Blog Archive

Layer Cake, Finished Scripts & No Dairy

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, May 30, 2005 0 comments

It's been a busy Memorial weekend around my place as I recovered from the Kenny Chesney debacle and managed to concentrate long enough to finish writing the rough draft of our second comedy script - "Monkey Business."

I would also like to point out that we have been using "Monkey Business" as a working title for close to 6 months, which was long before the Black Eyed Peas decided to call their upcoming album the exact same title.

Those derivative bastards.

Anyway, I've been describing the script as "Sideways" meets "Old School" with suburban swingers thrown into the mix. I think this is a winning combination of movies that one might not think of in the same breath, but it fits our script fairly well and the suburban swingers part usually catches people's attention.

I also saw "Layer Cake" during a torrential downpour that for reasons unknown filled the theater with groups of seniors who had no idea that the movie was a British gangster drama complete with salty language, murder and thick accents.

Maybe the title threw them off and led them to believe it would be on par with "Chocolat" or something else light-hearted and cheery. But they were mistaken and many were audibly dissapointed as they left mumbling about "dirty Brits" and asking each other "did you understand that movie?"

Every time I see a film like "Layer Cake" it reminds me that American-made movies are almost always good-looking. I don't mean the actual visuals; I mean the actors.

Virtually all American movies feature characters that are either very good-looking or at least somewhat striking. From small supporting roles to the nobodies billed as "girl #4 killed in garage" during the closing credits our audiences are bombarded with fantastic looks.

On the other hand, British gangster movies are often populated with shifty characters who look like they haven't bathed in awhile.

You can have big ears, bad teeth, thinning hair, massive nose hair, weathered skin or just about any other physical ailment and still be a major player in these films.

In America, you would be unemployed or typecast as an ugly bastard unworthy of anything better than a guest spot on "According to Jim."

I like the British way, however, and think this underlying physical decay in these movies gives a greater sense of realism because I can't leave my house without running into several average-looking people who are woefully underrepresented in Hollywood.

Physical looks notwithstanding, I found the film at least as good as "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and slightly better than "Snatch," although 'Cake' had no crazy Pikies running around and didn't know how to end itself very well at all.

Just seeing a movie called "Layer Cake" was torture for me because I am on a strict diet that includes no dairy, no sugar, no white bread products, limited sodium, but plenty of green beans.

What a deal, eh?

This will last until Friday when I am supposed to meet a New York City modeling agent at his hotel room in Dallas. And doesn't that sound shady?

He is supposed to be a big player in NYC, and has clients who've been on the cover of "Men's Fitness" and many other national magazines and print advertisements.

The meeting stems from a fitness photo shoot I did for a coffee-table book a few months ago (see Blog archives for more) and which will be published this year before most likely going straight to gay bathhouses across the United States.

We'll see if the meeting happens and what the agent's verdict will be, but let me say right now that I've heard the term casting couch and I want no part of it.

I'll do a lot for a job, but unless Sienna Miller (who has a small role in "Layer Cake") is the one sitting on the couch, then I'm staying off of it.

I have no problem writing about lewd acts and other assorted Monkey Business, but I have no desire to actually participate in the kind that could leave me sore and degraded before our imminent departure for St. Johns.


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Kenny Chesney Ruined My Vacation . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, May 25, 2005 0 comments

In a little over a week, my brother and I along with two stellar female companions will be visiting the lush island of St. Johns for a week of sun worship, Hemingway Daiquiris, pulp novels, island exploring, fresh-fish eating, Jeep driving, snorkeling, shark-avoiding, sunset-watching, villa dwelling, and indulging ourselves in a generally slothful manner that sounds perfect to me right now.

The fact that our villa has a VCR player also means that we will be watching old "Beverly Hills 90210" shows that are currently on tapes and sitting in my parent's house (I can't wait to re-visit the Dylan McKay drunken/drugged episodes).

The trip sounded sounded perfect on paper and I've been excited for months about it, but then Kenny Chesney had to marry Renee Zellweger on St. Johns just a few weeks before we're due to depart.

I have long held a grudge against Chesney that started somewhere around the time he began wearing sleeveless shirts and pukka (sp?) shell necklaces. I don't think he's mean or arrogant or excessively egotistical - I just find his music treachly and his persona lame.

He's Jimmy Buffet without the humor or intelligence and just doing bicep curls doesn't compensate for a lack of talent or fashion sense.

To make matters worse, Chesney apparently owns a house or a boat in St. Johns so the odds of seeing him are greater than they've ever been in my life.

My main fear when going to beach locals has been and always will be sharks. After the Zellweger-Chesney union, however, I've got to be extra vigilant on our upcoming trip as one eye will be looking for dorsal fins and the other will be trained on any 40 year-old man wearing a pukka-shell necklace.

The easiest solution for everybody would be to simply feed Chesney to the sharks, but that might be a little harsh.


