Archive for January 2009

Two ventures into the deepest, starkest realms of the supernatural

One of the benefits of working in a local history library (and you have to grab ’em where you can) is that I often come across interesting and funny titbits in the line of duty – some of which end up on my other blog, Musty Moments. Today, whilst searching a 1964 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post, my eye was naturally drawn to this ad:



What a different world it seems, 40 years ago, when adverts like this would’ve been appearing in the local paper! Here’s a photo (from 1970) of the Leeds ABC cinema where this programme originally played. It closed in 1999 and was finally demolished last year:



It looks like The Gorgon and The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb were an official Hammer double bill, if this poster I found online is anything to go by:



And, interestingly enough, the two films can still be found together on DVD today:



Now all I need to do is watch them!

Fuhgeddaboudit.....


Of course I saw many a movie while on my hiatus, a lot of which I'll be talking about over the next few days. One I saw while having a bout of insomnia: "Homie Spumoni".

You're probably like "wha?". It is the story of some Black dude whose Black parents lost him as a baby while vacationing in Italy. He is found by an Italian woman whose husband can't have kids, so she keeps him. Fearing racism in town, they move to America, name him Renaldo and raise him in little Italy, all the while the Black dude thinking he's Italian, but just dark-complexioned. His Black parents find him, starting off by telling him his real name is Leroy--"hilarity" ensues.

Yes, it is just as weird and ridiculous as it sounds. I read about this film a couple years ago, and saw that Whoopie Goldberg and Paul Mooney (!) played the parents, and Tony Rock the brother, so I was pretty curious to see it. I looked for it, but never saw anything from it, so I forgot about it, till the other night.

Donald Faison plays the "homie". Can I say what is the deal with him? He was charming in "Clueless", but after that I can't really decide what to make of him. I can't tell if he might be funny, or is just goofy, or just seems like he never has any direct contact with any other Black folks, ever. What I do know, however, is that in this movie he has a very big and mutating mole above his lip--and in the film sometimes it was covered with make-up, sometimes it was sweating, and sometimes it looked like a roach was chilling under his nose. And me being me, of course I was wholly distracted by it in almost every scene.

Anyhoo, getting past the fact that it is utterly ridiculous that this guy has absolutely no clue that he might be Black, and speaks like a Paulie Walnuts from the deepest part of Brooklyn, this movie kinda made me laugh. Sometimes I have a weakness for flat-out dumb humor, explaining my love for Friday and Friday After Next (NOT to be confused with Next Friday or First Sunday). Homie Spumoni is filled with completely un-PC humor about Asians, Blacks, Italians, and Jews. It was almost like it was written in the 60's by Don Rickles...I laughed when others would probably wince, but it was 4 in the morning, maybe I was punch-drunk.

Jamie Lynn Sigler (Meadow from the Sopranos) plays Faison's newly acquired girlfriend, tho she is Jewish in this film. There is less than zero chemistry between them. He sings and dances (completely entrancing in it's awkwardness), volunteers in an animal shelter, and works in his father's deli until his parents Goldberg and Mooney show up.

I must say, I have never found Whoopie so loose and funny before. It was like she said "I know I'm in a low budget movie, so I'm gonna ack a fool", and she does. There is one flashback that she narrates that was just so silly and hilarious to me, where she explains how they lost Donald in a basket while on the river in Italy while Daddy Mooney was drinkin' wine out of a leather pouch. Too funny!

Anyway, Joey Fatone (!) plays his best friend, Tony Rock as the brother makes attempts to bring Faison to his Blackness (one way of course is to bring him to some niggaratti house party; yeah, that won't scare him away) and Faison has to figure out where his place is in the world--especially after the 2 moms have a knife fight (don't ask).

While I got a few guilty laughs out of this--trust me, this is for insomniac viewing only.


Here is scene with Faison, with an outfit that looks like a reject from Coming To America, and his supposed new dad, Paul Mooney. I have and always will love Paul and his dry, wry humor:




And speaking of Faison, he seems to have an affinity for making dumb stuff. My blogging sis Wanda (and Sergio) sent this trailer over to me, tho I had heard about it weeks ago. It is a movie called "Next Day Air" described as this:

When a misguided UPS driver inadvertently delivers a package containing concealed bricks of cocaine to the wrong address, it sets in motion a desperate search and battle for the coke between the furious dealer that sent it, the fearful intended recipients that missed it, and the conniving accidental recipients that plan to flip it. Time is running out and everyone's trying to get their hands on the package that's been sent.

From IW: Gosh, we've never seen that before, have we?

Here is the trailer. Oh yeah, by the way, Mos Def, Lauren London, Mike Epps, Wood Harris (The Wire), and Debbie Allen are in it too:

Here I Is...



^To quote the late, great, Notorious B.I.G.

Thank you so very much for my birthday wishes. Between my fasting and prosperity journey with my good pal Sistah C., my job, personal boring responsibilities, my quest to triple my fundage, and my new found E-Bay addiction for low priced but hellacious clothing (yes, I'm late on that), I haven't really felt like blogging. I always say if blogging feels like a job, or a duty, no es fun anymore. If I take breaks from time to time, Ms. Invisible can keep rollin'. I love Black Film, and I feel lots of good things are coming this year, so I want to be here with you to discuss most of it....

Anyhoo, after an unplanned absence I usually come back with an Old School Music Friday, which I haven't done in eons. This week's theme is Originals Vs. Remakes, and I'd like to take it back to my origin of making mine Black Cinema related.

Here is the first, true original one, and the one that I really enjoy most. The remakes get progresionally...ummm...questionable, but it is always an amazing song no matter who is singing it:



The next is of Aretha Franklin singing it. She is skinny, with some short blondish (sort of) nappylicious hair, and she has seemed to maintain her apparent complete and total disdain for any type of boobage support for decades. But girl can sing, what can I say?



The last is En Vogue, who actually did a wonderful homage to the original in their 90's video of the remake. I always feel an affinity to them cause I went to school with Dawn Robinson, and we admitted years later that we had always admired each others style, even back then. Unfortunately, the original video is nowhere to be found on youtube (and I was too lazy to look elsewhere), but I did find many different versions shot on many niggaratti cell phones. Here is one--peep the wardrobe as well; how the mighty have fallen.... :-(



PS: Who are the people supposed to be in the poster above? Awful! Please visit my other OSF fam for their choices on this meme:

