Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: "Dinner for Schmucks" (Plus Bonus Video Hilarity)

By now, many of you know of my general disdain for remakes, though occasionally an American version of a foreign film can be quite good (The Ring; The Bird Cage). Usually, though, something gets lost in the translation and it just doesn't work (Pulse; Swept Away - though in the case of that last movie, we all know why it really sucked). But the trailer for Dinner for Schmucks was very funny and the casting looked amazing.

The original 1998 French film Le diner de cons (The Dinner Game), written by Francis Veber (La cage aux folles; Le jouet [The Toy] and Le grand blond avec une chaussure noir [The Tall Blond with One Black Shoe] -- all of which have been remade and adapted in variously successful ways) was a very European black comedy about doing whatever it takes to get to the top. It's very funny, but also very, very mean-spirited.

So, after an exceptionally delicious meal at Hunami in Princeton (featuring the most astonishingly good vegetable dumplings either of us had ever had), D and I went to see Dinner for Schmucks.

As adapted by the writers of The Ex (a movie I actually liked a lot), Dinner for Schmucks is a kinder, gentler, more Disneyfied version, more suited toward the post-sexual revolution America and their parents. Recently revealed obsession Paul Rudd is Tim, a 6th floor corporate drone, looking for his opportunity to move up to the 7th floor and an office of his own, so he can convince his long-term girlfriend that he's worthy of marrying. After the ouster of a 7th floor exec, Tim makes his move, impressing his boss (Star Trek's Bruce Greenwood) enough to consider him for promotion, upon completion of a challenge. Once a month, each executive brings a guest to a special dinner. The challenge is to see which executive can bring the biggest idiot. If Tim wins the challenge, the promotion is his. Girlfriend and art gallery curator Julie (Stephanie Szostak) finds the idea repulsive and Tim agrees to cancel. Until he literally runs into Barry (Steve Carrell), a weird IRS worker and amateur taxidermist who is in the midst of recreating famous works of art as "Mouseterpieces." Thinking he has secured his promotion, Tim invites Barry to a dinner for "extraordinary people.' Needless to say, all sort of chaos ensues.

As I watched Dinner for Schmucks, I couldn't help but think of the similarities between it and Larry Shue's astonishingly funny 1981 play The Nerd, in conceit, if not plot. In The Nerd, a 30 year-old architect thinks he's living the life he's always wanted, when an exceptionally stupid and socially inept person enters his life, causing chaos which ultimately leads to... (somewhat of a SPOILER ALERT) happily ever afters all around. Change professions and replace a plot-twist or two with... well, not exactly plot twists, and you have Dinner for Schmucks.

The still-adorable Rudd plays Tim as the perfect straight man to all the insanity around him (20 years ago, Clooney would have played this part and 50 years ago, Jack Lemmon). Ron Livingston (Office Space) plays Rudd's nemesis, affronted by Tim's audacity. Other dinner guests include an array of popular character actors, including Chris O'Dowd as a blind swordsman; Jeff Dunham as a ventriloquist married to a slutty dummy; Octavia Spencer as a Pet Medium (I see dead puppies?) and Patrick Fischler as a scarred and bandaged vulture enthusiast.

Of course, Carrell is the heart of the movie. Barry may be really stupid, but he's never afraid to tell the truth and never afraid to be himself. A master of babbling (see Bruce, Almighty), Carrell manages to make Barry's malapropisms, historical ignorance and complete lack of social skills endearing, rather than annoying (even D went "Awwww..." at one revealing moment). Super-shiny smile ablaze, Carrell's Barry refuses to be beaten down, no matter how horribly life seems to have treated him. Almost stealing the movie away from Carrell are Jemaine Clement ("The Flight of the Conchords") as a self-absorbed artist and Zach Galifianakas (The Hangover) as Barry's co-worker Therman, who has convinced Barry that he has the power of mind-control.

Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) keeps the ultimately gentle farce moving along at an appropriate pace and manages to capture several very funny set-pieces, though with no particular style of which to take note. D and I laughed often, despite the movie's rather predictable plot. The biggest laughs came from the performances of Carrell and the other dinner guests. I imagine the Blu-Ray release will include all kinds of hilarious improvs that were left out of the final cut. Hardly a comedy masterpiece, Dinner for Schmucks (which curiously never uses the word "schmuck" in its dialog) is probably the best comedy of the summer, though that's not saying much in what I am officially dubbing The Summer of Movies that Sucked. Amusing and relatively inoffensive (which is also its biggest problem), Dinner for Schmucks was ultimately better than either of us expected, by not quite as good as I had hoped. **1/2 (Two and a Half Stars out of Four).

And (as promised in this post's title) here's a special bonus:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Governor of the Great State of Tennessee?

So do I get murdered or do I go to jail? Make up my mind, please.

