Archive for November 2011

It's the final COUNTDOWN

Do do do dooo

Do do do do dooo

Do do do dooo

Do do do do do do dooo

Et cetera.

The final countdown for what, you're asking? Why, for the RPG Kickstarter, of course! It is less than a week until it's all over (December 4). My, how time flies when you're something something.

But! It's still going strong, and the stronger it goes, the more RPG goodness I can make. As of this writing, there are still amazing incentive rewards to be had, like:

  • RPG page 41- original art- signed by moi and Felicia Day

  • The original art for the alternate cover to Pocket Hams and Troll Fats: RPG Collected, Volume 1 by the amazing Chrissie Zullo

  • A sketch of an RPG character by Fiona effing Staples (why, even I don't know who she's going to draw- ooh, mystery)

  • A page of original art from the forthcoming Dragon Age digital comic drawn by the mighty Chad Hardin (comic published by BioWare and Dark Horse)

  • The opportunity for you to be made into a super hero by actress/writer Brea Grant- she'll sketch ya and give you super powers and all sorts of cool stuff

  • RPG prints by me, Renae De Liz, and Meng Zhang

  • AND a super secret gonna-be-revealed soon reward that might have something to do with pocket ham. That's right.

So become a backer! Tell your friends and your "social" "networking" cyber comrades! It's good for your charisma AND your speechcraft, I swear.

The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep is a true chameleon and continues to amaze with her dead-on portrayals of Julia Childs, Karen Blixen, Miranda Priestly (a.k.a. Anna Wintour), Karen Silkwood and Rachel Samstat (a.k.a. Nora Ephron).

A dead ringer as Thatcher
Next up for the much heralded greatest American actress living today is the role of former Prime Minister of England's Margaret Thatcher in The Weinstein Company's The Iron Lady. From her bouffant hair to power blue suits, Streep is already garnering early Oscar predictions for a seventeenth nod (she has only won twice). Early word is the film is not without its share of controversy (such as her battle with dementia) in the biopic of one of Great Britain's most famous and divisive residents of No. 10 Downing. It should be a great story of yet another strong woman who smashed the glass ceiling. Here here.

Streep with film husband Jim Broadbent
The real Margaret Thatcher with husband Denis

The film debuts December 30th and you can see the trailer here. You can also read about the life and career of Streep in my article for Celebrated Living.

Photo Credits:  Alex Bailey for Pathe Productions/The Weinstein Company, Celebrated Living

Performing a Public Service:Cab Calloway in The Blues Brothers

Whatever one may think of John Landis or Dan Aykroyd as either artists or people, they both deserve kudos for preserving a modern day performance of Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway on film in The Blues Brothers (1980).   Aykroyd wrote him into the script and Landis gave him full attention for a lavishly filmed performance on stage.  Watching the movie the other day on Netflix, and seeing John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd perform with Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, John Lee Hooker* and Ray Charles, I wondered to myself, "Did they appreciate the talent amassed for this film that would never be together again?"

Of course they did.  How could they not?  I've never been a cult-follower of The Blues Brothers like many others (though I do like it) but I'm glad it exists.  I'm glad it's out there and so many performers who weren't connected to film got a chance to be preserved on film forever after.  Besides, where else can you find Charles Napier, Carrie Fisher, Twiggy, John Candy, Paul Reubens, Steve Lawrence and Henry Gibson all playing bit player back-up in the same place at the same time?   If there were ever a film whose preservation of talent on celluloid surpasses the importance of the film itself, this might be the one.

*He doesn't actually perform with them but he's there just the same.

The Movie's Good, I Just Don't Like It

"Greg said it's not about that so shut up, stupid!"
The laws of film criticism would seem to dictate that when a movie is good, demonstrably good, we should like it or, at least, appreciate it in all its glorious excellence.  I'm not talking about those recent brouhahas and kerfuffles and, dare I say it, foofaraws that erupted after that guy wrote that piece about how he didn't like those movies that were supposed to be movies he liked but he found them boring and then a bunch of critics were all like, "I hate you!" and went running to their rooms and then some other guy wrote another piece where he even mentioned some friends of mine (in a very positive light, of course) and talked about how everyone needed to chill or whatever word the kids are using these days to denote "ignore your intellectual outrage and keep your mouth shut like a good little soldier."

So, yeah, anyway, it's not about that.