AJ - http://overanalyzeit.wordpress.com/Believer 1964 - http://ruhoffman.blogspot.com/BklynQueen’86 - http://vanitydark.blogspot.com/CC Groovy - http://ccgroovy.blogspot.com/Chocl8t - http://thechocl8tdiaries.wordpress.com/Cooper - http://wonderlandornot.net/Shawn - http://dallassouthblog.com/Danielle Vyas - http://modernmusings.com/Dee - http://donotcolorme.blogspot.com/DP - http://therealready.blogspot.com/Fresh and Fab - http://freshandfab.blogspot.com/Hagar’s Daughters – http://hagarsdaughters.blogspot.com/Invisible Woman - http://invisible-cinema.blogspot.com/John - http://altjirangamitjina.blogspot.com/Kevin - http://slanttruth.com/Kim - http://thepunkin-patch.blogspot.com/LaKeisha - http://kreativetalk.blogspot.com/LaShonda - http://thee-biz.blogspot.com/Lil Creole Pimp - http://creolepimp.blogspot.com/Lisa C - http://lisacwrites.blogspot.com/Mahogany - http://www.mahoganydymond.net/Malcolm - http://popculturedish.blogspot.com/Marcus - http://marcuslangford.com/MarvalusOne - http://themarvalusview.com/Mike - http://thehappygoluckybachelor.blogspot.com/Mrs. Grapevine - http://mrsgrapevine.com/MsLadyDeborah - http://msladydeborah.blogspot.com/Pjazzypar - http://www.tracesofastream.blogspot.com/Pop Art Diva - http://popartdiva.blogspot.com/Quick - http://thequickcatchup.blogspot.com/Regina - http://reginasfamilyseasons.blogspot.com/Shae-Shae - http://heyshae.com/blogSharon - http://thetrueurbanqueen.blogspot.com/SJP - http://sojournersplace.blogspot.com/Thembi - http://whatwouldthembido.blogspot.com/Villager - http://electronicvillage.blogspot.com/Vivrant Thang - http://songsinthekeyoflife.wordpress.com/Zenobia - http://from-the-battlefield.blogspot.com/

Let’s all stare at a random pic!



I know what you’re thinking: Who’s that? Why him? And what’s with that stupid fucking frame? Well, said picture stands for two bits of exciting news I have for you today. Firstly, I’ve started blogging for Retro Slashers, a website I’ve long adored and which, along with Hysteria Lives, should be part of your staple diet for slasher reviews and information – yes, even if you don’t normally eat staples (admittedly, they can be a bit sharp going down). Anyway, the above image comes from my first blog post, entitled The 10 Best Slasher Movie In-Jokes. Enjoy!

The second part of that oh-so-exciting news is that I finally – finally! – got round to watching one of the movies I mentioned back in Sham Shocktober, the month when I took it upon myself to preview 30 horror films I’d never seen. And that movie, if you don’t recognize the above screencap, was Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. When I originally included the flick in Sham Shocktober, I never expected the strength of the positive comments it would draw, such as:

“I have not only seen Leslie Vernon but went on to own it. For me, it was 2nd only to Grindhouse for best 2007 horror. Nathan Baesel strikes that perfect chord of a horror leading man. One minute charismatic, the next psychotic.” (Reel Whore)

“I envy your Leslie Vernon virginity. I love this movie so much... and soon (hopefully), so will you.” (Corey, Evil on Two Legs)

Well, I did love it and, in retrospect, it probably was one of 2007’s best horror films. If you like slashers (as you probably do if you’re hanging out here) and haven’t yet seen this movie, what are you waiting for?! Behind the Mask is extremely clever and a whole lot of fun. If you’re worried (as I was) that it’ll be more about slashers than a slasher itself, then worry not – you get 2 for the price of 1 here, and neither element disappoints.

If there’s one minor quibble I had with it, it’s that Nathan Baesel, while definitely charismatic and psychotic, isn’t the most physically imposing of killers – i.e. he’s no Kane Hodder (the man in the pic above, incidentally). With his slender build and that strange mask on, he looked a little more like he should’ve been ass-raping Christopher Walken in Communion than stalking teenagers. But, hey, either mental image is disturbing enough.

And, as for that “stupid fucking frame” on the picture, as you so rudely put it, I was playing about in PhotoShop, okay? Happy now? Sheesh... some people!

Knock Knock

I read an opinion on some message board that the upcoming DVD release of Slaughter High might be Lionsgate’s way of testing the water before greenlighting a remake of the toilet swirly-revenge slasher. That I can’t see, I’m afraid; the name just doesn’t have the cultural stock of Friday the 13th or even My Bloody Valentine. On the other hand, I never thought anyone would want to remake Offerings, Night Screams or any of those goofy late-eighties slashers, either. But that’s pretty much what Joe Ariola has achieved with Knock Knock (2007)... Joe, I think I love you.



I can’t get enough of the low-budget likes of Offerings, Night Screams, Hell High and Psycho Cop. Although they lack the initial excitement and glimmers of originality that surround the slashers from the earlier half of the decade, they have an ambience all of their own – one soaked in pastel décor, cheesy rock, boring sleepovers, late nights at the mall, and deserted football fields. In fact, just thinking about it is making me want to watch The Last Slumber Party.

Knock Knock stirs in some MTV flash-editing and a touch of techno music but, really, it’s one of these late-80s efforts through and through, from its suspicious, slobbish janitor character to a masked killer that looks as though someone stuck Leatherface’s head on Michael Myers’ body. All that’s missing is a fat sheriff... I mean, there is a sheriff (with the unlikely name of Cutter) but he’s a weedy, scraggly-haired Johnny Depp type, so perhaps the makers were referencing Depp’s early role in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

The movie begins, aptly enough, with a knock-knock at the door of a nameless cheerleader. Actually, I don’t think it’s stated whether she’s a cheerleader or not, but she’s doing that whole T-shirt off-the-shoulder thing and, hell, this is a slasher movie so she probably is a cheerleader. Anyway, the point is: there’s a knock at the door and, when Nameless Cheerleader goes to answer it, there’s no one there. Creepy! Personally, I’d lock the door, go upstairs and listen to some Enya if that happened to me, but NC is made of sturdier stuff and answers several more mysterious knocks, with much the same result. On the last occasion, however, a pair of scary hands burst through the door and grab her by the throat! Either she’s late paying the Avon lady this month or there’s a killer on the loose who doesn’t mind the odd splinter.


I dare say the small town of Glass County is rocked to the core by this vicious crime but the next night’s school football game goes ahead as planned, although there don’t seem to be many extras in attendance. Afterwards, one of the players is ambushed and killed whilst walking home, and ends up skewered to his own front door with a set of ice picks. And, when I say “ambushed”, I really mean it! There’s no heavy-breathing stalker nonsense for this poor guy – just a killer who leaps out and gets stabby with the stabbing, no questions asked. Either he’s gone and got on the wrong side of a travelling ice pick salesman or there’s a killer on the loose who doesn’t mind the odd splinter and has no patience whatsoever!

What this case needs is a crack team of serial killer profiling experts all the way from the FBI... Or a busty blonde detective babe called Billie Vega and her sleuthing grandpa sidekick. Glass County goes with the latter and, with local teenagers dropping like gruesomely mutilated flies, it’s up to this mismatched duo to stop the killer before he knocks – and indeed kills – again.


I can’t knock Knock Knock. Throughout its running time, I feared it might be on the verge of copping out by taking the supernatural route (a bugbear of mine) but, no – it thankfully stays within the boundaries of a straight slasher movie, albeit one with a fetish for ghostly chanting on the soundtrack. In its final third, the action shifts slightly away from the teenage stalkees and towards the detectives, but this is something that happens in many an authentic 80s effort, too, like the entertaining Night School for one.

The points it loses for epileptic editing, Knock Knock gains back by liberally dishing out the gore. This is a killer who doesn’t just kill, but chops, lops and generally slops out the slasher mince – all seemingly without the aid of CGI. In fact there’s an impressive locker-room impalement I simply couldn’t get my head around, so it looks like I’ll be checking out the DVD’s make-up FX featurette to find out how they did it.