Okay, now that you've watched it once, go back and watch it again with the Closed Captioning turned on and see the even more hilarious results of the CC typist trying to make sense of what Basil has to say. I nearly wet myself. And a visit to the man's completely incomprehensible website is required. Make sure you click the links to the letters he's written to the U.N. and Obama. You must admire the man for trying, at least. Gee... I wonder what Tennessee would be like under the Governance of Mr. Marceaux:

More, anon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm Tho Thore!

That's Riccardo Fachetti's Frazetta-esque painting of the Norse deity Thor defeating the Ice Giants with his hammer. It is from him that we get the word "Thursday" and also the Marvel comic of the same name. Tho why am I tho thore?

For about three hours today, the trailer for the new movie starring Aussie Chris Hemsworth (glimpsed briefly as James T. Kirk's doomed daddy in last year's Star Trek) was up for viewing all over the web. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (yes, Hamlet*; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the underrated, noirish reincarnation thriller Dead Again), Thor also stars Natalie Portman; Anthony Hopkins; Idris Elba; Stellan Skarsgard; Rene Russo; Clark Gregg and Colm Feore in yet another superhero origins tale, all leading up to Marvel's gigantic, multi-hero epic The Avengers** in 2012. It has been removed from every single site I searched. "Removed at request of copyright holder," was the most common message. And it sucks, because I really wanted to share it with you.

Interestingly, the trailer starts with what I've just noticed is a sort of Marvel meme: our hero (or more often, villain) is seen escaping from being strapped down to a hospital-type table and taking on several doctors, nurses, orderlies and/or assorted paramilitary type behemoths. It then moves on to Asgard, where King of the gods Odin (Hopkins) is seen exiling Thor to Earth for treason. And Branagh's vision of Asgaard certainly appeared spectacular, with soaring golden towers and lots of sparkling Nordic armor. Thor must prove himself a hero on Earth before he can regain his father's favor (and throne).

The Mighty Thor was not a major character in my super-hero canon; I was more of a DC Justice League kind of boy. I knew Thor existed, but he wasn't one of my favorites. My best memory of the character is his pseudo-appearance in the '80's comedy Adventures in Babysitting.

The now-removed Thor trailer was pretty danged awesome. I hope you had a chance to see it. I'll post it as soon as it's available again. Just the sight of Hemsworth's exposed pelvis was enough to make me want to see it -- I know... TMI, Uncle P.

I'm seeing Dinner for Schmucks tomorrow with D. You can expect my review. Personally, I think it looks friggin' hilarious. Plus, it has Paul...

And since I can't seem to get enough Paul lately, here's a silly little thing he did with the also underrated (and gorgeous) Famke Janssen:

Damn, that man is boy-next-door gorgeous and hilariously talented! I hate him! I want him.!I hate him! I want to be him... (no, not really - just me; as famous, gorgeous and talented as he is, with him on my arm -- Hey! A boy can dream, can't he?).

And finally, I have had confirmation that I will be directing for Shakespeare '70 again this fall, though with a rather different kind of play for me. It's Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, a play ostensibly about women making their way in a man's world. "But Uncle P, what would you know about that? " Well, I think I can relate, as a gay man who has had to make his was in a straight world, I certainly understand the feeling of being treated as a 2nd class citizen and the things I've done and sacrificed in order to not only survive, but also to thrive in an overwhelmingly hostile environment.

Of course, as with any good piece, it's about so much more than that. Churchill is probably best known for her 1982 Obie-winning play Cloud Nine. It is the first time Your's Truly will be directing an all-female cast, and the first time in 5 years that I'll be directing a play without D in it. It's a complex and fascinating piece and with the right cast, has the potential to be phenomenal. I haven't felt this challenged by a piece since the last time I directed for them, but Q is once-again my producer/right-hand and I think together we'll make something extraordinary. We always seem to. One of the five billion and four reasons I love her so much.

Well, enough stream-of-conscientiousness for tonight. I had a rough one last night (a long story for another post, someday -- maybe) and I'm very tired. I really wish I could have shared that trailer with you. Maybe this will make up for it:

More, anon.

*Featuring some truly odd casting and the great Jack Lemmon's most deer-in-the-headlights film performance.

**The cast of Joss "Buffy/Firefly/Dollhouse" Whedon's film was introduced at last week's ComiCon in San Diego, to what was reported to be rabidly positive fanperson response. I'm also breathlessly awaiting for Ryan's Green Lantern, but that's just me...

Uncle P

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I have been a fan of Zach Snyder's work, ever since his exciting and well-made take on Dawn of the Dead in 2004. Less successful (artistically, at least), his CGI landscape for his 2006 adaptation of Frank Miller's 300 was lovely to look at (in more ways than one), but rather thin on substance. His last big release was the mostly excellent Watchmen, which I really loved. And no matter what some overly-sensitive people have to say, I have never found his work to be overtly homophobic, and anything which might have been misconstrued as such is there because of the source material.

