Friday, May 25, 2007
THE BLOGATHON WAS A SUCCESSS!! Here is the link to it.
Ok, I joked about it, but I think I am going to officially start it.
Monday June 11th marks the 25th anniversary of the release of GREASE 2.
To celebrate, I will be hosting a GREASE 2 blogathon on that day.
If you are a fan of the film, and want to write up something about it, go right ahead. Or, if you want to write about Michelle Pfeiffer, that will be okay too.
I used to think I was alone in my GREASE 2 love, but if you go around the internet, I am far from alone. Even Drew Barrymore has stated it is one of her favorite films. The makers of the documentary MY DATE WITH DREW were such fans, they worked their love into the doc. There is an excellent fansite here.
If you would like to participate, you can email me, or post in the comment section.
Who knows, maybe I will be the only one to admit their love of this film. But, c'mon people!! You know you love it!!
Read the blogathon here.
This is part of the STAR WARS Blogathon at Edward Copeland on Film
If you are a certain age (mid 30’s) it is almost impossible to discuss STAR WARS on any critical level. Growing up, you saw it countless times over the years, before you were able to process it on a level other than “Wow! That movie is awesome!”
I saw the original film seven times in theatres, in its original run and in rereleases (not including the Special Editions). That is still the most I have ever seen a film in the theatre.
I loved the film. I collected the action figures, the Tie-Fighters, all the accessories. I had the book. I remember how often my friends and I debated how the picture book contained the still of Luke and Biggs talking, that wasn’t in the feature film.
I also remember, in those days long before the internet, we all knew the whole story of the series. How did we know that Darth Vader fell into lava while fighting Obi-Wan? This was common knowledge among us in the late 70’s, yet I have no idea how we found out.
You could never recreate this type of fandom today. Back then, you didn’t just wait six months after the release of the film to get the DVD. VCRs had yet to really catch on. So, to try and remember the film, we would play with the action figures, listen to the soundtrack, or the little record that told the story of the film, with dialogue and special effects. We were active in trying to remember the film, we couldn’t just put on a DVD.
I remember when STAR WARS first premiered on pay cable. It was either HBO or Spotlight, but it was a huge event. They showed it twice, and I watched it both times.
When I finally got a VCR, STAR WARS was the first film I rented. Being able to have this at home, and watch it any time you wanted? What an invention.
I was there opening day to see both EMPIRE and JEDI. Loved them both. Since JEDI opened on a Wednesday, Thursday morning I had everyone running up to me at school, asking me about it, as they weren’t able to go to see it yet.
In the years since, the film hasn’t had the impact that it originally did. Quite honestly, once the film got picked up by basic cable, and USA and other channels would show it endlessly, especially on holidays, it lost a lot of its magic. It should have stayed a special event.
Then came the Special Editions. While it was good to see the films on the big screen, they weren’t the films I remembered. Greedo DID shoot first. The big Death Star explosion at the end didn’t have that stupid fireball around it. And the Ewoks danced to the “Yub-Yub” song, not Yanni. Those new editions don’t exist for me.
The less said about the prequels the better. They came out when I was an adult, and were made for kids. I wasn’t the audience for them. While ATTACK OF THE CLONES may have been the only one I even cared for (I know many think it is the least of the series, but I actually liked it), it wasn’t the originals.
Still, STAR WARS pretty much defined movie going for a whole generation. Whether they were good films or not, whether the acting is wooden or realistic, that isn’t something that even matters. They were STAR WARS. That was it.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
In 1982 there was a film released under the title EVERYBODY GETS IT IN THE END. I don’t know how many theatres it played in, if any, but I never saw it, or even heard of it.
After release, it went through a name change, and became the film it is known as today, T.A.G: THE ASSASSINATION GAME. It aired on cable under that name, and it quickly became a favorite of mine.
The premise of the film followed a group of students in college, playing a game with plastic dart guns. Each player is given the name of another player. They then have to track them down, and shoot them with the gun, without being shot first. They then take over their target, and hunt them down. This continues until there are only two players left, and they have a final tournament to decide the victor.
Robert Carradine plays a college newspaper reporter. After one of the players, Linda Hamilton, hides out in his room, he decides to write a story on the game, to get to know her.
What they don’t know is that one of the best players in the game, Gersh (Bruce Abbott), after getting shot himself on what should be an easy “kill”, he snaps. He starts to use a real gun, and hunt his targets with it.
The last half hour of the film is the final tournament.
The film was written and directed by Nick Castle, his film debut. Movie fans may know that Castle was a close friend of John Carpenter, and that he played Michael Meyers (or “the shape”) in the first HALLOWEEN. He pays tribute to John Carpenter by having the head of the tournament named Carpenter.
