Wednesday, December 27, 2006

James Brown is dead...

as is Former President Ford, then again could Jerry execute a perfect leg split at age 70 live on stage?
Could the late President shimmie?
Shuck and jive?
Were his back up singers even comely looking?
We think not.
Ah but James Brown, he had class, the man practically invented funk and threw down major contributions in many other areas of pop music...and did it all with a sort of frantic grace.
Hell James Brown was too graceful, being as he was a physical and musical marvel well into his seventies, his supergenarian act no doubt inspired the grey haired remains of the Rolling Stones and that ghostly aged hobo Bob Dylan to keep tourin' and tourin' and tourin' and tourin'...
If ye' ever wanna see James Brown triumph over adversity rent AIP's "Ski Party" (Starring Dwayne Hickman, Frankie Avalon, Deborah Walley and Yvonne Craig)...the standard pop music interlude has The Godfather of Soul decked out in a hideous Christmas sweater bopping his way thru "I Feel Good".
The man triumphed over that and so much more, rest in peace good sir.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Brief collision between an eighty five year old man and Comedy Central

The All-Highest (y' fell asleep in front on the TV the other night. My mother being a sound sensible woman, stretched out next to him on the coach and likewise snoozed away.
Soon enough, the frantic soundtrack to "South Park" awoke father stirred and grumbled "What is this?"
My mother rejoined "it's South Park its a cartoon".
My father looked at his watch and muttered "Nine fifteen at night and there are cartoons on? Are the kids still up?"

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Revenge of Frank Dell

Wasn't gonna blog on the whole Michael Richards affair.
However upon reflection the whole horrific mess strong resembles Lenny Bruce's old "Palladium Routine".
In it, 3rd rate comic Frank Dell thinks he has never hit the big time because he has never played a "classy room".
Accordingly, he forces his agent to get him a booking at London's prestigious Palladium Theater.
And course, having puffed up his narcissism to Hindenburgian proportions, Dell bombs on the London stage tasteless jokes about motels and all.
Desperate to extract some reaction from his Mount Rushmore-like audience and sodden with flopsweat, Dell howls "***k Ireland" into the microphone precipitating a riot in the theater and his expulsion from the U.K.
Like Frankie Dell, Michael Richards simply lost control of his audience.
Accordingly he became desperate for control, for laughs, for whatever he didn't have at that moment and needed so badly.
Better to set off a riot than to depart the comedy stage beaten and in silence so it was for Bruce's Frankie Dell and so too for Michael Richards.
But what I wanna know is this...was Michael Richards new to stand up comedy or something??
Did he get up on stage on a dare for Open Mike Night.
I mean good Ghod, the weakest wannabe at the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square knows how to deal with hecklers in a swift detached and surgical fashion. It is like the first skill nascent comics learn.
So what happened with Michael Richards then?
The whole sorry assed mess speaks volumes about his character and volumes more about his lack of preparation and professionalism.

Run Don't Walk...

to the Harvard Film Archive (Quincy Street Cambridge) for the "From the Tsar to the Stars" festival of Russian Fantasy and Sci Fi films. The schedule is stupendous, can't decide where to begin, but I will be at tongiht's screening of The Amphibian Man.
Ptushko's "Ruslan and Ludmilla" is also quite tempting.
Check it out, this is the sci fi event of the year IMHO.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Casino Royale (2006)

Is about as close as the franchise has yet come to the ruthless amoral 007 Ian Fleming described in his original James Bond novels.
Trust me, this is not Roger Moore and his submautomobile.
Daniel Craig is not quite as classically handsome as his predecessors but he has a lean hawk-like visage and the best squinty "I-mean-it" look since the salad days of Sean Connery's icy scowl.
Sadly the film had to excise the original cold war context, but much of the book's plotline is maintained including a brutal torture sequence that has to be seen to be believed.
So yeah, Craig will do well in the role, my only question is are they now gonna dial back and start remaking some of the old titles? I can easily see Craig headlining "The Man with the Golden Gun" or even another go at "Moonraker".
I read somewheres, that Casino Royale's plotline (Bankrupting a spymaster at the baccarat tables) was based on a real incident in Ian Fleming's stint as the wartime chief of staff in British Intelligence. Apaprently, they discovered that certain Gestapo agents like to gamble in Monte Carlo with the Third Reich's funds, Fleming proposed sending in a sharper to fleece them at the gaming tables and thus disrupt the Nazi spy apparatus in the south of France.
The plan was never approved, but it makes for a good spy novel and equally good movie.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

When it rains and rains...

you have a much better chance of remaining dry by simply standing out in the open amidst the downpour than you do by seeking shelter in the Alewife T Station's parking garage.
No joke, that steel and concrete edifice leaks like a heavily depth-charged German U-Boat.
I mean thick rivulets of rainwater come cascading down out of random cracks and holes in the is soaked well and thoroughly within minutes of entering the garage.
Makes ya wonder if the damn thing is really safe....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In Passing...

We note with sadness that Channel Zero's de facto Chief of Staff and Artist in Residence, Joseph Zamparelli's mother Margaret "Peggy" Zamparelli died last Thursday after a thirty year fight with Alzheimer's Disease.
She was nursed and cared for at home for all that time by a matched pair of heroes better know to all as her husband Joe Sr. and son, Joe Jr.
Alzheimer's is a catastrophe, it relentlessly reverses the parent-child relationship and piteously obliterates the spousal tie.
That was the world inhabited by the Zamparellis for thirty long years.
Nothing less than love of a pure and acute type could motivate anyone to such sacrifice and devotion given the nature of the challenge and the inevitable outcome.
For it is usually the case that persons in Peggy Zamparelli's nigh comatose condition are remanded to the care of a nursing home and the easy neglect that comes of a fast failing mind and personality.
Not so in the Zamparelli house, they leased a hospital bed, brought in home health aides, kept up bright chatter around Mrs. Zamparelli's slowly failing self and never ever gave up.
Their devotion to duty is an object lesson to the rest of us, that love cannot survive without sacrifice. It is the willingness to bear burdens of the heart, that make us human and humane.
I never really knew Peggy Zamparelli she was already incoherent and in decline by the time I got to know Joe Junior.
However I am well acquainted with, and in awe of, the love and loyalty shown her by her husband and son.
My Late Aunt Agnes (also an Alzheimer's sufferer) once opined that we start with family, add friends and suchlike but in the end, we end up with family again.
So Peggy goes from us, with love and with her family.

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Z

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Monster on Campus" at the Harvard Film Archive Tonight

Details hyar:
Serious b-movie cineastes will recall Arthur Franz as a moon faced character actor who somehow became a leading man in more than a few science fiction movies of the 1950's.
Franz' best moment as an actor was playing the disturbed lead in "The Sniper" (1952).
Here he is directed by Jack Arnold who had all but single handedly ignited a second golden age of horror-science fiction films at Universal in the 1950's.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pick of the Week

F.W. Murnau's silent classic "Faust" a triumph of German expressionist cinema on the order of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" izzat the Regent Theater tomorrow night at 8pm.
Details hyar:

Haunted Happenings in Today's Globe...

The Boston Globe's metro section today has a pretty good article on various alleged ghost sightings down in the Dighton area.
Occasionally the otherwise staid Globe can digh down deep and offer up some harmless fluffy nonsense.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jesus Camp (2006)

This would be Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's documentary portrait of Pastor Becky Fischer the smiling hellfire preacherette who runs a summer camp program (ominously dubbed "Kids on Fire") for aspiring Christian Revolutionaries.
Films like this are always disconcerting, especially when we see impressionable children being drilled into mindless book-worshipper with a pronounced tendency for the entirely pagan veneration of George Bush's mortal person.
There is a great deal of christian rock, rap, television, cartoons and even religious heavy metal music all sorts of noisy distractions designed to wrap children up in an alternate god-centric culture.
This can be scary to watch to the unwary.
I however wonder if these kids who are being trained as religious zealots (in part to meet the fanciful threat of Islam aroused and militant) are really gonna stick with it? For the most part the range in age was from eight to about twelve, I'd love to see a follow up some ten years down the line to see if they are really so righteous, truculent and simple minded come age twenty.
Because lets face it, revolutionary christianity with all it's authoritarianism and hatred for the separation of church and state NEEDS all this manipulative sound and fury to survive.
It is to say the least a narrow minded, bossy, bleak and inhumane faith predicated on the promise of predestined life after death, a pledge that can revoked at any time on the whim of some wowser witch doctor.
So it stands to reason with theology demanding much and returning so little, there is desperate need to keep the kids in a perpetual religious fervor otherwise they might calm down enough to stop and think as to WHY the Pastor Fischer needs so many expensive techno-toys to preach her angry aggressive gospel.
Or else start watching Harry Potter DVDs.
Pastor Fischer may herself come across as a New American Cromwell screaming up a new generation of roundheads, but her speaking in tongues routine is strictly syllable by syllable out of Bob Tilton's book of religious nonsense.
She has a old message, i don't expect it wear well over time.
The other interviewees, the youth pastors and revivalists, looks fidgety and scared sometimes, they talked a good game about huge evangelical voting blocks but didn't seem convinced of their own omnipotence. Truth is, the serious fundamentalist sects have a problem with kids falling away as they grow older just like all the other denominations. Nothing in the fire of their faith seems to guarantee a successful lifelong conversion.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Brief Encounter on the Red Line Yesterday

I'm sitting there for seemingly an hour from South Station to Alewife, reading Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".
Just before we get to Alewife the women in the next seat looks me in the eye and sez "THAT!" (pointing to my weighty paperback, a veritable bestselling doorstop) "Is my FAVORITE book in the whole world!"
And she smiled brightly and guilelessly.
To which I replied "Hmmmmmmphhhh" with a noncommital smile.
This was a polite way of saying Atlas Shrugged is interminable claptrap in extremis, written by a spiteful counter-bolshevik and features a heroine who apparently wants to copulate with a diesel locomotive.

