Friday, July 27, 2007

The Simpsons Movie: Does Whatever a Special Episode Can (Review)

...I didn't cover this one for press, obviously and was going to wait a while for this one but today I had a couple of hours to kill AND I found one of those indie houses that charge 6 bucks for their new films if you go to a showing before just so happened that it was 5:20...So the Simpson's full length movie is finally out and as one who has been along for the ride since Matt Groening's Life in Hell comic series; the squibily-drawn Tracy Ullman shorts, I punked out and blinked...and what's the verdict?

...I don't want to give shit away but this: those clips used during the theater commercials in the lead up to today get used in just under 20 minutes so there's a lot more funny shite that follows, if you're a fan of the whole franchise, you won't be disappointed but be warned: you will not be bowled over...not because the writing is awful, it's just that we've all become inured to it (like when everyone dissed the second two installments of the Matrix for not living up to the first-- how could it?)...The Simpsons movie did not have me crying like, say, those early Halloween specials did back in the day but I've cracked a ten dollar bill on has it's moments, just probably not as many as a lot of people might be hoping for...just to be safe, try to check a matinee...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

This Is England -- Watch and Learn (Film Review)

...I don't know if it's because the A/C hasn't kicked in but, fuck me, it smells like soaked in, fake-butter and seat cushions filled with stale Cola farts up in this piece..a small price to pay in order to see what the fuck this film's about, I'd wager-- still, none of this mixes well with a long bike ride in the mid-day Los Angeles sun and the remnants of the pints I had last that are still coursing through my veins as I type up this opener...more later, the film's play...

Based on the youth of Shane Meadows (TwentyFourSeven, A Room for Romeo Bliss, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) the synopsis for This Is England goes as follows: Set at the end of the school year in the summer of '83, the camera trails Shaun, a twelve year old loner living in a small coastal town in Northern England whose father has died fighting in the nation's war in the Falkland Islands. As mentioned, Shaun hasn't a lot of friends and is ruthlessly picked on at school, wearing flares (bell bottoms) on the last day of his term doesn't help much. He's befriended by a group of local skinheads on his way home and soon finds a crowd that he can run with, that accepts and sincerely seem to care for him. The dew dries on the lily of brotherhood, however, when Combo, an older skin, returns to the scene and roundly undermines the pecking order by revealing how his views on race and nationalism have morphed while on the inside-- all of which brings the storyline to a climax that will change young Shaun irrevocably...

...I cannot tell porkie pies, I walked in the theater doors expecting to find a mixture of Romper Stomper and American History X when I took the premise of This Is England into account. Those times were not pretty for the working class UK and being based on Shane Meadows' early life in Uttoxeter, I didn't know where in the hell he (the film's writer and director) could take it considering the subject matter-- most people tend to close in nice and tight on what they've seen in footage of National Front types marching around poor British neighborhoods (not the period before all that, when multi-racial groups of city kids got together for other, more obvious reasons)...Meadows gets it, coming from inside that scene TIE focuses not on the nationalistic bent, but how and why those youth got together in the first place -- the same reason that young kids still do and always will congregate in gaggles: to find a sense of belonging...

Although Meadows was sitting in the big chair for this, his tale could not be told without actors and this film features one of his finest castings to date. Thomas Turgoose makes a lively performance as the wet-behind-the-ears protagonist while Woody (Joe Gilgun in his first feature role, no less) pulls the viewer into the gang's fold while the supporting cast fill in all the gaps...

...Vicky McClure (A Room for Romeo Bliss), pictured above in the middle, does a cracking turn as Lol, Woody's bangs 'n buzz-cut girlfriend as does Rosamund Hanson as "Smell" , the character who Shaun crushes on, manages to steal a few scenes herself while wearing what once made Lucky Star-era Madonna a hottie...

...Meadows' semi-biopic isn't a VH-1 behind the music-style take on the time (though knuckleheads who weren't even around might have grouses) gets a sense of what would become the punk scene was like, more or less...this is one of the best scenes in the film...when the protagonist makes his first transformation...

...bearing the storyline in mind, all cannot be itty bitty patches of sunshine. Stephen Graham (Snatch, Gangs of New York) pulls a reversal on the chubby-cheeked Cockney hipster Tommy he'd pulled off in the Guy Ritchie film and he took the jam right out of my donut as Combo, an old-school head, fresh out of prison with one foot on recidivism and the other on a banana peel. Graham will make those who loved Tommy Gun look twice at this guys chops on camera. Too, at dark points, my skin really started leaking for Milky, played by Andrew Shim (who also worked with Meadows before on A Room for Romeo Bliss) whether or not he'll get his porkpie hat mashed in and the shit kicked out of him by unseen British hooligans is eventually revealed to all...

Screened internationally at film festivals in Berlin, Toronto, New York (Tribeca), Seattle and Rome, it's easy to see why it's garnered awards like The Jury Prize (Rome Int'l Film Fest) and Best Film & Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards as it is not national front skinhead propaganda (although some people did look surprised to see me covering it..."this is juicy", I thought to myself)...the soundtrack, filled with a grip of Toots & the Maytals' classics, is poppin' as well although I could've heard a trifle more 2-Tone...the background posters and album covers really fired up my inner Trojan Music lover...I hate it when reviews have captions in them like "must see" and "a hit" does not apply to This Is England in this instance as it's been out for a minute and has just reached the shores of America and its wider public.

Having said all that, I think I've just seen the first great film of the summer...the word "powerful" has been bandied about in descriptions of the film and for once I agree...from the opening montage, filled to the brim with gripping footage from an era that feels long gone, the film is an insightful peek into some of what was really going down with what we now call the working poor while the Union Jack waved over the fading empire of Maggie Thatcher's England, it'll surprise you how much what's going on now is just like then...I forgot all about that butter smell...see this film.

...This Is England opens in New York on Friday, July 27 at the IFC Center &

In Los Angeles on Friday, August 3 at the NuArt Theater...I just found out that outside those markets it is also available now on demand to IFC cable the header for the film's official's the trailer...

