September 2008 Archives
It seems like Spike Lee gets tons of recognition for his good films (Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever) and tons of flak for his mediocre ones (Crooklyn, Bamboozled). Yet for some reason, he doesn't get much of anything for this film. Maybe it's because he didn't write it (the original novel and the screenplay were both written by David Benioff), maybe it's because it didn't really engender any controversy, but whatever the reason, it's a travesty.
The movie features outstanding performances from Ed Norton, Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Norton gives a nuanced performance as a drug dealer trying to tie up his loose ends and find the guy who ratted him out before being sent upstate on a possession rap. Even Rosario Dawson, who probably couldn't act excited during the best sex of her life, gives the performance of her career. The film is shockingly raw and startlingly earnest at the same time, while never straying from its purpose. What's more, the movie is shot against the backdrop of post-9/11 New York, making the location as much of a character as the people. (UR: -22.5)
Aside from being the fictitious wife of Tommy Flanagan (the Liar's Club preside - er - founder portrayed by Jon Lovitz on 1980s SNL), for what exactly is Morgan Fairchild famous? She's never held a recurring role on any program longer than 15 episodes. She's essentially famous for being hot.
Here's why: she'll literally never say no to any role you offer her. Go ahead and turn on your TV and flip around a while. It's a virtual lock that Morgan Fairchild will pop up at some point. She's Janeane Garofalo without the psychotic streak and the chip on her shoulder. But unlike Garofalo, she's perfectly content with her role on the acting food chain. Need a hot mom? Call Morgan Fairchild. Need a weepy turned revenge-bent wife? Call Morgan Fairchild. Need someone to play Morgan Fairchild? Call Morgan Fairchild.
But despite her lack of selectiveness, she's a consistent performer. She's got no problem making fun of herself as a Lifetime movie appearing B-rate actress (as she does in almost every role she appears in as herself), but she's also got no problem actually appearing in a B-rate Lifetime movie. And Hollywood needs people to fill these roles, and fill them with gusto. There are only so many Brad Pitts and once you run out of them, where do you go? Here's where: Morgan Fairchild. (UR: 16.5)
Who are they?
Steely Dan are Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.
Why are they underrated?
When I was in high school, I was extremely fortunate to have teachers that gave a crap. My favorite of those teachers was Dr. Coleman, who was my English teacher in both the 11th and 12th grade. He paused at inappropriate times while reading poetry or Shakespeare and he was married to one of the drama teachers. He was always very candid about things that were going on in his life. He pushed us to expand the boundaries of our experience, whether it was in the writing that we did or music that we listened to, or going to check out a play or an exhibit in a museum. He never wrote off the things that we were interested in. He called himself a huge Harvey Keitel fan and didn't laugh at the idea of us playing Sonic Youth records in his class. In a not very interesting coincidence, he and I shared a birthday. In a horrible circumstance, he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 48. He helped shape the kind of person and writer that I am today.
The world that he inhabited seemed like a world that was stuck in the 1970s. He seemed bookish in a Woody Allen way and earthy in a John Denver way. And dear god, did he love Steely Dan.