Sunday, March 31, 2013

Short Reviews - March 2013

Little Mister Moffat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Primal Fear - I dunno.  The whole thing's kinda preposterous.  I mean, a priest interested in sexual intercourse between a man and a woman?  Preposterous and post-posterous!  Poppycock!  Nonsense!

Inside Llewyn Davis - The Coens, after all their recent success, go back to their old travelling roadshow distribution ways.  I hate to say it, but the trailer maybe gives away too much of the plot.

Outing Riley - Gee, I wonder if it's autobiographical?

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas - Gee, I wonder if it's autobiographical?

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old - This really should be titled "Jay and Silent Bob are still around?"

To Live and Die in L.A. - Another cop gets shot just before retirement

Se7en - Another cop stumbles upon a psychopath's master plot just before retirement

Falling Down - A cop has to stop a white guy's rampage before retirement

Lethal Weapon 3 - The black guy tries to retire ... and probably should have at that point

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne - Maybe I'm jumping to a hasty conclusion (and why on Earth would a blogger do that?), but this Jack Clayton guy sounds like who Graham Chapman was modeling after his "Eddie Baby" character.  You know, starting off as a tea boy...

Suddenly - Frank Sinatra is the coolest hostage taker ever!

HouseSitter and CrissCross - What is it with Goldie Hawn and camel casing?  Must be a 1992 thing...

Playing for Keeps - Farewell, Willy Switkes, whoever you were.  If you're part of next year's "In Memoriam" segment at the Oscars, you made it.

Upside Down - Between this and Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst is getting typecast, I'm afraid!  Time to hit the bottle again..............

Emperor of the North (Pole) - From director Robert Aldrich comes this butch, manly, super-testosterone charged tale of a mean guy who doesn't want hoboes on his train, and a hobo who wants to ride on the mean guy's train.

The Dirty Dozen - From director Robert Aldrich comes this butch, manly, super-testosterone charged tale of... are you kidding me?  Who cares about the plot?  It's the Dirty frickin' Dozen, for Christ's sake!

...All the Marbles - The movie that killed Robert Aldrich

King Ralph - Lemme tell you something about King Ralph... when John Goodman steps into that Burger King and orders a burger and fries, it's as if THE WHOLE WORLD is in that Burger King ordering a burger and fries.  Oh, it's that good.

Cop Out - Features the Bret Michaels song, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," which I'm told is about his relationship with a woman who had a hysterectomy.

Dream House - Mr. Craig Builds His Nightmare House

Highlander: The Final Dimension - I'm pretty sure this movie doesn't do the Cocteau Twins' song "Bluebeard" justice.  Even if it's over the end credits!

27 Dresses - I'm pretty sure this movie doesn't do the Cocteau Twins' song "Cherry Colored Funk" justice.  Even if it's over the end credits!  It's probably part of a montage of someone trying on clothes.  I'm assuming it takes the whole movie to get to all 27 of the 27 dresses.

Network - With all due respect to Paddy Chayefsky, I have to disagree with a teentsy weentsy part of the movie's dialogue.  I mean, the people I hang out with aren't that articulate to begin with, but we'll leave that aside for now.  No, the character of Joel Schumacher... I mean, Max, complains to his wife that the woman he's currently sleeping with... we'll leave that aside for now as well... that all Faye Dunaway knows about life is what she learned from Bugs Bunny.  And to me, as a staunch fan of Warner Brothers cartoons, them's fightin' words, as Yosemite Sam might say.  Take The Wild Hare, for example, for Exhibit A, if you will.  I submit to you, sir, that Bugs Bunny is as good a teacher about life as your Oprahs, your Og Mandingos, your Tony Robbinses, what have you.  In fact, I'd say that Bugs Bunny and Adam Sandler are the only two cinema-based life coaches a person really needs.  Adam Sandler teaches us that this life is short, brutish and mostly juvenile, and that everyone has their O'Doyle out there, your alter ego just itching for a fight.  For Bugs, Elmer Fudd is his O'Doyle.  And what does Bugs teach us?  He beats Elmer with wits and brains, and a gymnastics physique doesn't hurt, either.  And you take that Elmer that wants to shoot you with his shotgun and you POUND THE CRAP out of his will to fight, and you pound and pound and pound.  Even if he just wants to take a picture of you!  The nerve of that guy!!  The very idea!  Fighting back, that's the lesson.  You take that nerdy Elmer, trapped in his narrow world with his narrow ideas, and you punch and pound the crap out of that worldview of his until... the coup de grace.  You let him think he's won.  You let Elmer take that shot he's wanted to take.  Elmer will miss, of course, but you fake death anyway.  That's another lesson right there.  Perhaps David Mamet is best: you never open your mouth until you know what the shot is... something like that.  Just make sure Elmer won't actually hurt you when he pulls that trigger.  So, Elmer takes the shot, and you fake your own death!  And then, when Elmer is crying like a baby, wracked with guilt and remorse, sobbing against the tree, you get up, lift his coat, and tilt his ass just right... then give it a good swift kick!  Psychological torture!  Indeed, is this not what life is all about, Mr. Chayefsky?  Conquering your enemies, then blowing their minds?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

James Bond in "Home Alone"

In my movie-packed week I also watched Skyfall, the latest Bond movie.  Sometimes I forget that Daniel Craig is the new James Bond.  He did five movies in between this and the last one, Quantum of Solace.  James Bond is not supposed to be that busy.  Roger Moore sure wasn't!
Or maybe I should've watched the movie alone.  One of my viewing companions was pretty disappointed.  Probably for the best that we didn't see this one in the theater.  And I was for similar reasons.  Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace changed Bond for the better, stripping away most of the kitsch that has marked the series for the most part.  No more Communists to fight, not as many blatant bikini babes, that kind of thing.  Skyfall heads back to the kitsch to a degree.  And, of course, the spectre of mortality that has hung heavy over cinema for the last ten or fifteen years or so rears its ugly head here, starting with the opening sequence.
SPOILER ALERT: In the opening sequence, in Istanbul, Bond's cute assistant follows Bond on a train, not unlike Steven Seagal getting back onto a train in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.  Sorry, but I forgot to take my anti-Seagal meds tonight.  She's got a rifle aimed at Bond and the dude he's fighting with on top of this train.  Like Jesus on Person of Interest, she seems to be connected to Bond a few hundred feet away, and M way back in London.  M tells her to take the shot.  She does, but she doesn't tell Bond to get out of the way, or perhaps lie flat on the train... anything.  Bond's assistant takes the shot, and... DOWN GOES BOND!  He lands in the water below.  Apparently he's skilled at cliff diving because he ends up okay.  Needless to say, the taken shot allows us to suspect that his assistant's a double agent, but more importantly to think about Bond's mortality, and consequently, our own.  We must use the time we have wisely.  With great power comes great responsibility.  We are what we eat, that kind of crap that I'm personally kinda sick of.  Bond later on asks his cute assistant the same thing, more or less.  "You know, you could've WARNED me first!" he says, if I remember correctly.
M presumes that Bond is dead, and she makes the necessary preparations, writing his epitaph, what have you.  Is this going to be the shortest Bond ever?  No, because we catch up with Bond having a quickie on an island someplace.  I keep forgetting that he does that.  He's contractually obligated to get it on with at least two ladies in each pic, as Garth Brooks once pointed out on SNL one time.  The other lady he gets it on with has a tattoo of a Macau sex trade worker.  I just hope Bond had a condom at the very least.
Javier Bardem, best known to me as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, and as the wicked fat dude in Collateral, plays a blond villain here.  Not just any villain, though.  Bardem is an ex-MI6 agent turned supervillain, and he seems to kinda have his shit together!  But above all, he is a bad guy, so we can't root for him.  And when he was making his case for all the evil things he could do with his computers in his pajamas, I couldn't help but think that destabilizing Uganda or Rwanda or whatever country in Africa he cited wasn't so impressive.  But I can see how he'd have a genuine grievance with his former boss, M.  The dude's real teeth are kinda nasty.  Bond visits Bardem at his island lair, which looked strikingly like the one dream sequence in Inception.  In fact, the Oriental casino looked a bit like Inception, too.  Former Coen brothers production designer Dennis Gassner copied it well.  Apparently when you do big movies like this, you don't wanna stop.
So not only does Skyfall languish on the subject of impending mortality, and loss of youthful fitness, it also engages in blatant icon worship.  The original Bond car, the Aston Martin is taken out of storage, and Bond and M drive to Skyfall, Bond's childhood home.  Sorry... SPOILER ALERT.  You can go home again, and preferably if it's going to get blown to bits.  The home is prepped in a similar fashion to the home in Home Alone.  The only difference is, the kid in Home Alone had to fight two bumbling crooks.  Here, Bond has to fend off about ten ex-military guys with machine guns.  And that's just the first wave!  Bardem shows up later with about twenty ex-military or paramilitary guys, all with machine guns.  Albert Finney plays the aged caretaker of Skyfall, and he, Bond and M prepare for battle.  "Sometimes the old ways are the best," Finney says.  And a few liberties with the plot don't hurt either.
One last point about the finale: I kinda wish it was like the finale of In the Line of Fire, where just before Malkovich gets shot, he says to Eastwood, "You bastard!"  That seemed half-ass human.  Bardem throws a look to Bond that basically said that, so... okay, I guess my wish was fulfilled after all.
My disappointed viewing companion thought that they were preparing us for the end of the Bond franchise as we know it with this one.  I just checked Daniel Craig's IMDb page, and what does it say?  Bond 24 and Bond 25, announced.  Oh, and the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie.  So, Craig's slowing down a little bit at least.  A toast in the hopes that the next Bond movies will not be like Skyfall.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

