Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Awards

Story Of The Year:  Navy Seals take down Osama Bin Laden.  A lightning strike, but the culmination of years, and the end of an era.

Non-story Of The Year:  The "new civility" everyone was talking about for a while. Of course, this was all about shutting up people you disagree with while you get to say whatever you want.  No one bought it, needless to say.

To Be Continued Story: The Arab Spring. Needs more seasoning.

Trend Of The Year:  The death of bad guys--Bin Laden, Awlaki, Gaddafi, Kim Jong Il, to name the big ones. Runner-up:  Rioting.

Master Of Logic Award: (Not that it matters, but Biden's numbers are wrong.)



Biggest Future Flashpoint:  The European Union (beating Iran, Syria and North Korea).

Most Overhyped Story:  Occupy Wall Street.  It's a real story, but the attention it got--including the hopes and dreams so many writers invested in it--was out of proportion.

Story That Generated The Best Headlines: Anything with Anthony Weiner.

Biggest Disaster:



Can't Make Up Their Mind Award:  To the Iowa caucus voters, who at various times have loved Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.  Get a grip, guys.

Winner Of The Year: Gabrielle Giffords. It was a horrible year, but she still ended up a winner.

Loser Of The Year: Joe Paterno. What a way to go. (Yes, I know what the real tragedy was.)

Crowd Control Award:



Apocalypse Now Award:  Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, predicted the Rapture on May 21.  When nothing happened, he claimed there'd been a judgment that day but the actual Rapture would be on October 21. Still waiting.

Sunniest Story:  Solyndra

Only Two People Know For Sure Award: The Dominique Strauss-Kahn story

Biggest Unforced Error:



Least Impressive Debut:  After years of waiting, the numbers for Simon Cowell's X Factor can't compare to American Idol.

Biggest Celebrity Meltdown:  With his Tiger Blood and Adonis DNA, is there any queston Charlie Sheen is Winning this award?  He even took his meltdown on the road. Not even Lindsay Lohan could compete.

Wedding Of The Year:  Kate and William.

Divorce of The Year:  Demi Moore and Bruce Willis made sense, but Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher?  So a six-year marriage beat the odds.  I don't know why they're splitting up, but maybe Ashton figured out in 2012 she becomes a Demi-century.

Song Of The Year:  What cracks me up was how harshly this song was attacked as if it were somehow significantly worse than so many others on the charts.


No Replacement

Paul Westerberg was born on the last day of the 1950s.  He's written plenty of good music, though I still like his days with The Replacements best.



End Of Year Music

This final day of the year happens to be the birthday of Jule Styne.  A top Broadway tunesmith, I've heard he was sort of a Damon Runyon character in real life.  Stephen Sondheim, who worked with him on Gypsy, said he was an exuberantly confident font of melody.





Friday, December 30, 2011

Thirty Years Ago Today

Jesse Walker is up (or down) to 1981 in his top ten film lists:

1. Coup de Torchon
2. The Decline...of Western Civilization
3. Blow Out
4. Lola
5. Mephisto
6. Gallipoli
7. Time Bandits
8. Polyester
9. Modern Romance
10. Ms.45

A fine list.  They might not all be in my top ten, but I like them all except for Blow Out.  I'm aware that many find this one of De Palma's best, but aside from the fact he's copying Antonioni in addition to Hitchcock, I'm not sure what this film has going for it.

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Vernon, Florida
12. America is Waiting
13. Pixote
14. Das Boot
15. Pennies from Heaven
16. Tango
17. Junkopia
18. Crac
19. Gregory's Girl
20. Smothering Dreams

Haven't seen 16, 17, 18 and 20, but I like the rest, except for Pennies From Heaven, which I consider a pretentious disaster (and it's not a disaster because it's pretentious, it's bad in general).

Jesse ignores a lot of highly regarded films from that year, including Chariots Of Fire, On Golden Pond and The French Lieutenant's Woman, and I have to agree with these omissions.  (That reminds me--when I saw it, they stopped COF in the middle so police could check to see if an escaped criminal was in the theatre--that was actually pretty exciting.)  On the other hand, I thought Reds was pretty good, and it would probably make an honorable mention for me.

There were also some mainstreem successes that would make my list:

An American Werewolf in London

Arthur

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Stripes

I mght also throw in Taxi Zum Klo.  I haven't seen it in a long time, but it certainly made an impression.

Other films of interest:

Absence of Malice,  All Night Long, ...All the Marbles, The Amateur, American Pop,  Body Heat,,The Cannonball Run, Cattle Annie and Little Britches, Clash of the Titans, Continental Divide, Cutter's Way,  Diva, Dragonslayer, Escape From New York, The Evil Dead, Excalibur, Eye of the Needle, Fort Apache, The Bronx, The Four Seasons, Ghost Story, The Great Muppet Caper, Heartbeeps, Heavy Metal, History of the World, Part I, The Hit, Honky Tonk Freeway, The Howling, The Incredible Shrinking Woman,
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, Lili Marleen, Mad Max 2, Mommie Dearest, My Bloody Valentine, My Dinner with Andre, Neighbors, Nice Dreams, Outland, Prince of the City, Private Lessons, Puberty Blues, Quest for Fire, Ragtime, Rich and Famous, S.O.B., Scanners, Sharky's Machine, Shock Treatment, Southern Comfort, They All Laughed, Thief, This Is Elvis, Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man, Wolfen, Zorro, The Gay Blade

Big Production

Happy birthday, Jeff Lynne. He was the main creative force behind ELO.  The band started as a fusion of rock and classical, but they moved beyond that into a pop-rock band with less pretension but heavy production from Lynne.



Lynne had been influenced by the Beatles, and in 1987 he helped put George Harrison back on top by producing his #1 hit "Got My Mind Set On You":



This led to the Traveling Wilburys, with Lynne, Harrison and Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. Too often supergroups are less than the sum of their part, but this one really rocked. A lot of the credit goes to Lynne, whose production helped put it over the top.

Not Ready To Retire

Happy 65th, Patti Smith.



Dig That Organ Solo

Happy birthday to Michigan boy Del Shannon.  He had his greatest success in the first half of the 60s. He enjoyed comeback moments in the 70s and 80s, but, suffering from depression, shot himself in 1990.

He was bigger in Britain than America, with a string of top ten hits.  Over here, he didn't have a lot of hits, but he had one big one--"Hats Off To Larry." I'm kidding (and making a reference to a Richard Lewis joke no one knows), even though "Larry" did go to #5.  But his big hit, which sounds as great today as it did then, was "Runaway."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mair

My favorite sitcom star, Mary Tyler Moore, turns 75 today.  She was the perfect wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show and the perfect co-worker on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.





I could pick so many great moments from MTM I hardly know where to start. In fact, here's my planned tribute.





The New Mary Tyler Moore?

Alison Brie turns 29 today. Like Mary Tyler Moore, she seems older in the 1960s. (Unfortunately, for some reason I can't embed Mad Men scenes).

Anyway, our little Annie from Community is growing up.







It's Official

The National Film Registry has just selected 25 more titles.  You know what that means--the book I bought last year with essays on each NFR film is now dated.

Anyway, here's the list, with old and new, familiar names and experimental works.

