Thursday, June 28, 2012

I sometimes like to imagine

that it might be possible to revive the classic action serials of the 1940's. They say the attention span is ever shortening, well the better serials, from Republic Studios at least, featured chapters no longer than fifteen minutes.
This is as good a place as any to start sez Zolok.
That roughly tracks with the space limitations on a site like Youtube, you could compensate a bit by running serials of say twenty chapters or so. This might be perfect for adventure characters were once popular but are now on the skids, Doc Savage, The Spider, The Phantom....Hell imagine what could be done with a little irony and public domain stalwart like "Calamity Jane".
Of course you'd a studio's backing, money and visionary leadership, all in short supply these days I'm afraid.
Besides the cliffhanger format has changed, evolved and interbred with so many durable genres that it can hardly reconstitute it's original style.
Still it is fun to think about...
I guess in matters both political and cultural, I am a Jacksonian, for the people and against the interests and elite driven top-down institutions. If feature films are being made in the backyards of America no matter how problematic the results then something good is indeed happening.
Meanwhile Channel Zero is gonna offer kowtow to the olde time serials tomorrow night with a rare screening of "Captain Celluloid versus the Film Pirates" (1965) a loving contemporary homage to classic chapterplays.

The Nefarious League of Film Pirates wants to corner the world’s supply of Classic Cinema! Only one man stands in his way, that Masked Marvel of the movies, Captain Celluloid!
Take a contemporary silent movie, a great love for the old Republic Serials a genuine feel for action cinema, and this is what you get, the weirdest Superhero Movie ever made!!
All in Super Monochromoscope!

Plus a surprise or two in the ineffable Channel Zero Style!!

Friday June 29th 8pm Sharp!
The Somerville Theatre Screening room
Admission 5 bucks cheap!
55 Davis Square
Somerville Ma 617 625 5700
Channel Zero Boston’s Cheapest Entertainment Franchise now in our sixteenth year of Genteel Cinematic Transcendence!

Good Luck finding us on Facebook!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I think that I must've waited

all my life for the advent of home video.

And why?

Because I am a lifelong serial fan and until I was in my twenties classic chapterplays did not really circulate in cinemas or on TV.
Oh Channel 56 once screened all the "Flash Gordon" serials at 11pm on weeknights, a welcome byproduct of the "Star Wars" craze to be sure.
But if you wanted to see "The Purple Monster Strikes" (1945) you had to wait and hope that the feature film ("D-Day on Mars" I LOVE THAT TITLE!) edited out of serial somehow got screened on an obscure UHF station.
Mostly until stuff started showing up on VHS, the serials I wanted to see had to be read about, Glut and Harmon's "The Great Movie Serials" being the then definitive work on the subject.
I can safely say that my ardor for serials is such that the two Kirk Alyn "Superman" serials are both good examples of movies long anticipated with high expectations that in turn lived up to the hype in every way.
Top that "Avatar"!
The genre is dead and gone now and I think that is a helluva shame...silent serials pioneered female action heroes (The Perils of Pauline, the Hazards of Helen, all of which featured brave self reliant heroines in a pre World War One milieu), sound serials help creat modern stunt work and fight choreography and formed the first venues for comic book characters like Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel.
Though almost no one trifles with the genre anymore, serial DNA lives on from every "Dr. Who" cliffhanger to the endless storylines of daytime soap operas.
To say nothing of "Indiana Jones" a last lavish love letter to a bygone genre of film-making.
So it is with some affection that Channel Zero screens "Captain Celluloid versus the Film Pirates" this friday night...a relatively concise silent homage to the old Republic Serials produced under independent circumstances in 1965 by true serial lovers and sadly forgotten since then.
Channel Zero can't screen "The New Adventures of Tarzan" as all 12 chapters would run for four hours of screening time...So Captain Celluloid at 45 or so minutes will do as a good substitute.
And we will have some surprises to screen that night as well to round things out to "feature length".
Anyhow...tell your friends!
"Captain Celluloid versus the Film Pirates" (1965)
Friday June 29th 8pm Sharp!
The Somerville Theatre Screening room
Admission 5 bucks cheap!
55 Davis Square
Somerville Ma 617 625 5700
Good Luck finding us on Facebook!!
Forget Batman, Forsake The Avengers, Captain Celluloid is All The Hero
the Summer of 2012 Needs!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Star Trek Update...

