Friday, May 27, 2011

I SPIT ON YOUR REMAKE

One of my biggest pet peeves with horror movies these days is that there are too many remakes. I know all the reasons that remakes get greenlit, but most of the justifications are pure bunk.

Studio execs will tell you that it’s smart business to remake an existing property rather than create a new one because it costs less to reboot an already familiar ‘brand.’ Familiar with whom? I buy that argument if we’re talking sequels. Hence, we get four PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies in less than a decade. But pray tell how does that argument work when it comes to remaking a movie whose brand has been dormant for 30 years or more? The original THE HILLS HAVE EYES was made in 1977. The remake came out in 2006. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was made in 1972. Its remake came out in 2009. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE opened in 1983, while its remake opened just this last fall. Do the movie studios really expect those films to have any equity with a new group of teens, two generations removed? Seriously, there is “old school” and then there is that which seems more like “your grandfather’s automobile.”
Leatherface goes on a rampage in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
The powers-that-be will also tell you that modern horror films allow for better production values and that means a cheap looking film from yesteryear gets the chance to be made the way it should have been done, with a proper budget. But in the case of horror, sometimes the cruder films are actually the more powerful ones. Case in point, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE from 1974. True, it can’t hold a candle to the bigger-budgeted production values of its 2003 remake. And lead actress Jessica Biel is a comely presence that the original didn’t have. But once you take a look at the cheapo original you’ll realize that its spotty production values actually work in its favor. The shoestring budget gives it the look of a documentary and that effectively makes it seem real. And doesn’t the more realistic something appears to be render it all the more frightening? As palpably thrilling as Miss Biel is, when it comes to horror, palpable scares are what we’re really after.
The shocking poster for I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1983)
Sometimes political correctness is used as justification for a remake. When the horror exploitation film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE came out it in 1983 it was actually a re-release. It had originally opened in 1978 under the woefully wrong title of DAY OF THE WOMAN and appropriately found no audience. At the time of its creation, filmmaker Mier Zarchi thought he was doing the women’s liberation movement proud by having his female protagonist vengefully turn the tables on her rapists with equal violence. The audiences didn’t see it that way. They saw it as two wrongs not coming very close to making a right. 
The original DAY OF THE WOMAN poster (1978)
Thus, years later the distributors scrapped the original title and noble intentions altogether and marketed it as exploitative trash, ripe for the grindhouse. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was a critic who found its violence and faux feministic posturing so reprehensible that he famously described it as "a vile bag of garbage...without a shred of artistic distinction.” If memory serves, he and Gene Siskel did an entire half hour of their review program devoted to ripping its many faults. So a remake of this movie might be worth the trouble, wouldn’t you think? A new version could find a more measured tone, a more nuanced execution perhaps, and stand as the perfect example of why this story needed to be redone. Unfortunately the remake was none of those things. Roger Ebert said it was merely “a despicable remake of the despicable 1978 original” and gave it zero stars. And its weak box office suggested that the reasoning behind this remake wasn’t correct either, political or otherwise. (BTW, I have seen both versions and they are both awful. If that’s entertainment, you’re a masochist.)
 
Foreign films always get remade because the argument is that American audiences don’t go to the cinema to read. There is sad truth in that statement. Rarely do subtitled films do boffo box office here. (Even last year’s hugely popular Swedish thriller THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO only made 10 million in the USA. Compare that to something like IRON MAN 2. It was only so-so yet that sequel raked in 312 million bucks in American theaters.) Foreign horror gets remade because of that line of thinking as well. And sometimes, surprisingly, the remake is almost as good or in a few cases, even better. 2002’s THE RING is one such example. The American remake of the runaway hit Japanese horror tale RINGU (1998) was actually an improvement. Our version had better pacing, more empathetic characters (Gotta love Naomi Watts!) and even had a scarier 'cursed' home video at the core of its story. (It's featured above in a clip from the remake.) But this is the exception, not the rule.  One only has to rent the bland SHUTTER (2008) and THE GRUDGE (2004) to realize that their foreign originals were infinitely superior. That’s what you're up against when you remake such horror classics.