A is always A folks, unless you are talking the Chinese alphabet....

Friday, October 13, 2006

Movies on a Menu in East Arlington has Reopened

under the sole leadership of Eddie Shaw.
I was there last Saturday and bought a few items just to get things rolling again.
Everyone should drop by spend some cashola and say hello to Eddie.
The link on the right will take you to their website with directions and everything...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tamara Dobson aka "Cleopatra Jones"

died last week after a long battle with MS. Not a good actress, but nonetheless loaded with charisma and a steely willingness to do serious action scenes. Along with Adam West and Burt Ward, she holds the rare honor of having kicked Shelley Winters' villainous ass.
Ms. Dobson will be missed, she had style and class, six foot two and rarin' to go is how i'll remember her.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

James Parker has an interesting article in today's Globe

on the rise and sudden expiration of "Dianalatry", the cult of the late Lady Diana Spencer, the one time Princess of Wales. Parker reports that by 2002 and the Queen's Jubilee, the Cult of Diana, which ran white hot in the Fall of 1997 had all but dissipated for a variety of reasons.
Now speaking as myself though, I can recall a few lingering cultish tributes to the Lady Diana from my own trip to London in the summer of 2002. Notably in the National Portrait Gallery there was a HUGE six foot by six foot lush portrait of Diana located directed across a hallway from a considerably smaller portrait of Queen Elizabth II with her notorious corgi dogs.
Felt like a rebuke to the current monarch over there in every way.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The curtain falls on another Drive In season...

The Tri Town is running for two more weekends before seasonal closure as is the Mendon Twin Drive In.
We went to see a triple feature at the Tri Town this weekend, The Wicker Man (bad), The Covenant (trite) and The Protector (incoherent but fun). The two horror films were inconsequential but Tony Jaa the Thai boxer has a future in kung fu movies.
Check out the links at the right to see whats playing this weekend.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Why stop at remaking "All the King's Men"?

Why not re-write the book as well, get rid of all that power and ethics stuff and make it into a straight action-adventure piece a'la "Tom Clancy's Op Center" or "The Poseidon Adventure"?
Okay, I'm being sarcastic.
By way of full disclosure, I haven't seen the new film yet, I will of course at some point (out of reverence and concern for Robert Penn Warren's original novel) but Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet & Anthony Hopkins will have to go a ways to erase memories of the 1949 original.
I mean the cast is headlined by a Yankee and THREE Brits to cover the life and times of a southern demagogue, as my old co-worker the grouch would exclaim "What rubbish!"

I can see doing Huey Long as a fictional character, the late Kingfish lent himself to dramatic caricature but since "All the Kings Men" was done right the first time, why hash it out all over again?
John Dos Passos' "Number One" whuch is also a scherzo on the Life of Long has yet to be adapted, for that fact, Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here" deals in a Huey Long's seizure of power in Washington DC....both are waiting in the wings for some enterprising producer to option.

Give some other scribblers a chance for Hollywood immortaility whydoncha?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mickey Hargitay is dead

Hungary's greatest bodybuilder-actor has slipped off for that big soundstage in the sky.
Serious psychotronic film fans will recall his starring role in "The Loves of Hercules" with his then wife the ever ripe Jayne Mansfield...a perfectly mediocre peplum vehicle (enlivened by a ludicrous looking mechanical prop dragon). He also starred as a superfit sadist in a near perfect horror-sex-exploitation film called "The Bloody Pit of Horror".
So long Mickey, you had class.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hollywoodland (2006)

Sterling comeback vehicle for Ben Affleck as George Reeves, television's first Superman and a famous alleged Hollywood suicide in 1959.
Adrien Brody as the sleazy PI hired by Reeves' mother to investigate basically turns in a gape-mouthed Sean Penn impersonation, it's nothing new and does no harm to his career either.
The film played to a nigh empty house last night in Lexington, but that is no great impediment to Oscar buzz, the only thematic issue in Hollywoodland is the lack of decisive resolution to the whole suicide versus murder debate over Reeves' untimely death.
I myself tend to land lightly on the murder-manslaughter side on things. The whole controversy will never be resolved though, all the principle witnesses and suspects are long dead and buried.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sad news...

"Movies on a Menu", East Arlington's "DVD Coffeehouse" has closed it's doors for good. Eddie Shaw and Brad Chapman were kidn enough to host several Channel Zero video programs during their 18 months or so of operation and we are very grateful for their interest and patronage.
Channel Zero wishes them well in all their future endeavors.

Meanwhile, once again, CZ is homeless kids...homeless! We got no place to show our obscure TV shows and offbeat feature films.
Frankly we are beginning to wonder if the sun has set on repertory film & video screening in the Hub?
It has been a wild ten year run we've had with a lot of great films, but the next five years heralds the rise of a "down load culture" that means pretty much nigh everything will be a few clicks of the mouse away.
How can teensy Channel Zero compete with that?
Should we even try?
This doesn't mean Channel Zero is shutting down, hell no!
But it does mean we might wanna start concentrating on events like the Bad Poets Society.
Maybe we need to concentrate less on reviving other people's stuff and more on creating out own original material?
Still, I'd hate to miss out on many movie's we'd like to bring to the Hub.
But decent patient and worthwhile venues in the Cambridge-Somerville area have become as scarce as hen's teeth.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Final bad Poets Society Note

we had a certain cute couple at the show Sunday night who took time out to tell me that their first date was at our 2001 Bad Poets Society at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (convened a mere four days after 9-11.
Well, you guessed it, they are engaged now and plan a 2007 wedding.
You just get everything with the Bad Poets Society, laughter, a good time, a little education about poesy AND true love!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Many thanks to the kind persons

who made the Bad Poets Society a stark reality on Sunday.
Stephannie Workman
Amanda Rotondo
Diane Statkus
Zoe Swenson
Gene Doucette (poetry captain)
Colin Buckley
Jimmy Tingle (our friendly neighborhood bartender and celebrity reader)
Joseph Zamparelli Jr our long suffering director.
As hard as it is to mine the poetry and get it down to a tight 39-42 item it is really you guys that bring this strange and mannered event to vibrant life.
Jon Haber and I are much in your collective debt.
Sunday night's program might not have been a big financial success, but it was a blockbuster in creative esthetic terms.
Quite frankly my ibggest worry going into "BPS '06" was that it was an irony-heavy event very much a creature of it's time which was the mid-1990's.
Like a good episode of "Friends" it was funny (or so we hoped) but would it still work in these fractious times?
The answer to that is a resounding like that doesn't permeate a room on the echo of shows done back in 1998.
So we are definitely going to do it again, hopefully in April (National Poetry Month, doncha' know...wait'll they get a load of US!)
Meanwhile we do have some marketing and publicity issues to resolve with respect to BPS, all suggestions are welcome.
Take care, the best has yet to come.

Monday, September 11, 2006

BPS Reader Gene Doucette

(Also our Poetry Captain for 2006) blogs on the subject of last night's stellar event.
I'll post my own thoughts on BPS '06 tonight (hopefully).
Otheriwse it was a good show all around many thanks to Joe Z and all our readers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Last Bad Poetry Entry...

Gene Doucette, a veteran BPS reader from the infamous CCAE "Carriage House Reading" on September 14th 2001, has been doing some blogging on our behalf in the lead up to this evening's Bad Poets Society.
Check out the link on the right.
Gene has consented to be our "Poetry Captain" for the 2006 bad Poets Society, an entirely honorary sinecure that we created back in the day in a fit of sheer hubris.
The rank resembles that of being President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, no real power attends on the position, but if the President, the Vice President and the Speaker of the House all turn up dead or inelligible, the Senate's Presiding Officer moves into the White House.
Anyway we calculate that the chances of that happening are one in five thousand in DC or in Somerville.
There is still time to get your tickets on line for the Bad Poets Society, use the link on the right to Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway or else ring up the box office at 617-591-1616.
Otherwise lets have a good time tonight, after all this was five years in the making.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Local sources of bad poetry,

Alexandra Ellwood, an MIT graduate and a smart one by all accounts, has her own bad poetry page.

Meanwhile we are down to the last forty eight hours before the show, there are still leaflets to distribute and other tasks to be executed. Anyone who wants to reserve a ticket now can go here:

Or else call....
Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway Theater
255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
Toll-Free Tickets: (866)811-4111
Box Office: (617)591-1616

Remember this is not an open-mike even, the venue is handicapped accessible and the joint even serves booze during intermission!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An indescribable feeling...

up on the marquee of Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway Theater in Davis Square, nestled amidst the bright blinking lights is "The Bad Poets Society" Sunday 9-10".
Meanwhile a feeling of nostalgia steals over me, the Bad Poets Society has come a long way since its origins at the now defunct Liberty Cafe in Central Square back in April of 1996.
In those days we were deeply enamored with the poetry of one Captain Jack Crawford, a puritanical frontiersman and contemporary of Wild Bill Hickock, George Armstrong Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody.
We will leave it up to you to see if Captain Jack's poesy still rates as "bad poetry".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Good on line resource for the so-called poetry of Julia Moore

the self proclaimed "sweet singer of Michigan" can be found here:
Purists will recall Moore as the closest American approximation to a bad poet on the order of William McGonagall.
Like the Scottish "Illyricist Maximus" Moore had a thing for disasters and a massacres as well as a pronounced interest in prohibition politics.
Her "song" "Leave off the agony in style" is a sort of whining rebuke to the American woman of 1918 and remains a special favorite of ours.

