Monday, June 8, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
So, if you don't mind a shamefull plug (trust me, I don't see a dime!), I think that Draculas, Vampires and Other Undead Forms is a really great read for those who love Vampires. I imagine a trade paperback will come out sometime in the not too distant future, but the hardcover is NICE.
Next up, a review of I, Desire when I can find a minute or two. Grading finals for four classes is munching all available time...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sure - as Rodney Dangerfield says in "Back to School" - "piece of cake!" Thank God this doesn't say ALL-TIME favorite film characters - as that would be very difficult if not impossible. When you've seen thousands and thousands of films it's hard enough to pick 10 random favorites, let alone all-time favorites...
Actually, I decided to play it pretty basic and simple here. I just...well, I just thought of 10 random and immediate characters that I loved for some particular reason or another and started to look for pictures of them. I won't go into great detail after each selection - some may require no explanation at all. This was very fun and actually not as complicated as I thought it would be. The trick was to just go with first thoughts, if I started to refine and cultivate a list, oh boy, that would be another story altogether!
Heavy Metal (1981)
If you have seen this film then I don't think I need to go into any explanation with Ramona. If you haven't, tsk tsk. GET ON THAT.
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
I can't say that I'd want to pal around with Chick and Wilbur all the time, but every now and then would be a hoot! Especially at Masquerade Balls!
Lawrence Woolsey as portrayed by John Goodman
Clearly based off of legendary producer, director William Castle, Matinee's Lawrence Woolsey (beautifully realized by Goodman) is a real sentimental favorite of mine. He tells it like it is and with a great deal of insight and fatherly wisdom. What a mentor he is in this film! Keep your eyes open he advises us - don't cover them up during the scary parts. His parable of the first horror film (much like Plato's Cave) is a bit of movie magic genius.
Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo "Tracy" as portrayed by Diana Rigg
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Salvatore Di Vita as portrayed by Jacques Perrin
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Quiet, still, understated. Perrin's facial expressions blow you away. He's amazing. The most sentimental, nostalgic film about films of all-time. If someone doesn't get weepy at the end of this film, don't trust them! They're inhuman.
The Great Race (1965)
The Verdict (1981)
"So much of the time we're just lost. We say please God, tell us, what is right, what is true. And there is no justice. The rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie, and after a time we become dead. ... We think of ourselves as victims, we become victims. We become, we become weak. ... "In my religion, we say act as if you had faith. ... If we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. ... I believe there is justice in our hearts."
Never do you root for a Paul Newman character MORE than in the very brilliant (and my favorite) Paul Newman performance and film - Sydney Lumet's masterstroke, The Verdict.
Well, there ya have it. Ten quick gut reactions. I'm actually quite proud of this post. It took almost no time to put together (except for the Cathy Moriarty and Ard stills which I had to grab from their respective DVDs). It was put together quickly and I like my choices. If this HAD BEEN 10 ALL TIME favorites, I would've been screwed (I did have number 10 ready to go though - Robert Shaw's "Quint" from Jaws). And lastly, if my friend Taliesin should be reading - our review of I, Desire is coming up very soon!
I wasn't tagged in this meme - rather I saw it on some blogs and, on the spur of the moment, decided to join in. So, I can't in good conscience tag anyone else. However, should you want to participate - let me know you did with a tag back or comment. Cheers!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
This past Saturday night was very special. Over the years, as my career has blossomed, I've been lucky enough to spend quality time with many motion picture actors and directors. This has been facilitated by my good friends at Synapse Films, Jerry Chandler and Don May Jr, and my good friend, the historian, scholar and author Carlos Aguilar. Don and Jerry flew in the legendary Swedish actress, model, publisher, and popular culture icon, Christina Lindberg and her friend, promoter and Klubb Super 8 founder, Rickard Gramfors. This is indeed a rare occurrence - Christina retired from the industry many years ago to go onto a very successful career in aviation publishing. Her appearance at this year's Cinema Wasteland convention was THE cult cinema event of the year. Christina was constantly occupied. CONSTANTLY. Her popularity has not lessened or diminished in any way over the last thirty years - on the contrary, she has more legions of fans than she could possibly imagine. But more on that later. One fan, in particular, had driven from Florida for 20 hours STRAIGHT just to see her and get her autograph before returning back to Florida. Now, that is devotion. Speaking of devotion, check out this tattoo -
CINEMA WASTELAND, APRIL 2009
After the con shut down for the evening at 7pm, a small party of us went to a nice local restaurant to have dinner and relax. Rickard had asked, "would you like to sit next to Christina?" A rhetorical queston... What followed was a lovely time and what is and what will remain a very sweet and cherished memory.
