Friday, October 31, 2014

Short Reviews - November 2014

Kill the Messenger - Boy, the CIA's the place to work.  Smear campaigns, making serious coin off the drug war... let me know if they disappear me, huh?

The Good Shepherd - Good double bill with... W?

Olive Kitteridge - I'd get HBO for you, Frances, but alas, my finances are in tatters

Big Driver - Apparently, the guy who hit Stephen King is not forgiven!

The Longshots - Hmm!  It's been a while since Fred Durst has directed anything... oh, no.  He's not going back to music, is he?  Good Lourdes.

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever - Now I KNOW I'm going to have my worst Christmas this year as well

Interstellar - DUDES.... IN..... SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE..............

City Slickers 2 - I hate to keep harping on the same subjects over and over... but can someone explain this to me?  You're Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner.  It's the '90s and the two of you couldn't be hotter, career wise.  You decide to greenlight the sequel to City Slickers.  Now it comes time to pick a director.  Well, Rob's too busy with other A-List projects, so who's next?  I got it!  How about the guy who directed Leonard Part 6?  I mean, what's the logic in that choice, other than he works for cheap and, after something like Leonard Part 6, he'll be easy to push around?  Was his stuff for British TV just that good?

Make Mine Freedom - This cartoon may have predicted the future 50 years ago... or 66, whatever... it's just not terribly entertaining.  Plus, it's a waste of Billy Bletcher, damn it!  A damn waste!!!  Also, unions in bed with government doesn't seem to have turned out as well for the unions as corporations in bed with government has for corporations.  But that's just my take on it.  I'm obviously no expert.

To Die For - I wonder if Mary Kay Letourneau ever just wants to break out of this marriage of hers... well, maybe.  She's back in jail again.  Oh, she's a bad girl, no question!  Been that way her whole life.  I'm guessing the Right Wing is against... hmm!  I wonder.  Maybe the Right Wing is split in two over this.  Half of them find the marriage abominable, and half think, well... every marriage is precious.  I mean, I myself have struggled with this for a long time, but I came to realize that marriage is a gift from God, even when it's that horrible situation of a teacher marrying one of their students.  It is something that God intended to happen.

Jersey Boys - Good triple bill with Beyond the Sea and Ray.

Impromptu - Good double bill with... Miss Julie?

Okay, I just finally looked again at that list of 18 films you will never, ever want to see again.  A lot of them I haven't even seen for a first time, so I guess I lucked out.  I think I would add Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer to that list.  Powerful filmmaking and violent in some surprising ways... but I think I got the point the first go-round.  Why, even the filmmakers themselves kinda thought so on the DVD commentary!

The Road - Ooh!  I wanna see that one sometime!  Well, what can I say?  Aragorn's in it.

Greetings from Tim Buckley - With Imogen Poots as Liz Fraser?  I haven't seen it, so I don't know

Annie (2014) - So we got this and the new Honeymooners movie, and the new Karate Kid... is this list too creepy?  I'm starting to creep myself out.  See, apparently the KKK keeps a similar list.  And yet, the new Arthur is still a white British guy.  Was Lenny Henry so busy?

How John Wayne Won the Thanksgiving Dinner

There's something fishy going on here.  Well, the Oscars were just starting out in the 30s and 40s... okay, 1927, to be a little more precise.  And somehow MGM's cartoon producer Fred Quimby had the inside scoop, as this is the fourth Tom and Jerry cartoon to win an Academy Award.  Ol' Freddy got eight golden statuettes total.  A lot less work than on features, right?  Boy, those were the days.  Nowadays it seems like the Academy voting block just goes with the most handsome title.  Of course, Pixar wants to corner the market on animated shorts as well.  It's the New York Yankees business model all over again.
As for The Little Orphan, well... this is the first Tom and Jerry that doesn't live up to the Oscar hype.  Sure, it's a fine and slick actioner and all, but metaphorically it's a little troubling at least and criminally negligent at worst.  Best not to think about it too much.  Best to think of it as a focus group-ed version of The Milky Waif.  After all, Nibbles seems to be the only name the filmmakers can think of to call a young hungry grey mouse.  Also, the focus group didn't seem to care for the proactive, downright robotic Nibbles of Waif, so this instant case Nibbles does a lot less running towards food.  NANNY STATE!
We start with a similar introduction: there's a knock on Jerry's door one night, there's confusion amidst the introductions, Jerry reads the note attached to the little brat, and then it's on a quest for food.  (Another aside: I am shocked!  Nothing about 'Bide-a-Wee Mouse Home' on the Wikipedia page!  NOW what am I going to do?!!!!)  Jerry's mouse cave is barren.  Dude doesn't even have any cookies!  For shame.  So, out into the house proper they have to go.  First stop: the cat's bowl of milk.  I kinda like how Tom has to do a double take to help him wake up.  Maybe he just dreamed that he saw two mice usurping his bowl of milk!  Yeah, that's it.  Welp, just to be safe, why not gulp the whole thing down in one big loud slurp.  Then, of course, back to sleep he goes.  A lone drop of milk runs down one of his whiskers, and Jerry positions Nibbles to drink it up.  Finally!  An actual example of trickle-down economics.  Much classier than the one Bill Maher talks about.
Well, that's all well and good, but you're probably asking yourself at this point, but Movie Hooligan!  Where's the blatant racism that seems to run through a lot of these Tom and Jerry cartoons!  We'll get to that in a second.  Let me just point out first that, unlike The Milky Waif, Tom's household in The Little Orphan is currently enjoying your proverbial seven years of plenty.  And, as the note on Nibbles' chest pointed out, it is Thanksgiving Day, and the African American maid has just placed the turkey upon the table, for the dinner with no guests.  No invited human guests anyway.  Is this the sequel to The Million Dollar Cat?  Did Tom get Alan Dershowitz to win his appeal?  Did he decide to move back to the country where a million dollars goes a lot further?  So many unanswered questions, so many botched metaphors, so much harder to enjoy the action.
Okay, so African Americans insulted... check.  The only thing left to do is insult Native Americans, seeing as how it's a Thanksgiving pic and all.  Well, they build up to it slowly, but the battle lines are starkly drawn when Jerry decides to help himself to the pilgrim hat on one of the small statuettes on the table, and Nibbles does the same.  Meanwhile, as Jerry is busy leading Nibbles around the table, Nibbles takes an interest in all the wrong foods.  When Nibbles runs afoul of an orange that proves harder to digest than it looks, Jerry helps Nibbles cough it back up by slapping him in the ass with a giant knife (flat side, of course).  Nibbles spits out the orange and it goes sailing... yup, right towards the cat.  The cat swallows the orange, much like the dog almost swallowed the Nelson Muntz fish of Cat Fishin' fame, but it's the cat, so naturally the orange has to stay put.  Tom sneaks up on the table, using that strategically placed feather duster.  Could it be?... yes, it could!  Just as live turkeys sat on the heads of Native Americans in all them Warner Brothers cartoons of old, so now does Tom don the feather duster upon his head and rises like an evil sun behind the innocent mice, who want nothing more out of life than to fill their little mouse bellies.  I hate to admit it, but I was kinda rooting for Tom this go-round.  This used to play on cable a lot in my ill-spent youth, and I had no appreciation for metaphor back then, but I seem to recall finding this clever at the time.  It's like that old folksy expression: first time's funny, second time's silly, third time's a spanking.  I'm at the point now where those little mice need a spanking.  Alas, it's just not funny, so it shall never be.
And so, there's the usual shenanigans, and the African American maid seems to have gone home for the evening, so it's time for chaos to reign.  But try as he might, Indian Tom just can't defeat the mice pilgrims.  I will just say this: the part where Nibbles stabs Tom in the ass with the fork, and there's the pause where Tom's face turns red just before he screams and jumps skyward... mwah.  Pure class.  (BTW, 'mwah' is the kissing sound when you do that Italian gesture, putting your fist to your mouth, then opening your hand like a flower.  Molto bella!)  I'll just cut right to the chase here.  Jerry launches a lit candle at the cat, and the candle lands at the base of the cat's tail.  There it sits, smoldering, a big pile of hot wax and fire.  Soon, however, all of Tom's fur is quickly consumed in flames, as though someone poured accelerant all over his fur... how do you spell 'accelerant'?  Apparently, that's not it, according to Blogger's infallible Shpellinggh Chequeckueur.  After that, it's the champagne bottle's triumphant return.  The bottle empties like your proverbial jet engine, and it's aimed for Tom, sending Tom across the room and into the china hutch at the end of the living room... there you go!  The Chinese are insulted as well.  I seem to recall seeing the part on TV where Tom goes flying across the room, powered by said champagne bottle, but on the DVD he's still dressed up like the racist caricature that the candle turned him into, so it must have been cleverly edited for television.  Oh well.  Probably for the best that I don't remember it.
EPILOGUE - Tom waves a white flag.  We just see his arm amidst a big pile of broken dishes.  He's just lucky the colored maid doesn't whoop his ass with a broom.  Incidentally, she didn't have any lines?  Figures.  They probably edited those out as well.  Anyway, we end up with the two mice and bandaged Tom sitting at the dinner table, praying before eating.  I don't know about you, but it seems a little disingenuous to me.  Maybe I'm just cynical.  The Truce Hurts.  How soon they forget.  And so, this ill-conceived Thanksgiving dinner is about to begin when... lo and behold, Nibbles springs into action.  Hunger deferred is hunger denied.  Nibbles jumps inside of the turkey and quickly strips the bones clean.  Clearly Nibbles is a metaphor for the Donner Party.  The cartoon ends with a close-up of Nibbles patting his swollen belly.  Digest it slow, kid, because you ain't the star of your own series yet!

