Sunday, February 28, 2016


...sorry.  I've literally run out of headlines!  I need to go on a retreat or something.  Anyway, as David Letterman might quip, if he were a student of Looney Tunes, about Golden Yeggs he might say "Now there's your million dollar cartoon right there.  Straightforward, good vs. evil, slapstick..."  Of course, he was more of a Beavis and Butt-Head kinda guy.  Sure, Letterman interviewed Mel Blanc back in the day, but what did Mel ever do for him?  Damn little, if memory serves.
But if you are indeed a fan of complicated plots a la The Sixth Sense and what not, then Golden Yeggs is probably not for you.  In fact, there's probably damn few Looney Tunes with such a complex plot, but they find greatness in their own ways.  Now, sure, Golden Yeggs is kind of a variation on Friz's earlier Slick Hare.  There's the countdown, the threat of violence, the thrill of an impending deadline... but this time, it's not old softie Humphrey Bogart pulling the strings!


But before we get into all that, here's a Moment of Zen for you: a pig feeding a bunch of chickens!  I have this one on my portable device, and I found myself going back eight seconds and watching this scene over and over again.  I was just mesmerized by it, hypnotized even.  Porky Pig saying "Here, chi, uh ch-chi uh chi-chick!"  Now, I've recorded the clucking of chickens myself, and Golden Yeggs does indeed have some of the real deal in it.  But then, here comes Mel Blanc playing the panicked chicken.  Terrific.  Way to break the spell, guys.
And so, we find out what all the fuss is about.  There's a golden egg in the henhouse.  Capitalist dreams suddenly fill Porky's eyes.  He's struck it rich, or so it would seem.  Now the investigation begins.  Which of his flock produced the egg?  You know, everyone always gives credit to Shrek for really skewering the Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes of old... and to a lesser extent, the Hoodwinked! series.  WHAT ABOUT LOONEY TUNES?!!!  What about Foney Fables?  Am I the only one on this coast who's seen it?  Surely there's one or two of the original animators in a home somewhere, muttering about how they didn't draw Bugs Bunny, they drew pictures of Bugs Bunny.  They believe there is a difference.


Amid all the publicity... oh, right.  I forgot.  So, this new Hick Goose character, straight from an Art Davis Looney Tunes, is the one who actually laid the egg, but Hick Goose gives the credit to Daffy Duck, who's playing a regular black duck in this one.  All the chickens hail Daffy a hero, something Daffy's so not used to, but will gladly take credit for.  And so, a publicity campaign begins.  Newspaper headlines.  Cover of Life Magazine, no less!  Which, as it turns out, is read by the mob.  Mel Blanc's short mobster is reading the magazine, and says to his goons, "We're going into the poultry business."  Clearly this isn't the funny mobster of Bugs Bunny's The Unmentionables, but oh well.
I remember seeing the scene with Porky's bruised head as a lad, and not being able to internalize it all quickly enough.  Ah, the days before TiVo.  Porky's got a couple bucks in his hand for his troubles... a pig with hands that was feeding chickens.  The wonders never cease.  And so, a quick-cross fade later, and Daffy's being forced to lay golden eggs for the mob.
Of course, the mob aren't complete monsters.  After the initial round of holding a gun on Daffy, Daffy comes up with the idea that he needs a more pleasing setting in order to lay another golden egg.  And so, the mobsters move him to a place in sunny Beverly Hills, with a pool and everything.  Daffy's finally enjoying himself, floating there in the pool and sipping a drink.  But every paradise comes with a price, and soon the mobsters return, wanting that damn golden egg.  Daffy, lost in the moment, daydreaming of a bygone era, gives some half-assed reason why he can't be bothered with the filthy task at hand, and he goes right back to daydreaming.
Well, the mobsters soon take care of this indignity!  Nick, the tiny boss's big goon, fires a pool torpedo from his handgun and sinks Daffy's raft with a mighty screen-engulfing explosion.  Daffy uses the occasion to treat it like the sinking of the Lusitania.  Very odd, and if you're part of the ever-watchful Creepy Police, this might set off a few alarms in that direction.


