Sunday, December 28, 2008

ELE applicants: Dishonorable Mentions

I had some time to kill earlier this evening and...Seems like blogger isn't displaying this at 100%, so you may hafta download it to get a legible display.

That's the complete list of Dishonorable Mentions from DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG dvd, a dozen or so screens stitched together. Like I said, time to kill. =)

* January 6, 2009. Turns out the Blogger ended up scaling down the larger version of the image and dumped the original, so click here for the original, without any preview, suitable for scrolling...

Keep on keepin on~

DrUncle Sam's application "on file...?"

Watched DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG on DVD for the first time w Chris, Robyn, Dave, and my sister on Friday night—heartpunchingly wonderful, as ever. Chris then navigated his way to the ELE application finalists under Special Features. The top ten's videos are featured on the DVD. Gotta say, most wouldn't have been MY top picks (The Reverend kicks @ss, tho =), but then, I'm no Bad Horse (if only). I was surprised to see that the videos are followed by a list of DISHONORABLE MENTIONs. My sister and I had our eyes peeled for Sam's name, but neither of us could spot it in the scrolling pages of increasingly decreasing point-sized text. Always ready to rain on my own parade, and, familiar w the impresive levels of creativity and talent evident in the my ELE applicant competition, I wasn't crushed, but, well, I wasn't ecstatic.

O well.


Now, this Sunday afternoon, unable to find a list of the dishonorable online, I decide to unwrap my own copy of the DVD and give that list a twice over, cuz, well, why the frack not, right? And—Holy schnikies!(That's at just about the 30:04 mark of the ELE applications section of the DVD.)

Mission accomplished! U! S! A! U! S! A! *belch* U! S! A!

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, December 25, 2008


* If you're not familiar with Stephen Colbert's WristStrong initiative to raise wrist awareness and fight wrist violence, here are a couple of Colbert Report clips to fill you in...

In response to his becoming a victim of wrist violence in July 2007, Stephen Colbert launches his WristWatch campaign and the WristStrong bracelet...

"Awareness is like a virus, and celebrities are like Typhoid Marys..."

Stephen Colbert explains his "fame food chain" promotion strategy for raising wrist awareness...

Keep on keepin on~

Holidaze bits and pieces

Here's a rambly low-down on the sources of inspiration and imagery for this year's Santa/Bastard animation, aka "HUMBUG." Maybe more than any other Santa, this year's came busting out of my skull with lots of other denizens of my psyche, representatives of the cool and nerdy fanboy stuff I dearly enjoy. I hadn't thought about it when it came together, but given the context of the primary inspiration, that makes a kind of armchair psychological sense...


The main body and flow of my Santanime this year is ripped off from the gorgeous 21st-century-Saul-Bass opening credits sequence of MAD MEN, the dark and brilliant time machine of a drama playing on AMC (and now available on two seasons of DVDs). Everyone should be watching it! Especially if you're a designy or ad-world nerd.

The title, MAD MEN, is taken from the nickname given to advertising industry types working in NYC on Madison Ave of the period, the cusp of the 50s and 60s. At least, I assume it's of the show's period, as I'd never heard the reference before, and you know, I know everything.

The music, sans jingling bells, is taken directly from the credits sequence. Today I found a complete, full version of the music, created by DJ RJD2. Kind of a surprising source at first blush, but man, how perfect is the music? You can be sure I will be hunting for more of his stuff.

The environmental/background imagery comes from a bunch of places. Much of it is hard to read due to the pacing and real estate of the animation, but all of it was specifically chosen for some particular appeal to me. They kind of fall into types...

1. Screenshots from past Santa animations. The shot of me is from the "reward video" that plays after beating Donkey Claus in my 2007 Santa "game."

2. Comic book Santa imagery. Except for the first big comic book cover, which features alien snowmen, you'll see a lot of different versions of Santa Claus from comic book history, influencing or actually crossing over with marquee superhero/comic icons, a la the Hulk and Superman.

3. Santa in advertising imagery. If you look hard, you'll see Santa pitching Lucky Strikes, pipe tobacco, and Japanese beers. In my source files, I had a still from the classic Norelco/Noelco ad, but it ended up being cropped out.

4. Santa from animation, films, and TV. Mostly modern appearances or references, from VENTURE BROTHERS, SOUTH PARK, BOONDOCKS, and REINDEER GAMES (which is a lot of fun, but frankly, was a huge hit with me in just the first two minutes or so), and also a still from MIRACLE ON 34th STREET.

5. Commercial illustrations of Santa, including a few Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations of Santa. Dropped in one by Norman Rockwell and a couple of other Post regulars. I never went looking for these depictions of Santa while growing up, but they ended up being absorbed into my pop subconscious over the years, y'know? All-American, somehow. Wholesome. Instantly classic and traditional.

On the wall in the home that Santa invades at the opening of the animation, I included some decor that highlights some of my political, pop cultural, and artistic fanboy faves. Left to right, there's a copy of the Stephen Colbert portrait that's currently hanging in the National Gallery, a really cool promo poster for DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG, and my ticket stub calendar, inaccurately turned to October, to show off the sickness of my Brattle Theater Watch-A-Thon 2008 month.

I hadn't thought of it while in production, but the closing of the animation mirrors the opening in that way. When Santa's vertiginous fall ends, he ultimately lands in the balcony seats at the Brattle (where I and some other 'thon watchers were treated to a showing of DR. HORRIBLE on the big screen—awesomely mcawesome =) and, just as the MAD MEN music drops out, a WristStrong bracelet slides out from Santa's sleeve. I couldn't NOT pass one on to the fat man.* I mean, who's got more visibility and appeals to more markets than Santa, right?

I hope you enjoyed Santa's cathartic animated fallabout without knowing any of this referential whatnot, but maybe filling in those blanks will enhance your experience, and lead you to check out all the Good Sh!t I Love for yourself! =)

Happy frickin holidaze~

Keep on keepin on~

* If you're not familiar with Stephen Colbert's wrist and wrist violence awareness initiative, here are a couple of Colbert Report clips to fill you in...

In response to his becoming a victim of wrist violence in July 2007, Stephen Colbert launches his WristWatch campaign and the WristStrong bracelet...

"Awareness is like a virus, and celebrities are like Typhoid Marys..."

Stephen Colbert explains his "fame food chain" promotion strategy for raising wrist awareness...

p.s. Found out that THE SIMPSONS did a MAD parody to open one of their shorts from this year's "Treehouse of Terror XIX." =)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Frickin Holidaze =)

Io, Saturnalia!

Brian here. Y'know, the...

(check any that apply)
[ ] movie guy
[ ] vball guy
[ ] talks-too-much guy
[ ] friend of yours
[ ] friend of that friend of yours
[ ] one your friends warned you about
[ ] other name on the restraining order
[ ] guy who you don't know who it is

And, seeing as how we're just THAT close, how could I NOT go all-out in presenting you with a unique, special, one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted holiday gift?

Well, as it turns out, I know exactly how...

Happy Frickin Holidaze! =)

I hope you enjoy the digital whatzit. May the year's end treat you kindly, and may you enjoy some satisfying food comas, make many fond new memories w friends and family, and collect much satisfying holiday loot!~

Best wishes for a merry everything and a happy new president! =)

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. If you're drawing a blank as to the pedigree of this year's Santanime, feel free to let me know and I'll try to enlighten you as best I can.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Merry betamaXmas!

Check out some very special episodes!

Thanks to designfemme for the flashbacks! =)

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, December 06, 2008

MAD fans =)

Frack. I wish I'd known about this contest when it was going on. Still, gotta say that I don't think I would've been able to top the winner. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving: they say stretching is important before a workout...

I figure many of you may already be en route to family holiday (dys =)fun, but I thought you'd appreciate this little find anyhow. If you're staying Boston-local, maybe you can take advantage of it yourself, and if not perhaps you can pass it on to friends who are staying in Bostonia for turkeypalooza.

Yoga In The Square in Davis Square is hosting a "Pre-Thanksgiving Stretch & Flow Class with Chanel Luck" Thursday morning at 10am. I dunno nothin bout no Chanel Luck, but I'm intrigued by the idea. Transcribing from the flyer I picked up (cuz I'm waiting on some files to upload for a client just now =)...

Get your yoga groove on and your belly ready for Thanksgiving Dinner.

For the first time ever on the east coast—Chanel teaches a Thanksgiving Benefit music inspired class designed for all levels. It is the perfect time to introduce a friend or relative to yoga. This event is usually held in Los Angeles each Thanksgiving, so please come out and make the first Boston event a success and a new tradition.

All you need to bring is yourself and a monetary donation to our Community Soul Cause for this event: Casa De Milagros in Peru, a sacred home for over 30 Peruvian Orphans. For more information, visit

As a sort of sideways Thanksgiving good wish, I leave you with my annual holiday-appropriate FAT ALBERT bit of genius...

Rudy, you're like school on Thanksgiving... No class, jive turkey!

