Friday, April 07, 2006

Things to do as a has-been gets "lucky."

- When did Josh Hartnett stop being famous? Was it PEARL HARBOR? (That would make sense. That movie brought everyone's stock down, even mine, and all I did was watch the thing.) Maybe it was HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE with Harrison Ford, which only succeeded at being excessively boring. (More like HOLLYWOOD CAREER SUICIDE.) Anyway, his latest attempt to regain notoreity is the con movie, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, which opens in theaters this weekend. It co-stars, startlingly, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman, and friends who've seen it tell me that it's good. (Reviewers appear to have a different opinion.) I suppose Hartnett deserves another chance at fame. I mean, it's not like PEARL HARBOR was his fault.

- Former child star Joseph Gordon Levitt has shown surprising depth and talent in his last couple projects, particularly MYSTERIOUS SKIN. His latest independent movie, BRICK, opens today at the Landmark, and its premise sounds sorta cool. It's a high school take on '30s detective noir novels, like Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON. Levitt plays an outsider kid who starts to investigate criminal gangs at his school after his ex goes missing.
- Tonight at 7:30, gay author Stephen McCauley will do a reading from his new book ALTERNATIVES TO SEX and then sign books. McCauley's a very good writer, and I read his novel,THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION, in the '90s during a rare collision in my "I'm going to read books about gay people" and "I'm going to read books that are about to be movies" period. (Vic, at the time, said those were the only sorts of books I read. Unfortunately, McCauley's really good book was turned into a pretty bad Jennifer Aniston movie that managed to miss the point of the book entirely. I'm going to the signing tonight with my worn copy of OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION, hoping he'll sign it for me.

- Dear Hollywood: Pardon me, but who in the fuck greenlighted the new movie BENCHWARMERS? Who the fuck thought that putting the individually annoying Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder TOGETHER in a movie would be a good idea??? Movies like this seem like they were designed as a joke, a film that will show in Hell for all eternity. Sincerely, Disgruntled Moviegoer.

- Antonio Banderas stars as an inspirational, inner-city dance instructor in TAKE THE LEAD. The previews make it look like the ballroom, non-Catholic version of SISTER ACT 2. I suppose there are worse movies out there, like BASIC INSTINCT 2, but what is the appeal of this? The dancing? Antonio Banderas looking old? The smart-aleck, rebel, ethnic kids everyone's given up on ... who learn to believe in themselves?

- I checked the movie listings, and, sadly, it looks like this week is your last chance to see LARRY THE CABLE GUY: HEALTH INSPECTOR in local theaters. Frankly, this title just baffles me. Is he supposed to be a cable guy AND a health inspector? I can suspend my disbelief for movies about alien invasions and decent politicians and such, but I just can't grasp the idea that this idiot would be hired by a cable company or the state.

- Last night, as it often happens, some customers came in and started talking to me about old movies. After the usual check to see if I was a "real movie fan" or not, they proceeded to talk to me about the '50s melodramas directed by the brilliant Douglas Sirk. The only one they'd seen was Lana Turner's fabulous tearjerker IMITATION OF LIFE, which is rightfully one of the favorite movies of every woman and gay man I know. Sirk's movies were always these rich, beautiful, over-the-top soap operas that critics either consider stupid or brilliant. (Shalewa told me last night that she was able to watch IMITATION OF LIFE all the way through without crying, which prompted her mother to ask her, "Are you HUMAN?") For the customers, I recommended Sirk's WRITTEN ON THE WIND, a drama about an oil magnate's twisted family starring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack and a nymphomaniac Dorothy Malone. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, is also available from Criterion Collection. Of course, director Todd Haynes filmed a mock Sirk film a couple years ago, and it's equally as cheesy and fabulous. That one's FAR FROM HEAVEN, which starred Julianne Moore as a '50s housewife torn between her gay husband (Dennis Quaid) and her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert). Not only does Moore have to figure out what to do with her love life, she also has to cope with what the neighbors might think. It's a really good movie.
- Next Friday at 2:30 p.m., I will be reading my essay, "Prayer of the Waffle House Faithful" at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta. My presentation is part of the national joint conference of the American Cultural Association and Popular Culture Association. According to the website, if you pay five bucks at the door, you can come to the panel, which will feature essays on the Southern experience. Thus far, a lot of my friends have told me they would come, and that really excites me. I think this reading is going to be something special.

- My friend Michael, who works at TBS, alerted me to these LORD OF THE RINGS promos they're airing. Seriously, check them out. It confirms everything you've ever secretly thought about Sam and Frodo's bond.
- Thanks to iTunes, I've been able to listen to Natasha Bedingfield's song UNWRITTEN without having to undergo the shame of owning such a CD. Of course, I like the song because it features my favorite thing, a writing metaphor. (For that same reason, I also like Elvis Costello's EVERY DAY I WRITE THE BOOK and Cake's SHADOW STABBING.) Anyway, I know Natasha Bedingfield is overdone pop, but I can't help liking that song. Its book-as-metaphor thing wins me over. For obvious reasons, it speaks to me through the cheese. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: So, if your life were a TV show, what would be your theme song, and why? Heck, if your life were a TV show, what kind of show would it be? Sitcom? Daytime drama? Failed pilot?

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