Sunday, September 25, 2011

Auteur Watch - Robert, Thomas and Charles McKimson

Let's face it, folks. This damn internet's just bottlenecking the way we think about things. Example: ... When I say the word "Example" by itself, chances are you're probably going to think about the opening sequence in Pulp Fiction with Jules and Vincent where they're discussing world fast food cuisine. Another example: when one thinks of the great Looney Tunes directors, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones are currently neck and neck for first place. Everyone else is a distant second... Damn! Forgot Tex Avery! See what I mean? Okay... personally, I put Clampett and Avery in first place, with Jones a close second. I prefer my cartoons wacky and elastic, what can I say? Jones is far too intellectual for my taste, but he of course has his moments, and his share of the golden eternal Looney Tunes greats. As for all the rest, well, they're a distant third. Take the McKimsons, for example. They've done their share of great works... haven't they?? Of the three, Thomas is clearly the omega brother in terms of industry work. He started out early in the biz, but gave up after Mexican Joyride... and after working for Art Davis, who can blame him? The attitude I've copped about Arthur Davis is still with me, I'm afraid, at least in terms of Warner Bros. cartoons. Catch as Cats Can, for example, gives cartoon violence a bad name. Charles started in the biz a little later than Thomas, but stuck around a bit longer to make a name for himself. Robert was apparently the lone director of the triad and, judging from the dates each threw off this mortal coil, animation directing takes a harder toll than the actual animation itself. And this was the early days of the craft! All those lead-based paints used in unventilated rooms... I can only assume, anyway. Daffy Doodles, a McKimson joint, is still one of my favorite Daffy cartoons. Great ending. But I will confess that Easter Yeggs also gives a black eye to cartoon violence. When Elmer Fudd, with his bald head painted to look like a giant easter egg, gets his head repeatedly hit with a hammer... well, at my age I can't help but cringe. The McKimsons, if they didn't create Foghorn Leghorn, seemed to prefer doing Leghorn shorts. And they also did Rabbit's Kin, a rare cartoon that was actually recommended to ME. I'm usually the one who does the recommending and the re-enacting of these damn cartoons. Another classic, but it took the Tiny Toons to give Pete Puma another job.
Sadly, Bob hung on as long as he could through the '60s, when the Looney Tunes began their slow decline and eventual disappearance from theaters, and he finally buckled and switched over to do some Pink Panther cartoons. I guess he got on pretty well with ol' Friz, another name not held in as high of an esteem as Clampett and Jones. Hmm! I wonder if my blog's been hacked yet. I seem to be getting an unusually high number of 'blank.gif' messages into my text. Damn hyperlinks. And with that, I guess I'm done! Hang in there, McKimsons, and you'll eventually get the credit you deserve. A toast to the greatest trio of brothers to work in the Looney Tunes, damn it!

The Lion is King again!!!

Might as well use the same image. Ooh! Let's see if the code works... Code beautiful, as the Hulk might say, and as the computer nerd's magazine should be named. Or maybe they should go the other way, and change the name of Dr. Dobb's Journal to 0000001 Magazine. Something like that. Anyway, once again the hottest new movie of the week is 90s nostalgia. And the Cable Ace Award for Best New Series goes to... old Starsky and Hutches. (Accepting this award is the son of the guy who played Huggy Bear!) A DOUBLE dose of Simpsons and 90s nostalgia for ya. Of course, as much as I love the Simpsons, even I had to take exception to Homer inventing grunge. And I don't even care for grunge all that much! I know, it's not cool to call it grunge. Unfair to garage bands everywhere. I wanna keep it short this week, even though we've got four debuts again. The latest Brad Pitt vehicle debuts behind Lion King, the sequel to Shark Tale opens at #3, and at #4 is the not-soon-enough sequel to Taken called Abduction. Let's face it: Team Jacob's a bunch of cheapskates. Finally, we have Statham's Fall 2011 remake of The Mechanic called Killer Elite. Now De Niro's the... lemme see if I can find it. Got it! Now De Niro's the Jean-Pierre, mentoring the young generation that all the old fogies so desperately want to rejoin. Take Kirk Douglas at the Oscars, fer instance...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jay O. Sanders: Alpha Male

