Saturday, February 22, 2003


HBO debuted a couple of new late-night shows last night -- "Real Time With Bill Maher" and "Da Ali G Show". I was actually working, if you can believe it, and did not get to see them. Thankfully, the resident TV critic at Salon did. Hey, it's Saturday, so sit back, relax, and read it here. Pamper yourself. You deserve it.

Friday, February 21, 2003


My Film Geek Friend got me to enter a year-long movie geek game this week. The "Producers Game" is like a fantasy league for movies, where you are asked to forecast the upcoming year in film. You are provided a packet of 2003 Sneaks, which lists almost every movie coming out during the year with loglines, participants, distributors, and likely release dates. You are not confined to choosing from the movies that are listed, so if you uncover an omission in your research, you might attain some form of competitive advantage. Just as in sports fantasy leagues, there are some known quantities, but a lot of it is educated guesswork. So, I read through the packet, did some cursory research, meditated, flipped a few coins, then made my picks. Without much in the way of insider information, I found myself choosing to champion certain movies on sheer instinct alone. After all, the prevailing motto in this town amongst cynics is: "Nobody knows anything." Without furthur adieu, here are the categories and my predictions:

Top Ten Box Office Hits
1. The Matrix: Reloaded
2. The Matrix: Revolutions
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
4. The Hulk
5. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
6. Bruce Almighty
7. Finding Nemo
8. Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat
9. The Last Samurai
10. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Number One Movie of the Summer
My pick: The Matrix: Reloaded
Reason: Groundbreaking effects. Highly anticipated summer sequel.

Alternate: The Hulk

Number One Christmas Movie
My pick: The Matrix: Revolutions
Reason: Groundbreaking effects. Momentum from Reloaded.

Alternate: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Ten Academy Award Nominated Films
(any category acceptable)
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Cold Mountain
3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. The Alamo
6. J.M. Barrie's Neverland
7. Mona Lisa Smile
8. The Matrix: Reloaded
9. The Matrix: Revolutions
10. The Last Samurai

Alternate: Intolerable Cruelty

Five Best Actor/Supporting Actor Nominations
1. Russell Crowe -- Master and Commander
2. Jude Law -- Cold Mountain
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman -- Cold Mountain
4. Jim Carrey -- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. Dustin Hoffman -- Neverland

Alternate: Cuba Gooding -- Radio

Five Best Actress/Supporting Actress Nominations
1. Julia Roberts -- Mona Lisa Smile
2. Nicole Kidman -- Cold Mountain
3. Kate Winslet -- Neverland
4. Samantha Morton -- In America
5. Gwyneth Paltrow -- Untitled Sylvia Plath Project

Alternate: Keisha Castle-Hughes -- Whale Rider

Best Director Nominations
1. Peter Jackson -- TLOTR: The Return of the King
2. Anthony Minghella -- Cold Mountain
3. Peter Weir -- Master and Commander
4. Andy and Larry Wachowski -- The Matrix: Revolutions
5. Marc Forster -- Neverland

Alternate: Lars Von Trier -- Dogville

Worst Picture Nominated Films (as determined by the Golden Rasberry Awards)
1. From Justin to Kelly
2. The Haunted Mansion
3. Gigli
4. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
5. Freddy vs. Jason

Alternate: Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights

Best Picture Nominated Films
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Cold Mountain
3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
4. Neverland
5. Mona Lisa Smile

Alternate: The Alamo

Best Picture
And the winner is: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Reason: Because it's time to annoint Peter Jackson and honor the trilogy.

Alternate: Cold Mountain

You are also encouraged to submit a list of your Top Five Favorite Films of 2002, but that part is optional and doesn't count toward the competition.

My Top Five Favorite Films of 2002
1. Adaptation
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
3. The Hours
4. About Schmidt
5. Y Tu Mama Tambien

Thursday, February 20, 2003


Wednesday, February 19, 2003


I took the first step to breaking my reality television habit on Monday night. Instead of staying home to watch the "Joe Millionaire" finale, I went to see a movie instead. Some might say that's just replacing one addiction with another, but it's progress. I didn't even tape it. Of course, I knew My Girl was recording on TiVo and called her as soon as I got home to find out what had happened. When she told me that Evan had picked Zora and the twist was the show cutting them a check for a million bucks, I was glad I didn't watch it. Everyone I know who did watch it said it was boring. And, having watched most of the previous episodes, that doesn't surprise me much. Counting last week's recap show and the first hour of the final episode featuring the girls yapping about their experience, they took what should have been a one hour finale and stretched it into three hours. Plus, the reunion show next week. But, despite that, the ratings were through the roof, with nearly the same amount of viewers tuning in to the finale as last year's Academy Awards ceremony. I'm taking pride in the fact that I cannot be counted amongst that huge chunk of Americans who can say that they saw the finale of "Joe Millionaire."