May your Thursday be tryptophantastic, and your Friday none more black. Y'know, in a good way.

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. Pitbull pardons turkey!

... just not the ones that appear in the video. Beware, not graphic, but not pleasant for the faint of heart/turkey fans.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Mr. Campbell leads a spirited Q&A session after the 9.45 show of MY NAME IS BRUCE at the Kendall Square cinema on Saturday night...

If the player above is clipping the recording (it should run over 20 minutes), give this link to the mp3 a try.

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, November 08, 2008

They call him BRUCE!

trailer | MNIB @Bruce Campbell's site
B-movie greatness and a ton of fun for fans of BC's work! =)
Gotta warn you, I can tell this one is gonna be way more ramble than review...

I caught the late show of Bruce Campbell's THEY CALL ME BRUCE at Kendall Square with eight suckers—whoops—friends, that is, and it is great frickin fun! Granted, I hafta admit that the post-show question-and-abuse session was more laughs-per-second than the film itself, but that's not a bad thing, and testimonial to the entertainment value of the man. Just goes to show that most directors don't know how to take full advantage of his gifts. Alas, apparently even himself! (He directs and stars in BRUCE =)

I kid, I kid. Well, somewhat. Bruce *IS* awesomely entertaining in person, and the film is a lot of comic action horror fun to watch. One night in the once-not-as-crappy mining town of Gold Lick, a double date of hormonal gothy teens vandalizing a cemetery accidentally release Quan-Di, a Chinese demon who seeks revenge for the spirits of the impressed workers who died in the mines in the 19th century. Of course! Jeff, the kid who unleashed the demon, happens to be a huge fanboy of the Bruce's monster-beating work, and, recognizing Quan-Di for the supernatural menace that he is, concocts a plan to bring Bruce to Gold Lick to destroy the demon and save their town. Wacky, Brucetastic, fun ensues. We get it all. That special brand of charm, romance, chivalry, heroics, horroriffic dismemberments, and what great Campbell flick would be complete without some wee Bruce action? It's a rollicking and campy follow-thru on a pretty simple and clever classic storyline that you can trace back to SEVEN SAMURAI.

I've always wanted to put together a "SEVEN SAMURAI and sons" marathon film feast, and now definitely hafta add this film as the warm chocolate cake a la mode dessert. SAMURAI establishes the plot and theme—a poor community is under attack from some Big Bad and reaches out to an unlikely hero or group of heroes for help. These heroes are not so heroic by nature—and can include drunks, criminals, and outlaws with dirty secrets in their past, also, Robert Vaughn (he shows up as the same guy in two of the movies below)—and may regard these poor cowards as pitiful and worthless at first, but ultimately they discover reasons for agreeing to help them. As they prepare to battle the Big Bad they come to know the people they've agreed to protect. They laugh, they love, they grab ass, and they learn... You know how it goes. There's usually a young punk of a rebel among the townspeople who looks up to the heroes and wants to fight with them, become one of them. Typically when the heroes first face the Big Bad, they let the community down, but after a crisis moment or confrontation, they rally and bring it. You'll see this basic plot unfold in all of the following...


You can trace an evolution in genres and level of self-consciousness thru the films as well...

In SAMURAI, the community is a poor village of farmers, the Big Bad are roving bandits who steal their food and occupy their homes, and the heroes are a rag-tag bunch of "rogue" samurai, and one young unknown, who is more a wanna-be than a true fighter.

In MAGNIFICENT, a pretty perfect and remarkable one-to-one adaptation of the original samurai tale into spaghetti western, the community is again a poor village, and the western style Big Bad are a band of banditos. The heroes are a rag-tag bunch of gunfighters with mixed reps, along with a similar young unknown. Has a helluva cast, including Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn, who will surprise you in their faithfulness to their samurai counterparts in performances, characters, and even appearance. Remarkable stuff.

In BATTLE, the samurai are recast in outer space. The community is a poor planet on the edge of the frontier, the sci-fi Big Bad are a fleet of space baddies, looking to take the planet over (I forget why, for what resources), and the heroes are a rag-tag bunch of ex-soldiers and mercenaries. From what I can remember, it stars THE WALTONS's John Boy, BUCK ROGERS's Princess Ardala, Robert Vaughn, and a spaceship with a rack.

In the THREE AMIGOS—you all know this one, right?—we backpedal to SEVEN SAMURAI, but instead of reaching out to genuine gunfighters, the poor villagers contact three actors who play gunfighting heroes, and adapt the story for comedy.

And ultimately, in BRUCE, the community is the dying mining town of Gold Lick. The supernatural Big Bad is Quan-Di, a vengeful Chinese demon who protects the spirits of the 19th century workers who died in a mine collapse. Also, he is the patron demon of tofu. And the hero, of course, man enough to, all on his own, take on the action, romance, and comedy of any seven samurai, gunfighters, or space mercs, and certainly any three amigos, is Bruce Campbell, a (slightly) surlier and less successful version of the man himself.

Although the film could've used a bit of editing—I'd knock out a couple of slow and superfluous bits and add (or restore) a scene where the fanboy explains to Bruce how he originally accidentally released the demon—it's pretty damn satisfying fans of the man's oeuvre. Being a fan since I saw EVIL DEAD 2 back in high school, I can't honestly comment on the non-fan/newbie experience. On top of the wonderful unapologetic Bruce-ness of it all, the dialogue offers some fun self-deprecating jabs at his real life career and more than a few referential bits that only fans will appreciate. In post-screening discussion with my friends outside the theater, everyone only had great things to see about Bruce's post-show appearance, and we never moved on to anything resembling critical words about the film itself. Altho, we did mention the unnecessary wrongness at having Ted Raimi play an over-the-top descendant of the Chinese miners. Perhaps the Italians(?) in the audience weren't so pleased with his mysteriously ethnic sign painter?

Gotta say, watching both Bruce and his fanboy put movie-Bruce Campbell moves on the ladies is frickin hilarious. =)

In the Q&A, even after watching him verbally dismember just about every questioner, I wanted to get a question in about what he thought of his profiting from the exploitation of wrist violence in his films (tonight's featured a racy example as well =). Alas, he took his final three Qs without picking me. While my friends and I were huddled in discussion in front of the theater after the show, Bruce and lovely and talented co-star Grace Thorsen, apparently exited and walked right by us. Half of my little posse saw him, BUT DIDN'T THINK TO MENTION IT TO ME! WTF?!


Well, I'm planning on hitting the late show again Saturday/tonight. Maybe I'll get a chance have him slap me around then. =)

See? I warned you about the rambling potential... Allright, it's crash time.

As of tonight, there were still tickets available for Saturday's shows...
Here's Grace and Bruce leaving the room at the end of the evening...

Keep on groovin on~

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Thanks to your smashingly good-looking support and well-dressed generosity—along with my shameful disregard for my quality of life—I did it! With 45 movies watched and over $2,600 raised over 31 days, I finished first in the 2008 Brattle Theater Movie Watch-A-Thon! Thank you!

As soon as I can shake this rapid hearbeat and shallow breathing, I plan to cheer, honest.


The count happened Monday night at the Watch-A-Thon "finish line" part at the theater, where 'thon runners and friends and supporters were treated to a free screening of DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG!!!

See why I love this place? =)

And what's the winning jackpot, you ask? What else for a Watch-A-Thon runner? A free rental of the Brattle Theater for a screening of my choice. The film can be on reels from their permanent collection, reels that I procure, or any standard digital source. I'm thinking... maybe a western, disguised as a Hong Kong gangster film... that, or FLASH GORDON. =) A free time slot to program won't be available until Jan 2009 at the earliest, but when it gets figured out, YOU ARE INVITED =)

Thanks again for your contributions! And hey, if you're one of my victims who hasn't yet actually been to the theater for a screening, we'll have to go sometime, my treat! Let me know!

Keep on Brattling on~

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Watch-A-Thon flicks 33.5, 34, & 34.5: CHRISTMAS ON MARS, THE SHINING, & IT'S ALIVE!

Santa Claus conquers the Martians! A charming scifi Christmas fable with rich and crafty psychadelic visuals.


Keep on creepin on~

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Watch-A-Thon count...

Here's the list of movies I've seen so far on my 2008 Watch-A-Thon run. For the purposes of the 'thon count, films at the Brattle count as one point, and films at other venues count as half a point.

