Monday, April 25, 2016

...that's not Nixon!

Now it's time for that pre-cursor to the first Duck Dodgers, and it's with Bugs.  It's called Haredevil Hare, and for those of you who are my age, you just might recall a little something on cable when TNT was a new network that didn't have a big-time sports contract.  It's the opening clip for this thing, for one.


Well, just as Dick Cheney is not actually in Die Hard: With a Vengeance, (frankly, the person that the director thought was Cheney looks more like John Hughes or Edward Herrmann, what with the cute nose and all...) the person purported to be Nixon in the photo in this newspaper looks like Nixon if you make it really small.  But if you blow up the pic, it looks more like a normal human being than like Nixon.  As we all know, Nixon's face looks exactly like a foot... and there's no way to un-forget that.  It's unforgettable, if you like!  No way to un-remember, if you like.
Welp, as much as we hate to admit it, even Looney Tunes cannot exist in a vacuum.  Even such celluloid Rorschach tests as these are prone to the times they were created in, and in post-WWII America, while most thoughts turned to peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, others were dreaming up new ways to blow up the Earth.  Take the huge bombs used on the J... I mean, on Japan, for one.  Then there was the creation of the jet plane.  Surely, sending someone into outer space couldn't be far behind?  If Jules Verne was able to imagine it, surely human beings in the modern era could actually make it happen?
And so, we get to Bugs, because humans value human life too much to risk sending one of their fellow men into space without knowing all the risks, or for that manner, any of them.  And so a second time, in spite of the positive headline, Bugs is dragged kicking and screaming to the giant rocket built specifically for this first Kamikaze mission.  No, really.  Bugs is putting up about as big of a fight as I've ever seen.  After all, this is no mere Elmer Fudd armed only with a shotgun.  This is the federal government, armed with a mandate from the American people... more or less.  Well, space travel was the hot fad back then.  Plus, Russia was apparently also really into it, so we had to keep up, right?
Bugs keeps kicking and screaming until... yup, you guessed it!  The Hedonic model!  I'm telling you!  Maybe change the name of it to something that skews a little less devilish.  Hedonic, Gates of Hades... nah, it's just too good.  They're pouring carrots into the top of this giant rocket... I hesitate to call it a spaceship, but they do have some tiny windows on it.  Not quite the sort of detail that gets you questioned by the FBI, but pretty close!  And so, Bugs decides that space won't be so bad, as long as he's got that big pile of carrots with him.  Ever the jokester, Bugs tries to wriggle into the inside of the spaceship, making a fashion comparison in the process.
Now, here's something I didn't consider, mostly because I'm kinda slow.  But I have been thinking a lot about the Laws of Cartoon Physics lately, for some reason.  They mostly focus on the exploits of the Road Runner and that darned old Coyote, except for the thing about "feline matter."  Maybe there's kind of a quiet ban on Cartoon Explosives, and probably for good reason, so I'll tread lightly and offer the following Law of Cartoon Physics for Cartoon Explosives: the smaller the device, the larger the explosion it will produce.  There's a Tom and Jerry cartoon that comes to mind... The Yankee Doodle Mouse!  That's it!  There was also that Western with Porky and Daffy called Drip-Along Daffy which involved this law at the end with the arch bad guy.  The stick of dynamite in The Wacky Wabbit, of course, defies all laws, Cartoon or otherwise.
Anyway, so we can lump all these examples into subgroup a) as it involves a cartoon character getting blowed up real good.  Subgroup b) will be reserved for rocket launches, such as this instant case right here.  You gotta hand it to these Cartoon Rocket Scientists; they're pretty clever!  They learned that a tiny dynamite stick makes a big explosion, so that's what they use to send Bugs into outer space, and well on his way to the moon.
...this is probably where Act Two should break, but Haredevil Hare departs from the normal Act structure.  Needles to say, Bugs is less than prepared for space travel, and he tries to leave the ship.  He opens the Escape Hatch, only to see Earth disappear beneath his feet, making a slide whistle sound, of course.  I know, I know... but there's another Law of Cartoon Physics in the offing: cartoon characters are not affected by gravity in space, unless a) it's funny, or b) it interrupts the screenplay's narrative.  Sure, Bugs would probably get sucked out into space under normal circumstances, like the mother Alien in Aliens, but this isn't that cartoon.  Bugs instead closes the escape hatch back up, and clings to the uppermost part of the rocket.  Man, but that's a hollow rocket!  Okay, so they couldn't get every detail right.  Jones and company didn't know that the part of the spaceship where the pilots sit is actually quite small.


Next scene, more or less: the Moon proper.  We see a "shot" of the moon, and the artists decided to stick with the more well-known of the Moon's craters: Tycho, Copernicus, what have you.  This was before the Russkies named all the craters on the dark side for themselves, greedy bastardniks.  As Bugs heads rather quickly for the Moon, he experiences much the same emotions as he did during his plummet to Earth in Falling Hare: nausea, screaming, what have you.  A sign lights up that says "Fasten Safety Belts," a detail which might pass you by unnoticed.  That's the problem with these cartoons for the tiddlywinks: they move so fast, and there's no time to savour all the irony.  And then... the spaceship finally makes it to the surface, using a crater like a skateboarder might use the inside of an empty swimming pool.  I think Indiana Jones had a similar landing in that lead-lined refrigerator, if memory serves!
Next scene: the ship is a slightly broken, semi-smouldering mess there on the surface of the moon, but the door's still functional enough to open.  The door opens to reveal Bugs' dazed, blue eyes... really?  They're blue?  Usually he has black pupils, if my long-term memory serves.  Black pupil, blue iris, I guess.  Well, in an unusual situation such as this, you'd expect an iris or two to make an emergence.  Bugs experiences a little post-moon landing Stress Disorder (PMLSD), or a lot of it, depending on your level of patience.  It persists even after communicating back to Earth.  Again, this was one of those clips that TNT used to advertise their various Looney Tunes shows 25 odd years ago or so... man, I'm old.
Now, screenwriters should take note here, when it comes to details to be dwelled upon.  Bugs declares "I'm alone on the moon!", first out of anguish, then with a flair of romance to it.  Much like the cat from The Cat Who Hated People experienced, if only for a second or two before all Hell broke loose for him.  "Kilroy was Here." it.  Guess they didn't want to draw the semi-lewd figure that usually goes with it.
I guess what the screenwriters, past, present, and future should take note of, is that it's time to move the plot along already.  Just like Wallace and Gromit alone on the moon wasn't enough, Bugs alone on the moon can't exist in a vacuum.  Enter the pre-named Marvin the Martian and his advanced spaceship.  The whole solar system's trying to compete with us!  The titular Martian emerges, then starts walking Stage Right.  PhD scholars in music are still trying to study the sheet music for this part where the Martian starts walking.  Carl Stalling is a genius.  Is, was, and will be as long as Earth can sustain celluloid and its digital counterparts.
The Martian aims his expensive-ass Questar telescope at the Earth.  Why is that, anyway?  Why am I going to pay $7,000 for a tiny telescope, when I can get a used C-14 for that much?  The star map on the base?  Is it really that complete?  As with most Robert Clampett cartoons, the Martian rolls past the Earth a little bit, then doubles back.  Clampett would've made it messier, of course.
Bugs takes an interest in what the Martian is up to.  Bugs chews away on a carrot... or does he?  I've heard that Blanc himself was actually allergic to carrots, but ever the pro that he was, he would chew what he had to to get the audio, then spit it out into a bucket.  Here, he sounds like an old man adjusting his new dentures or something.  There's also a nice "shot" of M13.  Well, there's a lot less man-made light on the moon, as of this writing, so the stars are ever the glittier... glitter-ier... brighter.  "What's up, Doc?" asks Bugs, as he has of so many over the decades now.
"Oh, I'm going to blow up the Earth," says the Martian... oh, but this just isn't right.  It's supposed to be Freberg, damn it.  And now, here, in the first ever appearance of Marvin, it's just a nasally Blanc instead!  I can't take it!  I can't!  Anyway, for all you hipster psychologists out there like me, here's a nice post-modern touch for you: Bugs says to the little guy, "Hey, nice looking wee-pon you got there!", then Bugs nods his head... ironically?  I think so!  Yes, the scourge of busy nerds existed even 70 years ago, go figure.  Bugs did what he could, but there's just no stopping them.
And so, Bugs walks away, mulling over what just transpired.  Bugs says to himself, "After all, it's his business if he wants to blow up the Earth."  In a different Looney Tunes, at least the Marvin in that one had a good reason: Earth was obstructing his view of Venus, so natch!  Get rid of the Earth!  No such reason is offered this time.  Probably unspoken jealousy, of course.  Bugs rushes over and puts out the fuse on the tiny firecracker powering the Martian's V-16 rocket.  One of the rare times a cartoon character has actually put out the fuse of a firecracker.  "All the people I know are on the Earth!" says Bugs.  Needles to say, this is probably the most genteel act of interplanetary war we'll ever see.


