Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed. Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2001 Banner! Number 69 (Vol 2, No. 29).  This edition is for the week of July 16--22, 2001.
Odds and Ends

Another nutty weekend. I'm still sore from all the moving and sleepless days, but the good news is my last storage unit is closed. I won't have that bill to pay anymore. However, bringing everything home in a hurry gives new meaning to the word "packed". It's pretty crowded in here.

Typical of fanboy fashion--altho I avoided it as long as I could afford to--my current home navigation style is that weird sideways gait, hugging-the-wall-James-Bond-style-side-step I'm sure you all of the more crazed collector persuasion are all familiar with. But at least this time I planned ahead and was able to get most of it in here in an organized fashion and can gradually organize it further down the line. Special thanks go out to my brother Ron Canova and my close friend Count Poffula for their invaluable assistance during this last ordeal. (There was a previous ordeal back in April with the first warehouse. It was even worse.)

Internet Romance    It's been a couple weeks since I've forced my readers to swallow any more of this, but seeing as it's a slow news week, I thought it might be a good time to empty the closets of one more "internet romance" story. This one is good friend Greg Van Stavern's story.
   Greg was one of the first people I knew to own a personal computer and get to know it pretty well. I was always impressed at his grasp of its workings. He used to come by my place of employment to show me different things he'd downloaded and printed out. So he was quite considerate, too. But, over a year or so ago, he started coming by less and less. It took quite a while before I discovered that he had discovered chatrooms and was meeting people--women in particular--online.
   Around the Spring of last year he introduced us to one woman he met online (who shall remain nameless--she's still around) he was pretty crazy about who had a lot of fangirl attributes, and altho she had a much more dominant personality than his, they seemed happy together. Long story short: it didn't work out and went down in flames--BIG flames for Greg--last Fall. Greg was unbelievably devastated. Had it stopped there, this would have been a "when good internet romances go bad" column. But with the help of his friends--some still online only--he got through it (I'm oversimplifying for time considerations---it was real rough). Greg resumed internet contact and about Spring of this year met another girl ("Dee") who is apparently a much better match. We all met her, and they recently announced their engagement to be married. (Yes, things move pretty quickly around these parts anymore...)
   Greg and I go back pretty far (he's also over 40), so this is a pretty big deal. We, of course, wish him and Dee the best.

Deadguy's Dementia
Deadguy reviews "Unbreakable"---the DVD release.

Unbreakable poster
Writer/Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson
Released: 2000

Ok, I've never done a movie review before, but after seeing this movie on DVD, I felt compelled to write. It stars Bruce Willis, and Samuel L. Jackson as the main two characters, and is a very gripping movie. I'm not sure how the movie was received by the regular string of movie critics, but even in my home, it received a mixed reaction.
   Here's the scoop: One train de-rails, and another train tears right through the passenger section of it. Out of all the passengers aboard, only one man manages to survive the ordeal. Not only does David Dunn (Bruce Willis) survive, but he survives it without a scratch. In fact, it seems that unbeknownst to David, he may have a gift that has taken care of him for a long time....
   This gift is one that someone else has been patiently searching for from the shadows; a strange comic-book-obsessed man with a terrible affliction is becoming obsessed with David. As his obsession grows stronger, David's life of being merely a run-of-mill father, husband, and security guard, will change forever.

