Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I've Often Wondered....

At what point during the "table reads" for the original Star Wars Trilogy did the Late Carrie Fisher (herself a writer of no small acuity) start guffawing helplessly at the stilted dialogue? I'm thinking she was on her best behavior during "A New Hope" but after that the throttles were wide open. A lot is being made of Carrie Fisher's indomitable Princess Leia (who is the object of pursuit in two films but is accorded a solid chance to snuff a bad guy in the third albeit infamously clad in a brass bikini), her main breakthrough as a character is a refusal to be sidelined or entirely overshadowed by Obi Wan or Yoda or Han vs Luke vs Darth Vader. Well what of it, it was 1977 and as always a very sexist primitive time, any pushing of the gender envelope was welcome. I've always maintained that one of her funniest turns was what was otherwise a featured cameo in "The Blues Brothers" as John Belushi's incensed ex fiancee whose attempts to kill Joliet Jake take on a definite Wile E. Coyote like dimension. Fisher was smart (when she wasn't getting drunk high or indulging mayhem), she knew she'd run up against a wall of Princess Leia typecasting at the tender age of she got straight and switched over to writing and became a noted script doctor & author, she "Zenned the Typecasting" so to speak. I always liked that about her....anyone else would have been "MegaFested" and drowsed away the days selling her signature for $20.00 a pop. Not Carrie she staked out her ground and defended it to the last... And now she is gone and her mother Debbie Reynolds as well not a full day later. 2016 is an evil year with evil consequences and it is never a good thing when Our Heroes take Flight to Valhalla En Masse....its a Dark Portent Indeed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

BTW Isn't it funny how Christmas Time is

The ONLY time of year you hear Burl Ives on the Radio??? To say nothing of Gene Autry and or Alvin & the Chipmunks....

Van Williams AKA "The Green Hornet" is Dead

(Thats him on the Left BTW....:) Always an impossibly handsome man (The "Rob Lowe of the 1960's"), Williams stumbled into the whole Batman-driven superhero craze of 1966 playing a completely paradoxically straight and unhumorous crimefighter. Sadly "The Green Hornet" only lasted one year and is chiefly remembered for launching Bruce Lee's career, but let take a moment to recall that today's stern uncompromising Masked Avengers all owe something to Van Williams. It should also be remembered that Williams was likely the first TV superhero of the modern age to get shot in the line of duty. Check out the Green Hornet Episode "Bad Bet on a 459 Silent" for the details, suffice to say getting a wanted masked vigilante to the hospital when he stops a bullet is a serious damn chore. Lets also note that very scenario was pirated virtually word for word by the Seth Rogen Green Hornet adaptation about which I will pass over in sacerdotal silence. In life Williams was courtly charming, a pleasant presence on the comicon circuit and always willing to remember his castmate and friend Bruce Lee with fondness & warmth. If Williams felt overshadowed he never said anything about it, indeed on that mark he was a Gentleman thru and thru. He will be missed One Season Wonder or Not.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Channel Zero Returns Tomorrow Night!!

In these dark & perilous times, Channel Zero wishes to Manfully Step Up and Say: "HAPPY 126th BIRTHDAY GROUCHO MARX!!" And to mark the occasion we will be fairly wallowing in Groucho's robust television legacy ncluding his 1965 guest host stint on "The Hollywood Palace" featuring a Reunion with his favorite comic foil Margaret Dumont, South African Diva Miriam Makeba & a rock-n-roll duet with his daughter Melinda Marx. Also on the bill, Groucho's infamous appearance on "Whats My Line" in which the famed comedian reduces a staid 1950's game show to mirthful ruins. Plus a Surprise or Two….   The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) Friday October 21st 8pm (sharp!) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma. 617 625 5700 Admission: $7.50 (cheap!) I don't know if Groucho and his brother's invented improv but they certainly made heavy use of it thru their careers. Groucho in particular had no fears of spontaneity whatsoever,years of touring in vaudeville had sharpened the act's collective and individual response times to an absurd degree. Allegedly when The Marx Brothers were starring in "Animal Crackers" it was a truism on Broadway that you could see the show twice a week and never was it played the same way. Groucho, Chico, Harpo and yes even Zeppo would improvise extensively night after night. That comes from a place of fearless built on experience... These days we have clowns who aspire to The Imperial Purple, lets take a moment to remember a real comedian who aspired only to a crown of "wow gags".