John Grisham's "Witness"

Before I totally forget... because I have seen some actual movies here, so I better take a little time to blog about them.  When I first started developing my cinematographer fetish, I began with Barry Sonnenfeld and Roger Deakins, of course, being the Coen-head that I am.  So, does not The Client cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts belong in that same pantheon?  Probably not, but he's had a damn interesting career, doing everything from working in the Merchant-Ivory mines on such clunkers as A Room with a View and The Remains of the Day, to modern comic-book and video-game-based fare such as Underworld 1 and Doom.  Doom was directed by Falling Down cinematographer Andrezj Bartkowiak, and Falling Down was directed by The Client director Joel Schumacher, so Schumacher's probably to blame for Pierce-Roberts' slide into adolescent fare.  Schumacher's best work is probably Falling Down and the gritty 8MM, and if you think 8MM is gritty, but in a big-budget-studio way, I'd hate to see the real thing.
Of course, Schumacher's usually at his best with stuff in the middle of the spectrum like The Client.  Taking a cue from the Spielberg school, author extraordinaire and Stephen King of the legal world John Grisham knew he had to have a kid as a protagonist.  You know, to draw in the kids.  And Schumacher picked a good one in Brad Renfro, but he still kinda sounds a bit like Winona Ryder in his quieter moments.  Rest in peace, Brad.
Okay, so we have a kid.  Now, how do we get the kid to need the services of a lawyer?  Time to go the Witness route.  But this is a PG-13 movie, so no topless Amish babes here, thank you very much!  No, we set the story in Grisham's back yard, and it'll be about the mob, probably in the way that Steven Seagal's Out for Justice was about the mob.  The kid and his brother... two kids!  Genius!  These two kids see a wicked blue-eyed fat dude trying to kill himself in his car, using a hose stuck in his tail pipe, so they play God and intervene.  The fat dude grabs Renfro and starts talking.  This fat dude's one of those scary adults that kids should be kept away from.  The guy eventually does kill himself, but before he does, he spills his guts about the terrible, terrible secret that he knows.  We don't actually hear that part until later... there's a lot of delayed stuff like that in this pic.
The wicked fat dude ("Romey") was a mob lawyer, and his main client is Barry "The Blade" Muldano, played by Anthony LaPaglia, an Australian actor best known to American audiences for his Italian characters, such as in 29th Street, One Good Cop, and this... okay, so I haven't kept up on his work.  Sue me.  In his first scene, we see him intimidating Romey's secretary with a knife awfully similar to the knife pulled on Michael Douglas in Falling Down.  And just like Catherine Zeta-Jones in Intolerable Cruelty, it's kind of a joy just to see what outfit he's wearing next.  Trust me, they're consistent; he's always dressed like a bad boy douchebag.
The two main adults in the movie are the Reverend Roy Foltrigg, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and Susan Sarandon who plays Reggie Love, a woman just trying to get by with her modest law practice... I think they're supposed to be in Tennessee, I can't remember.  Tommy Lee Jones is probably the best thing in the movie, but it is nice to see him and Sarandon spar.  And I'm probably just a racist, but I predicted that Ossie Davis would play a judge.  Or maybe it's like Danny Glover in The Rainmaker.  Davis' character is named Harry Roosevelt... boy!  Grisham really knows African American names!  What was Denzel's name in The Pelican Brief? Lemme check... Gray Grantham?  I retract my earlier statement, if it please the court.  Oh, and the voice of Homer Simpson plays a sleazy fourth estate photographer.
One more casting choice I wanted to point out... I finally figured out the guy's name: Kim Coates, who plays Paul Gronke here.  If I remember correctly, Gronke is the sound one of the dinosaurs makes in the B.C. comic strip.  Coates played a similar but more colorful role in The Last Boy Scout.  He's since graduated from playing bad guys all the time, most prominently in Pearl Harbor.  He plays a guy named Jack Richards, and gets to say that he doesn't know if the planes can make it all the way to China.  Movin' on up!
As for the plot, well... it's kinda ludicrous to me.  But it's consistently ludicrous all the way through, I'll give them that.  It harkens back to a more innocent time when people had rights, and lawyers could actually protect them.  On the plus side, Schumacher's using genuine locations.  It was more interesting to me to see the trees on the way to the mob lawyer's boathouse than what was in the boathouse.  And the New Orleans restaurant that the mobsters were dining in looked like one I saw on an episode of one of those Anthony Bourdain shows.  I don't travel as much as I should, you see.....
Oh, and of course, the big tearjerker at the end.  I hate to spoil it, but I will anyway.  The kid and his family end up in the Witness Protection Program.  But before they go, Sarandon gives the kid her compass that was introduced to the audience earlier.  I almost lost it.  Yup, 'tis a fine, three-star cinema of enriched bleached plotting that'll last forever, despite the fact that it's all kinda silly.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Friday, March 29, 2013

Malice in the Palice... hoh boy, here we go....

Every collector of Stooge DVDs has at least twenty copies of Malice in the Palace, of course... but when was the last time they actually sat down to watch the damn thing?  Me myself, here I go...