It's the final, absolute last straw for Daffy with the mobsters.  And so, the final deadline is handed down: a golden egg in five minutes, or else... it's a compressed five minutes, obviously.  More like about two and a half in terms of screen time, but you get the idea.  And so, like Daffy and Porky trying to escape the hotel in Porky Pig's Feat, Daffy tries various methods to escape the hotel he's been moved to.  I believe this also informed Stephen King's thinking when he came up with the first story of Cat's Eye... love that messed-up '80s movie.
...okay, I've done the necessary stats.  So, depending upon your point of view, the final ultimatum either starts at 4:11 with the initial proposal, or it starts when Mugsy Rocky leaves the room at 4:27 and the hotel door slams.  I'm assuming that the five minutes ends after Daffy bashes the noisy clock to bits, and the three gangsters reappear in the extra-wide doorway that accommodates them all, which happens at 6:00 in the proceedings.  Therefore, it's a five minutes that either lasts 1:49 or 1:33.  Ah, the power of cinema.
"No egg?" asks the diminutive Mafia head.  Daffy gulps and says "Uh uh!"  This is why Mel Blanc is so revered as a Thespian, you see.
And now, that thin line between violence cartoonish and all-too-real gets crossed.  But to be fair, Daffy only gets the top feathers on his head shot off.  Again, not the cute, cuddly mobsters of The Unmentionables who eventually get turned into, or stuck inside of, a couple of cereal boxes.  Thinking he has crossed over into the next life, Daffy's eyes glaze over and turn into a circle with a tiny dot in the center, and we hear a Clampett "Boink!" sound.  Daffy looks and... how about that?  A golden egg!  Daffy, in his usual happy go lucky style, says "Just goes to show you!  You don't know what you can do 'til you got a gun against your head!"  The NRA should really hold that aloft as a great reason for the existence of guns, let alone gun ownership in general.  Frankly, the whole argument about the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, well, sure, it's got a Zen-ish quality to it and all, and the whole cut and paste aspect to it, repeating the "guy with a gun" part, but even the best of quotes get stale after a while.  I go back to the college admissions guy who told a group of us that he's just so sick of that Gandhi qoute... quote about being the change in the world.  What about his suffering at his job?  I mean, what?


Where was I?  Oh yeah.  While Daffy's Takeaway (c) from this Teachable Moment (TM) is that it's all about the gun, for the rest of us the Aesop's fable lesson is probably "Never take credit for an egg you didn't lay, especially a golden one."  Particularly in the modern era, even when this cartoon was made, when thoughts turn more industrial than ever.  Now sure, Rube Goldberg himself probably never invented a machine that contained parts such as a psychotic mobster with a gun and a golden-egg-laying fowl, which is where the mob comes in.  It's all about the money, right?  And when Daffy sees that room full of empty egg cartons, and the mobster tells him to fill them up, Daffy's eyes turn to either crosses or plus signs when he faints, depending on your perspective.
And now that I've finally turned off even my most fervent readers, I might as well bring up one of Friz's compilation movies that contains extra footage, probably The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie... HAH! Nailed it.  They show Daffy filling up those boxes and getting shot in the head.  Eventually, paramedics come to take an exhausted, traumatized Daffy away.  Someone asks Daffy if they can get him anything.  Daffy simply says "Get me a proctologist!"  Oh, these affairs just aren't for kids.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Sania Dosunmu

You know, every once in a while you get a title like Dinner With the Devil.  Now it might turn people off, if only for some of the same reasons that a dinner with, say, Jesus would.  You can probably guess what the conversation's going to be about.  Where's the excitement?  The surprise?  But it's from 1975, so it harkens back to an era of big wigs and platform shoes with goldfish in them.  A simpler era, and dinner was a bigger deal.  In France, it might have been a big lunch with the Devil, with a nice wine.  I was reminded of the old Bobcat Goldthwait punchline about wanting dinner and drinks first.  I guess the Devil might still do that.  I imagine he'd do that with someone like Ted Cruz, after the ink on the parchment's dry.  But whatever the case, Sania seems to have lost their taste for directing, so to speak, after just the one film.  Must've been a bad experience.  Couldn't handle the pressure of a big time film like that, had to quit the biz forever, you know the old story.

Mortals of Tinseltown

So, the big debut this week is something called Gods of Egypt at #2.  I'm happy it did well and all, but it's kinda too slick for me or something.  It's a slick, green-screen surface that I just can't cling to at all.  But it gives Bill Maher a chance to complain again about Gerard Butler movies anew.  And it's a renewal of faith for Gods of Egypt director Alex Proyas.  I'm surprised he has a career at all, seeing as how he killed the son of Bruce Lee... I know, I know, we're not supposed to talk about that.  Same thing with this guy and Gone Fishin'.  So a crew member got killed!  So what?  Think long term here, people!  Gone Fishin' is a memorable classic that we watch every year at Thanksgiving and Halloween!  Isn't that what's important here?
At #5, it's Eddie the Eagle.  Not as hard of a sell as Cool Runnings, but at least Cool Runnings was a bit of a hit.  And at #6, it's the gritty crime drama Triple 9... noticed I didn't use the word 'urban'?  ...Damn it!  It's more David Ayer-esque fare, but from a different director of music videos gone legit.  His name is the vaguely familiar John Hillcoat.  He looks like the lead singer from the band Midnight Oil, and he's finally got his day in the sun, just like Anton Corbijn and that George Clooney movie he did a few years ago... man, how time flies.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Next Looney Tunes: Non-Sexual "Boobs in the Woods"

