Saturday, May 31, 2008

Indiana Jones 4 - Movie Review

INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (**1/2) - Starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Jim Broadbent.
Written by David Koepp.
Directed by Steven Spielberg.

From the writer/director team that brought you The Lost World: Jurassic Park!

First, the good. It's good to see Dr. Jones back, with the hat and the whip and the world-hopping. It's good to see Karen Allen back as Marian, even if we're almost halfway through the movie before she shows up. It's good to hear that old John Williams score. There are some cool stunt sequences in this movie, primarily a swordfight by two people standing on moving jeeps. I liked the chemistry between Ford's Dr. Jones and Shia LaBeouf's Mutt Williams, a Brando-emulating 1950's greaser.


It's just so darn silly. They've been kicking around story ideas for a decade, and this is what they come up with? I predict Indiana Jones movies will be like Star Trek movies. With Star Trek, only the even-numbered ones are good. With Indy, I think only the odd-numbered ones will be good.

I enjoyed my time watching it. I cringed when I realized where the third act was going, but if that's the story they're going to tell, fine. I smiled to myself when I realized that Indiana Jones is looking for the same thing Ben Gates looks for in National Treasure 2: a lost city of gold. Needless to say, these two movies end differently.

I didn't like Ray Winstone's Mac character. Not Winstone's fault. I don't think Spielberg, Lucas & Koepp ever settled on what kind of character he was, so he's all over the map. Can't say I liked John Hurt's Oxley character, as he spends most of the movie going bonkers.

Where does it rank in the Indy canon? I'd put it above Temple of Doom, but well below Last Crusade and not in the same league as Raiders. I can see this movie fading quickly in my mind, but I still having some lingering enjoyment I got from it. In a few months, though, I can see myself saying "Yeah, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucked."

2007-2008 TV Ratings Breakdown


ABC's Top Ten Shows
(percentage is change in viewership from previous year)

3. Dancing with the Stars 5 - 21.7 million viewers / +5%
4. Dancing with the Stars 6 - 19.6 / -2%
5. Dancing with the Stars 5 Results - 19.6 / +1%
6. Desperate Housewives - 18.2 / +3%
8. Dancing with the Stars 6 Results - 17.5 / -4%
11. Grey's Anatomy - 15.6 / -20%
19. Extreme Makeover Home Edition - 13.1 / -2%
21. Lost - 13.0 / -12%
26. Samantha Who? - 11.8 / -
32. Oprah's Big Give - 11.2 / -

ABC's Bottom Four Shows

130. Notes from the Underbelly - 5.1 / -9%
131. Just for Laughs - 5.0 / -
133. ABC Saturday Movie - 4.7 / -11%
140. Duel - 3.8 / -

CBS's Top Ten Shows

9. CSI - 16.9 / -18%
12. Survivor 15: China - 15.2 / -4%
14. NCIS - 14.2 / -2%
15. CSI: Miami - 13.8 / -19%
16. Two and a Half Men - 13.6 / -6%
17. Survivor 16: Micronesia - 13.6 / -9%
18. Without a Trace - 13.3 / -10%
22. 60 Minutes - 12.9 / -2%
23. Criminal Minds - 12.7 / -10%
25. The Amazing Race 12 - 11.8 / +3%

CBS's Bottom Four Shows

109. Big Brother (Wed) - 6.2 / -
121. CBS Saturday Movie - 5.6 / -
124. Power of 10 - 5.3 / -
135. Secret Talents of the Stars - 4.7 / -

NBC's Top Ten Shows

10. Sunday Night Football - 15.9 / -4%
20. Heroes - 13.1 / -10%
28. Deal or No Deal (Mon) - 11.6 / -22%
29. Law & Order: SVU - 11.5 / -4%
36. Law & Order - 10.8 / +19%
40. Medium - 10.4 / +21%
41. Deal or No Deal (Wed) - 10.3 / +5%
43. Celebrity Apprentice - 9.8 / +13%
45. Bionic Woman - 9.8 / -
46. Deal or No Deal (Fri) - 9.7 / -15%

NBC's Bottom Four Shows

122. Monk - 5.4 / -
129. Amnesia - 5.1 / -
138. Most Outrageous Moments - 4.0 / -
139. Psych - 3.9 / -

FOX's Top Eight Shows

1. American Idol - 28.8 / -4%
2. American idol Results - 27.4 / -11%
7. House - 17.6 / -10%
13. The Moment of Truth - 14.7 / -
24. Hell's Kitchen - 11.9 / -
34. Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles - 10.8 / -
48. Bones - 9.7 / +2%
53. Are You Smarter Than 5th Grader? - 9.0 / -29%

