Friday, March 12, 2010

Corey Haim and Other Has-Beens of the Modern Age

By Steve Evans

Former teen actor Corey Haim died earlier this week at 38 of an apparent prescription drug overdose. While few people may remember, much less care about, Haim’s fleeting acting career, his passing got me to thinking about other actors who stubbornly fail to acknowledge their time is up, their careers are over, kaput. Would someone gently tell these top 10 has-beens, please, to go away?

Keanu Reeves. This wooden Indian actor hasn’t had a hit in the 11 years since The Matrix introduced the movie-going world to “bullet time” and transgender directors. I pose the question, by way of Dorothy Parker: if Keanu Reeves died, how could they tell?

Owen Wilson. He allegedly tried in 2007 to off himself, reportedly over a failed relationship with Goldie Hawn’s daughter Kate Hudson. We would do well to wonder if he wasn’t actually despondent, instead, over his mediocre career, the very existence of which is inexplicable.

Jennifer Garner. She married Ben Affleck. Game over. For the both of you.

Jim Carrey. Wasn’t funny 20 years ago. Still isn’t. A face of rubber. The talent of a spent condom, which is a different type of rubber altogether. Ick.

Angelina Jolie. Wanna bet the insides of her lips are tattooed with the instructions, “inflate to 32 psi”? This “actor” copped an Oscar 11 years ago for Girl, Interrupted, the story of a sad little rich girl (Winona Ryder) who gets committed to an asylum for disturbed chicks, Jolie ranking near the top of thehen house pecking order. From all accounts, very little acting was actually involved.

Robert De Niro. C’mon, Bobby. Stop desecrating the legacy of your work in Raging Bull, in Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter and Godfather Part II with these insipid comedies and lame police procedurals that wouldn’t cut it on the Lifetime Network. Go back to Tribeca and run your film festival. There ya go. Run along, now.

Liza Minnelli. Judy Garland’s little girl just turned 64. Rumor has it, she’s slated to play aging silent film start (and hopeless psychotic) Norma Desmond in a completely unnecessary and unwelcome remake of Sunset Boulevard. Liza. Sweetheart. Go back to the Cabaret, ol’ chum.

Michael Douglas. Son of Kirk. Zeitgeist of finger-on-the-pulse megahits from days gone by, such as Fatal Attraction and Disclosure. Word is, director Oliver Stone has completed a sequel to Wall Street with Douglas reprising his Oscar winning role as Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko. Word is, the release date has been delayed. Hmm. Now, why would a man of 65, with two Oscars under his belt (the first was for producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 35 years ago), want to toot around making moves when Catherine Zeta Jones is waiting for him at home? More importantly, who wants to see him?

Warren Beatty. Once upon a time the most notorious playboy in Hollywood, Beatty hasn’t seen a soundstage since Town and Country bombed in 2002. Don’t cry. He’s got plenty of money and Annette Bening to keep him warm at night. Did anyone really notice his eight-year absence from the silver screen?

Tom Cruise. What’s he waiting for? The comeback tour? The farewell show? Who cares? Nobody even wants to see pictures of Katie and Suri anymore. How’s Tom supposed to flash those dazzling porcelain veneers on cue when everyone is sitting in another theater down the hall? Not to fret, Tom. Travolta is still kicking around a sequel to Battlefield Earth, with plenty of casting opportunities for fellow believers.

Cinema Uprising copyright (c) 2010 by Cinematic Cteve. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wanna watch the Oscars? Don't Wait for Mickey Mouse

By Steve Evans

Millions of Cablevision customers will not be able to watch the annual Academy Awards ceremony tonight due to a pissing contest between Cablevision and the Walt Disney company, which owns the ABC network that broadcasts the Oscars.

Cablevision says Disney wants $40 million more annually to provide service to the cable system, while revealing that the company already pays the House of Mouse $200 million per year for its programming. The pinstripe suits over at Disney argue that Cablevision puts the touch on customers for $18 each per month for basic cable but doesn't kick up a tribute to Disney.

That leaves Oscar fans (and a dwindling number of ABC programming fans) in the dark.

What to do? Well, you could boot-scoot over to Radio Shack double quick and snag an antenna and a digital TV converter box, dropping about $75 in the process. ABC is still on the free-to-air list of broadcasting stations if you have an antenna and the right gear to connect it with. Then hook up the hardware and position the aerial so you can enjoy awkward speeches, overwrought dance numbers, and Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin trading scripted jokes.

Or just get a good night's sleep and take my word for it: "Up in the Air" will win Best Picture and Oscar nom Mo'Nique will wake up Monday morning as fat and coarse as ever. Check her out in "Beerfest" for an exercise in jaw-dropping incredulousness, then shag over to a nearby multiplex when you're ready for real cinema and scope out Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," which truly has something to say.

James Cameron's computer-generated cartoon "Avatar" and his ex-wife's (Kathryn Bigelow's) war flick "The Hurt Locker" are vying for Best Picture. Forget it. "Avatar" will cop a little anatomically incorrect gold man for special effects. Bigelow might waltz offstage with a Best Director Oscar, although my money is on either Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air" or Quentin Tarantino for his audacious, ridiculous and hugely entertaining World War II revenge-fantasy, "Inglourious Basterds," for which Cristoph Waltz will most assuredly win Best Supporting Actor. If there was an award for silliest Italian accent, Brad Pitt would also take home a prize for his amusing work in "Basterds."

A rather lame year for American movies, as it turns out. Where's the fun in pictures anymore? Where's the substance? The gravitas? Well, dear, it's parked firmly in the past, mostly in black and white. Italian neo-realism. German Expressionism. "The Third Man" and films noir. Hitchcock. Kubrick. Jean Renoir. And other dead heroes of mine whose visions transcend culture, time and space to achieve immortality.

Yes, watching the Oscars in 2010 is nothing more than an excuse to wolf down spinach and artichoke dip and chug mediocre Chardonnay or metallic-tasting American beer in aluminum cans while celebrating cinematic mediocrity in all its money-generating forms. Just like the Super Bowl.

Me? Tonight I'll be watching reruns of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" -- a show that has more to say about America than Upton Sinclair and the Founding Fathers before him could ever fathom. When it comes down to freedom of expression, I'll take a couple of sharp dudes calling dumb people "motherfuckers" and "assholes" over anything else passing itself off as popular entertainment today.


Cinema Uprising copyright (c) 2010 by Cinematic Cteve. All rights reserved.