No, it's about a movie that seems well-done in every possible way but is still quite unlikeable.  The writing is literate and tight, the plot works well, the acting is uniformly good, the direction clear and efficient, the musical score, editing, photography, sound, etc. are all top-drawer, as my non-existent prep school friends would say (their names are "Chip" and "Skip").  And yet, I simply don't like them.  And I don't mean "it's not my cup of tea" (Chip and Skip again), I mean, "Damn!  I really hate this movie!"  See, that's kind of confusing because when a movie has everything going for it, it seems like somehow, someway, I should like it.  But that's not the case nearly as often as it should be.

Back in 1996, everyone in the world of film criticism (well, it seemed that way but it was before aggregate shit sites like Rotten Tomatoes so what in the hell do I know) was lying on the floor recovering from spasms of nirvana after watching The English Patient.  Seriously, I'd read a review and the critic would be all like, "English Patient? Touch me... there."   So I saw it and found it to have fantastic acting, a really tight script, good clean direction and breathtaking cinematography.  And, brother, did I hate that fucking thing!   And I don't really know why because I've never taken the time to go back and watch it again which I probably should because it seems like I'm constantly hating or loving movies that I end up reversing my opinion on in weeks, days, sometimes hours.  I do this because, as best I can tell, I've got some kind of mental problem but, you know what, that's for another post.

So, again, I can't claim The English Patient is bad.  I think everyone involved should be proud of their accomplishments on it.  It's not easy to make a movie, really it's not and something like The English Patient shows the kind of skill and talent that we should all be so lucky to possess.  It takes time, patience and a butt-load of money and I'm not here to dismiss any of the movies discussed in this post, just say that, inexplicably, I don't like them while acknowledging they're all well-done.

"This movie is bullshit! Good popcorn, though."
What got me thinking about this again was my recent viewing of The Road.  Is it well done?  I'd say, exceptionally so.  The post-apocalyptic landscape is, for one, so convincing, so dead, so grey, so lifeless that I'd swear the art director and set designer had somehow seen the coming end of the world and replicated it for the film (how they would have done this I'm still working out but I'm strongly leaning towards a time-helmet of some kind).  The lead performances by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smitt-McPhee are both excellent and the story has a lean, efficient quality to it.   A no-frills kind of feeling that is perfectly fitting for such an enterprise.  And yet, by the end, I couldn't help but think the entire viewing was a complete and utter waste of my time.   I've felt that way ever since.  Here's what I got from it:  Nothing.

Maybe there's a slickness involved that I just don't connect with.  It's possible.  All the films that produce this kind of reaction in me feel perfectly done in some vague, technical way.  In fact, a lot of Best Picture winners fall into this category for me as well as almost the entire career of Ron Howard.  I see a Ron Howard movie and everything in them seems just right, you know?  As in, no chances taken, no going outside the constraints of the familiar, no bold exploration of new ideas.  They all have that prepackaged feel to them.  A sort of "Paint by the Numbers" where all the colors are right and in the right place but it feels forced, stiff, dead.

By contrast, when I watch something like Stroszek, it feels like Werner Herzog was making it up as he went.  And that feels great!  It's like he said, "Okay, let's film you driving away.  No! Wait!  Drive the truck in circles first.  Then get out.  Then get back in.  Set something on fire.  No!  Wait!  Is there some kind of crazy theme park or arcade around here?  What?  What's that?  Dancing chickens?  Perfect!  Let's go there and film that!"

It's the same when I watch early Scorsese.  Mean Streets and Taxi Driver have a dirty, messy, sloppy feel to them, a feel I really like.  The Aviator, on the other hand, is excellent on all levels but I just don't like it.  It feels so clean, so polished, so... so not Scorsese.  Same with The Departed.   All of these films, from The English Patient to (oh, let's pick a Howard film) Frost/Nixon seem so very uninspired.  They feel like the work of people who all know exactly what they're doing and they do it well but they don't let any part of themselves become a part of the equation.   It's like the recording of Born Free by Andy Williams (Huh? What?  Just bear with me, okay?).  In the song, he sings every note exactly as written and it's a running joke for my wife and me to take note of the one part in the song where he doesn't, the very last verse where, instead of singing the word "free" he kind of speaks it, boldly.  It's unintentionally funny because it's the one, single, solitary moment where he lets any kind of personality enter into his rendition.   Rather than phrasing the words to fit his feelings, emotions and instincts, like a Billie Holliday or Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra, he does exactly what he's supposed to do.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

