Sunday, May 17, 2009

Give it a rest already!!!

I want to say thanks to everyone who actually reads this blog and participates by voting on the poll question. (By the way, Tom Cruise's "biggest waste of time movie" was a tie between MI3 and Vanilla Sky. Personally, I thought MI2 was the biggest waste of time)

I am taking a break from the blog for a month or so. It will be a busy time as I relocate across the country. If you get a hankerin' for this joint you can always peruse the archives where I take jabs and opine on many topics. And as usual I give my two and a half cents on all kinds of movies. Thanks again. I'm out!!

(let me leave you with something to ponder...)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Top Ten Film Villains

(Bill Cosby wins "favorite black stand-up comic" in the latest poll)

Before I get into the list I need to mention some great villains NOT on the list. Some honorable mention has to be given to the three most popular and famous villains in movie history- Darth Vader, The Wicked Witch of the West, and Hannibal Lecter. I realize not including them may be against movie tradition, but none of them are as compelling to me as the ten I chose.

First off, Margaret Hamilton, like other actors was a very sweet woman in real life, but playing the famous witch sort of ruined her film career. Every child who saw her from then on was terrified of her.

I love the character of Darth Vader BEFORE the prequels, then that kind of put a damper on the whole thing, thus he doesn't make my list.

Hannibal Lecter is a fascinating character especially when played by Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, but I haven't seen any of the other incarnations (besides Brian Cox as the original Hannibal in Manhunter) and I don't intend to so I don't feel qualified enough to include him.

Other greats not included are all women...and one robot. Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington in the 1950 Best Picture winner All About Eve is one power-hungry, ruthless biatch! And I've seen Anne Baxter play much nicer roles so she was pretty good as the heavy. Glenn Close as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction is also pretty crazy. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Misery may be the scariest and nuttiest of them all. And the robot...HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey barely missed making my list.

So here we go:

10. Phyllis Dietrichson- Double Indemnity
played by Barbara Stanwyck

The first truly great femme fatale in film history and still probably the best to me, although Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction is pretty despicable.

9. Dr. Szell- Marathon Man
played by Lawrence Olivier

Few things in life are scarier than a Nazi dentist....played by one the greatest actors of all time!

8. Mr. Potter- It's a Wonderful Life

One of the silver screen's ultimate baddies played to perfection by the legendary Lionel Barrymore.

7. Jack Torrance- The Shining
played by Jack Nicholson

What a character. I find myself laughing in parts, but the transformation of Torrance from a loving Dad to an axe murderer is grisly and one of Nicholson's best.

6. Nurse Ratched- One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
played by Louise Fletcher

From one Nicholson classic to another. The character we so love to hate in Cuckoo's Nest was played by a very heart-warming woman who used sign language in honor of her deaf parents when she received her Oscar for Best Actress.

5. Amon Goeth- Schindler's List
played by Ralph Fiennes

The most evil character on this list because he was a real Nazi who took sadistic pleasure in killing Jews. He's played chillingly well by a virtual unknown at the time, Ralph Fiennes.

4. Reverend Harry Powell- Night of the Hunter
played by Robert Mitchum

Mitchum played a classic villain in Cape Fear named Max Cady. That guy was a menace but he never dressed up as a preacher, killed his new bride, and then hunted down her children for hidden treasure. This is Mitchum's best film and one of my favorites.

3. Anton Chigurgh- No Country For Old Men
played by Javier Bardem

Bardem won an Oscar for his portrayal of the coldest killer ever seen on film. He is unfazed by his thirst for death which makes you fear for anyone who comes in contact with him. Excellent character.

2. Bill the Butcher- Gangs of New York
played by Daniel-Day Lewis

I have said before that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest living actor and this role is one of the reasons. I love this character. He makes the film. It is his complexity which makes him far more compelling than your typical bad guy. You find yourself admiring him even though he is a ruthless killer and an intolerant jerk. The best movie villain in the last twenty years for my money.

1. Norman Bates- Psycho
played by Anthony Perkins

Still the king of movie villains for my money. Like Bill the Butcher I find myself sympathizing with his character. I almost don't want him to get caught. That is good writing and good acting. I think Anthony Perkins could have been one of the all time great actors if he hadn't played Bates and become swallowed up by that role. He never escaped it.

What movie villains do you think I should have mentioned?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Best and Worst Sports Commentators ME. I watch a lot of sports as some of you know and since I am forced in many cases to listen to either expert analysis or gratuitous bloviation I would like to give my two cents about the best and worst in sports commentary.


