Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stanley Cup Predictions

Imagine applying to your dream job for years and years and they FINALLY accept you for an internship…..but it's unpaid and your boss is a tyrant.  Or you've wanted to visit New York City for your entire life but when you FINALLY get there, it's pouring rain for your entire visit.  That's essentially what Maple Leafs fans are experiencing right now.  The team is FINALLY back in the playoffs after nine long, bitter years….but they've got to face the Bruins, who will destroy them.

It's tough.  Needless to say, I'm happy the Leafs got into the postseason just to get the monkey off their backs and end this idiotic streak that has lasted since 2004.*  Hell, I'm just happy to legitimately care about a Stanley Cup playoffs since 2004.  However, the fact that the Leafs are facing the team that has completely owned them for the last several seasons is more than a bit deflating.  Literally any other opponent would've been preferable.  Even the Penguins, since while they also would've easily dispatched the Leafs, I at least could've talked myself into believing that maybe, just maybe, if Reimer played out of his mind and Crosby was still injured, the Maple Leafs might've had a shot.

* = "it's been so long since the Leafs made the playoffs that…" is already a pretty tired meme but man, it really is kind of mind-boggling.  May 2004 was a long time ago.  I had just graduated from university.  LOST wasn't on the air yet.  Barely anyone knew who Barack Obama was.  This blog didn't exist.  My prime method of witty online dialogue was clever MSN Messenger user names.

But against Boston, there is no hope.  The Bruins are, roughly, 64-3 against Toronto over the last few seasons and while I'm making a comic exaggeration, it's not that far off.  The fact that they played so often as divisional opponents made things worse.  Every time the Leafs seemed to get a bit of momentum in past years, a game with the Bruins would always be right around the corner and boom, 5-1 loss. 

I am not so foolhardy as to believe that this could magically change in a postseason.  I'll take the Leafs' playoff appearance as a bright spot and a sign of hopeful good things to come, but this series will not be competitive.  Bruins in five.

* Canadiens over Senators, seven games
God, like couldn't the Leafs have faced either of these two stiffs?  The level of disinterest in the Ottawa Senators never fails to amuse me.  For weeks, the media has been teasing the idea of a Leafs/Canadiens playoff series that would've literally shut Canada down for a day had it gone to a seventh game.  A series between the Habs and Sens, however?  Nobody cares.  If the Stanley Cup playoffs are an episode of Models Inc., the Senators are GET THAT CAT OUT OF THE WAY.  This series will go the limit simply to irritate me.

* Rangers over Capitals, seven games
Seems like the "Washington is RED HOT and peaking at the right time!" crowd is forgetting that the Caps proceed to peak early every year and then come up short in the playoffs.  Capitals fans, you've already experienced the best part of your season and you didn't even realize it.  This is solely a pick based on one team, since there really isn't any reason to pick the Rangers given their pretty blah season, but what the hell.  Maybe that hypothetical poor soul who's always wanted to visit New York City can take in a hockey game while they're trying to get out of the rain.

* Penguins over Islanders, six games
Man, I really wish the Blue Jackets had made the playoffs so the possibility of a Jackets/Isles final was still on the table.  That would've been the single funniest thing to ever happen in pro sports.  I might've rather seen that shrug of a matchup rather than a Leafs appearance in the Cup finals, based on sheer comedy alone.  Anyway, I'll give the Islanders six games due to a) concerns about Crosby and b) some residual Isles/Pens magic from 1993 but yeah, Pittsburgh is going to dominate this.

* Blackhawks over Wild, five games
Congratulations Minnesota Wild!  After spending $196 million on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, you bought yourselves….squeaking into the eighth seed and earning the right to get hogtied by Chicago.  Well done, Wild!  Money well spent!

* Kings over Blues, seven games
The Kings were my preseason pick to win the Cup (albeit half-assedly) so the least I can do is pick them into the second round.

* Ducks over Red Wings, five games
I'll see your "the last time the Leafs were in the playoffs…" jokes and raise you a bunch of "the last time the Red Wings weren't in the playoffs…." references.  The last spring that didn't feature a Wings playoff appearance was 1990.  Ye gods.  I was eight years old, obsessed with the Dick Tracy movie and didn't even know what the Detroit Red Wings were.  Anyway, Detroit kept their playoff streak alive but yeah, they're not going anywhere.  I'll pick Anaheim to win the entire Stanley Cup tournament if they start airing this Chris Traeger clip from Parks & Rec on the scoreboard every time a player scores a goal.  Quack quack quack.