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

I Hope So!

Our next Popeye cartoon is called I'll Never Crow Again and it's nothing if not fertile grounds for accusations of implicit racism and, at the end, rather explicit sexism.  But hey!  Flatland is still considered a classic in some circles, right?
I'll leave aside the discussion of racism, but I think the crows here are probably less racist than the crows in Dumbo.  They seem to be voiced by Jack Mercer, anyhow, and not by black actors... and the IMDb page for this backs me up!
Okay, on to the plot.  Olive's happily slaving away in her kitchen, doing the dishes.  She looks out over her vast garden, perhaps a Victory garden, as it was close to when those got fired up, historically.  Alas, all is not well in this garden of eatin', as we see crows happily slaving away over the ripe pickin's within.  One crow squeezes a tomato, but it doesn't make the right squeaking sound.  Frankly, this is somehow more insulting to crows than to any human being.  Crows aren't that picky!  Olive decides to call Popeye to help with her crow problem, especially after they start throwing some of her crops at her.  I'm surprised there's anything left after those two volleys.
The sexism starts in earnest with this phone call.  Olive apparently does too much talking over the phone.  Popeye's throbbing ears can't stand it.  Plus, they steal the gag from Helpmates!  Oh, you know the one... kewl!  They have it on YouTube!  And so, Popeye begins in earnest to chase away those crows.  Oh, but they're very ornery crows and don't scare away easily at all!  As you can see from the picture, the crow disassembles Popeye's scarecrow and puts on the outfit itself.  This leads to perhaps the flick's best line.  Olive starts to laugh at Popeye's failed attempts, prompting Popeye to quip, "Wimmin laugh at the funniest things."
I feel like keeping this one short.  To cut to the chase, Olive's laughing continues... ooh!  Almost forgot.  Once again, we get the spinach theme, but Popeye grabs a gun instead of spinach.  If you've just seen Flies Ain't Human, you can probably guess how it's going to turn out.  Popeye can't do it all, after all!  Popeye loses his temper and takes out his wrath on Olive.  He puts Olive up on the scarecrow pole.  Popeye gets his sense of humour back, and Olive's left up there, flailing about, her complaints muffled by her shirt, and look at her hair, for God's sake!  What a mess!  Guess how the crows react.  So not only does this insult women and African Americans, but the biggest insult of all is of course to the Christian community in the audience.  I mean, doesn't that scarecrow pole look a little too much like a crucifix?  Did Scarecrow die on the cross for our sins, or is Olive about to?  You know, maybe this one isn't so bad after all.

**
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Roy Campanella II

Well, the Hollywood Campanella dynasty is still going strong.  Maybe not as high-profile as Zanuck, sure, but you get a better class of groupies that way.  Well, now that Roy the Second has achieved his goal of directing one episode of every great television show of the last 30 years, he finally decided: why not give the ol' silver screen a try this time?  That's where The Company We Keep comes in, as opposed to Robert Redford's The Company You Keep, which he decided to make after he saw Running on Empty one night on TV.  I'm just kidding, of course; they're never ever going to show Running on Empty on TV ever again.  But there's one thing we can all agree on: Shia LaBeouf's a little brat who's too much of an A-Lister to start robbing banks.  But who knows?  Maybe the right role will come along and he'll want to give it a try.  You know, "research" the part.
Anyway, back to the instant case.  Let's see how Roy is connected to Spielberg.  Let me just check my output here...

Okay, Roy directed a couple episodes of a show called "Hooperman"
which also featured... DAVID SPIELBERG????!!!!!!!!!!!... ah, close enough.

Jake Brakes

It's the Week of the Gyllenhaal again as his latest, Nightcrawler, debuts at #1.  Seems like only yesterday that he was in End of Watch, another David Ayer one-take project that debuted at #1... but kind of disappeared after that.  This is totally different.  Of course, next weekend is the weekend of some rather serious heavyweights... the only two I can think of right now is Interstellar and Dumb and Dumber To.  Lord help you if you see both in the same day!
But you gotta hand it to Jake, as Nightcrawler is the only new film this week.  It made everything else shift down a notch.  And the latest from Nicholas Sparks is out of the top 10!  I thought it would be gone in three weeks!  Not good.  Nothing else of note, I'm afraid, but I just hope that David Fincher (Gone Girl) and Brad Pitt (Fury) stop fighting like this.  Benjamin Button 2, guys?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

There Has to be an Invisible Mouse, Bringing Hope to Every House

As you can guess from the title, the mouse finds its most potent weapon in the neverending game of cat and mouse in The Invisible Mouse.
We start as usual with an opening episode.  This time, the cat's got a nice bit of cheese round a piece of string.  The cat must have X-ray eyes or something because somehow it knows when the mouse gets close to the bit of cheese.  The cat's hiding around the corner, pulling on the string, bringing the mouse ever closer until... yup, the cat's ready and waiting to drop an iron on the mouse.  The cat just never learns.  The cat always underestimates the mouse's strength.  Basically, what happens is that the mouse moves the cat's foot into the path of the iron.  Iron hits cat, cat goes ow, mouse runs away.  I dunno; maybe I'm just not in the mood, or maybe I'm just impatient to get to the real heat of the ... get to the main part of the story.  But before the big Second Act, Tom has a little more fun with the mouse.  I actually looked up the term this time!  Tom gets a fireplace bellows and uses it on something other than the fireplace: Jerry Mouse.  Aw, look how happy Tom is.  Then Jerry hits Tom over the head with a plate.  Bye bye smile!
ACT TWO: And so it happens that Jerry runs past the "Chemo Set."  Makes you wonder where are all the people in these houses that Tom and Jerry are constantly fighting in.  Anyone other than the African American maid?  Anyone at all?  Well, it was during WWII and lots of people were working swing shifts at the factories and such.  Anyway, Jerry Mouse discovers the invisible ink after jumping into the bottle, and makes very very sure that the audience understands what's going on before diving completely into the bottle proper.  Apparently he was only half-way in the first time.
And so... let the grand invisible journey begin!  Oh, the world seems like a completely different place when you're stoned... I mean, invisible.  You know, I don't recall an instance off the top of my head when any of the Looney Tunes characters went invisible... Wile E. Coyote, maybe.  Why, I don't think even Tweety or Speedy Gonzalez ever had to rely on that.  Nothing against Jerry, of course.  And so, Jerry's exploration of the world as Invisible Jerry begins.  Why, look at how all this stuff seems to move by itself!  But before you go and think that it makes the animators' jobs easier, there goes Jerry under cloths and behind curtains.  Why, that's his outline!
And then, of course, the food.  I guess those are those old timey bon-bon type things.  As you can see, the animators are making the assumption that Jerry's invisible outer layer is making Jerry's internal organs and such invisible as well.  Well, this isn't Invisible Chevy or Hollow Man after all.
Now, dear reader, if you're like me, you're probably thinking of that song "Airplanes" by B.O.B., if only for its wish component.  After all, isn't being invisible nothing if not just a wish?  And what would you wish for if you could be invisible?  Run for elected office?  Win a pie-eating contest?  Walk on the moon?  Alas, our Jerry Mouse is a little more modest, as all he seems to want out of life, visible or in-, is to mess with the cat's head.  And boy!  Does being invisible do the trick in spades!  Tom's gone back to that hunk of cheese from earlier.  Well, Invisible Jerry eats it right in front of his eyeballs!  Tom is incredulous.  For his next feat of derring-do, Jerry takes Tom's iron (Tom's using the iron again) and drops it anew on Tom's foot.  The cat is psychically worn out from this ordeal, and all he wants out of life right now is to either have some milk or just find a nice quiet place to lie down.  Invisible Jerry takes away these two simple comforts in that order.  Tom ends up next to the piano, as that's where the fish bowl is, which he uses to cure his raging case of hot foot.  Invisible Jerry plays the piano.  Tom is scared anew.  An ode to The Concerto Cat, perhaps!
ACT THREE: TOM'S REVENGE - Damn!  Spoiled another surprise.  Anyway, Invisible Jerry enjoys a well-earned banana.  Now, this is where all nerds everywhere get a chance to scoff.  The invisible ink starts to wear off, and Tom can see Jerry's shadow, all big as you please, lunching away on a banana.  This is laughable at best and criminally negligent at worst... damn!  That phrase doesn't show up on Google yet.  Make it so, Colbert!  Anyway, at this point, I should give a shout out to my genius friend who once deconstructed the myth of invisibility with one flip of his genius switch.  It's a condensation of his Ph.D. dissertation, but it's basically this: in order to be invisible, you'd have to be blind and deaf.  For to be truly invisible, your eyes and ears would also have to be invisible, wouldn't they?  My current teacher does that a lot: "Well, you'd get this, wouldn't you?"  I mean, it would be kinda pointless if you were a set of eyes and ears walking around, right?... you'd be a trendsetter in burqa circles, of course.  But on to the cat's revenge.
After hitting the mouse with a large book, the ruse is over.  Tom is no longer impressed with the invisible mouse, but Tom does alter his thinking a bit, too!  Once in the kitchen, Tom gets the idea to sprinkle flour on the floor... well, he does overdo it a bit.  It takes a few seconds for the all-encompassing blanket of clouds to disappear.  Then Tom uses a bit of curtain to grab the mouse.  Tom tries to isolate the mouse in the curtain, then proceeds to hit the mouse over and over, again with a book... or so Tom thinks.  The mouse manages to escape, past Tom's fist, and Jerry heads over to the golf club bag.  Again, the strength of a human in a mouse.
Now, sure, Invisible Jerry could probably eliminate the cat with the golf club, but that's not what a Movie Hero does.  A Movie Hero does the classy thing and play a sneaky game of arbitrage.  Enter the bulldog.  To cut to the chase, Jerry hits the bulldog with the golf club, driving the bulldog through the floorboards of the porch.  Jerry then places the club in Tom's paws.  Arbitrage complete.  And so, the dog, a bit pissed off, keeps hitting Tom with the golf clubs, and off they go into the proverbial sunset.

