Sunday, December 29, 2013

You know what I like about "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013) ?

the Disney Organization managed to fashion a compelling musical out of a classic musical ("Mary Poppins" circa 1964) that I myself never really cared about... The gimmick is simple, Poppins' author P.L. Travers (played my Emma Thompson in another one of her Bitchy Brit turns) travels to LA to co-write the screenplay to the Disney adaptation and must endure the sentimental palmyness of Tom Hanks's Walt Disney and his creatives all the while remaining desperate even paranoid to protect her characters who are of course heartbreakingly real to her. Its a pair of tight performances from Thompson and Hanks, and the supporting cast (Bradley Whitford, BJ Novak, Jason Schwartzman and Paul Giamatti) all shine throughout. My only complaint is that this being a Disney "Behind the Scenes" drama/comedy/musical it must have a happy ending...Thompson's P.L. Travers seems to be reconciled to the resulting film, the real P.L. Travers HATED "Mary Poppins" and handed down a firm fatwah against any further film adaptations of her famous flying nanny by anyone at all. Oh and just a quick shout out to a younger player Annie Rose Buckley who plays P.L. Travers as a kid growing up in Australia she has almost all her scenes with Colin Farrell (as Travers' dissolute father) and she holds her own with aplomb.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

They are officially remaking "Gilligan's Island" for the big screen...

Details can be duly sussed here. It's late and I'm tired and outrage and disdain is a cheap commodity I'm gonna confine my remarks to two points. It was always my theory that Gilligan was deliberately screwing up the castaways many many escape attempts in order to evade the draft and skip out on combat service in Viet Nam. Look at the re-runs if'n you don't believe me, Gilligan is easily of draft age, no college deferment, no dependents, he sure as shit wasn't no clergyman, prime cannon fodder back in the Imperial High Noon of the Great Society. No wonder he was always wrecking the rafts and messing up the various signaling devices built by The Professor... Now if I was writing the notional script for the upcoming film, I'd reconfigure the island so that all the other castaways have various sins on their consciences...crimes sufficient to sent to that Tropical Purgatory with no less a warden that that deceptive ineptoid, Gilligan. Its an idea that draws a bit from Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner", cuz drawing from the original sitcom would be an exercise in well worn futility at this point.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sooooo...Warner Brothers has cast

an Israeli Actress as Wonder Woman in their upcoming Big Budget catastrophe "Batman versus Superman" (or whatever the hell it is called this week). Regardless of the sheer status upgrade awarded to the Descendants of Abraham for finally grabbing off a solid piece of the DC Comics Big Screen Universe, I have to wonder just what effect this will have on the Arab Boycott? Does this mean mass burnings of Justice League Comics? DVDs run over by hijacked steamrollers, sales plummeting of star spangled spankies in Beirut? I dunno...Certain Parties have a historic choice, wallow mindless anti-semitic obstructionism or just possibly sit back and watch a Girl Next Door from Haifa bench press an SUV...Sadly my money is on the former, it's a just a question of what embarrassing form it will take.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pick of the Month

The Redoubtable Harvard Film Archive is screening "Alexander the Great" (1956) starring Richard Burton on Sunday December 22nd at 7pm. People forget Richard Burton got his start in sword and sandal costume epics and this film in particular, represents an overblown high point to a genre too often dismissed. This is also one of those titles that Channel Zero would love to revive, but of course we do not have access to the HFA's Big Indoor Screen or their reliable fan base for that fact. But then we never ever indulge spite towards the Big Players, they at least have the resource to maximize a rare title's audience potential.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Nebraska" (2013) or "Bruce Dern's Last Stand"...

I'm gonna keep it simple, RUN don't walk to the nearest cinema to see this film on the Big Screen before it is unjustly and prematurely consigned to DVD/Download oblivion. Because in the final analysis, this movie represent's actor Bruce Dern's Last Stand, an epic characterization of a sad Alzheimer's addled retiree Will Grant's meandering trek across Montana and Nebraska in search of a spurious million dollar sweepstake's winning. Sad witholding and broken by life, this part may well be Dern's Legacy, a dessicated American King Lear eloquent with every haunted thousand yard stare, with everything he doesn't say. Guided in turn, to his inevitable destination by his son Will Forte who is in every way Lear's Fool desperate to both keep his father rooted in reality while trying to keep the old man's fragile illusions alive. "Nebraska" is a sort of homage to every son with depleted aging broken father, I lived this story for three long years until last January brought the whole journey to it's end...I can pay this movie no higher praise. In fact I'm not sure there is a single off performance anywhere in the film especially among it's heavy allotment of older actors, in particular June Squibb as Dern's deceptively bitchy overwrought wife and Stacy Keach as Will Grant's gamey former partner. Hell they even found a spot for Ron Howard's dad Rance Howard.... In a Well Run Republic, Bruce Dern would be a cinch for the Best Actor Nomination at the upcoming Academy Awards...for that fact June Squibb could easily grace the Best Supporting Actress category...but if the IMDB is to be believed the film cost $13m to make and has garnered about a half million in ticket receipts to date. I have a feeling that Bruce Dern's legacy will not garner the recognition it deserves...this is a shame because the man has paid his dues ten times over starting out with Roger Corman and then soldiering thru a long list of movie psychos and epic hippies. You'd think he'd a earned the consideration at the very least. Well I am afraid this time mere transcendent excellence will have to do....

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Up until today...

The Boston Globe was being thoughtful and tactful in reporting the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. And then today, via the medium of a disparate collection of remarks made by the Late Robert F. Kennedy, Neil Swidey and Bryan Bender managed to read all the major assassination conspiracy tropes into the narrative with the single mindedness of an Oliver Stone. The whole grim conspiracy cast list is trotted out, Jimmy Hoffa, Santos Trafficante, Castro, Khrushchev etc etc. Bender & Swidey even manage to drag out that old dismal canard to the effect that Lee Harvey Oswald did not have the marksmanship skills to successfully shoot anyone from the Texas Book Depository... Good Ghod doesn't anyone read the Warren Report Anymore? Did Messrs Swidey & Bender?? Here...These are some relevant pages to the discussion, but on the simplest level of Occam's Razor, if there was a conspiracy, wouldn't they have bought Oswald a better rifle and given him more shooting range time? No. Why? Because there was No Conspiracy to Kill JFK, Oswald had method motive, opportunity, the advantage of lax ill thought out presidential protection and the incalculable advantage of sheer surprise. Maybe Oswald's USMC marksmanship scores weren't exceptiona, but there he was shooting over 500 yards under unrecorded conditions, in Dealey Plaza it was half that range with pristine weather and a good scope on his firearm. Lastly, I just wanna make one general point as a student of history, no conspiracy iterates complete concealment over time, sooner or later somebody climbs their perch, shakes out their feathers and sings like a canary. The fact that this hasn't happened is no tribute to the cloak around the alleged conspiracy, but rather an indicator that there never was a conspiracy to begin with, no shoe left to drop guys. And reading all this into the Sunday Globe via Bobby Kennedy's doubts, fears and grief, himself a man who cannot answer for any of plainly sneaky and a little grotesque. Bad Show...Bad Show.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh and...