The Martian whips out a trumpet, and calls out the reserves to get back the Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator (taken from the closed captioning) thereby informing the thinking of "Weird Al" Yankovic's hit, "I Love Rocky Road."  Flatu-tastic!
Bugs happens to be walking by as the Space Dog that the pre-Marvin Martian has summoned rises from the bowels of the ship.  "YIPE!" screams Bugs, and he zips away.  The dog ambles over to the Martian and gives a salute with its legs; the orchestral accompaniment to this seems to be the Wood Block.  The Martian issues its commands to the dog, and the dog... not in any big rush, mind you... goes after Bugs AKA "the Earth creature."  I'm not even going to dignify how the dog turns around with comment.
Next scene: Bugs tries to put his radio to good use, but to no avail.  Fortunately, it's not a real transmission, so there's no satellite delay... you know, because of the quarter million mile distance and all.  And that's another thing!  Just how tall is that radio tower, incidentally?  Tall enough to communicate all the way to the moon?  I scoff!  I scoff again!  (cough)  I'm choking on my disbelief now.  But there's one thing Jones and company got right: the scourge of advertising continues its slow march unabated.  Bugs is only trying to transmit the most important threat that's menaced this side of the galaxy in many a moon, and all Bugs can hear is a snappy radio jingle?  We're so screwed.  Fans of audio like myself will no doubt have to listen to this a couple times.  There seems to be a couple guys whistling, mimicing the sound of the turning of a radio dial, and Mel Blanc seems to start the broadcast with a long, mangled "RAYYYYY...."  Bugs listens to the jingle confused, then angry, then confused again.  When it's over, then we get the actual sound of a radio being tuned.  The orchestral accompaniment to sum all this up?  Bassoon, of course.
Next scene: the dog is by Bugs' side, but not as a loyal companion.  "Heh!  Catch the fugitive from the Dog Star," quips Bugs.  Bugs then sees that the dog has the firecracker in its mouth.  "Hey!" says Bugs.  "What's the big idea?  GIMME THAT!!"  Love that part.  Buck Rogers he ain't.  What follows after this is, well... it's the same old thing at this point.  It happened all through Rabbit Fire and... okay, it's the only example that comes to mind, culminating in the part in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when Eddie Valiant gets Roger to drink one last drink... Ooh!  Baseball Bugs too!  Daffy tried it once in Mexican Joyride; go figure.  There's at least one cartoon that even Arthur Davis couldn't screw up.
Next scene: the dog eventually realizes that he's been hoodwinked, and instantly goes after Bugs.  And just as instantly, Bugs and the dog end up in a semi-embrace.  We can see the Earth off in the distance.  Does this diminish that home movie footage of the earth taken from the moon in the late '60s?  A little... okay, that's going too far.  Now, screenwriters take note, for this all may seem superfluous, but it's all for the punchline.  The stuff that Latter Day Hipsters live for.  Bugs says "No, don't go yet!  There's a beautiful Earth out tonight."  What's not to love?  The dog laughs sheepishly, as so many of Bugs' foils before and or after him.  Great idea for a YouTube video if Warner Bros. doesn't put the kibosh on it.  Bugs stiffens, then exits Stage Left, but the dog is still lost in a fog of... whatever.  Self-absorption?  The Martian comes over and kicks the dog right in the middle of his daily duties.  The dog turns around to face his master and the wrath therein; his legs do not return to their original size!  Boy, but Jones liked to make life rough for his animators.


You know, I'm reminded of the guy who drives up on a motorbike in The Wabbit Who Came to Supper and says, in that Mel Blanc dumb guy way of his, "Telegram for Elmer Fudd."  There's also a motorbike delivery in ... gotta look it up... Rabbit Transit.  Bugs delivers a package to the vacationing turtle... the very idea.  Here, Bugs flies in on some kind of space motorcycle, later featured in the Michael Bay non-Transformers-based sci-fi film The Island.  They stutter when they fly, just like some things in one of the second trilogy of Star Wars films directed by Lucas proper.  Bugs delivers a new firecracker to the now elated Martian.  The Martian and the dog jump up and down in celebration.  He gives the full name of the device, as any nerd would, and runs off to screw it in to the V-16 rocket.
Next scene: Bugs looks on as he stands next to one of those dynamite detonators that you push down on.  The V-16 is now in the same scene with Bugs!  But what is Bugs looking at?  Continuity, people.  Continuity.  This was another one of the clips used on the TNT channel ... alas, an historical tibdit not yet worthy of Haredevil Hare's IMDb Trivia page.  Definitely for the best.  Anyway, Bugs underestimated the damage that this would cause, and he blows up the moon so bad, it's now a permanent crescent shape.
Zoom down to Earth.  The scientists are trying to get a hold of Bugs now.  Where were they when he needed them?  "Have you prepared a statement for the press?" asks the chief scientist.  Must be the first thing they teach you in astronaut school.  Always be ready for the press... you know, it's the damnedest thing.  I just saw an old interview with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd when they were pushing the last movie they ended up doing together, a big little stinker called Neighbors.  Belushi was talking about fame, and that he didn't care for it.  I believe he said something like "You feel like a freak!"  Aykroyd had a very, very different take on it, comparing being famous to running for Congress.  Only the good die young, indeed.  Anyway, Bugs is a little bit like Dan Aykroyd, typically not at a loss for words.  You can probably guess his statement to the press, as we see him there, hanging on to a corner of the moon, with the Martian and the dog hanging on to him.  Bugs says into his transmitter "GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Good double bill with: ...what else?  Duck Dodgers in the 24.5 Century

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

aUTEUR ... Auteur Watch - Bill Duke

...wait a sec!  I've actually heard of this guy, if he's the guy I'm thinking of!  Having made friends with Ahnold Schwarzenegger on such films as Commando and Predator... actually, I think those are the only two, and Ahnold might not remember the guy...
So the go-go 80s were probably fun for Bill Duke.  I hope so.  '70s fashion merging with business suits to make... whatever.  Some seriously unholy hybrids.  Purple business suits.  Vests everywhere.  And the cocaine, of course.  But that's what the movie Blow is all about.  Or maybe Mr. Duke prefers the 1990s, when he became a right proper film director.  Such hits as... The Cemetery Club and Hoodlum... those are the only two I remember.  Dayamn, but that guy's done a lot of TVA Rage in Harlem is one of the all-time classic titles... and yet, when's the last time it's been within a mile of the new HD cable?  Where's the justice in that? 
There's a reason that Payback is in his top 4, but personally I prefer his part in The Limey.  Similar character, but not corrupt.  Been a long time since I saw that, too!  But that's the way it was, you know.  You could watch a scene about four or five times on your VHS and remember it forever.  Nowadays we're awash in cute cat videos and what not.
But the guy's nothing if not keeping busy.  American Satan sounds kind of fun.  Ash Avildsen, hmmm... the IMDb's not telling, but lemme guess.  Son of Rocky and Karate Kid director John Avildsen?  Oh, I think so.