Snyder has an all-CGI family movie about owls coming out later this year, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.

But it's his next film I'm most interested in: Sucker Punch, Synder's first film that is not adapted from or based on other material. The script by Snyder and first-time screenwriter Steve Shibuya is based on an original story by Snyder and concerns young women imprisoned in a 1950's insane asylum and their plans for escape. Here's the official synopsis:

"Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of Baby Doll (pouty-lipped Emily Browning), who is trying to hide from the pain caused by her evil stepfather and lobotomy. She ends up in mental institution in Brattleboro, Vermont and while there she starts to imagine an alternate reality. She plans to escape from that imaginary world but to do that she needs to steal five objects before she is captured by an unknown adversary. She has 5 days to escape before being lobotomized. In order to cope with the situation, she enters the hyper-real world of her imagination, and the lines between reality and dream begin to blur. She is joined with friends who are inmates from the institution. Lessons learned in the said fantasy world could help the girls escape their real-world fate." (via)

It sounds like Heavenly Creatures meets Girl Interrupted meets Lord of the Rings as a live-action manga. And that's exactly what it looks like in the trailer below (the first to get me this excited since the trailer for Watchmen - make sure I hire that trailer company for my first movie). Watch this in full screen and turn up the volume; this trailer is friggin' awesome:

No matter what you may think of Snyder's films, you must admit that they always look amazing, as evidenced by that trailer. And what a cast! The highly underrated Jena Malone (Donnie Darko; The Ruins); Abbie Cornish; Scott Glen; the smokin' Carla Gugino and the very hot John Hamm. When I can buy a ticket? Sucker Punch is scheduled for release in March of next year.

So? What do you think? Excited to see Sucker Punch? Or completely bewildered by it? I'm going to have to install a poll app, someday... You could always just leave me a comment. I love it when we dialog!

More, anon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

25 years ago, a hilariously insane man-child met a (then) wunderkind director and together they created an 80's movie to which I connect far more than any John Hughes bagatelle (with one exception - and more on that, later), Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

I was in probably still in high school when I discovered Paul Reubens' alter-ego, first as a bizarre stand-up comedian (in the late 70's and early 80's, there was no other kind) and then as part of his own HBO special : "Pee-Wee Herman: The Boy Who Wished He Could Fly," which featured Reubens' fellow Groundlings Phil Hartman, Edie McClurg and Laurence "Larry" Fishbourne.

"I know just what I'm going to do with these, first!" *

My sister and I immediately embraced Reubens' fascination with childhood silliness and adult-worthy nonsense for the sake of nonsense. It was probably in the late 70's, as part of an HBO "Young Comedians" that really sent us over the top. Pee-Wee was very much a prop comic (no, not like the bizarre and roided-up Carrottop) and his use of a 'hypnotic' hand puppet sent us into gales of hysterical laughter.

One of Reubens' earliest TV appearances was on the infamous Chuck Barris' " The Gong Show" as part of the singing duo "Suave and Debonair:"

Obviously, this was the origin of the "Big Shoe Dance:"

But Big Adventure includes so many iconic moments, that a single post couldn't mention them all without posting almost the entire movie. But here are a few:

"Oh really? Where are they hosin' him down?"

God, I love Jan Hooks. I actually went to the Alamo and asked the guide to see the basement. Her exceptionally sarcastic response: "Ha-ha! I've never been asked that before!" My response? "Can you say that with me? A-doh-bee." They almost threw me out.

"I've seen better heads on boils!"

And more than I can even recount: the Breakfast Machine; "I meant to do that;" the phone call to Dottie; the palm-reader; the road signs on wheels; the studio chase scene; Dee Snyder; Godzilla and Mothra; James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild; "Everyone's got a big but...;" the Evil Clown surgeons; "Merci blah-blah.." etc., etc., etc. Almost every set-piece and almost every single line is sublimely silly perfection.

I'll save "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" and Reubens' fall from grace for another post. But I will tell you that after a successful Los Angeles run, Paul Reubens is bringing his new Pee-Wee show to Broadway this fall, and I have every intention of seeing it.

*Jambi the Genie on receipt of his new hands.


More, anon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Movies, Hotties and Violent Nerds

I may have been on vacation, but that doesn't mean I haven't been surfing the web for things to talk about.

First, Ross Peacock over at Obsessed with Film posted an interesting piece about "the next District 9," a short from Peruvian filmmaker Ricardo de Montreuil, The Raven, which has apparently been picked up by Universal for expansion into a feature, starring Mark Wahlberg. The Raven is about a young man who is wanted by a dystopian government in a future Los Angeles for reasons not made clear -- except maybe that he's a powerful telekinetic:

I'd see a feature based on that.