Meanwhile reserve your tickets good and early for the Bad Poets Society, exploit the link and do it on line...or else call 617-591-1616.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I got a big welcome on Saturday at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop

(6 Plympton Street Cambridge Mass, just round' the corner from the Harvard Book Store on Mass Ave) they seemed duly intrigued by the idea of a Bad Poetry Reading.
Left off some flyers and talked the event up in grand style.
Anyway they do stock Kathryn and Ross Petras' seminal volume Very Bad Poetry which serves as an excellent introduction to the whole realm of substandard poesy.
The store also has website which is well worth checking out for all your good poetry needs as well.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bad Poetry and Bad Poets

Our experience has been that a classically bad poem marries a trivial or dubious topic to an effective if superficially solemn technique. Generally speaking though, the most common example of bad poetry tend to revolve around a lofty subject hobbled by inept execution. James McIntyre (Canada's bizarre "cheese poet") would exemplify the former notion, while "all up" bad poets like William McGonagall and Julia Moore would be examples of the latter category.
Truly bad poets, the Edgar Guests, the William McGonagalls, the Amanda McKittrick Ros's have a curious consistency throughout their writing careers their first works are as reliably laughable as their last.
A classically bad poet in our experience, never grows or changes, their poesy remains a battered limping thing all the way.
So when it comes time to categorize this type of material it's important to note the difference between a bad poem that comes out of poor subject matter chosen by an otherwise able lyricist and material generated by a lifelong hack.
Both produce "bad" material by our light but descend to those depths by different means.

Friday, September 01, 2006

OT Star Trek Note...

this is interesting....

Can't see where they go with this, if it is done cheaply & badly it'll alienate the fan-base...if it is done wellit raises the question as to where do they stop?

Seamus Cooney!

Not a house hold name, but he does have a website that archives some excellent representative examples of bad poetry.

Serious aficionadoes will find, among others, Theophile Marzials' classic "A Tragedy" which for sheer Middle School goofiness has yet to be equaled.
Marzials was a strange one, even by the standards of the bad poetry genre. We discovered him in 1997 (I think) and "A Tragedy" was considered sufficiently stand-out to be Charles Laquidara's opening poem at the second annual Bad Poets Society that year.
The rest of Marzials' output though, is rather more weird than bad...lots of densely populated run on lyrics...sound effects and sundry pre-James Joyce blather.
We were sorely disappointed to discover "A Tragedy" was really something of an aberration in his otherwise steady and obscure output.
Marzials who wrote incessantly had nothing else that compared to the mirthful clitter-clatter of "A Tragedy".
The moral of course is, not all bad poetry is produced by Bad Poets.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

McGonagall Reconsidered:

Author Gord Bambrick argues that William McGonagall (prithily known as the worst poet in the English language) might've been spoofing us all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wanna buy early tickets to the Bad Poets Society?

Just try this link and look for our event on September 10th, 2006 (7pm).
Meanwhile we've got all the poetry picked out and sorted into "appropriate" categories...39 poems in total. We'll be blogging a bit more on the general topic of bad poetry over the next ten days as we lead up to The Bad Poets Society.
This is also Channel Zero's tenth anniversary...anyone out there recall our tiny beginnings as a film-video franchise downstairs at the Liberty Cafe in Central Square.
Look how far we've come...maybe what four or five miles?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Special Announcement: The Bad Poets Society is Returning!!!

YES! Because you demanded it! Back in Boston after a five year hiatus!

Channel Zero and Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theater Present

The Bad Poets Society!

Mankind’s Worst Poetry from The Age of Shakespeare to the Modern Age!

With Special Guest Reader: Jimmy Tingle!

Poe, Shakespeare, Longfellow. Great Poets are eternal. Alas, none of them will be an appearance anywhere near the Bad Poet’s Society, a loving tribute to the world’s worst verse from the inept poesy of Scotland’s William McGonagall to the lyric dementia of Nick Kenny a poet in love with the US Navy.

Jimmy Tingle, Somerville’s One Man Renaissance will kick off the festivities with his own special reading!

Don’t Miss this Legendary Festival of Inferior Rhymes!

Sunday, September 10th, 7pm
Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theater
255 Elm Street
Davis Square
Somerville Ma. 02144
Admission: $10 cheap!!!

Off to the Drive In tonight I think...

"Mys Super Ex-Girlfriend" and "John Tucker Must Die" are on a double bill at the Tri-Town making this, my pick of the week.
The Tri-Town Drive In's vitals can be found by using the handy link on the right.
Sadly I never did get to see "Superman Returns" at the Tri-Town (I dreamt of parking dead center at the eight post dead center in the first row)...but this particular double feature makes up for that nicely.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Scriptwriting stories such as this

just make me cringe

Krypton doesn't explode?
Jor El commits suicide in order to visit Kal El in limbo?
I mean...the mind boggles at the vulgar thoughlessness of each and every successive version of the proposed Superman revival.
Thank Ghod for Bryan Singer thats all I can say...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heard another good one...

President Ford once paid a visit to Eastport Maine home of the Passamaquoddy Indians. He allegedly asked Tribal Chief Joe if he had any advice for the President of the United States.
Joe allegedly replied: "Watch your immigration policy. We didn't do so well with ours."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I heard a good joke the other day...

An old Indian chief sat in his hut on the reservation, smoking a ceremonial pipe and eyeing two U.S. government officials sent to interview him.
"Chief Two Eagles" asked one official, "You have observed the white man for 90 years. You've seen his wars and his technological advances. You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done."
The chief nodded in agreement.
The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?"
The chief stared at the government officials for over a minute and then calmly replied, "When white man found the land, Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, women did all the work, medicine man free, Indian man spent all day hunting and fishing, all night having sex."
Then the chief leaned back and smiled, "Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I just blew $16 on books...

Damn, that was tomorrow's lunch money, but they were worth it; "The Reformation" and "The Renaissance" volumes of Will & Ariel Durant's history of western civilization.
Their research holds up a good fifty years later and the writing is pithy and accessible.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mickey Spillane is Dead....

the heaven's shake.

Ahhhh...but Mickey was a giant in his day, he invented the violence for violence sake's "men's action" genre and made millions from it.
He was also popular literature's most ludicrous anti-communist zealot (at least until the advent of Allen Drury) reaching his zenith in "One Lonely Night" in which detective-visigoth Mike Hammer roars up and down Manhattan island gunning down reds with little or no concern for the so-called Bill of Rights.

Mickey was a former comic book writer and it really really showed in his preposterously arch tough-guy dialogue. In "The By-Pass Control", secret agent protagonist "Tiger Mann" explains to the reader the intricate differences between a "dame" and a "broad".
Howlers like this abound in almost every single book Spillane ever wrote.
However as I said, he made millions at the writing game, bought himself a mansion in the Carolinas, did beer ads and even played his own creation "Mike Hammer" in the cult film "The Girl Hunters"(1963).
Still and all that, Mickey's greatest contribution to popular literature might have been by proxy; the legend goes that Ian Fleming read "I the Jury" on a flight to Jamaica and instantly decided he could write better thrillers than that!
Thus was born James Bond 007, an incomparably better written slaughterer of reds and sundry villains.

Even if the books were laughable, I think Mickey is somehow having the last laugh on us all.

If Aristotle defines happiness as the full use of one's powers along the lines of excellence, then surely, money, mansion and all, Mickey was a happy man.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Governor was on the TV last night...

looking plainly sweaty and terrified in the wake of the partial collapse of one of the connector tunnels and the death of Milena Del Valle.
But then, he ought to be scared.
He uses those tunnels all the time to zoom off to Iowa and New Hampshire where he does naught but slag and disrespect the Commonwealth.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Second Best Action Movie This Summer:

the sinecure firmly belongs to Pierre Morel's "B13" a martial arts showcase for "parkour" practioner David Belle. The plot such as it is, is ridiculous, Parisian Bureaucrats in the near future plot to level overcrowded slums with a neutron bomb. Ah but all this is a hook upon which to hang Belle's superlative acrobats and fighting finesse. Alas,"Parkour" is hard to describe it makes free use of the natural space in the hand to hand fighting me it comes off as "Jackie Chan played straight" and man oh man does it look GREAT on the big screen. Trust the French to completely upend the martial arts movie genre in one fell swoop.
Honestly I haven't gotten as big a kick out of a martial arts movie since I saw "Armour of God Part II" at the Museum of Fine Arts all those years ago...

Looking forward to more from Belle and his associates, "parkour" has endless potential to reignite a currently moribund genre.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Job Search Note...

It is particularly depressing to see a job for which I interviewed some two months ago now once again being advertised in the Boston Sunday Globe "Help Wanted" section and on career's page.
Yup the only thing worse than that, is to see TWO jobs I've interviewed for in the past three months being simultaneously advertised in the Help Wanted section of the Sunday Globe.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Esplanade Fourth of July Blogged...