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fark You Too: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News...

...From the "this-just-in-my-craw" Dept...a month-and-change ago I was listening to a radio interview with Drew Curtis the guy who started a Web site to throw funny shite on for his friends far and wide to it turns out the word "fark" was actually a "non-term" and didn't mean anything initially but since then, the 24-hour news cycle has made it almost requisite for a lot of "non-information" to make it into the nation's daily intake of news coverage (why everyone knows, in nuanced detail, about how much money a presidential hopeful spends on a haircut, but couldn't tell you who's their representative in the Senate or the Congress)...

...what set me off? The "newsflash" I heard yesterday that, based on a newly released report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of people in fatal accidents on the nation's roads dropped 2% (the largest such decrease in nearly 15 years) I sat there waiting for the obvious to be pointed out (that gas is so expensive that less people are on the roads...more and more people are using discretion when taking trips in their was never even touched)...the story even took a grim twist as the top 'o the hour newsguy wrapped the segment up-- "motorcycle deaths were up 5.1%, the ninth consecutive year that the statistic's risen"...more people buy bikes which is a shite's sight more economical than a car for getting around, especially in cities sprawled out like the one I live in-- the fact that petrol outlets are making record-busting profits got lost in the convenient..

...In the interview, Drew spoke on the ubiquitous nature of infotainment these days, like how just before a holiday weekend the McNews casters will breathlessly report on how air travel and traffic on the nation's roads will increase exponentially over the next few days...for reals? you're kidding-- all the while skipping around something of real substance and or import, like, say how are things hanging in Fallujah at the moment...who's zoomin' who in it true that while millions of gallons of petrol gets exported to wealthier nations, native Nigerians live in squalor and what in the hell do large multi nationals like BAE Systems, Siemens and General Electric Co.have to do with all of that? ...I first noticed this brand of coverage when I moved from New York to LA a while ago but now it's all over the country and it becomes glaringly apparent if your travel habits take you from coast to coast-- nothing like leaving California, waking up in DC and getting, essentially the same meaningless stuff over and over and over and over again...beaten over the head with inane pap...disinformation...drivel...

...back in the day I used to tune in to sites like Get Your War On or the Onion ...but I don't as much anymore because the shite gets too depressing...though I can't stop checking in to The Ironic Times for a few belly laughs when the guys in black hats seem to be taking over the world...the faux headlines are always right on the money, topical Curtis' Fark site was the next logical progression in where I get my geo political giggles...according to the site's info page...

"The first thing you should know is that isn't a Weblog., the Web site, is a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site. Every day Fark receives 2,000 or so news submissions from its readership...Fark isn't an acronym. It doesn't mean anything. The idea was to have the word Fark come to symbolize news that is really Not News. Hence the slogan "It's not news, it's Fark." ...Four letter domain names were getting snapped up quickly, so on a whim in the summer of 1997 Drew checked to see if was available. It was, and he grabbed it. At the time the only thing you could do with a Web site was put up what was then called a vanity site. This was almost all the Internet consisted of back in 1997...Drew didn't want to use the domain name for a vanity site, so he decided to wait until he had a better idea."...

...circling back on the the thrust of the interview, Curtis pointed out how "newstainment" is managed, stories featuring nutsos and conspiracy theorists get recorded months in advance and filed away for use during a later broadcast, sometimes many months later-- this might seem like no big deal to some but it incenses me that there are a lot of people who can't tell the difference between what the real, hard news and a TV commercial dressed up to look like it is (does the average American really base his decisions on how much money a newly released film has made? -- I sometimes cover films and could care less...see the built-in promotional construct-- "if that many people saw it, maybe I should too, roight?")...

...Curtis also spoke on the contents in his book It's Not News, It's Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News which dives even deeper into how real, hard news gathering has devolved into a shadow of its afflict-the-comfortable self; sank so low, so quickly with the help of so few who affect the lives of so many...sure Keith Olberman's been putting it out there but that's only one person...and that's about it...for the most part, if you want the news...the real stuff that people all over the rest of the planet is've got to fend for yourself...listen...can you hear that?...somewhere that's really toasty, William Randolph Hearst, inspiration for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, the god father of yellow journalism (and Patty's grandfather) is laughing at us all...can you hear him?...well, can you???

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Alicia Silverstone v. Lindsay Lo-- Who's Clueless? (Q&A)

...Lindsay Lohan's recent alcohol-addled run-in with the fuzz (just weeks after getting out of rehab ) got me thinking of other young actresses I've met around town who have managed to NOT get sucked into the meat grinder...One of them is Alicia's a transcript of an interview with Alicia from last year that I didn't really get to use, it started like this...I thought she was funny in Amy Heckerling's Clueless-- she's also co-starred in features like Batman & Robin, Scooby Doo 2 and TV's Miss Match (gotta get in where you fit in, son)...She was MIA on the film front for the past couple of years, Alicia returned last fall in Operation Stormbreaker portraying the main character's American housekeeper/ nanny, JackStarbright-- even though the film wasn't anything to write home about, I thought she kicked a little Buffy-styled ass with the swords. At the time she was set to star in the mid-season replacement sitcom The Singles Table but it too was first cut from 13 epis, down to six and then it too went away-- NBC replaced it with the reality show Biggest Loser, according to what I've read...ouch, this is one tough fuckin' least she's not in jail; running from the po-po or anything...

CP: Where've you been, what've you been doing?

Alicia Silverstone: Well, this film just came out in England, like a month ago and in like July and August of last year I was filming it.

Q: So what else? Did you take time off to just enjoy being a married woman?

AS: No, I got married and four days later I got on a plane to do the movie. I thought there was going to be time off and then when we were away on our honeymoon, I kept thinking 'I wonder what I'll be doing when I get home, maybe I'll not work for a really long time and I'll just do my garage, clean my house..." but I got off the plane and had to go straight to the shoot.

Q: So what did you do after filming this?