Per the producer of the new (old) Franchise, there will be No Borg, No "Gary Mitchell", No "Yeoman Rand" (SACRILEGE!) and no Ruk the Android in the upcoming sequel.
Which leaves the door wide open to another gay romp with the Klingons, Tribbles, a return bout with "Gary Seven" or perhaps, just perhaps Harry Mudd's Hour has at Long Last Struck!
This being Star Trek, the Blockbuster Franchise, Mudd will be played be Seth Rogen, and if they can't get him then Jack Black or Jonah Hill (if he can fit the movie in)...with Mudd's Infamous Fembots played by Wanda Sykes, Katherine Heigl and Michelle Rodriguez (assuming Janeane Garofalo has thrown in the towel on movie work)...

All snarkage aside, I like the new Star Trek, but I have a feeling they wanna be a blockbuster franchise and not a science fiction built around "Seeking Out New Life, New Civilizations"....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Diskovery" on Washington Street in Brighton

is going out of business. It was the last of the great filthy flea bitten used book and records stores in Boston, the ones with all the great buys and a owner willing to negotiate.
With this, and the closure of Movieland on Beacon Street the great age of Bohemian Independent Shopping experience in Boston draws to a very sad close, at least insofar as books and sundry entertainment goes.
Brookline and Allston Brighton once bastions of offbeat independent retailers, is gonna get less interesting and a lot more standardized, but don't worry Panera Bread and StarBucks will no doubt make sure neither storefront is idle for long.
Meanwhile I threw down $15 for some used paperbacks, Diskovery is still stuffed with bargains for anyone willing to make a last book & music run.
And yes, they've got vinyl!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Venerable Harvard Square Cinema

is closing next month.

That causes a bit of a pang, back when they were an independent in the pre-Home Video days the "Daily Double Feature" was a veritable film school unto itself.
I saw there...
"Night of the Living Dead"
"Dawn of the Dead"
"Fritz the Cat"
The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat"
"Clockwork Orange"
"Pink Flamingoes"
"Female Trouble"
"Desperate Living"
"Dr. Strangelove" (of course)
All the Marx Brothers Canon...
"Flesh Gordon"
"Broadway Danny Rose"
"The Creature from the Black Lagoon" (in 3D)
"Enter the Dragon"
"The Man who Fell to Earth"
The List Goeth On...
Back in High School it was a very easy going venue if you were a kid when a definite yen to see R-Rated Movies.
Geez if I owned this venue, I'd probably try and get a wine and beer license a'la the Somerville Theatre, I'd repurpose the main theater as an occasional live venue (What is left of Harvard Square once vibrant live music scene??), try and get some traction in the community (in the fashion of the Coolidge Corner) and aim a lot of my content at the best walk-in crowd in the city, college students.

The Parking in Harvard Square is crappy to say the least, but the venue is on the Red Line with thousands of 18 to 24 year old's forcibly domiciled nearby, there has to be something that can be done with a mix like that.
Oh and I'd also repurpose one of the theaters as a micro cinema for rent to local film fans etc.

Y'know for all those other Channel Zero's out there...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pick of the Week...

"Khrustalyov, My Car!", being a sort of film memoir of Joseph Stalin's final days screening at the Harvard Film Archive Saturday Night @ 7pm.

Hell All Channel Zero did was screen Stalin's bloated "Funeral Film", and now the HFA comes along, grabs our idea and comes up with a title three times as good as what we had!
It's like when Salieri wrote a fanfare for Mozart, only to watch the young genius take his labored march and turn it into something exquisite.
Anyway...this one sounds very interesting and we never begrudge one of the majors when they work our side of the street, the Big Guys have the reach after all to extract maximum value from a screening.

Our Current Flyer....