Garen Daly, that Axiom of Local Independent Cinema, is staging a live reading of The Mercury Theatre on the Air's famous 1938 "War of the Worlds" adaptation tomorrow night at the Regent Theater in Arlington Ma,. This is one that scared three million radio listeners into believing superintelligent octopi from Mars were invading New Jersey...and incidentally put Orson Welles on the map. Tickets are a mere $25 and I am told the cast is stellar in every way...I only wish I could go, alas I have a commitment to assist my ninetyish mother distributing free chocolate to the local costumed incubi.

My Boss brought her newborn to work today...

For all and sundry to admire. I got up to make the necessary praiseful noises, the tyke took one look at me, narrowed his eyes and promptly and loudly defecated himself with a look of solemn contemplation. Which I interpret as a sign direct from Divine Providence that "dying alone" was the right call all along. :D

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Less than Forty Eight Hours Before...

I assist my ninety year old Mother distributing processed sugar treats to the local incubi, I am given to think that the current vogue for Zombies seems to be coyly sublimated "family annihilator" fantasization. I mean its okaaaa-ay to shoot your spouse and children if they've become undead flesh eating ghouls...that and all the profligate anarchic gun worship, for some members of the aud it is a win-win situation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I stood by the shore in Rye NH Yesterday....

And watched as a nigh perfect Golden Indian Summer departed New England like a rat fleeing barnyard arson.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Gravity" (2013) Directed by Alphone Cuaron

A veritable love letter joyously celebrating the subtle pleasures of the Soyuz TM space capsule And Sandra Bullock's legs. Seriously though, how did she wax those stems in zero gee? Y'know she is only three years older than the Soyuz Spacecraft itself? Sorta makes you think don't it? *** All snarkage aside, this is an amazing motion picture, told with as much realism as the restrictions of storytelling would allow...Clooney is his usual suave able self, and who knew Bullock could ever play a sort of straight version of the proverbial "Reluctant Astronaut"? See it in 3-D, I know that gets overhyped and overused these days, but for once the gimmick is worth the money.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A final reminder....

Channel Zero (Boston's Cheapest Entertainment Franchise) will return tomorrow night with an epic screening of "Ferry Cross the Mersey" (1965) starring Liverpool's own Gerry and the Pacemakers in their own homage to "A Hard Day's Night". Why this film? Here at Channel Zero we are great believers in giving forgotten franchises and film genre's "Their Day in Court". "Ferry Cross the Mersey" was one among of a number of "Hard Days Night" homages that provided I think the evolutionary impetus to day's musical mockumentary style...What does "Magical Mystery Tour" and "A Mighty Wind" both have in common? They were both improvised...Although to be fair, The Beatles could have used an assist from Messr's Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest. But I digress.... There are fourteen songs in this film some of whom are from unjustly forgotten British Invasion acts like "The Fourmost" and distaff vocalist, Cilla Black. All of whom cut their teeth on the Dance Hall Circuit with John Paul George and Ringo. And last there is an engaging performance from the Pacemakers own frontman Gerry Marsden who scours mid sixties Liverpool looking for the main chance that will elevate his band to stardom... Friday October 18th 8pm (sharp) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma 617 625 5700 Admission $5 (Cheap!)

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Machete Kills" (2013)

Boy when Director Robert "Spy Kids" Rodriguez goes crazy, it is not a pretty sight by any means. He has of course no-one to blame but himself, because it has been Rodriguez particular conjuring power to bring together offbeat casting decisions (Cuba Gooding Jr, Lady GaGa, Charlie Sheen?? I'm all in!!)and use them in new and interesting ways. Hell he took a ferocious looking ex-Jailbird named Danny Trejo and turned him into an action movie star at the tender age of sixty eight years old!!! Now how do you wreck all the good will sown in the first Machete picture? Simple.... You rip off your plot from "Moonraker" the 1979 007 movie and then festoon the resulting script with as many leaden Star Wars references as is humanly possible...oh and spoiler, the damn thing is a cliffhanger as well!!! Bad movies that waste superlative casts cannot afford indulgences like that, George Lucas can get away with it, but only once and even then just barely. Trejo's "Machete" is a sort of Mexican Mike Hammer, incorruptible, violent and utterly righteous, he cleans up this foul world from the streets up. You DON'T lob that character into orbit and set him against a Dr. Evil" style supervillain even if that antagonist is played by Mel Gibson. It ought to be an Axiom of American Cinema that you cannot ripoff the single worst James Bond movie ever made and expect a good result. But there you have it, Rodriguez goes and wrecks a potentially lucrative franchise, sad to say, I'm thinking he has gone over the hump ne'er to return. Danny Trejo though seems to have plenty of snap left in his garters lets hope he can find a project worth of his brutal charisma. Oh and one last thing, doesn't ANYONE make a ninety minute motion picture anymore?? Everybody has their hearts set on these goddamn two-hour-plus-trailers super epics! If your premise is thin to begin with, it defies the known laws of physics to think it won't simply implode at one hundred and twenty interminable minutes! And one last point, the very 1970's exploitation films Rodriguez is so very ineptly homaging & or parodying were ALL produced by schlockmeisters who at least had the common sense not to belabor their subject matter with excessive running times. Trust me, the best drive in movies of that era, none of them were longer than ninety heed Robert, turn back, oh man.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

One Final Word...

He'd never admit it, but you know who had a good summer this year? Jim Carrey. I know it sounds crazy, he has been off the radar screen for over five years after a bad bout with Academy Award Fever, but nonetheless he racked up two solid performances in the Hot Weather Months. He stole the show right out from under Steve Carell in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" as a celebrity magician-sociopath....and he dominated as "Captain Stars-n-Stripes" in "KickAss II" (something I'm sure appalls him to no end even now). I think Jim is akin to Robin Williams in that he has a natural talent for sonsabitches and the self destructive, both those aforementioned parts played to his key deliverables. At this point I'd pay good money to see him play Iago in an all up Othello...Time to stop displacing all that anger (which really where almost all commercially viable comedy comes from) and focus it in a dramatic context.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

James Caan is returning to Broadcast Television....

On some goddamned sitcom of all things. Not for nothing there was a time the man was the Fifth Horseman of the Method Apocalypse along with Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Supreme Diabolicus, Marlon Brando...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Channel Zero Returns....

