Monday, April 30, 2007

TWITERPATED TIME. Well, things get a little silly in the Spring. Daffy even. Irrefutable evidence of this fact??? Check out the two posted videos below this. Now picture Daffy (Duck, that is) bouncing all over a mountain lake whooping "Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo". Well, in that spirit. . . "Everything is Twiterpated in the Spring, Skunks smell sweet, rabbits sing, Daffodils go daffy and the bluebells ring, the whole wide world's in love. Froggies turn soprano and the birds sing bass, squirrels go nuts every place, there's a twiterpated look on every face cause everyone's in love. When you can't control a grin when your head's inflated Love just socked you on the chin Pal, you're twiterpated! Things begin to happen when a boy meets girl, deer meets doe, squirrel meets squirrel it's a topsy-turvy twiterpated world when everyone's in love." And I love Thurl Ravenscroft (1914-2005). Requiescat in Pace.

Will It Blend? - Glow Sticks

I am placing this (hilarious) video on MY blog since Finky can't seem to manage to post it to HIS. Personal note: This guy is NUTS!

How Close Do YOU Want to Get to a Raging Bill Paxton

Saturday, April 28, 2007

So yeah.
Have you HEARD Amy Winehouse's cover of the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"?!?
Masterful. Simply masterful.

Friday, April 27, 2007

WHAT'S SPINNING? Just a thumbnail regarding the 3 new discs I picked up this week. The first is the new album by Fountains of Wayne: "Traffic and Weather". Now, I've been a fan of this group since the late 90's -- LOOOONG before "Stacy's Mom". And, as a matter of fact, I didn't LIKE "Stacy's Mom" very much; that album had many much better tracks on it but I digress as usual. "Utopia Parkway" was their masterpiece but here we have the new one "Traffic and Weather" which pretty much has a travel theme throughout. The album opener (and single I hear tell) is "Someone To Love" and it's terrific; one of those songs that grows on you the more you listen to it. I also typically LOVE the way the song leads you to think that the lonely man and woman will find each other at the end of the song and then don't. You KNOW I'm all over THAT sentiment like a cheap suit. While "Traffic and Weather" doesn't eclipse "Utopia Parkway", the album has a handful of really good pop that are hooky as hell.
Secondly we have the new album by that amazing jazz chanteuse Jane Monheit. While the lady's voice is technically fantastic, many people have found her singing to be a little short on emotion. And there's some truth to this sentiment. However, Ella Fitzgerald faced the same complaints throughout HER career and look what SHE accomplished. The new album "Surrender" is different in the choice of songs; instead of the old standards Monheit usually populates her albums with, this time out she sings originals, pop covers and bossa nova songs. Monheit has always shined in the past with bossa nova (particularly her take on Jobim's "Waters of March") and she slips into the South American rhythms quite effectively. And among the pop covers we find Jane's take on Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" as well as Willy Wonka's "Pure Imagination". Monheit's voice is much more emotion-flecked than her past albums; it seems she's getting better with age. Hey, in a couple years she's even gonna hit 30! "Surrender" also finds Jane aided by Sergio Mendes and Toots Thieleman. This is the kind of album that BEGS for a heavily-cushioned easy chair to slide into while pouring yourself a cocktail or three. Particularly when Jane sings "So Many Stars".
Thirdly, the new album by the venerable Patti Smith. This one is rather unexpected since "Twelve" is, in fact, an album of covers. Now, Patti Smith doesn't spring to my mind immediately as someone who would do a cover album; however, she sure did the job in the past with "Gloria" and "Because the Night" so I don't know why I should be so surprised. This new album features 12 covers which alternate between songs which she seems BORN to record and complete surprises which seem to oddly work. One song she was born to cover is the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" which sounds EXACTLY like the threatening storm of the lyric's first line. Rather unexpected is her cover of Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule the World" but it still kinda works. And here, like Jane Monheit above, we have Patti Smith covering Stevie Wonder with a rather haunting version of "Pastime Paradise". Then we have Smith's version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" which reworks the song into another animal entirely (while keeping the feel of the original intact). The Nirvana song under Smith's aegis creeps like a dying bullet-ridden gangster crawling from a swamp. Oh yeah, and she used BANJOS on it. The ultimate hippy psychedelic Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit" seems like a total mismatch coming from punk poet Patti Smith but, in fact, her cover version sounds completely "right". In her hands, "White Rabbit" loses all of it's 60's aura and becomes something else again. Think Nurse Ratchet. As cover albums go, this one's pretty substantial.
Well there we have it. 3 albums which are about as different from one another as they can be but 3 albums which I'm thoroughly enjoying at the moment. Now, all I have to do is wait for the new Rufus Wainwright album to come out; the first single from it is superb, don'tcha know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

