Saturday, September 30, 2006

Casket Cases

A Boxed-Set Review

Always a very internally orianted series, season four of Six Feet Under brings us even deeper into the interior struggles of our characters. This is the season that sees the tragic unraveling of the Diaz marriage, hitherto the healthest couple on the program, as well as Claires fustration with men hiting its high point. We begin to the discover the mental illnes of Ruth's new husband George Sibley (James Cromwell) and how his pronounced fear of personal lose has played such a major role in his life. Nate spends the season dealing with the death of his wife Lisa (who we learn was raised in Coeur D'Alene), but eventully manages to reconnect with Brenda. Of course the big guns are saved for David, who is held hostage and nearly killed by crazy drug addict Jake (Michael Weston in an Emmy worthy performance). All-in-all still a very screw up clan, but I like them.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Internationale

For those of you who might have wonderd as to the words for the orignal version of the famed communist anthem 'The Internationale' here they are:

The Internationale: English Version

Arise ye starvelings [or workers] from your slumbersArise ye criminals of wantFor reason in revolt now thundersand at last ends the age of cant.Now away with all your superstitionsServile masses arise, arise!We'll change forthwith [or henceforth] the old conditionsAnd spurn the dust to win the prize.


Then come comrades rallyAnd the last fight let us faceThe InternationaleUnites the human race. (repeat).

We peasants, artisans and others,Enrolled amongst the sons of toilLet's claim the earth henceforth for brothersDrive the indolent from the soil.On our flesh for too long has fed the ravenWe've too long been the vultures prey.But now farewell to spirit craven The dawn brings in a brighter day.


No saviour from on high deliversNo trust we have in prince or peerOur own right hand the chains must shiverChains of hatred, greed and fear.Ere the thieves will out with their booty And to all give a happier lot.Each at his forge must do his dutyAnd strike the iron while its hot.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Witty Headline That Incorperates The Use Of The Word Hammer

Boxed-Set Review

In the Christmas season of 1999 I watched a made for TV movie called The Three Kings, which my mother had taped off of ABC in 1987. My first memory of the cult 80's program Sledge Hammer, comes from this tape on which I found a promo for the series featuring a talking gun. Now that instantly made me curious about the show, 'what kind of program was this?' I wonderd. Years later I saw the first season of Sledge Hammer for sale at a local Boarders, and in conversation later learned that the show was a favorite of a friend of mines while growing up. Anyway about a year and a half ago I net flixed the first season, and got a chance to introduce the program to a number of friends of mine. Only now though, have I finally gotten around to the 2nd season of this comedy series, which was inspiried by the early cop films of Clint Eastwood.

Sledge Hammer was the creation of studio wonderkid Alan Spencer, whose later series The Nut House I do kind of remember. Sledge Hammer was orignally intended to be a feature film, but ended up in a weekly half hour formate. The series stars David Rasche as over the top cop Sledge Hammer, and one time Mrs. Micheal Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin, as his decidely more compatent partner Dori Doreau. Harrison Page played their often exasperated boss Captian Trunk. In its first season the show came across as mostly a satire of popular movies, TV shows, and genra conventions, but by season two had really established its own identity as both comedy and character piece. Season two production values give testment to the shows slashed budget, but the writers and production crew made do as best they could. While season one was funnyer, season two is satisfying in its own way, and I think more so if you've seen season one. If you get or rent either season, be sure to listen to all of creator Alan Spencers audio commentarys, he excels at them. Also check out the title sequence to get a sense of the series.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Busy Body

Hitch Part 6 of 15

While dark comedy is a part of every Hitchcock movie, it is seldom its focus, in fact only twice in his career did the great director set out to make a comedy picture, the first was Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 1941, the second and better known was The Trouble with Harry in 1955. Harry is a kind of screwball comedy about death with British sensabilites. Set in rural Vermont, the movie concerns a number of people who come across the recently deceased body of a man, most of these characters come to think that they were somehow responsable for the persons passing. For example retired Captian Albert Wiles (a beardless Edmund Gwenn) thinks he shot the man while hunting rabbits, while Miss Ivy Gravely (Mildred Natwick) thinks she killed him with the heal of one of her hiking boats, after the disoriented man attacked her in the woods.

While the mystery of what caused the death of the films star corpse (played by actor Philip Truex, who ironicaly at the time of this writing is still alive and 95 years old) must be maintained throughout most of the movie, his identity is quickly reveled. The body is that of Harry Worp, estranged husband of the towns new arriaval Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine in her film debut). Jennifer is only to glade to have her husband dead, who as a we learn later in the film was the brother of her late first husband, who had fatherd her 5 year old son Arnie (Leave it to Beavers Jerry Mathers). Eventully struggling artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) gets involved, both to romance the widow Rogers and help bury Harry, several times.