1.0. BLOOD FREAK. Wed, 10/1 @the Brattle.

2.0. WILD PUSSYCAT. Wed, 10/1 @the Brattle.

2.5. FLOW. Thu, 10/2 @Kendall.

3.5. ROLLING THUNDER. Fri, 10/3 @the Brattle.

4.5. DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE. Fri, 10/3 @the Brattle.

5.5. SEX DEMONS. Fri, 10/3 @the Brattle.

6.5. LITTLE FUGITIVE. Sat, 10/4 @the Brattle.

7.0. EAGLE EYE. Sat, 10/4 @Somerville Davis.

8.0. TEENAGE HITCHHIKERS. Sat, 10/4 @the Brattle.

9.0. TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN. Sat, 10/4 @the Brattle.

10.0. PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

11.0. A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

11.5. APPALOOSA. Sun, 10/5 @Somerville Davis.

12.5. SWEET SUGAR. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

13.5. CHAINED HEAT. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

14.0. RELIGULOUS. Mon, 10/6 @Kendall.

15.0. DARKER THAN AMBER. Tue, 10/7 @the Brattle.

16.0. TRUCK TURNER. Wed, 10/8 @the Brattle.

17.0. PSYCHO FROM TEXAS. Wed, 10/8 @the Brattle.

18.0. SNAKES. Wed, 10/8 @the Brattle.

19.0. RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP. Thu, 10/9 @the Brattle.

19.5. ALLAH MADE ME FUNNY. Thu, 10/9 @Kendall.

20.5. GOOD MORNING. Sat, 10/11 @the Brattle.

21.0. FLASH OF GENIUS. Mon, 10/13 @Kendall.

21.5. DAYS AND CLOUDS. Tue, 10/14 @Kendall.

22.0. CALL + RESPONSE. Wed, 10/15 @Kendall.

23.0. TWENTIETH CENTURY. Sat, 10/18 @the Brattle.

23.5. NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. Sat, 10/18 @Harvard Square.

24.5. TO BE OR NOT TO BE. Sun, 10/19 @the Brattle.

25.0. RACHEL GETTING MARRIED. Tue, 10/21 @Kendall.

25.5. SAVING MARRIAGE. Tue, 10/21 @Kendall.

26.5. NOTHING SACRED. Wed, 10/22 @the Brattle.

27.5. MR. AND MRS. SMITH. Wed, 10/22 @the Brattle.

28.0. W. Thu, 10/23 @Harvard Square.

29.0. FRONTRUNNERS. Fri, 10/24 @the Brattle.

29.5. PRIDE AND GLORY. Fri, 10/24 @Fenway.

30.0. ASHES OF TIME (REDUX). Sat, 10/25 @Kendall.

30.5. QUARANTINE. Sun, 10/26 @Liberty Tree.

31.0. BREAKFAST WITH SCOT. Sun, 10/26 @Kendall.

31.5. BODY OF LIES. Tue, 10/28 @Somerville Davis.

32.0. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Wed, 10/29 @Kendall.

32.5. HAPPY-GO-LUCKY. Wed, 10/29 @Kendall.

33.5. CHRISTMAS ON MARS. Fri, 10/31 @the Brattle.

34.0. THE SHINING. Fri, 10/31 @Somerville Davis.

34.5. IT'S ALIVE. Fri, 10/31 @Somerville Davis.

Brattle films: 24.

Other venues: 21.

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, October 31, 2008

Watch-A-Thon flicks 32 & 32.5: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN & HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Met up with a fellow 'thon runner Wednesday night to knock off a very satisfying double feature of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, a sort of Swedish 400 BLOWS with a vampire next door, and HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, a pretty amazing parable of what it's like to live happily.

Like MY GIRL, except Swedish, and with vampires...
trailer | website

I really wish I could say that with more authority, but I hafta fess up that I've never seen MY GIRL, but I imagine that it could've been very much like this. Only, y'know, without the bloodsucking May-1900-December-2000 relationship.

* It's late and I'm fading. I'll try to revisit RIGHT ONE soon and punch up the "review." Bottom line: SEE IT! It's frickin clever, sweet, chilling, and gorgeous. Also, best big screen housecat action since SLEEPWALKERS! =)

That title pretty much says it all. =)
trailer | website

It's a super-sweet film I highly recommend. Poppy is the titular character, a lovely pixie of a British lass who I kept thinking would make an ultimate companion for The Doctor. A brighter, shinier, Donna Noble, y'know? Anyhow, she's a sweetheart of a woman, always ready with a smile, a joke, a compliment, or the lighter side of whatever challenge she or a friend is facing. Unsinkable and unflappable. We basically get to follow her in her days as a grade school teacher, 30-year-old driving school pupil, silver-lining-seeking member of a girls-night-out gang with strong whipsmart repartee, and oldest sister of three. Some of her encounters are troubling and dark, but as much as possible, she approaches and engages people with the sunniest of sides. It's so appealing, and, frankly, damn impressive. In the face of sad, dysfunctionally aggravating, menacing, and surreal situations, she always manages to put on the Happy. Remarkable. In tone, mood, and even music, it reminded me of French Tati films, as well as LITTLE FUGITIVE, and Ozu's GOOD MORNING. If those references don't do anything for you... How to describe it? It's like experiencing two hours of one of those Sesame Street segments where they take the camera out on the streets of Manhattan and look for the letters of the alphabet everywhere in the environment. I know that sounds nuts, but that really is what it's like. Y'know, with some added bits of muppet drama, like maybe Big Bird walking thru every once in a while, looking for Snuffleupagus, asking if we've seen him, but of course, we can't say, even though Snuffy's just across the street at the hot dog vendor, or there, waiting to go into the museum, or hey, now he's on the big screen in Times Square. Like that, and doesn't that sound like fun? Well, it should, cuz it is. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Watch-A-Thon: spread the wealth around...

I want your money (for the Brattle). I really do. But, cocky bastard that I am, with the finish line in sight, I decided to do a little looking around at the pack. And who do I see? A few fellow Brattle nuts, familiar strangers, people with whom I have undoubtedly shared many films but not really gotten to know. The thing is, I'm guessing that they have way more dignity than I when it comes to pushing their dirty little movie habit on every friend, acquaintance, client, vendor, stranger, or arresting officer.

Lucky for me and the Brattle, I'm short on dignity. At least, y'know, when it comes to sitting at a keyboard and zapping people w electrons seeking moviegoing spotters and boosting this or that film and the Brattle's programming. Of course, we're also very fortunate that my friends are long on patience and generosity. That, or motivation to shut me up. =)

I don't know who all visits these deposits of blogorrhea here at wuzzon, but if you're here for the first time, or the dozenth (only the Space Pope knows why), and don't actually know me in "the real world," given the content of most of my rambling, I'd guess that you're at least an irregular moviegoer, and possibly a full-on film fanatic, like myself and my fellow 'thon runners. Maybe even a Brattle patron, once or twice in a while. If that's at all the case, please consider supporting the Brattle by sponsoring one of my fellow runners. So far as I can tell, three of them are also availing themselves of firstgiving's capabilities, so those are the only ones I can push at you here.

As Obama says, it's better for everyone when we spread the wealth around.

(Besides, I can "afford" to refer you to other runners just now, as I happen to know that my parents are gonna drop some guilt money on my firstgiving page before the finish line. =)

Keep on spreadin on~

Watch-A-Thon 2008: only days remain!

Greetings, programs!

The Watch-A-Thon finish line is fast approaching (this Saturday, November 1), so I'm harassing you once again, this time to alert you that you're running out of time to be fashionably late with your tax-deductible support for this cool little moviehouse~

You can support my fundraising run with a flat donation at my firstgiving page...

...or choose to pledge a contribution per movie watched. If you'd like to do that, contact me via email (or comment) and let me know how much you'd like to pledge. Be warned, tho—this week I passed the 30-movie mark, so you'll want to modify your cyphering accordingly.

For an irregular record of the movie carnage wrought in my wake, check out my October blog postings.

And feel free to get in touch to ask me about any of the movies I've seen. I couldn't motivate to write a post about each and every one. Here are some quick takes on several that I didn't haven't yet written up/posted but highly recommend...

RELIGULOUS is something EVERYONE should see with a friend or twelve, even if you think it'll annoy or offend you. On the one hand, it's a hilarious mock-you-mentary in a BORAT-does-religion-instead-of-America way. On the other, Bill Maher has put together a kind of non-believer recruitment film, and it's totally built to start some really great discussions once the film's over. I'd be up for another screening if you're looking for a spotter.

FLASH OF GENIUS is a great David vs. Ford Goliath story, and altho it's based on a true story that unfolded in the early 70s, its tone seems remarkably resonant with society today. Kinnear is pretty wonderful as the professor-turned-inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper who has his American Dream turned into a nightmare by big business.

NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST for some sweet, if unlikely, teenage one-crazy-night comical romance and musical connection. George Michael Bluth hits another coolest-nice-guy-ever role out of the park.

ASHES OF TIME. An ex-killer turned middleman-to-killers works year-round out of his desert outpost. As the seasons turn, he encounters an eccentric collection of clients and killers, almost all with tragic romantic pasts. Classic Wong Kar Wai (CHUNGKING EXPRESS, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE) fare in its weaving of relationships, broken, forbidden, and quirkily ideal. What makes this different from his other films is the period setting and the martial arts. Not conventional HK screen action, but well-choreographed and Wong Kar Wai/Christopher Doyle stylized in treatment and editing. This is the second time I've seen it (the first was on video), and the action sequences struck me as very Frank Miller's ninja melees (a la DAREDEVIL) brought to life. It's beautiful stuff.

