Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blah Blah Blah...New Year's Eve...Blah Blah Blah

So here we are. Two Thousand and Fifteen. Woop woop and all that jazz! Fireworks! Balls and other things falling from the sky. We here in my hometown drop a giant blinged-out strawberry from the top of the Hilton in Market Square. It's supposed to be exciting. I suppose it is, but then most of the folks watching said blinged-out strawberry drop from the hotel roof are pretty well toasted come midnight, so anything is exciting. Me and mine? We'll be walking about two blocks crosstown to a friend's house to ring in the New Year. Friends, music, shrimp, deviled eggs, more food (both those two are my faves) and lotsa lotsa drink. With my experience, I usually play bartender, or I tend to tend bar, if you will. Yup, I said that. Anyhoo, enough of my New Year's Eve plans. Basically I am here right now to give a hearty ole thank you to all those who have frequented my blog lo this past year. Oh, and a big futuristic shout out to all those who will peruse said blog in the upcoming year. Huzzah to ya'll!! The new year will bring lots of new things to this blog, as well as keeping a few old favourites around the joint. My best of 2014 lists will begin soon, with My 25 Fave Comic Books coming up in just a few days. But enough of that. I've got a New Year's Eve Party for which to get ready. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web...and see ya next year!! Here's a pic of Johnny Rotten to kick you into next year. You know, 'cause nothing says Happy New Year like a former Sex Pistol. Huzzah!

Monday, December 29, 2014

On Life as a Pop Culturist & Spreading the Word of Pop Culturism

Ever since I was a wee thing, I've always been fascinated by all things pop culture. I was a little TV addict growing up. I loved movies and comic books. When the time came around, I began to love video games as well. As a kid, I was surrounded by everything from The Partridge Family to Star Wars to The X-Men to Space Invaders to the punk, and later new wave, music scene. As I grew up, my tastes may have grown as well. In the late 1980's I found myself becoming a true cinephile, as I discovered foreign films and classic Hollywood. My comic book love went from mere superheroes to books like Love and Rockets and Bone and the work of Robert Crumb, though that superhero love was still there, but moved more into the realm of Frank Miller and Alan Moore. My TV watching would also mature, so to speak. Yeah, these days I still love me a cheesy old sit com, but shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Orphan Black have come into my world as well. My musical tastes have wondered into other areas (Jazz and Blues) but actually still have quite the punk sensibility. Granted, the video game aspect has fallen out of favor, as I ended those days with Mario Brothers - today's games being too realistic for my liking. Give me Pac Man over Halo any day. But I digress. Enough about my qualifications as a pop Culturist, and onto just what it's all bout.

Basically, what I am saying here (or better yet, what I am babbling on and on about) is that I love pop culture. hell, I even get a kick out of the antics of those lesser beings on the celebrity strata. Yeah, you know of whom I speak. Anyhoo, I love me some pop culture, but it is more than a mere love. It is more than the love of a boy and his favourite TV show or movie or song or what have you. This goes deeper than all that. As a kid, I used to make notebooks and notebooks of various lists. Best movies, TV shows, comic book characters, and so on and so on. This habit has not changed, but it's different today. Now with that good ole world wide web, I can send these lists out to anyone who cares to look and/or listen. Sure, the interwebs have caused a dumbing down of the culture. Yes, you can look up near anything, but because of this, no one need actually learn anything any more. That part is kind of sad, but otherwise, the web has done wonders - for me at least. I've been blogging for more than a decade now (my first website was once found on Geocities - yeah, it's been that long) and all those lists and other pop cultury things running around in my brain, can now be set free for all to see. I can list my occupation as Writer or Blogger or Critic (all of which I do call myself) but at the heart of it all, I am a Pop Culturist, and as a Pop Culturist (and yes, these things do need to be capitalized!) I find it to be my duty, my gods given duty, to spread the word of Pop Culturism. So that is what I am doing with All Things Kevyn, the veritable hub of the All Things Kevyn Entertainment Network. I am a Pop Culturist, and this the Word.

Like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Church of the SubGenius before it (not to mention other made-up things like Christianity and the ilk), we now have the Church of Pop Culturism. Many people, the ones of a so-called higher brow of entertainment (and you know who you are you snotty sunsabitches!), may say that Pop Culture is mere fodder for the masses, but I'm here to tell ya, it is not! From the flighty flights of reality TV to the deep subconscious of the Nouvelle Vague, it is everything! From the Fonz to Lou Reed, from King Koopa to the undead denizens of Riverdale High, from the heights of Superman to the depths of Batman, from Lady Gaga to Quentin Tarantino, from Sideshow Bob to the actual sideshows of Tod Browning's classic Freaks. Yup, all of this, and much much more. From Zippy to La-La & Lu-Lu. From Pez Dispensers to chicken wings (yeah, chicken wings), from Don Draper to Lion-O to the bromance to Angry Birds to Long Duck Dong to teenage fantasies of Martha Quinn to the Red Wedding to commercials about cavemen to Charlie and Star to George Clooney and Sandy Bullock floating around in space to the Virgin Mary pop sculptures of French arteest Soasig Chamaillard (see pic at the end of post) to Todd Chrisley's obvious predilections to songs about fucking famous authors to people who need punched in the face to Smoke Monsters, Wacky Wobblers, Bob's Burgers, Pre-Code Cinema, Debbie Harry, Riff-Raff & Magenta, Murphy Brown, the Goth Movement, the actual Visigoths, Boo Fucking Radley, and even the godsdamned Slinky, Pop Culturism is all around and all-encompassing. It is the Word, and the Word is damn good!

Like JT brought sexy back, I am bringing back the awesomesauceness of true Pop Culture. No longer is it mere cheap theatrics, though that is still a part of it all. No longer is it relegated to the bargain basement of the so-called true culture. Hipsters and test patterns be damned! Pop Culture is my religion and I am its messenger, handing out the Word to you all! Magneto was right...and so am I. That's it gang (for now). See ya 'round that aforementioned world wide web. And check out the rest of Mlle. Chamaillard's virgins here. Keep the faith!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Matt Kowalski (Spoiler Alert)

"I'm afraid that ship already sailed. Ryan, you're gonna have to learn to let go." - Matt Kowalski

So far in this series, I have stuck to planetary bodies, moons, and space stations and/or ships, but here we are going to narrow this bitch down to a single human being. A single human being floating forever through space. In this case, that one forever floating human being is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, as played by George Clooney in the 2013 film, Gravity. Yup, that's right kids...George Clooney! As anyone who has seen the film already knows (and yeah, I did put spoiler alert in the title!) poor hapless Matt Kowalski, sacrifices himself to allow Dr. Ryan Stone, as played by Sandy Bullock, to survive out in space. And he is still there to this day, floating frozen in orbit. If you squint up into the night sky, and it is a clear night, you might just see this heavenly body. And hey, there are many ladies (and quite a few men) who definitely would consider George Clooney a heavenly body. So there!

Check out the Heavenly Body of the Week Space Database.
That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Life Day, Festivus, X-Mas!!

