They're Gonna Put Me in the Movies

I haven't seen the film Paranormal Activity, but I did fill out a web form requesting that it be shown in my town. That's apparently enough for me to earn a spot in the credits of the film when it comes out on DVD. I got an email inviting me to add my name to the credits, and if you click the link the invitation will be extended to you as well. After I filled out the form, I was shown a list of other people who are going to be credited. The list was 3,346 people long when I saw it, and ... (read more)

Rewatching 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

"I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind." -- Dean of Students Ed Rooney ... (read more)

Transformers: Less Than Meets the Eye

Roger Ebert's review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen appears to be considerably more entertaining than the film itself: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start ... (read more)

IMDB Strikes Crude with 'Year One' Content Advisory

The movie reference site IMDb has a parents guide feature that's useful when determining whether a movie contains sexual content that would be inappropriate for your children. (Like most Americans I'm much more comfortable exposing the younguns to movies that contain bloodshed than any film that makes even the slightest reference to sex. I blame my Catholic upbringing and spaghetti Westerns.) The feature is edited by users in the manner of Wikipedia and does not get editorial oversight from ... (read more)

Screenwriter: Watch the Watchmen Twice

As a fan of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel, I thought Watchmen was a terrific movie in spite of the excessive gore and the 17-hour run time. The comic's amusingly dystopian 1985 was captured perfectly -- President Nixon did not age well over the four terms he held office -- and I'm planning to see the movie again in IMAX, primarily for Jackie Earle Haley's Rorschach and the incredible opening credit sequence. See if you can spot the tasteless metaphor in Watchmen screenwriter David ... (read more)

The Sarah Connor's Great-Grandparents Chronicles

David Friedman asks a good question: Why does Skynet keep sending Terminators after Sarah Connor? Or even John Connor, for that matter? Why not go back a hundred years, or two hundred years, and kill her great grandparents? ... Future John Connor would surely send a human into the past to stop the Terminator from killing his great great grandparents. So how does this person fight against a robot killer in an age when technology is so primitive, using his knowledge from the future? And how does ... (read more)

Who Belongs in the Brat Pack?

I don't spend enough time tackling the big questions on Workbench, so I'd like to rectify that today by addressing a subject of great import among those of us who came of age in the '80s: Are James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. part of the Brat Pack? The term Brat Pack was coined by journalist David Blum in the June 10, 1985, issue of New York magazine. His cover story Hollywood's Brat Pack describes a world, now lost, in which attractive young women fought for the right to engage in ... (read more)

Jeff Bridges Visits the Dentist

The actor Jeff Bridges passes along a fish tale I hadn't heard before, concerning a fisherman in Wichita, Kan., who saw a basketball behaving oddly in a lake: It turned out to be a flathead catfish who had obviously tried to swallow a basketball which became stuck in its mouth!! The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface. Bill tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was unsuccessful. He finally had his ... (read more)

Take Heart, Unmarried Women 35 and Older

The radio show The Romance of Helen Trent, which aired from 1933 to 1960, began each of its 7,222 episodes by reassuring women over 34 that they weren't too old to attract a man: And now, The Romance of Helen Trent, the real-life drama of Helen Trent, who, when life mocks her, breaks her hopes, dashes her against the rocks of despair, fights back bravely, successfully, to prove what so many women long to prove, that because a woman is 35 or more, romance in life need not be over, that romance ... (read more)

'French Connection' Chase Still Thrills

Reader Greg Tutunjian made the following comment in response to a New York Times item about how fight scenes in movies have become increasingly incoherent: We go to the movies to be entertained, not to observe proper fighting technique. I think the chase (car versus train) in The French Connection would elicit yawns (and a lot of concurrent texting) from today's target audience in a movie theatre. I recently saw that 1971 film for the first time, wanting to see how Gene Hackman earned his ... (read more)