Of course, there are alpha males to spare in director Martin Campbell's Edge of Darkness, based on a miniseries he apparently directed 25 years earlier. Well, nuclear was more of a rage back then, as it seemed we'd never be rid of it. Now it seems it will never stop diversifying. I will say off the top that this shortened, theatrical remake is surprisingly restrained compared to, say, Campbell's Bond pics and Zorro pics. But there does seem to be a nod to Bond when the main guy finds himself handcuffed to a gurney, and there does seem to be a nod to the ending of Braveheart before Braveheart gets killed on the chopping block. But I'll try not to give too much away, in plot terms.
While Mel Gibson's public persona is still in the crapper, his on-screen persona's doing pretty good, and here he plays a good guy with a strong moral compass, but he doesn't get to do his trademark Lethal Weapon running. It kinda got old after Ransom, but maybe that's just me. Maybe for his next movie he can do a road pic with Lindsay Lohan and call it a day. Two wrongs make a right?
Mel at least surrounds himself with top-notch actor types, with Danny Huston as the smarmy CEO of a shady company, and Ray Winstone as the token British guy with a high-ranking low-profile job in the American NSA... how'd that happen, egg-zactly? Don't think about it too much. Come to think of it, there's a lot here not to think about too much. For one, Mel plays a single dad with a twenty-something daughter. Where's her momma at? I told you this film was full of alpha males. Also, there's this girl that Mel talks to about the evil Halliburton-type corporation in the movie, and she ends up getting hurt when she steps out of his car... Was I the only one that thought the timing on that was a little too neat? Probably. I will say that I was surprised by Ray Winstone's end in the film. Doesn't happen often enough as far as I'm concerned, but I guess we don't have a lot of senators involved in the real shady stuff. But every film now is apparently going to be obsessed with death, and the need for a short list of rules to live your life by. I go with Monty Python's list at the end of "The Meaning of Life:" Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book now and then, get some walking in, and try and live in peace and harmony with all peoples and nations... something like that. Of course, no matter how old the likes of Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford get, they can still kick any young person's ass. Must be all that yoga they're doing.

Good double bill with: State of Play, another film based on a British mini-series, and starring a hunky Aussie leading man

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Sunday, September 18, 2011

America Needs RootinTootin

Finally! One I'm sorta familiar with, even though I ain't seen it in years. The Stooges appeal to the kids generally, but their plots don't usually reflect it. This one does more so than others. Gotta keep it short this week, so I'll try to stick with the fundamentals... let's see how well I do.

The Egyptian Room of ye local Museum of Ancient History is missing the body of King RootinTootin. Well, gotta get the kids interested in Egyptology somehow. Comedy names are as good a place to start as any. Enter those two titans of the Stooge rolling stock company: grand elocutor James C. Morton and Lou Dobbs-lookalike Bud C. Jamison. Anyway, these two knuckleheads have gone and lost an important professor, so they send for three more knuckleheads to find him. You almost have the Raiders of the Lost Ark plot, but somehow not the production values. There's a card game joke, and Moe makes sure the joke is terribly over-explained. (i.e., 3:03 here) Bud and Morton decide to put the Stooges to work on their mission of great danger. "If the curse gets them, it'll be a blessing to humanity." Good thing the Stooges have bad hearing and couldn't hear the whispers. But of course, economic incentives trump all, and $5,000 was a hella lot of money back then. Today it's a nice down payment on a gallon of gas.

Act Two comes early! The boys hitch a cab ride to Egypt. If your child isn't thunderstruck by this, well... kids are a hella lot more cynical these days. Moe comes on over the cab radio. Curly gets in some good Egypt-related puns, but what's his reward? The usual physical abuse, of course. The part to pad out the film: Curly goes "swimming" in some "water." This leads to an extremely blatant plot device, but never mind. At least they got out of paying the cab fare. The boys find themselves in RootinTootin's tomb. At least, that's what the helpful sinister voice says. They do some cardio, then slow it down a bit when Moe elects Curly the new leader. The blind leading the blind. The boys end up separated, Curly runs afoul of his own echo, then stumbles into a secret mummy room. Henry Silva plays the mummy that gets poked in the eyes by Curly.

