Sunday, June 18, 2017

Passages: Adam West....

Let the record show that Adam West spent about twenty years of his post "Batman" career desperately trying to "Escape the Cape" with absolutely no luck. He eked out a precarious living with personal appearances and the occasional guest starring role on television. The great irony of West's Career is that he was a classically handsome actor whose consistent go-to was to underplay the scene, this served him well when he was playing the Campy Caped Crusader as an island of calm amidst absurdist berserkers. Alas he was fatally typecast as a superhero and an over the top one at that, lost in that stereotype is the Westian dry wit and underplaying that kept the show on track for 2.5 years. I personally think the 1989 Burton-Keaton Batman was weirdly the making of Adam West, the film franchise lurched so far away from the old show's "Gilbert & Sullivan" vibe it gave the actor some territory to defend as the zeitgeist's "Batman Emeritus", West could credibly reinvent himself as the "Bright Knight" the family friendly Caped Crusader whose actions you'd never have to explain away to your kids. Every time the role got recast someone somewhere would track West down to get his opinion of "The New Guy". In the end, Adam West & Burt Ward MADE Batman into a inescapable cultural trope, the endless re-runs familiarized generations of audiences with the depth and extent of the Caped Crusader's priceless Rogue's Gallery, its that very saturation that made it easy for Tim Burton and his successors to bring Batman to the Big Screen. Adam West didn't need to "Escape the Cape" he'd handed it off with dignity and respect...and quietly segued into doing cartoon voice work. Say what you like, but Adam West was on An Odd Counterintuitive "A-List" of a disparate collection of Hollywood Actors whose fame derives literally from the cultural saturation that being in permanent re-run rotation on ye old UHF TV Stations. That is a mad tea party indeed, Co-ruled by William Shatner and Adam West, with its own collection of clowns Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jim Nabors, Lucille Ball, Bob Crane, a vast sub strata of talented character players from Jonathan Harris to Leonard Nimoy & a potent reserve of distaff performers; Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, Elizabeth Montgomery, Tina Louise & Dawn Wells with dozens more. All of these actors had Fame, few of them were able to monetize it or parlay it into successive projects, And Adam West was the deadpan Emperor of Them All. His memoirs are instructive, chiefly but reinforcing the notion that even mediocre actors need to prepare and do their research. Its also a stunning compendium of all the risqué encounters one can rack up when you catch the cultural wave and ride it to glory playing Batman on TV for a few years. He held his ground to the last, and even managed to revive his version of Batman in recent animated feature (the inevitable sequel's voice tracks were themselves only recently completed, reputedly featuring is UHF Co-Emperor William Shatner as "Two Face" typecasting indeed). But time is no friend to the DemiGods of Our Youth and last week leukemia finally fetched Adam West off the way no Giant Carnivorous Clam ever could. If Warner Brothers really wants to honor the man who put "Batman" squarely in the center of the cultural zeitgeist they could start by scouring the vaults for UnEdited Episodes of ye old Television Show, the very expensive DVD release a few years ago while very good looking is still archiving trimmed episodes..."Adam West UnCut!" should be our battle cry!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Wonder Woman" (2017)

Finally! The Amazon busts into feature films as an "all up" tentpole property...seventy plus years after she first debuted in the comics during WW II...but who is counting. Generally speaking, I liked the film, if Gal Gadot keeps her health then she can easily play Wonder Woman for the next decade she has a nice easy comfortable persona and some reasonable action chops which is really all anyone wants in a Wonder Woman Actress. Of course almost all of DC's contemporary Filmography has been so problematic that the bar was set awfully low for Wonder Woman, so it was no shock Gadot vaulted over it with ease. I also wanna give Chris Pine some props for the thankless role of Wonder Woman's nominal SO Steve Trevor, he was neither superfluous nor whiny...he made no mistakes (these day's that the equivalent of a Roman Triumph in Hollywood). With out delving in spoilage I'm not sure how he perpetuates as a character as the inevitable sequels unspool but thats the scriptwriter's issue not mine. No if I have an issue with the movie is that the third act is pretty formulaic and predictable drawing heavily on "Batman v. Superman"....not much new ground was broken action wise for all of Gadot's eye catching aerobatics. If Patty Jenkins does the sequel she'd be well advised to keep a weather eye on that third act thats the very point where you don't want to go on AutoPilot. And I say that with all due respect for a remarkable achievement having finally gotten the DCU film franchise out of the proverbial sand trap. The Film also has the usual handful of plot gaps (a German gunboat goes inexplicably missing, a real life German General dies prematurely, phone lines from the Western Front reach all the way to Fleet Street in London) but thats pretty much the price of doing business in the DCU at this point. But at last DC has their breakthrough movie after dozens of lamentable misfires, I wonder if they can hold on to it...?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

