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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, January 30, 2009 20 comments

"Mother Goose, you pussy! - Slider, "Top Gun"


The volleyball scene in 'Top Gun' has to be at the top of the most unintentionally home-erotic sequences in modern film as it seemed a bit odd that there appeared to be so much Baby Oil involved in a friendly beach game.

Anyway, my head is a little thick from celebrating my birthday yesterday, but since I plan to continue the festivities through the weekend, there is no time for rest and instead, let's look at the hard stories of the week (and there weren't many):

It was announced this week that Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' will be turned into a musical based on the album and video where Jackson transforms into a werewolf while out on a date.

The Nederlander Organization said in a statement that it had acquired the rights, and Jackson is expected to participate in the musical’s creation. In a statement, James L. Nederlander, the president of the organization, said: “I love the idea of making ‘Thriller’ a musical. Girl meets boy, they fall in love, boy has big secret, now what ...?”


Then, the boy turns into a flat-out weirdo, begins bleaching his skin, hanging out with chimpanzees before ultimately fleeing the country in disgrace after multiple accusations of pedophilia. Wait, maybe that's another story . . .

Jessica Simpson showed off a much fuller figure and "mom-jeans" at the Radio 99.9 Kiss Country's annual Chili Cookoff in Florida this past Sunday.

No explanation was revealed, however, Jessica's sister - Ashlee Simpson - came quickly to her aid and declared: "I am completely disgusted by the headlines concerning my sister's weight."


To which media outlets responded: Would you rather have us talk about the ridiculous name you gave your son? (Editor's Note: Name - Bronx Mowgli Wentz).

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Joaquin Phoenix's bizarre career change from acting into a rapper, which Casey Affleck (who's married to Phoenix's sister Summer) has been filming, is a joke at the expense of the entertainment media and actors who take themselves too seriously.

"He said, 'It's a put-on. I'm going to pretend to have a meltdown and change careers, and Casey is going to film it,'" says one source who recently worked with Phoenix. "It's an art project for him," says a source. "He's going full out. He probably has told his reps that he's quit acting. Joaquin is very smart."


Phoenix obviously isn't smart enough to pull off a 'joke' that is actually funny.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced Thursday on the ABC daytime chat show "The View" that she's pregnant with her third child, due in August. She said: "We are thankful for such great news and will begin planning our zone defense strategy immediately."


Meanwhile, Hasselbeck's co-stars on the View said they are simply thankful the pregnancy will entail another maternity leave.

Mickey Rourke - Oscar-nominated for his turn in 'The Wrestler - said he this week that he's ready to rumble with WWE superstar Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 25 in Reliant Stadium on April 5.

Rourke made the surprise announcement on the red carpet before the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, and the actor later added that he was going to throw Jericho "around the ring like tossed salad."


I hope the 'tossed salad' comment wasn't prison lingo for something else - seems doubtful.

As always, let's end with a golden image or two to set the mood:



I hold no advanced degree in "Psychic Sciences," however, I can easily predict what might occur if I were thrown into either situation depicted here. So, don't be afraid to predict the future today, consider going back to school and . . . Happy Friday!

-BDS

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Interview MeMe . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, January 28, 2009 13 comments

I came to this MeMe that has been making the rounds somewhat late, however, a noted pugilist gave me questions to answer, so . . .

1. Your movie script has been green lighted and you're heading to Hollywood - what is the first stop you'd make when you get off the plane? Chateau Marmont and check into the hotel because it's a fairly legendary place for Hollywood debauchery. I'd reserve a suite, then head directly to the bar and send out someone to grab In N Out burgers around 3 a.m.


2. You're given the chance to appear on these reality shows: The Apprentice, Survivor, American Idol or, The Biggest Race. Which one would you choose and why? American Idol is out because I can't sing at all. The Apprentice is out because Donald Trump makes my queasy, although if his daughter - Ivanka - was there, then I might reconsider. Survivor seems too difficult and living without food around a group of people I can't escape from isn't appealing at all. So, I would choose "The Amazing Race" because you'd get to visit some different countries around the world and it seems like a good time.


3. You've won a free trip anywhere in the United States, except New York, L.A. or Chicago. Where would you go? Mendocino. Right now, I could go for a place with loads of wide open spaces for hiking, not very many people and wineries all around.


4. You can star in any movie you've ever watched. What would it be? Tough one . . . Ignoring any adult movies, I'll go with George Clooney in "Ocean's 11" because you'd get the thrill of an intricate heist to exact revenge on a guy who stole your wife, plus you get to end up with millions of dollars as well as Julia Roberts, dress well and hang out with your friends. That sounds like a pretty good gig to me.