FOX's Bottom Three Shows

144. The Return of Jezebel James - 3.3 / -
146. The Next Great American Band - 2.9 / -
149. Nashville - 2.5 / -

The CW's Top Eight Shows

128. America's Next Top Model 9 - 5.2 / -4%
136. Friday Night Smackdown - 4.6 / +4%
137. America's Next Top Model 10 - 4.2 / -23%
141. Smallville - 3.8 / -8%
143. One Tree Hill - 3.3 / 13%
145. Beauty & the Geek 4 - 3.1 / -
147. Supernatural - 2.7 / -13%
148. Reaper - 2.6 / -

The CW's Bottom Three Shows

159. Life Is Wild - 1.1 / -
160. Online Nation - 0.8 / -
161. CW Now - 0.8 / -

The Highest Rated Shows Getting Cancelled

32. Oprah's Big Give - 11/2 / -
38. Shark - 10.4 / -28%
45. Bionic Woman - 9.8 / -
57. New Amsterdam - 8.9 / -
The CW
153. Farmer Wants a Wife - 2.2 / -

The Lowest Rated Shows Not Getting Cancelled

126. According to Jim - 5/3 / -21%
109. Big Brother 9 (Wed) - 6.2 / -
119. Dateline (Sun) - 5.9 / -5%
120. Cops - 5.6 / +4%
The CW
152. Everybody Hates Chris - 2.4 / -13%

Where Some Other Shows Rank

27. CSI: NY (CBS) - 11.7 / -16%
30. The Unit (CBS) - 11.2 / +1%
33. Brothers & Sisters (ABC) - 11.1 / +0%
37. Private Practice (ABC) - 10.8 / -
50. Ugly Betty (ABC) - 9.3 / -18%
51. Numb3rs (CBS) - 9.2 / -13%
52. ER (NBC) - 9.2 / -21%
59. Ghost Whisperer - 8.7 / -12%
66. Family Guy (FOX) - 8.2 / -1%
68. Prison Break - 8.2 / -12%
73. The Office (NBC) - 8.0 / -4%
74. The Simpsons (FOX) - 8.0 / -8%
78. The Bachelor 12: London Calling - 7.8 / -8%
83. My Name Is Earl (NBC) - 7.3 / -18%
84. Jericho (CBS) - 7.1 / -25%
95. Cavemen (ABC) - 6.6 / -
102. 30 Rock (NBC) - 6.4 / +12%
110. Friday Night Lights (NBC) - 6.2 / +2%
156. Beauty & the Geek 5 (CW) - 1.9 / -53%

Oprah's Big Give was cancelled at Oprah's request, and while it ranked high overall, it lost viewers steadily from its debut. Bionic Woman was the same way. It debuted strong and faded quickly, but looking at ratings and timeslot, it still probably deserved another chance by NBC. Maybe the show's budget was a factor. NBC meanwhile keeps giving chances to critically acclaimed shows with very low viewership (30 Rock, Friday Night Lights...) but as the fourth-place network, there's not much choice. Meanwhile the CW cancelled its second highest rated show (Smackdown) and ruined Beauty & the Geek by making it Beauty vs. Geek for season 5. They changed it back after three weeks, but after losing mroe than half its viewers, it was too late. I don't see how much longer this network can survive.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer's Box Office so far

So, how's the summer playing out so far?

My predictions, like every year, have some right on course and some completely off. Indy Jones 4 still looks like it'll come out as the top-grossing movie of the summer, with Iron Man close behind, both crawling across the $300 million line. I thought Narnia would do better, but's it's going to end up around $150 million. (I predict Dawn Treader's marketing in 2010 focusses more on fantasy and wonder, and less on battle scenes.) I didn't see Speed Racer bombing as bad as it did, but I should trust my instincts (do I want to see it? Sure, on DVD). What Happens in Vegas benefitted and should be able to stay in the Top 20 with it teasing the $60 million mark (a needed hit for both Diaz and Kutcher).

This weekend, Sex & the City is tracking well. It won't win the weekend against Indy, but it'll do respectable business and may even outdo WHIV. The Strangers will probably get $5-6 million-ish and fade quickly. Why did Liv Tyler's movie get a wide release but Funny Games with Naomi Watts got nothing? Same plot, bigger star. Oh well.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sydney Pollack RIP

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An agent for actor and director Sydney Pollack says the Academy Award winner has died. He was 73.

Agent Leslee Dart says Pollack died of cancer Monday afternoon at his home in Pacific Palisades. She says Pollack was surrounded by family.

Pollack appeared in some of the films he directed, including the gender-bending hit "Tootsie," which starred Dustin Hoffman. Pollack won producing and directing Oscars for "Out of Africa" in 1985.

Monday's Box Office

1. Indiana Jones 4 - $25.04 million ($151.08) - 5 days
2. Prince Caspian - $5.61 ($96.69) - 11 days
3. Iron Man - $5.51 ($257.82) - 25 days
4. What Happens in Vegas - $2.15 ($56.4) - 18 days
5. Speed Racer - $1.23 ($37.42) - 18 days

$300 million+ domestic gross for Indiana Jones 4 looks promising and almost certain for Iron Man, as no new action competition opens this weekend.