Making Flippy Floppy

I'm not usually surprised when Yahoo! News does Variety's work for it and calls a certain movie a flop.  It's an economic model most of us can't understand.  If I, for example, made 20 million dollars, well... I'd call that a rousing success, dontcha think?  And yet, the latest sequel to... whatever... makes only 20 million, and everyone jumps on the bandwagon to call it a flop.  It's called The Huntsman: Winter's War... my God!  There really is a war on Christmas!  And boy, these hyperlinks to these movies are getting unnecessarily long these days.  Well, first of all, it's a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, so perhaps part of the disappointing performance at the box office is due to the rather noticable lack of Kristen Stewart in the sequel.  You know... Bella Swan?  Hel-LOOOOO???!!!  I like her.  She's the new Mary Stuart Masterson.  Frankly, she doesn't understand all the hoopla either, even though she's way way more than knee-deep in it.  But maybe her thinking was informed much like Jennifer Jason Leigh's was in her ill-spent youth: I'm in L.A., I have offbeat good looks, so yeah, of course I'm going to be an international sensation when I grow up.  Derr!!
So there's that to consider.  And incidentally, how did Craig Mazin get involved with this? ...oh, wait, that's Nick Frost.  Love that guy.  The new Hagrid, should they ever reboot Harry Potter.  I guess the producers figured they needed to make the sequel a little darker... and throw in some fart/vomit jokes for the tiddlywinkies?  Surely Mazin's former roommate and most irritating presidential candidate ever Theodore Cruz put the proverbial kibosh on the weekend performance of this film?  Surely, there's bad cellphone phootage... footage of him somewhere, telling an Evangelical crowd about the sins of Hollywood, citing Winter's War as the latest and greatest example of how the people living on the coasts are out of touch with the good, wholesome people who don't even know that oceans exist?
Well, the thing to remember, ultimately, is that all these films are merely long-term investments.  I mean, Queen of the Damned flopped big and hard at the time of its initial release, but it's still worth it, because it's playing forever and ever amen on Black Starz! on every Halloween, right?  I mean, it's Aaliyah, for God's sake!  Aaliyah.  We'll never forget you, grrl.  Lousy airplane crashes.  The powers that be must've confused that plane with the plane of a Democratic lawmaker or something.
Meanwhile, at the bottom end of the Top 10, Compadres debuts at #9.  It's an action comedy about a former cop teaming up with a computer hacker.  Just in time for the premiere of Season 3 of "Silicon Valley"!  Must be one of those hundreds of movies that Eric Roberts is now making.  He's finally embraced his character actor self, like Dustin Hoffman tries to do from time to time.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Art of Self-Promotion

First of all, we obviously need to start by trashing anew the layout of Volume One of this here Golden Collection of Tunes that are Looney.  The menu says "The Awful Orphan," but the IMDb slightly disagrees.  More importantly, the cartoon itself disagrees!!!!!!!!!!  Let's just hope the proverbial Powers that Be get the Blu-Ray right.  And let's further hope that they just either (a) leave the vertical black bars intact, as opposed to lopping off the top and bottom of the picture in the service of HD, or (b) actually doing a new 1080p transfer of the originals... or whatever it's called... I guess it would take too long to explain to the layperson that your new HD television sort of turned its back on some fifty-odd years of television and ninety-odd years of cinematic treasures, not taking their aspect ratios into account.  So, to that end, we provide some measure of accommodation... yeah, too complicated.


Chuck Jones is the unrecognized, undisputed Master of Psychological Horror.  Narrow it to Cartoon Psychological Horror if you must, but take the antagonized human protagonist of One Froggy Evening, called the Citizen Kane of cartoons by those who know.  And that's just a one-off!... was a One-Off.  But Jones' satirical ambitions are dampened here with Awful Orphan as opposed to, say, the canine antics of Fresh Airedale... apparently not on the five DVD volumes.  Oh well.  I still have my memories for now!
But the Porky and Charlie Dog series was apparently not meant to be long-lived... some stories spawn more variations than others.  Incidentally, I don't know how to do all that fun "Word Cloud" stuff, but yes, apparently the word "apparently" would be one of the big ones.  Sorry bout that.  And so, (The) Awful Orphan is the middle child of this timeless series, trying to live up to the better plot structure of Little Orphan Airedale, while laying the groundwork for future installments.
And so we begin with the chaos on the busy streets of New York City, occasionally stopped by the occasional flash of brilliance.  A dog with a pointer?  Maybe this will be worth a minute of my time!  The dog runs through his pre-PowerPoint presentation, a master of the dramatic pause.  Carl Stalling's music finds the right tone of bombastic salesmanship.  Spoiler alert: like Ted Cruz after him, the dog is only trying to sell himself to the assembled crowd of now angry New Yorkers, unimpressed by a cartoon dog, a dog with a pretty strong flirtation with the English language.  Surely someone in that crowd would be impressed?  A linguistics professor?  An animal trainer?  Lousy bean pushers.  Fortunately for the dog, a Plan B is close at hand: the back of a Pet Shop van is open, and the dog sneaks inside it.  God bless New York City, whose citizens are as tough and sneaky as the city itself.
Next scene: the receiving end of the dog's pet shop van beginning is at hand, and it's long-suffering semi-suburban Porky, just trying to struggle with his rent controlled place.  His canary has arrived... or so he thinks.  I'm sort of reminded of that one Pete Hothead cartoon... I believe it was called Pete Hothead.  Of course, the satirical ambitions of that one are about as successful as, say, The Bear That Wasn't.  Porky heads for the phone, saying "I wanted a canary, not a monster!"  Lol.  The dog had stuffed himself rather fully into the canary cage, you see.  Lord only knows what happened to the canary, but this ain't The Bird Came C.O.D.
And so, Porky gets on the phone, and spoiler alert... I know, years too late for that... we get an homage to the telephone conversation in the appropriately titled Block-Heads... not worthy enough to be included in the (Memorable) Quotes section, of course.  I don't think Stan intentionally cut the phone wire in that one, but Ollie ends up thinking he's talking to someone in the lobby of his building and... ah, skip it.  Similar situation here, anywho.  The rather athletic post-WWII Porky thinks he's talking to someone at the pet shot, when in fact it's Charlie Dog, who did deliberately sever Porky's phone line, and is now attempting to use it as a phone receiver.  Lol.  Oh, but while Porky was born at night, it wasn't last night, and he does eventually figure out that the rather persuasive figure on the phone is actually the dog in the very same room as him.


Probably a tad late for the Act Break, but we'll leave aside the legal ramifications of the fact that Porky reasonably ejects the intruder from his household, only to have said intruder come right back in through Porky's front door.  Well, he's still nicer than, say, that one Evil Realtor from the movie Unbreakable... I think Bruce Willis had the big fight with him towards the end, right?  Or as John Kasich would say, the "middle" of the picture.
Now, I can't vouch for what they teach in salesman school, but I imagine the more advanced classes teach you how to think on your feet, and how to use the words of the sucker that... I mean, the person you're trying to sell the product or service to... not necessarily against them, but rather with and for them.  See, that's why I no longer believe in the complement that someone's a "good listener."  You know who else is a good listener?  The NRA... I mean, the NSA.  Always get those two mixed up.  Also, I had a roommate who once told me that I'm a good listener, but they ended up getting drunk on my holidays away from work, so I'm a little suspicious of that so-called complement.  No, the happy medium is the husband who watches football all the time, but never forgets the various anniversaries and what not.
As usual, I'm taking the long way to get to the point.  The dog heard Porky's plaintiff wails about wanting a canary, and uses that in his sales pitch.  "Didja ever see a bird retrieve a dog?  Of course not!" says the dog.  Of course, if the dog had a special harness, or a very thick collar, one of the larger members of the Accipitridae, given enough training, could grip a dog by the husk and... dayamn!  What, do they have the whole movie on this damn page?  Speaking of persuasive counter-arguments, I'm further reminded of the line "They're VERY GOOD scissors!"  ...nope, don't have that on there either.
Now, I'm a jaded, tired old man, but I can't help but get a chuckle out of the dog's next amazing feat of self-promotion.  The dog tries to sell himself as a good pointer.  I believe the dog says "Now watch this... There it is!  There it is!  There it is!"  I guess what I'm trying to say is... you gotta getcha self a chandelier!  My man Porky has slightly less tolerance for the dog's brilliance, however, probably because he's the direct recipient of it, and he performs a little mind-jitsu on the dog.  "There it is!" says Porky, pointing out into the hall by the front door.  "Where?" asks the dog, looking into the hall.  Well, the logic's just that effective, no question about it.  Porky kicks the dog in the ass, and hard, and slams the front door on him a second time.
But as Jesus once said, "When I close a door, I open a window... probably the one above the door.  Why do all the big cities seem to have those?"  And so, as Daffy once said to Elmer, trying desperately to get him to shoot Bugs in the face... just one time, is that asking so much?  Even with a water gun.  Nope!  Never happened... the dog comes in through the... you know, one of those windows over the door, and says to Porky "Okay, let's try this from a different angle.  Dogs are a comfort to have around."  Of course, the dog has to put Porky through a little anguish to get there, but Porky ends up sitting in his chair, pipe in mouth, book in his very hand-like hooves... guess we'll just skip over that.  As always with these films over 60 years old, we need the services of an expert to tell us that this was the look of comfort for... someone.  Masons?  Kiwanis?  The height of domestic sophistication to have a red fez, glasses and a smouldering pipe.  And there's the dog, sitting at Porky's hind feet, with those big sad eyes.
But is Porky at all grateful for this desperate dog's efforts?  No, of course not!  And about 20 seconds after the dog's second breach of Porky's perimeter, he's getting thrown out again.  Same thing happened in... probably Little Orphan Airedale where the dog demonstrated rigor mortis to the point of Porky being able to pick up the dog by its tail, and throw it out by it.  Real dogs are probably as sensitive about their tails as real cats, but cartoon dogs' tails can't be stretched out as far as cartoon cats.
Next attempt: the dog gets all costumed up as an abandoned baby, left on Porky's doorstep.  As it would seem, Porky doesn't buy this ruse for a New York second.  Boy, what a sarcastic pig.  Porky acts like he's falling for it, though.  That's unusual for Porky, isn't it?  But given what he's been through, and this is his home, after all... it's understandable.  He had to show more grace on that awful game show he was on, precisely because it wasn't home.
Next scene: the stroke of genius.  I don't know if this was the dog's plan all along, but the dog seizes the opportunity to reprimand Porky for his behaviour... and frankly, it flashed through the back of my mind as well.  Okay, it's not The Omen, but even in that movie there's a hesitation.  After all, a baby that will grow up to become the Devil is still a baby, right?  The dog's next costume is that of an outraged woman/housewife, who says "I saw what you did!  You BRUTE!"  That's in reference to Porky kicking the basket with the dog as a fake baby in it.  The dog begins to beat Porky about the face, neck and chest with an umbrella.  Next scene: Porky standing on his proverbial indoor front porch, with that "WTF" expression on his face.  Porky starts banging on his front door.  Another point in the dog's favor: he's not the roommate from hell in Pacific Heights who changes the lock as soon as he gets in.  The dog opens the door and says "Mmmmmmmmmmmmyesssssss?" in that Mel Blanc way of his.
Which leads us to: the dog's next trick up his lack-of-sleeve.  Porky continues pushing his aggressive mantra of "Out! Out!! OUT!!!!!"  Frankly, he's starting to sound like a bacon record.  The dog finally decides that he's going to commit suicide.  I tell you, these things just aren't for kids.  But you can't argue with results, for Porky quickly changes his tune, and tries to get the dog to stop, but it's too late.  And... dayamn!  That dog jumped pretty far!  Porky goes to the window to see what happened... of course, he's pretty high up off the ground, so what would he expect to see?  I dare not spoil the surprise.  Fade to black.


