Monday, May 31, 2010

Restored World at War Series

'The World at War' is one of my all-time favorite TV series. I watched them all at least once on PBS as a kid. I remember the searing theme music playing as pictures of soldiers and civilians who were victims of the conflict, faded one into the next. The last image is a little boy. Normal at first, his face becomes engulfed in flames and morphs into a skeletal visage over the last dramatic chords.

Movie Muser reports on the upcoming restored Blu-Ray edition of the series. The imagery and sound has been vastly improved with 3.5 million corrections in the 26 episode series.

The first episode begins with colour footage of a deserted town in France. Laurence Olivier’s booming voice explains that the Nazis invaded, took all of the townsmen into a barn and killed them. The women and children were marched up the high street to a church where they too were murdered. “No-one lives here any more” Olivier’s voice explains, “the town was never rebuilt”.

I'll be getting this collection as soon as it's available.

A Look Back At Eastwood's Work

Everyone is celebrating Clint Eastwood's 80th birthday. With good reason. Time has a retrospective. I like how he started out doing bit parts in B flicks:

Revenge of the Creature, 1955
"Doc, could you come here a minute?" was Eastwood's first line in his only scene in Jack Arnold's sequel to the B-minus horror hit Creature from the Black Lagoon, as a lab assistant to star John Agar. A 23-year-old signed by Universal, Eastwood got nowhere playing bit parts: a jet pilot ordering a napalm drop on a giant spider in Arnold's Tarantula, a sailor buddy of Donald O'Connor and his talking mule in Francis in the Navy. None brought him acclaim, or even notice, until much later. On a 1997 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Crow T. Robot watches Clint's Revenge of the Creature performance and opines, "This guy's bad. This is his first and last movie."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The New Indie Colin Farrell

His time on the A-List may not have lasted but Farrell is doing a lot of indie work these days. He is next seen in Neil Jordan's 'Ondine' with Alicja Bachleda.

Here's a clip from Sara Stewart's talk with Farrell at NYP:

Colin Farrell breaks into a big grin as he dishes about his latest role. “It was the best thing I’ve been offered this year,” says the thick-browed Irish actor.

The plum part? A guest spot on “Sesame Street.”

“I did a scene with Elmo and a couple of the other characters,” he says. “The word of the day was ‘investigation.’ We did a scene with a couple of talking carrots and s - - t. It was genius!”

'Talking carrots and shit' -- gotta like that.

'Ondine' doesn't grab me but I'm hoping for the best. Trailers are fair but the movie could go either way.

Farrell is a fine actor. He brings color and depth to a story and should continue to be a factor in smaller films. I think there is still a place for him in supporting roles in major movies or in ensemble pieces.

Anyway, he looks like he's having fun. He's got four movies in post and three in development, including 'Fright Night' which could be a big boost for him.

YouBoobTube aka YouTubeTV aka YouTube Leanback

I want my YouTubeTV. From NYT Tech:

This fall, YouTube says it will introduce a radically different, uncluttered look, with YouTube Leanback. It will have a separate Web address and will start playing a video the moment a user clicks on the site. When one video ends, another will start automatically, eliminating those dreaded “decision points” that invite abandonment. Viewers will be able to select channels, but the flow of programs, whether short or long, will be continuous.

“There’s no browsing, no searching, no clicking. It behaves like you would expect television to,” said Hunter Walk, a YouTube program manager who provided a brief peek this month at Google’s developer conference.

I never 'surf' YouTube. I find what I need, usually a movie trailer, get the embed code, close the YouTube tab in my browser, and stick the video on my blog.

Surfing the site yields too much offensive and/or stupid junk. From year(s)-old movie trailers to soft coed porn to animals being cute to the latest video of a drunk celeb falling down outside a club. I don't have time. I hit and run.

If YouTube Leanback can put together the right content I might spend a few minutes watching. Read: if they put together a channel with the latest movie trailers and movie news clips, etc...

Blake Lively at the Beach

For those of you who can't wait to see Blake Lively in the upcoming Green Lantern, here she is at the beach for a Vogue shoot:

She'll be on the next cover. See the slideshow.

For Sale: Harrison Ford's Copy of Raiders Script

Harrison Ford's copy of the shooting script for 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' loaded with handwritten notes is up for bids from June 10-12, 2010 at the Profiles in History "Hollywood Auction 40" in Calabasas Hills, California. Estimated to bring $50-70k.

More items for sale include the boxing gloves Stallone wore in 'Rocky III', Jack Sparrow's grungy pirate coat, the original bottle that Jeannie lived in from the 60s TV show with Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden, and Edward's scissor hands. Others are posted at The Today Show.

The Synopsis That Made Me Care

I never cared about Green Lantern. Never read the comic, didn't know what it meant -- a green-colored lantern? Didn't care. Then I read the synopsis that's splashing the web:

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax...he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

What a beauty. Concise yet layered. Compelling without giving any plot details away. I'm hooked.

Nice writing. It even engenders sympathy for the protagonist: '...if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears(...)he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all'!!

And, that cast! Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, and Angela Bassett. How could this miss?

I still don't know a thing about Green Lantern. (Is it The Green Lantern, or just Green Lantern)? But, I'll see this movie. Why? Because I care. Now, I care. Thanks to a thoughtfully done synopsis.

My prediction: Success at the box office and the launch of a cool new franchise.

What's a 12 Letter Word For...

LAT has the scoop on a certain clash on the set of 'The A-Team'. Seems Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, the mixed martial arts champ who revamps the role of B.A. Baracus, got into a tussle with a crew member:

...a movie crew member had wandered in on this final day of principal photography and — whether jokingly or not — called the muscle-bound movie star a homophobic epithet.

He claimed the crew member's intent had been to provoke a physical assault. "That … wanted me to punch him so he could sue me," the professional body-slammer explained, using a certain 12-letter curse word that he lets fly often in conversation — a word that has no business appearing in a family newspaper and, for the sake of this article, will here on out be substituted with "individual."

Let's see...a 12 letter word. What could it have been?

This comment by Jackson lends insight into events:

"Acting is kind of gay," Jackson said. "It makes you soft. You got all these people combing your hair and putting a coat over your shoulders when you're cold. I don't want a coat over my shoulders! I'm a tough-ass [individual]!

Perhaps he was a little sensitive about it. Seeing how he had just wrapped a movie and done all that acting and all. Glad things didn't get out of hand.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

[REC] 2

Knight and Day

Introduced as 'Night and Day'.

Mobile Movie Projection

Rocketboom Tech’s Ellie Rountree sits down with Seth Porges, Technology Editor at Popular Mechanics, to learn how to create your own mobile projections.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Killer Inside Me (or You)?

Something tells me the violence (against women) depicted in 'The Killer Inside Me' will be the most talked about element of this movie. Probably, unfairly so. The snippets of performance I've seen have been riveting. I especially am drawn to Casey Affleck's realization of Lou Ford, which, from second to second, has me mesmerized.

John Patterson does a write-up at The Guardian. In regard to director Michael Winterbottom for his interpretation of Jim Thompson's novel, Patterson says:

He's been accused of misogyny thanks to a scene in which a prostitute (Jessica Alba) is murdered by Casey Affleck's Ford. It's a shockingly ugly event: precisely as in the book, Ford punches her face until it collapses in on itself. Once read, never forgotten: I felt ill when I read it and ill when I saw it; to me that suggests a successful adaptation.

I'm not sure what the point of such criticism is. That art should not imitate life? Do we not read or see reports of such atrocious acts in the news on a daily basis? Should movie makers hide their heads in the sand in response?

Or, should all movies avoid realism when depicting violence, opting for over-the-top comic book approach instead? Casey himself spoke out against such movies when talking with Aaron Hillis recently:

Q: Since the film's premiere at Sundance, some have criticized the violence for being too extreme or misogynistic.

A: There has to be space for those voices. In the world and what we do, making movies and media, I think they are valid—and, at times, righteous. In this case, they're barking up the wrong tree. The irresponsible films that contribute to a desensitization of the culture aren't like this movie. If you're going to show violence, make it realistic and upsetting. The movies that bother me are the ones in which killing of any kind seems common and OK. People crash into each other, punch each other, stab each other, shoot each other and don't get hurt, or there's nothing upsetting about it. It mattered a lot to me that this be a realistic depiction of violence.

Or, perhaps, the point of the criticism is, that, as was posited by Oscar Wilde, life imitates art. In which case some twisted individual may re-enact a horrible scene in a movie where someone is brutally killed.

Patterson continues:

Depicting a brutal, misogynistic act by an avowedly misogynistic character does not in itself endorse violence towards women, just as depicting murder doesn't condone it, and no artist should live in fear of the 0.1% of nutters who take works of fiction as instruction manuals.

I think this is just the beginning of the discourse.