5. You're throwing the party of a lifetime and can hire any band - who would you pick? If it was a big party, then I'd go with Guns N Roses - the original line-up. If that was an impossibility, then I think I would still go with The Rolling Stones even though they are not my favorite band, however, they still seem like a good choice to whip a party up even though they are climbing the age bracket.


-BDS

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Thoughts on "Revolutionary Road" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, January 26, 2009 11 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee or rental. This film had potential to be a very engrossing - if somewhat depressing - view into a marriage unraveling in the suburbs, but while "Revolutionary Road" is not a mess, it only rarely rises above the mediocre.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. I feel like one viewing is easily enough for this movie.


1)"Revolutionary Road" focuses attention on a couple in the 1950s whose marriage comes apart after moving to the suburbs where they confront their own lost dreams and the harsh reality of their new circumstances.

Director Sam Mendes has mined this territory before in "American Beauty," and 'Road' examines pieces of the same familiar turf as that movie - minus the humor.

2) The main problem I had with 'Road' is that it thrusts viewers into the downward spiral of the union of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, so the two hour running time is largely spent watching them fight bitterly with each other.

It would have been far more effective dramatically to have focused more attention on their initial attraction and burgeoning relationship because it would have allowed viewers to invest themselves emotionally into the pairing, and consequently, actually felt something when the pairing turns challenging and ugly.


3) Leonardo DiCaprio anchors the film well, and turns in one of his better acting performances. He still looks younish, however, his features are starting to thicken, for lack of a better word, as he slips more easily into adult roles. This physical transformation serves him well in 'Road,' and he conveys a wide range of emotions very effectively, the most impressive of which occur during the quiet moments where his face showcases his conflicted feelings.


4) Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses working today. That being said, I didn't feel this was her strongest work. Her role was challenging, especially with the downcast dialogue she was given, but Winslet overacts in several places and is a bit broad in others. Sometimes, it seems that she is acting for a stage production versus a feature film.

She does display some very fine work when showing the restraint and quiet desperation of her life, yet there are too many sequences that aren't nearly as well-played.


5) Michael Shannon, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in 'Road,' plays the son of a family friend of Winslet and DiCaprio who has just been released from a mental hospital. He only has a few scenes, but he certainly leaves an impression as he uses them to tear into the hopes and dreams and motivations of DiCaprio and Winslet.

But for me, his role was a microcosm of what is wrong with 'Road' - bombastic when it needed subtlety, blatant when restraint was called for and bludgeoning when a little bit of quiet could have made the issues in play much more deeply affecting.

-BDS

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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, January 23, 2009 17 comments

"I'm very sorry for your loss. Your mother was a terribly attractive woman." - Gene Hackman, "The Royal Tenenbaums"


I admire those people willing to state things as delicately as Hackman, who nailed the delivery for most of that movie. But today feels like a day for sugar-coating hard statements because I rarely allow myself to take ugly detours on Fridays. So, with that in mind, let's look at the hard stories of the week such as:

Joaquin Phoenix, who announced his retirement from acting late last year, showed up for a performance at LAVO in Las Vegas this past week to showcase his talents in his next career - as a rapper.

“This is me saying who I am,” Phoenix, 34, told People magazine before taking the stage to perform. “This is my story.” Phoenix performed two songs, then slipped and fell coming off the stage.


I guess his "story" had a poor ending and needed better editing.

The Parents Television Council issued a warning this week to parents about the Britney Spears song "If U Seek Amy" and urged radio stations not to broadcast it because it "would violate the broadcast indecency law" if aired between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The group believes that saying the title quickly produces a sound close to spelling out the F-word. PTC president Tim Winter said "There is no misinterpreting the lyrics to this song, and it's certainly not about a girl named Amy."


I just wonder where Winter was when "Hit Me Baby One More Time" was so popular because that seems equally as bad.

Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor were at the Sundance Film Festival this week, promoting their forthcoming gay romance movie, "I Love You Phillip Morris."

At a press conference following the film, Carrey said kissing McGregor was: "A dream come true. I mean, look at the guy."


To fully prepare, Carrey also stated he had watched "Trainspotting" in slow-mo to "get a better look at Ewan's package so I knew what I was working with."

It was reported this week that Kelly Osbourne was arrested earlier this month on an assault charge in connection with an August 2008 incident at a London nightclub, the Daily Mail reported.

Osbourne allegedly slapped Daily Mirror gossip columnist Zoe Griffin because in a column, Griffin called Osbourne's fiancé, Luke Worrall, stupid and said that the 19-year-old didn't know what an earthquake was.


