So. TCM the other day. First off, I walked in on the last hour or so of Quo Vadis, which I think I taped about ten years ago and never got around to watching. This was clearly a terrible oversight on my part, as it involves Robert Taylor, who I really, really like (he has a very distinctive voice, I don't really know how to explain it. Also, hot as the sun, if a little needy, in Camille); a pre-King and I Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov camping it up while Rome burns, and lions eating Christians. (The fact that the Christians patiently sing hymns while they're being eaten and crucified and flambéed burns Nero's toast like whoa, I might add.) But Nero's wife, who has a thing for Robert Taylor, who has a thing only for Deborah Kerr, decides that she's going to have Kerr and Taylor killed last in a special presentation. So she has Kerr all prettied up, tied to a stake, and fed to a... bull. I... I'm not sure she gets... how this works, exactly. I mean, yes, I know that her intention is that Deborah Kerr get gored while Robert Taylor watches in leather-bound agony, but even the bull is like, "Really? Are you sure about this? I mean... she's not moving at all. She's not even wearing red, which doesn't really work but at least it's a token gesture, you know? Have you not invented bullfighting yet? Do you not know how this goes? Can I have some hay now?" The bull wandering around aimlessly gets a little embarrassing for the empress after a while, but it does allow us 5600 shots of Robert Taylor valiantly tugging at his leather bonds (apparently, chains have not been invented yet). But Deborah Kerr's got some strongman friend in the ring with her trying to protect her, and after praying to the heavens, he spends fifteen minutes breaking the bull's neck. Poor bull. Then Robert Taylor breaks free! From leather! And runs to Deborah Kerr's aid! Seize them, army! But Robert Taylor is captain of the special army, and they're all still loyal to him! FIGHT! FIGHT! And then the doorbell rang and some guy with no teeth tried to sell me a Debris-Free Gutter System, and by the time I got back, some stalkative girl was trying to stab Nero, or help Nero stab himself, and Nero couldn't bring himself to stab Nero so Stalky Girl stabbed Nero, and then everyone was free and lived happily ever after. Except Nero. And the bull. Poor bull.
So then I actually tried to get some work done, so I kept an eye on The Fall of the Roman Empire but didn't really get into it until about the last forty-five minutes, maybe. So by the time I was paying attention, Marcus Aurelius was dead, and his daughter Lucilla and his son Commodus were locked in a triangle of intrigue with a northern commander named... Livius. I WANT MY MONEY BACK! Livius totally looked like a blond Neanderthal Ken, by the way--plastic, and nothing behind the
The sets, by the way, were huge and fantastic. The costumes, particularly Loren's, were kind of meh compared to Quo Vadis--she's running through Rome at the end in a dark, high-necked, long-sleeved gown, which is really just not getting your money's worth when doing a movie 1) set in Ancient Rome 2) starring Sophia Loren. Anyway, this one also ends with public death and torture--Livius and Lucilla and all their barbarian friends bound to posts, ready to burn. You can tell it's the end of the Roman Empire because they actually have chains now, by the way. Actually, Lucilla wasn't even there, and then she runs through Rome, as mentioned, while angsting to herself in a very echoey voiceover, and runs up to Livius and basically says, "Screw this noise, I want to die too!" And the soldiers are like, "Uh, sure... whatever. You got some more chains over there?" So then Commodus comes out in his Divine Roman God gladrags (I still can't get over the fact that this was Young Christopher Plummer) and is like, "I want to fight Livius! Because then the Roman people will know that I am the true Emperor! Mostly just for kicks, though." And they fight each other with sharp metal poles, just to make it as lame as possible, in an impromptu arena formed by soldiers holding up their shields, and every now and then they miss each other and I keep waiting to hear some muffled "OW!" back there. And finally Neanderthal Ken prevails and spits Commodus, and here's the kind of guy Commodus is: his last act as Emperor before Livius can take over, his last words, are "BURN THEM!" So the soldiers all set fire to Sophia and the barbarians (have you heard my new band, Sophia and the Barbarians?), and Livius runs to save her and uses the last sharp metal pole to pry her chains apart and rescue her. And meanwhile, his two blond friends (I'm pretty sure the squeaky blonde girl wasn't June Foray, but with this movie, who knows?), who are chained up a few feet away, are like, "Livius! Destroy Rome! Destroy it for us!" And so Livius and Lucilla run. Slowly, hesitantly, looking back every few feet (I am not kidding), because they can't believe that the Blondbarians just... you know... told them to go. "Don't worry about us! It's cool!" "Are... are you sure about that?" "No, no, we're fine! We probably won't finish burning for at least an hour, you guys just go on!" "Really? I mean, I have this sharp metal pole, I could just try to jimmy the--" "No, it's cool! Have fun!" So they run away, and Livius refuses to be Emperor, and the captain of the Roman army starts auctioning off the throne, because he pretty much holds the trump cards at this point, and by the time the credits roll they're up to three million denari. Eh. I like my cinematic civilization-falling to be a tad more literal. Couldn't Rome at least catch fire from the barbarian-roasting or something? ("It's okay, the fire's probably going out in a couple of hours, don't worry about it!")
Fidel Castro resigns Cuban Presidency; Castro’s Circle Likely to Hold Power After Resignation; On Havana’s Streets, Few Expect Much Change.
Microsoft's Yahoo bid heats up; Will Microsoft partner with Netflix?
Mexican drug hitmen kill singer near U.S. border.
L.A. deputies arrest four photographers in paparazzi crackdown.