The perfect place for an Act break.  Still itching for a fight, Porky tells the next knocker at his door "OUT, OUT, OUT!!!!"  It's not the dog this time... at least, not the one knocking on the door.  Sorry, SPOILER ALERT.  Well, hey, stop reading and go hunt down the film if you feel that way about it!  Anyway, yes, it's time once again for another Trojan horse, so to speak.  Just as with the covered canary cage, the dog gets himself smuggled into Porky's place.  Damn, but he's done his research and what not.  Porky's preparing to sit himself down and have something to eat... probably don't want to actually see that.  The filmmakers knew this intuitively as well, so they find dramatic potential in another diversion.  Porky's holding a knife for cutting up the meal he was anticipating, and Porky continues to clutch said knife, even though the meal turned out to be the dog.  (from earlier)  "Oh no... you wouldn't!  That KNIFE!" says the dog, exasperatedly.  Incidentally, for all you potential hucksters out there: there's a good tip in there someplace.  You've taken all those college-level acting courses.  Why not put them to good use in the salesman racket?
The dog starts to fake cry.  Okay, maybe it's real.  Always love it when Blanc does that.  The dog ingratiates itself upon Porky's tender mercies anew, and Porky seems to capitulate... or does he?  I can tell from his tone of voice that he's planning something.  Porky tells the annoying-ass dog that he's going to make it a "dog coat."  The dog starts to sing.  Again, I prefer the song from Little Orphan Airedale where the dog starts singing, "I GIT TO LIVE IN A DOG HOUSE!  I GIT TO LIVE IN A DOG HOUSE!!!"  Similar situation, similar outcome.  Well, when you come up with a series like this, you don't want to reinvent the wheel every time, you know.
To cut to the chase... I know, I know; far far too late for that... Porky gets a rare burst of that ol' cartoon speed that characters occasionally get.  Don't want it to happen all the time, now!  Porky quickly wraps the dog up and ships it off to Siberia.  Porky takes the elevator downstairs to the nearest postal box and dumps the package inside.  Boy, but those were the days.  I know all too well that that wouldn't fly these days.  13 ounces or less now!  That's the rule.  A fatty dog like that, there ain't no way it's getting past customs, for starters.
And so, the countdown begins, starting from the instant the package gets into the external box.  FIVE SECONDS LATER... a knock at the door!  Porky looks up in shock.  And... yup, it's the dog, back from Siberia.  If it had such a good time in Siberia, why go to all the trouble coming back just to harass Porky?  I guess it's like the Biden rule: it's about a principle, not a person... or a pig.  See?  Bipartisanship can happen, even under the most extreme circumstances!  The dog begins to tell his worldly tale to Porky.  "Oh, the places I've been and the things I've seen.  Such singings!  Such dancings!"  He then sounds a bit like Pepe Le Pew with the kissing noise.  Oh well.  That's coming up soon enough, as soon as I can get to it.
I guess the dog's a bit resentful of Porky, for even though he begins his joyous dancing(s)... you know, that same Russian dance they always do.  I believe it was also at the end of Hare Tonic, if memory serves!  Bugs and Elmer did it.  The dog keeps kicking Porky in the ass on the "Hey!" part.  The dog kicks Porky clean out of the apartment, thereby setting up the next big scene.
Next Big Scene: Boy, but that dog plays a mean game of arbitrage.  The phone rings, and the dog answers it.  It's a call from the upstairs neighbor (...also voiced by Mel Blanc?  How did he keep all these voices so bi- and tripartite in his head?)  The upstairs neighbour is angry about all the noise downstairs.  The dog offers to go upstairs and kick the guy's ass, and the dog hangs up the phone.  Meanwhile, Porky's banging away on the front door.  The dog answers the door and says "The man upstairs wants to see you.  He has something for you!"  So far, Porky hasn't fallen for any of the dog's tricks.  Boy, is he in for a treat!
Next scene: we can hear Porky and the neighbor, lol.  Meanwhile, the dog is lounging on the chair, looking at slides with a 3D viewer, LOL.  ROFLMAO.  Must've been the hot trend of the day back then.  And so, unlike the big scene where George "Babyface" Nelson fires his machine gun in the old timey bank in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a big hail of ceiling plaster falls from its place as Porky gets himself an old-fashioned neighbourly ass-whoopin'.  Oh, the next tenants' meeting will indeed be an awkward one.
"Does this belong to you?" the neighbor asks the dog when he returns a beaten Porky to his apartment.  Personally, I prefer the similar scene in... oh, never mind.  I gotta stop saying that.


It's close to the end of the film, so Porky finally gives in and really really agrees to let the dog stay.  Sure, he fake agreed plenty of times, but this time he really means it.  The dog's reaction to this news... may shock you.  "I dunno..." the dog begins.  What is this?  Life With Feathers?  The dog goes into his reasoning, and it's nothing short of genius.  Try and laugh to yourself when you find yourself in a similar situation with someone you love. 
The dog tries... I mean, starts to leave.  Porky's reaction to this might also be interesting to you, unless you hold an advanced degree in psychology, of course.  But apparently, it would seem that a transition from acceptance to ... totalitarianism?  Command and control?  Needles to say, Porky applies similar psychological pressure to the dog that the dog applied to Porky for most of the picture.  "You're gonna stay all right!  I'm beginning to like you!  BWA-HAHAHAHAHA!!!" says Porky, in that redundant, stuttering way of his.  Next scene: the role reversal is complete, with the dog in robes, smoking a pipe in the chair, Porky at his feet.  The dog tries to leave, but Porky growls, and the dog sits down.  But what if he has to... ah, skip it.  I guess I'm like the dog at the end of the cartoon, because I dunno... this cartoon's okay, but it's not one of the greats, I'm afraid.  Sure, it's been educational and all that, and there is the whole thing with the 3D slide viewer... but Chuck Jones did end up making a lot of cartoons, after all.  They can't all be gems, right?  Just like how Art Davis could never make a gem... oh, snap!  I gotta go.  So much TV to watch, so little time.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Richard Dubin

Strange!  Charles S. Dutton, a co-worker of Dubin's, so to speak, is just around the corner!  Welp, Richard Dubin's résumé is unlike one I've encountered before.  It covers exactly ten years, all TV... then NOTHING.  Welp, he tried going white with "The Famous Teddy Z," then rather instantly went back.  I guess the corollary to that old rule is, once you go white, there's no end in sight.  Well, Dubin proved that one wrong.  I'd try to do more research on why Dubin left the biz for good in '98, but I'm superstitious.  Some bad luck stories are so bad, they start to bring your own luck down if God forbid you ever hear them.