AS: Then I did a play with David Mamet at the Geffen Theater and that was amazing and it was called Boston Marriage, it was with Mary Steenbergen and Rebecca Pidgeon and that was so cool to just to see three girls and [David Mamet] -- it was pure artistic heaven...and then I did a few movies and now I'm here. [laughs]

Q: How did you get involved in Alex Rider?

AS: I got asked to be in it right after I got married and it sounded like it would be a lot of fun because I knew it was gping to be Ewan McGregor, at the time, and Sophie Okonedo -- both of them, I'm a huge fan of, so I thought 'this is awesome.' I didn't even feel like I needed to read the script, I just knew that I wanted to be in the movie with them. But then I did read the script and it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun and my character works with Sophie Okonedo and Bill Nighy a lot, so we were this threesome that really had a great time together. And then I did some other work with Missi Pyle -- we had this big fight scene and that took a while to do. So, she and I got to know each other -- those three people I became really good friends with.

Q: Did you even meet Ewan McGregor?

AS: You know what, I didn't meet him until the premiere but I had dinner with him -- he's lovely! When I met him he was so nice and so great and then I had dinner with him and Sophie and Bill it was great to meet him.

Q: Did the script even have a part for an American to play your role?

AS: When I read it, she was an American -- I don't know how that originated or whatever. I'm pretty sure they always had it in mind that she was American but I may be wrong.

Q: Had everyone else already joined the cast or when did you come in?

AS: The only people that were on it when I joined was Sophie Okonedo and Ewan McGregor. And then when I signed on [over exaggerating] all of these people came -- Mickey Rourke signed on and Bill Nighy and Missi Pyle and it kept growing and it got more and more exciting, it was really cool.

Q: And then how did you train for all the sword play?

AS: We had like an hour [laughs] no, we had a few more hours than that but I showed up and I was like 'what're we going to do about this fight scene? That's a big part of it, it's the most important part of my [role] was like the big fight scene, what's happening?' And they were like 'yeah, you'll have rehearsals, you'll have rehearsals' -- that and [learning] the Japanese. I was like 'when am I going to learn my Japanese and when am I going to do my [fight] rehearsals?' And then we did rehearse [martial arts] with the Chinese action star Donnie Yen -- he showed up and Missi and I were so excited that he was there. He's really impressive and he brought these two guys -- one of them I fell in love with, his name was Andy, he was hilarious, and he would dress up as me because he was my stunt double-- it's sort of funny to have a man, who's Asian being my stunt double because he had this huge blonde wig on and he put butt pads on his bum. And I was like 'hey, ease off on the butt pads, I don't think you need [so much of it].' And he'd be walking around just having so much fun being funny. And for Missi, she had to work opposite Andy because he was playing me [for stunts] -- that must've been very funny because we don't look the same. And sometimes he'd be Missi, he was really all over the was strange when he was her because he'd have black leather on...but the fight scene was awesome, we only rehearsed, I think, for like two days, for a few hours and Missi and I had a really good time doing that. We both took it very seriously because Donnie's a really brilliant [martial arts] choreographer, he's really serious and we really wanted to impress him -- it was horrible when sometimes you could tell that you're not impressing him.

Q: You ever get hurt or anything?

AS: I know we had lots of cuts and bruises but nothing to be concerned about -- it's hard, you know, the adrenaline's going and you only have a certain amount of hours to get [the scene] done, so the pressure's on and you just kind of throw yourself into it. Of course the logical thing to do would be to stretch or to prepare a long time beforehand but none of those things happened so you definitely walk away [feeling like] "ugh, I can't move my legs."

Q: Did your husband hang out on the set while you were shooting?

AS: He could've come on but he doesn't like to come on movie sets, so he didn't come to the set, I think, ever.

Q: Is he in the business too?

AS: He's in a band. The band he's in right now is called Little Wolverine.

Q: What instrument does he play?

AS: He's a singer.

Q: So has married life been exciting for you?

AS: My whole time with him has been exciting, we've been together for a really long time..

Q: In considering your work with animals, you seem like a very caring and gentle person. This role seems like a natural set up.

AS: Yeah, when I was a little girl, I used to carry other people's babies around and say 'my baby' so I think that's the beginning of it all -- I did this with real, live children. [laughs]

Q: Are there a lot more challenges than you anticipated before getting into the married life?

AS: Well I was with my husband a really long time before we got married, so it's been like a long time -- it's not much different. The only thing is that there's a few, simple things that are different. It's like, I call him [my] husband and I always thought I would hate that word -- I really thought that was a horrid word, I just didn't like the sound of it. But now I love the sound of it and I don't know why! Something happened where I just like saying 'my husband.' I like it, I don't know what happened.

Q: You feel like you've gotten the relationship aspect of your life squared away and now you can focus on your acting career?

AS: I don't think about things like that but I'm sure, naturally, that's the truth...I don't think about 'I've got to get a husband and then I've got to do this,' I just don't work that way. But that would've actually freaked me out if I thought I had to have those things in place -- it just doesn't make any sense to me. But, instead, that's probably because I've been lucky and I had it. I had this really solid relationship for such a long time, there's no drama, I'm not all consumed with madness and mayhem, so I'm able to really just focus on the things that matter. We just love to do yoga together, meditate, grow vegetables in the garden and go on wild, rocky trips and just enjoy being together, really. It definitely alleviates any drama -- I haven't really had any drama in a long time. Been married for like a year too. [laughs]

Q: Where do you think your love of animals comes from?

