Monday, February 23, 2015

Der Lauf Der Mäuse, or Which Kicks More Ass? Designs on Jerry? Or Trap-Happy Porky?

Our next Tom and Jerry cartoon is called Designs on Jerry... that must be a play on something that was frightfully popular at the time, but is now only known because of this cartoon.  And yes, it's time once again for a little Comparative Cinema 101 because...
Ah, Rube Goldberg.  His name echoes through history for two reasons today.  One, because it's, like, the go-to name for White Power and other anti-Semite groups to hold up as the reason for their existence on the fringes of society, but two, because once upon a time, he used to be known for making strings of dominos out of non-domino-type objects.  And he was good at it!  So good, in fact, that William Randolph Hearst put his stuff in the cartoon section of his newspapers... something like that.  Next to that cartoon of the Tammany Hall octopus, and stories of how Hoover defeated the much hated Bonus Army.  Hey, he's got your bonus right here, pal!  But motion pictures are nothing if not strings of non-domino-type objects all lined up to hit each other in a certain way, some more monotonous than others, like the Transformers movies.  Ironic, because the Transformers seem to possess free will and/or awareness above that of humans.  Anyway, cartoons just love stuff like a good old fashioned Rube Goldberg machine... but how exactly did they get to the idea of cats putting these things together?  Mind-boggling.  What will our children's children say about us?  Which brings us to our two cartoons this week: Trap Happy Porky and Designs on Jerry.  So which kicks more ass?  You'll just have to wait to find out.  (hint: it's Trap Happy Porky)


And so, we find Tom the cat hard at work, sitting at a desk, working on a blueprint.  That's right, a blueprint for a mouse trap.  After a hard day of slaving away at the easel, it's time to get some well-earned sleep, while the same old dreams of capitalism run amok just for you fill his heads.  Shaking hands with rich white men, factories erected with your name on it, what have you.  Like George Carlin says, it's called the American Dream because you gotta be asleep to believe it.  But whatever.  I'm no right winger myself, but even I'm thinking right off the bat that Tom's so-called "mouse trap" is highly dubious at best, and criminally negligent at worst.  It's like people who think living in a house with an alligator-filled moat to protect it is a good idea.  Sooner or later you're going to fall into the alligator pit and... well, it won't be a narrow escape like in all them Warner Bros. cartoons where the bad guy escapes with a torn shirt and a couple bruises.
And so, while the cat slumbers and dreams, the dream that is the cartoon comes to life!  We pan over to the blueprint, and the crude stick drawing of the mouse, which springs to life.  Its first act upon achieving consciousness and movement?  Well, it runs right over to Jerry's hole in the wall, tries to wake up Jerry and warn him of the war that is coming.  Jerry rubs his eyes in disbelief and goes back to sleep.  Love it.  That may be the highlight of the cartoon for me right there.
But the blueprint version of Jerry ultimately triumphs and, even though it can only speak in non-English squeaks, Jerry is able to put two and two together to deduce that Tom is up to no good, albeit in a unique way.  It's about this time that the blueprint version of Tom the cat comes to life, and tries to get that mouse.  I'm just going to cut to the chase and say that, sure, Blueprint Tom is cruel to Blueprint Jerry, unwinding Jerry down to just his little stick legs and what not, but Blueprint Jerry reconstitutes himself after that battle, and ultimately wins the war with the help of actual Jerry.  Now, when I was younger, I was probably happy with what they did to Blueprint Tom, but the older I get, the more I can't help but think to myself... oh, dude, that was just vicious!  I can't even blog about what they do to him... okay, actual Jerry sucks up Blueprint Tom into the pen that actual Tom was using, then they empty Blueprint Tom back into the ink bottle from whence he came.  Why, the water serpent from James Cameron's The Abyss would be appalled.
In a way, I'm reminded of the structure of the Back to the Future movies, where Biff has to be defeated before a feat of time travelling can get accomplished.  Which brings us back to Tom, who wakes up and sets his trap in motion.  Oh, I almost forgot... the two Jerries tinker with Tom's blueprint before Tom wakes up.  I dare not spoil that, dare I?  Anyway, so Tom's "Better Mouse Trap" is set into motion and... spoiler alert, it should've been called a "Better Cat Trap."  Big surprise.  Now I have to check the closed captioning on Tom's retort... couldn't be much lamer than the one at the end of Bone, Sweet Bone... the Looney Tunes cartoon, not the adult film.  I'm assumpting there's one called that.  I should point out that Tom's "better mouse trap" employs, among other things, a pool table, a rifle and a giant, heavy safe.  People want a better mouse trap, they just don't want to live in it.



Love this cartoon.  Which is why I should probably recuse myself from reviewing it, but what the hell.  YOLO, right kids?  YOLO.  Alas, Trap Happy Porky isn't available on the first five or six volumes of the Looney Tunes DVDs.  Does this deserve to be consigned to the dust bin of history along with most of the Looney Tunes directed by Art Davis?  I say no!  No, damn it.  For one thing, it's directed by Chuck Jones, and I'm sure some of my fellow film geeks are aware of him.  For most film geeks in the internet era, it's either Chuck Jones or Robert Clampett when it comes to fetishizing the WB cartoon directors.  Friz Freleng, a close third; the rest tend to fall by the wayside these days.
Anyway, since a copy of Trap Happy Porky isn't at hand, and they only have selected clips of it on the YouTubes, I'm just going to have to work from memory here.  I mean, check out YouTube.  They've got Trap Happy Porky, but it's all chopped up like that snake on the "Don't Tread on Me" flag.  Disgusting.  Well, Trap Happy Porky is no snake in the grass.  It's celebrated by fans of animation and alcoholism alike.  Sure, it's more evidence that Chuck Jones was jealous of what Robert Clampett had going on when it came to Warner Brothers cartoons, and how he tried in vain to copy Clampett's sense of anarchy, with his results coming out too neat... but I'll leave that one for the experts and family members of the Clampett and Jones families to decide.  I'll just try to stick with the plot here.
So Porky Pig's asleep one night in his suburban home, WHEN SUDDENLY... a loud racquet wakes him up.  He goes to investi... investiga... go downstairs to see what the noise is all about.  And sure enough... yup, it's mice.  The traps he set for them are no longer sufficient.  Time to call an expert.  And soon enough, a cool cat arrives at Porky's doorstep.  It's not Sylvester, but rather a new character, the kind that are often seen in Art Davis Warner Brothers cartoons, when he wasn't employing the entertainment services of Daffy Duck.  And soon enough, the cat's setting up a very elaborate trap to catch the offending mice.  There's just something about these very elaborate traps that make the generic mice in Warner Brothers cartoons just sit there and wait to see how it ends.  And yes, a similar trap was employed in Tweetie Pie, but it seems to have been truncated a bit, and of course, Tweety was cleverly edited in in place of the mice.
The main takeaway is: the trap is effective.  The mice get stunned, if not outright killed, and they are removed from Porky's house.  And if that isn't cause for celebration, I don't know what is.  Porky's way of celebrating is to go back to sleep.  The cat, on the other hand...
SECOND ACT - Porky is awoken again, but by the sound of a piano with its keys getting all mashed to hell.  Porky goes downstairs to find a different kind of pest in the house this time... the mousetrap-making cat has a few of his drinking buddies over, and they're singing some songs; songs from the Warner Brothers soundbook, I'm assuming.  Porky tries to throw them out, but is surprisingly uneffective at it.  Porky gets thrown out of the house a few times himself... and for all of you out there who think of cartoon characters merely in terms of whether they're wearing pants or not, that part's definitely for you.  Well, Porky's had enough, so it's time to go into town again for another solution.  No wonder that fat boy's so tired!  Porky returns home with a mean-ass bulldog.  Porky quickly runs back upstairs to go back to sleep, in anticipation of the carnage below that's surely to take place.  If that isn't a metaphor for American Imperialism, I don't know what is.
To Porky's horror, Porky goes back downstairs to find that the bulldog has JOINED IN in the orgy of drinking and singing, becoming the tenor of the group, no less!  What else is an animated pig to do?  Porky steps into the chorus, shrugs at a crucial moment, and keeps singing.  Iris out.  Good luck getting that one out of the craw of your memory.  Inception achieved.



Another game of cat and mouse... or bird, rather.  I think for me the funniest moment would have to be... well, this one's full of funny moments, but somehow I can't bring myself to give it four stars.  I should try to figure that one out.  But one of the funniest moments could be filed under "progressive comedy," and I'll attempt to explain.  Sylvester tries to get at Tweety by stacking up all the furniture in the house and climbing that Furniture Mountain up to the summit where the bird cage is.  Needles to say, Sylvester the cat spectacularly fails... I know, it's an "epic fail."  Am I the only one getting tired of that term?  Must be.  The lady of the house hears the epic racquet, and goes downstairs to investigate.  Fueled by adrenaline and the infinite strength that all cartoon characters seem to possess, Sylvester quickly rearranges all the furniture in the room... but gets beaten by a broom anyway, just on general principles.
Now, the progressive part.  Sylvester builds another ... okay, I have to watch it again.  The first Furniture Mountain falls because Tweety saws a crucial lode-bearing leg on one of the tables.  So, Sylvester's no dummy and quickly learns from his mistakes, and his second Furniture Mountain is made of tables with un-saw-able metal legs.  Sylvester gives them a good tap for good measure before climbing to what surely will be a well-earned midnight snack.  And once again, Sylvester gets up to the cage to find it empty.  Sylvester looks down to see Tweety... wielding a blowtorch!  Now that's what I call progressive comedy.
At the film's climax, Sylvester builds the mousetrap from Trap Happy Porky (1945).  And I guess that's part of the problem right there.  See, tiny cartoon animals need to be distracted with the new, not the recycled from two years ago.  Well, it was a different era, and the average kid in attendance in the audience was probably not going to throw a fit because the mouse traps were the same in two cartoons.


