Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Famous Scene From Poltergeist and Grice's New Eyeglasses

My glasses finally arrived. I practically snatched the box from the FedEx guy, and tore it open. I've been waiting weeks.

I rushed (hobbled quickly, it's all relative) to the bathroom and threw them on the old mug and looked in the mirror.

This famous scene from "Poltergeist" aptly depicts my reaction. (Warning, it's a bit "graphic.")

I guess I'll have to get used to them.

(Fun fact about the movie: Steven Spielberg's own hands are peeling off Marty's face.)

`I don't drink, I don't smoke ... I play video games'

I learned how to play backgammon last night. I've already begun reading strategy online, and I'm hooked.

A couple friends and I who used to play Scrabble (offline) and Scrabulous (online, R.I.P.) so much that it's embarrassing headed down to this awesome funland called Fat Cat in the West Village.

You head down a flight of stairs and are greeted by a bouncer; he waves you in and you open your eyes to a blissful room of billiards, backgammon, scrabble, shuffleboard, cards (I've recently suffered compulsive spades-playing) and video games. We'll be going back very soon.

It reminded me of the documentary "King of Kong," a hilariously awkward and awesome tale of a bunch of dudes all across the U.S. whose only goal in life is to be the best at Donkey Kong. They travel to tournaments, still sport mullets and are extremely focused on achieving their goal. Extremely.

Great bits from the trailer include: "I'm the Wayne Gretsky of video games," and a large man banging away at a tiny drumset. (And it's set to "Teenage Wasteland," appropriately.) Please watch.

Two More Looks at Paul Newman's Life: Salon, Slate

Salon and Slate both ran such awesome pieces about PN's life.

From Salon's Stephanie Zacharek, she writes:

He looked like something Donatello might have dreamed up, his eyes turned down just the slightest bit at the corners, his mouth perpetually ready for kissing. Still, we all know that great-looking actors are a dime a dozen. The best of them are also informed by something that comes from inside, a mischievous spark, a sly sense of self-deprecation that suggests they don't take themselves all that seriously (even when they take their work very seriously).
And Slate's Dahlia Lithwick writes about his life and adamant insistence on giving back:

But Newman never stopped believing he was a regular guy who'd simply been blessed, and well beyond what was fair. So he just kept on paying it forward. He appreciated great ideas for doing good in the world—he collected them the way other people collect their own press clippings—and he didn't care where they came from. Whether you were a college kid, a pediatric oncologist, or a Hollywood tycoon, if you had a nutty plan to make life better for someone, he'd write the check himself or hook you up with somebody who would.

I can't stop reading about him. Hattip Ezra on Slate's piece.

Perks of Fall Street

It's cheesy and so predictable, paying homage to the delightful films about the greed, corruption and scandal that's driven the economy to near-destitution. But potshots have their perks. I got to spend a good couple hours last night sifting through endless scenes of whichever films I thought of that dealt with those themes. There are so many.

American Psycho and the unforgettable business card scene.

Wall Street, `Greed is Good’

Boiler Room's `Let’s go, Shlep-rock!’ (Ben Affleck, why can't you be more consistent?)

Bonfire of the Vanities -- I agree with a good friend of mine about how underrated this film is. It's Brian De Palma; and sure, it's not Scarface or Carlito's Way ... and the casting was, well, unforgivable ... but it's BDP doing Tom Wolfe!

Here's to the fallen `Masters of the Universe'

Trading Places. Mortimer and Randolph Duke, I'd happily switch places with someone right now and allow you to test out nature v. nurture.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Someone May Get Hurt

Good lord. I don't really have any violent tendencies (love violent movies, though), but today, I've been pushed to the brink.

After waking this morning to my mac & cheese, I hobbled to my little perch near the hallway. I got myself all set up, enough pillows, even sprung for a mouse for my computer, glass of water next to me, juuuuust ready to sign on and start working away. What a productive person I would be today.

