This Is NOT Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins Day is in November. Somehow, the 20th century Dogpatch invention of Al Capp’s Li’l Abner has gotten blended with a much earlier tradition. It is, however, Superman’s birthday. (Which begs the question, “What do you get for someone who can change the course of mighty rivers?”
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From Len Wein’s blog: George Lucas in Love

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My favorite Amazon pitch of late:
Dear Amazon.com Customer,
We’ve noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange (1971 Film) have also purchased Semi-Pro. For this reason, you might like to know that Semi-Pro is now available. You can order yours for just $13.99 by following the link below.
Product Description
Will Ferrell stars in this outrageous comedy, set in 1976, as Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who used the profits from his chart-topping song “Love Me Sexy” to achieve his dream of owning a basketball team, which becomes the worst in the ABA league (NBA rival) and in danger of folding. If they want to survive, they have to do the seemingly impossible – win. Co-stars Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin (Outkast), and Will Arnett. The soundtrack features classic funk hits from the 70s from Sly & The Family Stone, Ohio Players, War, Curtis Mayfield, and more, as well as Will Ferrell performing his funkadelic version of “Love Me Sexy”.
1. Love Me Sexy – Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell)
2. Get The Funk Out Ma’ Face – (Brothers Johnson)
3. Lady Marmalade – (LaBelle)
4. The World Is A Ghetto – (War)
5. Tell Me Something Good – (Ronnie Laws)
6. Mr. Big Stuff – (Jean Knight)
7. Give Me Just A Little More Time – (Chairman Of The Board)
8. Why Can’t We Be Friends – (War)
9. Walking In Rhythm – (The Blackbyrds)
10. Dance To The Music – (Sly & the Family Stone)
11. Love Rollercoaster – (Ohio Players)
12. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – (Sly & the Family Stone)
13. Move On Up – (Curtis Mayfield)
14. Shining Star – (Elijah Kelley)
So because I bought the Moog-driven soundtrack of a 1971 movie , I would also be interested in a 2008 movie set in the 1970s with a funk soundtrack?! (Truth is that would be if I didn’t already own tracks 3, 4, 6-8, 10, 11, 13 and possibly 9, plus other versions of 5, 12, and 14, I MIGHT be.)
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From Coverville: Hey Jude by the cars

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Assuming you have $125 to spend ($75 for students):

You are invited to Splat! A Graphic Novel Symposium
Saturday, March 15, 2008
We welcome new readers, writers, artists, publishers, agents, and long-standing comics fans alike to learn more about the fastest growing movement in publishing – and meet some of the best creators working in the medium today!
The SPLAT! Symposium will also supply prospective creators with a unique opportunity to learn what it takes to be a graphic novelist. There will be three different tracks of panels, seminars, and workshops, followed by the SPLAT! Reception with Scott McCloud.
The panels will be led by a number of key writers, editors and artists from the graphic novel world including: Jim Killen, buyer Barnes & Noble; David Saylor, Editor Scholastic; Raina Telgemeier, artist, The Baby-Sitters Club; Ted Rall, creator, Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists; CB Cebulski, writer/editor, Marvel Comics; Bob Mecoy, Founder, Bob Mecoy Literary Agency; R. Sikoryak, creator, The Seduction of Mike; Brian Wood, creator, Demo, DMZ and Local; Nick Bertozzi, creator, The Salon; and Charles Brownstein, executive director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Please visit www.nycip.org/graphicnovelsymposium to register for this unique event.

ROG

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The Rest of the Story

PART ONE:
Last week, I wrote a story on the Times Union blog about reconciliation. I mentioned listening to a podcast operated by a US expat living in New Zealand. But I didn’t just happen upon it. Nik from the Spatula Forum, a blog I read regularly, was being interviewed by his fellow expat, Arthur. At the end of the interview, Arthur indicated that his next podcast would be about reconciliation in Australia, so, of course, I listened. Not so incidentally, at the end of that podcast, he reads listener/reader comments, including a couple from, of all people, me.
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PART TWO:
For the Albany Public Library blog, I noted Green Eggs and Ham, admittedly my favorite Dr. Seuss book, had won some library award. So, I thought it would be fun to add some YouTube videos, and I did. One was a straight reading, one was a seven-minute cartoon, and the third was the same cartoon, altered and sped up. I was going to also use the famous Jesse Jackson reading of Green Eggs and Ham from Saturday Night Live; the picture quality is marginal, but the sound is good. What prevented me, ultimately, was a series of racist remarks in the Comments and Response section.
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PART THREE
Someone named Gail, a “dorm mom” from Texas, asked me about the group that sang the Brian Wilson song Love and Mercy at the Kennedy Center Honors back in December. The group is named Libera, and they have a new album called New Dawn coming out in March. Gail says that Love and Mercy will be on that album. Here’s the video from the TV program via YouTube:

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PART FOUR
Rose is having a thing called What the hell is blogging – Blog Contest where one has to define blogging. Off the top of my head – I was on a 15-minute computer at the library before a meeting – I came up with “Blogging is the organization of the important and the ephemeral in the life of a person or organization, ideally in an appealing manner.” If I had had more time, I’m not sure WHAT I’d have come up with.
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PART FIVE
I’ll have to write something more substantial about William F. Buckley’s passing. I was a devotee a LONG time ago.

ROG

MOVIE REVIEW: Atonement


The end of the orgy of Washington’s Birthday weekend cinema was Atonement, seen, as usual, at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany. I’ve seen the previews. YOU’VE probably seen the previews. If you did, you pretty well know how the first third of the movie turns out, with Briony Tallis, aged 13 (Oscar nominated (?!) Saoirse Ronan) does something that keeps Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) away from Briony’s sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). Robbie goes to war, Briony (now played by Romola Garai) becomes a nurse. And at the end, Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) tells the whole story, and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, sort of.

I can’t tell you why, but much of this storytelling, after the twee British opening, save for one typed word (recently in the news) that we get to see more than once, complete with dramatic music, was very much at arm’s length. There was enough storyline substance that one should really care about the losses that Cecelia and especially Robbie went through. And in spite of the horrors of war, which was sufficiently gritty and grimy – an audible audience gasp at the treatment of animals, interestingly – I was largely uninvolved.

Finally, my wife, who liked it more than I, hit on the reason: it’s stagy. She could imagine our local Equity theater company doing an abridged version of it in a couple years. Lots of the post-English manor stuff FELT as though it were on a soundstage. It lacked…warmth.

If you WERE involved in the film, you will find the ending either heartbreaking or a very big cheat, not a real atonement at all. Since I wasn’t, it didn’t matter so much. This does explain why people initially praised this film to the hilt, then upon sober reflection seemed to have decided that it’s not so hot. Also, this film featured a lot of cigarette smoking to no particular end, save to say, “it’s the 1930s and 1940s and lots of people smoked.” Tobacco may have been in the novel, but in the film, it felt like an affectation.

I did enjoy Brenda Blethyn in the small role as Robbie’s mother, Grace. On the whole, though, eh.

ROG

The Lydster, Part 47: “Hey, Guys!”


One of the things we’ve learned as parents is that there are lots of tricks of the trade, but that sometimes, they don’t work.

For instance, some kind parents suggested that, in order to save precious time in the morning, we pick out Lydia’s clothes the night before. That only works when she doesn’t change her mind in the morning. But thanks anyway.

But it’s not just the suggestions that are at issue; it’s how they are presented. For example, Lydia needed to take an oral medicine that she did not like for an infection.
Good way to give advice: Have you tried putting it in yogurt or ice cream?
Bad way to give advice: Why don’t you just put it in yogurt or ice cream?
The second way is bad because it suggests, more in the accompanying tone than in the content, that hadn’t even thought of it, and that we’re totally incompetent parental rubes. (I may be, but I certainly don’t need you to TELL me so.)

As a matter of fact, we HAVE tried to put the medicine in food. She can taste it. (As can I.) But she STILL has to take the antibiotic.

This means, unfortunately, me holding her while her mother administers the medicine. Even before a single drop touches her lips, she struggles and says, “Hey, guys! Hey, gu-u-u-ys!” This is NOT how she usually refers to us. We find it very funny phraseology and have to stifle laughing as we give her the unwanted liquid. She pouts for about two minutes, then seems to forget all about it as she seeks out hugs. Very interesting, this parental trip.

ROG

The Lydster, Part 47: "Hey, Guys!"


One of the things we’ve learned as parents is that there are lots of tricks of the trade, but that sometimes, they don’t work.