And Towleroad posted about the new documentary Bruce LaBruce: The Advocate for Fagdom. LaBruce's films include Otto; or, Up With Dead People and the upcoming LAZombie, starring gay porn star Francois Sagat as an alien zombie on the lookout for hot male flesh in Los Angeles. LaBruce's films have been labeled everything from "Brilliant" to "Utter Trash." LAZombie was recently rejected by the Venice Film Festival and will make its premiere later this year at the Toronto Film Festival. The following trailer for the documentary may be NSFW:

And speaking of gay icons, I can't believe I've never mentioned uber-hottie Paul Rudd in a "Hottest Thing" post. My friend and co-worker Mia (who made me both Teddy Z and Princess Unicorn as Christmas gifts), is equally -- if not more-so -- obsessed with the beautiful Mr. Rudd. His newest film, Dinner for Schmucks opens this Friday and it looks just hilarious:

I first noticed Rudd in Clueless, where he played Alicia Silverstone's hot step-brother, Josh. The next time I remember seeing him was in the unfortunate Jennifer Aniston film, The Object of My Affection, in which he played Jen's gay best friend with whom she fell in love. Complete garbage, redeemable only by his presence. I then saw him on stage in a production of Twelfth Night as Orsino, opposite the amazing Kyra Sedgewick ("The Closer"). The show featured a pool on stage and Rudd spent much of the play wet and half-naked. And we've all seen his comic genius in films like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The Forty Year-Old Virgin. Here is with Schmucks costar Steve Carrell in a parody of the recent Lebron James basketball controversy (probably the first and only time I will ever mention sports on this blog):

Finally tonight is the last night of the San Diego ComicCon, the annual fanboy Mecca for all things comics and genre movies. CNN (via) reports that ComicCon has apparently outgrown the San Diego Convention center, resulting in a stabbing over seating at the Resident Evil 4 panel. Really? I mean Paul W. Anderson's zombie movies (based on the video game of the same name) aren't really very good. Of course, only a nerd would stab another nerd with a pen, but what can you expect when tens-of-thousands of costumed geeks descend upon one city at the same time. And no, it wasn't even a knife used in the stabbing, but a pen! I can just imagine the guy whipping it out of his pocket protector and thrusting it in his opponent's face. So sad.

I hope everyone had as good a week as I did, last week. Tomorrow sees my return to the day job (not a really awful thing, despite the idiocy I deal with every day). I'll have more to talk about on ComicCon and upcoming movies, as well a "Gayest Thing" post, later this week.

More, anon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What a Vacation!

I still have two days left of my vacation, but this has been a most amusing and amazing week.

The picture to your left is Uncle P's newest tattoo. This one is on my right calf and a little more (actually, a lot more) vertical than it seems in this picture. I suppose that can happen when one takes a photo of one's own calf... I got it because it represents not just an ancient culture, but is also probably one of the most unusual Yin-Yang symbols I have ever seen. Uncle P is big on ancient cultures (see my Egyptian ink). I've already decided that my next one will be Aztec or Inca. And I know it looks red and irritated (and there's even a little blood), but the picture was taken just a few hours after it was done, yesterday afternoon. It looks a lot better, today.

The new ink was my birthday present to myself; a tradition that started last last year and will probably continue for a few more.

So this vacation started with Friday night drinks with a dear friend I haven't seen in several years (she moved to MA for a job a few years ago). Then Saturday night was Inception with two other dear friends, followed by a trip to Coney Island on my actual birthday, Sunday. Below is a shot of some of the insane rides at the new Luna Park. The rides at Coney are rather expensive, so we only rode a few, but we still managed to have a fantastic time. We ate lunch at Nathan's, saw the Sideshow by the Seashore and just had ourselves a grand time. If you're a Facebook Friend, you can see more Coney Island pics, there. If you aren't, let me know and I'll add you.

Monday and Tuesday could hardly compare, though I did manage to reorganize my bathroom cabinet (a bigger job than you can imagine) and steam-clean the whole bathroom. Woo-hoo! So exciting!

My next big adventure was meeting my little angel, Matty in Seaside Heights (yes, I know) for dinner and fireworks on the beach. I grew up going to Seaside as a kid, and must admit that it is smaller and dingier than I remember... Still, Matty and I had a grand time strolling the boards and looking for hot guys (there weren't many).

Which brings me to Thursday and my new ink; once again at Living Arts Tattoo in New Hope, PA. For those not familiar, New Hope is sort of Pennsylvania's Provincetown. Clean, comfortable and staffed by the nicest (and best) tattoo artists in the region, Living Arts is the only place I will ever get inked. My first tatt was from a rival shop in the same town, and while I was satisfied with their work, their demeanor and general customer service was poor, at best. The guys at Living Arts are just terrific, and I highly recommend them, should you be so inclined to use their services.

