You know that sadness you feel every January when you realize you have to say goodbye to your beautifully decorated Christmas tree? Well, every Olympics enthusiast should be currently nursing a broken heart knowing they have to say goodbye to our beautifully decorated (22 medals!) Michael Phelps, who finished his final Olympic race before retirement Saturday night. Of course, it's misleading to say Phelps merely "finished" the 4x100-meter medley — along with Matt Grevers, Brendan Hansen, and Nathan Adrian, Phelps picked up the gold medal, finishing the race in three minutes and 29.35 seconds, two seconds ahead of Japan's silver medalists. The win marked his 18th gold medal — twice as many as any other Olympian in history. (Take that, Mark Spitz!) That's quite the bling to match with his tracksuit in Boca. Happy retirement! So, though it was difficult to upstage Phelps' legendary career, what were Saturday's other notable, golden moments? Read on!
Missy Hits Her Mark: Olympic breakout and adorable human being Missy Franklin helped the Americans secure the gold during the women's medley relay Saturday. The 17-year-old and teammates Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, and Allison Schmitt locked in a world record to boot, finishing in three minutes and 52.05 seconds, two seconds ahead of the Australian silver medalists. Franklin will be returning to her senior year in high school this fall with five medals. Remember when you thought owning five gelly roll pens granted you bragging rights? Yeah.
Play Misty For Me: In the beach volleyball quarterfinals, that is. Power volleyball couple Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings have advanced after beating the Netherlands' Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer 21-13, 21-12 in less than 30 minutes. Continue their domination, and the duo could soon be misty-eyed on the Olympic podium.
Maria Sharapova Not so Sharp: Of course, that was to the benefit of Serena Williams, who bested the No. 3-seeded Sharapova in straight sets to win the gold in women's tennis. The 6-0, 6-1 match was an impressive victory for the No. 4-seeded Williams, who has been enjoying an epic six-match run, losing just 17 games. Williams did, however, receive a surprise during her medal ceremony — wind blew the American flag off its pole while the tennis star stood on the podium. Too bad she didn't have a Canon PowerShot for that photo-friendly moment.
LeBron Gets LeLucky: LeBron James led the U.S. Basketball team to victory against the Lithuanian team... but just barely. The U.S. team, coached by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, finished with 99 points, besting their Saturday night rivals by just five points. The team fought back from Lithuania's two-point lead in the final six minutes, winning redemption after a disappointing loss to the team eight years ago during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. James scored an impressive 20 points during the course of the game, while Kris Humphries tuned into a rerun of Khloe and Lamar.
Worth its Pryce in Gold: Jamaican runner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sprinted to victory during the women's 100-meter final Saturday, finishing in 10.75 seconds. Good news for her, bad news for America: U.S.'s Carmelita Jeter crossed the finish line just 0.03 seconds behind Fraser-Pryce. Of course, Fraser-Pryce's win was hardly unexpected: The sprinter became the first Jamaican female to win the gold in the same event in Beijing's 2008 Olympics. But, hey, let Team U.S.A. take solace in the childhood mantra: Second is the best!
More golden days ahead for Team U.S.A. — and more days spent indoors in front of our TV screens. Fresh air? What's that? Onto Day 9!
[Image Credit: WENN.com]
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Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) a bleeding heart poet and staunch environmentalist is convinced a series of unexplained coincidences involving a tall African doorman somehow mean something leading him to married metaphysicians Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin)--otherwise known as the Existential Detectives. Instead of looking for other people this pair tirelessly investigates the mysteries of their clients' secret innermost lives--their "Beings " so to speak--to help them answer their questions. Immediately digging in Bernard and Vivian find out that Albert has a deep-seated hatred for Brad Stand (Jude Law) a golden-boy sales executive at the popular retail superstore chain Huckabees who at first sponsors Albert's Open Spaces Coalition to save a nearby marsh from commercial construction but who ends up taking over the coalition. The Existential Detectives believe Brad may be the key to cracking Albert's case but get sidetracked when Brad hires them for himself--leading them to explore Brad's ambitions hang-ups and his superficial relationship with Huckabees' hot blonde spokesmodel Dawn (Naomi Watts). Meanwhile Albert becomes disenfranchised with Bernard and Vivian and pairs up with another of the duo's clients--firefighter tough guy and uncompromising soul searcher Tommy (Mark Wahlberg). Together they join forces with the Jaffes' arch nemesis sexy French philosopher Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert) whose life teachings revolve around "cruelty manipulation and meaninglessness." Now as Being intermixes with Nothingness Albert Tommy Brad Dawn Bernard Vivian and Caterine get all tangled up in one another as their wild romp through life's biggest questions brings them to some startling truths. Whew!
With such a clever script to back them up it isn't hard to see why the Huckabees wannabes turn in some cracking good performances. Schwartzman once again plays a nebbish sullen but lovable geek (similar to his side-splitting turn in Rushmore) bringing out the film's heart and soul especially with his environmental poetry ("You ROCK rock!"). Veterans Hoffman and Tomlin who are dead-on as the happily married Existential Detectives and Huppert as the deadpan French philosopher complement the proceedings beautifully. For the first time in a long time Hoffman doesn't overplay his part instead letting his quiet inner "Being" out taking his character's philosophies to heart ("Everything you ever desired or wanted to be you already have and are"). But who knew more serious actors--Mark Wahlberg Jude Law and Naomi Watts--could be so excruciatingly funny? Wahlberg's freethinking obstinate firefighter would rather ride a bike to a fire than get into a gas-guzzling fire truck while Watts' Dawn decides she doesn't need to be pretty and is fearless with overalls a bonnet and Oreo cookies stuck in her teeth. As the straight man Law actually has the most difficult part playing the handsome cad who thinks he doesn't believe in all that existential bullcrap but ever so slightly gets slammed with the reality of it anyway.
Writer/director David O. Russell is one fascinating guy. With a body of work including the really weird and wild Spanking the Monkey the hilarious slapsticky Flirting With Disaster and the intense Three Kings it's obvious he is capable of handling a wide variety of subjects. With Huckabees Russell gets into some serious deep thinking. He says he became "intrigued with the idea of a detective following someone around not for any criminal or personal intrigue but rather as part of a very serious investigation about existence itself " drawing concepts from several different strains of existentialism--from the non-dual interconnectedness theories of Eastern philosophy (Bernard and Vivian's take) to the Sartrean notions of a more meaningless universe that demands a profound individualism (Caterine's point of view). Huh? Don't worry your pretty little heads about it too much. Russell's bone-crushing sense of humor comes shining through--as does his unique vision as the camera is used in new and different ways (especially creative when Albert is trying to find his "Being")--to piece together a wondrous coherent albeit thought-provoking little gem. Oscar gold awaits.