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Judge David Ryan's Blog
• Location: Natick, MA
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...
Enjoy it before 40,000 Lucasfilm attorneys descend on it.....
These aren't the seats you're looking for (hand gesture).....
I'm a glutton for luxury.
My idea of "camping out" is a Sheraton in the woods, for pete's sake. So it should come as no surprise that I somehow found it in my heart to forego those midnight/late-night showings of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (yes, Mr. Lucas... whatever you want to call it, Mr. Lucas...) and instead take in a comfy, 20%-full 2:00PM Thursday showing. Hey, those plastic lightsabers really hurt when you're jabbed in the back by them for two and half hours straight....
I'm not going to wax poetic on the triumphs or failures of this particular piece of Lucasana -- I'll save that for the inevitable Supreme Court review of the Sith DVD due for Christmas. But I will say a couple of things.
First, I'm going to give propz to George for being true to his word, even if other people don't. He said that this film would explain a lot of things that were left unclear or unexplained in the the first two films. It does. Maybe the answers aren't satisfactory ones in the eyes of the hard-core fanbois -- but the answers are there. He also said that the full Anakin Skywalker 6-part story would come into focus after this film was released. Again, it does. Unfortunately, to explain how the film accomplishes both these things would require spoilers -- and Homey don't play that. So unfortunately, I have to just throw them out there as unsupported assertions. But there out-throw them do I.
Second, the eye candy. Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were each quantum leaps forward in CGI technology. Phantom made other effects films look archaic, and Clones made Phantom look primitive. Sith is not such a great leap. The effects, for the most part, don't look any better than the effects in Clones. What has improved is the overall density of the CGI elements in the shots, and the way in which the elements are integrated with the live action footage (and with each other). It's hard to describe it in writing -- the CGI shots don't look better, but they somehow feel better. Most of them do, anyway.
Finally -- the acting. Or lack thereof. First and foremost in this department -- Ian MacDiarmid is hereby granted a free pass for life when it comes to discussing this subject. He's really fantastic, given the general inability of anyone to do any acting in one of these Lucas graphics-fests. But leaving him aside, the acting is pretty much uniformly poor. Only Ewan MacGregor -- as usual -- is able to bring any true color to his character. Remember, he's working under a severe handicap: since day one of his experience, he's had to play the Obi-wan character based on Alec Guiness's original choices back in 1977, not based on any choices he might want to make for him. Here, he finishes the job he's been doing (in my opinion) very well since Phantom Menace, and leaves the Obi-wan character exactly where it should be left (albeit a bit on the young side) in order to "reappear" as Ben Kenobi in Star Wars without significant character or logic gaps springing up.
I will say this, though -- unlike the past two films, at least it appears as if Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman were trying here. Especially Portman, who manages to bring a little life and emotion to a character that, on paper, is completely empty. Some critics have said that Christensen does a better job by just being himself than he could have done in "acting" the Skywalker role; frankly, I think they're probably right. He is what he is -- a sullen, inexplicably angry twentysomething. Just roll with it.
But Lordy mama, is some of that dialogue horrible. I once described the romantic scenes in Clones as "having the same entertainment value as watching baby seals be clubbed to death." It hasn't gotten any better here. But thankfully, there is a LOT less romance in this episode.
On the other hand -- some clever AVID person should cut together a film comprised solely of the Anakin/Padme scenes from these three Episodes. It would be, unquestionably, the worst romance picture ever made. Hmm. I may be on to something here....
Anyhow, the bottom line is that I liked the film quite a bit. I'd call it the best of the three, and close to the level of Empire. But that's just my take. Reasonable people may differ. Cheers!
Rock on, Brother Stevie!
I love Stevie Wonder. Not in, you know, that way, of course.... just as one of the most talented musicians of his era. Which is why I'm going to burn in hell for posting this. But I'm headed there anyhow, so here goes!
(1) Isn't a "video for the blind" an "audio"? If not, does that make audiobooks "movies for the blind"?
