Monday, March 27, 2017
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
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
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