March 31, 2004

Rock-n-Roll Animal by Lou Reed

Lou Reed Rock n Roll AnimalLou Reed looked other-worldly on the cover of this album, when I found it in a record store in Topeka, KS back around '74 when it was released. I was 14 years old and if I remember correctly this was the second album I ever bought (Black Sabbath's Vol. 4 was the first). I had seen a review of Rock n Roll Animal in Creem, and decided to give it a try. Rock n Roll itself was not clearly defined yet in my young mind, but oh, this album would have very far reaching implications toward my personal definition of rock n roll, continuing to this day.

A friend just burned me a copy of the new "remastered" version of Rock n Roll Animal. This newer version (circa 2000) contains two new songs of total inconsequence. I've listened to this CD several times and I can't tell you anything about the other two songs. Very unremarkable for sure. They may as well have left them off. However, given how many times I've listened to this record without those songs, it could be that my subconscious is just blocking them out.

Lou's album, and mostly Lou's band on this album, gave me my first extended taste of solo lead electric guitar the way it should be played, and was also the first live album I ever heard. This album is more guitar solos than anything else. Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, the axemen in Lou's band, contribute riffs and licks ad infinitum to this score.

Deducting the two "new" songs, there are only 5 tunes on this record. And all 5 are very memorable. You underground afficianados should realize, when I heard this album, I had not a clue about the Velvet Underground or the New York street scene. I was a kid from a small town in Kansas just trying to get an idea of what the real world was like beyond the wheat fields and cow pastures. I was hurting for some cutting edge culture and I found it in Lou Reed's performance.

I was fascinated with the cover, mainly with the images of Lou Reed. A man wearing makeup, black lipstick, and a studded choker? Wow. The music was the thing though. The intro to Sweet Jane, to my virginal ears, was hypnotic and mesmerizing. I heard this and sat and watched the record spin on the turntable utterly absorbed in the guitar lines. I played that album many many times and each listening was a trip into my own head. This was not background music, it absolutely commanded my full attention.

Heroin. I had heard lectures from narcotics agents visiting our school, informing that heroin was a nasty thing that we should not mess with. Lou's song transcribing his experience with the drug, gave me an idea why. The ebb and flow of the intensity in this masterpiece for the 13 minutes and 12 seconds it lasts, was exhausting. It expanded the limits of what I could deal with musically, and even emotionally.

"When the smack begins to flow.
Then I really don't care anymore.
About all you jim-jims in this town.
And everybody putting everybody else down.
And all the politicians making crazy sounds.
And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds."

These lyrics are featured on the album cover (there is no full lyric sheet). When I read them along with the song, I thought that maybe life could be interesting after all. Where I grew up, I was beginning to wonder.

The anthem Rock n Roll finishes the album and leaves you praising Elvis and Chuck Berry for inventing the artform. Unlike Heroin it's more of a good timin' dance number. A good concert finisher, beautiful guitar solos laden with phase shifters and wahwah pedals. This song is a story about the advent of rock n roll and how it saved the life of a young girl hearing it for the first time.

Even now, when I listen to this album it's like listening to it for the first time, and I am reminded of the meaning of rock n roll and why it is so goddamned important-----at least to me.

Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter are two of the best guitarists I've ever heard. I know that at some point Alice Cooper (geez) hired them along with bass player Prakash John for his band. I actually saw them on Alice's Greatest Hits tour -- they looked miserable. But after their stint with him I don't know what happened to them. Two greats who will not receive the recognition they deserve.

Strangely, I never bought another Lou Reed album. He went blonde on the cover of Sally Can't Dance, his next record. I guess I couldn't handle that.

Posted by Wayne at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2004

Sopranos/Deadwood

Lawrence Taylor and David Lee Roth both sitting in on Tony's high stakes poker game. These were the highlights of the Sopranos tonight. God Dave looks like shit. He's bleached that hair so much that he looks like Andy Warhol now. His agent must have worked overtime getting him that cameo.

So Loggia's character gets sent back to the slammer so soon? I'm willing to bet we haven't heard the last of him. Buscemi's guy is just barely hanging around. He played some cards tonight but didn't get into any action.

I'm not into AJ's teen angst. And the bit between him and his Mom has been done a lot. That was a very effective shot at the end though, when Carmella walks into the empty house.

Now Deadwood, that show is looking very interesting. As though Al Swearingen didn't look like a world class asshole last week, this week he orders the murder of a little girl. And Calamity Jane completely melts down when she meets him. She's starting to look like a piece o' work. Is she a frustrated lesbian? Or just an alcoholic? Or both? If I understood her correctly tonight she claimed to have had lots of sex, though she didn't use those terms.

Someday the hardware guy who used to be a sheriff in Montana is going to throw down with Al, and Wild Bill Hickock will be backing him up. We'll probably never see it on this show, but it will happen.

It's kind of hard to put your finger on why Deadwood is so compelling and effective. It might all be Ian McShane as Al, but I like how it is shot too. Yes I will continue to look forward to Deadwood. Oz crossed my mind tonight while I was watching this show. Part of the interest in the prison drama was created by the fact that they killed somebody off virtually every week. Deadwood could do the same. And there are certain guys whom you hope will get it, like the Sopranos.

I got a feeling the Doc in Deadwood is going to be involved in many outcomes.

Posted by Wayne at 01:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2004

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Griet is really beautiful. This is the obvious truth that is never once spoken by the men who lust for her in this story. Silence is used so effectively in Girl with a Pearl Earring. This is a beautiful film. Griet is a housemaid in a really dysfunctional house. The painter Johannes Vermeer is basically under house arrest to his mother-in-law who sells his paintings. The paintings are still famous today, over 400 years after he painted them, so he must've been good. This setting is 1665 Holland.

I don't usually go for period pieces that look like half the budget went for costume deployment. But they tend to stretch out to 2.5 hours or more. Earring is an artfully sparse 95 minutes. And I think since they didn't overdo the setting, this made the visuals all the more powerful for me.

Johannes sees Griet's (Scarlet Johannsen) plump lips and he is smitten, as is the patron, Van Riesen -- Tom Wilkinson's character -- the guy who buys Johannes' paintings. I guess that's how they did it in those days. Each rich guy had his own painter.

Apparently Johannes is supporting his wife and wife's mom, and paying for the help. But the old lady runs things.

Like I said they use silence very effectively. So much is not spoken but obvious. Griet has a guy her own age who likes her too -- a fellow commoner -- the son of the butcher who sells meat to her house. She gets all this attention and never shows her hair.

Griet has her self-respect, but she reminds you of Cinderella, the way she's at the bottom of the food chain in this bizarre house. She rarely speaks, but there really is no need. She says everything with her eyes. I didn't quite figure out why she was indentured this way, but I think it was because her father was blinded and she had to earn money to help her parents.

She winds up getting into one of the master's paintings, and this sends the house into a scandalous uproar. I haven't said shit about Johannes' wife. She's the biggest piece o' work in the story.

But this is a great little arthouse drama. We saw it at the Madstone tonight, the Burque's sparsely attended artplex.

Posted by Wayne at 01:08 AM | Comments (1)

March 26, 2004

American Splendor

"Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff."





This is the tagline, the synopsis, the thesis, and could serve as the review of the movie American Splendor. American Splendor is so not allegory (see take on Pleasantville). This is reality -- so real you can hardly take it sometimes. If two people can somehow find joy in their own despair, Harvey and Joyce Pekar do.

What you get here is just the facts ma'am. Harvey's common life is somehow made excellent and wonderful just through stark portrayal, first in the comic books, and now in this brilliant movie. Any movie that can leave you with the feeling this one did, utilizing this subject matter, has to be brilliant. Harvey is so unbelievably believable as the file clerk in the basement of the hospital with the equally neurotic wife who found him through his comic books that you absolutely have no choice but to totally love him, not in spite of his shortcomings, but purely because of them. He shows very few longcomings so the former is all you've got to work with.

Harvey is obviously a genius in his own way. But the genius of simplicity is sometimes the greatest genius of all. How much genius does it take to simply lay your life down in comic book panels, word for word, exactly how it happens, no edits?

Maybe it doesn't take genius so much as balls.

Goethe said that boldness has genius in it so maybe one doesn't go without the other.

