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PCR #311. (Vol. 7, No. 10) This edition is for the week of March 6--12, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! A short but sad one this week. Oscar thoughts, Travolta in a dress and another film fan shares his thoughts. Shall we begin?

The Tampa Bay Watershed and It's Importance To You -- Part Two....In Other News... by Will Moriaty
"Failure To Launch" by Mike Smith
Gasparilla Art Fest/Booty Art Expo....The Heaven and Hell Car by Vinnie Blesi
Lot Going On....Oscars....24....Live Evil Is In Full Production by Mark Terry
The Inspirational Couple....The Last Stand....And the Oscar goes to the IRS?...The Bottom 100 by Brandon Jones
Another Sad Week....Those Whacky Oscars....Hope He Looks Good In A House Coat....My Favorite Films -- Chapter 10: "Boogie Nights" by Mike Smith
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When we're young we have a tendency to find our heroes and then always remember them at the top of their game, an indelible image in our minds. As we get older we often forget that they, too, get older. The loss last week of four people that made impacts on so many of our lives made me realize that eventually we all do get old. This past week the passings of Kirby Puckett and Dana Reeve, who were both my age or younger, as well as the great Gordon Parks, really drove home the thought that sometimes we ARE only here for a short while.

Kirby Puckett, one of my favorite baseball players in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died this week a day after suffering a massive stroke. He was 45. One of the best players of his time, Puckett is probably best remembered for his heroics in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, when he led the Minnesota Twins to the seventh and final game with his glove and his bat. The Twins won Game 7, giving them their second World Series title in 5 years. Kirby was a good friend of Baltimore star Cal Ripken, Jr and would often show up when Cal would host a charity event. One of my favorite baseball memories was attending the 1993 All Star Game, where Puckett was voted MVP.
Less then 18 months after her husband passed away, and 7 months after announcing that she had lung cancer, Dana Reeve died this week from the disease at the age of 44. A talented performer in her own right, she put her own career on hold to be at Christopher Reeve's side ever since he was paralyzed in a horse riding accident in May 1995. After his death, Dana Reeve became chair of the Reeve Foundation, an organization working to find a cure for paralysis.
Gordon Parks, a renowned author, photographer, composer and filmmaker, also died this week. He was 93. Born in Fort Scott, Kansas, Parks gained fame in the late 1940s as a photographer for Life magazine. His biographical novel, "The Learning Tree," was praised when it was printed in 1963. In 1969, he was chosen to direct the film version of the novel, based on his script. He also composed the music for the film. In 1971, he directed "Shaft," one of the most popular films of the "blaxploitation" era. He also directed the sequel, "Shaft's Big Score," as well as "The Super Cops" and "Leadbelly." Along with Melvin Van Peebles, Parks is recognized as one of the most influential black filmmakers from that era In 1989, The Library of Congress chose "The Learning Tree" as one of the initial 25 films named to the National Film Registry.

What good are the Academy Awards if they can't surprise people? As Jack Nicholson announced "Crash" as the winner of the Best Picture trophy, the shock and surprise was evident on the faces of the producers of both "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash." A very good ending to a mostly memorable evening. A few gripes:

Where the hell was Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and James Doohan during the "In Memorium" segment? All three of them appeared in some great and popular films and to slight them was a disgrace.

Though I'll always thank producer Gil Cates for giving us his daughter Phoebe, shame on him for having the orchestra start playing the moment the winner began their acceptance speech. It was very distracting and, in my opinion, took away from the joy the winner was feeling by immediately putting pressure on them to get on and get off.

All right already. I know that the Song Branch of the Academy is hip. Of course they're about 40 years too late. You can give all of the Oscars you want to 3-6 Mafia but it won't erase the fact that you completely ignored the talents of the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond and others.

What in the HELL was that M. Night Shamalyan commercial about?

Congratulations to the all of the winners (even 3-6 Mafia) and to John Stewart, who did a very good job and kept the show flowing.

 Nolan Radio MP3 of Mike Smith commenting on The Oscars
     Post your thoughts on the Academy Awards

What does John Travolta have in common with Divine, Harvey Fierstein and Michael McKean? He will don the clothes of Edna Turnblad in the film version of the Broadway musical, "Hairspray." Like "The Producers," "Hairspray" was a film turned into a Tony award winning musical. Now it's going to be a film again. Hard to follow, isn't it.

