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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2009!
   Assistant Editor / Co-Moderator:  Terence Nuzum.                 HOME           ARCHIVES
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our tenth calendar year!
Number 497  (Vol. 10, No. 40). This edition is for the week of September 28--October 4, 2009.

"Whip It"
Living Fanboy: The Great Star Wars Haul
Memoirs of an Otaku
Peace Be With You....just Not In Iran .... The Olympic Tour? .... Healthcare Update: Moveon Strikes Back .... Die Quickly? Holocaust? .... Obama Worship .... Ayers Wrote It? .... .... e
Polanski .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... o

Fall Has Fell
Fall Has Fell
"Surrogates" (Movie Review)
Roman Polanski's Arrest
Readers' Comments


FALL HAS FELL
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

OCTOBER BIRTHDAYS
Ashley Lewis, Oct 2, 25 yrs
Hugo Morley, Oct 2, 42 yrs
Josh Montgomery, Oct 4, 26 yrs
Lisa Rio Zubeck, Oct 5, 44 yrs
Josh Sullivan, Oct 13, 28 yrs
Autumn Rio, Oct. 18, 27 yrs
Paul Guzzo, Oct. 20, 34 yrs
Corey Castellano, Oct 27, 46 yrs
Mike "Deadguy" Scott, Oct 28, 38 yrs
It ain't Fall for me in Florida until I feel the first waft of outside air that's sub-75 degrees. Such a waft was felt last night (as I write these words) and it felt pretty damn good, I must say. Tonight should provide a repeat before we zoom back up to the familiar 80 and 90-degree steambath this weekend. That's OK, 'cuz I hate the cold anyway. But a breather from the stifling humidity is always welcome.

That...and my review of "Surrogates" declares the end of Summer for yours truly and the official beginning of Fall.


"SURROGATES"
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

I got quite a surprise Monday morning when Splash Page/State of the Nation scribe Brandon Jones spontaneously took the day off from work and pitched the idea we take in a matinee. It's been years since we'd done such things regularly, so after the shock subsided and he explained that this was likely a one-shot deal at least until year's end, we went over some possibilites.

Pretty slim pickin's out there right now, but with not much else to tempt us we decided on the Bruce Willis sci-fi action vehicle Surrogates. Despite it only coming in second on its opening weekend behind Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and I wasn't really in the mood for a kid's movie, and I hadn't seen anything approaching sci-fi since the over-rated District 9, Surrogates it was.

"Surrogates" (2009)
Touchstone Pictures
Cast: Bruce Willis (Tom Greer), Radha Mitchell (agent Peters), Rosamund Pike (Maggie Greer), Boris Kodjoe (FBI boss Stone), Ving Rhames (The Prophet), and James Cromwell (Lionel Canter)
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 88 minutes

In the not-too-distant future, technology has advance to the degree where humans are no longer required to participate in day-to-day activies in person, but can remotely control, via a special device, their "surrogate", a highly-advanced robotic twin that takes their place in society. In fact, the robot doesn't even have to be a twin, it can be whatever gender and age you want. The owner/controller merely relaxes in something resembling a dentist's chair, then dons a headpiece with eye-covers to connect with their surrogate. The pitch is it's safer than actually going outside. Such is the genius of the future inventor of all this, Lionel Canter (James Cromwell).

(About this point you're all probably thinking of at least a dozen other movies or TV shows with this same set-up. I know I did. Bear with me...)

All is hunky-dorey in this near crime-free society until a weapon is brandished that not only destroys a robot's workings, but fries the host/operator's brain as well. Several of these murders occur, pointing to a new kind of serial killer.

Enter FBI special-agents Greer and Peters (Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell). Looking rather artificial themselves (hint, hint), they are assigned the duty of finding who the killer is, and more importantly, the kind of weapon used.

Of course, there are those who object to this dehumanizing of society and have created a renegade sect that prohibits humans interacting with surrogates. They are led my The Prophet (Ving Rhames). Could this activist sect be behind the killings?

There is every effort, it seems, to enable the viewer to fairly easily pick out the surrogates from the real counterparts. The bad wigs and heavy make-up make everyone resemble dime-store mannequins. Seeing Bruce Willis' surrogate with a god-awful blonde wig of a 30-year-old is really funny. When he appears as his real self he is, well, late 50-something Bruce Willis. Reassuring. Trying to reconnect with his wife--the real human one--forms the basic subplot.

The acting is strong given the extremely derivative script they're given. I picked out pieces of I Robot, Logan's Run, Minority Report, and Brainstorm just to name a few off the top of my head. Nevertheless, director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) managed to craft a decently enjoyable way to pass ninety minutes. James Cromwell is great (as always) as the conflicted billionaire-inventor, but his actual screen-time is short. Bruce Willis is actually who makes this watchable. I don't think I'd've gone if it were anyone else.