Harvey Pekar reminds me of Bukowski. Charles didn't exactly indulge in superhero fantasies himself -- he pretty much stuck to the script as he saw it happen outside (and inside) his window. Sticking to real life effectively, is the essence of brilliance.

The way this film blends realities is amazing. The fictional portrayal of Harvey is narrated by Harvey himself, and then from time to time you go into the studio where he is laying down the voice tracks. There you also might see real life versions of the characters in the story being told.

Toby's existence is some kind of anomaly. I cannot believe that there is a person on this earth who really acts like that. It says a lot for Harvey's condition that he would attract somebody so totally weird into his reality.

Now I need to find Crumb so my wife can watch it. I guess I'd like to see it again myself now. Before seeing American Splendor my interest in reseeing Crumb was tepid at best. Robert Crumb's story is weirder than Harvey's, but more on the perverse side, so as to leave you disturbed. Harvey's got a good heart. I saw Crumb is available on Movielink.

Harvey, his wife and daughter all have weblogs on his page. However, they don't update often.

Posted by Wayne at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004

Movielink

Downloading movies for a price -- at one time or another this was the latest Next-Big-Thing. The general experience needs to evolve before it becomes a regular thing for me. I've tried downloading with several films. The quality is not good, and the normal price is too high.

I've used the Movielink website for downloadable films. As it is I will only do business with them when they throw a half price sale. For two bucks, I'll download a movie to watch. But not for $4-5, which is the usual price for many of the films on that site. This new model will work eventually, they just need to understand the pricing thing. I won't pay 99 cents for an mp3 song because of the deficient quality, and such is the case here. Computers have not yet matured as an entertainment-delivery system.

For $4 I can go rent a DVD that will have much better quality, plus some extras with the film. However, I only get 3 to 5 days with the disk. When I "rent" a movie from Movielink, I get 30 days to watch it. But once I start, I've only got 24 hours to finish watching it. I don't know who came up with this formula -- it's a little weird. I think they could let us watch it to our heart's content for the 30 day period. This would make it worth the $5. But the 24 hour limitation on the actual viewing window is a little tedious. I'm afraid to start watching the film because something might get in the way of me finishing it within a day.

My attention is limited on a laptop computer. A computer-bound movie works alright for something light and short like American Pie, but I can't consider trying to watch a three hour monster like Gangs of New York this way.

American Pie was my first experience with purchasing and watching a movie download. I tried it while I was laid up for a few days last summer. Not knowing how the viewing would go, I decided that something completely void of depth and meaning, yet potentially funny and/or entertaining, would make a good first cyberflick. What movie better fits this criteria?

I watched it on the desktop computer, and I knew that would be a first and last about 10 minutes in. I just don't want to sit in my office and stare at that computer for 90 minutes. Since then, I've done several films on the laptop, and I can handle that up to a point. The laptop movie could definitely work well for filling the time on an airplane, in a car, or on the train.

Movielink needs to come up with a means of downloading onto one computer and transferring the file to another machine to watch. As it is you have to download the film onto the box you are going to watch it on. At 500 to 600 meg downloads, even with broadband, this is problematic on a lapper. (Oh, if you don't have cable or DSL, forget trying movielink.)

I do appreciate the access to some older films. That's where they should focus. I don't think many would want to download a new release because of the quality issues, but they might get interested in something like Last Tango in Paris, or The Days of Wine and Roses -- two movies that are available at Movielink. The old classics aren't as easy to find on disk or tape or TV.

Movielink is running one of their 50% off sales through today, offering certain movies at half price. Most have been out for at least a couple of years, if not 30 or 40 or more in some cases. Having seen the first Pie this way, I decided that $1.50 to watch American Pie 2 made too much sense. The first one had its redeeming qualities, if intelligence wasn't one of them. Watching it, I chuckled but didn't feel like a lech regarding the girls in the movie, like I did watching Porky's. I want to see American Wedding but feel morally and ethically obligated to watch AP2 first.

And, I picked off a DL of the Bertolucci classic. I have been wanting to rewatch that one. There is some sort of classic irony to watching that film on a computer. At 2:18 it will be a challenge, but another advantage to movielink as with all online gigs: The film is right there, if you want to watch it you don't have to go chase it down. Immediate gratification.

So at some two points over the next 30 days I'll have a take on one of those two flickies. I'm gonna need a new category.

Posted by Wayne at 06:30 PM | Comments (4)

March 24, 2004

Pleasantville on TNT

True allegory is really hard to find in movies these days. Even attempts at allegory are hard to find, anymore. I suppose all fictional stories are allegory to some degree, but blatant attempts at allegory are rare.

Pleasantville takes a real good shot at allegory. Using good actors like Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon and especially William H. Macy, Joan Allen and Jeff Daniels really helps the symbol-story get told.

The fantasy here is Tobey and his teenage sister Reese get sucked into an old black & white TV series. Pleasantville the town/TV show is the absolute ultimate in a vacuous and antiseptic conservative conformity. The books have no print. There has never been a fire. No basketball player ever misses a shot or loses a game. Everybody is a virgin. That is, all are chaste until Reese comes along.

Tobey and Reese accidentally bring a little color into this black & white world. What starts to happen to this perfect community you could liken to Star Trek when space itself starts to come apart.

At first when the kids arrive, even though the male had been a big fan of the TV show, neither of them can tolerate the sacharine nature of all the people and the insane sameness of each day. As they start to influence things, beginning with Reese knocking over the captain of the basketball team, they start to like it better. They are not comfortable without their shadows.

Tobey's Mom, via the guidance of Reese, discovers the wonders of masturbation and starts a fire in the tree outside the window.

The basic point of this cute little flick is that we need the qualities of lust, meanness, the dark side of life, in order to be happy. When the black and white characters start to find their color, they become interesting; discovering talents for painting and music. Naturally, the folks who resist their color the most, start to hate and persecute the ones who accept it, resulting in violence, something else they had never experienced before.

I managed to watch this even with all the unnecessary intermissions built in to accomodate advertising. Something else you get with cable movies is advertising during the action, down at the bottom of the screen. Capitalist republics do have their down side.

Posted by Wayne at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2004

The Commitments






Andrew Strong, a.k.a. Deco, he of the ugly face and the dynamic voice who leads song for The Commitments, was just 16 years old when the movie was filmed. This is according to the documentary that comes on the DVD. If you've seen the Irish flick, you just freaked out, unless you knew that already. He sounds like 16 going on 40 belting out the rhythm & blues numbers in the film.

This is my impression after my 5th viewing. Especially regarding older films, I never know whether to write for those who have seen a movie, or for those who haven't, so I tend to blend it. I'll review the premise and the achievement, and speak familiarly for those who know what happens. No spoilers though.

I have seen The Commitments 5 times, so you would probably assume that I like this movie. And yes, I do. I love it in fact. The story is both funny and dramatic, as are stories of fledgeling bands coming together. However, the music really carries the film, and this is what makes the multiple viewings very enjoyable. You can dance to this movie if you want to, with songs like Mustang Sally and Midnight Hour. The story isn't strong enough to hold the film up for two hours, but the humor and the soul keep you listening if not watching.

The Commitments set out to save Ireland by bringing Soul to the people. This is their mission as brought to them by the apparent messenger of God and trumpet player Joey Fagen. If you haven't seen it, do you need to know any more than that?

Imelda Quirke, one of the backup singers, really really helps with the watchable aspect of the film. The director utilized her legs to the fullest.

When I first saw this movie at the Lobo Theater over on Central Ave. when it was released back in 1991, I did not know what the UK term "shite" referred to. After learning the meaning of this term, subsequent viewings have greatly increased my understanding of the plot. I think "shite" the second most common word in the script. The most common word begins with an F.

The ending, as Joey "The Lips" puts it to Jimmy, makes this story poetry rather than predictable tripe. This is a timeless tale. I'll probably watch it 5 more times in coming years.

Just a week or so ago, a "collector's edition" DVD of The Commitments was released. Alas, I have the regular old version they released last year. That's okay, as much as I love The Commitments, I don't think it is worth 4 hours of documentary.

View movie trailer

Posted by Wayne at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2004

A Mighty Wind

I think both Jane Lynch and Parker Posey are hot.

I wrote this already earlier this evening, but it was mercilessly destroyed by an error in the communication with the MySQL server. That's okay because that take on A Mighty Wind wasn't that good.