Opens Friday (wide)
SEX & THE CITY with Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall.
THE STRANGERS with Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indiana Jones 4 gets $126 million

Weekend Box Office

1. Indiana Jones 4 - $101 million ($126) - 1 wk (Par)
4260 screens / $23,708 per screen
2. Prince Caspian - $23.03 ($91.08) - 2 wks (BV) -58.2%
3929 / $5862
3. Iron Man - $20.15 ($252.31) - 4 wks (Par) -36.7%
3915 / $5146
4. What Happens in Vegas - $9 ($54.25) - 3 wks (Fox) -35.2%
3188 / $2823
5. Speed Racer - $4 ($36.21) - 3 wks (WB) -50.7%
3112 / $1285
6. Made of Honor - $3.4 ($39.06) - 4 wks (Sony) -27.7%
2393 / $1420
7. Baby Mama - $3.32 ($52.13) - 5 wks (U) -29%
2158 / $1539
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall - $1.67 ($58.2) - 6 wks (U) -40.2%
1078 / $1545

Indy is off to a slightly better start than Iron Man, but when all is said and done, I don't see it finishing too far ahead of it, money-wise. Iron Man's word-of-mouth has been tremendous, and Indy's is good in a lower-your-expectations-and-it's-fun kind of way. Either way, both are making Paramount Pictures a ton o' money this summer.

I expect Prince Caspian's decline to slow down, as nothing is opening for kids next week. I just finished re-reading it and based on the marketing, I'd say its problems are two-fold: 1) There's only one battle in the book, at the end, and it's not that big, but the preview makes it look like an epic Helm's Deep 20-minute battle a la Lord of the Rings, and it didn't need to go dark in the second Narnia movie. Harry Potter waited until the third movie to go there. 2) Caspian has one of the weakest plots of the Narnia series. It's 200 pages. The four kids go back to Narnia on page 2. After 20-ish pages of hiking around, trying to figure out what year it is, they meet a dwarf, who then spends over 50 pages telling them the backstory of Caspian. They don't actually meet him until around page 140, and then they're gearing up for the confrontation with King Miraz, Caspian's uncle and thief of the throne.

(Numbers from

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strange Wilderness - DVD Review

STRANGE WILDRENESS (*) - Starring Steve Zahn, Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Ashley Scott, Allen Covert, Kevin Heffernan, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Hamlin, Robert Patrick, Joe Don Baker, Peter Dante, Blake Clark and Jeff Garlin.
Written by Peter Gaulke & Fred Wolf.
Directed by Fred Wolf.

I don't know if this movie gives me more or less faith in getting a screenplay sold in Hollywood. On one hand, I know I could crank out a script funnier than this in one day, not thinking beforehand about where I'd want the plot to go or anything. I have more than one friend I know could do the same thing. On the other hand, there are probably several scripts floating out D-team reject piles while this piece of junk got made.

Not only did it get made, it got made with some talented funny people. How can you get guys like Steve Zahn, Jonah Hill, Justin Long, et al, and be so stupid?

First of all, it's a Happy Madison production, so Allen Covert has a part. Who is Covert? Must be one of Adam Sandler's childhood friends because he has a part in everything Sandler stars in or produces, and never in anything he doesn't. (Okay, a quick look-up shows they met in college). Now Happy Madison productions are the ones that are too dumb for Sandler to be in so they'll star Rob Schneider (The Animal) or Allen Covert (Grandma's Boy).

I think the main problem with this is the pot humor. The characters get high a lot and so the humor is probably only funny if you're high too, and why write a movie like that when my understanding is that SpongeBob SqaurePants is just as entertaining in that state and cheaper to make?

I can't believe I've seen only 21 movies so far with copyright 2008 and Uwe Boll's movie isn't in the Bottom Three. That's how bad the release dumpings grounds of January/February can be.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tim Donaghy's not going away

Wow, I am looking forward to see the specifics of this case. Which games had their outcomes influenced?

Monday, May 19, 2008

McCain's cyanide pill

McCain/Huckabee in 2008 in Huck's dreams

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Caspian tops weekend box

Numbers from

1. TCON: Prince Caspian - $56.57 million - 1 wk (BV)
3929 screens / $14,398 per screen
2. Iron Man - $31.2 ($222.49) - 3 wks (Par) -39.1%
4154 / $7510
3. What Happens in Vegas - $13.85 ($40.31) - 2 wks (Fox) -31.3%
3255 / $4254
4. Speed Racer - $7.65 ($24.37) - 2 wks (WB) -58.8%
3606 / $2120
5. Baby Mama - $4.59 ($47.26) - 4 wks (U) -26.2%
2503 / $1834
6. Made of Honor - $4.5 ($33.7) - 3 wks (Sony) -44.6%
2816 / $1598
7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall - $2.54 ($55.07) - 5 wks (U) -34%
1601 / $1585
8. Harold & Kumar Escape - $1.8 ($33.9) - 4 wks (NL) -42.1%
1403 / $1282
9. The Forbidden Kingdom - $1 ($50.3) - 5 wks (LG) -53.9%
997 / $1003

On one hand, under $60 million for an opening weekend for Prince Caspian may seem like a bit of a disappointment for Disney. On the other hand, they can look at the crash-and-burn of Speed Racer and count their blessings. I think Narnia is better for a winter release, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is moved to winter.