The Bluto Can't Help It

SPOILER ALERT ... has Popeye ever dressed up in drag?  I guess this is a first.  Well, when the opportunity presents itself... who wouldn't?  Thankfully, it's a rare opportunity, but movie conventions dictate that whoever does the dressing up in drag can't be too good at it, and Popeye's not one to break those kinds of conventions in our next Popeye short, called Too Weak to Work.
The basic setup is similar to My Pop, My Pop but the twist is that Bluto and Popeye are building boats together... and by together, I mean that Popeye's doing all the work.  In a pre-spinach feat of strength, Popeye's holding up a boat with BLUTO STILL IN IT!!! Dayamn.  How Popeye doesn't break his back, I'll never know.  But Bluto grows weary of painting while holding a paintbrush between his toes... who wouldn't, frankly?  That's why this year my resolution was to hold chopsticks with my feet.  You know, to help me lose weight; maybe learn a new skill in the process.  Anyway, Bluto gets the idea that a nice rest in a hospital is the cure for what ails him.  But the cost of health care was high even then, and Bluto is going to learn the hard way that, even in a comedy, one does not tread lightly into a hospital.  Never go in because you want to go in.  Same with prisons; I'll be very surprised if a member of the Popeye family tries to do that one.
And so, cut to: Bluto in a hospital bed, covered in hot water bottles.  Popeye comes to visit, and Bluto quietly says "Go away!"  Oh, dude... that's cold.  I guess he remembered some of Popeye's spinach-induced beatings of yore or something.  Anyway, the premise of the Second Act is hammered to death when Bluto asks Popeye, "Get me a nurse... a pretty nurse!"  And so, Popeye ventures out into the halls of the hospital, and repeats the request, half for himself, half for the benefit of the audience.  Popeye's got to find a nurse... a pretty nurse.  AND THEN.... Popeye hears it.  Bluto in his very large hospital room, laughing and rolling around in a wheelchair.  Well, that tears it.  Time for some revenge.  But not just any revenge will do in this situation.  What to do, what to do....
And so, the notion is bourne, and Popeye returns to Bluto's room, posing as a female nurse.  The comedy conventions dictate that he constantly catch himself not using a feminine enough voice, which he does.  Conventions also dictate that Bluto is just so horrified by this nurse ("She's old enough to be my grandmudda!" he mutters to himself), so gripped by his fears that he doesn't notice that it's actually Popeye in drag... which he does.
And so, Popeye has a little fun with Bluto, putting him through various tests and regimens, which arguably is also part of the conventions, but it's the part where the filmmakers get to shine and show some originality.  Putting Bluto into a steam room and shrinking him down to the size of a mouse?  That's... kind of original, isn't it?  After all, Lonesome Lenny came out in '46, no?  Now, there's one gag that's arguably borderline.  To bring Bluto back to regular size, Popeye pumps him full of oxygen.  However, Popeye uses too much, and Bluto ends up floating away into the sky... let's leave aside the erroneous chemistry for now, and just focus on the possible copyright infringements here.  Now, there's a very very similar gag in the Three Stooges' short, Dizzy Pilots, as you may recall.  However, I rule in favour of Too Weak to Work, because the release date of Dizzy Pilots is in September of 1943, while Weak has a release date of March 1943.  Case dismissed.  Don't get me wrong, however.  I'm as concerned about copyright infringement as the next person.  I mean, it's not like I'm going to illegally post a documentary about churches in certain Seattle neighborhoods on YouTube or something.  I'm not a complete monster.
Anyway, no thanks to Popeye and his tinkering, Bluto is now actually in need of medical attention.  Why, it seems that Popeye is now the Bluto in this equation!  Aided by Big Pharma, no less!  But no amount of medicine, alternative or regular, that can bring Bluto back to normal and maybe give him a little get up and go.  CUE THE INDUSTRIAL-GRADE SPINACH PUMP!!!!  And so, much like our previous Popeye cartoon, Seein' Red, White 'n' Blue, Bluto is engulfing spinach and becoming a fearless, supercharged instrument of industry, helping America to win WWII.  That's right, even a task as menial as painting rowboats aids the war effort.  Of course, Popeye ends up painted and hanging off some rowboat hooks, but that's kinda on him this time.

Good double bill with: My Pop, My Pop or Hospitaliky

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Matthew A. Cherry

Some people complain about being typecast, others revel in it.  I guess you might say that director, producer and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry did the latter with his directorial effort called The Last Fall.  It's the story of a guy in the NFL who struggles once his football career ends.  It's probably a little more upbeat than, say, Broke.  And I guess that's part of the problem.  Not bold enough, not entertaining enough, not real enough, what have you.  Everyone's a critic, but you gotta get certain critics to pay attention to the damn movie!  I mean, Variety's great and all, but they're more about the box office receipts and who's out as the studio head this week.
But you know what?  Screw the critics.  My man Cherry's forging ahead anyway, on his way to a fulfilling showbiz career.  I mean, he must be doing something right!  P.A. on a hit show like Heroes?  Priceless.  Gotta be a way to get to Spielberg through that one.  But he worked with a lot of big egos on that show, in front of and behind the camera, and Cherry said to himself, "Hell, I can direct TV!" in direct television shows, not DirecTV, the satellite service.  And so, it was on to direct some episodes of a show called Almost Home... I haven't heard of it either, but never mind!  Baby steps.  You'll be the next Joe Carnahan in no time.

Lousy Smarch Weather

Yeah, (the) Facebook pages are fun.  But it seems to me that if you're going to call yourself a public figure, it helps IF THE PUBLIC HAS ACTUALLY HEARD OF YOU.
Anyway, on to the box office.  Well, my friends who don't like Will Smith... they seem to be growing in number lately... are not going to be happy that his latest movie, called Focus, is #1 at the box office.  But they might take some comfort in knowing that it only made a tepid $20 million!  But that comfort's quickly lost when I point out that, hey, it's not like it's Men in Black 4 or something.  It's kinda like with Johnny Depp and The Rum DiaryHe went into that one knowing it wasn't going to post Pirates of the Caribbean-type numbers.  As for Transcendence and Mortdecai, well... they were hoping the numbers would be a little higher.
Meanwhile, in second place... at #5... every once in a generation, a title comes along like The Judas Project or... something else.  Let's say The Linguini Incident.  This time, it's something called The Lazarus Effect.  It must be what Olivia Wilde was flogging on The Daily Show with Stew Beef recently.  I didn't get a chance to see it.  Well, after reading the plot, I can't help but think of what David Spade might say about it.  It says "A group of med(ical) students discover a way to bring dead patients back to life."  And Spade just might say "I liked it the first time... when it was called Frankenstein."  I know, he'd probably go with Flatliners or a more current reference, like Pushing Daisies.  Alas, that's the price people like Olivia Wilde, the world's oldest 30 year old, have to pay sometimes.  Like Jennifer Lawrence in House at the End of the Street, you get to be the bonafide star of the pic, but it doesn't open at #1.  No, you just gotta swallow your pride and go with a script that has a little more heft, like The Hunger Games or the X-Men franchise. 
And finally, who says the Oscars don't have an effect on the box office?  I mean, besides Fox News?  Personally, I don't know why they're complaining about the Oscars.  They have to make a movie about Fox News, for starters, if they want to win one.  As for Julianne Moore, well, the girl finally won.  Lord knows she was trying for a while.  Take that, Annette Bening!  Ouch.  Anyway, Still Alice debuts at #9 this week.  Oh why oh why must the Oscars award pictures that are so depressing, like Million Dollar Baby?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tom and Jerry at the Ice-Capades