So racist... and not enough like making fun of the Amish.  MitP is on the big list, and so are the names of all the people who've ever watched it.  "Somewhere in the Orient," puh-leeeeeeze.  And on top of that, check out that incidental music!  They never have incidental music in these things... okay, not never, but 95% of the time they don't.
Fade-in on the restaurant set where hopefully this whole film won't take place.  And... what's that on the table?  A dead dog?  Good Lord.  Dig that crazy harpsichord music.  Dolly in on the curtains, through which pops the swarthily bearded head of Vernon Dent.  His character's named... oh, for God's sake.  I'm not touching that one.
...THE DOG'S ALIVE!  Awwww.... the thinner bad guy chases it off the table, the bastid.  The thin guy's named.... easy, Movie Hooligan.  Gotta get through these comedy names.  The thin guy's named "Ginna Rumma" and Vernon Dent's named "Hassan Ben Sober."  So, with the 'Ben' in his name, he might be half-Jewish for all I know.  Besides!  There's that character named "Cash drawer" in Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano," right?  Anyway, they're waiting for their friend named "Affa Dolla" who's got a valuable map.  They do the secret handshake and have a seat.  "Service!" they start yelling.
Enter the Stooges.  Oh, they're going to get served something, all right.  And... BOOM!!!  Vernon is artfully covered in the wreckage, as is the other guy.  Moe has a nice Curly-esque reaction.  We hold for the laughs, of course.  Spaghetti Face says "Take this off... TAKE THIS OFF!"  Shemp obliges, cutting the spaghetti dangling in front of his face as though it were hair.  Shemp puts the spaghetti he just cut onto a plate, saying that it's just as good as new.  Well, if you lived through the Great Depression, that might be true, but in our modern germophobe days, not so much.
Dent and his partner draw knives on these three scurvy knaves, and for good reason.  Is this the end of the Stooges as we once knew it?  Will it look like they have two mouths?  The pleading begins.  "A thousand pardons, it was unavoidable!" pleads Larry.  As a former Post Office employee, I know that that's always the right answer.  Moe, however, makes an inexplicable plea to Dent's better nature: Dent's about to scalp Moe, but Moe says "This would degrade you!"  Dent has a sudden change of heart for the better, and for Moe's better as well, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your POV.  I am reminded of a similar moment from Buccaneer Bunny when Bugs almost got Yosemite Sam to blow his own brains out... alas, this copy of it on the YouTube also reminds me of the bad reception I've had to endure many a rainy night.  Thanks, satellite TV!  Dent declares "You're right.  I am an Aristocrat!  I am Hassan Ben Sober!"  Shemp delivers us the joke we've been waiting for, based around that name.  Moe delivers physical punishment upon his elder brother.  Shemp retaliates, with that hand waving movement that I still don't know the proper term for, but this time... whoa, dude!  He drops his hand right down to the floor and makes Moe hit his head on the floor several times in a row.  Game changing.  And I don't use that clichéd to hell phrase lightly this time.
At this point, all three of them are on the floor, cleaning up the enormous mess made by Shemp's one quick gesture.  There's a frame blow-up at 2:53 for some reason.  Maybe Shemp was giving Moe the finger or something, and they couldn't go back and do a second take.  Moe breaks a plate over Shemp's head at 2:58 and, caught up in the spirit of the moment, Larry breaks a plate at 3:00.
Cross-fade to the next scene above the table, and focusing on the curtains.  Enter Affa Dolla, played by Frank Lackteen, Dent's gaunt assistant in A Bird in the Head.  A quick hashing and thrashing out of new plot developments.  Affa Dolla has two main points: 1) there's a duplicate copy of the map, and 2) he reminds his two lunkheads that whoever touches the diamond first will be cursed.  "We must secure the services of three to do our bidding," Dent tells his fez-wearing, mustachio'd and sideburn'd assistant.  They have to hurry because of that duplicate copy of the map... but first, they need to eat.  They can't seem to escape this restaurant they're in.  Maybe the Stooges won't drop a bunch of plates on their heads this time.  Second chances help the healing.
The Stooges re-enter.  "What'll you have?" Larry asks Dent.  Dent starts to answer, but Moe quickly replies "We don't have anymore."  Larry says "All we got left is rabbit and hot dog."  Dent says "Rabbit."  The other guy says "Hot dog."  Larry says "Hot dog!  They'll take rabbit!"  So corny, so dumb... the one time Moe should've slapped Larry, and he doesn't.  I just lost all my faith in humanity.  Shemp goes into his magic trick and starts pulling out the endless kerchief with pepper and salt on the end of it.  Shemp takes silverware out of his pockets, and breathes on the butter knife to polish it up.  He uses Dent's beard to do the polishing.


I apologize in advance, but I have to skip over most of this part, I just have to.  I have to, because I hate this kind of thing.  I know I shouldn't, but I do anyway.  First of all, because the way Larry's holding the cat in this scene.  Larry has to pause for the camera, and he's holding the cat by the scruff of its neck as it claws helplessly to free itself.  Look how he lovingly cradles the dog by comparison!  Anti-cat bastard.  Anyway, the belaboured scene involves Larry preparing the food of their two guests, and what everyone else thinks that they hear.  So, Moe, Shemp, Dent and his fez-wearing friend, all think that Larry's killing a cat and a dog and making the food.  It's a wonderful scene, and a classic that will last forever.  I'm reminded of a similar, far superior scene in Playing the Ponies.
So, to cut to the chase, Dent and his assistant force Moe and Shemp to eat, but they refuse.  At one point, they force Larry to eat, which Larry does happily.  They then push Larry out of the way, and start eating themselves.  The meal is interrupted when ... it's a little complicated.  Shemp makes a play for one of the hot dogs, and it gets slapped out of his hand.  The dog and cat start fighting over it... but personally, I think the cat was lifted by wires.  A fight erupts under the table between the cat and dog, and Dent and assistant erupt from their seats, knocking the whole table over.  The Stooges start fighting amongst themselves and... Dent and his assistant have found the three they seek!  Dent and his assistant start to close the deal, when... a hand emerges from the curtain and throws a knife onto the table!  The knife has a message: a note from Omagosh, the Emir of Shmow.  Omagosh beat them to the diamond.  Dent and assistant break down in tears.  Dent says he won't be able to quit his job as doorman at the Oasis Hotel.  That does it for the Stooges.  They give Dent the business.  Dent's assistant's about to cut the Stooges with his knife, but instead asks if they'll give him five for it... he ends up twirling out of the scene at about 8 fps.  Epic.  That's the one thing about this film that I'll never be able to forget as long as I live.
The Stooges are a bit more positive about the useless map.  They're able to turn it into map lemonade.  They also have thoughts of being good citizens of whatever fictional country they're currently in.  (Hint: I think it's called "Starvania")  Why, if they return the diamond to the government, they're sure to get a big reward!  So, God bless the thieves who steal things and create economic incentives for do-gooders.
Anyway, time to study the map.  The map shows up at 2:56.  Moe starts talking at 3:36.  You do the math.  Way to kill time, guys!  Fade to black.
Just one note about the map: they must read from right to left in that country, because the provinces of "Atisket" and "Atasket" are in the wrong order!


Fade in.  Scene: the stronghold of Shmow in Shmowland, where security's tighter than Mick Jagger's leotards.  To set the stage, we see one person trying to enter.  Fortunately for them, they're allowed entry.  There's one mean looking guard with a rifle guarding the place.  The Stooges have prepared a great disguise, however: the three of them pull up in a sleigh-wagon hybrid dressed as three Santa Clauses.  They jingle as they arrive, of course.  Why, their horse even has fake reindeer antlers!  Lol.  The guard's skeptical at first.  "Aw, there ain't no such thing as Santa Claus!" he says.  The Stooges insist, and tell the guard that they have a present for him.  They do?  Ah, bribery... works every time.  They do have a giant sack, but it's empty.  As it turns out, the guard is what they're going to fill the sack with!  See, a good disguise will only take you so far...
Next scene: the interior of the palace proper.  The Stooges, still in their Santa outfits, just waltz right on in until... they run afoul of a palace guard with a giant scimitar.  They would've gotten Dudley Dickerson for this part, but they wanted someone taller and more muscular.  So far, the guard's pretty mellow!  He doesn't see the Stooges as a threat yet.  Meanwhile, the Stooges go to work.  A quick huddle, and then they start playing leapfrog, inviting the guard to join in.  The guard does, the big dufus.  The guard sets down his giant sword, and Moe beats him over the head with it.  The guard stands up, and listens to the birdies, takes his sword and skips away.  Threat averted.  Now if only they could find Omarosa or whoever the hell it is...
Next scene: the Shmow proper!  He's still laughing over the diamond, apparently.  And who can blame him? The Stooges run to the nearest curtain they can find.  Boy!  Lot of curtains in this one!  Curtains in the café, curtains here... curtains, curtains, curtains!  As it turns out... the Shmow's reading the funny papers.  Boy, do I feel like a fool.  He was so engrossed in the funnies, he didn't even see the Stooges running away out of his peripheral vision.  The Stooges cook up their next ruse...
Next scene: the Shmow grows weary of the comics, and is now sitting uneasily in his makeshift throne.  He has stolen the diamond from King Rootin Tootin's tomb, but remains unconvinced by tales of some curse.  Surely retribution won't be so swift!  His main competitors' spirits broken, who's really going to care about one lousy biggest diamond ever... OH MY GOD!  A giant Santa Claus approaches, making "gruff" noises like Shemp.  It's got three sets of arms, the top two of which are swinging back and forth.  The bottom pair of arms are apparently holding Moe's stunt double in place.  "Fe fi fo fum..." says the thing.  So corny, so dumb.  Shemp continues: "I'm the evil spirit that guards the Rootin Tootin diamond!"  So far, the Shmow's convinced.  Shemp orders Shmow to hand over the diamond.  Shmow throws his hat to Shemp, and Shemp removes the diamond.
Now what?  Oh, Shemp's all too ready to boss someone around for a change.  "The spirit commands you to stand on your head in that lily pond until FURTHER NOTICE!"  The Shmow obliges.  And just when the Shmow's ears are full of water, the black guard returns.  Larry's head emerges from the disguise, and Shemp orders Moe to get them the hell out of there.  And it almost works too!  They're too tall for the entryway and collapse in a giant heap on the floor.  The guard gives chase.
The Stooges pick themselves up off the floor, saying "Oh, Oh, Oh."  The guard shows up with the sword, and the Stooges say "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"  See how they did that?  Moe and Larry zig, while Shemp and the guard zag.  Just as Curly is often left to his own devices, so now is Shemp.  Shemp runs into a corner, but don't worry.  The Good Lord, or whoever watches over the Stooges (Satan too, maybe?) have seen fit to put Shemp into a corner with many tools of the Stooges' trade; mostly, a big plate of soft fruit.  But before that, Shemp decides to try matching his enemy with similar tools, and he reaches up to a shield on the wall to grab a sword.  He grabs a tiny knife instead.  Realizing his mistake, he gives the knife to the guard.  "Here, hold that," he says.  The humorless guard bellows "I'LL KILL YOU!"  We'll see about that, mister.  Shemp grabs a slightly better weapon, a sword that looks like a fencing foil.  But Shemp's not a fighter, he's a lover, or something else in the non-fighter category.  And just like the Blue Raja refuses to take up knives instead of forks and spoons, Shemp turns to ingenuity instead of simple, brutish swordplay.  He stabs one of the round pieces of fruit off of that plate, and hurls it at the guard.  The guard angrily wipes the fruit pulp off his face.  Shemp goes for a second, followed by a banana.  The banana lands right in the guard's mouth.  Well, they probably just rolled the film backwards.  Needles to say, the humiliation of that slows the guard down a little bit.  The guard gains his composure and says "Why, you..."  A damn shame they're enemies; this guard's practically a Stooge himself!  One more piece of fruit in the face, and the guard needs to take a break to recoup.
Enter Moe and Larry.  Moe sees the guard backing up to the wall, a giant vase just above his head.  Moe removes the guard's hat to make sure it doesn't cushion the blow from the vase one bit.  "Your hat," says Moe, handing it to the guard.  "Thank you," says the guard, as we await his massive double take that's surely to come.  Hmm!  They seem to do a frame blow-up at 6:43.  See, they couldn't afford to do a close-up shot, so they have to get the lab to do it.  That's half the film's budget right there!  The guard starts to say "Why you..." again, but Moe pulls the piece of fabric that the vase is sitting on.
I'm telling you!  The black guard was framed!  He just sits there, looking angrily over at Moe until the vase hits his head.  The vase doesn't shatter, though; it merely bounces, which makes it just that much more painful.  Shemp picks up the vase and drops it on the dude's head a second time.  The guard's pained look on his face changes only slightly.  For some reason, the guard's not falling down.  The Stooges soon figure out why: the guard's sword is standing him up, so Shemp kicks it away out from slightly in front of him.  The guard gently plummets to the ground, ever so subtly catching himself before impact.  And on top of that, it was done at 12 or 8 fps, probably, with wires to gently lower him down, I'll bet!  My picky friend would be all over that.  So fake, so phony.  When Chris Farley fell forward like that, all he had was his giant stomach to catch him!  Now there was a born stunt man.