I love what Christopher Guest & Friends do. Their approach is quite unique in moviedom, from what I can see. For the uninitiated, or if you have seen the films, for perhaps the uninformed, the dialog is all improvised. They actually script the events pretty tightly, but don't write the dialog, letting the actors fake it. That's why the interview footage is all stilted like documentary interviews. And the potential for spontaneous comedy is unlimited. Waiting for Guffman, done by C Guest and the usual group, is truly an all-time great comedy and will get coverage here as soon as I watch it again.

I started this blog just recently, but I've always wanted to write about movies. So, I will now be writing about movies that I have seen more than twice, since I didn't write about them after the first viewing. Surely the multiple experiences with the film give one a more intimate relationship with it, and should provide additional insights. I've seen this one 3 times now.

A Mighty Wind isn't as good as Guffman, but it is funny and it is well worth the time to watch. A sendup of 60's folk music groups, the groups who looked like a Sunday School class, all wearing cute little uniforms and bright happy smiles, like Up With People. Groups like The Kingston Trio and The New Christy Minstrels (whatever happened to The Old Christy Minstrels?).

A truly great accomplishment within this film is the group of songs they wrote. One got nominated for an Oscar. I've considered getting the soundtrack. Guest, Shearer, Levy, McKean et al really captured that hyperharmonized choirish sound amazingly well with the songs and the producton. And the words are hilarious, but only if you listen closely.

Christopher Guest's comedy is like that. If you listen closely you'll catch all the hilarious little lines that can get by you if you're not careful.

Fred Willard is precious in AMW. He takes goofiness to yet another level here. "Hey wha- happened?"

Eugene Levy as the fried freak is brilliant. But what kept cracking me up the most was The New Main Street Singers, complete with six guitars and the nine of the goofiest grins in history. I have fantasies about Parker's pigtails.

Posted by Wayne at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

Deadwood

Deadwood, HBO's new show about a lawless town in the old west looks like yet another winner for the pay network. Several frontier story lines closely braided together form the setting. The dominating character in this show is obviously the saloon and brothel owner Al Swearingen, who the producers claim was a real guy. They may have turned up the BMF component with him until it's off the scale. He's an asshole, but he's not a lovable asshole like Tony Soprano. He doesn't show any of the vulnerabilities of the mafia boss. Al's just out for money, lots of money, any way he can get it. He beats up his hookers and then they come to his bed the next day. You know, one of those kind of guys.

Any story with Wild Bill Hickock in it is bound to have some action. And he brings his tang to the tale, but the real central character might be the former Montana sheriff who has come to Deadwood to start a hardware business. Unlike most of the rest of the cast, he appears to have a conscience. And since Deadwood has no sheriff because it has no law because it has no hierarcy of government above it, the story might take his character in that direction (I'm sorry the name escapes me).

Calamity Jane, the Hickock groupie, made her presence known but so far she's just a trigger-happy woman, and no man would dare come within 10 yards of her. Strong women were the order of the day but not in the gunslinger sense. She was about 150 years ahead of her time. They did manage to show a motherly side of her when a young child is rescued.

This show will have gratuitous sex, violence and debauchery. But the first episode indicates very strong characters. Indeed, this dramatization appears to be character-driven rather then story-driven.

And I will be checking back in each week. It comes after the Sopranos so I won't be able to miss it.

Posted by Wayne at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004

Eric McFadden Trio


The Eric McFadden Trio

Eric McFadden | James Whiton | Paulo Baldi

Nice band. Very nice band. The Launchpad hosted them last night. EMT's sound is their own for sure, hard rock on a standup bass and acoustic guitar. The first time Eric and James played together -- twas about 10 years ago -- they helped provide musical support for a poetry performance I did, called Nightwalks. To fill out the synchronicity we ran into 5 poets whom I used to associate with during that era of hippiedom and [starving] artist lifestyles. Poetry & Beer, the local travelling poetry gathering had just happened at Golden West, the saloon next door.

The "slam" thing kind of ran me off from that "scene."

Eric played with his old mentor, Stan Hirsch before the show.


We had photo ops with our old friend James after the gig.

I think I like a photo essay once in a while, and Movable Type's photo functions are very nice, but uploading each pic one at a time gets a little tedious. I must see if there is an adjunct script somewhere to handle batch loads.

This blog has gotten about 50 hits today from google searches on "dennis miller"+"eric alterman". I was hitting at about #12 but when I last checked it was in the 20's.

Posted by Wayne at 02:53 PM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2004

Kingdom Hospital ep 3

Other than The Sopranos, I've chosen some quirky TV shows to write about on my "movie" blog.

Kingdom Hospital is so bizarre overall, especially for a network TV show, that I will have to watch it. And I never watch network TV. However like Denny's show, I might not comment on it anymore because I don't know what to say about it, other than it is weird, and that it is too damn dark. We're always trying to figure out what's going on because the picture is so shadowy. There's nothing wrong with the TV because we don't experience this with other shows.

Ghosts are starting to come out, as are the skeletons in Dr. Stegman's closet. And the special ed kids know everything that's going on. And I liked the cameo appearance by one of Steve's novels. That was cute.

I think the only purpose of this post is to push the one previous down the page. Maybe I'll just delete them both.

Posted by Wayne at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

Dennis Miller 3.17.04

Last night Dennis Miller was interviewing super-liberal media critic Eric Alterman --- well I guess you could call it an interview. Alterman was acting a bit sodden and was not terribly responsive to Dennis, leaning back in his chair with a long dark face. So, Dennis started mocking him.

Now, I'm a DM fan but I am the first to admit that he's got a long way to go as an interviewer. As primarily a standup comic in the past, he's just not used to not being the center of attention. A good interviewer will step aside and let the subject express himself.

Alterman didn't help the situation here. To me, he obviously had an "attitude" toward the now-reformed and conservative Dennis, and Dennis didn't like it. I can speak from my own experience as to how some hyperlefties really take it personal when you cross the aisle, and maybe Eric has this attitude toward Mr. Miller.

Dennis, just kept mocking Alterman and let him make his anti-Bush speech, then then quickly broke off to a commercial. Miller, after a few minutes of dealing with the guy, obviously wanted to move on as soon as possible.

All in all it was simply a strange thing to watch. This morning I wanted to see if Alterman had anything to say about it, so I found his blog on msnbc.com, where he didn't have an entry for today, but after the taping had updated his entry from yesterday announcing the gig, exhorting his followers to watch the show saying that "Dennis Miller is really weird."

I really have to sympathize with Mr. Alterman on this point, based on what I saw, but I think there was something else going on there. Even so, Dennis might have a hard time getting liberal guests in the future.

To extend the story, the very next guest was a liberal guy who wrote a book about poor people in America. But, Dennis seemed to be walking on eggs with him, knowing that he kind of fucked up with Alterman. This makes me wonder if the show might be on short leash. I'm reading elsewhere that the ratings are bad. I might not be commenting on this show again.

UPDATE: Here's Alterman's full take on his experience.

Posted by Wayne at 07:14 PM | Comments (4)

March 16, 2004

The Legend of Boggy Creek

Swamp scenes and swamp music, in the form of crickets and frogs and the myriad other sounds that emanate from wilderness bogs around Fouke, Arkansas fill the first two minutes of this film. Nothing else. The camera moves slowly following snakes in the water, insects in the air, and the setting sun between the trees. You see the visual art and you hear the music of nature. In a theater, this was very affecting, and does an excellent job of creating the creepy backwoods ambience of the film. This shows how much a film often loses when it transits from celluloid projected onto a big screen in a dark theater, to a disk you play on a TV in your well-lit living room.

When I was 12 years old, I went by myself to see The Legend of Boggy Creek in the theater in my hometown. The Temple Theater has been closed now for many years, but I'll always remember that night seeing this film.

It scared the crap out of me.

I'm usually not one, even when I was that young, to get honestly frightened by a movie. However, the supernatural aspect combined with the supposed reality of it really got to me. I didn't sleep well for a while after seeing Boggy Creek.

The story of the southern Arkansas version of Bigfoot is timeless. A friend just found the DVD of this film a few months ago, and I am fascinated by it. It really is an artfully done film -- artful in its low-budget crudeness. It blurs the line between dramatization and documentary to the point of non-existence.

