Thursday, July 31, 2003

Spy Kids III

I watched Spy Kids III tonight. It was fun, although there were some some cheesy and preachy moments.

For the first few minutes, as the story was establishing itself, I actually began to fear that it was a bad movie. "Oh no! My hero Robert Rodriguez made a bad movie!" But as the story progressed, it got more fun. Sylvester Stallone played his role(s) with just the right amount of exaggeration, and I'm glad he got the screen time that he did.

The movie was also 3-D, but I was disappointed. I wear glasses, and the 3-D glasses on top of them didn't give me the best effect. I keep thinking that I shouldn't be seeing so much red, or so much blue. I think the movie would have worked in 2-D though. The best 3-D that I remember seeing was at Universal Studios, and there we wore polarized glasses instead of tonight's blue/red plastic lenses.

Overall? It was OK.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Multiple Books

Two BLOGs that I frequent recently discussed books. It's high time I do so.

Blork wrote that he's discovered the key to reading books simultaneously. Ken wrote that he's been overwhelmed by the number of new books at Barnes and Noble.

Like Ken, I'm often astonished by the plethora of books at a huge book store like Barnes and Noble. Ken specifically points out new books, and he's right: there are a tremendous amount of new books out there. Who's reading them? More incredibly, who's writing them?

Like Blork, I am in the middle of a handful of books. I used to be far more strict about this. I never started a book if I was still reading another one. Now, I am reading three books: All the President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, A Walk Across France, by Miles Moreland, and Empire Falls, by Richard Russo.

After watching the movie "All the President's Men" earlier in the summer, I was finally compelled to read this famous book. It's a very dry and dense book, and I'm only able to muster a few paragraphs at a time. There are many many more names in Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein's book. It shows how deliberate and painstaking the investigation was to piece together the corruption of Richard Nixon's. The book is also the first time I have seen pictures of the real Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein.

My wife loved A Walk Across France, and she's been pushing me to read this for the past few months. She's right. It's not just a travelogue, but a memoir of a man who spent plenty of years in business, often forgetting to smell the roses. Mr. Moreland and his wife are walking the thin part of France north of the Pyrénées, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. I like the book's pace.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo was a paperback I picked up strictly for its cover. I read the jacket, and saw that it was the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction. The jacket announced that this is a book about a man who works at a diner. My thought bubble: "What kind of stories could come from that kind of protagonist? I like diners, right?" I circled the store a few times before finally putting it into my basket and checking out. I'm glad I did. This book is super literary fiction. I'm enjoying the story very much.

Tomorrow is the last day of July, and I'll catch a movie in the theater, to fulfill my July quota.

This is SportsCenter Live

Last night, ESPN broadcast their news show Sports Center on two channels. On ESPN2, they ran the show as viewers normally watch it. On ESPN, they had cameras covering the behind-the-scenes activity as on-air talent Dan Patrick and Kevin Frazier ran through sports news.

It was great television.

Dan Patrick says doing the show is one big adrenaline rush. While on the air the announcers display a calm wit and an off-the-cuff bravado, just outside the television frame, and in their ears, and in a very rushed control room, is a swarm of activity, from people editing tapes, to the technical director counting backwards from commercial break, to the producers changing and adding to the coverage to make the show as newsworthy as possible. The show, This is SportsCenter Live, captured the in-the-ear chatter, the prep work for a highlight (situation, action, result), and revealed that the anchors wear sneakers to set. And yes, production assistants run with video tape of sports highlights to be shown during the show.

It all looks so easy watching television news. This program was a great peek at all the hard work needed to pull it off. Kudos, ESPN!

Sunday, July 27, 2003

5-Time Winners

Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France this morning. I watched a replay of the last stage (the ceremonial Paris criterium) on the Outdoor Life Network tonight, and I was treated to a very dramatic finish for the coveted green jersey, the jersey won by the best sprinter. Baden Cooke overtook Robbie McEwen right at the finish line. Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett gave a marvelous race commentary.

But the real story, of course, is the fact that an American has broken into a very exclusive club: 5-time winners of the Tour de France. Jacques Anquetil (France), Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Bernard Hinault (France), and Miguel Indurain (Spain) were the previous 5-time winners. The cycling world will hold its collective breath until next year, when Lance could become the sole member of the 6-time winners club.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Robert Rodriguez


Can't get movies off the front-burner of my muse. I watched Spy Kids and Spy Kids II, in preparation to see Spy Kids III in the theater in August (or September).

The director of these movies is Robert Rodriguez. He's been a source of inspiration to me, as his love affair with movies and movie making is infectious and unique. He is not only a screen-writer and director, but he's also a director of photography, film editor, and musical score composer for nearly all of his movies. He has a heretical opinion against film, favoring digital technology (he shot Spy Kids II in high defintion), and he does nearly all of the post-production at his home in Texas.

His book Rebel Without a Crew is worth reading for anyone who's ever thought about the process behind movie making. He describes his own quest to make a movie, just to "practice" his skills, and how this small movie, El Mariachi, become a film festival award winner. His commentary track for this movie is jam-packed, and inspiring. He's an acknowledged rare breed, and his films are definitely worth checking out.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Changing a Movie's Ending

My mind has been on the movies lately. I read over the weekend that the creators of 28 Days Later... decided to change their ending, even though the movie has already been in theatrical release for the past few weeks. The producers wanted to put out the "darker ending."

1400 theaters have the film "print". The new ending will either play immediately after the credits, or be spliced in by projectionists. Highly unusual. According to the article, it's an additional four minutes of film.

When I read this, I thought immediately of the character Tyler Durden in Fight Club, who would splice in one frame of porn in children's movies. I also thought about all those evenings hanging out at the projector room during college. I knew a few of the projectionists, and became familiar with how they would irreverently handle film.

This news would have been right up their alley.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Bunch of Movies

I've watched a bunch of movies this month, as I'm waiting on Jenn to wrap up some writing for our little home movie. Here were three of them:

Judy Berlin featured Edie Falco, the now-famous actress playing Carmella Soprano on The Sopranos. This quiet movie about suburban ennui was punctuated with exclamation points by her ecstatic performance. Everyone moves in a dreamy, bored manner, except for her. It's a good movie.

In the Bedroom was a movie about how a murder affects a couple stuck in their ways. Grief seems fully rendered here, and this grief gives way to frustration, anger, and then an acceptance that is chilling, but inevitable. The rugged country of Maine was beautifully portrayed. Sissy Spacek gives an Oscar nominated performance.

The Royal Tenebaums, directed and co-written by Wes Anderson, is an original look at the themes of unfulfilled love and forgiveness. I loved Mr. Anderson's Rushmore, and I felt he topped that. He has a very unique look and style to his films.

Monday, July 14, 2003


It's been two weeks since my last entry. I'm writing this from work, and it feels like I'm doing something "frowned upon." My mind is brimming with topics, including movies that I've watched, books that I'm reading, and the six minute home movie that I've been working on for the past two months. But I'll save all this for when I feel "allowed" to do this: in the middle of the night.