..."You sucked as Batman"

Really?  Seriously?  Bernie Sanders supporters, I'm disappointed in you.  I mean, here you are, you've got the Man of the Millennium, Geroge Clooney, the poster boy of GQ and Esquire for the rest of eternity, in your crosshairs, and you're going to hold Batman & Robin against him forever and ever, amen?  What next, you want to have the transcripts of the closed door meetings that got the film greenlit in the first place?  You want TimeWarner shareholder reports from Fiscal Year 1998 in the film's aftermath?  Frankly, I'm saddened, and disappointed.  Well, I saw part of that new HBO film about Clarence Thomas, so I'm feeling a little more judgmental than usual.  Boy, did he know how to ... use a thesaurus!  Disappointed, saddened, upset, envulgarated, what have you... it's just a high-tech lynching of uppity Hollywood liberals.  Nothing changes.  Personally, I'm disappointed at Clooney for telling the world that they're trying to take back the Congress from the Koch brothers.  Don't give away the whole game plan, man!  As for Bernie supporters, well... apparently, they have high standards for the Batman franchise as well, even if they have trouble articulating their feelings in the proper venues.  But this whole running-for-president thing is new for Bernie, and he's still trying to find the proper tone, but I get the feeling that he's probably, most likely, not going to be Hillary's Secretary of State when the dust finally settles.
As for the Top 10 at the box office this week, the dust has definitely settled on this one!  America picked the new The Jungle Book as their kids' best babysitter this weekend, and how!  I think this also means we're definitely going to see Chef 2 from douchebag-turned-big time Hollywood director Jon Favreau, and it ain't going to be a direct to Netflix type of deal, either.  Still, let us glory in the vindication of our old Kip, Rudyard Kipling, who once said, "There was a young lady from Exeter, and all the young men threw their..." ...damn.  They don't have it yet.
Meanwhile, debuting at #2, it's the latest Barbershop movie, and I gotta hand it to Spike Lee's cousin, Malcolm D. - he's got the populist touch!  When's the last time Spike was in the top 10?  Egg-zactly.  Even he doesn't remember when!  I'd go back and revisit some of the old Barbershop sequels, but you know... they aren't in HD.  What's the point?
Our last debut this week is the stuff of Yahoo! headlines, Kevin Costner's latest flop called Criminal.  It was trying to pass itself off as Transcendence or something.  Incidentally, what is Christopher Nolan up to these days?  What's his next project?... well, first, Hollywood engages in more navel gazing with Quay about those piano tuners of indie film earthquakes, the Quay brothers.  His next big project, however, has something to do with World War II.  It's called Dunkirk and so far it looks like he's only using some of his rolling stock company of his Batman trilogy!  I'd be nervous if I was them.  I hate to break it to Nolan, but first of all, World War II is Spielberg's turf, and two, I think it's been mined a little too much.  How many more extremely profitable stories of WWII are there left to tell?  I mean, Clooney's WW2 thing didn't do boffo B.O. if memory serves!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I'm Starting with the Monster in the Mirror

As you can see, I've fallen way behind in my Looney Tunes, so I'll just keep it short and sweet.  Later on, though, when I have enough time, I'll be kicking myself for sure.  But we now live in the age where we question the superfluous.  For example, the part in Hair-Raising Hare where Bugs dances like a ballerina with a lamp shade dress... even I'm thinking, do we really need that?  Or as a live-action example, the part in The Man With Two Brains where Steve Martin starts juggling.  Now, that was necessary, because he needed to remind his fans that he wasn't just a wild and crazy guy who can play the banjo.  Sure, it kind of brings the film to a halt, but so many things in that film do.
But back to Hair-Raising Hare.  Now I can't even remember if this was the first Bugs v. Orange Monster (non-Trump related) I ever saw and taped on video tape, when I first learned how to put one (working the VCR so that it would tape at certain times of the day) and one (schedule of cable channel, and when they used to show Looney Tunes) together.  But so far it's my favourite, aside from the one where Bugs goes after the monster with an electric razor.  I think that was a later one from the 60s or so.  But Hair-Raising Hare has plenty of tics to it that make it a cut above.
Of course, nowadays we have the "go back 10 seconds" button on the DVD player, and if you play a DVD on your computer, you can select anywhere on the timeline any time you want.  Note to self: find a way to record the various rewinds and fast-forwards you make... you know, for future generations to study.  But in the dark ages of the VCR, I would find myself fixating on the damnedest things (non-Cinemax).  For example, I had to re-watch the scene where Bugs gets out his two-sided "Yipe!" sign when he gets his second eye-ful of Peter Lorre's giant orange monster.  I also liked the part where Bugs runs afoul of the Raiders of the Lost Ark-type pit.  Rather than having Bugs fall into it, a tiny pebble acts as the proverbial stand-in for Bugs (...couldn't think of the fancy French word), falling to the opening tune of "Rhapsody in Blue," I dare say!  And, of course, Bugs tiptoeing back from the brink, saying a quiet "Amen!"... priceless.  As for those who still use MasterCard, well... Visa doesn't even have to advertise anymore.  They've won the war.
But I should be a little critical.  The scene where Bugs actually hits the monster with his jerry-rigged jousting suit... bad use of perspective for those two seconds of animation.  They took the cheap way out; if Frank Tashlin were doing it, he might have actually sprung for 3-D-ishness, as in Porky Pig's Feat.  And speaking of superfluous, I'll leave it for others to debate the necessity of the scene where Bugs plays nail salon with the monster.  I guess Blanc and company always liked to stretch themselves, take on the occasional taboo or two.  But the mouse traps on the monster's fingers?  I mean, I know he's the bad guy and all, but... even monsters have feelings too!  Sesame Street taught me that.
Ooh!  Another thing I forgot: the rather direct link to The Wabbit Who Came to Supper.  Both feature Bugs on a staircase... going downstairs in Supper, and upstairs in Hair-Raising... then going the other way along said staircase, and telling his pursuer, "Hey, don't go (down/up) there!  It's dark!!"  Great gag.  A pretty good feature for screenwriters to study.  You've got the veritable Kitchen Sink approach here in terms of the script: several false endings, breaking the Fourth Wall, and ruse after ruse after ruse, as Bugs always does.  I like this one, but it doesn't have as good of an ending as, say, Hare Tonic.  And I think the Stooges beat Bugs to the punch on the "person as lamp" gag... yup, Dutiful but Dumb was 1941, and H-RH was 1946.  I probably shouldn't be so picky, but again, I think it's the best Bugs v. Orange Monster case on the books.

-so sayeth The Movie... thing  Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Mickey Madoda Dube

What an awful hybrid that would be, if Mickey Mouse and Madonna had a baby.  I can't even imagine, but it could probably hit notes higher even than Mariah Carey.  But we're dealing with a mega-director here, actually, if I can get past my own cultural biases for only one second or two.  Can a brother get an actual review here?!!!!!  Apparently, only when he produces something.  Something called Man on Ground, which at first sounds like a sequel to Man on Fire... the Tony Scott 2004 Man on Fire, that is.  The Variety guy says it has fantastic visual flourishes, but the storytelling will keep it from catching on in foreign markets!  I want to experience that, anyway!  It's been a while since I've had some non-Superhero based visual flourishes.  Maybe it's on YouTube or something.  Ooh!  This one's pretty good.
So at least Mickey's hovering around the A or B list, even if he can't quite get there himself directorally.  The most interesting contrast in his directorial work has to be the difference between his 2011 work Sobukwe: A Great Soul, which is apparently about one person, to his 2014 documentary called One Humanity, about far more than just one person.  Dude, make up your mind!

