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Friday, September 24, 2004
A wise sage once theorized that the whole could be greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, sometimes the combination of seemingly disparate elements can result in the creation of something with more buzz than either could've generated on their own. Take, for example, chocolate and peanut butter. Pepperoni and mushrooms. Even Cagney and Lacey. With today's nationwide theatrical release of "Shaun Of The Dead", you can add two new words to this delightfully quirky category: the romantic comedy and zombies.
A few weeks back, your Uncle Grambo happened to mention in a post right here on whatevs.org that I was rife with anticipation for the Stateside release of "Shaun Of The Dead." The project first came to my attention this spring in an email from Nummer who -- in addition to being the area's most authoritative expert on "Saturday Night Live" -- is to horror films what Quentin Tarantino is to the canon of The Shaw Brothers: a passionate aficionado without equal. Literally within hours of the post, I was contacted by publicists from Universal wondering if I would be interested in catching a sneak and sitting down with the film's director and two male leads. There was only one suitable response ... OBVS!
Although zombies have held a place in popular culture ever since the 1912 publication of Dr. Otto Standish's breakthrough "Mechanisms and Characteristics Of The Undead", it took the release of George Romero's seminal 1968 classic "Night Of The Living Dead" to firmly establish the appeal of zombies in film. Zombies enjoyed a long run of popularity in the subsequent years, but interest began waning over time as features focused on slashers and aliens began staking their claim at the box office. Zombies were well on their way to becoming the red-headed step child of the genre when Kevin Williamson's reflexively postmodern scripts for "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" set Hollywood ablaze in the late `90s. Little did anyone expect that a videogame series for the burgeoning PlayStation console would change all that.
In a time where Crash Bandicoot and Lara Croft were driving the success of the market, Capcom had the wherewithal in 1996 to launch a haunting series clearly inspired by the ouevre of George Romero entitled "Resident Evil." The games quickly became a worldwide smash, eventually spawing sequels and feature films and reinventing interest in the zombie genre. Over in the UK, an episode of the popular television series "Spaced" featured a dream sequence in which the main character found himself battling zombies in the videogame. It was there that the idea for "Shaun Of The Dead" was born.
Simon Pegg, star and co-writer of "Spaced", got together with series director Edgar Wright to pitch the idea of a rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy). Self-described "zombie purists", the duo crafted a clever script that revolves around the adventures that two best friends -- Shaun (Pegg) and Ed (played by Nick Frost) -- encounter while dealing with an zombie invasion in their neighborhood of North London. Pre-production began with British financing by Film Four ("Trainspotting"), only to be halted during development when the company went bankrupt. After a few anguishing months, Working Title films finally stepped in and took over the financing and distribution of the project.
For a company whose core competency is releasing ÜBER-British chick flicks like "Notting Hill" and "Love Actually", how the "Shaun" guys able to pitch them on a zombie movie? Director Edgar Wright describes it simply enough, "Imagine Richard Curtis getting shot by George Romero." This untraditional and risky manuever not only won the company over, but also set the stage for the film's decidely unique approach to a genre whose previous appeal has skewed heavily towards men (and geeky men, at that).
The film's tagline of "A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies." seems to have resonated on the British Isle, where the movie opened in April to rave reviews and large crowds at the box office (over £8 million to date). After all, you don't outgross top-notch horror films like "28 Days Later" and the big budget Hollywood remake of "Dawn Of The Dead" by just attracting the hardcore horrorphiles (read: dudes like me) to the theatres. This film deftly works on a number of levels: romantic comedy, buddy flick, frightfest and even (gasp!) social commentary.
Sitting down to a quick breakfast snack comprising of bagels and Starbucks at Birmingham's swankadocious Townsend Hotel, director Edgar Wright relays the idea that "zombies represent apathy and complacency and laziness (in our society)." Co-writer / star Pegg chips in, theorizing that "Socially and politically, the climate is such now that we're frightened by the people among us. There's terrorists among us, there's viral concerns. If you live in a city and you just do the same thing everyday, and you don't really stretch yourself, you can become a zombie."