Hey, remember that one Tom and Jerry where they run water all over the place and create their own ice skating rink with a little help from the fridge?  Yeah, reminds me of that one time in my dorms when a bunch of people were taking a really really long shower late at night.  Funny story: some one or a group of ones had just turned on all the showers.  But that alone is not enough; they blocked up all the drains as well so none of the water could escape.  And even though this was a major university on the West Coast, I have no doubt that whatever geniuses were responsible for that, they're either now the dean of the school, or a captain of industry, I'm guessing in the lucrative field of water removal.
But that's exactly the kind of memorable conceit you sometimes need for a kid's cartoon.  Something to really stick in the craw of the mind.  Which brings us to this week's Tom and Jerry called Mice Follies, where Jerry Mouse and his younger grey counterpart (unnamed in this one) do exactly that... I mean, the ice skating rink at home.  I mean, if you can't bring yourself to the rink, why not bring the rink to you?  Especially if you've got as powerful a fridge as they have in the Tom and Jerry home; powerful, yet easy to tinker with.  Who knows how many kids went home after seeing this in the theater and tried monkeying with their fridge's internals?  Of course, in 1954 a lot more homes had a fridge, so it was a timely issue.  I understand that the filmmakers had this script in mothballs for twenty years, but the studio heads rightly pointed out that middle America wouldn't understand the strange device involved.
For the audience's benefit, the door of the fridge is opened, and the grey mouse turns the temperature knob as we all watch.  Spoiler Alert: note the setting for "Quick Freeze."  It's used later on at a crucial point in the proceedings.  Combine that with a flashlight and an array of colored gelatin desserts, and boom.  Frozen tempest in a teapot complete.  Time for some mice skating.
As always, Tom, symbolizing the lazy, post-WWII American father, is late to the party.  He sees mice mayhem in his very kitchen, but doesn't put two and two together until it's too late, no pun intended.  Tom eventually learns to use his claws to gain a toehold on this strange, slippery new surface... but the ever cruel Jerry Mouse is just as quick with a pair of scissors, and clips off all of Tom's claws.  It's at this point, with all hope lost, that the two mice grab the cat by the tail, drag him along the ice to gain a little momentum, then fling the cat with all their collective might, sending the cat sailing off the ice and into a local closet.  I just don't get it!  Every time I try that with my cat, it never works!
SPOILER ALERT: Screenwriters take note.  Just before the he-cat in the closet frees himself, a pair of skis falls from their place.  Now I know what you're thinking... but you'd actually be wrong in this case!  Tom finds a pair of ice skates.  Lol.  Tom has skied before, but the arena's apparently not big enough or appropriate enough for skiing.  Well, appropriate, anyway, because once the cat has his ice skates, the size of the house seems to have increased exponentially in size, as well as the area of the ice involved.  Tom's able to keep up with the mice in the ensuing chase, almost like your proverbial glove, and he almost catches the mice if it weren't for that darned ironing board.  Ah, the ironing board, ever the nemesis of the large bad guys in these cartoons.
They also manage to throw in one of their favourite gags.  It's a subtle one for a Tom and Jerry cartoon, to be sure, and sure, maybe it doesn't happen often enough to be called a recurring gag.  Jerry thinks the coast is clear, and carefully looks to make sure.  One instant later, the chase is instantly back on, with Tom hot on Jerry's tail.  I swear that they did that once before!  If only there were some sort of computerized record of such a thing...
...where was I?  I don't know.  Anyway, back to that thermostat in the fridge, where the real seat of power is.  The grey mouse ends up back beside it.  Now, personally, I think it's because it's near the end of the film, and tactics need to be changed.  It certainly can't be because Jerry's in danger of getting caught by the cat!  That rarely seems to happen as it is, and besides, I'm pretty confident that Jerry can take care of himself.  He already de-clawed the cat, for Gawd'z zake!  (note to someone: "zake" has a red underline, but "Gawd'z" doesn't.)  But whatever the reason, the knob is turned to... let me double check... "Defrost."  That's it.  And, boom.  Cat falls flat, mouse makes getaway.  But the cat's unaware of the Seat of Power, and really just wants to mess with Jerry Mouse a little more.  Why, a seltzer bottle will do just the trick!  Ah, the seltzer bottle, the Three Stooges' best friend.  As it happens, the seltzer bottle turns out to be a rather effective tool of cruelty that the cat can use on the mouse.  Why, nothing short of a little Ice Nine could stop Tom and his seltzer bottle now!  CUE THE THERMOSTAT...
And so, everything's frozen once again, plus a little more: Tom has turned into a living, barely breathing, frozen version of himself, thereby inspiring a few special effects scenes in Batman & Robin (1997).  It was just enough for the trailers, but as it turned out, people were expecting a little more from the two hour version.  God, people are so picky.  I don't know why, but I'm still loathe to give this one four stars.  Maybe I'm just not in the mood right now, but clearly the filmmakers did something right in terms of what we now call "future-proofing," if only for me.  Clearly I have no sense of celebration of the magical in life.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Anatomy of a Deferment

Welp, for once, Wikipedia says it better and more eloquently than I ever could.  I'll make a deal with you, Wikipedia: if you fix the Auto-Complete, I'll make my first donation.  And you should know what I'm talking about.  You start to type in a phrase, the rest of the phrase pops up.  That's kids' stuff by now.  You select the phrase that has popped up, then you go to the next page.  Wikipedia is the only site on the web that DOESN'T GO TO THE NEXT PAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I'm going to apply for a tech job at Wikipedia.  Clearly their standards aren't as high.
Also, watching Seein' Red, White 'n' Blue on YouTube is the way to go, because it helpfully informs us that it is now a banned cartoon, mostly because of its blatant references to World War II.  Cartoons were a lot more surreal back then, I'm assuming because it was easier to traffick in marijuana back then, and that it was all that the animators ever smoked.  Especially the ones that worked for Robert Clampett.  But seeing it on YouTube with the disclaimer turns it into a bit of a game.  Where does the offensiveness begin?  A horse with a human foot?  A mailman with near-sightedness riding an offensive bicycle?  An offensive portrayal of Satan?  An offensive attempt to get out of the draft?  Sure, they all set off alarms, but not to worry.  The comfort of the offenses we're more familiar with aren't too far off.
But I should probably mention the plot.  Hey, boy Bluto's back, and he's up to his usual tricks.  I dare say he's got some of his wittiest retorts in this one.  Bluto eventually receives his letter from the bumbling mailman.  Quick Long, meandering sidebar: the mailman finds the letter for Bluto at the bottom of his mailbag.  But to get to it, he has to throw all the other mail and packages out first.  Reminds me of that unforgettable, memorable, damn near epic scene where mailman Taylor Negron in Better Off Dead... (I always forget the ellipsis!) is seen leaving about half of his mail on the ground behind him in his wake.  Now, that's probably a felony, and the mailman would definitely receive a Letter of Removal for it, not to mention rightful scorn from his customers and his fellow mailmen alike.
BUT THEN AGAIN... a guy like Taylor Negron could probably get away with it.  Mailman Taylor Negron, that I can understand.  I mean... it's Taylor Negron, for f... Gawd'z zake!  My bro-ham!  Alas, the real life Taylor Negron has recently passed on, but I have no doubt he's in Heaven right now, teaching God how to be more douche-y.  I mean, where else is he gonna go?  He's Taylor freaking Negron, for God's.. for Taylor Negron's sake!  I can see it now, his first meeting with God, telling him "Pork pie hat!  Do you get out of the house much, dude?  Somebody fetch this guy a pork pie hat before it's too late!"
Anyway, Bluto finally gets his letter, and he says to himself, "Now, who do I know that can read?"  Ouch.  Did Bluto just gain some self-awareness here?  But he's ultimately able to decipher the note, and it's not long before he's appealing to the draft board in a wheelchair and foot bath.  The head of the Draft Board?  ...Popeye?  How did that happen?  Is this the end of Popeye as a working class hero as we know it?  You know, kinda like Homer Simpson is now?  When's the last time Homer had money troubles?
To cut to the chase, Bluto's efforts to avoid the draft culminate in dropping a safe upon himself.  Dropping himself out of a tall building didn't do the trick somehow.  Popeye ends up inside the safe, and Bluto ends up throwing the safe far away.  Makes sense in a way; similar thing happened in Draftee Daffy.  And then... okay, here we go.  Next scene: an orphanage.  An orphanage that has been taken over by Japanese soldiers on American soil.  Note the "sabotage plan" on the wall, along with a poster for "military secrets."  The safe crashes through the wall, and the Japanese soldiers quickly replace the posters with "Rock-a-bye Baby" and "I See the Bunny."  Very interesting parallel!  Well, kids have a hard enough time learning their ABCs as it is without making time for sabotage.  The Japanese soldiers dress up as kids and act like children in order to fool Popeye.  The ruse works for a while, but the Japanese soldiers eventually decide that the best course of action is to overwhelm Popeye.  Which they do.
Next scene: Bluto sticks his head in through the hole that the safe made in the wall of the orphanage.  He's covered in bandages and proudly exclaiming that he got his "exception."  Of course, when he sees Popeye getting beat up by a bunch of dirty... enemy soldiers... well, that tears it.  NOBODY beats up on Popeye but me!  And sure, maybe there's a little patriotism in there, too.  Reminds me of that scene from The Rocketeer that only I seem to remember, where old timey gangster Paul Sorvino (Eddie Valentine) says... why, it's right there at the top!  Kewl!  Let me repeat it anyway.  Sorvino's gangster is working for Nazi in hiding Neville Sinclair.  "I'm paying you well.  Does it really matter where the money comes from?"  To which the American gangster replies, "It matters to me.  I may not make an honest buck, but I'm 100% American.  I don't work for no two-bit Nazi."  If that doesn't sum up quite a bit about human nature, I don't know what does.  A little bit more succinctly than, say, in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining where Jack (Nicholson) says "I'm a man who likes to know who's buying my drinks, Lloyd!"  That Neville Sinclair could learn a thing or two from ol' Lloyd.
Alas, the Japanese are too clever for old Bluto.  And apparently Bluto can't see what's going on in the same room, from the way he's tricked.  And so, Popeye and Bluto end up in a heap on the floor.  It's all Popeye can do to reach into his shirt for the can of spinach.  But now is a time for sharing, in this time of rationing, and, much like in Fightin' Pals, Popeye gives his lifelong companion the other half of the spinach... and the can to boot.  What, is Bluto a goat now?  Needles to say, Popeye and Bluto team up with a giant American fist to kick some Axis power ass.  Apparently the Italian army gets a free pass.  Frankly, Italy was the weak link in the Axis power chain.  At least Switzerland did something useful!... for the Nazis, that is.  What did Italy contribute to the cause of fascism?  I mean, besides Mussolini folding his arms at the podium?
There's also an interesting cameo for Hitler.  Hey, Hitler.  Oliver Hardy called; wants his moustache back.  And to a lesser extent, Charlie Chaplin.