The main reason horror elicits so many remakes is due to the simple truth that horror films don’t cost a lot to make and almost always turn a profit. And yet while most horror remakes have done good business none have exactly become sensations like their original source material either. Is director Wes Craven glad that his remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT allowed him to make the film he couldn’t due to budget restrictions thirty years ago? Of course. Are we? I’m not so sure. I’d rather see that money used for something fresher, wouldn’t you? Call it idealism, but I don’t see a lot of great reasons to remake most horror films, particularly the legends, even if their budgets were pathetically paltry like the original LAST HOUSE.
Roddy McDowall as the great vampire hunter in FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
One of my favorite horror movies of all time is 1985’s FRIGHT NIGHT, and its remake is about to open later this summer. The original story concerned a teenage boy who realizes his new neighbor is a vampire. It was clever, scary as hell and funny too, with a terrific cast headed by William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon and the elegant Roddy McDowall. I must tell you the trailer for the remake looks fantastic! I can already see that it’s quite similar but also different. Certain ideas have been updated and modernized, and it looks like every dollar is there on the screen. Still, it appears it retains many of the original’s great ideas and charms. So see, despite all my bellyaching, I’ve just given some Hollywood horror exec reason to sleep quite well tonight. But I hope he has nightmares, because most of the horror remakes being served up frankly aren’t worth my spit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

IS JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE THE MOST TALENTED MAN IN HOLLYWOOD?

After watching Justin Timberlake host this past weekend’s episode of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE I am inclined to think he is the most talented performer going these days. He can sing, he can dance, he can do imitations…and as he showed the nation Saturday night, he’s actually a better player on SNL than any regular cast member. And with the estimable Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis amongst that current crew, that’s quite an accomplishment. 
Timberlake is nothing if not versatile, even within the same show. What makes his hosting turns on SNL so extraordinary is the range he shows off. He can do broad and subtle, sometimes in the same skit. Just watch him in his monologue from the May 23rd show embedded below and you’ll see what I mean. In mere minutes, he shows more talent than most hosts do in an entire 90-minute show.


Later, in a skit entitled “What’s That Name,” Timberlake and Lady Gaga played themselves on a game show where they had to guess people’s names. Gaga was good albeit she underlined every line. Timberlake, on the other hand, showed a master’s class of nuance, as his comedic reactions were subtle yet hilarious. The audience howled when he failed to identify both a female fan he slept with two weeks ago as well as his former ‘N Sync band member Chris Kirkpatrick (SNL cast member Taran Killam in those awful dreads that Kirkpatrick used to favor). It’s funny writing for sure, but Timberlake’s expressions of worsening humiliation made it sublime. (The skit is embedded below because you have to see it for yourself.)


Another amazing feat he displays whenever he’s on the show is his ability to keep from cracking up. Even when he’s getting the hugest of guffaws from the live audience, he keeps a straight face, which is something Jimmy Fallon could never boast. Timberlake is a consummate show biz pro. He’s funny, focused, and fearless. Is it any wonder he was the first host ever to win an Emmy for SNL hosting chores?

As impressive, Timberlake can vary his natural charms to villainous effect. He played the bad guy in ALPHA DOG (2006), BLACK SNAKE MOAN (2006) and most effectively, as Napster creator/hanger-on/con man Sean Parker in last year’s best movie THE SOCIAL NETWORK. As Parker, Timberlake dialed up his charisma to the point of unctuousness and it made for oily evil. Timberlake employed a fixed stare, directing his unblinking eyes at his prey, and it gave his Parker the look of a deadly cobra. It was a deliciously evil feat in a film filled with great performances. Perhaps because there were too many marvelous turns in that powerful movie Timberlake was overlooked when Oscar announced its best supporting actor nominees this year, but then again, his equally worthy cast mates Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer were egregiously overlooked as well. 
Justin Timberlake has approached his entire movie career with care and a rare humbled quality. Up until this year, he has not carried a film yet, choosing instead to take good supporting roles, learn his craft, and build the resume. In July he plays his first lead when FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS opens. It’s a sex comedy essentially, with Timberlake bumping bits and quips with the equally bright Mila Kunis. Timberlake has another movie comedy due this summer as he is set to play opposite his old flame Cameron Diaz in BAD TEACHER. Timberlake has conquered music, TV and now it would seem that a burgeoning film career is his for the taking.
And he’s only 30. Imagine all the years and all the things he has oodles of time to do. He’d be a great song and dance man in a Broadway musical. He should certainly take a stab at a movie musical or two. And I’d imagine he would end up writing and directing some day as he’s shown a brilliant penchant for penning his own material during his music career. He’s not only the guy who brought sexy back, but I think he might be the next Warren Beatty as well: a talented and handsome leading man capable of doing drama and comedy, who will assert creative control over his projects and further awe us. We can only hope.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

50 GOOD IDEAS FOR HOLLYWOOD


1.) Now that David E. Kelly’s TV pilot of WONDER WOMAN bombed, Hollywood should make a reverent big screen version. The legendary comic book deserves it.