Charles Pierce, the man who did the film, is from Fouke, and has firsthand experience with the Fouke Monster. He claims in the film to have been 7 years old "the first time I heard him scream."

Alleged actual audio of the creature's bone-chilling howl is used in this film. And if you hear it, it will give you goosebumps.

Pierce should be in the hall of fame of filmmakers. In dramatizing the encounters with the hairy beast-freak, he apparently had the actual people who lived the experience play themselves wherever he could. There were a few actors he used, but for the most part the real people reenacted their experiences, hence the blur of the line. And I think this is what gives it the timeless quality, and its visceral effect.

The film was released in 1972, and at first glance the production is decidedly cheesy. It has the grainy/fuzzy quality of 60's era instructional films. However, the storyteller's relationship with the story far transcends any budget deficiencies, or acting inexperience. It doesn't scare me like it did, but it sure makes me remember how scared I was when I saw it the first time over 30 years ago.

I appreciate the effect of how you never get a good look at the creature. He/she is always an undefined hairy black mass back among the trees. You usually have to look really hard to tell anything is there. I'm sure this is much like the actual sightings.

There is one shot that is absolutely brilliant. It's a scene where a teenage girl is looking out a window into the woods around her house, the camera is shooting over her shoulder and you can see an outline of a black hulk coming out of the trees towards her with the moon in the background.

It looks so good the girl faints from fright.

Some art snobs might start watching this film and in the first 10 minutes decide that it is just too primitive to take seriously. And if they are from either coast they might think the people too primitive to take seriously too. That's unfortunate because if they could get past their initial judgements they might have a memorable movie experience. And they might not. I'm sure my first time with the Boggy Creek Freak has had its lasting effects.

Posted by Wayne at 07:42 PM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2004

Airline on A&E

A REAL reality show.

I'm seeing now that there are (at least) two classifications of reality show. There are contrived reality shows, built on the Survivor model, like Mad Mad House, the SciFi show that I've taken to watching. And, there are what I will call real reality shows, which record actual reality. An example of this second genre is Airline on A&E. A better name for this second type is, of course, documentary.

Airline follows Southwest Airlines employees and documents what they go through with the passengers. I don't know if Southwest underwrites the show or not, but it definitely illustrates how they will bend way over backwards to accomodate passengers. And it shows even better some of the complete retard shithead losers that try to get on airplanes, and sometimes succeed.

The show is willing to document some screwups by the airline; lost luggage, equipment breakdowns, even a jerk ticket-taker once. But mostly the employees appear saintly in their patience and determination to help the passengers.

One of the more bizarre stories was tonight where they showed a woman putting on a full face of makeup and changing her clothes, right in the terminal, with the help of another passenger whom she'd never met before, all in anticipation of the arrival of her mother. She was so involved in getting ready that she missed the arrival and had to freak out all over the airport trying to find her. Mom turned up in the baggage area sitting in a wheel chair that she didn't need.

In showing how far the SWA people will go, a show I saw a while back had a fellow who was the subject of complaints in the waiting area about his body odor. The woman from SWA who helped him sent him into the bathroom to wash, found him some different clothes to wear, and ultimately managed to get him on the plane with his smell at a tolerable level. The guy did not get upset, he was just embarrassed.

I think all the shows I've seen so far have had at least one incidence of passengers getting too drunk and either not being allowed on the plane, or getting kicked off once boarded. The first show I saw a few weeks ago had a guy get trashed in the LAX airport bar at seven o'clock in the morning, and they wouldn't let him on the flight to Kansas City. If he is from Missouri then I would expect that behavior.

Posted by Wayne at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

The Sopranos 3.14.04

Steve Buscemi made his Sopranos debut tonight, to relatively light fanfare. He hasn't even whacked anybody yet, and it appears that he won't. He's going straight? He wants to be a massage therapist? Come on. We thought he was going to be the newest Death Machine in Tony's gang. Steve's character is funny though. And I'm sure it will be expanded well beyond a linen delivery guy.

Ah poor Adriana. What will happen to her? When the women's movie club turned into a wine drinking club, and Ade starts crying, and Carmella says, "C'mon you can tell us anything." How ironic, the one thing she can't tell them... You know she's gonna get whacked, but God what a shame that will be. I wonder if ratting on her maid of honor will actually be what undoes her.

Looks like Junior is getting Alzheimer's.

Even though we're into the fifth season, Little Steven's Silvio still looks forced, making him little more than an Italian caricature. Steve should have stuck to his guitar, but I love him for giving it all he's got on that show. Actually, no member of the E Street Band can do wrong.

Meadow is looking better this year.

Overall though the season is kicking right into gear. The introduction of the new characters is a stroke of genius -- it's really adding a lot of side interest and preventing Tony and Carm's divorce from being the total focal point of the story. If that's all their was at this point it would be way too much of a soap opera.

Last season when they started off with the Columbus Day horseshit, it took about 5 episodes to get things moving. I'm glad they wised up.

Can't wait till next week!

Posted by Wayne at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2004

The Triplets of Belleville

Seeing this film made me think of comments I heard a number of years ago from writer and director David Mamet. He was talking about the fundamental differences between live plays and films (he began as a playwrite). His claim at the time was that plays, ideally, even if heard on the radio should still be understood; whereas movies all actually strive to be silents. That is, a story visually told with a minimum of dialog. This animation, The Triplets of Belleville, carries precious little dialog, and that's a very good thing for me since the movie is French. However, it's a really cool story told visually. There is a very catchy song that recurs during the course of the film, and that song was nominated for an Oscar this year.

If you watched the Oscars, you've seen little clips from this movie. Besides the song nomination Triplets was also nominated for best animated feature, losing out to Finding Nemo. I didn't see Nemo but I do wish this import would've won the Oscar. I really enjoyed its quirkiness.

The story is rather hard to describe with written words such that it would make sense. But there's a Grandma, and a Grandson who becomes a bicycle racer entered in the Tour de France, but who gets kidnapped during the race by the French Mafia. Grandma and their dog Bruno set out to find him, and they go across the ocean to a city named Belleville which appears to be an amalgam of Paris and New York. There they encounter the Triplets, who are now aging but were once stage singers. (The Oscar-nominated song is their specialty.) They like to eat frogs, and you might find this aspect a little, well, gross.

I wondered, regarding the frogs, if the Triplets' eating of them wasn't somehow symbolic....what with French people being known as frogs and all.

This cartoon (and I mean no insult -- to me anything animated is a cartoon) is like no other that I've seen. Bruno is really the best character and he is the pivotal role too, because he is the one who sniffs out the location of the Grandson. Bruno can smell him on a passing ship as it leaves the harbor in France.

Triplets is fun like an animated film should be, but the non-dialog fully-visual aspect I found just a tiny bit problematic. With no words to keep my ears involved I found myself falling asleep in places where my interest was actually keen to know what was going on. I am a verbal rather than visual person I guess, either that or ADD. I've always suspected the latter.

This guy has a good take, pretty similar to mine, just written better. That's quite a title graphic too.

Posted by Wayne at 05:40 PM | Comments (3)

AirDance ArtSpace

Down south in Albuquerque's valley there is a converted church. The church got converted into a black box theater, and the building is now named the AirDance ArtSpace. They raised the ceiling, oh, 'bout a hundred feet, so that Debra can do her trapeze work, which she calls airdance.

You could do about any kind of performance there. There's plenty of room. There are classrooms upstairs and down, in addition to the performance area. They remodeled the heck out of it, laying tile all over the place and knocking out walls and replacing toilets. It's all very cool and they really worked hard recreating the elderly house of worship into an ultramodern performance space and studio.

We attended an open house, or, as they are known now, a "soft opening" on Jan. 31. A good time was had by all. The Buddha Betties played and they are pretty cool too.

Debra and Jeff run the place. Call them if you want to attend one of the classes. Check out the list on their website.

Posted by Wayne at 12:35 AM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2004

Mad Mad House #2

Avacado said, "Whoever wins that prize, is going to come out of this house transformed, on a soul level."

God these Alts are bit full of themselves aren't they?

Art, the Modern PrimitiveThank god Kellie is gone. What a drama queen. I gotta think the other contestants are glad for that. They probably bribed Art to pick her ---- I can't remember right now who the other Alt was that voted for her. Was it the Veg?

