Sunday, February 20, 2005

Moving Sideways

With our pre-Spring Training tour washed out, our day took a different turn. We instead opted for lunch and a movie. Since we were shut out of “Sideways” a few weeks ago, we arrived at the theater nice and early and were the first ones in the theater for the afternoon showing.

I loved the film; my wife was lukewarm. The movie was lyrical in its tone and a brilliant piece of filmmaking from Alexander Payne. He has grown as an artist from “Election” to “About Schmidt” to this work. The performances were phenomenal as it is clear Payne is an actor’s director. The Central California wine country took on a dual role as playground for elite wine snobs as well as home for the lower middle class. How Payne wove these two diverse concepts was an amazing touch.

Nothing about the plot—you can see it for yourself. One note, though: lead actor Paul Giamatti (he deserves an Oscar nomination) is the son of the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, former president of Yale University and former commissioner of Major League Baseball. In one scene, when Giamatti is at his mother’s house, he is looking at old family pictures. I swear one of the photos is of the actor and his late father.

After the movie, we headed home to take in the NBA All Star Saturday Night fest on TNT. It was shown in Hi Def, but my lame cable system does not have TNT in its Hi Def lineup. Anyway, I was entertained and appalled. I thought Amare Stoudemire’s dunk off a head pass from Steve Nash was cool. I thought nearly everything else was sad and nothing more than marketing the Hip Hop nation to middle class America. I have blogged before questioning the attraction White Kids have to rap music; this is more of the same. Clearly, the NBA has proclaimed itself the Hip Hop league, but it strikes me as a bit short-sighted and narrow in its thinking. When the New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Andersen floundered in the slam dunk contest, making him a center for hilarity and derision, I would like to know who did not see racial undertones in that ugly scene?

I did love Charles Barkley’s comment about Vladimir Radmanovic who was a contestant in the 3 point shootout. Barkley said that Radmanovic was a good player, but because he played in Seattle, which is “in the middle of nowhere,” no one knows about him. Middle of nowhere? The Chuckster was too kind.