2.) And cast an unknown as Wonder Woman. Preferably an athlete. Or dancer.

3.) Make the costume look like this. (Like in the comics. Duh.)
Not this. (What they did for the TV pilot looked like something from a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog, didn't it?)
4.) Give Kate Hudson a sitcom because she’s worn out her welcome in movies. Sadly.

5.) Stop converting 2D movies into 3D movies.

6.) Stop remaking 70’s horror movies, Michael Bay.

7.) And please, enough with your sequels to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. (There’s a 3D version due out this summer. Why?)

8.) Cast Steven Tyler in a movie role. How about a rom-com? Now that would be an interesting love story, wouldn't it? 

9.) Give Zach Galifianakis a romantic lead too.

10.) And Judy Greer as well. And Mageina Tovah. Samantha Bee? Nasim Pedrad? Olivia Munn? (Yes, definitely Olivia Munn.)

11.) Make a movie version of Truman Capote’s best short story “Hand Carved Coffins.”

12.) Get the terrific writers of the TV series JUSTIFIED to adapt a big screen version of another Karen Sisco story.

13.) And get Jennifer Lopez to reprise it. It’s still her best role ever.

14.) Adapt the last couple of books that Elmore Leonard has written.

15.) Give Louis CK a movie lead.
16.) Give Carla Gugino a movie lead too. Or two. Or three.  

17.) Do a movie of WICKED with Anne Hathaway and Reese Witherspoon playing Elphaba and Glinda, respectively.

18.) Make a Hugh Hefner biopic. And cast James McAvoy as Hef. (He even kind of looks like him.)

19.) While you’re at it, do a Hank Aaron biopic too.

20.) Same with Jack Johnson. THE GREAT WHITE HOPE is fiction. The real story deserves a film.

21.) Hattie McDaniel too. (A perfect role for Gabbie Sidibe, no?)

22.) Ditto Harold Lloyd. His is a great story.
23.) There's never been a great biopic of Andrew Jackson either.

24.) Or Albert Einstein.

25.) Or Ulysses S. Grant.

26.) Or John Wilkes Booth. (Adapt the superb book biography “American Brutus” by Michael Kaufman.)

27.) And someone needs to adapt Jerry Stahl’s bio of I, FATTY. (Supposedly Johnny Depp owns the rights to it.) It’s the story of Fatty Arbuckle and it's one of the best Hollywood biographies ever.

28.) And why hasn’t there been a Richard Speck movie yet? Focus on the intrepid 3-day manhunt and you’ve got a crackerjack thriller.

29.) Please let Kate Winslet do whatever she wants. Anything. Even TEXAS CHAINSAW. (Okay, maybe not that.)
30.) Let Cate Blanchett have her way too.

31.) Get John Waters to do a movie version of the Broadway musical URINETOWN.

32.) Give director David Cronenberg more work.

33.) Give Kenneth Branagh THOR money to do two or three Shakespeare movies. Start with a definitive adaptation of Macbeth.

34.) Give the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award to Robert Redford. (It’s ridiculous that they haven’t yet.)
35.) And give the AFI award to Michael Caine sooner than later as well. Same with Woody Allen. And composer John Williams. Gene Hackman. As well as Robert Duvall. Come on, AFI.

36.) Studios should make 10 pictures a year that each cost less than 10 million.

37.) Farm out movie trailers. The studio versions are too formulaic.

38.) And stop giving away the entire movie in them. A rule of thumb should be to show no clips from the last 20 minutes of a film.

39.) Just because he’s available now doesn’t mean that "The Governator" should do action leads he’s too old for. Ick.

40.) Have Quentin Tarantino write a role for Bruce Willis. Fast.

41.) Cast Karina Smirnoff of DANCING WITH THE STARS as a bad Bond girl. 
42.) Cast Colin Firth as a Bond villain. (Wouldn’t he make a charming cad?)

43.) Give Eric Roberts a lead role again.

44.) Now that BRIDESMAIDS is a big success, make more movies with female leads. (And not just rom-com’s. Please.)

