Friday, November 28, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Bespin

Bespin is the home of the mining town known as Cloud City. Bespin made its first appearance in a little movie known as The Empire Strikes Back. Bespin is also, or at least was the home of that scoundrel known as Lando Calrissian. Lando was the Baron Administrator when Han Solo, Leia Organna, and Chewbacca showed up to avoid the Imperial forces of Darth Vader. What happened next? Let's just say Lando can be a jackass sometimes, and Han got frozen in carbonite, and hauled off by the bounty hunter known as Boba Fett. Yeah, Lando can be a prick sometimes. I guess he made up for it during the Battle of Endor, but still...kind of an ass.

And while we are on the subject of the Heavenly Body of the Week, I would like to take this time to mention that this just so happens to be the 52nd Heavenly Body of the Week, and according to my math skills, that would be a full year of Heavenly Bodies. So there ya go. Now we move on to Year Two. And why not take a gander at my Heavenly Body of the Week Space Database, found oh so conveniently via the link at the bottom of this very page. And then be back here next week for the start of Year Two in our Heavenly Body of the Week goodness.


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

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to All My Peeps!!

Ho ho ho and Happy Turkey Day to all my faithful readers and true believers. To all my peeps. Here are some traditional Thanksgiving images for ya to chew on this holiday. Now I'm hungry.



Sorry all you stuffing fans. I just counldn't come up with anything witty for that one. So to make it up to ya'll, here's a holiday greeting from the Justice League of America.



Yeah, Batman never seems to have any fun. The old sourpuss. Anyhoo, since we're on a traditional Thanksgiving rant here (really?), here is some yummy (really!?) sounding holiday soda.


Um...alrighty then. Perhaps we should just move on and forget that last thing. Howzabout checking out some little known Peanuts Thanksgiving comic strips, courtesy of Francesco Marciuliano.






So there ya go, kids. My cheaply made, totally random, Thanksgiving post. Nothing more to say. Just a big shout out to the Native Americans, for their gift of America. Sorry 'bout the smallpox guys. So here's a pic of Ann Sheridan gettin' ready to carve the turkey. And like Santa coming at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, (and my recent claim that I was going to end every post with a pic of the queen of the pin-ups) here's a pic of the lovely Miss Rita Hayworth, trimming her tree.


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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The 11 Question Interview Presents The Bitchy Waiter

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of The 11 Question Interview, wherein I pose eleven esoteric questions to various equally esoteric personalities. Here we go...

The Bitchy Waiter. A premise as simple as can be. According to this blogosphere phenom's Facebook page, "This is a blog by a bitchy waiter in New York City who blogs to keep from poking customers in the eyes with forks." So there. This guy runs a heee-larious blog (found right here) where he tells it like it is in the service industry. Having spent more than fifteen years of my own life in that same service industry, I can attest to how sharp and witty, and right on the mark, the Bitchy Waiter is in his cyber-diatribes. Again, according to his FB page, The Bitchy Waiter's mission is thus: "The mission of this bitchy waiter is to blog in order to keep the anger and frustration in tap so that he does not explode one day and poke a customer in the eye with a fork. Again." And yes, as a former server, I understand the desire to stab customers in the eyes with forks. But enough of this gab. Let's get on with the 11 questions.

***********

If you were on that proverbial desert island, which one film, one book, and one piece of music would you want to have with you?
  • The film I would take with me would be The Color Purple because I can always watch any scene from that movie and be completely mesmerized. Book would be Catcher in the Rye, without a doubt. The one piece of music would be the overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein because it never fails to put me in a good mood.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • I wanted to be in advertising like Darrin Stevens form Bewitched.

If you could choose one person from throughout history, real or fictional, to have a beer with, who would that one person be, and why?
  • Princess Diana because I'm pretty sure we would have hit it off.

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what song would you sing?
  • I would sing the Sam Harris version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" so I could wail on it.

If you had to pick just one item of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would that food be, and why?
  • Pizza, because it's pizza, duh.

Who was your first celebrity crush?
  • Lisa Welchel, Blair from The Facts of Life.

If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?
  • For the younger version of me, Dustin "Screech" Diamond and for the older version of me, Gene Wilder, but only if they wouldn't let me play myself.

If you had to live the rest of your life inside a movie, TV show, or comic strip, which movie, TV show, or comic strip would it be?
  • I think I would take The Cosby Show because I want to live in that fabulous brownstone in Brooklyn Heights.

If you could be any inanimate object, what inanimate object would you be, and why?
  • A pillow because I love sleep so much and it would be wonderful to just be on the bed all damn day.

What is the best insult/comeback/what have you, that you have ever given to a customer or a fellow worker?
  • "Fuck you. Nobody cares."

If you could choose any two celebrities, from any time period, to be your parents, whom would you choose?
  • I can't imagine anyone I would want more than my own parents, Lionel and Nellie.

*********** 
I want to thank The Bitchy Waiter for stopping by and taking part in The 11 Question Interview. It is always a pleasure to read and hear what he has to think on the world around him. Again, his blog can be found here, and make sure to like him on Facebook as well. I'll be back sometime soonish, with a brand new victim...er, I mean interviewee for the next installment of The 11 Question Interview. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Welcome to the Post That Celebrates the 1 Year Anniversary of the Glorious Blog Known as All Things Kevyn

Sure, I've been writing my wares around the internet for more than a decade now, on various sites of both my own doing and other people's places, and have had my way on several now defunct blogs of my own, but this here is the finishing up of my first year right here at All Things Kevyn, the hub of ...well, the hub of all things me. Yup. Be it my writings on cinema, comic books, music, TV, or whatever pop cultural thing is on my mind, my reviews and top tens for the other online places where I happen to rest my laurel cudgel, or any of the other doo-dads I dabble in (my web comics, my TV alt history stuff, my selfie patrol Instagram doo-hickeys), they can all be found right here at All Things Kevyn. So there! And hey, apparently Spider-Man approves. But I digress.

It's been a fun ride lo this past year. Before All Things Kevyn came around (and I am still beyond thrilled with myself for coming up with that title) my writing was mostly stuck in the rut of film review and/or critique. Not that there is anything wrong with such a thing, as far as entertainment goes, cinema is my number one, go-to media, but it has been fun spreading my writing wings out into television and comic books and strips, and even into music, though the latter is my weakest side I think. I've also been enjoying coming up with all my top ten lists, from the 10 Best Mothers to the 10 Sexiest Muppets to the 10 Best Bobbys to the 10 Baddest Eye-Patch Wearin' Mofos! Yeah, they're fun. And now here we are a year later, and still goin' strong. I've had guest blog posts and I've taken part in a slew of blogathons. I was part of the annual April A to Z Challenge, and will be again this coming April. Lotsa good stuff. And ya know what? Wouldn't it be nice if all of these aforementioned posts could be found somewhat easily and all in one place? Yeah, it would.  It really really would. Which brings us to the following link.


