Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Something To Look Forward To During The Dark Days Ahead

I knew you'd want to know. I'll be reposting two previous essays about Lost in Space starting September 12 and then adding two ones on the 14th and on the 50th anniversary itself.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Top Five List Inspired By Chris Rock's Top Five

Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Tired of churning out crowd-pleasing comedies such as Ants in Your Plants of 1939, director John Sullivan (Joel McCrea) vows to make an important movie about economic injustice and class struggle. Unfortunately for him, his only brush with poverty is the first of every month when he mails an alimony check to his ex-wife. So he and a down-on-her-luck Veronica Lake set off on a cross-country adventure to learn what's-what. The result is the best comedy of Preston Sturges's illustrious career.

"What do they know in Pittsburgh?"

"They know what they like."

"If they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh."

Everyone is ready for Guido (Marcello Mastroanni) to direct another hit movie — the cast, the crew, the press, the studio, his wife, his mistress, his other mistress. Everyone except Guido, that is. He thinks and thinks, and hasn't got an idea left in his overstuffed head. My favorite Fellini film, chock full of those crazy visuals (a man floating through the sky like a balloon, anyone?) that make Fellini so much nutty fun.

"I don't understand. He meets a girl that can give him a new life and he pushes her away?"

"Because he no longer believes in it."

"Because he doesn't know how to love."

"Because it isn't true that a woman can change a man."

"Because he doesn't know how to love."

"And above all because I don't feel like telling another pile of lies."

"Because he doesn't know how to love."

Stardust Memories (1980)
By 1980, Woody Allen was sick of making funny movies, sick of a public that only liked funny movies, and above all, sick of a universe that only makes sense as the punchline of some sort of decidedly-unfunny, existential joke — so, of course, he made a comedy about it. The critics blasted Stardust Memories in its initial release but its stature has grown over the years. Or anyway, I like it, which is all that really counts, right?

"But shouldn't I stop making movies and do something that counts, like-like helping blind people or becoming a missionary or something?"

"Let me tell you, you're not the missionary type. You'd never last. And-and incidentally, you're also not Superman; you're a comedian. You want to do mankind a real service? Tell funnier jokes."

The Simpsons "Krusty Gets Busted" (Season One, Episode 12) (1990)
Laughs are all well and good but what about poetry, what about literature, what about not getting another pie thrown in your face? Sideshow Bob (the voice of Kelsey Grammer) is fed up and he frames his boss Krusty the Clown, takes over the show and talks to the kids about feelings and philosophy and crap like that. Probably the best episode of The Simpsons first season, way back when the show was actually funny.

"Yes I admit it, I hated him. His hackneyed shenanigans robbed me of my dignity for years. I played the buffoon, while he squandered a fortune on his vulgar appetites. That's why I framed Krusty. I would've gotten away with it too if it weren't for these meddling kids."

"Take him away boys."

"Treat kids like equals, they're people too. They're smarter than what you think! They were smart enough to catch me!"

Top Five (2014)
Comedian Andre Allen (Chris Rock) doesn't feel funny anymore, and who can blame him — his movie's a flop, his love life is a TV show, his relatives have their hands out, and his fans just want him to put the bear costume back on. But, hey, at least his day can't get any worse. Right? Raunchy, hilarious and a pretty biting send-up of modern culture, Top Five was last year's most overlooked comedy.

"You coming to the party right?"

"Some people got to work. I'll tell you what — I'll come to your next bachelor party."

"That's not funny, man."

"Tell me somethin' — your next wife, she gonna be white or she gonna be Asian?"

"It's still not funny, man."

"Oh, it's only funny when you say mean shit. Right?"

"Who was that?"

"My father."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Brother, And The Best Concert You Ever Saw

Today is my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, brother.

That's him on the left, me on the right. The father of our country, George, is in the middle.

My brother's birthday always makes me think of the conversational gambit, What's the best concert you ever saw? I've seen the Who, Paul McCartney, the Sex Pistols, my good friend Mister Muleboy. Others have seen Bruce Springsteen, Elton John in his prime, or even, I suppose, Taylor Swift.

My brother? He saw the Beatles.

Talk about conversation stoppers. Frankly, I don't care who you've seen, unless you were serving hors d'oeuvres at the Last Supper, you're competing for second place.

He saw them fifty years ago today, no less, on his nineteenth birthday. What a birthday. And the internet being what it is, here's the audio of that concert. Have a listen.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Oscar Re-Do Blogathon: 1933

Matt St. Clair over at Film Guy Reviews is hosting the Oscar Re-Do Blogathon this month. I just happened to find out about it and although I haven't been blogging lately (writing, yes; blogging, no), I thought I'd promote Matt's blog with a little alternate Oscar madness of my own.

I've said it before (here) but I'll say it again, the Academy has screwed up a lot of years but none more so than 1933. Top to bottom, they made a mess of it. Let's fix it.

So, 10 best picture nominees that were initially released in their country of origin in the calendar year 1933. My poll, my nominees. I could easily have picked ten others — it was that good a year.

Have at it.