THE AVENGERS TOP TEN. OK, put away your Mjolnir, I'm talking about Mrs. Emma Peel and John Steed. The Finkmeister complained that I haven't written anything for my blog and needed to. So, I figured I'd write about something he has ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST IN WHATSOEVER. Congrats, Finky. This one's NOT for you.
I recently finished watching the Complete Emma Peel Avengers DVD Box Set -- yeah, all 16 discs of 'em. And I thought I'd list my ten favourite episodes. And here they are (in chronological order):
THE TOWN OF NO RETURN -- This is the first teaming of superspy John Steed with Mrs. Emma Peel (at least the first one broadcast round these here parts and the first one on the DVD box set.) This one's nice and creepy and the B&W photography adds to the menace as the seaside town of Little Bazeley by the Sea finds many agents disappearing into thin air.
THE HOUR THAT NEVER WAS -- This is another B&W episode that has a high creepy quotient as Steed and Emma have an car accident on the way to an air base reunion party only to find the base completely deserted. They wander around trying to find another human being and experience some eerie strangeness. . .some of which is provided by a milk delivery wagon. Oh yeah, and there's machine gun fire and some karate chops from Mrs. Peel.
THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT -- This is one of my faves of them all. It's an Emma episode mainly as Mrs. Peel inherits a country house from an unknown relative. When she goes to look it over, she is trapped inside a psychedelic maze of a house created by a diabolical mastermind. The dizzying scenes of Emma running through the constantly changing halls and the ominous insane decor make this one a winner.
FROM VENUS WITH LOVE -- The first colour episode starts with an astronomer looking through a telescope at the planet Venus. Suddenly, the room becomes incredibly hot and his cold drink boils over in its glass as a mysterious fireball fries the poor fellow. The British Venusian Society suspects an invasion by aliens. This one features guest stars Barbara "Dracula, Prince of Darkness" Shelley and Jon "Doctor Who" Pertwee.
EPIC -- This one is totally over-the-top and frequently hilarious as an old time silent film actor and actress team-up with their cracked in the head old director to stage the Destruction of Mrs. Emma Peel. They're shooting it as a film with the captured Emma -- but the end of the film will feature her REAL death. Peter "Burn Witch Burn" Wyngarde chews the scenery marvelously as the silent film actor. The episode has many set pieces including scenes apeing Westerns, gangster films and vampire movies. It also includes a deliriously terrific surreal sequence where Emma goes to her own funeral.
THE SUPERLATIVE SEVEN -- This one is totally derivative of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" but it doesn't matter; it's done with such a sense of fun and panache that no one will CARE that it's derivative. 7 People (including Steed) are taken aboard an airplane (with no pilot) and dropped off on a deserted island where they disappear one by one in a game controlled by diabolical masterminds. The cast is SUPERB in this one: An incredibly young Donald Sutherland, an even MORE shockingly young Brian Blessed, and a pistol-packing Charlotte Rampling are among the costumed guests. This is mainly a Steed episode with Emma arriving at the end.
THE JOKER -- Another delirious episode which finds Mrs. Peel trapped in a homicidal old dark house; a house decorated with playing cards. This time she is accompanied by a bizarre woman named Ola (Sally Nesbitt) and a strange passer-by (Ronald Lacey). Then there's that spooky German song insessantly playing on the old grammophone: "Meine Liebe, Meine Rose". The diabolical mastermind doesn't intend for Emma to leave the house alive. Some truly bizarre performances by Nesbitt and Lacey and another marvelously macabre set.
RETURN OF THE CYBERNAUTS -- Those mechanical maniacs are back once again; this time controlled by the inimitable Peter Cushing. The original Cyberauts episode (co-starring Michael Gough) just missed the top ten and I'm sure Cushing's presence here pushed this one over the top. Cushing pretends to be a dear friend of Steed and Emma while plotting their deaths utilizing his late brother (Gough's) murderous robotic cybernauts.
DEATH'S DOOR -- A diplomat approaches the door to an important peace conference. . .then turns tail and runs terrified from the door. He has had prophetic dreams ending in his death once he enters that door. Each dream event leading up to his death has come true in his waking life and the diplomat DOES actually die. His replacement at the conference turns and runs from the door as well. What's going on here? Are they REALLY seeing the future??? It's up to Steed and Emma to find out.
MURDERSVILLE -- Little Storping in the Swuff is a quiet, idyllic country village with a difference. It seems you can make a deal with the town and they will allow you to lure anyone to Little Storping to murder them and the townsfolk will see to it that that person is murdered and there will be no trace left of them. This is actually quite frightening in spots as Emma is trapped in a hostile town where her childhood friend has been murdered and disappeared. It's Emma versus the ENTIRE HOMICIDAL TOWN. Things get lethal when the townsfolk actually manage to CAPTURE Mrs. Peel. Strangely, the episode only lets one down at the very end (when Steed arrives to save the day); it seems a little pat and rushed but otherwise a remarkable episode.
So that's it. For the record, the episodes that just missed my top ten include:
The Cybernauts
The Living Dead
A Surfeit of H2O
Man-Eater of Surrey Green
The Hellfire Club a.k.a. A Touch of Brimstone
Never, Never Say Die