It’s not a model of suspense, then – or even sense – but, in terms of that all-important slasher atmosphere, Knock Knock is one that really delivers. Right to your door!

Rating: 3/5

Going batty: Nightwing & The Bat

Holy flying mammals! I was going through my TV’s hard drive recently, deleting most of the 4,368 movies I’ve recorded from The Paranormal Channel, when I realized I had the perfect combo for a bat-themed double bill:



Why a bat-themed double bill, you ask? Well, simply because I could. And the two movies – 1979’s eco-thriller Nightwing and 1959’s Old Dark House mystery The Bat – couldn’t have been more different. Yet together they make the title of a fabadoo-sounding 70s cop show, Nightwing and the Bat!

Oops, no, what I meant to say was that, together, they made a most satisfying double feature. You know, like Carrie and Grease (and, if you’ve never boogied back-to-back with those two, you’ve never lived... Just make sure you watch Carrie first or the come-down will kill you). Anyway, I went with Nightwing first, mainly because I’ve wanted to see it for years. There aren’t many big studio horror films I’ve left to see and I’m especially fond of the “nature bites back” cycle that followed Jaws, of which this and the same year’s Prophecy are two of the more generously budgeted.

I’ve actually got an old ex-rental video of Nightwing I never got round to watching (and now I’ve seen it in pristine widescreen on ITV4, I’m glad I waited). The cover looks like this:



...and explains the gist of the film thusly:

The world’s newspapers actually carried stories of hoards of bubonic-plague carrying bats who were possibly making their way north from South America. Nightwing projects this sensational threat to Man’s continued presence on this planet into one of the most exciting thrillers of all time. With incredible special effects and enough blood-curdling horror to satisfy any video viewer, Nightwing should be your first choice for a ‘chilly’ night.

No, I’m not really sure what that “chilly night” bit’s getting at, either. If anything, Nightwing is a really hot, parched-feeling film set mostly in the desert, where dehydration and death, not to mention unsightly sweat patches, are a constant danger for the characters. All in all, I think the video cover sums it up better with its tagline, “The Bats of Hell Let Loose Upon the Earth”... I mean, wow! The bats of hell are loose? Tell me that and I’ll watch anything!

Specifically, said bats (of hell) pose a threat to the community living in and around an Indian reservation in New Mexico, where Chief Duran (Nick Mancuso) divides his time between protecting local land from unscrupulous developers and frolicking naked in a hot spring with his girlfriend, Anne (Kathryn Harrold). His elderly uncle (George Clutesi) seems to be going a bit loopy in his old age, drawing scary-looking paintings on the floor of his sacred Indian hut and ranting about the end of the world, “opening the circle” and blah blah blah... Sorry, all I could think by this point was “BATS!” and I may have missed some of the fine details.

It’s a bit of a long wait before we really see anything resembling a bat, as it happens. Much like Jaws, it’s about halfway through before one pops out, I think (not that Jaws had any bats in it). But I was happily caught up in the various reservation dramas, ranging from Duran’s despair at his girlfriend moving away to collage, to tension between the Maskai Indians and a neighbouring tribe. Meanwhile, in the middle of the night, something’s sucking the blood from local cattle and – gasp! – people, leaving behind only a stink of ammonia and some very stiff-looking corpses.

Dr David Warner, who’s arrived on the scene in a mobile bat-lab, is convinced that bubonic bats are behind it all – a threat to humanity he’s devoted his life to eradicating. All they do is “drink blood and piss it out as ammonia,” he spits (along with a few monologues about the essence of evil that mark him out as this film’s Dr Loomis type) and so he never leaves home without lots of wire mesh and a ton of explosives. But first he has to find the bat cave...

As I said, it’s a while before we actually see any of the nocturnal nasties, but what an entrance they make! As soon as the campfire scene begins, prepare for Final Destination-style shocks galore. This is Nightwing’s standout scene and rivals anything in Hitchcock’s The Birds for squealing, twittering, hair-tangling horror, and nothing else in the film really comes close to matching it, unfortunately (although there’s a wild, fiery climax).

Kathryn Harrold = WHITE HOT in my book, and I loved the scenes following the campsite attack that find her stranded in the desert, getting all MacGyver with wires, tyres and fires (and some unconventional “fishing”). Why Duran doesn’t want her to follow him into the bats’ eeeevil lair at the end of the film, I’ve no idea, as it’s plainly obvious she could whip up a flame-throwing TNT bat-apult in five minutes flat, using only some string and a yogurt pot.

Nightwing needs a DVD release; it’s almost as good as Prophecy, which has had at least two, but then that one does have a mutant bear-monster. Nightwing’s bats are a little less elaborate but still effective, and studios just don’t make this kind of silly “serious” horror anymore. Still, I’m not sure about the environmental message: Save the world; kill the bats? Squeeee! Rating: 3/5

The bat in, um, The Bat is another kind of monster altogether: the human sort, here to be found prowling around a spooky mansion decked out in black, sporting a fedora and razor-blade talons, in search of blood and hidden money. The first we see of him – black-gloved claws crawling around a door jamb – is pretty hokey, but our second glimpse of a faceless form in the shadows outside a window gave me a genuine jolt. How the innocent, pre-Psycho audiences of 1959 reacted to it back in the day, I can only imagine, but the shock holds up really well today.



That’s one of the best things about The Bat: it’s a scare-comedy in the vein of The Cat and the Canary but, unlike most of its ilk, its emphasis is on the scares. The laughs, mostly comic asides buried in the dialogue, are just the icing on an otherwise icy murder mystery. They could’ve gone either way with the villain – keeping him in the shadows would’ve no doubt made him scarier, but director Crane Wilbur ensures we see plenty of him skulking about, which lessens his impact but doesn’t hurt the film plot-wise. Incidentally, his method of killing – tearing out the throats of his victims – is surprisingly brutal.

Agnes Moorehead plays mystery author Cornelia van Gorder, who’s rented out a country mansion called The Oaks over the summer while its owner, bank manager Mr Fleming, is on an extended hunting trip. Unbeknownst to her and comedy sidekick Lizzie (Lenita Lane), Fleming has been embezzling bank bonds to the tune of a million dollars, which is now hidden in the manor. The only other person who knows about the stash is Dr Wells (Vincent Price in a subtle turn) who obviously has more then the health of its residents on his mind when he makes his frequent trips to the mansion...

Oh, The Bat, I adore you! And the plethora of debates and nitpicks over at the IMDb concerning its plot twists suggest there are plenty of people out there who just live this film. Certainly, it’s enormous fun, has a great creepy-house atmosphere and enough going on to sustain multiple viewings. I can’t understand the reviews that call it boring; there’s not a single line of dialogue that doesn’t enhance the mystery or propel the plot along in some way.

Best of all is the movie’s structure. It’s essentially a three-act play, with each of the first two acts culminating in a night of terror at The Oaks (the second of which features a real cocoa-spiller of a murder). Day #3 builds to a fine suspense scene involving a secret room, and I honestly didn’t find the outcome predictable at all. Considering you can get hold of the DVD of this one for less than a pound, I know I’ll be adding it to my collection. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, The Bat does contain some bats of the furry, flying kind as well: big ones, small ones, real ones, rubber ones... Don’t let the film slip off your radar. Or sonar. Or whatever bats have. Really, you’d think I’d know by now. Rating: 4/5

Last night’s double-header, then, marks my contribution to supporting the bat-movie industry and, if that means I never have to watch the Lou Diamond Phillips movie Bats, well, that’s fine by me. I never thought I’d have such a fearful funfest with a bunch of creatures I basically find more cute than frightening, so maybe next time I’ll try Night of the Lepus... How about those killer bunnies, huh?

