Tagging along on the alphabet meme

Don’t keel over — I am following one of those memes, and you know how I usually am about that. I prefer to say that I am participating in a collaborative project. I mean, there’s a difference between answering a long questionnaire with “yes” and “no,” and contributing to a specific person’s blog project (like Holidailies, which yes, we are doing this year, just hang in there). I wasn’t even tagged, I am doing this entirely voluntarily.
I found Blog Cabins’ alphabet meme on the cinetrix’s website at a time when I was feeling out of sorts and wanted a distraction. Could I pick one movie that I enjoyed for each letter of the alphabet? I started making a list, and then I walked over to our DVD bookcase to fill in some of the trickier letters, and then I finally fudged a listing for the letter X because I’m not a big fan of the X-Men or of Xanadu. I remembered ruefully The ABC Project that I started a year or so ago, in which I decided to go through my Netflix queue and pick one movie for each letter of the alphabet. I made it through the letter D. Somehow I never seem to make time to watch Netflix movies unless my husband rents the movie and puts it on the TV and I happen to be around.

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best moment of the week

I’m eating my lunch at my desk at work, and one of my co-workers knocks on my cubicle wall. He’s got a couple of DVDs that he rented or borrowed or something, and he wants to hear my opinion of them. (Last time, I urged him to see Idiocracy, which he loved, so I have a good track record.) He holds out one of the boxes.
“What do you think of this one, have you seen it?” he asks. I look at the DVD. It’s Southland Tales. I grin.
“Well, obviously –” I reply, still grinning, and point at the pullquote on the bottom of the box.
He reads the quote. “‘Fascinating and extraordinary.’ So you agree with that?”
And this is the best moment …
“Yeah,” I tell him, “because that’s my quote. I said that.” And I pick up the box and show him the pullquote again, more closely, so he can read the whole thing:
“Fascinating and extraordinary!”
–Jette Kernion, Cinematical
“Oh! That’s you! I didn’t realize. Wow!”
And then he had to tell everyone in the office and show them the DVD box.
He may come back into the office on Monday and want to kick my butt after actually watching Southland Tales … or if he’s like my little brother, rant about how this is the Best Movie Ever and other critics are just plain insane. That’s all right.
I may never see my name on a DVD box again, or if I’m super-lucky, it’ll happen more often and I’ll get jaded about it. But today, showing someone who wanted to know what I thought about the film that my opinion (or a truncated version that does not quite reflect the full review) was actually on the DVD box? Can’t top that.

Well done, sister suffragettes

I forgot, until someone reminded me this morning (and I can’t remember which blog, sorry), that yesterday was the anniversary of Congress approving the 19th Amendment. It was on June 4, 1919, that the women’s suffrage amendment was sent to the states for ratification. If I’d know, maybe I would have made time to go to the polls yesterday for early voting in the City Council runoff election; I’ll have to go this weekend instead.
I could reprint the text of the amendment here, as a way to commemorate the anniversary, but instead I cannot resist the urge to share with you one of my favorite songs, ever ever ever. I’ve been known to sing it aloud on occasion, because who could resist? And of course this is a film blog so I have to tie everything into movies. So I give you “Sister Suffragette” from the movie Mary Poppins. You’re welcome.

Should we alert Kevin Smith?

My husband phoned me to tell me that he’d just heard a Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC, as we are supposed to call them these days) ad on the radio that he swears used the catchphrase, “I’m eatin’ it!” Does this sound familiar? Let me give you a hint:

Mooby's, from Clerks II

We are in a state of disbelief and hilarity. If this is true, it’s the best “life imitates film” moment since Brawndo, the sports drink from Idiocracy, became a real beverage. Obviously I need to investigate this matter further and keep you posted. Or better yet, someone else will investigate it and post the results, and I’ll happily link to their findings. That’s what bloggers do, after all.
And it does seem only fair — the “K” in the “Clerks II” logo on the film’s poster is from the KFC logo, so why shouldn’t KFC snag Mooby’s logo from Clerks II for their own?
One more photo, after the jump, because I couldn’t resist.