Channel Zero Returns Tomorrow Night!!

In these dark & perilous times, Channel Zero wishes to Manfully Step Up and Say: "HAPPY 126th BIRTHDAY GROUCHO MARX!!" And to mark the occasion we will be fairly wallowing in Groucho's robust television legacy ncluding his 1965 guest host stint on "The Hollywood Palace" featuring a Reunion with his favorite comic foil Margaret Dumont, South African Diva Miriam Makeba & a rock-n-roll duet with his daughter Melinda Marx. Also on the bill, Groucho's infamous appearance on "Whats My Line" in which the famed comedian reduces a staid 1950's game show to mirthful ruins. Plus a Surprise or Two….   The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) Friday October 21st 8pm (sharp!) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma. 617 625 5700 Admission: $7.50 (cheap!) I don't know if Groucho and his brother's invented improv but they certainly made heavy use of it thru their careers. Groucho in particular had no fears of spontaneity whatsoever,years of touring in vaudeville had sharpened the act's collective and individual response times to an absurd degree. Allegedly when The Marx Brothers were starring in "Animal Crackers" it was a truism on Broadway that you could see the show twice a week and never was it played the same way. Groucho, Chico, Harpo and yes even Zeppo would improvise extensively night after night. That comes from a place of fearless built on experience... These days we have clowns who aspire to The Imperial Purple, lets take a moment to remember a real comedian who aspired only to a crown of "wow gags".

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Zimmerman in Stockholm....

Congrats to Bob Dylan for grabbing off the Nobel Prize for Literature....well deserved indeed. So does this mean that the Late Phil Ochs is in line for a Posthumous Pulitzer? And doesn't John Lennon deserve some consideration from one of these tentpole awards?? On a serious note I am sure that Dylan's address in Stockholm might make for interesting prose give a lifetime dedicated in service to the muse of poetry....but that creaky little voice of his....I'd sooner they hired almost anyone else to read it...The Late Gary Owens might've been a better choice in that regard. :) KIDDING I KID Congrats Bob!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Suicide Squad (2016)

wasn't bad, I rather enjoyed it thanks to the sturdy shield of low expectations. That having been said the end of the film is utterly incoherent (but thats par for the course in this film genre at this point, can anyone out there summarize Lex Luthor's plan in "Batman versus Superman"? Did HE even understand it??) and relies almost completely on Will Smith's still vital charisma and Margot Robbie's willingness to bounce off the walls to carry the day. But what th' hell, at least this one I said low expectations and I did manage to see it at the Drive In (and on a rainy night too I "parted the storm" in drive in parlance) that undoubtedly helped. Hell the best movie I've seen so far in this benighted summer has been "Don't Think Twice" which is still playing around town in various venues, its the story of the decline and fall of a NYC Improv Comedy Group but whole scenes were very evocative of our experience running the Channel Zero Repertory Film Series.... That and "Bad Moms" are probably the two best movies I've seen since May....its been a bad summer otherwise for movies but I begin to repeat myself.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

I'm calling it folks, this was a TERRIBLE movie, confusing, loud, incoherent, the villain was disposable with a moribund gimmick, in two hours of action there was maybe five minutes of authentic science fiction in what is supposed to be The Tentpole sci fi Franchise of All Time. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto both phoned it in & looked bored by it all as well, Karl Urban at least put some skin in the game but he can't carry a film this misbegotten, no one can quite frankly. The movie's one other saving grace was the sturdy notion held over from the original series that whatever old clunker of a starship Kirk is on, instantly becomes the bad-ass fightingest ship in the Starfleet. And I hate to say this cuz' he is a talent, but I think Simon Pegg should stick to writing comedies....this was not his best work by any means. Its been an awful summer for movies overall, "Ghostbusters" was funny enough (McCarthy & Wiig are a natural comedy team IMHO) but it fell afoul of weird gender resistance, frankly the best movie I've seen this summer was "Bad Moms" and that was a pretty predictable exercise. Well Hell, Hollywood went into a death spiral two full years ago it just hasn't shot down the drain yet, they can't even pander to our basest urges anymore with any success....bad karma indeed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why A Documentary About the Paranormal?