The act dividing lines get a little fuzzy between acts two and three, but the Stooges stumble headlong into another secret mummy room. Moe sees a mummy on a big table in the middle of the room, and declares they've found RootinTootin. Curly notes that the "place" is full of RootinTootins. We see the sinister eyes behind the wall again. Curly is put in charge of taking care of the RootinTootin on the table. Well, he does about as well as Bill Paxton with the safe in Titanic, I would say. And then, we get the subplot. The boys overhear the kidnapped professor, and the second claim on the reward money. Just go with it. Somehow, this wasn't enough to end the film, so an "Egyptian" crocodile enters the picture. It gets a hold of Curly, and Curly makes as loud an anguish noise as I've ever heard. All in all, a fine Stooge pic. One of the greats. Why I don't have it on DVD I'll never know. Well, it is a tight economy these days. I've got plenty of copies of Disorder in the Court, that's for sure. God bless YouTube!

Wikipedia entry for We Want Our Mummy

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Mary and Kevin McCarthy

Yeah, I'm just blatantly padding this out now. Neither one of these two were directors... but I did just find out that Kevin worked on many an occasion with director Joe Dante, and Mary got one of her books turned into a movie by Sidney Lumet, so you know they were hanging with the right people. They went from being the toast of the West Coast (Seattle) to being the toast of the East Coast! Kevin died in Massachusetts, so I guess he'd had enough of the Emerald City for one lifetime. What does it say about a man who's been in 100 films, and yet has his résumé shrunk down to four, one of which was his dynamic performance in UHF? Funny how that works. Kevin appeared in many a Dante pic, but never quite like Innerspace. That must've been a fun time. God rest both your souls, and now that you're both in Heaven, try and work on a project together, for all our sakes!!!

Hey! Remember the 90s?

No, my increasingly fatigued eyes aren't deceiving me, but I did have to double check Variety, just in case. It's not often I need a second box office opinion, but IMDb's been getting kinda flaky lately with all these movies that have the same title bombarding the Top 10. Good strategy, incidentally! Yes, one of the tewnty biggest box office hits of 1994 is just as potent today. The Lion King. Somehow, this has got to be Obama's fault. At #3, Drive debuts strong. Somehow, I can't help but think that Breaking Bad's got something to do with it. I heard they have a teaser clip of the 5th season. I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG!!! To continue the car theme, Breaking Bad's kinda doing donuts right now... but tonight's episode was pretty exciting. Nyaah, nyaah, gotta see it for yourself. A remake of Straw Dogs debuts higher than I thought at #5. Well, who among us doesn't want to see Kate Bosworth get raped on screen? ... they kept that part in, right? The location was switched from somewhere across the pond to the (American) South, without much loss of continuity. The Dustin Hoffman character is now a screenwriter, so this must've been based on a not-as-bad experience that director Rod Lurie had... I'm thinking it happened in the checkout line at Whole Foods. Close enough. But get back to the movies and TV shows about American presidents, okay, Rod? You're not going to re-remake Walking Tall next, I hope and trust? The final debut this week is Sarah Jessica Parker's latest movie called Tyler Perry's I Don't Know How She Does It... I may be wrong about Madea's involvement, I'm not sure. All I know is that they'll need to find a new title for Sex and the City 3. I'm outta here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Time for Curly to get a spring on his ass again...

Republic of Televania... the very idea. Welp, Three Little Sew and Sews finds the boys as tailors, employed by the Navy this time, apparently. And once again, they must play second fiddle to the main story. But having to play second fiddle to the likes of James C. Morton, the third greatest thing to come out of Montana and find its way to Hollywood... the other two being Dana Carvey and David Lynch, of course... there's probably others I'm forgetting, of course. Sure are plenty going the other way, even now, no? Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, all sorts of Hollywood phonies getting their slice of the Montana pie. Gotta love them huckleberries! Anyway, this Admiral fella gets an invitation to a fancy luncheon. The Admiral's name is... wait for it........ Taylor! Coincidence? I hope so.