EPILOGUE: There's just one last bit of business to take care of, and that is: how to undo the effects of the invisible ink?  Well, a little chocolate milk will take care of that, of course!  Now, why does that work and not all the bon-bons, for example?  Well, I think the answer is, because it's the end of the cartoon.  It's the only argument that makes any sense.

***1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Wrong Stuff.... The very VERY Wrong Stuff

Maybe I'm just in a rush this week, but Pest Pilot is ... meh.  Still, there's a couple points worth noting.  So let's note those!
Well, first of all, the famous Popeye doors have disappeared before... I think.  But they're gone for good this time!  It's almost as though they were prepping these to be shown on that new invention called TV.  It's framed much like the Famous Studios Popeyes and, to a lesser extent, the Gene Deitch ones.
But back to the plot.  It's a pretty simple setup, really.  Popeye the sailor has apparently grown tired of boats and now wants to try out this new invention called a plane.  I guess that's not hard to imagine.  Well, they were relatively new way back then, and constantly being improved and further weaponized.  Of course, Popeye's a mere humble artisan in comparison to, say, McDonnell-Douglas.  We see him "whittling" a propeller out of a big ol' hunk of wood.  Quaint in a way!
But then... life gets in the way.  Reminds me of the time Bart Simpson got into that book called "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Pre-Teens."  Lisa balked at the phrase "time vampires," I believe it was... forgive me!  I stand corrected.  "Time burglar."  I must have vampires on the brain or something.  Probably alone on that, too.  What I was trying to say is that, as you can see from the snapshot, Pappy comes in, making annoying plane noises, no less.  Ah, family.  Well, it's the old case of "Monkey See, Monkey WANNA Do" in this case.  Pappy wants to get in on the ground floor of this fun.  "I wanna be a pilot!" he tells Popeye.  Similar thing happened in that one where they're building boats... oh, crap, I gotta look it up myself, don't I?  My Pop, My Pop it's called!!!  Pappy, once again, is too old to be young enough to be flyin' planes.  Everything's a young man's game these days... back then, too.  Popeye tries to convince Pappy the answer is no, and gets some help from a sign on the wall.  I think this is supposed to be a joke: the sign says, amongst other things, that pilots have to "see well and look good."  You mean, like, be photogenic?  That might rule out some talented pilots!
But Pappy's not giving up yet.  He's got some engraved images of his own to use as proof.  He takes out a couple pictures from his wallet.  Popeye laughed at them, and damn it, I did too.  Popeye gets so annoyed at Pappy's persnickety persistence that he shuts himself inside of a plane.  Pappy decides to try some waterworks to change Popeye's mind.  Alas, Pappy chuckles to himself a little too long and a little too loudly.  Popeye catches it and kicks Pappy out of the hangar.
ACT TWO - Oh, this is so an act break.  Normally, this would be the part where the character drifts off to sleep and has a dream, and gets what they want that way... but it comes with a price!  Nothing less than YOUR MORTAL SOUL.  MWAHAHAHAA... Anyway, Pappy accidentally kicks the propeller of a plane next to him there on the tarmacadam, and... lo and behold!  It starts!  Well, time to climb inside and take off!  Cue the series of plane-related gags!  Pappy punches a hole in a cloud, flies out of a subway entrance, melts an igloo, what have you... boy!  I think they've finally insulted every ethnic group at this point!  Of course, after Pearl Harbor... hoh boy.
And so, Pappy's been around the world in this plane by now and done everything except give the Egyptian Sphinx a mustache, but everything ends up back where we started, at Popeye's Plane Ranch... I'm sorry, his air conditioned airport.  BTW, love that sign out front: "Airplanes is the safest thing in the world."  Yup, them and lawn darts.  And so, having traveled the world in an "air-boat," it's time for his greatest feat of piloting yet: hanging on to the plane as it tries to leave Earth's gravitational pull.  Pappy turns around and sees the whole damn planet fading away fast... boy!  Check out the North Pole and Antarctica.  Were they ever so tall?  Man, global warming's done quite a bit of damage!  Pappy crawls back into the cockpit and plummets back to Earth.
ACT THREE - Scene: Popeye's cleaning up in the locker room, when Jack Mercer's regular voice comes over the P.A. system and says "Attention!  Attention!  Whiskery old man in runaway plane is about to crash!"  The voice messes with Popeye's head a bit, as often happens in comedic short films like this, but then he runs out to see if it's true!  Did Pappy crash and burn?  Is he hurt?  The spinach music plays, but there is no spinach today.  Not this day.  Popeye looks through the rubble of the downed plane.  I've never heard him so verklemt before, and I don't like it!  ...oh, wait.  There's Pappy hanging off that water tower off to the left.  Hah!  The animators took the easy way out and just used one cutout of a water tower, and moved it Terry Gilliam Monty Python style.
EPILOGUE - Now that Pappy's safe, Popeye reprimands him anew.  Pappy cries anew, but his tears are real this time.  Popeye relents and makes Pappy a pilot... or does he?  I'll let you decide... okay, I'll just go ahead and spoil the surprise.  At first, it looks like Pappy's flying, but it's just an extreme close-up.  We pull back to see that all Pappy's piloting is a riding lawn mower.  They used the same gag in Car-Azy Drivers, at the very least.  Love that lame-ass Popeye cartoon... and besides!  Spider Man stopped a train the same way in the second one!

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Ed Cambridge

Sadly, Mr. Cambridge has passed on to Director Heaven, where all the assistants have wings.  But if they're incompetent, like if they screw up the morning coffee or the afternoon coffee, the director gets to clip said wings as punishment.  Now I hate to sound like a Name-ist, but like Martin Scorsese was going to be a priest, Mr. Cambridge was originally going to be a famous scientist with articles in peer-reviewed journals, but you know how it is.  Some smart-ass third grader knows about Cambridge School and the taunting begins.  Then the guidance counselors start going "Your name is Cambridge and you're applying to Stanford?  What's wrong with you?"  Even the principal doesn't know what to do with you!  "This is the third time this week you've come to see me in my office!  You're a Cambridge.  Act like it!"  Clearly, Show Business was calling.
As it happens, two episodes of 227 was all the directing that Cambridge could handle, so he focused full bore on his first love, acting!  And it got him practically in Spielberg's director's seat.  He was in Deep Cover with Jeff Goldblum who starred in ... something.  I forget which.