John Phillip Law - RIP

THe B-movie king may be best known for films like Barbarella and Tarzan the Ape Man, but to me, I'll always most fondly remember him from Space Mutiny, fodder for one of Mystery Science Theater 3000's funniest episodes.

"Catwalk death!"

"I don't know if this help, but... ho, ho, ho."

"RAAAAAAAAAHWR! Well, glad I got that out of my system."

"Ah, an easily-led Wise Council."

Lessons from this Jazz post-season

Larry H. Miller - If you're going to let a veteran out of his contract, do it on the condition that he not go to a Western Conference playoff team.

Jerry Sloan - Complaining about the tactics of the other team to the media is part of the coach's job. Phil Jackson didn't win nine rings by saying "I have no problem with how the other team plays, and I'm sure it'll be a clean game."

Deron Williams - Do not respect your elders. Treat any point guard in front of you like a trash-talkin', street-ballin' punk who needs to be humiliated.

Andrei Kirilenko - Get your Visa issues resolved before the post-season.

Carlos Boozer - The guys guarding you are more likely to get in foul trouble if you go into them instead of trying fade-away jumpers.

Mehmet Okur - You can play offense and defense in the same quarter.

Ronnie Brewer - You're going to be called for a foul if you touch Kobe so you might as well slap that pinky as hard as you can when you do.

Paul Millsap - Hard work results in big paydays. Get your agent to find the best overinflated offer he can.

Ronnie Price - I know you only get four minutes a game, but you need to play like you expect twelve.

Kyle Korver - Being a great natural shooter doesn't mean in the playoffs anything you throw up there is going to go in. Aim.

Matt Harpring - Hard-nosed D is never a bad thing.

Jason Hart, CJ Miles, Jarron Collins - Don't get too comfy. Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko need spots on this roster next year, and you did nothing to show it shoudn't be your spot.

The team in general - Home-court throughout the playoffs is the only way to go, so quit losing road games to Minnesota, Miami, New York, etc. And making the All-Star team is not an excuse to fade in the post-season (I'm looking at you, Okur-07 and Boozer-08!)

Jazz fans - It would probably be more intimidating if you ignored Kobe, except laugh hysterically everytime he misses a shot. And even if you think Fisher used his daughter's illness as an excuse to get out of his contract and join the loathsome Lakers, still cheer him during introductions.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Great Debaters - DVD Review

THE GREAT DEBATERS (**3/4) - Starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, Denzel Whitaker, Kimberly Elise and John Heard.
Written by Robert Eisele.
Directed by Denzel Washington.

This was an earnest, well-intentioned, engrossing story about the first debate team from the all-black Wiley College to beat the national champions Harvard. Denzel Washington directs and stars, and he does his job well on both counts.

I figured we were in for some cliches when Denzel's first scene has him standing on his desk. Oh dear, another teacher telling his students to carpe diem. But Denzel's one of our best actors, and he makes his debate professor energetic, quick-witted, sly and forgiveable for an inspiring-teacher plot points we're about to hit.

As the credits rolled, I felt entertained. It had a couple issues. The Wiley team always argued the politically correct point. For welfare. For civil disobedience. For integration. It's the 1930's, and in our 2008 eyes, they're taking the noble, head-nodding, stand-up-one-by-one-and-applaud point. it would have been more challenging to the characters if just once, they could have argued a point they disagreed with. Like real debate teams. And I would have liked it to show the actual debates longer. Each debate is staged like a highlight reel, so we don't get a good feel for what listening to two paragraphs in a row would have been like.

Stand-out of the young cast was Denzel Whitaker (no relation to Washington or Forest). Turns he was the only one of the four-person team based on a real person, despite what the movie's epilogue would leave a viewer to believe. In the real story, there was not a woman on the team and they faced USC, not Harvard. I felt the same deflation I did after learning the truth behind The Hurricane and A Beautfiul Mind. Did you really need to change so much to make it a feel-good movie?

Lakers over Jazz 3-2

Home court, home court, home court. That's the main story of the second round, and it was a definite factor here. For the Jazz to advance, they have to hold their own in Game 6 and then pull off an upset in L.A. in Game 7. A tall order. Do I think they can do it? Sure. They need Boozer to show up. Deron Williams has been great but there were stretches where it appeared he was going to have to do it all by himself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Jane Austen Book Club - DVD Review

THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB (***) - Starring Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Marc Blucas, Kevin Zegers, Nancy Travis and Lynn Redgrave.
Written & Directed by Robin Swicord.