I loved her little tirade, going down in flames like that. It was right in character for her.

This is my first reality show. I think I know how it felt to be the last guy to hear about oral sex.

The problem with the show as I see it, is they were too concerned with the conservatism of the contestants. So many are strong Christians so they won't participate in the alternative ceremonies that it takes away from the show. Tonight I thought the redneck guy Tom might get it. He has the weirdest hair.

I can't wait to see all these people bury each other next week.

I forgot to mention that the last person in the house gets $100,000.

Posted by Wayne at 01:02 AM | Comments (4)

March 11, 2004

Dennis Miller 3.10.04

Dennis Miller is back from his short hiatus with his new studio audience. He seems to appreciate the audience but is still getting used to the format of the show. His jokes do not always evoke sudden torrents of laughter and he is frustrated by this, rereading the jokes and getting the fake guffaws. Even paid audiences aren't perfect I guess.

Last night I watched with interest because Gene Simmons, he of the long tongue and KISS fame, was on Dennis' varsity panel. He seems to be pretty conservative -- he and Dennis were having a good time bagging on John Kerry for sending a team to Iraq. Gene does look pretty craggy these days. I guess the makeup makes plastic surgery superfluous. On the panel was also Star Parker, a black conservative writer. I'm glad Dennis has her on just to prove that there is such a thing.

The monkey is gone, replaced apparently by a small cactus in a pot.

It will take a while for Dennis to reconcile comedy with political discussion. But, I think he will eventually wrestle this beast to the ground.

Posted by Wayne at 11:30 AM | Comments (3)

Kingdom Hospital ep 2

The second episode of Stephen King's new TV thing was better than the first I thought. They should've done just one hour for that opener. The commercial breaks were shorter this time.

Tonight I remember laughing out load three times. I always appreciated the sense of humor Steve showed in his books, back about 20 years ago when I read them.

The a-hole doctor, Dr. Stegman (i think), Bruce Davison's stoically bitter and arrogant head neurosurgeon, swung his weight around more in this show. We're sure to find out he has a drinking problem. Or some better type of closet skeleton.

Only one of the developmentally disabled (I have no interest in being too non-PC here) kids showed up in this episode, as a waiter no less. The supernatural aspect is starting to take over, but it is doing so in two totally different areas. The artist who got all fucked up in the accident is recovering miraculously but does this have something to do with the hospital weirdness or is it something else? The guy who hit him took a header off his roof, came in to the hospital and I guess he died? (Payback from anteaters is a bitch.) I think there's something else going on there.

I like seeing Ed Begley, Jr. more or less reprising his role from St. Elsewhere. It's like he finally got his shit together and ultimately became head administrator.

Posted by Wayne at 01:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Phone Booth

Pay phones ring sometimes.

Have you ever walked by a pay phone that was ringing? Did you answer it? Probably not. I never answer a ringing pay phone. But, Stu (Colin Farrell), who is in the last real phone booth (you know, the old kind, a glass rectangular box with the double hinged door, the kind Superman changes in) in New York City, does answer the phone in this film, and man, does he regret it.

This is, shall we say, a really intense flick. The tension is think and it never lets up once Stu answers that phone. You see, on the other end of the line is a guy with a rifle, a high tech high powered rifle, and he's looking at Stu. And the sniper tells Stu that if he hangs up, he will shoot him.

Well, Stu has a hell of time staying on the line, but he does.

What really makes this film, texture-wise, is the voice of Keifer Sutherland. He's the sniper. And he does a great job of keeping Stu very afraid for his life.

What makes the film, story-wise, is the way the sniper forces Stu to confront himself -- his own dishonesty, with himself and with those around him. If I describe this further it would definitely be a spoiler.

You will be glad that this film is only about 75 minutes long not counting the credits, because you wouldn't be able to stand it much longer. It's crazy because the cops who wind up surrounding the phone booth think that Stu is the gunman. They think Stu's cell phone is a gun.

This is one of the simplest stories you will ever see in a feature length film, yet it's very powerful. And it all happens on 8th St. in New York City. No other locations were used for more than a few seconds.

Colin Farrell impresses more every time I see him.

Posted by Wayne at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2004

Mad Mad House on SciFi

Reality shows are not my cup of chai. I have never been interested in them in the past. However, I saw a promo for a new reality series on the SciFi Channel, and it looked so bizarre that I had to check it out. Through general media discussion of these shows I understand that their basic premise is that you start with a group and through a succession of votes, somebody gets rejected every week until there is only one person left, who is the winner.

Mad Mad House follows this format, but of course it has its gimmick.

I have not been a follower of reality shows, but I think the premise's explosive popularity is very interesting. And, if you think about it, the reality format of getting together a bunch of common joes allows for an absolutely endless number of variations on the theme.

Mad Mad House proves that.

Basically, 10 pretty ordinary people are put in a house with 5 FREAKS. We are talking SUPER FREAKS here people. You see one of these folks and you want to turn and run the other way: A Witch, A Vampire, A Voodoo Priestess, a Modern Primitive, and last but not least, Avocado, the Naturalist.

The Modern Primitive, has nearly his entire body tattooed, and has piercings that are very disarming.

The Witch (Wiccan) and the Voodoo Priestess aren't that bad. They are actually quite positive in their approach. All the "Alts," as they are called, actually profess positive intentions. Even the vampire claims that he drinks blood as a means of expanding his consciousness.

I found this show really fun to watch, because of the way these Bible-reading folks responded to the Alts. Most of the contestants professed to be Christian. So, naturally they wouldn't participate in the voodoo ceremony.

The contestants really aren't that diverse. They could've found some better characters there, but I think they were going for people who are as normal as possible because the Alts are so abnormal. That's where the contrast is here.

I'm afraid I'm interested, if not hooked, on this series and will be checking it out again this week. I don't know if I'll comment or if my interest will last. We'll see. The show airs on the SciFi Channel 58 on Albuquerque Comcast Cable at 7pm MST.

I wasn't surprised when Hamin was voted out. He would've been my second choice. Noel is who I thought would get it. Oh by the way, it's the Alts who do the voting; not the contestants.

Posted by Wayne at 02:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2004

The Sopranos

MobTV is back!

This first Sopranos episode I thought was very effective, if not real exciting. Tony and the gang really laid the groundwork for the season. Robert Loggia's new character got out of the slammer, and Tony's cousin, Steve Buscemi's new role, gets out next week.

I think it's really fun the way the writers use animals to symbolize things that are going on in Tony's life. Now we have a bear showing up in the backyard -- the backyard of the house where he used to live. T and Carmella are apparently divorced now, so it's only Carm and AJ living in the house.

What can this bear mean? Previously, we had ducks taking over the swimming pool, and Tony loved them. Then Tony bought an interest in a racehorse, which Ralphie offed for the insurance, which wound up getting him killed by Tony. (Remember when they took that wig off the head of the corpse? Hilarious.)

So will Tony develop a feeling of kinship with this bear like he did the other animals? In the last scene tonight, Tony sent his henchman home and decided to watch for the animal himself. The bear, according to certain new age divination symbolism, represents the inner self -- because bears hibernate all winter they are supposed to indicate going within yourself to find your truth.

I have no idea if David Chase and the writers use the Medicine Cards, but if they do it means that Tony is going to search his soul this season. He's tried to actually get into Melfi to go out with him now, and she has turned him back, even though she has dreams about riding his cock. He got away with kissing her, so we know what will happen eventually.

I think they did a great job with this season's first chapter. We are eager to see what unfolds this season. Will Tony and his cousin get along? Carm and T seem pretty well split up, so will Carmela find a dude? When will Melfi's panties finally drop? Are Chrissie and Paulie really made up or will they continue with their childish squabbles? When will Adriana get whacked? What problems will Loggia's character cause? But all of that is inconsequential compared to the big question: what will happen with Tony? And better yet, why do we care so much?

We'll get the answer to the former if not the latter, for which we'll have to find our own bears.

Posted by Wayne at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

Catch Me if You Can

Leonardo Di Caprio as one of history's great con men. I already thought he was a con man for getting that part in Titanic.

Frank Abagnale Jr. is the con man's name and he's doing really well for himself now according to the info at the end of the film. He's even friends with the guy who caught him, Hanks' character, the FBI guy.