Far from typical Hitchcock Harry is a likable novelty, that boasts Bernard Herrmanns first score for the master of suspense. Something I particulary noticed in this, my second viewing of the film (I saw it first in 1999 I belive), was the unusal cutting. on multiple occasions during the course of the film a complet fad to black is made, only to fad back in on the same characters in the same place a short time later. Quite litearly Hitch was 'cuting the boaring parts' out of the lives of these characters, and keeping the action of the film (which take place over the course of roughly 24 hours) at lesuraly but attention maintaining pace. But to me the best part of this film is how all the characters seem to take the events of the day with remarkable stride, it is all really quite delightfull to watch, and worth your 99 minutes.

"Despite this discussion of things spiritual - I still think of myself as a very 'human' being. I have the full complement of weaknesses, fears, problems, ego, and sensuality. But I think this is why we're here - to work our way through all this, and, hopefully, come out a bit wiser and better for having gone through it all."- Jim Henson, who would have been 70 years old today.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Lady's and Kings Men


On Thursday my evening class meet at a resturant down town, I belive it was called 'The Peir'. We held class in a basement dinning room, the whole thing was painted white, including most of the furnishings, though there was a small amount of black and blue to prevent eye strain. It was a weird place, a cross between a spread in an interior decorating magazine, and David Lynch (or possibly Stanley Kubrick). Anyway after class I went to see a movie at the cheap theater. I saw Shyamalans latest, and ultimetly weakest picture, Lady in the Water.

Inspired by and east-asain bedtime story about a sea nymph like creature called a Narf, this movie finds one (Bryce Dallas Howard) living in the pool of a Philly area apartment complex, with an important mission to accomplish. The Ho-hum first half, and indeed the whole movie is really saved by Paul Giamatti's performance as the complexes sad-eyed super. It wasn't until the 'shower translation scene' that I felt fully commited to the movie. Most similar to Signs out of any of Shyamalans work, it explores mostly familour territory. The movies message is about everyone finding there purpose in life, and here it is told through the efforts of a large group of likable, ethnicaly diverse characters, trying to do a good deed, and help the Narf get home. Simplistic maybe, but it did make me feel good. Six Feet Under's Freddy Rodriquez has a small role as a man exercising only one half of his body.

I'm a fan of the 1949 best picture winner All the Kings Men, a film that also netted acting Oscars for Broderick Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge. So I was excitted when I heard it was to be remade, espically with Steve Zailian writing and directing. The film features an all star cast including Sean Penn in the central role of Willie Stark. While it seems to do everything fine on a technical level I was underwhelmed, I just didn't feel it. Of course the story is intended to be a downer, so maybe my mild depression upon leaving the theater proves that the movie works, but to me it lacked the mythic qualiy that really pulled the original out of the mud. It didn't seem like Stark really feel that far, which is what is suppose to make the story moving. I think if they'd set up more of a contrast between pre-and-post corruption Stark the movie would have been stronger. Also updating the film from the 30's to the 50's wasn't really necesary, I guess the power's the be just thought the later time period would be more accesable for viewers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Victory Through Air Power

The Otto Preminger Centennial

The same year that Preminger released his black and white, minimal set, anti-drug piece The Man With The Golden Arm, he directed a Warner-Color Cinemascope historical drama titled The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell. The film is a straight forward rendition of the court-martial trial of Army Colonel William Mitchell in relationship to his statements to the press that the U.S. military was being neglegent in its mishandeling of its air forces. The part of Mitchell is pefect for Gary Cooper, truely one of those quite men of integrety he loved playing. Cooper is helped out in the court room by Hollywood nice-guy Ralph Bellamy as Congressman and defense council Frank R. Reid.

Many of Mitchell claims about the dangers this country could face from air assult doubtless seemed kind of crazy to many in 1925, the year his court-martial trial was held. Yet Mitchell, much like his contempory Alexander P. de Seversky, had a prophetic sense of what was to come in the field of air power. In fact the most erie scene in the movie is when Mitchell points out how suseptable Pearl Harbor would be to air attack, and even goes so far as to predict that the Japanse would eventully cary out such an attack, 16 years befor December 7th 1941, and two years befor Lindbergh even flew the Atlantic. The film also features Charles Bickford and Rod Steiger as figures opposed to Mitchell, and Darren McGavin and Elizabeth Montgomery (in her film debut) as two of his allies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Robert Earl Jones Dies