(2) Using my extensive connections within the recording industry, I've obtained for you, beloved DVD Verdict readers, an exclusive transcript of this forthcoming "video for the blind"!
"Okay, Stevie's at the keyboards.... he's moving his head back and forth while looking up..... he's got cornrows.... still moving the head....still moving..... um, Busta Rhymes is there.... Stevie's still moving his head.... Now wait -- he's moving his head in a circular motion! .... He's still got cornrows.... Um, that's the end."
Fun With Dates! And Baseball!
One of the more esoteric, yet fun, features of IMDb is their "on this day" page, which is conveniently buried in a sidebar on the left side of the main page. For any day of the year, you can pull up a list of births, deaths, and marriages -- or, at least, as much information as the database has in it on such things. Here, for example, is the list for my birthday, April 4th.
I'm quite pleased with my co-dated birthday haul, truth be told. In the spirit of Opening Day, Fever Pitch, and Alex Rodriguez's inability to pick up a ground ball, I suggest engaging in an all-new game of my invention -- the All-Birthday All-Star Lineup game. Fun for ages 9 to 90!
For ABASLG purposes, an entertainment figure is considered as "good" as his or her reputation or looks, or whatever other random criterion you choose to use, of course. (Except for athletes, who get to count their athletic talent.) Therefore, Marlon Brando would be, say, the same as David Ortiz; whereas Carrot Top would equate to, oh, Ramiro Mendoza.
I'll get the ball rolling with my starting 9, and my pitching rotation.
(1) Jim Fregosi (4/4/1942)
(2) Maya Angelou (4/4/1928)
(3) Scott Rolen (4/4/1975)
(4) Robert Downey, Jr. (4/4/1965)
(5) Tom Byron (4/4/1961)
(6) Clive Davis (4/4/1934)
(7) Andrei Tarkovsky (4/4/1932)
(8) Anthony Perkins (4/4/1932)
(9) Barry Pepper (4/4/1970)
And your 5-person pitching rotation:
(1) Eric Rohmer (4/4/1920)
(2) John Cameron Swayze (4/4/1906)
(3) David Cross (4/4/1964)
(4) Hugh Masekela (4/4/1939)
(5) Graham Norton (4/4/1963)
And coming out of the bullpen to finish the game, your closer:
Robbie Rist (4/4/1964)
Heath Legder (4/4/1979) is not invited -- unless he brings that on-again, off-again girlfriend of his. Especially if she's off-again....
Yes, I still work here....
I just want to put to rest all those non-existent rumors that I have died, or have accepted the post of Ambassador to Turkey, or died after accepting the post of Ambassador to Turkey. I am in fact fine, even though nary a single word of criticism has come from my pen in the last five weeks or so.
In truth, several things have contributed to this dry patch.
(1) First, and foremost, I moved from Los Angeles back to my ancestral homeland of suburban Boston. That, of course, took me out of circulation for a while. I suppose I should blog about my cross-country drive, or my brief visit to Graceland, or the travails of the cross-country moving experience. But...
(2) I've also been mired in my worst writing slump ever, as my usual email correspondents can attest. Writers' blocks are bad things. There's no clear-cut way to get out of them, except possibly by writing reams of crap until something useful comes out. But...
(3) My editing duties take priority over writing reams of crap. (Contrary to popular belief.) Thankfully, I'm not in an editing slump. Editing for this site is hard work, though. I don't enjoy the beatings that I have to dispense, but really -- it's for the best. Although, oddly, Brett Cullum does seem to enjoy them, if his cries of "Oh, daddy -- I've been a BAD writer! Whip me, daddy!" are any indication.
I've recently taken on some new writers as charges, which has been enjoyable as well -- for the most part. Jesse Ataide is a quality writer, but constantly pesters me with writs of habeas corpus, complaints about how I'm violating the "Guantanamo decision" (whatever that is), and unwanted visits from Jesse Jackson. He just doesn't seem to understand that if 40 minutes with the lash was good enough for Joel Pearce, it's good enough for him, by God. I'm telling you -- I'm thisclose to just throwing him in the Hole and being done with it.