Attack of the Full-Figured Gals

...which I understand the Academy is holding over for consideration... okay, I'll give the hyperlink to what that's from.  My God!  Has it been 30 years?  And yet, none of this stuff's been re-released on DVD.  Guess they're just waiting for Blu-Ray technology to get better.  Yes, surprise surprise, Melissa McCarthy's latest, The Boss, hits a home run at #1.  Not bad for an R-rated comedy!  Not bad at all.  The writers got the idea for the movie when they watched an old Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns is living with the Simpsons while he recuperates, usually over financial trouble.  It's of course all paving the way for the Ghostbusters reboot, something for semi-cinephiles to bicker about, of course.  Oh, the costumes aren't right!  The vehicle isn't right!
Meanwhile, while Eye in the Sky hovers at the bottom of the Top 10, the only other debut this week is the Russian import Hardcore Henry.  And just as The Onion pointed out, it's basically GoPro: The Motion Picture.  Also basically a video game, a POV action shooter like Duke Nukem... of course, my favourite was always Doom.  And to a lesser extent, "Blake Stone"... probably Episode 1.  I ended up getting too much ammo at one point and got bored with that one.  Sorry, something else I just can't seriously get into.  I guess it speaks more to the modern Russian character ultimately, what with their proliferation of dash cams and all.  As we'll find out on the director's cut, they had to trim several scenes where Hardcore Henry sits there and stares at Putin's picture on the wall... something like that.
 ...hey, check it out!  It's Naomi Watts in a facebook insurance ad!  You've come a long way since the nerdy best friend in Tank Girl, baby!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Low Sierra

Shows you what I know!  Some movie critic!  Apparently, this is the first Road Runner and Coyote cartoon.  The coyote's eyes were yet to be perfected, but otherwise it's a pretty consistent series.  Bad pun for a title, coyote keeps getting killed, humiliated, what have you... rightly so, of course.  No one's disputing that.  But every great series has to start somewhere, and the very first Road Runner is on Volume 1 of the Looney Tunes 4-disc Golden Collection, and it's called Fast and Furry-ous.


As with all of the Road Runner cartoons, this first one starts with the right plot formula, as handed down on high by D. W. Griffith, Lousy B. Mayer, and Cecil B. Demented.  You introduce the character(s), then put them through their paces.  Something game-changing, or whatever they'd say back in the '30s... party starting?  Earth-shattering?  Real George?  The Berries?
Now... I hate to be a buzzkill, but... either that, or I actually really enjoy being one, if only in the context of a blog... but for all my bird friends in the Masters program... actually, there were only one or two.  The rest of the bird people were kind of jerks.  Anyway, the genus of the Road Runner is actually Geococcyx, but they knew that... hmm!  Wonder if Charles M. Jones used the actual Latin name of the species in one.  Well, that's why I'm only a Movie Hooligan; a Movie Maven like Leonard Maltin or Jerrold Beck would know the answer right off the top, and I mean right off the top.  Wikipedia also says that there are two Road Runner species, G. velox and G. californianus... (stifling childish chuckle)  The Linnael name of the Coyote is (again, according to Wikipedia, which goes without saying, n'est ce pas?) something called Canis latrans lestes.  Can you believe that?  There's no link between road runners and coyotes on their official Wikipedia pages!  What, are they trying to be objective scientific documents or something?  You better believe the douches over at Conservapedia would have it!  ...someone else will have to look that up.  I'm actually not interested.
Mark Twain once said that a coyote will travel 15 miles for its breakfast, 30 for its lunch, and 60 for its dinner... something like that.  Sounds like a pretty good diet, actually!  Bet it keeps the weight off.  Of course, if I tried something like that, I'd have to nap constantly due to hunger-induced dizziness.  Gawd, I hate that, the fat, lazy American that I am.  Anyway, as what usually happens in all of these things, we get the quasi-scientific character introductions, and the coyote's usually checking out the road runner.  Then, the coyote tries to give chase to the road-runner, just by himself, with no extra devices or anything.  The road-runner gives its version of a scoff, sticking out its tongue, saying "Meep meep!," then taking off towards the horizon.  The coyote stops and stares.  He thinks he's moving but he goes nowhere, yeah I know everyone gets scared... sorry, I hear that way too much at the gym.  And so, having failed to catch the road runner without implements external (or internal, spoiler alert)'s time to stop and think.  Maybe there's another way to ... let me rephrase.  Surely, there's more than one way to skin this road runner?


We might as well call this Act Two, the part where the yet-to-be-named Wile E. Coyote decides to use brains instead of his brawn to try and catch them ol' Duke boys, git-git-git... I mean, the Road Runner.  First up: ... a pot lid?  Seriously?  He's really going to try this?  The coyote's really going to just stand there behind a rock, and when the Road Runner gets close enough, stick out a pot lid?  Well, spoiler alert, as it happens, funny story... not only is the Road Runner super-fast, but it can stop on a dime as well.  Wile E.'s reaction to finding this out is priceless, I just might have to resort to a second still-frame.
Now, according to the commentary by the way-too-excited Michael Barrier, (I mean, geez!  It's like listening to Quentin Tarantino on the crack or something...) one of the hard and fast rules of the Road Runner cartoons is that the Road Runner never does harm to the coyote.  Well, this was the first one, so the proverbial cement was still drying on the rules.  Spoiler alert: the Road Runner does some quick Judo on the coyote, and holds up the pot lid his own damn self, which, of course, the over-infuriated coyote runs smack dab into.  I tell you darlings, these Looney Tunes screenwriters must've dealt with some very frustrated people in their day.  May have done a whole Pvt. Snafu cartoon about the subject, how mistakes happen when you're frustrated, and we lose WWII... something like that.
Next feat of brainage: One Genuine Boomerang, not from the Acme Corporation.  The box says 'Guaranteed to Return' on it.  Again, the rules of harm are bent a little bit, as the Road Runner is one step ahead.  I mean, he's not one of Asimov's robots, is he?  As it happens, Road Runner has purchased 'Another Genuine Boomerang.'  This is the kind of thing that surely will piss off your friends who take things way too literally.  I mean, what a very specific context!  And furthermore, the Road Runner's boomerang didn't return to him/her, right?  But look at the box!  I mean, LOOK AT IT!  Such blatant silliness!  I can't take much more of it!  As for fans of flawed animation, well... one can't help but notice that Wile E.'s tail disappears when he catches his boomerang in hand.  And like Oppenheimer, I think of that line from the Bhagavad Gita... anyway, you can probably guess what happens to the coyote's boomerang...
Next brain game: like the middle-class Republican he is, Wile E. Coyote tries creating his own school crossing, and dresses up in a schoolgirl's outfit, wig and everything.  This gag would live on in compilation reels where Coyote poses as a "sexy" hitchhiker, with a different sign from the Road Runner.  As for this one, well, we find out that road runner's can't read, but they at the very least have friends that can write and, worse than that, their friends have a very dry sarcasm, the kind of thing that might summon tears in grade school.
Next game of brains: Coyote tries out his first rideable rocket, lol.  Alas, he doesn't quite get it where he wants it to go.  Just like the Darwin Awards!  Go figure!  To be fair, it's a pretty sturdy rocket, and it didn't explode on impact... maybe it just ran out of fuel.
Next brain game: our first giant boulder, complete with comical (if only to us) blueprint of how it's supposed to work.  Pretty straightforward affair normally, you would think.  I can't help but wonder what the coyote would do if the road runner actually did get crushed under this giant boulder.  Would the coyote be able to extract the flattened road runner in time before it began to spoil?  I doubt it.  I mean, he would have to dig under... anyway, the rock's center of gravity wasn't where the coyote thought it was, and of course, the rock falls backwards onto the coyote.  Alas, Wikipedia only includes some of the Laws of Cartoon Physics.  But it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that, in cartoons, gravity tends to favour the good guy, and work against the bad guy.  This maybe ... SPOILER ALERT: this is one of the few times when the coyote's head is still visible when he gets crushed by a giant boulder.  Apparently, they didn't trust the audience at first, lol.
Next brain game: our very first painted tunnel.  They even have it at an angle where the illusion doesn't work.  Spoiler alert: it's not the end of the cartoon, so a bus doesn't drive out of the tunnel, but rather the road runner re-emerges from the new dimension and runs over the coyote.  I forget which one it's in, but my favorite gag is when the coyote draws a tunnel with a broken bridge in it.  The road runner, I believe, makes it over the bridge, so the coyote tries.  The coyote ends up in his painted tunnel, and ends up falling through his painted broken bridge.  Whoa, dude... am I right?
Next feat of enhanced predation: dynamite... I gotta go to work.  Needles to say, it's a quick one, similar to how great damage is done to the space-time continuum more quickly with a flying car and a Mr. Plutonium unit in the 2nd and 3rd installments of... ah, skip it.
Next feat: an Acme Super Outfit.  This section was re-used in one of the feature length Road Runner movies... maybe this one?  How many were there, after all?  In any event, what happens to the coyote is almost too real to be funny.  But I do remember the music flourishes on this one.


