Sunday, December 28, 2014
I wanna like "Gotham" I really do...but sans the Caped Crusader (who is here depicted in his boyhood by some unmemorable little twerp)all we have to carry the series is the young Detective James Gordon who is fated to become Batman's most Ardent Enabler, Police Commissioner Gordon. Here is my point it is counterintuitive, so brace yourselves....Who The Hell Gives a Rat's Ass about James Gordon OR his Goddamned Back Story? I know I don't. It is akin to entire big budget television series devoted to the Amazing Adventures of Inspector Lestrade or the Action Packed Saga of Miss Moneypenny. Otherwise....Gotham seems to be a well cast show whose creative high point will be a sort of scherzo on "The Sopranos" with nascent big name super villains instead of New Jersey Mafioso. The concept does nothing for me but we have "Smallville" to thank for the notion that super hero shows WITH NO SUPERHEROES IN THEM are inherently popular and profitable.
Friday, December 19, 2014
when he says that we have just allowed a Foreign Despot (Komrade Kim Jong Un of the North Korean People' Democratic Republic) to terrorize Sony to the point where they have pulled Seth Rogen's latest comedy "The Interview" from distribution. He makes the entirely sensible observation that is an ominous example of the abrogation of the First Amendment at the whim of the same Komrade Kim, Dictator of North Korea. Lets get something clear here, we've been letting The First Amendment get awfully shopworn and tattered lately, between the Patriot Act, NSA eavesdropping and certain practices favored by Hollywood Studios to curry favor in authoritarian markets (exp. the remake of "Red Dawn" where the bad guys went from Chinese to North Korean in the blink of a pixel thus ensuring the ongoing tolerance of the Middle Kingdom for said film's producers). It simply fell to Kim's Despicable Regime To Take the Next Step and really administer a beatdown to Sony...and you know what? WE LET IT HAPPEN! Listen...all of the first amendment intersects with pure commerce, a certain amount of free speech is therefore created in order to make someone somewhere a pile of money, nevertheless THAT SPEECH MUST NEEDS BE PROTECTED AS MUCH AS THE POSTINGS OF THIS OBSCURE BLOG!!! And we didn't do that. We let Sony chicken out along with the theater chains...on nothing more than a threat. I don't know what is going to happen on the Korean Peninsula, my only policy thereon is simple "Make Sure Our Word is Good and Our Powder is Dry", more than that may not be possible at this juncture. I do know however that we cannot allow a foreign despot any veto over our First Amendment Rights no matter how commercially driven they may be, any more than we should allow the NSA to snoop in our emails or permit predator drones to kill US Nationals on Foreign Soil. ALL these things degrade the law and our protections under the Bill of Rights....we've built up quite an arsenal it's the wonder of the world, I do not give Komrade Kim long odds on the battlefield if he wants to test that notion...but lets start protecting the First Amendment here at home with the exact same ferocity.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Last week at the Annual Meeting of the Boston Society of Film Critics, Channel Zero was voted a Commendation for our nigh twenty year long commitment to repertory film screenings and offbeat movies in general. That is All Well and Good, Channel Zero is duly grateful, after twenty years of Genteel Obscurity (and too many venues to count) we could use a little positive press attention. Thanks to everyone who spoke up on our behalf and who voted for us.... However if'n you look at that link, the Award Winner on the repertory circuit locally is The Harvard Film Archive, like across the board! Clearly we are gonna need to Punch Above Our Weight if we ever hope to move up in the ranks. :) Still it is as good a time as any to pause and reflect hard to believe all this started on VHS in the bowels of the now departed Liberty Cafe in Central Square... Now look at us, twenty year older and still clinging to the side of the same damn burning lifeboat. :)
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
I wanna like this show, "The Flash" is one of those dependable B-List DC super heroes who single skill set (super speed) is endlessly shoe-hornable into almost any conceivable comic book challenge. And then there is The Flash's rogue's gallery, maybe not as notorious as Batman's, but a dependable collection of one-trick ponies, mad scientists and at least one sentient gorilla...better known more popular super heroes get by with worse for antagonists (COUGH Spider-Man COUGH!) Alas the nominal star of this show, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash....is a little too short and a little too young looking to pull off forensic scientist for the local PD. That is a minor quibble. my main beef lies in the show's odd structure which mandates that it is a very very formulaic super hero show (that draws A LOT from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer) until the last five minutes when Barry Allen's trusted mentor Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) does some secretive heavy handed thing to indicate to the aud that He May Not Be On The Side of Righteousness. Its all very ominous and mysterious but you have to wade thru fifty minutes of Nothing New to get there. Then again what do I apparently this show is cleaning up in the ratings producer Greg Berlanti is a new wunderkinder of TV with three hit shows this season ("Arrow" and "The Mysteries of Laura" being the other two) with more on the way.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I'm not numb to the film's drawbacks (languid pace, a solid turn by Emma Stone that is also frustratingly superfluous, Ed Norton's on and off lisp)...But Every Middle Aged Man has that god-awful Birdman voice in his head berating him, telling him he could be A God and Fly Above the Rabble If Only He Could Stop Getting Old! For that moment alone, Michael Keaton deserves an Oscar Nomination.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
"Take Me to the Movies!!" barked the Jungle Girl from the safety of a vine outside my kitchen window. "And why should I do that Oh Princess of the Treetops?" japed I. "Because I can summon Pteradactyls, Tigers and the General Counsel's Office of the Department of Fisheries!" needled the Blonde Vine Swinger. And so we went to the movies, that is the problem with Jungle Girls, they are Perpetually on the Bum. *** Mark Landis has a psychosis...he produces painstaking copies of museum quality artwork (sometimes by very transparent means) and then donates them gratis to all sorts of museums and galleries thru out the Southwest. Because he has never accepted so much as a penny for his rampant compulsive fakery, Landis has never yet been indicted for fraud despite the fact that he routinely makes his donations under an alias (at one point he impersonates a Jesuit!) and is saddled with a spectrumy personality that makes PeeWee Herman look like the Godfather of Soul. Per this exhaustive documentary, Landis lives in a cluttered condo spending his days faking everything from religious icons to Dr. Seuss drawings. And to me, as a thwarted artist of some vintage it is an ineffably sad story, because Landis has genuine talent, he is part of that mystical minority of art lover who can gaze at a masterpiece and really get something out of it. Alas though, his talent is completely dominated and ultimately nullified by his copy-and-donate psychosis, indeed it seems clear to me that he cannot express his deepest artistic impulses any other way. You see this sometime in the farthest corners of what is "geek culture" extremely able costume designers or talented writers of fan fiction who are content to simply replicate with exactitude other people's fantasies. In Landis' case talent that could bring him gallery shows or a respectable position in an advertising agency or a king hell head start on an outlaw artist run...is instead making donations of fraudulent art simply to feel the love. That in turn ties into the perpetual credulity of museums they wanna believe badly amidst all the commerce that attends on the art world in the essential goodness of the gratis donation. So in a way, whenever Landis pulls off this scam two compulsions are being satisfied.