EPILOGUE - Bluto and Popeye are back at the Draft Board office.  Ooh!  They must've filmed that part the same day as the other Draft Board scenes!  Bluto's signing the paperwork, but asks Popeye "How do you spell Bluto?"  What can me say?  I got a chuckle out of that.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Christopher Scott Cherot

Boy, I tell you darling... being a darling of the critics is a bitch.  "Promising debut"... how are you supposed to live up to that?  Well, Christopher Scott Cherot's debut was a little film called Hav Plenty... I think it played on Comedy Central once or twice!  And apparently it tells the tale of upper crust African Americans.  Tales like these are usually consigned to the sit-com ghe... usually told on TV in sit-com format, your Fresh Prince of Bel-Airs, your... there must be another one.  I think it was on NBC.  Anyway, I'm assumpting... assuming that Cherot's doing okay for himself, and that filmmaking is one of those annoying hobbies that his parents had hoped would just go away.  Well, that's what you get for buying him a camera instead of a chemistry set or letting him dissect roadkill with surgical tools.
And so, it seemed that Cherot was all primed and ready to be the next John Sayles... but with a sense of humor.  Okay, that's not totally fair.  Oh, I'm going to get comments over that one.  And besides!  Cherot goes one better than Sayles and cast himself in the lead!  He seemed a little green in the clip I saw.  Maybe the new Matty Rich or Spike Lee.  Okay, not Matty Rich; you want to get more work than that.  Also, I don't think Spike Lee does his own editing anymore.  So what came next?  Well, something called Box Marley... which apparently didn't go anywhere.  But the next one was a pretty big deal: an R-rated full-length feature called G.  The plot?  A variation on The Great Gatsby, but with black actors instead of white.  Well, needles to say, the empire struck back.  Ebert gave it two stars.  Even The Village Voice came to F. Scott's Fitzgerald's defense to a degree!  Oh, there are some of Whitey's toes you don't step on, my friends.  But the filmmakers were big about it and they didn't play the race card.  Maybe it's a victim of bad timing; if you only waited ten more years, maybe it'd be the hit of the SXSW circuit or something, with a special screening at the White House... you know what I'm trying to say.  Anyway, most of the blame for the debacle seems to have gone from the hapless director to the film's producer, the son of Ralph Lauren.  Okay, so he changed his name from Lipschitz!  Do you have to print that fact?  So he's got good taste in names!  And probably fashion, too.  Sucks to be you, critics!
And from there, well... Cherot's trail runs cold.  The only thing that seems to be of note is a short called The Male Groupie.  And I know what you're thinking... but no, Rob Schneider didn't make that movie.  He made The Hot Chick and The Animal and two Deuce Bigalow movies, but not The Male Groupie.  No, Cherot put his nose to the Avid and stayed there, straying away to do the occasional directing work.  Well, it's like Roger Deakins said: most directors don't actually like directing; they just want to get the damn footage and get thee to the edit-tory, so to speak.  But it looks like Cherot's finally playing the title game.  Check out this film title: Sex and Violence! Or: A Brief Review of Simple Physics.  Oh, they'll be lining up around the block, especially since Enobaria's in it.  Very meta.  Simple physics, complicated and titillating biology... that's how it works.  Of course, you might have to do the junket and talk show circuit, all the big podcasts if you can... Huffington Post.  Get everyone a week before the big opening saying "Sex and violence!  Or a brief review of simple physics."  Incidentally, that's probably how you want to go to get to Spielberg as well.  Start with Enobaria, work your way up to Katniss herself, then go from there.

Chasing Catch-22

Fifty Shades of Grey continues its reign of terror at the box office at #1, with Kingsmen and SpongeBob still at #2 and 3, respectively... but what about the rest of us mere mortals?  What about the 99% of humanity that aren't billionaires or their strange-ass groupies?  What about us that aren't the audience's way in to an already long-established group of superheroes?  What about all the non-SpongeRoberts out there?  Well, it's nothing if not a time of reflection, of contemplation about our place in the universe.  Which brings me to The DUFF.  Now, it's rated PG-13, so it's probably not that.  And no, it's not a Simpsons spin-off movie either about their trademark beer, and how crumbled up bits of bacon have been added to it, making it more beloved among Springfield's beer-ficionados than ever.  No, it's a contemporary take on that old saw about the ugly duckling.  It's gone by many names over the years: ugly duckling, wingman, Mean Girls 2, what have you.  But movies have given certain concepts a sense of permanence, even more so than books; at least, they used to before the demise of video stores across the world.  What's becoming obsolete faster these days?  Books or DVDs?  And why does Tina Fey get credit for Mean Girls and not Rosalind Wiseman, the author of the book it's based on called ... Queen Bees and Wannabes?  I withdraw my question.
What I think I'm trying to say is ... geez, I take longer to make a point than Rush Limbaugh ... what I'm trying to say is that the "DUFF" in question is an acronym for "Designated Ugly Fat Friend."  The implication, of course, is that being a young, beautiful, sexually desirable teenager (to your fellow teenagers, of course) is in itself a form of drunkenness.  So, thank God for the ugly people, who keep society from collapsing into a complete orgy!  Which puts me in mind of my two favourite stories; it's apparently the ones I think of most often.  One, about how cows have strict pecking orders too; even when they're about to be turned into delicious, delicious steak, they go in in the same damn order every time, and two, about a couple of guys at the big Klan rally, and one says to the other something like "Even if we do manage to purify the race, we'll just keep going, and we'll go after people who dye their hair blonde, or we'll go after the ones whose eyes aren't blue enough."
But The DUFF doesn't have such pretensions to greatness, hence its debut at #5, but it is based on a novel, and I'm sure they're hoping to be the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid... even Hollywood proper is scratching its collective heads about how they squeezed three movies out of that.  But the concept of the designated ugly fat friend is one of the bedrocks of Hollywood storytelling.  Why, Thora Birch was the DUFF in American Beauty!  And Thora was the DUFF in Ghost World... or was it ScarJo?  I forget.  There's other examples, I'm sure... I'm not the guy to go to about examples, clearly... ah HAH!  Here's one.  The younger, less Conservative Dennis Miller once complained about being the Exposition Eunuch in The Net and Never Talk to Strangers.  But he got a little revenge in Joe Dirt and Bordello of Blood, with arguably mixed results.  Well, that's the price you pay sometimes: it's either doing movies, or being the next Johnny Carson.  Sometimes the world pushes back.
But let's look at it yet another way.  Who plays the DUFF in The DUFF?  Why, it's none other than veteran Disney actress Mae Whitman.  We'll leave aside the age considerations for now, but I suppose an actor or actress with 119 credits to their name at the tender age of 26 might have to let the academics slide a bit.  Let's focus on what it says about our standards of beauty.  I mean, Whitman's not exactly Rebel Wilson in the weight department.  Then again, going by face alone, she's got kind of a Daryl Hannah vibe going, right?  I guess it just depends on what you want out of life, but the societal games begin early.  Sure, high school was hell, but for me personally, middle school was much worse.  And knowing that that hell was going to follow me into high school my sophomore year, well... that tainted things quite a bit.  I guess what The DUFF is trying to say is what was once said in that memorable classic, Life Stinks.  The hero... or, rather, the star of the picture, Goddard Bolt, when they were tearing down a homeless encampment, I believe he said something like "They force me to live in the crap... now they're taking the CRAP away?  No!"  Why, it's right there at the top!  I guess the point is that when your position in the pecking order is threatened, no matter how lowly, sometimes you just gotta defend it... even if it means exploiting a jock or a cheerleader to do it.  Personally, I don't think I could ever go that far.  I'm not a total sociopath!
Speaking of sociopaths, Kevin Costner's February release, McFarland, USA debuts this week at ... whatever.  I think his plan is to release a movie every month this year.  For January, it was Black or White.  Who knows what March will bring?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Gone Off the Rails.........

...could someone tell me what the hell just happened?  I mean, Gone Girl is a critically acclaimed book and film, right?  Now, I love David Fincher as much as the next film geek... House of Cards, and his '90s works: Se7en, Fight Club... something in between.
I guess they're all trying not to hurt anyone's feelings, and from the buzz around it, I was wondering why Rosamund Pike didn't win the Golden Globe for her performance.  Having finally seen the film, now I think I know why.  The movie as a whole has let her down.  Let me put it this way... I'm reminded of a passage from The Man Who Wasn't There... the 2001 Coen brothers film, not the 1983 "comedy" featuring a naked Steve Guttenberg.  Spoiler alert: Billy Bob Thornton tries to re-hire super attorney Freddy Riedenschneider a second time, and Billy Bob's telling the sad story to him with all its twists and turns.  Finally the lawyer said that the story was "giving him a headache."  Well, that's what Gone Girl did to me.
That Rosamund Pike's character is a quasi-celebrity, whose life is the inspiration for a series of popular kids' books, certainly doesn't help, and it seems like an extra layer of complication.  But it seems that films these days need to stay close to the upper crust of society.  Sure, Spider-Man is sort of a working class hero, but his friend Harry Osborn's a billionaire, right?  It's a quick and dirty way to get the media satellite vans pulling up to the house when the disappearance goes public.  I'll try not to spoil the plot too much, but Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), goes missing early on in the film.  Was she kidnapped?  Murdered?  Maybe both?  Did she stage it herself?  Okay, I'll spoil one plot point that I had a problem with.  A lot of Amy's blood was left at the crime scene... or rather, sloppily cleaned up.  Turns out that she drew her own blood to do it.  Not enough to pass out, but enough to make it seem like it was murder.  Doctors and other health care professionals may have a problem with this plot point; I'm neither of those things, but I did.
I will give the author props for one aspect of the film.  My favourite part was where we finally learned the ugly truth about what happened.  Let's just say that Amy shares some not-so-nice insights about her fellow females.  Was it wrong for me to like those?  Probably.  I guess they're the kind of things a chauvinistic man would say, really... but more insightful.  Something like that.  Also, Amy seems to feel about Adam Sandler movies the way I feel!  No quarrel there, girlfriend.  I think I hate them with more of a passion, but never mind.  Alas, this quickly falls by the wayside as the plot grinds on and on...
For me, maybe the story would have been more believable if the characters didn't become instant media celebrities.  The average media sensation never seems to have a backstory that's so complicated, or so filled with twists and turns.  Take James Frey, for example.  Was he just pretending to be a fraud for a greater cause?  No.  He's just a fraud.  Then again, he's no killer... as far as we know.
Also, I didn't feel hipster enough to enjoy the movie.  The beginning dialogue between Ben Affleck and his sister seemed far too hipster to me.  Or douchebaggy, one of the two.  I couldn't help but feel alienated.  But God bless the hipsters and douchebags of the world out there.  If the Gone Girl novel and film speak to you, so be it.  Or maybe I'm just jealous because the Rosamund Pike beats me to the punch.  I was all prepared to say, well... all marriages are like Nick and Amy Dunne, aren't they?  My response is: all rich people's marriages are like this.  Middle class marriages don't spawn as many murders.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Baby, Baby Butch... Baby Butch I'm a Loving You