45.) Start a movie series based on the "100 Bullets" comic books.
46.) And don't do "Y: The Last Man" as a movie. That needs to be a mini-series. On HBO or Showtime.

47.) Remake bad movies. Not classics.

48.) Even if THE HANGOVER 2 is great, please quit while you're ahead already.

49.) Change Oscar's best film list back to just five.

50.) And finally, get Tina Fey to host the Oscars. Pronto.
Your thoughts, friends and followers?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

IN PRAISE OF PRICE

“It’s as much fun to scare as to be scared.”
- Vincent Price
Original caricature of Vincent Price in THEATER OF BLOOD (1973) by Jeff York (copyright 2011)

May 27th would have been the 100th birthday of Vincent Price. My favorite horror film star, and the greatest one ever, died in 1993 at the age of 82 and worked almost up until the day he died. There are many events and retrospectives planned to honor Price this year. I am hoping that the Gene Siskel Film Center or The Music Box Theater here in Chicago plan some kind of retrospective but I am not sure there is anything on their books yet. However there are plenty of tributes out there lauding Price in the year of his “Vincentennial”:


  • His boyhood home of St. Louis, Missouri is hosting a “Vincentennial” Celebration this month over nine days from May 19-28th. Read all about the festivities they have planned for that week:http://www.cinemastlouis.org/vincentennial 
The poster for St. Louis' Vincentennial Celebration planned for later this month
  • There are many fan sites full of wonderful tributes commemorating his career. Start here with a complete retrospective of Price's work: http://www.vincentprice.org

It’s no wonder that there is so much devoted to him. The prolific Mr. Price starred in countless plays, TV shows and over 100 films in his seven-decade career. Many of those films have become horror classics and they showcase just how marvelous an actor and star he was.

In my youth, I first became aware of Price when he played the villainous Egghead on the old, campy BATMAN TV series in the sixties. He was hilarious and charming what with all his egg puns. (“Eggscellent, Caped Crusader.”) I sought out more work from him and soon discovered the plethora of Price movies on the late show. This same man who was so amusing as a “Special Guest Bat Villain” was absolutely terrifying and insidious playing straight villainy in his macabre movie roles. And I found in Price an actor who gave his all to whatever he did. He never acted like these roles were beneath him. Instead he made horror films into art.
Vincent Price as Egghead on the BATMAN TV series from the sixties
My favorite of all of his horror films is THEATER OF BLOOD (1973). I discovered it when I was attending college in Chicago. It was being shown at the old Varsity revival house theater up in Evanston then. (Today THEATER OF BLOOD is available immediately on Netflix, along with the other DVD’s of many of the other films mentioned below.) It immediately became one of my favorite movies, and my favorite Price performance. In the film, Price played Edward Lionheart, a hammy Shakespearean actor who becomes outraged when he loses a critics’ prize for best actor. The distraught Lionheart attempts suicide but survives, and then channels his angst into a revenge plot - he decides to kill the critics who had so often butchered him in their reviews. He concocts elaborate deaths for them inspired by his beloved Bard. Fittingly, one critic gets his heart carved out in homage to Shylock’s demand for a pound of flesh. Another critic is forced to eat his dogs in a pie inspired by the tale of Tamora, the queen who ate her children. In the role of Lionheart Price got to perform all sorts of soliloquies and he pulled a deft balancing act between the sublime and the ridiculous. It’s one thing to perform Shakespeare straight. It’s quite another to push it ever so slightly into ham. But Price was an expert actor and comedian in a way. He knew exactly where to push, to let us in on the fun, without playing outside the role.

In his early years, Price starred in all kinds of upscale dramas like THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX (1939), THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES (1940), THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943) and the sublime LAURA (1944). But when he joined Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone in 1939 for the horror tale TOWER OF LONDON he found his true niche. By the fifties when he took the lead role in HOUSE OF WAX (1953) Price had hit his stride as the consummate leading man of horror.
Vincent Price as Henry Jarrod in HOUSE OF WAX (1953)

Price’s role as Henry Jarrod in HOUSE OF WAX established a prototype that Price would play often, that of the cultured and sensitive man driven to madness and destruction by societal villains far worse than he. Jarrod is a wax museum proprietor and artist whose only desire is greatness. He’s got the best showcase in town but when his business partner decides to burn down the place to collect the insurance money, Jarrod is believed to have vanished in the fire trying to save his artistic creations. But Jarrod resurfaces some time later with a new wax museum. Then his partner is found hanged – the latest victim of a nocturnal fiend terrorizing the city. Of course it turns out to be Jarrod committing the murders. He’s using the fresh corpses to make his newest lifelike creations. He’s the villain here but Price imbues Jarrod with such sympathy that you understand his motives and mourn his inevitable end.  