Monday, October 06, 2014
There is a strange circularity to the Affairs of Men. Consider Nick Cage and Ben Affleck, a scant ten years ago Cage was still at the top of his game commanding twenty million dollar paydays...Ben Affleck was mired in junk like "Pearl Harbor" and "Gigli"...his career well on it's way to becoming a punchline. Now today, the exact reverse, Cage is reduced to doing Xian Revenge Porn (Xian Revenge Porn that is a REMAKE of a Kirk Cameron Baptist Revenge Fantasy) while Affleck opens in the biggest movie of the Fall ("Gone Girl") when he isn't cavorting on some soundstage as Batman. What happened? Who knows? This sort of shit happens all the time in Hollywood...It is just sad to see an actor with Cage's props corrupting his talent in such a seedy boring vehicle...Is he that desperate for the money? "Left Behind" isn't a good movie, it's cheap looking and rigid Xian post apocalyptic fantasy that mostly plays out as an airline disaster movie....Cage looks thoroughly humiliated in all his scenes. The actress playing his daughter (the inevitable Kiwi Cassi Thomson) has some chops though, she might have a career going forward but her agent needs to be waaaa-ay more discerning her projects...The kid is twenty one, her career can still be saved. The rest of the cast are well meaning nonentities likely attached to the film for reasons of religious sentiment. I have one question about The Rapture (the sudden disappearance of "The Saved" prior to the arrival of the Anti Christ)...babies all disappear (cuz they are innocent I guess) but their mom's many of whom, fed them, clothed them, protected them, sacrificed for them....they stay behind to get eaten by the UN Security Council or Chicago Community Activists or something? In a word...misogyny.
Sunday, October 05, 2014
Let the record show that in the end, Joan Rivers lived and died a convinced and committed Monarchist. In that she fervently believed in the Ascendancy of Taste, Style, Olde Fashioned Glamor and Charisma as exuded by an Elite Aristocracy of Hollywood Notables...and very likely in her heart of hearts she believed in the semi divinity of Ron & Nancy Reagan. A comedian though, can never be a convinced Monarchist, they run the risk of becoming mere Court Jesters. Joan's solution to this was simple and elegant she cloaked her Royalist Pretensions completely by becoming The Comedienne Who Never Apologizes for Her Caustic One Liners. This was sheer brilliance, reaped all sorts of some undeserved street cred from her fellow comedians (a famously undiscerning lot)and made her millions. Of course, I have to note....that the mental institutions of this country are full of people who never ever apologize for their behavior. Just sayin'. Joan had a similar move with her pro-gay rhetoric that won her a profitable constituency and very successfully cloaked her otherwise conventional wingnut politics. And so there she lies, Joan Rivers, Glamor Worshipper and GOP Camp Follower...uncloseted at last. Well now maybe her Daughter Melissa can escape Sidekick Status & stop going to those terrible 3rd rate plastic surgeons her mother foisted on her....poor girl is starting to look like she was carved from low grade wood. And no I'm not apologizing for that one. Toodles!
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Friday October 3rd at 8p (sharp) in the cozy screening room of the Somerville Theatre 55 Davis Square Somerville with a screening of.... "THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND" (!929) Lionel Barrymore stars in this silent steampunk classic as Captain Nemo whose super submarine The Nautilus is hijacked by a Balkan Dictator and taken to the sunken City of Atlantis. Based on the classic novel by Jules Verne with a few sea monsters, sentient amphibians and even a girl thrown in for Good Measure! Admission: $7.50 (cheap!) Three Years in the making and unseen in Boston for Eighty Five Years!!
Monday, September 15, 2014
The Jungle Girl came hanging around my window last night she lives in a vast unexplored tropical rain forest that straddles the border between Arlington and Belmont Massachusetts. Since she "Stands the Watch over the Lost Land of Spirits" she offered me a choice of obituaries...Denny Miller or Joan Rivers. Ever the scion of Republican Simplicity, I chose the late Tarzan Actor...after all, Joan Rivers had Howard Stern...but the Late Denny Miller has but me. The Jungle Girl smiled nodded and rode the vines back to her Fabled Lost City, for now, her mission was complete. *** Cuz I got a line on the guy not mentioned in any of the obits... Because let the record show that Channel Zero gathered what was likely the lastpaying audience to watch one of the Late Denny Miller's performances back in July when we screened an ep of "Mona McCluskey" as part of our "Riot Girls of the Great Society" program. And it's just ironic to note, that Miller left the basketball court at UCLA to become a screen Tarzan (in MGM's awful 1959 remake "Tarzan the Ape Man") and then spent the rest of his career goofing his own heroic image...meanwhile the original film itself languishes in complete obscurity no one seems to have it. Ah but Denny was proof positive you didn't have to be in a good Tarzan movie to Make Good, look at Lex Barker...he ended up working with Fellini. Fate was not quite so kind to Denny he had to make do with stooging it up with Peter Sellers in "The Party" (1969) among some two hundred TV appearances and stint as the "Gorton's Fisherman"...On the Other Hand, Denny never descended to the dregs of doing "The Celebrity Apprentice"...cuz frankly Trump would've been lucky to have him.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Who is John Galt? He is an actor named Kristoffer Polaha whose chin has the contours suggestive of Mount Washington on a clear summer's day and eyes that exude the sincerity that make or break hemorrhoid cream adverts. And that...is the Libertarian Man on Horseback. I'll probably go to my grave wondering if anyone volunteered their services and talents gratis for this the third and final chapter in the misbegotten film adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel & notorious libertarian screed. Because it would be ironic that charity that virtue derided by all true Randians was the vital component to bring Ayn Rand's Magnum Opus to the screen and so very ineptly as well. Because the god-damned thing was nothing but a fan film... a bad one at that. Rob "Northern Exposure" Morrow is allegedly in this film, as a still photo (guess the Objectivist Power Elite couldn't afford his price to walk around on camera)...and he is the most recognizable name on the roster! Which is an excellent precis of the film's problems, a no name cast fit for a freeze dried coffee commercial and a budget of some five million dollars a paltry sum ill spent. Objectivists are obsessed with a personifying a self selected self celebrating intellectual elite, the libertarian herrenvolk...but give them five million large and sure enough they made a hash of their Guru's Personal Gospel. They have no one to blame but themselves. Now,don't blame the budget, blame the resentful envious mediocrities behind this project, you give five million to Orson Welles you'll get "King Lear"...and one for the ages...but these guys attract no talent on the scale of the late "Citizen Kane" director. Hell you give five million and this very meshugginah script to Roger Corman and he'll deliver something worthwhile, that boyo knows how to make a nickel squeak and get it all up on the screen. Hell, Mussolini's Blackshirts adapted Rand's novel "We The Living" and managed to generate a prototype neorealist document...but these jobbers? Phhfft! But this sovereign irony is at the core of Objectivism, a cult of rugged individualist genius that invariably attracts tepid insecure cubicle crawlers.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