Halloween Returneth

Which reminds me.  Maybe it's just that it took place in a school, but School is Hell was probably the best Simpsons Halloween thing in a while.  As for the return of the original 1987 Tracey Ullman shorts Simpsons, well... no!  We must never speak of that connection!  Here come the lawyers... okay, let's focus on the box office.  That Ouija movie debuts at #1, and probably got a D+ from the A.V. Club.  Time to do some reporting... C-!  Wow!  They must've gotten a check.  The Ouija board must be a Hasbro property now.  At #2 is Keanu Reeves' latest called John Wick.  No wonder he recently complained publicly that there's a lack of bodacious leading man roles for him out there in Californication land!  Time to start playing father roles, dude.  Well, I don't know where all this talk of Bill and Ted 3 is coming from, but it ain't on his IMDb page yet.  Alas, sequel fever is more of a '90s phenomenon.  And you know whose fault it is?  Richard Donner with his Lethal Weapon 2, that's who!  So fewer egos involved than on Godfather 2, that's for sure... hey look!  The 'o' is a gun barrel!  I git it.  Well, he's good, but he's no Jack Reacher.
The only other debut this week is something called St. Vincent, which debuts at #6 after three weeks.  It's the underdog story of the week, if not the year!... oh, right.  It's Bill Murray's implicit sequel to Broken Flowers, only more awesome!  Der!  Even Bill wants some of that Melissa McCarthy magic, not just Sandra Bullock.  Well, Melissa seems to have less ego than Rosie O'Donnell, but I guess that happens when Judd Apatow and not Madonna takes you under his wing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jerrywatch

...dang!  That's a rather bootylicious "cat."  Anyway, I've fallen behind schedule again, so time to play some quick catch-up... Ah, the beach.  Is there any more reliable setting for a cartoon?  The Aardvark went there in Dune Bug.  And the Pink Panther went there in... I believe it's called Come on In!  The Water's Pink.  That'll have to be the next series I profile, most definitely.  But once upon a time, Tom and Jerry went to the beach!  Apparently, the cat is the lifeguard of the beach... we'll leave behind for now the logical inconsistencies and philosophical implications of that for now.  I mean, for God's sake!  A cat going into the ocean.
As you can see from the picture, distractions abound at the beach.  As a lifeguard, you can't allow emotions to cloud your judgement.  But after a brief commentary about man's impact on the environment (... and this is 1947, for God's sake!  And for all you right-wingers out there, translate that as "an early dose of left-wing tree-hugging propaganda."  Get Paul Robbins to put a positive spin on it) Tom takes some time out to flirt with the purty girls with food.  Now, the IMDb plot descriptions claim that this is Tom's girlfriend Toots, but I still say that this is where they first met.  She's arguably a bit stand-offish, and Tom falling into the garbage can, well... don't all male-female relationships start off like that, girls?  He crawls out of the gutter, brushes himself off, then lays on the charm... It's called Lady and the Tramp for that very same reason!  To augment insult upon injury, Tom just up and helps himself to all of Toots' food.  Well, she was on a diet, anyway.  And then, just as Tom's spell is almost complete... SPLAT!  In the face with a tomato.  Reminds me of that moment in What About Bob? where Dr. Leo Marvin is practicing in the mirror and he hears "$#!t FOR BRAINS!" coming from the adjoining room.  An apt comment, to be sure, but apparently it wasn't for him.  Similarly, the tomato wasn't deliberate... it's just that greedy little mouse rummaging through a pick-a-nick basket for the good stuff.  He's found the T, but where the f... heck is the B and the L?  Prosciutto will just have to do in this caloric emergency.  And then... well, the insults begin straight away.  Jerry gives Tom new hard-boiled egg eyes with olive irises, and then Jerry takes about four or five small bites out of Tom's finger.  Well, it's funny because they're like the bites he took out of the celery stalk!  No, really!  It's good.  And so, the chase begins in proper.
Tom goes to where the mouse disappeared, reaches in and pulls out... an angry green crab.  Man!  What's the deal with that guy?  I mean, Tom's the de facto lifeguard, right?  Show some respect!  No, that green crab's one mean, little feisty bastard.  The Pink Panther ran afoul of a similar creature in... I forget.  And so did that Jerry Colonna-esque worm in... oh, I forget that two.  Damn!  I'm oh for two today.
Enemies are everywhere.  The worst one yet: an overly zealous beach umbrella that traps Tom like a Venus Flytrap engulfing a fly.  But the green crab's not pleased with that little rat either, but snap as it might, it can't seem to hit the little light brown devil.  Jerry plays a mean game of arbitrage and gets the crab to attack the cat anew.  But Jerry loses his battle with a bottle of Coca Cola, if nothing else.
I seem to remember this one best from Smitten Kitten.  Oh, Salt Water Tabby has got highlight reel written all over it, no question... but back to the food.  This Tom and Jerry cartoon takes a page out of the old Stooges playbook... seriously?  You're really going to go there?  Yes they are, when Jerry slips an oyster shell into Tom's sandwich.  Tastes like Southern Comforter!  My favourite moment, though, is definitely the part where Tom eats the banana that Jerry managed to get himself involved in.  Worth the price of admission all by itself.  After that, again with the umbrella.  Well, Jerry's at least willing to get himself trapped in it as well.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the mouse's last deception.  After running afoul of the soda bottle, Jerry dresses up a wooden post in the water as a drowning victim.  Jerry screams and splashes the water to complete the effect.  Isn't it a felony to deceive a lifeguard?  But it all balances out because there's a lesson for lifeguards here as well: when you save your victims, don't jump directly on top of them.  In this case, don't land on them head first, either!  That'd be a tough one to plan out, anyway.  Not in the realm of cartoons, of course.  Anyway, for the final act... I mean, Final Act... Tom runs afoul of a giant beach balloon.  Kind of like Come on In!  The Water's Pink, but the gag in that one was a little better.  I'm hesitant to call Salt Water Tabby an out-and-out classic, but at least it doesn't end with the mouse getting the cat's girl!  That's just wrong.

***1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

My God! Dr. Spock!

I don't know why, but I'm just a sucker for the old-fashioned family values in a motion picture.  But I'm not the only one; how else can you explain the success of Home Alone?  I know Kevin Smith thinks it was all a deal with the devil, but you gotta hand it to Chris Columbus: at least he knows a little something about entertainment.  As for Popeye, well, he seems to be going through a lean spell.  No spinach, no Bluto, no Olive... what's left?  Well, we got Popeye, Swee'Pea and Poopdeck Pappy.  And as Child Psykolojiky demonstrates, sometimes that's enough.
We start with an hilarious game of poker... it is poker, isn't it?  Poopdeck Pappy's clearly kicking Popeye's ass (note the large mountain of chips next to him), but Popeye manages to maintain his dignity, and Poopdeck Pappy manages to conceal at least two of the ways he's cheating.  But then, fate intervenes... I mean, Li'l Swee'Pea starts crying.  Time for a war of parenting philosophies.  Poopdeck opts for the "good lashing" route, but Popeye calms Swee'Pea down with a story... a mangled story about George Wash-linkin.  To cut to the chase, Swee'Pea is thrilled by the story.
Oh, I should probably mention that Popeye manages to mention the part about chopping down the cherry tree with an ax.  Personally, I think Sesame Street did it much better, don't you folks?  Then, Popeye gives Swee'Pea a tiny ax to play with.  Now that's about as liberal of parenting as you're going to get, on screen or off, isn't it, folks?  Swee'pea's first act with ax?  Well, he chops the floor out from under Poopdeck Pappy, and Poopdeck plummets to the basement in a mighty crash... smart kid!  "Who done that?" asks Poopdeck.  Swee'pea happily points to the ax and to himself.  But just before Poopdeck can strangle that brat, Popeye defers to the "Child Psykolojiky" book of the title's fame.  As you can see from the pic, except for any visually disabled readers out there, the book says "When a child does wrong but tells the truth, HE should be rewarded."  We'll just skip the part about "Also an explanation of what he has done that is wrong."  Boring stuff.  Popeye declares his intention to venture out into the world to bring back spices from India, and a reward for li'l honest Swee'pea, our 49th President.  Which leaves Pappy and Swee'pea alone together.  Time for chaos to reign!  Literally!
...of course, I learned about the Hesperus and its resulting wreck from The Ducksters, but anyway, to cut to the chase, good thing Popeye gets home in time before the whole house turns into the house of Helpmates or Flies Ain't Human.  Why, even the most hardcore safety-conscious NRA member has to like the part where Swee'pea ends up using a shotgun as a pogo stick.  I hate to spoil it, but Popeye believes Pappy when he says that it's all Swee'pea's fault.  Swee'pea takes Pappy's bitter lessons and uses them against him, and twists Pappy's arm behind Pappy's back until he screams "Uncle!" and the truth.  Popeye gives Swee'pea the reward ... which Swee'pea in turn hands to Pappy?!  Dayamn.  That's some Yoda-level $#+.  Well, it's basically the adult way of saying "Nyaah nyaah."  I'm more mature than you!  Nyaah nyaah.  God bless the dysfunctional Popeye family.

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Noel Callaway

Another young Hollywood sprout, so to speak.  Three titles under his belt.  My software's acting up again, but so far I think your best bet is to stick with Terri J. Vaughn, as she has connections to Tyler Perry, the new black Spielberg!  Okay, let's see what the software came up with...

Terri J. Vaughn was on the show E.R. ...the big George Clooney one, not the 1984 one called "E/R" with Sheinfeld... I swear to God!  That's the character's name!  Anyway, she was on E.R. with...

...DAVID Spielberg?!!!!!  What is this?  ...ah, close enough.