Or whatever other holiday festivities you happen to partake of this time of year. Even if you choose to take your holiday advice from a half-Jewish Armadillo. Basically, I'm wishing you a goddamn merry X-Mas, so get over it. Right now it is the afternoon of Christmas Eve (or X-Mas Eve, as I prefer) and things are about to heat up in our household, as we are about to host our 16th Annual X-Mas Eve Partaaaay! But I did want to take a second or two to wish the merriest of merriests to all my faithful readers and true believers out there. And yeah, I stole those greetings from Dorothy Parker and Stan Lee, respectively. Lately I've been working on my end of the year lists, and you will be seeing those lists within teh next few weeks. First will come My 25 Favourite Comic Books of 2014, on January 4th. After that will be My 25 Fave TV Shows of the Year. That will show up on January 8th. And then, a bit later than usual this year, will come My 25 Favourite Films of 2014. The reason that one is being held off until January 12th, is because I need to see Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice before I make said list. Anyone who knows me and my cinematic tastes, knows damn well this film is going to be on there, and probably relatively high up, so since I will not be seeing that one until January 9th, the list must wait. Anyhoo, that's enough of that. There will be lots and lots of new things coming down the pike in my blog's new year, (as well as some refurbished old things) but more on that in my New Year's Eve post. Right now, I have a party for which to prepare. No prepositions at the end of that sentence. Have a merry merry and what not. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Here's a picture of Santa smoking a cigarette. Enjoy.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pop! Goes the Funko Vinyl Figure & Pop! Goes the Collection Bug!

So, as anyone who knows me, or anyone who has ever been to my house (which I suppose are two groups who overlap rather well in the ole Venn diagram of life) knows, I like to collect things. I have a Pez collection that is nearing 2500 dispensers. I have a comic book collection which has outgrown their storage containers. I have a souvenir shot glass collection that also includes snow globes and other fun kitschy items gathered up during the travels of my lovely wife and I. I have a movie trading card collection that includes old tobacco cards as well as newer bubble gum style cards. I have my Eaglemoss superhero figurine collection in all its hand-painted leaden glory. All of these collections are proudly on display in that aforementioned house of ours. I also used to collect TV toys from the 1960's through the 1980's (the hey day of TV toys), but much of that collection was sold on eBay years ago. The remaining toys still living in plastic bins either in the basement or the attic. I also count a few mish-mash of items (a Mego Captain America figure, a Super Friends Colorforms set, some random superhero and/or TV and movie glassware, a cigar box full of random foreign and collectible coins) among my collections as well. Basically, what I am trying to get across here, is that I like to collect.

Now, I can add another collection to the aforementioned slew of collections. This new one is my Funko Pop! Vinyl Collection. For those who do not know, Funko is the company responsible for just about every bobble-head and wacky wobbler on the market. In 2012, the company began producing a series of 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inch vinyl figures, called pop! figures. There are a ton of different series inside the realm. Marvel Heroes, DC Heroes, a TV series, a movie series, plus other more specific series, like Game of Thrones, Muppets, Star Wars, Disney, My Little Pony, and a bunch of others. There are Pop! figures for just about everything. The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Kiss, The Beatles, Big Trouble in Little China, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, the NBA and NFL, Sons of Anarchy, Rudolph and pals, and so on and so on and so on. They are releasing a Breakfast Club and a Seinfeld series in 2015. Something for everyone. There are also vehicles (Ecto-One, the Batmobile, Daryl Dixon's chopper) and larger figures (the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Hoth's very own Wampa) as well. Even Freddy Funko, the company mascot, gets in on the fun (see just below). And these are the cutest freakin' figures you will ever see. Just check out the pic of Spidey up there. And just since their inception in 2012, there are already hundreds of different figures, including many chase and exclusive figures made for cons and various toy stores (including Hot Topic and even Walgreens). My collection currently sits at nine strong, but that's pretty good considering I just started four days ago. Yeah, I jumped all in, baby!

On Thursday evening, I went to Barnes & Noble, with my 20% off coupon in hand. I had been eying up these Pop! figures for a while now, and decided to finally take the plunge. So In walked out of there with my first Pop! figure, Superman. Then, on Sunday, I traveled to two other stores, 2nd & Charles and BAM. They were having sales on their Pop! figures, and combining that with more coupons, and other various in-store discounts, I found myself gathering up eight more figures, and all for the price of just three. pretty good deals. And another great thing about these guys is the packaging. Unlike most figures, you can easily take these guys out of their boxes to display them, and then if you decide you would rather display them in box (the graphics on said boxes are almost as great as the figures themselves) you can pop 'em right back in with no problem whatsoever. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy. So there ya have it kids. My new collection. I am sure I will never gather up every single one (some of the already released chase and exclusives may be quite out of my current price range) but that is the fun of collecting. Not having them all, but trying to get them all.

I'll close with a glam shot of my still budding collection, which includes the aforementioned Superman, as well as the Silver Surfer, the sexy blue evil mutant Mystique, Donatello of Turtles fame, Hannibal Lecter (movie version), Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbuster extraordinaire, the Elf on the Shelf, the mad meth-making genius known as Heisenberg, and Baby Groot himself. A tenth figure will be added tomorrow (another Barnes & Noble coupon) but who it is, is still to be determined. And then on into 2015 and more Pop! figures. So many from which to choose. Gee, I love collecting things. That's it gang (for now). See ya 'round the web.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Planet Vegeta

Okay, so I actually know next to nothing about the world of Dragon Ball Z, but here I am including one of the anime's heavenly bodies in our Heavenly Body Space Database. From what I have read, the planet known as Vegeta isn't really a main site for the action of Dragon Ball Z, but being a novice, I am allowed to talk it up anyway. What the hell do I know? So, here it is. Planet Vegeta, with its red/pink sky and two moons, and whatever else it might have. I think its inhabitants might be sentient plants, but I could be wrong. Again, what the hell do I know. I like the look of the planet, so that's enough for this guy. So there.

Check out the Heavenly Body of the Week Space Database.
That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu Blogfest: 100 Random Cinematic Doo-Dads About Moi

Today is the day of the Deja Vu Blogfest over at D.L. Hammons blog. The premise is to grab a favourite post from this past year, and repost it here, today. So, I went back and grabbed up a post from yesteryear. The following is my not-so-humble contribution to this cyber game, originally appearing on July 2nd, 2014, the occasion of the 47th anniversary of my birth. Now I spew forth this list once again, for the Deju Vu Blogfest. These fun filmic facts are listed 1 through 100 but really, they are in no particular order, other than that always popular order of randomness. Here we go now.

1. The first movie I ever remember seeing in a theater is Benji. I was six when it was released so I probably had already been to the movies by then, but that scruffy little dog was the first one I can clearly remember.

2. My favourite actress of all-time is Barbara Stanwyck. She is one tough-as-nails broad.

3. My favourite actor of all-time is Jimmy Stewart. He makes it look so damn easy.

4. Give me Goodfellas over The Godfather any day.

5. In 1985, at the age of seventeen, I bought a VCR. It was the first "major" thing I ever bought with money I actually earned at a job. For those Gen Y and beyond readers out there, if you do not know what a VCR is, Google it.

6. Shortly after the events of number five, I signed up for membership at a place, now long defunct of course, called Movie Merchants. The first three movies I rented were GhostbustersIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Amadeus. For those Gen Y and beyond readers out there, if you do not know what renting movies is all about, well, never mind.