It was also reported that Osbourne violently shook Griffin for several minutes while screaming "this is what a fucking 7.2 magnitude Earthquake feels like you bitch."

Alyssa Milano received a restraining order this week against a man she says has repeatedly tried to contact her and showed up at her home unannounced.

A judge in Ventura County granted Milano a three-year restraining order on Dec. 23 against Jeff Turner, who lives in Northern California, and who according to the order, "had hiked miles to try to meet her and repeatedly called to get access to an event where she was appearing."


In response, I immediately cancelled my cross-country trip to California since Milano has gotten so litigious.

"Entertainment Tonight" reported this week that George Clooney will make one last cameo appearance on “ER” before the medical drama calls it quits in early April.
Sources informed “ET” that Clooney will film scenes for the show very soon.


There's no word on whether Clooney will bring back the 'Caesar' haircut for his return to television.

Shia Labeouf had his driver’s license suspended for at least one year as a result of his July 27 car crash where LaBeouf refused a chemical test after officers pulled him over, People.com reports.

LaBeouf was originally booked for a misdemeanor DUI, but the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence.


In a related case, officers did find sufficient evidence - a DVD copy of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - to suggest that Labeouf could never carry Harrison Ford's jock-strap for that role.

As always, let's end with a pleasing image or three:



I just felt like pushing even more images out today as things, both good and bad, tend to run in threes, although these shots are decidedly a good thing in my book. So, don't be afraid to increase your output today, acknowledge the power of three and . . . Happy Friday!

-BDS

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Fuzzy Locker Room Tales . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, January 21, 2009 17 comments

I had just finished my workout, and was washing my hands in a nearly empty locker room when he walked inside.


He was a nondescript 50ish man wearing standard workout attire. Nothing special, nothing flashy. I barely gave him a glance until I returned to the bench that we now shared, if only for a short while.

I was wearing glasses, an occurrence which happens approximately two or three days every month when I choose to give my eyes a rest from my disposable contact lenses.

"Wow. Those are great glasses. What kind are they?" the man asked as he stood near his open locker and casually began undressing for the shower.

"Calvin Klein," I responded automatically since I had recently spent my remaining Flexible Spending Account money buying them at the end of 2008. I hoped this would end the conversation, because as a general rule, I don't make it a habit to engage in extended discussions inside men's locker rooms.


"They are great. I've got a few pairs of Marc Jacobs at home . . . " And there was more, but I was beginning to let my mind wander into more pleasant areas, so I missed many details. I do recall, however, that we discussed his vision starting to get worse as he aged and my own which had been poor since the seventh grade.

During the entire vision dissertation, the man continued to get buck naked.

Once he was down to his tighty-whities, and it was obvious that the train had left the station and nudity would ensue, I took off my glasses and began cleaning them on my shirt. This was a fine idea because he immediately became a pale, white blob of fuzzy flesh since I can't see a damn thing without my contacts or glasses.


I threw a few remaining items in my gym bag, and walked to the door before putting my glasses back on. He told me to have a good day, and I returned the sentiment to him as I exited laughing about the bizarre semi-nude exchange and pondering why the glasses I chose had betrayed me so quickly.

-BDS

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Thoughts on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, January 19, 2009 20 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Full price for length, but otherwise, a matinee would be the better value. This film clocks in at nearly 3 hours, and while it is very good, it will eat up an entire night, so I would recommend an afternoon matinee.

Will I Own It On DVD: Probably. This movie has frequently amazing cinematography as well as fine acting, and the whole thing will look great on Blu-Ray.


1) "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" takes its idea from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and while it keeps the central conflict of a man born elderly and aging backwards, it takes a far different path from the original source in crafting a very fine project tackling themes of love, loss, connections and mortality.

2) The script was penned by the same screenwriter of "Forrest Gump," and it's impossible to ignore some of the parallels between the stories. The main cross-over lies in the decades-long relationship between a man's quest to be with a somewhat self-involved woman who only rarely recognizes his devotion (this was much more evident in 'Gump' as it plays out realistically in 'Button').

'Benjamin Button' handles this thread better than 'Gump,' which allows the relationship between Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to resonate more powerfully due in large part to Blanchett's character - Daisy - stepping outside of her own life affairs and into the relationship far more quickly than Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), who takes forever and day to stop acting like such an egomanical strumpet.