With the security guard vanquished a second time, using repeated comedy blows to the head, that's that.  "Well, that's that!" says Moe, as all the Stooges do that hand gesture signifying that everything's been all tied up and taken care of, every last loose end plucked from the garment, perfection and/or normalcy completely restored.  On to the next challenge.  Still, something doesn't feel right... oh, right!  The Shmow's still standing on his head, but the lily pond has no more liquid in it!  The guy falls over, his legs landing on the edge of the lily pond.  I hope that was the stunt man.
Cut to the next scene.  I guess it was a stunt man.  The Shmow is standing up now, and Moe prods the Shmow's new-fangled giant stomach, swollen with lily pond water.  Just as the Road Runner cartoons have their own laws of physics, so too do the Stooge films, and the bad guys have the ability to hold enormous amounts of water in their bellies.  They are also just as good at spitting it back out again.  They position the Shmow just right so that he starts filling up the pond with all the water he drank.  I hope they hooked up a hose to the side of his face away from the camera.  Moe tells the female statue that normally fills up the pond, "Sister, looks like you're out of a job!"  The statue also starts dispensing water, but it turns around so that the Stooges get soaked.  Moe woofs at the statue before they all run off into the sunset... or as close to it as they can get within the confines of the palace set.

...Khashdrahr Miasma!  That's it!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Dancing near Lufthansa

Time for another Popeye short I haven't seen a lot... in fact, I don't think I've ever seen it once!  Shame on me.  Time to rectify that right now with our next Popeye short: The Dance Contest.


Scene: the exterior of a big time dance hall.  Once again, we skip the formality of Popeye's theme song.  I hate to jump ahead, but they use the same incidental music later on in Learn Polikeness.  And as you can see, there's no parking space in front of the dance hall.  This does not deter the car that pulls up and mashes the other cars out of the way.  It's Olive and Popeye!  "Hurry, Popeye.  We're very late!" she says.  Popeye gets out and pays the driver.  Olive's wearing a nice dress, while Popeye's got his usual duds.  Sheesh!  If Bluto shows up, he'll probably be properly dressed.
Cross-fade to the dance hall proper, where we see many couples dancing the night away.  In the background we see Olive and Popeye walk up.  Pretty cool!  They look to Stage Right, and the camera pans to the stage, where we see that Wimpy is judging the dance contest.  Wimpy!  Wimpy, the dance contest judge.  With his pile of hamburgers, no less.  That's like sending Bob Fosse to judge a hamburger-eating contest.  But Wimpy seems to be enjoying the part of his new temporary job where he pulls the lever marked "Eliminator," and couples fall through the floor.  He's got a smile on his face, the fat bastid.  Now, I know what you're thinking, because it's what I was thinking.  Perhaps the couples could avoid that part of the floor entirely!  That's when we go back to Olive and Popeye entering the dance floor proper, and the trap doors start opening all over the place.
Fortunately for us, Olive and Popeye are spared this fate... probably because they're the freakin' stars of the pic.  Olive and Popeye start dancing.  Needless to say, Popeye's a better sailor than a dancer, and he starts stepping on Olive's toes.  To be fair, it only happens twice, and Olive still seems happy despite the temporary pain and embarrassment.  Popeye starts changing his dancing style at this point, and it works for a while until they both collapse on the floor.


I never thought I'd say this, but thank God Bluto shows up!  He's sitting at a table, and he laughs at Popeye and Olive.  And, as I figured, he's more appropriately dressed than Popeye... at the same time, what's the deal with his open shirt?  He's about 30 years ahead of his time on that one.  All he's missing is a gold chain.  He stands up and says "That's TERRIBLE!"  He walks over to the two of them, still sitting on the floor.  Bluto kicks Popeye out of the way and picks up Olive.  "May I?" he asks Olive.  So far, he's behaving like a perfect gentleman... but he'll probably end up strangling her by Act Three.  Popeye's angry at first, then he starts scratching his head as he watches Bluto strut his stuff.  Oh my God... Bluto's dipping Olive!  That's a definite deal breaker.  So much so, in fact, that when Popeye tries to cut in, Olive refuses.  Bluto and Olive continue dancing.  Popeye says "I guess I have no sex appeal," and he sounds just like a dejected Nelson Muntz.  So far, this is the highlight of the short, hands down.
Back to Wimpy, still doing his thing.  Well, they're not just going to repeat the same animation here, are they?  Phew!  Thank goodness.  A couple dances close by Wimpy.  Wimpy asks them for some mustard.  They don't have any, so through the floor they go.
Continuing the nourishment theme, we cut to Popeye, sitting at a table with a bowl of spinach.  "My only friend," he says as he twirls some spinach onto a fork like spaghetti.  This is about as close to suicidal as I've ever seen Popeye.  Fortunately, his fortunes change once he eats that little bit of spinach.  The spinach goes right to his left leg, which starts tap dancing... then stops.  A second bite of spinach goes right to his right leg, which starts tap dancing... then stops.  An idea is bourne.  He grabs all the contents of the bowl of spinach, stuffs it all into his mouth, and his whole body starts to dance.  But the cartoon's not even half-way over yet! Is Popeye going to lose his momentum early?  We'll just have to wait and see.
At this point, like all great dancers, Popeye leaves the comfort of his table and takes to the dance floor proper.  I'll bet this part was rotoscoped.  In fact, from here on out, most of it probably is rotoscoped.  I just hate to think of some genius animator coming up with all that on his or her own, basically.
Next scene: Popeye's about to run into the happy couple again.  He shoves Bluto aside.  Olive looks angrily at Popeye, but her expression changes once the new spinached-up Popeye takes her hand and starts dancing.  Popeye twirls her across the dance floor and... I think the move is the "sashay."  What do I know? I'm no dancer.  I'm human!