Our next Looney Tunes, called... hoh boy... Boobs in the Woods, well, it's kinda lame, but I still kinda like it.  It's not a Clampett or a Jones, and doesn't have any terribly classic gags in it... which makes it a perfect McKimson.  Arguably, this 1950 Looney Tunes is a lot like 1942's My Favorite Duck, only without the inherent dramatic tension of "No Duck Hunting" signs, but this is addressed when an irritated Porky gets out the shotgun and threatens to use it on Daffy.
Just before Daffy became the "greedy coward" of Ducking the Devil fame, and Bugs' eternal foil of the hunting trilogy and of other fare such as A Star is Bored, Daffy was lunacy incarnate on the silver screen.  He's mellowed somewhat here but he tries to keep the spirit of St. Loony Up the Cream Bun and Jam alive.  He's got those dead eyes again!  Creepy.  And yet, Arthur Davis' fingerprints are otherwise not on this one.  Anyway, Daffy gives us an opening song, then disappears underwater, with a sign saying "See You Later!" floating up in his wake.


As much as this can be broken up into acts, Act One consists of Porky's introduction.  The great American road trip has certainly evolved over the years, but it had special significance in the '50s, what with paved roads finally being perfected and all.  Leave the drag racing to the kids in the big cities, I say.  Well, Porky's got no kids to pile in the car to take with him, but he certainly needs to get away from the big city for a while, if only to avoid being turned into semi-organic bacon.  His hobby on this trip?  Painting.  We start with a nice subtle visual gag with Porky's painting.  The animators must have gotten a kick out of this one, unlike how the Korean animators who work on The Simpsons don't like the way they're portrayed.  Not one iota.  Daffy interferes with Porky's artistic creation, to put it mildly, to the point where Porky pulls a shotgun on Daffy.  Well, he's still calmer than Julian Schnabel.  No whooshing sound upon Porky's loaded return!  I'm disappointed.  Daffy uses his gift for characters and improvisation to work his way out of getting shot by Porky, and we plunge headlong into politically incorrect territory when Daffy puts on a Pocahontas outfit.  Daffy ends up in a one-man... I'm sorry, I mean a one-duck powwow.  Hard to say what's worse: Daffy's capering, or Porky's reaction to it - Porky smites Daffy to the ground, saying "Ah, shut up!"  For the moment, I think Porky's much worse.


Porky decides that, since Daffy's messing with his painting too much, it's time to try some fishing.  But this is the 1950s and Porky is one of the early multi-taskers, apparently, so the fishing will be done as automatically as possible.  Porky rigs up a fishing line to a bell close to the edge of the lake.  We'll leave that aside as a viable fishing method for now.  Daffy, hiding behind the rock, waits for Porky to get far enough away, and ... yup, he rings the bell.  As I said earlier, this cartoon has its rewards, and Porky running to see the size of the fish he's apparently caught, tripping on every last thing in his path as he goes, is probably one of the best gags in this thing.  You've had a day like that.  We all have.
Now, after this first incident, Porky says "Gosh!  It must've gotten off the hook," with the usual stutter in there someplace.  Porky walks away, Stage Right.  Daffy quickly reemerges from behind the rock... and Porky LOOKS BACK AT HIM!!  Okay, Porky doesn't turn his head, but his eyes look back!
LOOK UPON IT!!!  ...boy!  I usually never use a 2nd image like that.  And so, it's like George W. Bush once said... something about shame on you for fooling him once and... something else.  Needles to say, Porky falls for the gag a second time, but he's not going to be made a sucker a third time.  Pounding his little pork fist into his hand, Porky walks slowly away Stage Right, and Daffy goes for the bell a third time.  Boy!  He's really working that bell good now!  But even Daffy's got a sense of shame in certain circumstances, and he turns white as a sheet when he finds Porky waiting for him behind the rock.  So much so that he sounds like the Nazi hotel manager from Porky Pig's Feat when he falls down the endless spiral staircase.
Porky's getting ready to chop off Daffy's head with an axe this time.  And then... the second stroke of genius.  Daffy's got a bell in his hand and rings it, thereby saving his skin and his head.  Porky goes over to check the line.  To Daffy's surprise, a very very large fish is on the hook.  Dayamn!  That fish is taller than Porky!


Now, technically, the Third Act should start when Daffy destroys Porky's car engine, but I think this juncture might ultimately be a little more apt.  "Have you got a FISHING license?" Daffy asks Porky. Porky produces the license.  Daffy asks for a dog license.  Porky produces one.  Daffy's next request is a tricky one, but Porky happily obliges, Porky's previous grievances with Daffy apparently all but forgotten.  Daffy quickly fixes that with his next line of inquiry: marriage license.  Daffy's eventual response is another stroke of genius, IMHO.  Porky's snapped out of his spell and gets angry anew at Daffy.  Daffy messes with Porky a little more, but frankly, Porky had it coming.  Porky chucks a rock at Daffy.  Can you believe that?  Daffy turns it into a game of baseball.  Daffy messes with Porky, but only until Porky ends up in a giant puddle of mud.