Yeah, now THERE'S an interesting thought. What if your Uncle Grambo were to turn into a zombie? Would I be one of those retro purist zombies, ambling around town all slow and leisurely in pursuit of fresh brains? Or would I rather be one of those new "fast" zombies, barreling through the streets like Gary Busey on a coke bender? Tough decision, indeed. Not for the "Shaun" crew, though, who decided to buck the latest trends by staying faithful to the tradition established by The GoreFather, George Romero. Hence, you won't see any sprinting zombies in this film.
As I mentioned earlier, the filmmakers are "zombie purists"; consequently, they believe that the fast zombies featured in films like "28 Days Later" ("More like '28 Coffees Later'!", quips Simon) are strictly taboo. "It goes against the tradition of the genre", Edgar replies, adding that this spring's "Dawn Of The Dead" remake was "a zombie film made for people with attention deficit disorder." But I don't know, aren't fast zombies, like, WAY SCARIER? "Not at all," Simon responds. "The fast zombies are scarier in a shock bang kind of way, but ultimately, the slow zombies are much more eerie and much more complex. I think it's like the tortoise and the hare."
Clearly passionate about the subject, Edgar closes with the acknowledgement that "One-on-one you can outrun (the slow zombies) and you can beat them, but eventually, if you get tired or you get cocky, then they're gonna get you." Despite going into the conversation CLEARLY in support of fast zombies, the "Shaun" boys have managed to bring me over to their side on this highly controversial topic ... for now.
And with the public's appetite for all things zombie-related at a fever pitch (witness the $23 million opening for the truly AWFUL "Resident Evil" two weeks ago), here's hoping that "Shaun" will become the little zombie film that could. The dialogue is fresh and self-referentially smart (zombiephiles will get a kick out of the film's sly nods to Fulci, Raimi, Romero, Argento and others), the gore factor is adequate enough to impress the Fangoria crowd without making your date barf in the aisle, the soundtrack is tops (Queen, Ash, The Smiths), the plot moves along swiftly and there are a few surprising cameos (including Mr. Paltrow himself, Chris Martin)! You'll laugh, you'll cower, you'll get to make out with your zombie luvvin' date in the dark for a couple of hours. Is there a better way to spend a few hours this weekend? That was a rhetorical question, obvs.
"Shaun Of The Dead" opens nationwide today, yo. Go see it, you won't be disappointed. Four stars (out of five). Natch.
"One of us, one of us." The "Shaun" boys do their best zombie impression at your Uncle Grambo's behest. Pictured from L to R: Director (and Charlotte Hatherly boyfriend) Edgar Wright, co-star Nick Frost and co-writer / star Simon Pegg.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Now I know how Billy Corgan must've felt the day he sat down and wrote the words "Today is the greatest day I've ever known." No silly, I'm not referring to Mike Wendland's profile of whatevs.org that appears in today's Detroit Free Press¹ (although that is quite flattering in and of itself). Obvs, your Uncle Grambo is referring to the newly released photos of Michelle Trachtenberg's recent NSFW nip slippage. Fans of The Trachtenhottness have been teased in the past by clever photoshoppers who applied their talents to "Eurotrip" outtakes, but some commendable member of The Razzi managed to train his vas deferlens on a glorious display of Newton's Law. In the battle between her black cocktail dress and gravity, the winner is obvs. Some say the best display of gravity since The Verve played "Gravity Grave" at Glasto in `94. Dude shmears. [via Harv and Skeet On Mischa]
You get a car! You get a car! You get bumped into a higher tax bracket! The ole economic theory of TINSTAAFL revealed, Oprah stizz.
