Hey, Egregious Ones,

Reading "Deadeye Dick" by Kurt Vonnegut, and there's a neat little passage where the main character ponders on having a parade in New York City where the marchers would carry a giant banner with the word "EGREGIOUS" on it, which means "outside the herd". Ah yes, a parade for freaks, now that it's no longer trendy to be one as back in the good ol' 90s.

"About Schmidt" was wonderful. I don't think Jack Nicholson has ever been more restrained, or subdued, or (dare I say it) real. It's scathingly funny in the vein of Alexander Payne's first two features, "Citizen Ruth" and "Election", but also melancholy, elegiac and a little sad. The only gripe I have is that Jack almost overshadows the rest of the cast, except for Kathy Bates, who is simply un-overshadowable.

The film's cathartic, intense ending is possibly the best I've seen this year. Unabashedly sentimental, but also emotionally naked, and unexpected. Jack's complicated, nearly ambiguous mixture of conflicting facial expressions in the final shot is enough to secure him another Oscar nomination.

As an added bonus, the Midwest looks as eerily beautiful here as it did in "The Straight Story"

Also saw "Ararat" Atom Egoyan's new film, about the 1915 Turkish Genocide of Armenians. I love Egoyan's style, especially his obsession with video images, cyclical plot structures, and wife Arsinee Khanijhan. All are in abundant supply, not to mention incestual sex, one of his obsessions I'm less thrilled by (mostly because unlike its inclusion in "The Sweet Hereafter", it doesn't really have any value here.) Unfortunately, the film bites off more than it can chew, but there are great moments, particularly those with Christopher Plummer (still channeling his crochety Mike Wallace in "The Insider") as a Customs Security Interrogator. "Ararat" is an interesting, challenging, occasionally involving, intermittently tedious film. The epitome of Good, not Great.