For instance, some kind parents suggested that, in order to save precious time in the morning, we pick out Lydia’s clothes the night before. That only works when she doesn’t change her mind in the morning. But thanks anyway.

But it’s not just the suggestions that are at issue; it’s how they are presented. For example, Lydia needed to take an oral medicine that she did not like for an infection.
Good way to give advice: Have you tried putting it in yogurt or ice cream?
Bad way to give advice: Why don’t you just put it in yogurt or ice cream?
The second way is bad because it suggests, more in the accompanying tone than in the content, that hadn’t even thought of it, and that we’re totally incompetent parental rubes. (I may be, but I certainly don’t need you to TELL me so.)

As a matter of fact, we HAVE tried to put the medicine in food. She can taste it. (As can I.) But she STILL has to take the antibiotic.

This means, unfortunately, me holding her while her mother administers the medicine. Even before a single drop touches her lips, she struggles and says, “Hey, guys! Hey, gu-u-u-ys!” This is NOT how she usually refers to us. We find it very funny phraseology and have to stifle laughing as we give her the unwanted liquid. She pouts for about two minutes, then seems to forget all about it as she seeks out hugs. Very interesting, this parental trip.

ROG

The Diversity of (Man In Black) Thought

I was reading this website called Racialious, “a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture” late last year when I came across this post about a black country singer, who I admit I’ve never heard of. But like the writer, I am happy that a black artist can go into whatever niche of music he or she chooses. I remember all too well what grief artists as diverse as Dionne Warwick (pop), Jimi Hendrix (rock), Charley Pride (country) and Leontyne Price (opera) got, from black people as well as white people, about not performing the “right music”.

Then one commenter wrote:
worth Netflixing when available: Johnny Cash openly championed bucking the Nashville crowd and his (thankfully) just released on-DVD 1970s tv show featured more black performers from the jazz, pop, soul/r&b arena as well as emerging rock/pop acts who were unable to get air time in the South during Nixon/Vietnam for politics/appearances/cultural “issues” (long hair, pot, etc.). He purposefully counter-programmed what “Hee Haw” had on and made a point to play with the artists, promoting them as well, driving the suits nuts, but boosting his show’s popularity. The artists were his friends and he knew talent when he saw it. Open your eyes to some sizzling performances with great audio (just forgive the fashion sense).

And I thought that was nice. Then this comment:
Just want to back up Hy on the “Johnny Cash Show” DVD. The costumes and pompadours are giggle-worthy, but the music is AWESOME. I got the DVD set as a gift for my mom (not that I don’t go over to her place and watch it, oh noooooo).

And this:
I too have enjoyed the “Johnny Cash Show” DVD but agree it needs a “wide lapel” warning. I skipped to the obvious treats right away, including an amazing early Stevie Wonder cut of “Heaven Help Us All” and Ray Charles doing “Ring Of Fire”.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the other items, and didn’t think I would like it, but the history lesson was worth it! The show only ran two years (1969-1971) and there’s no way it could ever run on the networks today.
It basically took top artists from the counter-culture folk arena, artists written off as past their prime who influenced Cash, anti-establishment country stable, and anti-corporate rock and soul wing (despite their star power) in a “down home” environment.
It’s weird to think of Dylan and Cash playing live together on TV one moment and Cash and Louis Armstrong performing “Blue Yodel #9” then just…hanging out with “traditional” country folks like the Statler Brothers(?)… then shifting to all the “long haired hippies” (Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Neil Young) that show up with the “old guard” of rock (Carl Perkins, Everly Brothers) all viewed during Vietnam and Nixon.
It may not have solved much, but it was a pretty bold statement to make on a lot of levels. I highly second it as a viewing recommendation as well.
Still humming a few of those tunes too, damn…

Three recommendations for the The Johnny Cash Show: The Best of Johnny Cash 1969-1971 from what I would have considered a most unlikely place. Not so incidentally, John R. Cash would have been 76 tomorrow.
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And George Harrison would have been 65 yesterday, though for most of his life, he thought his birthday was today, and many sources still cite February 25. I was listening yesterday to a CD a friend made for me of George’s Beatles songs, including those on the Anthologies.
I was talking to a fellow about the expected death of someone, and even though I knew knew that person was going to die, it still hit me, albeit differently than when someone you admire dies quickly via accident or violence. Sometimes that slow and inevitable death doesn’t catch you right away as you rationalize that he or she’s been sick for a long time, and somehow it’s “for the best”. And then – after the rationalizations have all worn away – then you grieve.

