Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Batman: Arkham Asylum
The Fan Film

Apparently this has been around for a couple months, but this is the first I've heard of it. This is a fan-made, three minute tribute to Batman: Arkham Asylum, a gritty graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean that was released back in 1989. In an interesting twist, this film is actually in Spanish. (Fear not, gentle Norte Americanos, the creator has indeed supplied subtitles.) Filmmaker Miguel Mesas does an excellent job recreating the ethereal mood of the book; his Batman is perhaps the most haunting ever put on film or video. Stylistically, his visuals recall Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone. Don't take my word for it. Watch it now!

Michelangelo Antonioni: 1912-2007

Yesterday, I was saddened at the loss of Ingmar Bergman. Today, when I read of the passage of Michelangelo Antonioni - I was pissed. Not because I preferred him over Bergman - I'd say that I hold them in equal esteem - but because they both died within hours of each other. While I'm sure plenty of people had heard of Ingmar Bergman without ever actually watching one of his films, I'm fairly certain that your average person - or even self-proclaimed movie buff - has never even heard of Michelangelo Antonioni, despite the considerable honors and accolades he received in his lifetime.

As with my entry on Bergman yesterday, I'll let IMDB handle the obituary in a moment. I would just like to speak to one aspect of Antonioni's visual style.... To him, everything was character, most notably settings. Frequently, in his shot compositions he would seemingly spend just as much time making sure that a building or a tree was given just the right amount of prominence. While some critics complained that this distracted from the performances of his actors or substituted for a threadbare plot, the truth of the matter lies in the fact that his films acknowledged a totality of existence; human beings are not simply surrounded by things, they coexist in a sometimes uneasy world.

I'm hard-pressed to choose a favorite Antonioni film. My gut response is to name L'Avventura, the 1960 piece that starts out as a missing person mystery and transforms into an existentialist romance. This is the movie that put Antonioni on the map, and along with his following two films - La Notte (The Night) and L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) - form his "trilogy of emotional alienation". That's a shot from the film just above.

My second choice would likely be the much maligned Zabriskie Point. This movie should be considered one of the great accomplishments of late-'60's anti-establishment/ radical/"hippy" cinema as it follows a young couple from their LA lives - he's a student, she's a secretary - to the remote regions of Death Valley (that's Antonioni on location above) and ultimately culminates in an orchestra of explosions of corporate products. (In this last bit, the film can be viewed as a precursor to Fight Club.) Oh, and much of the score is composed and performed by this little band called Pink Floyd. No, I'd never heard of him either.

For the details, I turn now to my co-anchor, I-Yem Deeby:
Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian film director whose modernist style created such haunting, enigmatic films as L'Avventura and Blow Up, died Monday at his home in Italy; he was 94. Antonioni had suffered a debilitating stroke in 1985 which gave him limited speech capabilities and curtailed his directing abilities, though he continued to work, most notably on 1995's Beyond the Clouds, after his stroke. Born in Ferrara, Italy, Antonioni graduated from the University of Bologna with a degree in economics but went to work for a local newspaper as a film writer and critic. Moving to Rome during World War II, he collaborated with Roberto Rossellini on A Pilot Returns and began making short documentaries. His first full-length film, Story of a Love Affair, was released in 1950, and he found his breakthrough with 1957's The Outcry, where he met actress Monica Vitti, who would go on to star in his famed film trilogy of emotional alienation: L'Avventura, La Notte, and L'Eclisse, released from 1960-1962. With these austere black-and-white films, seductive and amazing to some and puzzling and mysterious to others (L'Avventura and L'Eclisse both won the Jury prizes at Cannes), Antonioni established himself as one of the premier international filmmakers of the time, alongside fellow countryman Federico Fellini and other emerging directors of the 60s such as Roman Polanski and Ingmar Bergman; he was considered such a fixture of the time that he was even mentioned in lyrics (alongside Fellini and Polanski) in the seminal musical of the 60s, Hair.