Gun-Toting Heigl

This caught my eye. Katherine Heigl says of her planned upcoming movie based on the bestselling novel by Janet Evanovich, 'One for the Money':

“I’m in the process of potentially taking some target practice lessons for my next movie ‘One for the Money.’ I’m stoked about it,” Heigl enthused. “It’s about a female bounty hunter, she’s not supposed to be good with guns but I’m still curious to know what it is like.”

Katherine Heigl wielding a firearm? That needs to be in the movie. I'd pay to see that.

Dawn of the Living Hatfield-McCoy Reference

Is there no other way to describe a situation in which two parties disagree than as being a 'Hatfield-McCoy' thing? In his review of George A. Romero's 'Survival of the Dead' Scott Tobias says:

Crockett and his ragtag crew find themselves in the middle of a clan war between two Irish patriarchs with different ideas about how to stave off the zombie apocalypse. Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) insists on plugging every dead and infected person with a head shot to ensure he doesn't join the ranks of the undead. His Bible-thumping counterpart Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) believes in the possibility of redemption, so he experiments with keeping the undead in chains, waiting for a cure while trying to wean them off their flesh-gnawing tendencies.

There's a lesson to be learned from this Hatfield-McCoy feud

Nothing wrong with that. There are two people, they disagree, therefore we have ourselves a 'Hatfield-McCoy' situation. Right?

However, Tobias is not the only critic to make this reference. It also appears in the reviews (for 'Survivial of the Dead') by Slant, Reeling News, The Examiner, SF Gate, The Seattle Times, The Collider, Yahoo, Hollywood News, Shock Till You Drop, The Boston Herald, RottenTomatoes, Amazon, Today on MSNBC, and Roger Ebert, as well as, I assume, others in the blogosphere.

The Hatfield-McCoy reference is used over and over and over. Doesn't this tendency seem to drain the very life from movie reviews? Will reviews become nothing more than a living dead collection of convenient turns of phrase which have been resurrected from the cemetery of archived write-ups of yore, to be set free and stagger about on the internet, wall-eyed and moaning, seeking only to devour the brains (sorry...minds) of their readers?

Alas! The Hatfield-McCoy reference... Is this to be the 'Wilhelm Scream' of references for critics whenever there is a disagreement in a movie they are reviewing? I hope not. I just don't like it. Not one bit. And, if you like it then you and me have ourselves a Hatfield-McCoy thing going on.

Man Proves Pixar's 'Up' Technology Viable

Jonathan Trappe has successfully proven the technology portrayed in Pixar's movie 'Up' is a viable way to relocate your house.

Seen above, the notion that a house could be moved using just balloons was once thought of as science fiction. Now, thanks to the brave efforts of Mr. Trappe, homeowners everywhere may look forward to moving their house to any new and exciting location they choose simply by attaching a lot of balloons to it and pulling it with a long piece of rope.

Harper's Bazaar Fluffs It Up

Harper's Bazaar chats with Katherine Heigl.

Now that she's a married mom of an adopted daughter, the outspoken Katherine Heigl is learning to think before she speaks.

With an intro like that...
Continuing: can argue that Katherine wouldn't be the star she is today without her ballsy moves and vocal, opinionated point of view. She called her first hit, Knocked Up, "a little sexist," stood up for gay best friend T.R. Knight at the Golden Globes, and bowed out of the Emmy race in 2008 because "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination."

An 'opinionated point of view'? Isn't one's view their opinion? An opinionated opinion?

The write-up ends with this revelation from Heigl:

"Now it's time to reevaluate and grow up. I hope by my mid-30s, I get to the point where I don't doubt myself," Katherine explains. "I'm going to make mistakes and say stupid things, but I won't have to sit in a room in the dark and wonder, 'Am I a bad person?' It will be 'Okay, Katie, enough with the drama.'"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Expendables

Casey Affleck on Violence in the Movies

Aaron Hillis had the opportunity to ask Casey Affleck about his role in 'The Killer Inside Me', a movie criticized by some for graphic violence against women. This is my favorite exchange:

Q: Since the film's premiere at Sundance, some have criticized the violence for being too extreme or misogynistic.

A: There has to be space for those voices. In the world and what we do, making movies and media, I think they are valid—and, at times, righteous. In this case, they're barking up the wrong tree. The irresponsible films that contribute to a desensitization of the culture aren't like this movie. If you're going to show violence, make it realistic and upsetting. The movies that bother me are the ones in which killing of any kind seems common and OK. People crash into each other, punch each other, stab each other, shoot each other and don't get hurt, or there's nothing upsetting about it. It mattered a lot to me that this be a realistic depiction of violence.

I couldn't agree more. Violence in movies has become cartoonish. Fist fights escalate into battles that would kill, but leave the participants with nothing more than a cut over the eye the next day, (when both eyes should be swollen shut, teeth missing, limbs broken, etc.).

Few movie makers take responsibility for the level of brutality in their work. Then, a desensitized public is outraged by realistic violence (and its consequences) in something like, say, 'No Country for Old Men'.

The bits I've seen from 'The Killer Inside Me' are gripping. Affleck is possessed by his character. Can't wait to see it.

If violent acts in this movie (or others) are supported by the story and character arc I don't think there's a problem, even if the action and its results are graphic and realistic.

Sex and the City 2 Poised to Beat Prince of Persia?

According to Mediabistro the 'Sex and the City 2' midnight showing hauled in $3 million, more than the original's midnight opening, despite (really) bad reviews.

Company Town is saying PoP is looking soft and may take a back seat to SATC2:

Disney expects "Persia," which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, to rake in more money overseas, though early foreign prospects aren't particularly bright. Last weekend the film brought in a soft $18 million in 19 foreign countries where it opened early. This weekend it will debut in another 19 international territories, putting it in most major foreign markets.

"Sex and the City 2," meanwhile, appears to be on much stronger footing, though it remains to be seen whether overwhelmingly negative reviews will have an effect.

None of which comes as a surprise to me. If any movie is review-proof it's SATC2, and PoP trailers just haven't had any pop (sorry).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dumb or Interesting?

Wired Science runs down the latest findings on screams and other sound effects in movies:

Blumstein and his co-authors acoustically analyzed 30-second cuts from more than 100 movies representing a broad array of genres. The movies included titles such as Aliens, Goldfinger, Annie Hall, The Green Mile, Slumdog Millionaire, Titanic, Carrie, The Shining and Black Hawk Down.

Not unexpectedly, the horror films had a lot of harsh and atonal screams. Dramatic films had sound tracks with fewer screams but a lot of abrupt changes in frequency. And adventure films, it turns out, had a surprising number of harsh male screams.

Am I the only one screaming in horror? Somebody actually analyzed 30-seconds cuts from a 100 movies? Perhaps the results of the analysis aren't final yet. When they come in I'm sure it'll be a giant leap for mankind.

Touchy-Feely Sci-Fi Thriller?

I can't help but think certain scenes from 'Splice' will have a lot of audiences squirming in their seats trying not to snicker. Seems too cerebral to be a mainstream hit, but may do well as a rental.

Starring Josh Brolin (and Megan Fox)

I saw a trailer for 'Jonah Hex' on TV last night. Nothing special about it except, at the end, the voice over announces the movie as 'starring Josh Brolin'. No mention of Megan Fox even though she was in the same shot when Brolin's name was announced.

I realize there is fall-out from the 'Transformers' thing, but is Fox such a persona non grata they won't even say her name during a trailer?

The Killer Inside Me

It's getting to the point where everything Casey Affleck is in is a must-see. It's his eyes, I think. The way they belong to the character he is portraying.

Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba never seemed more on. And, this poster...

Crazy Trailer

Not sure what to make of this quite yet. Looks good, though.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Looking forward to this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Early Sex and the City Warning

So far the reviews for 'Sex and the City 2' are wicked bad. At The Big Picture, Patrick Goldstein cites a zero fresh rating at Rottentomatoes, and David Edelstein's articulate thrumming.

Just minutes ago, Claudia Puig at USA Today, posted an enthusiastic and sustained negative review, saying:

Fans of the HBO series would be wise to pivot on their Manolo Blahniks and steer clear of the mortifying mess that is Sex and the City 2.


An insult to the memory of the cleverly written show...

And, Connie Ogle at Miami Herald fires these shots:

The film opens with a long, lavish gay wedding that has nothing to do with anything that follows and seems suspiciously like a way to please a specific segment of the series' fans. Which is kind of nice, really, although one could argue that subjecting the audience to Liza Minnelli's Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) is not only cruel but also unnecessary. SATC2 is practically Avatar-length for no good reason; musical numbers are superfluous.


There's no rhythm or coherence to the way the story plays out

With more coming in by the minute. Not all reviews are bad, though.

Amanda Platell at The Daily Mail says:

Yes, it's sagged a bit (haven't we all!) but Sex And The City hasn't lost its sparkle...

and, for fans who simply must know:

As for the eponymous 'sex', it's not long before the movie delivers the first coupling.

Predictably, Samantha hooks up with the best man at a gay wedding - a marathon that lasts most of the night.