7. Akira Kurosawa's Ran was the first foreign language film I ever saw in a theatre. It was at the Colonial Park UA Twin and I was eighteen years old.

8. No matter her politics, or some would say perceived politics, I still think Leni Riefenstahl is one of the greatest directors to ever work in the art form.

9. I believe that Keaton was the funnier of the two but Chaplin was the greater director.

10. The first time I ever saw Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, I hated it. The second time I liked it. The third time I loved it. I now include it in my all-time Top 100.

11. Brazil is my favourite film the 1980's. Blade Runner and Blow Out are second and third respectively.

12. One of my favourite memories of my grandmother was when she and I went to see Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home together. I was nineteen, she was fifty-nine. When she went to sit down, she did not realize that the seats semi-reclined, and her popcorn went flying into the air and landed on the head and lap of the quite surprised man sitting behind us. My grandmother was embarrassed but luckily the man found it almost as funny as I did.  I sure do miss that old gal.

13. In my opinion, the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera can remedy any kind of depression and/or foul mood. In fact, I would say the same for almost any Marx Brothers routine.

14. My first job working in a movie theatre was in 1990, when I was twenty-two. It was at a place called the Eric Twin. I started as a ticket taker and usher and moved my way up to projectionist and assistant manager. It was long enough ago that we still had to change the reels over between two projectors.

15. If I could be born in any other era, I would make my birthdate be 1907. That way I would turn 21 as the sound era came to be, and throughout the precode days I would become a big star at Warner Brothers (romantically linked to both a young Joan Crawford and Garbo herself, and poker buddies with Bogie and Cagney), before jumping studio ships and becoming an even bigger star at MGM in the late 1930's (even with the occasional public battle with Louis B. Mayer), then joining the ranks of Hollywood stars enlisting into WWII, before coming home as a great and respected actor, with enough power to be able to pick and choose which studios for which to work, and which roles to take (working with Welles and Ford and Nicholas Ray), culminating in an Oscar in 1954, before then falling into the inevitable drunken downward spiral by the late 1950's (the death of drinking buddy Errol Flynn really took a toll on me), and then making a comeback (and a second Oscar) at the age of 59, followed by a late career slew of juicy character roles (both in the US and abroad, including working with Godard, Truffaut, Visconti, Bergman, AND Kurosawa), a lifetime achievement award in 1979, at the age of 72, a final bravura performance at 87, as an aged gangster in Pulp Fiction (Tarantino wrote the small but pivotal role especially for me), before finally passing off this mortal coil, and into cinematic history at the tender age of 89. Not that I've thought about it all that much.

16. I've got to admit it. I never have been all that much of a fan of Tarkovsky. Go ahead all you cinephiliac snobs, lay it on me.

17. I stand by the opinion that Gene Tierney has the sexiest overbite in movie history.

18. My first movie crush was Pamela Sue Martin in The Poseidon Adventure. I had just turned seven when I first saw the film, and Pamela Sue was eighteen, so I had no idea what I was to do about said crush, but there it was anyway.

19. If I were to put Quentin Tarantino's feature films in preferential order it would go a little something like this: Pulp FictionInglourious BasterdsKill Bill Volume 2Kill Bill Volume 1Jackie BrownDeath ProofReservoir Dogs, Django Unchained. And not a bad one in the bunch. 

20. If aliens were to come to Earth and ask for a reason to not destroy the planet, I would show them the final scene of Chaplin's City Lights.

21. In my world (and what other world is there!?), there are three Star Wars films. Just three. Star Wars, not Star Wars: A New Hope but just Star Wars, was the first. The Empire Strikes Back was the second, and Return of the Jedi, silly muppetry aside, was the last. Anything else is just hogswaddle, and no one will ever convince me otherwise. The jury is still out on J.J. Abrams.

22. The one and only film class I ever took was during my senior year of high school.  We watched and studied several films, including Citizen KaneBonnie and ClydeWait Until Dark, and three Hitchcocks, PsychoLifeboat and The Wrong Man. It was the very first time I had seen any them. Two of these films now reside in my all-time top five and another in my top fifteen. 

23. Give me the Alexander Korda/Michael Powell/Sabu Thief of Bagdad over the Raoul Walsh/ Douglas Fairbanks one any day.

24. I have never seen The Goonies and I plan on keeping it that way. I do not say this out of any lack of desire to see the film, but out of spite for those who are flabbergasted that someone my age (I was seventeen upon its initial release) has never seen the damn film. So, forever more, I will never watch The Goonies. So there. Truffle shuffle that!

25. If I could have lunch with any three film personalities it would be Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich and Quentin Tarantino. We would eat wings and talk cinema til those goddamn cows came home.

26. The first VHS I ever owned was Citizen Kane. The first DVD was 2001: A Space Odyssey. The first Bluray was also 2001

27. I am an unabashed Auteurist and an unapologetic Paulette. If you know what those terms mean then you know how confused I must be.

28. My favourite Marx brother is Harpo. Chico comes in second, followed by Groucho. Neither Zeppo nor Gummo really factor in.

29. My wife and I worked the concession stand together at Haar's Drive-In the first two summers we were married. My bubblegum milkshake brought everyone to the yard.

30. I never have understood why everyone thinks The Shawshank Redemption is so great. I mean, it isn't a bad movie but c'mon, it's not all that.

31. When The Tree of Life came out, I unexpectedly went on a three city tour, first seeing it in New York, then in Philadelphia a month later, and finally in my hometown of Harrisburg a month after that.

32. My favourite John Carpenter film is Assault on Precinct 13. I dare even call it a bloody masterpiece.

33. I love making movie lists. I guess that is obvious though, considering.

34. Scorsese' tracking shot through the Copacabana in Goodfellas is my all time favourite tracking shot, even over Welles' Touch of Evil opening. The same opinion is held by my lovely wife.

35. I once attended a screening of A Clockwork Orange that was also attended by what were apparently some sort of neo-nazi gang, who bellowed from the back row and cheered the rape scenes. Gotta admit it, my friends and I were a bit put off by the whole affair.

36. I once attended a screening of The Wizard of Oz, mashed up with a recording of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Sitting two seats down from me and my lovely wife, was actor Richard Edson (you might know the guy from such films as Stranger Than Paradise and/or Do the Right Thing) who was at the festival promoting a film. The theater owner had added dozens of chairs into the aisle, and the place was packed waaay beyond capacity. Damn good thing Richard Edson did not yell fire.

37. I am really tempted to make some sort of Kevin Smith joke here but I will restrain myself. Those in the know will understand of what I speak.

38. I much prefer Buñuel's Spanish and Mexican period to his early or later French stuff.

39. Once, while I was putting together a print of Blue Velvet for a midnight showing at Midtown Cinema, the arthouse cinema that my wife and I used to run together, I may or may not have licked said print. Okay, I licked it. So there.

40. The same can be said for the 50th Anniversary restoration print of Godard's Breathless that we played a few months later. So there again!