America

Saw this meme at Kirkkitsch’s blog and couldn’t resist trying it myself... Judging by the results, I’m a really melancholy person. With waaaay too much frickin’ Beautiful South stuff on my iPod.

What does your music library say about you?

1. Put Your iPod on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the Next button to get your answer.
3. You must write down the name of the song.

What do your friends think of you?
Emerge by Fischerspooner (Perhaps they want me to “come out of my shell”. Bastards.)

If someone says, “Is this okay?” you say?
Sadness by Enigma (Yes, I’m always going along with things when, secretly, I don’t want to.)

How would you describe yourself?
Tears by The Beautiful South (Gosh, for realz? *sob*)

What do you like in a guy/girl?
Blackbird on the Wire by The Beautiful South

How do you feel today?
The Old Fat Robin by Lambchop (LOL!)

What is your life’s purpose?
Get Here by The Beautiful South

What is your motto?
I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow by John Hartford (Put me on suicide watch!)

What do you think about very often?
Don’t Smoke in Bed by Nina Simone

What is 2 + 2?
Bruise Pristine by Placebo

What do you think of your best friend?
Guest List by Eels

What do you think of the person you like?
Craw Song by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

What is your life story?
The One by Elton John (Always knew I was a legend.)

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Narrow Your Eyes by They Might Be Giants

What do you think of when you see the person you like?
Just Go Away by Blondie (Ha!)

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Words Fell by Lucinda Williams

What will they play at your funeral?
Prairie Fire That Wanders About by Sufjan Stevens (Actually, I’d love this at my funeral.)

What is your hobby/interest?
Don’t Stop Movin’ by The Beautiful South (Jesus! What is it with all these Beautiful South songs? Yes I have most of their albums, but FIVE songs from the 4,430 on my iPod manage to make it onto this list?!)

What is your biggest fear?
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next by Manic Street Preachers

What is your biggest secret?
Cherry Chapstick by Yo La Tengo (It’s Cherry Coke Chapstick, actually.)

What will you post this as?
America by Simon & Garfunkel (Topical, no?)

more brain hijacking

my brain is continuing to be hijacked and rewired.

i'm still full on into my david lynch obsession. i've started watching twin peaks. i am very sad that i missed this when it was originally was on television.

i am also in the midst of another obsession:

the music of scott walker.

his music is sublime...i can see a lot of connections with musicians and songwriters that i have been in love with for many years (brian eno, roxy music, david bowie, david sylvian, etc.). i finally watched the documentary that david bowie produced about him called "30 century man"...AMAZING. if you've seen wes anderson's equally sublime "the life aquatic with steve zissou", then you've heard scott walker...his song "30 century man" is featured prominently on the soundtrack.

and now, time for medication, a bit of reading ("lynch on lynch") and bedtime.

A Good Day To Be Black And Sexy....

Hi all. I know I've been a bit absent this past week, but promise to bring you some movie news tomorrow. I am kicking my New Year off in a major and fantastic way with a new health regime (really just a step up from what I've been doing before) and celebrating this past week-end and today with all of it's glory and significance.

Today is my birthday, and what better present can I have than what's going on today? Obama knew what I wanted, lol. Note to George Bush: PLEASE let the doorknob hit ya where the good Lord split ya on your way out!!

Ahhh, yes, such A Good Day To Be Black And Sexy....**


Y'all enjoy it all day long...as for me, I will be on the highest mountain ranges of limoncello heaven!





**i'll be reviewing this film soon...


My Bloody Valentine

I’ll admit it: My Bloody Valentine has never been one of my favourite slashers. I first saw the 1981 Canadian film a few years back and found it atmospheric but dull, with the obvious MPAA edits detracting from what little fun there was to be had. But then the dawn of 2009 promised not only an uncut special edition but also a gore-filled 3D remake, and my interest was positively piqued.

January 16th finally rolled around and, after a ticket-booking misjudgement that meant I missed the movie on opening night, I finally got to catch up with it last night. And, when I say “catch up”, I’m not exaggerating: it’s not often you see a slasher movie with three separate massacres in the first ten minutes and, to be quite honest, if your head’s not already spinning as you acclimatize to the 3D, it will be by the time the “10 YEARS LATER” card signals the end of the prologue. Mine shafts collapse, killers escape, guts are splattered, entire universes form and collapse... It’s actually all a bit garbled and I wouldn’t have objected if screenwriters Zane Smith and Todd Farmer had spent a little more time setting up the story at the outset, since these early events set up the dynamics played out across the rest of the film. But you do get your 3D gore delivered in spades (and, at one point, using a spade) and the blood and body parts fly impressively throughout.

To anyone whose 3D experience is limited mainly to kiddie movies, MBV’s bombardment of sharp implements and sticky viscera will come as something of a shock. I’ll even admit that I actually ducked once – not at a lopped-off limb or swinging pickaxe but, rather embarrassingly, as a cardboard candy box flew towards me. (In retrospect, it’s entirely possible I was making an unconscious lunge for the potential chocolate contained therein.) In any case, there’s no doubt that the 3D aspect of My Bloody Valentine is in-your-face fun all round.

But is the film any good? Well, it’s fun and it’s colourful and it certainly entertains, but it’s not and probably never will be a classic slasher. Nothing about its setting or cast (especially the dreadful Jensen Ackles) feels in any way “real”. I know that sounds stupid; after all, who demands realism in their slasher movies? But I find I need something to invest in, like the feeling that someone along the way is in real danger or doesn’t deserve to die. Here, the mining town of Harmony simply looks deserted. Hell, there aren’t even any extras. (Would too much background detail have made the 3D blurry or something?)

There’s no sense of a township in terror, either. Remember Scream and its seemingly omniscient killer just waiting to get you on your own? MBV’s maniac miner certainly looks the part in gasmask and heavy-duty work duds, but never feels like anything other than a cipher (which is interesting, admittedly, when you consider the “surprise” ending). I did enjoy the film but it wasn’t the essential experience I was hoping for and, shorn of its 3D element, wouldn’t be something I’d recommend to non-slasher fiends.

At the very least, it’s secured a long-awaited uncut rerelease of the 1981 film on DVD, which I’m really looking forward to revisiting just as soon as my Amazon order comes through. Something tells me that, of the two Bloody Valentines, the 80s original may be the one with the extra dimension.

Rating: 3/5

Disturbing Picture(s) Of The Week....

Not so "Dy-no-mite!" anymore, huh? A looooong way from Bootney Farnsworth.



And Georgie, Porgie, Porker Pie:

A looooong way from Karma Chameleon yes?





note to self: age is the enemy...

