Blog Archive

Mountain Man . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, July 29, 2009 12 comments

I’m leaving for the airport in an hour, bound for Taos, NM to spend a long weekend.

There’s not much on the agenda outside of visiting in-laws, hiking through the mountains, eating as much red and green chile as I can stomach, reading, rafting, swimming and hitting the best donut shop I’ve ever found at least once per day. It all sounds pretty fine to me, especially since it’s another 100 degree day in Austin.

Everyone have a strong finish to the week and I’ll be back on Tuesday. Maybe.


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Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: '500 Days of Summer': Matinee or possibly full price if your wife/fiance/girlfriend would make you see another romantic comedy like 'The Ugly Truth' instead of this one, which is several cuts above most projects in this genre.

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen': Matinee. Unless you're paying per explosion - in which case you could easily justify payiing full price - then you might not be too disappointed with paying matinee prices even though this is a long, loud and fairly dumb exercise in summer movie-making.

Will I Own It On DVD: '500 Days of Summer': Possibly. If the price comes down on this one ($15 or under), then it might be worth owning one day.

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen': No. It might be worth one more viewing (though probably not) to watch Megan Fox and the fairly nifty special effects, however, it is not worth owning.

1) '500 Days of Summer' was a buzzed-about project from this past Sundance film festival, and it generally earns the praise that was heaped upon it because it soars above most romantic comedies thanks to a story that is frequently more tart than sweet, and above all, realistic versus merely a stylized pairing of actors. A narrator (one slightly irritating part of the film) warns viewers from the start that '500 Days' is not a love story, but that is not true, it's simply not a neatly presented one, which makes it more believable.

2) The other trick that the film uses effectively is time sequencing as the title refers to 500 days in the relationship between Gordon Joseph-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, a narrative device that skips all over the place during its running time, so you might see an early blosomming relationship vignette followed by another where things are becoming strained. This is not as gimmicky as it sounds, and to its credit, the film tends to focus on the in-between points of a relationship instead of the standard arc that most rom-coms adhere to with a fierce devotion.

3) At the end of the day, however, these kinds of films rely heavily on the chemistry (or lack thereof) of the lead characters. In '500 Days,' both Gordon-Levit and Deschanel give fully realized performances both individually as well as when they are developing their relationship. This allows the audience to pull for both characters even though neither is wholly guily or innocent as things start to unravel, and it is a testament to both actors skill that they don't allow anyone to turn into an audience scapegoat.

4) I only saw the first ‘Transformers’ movie a month or two ago mainly because from the first preview and description of the idea, I thought I would absolutely loathe everything about the project outside of Megan Fox. But it turned out to be perversely entertaining – if far too long – mostly because it didn’t take itself too seriously, had some cool special effects, a less irritating turn by Shia LeBeouf than I figured and also had a fun performance by John Turturro as well as the aforementioned Fox, who director Michael Bay liked to film with an unseen wind machine constantly blowing her hair around like a soft-core porn video.

5) Unfortunately, ‘Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen’ is louder, longer and dumber than the original and even seeing it on an IMAX screen (which was semi-cool) couldn’t enhance the material enough to even recommend it as a guilty pleasure. I guess if all you want is 2 ½ hours of bombastic explosions and people yelling ‘Run,’ then you’ll probably like the movie, but for me, this got tiresome fairly quickly. That being said, the special effects are even more impressive this time around, although that also means new robots, the majority of which range from mediocre to irritating to borderline racist.

6) ‘Transformers’ is not a franchise overly concerned with acting, so it’s hard to rate performances when the majority of screen time is spent running with sweat dripping off your face (Shia LeBeouf) or with a heaving bosom (Megan Fox). But nobody really stands out in this sequel as everyone is adequate (even Turturro isn’t quite as fun as the original), but the law of diminishing returns has definitely set in, which is unfortunate because the movie sets itself up for another entry and based on the vast sums of money this one is raking in, it seems like a foregone conclusion that a 3rd film is inevitable.


Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, July 24, 2009 19 comments

“So that you might come to a reading in Paris and I could walk up to you and ask, "Where the fuck were you?" – Ethan Hawke, “Before Sunset”

‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’ are small, character-driven films which are long on dialogue, and a really fine one-two punch if you’re in the mood for the genre. I’m personally ready for the sun to set on work today since the office feels as stifling as the 100 degree heat outside, but to focus on the positives, there are breakfast tacos in the break room.

So, before I scarf two of them with coffee on the side, let’s look at the hard stories of the week such as:

After almost seven years dating, Janet Jackson and music producer Jermaine Dupri have reportedly broken up, according to Us Weekly.

Dupri, who was noticeably absent from Michael Jackson’s memorial on July 7, produced several of Jackson’s recent tracks on her last two albums — which could have contributed to the split, according to the article.

“You shouldn’t mix business with pleasure,” a friend of the former couple said. “Janet felt their lives were too crossed and they should have kept things separate.”

Hopefully, Janet made Dupri sign a prenuptial agreement to keep her money separate as well.

Actress Mischa Barton was put under an involuntary psychiatric hold at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last week and remains hospitalized and the production start on CW's new drama "The Beautiful Life" has been pushed back by a week to July 31.

But despite Barton's widely publicized recent meltdown, sources close to the show are claiming that the reason for the delay was due to some of the sets not being completed on time.

Barton will remain in the hospital until she stops requesting all staff members to take her back to ‘The O.C.’ where she was still popular.

Paula Abdul might not be returning to ‘American Idol’ next season, according to her new manager.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, David Sonenberg says he doesn't have a proposal for a new contract for Abdul. He says it doesn't appear she'll be back, and auditions for the new season begin next month. Meanwhile, Abdul’s fans have started a Save Paula campaign using Twitter to try to get Fox to bring the singer back to the hit show.

I’m not sure who’s crazier – Paula or her fans behind the campaign.

Carrie Prejean -- the recent Miss USA who was stripped of her title by Donald Trump – announced a new book deal this week.

The dethroned beauty queen will tell her story in “Still Standing”, which is set to be released in November 2009, and will detail what happened behind the scenes at the pageant, why she answered the gay marriage question as she did, and what she believes really led to her losing the Miss California crown.

It would be published sooner if Prejean would talk to her ghostwriter instead of just smiling and waving during every writing session.

Charges against Kiefer Sutherland for allegedly head-butting a fashion designer who was talking with Brooke Shields and breaking his nose in a New York City nightclub are over.

The Manhattan district attorney's spokeswoman said Tuesday that misdemeanor assault charges against the actor are being dropped because the alleged victim wouldn't cooperate with prosecutors. Sutherland's attorneys declined to comment Tuesday.

It appears that Jack Bauer got the job done – again, although it took a lot longer than 24 hours to do it.

Chris Brown made a public apology Monday for the incident in February that sent his then girlfriend, Rihanna, to the hospital, a charge which he plead guilty to last month and received probation.

In the Youtube posting, Brown said:

“Since February, my attorney has advised me not to speak out, even though ever since the incident I wanted to publicly express my deepest regret and accept full responsibility,” the singer said in a two-minute clip posted on his official YouTube channel. “Although I will do some interviews and answer some questions in the future, I felt that it was time that you heard directly from me that I am sorry.”

Brown is also sorry he’s had awards show invitations taken away and lower album sales since then, but didn’t address those issues in his apology.

Actor Stephen Baldwin is millions of dollars in debt and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.

The ‘Usual Suspects’ actor and recent born-again Christian filed the documents Tuesday in federal court in New York, and they show that Baldwin owes $1.2 million in two mortgages on a property about 30 miles north of New York City valued at $1.1 million. The document shows he also owes more than $1 million in taxes and has about $70,000 in credit card debt.

Baldwin was forced to file for bankruptcy after asking both the Lord and Keyser Soze for money and neither stepped forward.