And the second involves Duracell Samantha, again.

This time the scene is the bonnet of a Jeep as she grapples with a rugged architect called Rickhart Spirt - a name leadenly crafted to allow her to made a rather obvious risque joke.
I'm on the edge of my seat.

Of course, none of it will deter fans. I'm calling for a huge opening weekend.

My Joy

So far above clip is the only video I've been able to find from Sergei Loznitsa's 'My Joy'. Here's an excerpt from Andrew O'Hehir's write-up at Salon:

Later, more mysteriously, we see another terrible incident, probably from World War I, which happened in the house where Georgy ends up living with a Gypsy woman who seems to have claimed him as her sex toy.

That's the closest thing to tenderness Georgy finds in this land of stupidity and evil, where any human impulses seem to have been overrun by the most ruthless and Darwinian kind of struggle. He is beaten and left for dead; his truck and cargo are sold off. At last, the old man who told him the World War II story becomes his final refuge. And he hasn't seen the last of those terrible cops. Believe me, Russian readers, I don't assume that this dark fantasy bears much relationship to Russian reality -- or at least, no more than "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" depicts real life in 1970s central Texas.

For some reason, I'm not sure what, I want to see this.

Laugh out Loud Horror(ible)

I won't be seeing 'Troll 2' but I'll check out the doc re: the making of it, 'Best Worst Movie'. Here's the official site.

Love Ranch

Video Pitch for Prince of Persia

The upcoming 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' is based on a video game developed by Jordan Mechner. Here is the trailer Mechner used to pitch the movie idea to Jerry Bruckheimer.

Prince of Persia movie pitch trailer (2003) from jordan mechner on Vimeo.

Here's Mechner's site.

Sarah Polley

I was perusing this mention of Sarah Polley at 24 Frames and was surprised by the mention that she is in the upcoming sci-fi thriller 'Splice'. I hadn't realized it was her.

It's not so much that she stars in the movie (along with Adrien Brody), it's that she is famously picky about the roles she takes. This made me wonder about my assessment of 'Splice' as being B-movie schlock -- something I usually tend to watch a few minutes at a time on disc.

I remembered reading a NYT story about Polley and how she is so conscientious. A quick search yielded the 2007 article:

“Baron Munchausen,” she said, “really defined me in terms of never really wanting to be on huge films ever, and really focusing on independent films. There’s a real fear in me of never wanting to be in an unsafe environment again.”

'Wariness' director Doug Liman calls it:

Doug Liman, a good friend of Ms. Polley’s who directed her in “Go,” is a victim of her wariness. “I’ve offered Sarah a part in everything I’ve made since ‘Go,’ including the female lead in ‘The Bourne Identity,’ and she keeps turning me down,” he said. “She has a tremendous amount of ambivalence about this profession, but that makes her a better actress.


Ms. Polley ... won the part of Penny Lane ... in “Almost Famous,” Cameron Crowe’s rock ’n’ roll crowd pleaser. The part of a flighty, used groupie seems about as far from Ms. Polley, politically and in person, as possible. After weeks of rehearsal, she began to feel as if she’d made a huge mistake.

“The part didn’t fit me. Every day, it felt less and less like something I could pull off,” she recalled. “You just knew when you read the script that whoever played that part was going to have a certain kind of life, and it wasn’t one I was ready for.” She walked away, and Kate Hudson became Penny Lane, earning an Oscar nomination and a permanent place in the tabloids.

Okay, fine. She doesn't want to be in huge films. So much so she turned down roles in the six movies Liman has done since 'Go' including a lead in 'Bourne', and quit a major role even after weeks of rehearsal because it didn't fit her. That's sticking to your guns.

Not only is Polley picky about her roles, she is a more than capable director, winning several awards and nominations for 'Away From Her' based on a short story by Alice Munro "The Bear Came over the Mountain".

So, what is it about the script for 'Splice' that snagged an actor/director as judicious as Polley? I'm looking forward to finding out. 'Splice' opens June 4.

Eat Pray Love

Just doesn't do much for me. Perhaps, it means more if you've read the novel.

For Sale: (Regular) Amityville House

Of 'The Amityville Horror' fame. Price: $1.15 million.

The house became so infamous that the couple who purchased it in 1977, James and Barbara Cromarty, had the address changed from 112 Ocean Avenue to 108 Ocean Avenue in a bid to protect their privacy.

They lived in the house for a decade. 'Nothing weird ever happened, except for people coming by because of the book and the movie,' Mr Cromarty, now 77, told reporters.

The real estate listing claims the house has an 'interesting history'.

Neighbours say gawkers still turn up to see the house, mostly on Halloween.

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Non-Poster for The A-Team

Here's the first mock-up of the A-Team poster.

Stones Exile

Rolling Stone has a very nice pictorial of making of the 1972 album 'Exile on Main Street'. Love this shot of Mick.

The album, in re-release, has become The Rolling Stones first number one in sixteen years.

Steven Kijak's documentary about the making of the album, 'Stones in Exile' made its debut at Cannes.

...says Stephen Kijak, adding it all up. "I don't know why I'm making films, I should have been in a band."

For me, an absolute must see.

Pixar's Process: Toy Story 3

Wired covers the Pixar process for making their animated hits, including Toy Story 3:

At Pixar, a staff of writers, directors, animators, and technicians move from project to project. As a result, the studio has built a team of moviemakers who know and trust one another in ways unimaginable on most sets.

Which explains how they can handle the constant critiques that are at the heart of Pixar’s relentless process. Animation days at the studio all begin the same way: The animators and director gather in a small screening room filled with comfy couches. They eat Cap’n Crunch and drink coffee. Then the team begins analyzing the few seconds of film animated the day before, as they ruthlessly “shred” each frame. Even the most junior staffers are encouraged to join in.

MacGruber's Cult Status: Pending

Okay, 'MacGruber' only made $4 million in its debut, but I still cling to the contention that's better than most people were expecting. So, in a way, I was right.

Clearly, however, my prediction was not in reference to this movie's box office performance but to its potential as a rental/party and/or cult midnight-movie -- at least I'm pretty sure that's what I meant.

Here's Jevon Phillips rundown of the midnight show at the Pacific Theatre at the Grove.

DreamWorks Slide

Was a fourth Shrek worth it?

DreamWorks Animation stock (DWA) took a 10% hit after the $71 million opening weekend of 'Shrek Forever After', and was trading at $31.31 this morning.

Shrek 4 cost over $150 million to make and earned $50 million less than Shrek 3's opening of $121 million.

I don't usually care much about box office results as they relate to a studio's financial health, but DWA stock has been losing ground at a clip lately, losing 6% of its value before Shrek 4 even opened.

This is on the heels of a 9.2% drop after 'How to Train Your Dragon' in March.

The stock has dropped from $42.75 at the end of April this year to less than $32 this morning. And, that's multiplied by how many millions of shares? Will DWA really make up the loss on 'Shrek Forever After' with DVD rentals/sales, cable licensing, and tie-ins?

It might have been better to have gone out on top with Shrek 3.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Salt Poster

This I like.

Stiletto Squishes Soccer Ball!

Here's the Sex and the City 2 meets World Cup poster.

I get it: Why watch The World Cup when you can go see our movie? Okay... Somehow, I think the futbol game will garner a larger audience.

I like the tag, though: There are other ways to score. Copy that.

Geared up for the Next Road Trip?

NPR on how the iPad can be mounted to your steering wheel. Is this perhaps the most dangerous way yet invented to watch a movie?

Fair Game

I hadn't planned on seeing 'Fair Game' until reading Naomi Wolf's write-up at The Times. Wolf is at Cannes with her boyfriend Avram Ludwig, a co-producer for the film. Here's an excerpt:

Ms Plame Wilson, in particular, fascinates me; she is the silent and silenced woman, for many reasons. During the scandal of her exposure she could not talk about her life, her career, the incredible fact that for years she had been posing as a bland businesswoman as a cover, while actually travelling the world in highly dangerous situations as a CIA spy. So she appeared again and again, in her cool blonde beauty, impeccably dressed, beside her outspoken husband, but she could not speak for herself. When she actually published a memoir, Fair Game (titled, like the film, in reference to Bush's quote that she was "fair game" in the attack on Wilson), it was redacted so forcefully by "the agency" -- there are pages that are almost completely one big blackout of text. Her lovely face was on the cover -- but her voice was strangled and interrupted. Even now she cannot speak; her life as a spy is still classified, classified for ever unless the CIA makes special exceptions for her. This leads us to the bombshell in the movie -- a bombshell that, once again, Plame may not speak about.