That's more information than I had when I saw the movie, and so it turned out to be a very gripping film for me. All I knew was that someone survived a trainwreck in the beginning of the film, and Bruce and Samuel were in it. (Hey! that's good enough for me!)
   Bruce is, of course, playing himself again, but there's no one that can play that role as well as HE does. Samuel is doing something in his role that, although new, feels refreshingly familiar, while mildly upsetting at times.
   The Writer/Director, M. Night Shyamalan (who also did "The Sixth Sense"), decided that these two actors would best suit the film because those are the two characters he wanted. He's quoted as saying, "You can't ask someone to act like Sam Jackson. If you want Sam Jackson, you hire Sam Jackson. I tailor-made this role to his kind of sarcasm, his drilling eyes that glare at you and that kind of staccato when he talks. I literally watched and listened to what words would sound good coming out of his mouth and tried to write the kind of spitfire knowledge that he can do so well into the script."
   Shyamalan had a very powerful vision to present in this film, and pulled it off wonderfully. I DID have a bit of a problem with some of the more distracting camera angles, and tricks, but there are a few unusual camera sequences in there that really DO make the film feel more immersive. It's definitely becoming a trademark for this guy. He's also got a flair for highlighting realism within a script that calls for incredible events.
   For example, his treatment of the actual train wreck will surprise most folks (if they know all about the film). He basically understates the train wreck, and there is no footage of the wreck itself occurring. It's Shyamalan's belief that although it would fit the genre to show that type of thing, it would add to the realism if viewers were allowed to draw their own conclusions based on the realistic familiar reactions to the events, rather than the actual event itself.
   Familiar reactions such as concerned relatives glancing at each other while desperately awaiting news of loved ones that were on the train. The inability of the hospital to release survivor names until the relatives of the deceased had been contacted creating additional stress from teary-eyed family members that begged, "but our daughter was on that train.." The haunting looks given to David as he walks, unscathed but numb, through the hospital on his way out. The tension is palpable. The relative silence is destroyed by the news crews as David nears the hospital entryway. The overall haunting shock and surrealness managed to do a MUCH better job at conveying the situation, and giving the viewer something they can understand, and relate to. The levels being addressed here are amazing.

   Shyamalan is very adept at creating an eerie type of story line, where you don't really know the REAL story being told until right near the end of it. As you watch it, you THINK you know what's happening, and it's not until a startling revelation occurs that you can go back and piece everything together. The small details that you may not have even NOTICED as being odd, suddenly have meaning, and you begin to understand the story that's actually being told.

As noted above, I watched the DVD version of this movie. If you have a DVD player, and have any interest in comic books, I'd recommend getting the DVD for the extra features alone! There's a 2nd DVD in the box just for the extra features. Included as extras are several items, but I've listed my favorite ones here.
   There are fully-produced deleted scenes, with an introductory commentary to explain why each scene was removed. These are amazing. With my own interest in making movies, I found it to be quite interesting to learn why some of these REALLY GOOD scenes were cut from the film.

There are behind-the-scenes stuff at almost every stage of production.
   There's also a section called "Comic Books and Superheroes", which is a featurette with Samuel L. Jackson. There are several familiar comic book faces within this featurette, and it's interesting to get their views on how and why comic book heroes have changed since the inception of comics.
   There's even a funny excerpt of Writer/director Shyamalan's first fight scene. It's interesting to note while watching this horribly bad sequence showing kids pretending to beat each other up, that some of the punches, although evidently staged, weren't really that bad as far as "realistic contact" goes.

All in all, I really enjoyed the movie. My girlfriend admits to being gripped by the tale, but when it was all over with, she said that she's actually uncertain about whether she liked the movie or not. I'm not TOO surprised, because the storyline seemed to operate outside of the normal scope of the movies she likes, yet the storyline was really well done. It's almost as though she didn't like the movie personally, but could certainly see why SOME folks would love this film.
   The problem I had with the film is that it's actually just the first and second act of a story. Apparently the original script was "fuller" but it required that the 1st and 2nd acts be "rushed." Shyamalan felt that he could just take the first part of the story and stretch it, and use THAT for his film. It certainly works, but at the same time, there's a sense of getting to the top of the roller coaster full of anticipation, then as you start the speeding downward descent, you suddenly realize that the end of the ride is unavoidably DIRECTLY around the next bend, and it's time to go home.
   If there was a part two to this film, I would probably give higher recommendations for this part of the story, but unfortunately, I suspect that a continuation to this story-line might actually be anticlimactic. I'd have to see it, obviously.

So, in a nutshell, I personally really liked the DVD version of this film, but I hesitate to STRONGLY recommend it to you unless you fit any two of the following three pre-requisites.. You should:
   #1-- like super-hero comic books, or at least appreciate them, and/or
   #2-- have an interest in filmmaking on some level, and/or
   #3-- like the standard Bruce Willis, and/or Samuel L. Jackson characters.
   #4-- like the style of the "The Sixth Sense".