Porky finally decides to cut his vacation short, saying "I'm gonna get out of here before I'm as nutty as that duck!"  The angrier he is, the less he stutters. 
As with the rest of the cartoon, Daffy's antics are in response to what Porky's doing.  Porky's preparing to leave, so naturally Daffy has to leap into the car's engine and rip it out piecemeal!  Much like Bluto in The Spinach Roadster, but Daffy's got far loonier plans in mind.  Porky just misses seeing Daffy destroying his car's engine, and he didn't look around on the ground to see the various parts strewn about.  You think that wouldn't be hard to miss!  Oh well.  That's Porky for ya, stubborn as a mule.
Porky tries to start his car.  Daffy mimics the engine noise, thereby creating "Speed Buggy."  Porky gets out of the car and walks over to the engine, and Daffy starts making the engine noise again, thereby startling Porky.  Same thing happened in Case of the Missing Hare.  I knew I'd remember it!  The magician puts swords into a box and Bugs makes pain noises.  However, Bugs' timing was off on the third sword, and the magician got wise to Bugs.  Never try to fool a magician, even one as clunky as the one in Case of the Missing Hare.
Porky looks inside his car's engine to find Daffy in there, messing about.  Ah, Daffy the Method Actor.  Even the director couldn't make him stop.  Porky jumps inside the car's engine and does some tinkering of his own, and the result is strangely perverse!  Porky has engineered a duck-powered car, and the choke lever on the car's console causes Daffy to actually get choked.  I guess you could call this a variation on getting your face stuck in a goofy position.  You know, that old saw about getting slapped on the back when you're making a face?  It worked in One Crazy Summer, if memory serves...  please don't make me watch that again.  Alas, Savage Steve Holland and John Cusack weren't destined to ever work together again.  Same with Demi Moore and Lara Flynn Boyle.
Anyway, as you can see from the first attached pic (that you don't have to move to your inbox to see, by the way), Porky's got the proper permit to do that to Daffy.  Frankly, I can hardly blame Porky, but I still sort of don't feel right about it.  So while the cartoon with the non-future-proof title Boobs in the Woods isn't the best Looney Tunes ever, it certainly isn't the worst.  I still think that that dubious honour goes to Catch as Cats Can.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Andrew Dosunmu

Yes, the sun and the moon shine down on the lucky few sometimes and bless them with talents beyond the average... and Andrew actually got some reviews!  When a poster's got one of those things in white with the leaves around it?  That means prestige.  That means film festivals.  Usually big city film festivals, although those things are getting usurped now a teeny bit.  I think Seth Meyers used them in this bit about Boston films, for one. 
But even the jaded sophisticates over at The Village Voice acknowledge that a film can be predictable and still have a big emotional impact.  Let's face it!  There are finite plots, but far more variety when it comes to the ethnicities of the peoples involved.

bo 2-21-16

America, Hail, Caesar! has already slipped to #10.  That makes me sad.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Without a Clue

Welp, that horrible time in an amateur film critic's life has come once again where they get a regular job, and they can't devote the kind of quality time they used to to the more fun things in life.  I've got a non-film criticism based job, and it's a tough one.  Probably just as well, because I can tell you right up front that Deduce, You Say is a wonderful satire of Sherlock Holmes...
...and yet, there's something about it.  Something very very non-Looney Tunes.  First of all, it's terribly British.  However, Daffy's kinda like Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves... know what I mean?  Not so strong with the accent.  Porky and everyone else, on the other hand... dayamn!  I've never felt so alone in the world!  Second, the plot structure's so much like a Sherlock Holmes story that the Looney Tunes-ness that this affair is supposed to have gets lost in the shuffle.  But that's Chuck Jones for ya.  Always with the inferiority complex, always trying to show people that these little cartoons for the tiddly winkies are so much more.
But I suppose that that's one of the secret joys of this affair.  It's not like Harry Potter where it's a mystery for a child to solve.  It's just a very, very, very simple "case" that needs solving.  It's more of a self-solving case, if you will.  If anything, Daffy's slowing everybody down, needlessly padding out the length of the cartoon to six or seven minutes.  And it does question the very notion of Sherlock Holmes to begin with.  Talk about the ultimate lack in social graces!  "The bread crumbs on your lapel suggest that you're a raging foodie, and you stop off at the pub before heading home after a hard day's work in the coal mines.  Your hands, however, suggest that you've never performed a day's work in your life," he might say.  Not to mention the whole arms race, where criminals try to out-clever the police, the police in turn trying to out-clever the crooks and their superior officers.  But I am reminded of a time when Uncle Miltie used the line "Elementary, my dear Watson" in a similar grade-school-ish context... damn.  They don't have it.  But they've got a nice sketch he did with Basil Rathbone!  I gotta go........