So at the Wonder Woman Premiere....

ya think we will see "Ellie Wood Walker" strolling triumphantly down the Red Carpet? After all Ms Wood-Walker WAS the first actress ever to "play Wonder Woman" even if it was a five minute test reel for a proposed Wonder Woman SITCOM back in 1967....it was never meant to be seen, but if anyone ever finds that elusive thirty five page script, drop me a line will ya!?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

If you get a chance...

Definitely get to the Somerville Theatre where "Colossal" is still lingering, it is quite likely the only Kaiju movie that Anne Hathaway will ever do sans coercion so on those grounds alone its a must-see. Besides I've waited all my life for a Giant Monster Movie grounded so very solidly on the twin horrors of alcoholism and spousal abuse...I mean we had to wait forever for this right???!!! Just see it, its good, once again a new age of Kaiju movies is descending upon us (Universal is dreaming of a Godzilla-Rhodan, Ghirodah - King Kong mashup that'll likely see the light of day ere long no matter how wearisome the line up may be)...before the wave breaks and carries us all off, why not see a good one with a worthwhile plot? Besides if you never will see again Anne Hathaway in a monster movie, you sure as shit will never see Jason Sudeikis playing an abusive stalker....

Sunday, April 02, 2017

"Life" (2017)...

a film experience for all you old fashioned movie fans who long to see an voracious alien super parasite eat Ryan Reynold's internal organs from the inside out. After that its a slipshod mess with unintelligible over filtered audio....but if ya wanna see Ryan Reynolds bleed out then by all means make tracks to the cinema!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Local Boy Makes Good.....then makes cuts.....

Garo Nigoghossian did everything right. He raised the money, produced directed and acted in an intense ultra violent homage to 1970's drive in exploitation flicks, he fought with his DP, hired & fired, held out for excellence, and made it as gruesome as his vision demanded. And that was, the story of "Dangerous People" (2016) Now Amazon Video-On-Demand wants artists like Garo to cut out the gruesomeness and naughty bits and take it down a peg or three from a potentially completely necessary "Hard-R" rating. Mind you they don't demand this of Sony or Columbia or any of the outfits with serious cashola behind them, but they do have an entirely arbitrary and artificial hierarchy for filmmakers and content that can't push back. Alas Garo, a true friend of the movies in every way can't push back, lacking access to big name screen talent and studio backing he has to opt for the traditional allies of exploitation filmmaking intensity and gore...just the things that Amazon VOD doesn't want competing with a menu suffused with hopeless remakes of Japanese horror films and literally thousands of dubious-ass zombie flicks. I think this is wrong, no one is asking Rob Zombie or George Romero to remove the viscera from their respective films, why should Garo? His film is, make no mistake pretty intense and gruesome, but it's supposed to be!!! Just as you his audience are supposed to draw a free and fair opinion about "Dangerous People" unfiltered by Amazon VOD's entirely corporately driven biases. Movie going as an experience is changing, I suspect the days of movie houses may be numbered. Oh they won't vanish any more than live theatre vanished when Chaplin started twirling his cane, but the movie house is no longer going to be the prime money maker for movies in general distributions. features like "Dangerous People" face long odds, with little hope of cracking legit movie house distribution beyond the inconstant festival circuit. Various iterations of VOD are the wave of the future, and those platforms should be administered fairly and without any double standards. Right now Amazon VOD isn't being a good corporate citizen...I favor the democratic approach insofar as the audience should be allowed to decide a film's worth in the classic fashion, no cuts, no biases no chicanery. Anyway Garo has broke new ground here in the exploitation department, I won't say how, that would be sinister spoilage, but it is pretty awesomely gruesome which is exactly how it should be. and for that alone he deserves praise as an artist, not this sort of double dealing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Birthday William Shatner...

