Sunday, May 23, 2004

Video: In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

I praised this movie on Ed Gorman’s blog when Ed was talking about John Carpenter. I hadn’t seen it since its initial release and didn’t remember much other than my positive feelings toward it. It played even better upon revisiting it. It’s Carpenter’s most ambitious film, an homage to H.P. Lovecraft that comes as close as any movie has to bringing his mythos to life. However, any mental hospital staffed by John Glover and David Warner should be closed at once.

Sam Neill stars, and he’s the main reason why the movie works. The actor is a marvelous addition to any cast, but he’s particularly effective in films that touch on the fantastic. He acts as a sober, grounding influence. Here that ability is essential; his character’s dogged devotion to rationality becomes the engine that drives the plot. Anything Neill says in a movie, no matter how outlandish, you accept at face value. The work of a hack horror novelist is warping the fabric of reality? Of course I believe you. Cloned dinosaurs running amok? Must be true. Dingo ate your baby? Whatever you say.

TV: Cannes Film Festival Closing Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies are much more fun. There are no prizes to hand out, so the show primarily consists of a beautiful European actress babbling pretentiously about le cinema, comparing it to water, or ballet, or a water ballet. (“Fluid yet graceful, an eternally renewing cascade of imagery ...”)

The broadcast had a strong anti-Bush flavor even before Michael Moore took home the Palme d’Or for FAHRENHEIT 9/11. I know that most showbiz types are on the left, and that great swaths of Europe dislike the President. But you’d think that as entertainers these people would recognize the value of the unexpected plot twist. Couldn’t somebody onstage say something positive about the liberation of Iraq? Or suggest that voters turn Tony Blair or Silvio Berlusconi out of office? Just to keep the audience guessing.

The Belgian winner of the short film jury prize asked anyone watching in America not to vote for Bush. First of all, other than me nobody in America is watching. Second, he made this comment after saying he wanted Cannes to be more of a film festival and less of a business festival. And finally, he came in second. For short film. And he’s Belgian.

Nice to see THE LADYKILLERS’ Irma P. Hall get some love, though.

Magazine: Esquire

Time to play pop culture detective. I spotted the cover of the June issue as I entered Barnes & Noble. It recreates the famous Coppertone ad with a dog tugging down the bottom of a girl’s bikini. Who’d they get to do that?, I wondered, and gave myself until I crossed the store’s lobby to figure it out.

It had to be somebody famous enough to make it worth the magazine’s while. But with the kind of fame that wouldn’t be diminished by having her ass hanging out on the cover of a national magazine. If anything, her celebrity would be enhanced.

My guess: Carmen Electra. I was right.

I know. It wasn’t a particularly difficult case. It’s not like they could have convinced Kirsten Dunst to do it.

TV: The Late Show With David Letterman

I know you all join me in wishing a speedy recovery to Grindergirl, the novelty act who has become an indispensable part of the show. She was performing onstage with Mini-Kiss, the all-dwarf Kiss tribute band, when her grinder slipped off her metal bikini and grazed her thigh.

She’s fine. And I’m not making any of this up.

TV: Saturday Night Live’s Best of Christopher Walken

This may be a first, devoting a show to sketches featuring a frequent host instead of a regular. All I can say is I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.