"Nothing I said applies to me.  Now get off my lawn!"
So maybe that's it.  Maybe when a film does exactly what it's supposed to do, it turns me off.   Maybe that's why I'm a fan of so many scratchy, ugly, thrown-together movies from the seventies and so little a fan of so much from the eighties on.   From the eighties on, thanks to technology in filming as well as post-production editing and special effects, even crappy, low-rent movies have a slick, polished look to them.  But that can't be the whole story because as much as an Out of Africa, The Last Emperor, Shakespeare in Love, American Beauty or Chicago don't work for me, practically everything Hollywood did in the forties does and if anything ever fit the definition of "people who know exactly what they're doing and doing it well", it's Hollywood in the forties.  I mean, those guys and gals put together movies like Tin Lizzies rolling off of Henry Ford's assembly line and, somehow, most of them do feel inspired to me.  Maybe that's because they were inserting themselves into the films (oh shit, it's that theory -  RUN!  Save yourself before it takes over the whole discussion!).   Or maybe there are too many people involved in the post-production now to keep any kind of individual directorial vision up there on the screen for anyone to even notice.  Or maybe I'm just a grumpy old curmudgeon and this is the dumbest idea I've ever had for a post because, in the end, there can be no possible answer to the question, "How can a movie do everything right and feel so wrong?"

On the Set: The Great Gatsby

I posted back in March on the Warner Brothers remake of The Great Gatsby that is currently filming in Sydney, Australia. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the film stars Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Tobey Maguire as Nick and Leo DiCaprio in the title role of F. Scott Fitzgerald's popular novel. Here are a precious few shots from the set and you can already see the incredible period costumes designed by Catherine Martin (and wife of Luhrmann). DiCaprio makes a dashing Gatsby (as did Robert Redford in the seventies film version) and Mulligan is a perfect Daisy. This marks the Lurhmann and Martin team's second collaboration with DiCaprio as they filmed Romeo + Juliet in 1996.

Mulligan and DiCaprio

Leo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire 

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan

Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson

Sydney becomes Long Island in the twenties

Martin is also the film's production designer. A two time Academy Award winner (Moulin Rouge) and Tony Award winner for the set design of Broadway's La Boehme, "CM" has her own line of rugs, paints and wallpapers. Many of the sparrow and vine designs are inspired by her native Australia as well as Asian designs and traditional lace. I interviewed CM on the set of the film Australia several years ago and she is a dynamo --  it's no easy feat doing double duty with costume and production design. The mother of two was also getting ready to launch the Catherine Martin line as a natural extension of her film work. The line is distributed in Australia with Designer Rugs and Porter's Paints. (You can read more of the article on my website under Articles/Four Seasons magazine).

Martin and Luhrmann
Feathers Area Rug for Designer Rugs

Martin's Paint Line with Porter's Original Paints in Australia

Sparrow Wallpaper

The film will be distributed in 3D and premieres Christmas day of 2012. Needless to say, I can't wait.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo Images: New York Magazine, Warner Brothers, Catherine Martin, The Daily Mail

Facebooking the Demise of the Wicked Witch (of the East)

I imagine at this moment on Oz Twitter, #CelebratedTooSoon is trending wildly.

By the way, you just know when it comes time for the Mayor's re-election, his campaign's going to be all over the fact that both wicked witches died on his watch.

What I Learned Today

Mary Carlisle is still alive.  She was one of the WAMPAS baby stars and is the last remaining one.  Reading up on the WAMPAS baby stars is the kind of thing I actually do so, if you're not as weird as I am and are unfamiliar with them, simply go here.

Anyway, she's 99 and will turn 100 on February 3, 2012.  She was born almost 100 years ago but when she was born it had only been 86 years since Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died.  So there were people alive when she was born who were alive when Jefferson and Adams were alive.  On top of that, consider this:  86 years ago from this time, Joan Crawford was starting her Hollywood career in the silents and Charlie Chaplin was making The Gold Rush.   Wrap your head around that for a little while.

And while you're at it, visit this picture gallery for dozens of great photos of Mary Carlisle.

Ralph Fiennes, The Interview

He's been called a writer's actor, workaholic, heartthrob, sex symbol, thespian and complex. And that is just for starters.

Will the real Ralph Fiennes stand up? Read more about the charismatic British actor and his upcoming film Coriolanus (Weinstein Company) in my cover story for Celebrated Living. Charming and enormously talented, he had me at Quiz Show

Fiennes in The Constant Gardener

As Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show

As Amon Goth in Schindler's List

Director and star of Coriolanus

With Jennifer Lopez in Maid In Manhattan
Photo Credits: Celebrated Living, Weinstein Company, Universal Pictures.