It is funny but, my "generation voices" were less musicians and or rockers and to me at least mostly comedians, for stand up was amidst a sort of revolution when I came of age...the range of course ran from Judy Tenuta, Paula Poundstone and all the way out to a very young Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Wright and presiding over them the veritable Jester King, the Supreme Mxyztplk, was Robin Williams the Poet Laureate of Stand Up. He was the Guy they all envied, not for his success so much as his limitless store of energy, conjuration & raw chutzpah (even if he strayed into Joke Theft, a common disease of comedians, just ask Red Skelton). And it is just ineffably sad to note, that he took his own life, something that doesn't really as an altogether surprise. The man was a phenomenon and a game changer...let that be his epitaph. Let us leave OFF the tombstone the many many bad films he made, for example "Patch Adams", "Mrs Doubtfire" & "Hook" (a veritable trilogy of Mawkishness...fit to serve only as enhanced interrogation options in CIA Black Prisons all over the globe)... At the height of this cataract of sentimentality, you could check your watch at the one hour and forty five minute mark of a Robin Williams' movie for the moment when he broke down the fourth wall and addressed the film audience itself to deliver The Moral of the Story "Mork Calling Orson" style. I mean he did this in something like seven films over a span of fifteen years you'd think he'd put a stop to it, but no...Robin hectored on and on. It is important to recall that in "The Great Dictator" (1940) at the very end, Chaplin turned and addressed his audience about the horrors of totalitarianism and the ineffable possibilities of peace, he did this because he thought Civilization itself was coming to an end. Robin on the other hand routinely used a divine gift for persuasion and improvisation to extoll of merits of being nice to old people, making time for Family and the virtues of puppies...in short he deployed a Gift from the Gods to shore up shoddy manipulative scriptwriting. Well what of it? He got an Oscar for a straight dramatic performance, ("Good Will Hunting"), but likely deserved it even moreso for The Genie in "Alladin"....I mean whoever heard of a improv performance in an Animated Film?? In concert there was no one better...Hell in the interview environment there was no one better, in both respects Williams much resembles the late Peter Sellers who simply saw the most routine chat show appearance as a performance venue. If Joke Stealing and Moralizing were crimes then the careers of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Milton Berle & beyond would come to end with a soft puff of smoke...and then where would we be? We've already lost Robin Williams let us reduce the ranks no further.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
It hasn't quite been the exercise in futility that was Last Summer's movies...we've even seen Woody Allen play a pimp of all things. One has to take grace where one can find it. Meanwhile before it skids off to basic cable, seriously get out to see Duane "The Rock" Johnson as Hercules. Surprisingly this is, short of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" the best action movie I've seen all summer. Granted The Rock is no actor, he struggles to rise to the level of snarky insolence exuded by Bruce Willis...but cast him as Hercules in a film that treats Greek Hero's supernatural origins with charming ambiguity and the Grappler's natural talent for irony kicks in just fine. And what the hell, it's been a hangover of a summer...nothing akin to last summer's Gotterdammerung...but no great indicator of Great Things to Come Either. In short The Rock was born to play Hercules....just as Woody Allen was born to play a Pimp...if they could somehow rock it in the same film Hollywood itself might be saved...if there is anything left saving that is.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
A call from far off Niftyborough New Hampshire "Ever been to the Museum of Russian Icons?" "Ahhh no I'm a non practicing catholic not a non practicing eastern orthodox..." "A shame because there is an exhibit of Soviet Era Propaganda Posters at said Museum in Clinton Ma!" "Woman please! Fire up your Curtis P-40 Warhawk and meet me there!!" (For once Rebecca Cathcart-Monet, Air Marquesa of the Granite State let me play the aggressor...whence but undergraduates we'd taken student tours of the Olde Soviet Union and had some insight into the topic at hand). *** As always Ms Cathcart Monet executed one of her perfect three point landings on Clinton's town common...swung down resplendent in a light silk summer weight organdy flight suit and flying helmet. "Tres chic!" I offered. "feckless charmer" she chided. *** Inside the iconic poster art from out the ruins of the USSR was on display: "Good Ghod...like a totalitarians they have this obsession with visually activated ideological content...four word slogans...punchy images, primary colors.." mused the aviatrix. "Well the bolsheviks started out with a largely illiterate society one that venerated painted icons, so their propaganda reflected that context." spake I. "Look at this Cosmonaut poster...the pose is quasi religious, the soyuz rocket in the background forms a defacto church spire this is an Icon By Any Other Name" jabbed Rebecca. "Well the Bolsheviks made a mistake common to intellectual ideologues, they couldn't destroy religion they simply supplanted it, it yet still kept revealed religion's drawbacks & limitations" I opined. We viewed numerous posters highlighting the "vital work" the border patrols a none too subtle celebration of the USSR's status as a closed society...and the nasty ubiquitous busts depicting Lenin's fixed scowl and Stalin's bestial smirk. "And yet...look at all this artwork depicting a equitable just Socialist Utopia...and on the same wall Mealy Mouthed PSA's denouncing drunkeness, delinquency and absenteeism...that alone tells you what the CPSU truly feared" mused the Aeronautess. "Oh Agreed...PSAs are windows to the National Soul" I rejoined. "These guys remind me so much of the Futurists...except they truly worshipped machines, steel mills, hydroelectric dams, ICBMs, jet planes, unlike the futurists who had a totemist relationship with technology...the CPSU literally celebrated the coming Homo Societicus as a kind of grinning cyborg"...concluded Ms Cathcart-Monet. "Ah yes a grinning soviet cyborg with vacuum tubes and a gasoline engine..." japed me. That one made us giggle. *** A picnic on the common, we toast our little adventure with tiny glasses of Codice a sweet fortifying Spanish wine...and with a good tail wind, Ms. Cathcart-Monet took off with a cheery wave and beat her way north. *** I Bowed and departed and made my way home via back roads seldom traveled...it suited the day.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
It occurs to me, that if George Orwell's 1984, was exclusively set in Ireland, then Winston Smith would still end up tortured and brainwashed in the bowels of the "Ministry of Love" and ultimately compelled to recant his hatred of Big Brother by O'Brien the Thought Policeman. and then, two weeks after the nominal end of the novel, Smith would come up behind O'Brien in a dark Dublin alleyway and cave in his torturer's skull with a bungstarter. Room 101 or no Room 101, torture or no torture, The Irish Always Get Even.m
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
*** Well...Archie had it COMING...He Made Enemies! *** Do you suppose in the afterlife, Archie will be met by "Casper the Friendly Ghost' who will take one look and cackle "YESSSS A Friend for Casper, A FRIEND FOR ALL ETERNITY...MWAHAHAHAAA!"
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Best action movie I've seen all summer...helps that it's a not so subtle attack on Ayn Rand's whole cult of the iconoclastic super engineer (played by Ed Harris as usual). In a frozen world, the last of humanity careen across the Earth's surface on a luxury supertrain stuffed with an indolent overclass riding up front and a motley collection of proletarians living in poverty in the tail. Well Chris Evans ain't having none of that, and thus mayhem ensues. Its a film that is "about something", which is rare for a summer release of almost any kind...although my particular takeaway is that engineers if they have talent enough will quickly adapt to almost any hierarchy no matter how exploitive...and if they can't adapt...they'll create one. In short the very essence of Objectivism.... But what the hell, any adaptation of a French Graphic Novel directed by a rising South Korean Talent starring an Avenger (Chris Evans), Gaius Caligula (John Hurt) and Ed Harris in full demigod mode...is aces high with me.