Allures (1961)

Bambi (1942)

The Big Heat (1953)

A Computer Animated Hand (1972)

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963)

The Cry of Children (1912)

A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)

El Mariachi (1992)

Faces (1968)

Fruit Cake Factory (1985) .

Forrest Gump (1994)

Growing Up Female (1971)

Hester Street (1975)

I, an Actress (1977)

The Iron Horse (1924)

The Kid (1921)

The Lost Weekend (1945)

The Negro Soldier (1944)

Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-1940s)

Norma Rae (1979)

Porgy and Bess (1959)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Stand and Deliver (1988)

Twentieth Century (1934)

War of the Worlds (1953)

I wouldn't criticize the selections, since it's regarding our film heritage and the titles can be as much about historical significance as artistry or entertainment value.

Looking over it, I see there's one from Chaplin, one from Hawks, one from Disney, one from Wilder. Good.  Always room for more of their films. There's also Lang's Big Heat--surprised it hasn't made it already.

Some of the more modern titles--Norma Rae, The Silence Of The Lambs, Forrest Gump--aren't my favorites, but were and are well regarded enough (and big enough hits) that I understand them making the list. For that matter, I find Faces--like a lot of Cassavetes--hard to sit through.  But I recognize he was in the forefront, doing something different (even if it wasn't always worth doing).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tough Girls

Happy birthday, Mary Weiss.  She was the lead singer of The Shangri-Las.  They charted a handful of times from 1964 to 1966 (all while Mary and the others were teenagers), and are best known for "Leader Of The Pack" and "Remember (Walking In The Sand)."

But maybe my favorite numbers of theirs is a B-side, a classic in the masochistic world of girl groups, "Easier To Cry."  Even the cruddy production adds to the drama.

Re-Generation

Jesse Walker has chosen his top films from 20 years ago.  Here's the top ten with my comments below.

1. The Rapture

2. Hearts of Darkness

3. Homicide

4. Raise the Red Lantern

5. Prime Suspect

6. Blooper Bunny

7. Tribulation 99

8. JFK

9. Slacker

10. Point Break

A mixed bag.  I'll give The Rapture points for being odd, and for taking its chosen culture seriously, but I wouldn't even say it's a good film, and I think the ending is silly.

Hearts Of Darkness is a fine documentary (and I met the directors on separate occasions).

I consider David Mamet's career as a film director almost entirely a washout, and, like many of his films, Homicide starts well but gets worse as it goes along.

Raise The Red Lantern is a fine film--one of Yimou's best.

Prime Suspect is a TV show, not a movie.  Blooper Bunny is a short, and far from Bug's best.  Never saw Tribulation 99.

JFK is probably Oliver Stone's best film, though I consider it a comedy.

Slacker is fun, but, like the title, not all it could be.

I have friends who consider Point Break a classic.  I considered it a disjointed film with some great sequences.

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Delicatessen
12. Blood in the Face
13. The Double Life of Veronique
14. Little Man Tate
15. Dogfight
16. Like Water for Chocolate
17. Thanksgiving Prayer
18. The Silence of the Lambs
19. Flirting
20. Highway Patrolman

Delicatessen was a cool film.  Didn't see Blood In The Face.  I like but don't love The Double Life Of Veronique.  Don't think that much of Little Man Tate or Dogfight.  Like Like Water For ChocolateThanksgiving Prayer is a short. The Silence Of The Lambs--only the third film to win the top five Oscars--strikes me as a passable murder mystery, and when Anthony Hopkins isn't on screen, maybe not even that.  Flirting I liked.  Highway Patrolman is another example of the disappointing career of Alex Cox.

There were a lot of films though highly of in 1991 that Jesse didn't select.  Among them:

Barton Fink, Beauty And The Beast, Boyz N The Hood (1991 was the year of the black filmmaker, and this was the debut that made the biggest splash), Bugsy, The Fisher King, Thelma & Louise

Then there were a lot of films I thought highly of in 1991 that didn't make Jesse's top twenty.  Here are some that probably would have made my list.

Armour of God II: Operation Condor -- One of Jackie Chan's best

City of Hope -- One of John Sayles' best

Defending Your Life -- I was disappointed at first because it wasn't as good as Albert Brooks' last, Lost In America, but what is?  Has held up well

Europa (aka Zentropa)

Life Is Sweet --I know Jesse doesn't go for Mike Leigh, but this would be a good place to start for a reconsideration

Once Upon a Time in China -- Lots of good films coming out of HK around this time, often in series, and this is the first of one of the best series.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day -- Cameron is one of the best action directors ever

Other films of interest:

The Addams Family (funny and looks beautiful), At Play in the Fields of the Lord, La Belle Noiseuse (okay, too long), Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (not quite as good as the first), Black Robe, Cape Fear, Career Opportunities, A Chinese Ghost Story III, Chuck Amuck: The Movie, City Slickers, The Commitments, Dead Again, The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (it's a short, but Jesse picks shorts), Doc Hollywood, The Doctor, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, The Doors (Stone had two films out this year, and this almost matches JFK as a fever dream), Fried Green Tomatoes, The Gambling Ghost, Hot Shots!, The Hours and Times, Hudson Hawk (better than everyone says, though it would have to be), The Indian Runner, Jungle Fever (like so much Spike Lee, a jumble, but the good parts--especially Samuel L. Jackson--are quite something), Kafka, L.A. Story, The Last Boy Scout, Let Him Have It, Madonna: Truth or Dare, Mediterraneo, Meet the Applegates, My Own Private Idaho (Jesse picks Van Sant's short and ignores his feature), Mystery Date, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, Naked Lunch, New Jack City, Night on Earth, Nothing but Trouble, The Object of Beauty, Only the Lonely, Oscar, Pizza Man, The Quarrel, A Rage in Harlem, The Rocketeer, Salmonberries, The Sandman, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Shadows and Fog, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Toto the Hero, Tous les Matins du Monde, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Until the End of the World, Waiting, What About Bob?, Year of the Gun

PS  Jesse has seen this post, realized Zentropa was released in 1991, and added it to his list at #14.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Amazing Left Hand, And The Right's Not Bad Either

It's the birthday of Earl "Fatha" Hines.  He was a major force in early jazz, playing piano for Louis Armstrong, and continued on for many years, becoming a bandleader on his own.





Couch Collection

Top movies of 2011 lists are appearing all over the place. Some time next month, when I'm caught up with the December releases, I'll post my annual film year wrap-up.  Critics are also posting the best television of 2011, but I won't because even though I watch a fair amount of TV (too much), I'm not a paid TV critic who has to sample everything.  And TV, unlike movies, often requires more than one viewing to appreciate something.

Still, I figured I'd put up the TV list over at the AV Club, coming from the combined votes of all their critics, and comment on it. Here's their top 30 in reverse order:

30.  Sons Of Anarchy

Don't watch it. It sounds like one of those shows, such as The Shield, that is decent but I'm never gonna check out unless someone buys me the DVD set.

29.  Raising Hope

I liked My Name Is Earl and this seems like a redo.  One friend told me it's the show Earl wishes it was, but the few times I've checked it out I didn't get into it.