'Tis pity it's a bit early for Act Three, but Popeye makes a bold announcement, saying "Clear the deck, on account of I'm gonna do me stuff!"  Wimpy happily obliges, and uses the lever to eliminate everyone else on the floor.  Sheesh!!!  There's protestations in the usual way a crowd in a Fleischer cartoon does, but it soon falls by the wayside, and Olive and Popeye proceed to bring a little class to the dance floor.  They briefly dance forehead to forehead.  You know, all you young people could learn a thing or two from this!
They end their dance by standing side by side, and touch their... um, glutes together.  There's actually still a crowd left on the perimeter of the dance floor, and they applaud mightily.  Except for Bluto of course, standing there, sulking with a cigar in his mouth.  Bluto steps onto the dance floor and tries for a second helping of dancing.  Shoving Popeye aside, Popeye slides until he finds a chair next to a table.  Bluto's dancing style this time is punitive for Olive at least, and humiliating at worst.  Bluto takes advantage of Olive's elasticity at this point, and the slide guitar is an all-too-willing accomplice.  Popeye's thinking about doing something about it, but we've still got about a minute and a half to go, and I guess he wants to give Bluto plenty of rope to hang himself with.
After Bluto bounces Olive off a drum on the other side of the room, Popeye's finally had enough.  "That's all I can stand, 'coz I can't stands no more!" he says, which I believe is the first time in these shorts where that line is uttered.  Popeye marches himself right out to that dance floor and, after an initial punch to Bluto's face... no.  He wouldn't.  Popeye's going to dance with Bluto???!!!!  Yes he is!  But it's all terribly butch, don't worry.  Then again...


Oh, it's too wonderful.  I dare not call the play by play on this one.  Needles to say, Popeye reigns triumphant over Bluto on the dance floor.  He even scares Bluto just by sticking out his stomach!  Bluto ends up crashing through several pillars (not unlike this one), and smashes into a thick column holding a statue of a cherub that seems to have Betty Boop's face.
Wimpy gives Popeye the trophy, and voila!  Wimpy ends up getting that mustard he wanted.  The only problem is, it's inside Popeye's trophy.  Popeye will have to get that cleaned.
To be fair, this seems to have all the elements of a great Popeye cartoon, but it's still not one of my favorites. I'm just not cultured enough to truly appreciate it, I suppose.  Three stars.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - John Akomfrah

Take THAT, Michael Moore!  Well, Mike's only three years older than John here.  He's the British king of documentaries, for God's sake!  I should know of this guy!  Well, I'll give him this.  Anyone else, after finishing a documentary in 2009 about the Exxon Valdez would've wanted to get started on a new doc about that Gulf of Mexico spill a mere year later, but he's got bigger fish to fry.  A toast to John Akomfrah!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tyler Perry's Easter Blues

In a word: disappointment.  Everything's a disappointment at the box office this weekend.  Receipts are down because everyone's out chasing hard boiled eggs right now, enjoying the sunshine, not giving a lick about going to some dark cinema and having their eardrums blasted by Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound and their eyes titillated by sex.
Certainly the stars of yesteryear are feeling the disappointment.  Steve Carell's Bruce Almighty 3 has slumped to #10 after three weeks, with only 20 million total to show for it.  Not even enough to cover the limos driven to the premiere!  Tina Fey's Admission has slip-slided to #8 after two weeks, with only 11.8 million total to show for it.  Seems people aren't ready for her to grow as an artist.  They're still suckling at the teat that was Liz Lemon.  30 Rock: The Motion Picture, they collectively cry!  Halle Berry's horror pic is doing better than Catwoman, sure, but her heyday days are certainly coming to a close.  Too late to do Monster's Ball 2, anyway.  The new movie of Stephenie Meyer, the brains behind the Twilight saga, debuted at #6.  Seems people aren't ready for her to grow as an artist.  People just can't relate to outer space aliens in such an intimate way yet.  Vampires and werewolves, sure!  That we know.  At least they're from here, not from outer space.
G.I. Joe: The Motion Picture Sequel is doing well at #1, sure, but the cloud of disappointment hangs heavy over it, pregnant with rain, because the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war are drawing to a close.  It would've been preferable to have these G.I. Joe movies anywhere from 10 to 5 years ago.  You know, to help the recruitment numbers of our various armed forces.  No, the only one with cause to rejoice somewhat is Tyler Perry's Olympus Has Fallen... I'm sorry, I mean Antoine Fuqua.  I confuse those two far too often, as regular readers of this blog know all too well.  But speaking of Tyler Perry, I'll leave aside the disappointment of not hitting #1 lately, and I will take my fellow critics to task, because for some reason everyone's complaining about Kim Kardashian.  Same thing happened to Woody when he cast Leonardo DiCaprio in... his 1998 project, whatever it was called.  And now it's Tyler Perry casting Kim Kardashian in his latest and greatest.  Everyone complained when they found out she was being cast in the movie in the first place, and now they're complaining when they see her in the movie.  Oh, right, the movie's called Tyler Perry's Temptation, by the way, in case you were wondering.  Here's my question to everyone who's complaining about this... what do you expect?  Did she not live up to your expectations?  Just stop and think about it for a second.  She's not appearing off Broadway in Ibsen!  She's not doing Shakespeare!  She's appearing in Tyler Perry's latest crappy movie, saying lines like "That's not make up.  More like make down."  This is all she can get!  As dictated by the Peter Principle, this is her level of incompetence.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, the fact that Kim Kardashian's crappy performance in Tyler Perry's latest crappy movie is being discussed at all, well... somehow, we're all the losers for it.  Incidentally, stay tuned for Tyler Perry's latest: A Very Madea Christmas due out this December, and his new TV show called... who cares?  It's on TV!  Watch it, you godless heathens!  Get right with the Lord, for God's sake!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Donner Party

Welp, it's been a long Winter quarter, and I did what the school told me to do.  Now it's spring break, and now the movies are once again telling me what to do.  One a night for four nights in a row!  And no time to report on anything.  Well, that stops right here and now.
First up, 2003's Timeline.  Now, it pains me to critique the work of auteur extraordinaire Richard Donner, but he was apparently 73 years old when this hit theaters back in the day, so he can probably take it.  Besides, it's Michael Crichton's fault, really. But as my viewing companion pointed out, there's a couple good plot twists here that I kinda hate to spoil.  But in the final analysis, Back to the Future is still the best time travel movie for me.  I did enjoy the remake of The Time Machine, though, if a bit too sentimental.  I never did make it all the way through Timecop yet, though.  Can't do it.  Maybe it's seeing Sloane Peterson getting banged by Jean-Claude.  Just not kosher, know whut I mean?
Sorry, got sidetracked again.  So here's the setup: a company called ITC... not the company that distributed The Muppet Show to television, a different ITC... is attempting to put FedEx and UPS out of business.  Not the Post Office too, hopefully.  That would just be downright cruel.  They're putting R&D dollars into finding a way to ... basically, it's teleportation.  The Fly, Larry Niven books, what have you.  They just accidentally stumble upon time travel.
Fine setup.  From there, things start to break down.  First of all, with Paul Walker.  Just something about that guy.  Probably just the jealousy talking, but he is a good son, and he wants to just get his father back.  His father is played by Billy Connolly.  Question #1: what's the deal with Paul Walker's lack of Scottish brogue? Is he just an Army brat or something?  The father goes missing and Walker's all over that.  Meanwhile, there's panic at the archaeological dig in Castlegard, France.  Let me put it this way: I typed Castlegard into Wikipedia, and this came up.  I know, I know, I should know better.  These kinds of things are dangerous.  You name an actual place, and people start going there.  Like with Forks, Washington and the Twilight series!
Alas, this is the kind of people that's fun to watch just for beating up on it.  I will say this, though: Donner makes 14th Century France look like a pretty brutal place.  Useless characters are not spared.  Six travel back in time, and only three make it back.  My other major complaint is about the "markers," or what's used to travel back through time.  You have these tiny amulets, and you press them to see how much time you have left to travel back, and you press down on them to actually travel back.  And, on top of that, you need a 40-foot radius of open space to jump back.  I guess my first question is....... who invented these, and how?  You know, I'll bet the science behind them is pretty damn interesting.  The film wisely sidesteps all that stuff.
Also, I will give Donner credit on the casting, as Gerard Butler and Michael Sheen are still forces to be reckoned with in American cinema to this very day.  And of course, sympathy for poor Caleb Deschanel, who had to go work on The Passion of the Christ after this film.  Possibly at Donner's suggesting!
Yes, it's a greatest hits reel for both Crichton and Donner.  I was reminded of the archaeological dig of Jurassic Park and... well, that's about it for Crichton.  For some reason, when everyone was talking all at once in moments of panic, I couldn't help but think more of The Goonies and less of the staging of Robert Altman.  And Donner perhaps had a flashback or two to Ladyhawke, another Middle Ages period piece (of his).  But really, they probably should've picked a better release date.  The second half of 2003 was a big half year for cinema with big fight sequences: Matrix 3, Cold Mountain, and of course the final installment of The Lord of the Rings.  Probably some others that I'm forgetting.  Does Looney Tunes: Back in Action count?  I think people were a little bit burned out on this kind of thing, to say the least.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Next Stooge: Fuelin' Around


