Devin Gordon

Stories by Devin Gordon

  • WHEN HETEROS ATTACK: A 'STRAIGHT PLAN FOR THE GAY

    Now here's a reality show we never saw coming. "Straight Plan for the Gay Man" is Comedy Central's cute, role-reversing spoof of Bravo's makeover hit, and there's one other major change: "Queer Eye" has five experts, while "Straight Plan" makes do with four. Poor Jai--he's so useless he didn't even get spoofed. (Maybe next time: Showtime is planning a show in which black men teach white guys how to be hip.) Each week the "Flab Four" help a gay man realize his dream of passing for a day as a hetero. Why any self-respecting gay man would have such a dream is unclear. In any case, the show's first patient is Jonathan, an effete fashionista who might be TV's tackiest gay man: one apartment wall is covered with collectible teacups so heinous that the guys' redecoration effort--bowling trophies and an oinking potato-chip dispenser--is an improvement.Like "Queer Eye," "Straight Plan" is fortunate to have a go-to jokester in its crew, the rotund "Appearance Guy," Billy Merritt. When the...
  • THE PLAYERS: FIVE AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

    In case you haven't caught the latest efforts by the participants in our round table, here's what you're missing. And if you're really behind, a brief biography of each director.'The Return of the King': In the dazzling, impassioned finale of the Middle-earth trilogy, the reluctant leader Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) rises to confront a final assault by Sauron's evil army, while a pair of hobbits, Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin), continue their quest to destroy an all-powerful ring. New Zealand's Peter Jackson launched his career with ultragory horror flicks such as 1992's "Dead Alive." His critical breakthrough came in 1994 with the mesmerizing drama "Heavenly Creatures," starring newcomer Kate Winslet. Next up for Jackson: fulfilling a childhood dream by remaking "King Kong."'Lost in Translation': A warm whisper of a movie set in a Tokyo hotel, Sofia Coppola's unforgettable comedy is a snapshot of two people crossing paths at crossroads in their lives: a bewildered young...
  • SUNDANCE '04: NOW TERROR'S AT SEA

    So the "Blair Witch" directors got some actors lost in the woods and made creepy noises around their campsite. Big deal. In the history of "I dare you" filmmaking, it's possible that no movie has approached the insanity of writer-director Chris Kentis's 2004 Sundance Film Festival entry, "Open Water," about a scuba-diving couple stranded in shark-infested waters after their chartered boat leaves without them. Forget the trials of the "Blair Witch" cast: this movie is a 79-minute triple-dog-dare. Like its Sundance predecessor, "Open Water" had a microscopic budget. Kentis couldn't afford to build a mechanical shark, as in "Jaws," and he certainly couldn't afford computer-generated killers. So he did what any filmmaker-cum-sadomasochist would do: he dropped anchor 18 miles offshore in the Bahamas, dumped chum in the water and filmed the actors quaking as real, live sharks came calling. "It definitely got a little dicey at times," Kentis says."Open Water" is based on a true story, and...
  • HAPPY GO LARRY

    He is going to hate this piece. He hasn't read a word of it yet, obviously, but his ambivalence is in the air somehow. For example, there was the time he said, "I'm going to hate this piece you're doing now." It was June 2003. HBO had persuaded (OK, begged) Larry David to allow a NEWSWEEK reporter to spend two days with him on the set of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the Emmy-nominated comedy series he writes and stars in. On the show, which began its ingenious fourth season on Sunday, David plays himself: the curmudgeonly, whiny, kvetchy and now fabulously wealthy cocreator of "Seinfeld." His declaration came during a break in shooting. "I just hate reading what I have to say. I find it boring. And I'm called a lot of names in these pieces that I don't really agree with--everything in the 'curmudgeon,' 'whiner,' 'kvetcher' family."Of course, David was smiling as he said all this. He's that rare breed of guy who's happiest when he's unhappy. Six months later, NEWSWEEK checked in with...
  • How 'The Matrix' Lost Its Mojo