QUARANTINE is a ton of ghastly fun! Frankly, it's what Romero's recent DIARY OF THE DEAD *should* have been. A great live-on-the-scene-camcorder-POV style spam-in-a-cabin horror flick, except that this cabin isn't in some remote woods. It's an apartment building in Los Angeles, where the tenants find themselves trapped with an unknown entity or agent that turns each of them, one after the other, into cannibalistic killers. Joy!

BODY OF LIES is more Ridley Scott excellence at telling tight, taut, focused stories that feature drama and intense action that complement one another and move move move a story populated by an excellent cast of good and bad and who-knows guys. Leo plays a CIA agent on the ground in the Middle East, accomplished at navigating the society and culture, and looking to turn enemies and terrorist threats into intel assets. His operator back in the states, played by Crowe, believes he knows better how to work the system from afar. When Leo gets in with the head of Jordanian intelligence, Crowe's heavy-handedness and results-oriented shortsightedness threatens to ruin the potentially valuable relationship. Wacky keyhole satellite surveillance fun ensues.

Again, check out my October posts for a list of most of the movies I've seen, along with some more detailed rambles about films I haven't mentioned above. And please consider dropping a few bucks in support of my movie madness via my firstgiving page. I mean, don't you feel safer with me sitting in a movie theater, pacified by the pretty pictures, rather than, y'know, OUT THERE, somewhere, loose, doing who-knows-what? Yeah, me, too. =)

If you're thinking about casing the operation before investing, the Brattle is playing the highly quirky and highly entertaining election documentary FRONTRUNNERS thru Thursday evening, and then switches over to IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN for a special 5.30 Halloween screening, followed by the Friday night premiere kick-off of a long weekend of the Flaming Lips's psychadelic alien rock experience, CHRISTMAS ON MARS! Check this stuff out! =)

Thanks for your time and consideration, and triple-thanks to those of you who have chosen to enable my habit and support the cool little theater that I've made my home away from the office. You can see their illustrious names up in electrons on—I forget if I've mentioned this to you yet?—my firstgiving page. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, October 27, 2008

Watch-A-Thon flicks 28 & 29: W. & FRONTRUNNERS

Thursday and Friday found me taking in two movies with political figures as their subjects. On Thursday, with visiting ambassador from New Jersey, Mike, it was W, Oliver Stone's cinematic take on the man we know as still-President George W. Bush, and on Friday, with my sister as spotter, it was FRONTRUNNERS—a documentary on the personalities, politicking, and campaign strategery involved in the presidential election... of the student body at Stuyvesant High in NYC in 2006. I gotta say, FRONTRUNNERS ends up being more about politics than W.

Light on story and controversy, big on characters and a certain point of view (no surprise there, right?).
trailer | website

I honestly didn't get a lot out of this film. The overall take on the prez presented in it is one which I think must have crossed most people's minds if driven to ponder the man's motivations since arriving at the White House. It's not so much a story as it is a diagram or outline, highlighting telling moments in W's life. It's about the man, not his office, and despite, or even because (frightening) of his mistakes, aka decisions, it paints that man, George, Jr., in a rather sympathetic light. But you know, good lighting can only take you so far. Perhaps it will age well, tho. When history out-and-out condemns the man for his mistakes, the sympathy that Stone's scenes-from-a-life garners might be more powerful.

For a more compelling and enjoyable, and completely fictional, but deja vu-inducing, story with great performances, look up SILVER CITY on Netflix.

This film jumps back and forth between moments in his first term as prez and events in his younger years. In the past, we get glimpses of his remarkable charm and way with people, his realization that he's a link in the chain of the American dynasty of Bushes, but apparently a weak one, an indulgence in a drinking habit that grows into a bigger and bigger problem, and the apparent salvation from it, and the calling he hears, when he is born again in JC's name. In the "present" of his first term we meet his close aids and friends, an impressive thespian menagerie, I must say. I did not pay attention to the casting before going into this movie, but if someone had given me the list of players and parts, I would have had a lot of trouble seeing it work in my head. I hafta say, tho, everyone is remarkably, freakishly, even, well cast. As unlikely as it seems when you measure Brolin and George, Jr. up side-by-side, Brolin totally sells his good ol' boy Bush performance throughout the film. The weakest performance may have been Richard Dreyfuss as Darth Cheney. I had the most trouble seeing him disappear into this role compared to the rest.

The portrayals of Rove and Rice are... well, uncanny, and kinda scary.

There are several fictionalized meetings we are allowed to sit in on, and these are probably the most engaging parts of the film. One of the strongest themes that arises from these, sadly, is a sort of "fall of Colin Powell," following his struggle to be a responsible citizen and advisor as well as a good soldier. The other theme that emerges, at least in my mind, is how much any big decision-making is part of an already existing agenda. It's just a matter of waiting for some facts, or pseudo-facts, to line up with some certain manipulated personalities, one of which might possibly be the President's.

I mentioned above that the film paints a very particular picture of Bush, in regards to his motivations and influences. I can't think of any way to talk around that idea, so I'm just gonna go ahead and spill, so if you'd rather be "surprised" in the theater, skip on from here to the FRONTRUNNERS ramble...

Basically, it's about his father, it's about his Godly calling, and it's about falling in with a bad crowd. In the film, we get to see how the approval of his father drives him to attempt great things, but how the expectations of his father perhaps lead him to be resigned to his fate of repeated screw-ups. His early opportunities, and the one early "success" that we're shown, actually end up being facilitated by his father and his influence. George, Sr. is not shy about holding brother Jeb up as a chosen, favored son, compared to the shiftless good ol' boy George, Jr., quicker with his drink than with his ambition. His last name might as well be Costanza.

When we see W come to God, he's apparently a true believer. His belief gives him the strength to beat the demon in the bottle. He also takes this belief and approaches his father about running his Presidential campaign with an eye for appealing to the religious right. George, Sr. is not comfortable with wearing the cross for political gain, but does declare that if that's what the people are looking for his son is who they should be talking to.

It's a bit chilling to me when we see George, Jr. insist on closing staff meetings, particularly "star chamber" ones—in which they discuss sketchy intel, bypassing the UN, and war—with a prayer.

Given the remarkable cast and performances, I really would've liked to have seen more about the other players in his adult and political life, Jeffrey Wright's Powell, that freaky Rove, Scott Glenn's Rumsfeld, Bruce McGill's Tenet, even Rob Corddry's (!) Fleischer. The movie doesn't indulge me, tho, and I suppose that's fair. The film is about its title subject, and not meant to be a website or flowchart of the White House. More's the pity.

What to tell you? It won't change your vote. It will boost your admiration for Brolin's talents. It makes a decent complementary film to RELIGULOUS. Wait for the DVD or see it at a matinee.

"It's high school!" Meet some interesting kids in an entertaining documentary on politics.
trailer | website | Brattle listing

I'm fading, so I'm gonna hafta keep this short. FRONTRUNNERS is a charming documentary following the four eccentric candidates—along with their running mates, friends, and faculty—campaigning for the position of student body president at Stuyvesant high school in New York City. You'll meet Mike, the self-assured (or is that cocky?—you'll hafta ask his veep) and experienced student body CFO. There's Alex, the jock, running on a non-existent platform with something of a whispering campaign. Then you've got Hannah, an over-achieving (but hey, this is Stuyvesant—isn't everyone?) cheerleader and accomplished thespian. And finally, George, the pseudo-philosophizing political machinesmith and student body chief of staff. Who will YOU vote for?

It's a pretty fun slice of high school (circa 2006) featuring some kids and candidates with real character. A great bizarro world of an escape from this countdown week of 24 hour news cycling "real world" election politics. It's playing in very limited release and currently on screen in the Boston area in its premiere run exclusively at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square thru Thursday night. Check it out if you can!

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, October 24, 2008

Watch-A-Thon 2008: final leg!

Hello, my oh-so-fetching and fascinating
[ ] friend
[ ] family member
[ ] MiceSpace pal
[ ] FBriend
[ ] teammate
[ ] acquaintance
[ ] friend-of-a-friend whose email address I pilfered from a mass mailing...

Brian here, again. How fare you? My, my! I must say, you are looking quite robust and fit! As ever, really. An uncanny resemblance to the ideal immortalized in classical Greek sculpture. Only, you know, with better hair. Oh, before you say a word, I must ask that you let me speak my mind, lest I be completely swept up and away by your charm and charisma, which, as impossible as it may seem, surpass your appearance in power and appeal.

I feel I must let you know that I am now on the last leg/week of my 2008 Brattle Theater fundraiser Movie Watch-A-Thon run. Being the thoughtful and well-informed friend and citizen that you are, I'm quite certain you're aware of my progress, but I hope you understand that in my position, I could not take the chance of not updating you. I mean no insult.