AS: I think that every child loves animals and then it's whether it's encouraged or not encouraged [by the parents]. I've never met a little kid, I mean maybe there's a Damien-child somewhere, but I'm pretty sure that most babies and kids love animals...and then we slowly try and distance the children from the animals. We try to teach them that they're our property -- I think, as adults, we do damaging things to the children [psychologically] and usually try to lie to them so that they don't actually face, like, 'oh, that burger is also that cow that you have on your bed [sheets]... I think that if we did tell them the truth they would all arrive at a similar place that I've arrived at. It's been nurtured in the way that my mom, when I was little and with my love of animals, she didn't scoff at that. It was not encouraged entirely because they didn't know how to eat vegetarian, so I don't think they thought like that but in terms of if I was in school and there was a [lost] dog running around on the property, I'd immediately think 'how do I find it's home?' And I'd call my mom and ask her how do I help and she'd either come help me or she didn't have a problem with when I got called by the principal when I'd skipped school because I got this dog. There was no, like, 'you shouldn't have done that.' ...Always, since I was born I've had cats and dogs around me. Which I think is also really good for kids, to be around animals -- they were a part of our family, they were my mom's kids too...they were all a part of our family union and so I think it was a really healthy way to grow up and have respect for life. To not think that you're better than, just sort of work with instead of working against [animals].

Q: Where'd you grow up?

AS: I grew up in the San Francisco area, like the suburbs of San Francisco -- San Mateo and like every year we'd go to England for the summer. My parents are both English, so...

Q: You a vegetarian?

AS: Yeah.

Q: Is your husband a vegetarian?

AS: Yes, we both did it together.

Q: For how long?

AS: About eight and a half years.

Q: Since you're married to a musician, what kind of music are you listening to?

AS: That's such a big question because I love so much but I really, really Etta James and I really love Eartha Kitt and Spearhead, the Stay Human album in particular but I like the Beatles, I like T Rex, David Bowie all that good stuff and I just found this really interesting band called Scribbler which is kind of cool, I found them up in Nova Scotia and they're this really, grungy band that were so good and wild and raw -- I think it's Scribbler, I'm probably saying it wrong. I think they just released and album or something but they're these cute little 20-year olds that are crazy.

Q: Where are your parents from?

AS: My mom was born in Scotland but raised on the Isle of Sheppie, a little suburan place in England and my dad is from Northeast London.

Q: So, when you were out there shooting this, did you visit any of your folks?

AS: Well, my parents were there while I was there, so that really worked out. I got to spend a lot of time with my family. When I was little my mom and I used to go on little walks through these really romantic places for me to be with my mom from when I was a baby until I was like 12. Every summer I would go with them and spend such quality time together. Her and I, getting into mischief, walking through the cobbled streets, it was so lovely -- so I was really lucky that she was around when I was doing the movie...One day I was in my hotel and she just showed up and [although] I knew they were there and she said she'd come over sometime that day but it was just so cool that she'd gotten on the tube, come over to see me -- it was such a nice feeling that that could happen. That can't happen [in LA].

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 23, 2007

Do Not Arrest This Man...

...When you walk out your front door, man, anything can before I headed over to my favorite cafe/ hotspot to do a little writing today, I went to the local Tobac (cigarette store) to scoop me some smokes earlier and the lady behind the counter, who I've been coming to for months...who I'd helped with her store's web site...told me that she thought the 10 dollar bill I handed her to pay for my Parliaments was counterfeit...not a real big deal but I thought she was one of the cool ones, unlike a lot of the shopkeepers who come from other countries and still get over here and treat every brother they meet like they're holding a knife-- while the biggest crooks and pimps get away with murders (and commutations) right in front of their faces...

...I get shit from Armenians, Pakistanis, Pacific Islanders, Mexicans (until I start speaking Spanish) and even Indians who've come here fleeing whatever geo-political strife; caste they were stuck in back in their homelands...none of this makes me a xenophobe, though...they're just trying to assimilate but I won't brook any of that bullshite every instance where I've been allowed to speak, the transplanted, self-appointed eugenecists change their tone and note that I'm edumacated...still it chapped my ass to have this lady (Moroccan, I think) try to get brand new and give me what In Living Colour called a "Funny Vibe"...whatever's clever, son...I thought of the film from back in '73 (which I didn't get to see until I stumbled across it in the stacks as a freshman in college, poster at the top) and the classic book (cover above paragraph) by Sam Greenlee that the film itself was derived from ...sometimes I let this kinda shite go and sometimes I just want to rant-- this has been one of the Gomez Addams would put it: I'm feeling much better now....

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Check It: Joe Strummer's Global A Go Go...

...I pieced this Joe
Strummer album up a couple of months ago on MOG but couldn't throw the music on at the time...I can do so now and thanks to the miracles of the digital age, I got another copy in a configuration that allows me to do so which just goes to show, like it says on the mural that was painted in NYC's East Village, the future is unwritten...especially in the world of music...

...the review and video that I posted earlier goes like this...I’ve been on a Mescalero kick for the past couple of days, it reminds me of the fall of 2001 when the world went crazy and I left LA and shot back to the East Coast to be closer to my family because, well you remember how nutty shit was…this album’s one of my faves from Joe Strummer’s body of work—it’s a nice listen coast to coast it’s choc-full of great tunes like “Cool ‘n’ Out”, “Bhindi Bhagee”, “Mega Bottle Ride”, “Mondo Bongo” and “At the Border Guy” (which I first heard on KCRW ’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and hooked me on the LP) my book the nicest slice on this LP has to be “Minstrel Boy” which closes the set out. Clocking in at 17:49 it has an infectious Irish swing that becomes hypnotic about four minutes in…if it’s not already on your list of must-haves, you should definitely give it a spin as it’s one of those great albums that got lost in the shuffle…

...if you wanna check more cuts from this LP go here.

Labels: , ,

Jay Mohr Talks Bad Brains, C. Walken and Tom Cruise (Q&A)

...I just got around to combing through tapes of interviews I've had over the years and decided to transcribe the interesting sessions that never got used for whatever reason-- I've found that there's been a lot of funny and at times insightful stuff going on that has just never been used for whatever rea
son (mostly the outlets wanted articles on the bigger names on a production)...but that doesn't necessarily mean that the lesser known artists didn't have some shit to say, sometimes breaking the third wall and giving a little more to a film I'd just seen by revealing shite that one can't catch by simply sitting in a theater and checking it in point, I did a roundtable with actor comedian Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire, Go) back when The Groomsmen was coming out a year-and change back and he was a barrel of laughs ( click here to read the interview with Edward Burns, the film's director and star)...I was sitting right next to Jay for this and shit just jumped off when he spotted the fluorescent yellow Bad Brains T-Shirt I was wearing...not only does he share a little nugget about one of my favorite bands, dude speaks on Christopher Walken, Tom Cruise, Buddy Hackett, the real deal in Hollywood, choosing a porn star name...and Alonzo Mourning...check it out...

