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.


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