So there! No needless wandering around the blog to find whatchya want. It's all there in one oh so convenient place. Even all my past writings as well. But once again, I digress. I've now spoken of the past, but what of the future, kids? What of the future? Well, let me tall ya. The future here at All Things Kevyn will include more strange and unusual top ten lists, as well as the usual suspects of film and TV reviews, comic book reviews over at Comic Spectrum, more and more blogathons, and lots of other stuff too. Regular series' such as The Alphabet Game, Comic Stripping, People Who Need to be Punched in the Face, and The 11 Question Interview, will all be moving forward into Year Two. But these regular features will have brand spankin' new company joining them soon. Among these new features is a new guest blogger thang tentatively title Zoomin' wit Zuky. Yeah okay, that title may very well change before it debuts in January, but hey, that's where it stands right now For all those old school readers of mine (and you know who you are), there may also be a return of a newly revamped Top 5 Project comin' your way in Year Two. There are a few other wigglies in the works right now, but they are still in the confidential planning stages, so you'll have to wait on them.

And, to spread my future ramblings beyond just the mere blogosphere, I do hope to be finishing my book sometime in the new year (my book on the forgotten TV shows of the past), and in turn, hoping to have it published sometime over the Summer of 2015. So there's always that of which to look forward. And that's about it...for now. But before I go, I do want to give a shout out to all my loyal readers. All those faithful readers and true believers that make All Things Kevyn the place where all the cool kids wanna hang out. Like they say, it's all about the fans, and I appreciate all my great fans out there in the cyberworld. And here's to hopin' you'll keep on keepin' on. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. To close out, and to give a hint to one of those aforementioned confidential plans, here is a photo of Rita Hayworth playing ping pong. Have fun.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Alphabet Game: The Cinephile Edition, Pt. II

Hello, and welcome to The Alphabet Game, where I take a look at 26 different things in one common category. This edition is a second take on our very first Alphabet Game, the Cinephile Edition, Pt. II. Have fun.

A is for Awards Season - Ah, that wonderful time of the year when Hollywood begins patting itself on the back for a job well done. Many people bitch and complain about such self-congratulatory behaviour (Woody Allen has said they do nothing but give out awards in Hollywood - this from a guy who has won several Oscars) but I like it. Beginning in early December, traditionally with the National Board of Review announcing first (though both the NY and LA critics groups have tried to jump in first as of late) and culminating in February or March, with the biggie, the Academy Award, Hollywood Awards Season is a three month+ gala extravaganza. My lovely wife and I have been known to throw a hopping Oscar Party now and again. I've even taken to live Tweeting the event lately. The Oscars are sorta our Superbowl. haters be damned!

B is for Backlots - Nowadays everything is shot either on location somewhere or in a studio, in front of the all-powerful green screen. Even TV shows are becoming more and more an on location thing. But back in the day, the golden days of Hollywood yore, it was the studios and the backlots where most films were shot. Located (of course) behind the studios, one could walk through wonders, from a New York City street to a train station to a World War II foxhole to a small town street corner - all within a short walking distance from each other. I would love to be able to go back in time and walk this walk of the backlots of old Hollywood.

C is for The Cannon Group - Beginning in 1967 and dissolving in 1993, The Cannon Group, especially while under the ownership of Manahem Golan and Yoram Globus during the early 1980's, was known for buying up bottom-of-the-barrel scripts and making equally bottom-of-the-barrel films out of them. When the Cannon logo came up on your movie screen, you knew you were in for a great film.And yes, that statement was meant as sarcasm. Though Cannon did dip their toes into foreign and art films on occasion, they are mostly known for things such as Missing in Action, Delta Force, the Death Wish sequels (but not the original one, the actual good one) and the classic masterpiece, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Yeah, that too may be sarcastic.

D is for De Palma!! - As a young cinephile, lo those many years ago, I never really took all that much heed toward Brian De Palma. Believing him to be a mere Hictchcock wannabe, I kinda blew him and his films off, in lieu of concentrating my cinematic studies on more respected auteurs. Boy what a silly goose I was. Over the years, I shed my film snobbery ways, and began to embrace the so-called kitschier side of cinephilia. Directors such as Douglas Sirk and Nicholas Ray, and of course, Mr. Brian De Palma. These days two of the auteur's films (Blow Out and Phantom of the Paradise) sit amongst my top 100 favourite films list (which can be viewed here, by the by) and I count many of his other films (Sisters, Scarface, Body Double, Dressed to Kill, Carrie, Carlito's Way, Femme Fatale, The Black Dahlia, Obsession, at least parts of The Untouchables and Casualties of War, and his early experimental films like Hi Mom! and Murder a la Mod) as favourites as well. It took my long enough, but here I finally am. Viva la De Palma!!

E is for the Eye Patch - For an industry built around visuals, there sure have been an unusual number of eye-patch wearing directors over time. You have the likes of John Ford, at least when he was older, Nick Ray, though his may have been just an affectation, and Raoul Walsh, who really did lose an eye, and even Andre de Toth, who made the first big 3D film, House of Wax, a film, thanks to his own eye patch, he could never actually see properly in 3-D. But even beyond all these guys, the best eye patch in Hollywood has got to be the one on the face of Fritz Lang. An eye patch on one eye and a monocle in the other. Just check him out in the pic right next to these words. Top that guys!

F is for Freaks - Not only one of my all time favourite horror films, but one of my all-time faves, no matter what genre. Tod Browning was a very underrated director both in his time and in hindsight. The man made a Hell of a lot of films, though many are long lost silents, and even though films such as The Unholy Three, The Devil-Doll, London After Midnight, his Dracula, and especially The Unknown (another of my all-time faves) are classics, or at least should be, it is the 1932 film, Freaks, that stands out as the filmmaker's best work. One of us, one of us!!! I'm proud to be one of them. Yeah!

G is for Guy Kibbee - Part of the Warner Brothers stock company of the 1930's (the studio's hey day, both pre and post code) the pudgy, rosy-cheeked Guy Kibbee was in pretty much every Warners film of the period. This may sem like hyperbole, but trust me, if you happen to be watching TCM some night and the 1930's styled Warners logo pops up, you can almost be guaranteed that you are about to see those aforementioned rosy-cheeks of the great Guy Kibbee. Hey, and the guy began his career entertaining on Mississippi riverboats as a younger man. Can't beat that. Go Guy, go!

H is for Hitchcocko-Hawksian - This term refers to a certain outlook in film criticism, that stems from the Auteur Theory (look it up if you don't know what the Auteur Theory is - I'll wait). Talking about early French critics like Godard and Truffaut, as well as America's bad boy, Peter Bogdanovich, the term Hitchcocko-Hawksian, combining the names of two of the greatest Hollywood auteurs, is also how I describe my own critical outlook. So much so that I even list it as my official political view on Facebook.