Then tonight was an informal gathering of folks I recently reconnected with at my HS reunion last fall. We drank, we ate and we all complained that we are closer to the half-century mark than any of us would like to admit. Still, we look fabulous and a great time was had by all.

I still have two days left before I have to return to my day job. Who knows what adventures await (though I'm thinking 'not many')?

I know I've promised a giant post on The Zombie Zone, and that is coming, tomorrow. And I'll be back to my usual nonsense come Sunday.

More, anon.

PS - Today would have been my father's 72nd birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad, wherever you may be...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Birthday Review: "Inception"

I'm both exhausted and wound-up from my rather whirlwind Birthday at Coney Island and I wanted to make sure I talked about this movie while it was still relatively fresh in mind, having actually seen it last night.And you should know that I deliberately read only one review and won't read any others until after I have finished posting this. I will try my best to not be spoilery, as I know not all of you have seen it yet. And I will try not to gush too much, because I'm certainly aware that there's an awful lot of gushing about this film, already.

I suppose I should start by saying that I have never really been a Leonardo DiCaprio fan. I think I said before that he appears to finally be aging into his looks. Not that I find him attractive at all, but he is certainly less creepy-looking to me (Haters stop now, aesthetics are purely subjective). Still, no matter what I may think the film's star, I so very much like the film's director and the rest of the film's cast, that I was willing to forgo my DiCap-reversion and am happy to admit that I am not in the least bit sorry that I did.

In Inception, the latest film from Writer/Director Christoper Nolan (The Dark Knight; The Prestige), DiCaprio plays Cobb, an industrial spy who uses a "not strictly-speaking legal" technology to extract information from a person's subconscious by willfully invading their dreams. Cobb is also wanted for a crime which he keeps him from rejoining his children in the U.S. and agrees to one last job working for Japanese mogul Saito (Ken Wattanabe) in exchange for a phone call which will exonerate him, forever. But this time, the client wants an idea implanted in his rival, a process known as "Inception."

Nolan's layered (both literally and figuratively) film explores all sorts of concepts of time and perception, as well as their effects on the unswerving Human Condition. Heady stuff? Perhaps, but not nearly as dense (or "too smart") as I have heard complaints of. Yes, it's complicated, but if you pay attention (and Nolan gives his audience plenty of reason to, right off the bat), it follows its interior logic flawlessly. Like Nolan's previous best film, The Prestige, Inception is a cinematic puzzle whose journey is equally (if not more so) important as the payoff. Think of it as a visual maze, if you will. And Nolan's script, far from exposition-heavy as some critics have said, keeps the action moving forward at exactly the right pace, dispensing relevant information as and when necessary. Wisely starting the movie with the central conceit's technology already in place, Nolan forces the audience into accepting its validity, whether they want to, or not. The premise works because he says so, and we're okay with that.

Of course, dream invasion has been the subject of plenty of films in the past. 1984 saw both the Dennis Quaid vehicle Dreamscape and Wes Craven's original A Nightmare on Elm Street. And there are plenty of famous dream sequences (and even dream movies) throughout film history. So what sets Nolan's film apart? Well, for one thing, he has assembled a cast that is more than up to the demands of the film's intricacies. DiCaprio is fine here as a tortured professional with family (particularly wifely) issues. His determination to be with his children again is the driving factor in taking on this particularly difficult and dangerous assignment, all while he struggles with guilt and doubt of his own. In her best performance since Hard Candy, Ellen Page is the newly recruited "architect," responsible for creating the dreamscape. The always excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Drag Me to Hell's Dileep Rao and hot up-and-coming Brit bear Tom Hardy make up the rest of Cobb's team, each with his or her own specialty. Marion Cotillard is Cobb's disruptive wife Mol, while Tom Berenger (sadly looking every day of his age); Pete Postlethwiate; Lukas Haas and Nolan regulars Michael Caine and He-of-the-Exquisite-Cheekbones-and-Dreamy-Blue-Doe-Eyes, Cillian Murphy, round out the exceptional supporting cast.

As for the much-talked-about visual effects...? They were flawless and indeed, unlike anything you've ever seen before. And, I am delighted to report, NOT in GD 3D! The trailers are merely the tip of the iceberg. My companions and I saw it on a regular AMC large screen, and it was still astonishing. Nolan, Cinematographer Wally Pfister and Production Designer Guy Dyas have constructed a labyrinthine world worthy of anything M.C. Escher could have devised, yet strikingly original and just off-setting enough to keep you on your toes.

As with Memento and The Prestige, the audience must pay careful attention to Inception's plot as it unfolds. But also like those aforementioned movies, Nolan's direction grabs and holds your attention from the very first image, to the very last. Hans Zimmer's pounding, pulsating score helps ratchet up the tension most effectively.