I give this points for good special effects (the KNB guys), watchable actors, and a very fast-paced story. But I have to deduct points for its extremely derivative nature and open-ended loopholes. (I'm going to side-step the political/social ramifications of a world where, when you can pick what you want to look like, ethnic diversity is at a minimum.) On our zero-to-four star system, I give Surrogates Two and a Half Stars.


ROMAN POLANSKI'S ARREST
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

I'm only posting this out of a sense of journalistic duty since the Message Board has already been blazing about it for a few days.

Following a 30-year exile overseas, director Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown) has been arrested for flight from justice. Thirty years ago, he was convicted for statutory rape on a 13-year-old (look it up, a heart-warming story), but fled the country when the trial judge reneged on a plea deal. His fugitive status ended a few days ago when he was arrested at the age of 76 at an event where he was to pick up a lifetime achievement award.

Looks like justice will be served after all.

A Message Board thread has been started on this topic



Readers' Comments

The Readers' Comments section for this issue of PCR is now closed. To continue to interact, please use the Message Board or write a Letter to the Editor! The comments below are listed starting with the most recent. Thank you.

Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.
Steve Beasley [06-10-2009 01:47] 
Mike, your Polanski piece is right on target! Excellent!
Michael [04-10-2009 10:30] 
Chris, wouldn't that make for a great film. And the finale would be taken from the film "Ricochet" where Manson and Polanski face off against each other wearing phone books as armor while weilding shanks. Of course, since Charlie has survived every possible type of attack, including being set on fire, I'd have to give him the edge.
Michael [04-10-2009 10:27] 
T, if you read my note you will see that I am not fine with what Polanski did, nor do I think that just because the girls mom decided to whore out her daughter makes what happened o k. I'm just saying that it was a series of bad decisions that led to what happened.
Steve Beasley [04-10-2009 03:42] 
I can beat that! The closest 7 Eleven to me is a 12 hour's away by plane.
Worried Commenter [03-10-2009 19:21] 
I just found out there isn't a 7 Eleven within a 200 mile radius from me.
Steve [03-10-2009 17:06] 
Well, I hope Letterman's wife is cool with that. They may have an 'open' marriage. It's very common these days.

*JAB* Take THAT religious right and neo-cons!

I wish him luck.

=====
On another note, the weather is just beginning to warm up, thank goodness.
World Wide Puff Chrissy [03-10-2009 06:06] 
Or to be more specific, there was a blackmailing attempt on Letterman for $2 million because he had been having an affair(s) with a female member(s) of his staff. Instead of giving in, he went on his show and acknowledged the affair(s) and the extortion plot.

It was bizarre, but impressive.
Terence [02-10-2009 20:43] 
oh just totally gave back a dose of medicine to a blackmailer.
The Beaz [02-10-2009 20:10] 
Being that I won't find out for a few months, due to my serving a stretch of 8 to 10 in the 7th level of Hell...what did David Letterman do?
Terence [02-10-2009 11:50] 
David Letterman is the fing man. nuff said.
Nolan [01-10-2009 23:38] 
Brandon, the "Obama worship song" link you posted on State of the Nation has been removed by YouTube.
Terence [01-10-2009 19:33] 
re:Polanski

i love how people think that if they blame the mother Polanski is off the hook. regardless if the mother made a bad call he still did what he did! regardless if the mother did it on purpose to sue or something again he did what he did! end of story. there is no valid argument here.its not so much that she was 13 people (she was already sexually active) its that she was drugged and raped!!!! geez and I thought I was the leftist radical. you guys make me look conservative.
Chris Woods [01-10-2009 17:48] 
ED - Cool, will do.
ED [01-10-2009 17:44] 
Chris, we got EVERYTHING down to the pictures on the wall and we could have probably taken the shelves too if we had pushed the issue. The problem was there was only so much room in the article for photos and I wanted to keep it Star Wars centric. If you would like to see some of the photos of the other stuff, shoot me and E-mail and I will send them to you.
Chris Woods [01-10-2009 17:06] 
Mike - That's funny that mention Polanski in the same cell block as Manson. That would make a great movie idea. Polanski stuck in prison finally gets revenge on Manson for the killing of his wife. The two could both have followers in the prison and start a war with each group or the two 70 years olds go at it to the death.
Chris Woods [01-10-2009 17:00] 
ED Ė Glad you liked the Private Parts review. I actually got it at Big Lots for $3, like you mentioned. Great deal on a very cool horror film.

I enjoyed your article on the Star Wars collection. You guys hit the jackpot with all that. Thank you for the mention and Iím very cool with the title. I think itís a great homage to my column and I thank you for that. Thatís cool that guy kept all his Star Wars toys in good condition. I saw in one of the picture they had the Bespin Cloud City playset from the Sears catalog, very cool. You mentioned he had Star Trek, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galctica toys, did you guys buys those too or just the Star Wars stuff?
Michael [01-10-2009 14:32] 
ED, great piece on collecting. Who grabbed the "1941" one sheet?
I've got a full basement plus a 10x15 storage unit full of goodies. Since you like to catalog, let me know when you'll be in Kansas City. My wife thanks you in advance!

