Politicians, profanity, and the prickly pundits.

I tend not to get into politics all that much at this blog. But I couldn’t resist noting a certain recent item.

Apparently Focus on the Family chairman James Dobson said today that he would not vote for John McCain if McCain were the Republican party’s candidate for the presidency. Among Dobson’s reasons? McCain “has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language.”

In response, Ross Douthat at TheAtlantic.com remarks:

Finally, attacking McCain for his tendency to use “foul and obscene language” seems like the purest form of social conservative self-parody. Particularly given the Bush Administration’s record on that front.

No kidding. In addition to the episodes mentioned in those two articles that Douthat links to, there was also that famous moment, pictured above, when Bush flipped a camera his “one-fingered victory salute“.

The reason I bother bringing this up in a film blog at all is because I saw a pro-Bush propaganda film called George W. Bush: Faith in the White House (2004) at the local film festival four years ago, and I can remember the audience whooping with glee at many points during that film — not the least of which was the scene in which the narrator says that Bush spent his wayward youth “smoking, drinking, cursing,” followed by the scene in which Bush’s Uncle Bucky says that Bush, following his conversion, “stopped chewing and cussing and became a totally disciplined guy.”

I frankly don’t care if Bush or McCain or anyone else uses colourful language; I’ve been known to use it once in a while myself, and I think I’m in pretty good company on that score. But it is striking to see how a certain segment of the American Christian population needs to persuade itself that “cussing” is only what “bad people” do, and how that same segment of the population not only turns a blind eye to the “cussing” that “good people” do but actively promotes the falsehood that they don’t actually do it!

CT Movies picks 2007’s “critics’ choice awards”

Last week, CT Movies posted its list of the ten “most redeeming” films of the past year. Today, we posted “The 2007 Critics’ Choice Awards” — and, as one of the participating critics, I am happy to say that I not only love some of the finalists myself, but I at least like all of them, to one degree or another. That isn’t always the case!

(Though I would disagree with the claim that the musical remake of Hairspray “never takes itself too seriously” — if only because the pious, stuffy civil-rights song is oddly out of sync with the rest of the movie’s fizzy anarchic spirit. If it weren’t for that, or the miscasting of John Travolta in the role created by Divine and Harvey Fierstein, this film would be higher on my own list of faves. And I say all that here and now because I never got around to blogging or reviewing the film when it first came out.)

Each of us CT Movies critics also got to write a blurb on one film that we wish had made the list, so I picked Seth Gordon’s The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary that I have not otherwise reviewed. (It didn’t come to Vancouver until just before Christmas, and it played here for only one week, and I’m probably lucky that I found time to see it at all!)

Crystal skull sightings! We have two pictures!

Warning: There be spoilers here — visual spoilers, even.

In real life, crystal skulls are shaped like human skulls, and some people like to speculate that these skulls might be the product of alien civilizations. But that’s too indirect for George Lucas — who has already said that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be more like a “science-fiction movie” than any previous film in this series — so, to judge from a few photos that came out over the last few days, it looks like Lucas has gone ahead and based his newest movie’s supernatural artifact on an extra-terrestrial skull. Apparently, in Lucas’s world, aliens didn’t just make the crystal skulls, they are the crystal skulls.

First, Action Figure Insider posted this image on Friday, taken from a brochure put out by toymaker Takara Neduke:

And then, today, MovieWeb.com posted this:

Now, it has been a long, long time since I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), but I am wondering if what we see in these images squares with that rumour we heard a few months ago.