A better question might be, why NOT a documentary about the Paranormal, especially when it is locally produced, locally focused and has never had a proper Boston Premiere.... We here at Channel Zero have been looking for quite some time for a local "artisanal" film we could screen something that was NOT some overwrought drama shot in front of a Boston Skyline. "The Bridgewater Triangle" has got everything in that regard, ghosts, aliens, Satanic Rituals, Missing Persons even Bigfoot Sightings. Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, you have to admire the filmmaker's embrace of what amounts to an "Alternate History" of the South Shore. Moreover after twenty one years of doing screenings all over Metropolitan Boston, Channel Zero is pretty much all about giving everyone "Their day in Court." And we'd also like to thank the producers Aaron Cadieux and Manny Falamore for agreeing to a Q&A session after the screening, they will also be manning a merchandise table as well. So please, bring your questions...ESPECIALLY if you have ever had an encounter with any of this phenomena. "The Bridgewater Triangle" (2013) screens.... Friday July 22nd @ 8pm (Sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma. 617 625 5700 Admission $8.50 (cheap!) “They Are Here! And They Are On The South Shore!”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Channel Zero Returns This Friday!!

With a Local Documentary Premiere: "The Bridgewater Triangle" (2013) On the South Shore of Massachusetts there is a vast alleged locus of paranormal phenomenon known as “The Bridgewater Triangle”! From Bigfoot Sightings to Encounters with Extraterrestrials,with a Haunted Swamp & Alleged Satanic Activity, the area around Rehoboth, Freetown & Abington seethes with Unexplained Uncanny Incidents! Local filmmakers Aaron Cadieux & Manny Falamore Present All The Evidence in this Unique Locally Produced Feature Length Documentary! Friday July 22nd @ 8pm (Sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma. 617 625 5700 Admission $8.50 (cheap!) (The Producers will have a merchandise table at the screening and will be available for Q&A afterwards) “They Are Here! And They Are On The South Shore!”

Sunday, July 17, 2016

N.N. R.I.P.

At the height of her tenure on "The Adventures of Superman", you could have dropped a cinderblock on her head, and Noelle "Lois Lane" Neill would not have so much as cocked an eyebrow. She played it all absolutely straight regardless of underwritten scripts, spotty SPFX or rushed production methods. The woman simply never broke character ever, today's actresses could learn a thing or two on how to commit to a performance no matter how daunting the challenge. She got that training coming up The Hard Way as a pin up model (real popular in WW2 nudge-nudge), a drudge in poverty row productions and still later a contract gig at Columbia where she ground on in Serials, and it was at Columbia where she fortuitously cast as the movies first Lois Lane in the two Kirk Alyn Superman serials. And that was her ticket to ride, for when Superman was passed off to George Reeves there was a need for a new Lois after the first season's actress Phyllis Coates moved on to better things, there stood Noelle, tanned rested and ready from the git go. But the show was a real generator of typecasting, Reeves likely died from it in 1959, Jack "Jimmy Olsen" Larsen wisely drifted into writing and producing...Noelle tried her hand at journalism before settling into a "Lois Emeritus" status. It suited her, the woman was uncommonly nice and pleasant in a grandmotherly way, perfectly adapted to the comic book convention circuit. I met her briefly down in New Jersey maybe fifteen years ago, she was hawking a self published book of memoirs (a canny way to monetize her autograph, a gimmick pioneered oddly enough by her former castmate Kirk Alyn in the 1970's) and exuded friendliness and charm in a venue given over to KISS Fans, Amateur Klingons and the occasional Juggalo. She will be missed, like Jack Larsen Noelle Neill was blessed with longevity to remind us all that whatever tabloid sensation clings to the memory of George Reeve he was in all things a nigh perfect castmate. Well what the hell, so was she in every way....Class Like That Will Always Be Missed.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Star Spangled Clamor....