It was large, it was appreciative, it even laughed un-ironically (well here and there at least), it ran the gamut from pensioners to brainy collegians, in short to us the nigh perfect gathering. I Mean, Who Knew The Late Phyllis Diller still had such drawing power?? Channel Zero though, will return on Friday October 3rd at 8pm sharp in the Somerville Theatre's micro-cinema with an epic screening of that long lost semi-silent classic "The Mysterious Island" (1929) starring Lionel Barrymore, Lloyd Hughes & Jane Daly. Pass the word along to any steampunks you may know....
Monday, June 23, 2014
(A Celebration of Four Deliciously Obscure Female Centric Sitcoms of the 1960's!) Out of our Fabled Channel Zero Archives we will be screening: "Occasional Wife (1966)", in which rising young ad man Michael Callan hires local artist Patricia Harty to pretend to be his wife as his employer prefers hiring Family Men! "The Pruitts of Southampton" (1966) starring Phyllis Diller as a busted heiress desperate to keep up appearances. "Mona McCluskey"(1965) Featuring Juliet Prowse as a fabulously wealthy and successful actress who marries a USAF Staff Sergeant played by former screen Tarzan, Denny Miller. "Ugliest Girl in Town"(1968) A sitcom concept so weird, we decline humbly to attempt mere summery, suffice to say the "High Concept" is, Swinging London's Top Model Is A Man Bay-bee!! Why Screen Such Dog-Eared Obscurities? Because we can't complete with Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, the X-Men and those meshugginah Transformers thats why! So yes were are counter-programming (frankly we are counter programming like crazy!)....but we are also mapping changes to the sitcom landscape, taking a moment to review the mythically comical female in American Sitcoms...and reviewing just how convoluted & fantasy driven plotlines could be in a storytelling landscape rigidly controlled by Network "Standards and Practices" departments. The Somerville Theatre (micro cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma Friday July 11th, 2014 Admission $7.50 (still the cheapest ticket in the Hub) Tickets on sale the night of the show in front of the Micro-Cinema. Tell Your Friends, Channel Zero is Back and Giving No Quarter!
Sunday, June 22, 2014
About two weeks ago, my email was spoofed by some vandals who bombarded all my contacts with begging appeals with respect to a phantom sister who needed $$ for a kidney transplant in Portugal of all places. All too predictable and painful, I took the usual precautions and of course discovered that all my Channel Zero related folders had been maliciously deleted. Most of said Channel Zero related contacts can be reconstituted, however feel free to drop us a little note if you wanna stay on the aforementioned mailing list. It goes without saying that we here at Channel Zero are awfully sorry for any worry, angst and or confusion we have caused...but after twenty years in this business, you have to expect these types of setbacks. Again, apologies. *** Meanwhile, on a happier note, Channel Zero with it's reliance on flyers as it's main means of advertisement, made a defacto cameo appearance in Seth Rogen's latest comedy "Neighbors". It seems Rogen and his wife wanna force the College Fraternity next door to move and use a flyer drop to force dozens of sketchy characters to crash one of their parties and force a police intervention. The frat in turn tumbles to their scheme when they find out that the crashers were cued by a distribution of paper flyers..."only OLD PEOPLE use flyers!!!" one character exclaims. HAR! Which brings me back to my original point after a fashion, we here at Channel Zero would gladly give up our reliance on endless flyer drops in favor of an on line advertising line...if we could. So far though all our efforts to migrate to a wholly internet driven advertising profile have ended in abject failure while upwards to 60% of our audience per event is still be driven to the venue by...paper flyers. When we figure out something better and cheaper, trust me you all will be the first to know!
Monday, May 26, 2014
Per Director Bryan Singer John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a Mutant whom Magneto was trying to save in Dealey Plaza back in 1963, however the job was bungled and the Malevolent Master of Magnetism was locked up in the bowels of the Pentagon for his pains. Meanwhile Congress neglected to Arm the Troops Properly thus losing the Viet Nam War and Richard Nixon decided to end the mutant menace by buying whole robots sight unseen from mad scientist/rising retail-king Peter Dinklage. AND THEN the time travel paradoxes kick in!! Got all that? In short, "X-Men Days of Future Past" is a loathsome mess that blackens the name of President Kennedy, perpetuates the "Stab in the Back" myth of the Viet Nam War and done the nigh impossible, made me dislike Patrick Stewart whose characterization of super telepath "Professor X" has been reduced to simpering & whispering. Honestly, I was rooting for the robots, the mutants are all self pitying hacks out to cash massive paychecks...oh and any movie script that compels the otherwise charismatic Ellen Page to point her fingers at Hugh Jackman's temples whilst grimacing and whining for two hours and eleven interminable minutes, Is A Very Badly Written Screenplay Indeed! Skip this one for the Love of Ghod!
Friday, May 23, 2014
For once, I called it or rather she called me as I sped south on Amtrak to NYC. "Where are you" trilled the Audacious Aviatrix from Niftyboro NH. "I'm off to the Guggenheim to see the Italian Futurism exhibit!" said I brightly. "ITALIAN FUTURISM...I mean they worshipped airplanes in a crude atavistic fashion isn't that a natural fit with my own mania for classic airframes?? Whydyncha call me Jerky???" barked the peerless pilotess. Abashed I mumbled ""I thought you had a meeting of the "National Classic Airframe Association" (AKA "The NCAA perpetually untainted by Scandal"). "Canceled on poor landing conditions...Look for me on Sheep Meadown Tomorrow Morning at 9:30am EDT!!" As always to the inevitable I bowed. *** Promptly at the time declaimed, Ms Cathcart-Monet appeared over Central Park NYC, in a classic C-30 autogyro which she landed nigh daintily on the Sheep Meadow. Trained amazons from the New York Chapter of "Women's AutoGyro Co-Operative" (Ms. Cathcart-Monet is a past President of said organization)stood the watch as we toddled off to the Guggenheim. *** "Ah Futurism" sighed Rebecca. "Art is all about violence, speed & injustice" said I, paraphrasing Futurism's founder Tomasso Marinetti. "Yeah a lot of bombast there, but it was 1914 after all!" agreed the Aviatrix. "The futurists loved technology, speed and had a certain belligerence....isn't it funny that when the Italians finally generated an indigenous avant garde artistic movement so of course it is essentially militaristic, imperialistic and jingoist? More than a little misogyny thrown into the mix as well" remarked I. "Ah but Marinetti's wife was an accomplished artistic herself within the Futurist movement" countered Rebecca. "Which merely illustrates the sheer hopelessness of a misogyny as a doctrine" I jabbed. "You know they had a cookbook? A Futurist Cookbook...It was full of praise for speed, energy and violence in the kitchen...it was bitterly anti-pasta cuz this lot clearly worshipped shock value" noted the Valkyrie of the North. "Well...every jot and tittle seemed to merit a manifesto to mark the occasion..." mused myself. "I love how they put on crude multimedia extravaganzas...using NO actors, tried to bring the Futurist Style to Advertising, built concrete kiosks to market bookstores...very advanced" observed Rebecca. "And yet they were obsessed with painting and sculpture, two of the oldest art forms in the world, you'd think they'd a gotten in on the ground floor of early cinema...but no there are few Futurist Films per se" said I as well meandered up the Guggenheim's spiral imbibing Futurist paintings of battleships and increasingly their core obsession aircraft. "Futurism worshipped technology in a primitive totemistic fashion..." reflected the Peerless Pilotess. "They worshipped it, they didn't really interact with it so much..." I muttered. "Mussolini loved Marinetti" muttered Rebecca...very much the Granite State Antifascist. "Of course Marinetti and his followers glorified war and violence, speed death and destruction...there was an avant garde tailored made for the emerging Fascist Aesthetic" rumbled I in a jaunty academic tone. "These guys were insanely ambitious they wanted to read Futurist Newspapers, wear Futurist Clothes, Live in Futurist Houses and write Futurist Poetry when they weren't painting clouds of biplanes" mused the Aerial Aesthete. "Ah that Futurist Poetry...much akin to William S. Burroughs & Byron Gysion's infamous cut-ups of the beatnik era" opined I. "Good Ghod you are a walking Footnote!" smirked the Heroine. To that I made no reply...She Had Me Cold. *** Luncheon in a modest cafe...a small glass of Tokay,and then New Hampshires Peerless Propwash Princess....rose majestically into the air and with a cheery salute flew off to the New England Mists. I waved a trifle forlorn...momentarily alone in a vast Metropolis...itself a Futurist Monument.