Castle would go on to direct films such as THE LAST STARFIGHTER and THE BOY WHO COULD FLY, and spend the 90’s making comedies like MR. WRONG and MAJOR PAYNE.
This film was made two years before Carradine would go back to college to film REVENGE OF THE NERDS. Every time I see this, I have to make sure it is the same Carradine as he weighs probably twenty pounds more in this than in NERDS. Never would have figured him for the same actor. But, it is.
And interestingly enough, Carradine’s NERDS co-star Anthony Edwards followed up NERDS by making GOTCHA, a not as good film about the same game.
And then there is Linda Hamilton. Honestly, I would say that Hamilton in this is right up there close to Michele Pfeiffer in GREASE 2 as one of the most beautiful actresses of the 80’s. After seeing her in this, the main reason I wanted to see THE TERMINATOR was because she was in it.
Bruce Abbott as the psycho Gersh is just brilliant. It was his first film role. He would go on to star in countless cult films like RE-ANIMATOR. And, in December of 1982, right after making TAG, Abbott and Hamilton were married. They were divorced in 1989.
Without going into details, I will just say the finale of this contains some of my most quoted film lines.
“Why are you doing this?”
“I want to win the game, you silly”
“That’s not fair”
Also in the cast are Xander Berkley who would go on to star in 24 as George Mason, Kristine DeBell a familiar face from 80’s TV and films such as MEATBALLS, and Michael Winslow, the noisemaker from the POLICE ACADEMY movies.
But, billed very last in the film is the biggest star to come from the film. In only one sequence, as Winslow’s bodyguard is an actor by the name of...
Forest Whitaker! Yes, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND is in the film.
The score, by Craig Safan, is extremely memorable. From the horn driven, PETER GUNN like jazzy opening theme, to the big finale chase music, I just love the score. Safan would go on to score countless films and TV shows, including many for Castle, and winning several Emmy’s. He even composed the songs that Emma Thompson sang in a very memorable episode of CHEERS(“My number is 555-6792”).
But, the film has seemingly disappeared.
While it played on cable several times in the mid 80’s, I haven’t seen it aired once since then.
It was released on VHS in the early 80’s, but copies are very hard to find. None of my video stores carried it. Only in the mid 90’s, when at a used video sale, did I ever find a copy (and it was only $1.99, one of the greatest buys of all time). You can find copies on Amazon and Ebay, but they go for well over $30.
To further confuse the issue, in 1993, Roger Corman released a film called TAG: THE ASSASSINATION GAME (aka CRISIS IN THE KREMLIN), a Russian set thriller that has nothing to do with this film.
Even if you find a copy though, as some of these screenshots will show, they are not of very good quality. A lot of the film takes place at night, and as you can see, the night scenes are not very easy to see.
It was a New World film release, and they are no longer in business. So, I’m not sure who owns the rights for the film today. Disney, of all companies, has the rights to many titles, but I don’t know if this is in with them.
Still, it is a very entertaining film. It was a favorite of mine for the time, even enough that a group of us tried to start the game in middle school. But, we all kept forgetting to bring our toy guns on the same day, so it never began. In college, I remember there were signs for people to start up the game. I don’t think it ever got started.
If you have never seen the film, would you think of it as an undiscovered gem? Hard to say. Like I said, a film that you watch so many times that you essentially memorize, it is difficult to think that others will have such devotion to the film.
But, it shouldn’t be forgotten.
EDITED 4-16-09 TO ADD: I just found these two clips of T.A.G. on You Tube.
Here is the opening and the James Bond like credit sequence.
And slight spoiler, one of the "kills" from the middle of the film featuring Kristine DeBell
Last night was the season finale of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. After last week's performance, with Kristen Wiig and her Penelope character, I was all excited about what characters she would have on this week. So were others, as the post I wrote about the episode was quite popular.
And what did she have on this episode? The Two A-Holes? The Target Lady?
Just a brief Aunt Linda sketch during update. And, other than that, she only had a secondary role in one sketch.
Oh well, guess we'll have to wait until next season.
If you are looking to see more of Kristen Wiig, along with her two films coming out this summer, be sure to go back and rewatch the very funny reality show THE JOE SCHMO SHOW, available on DVD.
If you don't remember this from 2003, it was a fake reality show, with one real contestant, Matt Kennedy Gould. He thought he was appearing on "The Lap of Luxury", a reality show, with the usual challenges, where someone was voted off each week. But, what he didn't know, all the other contestants were actors, and it was all scripted.