As always, let’s end with a gold image or two:

I've always admired flexibility, although I'm usually not so enamored of extreme close-ups, however, we all make exceptions under the right circumstances. So, keep an open mind today, don't worry about getting too close to others and . . . Happy Friday!


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Doomsday to Lucky Day . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, July 22, 2009 16 comments

It was the flashing blue and red lights in my rear-view mirror that woke me up this morning.

Per usual, I was driving to the gym and drinking coffee while still half-asleep. I had just entered the freeway, and instead of merging directly, I sped by the driver going slowly in the right lane before signaling and then cutting over two lanes to the unoccupied middle one before settling into a long straight shot to the gym.

Then I saw the lights in my mirror.

I continued driving, and hoped they were meant for someone else. But they weren’t, so I exited the highway, cursing as I pulled to a stop on a nearby side street. The male cop came to my window with a question as I sat inside kicking myself for not seeing him on the road.

“What’s the hurry this morning?”

I didn’t say anything, largely because I had no good answer, and because I was still lethargic from sleep.

“I got you going 79 miles an hour in a 65 zone, and you cut across three lanes of traffic,” he continued.

It was only two, however, I let the numerical error lapse without acknowledging it.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I was just trying to merge, and . . . “ I trailed off and held my hands in the air and let everything else drop.

He took my license and registration back to his vehicle. I knew I was doomed. There was no question about it. I was guilty as charged, and dressed in gym clothes that would garner zero sympathy because I obviously wasn’t going somewhere important. It had been almost a decade since my last ticket, and now that streak was about to end. I wondered if I could still take defensive driving since I was going close to 15 miles an hour above the limit.

The cop came back with his pad out, handed me my license and then passed me the ticket – a warning ticket.

“You drive more carefully,” he said as I thanked him for his leniency and quickly drove away before he had a chance to reconsider.

Maybe it was lack of begging or explaining that helped out. Or maybe it was my relatively clean record or my karma was somehow tipping things in my favor, but I suddenly felt like today might just be one hell of a lucky day. I need to go buy a lottery ticket at lunch to test the theory.


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Success, Nudity and Buttercream Icing . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, July 20, 2009 14 comments

The party is over, and all evidence it ever occurred has been destroyed or returned to its normal loft existence.

Overall, I would rate the night as successful, however, I would stop short of wildly successful because nobody cried and nobody got naked. Either of those instances could have pushed the soiree to new heights, but alas, it wasn’t in the cards that night. But everyone came, ate and drank and the guests stayed anywhere from two to six hours which was manageable and didn’t make me want to throttle the stragglers for outstaying their welcome.

A few lessons I learned, which might are probably obvious to people who do this regularly included:

• Plan to sleep in and then drive immediately to your favorite place for brunch the next morning. The dirty dishes and mess will be there when you get back, however, you will feel more inclined to tackle it after eating a plate of migas, having a mimosa or bloody mary and drinking at least six cups of strong coffee.

• You will always have too much food so only buy things you want to eat yourself. Saturday and Sunday were spent grazing on leftover sushi rolls, cold cuts, bell peppers, carrots, hummus, chips and salsa, and cupcakes. If anything, I would limit the extra cupcakes because the only thing eating extra cupcakes makes you want to do is continue eating leftover cupcakes while sitting on the couch and I swear that I was sweating pure buttercream icing at the gym this morning.

• 'Planet Earth' on Blu Ray supplies the best background images available for a party. I figured this would be a good idea since there would be music playing, and you missed nothing by only viewing the movie pictures without verbal narration, but the guests went even wilder for this mini-series than I anticipated. One minute the video is traveling through landscapes like the Tetons or the African Sahara in vivid colors and then you’re watching a great white shark leap out of the ocean to gobble a seal (or possibly an otter, I can’t entirely remember). Regardless, it inspired various comments like “I feel like I’m running down the mountain with that billy goat” to “this is making me really horny.”