Even though nothing's older than yesterday's obit, your Uncle Grambo would still like to pass on my thoughts and well wishes to the family of one of the film industry's true mavericks. Russ Meyer: RIP. Your fascination with mischevious / chesty female lawbreakers played a seminal role in the adolescence of an ENTIRE generation, specifically in that you paved the way for Skinemax and inspired the most underrated auteur of the mid to late 1980s, Mr. Andy Sidaris. Hopefully the afterlife will present you with unlimited opportunities to bovs on as many posthumous tees as you desire. Big ups, yo.
The tragic passing of TMFTML earned an obit in The NYT. MAJOR buzz. Back when Miss Modernage (temporarily) retired, I remember her getting some Voice props, but I'm fairly certain this is the first time a major daily has run a story of this magnitude. Blogs = best. [via Lindsay Lindsayism]
If the City of Detroit ever holds a contest requesting submissions for a motto, I would turn in the following: "Detroit: One Step Up And Two Steps Back." While murders and shootings go hand-in-hand with life in the big city no matter WHERE you live, dudes getting capped on Woodward isn't exactly what one would describe as being good for business. Nor is the recent headline detailing that Detroit City Council OK'd a plan that touts racial separation. You see, city council members recently approved putting money into developing a district in the city called "African Town" ... I shit you not. There's still no word on whether the movement to get "Honkey Row" in place has gained any traction. While I jest, both Detroit Blog and Rob Theakston have compiled some eloquent and thoughtful takes on this disheartening decision.
Speaking of which, if you haven't been keeping current with Rob Theakston's blog, you've been missing the proverbial People Mover. I namedropped T-Rob to Wendland as one of the city's premier blogs, but unfortch he was left on the cutting room floor. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't go right ahead and bookmark his site RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. His recent feature entitled "Types Of Suzanne" was not only an insightful meditation on two of the songs that have shaped his summer, but quite possibly the only blog entry in the history of Western Civilization that manages to compare and contrast Leonard Cohen and Journey. And his "Out Of 10" feature (left hand sidebar) that currently ranks 80s movies is proving to be quite controversial as well (I'm a strong believer in "Ferris Bueller" being the epitome of a 10/10 film). Buzz.
If wearing a USB flash drive has indeed become the height of style on the coasts, your Uncle Grambo is quite content to stay here in The D™. Another bonus of Detroit living? No Uggs have EVER been revealed. Shmears.
Julie Delpy writes a fascinating first-person recollection on what it was like to make "Before Sunset" ... kudos to my boy Jeffrey Wells on scoring this entry for his Hollywood Elsewhere column.
And finally, an admission. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for your Uncle Grambo. I have been getting very little sleep of late, and in the rare instance that I have been able to slumber, my dreams have been fraught with regret and dismay. Even happy times like my trip to Los Angeles were plagued with visions of what could've been had The Royal Oak City Council granted a liquor license to Buffalo Wild Wings. Think about it, people! Spicy Garlic wings for breakfast, Smoky Southwestern legs for lunch and Blazins for dinner ... EVERY SINGLE DAY! Unfortch for us all, the Royal Oak City Council makes the Detroit City Council look like the authors of the Magna Carta. Banning BW3 from The Joke is quite poss the durst decision evs.
But as with every cloud that passes over Southeastern Michigan, your Uncle Grambo has discovered a silver lining. Ladies and germs, I present you with "DONKEY KONGA"!!! Lest you think that the latest release for the overwhelmingly tigs Nintendo Game Cube console is any old video game, THIS GAME INVOLVES BONGOS! Yes, I said BONGOS!!! When was the last time you played a video game that involved BONGOS? Thought so, bitches! Witness the following description as found on the EB Games website: "One day, DK and Diddy discover a pair of odd barrels on a deserted beach. After showing the barrels to Cranky Kong, they learn the barrels are really a legendary musical instrument that plays music not only when you drum on it, but also when you clap. Donkey Kong and Diddy decide that they will become famous musicians, get rich, and buy all the bananas they could ever want." TOTALLY BANANAZ! Although information is still murky at press time, the game allegedly streets on Monday Monday Monday. Rumour has it that Matthew McConaughey has already purchased 4 units that he can travel with on his next junket! Life is good, my fine feathered FOWs, life is good.