And on a personal note, RIP Vali (1995-2011). You are missed more than you know.


YOU GUYS, what the heck? Why is Final Girl just sitting here like that one friend you have who insists on coming to every group event but never wants to do anything? You know the one. The one who stays behind when you all walk out to the end of the pier (or whatever it is you people do), or who decides to take a nap when you want to go out to eat, or who insists on a chain restaurant when she decides to come along. WHAT IS GOING ON?

Nothing is going on, that's what! I haven't watched a movie- horror or otherwise- since I watched The Ward. What's happening in the world of horror? I couldn't tell you, except something about a new Resident Evil movie? I think? Oh, and Argento's Dracula 3D, kind of, which I talked a bit about the last time I posted. The truth is, things have been very abnormal in The House That Dripped Final Girl (that sounds gross) since May or so, and I expect they will continue to be abnormal for the next month or so as I settle into a new abode. Sorry about that, but, you know. It's pretty weird for me, too. I feel like both Rumpy and the baby!

Dang it, now I want to watch Rumpelstiltskin.

Anyway, conditions aren't allowing me to watch a shit ton of movies and the such right now so I've been focusing on comics- my webcomic RPG in particular. If you and I are fake cyber friends (and if we're not, why aren't we?) then perhaps you know that I'm currently running a Kickstarter campaign to finance publication of a print edition of my comic and much, much more. It's going super well, but it runs until December 4th, so spread the word like You Can't Believe It's Not Butter! It's good karma, and also +5 charisma.

So that's that. I hope to get mah shiz together and be watching all the movies I have on the shelf just staring at me accusingly (Yes, I SEE YOU The Case of the Bloody Iris, and you too, all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies) in my off-hours from the comics-making. Life is weird, but life is good. I hope you can say the same. AWW.

Synthesized Accompaniment

I watched The Long Good Friday again about a month ago for the first time in years. I had forgotten how much movie music from the late seventies and early eighties relied so heavily upon pop-oriented synthesizer sounds, regardless of whether they fit the mood of what was on the screen or not. Listening to the opening and closing themes of The Long Good Friday, it seemed downright odd to choose such music for a gangster film until I thought of other eighties movies, like To Live and Die in L.A. and Manhunter, that also have heavy-handed synthesizer pop loudly ushering in the closing credits, despite wrapping up tragic loss or disturbing violence just moments before.

The funny thing is, watching the closing scene (several times over, no less), all I could think was, "Thank God!" I mean, seriously, there comes a time when you're just thrilled that every goddamn score under the sun in the late seventies/early eighties didn't sound like another John Williams rip-off.  The pop music may sound odd given what it's playing behind on the screen but it's such a signifier of its time and place, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Oh yeah, and this guy?

Damn!  Honestly.  Just, damn!

Silence is Golden: Spotlight on The Artist

Like Scotch, silent films for many are an acquired taste. It's a genre from a bygone era where the success of the film depended upon a great film score and believable performances as body language, expression and the ability not to overact is crucial. And like an Avedon portrait, the settings and costumes often look better in black and white.

Enter The Weinstein Company's latest entry in the genre, The Artist.

The Artist is the story of silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and the advent of the "talkies" in 1927 that marks the proverbial death knell for his career. His life intertwines with the young ingenue Peppy Miller (Bernice Bejo and wife of the film's director Michael Havanavicus) who plays a dancer hell bent on stardom. The French romance film is a great story of the rise and decline of stardom in early Hollywood and won Dujardin the Best Actor Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. (Even the Jack Russell terrier Uggy won the Palm Dog Award for best canine performance!). Viewers will also recognize actors John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller in supporting roles.

Bernice Bejo

Jean Dujardin

The actors at the Cannes Film Festival

Havanavicus studied silent films of the twenties and thought the genre would make a great movie, as they are tailor made for melodramas. He also wrote the screenplay in four months, researching archival photographs and drawing inspiration from the careers and films of actors Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo. Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford. It's a gutsy gamble and from the glowing reviews so far, it looks like one that will pay off.

Costume designer Mark Bridges dressed the actors and up to 200 extras in vintage costumes, both real and copies. Milliners were called upon to re-block and dust off vintage hats that spent decades in hatboxes. Vintage buffs will note that the garments were found at an array of Hollywood costume shops such as the Motion Picture Costume CompanyWestern Costume Company and Palace Costume Company.