I have Carly Carioli from yesterday's Globe to thank for reminding me that Igor Stravinsky once came within an ace of being fined in Boston for imposing an "illegal" arrangement on the National Anthem back in the 1940's. Apparently it is STILL a law on the books in the commonwealth criminalizing any bid to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" as part of medley, as dance music or with any undue embellishments. Stravinsky was gonna debut his own arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner" in Boston during WW II, one he THOUGHT was easier to sing til' the local rollers leaned on him hard, Igor elected to conduct the traditional BSO version no doubt with some understandable ruffled feathers. Now as it happens I've heard the Stravinsky arrangement and it's perfectly fine a few high notes are rationalized and or dropped thats all....but poor Igor misunderstood one important and unique thing about the USA, we derive something unique and powerful from our inherently unsingable National Anthem. Other countries have national anthems far more bombastic and tuneful, veritable hymns to Power Glory and Eternal National Greatness, if you listen to any of them, you get a distinct "whistling past the graveyard vibe" if not outright National Reaction-Formation. "We Must Be Great, Our National Anthem Attests to It With A Mighty Booming Chorus!" in other words. Not the USA, we didn't even have one until 1931 and we picked the most discordant unsingable musical mishaugas on the list....yay for us, we don't need to act out in patriotic song. However, the current statute as described Citizen Carioli in yesteday's Globe is superfluous cultural overreach on the part of the Commonwealth's criminal code. It must be defied via civil disobedience...Therefore I intend to hold auditions in the near future for a band I like to call "The Bangtail Yap Orchestra" which will be planted on a traffic island in Davis Square Somerville to play a little ditty I call "The Star Spangled Shimmy", something I hope will be the Dance Craze of the Age! Happy Fourth of July....anyone out there who is virtuoso with a tin bucket and big ass spoon, drop me a little note....

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Ali Is Dead...The Heaven's Do Shake.

If Friedrich Nietzsche designed a Boxer, he'd be Muhammad Ali. If the American Dream with All It's Light and Dark Facets has a Better Exemplar, then I don't know them.... From Louisville to Global small trick. And he did it boxing...a mobbed up sport on it's best day...especially when he was up and coming. Just don't read any of his interviews back in his "Nation of Islam" days....very bigoted childish stuff, suffice to say Ali grew quite a bit when he and Elijah Muhammad's Son Wallace made the break to a Sunni Muslim Faith and the old man went for the Terminal Dirt Nap. But what the hell Muhammad Ali was a Natural Showman to Put P.T. Barnum (who invented Showmanship) to absolute shame....a talent for improv, a pronounced taste for doggerel and speed & stopping power in the ring. The Selective Service Never Had a Chance. For My Money a Great & Terrible Series of Lessons in the Glory and Barbaric Brutality of Boxing can be absorbed just by watching all the Ali-Joe Frazier Fights and then the "Rumble in the Jungle" between George Foreman and The Champ. At the very least you can see the apex of Ali's sheer Will to Power and the Origins of His Parkinson's Disease. But I give him credit, Ali never ducked a fight, no "Bum of the Month Club" for him....even if he kept at it long after common sense dictated a quiet bail out. But he was the very embodiment of the American Dream....three wives, a super lawsuit to end all lawsuits, a Fight with Superman, a partnership with Howard Cosell,a cataract of opinions, and fight after fight....what is more American Than That??

Saturday, May 07, 2016

There is a rumor going around...

That the Somerville Theatre MIGHT hazard fortune and sacred honor on a 70mm Film Festival This Fall....apparently their repertory screenings in 70mm have proven popular what with their unbeatable giant indoor screen and all. So I'd like to make a few random suggestions for said festival... 1.) "The Boston Strangler"(1967) I have deliberated avoided this movie on home vide simply because the split screen cinematography demands a big screen venue. 2.) "The Battle of Britain"(1969) Gotta have a nice loud air-combat movie from an era when air combat movies demanded procurement of real pilots and real fighter planes. 3.) "Waterloo" (1970) starring Rod Steiger. My Favorite Holiday Movie and you gotta have a nice loud Rod Steiger movie its practically a statute in the Commonwealth. 4.) Either..."Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Doctor Doolittle" or....dare I say it "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"...I mean if we think we need a kid's angle here. 5.) "Westworld" one of those pre Star Wars sci fi movies than never seems to rate revival..... 6.) "High Plains Drifter" (My fave Clint Eastwood Western absent "Unforgiven") Now mind you my technical ignorance runs true and deep I have no idea if any of these movies are available in 70mm but hell a guy can dream, I'm sure the Somerville Theatre can wreak profitable havoc with "Jaws" "The Godfather" and "Rollerball" for poetry and jazz.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Boston International Film Festival was a Hoot!