I know that you have no doubt been biding your time, taking in the lay of the land, accounting for political, economic, and cultural factors, always conscious of how your very influential support can best be timed and applied for maximum good. I myself am an unskilled amateur at such calculus, but have the gut feeling that that optimum moment is approaching, and will fall sometime this coming week.

How will you choose to support the theater and my run, I wonder? There is the straightforward option to make a one-time donation. But, do not forget that you can pledge an amount per movie, as well. Although, I must "warn" you that as of this week, I have just passed the 25-movie mark, and there is still a week of 'thonning remaining, so, if you choose to pledge, adjust your math accordingly.

You can make your donation via my firstgiving page.

It can be grueling, it's true—SO much bum-planting and popcorn-consuming—but I persevere, knowing that it's for such a good cause! Certainly the run is made easier if your work hours and sleep requirements can be pushed to the extreme degree that mine can. It also happens to be convenient that I'm not in demand at m/any social engagements and society affairs, as you are. However, if you discover a movie-sized gap in your upcoming itinerary—perhaps a serendipitous scheduling conflict with the Pope, or that Bono fellow?—my offer stands—I will gladly treat you to a film at my favorite little cinema anytime that we can manage it. Do let me know. The election documentary FRONTRUNNERS begins its week-long run tonight, Friday, 10/24.


Brattle calendar.

Thanks very much for your time and consideration!

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. C'mon, Obama's got enough dough now, right? And besides, *this* is tax deductible!

p.p.s. To those incredibly super-hot PEOPLE magazine's sexiest individuals who have already contributed, thank you again for your generous support! Also, please disregard this message.

p.p.p.s. Please pass this message on to anyone you think would be into supporting this wonderful independent cinema (and keeping me off the streets)—thanks!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

inflatable bag monsters!

They kinda remind me of Miyazaki creatures. =)

Thanks to Jessie for scouting them out.

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A holodeck program of a dysfunctional family wedding celebration (w safety protocols disabled).
trailer | website

Drug addict and raw nerve pincher Kym checks herself out of rehab in time to participate in her sister Rachel's wedding. Sequestered away from her family for months, her reunion with them leads to everyone falling into apparently well-worn paths of aggravating and button-pushing behavior that only family can inflict upon one another. Good times!

Over the course of three days leading up to the wedding, we're introduced to Kym and Rachel's divorced parents, the ghost of a younger brother, Rachel's musical husband-to-be, Sidney, and his family, and the best friends-turned-maid of honor and best man. Encounters between all of the above reveal to us bits and pieces of the sisters' history and relationships with the rest of their family.

In content, sadly, most of what we learn is pretty miserable, but laced with a few powerful select moments of catharsis, connection, and hope. While I honestly don't remember the details of the narrative of the movie, THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY came to mind as a similarly flavored movie experience—massive dysfunction on parade with a stellar cast.

In execution, the portrayal of the extended and extending family and their interrelationships is painfully good. The film's shot in what I guess people call "documentary style," from handheld cameras. I think I've become so used to this style that I don't think of it as anything special any more and didn't think about the camera work while watching the film. The cameras move with and among the characters at an intimate scale, allowing you to be another wedding guest in celebration, or a fly on the wall in the uncomfortable thick of things, complementing the performances and enhancing the storytelling of the film. The miserable is made all the rougher, true, but the moments of revelation and joy are just a bit more touching.

Having groom Sidney be some kind of player in the musical world allows for the world of RACHEL GETS MARRIED to be scored by some very creative and talented musicians.

All the performances are solid, but I've gotta say that Anne Hathaway as the prickly Kym is amazing, bouncing from alienated outsider to attention seeker, from favored daughter to resentful suspect, from righteous victim to guilt-ridden screw-up... working thru so many levels of turmoil and conflict involving her addiction, her resulting crimes, her recovery, and her role in her family, on screen before your eyes. A true hot mess.

If you're looking for some family melodrama, a HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, but, y'know, without the laughs, or perhaps looking to experience the Kobayashi Maru of quirky weddings, definitely check this out.

"Straight, but not narrow!" A brilliantly crafted documentary on the battle for recognition of gay marriage in Massachusetts.
website | schedule
This doc is put together so frickin well! Definitely one-sided in its presentation of the issue of gay marriage (hint: pro), sure, but its construction—from interviews, "embedded" footage, and news coverage—of the story of the battle for its recognition in Massachusetts is frickin impressive.

The film builds a compelling metastory, and made me thankful that I'm as ignorant as I am of local politics. If I'd followed events more closely at the time, the unfolding narrative of the film would not have held as much suspense or as many surprises for me. =)

Interviews with gay and straight individuals, their families, lawyers, activists, and politicians on both sides of the issue do a remarkable job of presenting the argument for and against gay marriage, and raising awareness of the conflict as a 21st century civil rights issue. Speeches by state representatives point up comparisons with the civil rights struggle of the 60s in both negative and positive lights. The film covers approximately 36 months of legislation and campaigning in Massachusetts. Once same-sex marriages were made legal in the state in 2003, an amendment was proposed to define marriage in Massachusetts as being exclusively between a man and a woman. For the amendment to pass, or not, it would take two state constitutional conventions and a state election between them, and the film deftly follows the process from start to finish. Never before has the importance of the right to marry been made so clear to me, as well as the dangers inherent in the limitation of civil rights by constitutional amendment and popular vote.

The film is playing in limited release right now (see the website for cities and dates), so grab some friends and catch it if you can! Now playing in the Boston area at the Kendall Square cinema in Cambridge.

* October 22m 2008. Caught this comment from Ellen Degeneres off of Huffington Post today. She was discussing Palin's stance on gay marriage, that it should be banned in an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Degeneres has also opposed proposition 8 on the California ballot, which seeks to define marriage in the state as exclusively between a man and a woman...
DeGeneres also responded to critics of gay marriage by joking, "I don't know what people are scared of. Maybe they think that their children will be influenced. And I gotta say I was raised by two heterosexuals. I was surrounded by heterosexual, just everywhere I looked — heterosexuals. And they did not influence.... I mean I dabbled in high school, who didn't? Everyone dabbled, ya know?"
Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Hot Seat" by Janet Perlman

This is so random. I saw a banner ad in my Huffington Post daily brief that read...

"HOT SEAT," a short film by Janet Perlman

Powered by Liberty Mutual
I love the work of brilliant animatrix Janet Perlman (even if she is Canadian), so I had to check it out. I was treated to a sweet and whimsical hip-hoppin' animated short demonstrating the insidious, destructive, rippling effect of irresponsible buck-passing. Go have your own looksee now, at "Hot Seat." =)

Then I found out that an earlier Perlman short is part of this Responsibility Project collection as well! Check out her wonderful "Dinner for Two"!

Keep on hoppin on~

Monday, October 20, 2008

Watch-A-Thon count so far...

Here's the list of movies I've seen so far on my 2008 Watch-A-Thon run. For the purposes of the 'thon count, films at the Brattle count as one point, and films at other venues count as half a point.

1.0. BLOOD FREAK. Wed, 10/1 @the Brattle.

2.0. WILD PUSSYCAT. Wed, 10/1 @the Brattle.

2.5. FLOW. Thu, 10/2 @Kendall.

3.5. ROLLING THUNDER. Fri, 10/3 @the Brattle.

4.5. DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE. Fri, 10/3 @the Brattle.

5.5. SEX DEMONS. Fri, 10/3 @the Brattle.

6.5. LITTLE FUGITIVE. Sat, 10/4 @the Brattle.

7.0. EAGLE EYE. Sat, 10/4 @Somerville Davis.

8.0. TEENAGE HITCHHIKERS. Sat, 10/4 @the Brattle.

9.0. TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN. Sat, 10/4 @the Brattle.

10.0. PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

11.0. A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

11.5. APPALOOSA. Sun, 10/5 @Somerville Davis.

12.5. SWEET SUGAR. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

13.5. CHAINED HEAT. Sun, 10/5 @the Brattle.

14.0. RELIGULOUS. Mon, 10/6 @Kendall.

15.0. DARKER THAN AMBER. Tue, 10/7 @the Brattle.

16.0. TRUCK TURNER. Wed, 10/8 @the Brattle.

17.0. PSYCHO FROM TEXAS. Wed, 10/8 @the Brattle.

18.0. SNAKES. Wed, 10/8 @the Brattle.

19.0. RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP. Thu, 10/9 @the Brattle.

19.5. ALLAH MADE ME FUNNY. Thu, 10/9 @Kendall.

20.5. GOOD MORNING. Sat, 10/11 @the Brattle.

21.0. FLASH OF GENIUS. Mon, 10/13 @Kendall.

21.5. DAYS AND CLOUDS. Tue, 10/14 @Kendall.

22.0. CALL + RESPONSE. Wed, 10/15 @Kendall.

23.0. TWENTIETH CENTURY. Sat, 10/18 @the Brattle.

23.5. NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. Sat, 10/18 @Harvard Square.

24.5. TO BE OR NOT TO BE. Sun, 10/19 @the Brattle.

Keep on keepin on~

your favorite video games... IN CONCERT!