    In November 2002, after spending four days with the main "Matrix" team in Los Angeles and two more with its visual effects crew in Alameda, Calif., I wrote a story for NEWSWEEK's Who's Next special report that marveled at the potential greatness of the forthcoming sequels, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." I didn't actually view either of the entire films--it was too early for that, but I hung out with the costume designer, the production designer, the special-effects coordinator, the cinematographer, the sound editor, the actors, the producers, even the videogame creator. And everything they told me, everything showed me, was dazzling. I was the first journalist to see the delirious fight scene between Neo and the 100 Agent Smiths in "Reloaded" as well as the epic freeway chase that follows it--a pair of sequences that, no matter what you think of "Reloaded" overall, have spots reserved from them in the action-cinema pantheon. I listened to John Gaeta, the trilogy...
  • Guiding Actors Through Hell And Back

    Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is more articulate in his second language, English, than most people are in their first, but it's easy to make his fluency vanish. Just ask him which movie features the better Sean Penn performance--his new film, "21 Grams," or "Mystic River"? "Oh," he says, laughing, "I don't do this. I'm not... you have to say." Gonzalez Inarritu was faster on his feet the first time he spoke to Penn. Three years ago the actor called him at his home in Mexico City to tell him how much he loved his first movie, the Oscar-nominated "Amores Perros." "He said, 'Hi, this is Sean Penn'," Gonzalez Inarritu recalls, "and I said, 'Sure, and I'm Marlon Brando'."In conversation, the 40-year-old director is cheerful and inviting; his movies, to put it mildly, are not. Despite the success of "Amores Perros," Gonzalez Inarritu had planned to stay in Mexico to make "21 Grams," a spiritual sequel to his debut. He changed his mind when heavyweights like Penn began...
  • It's A Digital Life: Dvds For Everyone

    The sudden explosion of DVDs took many of us by surprise, which may explain why some consumers are still making curious choices for their home libraries. Why, exactly, is anyone buying the DVD version of "2 Fast 2 Furious"? Was once not enough? Of course, DVDs can be great gifts--if, to quote one of TIP SHEET's picks below, you choose wisely.Wronged Men & Notorious Women: Five Hitchcock Thrillers, 1935-1946 The best of Hitch's early black-and-whites--"The 39 Steps," "The Lady Vanishes," "Spellbound," "Notorious" and his best-picture winner "Rebecca"--in one set. ($124.95)BBC's The Office: The Complete First Season Yes, we know, there's never anything good on TV. This painfully funny satire of life in corporate hell is the exception that proves the rule. ($29.98)Scarface: Special Edition When you think about it, Brian De Palma's 1983 epic isn't a very good movie. So don't think about it. Just enjoy the blood, the excess, the Al Pacino overacting. ($26.98)Monty Python's The...
  • Meet The Titans Of Taste

    Paola AntonelliCURATOR, MUSEUM OF MODERN ARTHer criterion is simple: "I try to decide," says Paola Antonelli, curator of architecture and design at New York's MoMA, "whether the space an object occupies on Earth is well used." If that sounds like a high bar to clear, just look at what Antonelli is holding. And wearing. "Post-It notes are smart, beautiful and cheap. That's the apotheosis of great design," she says. "Yellow is an attention-getting color. And square is a classically rational shape."Since joining MoMA in 1994, the Italian-born Antonelli has emerged as a star in the design world. She has a lively eye and a gift for crystallizing ideas. "Just like people can tell good steak from bad, I want it to be the same with design," she says. Someone ought to write that down. Got a pen?Murray MossFOUNDER AND OWNER, MOSSWhen murray moss opened his Manhattan store nine years ago, he put a steel garbage can in the window to make a point: design is everywhere--and everything. Give him...
  • Dvds: No--Praise You, Spike

    For years, music-video directors have gotten a bum rap--they're all flash, no substance, and they grow up to become lousy movie directors. The trouble is, almost every truly innovative filmmaker these days breaks into the biz with music videos, so the rap is a bit like slagging a butterfly for starting out as a caterpillar. Worse, it kicks to the curb some of the best cinema made in the last decade: the music videos themselves. Now, finally, some of the masters are getting their due. Last week the first batch of Palm Pictures' "Directors Label" DVD series hit stores, anthologizing the short-form work of Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham--the holy trinity of music-video directors.The Jonze DVD is surely the prize of the bunch. For the first time, the "Adaptation" director's hilarious, high-concept videos--including his man-on-fire clip for Wax's "California," the guerrilla galleria dance show for Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" and, of course, the coolest video ever made,...
  • Newsmakers

