Kong: Skull Island is the big winner this week, so when I think of an island in the movies, I think... yeah, that one there. I also think, man! There's NO WAY an insurance company's going to let a movie star climb up a mountain like that. NO way! Must be a stunt double. Of course, some of these stunt doubles must be pretty valuable too. We watched all the extras on The Big Lebowski Blu-Ray last night, and Jeff Bridges was going on and on about his stunt double. "He's done 80 movies with me, we went to high school together, friends for 50 years..." That kind of stuff. And yes, it's the jealousy talking. So far, the only high school mates I have on Facebook are ones that didn't have to put up with me in grade school. And isn't that as it should be?
But the big Kong movie when I was growing up was a big stinker called King Kong Lives. Another gem from Dino De Laurentiis, probably produced in Wilmington, North Carolina, or as Dino liked to call it, "The Sicily of the South, but with better Tax Breaks on Film Production." I only saw a little bit of it on television once, and it was the part where Kong eats a guy. And I couldn't help but think to myself, "Hmm! Kong ate a guy? Kong shouldn't eat a guy!" It's probably why on a very special Halloween episode of "The Simpsons", which I believe was called "King Homer," we have Homer as King Kong. And he eats about ten or twenty people, give or take. Now, that we expect.
But that was the old Hollywood. I mean, for God's sake. What a difference a generation makes. Film companies were still struggling with the new art of transferring 35mm films to quarter inch VHS tape, and not well. Why, how many shows did Siskel and Ebert devote to "panning and scanning"? Probably less than I think, but still! Now we live in the era of HD television, and even veteran silver screener Joe Dante thinks film and TV are equal now. And frankly, I'm starting to think that the stuff coming out of my HDTV looks better than old celluloid. As for the art of celluloid storytelling, well... that seems to be improving as well, and I'm confident that the screenplay geniuses behind Kong: Skull Island did everything they could to make a viscerally entertaining action pic for the Rubes and the Rednecks, while throwing in enough future-proofing and in-jokes for the Hollywood insider crowd. Of course, no one seems to like to do odes to O.P.E. and P.O.E. anymore.
And so, the Kong movie was the only debut this week, which gives me time to focus on less important things. A feature I used to do was look back at the year in flops. And by flops, I mean a film that was in the Top 10 for only one week, then disappeared. Sometimes they would come back, especially if it was an independent feature that got a couple Oscar nominations, but usually they don't. I don't know why I stopped this feature. Maybe it was too depressing, even for me... but I did take a look back at this year so far and... permit me to do a direct address to Hollywood a la Bernie Mac in his "The Bernie Mac Show" on Fox.
Hollywood? I think you need to checkity-check yo'self! I mean, we got Manchester by the... wait, skip that one. We got The Bye Bye Man. (it said "buh-bye") We got The Founder. (it floundered) We got A Cure for Wellness (yeah, it's called Trump)... Gold! We've got Gold, for God's sake. How do you screw up a movie called Gold? That's how jaded people are, Hollywood. They see that title and go, "Ah, there's probably no useful tips in there. We can't afford to take time off to go to Indonesia anyway. Anyway, now that we saw that movie about how the McDonald brothers got ripped off, let's go to McDonald's... I mean, Taco Bell. Let's be 'Breakfast Changers' or whatever the hell it is..."