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Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm Smarter than Roger Ebert (Not Really)

One of the many things I love in this world is movies.  All kinds of movies: sci-fi, horror, drama, westerns, comedies, etc.  My tastes are pretty eclectic.  Don't believe me?  I own Clue on DVD.  Yes, the movie starring Tim Curry that was based on the board game.  It's funny, and I like it.  Anyway, one of the things I love to do while watching movies is to try and catch mistakes in the movie: a beer bottle changes places in the middle of a scene, a Storm Trooper bonks his head on a door frame, Dorothy's ever-changing hair length in The Wizard of Oz, etc.  These mistakes are called gaffes or continuity errors.  There is actually a large number of people who try to catch these oopsies for fun, and yes, we are all nerds.

In defense of filmmakers everywhere, let me explain that movies are not easy to make.  If you have ever actually sat through the closing credits of a movie, and I can almost guarantee that you haven't, you have noticed how many hundreds of names there are.  Imagine trying to coordinate all of those people without making a mistake.  In addition to the sheer size of the workforce, movie scenes are not shot in the order in which you see them.  That would be a logistical nightmare.  Part of a scene involving two actors may be shot using just one actor and a stand-in on one day, and the other actor and a stand-in on a completely different day.  Therefore, it is understandable when a movie shows an actor with two vest buttons closed in one shot and three in the next shot.  The movie I am getting ready to talk about, however, has one of the largest and most inexcusable gaffes in the history of ever: Citizen Kane.

For those who don't know, Citizen Kane is the story of the rise (and fall) of Charles Foster Kane, an extremely wealthy and power-hungry media baron.  (Imagine Bill Gates was into newspapers instead of computers.)  The movie starred and was written and directed by Orson Welles back in the days before he developed his own gravitational field and started pushing crappy wine.  It starts with Kane uttering the word "Rosebud" with his dying breath, and it is told in flashbacks courtesy of a reporter who is trying to discover the tantalizing mystery of the meaning of Kane's last word.  This reporter will not rest until he finds out exactly what, or who, Rosebud is.

Thanks to this movie being a thinly-veiled biography (and some would say character assassination) of a real media baron - William Randolph Hearst - at the time (1941), it didn't do very well in theaters.  Hearst owned a large enough percentage of God's green Earth to make sure that this movie didn't play in too many packed houses.  Since then, however, it has become regarded as one of the best movies in the history of cinema.  Greater even than High School Musical and Twilight combined!  The American Film Institute repeatedly ranks it at the top of its annual lists, and even Roger Ebert has stated: "So it's settled: Citizen Kane is the official greatest film of all time."

Here's the problem:  Remember how it was Kane's dying word, "Rosebud", that launched this whole investigation?  The whole movie was basically an investigation into Kane's life to find out what Kane meant by "Rosebud"?  No one was with Kane when he died.  The movie takes great pains to show how alone Kane was in his last days: an empty mansion, "No Trespassing" signs all over the place....  They even show the room his deathbed is in.  No one was with Kane when he died, therefore, no one heard him say "Rosebud".  How did the reporter know what Kane said as he was dying - the word that sparked the entire investigation, and therefore the whole movie?  Granted, a nurse walks in right after he croaks, but I doubt she heard his whispered last words across 20 feet of room and through a heavy wooden door.

The "official greatest film of all time" is based on an impossible premise.  Suck it, Ebert!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Non-Bucket List

A movie came out a couple of years ago called "The Bucket List".  It starred Jack Nicholson as an older fellow who had a list of things he always wanted to do before he died, or as they say: "kicked the bucket."  Not being a member of AARP, I didn't actually watch the movie, but, judging from the previews and Nicholson's current girth, I thought it was called the bucket list because that's how he measured his fried chicken intake.  Anyway, a bucket list is a list of things one wants to do or achieve before he dies.