I is for Indie Film - For many years, movies meant Hollywood. Sure, there have always been indie films around. Basically everything made prior to the studio system coming into power in the late teens, can be considered independent cinema. There has also been many indie experimental cinema throughout the years, but it wasn't until the late 1980's and early 1990's, that indie cinema truly burst through. With filmmakers like Jarmusch, the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, Linklater, Anders, and others, the indie scene began to boom. Granted, in more recent days that line between indie cinema and studio financing has blurred quite a bit, but hey, we still have the hey day of American Indie Cinema, and the films that made it so special. Films like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Slacker, Clerks, Dazed and Confused, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Mystery Train, Night on Earth, etc. etc. etc.

J is for JLG - Speaking of the French New Wave (and we were back in the Hitchcocko-Hawksian section) the supposed king of that wave was a man called Jean Luc Godard, or JLG as we shall call him henceforth. Yeah, some may claim Truffaut as the king, which is why I used the descriptive supposed. Anyhoo, Godard was once one of the greatest directors around. From Breathless in 1960 to Week-end in 1967, he made pretty much nothing but great films, some even masterpieces. In the auteur's latter days (as in the last twenty years or so) he has turned his eye to experimental, non-narrative essay-like films. I must say I am not much of a fan of these latter day films (his latest one, in 3D no less, I have yet to see) but any guy who once made Contempt AND Alphaville, can get a pass in my book.

K is for Kevyn Knox - Yeah, that's right! I added myself to this post. Whatchya gonna do about it!? Seriously though, I include myself here as an example of that titular cinephile. But I don't think of myself as the typical snooty cinephile. I'm not the kinda cinephile who thinks Tarkovsky is a God and so-called B-movies are lesser creatures. Those are what we call film snobs. I have a friend like this. If it ain't in the canon, then it ain't worth watchin.! Sure, my favourite films list include canonical films such as Citizen Kane, Vertigo, City Lights, Taxi Driver, and so on, but it also has obscure Pre-Code films like Safe in Hell and The Last Flight, as well as more "pop" films like Blow Out and Blade Runner. Hell, I even have Dazed and Confused and Bogdanovich's Targets in there. So yeah, no film snobbery here. Did I mention Samson and Delilah was in there too?

L is for Linklater - Speaking of Howard Hawks (and again, we were back at the Letter H) one could say, and one has said, that Richard Linklater is the modern day Howard Hawks. Yeah, I have said that. Just as the great Hawks spread his abilities out of the entire spectrum of genres, from westerns to screwball comedies to buddy films to musicals to straight-up dramas, Linklater goes the way of multitudes of genres. Along with the westerns and comedies, Linklater has made coming of age films (the BEST coming of age film actually!!), romantic comedies, socially conscious films, experimental doo-dads, and even a couple of animated films. And the guy might even win an Oscar this year for Boyhood, his 12-years-in-the-making grand opus.

M is for Winsor McCay - The founding father of film animation, McCay began as a cartoonist, writing and drawing Little Nemo, one of the earliest newspaper comic strips back in 1905, before turning to the brand new film genre of animation. His Gertie the Dinosaur was one of the most beloved cartoons of the silent era. He also made one of my all-time favourite animated films, The Sinking of the Lusitania. Without McCay there would be no UB Iwerks, no Walt Disney, no Fleischer Brothers, no Walter Lantz, no Tex Avery. So there!

N is for Mike Nichols - As I was compiling this list, the news came that Mike Nichols had died. For those who don't know (and you really should), Nichols was the director of such films as The Graduate, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, Primary Colors, Postcards From the Edge, and Closer. Pretty damn fine filmography if ya ask me. Farewell Mr. Nichols.

O is for Oklahoma! - When one thinks about the hey day of the Hollywood Musical, one invariably thinks about fun, brightly coloured musical numbers and inevitable happy endings. Sure, Oklahoma! has songs about surries with fringes on top and how the corn is as high as an elephant's eye, but the film also has Gordon MacRae trying to talk poor hapless Rod Steiger into hanging himself - and it's all done in song. Yeah, this musical has suicidal tendencies, fallen women, and even an actual death. Fun stuff indeed.

P is for Peg Entwistle - The tragic tale of poor Peggy Entwistle. The young stage actress had come to Hollywood in the early 1930's to try to break into the movie industry. In 1932 she got her first role in a film, a small role in the RKO picture, Thirteen Women. Alas, a few months before the film was released, Peg Entwistle climbed up Mt. Lee, made her way to the top of the H in the Hollywoodland sign, and leapt to her death. According to her friend Bette Davis, just beginning to make a name for herself at the time, Entwistle was on the verge of making it in the biz. Alas, poor Peggy Entwistle.

Q is for QT, aka Quentin Tarantino - Yeah baby! QT is in da house! There are some mighty rabid Tarantino haters out there. The guy seems to instill either a great love or a grand hatred in moviegoers. I personally love the guy. Back when I was running a place called Midtown Cinema, I used to have to mail back some of the 35mm prints we got in. yeah, that's right kids, 35mm prints. Anyhoo, when I would take these prints into the local Fed/Ex store, there was this lady working there who thought I was Quentin tarantino. I guess there's a slight resemblance, but only slight. No way should anyone think I am him, but nonetheless, this woman did indeed think I was him. Of course, I didn't help matters with my snide comments about working on the Kill Bill 3 script. Oh well.

R is for the Railroad in Film - The railroad in film goes back pretty much as far as film itself does. One of the first films ever shown to a paying audience was a film by the Lumiere Brothers, of a train entering a station. The film was less than a minute long, but it was, as they say, groundbreaking. Ever since, cinema's love affair with trains and the railroad has soared. From 1903's The Great Train Robbery to films like The General, The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest (gee, Hitch really loved his trains!), Murder on the Orient Express, Shanghai Express, Twentieth Century, Cairo Station, Brief Encounter, Union Depot, The Apu Trilogy, ad infinitum. Hell, we even have films like Throw Momma From the Train. Huzzah!

S is for Swashbuckling! - Saturday matinees are filled with them. Well, at least they used to be. Saturday and Sunday afternoon TV was too. The swashbuckling you get now is just preening shots of Johnny Depp dressed like a hipster pirate, doing his usual Johnny Depp schtick. But back in the day. Oh boy, back in the day of Tyrone Power and basil Rathbone, and of course, the great Errol Flynn. Yeah, these were the true swashbuckling days. And back then the prize (ie. the damsel not so in distress) wasn't the howling screech monkey Keira Knightley, but someone like Olivia de Havilland or Maureen O'Hara. These were the days.

T is for TCM - If classic film be your thing, than Turner Classic Movies, or TCM, is just the right spot for you. Simple as that. With legendary host, Robert Osborne (that's right - legendary!!), TCM has been a godsend for classic film lovers and discerning cinephiles for 20 years now. Yeah, TCM plays the heralded classics of course, but where else on TV are you going to get to see some of these often obscure films the network plays at 3am or so. great times.