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Dennis Dortch

Just goes to show you.  Never underestimate the power of a positive review from Variety!  Never misunderestimate that.  I mean, look at all this subsequent TV work!  LOOK AT IT!!!  I haven't heard of a single one of the shows, but they must be good!  Multiple episodes and what not.

Crappy Valentine's Day

And why is it crappy?  It just is, that's why.  First of all, Hail, Caesar! isn't doing all that great at the box office... but maybe it's already recouped its losses.  22 million?  That's, like, twice the budget of Inside Llewyn Davis!  Boy, they know how to stretch their dollars.  Probably spent that much on TV ads.
So Hail, Caesar! is down... but Deadpool is up.  $132 million is quite a haul for a Kick-Ass-esque thing by Marvel.  After this, they really can do it all.  And I'm pretty sure Ryan Reynolds could use a hit right now.  Kinda like Jennifer Aniston in Office Space.  She'll always be grateful for the cult status of that film, her publicist informs me, even though she wasn't the star.  Typical male-dominated Hollywood.
...or is it?  Check out How to Be Single at #3 with the four female leads... did I just mistype it as "femail"?  Phigures.  It's the new Steel Magnolias, folks.  Spring Breakers, "Girls" on HBO, this... in the Battle of the Sexes, both sides seem to be losing somehow.  Oh, Rebel Wilson's fun and all, but she has yet to carry a movie by herself like Melissa McCarthy can.  And Leslie Mann's just trying to break hubby Judd Apatow's heart, isn't she?
And speaking of Apatow, Apatow's buddy Ben Stiller put his heart and soul and about three months of principal photography into Zoolander 2, only to have it debut at #4.  I'd feel more sorry for him, but he really needs to let go of getting his sketch show on Fox canceled.  I mean, if "The Ben Stiller Show" doesn't get canceled, where's Ben's big-ass movie career?  Where's Bob Odenkirk on "Breaking Bad"?  Where's Andy Dick being a trainwreck?  See what I mean?  What a crappy Valentine's Day.... oh, and Antonin Scalia died.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of that huge right-wing piece of crap, of course.  Seriously though, he was pretty awful.  And just like Reagan should have had a third term, now the Republicans don't want to fill Scalia's vacant seat.  They want to fill it in with concrete, just like Boo Radley's hole in the tree in "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Yeah, obeying laws is hard, isn't it, Republicans?  FILL THE DAMN SEAT!  LET OBAMA FILL THE DAYAMN SEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Searching for Goldie Potter, or The Brotherhood of the Self-Travelling Pants

More weirdness from Chuck Jones.  Here's an obscure Porky Pig cartoon called Wearing of the Grin, which is probably a pun.  I'm probably not Irish enough to fully appreciate this one.  I've only got a sliver of Irish heritage in my DNA, and probably not enough to justify a family castle.  But you know it's a good cartoon if it's got both a music-only track and a DVD link to a mini-documentary.
Anyway, much like Water, Water Every Hare, a Warner Bros. cartoon character finds themselves at an old abandoned mansion... at least, it seems to be abandoned.  In this case, it's Conde Nast extraordinaire Porky Pig traveling in Ireland, a fitting symbol for American Imperialism if there ever was one.  Especially so, since Porky just goes ahead and lets himself in the place!  Okay, he did use the doorbell, and the place was unlocked... what knockers!  And so, Porky calls out to see if anyone's home, kinda like Scatman Crothers in The Shining.  Porky's salutation rings out through the large empty mansion, of course... more Imperialism.  I think Mel just said the line over and over with a little bit of echo to it, and truncating it ever so slightly with each iteration; easier that way.  Pre-digital, you know!
And so, the chief Leprechaun, as we come to find out later, makes his first appearance.  He tries to explain to Porky that the castle is abandoned except for Leprechauns, as the sign outside tried to explain.  Porky treats the guy worse than the help!  Oh Dude... Porky slams the castle door, and a giant mace falls on Porky's head.  Now Porky may look like he's dead, but screenwriters take note, as you will have to re-watch this one from this point.  Sorry... spoiler alert.
We come to find out that the Leprechaun is in fact a double decker, as there's a brunette Leprechaun doubling as Seamus / O'Pat's legs.  The brunette Leprechaun gets paranoid, thinking Porky's after their pot of gold.  No wonder this guy's the legs.  Cooler heads must prevail. 
...meh, I can't get into this one.  Sure, there's the big moment when Porky freaks out, and the HLIC (Head Leprechaun in Charge) says to him "Pretty weird, huh?  You not be believin' what's afore ye little pig eyes now, are ya?"  ...something like that.  Then there's a big trial, and Porky's got to put on these Green Shoes, turning him into the Looney Tunes equivalent of ... Michael Flatley?  Kinda can't believe I remembered that!  I only looked it up two days ago!  At first, Porky doesn't think much of the court's punishment... until it takes him on a semi-psychedelic yet harried journey across a Dali-esque landscape. 
And then... SPOILER ALERT: it all turns out to be a dream!  A fever dream, brought upon by the nearly fatal blow to the head from the giant mace.  Porky decides to seek lodging elsewhere, American Imperialism is averted, and the two Leprechauns shake hands, the one from his post in the pants.  Mission accomplished.  Again, I'm not Irish enough to really appreciate this one.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Michael Dorn