In its continuing efforts to show the world how artistic and culturally significant video games have become, Video Games Live will be performing its ground-breaking 2008 World Tour at the 3,600+ seat Wang Theatre at the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The event will take place on Friday, November 21st at 8PM.
Keep on beepin on~

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Watch-A-Thon flick 20.5: Ozu's GOOD MORNING

Desperate Housewives and Little Rascals in Japan =)
Japanese trailer | Brattle listing | subtitled clip

Caught this 1959 film by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu as part of the Brattle's "Elements Of Cinema" program on Saturday morning. It was a wonderful two-hour time out from my Druncle Sam madness. =)

The movie is a total joy to watch. We get to follow the apparently quiet lives of a handful of families in a small suburban neighborhood. The fun is in the simple details. The boys win each other's admiration by proving their prowess at farting on command. The mothers spend their free time gossiping molehills into mountains. The fathers work, or don't work, and stumble home (sometimes someone else's) after a few drinks. Into this clockwork world, a couple of tiny wrenches are thrown, and we are treated to the wonderful malfunctioning results.

One of the women has misplaced or misspent the community's housing dues, collected from all the families, prompting the biddiest (is that a word?) of them to wonder aloud about the timing of a neighbor's purchase of a new washing machine. Not an accusation, of course, just an observation... made repeatedly... to every other neighbor who will listen.

At the same time, a pushy traveling salesman hits the neighborhood house by house, shamelessly browbeating the stay-at-home mothers and wives into buying his mundane wares. Only a wry grandmother has the wisdom to send him on his way. The wisdom and the knife, that is.

Also, two young brothers (the younger is just irresistibly and seriously cute—see the trailer!), decide to go on a silent treatment strike. When they plead for their parents to get them a television set (like their hip young neighbors have), and only get argument and rejection in response, they end up charging their parents, and adults in general, with saying things that mean nothing. They waste energy on so many empty words that fill up the air and the time, like "How are you?" "Nice weather," and "Good morning!" In protest of adults' nonsense, they vow to keep silent, until their televisional demand is met. This little thing, of course, leads to all kinds of sweet fun. At school, they refuse to read their lessons, which gets them into trouble. In the neighborhood, they refuse to return greetings from the neighboring housewives, who of course think that their mother has poisoned the children's minds against them. Well, obviously! And their silence becomes a topic of perhaps the first real conversation that their tutor and their aunt have ever had.

The two boys have an English tutor that they see regularly. He and the boys' aunt appear to be crushing pretty hard on one another, but neither says or does anything about it. When she comes by to pick up the boys one evening, after they've begun their strike, they talk about the boys' stand against useless words and describe how the boys don't know yet why "we adults" need those words. As a social lubrication, to allow people to connect, to acknowledge what they think and feel without actually saying the words for them. I'm not quite putting it as well as they did in their dialogue, but it made perfect sense, in a what-you-imagine-about-Japanese-society-from-its-portrayal-in-movies way, as well as an upright and proper British way, too. Although, when you think about it a little bit more, you kind of realize it's a pretty universal phenomenon.

At the end of the film, the tutor and the aunt encounter each other at a train station. They greet one another and then stand side by side. Their conversation turns from greetings to the weather to the shapes of clouds, completely inane, and if they didn't so obviously have feelings for one another, pointless and boring. But because of their unspoken connection, their exchanges are so very expressive.

Visually, the film is like a crisp autumn day. Colors are bright in that mid-20th century like-the-world-just-invented-color film way. Wardrobes are a mixture of 60s modern and traditional. The "desperate housewives" are scandalized by the young "beatnik" couple, new to the neighborhood, who spend most of their time at home in their pajamas and enjoy dancing down the street while scattin' up their own jazz beat.

The life of the neighborhood is captured in some beautiful exterior shots down alleys and streets, creating these almost Scooby-Doo scenes of the denizens passing from left to right and back along different paths in planes of varying distance from the camera. Many of these shots appear multiple times, at first establishing the regular beat of daily life in the community, and then pointing up the ripples of change that travel through it later.

The framing and movement of characters thru these shots are so striking. I really had a sense of the entire neighborhood being a mechanical or wind-up animatronic model.

The music is a wonderful voice and character of its own. Almost cartoony in its influence on the experience.

Apparently, this is one of Ozu's, if not his only, foray into comedy. That makes me a bit sad, as it is so frickin enjoyable! Still, I look forward to hunting down more of his films and seeing what kind of magic he coaxes out of drama and melodrama.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dr. Uncle Sam's Evil League Of Evil audition...

Meet Druncle Sam! (ELE audition) from cabin boy.

For context (not that the above should surprise any of you as "how I spent my Saturday just cuz"), if you haven't already, watch the Evil Goodness that is DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-A-LONG BLOG, then check out the League's site for details on their talent search for evil.

I managed to cobble togther this application video in the eleventh hour. Literally. I am a frickin mess right now. Been working on this for way too long and not all that smartly. Sleep-deprived, caffeinated, dirty, and bleeding-gummed. Good times. I'm a bit concerned that Sam may not be considered purely evil enough, more like... chaotic neutral, y'know? I want to believe, tho, that the Thoroughbred of Sin will recognize the value of his powers and ambition, and also understand that while Druncle Sam may talk about doing good for "the people," his methods are very effectively and efficiently doing them evil.

Keep in mind one of Druncle's favorite battle cries: "This is for your own good!"


Thanks to my squared sister, Nerdcamp Jessie, Paris Jen, and brother-in-law for their encouragement and help, and Jean C for the righteous and serendipitous introduction of "druncle" to my vocabulary.

Click here to experience Druncle's story in song.

Frack. I wish I'd jumped on this sooner and with more time and resources. If you visit Vimeo, check out the videos tagged "Evil League Of Evil." There are some talented and dedicated evil-doers out there. =)

* Just found the "ELE Applications" album at Vimeo. Looks like Druncle Sam made the application deadline. The ELE notice said that October 11 was the last day to submit, but there was no mention of an cut-off time, a la midnight, and which time zone. So, I freaked a bit to get stuff in as close to midnight as possible. Blerg.

* October 13, 2008. Whoops. Just saw the description of that Vimeo album and it looks like a personal collection, not an official League collection. So no telling if the videos did or didn't make a midnight deadline. Nuts.

* October 14, 2008. Paranoid about having two submissions for the one drunken villain, I decisively decided to withdraw and privatize the Druncle Sam ELE application ballad, but re-posted it, tagged as an application video, as a sort of collateral piece, to be buffeted as the market forces see fit.

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Take on me" literal video

"Where the hell am I? What kind of hallway is this?!"

Thanks to Paris Jen for the pipe wrench fight. =)

Keep on takin' on~

Watch-A-Thon flicks 19 & 19.5: RIOT ON SUNSENT STRIP & ALLAH MADE ME FUNNY

Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica freak out!
trailer | Brattle listing | Alamo Drafthouse

This mixed up ripped-from-the-headlines tale of misunderstood youth is an amazing trip. In his intro to the flick, Lars explains that the creative talents involved in making this picture were grounded in older-school, prim and proper filmmaking. More HAPPY DAYS fare than WELCOME BACK, KOTTER... or at least, that's how I took it. These "square" talents decided to tackle the crazy lives and far out happenings of the youth of the 60s, producing a surreal mix of cartoony beatniks and lettermen looking to make the strip scene.

Regardless of how mixed up the kids are in any era, their oppressors are always the same, aren't they?—the adults. Apparently, in particular, the aging majority of the Sunset Strip chamber of commerce. They've got it in for the shiftless kids who have nothing better to do with their Friday and Saturday nights than jam up the streets and sidewalks in front of their antique shops and... umm... I don't know what else, actually.

Ubiquitous teenage health film narrator voice introduces us to four high school kids looking for a little weekend distraction. Three are regulars at Pandora's Box, a club on the strip. The fourth, Andrea, aka Andie, is a new addition, and hesitant to indulge in the excitement of the strip. At the Box, she's into the music, but says no to a spiked drink. When a fight breaks out, they hightail it out to avoid getting rounded up by the cops. They get nabbed anyway, tho, for being out past 10pm curfew. Down at the station house, we discover that Amy's reluctant to call her dad to pick her up. Why? Well, turns out that her dad is a police lieutenant, and as watch commander, has jurisdiction over the treatment of kids on the strip. He's got a good head and heart for it, playing the reasonable middleman and ref between the geezer businessmen and the kids hanging out on their sidewalks.