My bloody idiocy

Thanks to my own stupid stupidity (i.e. not booking tickets), I managed to miss out on catching My Bloody Valentine 3D on opening night this weekend, but the seats are now booked for Sunday and nothing short of a pickaxe in each eye socket will prevent me from watching it. After the glowing reviews from Final Girl and Vince A. Liaguno, it’s safe to say my expectations are pretty goshdarn high so, if I do come out of the cinema disappointed tomorrow, well, I’ll be very disappointed indeed.



The one upside of staying in was that I discovered The Paranormal Channel on Sky Digital. Being owned by Yvette Fielding of Most Haunted fame, I thought it was just a load of fake ghost documentaries and... okay, it is really, but they’ve also started showing some pretty decent films around midnight each night. Recently there’s been How Awful About Allan, The Bat and The House of Seven Corpses (the latter of which I included in Sham Shocktober last year). And coming up this week are Demons, Night of the Living Dead, The Corpse Grinders and – wait for it – Night Train to Terror! Maybe I’ll stay in tomorrow night after all.*

*As IF!

Crooked House

“The only way to improve that property, sir, is to raze it to the ground and sow the land with salt!”


Here’s something that probably would’ve made my Top Horror of 2008 list if I’d watched it in time; but the made-for-TV Crooked House was only screened during Christmas week, by which time I was stranded at Chicago airport sipping margaritas in Las Vegas... Dammit, BBC, you’re never going to make it onto end-of-year lists if you carry on like that!

Remember those bloody brilliant horror anthologies that Amicus churned out in the 70s, like Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt? Well, Crooked House is a modern take on the subgenre, written by Mark Gatiss of the creepy/funny TV series The League of Gentlemen. There’s two ways of enjoying Crooked’s spookiness: either in three 30-minute instalments (as it was originally screened over three nights on BBC Four) or as an omnibus TV-movie edition. And we all know that TV movies rule, so that’s how I decided to catch up with it.

Now, when I say “modern take”, I genuinely mean it’s something a bit new and original in style, as opposed to a straightforward pastiche of the Amicus approach (which the League of Gentlemen had already done – superbly – in their 2000 Christmas special). Without giving too much away, Crooked House actually ties its tales together in its third part in rather a neat way, sorta like Pulp Fiction but without all the coke and cameos. Anyway, Crooked House is much more than the sum of its parts. And, without sounding too crass, let’s take a look at its parts.

As with all anthology movies, you get your wraparound story – that’s the bread of the anthology sandwich or, to put it literally, the “wrap” that goes “around” the tasty filling. Here, it’s the story of high school History teacher Ben (Lee Ingleby), who’s popped into his local museum with a mysterious artefact dug up in his back garden. The curator (Mark Gatiss himself, sporting a convincing Scottish accent) believes it to be a doorknocker from the now demolished Geap Manor, an old house that “drew evil to it like a sponge draws in water” – or, to stick with our analogy, like a sandwich draws in water if you, say, drop it in the bath. Anyway, Ben wants to hear more – about the house’s history, that is, not the porous properties of sponge – which is lucky for us or it’d be a pretty boring film. Cue flashback!

Part One: The Wainscoting


Wainscoting, in case you’ve never lived in an English country manor, is wood panelling on an interior wall, and it’s at the centre of the horrors for Geap’s owner in 1786, Joseph Bloxham (Phillip Jackson). He’s having the place refurbished, after making his fortune on the back of some dubious business deals that haven’t gone down too well with the local townsfolk. Still, the place looks simply marvellous with its fancy new paintwork... If only those strange blotches would stop appearing on the walls, accompanied as they are by strange noises from behind the panelling. As it turns out, it’s all down to a nasty secret and some very poorly sourced building materials...

Part Two: Something Old


Another nasty secret lurks in the background of the second story, set in 1927, when heir to Geap Manor, Felix (Ian Hallard), is busy romancing the lovely Ruth. She’s a little lower on the social ladder than his family might be used to, but Felix thinks she scrubs up simply spiffingly. At a costume party held at the house, the couple announce their engagement – which doesn’t go down too well with some of the guests. But the only one Ruth’s really worried about is the mysterious, veiled bride she keeps glimpsing in the shadows. Everyone else is in high spirits, however, and it’s all fun and games. At least until the lights go out...

Part Three: The Knocker


Welcome back to the present, where Ben (remember him?) isn’t quite the heir to Geap Manor exactly, but it seems that his townhouse is built on the land where it once stood. This would explain how the old doorknocker turned up in his garden, although not the tortured expression on its twisted face. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to hang it on his front door, but that’s what Ben does. And soon comes a loud knocking in the middle of the night...

Following the pattern of the best anthologies, Crooked House uses its first story as a nice warm-up for the chills that follow, then gradually ramps up the fear towards a deliciously nasty pay-off. Thus, The Wainscoting is the least disturbing of the three tales but Gatiss fills it with period dialogue I just couldn’t get enough of, and the revelation when it comes unsettles like a comfortably creepy M.R. James tale.

Something Old is, simply put, a great ghost story. Economically written (there’s almost enough plot here for a full-length feature but it flits by), it relies on character to draw you in and, like the first part, is terrifically acted. It’s almost a disappointment when we segue into part three and leave its charmingly spooky world – or, at least, it would be if The Knocker didn’t immediately grip with its present-day mystery, leading to a chilling resolution that’s all the more effective because Gatiss allows you to work some of it out for yourself.

I won’t claim that Crooked House is the scariest ghost story of all time or anything but I spent most of it enjoying the all-too-rare feeling of tingles running up (and down!) my spine. And I didn’t even have my Prestigio Massage Chair switched on. The idea of period horror on a BBC Four budget may conjure up a few chills before you even get to the proper thrills, but everything about this worked for me, and I think it’s probably entirely down to Mark Gatiss’s devilishly intelligent writing and enviable understanding of the genre. I can only imagine what kind of amazing sandwiches he’d make if he opened up a deli.

Rating: 4/5

Number 6 Has Left The Village and Khan Has Spit His Last Breath At Thee

We in geekdom have lost two titans. Today, both Patrick McGoohan and Ricardo Montalban passed away.

Patrick McGoohan was perhaps best known for his role as Number Six on the British TV classic "The Prisoner", a show that he co-created. Viewers first saw him as secret agent John Drake when CBS imported the show "Danger Man" from Britain. He went on to write, direct and co-star in a few episodes of "Columbo", for which he won an Emmy. The last major role that he played was King Edward Longshanks in "Braveheart". On a more personal note, he portrayed Doctor Paul Ruth in David Cronenberg's "Scanners", a film that I've mentioned quite a few times in this blog. When I watched this again last week and McGoohan walked on stage, I couldn't help but think "When will someone have the good sense to cast him again?"

Ricardo Montalban is most famous for his role as Mr. Rourke on "Fantasy Island". However, for me, Ricardo Montleban will now and forever shall be Khan Noonian Singh, a product of twentieth century genetics and the best villain that the Star Trek universe has ever seen. I have rewatched Star Trek II recently and it still stands as the best of the Star Trek films. Montalban also played a key role in the "Planet of the Apes" sequels.

Farewell, gentlemen. You definitely made the world a better place.

T. Jakes Vs. T. Perry; 6 Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other


Which means to say, what's the difference?

There are way more similarities then differences, for sure, but there are some distinct separations that make me prefer one (albeit only very slightly!) over the other...more on that in a bit...