CP: What up, son?

Jay Mohr: Hello, sir...

Q: How did you manage to find the broad comedy in this character but still keep him a real guy?

JM: He is a real guy, he's based on the guys I grew up with so, he's 33 1/3% me, 33 1/3% James Barone (an old friend, who you don't know) and 33 1/3% Colin Quinn. So, when it came time to have a heart to heart [conversation in a scene] it was me, when he swore the most it was James and the rest of the time it was Colin Quinn.

Q: Did Colin know you were doing that?

JM: Who Colin? (deadpans) No, I can't give him any credit whatsoever [laughs]

Q: So who's your "Jen"? (the woman his character is hopelessly in love with in the film)

JM: Huh? Oh, yeah-- I was like "Jessica Capshaw?" real life?

Q: Yeah, do you have a "Jen"?

JM: No, I mean, I'm engaged. I've been married, that didn't work out. I'm going back in mean like in the night life?

Q: Yeah.

JM: No, brah...I can't say anything about that politely.

Q: But you've had some?

JM: Some "Jens"? (starts laughing) No, no, I actually haven't had anything like that ever happen before (still laughing)...he knows I'm not trying to say-- A fuckin' Bad Brains shirt? My man! Crack-a-lackin'! (starts singing the chorus to "Soul Craft")...this guy's the hippest guy in the room. (to a British journalist) You thought it was a joke-- that's a great DC hardcore band. You know, Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction once said "we're a cross between Duke Ellington and Bad Brains."...One more thing on Bad Brains, when I did my first TV appearance on The Half Hour Comedy Hour, I was wearing that T-Shirt in white.

Q: The guy that you're playing in The Groomsmen is a little soft around the edges-- is that why you took the role, to go against type? I mean a grip of the other characters you've played were harder than coffin nails compared to him.

JM: I took it because it was an Ed Burns movie and I wanted to work in New York. And then when I read this script I thought it was good. I read it again and it was a little better than the first time and then I read it a third time and I thought 'this is kinda like Diner'-- this could be really good if we could just talk and don't get all "act-y". But no, I didn't take the part because [the character] was all soft or anything-- actors that tell you things like that are usually making 20 million dollars a film and they can choose discriminately (in officious voice): "I decided to play this guy because I've always wanted to do a Western"-- I want a fucking job.

Q: So what do you think about the film making scene now?

JM: Well, there's certainly a brand new middle class-- it's either 20 million a film or scale. But I'm happy to be in that middle class. I think you'll see a lot of people going into television, as you already have.

Q: Would you go back to TV?

JM: I'd go back, yeah. I don't care, I got a kid, man-- I'll sell tampons. I mean, there's no selling-out once you get a kid. I got a kid.

Q: Where were you in your relationship when you shot this film?

JM: I was in Vietnam, man...I was divorced for like a day and I was two months into my next marriage. And I needed this movie to sort of decompress. It was nice to do this movie and not have to worry about what lawyers were doing or anything-- I told everyone to leave me alone for a month -- and at the end of a day, I'd just come home to the woman I loved. That's it...we have a very wonderfully dull life which I never had before. For the fist time in my life I was able to be still and realized that it's okay to just sit in a room and read separate books next to each other.

Q: So when you play sports are you anything like the guy in the film?

JM: I'm an animal. I'm the guy you hate. I'm the guy that yells at you for not hitting the cutoff man...stop throwing the ball around. Every softball game four runs are scored because some douche bag chose to strike someone out from the left field wall-- it's like "hit the fucking cutoff man and let's go home."

Q: So, you doing any more stand-up or anything like that?

JM: I do, every Tuesday I go down to the Irvine Improv in Orange County, me and my friend go down there and mess around...they give me the door and I go on the radio and mention the club and whatever...I just got back from Pearl Harbor, entertaining the troops for the Fourth of July-- it was wonderful. I could never be in the Navy. I'm kind of a sloppy eater and they wear all that white. It'd be like "seaman Mohr, did you eat spaghetti today?""Did you stab a man to death?"

Q: You ever take a little of your Walken onstage with you?

JM: (impersonating Christopher Walken) Of course. It's the natural do. I'm famous now. No I have to wait...for Prophecy Five.

Q: I've sat down with him before and he talks about you, kinda--

JM: -- yeah, he says "that boy" he doesn't know my fuckin' name. (laughs) ...Yeah, he says "he does me better than I do me." ...he's a strange bird, man. I came up to him on a set once and he had a cup of noodles. And I'm like "what're you eating, Cup-o-Noodles?" and he goes "No, these are scallops." Fuckin' I watched him open them. It says Cup-o-Noodles on the side, on the top...fuckin' Cup-o-Noodles! [picks up a soda can off the table and points] Like: is this is Coke?! (whispers) or a delicious Diet Pepsi [which he was doing commercials for at the time].

Q: So what's next?

JM: Nothing. I'm completely available. I took a year off to raise my son and now I know how to live and work at the same time-- and I needed to. I owed it to him and myself, to take a step back and just be home every day.

Q: Your character in the film plays the drums, you ever play an instrument before?

JM: That's hard, man. It's the only instrument you can't hide behind-- you make a mistake on the drums and the neighbors know it. On the guitar or bass, you can just turn your back and go ha-ha- I'm playing rhythm. And what's with using your feet all the time? It's the fucking drums! I mean, your feet are going around like this and everything-- it's hard!

Q: So you've never played an instrument before, then?