Oh, Pandora's Box features three pretty kickass young bands of the era. The Shandells, The Enemies, and the Chocolate Watchband. The Brattle invited the lead singer of the Watchband, David Aguilar, to join us for this screening, and before the show, Ned introduced Lars, who introduced David...
That's Aguilar in the center, flanked by Ned on the left and Lars Nilsen on the right. David did a pretty inspiring job of relating the music scene as it was back then, for him and his band, and ultimately brought the experiences of being in this perfect creative scenario with the Watchband, being asked to perform in this Hollywood film, and soon, after leaving music to move on and move forward... bringing all that together to point up the fact that yeah, it was a high point in his life, but a high point in his life at age 19, and that he's had many more high points, pinnacles, he called them, throughout his life. This movie IS a part of his good old days, but they're not the only good days he's had. It was a pretty decent and inspiring message to deliver, altho it crossed my mind that it might have been particularly for the benefit of friends and family in the audience.

It totally brought to mind my favorite (and honestly, only remembered) quote from M. BUTTERFLY... "There's no surer sign of failure in life than happiness in high school." =)

Oh, hey! Here's David Aguilar circa 1967, rockin on...
Wild, no? =) Anyhow, back to my run-on rambling story retelling...

Andie's resentful that her own father seems to want to take care of all these kids who should mean nothing to him, but has apparently disowned her, leaving her in the harrowing custody of her alcoholic mother. When her despair over her screwed up home life threatens to overwhelm her, for an escape, she agrees to hit the strip again with her new friends.

This visit to Pandora's Box goes a bit differently. There's the threat of another fight, but the kids manage to police themselves, and prevent a little tussle into turning into a full-on brawl. This time, tho, Andie and her friends hook up with a Hollywood punk and his entourage who invite them to her first freak-out. What, you might ask, is a freak-out? Turns out it's a home invasion that leads to an LSD-fueled rave. When Hollywood punk slips good girl Andie an acid mickey, it sends her on an wild artsy-strippery interpretive dance trip. Hollywood takes advantage of her state to, well, take advantage. And once he's done, four of his friends follow.

When the neighbors call the police on the freak-out party, Lieutenant Dad, as unofficial liaison to LA's youth, decides to answer the call himself with a few unis. Most of the partying kids scarper off, but the police detain Andie's girlfriend, who's still flying high, and discover Andie, coming down from her devastating and tortured trip. Dad briefly questions Andie and finds her to be full of bile where he's concerned, and hate for herself and her imposed loneliness. She pretty much blames him for her misery and apparently her multiple date rape.

Thanks to Andie's girlfriend's chattiness, the police quickly round up three of her attackers and bring them to the hospital for the victim to identify. Lt. Dad arrives at the hospital in time to overhear the punks griping and moaning about how ridiculous their being arrested is. "She's no better than any of the other girls..." That kind of he-man bullstuff, y'know? Well, pops can't take it anymore and levelheaded Watch Commander (rightly) loses his shit and beats down these snivelling date rapist Reggies. When his colleagues pull him off and talk him down, he finds that a reporter on the police beat has followed him and claims to be duty-bound to report everything, regardless of the circumstances. Lt. Dad is shocked by his own behavior, fearful of what he might have done if he'd had his gun (and I don't know why he didn't have it, actually). When Hollywood attempts to defend himself and his friends, with some crap along the lines of, "Hey, she wanted it," the police explain to him that it really doesn't matter, Andie's not old enough to consent. "Ever heard of jail bait?"

I gotta admit, that was a simple, but impressive detail to me. Totally and righteously sealed the jerks' fates. That, I like.

When an evening news report includes Lt. Dad's assault of the punks, the sunset strip irregulars rise up in protest, hitting the street to picket and march. When any other policeman would probably think self-preservation and stay behind his desk, Pops makes himself very visible on the strip, keeping an eye out for any troublemakers on either side of the protesting. He intercedes to hold back an overenthusiastic riot cop, winning himself some thanks from a leader of the "longhairs."

When he returns to the station after clearing the strip, he finds his daughter waiting for him. She'd seen his patrolling of the strip on the news and realized that she'd had him all wrong, explaining to him that she's feeling well enough now and ready to go home, home with Lt. Dad (screw the burdensome alcoholic gypsy mom).

Ubiquitous health film narrator returns to explain... The strip has been cleared of the willful youth, but where will they go next? That is the question. In the near future, half the people in the world will be under the age of twenty five, and all those young people will need a place to go... Where will it be? where will it be?

The end.

Y'know, this might be worthy of a decent remake. Maybe it could be scaled down to a smaller city and then moved into the present? FOOTLOOSE meets WALKING TALL? The freak-out could be a home invasion and mini-rave. Sensual-good-girl-gone-bad-gone-good-again Andie could be played by Scarlet Johanssen I think. And okay, here's the real reason I'd want to see this remade. Ray Aldo, who plays Lt. Dad, could be updated and replaced by THE SHIELD's Michael Chiklis! Man, I really would love to see him clobber those Joe College Nazi Fratboys who attacked his daughter. I mean, he'd rip off one of their arms and beat them all into bloddy pulps with it, y'know? Maybe just throw one out the window and into a spiney sculpture in the hospital courtyard.

Yeah, I have a pretty lame fantasy life, I know.

Anyhow, after the RIOTous experience, I finally got up the nerve to say "Thanks!" to Professor Lars Nilsen, who helped bring "Return To The Grindhouse" to the Brattle screen. I also bestowed upon him a WristStrong band, passing it several links up on the fame food chain.

If you're not familiar with Stephen Colbert's wrist and wrist violence awareness initiative, here are a couple of Colbert Report clips to fill you in...

In response to his becoming a victim of wrist violence in July 2007, Stephen Colbert launches his WristWatch campaign and the WristStrong bracelet...

"Awareness is like a virus, and celebrities are like Typhoid Marys..."

Stephen Colbert explains his "fame food chain" promotion strategy for raising wrist awareness...

"I can say that because I AM one!"
trailer | website

I raced over to the Kendall Square Cinema to catch the last Boston screening of this flick and enjoyed the last three quarters of it. It's mostly footage of the three comedians' stand up routines, which was very funny, but not as solid as I'd imagined. The off-stage documentary segments are not nearly as insightful or interesting as I'd hoped. Depth-wise, it felt like an HBO special, and frankly, given the concept of their show and this film, I feel like I was promised more than that.

Still, there were more than a couple of great laughs. The one that I'm thinking about now and still makes me chuckle...

You were caught doing 40 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone...

What? That's ridiculous, and this is racist! I am out of here!

*gunshots* Oh my god...

Umm... that probably doesn't read as funny as it sounds as part of his routine. =)

Also, it made for an interesting delayed complement to Bill Maher's RELIGULOUS on Monday night. Sort of an answer to Maher's impatience and bullheadedness with many of his Muslim interviewees. I wonder how he and these comedians would get along and humorously scat off of one another. My sister mentioned to me that RELIGULOUS, either in an excerpt, or by Maher himself in the movie, refers to ALLAH MADE ME FUNNY. Me, in my, frankly, impaired state, I can't recall that from either of my two screenings of RELIGULOUS.

I am done.

Oh wait, not quite. Thanks much to Amy H. for her kind on-the-spot Watch-A-Thon donation in response to my clunky solicitation. I want to hit people up live for support, but really, I'm just awful in person. I've been thinking of printing up my email and leaving it in places for random people, Brattle patrons, to pick up. Although, would anyone want to pick up a piece of paper with that much frickin ink on it?

Foo. Maybe I'll try that at the halfway mark.

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Watch-A-Thon flicks 16 to 18: TRUCK TURNER, PSYCHO FROM TEXAS, & SNAKES

It's pretty late and I'm pretty beat. A cumulative beat, from a week of pretty relentless moviegoing. I'm expecting to lose a lot of "free" time in the second half of the month, so I'm attempting to heavily frontload my Watch-A-Thon progress. Between that and the allure of the "Return To The Grindhouse" programming at the Brattle, well, I haven't gotten a ton of sleep of late.

So, I'm gonna try and knock off some poor excuses of synopses with random commentary for each of the three gems I caught tonight. Beware that I will not be guarding against spoilers in these write-ups, but frankly, if you're into seeing any of these flicks, story will likely not be the most compelling reason. =)

"Anyone ask you what happened, you tell 'em you got hit by a truck... Mac Truck Turner!"
trailer | Brattle listing
Isaac Hayes plays the unbeatable bounty hunter Truck Turner. He and his partner Jerry are assigned to bring in LAs premier pimp, Gator. When he proves more than a little uncooperative, taking shots at both of them, Turner has to put him down, creating a power vacuum that every other big pimp in town wants to fill. Nichelle "Lt. Uhura" Nichols, gives an amazing performance as Dorinda, Mama to Gator's stable of bitches. In a ploy to preserve her control and her piece of the action, she challenges the rival pimps to kill Turner, offering them the whole of Gator's stable and herself as madame. The most ambitious of the parade of pimps is Harvard Blue, cold-bloodedly played by Yaphet Kotto. He aims to work everything so that he's the last pimp standing, and over Turner's bullet-riddled corpse. Of course, Turner isn't gonna go quietly. He fends and kills off multiple assassins, and ultimately faces down Blue himself, in a reckless cat-and-mouse gunfight in a hospital!