If you have all four pre-requisites, then RUN, don't walk to your nearest DVD retailer and get yourself a copy! However, if you don't have a DVD player, you'll NEED all four pre-requisites to truly enjoy a rented VHS copy of this movie.

©2001 by Michael Scott
The Deadguy's Dementia header graphic is a creation of Mike Scott
Mike's still got some Star Wars stuff for sale!

Cats and Dogs             Movie review by Lisa Zubek
* * * out of  * * * * stars
Stars Jeff Goldblum and Elizabeth Perkins with the vocal talents of Sean Hayes (of Will and Grace fame), Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jon Lovitz.
Directed by: Lawrence Guterman
Rated: PG
Running Time: 93 min.

Lisa the Movie MavenPersonal note from Lisa: Iím baaack! So sorry for my long absense, I had Strep Throat from HELL, and then I got terribly busy with work. I got a new promotion, I am now WFLAís street reporter, and I am still doing my weekend anchor gig on FRN. Doesnít leave me with a lot of down time when you factor in my 3 kids, 2 dogs, one cat, one rabbit AND my husband. That being said, I know youíve all missed me terribly and that youíve been crying in your collective beer, waiting in breathless anticipation for my next lambast. Well, my pretties, yer gonna have to wait a while longer, cuz Nolan asked me to do a movie review this week. Now, this not being my forte, go easy on me about my reviewing style, ík? Now, without further ado, I present to you (insert fanfare here):
Scintillating Summer Cinema by Lisa The Movie Maven
"Cats and Dogs" ....Bone, James Bone.

As summer movies go, this piece of fluff is as entertaining for adults as it is for children. Using a combination of live-action, puppetry and CGI, Warner Brothers Pictures has created a gem of a film which offers a peek into what your domesticated pals are up to when you're not looking. This movie has everything youíd expect from a Summer offering; assassins, nifty weponry, high-tech James-Bond-like gadgets, ninja kitties and, of course, a hero who triumphs over evil.
in this case comes in the form of a white Persian cat named Mr. Tinkles, who is presented in a WAY over-the-top performance by "Will and Grace"ís Sean Hayes. As the power-mad Mr. Tinkles and his feline minions, who are hell-bent on world domination begin mass mobilization, it is up to the super-spy canines to stop them. Led by a beagle puppy named Lou, voiced by Tobey Maguire, the pooches have their work cut out for them.

As the story unfolds, we discover that in ancient Egyptian times, cats actually ruled over mankind, that is, until dogs came into the picture. Manís best friend overthrew the evil kittie regime, and have protected us from a cat coup ever since. Now, however, it seems that the absent-minded Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum--poor guy. He does a great job but can you say TYPECAST?) may have actually found a cure for people who suffer from dog allergies. If this cure actually hits the shelf, there will be more dog people than ever before. BUT, if Mr. Tinkles can get inside Brodyís lab and REVERSE the formula, then EVERYONE would be allergic to dogs, and cats could re-position themselves for world domination! (Insert evil laugh here) Lou is planted into the Brody home by Canine Headquarters when Mrs. Brody goes on a search for a new family dog, both for the professor to experiment his cure on, and for a companion for their lonely son. (Their previous dog was cat-napped by feline agents, unbeknownst to the Brodys) Louís mission is to protect the lab at ALL costs, and above all, DONíT get personally involved with the Brody family.

The movieís plot flows smoothly, and the casting is topnotch. There are some hilariously funny scenes with a Russian Blue cat that hacks up an arsenal of weapons like hair balls. And Mr. Tinkles at times is down right Hitleresque, at one point commanding a mouse army to do his evil bidding. My kids loved it, I loved it, Hey, even my husband liked it, and he doesnít like ANYTHING! (He even hated "Gladiator".)
   The Movie Maven says Youíd be meshuga not to check this one out ('course, she also says, "You donít call, you donít write, waddam I, chopped liver?")

Letters to the Editor

Matt's Rail       by Matt Drinnenberg

Hello all!
Want to begin by saying I hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July. We should remember that our forefathers fought for our right to party on the momentous annual occasion.
[My vacation in] Martha's Vineyard was quite simply "awesome". Strolling along the streets of Amity, I kept hearing this familiar tune. Something recognized by guitarists as [musical notes] "E-F-E  E-F-E  E-F  E-F  E-F E-F  E-F-E-F-E-F-E-F-E-F-E-F-E (you get the idea). South Beach was wonderful and I'm glad to report no command performances by Bruce the Shark.