...Worf?  Seriously?  Boy, everyone really does want to direct!  Seriously, though, I can imagine being in his shoes, with the television directors he must've suffered through.  Peter Bonerz, Howard Storm and Rod Daniel, what have you.  One can't help but look at them and think "Aw, hell, I could do better than that!"  But Worf's directorial ambitions are clearly less than Riker's.  At least Riker got a few things up on the silver screen.  Of course, it's an unspoken taboo of Hollywood that Klingons have been traditionally kept out of the silver screen director's chair, no matter how long they've worked with the Enterprise in good faith.
As with other stars of Star Trek, they tend to stick to directing Star Trek stuff.  Shatner, Frakes, what have you.  Well, Riker does plenty of other stuff.  He's got a slightly broader range than Shatner, and yet, less mass appeal.  Who'd you rather have a beer with?  I don't know the "Star Trek" equivalent of 20th century Earth beer, sorry.  And so, Dorn's done a couple Star Trek episodes and... "V.I.P." ?!!!  Love that show.  I guess Pamela Anderson's too goofy-looking now to get her own show again.  Dorn also wrote and directed "Through the Fire," a thinly veiled autobiography for the TV market.  I guess none of the critics covered him when he ran.  Oh well.  But he did give a significant part to someone named Ron Dorn.  What a good brother slash parent!  Hey, there are no small parts, and New York doormen are the secret keepers of the city and its secrets.  Take the creepy door guy in that one episode of "Seinfeld"!


Well, Universal did just about everything they could: wall-to-wall adverts on the TV, releasing the film in a relatively uncrowded weekend... maybe that's it.  Maybe everyone's gone to the Super Bowl already.  But they decided to dump their kids off at the more reliable Kung Fu Panda 3 instead.  No, no one wants to take what they perceive to be the broccoli / medicine equivalent of the cinema, and they can tell, too.  I mean, everyone loves the Hemsworth twins but they somehow knew to stay away from Rush, for one.
But now that everyone's a semi-professional videographer these days, maybe it's not so bad to reflect on the way images used to be manufactured and distributed... but I'm getting into my review a little bit here.  Time to just focus on the horse race aspect.  Alas, the people spoke, and they decided they'd wait to just get the Blu-Ray of the Coen's seventeenth directorial effort, Hail, Caesar!  I just may have to sign up for IMDb Pro to find out what all they've got in the pipeline... oh, right.  For one, there's Suburbicon that Clooney's going to direct.  Maude Lebowski's returned to the fold, so to speak!
We've got two other debuts that Panda 3 wasn't able to deny entrance in the Top 10 this week.  At #5, it's Nicholas Sparks' latest... At #6, the oversaturation of zombies in the movie marketplace... actually, movies, TV, and novels, it's the latest example of the present chewing up and spitting out the past.  First, we had Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Now we've got Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Or, if you want the prestige of the plus sign, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies.  You know, like Flesh + Blood and Romeo + Juliet.  I really just don't get it.  I guess it's like how those who failed at spelling bees grew up to become titans of the business world developing phrases like "Tumblr" and "Artic Blue."  Now the trend is to warp the minds of all Comp. Lit. teachers everywhere.  Soon we shall be completely flooded with books like "Alexander Fleming vs. Ebola" or "Harriet Tubman: Hip Hop Star."  It's kinda fascinating to watch.

