Rants and Raves


Just imagine this shaped like an Oscar statuette. Wouldn't that be something?!

Imagine this shaped like an Oscar statuette. Wouldn’t that be something?!

Tonight’s the big show in L.A. where Hollywood honors its own, and while The Lint Screen doesn’t have a clue how the statues will be dealt, this is a quick round up of what we (I) liked.

Best picture: Philomena. A movie that’s got a great, true story with wonderful performances. Judi Dench can rip your heart out with one eye tied behind her back. It’s got heart, big heart. Close runner up: Wolf of Wall Street. Yeah, it shows greed, drugs, sex, overindulgent narcissistic pricks on parade. We’re talking Wall Street, dammit! The script by Terrence Winters is the best. Three action-packed hours with nary a wasted scene. Oh, and this Marty Scorsese fellow, well, let’s just say the guy’s got a future in film.

Also in the top tier: Nebraska. Bruce Dern and Will Forte bring a colorful strained family relationship to life in this black and white beauty. A damn fine film.

Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey and Leto are probably locks for Oscars, and they deserve it. This is a moving movie made sadder by the fact that it’s mostly true.

Inside Llewyn Davis. Hollywood and the public didn’t give this flick much love, but it’s a rich story of the struggles of the artistic journey. Think art sells itself? Think again. The Coen brothers once again deliver the goods, and T. Bone will have your toes a-tapping.

American Hustle. Yes, the performance are a feast. A fun film that’s confusing at times, and a satisfying ride. But when it’s all over, well, there you are. A must see, but not one for the ages.

Here is a drive by of other major films.

Captain Phillips is gripping and Hanks and Barkhad Abdi own their slabs of silver screen. But the Cappy’s backstory feels forced. And we all know the ending. Good film, but not great.

Gravity is an incredible film for technical whizbangery, and the acting’s fine, but the dialogue and the story are pretty thin. (Probably also not a good idea to see this film with a N.A.S.A. engineer, like I did, who explained all the logic and physics flaws.)

Her is a film that I liked quite a bit. Actually, I like the idea of the film better than the film itself. It makes some very good points, societal commentary while you wait, but it’s somewhat labored and repetitive after awhile. It is frightening to see our future with Sans-a-belt slacks up to our bellybuttons. Still, this is a movie worth watching for the ideas and performances.

Oh, how I wanted to love 12 Years a Slave. If ever there was a subject more ripe for moving one emotionally, this was it. But, the movie missed. Again, it’s a very good film, but not a great one. A pity. Something was off.

Saving Mr. Banks was surprisingly good. Emma Thompson is terrific, and the story is engaging, entertaining and compelling. Hanks as Disney is fun, too. Give it a go.

Ron Howard’s Rush is also a film to seek out. A very interesting true story about Formula 1 racing in the 1970’s is a wild ride. It’s well-told, well-acted, well-shot. Well, see it already!

And then there’s Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a film that’s fun with a character who is hard to take. A good flick.

I also liked Lee Daniels’ The Butler, well worth renting for Forest Whitaker’s performance and lots of fine cameos. Interesting tale and true. Plus Oprah, who never once asks us to look beneath our seats.

That’s it. A pretty great year for film. Now, let’s see what the industry recognizes.

He's scary good.

He’s scary good.

Matthew McConaughey used to be cast as eye candy, a guy who’d remove his shirt and let his chest do the talking. Now, he may be the most interesting actor working the screens.

In recent years, McConaughey has built an incredible body of work by selecting interesting roles of complex characters. From The Lincoln Lawyer, to Killer Joe, to Mud, to Dallas Buyers Club to HBO’s True Detective, he has portrayed disturbed characters with pasts that make living in the present a challenge and facing the future a chore.

He acts completely with face, eyes, body posture and voice–– a rich baritone stewed in bourbon, cigarettes, Texas heat and filtered through regrets, lost bets and tortured existence. He makes every line he speaks a self-contained story, and milks the silences as he contemplates and reveals glimpses of a wounded soul.

Matthew McConaughey has become the real deal, an actor worth watching no matter what role he’s assuming because we know he will plumb depths of the human condition to explore and expose what it means to live.

Matthew McConaughey may be the American Daniel Day Lewis.

Oh, Clint and Chrysler, make us believe.

Oh, Clint and Chrysler, make us believe.

When Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” spot aired in the first halftime commercial break of XLVI Super Bowl on February 5, 2012, it became an instant classic. Wieden+Kennedy’s two-minute tone poem intoned by Clint Eastwood (Mr. Tough American himself) struck a nerve.

Over beautiful cinematography, Clint spoke of resigned hope and optimism for Detroit and the American car industry. Like the genius Hal Riney spots that launched the Saturn auto brand, this spot resonated because it was honest, confessed past sins, then asked absolution and forgiveness in setting a new path forward to making better American cars (“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…”).