U is for Una Merkel - Adorable as all get out, Part of the same company stock that included the aforementioned Mr. Kibbee, Una made a career out of playing the sassy, saucy, ofttimes a bit dimwitted sidekick to the main star. Never getting the attention of costars like Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, and the like, Una Merkel is pretty much forgotten these days, save for those (like myself) who love the Pre-code era of filmmaking. And not only does she not get enough attention for her talent and comedic timing, this snarky little gal is also often forgotten when it comes to talking of the great beauties of the day. But hey, the girl was a knockout. I even just listed her on a sexy classic film star list I did on this blog. So take that!

V is for Vive le Vigo! - With his first film coming in 1930 and his being dead by 1934 (at the age of just 29, to TB) Jean Vigo did not exactly have a long and storied career. He made just three short films, and just one feature in his short time on Earth, all of which were cut and in one case butchered by the French censors, but to watch these films is to watch unbelievability in cinema. His sole feature, 1934's L'Atalante is so beautiful it actually hurts to watch it. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

W is for Wong Kar-wai - I remember, back in 2001, my lovely wife and I attended a screening of a film called In the Mood For Love. At the time, I had only ever seen one Wong Kar-wai film (Fallen Angels on VHS of all things), and my wife had not seen any. We sat in the balcony of the Carlisle Theatre, and as teh film progressed, my wife leaned further and further toward the screen. At one point I was afraid she might tumble off the balcony. Needless to say, the little missus was mesmerized by Wong's visual storytelling. And hey, I was too! Since this time, I have seen all of Wong's films, and even though they are all gorgeous works of art, In the Mood For Love is still my favourite, and still sits in my all-time list. Meanwhile, the aforementioned mesmerized missus tries to get everyone she meets to see the film. That's a good cause, if there ever was one.

X is for Xanadu - A roller skating movie musical with Olivia Newton-John, the final on screen performance of Gene Kelly, and the music of ELO, Cliff Richard, and The Tubes! How can this not be one of the kitschiest fun movies of all-time!? Simple answer: there is no way it couldn't be. Granted, legend has it, that this film was the inspiration for the creation of the Razzies, the annual awards for the worst in cinema. But what do they know!!?

Y is for Yippee Ki-Yay, Motherfucker - Yeah, that's right! Bruce Willis' iconic line from 1988's Die Hard. As I was gathering up different topics for each of the letters, I got stuck on the Letter Y. The only thing I could really think of was the line from Die Hard. Then I asked my lovely wife if she could come up with something cinematically-related for the Letter Y. Her first reply was that damn line from Die Hard. So here it is. Yippee Ki-Yay Motherfucker. Nothing more need be said.

Z is for Zeppo - Poor poor Zeppo. Everyone knows and loves big brothers Chico, Harpo, and Groucho (though no one ever remembers poor poor Gummo) but Zeppo never gets any love. It's obvious why though. Why Groucho, Harpo, and Chico got all the laughs, poor poor Zeppo was relegated to straight man for his brothers. Granted, other movie straight men, like Bing Crosby and Oliver Hardy did quite well, but then they had otehr talents. Perhaps it was because Zeppo had no talent, that his brothers felt bad and just let him tag along since they loved him. Poor poor Zeppo.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Let's close out with an image from our Letter X.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Planet X



"And now then, eager young space cadet, here is the course we shall pursue to find Planet X. Starting from where we are, we go 33,600 turbo miles due up. Then west in an astro-arc deviation to here, then following the great circle seven radiolubes south by downeast. By astro-astroble to here, here, and here, then by space navigo-compass to here, here, and then to here and here. By thirteen point strato-cumulus bearing four million light-years, and thus to our destination. Now do you know how to reach Planet X?" -  Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Film Review: Alejandro G. Inarritu's Birdman

To say that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman, the Mexican auteur's fifth feature film, is a surreal, visually batshitcrazy, tragi-comic near-masterpiece, and self-parodying industry satire, full of sound and fury, signifying the hidden depths of Michael Keaton's bravura comeback performance, is not just some hyperbolic overselling of the product. It is, in all reality, the heartfeltiest of statements from a critic who has become overly jaded lo these many years of film watching in these deteriorating days of cinema. This film is a vibrant slice of proverbial fresh air, in the otherwise rank stench of the modern moviemaking slaughterhouse. I told you I was jaded, but when one experiences a film such as this, with its Wellesian outlook and Kubrickian mannerisms (both cinematic attributes that are not new to Inarritu's oeuvre), even the most jaded of critics has to stand up and say huzzah.

As far as the story goes, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), as the full title reads, is about Riggan Thomson, a has-been actor, once famous for playing a movie superhero, attempting a comeback, not in his native Hollywood, but trodding the boards of Broadway. Michael Keaton's performance of Riggan, a performance that is not only a comeback, but a comeback that could win the actor his first ever Oscar, is dead shot brilliant. Playing basically a version of himself (Riggan mentions his last time playing Birdman was 1992, the very same year Keaton last played Batman) Keaton has never been better. Combining his skills as a dramatic actor with his absurdest ability at black comedy, Keaton is what one would call remarkable in the role of faded star. Add to the mix, an arrogantly charming Edward Norton, in one of his finest performances, and a surprisingly visceral Emma Stone, not to leave out Andrea Riseborough and Naomi Watts (both great as well), and you have one hell of series of movie performances. but even with this trio of performances, Birdman may actually be all about the look and feel of what is going on. A look and feel made all that more powerful by the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, last year's Oscar winner for Gravity.

Lubezki, who has worked regularly with Inarritu's fellow Mexican New Wave compatriot, Alfonso Cuaron, gives the film a feel of neverending twisting and turning, as his camera weaves through the convoluted back hallways of the film's main setting of a Broadway theatre, and every once and a while spilling out into the streets of the theatre district. Admittedly manipulated to seem like long unbroken shots, the visuals of the film still rock and reel us into an edge of our seats position throughout the film's two hour or so running time. Add to this bravura camera work, some intriguing fish-eye views and ultra close-ups, and the film has the feel of both claustrophobia and wide-eyed wonder. Inarritu also infuses his film with a magical realism as well, that aforementioned wide-eyed wonder, as Riggan may or may not have the power of telekinesis, the director, who also co-wrote the script, giving us contradictory viewpoints throughout. To say that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman is a surreal, visually batshitcrazy, tragi-comic near-masterpiece is certainly not mere hyperbole, but a welcome rave-worthy critique spewing forth from a jaded critic looking down upon a mostly tired industry. Inarritu takes multiple stabs at critics in his film (Keaton even quotes Flaubert in his anti-critic diatribe) but that doesn't stop this one from going on and on. Dare I even say, the best film of 2014...so far. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Starlets: The 10 Sexiest Ladies From the Golden Age of Hollywood

