Wednesday, June 28, 2006

They're Doing What?

John Fusco is the writing "genius" who brought you Emilio Estevez as Billy The Kid in both Young Guns and Young Guns 2. He's been tapped by a major Hollywood production company to update another old classic.

Zhang Ziyi is the flower of the Orient who has starred in such classy films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She also managed to overcome her Chinese-ness to play a Japanese woman in Memoirs of a Geisha. A stretch that should've earned her an Oscar by Hollywood standards.
What these two facts have in common is this: The Seven Samurai. John Fusco has been tapped to write, dare I say "update," a Hollywood, big budget remake of the Akira Kurosawa classic from 1954. Zhang Ziyi has been asked to star. The tentative release date is 2008.

Now, it is true that Hollywood remade this film before. Most notably as The Magnificent Seven ("We deal in lead, friend.") and less gloriously as Battle Beyond the Stars (which like MS, starred Robert Vaughn). But they have never attempted a straight-up remake of the period movie. (Note to any Hollywood insider attached to this production, if you don't know what the term "Sengoku Kidai" means... You have no business remaking this movie.)

I'm not sure how they plan to improve upon perfection. I'm sure it is a plan that includes lots of "ninjas" (possibly even ninjas from Tibet). There's bound to be lots of karate kicking, and maybe even some Brazilian jujutsu thrown in. I expect full on Ken Watanabe, and maybe a guest appearance from Jackie Chan.

I'm really torn about this news because any remake is bound to be so bad that I'm going to enjoy the sheer tragedy of it all anyway. Much like Tom Cruise's laughable The Last Samurai.

Please Hollywood. Have some shame. Show some dignity. Don't do this. I'll even give you my $8 ticket fee now if you promise not to make this movie. It's sheer folly.

I expect to be following this development pretty closely. Do yourself a favor, if you haven;t already, and see all four wonderful hours of the original. It's a long time to watch a subtitled, black and white movie, but it is so worth your time if you love film -- even if you have no interest in "samurais" and "ninjas."

Training Video

Can you do this?

Keep training. Someone is always faster than you.

The Hoff in Berlin, looking for freedom

And now for some "Melt your eyeballs" entertainment.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you the performance that ended the Cold War.

And the jacket that blinded East German snipers.

Cross Plains, Where?

Cross Plains, texas doesn't have much to brag about. Excpet for Conan author Robert E. Howard. So every year they have a festival to honor this native son.
This is an actual picture of Robert E. Howard. Presumably it was staged.

Superman returns...

I have never been a big Superman fan. I acknowledge that he is the template for modern superheroes. I recognize the first two Richard Donner movies as being good films. But I'm just not that into Mr. Goody-2-Shoes. He's a big dork who always does the right thing, never waivers, never falters -- and never doubts. Give me Batman, or the Punisher, Wolverine, or even Spider Man (who's also kind of a gogdy-goody). I like my heroes dark and conflicted.

So why am I so excited about the new Superman film? I even dug out my copy of the original Donner movie and tried showing it to my kid. She hardly noticed. But there I was: Lois Lane precariously perched hundreds of feet above the Metropolis city street, dangling from a wrecked helicopter, and I got a lump in my throat when Christopher Reeve glances at phone kiosk (no more phone booths in 1978! Surely you remember pay phones?) and then ducks into a revolving door to emerge in his red, yellow and blue tights.

"Man. That's a bad out-fit!" says a corner pimp. Amen, brother. The stirring John Willimas score rises as Supes plucks Lois from certain death. Tears are rolling down my checks and I'm sniffling.

What is it? I don't know. Maybe I'm more moved knowing how brave Christopher Reeve really was as a man. Maybe I'm tapping into some childish part of myself. Maybe I'm fatigued from all the bad news (true, false, or simply biased) swirling around about my country. Superman is the best part of all of us, and that's why we like his image. Maybe we do need a little Superman again, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

Doesn't it get you? The image of the hero emerging from within a perfectly ordinary man.
This is one of my favorite Superman images. It was the cover of a tribute to the men and women of 9/11. The arrangement recalls an old image (I wasn't able to find it online; maybe one of you can) of a young boy with a homemade red cape and his dog looking up at a larger than life billboard of Superman. We all have heroes, it seems to say. So does this picture. There's a truth to this picture too. It's easy for Superman to be a hero -- he's invulnerable. It's easy to believe that he would admire the courage of mere mortals without any of his advantages.
Superman is an enduring symbol of strength that speaks to the better angels in all of us. I hear the movie is good. I hear it even still uses the old John Williams theme. I think I'll try to find some time to see it.

No, that's enough seriousness... On to the cheesecake!

Danica Patrick: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

A Girl for VAC: Michelle Rodriguez


OK... Not What I had expected, but still Blog-worthy...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Extreme HALO Jumping

The Wing. And the future practical use of the wing...

One line of trouble...


Who Couldn't Use a Little More Elizabeth Hurley in the Lives?

Greetings, fellow survivors!

Well, yesterday was the Day of the Beast: 06/06/06. Fortunately or unfortunately, the devil didn't make a grand entrance -- appearing as Liz Hurley or otherwise.
In fact, I'd venture to say that yesterday was about as ordinary a day as I've seen come and go in a long time. No waters turning into blood. No plague of frogs. No locusts. No great stars falling from the sky's firmament.
This guy -- who is most definitely not Liz Hurley -- is Anton Szandor Levay, author of the Satanic Bible and founder of the Church of Satan back in the sixties. He's dead now, so presumably he knows whether or not he threw his hat in with the right crowd. he was one weird dude, but his version of Satan worship ran towards more uninhibited orgies and zero on the sacrificing of babies, or even black cats.
One of my favorite recent depictions of Satan was in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. An Aramaic-speaking, androgynous fallen angel with a (forked) gilded tongue was very creepy. Even if he did dress like a rejected Sith Lord design from George Lucas' studio.

On a brief -- serious -- note: One of my favorite explanations for Satan's fall appears in Arabic thought. They say that when God created man, He recognized man as the pinnacle of all creation and commanded all His other creatures to bow before Man. Lucifer, loving God most of all, refused to bow before another mere creature because he reserved his reverence for God alone. For this impertinence, God cast the devil out of Heaven. It's a tragic story. I like the story because it has layers of meaning. The more you think about it, the more subtleties you can draw out. There's the tragic irony that it is the Devil's love which ultimately cuts him off from God. The arrogance normally attributed to being the Devil's downfall is there too: the Devil dares to second guess God's command.

But we can't be serious all the time. Take this guy. Is he really flashing the "sign of the devil?"
Must be, he's doing it on two different occassions. Doesn't he have enough trouble without being accused of being in league with the Devil?

Of course, everyone has photoshop these days...