In addition to the things I've been watching regularly, I checked out Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg. Don't know who Steinberg is? Check here. He's been interviewing comedians for his show on TV Land. Another TV Land foray into original programming. The first guest was Mike Myers. That was the only hour-long show, and it dragged in places. There was an awkward bit when Steinberg said something nice about Myers' wife. Recently, I've read that Myers and his wife have split up. Larry David was Larry David. Is he just paranoid, or are they really out to get him? Funny, especially if you like his schtick. Steinberg directed Bob Newhart on his second sitcom. Sometimes, the fact that Steinberg knows the guests so well there is a bit of disconnect to the audience. But Newhart did a stand-up bit that KILLED. The show with Martin Short was the best I've seen. If you didn't know that Steinberg and Short(and Myers) were Canadian, you'd certainly be aware of it quickly. Tonight's show is with Jon Lovitz (10 p.m., EST), and next week's guest is George Lopez. May be worth watching.
inJustice (yeah, that's the spelling) is a new show on ABC. I saw only the first episode. (The show started on a Sunday then moved to its regular Friday time slot.) Basically, the premise is that sometimes, in this Law & Order/CSI world, the system gets it wrong, the lawyer (Kyle MacLaughlin of Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) and his merry band of do-gooders try to make it right. Marin Hinkle from Once and Again was convicted of murdering her father. The flashback shows how the cops believed it went down, and at the end you get the real story. I enjoyed it well enough to try it again.
I’ve seen two movies this calendar year thus far. The Squid and the Whale on January 2 and Brokeback Mountain on January 7. At this rate I’ll be seeing over 50 films a year! (Not bloody likely.) The films are both about interpersonal relations in the United States in the recent past.
The Squid is about a couple (Jeff Daniels, the pictured Laura Linney) who get divorced – no spoiler there, it’s in the previews – and how they and their two sons deal with it in mid 1980s New York City. While I enjoyed it– the title DOES eventually get explained, and Jeff Daniels’ performance is quite good - I was looking for an ending of sorts; instead it just…stopped.
Brokeback is a more sprawling tale than I realized, starting in 1963 Wyoming but moving on from there. One could tell that this movie was ending, if only from the music swell. (There was audible crying in the audience.) The real surprise in this film for me was Anne Hathaway, who played princesses in three movies and who MAY be the villain in the film.
I think Heath Ledger is getting so much acclaim, not just because he’s good, and he is, but because people are genuinely amazed that he has more range than being in A Knight’s Tale. It’s like Charlize Theron doing The Italian Job then acting in Monster and (We won’t mention Aeon Flux.) Or, a few years back, this nighttime soap actress, Hilary Swank surprising in Boys Don’t Cry.
Having seen Brokeback, I’ve now seen three of the five "best actors" nominated by Screen Actors Guild : Russell Crowe in CINDERELLA MAN, Ledger, and David Strathairn in GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. The other two are Philip Seymour Hoffman in CAPOTE and Joaquin Phoenix in WALK THE LINE. Unfortunately, neither film is playing anywhere with in a five-county range. I’m hoping that they’ll be brought back before the Oscars.
I've seen four of the five SAG "best supporting actors": Don Cheadle in CRASH, Matt Dillon in CRASH, Paul Giamatti in CINDERELLA MAN, and Jake Gyllenhaal in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Just need to see George Clooney in SYRIANA, but I'm mixed about it. I hear the screenplay is unduly convoluted.
I’ve seen very few of the actress performances:
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Judi Dench / MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS Felicity Huffman / TRANSAMERICA Charlize Theron / NORTH COUNTRY Reese Witherspoon / WALK THE LINE Ziyi Zhang / MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Amy Adams / JUNEBUG Catherine Keener/ CAPOTE Frances McDormand / NORTH COUNTRY Rachel Weisz / THE CONSTANT GARDENER Michelle Williams / BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN Of the above, I saw only Williams. Particularly want to see Theron, and of course, Witherspoon and Keener.
SAG also does Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (Focus Features) SAW CAPOTE (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) WANT TO SEE CRASH (Lionsgate) SAW GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (Warner Independent Pictures) SAW HUSTLE & FLOW (Paramount Classics) MAYBE I'LL RENT
Incidentally, Roger Ebert defends his "Best Picture of the Year" pick against suggestions that it’s the WORST picture of the year. I agree with Ebert about Crash.
I got music for Christmas:
James Taylor: A Christmas Album. Last year’s Hallmark album is surprisingly enjoyable.
Michael McDonald: Through the Many Winters-A Christmas Album. This year’s Hallmark album is surprisingly boring, sounding in the same groove, except for the ninth song (out of 10), Christmas on the Bayou.
Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. I like this album far more than Paul’s previous effort, but not yet quite as much as 1997’s Flaming Pie. It’s become a cliché that Macca works better when he doesn’t work alone, but it appears to be true here, partnering with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Look for the definitive review from famed Maccologist Fred Hembeck.
Stevie Wonder: A Time for Love. I have every Stevie album since 1970’s Where I’m Coming From, and I own compilation discs that cover his earlier period. If I were new to the artist, I might have enjoyed the disc more. There are songs I like "So What the Fuss", which still sounds like a curse since I first heard in May, and the first cut, "If Your Love Cannot Be Moved", but too much of it sounds like mid-80’s Stevie, pleasant and inoffensive, but not really inventive. Maybe it’ll grow on me.
Our New Orleans 2005. A Katrina benefit album, so I should say nice things about it. Actually, I like much of this album, particularly the great Allen Toussaint (pictured) on two cuts. Eddie Bo’s "Saints" has a bit of Tipitina groove to it. I’ve loved the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for decades. Randy Newman’s closer, Louisiana 1927, is, as someone once said, a suitable ending.
The Clash: Super Black Market Clash. I described this as an old Clash album, because the music from 1977-1982. But the disc didn’t come out until 2000. It contains B-sides, EP cuts, and 12” single tracks. The later tracks tend to be "dub" versions of songs. I own, somewhere, Mustapha Dance, the dub version Rock the Casbah on vinyl. In fact, much of this sounds familiar, even the songs I never owned. They were probably played on the late, great Q104 radio station of Albany, gone 'bout 20 years. I was a huge fan of the Clash during the London Calling/Sandinista period, and this is probably my favorite disc of the season. Slightly embarrassing, because I actually used a gift certificate and picked it out myself.