A couple random, back to back Roadside Sightings today:

1. A bright red panel truck zipping along Rt.3A with a large anthropomorphized lightbulb character on the side, wearing a cap and holding a stopwatch in one hand and a lightning bolt (!) in the other. His name? Mr. Sparky. His business? Being "America's On-Time Electrician." Around here, he is also the Vulcan best friend of a certain Enterprise captain...get it??

2. Inside a nondescript office in Burlington, I'm sitting next to a nondescript faux ficus plant in the waiting area. I look absently at the pot it's "planted" in, and there are several silk leaves gently scattered over the "soil," just where they would fall if the ficus were real -- and if you've ever had a real ficus, you know there are a lot of fallen leaves. I looked at the branches -- no bare plastic tips. So, did the fake ficus come with an extra packet of fake leaves to scatter around its trunk for extra realism? I can only leave you with this thought.
"If the writers want diamond-crusted laptops, give it to them!" -- Proof that the creative impulse shall survive the WGA strike...of course, it would be nice for these two entrepreneurial scribes to have decent profit-sharing when they inevitably get a network deal...


This year my moviegoing has slowed down considerably, yet my movie reviewing is even slower! Nevertheless, it's time for the Auteur, Auteur Edition of TicketStub:

* The Darjeeling Limited -- Toot toot, all aboard the Tweeville Express! Yes, I am a total sucker for Wes Anderson, and no, I don't care if you think he's boring, pretentious, repetitive, racist, whatever. Despite my bias, I think this is his strongest film since Rushmore, maybe because it has such a simple premise: 3 brothers + 1 train across India + their mommy issues = hilarity/poignancy. The ensemble is freshened by Adrian Brody, whose inner weariness makes him less of a caricature than Old Flipflop Wilson, and less of a cad than Jason Schwartzman, who admittedly makes the most of his handsy Lothario part. Anjelica Huston swans in at the end, but by then the whole thing has taken on an intriguingly strange, nonsequential tone. The main character here is really the Indian landscape: does it have any intrinsic meaning, or is it just a wacky backdrop for our three pilgrims? Its compelling beauty and inscrutability point to the former. By the end, we just want the boys to go home already -- India will do just fine without them and their mountain of baggage. (B+)

* Gone Baby Gone -- Hooray for Ben Affleck, he's back from the dead! A confident, well-paced drama set among the seamy degenerates and/or police brass of Boston, the film delves uncomfortably deep into our national obsession with child abduction. Casey Affleck makes an appealing, regular guy lead as a green P.I. who tries to outgame the bad guys, only to find the good guys far more slippery. Over on the grizzled end of the spectrum we have Ed Harris (sporting a menacing titanium brushcut) and Morgan Freeman, who is just a little too trustworthy to pull off the last dark plot twist, but makes it look good. I guess once you've played God it's hard to "play god" on screen. In any event, all the men are outshone by Amy Ryan as the missing girl's messy, crafty mother, who turns from aggrieved to loathsome on a dime. Up against all this, Michelle Monahan has nothing to do in an underwritten part as Casey's partner, but Amy Madigan chews on a nice hunk of Boston accent as the put-upon aunt. Great bit parts, careful editing, and some truly suspenseful sequences...bring on the next project, Ben! One point off for setting a final soliloquy on the exact same Southie rooftop as in The Departed. (A)

* No Country For Old Men -- Yes, I'm the one person who didn't like this all that much. It's well paced, perfectly cast, and beautifully shot, not to mention adapted very faithfully from the original story. Maybe the totally awesome trailer ruined it for me? I frankly felt like I'd seen it all before, and recently: pitiless, sadistic sociopath evading capture (Zodiac), sweeping prairie wasteland that tests men's souls (3:10 To Yuma, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada), a muscular, bloody cat-and-mouse chase (The Bourne Ultimatum, Grindhouse), blah blah blah. I felt like there was almost nothing distinctly "Coen Brothers" about this movie, maybe because it's too thematically similar to Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing. The movie's too good to be just an exercise, but it's not fresh enough to be more than their "amoral carnage" shtick, without any levity. We saw this in Cambridge and a guy actually leapt up and shouted "That sucked!" at the end. I won't go that far....just, meh. Tommy Lee Jones alone puts it above average. (C+)
"Will Write For Food...Won't Write For Free!" -- No wonder they get paid to write dialogue for "The Unit"! Check out some of the clever signage at Day 5 of the WGA strike in Hollywood.


"We’re talking about story-telling, the most basic human need. Food? That’s an animal need. Shelter? That’s a luxury item that leads to social grouping, which leads directly to fancy scarves." -- Joss Whedon is on strike and on a tear! On his personal blog, he waxes on about the WGA strike and why writing is hard and important, not just funtime for fops. Some of my favorite "content creators" (and yes, that is sarcasm) are on the picket lines this week, like the awesome Tina Fey and pretty much everyone at "The Office," which shut down today because Steve Carrell won't cross the picket line. He told NBC he had a case of "enlarged balls," tee hee. Check out some of the "hypenate" writer-actor-producer folk from "The Office" in this video they made from the front lines. Si! Se puede! Viva decent television!
"I saw the girl of my dreams on the subway tonight..." -- Ahh, internet + doofus = love....? Maybe. He's like the Emo Mahir. And she (yes, he found her) is like a real-life "Leggy Blonde"! Thank god for hipster jackasses...
"She got too close for comfort, on the verge of working Triple-A baseball, which was too close to the big leagues for baseball brass to handle." -- Not talking about Annie Savoy here, folks, but an actual real-live female umpire, who was released from baseball this week after nine years in the minor leagues. Will a lady ump ever break through the grass ceiling? Hmmm.