In fact, it is VERY difficult to find pics of Christina smiling. I've got a good little behind the scenes pic of Christina on the set of Thriller having a cigarette and coming close to a full-on smile, but not quite (at left). We talked of many matters. Since she had been answering questions about films all day, I steered the conversation more towards aviation, travel, culture, my times in Europe, etc. But, we did talk about Thriller, A Cruel Picture (a.k.a They Call Her One Eye) - she had a lot to say about the making of that film! Some great behind the scenes stories...
(Taken by Christina while I was giving her instructions - hence my weird, Hanson Brother face)
Always a good time in Cleveland
Christina and Don May Jr.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I ripped this Universal Logo Montage from my Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) dvd.
This was the montage that was cut together for this first wave of Universal Classic Monsters dvd's - long since out of print.
I get a lump in my throat every time I watch it. I wanted to share it with you as I find it timeless and beautiful. It's MY WORLD. Please have a look - it's very short.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
“The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”
I was awarded this very flattering award by my friend Taliesin of Taliesin Meets the Vampires (the greatest blog on all things vampire - full stop). I humbly accept this award and in the spirit it was given pass it on to some bloggers (some of whom may already have this award) who have made a constant and steady difference in my life. One is requested to pass on this award to five people who you feel embody the nature and spirit of this award. As such, to my friends:
Gilligan - who always leaves me a thought provoking comment or word of thanks and whose Retrospace is very often the highlight of a given day
Bill - my amigo in China whose Uranium Cafe always spellbinds. His new podcasts are even more illuminating - please keep them coming! Bill is the older brother I once had.
Ed - a good personal friend whose blog, though still young, is flourishing at a steady clip and providing me with a great deal of expertise on all things Hong Kong. Find him at Teresa Mak & Other Hong Kong Actresses
Erik - Another good personal friend and comrade in arms in our never ending doctoral endeavors. You can read all about Erik's Memorable Fancies
And lastly, to Joe - who inspired me to set up this blog in the first place. Joe, like yours truly, does not post as often as he would like, but when he is inspired to do so - you should take note. Joe, like his blog title, is Always Returning to my blog with many kind things to say.
There are many more of you (you know who you are) who I would like to share this with - and in fact I DO. These are just a few shout outs that I felt needed mentioning...
Cheers and thanks for reading my crap.
Wanna go for a ride on my time machine? If so, read on, and buckle up cuz we're going 29 years back. Yes, grab your Jack Nicholson butcher knife, Olivia Newton John roller skates, and of course, ol' Billy Barool (Billy, Billy, Billy...) as we take a look at several months worth of releases from the year, our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty.
So, what exactly am I getting at in this blog post? Well, I was gathering data for a large project and stumbled across a listing of release dates, by week, of some major films spread across various studios during these months. The thing is - I've seen every single one of these film, some dozens of times and many at the theaters in 1980. And, it struck me. Motherfucker, that's some list of films.
So impressive in fact that it got me thinking just how much less we appear to demand from our culture industry "these days." Now, granted, that's not saying much, but look at the partial list of films below and, well, you be the judge. Not a bum film in the lot as far as I'm concerned.
Also granted, I'm looking at this list of films through the perhaps "corrective" lens of 29 years. So, just how much of this is nostalgia and how much of it is valid is debatable. However, I saw many of these films in the theater at the time of their release and the rest within a year or two later - on home video, on "ON TV", or on network television and I loved every single one of them. I ask you, when was the last time we had a four or five month stretch that read like this?
Friday, February 08th 1980
Friday, February 15th 1980
Friday, February 29th 1980
Friday, March 07th 1980
Friday, March 14th 1980
Friday, March 21st 1980
Friday, March 28th 1980
Friday, May 09th 1980
"Friday the 13th"
Friday, May 16th 1980
Friday, May 30th 1980
Friday, June 06th 1980
Friday, June 13th 1980
Friday, June 20th 1980
"The Blues Brothers" (saw in theater)
Friday, June 27th 1980
Wednesday, July 02nd 1980
Friday, July 11th 1980
Friday, July 18th 1980
Friday, July 18th 1980
Friday, August 08th 1980
Some of my favorite movies of all-time (as well as most beloved by the public) are in this short and modest list. Caddyshack? The Blues Brothers? The Shining? Friday the 13th? Airplane? Mad Max? Caligula? Not to mention total cult faves like Little Darlings, The Final Countdown, The Long Riders, The Stunt Man and Xanadu. What the fuck do we get nowadays? For me, it amounts to a film I feel like seeing every two or three months and one that I actually go to every 4.
At any rate - if I dug up this time capsule and found these many reels of film, were I a cultural anthroplogist, I might conclude that - well I think you know what I would conclude...