In particular I'd like to congratulate John McGuinness the stalwart Director of "A Padded Envelope from Madrid" and Gawaine Ross the film's Leader Actor (working next to Orson Welles, Not Bad!) for all their superlative work and contributions on the road to Festival Glory. If I have a main takeaway from both our screenings it is that there is something about the acronym "U.F.O." even when used in an facetious context that flips a big old knife-switch in people's heads. We ended up answering a lot of entirely earnest questions about extraterrestrials and flying saucers at our post screening Q&As. Not question one about Orson Welles....and yet the whole film was a short of birthday for his "One Hundredth Birthday" in 2015. Bruce Lee teaches us that all knowledge is in the end self knowledge so my big revelation from the BIFF is that flying saucers instantly lower people's inhibitions like straight whiskey....otherwise how to account for entirely unselfconscious questions about pan dimensional beings skulking our lonely highways late at night? That must be pondered over time, once again though kudos and props to Messr's McGuinness & Ross, so glad they tracked me down and pried a script out of me, health to all their endeavors they are worthy collaborators.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"A Padded Envelope from Madrid"

Back in 2004, when Channel Zero was literally chased out into the streets of Brookline by the Coolidge Corner Theatre, I remarked to my co-curator, that if this kept up we'd have to start making the movies ourselves.... and so some twelve years later Channel Zero has produced it's first film, "A Padded Envelope from Madrid" which is an official selection at the Boston International Film Festival next weekend! I admit to writing and acting as executive producer but without the assistance of Director John McGuinness and our redoubtable on screen talent Gawaine Ross, the damn thing woulda never have come off. To them I am grateful. Admittedly, "A Padded Envelope from Madrid" is only seven minutes long....but hell we have to start somewhere I guess... What the film is otherwise is a mystery for lack of a better word "A Timely Warning of an Alien Invasion? A Hoary Old War Story? A Lost Television Pilot from a Great Auteur...or perhaps Something Else?" "Fact, Fiction or...Something Else?" "A Padded Envelope from Madrid" screens Saturday April 16th at 11:30am at 26 West Street Boston MA (just off Downtown Crossing) tickets at the door are 12.00 or can be ordered on line at you can also see program information on the other films on the bill with our own unique effort. There will also be an encore screening on Sunday at 3pm with a selection of other short films. (same venue never fear) We've crossed a great divide here after twenty one years, we hope you can join us next weekend....and see the results of our work. Meanwhile, Check Out Our Trailer (cuz every seven minute film deserves a trailer)

Monday, April 04, 2016

Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016)

Y'know Zack Snyder, the director of the above motion picture is at the end of the day, a scavenger. He made his bones relentlessly cherry picking the payoff scenes from Alan Moore's graphic novel "The Watchmen" (regardless of common sense or continuity)and then watched the money roll in like a lethal Tsunami. Thats the exact same approach he takes to "Batman v. Superman" except this time he has two and a half interminable lugubrious hours to sample neary thirty years of "iconic" storylines. The result is incomprehensible (I think Lex Luthor was behind it all or else the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and the box office is all the same rock solid. In short, I couldn't figure out Lex Luthor's plot one bit but then again clearly neither could he.... I actually was pleasantly surprised by Ben Affleck I thought for sure he'd done this movie to leverage some directorial project down the line, but whatever his reasons he seems to "get" a Caped Crusader on the cusp of Middle Aged Decline. Ditto Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman who makes a graceful credible amazing amazon, you could almost forget she is essentially shoe horned into the climax for no reason than to pad out the running time to an "Epic" 2.5 hours. I'm calling it on Henry Cavill's Superman though, the man is a jobber, he looks the part all right, akin to an Alex painting of The Man of Steel but his acting component is pretty unspectacular. He has no chemistry at all with Amy Adams' Lois Lane which is a sordid waste of a good actress and her notable chops. As for Jesse Eisenberg....that kid is amazing he finally took Lex Luthor the Mad Scientist's Mad Scientist and made him fidgety and annoying. "Doomsday" (a DNAlien by way of Krypton shoe-horned like ever other touchstone Easter egg from the DCU) looked unfinished a vaguely cheap looking although the three way fight between him, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman was rousing enough I guess. But if you took out all the tedious dream sequences and convoluted rubbish you might have a passable ninety minute film but nobody makes ninety minute superhero movies anymore. My own personal theory is that Zack Snyder fired two rounds from a double barreled twelve gauge shotgun into the script and bade his writers connect the plot holes however they must.... I didn't loathe "Batman v. Superman" as much as I hated "Man of Steel"....but that is pretty much a confession of defeat on my part. DC is making millions off of my favorites and I couldn't care less. Nice work Zack....