Liman's film, which is based on a screenplay compiled from the testimony of many sources, contains a real bombshell: it shows Plame as not just a garden-variety operative -- let alone the lowly "glorified secretary" that the Cheney team tried in their infinite sexism to paint her as being -- but rather that she was at the forefront of a highly successful undercover programme of nuclear nonproliferation. She and her colleagues are portrayed as working, at great personal danger, with allies in Iraq. The film shows them extracting parts by stealth from nuclear devices, shipping them surreptitiously to the US to be tampered with, and then, again at great personal risk, reinstalling the now-nonfunctioning pieces. If this is true, it means that Cheney and his team did not only wipe out one CIA agent in their reprisals against a truth-telling citizen; they also sacrificed deliberately a highly successful counterproliferation programme that had kept the Western world safe from nuclear attack for a decade and a half.

If this is true, it is important news. One can't say if it is true because the sources, many of them CIA operatives, spoke to the film-makers off the record. Plame can't confirm or deny it because her role is still classified. Doug and his team aren't journalists.

Wolf finishes with:

I hope that film can add its unique qualities to the journalistic record on this set of events, so that Americans can truly understand one of the most important, dramatic and personally intense intersections of principle and personalities in their own recent history -- a history that is not behind us but that still comes home to us, wounded or maddened or accompanied by officials bearing a wrapped flag to loved ones, week after week after week.

I enjoyed the piece. A compelling read. Looking forward to the movie.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Countdown to the end of 24

NPR covers the end of 24:

"One of the things that I've tried to explain for years is that this was all written two years prior to 9/11," Sutherland says. "We had shot half of our season prior to 9/11. This was in the fantasy of two writers."

Resident Evil Afterlife

How many lives does this get?  3-D resuscitation number 4 being thrust into your mind September.

Cate Does W Magazine

I'm not sure how but Cate Blanchett keeps getting better looking. See more at W Magazine.

That Inception/Matrix/Bond Thing

Each trailer is better than the last. Love that Ellen Page is in this one. I'm developing a slight case of DiCaprio burn-out -- he's great, but in so many movies with that squint-eyed gravitas... Very Bond/Matrix. Pretty much a must-see on DVD.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Huffington Fluff

In his write-up at Huffington Post, Scott Mendelson asks why we hate Megan Fox. While I don't care whether Fox was fired or quit the upcoming Transformers production, I was curious as to what the fuss is about, so I read Mendelson's post.

It's always been my impression that The Huffington Post regarded itself as an alternate source of news, and held its writers to a higher standard than that found on many personal blogs. However, I was shocked by Mendelson's level of writing, both its overall grammatical quality, and objectivity.

Perhaps 'shocked' is too dramatic a word. However, I'm at a loss to come up with a better description. Should I settle for 'off-put'? Or, is that too mild? Is 'incensed' too full of myself?

Sorry, but bad writing gets to me. I can't help it. I like precision. What Mr. Mendelson has wrought is a Frankenstein's monster -- a jangly mish-mash of poorly executed notions and fantasies, stitched together by a lazy and uninformed tinkerer, which represents an abomination, an affront to the very notion of thoughtful writing.

So, as a fellow blogger, I offer the following analysis of Mr. Mendelson's rambling in the hopes that it might slow (I'm aware it will not stop) the proliferation of such unwieldy creations. If I cannot succeed in this lofty goal I hope to, at least, give pause to pounders of keyboards everywhere, whether they be in their own homes or in the offices of more established news agencies, before they click 'publish'.

Firstly, Mendelson fails, again and again, to cite his source. From the first paragraph:

"...the same geeks and entertainment columnists who called co-star Shia LeBeouf honest and gutsy for criticizing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) were basically applauding the idea that Fox had been fired for basically doing the same thing."

In something of a self-aggrandizing oversight, Mendelson links to his own review of Transformers but does not cite a source for Shia's comments.

Now, before I go on, I have to point out some clunky writing. Not that that's a bad thing. I love some good clunky writing now and again. But, in Mendelson's piece, it's simply irritating. In the above the turn of phrase 'basically applauding the idea...for basically doing the same thing' is, basically, lacking a certain flow.

So, let's look at the comments in question. From LA Times blog, 24 Frames, I found the following by LeBeouf. Referring to 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull', in which LeBeouf starred with Harrison Ford, LeBeouf says:

"I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished"

"You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg, who directed]. But the actor's job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn't do it. So that's my fault. Simple"

"We [Harrison Ford and LaBeouf] had major discussions. He wasn't happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn't universally accepted"

And, in regard to Transformers:

"When I saw the second movie, I wasn't impressed with what we did"

Certainly, critical comments. However, Mendelson writes:

"...the media at large jumped on the idea that Fox had been fired by Michael Bay in relation for various statements that Fox had made over the last several months that appeared to criticize Mr. Bay."

Shouldn't that be 'in relation to' not 'for' various statements? Anyway, again:

"The same geeks...who called co-star Shia LeBeouf honest and gutsy for criticizing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) were basically applauding the idea that Fox had been fired for basically doing the same thing."

The above-mentioned clunky style aside, here, with this statement, Mendelson takes the first of several falls. While LeBeouf's comments were critical of his performance in the movie(s) and the movies themselves, he did not criticize Steven Spielberg personally. Fox's comments were personal attacks against Michael Bay. So, therefore, the two groups of comments are not, basically, 'the same thing'.

As an aside: In his review of the movie, Mendelson calls Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen "...a shocking amount of effort and skill going into a product of little entertainment value and even less significance." and gives it a grade of D+. By his own logic, by making such a criticism, Mendelson has, basically, launched a personal attack on Michael Bay. Basically...

Next, we move on to that most subtle of writing techniques: hyperbole. Mendelson says:

"Her comments comparing him to Hitler were misguided, but only because the proper comparison would have been Joseph Stalin (i.e. - he basically works you to death while shooting the film)."

I'm not sure any elaboration is needed here.

Then comes this gem. It took my breath away:

"Anyone who honestly thought that Fox was comparing Michael Bay's direction of Transformers to Adolf Hitler's actions as head of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s is intentionally deluding themselves (to justify their own inexplicable hatred of either Fox or Bay)."

With this, Mendelson suggests that those who hold Ms. Fox in low regard are so addled they literally think Bay's direction style is comparable to that of Hitler's actions. This is one of many instances where Mendelson employs a peculiar brand of circular logic: 'Anyone who (honestly) thinks Fox was comparing Bay's direction to Hitler's actions in WWII is deluded, therefore Ms. Fox calling Bay 'Hitler' is above criticism by such (deluded) people'.

Next is this bit:

It would be easy to classify the mainstream hatred of Megan Fox as a classic virgin/whore dynamic, and it wouldn't be incorrect.

Wishy-Washy. The writer sidesteps any commitment. It 'would be' easy to classify, however that does not mean I am classifying, and, if I were doing so, it wouldn't be incorrect. He follows up with:

...stereotypical female moviegoers, prefer their leading ladies to be sexually harmless, not terribly opinionated, and completely nonthreatening in that 'girl next door' kind of way. Jennifer Aniston may look fantastic when done up for a magazine shoot, but women are safe in the knowledge that without the fancy Hollywood makeup, she pretty much looks like the rest of us, and won't be a sexual threat to their boyfriends or husbands.

More strange logic. Ms. Aniston is rarely seen (probably never seen by the average husband) without make-up, looking fantastic. As such, how can a woman feel 'safe in the knowledge' that Aniston would not be a threat to their boyfriends or husbands? Is the sterotypical woman afraid their husband will find himself at the local market some Sunday morning next to Ms. Aniston in the produce section -- her all plain and without make up -- stealing glances at her and planning the end of his marriage while he pretends to judge the quality of a bell pepper?

Mendelson continues:

"Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, represents a genuine threat."

Isn't it sexist (or just plain rude) to suggest that the average woman is threatened by Angelina Jolie's looks? That is, the average woman would not want their husband to see or know an attractive woman for fear it may bring about the end of their marriage. Is that in the vows somewhere? 'I take you in sickness and in health, to cherish and honor forever till death do us part, unless of course a hot babe walks past or I see one on TV. Then it's over. Forget it'.

Mendelson continues to speculate as to the degree and type of attractiveness of other Hollywood actors like Uma Thurman and Julia Roberts and whether they are a threat to marriages, or deserving of women's loathing. He concludes this line of thinking with the articulate:

"Because men won't go to see a film because they find the leading lady attractive, even if women will do so for handsome leading men (think the Twilight franchise)."

Men won't go to see a movie that has an attractive female lead? Really? If men won't go to see a film with an attractive leading lady, why are stereotypical women threatened by such beauty?

And with this, even a hack like Mendelson scrapes the bottom:

Plucked from obscurity and turned into a superstar as a result of the first Transformers picture, she has not gone the way of obscurity that greeted Shia LeBeouf's prior love interests. Despite possibly being better actresses and/or being just as attractive, Margo Harschman (the TV series Even Stevens) has only recently found a niche as a B-movie scream queen, while Sarah Roemer (Disturbia) has simply struggled to stay employed (both starred in the dreadful Fired Up). But Fox has stayed in the limelight as a figure of lust and tabloid frenzy.

