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The Amazing Race: Interplanetary Edition

I was just reading that CBS has ordered approved a 20th season of The Amazing Race. You knew they would. The Amazing Race is one of those Survivor type show that never end, ever. I’ve never watched The Amazing Race. It’s too stressful. And I stopped watching Survivor about twelve incarnations ago. But obviously plenty of people still like them.

You would think between the two of them they’d run out of places to go. Twenty seasons of The Amazing Race and twenty two seasons of Survivor… that’s a lot of places. They only need one remote place for each Survivor season but for The Amazing Race they need something like fifteen different destination cities filled with people to help/hinder the participants. Add in all the different regional/national variations and spinoffs and literally the entire Earth has been re-discovered by game show contestants (Magellan would be so proud…)

Eventually people are going to start complaining that they’re repeating themselves. Rather than give up on such big moneymakers (which are relatively cheap to film compared to one hour dramas) and next thing you know they’ll announcing Survivor: Marianas Trench and The Amazing Race: Interplanetary Edition. Now THERE’S something I’d watch.

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Asteroids: The Movie

original photo by Neitnagel on Flickr

When I first heard a rumor that they were making a movie out of Asteroids, I thought they were kidding. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Asteroids, it’s an extremely primitive first generation video game where you play a spaceship that has to shoot a bunch of little rocks that fall from the top of the screen. How could anyone make a movie out of something that thin? It had to be an April fool’s gag. But it wasn’t. In fact, Roland Emmerich (known as the Destroyer of Worlds and Budgets to his friends) is REALLY MAKING THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW.

By all all accounts, the movie is about some humans and aliens living in an asteroid belt. I don’t even understand why he needed to buy the rights to this game to make a movie like that. Did they need to buy the rights to Asteroids for that bit in Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo was shooting his way out of an asteroid belt? Did they need to buy the rights to Asteroids to make Deep Impact or Armageddon? No, because you CAN’T COPYRIGHT A NATURAL OCCURANCE. Asteroids hit ships and planets and break them. It’s just something that happens. You can’t slap a trademark on it and say you invented it, thus forcing everyone who wants to use the concept to pay you money. If you could, we’d all be paying royalties every time we sneezed or stopped at a stop sign.

Roland Emmerich’s movies are usually ridiculous, plotless, distructo-fests (see 2012, 10,000 BC, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, and Independence Day… or rather don’t, because they’re bad) but Asteroids takes the cake. There is literally nothing to it, which means there’s two whole hours free to showcase the destruction wrought by big rocks banging into things. Gee, I can’t wait.

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Safe from Scream 5… for Now

According to this interview from Entertainment Weekly, we’re safe from another failed attempt to re-create the lightning-strike success of Scream for at least three months. With horror sequels coming out approximately one every two weeks, (just look at the Saw franchise, what number are they on now, twelve?) that’s saying something.

Craven has referred to both Scream 4 and My Soul to Take as ‘difficult’ films, which I guess is some sort of code for ‘bad.’ Even Wes Craven is trading on the Wes Craven name now, trying to pass phone-in jobs in no way comparable to Scream or even Scream 2 off on audiences like they’re priceless gems of horratic cinema (yes, I just invented a new word).

Sadly, Scream 4 studio exec Harvey Weinstein seems positive that there will eventually be a Scream 5 and that it will be directed by Wes Craven, so perhaps we’re not as safe as we think. I really do like Wes Craven’s earlier movies, so I choose to believe Weinstein’s got some sort of zombie voodoo magic working on Craven, forcing him to phone in awful sequel after awful sequel. I’m pretty sure that’s what “contractually obliged” means.

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Titanic 3D: A Blatant Money Grab

This just in: apparently James Cameron is the greediest person ever.

You remember James Cameron. That guy who holds the number one and number two spots for highest grossing movie of all time (and is nowhere near the top of the list of best movies of all time)? Remember how he made that movie Avatar and made more than two billion dollars off of it, then re-released it like two months later with a few extra minutes of footage just so he could rake in another nice big pile of money?

Well he’s doing it again. Only this time he’s dredging up his old movies and slapping some of that diorama-level fake 3D on them that was so unimpressive in movies like Clash of the Titans, which is even more insulting than asking audiences to pay 2011 prices for a movie from 1997. What’s next? A $90 4 disc 3D Blu-Ray set of Ghosts of the Abyss? A theme park ride of Piranha Part 2: The Spawning? Where does it end?

