Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.
Q. A long-standing urban legend has come to an end. An article in the London Guardian by Paul Berczeller followed up on the story about the woman from Japan who allegedly went to North Dakota and supposedly froze while looking for the buried roadside treasure left at the end of "Fargo." While it turns out to be a sad story about a young woman's suicide, it ultimately had nothing to do with the movie. (Jason Bergman, Brooklyn, NY)
A. You betcha.
Q. I represent the Greenbrier Golf Resort in White Sulpher Springs, W.Va. In your review of "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," you mentioned that a part of T3 was filmed at a decommissioned underground bunker in White Sulpher Spring. There is one such underground bunker at the Greenbrier but the movie was not filmed there. (Kelly Cahill, The Greenbrier)
A. How did I get that wrong information? After the "T3" screening, a fellow movie critic told me he had attended a movie junket that was held in that very same decommissioned bunker at White Sulphur Springs, a hideout originally designed to shelter key government figures in the event of nuclear war. He said he recognized it in the movie. It was a set, however, and so credit goes to production designer Jeff Mann for fooling a onetime visitor with his verisimilitude.
Q. Is the SARS epidemic going to alter your plans to attend the Toronto film festival this fall? I've been attending the festival in Toronto every year since 1994, but as much as I love it, if SARS is still a major threat, I'm gonna have to pass. (John Kerfoot, Grosse Pointe Park MI)
A. Of course I'll be there. Especially now that the World Health Organization has anounced that "all known chains of transmiossion have been broken." Why didn't they ever point out that even at the height of the epidemic, you had a much better chance of being mugged than catching SARS? Of course, in Toronto, you don't have much of a chance of being mugged, either.
Q. In your Recent Review of "Hollywood Homicide," you Referenced a Capitalization Rule of which I was previously Unaware. I am an English major, so I'd like to think I'm on top of things when it comes to grammar. When did it become a Rule to capitalize the word "Realtor?" How can someone put a trademark on an occupation? Suppose I wanted to impose an arbitrary Rule about capitalization, even within this email, just to make Myself seem more important? Why should a Realtor be allowed more latitude than a Customer Care Representative when it comes to grammar? (Miguel E. Rodriguez, Tampa FL)
A. Sean Hanson, a reader in North Bend, OR, tells me: "The answer is that, according to the Associated Press style book, Realtor is trademarked. So, you were better off just calling him a real estate agent." Indeed, "Realtor" is a "federally registered collective membership mark owned exclusively by the National Association of Realtors," and only members can use it. I have decided I am in sympathy with them, since "Two Thumbs Up" is a trademark registered by Gene Siskel and me, and people are ripping it off all the time. Just the other day some Realtor used it in an ad. Now I am thinking of trademarking Reviewor, and can think of other possibilities, such as Lawyor, Singor, and Proctologor.
Q. Is there a term for the inconsiderate filmgoers who rush to leave as soon as the credits roll, but then STOP AND BLOCK YOUR VIEW so they can stand and gawk at the surprise outtakes? This situation almost caused a fight at a recent showing of "Bruce Almighty." As soon as the credits started, 60-70% of the crowd immediately jumped out of their seats to leave. But the outtakes started playing, and these same people, who were in such a hurry, suddenly stopped in their tracks, gawked up at the screen and completely blocked the view of those of us who had decided to stay. Seated patrons asked the gawkers to please sit back down, only to be met by hostile shouts of, "Oh, be quiet. The movie's over. Why don't YOU stand up?" Were we seated moviegoers within in our rights to ask them to sit down or walk out? (Bill Dal Cerro, Norwood Park, Chicago)
A. Absolutely. By now even the slowest-witted moviegoers must know that deleted scenes and outtakes, known as credit cookies, are a part of any comedy. Barbarians who stand up and block the view should obviously be called Cookie Monsters, and I advise you to throw popcorn at them. Best credit cookies of the year: Director Gurinder Chadha, at the end of "Bend It Like Beckham," leading her cast and crew in singing the chutney soca song "Hot, Hot, Hot."
Q. Please advise parents to take their children to "Bend It like Beckham" despite the PG-13 rating? The ratings system is unforgivably arbitrary. Here is a movie that is a wonderful self-esteem builder for girls and quite inspirational. Some parents bring their younger children to see it (the kids love it of course), but others are hesitant due to the rating. How can the "Austin Powers" films, which I laughed at but are full of adolescent sexual humor, can have the same rating as this gem? (Alexandra Schultz. Sound Beach NY)
A. The ratings system makes no distinction between the sublime the ridiculous. For parents who want to know exactly and in great detail exactly what is in a movie, there is no better authority than screenit.com, which charts an amazing number of categories, from sex to smoking to "bad attitude," and simply provides the facts, without any political or religious spin.
Q. I have noticed lately that you writing an awful lot of reviews for foreign movies that aren't even in English. They are in another language with English subtitles. Now I am as cultured as the next person, but do you honestly think many U.S. theaters are showing movies like "Jian Gui," which is in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai? And even if they were, who do you think would watch these movies? Are there just not enough movies coming out lately that are in English? (Kreg Cremer, Boyertown PA)
A. Somebody must have seen "Jian Gui," released in North America as "The Eye," because Tom Cruise has purchased the remake rights. Same thing happened with the Japanese film "Ringu" (1998), remade as "The Ring," which was a big hit. Fans of the Asian horror genre eagerly seek out movies like this. More to the point: If you don't go to subtitled films, you are not "as cultured as the next person," and will miss some of the best movies every year. Start with Chen Keige's new film "Together." I'll bet you like it.
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