Monday, July 21, 2003

Entertainment Wrap-Up

First, if you weren't there for Elvis Costello, you are so totally square. It was a great show, even if he did try to slip some new crap into the set. He didn't clutter up the show with aimless between-song banter or cheap entreaties for applause like asking "Anyone here from Berkeley?" The show reminded me of what a versitle and solid songwriter he is, and how completely lame most other music is.

Even if Elvis is the king of cool, however, none of his style or talent has rubbed off onto his fans. The audience was comprised almost entirely of yuppie hipsters, who, behind their horn-rimmed glasses and imported leather shoes, harbor a penchant for some of the worst dancing I've seen in my score of years on this planet. The most common move among men is to keep one's feet planted firmly on the ground, then bend at the waist, shaking one's hips back and forth like a jackknife; moving in alignment with the rhythm of the music is optional. For ladies, the most popular dance technique is to, again, keep one's feet stationary, then raise semi-clenched fists above the waist (shoulders for a more rockin' tune), elbows bent, and subtly gyrate one's hips; yet again, paying mind to the beat of the song is not required. For added effect, many of the dancers chose to don a facial expression of sincere enjoyment, usually expressed by biting one's lower lip and slightly squinting one's eyes. Fun was had by all, including me, who opted for a more subdued head-bob, accompanied by the occasional foot-tap.

Also on Saturday, I surprised myself by paying $7 (plus an additional $7 for my boyfriend) to see "Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl." Normally I avoid action movies like the plague, but perhaps the lure of Johnny Depp's calculating eyes and Orlando Bloom's boyish good looks were too much to resist. I was sincerely shocked at how much I enjoyed it. The formula for success was that the film didn't rely on its special effects to keep it interesting; the plot was very compelling, and the acting was both comical and believable. Anachronistic one-liners were also kept to a minimum, which is good because the main source of my reluctance to see it in the first place was the line, "You like pain? Try wearing a corset," as delivered by the leading belle and included in all the film's previews. This isn't to say, however, that the action sequences weren't exciting as all get-out. C'mon! It's skeltons! Fighting with swords! And there's a little pirate monkey that's used to maximum effect. You should go see it. I give "Pirates" an A-.

Prior to the movie, we were treated to some previews from the upcoming movie season. First was "Radio" starring Ed Harris as a high school football coach and Cuba Gooding Jr. as the mentally challenged but lovable black boy who first divides then unites a small southern community in the 1950s. A black guy portraying a retarded dude? Battling two ends of society's adversity with no weapon but his heart, and still triumphing? I smell Oscar. The Academy loves that crap. The actor's recent appearance alongside Horatio Sanz in the stereotype-driven farse "Boat Trip" may be enough to weigh him down, though. The highlight of "Radio" ought to be Cuba's fake teeth.

From the Disney cartoon factory will come "Brother Bear," a tale of a Inuit hunter being transformed into a bear and then joining the very same wildlife community as the bears he had previously killed. Along the way, he befriends an orphaned cub whos parents had been slaughtered by humans. Bonds will be made and lessons will be learned. Most importantly, five more Phil Collins tunes will be introduced into the soundtrack market. I am personally a bit confused as to why a children's movie would cast a negative shadow on hunting by the native Americans; the native people are renouned for their ability to use every last piece of the animals such that nothing is wasted. From my understanding, traditional native American hunting displayed only the highest respect for the environment and the animals on whom they depend for survival. Maybe these should be the values that Disney promotes. Maybe a better movie would feature a modern American farmer who is transformed into a female chicken, who in turn is confined to a battery cage, sits in her own waste, has her beak and claws chopped off, and whose sons are thrown into garbage bags to die because they are unfit to lay eggs. Yeah, tackle THAT one, Disney.

Finally, on the blockbuster horizon is "The Haunted Mansion" starring Eddie Murphy. (Perhaps next season will yield "Big Thunder Mountain," or some other movie derived from a Disneyland ride not yet immortalized in film.) The plot is that Eddie and his family inherit a big house, with the lone caveat being that it's inhabited by ghosts and gouls and spirits and other spookey characters from the beyond; wacky mix-ups and hilarious hijinks will ensue. I predict it will ential two hours of Eddie Murphy looking incredulous.


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