Catch Me if You Can is really compelling and Leo does a great job of playing the kid. I know this movie didn't tear things up at the box office or with the critics, at least not that I heard, but I think it's exceptional. LDC carries the film on his back with suitable help from Tom. The acting is good but this is one of those stories that is so far out, while also being true, that you really can't turn away once you start watching it. You can't help but be fascinated with this kid's success in conning people, and wonder just how far is he going to be able to take it.

He took it to France where Hanks finally catches him, and where Frank languishes in jail waiting for extradition. His exploits as airline pilot, doctor and lawyer challenge the imagination. How could those people who hired him been so stupid? Maybe he was just smart. Humans were still trusting at that point in time I guess.

I should mention Christopher Walken's role as Frank's father. Very well done Chris. I don't know what Hollywood would do without you.

I give this film a definite recommendation. If you get HBO, check it out.

Posted by Wayne at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004

Bill Maher

Bill Maher's Friday night politics party on HBO is a regular stop for me on the television train. I like Bill. I don't always like his takes, but I appreciate the objectivity he is willing to demonstrate. He is pretty objective for a guy who obviously leans left. He's fair and balanced with his guests too, like Dennis Miller as I described a couple of days ago. Bill's panels will have at least one conservative. Last night's show had Stephen Moore, the head of Club for Growth. That's the gang who did the ad skewering Howard Dean that showed in Iowa before their caucuses. The ad was hilarious.

He's also had Heather Wilson on his show twice. She's the Republican Congresswoman from right here in Albuquerque. Once on the panel, and once Friday following her upset in a committee hearing over Janet Jackson's boob slippage. Which i never saw, Heather's fit that is, I've got Janet on tape. :-)

I don't like it when Bill makes fun of middle and southern America. Sometimes those entertainer-types out in California forget how many millions they alienate when they do things like Bill's "Kobe Teeth" character, making fun of rural patriots, people like many of my family members.

Maher makes no secret of the fact that he dislikes Bush, but will still call a spade a spade. A couple of weeks ago the issue came up of jobs going overseas, and he pointed out that in New Delhi, the people there can add, unlike the people here, because of our deficient educational system. He then went on the relate bad American schools to the fact that we can't fire a bad teacher, because the teachers' unions own democrat politicians. He is willing to be objective and even expresses approval of some of what Da Prez has done, I just can't remember offhand what that is.

I'll comment on his future shows if so inspired. By the way, Bill has a blog.

Posted by Wayne at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

Photos

Testing the Movable Type photoblogging functions. These are pictures from a bar in Old Mesilla, near Las Cruces, NM.

Posted by Wayne at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

Sex and the City

Twelve days have passed since Sex and the City celebrated their final episode, the series passing on to that great Manhattan pickup bar in the sky. The quartet of honeys are no longer hooking up for lunch and sharing all that cock talk and relationship joys and frustration.

I thought it was pretty weird how Petrovsky immediately changed completely from a very charming older man to a completely self-centered asshole, just because of one plane flight across the atlantic.

It might seem passé by now to discuss this series, but since I saw all episodes in recent years, I feel that I should leave a couple of cents worth of opinion on this blog. I started Wayne's Movie Blog a week after Sex in the City quit.

I totally empathized with Carrie's Paris plight though. How deflating must it be to sit down at a table with three other people and all of a sudden they're all speaking in a language that you don't know. One could feel very isolated in a place where one doesn't know the language.

I never liked Big though, and I never understood why she did. But he ends up a hero.

That was one major stretch for that finale. No 48-year-old guy who rides around in the back of limosines all the time is going to go so gaga over a chick that he'll fly to Paris to do a blind search --- and then sell his house in Napa to move back to New York, just for her skinny butt. Call me a cynic, but this show is in New York for chrissakes.

Charlotte will likely get her own vehicle, based on comments made during their little party show that led into the final episode.

I don't like Samantha.

Miranda was always my favorite. She seemed the most down to earth. I like lady lawyers -- they can take care of themselves.

Carrie was just a ditz if you ask me. Why would she freak out on a great guy like Aidan, and let him go? He even gave her a ring, which I don't think Big ever did.

To be completely truthful, I never really liked Sex and the City. I always thought the chicks' attitudes toward relationships to be a bit sophomoric. But, I always watched the show because of the potential for skin, and I'm used to watching HBO on Sunday nights. All their cool series run on Sunday nights. And even their uncool series like Curb Your Enthusiasm run on Sundays. I'm not nearly Jewish enough to appreciate that show.

The Sopranos return this Sunday! Life will again be good.

I was so glad to see Sex and the City finally end. They've been mourning that death since the beginning of the season. And I'm not glad just because I'm not crazy about the show. I love The Sopranos but I'll be glad when that show ultimately breathes its last. Nothing lasts forever; everything (especially TV shows) runs its course. Last season I thought maybe Tony & Co. were pushing their luck. We'll see how this season goes.

Posted by Wayne at 01:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

Club Rhythm & Blues

Luther the soundman, an old freind and associate, invited me and my wife Lucy to the grand re-opening of Club Rhythm & Blues, a nightclub here in Albuquerque. The event was last night, and featured free champagne, munchies, and good music from the Blues Kings.

We've attended several gigs at the CRB in recent years, usually to see the Eric McFadden Trio. It's a nice little venue -- emphasis on the word "little." The place will hold a couple of hundred if everybody stands just right. But the size is nice. The proper word is probably "intimate" rather than "little."

We had a really good time, though we didn't get a piece of the cake. I would've liked a piece of the cake. The hors d'oeuvres were good: tiny pizzas, shrimp, chicken skewers, the usual cheese and crackers.

We look forward to seeing what's going to happen there now. The place has been closed for several months, though we've never heard why. Probably just a lack of bottom line. They have some strange drinks on their drink menu. One is a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. I read the ingredients and I wouldn't taste one let alone buy one.

If you're in Isotope City, and need a good blues fix, come on down. CRB is located at Central and Carlisle in the Nob Hill district.

Posted by Wayne at 02:41 PM | Comments (1)

March 04, 2004

Dennis Miller on CNBC

Dennis Miller, in case you missed it, turned Republican on 9/11. He loves George W. Bush and hates terrorists. It's more likely that you missed hearing about his new show.

Since leaving his weekly show on HBO, and failing to become a credible NFL commentator, he has found his way onto his own daily show on CNBC. His new endeavor incorporates some of his political humor along with presumably serious news interviewing and such. I can't not mention Monkey Mo, Dennis' sidekick, who can be seen swinging in front of Dennis on a rope sometimes as Dennis is delivering his quips. Dennis doesn't seem altogether comfortable with Mo, but some relationships take time to develop.

I love Dennis Miller, before and since he turned conservative. If you know anything about me you know why I feel a kinship with him in this regard. However, for all I know Dennis the businessman, in light of the fact that most comedians, entertainers, and artists are leftwingers; recognized a huge niche market that wasn't being served, and decided to start saying some of the things he thought conservatives might like to hear.

He tries to be balanced with his guests, having both David Horowitz and Naomi Wolf at different times (god she's a shrill bitch) on his "varsity panel." This is where he tries to be moderator (he's got a long way to go there) to three hopefully diverse perspectives.

I enjoy his little thing called "What would Dennis Kucinich do?" Dennis has taken Dennis as his personal whipping boy.

This show is not good -- yet. DM's attempts at conservative comedy could definitely benefit from an appreciative audience, which the show hasn't had up to now. I understand that after the current 10 day hiatus of the show, it will come back with just that on March 9.

I'm very willing to give Dennis a chance to get used to this daily thing so I will continue to check in. Try it out. Even if you are a radical liberal you'll get at least a chuckle or two.

I borrowed some from this take.

Posted by Wayne at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2004

Kingdom Hospital

Stephen King's new TV show was a disappointment tonight. The show was too long, too dark, and too involved with his accident of a few years ago. It's natural for a writer to use his personal experience, but in this case it was just too subjective.

He shouldn't have done a two hour premier. The story just can't hold it up. There were some obvious instances of drawing things out to fill time, especially the bit where the head neurosurgeon took 10 minutes to enter the parking lot and park his car, to the surrealistically nonsensical jeers of the group of hoodlums across the street. That segment made no sense at all, other than to show that this doctor is a self-centered jerk.