Hail the Coen-quering Heroes

In 2003, during the short media blitz for the much hated Intolerable Cruelty, the Coen brothers, George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones all appeared on an episode of The Charlie Rose Show... why, it might be on the internet someplace!  Meh... someone else can look for it.  Anyway, at one point, Charlie asked about a project in development called Hail, Caesar!, and I don't think they were talking about the 1994 buddy pic starring Anthony Michael Hall and... someone else... Samuel L. Jackson?  Wow.  Bet even he doesn't remember that one.  Ethan said, incredulously, "How'd you hear about that?"  And Charlie responded, "I told you!  I'm a fan!"  Well, it's 13 years later, and it is finally out.  One last celluloid-only holdout in the new digital era.  Clearly the Coens are a fan of Jason Mann's work ethic.
Now, as you might be aware, when it comes to film criticism and the Coens, I'm the critical equivalent of the old woman from The Tenant who micturates on everyone's rug except for Roman Polanski.  So what did I think of it?  Well, I'm a creature of habits, fortunately or unfortunately, and I kept thinking "Where's the Closed Captioning?  Where's the remote?  Can I rewind this one part... oh, right."
Now, most Coen films are unusual, and Hail, Caesar! discovers new ways of unusual-ness.  For one thing, Coen films usually take place over the course of a week or two, but apparently this one takes place during one action-packed day.  Fitting for the subject material, I suppose.  Secondly, they've never made a film like, say, And Now for Something Completely Different or Shorts, a film with a series of very loosely connected sketches.  Hail, Caesar! is a little like that, but everything turns out to have a purpose; more like Short Cuts, I suppose, but PG-13.  However, the Coens push the PG-13 rating a bit, even if it seems only slightly, especially in the Internet Age.
Also, Coen films usually only make use of footage in the film for the trailers.  In that respect, the instant case is more like a regular Hollywood film.  Where's the long shot of the blue van?  Where's Clooney rubbing his teeth?  Where's... WHERE'S CLOONEY?!  He's only in it for, like, FIVE MINUTES!  Sorry, spoiler alert.  There better be a lot of extras on the Blu-Ray, I'm just saying. 
Now for those of you out there thinking the Coens have gotten all soft and complacent... the Farrellys, for example... well, perhaps that's true, but I'll give it til the third or fourth viewing of the instant case to figure that out.  I'm no expert, in the final analysis.  But it all seems a little familiar, sure, as filmmakers tend to make the same kinds of films.  Joel and Ethan are no exception to that rule.  They're all here.  All the usual Coen collaborators, all the usual Coen themes: a kidnapping, a character saying "The point is," the excruciating period detail, the excruciating detail in general ("Head Shots to be Filmed Later"... love it!!!), the "whoosh" sound when a door opens, their trademark motorcycle noise (during the "No Dames!" dance sequence, spoiler alert)... all the things we love about their movies.  Oh, and Capitol Pictures was also the name of the studio in Barton Fink, but alas, Colonel Lipnick has since moved on.  Studio fixer Eddie Mannix answers to Joseph Schenck in New York for the day-to-day studio operations... I mean, Nick Schenck.  I didn't know he had a brother!
But surely, The Movie Hooligan, there was something about the film you didn't like?  What's nagging at me?  Well, I feel sort of let down on behalf of Fred Melamed, even though he says he had a good time on the movie.  Fred here has a role more like the ones he usually has in a Woody Allen movie: far too small of a part.  But whaddayagonnado?  He plays one of the... no, I won't spoil the surprise.  I guess one of the lines that will stick out for the academics among you out there will be "This is about economics, not money."  There's probably one or two right-wing economists out there who would vehemently disagree.  The Coens borrowed Robert Picardo from Joe Dante to give him a small part as a rabbi.  I was trying to think who he sounded like, and then it hit me!  Martin Landau!  Epic.  It's definitely the largest cast they've ever worked with, and for the budget fetishists out there like me, it's probably the most expensive, second only to the much maligned Intolerable Cruelty.  Well, I guess one of their films has to be the worst.
Okay, here's a nitpick.  Now, I love Tilda Swinton to death, don't get me wrong.  She's a sweetie pie.  But she plays dual roles here.  Before the IMDb entry got updated, she was listed as playing "Hedda Hopper."  Now the IMDb's been corrected, as it turns out she plays twin gossip columnist sisters, possibly based on Hedda Hopper, or maybe Dear Abby, who knows.  As with the Paul Dano character in There Will Be Blood, one is more savvy than the other.  However, as good as Tilda is, the differentiation between the characters could've been a little, tiny bit stronger.  Maybe if one was a blond and the other a redhead?  That kind of thing.  I thought the Coens were obsessed with hair!  Sloppy work, guys.
I'm probably forgetting some nuance that the New York Times reporter picked up on... and I'm sure I missed most of the references.  But I did get that the director of the action Western was probably John Ford, that Scarlett Johannson was Esther Williams, and Veronica Osorio was supposed to be Carmen Miranda... although, given when the film was supposed to be taking place, she was probably well past dating age.  Just saying.  Plus, people lived harder back then.  If you made it to 50, you must've had a deal with the Devil... ooh!  I just thought of something I noticed.  One of the Communists looked EGG-ZACTLY like Llewyn Davis.  I believe it was this guyOscar Isaac's moved on to extremely high-profile projects now.  I mean, he's Apocalypse, for Stan Lee's sake!
I believe it was the Onion reviewer that compared Hail, Caesar! to Steven Spielberg's 1941.  Except that (spoiler alert) the first scene in 1941 is one of the last in Hail, Caesar!, and that 1941 is a little bit tone-deaf, and its characters are perhaps a bit too broad, but both films certainly look expensive and there's a lot in them to love.  Hail, Caesar! has a lot of explosions in it, too, but they're more internal than external.  Oh!  And here's the biggest difference of them all: 1941 is in my DVD collection, but Hail, Caesar! isn't!  I can't wait three months!!!  A toast to those crazy Sun worshippers Joel and Ethan Coen!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Short Reviews - February 2016