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why A Noir Double Feature?

This is one of those genres that gets regular repertory screenings locally, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" must screen at least one a year somewhere in The Hub. So Channel Zero decided to take the genre in hand and try and revive some truly obscure noir titles, the sorts of movies that The Brattle or the Harvard Film Archive might overlook. Both are worthwhile institutions to be sure, but Channel Zero has an economy of scale that the majors cannot necessarily exploit, so why wouldn't we bring up something deep from the well of undeserved obscurity?? Its an odd genre anyway, it mostly has a lot of highbrow enablers which is odd because the noir cinema milieu is dark conflicted, ambiguous and very very working class. The protagonists are boxers, seedy insurance salesmen, threadbare detective and the occasional cop who is sweet on the wrong dame. Moreover, Forget Hitchcock and Preminger, Classic Film Noir was the bread and butter of Hollywood's Schlock Houses, Producer's Releasing Corp (Bela Lugosi's last legit studio gig), Columbia (the Three Stooge's nominal paymasters) or Republic (the studio that invented the Singing Cowboy Picture), Noir pictures were primarily "Programmers", redoubtable B Pictures designed to anchor a double feature. They were otherwise a good home for a decade for directors like Edgar G. Ulmer, performers like Linda Stirling (mostly known for her Jungle Girl Serials) or aspirational blondes in a death spiral like Barbara Payton or wandering character players like J. Carroll Naish. A madder tea partei cannot be invented. So of course a gritty crime double feature immediately suggested itself to us....and what a double feature Jimmy Cagney's ONLY directorial effort ("A Short Cut to Hell") and a solid Lawrence "Reservoir Dogs" Tierney gangster movie....and all of it dripping with the requisite atmosphere that once made "Cahiers D' Cinema" go into sheer spasms. We are taking a real chance on Friday Night, it's a big player genre to be sure, please tell your friends...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Channel Zero Returns Next Friday Night at 8pm....

CHANNEL ZERO PROUDLY PRESENTS A Classic Film Noir Double Feature! (our first double feature in sixteen years!) "A Short Cut to Hell" (1957) and… "The Hoodlum" (1951) A Short Cut to Hell (1957) directed by James Cagney. This is the Famed Actor's only Directorial Effort! A taut punchy crime thriller about a twitchy hitman who gets paid off in stolen money & plots revenge on his former employers! and…. The Hoodlum (1951) Tarantino's fave, Lawrence "Reservoir Dogs" Tierney stars as a ex-con who takes a straight job as a means to reassemble his old gang and pull off an armored car heist!! We will also be screening the trailer to our first film "A Padded Envelope from Madrid" which is now an Official Selection at the Boston International Film Festival!! Tell Your Friends! The Somerville Theatre (screening room) Friday March 18th 8pm (sharp!) Admission $8.50 (cheap!) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma (617) 625-5700

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar Picks etc...