In 1966, Antonioni found box office as well as critical success with Blow Up, the story of a London photographer (David Hemmings) who believes he may have accidentally captured a murder on film. The quintessential portait of the swinging 60s, the film featured a luminous Vanessa Redgrave and, most notoriously, an imaginary, silent tennis game played between two sets of white-faced mimes. While some shrugged, others continued to celebrate his success, and Antonioni received two Academy Award nominations for writing and directing Blow Up. That film was followed by the notorious flop Zabriskie Point, an existentialist rumination in Death Valley featuring amateur actors, but Antonioni then rebounded with The Passenger, starring Jack Nicholson as a journalist researching a documentary in the Sahara, now considered one of his best films. Antonioni made only a handful of films following The Passenger, and worked only in a limited fashion after his stroke, though he surprised critics and audiences with 1995's Beyond the Clouds, which producers would only back with the stipulation that director Wim Wenders follow the filming in case Antonioni faltered. Though he was only able to speak a few words, the director was able to communicate effectively with his crew and actors; the same year Beyond the Clouds was released, he received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement. Antonioni is survived by his wife, Enrica, whom he married in 1986.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman: 1918-2007

I learned this morning that Ingmar Bergman passed away at the age of 89. What you'll find below is the obit posted originally on IMDB, but a couple words from your humble blogger first....

Initially, I discovered Bergman through Woody Allen, who cited him as a major influence. A short time later as a high school student, I sat in on a couple community college classes that taught film appreciation, wherein I was exposed to full-fledged Bergman for the first time. I can't recall which was my first - The Silence? Wild Strawberries? Regardless, I was hooked. While many found - and find - Bergman's films difficult and bleak (at best!), I discovered a sense of brutal honesty from a man seemingly unafraid of looking in the darkest, most feared places of the human psyche and soul.

In all honesty, I have moved away from regular viewing of such films in recent years. Do I now find these pictures as bleak as so many critics? To a degree, yes, some of them. If you ask me to name my top ten favorite films, I assure you that you will find at least one of Bergman's listed - though precisely which one(s) might depend on my mood. That said, while The Silence and Persona are brilliant, beautiful, stirring works of art, I don't want to watch them all the time. I truly feel it is important and necessary for each person to look into and challenge their own abyss - just don't do it everyday, or no one will be your friend.

Ingmar Bergman was my friend. We never met, and he had no notion of my own existence. But, he spoke to me, inspired me, and moved me just as much as anyone I've ever known.

Now, as promised, here's that pesky, "official" obituary....
Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish director considered one of the most influential and acclaimed filmmakers of modern cinema, died at his home in Faro, Sweden, on Monday; he was 89. The death was announced by the Swedish news agency TT and confirmed by Bergman's daughter, Eva, and Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, though an official cause of death was not yet given. Nominated for nine Academy Awards throughout his career and honored with the Irving G. Thalberg award in 1971, Bergman was cited as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, with his bleak, unsparing yet highly emotional explorations of the human psyche and its relation to life, sex, and death, in both highly symbolic and intensely personal films; he most notably influenced Woody Allen, who considered him the greatest of filmmakers. His images ranged from the stark black-and-white of films like The Seventh Seal to those awash in dreadful reds such as Cries and Whispers and the holiday warmth of Fanny and Alexander, his last film for the cinema. Born in Uppsala, Sweden in 1918, Bergman was the son of a Lutheran minister, and religious imagery as well as the tumultuous relationship between his parents would pervade his work. Though growing up in an extremely strict and devout family, Bergman lost his faith at an early age and grappled with the concept of the existence of God in many of his early films. Bergman discovered the magic of imagery at the age of nine with a magic lantern, for which he would create his own characters and scenery, and this love of light and images brought him to the theater world after a brief stint at the University of Stockholm. Bergman worked in both theater and film throughout the 1940s, as part of the script department of Svensk Filmindustri and as a director and producer for numerous small theater companies. His first script to be produced was the 1944 film Torment, and began as a director with small movies that allowed him to hone his craft; among his notable earlier works were Prison, Summer Interlude, and Sawdust and Tinsel.