Hollywood has always been a place high in glamour, but never so much as back in what most film historians call the Golden Age of Hollywood. Stretching from the last days of the silent era to the fall of the studio system, basically from 1925 to 1959 (just to put some hard numbers on the thing), the Golden Age of Hollywood was a place chock for of glitz and glamour. This was a time where the men were dapper and the dames were drop dead gorgeous. That's right, I'm talkin' about classic Hollywood here, so I can call 'em dames if I wanna! Anyhoo, with this in mind, I decided to make me up a list of those aforementioned drop dead dames that I thought were the so-called bee's knees. The sexiest ladies from that oh so Golden Age. Now since there were so so so many beautiful women in Hollywood back in the day, many oh so beautiful ladies ended up missing the list. Sexy stars like Jean Harlow, Vivien Leigh, Clara Bow, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Susan Hayward, Jeanne Crane, Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland, Fay Wray, Dorothy Lamour, Dorothy Mackaill, Carole Lombard, Maureen O'Hara, Ida Lupino, Kay Francis, Miriam Hopkins, Lupe Valez, Jean Arthur, Joan Blondell, Kate Hepburn, Mary Pickford, Bette Davis, and Joan Crawford (before she was all eyebrows and shoulder pads) were sadly left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Other ladies, such as Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, and Natalie Wood are left off the list due to the major parts of their careers taking place after the end of that oh so Golden Age. So, without further ado, let's get on with this thing.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Runners-Up
Ann Dvorak * Hedy Lamarr * Judy Garland * Una Merkel * Veronica Lake

Any self-respecting top ten list just has to have some runners-up, and this top ten list is no different. Pre-code beauty Ann Dvorak, the knock-out little sister of Scarface; the gorgeous Hedy Lamarr, as brilliant as she was beautiful; the tragic Judy Garland, whose sultry voice only added to her sexiness; funny girl Una Merkel, the sassy, sexy sidekick of the early sound era; petite powerhouse Veronica Lake, the witch everyone wanted to marry. These are the five classy, classic beauties who just missed out on the list proper. But speaking of that list proper, let's get on with the damn thing. Oh, hold up a sec, we have one more addition before we actually get on with the damn thing...

Special Mention: Peggy Cummins

Okay, I had to throw Peggy Cummins in here. Anyone who has ever seen Gun Crazy, understands why this was a thing I just had to do. Granted, Miss Cummins is far from a household name, even for those into classic cinema, and Gun Crazy is really her one hit wonder of sorts (yeah, there was Night of the Demon, but c'mon!), but damn that girl and those guns sure do make for great looking movie. Plus, placing her in as a special mention, may just be a cheap shot at getting eleven lovely ladies into this list...or sixteen, if you count the previous runners-up. Yup.

10. Ingrid Bergman

This beautiful woman played many parts in many movies, and played them all well, damn well, but she will always be known for her classic portrayal of iconic movie love interest Ilsa, in Casablanca. A lady who almost came between not only two men, but two (or more) warring nations. A classic beauty from the hinterlands of Sweden (okay, actually she's from Stockholm) Ingrid Bergman took Hollywood by storm before running off with a married Italian director and becoming an outcast for a while. Yeah, outcasts are sexy, baby!

9. Grace Kelly

Not only one of the most stunning figures in Hollywood history, but Grace Kelly was the very epitome of her own name. The grace that Miss Kelly put forth (and yes, Grace was her real first name, not just a studio affectation) equaled her amazing looks. This fellow native Pennsylvanian made just fourteen films (three of them with some guy named Hitchcock!) before being swept off her high heels and turned into the Princess of Monaco. Always stunning and always a vision of grace and beauty. That was Grace Kelly. And hey, she could get into the middle of a good murder mystery with the best of 'em. Just ask Hitch.

8. Barbara Stanwyck

Stanwyck may not be the typical ideal of beauty, and therefore is not mentioned in many of those inevitable most beautiful actresses list (ya know, like this one) but her classic looks, her steely reserve, and her snarky way of delivering her lines, makes Babs quite sexy in my book. There is a story about when Babs was filming Forty Guns, and a stuntman refused to do a horse stunt because he thought it was too dangerous, and the then 50 year old Stanwyck stepped in and did her own stunt. Now that is fucking sexy as all get out!! From her sultry Precode days to her later years of embarrassing stuntmen, Babara Stanwyck deserves to be on any sexy ladies list.

7. Louise Brooks

The ultimate Pre-code flapper chick, Lulu was iconic in her famed bobbed haircut (that hairstyle was a huge trend thanks to Brooks), playing prostitutes and other fallen women, until her refusal to work within the all-powerful studio system, essentially ended her career shortly after the sound era began. After this she became some sort of half crazy recluse, but before this, her roles in some of the best, and sexiest, silent films ever made, make Louise Lulu Brooks an easy candidate for this list.

6. Lauren Bacall

Yeah, Betty Bacall was drop dead gorgeous, but it was that raspy, breathy voice that made her go beyond mere looks, and into the realm of pure sultry sex appeal. The lovely and talented Miss Bacall is the star on here with the longest career, having just shuffled off this mortal coil earlier this year, but the brunt of her career took place in that aforementioned Golden Age of Hollywood. Oh, and damn if she doesn't know how to whistle. Just put your lips together and blow.

5. Rita Hayworth

Margarita Cansino, as she was born, was one of the most desired pin-up girls of the WWII era, and of course then there was that performance of Blame it on Mame in Gilda. Though her natural hair colour was dark brown, almost black, and she famously went  blonde for hubby Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai, Rita was mostly known as a knock-out redheaded beauty. Hell, the lady even married a prince (more than a decade before Grace Kelly) and according to some stories, had the cocktail (the Margarita!) named after her by a lovestruck bartender-cum-drink inventor.

4. Janet Gaynor

The adorable Miss Gaynor was the veritable bee's knees (yeah, I used that term again!) back in the silent days, even becoming the very first Oscar winner for Best Actress in 1929, and even though her career ended just a decade after the sound era came in, and is therefore unknown in today's circles, even by many film fans, I haven't forgotten the classic actress who just so happens to be the cutest thing Hollywood has ever had going for it. And, if you want to go the stereotypical male route of lesbians being hotter than straight women, then Miss Gaynor has that going for her as well.

3. Gene Tierney

I still stand by the statement (which I have made in other posts) that Gene Tierney has the sexiest overbite in Hollywood history. Her beauty was more than enough for Dana Andrews to fall madly, obsessively in love with her in Laura, and this was after seeing just a portrait of the girl. Tierney made a career out of playing femme fatales, and even though all these men know she is bad news, they are willing to take the chance. I think it might be that overbite.

2. Marilyn Monroe

Yup. The ultimate blonde bombshell. Marilyn was so sexy, and so known for that sexiness, that most people forget that not only was she a great comedic actress, with some of the best comic timing in Hollywood history (just watch Some Like It Hot) but also a great dramatic actress as well (just watch her final completed film, The Misfits). And just like the other ladies on this list, talent just makes the sexy even sexier. But alas, no matter how sexy Marilyn (just one name needed) may be, she is only number two on this list, which means we now get to number one...