Sweet Spanish music begins drifting up the stairwell.

"Ahh, how neat," I thought, "some lovely Latin woman is downstairs, starting her day, probably playing these soporific lullabies to her child as she prepares him his breakfast burritoes," I mused naively.

I put in my headphones, started tip-tapping away, when BAM!

The most violent jackhammering I've ever heard, imagined or feared.

This music was for no lovely little mother-son pair. It was for the lumbering, oafish men who've been chattering at the top of their lungs all day; that is, all day when they're not trying to cause me to drag my hobbled body to the window and throw it out.

Reminded me of Michael Douglas in "Falling Down." Very short clip, but sure captures the film's spirit, as well as my own mental state at the moment.

`I have steak at home, why go out for hamburgers?'

He said, of his wife.

This morning's "Today Show" did a surprisingly sweet and thoughtful piece on Paul and his wife of some-50 years, Joanne Woodward. I won't bore you with their real-life love story that I already know way too much about; but here's the piece if there's any interest.

(As an aside, it was a pretty bleak morning for lady Grice. A thought occured, though.

Occupational hazard of working from home alone, aside from sense of loneliness and isolation: Having no fear of judgment if you find yourself standing in front of the stove making mac & cheese at 9 a.m. Not for later, but for right then. But it’s so cheap and there’s so much left! When I die of gout, those were my final words.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

`Paul Newman died. I already talked to mom, and she said you should call her.'

Re-fracture my femur? “Oh, things could be worse – I could’ve broken my neck with that kind of fall!” I tell myself. Lose a one-and-only? “Love’s for the birds … I’ve got my movies!!!” I think, licking my wounds. Hurricanes flooding Mama G’s house? “Come on, with the economic wreckage, it’s just a drop in the old bucket.”

I like silver-linings. And while I’ve been throwing myself pity parties aplenty lately, nothing was like Saturday morning.

I awoke to a buzzing phone beneath my ear. Who’s calling at this ungodly 9 a.m. hour?? “Brother” blinked on my ancient, 80s-style cell phone.

“I’m so sorry, Sister.” (For what? For calling me at dawn?)

“You haven’t heard.” (Yo, bro, I told you last week that we have a very fallible Interweb connection at the moment; even if I’d WANTED to hear anything, it’d be slow-going).

“Paul Newman died. I already talked to mom, and she said you should call her.”

Now. I’m wiping the sleep away from my beady eyes and jolt upright in shock. My lips start to quiver, my jaw starts trembling – and it happened. I cried thankless, shameless tears as I sat there on my little air mattress in my new room (which is finally coming together, by the way).

I’ve joked a thousand times about how I’d cry when PN died. I wrote about it on this silly bloggle (and jinxed it? Believe you me, that was the first reaction I had … Hell hath a place for me now, I’m sure) but I didn’t think I actually would workout the old tear ducts, like some love-stricken fan who wanted to impale themselves after the loss of a Beatle.

It takes some pretty heavy things to make me cry; and it just made me realize how much I really did, and do, admire PN – everything from his early career and movie choices, to his lifestyle, and – perhaps most selfishly – how handsome and righteous his roles most often were. He will be an everlasting love.

I checked my phone after I got off with Brother, and 5 people had already texted extending their condolences for my loss, as it were. I normally cringe at my effusive movie-talking, but in this case I’m proud of it. He deserves all my romanticizing of him; it was the saddest Saturday morning that I can remember. :’-(

Making me tear up, as I copy the YouTube link! Good lord, get ahold of yourself, Grice.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kidnapped for No Reason .... Well, There's Always a Reason

We had to go to Korea Town to get it, the part of the city that I now associate with crazy karaoke bars that lend you rooms and provide you beers to make you feel like you're having an authentic experience.

But this was several years ago, before I knew about any of that and my roommate and I took our spindly selves up to 33rd St. to buy a bootlegged VHS version of a movie she'd heard about, "Old Boy." From what she'd heard, she thought I'd like it. How right she was.