Kingdom Hospital is a case where the premise is interesting but the story sucks. Kingdom Hospital is built on the location of an infamous factory fire many years previous, where many children died. Yeah, the kiddies aren't at rest and are starting to come back and wreak proverbial havoc.

Another big problem we had with the show was that all the shots are so dark. Hospitals are not dark, they are well lit and actually too bright for my eyes most of the time. And there are no real good characters in this show. Dr. Hook (gotta love the name Steve, but...) is the closest thing to a person whom the audience can relate to. Everybody else is just a freak. The use of the two special ed kids who seem to know everything that is going on is different. We'll see if that develops.

If we watch it again we will have to use the VCR. I rarely watch network TV beyond sports events, and tonight reminded me why. The commercial breaks were so long I actually started timing them, and discovered that the breaks were lasting a full five minutes, three times an hour. By the time the commercials were over we had lost interest. Watching this took too much effort.

Thank God for HBO. I appreciate it so much more after a network experience.

Posted by Wayne at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

Matewan

Coal miners in 1920's West Virginia fight for the their dignity and the right to unionize. Matewan is the name of the town in West Virginia where all the shit hits the fan. This is a fictional story, but carries the ring of truth.

Matewan was released in 1987. My wife Lucy is from West Virginia and remembered this film as being really good. We couldn't find a DVD at the main chain video rental places, but we did manage to locate a tape at Alphaville, the arthouse geek video rental store in town. It's down in Nob Hill, and since Matewan was directed by John Sayles, they are morally obligated to maintain a copy.

From net research, it sounds like the DVD isn't much better than the tape, so it was no big deal stepping back to the older format.

Matewan is a stunningly affecting film. Sayles captured the essence of that mining town and what the miners had to deal with. I am no socialist and I believe that the unions in this day and age have acquired way too much power, and that this helps to hasten the end of our republic. However, seeing from the Matewan coal miners' perspective, I understand even better how unions got their start, and why some people will never trust businesses to do the right thing.

Chris Cooper stars as the union man sent in from New York to help the miners organize, and he does his typically stoic and intense job of playing his character. Cooper now is getting to be like Nicholson; he gets his parts and then just goes and plays himself. This film came out much earlier in his career, long before he started getting Oscar nominations every year.

The battle lines are very clear in this film, and given the actions of the mining company, and the nastiness of the goons they send in to find the agitators, you have no problem siding with the miners.

Sayles did one very interesting thing with the script. Later in the film there is an incident where some company-sponsored "peace keepers" come in to the miners camp. They start showing off their guns and talking shit to the women while the men are at work. But then, some hillbillies come up out of the woods, with guns of their own, and chase off the suited strong armers. He who appears to be the patriarch of the mountain men, in response to an assertion that "these people are breaking the law," says that, "out here there is only nature's law." A bit of extreme libertarianism in the middle of a decidedly socialist commentary. Sayles surely knew what he was doing there.

If you can find a copy, which at least regarding rentals won't be easy, do watch it as soon as you can. The cheapest I could find a copy for sale on Amazon or half.com was $15, and that for a VHS. DVD's were over $20.

Posted by Wayne at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

Daredevil

Ben Affleck as blind superhero. I have seen stranger things. Jennifer Garner as superhero girlfriend who is almost as tough as the superhero. That's alright, but I've always thought her looks to be very overrated.

This superhero story does break some of the rules for superhero stories. For one, the superhero actually kills people, on purpose, who he doesn't like. Second, he gets laid. And another odd thing about this comic book tale, is the heroine, Garner a.k.a "Electra," .....oops. I shouldn't give that away. That kind of disclosure is known as a "spoiler" and I don't want to do spoilers on this blog.

Anyway, Daredevil is not the greatest movie I've ever seen, and I wound up seeing it a sum total of probably 3 times, if you take the cumulative of all the short and long fragments I caught accidentally on HBO, along with the time I did actually watch it through.

The movie isn't bad either. Colin Farrell as the nemesis Bullseye, is pretty cool.

These comic book movies always seem to have a villain that is much more interesting than the hero, and Daredevil is no exception. Affleck as The Man, is much like the various guys who played Batman, stoic behind his cowl, not showing much of any personality beyond a grim determination to get the bad guys. Ben is pretty wooden, which would explain why he can take a punch so well.

I think its run on HBO is done, and I would suggest that there are better movies to rent.

Posted by Wayne at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

The Saint

Disguise is the thing in this flick. Val Kilmer reprises the role that broke out Roger Moore back in the 60's on the television show of the same name. Val and Roger played a free agent spy who comes up with all manner of disguises and steals shit for fees in the lower 7 figures. He's real slick, and his gimmick is that he always uses an alias that is the name of a Catholic saint.

The background for this is given at the beginning of the movie, which didn't come out in the TV show. When The Saint (Simon Templar is the name he claims) was an orphan in a Catholic home, he was given the name of a saint, which he did not like. He escaped. Then we jump to the present so we don't know how he got so damn good at stealing shit and disguising himself. When he was a kid he did pick a couple of locks in the orphanage. I should mention that his disguises aren't that amazing. Kilmer makes a good gay German though.

Elisabeth Shue is in this too. She's cute, and I liked her in Leaving Las Vegas. She's not a street hooker in The Saint though; she's a brilliant scientist who has discovered real cold fusion. Well, Val seduces her for the formula which she keeps on scratch paper in her bra (how cliche can we get here?). Some Russian billionaire who wants to take over and reassemble Russia wants to buy the formula. He wants to use the cold fusion thing to gain the allegiance of the Russian people since there's a major heating oil shortage and they're all freezing their asses off and the current prez there ain't cuttin' it.

The Saint is your basic action fair, with the above described gimmicks thrown in. There's nothing terribly remarkable here. They gave Roger a cameo at the end but you only hear him on the radio; he doesn't make a visual appearance. I used to watch the TV show when I was a kid but I don't remember it. I'm sure I'll forget this movie pretty soon too.

Posted by Wayne at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

Grand Canyon

Meaning-of-life movies can be a real mixed bag. What the meaning of life is to someone, a director like Lawrence Kasdan for example, can be completely unique to that person. When a movie director/producer decides to explore the meaning of life, this can cost a movie viewer both money and time, in exchange for, not their own fulfillment, but the observation of the other's fulfillment, which might not be very fulfilling.

However, this movie is pretty good.

Grand Canyon was released in 1991, making it about 13 years old. I found the DVD at Best Buy for $5.99. Helluvadeal. I'd never seen the movie but had heard that it was a "feel good" film -- one that endeavors to uplift and inspire, and that it was pretty succesful towards those ends.

I wasn't crazy about this film, but you have to know that I am very hard to please when it comes to meaning of life shit. The movie is enjoyable to watch, featuring an excellent ensemble of actors, including Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, and I really appreciated Steve Martin's movie producer role.

I wondered if Kasdan wasn't trying to emulate Robert Altman, because you had several different story lines braiding themselves around each other, with each character participating in 2 or 3 of the storylines. This approach keeps things interesting, with the focus always moving around among different dramas.

The story is a little too complicated to try and describe here in any detail. Suffice it to say that it happens in L.A. and a disparate group of individuals begin unlikely chance interactions, and wind up helping each other to understand.....The Meaning Of Life. That's all you really need to know. Check it out if you get the chance.

Posted by Wayne at 01:35 AM | Comments (0)

Matthew Lesko

Matthew Lesko is certainly the biggest freak you're going to see on late night cable TV. That whacked out suit with all the question marks on it is enough to lock down this guy as a bona fide nut bag. The problem with this determination is that he very likely makes a great deal of money off his scams. His on-screen manner is perfectly abominable. I don't know how anybody takes him seriously.

I wonder though, if there isn't some kind of cult following out there who think that Matthew is cool. I could see some really weak personalities perhaps getting infected with his nutty enthusiasm, and think that he's doing wonderful things.

I did a google on >"matthew lesko" blog< and got some interesting results. More than two blogs in the Washington, DC area reported seeing him on the street. It seems that he not only wears that wacky suit, but he wears it all the time, including to dinner and shows. And he drives a Mini Coupe that is painted with all the question marks on it. Why the question marks? Shouldn't he use dollar signs?