I'm sorry. Is Mendelson making a connection between the success of Fox as an actor and the failure (according to him) of former girlfriend's of Shia LeBeouf's Margo Harschman and Sarah Roemer as explanation why she (Fox) has been derided for her comments regarding Michael Bay? Firstly, I dare you to find one in a hundred average people who can identify either Ms. Harschman or Ms. Roemer as being a former love interest of Shia LeBeouf. As such, neither woman, nor their professional failure as perceived by Mr. Mendelson, can be cited as a reason people have criticized Ms. Fox.

Further, a check of IMDB shows that Harschman has some twenty-nine listed credits -- hardly 'niche' success. A check of credits for Sarah Roemer shows twelve returns -- approximately half of which are major motion pictures. While this might be interpreted as 'struggling to stay employed' it should be mentioned Ms. Roemer was born in 1984. That ain't bad, Mr. Mendelson.

Let's make a dash for the end, shall we:

"Megan Fox may or may not have been fired from Transformers 3. She may have simply declined to appear because she just didn't want to do the picture, perhaps because she had nothing to do in the prior sequel (Bay had allegedly promised her a better role this time around, complete with her own female villain to combat)."

One speculation leading to another to support a point. All soft -- she may have done this, and may have declined that, perhaps for reasons related to alleged promises...

There is no question that society as a whole does not like Megan Fox.

Society as a whole? All of society? No question all of society does not like her? I see.

She has done nothing of note to earn our wrath, or even our interest. We created Megan Fox the superstar.

She is a superstar that has done nothing to earn even our interest. Wait! How did we do that again? Create a superstar without showing interest in them?

Mr. Mendelson, I find your writing repulsive and irresponsible. I'm a bit ashamed to think I might be compared to the likes of you because we both write about movies. I recommend you give your writing more thought, not to mention doing a bit of research next time. I hope you either take a writing class, or should you deem that is beneath you, would you please consider not posting anymore of your irrational and poorly constructed thoughts online.

Play Pac Man at Google

Okay, if you haven't heard, you can play Pac Man by simply going to Google. Use your arrow keys to guide Pac Man.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

'Dumb but Smart'

Toldja! Says Lee Ferguson over at CBS News:

" his directorial debut, SNL writer Jorma Taccone achieves the impossible: MacGruber the film improves upon the (thin) source material and manages to become that rarity, a dumb movie that's actually wicked smart."

That's right. 'Dumb but smart', he said. And, what did I call it just the other day? Dumb but fresh. That's almost the same thing. Pretty close, anyway.

And, what does that prove? Nothing, but I still think this movie will do better than a lot of people are saying.

Biutiful First Look

I'll admit I don't usually go for this kind of work but I couldn't take my eyes off this trailer. Will be there.

Fox and Google Team Up

Google Earth Blog reports on the cross-promotion with Fox for the upcoming A-Team movie. Here's an excerpt from their write-up:

As you drive around, you can unlock extra video clips from the movie by performing specific tasks such as reaching (and holding) 100+ Mph, performing a variety of jumps, traveling over 6 miles or crashing the van enough times. The collision detection with the 3D buildings is very impressive and makes it pretty easy to crash.

Sing Along. You Know You Want To

Trailer Park Movies | MySpace Video

Iron Sky

Here's the latest trailer that I'm aware of.

This is from a couple years ago. Must see.

Super 8 Teaser

This is just cool.

Stretch Armstrong Movie?

MTV blogs about the planned movie adaptation based on the Stretch Armstrong doll made by Kenner (remember that name?) back in the 70s.

Shaky sounding idea. A whacky comedy, huge budget 3-D movie about a guy with stretchy limbs? I can already see the fakey CGI coming through the screen, and poking my mind with its hokey plot.

I like that Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens) will direct, but Taylor Lautner in the title role? He doesn't seem right for this -- he just doesn't have that 'stretchy' look. I really don't see him carrying a big-budget CGI 3-D romp.

Weren't the kids that played with Stretch Armstrong kind of dorks? I was totally a dork and I would never touch one of those things. This picture needs to be aimed at kids to have any chance, and I'm not sure they'll be interested.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

B-Movie Action, Except for Fishburne

These posters have a very B-movie feel. Trailers have the same energy (albeit with top-drawer production value).

I have a question about the copy in the top poster. What is the meaning of: They are the most dangerous killers on the planet. But this is not our planet...?

Point I: Are 'they' the humans with guns? If so, then the action does not take place on Earth if 'they' are not on our/their planet.

Point II: However, if the movie is not set on Earth, why are 'they' (that is the people with guns) the most dangerous killers [on the planet]. I mean, if the Predators are also on the planet, aren't they [that is, the Predators] the most dangerous killers?

Summary of Analysis: Is the copy suggesting that humans are the most dangerous killers or predators? Does the action take place on Earth or another planet?


a) The story takes place on Earth where, normally, humans are the most dangerous killers, however the Predators have assumed possession of the planet (and probably have some sort of legal paperwork to back up the claim [but, who's gonna ask]), and, therefore, it (the planet -- Earth, that is) is no longer 'ours'.

b) Or, The action takes place on a planet other than Earth and the Predators are, in fact, the most dangerous killers (on that planet). However, if that be the case, it would be academic at best to point out that the planet is not ours. That's the same as saying: On this planet the predators are the most dangerous killers, and this planet is not Earth, so...that makes you (humans) bait with guns.

c) I think someone at the ad agency needs to take another look at it. Pretend you're in college -- it's English Comp 101. See what you can come up with.

d) Might I suggest: On our planet we are the most dangerous killers. But, this isn't our planet... Da, Da, Dummmm!!!!

Anyway, the inclusion of Laurence Fishburne in the cast makes all this silliness worthwhile. I just don't see Fishburne taking a bad role, so will see the movie just for him. No matter what planet it's on or who's the most dangerous...whatever.

Let Me In

I was a little wary when I heard Hollywood was planning a remake of 'Lat den Ratte Komme In' (Let the Right One In). (Still image above). Directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the script, this movie is atmospheric and eerie in a way Hollywood directors rarely capture -- the very antithesis of American bubble gum like 'Twilight'.

The remake, 'Let Me In', (that title just makes me cringe, it so lacks the poetry of the original) written and directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), and stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass), is scheduled for an October 1 release.

Above still from 'Let Me In' has the same vibe as the original, but I can't help thinking the movie won't grab me the same way. Frankly, I'm hoping it won't have me rolling my eyes.

I know...I'm biased, but Hollywood remakes of foreign movies tend to be such clunkers -- think 'Point of No Return' vs. 'La Femme Nikita'.

Comparing 'Let Me In' to 'Lat den Ratte Komme In' could make for an interesting study. I'm looking forward to watching both on DVD.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

I never appreciated Joan Rivers' take on things until a few years ago. Was too wet behind the ears to get it, I suppose. It scared me a little. Now, though, as a calloused old codger, I enjoy her approach. As edgy as Don Rickles but less off-putting, while having more depth, and being more natural and sincere.

Am looking forward to the film by veteran documentary filmmakers Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, 'Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work'. Love the title -- a nice allusion to both her career longevity and her numerous nips and tucks. The footage I've seen hooked me.

Opens limited June 11.

MacGruber Bomb?

The consensus seems to be 'MacGruber' will bomb.

..."it’s unfortunate 'that all these people seem to have decided it’s going to be horrible before they’ve even seen it.' John Solomon, an SNL writer who wrote 'MacGruber'."

I don't see it. I get the feeling 'MacGruber' will do better than expected. The trailers have that 'dumb-but-fresh' feel I think plenty people are in the mood for about now. I know I'd rather see 'MacGruber' than Shrek 4-ever.

Captain London

It's something of a bittersweet pill -- Captain America is coming to the big screen, however, the story is largely set in, and will be shot in, London.

"This is one reason many advocate that our state's incentive program be revised," said Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A. Inc., which handles film permits for the L.A. area.

From the look on his face I'd say the Captain isn't too happy about the state of affairs. Bittersweet...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Area 51 and the Dead Cow -- Part III

Here's Part III. If you haven't read the beginning or middle, Part I is here:

And, Part II:

 Area 51 and the Dead Cow in the Middle of the Road


By Alan Green

What's that? You gotta have another before we go on? I could use another, myself. Bartender! One more round, over here if you please. I know what you mean. Yessir! The story gets pretty exciting along about now. And, a good story always goes better with a cold brew, I always found. Just ain't right listening to a good story, or watching a movie, or some such thing, without a tall glass of beer. Well, I guess most prefer popcorn or something like that, but I like beer. Here they are -- cheers...Mmm...that's nice. Getting on to the ending. Lemme get right back to it.

Well, now. Where was we? Oh, yeah... The way Joe tells it that protrusion was sticking way out -- like a tent pole -- like whatever it was inside that cow was fixing to come outta there.  And, there was that growly snorting sound -- like a dog growling and a pig snorting mashed into one sound. Joe was about beside himself he was so disturbed by it all, but, he kept right on shooting that video -- even though he could barely keep the camera still enough so's you could see what's what. Oh, I seen the video -- it's shaky but you can still tell what's going on all right.