Fight Club

Ooh!  I almost forgot.  I was at the gym recently, and every once in a while they risk trying a new channel on one of the giant TVs suspended from the ceiling.  One of them unfortunately caught my eye.  I thought to myself, hey, is that Newt Gingrich in an infomercial?  No, it was a quasi-documentary on a channel called Newsmax TV.  I guess that's how you know a website has made it, when it becomes a TV channel... normally.  Well, you gotta hand it to those Koch brothers.  They're finally putting up a little cash to compete in the big media game.  Still, I can't help but think of what the evil studio head said in The Big Picture: "If kids want to see 40 year olds they go home and look at their parents!"  Well, in Newt's case, if they want to see 70 year olds they'll go visit their grandparents.  Of course, Newt's house might be a-rockin', so don't go knockin'.  But I digress.  Does Fury come out this weekend?  Is Rusty Ryan really going to duke it out with Virgil Malloy's older brother?  Really?  Seriously?  This is going to happen?  Is that combination of "Really?" and "Seriously?" being overused by your hipster boss yet?
Anyway... oh, I almost forgot again!  I'm up to eleven followers now!  Very nice.  I should probably try following a blog at some point, see what it gets me.  Anyway, on to the box office totals.  IMDb's on top of their game this week!  Well, Gone Girl does it again!  Three weeks at... oh, wait, it's the Brad Pitt WWII pic at #1, and it's called Fury.  Alas, it's not the long-awaited imaginary sequel to Inglorious Basterds, but rather the latest David Ayer pic.  Not David S. Goyer, he's the superhero guy.  I wanted to post a link to Taran Killam doing Brad Pitt on SNL, but I'd have to go to Hulu for that, apparently.  Oh well.
Yes, even David Ayer grows weary of the grimy modern age of douchebaggery.  He got into Oscar territory with Training Day, but if he wants to get a gold statue of his own, only a period piece will do.  And why not World War II?  And sure, you're asking yourself, hasn't that been done to death already?  And not just by Steven Spielberg?  I mean, between Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, the Indiana Jones movies, Band of Brothers and The Pacific, surely there's some missing angle that hasn't been covered?  Well, that's where Ayer's movie comes in.  However, the A.V. Club didn't give it a good grade, and that's all I need to know.  Then there's Shia LaBeouf... yeesh.  On to the other debuts of the week!
There's Nicholas Sparks' latest called... well, who cares about the title, really?  It's Nicholas Sparks!  He's the new Stephen King, only his stories are like way scarier.  Now I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, but The Movie Hooligan!  It's a long time between Tyler Perry joints.  Can we get some bruthas up in this bitch?  Well, Sparks has heard your slightly racist cries, and he has obliged.  How about Clarke Peters as Morgan Freeman? ... I mean, Morgan Dupree?  Is that black enough for you, muthaf... ?  Okay, we'll throw in one chick as well: Donna Duplantier as Dr. Charbonneau.  Ooh!  She was in Benjamin Button, no less!
And our last debut is another Pixar wannabe called The Book of Life.  How pretentious can you get?... I mean, oh!  Guillermo del Toro's involved!  Okay, maybe it's better than Hoodwinked.  I mean, I know it is.  Probably better than Pixar!  Please forgive me!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

United 'Nuckleheads

Go figure!  Even a seemingly Isolationist kingdom like Tom and Jerry gets tired of the same old formula and looks to international politics for ideas.  Sure, it was three years after the end of World War II and the forming of the United Nations, but the world was a little slower to absorb such changes back then.  I mean, really absorb them.  Yes, it was a simpler time before television... a discussion I'll save for later.  Besides, I'm no Marshall McLuhan.
So let's dive right in to The Truce Hurts.
We start as usual with a big fight.  Crashing, objects thrown, what have you.  Alas, this can't be the whole cartoon, so eventually the players emerge.  The mouse runs out of the house and exits Stage Right.  Tom gets thrown out and hits the pole at the top of the stairs... you know, those wooden columns on a porch?  What's the term for... anyway, Tom picks up a frying pan and chases the mouse.  The dog comes out with a baseball bat!!!  He follows the cat and mouse.  And so, we get a perpetual violence machine.  The threesome stand in front of a garage door, that emblem of the American suburbs' most venerated post-WWII institution, and bash each other with their respective implements.  Jerry the mouse has a hunk of pipe and hits the cat in the leg.  The dog is to the left of the cat, but just can't seem to hit the cat in the head with that bat.  The cat clearly gets the best of the arrangement, hitting both the dog and mouse with his frying pan.
ACT ONE - Clearly the dog doesn't like this arrangement, and is such a whiny baby that he has to fall back on a time out... something like that.  But the dog does have the big idea, and is a persuasive debater, even convincing Jerry the mouse that cats can get along with mice!  Damn, he's good.  And thankfully, even though the dog says "Let's bury the hatchet!" this is not taken literally... not like an Itchy and Scratchy, anyway!!!!  And so, soon after, the peace treaty is drafted and signed by all three.  Note the last part carefully: "Whosoever breaks the treaty is a stinker"... nope, better get it right.  "With this truce we won't tinker... the one who does is a STINKER."  And once again, the dog is voiced by Billy Bletcher, perhaps one of the greatest voices in animated cartoon history... second only to Mel Blanc, of course.
ACT TWO - By inferrence, then, apparently the world is a stinker.  For, just like the world in ... what's that one I just saw where Popeye tries to keep the world asleep for Pappy... damn.  Had to check the blog again.  Just like the world in Quiet! Pleeze, the world grinds on blissfully unawares of what one or two or three cartoon characters decide.  In a stroke of genius, we see a sunrise of average beauty, and one teeny flower break off and float into the room.  The flower gets sucked up by Tom.  Is this the end of the treaty already?  Will he turn on his friends... oh, apparently not.  Nope, the truce holds firm.  The threesome are sleeping side by side by side.  Each wakes up separately, and carefully and tenderly tends to their neighbors.  The dog quiets the alarm clock and gets up to make breakfast!  Is this going to be like Porch Pals and those other Itchy and Scratch cartoons that made all of Springfield's children lose interest and go outside to play?
Well, the signs of unrest are everywhere, to be sure.  When the dog wakes up to go make breakfast, he props up Tom's head with... a pipe?  Really?  Seriously?  A tobacco pipe... not like the hunk of pipe Jerry was using earlier to raise bruises on Tom's leg.  I guess a tobacco pipe is... slightly better!  I guess it's payback for Cat Fishin' when Tom propped up the dog with a tiny stick.  Sure, it held until the dog almost swallowed the Nelson Muntz fish, but still.  And the way Tom is brushing Jerry's teeth is a little passive-aggressive, wouldn't you agree?  Even if you're not one of the Creepy Police's stormtroopers that seem to be everywhere on the web?  Also, does it make me a bad person to laugh at it when the cat and mouse help the dog into his chair?  I thought so.
And so, a bottle of milk is opened.  Ah HAH!  MGM's borrowing WB's sound effects!  Oh well.  WB owns all these now, so it's all good.  The unequal distribution of milk resources doesn't lead to the treaty being broken, and there are no signs of a buildup of enmity.  I guess that's good.  The mouse gets as much milk as the cat, for f.. God's sake!  After drinking the milk, the threesome shares a toothpick... just go with it.  I know, I know, it's not chicken.
And so, the real test of the truce begins.  Time to put on my lawyer's hat... most of you might want to skip this part.  Here's the whole text of the treaty:

The Dog, the Cat and Mouse agree...
To live together peacefully
With this Truce we won't tinker
The one that does is a STINKER