* Sharks over Canucks, seven games
If you ever needed (more) evidence that I'm an idiot, consider this.  I'm predicting the Sharks AGAIN despite ALWAYS picking them to get at least to the conference finals and EVERY YEAR watching them choke it up.  I am a FOOL who can't stop picking the Sharks or WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS to express strong EMOTION.  Anyway, I predict San Jose wins after Vancouver uses a gordian knot solution to the Luongo/Schneider controversy and playing both goalies at the same time.  Like, they'll just play with three forwards, one defenceman and then two goalies just skating around the net, hovering like vultures and arguing over who gets to drink from the water bottle first.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Olivia Wilde = The New Eric Bana

Congratulations Olivia Wilde!  You are the new recipient of the Eric Bana Award!  In fact, we'll do it one better and re-name it the Olivia Wilde Award in your honour!  Huzzah!

Some background…

Readers, get ready to be shocked --- I was nerdy back in high school.  (Yes, that's right, ME, winner of the Internet's Coolest Blogger trophy in 2007, 2008 and 2011.)  While the other kids were out partying their weekends away, I spent my Saturday nights at home watching Saturday Night Live, classic movies on TVO and all sorts of weird programming on "The Drambuie Showcase Review."  This was an evening of programming on Showcase that consisted of a rotation of random old comedies and usually a somewhat artsier movie.  The first time I saw Pulp Fiction, for instance, was at the back end of a night of Drambuie Showcase programming.

Yet for a young comedy fan like me, the sitcoms were the draw.  The three that I recall showed up the most often were CODCO (the Canadian sketch show that was the forerunner to 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes'), Red Dwarf (the BBC sci-fi spoof), Blackadder (if I have to tell you what Blackadder was, god have mercy on your soul) and a show called Full Frontal.  Now, don't jump to conclusions when I say that I watched a late-night Showcase program called "Full Frontal" --- it was actually a sketch comedy show from Australia.  It was pretty clever for its time and two of the performers really stood out to me.  One was Shaun Micallef, kind of a Steve Coogan type who has starred on Australian TV for the last 20 years in various projects and who once had a monologue on Full Frontal so funny that I literally tried to transcribe it once during a rerun.  Ah, the days before the internet.

The other standout performer was, as you might've guessed, Eric Bana.  Now, admittedly, I was kind of impressed but in a backhanded way.  I was under the impression that these shows were all curiosities, late night filler, and while I enjoyed some of the performers and whatnot, I assumed this was more or less their career peaks (Rowan Atkinson aside, I suppose).  Using CODCO as the example, while most of that crew went onto 22 Minutes, being the big wheels in the cracker factory that is Canadian television didn't quite count as "famous" in my book.

So it was with some surprise that years later, when I was watching Black Hawk Down*, who should I see pop up as the badass Delta Force solider but Bana himself.  I was stunned that this guy from what I presumed was an obscure Aussie comedy had booked a major role in a major Hollywood production.  Bana also broke out with Chopper, a very dark comedy about a lunatic criminal that is still quoted to this very day by my group of friends.**  Clearly, 2001 was Banatime.
* = BHD is a very underrated "hey, is that…?" film given how many of the then-unknown actors went on to bigger roles.  Tom Hardy is in this movie!  The dad from Modern Family is in this movie!  Nikolaj "Jamie Lannister" Coster-Waldau is in this movie!  

** = "ol' Keithy George has done himself a mischief" whenever one of us does something dumb, and, "virtual carte blanche" from a scene when a cop incredulously asks Chopper if he's "telling people the police have given you virtual carte blanche to commit crimes?!"

Unfortunately, Banatime was short-lived.  Here were his next few starring roles…

-- Hulk.  Now, I've written about Hulk before and while I respect that Ang Lee was trying something different with "a comic book movie," this movie was terrible.  Specifically, the first third was weak, it had a really interesting middle third and the last 20-30 minutes was some of the worst filmmaking I've ever seen.  Just an utter travesty of an ending.  Not the best way for Bana to break his first big North American starring role.

-- Troy.  The epitome of the generic summer action movie.  I forgot everything about this movie five minutes after I left the theatre.

-- Munich.  Given the talent involved, still can't figure out how this one went so far off the rails.  First 30-40 minutes, it's a terrific thriller.  The rest?  Just lousy.  The scene where Bana is literally orgasming while having flashbacks to the hostage massacre gets my vote as the worst movie scene since…well, since the ending of Hulk.