World War II is over and the Marshall Plan is re-building Europe... but there are some who are still pissed off.  Take Capt. Rork, for example.  He and his two thugs are spying on one Dr. Sneed, a rocket (fuel) scientist who has since changed his name and moved into the suburbs, the American version of the Garden of Eden.  They plan to kidnap him and take him back to Germany... I mean, the fictional country of Anemia... so that he may finish his new revolutionary rocket fuel, which Anemia will use as a stepping stone to... what else?  World domination.  From the hedges, they look in the window of the Professor's house and see Larry standing there, nattily dressed and smoking a pipe.  It must be Prof. Sneed.  "There's no mistaking that magnificent head of hair," sneers Capt. Rork.
As it turns out, the Stooges are putting in new carpeting for the real Prof. Sneed, played by the Fourth Stooge, Emil Sitka, who some have speculated looks a lot like Larry, so why not build a plot around that?  Sitka looks a little like Einstein in this one, however.  Anyway, the Stooge fun begins when Larry says "My men are hard at work on your carpet."  Moe objects.  Larry revises his earlier statement, but Moe still gives Larry the works, and hits him on the top of his head with a pair of scissors, and almost cuts the tip of his nose off when he guides Larry gracefully back to work.  Shemp's about to take a bite of sandwich when Moe tells him to go back to work.  Shemp gets hit in the head by a door when Christine McIntyre comes in, and has the nails in his mouth for lunch instead.  Shemp's about to kick the ass of the person who opened that door, when... why, it's the fetching Christine McIntyre!  Kill or pitch woo... just like a lightswitch.  Shemp's in woo mode now.  McIntyre is Sitka's daughter, and apparently she's just as smart as the father.  I heard that about Einstein's wife as well.  Sounds about right.  Sitka gives the Stooges a verbal nondisclosure agreement, which Moe agrees to abide by.  McIntyre acts sweetly towards Moe, and that seals the deal.  Moe starts swooning like Curly used to.  Moe seems to be missing his second premolar on the right side.
Larry's swooning on his own while working, which proves to be a little dangerous.  Especially for Moe.  Larry cuts right through the tip of Moe's shoe.  This is perverse to me for a few reasons, mostly because I don't believe Larry is strong enough or the scissors sharp enough to do that.  But it sure snaps Moe out of his reverie.  Can't argue with results!  Besides, that's what he gets for almost cutting Larry's nose off.  There's a crunching sound, and Moe screams in pain even though his toes are really okay.  Moe gets revenge on Larry by hitting Larry in the head with a hammer no less than thirteen times.  That's lucky!  I apologize.. that's twelve times on the head, and once in the face, and that one makes a gong sound.  The professor and McIntyre are leaving and Shemp follows behind... a little too closely.  Shemp gets his nose caught in the door.  Apparently, McIntyre won't stop trying to close the door, either!  Shemp pops his nose out of the door, making a champagne cork sound.  (See also: Pink Panther cartoons)
Moe goes over to Larry.  We stay on Larry, who clearly looks a little ticked off.  Moe goes over to Shemp and hands him the wrong end of a tape measure.  Moe stands next to the door and Shemp takes the tape measure to the other side of the room.  Moe is supposed to look at his end of the tape measure to get the correct distance, but it's probably against movie regulations.  Movie plot regulations, anyway.  No measurements or currency amounts.  That's how all the great scripts operate.  Future-proofing kinda stuff.  And so, Moe asks Shemp how many feet he has.  Shemp's answer: priceless.  For everything else, there's MasterCard.  "You skillet-head," exclaims an agitated Moe.  "GIMME THAT TAPE!" he says after that.  Shemp obliges, and Moe gets hit in the face with a giant cloud of measuring tape.
Moe's upset, but takes a different strategy for revenge this time.  He tells Shemp that they'll forget about it, so Shemp gets back to work.  Shemp's standing on an unsecured stretch of carpet.  Moe picks up the carpet at his end and gives it a good YANK.  Shemp ends up in A GIANT CRASH.  This may be the highlight of the whole film right there!  But every action has an equal and or opposite reaction, and Moe ends up smashing into the door after yanking on the carpet.  Fortunately for him, Sitka and McIntyre have geek stuff to attend to.  Gravity and Potential Energy are not finished with Shemp yet, as a vase on its side rolls off a shelf above Shemp and... CRASH!  Right on the head.  Shemp is close to the ground already, but the vase makes him collapse completely behind the chair.
Cross-fade to the bad guys outside, who plan on kidnapping the Professor (or Larry) as soon as one of them comes outside.  Wipe-fade back to the Stooges... is that even a term?  They use it in the Star Wars movies a lot, anyhow.  Larry and Shemp are hard at work putting tacks in the carpet, when Supervisor Moe notices this giant lump in the middle of the carpet.  Moe tries asking Shemp about it, but Shemp's too engrossed in his work.  Now, either Moe makes a fatal error in judgment... or it's time for America's Next Great Three Stooges Time Stretcher.  And.... THEY'RE OFF!  Moe decides to crawl under the carpet and investigate this lump himself.  Back to Shemp and Larry, busy nailing away.  And they've rounded the corner, and Larry and Shemp meet in the middle and finish the job of nailing in the carpet.  They stop before injuring each other.  They look over and see a huge person-sized lump in the carpet.  "Say, he wasn't kidding!  That IS a big lump!" exclaims Shemp.  Lawrence the Contrarian says "Aw, it's just a wrinkle.  Flatten it out."  Maybe it's just me, but I'm in the mood to skip over this part.  See also: similar scene in A Bird in the Head.
Moe is finally bourne anew from the carpet at about 4:27.  I guess any more than that would just be gratuitous.  "Hey Moe!  YOU was that lump!" says Shemp.  "And you'll be the next one!" says Moe, but they help him out just the same.  Moe heaps physical abuse upon his unders, first Shemp, then Larry, who he hits on the head with that same hammer from before, with the same cadence as before.  Cross-fade to next scene as Larry's beating continues..........