Bergman came to the fore of the international cinematic community with the 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night, his classic melancholy comedy about the romantic entanglements of three 19th century couples during a weekend at a country estate. The film propelled him to stardom and won him a a Cannes Film Festival award for "Best Poetic Humor" (it was also later adapted by Stephen Sondheim into the musical A Little Night Music). He established his legacy and reputation with his next two films: The Seventh Seal, featuring the now-iconic imagery of Death playing chess with a tortured medieval knight (Max Von Sydow), and Wild Strawberries, the study of an aged professor (played by Victor Sjostrom) revisiting his youth and his darkest fears as he drives through the Swedish countryside. Both films were phenomenal critical and box office successes, with Wild Strawberries earning Bergman his first Oscar nomination, for Best Screenplay. Bergman's The Virgin Spring, the grim fable about two parents exacting revenge on their daughter's murderers, won the Best Foreign Language film Oscar in 1961. He followed up that film with a trilogy of films -- Through a Glass Darkly (another Foreign Language Film Oscar winner), Winter Light and The Silence -- in which he grappled most powerfully with his lack of faith and belief in the power of love.

Making as many failures as he did successes, Bergman found favor with a number of films throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including the now-famous Persona, Hour of the Wolf, The Passion of Anna, Cries and Whispers (a nominee for Best Picture), Scenes from a Marriage, The Magic Flute, and Autumn Sonata. Throughout his films he used an ensemble of actors, most notably Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Erland Josephson and Liv Ullman, with whom he had a personal relationship and a child. He also almost always worked with the legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who won two Oscars for Cries and Whispers and 1982's Fanny and Alexander. It was that latter film that Bergman declared to be his final cinematic work, an intimate portrait of brother and sister set in early 20th century Sweden that was originally conceived as a four part TV film, and was released in the US at a truncated 188 minutes. It won four Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film. Though he officially "retired" from the film industry after Fanny and Alexander, Bergman made films for Swedish television, continued to direct theatrically (including a version of Hamlet in Swedish that traveled to the US) and wrote screenplays that were filmed by other directors, including Bille August, Bergman's son Daniel, and actress and former lover Liv Ullman. His last work as director was Saraband, a revisitation of the two lead characters (Ullman and Jospehson) from Scenes from a Marriage. Bergman was married five times, and his fifth wife, Ingrid von Rosen, passed away in 1995. He is survived by nine children from his past marriages and relationships. At press time, a funeral date had not yet been set.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Marion Ravenwood!

Okay. Having a big geek moment right now. Just found out that Karen Allen is indeed reprising her Raiders of the Lost Ark role as Marion Ravenwood in the currently shooting Indy 4. Honestly, got a little choked up. She looks fantastic, and I look forward to her and Harrison Ford recapturing at least some of the magic and chemistry they shared back in 1981. (FYI, pics were taken by an audience member at Comic Con. Hence, what some of you may deem "weird angles".)

Also of note.... George Lucas himself announced that the teaser trailer will be released around Thanksgiving. The film is slated for May 22, 2008.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back to Basics

Discovered this on Monomyth.org. A how-to guide for turning your back on "civilization" and re-forging a purer society....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


This is an amazing piece of stop motion animation. It's a short Spanish film - don't worry, there's no dialogue so no subtitles, you sissies! - featuring the Minotaur, Pablo Picasso, and various Picasso "creatures". It was made back in 2004 and was justly nominated for both the European and Spanish equivalents of the Oscar. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you do read Spanish, click here for the official site.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lazlo Kovacs 1933-2007

Just learned that Lazlo Kovacs passed away early Sunday morning. If you don't know the name, you've surely seen plenty of the films for which he was director of photography or "simply" a cameraman. A sampling of titles: Easy Rider, Paper Moon, Shampoo, Ghostbusters, Say Anything....

Reuters revealed an amazing aspect of his early years as a college student in Hungary:
Kovacs was born and raised on a farm in Hungary when that country was isolated from the Western world, first by the Nazi occupation and later during the Cold War. Kovacs was in his final year of school in Budapest when a revolt against the Communist regime started on the city streets.

He and his lifelong friend Vilmos Zsigmond made the daring decision to document the event for its historic significance. To do this, they borrowed film and a camera from their school, hid the camera in a paper bag with a hole for the lens and recorded the conflict.

The pair then embarked on a dangerous journey during which they carried 30,000 feet of documentary film across the border into Austria. They entered the U.S. as political refugees in 1957.

Their historic film was featured in a CBS documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite.