Predictions are meaningless thats why they are so much fun, so for the records here is my "will win should win" breakdown in the big categories tonight. Best Picture: Either Spotlight or The Revenant. Both are bravura efforts, Spotlight the more earnest film, the Revenant is a biarchy tour 'd force between DiCaprio and Tom Hardy but it is a survival story up against a big social issue film. Lacking in Big Profile Limey Disease Porn, it comes down to these two. Me, I'd love to see "The Martian" win the big, it remains the only sci fi movie that spoke to me this year, with a strong performance from Matt Damon. "Mad Max: Fury Road" is also nominated...but at best Charlize Theron deserved a Best Actress Nod...the film itself basically runs out of ideas at the 80 minute mark and Tom Hardy phoned it in lets face facts. Best Actor: Matt Damon deserves it, DiCaprio seems likeliest to win although Eddie Redmayne is nominated and Brits vote in a spoilerish block for any jobber who was born in the UK. Best Actress: I have to be the only man in the USA who liked "Joy" so I'm with Jennifer Lawrence who is a sort of "Female DiCaprio" i.e. an actor with a popular base and solid box office record who nonetheless has serious chops. Alas "Joy" will gat no heat this I say that spoilerish block goes for Charlotte Rampling. Actor in a Supporting Role: Tom Hardy from "The Revenant" as I suspect that film might have a minor sweep tonight, but Sly Stallone deserves it, that man has made Arm Wrestling Movies its a career fraught with setbacks and he will never be in that room again. Actress in a Supporting Role: I am hoping Jennifer Jason Leigh can sneak thru a British Actor Surge that is split between Kate Winslet and Alicia Vikander....yeah we are down to that. And "Inside Out" deserves the Best Animated Feature Oscar hands down....all the best acting in the last ten years seems concentrated in Pixar Features.

Monday, January 04, 2016

My Top Ten Movies of 2015

Tough year movie wise I didn't get out as much as I'd a liked and it is not like the studios send me screeners or anything.... Welcome to Me starring Kristen Wiig all but overlooked little comedy about a spectrumy veterinary nurse who hits the lottery and tries to conquer television. Its not perfect but it made me want to see more projects written & produced by Kristen Wiig. Archie's Betty: Orson Welles tried to solve the mystery of William Randolph Hearst, Gerry Peary's self produced documentary confines itself to figuring who inspired the Archie Comics Character Betty Cooper.... Trainwreck: If she doesn't end up following John Belushi's example to the bitter end, Amy Schumer might be the one to finally bust the gender barrier in raucous r-rated comedies, she is a stand up who can write and act, those are the necessary qualities in American Comedy Films... Best of Enemies: Gore Vidal versus William F. Buckley a veritable war in heaven between opposing elites and documentary I saw all year. Black Mass: Johnny Depp's comeback as Whitey Bulger it's the first time I've seen Depp's real face in a decade da sumbitch can act in a straight part I mean WHO KNEW?? The Martian: starring Matt Damon best science fiction movie I saw all year, good spectacle good acting...everything big ticket sci fi should be at the movies. The Bridge of Spies: I've always thought the 1960 U-2 Spy Plane Incident needed it's own film adaptation and it takes a Steven Spielberg AND a Tom Hanks to deliver on something like that.... Spotlight: In the words of the late Orson Welles "It's All True" (except the parts about BC High....) Joy: Jennifer Lawrence is fast becoming one of those actresses who can indeed be in bad films, but she is seldom BAD in bad films....besides I liked David O. Russell's conceit to lightly fictionalize Joy Mangano's rise to glory on the Home Shopping Network and anyway for once the family unit came in for some just criticism.... The Hateful Eight: "TARANTINO IS BACK BAY-BEE!!!" If there is a takeaway this year is that I came down in favor of studio product for the most was that kind of a year...whut kin I say?

Saturday, January 02, 2016

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015)