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the virtues of spring cleaning

Sunday night, my husband and I were reorganizing our linen closet, which contains not only linen but all our CDs and a box of my old videotapes. It was pointed out that I don’t watch the videotapes anymore and perhaps I should get rid of at least a few of them. I pointed out that some of those movies are not on DVD yet, and what if I had some sort of emergency where I needed to see part of Quality Street? So we made an Amazon wish list of all the movies I had on videotape — except the ones that aren’t on Amazon because there are no plans for DVD — and I prioritized them to indicate which I would really like to own on DVD (Persuasion), and which I would probably just want to rent sometime and watch again (Stranger Than Paradise, which costs more on Criterion DVD than it probably cost to make).
We got to Midnight, Easy Living and The Major and the Minor and I read out the titles to my husband to look up on Amazon, although I noted it was futile because who knows when those movies might ever get to be on DVD.
April 22, 2008, as it turns out. I was stunned. Midnight is getting a DVD release! I wondered if someone might remember it, since it’s supposedly being remade (please let the remake be a victim of the writers’ strike, please please). And the other two movies will be released too, all as part of something called the Universal Classics Collection. No details are available yet on extras and so forth, and I suspect the DVDs might be bare-bones, but I don’t care because I would just like to see the movies. All I want is a pretty good transfer — all three videotapes were taped from AMC or TCM in the distant past, so a DVD can only be an improvement.
The thing about these three movies is that I don’t think any of them are especially great, but they’re charming Thirties/early Forties light comedies with witty dialogue, wonderful actresses in the lead roles, and familiar, funny supporting character actors. More details about the movies are after the jump, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Now, can we have A Foreign Affair next? That’s the comedy I really want to see on DVD, and my videotape is barely watchable. It was one of the few videotapes I didn’t throw/give away on Sunday, but I’d like to toss that TCM-recorded, noisy tape in the trash by the end of 2008. I’d also like to cross it off the still-populated 20 Gaps on DVD list, which incidentally I’ve updated with the info about the three upcoming DVDs.

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hooray for celebrity documentarians

A quick moment of amusement:
I was looking at the new Bardot collection on DVD at Amazon (I wanted to see the cover after Dave Kehr referred to it in his article on the films) and noticed an Amazon link to “Save 60% on Celebrity DVD Boxed Sets.” I certainly like saving money, even though I am not really supposed to be buying new DVDs until I watch the ones I have, so I took a look.
For the most part, the page of sale DVD sets was what you’d expect — a combination of old and new stars, all of which you’d probably recognize on sight. You could get Gary Cooper or George Clooney, Pam Grier or Cameron Diaz, Steve McQueen or Chuck Norris. You get the idea. But smack in the middle of the page, surrounded by Drew Barrymore and Natalie Portman’s boxed sets —
The Errol Morris DVD Collection.
I was so tickled by this that I almost bought the boxed set right then and there. (I may still … after all, it’s on sale.) I had never thought about Morris as having the same type of celebrity following as Sandra Bullock or Nicolas Cage, but I’m glad to see that someone at Amazon thought so. Next time I hope to see Barbara Kopple on the page too.

Dear god, no … not Midnight!

So Variety is reporting that Michael Arndt, who scripted Little Miss Sunshine, is writing the screenplay on a new vehicle for Reese Witherspoon … a remake of the 1939 romantic comedy Midnight, which starred Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche. Most of you probably haven’t heard of this film unless you’ve been reading my love-letters about it for the past few years. I even compared the film with The Wedding Crashers a couple of years ago (one of my favorite entries). It’s not available on DVD right now. Midnight was written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and directed by Mitchell Leisen, and although Wilder famously couldn’t stand Leisen, it’s a lovely little frothy confection of a 1930s comedy. Not perfect, but the dialogue is often delightful.
Witherspoon will be taking the Claudette Colbert role (this is almost as bad as writing “Ice Cube plays the Cary Grant role“). No word yet on who will take the roles played by Ameche, John Barrymore, or Mary Astor. On the positive side, does this mean the movie will finally, finally see a DVD release? One can only hope.
I need a cold compress and a drink, and then maybe this weekend I will go watch my sad little VHS copy of Midnight taped off TCM years ago. All that lovely snappy dialogue (“from the moment you looked at me, I had an idea you had an idea”). If anyone decides to remake Ball of Fire or any Preston Sturges movie this week, it’s probably better that you don’t tell me about it. I don’t care about The Women so much, although I don’t see how you can keep it from being terribly dated.
[News item found via Nerve’s ScreenGrab blog. Credit to Martha Fischer, the former queen of “Dear God, No” entries at Cinematical, for the headline inspiration.]