Against the odds, Kovacs and Zsigmond went on to become two of Hollywood's most influential directors of photography.
What a story! You will be missed, sir.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Get Along, Wes Anderson

Found this today while searching for info on Wes Anderson's forthcoming film, The Darjeeling Limited. Perfect black humor from two guys who mined the genre years ago. The original can be found here. Yes, this is rather long, but I felt it merited a complete reproduction, so there you go. (P.S.: To those who can, please don't sue over this reproduction. Please.)

From: W. Becker and D. Fagen [AKA Steely Dan© ]

To: Wes Anderson


As you may know, we are the founders of the celebrated rock band "Steely Dan"©. If for some reason you don't know our work, check with Owen and Luke Wilson - they're both big fans. Here's something you may not know about us: when not distracted by our “day job” – composing, recording, touring and so forth – we like to head downstairs into the paneled basement of our minds and assume the roles we were born to play - you may have already guessed it by now – the roles of Obsessive Fans of World Cinema.

That's right. Eisenstein, Renoir, Rene Clair, Bunuel, Kurosawa, Fellini, Godard, Tarkovsky, Ophuls the Elder, Blake Edwards, Ophuls the Younger, you name it. Sat there, dug it.

Maestro, we give to you this Message: there was a time when Giants walked among us. And, damn, if you, Wes Anderson, might not be the one to restore their racial dominance on this, our planet, this Terra, this... Earth.

You may have heard that we have recently made it our personal project and goal to deliver a certain actor of no small importance to your past and present work from a downward spiral of moral turpitude from which it seemed there might be no escape. We are delighted to report that, with the news of Mr. ________'s participation in your new film (which we understand to be entitled, indeed, charmingly, “Darjeeling Limited”), our efforts have been repaid, and How.

This unqualified victory has inspired us to address a more serious matter. Let's put our cards on the table - surely, we are not the first to tell you that your career is suffering from a malaise. Fortunately, inasmuch as it is a malaise distinctly different than that of Mr.______ , and to the extent that you have not become so completely alienated from the intellectual and moral wellsprings of your own creativity, we are hoping that we - yours truly, Donald and Walter - may successfully "intervene" at this point in time and be of some use to you in your latest, and, potentially, greatest, endeavor.

Again, an artist of your stripe could never be guilty of the same sort of willing harlotry that befalls so many bright young men who take their aspirations to Hollywood and their talent for granted. You have failed or threatened to fail in a far more interesting and morally uncompromised way (assuming for a moment that self-imitation and a modality dangerously close to mawkishness are not moral failings, but rather symptoms of a profound sickness of the soul.)

Let's begin with a quick review of your career so far, as it is known to us and your fans and wellwishers in general.

You began, spectacularly enough, with the excellent "Bottle Rocket", a film we consider to be your finest work to date. No doubt others would agree that the striking originality of your premise and vision was most effective in this seminal work. Subsequent films - "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "The Life Aquatic" - have been good fun but somewhat disappointing - perhaps increasingly so. These follow-ups have all concerned themselves with the theme we like to call "the enervated family of origin"©, from which springs diverse subplots also largely concerned with the failure to fulfill early promise. Again, each film increasingly relies on eccentric visual detail, period wardrobe, idiosyncratic and overwrought set design, and music supervision that leans heavily on somewhat obscure 60's "British Invasion" tracks a-jangle with twelve-string guitars, harpsichords and mandolins. The company of players, while excellent, retains pretty much the same tone and function from film to film. Indeed, you must be aware that your career as an auteur is mirrored in the lives of your beloved characters as they struggle in vain to duplicate early glories.

But, look, Mr. Anderson, we're not trying to be critical – dammit - we just want to help.

Enter the Faboriginals©, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan©. The muse is a fickle mistress at best, and to leave her high and dry, with just a "lick and a promise" of the greatness of which one is capable - well, sir, it's just plain wrong. It is an Art Crime© of the first magnitude and a great sin against your talent and your Self. We just don't want to see it go down that way.

So the question, Mr. Anderson, remains: what is to be done? As we have done with previous clients, we have taken the liberty of creating two alternative strategies that we believe will insure success - in this case, success for you and your little company of players. Each of us – Donald and Walter - has composed a TITLE SONG which could serve as a powerful organizing element and a rallying cry for you and Owen and Jason and the others, lest you lose your way and fall into the same old traps.