• If you want pictures, then you should pick your friend who spends the most time inside Facebook and ask them for help. I did not follow this rule and the only pictures I got were of the early set-up shown above as I quickly forgot about the camera and focused on more pressing issues like drinking and the bathroom and occasionally drinking in the bathroom to save a trip.

I’m sure there were other lessons learned, but those are the main ones that stick out on a Monday morning. Everything went smoothly, and yet I don’t feel the need to throw another one for quite awhile despite there being 2 or 3 more discs of Planet Earth that I’ve yet to watch.


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Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, July 17, 2009 17 comments

"Don't you know that eating that stuff can give you very large breasts?” – Val Kilmer, “Real Genius”

I love ‘Genius’ as it stands as an 80s classic, and features a relaxed and funny performance from Kilmer before he starting taking himself too seriously. Besides, how can you not love a film where some dude lives in a closet?

Oh well, it’s going to be hectic day as I’ve still got food to pick up and beer to ice for the party, so before I leave the office by 3 p.m. to get it all done, let’s look a the hard stories of the week such:

Ryan Seacrest signed a new three-year deal this week with CKX, parent of "American Idol" producer 19 Entertainment, worth $45 million.

Under the pact, which is believed to be the richest ever for a reality host, Seacrest will be exclusive to CKX in broadcast TV primetime to host "Idol" or any CKX-produced show that might succeed it. "Idol" producers 19, FremantleMedia North America and Fox all declined to comment on Seacrest's new deal, as did his attorneys.

Nobody spoke because everyone involved remains embarrassed by the situation.

Singer Oksana Grigorieva released a preview of her new music video directed by her boyfriend Mel Gibson this week.

People magazine revealed the video for Grigorieva's song "Say My Name" from her upcoming album, "Beautiful Heartache." The video was filmed in Mexico over 7 days, and features a torrid tango session.

It also features scenes of slow-motion torture, impalings and cries of ‘Freedom,’ which is how the average viewer will know that Gibson directed it.

In other Gibson news, the actor is in negotiations to star in the whimsical drama "The Beaver," a film about a man and his beaver puppet with Jodie Foster also in discussions to direct and co-star.

{Insert your own beaver joke here}

Jessica Simpson and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo have split up as the athlete broke it off with Simpson the night before her 29th birthday, according to

"She is heartbroken," said the source. "She loves Tony. But it's been difficult lately. He's busy with his career and she's getting ready to shoot her show (The Price of Beauty). They decided to part ways."

I guess Romo is now hunting for a new tight end to throw the pigskin with. Ouch.

Molly Ringwald, 41, and her husband Panio Gianopoulos, welcomed twins this week as daughter Adele Georgiana and son Roman Stylianos arrived after a natural birth in Los Angeles, according to People magazine.

The two new additions will join their five-year-old sister, Mathilda Ereni.

Once Ringwald has two more children, she will finally have enough to fill out a complete Breakfast Club at her house.

Robert Redford married artist Sibylle Szaggars this past Saturday evening in Hamburg, Germany in front of 30 family and friends.

Speaking to People magazine, Pastor Frank Engelbrecht of Hamburg's St. Catherine Church, said the couple "wanted a very intimate ceremony."

It was unconfirmed, but prior to the wedding, Redford allegedly made Engelbrecht an Indecent Proposal that she accepted after much deliberation.

On the flip side of marriage, Amy Winehouse's marriage finally ended Thursday when the singer and Blake Fielder-Civil were granted a divorce by a judge in London.

Winehouse married Fielder-Civil in Miami in 2007, but he was arrested six months later over an assault and sent to jail. He filed for divorce earlier this year on the grounds of her infidelity.

Divorce papers filed stated that Fielder-Civil found living with Winehouse "intolerable," and Winehouse acknowledged adultery and said she would not contest the divorce.

Winehouse only requested the return of her crack pipes in the settlement.

As always, let’s end with a gold image or two:

It felt like an extra hand might be needed today, and these images just made sense to me. So, find a good partner, engage in mutually productive behavior and . . . Happy Friday!


