Overall, not the best day in the world

I’ve been just a bit distracted and sleepy today and didn’t even hear about Kanye West’s little display at the VMA’s last night until just now. Of course, I’m strictly a movie blogger, more or less, so I don’t have to weigh in on — or even watch — last night’s no doubt mega-embarrassing spectacle. A small mercy.  Also, as I started to write this, we got the very sad news of the passing of film and television star Patrick Swayze from pancreatic cancer. Just below this post, Will Harris remembers him in high style.

Fortunately, not everything going on today is as really bad or really sad. Still, because I’m an irresponsible member of the media, I’m going to lead with the bad.

Megan Fox in * In political blogging, it’s common to refer to something called Godwin’s Law. The original version simply held that the longer an online discussion went on, the greater the possibility, or near certainty, that someone would invoke Hitler or Nazis. Over time, however, it’s use has extended and inapt Nazi/Hitler comparisons are held up for ridicule on Godwin grounds. Quoth the Wikipidians:

Godwin’s Law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons…Whether it applies to humorous use or references to oneself is open to interpretation, since this would not be a fallacious attack against a debate opponent.

Well, I don’t think she was being particularly humorous (I guess you could call that the “Soup Nazi exception”), so I have to say that Megan Fox was definitely somewhere in Godwin’s Law territory when she compared controversial blockbuster director Michael Bay to, yes, Hitler last week. Now, I’m anything but a Michael Bay admirer, but on his long list of unfortunate qualities as a public figure, “genocidal mad man” simply isn’t there. He belongs in movie jail, not the Hague.

Anyhow, that would have been the end of it, but unnamed members of Michael Bay’s crew have, for whatever reason, gotten into the act and have written an unnecessary but nevertheless rather hilarious attack on Ms. Fox, which you can read all of over at Nikki Finke’s place. Apparently wanting to keep the peace with Fox, Michael Bay has gotten into the act to distance himself from the crew comments. He refers to Megan Fox’s “crazy quips.” I don’t think he understands what the word “quip” actually means. I guess he belongs in word usage jail, also.

Christoph Waltz in * Casting stories can get tedious, but awhile back I made a big deal about the casting of Taiwanese singer-kick-butt martial artist Jay Chou in Seth Rogen’s upcoming “The Green Hornet.” Now, the movie is starting to look even more fun with the placement of Christoph Waltz in the role of the bad guy. Waltz, of course, is the multilingual German TV actor turned international flavor of the month with his universally lauded, thoroughly enjoyable performance as the “Jew Hunter,” Col. Hans Landa, in “Inglourious Basterds.”

Not since Alan Rickman damn near stole “Die Hard” from Bruce Willis has a previously unknown actor playing a villain — particularly a more or less completely unredeemable villain — gotten anything resembling this kind of attention. Even Rickman didn’t get anywhere near this much praise, as important as he was to the massive success of that borderline-classic action flick.

It’s safe to say we’ll be hearing from Waltz a lot. I just hope he can find some really good leading man roles, too. If anyone deserves to suddenly become a full-on international superstar at age 52, he might be the guy.

* I’ve been guilty of ignoring the Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF). The favorite major festival of geeky cinephiles (a rep that was perhaps harmed slightly by a kerfluffle this year over blogger press credentials) is now well underway. The high profile films this year include Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” which wowed ’em at the Telluride Film Festival just a few days back, and the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man.Anne Thompson and Karina Longworth are covering their ends of the festival very nicely.

  

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Nobel Son

Writer/director Randall Miller must be a great guy to work with. That’s the only possible explanation for how he managed to snag such an amazing cast for “Nobel Son,” a headache-inducing thriller every bit deserving of its direct-to-DVD sentence. Though Miller isn’t exactly new to the business (he directed his share of bad comedies in the 90s), it’s still quite a feat to go from the land of made-for-TV movies to working with the likes of Alan Rickman in back-to-back projects. Their 2008 film, “Bottle Shock,” was one of the best reviewed entries at Sundance last year, but just because “Nobel Son” is about an award doesn’t mean it’s on the same level.

Rickman plays Dr. Eli Michaelson, a narcissitic college chemistry professor who is delighted to discover that he’s won the Nobel Prize. While away in Stockholm to accept his award, his disappointment of a son, Barkley (Bryan Greenberg), is kidnapped and ransomed for $2 million. The kidnapper (Sean Hatosy) claims that Eli stole the award-winning idea from his own father, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make him pay. Of course, it’s what happens after the initial kidnapping that really matters, but to say any more would be to spoil the film’s only redeeming quality: the web of twists that begins to unravel around the midway point. Unfortunately, the movie is so damn irritating during the first hour – from the shaky camera movements and blazing fast edits to the Paul Oakenfold techno club soundtrack – that it never has the chance to win back the audience. Miller should stick to more low-key projects like “Bottle Shock,” because his embarrassment of a Guy Ritchie impersonation just isn’t going to cut it.

Click to buy “Nobel Son”

  

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