I've seen Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma, Keira Knightly in Pride & Prejudice, Emma Thompson in Sense & Sensability and Frances O'Connor in Mansfield Park. I also saw the frothy Jane Austen biopic Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway. I have not, however, ever read a Jane Austen book, and I think my enjoyment of this movie would have been enhanced had I done so.

Five women and a token guy meet once a month to discuss Austen's books in this ensemble chick flick, and when they discuss the characters, they do so like the audience already has intimate knowledge of Austen's works. This wound up being okay, because the cast is warm, the acting's good, and the plot threads all follow their natural course. The movie is like a book you read sitting on your cushioned wicker chair on your porch overlooking the beach, straight out of one of those "celebrate the moments of your life" coffee commercials.

I liked it. It was fine. Chick flicks don't have to be a bad thing. Give me characters to care about and I can be entertained without armies getting slaughtered and CGI robots fighting mid-air. Stand-outs for me were Emily Blunt (very different from her Devil Wears Prada role) as an uptight teacher unhappy in her marriage who starts to fall for a student, and Maria Bello as the ringleader of the group who starts to act a little too much like Austen's Emma. And I even bought Hugh Dancy as a sci-fi geek who likes women and joins the club to expand his horizons.

Did it make me want to read an actual Austen book? I don't know. Maybe. Right now I'm reading Carolyn Jessop's Escape, Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, and I just picked up C.S. Lewis's Prince Caspian again, so maybe down the road... if someone paid me... Sure.

Too much safety; not enough freedom

I'm annoyed at Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. right now. He signed a bill into law that raised the age of children required to ride in carseats to eight. Age eight!! When I emailed the sponsor of the bill, Tim Cosgrove, he sent me these stats:

"• In Utah we lost 34 children just between the ages of 5 and 8, whom died in motor vehicle crashes between 2002 and 2006.

• In Utah we had 2,188 children who were severely injured between the ages of 5 and 8, that were injured in a motor vehicle crash whom were not in a booster seat.

• 39 other states and the District of Columbia already have booster seat laws."

To which I responded:

"1. Regarding the first two stats, it does not mention if any of those children were wearing seatbelts.

2. Of those 39 states, how many go up to age 8? Last I heard, age 6 was the highest of any state in the union.

3. I saw an interview with a car-seat lobbyist last year who said if they had their way, children up to age 12 would be in car-seats. Would you support this?

4. What about car-seats and seatbelts on public school busses?

5. To maximize our safety, we could ban all cars. We don't ban all cars because we've decided the risk is worth the convenience. Where is the line between government-enforced safety and personal responsibility? There's no quick way to answer that, but the line seems to keep moving to make our lawbooks thicker and thicker.

I know we wring our hands to keep our kids safe, but really, where does it end? I remember when the carseat law first passed up to age 3 and I remember grumbling when it was raised to 5. 5 is plenty. And I know what it's like to have a child die."

Mr. Cosgrove never responded.

Do vice-presidential picks matter?

Do vice-presidential picks matter? Almost, maybe, not really.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush picked Dan Quayle. After a couple gaffes, Quayle was easily portrayed as an idiot. Quayle's famous dress-down by Lloyd Bentsen at the vice-presidential debate meant that Bush won despite having Quayle as his VP pick, and even though presidents frequently changed vice-presidents over history (FDR did it more than once), Bush's loyalty to Quayle helped cost him the 92 election. (That, and Ross Perot, and the recession, and...)

In 1992, Bill Clinton was a womanizer who skewed too centrist in the primaries, so he balanced that by picking squeaky-clean liberal Al Gore as his running mate. Alas, Clinton only got 43% of the vote. Oh wait, Bush only got 39% and Perot got 17% of the vote. So he won.

In 1996, Bob Dole picked Jack Kemp. That made the GOP base excited for about a week. Then Clinton won 49% to 42%.

In 2000, in a personality year, Al Gore picked the moderate Joseph Lieberman. George W. Bush, the fratboy who was picked because brother Jeb hadn't been governor long enough, needed gravitas and picked Dick Cheney. People may forget how back then, lots of people saw the VP debate and wished the choices were instead Lieberman-Gore and Cheney-Bush. Both VP picks were good for the candidates, but unfortunately for Gore, many Florida voters didn't know how to fill out a voting ballot properly. Among other things.

In 2004, John Kerry picked John Edwards. I guess he felt like he had to, but Edwards didn't even deliver his home state of North Carolina, so it was a useless pick.