ROG

Oscar

We talk movies a lot in our office. One person was wondering whether a non-American was likely to win Oscars. As we pursued the question further, it became clear that “non-American” has really come to mean having English as their native language. People from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and especially Canada (unless they are French-Canadians) are considered “Americans” by the movie-going public, we suggested. This year’s nominees:

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton” – US
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” – England
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – US
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah” – US
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises” – US
The English guy will win.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” – US
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” – Spain
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War” – US
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild” – US
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton” – England
This is even more interesting; the guy who was born in the Canary Islands will win.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” – Australia
Julie Christie in “Away from Her” – England (born in India)
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” – France
Laura Linney in “The Savages” – US
Ellen Page in “Juno” – Canada
Only one American in the field, and she’s unlikely to win; the Englishwoman or the Frenchwoman.

Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” – Australia
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” – US
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement” – US
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone” – US
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” – England
Could be the only American to win an acting Oscar tonight, unless the Australian takes it and shuts out the US completely. (Entertainment Weekly suggests it’ll be the Englishwoman.)

Let’s look at the awards for the previous 7 years, just the winners:

2001 (74th)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE* Denzel Washington — Training Day – US
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Jim Broadbent — Iris – England
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE* Halle Berry — Monster’s Ball – US
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Jennifer Connelly — A Beautiful Mind – US

2002 (75th)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE* Adrien Brody — The Pianist – US
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Chris Cooper — Adaptation – US
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE* Nicole Kidman — The Hours – Australia (born in Hawaii)
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Catherine Zeta-Jones — Chicago – Wales

2003 (76th)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE* Sean Penn — Mystic River – US
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Tim Robbins — Mystic River – US
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE* Charlize Theron — Monster – South Africa
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Renée Zellweger — Cold Mountain – US

2004 (77th)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE* Jamie Foxx — Ray – US
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Morgan Freeman — Million Dollar Baby – US
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE* Hilary Swank — Million Dollar Baby – US
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Cate Blanchett — The Aviator – Australia

2005 (78th)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE* Philip Seymour Hoffman — Capote – US
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* George Clooney — Syriana – US
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE* Reese Witherspoon — Walk the Line – US
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Rachel Weisz — The Constant Gardener – England

2006 (79th)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE* Forest Whitaker — The Last King of Scotland – US
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Alan Arkin — Little Miss Sunshine – US
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE* Helen Mirren — The Queen – England
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE* Jennifer Hudson — Dreamgirls – US

Every year, a non-American has won, albeit one whose native language was likely English.
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I’m not going to change my picks from three weeks ago, though, in fact, I picked Julie Christie rather than Marion Cotillard in a contest. I would not be shocked, though, if the heavyweight vote splits between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, movies filmed so close to each other that I read in Entertainment Weekly that an oil rig fire filmed for Blood interfered with a shot for No Country. This would allow Juno, the movie that, at midweek, had twice the box office of No Country, its nearest Oscar competitor, to win. Not saying it’ll happen; I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be the upset that Atonement or Michael Clayton winning would be.

And since the Academy will have all the glitz, in honor of my friend Uthaclena’s 55th birthday, I’ll be watching. Probably not tonight, though; that’s what timeshifting’s all about. I don’t watch the Oscars to see who wins; I watch them to see HOW they win.

ROG

Movie Quote Meme

In as much as it’s Oscar weekend, I thought I’d cop this from Gordon. However, I didn’t looked at his responses before writing this because I didn’t want to be influenced by my near-twin’s choices:

1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Fill in the film title once it’s guessed.
5. NO Googling/using IMDb search functions.
(Feel free to stick your guesses in the comments section)
I THINK half of them may be easy, the other half not so much, but none of these films are obscure.