Monday, April 16, 2007

SO GUESS WHAT VIDEO I JUST FOUND. While rummaging through my boxes of old OLD videotapes what should I happen to find but this:

"Here I bring in light and earth from the North to brighten our circle and make it strong." -- says he. . .the one with the "C" on his hat. . .and that "C" don't stand for "Campbells".

Yeah, and that was AFTER he burned the floor with charcoal.

Hmmm. . . methinks maybe I'll have to transfer this to a DVD. . .now that I can DO that.

Also, please notice the wonderful retouching I've done to the accompanying picture. I don't have the capacity to upload photos from a videotape source so this is my best approximation at a photographic recreation of the original scene.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Heeeeeere Fishy Fishy Fishy

Was there ever a better comedy team?!?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Coming Next Week . . . the FIRST installment of the continuing adventure of "Little Dude Riding Hood".

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh, I got plenty of nuttin'
And nuttin's plenty for me
I got no car
I got no mule
I got no misery
Oh, I got plenty of nuttin'
And nuttin's plenty for me
I got the sun
I got the moon
I got the deep blue sea

Monday, April 09, 2007

MY EASTER WEEKEND WITH BETTE. Well, I spent probably the most wonderful Easter weekend I could possibly think of: I didn't see a living soul (for the most part) but instead spent the entire weekend with Bette Davis. That's right. Now, I must admit that, although I always liked Ms. Davis, I never considered myself a particular fan of hers. The truth is I simply never saw a great deal of her movies; and the movies I saw were from the "later" . . . that is, "older" Bette Davis movies when she was at the end of her career. We're talking "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", "All About Eve", "The Whales of August", "Death on the Nile", "The Watcher in the Woods" etc. etc. I simply never really saw her pre-1950 catalogue (for the most part). Now, it is true that Penelope once made me watch "Now, Voyager" but that was about 20 years ago and I only thought that movie was simply "OK". Maybe I was too young to appreciate it because my opinion has changed about that one. Well, for some reason, last Friday I decided to buy not one but TWO Bette Davis box sets full of movies I've never seen. That's right; I dropped about $80 on these flicks sight unseen. So, I was taking a chance. And I spent all weekend watching them. And here's what I have to say. I'm now a Bette Davis fan. Now, at the risk of offending my gay friends (Hi Cheeks!!!), I must say that, while the post 1950 Bette Davis of "Baby Jane", "The Star" and "All About Eve" was a great deal of fun, I think she was leaning a little too much on the Bette Davis "caricature" and I prefer the 30's-40's Bette. Now, don't get me wrong; when the material was top notch (as in "All About Eve", "Baby Jane" etc.) the "older" Bette STILL could act and did often sublime jobs on these movies. However, the "young" Bette was a revelation and I can now see where her tremendous reputation comes from. The two box sets contained the following movies: Dark Victory, The Letter, Now Voyager, Mr. Skeffington, The Star, Jezebel, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Marked Woman, Old Acquaintance, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Stardust (the recently made 2 hour documentary on her life). Now, it's rather telling that the movie I liked LEAST of all these was 1952's "The Star" where, despite the fact that Bette was nominated for a best actress Oscar for this one, I found to be substandard Bette Davis "caricature" acting and the film itself to be a pale attempt at a Sunset Blvd. imitation. Other than the scene where Bette and her Oscar get drunk and drive through Hollywood together, I'd say avoid the whole movie. "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" is, of course, a classic. Not a camp classic (the film is much too superbly acted to be merely camp) but a classic with no qualifiers. I'd seen that one before so that's all I have to say about that. "The Letter" (1940) is a classic in my mind. There have been few opening scenes better than this one; the calm, quiet night on the Chinese rubber plantation is broken by the sound of gunshots as Bette comes barrelling down her front stairs emptying her gun into some guy. I'll tell ya, most days I know how she feels and I'd like to do the same thing. It's Bette's picture all the way but the acting of everyone concerned is top notch, the direction by William Wyler is perfection and the photography is a perfect example of what they mean when they say "in glorious black and white". In fact, I watched the movie twice because it just looked so damn good. Dark Victory (1939) is another classic five star movie. Bette was nominated for best actress again for this one but lost to the "juggernaut" that was "Gone With the Wind" that year. This is one of the quintessential "woman's pictures"; this term DOES NOT mean weepy soap opera (although there is that aspect of it) but that the film centers around a woman. Back in the day, they knew how to make a woman's picture; what the hell happened nowadays where an actress can't find a decent role anymore?!? Anyway, this was Bette's favourite film of her years at Warner Brothers (all 18 of 'em) and she's unbelievably good in it. So, in fact, is Geraldine Fitzgerald whom I've never been a fan of . . . until this movie where she's fantastic of Bette's best friend. Hey, even George Brent is adequate. Humphrey Bogart is totally miscast (why oh WHY did they make him fake an Irish brogue?!?) and Ronald Reagan is fine as well as a vacuous playboy who's drunk