Why in God's Holy Name would CBS send a feelgood shitkicker like "Dr. Phil" to MC our annual Boston Pops Concert and fireworks display???
I couldn't care less what this bumptious sumbitch thinks of our pyrotechnics!
Oh he has a high Q-rating, well who cares he is a played out hack liken unto the "big" musical guest Steve Tyler and the mortal remains of Aerosmith.
That having been said, the display itself gets incrementally more spectacular every year despite the network's insistence on starting LATE in order to fill up three hours of traditionally low rated TV time.
Well, what the hell, the Boston Pops never lets us down even if the whole thing has been unmercifully commercialized by the big TV network contract.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns (2006) spoilers:

"Superman Returns" is less a movie and more a sort of cinema sacrament what with all the religious imagery director Bryan Singer crams into the scenario. The Man of Steel in classic fallen angel style plummets from the sky not once but twice and adopts a crucifixion pose at one critical moment.
Well what of it?
This is a film over fifteen years in the making with dozens of appalling scripts and demented casting ideas on its rapsheet (Nicholas Cage as Superman anyone?)...These worshipful vignettes are a sort of benign pay off to the serious Superman fans who have suffered much anxiety on the road to the Multiplex this weekend.
So let me say this, it is a good film, at times a great film, Brandon Routh is a superlative Superman who can but get better with time, Kate Bosworth is a fine Lois Lane and Kevin Spacey's Luthor is ruthless and evil sans recourse to camp.
The film's real strength though is an internally consistent script, the dirty secret of the 1978 movie is that the screenplay was a horrific mess held together by Chris Reeve, Margot Kidder and director Donner's common desire to stave off the descent into pure Adam Westian farce.
This time some thought has gone into the scenario, the film takes up five years after the events of "Superman II", Kal El has left Earth for mysterious reasons of his own and come back to discover Lois Lane is now a single mom and world has forgotten him.
Public approval being Superman's real source of energy, Big Blue goes to work stopping crimes, saving people and reminding all and sundry of his overall ubiquity & usefulness.
As Superman recovers his street cred, Lex Luthor has quietly heisted some Kryptonian crystals out of Superman's Fortress of Solitude and is conjuring with creating his own pseudo-continents.
Yup you have that right, for some reasons even after twenty eight years, the writers can't come up with a better master plan for the mad scientist than yet another sci fi real estate swindle.
oh film is perfect.

Clark Kent meanwhile is heartbroken to see that Lois is engaged and utterly disdainful of her prior fling with the Last Son of Krypton.
Or is she?
Because lets face it, Lois can no more drop Big Blue than peanut butter can ditch wonder bread...Its fated that the world's most dysfunctional couple will hook up once again just prior to all hell breakin' loose.
The flying sequences are amazing in this film, Bryan Singer really got value for that $204M price tag.
The action set pieces move the plot forward at a good clip and support the emotional sub-plot nicely. Singer has called this one "a sort of chick flick" to the extent that Superman is trying to recover his humanity and put his Kryptonian heritage in context...That's the high concept in a nutshell.
Much is being made of Brandon Routh's superficial resemblance to the late Chris Reeve. They look a bit a like, but while Reeve was an actor with a nigh beatific smile (and a face that could cloud over in an instant in wonderfully dark ways, check out Superman III to see this), Routh has these tragic eyes and a good "I-mean-it" squint to back things up.
The film's most intriguing issue lies in Jason, Lois Lane's five year old son who adds little to the plot other than to illustrate the notion that the reporter has "moved on" in Superman's absence.
Well, other than the fact that his is Kal El's son from Lois and Superman's brief fling in "Superman II" a point that is a sort of open secret with the aud til the very end.
Given the fact the kid has little to do in the film other than get kidnapped by Luthor one wonders why he is included in the scenario at all?
I suspect Jason exists to prompt a marriage proposal from Clark in the inevitable sequel...Otherwise Superman is a very absent dad and that might be a bit much for today's audience.
After all, Lois & Clark are married in the comics and a wedding does make a good sub-plot for a sequel.

And believe me, there will be a sequel.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Today Marks the 130th Anniversary of the Battle of the Little Big Horn

Custer's storied defeat at the hands of the Lakota Souix out in the Dakotas.
We do love our epics of defeat here in the West, from Thermopylae to Waterloo down thru the Seventh Cavalry's sabres glittering in the sun on the bluffs above the Little Big Horn.
Custer has had strong popularity in multimedia as well...from Thomas Ince's 1912 film "The Death of Custer" down to "Little Big Man".
The weirdest film incarnation of the boy general is still under the tutelage of dependable Hollywood hack Sidney Salkow who directed not one but two "pro Indian" westerns about the Little Big Horn. "Sitting Bull" (1956) with J. Carroll Naish in redface as the mighty medicine man and "The Great Souix Massacre" (1965) featured red haired Darren "Kolchak the Night Stalker" McGavin as the only honest man in Custer's command. Both were about as historically accurate as a Ned Buntline dime novel and both suffered from an excess of naivete' about the position of Native Americans in the modern USA.
But what the hell, they are an attempt to break with past proactice no matter how silly or bumptious they may be.

Error in today's Sunday Globe Arts Pages...

therein it is asserted that Shakespeare & Co NEVER staged "Hamlet" in its long residence in Lenox Ma. That is a clear mis-statement, I myself saw Shakespeare & Co put on "Hamlet" in the Stables Theater back when they were at the Wharton Estate. It was an a stripped down version for the High School circuit, but trust me, S & C did Hamlet fer sherr.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Seer Zamparelli

Had lunch with Joe Zamparelli (Channel Zero's long suffering artist in residence) on Friday. He airily predicted that the Belmont Stakes would descend so deep into maudlin sentimentality that a live remote would depict the injured thoroughbred Barbaro in his stall at the Equine Hospital "watching" the race on TV.
Sure enough in the interminable lead up to yesterday's race we were treated to a live remote of a portable TV set up in Barbaro's stall so that the mighty horse could "watch the race".

Now if only Joe could get back to me with those damned powerball numbers.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D-List" returns to Bravo this week...

How much d'ye suppose she charges to withold certain celebrity names from her stand up act?
Okay that was harsh speculation and I have no proof of the practice...but when you wallow in raw gossip hush money usually follows as night follows day.

Friday, June 02, 2006

X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Am I the only person in the world who thinks Sir Ian McKellen looks like a horse's patoot in that cockamammie helmet he wears as "Magneto"?

With the reliability of an unloved season we have laid at our feet yet another X-sequel which delves into a paranoid US Government's attempts to forcibly "cure" the mutant population, the resurrection of Famke Janssen's Jean Grey character and the usual show down between Magneto's evil mutants and Patrick Stewart's posse of good guys aka "The X-Men".
Got all that?
The film is otherwise a bit of a shuck and jive, James Marsden's performance as the tormented Cyclops amounts to a ten minute cameo, Janssen has about two lines of dialogue in the whole film and as usual Patrick Stewart's "Professor X" vanishes out of the plotline at the forty five minute mark.
Apparently the scriptwriters for X-3 had the same problem as the creative team for the previous films, they inevitably write Stewart out of the action because his character is a omnipotent telepath whose powers ought to be able to thwart any opponents attempts at subterfuge.
In practice this makes Professor X seem to be the most powerful and yet useless superhero in modern cinema history.
This being the case most of the film is carried by the histrionics of Sir Ian McKellen (who chews the scenery like a starving man) along with Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry who are starting to look really really bored with all this x-mishaugas.
And why shouldn't they?
The script simply recycles most of the last two film's pay off scenes loaded up with even more leaden dialogue....I mean no wonder Famke Janssen looks so confused and dishearted.
Much as I jab at the X-Men (they aren't my favorite superheroes overhyped and overexposed as far as I'm concerned) it is at the core an uncommonly well-cast franchise...all the actors are talented enough for the particular creative challenge of a big comic book based film.
So it annoys me to no end when the producers, writers & director end up making such a dreary unremarkable film.
But this being a big summer for super heroes the film will no doubt make millions but its a sad creative comedown and shrill bore overall.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Isn't Superman an Illegal Alien?

I mean think about it.
He has no passport, no green card plus his foster parents clearly lied repeatedly and possibly under oath to secure his adoption as a baby.
Am I alone in thinking under the rules being proposed (nay bellowed) by Representative Tancredo and his ilk in congress Kal El is deserving of nothing but deportation back to Krypton's star system?

Now maybe if he admits to any crimes committed on US soil, pays back taxes, is willing to leave the country and re-enter at the back of the line (Behind such other heroic wetbacks as Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman) THEN we can let him back in.
Anyway he has been stealing work for native born heroes for years, I think the House of Representatives should investigate WHY Warner Brothers and DC Comics are CELEBRATING this illegal immigrant as a paragon of virtue.

Poor Barbaro!!!

Broke his leg out of the gate at the Preakness now his life hangs in the balance. That was an awful thing to see last weekend. Currently there seems to be some post operative optimism out there but not much. Barbaro's career as a racer is over hopefully they can save his life for the stud farm.
This situation pains me as I've always regarded horse racing as reasonable family entertainment despite the gambling and chintzy atmosphere. Kids can grasp who wins and who loses easily and the excitement is fairly wholesome.
Well...except when one of the horses comes up injured like that...then the whole thing takes on a sad morbid cast.
I once saw a horse euthanized at Suffolk Downs, its a humane procedure but utterly sobering in every way.

