Sunday, June 18, 2017

Passages: Adam West....

Let the record show that Adam West spent about twenty years of his post "Batman" career desperately trying to "Escape the Cape" with absolutely no luck. He eked out a precarious living with personal appearances and the occasional guest starring role on television. The great irony of West's Career is that he was a classically handsome actor whose consistent go-to was to underplay the scene, this served him well when he was playing the Campy Caped Crusader as an island of calm amidst absurdist berserkers. Alas he was fatally typecast as a superhero and an over the top one at that, lost in that stereotype is the Westian dry wit and underplaying that kept the show on track for 2.5 years. I personally think the 1989 Burton-Keaton Batman was weirdly the making of Adam West, the film franchise lurched so far away from the old show's "Gilbert & Sullivan" vibe it gave the actor some territory to defend as the zeitgeist's "Batman Emeritus", West could credibly reinvent himself as the "Bright Knight" the family friendly Caped Crusader whose actions you'd never have to explain away to your kids. Every time the role got recast someone somewhere would track West down to get his opinion of "The New Guy". In the end, Adam West & Burt Ward MADE Batman into a inescapable cultural trope, the endless re-runs familiarized generations of audiences with the depth and extent of the Caped Crusader's priceless Rogue's Gallery, its that very saturation that made it easy for Tim Burton and his successors to bring Batman to the Big Screen. Adam West didn't need to "Escape the Cape" he'd handed it off with dignity and respect...and quietly segued into doing cartoon voice work. Say what you like, but Adam West was on An Odd Counterintuitive "A-List" of a disparate collection of Hollywood Actors whose fame derives literally from the cultural saturation that being in permanent re-run rotation on ye old UHF TV Stations. That is a mad tea party indeed, Co-ruled by William Shatner and Adam West, with its own collection of clowns Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jim Nabors, Lucille Ball, Bob Crane, a vast sub strata of talented character players from Jonathan Harris to Leonard Nimoy & a potent reserve of distaff performers; Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, Elizabeth Montgomery, Tina Louise & Dawn Wells with dozens more. All of these actors had Fame, few of them were able to monetize it or parlay it into successive projects, And Adam West was the deadpan Emperor of Them All. His memoirs are instructive, chiefly but reinforcing the notion that even mediocre actors need to prepare and do their research. Its also a stunning compendium of all the risqué encounters one can rack up when you catch the cultural wave and ride it to glory playing Batman on TV for a few years. He held his ground to the last, and even managed to revive his version of Batman in recent animated feature (the inevitable sequel's voice tracks were themselves only recently completed, reputedly featuring is UHF Co-Emperor William Shatner as "Two Face" typecasting indeed). But time is no friend to the DemiGods of Our Youth and last week leukemia finally fetched Adam West off the way no Giant Carnivorous Clam ever could. If Warner Brothers really wants to honor the man who put "Batman" squarely in the center of the cultural zeitgeist they could start by scouring the vaults for UnEdited Episodes of ye old Television Show, the very expensive DVD release a few years ago while very good looking is still archiving trimmed episodes..."Adam West UnCut!" should be our battle cry!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Wonder Woman" (2017)

Finally! The Amazon busts into feature films as an "all up" tentpole property...seventy plus years after she first debuted in the comics during WW II...but who is counting. Generally speaking, I liked the film, if Gal Gadot keeps her health then she can easily play Wonder Woman for the next decade she has a nice easy comfortable persona and some reasonable action chops which is really all anyone wants in a Wonder Woman Actress. Of course almost all of DC's contemporary Filmography has been so problematic that the bar was set awfully low for Wonder Woman, so it was no shock Gadot vaulted over it with ease. I also wanna give Chris Pine some props for the thankless role of Wonder Woman's nominal SO Steve Trevor, he was neither superfluous nor whiny...he made no mistakes (these day's that the equivalent of a Roman Triumph in Hollywood). With out delving in spoilage I'm not sure how he perpetuates as a character as the inevitable sequels unspool but thats the scriptwriter's issue not mine. No if I have an issue with the movie is that the third act is pretty formulaic and predictable drawing heavily on "Batman v. Superman"....not much new ground was broken action wise for all of Gadot's eye catching aerobatics. If Patty Jenkins does the sequel she'd be well advised to keep a weather eye on that third act thats the very point where you don't want to go on AutoPilot. And I say that with all due respect for a remarkable achievement having finally gotten the DCU film franchise out of the proverbial sand trap. The Film also has the usual handful of plot gaps (a German gunboat goes inexplicably missing, a real life German General dies prematurely, phone lines from the Western Front reach all the way to Fleet Street in London) but thats pretty much the price of doing business in the DCU at this point. But at last DC has their breakthrough movie after dozens of lamentable misfires, I wonder if they can hold on to it...?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

So at the Wonder Woman Premiere....

ya think we will see "Ellie Wood Walker" strolling triumphantly down the Red Carpet? After all Ms Wood-Walker WAS the first actress ever to "play Wonder Woman" even if it was a five minute test reel for a proposed Wonder Woman SITCOM back in 1967....it was never meant to be seen, but if anyone ever finds that elusive thirty five page script, drop me a line will ya!?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

If you get a chance...

