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Two words can stop a post-Valentine's massacre

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Yesterday being Valentine's Day, I think I can say one thing with assurance: Many of you men screwed it up again big-time.

You're asking yourself that annual Feb. 15 question: How do I make this up to her?

Boys, as your full-service columnist, I'm here to help. Two words: Chick flick. Trick your one-and-only into thinking you're a sensitive guy. Take her to see "Girl with a Pearl Earring."

Just listen to this testimonial from Steve Hansen, program director at KDKA radio, who said this as the credits rolled at the Manor Theatre:

"That wasn't like watching paint dry. That was watching paint dry."

Hansen and I had accompanied our wives to this movie for the same reason all husbands watch chick flicks: the hope that points gained here may be redeemed later. This one was about a 17th-century Dutch painter who falls in love with his maid and -- parents, please keep your children from this -- pierces her ear!

Yes, this event, now as common as a Saturday afternoon at the mall, was the climactic scene. If the symbolism had been any heavier, the screen would have fallen.

"I was probably awake for a good 50 minutes," Hansen said later. "So I know the movie was about a guy who never smiled, and I think he had a wife, and, apparently, he painted."

I must be evolving or something because I liked this movie. The cinematography was as deft as the painter from Delft and, though it could have used a gondola chase, it held me to the end.

For one thing, it had the captivating Scarlett Johansson. She played essentially the same role she did in the best movie I've seen in awhile, "Lost in Translation." A young woman without fame enchants a famous guy for a short time and then they part, enriched by their passionately chaste encounter.

Classic chick-flick stuff.

"Earring" also had Colin Firth as the brooding painter, Jan Vermeer. Men, if you go to this movie, be sure to say you were intrigued by Firth's performance. Use that word -- in-TREEGED -- and give it kind of a Thurston Howell III flourish. Women think this guy is as deep as the Mon.

Hansen asked me after the movie what was up with the lead actor "having one face the entire movie," but he doesn't know the half of it. Firth has made more money brooding than Jason Kendall. He has worn his troubled, introspective face pretty much his whole career.

I've seen Firth brood in "Pride and Prejudice," in "Bridget Jones' Diary" and in "The English Patient." Most of his time on screen, Firth looks so downcast he could pass for a Penguins fan, but he gets away with it because he always plays an aristocrat, artist or spy, and those guys are always perceived as thinking deep thoughts, even if they're just wondering what's for lunch. My wife loves that hound dog look, except when I wear it. I sometimes think that if I listened to Pirates games while wearing jodhpurs, I could look like Firth, but then what if someone came to the door?

Anyway, I hope I've helped you guys out there. I'm also hoping that for the sequel, "Girl Gets A Necklace To Go With Her Earring," Hollywood meets men halfway. Get Vin Diesel to take on Firth in a gondola chase to the death. Last man brooding wins.

Brian O'Neill can be reached at or 412-263-1947.

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