...sorry, but I heard that song recently, and apparently I decided deep in my brain that I would just have to use that as a reference to our next Tom and Jerry cartoon, Baby Butch.  ...whew!  Glad that's over.  Back to "Funkytown."
In a slight plot twist, this time it's the cat and not the mouse that's getting a bundle of joy to take care of.  A hungry alley cat sees the bounty of riches in Tom's refrigerator, and the notion is bourne: to dress up like a giant baby, and pretend to be abandoned in order to get some of that sweet, sweet food.  Anyway, the cat's note is quicker to the point, which even David Mamet would surely appreciate!
And so, just as Tom himself played the baby in Baby Puss, we got a different grown cat dressed in adorable baby clothes.  But Tom accepts the situation for what it appears to be, and does some quick growing up of his own, thinking that his job is to take care of this "baby."  He quickly gets some milk and gives it to the cat.  "MILK???!!!" the cat exclaims, throwing the bottle to the floor... he catches himself on the first bounce, however, and drinks the milk as a sign of good faith.  I know, I know... cats like milk as much as ham, but I suppose even a cat can be disappointed when they've got their mind set to ham, and milk comes in its stead.  I'm erring on the side of hope, what can me say?
And so, the black cat gets his paws on the ham bone, but finds it hard to schedule some time to actually eat it.  Needles to say, once the little rat... I mean, Jerry Mouse, gets into the mix, things get complicated, because Jerry (Mouse) sees the ham and wants it too.  They must've started scaling back on the budgets on these things, because they use the footage twice where the black cat steals back the ham bone and crushes Jerry with it for good measure.
Now, it's implied, I hope, that there's humans that own this house, and the various other houses that Tom and Jerry end up destroying.  Which means that Tom Cat is essentially the boss of the house, and is in charge of making sure that the stocks of food are kept safe, and at their proper temperature, or away from moisture and weevils if it's dry food.  And for the most part, Tom does what he can to maintain that oath.  Here, he's so smitten with the idea of stepfatherhood, that it's the mouse's job to point out that the black cat is loading up its crib with the contents of the fridge, and preparing for a quick exit in order to complete the act of robbery.  The blind leading the blind, I tells ya.  If there's a new low for this blue cat, I just ... I just don't wanna know about it.  Hang on while I watch the ending again... yes, the black cat, because he plays dirtier than Tom, knocks Tom unconscious with the fridge door; no small irony there.  The black cat's sailing towards the door, and once again, the mouse has to save the day.  It's a victory for teamwork, to be sure, but still... almost makes me ashamed to be a cat person.
EPILOGUE - Because, yes, there is one.  For some reason, I'm put in mind of all those monster movies that end with a fresh beginning... for some reason, all the ones from the '80s come to mind: your Critters 1, your Troll, your Child's Play, what have you.  Incidentally, why is the Gremlins franchise more beloved than the Critters franchise?  I guess probably because owning the Critters franchise costs way more.  I mean, how many did they make?  Six or seven?  My point being is that Baby Butch is kinda like that, because the black cat dressed as a baby returns.  And right in the middle of dinner, too.  The cat and mouse were sitting down at the dinner table, getting ready to slice up some ham, and as Darrell Hammond as Phil Donahue might say, God is in his heaven above and all is right with the world.  And then... he's back, with the same old shtick, saying "Da da?" and pointing to his mouth.  Well, the church types still say "Love Thy Neighbor" even though in all the history of film, and probably real life as well, it doesn't usually work out too well.

Great double bill with: Porky's Bear Facts; of course, Porky's Bear Facts seems like The Grapes of Wrath in comparison

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Spinach Is Fer Heroes

Well, I don't know who the hell that is (in the picture to the left), but our next cartoon is a Popeye cartoon.  That must be one of his cousins from the deep South or something.  Or maybe it's Mr. Bogus!  Love that guy.
Anyway... as you can tell from the pic, this one's titled Spinach Fer Britain.  Now, when you think of Britain and World War II, you're more likely to get the damn dirty Nazis rather than the damn dirty... Japanese fighting forces.  But if a Japanese regiment did attack Britain at some point, don't worry... Spielberg's on it.  Probably.  In this case, however, Popeye grows weary of constantly defeating the Japanese.  Time to move on to the next enemy!  Now it's time to make the Nazis look like bumbling oafs.  Well, if the Stooges can do it, why not Popeye as well, I say!
I swear I saw this on television a long time ago, because I remember the Nazis talking as though it were yesterday.  Alas, the closed captioning on the DVD is no help, as it just says "(Speaking German)."  They say something like "Schoe schoe..." and then "Heil Hitler!"  I just remember the "Schoe schoe" part as though it were... anyway, so we get a brief intro of a teeny Nazi sub causing serious damage in the water.  We start with what looks like one of the boats from You're a Sap, Mr. ... you know.  I think it was the boat that Popeye was on.  Anyway, the Nazis are so dumb, they blast one of their own out of the water!  If only that happened for real...
And so, we get to Popeye on a big boat, heading for Britain with spinach, thereby aligning his mission with the film's title all too perfectly.  BUT THEN... the previously introduced Nazi sub runs afoul of Popeye's ship.  Now, Popeye can't defeat the Nazis right away, apparently... this isn't that kind of a Popeye cartoon, for some reason.  We gotta pad this out a bit to the length of one reel.  So, we get a long bit where Popeye confuses machine gun fire for a woodpecker... and he seems to take way way too long to figure out what's going on.  Now he's no Nazi sympathizer, but still... SHEESH!!!  One misstep after another and BOOM.  To cut to the chase, Popeye runs afoul of some sea mines.  But he's just a cartoon character, so he can get blown up by sea mines all day and all night!  He'll shake it off... but break his heart?  He goes to pieces just like you and me... sorry, wrong film.
But we do come to that proverbial last straw, and Popeye's boat has become naught but more detritus in the sea, and this was before all that plastic!  Popeye has lost his payload of spinach fer Britain and is getting his own ass drowned'd under the sea, with no Disney mermaid in sight to save him.  Now, Popeye ends up with a dunce cap on his head, but it's got the Nazi sub propeller on it, if memory serves.  Hmm!  Guess I need one of those too.  But when life hands Popeye lemons... it's time for spinach, and he opens that can with his propeller dunce cap, engulfs the spinach (WITHOUT the same old gulp noise!  Niiiiiiiiiice.....) flies back up to the surface, much like in Axe Me Another, but this time it's to whoop some Nazi ass, and not Bluto's big fat one.  And yes, Popeye says "Heil Hitler" over and over again, but every time he does, he gives one of those Nazi bastards wings, by punching them up into the sky.
Of course, the big question is... doesn't Britain already have spinach seeds?  Well, of course, but the point is American Imperialism, probably.  Sure, it has its drawbacks, but we're still better than Nazi Germany, right?  That argument's long been settled, hasn't it?  Surely the Internet will settle the matter once and for all... oh, skip it.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Ayoka Chenzira

Somebody send Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People to Don Imus for me, will ya?  Heh heh heh... anyway, here's another short one for me to do.  Of course, if you were to ask Ayoka Chenzira what her favourite decade is, it is of course the 2010s.  I mean, the decade of Obama and Facebook!  What could be better?  And tiny drones you can fly yourselves!  With douchey GoPro cameras on them!  Um... it's called freedom?  Hel-looooooo?... and, another blow to freedom.  We shoulda known it couldn't last.  It's Altamont all over again, and the Hell's Angels are once again given the keys to the kingdom.
But once upon a time, there was a decade called the nineties.  We'll be really pining for it around 2020, I think.  Of course, the 70s are still the go-to decade for nostalgia these days.  I mean, those awful haircuts and shoes and outfits!  And the awful disco music!  Boy, violinists must've really cleaned up back then.  But in the '90s, all the non-Spielberg studios were in turmoil, trying in vain to connect with a more multicultural audience.  And lesbianism wasn't just being exploited by Howard Stern, either!  No sir and ma'am!  In the 90s you could make a film called The Positively True Adventures of Two Girls in Love... I think that's what it's called, but someone just dropped some pancake batter on my microprocessor and I can't open any other websites... okay, here it is.  Close enough.  You could get a green light on a film called A Woman, Her Men and Her Futon.  I believe Brad Garrett played the futon; he's certainly got the voice for it, anyway.
And so it was with Ayoka Chenzira and her nineties' era film called Alma's Rainbow.  Of course, she'd been making films off and on before then, but I mean, this was it.  Alma's Rainbow announced the arrival of a new voice on the scene, a new vision for the silver screen, and that name was, is and shall always be... Ayoka Chenzira.  And upon hearing that, the bigwigs over at MGM said "Ooh!  Animé!  I love it.  That's the hot new thing.  Get this... whatchamacallit on the phone.  Let's start production on a Ranma 1/2 movie!"
Needles to say, something terrible must've happened after the release of Alma's Rainbow.  Chenzira had always been a little skeptical of Hollywood, but after Rainbow, there was little doubt left.  Time for the fallback position!  Maybe she a-holed her way out of the biz, as Chris Rock once mentioned once, but maybe she got a relatively decent severance package, hopefully.  I'm put in mind of A Woman, Her Men and Her Futon, because I thought the writer-director of that went AWOL afterwards... not exactly!  Well, he used to be called Mussef Sibay, but sometime during the Dubya Administration he got a Name-ectomy and became... Michael Sibay.  That's... that's a step in the right direction, right?  Sounds a bit like Michael Bay, doesn't it?  Of course, he's not afraid to take a potshot at Dubya through film.  I mean, did you read the plot description of 2007's The Road to Empire?  Judging from the title, you'd think it's a pro-Bush rah-rah film... but that plot description, I dunno.  Perilous search for the truth?  Duplicitous husband?  An explosive mystery with far-reaching consequences?  What's with all the questions, Question Boy?  Huh?  You some kind of Question Boy with your purdy mouth?  Sibay must be a li'l purdy; after all, he played the lover in The Crude Oasis.  If you're ugly, you ain't gettin' that kind of a role.
And while we're on the subject of Republicans... boy, people really burn me up.  People on MSNBC in particular, asking questions like "Do the Republicans have a plan?"  Do the Republicans have a plan?  Um... get elected to office?  Hel-loooooooo?  That's the plan!  What more do you need?  What more could you possibly want, you peasants?  You peons?  You get-peed-ons?  It's very simple.  1) Get elected to office, and 2) do whatever the Koch brothers say.  Mostly try to repeal Obamacare and mention Benghazi as often as possible... you know, appeal to America's youth.  Do the Republicans have a plan.  Sickening.  Makes me want to vomit.
...oh, right.  My software's churning away, probably down the wrong path as usual, but if Chenzira wants to get to Spielberg, I think my idea of following the actor or actress with a photo on the IMDb is the most fruitful path yet again.  So, for Alma's Rainbow, that just might be Victoria Gabrielle Platt who, incidentally, is apparently known for Alma's Rainbow!  I mean, that's... that's one of her four things, isn't it?  You know, her IMDb Top 4?  At the top of the page, wouldn't it?  That'd be a good opener for the phone call, by the way.  Call up Victoria and say "Yo, Vic?  It's Ayoka!  No, don't hang up yet.  I was just online and looking at your IMDb page, and Alma's Rainbow is still in your Top 4!  I have to cut this short, 'cuz I'm heading for the tunnel, so can you get me a meeting with Spielberg?"
Okay, so the call to Victoria Platt was a success... but where to go from there?  Well, she was in Winchell with Stanley Tucci, who was of course in The Lovely Bones.  There.  Problem solved.  Maybe mention Transformers 4, what the hell!