27   (tie) The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

What he does he does well, but I only like it for comedy's sake (and then only occasionally)--it's scary that anyone would watch this to be better informed.

27.  (tie) Men Of A Certain Age

Another show I couldn't get into and now that it's gone I never will.

26.  Parenthood

Haven't watched it.

25.  Childrens Hospital 

Seen a few episodes. Frenetic and never quite as funny as I'd like, but not bad.  (Not as good as Robot Chicken, if you have to pick a 15-minute comedy.)  It was fun to see the Party Down reunion.

24.  It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

I've seen a few episode and find the characters more annoying than humorous.  Maybe I should give it another chance.

23.  30 Rock

Poor 30 Rock.  It displaced The Office as the critics' darling, but now Modern Family gets all the awards.  Still worth checking out, but seems to be on its downward arc.

22.  The Vampire Diaries

I don't really want to watch a series about vampires. (I prefer zombies and don't even watch the zombie show.)

21.  Cougar Town

Watched it a bit in the first season, didn't go for it.  It supposedly has gotten better, but when I checked I couldn't tell.  A charming cast, but not great material. I like it best as a reference on Community.

20.  Boardwalk Empire

One of the more overpraised show.  Looks great, but the drama isn't that compelling, and once you get to know the characters most of them aren't that interesting.  Still, I often check it out so there must be something beyond my need to justify the cable bill.

19.  Curb Your Enthusiasm

Can still be very funny, though this season was spotty.

18.  Misfits

Don't watch it.

17.  Treme

I've given this chance after chance, but it's unwatchable.  I like the music, but I don't watch a show for its soundtrack.  Critics give it way too much credit--just because David Simon created The Wire doesn't mean everything he does is great.

16.  Fringe

Watched it a bit during the first season, but didn't get into it.  My sf friends say give it a second chance, but maybe it's too late.

15.  Bob's Burgers

Really?  Got a shot in the Sunday night animation line-up, and it seemed to be a minor, not especially good, comedy.  Family Guy and The Simpsons have been around so long they no longer make these lists, but I still prefer them.  I even prefer Allen Gregory, which may be weak but is at least supremely bizarre.

14.  Happy Endings

This has been getting some critical attention lately, and I'm flabbergasted. It represents what's most wrong with sitcoms today--young hipsters ironically commenting on their lives as they go by.

13.  Downton Abbey

Didn't watch it, but it's being repeated now and with all those Emmys I'll give it a shot.

12.  Mildred Pierce

Impressive design, and did stick more closely to the novel than the melodramatic movie, but sort of a snooze.

11.  Archer

Didn't watch it.

10.  Enlightened

Didn't like the pilot and haven't been back.  Critics seem to say it's something, and it'd be easy to check out, but I'm still doubtful. (Still better than The Big C, at least.)

9.   The Good Wife

Another highly-praised show I missed out on.  Maybe I'll buy the first season for myself as a Hannukah gift and see what all the talk is about.

8.   Friday Night Lights

From the way the critics talked you'd think this was another Sopranos or something.  I watched it a few times and didn't come back.

7.  Homeland

Best new show of the season.

6.  Game Of Thrones

Second best new show, though there seems to be a lot of time spent with various parties maneuvering.  Okay, you've maneuvered, now do something.

5.  Justified

Friends and critics rave.  Guess I'll have to get this DVD too. (These days I prefer to watch hour-longs from the start.)

4.  Community

My favorite sitcom.  Please give them one more year to graduate.

3.  Breaking Bad

Made the top of a lot of lists, so surprised to see it only third.  I thought the fourth season wasn't quite as good as the previous seasons, but was still easily better than any other drama out there.  (No Mad Men this year, I see.)

2.  Parks And Recreation

Okay, it started weak and has become fairly reliable, but let's not overstate how good it is.

1.  Louie

One of the more intriguing comedies.  Louis C. K. attempts things no one else will, and even if it doesn't always work, you never know if you might see something brilliant.  Maybe rated a bit high, but should be up there.

There are a lot of omissions here, but the most surprising is Modern Family, which keeps winning Best Comedy Emmys. It's also a damn fine show.  Is it now cool for hip critics to overlook it?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Say Your Prayers

As we celebrate the afterglow of Christmas, let's not forget about the dark side, as exemplified by today's birthday boy, Lars Ulrich of Metallica.

It's A Phil Spector World

It's Phil Spector's birthday (according to some).  Okay, the creator of the Wall Of Sound is inside four walls these days.  But I hope, right now, lying on his bunk, he can look out the barred windows and remember the great Christmas music he made.





Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yule Enjoy This

Snuggle up near the monitor and enjoy this lovely Yule log.  It generates as much heat as the light bulbs you'll be required to buy soon.

Merry Melodies

Nothing is better than Christmas music (around Christmas time--by January, time to move on).

First, we need a little Mitzi:



As long as we're in the mood, let's have some more skating music.



If you can't skate, there are others ways to get around:



Let's slow it down and say goodbye.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fallowble

Here's a blog post from James Fallows. It's entitled "A Brilliant Doonesbury Today" and reproduces that Doonesbury and then notes he, Fallows, agrees.  This is pretty big news--someone is still reading Doonesbury.

The "brilliant" strip is yet another piece where Gary Trudeau reminds us he opposes the Iraq War. It's three panels of a professor lecturing his students (actually us) on what Trudeau believes and ends with his patented anticlimax gag.

The joke is based on two odd premises.  First, that Iraq was "the biggest foreign policy disaster in U.S. history." I can see how people might still argue if the war was a good idea or not, but it's just childish to claim that nothing worse has ever happened in our history.  I suppose, though, within the Trudeau/Fallows axis, that's a matter of faith (or Feith).

Second, it's stated no one has taken responsibility for it--Trudeau even provides names, so we won't forget.  This, apparently, is the part that Fallows thinks is brilliant, since he quotes Trudeau on the point and simply adds "correct." (Glad he did, or I would have thought the whole post was a burn on Trudeau.)

I honestly don't understand what Trudeau is saying.  The names he mentions--Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith and others--have all written books where they discuss the war and their part in it.  So has Trudeau not heard about these books, or is he miffed that they refuse to claim it's the disaster he thinks it is and take full responsibility?

I'm not sure what's more bizarre--the Trudeau comic or that Fallows thought he needed to reproduce it just to say he agrees.  But posts like this do help explain why he won't allow comments.

PS  In the list of "architects of Bush's War," Trudeau doesn't bother to mention the man most responsible--Bush himself. I guess the President merely being a puppet is another one of those beliefs that Trudeau and Fallows share.

Get Your Ya Yas Out

Happy birthday, Lee Dorsey.  He only had two top ten hits, but they're both a lot of fun:



Friday, December 23, 2011

Can You See Jose?

It's Jose Greco's birthday.  I'd call him the most famous flamenco dancer since he's the only one I can think of.



Whenever I watch flamenco I'm always reminded of Lenny Bruce's line about how it's an art form wherein a dancer applauds his own ass.

List-o-mania

It's that time of year.  My friend Jesse Walker is making a list of the top ten films...of every year that ends with a 1, except 2011, since it's too early.

His first entry is 2001.