Few actors in Hollywood could play pathos as well as Price. Despite his imposing height, handsome face and silky delivery, Price’s screen persona was one that connected with audiences. He wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability and it always made his characters sympathetic, even when he played monsters. As Price once said, “I don’t play monsters. I play men besieged by fate and out for revenge.”




Price always radiated intelligence too. He was a highly cultured man, a gourmet cook, and a connoisseur of art, wine, history and literature. His urbane style showed in his every gesture, his carriage and his elegant vocal delivery. Perhaps it was those civilized manners or that sanguine voice of his, but somehow menace seemed even more terrifying when it came from such a gentlemen as Price. He was the quintessential Bond villain, before there ever was such a thing.

In the sixties he made a half dozen pictures with Roger Corman and brought to life some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works. Unfortunately the films were a mixed bag. For every brilliant interpretation of Poe’s legendary prose like HOUSE OF USHER (1960) there were thin parodies like THE RAVEN (1963) that hurt both Poe and Price. Today, the good is remembered more than the bad and USHER, along with MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964) and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964) are considered a brilliant cryptic triptych of Poe rendered by Price and Corman. 

Price was everywhere during the sixties, doing numerous TV guest shots on everything from THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. to F TROOP, often spoofing his horror image or riffing on his bon vivant style. He also became a popular fixture on talk shows, further ingratiating audiences to him with his charming conversations about Hollywood, art and gourmet food. Audiences loved him and it allowed him to continue to star in big budget pictures. And Price used the opportunity to create some of his most brilliant and disturbing works. His turn as MATTHEW HOPKINS: WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968) is one of his greatest achievements. The role of Hopkins was an almost completely unsympathetic role. He’s a vicious bounty hunter of witches and warlocks in 1645 medieval England. Pious, brutal, albeit a complete charlatan, Hopkins trades mercy for money and sexual favors. At the age of 57, Price was startling in the incendiary role. And over the next decade Price would continue to reach new heights both in popularity and in polishing his reputation as an artist and risk taker.

Price’s penchant for playing good men driven to evil means by a cruel world would reach its zenith in a couple of roles that became worldwide sensations. In 1971 he took on the role of THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. Price’s Anton Phibes was a surgeon, scientist, organist, and biblical scholar out for revenge upon the nine doctors he considered responsible for his wife's death. It was a great villain yet audiences cheered Phibes on as a hero. There was something relatable to them about the moralistic Phibes driven to extreme measures by the careless elite at the top of the medical community. Even though Phibes exacted comeuppance through horrifically detailed murders based on the nine plagues of Egypt he remained sympathetic. He was a moralist raging against authority in turbulent political times. Through Phibes, Price found himself amongst other anti-establishment icons of the era like Abbie Hoffman and Woodward & Bernstein. They were all topplers of kings, the true enemies of the people who had it coming.

Phibes was so successful that a quickie sequel was made in 1972. Then in 1973 came THEATER OF BLOOD with Price playing Lionheart, a variation on the Phibes conceit. Audiences worldwide adored it and critics, including the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert, praised it as Price’s best film work to date.

Price remained as in demand and active as he ever was, doing TV, movies and specials throughout the next three decades. And along with his ubiquity he pulled in generations of new fans as they reveled in his voice-over rap at the centerpiece of Michael Jackson’s THRILLER video in 1982, and as the inventor of Johnny Depp’s EDWARD SCISSORHANDS character in 1990.
Vincent Price with director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp on the set of EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)

In a career that spanned seven decades, Price starred in many of the silver screen’s most important horror movies. I would be remiss to not mention seminal films like THE INVISBLE MAN RETURNS (1939), THE FLY (1958), THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1958) and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964), all benefiting from the presence of Price. There has really been no actor like him, before or since. He brought intelligence, pathos, elegance, and commitment to a genre that many often sneer at. He was a great actor and artist. Now in his 100th year, is a good time to revisit his work on DVD and to celebrate the indisputable king of horror. Price lives forever immortal on celluloid and in the hearts of those who love him.

