28 May 2007

"When I die, it's going to read, 'Game Show Fixture Passes Away.' Nothing about the theater, or Tony Awards, or Emmys. But it doesn't bother me."

—Charles Nelson Reilly, 1931-2007

27 May 2007

How did Keira Knightley become so annoying?

23 May 2007

I recently bought David Mamet's new book, Bambi vs. Godzilla, which purports to be an "exhilaratingly subversive" look at Hollywood. It isn't. In fact, it's pretty boring, with a minimum of anecdote or gossip, a lot of heavy-handed theory, and a disinclination to speak poorly of anyone except the dead (e.g., Laurence Olivier). You do, however, learn that Mamet's favorite movie is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, and his wonderful wife's favorite movie is I Know Where I'm Going! Say what you will about the Mamets, but they've got excellent taste.
Nothing ruins a lovely spring day quite like the arrival of the fifth anniversary report from your college class. Flipping through this red-bound tome, I realized that I spent way too much time composing my own entry, and it isn't nearly as cool as Noah's, which reads, in its entirety, "Unknown."

14 May 2007

For the first time in over three years, I'm back at the scene of our original crimes. I'm producing the Igor Stravinsky Orgy back at WHRB. It runs 8 am to 10 pm (eastern) today through Wednesday. Tune in wherever you are on whrb.org!

11 May 2007

I saw six cities and countless museums and monuments, but my favorite memory of Europe is probably my visit to St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Thanks to Lawrence of Arabia and Powell and Pressburger, I'm a devoted Anglophile, verging on a High Tory, and this is the British equivalent of the Holy of Holies. All the same, I'm not sure how to reconcile this with my equally vehement love of Napoleon.
Well, I'm back. One of my more interesting experiences occurred right at the end, when I was randomly detained at U.S. Customs, which searched all of my luggage and even forced me to open the candy bars that I'd bought at Heathrow. Apparently their suspicions were aroused by the fact that I'd spent three weeks in Europe with only a bookbag, and had bought nothing but postcards. (Come to think of it, it does sound a little strange...)

I was also subjected to a random bag check in the London Underground, by a constable who was considerably more courteous than his American counterparts. He even gave me a copy of his report, which noted, to my great satisfaction, that I was 5' 9" tall and "of medium build."
I enjoyed Spider-Man 3 far more than the lukewarm reviews had led me to expect, and it's infinitely brisker and more entertaining than the lugubrious Superman Returns. Afterwards, though, I found myself reflecting on the many missed opportunities, of which I'll only mention one.

The casting of Topher Grace as Venom, which seemed curious at the time, turns out to be a conceptual masterstroke. Clearly, he was cast for his resemblance to Tobey Maguire, which is uncanny, but he's much more than a doppelganger: his approach to acting is wonderfully mannered and quick where Maguire is reserved and sly, and the contrast between their acting styles, combined with their physical similarities, could have resulted in the most interesting comic book confrontation in years.

Alas, they're kept apart for most of the movie, and when they're onscreen together, the results feel lukewarm. Maybe it was the distraction of so many villains, or the need to keep Venom offscreen until the third act, but we're left with frustrating glimpses of a movie that would have outdone Face/Off in its hero/villain dynamics. It isn't clear if Venom will return for a sequel, but it's obvious that somebody needs to make a more fully realized version of Tobey vs. Topher. And it would probably star Elijah Wood.

08 May 2007

I'm currently in London, by the way, and my only guide is a waterlogged copy of the 2000 edition of Frommer's Guide to England, which I found on the sidewalk in Park Slope a couple of months ago. (Or, more accurately, my only guide are the ten pages that I excised from the center of the guidebook before my departure, in order to save weight.) It's pretty accurate, I guess, but I still had to go online to verify that there was such a place as the Tate Modern.
Part of me suspects that I went all the way to Canterbury merely to verify that they sell the DVD of A Canterbury Tale in the cathedral gift shop. Thankfully, they do.
The trouble with spending a few weeks abroad is that you start sounding like the caption to a New Yorker cartoon. Seated at an outdoor cafe on a gorgeous day in Florence, looking out at the Palazzo Vecchio: "I miss Brooklyn."