So here is to Barbaro!

I hope & prey he can survive this thing.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dr. Who (Sci Fi Friday nights 9 pm) just keeps getting better and better

Christopher Eccleston is at the top of his game and Billie Piper in particular seems destined for membership in a very exclusive club of supporting actors who keep stealing the big show.
In the ultra-chic TV Sci Fi Division this would include such luminaries as Jonathan Harris,Jan Merlin (Tom Corbett Space Cadet, look it up kids), Leonard Nimoy, Julie Newmar and Allyson Hannigan.
A merry collection of players indeed.

Preakness Today...

Can't suss out the field as yet, only nine ponies this time as opposed to the twenty horse cavalry charge we saw at the Kentucky Derby.
Predictably, the sports punditariat is hyping Barbaro as the next Secretariat. They do this ALL the time and it always ends the same way, either in tears in Maryland or in defeat at the Belmont Stakes.
Today's horses are faster than the ponies of 1979, faster yes but they lack the stamina to capture the triple crown.
So I'm thinking maybe Barbaro was a fluke aided and abetted by his long layover from his previous race. He has had but two weeks down time since the derby so I'm wondering in my ignorant amateurish way if he can pull off anothe coup?
Brother Derek has a great starting position and all the bona fides, but he ran so damn poorly in Louisville.
No, I might MIGHT go with SweetNorthernSaint....good starting position reasonable odds he might make two plus two equal victory.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The curtain falls...

The first season "Here Come the Brides", a late 1960's bit of western piffle starring David Soul and then teenybopper pop star Bobby Sherman was released on DVD yesterday.
The show itself only lasted two years and is chiefly noted for it's boisterous feel-good themesong and a guest appearance by the late Sifu Bruce Lee.

The great days of film and tv revivalism are drawing to a close my friends. If obscurities like "Here Come the Brides" can land in the "new arrivals" rack at Tower Records then how soon before Ros Serling's "The Loner" or Richard Mulligan in "The Hero" show up?

The dump it all on DVD movement strongly inhibits Channel Zero's ability to revive and screen such rarities and obscurities. I mean, why drop by Movies on a Menu or the Coolidge Corner Screening Room to watch Bruce Lee's sole appearance on "Here Come the Brides" when you can buy the damn series for thirty bucks?
The very definition of obscure and rare is being relentlessly changed by this phenomenon.

This doesn't mean that Channel Zero is going out of business, but what we do, will have to change because the market is changing and the screening zeitgeist is changing.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Floyd Patterson is Dead...

The heaven's shake.

For better or worse, the late champion was a sort of flight-test for the modern heavyweight fighter. He was fast and light like Muhammed Ali but he also built his rep on punching well above his weight.
Neurotic and given to melancholy he had to be the first boxer whose mental state was a major consideration in all pre-fight commentary. The New Yorker's AJ Libeling devoted reams of copy describing Patterson's eccentric training methods (The champ napped, he napped alot!) and personal worries.
For all his mental agony, Floyd's real problem was he had a classic glass jaw. That prototypical slacker Ingmar Johansson found it in 1959 and practically pounded on Patterson like a ten penny nail.
And yet, neuroses and all, Patterson came back a year later to beat on Johansson like he was an old tin bucket.
Patterson had class...when he wasn't worrying himself into a state of the screaming bedspins.
Alas his 1960 comeback is now completely forgotten in the relentless press of his two humiliating losses to Sonny Liston. A lot of people burdened the champ with expectations that he'd stop Sonny's brutal drive for the championship belt, and alas Floyd just couldn't deliver.
He tried a third time to come back but ah... Muhammed Ali was in the other corner, twelve rounds later it was all over for Floyd.
Still and all that, there was nothing low about him, he kept pushing and striving deperate to live up to his potential, a small man in a business that favors big beefcake he hung in there to the last.
He died of cancer and was suffering from Alzheimers as well. New york State found him a sinecure on the Athletic Commission and in more lucid days he could talk up the sweet science with some enthusiasm.
Ali owed a lot to Patterson's mixture of a middleweight's speed and a heavyweight's stopping power...he'd never admit it, but he does.
And the next time we roll our eyes over Mike Tyson's emotional issues, well, jsut remember Floyd brought a lot of his problems into the ring as well.

G' bye Floyd, say hi to Joe Louis and other departed titans for us willya?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

If you are in Downtown Crossing on a weekday

and at liberty (as I am these days) then definitely swing by the Brattle Book Shop on West Street. Their daily outdoor booksale (in the adjoining empty lot) is a thing of wonder with top prices on hardcovers reaching an affordable $5. Most tradepaperbacks can be had for $1 to $3 dollars maxiumum. If you were a penurious local undergraduate, then this might be a way to secure some assigned readings at prices below the campus bookstore.
I've been buying disparate volumes of Will and Ariel Durant's History of Civilization here as I have gaps in the collection.
Trust me, you'll buy something in this lot, there is just too much temptation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Job Search Anecdote

I was all dressed up in the financial district yesterday morning for a job fair up at 28 State Street. I came out of the State Street Orange Line stop and there at the top of the stairs was Sixty State Street in all it's red rock glory standing there just as insolently as it was when I was a mail clerk in a law firm on the nineteenth floor some twenty five years ago.
A wave of nostalgia for my mildly mis-spent youth washed over me and I exclaimed "Good God I'm back here again!"
Well this dapper legal-looking city gent in front of me spun around with an expression of the utmost solicitude he said "Are you lost? Do you need directions?"
I assured him that I was only having a little moment of deja vu he smiled, waved and walked across the street.
Now that I think of it, you just don't always get that kind of immediate engagement and courtesy here in chilly New England, let alone Boston's financial district.
Hope that fella had a good day.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Plaintive Cry...

The Boston Phoenix has its "Best of Boston" out this week. Once again they've bestowed laurels on East Cambridge's own "Video Oasis" as the best video store in Metro Boston.
This is the second time they've singled out Dennis Arruda's store for plaudits, and in truth the praise is well deserved. Dennis has a great store with a great collection of horror, sci fi, adult, and martial arts films.
Let the record show that Jon Haber and I discovered this store back when we were writing "Its All True" and gave him our won "Best in Boston" award three years running back when Bob Dole was a headliner.
They are only catching up to where we were back in 1996....

On a Second Viewing of "The Son of Frankenstein"

In some ways, this is the last great film of the original Universal Studios based horror cycle of the 1930's. It was certainly the last horror film with a lavish A-level budget and it shows in the lighting, decor, SPFX and vast sets.
The story is a familiar one, Victor Frankenstein's son returns and revives his father's dormant monster in a bid to prove his father's genius.
In fact young Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) seems locked in a sort of Freudian death spiral with the unquiet shade of his father, a matter symbolized by the monster and all his lumbering symbolism.
This is a great looking film, Castle Frankenstein is a sumptuous German expressionist feast to the eye including a sulphur pit and what appears to be a walk in fireplace!
Alas the story is all but undone by an over-ripe hammy performance from Rathbone ably assisted by Donnie Dunagan the screechy child actor playing the scientist's toddler offspring.
Ah but the supporting players are a veritable gathering of the Gods!
Boris Karloff in his last performance as the monster mimes perfectly the brute's existential angst, Bela Lugosi gives the performance of his career as the wily hunchbacked peasant Ygor and Lionel Atwill plays it icy straight as the one armed police inspector.
If only the sequels were this good...but alas they declined in quality. Karloff passed the role of the monster on to everyone from Lon Chaney Jr to Glen Strange. Apparently Boris correctly deduced that from here on in, the monster would end up the uninteresting stooge of various other characters.
Lugosi at least seems to be having the time of his life playing the evil peasant and former grave-robber it is a performance that belies the notion that Bela was only good for playing bloodsucking aristocrats.
Currently "The Son of Frankenstein" is available as part of a DVD "Frankenstein Collection" set from Universal. If you have the scratch it is a worthwhile acquisition, there are plenty of extras plus the "Ghost of Frankenstein" (featuring another star turn from Bela Lugosi as Ygor) and the "House of Frankenstein". One can Watch the whole series come apart despite valiant efforts from reoccuring players Lone Chaney Jr., Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Failure to Launch" (2006)

Hey if my old man wants to hire a hooker to get me to move out of the house, he is welcome and even encouraged to do so.
Okay so maybe the movie isn't all that explicit, Sarah Jessica Parker's character DOES primly explains to Matthew McConaughey's exasperated parents that she "never" sleeps with her clients as she beguiles them to move out - For a PRICE!
Hell, any experienced streetwalker will tell you the secret of the business is selling the sizzle not the steak.
What kills me is, McConaughey and Parker do have chemistry together in a complete freakshow that otherwise deftly mixes two taboo subjects, guys who live with their mom's past 20 years of age and prostitutes...
I just have this mental image that the script had to ahve been written for say Jennifer Anniston or Sandra Bullock...they both reached page ten of the script and howled into their cel-phone simultaneously "SHERM, THEY WANT ME TO PLAY A WHORE????!!!"
And so thus that is how Sarah Jessica Parker at the tender age of forty five
got her big break as a romantic comedy ingenue.