Welp, anyway, that protrusion recedes a bit and the growly snorting sound goes away, too. Joe was thinking maybe nothing was going to happen after all -- maybe the whole episode was over. And, right then, the protrusion -- it sticks out again, except this time it ain't like the thick end of a baseball bat. No, sir! Not no more! Now, that protrusion is pointed -- sharp. It's making a sharp peak in the hide of the cow's belly. Sticks out further and further. Joe was just waiting for the skin to pop. Well, sure enough, that point sticks out a few more inches when the tip of it breaks through the skin. Well, at first nothing much happens -- there's just this shiny metal-looking point sticking out of that cow's bloated stomach. Then, a bit more of it comes out, and Joe can see from the look of it, that it's some sorta blade -- like on a sword or something. Said, the realization of it made him catch his breath. And, that blade starts cutting that cow's stomach from one side to the other.

Well, that blade don't cut but a coupla inches -- from left to right -- when all that gas that's inside that cow that was built up from the decomposition, you know -- that gas starts coming out. It made a nasty sound -- like a long wet fart -- and Joe smelled it right off. Says it was one of the worst, most foul smells he ever smelt. There was also some intestine and pieces of flesh and whatnot that sprayed out from that hole, and some of it splattered on his boots. Joe says he had to pinch off his breathing and jump back real quick, stumble, several steps. Almost lost his balance and fell, he says, the smell was so bad. Well, he's a gasping for air and kicking the bits of goo off his boots, and he wipes the tears from his eyes. But he don't make any noise, you know what I mean -- no need to let whatever it was with that sword know he was there, not just yet.

You see, by now Joe knew, well he figured at least, that what was going on weren't nothing normal, and in fact -- there might be some danger involved. But, dangerous or not, getting that video was prolly the most important thing he'd ever done, or have the opportunity to do, in his whole life. So, despite that most folks woulda run, Joe stayed.

Well, that metallic looking blade -- it keeps cutting -- from one side of that cow's belly, all the way over to the other. Real smooth and slow. Joe says it didn't saw none, neither -- didn't move back and forth the way you might saw on a piece of chicken, you know. Said that blade just sliced straight through that skin without no sawing motion at all. Musta been pretty sharp. Then, when the end of that blade got to the other side of that cow's belly, it went back inside and it was gone.

Well, by now all that gas that was causing the bloating had escaped through that big hole in its belly and that cow had shrunk back to its normal size. Joe says it was kinda shriveled up. Well, for a few seconds, nothing happened. Joe's just standing there video taping that shriveled up cow, waiting. Then he sees it -- a hand -- just like a person's hand except the fingers were longer -- and -- there was only three of them plus a thumb. It comes out of that slit and pulls back the skin to make the exit bigger. Then, comes a foot -- with only three long toes -- which sticks itself out of the cow, followed by a leg. And that foot sets itself down onto the pavement.

Joe says the skin was real light colored, sorta like 'milk mixed with black ink', he says. And, it was smooth, and there weren't no hair, neither. Next comes a arm and shoulder outta that cow. Then come the hips, and the rear end, the butt -- pointing right at Joe -- and then the other leg and other arm. Then, last, came its head -- big, bald, with holes in the sides where the ears should be. Couldn't see the face -- he (or maybe she, or maybe it don't matter but I'll call it a 'he'), he had its back to Joe. And, that little man backed out of that cow and stood up. It looked almost the same as a small person or child except its limbs were longer than ours, and the fingers and toes were real long.

Well, it stood up straight -- wasn't but maybe four, or, four-and-a-half feet tall. Little guy. Skinny, too -- all skin and bones. He stretched his arms over his head -- just like a lotta folks do when they wake up -- took a deep breath, and, well, just stood there a few seconds. Didn't look around or anything -- just stood there. Was real relaxed looking, calm. Joe says he could hardly believe his eyes. But, he says, the nature of what he was seeing was so extreme, well, it just sorta focused his mind. Numbed him -- made it easier to keep shooting that video and not panic or anything.

Then, that little man looked at his arm -- there was a piece of something slimy -- some skin or guts or something from inside the cow -- it was stuck on that man's arm. Well, he picks it off with his long fingers and lifts it to his mouth, tilts his head back, and drops it in! Yeah! Doesn't chew, just drops it in his mouth and swallows. Just like that. Joe says his jaw like to hit the pavement. As if that weren't bad enough, then that little man licked his fingertips -- you know, like you do when you eat fried chicken or something and you want to get all of it. Just like that. Joe says he was already feeling nauseous, but now he had to choke back vomit. Well, he didn't mind puking -- prolly woulda made him feel better, he says -- but he didn't want to make no commotion and disturb things. He wanted to see what was going to happen next. So, Joe just swallows it back down and keeps on video taping.

Then, the little man sorta brushes the other bits of that cow's innards off himself -- he didn't eat no more of it -- 'thank the lord', Joe always says. And, then he reaches inside a fold of his skin in his side, like where you'd expect his ribs to be. It wasn't like the pocket of a shirt or jacket -- well, that little man didn't appear to be wearing no clothes no how. He just seemed to reach right into his body! Anyway, he reaches in and pulls out this little case -- small, maybe the size of a deck of cards. He presses the surface of it -- where there musta been controls or something -- he presses it a few times with his fat fingertips, like he was putting in a PIN number at a ATM, you know, and the lid of that case opened up. Then, that little man squatted down and reached into that cow, through the slit he had cut, and he pulls out a handful of goo, and he puts that handful of goo inside that case and stands back up. Then, he presses the controls and the case shuts again. Then, he puts that case right back inside the fold of skin from where he got it. I figure that little man was getting a sample, like a specimen, of that cow's insides -- you know -- to be examined in a lab by scientists later on.

Then, the little man looks up at the sky. He looks from side to side, and Joe's watching wondering what the man is looking for. Joe says he looked up in the sky but didn't see a thing. Then, the man, whilst still looking up in the sky, turns around, looking front to back, like he's scanning the entire sky for something. Well, Joe looks around too, careful to keep the camera pointed at the man -- Joe says he looked all the way around one side, then the other, and behind him, but didn't see a thing. So, he turns back, and when he does the little man is looking right at him!

Well, Joe says he was pretty surprised to be looking this strange little man right in the eye. But, as surprised as Joe was, the little man looked even more surprised. That man's eyes was as big as saucers, and his mouth was in the shape of a big letter O. Joe says the man's mouth was pitch black inside -- didn't seem to have no teeth or nothing else in there for that matter -- pure black. And, his eyes, giant -- each one about the size of an egg, almost the same shape, too. With a funny powder blue color with what looked like a grayish milk floating around in them. And, the color went all the way to the edges -- there weren't no whites of this man's eyes. And, there weren't no nose, either. Nor hair. He was just a little skinny naked bald guy with giant blue eyes, holes for ears, and a mouth (that was currently in the shape of a letter O). And, his body was pretty much the same as ours -- two arms, legs, et cetera. Joe says there weren't no parts in the crotch nor elsewhere from which you could tell whether it was a little male man, or if it was a female...well, you know what I mean. There weren't no parts.

Well, they -- Joe and the little guy -- they just stared at each other for a coupla seconds -- neither one knew what to do. Joe just kept on taping. Said he wasn't nearly as scared as before, not since he seen the guy eye to eye. Said he, somehow, looked like a intelligent and calm sort of fella -- somehow. Anyway, he didn't seem like he meant Joe no harm. And the fella didn't seem scared of Joe (he had gotten over the shock of seeing Joe and his eyes weren't so big and his mouth wasn't in the shape of a O no more).

Right then, the little guy raises his hand and faces the palm toward Joe -- like this. Well, obviously he was waving so Joe raises his hand -- not the one with the camera -- and waves at the little guy. Then, the little feller smiles. And, well, Joe smiles right back. Then, he makes this clicking sound, just like what Joe had heard earlier. 'Clickity, tickity, click', Joe says it sounded like. Just like that. Well...hell -- Joe didn't have much choice -- that man musta been saying something and it musta been some kind of greeting, so Joe says, "Howdy." Then Joe points to himself and says, "My name's Joe." Well, when that little man heard that his eyes got all big again and he smiles even bigger, and he point to himself and makes more clicking sounds. Well, Joe took that to be the little guy introducing himself and he just couldn't help it, he chuckles a bit. "Well, pleased to meet you," Joe says, chuckling.

And, then the little guy, he makes this sorta chirping sound. Little short tweets like a bird might make -- over and over. To Joe, it sounded sorta like a laugh. Well, hearing that made Joe go from chuckling to laughing, don't you know. And, when the little man heard Joe laughing he starts a chirping even more -- faster, and this time with a kind of trill added on. He had a twinkle in his eye and had tilted his head back. Joe laughed harder, a real belly laugh -- said it was the funniest thing. And, there they were -- laughing at each other, each one waving their hand. Laughing and waving, waving and laughing. Right out there in the middle of the desert, in the middle of State Route 375. Lord, every time Joe tells it...I just laugh till I can't see for the tears -- just about like we both are now! Oh, lord! Mmm... That is funny!