Inception is a movie that demands to be seen on a gigantic screen in order to fully appreciate it. Smart; sublime; introspective; philosophical and just down right entertaining, Inception is the single best movie I have seen all summer, if not, all year. **** (Four Stars)

More, anon.

I'll Blog If I Want To

This is a postcard from Luna Park, Coney Island's Premiere Attraction in the early 20th Century. Uncle P is so obsessed with the accounts of the attractions at Luna Park, he wrote an as yet un-scored musical about it and it's founders.

Since it's after midnight here, it is officially my Birthday. And if you must know, I am Old Enough to Know Better and Young Enough to Say 'F**k It' and Do It Anyway, Bitches! I have been this age for quite some time now and expect to remain this age for quite some time yet (or at least, I hope to).

Several of Uncle P's dearest friends, including D, K, Q and Dale - as well as some old college buddies he hasn't seen in ages are joining me for an adventure to a place I've never been and I can't wait. I'll post pics and stories... eventually.

And for the curious, here's some footage of the original Luna Park, shot in 1903:

The boat ride was called the Shoot the Chutes and it's obvious there was more thought given to thrills than to safety. The pile-up on the slide at the end would be a tragic accident, today. Still, the story of how that amazing place came to be is just as fascinating as the place, itself.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Rudest Gay Thing You'll See Today

I'm up late after a very pleasant reunion with a dear friend I haven't seen in ages, but I had coffee at 10:00 PM. MISTAKE!

Anyway, while catching up on things, I came across the clip below on Towleroad and was both appalled and delighted by it, and just had to share with y'all. Please enjoy TaMMie Brown's 'Clam Happy!':

How... how rude! Still, take the stupid wig off and I wouldn't kick that boy out of bed for eating crackers.

I'm counting this as a Friday post, because I haven't been to bed yet.

More, maybe on Monday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Uncle P is on vacation from his day job starting this afternoon, and while I'm taking what some people call a "Stay-cation," I won't be posting very much at all next week.

I'll be doing a super-sized Zombie Zone post tomorrow and I'll pop in to talk about some of the day trips I'll be taking (Coney Island for my Birthday, Atlantic City one day, etc.). At some point, I'll post my review of Inception, as well as a picture of the new ink I'll be getting, but don't hold your breath for more than a few.

It's supposed to be another scorchingly hot week here in the East, so most of my time will be spent in the air-conditioning, trying to finish the first draft of my latest screenplay.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

More, anon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Heat Is On

By now, regular readers know that Brit action star Jason Statham is at the top of my obsession list. No, he doesn't have the beautiful good looks of Brandon Routh or even loony-tune Tom Cruise. But damn! -- He is Masculinity personified... All I ask is an hour alone with him... TMI? Maybe. But posts on Caliban's Revenge about hot men are not exactly a priority. In fact, there are only 23 posts in two years with the label "Hot." Still, in my book, they don't come much hotter than Mr. Statham. Of course, aesthetic taste is completely subjective. You may find Jason Statham repulsive, for any number of reasons.

Over the past two years, I've posted about more than a few celebs who "turn my gears," as it were. Most recently, it was gorgeous Bollywood star Hrithic Roshan who caught my attention. Then there was the very hot and very gay video for Lady Gaga's "Teeth." Damn! And there was Dennis; Victor; Bradley; John; Alexander; Will; James; Ryan; Nathan; Hugh; Jake; Daniel; Cody; Adam and the one that started it all, Danny.

Needless to say, these are all fantasy men, who probably wouldn't give Uncle P the time of day if he passed them in the street. But still... you have to admit they all share an undeniable hotness for any number of reasons. And while Caliban's Revenge may not be one "those" blogs (you know the ones I'm talking about, even if you won't admit to visiting them), when I see something I like, the shrinking violet I am can't help but talk about it.

Such is the case with latest hottie to catch my eye, Isaiah Mustafah, former NFL player and star of Gillette's brilliant "Old Spice" body wash campaign. Isaiah has been all ove the web, posting video responses to Twitter tweets and blog posts about the campaign:

I don't know about ya'll, but I'd have no trouble finding Isaiah in the woods, no matter how he smelled, especially if he was only wearing a towel.

Okay, enough TMI for one night.

More Anniversary Nonsense, anon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

That's So Gay

Here's my question... If being gay is a choice, then why on Earth would anyone deliberately chose to be a member if the single most hated minority on the planet? Does that make sense to anyone?

"Yes, I'm gay. I want to be hated, persecuted, executed and beaten-up by straight people. I want my lifestyle to be judged by people who know nothing about me or the people with whom I choose to associate. I want you to tell me that the person I love is the wrong person to love. Tell me that God hates me because I'm gay, but loves me if I repent. I am evil because I love someone and want to express that love through sex. I am 'less than' because my love doesn't produce children who will go on to give money to a church that says I am evil." Yikes! What the hell is wrong with you people?