Another month, another slew of incredible talent takes life's exit. Chet Atkins really hits home. If you'll remember, he led of my favorite guitarists of all time. One of my dad's personal favorites (who was an incredible musician in his 'own' right), I and countless others will consider this the loss of the world's best guitar player ever. Bar none.
   Jack Lemmon strikes me as quite odd (no pun intended). Seems Walter [Matthau] just couldn't get along without him and had The Big Guy bring him right on up. I can't think of a movie he was in where he didn't give it his all. Hilarious in "Some Like It Hot", riveting in "China Syndrome", convincing in all!

Well, as last week, I'm bombarded with work, so till next time...
Take Care and God Bless,
P.S. Yes Mike, I got you your Amity sand from South Beach ("we had a shark attack on south beach this morning, mayor" Deputy Hendricks to Mayor Vaughn, JAWS 1975)

Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Just a few notes this week. Shall we begin?

Glad Matt made it back safely from Martha's Vineyard...............even gladder (is that a word?) he got me some sand. I'll be heading to Chicago next week for an America On Line host meeting, so I'll be sure to grab you something.

Caught the first trailer for next year's "Spider-Man". All I can say is 'WOW.' I don't want to spoil it for trailer-watchers. Let's just say that it's got my attention! Currently the trailer is on the front of "Final Fantasy," but should be available for other films beginning next Wednesday with "Jurassic Park 3."

To Baltimore Oriole third baseman Cal Ripken, Jr., who this week was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 Major League Baseball All Star Game. This is Cal's last year, and I am assembling a piece on my greatest memories of this future hall of famer, which I will present at the end of September.

The German magazine 'Journal fuer die Frau' quotes Nicole Kidman in a current interview: "I haven't given up hope that somewhere out there somebody is waiting for me and I can fall in love again." FYI Nicole: my number is 913-651-2738. Call me.

In early 1979, my house burned down. Among the many items I lost was a paperback book which recounted the filming of "Jaws 2," aptly entitled "The Jaws 2 Log." I am pleased as punch that after YEARS of looking, I finally got hold of one on Ebay. Possibly the best $32.00 I've spent in some time.

In 1969, George Carlin did a bit on the "seven dirty words you couldn't say on television". It appears that the FCC is still in the '60's. This week, the FCC fined Colorado Springs, Colorado radio station KKMG for playing the approved "clean" version of Eminem's "Real Slim Shady", citing it as "indecent." Never mind that the song had been played over 125,000 times prior to this incident, or that no one complained.
    At first, I thought that maybe the first amendment doesn't apply. Then I learned that this past month they dismissed two complaints filed by parents, including one where a disc jockey took calls from people who had never masturbated before and persuaded one to do so for ten minutes on air in an attempt to win prizes. What the hell is going on here? I remember hearing the word "bullshit" when listening to "Money," by Pink Floyd. Not to mention Roger Daltrey asking 'who the fuck are you' on "Who Are You" in 1979. Didn't hear any complaints then. In 1975, Jefferson Starship released the song, "Miracles," in which Marty Balin sang that he 'found a piece of the real world...........when I went down on you girl.' Sometime in the early 80's, radio stations began playing the song with the above phrase excised. It was only within the past few years that I've heard the song played in its entirety. And I'm not just talking one station, or one town. As Brian Wilson sang, "I've been all around this great big world," and I've heard a lot of stations. What kind of message is this sending? I used to help a friend of mine do a Saturday morning a.m. show when I lived in Maryland. As such, I had to be licensed by the FCC. Was this a license to broadcast freely, within proper bounds? Or did this make me a party to their selective brand of censorship? I would really love to get some feedback on this matter, especially from fellow PCR writer Lisa.

Well, that's it for now. Have a great week.

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Deadguy's Dementia" is ©2001 by Mike Scott    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    The movie review of "Cats and Dogs" is ©2001 by Lisa Zubek    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001