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.