1. Al Michaels- NBC NFL Football

Over the past few years the team of Al and John Madden has been, for my money, the best in sports. It is sad that Madden is hanging it up and Chris Collinsworth (who almost made my list of the worst) is replacing him. Al is the best play-by-play guy in the biz to me. He is professional and knowledgeable. And who will ever forget his impromptu "Do you believe in miracles?!!" when the U.S. hockey team beat Russia at the 1980 Winter Olympics?

2. Joe Buck- Fox NFL Football

If Michaels and Madden are the best, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Fox Sundays are a close second. Joe has the genes for great sports commentary. His father Jack, longtime voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, was also one of the greatest.

3. Verne Lundquist- CBS College Football and PGA Golf

"The Golden Throat", as he's known, is my favorite play-by-play guy for college football. He currently does all of the SEC games on CBS on fall Saturdays. Nobody on any network comes close. He's made many memorable calls in his career including a few in Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore.

4. Suzy Kolber - ESPN Monday Night Football sideline reporter

An intoxicated Joe Namath infamously said, TWICE, during a live interview that he wanted to kiss Suzy . But I don't blame him. She's the best female in sports television to me. She never stumbles over words, is always cheery and obviously very smart. I thought when they moved Monday Night Football to ESPN from ABC the only thing they got that outclassed NBC's new Sunday Night was the ladies on the sideline: Suzy and Michelle Tafoya. Actually I think they do a better job than the three men in the booth and I like Mike Tirico.

5. Eli Gold - The voice of Alabama football, plus NASCAR and Arena football.

Okay, so I'm showing some bias here. Fact is I never get to hear Eli anymore because I don't live in Alabama but when I could I thought he was the best radio play-by-play I'd ever heard. He could have been an auctioneer he talks so fast but he never misses anything. He can tell a joke in the middle of a play and still give you every single detail on the field. He did a bunch of hockey early in his career. The fast pace of that sport probably attributes to his skill.


1. Billy Packer - CBS College Basketball Color Analyst

Few people have made my blood boil during a sports broadcast like Billy Packer. He comes across as an arrogant, big-mouth who never fails to let his personal opinions tarnish his color commentary. Lots of announcers will say things like "if I were the coach right now I would do this..." or " Coach X is probably saying this" or "coach X should do this". Billy Packer says "Coach X IS saying this right now" as though he's clairvoyant or has a hidden mike in the coach's pocket. Like Miss Cleo, Billy just knows .
Once during the national championship between Florida and Michigan State when MSU star Mateen Cleaves went out with an injury, Packer wouldn't shut up about how amazing Cleaves was. When Cleaves was about to come back onto the floor I thought Packer was going to faint with awe: "This crowd is going to erupt!" he prophesied. How about calling the game impartially rather than become a cheerleading prognosticator? No, that would be far too dignified for Billy!

2. Joe Morgan- ESPN MLB Color Analyst

Where's the mute button on this remote? Don't get me wrong. I know Joe Morgan was one of the greatest offensive baseball players of all time. I know Joe Morgan KNOWS his baseball. And that's just the problem. He knows so much he can't shut up. I get ear fatigue when Joe's commentating. You remember what you used to say as a kid when someone told you they had diarrhea or something? That's right, "Too much information!" That's Joe. Baseball minutae overload!

3. Dick Button- Figure skating color analyst

This guy could take a tip from Thumper's Mommy and Daddy. And his own Mommmy and Daddy sure gave him the right name! I find it curious that the one event at the Winter Olympics that gets the most hype, figure skating, is the one with the most critical, negative analyst of them all. He leaves casual observers with the impression that not only should none of the competitors get a medal they should be thrown from the building for sullying the artistry of the triple axel...whatever the heck that is!

4. Tim McCarver- Fox MLB color analyst

Like Joe Morgan (maybe it's a baseball thing) McCarver loves to hear himself talk. He overanalyzes everthing. And like Billy Packer he has no problem voicing his personal opinions about players and everything else as though we really care. He has annoyed me during the World Series on several occasions. He reminds you of a drunk at a bar who thinks you need to hear his comments on life. No thanks, fella, I gotta game to watch here, mmmkay? Look up the word "bloviate" in the dictionary and there's probably a picture of Tim.

5. Joe Thiesmann- NFL color analyst

There's a reason this guy is no longer doing games on ESPN or anywhere else. He just seems cranky when he covers a game. Hey Joe, get yourself a strong cup-o-joe, you're making me ill! He also ain't too bright. He once said, "The word 'genius' isn't applicable to football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein". Brilliant.

(Salsa is the condiment you can't live without in the latest poll)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rock 'N Roll poll results

Greatest band name goes to The Rolling Stones.

In a decisive victory Stevie Nicks is the greatest female lead singer.

The most overplayed, burned-out classic rock song is a tie between Stairway To Heaven and Sweet Home Alabama.