in every scene. Bette gets to act every possible emotion from diva heiress to bitch to angel; rarely has Bette Davis gotten a chance to act such a sympathetic role. A classic tearjerker. Now, Voyager (1942). Talk about a classic tearjerker. What was I thinking when I didn't think much about this one. This is another undisputed classic. Bette's an introverted "ugly duckling" who has had her spirit smashed by her domineering mother (superb Gladys Cooper -- before she met Robert Redford in the Twilight Zone). Psychiatrist Claude Rains helps her out of her shell and she meets and falls in love with married man Paul Henreid on a cruise. It's one of those movies where nobody's gonna end up happy and we love it. Another classic "woman's picture" with one of the greatest final lines in movie history. For all those of us who have realized that life does NOT offer us happiness and we simply have to take what we can get; Bette Davis speaks for us all when she says: "Let's not as for the moon; we have the stars". Penelope was definitely RIGHT about this one and I stand corrected. Mr. Skeffington (1944). This one I liked not so much. It's still good but nowhere near as good as the previous 3 movies. Claude Rains is back; this time as Bette's unloved husband Mr. Skeffington. Bette is a vain woman who refuses to admit that she's growing old. Her grotesque wig and makeup (after she contracts diptheria) are surely greatly appreciated by her later "Baby Jane"-era fans but I found the movie to be strangely uninvolving. I didn't really care about Bette's character and Claude Rains was such a doormat that he got what he deserved. This one occupies the middle ground in the box set; not a classic but not really bad either. Jezebel (1938). Here's another classic. I never expected to like this one; after all, it's one of those Civil War (actually PRE-Civil War) era movies which I don't find that interesting. The Civil War is the one part of history that I always skip over and "Gone With the Wind" is not one of my favourite films. Of course, this movie is Bette Davis' version of Scarlett O'Hara essentially and I can only say watch "Jezebel" so you won't have to sit through the awful "Gone with the Wind". Bette starts off the movie headstrong and willful; she's gonna do whatever the hell she pleases and damn everyone else. Of course, this behaviour backfires on her and she ends up humble and supplicant. I never thought dresses would be so interesting but there are 3 or 4 different dresses in the film which are almost characters in themselves. The king of them all is that infamous red dress she wears to the 'Lympus Ball where virginal unmarried women are ONLY permitted to wear white. The movie's black and white but you can practically SMELL the redness of her dress as all the other dancers back away from Bette and Henry Fonda as if her red dress was the plague. Naturally, Bette's stubborn behavior loses her fiance Pres (Fonda) who marries another woman. Oh God, the scene where Bette is about to see Fonda after a good deal of time has gone by is a killer; Bette puts on the white dress she SHOULD have worn ages ago to win Fonda back and gets her heart crushed completely. I won't provide any spoilers; you just gotta watch it to find out what happens. Another classic and Bette deservedly won a best actress Oscar for this one. The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) -- This was OK, nothing to write home about. Bette Davis, Monty Wooley, Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante etc. gamely work through this silly bit of fluff that's no classic but not bad. Marked Woman (1937) -- This is one of those typical Warner Bros. gangster movies with Eduardo Cianelli as one of the nastiest mobsters ever depicted in film. This is only half a good movie; some scenes bored me while others were remarkably gripping. One scene involves Bette Davis being pistol-whipped and it's truly disturbing as her screams echo from behind the closed door. This was loosely based on the Lucky Luciano trial where a group of prostitutes testified against the mobster in a media circus. The film makes a great deal of trouble denying that the events and characters depicted bear ANY resemblance to actual people but we're not fooled. Of course, Warner Bros. had to clean it up by making Bette and the other girls into "night club hostesses" but we get the idea. Humphrey Bogart appears as a D.A. obviously based on Thomas A. Dewey; the prosecutor in the Luciano case. Not a bad movie but no classic either. Old Acquaintance (1943) - - This one is a must see merely for the pairing of Bette Davis with Miriam Hopkins in the same film. You think Bette and Joan Crawford were enemies? They were NOTHING compared to Bette and Miriam; these two broads HATED each other!!! You see, Bette slept with Miriam's then-fiancee Franchot Tone during the filming of "Dangerous" and then Bette won a Best Actress Oscar for "Jezebel"; the role that Miriam Hopkins played on the stage. Talk about pissing someone off. Well, the film itself is another of those not classic but pretty good movies but just watching Miriam and Bette go at it raises the enjoyment level. The one scene where Bette finally shakes the living shit outta Miriam is a stunner and worth the price of admission. Finally, the superb documentary "Stardust: The Bette Davis Story" is one of the best of these kind of things I've ever seen. All in all, I'd say spending the weekend with Bette was worth "fastening my seat belt" for!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Paper snowflakes don't melt in the sunshine Plastic roses won't wilt, they'll be alright Paper snowflakes don't melt in the sunshine And glass tears don't dry
Glass tears don't dry
-- Son, Ambulance