The dialogue is brilliant. Here are a few probably inaccurate recollections...

Turner busts in on one of the pimps (who sports a diamond studded eye patch) in his mansion home...
Turner: A pimp and all these whores, but I'M the one who's getting fucked!

Turner is hours late to pick up his girlfriend, just released from 30 days in jail for thieving...
Annie: You could've at least brought me flowers!
Turner: I've got some beer...~

When Dorinda offers her stable reward to the council of pimps...
Pimp: Dorinda, you're trying to piss standing up... A lot of people are gonna get wet...

A couple of story turns and action set-ups are slyly ingenious. One happens when Gator's on the run from Truck and Jerry. He ducks into a bar and throws $50 at everyone there to shut down the two punks who are chasing him. The brawl is messy, but ends with Turner and partner walking out and their would-be attackers standing at the bar with their pants around their ankles. Another takes place in a department store, after Turner learns that there's a price on his head, which puts his kleptomaniac girlfriend in mortal danger. In order to keep her safe, he sets her to take a fall as a shoplifter in the store. Cruel to be kind. That's Truck Turner!

The soundtrack, by Isaac Hayes, kicks some funky ass. I will hafta track down some Isaac Hayes soundtrack action.

FARGO & NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN wrapped in hicks and country fried.
Brattle listing
John King III plays Wheeler, the titular lead, a professional killer who's hired by the town's good ol' boy, Steve, to kidnap and ransom William Philips, a rich old retiree. Steve teams Wheeler up with a local sidekick named Slick, and the two of them manage to spirit away Mr. Philips without too much trouble.

"Yesterday Was A Long Time Ago..." That's the first line of every verse of a sad and wistful theme song that plays during every one of Wheeler's flashbacks to his childhood trauma of spying on his whoring mom getting it on with some traveling salesman John. And he doesn't, like, briefly peek. He is like, standing in the open doorway, mouth agape, then twisting, then aghast, watching, and long enough that he's seeing his mom and the guy change positions! Of course, for his improper behavior, he is punished, beat down by his moms, and and hard. No slaps, or backhand, cuz we're talking knocked down to the ground, opening him up to repeated kicks to the stomach. Yesterday was a long time ago, but unfortunately for everyone Wheeler meets, it's neurotically fresh in his memory.

Yeah, so, Wheeler's got some problems with women. Seems like every one he meets reminds him of his mother, and apparently, all he wants to do when he meets his mother is strip her, abuse her, and usually, kill her. Yeah, he's got issues. But then, he's NOT the well-adjusted fellow from Texas, is he?

The plot really is kinda FARGO, with a live action Hank Hill playing the ransom victim, and the trappings really are kinda NO COUNTRY, y'know, if Chigurrh was played by Larry, of Larry, Daryl, and Daryl from NEWHART instead of Javier Bardem. And you sorta distribute Bardem's haircut over Wheeler and Steve's heads. It's amazingly nuts.

When Wheeler leaves Slick in charge of their prisoner, Mr. Philips manages to slip away while Slick catches some drunken Zs. Unfortunately for Mr. P, Slick snaps out of it in time to spot him running and then give chase across some Texas mudflat and marshland. And when I say chase, I mean, like, a ridiculous, 40-some minute chase. On foot. Mr. P, aged retiree, bobbing and weaving thru the woods and slogging thru sucking mud, with Slick mostly just twenty, maybe thirty, paces behind him. And when he closes on his quarry, crying, "I gotchore ass now!" he's downed by some natural obstacle, or Mr. Philips manages to pull a fast one, like whacking him with a branch, and regain his lead. This extended chase scenario is nonsensically intercut with the random drama unfolding back in town, with the local police piecing it all together and bringing Steve in for questioning at just about the end of the chase, which finds Mr. P giving a statement down at the precinct and Slick most likely feeding the fishes.

When Steve spots his ransom victim waiting for him at the police station, he panics. Getting his hands on a policeman's firearm, he runs for it, leading us on another tiring, but at least less distant chase. This time a police officer stalking Steve in an ice factory. There are minutes spent on each of them cautiously traversing the same ten feet of factory floor. Long story short, the chase ends badly for fancy lad Steve.

Wheeler, meanwhile, has been cooling his heels in a deserted roadside bar, tormenting the girl bartender by having her "dance" to jukebox tunes, and then re-enact his mother's trauma-inducing behavior with an unconscious customer. This goes on about ten minutes too long before Wheeler departs. The local sheriff happens upon him on the side of the road. Wheeler has pulled over to replace a tire, the very tire that this sheriff warned him to replace earlier. Oh, did I mention that Wheeler assaulted the daughter of this sheriff while delivering ransom instructions? No? Whoops.

Well, the sheriff seizes the opportunity to introduce Wheeler to, as one Brattle patron put it, "due process in the state of Texas." Wheeler's end is delivered by three shotgun blasts and comes free with flashbacks from childhood trauma to the last 24 hours of violent crime.

Gotta say, this flick is chock full of dedicated talent. Sure, Wheeler takes himself way too seriously, and his monologues stretch on, beginning as odd, pushes on thru funny, and runs into just plain unpleasant and uncomfortable territory. Still, for most of his screen time, he's damn entertaining to watch. And Slick! He kinda rules. I'm not sure he knew there were cameras on him. He was like Wilfred Brimley in HARD TARGET, y'know? Just happened to be there and basically played himself. And himself happened to be a squirrelly third-rate hick for hire with a lot of enthusiasm for whatever job you put to him.

Don't you dare come between Snakey Bender and his snakes... or his Sousa marches!
Brattle listing
That's Lars Nilsen, of Austin's notorious Alamo Drafthouse theater, introducing SNAKES. He helped program the "Return To The Grindhouse" series I've been hitting for the past week. He gets the credit and the blame. =)

Allright I'm fading now, so I'm gonna rattle off some stuff that might be more for my remembrance than anything resembling a review or summary.

Crotchety old dude, Jim Snakey Bender, is this John Philip Sousa march-loving guy who's squatting on his friend's ranchland, raising hundreds of snakes. Every Wednesday he comes into town to meet up with the local grade school kids, who trap small animals for him to feed to his snakes. The local minister, Brother Joy—played by some dude I recognized from an 80s sitcom postman role, ALICE, I think—frowns on this, telling Snakey that he is somehow corrupting the children into murdering God's creations. Snakey argues back that his snakes are also created by God. Joy hits him with some remark about how serpents are of the devil.


Wednesdays are special cuz it's the one day a week that Snakey spends with his one friend, Burt, the guy who owns the ranch. Together they hang out at Burt's place and listen to Sousa marches on his suped up hi-fi system. They LOVE Sousa together.

Wednesday are also special cuz after marching w Burt, Snakey, along with his pet, Lucifer, pay local teacher Cynthia a visit. Cynthia has a thing for snakes, y'see.

Over the course of the story, one-by-one, everyone he knows in town ends up crossing Snakey. Brother Joy preaches against his snakey ways. Miss Cynthia, blackmailed by the brother and sister proprieters of the town market (the sissy half of the siblings is someone I *know* I've seen play the female warden in something or other. SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, maybe?), persuades her students to stop feeding his snakes, and she herself puts an end to his and Lucifer's naughty nocturnal visitations. Even Burt turns on him. Disowning his Sousa enthusiasm when his new young wife moves in.

And, one by one, Snakey makes each of them pay, in almost exactly the same way. That is, he draws them out to the ranch, manufactures a scenario which results in their death by snake, and then disposes of their bodies, along with their cars, at the top of a precarious cliff somewhere on the ranch property. And he is consistent. I mean, at the end of it all, when you look at the base of that cliff, you see a stack of crushed cars, a collection of his victims. And at the end of it all, we find that the police have arrived at explanations for each victim's disappearance that suggest noting suspicious at all. Who'd've thunk that old man Snakey would turn out to be a perfect murderous mastermind?

Good for old Snakey!

Random, I remember from the credits that Burt's young wife is played by a woman named Janet Wood, who shares the name with Jack Tripper's roommate on THREE'S COMPANY.

Gotta give it up for a notable performance here. The guy what played Snakey is like the Ian McKellan of southern fried cinema. A frickin master, who actually manages to sell his mania for marches, and his... whatever-it-is that he feels when watching Miss Cynthia engage in her snakey congress.

There were two great Brokeback moments tonight, scenes where if you just dropped in the love theme from MOUNTAIN, you'd change the tone and expectations completely. In PSYCHO, when Wheeler first meets Slick, Slick sorta scoots in beside him at a corner both in a bar. They get to talkin, and during their friendly convo, Slick slides in closer. In SNAKES, there are a couple exchanges between Snakey and Burt, his march-loving partner. But in particular, there's the one where Burt drives out to the ranch to explain to him how they can't be together in that way any more. He's married now, and a young wife needs a lot of attention. Their special Wednesday nights are a thing of the past.

Sad, that. Even without the music.

Keep on keepin on~