41. Having just turned ten, my mother took me to see this new film.  It was a little film called Star Wars. Afterward I convinced my mom that we had to go to the store and get all the new action figures that were out. Of course she did not buy me all of them that day (eventually I would acquire them all - bwah ha ha) but she did get me Han, Luke, Chewie, Princess Leia, C3PO, R2D2, Darth Vader and a Sand Person. Yeah, I may have been somewhat of a brat, and often got my way. Anyway, when we got home, one of the arms immediately fell off of my C3PO. I whined and whined until she took me back to the store to get a replacement droid. Yes, I was definitely a brat. Probably still am.

42. I thoroughly enjoyed Francis Ford Coppola's One From the Heart. I may be the only one.

43. The Red Shoes is my all time favourite film. When I was lucky enough to see a restored 35mm print at Film Forum a few years ago, I and several others waiting in line ran to the front row just like they do in the opening scene of the film.

44. When I was working at the Eric Twin movie theatres back in 1990, I got into an argument with our local newspaper's film critic over David Lynch's Wild at Heart, with me praising it and she panning.

45. When I went to The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens to see Jacques Rivette's 13 hour Out 1, we had a lunch break and were given a boxed lunch as part of our ticket price.

46. Musicals, Westerns and Film Noirs are my three favourite genres.

47. My favourite swashbuckling film of all time is Captain Blood, and my favourite swashbuckler is, of course, Mr. Errol Flynn.

48. I used to participate as part of the live cast during the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Capital City Mall UA Theaters back in the Summer of 1986 and then again in 1991 and 1992. At one point or another I played every character, in full costume mind you, but my most played portrayal was that of handyman-cum-transvestite usurper Riff Raff. Overall, between shows and practice sessions, I have probably seen the movie close to 1000 times.

49. Fantasia is my all-time favourite animated film, followed by Fantastic Planet and then The Triplets of Belleville.

50. When I was eighteen I aspired to be like Judd Nelson's Bender from The Breakfast Club but in reality I was a lot more like Ally Sheedy's Allison.

51. I do not give a damn about all those Chuck Norris jokes. He will never be as tough as Robert Mitchum. Never.

52. While traveling back from Myrtle Beach a few years back, my wife and I stumbled across the Ava Gardner Museum in North Carolina. I love surprise cinematic treats like that.

53. In the overall spectrum, I would have to say I like Italian films more than French.

54. The film I would most like to see right now is a Quentin Tarantino directed remake of Three Amigos starring Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. C'mon, ya know you want to see it too.

55. Of Orson Welles' eleven completed feature films, I would rank them thusly: Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, Lady From Shanghai, The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, Macbeth, Magnificent Ambersons, The Stranger, F For Fake, Mr. Arkadin, Othello.  And even the least of the batch is pretty freakin' great.

56. My favourite classic Hollywood studio is Warner Brothers, followed by the now defunct RKO.

57. Other than The Rocky Horror Picture Show (see #48) there are six films of which I can pretty much recite from memory. They are Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, The Wizard of Oz, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club and The Princess Bride. Of course, once I think about it a little more, I could probably include Clerks., Inglourious Basterds, Casablanca, Jaws and Psycho as well.

58. My wife and I have hosted an Oscar party for the last fourteen years. This past year, we went the small route, and invited just one guest - our friend Anna. Without having to be the party host, I was actually able to watch and enjoy the show more thoroughly. I even live-tweeted the bitch. Fun stuff.

59. To quote TV's Frasier Crane when asked if he minded subtitles, "Mind them?  I prefer them!"

60. Give me De Palma's Blow Out over Coppola's The Conversation any day.

61. It is a big pet peeve of mine when someone complains about a movie and their only complaint is that it is too slow. Why does slow equate with bad in these people's minds? There are good slow movies and there are bad slow movies. Get over it people.

62. I just cannot help getting the biggest thrill out of watching Karloff bitchslap that guy at the end of Peter Bogdanovich's Targets. Great stuff indeed.

63. While visiting New York with my friend Bill back in 1989, we ran into Phil Collins. Apparently I said to him, "I loved you in Buster." I don't remember doing this, but many years later Bill informed me that it is indeed something I did. To this day, I have never seen the film Buster.

64. Before my wife and I took over running Midtown Cinema, Harrisburg Pa's one and only art house cinema (something we did from 2009 through 2013), I would give film lectures before each Sunday afternoon screening, during the cinema's six month long classic film series. Some of the films I gave lectures on were Casablanca, The Big Sleep, 42nd Street, Rebel Without a Cause and Annie Hall.

65. I freely admit to bawling like a little baby at the end of Leo McCarey's Make Way For Tomorrow. In fact, my eyes are welling up just by thinking about it. Other film finales I cry uncontrollably over are Brokeback Mountain, Wendy and Lucy and Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life. Don't even get me started on Old Yeller.

66. I never have understood what all the hoopla over David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia is all about. Sure, it looks nice, but god is it ever boring. I almost fell asleep just typing that sentence.

67. To this day, I stand by my belief that Joan Crawford never beat her daughter with any damn wire hangers.
68. My favourite director is Stanley Kubrick. He is the only filmmaker to make my 100 Favourite Films list five times. Of his thirteen theatrical releases, I would rank them thusly: 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Paths of Glory, The Killing, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Killer's Kiss, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, Fear and Desire, Spartacus. Though the last one may not exactly be Kubrick gold, there is not a truly bad one in the bunch. Well okay, maybe Spartacus.

69. Okay, I'll admit it - I like Victor Mature. What's it to ya!?

70. My first ever published film review was written for a small monthly indie cinema mag called FilmSpeak. It was 1998 and was a review of the film The Opposite of Sex.

71. If I were asked to program a Pre-Code double feature (and why wouldn't I be asked to do such a thing?), I would choose William Dieterle's The Last Flight and William Wellman's Safe in Hell.

72. I am an unabashed Hitchcocko-Hawksian. I even list such as my political view on Facebook.

73. My favourite big budget Hollywood director working today (and no, due to extenuating circumstances, neither QT nor PTA are included in this category) is J.J. Abrams. And while I am at it, I should also probably say that Abrams' Star Trek is the best of the franchised bunch. Blasphemy I know, but there you have it. Now let's see what he does with Star Wars.

74. The first midnight showing I ever saw was a screening of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead at Capital City Mall, during their classic (at least classic to we teens of the 1980's in central Pennsylvania) when I was seventeen. As I drove home along those dark and deserted rural roads (I grew up in the further reaches of Harrisburg Pa's suburbs) I first came across my long running (and very rational!) fear of the living dead. To this day I still have this (very rational!!) fear of zombies, but will never stop watching movies that highlight such creatures. In fact, fear (very rational!!!) or not, The Walking Dead is the biggest must see TV on the air these days.

75. The above (very rational) fear probably comes from my mother, whom, from the age of fifteen, when she first saw Psycho at the drive-in, to this very day, will not take a shower when she is alone in the house.

76. If I were forced to choose (by gunpoint, say) then I think I would have to pick Joan Fontaine over her sister Olivia de Havilland, by the ever-so-slightest of margins. I suppose, what I am trying to say is that Rebecca, Suspicion, the best of the Jane Eyre's, Letter From an Unknown Woman and Born to be Bad slightly beat out The Heiress, The Snake Pit and all those films swooning over the swashbuckling Mr. Flynn.