The Stooges leave the house, and they're very, very nattily dressed.  Just like they probably were in real life. Time for the baddies to strike.  The Stooges make it as easy as possible for them, too.  The Stooges go for a little stroll in the yard next to the hedges, walking in a straight line.  The order is: Shemp first, then Moe, then Larry.  Larry gets grabbed first, then Moe.  Street-fighter Shemp is a little harder to get, but the bad guys ultimately prevail in this game of tackle football for keeps.
Next scene: stock footage of a plane to Anemia.  If this were Indiana Jones, there'd be a map with stretching red lines.  And music, sweet music, there'd be music everywhere... sorry, got sidetracked again.  Doing too much at once again.  Damn you, Words w/Friends!!!  Then, there's a train.  Then, the Anemia town square... wow!  It's actually them!  Not just stock footage of a Jeep.  The Stooges are actually in it, and they pull up to the loading dock of a big brick building.  Larry says "Reminds me of the reform school!"  Oh, but his delivery's so wooden!  Surely, they slipped him a Michael Finn or some sort of Voodoo zombie drink with enough wasp venom in it to catatonicize a human porcupine!  Moe gives Larry a swift kick in the ass, but there's no big kick sound to signal it.  Larry stumbles.  "Did you stumble... PROFESSOR?" asks Moe, reminding him and us that Larry's supposed to be in character.  Shemp tries a clever trick to get away, but the Anemian guards weren't born yesterday.  No, there will be no "Charlie who walks like this" to save their kosher equivalent of bacon this time, I'm afear'd.
Commandant Dent walks by the Stooges.  The Stooges have a few lines, but are whisked away all the same.  Dent and Rork exchange pleasantries, and Dent presents Rork with a medal.  Rork informs General Dent that the professor's fuel will be ready in two or three days... or else.
Next scene: Moe's hitting the books.  "Elementary Chemistry" in English!  Great choice.  Moe is staring wide-eyed at the book; he seems to be freaking out a little bit.  Shemp wonders what the audience might be wondering at this point: why don't they just tell the Anemians that they've made a mistake, that Larry's not the real professor?  Professor Moe gives the other two a brief lesson in Logic 101: "Because they'll go back and get the real professor, and SHOOT US!"  The ruse must continue.  Alas, the truth will not always set you free, I'm afear'd.  Larry agrees, saying "It's our duty to posterior!"  I think Shaft said something similar to that.  Larry seems to be channeling Stan Laurel to a degree.  Larry walks away, and Shemp takes his place, and dumps some pyrogallic acid into the mix.  It's a powerful reducing agent.... like I need to tell you.  Their unholy concoction starts bubbling big time.  "If they put that in an airplane, something's bound to happen," posits Moe.  "GET SOME MORE STUFF!" he orders Shemp.
Shemp starts climbing the shelves to get more stuff, and in his haste he gets hit on the head by a vase-like object an unprecedented second time in the same pic.  This time, a giant empty jug.  Dazed, he returns to the floor and walks back over to the table.  He takes the funnel and, still dazed, puts it into Moe's sleeve instead of the bottle holding their brew.  Moe notices in the close-up shot.  Moe stands up and slaps Shemp, verbally admonishing him as well.  But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, which probably doesn't completely explain why Shemp knocks over the Stooges' brew.  We watch as the table catches on fire.  "SOMEBODY PUT THE FIRE OUT!" Moe exclaims eventually.  Larry... incidentally, where was he when all of this was going on?  Agitated, Larry grabs the smallest fire extinguisher he can find and runs to the fire.  "LARRY, C'MON!" growls Shemp.  Larry tries putting out the fire; unfortunately, it's not in Moe's face.
Alas, no time to eat, drink and beat Larry.  The concoction's the priority!  Moe gets a cork and puts a cork in it... the cork won't hold!  Their solution's producing too much gas.  The cork pops, sounding a little too much like the proverbial champagne bottle, and the cork lands in Rork's eye.  But Rork lets it pass, as there's rocket fuel on the line.  Moe sells it as best he can, and Rork is impressed.  The Stooges try to leave, but Rork stops them for a second.  He'd really like to have theat formula first!  "Oh, yes, the formula...." says Moe.  Moe relegates the job to Larry, who relegates to Shemp.  Shemp starts in on the double talk.  Ah, the double talk.  You know, it'd make a great YouTube mash-up... can someone else do it?  I have neither the time nor the place.
That seems to be going well, when suddenly... enter General Dent, and he doesn't look pleased.  Not pleased at all.  Does he know what we know?  If so, he doesn't say so at first.  Rork and the Stooges keep going.  Dent opens the door and motions to someone in the hall... oh, he knows.  Enter Sitka and McIntyre. Hoh boy.  The Stooges do what they often do in a situation like this: head for the nearest open window.  But the Anemian guards are one step ahead: one button push and DOWN GOES IRON BARS!
It's probably time for Act Three, but we've still got six minutes.  Dent threatens Sitka with death if he doesn't make with his formula.  McIntyre tries to help, saying "My father has a very poor memory."  Shemp helpfully says "DO IT TO JULIA!"... sorry, wrong reference.  He tries to make a joke out of it, but Moe hits Shemp with one of the guard's guns.  Pistol-whipped!
Dent knows the professor's valuable, so instead of killing him outright, he downgrades his punishment to a night in the dungeon.  Rork chews out the Stooges a little bit.  Then, Dent proceeds to strip Rork of his medals and accolades.  Right in front of the Stooges!  Is there an unlikely alliance in their future?  Oh, I believe so!


Cross-fade to a slightly different laboratory, where the Stooges are pacing back and forth in their regular clothes.  No lab coats this time.  Larry has a rare alpha moment.  They resume their pacing, and Larry and Moe have a collision that looks kinda real!  Moe's taken aback by it a little bit, anyhow.  God bless 'em, the scene goes on a little longer than it probably should have.  Lol.  Mercifully, we cut to Sitka and McIntyre in a jail cell.  The room that the Stooges are pacing in is directly above their cell.  Sitka has a rare dramatic moment when he says "I wish we could do something to help the poor fellows."  A posthumous Thalberg Oscar is perhaps in order?  Just then, a guard brings a tray of nourishment for the two prisoners.  At least Anemia abides by the Geneva Conventions.  The guard is Jock Mahoney, and I believe he was the guy who convinced Sally Field to do the damn Flying Nun show.  It's the Smokey and the Bandit movies he should've talked her out of, tee hee hee.  As in a previous Stooge short they appeared in together, this guard has a thing for McIntyre.  McIntyre motions to Sitka to try and grab the keys while she sweet-talks the guard.  She's probably laying it on too thick, but Sitka's not working fast enough, the old coot.
Sitka eventually gets the keys, and at just the right time, too, because Mahoney gets very bashful and starts walking away.  It's at this juncture that he proves himself to be an honorary Stooge when his head runs afoul of the dangling lamp.  He eventually collapses in the hallway, just out of sight, making a thunderous crash in the process.  Lol.
The Oppenheimers start to unlock the cell... but wait!  They can't leave the Stooges behind.  McIntyre starts tapping on their ceiling; the Stooges' floor.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  The Stooges listen to the message.  Moe eventually asks Shemp "What does it say?"  I'm sorry, but you're going to have to see it for yourself.  Another good idea for a YouTube mashup.  Could someone else get started on that, please?
After that doesn't work, McIntyre tries talking to the Stooges, saying that they have keys.  Larry squats down to the floor and says "We'll be right down!"  Moe lifts Larry up by the hair until he's standing up.  "How are we gonna get down there?" asks Moe.  Larry comes up with the idea of burning a hole in the floor with the "rocket stuff," as he calls it.  Brilliant!  Larry gets to work and pours a small amount of it in a ring shape on the floor.  He stands inside the ring, of course.  A few seconds later... plop goes Larry through the hole.  McIntyre consoles Larry's stunt double soon after.  Now you're probably asking yourself, aren't the Stooges prisoners, too?  Why aren't they in a jail cell?  Moe falls through the hole next, but he's proud and he does his own stunt on this one.  Screw the completion guarantee, the insurance men never watch these things, anyway.  This one's for the fans!
And now, it's Shemp's turn.  Alas, he doesn't quite make it down, as General Dent and an assistant grab Shemp before he can drop down.  A tug-of-war begins, much like over Sharlto Copley in District 9, more or less.  This ought to kill some time!  Shemp's neck gets stretched at this point, and he starts to sound like Popeye.  Fortunately, Dent's covering Shemp's face so you won't see the horrible, horrible expression on a man's face when his neck gets stretched like that.  Too, too gruesome.  "My NEEEEECKK!!!" he says.  Moe gets kicked a couple of times in the face.  Shemp eventually tells Dent and his guy to let him go, and he'll give up.  What goofs!  Shemp punches 'em both in the face for good measure once he's made it to "safety."


The quintet escapes the jail cell, but two thugs are waiting for them.  They all go back into the cell.  They then push the jail cell door open with such force that the two thugs get their heads caught in the surprisingly flexible iron bars.  Shemp goes back for the jug of "rocket stuff" and kicks the two trapped guys in the ass for good measure.
Next scene: outside.  They all pile into the Jeep from before, but wouldn't you know it?  It's out of gas.  What a shock.  "We're cooked!" complains Moe.  "Oh, no we ain't!" exclaims Shemp, their cartilage-less knight in shining armor with the jug.  Larry complains that it's not real gas.  "It may not be gas, but it packs an awful wallop!" says Shemp as he pours it in.  Moe happily pats Shemp on the head.
General Dent and his coterie show up and guns start blazing.  Fortunately, they're really bad shots.  Moe starts up the Jeep and out comes wallop #1, burning all the bad guys' clothes.  Not their underthings, of course.
The Jeep takes off.  Alas, Wikipedia doesn't know what set the Stooges got to use, but it's pretty damn impressive!  Fade to black.
Well, I seem to be a sucker for these Stooge shorts where they attack the Nazis or get kidnapped to a foreign country, or travel to a foreign country to get kidnapped.  Dutiful but Dumb comes to mind.  And with the ad hoc chemistry experiment, also a bit like Pardon My Scotch.  Hell with it: four stars.  Despite the lump in the carpet segment.  Which reminds me: always take up the tacks before you take up the carpet.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Popeye is a lousy fireman

I hate to say it, but you'll come to the same conclusion if you sit through this one.