In 2008, despite Hillary Clinton's constant goalpost moving, Barack Obama will be the nominee, and he has to figure out what flaws he wants to cover with that VP pick. Does he need to appease the women who feel screwed by Hillary losing? I think making Hillary the VP would be a colossal mistake, and it would only happen if she wanted it. I don't see why she would. My guess is she'd want John McCain to win the election, and then she can run in 2012. If Obama wins, she can't run until 2016, by which time she'll be 69, a little too old. (Look at all the Methuselah jokes about 71-year-old John McCain.) So Obama could pick a female governor, but my guess he'll stick with a white guy. Because America isn't "ready" for Prez AND Vice-Prez to be historic. And it will probably be a Clinton supporter. Top two contender names I'm seeing floated would be Evan Bayh or Ed Rendell. Bayh, sure. Rendell would have to do an about-face on some opinions he's expressed the past few weeks.

Now if Hillary wanted to be VP, I imagine every soldier in the CLinton machine would pressure him to take her. If I was him, I wouldn't want her on the ticket because A.) who would want Bill & Hillary puttering around the White House?, and B.) that Clinton dead-pool list would make me nervous.

John McCain has a wide open field. He probably needs someone considered more conservative than him, and younger. Shouldn't be too hard. I don't think it'll be any of the men he faced in the primary. Rudy Giulani won one whole delegate. Fred Thompson looks as old as J-Mac. McCain and Romney got personal (McCain saying Romney doesn't stand for anything; Romney saying McCain's Nixonian tactics were "reprehensible"). Mike Huckabee's an absolute joke. For J-Mac, he will likely go with a governor, and the two most likely are Tim Pawlenty or Charlie Crist. (I've heard Utah's own Jon Huntsman Jr., but he's Mormon and moderate; a problem in some southern swing states).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First Sunday - DVD Review

FIRST SUNDAY (**) - Starring Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Loretta Devine, Michael Beach, Keith David, Chi McBride and Regina Hall.
Written & Directed by David E. Talbert.

Tracy Morgan may have been on Saturday Night Live, but when it comes to acting, he seems capable of only one character, the dense man-child. I see no difference between him here and on 30 Rock and on most of the SNL skits he ever did. That persona can be funny, but without Tina Fey writing for him, that persona's just tired.

Here he is the buddy to Ice Cube in this conventional, predictable, contrived sitcom of a movie, where two decent guys decide to rob a church. Two decent guys robbing a church? Well, the deck is stacked. Cube's character needs the money to keep his ex-wife from moving out of state with their son; Morgan's character needs the money to pay off some gangsters.

Trouble is, once they get the safe open, the money's already gone. Huh? So they hold the church members hostage until they can figure out who stole the money.

Cube is used to being straight man in comedies. It worked in the Friday movies and the Barbershop movies, and I had no problem with it here. He's never been funny at it, but he's pretty good at keeping a straight face while others try to earn laughs. Any laughs squeezed out of this script were courtesy of Katt Williams as the choir director. His one-liners occasionally worked. For every two groaners, one would work.

You know exactly where the "feel-good" plot is going, so the pleasure should be from the journey, but the journey's a thin ride too, so while I didn't hate it, I see no reason for anyone else to seek it out.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Survivor: Fans v. Favorites

Erik passes Season's 1 Dr. Sean as the Dumbest Survivor Ever. Where did they find these alleged Fans? I am very disappointed in these idiots. Joel was an idiot, Jason was an idiot, and then Erik has proven himself to be the biggest idiot of all.

Erik: Dumbest Survivor Ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Over Her Dead Body - DVD Review

OVER HER DEAD BODY (*) - Starring Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Jason Biggs, Lindsay Sloane and Stephen Root.
Written & directed by Jeff Lowell.

I don't get what the goal was here. Is Eva Longoria the star? Then why is she such an unlikeable character from beginning to end? I don't know if I can blame her performance. If she's supposed to be a b-word, she delivers. A charmless, charmless b-word.

She plays Kate, a bridezilla who dies on her wedding day. She was supposed to marry Henry (Paul Rudd). A year later, Henry is still bummed, but Kate is so shrewish I can't for the life of me figure out why he wanted to marry her and why he's not over her after a year. His sister takes her to a psychic named Ashley (Boston Legal's Lake Bell) who doubles as a caterer. Ashley starts to fall for Henry, which makes Kate jealous.

One problem I had: why is there no curiosity about the afterlife? Kate has no questions or curiosity at all about what happens to her soul from here. She meets an angel ready to give her info, and Kate has a hissy-fit about her not having wings. Did Kate believe in God before she died? Reincarnation? Existence after death at all?

None of the characters seem to care. Everyone falls in lockstep with the rom-com cliche parade. Henry and Ashley date, Kate's jealous, Kate tortures Ashley, as Ashley is the only one who can see her. How does she do this? By making it sound like Henry is farting when he's not. She has all sorts of powers, but this is the extent of her wit. Another embarrassing aspect of this movie is it occasionally remembers it's a comedy and has its characters do pratfalls and behave in madcap fashion at off-putting times.

Even Paul Rudd, who's earned brotherhood in the Ferrell-Stiller laugh-pack, as well as the Apatow stable, seems almost ashamed to be here, and does his best to earn actual laughs with his line delivery. Alas, even he falls short. The worst movie so far of 2008.