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Why devote ninety or so minutes to his life story and works via Channel Zero? Well...lets face it, love or hate his late-in-life wingnuttery, the man was funny. Seriously taken as a whole L'il Abner is satiric cataract, hit or miss the gags, caricatures and parodies just fell from the heavens like the very biblical deluge over a twenty five year run, volume alone and dedications that entails recommends the whole enterprise. Yes Al Capp cheap shot numberless targets big and small...and had a notoriously cringeworthy confrontation with John Lennon and that whole thing with Joan Baez, Yikes! But we here at Channel Zero have always been servants of The Funny...and sometimes that hurts almost always you make enemies. Besides at the height of the anti comic book hysteria of the 1950's Capp made an impassioned attack on censorship by having the semi illiterate backwoodsman L'il Abner confess a fondness for the masterworks of Edgar Allen Poe! I mean, that alone deserves a Mark Twain American Humor Award, if they gave them out back in 1953.... Therefore Channel Zero will be screening "This is Al Capp" a classic 1970 television new documentary detailing Capp's shift from liberal to conservative from satirist to right wing provocateur with commentary from William F. Buckley, Paul Krassner and Milton Caniff among others. One of the things that made this period in Al Capp's life so very interesting, he was literally calling antiwar activists, hippies and liberals every epithet in the book and made good money at it, he was clearing mad phat money on campus from speaking fees! Literally, he was the first true "controvore", one who generates good revenue from eructating outlandishly belligerent opinions. As far as I am concerned, Howie Carr, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck all stole their act from Al Capp. Join us for: "This is Al Capp" (1970) The Somerville Theatre (micro cinema) Wednesday May 14th 8pm (sharp!) Admission $5 (cheap!) (617) 625-5700 Plus a surprise or two, you'll have to come to the show and see exactly what constitutes a surprise from Channel Zero...
Monday, May 05, 2014
Happy Cinco D' Mayo to one and all, lets NOT let this solemn occasion degenerate into a celebration of bloodthirsty Francophobia shall we? *** After all this is a solemn occasion, the day commemorates a rare victory by the Mexican Regulars over the Elite Imperial Guards of Louis Napoleon III in their quest recolonize Mexico and impose an Austrian Archduke as the puppet emperor of Mexico. Or put it another way, Hispanic Troops schooled a bunch of Glamorous "My Sh*t Doesn't Stink" crackers. Ah but like Saint Patrick's Day, the holiday has been fatally corrupted and compromised by U.S. distilleries and breweries sad to say it's another reason for college students to run amok. I just hope poor Maximilian isn't burned in effigy alongside Field Marshal Bazaine, I'd hate to have all this revelry occasion a diplomatic rupture with France AND Austria....
Sunday, April 13, 2014
In the 1960's, Al Capp, the famed creator of the "L'il Abner" comic strip had a whole second career as a conservative firebrand and a provocateur from the right. Back at the Height of the Viet Nam War, long before Rush Limbaugh & Sean Hannity, Al Capp toured the campuses of America trashing liberals, anti-war protesters & hippies and made good money out of it! A rare television news documentary detailing Al Capp's confrontational politics & featuring commentary from William F. Buckley, Milton Caniff ,Trina Robbins & Paul Krassner. The Somerville Theatre (Micro-Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma. Wednesday May 14th 8pm (sharp!) Admission $5.00 (cheap!) With a few "extra surprises" on tap as well... Please Note, Channel Zero is experimenting with a different screening night this time, Wednesday May 14th, after twenty years in the business and nearly fifty shows, we are entitled to change things up now and again.
Friday, April 04, 2014
that the local school superintendent has canceled a proposed production of Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd", citing concerns about the themes of murder, cannibalism and mayhem therein. Waaa-al lemme tellyuh, it is the job of a school superintendent to be concerned about stuff impacting public school students, and to anticipate concerns going forward...but shielding the innocent darlings of the Granite State from a possible dark taste for Human Flesh seems utterly ludicrous. I mean not for nothing, but cannibalism just made an appearance on the Fox TV Series Bones in the form of a ground up corpse that showed up in the cafeteria stew of a local high school! And I know that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" had to have trafficked "long pig" centered storylines over the course of a seven year run. To say nothing of "Storage Wars" a reality television hymn of praise to cannibalism by way of the used furniture business. I can safely assure the Plaistow school superintendent that most of the above themes are things the students have seen time and again in the movies and TV to say nothing of that real-life chamber of horrors that is the internet. It is just a shame to see censorship so heavily imposed on such a fine musical...Ghod forbid tedious rubbish like "Grease" should ever come in for a dose of the same treatment.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
I think, you can literally whisper the word "bipartisanship" into Chris Matthews' ear and he will immediately smile with pavlovian expedition and make an emission in his pants. Seriously, I am not joking, the Man is Love with that very word, it evokes a Lost World full of hearty political dinosaurs of all political persuasions who somehow "stopped fighting" after six pm and became best buddies, drinking & laughing together. That, to Chris Matthews is somehow the very essence of Good Governance...It is utter nonsense but he believes it the way the Oracle of Delphi believed in the Benign Reign of Zeus the Thunderer. Which brings us to his latest book a pompous work detailing the manly bipartisan dealings between President Ronald Reagan and then US House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill in the 1980 thru 1986 period. Today's columnists tend to reflexively believe that "bipartisan solutions" are the best for The Nation as a whole and as a consequence, the Nation is Merely One Concession Away From the Eschaton. Thats an easy formulation when governance is divided between the two parties, but it also conceals the fact that from the git go one party almost always has the political edge and may agree to bipartisan solutions whilst the other usually has no choice but to negotiate. That was very much the case in 1981 thru 1986, Reagan had a few extra aces politically, a policy of engagement was the only option open to O'Neill. He'd a been much more truculent if the democrats controlled the US Senate, likewise if the Speaker's numbers were even a hair closer in the House Reagan could've have rolled him sans niceties. So this "bipartisanship" that Matthews' worships so avidly, has always been a tactical option, tied to the temporary political calculus and routinely abandoned when the winds are again favorable. It also gets trotted out in wartime and in moments of National Emergency...other than that, it is much praised and little used and for good reason, parties should only cooperate under compulsion, anything else is quite really in keeping with the true essence of democracy which is to paraphrase Rumsfeld, "messy". And it was meant to be messy by the founding fathers. Bipartisanship is NOT and never has been the natural default position of US Politics per se...and "regression to the mean" is a pretty bloody political spectacle indeed. But you can't tell that to Chris Matthews he thinks all the joshing around Reagan did with O'Neill meant something... And that is Chris Matthews' core problem he has always been a vain pompous vaguely ignorant man, very full of himself. He likes to pretend he is a liberal, if he is then he a liberal with no discernible theory of power and that makes him little more than a jobber for movement conservatism. Matthews' loved O'Neill and O'Neill's Brand of Politics back in 1982 just as he Loved George Bush Jr's Manliness in 2002 when Iraq fell...If you have No Theory of Power than almost anyone's exercise of power looks right and just and necessary.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Dr. Timothy Leary's Initial Escape Plan from the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo in 1970 apparently called for Ten Spiritually Ascendent Men to gather in a circle around the late Harvard Psychiatrist and under propitious astrological circumstances "center on cosmic consciousness". Leary would then dematerialize and appear as a plaintiff before "The Blessed One", who being moved by Leary's martyrdom, would then intervene in the physical universe to bust all and sundry out of The Slams. I offer this merely as a cautionary tale of the perils inherent on living in a universe that does not reward much in the way of purely magical thinking.
