Posts in: January 2003

Sitting Here

I’m not doing anything right now. I’m trying to will myself to do something, but I’m really just sitting, staring at my computer screen. Now I’m writing in this blog to create the illusion that I’m doing something.

I have to write a paper for my African history class, and I haven’t even started researching. I should be doing that, because I need to turn it in on Monday.

I have to do another draft of my final paper for Aesthetics of Cinema. I should be doing that; it’s also due on Monday.

I have to rewrite a story for Fiction Writing—and when I say “rewrite,” I’m not talking about taking out a line or two and rephrasing a sentence. I mean, a massive overhaul, adding entire sections to it to clarify vague stuff, rewriting all the dialogue, changing locations, changing motivations, changing characters, etc. I should be doing that; it’s due on Tuesday.

I have to pare down my script for Writing For Television, eliminating all of the redundant dialogue or pointless stuff. I should at least be doing that, since it’s the easiest thing to do because I just need to remove stuff; there’s nothing that can be added. Also, it’s due on Wednesday.

And yet, I’m doing none of these things. I worked a smidge on the story earlier, but then I got bored. What I really should do first, because it’s the most difficult, is the African history paper, but I can’t will myself to get the ball rolling on that, even with the knowledge that if I don’t write this paper (and write it well), I will fail that class. And I’m not exaggerating; I will literally fail if I even half-ass this paper.

But I’ll probably end up doing that paper and the one for Aesthetics on Sunday night, and I’ll rewrite the story on Monday night, and I’ll edit my script on Tuesday night. Because I’m a procrastinator. Also, I’m lazy. Also, I don’t really give a shit about anything this semester.

Oh well.

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My life reached an all-time low point today. I carved aside three hours and twenty minutes today to watch a Joe Don Baker miniseries/pilot from 1978 on the Encore Mystery channel or whatever the fuck it’s called. And because I decided to watch this, I’m missing out on a meeting downtown, which I was e-mailed about (I appreciated the short notice) during the movie and which starts in 20 minutes. I was told the meeting wasn’t specifically important, but fuck, I should’ve been there.

But that’s not the thing that gets me. The thing that really frightens me about this whole situation is that I actually liked this Joe Don Baker miniseries.

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To Kill a Cop

To Kill a Cop was a 1978 miniseries, based on a book by Robert Daley, that became the pilot for a (very) short-lived TV series. It’s not the greatest movie ever made, nor is it the greatest miniseries ever made, but I was surprised to find that I liked it a hell of a lot more than I probably should have. I decided to watch it, figuring I could waste an hour and a half making fun of Joe Don Baker in another Mitchell-esque role. Of course, it turned out to be twice the length, but by the end of the first part, I was surprised to find myself hooked. I wanted to see the outcome, so I spent another hour and a half watching the dramatic conclusion.

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The Protest

So, okay, I was gonna go to Washington this weekend to protest what’s apparently been dubbed the “war on Iraq.” I’m not exactly sure I agree with the chosen preposition, but that wasn’t why I was protesting. At any rate, we had a couple of meetings about it, and everything was going well…until Tuesday night. The horror!

Honestly, my feelings about the war really had little to do with wanting to protest. I am indeed against the potential war, but not really enough to protest it. Mainly, I went to meet girls. I am a sad, sad man.

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Minority Report

Well, I rented Minority Report on DVD. It was surprisingly scratch/fingerprint-free, so for the first time in the history of renting DVDs from Blockbuster, I was able to watch a movie from beginning to end without the DVD player spazzing out. That was nice.

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Changing Lanes

Holy shit, did I love this movie.

Also, I hate it when people say Ben Affleck is a terrible actor. I dunno if they’re jealous or bitter or just idiots, but—despite terrible judgment calls on some movies (but I dunno, I’d do Armageddon and Pearl Harbor if I got the ass-fat paychecks he did, but Phantoms, yo?)—he proves in this more than anything I’ve ever seen (maybe Boiler Room) that he’s one of the best young actors working today. Also, he has cool hair.