JM: No. You know, on your couch or something but you can't just practice drums in your garage, people will laugh at you. My whole life, with air drums, the snare was always the right hand, I'm a rightie-- WRONG! I was like "but I don't want to do it with my left hand" and the instructor was like "well that's how you do it." (starts playing air drums) I can't even do it right now! And Donal [Logue] got to learn the bass. The jerk! (laughs) You know why bassists are always jumping around on the stage? Because it's easy. You don't see The Edge dancing around because it's fucking hard, what he's doing. He's got to stand still and hit his pedals. I saw Pearl Jam last night, Jeff Ahment should've been in a circus, he's jumping around so much.

Q: It looks like you had a couple of good moments on screen with the guy who played your father, especially in the heavy bag scene.

JM: I hear thunder! We had that scene done in a few takes [initially] and Johnny O just kept hitting that bag, but he's killing it-- he's like George Travallo in there. I was like oh my God but he's like this old cop who used to beat guys down, he was a crooked cop, for crying out loud, he's a dirty animal. (laughs) I was like [to Burns] "you've gotta film this" and Eddie says (in Burns' Brooklynese whisper): "I'm way ahead of ya." -- he had the steadycam floating around. He was like DeNiro in Raging Bull, hitting the bricks in the jail cell-- I was like "woah, easy Johnny"...he goes (in psycho voice) "whattaya got?" and I go "I hear thunder!" and then its in the movie and I'm like "that made it in? How about the nine jokes you cut?" (still laughing)

Q: So what else have you been up to off camera, with your son, for fun if you like.

JM: Well, my son's 3 1/2, you know the best laid plans are of mice and men. You make great plans, you know, we're going to go to Disneyland, we're going to go do this ride, do the haunted mansion, then we're going to go on the Twilight Zone and then we're going to go on the Tower of Terror, we're going to do this and we're going to do that and then you wind up standing behind a garbage can scaring people for two hours. Literally, we were like "Rooooowrrrrrr!!!!" And people are like "ah, that's cute kid." I'm crazy about the beach-- he loves the beach. I'm trying to teach him how to swim, you know. I take him to the YMCA and I go to like a ghetto-y YMCA to do it, it's kind of funny. There's like Mexican guys with like facial tattoos and they're like (in an East Los cholo gangster accent) "Hey, you're that actor-guy." And I'm like "Hi" and they're like "what the fuck are you doing here, bro? That's fucked up! Look, get a picture with me" and I'm like, "let's get out of the shower first." (laughs)

Q: I read a while ago that you were friends with Tom Cruise, is there any truth in that?

JM: We're not friend-friends or anything, I'm sure that if we were out and we saw each other we'd be friendly. The guy was wonderful to me-- a joy to be around (on the set of Jerry Maguire). He just helped me, pulled me under his wing and gave me great advice, super-personable, knew everybody's name on the set, remembered stories that they'd told him two months before, such a pro. An underrated actor...My chair was too small [in the scene where] I was firing him, we were rehearsing and I was like "I need a higher chair, I need that angle" and he was like, "can we get another chair? [to director Cameron Crowe] Cameron, he needs another chair! He needs to be higher" and I was like "wooooah! wayyy too much drama, I'm the new guy." And he said "if you need it [to play your scene better], don't underestimate it, its important."....I was folding my clothes (after shooting a scene) and the wardrobe lady came up to me and I was like "I don't work in wardrobe" and she goes "you really shouldn't fold your clothes, these girls bust their asses to keep them ironed" and I was like "yeah, you're right."

Q: So do you have a favorite Buddy Hackett story?

JM: I said to him "why don't you write a book?" And he goes (impersonating Hackett's voice) Well, you know, Sherri (Buddy's wife) would get upset reading about all the broads. "Why don't you just leave out all the women, then?" (Hackett's voice again) Are you fucking crazy, you gotta write about the broads...whenever I'm down, I always remind myself of the Siamese twin whose brother is gay and his boyfriend is coming over and they share the same asshole. And then I don't feel so bad...I got a lot of Hackett stories, when I walked in the door, you should've just said "gimme Hackett stories."

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

JM: What's in my CD changer in my car right now?

Q: Yeah.

JM: Ghostface Killah's Fishscale-- fuckin' Ghostface is crazy...Outkast...Tool...Al Green: Best of...

Q: No Motels? [like the character in the film]

JM: No, it was a bad era, bro. The 80s were no good. The 90s were good, the 70s were my iPod, when I go to the gym I crank the Black Crows, Jane's Addiction, you know, that old Pete Rock and CL Smooth...KRS - ONE.

Q: So what're you doing for the holidays?

JM: I'd really like to get back to work. I haven't worked in a year. I got a divorce, I wrote a check with two commas and said "it doesn't matter." I want to get back to work, I'll make it all back, gotta get back to work. I did nothing...until next Friday.

Q: What happens next Friday?

JM: Um, amateur porn. (laughs) I'm going to do a little thing called "The Casting Couch" know, we're always looking for new talent.

Q: And your porn name's going to be...?

JM: Well, you know, you take your middle name and the street you grew up on, so I'd be "Ferguson Valley." I don't know why those people don't use their real names. Like, if I was that fucking degenerate and did that much crystal meth and smoked that much weed and drank that much vodka and Red Bull and I did porn-- I'd use my name. What would your name be? Middle name and street you grew up on.

Q: Alonzo Rittenhouse...

JM: Alonzo House, there you go. Your middle name's Alonzo?

Q: Yep, with a Z.

JM: What's your first name?

Q: Chris

JM: Do you know Alonzo Bodden, the comic? He's a big dude, man... I know two black guys now, with the name Alonzo-- three, Alonzo Mourning. I could kick his ass, way to leave the (New Jersey) Nets, you fuckin' pansies!..."it's hard...the coach is mean"...Ah, go fuck yourself, asshole!!!

.'s Mohr in a clip from the film..."the pissing pants story"....

