Monday, March 26, 2007

Three Neglected Leading Ladies

If Tarantino can build a career on remembering who Travolta was supposed to be, I can build my magnificent future as a famour writer / director on knowing about these three leading ladies. All three have been forgotten or neglected by Hollywood, and each of them can carry a film a damn spot better than most of those bitches out there.

Diana Rigg
Sexy, British, and, in the best Bond film ever, the only woman to ever successfully lure James Bond in to a marriage (it didn't last), Diana Rigg apparently didn't make it past hosting "Mystery!" because at some point in the '60s, people realized she had small breasts.

Now, she has reached that delicate age that no one writes parts for. This is because all writers are all struggling men in their 20s who don't think there are enough struggling men in their 20s on the big screen.

I read in some film book or another that the way to get good actors is to write movies with older people in them. What we need is an over-60 spy heroine; maybe Tara Chase in 2047.

Lori Petty
I'd say I had a crush on Lori Petty since the first moment I saw her, but it would be more accurate to say I've had a crush on Lori Petty since I first heard her voice.

Petty has that little-girl-who-will-kick-your-ass voice that I find just awesome. Very suited for the-tougher-than-Keanu girlfriend in Point Break (best California chase sequence ever), Tank Girl (which got me in to Gorillaz) and Kit the Little Sister in League of Their Own, who was so much cooler than Geena Davis.

Most recently, MCTR and I saw her in Route 666. Sigh. Someone give this girl a feature film break.

Karen Allen
Karen Allen was the star of Raiders of the Lost Arc, and she blew any subsequent Indy girls right out of the water.

Allen could carry any story in her eyes, and what eyes! I've seen people with those deep, blue, almost luminescent eyes since then, but they have never failed to take me by surprise. She's also got that wonderful combination of toughness and vulnerability that makes any one of these three neglected actresses the perfect foil for a feature film.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should also mention that she was in Animal House. And, er, Starman.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hoping for Raines

I'm a big fan of the NBC, and they've got a new show called Raines. Jeff Goldblum is a cop who imagines he sees the victims of his murders. Each new murder, there's a new figment of his imagination. He solves the murder, the imagining of the victim goes away.

I've been needing a new cop show since the death of Cop Rock, so I checked out the pilot and so far, so good. I'm going to keep watching, partly 'cuz Jeff Goldblum is still cool, and partly because I have a secret wish for Raines embedded in my heart like so much love shrapnel. I want it to come true, not just for me, but for all of T.V..

Here is my very small (and, I'm sure, ultimately futile) hope for Raines: that some of his murders go unsolved.

In New York City, roughly 30% of murders go unsolved. Let's say that Jeff Goldblum does an extraordinary job and 10% of his murders go unsolved. That means that at some point in the next ten episodes, Jeff Goldblum is going to pick up an imaginary victim that will not go away.

Raines already has an imaginary sidekick, so this would have to be someone who isn't just a cheerleader. There's a lot of potential for drama here. Being haunted by an imagined victim is classic stuff, and it's given us some classic T.V..

What if this permanent imaginary victim were someone charming? Someone crazy? What about someone who knew Raines before? Someone who's murder will take years to solve, even while other murder victims show up and disappear? Raines' perception of his victims changes as he learns more about the case - maybe by the time he can make an arrest, he won't want to lose his imaginary victim.

I know that it's too much to ask for a new, permanent character every two-thirds of a season, especially when that character's main function will be to drive the protagonist crazy. I know that everything on network T.V. has to wrap up neat and clean by the end of each stand-alone show, exactly the same as it was before. But, come on, if Raines has any balls at all, documenting Jeff Goldblum's slow descent in to madness has got to be at least an occasional theme. Why not run with it?

I know you don't have the guts to do it, but I still have hope for you, television. I'll watch until you can make me stop hoping.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fascists Suck

Due to various suggestions, I decided to see Pan's Labyrinth. What I liked most about the movie is that Spanish fascists were the villains.*

To villainize is inherently distortive. In fiction, translating an actual person or group into a villain can make them comical or cartoonish - certainly not keeping with understanding the true intricacies of the potential for evil inherent in all of us.

But, that said, some people are just asking for it.

Nazis have been done well, redone well and now they're just done (although awhile back a bunch of webcomics participated in a make fun of Hitler day, and that was kind of genius.)

Plenty of other fascists are out there! Pan's Labyrinth was decent (and I understand how it's relevant to the whole magic-that-can-happen discussion), but it by no means exploited Spanish fascist villainy to the fullest possible extent. The film's villain was a jerk who starts bad and stays bad - not the sort of character arc you get from the best villains. Consider Spanish fascists fair game.

Also, feel free to make fun of Stalin. Stalin is great to make fun of! I am generally too well-schooled on post-modern entertainment theory to go so far as to recommend a movie to anybody, much less everybody (and how many people can say that?) However, more people need to see Children of the Revolution because it's brilliant and I can't seem to have a discussion of either Stalin or the Red Scare without talking about it, and then I need to say that it's really funny and to explain the whole plot, and that is very difficult to do.