Well, this goes on for a bit, then they both settle down and lower their hands and stop laughing, and just look at each other again. Then, the little guy, he looks at that dead cow, then looks back at Joe with a sort of guilty expression on his face -- like the cat that ate the bird. Then, he shrugs. Joe says it looked for all the world as if that little guy was embarrassed or ashamed that he was inside that cow a eating it. Well, hell, Joe didn't mind -- to each his own. "I like a good burger myself -- only mine are usually cooked on a grill and they ain't rotten -- but that don't matter," Joe always says. Yep, folks is different.

Anyway, right about then the little guy looks up over the top of them double fences -- the ones with the signs and razor-wire, and he makes more of them clicking sounds. Well, Joe looks over there, too -- at the sky over Area 51 -- but he don't see nothing. Just a clear blue sky. Then, Joe sees this dot way off in the sky. It's just a tiny speck but it's shimmering the way a star does at night -- except it's the middle of the day. Joe watches that speck grow, real fast, as it gets closer. Says it was going faster than any jet plane he ever saw. It went from being just a speck on the horizon to a big giant thing in just a coupla seconds. Just like that. Well, that ship -- Joe always calls it a spaceship cause it didn't look like no plane or other aircraft he had ever seen -- that spaceship gets right up almost directly over them. It blotted out the sun and Joe and the little man were in its shadow.

Joe says it was the biggest ship he had ever seen. Bigger than a navy ship. Hell, Joe says it was at least as big as two aircraft carriers. Beats me how something that big can be made to fly. And, not just fly but 'whip through the air like a bullet, then come to a complete stop in mid-air, all without making a sound -- completely silent', that's what Joe says. Joe says that spaceship stopped so abrupt (it stopped right on a dime) that, if anybody -- he means normal people -- had been aboard it they'd been killed. Woulda been mashed flat. So, he figures that anybody that was on that ship just wasn't like us -- you and me. Well, when that ship stopped, it kicked up a buncha dust, and you could feel the wind from it. The wind caught a tumble weed and rolled it right out in front of Joe and over to the other side of the road.

Well, that spaceship didn't twitch from side to side nor sway at all, not even the least bit -- just stayed exactly in one spot, as if it was cemented up there somehow. Soundless, motionless -- a long metallic silver-looking cigar-shaped ship. Joe was awestruck, but, by now, shooting video had become second-nature to him and he kept that camera trained perfect and captured events just so. Just then, something stuck out of that ship -- it was a long tube-looking thing -- also silver and metallic, maybe as long as a car, and it turned and pointed right at Joe and the little man.

(Well, at the time Joe thought it was pointed right at him and thought maybe it was some kind of gun they was preparing to blast him with. And, Joe, he ain't afraid to admit it, he prayed. He says he told the maker he was sorry for his sins, and hoped he wouldn't be judged too harshly).

Anyway, then that tube starts humming and there's sparks -- green, blue, some was pink -- coming off it, and Joe figures that was the end for him. The humming gets louder and the pitch goes higher and them sparks are a flying faster. Well, Joe braces himself -- and he still keeps pointing that video camera so as to catch all the action, for posterity, he supposed. Just then, a milky-blue beam emanates from that tube and it hits the little man (not Joe). And that little man raises his hand and waves one more time to Joe, then he (the little man) starts a fading away, and in a few seconds he's gone! Then, that beam quits. Just like that. That man is gone. Well, at first Joe thought they had killed that little man for being seen by Joe -- like a punishment for being caught eating a dead cow. But, that didn't make no sense cause they coulda just killed Joe if they was going to kill anybody. So, Joe figured they had beamed that little man up into the ship -- just like you see on TV. Well, he didn't have but a coupla seconds to think on it cause that tube starts to humming again. And, just like before, the humming grows and the pitch goes up and the sparks are a flying, then that tube shoots that beam a second time -- and the beam hits the dead cow. Well, that cow starts fading away just like the little man did, and not more than a coupla seconds later -- it's gone -- didn't even leave a stain.

So now, Joe's standing there in the middle of the road all alone looking up at that ship. Well, don't you know it -- that tube starts to humming again. Now, don't get me wrong, Joe thinks of running -- sure he does. But, he always says, 'Something that told me to stick around -- see what happens next'. So he just stands there and lets that beam hit him. He says he felt all queasy inside, and there was a deep vibration running through him -- not unpleasant he says, but not what you'd call pleasurable neither. He felt a pressure build in the base of his spine and then travel up his backbone. And when that vibrating pressure got to the top of his head the only thing Joe remembers is -- he dropped that video camera.

The next thing Joe knows, he's standing on some kind of floor that felt all squishy under his feet and there ain't nothing to see except this gray-blue light that surrounded him and what looks like a milky fluid flowing through it. He says it was like he was standing in a mix of milky water, or some kind of fluid, and a bluish light. He says he didn't feel like he was suffocating -- but he don't remember taking any breaths, neither. Didn't feel the need. Says, he just was just standing there not breathing, nor feeling a shortness of breath. And he could sorta make out people (or whatever you want to call them) who was standing just a few feet away. Each one of them looked exactly like the little man that had come out of that cow. After a few seconds, one of them stepped forward and he raised his hand -- just like the little man had -- and he sorta waved at Joe. Well, Joe, not knowing what else to do, waved back. Then, the little man smiled at him, and Joe smiled right back. Then, the other little men raised their hands and waved.

Well, it's right about then that Joe says he saw a brilliant light -- so bright it blinded him. Well, almost blinded him -- he could still see the little man (the other folks had disappeared, but that one little man was still there), or, more precisely, the form of that little man was still there. The form was made up of bright dots. Some of the dots were blue, but most were a grayish white. That's what that man's body had become -- a collection of dots of light. Joe says he was looking into that little man's eyes -- said it was more intense a thing than he'd ever done. But, he says, there weren't no tension and he didn't feel embarrassed or anything like that even though they was looking right at each other. Joe says they looked at each other for maybe a few seconds then, well, Joe says he felt like he was hit by a deep pressure right in the middle of his forehead -- right between his eyes, but up a bit in his forehead. Right here -- you know? He said it was a warm dry buzzy pressure -- but not unpleasant. Said he felt it in his mind as much as he did on his forehead. And, while that buzzing pressure was in his mind he didn't have no thoughts at all. This went on for some period of time, but Joe don't know how long. Coulda been a second, coulda been a hour. Then, that buzzing pressure quits. Stops. Just like that.

And, Joe found himself right back in the middle of the road standing in the same spot he had been standing in before he got beamed onto that spaceship. He got his bearings, looked up at the ship, looked at the spot where the little man and the cow had been, then looked down and saw that video camera laying right where he dropped it. Well, he picks it up and presses the button and sure enough it still worked. He looked up at that cigar-shaped ship and pointed the camera at it -- I guess by now ole Joe was a real proficient camera man.

Just then, he notices that tube retracting -- pulled right back into the ship. Well, Joe stood there a second or two, figuring the ship would leave. But, it didn't. Joe kept waiting. Still, that ship just hovered there. Then, without thinking too much about it, Joe raises his hand and waves goodbye to the ship. Then, there was this clicking sound -- click, tickity, click -- like that. Well, Joe figured them people on the ship saying goodbye. So, he says, 'Take it easy', and he keeps waving and video taping as that ship turned and flew away, back over those double fences, and back into Area 51. And, just like that, in just a coupla seconds, that big ship was gone and out of sight. It left so quick it kicked up a bit of a wind and that tumble weed rolled right past Joe's feet, right back to where it came from, and stopped in the same spot it had been in before.

Joe was still standing there looking past those double fences, still waving, when he come to his senses and stopped waving and looked around. Just like that, it was like there had never been a cow, nor a little man, nor any kind of a spaceship. Joe was just standing out there roasting in the hot sun in the middle of SR 375 video taping the desert. And, that was that.

Anyway, Joe finished up his day's work -- like normal -- like nothing had happened. And, because he hadn't taken no lunch break, he met up with his partner at the south end of SR 375 in Warm Springs, just like they planned, and they went back to the station.

Well, Joe went home and he looked at that video -- the entire thing. Run through it a coupla times, I suppose. Just to make sure he hadn't lost his marbles out there in that desert sun. (That's been known happen every now and then). Joe says he spent that night thinking. Spent the whole weekend thinking, he says. Figured what had happened called for some consideration.