Friday October 18th 2013 at the Micro Cinema of the Somerville Theatre with an epic screening of Gerry and the Pacemakers in "Ferry Cross the Mersey" (1965). Why Gerry and the Pacemakers? Well why the hell not? When their Liverpool pals The Beatles went over the top all the other bands that played The Cavern got their shot at The Big Time. And the Big Time meant a feature film, preferably a sort of mockumentary but with plenty of British Invasion Music. So "Ferry Cross the Mersey" is Gerry and the Pacemakers own version "Hard Days Night", detailing frontman Gerry Marsden's attempts to book the band onto a Liverpool talent show that'll rocket their asses to Stardom. Built around various Liverpool locations and including footage shot at the famous "Cavern Club" and loaded up with a treasure trove of rock-n-roll performances from Cilla Black & The Fourmost among many others..."Ferry Cross the Mersey" is an authentic film rarity. And Channel Zero is screening this lost genre classic... Friday October 18th 8pm (Sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma 617 625 5700 Admission $5 (Cheap!) Check out our Facebook Fan Page, it is like Wicked Obscure....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Summer of 2013, An Autopsy...

Took me a while to gather my thoughts, but I suspect, just suspect that the Summer of 2013 will go down in the Annals as the very moment when Hollywood went over the hump, never to return. The litany of catastrophe and humiliation is a long and appalling one, an Iron Man sequel that pit a worthy like Robert Downey Jr against genetically engineered lava-men, a Lone Ranger movie that Will Live In Infamy and "The Man of Steel", a film that compares unfavorably with self induced blunt force impact trauma with a ball peen hammer. The list goes on seemingly endless and indistinguishable Pixar animated epics, a collection of horror films seemingly shot on a smartphone in the same clothes closet and of course, a Brad Pitt zombie if that is brand enhancement. The collapse has been in truth, a long time a-comin', the rise of committee rule extending it's top down iron clad rule to even the most trivial film projects, a foolish bid to ingratiate with overseas audiences and a editing zeitgeist that favors running the film stock thru a lawn mower. To say nothing of the millions being wasted time after time...more and more spent to achieve less and less. Tinseltown's answer to this season's debacle, Ben Affleck as Batman in the upcoming "Batman versus Superman" epic. Unlike everyone else on the internet, I'm fine with Affleck at Batman, he might even be good at it, he certainly won't do the role any disservice. No my issue is with Zack Snyder et all, they'll make a the same gruesome ruin of "The World's Finest Heroes" that they made of "Man of Steel". I'm convinced Affleck did it to secure financing for some directorial project to be named later... No the best action film I saw this summer was the much reviled "KickAss 2"...mostly because the filmmakers managed to match up the semi inept KickAss (Aaron Taylor Johnson) with weedy Wall Cox-esque Christopher Mintz-Plasse whilst Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz)finally gets a fight worthy of her homicidal skill set, a one eyed female Russian bodybuilder. Subtle just won't do in the KickAssverse. Sheee-it I got myself invested in a line up like that... Critics hate the KickAss "franchise" mostly because they prefer their foulmouthed killer vigilantes be Hugh Jackman and not a teenaged Chloe Grace I love the girl, she is pure screen violence done right. Nope the last bastion of creativity in Hollywood is among the comedies, "The Heat", "The World's End" and "The Way Way Back" all had a strong auteur feel to them, the writing was universally tight in each case...but lets face facts, It's the Twilight of the Gods Out There in Beverly Hills...and hearty laughter always attends on the End Times.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Battle of Armageddon....(Part One)

This has been God Help Us, an Awful summer for movies, when Hollywood can't even get The frickin' Lone Ranger right something seriously has gone wrong with the American Entertainment Zeitgeist. Hell the only superhero movie that did anything at all for me in 2013 was Chloe Grace Moretz in "Kick Ass 2".... But even as the shades of summer depart, The Mendon Twin Drive In has hurled it's defiance at the Whole World by scheduling A Full Month of Repertory Screenings All thru September...Starting this Friday and Saturday, its a Double Feature of "Jaws" (1975) and "Back to the Future" (1985)!!! To my knowledge this is a First in Local Drive In History, normally these venues tend towards family friendly first run double features, these revival screenings are literally breaking new ground! Anyhow click on the link to the right for all the details, this is quite literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, to see any of these films in the outdoor setting is naught but a miracle!! All I can say is, tell your friends, In Mendon, At the Drive In, It Is ON!!!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Canine Moment in Arlington Ma....

My next door neighbors, own a "cotton poodle", that barks at me whenever I walk past their house in a tone that seems to say "Okaaaa-ay I'm gonna bark at you now....don't get scared, I'm the dog here, I'm obligated to bark thats all". Inevitably, I bark back at the cotton poodle...with as friendly a "woof" as a man can muster. Eventually my neighbors children asked me why I barked at their dog...and so I told them that I had conspicuously failed to teach the dog to speak english, I was forced to try to learn the secret language of suburban canines. And my next door neighbor's kids are good sports, they haven't turned me in to Bridgewater State Hospital...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"The World's End" (2013)

Simon Pegg claims that "Nostalgia is the Enemy" in his new comedy "The World's End". And indeed he is onto something as aging lad Gary King a man child layabout leads the remnants of his now middle aged high school posse on a last tour of twelve pubs in the grotty suburb of their misspent youth only to find benevolent but bossy aliens underfoot. The evils of nostalgia and "past worship" might've come off a little stronger if writer & star Simon Pegg along with director Edgar Wright didn't serve up a comical homage to Jack Finney's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" right down to the nominal climax Ah but I quibble this film is the closest thing to a gem this summer, ant film that can take portly pasty and very middle aged Nick Frost and turn him into a veritable Sammo Hung, is aces high in my books. I think Simon Pegg is sort of weedy English Genius with just enough geek cred to prosper in Hollywood, I think it helps that he has come along as Tinseltown has lurched into self parody and gigantism...his ideas all seem to properly scaled and sane by comparison to the outlandish expectations of his alleged competition. Unlike Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill (both of whom I do like), I don't expect Pegg to fly off a cliff anytime soon pursuing a billion dollar box office pay off. The Greats didn't worry about their next project or their projected returns, they stayed focused on Being Funny Now...That seems to be Pegg's Agenda pure and simple. More power to him sez I.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On the Other Hand or "The Day the Clown Decried" (Part II)

On the Other Hand ("The Day The Clown Decried" Part II) I honestly wonder if Jerry Lewis isn't trying to use reverse psychology on us? He knows "The Day the Clown Cried" is appallingly controversial, he allegedly lacks the rights to release it and supposedly doesn't wanna release it...but suddenly we are getting rivulets of info about the long uncompleted project. He himself asserts here (in so many words) that it is at once unwatchable and yet still an unreleased masterpiece. If I didn't know better I'd think he was trying to create a groundswell out in the aud to complete and release the film. Then again, given the fact that Jerry Lewis' ego long ago outstripped that dried husk once known as his dignity, it probably simply gratifies Le Roi d' Crazy to enroll himself into that elite Hollywood Fraternity of Auteurs with Great Unfinished Film Masterpieces. Its a very heavy duty room there, Orson Welles, Joseph von Sternberg, Sergei Eisenstein, Bruce Lee, Jean-Luc Godard and even Alfred Hitchcock...shit now that I mention it, who wouldn't want in on that action?? Labels: Jerry Lewis - J