I don't belong here - I belong there. Sure could use me a Tardis.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Just a quick note today: The IMDB forums are always a wildly mixed-bag of citizen journalism; from insane off-topic conspiracy theories to the occasional serious-minded criticism. With that in mind, I have to say that this is my all-time favorite review from a registered viewer. I just don't think it gets any better than this - Regarding the brilliant "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligans Island", one reviewer wrote:
Even Better than the Novel!
"This movie is incredible! Amazing! It had everything! It is truly shocking that it was a made for TV production, it has epic blockbuster written all over it. Name it and this movie has it. The Harlem Globetrotters, greedy developers, Gilligan, Mary-Ann, The Professor, The Skipper, the millionaire and his wife, the rest, tourists, basketball in an exotic Caribbean location....... this movie has everything! EVERYTHING! ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! You should be grateful, very grateful, that we get entertainment such as this. The world is good."
Without question, I deem this review capsule "Best Review Ever." It's irrelevant to me whether the sarcasm is because this person truly loves this or is just having some fun. It's a bit of both to me and I love him/her for it!
I love my Gilligan's Island and with this in mind I give the following sidenote. I was watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire? just two nights ago and one of the easy, piece o' cake early questions was: "What character was the 'movie star' on Gilligan's Island? Of course, "Ginger Grant" was among the four choices and the contestant, a young woman in her, say, mid 20's was completely frickin' clueless. Meredith Viera kidded her that "c'mon this is easy" to which the young lady said, I'm prettty sure that this show was on before I was born - to which Meredith, feeling the victim of agism, gave the camera a "thanks a helluva lot ya little brat" look.
Ya know, the previous 4.5 billion years happened "before I was born" but that doesn't mean that I don't want to know a little something about them. Even if this was just a stupid bit of 'pop culture' icon trivia, I felt Meredith's pain... Ultimately, she had to poll the audience, 99% of whom told her who it was. You'd think on a television show that is all about pop culture trivia, a contestant wouldn't pull the "before my time" bit. Wow. Why do I constantly feel so out of touch with the generations that came after me?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Probably my favorite ending of any movie in the last twenty years is Noah Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming. I LOVED this movie. It was exactly about "me" when it came out (1995) - I was in the exact same place as the central characters, a quarter of a century old, a bachelor's in hand, the ability to think deeply about seemingly important matters but completely impotent at attending to them, not a farthing of wisdom, and a personal and professional compass that was impervious to magnetism - in other words... stuck.
The film centers around, among other things, a relationship between protagonist Grover (Josh Hamilton) and Jane (one of my favorite actresses, the lovely- Olivia D'abo, at left). The story is intentionally fragmented and disjointed - told in flashbacks and in the present. It is a beautifully realized relationship and it is expertly revealed to us, aided by remarkable dialogue and sparkling performances by the two leads. We are given bits and pieces of the many stages of their relationship (all the while knowing that Jane is currently in Prague) just as we are given bits and pieces of a telephone message that Jane has left from Prague. A message Grover can't really muster up the courage to listen to in its entirety. This propels us to the film's daring, original, and sentimental conclusion. I can watch it over and over and over and over...
Clearly, it is not my intent to discuss the ending - just to say that it is one of my favorite endings of all time and certainly claims the top spot for the last two decades at least. Can't recommend this film enough - especially should you find yourself at "Bachelor's End."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I concur with my friend on all of his points. But, something bothers me greatly about The Watchmen. It has nothing to do with the film per se - it has to do with the general reception of the film. I'm confounded by the wishy washy, iffy, tentative, "you should pass on this one" reviews that I have encountered. Now, I have said over and over that I could give a rat's ass for movie reviewers and to this I emphatically hold. But, as we walked out into the bright sun yesterday, I remember saying to Erik that there seemed to be, to me at least, an odd similarity between one of the film's storylines (namely that the people of the world weren't ready for a particular truth regarding the outcome of the plot) and the reception of the film to date (only a week I know). I thought that perhaps The Dark Knight would have - to a degree - primed mainstream audiences for a certain amount of intellectual craft in their superhero films. The genius of The Watchmen lay in its adult (i.e., sophisticated) treatments of sometimes complicated plot and story elements - I felt that this SHOULD have been a major selling point. Here is a thinking man's superhero film. Here's The Thin Red Line vs. Saving Private Ryan. But therein lies the rub - for just as The Thin Red Line was unjustly maligned as "boring", "stupid", and "it sucked" by the popcorn gobbling masses - so too is The Watchmen receiving such witless/idiotic criticisms. What it comes down to is this: I think that The Watchmen is too smart for the average viewer and too slippery for your average critic. Just like the citizens aren't ready for a truth, the viewers of the film can't handle an intellectual superhero movie (Ang Lee's The Hulk befell the same fate). Well, what can one expect from a brilliant, ground-breaking 12 issue mini-series that is a treatise on the cruelty of human existence. SO, for the record, I thought The Watchmen was magnificent. But, I'm not done quite yet.