Iron Man - Movie Review

IRON MAN (***1/2) - Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub and Jon Favreau.
Directed by Jon Favreau.

I don't know much about Iron Man beyond he's a Marvel character, he was in the Avengers, and he's billionaire Tony Stark. I don't have this mental image of what I want Iron Man to be based on my reading of the comics in my youth. I think this is a kick-butt movie whether you're a fan of the comics or not.

There's something enjoyable about having adult superheroes. Robert Downey Jr. is past 40; no growing-pains angst / puberty metaphors for him to go through. No, he gets a moment of clarity / mid-life crisis supplied courtesy of Afghan kidnappers. Stark is an agent of death, a weapons manufacturer that reminded me of the Lord of War, that Nicolas Cage movie about an unrepentant arms dealer. Well, Stark gets a Road to Jericho moment when terrorists force him to recreate his latest weapon from spare parts.

Instead of building the missiles he wants, he puts together an Iron Man suit. After he escapes, he perfects his design and becomes a one-man combat machine against those very terrorists who are buying his weapons on the black market.

From the second I heard about it, I thought Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was a stroke of genius, comparable to Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Downey's rapid-fire delivery is a joy to listen to, and he's ideal as Stark. We buy him as a playboy billionaire who dips too much into women and booze, because darnit, that's what he did in the 1990's. We buy his redemption and change-of-heart because that's what he's displayed ever since he got out of jail for drug use five years ago.

One sign of a good superhero movie is that I'm not anxious for the red-and-gold suit to show up when it does. I contrast that with the Hulk, the Ang Lee fizzler where it felt like it took forever to get to the Big Green Guy. In Iron Man, the characters are fun enough to watch, particularly Stark, that I had no problem in the movie taking its time to get there.

P.S. Stay until the end of the credits.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Al Gore cashes in on tragedy

He's made $100 million on his Global Warming tour. Why not exploit tragedy to keep pushing his agenda?

Al Gore blames Myanmar cyclone on global warming

Monday, May 5, 2008

Movie Stars vs. Franchises

The Hollywood Reporter has an article on how A-List celebrities are seeing their clout drop, as star-driven movies aren't grossing what they used, that more success is coming from the franchise-driven picture. This is true, but the stats they use to make their point of erroneous.

They compare 1987, 1997 and 2007. In 1987, they call Lethal Weapon star-driven when Mel Gibson hadn't proven yet to bankable outside of a Mad max movie, and then they call RoboCop franchise driven when it was the first one and no one knew it was going to spawn sequels.

In 1997, they call Titanic star-driven, when Leonardo DiCaprio had not yet proven to open a picture.

In 2007, they call Wild Hogs a "buzz comedy." Why was this not star-driven, seeing as how it was one of the worst reviewed movies of 2007?

It is true there are very few bankable stars in Hollywood left. I'd say Will Smith is #1, and there are no guarantees after that. There is a difference between a movie star and a celebrity. For all the buzz that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, etc. generate, their movies' grosses don't reflect it. Clooney needed Pitt, Matt Damon and a few other big names to make the Ocean's 11 franchise a big-grosser, but outside of that, when looking at Leatherheads, Michael Clayton, Intolerable Cruelty, Syriana, he doesn't hit the home runs, solid as the reviews may be. Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James) and Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) couldn't make their art-house pics break out. Will Smith, however, made a monster hit out of The Pursuit of Happyness.

Even the unstoppable Toms, Cruise and Hanks, have stumbled recently with Lions for Lambs and Charlie Wilson's War. CWW did okay but it wasn't in the stratosphere of The Da Vinci Code, Cast Away, etc. Maybe they can be blamed on audiences shunning anything having to do with war.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jazz - Lakers series

Looking ahead to the Jazz - Lakers series.


Deron Williams vs. Derek Fisher

These two know each other very well, which means Fisher will have a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to covering Deron and making his teammates aware of Deron's tendencies. However, Deron is a dynamic dribbler, smart passer, and he's bigger, stronger, younger and healthier than Derek. Derek will draw one or two offensive fouls off Deron in this series, but otherwise I don't see him being able to do much.

Advantage: Jazz


Ronnie Brewer vs. Kobe Bryant

One is the NBA MVP, the other is a second-year player. Brewer's one of the best perimeter defenders the Jazz have, and he gets his points from slashing to the basket. Kobe gets his points whenever and whereever he wants, so all Brewer can do is hope to keep Kobe's shooting percentage low.

Advantage: Lakers


Andrei Kirilenko vs. Vladimir Radmanovic

Neither is known for being consistent offensively, but defensively AK47 is miles better than Vlad. Vlad however is more capable of getting on a hot shooting streak. AK is better at passing and involving his teammates.

Advantage: Jazz


Carlos Boozer vs. Lamar Odom

Boozer is stronger and a better finisher in the paint. Odom is a little more versatile. Boozer's not a great defender, so both will likely put up nice numbers on each other.