Monday, August 19, 2013

Garen Daly is Doing The Lord's Own Work...

the local film impresario is trying to Crowdsource to life, a feature documentary on the sadly departed Orson Welles Cinema in Harvard Square. This is a project well worth the money and long past due as well, I can recall with the simplest nostalgia literally dozens of motion pictures that I saw in that invaluable theater, "Altered States", "Dark Star", "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls", "1984", "Ran", "Liquid Sky", "Hail Mary", "ReAnimator" and on and on. This is on top of DOZENS of good and awful science fiction movies screened at the Annual 24 "It Came from the Orson Welles" marathon every February. My own obsession with the late Sifu, Orson Welles was kindled therein, I met Welles' biographer Barbara Leaming there after a screening of "The Chimes at Midnight", the whole cinema was a film schooling unto itself. On the the day the Orson Welles Cinema burned, the local film scene took a body blow from which it has yet to recover even today nigh a quarter century later. But let us not live in the past, let us learn from it, and if Garen Daly's documentary comes off, then just maybe we'll have a starting point for a real film renaissance here in Boston. Maybe I'm naive' but I think that would be a great thing to strive for...

Monday, August 12, 2013

"The Day the Clown Decried"

A seven minute "making of" clip of Jerry Lewis infamous unfinished & unreleased Magnum Opus, "The Day the Clown Cried" has turned up on Youtube. From what I can see, "The Day the Clown Cried" is what you get when you devote a full decade of your life to dancing in attendance upon Dame Demerol. I've always had a very ambivalent attitude to Jerry Lewis, he can be staggeringly funny, I freely admit it, but then he blows it by trying too hard for too long to top himself. The man's ambition is nigh perfectly balanced by his thin skin and egomania...All of which is sadly encapsulated by the above clip. Rumor was that back in the day, Jerry used to intimate to his nearest and dearest that "The Day the Clown Cried" was his secret incomplete masterpiece nowadays "Le Roi D'Crazy" confesses the whole thing was a disaster that'll never be released. So I guess...even Jerry Lewis can learn...Now if he'd only apologize to Betsy Sherman I could alibi for him with a light and tripping heart.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Late Word Comes to Us

of the sudden death at the age of seventy of the former publisher of Editorial Humor/The Boston Comic News, R. Dean Wallace. Dean gave me and my co-writer Jon Haber our first steady columnist gig and largely stood aside and allowed us to jabber on and on about anything under the sun...sans renumeration of course. What HE got was a column with a pronounced affinity for the Masterworks of Steve Reeves, the scientific mischances of Percival Lowell, The Fall and Rise of Elmer McCurdy or the subtle genius of Earl K. Long. What WE got was a priceless opportunity to perfect our craft, all the writing I have to date was the consequence of lessons I learned for better or worse under Dean Wallace's aegis. Dean was a visionary, only a visionary could have stubbornly hung on in the face of a market less and less friendly to small periodicals for nine long years. He was also supremely eccentric, difficult to negotiate with and prone to flights of fancy as the Victorians would say. But quite literally, he presided over the last Great Newspaper Adventure in the Boston Metropolitan Area, he was never a breaker of proverbs and he will give the Devil His Due. Peace to his Ashes...He will be missed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Back to the Batcave....

Putting "Batman" dead center in the proposed "Man of Steel" sequel is pretty much confession of failure on the part of the Powers That Be @ Warner Brothers. These dingbats are completely obsessed with making a "billion dollar movie" just like The Avengers, alas the Warner Brothers/DC gang are "Too Dumb to Pour Piss Out a Boot" to quote the late Lyndon Johnson. By their works shall you know them.... But in a larger sense other than Batman which one of DC's many properties is properly launched as a live action franchise? Answer NONE of them! Every time DC has infallibly chosen the wrong script, the wrong actors the wrong director Every Gawd Damned Time. Does anyone here really think if Warner Brothers were truly satisfied with "The Man of Steel" they'd be retreating to the Batcave for the second movie? I hope Brandon Routh is laughing his ass off right now...they don't dare recast the role a third time THAT would be an admission of failure...and DC never ever fails does it?? It signals a lack of faith in the Superman mythos though doesn't it? One final thought, the dominant DC motif is these days is, whenever Kal El and Bruce "team up" it's means Superman is about to be jobbed out to Batman...That is pretty much a sad acknowledgement of Batman's almighty cross platform strength and Superman's continuing creative paralysis since Chris Reeve gave up the role.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lone Ranger (2013) Directed by Gore Verbinski

Last sunday night I sat thru the latest and likely last adaptation of the legendary Lone Ranger character for the big screen. It took two hundred and fifty million dollars and a two and a half hour running time to drive home the tragic point that film-wise we have reached the prophesied end times. A worse film cannot be imagined. Stilted, arch, full of strange alleged jokes from Johnny Depp's "Tonto" (who STILL lapses into pidgin english at odd moments), a vapid performance from nominal star Armie Hammer and a berserker climax that looks like it was edited by running the celluloid thru a lawn mower. And all of this to penetrate the overseas market, a final burnt offering of an American Pop Culture Icon...rock bottom, end times, doomsday baby doomsday. I'm calling it folks, the Hollywood is finished, it has hit the auto-destruct button, they aren't dumbing down the product with endless sequels to satiate the allegedly teachable US Aud, no they are producing this dreck to entice overseas ticket buyers. Johnny Depp did well in "Pirates of the Caribbean" therefore he is literally the only actor who can credibly play Tonto in Hunan Province, Bangalore and Brasilia. And in turn this malign ethos is what destroyed The Green Hornet, John Carter of Mars, Superman The Man of Steel and now The Lone Ranger. Hollywood is no longer able to execute competent films with respect to classic adventure properties because the automatic expectation that they must be Global Tentpole Properties. Its worth remembering that back when The Lone Ranger was a low budget TV show back in the racist, sexist 1950's the Producers still somehow found a full blooded Mohawk Indian to play Tonto. Hell that "Legend of the Lone Ranger" bomb back in 1981 had a Amerind Actor playing Tonto....Now today forget about it, its either Johnny Depp or Jack Black. I hear tell, that a New Doc Savage movie is in the offing, this is quite literally a thought to chill the blood, please Ghod Hollywood don't wreck my happy nostalgic memories Ron Ely in the cheap ass misbegotten 1975 film. So keep this in mind: The tendency among high name recognition superhero movie franchises is a failure rate of about 50% (for every "Avengers" there is a "Green Lantern"). Therefore half the time the various franchises must be rebooted in any given situation and the origin "retold & reinterpreted" a fifty percent failure rate though this means whole iterations of specific characters in the movies over a generation can be nothing but a succession of origin stories. If I ran Warner Brothers etc, my first dictum would be "Nobody gives a rat's @ss about The Flash's origin"....but I don't run Warner Brothers and that organization is bound and determined NOT to learn from any of it's mistakes. Its worth recalling that Mark Hamill turned "The Trickster" into a game changer on ye olde Flash teevee show and no one thought to load the character up with a lot of origin nonsense. Ditto any number of the villains fro ye olde Batman TV show (his own origin was disposed of in exactly two sentences as I recall)... I could not begin to tell you "The Black Canary's Origin", I am sure I couldn't care less. I do care that the character gets respectful treatment...that is my investment. Well what of it, these people are hell bent for annihilation. Maybe we can still save broadcast television, too bad I watch so very little of that.