If you are up in Amherst New Hampshire

then definitely check out Mori Books 141 Route 101A Amherst NH (603 882-2665 or This is an old fashioned used bookstore with volumes piled up on the floor and bookcases that stretch to the ceiling...tons of everything is in evidence. The children's book collection is especially delicious with a pronounced emphasis on old Stratemeyer Syndicate series like "Dave Dashaway" or "Don Sturdy". They've also got a nice selection of the old "Big little Books" (those seem hard to find, though I'm no collector) and an excellent biography-history section with a nice stack of the old Ballantine Books "Our Violent Century" series.
I myself grabbed off a copy of Leo p. Ribuffo's "The Old Christian Right" which devotes an entire chapter to the life and career of Massachusetts' own Native Son, William Dudley Pelley, screenwriter, fascist and spiritualist extraordinaire!
So believe me, this is a good used books, Richard Mori, the owner has his head on straight.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Rise and Rise of Captain Schoolgirl...

Cheap and crazy sometimes trumps lavish and maudlin...and then there is the iconic lunacy of “Captain Schoolgirl”?
Where to begin?
The independent comic book or the DVD?
The comic created by one “Fernandito” revolves around a goth girl who is a freshman at a local catholic high school. She does not fit in as is often the case and to confront her own alienation she doodles up an alter-ego the sexy Captain Schoolgirl who prances around in parochial uniform righting wrongs or some damn thing.
The Captain’s comic book depiction is a mite unfocused, she is both upholder of the status quo (a punisher of tardiness) and a great subverter of the catholic high school zeitgeist all at the same time.
There is something to be said for this, parochial schools are the last frontier in the American Teenage Firmament, they are seldom depicted realistically nor parodied with any kind of wit or insight.
The DVD on the other hand is a sort of straightforward satire drawing on such puerile fare as Filmation’s old “Secrets of Isis” Saturday morning show. The comic’s framing device and some of its satiric edge is accordingly dispensed with. The main conceit is that is this a normal episode of a mythical TV show called “Captain Schoolgirl” with clips setting up conflicts from previous shows and a nominal cliffhanger ending.
The tone of the whole enterprise though, is bracingly cheap and feckless, with strong performances from the title lead (alas her name is off the credits) and her sidekick “Dunceboy” (Sean Pridgeon) who reminds me of Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite. The story such as it is revolves around a bullying new kid and Captain Schoolgirl’s attempts to ward off the advances of the lecherous Reverend Mooney (Shane Scott both bearded and smooth shaven) and defeat the local Queen Bee Cheerleader (Jules Hartley). Imagine an ABC after school special as executed by William Burroughs and you’ll have the whole show figured out very nicely.
Where the DVD fails though, is in some details, ergo Captain Schoolgirl is the only pupil who wears a uniform, her male classmates for the most part are garbed in trashy street wear. For the record, when I was at a catholic school in North Cambridge it was suit coats and ties every day.
Ahhh...but for a labor of love shot over a few days “Captain Schoolgirl” has class and a sort of charm.
One hopes the production team can find time to produce more episodes before their nominal lead actress takes off for Hollywood, she is that good in my opinion.

Captain Schoolgirl's blog, DVDs & Comics can be found Here and or here.
Well worth the trip IMHO.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

So Katie Couric is going to become the Prime Anchorperson on the CBS Evening News?

Ahhhhh....CBS knows that Katie Couric ISN'T really fifteen years old right?
She just acts and is made up to look that way.
Hope someone clued them in...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The Tri Town Drive In (3 Youngs Road, Lunenberg MA) opens up this weekend with Ice Age 2 (at 7pm) and Big Momma's House 2 (at 8:30pm)
Oh praise the LORD!
Winter is over, now I can watch the latest effluvia from Tinseltown outdoors and in comfort!
It is the patriotic duty of ALL citizens to patronize Drive In Theaters whenever possible to help local businessmen make money off of otherwise trashy and trivial Hollywood blockbusters!
If we are gonna throw our money away on junk like Mark Wahlberg in "Planet of the Apes" let us make sure out money circulates and enriches locally.

Thought for the Day:

Stephanie Miller (from Air America's Stephanie Miller Show) sez that Tom Cruise is putting up plcards all around the house reminding Katie Holmes not to screech, scream or flail about during childbirth.
It is apparently, an article of faith among scientologists that the agonized screams of mother's in labor are potent enough to traumatize newborns requiring scientology type therapy later on in life.
So of course, it is also a tenet of scientology that birthing mothers MUST NOT receive any painkillers or tranquilizers during labor (a process that can and does painfully drag on for days in some cases).
My question is, IF screaming and flailing about is a big scientology no-no, then why not simply tightly ball-gag Katie when she goes into labor and then handcuff her to the head board?
That will keep her quiet and still as the agonies of childbirth pulse through her body.
Bound to work...think about it Tom, you frickin' high school drop out, closet case PSYCHO!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Picks of the Week

The Brattle has the intriguing "The President's Last Bang" (2005) a 2005 South Korean film recounting Park Chung Hee's 1979 assassination.
Over at the Harvard Film Archive they've got "One P.M." Jean Luc Godard's rare meditation on the infamy of Jane Fonda.
And tomorrow, the HFA has a Peter Watkins Double Feature "The War Game" and "Privilege" starting at 7pm.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Anyone else trying to at 2pm or so today?

It was a screeching paralyzed symphony of frozen screens and slow load up times. Immensely frustrating for those of us who use this site as a daily job search resource.
Just opening up one potential job listing was a five minute exercise in futility requiring the inevitable re-boot and wait.
But by god every blinking intrusive advert for Burger King and shyster internet universities worked PERFECTLY!
THAT is a corrupt value system at work my friends!
We are not suffering from the alleged "dumbing down of America", no, the system treats us like dummies and prioritizes on the basis of that arrogant assumption.
There is a difference and it is a crucial one.

Friday, March 24, 2006

V for Vendetta

is of course based on Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel depicting a lone semi superhuman intellectual's war against a near future Totalitarian Great Britain. Written as a sort of anarchistic fantasia and a brutal assault on Margaret Thatcher's Tory Government, V for Vendetta was a thing of it's time, built on anger, cold war certitudes and lovingly garnished with a healthy dose of classic British Post Apocalyptic pessemism.
Why the Wachowski Brothers elected to adapt it for film is a mystery.
The lead wears a Guy Fawkes mask through out the film reducing Hugo Weavings'
contribution to superior voice over work. Natalie Portman on the other hand, does a superlative job as "Evey" "V's" much abused and unwilling sidekick. And then there eis John Hurt as Britain's nominal dictator goes full circle, he was once Winston Smith, now he plays Big Brother. Big deal, the film is an earnest talky flop tarted up with a few too many of the Wachowski Brother's trademark slo-mo carnage.
The problem with V for Vendetta doesn't lie with it's Thatcher era politics or it's clumsy update to the age of terrorism, the source material itself, unabashedly political and heedless of consequences cannot be adapted for the screen. Alot of Moore's comic book writing is like that, the man writes for the picture pages not or the fluid spill of the cinema with it's editing and sundry special vocabulary.
Moore has as was the case with "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" denounced this film, now finally I get his point. He has already made this film, he just made it out of paper with drawn pictures instead of celluloid.
What is the point in making it again?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The New Doctor Who (Sci Fi Channel Fridays 9pm)

Christopher Eccleston has inherited a weighty mantle, the BBC's ubiquitous eccentric Timelord...and lordy the good ole time he is having with the sinecure.
The Beeb has revived their stalwart sci fi series and somehow managed to do the franchise a great deal of justice - let me just assert that right off the bat.
Of course, good casting may have something to do with it, Eccleston is both man of action and a humorous Timelord in the grand tradition of Patrick Troughton and Tom Baker. He can also do the solemnity act quite well and even betrays a little of Peter Davidson's harried fussiness at times.
But all in all from what I saw last night he makes the part his own.
Billie Piper as Rose the Doctor's inevitable decorous time traveling companion is easy enough on the eye, can make with the quips and gets into a fair amount of the action. She is a far cry from the old series hapless Jo Grant's and helpless Victoria's.
If there is any big observation from last night's double episode premiere is that the late Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" books cast a long shadow on this show. A one point, the Doctor and Rose show up at a sort of resort dedicated to observing the heat death of the planet Earth some five billions years into the future.
Sound familiar? It should it is the "Restaurant at the End of the Universe" by any other name.
This ironic as author Douglas Adams started out as a story editor on "Doctor Who" and seems to have written "The Hitch Hiker's Guide" as a loose parody of said program.
Well anyway, "Doctor Who" indulged some gentle payback last night over here in America, it was fun to watch.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ah Saint Patrick's Day

a day to honor the heroic sacrifices of my esteemed and honorable ancestors. A day to watch Governor Romney cavort somewhere in America in a green plastic hat.

Ah the Irish, we just missed greatness...Truly we could've been a race of superhumans, a living bridge from out an arboreal myth into a better future. A civilization of scholars and poets who leapt to glory without intervening the squalor and brutality of the Industrial Revolution.
And just look at the sheer piffle we've settled for instead....a bunch of god-damned "Kiss Me I'm Irish" lapel buttons.