...and so, out goes Jerry into the stinking world of no law and order.  We find a no-account cat picking through garbage cans in the alley near the venerated House of Peace... actually, the buffet looks pretty good!  Well, you know how it is.  Movie stars only get to play in sanitized movie trash.  No errant nails or hypodermic needles here!  ...are those olives?  Dang, but I must be hungry.  Should've brought that swag from my car inside... ANYWAY!  The cat has made a plate out of a garbage can lid.  Note the arrangement of food on it; it comes into play later, in a stroke of genius.  This cat sees the mouse waltzing along as big as you please... and immediately grabs the mouse and puts it on its "plate."  You know, what a normal animated cat would do.  No time for batting it around a bit first, this cat's hungry and needs its protein.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, Tom gets scared from the porch and intervenes and saves Jerry's life... I know, you're way ahead of me.  CLEARLY this treaty isn't long and complicated enough.  No provisions for the world at large.  If the other cat were to sue for damages... and after hitting itself on the head with a brick after seeing Tom brush off Jerry and give him a big kiss, he might be tempted to... the treaty probably wouldn't hold up in court.
Next rogue interpretation of the treaty: Tom the cat finds himself in a rather similar situation as the mouse was just in, spoiler alert.  There's a no-account dog gnawing away on a bone, all big as you please... hey!  Isn't that the dog from The Counterfeit Cat that gets his headpiece ripped off?  Go figure!  Not as big a role here, alas.  The dog sees the cat, throws the bone away, and proceeds to turn Tom the cat into the feline equivalent of an unroasted pig, replete with curled tail and apple in mouth.  Clearly, it's a dog-eat-cat world out there.  Butch AKA Spike gets scared from the porch, and intervenes and saves Tom's life... fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your POV.  But for those of you waiting for that Tom and Jerry brand of violence, this new dog provides it.  Butch gives the other dog such a zetz under his chin that all of its teeth fall out.  Sure, that's bad, but at least they fall out in order.  Which is good!  Next, that darned apple.  And clearly the filmmakers were influenced by that Laurel and Hardy classic, The Hoose-Gow, and Stan's apple troubles.  Tom's still got that darned old apple wedged in his mouth!  Using no finesse, Butch pokes the apple into Tom's mouth and it ends up in Tom's throat.  Tom tries to swallow the apple, but somehow he just can't get it past his shoulder blades.  Ah, I just can't wait for Cue Ball Cat.  Alas, we're cheated out of a freaked-out reaction from the other dog.  What is all this craziness?  A dog taking care of a cat?  And not eating it?  Well, Butch/Spike's always been that way, really.  Butch just gets mad at Tom, and I don't think Butch would ever actually eat Tom, but that's just me and my boring interpretation of it.  Guess I'm just a VeggieTales kinda guy deep down.
ACT THREE - Now, where would a Tom and Jerry cartoon be without a horrible racist stereotype?  Well, your prayers have been answered!  ...okay, it's not in the online version, but if you've got the DVD, you get to see the yellow meat truck drive by and splash mud on the threesome, which turns them into... what else?  Colored gals!  I'm just naïve on the history of that one.  I guess the white filmmakers didn't want to just offend black men all the time.  Why not black women as well?  Anyway, let's move on.  We follow the meat truck a bit longer and... yup, the back of it is open a bit.  Quite a bit, in fact.  And... yup.  Out comes a package.  The threesome gathers round it.  The dog unties the string and... yup.  The biggest, reddest steak in the world unfurls right before their eyes.  Finally!  A real test of the treaty.
We cut right away to the steak having been cooked and placed on the table.  The dog draws dividing lines on the steak with chalk.  You can probably guess where this is going.  I was going to say that it ends much like The Fighting 69½th, but good luck finding that on YouTube.  Good luck finding it on the web in general!  My hyperlink will help a little bit.  Alas, the mosquitoes in Of Thee I Sting don't get to fight over the spoils of war.  For mosquitoes, human flesh is the spoils!
And so, with the steak gone down the impartial sewers, spoiler alert, Butch gives the treaty its last bit of respect by tearing it up and getting back to the fighting.  I guess that makes our threesome a trifecta of stinkers!  I guess some things never change.  Why, they're even beating each other up in the same way!  It's like that old story of the guy hitting himself in the head with something heavy and tough.  His reasoning?  Well, it just feels so good when he stops.  Cartoon characters beating each other up with heavy implements hurts, but apparently the truce hurts even more.
I seem to recall seeing this once on one of Ted Turner's channels, just before Cartoon Network got up and running.  Of course, it's all animé and Adult Swim and Genndy Tartakovsky now, but once upon a time classics like The Truce Hurts were on television.

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Next Popeye: Olive's Birthday Present... FORGIVE ME!!!!!! I mean, Olive's Boithday Presink

You down with O.B.P.?  Yeah, you know me!  You know, I don't think they've celebrated Olive's boithday yet!  So if any of your Christian friends tells you that Popeye cartoons have no family values, well... there's all the proof you need!  Why, Popeye even sings about it at the beginning, forgoing his usual theme song.  No royalties to the Hills this time, alas.
While on his way down the street, Popeye stops at Geezil's Furrier.  For those of you who don't know the various characters in the Thimble Theater... well, count me among your ranks.  But I do know this: Richard Libertini must've studied this cartoon when preparing for his role in the 1980 incarnation of Popeye... called Popeye.  Gee, I hope Geezil's not supposed to be a Jewish stereotype, but I suppose he is.  Anyway, Popeye doesn't get the usual a-cruel lesson in economics, or accounting for that matter.  No, this time it's more of a "Buyer Beware" type of situation!  I forgot to mention the setup: Popeye's got his heart set on buying Olive a bearskin fur coat.  Geezil models a coat for Popeye.  A tiny rabbit runs up to the coat and hugs it, crying "Mommy!  Mommy!!"  ...is Popeye taking a Richard Donner-esque political stance here?  Could be!  Anyway, one gag later, Geezil unwittingly gives Popeye the idea to go out into the wide world out there to get his own bear skin coat!  Hoh boy, it's going to be another one of those shaggy dog stories, isn't it?
And so, with shotgun in hand, Popeye goes out hunting and finds some tracks.  Popeye investigates a hollow log and sets his shotgun down.  Meanwhile, the bear comes up behind Popeye.  The bear looks at Popeye, then at the shotgun.  Dayamn!  Smart bear!  The fight is on, but the bear runs away once Popeye regains his composure and, more importantly, the shotgun.  And so, the chase is on.
And then... the chase comes to a halt!  Popeye's got the bear trapped on the edge of a cliff, as one often finds in cartoons.  The bear gets very sad, and Popeye starts to lose his nerve... dang!  This is taking a stand!  Whether it's political or not, I'm not one to say.  And then, the bear lets out two sad howls.  Soon after, the bear's family shows up.  The bear bids the wife farewell and kisses all three of his cubs.  The wife walks away, as do the three cubs.  The last cub spits at Popeye.  Now, if you're like me (scary thought, I know) you just might remember the big finale of Duck Soup to Nuts.  And you'd be right, of course, and Duck came three years after our instant case.  HOWEVER... both were scribed by the same man, Ted(d) Pierce ... so it's okay!
As for the Third Act... okay, Olive's apparently not going to be in this one, but no spinach?  That'd be pushing things too far.  Anyway, the bear mistakenly thinks that Popeye emptying his shotgun and tearing it in half is a sign of weakness.  And just when we were on the precipice of a proverbial, veritable New Age in cartoons... it's back to the same old Fist Tornados.  Comforting in a way.  Comfort cinema, but without the excess calories.  Now it's Popeye hanging on to the cliff!  How's it feel, b'atch?  And so, Popeye loses his grip on the cliff edge... is he just not trying because he knows the spinach will save him?  Hmmm!  Anyway, it's spinach time.  Popeye half-morphs into a rocket and flies back up to kick the bear's ass.  And soon, Popeye knocks the bear right out of its damn coat!  I dare not spoil this gag... if I suffered through it, you have to too, damn it.

***1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Reggie Rock Bythewood

Nope, software's still not working.  Unknown host exception, my ass!  I gotta do everything myself.  Well, even computers have trouble playing chess sometimes.  And Yahoo! Maps doesn't see every shortcut yet, right?  Plenty of blabbermouths out there willing to give them up, of course.
Anyway, one of my favourite Reggie Rock Bythewood titles has to be Gun Hill, of course.  Sure, it's a deadly serious drama, and the name comes from the saddest neighborhood in the world, but at the time the title just leapt out at me!  Gun Hill!  The possibilities!  But don't feel too sorry for this guy.  After all, he's practically a protegé of Spike Lee!  Reggie penned Get on the Bus, after all.  That's practically in Spielberg's backyard!  Also my software tells me that he has a connection to Billy Dee Williams... but I gotta sift through the data to see how... okay, they were on Another World, but in totally different decades.  Another time, if you will.  Still, that's more than I have in common with either of those gentlemen!
The point being, sure, Reggie seems to be languishing in the B- or C-List, but hopefully he's happy.  Still, he's not doing enough to make it feel like the A-List.  That's his job.  My job is to boo from the sidelines.  My mom's house is nice, just not basement nice... oh wait!  He's Gina's husband!  Oh well, there you go!  Stick with her, she's going places.  She's A-List!

...okay, here's what my software came up with this time.  So, Reggie was an actor in The Beat (1988), which also starred...
Clay Boss (assailant), who did stunts in The Blues Brothers 1 (1980), which also starred...........................
Steven Spielberg!  As Cook County Assessor's Office Clerk!! ...they might not have been in the same scene together, but still!  Six degrees of separation!