We find the boys in a terribly disgruntled state. I've never seen Moe do an impression of Curly! Or have I? Must've happened at least once. The boys are trying to leave early for the weekend, when the big assignment comes down: press the Admiral's suit so he can get to that damn luncheon. Meanwhile, Curly becomes a blatant opportunist after finding the invitation letter in the jacket pocket. He puts on the uniform, gets Moe and Larry thrown in the brig for striking an "officer," then rubs it in... until he gets caught, by Admiral Taylor no less! Curly manages to get away from Taylor's clutches, get Moe and Larry released, and off to the party they go.

Scene: Count Gehrol's party. Curly works fast and sits on a couch with a lady spy whose attempts to massage info out of Curly have to be intensified due to the film's short running time. Moe and Larry try to impress a couple chicks the only way they know how: showing off their tattoos, of course! Some interesting dubbing from 7:10 to 7:15 in the aforementioned YouTube link. Curly also uses his normal voice throughout the proceedings, most notably in the brig where Moe and Larry were locked up.
Dude! Curly's pitching some SERIOUS woo! So much so that Vernon Dent gets rubbed the wrong way by it. Offended, even! Well, he was a Christian Scientist, apparently... then again, maybe not. Curly's attempts to plead ignorant, and the dame's attempts to squeeze information... where does it all end? Anyway, one thing leads to another, and Curly's attempts to score backfire. Cue the spring. Cue the struggle to escape the gravity of the couch. Vernon Dent cracks up. Curly tells him "You're getting in my hair!", which he'll tell Vernon in a similar situation in An Ache in Every Stake, if I remember correctly. Enter the REAL Admiral Taylor... SPOILER ALERT. Watch it yourself now! Okay, you asked for it! Bud Jamison as the cop guarding the Count's party, is all too eager to eject James C. Morton from the party, save for one last test: the real Admiral Taylor will ask the Stooges if they will admit that they're impostors and that the real Admiral Taylor is the real Admiral Taylor. The charade continues. James C. Morton is ejected, the Stooges plan the escape from the Navy, and the Count, a spy, proceeds to work his magic vis-a-vis that dame again. The Stooges take her to a submarine... something like that. They leave the party, but not before Larry and Curly engage in some petty larceny of some bakery goods. Larry's not usually one to steal cake, but desperate times call for desperate desserts!.... something like that.

Oh, it turns into a big action climax! I simply can't give you the blow-by-blow for fear of ruining it. They at least don't resort to the old two-guys-in-one-coat fight scene strategy which you'll see several times if you're a Stooge film addict like me. But we do see the depth gauge, apparently designed by the Moore Shipbuilding Company, showing that the sub hits the ocean floor. Curly practices for when they run out of air. Well, a man's got to know his limitations, and seeing as how the Stooges probably don't know how to drive a sub... and then the dramatic tension is cranked up another couple notches. The orders are now to destroy the sub at all costs. "That is all," says the voice. Says Moe, "That is all? Ain't that enough?" The boys get busy turning wheels, spinning dials, anything to end this damn movie!!! And then, through a miracle, the sub rises back into the water and starts moving. Curly starts n'yuk n'yuk-ing out of sheer joie de vivre, closes his eyes, turns a certain knob, them BLAM!!! A blast of water right in the face. I don't think he was quite prepared for the sheer magnitude of the blast. Good lord. He would've been better off getting poked in the eyes. It happens at 5:26 here. Okay, I gotta try and wrap this up now. Three more minutes to go!!! know what? Why should I suffer alone? A classic. Four stars.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - David and Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Where to begin, where to begin... I forget where I saw the quote now; isn't the Cloud wonderful? The World Wide series of tubes? It's out there, though, and perhaps none better than Jennifer Chambers Lynch expresses the ennui of the nepotist working class in Hollywood, saying that she's happy to be getting back to work again. Oh, the Proles, how funny they are.
But let's get back to that conclave of icons, the late 70s, early 80s, when David Lynch paved the way for the tearing down of the American edifice upon which our preconceived notions once hung. It all started with Eraserhead, Lynch's take on parenting. The deformed, cackling child becomes father of the tall man. Then, on to bigger, more prestigious black and white projects with The Elephant Man... did you know that Demme wanted Hannibal Lecter to be the evil version of the doctor in The Elephant Man? Kewl! But just when Hollywood opened its doors to David Lynch, giving him the chance to direct Return of the Jedi, he said no thanks. What, is he crazy? Short answer: yes. Case in point: Wild at Heart, or the film shown to Alex during his eyedrop treatment. The stage was now set for Pulp Fiction to win the Palme D'Or. Crazy French!!
And of course it was about this time that Boxing Helena came out, amid much anti-fanfare. Well, a chick like Helena you apparently don't cut up all at once. And with that, the daughter is relegated once again to the shadows as the father reaches critical acclaim with such projects as Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive. Well, one does have to hand it to Twin Peaks: at least they knew when to quit. Breaking Bad, not so much. All I'm saying is: something big better happen soon, if only because the entire cast is now getting too much movie work! And so, after almost 20 years, the next generation of Lynches is ready to be the new generation of iconoclast. I haven't been able to figure how good Surveillance did amongst the critics, but judging from the projects on her plate, it musta did something. She must've come in under budget and not been too much of a bitch on set. Bronwen Hughes could learn a thing or two from Lynch's sterling example!