I could speak volumes about it, and if I don't temper my urge to do so, it might happen. I'll try not to bore, and instead implore you to see it if you haven't. It won Grand Prix at Cannes, if that's any help.

Imagine that you've gone out and done some drinking. A lot of drinking, and you've wound up in the clink. You're really at rock bottom and tomorrow you'll be hating yourself for the dishonor you've brought upon your despicable self. That is all to say, you're already down in the dumps.

They let you out after you've shown yourself to be able to wend your way through the city streets, and you stop to make a drunken phone call in a telephone booth (Old Boy? More like, old school.)

They scoop you up as you're sloshily stumbling about the booth. Who? We don't know! Buuuuut, your sober self wakes up in a torturously barren and lonely hotel room. It's locked (from the outside) and the only thing you see for ten years -- yes, ten -- are some little fingers as they slip you bare-minimum style victuals through a slot in the door.

Then, one day the door opens, and you're out.

Mind you, you've suffered through hallucinations, solitary-confinement-instilled craziness. And now you're freed!

What you need to do is figure out why, just why, such a terrible fortune was bestowed on you. Then, maybe, a little vigilante justice is warranted.

Unlike most American movies that cut out all the "bad" stuff, "Old Boy" leaves it in. It's dirty and gritty and gross and GREAT.

Marv and the Tarantula

In case the "Marv and the tarantula" scene didn't ring any bells, here it is. (Geez, you can find anything on the Interweb.)

I remember when big brother Grice and I laughed so hard at this scene that we just kept rewinding to re-experience it.

`He's Screaming His Opinions in My Ear."

Oh, Woody Allen. What a love-hate relationship I have with you.

Last night, I was sitting in my soon-to-be furnished room -- the only priorities were the tube and the dvd/vcr player, so I was sitting on the floor -- picking at my dinner, watching a little "Mad Men," even though I'm woefully behind in this season's trajectory.

I had one of those, "Ahhhh, this is all I need" moments. This, and ... this remote control (a la Steve Martin in "The Jerk.")

When, suddenly! Who crawls over, you ask? A cockroach, that's who.

I consider myself to be pretty level-headed, never letting girlish emotions push me to indulging in silly, stereotypical behavior.

But it was as if I were Joe Pesci in "Home Alone," when the tarantula crawls on his chest and Marv starts smacking him with an iron rod.

I jumped and screamed and ran to get Fantastic from the kitchen, my only recourse at the time. I sprayed the bejesus out of him, and even double-shoed him right on his crawly, nasty head.

It made me think of this scene, such a great one from "Annie Hall."

She's recently broken with Woody, she's encountered a huge spider in the bathtub and her first reaction is to call him to come kill it. Of course, he comes (complaining as usual), yet he's scared worse than she is and the foibles are just so great.

Including one of my other favorite scenes from the film, when they're standing in line and Woody can't stand the, pardon me, @sshole standing near them dictating his opinion about some Fellini film. I remember when I first saw it and just thought -- "Yes, he gets it."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

James Agee on the Movies

Recently having been sentenced to work from home for a long four more days (due to an unfortunate Internet situation, I can't even sit next to the TV while I work, I'm sequestered to sitting near the hall), a friend sent me a slew of books. They're all movie-related, film critics' great works or commentary on them; the first I picked up was "Agee on Film: Criticism and Comments on the Movies."

"Cry Havoc" is a sincere fourth-rate picture made from a sincere fifth-rate play about nurses on Bataan. By fourth-rate I mean it is incomparably less offensive than "So Proudly We Hail." In fact, in spite of many very bad things in it and its intrinsic staginess, I was often touched by it, simply because the members of the cast (Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, Joan Blondell, Ella Raines, and several others) seem to care a great deal about the thing they were reenacting.