1. Mulholland Drive
2. Spirited Away
3. Y Tu Mamá También
4. Sex and Lucia
5. The Man Who Wasn't There
6. Donnie Darko
7. The Office
8. Waking Life
9. Lantana
10. The Pledge

Mulholland Drive may be the best film of the decade, so it deserves the top spot.  Spirited Away is as good as anything Miyazaki has done, so in most years it would deserve to be #1.

I like Y Tu Mama Tambien a lot as well.  Didn't get around to seeing Sex And Lucia.

I've talked with Jesse about The Man Who Wasn't There, which has some great stuff--everything with Tony Shalhoub--but is otherwise a weak effort by the Coens.  And I'm not in the Donnie Darko camp, either.

It's odd (as Jesse notes) to put a TV series on a movie list, even if it's a great miniseries with an arc, so I'm not sure what The Office is doing here.

Waking Life I find a bit too precious.  Might work better as something much shorter.  Lantana I liked.  The Pledge I've never seen all the way through.

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Storytelling
12. Claire
13. Amélie
14. Gosford Park
15. The Others
16. Time Out
17. Ghost World
18. What Time Is It There?
19. Ocean's Eleven
20. Hyakugojyuuichu!!

Storytelling isn't as good as Welcome To The Dollhouse or Happiness, but it's still got some power.  Didn't see Claire Amelie was fun (so much fun, in fact, there was a backlash).  The Others was a pretty good horror film.  Robert Altman doing Masterpiece Theatre wasn't my cup of tea.  Time Out was pretty good, too.  Ghost World easily deserves to be in the top ten.  Haven't seen #18 or #20.  Ocean's Eleven was almost too slick for its own good, but is still one of Hollywood's more entertaining caper films (unlike its sequels, or, for that matter, the original).

Ocean's Eleven turns out to be the only top ten hit on the list.  Jesse apparently doesn't much go for the first Harry Potter film, or the second Lord Of The Rings.  We also don't see Monsters, Inc. or Shrek, both of which are entertaining.

The big award-winning film that year was A Beautiful Mind.  I agree it's not top twenty material.  Nor are other highly regarded films, such as Monster's Ball, The Royal Tenenbaums or In The Bedroom.

But what films should maybe have made the list?

How about....

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Lovely And Amazing

Monsoon Wedding

Winged Migration

Other films of interest (if not necessarily good): 

The Anniversary Party

Avalon

CQ

Freddy Got Fingered

Haiku Tunnel

Human Nature

In Praise Of Love

Invincible

Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

Joe Somebody

Lagaan

Legally Blonde

The Mexican

One Night At McCool's

Pootie Tang

Rat Race

Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure

Shallow Hal

The Shipping News

Spy Kids

Va Savoir

Wet Hot American Summer

Zoolander

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Charlene's On Lightning

In the battle for punk rock dominance, the Clash always finished a poor third for me behind the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.  I liked them quite a bit. I just didn't think they mattered as much as they claimed.

Their lead singer, Joe Strummer, died nine years ago today, only 50 years old.  Perhaps it's hard for punkers to age gracefully, but they'd still probably rather rust than burn out.

My favorite song of theirs was their biggest mainstream success--a sign to some fans that they'd sold out.  Punk rockers could be pretty silly.

Three Out Of Four

With the exception of Curb Your Enthusiasm, there's not much to say about original half-hour programming at HBO. I've sampled stuff like Bored To Death, How To Make It In America, Hung and Enlightened.  If they're comedies, they're not funny enough. If they're dramas, they're not dramatic enough.

So it's just as well the channel has canceled the first three.  They'd run their course--not good enough and unlikely to get better.  This sort of housecleaning should allow some new shows to come in and maybe there'll be something worthwhile.

Still not sure why they kept Enlightened, which doesn't even get good ratings. I guess someone there likes it. (Someone there must also like Treme, which is pretty dull and also gets weak numbers. Or maybe David Simon has something on these people.)  I wouldn't minde if they ended Eastbound & Down too, though at least that gets viewers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Festival Of Lights

Here's to a happy Hanukkah. Have a merry menorah and a shimmering shames.

Mad Pursuit

I caught the documentary on Encore, Jerry Lewis: Method To The Madness.  It was straight tribute, with nary a critical word, but it did capture that Lewis is really the last of the great movie clowns.

He may not be in the same league as Chaplin or Keaton, but he's playing the same game.  And more than a guy who was at the top of his industry for decades, he was an all-around artist, who wrote, produced, directed and starred in his own films.  Also, in addition to being a comedian, he was an innovator, creating visually imaginative work that looks like nothing else beind done around the time, and--as the special noted--creating the video assist.

The story was told chronologically, with occasional cuts to his present-day live show.  To be honest, I could have used a lot less of hearing Jerry telling old jokes (he's never really been a stand-up comedian anyway), and seen more excerpts from his lengthy career.

That was another problem. As simple and dopey as a lot of people find his comedy, it doesn't always work well if someone describes some routine and then you see a snippet.  You often need to watch what preceded to get into the rhythm.

But for an overall view of a lengthy career, it was well done.  And it's good to see his descendants, like Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal and Chevy Chase, give him his due.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rhymes With The Band

I didn't love Kiss much the first time I heard them, but they've grown on me.  So happy birthday, Peter Criss.



Second Home

Showtime's Homeland has been the best new show of the season, and its finale was powerful yet, ultimately--and intentionally--unsatisfying. (Spoilers ahead, of course.)

By almost any standard, except how it made us feel when it was over, "Marine One" was excellent.  The whole season came together as the terrorist plot was about to be sprung.  The tension, mixed with dread, was palpable--almost like Breaking Bad.  (But I do have to question the piss-poor security.  They know there's a sniper loose, so aren't they checking every window within shooting distance?  It's already ridiculous enough Walker could be hiding so long now that everyone knows he's out and about.)

On the scene, after the shooting, Carrie finally figures out the scheme, but no one will listen to a crazy lady, not even Saul. So the main part of the plan is set up, with Brody in a small room with bunch of powerful people.  First attempt, the bomb won't go off.  Second attempt, Brody is talked out of it unwittingly by his daughter--who is only talking to him because of Carrie.  Carrie herself is taken away by the police and Brody won't press charges when she promises to stay away from his family.  She agrees to go through electroconvulsive therapy to deal with her mental problems

Meanwhile, Saul, following Carrie's insight, is nibbling away at what made Nazir go quiet, and uncovers one of those tiresome conspiracies that powerful men are always getting involved in in movies and TV.  Saul finds this out by blackmailing the Vice President (what is this, The Event?) but can't talk because it would endanger agents. Also, Brody's failure has led to a new mission from Nazir, which first involves killing Walker.  Since we have nothing invested in Walker--he only felt like a character for about two lines before he was shot--this scene, filmed in one of those sewers that looks like a set, barely registered. (And why would Nazir give up a top guy in the field--how many does he have that he can afford to waste them?  How was Walker going to be trouble?  Didn't he do what he was told?)

But even as the episode was well done, it left us hanging.  Starting it with Carrie at a low point and the terrorists on the edge of triumph is good drama, but ending it that way is simply frustrating.