-- Lucky You.  Completely generic rom-com with Drew Barrymore.  Fun fact: I went to see this film with a platonic female friend of mine, though it was one of friendships where I would definitely have been open to the idea of kicking it up a notch had she had any interest in me whatsoever.  Anyway, whatever miniscule "so you're saying there's a chance!" shot I might've had with her was reduced to less than zero by this movie since it was *my* choice if you can believe it.  I was all, "hey, you like Drew Barrymore, I like Eric Bana and poker, it should be fun!"  Boy, that was off base.  Ol' Marky George really did himself a mischief with this pick.  If I can't even give a good movie recommendation to a woman, what else do I have to offer?

-- The Other Boleyn Girl.  In fairness, I never saw this one, but the reviews were lukewarm at best.

So all in all, this was a pretty rough go for ol' Chopper.  It was distressing since I had gotten on the Bana bandwagon, heretofore known as the Bana-dwagon.  I had a rooting interest in the guy who I'd seen goofing it up in sketches years ago and was now trying to make it in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, he just kept making career choices that looked good on paper but went awry in practice.

It was then that I developed the idea of the Eric Bana Award, named in honour of an actor who I liked and thought was talented despite the fact that they were in consistently poor movies.  It was a long and proud run for Bana but he finally broke the schnide in 2009 by appearing as the villain in Star Trek and as the titular time traveler in The Time Traveler's Wife, which I liked even if it was generally meh'd by the moviegoing public.  Bana even did a victory lap by starring in Hanna, which was awesome.

(Now, you might notice that my whole idea was flawed since obviously, Bana WAS in a good movie to start with in Black Hawk Down, plus Chopper was entertaining AND Bana also voiced a character in Finding Nemo.  So that's three quality films right off the bat.  So really, I have no point, but stay with me on this.)

So with Bana having achieved success, I'm forced to pick a "new Bana" and the choice is clearly Olivia Wilde.  Really, who isn't an Olivia Wilde fan?  She's easy on the eyes, seems like a fun person in interviews and while I don't think she's a great actress, I think she's a good actress.  My parents were big House fans* and always thought she was really good on that show, so she has that going for her.  It could be that she might pull a Bradley Cooper and exceed our expectations of her abilities if she ever finds a role or a film that isn't a pile of crap.

* = though my dad was pretty confused to learn that Wilde is often at or near the top of the 'most beautiful woman in the world' lists in the lad mags.  He's never seen Arrested Development but he gave a Michael Bluth-caliber "her?" at the news.  My dad isn't shy about noticing a woman's beauty but I guess Olivia Wilde isn't his cup of tea.  Unless he was implying that he felt my mom should've been at the top of the rankings…awwww….. #41YearsOfMarriage

….and MAN has she ever been in some crap.  Holy moly, her IMDB page is a hit list of mediocrity.  Year One!  Cowboys & Aliens!  The Change-Up!  In Time!  Turistas!  Alpha Dog!  TRON!  Deadfall!  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which I saw last week and inspired this post.  There isn't an Olivia Wilde movie that I'd want to see again.

It's Deadfall that stands out on the list.  It's a pretty rote thriller about criminals on the run and their adventures in a rural community, but it's notable due to the cast.  The two criminals are played by….Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde!  It was fate.  It was like a symbolic passing of the torch.  Wilde now carries the banner proudly (well, not proudly) until she can finally get a good role in a good film.  Godspeed, Olivia.  Godspeed.  Clearly what she needs to do is play the villain in Star Trek III; who's up for Wilde as the JJ Abrams Trekverse's version of the Borg Queen, eh?  Eh?

Addendum: I should note that Rose Byrne had a crack at this title as well.  She caught my attention in 2004 with her obsessed-yet-weirdly-sympathetic role in Wicker Park and then didn't appear in an honest-to-god legitimately really good movie until Bridesmaids seven years later.  That said, Byrne did appear in Sunshine (which kind of went off the rails as well but is overall an interesting and ambitious sci-fi flick) and Get Him To The Greek, which was a trifle but had its moments.  So I can't really say she was in a *total* stretch of crap.  As coincidence would have it, Byrne and Bana a) are both Aussies, and b) were both in Troy, though I don't recall her at all since, as I mentioned, I remember virtually nothing about that film.