¹ But seriously, thanks to all of the FOWs who went out of their way and dropped Mike Wendland a line about the merits of whatevs.org. Total hottness revealed, yo. Thanks again, and be sure and check out that article in today's Freep. Quite possibly the first and only time that you'll ever see "tigs" in the pages of a legitimate newspaper! She mars all over your monkey bars, yo.posted by uncle grambo |
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Bad boys, bad boys ... whatcha gonna do? Have YOU seen these two fugitives from justice? Ignore the handsome gentleman in the middle for a second and focus on those rowdy banditos on the edges of the photo above ... believe it or not, these Los Angeles hipsters are fugitives from justice (sorta). Hott off the presses and posted on The Smoking Gun for all the world to see is the Cease and Desist letter that Dualstar Entertainment has sent to my homeys Judging Randy (at left) and Moss (at right). Their crime? Designing and producing the now infamous "Save Mary Kate" t-shirts.
Your Uncle Grambo would like to wish both of these two fine individuals the best of luck in their case against the hideous Olsen Twin conglomerate. I will bravely offer to testify in their defense, should this case ever go to trial. I can vouch for both of them, as the above photo was taken by yours truly on Friday night at 4100 in Silver Lake on the occasion of So Says I's birthday. Little did this naive midwesterner know that he was partying with outlaws ... otherwise I woud've bought them more drinks! She mars.
I also had the DISTINCT pleasure of making the acquaintance of the legendary James St. James on Friday evening. You'll recognize James St. Best Evs as the author of "Disco Bloodbath", which obvs was the harrowing (and, at times, hilarious) account of the Club Kid Killer Michael Alig that served as the inspriration for the movie "Party Monster." We kicked it a for a few minutes, focusing primarily on two things: the Macauley Culkin drug bust and the campaign trail expoits of Peabs and The Coz. I shat you nizz. Drinks were drank, lurid voicemails were delivered and all parties involved had themselves a good ole time. Fuzzily pictured below are your Uncle Grambo, Eva and James. Bozzle bovs on everyone's respective tees.
Only in LA, my friends. Only in LA.
Now wait a second here, Foxy Jess is reporting that the marriage isn't so much faked as it is "illegitimate" ... either way, you have to throw some major effing props to The Federlines if they have truly managed to pull off a major media scam like this. Some say unprecedented! Your Uncle Grambo thought something was awry when I EXCLUSIVELY learned that Dan Rather presided over the nuptials and that Jayson Blair was the ring bearer, but I thought it best to leave the couple alone to celebrate their joyous union in peace! As they say in the biz, DEVELOPING!
Big ups to Rob Theakston for alerting your über-swamped Uncle Grambo to the hottness.
UPDATE (11:36am): This volcanic explosion of buzz is crashing Blogger's servers! Some are reporting that bloggers haven't been this frenzied since the first photos of Lizzie Spiers were revealed! Gotta hand it to Matt Effing Drudge, that cowfucker just broke the biggest story since Clinton got an Oval Office Orgasm from Monica Lewinsky! TOTALLY DEVELOPING!posted by uncle grambo |
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Gotta admit it, I've never really got the whole "animal rights" thing. I mean, try telling me that "The Believers" wouldn't have been EVEN MORE totally best evs if Jimmy Smits had been able to sacrifice a real live chicken during filming! Don't get me wrong, your Uncle Grambo has nothing against vegetarians or even vegans, mainly because that leaves more tender veal for me to feast upon! Mmmmm, baby cows.
