Friday, December 31, 2010

My top nine movies for 2010

1.) Mystery Team (OKAY OKAY...It was made in 2009, but technically it didn't premiere in Boston til 2010, for once I'm gonna make provincialism work for me). Hi-freakin'-larious movie, satire on the whole "kid detective" genre taken to it's logical conclusion. Best film ever made in Manchester New Hampshire hands down.

2.) It Came from Kuchar: Great documentary on a two filmmaker-brothers whose bizarre post-camp work does not circulate anywhere near as much as they should. If you wanna know who was a bad influence on John Waters, look no further than these guys.

3.)Vliet Harlan: The Shadow of Jud Suss. It takes the resources of a whole state apparatus that is bound and determined to incite genocide to make a film as evil as Jud Suss. And somewhere in that malevolent process there needs to be a reasonably talented hack willing to do the leadership's bidding, hence this documentary about Vliet Harlan, Joseph Goebbels' favorite director and a man did his part to touch off the holocaust with style.

4.) Toy Story Three: Ahhhh mortality, for people for toys its the same story. Some might argue that the Toy Story franchise has revisited this theme incessantly, well hell so did Shakespeare...Genius always knows how to repeat itself.

5.) Get Him to the Greek: I laughed myself stupid at this movie, as far as I am concerned Russell Brand can play variations on his Aldous Snow character til' he is waaa-ay past fifty years of age. Jonah Hill is one good movie away from being this generation's Buster Keaton...And who knew P. Diddy had comedy chops??

6.) Centurion: Director Neal Marshall is a man to watch, he makes movies that I wanna see.

7.) Piranha 3D: It just pleases me on a very vulgar level to single this film out for praise...Very much a throwback to the bygone era of Roger Corman horror films.

8.) The Town: Ben Affleck is a man of destiny, he has turned himself around creatively and has allowed The Hub to become his filmic muse...Like Woody Allen in New York or the aforementioned John Waters in Baltimore.

9.) Machete: Any action film that depends on a sixty six year old Chicano ex-con named Danny Trejo to carry the day is aces high in my books.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

True Grit (1969)

I swore an oath at the Temple of Apollo, the Cinema Godling, that I'd finally screen the original "True Grit
" before I'd see the Coen Brother's reimagining of the same.
Is it a good film?
But for Glen Campbell and a few blood packs though, there is little of anything to mark it of it's time, it could have easily been made in 1959 or 1949 for that matter.
Well what of it?, it is a superlative performance by John Wayne as the boozy frontier Marshal Cogburn shanghai'd by Kim Darby (21 playing 14 if you can believe it) into annihilating her father's killer.
The problem with Wayne by this time was nearly geographic in it's scope, the man was a human mountain range, coming up with challenges equal to his immutable solidity were nigh impossible. So of course, the gag is, that a mere 14 year old girl is the goad that gets Cogburn out into Indian country to slay the malefactors, as P.T. Barnum teaches us the only thing bigger than a big thing, is a very small thing.
And that is Kim Darby's performance in a nutshell, priggish, tightly wound she pursues her father's killers like they owed her money or something. The whole thing makes a right and necessary contrast to Wayne's crusty scenery chewing.
All this is very important, because the mook they are all chasing down is battered, wasted and whiny Jeff Corey, known as an acting coach of no small ability and his refusal to Name Names before HUAC.
That got Corey blacklisted for ten years...this was before Glen Campbell and John Wayne metaphorically finished him off in the High Country.
In a perfect universe, John Ford would have husbanded some strength for a last elegiac collaboration with Wayne, however the olde master was a broken man by 1969 thus dependable Henry Hathaway was brought in to make what amounts to the last Classic Adult Western with "Made in the USA" stamped on the credits.
Hathaway does Wayne proud for the most part, the Colorado countryside makes a suitable noble background for one of US Cinema's exemplars of the Herocracy.
Time though, time is the real enemy here, already the Italians and their spaghetti westerns had seized the high ground in the movie houses, Wayne was past sixty years of age here and his best directors were human shipwrecks, you can practically hear Wagner's "Twilight of the Gods" on the Colorado breeze.
They had to give Wayne the best actor Oscar for this one, incredibly they'd never given it to him before for any of his iconic cowboy roles, a notable failure on the Academy's part in my opinion.
Like the mythic US cavalry, they got there just in time....

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Someone found cut footage from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) at the bottom of a salt mine! The material is in pristine condition and includes among other things the long sought after prologue composed of interviews with real life scientists on the possibilities of extraterrestrial life.
This is huge because Kubrick had the rights to the film's "final cut" and he was notorious for destroying edited footage to all his films. Supposedly he had all the spacecraft models in 2001 trashed to prevent them from showing up on TV in shows like "Lost in Space".

News like this always gives me renewed hope with respect to other films that have gone missing or movies with famous bits and pieces that were excised for various reasons. I'd love to see the famous war room pie fight footage that was the original ending to Dr. Strangelove hell, the missing reels to "The Magnficent Ambersons" would do me for life quite frankly.
Meanwhile I think someone ought to audit the contents of that salt mine quite carefully who knows what else is down there?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My top ten John Lennon Songs (Beatles Era)

It is already the 30th anniversary of his death...time flies doesn't it? And yes, Rock-n-Roll does love it's martyrs doesn't it?

(In no order of preference)

1.) "Help" The First rock-n-roll-celebrity-sucks song, the uptempo melody masks a world class primal scream of despair.

2.) "Dr Robert" Drug humor in 1966, ya can't beat it.

3.) "Tomorrow Never Knows" Any apologia for LSD that has it's origin in one of Ringo Starr's calculated malapropisms is a song for the ages in my books.

4.) "Norwegian Wood" "Cindy I WOULD NEVER CHEAT ON YOU...Its just a SONG!"

5.) "I am the Walrus" John Lennon does to pop musik what TNT does to a recalcitrant brick wall.

6.) "Strawberry Fields Forever". Great song maybe his best, ignoring it diminishes his artistic luster...

7.) "Hey Bulldog" One of JL's best goofs...Besides it is allegedly the last time the Beatles played together in the studio, thus the energy comes across to the casual listener.

8.) "Nowhere Man" Which is a sort of Lennonist bookend to "Eleanor Rigby".

9.) "And Your Bird Can Sing" JL always disparaged the song, but as trifles go this one is excellent and a song others, rock and rock immortals even would kill to have written.

10.) "Dear Prudence" Only a superficial goof, even JK's happy songs sound like dirges...

Okay tawk amongst yourselves...