Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Lost in Space was too long

Our attention spans haven't been compromised by all this digital crap we have now. In fact, my attention span was compromised by too much 1950's TV.

"Oh, man. How long does this drag on?" I thought.

It was an old episode of Lost in Space. Did you know that thing was an hour long?

There wasn't a lot of plot. It was pretty obvious how it was going to end, and I always thought it was a children's show anyway, not serious science fiction, so I assumed it would cater to shorter attention spans.

I watched it to the bitter end. I was right of course. The Space Family Robinson was suspicious of the alien family that appeared on the planet a short distance from them. Then Will befriended the alien's kid but the two space families become suspicious of each other when the kids are missing.
I had been watching a lot of half hour TV dramas from the '50's. Boston Blackie, Have Gun Will Travel, The Rifleman, The Twilight Zone. Trackdown, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

You can watch them and get on with your life.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Hulu doing Fyre Festival documentary series

I've never been interested in music. I have two brothers and a sister who are or used to be musicians, so I've been forced to attend scores of concerts and performances and forced to play music myself. I also don't like rich people, or at least I don't like IDEA of rich people. I might like them if I knew any.

So what do I care about the Fyre Festival? There's absolutely no way an event like this would ever have affected me in any way.

But I followed the story religiously. I couldn't identify with the victims---not the people who paid to attend the festival or the ones who lent millions of dollars to put it on, but I still wanted the monsters responsible prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

They did rip off local workers and businesses, too.

I just hope I'll be able to see the Hulu documentary series about it.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

"A Bagful of Fleas", Czechoslavakia, 1962

Kind of a nice movie, 42 minutes long, about teenage girls living in a dormitory and working in a textile factory. We see them having fun, they dance together, take showers together, have a pillow fight in their pajamas. Boys throw rocks at their windows. One girl is having problems. She keeps walking away from her job, she was smoking in the dorm and she ate another girl's food package. There's a meeting to decide what to do.

There's this thing in American film commentary where anything produced in a Communist country has to be interpreted as secretly anti-Communist. I watched the movie on FilmStruck and the description refers to "rigid rules" and "authoritative officials" at the cotton mill, but they really seem pretty nice about things, especially for 1962.

It's not a documentary but there's no conventional plot either. It's seen through the eyes of a new girl. We hear her thought narrating the movie and other characters look into the camera as they address her.

Allison Mack arrested for sex trafficking

Here's a lesson to any young celebrities out there: Don't enslave people and don't be a sex trafficker.

Millionaire actress Allison Mack has been indicted for forced labor and human trafficking in connection to the horrible religious cult she's part of.

I don't want to go into it, so click here if you want to read about her monstrous alleged crimes.

TMZ reports that Mack was present when cult leader Kieth Raniere was arrested in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he fled last year.

Barbara Bush again

From counterpunch.org,  Jeffrey St Clair's "brief biography of her son George W., “High Plains Grifter,” published in Grand Theft Pentagon: Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror."
...His mother, Barbara, is a bitter and grouchy gorgon, who must have frightened her own offspring as they first focused their filmy eyes onto her stern visage. She is a Pierce, a descendent of Franklin, the famously incompetent president, patron of Nathaniel Hawthorne and avowed racist, who joined in a bizarre cabal to overthrow Abraham Lincoln. (For more on this long neglected episode in American history check out Charles Higham’s excellent book Murdering Mr. Lincoln.)

Understandably, George Sr. spent much of his time far away from Barbara Bush’s icy boudoir, indulging in a discreet fling or two while earning his stripes as a master of the empire, leaving juvenile George to cower under the unstinting commands of his cruel mother, who his younger brother Jeb dubbed “the Enforcer.” This woman’s veins pulse with glacial melt. According to Neil Bush, his mother was devoted to corporal punishment and would “slap around” the Bush children. She was known in the family as “the one who instills fear.” She still does…with a global reach.
How wicked is Barbara Bush? Well, she refused to attend her own mother’s funeral. And the day after her five-year old daughter Robin died of leukemia Barbara Bush was in a jolly enough mood to spend the afternoon on the golf course. Revealingly, Mrs. Bush kept Robin’s terminal illness a secret from young George, a stupid and cruel move which provided one of the early warps to his psyche.
Her loathsome demeanor hasn’t lightened much over the years. Refresh you memory with this quote on Good Morning America, dismissing the escalating body count of American soldiers in Iraq. “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many,” the Presidential Mother snapped. “It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”


...Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch, zeroes in on the crucial first five years of W’s existence, where three factors loom over all others: an early trauma, an absent father and an abusive mother. It is a recipe for the making of a dissociated megalomaniac. Add in a learning disability (dyslexia) and a brain bruised by booze and coke and you have a pretty vivid portrait of the Bush psyche.