3)Brad Pitt gives an excellent performance in the film. It's easy to forget that he has considerable talent since his movie star status sometimes overrides it. In 'Benjamin Button,' Pitt turns in a remarkably restrained and elegant acting job. He wisely steps back from the abyss of sentimentality that could have drowned the movie if left to lesser hands (director David Fincher also keeps things away from that territory), and recedes into a quietly magnetic character who strongly anchors the entire project.



4) Cate Blanchett is Pitt's long-time love interest, and as always, she delivers a nuanced performance that is a perfect foil for Pitt. Her character changes considerably during the length of the running time, and Blanchett makes her truly multi-dimensional and emphatic while never losing or dulling the edge of the character.


5) I'm not generally that impressed by special effects, but those seen in 'Benjamin Button' were semi-amazing. Often effects wizardry can distract from the film, but here, they only enhance it as the make-up and digital work done to age both Pitt and Blanchett is simply phenomenal.



Overrall, 'Benjamin Button' is a superior product. It wrestles with big ideas amongst a sprawling story and has a cast that delivers in spades from the leads to the supporting players as nobody hits a false note.

The first hour is somewhat slow, but the pacing of the film provides a steady backdrop for many gorgeous shots, memorable vignettes and viewers are ultimately rewarded for sticking it out with a well-crafted fable that leaves a mark.

-BDS

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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, January 16, 2009 15 comments

"I would like to invite you both to spend the weekend. We'll eat well, we'll drink wine, we'll make love." - Javier Bardem, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"


You have to admire an up-front invitation like that, and I only wish I had tried such honesty back in college (and also had as much success as Bardem does in the film).

But honesty has no place in the office today as spewing out criticism on a range of topics would not be wise. Besides, it's Friday and that kind of ugly thinking can hold until Monday, which leaves more time to study the truly riveting news of the week such as:

Fergie and Josh Duhamel were married this past week in Malibu at a ceremony with a white fantasy theme and the event took place under magnolias filled with thousands of white roses, People magazine reported.


For their first dance, the couple continued on the flower power theme and free-styled to Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

Howie Mandel was hospitalized in Canada Monday with an irregular heartbeat after taping his new show "Howie Do It!", his publicist said.

"Howie is in the hospital being monitored for an irregular heartbeat but doctors expect him to be released and back to work tomorrow," Kay said in a statement. "He did not have a heart attack."


In fairness, his body probably just revolted at having to be associated with a TV show carrying such a stupid name.

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen and New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady are now engaged, according to People magazine.

As for the wedding, "The couple is discussing a huge fashionista event in the spring or a more intimate and quicker ceremony in Costa Rica, where Gisele has a home," the source tells the publication.


As for me, I plan to weep in anger regardless of the size of the ceremony.

Singer/actress Hilary Duff signed this week to play a young lawyer in a future NBC sitcom titled "Barely Legal," a comedy based on the true story of an 18-year-old who passed the California Bar Exam in 2007.


I'd suggest a title change unless the show wants a demographic that NO advertiser wants to sell towards.

Amy Winehouse's jailed husband - Blake Fielder-Civil - began divorce proceedings this week seeking a divorce on the grounds of the soul diva's alleged infidelity.

Winehouse and Fielder-Civil married in May 2007, but he was arrested six months later over an assault and sentenced to 27 months in jail. Fielder-Civil was later released into a drug rehab center but sent back to prison weeks later for breaching his bail conditions.


Winehouse's lawyer has filed a counter-suit for divorce because Fielder-Civil is "a fucking moron."

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck announced the name of their new daughter this week as: Seraphina Rose Elizabeth.


If nothing else, Seraphina's restrained name goes to show just how badly most Hollywood parents choose in selecting ridiculous monikers for their poor children.

Naomi Campbell ended her legal tussle with a former maid this week after the ex-employee accused the supermodel of hitting her and calling her names.

Gaby Gibson, who worked for Campbell from November 2005 through January 2006, was reported to be happy with the settlement, although terms of the settlement were kept confidential.


That being said, Gibson has already hired a team of maids for her new apartment and plans to start tossing phones at them immediately since that is the behavior she's come to expect.

As always, let's end with a gold image (s):



I personally enjoy a little sexy behavior while sitting at home or buying produce at the grocery store. So, remember that any area can turn erotic, don't be afraid to put yourself on full display and . . . Happy Friday!

-BDS

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Corporate Etiquette 113 . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, January 14, 2009 22 comments

{The workplace is a jungle filled with jackals, wineheads and bosses with mouths like a crocodile. There are also decent people, but I'm starting to question the percentages. This is the 13th in a series of corporate encounters which offer no easy resolutions.}

I was sitting on my couch this past Saturday, idly nursing a beer, reading a magazine and watching an NFL football play-off game, when my phone rang and jarred me from my comfortable stupor.