World War II was over a few years now, but the role that science played in the winning of that war is not to be taken lightly.  And just as David Hilbert felt that mathematics could solve any and every problem (in mathematics), except maybe the problem of getting people to like mathematics, there were some who felt that science could also solve any problem.  Mostly stuff like feeding the world with soy-based milkshakes.  As for our Mr. Wildy Coyote, as Ted Cruz might call him, he's trying to avoid the high cost of rocket shoes for the time being.  Maybe the power of downhill skiing will give him the right opportunity to catch that blasted old Road Runner!
Now, the setup is sure to drive your engineering friends crazy, however.  The main component of the Coyote's Rube Goldberg skiing device is the giant refrigerator, suitable for a typical domestic kitchen.  Now, the government may have had plans for a refrigeration unit large enough to cover a mountainside with ice, but it wouldn't be small enough to barely fit on a coyote's back.  Or maybe they'd just have planes fly overhead and drop something bomb-sized on the area they'd want frozen.  So leaving that aside for a moment, there's also the problem of the refrigerator's power source.  It must be solar-powered as a) there are no outlets in the desert, and b) he's got no cord!  Where's the thousands of feet of orange electrical cord?  What price comedy?  Maybe this was rectified in a later episode, we just don't know.
And so, the device is fired up.  The refrigerator starts spewing out perfect ice cubes, and a meat grinder is used to chop up the ice cubes into a layer of frost suitable for skiing.  I keep going back to the example of a kid's train.  First of all, they're way way too expensive, and there's never enough tracks or cars to have decent fun with.  Okay, so maybe you get one of those lame Brio numbers with the magnets on them.  As soon as you get past a certain number of cars, the train starts to fall apart.  But the coyote gets his wish, and soon he's within range of the Road Runner, going downhill about as fast as the road runner can.  Equitability achieved at least a second time!  But unlike the Road Runner, the Coyote can't stop this crazy train once it's started.  The Road Runner stops, and watches the train wreck whizz right on past him.  The Coyote looks back in surprise, love that constant optimism... then looks forward to see the cliff coming up fast.  Alas, it's time to look to the Cartoon Laws of Physics again... let's try this hyperlink instead for a change. 
So, the first law of Cartoon Physics states that any body suspended in space (in Earth's gravity) will remain in space until made aware of its situation.  Take fat Elmer Fudd in Wabbit Twouble, for example.  When he realizes that he's got a great view of the canyon because he's hovering over it, he leaps back onto firm ground, jiggling in Bugs Bunny's thin arms.  Clearly, these laws are far too simplistic to really do justice to the comic complexity of these here Looney Tunes.  For in this instant scene, Wile E. is all too aware of his situation.  He needs a couple shots of Jagermeister to take the edge off.  And to rub things in a little more, the coyote's ice-making machine adapted for the downhill skiier sputters and dies mere inches before making it to the other side of the chasm.  Who knows?  Maybe the trail of ice left behind was strong enough to hold up on its own.  Sure, it'd need some extra counterweights and things to maintain its shape, and ideally it'd be completely across the chasm like a very, very long wooden board... but Wile E.'s the bad guy here, trying to reach for the moon to satisfy his hunger, so gravity finally takes over.  Wile E. spins down to the canyon floor, refrigerator still tied to his back, and the animation here looks a bit clunky, at least compared to his future 3D-ish plummets to various canyon floors.  Chuck Jones himself was on Bob Costas' "Later" show on NBC and told a story one time about how one of his editors started laughing uncontrollably while working on a Road Runner cartoon.  Jones went to investigate and the guy said, "I'm sorry, boss, I'll change it back."  To which Jones replied, "You change it and I'll kill you!!! What were you laughing at?"  The guy was laughing because the sound was turned down, and when the coyote fell to the canyon floor, there was a quiet explosion sound.  In the instant case, there's a loud sound; clearly, progress had yet to be made.
Next scene: the aftermath of the great fall.  After the ski pole stops shaking, the mangled refrigerator begins to produce ice cubes again, and the meat grinder continues to grind them up into a fine snow.  The coyote gets partially covered with the snow, then holds up a sign that says "Merry Xmas."  Quick fade to the next anti-triumph... very quick fade.
Spoiler alert: it's the last big trial run of the picture, so to speak, pun intended.  There's a quick epilogue to finish this off, but every once in a while you have to have a long stretch for one idea.  A bunch of non-sequiturs strung together is, well... it's just the work of the devil.  Wile E.'s had enough of the bodily harm for now.  Now it's time to skip the Acme catalog for a while, and try a more trusted brand, Fleet-Foot, makers of the wildly popular Jet-Propelled Tennis Shoes.  Hey, it worked for Andre Agassi for a while!  And once they're taken out of the box... I guess they don't come with that protective layer of wax paper, oh well... the coyote laces them up and tests them out.  They work!  Not only do they respond to the wearer's wishes without extra buttons or remote-controlled devices, but they have pretty decent stopping power as well, something that the Coyote typically doesn't account for in his own designs. 
Spoiler alert: in more cost-cutting for the background designers, the Road Runner shows up just as the Coyote's in the middle of his tests.  The Coyote looks surprised.  The Road Runner sticks his tongue out at the Coyote, says "Meep!" and leaves behind a dust cloud, saying "Meep!" again.  The Coyote takes off running, Stage Left.  The dust settles, and the Road Runner's still standing there, looking smug as usual, of course.  Sorry, but I gotta do another still frame here.  Wonder how close I am to my space limit?  Have I used up my one gig yet?
The Coyote tries playing the Road Runner's game, but the Road Runner's always one step ahead.  They play another round of... oh, how shall we put it... Dust Cloud Tag?  The Coyote stares at the Road Runner's dust cloud very intently this time, but when it dissipates, finds there's no road runner!  The Coyote's yellow eyes turn white very briefly, but he figures correctly that the Road Runner's headed Stage Right, and off he goes.
This brief stretch where the Coyote catches up to the Road Runner is exactly why I never did like that Atari coin-op video game of the Road Runner saga.  It's from their mid-80s lineup of games that included such hits as "Championship Sprint," "Paperboy" and "Marble Madness," my personal favourite.  New sounds, that same stupid font, and slightly next-level graphics.  Ooh!  They also had an Indiana Jones game.  I could never summon up enough personal courage to try any of those myself.  Looked too expensive, for one.  But that Road Runner video game, I couldn't take it.  You play the Road Runner, and you get caught by the Coyote!  That's not right, is it?  No.  No it's not, damn it.
Anyway, back to the cartoon.  More skimping on the backgrounds, as they use the same background for a wide shot, then an even wider shot where the Coyote and Road Runner look like dots.  And then... next scene: we come to the highway cloverleaf in the desert.  More pork from the ... the Tennessee Pavement Authority?  I didn't do very well in high school civics, as you can tell.  Wildly overestimating the traffic in the desert, we've got a multi-level highway with just three connecting loops instead of the usual four.  Must've been relatively new at the time.  The coyote clearly gets hypnotized by this new device, and finds himself either looking down or looking up at the Road Runner, several levels away.  In another violation of the edict that the Road Runner does no harm to the Coyote, the Road Runner runs over the Coyote and knocks him way off his feet.  A mild teasing, let's call it.  This just pisses off the Coyote that much more, and the chase continues anew.  Eventually, the two dots meet up on the same level of highway, they jump from the surprise (101... I mean LoL), and they take off again, Stage Right.  Heavens to Mergatroid!
The chase continues along that same old stretch of highway, but the Coyote's shoes start to sputter and give out.  I guess he should've sprung for those Fleet-Foot Jet-Propelled Marathon Shoes.  Either way, the gas mileage is probably not good.  Plus there's the oil and the timing belts, it just never ends.  But at the very least, the Coyote just gets spun around real good.  No explosion, no falling from cliffs, it's one of the nicer things that's happened to him.  The Coyote watches as the Road Runner again fades into the horizon, but he looks up to see a hopeful sign... a sign that says "Short Cut."  Doesn't seem that short to me, but the Coyote hopefully and happily bounds down it to get that one last stab at the Road Runner.  Fade to black.


Whoa dude.  A stab indeed!  The coyote's waiting behind a sign with an axe.  I'm of parenting age now, and I squeam... squirm at the damnedest things now.  Don't give kids any ideas about axes.  They tend not to wait for the lesson afterwards.  The lesson seems to be is something along the lines of the Chicago way, if you will.  The Coyote hears the usual "Meep meep!" and gets ready to strike with his axe.  But that's the thing about the Road Runner.  The Coyote brings an axe, and the Road Runner brings an oncoming bus.  Sure you might do some damage to that grill in the front, but... WHAM!!!!!!  All the colors of the rainbow... except green... and look at all the pretty stars!  There's Hedy Lamarr, and Alexis Smith, and Dorothy L'Amour and Baby Schnooks and... Sufferin' Succotash!  It's Ann Sheridan!  Woo-hoo!!!!!!  I better go.................