Terrific, powerful stuff. If only it were true. Saturn started with great expectations, then morphed into a generic GM brand and drifted into oblivion. Which leaves us with Chrysler and its promise.

I was recently involved in a car accident and had to get a rental while my car was in the shop. I was put in a Chrysler 200. I think if I put Clint Eastwood in one, he’d give it a short drive, park and fire a full load from his .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson into it.

The engineers had to work hard designing a car this uncomfortable (did Marquis de Sade design the seats?). This vehicle could be used for enhanced interrogations Gitmo.

Fortunately, the car had ants and that gave me a reason to return it for a Toyota Corolla, a small car that’s so far superior to the Chrysler, it’s depressing.

Everything about the Toyota is better than the Chrysler: the ride, comfort, ergonomics, sound system, mileage, fit and finish– you name it. Which sucks.

It sucks because I wanted to believe Clint Eastwood’s halftime speech about a rededication to building great cars. It sucks because I’m a proud American and would love to buy American if given a compelling choice. It sucks because an adman like myself wants to believe in great advertising and has his heart broken when beautiful work proves to be empty promises and wishful thinking.

Ford’s have gotten better, Chevy’s, too, but check out the competition, Detroit– it’s superior to what you’re making. Car reviews prove it, consumer stats confirm it.

Halftime is over, Chrysler. If you’re going to kick some ass, you’re going to have to have a better game plan, and I believe all Americans would cheer for you to come up with one.

We’ve been waiting far too long. Let’s go, team!

A Skittles craving ends in tragically.

A Skittles craving ends in tragedy.

Trayvon Martin is still dead. He was a 17-year old African-American male guilty of buying Skittles at a convenience store and walking home. He was pursued by a 29-year old cop wannabe named George Zimmerman, even after the citizen vigilante had phoned in his report of Martin’s alleged suspicious behavior to the real police and was told there was no need to pursue. The real cops would investigate.

What happened next was a fight and a dead young man. Zimmerman shot Trayvon.

Zimmerman just stood trial and got off scot-free because Florida has something called the “stand your ground law” and Zimmerman said that he felt threatened by the young man he was pursuing and so he was in his rights to protect himself with the loaded gun he carried. Word to the wise: don’t want sit next to George Zimmerman at a horror film.

So justice is served and Trayvon Martin is still dead, but if there is any justice, he will never be forgotten.

Laws must change.

"What did you say?"

“What’d you say? You know I’m a vampire killer…”

Tonight’s the 85th Academy Awards and while 2012 was a pretty terrific year for movies, I hope just one thing–– that Lincoln doesn’t get crowned king.

Yes, Lincoln was a great president but this was not a great movie. It wasn’t bad, mind you, it just didn’t live up to the incessant hype. Let’s just say the emperor has no stovepipe hat and leave it at that.

I still haven’t seen Armour, Beasts of the Southern Wild or Zero Dark Thirty, but have caught all the other nominated films. Of them, I’d pick Silver Linings Playbook for best film. I would also cheer for Argo or Django Unchained as best pic. Just no Lincoln, please!

For best actor, I’d go Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, a desperately under appreciated film. Give me Christoph Waltz for supporting role in Django, and give Quentin his gold statue for writing the original screenplay. For adapted screenplay, David O. Russell deserves the little man for Silver Linings Playbook.

I won’t pick in the other categories since I haven’t seen the majority of the nominees, but please, Academy, let Lincoln be. While this film was not a great moment in cinema, we did have a better time in the theatre than ol’ Abe did.

God called another great man from the bullpen and I am sad. Paul Decker is dead at age 75.

I never met Paul, only spoke to him on the phone a couple of times, but I was a huge fan of his work. Paul lived in Portland, Oregon, and was married to the lovely Kitty O’Keefe, a financial guru who I got to know when she hunted heads in advertising.

Paul was an adman in the tradition of gadflies like Howard Gossage. An interesting man with a bouquet of varied interests. He was a terrific copywriter, creative director, producer. He once wrote a brochure for a fictitious multi-national ad agency called “Mammoth, Pervasive and Bland” as a promo piece for L.A.’s keye/donna/pearlstein. I remember straining my eyes to read his brilliant copy when it was reproduced in ad award show books.

Paul had many other interests: he DJ-ed a jazz program on a public radio station in Portland, developed radio acting classes for a high school, created animated film projects and was working on a reality TV show featuring the music and food of New Orleans. These are just some of his Cliff notes.

But his real genius was evidenced by his creation of Modern Meats, a company that allegedly manufactured tasty meat (and meat-like) creations. Paul wrote hilarious company newsletters and product announcements with wit as dry as a turtle’s tongue in the Sahara.

Paul Decker was a true humorist, a spark for a world that desperately needs more fire. He will be missed, but I’m sure many memories of the joy Paul spread to others will be served along with Modern Meats at his wake.

Goodbye, Paul, and thanks for spreading some joy.

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