Kardashian Twerk Doxx Shawshank Godfather Jeb Epic Fail Drone Monkeys Flinging Poo KONY 2012!!!!

...sorry about that.  Well, sometimes you gotta risk alienating your audience to get ahead.  And by sometimes, I mean every time.  But the big story this week at the box office is... I forget... Fifty Shades of Grey?  Yecch.  Well, aphrodisiacs are a funny thing.  They're eternal, yet people always want the latest and the greatest.  Takes their minds off of planned obsolescence, or planned parenthood.  Who wants to go back to Basic Instinct or its sequel, or 9 1/2 Weeks or its sequel? ...oh, apparently Mickey Rourke returned for the sequel.  Ouch.  Well, if that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about sexual politics in America, nothing will.  Older, not-so-funny-faced man gets a fresh 20 year old model.  The point being, the days of The Bridges of Madison County are far behind us; actually, Nicholas Sparks is trying to keep that spirit alive, if only in his bank account.  So, what's it going to be, America?  Drop the kids off at American Sniper and go watch Fifty Shades of Grey yourselves?  I say yes.  Your kids are gonna want a good sniping job.  The Army's the only one that's hiring these days!

(Monday) FINALLY!  The totals are in and... wow.  A movie about sex hits #1 at the box office... there's a joke there someplace, or maybe a bad simile.  Yes, it's time for the adults to have a little fun at the cinema.  Between Fifty Shades of Grey and that Kingsmen movie, it was a pirate's kinda weekend... all the top movies are rated RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR... hah!  Sorry about that.
Yessir, some hot new directors are gonna be getting all the work now.  I didn't read the whole sentence and I thought Bryan Singer did Kingsmen.  Turns out it's that kick-ass Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn.  Well, he knows that if you're going to do comic book movies, you might as well pick the best, most beloved property you can.  In Kingsmen's case, ... whatever.  It's British.  The next hot young variation on Men in Black, if you will.  As for Fifty Shades of Grey, well... that director is Sam Taylor-Johnson, and she... and she is a she... has got nowhere to go but up.  It's probably too early to predict, but... Oscar for Best Director?  It's still over a year away, but who knows.  Of course, the Oscars are probably going to go for something a little less racy.  I know, I know ... the whole enterprise is watered down in the Sex Department as it is, as any self-respecting orgasm connoisseur will tell you.  But it's the principle of the thing!  Besides, doesn't the title obscure the tawdry subject matter enough?  Think how that feels when you say it.  "And the Oscar goes to... Fifty Shades of Grey."  Doesn't that just feel right?  ...a little more to the left, you say?  Too much of a wink?  No, the gold has to go to the latest World War II period piece, or something about the British royal family, written by Peter Morgan.  Well, the perverts will have their day in the sun!  Mark my words!
Oh, I forgot to mention that Sam Taylor-Johnson's name may sound familiar.  That's because she's now married to star of the Kick-Ass series, Aaron Taylor-Johnson!  Now, according to the birthday information on the IMDb, ... (Sep. 18, 2015) Welp, I think the evidence is in, folks.  You can't increase your hit count, even with the internet spiders.  This one only has 23 hits.  Meanwhile, someone's going CRA-AZY over this post I titled "The Curious Case of Koko the Clown."  Hmm!  Wonder how my review of Benjamin Button is faring...

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Powwow Suburbs

Our next Tom and Jerry short is called... Two Little Indians?  Whatever.  So, how many Oscars did that get?  Surely one for Best Animated Short is not enough!
Now, I hate to get up on my high horse as much as the next guy, and I understand that violence against the cat is one of the founding principles of this series... but sometimes even they go too far.  Here, on two separate occasions, Tom gets an arrow shot into his nose.  I'm not sure why I'm not a fan of that.  Maybe because it's a bad example for our kids, maybe because it's not Jerry doing the arrow shooting, I don't know.  Now, if it's in Tom's ass, okay.  And of course, we get a few of those here.  Well, that's one of those rules of comedy.  An ass injury's funny.  Nose, not so much.  That's why the guy in Burn After Reading felt a straining in his ass and not his nose.  This is stuffy nose about!
Anyway, the plot.  Jerry is once again visited by the Little Grey Mouse of the Future Generations... actually, there's two of them this time.  They've grown to a point where they don't need to constantly eat, but they are hungry for adventure and excitement (see how I did that?) and just generally satisfying their curiosity about this crazy world we live in in general.  And they've certainly learned what pop culture has taught them about Indians: bows and arrows, smoke signals, smoking the peace pipe... and of course, scalping the white cat.  Or a blue one will do!  Tails are chopped, scalps are removed, arrows galore in asses and noses.  Now, I know we're supposed to side with the mice, but I did kinda like it when Tom swatted the two little... little grey darlings with a barbecue spatula.  They survived the swatting and moved up to more subtle battle tactics.
I hate to spoil the ending, but here it is.  When the ante gets upped, Tom gets his Daniel Boone hat and an old-timey rifle off of the mantle.  And even though it's got its own powder horn, it fires almost as fast a machine gun; no reloading necessary!  Saves time that way, I suppose.  One of the grey mice springs a leak in Tom's gun, and Tom chases the other grey mouse, leaving a trail of powder behind him... you'll never guess what happens next.  Not in a million years.  Of course, the powder by itself isn't sufficient for the big explosion that this and every other animated cartoon almost needs to end with, but Tom adds that later when he ends up in the shed next to the red gas can and the beige oil bucket... beside the white chickens.  Kony 2012!  Shark officially jumped.  I always forget that "glazed with rain water" part.  And it's, like, the best part and everything!  Sheesh.
I guess what I'm ultimately trying to say, ultimately... this one's kinda weak.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Long, Dark Night of the White Jazz