    Ready to RumbleLast month NEWSWEEK was keen to interview Liza Minnelli. She was filming a guest spot on a Fox sitcom, and a Broadway musical about her ex-husband Peter Allen was set to open. Was this not a Liza moment? Her publicist said no, but confirmed our radarlike journalistic instinct: "Life's great for her these days."And these days? Last week the gossip industry celebrated Christmas early when her husband, David Gest, sued her for domestic violence, accusing her of beating him five times in their 15-month marriage. Gest, whose court papers call him a "world renown" promoter, alleges that he now takes 11 painkillers a day. What would make it all better? Ten million dollars of Liza's money. Spousal abuse is no laughing matter, but even the most PC among us--imagining a vodka-powered Liza whacking Gest like a pinata--has to think, maybe just this once.Minnelli filed for divorce the next day. In a statement, she called his accusations "hurtful and without merit"; she'd hoped ...
  • Meet The Titans Of Taste

    The Philosopher KingWalking into Murray Moss's celebrated downtown Manhattan housewares store, moss, is like walking into a museum. There are pristine white walls and objects--from Delft pottery to designer toilet-paper holders--in locked glass cases. Name cards identify an item's maker and date of origin. Handrails keep visitors at a distance. do not touch signs are everywhere. (OK, most of them are on T shirts worn by the store's employees--a little retail-design humor, ha ha.) On the downstairs level, there's even a giant chair by Frank Gehry made of corrugated cardboard that appeared in the Guggenheim's retrospective on the famed architect--an actual museum piece. But then Moss slides open its case. "Wanna test it out?" he asks. "It's surprisingly comfortable." Try getting away with that at the Guggenheim.When Moss opened his store in SoHo nine years ago, he put a 1958 Bruno Munari steel garbage can in the window just to make a point to gallery-hopping passersby: design is...
  • Our Life As A House

    Living Room: Simply RedEd and Becky Fotheringham's 1926 farmhouse in Seattle's Phinney Ridge isn't big--about 1,750 square feet. And they're not rich. He's a freelance illustrator from Australia. She cooks, gardens and cares for their two kids, Anna, who's 5 years, 9 months old, and Joe, who turns 3 next month. She also lets Ed know when he's talking too much. In other words, they're normal. Yet their home is a design miracle: it's kid-friendly and effortlessly cool. Ed and Becky, please explain."Living with restrictions is good," says Ed, 38. "It forces you to be creative." The living room, with its picture windows overlooking the Olympic Mountains, is the social hub of the house. "The chairs are from Anthropologie and they're leather, so they're bulletproof," says Ed. "You can vomit on them and nothing'll happen." "That's nice, Ed," Becky calls from the kitchen. "Nice visual."Redoing This Old HouseThe Fotheringhams' game plan: buy small, think big. With housing prices soaring and...
  • Movies: A Woman On The Verge Of A Breakthrough

    Back in January, Patricia Clarkson got to be queen for a day. Actually, for about six days. At the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, Clarkson starred in just about every good movie in competition (OK, four), won a special jury prize for her work and spent the week as the toast of Park City, Utah. All the while, there was talk that she'd soon land an Oscar nod for Todd Haynes's 1950s melodrama "Far From Heaven." But Oscar never called, the Sundance festival ended and the 44-year-old actress with the strawberry hair and smoky voice had to turn in her crown and go back to lodging at Howard Johnson to keep her tiny movies on budget. Oh well. "Look, I'm not 25 anymore," Clarkson says cheerfully. "At this point, it was nice to be the queen of something."This month, two of Clarkson's Sundance entries finally arrive at an art-house theater near you. The first, "The Station Agent," is a sweet wisp of a movie about a train-obsessed dwarf, in which she plays a woman coping with the accidental death...
  • Jumpin' Jack Black

    Hey, Jack. Jack!" A woman with a baby stroller is trying to get Jack Black's attention as he waits in line at a midtown Manhattan burger joint. "I've got a blast from the past for you," she says as he wheels around. "OK," he answers. "Hit me." The woman tosses out the name of someone Black apparently knew in high school. "No way," Black says. "Wow. How's she doing?" At first it seems like Black is just being polite and feigning recognition to save the woman (and himself) from an awkward moment. But then: "You know she broke my heart, right?" The woman laughs. She did not know. "Yeah," he says fondly, "she was my first official sexual experience." After the burgers arrive, Black grabs a booth and elaborates. "We were 17. Same high school. She was the girl who deflowered me. Who stole my sweet cherry." So what happened? "She lost interest, dude." Black makes a bear-hugging gesture with his arms. "I just held on too tight."It's OK if you've never heard of Jack Black. He's not a...
  • Hey, God, It's Me, Joan