And Samuel L. is the man, but that goes without saying.

The thing I admired most about this movie was that it developed and maintained strong, deeply conflicted characters. And it didn’t descend into horribly unrealistic violence to solve all the problems. Sure, there was violence, but it wasn’t unrealistic (who hasn’t wanted to loosen the nuts on a lawyer’s tires after he bankrupts you?). And it didn’t really solve the problems. It made things worse.

Plus, it had a happy ending that didn’t seem like a gargantuan cop-out.

Rating: **** (out of 4)

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Born Romantic

See, the cool thing about the movies is that they can educate as well as entertain. For example, in the film Born Romantic, I learned three very important life lessons:

  • After I abandon for my girlfriend for eight years, realize it was the worst mistake of my life, and then try to get her back, I should not—I repeat, NOT—masturbate in her kitchen sink when she’s nice enough to let me stay at her place because I’m homeless.
  • If I want to get attractive women to fall in love with me, all I have to do is dress up like Dean Martin, hire a wedding band, perform “L-O-V-E” for her, and then learn how to salsa dance. It’s all so easy, why didn’t I think of that before?
  • When trying to win over the oddball girl who wears a neckbrace not because she’s injured, but because she doesn’t like her neck, it’s probably a bad idea to rob her.

These universal truths are all explored in Born Romantic, a British comedy-drama filled with quirky characters who can’t seem to handle romance.

It stars Craig Ferguson, from The Drew Carey Show, as a Dean Martin-obsessed, unemployed, recently divorced (but still living in the same unsellable house with his ex-wife) schlub. He meets Olivia Williams, from Rushmore, at a salsa club and falls instantly in love. But she just wants to be left alone, which is a shame, because she’s hot.

Another plot thread involves Eddie, played by Jimi Mistry, who’s a terrible thief. His gimmick: he and his partner stake out ATM machines, wait for people to get their money, and then chloroform them as they’re leaving. As he says, “Stealing’s the only thing I’m good at—and I’m not that good at it.” So, running from the cops one night, he ends up in a salsa club, where he meets Jocelyn (Catherine McCormack). She wears a neck brace for no reason, she professionally puts flowers on graves for people who cannot do it themselves, along with hilariously tacky decorations. He’s smitten, because she’s a weirdo, and he’s a weirdo. They’re perfect for one another.

The third story revolves around Fergus (David Morrissey), who is chasing the girl he left eight years ago because he thought he was going to be a rock star. When he gets booted out of his band, he goes to London to find Mo (Jane Horrocks). He spends his days at the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, waiting for her to show up. He starts putting up posters all over the West End, and when he finally finds her, he gets what he deserves—a slap in the face.

All of these stories are connected by two things: salsa, and a cab driver named Jimmy (Adrian Lester), who drives most of these characters around. He’s a typical smarter-than-anyone-would-expect-of-a-guy-in-his-lowly-profession kind of character, spouting off succinct truths to help each of the characters find their romance. But at the same time, he’s neglecting his own happiness because he can’t (or won’t) get over the death of his wife.

Everything gets complicated pretty quickly: when Frankie, the Craig Ferguson character, finally woos Eleanor (Olivia Williams) into going back to her apartment for a shag, his ex-wife barges in with false tales of an open and unhappy marriage. Eddie accidentally robs Jocelyn. And Fergus convinces Mo to take him back, but they both revert to the same behavior that made him want to leave in the first place.

But this is a comedy. And, what’s more, it’s a feel-good comedy. So all of this quirky insanity, all of these developments, are designed to be paid off simply, easily, and quickly. And they are. And it’s surprisingly satisfying, because even Jimmy the broken-hearted cabbie gets his in the end.

It’s predictable, but it’s funny. It’s been done before, but it’s still well-done. I liked it.

Rating: *** (out of 4)

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