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Crash Into Me . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, May 23, 2005 0 comments

I saw "Crash" this past weekend, and it was almost exactly as I anticipated from the previews - well-meaning but ultimately a little heavy-handed.

The issue of race is the beginning and end of every action, conversation and thought in "Crash." The movie is set in Los Angeles, but the message is that it could be anywhere, USA and that we all bring our own experiences and prejudices into our daily interactions with other people.

That message is just fine as any movie that makes people examine their own actions in the context of race relations seems more important than any Vin Diesel movie that comes to mind.

The ensemble cast also does a fine job with the material as Don Cheadle and Matt Dillon are particularly good.

My main problem with the movie is that every single problem or issue boils down to race.

Maybe the filmmakers just wanted to drive home their point, but a little more subtlety would have been appreciated.

I'm not going to argue that there's a fair amount of underlying racial hostility, but "Crash" is the kind of movie where a character would be walking down the street and another person could knee them in the crotch, thus making them very angry.

The person who got kneed in the crotch would be justifiably furious, but he wouldn't be mad because he got a sharp, painful object jabbed in his privates but rather because the person who did it was African-American or Hispanic or Muslim or some other nationality that the victim hates.

If a person walked by and kicked me in the crotch, however, I wouldn't care about my assailant's race, religious credo or political idealogy - Whomever it is that just kicked me is going down.

Some things are not about race; sometimes it's simply about the family jewels.


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Things I Just Don't Understand . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Thursday, May 19, 2005 0 comments

I have a neighbor in my apartment complex who drives a beat-up 1980-something Volvo with a busted taillight and rust covering a major portion of the vehicle.

When the car starts it sounds like an old man choking on a chicken bone, and it emits enough smoke to scare me a little bit.

This car should be shot and put out of its misery, but it continues run and I realize there's something to be said for not having a car payment every month. This past week, however, I drove home after work to discover 4 new tires and 4 new high-tech spinning rims sitting on the ancient rusted-out eye-sore.

Does this make any sense in the world?

The tires and wheels are almost certainly worth more than the entire car, and in my view are completely and totally absurd. It's like people who drive broken-down Chevy Cavaliers and yet they feel compelled to put a $3,000 sound system in the trunk.

I know this isn't a big thing, and so I'll just chock it up to yet another item on the long list of things that perplex me about this world.

The entry will be sandwiched somewhere between soft-core pornography and the popularity of Toby Keith.


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Crazy Like A Fox . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, May 17, 2005 0 comments

After Dave Chappelle walked away from his show on Comedy Central and disappeared into the wilds of South Africa, it was reported by several news outlets and inside sources that he had cracked up.

He was either crazy or on drugs. Possibly both.

Chappelle is still in South Africa, but he recently contacted Time magazine to say that he was far from crazy - he was just on a "spiritual retreat."

I don't think I buy that, however, as it smells to me like creative labeling.

It reminds me of the time my garbageman suddenly turned into a "custodial engineer" or when secretary's became "administrative assistants" virtually overnight (although they don't hesitate to accept gifts given to them during Secretary's week).

I can't say that I blame Chappelle for going a little nuts because he morphed from a fringe performer into the hottest comedian working today when he inked that $50 million dollar contract.

That's a big public investment that is bound to cause more people to scrutinize what you're doing. It must put loads of pressure on the brain to come up with funny material lest you be embarrassed and called a fraud or a one-hit wonder who couldn't handle the pressure.

Cracking up a little bit is understandable from that perspective; just don't call it a "spiritual retreat" when you disappear from your show weeks before the premiere, fly to another country and leave everyone with an unfinished product and no idea where you went.

The public and even cable executives aren't stupid enough to believe that kind of crazy talk.

On a positive note, Fox just announced that it will bring back "Arrested Development" next season despite its anemic ratings. The show is easily the best comedy on network television and it's a criminal offense that more people don't watch it.

It's also very offensive to me that people watch "According to Jim" in such numbers that the show just shot its 100th episode. But that's neither here nor there.

What is important is that the network execs got this one right by bringing back "Arrested Development" and proved that it's a fine thing to be crazy like a Fox - sometimes.

[ Editor Note: I've never met a cliche or saying that I didn't like and would utilize if given half a chance.]


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To Live and Die in Austin . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Sunday, May 15, 2005 0 comments

I spent this past weekend apartment-hunting in Austin, and once again the town got the better of me.

It seems that every time I enter into Travis County my brain gets cross-wired and immediately starts sending faulty signals to my body that I can systematically abuse it until I'm able to limp back onto I-35 and drive north.

It's been 5 years since I got out of college at UT, but whenever I return to Austin some sort of Pavlov response kicks in - at least for one night. My brain tries valiantly to transport my body back in time to a place where it never got tired and could manage to drink all night without a hangover the next day.

The problem is that I'm no longer 20 years old and my tolerance for both alcohol and hangovers has gotten abysmally bad.

So, this presents a real conundrum because in a few short months I'll be moving to Austin to set up residence. But now I'm starting to wonder if I can live in a city that has beaten me like a gong for the past several years, and shows no signs of stopping.