•_•)  I guess you could say that when it comes to recalling movies, Troy is my…
( •_•)>⌐■-■
…Achilles heel.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pablo Honey

Pablo Honey was released in 1993 and it's hard to have a 20-year remembrance of an album that everyone seems to have agreed to have forgotten.  Radiohead never play its songs in concert aside from the very rare performance of 'Creep.'  Critics ignore it, just starting at The Bends when beginning their discussions-cum-hagiographies of Radiohead as the most important band of their generation.  Fans of the band essentially remove it from the band's discography; even I, who owns a physical copy of every other Radiohead album, don't have a Pablo Honey disc, having to borrow the record from my brother for the purposes of this re-listen.

It was the first time I'd listened to Pablo Honey in a good half-decade and, in my life, I could count my listens of the record on one hand.  It's odd how narrative can sometimes take over a piece of art --- knowing the whole Dan Harmon saga can affect one's enjoyment of new Community episodes, Mel Gibson's old comedies have been ruined by his modern-day idiocy and one can't watch the original "Blade Runner" without missing the effects of Ridley Scott's various director's cuts and spending half the movie wondering who's a replicant.  As such, as a young Radiohead fan, I perhaps simply ignored Pablo Honey since that was that you were supposed to do as a Radiohead fan.  It didn't matter.  When I went to see Radiohead live in 1997, just four years after the disc's release, "Creep" was the only Pablo Honey track on the setlist.  PH was an easily-omitted, and almost necessarily-omitted, oddity from the band's catalogue.

It's too bad since the album is, taken solely as an album, pretty good.  Radiohead haven't locked it away in the attic out of sheer embarrassment, they just no longer have any connection to the music that bears little-to-no resemblance to the music they've been making for the rest their careers.  Pablo Honey doesn't count like Radiohead --- it sounds like, at various times, the Cure, the Clash, David Bowie, U2, the Jam, the Smiths, Manic Street Preachers and probably a bunch of other British alt-rock acts that I don't even know exist.  There's nothing unique about the songs other than the fact that they're all (as I noted) pretty good.

They're unique in the Radiohead canon, though, since they're all just Songs.  No odd sonic experiments or tuneless electronica here, they're all songs that have actual verses, choruses, middle eights and once in a while they even mention the song's title in the lyrics.  The Bends is largely the same way, though if you heard The Bends and King Of Limbs back-to-back, you could guess it was the same band.  Pablo Honey contains no such hints aside from Thom Yorke's voice.*  If you didn't know better, you would swear that Pablo Honey was made by a forgotten British alt-rock band who was fronted by Dhom Yorke, Thom's long-lost brother.

* = though Pablo Honey and The Bends sound similar to each other.

Would I have been a Radiohead if they had continued making albums in the vein of Pablo Honey?  Probably not.  While Radiohead can certainly go overboard with their experimentation in their modern recordings, their sweet spot is when they create a beautiful melody amidst innovative production.  That's when they're great, and Pablo Honey doesn't have anything that reaches beyond being good.  Even 'Creep,' which is still a legitimately terrific song even though you've heard it a million times and it may sound better when performed by a choir, doesn't stand up against greater songs Radiohead produced later in their careers.  If I ever do a "top 100 or whatever Radiohead songs" post like I've done for U2, Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles, I doubt "Creep" cracks the top 30.

Usually when a band or musician has a first album that sounds nothing like the rest of their discography, it's not for a positive reason.  It could be a band whose first album is awesome and then they spent the rest of their careers just making copies of that first record trying to recapture the magic.  Or, if could be an artist who has a complete change of musical direction and whose first recordings are, for all intents and purposes, made by different people; think of the albums made by Alanis Morissette before Jagged Little Pill, for instance.  Radiohead, unique as ever, did their "departure" on their very first record.  They produced it, it was good and then they said that's that and put it on a shelf for virtually all time, just like a bee doesn't think about the honey it produces.  A bee named PABLO…oh my god, I cracked the code.   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Al Pacino, Yelling

Well, yeah, it's a supercut of Al Pacino yelling.  #TruthInAdvertising  Though in some scenes he isn't outright yelling.  Three thoughts....

1. It is a shame that Al Pacino was never able to star in a Ric Flair biopic

2. I love that, as a nine-year-old, I knew Pacino only as "that guy in Dick Tracy"

3. The story of Pacino's legendary "she's got a GREAT ass..." scene in Heat is even funnier than the scene itself.  As Hank Azaria tells it, Pacino delivered the lines normally on the first 15 or so takes and then on the 16th take, out of nowhere, Pacino suddenly goes totally over-the-top.  Azaria's stunned reaction in the movie was apparently his actual reaction at seeing Pacino go nuts before his eyes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

History Of The Markademy Awards

This post is intended as 10% historical record and 90% reference material for me, since it's a pain to keep going back to old "Markademy Awards" posts to look things up one-by-one.  With this list, however, I (and you!) can check out my personal selections of the year's best films in one fell swoop.  While I've only been doing pre-Oscar movie posts since 2006, the previous years were filled in via my "Best Movies Of Our Lives" series with my pal Kyle that takes us back to 1981.  The list of the other nominees are in order of preference, so for instance Les Mis was my second favourite movie from 2012, Moonrise Kingdom my third, etc.