77. I prefer Steven Spielberg's popcorn flicks (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Jaws, The Adventures of Tintin) to his more serious-minded fare (Schindler's ListEmpire of the SunThe Color PurpleWar Horse).

78. My favourite film of the aughts (the more recent version of the aughts mind you) is David Lynch's Mulholland Dr., followed by In the Mood For Love and Inglourious Basterds respectively.

79. Though it is one of my all-time favourite films, something has always bothered me about The Wizard of Oz. When our intrepid young Dorothy first shows up in Oz (after crushing the Wicked Witch of the East to death in a runaway house accident) she is asked by Glinda whether she is a good witch or a bad witch. Later on in this conversation (after an inadvertent insult to the Good Witch of the North) Dorothy is told that only bad witches are ugly, and that good witches are beautiful (self-centered bitch if ya ask me). This begs the question of why did Glinda ask Dorothy if she were a good witch or a bad witch. Is she saying that Dorothy may or may not be ugly? She just doesn't want to be the one to say so? Seriously, Dorothy should have slapped that periwinkle-dressed bitch all up. I still love the movie though, but don't even get me started on why the witch would allow a bucket of water to be sitting around her castle, or how rude it was of Dorothy to say the Scarecrow was her favourite - right in front of the Tin Man and the Lion.

80. I will never understand - never ever understand - why so many people are under the opinion that Stan Brakhage is a great filmmaker. Even a good filmmaker. Even a competent filmmaker. His films (if one even has the right to call them such) are about as far from great cinema (another word one probably should not use when discussing someone like Brakhage) as one can reach. Sure, they are not the kind of bad that things like Adam Sandler or Tyler Perry comedies are, or the actioners of the 1980's with Van Damme and Seagal and company are, but they are in another class of bad cinema (there is that wrongly used word again) altogether. Full of sound and fury, signifying abso-freakin-lutely nothing whatsoever. Repetitious squiggles and tree branches and laundry in the wind. Cinema? No way. Great cinema? Certainly not!

81. If I were to rank the James Bonds in order, from best to worst, or from favourite to least favourite if you will, it would go a little something like this: Sean Connery (of course), Roger Moore (yeah, that's right), Daniel Craig (the franchise is on an upswing again), George Lazenby (one hit wonder), Pierce Brosnan (stick with Remington Steele) and Timothy Dalton (trying way to hard).

82. If I had predilections that, shall we say, leaned the other way, I suppose I would go all weak in the knees over movie stars like Errol Flynn, Gene Kelly, Richard Widmark, Ralph Meeker and Robert Mitchum. I suppose the same could be said of modern day movie stars such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Michael Fassbender.

83. One Summer, relatively long ago, back when I was stoned more often than not (a whole other creature than the relative teetotaler I am these days), my roommates and I watched the 1995 stoner comedy Friday just about every day, and laughed our collective asses off every damn time. In retrospect, the film is not really all that funny clean and sober. But then again, a clean and sober audience is probably not the demographic for which they were aiming.

84. A long time ago, but not necessarily in a galaxy far far away, I considered film director Billy Wilder to be something of a non-entity. Certainly a talented filmmaker, but never did he fit into the conversations I held with myself (yeah, I said myself) about the best and brightest in cinema. In more recent days (like a few years ago) when I was compiling a favourite films/greatest films list, I noticed that the elusive Mr. Wilder was mentioned quite a few times in both what would eventually make it on said list and those that just missed out. Today (as one can easily read on my Favourite Films page) I count three Wilder films (Sunset Blvd., Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot) among my top one hundred, in fact in my top fifty, while several other Wilder's (The Apartment, Ace in the Hole, Kiss Me Stupid) hover just below the top one hundred. I suppose now I should probably include Herr Wilder in my favourite directors list.

85. When it comes to big bug movies, I believe that you just cannot go wrong with 1954's gigantic atomic ant classic, Them!

86. When I was working at Haar's Drive-In (see #29) I went around, along with the eleven year old son of a fellow drive-in worker, and turned all 750 or so speakers to high, so that when the Uncle Fucker song in the South Park movie came on it echoed through the suburban neighbourhoods that surrounded the drive-in. Fun stuff indeed.

87. When it comes to acting prowess, give me Casey Affleck over big brother Ben any day.

88. I cannot decide whether my guiltiest guiltless pleasure among the Sword and Sandal set is Victor Saville's The Silver Chalice or Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs. Or maybe it is Michael Curtiz' The Egyptian. Oh wait, it very damn well could be DeMille's Samson and Delilah. At this rate, we may never know.

89. Forget the overrated and rather boring Ocean's Eleven, because Robin and the Seven Hoods is my favourite Rat Pack film.

90. Give me Mizoguchi over Ozu any day. Give me Kinoshita over Mizoguchi any day. Give me Kurosawa over all of them any day.

91. Forget the inherent sexiness of stars like Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth. I firmly believe that Janet Gaynor may very well be the cutest damn thing to ever come out of Hollywood.

92. There used to be a woman at our local Fed-Ex store who honestly believed that I was Quentin Tarantino. I admit that there is a slight, ever so slight resemblance to the writer/director of Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, but she really needs to have her eyes examined. Of course it didn't help that the only time I ever went into the place was when I was running the aforementioned Midtown Cinema, to ship films and film related items to various places such as other theaters and film distributors. And it probably didn't help when I said things like my screenplay for Kill Bill 3 is giving me trouble.  Oh well.  People are fun to mess with.

93. If I were asked to name the most boring director in the history of cinema (and yes, I have been asked that very same question), I would pass right over such eligible modern day candidates as Rob Marshall, Tom Hooper, and Ron Howard, and even over Mr. Michael Apted (yes, even Mr. Michael Apted) and proclaim David Lean as hands down winner - or hands down loser, whichever way you want to look at it.

94. I actually own a promo pair of the alien-seeing sunglasses from the 1988 sci-fi film They Live. I have yet to discover any aliens while wearing them, but someday baby.....someday.

95. I collect movie star trading cards. Including both cigarette and gum cards, as well as various promotional cards, the main crux of my collection ranges from the early 1920's through the 1960's, with a spot or two of more modern cards. One of my favourite sets is a 1922 set produced by Lucky Strike cigarettes that were meant to be used as bridge favours, and which includes such stars of the day as Dorothy Mackaill, Ona Munson, Jack Holt and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr..

96. I like her fine in Mildred Pierce, but my favourite Joan Crawford performance is in Johnny Guitar.

97. Give me Eisenstein's later comeback films, Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky over the director's earlier montage stuff like Strike, Battleship Potemkin and October any day.

98. I sat upon the jury of the Harrisburg Film Festival from 2004 through 2010.

99. One year, as a thank you for judging the Harrisburg Film Festival, I was awarded with a cement Big Mac, in homage to John Waters being in attendance that year. Yeah, apparently, the Baltimore director collects fake food.