To date, I have 82 posts with the label "Gay;" 28 with the label "LGBT;" 53 with the label "The Gayest Thing;" 18 with the label "GLBT;" 16 with the label "Marriage Equality;" 5 with the label "Homophobia and 4 each with the labels "Gay Cinema" and "Coming Out." Of course, many of those cross-over.

So here's the thing:

Homosexuality is something that appears again and again in the animal kingdom (don't ask me to cite examples - there are far too many) and has been a part of human sexuality ever since the existence of humans. Of course, the Religious Right (which I continue to maintain is neither) and asshats like Anne Coulter and Bill O'Reilly will tell anyone who is willing to listen that being gay is sinful. On the other hand, every member of the Community will also tell you that he or she was born gay. Who should we believe? The homophobic "Christians" or the people who, through no choice, live the life?

Being gay in America, even today, means that you are "different." It means that you do not have the same rights as every other person on the planet and that who you love makes you a "bad" person.

Someday -- maybe not in my lifetime -- being gay won't be viewed as 'abnormal' or 'sinful' by the majority of people. But as long as lunatic fringe groups like NOM and Focus on Family exist, there will be people who, ignorant anything which happens in the real world, believe that being gay is 'wrong' and gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgendered persons will be labeled "perverts" and "sinners." To those uneducated, Tea-bagging morons I say "Get over it, already."

Hmmm... an Anniversary Rant. Who would've thunk? Maybe what they all need is an SGF:

More, anon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Horror...

Surprisingly, out of 284 posts on Caliban's Revenge with the label "Movies," there are only 123 with the label "Horror." Considering it always has been my favorite genre, I'm quite puzzled to find that less than half my movie posts were about (or at least mentioned) Horror Movies.

In December of last year, as the decade was closing, I made a list of the Top Ten Horror Movies of the Decade, but I don't think I've ever done a Top Ten Horror Movies of All Time. And since I'm still in Anniversary Celebration mode, I figured "What he hell? Why not?" So here, for the first time ever, is Uncle Prospero's 10 favorite Horrors of all time. And just so you know... I have tried to be as selective as possible in separating Horror from her two cousins, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, though it wasn't always easy, as you will see. So, without further ado and mostly chronological order...

10. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari -- 1919

Director Robert Wiene's German Expressionist Horror masterpiece concerns a carnival hypnotist and his "somnabulist" slave, Cesare. Weird angles; portrait-like set-ups; light and shadow juxtaposition; surrealist sets... name a trait of German expressionism - it's in The Cabinet... (all puns intended). Wiene, along with directors like Fritz Lang, Carl Bose and F.W. Murnau, was already trying to experiment with and redefine the fledgling American art form. Considered by many to be the first actual Horror Movie and told primarily as a flashback, the film also features a "twist" ending worthy of O'Henry - long before M. Knight Shamalamadingdong's father was born.

9. The Phantom of the Opera -- 1925

In the late 90's, I was lucky enough to attend a Halloween screening of Rupert Julian's original film version of Gaston Leroux's novel in the chapel (really a Cathedral) at Princeton University. The movie was accompanied by a live organist who played the original score. Let me tell you, when Mary Philbin's Christine pulled the mask off of Lon Chaney's Erik, there were still genuine screams among the audience. What else needs to be said about a 70+ year-old movie that still makes girls scream?

8. Dracula -- 1931

Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi became a star with his performance in the stage version of Bram Stoker's Gothic novel about the Carpathian blood-sucker, so it was only natural that directo Tod Browning cast him the movie version. Probably the first horror movie I can remember seeing, Dracula is still a fascinating, atmospheric film. All that having been said, the Mexican version (shot on the same sets at night) is technically a better movie.

I apologize in advance for the tool hosting this clip, but it was the best example I could find:

7. The Bride of Frankenstein -- 1935

Gay director James Whale's masterpiece sequel is both horrific and hilarious, featuring wonderfully daft performances from Colin Clive and Ernest Thesinger as Dr. Pretorious. A study in style:

6. Cat People -- 1942

Producer Val Lewton (I Walked with a Zombie) and director Jacques Tournier created this creepy story about metamorphic race or leopard people. Paul Schrader's 1982 remake, starring Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell was a special-effects shocker, but couldn't hold a candle to the oh-so-atmospheric original.

6. Psycho -- 1960

How much more can anyone say about the single most influential Horror movie ever, made a master filmmaker at the height of his career? Psycho not only changed filmmaking, but also changed audience attendance habits. Hitch insisted that no one be allowed in the theatre 10 minutes after the movie started and audiences have arrived for movies before showtime, ever since.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- 1974

Director Tobe Hooper makes his first appearance on this list with his low-budget tale of a cannibalistic family of lunatics was inspired (as was Psycho) by Kansas serial killer Ed Gein and his house of horrors, which included furniture made from human bones. Showing no actual gore, Hooper (making his first of two appearances on this list) made a terrifying movie that would eventually establish the 80's slasher phenomenon. It intoduced an iconic Horror villain (Leatherface) and Hooper's 1986 sequel, set mostly in the tunnels beneath an abandoned amusement park, is as close to a filmed nightmare as I care to come.