Eggscellent indeed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

BEAUTY & THE BEAST

I was waylaid this weekend with an awful cold so I wasn’t able to get out to the movies. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to take in a great romance and an even greater thriller. Of course, I’m talking about the eventful weekend on television what with the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and then the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Whew, what a show!

The love story of Prince William and Kate Middleton is not a fairytale made up in Tinsel Town but something mature and real. Theirs is a relationship not founded on silly happenstance like J-Lo meeting the man of her dreams immediately after getting artificially inseminated like in THE BACK-UP PLAN (2010). Nor was their story stretching credulity like the contrived plotting of THE PROPOSAL (2009) where secretary Ryan Reynolds agrees to marry his boss Sandra Bullock so she won’t be deported. Instead the story of Wills and Kate is based on something much more modern and far more advanced in storytelling than any romance of the last decade.
The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge first met at school, over a decade ago, where they became good friends. Then their friendship turned into something more, a romance, and it led to them moving in together. And after living with each other for a number of years they decided that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together as well. This grounded couple did not rush into marriage after a brief courtship like is so often the case in the storybook romances out of Hollywood, or for that matter in the ridiculously short courtship of William’s parents - only five months. No, their realization took 8 years. And because of that I think they truly know each other and what they want. And I give them very good odds for making their marriage last. 
The beautiful Kate Middleton strikes me as a heroine for the modern age as well. First of all she is a “commoner” as the Brits like to call her, as she is not of royal lineage, and that makes her instantly more likable doesn’t it? Secondly, she has a job and is very much her own woman. Finally, she’s handled everything with aplomb thus far, from the decades-long relationship ups and downs, to the dignified engagement, to all the festivities of the wedding day. She’s wise beyond her years, level-headed and composed, not some silly girl. We haven’t had this grounded a woman in royalty since Grace Kelly chucked all of Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier at the height of her career. She rose to that new job with dare I say, unequaled grace, and I know Kate will too. Watching her move with such confidence through every stage of the wedding day on Friday should give everyone great hope for the monarchy and for true adult love. No storybook romantic bullshit here my friends. This is the real thing. And what a welcome and refreshing romance that is.

It was certainly a big enough news weekend just with that but then on Sunday evening at approximately 9:35PM central standard time, we were treated to a thriller unlike any we’d seen in quite some time. I was watching TV when a crawl came across the screen telling all of its viewers that the President of the United States was going to tell us some critical news in the coming moments. At first I feared the worst. Were we under attack? Had someone died in the administration or in the Obama family? The tension rose for over half an hour before anyone had any idea what the breaking news was. Then around 10:15 pm it was announced that the President would be talking to the nation to tell us that Osama Bin Laden had been found and killed. The nightmare that started on September 11, 2001 would now reach some form of closure. The evil terrorist behind those attacks, the beastly public enemy # 1, was finally dead. 
And sure enough the President walked up to the lectern and looked into the camera with a determined, steely gaze and told us the news of how a stealth team of Navy SEALS had snuck into Bin Laden’s secret compound in Pakistan and taken him out. It sounded liked something that Hollywood would create - a top-notch thriller, probably with Matt Damon or Bruce Willis in the lead. But instead it was a real story starring a cool and tough commander-in-chief, a crack staff and expert military personnel who were able to keep the covert operation secret from everyone. And they kept the plan hidden for well over six months. Amazing. (And I can’t help but smile at the fact that the President’s news ended up preempting the conclusion of an episode of Donald Trump’s reality show. You want to see a man fire someone, Trump? Watch the Prez take out Bin Laden, you poseur!) 
As more of the story’s details become known it seems even more incredible. And you just know that soon there will be an HBO mini-series made out of it or some 100 million dollar extravaganza for the IMAX screens. Apparently Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar winning director of THE HURT LOCKER (2010), already had a Bin Laden movie in the works. But the reality of this story is more exciting than anything that Hollywood will possibly bring to life.

It has been said that God writes lousy theater. But this weekend the deity wrote one helluva great script. It was a romance to beat all romances and a crackling nail-biter that had all of us on the edge of our seats. And if you don’t think that he has a sequel in mind, then consider the ingĂ©nue possibilities of Kate’s delightful younger sister and maid of honor. Come, come now...can THE ROYAL MARRIAGE 2: THE RETURN OF PIPPA be far behind?