Anyway, this guy is a dickweed for pimping the welfare state. That's the joke I guess. By promoting welfare programs, he gets rich. For those who are dumb enough to pay $40 for one of his books, they deserve what they get. Go onto Amazon.com and look up one of his items, then read the reader reviews. I confess that I was actually interested in buying one of his government grant books, until I did this.

If I ran into Lesko, I wouldn't berate him like the guy I linked to above. I would start a conversation with him though. Even as freaky as he acts on TV, he might be fun to talk to. And you can't blame him for finding a really good legal racket and working it...can you...?

Posted by Wayne at 01:32 AM | Comments (0)

Iron Jawed Angels

Suffering for suffrage is the basic theme of this film, an HBO production. Iron Jawed Angels was a hell of a history lesson for me. I had no idea what the women of Woodrow Wilson's time went through, just to get the privilege of picking which liar and/or thief would represent them in government.

Hilary Swank is my favorite actress on the scene right now, based on just this film and Boys Don't Cry, for which she got an Oscar a few years ago. She really is brilliant, and obviously isn't in it just for the glitz and the glamour.

The rest of the women in this historical dramatization, including Angelica Huston and Frances O'Connor, do an excellent job as well. From what I remember from the credits, I don't think there were too many men involved in this production, and that is how it should be. Women should tell this incredible story.

These women were spit on, harrassed, beaten, illegally jailed, force fed when they tried to go on a hunger strike, and some died in the quest for social equality. The film shows that no one gets freedom and justice handed to them on a silver platter. You don't experience those things unless you fight for and earn them.

Too, this film helped to show me that unity, regarding any group effort, is highly overrated. There was much infighting and conflict within the women's suffrage movement, but since they were all focused on the same prize, ultimately they won out. And it took a small miracle (if there is such a thing) at the end to put them over the top on the vote to ratify the 19th Amendment.

The movie might remind you of some debates going on currently, because these women were told by some that they needed to leave it up to the individual states to give women the vote. But, they didn't buy that. They fought and fought and struggled and fought some more to get that Constitutional Amendment, and once passed it settled the issue for everybody.

See this film if you haven't already. It will show on HBO a few more times this month.

Posted by Wayne at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

City of Ghosts

Cambodia is the setting for City of Ghosts, Matt Dillon's first attempt at directing a film. Dillon shot the entire movie on location in the southeast Asian country.

The story, which Matt stars in and cowrote, is vague, but what makes the film interesting is the way it was shot. The majority of City of Ghosts takes place in Phnom Penh, which looks to be a very spooky place for any visitor. And why anybody would visit there is anybody's guess, but the obvious shadowy, deceptive nature of the city is captured quite well.

Gerard Depardieu has a role in this film as does James Caan. So Matt was able to bring in a couple of heavy hitters to add some interest. Depardieu's part is that of a derelict saloon owner who apparently knocked up a local girl some years ago. His character is one of those guys who seems trivial to the story at the outset, yet in the end, you realize that the whole tale dances around him.

Caan is Daddy Scam to Matt's character, who just barely escapes the U.S. law to come overseas and ask Caan what the hell is going on. Well Caan intends to take the $10M or so that he's made off the insurance scam that Matt was working in the States, and invest it in a hotel/resort/casino in Cambodia. Wouldn't you love to take a trip to Cambodia? It's certainly first on my list of dream vacation locations. Anyway, the plot convolutes and vagaries amplify after the hotel goes down the tubes and Caan covers his tracks so he can disappear into the Killing Fields countryside.

City of Ghosts is not a great film, but it is very interesting, even hypnotic at times. If you're an arthouse geek, you should likely check it out. Dillon has real potential as a director. The overall ambience of the film is memorable, and I will be interested to see what he comes up with in the future.

Posted by Wayne at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

Movable Type

Learning how to work with Movable Type was one of my primary reasons for starting this weblog. Now that I have the thing up and running I think I can give a review on it.

If you have some experience working with and implementing perl scripts (you need no experience writing them) you shouldn't have too much trouble with MT.

It's a pretty intuitive interface. Updating the style sheets and templates is a little tedious; however, if you've got experience doing that manually, you could update and upload the style sheet the old-fashioned way and perhaps save some time waiting for the files to rebuild via the cgi.

Working with a style sheet that you didn't write can be a ticket to the funny farm, but the basic SS and weblog template that MT comes with aren't that hard to figure out. If you want to just introduce your own template you will need to get familiar with the MT tags, but they are pretty self-explanatory too.

Compared to blogger, which I have used up to now on my other blogs, this has more features and isn't prone to blow up on you like a remote third party service can do. Everything is contained locally.

I really like the category feature. It gives your blog some structure by helping narrow the focus a bit. And I like the prospect of managing multiple blogs.

I started working with it Saturday, and had it running by Sunday night. Barring a couple of self-created obstacles -- I did not RTFM well enough -- I could have had it running in an hour or two. Yes, my son, RTFM; RTFM.

Posted by Wayne at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

Brave Combo

Saturday night, since we couldn't afford tickets to Neil Young, we decided that $12 for Brave Combo at the Sunshine Theater in downtown Albuquerque was a good enough deal to take a chance on. We're glad we took the chance.

Brave Combo is aptly named. Any band (or combo) that would attempt to do a polka version of The Doors' People are Strange is certainly brave, if not downright insane. They did a hard rock verson of the Hokey Pokey too.

As you might imagine, given those examples from Brave Combo's repertoire, the crowd was both eclectic and erratic. They were older people -- some of whom were obviously really into polka itself -- but dangerous. The old lady dancing in her chair back by the bar is likely to kick you right in the shin as you go past, and not give a rat's ass about it. Some of these people were so determined to express themselves through bodily movement, that you had to watch out for them constantly if you were hanging on the dance floor, which we decided not to do after a few songs.

Back to the band: Odd. Seasoned. Wonderful.

During their first set they did some kind of Greek Polka that was wild. They will be appearing on The Simpsons, on March 14. According to the singer guy, they will be appearing at some fair that Homer goes to with Bart. Just watch for a polka band in the background.

They really nead a tuba.

But if you get a chance to see them, do so. I guarentee you a very good time if you're willing drop inhibition and follow your body into danceful demonstration. Don't worry if your mind doesn't get the music at first, it will catch up to your body at some point when it realizes that there's no reason to care about understanding.

Please note their web address: http://www.brave.com/bo

Posted by Wayne at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

The Oscars

Oscar night would seem to be an appropriate time to start a movie blog. I've always wanted to write a blog focused on the movies that I see.

This year's Oscar proceedings were certainly dominated by the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, batting a perfect 11 for 11 in all their nominated categories.

Lucy, my wife, was overjoyed. We were glad to see the Academy give Peter Jackson the recognition he richly deserves. He was of course being recognized for the entire trilogy of films, and for advancing the art of filmmaking in general. Hollywood just won't make movies the same way again after LOTR. I saw the cast commenting before the ceremony tonight and Sean Astin spoke of completion and how all the characters come to a satisfying end in ROTK and that's why we keep going back again and again to see it. My wife and I have seen LOTR:ROTK now three times, and I'm sure we'll see it at least one more time before it finally fades from the local cineplexes.

Yeah there's really nothing else to write about on Oscar night 2004. Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's masterwork is arguably the grandest of all cinematic achievements. We were worried when the Best Director award came up, what with the mighty and highly esteemed Clint Eastwood nominated, but Jackson prevailed.

Last year was a great one for films. Seabiscuit was really special, as was Mystic River -- both films were brilliantly done. I would've liked to have seen William H. Macy get a nomination for his role in Seabiscuit, it really was a great part but I guess it didn't help to drive the story enough. I knew Sean Penn would win best actor, but as good as Mystic River is, I thought he overplayed his part. I'm sure a dad has a right to freak out pretty bad if he finds out his daughter has been killed, but still... Tim Robbins earned his award for best supporting actor.

I want to see that french animation that was up for a couple of awards. It looks pretty cool. I too need to see City of God and 21 Grams.

I had no idea that Jamie Lee Curtis is married to Christopher Guest. I really liked A Mighty Wind too. But I don't think that gang will ever approach again what they accomplished in Waiting for Guffman. I loved Eugene Levy and the woman whose name escapes me performing "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow." That was really cute.

My favorite part of the whole telecast was during the beginning montage when Michael Moore got stepped on by the Oliphant from Return of the King.

Posted by Wayne at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)