Penelope Ann Miller

Bejo with Malcolm McDowell as the butler
There are literally generations who have never seen a silent film and hope they give this one a chance. And look at it this way, at least you won't have to worry about missing a line of dialogue due to the inconsiderate jerks talking and chomping on popcorn behind you.

The film opens in the U.S. on November 20th and internationally through December (it is already in theaters in France).

Join me on Tuesday, November 15th when I am a guest on Interior Design Chat. I will be taking questions on what design in films and television (and anything else you would like to ask!) Click the link to their website for details.

Photo Credits: The Weinstein Company

Pola's Back and You're Gonna Be In Trouble

80 years ago, in 1931, Pola Negri returned from Europe aboard the S.S. Paris to start her talking picture career in Hollywood after bad times in marriage and movies, with her most recent one, The Way of Lost Souls, her final silent film, not doing well at all.  After coming to Hollywood to act in sound pictures, and leaving again, her career went all over the map, including a period working for Universum Film AG (UFA) in France, then under the control of Joseph Goebbels, until she fled to America after the Nazis invaded.

Her career in Hollywood during the forties didn't go very far and within a few years, she retired.  Later, Billy Wilder would use her as the basis of the titular character Fedora in an old-fashioned mystery (Fedora, 1979) that I saw years ago and have been curious to see again for years but, sadly, it's unavailable.  Is it any good?  I have no idea.  I last saw it in 1979 but I'd love to see it again.

You Can't Stop What's Coming

Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Leslie Caron, Francis Ford Coppola, Maggie Smith, Joanne Woodward, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Glenda Jackson, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino.   Know what they all have in common?  They are all the names of actors and directors I grew up with as the big stars of the day and soon, sooner than you think, they're going to die.  Sorry for that, maybe I should have cushioned the blow more.

The cinematic stars, in front of and behind the camera, that I grew up with will soon be dead and not freakishly so, like John Belushi, in which the death is a shocking and tragic loss.  No, when they die, it won't be surprising.  No one will say "they were too young to die."  They will be in their seventies, eighties and nineties soon, very soon.  Some already are.  No one is very shocked when someone in their seventies, eighties or nineties dies.

In the last couple of years, I've already lost Peter Falk, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and a host of other actors that were the big stars of my youth.  The thing is, when a star dies, I often have little to say, not because I didn't care for them but because I didn't feel personally connected to them.  With Peter Falk, I did and it took me a few weeks to come up with a proper remembrance of him on this blog.  Charles "Bud" Tingwell and Edward Woodward felt the same way.  And I know others will feel more so.

Woody Allen, for instance.  If you don't like him, now's not the time to tell me because I'm here to simply say he means a lot to me.   So I'm not looking for a debate on merits or whether you agree on this movie or that, I'm saying his films, particularly ones like Manhattan, Stardust Memories, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose and Crimes and Misdemeanors are very powerful emotional experiences for me and when he goes it won't be the same as any other.  It will be a seismic shock to my sensibilities.

Robert De Niro will feel the same.  He's not quite seventy yet so I feel secure that he will be around a while longer but still, when he goes, a generous piece of my acting soul will go with him.

And I bring all of this up because I think, "Maybe I should start writing obituaries now, so I'm prepared when they go."  Or maybe that's a dumb idea.  Maybe I should just let it happen as it happens.

But, mainly, I think I bring it up because I realize I'm getting older.  Aren't we all?

It's a twin thing

There’s something about 1982’s TheThing (rating 4/5) that affects me now in ways that failed to grab me back when Ifirst encountered it as a teenager. It’s a cold, draughty and dragging film.It’s sludgy, unforgiving and a bit of an effort. It’s, well... brilliant,really. If you never thought a monster movie could feel in any way realistic,this one’ll leave you sprawled face-down in the ice. I’ve heard that wintercrews at Antarctic outposts watch it when all the home flights have left forcivilization. That’s pretty brave! We’re talking about a film where the onlycomic relief is the borderline hysteria brought on by its ever more extreme anddisgusting developments. Kurt Russell is incredible in it, delivering aperformance that’s 87% beard and cowboy hat, but which somehow holds the wholething together. Not that it’s in danger of falling apart: the idea’s neat, thescript solid, and John Carpenter’s direction note-perfect in its mixture ofchilly observation and steaming relish. You’ll probably have questionsafterwards, but that’s one of its strengths. It’s a film that encourages debate; that wants you to work at it and pick itapart. And then it wants you to puke.