Received this from Kim over at the Punkin Patch in my email:

Hey IW:

A friend of mine just sent me a link to the trailer of Tyler Perry's next movie "Madea Goes to Jail" (http://www.madeagoestojailmovie.com/). I don't know if you've seen or not but it looks like standard TP fare. I am beginning to wonder if Tyler Perry likes women. In all his movies some distressed, abused, down on her luck woman always has to be saved by a "good man". Usually the good man is 'light-skinded'. But this time he chose a chocolate brother Derek Luke to be the savior. And why do all these women have to either be a drug-addict, single momma with babies by different men, and now a prostitute??? Between him and the good Bishop TD Jakes (his new movie looks like its putting down professional black women who choose career over poppin out babies for their poor, long-suffering good man), I don't think these men have much love for the sistas. I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks!

Kim

From IW: Hmmm. Let me begin by saying this...I have to admit, Perry playing Madea usually doesn't bother me (tho it seems to infuriate a lot of men), but for some reason these pix were positively creepy to me. For the first time I got a flash of repulsion that the most vocal men on the subject must be feeling...it seemed...downgrading in some way.

I know, I know--we have discussed Perry many times on this blog, and for the new readers, I have made it clear that his films do not move me. I don't know if it's because I was raised Catholic that I can't relate, as I find his stories simplistic, trite, formulaic, repetitive, unrealistic, and ultimately just plain boring. I have no problem with others enjoying them, tho, and I let it lie there....but if he never made another project ever again, I would not be one to miss him for a second.


I have never really discussed T.D. Jakes and his films (well, I've only seen one until this new one). I thought "Woman, Thou Art Loosed" was absolutely awe-inspiring in it's awfulness; besides the cinematography and editing equating to the works of an 8 year old. But the storyline, a woman who is the victim of incest by her stepfather who is made out to be the villain instead of him, until everyone, (including said sick raping pedophile) comes to forgiveness and redemption, without anyone--except for the real victim-- suffering or being punished at any point. I found it disgusting and irresponsible, further perpetuating the "act like it never happened" protocol in the black community.

But at least T.D. Jakes' situations are based in realism, which is a lot more than I can say for Perry, and his films give pause for thought here and there. Yes, Tyler and Jakes' movies have a very faith based gospel flavoring, and the "good man can cure all" morals are getting very tired, cause we all know very well that it usually isn't that black and white. It is also possible for a single Black woman not to have multiple social and personality issues, which are central themes in both of their projects. And I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I just don't feel like forgiving some folks, and I don't want it hammered in my head over and over again that I must do it at all costs.

But I almost (and almost is a big deal for me) enjoyed "Not Easily Broken". I went in with low expectations for my typical superficial reasons--I knew Taraji P. Henson's weave was going to be way off the wack-o-meter, and I cannot emphasize enough in this lifetime how much I can. not. stand. Kevin Hart. Who the f*ck told this dude that he was funny? If anyone out there thinks he is, please drop a comment about why you do--I'd be very, very interested to know.


But I digress....the other thing that made me skeptical is that Taraji's acting most of the time rubs me the wrong way...it is sometimes just...too much. Her black chick yelling makes me want to leave the theatre at some point. She is in all of her glory with that here, and it is starkly noticeable against Morris Chestnut's (looking foin as hayell!) very low-key steelo, but she makes up for it at the end with some quieter, thoughtful moments, so I forgave her. Bill Duke (who directed), a huge fave of mine, also made me a bit more hopeful.

For those of you that don't know, "Not Easily Broken" is the semi-classic situation of a married couple growing in two separate directions, one having boo-jee ambitions, while the other one preferring a simpler life. A car accident changes their relationship and stretches it to the breaking point, though the injury was pretty slight in my opinion to cause all the drama.

But at least there were realistic situations that I could relate to, always absent with me with Perry. Mother-in-law blues (played with an off the hook hilarity and realism by Black film staple Jenifer Lewis), keeping up with the Jones', hiding behind appearances, the importance of knowing most of us are exactly the same (even the ones we hate the most) are all addressed here. And yes, forgiveness was the key theme and moral in this film, but at least this time I didn't feel like gagging up my Raisinets when it was brought about, despite all of the hellacious cheap soap opera music abound on the screen.

I say a definite rent, if you're into this sort of thing.


Here is the trailer for "Madea Goes To Jail"; proceed at your own risk....

The Two Davids




During my prep work for editing our first short film, I determined that I needed to get inside Chris' headspace as much as possible. When I told Chris my plan, he stated that his headspace is, in fact, a trap. The plan was to read the work of Jorge Luis Borges (still a work in progress, as I've only read one of his stories thus far), read film criticism and see as many of Chris' favourite films as humanly possible. This would help me establish a common vocabulary between Chris and myself.

In regards to film criticism, I have a few books in my collection that I've been meaning to get to for awhile but just haven't found the time until now. One example is Dr. Mark Kermode's in-depth analysis on "The Exorcist", which was released through the British Film Institute. "The Exorcist" is a favourite of Chris' and mine. After reading the book, I watched the film and documentary on the making of the film (also written and hosted by Dr. Kermode).

After completing my "Exorcist" cycle, I read a book about the work of David Cronenberg, who has been a touchstone for me since the eighth grade (when my parents started to let me watch "R" rated movies). I started with "The Dead Zone" and "The Fly". These films were both very accessible and easy to grasp. As time passed, I began to see more of his films. My friend Jerry had copies of "Shivers", "Rabid", "Scanners" and "Videodrome". When I was in college, I rented "Dead Ringers", "Naked Lunch" and "eXistenZ". After I graduated and was gainfully employed, I added Cronenberg's films to my DVD library.



Over the past few weeks, I've been revisiting his work, starting with "The Brood", "Scanners" and "A History of Violence". Most of Cronenberg's films share an economy of storytelling. His films very rarely go over 90-100 minutes in length. Furthermore, all of his films have sophisticated narratives. However, he uses very simple methods to convey his ideas. A prime example of this is in "Scanners". As mentioned in my "12 Movies Meme" essay, telepaths are fighting in the streets of Toronto. Telepaths "read" other human beings (and each other) by joining their nervous systems with their subjects. A normal Hollywood blockbuster film would invest a lot of time and money in eye-popping special effects to convey this concept. Not Cronenberg, though. He uses a very simple crossfade editing technique. We start with a close-up on the telepath's face and slowly fade into a close-up on the face of the telepath's subject. He repeats this a few times to convey the idea that their minds are joining. This is simple, to the point and VERY effective.

That's not to say that Cronenberg is against using special effects. Many of his films are known for their ground breaking visual effects. However, he uses them only when appropriate. The most famous examples of his visual effects can be found in "Scanners" (the exploding head at the beginning of the movie), "Videodrome" (the bulging television and the stomach VCR), "Naked Lunch" (the bug typewriter and the Mugwumps) and "eXistenZ" (the bone gun). (Incidentally, CGI effects did not appear in a Cronenberg film until "eXistenZ". They were used for a brief scene that lasted a few seconds.) Cronenberg has been the subject of many discussions between Chris and I, a common obsession.