Monday, September 12, 2011

We will never forget

It's a tragic week for all Americans, and really, for all peoples all over the world... I'm referring of course to the poor box office performance of Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. All that lost money. Truly, the terrorists have won anew. Doesn't anyone understand? They hate us for our freedoms! The freedom to go to the cinema and contemplate the comic space that Nick Swardson's genitalia occupy! The space close to it, the space a slightly farther distance away. What part of "patriotic duty" don't you ungrateful bastards understand?
But every dark cloud has a silver lining, even on this sad chapter in Happy Madison history. A movie FINALLY edged The Help out of the #1 spot. Yes, the Godless Heathens of Hollywood put their best and brightest forward with a nice, good ol' fashioned schlocky horror flic, the kind Robert Wise used to make, and it's called Contagion, the story of a non-anthrax germ that conquers the known world, doing a better job than... well, than Bucky Larson, frankly! The other debut this week is Warrior, and not the 2002 Warrior like those jokers over at the IMDb mistakenly thought was #3. No, it's the latest entry in the Fighting/Girlfight/Fast and Furious without cars genre for the high school grad set. But let's get back to this whole Bucky Larson thing. According to Variety... yes, THAT Variety, B.Lar was going to hit paydirt among the 25 year old demographic. For those of you who don't yet know, Bucky Larson is the story of a guy named Bucky Larson who follows in his parents' footsteps and becomes a porn star. Turns out the 25-year olds out there apparently would rather just watch porn instead. Okay, I better leave it at that.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Be-vare, take care.... Be-vare... VAIT! PULL DE STRING! PULL DE STRING!

