Sunday, November 12, 2017

I don't know what the future holds...

maybe movie-going as a mass experience will end, sooner rather than later. Maybe the latest releases will simply drop into our smartphones like a gentle rain to beguile us when we are stuck on the Red Line. That having been said, before the hammer falls, if someone wanted to revive the campy humor-driven "Adam West Style" version of Batman, then I say turn the whole thing over to the "Kingsman" creatives, Director Matthew Vaughn & perhaps Channing Tatum as Bruce Wayne. Tatum would be nigh perfect, he has a dry delivery in his performance toolbox, one that is very "Westian" and wears well on the Big Screen. I can already hear him saying "I'll explain all that later Robin!". I have no casting ideas on Robin (suggestions anyone?) but I know I'd pay good money to see Emma Stone play "Batgirl", I see a light of cinema mischief in that actress' eye! James Franco as "Two Face" anyone? Its the part he was born to play!!! or Katherine Heigl as "Poison Ivy"? I could go on...notional casting is a game I like to play.... The main problem with the "Kingsman" franchise is the films go "pear shaped" in the final reel, but a revival of "Batman '66" solves all that, everything ends with a loopy lyrical brawl with multiple jobbers...simple! I wonder who has the remake rights to the original "Batman: The Movie"?? This will never happen, it plays to too small an audience, and we are lucky even to have gotten two final "West and Ward" animated features out of this, the first true Bat Franchise...but its fun to think about all the same.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Alas,

we read this week of the untimely death of David Pendleton, programmer for the Harvard Film Archive, and if repertory film had a Local Lion, it was ever himself. This is a blow to our Sacred Cause My Friends. Pendleton, had serious film chops, better than my own by any measure, he was a great believer in "The Comprehensive Retrospective" and it is only thanks to him and his willingness to get the content, that I, a mere dabbler Orsonologist could ever see Orson Welles thought-lost "Too Much Johnson Footage" or his infamous television pilot "The Gina Lollobrigida Story". It is thanks only to David Pendleton, thru the auspices of his "John Ford Retrospective" that I finally realized that John Wayne really could act and act well. And in these recent years as I grow older but ever in need of film education, the Harvard Film Archive and it's eclectic summer screenings have become a potent co-competitor with the Drive Ins for my attention & money. In life, Pendleton was a friendly low key man, he had impeccable taste, eminently approachable, not two months ago we briefly commiserated about the challenges of finding good quality subtitled Filipino cinema for revival. Here was a man with big budget and proven track record reviving obscure movies in a classy venue openly communing with the co-curator of an obscure repertory franchise that counts twenty tickets sold as "Success". Sometimes Channel Zero could out program Pendleton, on a one-off basis, but we could never beat him, he was too good at his job. His hard work and depth of knowledge was a solid asset to the HFA, I feel for anyone trying to step into Pendleton's shoes, it'll be a real job to honor the tradition. Film isn't dying, its changing...box office receipts are down for mainstream productions, VOD is pretty much the wave of the future, franchises like Channel Zero have iffy prospects over the intermediate term. Thats what makes David Pendleton's Programming so Important, as darkness falls, he proudly lit things up. Thank you David Pendleton, You Will Be Missed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Run Don't Walk to the Somerville Theatre

there is still time to see "Mansfield 66/67" (2017) Ebersole & Hughes unique essay film/documentary on the decline and fall of Hollywood Blonde Bombshell, Jayne Mansfield, its a one week run that ends Thursday Night...so HURRY!! Long Before the Age of Trump, Instant D-List Celebrity, the Kardashians, Paris Hilton or "reality television", there was Jayne Mansfield, resolutely Hollywood B-List and the world's first true all up "Fame Junkie", a veritable "notorievore"movies, TV, husbands, kids galore, a dalliance with the Church of Satan, she loved attention...craved it, derived sustenance from it....this film doesn't delve into Jayne's "tormented psyche" it merely dances merrily thru her most picturesque neuroses and nigh operatic bids for adulation. Her sudden violent death in a car accident circa 1967 is the final irony, the family buried her in Pennsylvania, the very place Jayne had been physically, mentally & spiritually trying to escape since she was a 13 year old girl. She was in so many ways the "Jayne the Baptist", the Prophetess of the 21st Century, The Matron Saint of Publicity Stunts. For the Love of Ghod Please See This Movie!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Channel Zero Returns, This Friday Night!