I’m sorry, I liked Titanic as much as the next person (the next non-psycho who only went to see it once and never bought anything with Leonardo DiCaprio’s face on it, that is), but I refuse to be a party to James Cameron’s efforts to line his swimming pool with money.

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The Dangers of Not Reading the News

“Don’t read the news.”

That’s the advice that old-hat celebrities give to the fresh-faced newcomers they’ve taken under their wings. I can see why. You read the news, you find out about that awful picture they snapped of you in your sweats after that horrible haircut, and you get upset. Then you moan to your normal friends about how much it sucks to be famous, at which point they attempt to strangle you, because even with working 14 hour days they still can’t manage to buy their whiny kids the designer shoes they want, and you just bought a Pacific island. So it’s better to just ignore the news completely, right?

Sure, if you want to have things like free time and sanity. Except sometimes it can backfire on you. If you don’t read the news, you don’t find out what people are writing about you, and if you don’t know what they’re writing about you, you can’t call them on it when it’s a lie, and the writers can easily slip untruths into the minds of the unsuspecting public, who, let’s face it, eat this s*** up.

Case in point: this situation, which actually blew up in 2000 but is back in the news because a movie is being made about it (of course). It goes like this: a Swiss journalist made up interviews with major celebrities and sold them to major magazines. AND NOBODY NOTICED. Not the editors. Not the readers. Not the celebrities. Not their publicists. This guy had been working in Hollywood since 1993, selling stories to big name European magazines, and it took them SEVEN YEARS to figure out what he was doing.

Granted, he probably got away with it because nobody in Hollywood has ever bothered to read a magazine in another language (What? Europe? Is that a planet?) But seven YEARS? In all that time nobody’s publicist’s assistant’s secretary even glanced at the COVERS of any of these magazines and thought: “Hmm. That’s funny. I don’t remember arranging that interview.”

It’s not like he was taking advantage of low level celebrities, either. Those guys would probably have let it slide because they still bought into the “any publicity is good publicity” tenet. No, he was making up interviews with rich, famous, big-name stars like Brad Pitt and Pamela Anderson.

There’s a lesson in all of this. It’s that you can make seven years’ worth of top freelance wages for lying, and then a bunch more money by writing a book about lying. I could use some more money. So here goes:

MY TOTALLY NON-MADE UP CELEBRITY INTERVIEW:

ME: Hey Brad Pitt! Got time for a few questions?
BRAD PITT: No. Get lost.
ME: Okay then.

Damn. Even in a fantasy land I suck at interviews!

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The Emperor’s New Dimension

I feel like I’m the victim of an elaborate hoax. Every time I go to see a 3D movie, I put on my special 3D glasses and the ads for 3D movies jump out of the screen. The movie starts playing, and it all looks quite rounded and three dimensional… until about ten minutes in, when it doesn’t anymore. Except for brief blips while a couple of flecks float across the screen or an axe jumps right out of it, after that ten minute mark, nothing can get me to see in 3D anymore. At first I just thought I had some sort of super-advanced hyper-adaptability disorder. Or that it was those stupid crosseyed magic eye puzzles all over again (I still have never once seen the hidden picture). But then I thought: what if I’m not the only one?

What if everyone is sitting in the theater with their goofy glasses on, thinking their 3D movie should look more 3D-like, but afraid to complain because they’re afraid they’ll be the only one, thereby singling themselves out as uncool. 3D is unquestionably the coolest thing you can do to a movie right now. In fact, those stupid glasses have even become a fashion statement. The problem is that a 3D movie is expensive to make. It’d be much more economical to just make the first few minutes of the movie and a couple of big events 3D and then leave the rest of it, relying on the audience’s herd instinct to draw in the crowds. It’d be ingenious. A deception on the scale of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Well, I’m going to be that little kid who shouts out that the emperor is naked. Because I can’t see 3D, so therefore I don’t see the point in paying an extra three dollars to see a movie where nothing is different. Most movies come out in both 2D and 3D, so thankfully I still have an option. But how long will it be before 2D disappears entirely and you have no choice but to pony up the steep fee for the 3D version? Soon, unless you start mentioning to the emperor that you can see his willy too.