Another of Chris' obsessions is the work of David Lynch. If memory serves, this is one of our first topics of discussion when we met. Lynch is a filmmaker that, until recently, I have only had a brief experience with. My first exposure to Lynch was his adaptation of "Dune". His TV show "Twin Peaks" was popular when I was in high school, but I never watched it. My next Lynch experience was when I rented "Lost Highway" during college. I liked it. I was impressed with its nightmarish feel. I didn't really understand any of it, though. Finally, I rented "Mulholland Drive" a few years ago and fell in love with it.



I would describe my experience with and knowledge of David Lynch's work to be fleeting at best. I decided that I needed to change this if I was going to work with Chris. I asked his advice on where to start and he suggested "Blue Velvet". After work on one early December night, I turned off the lights and popped it into my DVD player. At first, I was impressed with the actors' performances, but not with the film itself. It felt dated to me, a derelict of the eighties. Then, I came upon the Dean Stockwell scene. This is where our hero Jeffrey Beaumont (played by Kyle Machlachlan), is kidnapped and forced to go on a nightmarish roadtrip with the deadly Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and his crew. They visit Frank's friend Ben (Dean Stockwell) and drink beer. Jeffrey is roughed up by Booth and company. The tension is palpable. Then, just when I think that Jeffrey is going to be murdered, Booth shouts the phrase "In dreams!". Ben puts a cassette in the stereo, picks up a construction lamp and starts lip-synching to "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison. I couldn't move. I was mesmerized and couldn't take my eyes off of the screen. I finished watching the movie. I liked it but couldn't put my finger on why, especially given my initial reaction before "In Dreams". That scene stuck with me for days.

Without giving it more thought, I decided to go with my gut and watch more Lynch. I dove into the deep end and watched his latest film, "Inland Empire". This is three hours of exposure to David Lynch's Id, his unfettered psyche. This took me a little longer to digest , about two days to sift through. I didn't understand it, but I liked it. Again, I couldn't put my finger on why. After "Inland Empire", I watched his documentary "Lynch One" (filmed during the making of "Inland Empire"). This is a peak into Lynch's film method, which heavily involves transcendental meditation.

Over Christmas break, I took the plunge and purchased the newly released box set collection of his work called "The Lime Green Box". A few nights ago, I watched his debut "Eraserhead" for the first time. My experience with this was the same as "Inland Empire" and "Lost Highway": I don't understand it, but I really like it. Last night, I watched "The Elephant Man", which is one of the most moving films that I've seen. I cried several times throughout. I texted Chris and finally declared "I LOVE David Lynch".

Lynch and Cronenberg both came up in films at around the same time. At one time, they both shared a surrealistic narrative style. Surrealism is very present in "Videodrome", "Scanners" and "Naked Lunch". Over the past few years, Cronenberg has gradually left surrealism in favour of a narrative that is more straightforward. His last two films, "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises", are prime examples of this straightforward narrative. It is important to note that he is using this to deal with the themes that he has spent his entire career exploring. In contrast, Lynch has delved even further into surrealism. "Lost Highway", "Mulholland Drive" and especially "Inland Empire" eschew straightforward storytelling. Lynch uses symbolism, metaphor and dream logic to convey his ideas. However, Lynch has also, on occasion, told very straightforward stories. Examples of this include "The Elephant Man" and "The Straight Story".

Another common thread between Lynch and Cronenberg is that they have influences outside of cinema. There are no obvious references to other filmmakers. Cronenberg pulls his inspiration from literature. Philip K. Dick can be seen in "Scanners" and "The Brood". (Cronenberg also worked for over a year developing the Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale". Due to creative differences, he left the project. It eventually became "Total Recall".) William S. Burroughs is a writer that still heavily influences Cronenberg. "Naked Lunch" is an adaptation of Burroughs' seminal novel. Finally, Dostoyevsky was an influence on "Eastern Promises". In regards to Lynch, it is my belief that he is primarily influenced by art and music. Furthermore, Lynch has stated that he gets ideas from transcendental meditation, which he has practiced twice a day for the last 32 years.

This is in no way the last time that the Two Davids will be mentioned in this blog. I plan on revisiting more of Cronenberg's films and I still have a LOT of Lynch to watch.

Ever onward.

More later.

The House Sitter

As promised last month, here’s a little look at one of Tori Spelling’s more recent TV movie outings...



And I tell you: I only have to look at this poster for The House Sitter to know that everything is right with the world. Tori is centre stage, dressed in cast-offs from Paris Hilton’s wardrobe (but we won’t hold that against her), obviously starring as a Nancy Drew-like figure who’s no doubt investigating the spooky mansion behind her, over which brooding, good-looking men glare in moody monochrome. It’s thrilling, it’s chilling, it’s riddled with typos (Jonhatan? House Sitter instead of The House Sitter?)... In short, it’s TV movie heaven. Scratch that. It’s heaven. Period!

Should you require any further evidence that The House Sitter was Meant To Be, just check out the casting of Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott – husband and wife in real life. Because, of course, Tori is now Tori Spelling-McDermott, and referred to as such in the credits. And I hear she won’t answer to anything else!

Mrs Spelling, then, is an artist with painter’s block who answers an advert on DumbThingsToDo.com for a housesitter required to look after the home of eccentric coin collector Frank (Jonathan Higgins) while he’s away on business. Also staying in the house is Frank’s cross-gendered female cat, Fred, who’s “desperate for female company” (this is never explained, and nor do I think ever could be). Tori takes one look at the wine cellar beautiful manor and signs up. After all, it’ll provide the perfect opportunity for her to change into dungarees and scribble giant pictures of the garden – not to mention fall in love with hunky plumber Phil (Dean McDermott) after a mysterious burst water pipe bursts mysteriously all over the kitchen floor.

But, ah, sweet TV-movie plot-twists... because no sooner have Mr and Mrs Spelling-McDermott shacked up in mansion-house bliss than Frank calls to let her know that he’s finished up his business early and is on the way home right this very fucking minute! So Tori has to kick Phil the Plumber out of bed and pack him off in his van... Just in time, too, because Frank is back with some valuable rare coins. Oh, and the scary notion that he’s going to marry her.

Tori’s less keen on the idea and does a runner to the address on Phil’s business card. But that turns out to be a motel... Gross! Can she trust someone who’s been lying to her all along about his skanky abode? If only she’d managed to actually sell some paintings – then she wouldn’t be in this mess!

As a TV movie thriller, The House Sitter teeters deliriously on the edge of brilliance, with an accumulation of plot twists that eventually converge to put Tori (plus two innocent friends who turn up on the doorstep!) at the mercy of an insane killer. You’ve probably worked out by now that either Frank or Phil is a bit of a madman, but you’ll have fun figuring out the hows, whos and whys – and, really, it’s a fairly suspenseful affair all round.

What doesn’t quite work is the pacing, which involves some highly unnecessary fade-outs to “the next morning” – never the best technique, especially during chase scenes. Thankfully, there’s loads to make up for that, beginning with the great guilty-pleasure casting of Tori and Dean as torrid lovers. Not to mention Fred the cat. Meow!

Rating: 3/5

Brief Update

My analysis of "Apocalypse Now" is on indefinite hold. Not to worry, this is due to the fact that my brain has been hijacked by two master filmmakers. I'm currently working on an essay that will discuss this. Hopefully, it'll be ready to post within the next day or so (fingers crossed).