Looking forward to all the

Trayvon Martin pistol range targets at the next NRA convention... Look for em'...If they are willing to do Obama, why would mere good taste and deference to the grief of parents stand in anyone's way?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Whatever Happened to George Arliss?

Well what didn't happen to George Arliss? I mean in 1929 at the dawn of the talking picture era, he was the very first British actor to win an Academy Award and for a historic impersonation as well, Benjamin Disraeli. And what the hell he gave Bette Davis her first serious screen role in that oldest and most dependable of Forgotten Hollywood Chestnuts, The Man Who Played God in 1932. Word is, Arliss had to fight the studio to cast Davis, she was ever after grateful to the British Actor. The man had his own Hollywood repertory company,specialized in historical biopics and shaped and controlled his own films years before Orson Welles...and he is largely and unforgivably forgotten today. It might have been his age, he was past sixty when sound came it and his opportunity hit, and then again I am convinced that the DemiGods of the Early Sound Era did not always have staying power as the Golden Age Unfolded. In the 1929-1934 period the box office was dominated by names like Will Rogers, Marion Davies, Buster Keaton & Harold Lloyd were still bankable if not necessarily profitable. None of whole would still be at the top of their game by the end of the decade least of all Arliss who for a while there was playing a behind the scenes auteur's game. Still and all that, Arliss managed to produce and star in a number of high end A-List biographical films as the aforementioned Disraeli, Alexander Hamilton, Cardinal Richelieu, the Duke of Wellington and a founder of a Certain International Banking House....the man virtually invented the modern BioPic all by himself! So of course, this guy was just Made for a Channel Zero Screening! And what better film that "The House of Rothschild" (1934) which Arliss stars as Nathan Rothschild stalwart Son of Abraham, international banker and sworn foe of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington's prized paymaster. Back during the depression one suspects the only way you could make a Banker the Hero in a movie was make him the underdog, in a word, a Jew...that and make Boris Karloff his Jew-Baiting Nemesis...I mean Rothschild is up against religious prejudice and Frankenstein's Monster in one go, talk about long odds! But then as now, the Jewish Actors all play Gentiles and the Gentile Actors all play you see it's a tradition going back decades. So by all means come see the show! "The House of Rothschild" (1934) Starring George Arliss, Boris Karloff, Robert Young and Loretta Young Friday July 12th @ 8pm (sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma, 617 625 5700 Admission $ 5 (cheap!) And just try and find us on Facebook, we dare yuh! Channel Zero: Now in our 18th year of genteel cinematic transcendence! Oh we are on Facebook...somewhere....

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tippling on Independence Day Part Two...

Y'know I like "Knockabout Gin" (distilled by Ryan & Wood in Gloucester Ma), it has some bite to it. Sometimes gin per se can be a little too damn subtle it's an American Spin on a classic London Dry Gin. It mixes very well with diet tonic water and the necessary increment of ice. On the other hand, Bully Boy Vodka (certified organic distillers in Boston Ma) get along well with almost all conceivable mixers, from Pineapple Juice to Glaceau Sparking Fruitwater (zero calories)...I suspect Bully Boy Vodka might just be able to insinuate itself with Milk with an aplomb once reserved for the cadres of the Viet Cong.

Tippling on Independence Day...(Part One)

I sampled some of the Nashoba Valley Winery's "Vidal Grappa" last night, it appears to be the only brandy as yet distilled entirely within the confines of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, As such it is a surprisingly light potation with a slight fruitish taste...It mixes well with tonic water and ice to form a proper hot weather libation. "Grappa" is an Italian folk-brandy made from grape leavings of the winemaking process and can be somewhat overpowering, Nashoba Valley Spirits seems to have found a happy medium in their version of the famed potation. It is expensive stuff but well worth the drive to Bolton Mass to invest in locally produce spirits.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Jim Kelly R.I.P.

Let the record show, when Channel Zero screened "Black Belt Jones" (1974) back in 2002 at the Coolidge Corner Theater we sold some seventeen tickets for this seminal martial-arts-blaxsploitation fusion. Ah but our rule of thumb has always been that the "moral imperative to screen certain films is in no way conditioned by said film's potential box office". Suffice to say, we live up to this dictum every time we do a screening. Ah but Jim Kelly was Zen, he had Muhammad Ali's insolent bravado and the martial arts skills to back it all up. Of all the Bruce-Lee Successor-Wannabees (a eclectic assortment that starts with George Lazenby and ends next to Bruce Li) Kelly was probably the most credible. But after a mere five films he gave up on Hollywood took up professional tennis and wrapped himself in such comforting obscurity that rumors of homelessness dogged him for years. Its like he found out that "being Bruce Lee" was a fruitless ambition, my Ghod Robert Clouse must have wept. Bruce Lee though, (who was Zen like yuh read about) would have understood. In fact I myself I had to buttonhole Kelly's former costar Gloria Hendry at a con in East Rutherford New Jersey who assured me Jim was alive and well, reading scripts and turning everything down with a merry smile. Maybe word got back in him, a few years later, there was Jim Kelly at Chiller Theatre in New Jersey cheerily signing autographs. After all being Zen doesn't me you have tolerate rumors of mendicancy. Alas now too young (a mere sixty seven) Jim Kelly is dead....if there is an afterlife organized on principles of Justice then Jim Kelly and Bruce Lee are bowing to one another in the Squared Circle.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My only take away from the Whitey Bulger Trial

is that you cannot become an A-List gangster without mastering the subtle art of snitchwork. Even if you are good at it, sooner or later you run up against a situation wherein access to savage violence and huge stacks of US currency aren't gonna cut it...and at the moment of truth, you'd better know how to sing. So far the Bulger trial is like an audition call back for the Boston Straight Men's Chorus....everyone on key and singing a heartfelt ballad of former friends and business partners. These guys not only have no sense of honor they aren't even good to go with their own much hyped Code of Silence.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It comes as a final irony....