Apologies for the crude JPG format which does not do justice to the punchy character of the flyer. The Franchise Marshal did an outstanding job this time, the whole thing just pops off the page!
My only complaint, the great age of bulletin boards has entered it's twilight, we are compelled to hunt just a bit for appropriate spaces wherein to tack this bad baby up for all to see or just drop a stack of flyers for folks to pick up.
Damned internet...
This is an interesting irony as our anecdotal "audience research" at our recent screenings indicates fully half the paying audience is hooked in by these flyers!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

There is nothing quite like a weekend

given over to a screening of "Prometheus" (junk) and then John Carpenter's 1998 remake of "The Children of the Damned" (sad junk) to put one off the genre of horror-sci fi movies entirely.
Sometimes I think that the whole film making process must needs be democratized, the most interesting genre films these days are being made in backyards under amateur circumstances.
I mean, look at these guys, they've decided to revive the chapterplay era lock stock and barrel.
Someone ought to make a real horror film up in New Hampshire, lots of scary places and scenes up there to work with...Ever been to Hampton Beach in October?? An indescribable Poe-like atmosphere permeates the resort town, that and a slate grey mist that roles off the ocean and has to conceal monsters on the other side.
For that fact, someone ought to make an old fashioned horse opera western here in Massachusetts. I can think of a number of rural areas that would make an appropriate backdrop. Be straightforward about it and try to avoid the cliches that have all but taken over that genre.
I mean think about it, a Spaghetti Western shot entirely on location in the Berkshires amidst the Commonwealth's own ghost towns the ruined factories and mills of our bygone industrial past.
Think on it anyways...My main point is, that as certain skills and trades become obsolete, some of them inevitably fall into the hands of artists. Printmaking, calligraphy, the production of comic books, all superceded by technological developments and all thriving in the art schools of America. Maybe feature film-making is about to descend to that very happy level...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Winston Churchill was born in Saint Louis Missouri

was a progressive and a 19th century "goo goo", wrote nine novels, moved to Cornish New Hampshire, sat in the Granite State's legislature (twice) and in 1906 came within an ace of the GOP nomination for Governor.
Churchill was the intimate of two US Presidents, notably Woodrow Wilson made the mansion in Cornish NH his summer White House on at least one occasion.

What you don't believe me??
The facts are all there in Black and White on Wikipedia....but tis' strange not a mention of the Battle of Britain or the Yalta Conference.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

We got some good ink from

The Boston Sunday Globe today....

Our plan is to let "The Avengers", "The Dark Knight Rises" etc etc "punch themselves out" then deliver a haymaker courtesy "Captain Celluloid"...
So again for the record Channel Zero is screening "Captain Celluloid versus the Film Pirates" Friday, June 29th at eight pm in the Micro Cinema of the Somerville Theatre (55 Davis Sq Somerville Ma), for a mere five bucks.
Anyone with a pronounced taste for the bizarre and outre' is strongly encouraged to attend...And if that don't work we have a few surprises in store that night as well.
Meanwhile....For the Love of Ghod Almighty in Heaven Above, avoid "Prometheus" at all costs. It is two tedious hours you will never ever recover, good cast witless script, your time is better served anointing your head with a ball-peen hammer.
It is the worst sort of Hollywood excess, the entirely unnecessary origin story.
Destiny has quit on Ridley Scott, lets be up front about that....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

If the Globe is to be believed

2012 allegedly marks the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Boston Strangler's reign of terror.

So I'm just gonna suggest quietly and disinterestedly, that maybe the Harvard Film Archive (or some comparable entity) might wanna revive the 1968 Tony Curtis adaptation of the whole sorry tale.
"The Boston Strangler" is one of those select films I refuse to watch on DVD owing to the complex split screen cinematography which was really designed to be seen on a forty foot high screen...And only on a forty foot high screen.

Channel Zero can't really traffic in a film like this owing to the modesty of our designated venue, it requires a Big Screen and preferably a fresh print on celluloid.
Well if yer gonna dream, dream big sez I.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