Monday, March 13, 2006

On a second viewing of "Bloody Mama" (1970)

Roger Corman's ultra-violent gangster pic details the rise and fall of Kate "Ma" Barker and her brutal brood may well prove the famed schlockmeister's creative high point.
He had a stellar cast (including a young Robert DeNiro playing the first of many thugs and Bruce Dern with his reliable psycho act) headed by the Supreme Method Autocrat, Ms. Shelley Winters.
She screams she rolls her eyes, chews the scenery, guns down all and sundry and yet never once over acts in any way. The mayhem and madness all comes across as measured even logical.
My great revelation the second time around was the intensity of Don Stroud's performance as Herman's Kate's oldest and nuttiest son. Late in the film the ugliness and squalor of their debauched mother-son relationship is cast in a new light when it is hinted that maybe Herman is the product of an incestuous rape courtesy Kate's own father!
You can see why Corman trailed off into importing art films and producing sexploitation schlock in the 1970's...I mean how could he ever top "Bloody Mama"?

Now the bad news, I saw this last week at the Brattle Theatre, with about ten people in the audience!
Well, why not?
"Bloody Mama" has had two releases on VHS, a Laser Disc and is now out on DVD. All told thats four national releases since 1990 for home screening purposes...the film has been burned down sad to say. It doesn't have the natural repertory constituency for the big screen that say "Lawrence of Arabia" or "Casblanca" might have.
This is a bad thing and has direct implications for the type of repertory screenings Channel Zero will indulge in times to come.
But more on that as it unfolds.

Friday, March 10, 2006

On a second viewing of "Cleopatra Jones"

The Brattle was kind enough to revive this blaxploitation classique last night, I only wish it held up better under the weight of the years.
Oh the plot is beguiling enough, sassy sista Cleopatra Jones a part time G-woman runs the local pushers right out of the neighborhood with as much bluster and mayhem as humanly possible.
Alas, star Tamara Dobson is decorous and beautiful but a slack actor and to be charitable a tidy sum of studio cash is expended to minimize her lack of martial arts expertise.
Shelley Winters on the other hand as the film's villain "Mommy" apparently decided that this was a chance to do another "Batman" camp-out complete with obscenities, racial epithets and lesbian innuendo.
Which just goes to show you that strict Stanislavsky method actors can chew the scenery with the best of them.
Meanwhile, Poor dependable Bernie Casey took one look at the scripts cartoonish excesses and elects to play it all straight. He cracks not one smile nor courts cheap acclaim...given the fact that he must chart a dangerous course between the Scylla of Dobson's beauty and the Charybdis of Winters' histrionics his restraint must be applauded.
Somewhere out in the wilds of tinseltown a great black sista shoot em' up is still waiting to be made.
Meanwhile, the rest of us, wait.

Job Search Update:

had a phone interview yesterday which was a new experience and then on the heels of that, another impromptu phone interview today. Sadly today's discussion was with an outfit in which I had high hopes...but no face to face contact was requested so I don't think anything will come of that.
Fortunately, I've been out-of-work before and under very stressful circumstances as well so I'm used to setbacks and doubt.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Headlines I never thought I'd read in the National Enquirer:

"Don Knotts: The Final Days".

Ah well, five Emmy awards and the Incredible Mister Limpet have to earn a man some props I guess.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Unemployment Movies:

Nothing like joblessness to get me to plunge into the depths of my nigh bottomless closet o' VHS/DVDs.

Here are some of the titles I've screened since being laid off:

Anna and the King of Siam (1946) I wanna like this, Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison are a likable pair, but its a racial impersonation gig and thus while interesting to watch is also unsettling to the modern sensibility. Harrison as the King has a great "deathbed scene, Jose Ferrer himself couldn't have milked it more ruthlessly.

"That Gang of Mine" (1940...and thanks Rob) Leo Gorcey wants to be a jockey and the rest of the Bowery Boys are as usual bored and willing to enable him no matter what the cost. This is a typical Bowery boys programmer prior to their detour into comedy and as such is maudlin, shameless fun marred only by the deplorable lack of any of Huntz Hall's antics.

"Brenda Starr" (1976) Jill St. John stars as the comic strip reporter with a cast of TV ne'er do wells. Clearly this was supposed to be pilot to an unproduced BS series, St. John doesn't really seem all that enthused about the project (something to do with voodoo in the jungle) but Victor Buono chews the scenery like a hungry piranha fish.

"The Devil is a Sissy" (1936) A Veddy English toff Freddie Bartholemew moves to Brooklyn and tries to get in good with the local kid gang headed by Mickey Rooney and Jackie Cooper. This is like a golden age kid actor summit with fine if over-wrought acting from all and know you are deep in the land of hyperemotionalism when the most restrained performance is from that deathless Hamasaurus Rex, Mickey Rooney.

"The Unholy Three" (1930) Lon Chaney Senior stars as a crooked side show ventriloquist who teams up with a midget and a strongman to unleash a wave of fiendish terror on an unsuspecting backlot city. Alas they pick as their headquarters what amounts to Mrs O'Grady's evil Pet Store which is naught but a chance for Chaney to indulge a really first class drag act. Its too bad Chaney died right after this film was finished, he could've easily made the transition to talkies he had a talent for charactyer voices in addition to his wizardly with grotesque make up.

"My Son the Hero" (1960) Guiliano Gemma stars as a black sheep son of Zeus sent to Earth to rid Crete of a tyrant. Yup, I know, I'm watching peplum movies again...but this one was good, its funny in a very intentional way and Gemma is less of a brooding muscleman and much more a classical trickster character. The cinematography is excellent, especially the numerous underground scenes and the comedy measured and unaffected.
Gemma would later move on to spaghetti westerns where he played under the stage name "Montgomery Wood".

"Come Back Charleston Blue" (1972) This is the nominal sequel to "Cotton Comes to Harlem" and stars Raymond St. Jacques and Godfrey Cambridge as Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones the two ubiquitous Harlem police detectives on the trail of a rising young drug pusher. Not quite as funny as "Cotton Comes to Harlem" and way more violent, nonetheless, St. Jacques and Cambridge are fun to watch...they don't like anybody! Their fellow cops, local religious leaders, pushers, the mafia its a long list they've antagonized!

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1971) Tom Courtenay stars as Solzhenitsyn's Soviet Gulag imate doppelganger in this seldom seen British film shot in Norway. The original novel may be at fault here, its is in some ways un-filmable being more of a realistic mood piece a'la Ernest Hemingway. Still and all that the cast gives it their best shot and it is a very faithful adaptation of the book.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Gas Station Anecdote

the immigrant fella what sold me my unsuccessful scratch ticket today airly announced he was talking with his girlfriend this morning who is home "visiting Denmark".
He told her the outside temperature of minus six degrees with the wind chill and was told in shocked tones that Copenhagen, on the cold cold Baltic Sea was warmer at the moment.

I drew myself up to my full five foot seven inches and as proud thoroughly national man I told him that if he ever wanted to get her back then he needed to do the American Thing and start lying to his girl friend about the weather.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Unemployment Culture Notes:

For the first time in years I watched the noon news on Channel Five, allegedly the local classy news outfit. Of course, you have to wonder about that notion when you realizes that Newscenter Five's idea of "BREAKING NEWS" (complete with doomsday font) is the announcement that someone named Manny Ramirez was gonna be a week late getting to Red Sox Spring Training.
Good lord that whole "Breaking News" thing out to be trotted out ONLY in the most diresome circumstances, like the President going on a mouthwash bender or Cheney shooting another shyster lawyer.
But Manny Ramirez?...c'mon!
We wish the Sox well at whatever they do, but this is bit too much Freudian identification.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Co-worker resubscribes to Netflix,

solely on the basis of the availability of a half season's worth of Time Tunnel episodes on DVD.
Fair enough, but of the Irwin Allen classic fantasy series its the weakest entry as evidenced by the fact that it lasted a single season on ABC and has rarely been seen in syndication.
Still and all that my co-worker was airily informed by Netflix that there was a lengthy waiting list for this particular title.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"Capote" (2005) directed by Bennett Miller

Great performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman as the conflicted yet relentless writer trying to turn a murder-massacre into a bestseller. This is a Brando-as-the-Godhfather class start turn in my humble opinion.

William Burroughs once opined that Jack Kerouac the all American boy from Lowell was faally undermined and manipulated by a "spy in his body" called "Jack Kerouac the writer". It is the same with Capote, Truman wants to help accused killer Perry Smith but ultimately he needs to produce a book with an appropriate ending...ergo a hanging. To that end he ruthlessly extracts a nominal confession from Smith and then ignores his pleas for a lawyer to write their commutation appeal to the Supreme Court.
Truman needs an ending, the writer-spy in his body cannot be denied or placated.
I like films that question art & artists in this way...we tend to fall into easy cliches about thr redemptive power of art forgetting that it easily demands wretchedness and duplicity on the road to be a cafe success and the Pulitzer Prize.

See it, Humble john recommends it!

Movies you should NOT rent a week away from Unemployment...

Number One on that list being the Original "On the Beach" starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.
I mean, it is magnificently acted, but mutha of ghod what a downer!

Peck in particular rises to the occasion with aplomb he was always a stellar monolith of a second rater, akin somewhat to that axiom of cinema, Charlton Heston.
here though he is tighty wound, a bit tragic but never maudlin or trite.
hard things to do in my opinion, it would be easy for the acting to undermine the script.
Ava Gardner was great as well, a bit ripe but that only underscores her status as the films' "fallen girl with a heart of gold".
Ava never looked better or put over a tighter case of "wordless persuastion" than when gazing out to seea pensively as the sub beats its way into the sunset and the radioactive winds swirl around her.
Besides you have to love Ava Gardner, anyone who can drive a full time bastard like Frank Sinatra crazy is a woman for the ages.