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry: The New Runaway Movie

...I got tucked up in traffic yesterday so I had to 86 the screener for Shane Meadows' This Is England (I got cleared for another showing on Tuesday, though) -- to be honest, after a long day of archiving films, I wasn't really in the mood to absorb any Romper Stomper type shite anyway...still, I wanted to check something new this weekend and since all other screeners were booked up, I shot on over to one of the cineplexes near my crib for a little matinee action today...and caught a showing of Adam Sandler's new joint I Now Pronounce You Chuck & might wanna play this Hole cut whilst reading... this new film, the camera follows the antics of Chuck Levine (Sandler) and his NYFD fire-fighting homebiscuit Larry Valentine (Kevin James) who, after surviving a near fatal inferno, gins up a plan to make sure that Valentine's children will get taken care of, should the widower ever get fried in a fire: go to Canada, get married and come back to NYC and wait for the benefits to kick in before they part ways on the matrimonial front after the kids' futures are safely insured , the onliest catch, revealed to them on the whisper by their lawyer (a smokin' hot Jessica Biel who made the "Grepsi" -- I'll explain later-- really kick in for a few seconds while jigglin' around in some striped underwear) that if they're caught telling porky pies, then they'd be thrown under the jail for cutting legal corners ...I would normally type something like 'laughs are right around the fire escape', etc. but I'd be getting ahead of myself if I did so here...

...Huh? What's that kid? Fuck me, four bucks for a Hebrew Nation hot dog? Keep it, son-- I'll just sip on this little bottle of Grepsi (Grape soda and Absolut) that I snuck inside...allow me to just cut to the chase and say that this movie was bad for so many reasons and is the second new film I've seen featuring an actor phoning in a schtick that's as played as the fabric in dad's old as many weeks, no less-- shite, I should stop breaking down and paying to see films; stick to the free screenings and the's not bad as in so bad that its good, it's bad as in avoid at all costs but what can I say? Sometimes I'm like that proverbial cat who gets his comeuppance when he pays attention to his inquisitive side...

...Firstly, James goes on auto pilot and does whatever it was that he did on the sitcom King of Queens a while back...wasn't funny then, still ain't...Sandler goes in the other direction by playing a composite of every character he's played up to Click and put a cherry on top as the lady killer who regularly scores truckloads of Hooters Girls and hot blonde doctors-- even if you suspend belief and let the fact that dude's stinkin' rich in the real seep in, it just doesn't work here...I didn't buy it and neither will you...As bad as this film is, the Happy Madison Productions folk managed to get actors like Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi and Dan Aykroyd to do the "family film" buckdance for about 90 minutes...but it doesn't stop there...cameos by other Saturday Night Live alums like Rob Schneider, David Spade and Rachel Dratch just throw gasoline on the fire of un-funny...did I already say that Jessica was lookin' hot...oh...roight...

...where was I again, oh...I guess the SNL curse is still alive and kickin' -- with a little camera play, Spade managed to shrink the salamander even further by appearing in a Playboy Bunny get-up...the real deal breaker for yours truly came during the obligatory "straight-guy-playing-gay-goes-shopping-with-hot-chick" sequence during which noodle-rocker Dave Matthews appears as a fabulously gay boutique clerk while Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" blares through the speakers...I now understand why those pissed off cowboys used to jump up and down on their own hats when they got pissed because I felt like doing it myself about 30 minutes ago, so save your bread, buy yourself a six pack and don't even think of renting this when it comes out-- just when I thought the studios couldn't sink any lower, something like this comes around to tell me that the conveyor belt of crap is much longer than it would seem: close cover before striking, you've been warned...Even Jessica Biel's ass can't save this joint, so run away! Run far, far away if anyone around you mentions going to see it... the only things remarkable about this film is that it got made and is opening wide all over the country...oh, and it reveals that Dan Aykroyd's bald-spot is growing larger and that he'll do absolutely anything these days for a tu Ellwood?...Et tu???

...I don't watch TV and just in case you haven't seen the trailer, either...well, here it is...

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Evan Almighty: How the Mighty Have Fallen (Review)

...I was chillaxin' earlier today and out of the blue, I decided to go and check out a it turns out the only thing that was coming up in the next half hour in the theater down the street was Evan Almighty....I've seen Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey and Morgan Freeman already...I had a couple of laughs back when I saw I figured, what the fuck...

...As the story maintains, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), the foil/ news anchor from the first film, makes the jump from the news chair to a seat in Congress which precipitates in a move from Buffalo, NY to Northern Virginia with his family in tow...Once he gets to said City on the Hill, he gets a message from God (Morgan Freeman reprises his role as the Man upstairs) and is instructed to build an ark before an impending, planet-cleansing flood washes over everything (even a date is given)...initially the eye-rolling, clean-shaven germophobe ignores the call from above but eventually gets the zap on his dome and acquiesces, politics, family and C-Span be dammed...laughs are right around the bend on the road to Damascus...or are they?

...note to self: when it takes this long for a sequel to a film premise to come forth, there's usually a reason for it...even in this town there's an unwritten statute of limitations...and not even bon mots from Wanda Sykes, fake beards or John Goodman's man-boobs can keep this travesty of a hoax of a sham afloat...I must admit, I chuckled at a couple of the gags in there but the beer buzz wore off quick when the shots-at-the-crotch and duck dick jokes (not a typo) really started to flow in earnest...I don't know when this was shot but there's so much that could've been done with this film that wasn''s an according to Hoyle schlock-fest, a family-film geared for mouth-breathing suburbanites (like the lot sitting behind me in the theater earlier), watered down with a save the environmental message that reeks of the big "Ka- Ching-Factor" for all involved...what the fuck was Lauren Graham thinking? I spoke to her a couple of years ago, she's way smarter than this and surely Freeman was slumming when he signed on for this, the antithesis of everything the first funny installation was...I'm not a betting man..and there's no such thing as a "sure thing" oh wait, there is: I'm sure you'll feel robbed if you go see be honest, the 8 bucks I spent were the only thing keeping me from walking out halfway through and going to type this up earlier...I did it so you don't have to but if you're a sucker for punishment, you can wait for the me...well, ok, don't trust this trailer...and it looked so promising when first saw it months ago...