Now Neal Solon -- he takes his beatings like a MAN, let me tell you. He just put that poster of Rita Hayworth up in his
Remember what Mao said, back during his days at Random House -- subject-verb agreement comes only at the end of the barrel of a gun.
In any event, I've got some nearly-complete work in the pipeline, including the long-awaited (I think) review of Napoleon Dynamite, so hopefully you'll have some new reasons to tune me out in the near future. But I assure you -- when you finish with that Napoleon Dynamite review, you will definitely know that it has been written in English, and you'll be able to say to yourself, "That was a review of Napoleon Dynamite." And really, what more can you ask for?
Until next time, dear friends.....
HBP: Jimmy Fallon
I guess I should jump on board this new-fangled blog thingamajiggle. Because if there's one thing I love to do, it's blather on endlessly about esoteric things as if people actually cared about what I think! I am the Internet Generation, baby!
Anyhow, today's topic is Fever Pitch. More specifically -- WHY JIMMY FALLON??????? Really -- this could be the greatest film ever, except for its lead. I mean, I'm going to go see it -- Drew + Sox = my $10 happily handed over -- but Fallon? Mr. "I can't get through a f--ing 2-minute sketch without breaking character and laughing hysterically at my own overwhelming funnyness?" What, Horatio Sanz was taken already?
For those few who don't know, Pitch is a U.S. remake of the 1997 British film of the same name, both based on Nick "Don't Call Me Bruce" Hornby's autobiographical novel. The original starred Colin Firth. Who didn't break character when he hosted SNL last year. Of course he also wasn't very funny... but that's another story. Anyhow, in a strange karmic congruence of coincidence, the Brothers Farrelly were actually able to keep the name, despite the fact that it's a pun involving "pitch" being the proper term for a soccer (a.k.a. football) field. In the UK version, the protagonist Paul is a football-mad lad whose love affair with his beloved Arsenal squad conflicts with, and occasonally parallels, his love affairs with the comely Sara (Ruth Gemmell). In the US version, the protagonist Ben (Ben?) is, instead, baseball-mad. But hey -- you can still use "pitch" in connection with baseball, so it's all good! Hornby's clever pun is preserved for US audiences in (roughly) its intended form. Funny how that works out, innit?
Unlike the original, which was scripted by Hornby himself, this forthcoming Farrelly Brothers production features a script by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the Rosencranz and Guildenstern of contemporary Hollywood. (No, I don't know what that means either -- but it sort of sounds intelligent, doesn't it?) But then, High Fidelity and About A Boy were both adapted screenplays, and they turned out okay, so this isn't necessarily the kiss of death. And the original didn't have Johnny Jesus Damon. So there.
But again, we return to Jimmy Fallon. Okay, he's Irish, and I'm supposed to watch my homies' collective backs. At least the ones who don't plant bombs and stuff. But again, I digress. But he's a NEW F-ING YORKER. He's got as much Sox street cred as Darryl Strawberry. (Who probably wouldn't crack up in the middle of a sketch, had he been off the coke long enough to have hosted SNL.) How 'bout you go hang out with Sandler and reminisce about how YOUR home town team can never be surpassed in the "choke" department, Jimbo? But again, I digress. Leaving aside the obvious choice for the role -- Matt Damon, who probably would have been prohibitively expensive to hire -- are you telling me that they couldn't get someone a bit more believable in this role? What, John Cusack wasn't available? (He's a Chicago boy -- he can relate, dammit.) He's been too busy DOING NOTHING??? Oh wait -- I'm sure Fallon's thespian glory in Taxi made the thought of casting another in the role incomprehensible.
Sigh. Could be the greatest film ever, but instead will be forever tainted by Jimmy Fallon. Sweet Jesus, didn't we suffer enough after Celtic Pride???
On the other hand, Drew Barrymore makes all things good. Please excuse me while I go have very impure thoughts about her.
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