Instead, I went to go see "The Pianist" and was engaged, engrossed, even mesmerized by the extremely well-executed WWII movie. Adrien Brody, a personal favorite from "Summer of Sam" and "Liberty Heights," gave a vividly sympathetic performance that was vital to the story, which was strictly told from the title character's point-of-view. It's not an easy movie to stomach, but it grabs you, shakes you, and doesn't let you go. Save for the occassional cough, there was absolutely no noise and no talking during the screening. Of course, the Holocaust is such a solemn and monumentally painful subject that it's hard to gear yourself up to go see movies like this, but "The Pianist" is ultimately a story of survival. Unlike most Jews living in Poland at the time, Wladyslaw Szpilman made it out alive, and it was his autobiography that was the basis for the movie. It's important that these kinds of movies keep getting made to remind us of both the potential for great evil and even greater good that lie within us. And they teach us never to forget. We must never forget. I feel like I did something absolutely worthwhile with my Monday evening by seeing this movie and remembering. It was satisfying. Much more so than feeding my addiction by grasping for a voyeuristic thrill and a cheap fix, then hating myself afterwards.


The Hot Button's passion for "Adaptation" is contagious. I finally got around to reading Poland's scene-by-scene breakdown of the film, publsihed in three parts -- Act I, Act II, Act III -- and I caught the fever. I had to see it again. So, this weekend, I saw "Adaptation" at The Grove for the second time. Poland's take on the movie illuminated a level that I sort of missed when I first saw it. I wouldn't say I missed the level entirely, but I didn't delve into it nearly as deeply as Poland's review does. I loved "Adaptation" the first time, and armed with an added layer of understanding and appreciation, I loved it just as much the second time. I overreacted to "The Hours" and placed it above "Adaptation" on my Golden Dozen List for 2002, but "Adaptation" is unquestionably my favorite movie of the year. I would venture to say it's brilliant, especially the screenplay, which should win the Oscar and give the movie its just due. Chris Cooper will probably take home the little bald gold guy for Best Supporting Actor as well. Those wins would be more than justified, given that the best film of 2002 wasn't even nominated for Best Picture.

Warning: Poland's review may be full of insight, but it's also full of proofreading errors. If you've seen the movie once, you'll be able to navigate your way through the mistakes. For instance, when Poland writes "Charlie is dead," you'll figure out that he meant to write "Donald is dead." I wish he would have proofread the piece carefully, because the errors detract from an otherwise outstanding dissection of a complicated film. I still believe it's a worthwhile read. I'm confident you'll want to see the movie again after reading it, unless you're smarter than me and got the whole thing on the first go-round. If you have not seen "Adaptation" yet, I recommend you see it first before reading the spoiler-filled review. And by all means, go see it, the box office take is still far below what it should be for a movie of this quality.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003


Using shrewd deductive reasoning, I have concluded that the web page claiming to contain a picture of my penis was a hoax. The penis in the picture does not belong to me. My girlfriend certainly didn't post it. My mom didn't even send it. Some practical joker/hacker somehow made it appear that the email was coming from my mother, but when questioned, my mother didn't know anything about it. I smelled foul play. When I took a closer look at the penis in question, I realized that the web page had been altered to purposely attribute the sad schlong to me. Following some lengthly research, at long last I unearthed the original page. I'm not sure if this Schiffer fellow was responsible for the hoax or not, but my deepest sympathies go out to him if that is indeed a picture of his pathetic putz.

Monday, February 17, 2003


On Friday night, a very good film geek friend and Piker enthusiast convinced My Girl and I to attend a midnight movie at The Nuart. The only thing he told us about "The Apple" was that it's so bad it turns deliciously good. Taking his vague description and obvious excitement on faith, we ventured into West L.A. minutes before midnight. Lo and behold, many many more film geeks got wind of the special screening, the first of this campy musical in 20 years! It was a scene. "Dimented and sad, but social." The massive throng waited patiently and in an orderly fashion, as the line wound its way around the corner. Hurriedly, I dropped My Film Geek Friend and My Girl off at the entrance and desperately searched for a parking spot. After finally finding a legitimate place to leave my car, I rushed to find my crew in line. After scanning the entire length of the line, I still had not found them. Then I realized that was the line for the box office! Another line of movie goobers was making its way around the opposite corner of the theater, all the way down the alley, anxiously waiting for the opportunity to enter and score some seats. Luckily, I found My Film Geek Friend (MFGF) and My Girl in the seat line and was reunited with my crew. Just in time too. Apparently, My Film Geek Friend was so amped up by the scene, he was driving My Girl mad, rapidly ranting how we were part of the beginning of something special... the creation of a new Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. At long last, the line began to move and within moments a big-haired big guy was ripping our ticket stubs. MFGF sprinted into the theater and corraled us some prime seats. A few minutes later, the big-haired big guy was standing on the little stage in front of the screen and counting down the top-drawing midnight movies in the Nuart's history, ramping up to the new #1, "The Apple", with a paid attendence of some 350 nerds. Apparently, the big-haired big guy worked very hard to get people to come see this movie and was astonished at just how successful his campaign had been. "How did you people find out?", asked the curious curator. I don't know how everyone else got there, but I sure know that MFGF was responsible for getting My Girl and I into that theater for what turned out to be an incredible movie experience. I now understand why MFGF did not and could not describe the movie to us beyond "It's so bad it's good." "The Apple" is jaw-droppingly rotten, so much so that you can't help but laugh out loud, shake your head, and ask "What were they thinking?" The answer to that question was provided by an opening reel of trailers by Golan-Globus, the producer-director team responsible for "The Apple" and other such dreck, including "Sword of the Barbarians" and "Schizoid." Their intentions were to collect as many overseas movie-going dollars as possible and nothing more. Little did they know, they were unintentionally creating cult classics in the process.