In Memory

Robert Earl Jones, actor and father of James Earl Jones passed away on September 7th. The elder Jone had nearly as impressive a career as his progeny, appering in a late 30's production of Langstone Hughs play 'Don't You Want to be Free', as well as in such films as The Sting, Witness, Trading Places, and The Cotton Club. One of the more intersting aspects about the life of Mr. Jones is the dispute about his age. He is belived to have been born sometime between 1900 and 1911, but as he used different years for his birth throughout his life (particularly when working as a boxer), it's hard to say exactly how old he was. The Jones family generaly places his year of birth as 1904, making him 102 at the time of his death. The Internet Movie Database however lists Jones as being 96 at the time of his passing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lady for a Day, DC 9/11: Time of Crises

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, September 15, 2006


Well David Lynch's first film in five years, INLAND EMPIRE, is finally done. It was shown at the recent Venice Film Festival, and I guess its about three hours long and makes little or no sense. I am very, very, pumped!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Al Gore Coming to Boise

Former Vice-President Albert Gore will be visiting Boise on January 24th to talk about globel warming at Boise State University. A nationaly known Democrate coming to Idaho's capital city is about as rare as a solar eclipse. I plan on being there.

ok go

Best treadmill themed music video ever.

Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Later

In Memory

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Short Takes Vol 3


Mon 9/4

Syriana: A movie for our times. Tom Clancey meets Kevin Phillips. The Crash of oil politics. Say what you will about the politics of the people who made this movie, they are closer to the mark then we might wish they were. If that's still not enough for you, there is a scene where George Clooney has his finger nails removed by pliers (who says he dosn't understand the wants of conservative audiances).

Wed 9/6

Casino Royale: Charles K. Feldman produced satire of James Bond movies, taken very losely from Ian Flemings first 007 novel. Four directors, an all star cast, and lots of cameos, this movie is an inchoherent mess. For a better a film from the same year that covers similar territory see In Like Flint. However the Herb Alpert themed title sequence is not to be missed. DVD also contians the first screen presentation of the James Bond character, a 1954 episode of the anthology series Climax, staring Barry Nelson as an American James Bond, and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre.

Fri 9/8

The Big Heat: I chose this Fritz Lang directed Noir as my film to view in memory of the recent death of Glenn Ford. Ford plays a police detective investigating the suicide of a fellow officer, what he finds conncets the dead cop to rampent corruption in their unnamed city. When Ford's officer Bannion gets too close, the syndicate controling the city has his wife Katie (played Jocelyn Brando, Marlon's sister) killed. Of course this only serves to make Bannion more deteremed. This strong little film also features Gloria Grahame and a young Lee Marvin.

Sun 9/10

Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood: 2004 AMC produced documentary (filmed during the 2003 California recall election) about the Republican minority in the entertainment buisness. One of the films central questions is if GOP affiliation is a liability in the industry, something which the films talking heads (all Repulicans or their sympathisers) disagree on. B-list Republicans featured in this doc include Patricia Heation, Pat Sajak, Drew Carey and Ben Stein.

Teus 9/12

The Second Civil War: I had wanted to see this HBO produced satire since I first heard about it, shortly before its television debut in 1997. The plot concerns an Idaho governor (Emmy winner Beau Bridges) who closes his states border after the nation is inendated with refuges from various crises across the globe. Phil Hartman is the indecisive President who lets the crises get out of control, perpetuating the nations slide into a second civil war (hence the title). The film boasts a cast of noteables including James Earl Jones, James Coburn and Denis Leary. While not succesfull on a number of levels, this movie does succeed (as well as seced) in making the viewer more then a little peved about the devisive tendences present in America today. I would however have a hard time recomending this film, though it is better then its cinematic cousin Canadian Bacon.

West Wing: Season 2: Finished the second season of one of my all time favorite shows. Because of my mission I was not able to get into this series until mid-way through season 3, so I've been doing some catching up over the past few years. What else can I say about the program other then its just increadably written and acted. Season 2 was Emily Procters year on the show, as well as the year that Bartlet reveled his MS to the public.

Evil Conservative Anti-Tree Ad

Monday, September 04, 2006

TV's Crocodile Hunter Killed by Stingray

In Memory

Steven Irwin, Austrulian naturalist whose televison programs of the 1990's made him an international celeberity and animal rights spokesperson, has died from a stringray attack sustained will filming a documentary.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

St. Elsewhere


Stephen King and the ABC Network had long had a good relationship, producing many successful mini-series during the 1990's, the best of which being The Stand from 1994. So when King decided he would like to produce an Americanized version of Lars Von Trier's Danish mini-series The Kingdom, as a limited run series for the network, all the planets seemed aligned for great success. However for reasons unknown, ratings for Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital in the spring of 2004 were so poor, that the network didn't keep the program on the air long enough to resolve it's 15-episode arc (I hate it when that happens).

