May 30th, 2003
Rarely do film reviewers praise product placement. Generally it's a point of annoyance at best and one of contention at worst. But Senior Writer Stephanie Zacharek at Salon.com was so taken by the MINI's appearance in the Italian Job she closed out her review with four paragraphs of pure praise. Here are some excerpts of the review:
“But the real star of “The Italian Job” is not a person but a car. The most exquisite action scenes in the original picture involve three Mini Coopers, one red, one white and one blue…
..The Mini Cooper has recently had a marketing push in the United States, so the more cynical moviegoers out there will probably assume that its presence in the new “Italian Job” is just a marketing ploy. But should we care? This is product placement as pure pleasure. What's more, the Mini is essential to the spirit of both the first “Italian Job” and this one. Even souped up, it sure isn't a fast car, relatively speaking — it's more Little Engine That Could than hot rod. But that fact alone meant that director Gary Gray, his cinematographer Wally Pfister, and his stunt crew had to reimagine the notion of what a car chase means today.
And so the chase scenes in “The Italian Job” are the most exciting ones I can remember seeing in a movie in a long time, probably because they're the only ones I can remember — and that's saying something. …The Mini has the agility and determination of a garden bug.
And that's not even taking into account the look of it. Like the best sort of boyfriend, it's funny and sexy, a motorized cartoon of the Barry White line “Ain't what you got babe, it's how you use it.” I have no idea what it's like to drive one. But I do know that the male colleagues seated on either side of me at the screening sighed audibly the first time they saw Stella's glossy lipstick-red Mini zipping along a city street. It was as if the young Brigitte Bardot had dropped in for a guest appearance. The colleague to my right, who'd never seen a Mini, said, “What is that?” And as my husband later noted, the Mini is the car for guys who don't even like cars that much. By the same token, “The Italian Job” is the action movie for people who don't even like action movies that much. Small and steady, it wins the race with brains, not brawn
If you have time go check out the entire Salon.com review. You need to be a Salon.com member or view a short flash based commercial but it's a worthwhile read.
May 29th, 2003
UPDATE 2: I just added a bunch of great photos from Scott in the Pre-Screening Gallery.
UPDATE: Kevin from Patrick just emailed to tell me that the “official” count was 138 MINIs! He thinks that a handful more slipped in after they stopped counting as well making his final estimate at over 140 MINIs yesterday at the Italian Job Pre-Screening – absolutely incredible! This is the biggest MINI event that I've heard of outside of the LA premier! The crazy thing was the MINI dealership 20 minutes away also had a pre-screening. It looks like they had a decent, if not smaller turnout as well (see photos below). It would have been incredible to get both these groups together.
A BIG thanks to Patrick MINI for hosting this event and allowing the Chicago MINI Motoring Club to be a part of it. They really showed us the true spirit of Motoring by inviting everyone – even those who didn't purchase their MINIs there. Also I'd like to thank Kevin for all his hard work to make this happen.
You can find all the photos at motoringfile.com/italian_job. I'd like to thank Rick Kozal (3rd), Michael Salazar (last 2), Simon Lee (1st 2), and JH (3rd/4th to last) for sending me some of their photos. Also Chip has sent me a link to a page of photos he took lastnight. If anyone has any other photos they'd like to share please email me.
If anyone wants to check out how the 2nd Chicago area screening went (at Bill Jacobs) check out these photos taken by Chris.
The film itself turned out to a really fun caper movie that really pays homage to the original. I know I'll never look at a subway staircase the same way again.
Thanks everyone! I look forward to the next Chicago event.
May 29th, 2003
I thought I'd post a small update on how the Chicago MINI Motoring Club is coming along for those in the Chicago area. Here is the latest:
- We've named a board of directors and are progressing through all the necessary paper work as we speak.
- In the coming month we'll be partnering with MCO to create the club website and forums (it'll look very different than the current crop of MCO club sites).
- We'll also soon be be finishing up the membership benefits package and announcing when annual dues can be received.
- And finally we'll be working with a Chicago area dealer who is going to be sponsoring a significant Rally in the middle of July.
Naturally those of you on the email info list will be informed of all CMMC news as it happens. For those interested in learning more about the Chicago MINI Motoring Club but aren't yet on the list please feel free to email me and I'll add you.
May 28th, 2003
AutoExpress has gotten it's hands on the MINI One D – the highly anticipated diesel MINI available everywhere but the US – and has a first take on the car and the new powertrain. Here are some highlights:
Over the years, Mini owners have done some pretty bizarre things to their cars. Film legend Peter Sellers once ordered a Cooper with fake wickerwork on the sides, while Beatle Ringo Starr had his converted into a hatchback so he could carry his beloved drum kit.
So now in an effort to broaden the car's appeal – BMW is about to introduce the first- ever oil-burning MINI. Powered by the same 1.4-litre common-rail engine fitted to the excellent Toyota Yaris D-4D, the MINI One D delivers 75bhp to its front wheels.
However, what the oil-burner lacks in horsepower, it more than makes up for with torque. The turbocharged four-cylinder motor produces a healthy 180Nm of thrust at only 2,000rpm – 40Nm more than its petrol counterpart.
The gearbox – a revised six-speeder borrowed from the Cooper S – is wonderfully precise and allows the driver to exploit the 1.4-litre's potential to the full. It also makes cruising a remarkably relaxed affair, with just over 2,500rpm showing on the tacho at 70mph. …Even from a cold start, the engine is incredibly refined.
BMW claims a combined cycle figure of 58.9mpg, yet the trip computer on our car read only 34mpg after a day's driving. Performance is another area where some may find the One D disappointing. With a claimed 0-62mph time of 13.8 seconds
Thankfully, though, the diesel engine has done nothing to spoil the handling balance, which remains an absolute delight. The steering – now much quieter thanks to a revised hydraulic pump – is as precise as ever, while the sophisticated feel of the suspension marks the MINI out from any supermini rival.
Has anyone else heard about this revised hydraulic pump? I love my MINI but the steering wine can get a bit loud at times. I'd be interested to know more about this change and if it was just to rectify just the noise or if there's something else behind it.
May 28th, 2003
Entertainment Tonight has a cool page up with tons of Italian Job news along side a good dose of MINI Cooper info including several videos (Windows Media format). It looks like the popular media is catching on to the MINI world little by little. It would seem that the Italian Job was either a happy coincidence or a stroke of genius for MINI.
In other IJ related news we're starting to see all sorts of photos of over pre-screenings around the country. Here's some photos of an event in San Fransisco that looked very cool. Here's more from Kansas City (that first panoramic image is great).