Definitely get to the Somerville Theatre where "Colossal" is still lingering, it is quite likely the only Kaiju movie that Anne Hathaway will ever do sans coercion so on those grounds alone its a must-see. Besides I've waited all my life for a Giant Monster Movie grounded so very solidly on the twin horrors of alcoholism and spousal abuse...I mean we had to wait forever for this right???!!! Just see it, its good, once again a new age of Kaiju movies is descending upon us (Universal is dreaming of a Godzilla-Rhodan, Ghirodah - King Kong mashup that'll likely see the light of day ere long no matter how wearisome the line up may be)...before the wave breaks and carries us all off, why not see a good one with a worthwhile plot? Besides if you never will see again Anne Hathaway in a monster movie, you sure as shit will never see Jason Sudeikis playing an abusive stalker....

Sunday, April 02, 2017

"Life" (2017)...

a film experience for all you old fashioned movie fans who long to see an voracious alien super parasite eat Ryan Reynold's internal organs from the inside out. After that its a slipshod mess with unintelligible over filtered audio....but if ya wanna see Ryan Reynolds bleed out then by all means make tracks to the cinema!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Local Boy Makes Good.....then makes cuts.....

Garo Nigoghossian did everything right. He raised the money, produced directed and acted in an intense ultra violent homage to 1970's drive in exploitation flicks, he fought with his DP, hired & fired, held out for excellence, and made it as gruesome as his vision demanded. And that was, the story of "Dangerous People" (2016) Now Amazon Video-On-Demand wants artists like Garo to cut out the gruesomeness and naughty bits and take it down a peg or three from a potentially completely necessary "Hard-R" rating. Mind you they don't demand this of Sony or Columbia or any of the outfits with serious cashola behind them, but they do have an entirely arbitrary and artificial hierarchy for filmmakers and content that can't push back. Alas Garo, a true friend of the movies in every way can't push back, lacking access to big name screen talent and studio backing he has to opt for the traditional allies of exploitation filmmaking intensity and gore...just the things that Amazon VOD doesn't want competing with a menu suffused with hopeless remakes of Japanese horror films and literally thousands of dubious-ass zombie flicks. I think this is wrong, no one is asking Rob Zombie or George Romero to remove the viscera from their respective films, why should Garo? His film is, make no mistake pretty intense and gruesome, but it's supposed to be!!! Just as you his audience are supposed to draw a free and fair opinion about "Dangerous People" unfiltered by Amazon VOD's entirely corporately driven biases. Movie going as an experience is changing, I suspect the days of movie houses may be numbered. Oh they won't vanish any more than live theatre vanished when Chaplin started twirling his cane, but the movie house is no longer going to be the prime money maker for movies in general distributions. features like "Dangerous People" face long odds, with little hope of cracking legit movie house distribution beyond the inconstant festival circuit. Various iterations of VOD are the wave of the future, and those platforms should be administered fairly and without any double standards. Right now Amazon VOD isn't being a good corporate citizen...I favor the democratic approach insofar as the audience should be allowed to decide a film's worth in the classic fashion, no cuts, no biases no chicanery. Anyway Garo has broke new ground here in the exploitation department, I won't say how, that would be sinister spoilage, but it is pretty awesomely gruesome which is exactly how it should be. and for that alone he deserves praise as an artist, not this sort of double dealing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Birthday William Shatner...

86 years young today. You Are Large, You Contain Multitudes (literally yo!) and every day of it you stare down a Terrible Beast Called Talent. You are an Epigram, a Confucian Analect, High Camp, A Joke, A Monster Out of Toronto, a Collector of Ex Wives & a discerning client of the worst divorce lawyers in California. For that reason and many many more you are working the opening of a Sock Drawer somewhere in the World Tonight...hey they met your price whatcha gonna do? To Call Shatner a giant is sheer cliche'...Shit The Giants All Want His Autograph. His Persona is so, Shatneresque we literally forget his hard won acting bona fides (forged from years of guest star work on TV and a long wandering path thru American Theater and B-Movies). I've always maintained that Captain Kirk was an anomaly for him, Shatner's best work all invokes his smooth faintly nasty preening quality, villains were his stock in trade...poor guy got typecast as The Hero on "Star Trek" and those opportunities to play malevolence vanished. What of it, I am rotten glad to hear he is soldiering on, I'd watch him working sock puppets or do the PA announcements at Stop-n-Shop...whatever it is, he'll commit to it, one thousand percent.