1. Greta Garbo

So how could any self-respecting list of the sexiest, the most beautiful classic Hollywood actresses, not only include the great Greta Garbo, but also not put her in the top spot? No self-respecting list could do that. Garbo (only one name needed here) was the epitome of classic beauty. That face, that voice, that aloof, don't give a fuck attitude. It all adds up to make Garbo (again, just one name needed!!) the sexiest actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hell, it makes Garbo the sexiest actress from any time period. Heads and shoulders above all her contemporaries AND anyone who came after. Forget Clara Bow, Garbo is the true It Girl. The true It Woman.

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The 11 Question Interview Presents Bob Bretall

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of The 11 Question Interview, wherein I pose eleven esoteric questions to various equally esoteric personalities. Here we go...

There's a guy. He's kinda the comic book guy. No, not the one from The Simpsons. This guy is the real comic book guy, not some cartoon joke version. This guy is the real thing. His name is Bob Bretall, and he knows pretty much anything and everything about comic books. Everything from the early pre-golden days of comic book history to the latest happenings at Image and Valiant. Bob knows the secret identity of every damn superhero around, and he knows how Scrooge McDuck began his fortune. Oh yeah, and Bob is also a Guinness World Record holder. Yup, that's right. Bob, at 95,000+ comic books, Bob is the official record holder for the largest private collection of comic books. Bob also runs a website called ComicSpectrum, for which I write comic book reviews. If you check out his site (and ya know ya should!) you can find lots of fascinating comic book related stuff, including great pics of his personal, record setting collection. So there ya have it. The comic book king, Bob Bretall, in all his record setting glory. But now we move on from our short bio of the guy, and turn our heads toward the 11 questions we had the guy answer. So without further ado, here are those 11 questions, and Bob's great replies...

***********

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

  • My brothers were much older than me (8 and 10 years older) and were in college learning computer science when I was in elementary school, so I always wanted to follow in their footsteps and get into computers.  I ended up doing just that, I have a BS and MS in Computer Science and have been working in the field since about 2 weeks after I graduated high school when I got my 1st job, that I kept the entire time I was in college.

If you were on that proverbial desert island, and could bring just one movie, one book, and one piece of music, what would movie, book, and piece of music would you bring?

  • Movie: Casino Royale (James Bond - The Daniel Craig one)  Hey, do I get a Blu-Ray Player & TV too or do I just get to look at the box art on this desert island? Book: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Music: The Four Seasons by Vilvadi (I'm listening to the London Philharmonic performance of this as I fill out this interview).

If you could choose one person from throughout history, real or fictional, to have a beer with, who would that one person be, and why?

  • It would be a "Coke Zero" in lieu of a beer on my side and it would be Stan Lee.  He's the co-creator of the Marvel Universe and the man responsible for getting me into comics.  I love hearing him speak and having a private chat with him would be great, I'd ask him more about his early days and building up the relationships with other creators.  I'd try to get him away from the stock answers about how he came up with the idea for Spider-Man.

If you had to live the rest of your life inside a comic book or comic strip, which comic book or comic strip would it be?
  • Well it certainly would NOT be a super-hero comic or The Walking Dead, as much fun as those are to read.  Being a civilian in any comic that's really exciting to read would pretty much suck :-) I think I'd pick Archie.  Riverdale is a pretty idyllic place (as long as I didn't get stuck in the "Afterlife with Archie" version).

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what song would you sing?

  • Would this fantasy involve me actually being able to sing on key?  (I normally sound horrible). I'll go with "I Love LA" by Randy Newman, because I do, and I've actually been rollin' down Imperial Highway with a big nasty redhead at my side...

If you had to pick just one item of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would that food be, and why?

  • Chili. It's my favorite food and you can prepare it a number of ways as long as you don't throw beans into it, which (just in my own personal book) are a crime against chili of the highest order ;-)

Which comic book character do you think has been the most criminally undervalued, and should get their own title, immediately?

  • Uncle Scrooge.  The richest Duck in the world and a self-made man.  He built up his fortune from nothing by his own hard work and guile.  An adventurer of the highest order.  Handled by the right creators, he has starred in some of my favorite comics of all time and I'd love to see a new master creator step up and take the character to new heights.  It can be done,  Don Rosa is widely acknowledged as being a worthy successor to Carl Barks, so there has to be someone out there who can take the character to new heights in the post-Rosa era.

If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?

  • Ben McKenzie (Jim Gordon on Gotham) Hey, let's cast someone way better looking than me, we'd want people to go see this alleged movie, right?

If you had a sports team, what would you name it?

  • "Let's Read a Book"  (Sorry, I'm not a sports fan......)

After the Zombie Apocalypse happens, what attributes would make you a valuable member to a survival group?

  • I would be totally screwed in a zombie apocalypse based on my physical abilities.  I'd have to fall back on organizational and strategy skills.

If you could choose any two cartoon or comic characters, to be your parents, whom would you choose?

  • Thomas & Martha Wayne --> Wayne Foundation $$$, come to Poppa!!!

***********
I would like to thank Bob Bretall for taking part in The 11 Question Interview. A great collector and a great person. I will be back soon with a brand new 11 Question Interview and a brand new 11 Question Interviewee. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. I'll close out with Bob's official Guinness Book of World Records photo.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: The Comet known Simply as 67-P

This week's Heavenly Body is the rather boringly named comet, known simply as 67-P. Seriously NASA, I know you can come up with better names than this. Howzabout Comet Sinister or Grey Gardens, or maybe just Bob. Anyhoo, I guess, for now, 67-P it is. But the reason good ole 67-P is our Heavenly Body of the Week, is that NASA landed a probe on the bitch. That's right, we landed a spacecraft onto a speeding comet. Cool. Cool cool cool. Oh, and in case you wanted to get an idea of the size of our buddy 67-P, here is a handy pic of the comet, as if it sat in downtown Manhattan.


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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Some Supposedly Annoying Stuff That I Actually Like

Yeah, many might call the people and things spoken of in this post, a bit on the annoying side. Hell, some might call them downright annoying as all get out. And yes, these folks might just be right in their assessment (sometimes), but hey, I like 'em, and I'm not about to apologize for it! So, without further ado, let's get to these aforementioned so-called annoyances. Huzzah!

All About That Bass - Yes, this is one of these Macarena, Barbie Girl, Don't Worry Be Happy kinda songs. The ones that get stuck in your head, whether ya like 'em or not. But ya know what? This one doesn't get on my nerves like it does many others. First of all, from a musical standpoint, it is high and mighty over most of the pop music of today. Taking from the girl group sounds of the 1960's (a sort of poppy, lesser Amy Winehouse), Meghan Trainor's number one hit single, and matching pink-hued hit video, is not only musically fun, it is also an anthem of sorts, to the idea of positive body image. With lines like "I see the magazines workin' that photoshop. We know that shit ain't real" and "You know I won't be no stick figure silicone Barbie Doll" and "'Cause every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top," the song is actually a good message to young girls who see such ridiculous standards of the perfect body in movies and TV and magazines. I must admit that I am not much of  a fan of Trainor's other songs (at least the ones I've listened to), but this one has a beat I can get into, even without the positive message. So whether or not you thing this seemingly overplayed hit song is annoying, you gotta realize that it is indeed, all about that bass. Now shake it like you're supposed to do.