Sorry, that's the only pun I could think of. Can't spend the usual amount of time or energy on this week's Stooge film, and perhaps that's the appropriate response. A film like this, why... you just should sit back and enjoy it on your own terms! Charley Chase strikes again as Stooge director with Flat Foot Stooges, but it's the second to last one. Saved by the Belle's the last one. I didn't remember the title, but I did remember that it was full of earthquakes. Looked pretty good, too! Damaged buildings, not just the shaky camera. Anyway, back to this one. This is another one where the Stooges play firemen. It doesn't seem to be terribly clever, as Chase was usually wont to do, unless one considers where the fire takes place. Was it original, though? Who knows...
As for the cast, the dude who harassed the Stooges in The Great War appears here as a fire station boss. Dick Curtis and Chester Conklin, on the other hand, they're clearly slumming. I think this is the first Stooge short that Curtis is in, maybe Conklin. But seeing as how Curtis appeared in Capra's You Can't Take It With You, and Conklin worked with Chaplin so much, well... guess the Stooges were the paying jobs, who knows. They can't all be labours of love; otherwise, one can't eat! Anyway, like all classy films, the Stooges deals with a turning point in history. In this case, when the horse-drawn fire engine was being replaced by gas-powered ones. Surely the gas-powered ones had almost total market share by this point? And W.C. Fields and others made comic hay out of that damn ladder! The urgency of getting to a fire combined with the need to hang off of that ladder as it hangs over the side, right in the way of oncoming traffic. Well, spoiler alert: none of those kinds of shenanigans here, but shenanigans nonetheless. For starters, Curly's come up with a new invention. Yes, even Curly has ideas for inventions, just no startup capital to bring it to greater fruition. One just has to find the right string to pull... (from the film)
As the Stooges don't tend to set the plot in motion, enter the villain: a dude wanting to sell the old man a new-fangled fire engine. Capitalism at its finest. After getting caught taking matters into his own hands, a chase ensues that results in a fire starting in the upper floor of the firehouse. The Stooges, showing why it's the nightmare scenario to have them as firemen, mistake the place of origin of an emergency call as the place of origin of the fire, and off they go. Through a comic mishap involving a beta version of Curly's invention, the horses take off running, leaving the horse-drawn fire engine as a Stooge-drawn fire engine. Using their populist powers, they quickly summon an army of volunteers to pull the fire engine, Keystone Kops style, to where the call came from. It's only through a miracle they discover they're going the wrong way: the dude who started the firehouse fire, finds himself trapped by it, and yells very VERY loudly for help. The fire engine gets dragged back to the fire house by all those people, the... I tend to not be exhaustive in my plot descriptions. The fire chief's daughter was also trapped by the fire. The net crew end up saving her, while the bad guy falls safely into a giant pothole in front of the fire station... they really ought to fill that up, lest another stunt man fall into it! Ultimately, the victory belongs to the modern fire engine. The bad guy gets away, and the Stooges start to chase after him. They fall into the hole the bad guy fell into, but the Stooges aren't as savvy about getting themselves out of a hole. Too busy hitting each other. Ain't it always the way?

good double bill with: False Alarms

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Auteur Watch - Jane and Alexandra Lipsitz

Well, somebody's got to profit off of the Reality TV-ization of American culture, so why not Jane and Alexandra Lipsitz?

Wounds healed and flaunted alike

I use a non-Firefox browser at my own peril... I was getting worried there for a second! Another holiday brings another delay in box office reporting, and all the stand-up comedians get yet another freebie: "Why do we celebrate work by taking the day off? Huh? What's that all about?" Because work sucks, you moron. Even the average stand-up comedian has taken a hit in their pay lately, I'm assuming. But never fear, because healing is on the march. The whole North-South divide is finally over. We are a united people because of a little independent movie called The Help. This time next year? Tate Taylor will be the name on everyone's lips. So young, so wise, so rugged, so handsome, such an Oscar winner. Copies of Pretty Ugly People will be that much harder to find. What will his next project be? What rift will he breach, what wound to heal? I suggest the East Coast/West Coast rap wars be addressed in HBO Miniseries style. No shame in helming that these days! Look at what's his name... what was that guy's name, just won for The King's Speech. James Cameron's twin brother... Mr. Hooper! That's it.
Anyway, critics are a little mixed about The Debt. They wouldn't be if Peter Morgan wrote the script. No, the powerhouse couple behind Kick Ass is responsible for the script. Now they're just getting greedy... rowr! Oh, she's so not single. Kick Ass 2: Balls to the Wall not going to happen? Blasphemy! Oh, I don't want to know any more. As for the instant case, well, I guess I would've paid better attention had I known that Jessica Chastain would be thrust upon an unsuspecting movie-going public like so much Amanda Seyfried. What is this, her third movie this year? How do some people get so busy? Also, everyone's, like, just jealous that Helen Mirren's trying to play someone in their 40s. She can do it all, baby! And she's done worse, lemme tell ya... I'm sorry, Maxim Magazine, I mean this. Or this! They like The Godfather too, after all.
The other debuts this week are... let me look. Some light, fluffy fare for the horror movie fans out there, probably nothing that will make it into the permanent collection. First, there's Apollo 18, a film that smacks faintly of a Christian production that managed to make it into the lamestream. God bless the motivated! There's also Shark Night 3D. Oh, Colbert's going to have a field day with this one... no, wait, he's afraid of bears. The plot? Sharks eat the cast of Jersey Shore, and the casts of several other reality shows. The American public, having long been trained to efficiently run through the five stages of grief, makes a surprising recovery.