Kristen Wiig was one of those contestants. She played "Dr. Pat", a marriage counselor who is on her third marriage. Surprisingly, since she was the only member of the cast who would go on to great fame (host Ralph Garman is a voice on the FAMILY GUY), she isn't one of the standout stars. She is actually kind of quiet.
Not to say that she doesn't have some great moments. One scene, after "Kip - the Gay Guy" gets into an argument with "Hutch - the A-hole", Dr. Pat has to give everyone therapy. She does this completely bogus healing ceremony with Matt, and after he states in his interview "Wow! She is some therapist!" As he walks out after the session, she turns and winks to the camera.
It was a very funny reality show. Even funnier now that you realize that Wiig is a part of it. It is available on DVD (Entertainment Weekly even called the DVD set one of the 50 best TV on DVD sets of all time)
The only problem, while season one was great, season two was even better (the real contestant figured out it was a joke early on, and the whole series had to scramble to redo the series). Yet, that season isn't on DVD, despite being announced at one time. C'mon, Paramount. What are you waiting for?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I said it before, I'll say it again.
I love Kristen Wiig.
Last night, Molly Shannon returned to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. There were some fun sketches, where she brought back some of her classic characters.
But the sketch of the night didn't star one of those old characters, it was from one of Kristen Wiig's characters.
I wish it was on YouTube, but it isn't, as of now (EDIT: Check below), but the sketch had Kristen as Penelope, the overeager pest, who tries to get the upper hand in any conversation, whether it has anything to do with her or not.
"We got a card for her, since her cat just died."
PENELOPE: "My cat just died, it was 17 years old, and a bigger loss."
"Yeah, but she treated it as her child"
"I gave birth to my cat."
I can't do the sketch, or her performance justice here. If you didn't see it, believe me, it was hysterical.
And this isn't her only character on the show that is this funny. There is the Target lady (can anyone go into Target, or any retail store, without thinking of this character?), the Aunt movie critic ("Gahh!") or, my personal favorite, the Paris Hilton like half of the "Two A-Holes" (a sketch that hasn't been done in a while, which I guess is a good thing, as they aren't running it into the ground.)
And after this season's SNL, Kristen has a great summer. She is part of the upcoming Judd Apatow film KNOCKED UP which everyone who has seen it loves, and one of the stars of THE BROTHERS SOLOMON with Will Forte, Will Arnett, and Jenna Fischer.
Can't wait for both of those films.
EDIT: Here is the sketch. Not an official NBC version, so watch it while you can.
For more on Kristen Wiig, including YouTube clips of her best sketches, see this post.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Larry Doyle is a former writer for THE SIMPSONS. That should be enough to make you a fan of his.
Before that, he wrote for BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD. More points added for that.
Plus, he has written several very funny “Shouts and Murmurs” pieces for THE NEW YORKER. If you don’t read the magazine, let me just assure you, they are funny.
I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER is his first novel.
Denis Cooverman is the high school valedictorian. Not wanting to give the typical speech, he instead talks about how we shouldn’t live with regrets. So, in the middle of his speech, he blurts out “I love you, Beth Cooper”.
Beth Cooper is the head cheerleader. Since Denis is the head of the debate team, she hasn’t really paid much attention to him in his lifetime, even though he sat behind her in many classes.
The novel follows graduation night, and the wild adventures that result from that speech. To tell you anything more will spoil the book for you. I will just add that it involves a movie obsessed friend who may or may not be gay, a Humvee, and that each chapter opens with a quote from some classic teen film.
I LOVED this book.
I laughed. A LOT. This is a very funny book. And then, apart from being quite funny, it goes to a whole other level.
I got the book on a Thursday night, and would have read it straight through if THE OFFICE wasn’t on. I then raced home on Friday to finish it. Loved every page of it. I wish it were longer.
I know in society today, people are getting dumber. They don’t read anymore. Well, if you are one of those people who rarely reads, yet you watch THE SIMPSONS, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It is only 250 pages. Less than one of those wizard books, and a lot funnier.
I can’t wait for Doyle’s next.
Did I mention I loved this book?
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Paul Rudd has been one of those actors I’ve seen for years, knew who he was, but never really had an opinion of him.
I think I liked him in CLUELESS, but I only saw it once, and haven’t thought of it much since then.
I saw him on FRIENDS, and thought “Oh yeah, that’s Paul Rudd”. But again, didn’t like him, didn’t dislike him. It was just Paul Rudd.
But, I guess you can say things started to change after seeing WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER. Everyone in that film sort of became comic royalty after it.