In fact, at every turn we were frustrated. There was no explosion that not only would have taken care of a major character,  but more important, proved Carrie right.  Fine, but can't they give us a crumb, so someone understands what's happening?  Nope.  Saul is impressed that Carrie led him to the conspiracy, but he believes she was wrong on Brody. (Shouldn't she at least have mentioned that Brody's become a Muslim--wouldn't that be of some interest?). Certainly everyone else in the government thinks of her as crazy. And Carrie herself?  She's not given the satisfaction of knowing her gambit with Brody's family worked.  And then just as she makes the connection with Issa and Brody, she gets the ECT.

So everyone's off the scent. And instead of a specific terrorist plot next season, it seems we're promised a much less interesting open-ended story with a highly placed spy who has the ear of the President.

I understand why the show did this.  They didn't want to kill off any stars and they wanted to continue the cat and mouse game, not just kill the lead terrorist and bring in a new one next season. But would it have been so hard to give Carrie (and us) some satisfaction that she or Saul or someone secretly knows that she's right, but they're prevented from acting?

There are a few other loose threads, like who gave away inside information and why did Saul fail his first polygraph.  But those are minor compared to have to start at the bottom again.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Leaders, Two Stories

It's odd that Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il died on the same day, because if you had asked me on Saturday to name the greatest leader still alive, and the worst, it would be those two.

I don't believe philosopher-kings work in the real world, but Havel was the closest we ever had.  It's rare enough an artist has intelligent politics, much less the bravery and ability to act on them, but Havel was a talented writer who was both courageous enough to take on totalitarians at a time when it seemed like they would always be in charge, and smart enough to run his country when the times demanded it. (My friend Matt Welch, who I believe lived in Prague for a while, has written well about Havel.  Here's an example.)

On the other hand, it's hard to say anything harsh enough about Kim Jong Il, who ran his country like a prison.  The entire nation was built around praising him, and any slight amount of freedom the people enjoyed was sought out by the authorities and targeted for destruction.  I can only hope some major change will come about with his death, but that is probably wishful thinking. (A reader commented a couple days ago that it's too bad Henry Kissinger outlived Christopher Hitchens.  Hitchens wrote movingly about the disaster that is North Korea, and I'm sorry that he didn't hold on for another week to see this villain go.)

Still Living

With Christmas near, maybe most regular names were busy, so SNL got Jimmy Fallon to come back and host.  I didn't love Fallon when he was on the show, but this turned out to be one of the best episodes in years.

It helped that they had some star power.  SNL has created more names than any other show, and a bunch of old friends (most, like Fallon, presently working on other TV shows) dropped in to help out: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Rachel Dratch and Horatio Sanz.  Jude Law also stopped by to plug his Sherlock Holmes film.

They reprised some bits, such as the Christmas song with Fallon, Sanz, Kattan and Morgan, and had a joke-off on "Weekend Update" as former anchors Fey, Poehler and Fallon joined Seth Meyers.  These were fine, but the overall level of new sketches was surprisingly good--maybe no classics, but generally imaginative and almost no duds.

There were two separate bits mocking the theatre, and both scored.  One, featuring Fred Armisen, was an ad for an off-Broadway one-man show where we go on a journey through this nobody's life.  The sketch properly showed how there's nothing worse than these self-indulgent, amateurish, interminable theatrical experiences. The other was an odd but enjoyable bit about a cheap production of War Horse that went in all sorts of unusual directions.

Other nice bits:  Fallon as Beethoven the conductor introducing his band like a modern performer would (it reminded me vaguely of the old Bonzo Dog Band's "The Intro And The Outro"); Jesus Christ visiting Tim Tebow et al in the locker room; Michael Buble (who was the musical guest) doing an album of Christmas duets with Sting, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and other impressions the cast could do; the recurring Hoda Kotb/Kathie Lee Gifford Today Show where Kathie Lee is a drunk who insults Hoda, with Fallon coming on as Regis.

Sometimes I wonder what's the point of watching SNL--it's just a tired shell.  But then they pull themselves together and make it worthwhile.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Keef

Happy birthday, Keith Richards.  A lot of people are surprised you made it this far.

Everyone knows he's the coolest of the Stones.

Post Haste

My old post office was shuttered so my new post office is about a half mile farther up the street, in the heart of Hollywood.  I don't go to the post office as much as I used to (most don't, which is why they're shutting down), but I recently had cause to go there.

The first thing I noticed was a terribly long line. The second thing I noticed was the employees I'd seen at my old place, behind the windowed stations.  The third thing I noticed was they weren't serving the public. Not at the windows, anyway.  They were walking around, looking busy, but as for helping all of us in line--nothing.  There were twelve windows, and only two were active.  Then one of those workers left ("we've got two active--shut one down immediately!").

I stood in the line 45 minutes.  The line kept getting longer so for all I know I was lucky.  I wish someone had a camera and took a walk up and down the line, then past the empty windows.  Would have made a good YouTube video.  Though it's probably illegal to shoot video inside a post office. And now you know why.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Are You, Deaf?

Guess who was baptised (and maybe born--I'm not clear) on this date?  The man himself, Beethoven.





They've Seen The Light

Two cheers for Congress.  In their omnibus spending bill, they slipped in a provision that no money will be given to enforce the 100-watt incandesecent light bulb ban that takes effect in 2012. But it's only for one year, and the ban is still in effect, anyway. (Mickey Kaus notes the Democrats are more than happy to have this issue go away until after the elections.) Next year, they should go whole hog and just get rid of the ban.

I have a CFL bulb in my place that I turn on when I enter (and whenever I'm carrying something heavy I curse as I wait for it to turn on).  I've got nothing against freely chosen CFLs, but it is scary to own a product that you don't know how to dispose of*.

I actually don't have many 100-watt bulbs at my place--I use mostly 75-watt.  They're set to be phased out by 2013, so I've still got plenty of time to stock up.


*I just checked and here's what you do:

What do I do with a CFL when it burns out? What is the proper disposal of a CFL bulb?

Follow these guidelines to dispose your CFL properly:

•Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check www.earth911.org (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-800-CLEAN-UP for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available at www.lamprecycle.org. Finally, IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take back programs.

•If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury containing product to an incinerator.

What should I do if a CFL breaks?

Because there is such a small amount of mercury in CFLs, your greatest risk if a bulb breaks is getting cut from glass shards. Research indicates that there is no immediate health risk to you or your family should a bulb break and it's cleaned up properly. You can minimize any risks by following these proper clean-up and disposal guidelines:

•Sweep up—don't vacuum—all of the glass fragments and fine particles.

•Place broken pieces in a sealed plastic bag and wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass or fine particles. Put the used towel in the plastic bag as well.

•If weather permits, open windows to allow the room to ventilate.

Well, that clears it up.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hitch Is Up

Christopher Hitchens has died. It's hard to think of a well-known pundit who was at the center of more debates, or who was involved in them in a more intelligent manner.

Hitchens was a man of the left, but because he wasn't doctrinaire, in later years he was attacked more often by his own side than by the right.  I remember reading him in The Nation years ago, thinking he was their best columnist by far, as a writer and a thinker. (Not that he was always a rigorous thinker--he often had a take no prisoners approach which sometimes sacrificed subtlety for ferocity; then again, it's hard to name too many journalists who are rigorous in weekly columns.)