Welp, our Popeye and Tom & Jerry shorts once again have similar plots this week.  I swear I didn't plan it this way.  In this case, it's youth run amok.  Try as we might to shepherd the next generation, they gotta do their own thing.  Wasn't it that way when we were kids?  If not, then it's too depressing to contemplate.  Reminds me of that short sci-fi story we read in school that one time, about the planet where it rains for seven years at a time, and then there's this one hour break when the sun comes out... you know, kinda like Seattle.  Anyway, so there's this one kid in the group that all the other kids hate, so they decide to lock this kid in the closet for that hour while the rest go out and enjoy the sunshine.  I think the story was supposed to be about guilt.  It was a different era.  Nowadays you'd get some lip service about the closet kid's injuries carry an inherent nobility.  Nowadays it's just "Hey, at least it wasn't me in that closet!"  In fact, they just turned it into a series on Spike TV called "IN THE CLOSET, BITCH!!!!!"  Maybe on the new "SyFy" as well.
...did I mention this short film about a guy in an elevator already?  Might as well take care of all my nostalgia points while I'm at it.  & ¶ Okay, back to the instant case, entitled Me Musical Nephews.  The setup's quite simple, really; it's another Popeye cartoon that's like a bad One Act play.  All the action takes place on one "set" and... spoiler alert... no Olive Oyl, no spinach, no Bluto.  Just Popeye and his four Hellspawn.  We start with Popeye falling asleep on his comfy chair, while the four little brats play away on their various instruments.  Kinda reminds me of I Love to Singa where the young owl opera singer in training likes to break out in the occasional jazz riff, singing a song called "I Love to Singa."  Boy, those were the days.  Nowadays we can't get people to shut up.  I mean, when Peter Gabriel says "This display of emotion is all but drowning me," something's wrong in the universe.  Enjoy this YouTube link while you can, because in about 48 hours the Copyright Gestapo will shut it down.  Sorry about that!  :\  Of course, modern audiences know it better from the South Park reference... you can look for that one yourself.  I feel filthy enough as it is.  I mean... I LOVE those South Park boys!  Seventeen seasons!  BASEketball and Orgazmo are revered classics now!
And so, Popeye's trying to stay awake, but sleep seems to be winning.  I would've loved to see some of the original footage that got Rotoscoped on this one, if they still did that.  Also, nice to see that the hideous Junior Popeye quartet seems to have mellowed a bit since their last spinach-fueled concert which ended with beating the living crap out of Popeye.  Popeye's learned his lesson this time: no spinach around for miles!  Anyway, on to the next demand: the four little sweetie-pies want Popeye to tell them a bedtime story.  But first, they must get ready for bed.  They of course let the tap run for a long, long time, and only use a couple drops on their faces... wait a tic!  They're actually brushing their teeth?  Maybe they're not so dumb!  Also, they apparently had a lot of dirt on their faces, but unseen like the detritus that gets onto cars, which I don't understand.  How can the dirt catch up to the cars?  It doesn't make sense!  Cars go faster than dirt!
And so, the seeds of Popeye's destruction are sown when he fails to tell the four little cutie brats a sufficiently entertaining bedtime story.  It's more of a Shrek-like mashup, but alas, Popeye will get no credit from his four devious nephews.  It's all instant gratification for them, God bless 'em.  Popeye hauls them off to bed while they complain about getting screwed.  I mean, they brushed their teeth for God's sake!  Nothing less than the Iliad will do!
So many rituals.  They're really padding out the time on this one.  Now it's time for the little brats to say their prayers before they go to bed.  They find a way in even this pure and simple ritual to stick it to Popeye, but spoiler alert, I guess Popeye doesn't believe in saving the best for last.  Now it's Popeye's turn to go to bed.  He probably should've said his prayers, though, considering what he's about to go through...
SECOND HALF - Even though this is basically a One Act play, it still at least has two halves.  I just... I can't bear to break it down into three Acts.  Maybe someone else can do that for me.  Anyway, the four little pukes can't sleep, and so there they sit, trying to figure out how to pass the time.  Eventually, a notion is bourne... MORE MUSIC!  They initially start much like Grandpa in ... Betty Boop and Grampy?  Not a very creative title, is it?  Well, Grampy makes up for it with all his crazy ideas later on.  Enjoy that YouTube link while you can, BTW.  I'll have to refresh it in about 12 hours as the link will get shut down.  Sorry about that! :<  And so, the four little darlings start out slow with instruments they create out of ordinary bedroom items, but eventually prestidigitate their brass arrangement for a full-out orchestra blasting away.  Popeye eventually gets woken up by it, but confuses it for the radio.  Boy, they're really padding out the time on this one.
And so, we get a slight variation on that earlier Fleischer classic, The Kids in the Shoe.  In that one, once the junior orchestra starts up, it just can't be stopped... except by the threat of castor oil.  Here, Popeye's four sociopathic nephews have a more devious plot in mind.  By some Black Magic, they're able to stop their loud playing on a dime.  Schrodinger's Cat, indeed!  Popeye eventually figures out that the boys are playing a trick on him, but no matter how hard Popeye tries, no matter how Popeye sneaks into the room (window, floorboard... everything but the kitchen sink!) he's unable to catch them playing.  They're craftier than the Japanese pilot in that last one, Scrap the... you get the idea.  Surely they engulfed some spinach on the side that gives them Dashiell Hammett... I mean, Parr-type speed?
Now sure, Popeye could've eaten some spinach, but this is family, not another beating for Bluto.  Also, Popeye maybe could've moved his bed into the nephews' room, forcing them to pretend sleep... but that would just be creepy.  Frankly, I'm sorry I even made the suggestion.  Someone get the Creepy Police down here immediately?  Please?  And so, Popeye retires to his bedroom, a beaten man.  A thoroughly beaten man.  How's he going to report to the ship in the morning now?  ...ah HAH!  There is one way out... that's right, it's time to break that old Fourth Wall.  Anything to get away from his four adorable nephews.  Alas, they're on top of that, too.  It's all Popeye can do to run out of the theater, as far away as possible from his four little... adorable nephews who he loves very much.
Ah, memories.  Not so long ago, on one of Ted Turner's networks for cartoons... maybe Boomerang, they had a promo that featured part of this cartoon in color.  And a good version of it, too!  Not a version that looks like it was colored in with crayons by five year olds.  And so, even though I don't care for Poopeye and his three brothers, there's just something about Me Musical Nephews.  Maybe the music, maybe the trickery... oh, I remember now.  I guess it's like Alfred Hitchcock once said about competence, that the audience can love a bad guy if he's good at his job.  Here, the four little pukes are good at their job.  At this point in the Popeye franchise, I'm just desperate for any sign of life, what can I say?

Good double bill with: that earlier Fleischer classic, The Kids in the Shoe. (go right to the fun part)  Enjoy this YouTube link while you can, because it'll get shut down in about 36 hours.  Sorry about that. :/

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Pete Chatmon

Another young Hollywood sprout, so to speak; arguably, when you're close to 40, if you haven't made it as a director, you might as well find a craft and specialize in it, like catering or Best Boy.  I mean, Grip.  Grip.  But surely, there must be a way for a guy like Pete Chatmon to get to Spielberg?  I was going to go the God Loves You Alexandria Wailes route, but... check this s... stuff out!  Here's the real way to go.  Call up your former Premium actress Zoe Saldana... am I right?  Be sure to start off by saying "You don't remember me, but..."  A little false modesty can't hurt.  Of course, she's booked solid until 2033 with her various franchises, your Avatars, your Star Treks, your Guardians of the Galaxy, what have you... did I get all of them?  Screw Spielberg!  Get to J. J. Abrams, the new Spielberg!  He's Spielberg, Lucas and Michael Bay all rolled into one!  You might have to settle for a catering job on one of his pictures, but it'd be totally worth it!  So you gotta feed some Ewoks on the set of one of the new Star Wars movies.  Nowadays there's still ravenous types out there willing to kill for that job.

Jupiter Descending... SpongeBob Rising?

Costing more than the Matrix trilogy and Speed Racer combined, and starring two of the biggest, hottest young stars there are right now, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, Jupiter Ascending... debuts at #3, just behind American Sniper and the new SpongeBob movie.  Ah, old-fashioned Hollywood.  I guess they're not getting the sympathy that World War Z got, for one.  It's just one of those things.  All the people who are fans of Tatum and Kunis... guess they have high standards after all.  Now, if it were Magic Mike 2, then sure, that'd be number one.  I mean, how are you gonna face your grandkids after you tell them that you didn't go to see Magic Mike 2 on opening weekend?  They'll be all "Why can't my grandparents be cool?  I wish I had cool grandparents like the other kids at school do."  But on the plus side, it's already doing better than Cloud Atlas... oh, wait, that debuted at #3 as well.  Well, surely it'll last three weeks or more?
Frankly I've dwelled on it for longer than I thought.  So we got Jupiter, SpongeBob, and the last bedut... debut this week is Seventh Son and it marks the triumphant reunion of The Dude and Maude Lebowski, but something tells me this ain't as fun as Gutterballs.  Oh well.  Probably a little more serious than R.I.P.D. as well!  Go figure.  This marks the American debut of young up-and-coming 66 year old director Sergey/Sergei Bodrov.  Well, I tell ya, he keeps this up, he could be the next Timur Bekmambetov!... I knew I wasn't gonna spell that right.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Short Reviews - February 2015

And now, for our special guest reviewer, Peggy Noonan

Good Night, and Good Luck. - I have no problem with George Clooney making a movie about Edward R. Murrow taking on Joe McCarthy, I just have a problem with him thinking that he did it all by himself.

The Monuments Men - I have no problem with George Clooney making a movie about saving art during World War II, I just have a problem with him thinking he did it all by himself.

The Thin Red Line - I have no problem with George Clooney making a movie about going to the Guadalcanal during World War II, I just have a problem with him thinking he did it all by himself.

The Peacemaker - I have no problem with George Clooney making a movie called "The Peacemaker," I just think that nuclear terrorists should be dealt with by the free market the way Jesus intended.  You know, when he had that free concert at Red Rocks?

Ocean's Eleven - I have no problem with George Clooney making a movie about taking down the hated casino mogul Andy Garcia, I just have a problem with him thinking he did it all by himself.

From Dusk Til Dawn - I have no problem with George Clooney making a movie about the vampire apocalypse, I just have a problem with him thinking that he won it all by himself.  I mean... what's Juliette Lewis?  Chopped liver?

Return of the Killer Tomatoes! - I have no problem with George Clooney making a sequel about killer tomatoes, I just have a problem with him thinking he defeated said killer tomatoes all by himself.

Up in the Air - I have absolutely no problem with George Clooney downsizing the last remnants of the American workforce... best thing to happen to them, frankly... I just have a problem with the number of air miles he's racked up, so to speak.

Burn After Reading - ...WHY DID HE BREAK THAT MACHINE?  WHY?? I WANT ONE!!!!!!!!

...okay, take a break, Peggy.  You've worked harder than you should of... have.

Aliens of the Deep - NASA just announced a submarine that could explore the methane seas of Saturn's moon... probably Titan.  Well, James Cameron wants in!

The Great Race - Tongue thoroughly in cheek, of course.  I never saw the opening credits before!  Jack Lemmon's name and picture card comes up, and the audience on the soundtrack boos.  Tony Curtis' name and picture card comes up, and the audience lets out a mighty roar.  Then the title card comes up... "THE GREAT RACE".  The audience goes "Ugh.  How long is this movie?  The pie fight's at the end, right?  What's on ESPN?"

Groundhog Day - Wow!  This has to be the most low key Groundhog Day ever!  Doesn't anyone care?  I guess it was overshadowed by the Superb Owl, so to speak.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - Ah, just like the American economy now: barter-based and Thunderdome-based.