Donald believes that you are at a crossroads and that you must do what none of your characters has been able to do - namely, let go of the past: leave it as it lies with no concern for the wreckage, and move boldly forward towards new challenges and goals. To this end he has composed a fresh, exciting title song for your new film, "Darjeeling Limited". It's rousing, it's hip, by turns, funny and sad, and then funny again. Although the music is not entirely out of line with the chic “retro” pop you seem to favor, it's been fire-mopped© clean of every last trace of irony and then re-ironized at a whole new level – “post-post-post-modern” if you will. The lyrics are as follows:

Darjeeling Limited©
That's the train I wanna get kissed on
Darjeeling Limited©
But I'll be lucky if I don’t get pissed on

This is a country of starving millions
We've got to get 'em their tea on time
I know romance should be on the back burner
But girl I just can't get you off my mind
Cause baby every single time I'm with you
I'd like to have as many arms as Vishnu
(Arms as Vishnu)

Darjeeling Limited©
That's the train I wanna get kissed on
Darjeeling Limited©
But I'll be lucky if I don’t get pissed on

You told me you'd be mine forever
That we'd get married in the Taj Mahal
The minute I'm done baggin' this tea, babe
Then I'll be makin' you my Bollywood doll
Forget the Super Chief, the China Star now
Give me the choo-choo with the Chutney Bar now
(Chutney Bar now)

Darjeeling Limited©
That's the train I wanna get kissed on
Darjeeling Limited©
But I'll be lucky if I don’t get pissed on


Walter believes that the best strategy for you now would be to return to the point in your career when it was all good, when all was working as it should, when there was magic in every song you sung, so to speak. Youthful idealism, jouissance©, original spirit - these will be your watchwords. "Birth is residual if it is not symbolically revisited through initiation" - it's an old French proverb. In other words, your new film will be called "Bottle Rocket Two©" and will be the logical continuation of the first film which was so well loved. ("Bottle Rocket" was our fave among your movies, did we mention that?) You pick up where you left off and find a new continuation that takes you elsewhere than to ruin. The eponymous title song would reframe the important existential questions which are at the core of your artistic vision and would go something like this:

Bottlerocket Two©

Any resemblance
Real or imagined
People or places
Living or dead

Any resemblance
As-if or actual
Characters or circumstance
It's all in your head

Flying out to India
Trying to get into you
Old Bombay
It's a very long way
To chase a "bottlerocket" to©

Precise simulations
Possible parallels
Never intended

Persons and places
Present or otherwise
Comrades in comedy
Brothers in crime

Hiding out in India
Babycakes they're watching you
This is our latest -
It may be our greatest -
It's called "bottlerocket" too©!

Who pitched the story?
Who built the scenery?
Who raised the money?
Whose movie is it,

[Guitar Solo ]


Come to think about it, these songs are both so fucking strong that you may wish to consider a hybrid approach that uses both of them - after all, they're both set in India, which is where your company is setting up shop now. You could go with some kind of "film within a film" or even a "film within a film within a film" or some such pomo horseshit, just like Godard's “King Lear” or whatever. That's your call, you're the director.

Please note that all these lyrics and titles have been heavily copywritten, trademarked, registered, patented, etc., etc., so anybody using them will have to negotiate the rights from the legitimate Faboriginal© owners, which is us. We are currently represented by Michael “Mickey” Shaheen, Esq., of Howard Beach, Queens County, New York NY.

The other change that we would have to make would concern Mark Mothersbaugh. Everyone in Hollywood knows that he is a first class professional musical supervisor. Obviously you and he have a lot of great history together and we can imagine there is a certain rapport both professional and personal. But we certainly can't work with him, anymore than he would consent to work with us. Same thing for the mandolins and the twelve-string stuff and the harpsichord, they're out. You yourself may be partial to those particular instruments. We're not. Remember, we saw “Tom Jones” in its original theatrical release when we were still in high school, we had to listen to “Walk Away Renee” all through college and we fucking opened for Roger McGuinn in the seventies, so all that "jingle-jangle morning" shit is no big thrill for us, OK?