Advantage: Jazz


Mehmet Okur vs. Pau Gasol

Gasol fits in perfectly to the Laker system. He's a little quicker than Okur and better at post-ups and back-to-the-basket scoring. Okur's a great 3-point shooter and will force Gasol to play out on him, opening up the floor for Boozer. Okur is capable of playing good defense against big men (see Okur on Yao last year) but you never know when he's actually going to do it.

Advantage: Lakers


Ronnie Price, Kyle Korver, Matt Harpring & Paul Millsap vs. Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton & DJ Ilunga-Mbenga.

The two deepest benches in the West. Each unit plays very well at home, but the Lakers bench tends to produce better on the road than the Jazz bench does on the road. Farmar allows Fisher to take nice rests on the bench, whereas Price only plays about four minutes a game unless he's doing really well. Korver's a better shooter than Vujacic, although hasn't proven yet in the playoffs. Harpring's stronger but Walton's quicker and has been lights-out from outside. Millsap and Mbenga is a pretty even match-up, and while Mbenga's taller, I'd still give the rebounding edge to Millsap. If it goes to a tenth man, Jarron Collins and Ronny Turiaf are fairly evenly matched. If Bynum comes back, this changes, but...

Advantage: Toss-up


Jerry Sloan vs. Phil Jackson

Sloan has zero rings; Jackson has nine.

Advantage: Lakers


The Lakers have home-court advantage. The Lakers are one of the few teams that won in Utah this year. The Jazz's offense, which has been stifled by the Rockets' stingy defense, should run a little smoother against the Lakers. You never know if Andrew Bynum can come back and play in this series. You also never know if Fisher's foot or Bryant's pinky might get re-injured. Or Deron's tailbone. Were I a conspiracy theorist, I'd say David Stern would love to see the Lakers make it to the Finals.

Prediction: Either the Lakers in 7 or the Jazz in 6. In that order.

Hornets - Spurs series

Looking ahead to the Hornets - Spurs series.


Chris Paul vs. Tony Parker

CP3 has been outstanding in the playoffs, but so has Tony Parker. Paul yanked the torch out of Jason Kidd's hand, and Parker yanked it out of Steve Nash's hand. They're roughly the same size. As good as Paul is, I have a hard time counting out Parker.

Advantage: Toss-up


Morris Peterson vs. Michael Finley

I know Michael Finley's the starter, but it really doesn't matter what the line-up says. Manu comes in after about five minutes of clock and plays the bulk of the minutes, and this year the Spurs Big 3 have produced like nobody's business. Finley splits time between the 2 and 3 with Manu. Strictly between Peterson and Finley, it's pretty close.

Advantage: Toss-up


Peja Stoyakovic vs. Bruce Bowen

Peja's been resurrected in New Orleans, and while Bowen is still a good defender, he's not as fast as he used to be, nor is his 3-point shot there as often as it used to be.

Advantage: Hornets


David West vs. Tim Duncan

West became an All-Star this year, and he's really good at shooting over his man and moving without the ball. But Tim Duncan is arguably the best power forward to ever play the game.

Advantage: Spurs


Tyson Chandler vs. Fabricio Oberto

Chandler is a tremendous defender and great at catching alley-oop passes from Parker. Oberto is a seven-footer than can take up space and set screens.

Advantage: Hornets


Jannero Pargo, Bonzi Wells, Julian Wright & Hilton Armstrong vs. Manu Ginobili, Brent Barry, Jacque Vaughn & Kurt Thomas.

The Spurs bench ain't what it used to be, but since Ginobili's on it, it's the best bench in the playoffs.

Advantage: Spurs


Byron Scott vs. Gregg Popovich

I'm seeing a trend here with the Western coaches still in the playoffs. They've all been to the NBA Finals before. Scott's been great with this team, but Pops has four rings.

Advantage: Spurs


The Hornets play fearless and have home court advantage. The Spurs have won four of the last nine championships and know how to close out close games. Were I conspiracy theorist, I'd say David Stern would love to see the Hornets face the Lakers in the Western Conference finals, but it's always dangerous to count out the Spurs. Then again, they only win their championships in odd-numbered years.

Prediction: The Spurs in 6 or the Hornets in 7. In that order.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Bill O'Reilly - Hillary Clinton interview

O'Reilly's sit-down with Clinton was the most substantive, issue-oriented interview I've seen all year. I think every other reporter who's ever been given one-on-one access to a presidential candidate can learn from it. He had a relaxed, respectful manner. He engaged her, he reworded questions if she tried to dodge, but if she wriggled after the same question three times, he moved on. Meanwhile, she put forth actual plans and policies. Whether or not anyone who watches agrees with them, they now have specifics in front of them on what she plans to do.

He's hyping his John McCain interview; I'll be interested to see if he can match what he did this week.