September 5th, 2007

cass groovy

upcoming movies: DINNER WITH SCHMUCKS

Sacha Baron Cohen, the closest thing we have to Peter Sellers, has a new movie project. It's called DINNER WITH SHMUCKS, and it's a remake of LE DINER DE CONS, which you can find subtitled on DVD as THE DINNER GAME. The original is by Francis Veber (who also wrote LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, which was remade with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as THE BIRDCAGE), and it is one of my favorite movies of all time. Everybody has their comfort food movies, flicks you pop in when the world is dark, flicks that give you a little warm glow. For me, movies like MCLINTOCK! and THE DINNER GAME fill that niche.

The premise is gloriously evil: Pierre Brochand, a rich asshole, plays a cruel game with friends. They hold dinner parties, to which each brings a guest. Each of the guests is carefully selected by Brochand and his friends. They have strict criteria. Each man is striving for his guest to be the biggest idiot. They find geeks, dorks, freaks, morons, men with unusual hobbies, and let them talk freely while Brochand and his friends sit back and quietly laugh at them. On this particular week, Brochand thinks he has a winner: a government employee who builds models with matchsticks. And talks about them. Incessantly. Monsieur Francois Pigneon.

As the other idiots and their minders assemble, three things happen: Brochand throws out his back, stranding him in the apartment. Brochand's wife, who's been struggling with depression and having Brochand as a husband, walks out. And Francois Pigneon shows up at Brochand's apartment, eager to help in any way he can.

For Pierre Brochand, the night is all downhill from there.

It is my favorite comedy, and one of the best comedic films I've ever seen, up there with Lubitsch's TO BE OR NOT TO BE. It's gloriously funny, and watching Brochand get his comeuppance is a great joy. I'm guessing Cohen will play Pigneon, and he'll be great in it (though I'd always thought of Danny Devito in the role originated by the late Jacques Villeret, as they strongly resemble each other and have a similar vibe). The trick is finding the perfect straight man to play opposite him. Brochand should not be a funny man. He has to be somebody you're envious of -- until you get to know him. Michael Douglas would be perfect.

brief news stuff

I've posted occasional news items about Zimbabwe since I started this thing. Every time I post about the country, I think it can't get any worse. But it can, and it is.

Big-time political fundraiser Norman Hsu, who was (he claimed unknowingly) a fugitive for fifteen years, failed to appear before a judge. He arranged over a million-five cash in political contributions, apparently reimbursing straw man donors to get around pesky legal maximums, and forked out a couple million dollars cash bail, and now he's on the lam. The really interesting thing about this guy is that as journalists and bloggers dig into the businesses he supposedly operated, they're finding that the businesses don't exist, or didn't operate, or just existed on paper, and several appear to use phony addresses. The three point five million dollar question: where'd Hsu's money come from?

And in the category of EPIC FACEPALM: a genetic study of Colorado trout has revealed that a twenty-year effort to restore populations of the endangered greenback cutthroat trout is not going nearly as well as thought: more than half of the populations the wildlife biologists were so proud of were stocked with the wrong species.