The new The Thing(3/5) slavishly fills in the backstory of Carpenter’s original, attempting to explainhow each snowmobile came to be standing in which particular snow-coveredparking spot of that abandoned Norwegian base; how each individual icicleformed on each particular overhang; and many other thrilling enigmas barelyworth wasting another semicolon on. One thing it doesn’t explain is why the Thing itself – formerly an unutterablysquelchy dollop of melted face and hyperactive spaghetti – is now a smooth, shinydigital effect that never stands still long enough to let you get a decent lookat it. Neither does it explain why the Thing doesn’t just give all thatmutating a rest for, like, five minutes and pass itself off as a dog longenough to escape triumphantly into the wilderness like a more evil LittlestHobo... Hey, Miss Thing, I found myself thinking in a sassy voice, just rent Invasion of the Body Snatchers if youwant to see how a self-replicating pod-person really gets shit done!

All of which got me wondering why this Thing had to be called “The Thing” again, when even “The ThingAgain” would’ve been a better title. This is, after all, a proper prequel ratherthan a remake – a touch of mild novelty surely worth pointing out by way of amore imaginative title. I suggest The NewThing... Oh no, that’s wrong. Technically, it’s The Old Thing... although that makes it sound like the originalfilm again. How about Before the Thing?First Things First? The Thing-ummy? Baby Thing? That Thing You Do? (Hmm, maybe The Thing wasn’t such a bad title, after all...) 

It’s not a bad film, either, being enjoyable in the mannerof a Resident Evil movie, andchallenging us to accept Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a leading 1980s palaeontologistin a way that’s so serenely audacious it’s actually entertaining in itself. Asa monster movie, it’ll likely be as much of a relic as The Relic in ten years’ time, having had as much deep impact on thesci-fi genre as, er Deep Impact. But,if the worst it does is drive you back into the squiggly arms of the original Thing, then that’s no bad thing. (Hmm...The Bad Thing? No... stop that now!)

Let’s turn our attention instead to Seconds Apart (2/5), a sort of telekinetic torture-porn slasher moviethat weds Carrie and Willard in ways that make less sensethan this sentence. The film features Edmund and Gary Entin as twins – bothevil, both psychic, and both able to command other people to kill themselvesagainst their will – and Orlando Jones as a detective who’s scarred bothphysically and mentally after leaving his wife to frazzle in a house fire. Saiddetective is investigating said twins following a spate of suspicious suicides,while said backstory allows flashbacks that pad out the running time.

Yes, Seconds Aparthas interesting ideas but fails to do anything very appealing with them. Itsidea of style could be described as “tones of decay and some stuff with asnowglobe” – which is probably a direct quote from the script. What it reallycould’ve done with is the colourful, black-humoured histrionics of a Tim Burtonrip-off like the aforementioned Willard(and I believe that may be the first time Willardhas ever been aforementioned) or May. Or an actual Tim Burton film like EdwardScissorhands. Or perhaps any film that takes its title from the name of itsmain character, with the possible exception of Rocky

Ooh! And The Thing!

Chaplin, To-Day

Looking at this photo from April 1936 reminds me of how slow the release process used to be.  I've written about it before, as recently as last year, but this really brings it home.  The movie playing, "to-day", is Chaplin's Modern Times.  That film premiered in February in New York but now, in April, it's still playing (or just opening at this particular theatre, The Lyric) and the one of the other films playing, The Headline Woman, opened over a year earlier in March of 1935!

That tradition of holding over bigger movies and rotating older ones in and out at discounted prices, is what I grew up with.  Sometimes I would wait months to see a movie instead of ponying up the new movie price at the first-run theatre.   No, not because I knew it would be on cable or out on videotape, there was no such thing!  Rather, I knew that after a few months it would be playing at later hours at the respectable theatre for half-price or all throughout the day at the second-run theatres in the area.  Seeing a movie at the second-run theatre was kind of like waiting for it to come out on DVD is now.  Only better because at the second-run theatre I went to with my brother, The Pinehaven, you could pretty much do anything:  Drink, smoke, bring in food.  No one cared.   There was no concession stand.  If I traveled back in time and went to it now I'd probably get nauseous but at the time it was a pretty sweet deal.    Ah, the good bad old days.