Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick clips for Monday September 29

Yeah, yeah, I'm going to do it as well

'Round about the time that Ann Curry, the she-beast of morning news journalism, set her twitchy, spastic tone to overdramatically somber while recounting the death of Paul Newman this morning, I realized that my memorializing of someone I believe to be the greatest actor of all time isn't exactly something the world is waiting for. That doesn't matter.

Part of what I love about this blog is the ability to share personal stories that really don't have a place on the smudgy printed page. So, while we'll get to the box office recap in a minute, I want to pause from the inane news rumors of the day to provide my memories of a man I never met but celebrated nonetheless.

I know that Newman will be remembered, in part, for his kick-ass salad dressings and (more importantly) the boatloads of money he generated for charity. This is a guy who was famous in an era where actors didn't get "back-end points" that resulted in windfalls large enough to buy islands. I couldn't admire more the little I know about his generous heart, his deep and devoted marriage that spanned decades in Hollywood, and his reputation as a fine example for young actors. But what I know about Paul Newman is his acting, and most of that information came during one stretch when I was 18 years old.

The summer before you go to college is often rife with debauchery or a nervous anticipation of the adulthood into which you are guided by an unseen and forceful hand. Sadly, mine was neither a depraved orgy of sin nor a hand-wringing exercise in self-reflection. Nope, it was tame until I got a bad flu. No, this isn't a story about how Newman's acting helped save me from some crazy medical hell, this is about how, one night that summer, I was horking my guts out and couldn't sleep, so I watched The Hustler. From about 3 in the morning until after 5, I was riveted. I was no longer contemplating the inequity of a world where vomit was possible, I was captivated by what could only be described as a legendary performance. Right when he said, "Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool," that's when I was hooked.

Like an addict, I proceeded to gobble up every Newman film available in the days before you had access to Vh1 sex-fest TV shows on DVD at all hours. I breezed through Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, and The Verdict in one sitting before moving on, with my dad, to his two favorite films ever made: The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, two movies that, to this day, will fist-fight your face into submitting a smile. For me, the best were his "H" movies, Harper, Hud, and The Hustler. I couldn't believe that it was possible that the man didn't have a warehouse full of shiny golden Oscars. Imagine my elation when I found out, finally, that The Color of Money existed, an impossibly perfect sequel for which he finally, finally, finally won that prize.

Over the years my devotion didn't waver, though his production did. I remember actually going to see Message in a Bottle in the stinkin' theater just because he was in it. Consider that for a second, we're talking about a Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation FEATURING KEVIN COSTNER! Were I forced to watch it on a sofa made of razorblades while drinking curdled milk it couldn't have sounded less appealing. But I went, because he was in it. I went and I was amazed at how easily he could still turn it on.

Newman is the only actor I don't want to critique, and I never did and never will. I just want to enjoy how watching him made me love movies, made me believe that they were potent and powerful, made me feel as much as any great work of literature.

Add this to the growing list of memorials that are too frequent to consume in their entirety and that need not have been written to celebrate the man. He didn't need me to say it, but I will anyway, rest in peace, Paul Newman, you'll forever be my favorite actor of all time.

Weekend Box Office Results: I forgot about the Jesus factor

I'm not making excuses for anything here, but if you had even heard of Fireproof, a movie made for less than a million about a firefighter who works on his marriage through God's love, you could have let me know that Christian churches across the nation were planning to attend en masse. Seriously, NOBODY had the movie cracking the top 5, let alone making a 6-billion percent profit opening weekend (I do math gooood). Seriously, I'm not sure if this is a real trend or just the right movie to support at the right time. I'm curious to see the fallout from this in a copycat Hollywood, so look for an even stronger courting of the church vote by tinseltown in the next few years.

Here are the results:

1.) Eagle Eye - $29 million (Accuracy of prediction - 91.5%)

Okay, okay, I knew I was a bit, shall we say overeager about the possible box office domination of The Boof, but this was still a nice little cash cow and an entertaining flick. I'm just saying that the comparisons that are being drawn between The Boof and Harrison Ford appear spot-on so, thirty years from now, The Boof will get his own Callista Flockheart.

2.) Nights in Rodanthe - $13.5 million (Accuracy of prediction - 98.1%)

I refuse to speak of this, in the hopes that it goes away faster.

3.) Lakeview Terrace - $7 million (Accuracy of prediction - 100%)

In the end, this movie will be a forgettable exercise in stereotypes and violence, which sounds like the name of a college band. Again, Sammy Jackson, my offer still stands to help find you or write you a part in which you display a second or possibly third emotion.

4.) Fireproof - $6.5 million (Accuracy of prediction - 0%)

Really didn't see this coming. Whoever organized the campaign and got the churches and people out to this theater should be applauded. This was a crazy stealth attack that nobody saw coming, which is a fancy way of me saying "don't blame me for looking like an idiot."

5.) Burn After Reading - $6 million (Accuracy of prediction - 90%)

Another solid showing for the little comedy that could. I don't know what the Coens are up to next, but I hope that the suits have seen their box office potential.

Overall accuracy - 76%

One of these days I'll inch past the C margin, besides if it weren't for the Lord himself putting Fireproof in there, I'd have been pretty much dead on. Oh, the other news of note, apparently Miracle at St Anna just died a painful death. Hey Spike, next time don't make a 3 hour movie with nobody we've ever seen before in it, just sayin'.
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