And while I pay more attention to saving my belly button lint than saving the whales, I've always been a big fan of PETA. Mind you, that's not because of anything they've ever accomplished or any of the ideals that they actually stand for. It's mainly for the reason that PETA spokesperson described in an interview with New York Daily News scoopmeister supreme, Lloyd Grove ... "We like to keep the T & A in PETA." Gotta love `em for that! Hence, I pledge my full support to their "Buck The Rodeo" campaign, especially if that means seeing more snaps of Bonnie-Jill Laflin. Some say best "Eight Seconds" reset since Luke Perry went to the rodeo, straight to video stizz.
A brand-new Niketown location is set to open on Woodward by Christmas. Yeah yeah yeah, I know ... Chicago got one of these in like 1989. Considering that my hometown just got its very own Hard Rock Cafe within the last 12 months, methinks this is good progress. If Detroit is truly serious about revitalizing itself, it needs to pull out all the stops and convince retailers that moving into the heart of The D™ is economically viable. Apparently, the brisk business being conducted by the downtown Detroit Borders was enough to win over Phil Knight's peeps. I say major buzz for the city ... HOLLA! [thanks to Snowman for the buzz]
On the other end of the success spectrum in Detroit is a little car company I like to call Lincoln Mercury. Displaying the business acumen of a fourth grader whose been held back on more than one occasion, the company has decided to relaunch their brand with an original song by PAULA FREAKING COLE!!! Welcome to 1998, Y&R douchebags! What happened, you couldn't get Meredith Brooks to return your phone calls? Glad you named your new campaign "New Doors Opened", just be sure not to let said doors hit you on the ass as you're being kicked off the account!
Props out to Krucoff for featuring Princess Superstar as Gawker's latest subject in the 5x5 Interview.
Confession time. Call me dead inside or call me culturally irrelevant, but I'm STILL not really sure what people find appealing about either "Garden State" or "The O.C." ... I find both to be just kinda blah. Howevs, your Uncle Grambo will most certainly cop to the fact that I am wildly jealous of both Zach Braff and Josh Schwartz in the way that they both have utilized their respective mediums to draw attention to bands that they really like. Remember when Otis' boss at the video store in "Kicking And Screaming" riffed on where the movie that he dreamt of making would be shelved in the video store? I'm like that, only with what the OST of my movie would be like. And I have to admit that a number of bands that appear on the two upcoming "O.C." soundtrack albums would probably appear on my movie soundtrack. My tastes and Schwartz's definitely overlap when it comes to bands like Guster, The Album Leaf, The Long Winters and Jem. I say buzz.
Lindsay Lohan, aka Her Royal Thighness, is set to star in the movie adaptation of Plum Sykes' "Bergdorf Blondes" ... no buzz unless LL decides to waive her No Nudity clause, a la Neve Campbell.
And finally, I would like to take this opportunity to bid a fond adieu to T-Muffle on the eve of his retirement. If what James St. James said is true and your Uncle Grambo is the "Steve McQueen of blogging", then TMFTML has got to be Dean Martin. Mainly in that he's chronically drunk and marginally talented ... I keed, I keed! Best of luck to everyone's favorite "power punk" and "self-effacing braggart", your witty repartee will most certainly be missed in The Blogosphere™. Another one bites the dust, yo.posted by uncle grambo |
been in meetings all morning, here's a few photos from the last couple of weeks to tide you over until the PM. hott buzz to follow, promise.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Feeling a little groggy this morning, my fine feathered FOWs. Despite the fact that I've already knocked back a 20 oz. DC and a Venti coffee from Starbreezy this morning, the red eye flight back from LA is straight up kicking my ass. Perhaps it's the after effects of Tylenol PM¹? Regardless, this weekend in Hell-Ay was off the heez in terms of overall Best Everness. While I'll spare you the details for the time being, a small photographic retrospective will be posted later on today. In the meantime (Spacehog stizz), I will give you this juicy nugg to chew on ... while we were waiting to be seated at Crustacean in Beverly Hills on Saturday evening, none other than BILLY FREAKING JOEL sat down on the piano in the bar / lounge area for an impromptu mini-concert!!! We were standing no less than 10 feet away from him and Paul Reiser (who, btw, looks a LOT like Joe Montana in person) for a three song set comprising of "Georgia On My Mind" (Ray Charles stizz), an unknown Little Richard-esque jawn and "Try A Little Tenderness" ... TOTAL BUZZ REVEALED! Only in LA, my friends, only in LA.