genuine movie-critic moments, episode 2

Last October, my husband and I wanted to have a movie-night party at our house and show a horror movie, preferably a funny one and not too gory. I immediately suggested Night of the Living Dorks, a movie I saw at Fantastic Fest in 2005 and found very funny. You can read my review here. The Beau was a bit reluctant, but it didn’t matter, because we found out that the movie wasn’t available on DVD, at least not in this country. (It’s a German film — the original title was Die Nacht der lebenden Loser, which I think sounds better.) We ended up showing an episode from the Masters of Horror series instead, Joe Dante’s political satire/horror film Homecoming, which everyone enjoyed. I later included Homecoming on my list of funniest horror movies, especially if you don’t vote Republican.
I found out a few weeks ago that Night of the Living Dorks is finally getting a U.S. DVD release on Feb. 20, and looked forward to renting the movie to watch again, perhaps gently encouraging the still-skeptical Beau to watch it with me. As you might have guessed, I am a total sucker for any combination of comedy and horror, although this movie has very little horror and a lot of broad and silly comedy. The DVD is being released by Anchor Bay, which always seems to do a good job with DVD transfers and extras.
And then last night someone (hi, Scott) sent me a link to a picture of the DVD case for the U.S. release of Night of the Living Dorks. Check out the quote on the front (and the back) of the box — it’s from my review. And unlike the last time I found myself quoted, it’s not truncated to change the meaning.
I’m pleased and amused, and hopefully I won’t let this go to my head and become a quote whore. I’d hate to make eFilmCritic’s annual list — but let’s face it, I just don’t have that kind of personality. Meanwhile, the little kid inside my head is still jumping up and down and squealing, “I’m on a DVD box, I’m on a DVD box!” I suppose the real movie-critic moment will occur when I’m totally jaded about this sort of thing.

now that’s a bad buzz

When I saw Casino Royale the other night, I witnessed the strongest reaction ever to a movie trailer … well, unless you count some of the vintage trailers shown before movies at Alamo Drafthouse, and that’s not at all the same thing. I mean the strongest reaction to a movie not yet released.
I was at a preview screening the night before Casino Royale officially released, and the theater was packed but fairly well-behaved. And then the trailer played. No, I’m not talking about the Apocalypto trailer, which seemed to leave people cold but didn’t generate a lot of reaction.
I’m talking about Rocky Balboa. The negative reaction was astounding. Most people seemed not to be aware that the movie had actually been made, that it would be released in the next month. “Unbelievable!” I heard. I think some people thought at first that it was a joke trailer. “They’re not seriously gonna make that.” “Aw no. You’re kidding.”
The audience as a whole was incredulous that Sylvester Stallone’s character would actually be returning to the ring and fighting, that this was being presented as any kind of realistic option. Stallone as a trainer, they might have bought. But the theater echoed with derisive laughter. Every time Stallone or Burt Young appeared on screen, they laughed. They snickered at “Junior” too.
If this were a highbrow crowd at one of the arthouse theaters, the reaction I saw to the trailer wouldn’t mean much to me. But the trailer played before Casino Royale, one of a number of trailers for obviously male-centric films (I started wondering if I would see a single non-wife in films in the next six months, then remembered the target demographic for a Bond film), and the audience was a mix of people who didn’t mind going to a second-rate multiplex for a free movie. In other words, apart from the press, not film geeks.
Rocky Balboa could turn out to be a great movie. I have no idea. But if people in general are reacting like they did to that trailer, it’s going to tank at the box office. Is it poor marketing, or is the premise truly that silly? Guess we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.