Argh!...goddammit...sorry, guy! We kinda lost it for a minute there. Look - Mark is probably a swell guy. But you, Wes Anderson, must remember that Mark and his music are part of the old way of doing things, the old way of being, the old way that has brought you to the precipice. Mr. Anderson, you must be fearless in defense of your creations and your genius, absolutely fearless, and not give in to sentimental considerations.

So - let's get going, shall we? Send the check for US$400,000 (advance on licensing fees) out by Fedex to Mickey by tomorrow and we'll talk a little later in the day about merch, percentages, backend, soundtrack, ASCAP, etc. Mickey himself doesn't need any kind of an advance but he'll probably take a couple of points on your net career action. It's a little expensive - and Mickey certainly doesn't need the bread - but just pay the points, okay? It's a lot better than the alternative.

We remain your abject servants,

W. Becker and D. Fagen AKA Steely Dan©

Friday, July 20, 2007

Twin Peaks Parody from SNL of Olde

It's no secret that I'm a huge David Lynch admirer and have been for over twenty years. (Seriously? I just realized that myself.) As with many things youtube, I stumbled upon this yesterday and remember watching it when it originally aired. For fans of Twin Peaks and/or Lynch, this is a proverbial hoot. If you don't fall into either of those categories, just watch it for the likes of Phil Hartman and Chris Farley.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Big Problem

Friend of the blog Julian Meyer posted these images not too long ago. Certainly a better take on Galactus than what you'll find in the recent Fantastic Four movie. I love 'em both, but have a warm place in my heart for the expression on the guy's face.

Get Your "Cheaper" PS3 ...
Before an Even Pricier One Ships

Well, can't say we didn't see this coming....

Last week, Sony dropped the price on the PS3 - which ships with a 60GB hard drive and high-definition Blu-ray DVD player - from $599 to $499 in a bid to boost sales and compete with the Xbox 360. It followed this up with an announcement that said it would launch a new model featuring an 80GB hard drive in August.

Now, many a gamer has cried "Foul!", suggesting Sony's plan is just a ploy to boost short-term quarterly gains. What do you think? Here's a little more on the subject, courtesy of Reuters:
A company representative said Sony would sell the $499 version until "supplies of that unit are depleted," estimated to be months after the August debut of the new, pricier model.

The PS3 lags the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii console in sales. The Xbox 360, which launched in November 2005, has sold 5.6 million units in the United States through May of this year.

The $250 Wii, with its unique motion-sensing controller, has become a surprise hit, selling 2.8 million units in just seven months after its November 2006 launch, compared to the PS3's 1.4 million units in that time.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 comes in three models priced from $300 to $480. The most expensive model, the Elite, comes with a 120GB hard drive but lacks the PS3's high-definition DVD player, built-in wireless technology and bundled game.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Star Wars Sound Redesign Project

Yes, I know, I need to get off this youtube kick, but this thing has just stuck with me so I'm sharing it. I could tell you the gist, but the original description nails it:
This is a scene from Star Wars which has had its soundtrack completely rebuilt from scratch by myself. Following a teacher's challenge, every sound effect in the scene was created by manipulating (either in Soundforge, Goldwave, or both) the yell that Han exclaims when he hits the first TIE Fighter, which occurs at about 1:35 into the video. Simultaneously I also became interested in examining how music alters the feel of a scene, and in that spirit I created several different versions with music that evoked different sorts of moods or feelings. I would also like to point out that the reason Leia has a man's voice is that the dialogue was recorded in small groups, and ours had no women.
I originally stumbled upon this as I was looking for stuff on Bernard Herrmann, no less. If you'd like to select from the complete list of experiments, click here. However, this is my personal favorite:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Marshall, Will, and Holly...."

Well, there I was just moments ago thinking that it was rather surprising that no one has come forth with a movie version of '70's Sid and Marty Krofft fave Land of the Lost. I was then going to write this entry about - what else? - my own surprise. However, when I decided to research the subject, I found that there is a film in development. Strange that I hadn't heard about it somewhere before.... I didn't bother looking into whether or not we should expect a Sigmund and the Sea Monsters or Far Out Space Nuts feature. If a LotL film is successful, then I have no doubt they'll be coming our way.