I've made a couple of minor adjustments to my rankings and changed a couple of winners overall, though for the most part, it's all the same as my original picks (and no new films were added that I've seen these the original posts were written years ago).  Some of the years had five "nominees" and others more, since I often shift between picking a set five and just listing every movie that I thought passed the post as 'great' as a nominee in my little personal contest. 

Just as the actual Best Picture stands as a living record of "what were they thinking?!" decisions, I've decided to leave the Markademy Award as a snapshot of my mood at the time.  2001, 2000 and 1990 immediately leap to mind as years when I would 100 percent make my number two choice the winner instead, but hey, I need to stick to some harsh rules in my completely arbitrary posting system. 


2012: Life Of Pi
Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom, Cloud Atlas, Django Unchained

2011: Midnight In Paris
Hugo, Bridesmaids, The Artist, A Separation, Young Adult

2010: Exit Through The Gift Shop
The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Inception, Winter's Bone, The Other Guys, Another Year

2009: Inglourious Basterds
A Single Man, In The Loop, A Serious Man, I Love You Man, The Hurt Locker, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

2008: The Dark Knight
The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, Happy-Go-Lucky, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Stepbrothers

2007: Once
No Country For Old Men, Walk Hard, 3:10 To Yuma, Sweeney Todd, The Bourne Ultimatum, Hot Fuzz

2006: The Prestige
Pan's Labyrinth, Children Of Men, The Departed, A Prairie Home Companion

2005: Batman Begins
Good Night And Good Luck, Match Point, Sin City, The 40-Year-Old Virgin

2004: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
The Incredibles, Spider-Man II, Closer, Kill Bill (Part Two)

2003: Love Actually
21 Grams, Kill Bill (Part One), Bad Santa, Old School

2002: Talk To Her
Minority Report, Adaptation., Catch Me If You Can, The Bourne Identity,

2001: Amelie
Memento, Moulin Rouge, Ocean's Eleven, Zoolander

2000: High Fidelity
Unbreakable, Best In Show, Cast Away, Waydowntown

1999: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Galaxy Quest, Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, Three Kings, American Beauty, The Insider, Election, Sleepy Hollow, Office Space

1998: The Big Lebowski
Shakespeare In Love, A Simple Plan, Zero Effect, There's Something About Mary, Run Lola Run, Pleasantville

1997: Jackie Brown
L.A. Confidential, Titanic, Wag The Dog, Chasing Amy

1996: Fargo
Hamlet, Lone Star, The Rock, Kingpin

1995: Dead Man Walking
Apollo 13, Toy Story, Heat, The American President

1994: Pulp Fiction
Trois Couleurs: Red, The Shawshank Redemption, Speed, Dumb and Dumber, Trois Couleurs: White

1993: Short Cuts
Dazed & Confused, Groundhog Day, The Sandlot, Trois Couleurs: Blue, The Fugitive

1992: Unforgiven
A League Of Their Own, A Few Good Men, Noises Off, Wayne's World

1991: The Silence Of The Lambs
The Fisher King, Terminator 2, Beauty and the Beast, Defending Your Life

1990: Edward Scissorhands
Goodfellas, The Grifters, Back To The Future III, Miller's Crossing

1989: Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Do The Right Thing, Field Of Dreams, Jesus of Montreal, When Harry Met Sally, Batman, Back To The Future II, Road House

1988: A Fish Called Wanda
The Thin Blue Line, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Die Hard, The Naked Gun, The Last Temptation Of Christ, The Accidental Tourist, Rattle & Hum, Rain Man

1987: The Princess Bride
Planes Trains & Automobiles, Predator, Roxanne, The Last Emperor

1986: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Platoon, Highlander, Big Trouble In Little China, The Fly

1985: Back To The Future
Fletch, Witness, Anne Of Green Gables, Clue

1984: Ghostbusters
This Is Spinal Tap, Stop Making Sense, The Muppets Take Manhattan, All Of Me