100. When all is said and done, and the final nail is put in the coffin of film by the inevitable tide that is the digitization of all things cinema (well, all things deemed "worthy" by the soulless bastards that run the conglomerations that own and operate all the once proud movie studios - everything else will just disappear into the nether regions of what once was) I will be very very very very sad. Until then, let's party like its 1999, or maybe 1932 when the code was still unenforced, the bathtub gin was still flowing, and Cagney and Harlow could still put both feet on the bed. Thank you and good night.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Hacking of The Walking Dead Poll (Way to Skew It All Up!) and a Brand New Poll to Let Me Know Just What You Think of Me

So, I went and posted my new poll, the one where you were asked to pick and choose your favourite character from The Walking Dead TV show. I figured Daryl would win, but it was going to be intriguing to see who everyone would choose for second and third and all that jazz. At least I thought it was going to be intriguing. That is until someone went and hacked the poll. Well, okay, they didn't necessarily hack it in the traditional sense. By the way, I love that there is a traditional sense of something like hacking. Anyway, I digress. You see, the way the poll works, is that I can allow people to vote more than once. You can vote once every day, and from as many different servers as you have (home, work, phone, friend, Starbucks, whatever). I figured this way, folks could go and vote for second or third place if they wanted, or maybe stuff the ballot box for Daryl or Beth or the Governor. But yes, some ballot box stuffing did go on. But it went on for the three least likely candidates. Father Gabriel, Rosita, and Tara, all kept getting votes. Nothing against these three, but they are the most underdeveloped characters on the show, or at least of the choices I gave to you. So underdeveloped that I almost did not include them. So yeah, someone decided to give these least likely candidates a bit of a boost, which totally skewed up the results. 

Let's face it, Daryl won, with Rick, Carol, Beth, and Michonne all battling it out for the rest of the top five. I suppose though, we will never know. I mean, I am all for performance art and all that kind of thing, but it is a shame that we never found out how the voting would have really gone. But alas, we will never know. Of course, if I had only been able to get this poll out to the masses, instead of just my small corner of the cyberworld, there may have been thousands of votes, and the skewing would not have mattered. I did try to do that though, sending my poll link to Chris Hardwick and AMC and the Talking Dead, as well as, as many fan sites and pages as I could find. I tweeted that bitch all up and down the Twitterverse. But still, no one bit. Ha, walker humour. Seriously though, no one bit. If Hardwick had simply retweeted my poll, it would have gotten tons of coverage. The prick. He's never answered any of my queries to write for The Nerdist either, but now he's gone from there anyway. But still, none of the editors ever respond either. Anyway, I digress once more. Oh, and even with this skewing of the results, there was still no love for Lori, Andrea, Dale, Sasha, Bob, and Eugene, as they never even received a single vote. Ah well, it's time to move on with the new poll.

I will be doing my annual Oscar poll once the nominations are announced in January, but to fill up the polling space between now and then, I am tossing out a poll that is all about me. Well, technically it's all about my blog. You know, All Things Kevyn. The blog you're on right now. Yeah, beginning today, and running through Midnight EST (ish) on Monday January 12th, you can select just what you think of this blog. How ya'll like dem apples!? That's right, you get to vote on how good or how bad, how wonderful or how horrendous, this blog is. So get on over there and get your vote on. The poll will only run for one month (well, a few days shy of a full month actually), before we move onto the aforementioned Oscar poll coming on January 15th. The results of this silly little pol will be announced on Tuesday, January 13th, the day before my final set-in-stone Oscar nomination predictions are announced. So get on over there and vote. Time is already running out. Oh, and to the hacker who might have a desire to stuff the ballot box with the worst rating of my blog (and hey, you know really love me!) this poll will allow just one vote per person. No voting every day on this one. This is far from a scientific endeavor, and I'm sure some will vote a certain way just to be silly, but it would be nice to know just what everyone thinks of the work I'm doing here at All Things Kevyn. Maybe Chris Hardwick doesn't care, but hopefully you do - even if it's caring enough to tell me how godawful this blog is. Anyhoo, get your vote on. Let me know whatchya think. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 10 Coolest Peeps Born in 1967, Myself Humbly Exluded

So yeah, I was born in 1967. It was a great time indeed. Anyway, the reason for this post is to highlight some of my fellow 1967 birthees. And there were a bunch of 'em. From Pamela Anderson to Dave Navarro. From Vin Diesel to Mark Ruffalo. From Jimmy Kimmel to Tino Martinez to Ashleigh Banfield, Ty Burrell, Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Lisa Bonet, Guy Pearce, Lauren Graham, Paul Giamatti, Mira Sorvino, Lili Taylor, Sheryl Lee, Rhys Ifans, Matt LeBlanc, and Neon Deion Sanders! That's a lot of 1967-birthed celebrity star power right there - and I haven't even gotten to the top ten yet. Oh, and definitely not on that list, are some of the least cool kids born in 1967, Dave Matthews, Chriss Angel, and Vanilla Ice Ice, Baby! But enough of all this preparatory mumbo jumbo. Let's get on with the damn list, already! The 10 Coolest Peeps born in 1967. And yes, I am keeping myself off this list. Ha! So let's get on with gettin' on.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

10. Louis C.K.

 There are few stand-up comics who can make me laugh and laugh and laugh, and Louis C.K. is certainly one of them. Yeah, perhaps cool isn't quite the right word here, for Louis (or Louie, if you go by his hit show) is rather geeky and awkward (like me!!), but he should still be on this list. This comic doesn't beat around any bush. He says what's on his mind. Sometimes this gets him into trouble, which I suppose makes him kind of a bad boy, and in turn, kind of cool. So there! He does belong on the fucking list after all.

9. Billy Corgan

My wife balked at Billy Corgan making the list (especially since I left Dave Navarro off, in order to include him), claiming he is just an arrogant has-been. Obviously I have a little more faith in the cool factor of Billy Corgan. Sure, maybe The Smashing Pumpkins didn't change music the way a band like Nirvana did, but hey, he's tall, bald, and has a suitably creepy singing voice. That alone is enough for me to place him on this list...and above Dave Navarro. And hey, I even chose a pic with his kitties. Maybe that way, my lovely wife will possibly accept his inclusion on the list.

8. Benicio del Toro

He's played the Wolfman, Che Guevara, and Dr. Gonzo. How can this guy not be cool? This Puerto Rico-born Academy Award winner has given some pretty stellar performances in some pretty stellar films. From The Usual Suspects to Traffic to Sin City, Basquiat, and the upcoming Inherent Vice, where ya just know he rocks the house once again. And just to make him a bit cooler (at least in my opinion) he made his film debut playing the dog faced boy in a circus, opposite Pee Wee Herman. Howzabout that!?

7. Harry Connick, Jr.

Not only a smooth as silk Jazz pianist and crooner, but Harry Connick, Jr. is also quite the funny comic actor. granted, his Hallmark/Lifetime films are unexpectedly terrible, but hey, when ya need the money, ya need the money. Connick was great as Grace's hapless doctor hubby (and ex-hubby - spoiler alert!) on Will & Grace, but it's his piano playing and cool 'Nawlins breeding that put this guy on the list.