1. There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”
“Annie Hall” = Tom the Dog

2. It’s got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It’s like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It’s where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic and made love under that oak and I asked and she said yes.
“Shawshank Redemption” – Scott

3. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.
“Groundhog Day” – Tom the Dog

4. If I don’t get a little law and order around here, I get busted down to a traffic corner. And your friend don’t like traffic corners.
“West Side Story” – Gordon

5. We’ve become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects.
The Truman Show

6. They have to paint me red before they chop me. It’s a different religion from ours. I think.
“Help!” – Gordon!

7. Uh, well, if anyone from the, uh, from the IRS is watching, I… forgot to file my, my, my 1040 return. Um, I meant to do it today, but, uh…
“Apollo 13” –Jaquandor

8. My story begins in London, not so very long ago. And yet so much has happened since then, that it seems more like an eternity.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians

9. I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. I want my privacy.
“Field of Dreams” – Scott

10. Do you have a special grudge against me? Do you feel a particularly strong resentment? Is there something I’ve said that’s caused this contempt, or is it just things I stand for that you despise?
The Graduate
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For Gordon and Lefty, other Doctor Who fans, and linguists: Darleks vs Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

ROG

MOVIE REVIEW: La Vie En Rose


Sunday evening, after I had finished watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I started watching this film. On the surface, they have some comparables. Both in French with subtitles, both with Oscar nominations, this one, deservedly, for actress Marion Cotillard, who I last saw in the previews for – but the actual film – A Good Year with Russell Crowe. Both also touch on going to a physical location of great spiritual significance, though while Diving Bell’s Bauby tends to dismiss it, it’s a more recurring theme here.

This is a more conventional biopic about chaunteuse Edith Piaf, starting off with her terrible childhood of illness and abandonment until she is literally pushed by her father to perform. Then we see the grown-up Edith move from street corner busker to the highest levels of stardom, only to be brought down by her addictions to alcohol and drugs, so that when (hardly a SPOILER ALERT) she dies at age 47, she looks about 20 years older.

The film is good, but it’s long. I started it Sunday night (saw 90 minutes) and finished it Monday morning (another 45 minutes), which is not a fair way to see it. The other problem I had is that Piaf, at times, reminded me of Judy Garland in the early 1960s, another child singer who had reached great fame but also great tragedy because of her addictions. In fact, Cotillard looks and acts at times remarkably like Judy Davis in the 2001 TV movie Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows. I know this is MY hangup, but there it is.

See it for yourself and let me know what you think.

One last thing. The DVD EXTRAS involved all of less than eight minutes of Cotillard and writer/director Olivier Dahan talking about the process of getting the Piaf character; trés disappointing.

ROG

MOVIE REVIEW: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.


Dizzyingly claustrophobic. We’ll get back to that in a bit.

Every year for the past several, our real estate agent has sent out a card to allow his patrons to watch a free movie at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany on a weekend near Valentine’s Day. That opportunity came up this past Sunday, and we took advantage, inviting a couple from church to the movies; he allows for up to six free passes to be used, plus $3 off per person at the concession stand on a $5 purchase. Unfortunately, one of our church friends, who we’d seen only an hour earlier, fell ill, so I called one of my work friends, and she called one of our former workmates, Maureen, and we all rendezvoused at the cinema. We had a babysitter for Lydia.

I was looking forward to seeing director Julian Schnabel’s Le scaphandre et le papillon, a French film with English subtitles, for a couple reasons. One was that many said that Jean-Dominique Bauby’s novel based on his real-life experience of living in an almost totally paralyzed body, save for his left eye, was unfilmable, so I was curious what kind of screenplay Ronald Harwood could come up with. Mostly I was wondering how Schnabel, whose previous films Before Night Falls (2000) and Basquiat (1996) I had enjoyed, would tackle the story.

The first 10 minutes (15? 20? I wasn’t looking at a watch) was from inside Bauby’s left eye. It was blurry and narrow in scope, dizzyingly claustrophobic, as I said. If people got vertigo from seeing Cloverfield (which I have not seen), I can imagine they might also get the feeling here. Yet, as the perspective changes, as Bauby’s sense about his captivity changes, one starts feeling for the people around him, including his family, and even for Bauby himself, the Elle magazine editor who was a bit of of a lothario. I laughed out loud when he realized how beautiful his therapists were and how he was totally incapable of hitting on them, for instance.

As Bauby decides to write his book, using only that left eye, I was reminded of a comment in Salon magazine that said, in essence, that the movie has turned writer’s block into a very lousy excuse. One suggestion, however; don’t use your rudimentary high school French to try to figure out the words Bauby is trying to say, since the performers are spelling out the words in French, while the screen is spelling them out in English. Just go with the flow of the film.

Schnabel’s directing Oscar nomination is well deserved. Recommended.
ROG