FEB 9 UPDATE: Hollywood North Report has the complete toy brochure; click on the photo below for a larger version:

FEB 12 UPDATE: ComingSoon.net posted this “alternative cover for the comic” tonight — and it, too, features the skull:

FEB 17 UPDATE: MTV Movies Blog has a photo of the Lego version of the crystal skull that appeared at this week’s Toy Fair:

MAR 10 UPDATE: The newest poster gives us our best “officially sanctioned” look at the crystal skull to date:

MAY 1 UPDATE: Official Pix has a few new photos for sale:

MAY 3 UPDATE: The new trailer also gives us a quick glimpse of the skull, but part of it is always just out of frame:

Canadian box-office stats — February 3

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Rambo — CDN $3,210,000 — N.AM $29,798,000 — 10.8%
27 Dresses — CDN $5,610,000 — N.AM $57,115,000 — 9.8%
Juno — CDN $9,780,000 — N.AM $110,263,000 — 8.9%
Untraceable — CDN $1,700,000 — N.AM $19,451,000 — 8.7%

The Bucket List — CDN $5,640,000 — N.AM $67,671,000 — 8.3%
Cloverfield — CDN $5,840,000 — N.AM $71,974,000 — 8.1%
Meet the Spartans — CDN $2,190,000 — N.AM $28,332,000 — 7.7%
There Will Be Blood — CDN $1,420,000 — N.AM $21,146,000 — 6.6%
The Eye — CDN $648,926 — N.AM $13,000,000 — 5.0%
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour — CDN $411,519 — N.AM $29,000,000 — 1.4%

I think I might still have one of these.

I can remember going to McDonald’s with my dad after seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) in the theatre and getting a movie-themed Happy Meal — the one with the transporters on the front, I think. (It’s the one on the top left in the video below.) I believe I might still have the Happy Meal box somewhere among my still-packed items here, and if I’m lucky, I might still have the plastic communicator with comic-strip roll that came with it.

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One thing I did not know, until I read this item at TrekMovie.com tonight, is that ST:TMP was the first movie to get a McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in. Learn something new every day.

Ten thousand here, one million there, and pretty soon you’re talking real history.

I have to review 10,000 B.C. next month, so I figured I might as well see the similarly-titled One Million Years B.C. (1966) last night — and I have to say, I kept staring at Raquel Welch’s eyebrows. Yes, her eyebrows. I know she has other assets, too, but they didn’t seem remotely as anachronistic or implausible to me as those perfectly manicured lines above her eyes.

Of course, the two films presumably don’t have all that much in common, beyond the similarities between their titles.

One film takes place in truly prehistoric times, with cavemen and dinosaurs somehow occupying the same timeframe, whereas the other film — based on what we see in the trailers — seems to take place in the earliest days of civilization, with cities and temples and the elaborate social and physical structures that go with that. (I don’t know where the new film takes place, but cities like Jericho and Damascus are believed to have been inhabited as early as 9,000 B.C. and 10,000 B.C., respectively.)

What’s more, One Million Years B.C. has no intelligible dialogue — everyone speaks in a “prehistoric” language — whereas the most recent trailer for 10,000 B.C. indicates that the actors in that movie will probably speak English. And in a weird sort of way, that difference alone almost makes me want to take the Raquel Welch movie more seriously than the other movie.

As cheesy and stupid as One Million Years B.C. may be, the lack of modern dialogue gives it a sense of “otherness” that helps to transport the viewer back in time, whereas I suspect the dialogue in 10,000 B.C. will sound hopelessly modern, no better than the lines that were spoken by The Rock and friends in The Scorpion King (2002). And let us not forget that 10,000 B.C. is directed by Roland Emmerich, whose Revolutionary War film The Patriot (2000) featured such absurdly anachronistic exchanges as: “May I sit here?” “It’s a free country — or at least, it will be.”

And speaking of Mel Gibson movies, the trailer for 10,000 B.C. makes the new film look like Apocalypto (2006) with CGI mammoths — and Apocalypto, of course, also benefitted from foreign, ancient-sounding dialogue, even if the dialogue was undercut at times by modern colloquial subtitles. So that’s one more comparison that doesn’t work in 10,000 B.C.‘s favour.

Incidentally, the night before I watched One Million Years B.C., I happened to see Jason and the Argonauts (1963) on the big screen — and both films feature visual effects by Ray Harryhausen. That was purely coincidental, and in fact I had forgotten that the Raquel Welch movie featured his work, but it was a nice surprise to see his name in the credits again, twice in two nights.

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