1983: The Dresser
A Christmas Story, Trading Places, Monty Python's Meaning Of Life, Never Say Never Again

1982: Tootsie
E.T., Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Rocky III

1981: Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Chariots Of Fire, Ragtime, Gallipoli, Blow Out

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Harrison Ford Vs. Star Wars

Harrison Ford has been subtly trolling us all on talk show appearances for years.  He plays the deadpan, completely disinterested grump so well because a) he probably is largely disinterested, b) he probably is kind of a grump and c) he sometimes seems like he's just smoked a joint immediately before coming on stage.  This seems to change from show to show --- he's grumpy whenever he's on Letterman, but kinda goofy and stoned whenever he's on Conan.  And I guess when he's on Kimmel, he's just hilarious.  #Versatile

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Random Nonsense

For a guy who only gets around 5% of the cookie actually in his mouth, Cookie Monster LOVES cookies.


I've been pretty blasé about the upcoming "Man of Steel" because...

a) I'm not crazy about Zack Snyder as a director
b) in the wake of Superman Returns, I've learned to not get my hopes up about any new Superman film project

So essentially, despite all the promising buzz about the movie and the impressive cast (Amy Adams as Lois and Michael Shannon as Zod are both very promising), I wasn't really expecting anything too interesting.  And then I saw the trailer and became nine years old again.


Recently watched Mean Girls for the first time since its original release, and just to make you feel old, it came out nine years ago.  Gadzooks.  Anyway, since a lot of time has passed, it only felt appropriate to see how the cast has fared since 2004 in the POST-MEAN GIRLS CAREER POWER RANKINGS

13. Daniel Franzese.  Aside from one memorable episode of Party Down, it's virtually nada.

12. Jonathan Bennett.  Exactly zero memorable roles aside from taking over from Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder.  Yes, I'm being very liberal with the use of the word 'memorable.'  Then again, being a generic good-looking guy eventually panned out for Bradley Cooper so there's hope for Bennett yet.

11. Lacey Chabert.  This entry can also be titled "Why Lacey Chabert's agent needs to be fired."  Nine years on and she's behind Lohan, for god's sake.  Technically she's stayed busy by doing voice work on a number of cartoons but come on, Fired Agent, it is really the best use of resources to book someone who looks like Lacey Chabert for nonstop voice work?  If you'd written a Mean Girls power rankings in 2004, Chabert would've easily ranked in the top five based on "holy crap, THAT's what Lacey Chabert looks like?" reactions alone.   

10. Lindsay Lohan.  If Chabert would've ranked in the top five in the 2004 power rankings, Lohan would've been so far and away #1 that writing such rankings would've been pointless.  Of course, some might argue they're pointless now but….uh….  While Lohan's ongoing travesty of a career and life is a disappointment considering the promise she showed in 2004, she is going to win me $200,000 in 2017, so I can't be too displeased at this turn of events.  Get the chequebook ready, Sarah.

9. Diego Klattenhoff.  Yep, that's right, Mike from Homeland had a small role in Mean Girls.  Really, it's another strike against Lohan and Chabert than a guy who has probably the least-important role on a terrific but possibly-going-downhill drama, looks and acts like a second-rate John Cena and is named "Diego Klattenhoff" still has had a better post-Mean Girls career than either of them.

T7. Tim Meadows
T7. Ana Gasteyer
It's hard to separate these two since both have gone down the "guest spots and supporting roles on sitcoms" road that so many former Saturday Night Live cast members eventually travel.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing depending on the project though for these two, it's a bit of a shame given how good both of them were on SNL (Gasteyer might be the most underrated cast member ever) and how funny they both are in general.  Also, watching the film again, I'd forgotten how hilarious Meadows was as the incompetent principal.  Fun fact: IMDB still lists "Mean Girls" as the most notable role for both Meadows and Gasteyer when you list their names in the search engine.

6. Neil Flynn.  I feel there's an alternate reality where Flynn is a bigger deal than he is, yet still, major roles on two long-running sitcoms (Scrubs and The Middle) earn him a pretty strong placement on the list.  Earns extra respect for improvising basically all of his Scrubs dialogue as the crazy janitor.

5. Lizzy Caplan.  Not only does everyone love Lizzy Caplan, everyone also thinks she should be a bigger star than she is, whereas I don't think society at large gives a flying damn about Diego Klattenhoff's career prospects.  Will be higher in a few years once the Party Down movie is released and everyone in the cast wins Oscars.  I realize there are more actors on Party Down than there are acting categories at the Academy Awards but there will be several ties.

