MONDO EXTRAS

I guess you can't count on me

by Djb March 26, 2001
The 73rd Annual Academy Awards

Okay, the woman is crazy. But we knew that. And she was wearing a swan. But we knew that, too. And I'm sure I'll catch shit from some of you on this, but that song had less melodic variety than the recurring one-note piano theme from Eyes Wide Shut. And, oh yeah, she was wearing a swan. I'd have that song stuck in my head for the rest of my goddamn life. If it had fulfilled its artistic intent of actually, y'know, being a song. Anyway, she's seen it all. It's all that she's seen. I'm too literal for Björk. And, right, swan.

"I was going to wear my swan, but to me they're so last year." Thank God for Steve Martin right now.

John Travolta was in arguably the two worst films that came out last year, Battlefield Earth and Lucky Numbers. It's time to admit that his career resuscitating turn in Pulp Fiction was a one-movie-long fluke and not the resurgence only he thinks it is. He introduces the dead people in a barely concealed turn of wishful thinking on the part of the producers. I'm surprised Anthony Hopkins isn't hastily added to the end of the list. The producers have also smartly turned down the mix on the audience for this montage, so that the eight hundred million people watching around the world can't hear who the audience is applauding more loudly for as they choose their favorites among the really famous famous dead people. I'm sad Jason Robards died, personally. Walter Matthau is a really famous famous dead guy.

Here's the Hollywood power duo for the ages. My nominee for Worst Dressed (even her pearls are trying to kill her) Juliette Binoche and the entire legislative branch of Hollywood, Jack Valenti. I wonder what will win best foreign film. Obviously it's the Czech Republic's Divided We Fall, starring Sleebadalik Grossdinflower and Bleeblong Bloooooo. Not. Ang Lee tries to look surprised.

Ben Affleck. Traffic. Have I explicitly mentioned my love for this movie yet? It's really very good. They show the scene with Michael Douglas finding out about his daughter's friend being on mad smack. Weird scene to pick, but it's nice to have another linear clip. Shut up, Ben Affleck. I'll bet he won't even be asked to do a guest spot on Damon.

"Multi-talented recording artist and film star" J.Lo is introduced as an overly lush orchestral version of "Love Don't Cost a Thing" makes me wonder if this is a direct plug for the upcoming release of "The Academy Awards Orchestra Presents Muzak Goes Mainstream!" or if I should be laughing at it based on some entirely different set of reasons. Either way, it's crackin' me up, man. Her piercing stare and transparent sheer top give the distinct impression of four eyes all staring out at me at once, and she demands attention in introducing "Things Have Changed," performed via satellite by Bob Dylan's giant flared nostrils. He and Tom Hanks need to be strapped down and have their upper lips electrolyzed. Dylan, however, has always been a loony, fractured genius, and he can snarl through whatever he wants, wearing whatever he wants. So a four-minute close-up on his right nostril against a black background is, yes, downright Satanist, but it's not that out of the ordinary. You can't win with a losing hand. ["A member of the peanut gallery glanced at this shot while passing from kitchen to smoking alcove and wondered aloud if Blair Witch 2 had gotten nominated for something. Okay, it was me who wondered that." -- Sars] His three bandmates look similarly crazy. Goldie Hawn thinks this song is from the movie Wonder Hawn, as she sits in her seat dancing and looking around to see who's looking at her dancing and cooing back at the monitor as if Dylan is the lead in Bye Bye Birdie sitting on her lap and crooning "You Gotta Be Sincere." Shut up, Goldie Dyl-Hawn. She's old enough to be his very older sister. Frances McDormand looks appropriately thrilled by the experience. Ditto Ed Harris. Danny DeVito sits in his seat, mindlessly gnawing away at a carrot. I…wait, what?