That Richard Matheson up and died the very week that his old "world of the living dead"(as posited in his novel "I Am Legend" 1954) motif reached it's logical conclusion in "World War Z", what started out as a project for the likes of Vincent Price ends up a Tentpole concept fit for Brad Pitt. Ah but that is Matheson unto the last, endlessly "homaged" in other words, the man broke ground early and often. His short stories are masterpieces of economy they ought to be in the core curriculum of any "writing speculative fiction" course on or off line. Moreover, he was one of the few all up A-List postwar fantasists with the capacity to adapt his own work with success, he proved this over and over again on "The Twilight Zone" and then all over the TV schedule during the 1960's. It is a great shame that his taut adaptation of his own book "I Am Legend" was not used by AIP in 1959 in favor of some hackwork written and shot in Rome in the weary wicked end. That original script deserves publication I'd love to get a look at it. Y'know, I have a theory, will never be a faithful adaptation of "I Am Legend" until some decides on a Fan Film version. I mean think on it, there are maybe five speaking parts, all you need is a secluded house as the prime setting, some zombie extras and plenty of brio. And at the age of eighty seven, he lived to have dozens of his ideas homaged and or just plain galling as it sounds, that can be a life well lead...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Channel Zero Returns to the Somerville Theatre, Friday July 12th at 8pm!

In a summer abjectly surrendered to Zombies, Superheroes and Seth Rogen, Channel Zero attempts counterintuitive programming with an epic screening of: “The House of Rothschild” (1934) Starring George Arliss, Boris Karloff Robert Young, Alan Mowbray & Loretta Young EUROPE: 1815 – Is it just possible that the only person who stands between Napoleon Bonaparte and World Domination is a Little Jewish Financier from London named Nathan Rothschild? Golden Age Hollywood’s first great character actor George Arliss stars in this rare Historic Biopic as the real life banker who battled both Tyranny and Anti-Semitism! Friday July 12th @ 8pm (sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma, 617 625 5700 Admission $ 5 (cheap!) And just try and find us on Facebook, we dare yuh! Channel Zero: Now in our 18th year of genteel cinematic transcendence!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mensch and Ubermensch...

When Will Smith's superhuman "Hancock" tore up the town in a quest for Justice...indictments were handed down, mandatory sentencing was imposed! In contrast Henry Cavill's Superman wrecked two US municipalities trying to bring down "General Zod"....and with all that damage and casualties, no one thought to call the Justice Department. It's GOOD to be the White Superhero! OKAY! I'm kidding!! Kidding! I kid!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Man of Steel (2013) Directed by Zack Snyder

Somewhere in the Warner Brothers entertainment complex, perfect superhero scripts are written with the right blend of action, adventure, wonderment and escapism. These scripts are then sent down deep underground to a secure bunker where a trained chimp armed with a 12 gauge shotgun blasts away indiscriminately at the text until it is literally in tatters and riddled with plot holes. That script is then reverently handed over to the captioned director with the admonition he may not deviate one jot from what is therein written. How else to account for "The Man of Steel" a film whose half baked conceit is to turn Siegel and Shuster's creation into a sort of second rate "Wolverine" Wannabee...Warner Brothers is apparently desperate to take Kal El into a new direction In the Very Worst Way and by Ghod they have done it! This is a terrible film, long at times tedious, two thirds of it is utterly incoherent, the last quarter is a bewildering "square up reel" in which Superman's arch nemesis "General Zod" the superhuman Kryptonian General reduce both Smallville and Metropolis in an epic brawl. It looks great but after a while the mind wanders and you start mentally tallying up the hypothetical casualties until some very sobering thoughts are entertained indeed. I'm not even gonna justify it on grounds that it's a good cast undone by a uneven ill conceived script, I'll cut to the chase and simply note that Henry Cavill is fine as Superman but he brings nothing to the role that Brandon Routh didn't offer back in 2006, Michael Shannon's Zod although armed with a better motivation than is usually the case is not gonna make anyone forget Terrence Stamp. This seems to be the summer for second rate early eighties supervillainy tedium and unorginality all in one short season...marvelous. Amy Adams was a bit of fresh air as Lois Lane but she is only that, given the sheer carnage indulged and Superman and Zod really have to wonder what the hell she sees in the guy after seventy five years. This is the sort of mishaugas you get when you are desperate to break with past practice but have no real ideas about where you wanna go coupled with highly unrealistic expectations...And still this Sumbitch made two hundred million this weekend, given the sheer morose shellacking Superman's character took in this one, it'll be interesting to see if those numbers go up. Frankly thoughthe rumors are Chris Nolan and Director Zack Snyder are being groomed as the creatives to bring DC's Justice League of America to the big screen at long last...and if this is so and "The Man of Steel" is any indication, THIS is a thought to chill the blood!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Across Cambridge: A Brief Unused Itinerary for an Out of Towner on the Fly....

1.) The Maritime Museum at M.I.T. A small but well organized collection of professionally ship models. It is otherwise a good showcase of an art form that if it hasn't been abolished by digital imaging it soon will be. The scale model of the "USS President" alone is worth the trip. 2.) Either Central Square or Inman Square...a decision that would have to be made on the fly. In Central there is "Rodney's Bookstore" one of the last independent publisher overstock/used bookstores left on Mass Ave (an empire that once stretched from the Back Bay out to Route 128). For shits and grins we can stop in at the Pandemonium Bookstore, which shells fantasy and SF exclusively, these days it is a front for marathon RPGs. Not sure just how they make their money quite frankly. My parents grew up in and around Central Square, it has been trying to "class up" since 1936 with little luck, it'll fruitlessly continue this process right up until perdition. 3.) If Not Central, Then Inman: Home of the "Lorum Ipsum Bookstore" a gathering place for the last of the amateur "zine writers" of Metro Boston. Small but good collection of vintage pulp paperbacks. Also home of the "S&S Deli", lunch here is still considered a corporal work of mercy in the Dioceses of Boston. Targets of opportunity "The Zeitgeist Station" and "The Lily Pad", they might be open and they might have interesting art therein displayed who knows? 4.) Harvard Square: Across Cambridge Common on Foot perhaps a look see into the remnants of the Coop, definitely a stop in at the "Million Year Picnic" (if only to paw thru their collection of pulp fiction). A stroll thru Harvard Yard, the Steps of the Widener Library by which to briefly gawk at the progeny of the overclass, Memorial Hall and the cheesy-ass student center under it. There is no point in seeing The Harvard Film Archive unless somehow something worthwhile is being screened, the building is unremarkable and given over to modern art exhibitions for the most part. Oh and of course "The Harvard Bookstore" best used book outlet left in Cambridge, I buy a lot of stuff here, it's ability to beguile should not be underestimated. Oh and the Grolier Poetry Bookshop round the corner, if only because they still believe. Targets of opportunity, The Porcellian, well hidden Harvard Frat composed well heeled layabouts. In Your Ear Records, an actual for real used record store! The Harvard Lampoon which is off limits to helotry but nice to look all the same. And then there is the Mount Auburn Cemetery, last resting place of the Brahmin Elite of Boston, a class of cold unyielding people given over to austere theology and self denial...when they died after a lifetime of eschewing all immodesty they'd be buried under a two ton replica of the Sphinx or perhaps if of a retiring disposition the Temple of Athena. See it all soon, a lot of it is bound to vanish over the short term.