Friday, April 06, 2007

Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Easter. Remember the colour of the chocolate bunny is meant to represent to colour of the cross upon which our Lord was. . . .well, Happy Easter anyway.
And ain't that Jean Arthur the tops?!?!?!? Don't you just love her. Since she was notoriously publicity shy, one wonders when (and HOW) she was talked into posing for this little piece of fluff. Here's a trivia question: who said (and in what movie) "I'm hard to get. All you have to do is ask". Well, most people would say Lauren Bacall but they'd be wrong; cuz before her Jean Arthur said it to Cary Grant in "Only Angels Have Wings". And (if I may say so) she gave it a more heartfelt, powerful reading than Betty Bacall's tough-as-nails approach. Director Howard Hawks was known for recycling good bits of business in his later films and this line was reused in a few of his movies.
"Only Angels Have Wings" has turned out to be one of my favourite movies which is a total surprise to me since I never had ANY interest in seeing it. Sure, it had Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell etc. but . . . a movie about airplane flyers?!?!?!?! Nope, not interested. Until, of course, I was forced into buying it in a Cary Grant DVD box set which included other movies I REALLY wanted. So, once I watched them I figured hey what the hell I own it anyway so I might as well watch the damn thing. And let me tell you it was tremendous. The entire cast was excellent and the direction is top notch; I actually found myself riveted during some scenes. Who knew?!?
But back to Jean Arthur. What a terrific dame. Frank Capra (NOT the Weevil) said she was his favourite actress and I can see why. She was never anything but excellent (of course, so was Cary Grant but we'll save him for ANOTHER blog). She certainly could act but, besides that, she had one of the best voices ever. That voice is hard to describe; it's almost squeaky and husky at the same time. She was also one of the most down-to-earth, natural, unmannered actresses in Hollywood; and she was equally adept at serious roles or comedy. Jean Arthur had an acting style which didn't seem to be a "style" at all; it seemed effortless and laid-back. I'd even go so far as to describe her as a sort-of female Dean Martin; you know, breezy and unpretentious with a little bit of mischief once in a while. Her little Easter photo up there gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about her. And now I have. Now go watch a Jean Arthur movie!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I CANNSTANNUMM!!! As Jean Hagen would say in "Singin' in the Rain". There are some movies which are universally praised; critics love them (as well as the general public) and they've won countless awards. They're known as film classics the world over and I can't stand them. Surely there are some movies like that for you. Now, I'm not talking movies you hate (like Van Helsing) which everyone pretty much agrees are crap; I'm talking about the movies everyone says are classics but you hate. Here is a partial list of those films which I think suck and the world mostly loves: 1) Forrest Gump - The movie without any plot whatsoever. As I've said ad nauseum, the film is just a series of scenes hooked together with no other reason to exist than to show what they could do with CGI. The key giveaway is that Forrest Gump was based on a book that WASN'T a book; it was merely a collection of sayings. There ain't no plot in that so naturally there ain't no plot in the movie. This one is so bad it's offensive. 2) Chariots of Fire - No matter HOW bad a movie is, I always watch it all the way through. This piece of crap, however, I had to shut off after 15 minutes. Just because something has an English accent doesn't make it art, folks. 3) The Misfits - I find it to be an incoherent mess. Arthur Miller must've been pissed off at Marilyn and ready to divorce her when he cobbled together this one. How could a film crammed full of such fine actors be such a bore to watch??? 4) The Sound of Music -- Don't make me vomit, please! I love Mary Poppins; I hate Sound of Music. The fact that I also can't stand Rodgers and Hammerstein might have something to do with it as well. I love Rodgers and Hart; hate Rodgers and Hammerstein. 5) Dr. Strangelove -- Also not a fan of Kubrick. Dr. Strangelove is simply not funny. In the least. And don't tell me I don't understand it because it's black comedy because I LOVE black comedy. Sadly, this ain't it. Read "The Loved One" by Evelyn Waugh; now THAT's black comedy. 