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Neil Drumming

Oh, Jean Grae!  You're far too modest!  No IMDb pic?  Hmmmm!  I guess we just have to track down "Life With Jeannie" ourselves?  I guess this is a start.  Ah, amateur night again.  Love it.  I might listen while I do other stuff.  Well, the first episode seems to be the most popular as it has 40,000 hits.  That's... that's a start, right?

Hollywood's Not Dead

...but this weekend's kinda dull.  As per expectations, Batman vs. Superman hits #1 again, just not as hard, and it'll probably be dethroned by next week... sorry, it's Batman v. Superman.  Now, why in that order, you might ask?  Shouldn't it be Superman v. Batman?  Well, I think, first of all, Superman's comfortable in his Krypton-ness that he can bring up the rear like that, and be in 2nd place.  And 2nd, it's not a direct science, as anything related to the alphabet and words can be.  Trivia questions aren't like numbers after all, are they?  You can put state capitals in a list, but the capitals themselves are a bumpy road compared to the smooth ride of the numbers used to enumerate them.  That's just the way it is.  And take the great pairings: Laurel and Hardy.  Siskel and Ebert.  Jay and Silent Bob.  I mean, Silent Bob and Jay... it just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Jay and Silent Bob barely has a ring to begin with!  Owwch.
Anyway, everything's pretty much as it was last week, except that Miracles from Heaven traded places with Allegiant.  Double owwch.  I wonder how the next installment of The Maze Runner is going to do.  As for the debuts this week, well, the first one is called God's Not Dead 2.  It sounds a bit like Ted 2 from its description, as both culminate in a big day in court.  Personally, the cast of God's Not Dead 2 is sufficiently Hollywood B-list, that if they all went to Hell, no one would notice.  Sorry, original Zedd(e)more, but you made a bad choice... dayamn!  Fred Thompson's in this?  When did he die again? ...okay, not that long ago.  I forget if he made it into this year's Oscar tribute, but I'm sure he got the warm applause he asked for.
Well, sure, so the A.V. Club doesn't like the movie, of course, yet your pastor does.  But no matter which side ultimately triumphs, I'm an old enough fogey to remember the words of a wise man who once quipped the following: if God is dead, and the actor plays his part, his words of fear will find their way to a place in your heart.  Go ahead!  Google it!
The only other debut this week is Meet the Blacks.  And again, Tyler Perry didn't take my advice and take some time off to reflect or genuflect.  You know, like J. Lo did from 2006 to 2010 for some reason.  And, boy!  Is the A.V. Club ever picky!  A C minus?  Why do you gotta hurt a brother like that?  What did Mike Epps ever do to you?  He was in the new Honeymooners reboot!  He's the new Uncle Buck, for God's sake!  Everyone loves that, right?... RIIIIIIGHT?

Friday, April 01, 2016

Short Reviews - April 2016

Anonymous - This movie, from the director of Independence Day and the 1998 version of Godzilla, tries to advance the theory that Shakespeare... that's right, the Vilhelm Shakespeare, the Bard, the greatest living writer of all time... was actually a phony and a fraud, and a glue-huffing glovemaker, of all things.  The very idea!  A glovemaker, for God's sake.  I know, right?  How low can you get?  Well, I can tell you one thing... I mean, two things.  First of all, this will never happen to Stephen King, for if the world's even around in 500 years, scholars will look at his body of work and go, "Yup.  It's all the same, kinda lame prose, but slightly different variations on the same theme.  He probably had a big team of personal assistants, though, like David E. Kelley."  And second, pooh pooh the profession of glovemaker all you want, but this much I know... no glovemaker, no lovemaker!

Avatar 4 - Apparently, four Avatar sequels have just been announced, according to all the news that is Yahoo!  It might have been on Lycos as well, but I'm sorry, I don't live in 2002 anymore.  Will Sam Worthington be able to maintain that high standard of living he enjoyed after the first Avatar was released?  Well, he seems to be working steadily, but I didn't even know he was in Everest, for example.  Oh well.  They'll figure it all out later on.  They seem to be a bit behind schedule, but I guess the four new Avatar movies will be worth waiting for.  I guess James Cameron's too proud to try releasing them as a Netflix series, or on FX or AMC or something like that, and frankly, I can't blame him.  The Ridiculous 6, on the other hand... that got the non-theatrical release it probably deserved.

The Cardinal - I dunno... this is the kind of thing that makes me think we should ride Otto Preminger out of the Auteur Club on a rail.  Hold on... love that musical number!  Where can I get a DVD copy?

Criminal - With Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon?

Déjà Vu - I hate to be so critical, and I know the MPAA is the real bad guy here, but I think that showing a hand with fingers cut off at the knuckles steps over the line into 'R' territory, and not under into 'PG-13' territory that it was actually adjudicated.

"Designing Women" - The prequel to "The Golden Girls"

Die Hard - There's probably already one on the Internets, but I want to start it and or keep it going: a theory that Alan Rickman is actually the good guy.  Hey, he was just trying to stop corporate greed!  That's... that's good, right?  Anyway, it has a better chance of success than my other theory, that Alan Rickman was actually Tom Green in disguise.  EWWWWW!!!!!!!!!

The Godfather: Part III - I've heard that it's Ted Cruz's favourite installment of the much-beloved Godfather franchise... and I think I can see why.  The dialogue in the third one's a little clunky, and Michael Corleone is about this close to achieving the legitimacy that he craves...  As for the rest of us, well, Cruz just keeps right on finding new ways to make us suffer, doesn't he?

Gog - ...and why am I just finding about this movie NOW??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Graffiti Bridge - Even Prince himself never saw this one!!

How I Won the War - Now, call me an unenlightened, biased old codger, but this headline came up on the Yahoo or something or other... probably not Lycos... and it said "10 Disappointing Facts about John Lennon."  And I couldn't help but think to myself, you know what?  I'm not even going to read that!  It's already disappointing enough that I seem to be the only one I know who even remembers the Beatles anymore; why make it worse?

Keanu - My horoscope tells me there's bad acting in my future... oh, wait!  Keanu's not actually in Keanu?  Dude....

The Lost Weekend - Doris Dowling's my new favourite

Me, Myself & Irene - There was a recent article that said, in that cute way of articles these days, "A woman poses for photos while breastfeeding her two daughters, and It Is Beautiful."  ...something close to that.  I got to the bottom of the article, where it said ", okay.  Now you've been looking at the photos too long.  What are you, some kind of perv?"  They know me so well!

Miller's Crossing - The hot trend in major motion picture editing is still this annoying tic where there's an extremely loud scene, and it cuts to a scene of quiet.  This is used rather annoyingly so in The Hateful Eight, for one.  The only time it was done well IMHO is in Miller's Crossing when a certain pivotal character gets shot.  That's the only time it was done well.  Every other instance, I think it's safe to say, was mere stylistics and almost totally unnecessary.

The Mummy (2017) - I guess The Mummy is just one of those films that's going to be remade forever and ever, as long as there are improvements in CGI to be made.  I just hope they keep the domino line of bookcases from the 1999 remake... is that asking so bloody much?

The Object of My Affection - I saw a magazine yesterday that said "Jennifer Aniston voted Most Beautiful Woman 2016."  I thought it was the AARP Monthly Newsletter, but no!  It was actually 'People' magazine.  I couldn't help but think to myself, wow!  How much did she pay to get that?  Others are complaining that her choice excludes women of color, to put it politically incorrectly.  To which Jen would probably say "Hey, I'm part Greek, for Zeus' sake!  That's, like, the oldest color there is!"  To which her Greek father would reply, "Well, this is the first time she's taken pride in her Greek heritage."  This could go on forever!

Purple Rain - Your Republican friends right now are going "Oh yeah, I love that Prince song.  'Purple rain is in my brain, lately things just don't seem the same.'", should we tell them?

Self/Less - So this is the 2nd movie in so many months where an older man looks in the mirror and sees Ryan Reynolds.  Okay, for Ben Kingsley, sure, it's an upgrade, but I think Criminal might be unfair to Kevin Costner... does that make me a bad person?  Thought so.

Silver Linings Playbook - According to my Facebook feed up there in the upper right hand corner, Jennifer Lawrence talked about "embracing a new normal-body type."  Alas, as usual, it's probably not going to be mine.  Drumroll pleeze!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Under the Cherry Moon - ...Michael Ballhaus?  Really?  Guess working for Scorsese just isn't enough for career satisfaction sometimes.