4. Amanda Seyfried.  Firstly, she was Lilly Kane.  Secondly, Seyfried has risen to prominence simply by doing the exact opposite of everything Lohan did and it's all worked out quite well.  Not to say that all her decisions were great (In Time?  Red Riding Hood?) but still, if you'd bought stock in Seyfried in 2004, you'd be sitting pretty right now aside from the moral cost of buying and selling shares of fellow human beings.  You monster.

3. Amy Poehler.  Here's where the arguments start.  Poehler is about a well-liked a human being as there is and is the star of probably the funniest show on television.  Unfortunately for Parks & Recreation fans, "funniest" doesn't translate to "watched by Nielsen viewers," even though it's almost a lock for another season since NBC has literally nothing else to replace it with.  It's a very close call between Poehler and...

2. Rachel McAdams.  But I'm going with McAdams and not only because she's from my hometown (though that is admittedly a factor).  It's a tough decision since I'm making a "movie star > most TV stars" judgement call.  While McAdams has been in her share of stinkers, she is still a legit movie star whose involvement in a movie is universally seen as a good thing.  Like, if I told you about a new movie and mentioned Rachel McAdams was in it, your reaction would almost surely be "oh, I like her."  With Poehler, I'd guess the reaction would be 80% positive and 20% who?  In a pure power-ranking system McAdams still has a very slight lead though with one more solid award show hosting gig, Poehler would pull ahead.  Then again, if McAdams actually goes through with dating the Raptor, all bets are off.

1. Tina Fey.  When you create and star in one of the funniest sitcoms of all time, become a role model to women (and hell, to men --- I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up) and kinda, sorta have influence on a presidential election, you win the power rankings.


NBA playoff predictions!

….the Heat.  They're going to win everything.  I shan't waste my time filling out a bracket when resistance is futile against Locutus of James.  I'd set the over/under on number of games is takes for the Heat to win the NBA title: 22.5.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Woody Allen, Stammering

Or, "STOP!  Stammer Time!"

I am in awe of the time-wasting that went into this.  Like, most of these blog posts are the product of my getting a dumb thought in my head and (in some cases) spending an entire afternoon writing and researching stuff.  But at the most, it's an afternoon.  In this case, someone actually spent DAYS watching every Woody Allen film to capture every single moment of his stammering.  You have to respect that.  This might go on the Mount Rushmore of time-wasting.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Other People's Writing

In case you don't know how this feature works, I link to a bunch of writing from other people.  Do you need me to explain it again?  I can go a bit slower, if that helps.

* Ten friends have been engaged in an elaborate game of 'Tag' for the last 23 years, as Russell Adams of the Wall Street Journal explains.  This story is awesome in every way.  Bonus points to the number of people who told me, "Ha ha, this sounds exactly like the kind of stupid thing you and your friends would do, Mark," which I'm not sure is a compliment or an insult.

* Since you probably haven't thought of Beck in ages, Grantland's Alex Pappademas profiles Beck's career and kinda questions whether or not he's still relevant.  I think Beck probably jumped the shark when he released his "play-it-yourself" album.

* Here's a not-at-all creepy piece from io9's George Dvorsky about how humanity will likely eventually develop the capability to create its own hive mind.  Resistance is futile.

* Wired's Joel Warner examines scientific studies of humour to determine what exactly comedy is and how it works.  Geez, they could've saved a lot of time and effort just by talking to me.  The idea of examining comedy through a scientific lens makes me worry that one day some egghead will accidentally develop the funniest joke in the world and kill us all.

* Speaking of analyzing humour, Warner and Peter McGraw (for Grantland) consult some experts to determine who is the funniest NBA player.  It's hard to argue with their choice of Blake Griffin, but the funniest fictional NBA player is undoubtedly the Onion's version of Tim Duncan.

* Grantland's Wesley Morris profiles the career and influence of Pam Grier.  Booyah!  I recently saw Jackie Brown again and man, that movie still holds up superbly well.  I guess it's technically not overrated since everyone thinks it's a good movie but it's a GREAT movie. 

* An oral history of Wet Hot American Summer by Details' Whitney Pastorek.  I actually stumbled upon this link last year but didn't read the story since (unforgivably) I hadn't actually seen WHAS.  Inexplicable, I know.  This long-time wrong was finally corrected last month, naturally I loved the movie and the rest is history.  Bradley Cooper's phoned-in solo quote within this piece is really funny out of context.