Get ready for the eclipse that saved Columbus.
Coke stops donating to CoS-owned "charity"; Anti-$cientology crusader "commits suicide"; Scientology Strikes Back: "Anonymous is Fail"; Translated: Leah Remini's Crazy Scientology Email.
Guardian readers call shenanigans on columnist nepotism; Guardian sulks.
Jimmy Wales's Wikipedia Army Is Smarter Than Your Stupid Country.
Half the ONTD commenters think that "Diablo Quotey" is a real leaked script.
Nude Madonna Pic Fools Monroe Expert. Heh. I heard about the "nude Monroe hitchhiker" photo the other day and was like, "But if it's never been seen before, how was Madonna able to copy it for 'Erotica'?"
(Tangent: Back when I was editor of the college lit mag, I was going through a list of errata at some point. I seriously cannot remember anything else about the context, or the errors themselves, just that I had some sheet of paper with "ERRATA" at the top--maybe from a previous year's issue?--and I realized at some point that I was humming to myself: "Errata... errata... put your hands all over my copy...")
Life As A Hot Woman: Creepy [Publicity Stunts].
Steampunk Justice League costumes.
Classic SF movies rendered as Russian folk-art woodcuts.
Bram Stoker Nominees Announced. I have to tell you, it's a dream of mine to win one of these someday.
DVD Format Wars Over: Blu-ray Wins; R.I.P. HD DVD.
Jon Stewart Not Really Nervous About Phoning It In At Oscars; Singer preps for 'nerve-racking' Oscars gig. Look, as long as there's no Beyoncé, I'm okay with whatever happens.
David Yates to Direct "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"?; Rumor Update: Radcliffe Shoots Down Reports on Spielberg as Possible "Deathly Hallows" Director; Fenrir Greyback, Amycus Carrow Cast for "Half-Blood Prince"; No Phlegm [Fleur] for a Half-Blood Prince!; Toy Fair 08: New Gentle Giant Fred, George, Lupin Mini-Busts, New NECA Figures and More.
New Toys Will Vaporize The Contents Of Your Wallet [Toy Fair]; More Mattel Toy Pics; First Look at Two-Face! (as a Toy, and Blurry).
Dark Knight - Spoiler Alert! To be more specific, the presence of a character is revealed, which in turn reveals something of a plot point.
'Sweeney Todd' Hits DVD on April First and will be thoroughly loaded. Woohoo!
Zack Snyder Fans the Flames With New 'Watchmen' Still.
A better shot of Isla Fisher in 'Shopaholic.'
The Man Behind The Cloverfield Monster: Phil Tippett Talks Shop.
Law, Depp Confirmed In 'Parnassus.'
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy Rock the 'Boat'; Kenneth Branagh and Rhys Ifans Board 'The Boat that Rocked.'
Taylor Kitsch Playing Gambit in Wolverine Trilogy?! (wait, it's a trilogy now?); Will.i.am is John Wraith in 'Wolverine.'
It's Official - Live-Action Akira Confirmed Already for 2009.
Mike Myers is Daydreaming in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.'
Vanity Fair: 'Brideshead Re-Revisited' Scans. I was a little horrified at first that Emma Thompson was doing the silver-haired matron thing--she'll always be Margaret Schlegel to me--but she's really kind of rocking it.
Peter Sarsgaard Gives Carey Mulligan 'An Education.' "Variety reports that Lone Scherfig, the Danish filmmaker behind Happy-Go-Lucky, is gearing up to helm the feature, and this are the names she'll get to mold with her directorial hands: Peter Sarasgaard, Orlando Bloom, Alfred Molina, Sally Hawkins, Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson, Olivia Williams, and newcomer Carey Mulligan."
Patrick Wilson to star in "Barry Munday": "[The novel] Life is a Strange Place is the story of a womanizer called Barry Munday. One day, he gets caught in the act with a teenager, and her father lays the smackdown on the lady chaser -- so much so that the guy wakes up in the hospital and finds out that his balls had to be snipped off." Wait, haven't we already seen this movie?
One Final Epic 10,000 B.C. Trailer.
4 Horton Hears a Who TV Spots Online.
Teaser for Henry Selick's 'Coraline.'
First Look: 'Avatar' and 'Ice Age 3' Promos?
Trailer Updates: 'The Incredible Hulk' and 'The Mummy 3.'
'Where The Wild Things Are' Test Screenings Are Making Children Cry [Leaks].
trailer_spot: The Happening, Visitor, Nightwatching, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Indiana Jones.
David Fincher to Direct 'Black Hole.'
"Mr. Nobody": three stills from wedding scenes. Whoa, who's getting married to Harry Potter there in the second picture?
io9's Picks for WonderCon.
Ellen Page's 'The Tracey Fragments' Coming to U.S. Theaters.
"The Most Dedicated FANBOYS have Targeted The Weinstein Company for crimes against FANBOYS!" "Now, after delaying the release of the movie for over a year, the Weinstein Company (the studio who owns it) has decided to recut the entire movie so that it mocks Star Wars fans. They're planning to remove the cancer plotline and have the fans break into Skywalker Ranch for no reason at all - just because they're 'Death Star Dorks' (from the Weinstein Co. website). They plan to rip the heart out of the movie and turn it into a mindless comedy that ridicules Star Wars fans, instead of celebrating them." Okay, I don't really care either way, but the Weinstein cut does seem like it's going for the easy laugh--the cliché laugh. Maybe they think a larger number of people would rather laugh at SW fans than empathize with them? I don't know.