    CBS's spiritually inclined new show "Joan of Arcadia" ponders the same theological conundrum raised by the noted pop philosopher Joan Osborne in her 1995 hit song "What If God Was One of Us?" Osborne's tune is the theme music for the show and, it would appear, the blueprint for the entire story. In the series, a disaffected teenager (Amber Tamblyn) talks to God, who appears to her as a rotating gallery of people. If you recall, the very next line of Osborne's chorus asks us to consider the possibility that God could be "just a stranger on the bus." The first time Joan (of Arc... sorry, Arcadia... whatever) makes eye contact with God, he is--holy moly!--just a stranger on the bus."Joan of Arcadia" is really two shows stitched awkwardly together. The first--the good one--is about Joan, her run-ins with God (he wants her to apply herself more) and her relationship with her two siblings: 15-year-old science geek Luke (Michael Welch) and paraplegic older brother Kevin (Jason Ritter), a...
  • Newsmakers

    Project GreenhornsIt's a measure of Matt Damon's and Ben Affleck's celebrity that these best-friends-4-ever can make news without doing anything. The hottest play in New York now is an off-off-off Broadway production called "Matt & Ben," a spoof set in 1995, when they were struggling actors living in Boston. They're played by actresses (yep: co-playwrights Brenda Withers and Mindy Kaling) who bear little resemblance to the guys but do bang-up impersonations. The show has already drawn a few big names--Nicole Kidman, Steve Martin--though not a peep from the real Matt and Ben. A spokesman for the play notes that Matt's in Europe and Ben... well, has other stuff on his mind.Onstage, the script for "Good Will Hunting" literally falls from the ceiling, touching off an hourlong existential crisis. Matt thinks it's a blessing; Ben thinks it's a curse. (And how right they are!) Withers, who's very tall, plays Matt, the short one; Kaling, who's very short, plays Ben, the tall one....
  • The Day That Didn't Change Hollywood

    By now, it's no great revelation to say that the 9/11 effect--the term we used in those sensitive months after the attacks to describe all the shifts we anticipated in our lives and our thinking--never really happened, at least not in the world of mainstream film.We believed, briefly, that movies were going to be less frivolous. We believed, briefly, that movies were going to be less violent. And if it didn't happen right away, we reminded ourselves to be patient: making movies takes a long time, and it could be as much as 18 months before we noticed anything had changed.Now here we are, two years later, squarely in the post-9/11 era. If you see a movie now, there's no longer any question that it originated after the Twin Towers came down. And this past summer, it seemed like there were whole movies that stood as direct arguments against all those things we believed back in the fall of 2001. Movies will become less frivolous? "Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle." Movies will become...
  • Confessions Of An Emo Punk

    Chris Carrabba, a.k.a. Dashboard Confessional, the punk-acoustic grassroots phenomenon, is a passing fad. That should draw the hate mail. But don't shoot the messenger. Consider the source: Chris Carrabba. "I'm a flash in the pan," he says. "You heard it here first. I'm already signed up to play some state fairs down the line."But it'll be a while before Carrabba, 27, has to strain to be heard over the tractor pulls. Anticipation for Dashboard's third CD, "A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar," has been building for two years. Last week he finally delivered; next week, "A Mark" will be nipping at the heels of its predecessor, "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most," an indie release that sold 500,000 copies in a fan-by-fan chain reaction. It was only a matter of time before kids weaned on Britney Spears got weaned off; for those who were ready for something grimy and authentic, Carrabba is the real deal. His tattooed torso and heartsick vocals make him a godsend for music fans at...
  • Freakin' Amazing