Good Frickin' Riddance...

To the CBS national telecast of the 4th of July Pops Concert. They always pushed the fireworks off til after ten O'Clock and turned the evening into an endurance test for television viewers and attendees alike. And worse the CBS contract brought in just enough money to warrant scheduling a marquee headliner, INEVITABLY it was some unctuous country western shitkicker singer whose sole reason for doing the Esplanade Concert was to reassure viewers in Houston Texas and Marion Ohio that a gol-durned Patriot was a singin' ta the heathenish liberals in Boston. Condescending and transparent to say the least. Boston, You Are Stronger Without em!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Grace Note on a Sunday Afternoon

"I don't think God wants to be worshipped. I think the only pure worship of God is by loving one another, and I think all other forms of worship become a substitute for the love we should show one another." Charles M. Schulz

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Dr. Who News...

Per this link Matt Smith is calling it quits as the BBC's long running Time Lord. If they can't get Chow Yun Fat (think of it, Chow Yun Fat IS "Dr. Wu") then I say go whole hog with Alexei Sayle.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Pick of the Week

Hands Down it belongs to Sean Connery as James Bond 007 in "From Russia with Love" screening at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square tonight at 7pm. Somewhere on my bucket list (next to a driving trip to Marion OH to see Warren Harding's federalist style tomb) is a heartfelt desire to see ALL the Connery Bonds on a the big screen as God Almighty Intended. When I was a wee Justin, I had to make do with the "ABC Sunday Night Movie" don'cha know. AND IF You are of a Bohemian disposition with rarified tastes, then you may then wanna ease your way over to the Harvard Film Archive where at 12:15 am EDT they are actually screening Jack Benny in "The Horn Blows at Midnight", wherein Jack plays the angel seconded by the Almighty to blow the Horn heralding Armageddon...this is actually a comedy, who sez the Golden Age of Hollywood admitted no surrealism??

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Brief Thought Experiment for Trekkies and Trekkers....

Can anyone out there recall ANY quotable dialogue from Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan Noonian Singh (AKA The World's Whitest Sikh) in the new Star Trek Movie? Now cast your mind back to "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan", be it bombastic or campy or whatever almost every one of Ricardo Montalban's scenes as Khan are infused with memorable lines. He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia, and round the Antares Maelstrom, and round Perdition's flames before I give him up! Prepare to alter course!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Moment of Silence on Memorial Day

For all Absent Friends, the Fallen Soldiers of the United States and in particular PFC Francis Leo Galligan Sr of the 168th Combat Engineers Battalion. *** And just a quick shout out to the Young Marines and Boy Scout Troop #114 of Bedford Ma, they helped out tremendously at the Bedford VA Hospital's annual Memorial Service.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Y'know, ever noticed how Leonardo DiCaprio tends to play these tragic type strivers in the movies? So why wouldn't he play Jay Gatsby...modern lit's quintessential Jazz Age social climber, I mean it's typecasting at this point after J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes and whatziname on the Titanic? As a matter of fact I'm not I'd cast anyone else as Gatsby at this point he has that weird lack of affect that easily matches Fitzgerald's somewhat furtive protagonist. So the real question is, what is to be made of Baz Luhrmann's lurid glitzy party scenes with their liberal doses of rap music and sundry decadence. Me? I'm fine with it, look "The Great Gatsby" is a novel about a striver's failed attempt to penetrate the overclass and carry off a rather hapless inbred bimbo, period end of story. Sans some morbid decadence and a little flash it can fall into endless talk punctuated by drinking and then wrapped up with a fatal car accident & a shooting. If you don't believe me check out the 1949 adaptation starring Alan Ladd wherein someone at Twentieth Century Fox decided F. Scott Fitzgerald's almighty classic was a sort of high end gangster story with a sniffy attitude towards adultery. I liked the performances all around blank affectless Carey Mulligan was j'es fine as Daisy the same goes for Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton and nigh unrecognizable Isla Fisher as the hapless floozie Myrtle Wilson. My main takeaway from the film and book (finally read the book BTW about a month ago) is that the Overclass is decadent depraved and damn near invincible. Jay Gatsby the aspiring bootlegger the feckless lover of the dissolute Daisy is defeated in all things brought down by desperate love and a sense of honor utterly foreign to his rivals in the Gentry. Ah guess dats what make's em' classics I guess. Y'know, there are two classics out there that are just beggin' for adaptation to the films, Melville's Moby Dick and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, I can see Baz Luhrmann doing well by either work.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Newport Revisited....

Let the record show that Newport RI is no kind of town in which to occasion a flat tire. From bitter experience I can tell you all a flat tire on my part occasioned the intervention of the local police to stay one step ahead of a mob of outraged gallery owners and incensed boulevardiers. Ah but the wealthy are different than you and I, they have more money as the old saw goes. And the very smell of money, like old fermented cherry blossoms virtually permeates the whole town despite every attempt by balmy sea breezes to chase it away even temporarily. Its a town proud of it's Yacht Races ergo NASCAR for Trust Fund Set. And yet I don't think a single one of the vast robber baron estates (ironically called "cottages" by their Gilded Age Owners) was built by any species we'd regard as an Honest Man. It is a town that is prideful and utterly unconcerned with it's own hypocrisy. Here is pictured The Marble House built by William Vanderbilt at the behest of his wife Alva, an outspoken turn of the century suffragette. Alva was a pistol, spent lavishly on the cause of women's rights back when the notion of enfranchisement was a joke...none of this prevented Alva from all but forcing her daughter Consuela to marry the cash strapped Duke of Marlborough in blatant display of 19th century Familial Force Majeure. Or take it another way, Alva the women's rights crusader happily denied her own daughter one of her few inalienable rights all to take sheer social climbing to a New Level. Newport Rhode Island abounds in stories like these...For truly the rich are as rampant in their whims as the poor, that is truly what unites them. Ah but the Cliff Walk is still a tonic for the soul, you can stride along and admire the profane works of prideful man and still worship the pulsing ocean like a proper cro-magnon. It is a beautiful town, but it has a terrible "object lesson" to it's beauty. But if you get a chance, do check out the Naval Warfare College Museum, it virtually starts with Themistocles and ends up with age of remote piloted drones and the Nuclear Navy. Hell thats worth a drive down to Rhode Island any old day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

So far...