What Joe remembered the most -- what seemed the most important to him -- was when he was on that ship and they -- that little man that was made up of dots of light, and Joe -- when they was looking at each other and Joe felt that pressure in the middle of his forehead, in the middle of his mind -- that was the most special part of being on that ship. Joe says that, in that moment, he felt he knew what that little man was thinking. Not like he could hear the words or nothing, he just knew that man's thoughts. Like the thoughts were imprinted on Joe's mind. Like tracks in the sand, he says -- he has a hard time describing it. Not only that, but Joe says he could perceive how that man's entire life had been -- on a pinpoint -- all at the same time! Anyway, Joe says the more he thought about it over that weekend the more he realized how different that little man was from him.

Well, lemme explain. First, that little man didn't carry no anger, Joe says. Wasn't angry at a thing nor any person. And, not only that, but Joe got the impression he had never, not even once, been angry. No, sir. Not once. And, when Joe thought about it more he realized that little man had never thought a nasty thought about another person. Nope. Also, didn't pity nobody, nor feel sorry for himself, neither. Never had! Not one time. Joe says, "The more I come to understand how that little man lived and how pure his thoughts were, the more I understood how poorly I had been living."

Even though he thought about it all weekend Joe just couldn't figure out why he had carried all that anger with him all his life. He had been angry at everyone, not just folks that crossed him. All the time, he says, even when he was alone. Sometimes it was people that had done him wrong years earlier, sometimes it was strangers on the street. He just carried that anger with him all the time, no matter what. Then, Joe realized that that anger had turned to spite. He hated people even before he met them! Yessir! Like I said at the start, Joe always had a chip on his shoulder. It prolly was the reason he never had nobody -- never had real friends, (except me I guess), or a family, nor no comfort in life. Well, after two straight days of thinking about it Joe figured he weren't gonna live like that no more. Figured he was fed up with it. Figured he'd been carrying enough hate long enough for one man -- for one lifetime.

Well, come Monday morning, Joe went in to work and gave notice. Just like that. And, in the two weeks he had left to work Joe went about making amends with other employees he had spited, either openly or to himself. He got to know about them and about their families and what their interests was, and such. Well, it's fair to say that Joe got to be pretty good friends with his co-workers -- even though he only had a coupla weeks to do it. Got to be good enough friends with some that they have him over from time to time -- for a barbecue, or to watch a game on TV, or celebrate the fourth -- any such occasion.

Well, Joe didn't just have new friends, his life got better in general. Now, he keeps in touch with Delores. After all these years. They buried the hatchet. They exchange emails once in a while -- he sends her kids presents on birthdays, Christmas, whatnot. I was glad to see it. Normally, after being separated for so long two people don't keep in touch at all, but Delores and Joe had something special, I suppose. They're still friends. I guess friendship don't go away even after you call the marriage off.

Joe never did date before the incident, like I said -- but, now he sees this one gal. She's a hostess over at one of them fancy casinos in Vegas. Mighty fair looking woman, too. Joe done good -- again. And, he got his tooth fixed, too. Yeah! After it got knocked out forty some years ago in that fight with that fella in back in high school -- Joe finally replaces it with one of them dental implants. Looks real good, too. (I bet his lady friend appreciates it -- not that I ever asked, mind you).

These days, Joe spends most of his time out in the desert looking to get more video of strange things -- looks for funny footprints, dead animals that ain't quite right, strange formations of rocks and pebbles -- that sorta thing. Of course, objects in the sky remains his primary passion -- UFOs. What's that? Oh, he finds stuff. Yessir! Lots of it. It never ceases to amaze me just how many weird occurrences there are in the desert almost every day -- at least round here. Sure, he does -- Joe gets all sorts of videos. I seen footage he got of weird flying formations -- there's one of a blurry blob just criss-crossing the sky so fast you'd hardly believe it. He's got a lot of UFO footage. You can see it if you like.

But, the videos I like best are the ones of stuff on the ground. Three-toed footprints (ain't no animal out these parts with three toes!), funny imprints that look like landing gear -- usually in sets of three, each about fifty feet apart. Why he's even got a coupla shots of what looks like them little men -- way off -- peeking out from behind boulders, looking at him. Those are fun to watch. I'll watch 'em over and over to see whether there's anything I mighta missed the last time I watched 'em.

Some say the footage is fake, but you'd have to get kids to wear outfits and run around for the camera in order to do that -- just can't see a parent subjecting their kid to that. Besides, them little men -- they don't look like kids no how -- too skinny. I guess you could make a kid look like he had a big head like them little men have, and maybe put some fake eyes on them, like that, but I don't see how you can make a kid look that skinny. Ain't never seen no kid that skinny.  Those little men are as skinny as cats.

Welp. That there is just about it -- the story of 'The Incident'. Mmm...that was good. Three beers. Guess that makes this here a 'three-beer story'. Yessir! Guess I'll be heading home in a bit. Anyway...I reckon ole Joe's got it better since the incident. And, I'm glad for him, but, myself, I reckon maybe it was providence that caused Joe to get that assignment that day. Yessir! That's what I believe. Like, the things that happened were supposed to take place. Like he was supposed to be out there in the desert next to Area 51 that day. I can't get it to add up no other way. No matter how many times I think about it. Makes you wonder. I mean, not only Joe getting that assignment on that stretch of road on that particular day, but him just happening to have a camera -- the only day he ever brought a camera to work with him! Oh, hell -- it had been years since the last time Joe and Delores even so much as talked on the phone, then, she up and sends him a video camera for his birthday, just a coupla days before Joe witnesses the strangest thing he ever saw. No, sir! Just don't add up.

Then, there's the change in Joe's personality to consider. You see, like I said, Joe had decided not to carry all that anger and spite no more, but that ain't the half of it. Now, Joe's concerned for folks. He cares, gives of himself, tries to help out. And...and this is the thing -- he wants to make the world a better place. Can you beat that? He's said that right to my face. Used to be Joe'd just as soon spit if you looked at him wrong, and now he wants to make the world a better place!? If ever there was a higher power at work... Yessir! Joe went from being outright ornery to a philanthropist in just one weekend. Makes you wonder...sure does. Ain't for me to judge, though, I expect. Not any of it.

Anyway, Joe may not believe in no higher power -- or, at least he don't come out and say it -- but he does believe in a higher calling. At least something better than painting them lines down state highways. After he quit his job, Joe cashed in his retirement accounts and set about to answering that calling. He got himself a snazzy computer, and another video camera -- a professional model -- and started himself a website. Yessir! I could not hardly believe it. Ole regular Joe starting a internet website. He gets lots of hits, too. And that's not all -- he even has advertising on his site. People -- businesses -- they pay him good money to show their ads!

Some of them ads are those flashy banner type -- ever seen 'em. Sure -- you have. Everyone's seen 'em. Bother some people. Not me... I don't see Joe too much no more. He's always off doing what he calls 'field work'. Can stay away for weeks. Right now he's down in South America -- Chile -- in the mountains they got down there. Local folks tell of some kind of half-man, half-furry monster lives up in them mountains. So, Joe's aiming to be the first to get video of it. Then, he'll post it on his site and tell the world. I suppose that would make the world a better place somehow -- if we was aware of all the creatures that's half man, half whatever.

Well, don't get me wrong! Joe's work is surely important, and I don't mean to poke fun at it. He does quite a bit more to enhance people's lives than I do, that's for sure. He gives to charities, too. Gives more money than I ever could. No, sir, Joe's efforts accomplish quite a bit. I'd venture he's making the world a better place. Certainly is. Just like he set out to.

Here, lemme write down the address on this napkin. There. That's Joe's website -- that's where you can see his video. And them other ones, too. If you care to. He's also got photos, and personal accounts -- interviews -- from people that say they had experiences similar to Joe's. People from all over the world -- seems like lots of folks have had weird things happen in their lives.

Well, that's the story of 'The Incident'. I thank you for the beers. It's getting late -- gonna get real cold soon. Most folks don't know it but it gets mighty cold this time of year at night round here. No, thank you anyway -- I'm walking, don't need a ride. Just live a quarter mile up the trail. That's right -- it's just a trail -- no sidewalk, nor lights. Nothing. It's safe, though, I suppose. I can still see pretty good at night. Nope. You don't have to worry about no snakes. Nor scorpions, and such. Too cold. They's all burrowed under rocks to keep warm. Gila monster? Naw! They're the first to dig in once the sun gets low. Besides, they're cold-blooded, like snakes. Gila monster's slow as sin during the heat of the day -- at night, when it's cold, why, you could step right on one of them lizards and by the time he turned to bite you you'd be home in bed.

No, there ain't nothing to be afraid of on a cold night out here. Well, maybe other people, sad as it is to say. I suppose I wouldn't want to run into no serial killer. That's just a joke. There ain't no folks out this far to be concerned about. Lemme just get my coat on and I'll be saying good night. I hope you enjoyed it -- the story, that is. I thank you again for buying me them beers. Hopefully, I'll run into you again sometime. Maybe I'll get the next round.

Well, I'll be going. No, sir. Ain't nothing out there to be concerned about out in the desert. Not anything from this planet, I mean. Welp, goodnight to you. Naw...there ain't nothing to be concerned about -- not from this planet, anyways.

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