    Late one night about a year ago, Jamie Lee Curtis was falling asleep when the phone startled her. It was her agent calling. Just days before shooting, he told her, Annette Bening had to drop out of Disney's forthcoming remake of the 1976 body-swapping classic "Freaky Friday." "Oh, and now I suppose they're offering it to me?" Curtis asked, rolling her eyes. Yes, he said. "Come on," she replied, laughing. "Why are you really calling me?"Let's not sugarcoat this: Jamie Lee Curtis hasn't been working much these past few years. Since starring alongside California politico Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1994's "True Lies," her best acting job--aside from cell-phone commercials--has been in "Halloween: H20," in which she lamely revived the character she made famous in John Carpenter's original 1978 slasher flick. Just last August, during an appearance on the "Today" show to plug the latest of her five best-selling children's books, Curtis talked about her film career in the past tense. It was...
  • Queen For A Day

    Last Tuesday's episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" made this gay-straight alliance cry --twice. The first time came minutes into Jersey City urban cowboy John B.'s makeover (mission: help him propose to his girlfriend) when the Fab Five's clothing expert, Carson Kressley, rifled through his closet and pulled out a particularly gruesome button-down shirt. "Where did you buy this?" Kressley asked. John winced. "Um, Kmart." Kressley pressed two fingers to John's lips. "Hey," he said, "don't you use that kind of language around me." We laughed till we cried. The second time came just before the Fab Five left John to fly solo through his proposal dinner. The gay miracle workers and their straight subject raised glasses of champagne, and John--his apartment painted and redecorated, his body refitted in classic Ralph Lauren, his engagement ring stashed romantically in a box of Parisian chocolate--got choked up himself. It was pointless to resist.In just three weeks, Bravo's "Queer...
  • BEAUTIFUL LOSER

    Life is sweet when you're "that guy in that movie." The money is good. The hours are nothing. And you get all the best lines in the script. You can do an interview in dumpy jeans and an old T shirt because, really, who cares? You can inhale a giant turkey sandwich and talk with your mouth full because, really, who doesn't? Best of all, people leave you alone. "Occasionally--very rarely--someone recognizes me, and I'll get so thrown because I'll assume I know them. I'll be racking my brain, trying to figure out how I know this person, and eventually it will dawn on me that I don't know this person," says Paul Giamatti, who's been "that guy in that movie" since 1997, when he played that guy in that Howard Stern movie, "Private Parts." (He was also that guy in "The Negotiator" and that primate in "Planet of the Apes.") "A lot of times, people think I'm Rob Schneider. Which is cool. He's funny. I like him." Rob Schneider? You know you're "that guy" when you get mistaken for some guy who...
  • CAUTION: WIZARD AT WORK

    Between takes at the shrieking shack--a ghoulish, precariously quaking house on the fringes of the wizard village Hogsmeade--actor Daniel Radcliffe fiddles with his magic wand. Today's scene is a doozy: Harry Potter finally confronts the sinister (for now) Sirius Black. Over the screeching din of the shack, Radcliffe repeatedly shouts, "You betrayed my parents! You're the reason they're dead!" During a break in the action, though, he twirls his wand genially like a baton. Wait, sorry, it's not a baton--that'd be so 12 years old. Radcliffe, who turned 14 last week, is bashing the air feverishly. He's doing a drum solo.To prepare for the older, bolder "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Radcliffe has been listening to the Sex Pistols--which broke up 11 years before he was born--as well as edgy new acts like the Strokes and the Dandy Warhols. He's also watching Francois Truffaut ("The 400 Blows") and Vittorio De Sica ("The Bicycle Thief") to get a handle on Harry's "feelings of...
  • Do You Know This Man? Need A Clue?

    Steve Burns knows why you're here, and it's OK. In fact, he agrees with you. This is weird. For six years Burns was sort of famous. He signed autographs and kissed screaming babies. At one point he was rumored dead. (Untrue.) He wasn't just a kids-TV star, he was the kids-TV star: Steve from "Blue's Clues," Nickelodeon's top-rated educational franchise. It was big news when he quit that job two years ago, but he's now back--only he's become... a rock singer? "But I think it makes the story that much more interesting," Burns says. "Yeah, I'm that guy--the one on TV. That's me. But I'm this guy, too." So on Aug. 12, Steve Burns, 29, a man who spent six years talking to an imaginary salt shaker, will release his debut CD, "Songs for Dustmites." And here's the weirdest thing of all: it's really good.For a kiddie-land expat, "Songs for Dustmites" makes perfect sense. It's an album of adventurous alt-pop with wide-eyed lyrics about science and love. To avoid being brushed off as a novelty...
  • The Problem With Fx