There was a great documentary released last year (I taped it off HBO) about the Polanski case. Though I am not excusing what happened I find it funny that no one ever mentions the mother who dropped her "little girl" off a Jack Nicholson's house for a "photo shoot." I'm reminded of a very quick scene (well documented in the novel) in "The Godfather." When Tom Hagen drops by the film producer's house there is a very quick shot of a young girl dressed like Cindy Brady, leaving the house with her mother. The lipstick on the girl's over made up face is smeared so you know what's been going on.

Of course, in a more ironic world, Polanski would be sentenced to 5 years and get put in the same cell block as Charles Manson.
ED [01-10-2009 11:05] 
Chris - I have always been a fan of the film Private parts. I love the way it is such a dark film with a cast composed mostly of recognizable television actors. Also, any film where Chip Douglass gets his candy ass conked on the head is a winner in my book! You can find copies of this DVD at Big Lots right now for $3. Money well spent.
Lonnie Dohlen [01-10-2009 09:54]  
Surrogates reminds me of a Michael Bay Film called "The Island" (2005) Starring Ewan McGregor.
Blueboy [01-10-2009 05:13] 
Too...... cold.... brrrrrrrr. Floridian all my life. Never seen snow. Can't function below 65.
I need my blankee.
Jason Fetters [01-10-2009 01:12]  
Terence - I am a big fan of Captain Harlock. While I was at USF in Tampa, I had a Japanese roommate. He grow up on Captain Harlock. So one Friday, we watched the English dubbed version and he was practicing English by watching old anime he grew up.
Funny that you mention Galaxy Express. When I was a student at Kansai Gaidai in Osaka, Japan, I met someone who was in the process of localizing Galaxy Express for the US market. He wanted me to watch the show and tell him if it would sell overseas. I liked it so I gave it a good recommendation. I'm not sure if he ever follow through and releasesd it or if its been re-released here on DVD here.
Chris Woods [30-09-2009 19:36] 
Yes, the weather is getting nice. Not real hot and not a lot of rain. Fall is good.
Tampan Downunder [30-09-2009 16:31] 
I'm with ya on that, thank god we've just come into Spring. I can't wait for summer!
Major Major [30-09-2009 15:57] 
Yuck. It's been cool up here in Tallahassee, which I suppose is nice, but I have no threshold for cold (unlike heat),
Nolan [30-09-2009 12:38] 
Point well-taken about Bladerunner. I never saw Freejack, so can't comment specifically, but I'm sure you're right. Heck, they borrowed from about everything else, so why not?
Brandon [30-09-2009 10:39] 
Surrogates used several elements from "Freejack"
Simon Lynx [30-09-2009 09:16] 
Nolan - it was 50 degrees here in JAX last night
Terence [30-09-2009 09:12] 
Jason-

I see that you mentioned Starblazers. Im not anime fan per se. the only anime I really like is anything that Leije Matsumoto touches. the guy is genius and transcended everything that turned me off from anime. His stuff was cinematic and the two features of Galaxy Express and the Harlock film are some of the best things ever made. just wondering where to you place Galaxy Express on your list of anime? I also like Cowboy Bebop because I feel its the same asthetic of Matsumoto type anime with the whole epic storylines and most importantly that regardless of all the sci fi elements and wacky characters its about human emotions and issues.
Terence [30-09-2009 09:00] 
re: Surrogates

I know you cited several other films that this seems to derivative of but the only one that I think it sounds like right down to the conflicted Billionaire inventor is Blade Runner.
Terence [30-09-2009 08:52] 
re: Fall has Fell

thank fing god. maybe finally we can get a relief. i hate the heat. i hate sweating. who the hell wants to sweat? when its at its hottest I cant ger cool enough but at least when its cold I can get warm. why did I have to be born in Florida? lol

re:Polanski

one of the most horrendous things I read was some prime minister or something or other of Poland saying how wrong and awful this is to be doing this to such a respected man. like seriously. if it was conseual i would have no problem. I mean hey in the old days 14 year olds used to get married. you know what you are doing at 14 but not when youve been tricked into downing wine for a photoshoot and then pressured into taking pills. thats just rape.
First in Line Lisa [30-09-2009 08:45] 
First!

Just updated the film news column. My surrogate is hard at work on my FANGRRL column. :)
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
End of Comments    


"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2009 by William Moriaty    "FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2009 by ED Tucker     "Splash Page" is ©2009 by Brandon Jones     "State of the Nation" is ©2009 by Brandon Jones    "Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2009 by Chris Woods    "Sports Talk" is ©2009 by Chris Munger     "The Asian Aperture" is ©2009 by Jason Fetters     "Musical Musings" is ©2009 by Robert Tyler      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova    
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