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I’ve said it before, and I’m pretty sure it will be awhile before I stop saying it, but L.A. is a pretty weird little town.

A group of us went out for breakfast this past Saturday at one of our favorite spots: The Griddle Cafe.

For those of you who don’t know, The Griddle is located on Sunset Boulevard just west of Fairfax, and it’s right next door to the Directors Guild of America.

After failing miserably at finishing off our gigantic meals, we headed for the car. We were parked just around the corner from the Guild and, just as we were walking by, an event that was being held there began to let out.

An older guy crossed in front of us heading for his waiting car; my girlfriend paused, looked at him, and said: “I think that’s Gus Van Sant.”

I have to be honest, I had no clue what the “Milk” director looked like, so I took her word for it.

“Oh. Cool.”

We walked up twenty feet and turned the corner; there, walking toward us, was Danny Boyle.

Unlike Van Sant, I recognized the “Slumdog Millionaire” director, but Kathy still beat me to the punch.

“And… Danny Boyle?”

We continued past him just as someone was starting up the standard “I love your work” conversation.

And then, just as we were about to cross the exit of the Guild’s parking structure, Ron Howard almost ran us over with his BMW.

Okay, I admit that I’m being melodramatic. The Guild did have a guy out on the sidewalk stopping pedestrians, so Richie Cunningham didn’t exactly run us over; still, he did drive right by us.

“Ron Howard?” I babbled incredulously while pointing at the director of “Frost/Nixon.”

Since moving out here three months ago, Kathy and I have seen a few celebrities out and about; but this director triumvirate made both of us pause for a second and realize, “Whoa. We live here.”

I can’t wait to run into Tarantino at Tito’s Tacos.

The only thing better than a Tito’s Taco is two,


“Frozen River” (Cohen Media Group)

1. What’s beautiful about this movie is its simplicity. Whereas most movies feel the need to show everything, “Frozen River” successfully tells its tale without overdoing the details. For example, one of the key characters of the storyline, a deadbeat gambling-addicted father, never even makes an appearance. But the rest of the cast brings him to life with the anger and resentment they hold for him.

2. Actress Melissa Leo, who portrays the film’s lead character Ray Eddy, deserves the Oscar hands-down for Best Actress. Of course, she’s the only non-rock star in the bunch and will be completely overlooked, but her performance is light-years beyond anything Kate Winslet did in her portrayal of a Nazi pedophile in the absolute worst movie of the year (possibly decade), “The Reader.”

3. The film is exceptionally realistic and doesn’t rely on standard Hollywood gimmicks in its storytelling. At times you feel as if you’re watching a real-life documentary, not a fictional movie that was distributed by Sony.

4. You end up either liking or at least sympathizing with each and every character in the film; from the credit card-stealing son, to the financially-struggling and human-smuggling mothers, to the 9-to-5 cop who’s just doing his job, it’s possible to relate to them all.

5. “Frozen River” is in my top five films of last year. So is “Slumdog,” and I know everyone has a boner for it right now, but “Frozen River” is an overall better movie. It lacks the Disney fairytale ending that “Slumdog” suffers from, instead deciding to stick to its realistic guns and leave viewers maybe not with a happy ending, but definitely with a better story.

Frozen River Phoenix,


PS: Just in case you were wondering, my top five films of 2008 were (in order of first to fifth place):

1. “Wall-E”
2. “The Visitor”
3. “Frozen River”
4. “Burn After Reading”
5. “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Wrestler” (tie)

And just for fun, here are my top five most-hated movies of last year (in order of totally shitty to just kinda crappy):

1. “The Reader”
2. “Rachel Getting Married”
3. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
4. “Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
5. “Revolutionary Road”

…free movies.

Sometimes we go to these pre-release screenings, like for “Milk” (Quick Review: Yawn) and “Doubt” (Quick Review: Arm-stretching, face-shaking YAWN). Other times, Kathy will get a screener DVD that she’s allowed to take home for a night.

This past weekend she brought home “Slumdog Millionaire,” which I had heard a lot of good things about. Then again, I had heard good things about both “Milk” and “Doubt,” so I was a little leery of how good “Slumdog” would actually be.

It lived up to the hype.

For those who don’t know, “Slumdog Millionaire” tells the story of Jamal, a street rat kid living in India, and how he got on the country’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

The story is told in flashbacks, showing how past life experiences have taught Jamal the answers to the trivia questions he’s being asked.

There’s more to it than that, of course, including stories of corruption, friendship and lost love, but I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to give anything away. I just figured that since I bag on so much shit here on this blog, that I should actually share something good with you when it deserves it.

Oh, and it’s got a great soundtrack, featuring music from A. R. Rahman and M.I.A. So check that out, too.

Now that that’s out of the way, I promise to be angry and make fun of something again soon.

I’m a slumdog hundredaire,


Old Poop!