With this stern upbringing, is it really surprising that Bush evidenced early signs of sadism? As a teenager he jammed firecrackers in the orifices of frogs and snickered as he blew them to bits. A few years later, as president of the DKE frathouse at Yale, Bush instituted a branding on the ass-crack as an initiation ritual. Young pledges were seared with a red-hot wire clothes hanger. One victim complained to the New Haven police, who raided the frathouse. The story was covered-up for several decades until it surfaced in Bush’s first run for governor of Texas. He laughed at the allegations, writing the torture off as little more than “a cigarette burn.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

All Fall Down (1962)

I always thought Brandon De Wilde was kind of weird-looking as a child but cute as a teenager. He was sixteen or seventeen when he starred in Blue Denim (1959), based on the play by James Leo Herlihy about a 14-year-old boy trying to get an illegal abortion for his girlfriend. In 1962, he starred in All Fall Down based on the novel also by James Leo Herlihy.

In All Fall Down, Warren Beatty plays Berry-Berry, Brandon's older brother. Berry-Berry left home and has been traveling the country. The movie begins with Brandon taking the Greyhound to Florida to bring his brother $200 he needed to start a business. It turns out he's in jail and needs money for bail.

Berry-Berry has been living mostly as a gigolo. Women see him and instantly fall for him. He sits in a restaurant when a rich woman sees him and hires him to work on her yacht. Later, he's working at a gas station and leaves with a customer who wants him to join her on vacation.

According to Wikipedia, the critic for the New York Times "found the premise of the movie—that 'everyone in the story is madly in love with a disgusting young man who is virtually a cretin'—fatally flawed."

I thought the movie was similar to Hud made a year later with Paul Newman. Both were about Brandon De Wilde's character idolizing an unworthy adult.

Directed by John Frankenheimer. Angela Lansbury plays the boys' mother, similar in a way to the role she played in Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate released the same year. With Karl Malden as the father and Eva Marie Saint as the daughter of a family friend who stays with them while visiting the city.

I read the novel about twenty years ago. It was great, but it annoyed me a little that every character had some eccentricity. The father was a socialist, the mother was Angela Lansbury, Clinton (De Wilde) likes eavesdropping and transcribing what he hears in shorthand and Eva Marie Saint's character named Echo is an unlikely mechanic who drives a luxury car from the 1920's.

Herlihy also wrote the novel Midnight Cowboy.

Available on FilmStruck.

Why are DVDs of zero-budget movies so expensive?

I've seen companies online that say they're produce and package your DVD for surprisingly little money. One was $1.80 a copy for 100 copies.

I've never done it so I don't know what the issues are, but why are DVD's of zero budget movies so expensive? There aren't a lot of reviews of these things, there are no stars, in most cases you've never heard of any of the people involved. You're being asked to pay $30 for a movie sight unseen with the assumption that you're going to want to watch it again and again. They're usually dramas. If they were exploitation films, at least they could tell you objectively what you'd see. 

I wrote here long ago about a guy in England. He filmed an action movie using local hooligans as actors, then arranged to have DVDs of the movie sold in local shops for the equivalent of $5 each. It was cheap enough that people could buy them on impulse and it meant no one would bother to bootleg it. The movie was terrible, but the guy made a over twenty thousand dollars from it.

Nigeria has a thriving movie industry all off the sale of DVDs for a couple of dollars each.

There are probably good reasons the DVDs are so expensive. In most cases, you're not going to have the things in grocery stores. People don't buy them on impulse. Paying $5 for a movie you're not interested in is no bargain, so price may not have much affect on sales. A higher price might make people assume it's a better movie. Paying more might even make them like it better since they'd have to psychologically justify having blown thirty bucks on it.

There are writers making pretty good money selling their self-published novels on Kindle for less than a buck. You think guys with video cameras could pull off something similar?