For now, I'll give you the essay title and let you ponder who I am referring to:

The Two Davids

In other news, still waiting for my chance to show Chris the rough-cut. In the meantime, I've started work on another short. This one will be shot and conceptualized by me. It's still in the early stages.

More later.

Adventures In Palookaville...


There was this guy that I used to date back in the day, Thomas Monagham (very Irish, right?). I use his real name, cause if he ever happens upon this blog I would be very glad to see/hear from him.

Anyway, Thomas and I met on the subway in New York. Actually he just really mashed on me and charmed me to death in just 5 minutes (till my stop), so I just had to see him at least one more time. He was an actor, and on our first date we went to a Greta Garbo Festival. I wasn't really into it at all at first, but then I actually really enjoyed it.

Thomas was always showing me new things in film, and he was very much the actor in style and looks in the vein of the holy covenant of the Mickey Rourke (when he was hot), Gary Oldman (when he was hot), Eric Roberts (when he was hot), and Sean Penn (when he was hot) mold, and he really exposed me to the works of all four actors. So when I saw 3 movies starring each one of them over the weekend, it led me to think of him and compelled me to post about them.


First up was "State Of Grace", which I had always mistakenly thought was a military film. Not at all. It's Penn as a deep undercover cop from Hell's Kitchen who comes back to his old neighborhood, with his old gangster cronies (including Gary Oldman), and basically has to be a rat fink.

Man, Sean used to be hot to death--I could see why Madonna married him. He wasn't handsome in the traditional sense, but the way he wore his hair, the way he dressed, even the way he smoked; his bad boy swagger was off the meters. The movie was pretty much a by numbers crime story, but Oldman and Penn are so charismatic it keeps you transfixed. There is a beautiful juxtaposition at the end between NY's famous St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Penn's bad ass high-noon style showdown, all in slo-mo. Rent it just to see that sequence alone.


I also rewatched "The Pope Of Greenwich Village", which I hadn't seen in years, starring Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. For those of you that don't know, there was actually a time when Eric Roberts was a much bigger star than his sister, Julia Roberts. How the mighty have fallen. It was a bit distracting to look at him sometimes, cause they look so much alike, but I digress.

Rourke and Roberts are cousins that get fired from a restaurant for Roberts' stealing. Roberts, though a complete and total airhead, comes up with a scheme to rob a safe, which they find out (too late) belongs to a mobster.

This movie has been a fave for many cause the characters are so memorable, and it is a real slice of New York life in the 80's. I say see it if you like films about New York, mobsters, and lovable losers.



I saved the best for last, which is Mickey Rourke as "The Wrestler". Holee sh*t this man can act. If you didn't know it was Mickey, you would swear you were watching someone's life. Since this is a Black Cinema blog, I won't go on and on the way I'd like to about this film.

Suffice it to say that between Darren Aronofsky and Rourke, there can't help to be some amazing sh*t. There is a scene where Rourke begins work as a deli worker in a supermarket, and for the couple of minutes before he starts his very first shift, it is just as taught, anxiety ridden, and fraught with anticipation as when he goes into a ring for a match. If a movie can convey that linear polarity, you know you have something very special before you on the screen.


The commonality of these films was that in the working class tribes of the Irish and Italians hoods and the Wrestling World, being loyal and working together came first and foremost. Before anything. And having dreams, and seeing them slowly die, and coming to the harsh realization that you may actually live out your days as a loser, compels people to do extraordinary and desperate things--some good, but a lot of it...not so much.

Here is the trailer for State Of Grace:



And for "The Pope Of Greenwich Village":






ps: if you don't know the term "palookaville", ask an old new yorker

When, When, When, Will It End?


I was going to post some more about the movies I saw over the weekend, but it's difficult for me to talk about frivolous things when I'm right here in Oakland in the midst of the aftermath of the murder, yes, murder of Oscar Grant. In case you don't know, Oscar Grant was shot and killed, while laying face down, in what some say were handcuffs, in Oakland by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police. Yes, transit police.


It is ironic that just a few weeks ago I posted about my own experience with the BART police slamming my newborn son's head on the trunk of a car here.

During that time, I met a man whose son was also murdered by the BART police. His son was sixteen years old, and was falsely accused of stealing a Walkman because "he fit a description". When the police officer questioned him, the young man, knowing his innocence, walked away from the officer, and was shot from the back by the cop, killing him.

He was also unarmed, minding his own business, just as I was, when these animals came upon him, just like they did to Oscar Grant, scarring families and lives for eternity. The father always carried around this huge scrapbook of his son under his arm, filled with newspaper articles, letters, pictures, and depositions. I was so filled with sorrow for him every time we met, because I knew that book was his own personal cross to bear. It brings tears to my eyes even writing about it now. As far as I know, the father never received any type of justice for his son, just as BART wrote a letter regarding my baby's slammed head and stint in foster care as "justified" because "the officer felt threatened". I couldn't talk about my experience until very recently, and a part of my life was taken away from me that day, never to return.


Was this piece of shit that shot Oscar Grant "threatened" as well? I'm sure if there were no real witnesses, that would have been the lie told for the thousandth time by those dogs. Thank the Most High for video phones and YouTube. This gross abuse of power is absolutely sickening, and is just one of many examples of how far we have to go in equal justice. I learned through a police-watch group that the BART police are monitored by NO ONE, and therefore ARE NOT held accountable for ANYTHING that they do.

Until now. Why the fuck is anyone killed, or having their children taken away, just for riding a public train? The BART police are, in essence, a bunch of wild cowboys in uniform in my opinion, and it is way past time for a rebellion like this to happen regarding the suffering they have put on Black riders for years.

Yes, there were fires, and protests, and a damn near riot, and I'm sorry for anyone that suffered because of it. But I am also, to be very, very honest, almost gleeful that the whole country can finally see what has been swept under the rug, and covered over with dirt for so very long.

And oh, Mr. Murdering Cop? Mr. Johannes Mehserle? Sorry honey, resigning is not nearly enough. No freaking way. You should be in jail, even as I write this, never to see the light of day again, just like Oscar Grant, who begged you not to harm him for the sake of his young daughter, will never see the light of day ever again. May you burn forever.



Here is some footage of one of the protests, cause I couldn't find it in me to post the videos of his murder, but you can find it all over the net:



UPDATE: Spotted on Slant Truth from RaceWire:

5 Things You Can Do Right Now About the Oscar Grant Shooting

1. Digg the story so that the national media can pick up on it

2. Contact BART Director Carole Ward Allen and demand that 1) the officers involved be taken off duty without pay and charged and fully prosecuted; 2) there be an independent investigation of the shooting that includes a review of training and hiring practices; and 3) BART establish an independent residents’ review board for the police Call her at 510-464-6095 or email the BART Directors at BoardofDirectors@bart.gov

3. Call the BART police to complain about the officers’ conduct and demand immediate action: Internal Affairs: Sergeant David Chlebowski 510.464.7029,dchlebo@bart.gov; Chief of Police: Gary Gee 510.464.7022, ggee@bart.gov

Call them toll free at 877.679.7000 and press the last four digits of the phone number you wish to reach.

4. Talk it up on your blogs, networks and talk radio shows (call Michael Baisden 877-6BADBOY or Rev. Al, etc. to get this on the national radar)

5. Stay tuned for other actions, protests, etc., especially if you are in the Bay.