He attacked Reagan and Bush 41 with vigor.  But then he started attacking Clinton, a man he saw as a perjurer and serial abuser, which no doubt led to a lot of consternation at the magazine.  But that was Hitch, calling 'em as he saw 'em.

He wrote widely, appearing in The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal and many other papers and periodicals.  He also put out a fair number of books.  Some were tributes to his heroes--Thomas Jerfferson, George Orwell--others attacks on those he saw as villains--Henry Kissinger, Mother Theresa.  There were also collections of essays, and, a few years ago, a book on atheism that was probably his best seller.  In 2010, he published Hitch 22: A Memoir, which may be a good place to start.  Soon after it came out, though, he was diagnosed with the esophageal cancer that led to his death.

He wasn't just a writer, he was a man of action, who went into the field and met the people involved--and often went out drinking with them.  And though he was known as a political thinker, he was more than a policy wonk.  He wrote in depth about literature, and it was clear that artists mattered as much, if not more to him, than politicians.

When a fatwa was placed on his friend Salman Rushdie, he saw it as attack on basic Western values.  Ever since 9/11, if not before, he was one of the top names on the left to attack the dangers radical Islam.  He wrote eloquently about what how it was a modern form of fascism, standing against everything the left allegedly supported: freedom of speech, equality of the sexes, the universal franchise, open scientific inquiry and so on.  Leftism didn't mean being mindlessly against powerful Western nations, it meant understanding where the true threat lay and fighting it if necessary.  Thus he vociferously supported the war in Iraq--a position that probably earned him more vitriol from former compatriots than anything he'd ever heard from erstwhile enemies.  It was certainly enough to get him kicked off The Nation.

He was undaunted, of course.  He lived for a good fight. And it's not as if he supported every aspect of America's War on Terror.  He opposed limitations on due process, for example, and also wrote against waterboarding--going so far as to be waterboarded himself.

Though he was a man of convictions, he was also willing to change his mind.  He started as a socialist but came around the seeing the useful, even revolutionary aspects of capitalism.  He also changed his mind on certain figures of our time--Gore Vidal was once a mentor, but Hitchens recogized that he'd cracked.  And he was more than ready to call out (former?) friends, like Noam Chomsky (who wasn't even convinced Bin Laden was behind 9/11).

Born and raised in England, he made his home in America years ago and became a citizen in 2007.  I'm sorry I never met him.  In the back of my mind, I always thought I'd get around to it, but when he was diagnosed, I figured probably he had better things to do with his time.  He took the bad news about as graciously as could be expected, giving interviews about his condition, and working almost to the end.  His last public statement I'm aware of was that he was reconsidering Nietzsche's old line "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Some saw it as a significant statement, but it sounded more to me like a guy who knew the end was near still capable of making a joke.

We certainly disagreed on plenty (especially his views on Israel), but he struck me as the ideal sort of public intellectual.  The kind we often bemoan doesn't exist any more.  And maybe with his death, that's true.

The Unseen War

I'm not a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick's, but I was intrigued to see his first full-length, Fear And Desire (1953), when it was recently shown on TCM.  It's rarely shown because there aren't that many prints and Kubrick, who all but disavowed it, tried to keep it unseen.  I can understand--it's pretty bad.

Kubrick was only 24, a former photographer for Look, when he decided to shoot his own feature.  He raised somewhere in the five figures and took a small crew out to the San Gabriel Mountains to film this story about soldiers stuck behind enemy lines.  Probably no one could have made much of Howard Sackler's overwritten screenplay, where the soldiers speechify about the meaning of it all, and many actions are poorly motivated.  Certainly Kubrick himself didn't have the time or money or talent to pull it off.

We never get any sense of menace.  What it mostly feels like is a group of actors in soldier costumes stranded in the middle of a forest.  The film, especially for its day, is shot in an arty style, but perhaps some of those edits and closeups are there to cover up the awkward staging of so many scenes.

I don't mean to be too hard on it.  I wasn't bored during the film's short running time.  There are even a few moments that show some visual imagination. (And it's interesting to see the young Paul Mazursky recite the plot of The Tempest, knowing he'd later make a movie based on it.)  But let's not puff it up into more than it is--a piece of juvenilia that barely points to his mature work.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cheesy Argument

I used to regularly check out The New York Times' editorial page, but then years ago they put it behind a firewall and I learned how little you miss if you don't read it. Still, occasionally I hear about a piece, such as Thomas L. Friedman's latest on America and Israel.  I checked it out.  Not much there, I'm afraid, but the following paragraph is bizarre:

I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused.

Why do pundits keep using the weird, classically anti-Semitic trope (even if Friedman isn't an anti-Semite) of magical powers behind the scenes that Jews have?  (Though I admit I don't know exactly who comprises the Israel Lobby--sounds pretty ominous, though.  Sometimes it's called the Jewish Lobby, but I guess "Israel Lobby" goes down easier.) True, there are lobbyists who support a certain view of Israel, just as there are lobbyists for many other causes.  But politicians don't back losers, not for long, anyway.  The reason Netanyahu gets an ovation from our Congress is, ultimately, because the Israeli cause is quite popular in America--among most groups and in a bipartisan way.  No lobby can wave their wand (or pass out money) and make politicians applaud something the general population finds hateful.

Weirder still is Friedman saying the real test would be a speech at the University of Wisconsin (acting like he chose the place almost at random). Yes, Israeli leaders don't go over well at academic settings, which goes to show how radical and unpopular many political views held by academics are--take that, Bibi!

Seems to me the "real test" of a pundit is someone who doesn't casually confuse unpopular views with the mainstream.

Now It's Getting Serious

Actors make up the biggest voting bloc for the Oscars, so when SAG comes out with its nominations, it's time to pay attention (not that most SAG members are in the Academy).

Here's the list, with comments.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
DEMIÁN BICHIR / Carlos Galindo - “A BETTER LIFE” (Summit Entertainment)
GEORGE CLOONEY / Matt King - "THE DESCENDANTS” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO / J. Edgar Hoover - "J. EDGAR" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JEAN DUJARDIN / George - "THE ARTIST" (The Weinstein Company)
BRAD PITT / Billy Beane - "MONEYBALL" (Columbia Pictures)

I'm surprised by Leo getting attention for the poorly reviewed film, and there's old pals Pitt and Clooney against each other, and two more surprising choices. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
GLENN CLOSE / Albert Nobbs - "ALBERT NOBBS” (Roadside Attractions)
VIOLA DAVIS / Aibileen Clark - “THE HELP” (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)
MERYL STREEP / Margaret Thatcher - “THE IRON LADY” (The Weinstein Company)
TILDA SWINTON / Eva - “WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
MICHELLE WILLIAMS / Marilyn Monroe - “MY WEEK WITH MARILYN” (The Weinstein Company)

Not widely seen outside Davis--and wasn't her role supporting?