Do these whiny reviews of The Watchmen (one, in particular, claimed that the reviewer looked at his watch three and half times during the film, a valid criterion apparently of "good" and "bad", but at least it was his wristwatch [an icon of the film] and not his damned cell phone) in some way confirm or at least lean towards an affirmation that intellectualism is indeed very dead today? Erik pointed out that one "critic" claimed the film to be "dated" or "embalmed" in the 80s. What the fuck does that mean? Uhm, It takes place in the 80s. Is that really a valid criticism anyways? Gee, Glory feels dated, a little too "Civil War" for my tastes. I am certain that he was probably referring to the idea that thermo-nuclear war is just so "yesterday." Now what this film needs is a terrorist threat - yeah, the film would have resonated far more if there was a terrorist threat! PLEASE. Terrorism is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING compared to nuclear war (one of the valid reasons the world polices nuclear proliferation - terrorists really shouldn't have those... but then again - who should?). There is nothing to terrorize in the aftermath of nuclear strikes...
The Watchmen dramatizes an age old dialectic of man vs. nature (a common theme in Moore's work and a common theme to many of the finest literature, cinema and philosophy of the last two centuries). The idea that human beings can harness the very energy of the sun is the greatest philosophical mind-fuck in history. As Eisenhower said - "from the musket to the small cannon to the hydrogen bomb in a single life-time" - well, that's moving pretty quick folks. This dialogue of man overpowering nature, taming nature is central to Moore's work - "If nature were to shrug or to merely raise her eyebrow then we should all be gone..." Have a look below at the 4:19 mark below to about the 9:00 minute if you please (thanks).
Richard Corliss of Time magazine said "...this Watchmen is more like a swatch-man." and I prefer not to hazard for sure what exactly that means, but I have an idea and I don't think it's too flattering. He also offered "It certainly contains its share of popcorn breaks: hit the concession stand whenever Dan and Laurie start their mooning." Wow, that's just harsh. To be fair, Corliss found some things to admire, but like most reviews I read - The Watchmen got DOGGED. I guess, according to the majority of reviews I peeked at, the world needs more shallow entertainment. So, Catwoman II anyone?
The film receives the coveted highest ranking: The Klinger Statue of Liberty. Reserved for films that are of considerable significance in advancing the art of cinema - or at least that's the case in this man's humble opinion.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
No time these days for my home away from home - my Trash Aesthetics... Too much happening, but I will try to occasionally get something up. Speaking of which - IT'S SHIRLEY MANSON DAY!
I love Shirley Manson. I would take the time and actually make this a love letter to her, but as previously stated, I am short on time these days... However, should she ever drop by Trash Aesthetics and would actually like to hear said letter - well Shirley, just give us a wink then. Kinda like this:
I always felt that Garbage was one of the more relevant bands of the 90s (and today). Around the time that alternative went mainstream Garbage came on the scene and did so with such grand style and talent that you HAD to stand up and take notice. Not to mention that this band's Scottish vocalist simply commanded your gaze. She was and (my oh my) still is so lovely and talented... Longevity and talent. A real library of great songs to this band, one of which has always been very important to me.
I'm Only Happy When it Rains is a masterpiece of a song. The phrase "Pour your misery down on me" is one of my favorite lyrics of all time. In any language it is poetic and certainly a powerful signifier. Pour - Your - Misery - Down - On - Me
The phrase in relation to the context of the song, and the WAY in which Shirley sings it GETS ME EVERY TIME - have a listen:
Amazing. Truly. That was in 2007 I think.
So, I love Shirley in Garbage, this much is clear. But wait! There's more! Beautiful and talented right - so she must be a total bitch or ego-maniacal or both or whatever stereotype should be by extension associated. Don't think so. She's very well-spoken, intelligent, giving of her time and energy to many causes, and self-effacing with the proper amounts of humility and confidence. In all the years I've had Shirley on my radar, she has exhibited true class while skirting the blender blades of the entertainment industry. I just love her. Marry Me Shirley!
Shirley has an incredible sense of humor and she has without doubt THE GREATEST LAUGH I have ever heard. GOD BLESS Craig Ferguson - who gets her to laugh constantly in this hilarious clip from his show. Two Scots - having a great time (okay, one former Scotsman - Craig would make a big deal out of that). Shirley is hilarious herself and I could watch these two all night - but my God, that laugh of hers. Could anyone ever truly tire of that?
And lastly, multi-talented Shirley has some very decent chops as an actress. I am loving her performance on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. For those who are not in the know - she plays a T-1000 (yup, one of them liquid metal cyborgs). Yup.
Ah, to be the lucky man who gets to listen to Shirley Manson laugh.
Gotta run. Be back in the near future with a post on Cathy Moriarty - All the best, Chick Young XXOO.