Monday, March 10, 2014
"Authenticity..." breathed the aerial aesthete Rebecca Cathcart-Monet into the phone. "Beg pardon..." I rejoined. "It is what THEY ALL crave...artists, art galleries, dealers, auctioneers, collectors....auth-en-ticity" she whispered. "Duly noted...." I began. "Art Forgers!" continued The Aviatrix with the Mostest "They take advantage of the cult of the authentic...ironic no?" "I guess...." I offered uncertain as to Rebecca's meaning. "Meet me at the Springfield Art Museum tomorrow, there is a special exhibit of famous art forgers, including the Matisse fakes of Elmyr de Hory!" "Oh Elmyr..." I muttered recalling with the simplest nostalgia his star turn in Orson Welles' "F for Fake". Rebecca continued, "It is called "Intent to Deceive" its the sort of a program that doesn't come around on the institutional circuit all that often!" "True dat" muttered I recalling Rebecca's stint as an art appraiser and onetime auctioneer. "Oh look up a nice decommissioned landing strip for me and my Antonov An-2 willya!" *** *** Sure enough, I found Ms Cathcart-Monet a nice war surplus landing strip by the waters of the Connecticut River and played the careful chauffeur and conveyed our heroine to the Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts, wherein a unique exhibit is currently being offered of master art forgeries from the aforementioned Elmyr de Hory, as well as Mark Landis, Han van Meegeren, Eric Hebborn & John Myatt. For the most part these are men with serious artistic chops allied with a strong technical bent, sufficient skills in fact to outwit the experts that stand guard over the world's artistic legacy. That is what makes this lot so interesting, it was never enough to paint a picture even a sublime forgery of one of Picasso's masterworks, it had to pass an exacting technical muster of "authentication"...and that required MacGyverish levels of enterprise. Hans van Meeregen,for example mixed bakelite into his paints and completely foxed the the standard regime for verifying the age of an alleged masterwork. Elmyr de Hory was a self taught expert in sources of old canvasses and aged paper, perfect components for world class fakes (one of which made it all the way into the collection of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard though never actually displayed). And it is this very fetish for authenticity that drives the whole art market, it is also the very thing the enterprising forger exploits for his or her own gain. Rebecca remarked that most of the featured felons had a grievance of one type or another, they painted in outdated styles or perhaps did not love the classics enough to refrain from cashing in. Certainly almost all of them wallowed in a peculiar type of false consciousness, wherein they took pride in theirir art forgeries making fools of the so called experts and their alleged elitism. In fact, Eric Hebborn was himself an expert, who often authenticated other works of art and clearly used his own elite knowledge to corrupt institutional art collections the world over. Rebecca remarked that Elmyr in particular was a Homosexual and Jewish, he was perfectly prepared to suffer to ensure his own survival in Hitler's Europe but it was for damn sure he wasn't going to suffer for his art...and so he painted fake Matisse's and ersatz Picasso's...and kept it up thru the late 1960's virtually flooding Europe with spurious artworks while he lived the good life on the island of Ibiza. His neighbor penniless writer Clifford Irving wrote his biography once Elmyr's cover was blown, which likely led to Irving's entirely spurious phony Howard Hughes autobiography which in turn brought all and sundry to the throne of Orson Welles and his last film the incomparable "F For Fake". "But they all must have been doing something right" muttered Rebecca, "they all got a gallery show at the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts!" "Art is a lie that tells the truth" I said "This lot though, needs needs that truth-telling special! This is what you get when you puff up authenticity (a much battered word) into a virtue as opposed to mere honesty". And with that and flip of her trademark orange scarf, Rebecca grinned waved & took to the skies in her antique Antonov An-2...I bowed solemnly and beat a slow retreat up Route 91 North when would we meet again?
Sunday, March 09, 2014
but the Golden Autumn of Bull Moose Republican Progressivism was likely in the summer of 1920. Amiable Blatherskite Warren Gameliel Harding had been given the GOP nomination for President by the infamous "Smoked Filled Room"(composed mostly of ward healers, thugs and senatorial hacks of octogenarian vintage). Known mostly for his backslapping bonhomie, Harding needed a VP, and he offered the job quite spontaneously to Hiram Johnson the wild man Progressive Senator from California. Johnson in his day had been Teddy Roosevelt's nominee for Vice President on the breakaway Bull Moose ticket in 1912. In the interim, he'd been elected as GOP Senator from California, he was in every sense of the word a maverick, back when it was a cause not a brand. And Johnson he was the King of Causes, he favored old age pensions, unemployment insurance, bank regulation, a minimum wage, the eight hour day and government regulation of banks, railroad and anything else Big and Malevolent. Johnson though, was a xenophobe and a bit of a humorless prig, he intensely disliked the easygoing conservative Harding and his his backers in the "smoked filled room", he turned Harding down and thus missed out on the one remaining chance for Bull Moosery to achieve ascendence in the GOP...for if he had said yes, he'd a become President in September 1923 when Harding's heart gave out in San Francisco. Instead the GOP "Base" rose in reactionary revolt all its own and installed the cheap-ass Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts as it's Vice Presidential Nominee...the rest is history. This would be quite literally the national debut of the fabled "GOP Base" like Dr. Fu Manchu though, they would be heard from again. Hiram Johnson though, went on as the Senator's Maverick Maximus, a progressive power house, isolationist and xenophobe par excellence unto the last. Symbolically he died on the same day that Hiroshima was bombed in 1945...and by then the GOP was fully embedded with the whole notion of "Pointing with Pride, 100% Americanism, Low Taxes, High Yields, The Gallows,The Lash, Dry Sundays & No Public Improvements". And they've stuck to that to this very day...