6) Gone With the Wind -- what a indulgent bore-fest! The only part of the movie I like is when Scarlett O'Hara pukes in the field. The rest you can keep. It seems I come by my dislike for this film genetically because I later found out that my mother saw it in the theater years ago and walked out. 7) Rocky -- Oh no, not ANOTHER bore-fest. This movie is like watching paint dry. Only without the intellectual stimulation. Sorry Ms. Henri, but it's a dog! 8) Once Upon A Time in the West -- Sergio Leone don't know how to make westerns. I'm entirely convinced the only reason this film has the reputation it does is because of the casting of Henry Fonda as an evil, slimy no-good rat. Interesting casting; bad BAD movie. 9) All That Jazz -- God, I hate this film! What an unpleasant, badly directed mess! I suppose the only reason they intercut shots of real open-heart surgery into the film was to wake up the audience. Terrible music, too. 10) The Odd Couple -- This is a comedy that's not funny. There are few greater sins that I know of. There is exactly ONE funny line in the film: this involved Felix leaving a note for Oscar saying "We're out of corn flakes (or whatever the line was) -- F. U." and Oscar says it took him a few days before he figured out F. U. stood for Felix Unger. That's the only laugh in it. Jack Lemmon is PARTICULARLY annoying in this film (a failing he sometimes lapses into). How could Tony Randall make Felix's honking and wheezing funny when Jack Lemmon makes it tedious. 11) For Whom the Bell Tolls -- Ernest Hemingway adaptation. Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman as your stars. Endless, interminable yawn fest of a movie. The filmmakers were desperate to have Bergman star in the film; what did they have against HER?!?!?! 12) National Lampoon's Animal House -- Here we go again. A comedy that's simply not funny. 13) The General -- Almost universally declared to be Buster Keaton's silent film masterpiece. I don't think so. I'll take "Sherlock Jr." over this yawner. 14) Dark Passage -- a COMPLETE WASTE of Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead et. al. 15) Harvey -- For years and years I wanted to see this movie since it was called a comedy classic. What it really is is stupid. James Stewart manages to be annoying and cloying as he overplays "eccentric" for all he's worth. A promising story about a man who sees a 6 foot invisible rabbit is pounded into the ground flatter than a pancake. 16) Nightmare on Elm Street -- For years everyone told me "All the other Elm Street movies suck but the FIRST one is AWESOME". Let me change that to "AMAZING". The first Nightmare on Elm Street is without any scares whatsoever and actually becomes remarkably dull throughout much of the running time. I'd rather watch Wes Craven's "The Serpent and the Rainbow" than this made-for-TV clone. 17) Taxi Driver -- Not only is this one of the most overpraised movies ever made, the oh-so-original "You talkin' to me" mirror scene that DeNiro supposedly came up with on his own was actually stolen almost completely from an old Twilight Zone episode called "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room". Seek out the episode and watch Joe Mantell deliver the same line in the same way in a scene VERY similar to the one in Taxi Driver. Gee, perhaps it was Robert DeNiro's version of an "homage" to Joe Mantell. Or maybe DeNiro just hoped no one would ever notice. 18) Best In Show -- not only is this yet ANOTHER comedy that just isn't funny; I can tell you why Chris Guest movies ALL seem not to be funny. That's because I've learned that his films are ad libbed for the most part by the actors. What? Could no one be bothered to write a script before setting out to make a film?!? Ad libs are not funny enough to base an entertainment upon 9 times out of 10. That TV show "Whose Line is It Anyway" causes me physical pain due to this inescapable fact -- all that ad-libbing isn't funny, it's embarrassing and makes me cringe; why would I expect a movie made along the same lines to be any different?
19) Mr. and Mrs. Smith -- This supposed screwball comedy was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and it's not funny in the least. It's an ordeal to sit through, if you wanna know the truth. Hitch would later succeed at comedy with the classic "The Trouble with Harry"; here's where that successful black comedy I mentioned before comes in again. "The Trouble with Harry" is a very funny black comedy; Dr. Strangelove ain't. And "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" just isn't funny. Period.