Agee was a movie critic for The Nation in the 40s, as well as a screenwriter -- works including "The African Queen." To see how he writes about movies, his familiarity with them and passion for them is, hmm, very inspiring. And I've got 443 pps. of text to continue with! I don't know most of the movies he's writing about, but he makes me want to.

Monday, September 22, 2008

`These people are dangerous. They're ... Wild."

Just got feedback from a vile, vile friend of mine, who watched the "Paper Moon" clips and commentary.

"I'll say its ok - but if you want dialogue that's old (just to give it credence) why don't you look at 12 angry men? Maybe you just like it because the little girl is stubborn and obnoxious and precocious and gets her way?"

Re-reading that, perhaps he's saying that I relate to her because I'm "stubborn and obnoxious and precocious," which was a jab I didn't get upon first reading. But, no matter, he never has had a way with words anyway.

The one good takeaway from Friend's unelegant drivel was reminding me about 12 Angry Men. There's the Jack Lemmon one, and while he was a beautiful old talent, the Lumet's is really greater.

It's done by Sidney Lumet, and has Henry Fonda in it! And the tag was: "Life Is In Their Hands -- Death Is On Their Minds!" Ahhh, if that doesn't make you a little excited ...

Lucas, thank you for bringing it to mind.

Paul Newman, and the Upset Google Can Cause

Typing in "Paul Newman" into Google just now, the auto-complete function that somehow plucks all the most popular searches from the ether completed with: "cancer," "health," "movies," "actor," "news," "dying," [!!!!!!] "bio," "dead," [NO!], "illness," annnnd, "death."

Everyone at work who knows me whatsoever knows my infatuation, err, it runs deeper ... my admiration for him. People drop off little boxes of Newman's Own raisins (one of which still sits atop my editing box at my desk, so he can look at me as I type), people lend me his movies when I mention that I haven't seen one and I've just always loved following his life on and off screen.

Sure, it's crazy. But from the moment I saw him up there (on the screen), it hit me like a ton of bricks. He's the one and only little idol that I have. (Though I should give honorable mentions to Tim Robbins, John Cusack, Kevin Spacey and ... hmm ... perhaps that's it.)

PN isn't dead. And the day he goes, I will cry some quiet little tears -- but until then, I wish his name wouldn't be completed in search with dying, dead or death.

This is why he's someone I've enjoyed following these years: "Movie star Paul Newman has quietly turned over the entire value of his ownership in Newman’s Own — the company that makes salad dressing and cookies — to charity."


The above is what got me thinking about him. "The Color of Money," one of the best. I hadn't seen it until some time last year, when one of the aforementioned coworkers lent it to me when he couldn't bear the fact that I hadn't seen it. (An embarrassing, embarrassing moment.)

Watched it on repeat a few times.

`Disobey, and you die."

It's almost as good as hearing that there's a fraternity of assassins fated to maintain the stability in an unstable world. (I won't take up eye space by inserting the "Wanted" trailer, but know that I wanted to.)

Instead, let's move forward and think about Eagle Eye. Not every movie can be about two hustling con artists, though I might secretly wish they were.
Imagine having some unseen reckoning out there giving you little clues here and there about when to "duck now" or "jump!!" Once you've tried to ignore these little nuggets of needed information, you quickly realize that you've got to heed their directions, else deal with the doom you've opted into.

I'm a sucker for these. Once they've "picked you" ... come on! How great is that? It's like you're living in a Choose Your Own Adventure, yet someone else is doing the choosing.

I'm sure Eagle Eye will be awful, but I saw "Wanted" twice. Once for free, and once with friends. EE has my $12, at least.

Madeline Kahn.

Last night, as I watched "Paper Moon" for the third time -- yes -- in a day, my friend pointed out that I hadn't given Madeline Kahn her just due when writing about the movie. While I realize that favorites aren't universal, and not everyone is as interested in this great film as I am, I just thought I'd at least highlight her, if only for karma.

She's so good.

"Let ol' Trixie sit up front with her big [redacted]."

