25 April 2006

Kurt Droessller

My brother-in-law passed today, after a long battle with cancer.

I have mixed feelings, for I'm sad, yet glad that all this has come to an end.

My poor sister and her two children -along with Kurt -have been put through the ringer with the lung cancer that eventually spread to his brain.

God knows if he had just stopped smoking, gained the weight he need to take the therapy, he could've survived longer. But he refused to give up those damn cigarettes, and I hate him for that. He just didn't want too enough, and that is sad, as he robbed all his children of their future with him. Now Steven and Kyra must learn to live without a dad, and my sister must live without a husband.

While I know Dawn is doing things -like going to school to learn to be a nurse - she now must bring order to her house of chaos. I hope to God that she can make things work. For to long, her kids have made her life more complicated than it needed to be. And while talking to them seems to be a battle of wits (Kyra's eye rolling and Steven's petulant play on teenage angst) with a wall. They think we have no understanding of what they are going through, which is bullshit. They think that they have it more difficult and we just don't understand.

But the reckoning is in their future and Kyra needs to understand she lives in house where she has no rights and Steven needs to realize the world does not revolve areound him and he will have to listen to his mother and Aunt if he wants to see age 19.

But for Dawn, I send all my hopes and wish that she is strong enough -with help from the family - that she can bring order to her house.

Resty in peace, Kurt. I hope you find the rest and peace you could not find here on Earth.

21 April 2006

Superman II to get two versions this June

This June 20 sees Warner Bros. releasing new DVD editions of Superman, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, along with the third season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and season 3 & 4 of the classic 50s series The Adventures of Superman and lastly, season 1 of the late 80s series Superboy.

As I mentioned in a post back in January, Warners has also finally agreed to release a second version of Superman II, the one directed by Richard Donner. To save production cost, Warners had the writers, producers and director film Superman and its sequel simultaneously. But as production problems where adding up -and facing a possible delay release of the first film -the Salkind’s and Donner stopped working on Superman II (with about 80% or more of the film finished) and worked on getting the first film in theaters.But the Salkind’s and Donner’s tenuous relationship boiled over before the director could return to finish Superman II and he was fired. The problems that the Salkind’s faced was -besides a dealy in the planned release of II - was keeping Donner’s name off the film. But DGA rules were in his favor, due to the fact so much of the sequel was done.

So, the Salkind’s decided to reshoot most of the film with Richard Lester now at the helm. They scrapped much of Donner’s work and reworked the script -adding some the cheesy humor that took over the film. Plus, during this time, Director of Photography Geoffrey Unsworth passed away, and in solidarity with Donner, composer John Williams refused to score the sequel (his theme was used, but the score was completed by Ken Thorne) and actors Marlon Brando (who was only suppose to be in a small part in Superman II; those scenes were filmed using Susanna York) and Gene Hackman refused to work with Lester.

Despite some these problems, Superman II worked, but with two decades behind it, the film does have an obvious chaoticness to it, with Donner’s scenes juxtapositioned (basically all of Hackman’s scenes) in with Lester’s; a tale of two very different directors and styles.

Now with a chance to fix what should’ve never happened, Donner has supervised this new version and it will released on June 20.

14 April 2006

FOX'sThe Loop is one their better attempts at comedy

For the most part, I’ve been going on and on to anyone who will listen, how much TV is going to the dogs. Advertisers want the youth money, yet the people who are watching TV these days are not youths, but mostly adults above the age of 25. This schism creates some bizarre contradictions in programming. Sure, as I’ve said before, American Idol draws huge ratings and crosses over many demographic, however, take out the voting public, and Idol is nothing more than a show designed to give people a false impression of reality; once again showing only the genetic lottery winners (the thin, perfect features, and preferably white) need apply.