6. Philip Seymour Hoffman

One of two list makers who are no longer with us. I know such a thing sounds a bit corny, but to put it as simply as possible PSH was one of the finest actors of his (and mine, obviously) generation. Seriously though, the guy is indeed just that. His work with Paul Thomas Anderson alone (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Hard Eight, etc) is enough to put this guy on the cool list, but then you add in all the other roles he has played (Talented Mr. Ripley, Almost Famous, Flawless, Doubt, his Oscar winning performance in Capote, Jack Goes Boating, which he also directed, the oft-overlooked Synecdoche, New York)and list worthy he damn well be!

5. Laura Dern

I've always loved Laura Dern. From Teachers to Mask to Blue Velvet, she was like a dreamy teen angel for the twisted set. Then came her performance in Wild At Heart. That is when she became a sexy powderkeg of raw acting emotion. She loved her Sailor, and she wanted everyone to know.  Hell, the girl even went and kicked some dinosaur ass in Jurassic Park...even when Samuel L. Jackson could not. And she's the daughter of Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. That's some pretty cool lineage.

4. Jamie Foxx

Yeah, he was on In Living Color, and he won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles. He is a rapper and he even beat the crap out of Tom Cruise in a movie once. But hey, the number one reason Jamie Foxx is on this list (other than taking his stage name to honour Redd Foxx) is that he is Django. That's right. He is Django, and Django takes no shit from nobody. Django doesn't wait around for the white man to come and rescue him. Django arms himself, and kicks white southern ass. Django rules. And the D is silent.

3. Carla Bruni

This Italian born singer-songwriter-model, was the first lady of France for a while. She was also the sister-in-law of Louis Garrel for a while too. I can't say there are many first ladies the same age as me (Michelle Obama comes the closest in my home country, but still beat me into the world by three years) and I betchya not many people can claim they share a birth year with a first lady whose nude photos went for $91,000 at auction. Yup. So there. First Lady of France is in da hizzouse! Yeah, I went there.

2. Anderson Cooper

Not only one of the most sought after gay men in the world (and equally loved by the ladies as well) but Anderson Cooper is one of those types of journalists who are quite rare these days - an honest, caring one. With his silver locks and boyish grin, Coop (can I call ya that?) is surely the coolest newsman out there today. Forget Wolf Blitzer (the idiot), it's Anderson Cooper who gives it to us straight. Well, not that kind of straight. You know what I mean. Yeah.

1. Kurt Cobain

It's hard to believe (at least to me) that the guy who helped change the very face of music, is the same age as me. Or at least would be the same age as me, if he hadn't been stolen from us at such a young age (one of those damned 27 club members). Basically, Cobain was one of the coolest guys in rock and roll, ever, no matter what birth year we are talking about. Kurt and Nirvana seriously changed music. Not many people or bands can say that. Maybe Elvis, The Beatles or Stones, Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, Madonna, Michael, and Nirvana. That's about it. Here's to Kurt Cobain, the coolest cat to come out of 1967. Huzzah huzzah hey!!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Film Review: Chris Rock's Top Five

One of the first lines spoken in Chris Rock's Top Five, is when a character exclaims, "Sometimes a movie is just a movie." I suppose this statement rings true, but it surely is not the case with this film. Top Five is one of the freshest comedies to come down the pike in a long long time. Taking on the idea of celebrity and today's media culture, as well as race relations, Rock's film is mostly about the loss of self-reliance in a creative person's abilities. Rock, who is one of the smartest, funniest comics around today, is also quite versed in film history. His second film as director, I Think I Love My Wife, was a remake of Eric Rohmer's French New Wave film, Chloe in the Afternoon. With his third swipe at the writer/director role, Rock takes on territory once occupied by Woody Allen, most notably the auteur's 1980 film, Stardust Memories. Just like in that film, Rock's stand-up comic turned movie star wants to stop making comedies, and try his hand at a more serious oeuvre, and just like in that film, Rock is constantly told that his fans prefer his funnier movies. Even Rock's name in the film, Andre Allen, can be seen as an homage to the films of Woody.

Of course, it may be an odd combination. One of the wittiest critics on racial relations in today's society, playing in the same narrative pool as a man who is not exactly known for his cinematic racial equality. But nonetheless, the combination is there. But really, Top Five is not necessarily a film about racism. Sure, there are many lines and even discussions in the film about the likes of President Obama, Tupac, black men hailing a cab in New York, even the racial overtones of The Planet of the Apes, but this film is not about race so much as it is race itself. Rock is not necessarily making a statement on race today, but instead making a film that is all about race while also not being a bout race. Pretty clever move if you ask this critic. But this film isn't for the critic, which is pretty evident with Rock's regular critic bashing in the film. Instead, this is pure and simple, a funny movie. A damn funny movie. Telling the story of a once successful comedy actor (Andre's Hammy the Bear character, who he is trying to leave behind, can be seen as analogous to Rock's animated zebra in the Madagascar franchise) trying to go the serious route, after cleaning up his act and getting sober, and the actor's array of problems, piling higher and higher, Top Five is actually more than mere comedy, but at its very heart and soul, it is all about comedy.

Rock gathered together the elite of the comedy world for his film. To name just a few, there is Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones, Kevin Hart, Jay Pharoah, Sherri Shepherd, J.B. Smoove, and in one of the funniest over-the-top performances of the year, Cedric the Entertainer. There are also some pretty fun uncredited cameos near the end as well. The main crux of the film though, is Andre and NYT journalist, Chelsea Brown, played b y Rosario Dawson, as they travel around the city (not only Woody Allen-like, but also in much the same way Richard Linklater had Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wander around Paris) playing cat and mouse interview games. Toss in a reality show wedding extravaganza being put on by Andre's Bravo reality star wife-to-be (Gabrielle Union, in a surprisingly sympathetic role) and a pair of quite intriguing flashback sequences, and you have Top Five. A film that is about race and not about race. A film that is about comedy but not about comedy. A film that, no matter how deep some of its passing ideas run, is, pure and simple, a damn funny movie. And I think that is what Rock was going for. But then again, what the hell do I know. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Bitch Planet

A few days ago (December 10th, 2014, to be exact) a new comic book emerged from the fine folks over at Image Comics. That comic is called Bitch Planet. It is written by the great Kelly Sue DeConnick (seen below, posing behind her pink hand grenade) and drawn by Valentine De Landro. This comic book takes place on a prison planet, officially named the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, but commonly known as Bitch Planet. The story takes place in a world (or worlds) where women are sent off to said Bitch Planet for not being, um..compliant. Yup.  Image describes the series as Margaret Atwood meets Inglourious Basterds. Fair enough.

Bitch Planet is definitely a comic book that will be making my Best of the Year list, but I expect to hold that off until my Best of 2015 list, as there has only been a single issue released so far this year. But Kelly Sue need not worry, for she will still be making the list for this year - as will her darling hubby, Mr. DeConnick. Anyhoo, I am looking forward to issue #2 come January. Until then, let's keep reaching for the stars. I just would recommend reaching for Bitch Planet. The comic, yes, but the actual planet...probably not a good idea.