"G.L.O.W. The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling" (2012) Directed by Brett Whitcomb G.L.O.W.! The world’s first all female TV wrestling franchise, which was a notorious syndicated ratings bonanza back in the late 1980’s!! Abruptly canceled under mysterious circumstances this Amazing documentary tracks down the original “GLOW Girls” and tells their Real Story, the heels, the heroines, heartbreak and even a measure of true heroism....the pain & the fame!! You've seen the new TV Series, Now Find Out the Real Story! “Whatever happened to the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling?” This film is the answer to that question!! The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) Friday October 20th 8pm (sharp!) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma 617 625 5700 Admission: $7.50 (cash only)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pick of the Week:

No contest, The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square is screening George Romero's "The Crazies" (1973) tomorrow night at 9:30pm EDT. Its cheap, the acting is uneven (at least one major role is played by an academic renowned for his biography of Orson Welles), the special effects are threadbare and its still one of the scariest movies of the 1970's. A small town in Pennsylvania (is there any other setting for George Romero?) is the mass victim of a US Army biological agent that induces violent dementia among humans. The town descends into gruesome chaos as the Army enforces martial law and a brutal quarantine, none of which puts the police or the armed forces or the government in a very flattering light...or say nothing of remedying the situation. "The Crazies"is pretty much a free range vehicle for the Late Romero to explore his abiding suspicions about police/the armed forces/"the governments" ability to avoid bungling a real crisis....the movie remains scary even today because we've all seen in our own lives how quickly and easily things can go wrong and stay wrong. These are all unpopular themes even today (when is the last time you saw an American Movie just walk away from the prospect of a heroic police or armed forces type character?)...they may seem harsh but they are worthy of exploration all the same.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Le Roi d' Crazy is Dead...

Its not that the Late Jerry Lewis was Part of the American Zeitgeist, he really WAS The American Zeitgeist...you can just start with his emeritus status as "The Last Man Out of Vaudeville" and then segue into his insanely popular partnership with Dean Martin, the break up, the solo movies, his own comedy production unit at Paramount, his invention of "video assist", "The Nutty Professor" into the 1963 television catastrophe "The Jerry Lewis Show" (two hours live on Saturday Night nuff' said), his own comic book....and then there is the percodan addiction, the "The Day the Clown Cried" and even "Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down?"...if that isn't Secular Omnipotence, What Is? The story goes that Woody Allen BEGGED Jerry Lewis to direct "Take the Money and Run", wisely Lewis counseled Allen to be his own director...follow his own ambition to it's logical conclusion. I mean who else DESERVED to be a "God in France??" Somewhere in there, even amidst his gruesome sexism & xenophobia, his famous short temper (the man literally had a fuse sputtering away on top of his head), his spotty tastelessness, his inability to cut his leading ladies in on the funny....there is an object lesson to all comedians on the sheer power and necessity of ambition, he is a living exhortation to all comedians high and low to integrate, write perform and dominate the creative process. And yet right up to the end, Jerry Lewis repeatedly demonstrated the darkest most instructive moment was maybe the last ten seconds before the explosive bolts that held his psyche together detonated and the furies out of Heaven flew out of his head. A lot of THAT went down on the MDA Labor Day Telethons.... If Jerry broke hearts, if he fell short of his own transcendent ambitions, if he failed quite literally, its all in the shadow of his monumental success, from a lowly MC on the vaudeville circuit to an Apex Predator in Hollywood...top that well...anyone. Boston is still a "Movie Theatre Town". It is inevitable that the HFA or the MFA or some likewise outfit will execute a comprehensive Jerry Lewis Retrospective. So I serve fair warning to all and sundry that the programmers of said notional retrospective would be well served to secure local writer, critic & Lewis Aficionado Betsy Sherman as their curator....she has an insight into Lewis worth cultivating.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Pleasures of CounterProgramming...

Last Month, Channel Zero sold out the micro-cinema of the Somerville Theater with a screening of an uber obscure Filipino super heroine film "Darna: The Return" (1994) fourteenth in a successful franchise stretching back to 1951. Well...we had help....Who Knew Boston had a Filipino Community eager to see some of their native cinema on a local screen?? Turns out one of our flyers got tweeted out on Instagram and WHAMMO instant "virulence". My point is, sometime this fall, the Mighty Harvard Film Archive is doing a "1970's Filipino Cinema Retrospective" curated by one Lav Diaz. I doubt the HFA will trifle with genre films, despite the fact that the Philippines in the 1970's produced a steady stream of ribald comedies, police thrillers, super hero & heroine movies, martial arts flicks and lurid horror films...nope it'll be heavy drama as usual. Unless of course they elect to surprise us...Just Remember not matter what Channel Zero Got There First!! Doesn't matter if we are filling 31 seats or 333 seats, we used our small size and rapid decision making powers to out program an apex predator...and for what? Why boasting rights or else why make the effort? Look, if the HFA screens anything good I'll be there for sure, I'm a fool not to go, and the experience will be all the more pleasurable with the knowledge that Channel Zero beat em' to it!