    Three years ago, for the first time in his career, Ang Lee directed a film that included the use of visual effects. It wasn't groundbreaking stuff. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," as everyone knows by now, was a kung-fu fantasy in which actors sailed through the air with the aid of wires--a familiar technique in Asian cinema known as "wire fu."Lee's execution of wire fu was solid but not remarkable. The actors lurched a bit when they took off and hung somewhat limply in the air while they flew. The presence of wires, which were deleted digitally in postproduction, was obvious. But here's the thing: no one cared. The flying in "Crouching Tiger" may have struck American viewers as silly at first, but soon they were too engrossed in the movie to fuss.Earlier this summer, Ang Lee released a film that included extensive use of visual effects. Unlike "Crouching Tiger," this was groundbreaking stuff. "The Hulk" featured a muscle-bound 15-foot green monster that was entirely computer...
  • Suddenly, 'Family Guy'

    For ten years, the late-night TV battle has raged between Jay Leno and David Letterman, but at the moment, both of them are getting whipped by a toy-factory worker from Rhode Island named Peter Griffin. (You didn't think we meant Jimmy Kimmel, did you?) Griffin is the star of "The Family Guy," an animated series that lasted just 49 episodes on Fox but has been reborn as a cult hit on Cartoon Network. The show--a bitingly funny send up of family sitcoms featuring a moronic patriarch, a talking dog and a diabolical, British-accented infant boy--is drawing 1 million viewers per episode--topping Leno and Letterman among 18- to 34-year-old men. "I'm not surprised," says Cartoon Network senior vice president Mike Lazzo. "This was one of the few programming no-brainers I've ever had."It wasn't so clear cut for Fox, which kept switching "The Family Guy's" time slot before finally canceling it last year. By then, the show had amassed a small army of loyalists who'd come to adore creator Seth...
  • The Knives Are Out

    Mark Burnett has fallen in love, and the object of his affection is an enormous Italian man in a velour sweat suit. It's opening night at Rocco's, the new Manhattan eatery where the "Survivor" creator is staging his latest reality-TV venture, "The Restaurant," and 12 people, including Burnett, are mashed into a tiny control room just off the main floor. Eight TVs monitor different scenes from the restaurant, but now all eyes are on Sweat Suit Man. "These meatballs are raw," he says with a thick Bronx accent. "Ma, Sunday night, we're coming over for some real meatballs." The control room roars. "Dude, that's wonderful!" Burnett cries. (For what it's worth, NEWSWEEK loved the meatballs.) On screen, a waiter comes up and asks the man how his food is. Everyone leans in. Here it comes--fireworks! Drama! Instead, something better happens. "Your meatballs," he says sheepishly, "are the best."The beauty of NBC's "The Restaurant," which premieres on July 20 at 10 p.m., ET, is that it's a...
  • Movies: A Real (No) Sleeper Hit

    A virus that infects carriers with murderous rage has been unleashed on England. In a matter of weeks, all that's left is a tiny population of sickies and a few fight-to-the-death normal folk. That's when our hero, a bike messenger named Jim (newcomer Cillian Murphy), awakens from a coma to find London a very different place from what he remembers. When "28 Days Later," a new thriller from England, arrives in the United States next week, take our advice and run to the nearest theater--just be forewarned that you might be running from it by the five-minute mark. The movie is that scary."28 Days Later," directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting") from a script by Alex Garland (Boyle's "The Beach"), is a modern-day zombie flick, with an adoring debt to George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" and postapocalyptic novels such as John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids." The chief hurdle was the zombie itself, a lumbering horror-film archetype that has lost its punch over the years. "A...
  • Advertising: For Want Of A Nail, The Car Commerci

