Sunday, August 29, 2010

What'd I miss?

Did you know that "Emmy" derives from the term "immy"? I don't know what that means, or why I remember it.

Jimmy Fallon is not talented enough for this to be remade as "The Jimmy Fallon Show," but at least we haven't heard his irritating laugh. Yet. NBC fired the wrong late night guy.

Jim Parsons won Best Actor in a Comedy. That means people finally realized that "Monk" is not a comedy.

Edie Falco: "I'm not funny!" Here we go again.

Where would awards shows be without Ricky Gervais? In the crapper, is where. "Let's face it, we're all Bucky Guntz here." Can I get that on a T-shirt?

George Clooney won the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for not making Ocean's 14. The caper would have involved stealing Andy Garcia and delivering him to Al Pacino.

Did I just see a "tease" for the In Memoriam segment?

And Hugh Laurie gets skunked again, even though he gives a consistently rich performance in what amounts to a foreign language. Try playing a misanthropic bastard so that people will want to watch you every week. It's harder than it looks.

Next year: No guitars. Also, the word "amazing" will be banned. That should give nominees a full year to think of another way to describe their agents.

Maury Chaykin died? I didn't know. He was a terrific Nero Wolfe.

Applauding yourself when your name is announced irritates me. It suggests you aren't paying attention, but are mindlessly clapping when prompted, like the Letterman audience.

Clearly Temple Grandin is having the time of her life. It would be nice if somebody invited her onstage.

It seems that all the nominated writers are about 24. Be sure to read Ken Levine's blog tomorrow, he's something of an expert in these matters. I'm just somebody who owns a television. I muted the sound when that girl was singing, so I'm not sure why Tom Hanks just led a busload of people onstage.

And finally Ms. Grandin gets her moment. She may be the only woman onstage who isn't in danger of erupting from her dress. Whoops! Tuck them in. Oh, that must be uncomfortable. This is why the Emmys are not shown in Iran, where they would otherwise be a huge draw. Most Iranian men model their look after Tom Selleck.

Now for the evening's big question: Will Google (spits) let me publish this?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The devil is in the details

Google (spits) informs me that this blog now has four Followers. Welcome. I assume you signed up during the movie restoration event, and I have been meaning to write more about movies. I feel as if I've see far too many lately, and some things about them have been getting under my skin. I wish there were fact-checkers to prevent stupid mistakes from reaching the screen, even if nobody else notices them.

I know, there are entire websites devoted to the mistakes in movies like Titanic, written by people with DVD players and too much time on their hands -- look, there's a Roosevelt dime! in 1912! -- or Saving Private Ryan -- that rifleman is wearing paratrooper insignia! -- but I don't care about tiny goofs and anachronisms. I care about the larger issues of common sense. For example, why is Tarzan always clean-shaven, with no body hair? Is there a salon in the jungle? Staffed by chimps?

The other night I saw a pallid little rom-com called Last Chance Harvey, chiefly for its two stars, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. It's the kind of movie that asks you to believe Emma Thompson can't get a date, which is like asking you to believe Michelle Pfeiffer works in a greasy spoon (Frankie and Johnny). Anyway, at one point, after sitting for a while in a public plaza and thinking she has been stood up, Emma puts down a bag of fruit she has bought for some reason and walks sadly away. If you put down a bag anywhere in London and walk away, a six-block area will instantly be cordoned off, and you will be helping the police with their inquiries, as the British archly put it. This is easily checked. Ask any Londoner.

In Absence of Malice, the character of Jim Quinn is referred to constantly, and exclusively, as the district attorney. At the climax of the film, Quinn wonders if he ought to resign. "The President appointed you, " says the man from the Justice Department. "I ain't the one to be kicking you out." In other words, he's the United States Attorney. Did the writer not know the difference? Did someone think the audience would be confused? Sydney Pollack did not often insult our intelligence this way.

I love Casablanca, but I can't get past one line. Major Strasser dismisses Rick as "just another blundering American," to which Captain Renault responds, "I wouldn't underestimate the Americans. I was with them in 1918 when they blundered into Berlin." I can't find any evidence that American troops got anywhere near Berlin in 1918. Nor French troops, for that matter. This is sloppy even for wartime propaganda.

Don't get me started on The Untouchables.


It's August, all right?

I have heard of an entire work of art evolving from a single image. For instance, Sondheim's Follies was supposedly inspired by a photograph of Gloria Swanson standing in the ruins of a demolished theatre. Lately I have had a recurring mental image I don't quite understand. It's the Vatican, just before dawn, the sky growing gray, the faint sound of church bells. As the light comes up in the papal bedroom, the occupant of the papal bed -- a big bed, I'm guessing -- stirs restlessly. Slowly he becomes aware that he is not alone. Beside him, staining the impeccable linens with blood and grease, is the severed head of Antonin Scalia.

That's all I have.