And then there is the endless tripe thrown at us, from the mindless programming of CSI and the Law & Order franchises, to lame comedies such as Two and Half Men, Freddie and most of The WB’s Friday night line up. And while FOX will pull a show quicker than Dick Cheney shooting at a friend, it occasionally will give us a quirky, goofy show that defies logic and survives.

While I cannot forgive them for killing Arrested Development, I have to admit I enjoy The Loop. I’ll grant you that has a great cast, that includes two very hot men, Bret Harrison (who I first noticed in Grounded For Life) as Sam and Eric Christian Olsen as brother Sully. There’s two girls, but I could careless. Then there’s Mimi Rogers and Phillip Baker Hall, two veteran character actors who elevate the sometime sophomoric humor to new heights.

And maybe because the show is set in Chicago, the old home town, also might figure into why I like this show.

The Loop is about recent grad Sam (Harrison) as he tries to work in the shark infested waters of cooperate America, working -more or less - as hatchet man as a no frills airline. There, he tries to find a balance between his career as this young hotshot executive and demands of his roommates. He lives with his older, slacker brother Sully (Olsen) and his college pal/medical student Piper; and Lizzy, who tends bar at their local hangout and is oblivious to the fact that everything always goes her way because she's so good looking.

Harrison has a rubbery face and plays the straight man very well. His double takes and ability not to get silly make his character very appealing, as he tires his hardest not be what every corporate drone has been for decades.

Meanwhile, Olsen’s Sully is atypical older brother seen on TV and in the movies. He’s the slacker, and actually seems to be younger than his brother. The actor is appealing and like Harrison, cute and lovable.

Perhaps the other aspect of the show is the writing, as The Loop is created by former South Park writer Pam Brady and Andy Richter Controls the Universe writer Luis Gluck. Both have a talent for offbeat humor and satire -something that is missing in 99.9% of TV comedy.

The gem of the show is Mimi Rogers and Phillip Baker Hall who seem to having a great time with these broad roles. Rogers Meryl is so politically uncorrect, and seems to take a cruel delight in teasing him -not only as his role as this junior drone, but sexually also - that she seems to be enjoying this role immensely. And Hall has made a career out playing villains and jerks, that his turn as the CEO of the airlines -who seems clueless at times, but ruthless in giving his customers less for more money - is perfect casting.

Then there’s Chicago. I love my old town, don’t get me wrong. I just hate the weather, where only 3 months out of the year is it really great place to live. The show does look as it is filmed there -those old bungalow style houses seem unique to the Windy City - but they had to film these episodes last summer or early fall, has there was a lot of outside filming (I’m guessing the interiors are filmed here in LA) as there have been many episodes so far with Harrison and Olsen nearly naked.

Anyway, The Loop has its appeal and I can’t explain why (beyond the hotness of Harrison and Olsen) and it could be a suitable (but not perfect) replacement for the now cancelled Arrested Development.

But, from my impression, FOX seems to like this show, giving it tons of exposure. Whether that translates into a second season, is unknown until next month.

But, I may now have found a reason to watch FOX (though I do like Bones). But the bitter cancellation of AD is still fresh in my mind.

I’ll be watching.

10 April 2006

Book of 2006, Part 5: Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons


Dan Brown

So, I finally broke down and read a Dan Brown book. While a fairly densely plotted book of religious gobbly gook, it is well paced (I started it Saturday morning at Starbucks and finished it last night just before 11pm), but over all, it is a pulp novel that has very little lasting memory. Still, I can se why the Catholic are up in arms about what Dan Brown is writing about. As a catholic myself, I know the Vatican and their staff across the world, do not like people poking into their past. And while I would agree that science has a tendency to ignore moral issues with claims that these new break throughs will help the world, the Church is also afraid to admit that they use fear and guilt to control their flocks. For without fear the Church looses its grip. And while science can improve (almost) peoples lives who will be held accountable if they prove Jesus did not exist?

09 April 2006

Harry Potter gets a July 2007 release date

Warner Bros. has announced that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth movie in the book series, will be released on July 13, 2007.