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
KENNETH BRANAGH / Sir Laurence Olivier - “MY WEEK WITH MARILYN” (The Weinstein Company)
ARMIE HAMMER / Clyde Tolson - "J. EDGAR" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JONAH HILL / Peter Brand - "MONEYBALL" (Columbia Pictures)
NICK NOLTE / Paddy Conlon - “WARRIOR” (Lionsgate)
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER / Hal - “BEGINNERS” (Focus Features)

More love for J. Edgar?  Really? Overall, in what is generally the most competitive category, mostly uninspired choices.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
BÉRÉNICE BEJO / Peppy - "THE ARTIST" (The Weinstein Company)
JESSICA CHASTAIN / Celia Foote - “THE HELP” (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)
MELISSA McCARTHY / Megan - “BRIDESMAIDS” (Universal Pictures)
JANET McTEER / Hubert Page - "ALBERT NOBBS” (Roadside Attractions)
OCTAVIA SPENCER / Minny Jackson - “THE HELP” (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)

Looks like this year's most competitive category. And Chastain, with so many roles to choose from, is picked for her biggest hit.  (She got first and second in this category from the Toronto critics and neither was for this film.)  And she'll be up against a co-star.  I guess they're lucky Viola Davis was considered the star.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
THE ARTIST (The Weinstein Company)
BÉRÉNICE BEJO / Peppy
JAMES CROMWELL / Clifton
JEAN DUJARDIN / George
JOHN GOODMAN / Al Zimmer
PENELOPE ANN MILLER / Doris

BRIDESMAIDS (Universal Pictures)
ROSE BYRNE / Helen
JILL CLAYBURGH / Annie’s Mom
ELLIE KEMPER / Becca
MATT LUCAS / Gil
MELISSA McCARTHY / Megan
WENDI McLENDON-COVEY / Rita
CHRIS O’DOWD / Rhodes
MAYA RUDOLPH / Lillian
KRISTEN WIIG / Annie

THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
BEAU BRIDGES / Cousin Hugh
GEORGE CLOONEY / Matt King
ROBERT FORSTER / Scott Thorson
JUDY GREER / Julie Speer
MATTHEW LILLARD / Brian Speer
SHAILENE WOODLEY / Alexandra King

THE HELP (DreamWorks Pictures / Touchstone Pictures)
JESSICA CHASTAIN / Celia Foote
VIOLA DAVIS / Aibileen Clark
BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD / Hilly Holbrook
ALLISON JANNEY / Charlotte Phelan
CHRIS LOWELL / Stuart Whitworth
AHNA O’REILLY / Elizabeth Leefolt
SISSY SPACEK / Missus Walters
OCTAVIA SPENCER / Minny Jackson
MARY STEENBURGEN / Elaine Stein
EMMA STONE / Skeeter Phelan
CICELY TYSON / Constantine Jefferson
MIKE VOGEL / Johnny Foote

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (Sony Pictures Classics)
KATHY BATES / Gertrude Stein
ADRIEN BRODY / Salvador Dali
CARLA BRUNI / Museum Guide
MARION COTILLARD / Adriana
RACHEL McADAMS / Inez
MICHAEL SHEEN / Paul
OWEN WILSON / Gil

Half the cast in The Artist and Midnight In Paris are stranded with nothing to do.  Bad choices for ensemble.

PRIMETIME TELEVISION
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
LAURENCE FISHBURNE / Thurgood Marshall - “THURGOOD” (HBO)
PAUL GIAMATTI / Ben Bernanke - “TOO BIG TO FAIL” (HBO)
GREG KINNEAR / Jack Kennedy - “THE KENNEDYS” (REELZ CHANNEL)
GUY PEARCE / Monty Beragon - “MILDRED PIERCE“ (HBO)
JAMES WOODS / Richard Fuld - “TOO BIG TO FAIL” (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
DIANE LANE / Pat Loud - “CINEMA VERITE” (HBO)
MAGGIE SMITH / Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham - “DOWNTON ABBEY” (PBS)
EMILY WATSON / Janet Leach - “APPROPRIATE ADULT” (Sundance Channel)
BETTY WHITE / Caroline Thomas - “HALLMARK HALL OF FAME: THE LOST VALENTINE” (CBS)
KATE WINSLET / Mildred Pierce - “MILDRED PIERCE” (HBO)

Once again, SAG, like the Emmys, is impressed by stars, especially movie stars, willing to condescend to TV work. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
PATRICK J. ADAMS / Mike Ross - “SUITS” (USA)
STEVE BUSCEMI / Enoch “Nucky” Thompson - “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” (HBO)
KYLE CHANDLER / Eric Taylor - “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS” (DirecTV)
BRYAN CRANSTON / Walter White - “BREAKING BAD” (AMC)
MICHAEL C. HALL / Dexter Morgan - “DEXTER” (Showtime)

Same dull choices.  If it's for the actual performance, Cranston should win easily.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
KATHY BATES / Harriet Korn - “HARRY’S LAW” (NBC)
GLENN CLOSE / Patty Hewes - “DAMAGES” (DirecTV)
JESSICA LANGE / Constance - “AMERICAN HORROR STORY” (FX)
JULIANNA MARGULIES / Alicia Florrick - “THE GOOD WIFE” (CBS)
KYRA SEDGWICK / Dept. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson - “THE CLOSER” (TNT)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy - “30 ROCK” (NBC)
TY BURRELL / Phil Dunphy - “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)
STEVE CARELL / Michael Scott - “THE OFFICE” (NBC)
JON CRYER / Alan Harper - “TWO AND A HALF MEN” (CBS)
ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron Tucker - “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)

They don't give specific awards for supporting work in TV, just for general performance, so Burrell, Cryer and Stonestreet are in this category.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
JULIE BOWEN / Claire Dunphy - “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)
EDIE FALCO / Jackie Peyton - “NURSE JACKIE” (Showtime)
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon - “30 ROCK” (NBC)
SOFIA VERGARA / Gloria Delgado-Pritchett - “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)
BETTY WHITE / Elka Ostrovsky - “HOT IN CLEVELAND” (TV Land)

Once again, three supporting players up against two leads.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO)
STEVE BUSCEMI / Enoch “Nucky” Thompson
DOMINIC CHIANESE / Leander Cephas Whitlock
ROBERT CLOHESSY / Ward Boss Jim Neary
DABNEY COLEMAN / Commodore Louis Kaestner
CHARLIE COX / Owen Sleater
JOSIE & LUCY GALLINA / Emily Schroeder
STEPHEN GRAHAM / Al Capone
JACK HUSTON / Richard Harrow
ANTHONY LACIURA / Eddie Kessler
HEATHER LIND / Katy
KELLY MACDONALD / Margaret Schroeder
RORY & DECLAN McTIGUE / Teddy Schroeder
GRETCHEN MOL / Gillian Darmody
BRADY & CONNOR NOON/ Tommy Darmody
KEVIN O’ROURKE / Mayor Edward Bader
ALEKSA PALLADINO / Angela Darmody
JACQUELINE PENNEWILL / Lilian
VINCENT PIAZZA / Lucky Luciano
MICHAEL PITT / Jimmy Darmody
MICHAEL SHANNON / Agent Nelson Van Alden
PAUL SPARKS / Mickey Doyle
MICHAEL STUHLBARG / Arnold Rothstein
PETER VAN WAGNER / Isaac “Icky” Ginsburg
SHEA WHIGHAM / Sheriff Elias Thompson
MICHAEL KENNETH WILLIAMS / Chalky White
ANATOL YUSEF / Meyer Lansky

