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They say that John Dillinger's penis is stored somewhere at the Smithsonian. It's not, which is a shame, because if it were there might have been an interesting movie made about it. As it is, though, we're left with Michael Mann's Dillinger picture “Public Enemies,” which is neither about Dillinger's penis nor the least bit interesting.

Mann seems to have utterly forgotten how to direct a movie. To say his characters are one-dimensional is to overstate their geometry and to say they're unsympathetic is to imply an emotional response to any of them. Not only is there no tension between any two characters, there's none between any two scenes, either. The movie trundles along in its internal chronological order with all the excitement of the digits changing on an odometer. (I initially wrote “digital watch” instead of “odometer,” but with the watch there was the tension of wondering just when the movie was going to end.)

There's been some notice taken of the attention to detail in the film - Mann redressed North Lincoln Avenue near the Biograph Theater in Chicago to the point of reinstalling long-gone streetcar tracks - and some inaccuracies have also been pointed out, but those details become academic if the movie is, as this one is, boring.

And the cast wasn't really given much to work with. Johnny Depp walks around managing to look a little like the real Dillinger while looking just like Johnny Depp. Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette, played by Marion Cotillard, is pretty enough, but she doesn't do anything. It was nice, though, to hear Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis speak in something other than a John Connor/Batman whisper for a change.

It's nicely photographed - Mann knows how to set up a shot. There are a few beautifully filmic moments, such as when one of the bad guys is gunned down by Purvis's G-men during a night-time car chase. The camera, at ground level, looks over the dying gangster toward the backlit Purvis. A last puff of smoke from the criminal's spent submachine gun curls up into the light at the same time as the vapour from his last breath does.

But it all comes back to this: nothing much happens. Dillinger talks to Billie, J. Edgar Hoover talks to Purvis. Then some Tommy guns go off and a car races into the night. Lather, rinse, repeat, until Dillinger's luck runs, as we know it must, out.

Unfortunately for us, that luck's exit was preceded by our interest forty or fifty minutes earlier.

03 July 2009 @ 08:25 pm
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Chair and Flag

Fear of a Black Man.


Independence Day Hat

On today's episode of "Family Feud":

With five of six items already revealed, the host returns to the man at the head of the family to his right.

JOHN O'HURLEY: Tell me something people think about when they hear the name 'Ellen DeGeneres".

MIKE, SUTTON FAMILY PATRIARCH: Doesn't like her country very much, I think.

JOHN O'HURLEY: Fuck you, asshole.*

* Technically, reply did not happen.

17 June 2009 @ 03:18 pm
It happened again.

Back in May, I wrote about how The Lovely Mrs. byoolin's trebuchet and I were carjacked by a little old lady who asked us - in a how can you refuse me, I'm just a little old lady kind of way - to take her to her bank.

It happened to us again. This time, we were going in the opposite direction on the same road, and there she was, stooping in wait.

"She's very aggressive," said The Lovely Mrs. byoolin's trebuchet as the woman approached. When she saw us, she started across the street in what I now realize was a game of Ride-or-Roadkill.

We stopped, not wanting the blood of a little old lady on our consciences, not to mention her faceprint in our windshield, and prepared to tell her we couldn't take her to the bank when she threw us a curve.

She asked to go to a different bank, one that was not out of our way. She clambered into the back seat and nattered for the three minutes it took us to get where she was going. We dropped her off in the parking lot and wished her luck with her return trip.

I would have liked to have parked across the street and watched as she tried to cross five lanes of traffic to catch a ride back home, but we had places to go. I'm sure we'll see her again; after all, Wheeling has more than two banks.

17 June 2009 @ 01:43 pm
One of my daily must-reads, Liz Kelly's Celebritology blog, had a link to this news item: "Heidi and Spencer Writing a Book on How to Get Famous". (If you don't know who they are and don't live in a cave, buy yourself a lottery ticket: the odds of them remaining completely under your radar are astronomical. If you've merely been fortunate enough to have seen less than a minute of anything they've ever done on tv, you can still count yourself lucky enough to justify buying a scratch-and-win ticket.)

Reading the Celebritology item left me feeling like I'd missed a bigger story, somehow. So I wrote it.

In other news, Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, better known to the Western world as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Bible's Book Of Revelations, have announced their retirement.

In a prepared statement, the Feared Four said their retirement was for unspecified "personal reasons," immediately renewing speculation that the announcement by Heidi and Spencer Pratt that they were writing a book was behind the Horsemen's move.

Unnamed sources close to the four have said that some of the group viewed the Pratts' book as proof that their services were no longer required. One Horseman is said to have uttered in frustration, "How can we [expletive deleted] compete with THAT?" when told of the book deal.

Heincer have declined to comment directly on the news of the Four Horsemen's retirement, but Heidi Pratt did say that she was looking forward to riding a horse while topless during an upcoming photo shoot for Playboy magazine.