Then there was 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN. And that was it. I became a Paul Rudd fan.
Over the weekend, I saw DIGGERS. Very good film. Rudd plays the lead character, in a dramatic role, and it is his best performance to date. A whole other side of him.
Tonight, he appeared on VERONICA MARS.
Rudd played a washed up 90’s musician, in town doing a concert. He appeared on a college radio show.
CALLER TO RADIO SHOW: “How do you live with yourself?”
RUDD: “I drink heavily and abuse drugs”
He was hysterical.
I think he may just have one of the smartest careers going. To make films with Judd Apatow (he will also be in KNOCKED UP) and the gang from THE STATE (the upcoming THE TEN), he is sure to continue to have great roles. Not to mention working with Neil LaBute (THE SHAPE OF THINGS, BASH).
So now, when I see him, instead of “Oh yeah, Paul Rudd” it is “Hey! Paul Rudd! I have to watch this.”
Thursday, May 03, 2007
When LOCAL HERO was released in 1983, I remember reading rave reviews for it, but I had no interest in it. A film about a Texas oilman who goes to Scotland? No thanks. Once, after it was first on cable, I flipped by it, saw a few seconds and thought “Why would anyone want to watch this?”
A few years later, after I had grown up a little, I was listening to a tape of movie themes. They had one by Mark Knopfler that I loved. I would listen to it over and over again. The way it began quietly, with guitars and a whistle, before transforming into this jazzy number with horns and everything. I loved it so much, I rented the film that it was from, just to hear how it was used.
That movie was LOCAL HERO.
And the film became one of my favorite of all time. Still today, it is always in my top five, often number one.
I would rent it often, watch the film, rewind it, and watch it again. Then I’d have to take it back to the video store. The next weekend, I would rent it again.
LOCAL HERO was directed by Bill Forsyth. It was his third feature film.
His first film in 1980 was THAT SINKING FEELING, a wonderful low budget Scottish film about a group of unemployed guys who steal sinks. It is a hilarious film that deserves a DVD release.
His follow up the next year is still well known today, and available on DVD, GREGORY’S GIRL. A classic comedy about Gregory (wonderfully played by Gordon John Sinclair) who falls in love with a female member of the school’s soccer team.
Then came LOCAL HERO. Often voted by critics as one of the best films of the 1980’s, Peter Riegert plays a Texas oilman sent (by Burt Lancaster) to buy out a small Scottish village. He falls in love with the place. And so does the audience.
All I can say is if you haven’t see the film, do so. I want to visit Scotland JUST to find the phonebox seen in the film.
COMFORT AND JOY came next, the story is about a DJ getting in the middle of a war between ice cream vendors during Christmastime. Another charming, offbeat film.
In 1987, Forsyth made HOUSEKEEPING. This was his first American film (actually shot in Canada) and, for me, didn’t quite have the feel of his early films. Yet, many critics loved the film.
I often think of it like a great country singer going pop. They may still be a great musician, but there are countless pop singers and not as many great country singers. There are countless filmmakers making Hollywood films and stories about American characters. There are few making small Scottish films like his earlier work.
Next was BREAKING IN, his 1989 film starring Burt Reynolds as a safecracker. The screenplay was by John Sayles. While Reynolds was praised for his performance, I was a bit underwhelmed by the film. But again, it deserves another viewing by me.
In 1993 Forsyth made the film that would make him lose interest in filmmaking, BEING HUMAN. It told multiple stories, all starring Robin Williams. Many critics hated it, yet there are moments that I still remember from seeing only once. One scene, with Williams trying to manufacture happiness with his children by riding a merry go round has always stayed with me. But, after a troubled production and post production, Warner Brothers dumped the film. I had to drive 45 minutes to find the only theatre showing it.
Forsyth has stated how the dealing with the studios soured him on filmmaking. After that, he would only make one more film.
In 1999, he decided to go back to what worked for him, his early Scottish films. He made GREGORY’S TWO GIRLS, a sequel to his 1981 film. This time, Gregory was a teacher. But, the resulting film didn’t have the magic of the first and was a bit overlong. It was fun to see the character again.
GREGORY’S TWO GIRLS has yet to have any sort of release in the US. It never received a theatrical release, or on video in any form.
According to one report, on the audio commentary for the UK DVD of COMFORT AND JOY DVD , Forsyth confirms that he has retired from films. After the hassle with BEING HUMAN, and the fact that GREGORY’S TWO GIRLS wasn’t given the release it deserves, you really can’t blame him.
His early films though stand as some of the decades best.
And LOCAL HERO stands as one of the best films of all time.
Here is Forsyth talking about his early career