Archive | November, 2006

I Already Miss Her

28 Nov

As much as I knew one day my grandmother would die, when it happened this morning I still wasn’t ready.

To say we were tight would be an understatement. But then again, I’m sure all my cousins would say the same thing. We were lucky in that our grandmother treated us all like we were each the most important person in the world to her.

Likewise, that’s how I’d like to think I treated her. And it was true; she did mean that much to me. Continue reading

Christmas Is Coming

27 Nov

Thanksgiving: a weekend that is simultaneously too short and too long. How is that possible?

But anyway, now that we’re over that hump, we can start the countdown to Christmas. I’ve begun the season by finding an MP3 of Jamie Cullum singing “Let It Snow” (thanks to Cullumography.com). You can bet that it will be on A Very Marty Xmas 2006. And this past weekend I purchased both Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas and Aimee Mann’s One More Drifter in the Snow. Songs from both albums will definitely make it onto my CD as well. I know I have a hard act to follow after last year’s mix, but I’m feeling up to the challenge, and looking forward to choosing songs.

Got any suggestions, or know of songs I’ve missed in year’s past? You can assume my mixes have already dipped into the classics; last year I wrote about a “best of the box” mix that would probably include most of the obvious candidates. So what else should I know about? I’m open to ideas.

And for the record, I will not be changing the name of my mix to A Very Marty Holiday. Unlike the city of Boston, I know what should be called a “Christmas” symbol and what should be a more generic “holiday” symbol. I can’t believe that after last year’s brouhaha, it seems the whole thing is about to start up all over again. It’s just silly, if you ask me.

What About Bobby?

26 Nov

The show Company begins with Bobby’s friends all calling his name. “Bobby,” the various couples say, “come on over for dinner.”

And here’s how they sweeten the offer: it’ll “just be the three of us.”

Bobby is 35 years old and single. All his friends are married, and seem capable of only discussing the state of being married, their wedding, their kids, or worse, why Bobby isn’t married yet.

He is a perpetual third wheel or odd man out, and it’s not so much fun anymore for him.

Not surprisingly, his friends just don’t get it. They think that if Bobby isn’t married yet, and doesn’t seem to want to get married, there must be something wrong with him.

God forbid he just hasn’t met the right person yet, or maybe he’s just not ready. Continue reading

Just Call Me the Movie Nazi …

24 Nov

When I went to see Happy Feet the other day, it reminded me of my idea that movie theaters should reserve one screening each day of new animated movies for adults only. I’m not saying kids can’t see the movie, I’m just saying let there be one screening every day where kids — admittedly, the movies’ target audience — aren’t getting up at inopportune times, aren’t laughing at the “wrong” places, aren’t being restless and aren’t talking, and where the parents don’t show up with their brood right as the movie starts (after the trailers) and aren’t rushing out as soon as the movie is over (before the credits have even started).

I know all animated movies don’t have all-ages appeal, but for many (like Happy Feet, or the Toy Story or Shrek movies) the film works on more levels than just its animation, so I think this would be a fair arrangement. Parents could bring their children to every other screening but this one (and we all know that animated movies are shorter than average movies, so there are more screenings available), and it would be at a more adult-friendly time, like 7 p.m., so the no-kids policy shouldn’t be much of an issue. (No trailers for stupid kids movies would probably be asking too much, I’d imagine, so I’ll hold off on that one.)

If you think my idea is ridiculous, consider that many movie theaters have mom- and kid-friendly screenings of new movies, where the mothers can feel free to bring their children, and are permitted to nurse them during the movie. These are held at convenient, daytime hours, when “normal” moviegoers aren’t likely to have a problem with such things. And then, of course, there are movie theaters where ushers actually ush, and will keep chatty patrons quiet or will kick out disruptive folks. (Imagine that.) So I don’t think what I’m saying here is so out of line.

I might be willing to pay extra for this screening (not much more than two or three dollars, though), and I would even extend my suggestion to a screening of movies for “more sophisticated” audiences — ones who don’t talk during the show, who don’t mind a formal check to make sure their cell phones are off, who show better manners and common courtesy for their fellow moviegoers, and who treat the movie as more than just a way to spend two hours. This kind of thing is common in L.A. and New York (some theaters even have reserved seating). Why can’t it be common in Boston and around the country?

Who’s with me?

Thanks …

23 Nov

I have a lot to be thankful for this year — including Sam LaGrassa’s, my new brother-in-law, daily phone calls from L.A. at 4 p.m., movies like The Departed and Borat, a good job that I enjoy more now than I did a year ago, my Bubby, good friends, the blogger who posted MP3s from the upcoming movie Dreamgirls, weekly must-see TV in the form of Grey’s Anatomy and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the Oreo Surprise cookies from Paradise Bakery in the Pru, and so much more — but as it’s Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say thanks to all my readers, because while I’d keep writing this blog even if you weren’t reading, it’s more fun knowing you’re enjoying what I write. So, I hope you’ll keep coming back. Continue reading

C’Mon, Get Happy

22 Nov

Cross March of the Penguins with Moulin Rouge and you get Happy Feet, a movie that’s not as good as either one, but still has its pleasures. The story of Mumbles, a penguin who doesn’t fit in with the other penguins because he can’t sing, and instead of waddling he tap dances. Like in Moulin Rouge, the characters burst out in song anachronistically — they sing everything from Queen’s “Somebody to Love” to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” with a Beach Boys tune, a Prince song, and others thrown in for good measure — and for a while, this is kinda fun to watch. Eventually, though, Happy Feet turns from a cute little penguin movie to an environmental call for action and the last 10 minutes or so don’t make much sense (all things considered). Still, even though the movie doesn’t reach the zany heights that the trailer promised, it’s hard to deny that Happy Feet isn’t one of the coolest looking movies of the year. The snowy landscapes, the penguins dancing — it’s all rendered in very life-like fashion, in bright colors and with plenty of sweeping wide shots so you can take it all in. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for quite some time, and while the movie didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it was an enjoyable 90 minutes. So for that, I’ll give Happy Feet a B.