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The 7 Stages of Being Stuck in a Time Loop

Last week, when I was reviewing the trailer for a movie called The Repeaters, I observed that in movies and TV episodes where a character ends up repeating a day, the character always goes through the same emotional progression, even if they don’t do the exact same things. It’s almost like the 7 Stages of Grief. I call them the 7 Stages of Being Caught in a Time Loop and I’ve laid them out for you here with an example that I made up myself.

1. Confusion

“La la la, I’m walking to school… argh! Dog poop! Wait… didn’t I step in dog poop yesterday? In the exact same place? What a weird coincidence.”

2. Disbelief

“No, no, no, it’s clearly not possible that this day is the exact same as the last day. Even if my homeroom teacher just gave us the exact same assignment. And is wearing the same clothes two days in a row… along with everyone else. It’s clearly all just a hugely elaborate practical joke.”

3. Curiosity

“Time for an experiment. If today is exactly the same as yesterday, then I should be able to kick out behind me right NOW and hit that jerk in the balls before he can sneak up behind me and put a spider in my hair… holy s*** it worked!”

4. Recklessness

“If tomorrow is just going to be today all over again, it really doesn’t matter what I do right now – like strip off all my clothes and run naked through the cafeteria! Wheeee!!”

5. Frustration/Hopelessness

“Ugh, god, how many times am I going to have to sit through this day? I’ve already stolen a boat, painted the school lime green, let chickens loose in the boys’ locker room, and exploded the chemistry lab. I give up. My fountain of creativity has gone dry.”

6. Determination

“That’s it. I’m not going to stop until I figure out why I’m repeating this day! You think maybe it has something to do with those green sprinkles mom put in my cereal after I complained about how she always serves the same thing for breakfast?”

7. Understanding

“Okay, what’s the antidote for green sprinkles? Red sprinkles? Nope. A tuna fish sandwich? Nope. Asking mom to lay off the sprinkles? Nope. Not eating the cereal? No again. Geez, something’s gotta work. Maybe I should just tell her I’m sorry already. Hey! There we go! This whole thing was just to teach me a lesson!”

Test out this formula by watching one of the following yourself: Groundhog Day, Source Code, Triangle, The Repeaters, The X-Files episode “Monday”, the Supernatural epsisode “Mystery Spot,” the Fairly OddParents Christmas special, or any one of a vast number of time-loop related stories. You can even read a book if you’re so inclined. Todd Strasser’s Help! I’m Trapped in the First Day of School and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, are likely candidates.

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An Open Letter to Fly Away Home

Dear Fly Away Home,

I think you’re a pretty good movie. It was pretty cute how Anna Paquin plays a little girl with a dead mum who bonds with abandoned geese. I’m impressed that you actually got real geese to act in you. That can’t be easy, what with all the honking and pooping. And Jeff Daniels made a pretty cool dad. I can even almost forget that he was in Dumb and Dumber. I would have loved to fly across the continent in an ultralight with my dad when I was fourteen.

hell, I’d do it now!


It’s just that, when we get to the part were they’re flying across Lake Ontario, and they show up on the Americans’ radar (you know the part I mean) you start to get a little ridiculous. I mean, the radar operators at the Air Force base look at a screen that looks like this:


a radar screen showing geese

some v-shaped radar blips


….and immediately go “it’s that girl and her geese!” I know you only did it to move the story along faster and skip a bunch of steps of officials calling officials and people with binoculars reporting to other people with binoculars. But you and I both know that they wouldn’t really say that, and here’s why:


Geese are not made of metal. Just FYI.


Ergo geese do not show up on radar, since radars are designed to send out waves that bounce off of metallic objects and metallic objects only. This is a good thing, because otherwise radar screens all over North America would look like this from September to January:


a radar screen showing the geese invasion

a whole lotta blips!


During such a situation the Air Force would not think: “Oh how cute, that little girl’s geese all had little geese babies and now they’re all coming to visit us for Christmas.” They would think: “Oh dear God! We’re being invaded! Launch everything we have!!” The result would be:


migrating geese by r scott keehn on Flickr... plus a missile

total geese annihilation


Just between you and me, Fly Away Home, I might not mind if there were a FEW less geese to poop in my yard. But total geese annihilation? That’s going a little too far. And that’s the scenario you’re setting up in the Fly Away Homeworld, if you establish that geese show up on radar. So you might want to find another way to clue the Air Force in to the presence of guided geese next time. Just in case you want to make a sequel fifteen years after the original (hey, it happens! Look at Star Wars!)

