naked.

The Inside Man was not what I was expecting but everything I want in a movie, with a bare minimum of credibility gaps. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys an intelligent heist flick.

Prior to the movie I saw the first preview for The DaVinci Code that made me interested in the movie. I thought the book was pretty damn silly, but it could make for a fun thriller. Director Ron Howard has managed to polish a few turds into gems, so time will tell.