Plenty of dictators have proven to be great villain fodder in the past. There's still space for villainizing Idi Amin, pre-hanging Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Margaret Thatcher, the Taliban, any Roman dictator you can imagine, and many, many more.

Get on it, writers of the internet! Villains abound!

*What I liked least about Pan's Labyrinth was the translation of the title. The title's really "The Faun's Labyrinth" - Pan don't entaintait.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Terrible, Terrible Movies

Mission Impossible II inspired this little gem. All in all, over 300 hours of my life that I will never get back.

Last updated 10/21/07

2 Days in the Valley

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
American History X
Anger Management
Arsenic and Old Lace
Austin Powers: Goldmember

Bad Boys
Barb Wire
Batman Forever
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000
Beverly Hills Cop III
The Big Chill
Big Fish
The Birds
Black Sheep
Blade II
Blues Brothers 2000
Breaking Up
Broken Arrow
Bringing Down the House
But I'm a Cheerleader

Cabin Boy
Chelsea Walls
City of Angels
The Cooler
Cop and a Half
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

D2: The Mighty Ducks
Dancing at the Blue Iguana
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Days of Thunder
Death Becomes Her
Deep Impact
Desperately Seeking Susan
Die Another Day
Dirty Dancing
Dirty Harry
The Distinguished Gentleman
Down to Earth
Dr. Dolittle 2

Enemy of the State
Eyes Wide Shut

Finding Forrester
The Firm
First Knight
Forget Paris
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money
From Here to Eternity

Galaxy Quest
The General's Daughter
Gods and Monsters
The Golden Child
Gone in 60 Second
Gone With the Wind
Yeah, that's right - Gone With the Wind
Grumpier Old Men

Heavy Weights
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Hollywood Ending
House of 1,000 Corpses

Independence Day
Intolerable Cruelty

Johnny Mnemonic
Jury Duty
Just Cause

King Ralph
A Knight's Tale

L'Auberge Espagnole
The Ladykillers (2004)
Lawnmower Man
Legally Blonde
Lethal Weapon
The Librarian
Lord of War
Lost in Space
Love Potion No. 9
Lucky Number Slevin

Major League
Man on Fire
The Man Who Wasn't There
The Mask of Zorro
The Matrix Revolutions
Meet Joe Black
Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible II
Muppets From Space
Music From Another Room
Mystery Men

Natural Born Killers
The Negotiator
The Net
Never Been Kissed

Ocean's Twelve
The Odd Couple (1968)
An Officer and a Gentleman
Old School
Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Patch Adams
The Phantom Menace
The Pillow Book
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Plan Nine From Outer Space
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Play It Again, Sam
Point of No Return
Poison Ivy
The Postman
Practical Magic

The Quick and the Dead

Real Women Have Curves
The Road to Perdition
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Roger & Me
Roll Bounce
Route 666
The Rugrats Movie
Runaway Bride
Runaway Jury
The Running Man

Serial Mom
Silent Movie
Sixteen Candles
The Sixth Sense
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sling Blade
Small Time Crooks
Something's Gotta Give
The Sound of Music
Spice Girls
Spy Games
Spy Kids
Summer of Sam
The Sure Thing

Talladega Nights
The Terminal
Thank You for Smoking
There's Something About Mary
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
Three Kings
Tommy Boy
Top Gun
Total Recall
True Romance
Two Weeks Notice

Velvet Goldmine
A Very Brady Sequel
The Virgin Suicides

What About Bob?
Where the Buffalo Roam
While You Were Sleeping
Wild Things
Wild Wild West
The World is Not Enough

X-Men II

Friday, March 09, 2007

Most Underrated Democrat for '08

The most underrated candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Here's why:

1) He's a hell of a guy.
Richardson has been a congressman, UN ambassador (and not the evil kind), and energy secretary. All this while never pissing off his constituents.

Richardson has always been popular in New Mexico, a diverse and poor state that has always been tough to govern. These are the people who know him best.

2) He has extensive foreign policy experience.
Many presidential candidates have bet on their foreign policy appeal and lost; domestic policy seems to win elections much more handily. However, if there's ever an election where foreign policy is going to be an issue, this is it.

Richardson has been to Iraq. He's been to North Korea. He's been to the UN. And, unlike Bush, he did all this before he ran for the most important foreign policy position in America and arguably the world.

3) Governors win presidential elections.
Senators lose them. A governor is sort of a mini-president: he has to manage a legislative branch, an economy, a diverse constituency.

A senator is a national policy maker, but the politics of Washington are much different than the politics of the country - there's an inherent disconnect there.

Historically, governors have beaten senators in presidential races (total number of senators elected president: two.) Governors also tend to be presidents who are effective at accomplishing their goals.

4) Latinos are constantly gaining importance as a voting block.
The "day without an immigrant" was a turning point for Latinos as a unified and outspoken voting block. Latinos are the fastest-growing minority in the U.S., and they're swing voters in large states and important swing states like Florida. Latinos are going to get more and more important in presidential elections.

5) Nothing is decided.
So the only people you're hearing about are Clinton, Obama and Edwards. Who gives a shit? In 1991 all we were hearing about was Mario Cuomo (at least, that's what I saw in the Doonesbury archives. I was 10.)