86 years young today. You Are Large, You Contain Multitudes (literally yo!) and every day of it you stare down a Terrible Beast Called Talent. You are an Epigram, a Confucian Analect, High Camp, A Joke, A Monster Out of Toronto, a Collector of Ex Wives & a discerning client of the worst divorce lawyers in California. For that reason and many many more you are working the opening of a Sock Drawer somewhere in the World Tonight...hey they met your price whatcha gonna do? To Call Shatner a giant is sheer cliche'...Shit The Giants All Want His Autograph. His Persona is so, Shatneresque we literally forget his hard won acting bona fides (forged from years of guest star work on TV and a long wandering path thru American Theater and B-Movies). I've always maintained that Captain Kirk was an anomaly for him, Shatner's best work all invokes his smooth faintly nasty preening quality, villains were his stock in trade...poor guy got typecast as The Hero on "Star Trek" and those opportunities to play malevolence vanished. What of it, I am rotten glad to hear he is soldiering on, I'd watch him working sock puppets or do the PA announcements at Stop-n-Shop...whatever it is, he'll commit to it, one thousand percent.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Channel Zero Returns, Friday Night March 10th...

With a Show that Could Only Be Called: "Saturday Morning, On Friday Night!" Back in 1965, CBS TV's VP for Daytime Programming, Fred Silverman, had a dream....turn his backwater assignment into a seriously profit making center for the Tiffany Network. He concentrated his attention to CBS' ramshackle Saturday Morning KidVid Schedule, which was then taking a drubbing from ABC who had the "Beatles" cartoon. According Silverman decided to option some big guns, brokering a deal between Filmation Studios and DC Comics to bring Superman to Saturday Morning for the Very First Time. Granted it was a crude and cheap adaptation, reliant on tons of stock footage, but the comics in those days were literally selling in the millions & Kal El was Money in the Bank with a gigantic fanbase. Providentially "The New Adventures of Superman" hit the Saturday Morning Schedule in the Fall of 1966 just at the absolute Imperial High Noon of Batmania, in the space of a year Saturday Morning went from being a reserve for Heckle & Jeckle or Top Cat and became a virtual free fire zone presided over by The Lone Ranger, Superman & "Frankenstein Jr". In short action, adventure and yes, violence had taken over the entire Saturday Morning Schedule. But it was a controversial trend especially in an environment overlooked by serious criticism and in a country wracked by the Viet Nam War, rioting and countless other crisis & issues. Controversy indeed, a bare two years after the debut of "Space Ghost" on CBS the "National Commission on Civil Disorders" was calling children's TV and its violent content a "dangerous babysitter". The Christian Science Monitor was counted 162 acts of violence on the 1968 Saturday Morning Schedule between the hours of 7:30am to 9:30am.... In short, the backlash was on, Batmania peaked and out in the wings humor driven fare like "Archie" and "Scooby Do" were awaiting their cues. The Big Three Networks were getting nervous and in truth they had a lot to be nervous about...after all their schedules were built around "Mightor" a superhero who literally fought crime among hominids, a character called "Super President" and even "Moby Dick" Ahab's White Whale somehow became scourge to EvilDoers. Things were plainly getting a little crazy in a crazy time in US History...none of this could last even if Saturday Morning had become very profitable territory for all three networks. Meanwhile in Newton Ma., Peggy Charren was hosting viewing parties for Saturday Morning TV in all it's chaotic violent sugar coated cereal glory while laying the groundwork for a new lobbying group "Action for Children's Television". ACT was dead set against violent children's TV but also had a larger mission to break up the alliance between toy manufacturers, candy bar distributors and "mindless"Saturday Morning TV. An era was coming to end, comedy & inoffensive music would soon rule the schedule, typically Superman hung in there along with Aquaman (of all people) thru 1970, Space Ghost had long since hung on his cape, literally you wouldn't see two cartoon characters throw punches at one another again until the early 1990s. The Watergate Scandals quite literally brought about a backlash within a backlash. Thanks to Dick Nixon's thin skin and audio taped vulgarity, by 1973 sociologists and other alleged experts will filling up Saturday Morning Cartoons with ernest lectures about personal honesty and small group dynamics, what was inane was now utterly inert & stultifying. Channel Zero though, does not judge, our philosophy is "Screen and Be Damned", so on Friday Night we plan to screen a good representative and more importantly diverse selection of cartoons from that weird, eccentric & violent era of Saturday Morning Television, the obscure and the bombastic, everything from Tom Sawyer to The Lone Ranger (a cartoon so blatantly violent as to give Peggy Charren the righteous bed spins) and a lot more plainly goofy stuff in between...there was a lot more going on than mere brawls and shootouts, we can prove it on Friday Night! So c'mon by.... The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma Friday March 10th 8pm Admission: $7.50 (cash only) 617-625-5700