Flashed across the television screen read: Jane Doe (not her real name) - the head of the Human Resources department at my office. This nifty phone perk of Time Warner Cable brought me to a near panic because I couldn't fathom why I would be receiving a call from Jane on a Saturday afternoon.


This occurrence was a first after nearly 3 years of employment with the firm.

Like most companies these days, everyone has a vague unease about their own job security and we had been re-orging within my particular department the previous week, so my thoughts flashed warning lights as the phone continued to ring. I was finished - fired - and my boss hadn't even displayed the balls to do it himself.


Then again, maybe it was the college intern who seemed to find my humor questionable. Maybe she finally turned me into HR - the blabbermouth.

I grabbed the phone.

"Hi BDS, it's Jane from work."

I knew it. My television had already told me so.

Jane suddenly launched into a story about her son and her husband who were trying to get in shape in the New Year, and how they wanted to order protein powder, needed advice, etc. She knew I kept powder at the office, and used to be a trainer, so I found myself giving out websites to buy supplements, general tips and other nonsense for the next 15 minutes while my heart returned to a normal beating pattern.

Then, it was over.

After I drained my beer, it was time for a little anger. That conversation couldn't have waited until Monday? Also, the only reason Jane had my home number - which very few people have in or outside of work - was due to her role as HR director and she had abused her power over protein powder?


Too many questions with no good answers, I suppose.

Besides, even if I felt the need to complain to HR, it's difficult to air a grievance about the HR director to the HR director - there's an inherent conflict of interest. It must feel good to be above the law.

-BDS

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Thoughts on "The Wrestler" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, January 12, 2009 16 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Full price. It's worth the extra charge to watch Mickey Rourke absolutely nail the part of Randy "The Ram" Robinson. The film itself is also quite good.

{Editor's Note: I wrote this review yesterday afternoon, prior to Rourke winning a Golden Globe for Best Actor last night.}

Will I Own It On DVD: Yes. I've been a Rourke fan for a long time, so it was great to see him reclaim the potential where he began his career back in the 80s with "Body Heat," "The Pope of Greenwich Village" and "Diner."


1) "The Wrestler" takes on a subject - professional wrestling - that was overdue for cinematic examination. It is a fascinating take on a "fake" sport where the matches might be fixed, but the pain is very, very real. This character study focuses on Rourke, who plays a one-time wrestling superstar whose glory days are long past, yet he continues to struggle in third-rate venues trying desparately to retain the cheers from the crowd.


2) The film rests entirely on Rourke's performance, and he pushes material which could have easily veered towards cliche or maudlin territory firmly into great heights of emotion.

The parallels between Rourke's own career and that of Randy "The Ram" are impossible to ignore, however, he never once cheapens the performance by asking you to feel sorry for a man struggling against time that has passed him by.


3) Rourke's body and face are also impossible to ignore. The actor looks nothing like he once did, and his misshapen face, which looks like silly putty stretched in various directions, shows every scar he's earned along the way. It has been altered enough that one might worry about his ability to manipulate it to dig into the emotional core of such a character, but it's a testament to his own abilities that everything comes straight through to the audience.

His body has also been enlarged for the role. It is fitting and somewhat enlightening to watch the transformation that must occur to be a wreslter, someone who the crowd expects to be part Superman and certainly a bit cartoonish. The tools that get Rourke there include steroids, hair dye, full-body shaving, excessive tanning and the film shows the maintenance needed for the up-keep, especially as you age.

4) The supporting cast is also uniformly excellent as Evan Rachel Wood and Marissa Tomei round out the people in Rourke's life outside of the ring. Tomei plays an aging stripper, and the actress displays excellent chemistry with Rourke while giving her character weight in a somewhat thinly-drawn role.

Besides turning in several fine performances the past few years ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), I'm also finding Tomei sexier every time I see her as she is far more attractive now than when she was starting in the business with "My Cousin Vinny."


5) The soundtrack to "The Wrestler" is also stellar, and captures a lot of fun 80s hair-metal music like Quiet Riot, Ratt, Guns N Roses and others. Bruce Springsteen also penned a tune that ends the film, which is really good and will likely be Oscar-nominated.

"The Wrestler" is a low-key gem of a movie. Rourke definitely deserves an Oscar nomination as he wears this role like a second skin, and by the end of the movie, if you're not pulling for his character to leap from the turnbuckle one more time, then you are one cold-hearted son of a bitch.

-BDS

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