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.