There’s genre bend in the road to Oscar

IN CASE YOU HADN’T HEARD, the Oscars will be held on Sunday. And no matter who takes home the trophies, it’s clear that the real winners are genre films.

Ridley Scott and Ang Lee breathed new life into genres that had become jokes: the gladiator movie and the kung-fu epic. A year ago, those types of movies were direct-to-video; suddenly, they’re Oscar contenders. And, in reinventing the genres, directors Scott (after “1492,” “White Squall” and “G.I. Jane”) and Lee (“The Ice Storm,” “Ride With the Devil”) have revitalized their careers.

Which makes us think that some other directors might give themselves a boost by rethinking some tired genres. Here are some helpful suggestions.

  • Woody Allen’s “Booty Call II.” Longtime fans will remember back when Allen’s comedies were actually funny. Since then, he’s settled in with recycled jokes, five-minute cameos from stars, 1930s music and those damn white-on-black credits. Still, Allen basically sticks to the same plot: a schlub who’s chasing some babe, trying to get laid. Allen could broaden his horizons by working in Manhattan neighborhoods that he’s never set foot in. And cineastes would plotz to see so many black characters in a Woody Allen film.

  • James Ivory’s “Cannonball Run.” Enough already with the corsets and the exquisitely lit European interiors and the delicately repressed feelings. Ivory is an American, dammit, let’s get that boy on the open road where he can cut loose and have some fun!

  • Lars von Trier’s “Dogma Beach Party.” After those long-suffering heroines in “Breaking the Waves” and “Dancer in the Dark,” give the guy a break: Gidget! Von Trier could use all those Dogma staples like natural lighting as he gets Britney, Ricky, Christina and ‘N Sync doing the frug and the Watusi on the beach. And, with a bigger budget than usual, maybe von Trier could finally afford a tripod and get rid of that jiggly camera effect. Let the stars provide the jiggle!

  • Robert Altman’s “Mothra vs. the Smog Monster.” The critics still swoon, but aren’t you getting a little tired of those multi-thread ensemble pieces that just seem to ramble on? Altman needs to keep the improvisation to a minimum and concentrate on three things: plot, plot and plot.

  • Milos Forman’s “Breakin’ 3: Electric Boogaloo” — Who better to emphasize the cultural significance of breakdancing than Forman, the man who made Mozart seem like an idiot and Larry Flynt seem to be a charming do-gooder?

  • Billy Bob Thornton’s “Plan Nine From Outer Space”: After the long-on-the-shelf “Daddy and Them” and “All the Pretty Horses,” he needs to show Hollywood that he can put together a film in a few days, on a low budget and with a 75-minute running time.

SIGN O’ THE TIMES: In Los Angeles, every business is star-struck: There are celeb hairstylists, celeb hotels, celeb workout trainers, celeb eateries. So why not a celeb bail bondsman?

A Van Nuys-based bail bonds company sent out a letter to various industryites. The letter assures the company’s discretion and confidentiality.

“It’s two o’clock Sunday morning and the ringing telephone awakes you from a deep sleep. You pick up the receiver and learn that one of your clients has been arrested. What do you do? You call (our 800 phone number) and one of our qualified agents will work quickly to expedite the release of your client.”

The letter continues, “You say ‘It can’t happen to my clients.’ Unfortunately, many entertainers, celebrities and sports figures are finding that their status is no longer a ticket to avoid being arrested. Just look at the headlines about Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr. and George Michael.”

A spokesman for the company declined to give any details of who received the letter, or how many were sent out, saying the bail-bonds industry is very competitive and the information is proprietary.

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