* So we've had some Tarantino, and we've had an oral history, now about about a Tarantino oral history?  Vanity Fair's Mark Seal has an oral history of Pulp Fiction, a.k.a. arguably my favourite movie of all time.

* What kind of people drive themselves to marathon, record-setting sessions of Q*Bert?  Grantland's Michael Weinreb checks it out.  I'm upset that not one of these guys sought to preserve their high score by having Slippery Pete move the machine out of the arcade.  If you're wondering if I'll use this article to again cite the time that my brother and I spent 45 minutes beating the Simpsons game in an arcade on the Jersey Shore boulevard when we were teenagers….nah, I'll hold off.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Roger Ebert

This is but one of a million tributes to Roger Ebert that are flying around the web today and yet, I'm proud to be one of the many.  It's a sign of just how influential Ebert was that half the internet is paying homage to a man who was one of the most influential people in cinema for the last 40 years.

It's no big stretch to say that my love of movies was greatly expanded by watching Siskel & Ebert's weekly review show.  I remember watching their program when I was as young as eleven years old, learning about all kinds of obscure movies I'd never have known existed.  Siskel & Ebert often lamented the fact that their 'two thumbs up' gimmick and handing out star ratings in their reviews kind of obscured proper criticism behind a mere ranking game --- there are obviously different levels of four-star films, for instance.  Yet it was enjoyable how the two of them could be entertained by a "three-star" popcorn movie just as much as they could by a "four-star" cinematic masterpiece.

Ebert's written reviews were in the same vein.  If you read a Roger Ebert rave, man, did that ever fire you up to go see that movie.  Even if you didn't always agree with his assessment (remember, this is a guy who championed 'Crash' as the best movie of 2005), you could at least see his point and appreciate the logic behind his admiration of a picture.  Or, conversely, why he disliked a picture.  Or, why he hated a picture, and few things are funnier than Ebert shitting all over a movie he disliked.  He even published two full books of his pans, called "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" and "Your Movie Sucks."  What a boss.

Aside from actually watching the films themselves, no source taught me more about cinema than Roger Ebert.  I credit him with my becoming a film major in university and why I so often delve into film criticism here on this blog…so if you want someone to blame for my way-too-long Markademy Awards posts, I guess you can blame Ebert.

RIP to this iconic figure, the greatest film critic of this age and to one of my writing heroes.  Thumbs up on a great life.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Hot! Live! Music!

Rihanna and Mikky Ekko, "Stay"
Rihanna tore it up by performing this one at Studio 8H a few months ago and since SNL clips are inevitably taken down by the NBC YouTube police, I'll just use this (probably equally good) performance from the Grammys.  This one also has Mikky Ekko chiming in and yeah, he's extraneous.  Good singer and all, plus he actually co-wrote the song and everything, but yeah, Mr. Ekko's role here is just to get out of Rihanna's way.  Also, "Mikky Ekko"?  That's just too many K's to be taken seriously.

Bono and the Edge, "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"
In fact, Rihanna's "Stay" is so good that it officially becomes the second-best track ever to own that title.  Here's number one (sorry, Lisa Loeb fans).  Did I seriously rank this as only U2's 14th-best song?  That list might require a do-over.

Barenaked Ladies, "Break Your Heart"
So, I'm very late to the party on this, but apparently Steven Page left BNL in 2009 but the band has carried on as a unit without him.  It's very weird.  I really don't see how they can operate without Page, nor really can I see him succeeding him as a solo act, which may explain why I haven't heard about any of this in four years.  This officially slots BNL firmly into the "nostalgia Canadian act" portion of their careers, which (let's be honest) they've probably been living for roughly a decade.  It's weird to think that in the USA, these guys are just one-hit wonders via 'One Week,' while my generation has known Barenaked Ladies music since childhood.  Say what you will about BNL or Page's vocal stylings, but the climax of this song is legitimately pretty awesome.

Florence & The Machine, "Addicted To Love"
Yep, it's a Robert Palmer cover.  And yeah, technically it's not a live recording but who cares, Florence Welch is the best.  If you have a severe problem with my breaking the rules of my own blog feature, then you might as well face it, you're addicted to being anal-retentive.

Paul F. Tompkins, "Skyfall"
So comedian Paul F. Tompkins randomly starts covering Adele during a show and everyone laughs since it's such a goofy idea and PFT is wearing a candy cane suit.  Then the joke gets even better since Tompkins KILLS IT.  I love how you can almost feel the audience, as one, slowly become stunned by how good this gets.