So um, yeah, like the Emmys were on last night or something. Some say least necessary award show evs. We already see these bozos on the telly once a week, so remind me again why anyone would want to see them gush all over themselves at an awards gala? I managed to catch a little of E!'s pre-game show hosted by Star Jones and was non-plussed by her alleged talent for interviewing. The only hottness came courtesy of The Donald and fiancée Melanoma Knauss, who gave new meaning to the phrase "boob tube" by sporting some of the hottest areola slippage the Red Carps has ever seen. REVEALED!
Outside of what went down in Sparty Nation on Saturday night, this was a great weekend for football lovers in the great state of MI. Braylon Edwards became the all-time reception leader in U-M history during Saturday's narrow victory of San Diego State and the Lie Downs beat up on the Texans, propelling them to their first 2-0 start since 2000. Some say the only lowlight of the weekend was your Uncle Grambo's decision not to start DeShaun Foster in my fantasy league, especially considering he rambled for 174 yards and a TD in a victory over the Chiefs. Noonan!
Has The Postal Service jumped a certain man-eating, underwater-dwelling predator? Despite the fact that "Give Up" has longer legs than Gisele Bundbest, hiring the director of "Napoleon Durstovitz" to helm your next video reeks of The Fonz prepping for that infamous motorcycle stunt. It doesn't help matters much when the concept is being described as "sweet." Blogga PLEASE!
Looking for America's hottest couple? Somebody be sure and tell Brad and Jen to step the eff off cuz here comes Flava Flav and Brigitte Nielson! Page Six is reporting that the stars of the breakaway hit third season of "The Surreal Life" are starring in ANOTHER reality show for the brass at VH-1. Rumour has it that Gitte will be pursued by both Flav and her current fiancé in a cross-country road trip, with both men attempting to vie for the Glamazon's affection. Yeah boyee!
While it's not exactly breaking news that Colin Farrell bangs hott strippers, tell-alls from one of the aforementioned ladies of the night always carry their weight in buzz (NSFW).
While I'm not exactly bullish on the financial prospects of an Italian family style restaurant succeeding in these crazy Atkins and South Beach times, your Uncle Grambo will be lending his full support to to the new Maggiano's that's opening near Somerset Mall. Even though I would choose dining at the Beni-Best-Evs over Maggiano's four out of five times, you can't really go wrong in recommending ANY restaurant located on Big Beaver Road, Exit 69 stizz. Hobvs.
The autopsy results performed in the wake of Rick James' death show that everyone's favourite Superfreak had NINE different drugs in his system at the time of death, including coke, vike, meth and valium. Mixing uppers and downers ... so clichéd. So durst.
Speaking of white lines (don't do it!), the new video from The Streets has been banned in The UK because of its shocking sex, drugs and violence content. The treatment for "Blinded By The Light" shows Lil Mikey Skinner bumping rails, getting head in a bathroom stall and ultimately getting the snot beat out of him by a yobber on the dancefloor. Sounds like a typical night on the campaign trail with Peabs and Coz.
And you didn't think I'd leave without talking about Brit Brit's marraige to Federskank, did you? Well, it's nice to see that The Love Rat
Well, there's one of two ways this can go, folks. Either Brit Brit will settle down and pop out a couple of brats and pursue the route that Madge brought popularity to (reinvention through motherhood), or she will divorce The Love Rat and publicly beg for our forgiveness by acknowledging the error of her ways. Both options have their merits (and already have been fiercely debated), but one thing is certain: Brit Brit ain't going away, folks. Get used to it.
¹ Which, btw, your Uncle Grambo HIGHLY recommends for anyone looking to sleep soundly through a cross country flight.posted by uncle grambo |