Rosamund's Spike

...aren't I supposed to be doing homework?  Meanwhile, in other news, Jennifer Lawrence doubles down on her attack in the media on those douchebags that hacked her private photos.  Dang, those must be some steamy photos!  Maybe not Vanessa Williams Penthouse steamy, but... who knows these days?  Clearly, she needs to take a page out of the book of ScarJo and Keira Knightley, and I'm sure some of you pervs out there know what I'm talking about.  Surely someone on the web has it, right?... close enough.  Yes, J. Law, it's time to do a tasteful Vanity Fair cover with one of your Hollywood friends.  Be one of the cool kids for a change!
(Thursday) ...damn, she's good.  Great advance publicity.
(Sunday, 12:43pm) ...nothing yet?  You've let me down, IMDb.  Oh, a Battle Royale must be raging over the numbers.  Will The Judge be #1?  Or will Tony Stark not have his cake and eat it too?  Same old story.  In between Matrix sequels, Keanu tried to have hits with smaller pics.  There's countless examples, I'm sure.  Guess I'll have to go to Variety for my fix.  Yes, it's true.  All those fans of director David Dobkin's edgier stuff and Robert Downey Jr.'s snarkier stuff (basically, everything else he's done) weren't fooled by The Judge.  Hallmark Channel-type crap, but with A-List stars.  Deep fried Southern cornpone.  Maybe it'll play well there!  As for the latest incarnation of Dracula, well, they didn't take the shellacking of the latest incarnation of Frankenstein as a warning for them.  But who knows?  Maybe its second week will be better.  As for Steve Carell's latest, well, even he gets tired of going on The Daily Show over and over again and saying, you know, if it wasn't for The Daily Show... excuse me, I need to wipe a tear from my eye.  But they did pay homage to the film's title in one of the graphics last week!  Close enough.
(Monday) FINALLY!!!  I was starting to lose faith in you, IMDb!  Okay, we got four debuts this week.  Dracula Untold debuts at #2, and Untitled Steve Carell / Jennifer Garner Project at #3.  Oh, J. Garn's back and better than ever!  ...you know, it's not too late to do that sequel to Dude, Where's My Car?  Everyone's still alive, right?  Anyway, the new NBC series premiering after The Voice is called The Judge... I'm sorry, it's actually a film being shown and not seen in theaters all across this great land of ours.  Maybe they should've tried it out as a series first.  The last debut this week is Tyler Perry's Addicted.  Guess he's going for that Oscar again.  He should be able to afford to buy one at this point!  Anyway, I always love originality in a movie poster.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Short Reviews - October 2014

One Chance - ...Frankel?  Oh, puh-leeeeze.  But I guess that last film with Steve Martin and Jack Black was such a huge bomb that he was forced to take to the Internets to plug his latest.

Seven Chances - ...confusing title.  If it were made today, they'd have to call it Fool Running from Boulders... if only in China.

A Walk on the Moon - Meant to see it.

A Perfect Man - Who's the Walker Jerome NOW, bitch?... ah, close enough.

Paparazzi (2009) - I don't care how short it is.  There's only ONE Paparazzi, damn it!

Paparazzi (2004) - No, not that one.  THIS ONE!!!!!

Lord Love a Duck - ...I thought it was in color!  I must've dreamed it or something.

Arabesque - ...is Sophia Loren's voice dubbed in?

More Than a Miracle - More than a miracle to me... is Sophia Loren's voice dubbed in?

The Last Song - This just in... Nicholas Sparks busy writing the sequel called The Last Twerk

Far From the Madding Crowd - I dunno... this is why I'm no movie hero.  Because if I were a sheepherder, or a shepherd, and my dog just pushed all the sheep off of the cliff... I'd probably have to shoot that dog.  I mean, the gun's right there, for one!... sorry, I was in and out of the room.  Apparently, Alan Bates did eventually shoot the dog, just not that instant, which is when I would of shot the dog... was demonic possession all the rage when this movie was made?  You know, because of The Omen (1976)?

Tanned Legs - Another classic on TCM, but something tells me that Robert Osborne's not going to talk about it when it's over.....................................

The Amityville Horror (1979) - With Murray Hamilton outdoing his role in Jaws as Pooh-Pooher in Chief.  Onward Mediocre Christian Managers!

The Libertine - Every so often in a career, an actor makes a film that serves as a litmus test for his or her fan base.  In the case of Johnny Depp, he uses The Libertine to divide his fans between those who want to see him in a classy period piece, and those who aren't really fans and just want to see him horribly disfigured, even if just in a movie... I'm in the first category, J.D., I swear!

God's Pocket - Good triple bill with The Fighter and Killing Them Softly... quadruple bill with Out of the Furnace

Men, Women & Children - Yup, that's the target audience, all right!... ADAM SANDLER?!!!!!  Ah yes.  Well, it's been about a decade since Punch Drunk Love and his first serious attempt to get an Oscar.  And since Sid Ganis let him down, why not follow the lead of the son of the guy who directed Legal Eagles?  He's... Oscar-ish, right?  I mean, it was either him or Jane Campion, and that ain't gonna happen.

Hail, Caesar! - I got my ticket!!!!

Dumb and Dumber To - Will McAvoy must be spinning in his grave

Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - Why, that's what Fox News has been saying for years!  I'm assuming Megyn Kelly plays the Birdman

Dear White People - Just got the Colbert Bump!  Well, the sentiment starts out sweetly enough.....................

Come Morning - For those of you who think Arkansas has no night life, well... I submit this film for your approval!!

Invisible Ghost - This is, like, the stupidest title ever.  I mean, ghosts are already invisible!  Der!  How can something already invisible be even more invisible?

Memoirs of an Invisible Man - Ouch.

My Own Love Song - Oops!  I thought that was Sissy Spacek on the poster.

The Long Walk Home - Maybe this is what I was thinking of

Tweety and the Mousey-Man

Now, here's a Tom and Jerry cartoon worthy of deep analysis.  Accept no substitutes.  There just seems like there's a lot of cartoons called Kitty Foiled.  Apparently, the Tom and Jerry cartoon the mortals call Mouse Trouble was once also known as Kitty Foiled.  I coulda sworn there was a Warner Brothers cartoon with that name, but I guess I just dreamed it.  Besides, if I have it, it's on a VHS tape someplace in the garage.  So there's the process of de-musting the tape, getting out the old old old VCR, what have you.  Too many steps.
Seriously, though, how can this Tom and Jerry DVD collection of mine possibly be complete without Puttin' on the Dog?  That's like the quintessential Tom and Jerry cartoon!  That'd be like having a Warner Brothers cartoon collection without Catch as Cats Can... okay, bad example.  But back to Kitty Foiled, which could of course be the name of any Tom and Jerry cartoon, when you get right down to it.  Society has to root for the mouse, at least on the silver screen.  In real life, of course, if there's a mouse in the house, it's a remarkably different story.
We start out as usual, with Tom and Jerry fighting.  Well, Tom trying in vain to hit Jerry, but always missing, and causing hella collateral damage in the process.  Where's that nice colored maid to keep the cat in line when you need her?  Is it wrong of me to like it at 0:41 when Tom hits the lamp with the broom?  I thought so.  Anyway, usually as these things go, Jerry has to escape to find a witness to his troubles.  This time, the witness is already there: a Tweety-esque canary in a cage.  It's NOT Tweety, all right?  It's totally not!  Check MGM's lawyers, because it's not.  Alas, there's no time for backstory, but apparently this is the first time that the bird and the mouse think to team up against the cat.  The bird was stand-offish at first, having its heart broken by mice before.  But now that it's settled down a bit, and looking around for a hobby, passions dulled by the passage of time, it's ready for a bromance or... whatever.  I can't tell what gender the bird is.  The point is, there's undeniable connections there between the beast of the land and the fowl of the air.  They're both small, they're both the prey of bored housecats.  They have the same heartbeat, for Gawd'z zake!  ...why did I feel like I was being indoctrinated when hearing their heartbeats?  Hmm... and so, instead of just standing there, looking shocked, like the bored teens in the year 800,000 in The Time Machine (1960), a stand is taken.  The bird forms a metaphorical fist, and drops the bottom of its cage on the cat's head just before the cat's about to finish that stupid mouse off for good, saving us all a lot of trouble.  The mouse hides, and the cat casts its gaze skyward at its new fangled enemy.
Boy, that cat doesn't waste any time!  Like a bolt of lightning, Tom jumps into the bottomless cage, and the bird barely gets out of the way.  ...I hate to cut it short, and I know, it's probably too late for that, but basically it becomes a two-on-one chase for Tom.  There's the usual senseless violence: the mouse bashes all of the cat's rather giant teeth out with a hammer, the bird closes the mouth of a bear skin rug on the cat's neck, what have you.  Actually, they waste an opportunity: in the house is one of those tables that you can open and close.  It's not closed on Tom's neck!  You'll have to watch a Stooge film for that, I suppose... if I only knew which one!  The mouse and bird form an alliance in Jerry's hole in the wall... and a little too close to the entrance, if anyone minds me saying.  I mean, a cat could reach in there with its paw and get the two of them!  You ever have a cat on the other side of a door, and you stick something under the door to see if the cat can get it?  Oh, the cat can so get it.  Better not use your finger!  Oh, they'll gitcha with their claw.  Trust me.
Of course, all chase and no slow spots a boring cartoon makes.  Even Tex Avery knew that, and his cartoons got pretty non-stop as the 40s came to a close.  And so, just as Jerry pretended to be a negro mouse in that one... you know, the one with the baby mouse... let me check the box... The Milky Waif!  That's it!  Anyway, this time, Jerry pretends to be an Indian, slowly walking along.  Jerry says "How!" to the cat and keeps going.  Alas, the treaty's broken all too quickly when the cat sees the bird hiding on Jerry's back in... one of those things?  What are they called?  Anyway, let's move on.  The chase is also stopped when a gun enters the scene.  The bird picks up a gun and holds it on Tom for what seems like an eternity.  Finding the scene terribly amusing, Jerry unscrews a light bulb and drops it.  When it breaks, it sounds an awful lot like a gunshot.  Tom thinks he's been shot and... well, they milk that scene for all it's worth, needles to say.
The two little beasties have something else in common: they change the pace of the chase by hitting their heads on something.  The bird goes first, but manages to make a quick getaway anyway.  Then, the mouse.  And, maybe out of respect to his seniority, the mouse gets the bigger payoff.  Having been lightly stunned, Tom grabs Jerry and... what else?  Ties him to the track of a model railroad track!  And, unlike in real life, a toy train set in an animated cartoon seems extraordinarily large.  Clearly this cartoon informed the thinking of The Wrong Trousers all those decades later.  Or maybe I should put it like this...
And then, Tom grabbed him...
AND THEN?
He tied him up!
AND THEN?
He threw him on the railroad track!!!!
AND THEN?
The train a'started comin'...
AND THEN?  AND THEN???????