Let the record show, that as far as I am concerned, Ray Bradbury's best medium outside the printed page was radio, not movies or TV.
Dimension X's audio adaptation of "Zero Hour" lives on my memory much more vividly than any scene from the "Illustrated Man" starring Rod Steiger.
Why exactly this is, I do not know, maybe it's because of the sheer Hemingway-esque sparseness of Ray's dialogue and descriptive sense.
It all translated but poorly to the visual medium...
Whenever Bradbury needed to send his character's outside the solar system he was content to describe their transport as "a rocket" and leave it at that.
You can't get away with that in Hollywood, no that rocket has to be tarted up like the Battlestar Galactica.
Ray didn't traffic with FTL drives and elaborately appointed doomsday machines, if he needed technology he just got a few old gimmicks out of the prop room no need for CGI or Industrial Light and Magic.
This is what gave his writing such power & focus, and it all stands in stark contrast to say his fellow SF writer E.E. "Doc" Smith with his planet sized alien superbrains and inane dialogue eructated by department store mannikins.
Ray had characters, those were all the SPFX he ever needed.
Like his hero Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bradbury is one of those select authors who follow people right out of childhood and may be read re-read and enjoyed right up to the point of senescence and for a goodly while thereafter.
Now at the age of 91, after a lifetime of inspired other writers and being the very bridge out of the sci fi ghetto and into the mainstream, Ray has passed on.
And if there is a merciful and ironic Ghod in Heaven Above, then yes, Ray awoke at the instant of his death on the red sands of Mars, Dejah Thoris on one side of him and a few of his brownish golden eyes martians giving him the puppy dog eyes on the other...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Apropos of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee...

Isn't it funny how the whole House of Windsor can get tarted up in elaborate military drag, and yet you get no whiff of fascism off of them?

Normally they all look like a bunch of Argentine Colonels that just seized power in a coup, but the Windsors all treat it like it is mere appropriate costumery and nothing at all untoward.
That to me, is a key part of their mystique...

Friday, June 01, 2012

Broadgay Highlights...

Had a chance to disengage for a few days last week and head off to New York City to take in some legit the-aterrr.
And this is what I saw:

"The Best Man", a revival of Gore Vidal's 1960 drama about the backstage politics at a presidential nomination convention that features extended supporting turns by James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury.
Who knew that in their eighth decade such an accomplished pair of actors would shamelessly caper, cavort, mug & upstage the leads out a pure thirst for thunderous applause?
I sh*t you not about that applause, Jones and Lansbury's every entrance and exit is greeted by prolonged adulatory clapping.
Alas Candice Bergen, comes in very little of this, she has to get by with being merely excellent in every way.
As I said, it is all very shameless and at times overshadows the contest between the lead characters (John "Night Court" Larroquette and Eric "Will & Grace" McCormack)as a Former US Secretary of State and a US Senator who traffic in accusations of homosexuality and mental illness on their way to an un-named party's presidential nomination circa 1960 or so.
Nonetheless, it is fine revival in every way, we often forget Gore Vidal's talent for witty dialogue and prophetic political set-ups.
Now, to hear Vidal tell it, the play was a sort of meditation on the emerging 1960 presidential contest between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. I myself have always suspect that the whole thing was really about the internal GOP rivalry between then Vice President Nixon and New York's Governor Nelson Rockefeller both of whom clashed in the GOP presidential primaries that year.
Nonetheless it was well worth it, how many more times can you see Angela Lanbury shamelessly upstage five other actors in one go or see James Earl Jones play a blusterly ex-president and come off a little bit like Teddy Roosevelt in the process?
See it, it is strong in the hind legs and well worth your time.

The Columnist: I had to take the Acela to Manhattan to find out that the late Joseph Alsop was gay.
I have no defense either I have a master's degree in political science...You'd a thought it would have come up during all those discussions about the Viet Nam War??!
Anyhow this is another winner, John Lithgow is freakin' amazin' as the erudite, witty painfully uptight Alsop who is tormented by the fact that he had to reveal his homosexuality to the FBI in order to forestall an attempt to blackmail him by the KGB.
So tormented is he, that the columnist works himself into a anti-communist frenzy banging the pots for war in Viet Nam even as the elite Washington strata he inhabits cracks crumbles and disintegrates.
Alsop was a bastard, and Lithogw plays him as such but a human even humane bastard, a man whose sexuality prevents him from embracing the past and whose politics prevent him from facing the future with any poise.
As bad as Alsop was, I almost miss him, who stands in his place?
That shameless shill George Will? Rush "Oxycontin" Limbaugh...Laura "Hollow Leg" Ingraham...a gruesome unwholesome lot to be sure. If Alsop was alive he'd never invite any of them to one of his elite dinner parties no matter how much they might agree with him.
So basically I spent forty eight hours on Broadway immersed in the politics of homosexuality circa 1960...