Since I am currently 35 and have no major diseases that I know of, I have never made a bucket list.  What I DO have, however, is a list of things I really want to see in this world.  These are not great monuments like Stonehenge (built by gnomes), the Leaning Tower of Pisa (knocked askew by gnomes), or the Eiffel Tower (built by the French, who just LOOK like gnomes).  This is a list of things I think would be really cool or funny to see.  Things like:

  1.  A Chevy Suburban NOT being driven by a 5' tall soccer mom. 
  2.  Someone at Wal-Mart after 10pm who DOESN'T have an unfortunate tattoo and/or respiratory problem
  3.  Flying cars.  We've been promised these things since our parents were kids, and no one has done a darn thing about it.
  4. Someone on a Rascal scooter in a grocery store who doesn't weigh over 300 pounds.  You know, someone who is ACTUALLY disabled and not just lazy.
  5. A news report of Fred Phelps dying of a heart attack while fully "engaged" with an underage male prostitute.
  6. More Hummers broken down or out of gas on the side of the road.
  7. My feet.  (For the record, I have NEVER used a Rascal scooter at the grocery store.)
  8. More honest Facebook status updates.  We all know that "Jane Doe is pondering life's greater mysteries" actually means Jane was pooping and had nothing better to occupy her time than update Facebook.
  9. An auctioneer with Tourette's syndrome. "I'm bid 5, 5, 5, now 10, 10, #$%^&^!!, who'll give me 20?"
  10. Oprah come out of the closet.  It's 2011 and she's worth a billion dollars.  I really don't think anyone is going to give her any grief.
  11. An episode of CSI: Miami that doesn't look like an ad for sunglasses.
  12. The entire cast of Jersey Shore backing over a cliff in an RV driven by MTV's head of programming.
  13. "Plus-size" male models.  They have them for women, why not for men?
  14. Paris in the springtime.  While I would like to see this, I would most definitely NOT like to smell it.
  15. A clown on fire.  Not so funny, is it you red-nosed, seltzer-spritzing freak?
  16. A black guy in a hockey jersey standing next to a white guy in Roca Wear.
  17. Fox "News" going off the air.
  18. MSNBC going off the air.
  19. A mother character in a Disney movie make it to the end of the movie.  A friend of mine pointed out that, in almost every Disney movie, the mom of the main character is either already dead, or she dies during the movie.  Uncle Walt was a rather misogynistic fellow, apparently.
  20. Shorter lists.
That's my list for now, but I may add more things in the future as they occur to me.  Feel free to let me know what you would like to see.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Twisted Trivia, Part 1

Welcome back, Tilters!  For this installment of the blog, I've decided to combine two of my favorite things: trivia and twist endings.  I've always liked movies like The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects that had surprising revelations at the end that made me go "Holy CRAP! Bruce Willis was really a woman throughout the WHOLE MOVIE!"  Add a twist to a minor piece of history and you get Twisted Trivia!  (Add a twist to gin and vermouth and you get a Martini!)  Hopefully, this will become a regular topic on the blog.  If not, then it was fun while it lasted (about 15 minutes or 22 farthings in the metric system).

Prior to 1982, it was considered taboo for a company to mention one of its direct competitors in its advertising.  (In a lot of countries it is outright illegal, even today.)  It just wasn't done.  Along came Burger King and their advertising agency J. Walter Thompson.  BK and JWT decided to create an ad taking on the behemoth of burgers: McDonald's.  They aired an ad on television featuring a cute little 4 year-old actress who proclaimed, "I only eat at Burger King".  They also made claims that their burgers were 20% larger than McDonald's, among other things.  Those of you who have ever met a lawyer or who know anything about McDonald's know that this is where the meat hit the grinder, so to speak.

McDonald's at this time still had their sesame seed buns in a wad over the pernicious but false rumors that their burgers contained worm meat and their milkshakes had cow eyeballs in them.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, ask your parents.)  There was also the ugly business involving the Hamburglar, who is now known as the Hamregisteredsexoffender, and the fact that their coffee stirrers were being used as coke spoons (that one is true, but don't ask your parents because they'll just deny it).  Mickie D's, being a multi-billion dollar corporation, had a couple of lawyers with nothing better to do (which is when a lawyer is the most dangerous) than sue the crown off of the Burger King.

McDonald's didn't just go after the ad agency for defamation, they also sued the 4 year-old actress who starred in the commercial for false advertising.  After intense cross-examination by one of McDonald's hellhounds lawyers, the little girl finally broke down in tears and admitted that she did, in fact, eat at places other than Burger King.  At that time, BK wasn't quite as big or lawyerly as McDonald's, so the case was eventually settled out of court.  That commercial was the first in American advertising in which a company's direct competitor was named, and it was also one of the first cases of the spokesperson - in this case a spokeschild - being named in the suit.

And now,


The actress in that commercial was none other than Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Grudge, Cruel Intentions, I Know What You Did Last Summer and It Wasn't Very Nice, etc. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar got her big break as the star of the TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  One of the primary sponsors of that show?  McDonald's...the same company that had sued her when she was 4.