who dat? contest.
(yo stee. i know
Aimee Mann. Singer.
(A reader made a good point: how can the skinniest woman in the world manage to buy a shirt that's too small for her?)
first correct answer:
left column sad
I haven't been watching much TV for the last 3 months. This millennium in fact (which has been one fucked-up millennium in my world) has found me very seldom wanting to sit still for that long - able to sit still for that long, more like.
Which is fine by me.
All I watch these days really is Friends and ER. Occasionally I'll catch some Entertainment Tonight or a game on the weekend or the occasional movie on IFC or Sundance, but mostly if I'm in front of the TV I'm just watching movies.
However. On Thursday night I did catch the new ABC Peter Berg-created show called Wonderland. Fucking shit, man. This is a good show. And I hate to admit it. I don't like Peter Berg. I thought Very Bad Things was just Very Bad, and I never liked him in anything as an actor, but homeboy is a smart motherfucker. It's set in a mental hospital in NYC and while the writing is good and the plot engaging, I realized what makes hour dramas for me: Casting. The C.S.A. is right, they should give Emmys and Oscars for casting.
While ER and Chicago Hope were not the same show, they did both take place in Chicago Hospitals. What made ER instantly more interesting for me was the cast. I like Mandy Patinkin and Hector Elizando as much as the next guy, but they don't hold a candle to what Anthony Edwards and Clooney had going. (I told you Clooney always wins.) Well, this is partially what makes Wonderland, at least at first viewing, aside from the inherent drama of the Shaky-Cam: the casting. Ted Levine ("It rubs the lotion on its skin and puts the lotion in the basket. Put the lotion in the basket!!!") is just riveting. Stunning in this. Martin Donovan just looks like the most humorless but intense man in the world, and as his wife, I'm liking Michelle Forbes more than I have in anything since Swimming With Sharks. I didn't get to know the rest of the cast that well, but they didn't hit a false note.
But what's really exciting about a show like this is the ripe nature of the guest spots. I mean, shit, actors LOVE to play crazy. Even more than sick (read: ER). And I have to say this: Jay O. Sanders rocks. He guest-starred on the pilot as a lovesick lawyer who tried to off himself. Holy shit is this guy good. When I saw Tumbleweeds, I was incredibly impressed how simple and honest his performance was. Well now I've seen the complex side. He's amazing. This is what I want: for the show to find a way to make him a permanent cast member, like they did with my other girlfriend Julianna Margulies after she almost died as a guest star on the ER pilot. Bring the fucker back.
Then I went to see High Fidelity this weekend. Again: the casting ruled. It's a pretty faithful adaptation, even though they moved it from England to Chicago. The script that Cusack and his New Crime pals turned out worked very well. It retained of lot of the great writing of the novel - putting much of it into direct-to-camera narration which actually worked fine here. They did fuck up a few of my favorite jokes from the book, but then added some new ones. Cusack is terrific. Seriously. That boy makes the most consistently entertaining and original romantic comedies in the business. Fuck Nora Ephron. This and Grosse Pointe Blank make You've Got Mail look like... well, like the pile of lame horseshit that it is.
But what really made this movie is this: Jack Black and Todd Louiso. They play the two record-nerd employees at Cusack's record store. Jack Black is from the band/late tv show Tenacious D and many a film, and Todd Louiso was the jazz-loving nanny in Jerry Maguire. They are both just fantastic. Shows you what good casting can do for a film.
Lastly, I was watching a tape I had that I'd never watched of the recent Showtime/William Friedkin update of 12 Angry Men. Obviously something like this - 12 guys locked in a jury room butting heads - needs an extraordinary cast. And I think they only got it half right.
Right: Jack Lemmon, Ossie Davis (though I wish they'd given him a stronger character), James Gandolfini, Hume Cronyn, Courtney B. Vance, William Petersen.
Wrong: Mykelti Williamson, Tony Danza, George C. Scott, Dorian Harezwood.
Jack Lemmon is really really fantastically subtle as the sole hold-out for an innocent verdict. And the "right" guys play very well off of him. I realize three of the "wrongs" have the unenviable job of being the most vocal against Lemmon, but for some reason they just don't work. Williamson actually sucks. Danza is just Danza. George C. Scott is just being an even angrier George C. Scott than usual. They ruined things for me. But my god, is Jack Lemmon good. Really.
And while I'm giving all these casting people props, I realize that I should be mad at them instead... They didn't cast me in any of the above things.
...Unless my tax woman is on crack, and it's a distinct possibility, I'm getting the dopest tax refund in the world. More than I ever could have imagined. Easily four times better than I've ever gotten before. The IRS rules!
Valley Girl. She's a Valley Girl. Valley Girl. She's a Valley Girl. Okay, fine. Fer sure, fer sure. She's a Valley Girl. In a clothing store. Okay, fine... Fer sure, fer sure. She's a Valley Girl. In a clothing store. Like, OH MY GOD! (Valley Girl). Like - TOTALLY (Valley Girl). Encino is like SO BITCHEN (Valley Girl). There's like the Galleria (Valley Girl). And like all these like really great shoe stores. I love going into like clothing stores and stuff. I like buy the neatest mini-skirts and stuff. It s like so BITCHEN cuz like everybody's like super-super nice. It's like so BITCHEN. On Ventura, there she goes. She just bought some bitchen clothes. Tosses her head 'n flips her hair. She got a whole bunch of nothin in there... speaking of which... last week I had to go into the valley to buy a gift for my agent since she hasn't been, you know, getting me out much lately. There was a specific store where you could by this glass she collects, right? So I drive aaaaaall the way over Laurel Canyon and into Studio City only to find... her store is now a Starbucks. No fucking kidding. Well, the afternoon wasn't a total waste because I did get myself a Venti Raspberry Frap. Yup.
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