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It's My Party . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, July 15, 2009 15 comments

Throwing a party is for suckers.

Seriously. It is a poor idea, and a trap where all your time will be swallowed whole and just when you think everything is covered, six more things spring up from the underbelly that require immediate attention as well as more money. Selah.

My wife and I are having people over to the loft on Friday for reasons I can’t entirely remember. One impetus was the painting we had done recently downstairs, and the rest are just vapors at this point. But the important thing is this: They are coming. They is not even that many people (maybe 20), but it’s still enough to dominate my time this week as I’m working on that as much as my actual job.

Yesterday it was picking up the ingredients to make what I’m calling Existential Sangria Wine – so good it will make you question everything.

Today, it’s attempting to make it through Costco for a variety of things including beer, sun dried tomatoes, hummus, Stacy’s Pita Chips and water. And I hate Costco because people wield those massive carts in the most oblivious and foolish ways imaginable and I always feel like running them down like dogs once I’m half-way through the store, yet it’s a necessary evil.

The rest of the week will be spent on sushi trays and cold cuts, ice runs and Ipod mixes, house cleaning and hiding pornography and making sure I get Planet Earth on Blu Ray for background images during the party.

I don’t even like parties. But there’ s no time for that kind of thinking as I’ve got a cup cake order to place and with some luck, I might actually get some work done too.


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Thoughts on 'Public Enemies' . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, July 13, 2009 18 comments

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. If you're a Dillinger fanatic, then you could justify paying full price since you get strong performances and a nearly 2 1/2 hour running time, however, I felt the overrall product is only good enough to pay for matinee box office prices.

Will I Own It On DVD: Doubtful. If I can get it for a good price (i.e. $15 or under), then I might grab it on a whim, but I'm in no rush to own the film since I think viewing it one more time will suffice.

1) I wanted to like 'Public Enemies' more than I did. It boasted an excellent cast, a strong director and an interesting public figure that I knew very little about outside of the legendary name of John Dillinger. But even with a long running time, 'Enemies' sheds very little light on Dillinger's motivations and character outside of a few broad entertaining strokes, and reveals even less about Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), the FBI man who hunts him down.

2) The lack of character depth and details could have been overcome with a more propulsive movie, but Mann directs 'Enemies' in his familiar slow burn style which favors a low-key approach that carves out a fine realistic perspective yet this tone also makes for occasionally flat viewing. 'Enemies' never drags or feels indulgent, however, it could have benefitted from manufacturing more tension in a few places for a stronger overrall product.

3) 'Enemies' also parallels nicely to 'Heat,' a superior cops and robbers saga that Mann directed in the late 90s (?). Both films deal with professionals who take their jobs very seriously despite being on different sides of the law. They both touch on subjects of honor and loyalty and working with a strong crew to succeed. Finally, they both feature excellent actors taking on one another - De Niro and Pacino in 'Heat' and Depp and Bale in 'Enemies' - who unfortunately share only one real scene together.

4) Johnny Depp inhabits the Dillinger character well. It was nice to see him play a flesh and blood person versus a fantasy creation (Sweeney Todd, Willie Wonka, upcoming Alice in Wonderland) as he makes Dillinger easy to pull for thanks to his charisma and live today to the fullest mantra, a theme on display throughout the movie.

The supporting cast is also uniformly excellent with strong turns from Marie Collitard as Depp's love interest, and especially from Billy Cruddup who shines in his role as J. Edgar Hoover.

5) Overall, 'Enemies' is a worthwhile effort that produces consistently good results without ever soaring to spectacular heights. That still vaults it far ahead of most of the other summer films in circulation, and if you keep your expectations in check, then it is a rewarding experience and a fine way to cool off for an afternoon away from the sun.