And, then, there's Mel Brooks's "Blazing Saddles," a film I said last night that I hadn't seen, but looking up the clip I know I saw it some time.

Ahhhh, so good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

`Football, football ... What's a football?'

They -- Siskel and Ebert -- actually wonder to themselves whether people would see this, one of the greatest Christmas-y movies of all time. If I'd never gotten to see Ralphie and Randy walk to school together, wondering whether little Randy's arms could stay down due to the freeze -- or whether it was right that Ralphie ran back to school when the bell rang, regardless that "poor Flick"'s tongue stuck to the pole -- I'd have been a poorer person for it.

Names to reflect upon: Jean Shepherd, Bob Clark.

They Posted Them ... Appaloosa, Ghost Town, etc.

I thought they were holding off on Appaloosa for later content, but - they posted it! Good, good.

Cowboys and Zellweger; Icy Dead People; Water: Movies (Update1)

Review by Morgan Grice

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Pairing Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris makes the pulse quicken. All the great films they've done individually (and together, in ``A History of Violence'') come to mind, and the possibility seems awesome. As gunslingers for hire in ``Appaloosa,'' however, they never clinch the Western thing.

All the elements are in place: Virgil Cole (Harris) and Everett Hicks (Mortensen) have been brought in to rid Appaloosa of the bad guys terrorizing the town. The top thug is played by a sneering but weirdly-dapper Jeremy Irons, who never quite captures the spirit of his archetypal role.

As they begin separating the outlaws from the lawmen -- a tenuous distinction back in 1882 -- Cole and Hicks meet Allison French (Renee Zellweger) in a saloon. New to town and in need of a job, Allison plays a jarringly-bad organ, won't allow herself to be called a lady of the night and is too rough around the edges to be squeezing into corsets made for proper ladies. None of this matters to Cole, who is instantly taken with her.

This leads to some friction between the dusty lawmen, whose relationship is built on a subtle symbiosis. Ever since Hicks saved Cole's life sometime back, Cole has helped him establish himself in the peacemaking game. Allison changes the dynamic between the men. Their discomfort is palpable.

The movie's second half gains momentum with some exciting standoffs and cowboy-style set pieces that will remind the genre's fans of more spirited examples from the past. ``Appaloosa'' is just a little too slow and uninvolving to join their ranks.

``Appaloosa'' from Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. opens today across the U.S. Rating: *

`Ghost Town'

Walking, talking dead people are all around us in ``Ghost Town,'' starring Ricky Gervais as a hilariously misanthropic Manhattan dentist who can see them.

It's a familiar premise that sounds silly and could be easily botched. But it works: ``Ghost Town,'' co-written and directed by David Koepp (``Jurassic Park,'' ``Carlito's Way'') is clever and refreshing, a standout comedy when the genre is saturated with sloppy schoolboy humor.

Gervais plays Dr. Bertram Pincus, a foulmouthed, tactless dentist with a visceral disdain for people. When his patients try to get personal, he stuffs more cotton in their mouths to shut them up. He's not above calling colleagues ``babbling idiots'' to their faces. He's a cynical jerk, if an extremely quick and clever one. (Gervais's role as the irritating office manager David Brent in the original U.K. version of ``The Office'' certainly primed him for the role.)

Freak Accident

The movie starts with cocky, philandering Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) dying in a freak accident involving a falling air conditioner and a bus. Soon after, Pincus goes in for a routine colonoscopy, during which he dies for seven minutes. Rather, it was somewhere between six and seven minutes we learn, in a great exchange with ``Saturday Night Live's'' Kristen Wiig, who plays Pincus's doctor.

After his brush with death, Pincus begins being bothered by a slew of spirits (many of them played by stars in cameo roles) with unfinished business, unable to cross over before they set things straight.

Herlihy is the most aggressive. He shows up at inopportune moments, hoping Pincus will help sabotage his widowed wife's planned marriage. Gwen, the widow, is Tea Leoni, a nerdy, beautiful Egyptologist who always deserved more than her dead husband gave her. She lives in the dentist's building, but Pincus has always had his nose stuck too high in the air to acknowledge her.