4. Halloween -- 1978

Another low-budget shocker from director John Carpenter, Halloween started a Horror sub-genre that still thrives, today. Slasher movies were a staple of 1980's Horror and the recent (though rather lame) remakes of TCM, Halloween and Friday the 13th prove the staying power of the genre. It also made a star out of Jamie Lee Curtis and a cult celebrity out of PJ Soles.

3. The Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2 - 1981/1987

Director Sam Raimi (the only other director with two films on this list) made his mark with this cheapie about a group of teens in an abandoned cabin in the woods, who unwittingly unleash an army of Canderian demons. The sequel is basically a comedic remake which inspired an hysterical Off-Broadway musical.

2. Poltergeist -- 1982

Stephen Spielberg produced Tobe Hooper's biggest hit (and best film) about a suburban family plagued by the restless spirits of people who have had a development built atop their graves in one of the few movies in which both my sister and I can tell you what's happening simply by hearing the score. Closets, televisions, clown dolls and tennis balls have never been the same. "It knows what scares you..."

1. Drag Me to Hell -- 2009

Sam Raimi returned to the genre that made his career in one of the most exciting, disgusting and hilarious Horror movies of the last 30 years. Christine pisses off an old gypsy woman, and is cursed to be dragged to hell by the demon Lamia...

Honorable Mentions:

Alien -- 1979

Sorry - Ridley Scott's take on bad 50's Sci-Fi is a classic "Dark House" horror movie, despite being set in space.

Trick 'r Treat -- 2008

Micheal Dougherty's anthology is the most fun I had seeing a horror movie since Drag Me... and I am looking forward to both its sequel and whatever else Dougherty has in store:

Yes, there are plenty of Horror movies I love, but these are my favorites. And don't even start in on me about The Exorcist - a very good, but not scary (to me, at least) film. So, what are your favorite Horror movies? You know I love to hear from you.

More celebration, anon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Gayest Things We've Seen

Shane Mercado remains a very tiny footnote in entertainment history for two reasons:

One, he had a viral video hit with his home-video version of Beyonce's "Single Ladies," featuring a scantily-clad Mercado replicating the dance from the video in his own bedroom.

And two, his video was the first-ever "The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week" her on Caliban's Revenge. That's Shane and Gaga's Beyotche, backstage at a concert.

Lately (though hardly surprising and just a little sad), Mercado seems to be making money dancing for what the sex industry guys like to call the "sophisticated adult audience."

Still, as I found my voice and style (cobbled together with a few things borrowed from other -- often better -- bloggers), Mercado provided me with a running gag/recurring theme and endlessly amusing personal meme, of sorts. I suspect a straight blogger would probably be called on this... unless he or she had already established his/her gay-friendliness. But I digress. Here's the one that started it all in October of '08:

Wow! That's still pretty gay. My next TGTYSTW (that's an odd acronym that needs shortening or abandonment...) post wasn't until the following December and featured a young man playing Stripper in the Shower (until his Mom catches him). Here's MrEladdy in Britney's "Circus:"

Yeah... still pretty darn gay.

The next Gayest Thing post was a clip from the FX series "Nip/Tuck," which has since been removed from YouTube, but features yoga and a gentlemen who wants his *ahem* reduced because he can't stop *woo-hooing* it. Of course, even the straight boys will tell you that if they could, they would...

And I'll be damned if I can find the original (I'm tired), but I know I posted this adorable twink's bathroom Karaoke version of Kelly Clarkson's "I Do Not Hook Up" sometime in there, as well:

So cute! Since then, The Gayest Thing posts have gone on to include plenty of stories, videos and links some might find offensive. And to those people, I say "Get a Life!" Don't like what you see? Change the channel. Visit another website. Leave the theatre.* Close your eyes. Oh, sorry... that's right. They're already closed.

Here are a few more of The Gayest Things I saw and shared over the last few years:

That was Sweet and Low-down...

Have you ever seen 3 more adorable Bears?

Only my favorite Flashmob video ever! It makes me wanna dance!

Oh, Torchwood, how I miss you!

Is it sad that I totally identify with that boy?

Beautiful. But now I want a shave and a haircut...

I am... and thanks, Katie. I don't blame you...

And almost finally, the man I'm hoping will win America's Got Talent:

What a voice! And he's gorgeous...

And most recently, this dirty little Mime (is there any other kind?) video, "Silence=Filth."

Oh dear... I think I may have contracted the vapors!

More Anniversary Nonsense, anon.