Quick Hit Friday . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Friday, July 10, 2009 21 comments

“It a choice, Wesley, that each of us must face: to remain ordinary, pathetic, beat-down, coasting through a miserable existence, like sheep herded by fate - or you can take control of your own destiny and join us, releasing the caged wolf you have inside,” – Morgan Freeman, “Wanted”

It’s terrible dialogue like this along with a mean-spirited tone that turned “Wanted” into a waste of time – at least for me. Personally, I have no zero time to waste today since I plan to be gone from the office by mid-afternoon and will be somewhere with air conditioning since the temperature is once again more than 100 degrees in Austin.

But before I find ways to cool off, let’s look at the hard stories of the week such as:

Much like the previous week, this one was dominated by Michael Jackson headlines and some of the major ones were:

• A public memorial was held Tuesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles where entertainers and family performed and spoke of Jackson for more than two hours. Some of the famous attendees were Mariah Carey, Magic Johnson, John Mayer, Brooke Shields, and others.

• Michael Jackson's music sales keep soaring as fans purchased more than 800000 of his albums last week, Billboard magazine said.

• Jackson’s longtime attorney and a family friend should take over the pop singer's estate, a judge said Monday, denying the request of his mother, Katherine Jackson, who had applied to oversee her son's estate

I’m sure there other stories that I simply tuned out or missed, and I only hope that Jackson (and the rest of us) can find some peace and quiet soon enough.

Lindsay Lohan was the subject of a lawsuit filed this week which claimed that Lohan and another woman stole the recipe for a spray tan.

Chemist Jennifer Sunday filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tampa claiming that Lohan took the goods for the product called Sevin Nyne. Lohan and Lorit Simon, a Vegas businesswoman, launched their line in May. Sunday is suing Lohan, Simon, and Simon's company for breach of contract, theft of trade secrets, civil conspiracy, intentional interference with contractual relations and deceptive and unfair trade practices.

It won’t help Lohan’s case if she shows up to court looking as orange as an Oompa Lumpa, which was her color the last time I checked.

In other Lohan “news” this week, the actress reportedly turned down the stripper role eventually taken by Heather Graham in the summer movie hit "The Hangover," reported.

According to Us, Lohan thought the script "had no potential."

Lohan obviously confused the script with her current career – must be all the spray tan leaking into the brain waves.

Paula Abdul, whose contract with "American Idol" expired at the end of last season, confirmed to the Associated Press this week that she’ll be back on the show for a 9th season.

"I've been invited to stay the duration of the show, however long it lasts," she said, adding that she thought details of her contract would be negotiated before the start of the next season. She added "I'm the nurturing mom, Simon's the disapproving dad, and Randy's the cool brother," she explained. "It's been an interesting journey. It's something that I'll always want to be a part of."

She concluded with: “Besides, those prescription pills aren’t going to pay for themselves,” then giggled incoherently and passed out on the floor.

Sharon Stone's rep denied reports this week that the police recently detained the actress at Salt Lake City airport.

Stone, 51, was allegedly met by law enforcement officers after getting into an argument with a flight attendant about her bag before a Salt Lake City-bound Delta flight from Montana after the attendant told Stone to check one of her bags.

Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann had a different story, however, and stated: ``The airport police were requested by Stone. She was traveling alone and had requested in advance if we could give her special assistance because she was traveling alone and didn't want to cause disruption or congestion from autograph seekers.''

It’s been my experience that 3 or 4 people does NOT equate to a “disruption” or “congestion.”

Three's Company star Joyce DeWitt was arrested on suspicion of DUI on July 4th, TMZ reports.

El Segundo, Calif., cops told the website the dinner-theater regular drove past a barricade Saturday. When she was pulled over, an officer smelled booze, and DeWitt was arrested, then posted $5,000 bail.

Reports that DeWitt was out drinking with that sleazy guy Larry from the complex were unconfirmed at press time.

As always, let’s end with a gold image or two:

This is certainly a slumber party I’d desperately try to wrangle an invitation to, and only confirms what I knew to be true since middle school about what happens when females get together. So, have your pillow and blindfold ready today, feel free to confirm long-held beliefs and . . . Happy Friday!


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