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar Predictions...

This is a bit of a misnomer, I only saw three of the nominated pictures this year and I'm pretty sure it is a three dogfight between "Hidden Figures", "La-La Land" & "Manchester by the Sea". Arrival, Amy Adams killed it in this one, I never did see the Big Twist Coming...but this one won't win lets face it. Hacksaw Ridge, The rehabilitation of Mel Gibson is proof positive that Hollywood willing to make exceptions for the right Alt Right Drunken Racist Buffoon.... Hell or High Water, I loved this movie, so like Arrival, it'll do no business whatsoever. Hidden Figures, I liked this one as well (I'm a sucker for the Golden Age of Manned Space Flight), but it's Uplift is just a tad stilted as well, but then Hollywood likes em' stilted and they've yet to answer the whole #Oscarsowhite meme. So I'm guessing "Hidden Figures" will close at the finish. My main takeaway is that there will probably be A LOT of politics tonight, I doubt anyone will pass up the opportunity to cheap shot the So Called President.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pick of the Week:

It is definitely, tomorrow night's one-time-only screening of "Dangerous People" at the Somerville Theatre (micro-cinema) at 7:15pm. Dangerous People takes place in the early 1970’s and is about two murders who pick up a girl in a bar and then take her back to their apartment. A moment of brutal violence occurs which leads to a series of mind games to see who lives and who dies. Dangerous People is psychedelic trip that is equal parts crazy, scary, sexy, funny, sick and tragic. Starring Playboy model Angelina Leigh and Vincent Stalba and is directed by local boy Garo Nigoghossian. Okay he is local by way of Florida, but these days we have to support local independent cinema however we must! Besides the damn thing sounds right up my alley!Dangerous People will be distributed later this year by SGL Entertainment on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and Streaming. Tickets are $8 at the door, The Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma. This is something of a homecoming for Garo, this is likely the above film's only public screening, so one hope's the event will be a success....remember eight bucks cash at the door who can beat a deal like that???

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Channel Zero Returns Next Month!!