20) The Princess Bride -- It boggles my mind how so many people rave about this movie. It's not funny, it's not charming, it's not entertaining, it's not fun -- it's dreary and seems MUCH longer than it actually is. This looks like what a friend of mine calls a "lunchtime production"; that is, some Hollywood folks had a lunch hour with nothing to do so they made this film.

21) Beat the Devil -- This so-called classic is a sad attempt to recapture past glories and tarnishes the reputation of so many truly talented people it's mind-boggling. Directed by John Huston, co-written by Truman Capote, starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Peter Lorre, and Robert Morley (in the Sidney Greenstreet part), everyone looks tired and washed out (due in no small part to the incredibly ugly, washed-out photography of Oswald Morris). This is not Casablanca and it's not the Maltese Falcon; why is everyone pretending that it is. Sad and not entertaining.

22) Funny Face -- the only movie I can think of that managed to make both Fred Astaire AND Audrey Hepburn tedious and uninteresting.

23) The Greatest Show On Earth -- this "Best Picture of the Year" Oscar winner is a bore-a-thon of the worst order. Cecil B. DeMille instills every negative directorial quirk he's ever had while an all-star cast stumbles around with little idea what they're supposed to do. When the train derails, one only wishes it had crushed the film itself instead of the circus animals. Every other film nominated for "Best Picture" that year was ROBBED!