Iron Man Three was a bust and Star Trek Into Darkness a complete bust, I sure do hope that I can see a movie this summer that I can enjoy and champion on line....starting to get worried.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

It may be that the final downfall of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek can be neatly symbolized by the sudden appearance of peaked military caps on Starfleet uniforms giving Kirk, Spock & McCoy an uncanny resemblance to Amtrak Conductors. Gene Roddenberry's Starfleet, was dedicated to peace, justice, freedom and exploring the universe...and NO HATS! Visored military chapeaus and a sadly superlative cast, seem to be director J.J. Abrams sole contribution to the Star Trek mythos as the rest of this much hyped film consists of "greatest hits" pay off scenes extracted shamelessly from the prior ten Star Trek Features. Loud, frantic and ultimately cautious sums up this film. Having broken with all past practice and successfully recast one of the most iconic sci fi crews in history, given license to do anything with the franchise, director J.J. Abrams retreats into the past trots out the whitest least Sikh like Khan Noonian Singh in history (pasty faced Benedict Cumberbatch) and makes with the CGI chases and firefights. I'm calling it folks, if you want Star Trek to still be Star Trek we are gonna haveta let go of J.J. Abrams, he is making blockbuster movies for the world market, not reviving a real science fiction property. The sad thing is, I love this cast, Chris Pines was born to play Captain Kirk every bit as much as William Shatner, Zachary Quinto has literally found an even finer line dividing logic from emotion than even Leonard Nimoy and Karl Urban IS Doctor McCoy (even if he is largely unforgivably sidelined in this film)...the rest of the actors are amazing in every way and they struggle with this mishaugas with the utmost grace, but the script simply lets them down...They may was well be doing "Radar Men from the Moon". There is something I need to make clear here, we all laugh at the earnestness of Gene Roddenberry's liberal technocratic utopian with it's naive brushes with The Big Issues of the Times, but we live in the shadow of it nonetheless...however much one may mock it, it is still the least worrisome sci fi utopia on public record. But without those Brushes with the Big Issues, however rightly or wrongly or foolishly they may be rendered, Star Trek becomes Space Patrol, it was a Space Patrol movie I saw last night at the Mendon Drive In, not Star Trek as it ought to be.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Iron Man III" (2013) duly reviewed....

Given a choice between sitting thru "Iron Man III", and sitting quietly at home hitting myself over the head repeatedly with a bungstarter, I shoulda gone rooting around my cellar for the fabled cudgel of my Late Father's Youth. And to think, I could have seen "The Great Gatsby" at the Drive In instead, a decision I fear will haunt me all the rest of my days. I liked the Iron Man III cast well enough, Downey is superlative as always whilst Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce have to limp along at mere excellence but all and sundry are done in by an incoherent script and joyless direction...oh and Tony Stark's inward motivation PTSD...his outward motivation, genetically engineered lava-men. I mean geez this is what we got to work with, Lava-Men cribbed from the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea playbook? I don't really know where Marvel goes from here, clearly utter mediocrity is no barrier to big box office...dreck like this only encourages them to do even less next time. Oh and supposedly director Shane Black has been tapped to direct a Doc Savage adaptation, lets hope he was saving his A-Game for that project thats all I can say.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Death of a Sorcerer....

Let the record show that the only artist with a more interesting list of unrealized projects than the late Ray Harryhausen was the late Orson Welles. War of the Worlds? Sinbad on Mars? Wrath of the Titans? Ya had me from the Git Go. Ah but Ray was famously irascible, I think the sheer wearisome burden of pitching upwards to two perfectly good ideas for every one that got approved just got him down after a while. And sadly he lived just long enough to see his chosen venue of artistic-technical expression become a veritable museum piece. Surpassed by a vast allocation of computer programmability all great looking but about as spontaneous and surprising as a granite block. That by the way, is Harryhausen's lasting achievement in stop motion animation he made everyone from Mighty Joe Young to the reptilian Ymir to Gwangi the Allosaurus, mechanical models all, into actors creature seemingly capable of spontaneity. If you don't believe me screen "Twenty Million Miles to Earth" someday on a double bill with "Jurassic Park". Spielberg's dinosaurs are lovingly, realistically rendered and are utterly affectless and charmless in every way. Harryhausen's brutish Ymir from Venus fairly breathes pathos, he is like Stanley Kowalski on a last drunken tear thru the streets. And that, making mere rubber and metal armatures into performers with subtle traits, remains Harryhausen's lasting achievement. So I'd like to reiterate once again a humble plea to the Harvard Film Archive to dedicate some screening time this summer to this great artist's work.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


THE DRIVE INS ARE OPEN!!! Oh Thank Ghod I thought this winter would never end!!! Check the links on the right for details and lets cue up the Official Drive In Theme Music...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Massachusetts Uber Alles

Oh Massachusetts, how I love you. When the klaxons go off and shit is going down you never ever flinch. The Earth may open beneath our feet, a river of fire may rise to consume us all, furies will scream down from the Heavens Above, but you will abide by your duty unto The Last. From The Bronx to The Pacific, they heap scorn on us, but you don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks of the Commonwealth, not in Good Times Nor in Catastrophe. Not once in this last endless testing week did anyone self recriminate or second guess or chicken out and when the bombs went off the citizenry of this Commonwealth literally rode to the Sound of the Guns En Masse. You are Proud and Vain Massachusetts, but you will go down fighting long long after everyone else has quit. Massachusetts, you are indomitable. The Other Forty Nine have "lifestyles" and "Attitudes", But Massachusetts has Principles,oft mocked for them, now for a little while will deserved credit be reaped. Inscrutable Providence has tested us and we were not found lacking....I know that reads awfully bombastic but that is how I feel. When it is my turn, bury me anywhere, from the Berkshires to Provincetown, bury me beneath a toxic waste site in Brockton if it comes to that, but Bury Me in the Commonwealth...The Home of the Brave.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Anniversary Superman...

Seventy Five Years Ago Today (or so) Action Comics #1 starring Superman was published at once establishing a whole new publishing industry the American Comics and putting super heroes on the metaphoric map in one swell foop. I freely admit I've always been a "Superman Person", he is the promised of swift incorruptible retribution for wrongdoing, his origin is simple which makes him the perfect adventure character, infinitely malleable and yet somehow "mystically the same" to borrow a phrase from Orwell. Ah but in the midst of triumph there is always the savage thread of catastrophe, Superman's creator's Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster got cheated out of their copyright and pretty much ended up penniless while their character went on rack up a quarter of a billion dollars in profits over a generation or so. Defrauding Siegel and Shuster pretty much set a ruthless exploitive benchmark for the comic book industry that persists and overshadows all and sundry to this day. Ah but Kal El, he is a game changer he took four or five disparate tropes and fused them all into something new and different, would to God I had even one creative notion half so bold and pure. Happy Seventy Fifth Big Guy!