“SATURDAY MORNING ON FRIDAY NIGHT!” (An Unorthodox Review of Classic Saturday Morning Cartoons!) What do The Lone Ranger, Beanie & Cecil, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn & Becky Thatcher, A Superheroic Rock Band called “The Impossibles” or a something called “Frankenstein Jr” have in common? They & many other cartoons once ruled Saturday Morning TV back in the late 1960’s, a critic-free zone where all kids of craziness constituted reasonable children’s entertainment. Join us for this unique exploration of a now vanished institution as we screen a dozen examples from the golden Age of Saturday Morning KidVid! The Somerville Theatre Micro Cinema 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma Friday March 10th 8pm-10pm Admission: $7.50 Friday March 10th (cash Only, tickets on sale thirty minutes prior to showtime)

There are rumors that

Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, has some sort of cameo lined up in the upcoming "Wonder Woman Movie" next summer. For the Love of Hera, let it be a brief one, Arnie was a goodly sized reason "Batman and Robin" tanked at the Box Office (the guy can't play evil he just can't)...assuming of course he is indeed playing a bad guy. The way Hollywood rewrites this comic book properties we will be lucky he isn't the Amazon's Estranged Father or something....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ed Ansin's Plan over at the Newly Independent Channel Seven

is apparently to hype today's Patriot's Game...all day long and then run a game show when everyone switches over to watch the actual game at 8pm on CBS.... Sheer genius. If I was Ed I'd figure out some way to get some original programming going, maybe some political roundtable chat shows....or revive a variant "Sneak Previews". Hell start a Saturday Night monster movie type thing....its working Gangbusters on ME-TV with "Svengoolie". Or else stop making stupid decisions like letting a major network feed slip thru your fingers....

Sunday, January 01, 2017

My Top Movies for 2016....

plus some occasional notes... "Hail Caesar", Its an industry dominated by comic book options,schlocky uplift and video games, and mocking that trend sometimes requires that we dress up George Clooney as a Roman Centurion in a 1953 religious epic.... "10 Cloverfield Lane", You get the impression that John Goodman's phone doesn't ring much anymore with anything particularly challenging. So it was kewl to see him dominate the storyline in what could have easily been a M. Night Shyamalan knock off. "Weiner", Timely portrait of Anthony Weiner, horndawg & pathological narcissist and the numbing effect that has on his very necessary network of enablers. "Tickled" David D'Amato, notorious alleged on line vellication fetishist and stalker, gets his 15 minutes of malign fame. Since we are in the early stages of uploading our very minds into the internet, it seems appropriate to start making documentaries about our entirely curated "self presence" on line...and the weaponization of the same. "Bad Moms" I Laughed My Ass Off...I make no apologies. Mila Kunis & Kristen Bell need to be a new all estrogen comedy team, a'la Laurel & Hardy. I don't care if they are "Bad Lawyers", "Bad Manicurists" or "Bad US Representatives"....its all good to me, those dame got TIMING. And timing is in short supply these days. "Don't Think Twice" Best comedy I saw all summer hands down, caught the improv experience perfectly and the even more subtle process of "Plateau-ing" in your chosen field as well. "Florence Foster Jenkins" Best Movie About a Tone Deaf Opera Diva I've seen since Dorothy Commingore did "Citizen Kane". "Hell of High Water", If the scripts for The Star Trek Franchise Keep Tanking (and I think they will given that Regression to the Mean Rules Hollywood Like Tamerlane Ruled Central Asia) Chris Pine is gonna NEED to keep this movie on his Highlight Reel to Remind All and Sundry He Can Really Act. "The Lovers and the Despot". Dictators can be defied...Love Can Win Out Against The Whole World....and yes this was really a documentary. "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week" This was nothing revelatory, indeed at this point what would constitute a revelation about John Paul George and Ringo anyway? No I put this on my list simply because the famous Shea Stadium Concert (all forty minutes of it) was digitally remastered and included "as is". And THAT proved a revelation, none of those guys could hear their own music or themselves singing to say nothing of Ringo's Beat above that almighty adulatory din and STILL they didn't miss a note!! Practice Counts is my big takeaway.... "Arrival" Simply put the only other science fiction movie I saw this year that spoke to me, it got a little garbled and sentimental towards the end but kept its focus relentlessly on the "big picture" how do we communicate, indeed why do we do it....? Besides Amy Adams is often in bad movies but she is seldom bad herself in any bad movies.