24) They Drive By Night -- this film is sometime mistakenly called film noir (Oh boy, it ain't!) and stars Humphrey Bogart and George Raft in a movie about truckers. Yes, believe it or not, it's even LESS interesting than that sounds. I swear the film is actually 6 hours long; it sure SEEMS that way. This is duller than watching baseball, watching golf OR watching farming. The golden age of Hollywood lost it's lustre on this one!

25) The Wrong Man -- Alfred Hitchcock is such a phenomenal director that I can't let this one sneak by without stabbing at it. Henry Fonda stars in this very un-Hitchcockian Hitchcock film about an innocent man on the run for a crime he didn't commit. Sounds like Hitchcock, I hear you say. Yes, it does. Then why, oh why, did Hitch decide to film it as a bland police procedural with absolutely NO Hitchcock touches and absolutely NO Hitchcock suspense. The only suspense caused by THIS movie is whether your heart will stop from sheer boredom. Even a master stumbles; here's where Hitchcock did.

26) 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is without doubt one of the most over-rated, self-indulgent, yawn-inducing steaming turd of a movie ever made. Again. . .not a Kubrick fan. Can you tell. The ENDLESS, interminable long shots on spaceships and space stations would try anyone's patience; a PROPER director would have realized that special effects quickly become outdated and surpassed so one shouldn't leave the camera on a model of a space station for 20 SOLID MINUTES!!! People jumping around in monkey suits? FASCINATING!!! Endless, pointless psychedelic light shows taking up the final third of the film. Now THAT'S storytelling! Arthur C. Clarke couldn't find the slightest vestige of his book in the movie. Neither could we.

So OK, that's my ranting and raving about the movies everyone else loves but I hate. I know my loyal readers MUST have there own list (I can hear Finky sharpening up his pencils for Sunset Blvd even as we speak). SO let's spit some venom and hurl some vitriol, people!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

EYE CANDY FOR APRIL (Courtesy of the Coney Island Hudsons): TIFFANY SHEPIS!
Sure she's gorgeous. Sure she's a Scream Queen. Sure she's been in a bunch of movies I've never actually seen. Sure she once told me a pretty funny joke which I can't relate to you here because it's a visual. That's all beside the point. OK, well maybe not the "gorgeous" part but you know what I'm trying to say. And that is: all that beauty doesn't exist in a vacuum; it comes combined with a type of personality which is equally enticing. And what would THAT be, I hear you ask over your corn flakes? Well, she's kinda raucous. Known to be a little bawdy. Funny as all get-out. Irreverent to a tee. She's down to earth and has none of that "I'm a star" bullshit. She possesses a razor-sharp wit which she has been known to wield against "other" stars who seem to be a little too haughty and big fer their britches! She wishes the bar would open around 8 am. She can take being BRAZENLY hit on by David Carradine in stride -- I know 'cause I've watched her. She's accessible, gracious and giving to all her fans. When you meet her, she looks you straight in the eye and makes you believe you're the most fascinating person she's ever met (kinda like a female Bill Clinton!). She has a refreshing sense of humour about herself and NEVER takes herself seriously (which is noticeably lacking in the current crop of starlets and models masquerading as actors). She's ballsy, brassy and battle-ready. Oh, and did I mention the drop dead gorgeous thing?!? So, how can you help but to fall madly in love with her?
"Some days elapsed, and ice and icebergs all astern, the Pequod now went rolling through the bright Quito spring, which, at sea, almost perpetually reigns on the threshold of the eternal August of the Tropic. The warmly cool, clear, ringing, perfumed, overflowing, redundant days, were as crystal goblets of Persian sherbet, heaped up --- flaked up, with rose-water snow. The starred and stately nights seemed haughty dames in jewelled velvets, nursing at home in lonely pride, the memory of their absent conquering Earls, the golden helmeted suns! For sleeping man, 'twas hard to choose between such winsome days and such seducing nights. But all the witcheries of that unwaning weather did not merely lend new spells and potencies to the outward world. Inward they turned upon the soul, especially when the still mild hours of eve came on; then, memory shot her crystals as the clear ice most forms of noiseless twilights."
-- Herman Melville
Moby Dick