BREAKING BAD (AMC)
JONATHAN BANKS / Mike
BETSY BRANDT / Marie Schrader
RAY CAMPBELL / Tyrus Kitt
BRYAN CRANSTON / Walter White
GIANCARLO ESPOSITO / Gus Fring
ANNA GUNN / Skyler White
RJ MITTE / Walter White, Jr.
DEAN NORRIS / Hank Schrader
BOB ODENKIRK / Saul Goodman
AARON PAUL / Jesse Pinkman

DEXTER (Showtime)
BILLY BROWN / Chicago Mike
JENNIFER CARPENTER / Debra Morgan
JOSH COOKE / Louis
AIMEE GARCIA / Jamie Batista
MICHAEL C. HALL / Dexter Morgan
COLIN HANKS / Travis Marshall
DESMOND HARRINGTON / Joey Quinn
RYA KIHLSTEDT / Michelle
C.S. LEE / Vince Masuka
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS / Professor Gellar
JAMES REMAR / Harry Morgan
LAUREN VELEZ / Lt. Maria LaGuerta
DAVID ZAYAS / Sgt. Angel Batista

GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
AMRITA ACHARIA / Irri
MARK ADDY / King Robert Baratheon
ALFIE ALLEN / Theon Greyjoy
JOSEF ALTIN / Pypar
SEAN BEAN / Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark
SUSAN BROWN / Septa Mordane
EMILIA CLARKE / Daenerys Targaryen
NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU / Ser Jaime Lannister
PETER DINKLAGE / Tyrion Lannister
RON DONACHIE / Ser Rodrik Cassel
MICHELLE FAIRLEY / Lady Catelyn Stark
JEROME FLYNN / Bronn
ELYES GABEL / Rakharo
AIDAN GILLEN / “Littlefinger” Petyr Baelish
JACK GLEESON / Joffrey Baratheon
IAIN GLEN / Ser Jorah Mormont
JULIAN GLOVER / Grand Maester Pycelle
KIT HARINGTON / Jon Snow
LENA HEADEY / Queen Cersei Lannister
ISAAC HEMPSTEAD WRIGHT / Bran Stark
CONLETH HILL / Lord Varys
RICHARD MADDEN / Robb Stark
JASON MOMOA / Khal Drogo
RORY McCANN / Sandor Clegane
IAN McELHINNEY / Barristan Selmy
LUKE McEWAN / Rast
ROXANNE McKEE / Doreah
DAR SALIM / Qotho
MARK STANLEY / Grenn
DONALD SUMPTER / Maester Luwin
SOPHIE TURNER / Sansa Stark
MAISIE WILLIAMS / Arya Stark

THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)
CHRISTINE BARANSKI / Diane Lockhart
JOSH CHARLES / Will Gardner
ALAN CUMMING / Eli Gold
MATT CZUCHRY / Cary Agos
JULIANNA MARGULIES / Alicia Florrick
CHRIS NOTH / Peter Florrick
ARCHIE PANJABI / Kalinda Sharma
GRAHAM PHILLIPS / Zach Florrick
MAKENZIE VEGA / Grace Florrick

Some decent ensembles here, but not Boardwalk Empire, which has plenty of weak and ill-served characters.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 ROCK (NBC)
SCOTT ADSIT / Pete Hornberger
ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy
KATRINA BOWDEN / Cerie
KEVIN BROWN / Dotcom
GRIZZ CHAPMAN / Grizz
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon
JUDAH FRIEDLANDER / Frank Rossitano
JANE KRAKOWSKI / Jenna Maroney
JOHN LUTZ / Lutz
JACK MCBRAYER / Kenneth Parcell
TRACY MORGAN / Tracy Jordan
MAULIK PANCHOLY / Jonathan
KEITH POWELL / Toofer

THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)
MAYIM BIALIK / Amy Farrah Fowler
KALEY CUOCO / Penny
JOHNNY GALECKI / Leonard Hofstadter
SIMON HELBERG / Howard Wolowitz
KUNAL NAYYAR / Rajesh Koothrappali
JIM PARSONS / Sheldon Cooper
MELISSA RAUCH / Bernadette Rostenkowski

GLEE (FOX)
DIANNA AGRON / Quinn Fabray
CHRIS COLFER / Kurt Hummel
DARREN CRISS / Blaine Anderson
ASHLEY FINK / Lauren Zizes
DOT MARIE JONES / Coach Beiste
JANE LYNCH / Sue Sylvester
JAYMA MAYS / Emma Pillsbury
KEVIN McHALE / Artie Abrams
LEA MICHELE / Rachel Berry
CORY MONTEITH / Finn Hudson
HEATHER MORRIS / Brittany Pierce
MATTHEW MORRISON / Will Schuester
MIKE O’MALLEY / Burt Hummel
CHORD OVERSTREET / Sam Evans
LAUREN POTTER / Becky Johnson
AMBER RILEY / Mercedes Jones
NAYA RIVERA / Santana Lopez
MARK SALLING / Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman
HARRY SHUM, JR. / Mike Chang
IQBAL THEBA / Principal Figgins
JENNA USHKOWITZ / Tina Cohen-Chang

MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
AUBREY ANDERSON-EMMONS / Lily
JULIE BOWEN / Claire
TY BURRELL / Phil
JESSE TYLER FERGUSON / Mitchell
NOLAN GOULD / Luke
SARAH HYLAND / Haley
ED O’NEILL / Jay
RICO RODRIGUEZ / Manny
ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron
SOFIA VERGARA / Gloria
ARIEL WINTER / Alex

THE OFFICE (NBC)
LESLIE DAVID BAKER / Stanley Hudson
BRIAN BAUMGARTNER / Kevin Malone
CREED BRATTON / Creed Bratton
STEVE CARELL / Michael Scott
JENNA FISCHER / Pam Beesly Halpert
KATE FLANNERY / Meredith Palmer
ED HELMS / Andy Bernard
MINDY KALING / Kelly Kapoor
ELLIE KEMPER / Erin Hannon
ANGELA KINSEY / Angela Martin
JOHN KRASINSKI / Jim Halpert
PAUL LIEBERSTEIN / Toby Flenderson
B.J. NOVAK / Ryan Howard
OSCAR NUÑEZ / Oscar Martinez
CRAIG ROBINSON / Daryll Philbin
JAMES SPADER / Robert California
PHYLLIS SMITH / Phyllis Lapin-Vance
RAINN WILSON / Dwight Schrute
ZACH WOODS / Gabe Lewis

Tough competition here, though what the completely messed up ensemble of Glee is doing here I don't know.

SAG HONORS FOR STUNT ENSEMBLES
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (UNIVERSAL PICTURES)
COWBOYS & ALIENS (UNIVERSAL PICTURES)
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (WARNER BROS. PICTURES)
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (PARAMOUNT PICTURES)
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (20TH CENTURY FOX)

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
DEXTER (SHOWTIME)
GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
SOUTHLAND (TNT)
SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA (STARZ)
TRUE BLOOD (HBO)

LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Screen Actors Guild Awards 48th Annual Life Achievement Award

MARY TYLER MOORE

About time.

web page hit counter