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rewind: Troy -- The 3 Degrees of Swords, Sandals...and Braveheart? (Review)

...when 300 dropped a couple of months ago and all of the hype was in full swing, I couldn't help but recall similar circumstances that took place in the lead up to the release of another film based on similar themes from the same region, it turns out when the latter was released I covered it for a review but it never went into press...that's what blogs are for, went something like this...

...(in 2004) Troy was Hollywood's latest attempt at circling back to the good old day with the sword-n-sandal epic that starred Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom (pictured above with Diane Kruger) and Peter O'Toole is based on Homer's heavily layered epic poem The Iliad. The film picks up at the end of the prologue leading to a 10-year war between the Achaeans (Greeks) and the Trojans-sparked by a beauty contest between the goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. The mortal judge, Paris (Bloom), son of Priam (O'Toole) picks Athena, who promises him the renown beauty Helen (Kruger). As the tale holds, Helen's already married to the Greek warrior King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) and after realizing the goddesses must be crazy, Paris and Helen make a run for the border...

...In an effort to salvage his connubial honor, the cuckolded chieftain declares a full-on war -- after soliciting the help of his brother, the Mycenaean King Agamemnon Brian Cox, who sees the opportunity as a convenient means to attack the impregnable walls of the Trojan's enclave. The primary character in the piece, however, is Achilles (Pitt), the greatest warrior of his day and although he can kill you three times before you hit the ground, he hates to follow orders.

... Wolfgang Petersen's, Troy is a sweeping attempt to bring one of the oldest tales around to the big screen by ham-handedly copping ideas from Braveheart, Lord of the Rings and, most prolifically, Gladiator - mercifully, the Mt. Olympus back story is nixed altogether. While the viewer gets to see the origin of popular idioms like beware of Greeks bearing gifts, Achilles' heel, etc., the best thing Troy offers is the juxtaposition of the faces of memorable characters from other flicks sashaying around the coast of Malta in body armor: see Tyler Durden versus the Incredible Hulk with Legolas and Boromir hamming it up on the sidelines. You'll trip watching, Braveheart's uncle Argyle and best friend Hamish (pictured above) go over the top as Greek heavies too. Pitt goes on autopilot with Legends of the Fall-filler-for-the-females as Eric Bana (looking like a poor man's Tom Cruise) does a shite's site better as Hector- who'd've thunk it? O'Toole brings a little depth to a film otherwise overrun with broad-stroked performances - Priam's scene in Achilles' tent is the tightest in the picture. If you check the DVD, for the CGI battle scenes or the gratuitous ass-shots, bring a bucket of coffee because clocking in at 165 minutes, Troy is a cinematic odyssey in it's own right. The three degrees of separation game makes it funny to watch now if anything else...

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thelonious Monk: Live @ the It Club (Review)

...Thelonious Monk (above, left, at Minton's in NYC, circa '47) is one of those way-out-there jazz originals who, along with laying down the foundation for hard bop, tended to color his sonic pastiche outside the margins of even the loosely applied fringes of serious jazz (all the while maintaining a sense of humor that he'd sprinkle over everything he did) doing so, he's issued a grip of great studio work and sounded even better on live recordings...such is the case on his Live at the It Club set which was grabbed during a gig at L.A.'s storied jazz club which no longer exists in the brick-and-mortar real but is still kept alive in memory through old pictures and recordings...Live at the It Club takes you there (you can actually hear bottles and glasses clinking at quiet points)...recorded in 1964, when the pianist's chops were in full flower, it was wrapped up over a couple of nights as the Monk made his rounds on the West Coast ...

...while Monk is the keystone holding the ensemble in place, the lineup of the staff on hand includes hard-hitting sidemen: Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass) and Ben Riley (drums) who all come together and yield one of the finer live jazz albums out be certain, this double disc set has highlights all over the place but, if it's your first time checking the LP, the list of tunes to listen for begin with "Straight No Chaser", a swingin' number that sets the mood for everything that follows in it's wake...other hotspots include "Teo", "Bright Mississippi" (both of which were previously unreleased on the original pressings), "Blues Five Spot", "Evidence", "Nutty" , "Epistrophy (Theme)" (first recorded when he played in Coleman Hawkins' outfit during the salad days) and "Bemsha Swing" (...I first heard John Coltrane and Don Cherry's cover of this on a JC album which made me dig a little deeper)...too, it must be noted, there's a couple of joints that the newly initiated will either grow into over time or just not dig, for instance, "Gallop's Gallop" is a minor, dischord number that has an acquired taste (I dig it now, but not the first couple of times I heard it)... "Misterioso" gets really weird for a second but hold tight, it settles back into a calcified groove after that "wig-out" moment...

...some Scrapple from the Apple...from what I've learned over the years, that was Monk's way, slippin' his audience a mickey on the DL-- he'd reel his audience in and BAM, slip some experimental shit into the mix, once he had their noses wide open as he circles back on that weird, modal jumping thing at the end but what the hey, that's one of the reasons why I love the guy's music-- when I first started checking him, every listen was like opening up a box of chocolates from Mama Gump...I never knew what I was going to hear...yeah, I went there, I type this, I realize I could close in tight on historical minutia but I won't, if you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, I know you will... I'll let the tunage speak for itself by posting a couple more jams-to-check-first below (surprise!) ...if you dig on live jazz; want to get into it but don't know where to start, cop Thelonious' Live at the It Club set, it'll do you terms of piano, it's up there with Kind of Blue, in my's my favorite cut on the album, "Well, You Needn't"-- when the time comes, Thelonious plucks out a blinding groove that opens the door for a stand up bass solo by Gales which eventually breaks down with a "shave-and-a-haircut" tag...the ensuing phat-bottomed drum workout from Riley, is just icing on the cake (check how he digs in just as everyone seamlessly drop back into the fold on the 1 and roll on out)...these cats were playing their hearts out while throwing it on the It Club's stage and it's also evident that they were having a ball....just like the patrons who walked through the doors on the nights that this album got feels like you're right there...

 the header or here to check a few more cuts from this album....

Labels: , ,