Austin has many great things going for it, a lively film industry, Tex-mex, barbeque, live music, outdoor activities and more. It's also got enough distractions for any three cities, and that can get you in trouble.

Steve Earle once noted that although he loved Austin, he could never live full-time in the city because "the girls were too pretty and the dope was too cheap."

Maybe things have changed since he said that, but I'm been fighting a losing battle with the city since May 2000 and I keep coming back for more because there's no place I'd rather be than right inside the belly of the beast.


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Puff The Magic Schizophrenic Dragon

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, May 10, 2005 0 comments

"You a pothead Focker?" - Robert De Niro

It's dangerous business to dabble with dope these days - at least according to a large ad I recently read in my morning newspaper.

I'm pretty sure the ad was placed by the same anti-drug group that pays for those TV commercials which range from being unintentionally hilarious ("Just tell your brother you forgot to pick him up from practice because you were high") to downright creepy (the one with the old woman who haunts the poor teen who killed her while driving impaired on Mary Jane).

The purpose of the ad was titled "Marijuana and your teen's mental health" and seemed designed to whip parents into an emotional frenzy.

According to the ad, "new research is giving us better insight into the serious consequences of teen marijuana use, especially how it impacts mental health." And the results aren't pretty.

Did you know that teenagers who smoke dope have double the risk of depression later in life? Or that they are 3 times more likely than non-users to have suicidal thoughts? But the worst part is that marijuana use has recently been linked to an increased risk for schizophrenia later in life.

This would all scare me to death if I didn't think it was utter horseshit.

I knew several people in high school and college who smoked dope and the only time they got crazy was when we would run out of mint chocolate chip ice cream or Cheetos - and that's a perfectly understandable response.

It was far more common for people to do crazy and reckless things while drunk on alcohol than it was for the pothead crowd.

Smoking dope generally makes you prone to long stretches on the couch while watching movies like "Old School" or "Dazed and Confused."

But apparently marijuana is no longer a lark or a relaxation tool - nowdays you better scare your children straight because "their mental health may depend on it."

I just hope that there's not an ad placed in next week's paper warning parents that masturbation causes blindness later in life because all we need in 20 years is to be surrounded by large masses of blind and schizophrenic animals.

Now that's scary.


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The Bloom Is Off The Kingdom . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, May 06, 2005 0 comments

The best thing that can be said about the new epic "Kingdom of Heaven" is that it looks nice.

The cinematography is excellent, but that doesn't really make up for the fact that the movie is Gladiator-lite, a problem which is mostly due to the casting of Orlando Bloom (although the screenplay doesn't help matters).

Generally, I like Orlando Bloom just fine and bear no grudge against the man just because he's handsome and makes most women squeal in delight. He was excellent in the "Lord of the Rings" triology and enjoyable in "Pirates of the Carribbean."

After his role as a spineless coward in "Troy," he's cast here as a blacksmith who through a ridiculously easy process ends up defending Jerusalem from the Muslims.

It might be his skill as a swordsmen that causes this to happen or it might be the fact that he has by far the best set of teeth in the movie.

Bloom is not helped in his quest for believability by a screenplay that has him turning from the aforementioned blacksmith into a cold-blooded warrior, military expert and confidant to the King after a single, abbreviated sword lesson from Liam Neeson.

Although Bloom tries hard to project an aura of strength, it's increasingly clear that his youthful looks and relative lack of depth are no match for veterans like Neeson or Jeremy Irons.

They look and act like they've seen things and been around wars far longer than it took for Bloom to grow his scraggly beard.

They are real men - a fact that is solidified by Neeson's announcement early in the film that he "once fought for two days with an arrow through my testicle."Call me cynical, but I don't think Bloom would fight for two minutes if he ever caught an arrow in the groin.

Although to be fair, neither would I.


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Bring It On . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, May 04, 2005 0 comments

As if the state of Texas needed to give the national media any more reason to mock us, our team of monkees (known collectively as the state legislature) added another to the list yesterday when they passed the lewd cheerleader bill through the House.

Apparently, the most pressing issue concerning Texas public education is not that the legislature can't find a sane way to finance schools, but rather it rests on the pelvic angles of their cheerleaders.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Al Edwards, a deranged ordained minister from Houston, who called the vote "monumental."

He's right - it was monumentally asinine and a complete waste of time.

Edwards has a long track record of allowing his ministry to ride roughshod over common sense, and once upon a time he advocated cutting the thumbs off drug dealers in prison as a reasonable punishment.

The only fitting punishment for Edward's utter waste of taxpayer time and money would be to strap him to a chair and let squad after cheerleading squad dance suggestively in front of the good Reverend until he started foaming at the mouth.

And then they would dance some more.

On a related note, the scene in "Bring It On" with the militant cheerleading coach is one of the funniest I have every seen committed to film.

Let me see those Spirit Fingers people . . .


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