Sunday, August 29, 2010

Centurion (2010)

I can just hear director Neil Marshall's pitch for this bad baby "It is Saving Private Ryan set during the Roman occupation of Britain, and a whole legion gets snuffed trying to save him, then he has to save himself...Oh and there are amazons and more decapitations than the Reign of Terror in Paris now gimme dat money!"
Shit I know I'm convinced.
Okay so the plot meanders onto well charted military-chase movie territory, no matter the acting is first rate the action intense and well...gory...very very gory. Frankly, Neil Marshall would seem to be another Herschell Gordon Lewis in the making, I mean the man takes an artist's enthusiasm to flinging blood flecked viscera high in the air. Certainly "Centurion" felt like the sort of movie that Lewis would have like to have made circa 1969 before he bailed on directing entirely.
And where is this hymn to mayhem playing you ask?
"The Kendall Square Cinema" the very Temple of Apollo dedicated to art-house and independent Films.
Why is this exploitation flick at Cambridge's premiere high brow cinema you ask?
Because the intelligentsia can still find room on the schedule for kitsch and because there is no more market for all-out b-films with low budgets, no-name casts and scrappy ambitions.
In a properly run universe, "Centurion" would be running on a twin bill with "Piranha 3-D" up at the Tri Town Drive In in Leominster even as I write this.
But the Tri Town is plowed under, the Exeter Theater is gone, the Pagoda, the Cinema 57 all the local screens devoted to lowbrow entertainment are gone for good.
So an action flick that is outside the Vin Diesel orbit just as no chance save as a sort of goof booking in a art house.
Mind you, there is still a b-movie market out there but it has migrated to Basic Cable, just look at the Syfy Channels weekend schedule, stuff like "Giant Octo-Suid versus the Atomic Tornadoquake" for forty eight hours straight.
I mean the B-Market exists but the chances of something like "Centurion' finding a aud outside DVD and basic cable are nil, and that my friends is a bad thing as far as I am concerned.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pick of the Week

The seldom revived "The Loved One" starring Robert Morse at the Brattle Thee-ay-turrr on Sunday at 1pm EDT.
The Loved One has always languished in the satiric shadow of "Dr. Strangelove" despite a writing credit from the late Terry Southern.
I say it is worth a second look just for the performances from Jonathan Winters and Rod Steiger.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Which one of you chowderheads...

Panicked, threw on an Indian Headress and executed a rain-dance????

How many times I gotta tell you, God Almighty loves irony the way the Rembrandt loved oil paints!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Boardwalk Empire"

HBO is heavily pimping this jazz-age successor to their storied "Sopranos" franchise.
It is set in Harding-era New Jersey and stars two Brooklynites (Steve Buscemi and Michael Kenneth Williams) and features a host of players from all points of the compass including a Liverpool scouse as Al Capone.
Well, this is a situation nigh predicted by the Billy Crystal/Bob DeNiro mob comedy "Analyze That" wherein DeNiro's gangster boss is disgusted with a popular TV crime drama that features a Australian as a Tony Soprano type racketeer.
I suppose that I should be glad they even built the Atlantic City Boardwalk set in Brooklyn....usually it's Toronto or Manitoba or points north.
All kidding aside, Scorcese directed the pilot which will make it worth a look...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Something about the tagline "They got their kicks from forbidden feats of strength" makes me laugh.
Otherwise this is allegedly pre Stonewall gay all it's crude veiled closeted glory.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Stagecoach" v.2.0

If you get a chance, take a drive out to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Mass, in addition to an excellent exhibition of illustrations by William "Shrek" Steig there is also a collection of Norman Rockwell's film poster work.
In particular a huge lobby poster for the now forgotten 1965 remake of "Stagecoach".
I mean look at this bad-baby, the Indian attack the forms the bottom of the poster and the halo of cameo portraits of the cast, it's an amazingly unified piece of work. Never has such excellence been deployed so well to shore up such second rate jobbery.
Alex Cord as the "Ringo Kid"? Ayieeee! okay I grant you Bing Crosby as a boozy sawbones and the ever dependable Slim Pickens but the rest of the casting is plainly inexplicable in extremis. And anyway...why remake "Stagecoach"? What else is there to say after perfection has been achieved?
Still, the poster is a work of art unto itself.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The August Country

That would be the Berkshires here in Massachusetts, where year after year a classic repertory theater ("Shakespeare & Co) toils unceasingly to ensure that Great Theater Shall Not Perish From This Earth.
The very dream of John Houseman and Orson Welles to create an entirely American classical repertory has been brought to fruition by Tina Packer and her successors at the S&C call it "The Mercury Theater Mark II".
The thing that I love about Shakespeare & Co is that I can see actors clearly on the rise, ascend from supporting roles to topmost lead status over a relatively short space of time. This is a company with a great eye for talent, they find em' and hand the big shows over to them. Take for example John Douglas Thompson, who has ascended in less than five years to the ranks of playing a definitive Othello and now this summer a magnificent Richard III. These people can cultivate actors of rare ability, I'm very hard pressed to recall a play produced by S&C that I felt was miscast.
That is what gives Shakespeare & COmpany it's institutional strength.
Still and all that, they don't overlook the contributions of their core players, this summer's adaptation of "The Winter's Tale" is a veritable S &C gathering of the Gods including Elizabeth Aspenleider (a woman born to the Shakespearean stage), Jonathan Epstein (one of the best actors currently working live theater in the Commonwealth), Johnny Lee Davenport (AKA "Mister Thunder and Lightning" a big husky regal sounding player blessed with potent comic chops) and Jason Aspey (an artist whose natural dignity makes Robert E. Lee look like Shemp Howard).
These people are all like my old dear friends, I look forward to seeing the every summer, I associate them with mosquitos, humidity, baking heat, sudden downpours and patient genius. I'd watch them read from the Yellow Pages, they are just that good.