Shia LaBeouf - Yeah, he was a Disney star, but so was Ryan Gosling. Yeah, he did all those Transformers movies, and that is never a good thing. And yes, his recent (as in the past year and a half or so) antics may even top the previous two things in their inherent annoyance levels, but hey, I think the guy's kinda fun. Putting aside that LaBeouf is actually a talented actor who hasn't gotten the recognition he deserves (check out Lawless, Nymphomaniac, and Fury) due to some hilariously bad acting choices (did I mention those Transformers movies yet?) I enjoy the guy for his aforementioned recent antics alone. Trying to channel Joaquin Phoenix and his meta-derived breakdown a few years back (and there's another good candidate for this post, but his acting prowess washes all the crazy away), Shia has gone seemingly batshitcrazy for the folks watching at home. Yes, it probably is mostly an act, like Phoenix, but some of his obvious mental derangements may be a real life thing, and the guy just decided to go for broke with his already happening possible breakdown. From wearing the bag over his head to his snarky tweets aimed at other celebs to his performance art installations, it's been a long (well, not that long) strange trip indeed. And not to mock real mental illness (he may not be faking...maybe) but I really have enjoyed Shia's antics. So much so, that I have even set up a Facebook page commemorating the actor's performance piece. Said page can be found at S.L.A.P.: The Shia LaBeouf Appreciation Party page. 'nuff said. Moving on...

2 Broke Girls - In today's TV world, some may even say the New Golden Age of Television, the old school, multi-camera situation comedy is thought to be a lesser form of entertainment than the hipper, and admittedly often wittier, single camera comedies around. In other words, shows like Modern Family and Veep are better (and cooler!!) than shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Granted, this may be true (besides, most shows are better than Two and a Half Men), but that doesn't stop a show like the quite silly (and not really all that hip or cool, no matter what it thinks) 2 Broke Girls, from becoming what one might call my guilty pleasure TV show. Now, I don't necessarily believe in the idea of guilty pleasures. If I like something, no matter how hated it is by others, I am not about to feel guilt over such a thing. I like it, get over it. So, I suppose that means 2 Broke Girls is my guiltless guilty pleasure. Reminiscent of those long gone old school cheesy Three's Company-esque sitcoms of the 1970's and 1980's, but with a more freely sexual attitude (ya know, censors change and all), 2 Broke Girls may very well be a stupid, poorly written piece of garbage in some people's minds, and on some level they may be right (its constant barrage of jokes and one-liners are nothing more than mere retreads from other shows - jokes and one-liners you can see coming so much that you can pretty much say the lines with the characters), but I enjoy the hell of the stupid thing. Plus it has Kat Dennings at her bitchy, snarky best. Gotta love sarcastic bitches! I know I do. And no, that was not meant as an insult, but instead as a compliment. Get over it. I think Dennings would be fine with that descriptive. Huzzah to 2 Broke Girls!!

Carl Grimes - Granted, in season one, and throughout most of season two, Carl was a huge pain in the ass to pretty much everyone else spending the opening weeks and months of the Zombie (don't use that word!) Apocalypse with him, not least of all, his suffering (and insufferable) mother. I mean really, the damn kid wandered off all the freakin' time. It's a fucking Zombie Apocalypse people, keep a better eye on your child!! And yes, these stupid wandering off antics ended up getting Dale killed. Fuckin' little brat! but then something happened in season three. Suddenly Carl was no longer the bratty kid wandering off, but an integral part of the group's walker-killing strike force team. Hell, he became such a badass that he even went above and beyond the call of duty, killing the living as well as the dead. Yeah, he's no Daryl or Carol, but the kid has gone from annoyance to asskicker, which means I now like Carl Grimes. He reads comic books, hangs with "big sis" Michonne, eats as much damn pudding as he damn well pleases, and all while kicking major walker ass. Hey, and he had to kill his mother too. He even tried a few playah moves on Beth. You go Carl, you go boy. And this is just the TV Carl. In the comics he is even more badass. He kills Shane (and not just after he turns, like on the show) and he even loses an eye, and as everyone knows, eyepatches rock!! - well, at least in fantasy. So there ya go, all my reasons for liking the once annoying as hell brat known as Carl Grimes.

Yoko Ono - And now for the big showstopper!! Yeah yeah, I know. many claim that it was Yoko who broke up The Beatles. Really!? Really!?? My lovely wife has a theory that the day John Lennon had to put his name to Ob La Di Ob La Da, was the true beginning of the end of The Beatles. I prefer my wife's explanation to anyone thinking Yoko split up The Beatles. It just seems more reasonable. John loved her and so do I. She is a very unique artist and a talented songwriter. Okay, perhaps her singing isn't up there with Judy or Babs (yeah, that's right...and I'm straight too) but I like that too. The lady has a punk aesthetic. She always has, and even now, at the tender age of 81, she's still got it. From the bed-ins to The Plastic Ono Band to the Two Virgins photo shoot to Grapefruit and her experimental films to Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Yoko rocks, and always has!! My wife and I occasionally play on pub trivia teams, and we are always named John & Yoko. And we are kinda hated, because we almost always win, but I digress. So many people hate Yoko. I mean really really hate hate hate the lady. I just don't get it. I for one would love love love to hang out with Yoko Ono. Hell, you'd be an idiot to not want to hang out with Yoko Ono. So there!

I'm sure there are many other people, places, and/or things with which other people are greatly annoyed while I like and/or love 'em, but I think we'll going to cut me off right here. Ya can't top Yoko!Maybe I'll do another post like this and include things like the movie Ishtar or the acting prowess of Nic Cage or the joke, my favourite joke (and voted worst joke evah!): What's brown and sticky? A stick!! Who knows? That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Film Review: Christopher Nolan's Interstellar

Christopher Nolan, at times, has tried to be Lang and Welles, Leone and Hitchcock, all with varying degrees of success. Now he takes a stab at being Tarkovsky or Kubrick or Spielberg, or whomever he is trying to be in Interstellar, and in this endeavor, the director fails oh so miserably. Nolan claims to be inspired by Spielberg, saying he wants to recreate the magic of Close Encounters, and is obviously channeling something from Kubrick's 2001, but really, if one were to compare this film to those of the past, this is Nolan's Solaris. Both films begin with their respective cameras eying up an Earth bound country home. Both films have a man leaving loved ones behind (in both films, an old man and a little girl) to travel into space. Both films show a tortured soul watching videos from home. Both films show what could be hallucinations or actual time-warped events. Both films show the vast emptiness, and loneliness of space. But still, no matter his skill as a filmmaker, and Nolan has made some pretty good films in his time, Interstellar comes nowhere close to the depths of Tarkovsky's classic film. But enough about the comparisons, and rather obvious ones at that, to other films, how exactly does Interstellar stack up on its own terms?