I Liked This Movie...I did not love it, I'm not sure a Star Wars sequel is possible that would fully engage the enthusiasm I had for the whole mishaugas back in 1977 when I was ("gulp") fifteen years old. Of course the generally positive experience is strongly tempered by the fact that the whole stupid franchise has been so painfully compromised by the infamous George Lucas driven prequels that the bar has been set unnaturally low...almost anything J.J. Abrams turned in would have been an improvement. Which is funny...because in some ways he does a weird mirror image of his reimagination of Star Trek, there he bolding recast and reimagined the Federation Universe and then was content to connect the dots with mediocre scripts that largely ignored referencing the original cast (save a poignant benediction from the Late Leonard Nimoy). Here Abrams is much more reliant on the as many of the original players as can be patched together & thrown up on the screen in the hopes that the new cast can acquire the lustre of the originals via osmosis. It might work...but it depends on relationships and motivations getting explained down the line, and this is J.J. Abrams who is almost a great director save for his maddening tendency to fall back on safe secure tropes and other words he might not come thru at the end of the day. Which is a shame I like Daisy Ridley's Rey ( a scavenger turned Force Adept whose lineage is...sigh....obscure and ominous), she might evolve into the kick ass female the franchise desperately needs but I suspect at the end of the day Abrams won't take the chances to deliver the franchise over to that character. As for her lineage....I suspect she is Luke's abandoned daughter (just as Luke was abandoned in infancy) and she is being set up with her eee-vil cousin for a showdown somewhere in the numberless sequels to come. That is IF Abrams doesn't chicken out and he may well do that as his record gives me little cause for hope. Well...I've indulged enough spoilage for one blog post...let me just say it was great to see an visibly aging Harrison Ford suit up once more as the perpetually in over his head Han Solo. And let me just observe in a broad general way that there is nothing like a Good Talking Too From Dad to Get A Kid In From Off a Ledge or off a teensy little catwalk. :)

"The Hateful Eight" (2015)

Someday when the Critical Establishment stops crying into their beers about The Death of Film Criticism....they are gonna wake up and realize that improbably enough Quentin Tarantino was and is, Samuel L. Jackson's very Muse. Because somehow Jackson seems incapable of turning in a bad performance in any capacity in a Tarantino even if it's a featured cameo or a voice over....the wonders just issue from the Man. Granted at the end of the day, Tarantino is what they used to call "An Actor's Director", ergo an auteur with the dual gift for casting the right artists and then extracting their very best on film. And Tarantino can do that miracle with established players like Jackson, aging icons like Bruce Dern, he even has a special talent for rescuing the once celebrated from obscurity (John Travolta, Jennifer Jason Leigh)...hell the man came within an ace of making Stunt Woman Zoe Bell into a legit movie star....and he may yet push her into the ranks yet! AND THAT is my experience with "The Hateful Eight" in a nutshell it's a superbly cast carefully paced cinema experience lovingly shot on 70mm panavision...its currently playing in a "RoadShow" capacity with an intermission and no previews at the Somerville Theatre, SEEK OUT that configuration for the maximum enjoyment. This is a bracing return to form, a real performance driven western action-drama and real step up after the plateau experience of "The Inglorious Bastards" & "Django Unchained"....both were good films but neither broke any creative grounds at least as far as Tarantino is concerned as an artist. There is a lot of palaver out there about the too free use of "The N Word" especially in this film and in "Django Unchained" but in both cases Tarantino is revisiting racist cultures and doesn't ask us to forgive or overlook any of their particular sins....physical or rhetorical. Which is funny to me in a grim way because "The Hateful Eight" seems mired in female-abuse Jennifer Jason Leigh is repeatedly beaten thrown out of stage coaches, shot at, roughed up, verbally harangued and otherwise traumatized....but then 1878 was a sexist ugly time and Tarantino is not celebrating that aspect of the culture, he seems fairly horrified by it quite frankly. My other big takeaway is the really explicit amount of gore, in truth Tarantino has never been a gore hound (despite an undeserved reputation in this area). Nevertheless this time where the entire cast is trapped in a Wyoming Road House during a blizzard the sheer confines literally compel a classically Hershel Gordon Lewisian approach to gunshot trauma. Score one for Tarantino for figuring out that unpleasant little fact. In short I loved it, I loved the presentation the whole seemingly languid exercise, Tarantino is a friend to cinema my only complaint is that he seems hell bent on composing bookends to vanished genres ("Epic Blacksploitation, "Panavision Color Westerns", "ShitHouse Americans Kicking Ass War Movies")...I'm starting to wish he'd try to work his way back to a contemporary context. On the other hand....if he has more like "The Hateful Eight" up his sleeve, then Quentin stay in the past, don't come back take a second look at Biker Movies and Beach Party Musicals!! Have At It!