Some Girl / Something About Sex - do I end up with these things?  I gotta stop these drunken DVD-buying binges!  I guess these two movies belong together on the same DVD, ultimately, as even the filmmakers aren't willing to put up the money to do commentary and all that other hoopla.  Not every movie can afford to have a documentary crew on hand to film the cast and crew joking around.  But really, when you get right down to it, these two titles together are an apt description of your average movie.  "What's this movie about?"  "Oh, some girl... something about sex."  Way better title than Denial, dontcha think?

The Prisoner of Zenda - Boy!  The IMDb Auto-Fill is dissing the Prisoner of Second Avenue a li'l bit!  ...that's that Nintendo game, right?  Ah, good times.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue - Well, there's your problem right there.  As David Letterman might say, you're trying to make your big time movie about New York City as a hate-filled hellscape, and you're doing it with a PG rating?  Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze.  NC-17 minimum for starters!  Taxi Driver and Bad Lieutentant 1 knows that... also, Letterman would throw in a couple jokes about rats and squirrels in Central Park.  Ah, rats and squirrels... Letterman's only friends.

"Fargo", Season 2 - ...well?  When's it debut?

"Harve Karbo" - ...well?  When's it debut?

Hail, Caesar! - Got my ticket! ...oh, right.  It's for next year.  No wonder it cost me $100!

Heaven is for Real - With Margo Martindale as the pudgy best friend and/or disappointed mother, looking on in quiet concern

Spellbinder - With Kelly Preston as Elizabeth Taylor

Mischief - With Kelly Preston as the mischief

Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers - ...did they film this at the same time they did Yellowbeard or what?  Boy, what were they smoking?  Also, there's your problem right there.  As David Letterman might say, you're trying to make your big time Cheech and Chong movie, and you're doing it with a PG rating?  Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze.  NC-17 minimum for starters!  Go figure, even Cheech and Chong got tired of remaking Up in Smoke and Things are Tough all Over.

Rude Awakening - With Eric Roberts as Chong

School's Out - With Eric Roberts as... Eric Roberts.  Dude... you need to dial it back a bit or something, Roberts.  You've got, like, 500 movies in production!  STRESS KILLS!  And Julia's STILL not going to invite you over for Thanksgiving!

Humoresque - So, what's it going to be, John Garfield?  Is it your little music, or no wire hangers?

Assassination Games - Great opening credits, but I'm pretty sure the dead guy's not Jean-Claude Van Damme... wonder if Van Damme ever worked with Jonathan Demme?  And if not, why not?

"Bosch" - They wanted an Anthony Bourdain-type for the lead

Chairman of the Board - Wow!  They have it on YouTube!... ah, close enough.

Desperately Seeking Susan - Oh, how Madonna wishes she could play that role forever.  Can't do it when you're old and thin!

Every Thing Will Be Fine - So here's the plot: a writer is driving around aimlessly after a domestic squabble, and he accidentally hits and kills a child... Bjorn Olaf Johannessen, are you trying to tell us that you shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?  Or are you trying to say that, yeah, you remembered Lily Tomlin's story thread from Short Cuts too?

The Falcon and the Snowman - ... Private Eightball?

Focus - ...Features?  Oh, I LOVE that company!  That's James Schamus' new company, right?

Free the Nipple - I know, I know, the law is biased against women.  On the other hand, the law isn't exactly championing that film called Free the Testicle either, right?.... there is a film called Free the Testicle, isn't there?

Gone Girl - With Kim Dickens as Amy Adams

Gone in Sixty Seconds - With Christopher Eccleston as Raymond Halicki... I mean, Calitri

Hi, Mom! - Rear Window but with movie cameras.  And everyone seems to have them!  Why, De Niro's so young in this, he looks like Bill Pullman.

Kingsman: The Secret Service - Finally!  A movie with Michael Caine and the new Michael Caine, Colin Firth!

The Limits of Control - Who's the Ghost Dog NOW, bitch?

Looking for Lola - Wow!  What a terrible opening credits font!

Looking for Kitty - See?  Now that's the more appropriate title!

Maximum Risk - Oh yeah!  Natasha Henstridge!  Wonder what happened to her.  Good thing this came up when I was looking up Until Death.

Pet Sematary II - I just wish certain directors were less concerned about their age and more concerned about choosing good projects.  But there's also a certain amount of luck involved as well.  Even Stephen King can't figure that one out.  I mean, he could've sworn that they'd get ten films out of The Graveyard Shift or the Pet Sematary series.  Even he's shocked by the proliferation of the Children of the Corn franchise.

Schizopolis - Lol.  Are you a follower of T. Azimuth Schwitters too?  Go bold yourself today!

Seein' Red, White 'n' Blue - Boy, this is, like, the stupidest film ever.  "Seein' Red, White and Blue."  IT'S IN BLACK AND WHITE!!!!!!  DER!!!!!  DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sibling Rivalry - Universal concept, obscure movie.  Yeah, reminds me of that time when one of my younger siblings introduced me to one of their co-workers.  The co-worker shook my hand, and I couldn't help but notice, in that sociopathic way of mine, the strange look on the co-worker's face.  And then it hit me, and I thought to myself, "Oh!  You've heard about me... and I'm guessing it's none of the positive stuff." I'm waiting for someone to comment "Obscure?  Hardly.  Why, it airs all the time on TBS and I happen to own signed copies of it on VHS, Beta, laserdisc, DVD, Blu-Ray... and 16 and 35mm, and I have the poster on my wall, signed by all the cast and crew!"  To which I say, okay, Rob or Carl, I will retract my earlier judgment immediately, and offer my sincerest apologies.

"The Slap" - Ah, great title.   Reminds me of this asshole I was friends with in high school.  He must be like Sam Hess in season one of "Fargo" by now.  Lots of kids, good job, summer home on Bear Island, really sweet!  He sent me a friend request on one of your social network channels out there, and I couldn't help but think to myself: desperation.  Rose-colored glasses, three pairs.  I mean, shouldn't I have to do something humiliating first to earn the privilege of being online friends with you?  But what can I say?  I'm just a beta male in an alpha male world... make that omega male.  Oh, I can only wish to be a beta.  Why, that guy's so much of an alpha, he's probably online friends with all his ex-girlfriends!  Now they could tell some stories; of course, they know what happens if they don't keep their mouths shut.  Swift retribution.

The Star Chamber - Okay, Movie SATs time.  What Dick Miller is to Joe Dante, Don Calfa is to .....................

The Terror - With Boris Karloff as Jack Valenti 

Tommy Boy - Hey, Tommy Boy.  Planes, Trains & Automobiles called.  Wants its font back... AND plot!!!

Until Death - Wow.  Stephen Rea in a NON-Neil Jordan movie?  What will Neil Jordan say?!!!

The English Patient -  Ah, Miramax.  They make the movies that win all the Oscars, then years later online critics ask themselves and the world "... that swept the Oscars?  Boy, what were they smoking back then?"

The Artist - Ah, The Weinstein Company.  They make the movies that win all the Oscars, then years later online critics ask themselves and the world "... that swept the Oscars?  Boy, what were they smoking back then?"

Hannibal Rising - They do kitsch as well!

"The Simpsons" - Now, I love The Simpsons as much as the next person, but I was a little taken aback when Lisa recently called the cartoon strip "Peanuts" a one-hit wonder.  Well, you know how it is.  Even Charles Schulz foundered at first when he was starting out, and some of his pre-Peanuts stuff is interesting to look at, if only to see what it would eventually become.  I hate to throw around terms like "billion dollar empire," but "Peanuts" can certainly be called a franchise, maybe even beloved to some, even if it's not so beloved in the halls of Gracie Films and company.  (it actually is)  I think of it as a different time.  Nowadays, sure, you have to branch out and try for that second hit, but trying to compare "Peanuts" to "Funkytown," well... doesn't sit too well with me.  Maybe I'll get over it.  After all, they already took their potshots at "Family Circus," and well-deserved, in my opinion.  "Family Circus" is just kind of the Rush Limbaugh of cartoon strips: no one knows how it got there, and everyone knows it'd take nothing less than a Constitutional amendment to get rid of it.  Now, Garfield... yecch!  That's a one-hit wonder.  And arguably, Johnny Hart of B.C. fame has one and a half hits under his belt, if you count his co-founding of The Wizard of Id... but I don't want to come to his defence, and risk the wrath of the cult he joined near the end of his life.  Okay, back to business as usual.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - This Nick and Norah fascinate me.  Surely, these characters are taken directly from real life and not from some Film School reject's curriculum?.............

The Thin Man - BUSTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After the Thin Man - Ooh!  The drunk guy from Scram!  What's his name again?

Fifty Shades of Grey - The Huffington Post apparently has the first review of the movie... big deal.  It's probably going to disappoint the fans.  You know, the way the casting of Presumed Innocent did way back when.

"Mad Men" - Welp, now that the big plot secret's been spoiled for me, I guess we should call it The Return of Martin Publicité.  C'est vrai, oui?

Sommersby - Makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind...

Breathless - Geez Louize!  How many French films is Richard Gere gonna remake here?!!!

Tombstone - Now, I'm not sure if Tombstone is a red-state kinda movie.  Something tells me it is.  But it's got a rather potent scene, if not anti-gun, then surely pro-gun control.  One of the young town elders of Tombstone says something like, "We're soon to be the next San Francisco!"  Just afterwards, a fight breaks out from the saloon, and a guy accidentally gets shot, rather close to where all the guys we're with are standing.  Doc Holliday quips, "Very cosmopolitan."  So, even a guy like Doc Holliday thinks there's too many guns.

Unfinished Business - Yeah, Vince Vaughn wishes he was in The Hangover trilogy too.

Yellowbeard - By Yellowbeard's yellow, the phrase "A Mel Damski Film" is going to mean something to you, God damn it!