The Boss - I am now officially sick of that computer-assisted special effect where someone gets violently thrown either against a wall or some other short distance.  We get it!  We've seen the Messin' with Sasquatch commercials!

Brain on Fire - Unofficial sequel to Man on Fire

Crossroads - They never show this on cable!  How bad can it be? 

Eddie the Eagle - Marv produces a PG-13 pic?  Never thought I'd see the day!

The Eiger Sanction - Clint Eastwood thought he was making The Day of the Jackal, but it's more like A View to a Kill.

Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi - During his police interrogation, former pastor Ted Haggard gave a short sermon and ended it with "Can I get a gay men?"

Hail, Caesar! - See?  Now this is how you cross-promote!  Did you see the ads for Channing Tatum on an all-new episode of something called "Idiotsitter"?  Genius.

Hannibal - ...that's it!  That's why Ben Carson acts so weird!  He must've had the top of his head taken off like Ray Liotta!

Identity Thief - Man, what it must take to piss off a screenwriter... hmm!  The Ted Cruz story.  Might be a good project, Craig!

Independence Day: Resurgence - Wait a minute... Whitmore's still president?  I guess the 22nd Amendment might seem a little frivolous after such ... hoh boy... after an alien attack of global proportions, noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style.  Hah!  I did it!  I described something without using the word 'epic.'  DAMN IT.......

Inside Llewyn Davis - I just noticed that this was nominated for a Saturn Award... by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.  Um... should I tell them?

IP Man 3 - Does Tyson even remember doing this?

The Jerk Theory - A kid decides he's going to get the girl by acting like a jerk.  Nice theory and all, but this is a movie we're talking about.  Movies that are jerks just get shunned.  Take the Transformers movies, for example.  Or how about the Atlas Shrugged saga?  Now see, if I was really good, I'd post the question to my reader, Newsweek style: if movies were like people, which movies are jerks?

"Jiggery Pokery"  - ...oh!  That's where Scalia got that from!

The Jungle Book - ...I THOUGHT that was Bill Murray!!

The King of Comedy - You know... everyone talks these days about the various "hacks" that people should know.  What about Shelley?

LBJ - I always thought this would be a great Oliver Stone pic with Steven Seagal in the lead... oh well.

Now You See Me 2 - With an older, wiser Harold Potter... now that's casting magic!

Jiminy Glick in La La Wood - According to my ultra-reliable inside-the-beltway source, David Lynch was so moved by Martin Short's portrayal of him that Lynch is going to shoot some extra scenes for the Blu-Ray release of The Elephant Man in which Dr. Treves is riding in a horse-drawn carriage at night, just going along that one-lane dirt road with naught but the finest state of the art lantern of the time illuminating the path, so it seems as though the road is stabbing the night like some kind of sinister scalpel... you get the idea

Money Monster - Yeah, I used to love Sesame Street

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - Well, the trailer certainly had something.  You think it's going to be a movie about ChloĆ« Grace Moritz's character, and then the cast of Neighbors 1 shows up.  Will it hold up?  Will Moritz lose half her audience with the live-action The Little Mermaid?

The Nice Guys - Well, Russell Crowe's not going to be happy about finishing last; that much I know.

Old Fink - ...sorry, I just wanted to keep this link.  Somehow I get the feeling that that's not going to be the title, but what do I know?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Why, Jane Austen must be spinning in her grave.  Too bad her corpse can't rise from the dead and eat some Hollywood brains

Search and Destroy - Dayamn, but this David Salle pissed off the wrong people...

Sing Street - Ah, the triumph of getting the girl.  I know I'm just a jaded sophisticate, but isn't this just The Commitments but with an '80s soundtrack and without the better storyline?

Tanya's Island - Oh, this is going to simply be impossible to find now...

Triple 9 - Not an Oren Moverman pic

"Vinyl" (pilot) - Now, I hate Andrew "Dice" Clay as much as the next guy... just kidding, Silverstein.  Seriously though, man, but was that scene violent.

When the Game Stands Tall - I was originally going to devote this space to lament the observation that we seem to be running out of movie titles.  But on a more upbeat note, surely someone has compiled a list of movie titles with five words?

Where the Day Takes You - ...yeah!  Like that! ...EGAD!  A treasure trove!