Remember, I’m only saying this because I like you, and I want you to be the best movie you can be. Geesespeed, my friend.

Sincerely,
Kat

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The Impracticalities of Being a Female Superhero

If you’re a reader of comic books (sorry, “graphic novels”), a player of video games, or a watcher of movies, you’ve no doubt noticed that the female superheroes always seem to have hardly any clothes on, and what little they do wear is skintight and usually made of leather. Their hair is generally about four feet long and salon styled with some sort of headbands or ribbons that are more adornments than tie-backs, and their boots have heels in excess of six inches. This is all well and good if you’re a drooling fan watching the female superhero, but what if you ARE the female superhero?

You would have to hope there was never anything on a high shelf that you needed, because your skintight uniform would make it impossible to raise your arms above your head.

You’d have to cart around an extra large purse with your sneakers and sports bra in it, just in case any criminals tried to get away, otherwise you’d end up with two sprained ankles and a bad concussion from your huge, wildly jiggling boobs hitting you in the face.

You’d be limited to about two months out of the year for superheroing unless you lived in the tropics, because wearing a string bikini outside in a New York City winter will give you frostbitten nipples no matter how vigorously you’re working out.

You’d have to avoid any rooms containing conveyor belts, engines, garbage disposals, large clocks, or any machinery with rotating parts for fear of your improbably long hairdo getting caught in the works and ripping your whole scalp off.

You would have to approach criminals from the front and hope the sight of your rather arresting costume will freeze them in place so you can nab them, because with all that leather creaking and groaning, you’d only be able to sneak on the deaf representatives of the feloniusly inclined.

You would have to coat the inside of your uniform torso with double sided tape to reduce the chances of the ladies springing free in the middle of a punch-up.

You would have to keep a hospital-worthy collection of gauze pads and antibacterial cream in your super-purse to treat your super rug burns in case you had to slide under a truck, brush against a brick wall, or touch anyone who hadn’t shaved yet that day.

On the other hand, though, if you ever had to go after a straight female or a gay male criminal, they would be easy to apprehend on account of they would fall over laughing the instant they caught sight of your ridiculously impractical outfit.

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Signs You May Not Be A Very Good Actor

Actors make their livings by pretending to be other people. The characters they play often have different opinions, different lives, different feelings, and – unless the actor is very famous and producing the movie themselves – a love interest that is NOT played by their significant other. That’s no problem for a very good actor. He or she just puts on their game face for the duration of the scene and takes it off again when it’s over. For bad actors, things aren’t so easy. How can you tell whether you’re a good one or a bad one? Look for these signs.

  • If you find yourself continually breaking up with your current significant others to date your on-screen love interests, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors can tell the difference between fake love and real love.
  • If you start to notice that all your roles are basically you in different outfits, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors like to mix up their roles, broaden their creative horizons, and try new things.
  • If you have been asked to degrade yourself on a reality television show (Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Apprentice, etc.), and you have accepted, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors don’t have the time to be in reality television shows, nor the inclination to be listed alongside such names as Gary Busey and “that guy that got kicked off of the Bachelorette that time.”
  • If you can buy DVD copies of all of your recently released movies from the dollar bins at discount department stores, you’re probably not a very good actor. Barring random flops, only the oldest movies made by very good actors end up in the cheapie bins unless they’re used.
  • If you get more face time on talk shows and celebrity “news” magazine covers talking about your personal life than you do in your acting gigs, you may not be a very good actor. Very good actors tend to like to keep their private lives separate from their work. What you are is a celebrity.
  • If you notice that people in the audience members at your film’s test screenings and premieres tend to roll their eyes or make snorting noises whenever you’re performing a very serious scene, you may not be a very good actor. In fact, you’re almost certainly not a good actor, unless the screening is for sufferers of Tourette’s Syndrome.
  • If you find that directors are taking away scenes where you’re meant to give significant looks and replacing them with dialogue along the lines of “I feel so sad!” then you’re probably not a very good actor. Directors tend to trust very good actors to get emotions across without speaking.
  • If you notice that your audition process tends to involve more shirt removals than speaking, you’re probably not a good actor. They just want you for your body.
  • And finally: if you go online to read articles like this, hoping they’ll say even one thing that doesn’t sound like you so you can convince yourself you’re not like those other losers, you’re probably not a very good actor!

Sorry. Maybe you should become a dental hygienist instead.

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