Missed the blog yesterday, sorry. You can blame the Great Pocono Weight Race since it caused me to not get into work until 11:30, and that’s too late to write this.
That means we’re in full-catch-up mode:
It’s a sad, sad day for independent cinema. Depending on who you believe, Miramax either did or didn’t die Thursday, but one thing is clear — the studio will never be the same. The list of movies it brought us are too long to list, but its impact on Hollywood, film-making and culture in general. In the 90s, if you weren’t making movies at Miramax, you probably were making crap. For better or worse, it gave us Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Stephen Soderbergh, Peter Jackson, Robert Rodriguez and a host of other directors who changed the way movies are made and introduced us to cultural subgenres like fanboys. As dorky and silly as this sounds, my life wouldn’t be as full as it is now without Pulp Fiction. I really believe that. I watched it again last weekend on IFC and still marvel at every word of it. For me, it’s the best movie that’s ever been made. Seeing it in the theater opening afternoon at the now-closed Wonderland 4 outside of Lancaster with seven other Quentin-fanatic buddies remains the best in-theater experience I’ve ever had. To think that day would have never happened if Miramax didn’t exist is frightening to me. Anyone who grew up in the 90s as a fan of film will be eternally grateful to Miramax, even though once it made She’s All That, everything went to hell.
If you are a fan of film and the film-making process, then it’s almost required that you read the very involved, very revealing director roundtable of Quentin, Jason Reitman, Lee Daniels, Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. Those five people could very well be the five people nominated for Best Director when Oscar nominations come out Tuesday. It’s not mentioned, so in case you don’t know, Cameron and Bigelow were married from 1989 to 1991. If you didn’t know that, hold that one in your back pocket and wow your friends at your Oscar-watching party in March.
Miramax isn’t the only cultural death this week as we bid farewell to Ugly Betty. The writing was on the wall here for about two years, and the noose was hangingin the garage door with the doors closed and the car running last May when ABC announced it would move the once-buzzy show to Friday nights. There was a glimmer of hope late last year when ABC announced the show would move to Wednesdays at 10 in the hopes it would take advantage of ABC’s newly strong comedy lineup. It didn’t. So instead of waitinguntil May to bring the ax down and leave its remaining fans without any kind of resolution, the network decided to make the announcement now so the writers could make some kind of finale. Maybe they could let America Ferrara actually look like she does and stop pulling the wool over every one’s eyes. To me, that’s when this show JTS, when she started making the rounds at awards shows and parties as a pretty attractive young lady. People felt duped. It was the equivalent of Felicity cutting her hair.
No chance for an Ugly Betty spin-off, and that’s a good thing since they rarely work. There are exceptions — Laverne and Shirley, Facts of Life, Knots Landing, Melrose Place -- but most of those were from the 70s and 80s when spin-offs went out of style. Frasier is the last major spin-off that could be considered a hit, and it was only a hit because it had one of the best writing teams available and completely left the prior show (Cheers) in the rear-view mirror, withthe exception of a few Lilith episodes and a couple visits from Sam, Diane, Woody, Norm and Cliff in the first couple seasons that were more ratings stunts than anything. But once the show got its foothold, we never saw those guys again. My problem with that EW photo gallery about the 15 worst spin-offs ever is that it gets history wrong. Saved by the Bell: The College Years is complete trash that was a mockery to the original. That issue is not in dispute. But the article claims three new female leads were introduced. Not by my count. We had Leslie, Alex and … no one! I may be forgetting someone in the pilot, possibly, but whatever. Damn EW. Although I am happy that a November episode of Nip/Tuck contained three, count ‘em three, members of the cast, Slater as plastic surgeon Mike, Alex as Jenny Juggs and Professor Lasky as the guy who mercifully killed Teddy. There hasn’t been an unmentioned show reunion that big since Jason Bateman and Michael Cera in Juno. And as you go through that photo gallery and see the maybe the worst spin-off ever — Joanie Loves Chachi — at least we can smile and picture White Goodman saying it.
Gary Oldman can lay claim to being one of the most under-appreciated actors of this generation. Case in point — he was on The Tonight Show a couple weeks ago during The Fight and my wife asked what he’s from. I rattled off a bunch of movies, ones she’s never seen. I like him best in True Romance, The Professional, The Fifth Element, Air Force One and JFK. Nope, those are no good. Finally I remembered Lt./Commissioner Gordon and the light bulb went off. It’s testament to how unknown he really is despite being extremely prolific and extremely good.
Weekend at Bernie’s lives! Maybe. There is talk of a remake of the classic 80s comedy I remember laughing my butt off in when I saw it in theaters and for such a hokey premise that was done into the ground with a reedunkulous sequel, holds up remarkably well. There’s proof of that just about every weekend since Fox Movie Channel replays it so much you’d think it won 50 Oscars. It’s still just as fun as it was 20 years ago and despite the benign presence of Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman, it’s got about 20 classic lines that you would never actually quote in real life, but when you hear them, you still laugh. Plus, it’s Rachel Green’s favorite movie, even though she says Dangerous Liaisons actually is.
Don’t worry I’m not going to rant against how insignificant the Grammys are in the world or how stupid some of their rules are. I’m just going link to the preview story and the predictions and then use that time Sunday to watch my DVRs of Fringe and Vampire Diaries and that will be all of it. There. That feels better. But I’d be shocked if Taylor Swift doesn’t take home about 35 awards. Is that how much she’s nominated for? I can’t even keep track.
Apparently all I needed to get myself over the Conan-Leno-NBC patheticness (not a word, I know) was for Conan to be off the air. If Leno went on Oprah two weeks ago, I’d be DVR-ing it. Now? I could care less. I just know that until I’m a guest on The Tonight Show, I won’t be watching it as long as Leno’s the host. So pretty much I’m never watching it again.