We've got months before we can decide for sure who are the serious contenders.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

NY f'in T[imes]

I am a life-long reader of the New York Times, but I am starting to understand the inherent limits of a paper of record.

Last Thursday on the train, I was browsing the Metro section and I noticed that it was a particularly strong day for local news. I read about witnesses getting scared off murder cases because it reminded me of a major plot thread in The Wire (like many sheltered white guys, everything I know about drug-related violence, I learned from The Wire).

Then I read about pedicabs, because, seriously, who are those guys? Then I read about someone who's going around destroying street art, which reminded me of this thing that happened at school.

So I reach my destination, and as I'm leaving the train, I notice the front page of someone's New York Post. The headline is HOUSE OF PAIN: $3 Million Estate an 'S&M Lair'.

I think, "Oh, yeah. That's what I was supposed to be reading."

ribble's Weather

It is snowing again in New York City. Some lady told me it was Winter's last gasp, but I'm accustomed to Winter turning a last gasp in to a horrid downpour of freezing-cold pain.

I read yesterday about a Chicago janitor who wrote a 16,000 page book. He thought that the weather was God's domain and humanity had no business trying to predict it. He kept an extensive journal of yesterday's predictions matched against what the weather actually was.

Weather may be God's domain, but man is responsible for doing what he can to survive it.

I have written before about the weather in Wales. In summary, it is almost always raining, but not in any decisive way. It's more than a drizzle but nothing bold enough to be a downpour, which I always considered wishy-washy and annoying.

Rain in Wales was always accompanied by a deeply bitter wind that went though your clothes and skin and straight through to your soul. A section of my soul will always be frostbitten by my time in Wales.

I had a Welsh girlfriend at school, and she was the one who taught me how to be comfortable in the rain.

When it starts to rain and we are without an umbrella, most of us tend to hunch over and lift our shoulders, as if we are sheltering a baby strapped to the front of our chests, although we rarely are.

My Welsh girlfriend pointed out that this reflex was pointless. The rain will hit us at the same rate, and no particularly important body part is being sheltered.

By relaxing my shoulders and standing up straight, I found that, although I wasn't staying any drier, I at least felt better about my situation.

Heat and Humidity
Some people, often people from Southern states, think of Texas as having a dry heat. It does not; it's humid as all fuck. In San Antonio, I usually attribute this to a river running through the city, but the San Antonio River is a lot smaller than San Antonio - it doesn't seem like it could do all that on its own.

Another family member has a theory involving swimming pools.

The heat in Texas is awful. At some point, it becomes impossible to function. You cannot walk from your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned big box store without sobbing in pain and exhaustion until you eventually give up.

Growing up in Texas, I learned two good strategies for dealing with the heat. Second, there is a particular way to stick to the shadows outdoors. Walk on the shady side of the street. Stand in the shadow of a street sign while you wait at the corner. Do anything to keep even a portion of the sun away.

But first, don't go outdoors in the first place. San Antonio has an excellent cooling infrastructure. It is where I developed my weaknesses for central air and ceiling fans. It is also where I developed my instinct for hiding inside whenever it gets pretty out.

Some people prefer heat, some cold. I will take heat over cold any day of the week. I mean, this city is all pavement, and it does get hot, but I cannot tell you the number of times that I've rolled out of bed already sweating, suffered many of the symptoms of heat exhaustion on the one-block walk to the subway, and ended up dehydrated and half dead in Hell's Kitchen and still said, quite truthfully, that it still wasn't as bad as the heat in Texas.

Cold and Snow
Once, in Wales, a friend recorded my reading a short piece about the cold in New York for a project she was doing on accents. I liked it so much, I gave her two readings - my standard, post-television American, and my best Brooklynese. My favorite line was "New Yorkers deal with the cold in two ways - they dress for it, and they talk about it."

Because it never snowed and rarely froze in San Antonio (once every three years when it does freeze, they have to shut down the whole city because everyone drives their trucks off the highway), I gained my first real experience with cold and snow at my high-pedigree college in the frozen North of these United States.

My school had long ago determined that the key to fighting a long winter was large, open spaces with lots of light. When I got to New York, I made a big deal about finding them.

I did okay, but I've still got a serious problem with the heat in my apartment. This is a deal-breaker: by next winter, I'm out of here. Or I'm buying a space heater.

One last thing: I realized when I started thinking about this as my "annual post about the weather" that my blog will be one year old in exactly one week.

I am not sure if it's improved.

Monday, March 05, 2007

ribble's Bio

The bio I wrote for this month's First Sundays program.

Richard (First Sundays Producer) was exiled from the New York suburbs, grew up in Texas, fled the country for an odd and obscure school in Wales, then went to college in the frozen American North. He moved to Brooklyn after school and became a journalist, then a finance guy, then a producer, then a lackey, and then a producer again. He aspires to some combination of making movies and having steady, respectable work, and he cannot watch a movie without trying to guess the budget.

More and more of my compatriots from my odd and obscure Welsh school are finding their way here, so I figured I'd post it. "And then a producer again" is a snowclone from Minds, except that snowclones are supposed to be common, and that one's pretty obscure.