"Adolph Zukor presents A Max Fleischer Cartoon."  The lettering's getting a little bit slicker now!  For some reason, the name Adolph isn't as common as it used to be... oh, right.
First scene: no Popeye opening theme.  Even Popeye gets tired of talking about himself.  Setting: the Thimble Theatre Volunteer Fire Department, where the clouds are rolling by, and Bluto and Popeye are side by side, waiting for a fire to break out.  Bluto is Company C, and he sings the Company C theme song while smoking his stogie.  Bluto then squeezes the water out of a metal cylinder onto Popeye's fire rickshaw.  Popeye sings his own theme song that doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything, let alone his beloved Company D.  He sings it with a slight Eastern European accent, then uses the fire hose like a giant party favour, hitting Bluto with it.  It's kind of a sight to behold!  Also, it's in "3-D" for the time.
Next scene: Olive Oyl's sprawling mansion, built by Big Tobacco, I'm assumpting.  Ironic, since Big Fire's about to try burning it back down again.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and tavy in between if you're lucky.  'Tis a bit of a comedy fire, and it chases Olive from window to window, trumpets blaring with each new unit it conquers.  Olive finally ends up trapped on the roof.
Fortunately for Olive, a rogue flame makes its way over to the Fire Alarm on the street corner.  Imagine that!  A fire calling the Fire Department.  Only in a cartoon, and maybe only ever in a Fleischer cartoon.  Well past time for Act Two.


Meanwhile, back at the lab... I mean, the fire station, Popeye and Bluto are about to pound the crap out of one another, when the alarms start ringing.  We see that there are two alarm bells.  Morale is so low at the Volunteer Fire Station that even the two alarm bells hate each other!
...AND THEY'RE OFF!  It's Bluto in the lead because they have to make a right turn, and Bluto's on the right side.  If they had to turn left, it'd be Popeye in the lead.  Popeye's galloping as fast as he can but can't seem to beat Bluto.  Boy.  People-powered fire engine rickshaws.  Olive's so screwed.  She's still stuck on the roof, by the way, flames lapping at her heels.  One of the busier flames burns Olive on the ass, and all the flames coming out of all the windows shake hands.  It's a comedy fire, you see.  Meanwhile, Popeye's catching up... he's catching up... HE'S TAKEN THE LEAD!  Hooray for Popeye, the one-eyed freak!
Alas, the race was kinda pointless.  The boys arrive at #17, and there's only one hydrant between the two of them.  They start setting up shop.  First, Bluto, who starts unwinding the entire hose.  He's mumbling worse than Popeye here!  Very disorientating.  Fortunately, Popeye's got a hydrant across the street, so he uses that.  The boys, of course, get into a pissing match over who hooks up their hose best to the hydrant... oh, skip it.
Now, I hate that villainous Bluto as much as the next guy, but you gotta hand it to him: at least he starts in on the fire first.  Okay, maybe he just won the coin toss.  Bluto goes to work on the closest window he can on the 2nd floor.  Well, it ain't Superman 2, and neither one of 'em's going to freeze a lake and take the ice and drop it on top of the fire... or was that Superman 3?  I'm just not interested enough to find out.  Anyway, try as he might, the fire becomes the proverbial lump in the rug.  Bluto aims for one window, and flames erupt from a second window.  Bluto moves the stream, and the fire changes windows.  Eventually, the fire starts erupting out of two windows, so Bluto puts his finger over the nozzle and shoots the water at both windows simultaneously.  Genius!  I used to do that kind of stuff as a kid when we didn't have a proper nozzle.  I don't water as much as I used to, these days... oh, well.  Wait; what were we talking about?
Anyway, as he often does, Bluto looks over at Popeye, as if to say "Try and top that!"  Cut to Popeye, whose fire hose has barely enough pressure to shoot water about half a foot.  Still too early to give it spinach, I guess.  Popeye looks up at the roof and flames are going by like targets at a shooting arcade.  Comedy fire, remember.  Popeye starts shooting the flames down.  In case the shooting arcade metaphor isn't clear, the flames start turning to ducks around this point.
That's about all Bluto can stand, so he starts spraying Popeye with the hose.  Popeye quickly sprays right back.  At about 3:38, an epic struggle rages.  And as StFidjnr of YouTube fame rightly points out, at about 3:43 or so, Popeye says "Push, push, push!"  Lol.  Actually, it sounds a bit like "A-push-a-push-a-push," but why quibble over details.  Bluto says "Oh, you think you're good, huh?"  I'm probably the only one, but I'm suddenly reminded of the fire engines in Gangs of New York.  Quite similar, if I remember correctly!
To cut to the chase, Popeye wins at about 3:47.  Bluto does not take this defeat at all well.  He's barely understandable, sounding a bit like a faulty fire hose... wait a second!  This animation looks very, very familiar.... SHOEIN' HOSSES!!!!!!  Oh, Fleischer... you let me down a little bit.  I guess since I saw Shoein' Hosses first, I prefer Bluto's lines in that one, but Bluto's lines here are just so strange that I like them just as much.  Also, they seem to have flipped, or mirrored the animation.
Cut to Popeye laughing.  Suddenly, we hear a scream!  It's Olive, still stuck on the roof.  Popeye springs into action and grabs a ladder off his fire rickshaw.


Popeye hooks the ladder to the top of the roof by scrunching it down and letting it fly, as if it were a spring.  And, apparently it is!  Climbing the ladder won't be so easy, especially with Bluto and his fire hose.  He knocks Popeye off the ladder.  Popeye never knew what hit 'im.  Well, fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me twice... how does the rest of that go?  However it goes, Popeye sez "You did that accidentally on poipose!" and charges at Bluto like a batter that gets beaned once too often by the pitcher and a stray ball.  But Bluto's ready for Popeye and hoists Popeye up by the neck with just the water from the hose.  I'm on Popeye's side, of course, but even Popeye would have to admit later on... that was pretty cool.  Not so cool, however, is the second part, where Popeye gets spun around by the water like a top... I guess that's possible.  Then, Bluto hits Popeye on the head with the metal hose nozzle.  Totally uncool.  No subtlety at all.
Back to Olive, still trapped on the roof, still screaming.  Victim of the modern age, poor, poor girl!  Bluto starts climbing the ladder, but the fire starts eating the ladder up behind him.  Shiver me timbers!  Bluto picks up Olive and starts to climb back down but sees that the ladder's gone.  Things go from bad to worse when the two of them are cut off by a wall of fire.  Now would probably be a good time for spinach.  He hoists up his gut and starts climbing the house.  Spinach is his safety gear now.  Strike up the band for Popeye the Sailor!  They start playing that song, see.  Instrumental version.
Popeye opens the fire as though it were a curtain, extracts Olive and Bluto, and politely puts the curtain of fire back into place.  He falls through the roof and carries the crispy duo out to the street.  He drops Bluto and is a bit more tender with Olive.  Olive comes to and is grateful.  And now, back to Bluto... oh boy, here we go!!  Popeye revives Bluto, dusts him off, stands him up and says "Are ya all right?"  Bluto says yeah.  That's all Popeye wanted to know.  A slight adjustment of Bluto's chin and.... WHAM!  Okay, maybe that was gilding the lily a bit, but Bluto had it coming.


"Popeye!  My house!" screams Olive.  Popeye puts out the whole burning house with one giant breath.  Now you might be asking yourself....................... ah, skip it.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur watch - Omowale Akintunde

Who?  Well, wherever he's from, he's the toast of New York now.  Akintunde's probably best known for something called An Inaugural Ride to Freedom, which sounds on the surface like something that might actually be a right-wing Trojan horse, but the plot description seems to suggest otherwise.  It's the tale of a group of university students preparing to attend Obama's first inauguration, or Get On The Bus: The Obama Years now available on DVD.  Having conquered the world of the documentary, Omo moved on to where the real money is: fiction.  And 2010's Wigger is the best he could do.  I'm not going to be the first to review it!  If it's not the story of Quentin Tarantino, then I can't handle the truth.  What next for Akintunde?  He's busy at the Avid cutting the sequel to An Inaugural Ride to Freedom, after which it'd probably be time for Wigger 2: White Boogaloo.  You give 'em hell, Omowale Akintunde, and take that apprenticeship with Jonathan Demme if he offers it to you.