    It begins with a metal cog rolling down a plank, which nudges a second cog, then a third, which tumbles off the plank, then knocks loose a giant bolt, which clips the end of a pipe, which rotates and plinks a series of screws... Two minutes later, after a staggering, Rube Goldbergian chain reaction involving 85 car parts and no trick photography, a Honda Accord wagon rolls off a ramp, ending one of the coolest car commercials ever made. Too bad you'll never see it. At least not on TV. Honda's "Cog," created by Wieden + Kennedy, is a hit in Britain and has become a Web sensation in the United States. (Watch it here: www.honda.co.uk/multimedia.) But because the model is sold only in Britain, Honda has no plans to air the ad stateside. Apparently, we're also not smart enough to get it. Co-creator Ben Walker of W+K says a Honda honcho told him that it "doesn't say enough for U.S. viewers." But even us ignorant Yanks know an amazing ad when we see one. "Cog" took 606 takes to nail. We...
  • Anger Management

    What on earth is Ang Lee so worried about? The Oscar-winning director of the martial-arts fantasy "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is leaning against a wall outside his office at the Marin County, Calif., visual-effects factory Industrial Light & Magic, his right hand pressed flat against his cheek, as if he has a toothache. He's listening to a conversation (about--what else?--summer movies) between his producer, Larry Franco, and a NEWSWEEK reporter, but he's not contributing much. He looks exhausted. Like a man who's spent 2i years making a movie--a very big movie--and now has a month to finish it. But Lee will be done on time. So what's eating at him? Is it that this movie, "The Hulk," has a higher budget than his seven previous films combined? Is it that, at a price tag of $150 million, it's one of the most expensive movies that Universal Studios has ever made? Actually, no. "At this point, for Ang, this is a small movie," says James Schamus, who co-wrote "The Hulk" and has...
  • Forget The Real Thing

    Painting a tree with CGI (computer-generated images) is easy. But a full character in a live-action film? Very hard. A history:Tron (1982) The Disney cult classic was the first movie with CG effects. Since then, technology has improved a wee bit.The Abyss (1989) James Cameron was an early CGI pioneer, and his watery snakelike creature in this ocean saga was Hollywood's first all-CG character.Terminator 2 (1991) The liquid-metal T1000 in Cameron's next film was the first human-based CG creation. Still looks sharp after 12 years.Jurassic Park (1993) Steven Spielberg's dino-hit introduced photoreal skin tone and texture. Of course, no one has photos of dinosaurs, so who knows how close he really came?Casper (1995) Director Brad Silberling's kid pic starred the first talking CG character, created by ILM. Sounds big, but is a white ghost really so tough?Dragonheart (1996) Flying dragon in broad daylight. Now that's tough.Harry Potter 2 (2002) Dobby the house elf was cool. But a month...
  • A New Life For The Monsters Of Rock

    On the day in September 2001 that James Hetfield was released from rehab for alcohol abuse, the Metallica singer spoke on the phone with drummer Lars Ulrich, who'd helped him launch the band 20 years before. The conversation did not go well. "The guys--they had no idea," says Hetfield, 39. "They figure you go away, you come back out, you're fixed. Like we'll meet up and jam the next day. Sorry, but it's a lot harder than that." Ulrich wanted to get the band together for a meeting, but Hetfield said no. Then the singer told his best friend not to call anymore; the next communication, he said, would come from him. So Ulrich waited. And waited. Months went by. "I can tell you," Ulrich recalls, "that I certainly started numbing myself--I think that's the best way to put it--to the potential outcome that the band was not going to continue." Hetfield finally called on Dec. 26: Ulrich's 37th birthday.Metallica fans will be delighted that the band's forthcoming CD, "St. Anger"--the first...
  • Cheat Sheet: I Came, I Saw... I'm Totally Lost

    So now that you've watched "the matrix reloaded," all you need is a 12-year-old to explain it to you. Luckily, Tip Sheet's Devin Gordon is just the stunted adolescent you need. If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading now. (Then again, if you haven't seen the movie, this won't make a lick of sense anyway.)DID THE MACHINES DESTROY ZION AT THE END OF THE MOVIE? No. Commander Lock ordered a five-ship counterattack on the machines, but it didn't work. The five ships were destroyed, not Zion.THE ARCHITECT GIVES NEO TWO OPTIONS AND THEY ARE... WHAT? Option 1: He can try to save Trinity and Zion, but if he does, the machines will crash the Matrix and kill every human plugged into it. Option 2: Screw romance, ditch Trinity, save everyone else.HOW DOES NEO STOP THOSE SENTINELS? Yeah, that's a pickle. Two theories: either Neo really is a godlike figure--or Zion is just another level of the Matrix. Whoa.