Poor Bobby

20 Nov

Robert Kennedy was a great man, and likely would have been a great president. Alas, when he was shot on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after winning the California primary, the world lost one of its great hopes for leadership. This is the message Bobby is trying to put across (not that I disagree with it), in a film meant to pay tribute to all that was lost on that tragic June day.

I think.

You see, Bobby is instead a rather pointless film about what was happening at the hotel the day Kennedy was shot. And in dramatizing that story, and showing the various people milling around, the film loses sight of its apparent purpose and instead becomes an ensemble piece about all these random, unrelated people, and not the man itself. In fact, perhaps writer/director Emilio Estevez should have called his movie Ambassador because it’s more a tribute to the hotel than the man. But even that’s not very good. Really, he’s made a bit of a mess with so many actors doing ther best to deliver Very Important Speeches and give Very Important Performances. And it’s just too cluttered to have much impact (one need look no further than Ashton Kutcher’s distracting, ill-fitting performance for proof).

Not that some in the ensemble don’t acquit themselves well. Sharon Stone, for one, gives a nice, understated performance. Freddy Rodriguez and Martin Sheen also do good work. And Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Fishburne imbue the film with gravitas, even if their roles are complete cliches. But Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, and others make Bobby feel like a very special, very serious, political episode of The Love Boat, or something silly like that.

I wish Bobby was actually about Bobby, and about how much he meant to people and how much we lost when we lost him. There’s evidence in a few scenes that Estevez might have done a nice job on that film if that was the direction he took. But things don’t always go as planned, and that’s why I have to give Bobby a C.

Not Award-Worthy

19 Nov

What a let-down. For Your Consideration had all the makings of a great Hollywood self-parody, but it falls a bit short of that. In fact, it’s safe to say that many of the film’s best laughs can be seen in the trailer. Granted, the scenes from Home for Purim, the film these characters are working on, are pretty funny. And Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Parker Posey, and Catherine O’Hara are all really good. But the trademark Christopher Guest, et al hilarity is replaced by sadness and disappointment here (and there’s an actual plot, miniscule though it may be), and that prevents the film from reaching the comic heights of A Mighty Wind and other films they’ve done. Wait for this one to show up on DVD. Oh well. I give For Your Consideration a B-.

Not Ready to Make Nice

18 Nov

When Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks told the crowd at a 2003 concert in London that she was ashamed President Bush was from Texas, little did she know the firestorm she would create and the effect that off-hand remark would have on the group’s career. The consequences are documented in Shut Up and Sing, a film that allows viewers to see how the Chicks didn’t whither under the criticism, and how instead, all the negativity directed toward them made the group stronger.

Shut Up & Sing doesn’t appear to have any purpose or agenda other than to show how the Chicks’ concerts, radio play, and next album were affected by Maines’ joke. Sure, that in itself gives the film a point-of-view, and Maines’ unapologetic nature is refreshing to see, given that most of what is fed to the public by actors, singers, etc. is usually meant to be politically correct and audience-pleasing. When country radio turns its back on the Chicks, Maines basically says, “screw ’em.” And when George Bush mocks the Chicks in an interview by saying they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt, she calls him a “dumb fuck.” But without the hindsight commentary present in many other documentaries, which would provide insight into what was happening, this allows the viewer to just go along for the ride and be a fly on the wall during the fallout.

It’s clear that the Chicks didn’t buckle under the pressure, and with songs on their latest CD including “Not Ready to Make Nice,” we know they’re not backing down from what Maines said. And the film makes clear that while she is the vocal center of the trio, garnering most of the attention, the group’s other two members (Martie Maguire and Emily Robison) stand by her 100 percent. The Dixie Chicks are a partnership, a sisterhood, and a group to be respected for the way they handled themselves under the circumstances.

It’s safe to say Shut Up & Sing won’t be liked by those who don’t already like the group, or by those who support George Bush, but it’s an enjoyable look behind-the-scenes at just one group that was caught in the crosshairs of the political cultural wars of the last four years. I give it a B+.

Royale with No Cheese

17 Nov

Believe it or not, of all the movies I’ve seen over the years, I’ve never seen a James Bond movie.

So perhaps it’s appropriate that the first one I did see was Casino Royale, which ostensibly reboots the franchise as if the other films had never happened.

Here we see a still-raw Bond’s first kills (which earned him double-oh status), how he won his first Aston Martin car in a poker game, and how he learned not to trust anyone.

Thankfully, the film doesn’t play like an origin story or make such things cute; rather, these elements are simply part of the story at hand, and only have significance because we (or rather, longtime Bond fans) know what they mean to the character. Continue reading