Interstellar is Nolan's ninth feature as a director. The British born auteur has given us some early, visceral indie projects (The Following and Memento) and some intriguing Hollywood fare (The Prestige and his remake of Insomnia, a film no better or worse than the original) but the guy is most known for his Dark Knight Trilogy and the highly over-praised Inception. Now along comes Interstellar, a film that gives Nolan a hat trick for disappointing this critic. Yes, the director has some intriguing ideas up his proverbial sleeve, but lately these intriguing ideas have fallen flat as can be. After Inception, a film that pretends to be much more clever than it really is, The Dark Knight Rises, where it seems as if the director (and probably Batman as well) is just going through the so-called motions, and now Interstellar, a film that seems to have no idea where it is even going, one begins to wonder just what they saw in Nolan in the first place. But I digress, as I am edging back toward the comparative notes of earlier. On its own terms, Interstellar has the aforementioned intriguing ideas in veritable spades, it just doesn't know what to do with such ideas. much like in Inception, we are given a repetitive series of explanations as to just what is going on...and on...and on. Yes, we get it. The Earth is dying and we need to find a new home in a new galaxy. Sure, there are some real pretty special effects happening here, but must you explain how relativity works with every chance you get? I think once might be enough. Can't you just tell a story, and leave it at that? The film could have been shortened by twenty minutes if you took out all the time the characters stopped to explain things to each other. And then we have that damn Dylan Thomas quote that we keep hearing repeated, just in case we missed it the first few times. But now I am ranting, so I digress one final time.

The film stars Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (I love saying that descriptive) as a one-time test pilot turned farmer in the dying days of the planet, who gets mysterious, possibly other-worldly messages leading him to the hidden stronghold of the now desanctioned NASA, whereupon he is immediately enlisted to pilot a spaceship through a wormhole next to Saturn, in order to find an inhabitable planet for the human race to survive. We also get Anne Hathaway (also an Oscar winner), Jessica Chastain (Oscar nominee), Casey Affleck (another Oscar nominee), David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine (another Oscar winner, and this time a two-timer), and a few surprise (read: uncredited) tagalongs (one of which may be yet another Oscar winner). We also get that aforementioned relativity, and how just a few hours on one planet near a black hole will equal 23 years back on Earth. We get a lot of posing and posturing, and oft-times rather ham-handed acting from a group of actors who should be better, much much better. There are a few particularly unwatchable moments from Hathaway, Chastain, and even McConaughey, that make us wonder if these are even the same actors who have done so much better work in other films. And then there is that ending. Not to spoil anything (though the whole film smells a bit spoiled) let's just say that this ending is one of the most ridiculously contrived pieces of cinematic hogwash this critic has seen in some time - and this critic has seen a lot of ridiculously contrived pieces of cinematic hogwash in his day. And I haven't even touched on how Nolan can suck the humanity out of anything he makes now. Maybe another time. So yeah, that's what I think. I am also thinking that I want the old Chris Nolan back. I want the man who made Memento, or even The Dark Knight. I want that guy back. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

 

Friday, November 7, 2014

People Who Need To Be Punched in the Face - Vol. III

So here we go again, punching people in the face. The first two volumes of my People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face posts, were big big hits, so here comes volume three of our rather rude exercise. And please remember that I am not advocating violence, especially violence against women, as many of the players here are women, but rather these are just suggestions of people who need to be punched in the face. If you happen to come across one of these people, and decide to punch them in the face, please remember that you are not doing it because of what I have written here, but because of some inner turmoil in your soul or whatever you have in there. Oh, and as for the women on this list, if you are going to punch them in the face, please make sure you are a woman also. That way, it is a little more evenly balanced out. And one other thing: to all those on this list, if you get punched in the face, no hard feelings, and no sueing of me. You must have done something to warrant your name being added to this list. Personally I have placed myself on each of these lists, sometimes several times in several different guises. I suppose I need to be punched in the face as well. Ain't life grand? Now, let's get on with the show. Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer. Bolierplate boilerplate boilerplate.

People Who Need To Be Punched in the Face
(in no particular order)

Jack Valenti
Butterhead Jones
Lena Dunham
Zima drinkers
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Vance and Coy Duke
Those who do not like tater tots
Kanye West, Self Proclaimed Genius
Rufus Dangerman (again)
Bud Selig
Phil Jackson
Ace, Your Ship's photographer
Elle Driver
Angry Beavers
Mildly Upset Owls
Dr. Zaius
Miners for a heart of gold
Teddy Ruxpin
Snooki and Jwoww
Busta Rhymes
Mia Farrow
Mathletes
Bad Tippers
Marie, but not Donny
Gareth from The Walking Dead
Chang
Buzzkills
The entire cast of Red Band Society
Peyton Manning
eBay snipers
The Scarlet Witch
Meg Griffin
The Diddler in the Trunk
Hitler, and preferably by a Turtle (see end of post)
Pop Culturists
Knuckleheads
Kanoodleheads
Gollum
Michael Cera
Lena Dunham
Mitch McConnell
Bluecollar folks who vote Republican
Fanchette, the Asshole Cat
Nancy Kerrigan
Okay, Donny too
Pimps
Skinny bitches
Tosh.0
Mother pus-buckets
Robber Barons
Biff
Cam Winston
Hipster Superman
A-Rod
Pollsters
Sinestro
Danny McBride
David Evans
Art Vandelay
People who listen to Blink-182
That guy at the mall
The Sun from those Jimmy Dean commercials
Douches who don't like Bill Murray
Monday morning quarterbacks
Wayne from The Wonder Years
Tom Dooley
Alan Smithee
Alan Smithee, Jr.
All Squirrels
Anyone making their employees work on Thanksgiving
People who eat at Papa John's
Papa John
Thin Lizzy
John Q. Public
Jackson Kelly
People who bring a baby to a movie
Open carry advocates
People who think all Muslims are terrorists
The ghost of Jack Ruby
The ghost of Tom Joad
Casper the Ghost
Uncles-in-law
Frank Burns
Chuck Griffith
People who don't respect Chico Marx
King Trident, Maniacal Master of the 7 1/2 Seas
1 of the 2 Broke Girls
People who call Michelle Obama fat
Pippa Middleton
Anyone named Pippa
Zuky, ya smug bitch
People who don't like Christmas
Lloyd & Harry
Racists
Steff McKee
Peeta Mellark
Conan, the Barbarian, not Coco
Arthur Spooner
Jim Nantz
The NBA
La-La, but not Lu-Lu
Kevin Spacey, but in a loving way
Supermarket DJ's
Wang Chung
Chris Christie
The Wife of Bath
Jack-O-Lanterns, on November 1st
Grumpy Cat
Todd Akin (R-MO)
Clayton Williams (R-TX)
Richard Mourdock (R-IN)
Lawrence Lockman (R-ME)
Jodie Laubenberg (R-TX)
Ass Hats
Dennis at work
Ben Stein
Peter Piper
Oswald Cobblepot
Bloggers who make stupid lists

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Keep your feet on the ground and keep punching for the stars.