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Oscar Forecast: (since for once I saw most of the Best Picture Nominees)... If I had to guess, I think its a horse race between "The Dallas Buyers Club" & "12 Years a Slave"....though my personal preference is "Nebraska". I think "American Hustle" & "The Wolf of Wall Street" are too much fun and too pulpy to win out over the heavy dramas. "Captain Phillips" is naught but a competent Biopic buttressed by two strong performances(Barkad Abdi was amazing, Hanks has to squeak by with being merely superlative). I doubt "Nebraska" will win, which is a shame because when is Bruce Dern ever gonna be in that room again? At the very least the fallback position dictates Dern win Best Actor and if there is a Ghod of Mercy and Justice in Heaven Above then June Squibb should win for Best Supporting Actress as well. My gut is is the likely best actor winner tonight...Cate Blanchett for Best Actress (Sandra Bullock as a possible dark horse). As for Best supporting actors, its a toss up in my mind between Barkad Abdi and Jonah Hill...both were strong performances, both deserve it in terms of leveraging interesting projects going forward. Okay thems my predictions likely all wrong...
Saturday, March 01, 2014
Sell The House, Sell the Car, Sell the Children and Defy the very Storm King Himself, but for the love of Ghod PLEASE see "Stalingrad" (2013) a new Russian film whose devotion to bombast brought tears to my eyes! Truly only a member of the Bondarchuk Family, one Fedor Bondarchuk, could direct a film this unsubtle! For surely, didn't Sergei Bondarchuk, Fedor's father once make my favorite war film of all time? "Waterloo" (1970) starring Rod Steiger as Napoleon Bonaparte in a performance that eschewed scenery chewing in favor of swallowing the sets whole. But Stalingrad ahh Stalingrad, not a single original line, character or set up in one hundred and thirty one minutes as predictable as a stopped clock, for surely there is virtue in connecting the dots The Right Way. And that is Stalingrad's saving grace, it is confidently asserts all the old shibboleths and dresses them up with all the CGI, gore and carnage as the market can bear. And what the hell, the performances are all first rate, the women in particular Mariya Smolnikova & Yanina Studilina stand out. As the last of the combatants of that war are summoned to The Final Muster, there is a emotional need to revisit the ancient truths and cherished cliches...and there is some strange attraction to the Second World War, has any other war within or without living memory spawned so many movies? Virtually every single major or minor battle therein has been memorialized via film adaptation. I mean top that, Spanish American War....
Friday, February 28, 2014
Ed Symkus who, after nineteen years, finally gave Channel Zero some positive press. Hell the last time our sainted film series even got a mention it was from a nasty NYT reporter who was inexplicably slumming it in Brookline Mass. It was his central thesis as I recall that our onetime screening of a Ritz Brothers Comedy constitutes unsubtle racism. So anway...kudos and thanks to Ed S. who managed to make me soundalmost coherent. And we are back at the Somerville Theatre 2nite at 8pm with an epic screening of "Lemonade Joe", 2014 is gonna be a fund year for us, drop on by an' see da doings...
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Ah yes, Cold War Czechoslovakia's Greatest Singing Cowboy Anti Coca-Cola Movie! In fact, "Lemonade Joe" started out as a series of short stories goofing on the ubiquitous soft drink Coca Cola from local humorist Jiří Brdečka (himself a frequent collaborator with pre-Steampunk film director, Karel Zeman) which defaulted out to a animated film, stage play and finally a motion picture in 1964. Impossibly straitlaced Teetotaler cowboy hero "Lemonade Joe" rides into the drunken western town of Stetson City to break the grip of Demon Rum. But is he a comical abstinence hero on horseback...or the agent of a certain pushy soft drink corporation? We tend to forget these days that the stolid Bolsheviki of the Warsaw Pact could indeed get as campy and zany as they liked, as long as they made fun of the "Imperialists". And who else to direct a film like this but Oldrich Lipsky, as dependable a director of comedies as could be tolerated by a totalitarian system? He was certainly adept at parodying officially proscribed western genres...westerns later on Lipsky would take a swipe at horror films and the detective genre. Ah but the rules were looser in Czechoslovakia,mostly because then Partei Secretary Dubchek was trying to give "socialism a human face"...his efforts didn't stand up for long though. Moreover like East Germany, Czechoslovakia was a "front line states" and under some ideological pressure from NATO...they had to come up with product that pushed back against the western zeitgeist. Thus..."Lemonade Joe" a film that used the western genre (itself an American Creation) as a means to satirize the Marxist Bugaboo of Corporate Imperialism. And again, it's just fascinating to me, to see millions of hours of particular entertainment genres beamed out into the world from the USA, genres that bounced off various nationalities and came back to us "homaged" and or "revised"....this time as Marxist Propaganda. Anyway this is Channel Zero's next screening...check it out tell your friends...A Communist Cowboy Movie! "Lemonade Joe" (1964) Friday February 28th 8pm (Sharp!) The Somerville Theatre, Micro Cinema 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma Admission $8 (Cheap!) Check out our fanpage on Facebook! By The Way, We've been told this particular film hasn't played in Boston since it's original run at the Brattle Theatre in the 1960's!
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Impossible!!! Otherwise... Ellen Page decloseted herself on Valentine's Day, which is what it took for this to rate as news doncha know... Hell, who am I to talk? I'm still shocked to hear that Bruce Willis is straight...
Monday, February 10, 2014
The WWE was locked into negotiations to bring back Bruiser Maximus Bill Goldberg into the Squared Circle. Normally I never traffic in hearsay...but my source was overheard in a very reputable Comic Book Shop...I mean the veracity is unimpeachable right?
Friday, February 07, 2014
My Good Friend and Longtime Collaborator Jon Haber has completed a bachelor's degree in philosophy in just one year entirely thru the agency of MOOCs, Massive On Line Courses...literally a college education you can download. Herein he details some of his adventures for Slate.Com. MOOCs are very controversial to be sure, there is a high drop out rate, and the nature of the final degree, the proverbial sheepskin is ambiguous to say the least. But that is what intrigues me to say the least. Much of education today, is merely training to enact a series of economic relationships, much of the palaver about education at the level of legislation is intimately linked a malign notion that a "good education" ends with "a good job". In effect education policy has been corrupted by the entirely dubious notion that "a good education" is a nice painless way to redistribute income that all the political factions can back sans demure. But MOOCs, maybe maybe might be a way around that whole edifice...restore scholarship to it's throne, or at least give the scholar in training some new options...in some ways the ala carte aspect of MOOCs reminds me of medieval universities where squads of students simply rented professors to deliver lectures. The formless nature of the ultimate degree is also intriguing...at what point do you stop? At what point are you certified, indeed what is the point to a terminal degree save to provide a vital datapoint on one's resume? THAT to me is the subversive part of MOOCs, the degree datapoint could well end up completely decoupled from any purely vocational context. Well, that would be my hope anyway...likely Veblen's "Regression to the Mean" will take hold and the whole thing will become one more overhyped "vocational training opportunity". Seems a shame...because all this is a marvelous opportunity for everyone out there who wants to study astronomy, gothic architecture and or German Expressionism divorced once and for all from market considerations in a "safe space" so to speak. At the very least the extremly competitive cost factor (Haber collected his "degree" for almost nothing), rebalances the cost of education scales very nicely in a era that may well be facing a "tuition bubble". I am FOR almost anything that adds to the arsenal of today's budding scholar, anything that gives him or her better faster or cheaper access to Real Learning, is aces high in my books. Anyhow, Jon Haber has struck a blow, a philosophy degree in one short year....think about that, choosing your classes with complete freedom and pursuing pure academic excellence from a pure love of knowledge, truly Aristotle would be proud.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
blathering on and on and on with respect to the Intense Method Style Preparation he brought to the table in order to create the character of Frankenstein's Monster in the upcoming epic "I, Frankenstein". I mean not for nothing, but never has the Stanislavsky Method been deployed with more exactitude on behalf of a movie everyone knows is a perfect 100 megaton bomb! If the studio thought this bad baby was gonna do business they'd a released it six weeks ago and reaped the Holiday Season Harvest...but no, it's January debut, a sure sign of a wreck in the making. I suppose the moral is, even bad movies deserve the application of a rigorous acting process....
