Thursday night I had a free pass to "Transformers." I'm not a Fan Boy, so obviously it isn't my cup of tea; I just went to ogle Josh Duhamel ("Win a Date With Tad Hamilton" and some TV thing about Las Vegas). Had I realized in advance the muscle behind this project I might have approached it a little differently. Steven Spielberg ("Schindler's List" and "E.T.") is one of the producers while Michael ("Bang! Bang!") Bay ("Pearl Harbor" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre") is the director. Given that pedigree, I am NOT surprised that there was a LOT of "blowie uppie stuff" (to quote someone we all know and love!). Bay is notorious for huge budgets and then blowing up everything on screen. He is a shark swimming among sharks!

I actually found things to like in the movie ... who knew? They rested primarily on the youthful shoulders of an appealing (late teens, early twenties) actor named Shia LeBeouf ("Holes" and "Disturbia"). His character starts as a fumbling, horny, shy, awkward teenage boy, but as events escalate, that nerdiness gradually disappears because of his character's need to cope with the situation. Pretty nicely done, too! Not only is LeBeouf a self-made fellow minding his career and providing for his family, he is building a reputation as a clean living, hardworking professional. His next role will be as Indiana Jones's son. How do you top THAT? He looks to me like the real deal. His father is a recovering alcoholic, so he has a highly charged (and slightly profane) view of the Paris Hiltons and Lindsey Lohans of the world.

"Transformers" itself is a comic book. Steven Spielberg publicly owns up to playing with his own set of Transformer toys, so this is a natural out picturing of that hobby. The people in the movie are clich├ęs and the story is non-existent. There are snippets of humor, but the laughter was coming from the eight-year-old boys in the audience. Hot cars, semi trucks, ambulances, lots of speed and demons. Michael Bay...you know...

If you have a bored eight-year-old boy at your house, I know where you can take him for the afternoon!


Very Annie Mary

Have you seen this one? It's VERY old... In my opinion, the worst part is NO CAPTIONS!!! With Welsh accents!!! This is a little charmingly eccentric piece that I've owned for years, but I'd buy another copy if it would come out with captions! Rachel Griffiths ("Muriel's Wedding" and "Blow Dry," plus I think she was in "Six Feet Under" on television, too) is astonishing and Jonathan Pryce ("Evita" and "Brazil") once again proves what a terrific talent he is, both acting and in particular, singing. Ioan Gruffudd (yum) ("Horatio Hornblower" and "Amazing Grace") plays half of a gay couple that befriends her. They have a small shop in that odd little Welsh village. And I love the song everyone sings in the church during the final credits, "I love those dear hearts and gentle people... that live in my home town..."

You can tell right away that she is clueless when she taps the ash off her cigarette into the stew she's preparing for her selfish father. When he comes in, she tries to hide the forbidden cigarette in a kitchen towel but it ignites the towel. She tries to beat out the flames, then finally, frantically, she throws the blazing towel into the stew and puts the lid on the pot.

(I've copied and pasted the following overview from one of my on-line catalogs.)

Very Annie Mary:
The myth of the eccentric Englishman (or woman) is given a cinematic boost by the awkwardly hysterical VERY ANNIE MARY, a tale of a young Welsh woman's stumbling struggle to proclaim her independence and strike out on her own. With an epic sweep reminiscent of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, VERY ANNIE MARY examines the bucolic and banal life of 33-year-old Annie Mary (Rachel Griffiths), a perpetually adolescent and tragically klutzy young woman, miserably under the thumb of her egomaniacal opera singing father (Jonathan Pryce). Since the death of her beloved and similarly opera-loving mother when she was a girl, Annie Mary clings to the memories of a childhood musical competition where she was awarded a scholarship to study opera singing in Milan (which her domineering father prevented her from accepting). Haunted by the specter of a future that could never be, Annie Mary mopes around, lost in hopeless dreams of living on her own and finding love. When her father is rendered helpless by a stroke, Annie Mary is forced to take her life into her own hands, which is when her inspired and overenthusiastic effort to reclaim her true self (and her singing voice) begins to send shock waves through her secluded Welsh village.