Kingdom Hospital is now available on DVD so one can get the whole story of the haunted happings at the Lewiston Maine medical facility. The series feels a little slow and diluted in places, but comes together in the end. The plot concerns how the hospital was built on the site of two historic disasters, an 1869 fire at a clothing mill that killed more then a dozen child labours, and a 1939 fire at the orignal Kingdom Hospital. Diane Ladd plays Sally Druse, a character I never found quite as charming as I think I was supposed to, a psychic patiant who contacts the dead at the hospital. Andrew McCarthy plays Dr. Hook, a good man who at first doubts Mrs. Drews, but then comes to belive her. Bruce Davison is the wicked neurosurgon Dr. Stegman, who gets to go crazy over the course of the series. Jack Coleman plays Steven Kings alter-ego Peter Rickman, a popular artist who is hit by a van while jogging near his home in the Maine woods. The show also boasts the talking spirit anteater Antivas, the most impressive CG character I've ever seen on television. Mr. King and Ed Begley Jr. also appear in the series.


Corpse Bride is perhaps the only heavily Poe influenced animated family musical ever produced. Presented in director Tim Burtons preferd 'stop-motion style', only this time achived through computer animation, the movie is based losely on a Russian folk story about a man who accidently weds a dead women. At a tight 77 minutes the film is enjoyable, and saved from the meandering pace that ruined The Nightmare Before Christmas for me. Featuring the voice talents of (who else) Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.


San Francisco (1936) is really the proto-type for the disaster movie genre. You take your romance, your riverly (such as your love-triangel, your borken friendship, or both) and have that all crash into some major calamity (preferably a historical one) towards the end of the film.
Even given how trite its formula has become, I loved this movie, not only are the preformances frist rate, and the special effects great for there time, but it has a truely engaging dramatic story that touches on themes of love, corruption, and faith. In fact the movie is mostely a not completly convincing metaphore about faith. Clark Gable plays the good hearted rack Blackie Norton, Jeanette MacDonald the clean-living singer he falls for, and Spencer Tracy his best friend the priest.


Lastely Gnarls Barkelys 'St. Esewhere' is the best neo-funk album ever. It is also the first roughly current album I have purchased since David Bryne's 'Grown Backwards' in 2003. Danger Mouse forever.

Dead Celebrity of the Month, September 2006: Teresa Wright

Muriel Teresa Wright was born on October 27th 1918 on the isle of Manhatten. Growing up under some privlage she lived mostley in New Jersey and later attended Columbia High School where she developed an intrest in acting. In 1938 she landed a postion as understudy for the role of Emily in the broadway production of Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town', a role she took on full-time after lead Martha Scott left for Hollywood to make the film version.

Spotted by one of Samuel Goldwyn's talent scouts during her her two year run as Mary in the play 'Life with Father', the young actress was offerd a contract at MGM. However Teresa was not the starving, desperate actress type, she came from money and her future was secure, so in order to add her to the studio's "Galaxy of Stars", MGM had to agree to a few, rather unusual for the time, contract stipulations. Primary among these was the young actresses refusal to participate in any of the "Cheesecake" photographs so popular at the time. From her contract: "The aforementioned Teresa Wright shall not be required to pose for photographs in a bathing suit unless she is in the water. <> running on the beach with her hair flying in the wind. <> In shorts, playing with a cocker spaniel; digging in a garden; whipping up a meal; attired in firecrackers and holding skyrockets for the Fourth of July <>" ect, ect. No "Sweater Girl" was she.

Teresa's career started out on fire, she recieved Academy Award nominations for each of her first three films (an acomplishment still never duplicated), 1941's The Little Foxes, and from 1942 The Pride of the Yankees and Mrs. Miniver, winning the best supporting actress award for the later playing Greer Garsons daughter-in-law. The following year she appered in Hitch's Shadow of a Doubt, and the year after that in the mostely forgotten Casanova Brown. In 1946 she re-teamed with Mrs. Miniver director William Wyler for his post-war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives, playing the daughter of Fredr
ic March and Mryna Loy.

Stubborn and oppinanted for a leading lady of her time, always demanding a good measure of control over her career, Teresa Wright eventully lost her MGM contract. She became something of a free againt and appered regularly on television (nominated for an Emmy in 1957 for The Miracle Worker) and occasionaly in movies after about 1950. She even returned to the stage, notably in a 1975 revival of 'Death of a Salesman'. Seemingly always available for retrospectives or as a documentary 'talking head', Ms. Wright made her final feature film apperance in Coppala's The Rain Maker in 1997.

Teresa Wright passed away as a result of a heart attack, in a New Haven Connecticut hospital on March 6th 2005. She was twice married, to screenwriter Niven Busch (The Postman Always Rings Twice) 1942-1952, and playwright Robert Anderson (The Sand Pebbles) 1959-1978, both marriages ended in divorce. She had two children.