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly and Burt Reynolds.
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

FIRST SEEN: Cineplex Odeon/Wisconsin Avenue Theatre, Washington D.C.
FAVORITE LINE: "I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth. That's just me. That's just something that I enjoy."
FAVORITE SCENE: Dirk Diggler and pals try to sell some bogus drugs.

  • Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Moore), Best Supporting Actor (Reynolds) and Best Original Screenplay (Anderson)
  • Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor (Reynolds). Reynolds also picked up several critic awards.

    The story of the rise, fall and rise again of an adult film star, "Boogie Nights" was based, in part, on some of the events in the life of legendary porn star John Holmes. With a brilliant script and outstanding supporting work from the cast above, as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heather Graham, William H. Macy and magician Ricky Jay, the film covers several years in, what I consider, a family that happens to make adult films. Stand out performances include Hoffman as Scotty J, Cheadle as Buck and, of course, Reynolds as filmmaker Jack Horner. The scene where Buck goes into a donut shop and orders a dozen made me a Don Cheadle fan for life. My favorite scene is based on John Homes supposed involvement in a brutal murder case, which was later featured in the film, "Wonderland." Wahlberg, in his star making role, begins with an innocence of the business that is almost childlike. Sure, he's got a 13 inch penis. Doesn't everyone? Of course, he eventually begins to understand the power he can command and soon the excitement and awe of each new project turns into a life filled with drugs and disappointment. When he finally swallows his pride and comes "home" to Jack, we feel the emotional pull that brought him there. Instead of rambling on here, let me turn it over to my friend, Chuck, as he shares his thoughts on one of his favorite films:


    When friends prodded me to see "Boogie Nights", my thoughts were "What could be so good about a movie about porno filmmaking?". However, with the opening Orson Welles type shot my filmmakers proverbial mouth dropped open. As both "Citizen Kane" and "Touch of Evil" are also in my top 5, this uncut craning/dolly/steadicam shot that introduces EVERY main character in the film without cutting once COMPLETELY captivated me. If a director that has some form of visual style in his/her filmmaking, then I'm a fan. The way "Boogie Nights" was shot and edited was, simply put, a masterpiece. The script was a tightly woven piece of work, with each character connected to another in the strangest of forms, some by admiration, coincidence and some by hate (This echoed the character driven masterpiece of Robert Altman's "Nashville"). Julianne Moore, whom I respect as an actress, connects with Mark Wahlberg, both on the "porno screen" and the film screen. Her continued nourishment of him as a substitution for her not being able to see or have custody of her own son was so heartfelt. William H. Macy, another great character actor, really comes through as a Production Manager, whose porno actress wife is screwing around with many men, even right in front of him to the point that, at the films center point and the start of the fall from grace of "Dirk Diggler", Macy calmly walks to his car, gets a gun, goes back into the house as the New Years countdown is happening and shoots his wife, her lover, then himself (Another well crafted uncut shot). Heather Graham as "Roller Girl" was a surprise because it was the first movie I recall seeing her in and the fact that she NEVER takes off her skates and is a high school drop out struggling to find her place in the strange world of porno filmmaking makes her a character facing her own internal struggles is interesting. And, how can we forget Burt Rynolds in what I consider the best acting of his entire career? He plays a successful film producer with a string of hits who suddenly, with the early 80's onslaught of VHS camcorders, has to resort to shooting on videotape and has to sacrifice the "art" of making a truly unique porno film, to just slinging it out on the market (This really did happen in the real world of porno films as videotape brought production costs WAY down). Another great performance came from Don Cheadle, the black actor whose wardrobe changed with the fads of the times as he tried to find his place in the world until he opens the stereo store to support the family of his now pregnant former porno actress wife (& isn't the coffee shop robbery scene simply gut wrenching?). Another fine performance by Alfred Molina (He began his film career as "Sapito" in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"), who was the drug dealer that Walhberg and his cocaine addicted friends try to rob in a coke deal gone bad, being chased from the home with Molina firing at them with a shotgun. Overall, I give this film 4 STARS out of 4 STARS. A really great piece of filmmaking with characters that you can care about.

    Next week I'm heading back to high school when I look at "Fast Times at Ridgemont High".

    Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.