J.Lo looks at the monitor at song's end and laughs nervously like someone's just played a really elaborate practical joke played on her. She recaps (hands off the recapping, sister) the five performances for best original song, and we get to hear clips of all five nominees again, which is acceptable only in its reminder to the population of this planet Earth that there is a song that exists that is worse than "I Love L.A." And that Susanna Hoff knows all the words. Well, half of them, anyway. Björk. Crazy. Sting. Gay. Moving on. Bob Dylan wins the Oscar, and Björk wins this year's second annual Fiona Apple Bratty Youngster Award when she purses her lips in annoyance. At least she waits until she thinks the camera isn't watching her anymore. Even Bob Dylan's speech is remarkably linear and succinctly delivered. What's going on? Steve Martin delivers a bowl of dip to Danny DeVito, who's moved back into prop comedy and pulls out a piece of celery from his lapel. Or maybe it's John Candy. With the sunglasses, well, it's almost impossible to say.

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I guess you can't count on me

by Djb March 26, 2001
The 73rd Annual Academy Awards More Britney. This dance is really catching on! I really think Anthony Hopkins is going to die soon. Montage of the films of legendary producer Dino DeLaurentiis. Accidentally, Jack Cardiff rises to accept the award in his stead. That, or all old people just look the same to me. Oh, a standing ovation. He is eighty-one. His ninety daughters are, like, two. I can smell him unseating Dole in the new Pepsi endorsement all the way from my apartment. He calls Anthony Hopkins "a great guy," which, in that Italian accent, kills me. And nearly kills Anthony Hopkins, who would also be done in by a strong wind at this point. He's just so…gray? Dino thanks the million women of the Von Trapps. He looks forward to "new talent and fresh ideas," and Joaquin Phoenix doesn't clap because of what that means for him. Another normal-length speech of non-psychotic proportions. Which is almost disappointing. Winona Ryder thanks Javier (well, "Har-vee-air," but whatever) Bardem and Julian Schnabel by their first names for their movie. For those of you who haven't seen it, Before Night Falls was the most overwrought, self-involved piece of pomp released last year. Julian Schnabel is Kevin Costner's unheralded non-union spiritual twin brother. Winona's eyes dart around all crazy, like, as she tells us, "I'm so incredibly excited to be here to introduce our next performer, because I'm a huge fan and I have been for a long time." Ladies and gentlemen, "the phenomenal Björk." When I was in college, I had a Russian exchange student in one of my classes whose grasp on the English language could be described as "tenuous to hilarious." For obvious reasons she spoke rarely in class, never raising her hand and amping her voice up to glass-shattering decibels on the rare occasion she was called upon to speak aloud. The class was modern poetry. We read any number of poems by W.B. Yeats, a poet whose career, as I remember, moved from an earlier, political phase notable for staunch loyalty his homeland of Ireland, into a more mystical, myth-based approach to poetry later on in life. On this particular day in 1997, we were reading a poem entitled "Leda and the Swan," a retelling of the Greek myth of Zeus descending from heaven or Olympus or a cloud or whatever, in the form of a swan. For reasons known only to gods, Zeus as the swan rapes Leda. This is the myth. Now the exchange student's accent, even when not speaking publicly, was a curious mix of Soviet and Nordic and Southern American and Western European that incited a real mean streak in me and led me to tell people reductively that she was born, in fact, in an ambiguous and exotic nation not found on any map known to its inhabitants simply as "Foreignia." My thousand-year-old professor asked the class for a one-sentence plot synopsis of the poem, and apparently believed that the exchange student was up to the challenge, calling on her and asking, "Svetlana [or so I'm remembering], tell me, what is this poem about?" At which point, Svet opened her mouth and upped the amperes to triple their acceptable volume within the confines of academic decorum, more certain than ever she had the answer correct, screaming into the silence after a considerable pause, "SOMEBODY CAME DOWN IN THE FORM OF A SWAN AND RAPED SOMEBODY ELSE." This was in 1997, people, and it's still the single funniest thing that has ever happened with me present. However, after last night, it has been forever relegated to only the second most surreal thing that has ever been perpetrated on the planet in the niche area of human existence known as "really bizarre imagery that directly involves the use of a swan." Ladies and gentlemen, Björk.

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