Gwen's fiance (Billy Campbell) is annoyingly flawless, a well-intentioned fundraiser for human rights projects. Certain that he's only after her for her money, Herlihy drafts Pincus to his cause.

It all makes for a good time. Pincus predictably falls for the widow; he becomes more human, realizing that his look-out- for-number-one mentality isn't sustainable. And by movie's end, you're left entertained and impressed by the great comic performances in a movie that could have made you regret spending $12 on yet another cheesy romantic comedy.

``Ghost Town,'' from DreamWorks Pictures, opens today across the U.S. Rating: ***


Taken at face value, Irena Salina's documentary ``Flow'' is extremely frightening. It opens strong, warning of a full-blown, global water crisis that will result in the world running out of clean water within 25 years. One-half to two-thirds of the world population will be living with acute freshwater shortages.

If it weren't for the film's bald one-sidedness, it'd be hard to believe anyone could argue with the idea that it's all caused by greedy corporations, the ``Washington Consensus'' and overt government neglect. Instead, you're left wanting a few counterarguments, just to keep things honest.

The film introduces us to an array of experts testifying to the evils of privatized water supplies, especially for the poor who can't afford to buy it. Many people are forced to turn to polluted rivers or streams. Each year millions become sick or die from waterborne diseases.

We learn that water is a $400 billion global industry, with investors buying up water rights, commoditizing a resource that seems like it should be free and universally accessible. We even get a glimpse of T. Boone Pickens bragging about cornering the water market, one of many interviews with industry bigwigs reduced to cold, heartless sons of capitalism.

We get virtually no face time with anyone who makes a case for abandoning public water systems in favor of a for-profit water industry. It's hard to swallow the story entirely.

``Flow'' is very effective, however, in interweaving stories and scenes from Africa, Bolivia and South Africa, always being sure to come back to the U.S. and Canada. Perhaps it's a way to ensure that those from rich nations, who may be inured to images of people suffering in the Third World, remember that we will all be affected.

``Flow,'' from Oscilloscope Laboratories, is showing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: **1/2

What the Stars Mean:

**** Excellent
*** Good
** Average
* Poor
(No stars) Worthless
(Morgan Grice is a critic for Bloomberg News in New York. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of the story: Morgan Grice in New York at mgrice@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: September 19, 2008 12:58 EDT

`No Man Can Eat 50 Eggs' -- save for Paul Newman

"Do you eat eggs every DAY????" asks the new roommate.

"Oh, well, [chuckle, chuckle] yes -- I guess so ... but [choke on words, choke, choke] ... BUT I try to keep it healthy."

"I know, I know, only one yolk per four eggs," she offers as she steps over me to head to the hallway (we're stealing Internet from the guys next door ... they gave us permission!) . I wish I could zip my lips so as to hide this egg habit. But, I've never liked the taste of yolks. It feels like some medium between being healthy and wasteful (Mexican mother Grice would have me drink the yolks straight from their source if she had her way, it would seem.)

Sooooo, reminds me of my favorite premise for a bet:

"My boy said he could eat 50 eggs? He can eat 50 eggs." That resolve, so convincing.

Morgan and Bueller See `Art'

On Friday, one of my best friend's and I went to the member's preview of some Van Gogh exhibit (excuse my flippancy, she knows how I am with art matters) -- and as we walked around the MoMA, I oscillated between apologizing for myself for previous moments at Contemporary Arts' walks at the Whitney (where she works), and being wowed by what was before me.

What she pointed out at the moment, and later, was how I took to describing things. I don't describe in an adult, mature description -- it was, "Oooohhhh, so you mean how in Ferris Bueller, when they're in the Chicago art museum ... that was Monet and pointilism, right? This looks [referring to the Van Gogh piece in front of us] similar. Is it from the same time?" She looked at me curiously, and (rightly) scolded me for the comment, and said that it was between periods.