Ah but there is something about science fiction, it will sometimes liberate the acting process a bit.
My only complaint is that the Australians face the apocalypse with too much reserve, the 2000 remake with Armand Assante at least posited rioting and intense anti-American feeling at the crew of the USS Swordfish.
Anyway avoid this one if you are going on relief....I just sprawled there swilling cheap whiskey thinking to myself Yeah...they are all dying of radiation exposure, but at least they have JOBS!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Not that I wanna start World War Three or Anything...

but if the Danish Caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad are grounds for rioting then what would be the appropriate response to these contemporary cartoons in various Arab Newspapers?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


God hates me.
Because, he fears me.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Channel Zero's redoubtable artist in residence Joseph Zamparelli Jr for that pre-unemployment lament.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Thought for the Day:

Apropos of Last Night's Superbowl, just how much money has Mick Jagger spent on plastic surgery to keep his dessicated scarecrowish frame looking like a fit athletic forty year old?
I mean, if the IMDB is right (And it ALWAYS IS!) his Satanic Majesty is SIXTY TWO years old.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Laid Off Again...

After a mere four months on the job I've been shown the door again in a department wide resource action.
This of course sucks, but at least it will give me more time to blog.

But if anyone has any good ideas on job opportunities drop me a little note at

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Last Night in the President's State of the Union Address

he said the following:
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms … creating or implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids …

Damnit! If Congress acts on the President's request, my plan to create a race of Atomic Tigermen will be thwarted!!

What the hell kind of a wishy washy bluenosed nation have we become when a simple country boy with an M.A in Political Science (such as myself) can't pervert the laws of Man and God to Produce vicious human-animal mutants????
It is the Doctor Moreaus, the Lex Luthors, the Doctor Nos who made this nation GREAT and COMPETITIVE!

I urge the congress to PASS on the President's narrow-minded Anti-Atomic Tigermen Proposal!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Today is that Day of Days....

National Gorilla Suit Day!
Yes indeed that sacred holiday when we all dress up as our simian forebearers and celebrate our Rational-Darwinist Heritage.

For a succinct precis' on this most important of holidays, go here.

Now however this great tradition is under assault from decadent land locked elites and corrupt panderers in Washington DC who explicitly DENY that National Gorilla Suit Day has anything to do with the Precious Laws of Natural Selection!
These anti-evolutionary fanatics want to outlaw the traditional National Gorilla Suit Day Greetings such as: "Man is descended from the Ape!" and "Happy Darwin!"
Frantic bearded spook worshippers like Senator Bill Frist and Liddy Dole are TRYING to take Darwin out the holiday and turn it into some sort of revealed-religion costume pageant devoid of all meaning!!!!
American was founded and made strong by MEN who proudly donned simian costumes on National Gorilla Suit Day and PROCLAIMED the truth of Humanity's origins as a simple terrestrial anthropoid from the African plains!
Let us all adopt gorilla garb for one day a year and join hands all over the U.S. Ape to reaffirm our FAITH in science and old timey rationalism!!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On a Second Viewing of "The Empire Strikes Back"

hadn't seen this bad baby since 1980 or so, surpirsingly it hold up nicely. Mark Hamill's acting hadn't quite tipped over into the "overwhelmed" category and Irwin Kershner's direction manages to gloss over George Lucas's preposterous dialogue and still get everyone's story arc done.
It suddenly hit me that no less than five characters in the film (Yoda, Vader, Chewie, C-3PO & R2D2) are naught but mixtures of costumery, actors/body builders and prime voice over artists. We take this for granted today in "Lord of the Rings" etc, but back then, Lucas made the FX into actors...even if they did have to talk like crude cartoons.
The other big revelation was Yoda's misty eyed description of the "force" could easily substitute for Dr. Wilhelm Reich's crackpot notions about "orgone energy".

Otherwise, the film is a sort of false high in every way, it throws down two or three good meaty revelations, drifts ways from the gee whiz tone of the first film in favor of something darker and sets up a myriad of lofty expectation for the sequel.
None of which Lucas was able to satisfy when it came time to trot out that two hour toy commercial called "Return of the Jedi".
My disaffection was complete back then, and its largely due to the good impression the "Empire Strikes Back" had made on me.

If there is a systemic flaw in Lucas' faux cosmology it is the late revelation that Leia is too, a potential Jedi. For all that her heritage and link to Darth Vader means all but nothing to either the Sith Lord or Young Skywalker as their confrontation unfolds...this seems strange to me.
Frankly it is loose ends like this that make me doubt "Star Wars" was ever this extended super script that Lucas wrote in film school. I think the original film hit it big and George started improvising from then on.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nuked on a Monday...

or "Emily's Reasons why she Got Cancelled"

Wow! "Emily's Reasons Why Not" a heavily hyped sitcom starring the scrumtious Heather Graham got the ax by ABC after one paltry episode!
This puts Ms. Graham in a very exclusion Cancellation Club that includes such singleton lost causes as Turn On. This was ABC's Tim Conway hosted answer to Rowan and Martin's Laugh In infamous for being cancelled after one broadcast after Heather Graham-ish megahype.
Oh well, 12 million dollars of advertising and ubiquitous signage on the Red Line really can't make you popular after all.

Hey Heather if you are reading this, The Bad Poets Society is in the market for a celebrity reader.
Compensation TBA.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I saw Commander Adama Kissing Colonial President Roslin....

What was he thinking? That she is dying of cancer and this might be his only chance to find out what its like to mack on a superior officer?

Okay so yeah, I watch Battlestar Galactica religiously, what of it?
It is after all, the tightest most complusively watchable space opera to come along since Deep Space Nine. I mean this is akin to "Hill Street Blues" in outer space, ruthlessly realistic, plot driven and heedless of the dopey-ass sci fi tv shibboleths.
Okay so Katee Sackhoff lurches from tears to hysteria in every ep and William Bamber is matter da sumbitch works!
This show is especially pleasing as it vindicates a long held theory of mine, that one shouldn't re-make good teevee shows or movies. For example an update of "The Fugitive" is pointless, a re-make however of something a little forlorn like "Mister Terrific" automatically has possibilities because there is nowhere to go but up!

I may stop watching "Lost" when things finally get too contrived a'la the "X-Files" but I'm hooked on Battlestar Galactica til the last crdits roll.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Producers (2005)

In a perfect world, Nathan Lane would be leading Hollywood comedy star. He is as funny playing it gay as he is playing it straight.
And dats pretty damn funny.
As it is though, he is the best thing in the above film, loud obnoxious, greedy...and funny.
Sadly though, "The Producers" is a vastly watered down affair compared to the Broadway "original".
Indeed, a lot got thrown out on the way to the multiplex, notably Springtime for Hitler's central theme which is De Fuhrer's notional "victory" in WWII as a consequence of triumphing in a dance contest.
Gary Beach does a great star turn as the gayest-Hitler seen since Derek Jacobi did the Fuhrer...but it pales next to the original's frantic pace.
Will Ferrell is utterly predictable as the Nazi-author and star of the show...Mathew Broderick turns in a curiously robotic performance as Leopold Bloom the nerdy accountant who sets the whole scheme in motion. Uma Thurman as the Swedish love interest does her best, but she just cannot gyrate like the Broadway engenue....hell Lane and Broderick can shake their groove things better!
Well what of it?
From film to Broadway musical back to a film...from Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel to Nathan Lane and Matt Broderick.
Full circle.

King Kong (2005)

Fun movie, could've done with some judicious cuts for timing's sake. There is a fine performance therein from the ubiquitous Jack Black and a real star turn from Naomi Watts as a down on her luck vaudeville comic who falls hard for a thirty foot gorilla.
Adrien Brody though, plays the luckless writer-hero as a sort of Stallone by way of Marc Blitzstein...and his nostils make Kong's look puny by comparison.
Mostly my complaint is that the CGI action scenes are too frantic by half. Years ago the speed standard was set at a fast but human pace by everyone from Harold Lloyd to Bruce Lee. Now when it comes time to make with the dinosaur stampedes everyone moves at a pace considered coherent by an editor slaving over a other words at an inhuman rate of speed.
As such the dramatic line of the action scenes is lost and we are left with a Dali-esque jumble of imagery.
That my friends has to change.
Still and all that Kong moves like an ape at least, and his mastery of that prehistoric jungle is a function of his brains and more importantly his will to power.
That comes across just fine....he even gets a Shakespearean death scene, far more sentimental and lurid than even the 1933 original.
And what the hell, it beats the hell out of the odious and contemptuous 1976 re-make with Jessica Lange even if it'll never quite eclipse the raw power of it's New Deal namesake.
Now I wonder if Peter Jackson will take destiny in hand and remake "Son of Kong"?
If he does lets hope Junior comes across with a little more dignity even if he stole the show when Skull Island (spoiler) finally sinks.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve: 2006"

On the one hand I was horrified to see Mister Clark with that trademark rictus stumbling through boilerplate teleprompter copy thanks to his ill-timed stroke last year.
On the other hand as unintelligible as he was, I'd rather listen to Dick Clark, stroke and all than his two co-hosts the oily & insincere Ryan Seacrest or his sidekick the robotically bubbly Marysol say nothing or their West Coast anchor, the animatronic skeleton currently touring under the name Hilary Duff.

Happy New Year to all.