Check out the Heavenly Body of the Week Space Database.
That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Modern Monochromatics: The 10 Best Black & White Movies Made After Colour Film Became the So-Called Norm in Cinema

Here's a story for all the youngsters in the group. Once upon a time, the majority of movies were made in black and white, not colour. I know that is hard to believe, but it is true. Many modern filmgoers consider black and white to be inferior to colour film. These people shall now be known as freakin' idiots. Yup. You see, colour film goes back as far as film itself does. There are many hand-tinted films from back in the early days. That would be around 1896 or so. Yeah, cinema goes back that far. Believe it or not. Anyhow, I did not gather you all together today to give a lesson on film history. Today is actually about the modern film. You see, once colour film became cheaper to manufacture, more and more movies were shot and released in colour. By the end of the 1960's, the vast vast majority of movies were now being made in colour. For this list, I shall take a look at those films made in this colour era (pretty much from 1970 til now) that were done in black and white, or at least mostly in black and white. So let's get on with it, shall we? Oh yeah, some runners-up first, though.

These black and white runners-up, in no particular order, are: Fassbinder's Veronika Voss; Kairostami's debut feature, The Traveller; Guy Maddin's Archangel; David Lynch's Eraserhead AND Elephant Man; Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise; Chris Nolan's The Following; Aronofsky's Pi; Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon; Philippe Garrel's Regular Lovers; as well as more recent fare such as Frances ha, The Artist, Nebraska, the animated Persepolis, Haneke's The White Ribbon, and Francis Ford Coppola's often forgotten Tetro. I do have a few other runners-up to mention, but they will be spoken of within the list proper. And speaking of that list, let's get on with the darn thing. Oh, and one more thing. There is a certain film that will be missing from this list. A film that is on, if not at the top spot, of most every other list such as this. It's a film that is highly regarded (even winning a slew of Oscars), but also a film that I think is just, meh. Yeah, so when you go down this list, and are at a loss for why Schindler's List is not on there, well, that's why. So there.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mentions: Pleasantville & Sin City

These two films, 1998's Pleasantville and 2005's Sin City, respectively, both use colour and black and white in unique ways. Pleasantville uses black and white to convey the old fashioned ideas of the characters, and colour to express their awakenings. Meanwhile, Sin City contrasts flashes of colour with its mostly black and white palette, to match the intensity of Frank Miller's original graphic novels of the same name. Neither film is fully black and white, so into the special mention column they a-go.

10. Ed Wood

As a director, Tim Burton is known for his grand guignol visuals. Often with splashes of candy-coated colour swathing its way through the dark, Gothic tones of his film. But in 1994's Ed Wood, the bioic of director Edward Wood, auteur of the awful, there is just the crisp black and white tones of his camera. The film is a loving look at the man usually designated as the worst director in film history, and is a gorgeous looking film, and this was back before Johnny Depp became a joke version of himself.

9. Satantango

Granted, I could have used any number of Bela Tarr films for this spot. The Hungarian auteur has made more black and white than colour films in his 30+ year career. I could have put Damnation of Werkmeister Harmonies in here. I could have put his most recent (and possibly final) film, The Turin Horse. But I decided on the 8 hour, 1993 film, Satantango instead. To be honest, I couldn't even tell you which is my favourite Tarr film. They all seem to be in a tie for first, so I went with the most epic of the bunch. This film is not exactly the multiplex kinda film everyone goes to see, and is most assuredly the least known of the films on this list, but anyone who is into cinema, and I mean really into cinema, needs to sit down and watch this film. I mean it. Do it now!

8. Dead Man

Hey, here's Johnny Depp again, and also again, back before he became that joke version of his old self. Made in 1995, and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man is the tale of a journey. Where exactly that journey is going may be up for debate (oh that esoteric Jarmusch) but there is denying how goddamn gorgeous the film looks in black and white. Wherever that journey may be going (and I happen to like where it may or may not be going) this is easily one of the best films by ole Jimmy Jarmusch, and is a film that should be seen by everyone - even those ne'er do wells who look down on the monochrome.

7. Young Frankenstein

Now this is a film that would have been hilarious in full colour. I mean, the movie is kinda freakin' hilarious. But putting the film in the crisp black and white of its obvious influence, and even adding some of the original's German Expressionism into the mix, makes it all that much greater. This is probably one of the few black and white films that all those aforementioned monochromatic ne'er do wells actually watch and enjoy, so I suppose I should be thankful for that, huh?

6. Clerks

The directorial debut of Kevin Smith, and the debut of Jay & Silent Bob, Clerks is shot in black and white, mainly to look a little like the old style surveillance cameras found in convenience stores. Okay, it was also because it was cheaper, and Smith had already sold his entire comic book collection to finance his film. A fun, and cult film, Clerks is one of those rare black and white films (see the prior entry) of which the younger generations, the ones brought up in a colour movie world, will actually watch, and enjoy.

5. Down By Law

Okay, earlier I had decided to pick just one Bela Tarr film to represent the director, and a little later in the list, I will do the same with another director, but for some reason, Jim Jarmusch managed to sneak a second film onto the list. I guess I wasn't looking when that happened. But come on, and movie with John Lurie, Tom Waits AND Roberto Benigni, and there's singing and prison breaks. Actually, Jarmusch turned the tables on film convention and never actually shows the prison break. Great film, and looking even greater in good ole black and white.

4. Killer of Sheep

Next to Satantango, this 1977 Charles Burnett drama, is probably the least known film on the list. Winner of the Critic's Prize at the Berlin Festival, this film ran into some legal trouble and was never properly released in the US, surviving for several decades in just a few 16mm prints. It wasn't until just a few years back (2007, actually) that Steven Soderbergh put the money forth to restore the film, and it finally got a proper release in theatres. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen during this revival. This is a brilliantly tragic film, as stark in its story as the monochromatic film was to the eyes. 

3. Raging Bull

One of the most revered films of all time, this 1980 Martin Scorsese film won Robert De Niro his second Oscar, and his first one for Best Actor (the other one was for Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather, Pt. II) and was yet another film for which the director was cheated out of Best Director. Yeah, he lost to Robert Redford for Ordinary People. Yeah, he really did. Anyway, I digress. This film is as brutal as any Scorsese film, and the sharp, brutally honest black and white was the perfect tool for what the auteur had wanted to accomplish. Hard hitting indeed!

2. Manhattan

Now here is yet another director who could have slipped in here with several different films. I love his 1980 Felliniesque Stardust Memories, as well as his 1983 mockumentary, Zelig, and his 1984 film, Broadway Danny Rose, but none of these black and white films can equal his 1979 love story to his city, Manhattan. My second favourite Woody Allen film (only Annie Hall tops it, but that one's in colour, so...) Manhattan is seriously the Woodman's love letter to the greatest love of his life, New York City. I know there are a lot of Woody haters out there (those who take tabloid fodder for gospel like truth) but those people don't really matter here. Manhattan (and Woody) is great. End of story.

1. The Last Picture Show

Made in 1971, this is the oldest film on the list, but it was still made well into the colour age of movies. Director Peter Bogdanovich takes a look at the loss of innocence in a small Texas town, and in doing so, he conveys the way of life in this once quaint town, with the kind of black and white one would expect from the Golden Age of Hollywood, an era that is near and dear to film critic and cinephile turned filmmaker, Bogdanovich. I was lucky enough to get to see this film projected onto the big screen, and it was definitely worth it. A gorgeous black and white film, indeed. Easily able to fit in with those aforementioned days of gold. And then there's Cybill Shepherd.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.