It made me understand how I relate my real-life moments with movies.

She brought up the instance when we were talking with other friends who know tons more than I about art, and she said it was thoughtful. Guess it made me feel like my faux-pas was forgiven. Also reminded me that I ought to branch out a bit and stop living life through movie quotes.

To bring up the real reason to write about this all is to remind us of this scene, such a great one. I don't really care for the love-y scenes pre-00:25, but the screen shots with Cameron and the canvas are just too good to be forgotten.

`I want my $200!!' ...

`But I don't have it,' he says. 'Theeeeeeen GET IT,' she says.

I couldn’t sleep last night. That would seem to be a problem, but belief in silver-linings is a powerful thing.

“Paper Moon” has been a favorite film of mine since I was toddling around as a 5 or 6-year-old movie-dependent little person. I must’ve driven my family crazy back then, as PM was up there with Ferris Bueller and Christmas Story in terms of repeat viewings. I repeated at 6 a.m. this morning, while I was tossing and turning.

Ryan and Tatum O’Neal star as a Depression-era duo of con artists. (Perhaps the economic environment subconsciously drove me to it.) The two are kin in real-life (“kin” being the old-timey term thrown out often in the film, so it’s on the brain), who have ridden through headlines and suffered controversies that make their starring together all the more poignant –- or, perhaps, painful, given their on-screen chemistry and considerable off-screen conflicts.

We open with a funeral scene, Addie Loggins’ (Tatum) mother’s burial. The movie’s shot in black and white (though the film came out in the 70s), lending it a vintage authority and making you notice the care in shots’ aspects a little more earnestly.

Moses Pray shows up at the funeral. He’s come to pay respect to a woman he met in a bar room. After he’s come chugging up to the site, the neighbor ladies ask if he has any relation to Addie, with whom they see some resemblance. He says there isn’t a chance, and he needs to head to Missouri because of his Bible business (Moses sells Bibles to unassuming customers, widows he reads about in the newspaper who are willing to pay him for premium Bibles that their dead husbands supposedly bought them).

As it turns out, Addie’s only known relative lives in Missouri, so he’s talked into taking her with him.

She quickly picks up the Bible-peddling business.

We learn how Addie’s mother died in an accident involving a VIP’s drunken-driver run into a tree. Moses gets $200 (yes, two hundred) to keep it under wraps. But the precocious, astute Addie overhears how he got the $200 and confronts him in my favorite scene in all of movie history.

We meet Trixie Delight at a carnival, and Moses starts averting his attention to her, much to Addie’s dismay. We find that she’s got the bladder the size of “a peanut” (a problem, considering Moses and Addie are on the road all day long) –- another of my favorite scenes.

I don’t know, it’s simply one of my most re-watchable movies. References to Jack Benny abound, you hear someone be characterized as “that little white speck on top of ol’ chicken shit,” and your heart warms. Watch it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Petite Petit Tight Ropes His Way Into My Icy Heart

I'd been wanting to see the documentary Man on Wire ever since it was featured on The Very Short List some weeks ago. Foreseeing friends' skepticism of a story about an eccentric, tight-rope-walking Frenchman, I found myself seated alone last week in the great cavernous basement of Sunshine Cinema.

Philippe Petit, the subject and narrator of the film, wends his way through his own history as a rope-walker who had the foresight to film much of the machinations behind his ultimate walk 1350 ft. in the air between the World Trade Center towers. Throughout the movie, 59-year-old Petit talks in present-day about his steel-trap memories of the heist he and his friends pulled off back in 1974, while sharing time with his own home videos of the feat. It's one of the most well done documentary-cum-feature films I've ever seen.

A 17-year-old Petit was sitting in the reception room of his local dentist, rifling through the waiting room's offerings of reading material. He came across a tabloid's expose on the unbuilt Towers. He decided, then and there, that it was his ... ahem ... "calling." -- It sounds silly to think of it that way, but we all must hand it to the guy - set your mind to something (crazy) and that you will achieve. My favorite part of the whole MoW endeavor might've been the experience.