In the meantime....

The Ultimate Sinbad Journeys to
the Land Beyond Beyond

Just learned that Kerwin Matthews passed away on July 5 at the age of 81. While his career spanned nearly thirty years, he will likely be best remembered for his role as Sinbad in the classic Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. This passing fills me with sorrow - and if you're a frequent reader of this blog you'll know why - yet I can't help but feel a new kinship that I never knew before. Apparently he had spent much of the last thirty years here in the Bay Area - and passed right here in San Francisco. Wish I'd known he was so close at hand. Now, I find him even closer than that. May the wind be ever at your back, Captain....

Monday, July 9, 2007

Christopher Lee Sings!

I've actually known about Mr. Lee's vocal stylings for quite some time, but was still surprised with what I stumbled upon on good ol' youtube. It appears he's recorded with a couple songs with a German band called Rhapsody of Fire. These two vids are of the same song. This first is the English language music video:

This is a live TV performance - all in German!

Now, for arguably the best of Christopher Lee singing in a film I highly recommend the hilarious The Return of Captain Invincible. It's a superhero-comedy-musical starring Alan Arkin. You can find it on DVD via Amazon, Netflix, etc. This is the only Lee-centric clip I could find on youtube:

Friday, July 6, 2007

Ponda Baba's Bad Day

Okay, this is from a few weeks back, but I still get a kick out of it. This was a segment from Robot Chicken's Star Wars special. You remember that walrus-faced guy that seemed to argue with Luke in the cantina all those years ago? Well, here's what really happened....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bring On Summer '08

This last year or so, I haven't had much interest in films. And those that did seem to hold promise turned out to be real letdowns. I'm looking at you, Fountain. While this disinterest hasn't kept me away from the movie theatre, I've found that I'm less and less waiting in anticipation for any releases, so much so that I'll see a trailer for something and think, "Well, I didn't know he/she was in such-and-such." Those who've known me for a while should see how that flies in the face of expectations; I've regularly been the guy who could tell you right now what the big holiday pics would be. Honestly, right now I couldn't tell you one movie that's slated for fall.

All of this said, I just realized yesterday that for the first time in, well, ages, I'm looking forward to a batch of Summer films. Not this Summer, mind you. I didn't bother with The Pirate Movie or The Ogre Movie. No, I'm talking about next Summer. As of now - and without digging into the advance recon available at the IMDB - I know of four films that will automatically have my money in 2008:

Indiana Jones and the Rocking Chair of Eternal Youth: Or somesuch title. Yes, I'm in harmony with those nay-sayers who bemoan making another film in this franchise, owing both to the fact that Harrison Ford is older now than when Sean Connery played his dad in the last installment, as well as to the opinion that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade actually wrapped up the trilogy nicely and for the ages. But, with all of that weight front-loaded, I'm still excited to see what they'll pull off this time. Even if there's only one moment in a scene where that character lives and breathes again, then I can nod and smile.

The Dark Knight: Batman Begins wasn't only a good superhero movie, it was a good movie. And, with the same people involved behind and in front of the camera - except for the I-sure-as-hell-won't-miss-'ems Katie Holmes and schlock writer David Goyer (blame any weak ass dialogue in the first film on him) - this bodes well. I think Heath Ledger is an inspired choice to play The Joker, and I can't wait to see what he does with it.

Iron Man: I've already gushed about this picture here. Suffice to say that even if it was just Robert Downey, Jr. strutting around in a tux spouting pithy dialogue, they'd have my money. Now, add a bunch of comic book action and a badass looking suit of red and gold....

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army: The first Hellboy is certainly flawed, but it's also gorgeous, clever, and very different from most comic adaptations. Truthfully, I was surprised when I first heard that they would make a sequel. Though the first film did okay box office, it didn't set the world on fire. That said, apparently there were enough supporters to warrant another go-round, and we shall be all the luckier for it. For anyone out there who enjoyed at least the look and style of Pan's Labyrinth, director Guillermo Del Toro also helmed the first Hellboy and this coming sequel.

Honestly. I can't recall the last time I looked forward to a batch of Summer movies this much....