Sunday, January 19, 2014
With an Epic Screening of "Lemonade Joe" (1964) that impossibly virtuous cowboy rides into the drunken brawling western town of Stetson City intent on saving the locals from the ravages of Demon Liquor! But is he a comical Abstinence Hero on Horseback or the subtle agent of a certain soft drink company? This film may well be Czechoslovakia's Greatest Anti-Capitalist, Pro-Temperance, Two Fisted Singing Cowboy Movie!! (Subtitled in English) Friday, February 28th @ 8pm (Sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro-Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma 617-625-5700 Admission $8.00 (Cheap!) Channel Zero, Now in Our Nineteenth Year of Genteel Video Obscurity!
Sunday, January 05, 2014
Sad news comes to us of the untimely death of Mike Vraney, film scholar, television impresario, fearless young showman and maximum leader of Something Weird Video. Mike was a friend of the cinema in every sense of the word, he recalled everyone from Dave Friedman to Frank Henenlotter from an undeserved obscurity. He dug thru dumpsters, he distributed long lost ephemeral films, if there is an overlooked sexploitation film out there, "Something Weird: has it in their catalogue. Any genres Mike Vraney didn't revive he created. I had some dealings with Mike on a casual basis down thru the years, I'd see him at conventions he was unfailingly patient and courteous to one and all, stumping him was a challenge of biblical dimensions, he may not have access to the titles I threw out there, but he knew all about them all the same. Talent and zeal like that we need for it is always in short supply....
Thursday, January 02, 2014
I initially thought this was gonna be a short list, as bad a year as it was though, a solid phalanx of quality managed to break on thru the current appalling zeitgeist. So in no order of preference, my top movies for 2013.... The Great Gatsby: Leonardo DiCaprio is the great striver of modern cinema, in every single one of his movies he plays someone who desperately wants to exceed his own modest circumstances...so all glitz and decadence aside who else you gonna get to play Fitzgerald's quintessential jazz age nouveau riche social climber? This is The End: Its a tedious axiom with me that Hollywood hovers on the brink of annihilation...the canary in the coal mine will always be when the comedies start becoming bloated self indulgent junk. Thank Ghod Seth Rogen and crew haven't yet gone over the hump, if and when they do, then we will know for sure it's time to lock the bunker doors behind us. Much Ado About Nothing: Joss Whedon is ace's high with me, anyone willing to whomp together a Shakespeare adaptation out of bits and pieces shot in his own home is a Man of Destiny. Besides when is anyone gonna cast Amy Acker and Alex Denisof in serious classical parts any time soon?? Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself! Granted the documentary glossed over Plimpton's acceptance of CIA money at the Paris Review...On the other hand anyone will to go a round with Archie Moore in all his martial glory whilst weeping all the while well deserves a lavish biographical documentary. The Heat One thing I like about Sandra Bullock, she knows that comedy requires pacing & inspiration and as such she has never been reticent to let someone else(say Melissa McCarthy)share the limelight when laughs are on the line. Its a lesson a lot of serious All Up Male Comedians have yet to learn.... Pacific Rim: If I had to pick one monster movie this summer, I'll go with Del Toro's every time. My only regret is, it didn't make anywhere near the money that The Man of Steel or Iron Man III or even The Lone Ranger made.... We're the Millers: Even as the rest of Tinseltown crumbled, forty year old comedienne's staged a comeback, Bullock and now Jen Aniston whose aging stripper turn in the above drug comedy could have been lame but instead sparkled...female experience seemed to have mattered last summer for once. The World's End: Repeat After Me, SIMON PEGG IS OUR LAST HOPE...and if he can't do it, NICK FROST IS REALLY REALLY OUR LAST HOPE!! Kick Ass 2: This was literally the only sequel I could get behind all year long, in a perfect world Chloe Grace Moretz would graduate to a "Hit Girl" franchise all her own, something guaranteed to give movie critics the Screaming Bedspins. But truly Ms Moretz et al have a gift for serious movie mayhem that puts them way past the self indulgent pikers cluttering up all these goddamned Big Ticket Superhero Movies.... The Way Way Back: This was no "Moonrise Kingdom", but it is a bravura performance by Sam Rockwell and a sort of drunken love letter to the vanishing world of South Shore down market tourism. At long last Marshfield Ma gets it's close up. Gravity: Microgravity gets its close up too...who knew a straight version of modern space travel could be this exciting? Who knew George Clooney could really play it straight? I mean how long has it been since he wasn't wallowing in self parody?? And Sandra Bullock? Amazing, how did she wax those stems in zero gee??? All is Lost The Last Great Silent Film Performance and it is courtesy Robert Redford....I mean Chaplin was noisier in "Modern Times" for Ghod's Sake! Bad Grandpa Johnny Knoxville makes me laugh, I can pay him no higher praise. Normally I don't care for Jackass when they do setpiece sketches, but this was thoroughly inspired from start to finish....kudos to Knoxville's faux grandson, Jackson Nicoll the kid has a poker face worthy of Keaton. Kill Your Darlings: Second best straight drama I saw all year. Lucien Carr's story, he First Beatnik, the Great Introducer, hooked Kerouac up with Burroughs and Ginsberg and then, his task done, he murders his tutor and ends up a suburbanite...A quintessential American Story...and the only reason it got made is because a High Profile British Actor named Daniel Radcliffe yearned to play a young Allen Ginsberg Nebraska: BEST drama I saw all year...and sadly it was my life for the past four years one way or another, it's also Bruce Dern's Legacy and his last best bid for legitimacy. Saving Mister Banks: Only the Disney Organization has the chutzpah to cannibalize one of their classic musicals (one I myself never cared for) to create a much darker musical that I did like...I even bought into the tacked on Happy Ending! The Wolf of Wall Street: I think this is Scorcese's idea of a Tarantino Movie, loud self indulgent, loaded with amazing performances...it doesn't break much new territory but it's a helluva ride and Leonardo DiCaprio's second manic striver in less than a year...Oh and Jonah Hill, he is has all of John Belushi's raw acting talent without the catastrophic personal choices...he will go far I assure you all.