Now, depending on the time frame of book 7 -the final book in the series, you can bet that The Half-Blood Prince should be in theaters by Christmas 2008 followed by film seven the summer of 2010, maybe a few weeks shy of Daniel Radcliffe's 22nd birthday?

Of course that last films release date depends on when the book is released. I'm guess, that Rowling will release that book in 2007. Based on a few things in the past; while there was three years between book 4 and 5, there was only two years between five and six. Rowling claims that the final chapters are already written, all she has to do is fill in the beginning.

While she has a lot to wrap up, unless she expects this last book to be as long as 4, 5 and maybe 6, I still see a July 2007 release obtainable.

Of course, there is a draw back to this notion. With Warners already scheduled a release date for Order, would they (and Scholastic Books) want to be in competition with each other? It's only logical to assume that Book 7 would come out in June of July of 07 so kids would be out of school and could read it. But with a movie and a book out at the same time, could cause a conflict.

So, the other option is this: Rowling will wait until summer 2008 to release that final book, months before Warner releases the film version of book 6 (just like in 2005). But to finish the film franchise before Radcliffe is way too old (before his 23rd birthday), they would need to working on Book 7 ASAP to get out by 2010.

So, its a calculated risk to release a movie and the final book in July of next year, but that might just happen. As always, this is just speculation. If she releases book 7 in 2007, expect an announcemt around Christmas (just like in 2004). If we hear nothing, then is it's a safe bet 2008 will see that final book.

05 April 2006

Do we need 9/11 films?

This Septemeber will be the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Since then, we seen specials on the attacks, some documentaries and books.

But are we ready for the movies about the attacks? One TV movie about United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania has already aired on cable. Now, Universal will release a motion picture, dramatizing those events.

United 93, which will center on the struggle between hijackers and passengers aboard the doomed plane, is being billed as a story of courage and sacrifice. But for some who saw the 2 minute trailer have expressed shock that a movie has been made so soon after the attacks that left nearly 3,000 people dead.

The question is: how soon is too soon? Some members (but not all) of the families who lost loved ones on that Tuesday, have expressed the desire that the film will honor those who died, while others have said that with only 4 1/2 years passed, a movie is not necessary .

True, many of many movies have been made about tragic, historical events: Pearl Harbor, Midway, Titanic (almost every war film) and let alone TV movies about true-life serial killers. Should their be a proper length of time before making films such as this? And who would want to see a film about a day that everyone in America will remember what they were doing until they shuttle off this mortal coil?

I remain ambivalent about it. I think there should be a movie about that tragic day in September, but I'm convinced that it should not be made until the nation can put a lot of water under a lot of bridges. Fifteen to 20 years seems a bit more realistic than 4 1/2 years, even if its about"courage and sacrifice."

The film opens on April 28.

03 April 2006

Books of 2006, Part 4: A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job


Christopher Moore

After what I felt was a set back with The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore returns to fine form with a funny book about death. Well, how one Charlie Asher, after loosing his wife after the birth of their daughter, takes on the role of Death Merchant.

As with all of Moore's books, his humor is sharp, sarcastic and often cruel and sometimes a bit sick. Still, you can't be bored with his work, as the silly meets the macabe and everyone seems not to be generally playing with a full deck. And like his last few books, Moore brings back previous characters seen in Bloodsucking Fiends.

While Lamb remains my personal favorite, all of Moore's book are a treat to read, a like David Sedaris, they are more fun to read while surrounded by strangers. If only because you have to laugh out loud, and that makes people turn to you.

Now I'm off to (finally) read Dan Brown. I've put him off for the three years that Da Vinci Code came out. So now that Code is out in paperback, I'm finally going to read it (after Angels and Demons, of course).

Oh, and the Cubs beat the Reds 16-7, the fourth year in a row winning their opener. Of course, they don't have a chance in Hell of going to the World Series.

Still, I want to Believe.