...and then, along came the canary with a loaded bowling ball bag.  Clearly, it's time to revisit the scene at the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Unfortunately, the bird's job of aiming this time is a little harder than with the cage at the beginning, but despite all its difficulties, the bird pulls it all off rather swimmingly.  Just before Tom is about to run over Jerry with the toy train... and believe me, it'd hurt.  Sure, the train by itself probably wouldn't hurt Jerry all that much.  But Tom's sitting on the train, mind you!  And all that extra weight?  Well... (sucking teeth noise)  Anyway, before all that happens, like an early Walt Disney "nature documentary," the bad guy's plan is foiled and the cute little creature gets away.  The bowling ball is dropped, making a big hole in the floor just behind Jerry.  Tom and the model train plummet through the hole straight into hell... not quite, as we hear a crashing noise... why am I suddenly reminded of the end of Beetlejuice?  And I mean just before Beetle's waiting room gag, of course.

EPILOGUE

Whew!  Keep it short, my ass.  Anyway, these things usually end with Tom all bandaged up, and taking care of Jerry or, as in The Milky Waif, taking care of Jerry's grey little friend.  Apparently, what happened to Tom this time was so gruesome, the filmmakers couldn't bear to animate it.  Instead, we end with the mouse and the bird in the birdcage together, whistling, enjoying a few well earned comforts.  The salted pork is particularly good... sorry, wrong film again.  The mouse and bird end with a delightful song......... BORING!!! Get the cat back already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

To Sleep... Perchance to Rub Elbows With the Greats

As with Popeye meeting William Tell, Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle is probably true to its source material on the one hand.  On the other hand... meh.  Good thing I've got way too much schoolwork to do, and no time to do this anymore, otherwise I'd have paid half-assed lip service to the great Popeye shorts... oh, right.  Well, if there's one thing I learned from my roommates over the years, it's this: when you make the choice to ride the coattails of a public figure such as Popeye, the ride is a lot like an elevator.  You have to know when to get off on the top floor.  And with this volume three, clearly the elevator is on its way back down.  The only exception to the elevator rule, of course, is Paul McCartney.  He's still got it, and will never get rid of it.
But back to Popeye.  Once again, Popeye finds himself in strangely European surroundings.  Look at those houses!  Dutch?  Slavic?  ...ooh!  Almost forgot.  Popeye has trouble with his pipe, blowing a note with it, anyhow... did David Koepp write this?  "I gotta clear me flume," mutters Popeye.  After that introductory episode, he runs across a guy being dispossessed from his house and... oh my garshk!  It's Rip Van Winkle!  We read the sign on his house, which says, amongst other things, "Rip Van Winkle won't sleep here anymore."  Popeye starts to continue his morning walk and... uh oh.  I guess ol' Van Winkle must remind Popeye of his pappy or something.  And so, Popeye carries Wink back home so he can get some sleep indoors.
But as Bugs Bunny said in Hare Tonic, "Wait!  This setup's too good!"  ...I'll explain further.  Elmer buys Bugs at the store and is taking him home to make rabbit fricassee.  Elmer's moved to the suburbs!  A step up.  Meanwhile, Bugs makes a sound like the phone ringing and sneaks out of the house.  Deciding that his escape was far too easy, Bugs devises a plan to f... mess with Elmer's mind.  While the setup of Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle isn't as interesting, dramatically, or even from a literary perspective... or perhaps any perspective at all to some... clearly these two acts aren't enough.  Meeting Van Winkle and taking him home?  We need one more plot wrinkle, for Gawd'z zake!  Thankfully, we get one when Van Winkle starts sleepwalking.  Rip sleepwalks right out of Popeye's house, and Popeye has to go looking for him.
Okay, credit where credit's due; this part's kind of interesting.  Funny, even!  Even though nothing today is funny unless it involves something gross.  Thanks, Farrelly brothers!  Popeye's wandering outside in the Dutch countryside when... lightning strikes.  The thunder?  Bowling pins getting knocked over!  Love it.  As Popeye gets closer, the thunder and lightning get a little closer to earth.  Turns out it's a bunch of midgets bowling, and nature is all too happy to amplify the excitement of their game.  As Joel Coen once quipped, the bowling community is desperate for any publicity for what is basically a moribund sport.  Boy, some people just don't know how to have fun with friends.  Anyway, Popeye tries to shush the thunderous bowlers, even though Rip Van is fast asleep with no signs of waking any time soon... he snores a little like Pappy, don't he?  Alas, these aren't good tempered, easygoing midgets.  They take offense at Popeye's intrusion, and one of them even climbs up Popeye's body to punch him in the face!  I wonder if one of the writers has seen things in their local bar... oh, I get it now.  Perhaps this is a dig at Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  I guess Disney didn't present a passionate enough legal argument to prevent this film from getting released.  I mean, damn, are these guys rude!  Popeye doesn't even try to be diplomatic.  "I don't fight with infinks!  If I was your size..."
The dwar... I mean, the little guys all gang up on Popeye and punch Popeye down to their size.  (See also: The Screwy Truant featuring Screwy Squirrel!... damn, not on the YouTubes.)  And try as he might, Popeye just can't get his legs back to regular length.  Lol.  One of the dwarves throws a punch and Popeye goes rolling down the alley, knocking down the pins.  Popeye answers in kind, and throws a perfect strike for good measure.  Oh, it's so spinach time.  Alas, Popeye doesn't give those guys the beating they clearly deserve.  For once, Popeye just walks away... or rather, runs away, carrying Rip Van Winkle with him.  Hey, get a room, guys!
Next scene: Popeye's tucking Rip V. Winkle back into bed, taking special care of his beard again.  Popeye puts Rip's pants over a chair back, when suddenly... a coin falls out.  This wakes Rip up... really?  Seriously?  That's how you're going to end this?  I coulda sworn that gag had been done to death with Swee'pea already, and with Poopdeck Pappy to an extent.  The Ernie Kovacs-esque visual gag at the end was a tad predictable as well.
Welp, apparently two literary characters was enough for Popeye, and frankly, I can't blame him.  Popeye's enough of an egomaniac as it is, and he doesn't seem to be the sociable type in general to tolerate the company of another one.

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Jeffrey W. Byrd

My software's been tweaked a little bit!  I don't know what to do about those socket errors, though..  SocketTimeoutException or some such nonsense.  Even computer programs hate the slow speed of the intertubes.  Anyway, not everyone wants to be the next Tyler Perry.  The next Joel Zwick is good enough for some, like our next auteur, Jeffrey Byrd.  Of course, seven years is a long time between projects, dude.  You gotta crank that s... stuff out, dude.  One film every two years at least.  Tyler does two a year!!!  And three new TV shows.  Sure, it's TBS, but close enough.  So while I'm feverishly trying to find the connection between my man here and Spielberg, apparently there's a connection to Spike Lee!  The black Spielberg!  So I guess we could say...

Byrd worked as an intern on Mo' Better Blues directed by...
Spike Lee, who directed Malcolm X which featured...
Karen Allen...

...and the trail goes cold after that.  I know she was in Animal House.  Spielberg directed that, right?  Anyway, we'll sort this all out soon, don't you worry.

Okay, here's what my software spit out...

Steven Spielberg
A Decade of Difference: A Concert Celebrating 10 Years of the William J. Clinton Foundation
Usher Raymond
Soul Food
Jeffrey W. Byrd

So, Byrd directed an episode of the acclaimed series, Soul Food, in which Usher Raymond played a part... as opposed to the 1997 movie, Soul Food, in which Usher just did part of the soundtrack.  And Usher was at that concert thingie which that Spielberg fella apparently was at.  Clearly movies alone just aren't doing it for him anymore.  So there you go.  You get to Usher, you get to Spielberg.  Fly like a bird out of hell, Byrd!