I saw it alone - which, for me, is almost as novel as saying I put one leg before another and walked upright. But! I saw it at Sunshine Cinemas -- it's like a little Nirvana for Grice. It's one of my favorite theaters, always reminding me of my first days in New York in 2001, when I'd sit in Washington Sq. Park hoping some NYU kid would come talk to me; when that didn't happen (such naivete) , I'd stroll over to Sunshine or the Angelika or Village East Cinema and watch whatever little-known film was on the docket. It was in those days that I discovered some of my favorites -- life wasn't the same after Old Boy (so twisted!), La Mala Educacion (so vile!) and so many, many more -- as well as my ability to ignore sympathetic looks when I enter the theater alone, or mention that I did to a friend. MoW reminds me that those discoveries won't diminish in value.

A Righteous Whatnot

Pacino, De Niro Swagger Through Predictable NYC Cop Thriller

Review by Morgan Grice
Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Al Pacino and Robert De Niro haven't co-starred in a cop flick since their gritty 1995 thriller, ``Heat.'' Fans who have eagerly awaited their reunion won't find ``Righteous Kill'' from director Jon Avnet nearly as satisfying.

Veteran New York police detectives Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) demonstrate an almost-synchronized swagger to let us know they've been partners since the start of time.

Turk is the hothead, whose erratic temper compels him to do questionable but permissible things, like kick a seedy drug- dealer named Spider (rapper Curtis Jackson, or ``50 Cent'') repeatedly in the ribs. Rooster is his ever-loyal counterpart, with a man-of-faith ethos that balances his partner's impulsiveness.

All in all, they're good guys, two men who have given their life to each other and to the force, serving and protecting with a solid belief in the law.

As we've learned in countless cop flicks, though, the law isn't always just, and good cops aren't always squeaky clean. Very early on, we see that the duo's loyalty extends to covering up for a little bad-cop behavior. It's just the first in a string of shameless predictabilities.

Soon, the story turns to a serial killer who goes after the city's most worthless dregs after they've managed to slip through the system. At each murder site, he leaves a poem, a useless urban ditty explaining why the victim had to die. There's not much suspense here, particularly since a hooded De Niro confesses to killing some 14 people in a grainy, black-and-white monologue early on in the movie. There aren't enough skillful twists and turns to make this work.

Aging Broncos

When the two aging broncos fail to capture the poet- vigilante, the precinct's brass assigns two junior detectives (John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg) to help on the case. With a little poking around -- and the (un)stunning revelation that all the victims have some tie or another to the co-stars -- the probe quickly becomes an internal investigation.

The two young mavericks start sticking their noses where they don't belong; Turk and Rooster are sent to a shrink, and after a series of club, drug and sex scenes set to blaring music, you're more than ready for the twist you've seen coming since the start.

For their part, Leguizamo and Wahlberg give solid performances as the shafted partners whose avid rule-playing exposes their young-cop naivete.

Carla Gugino plays a sexy forensic detective who is De Niro's rough, naughty lover; she has little appeal as a character beyond her beauty. And Brian Dennehy plays the hard-nosed lieutenant who appears now and then to give the boys some tough love.

Granted, De Niro and Pacino have undeniable chemistry and experience in the genre, giving us some enjoyable moments of clever, vulgar banter and nostalgic talk of the days when their duty brought them reverence instead of disgust. Still, a little novelty would be appreciated.

``Righteous Kill'' from Overture Films opens today across the U.S. Rating: (*1/2)

What the Stars Mean:

**** Excellent
*** Good
** Average
* Poor
(No stars) Worthless
(Morgan Grice is a critic for Bloomberg News in New York. The opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the writer of this story: Morgan Grice in New York at mgrice@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: September 12, 2008 00:01 EDT