Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prop weapons

Gun nuts are everywhere. Even in countries where guns are illegal. Consequently, there's a large international market for adult-sized toy guns. Cheap plastic "airsoft" guns are a boon to the extreme low budget filmmaker. That and software to add muzzle flashes and shell casings popping out to your movie. And blood spatter.

Blanks are loud and dangerous. People have been killed by them.

One director told the story. He loaded a blank cartridge into a high powered rifle and handed it to the actor who immediately aimed it at him. The director dived for cover.

"Aw, I wanted to shoot you!" the actor said.

The poor actor had only worked with very low powered blanks on stage. The blank loaded into that rifle would have been deadly at that range. And if the director hadn't dived for cover, the actor would have pulled the trigger.

Today, the only danger we face is that of being humiliated by people spotting us acting out scenes with toy guns.

We live in a golden age! Almost.

I did watch A Fool There Was a while back, the 1915 silent movie, a story of lust and seduction. Theda Bara plays a "vamp" who takes revenge on a snooty bourgeois woman's sleight by taking her husband away from her. He gets weaker and weaker as Theda sucks the life out of him. The wife tries to get him back, but he's unable to pry himself away.

It looked so easy! Anybody could make a movie back then! If only film hadn't cost so much! And average income wasn't so low!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

There's a career Roger Corman should have smothered in its cradle

James Cameron on 60 Minutes

I wish Morley Safer would learn to contain himself. I'm sitting here with the TV on. Safer is gushing like a schoolgirl over James Cameron. But 60 Minutes has been going downhill for years. There was that senile moron Mike Wallace who thought he was really sticking up for the little guy by defending Israel against Palestinian refugees and their anti-Semitic pleas for Israelis to stop killing their children.

Cameron has made a new movie costing $400,000,000.00. I don't know if this formula works for movies with absurdly large budgets, but they used to say a movie had to gross two and half times its cost just to break even. This thing could gross a billion dollars and still lose money.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obnoxious insurance geezer

No offense to elderly persons who work in the insurance industry. Unless you're obnoxious.

A couple of years ago, an obnoxious ill-tempered geezer appeared on Community Access TV. I missed the beginning of it. It looked like he was speaking to a class locally.

He was an insurance company guy and he was gloating over his role in the movie industry, threatening to shut down productions that were falling behind schedule. He talked at length about Ben Stiller and the making of Zoolander. It fell behind schedule and this obnoxious geezer started hanging around threatening to shut it down. So Ben caught up and the obnoxious geezer went away. Then he fell behind production again and the geezer came back.

He mimicked Ben Stiller saying, "I can't work this way!" Accused him of "crying".

Maybe it was necessary for the guy to be a jerk when dealing with directors who were falling behind schedule, going over budget and threatening to cost the insurance company vast sums of money. But this geezer was also a jerk while publicly discussing it.

He seemed to take satisfaction with the fact that Stiller hadn't directed another movie since. In fact Stiller has directed several things since then including Tropic Thunder.

I wonder who the old guy was. Maybe he's dead now.

Ride the High Country

Okay, westerns weren't so bad

Well, now I feel bad for what I said about westerns. I watched Ride The High Country the other day and it was excellent of course. Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. With Eugene, Oregon's, own Edgar Buchanan. But there was no talk about someday living on a ranch, and didn't one guy have a semi-automatic rifle? Someone pointed out that the toilet pictured in one scene was a little too modern, so it did have that anachronism.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Soviet westerns available on You Tube

At Home Among Strangers and The White Sun of the Desert

I never liked westerns. They were all about illiterates dressed in ugly clothes, in ugly buildings on an ugly landscape. Their only recreational activity was hanging around in bars and their greatest aspiration was to own a ranch. They had a lot of violence, which should have been appealing, but the fights generally consist of nothing but two men punching each other in the face. The gun fights weren't much better. Everyone had the same gun. Either a Colt revolver or a Winchester rifle. There was no variation. They could at least throw in a Derringer.

But I did kind of like the Osterns I've seen so far----Soviet movies inspired by American westerns, set in Soviet Asia in the 1920s.

In the Soviet film At Home Among Strangers, it was refreshing to see members of the Cheka as heroes. Made in 1974, in color with a few scenes in black & white.

There is a famine in the USSR. The government needs gold to import food. Cheka men transport the gold by train. When the train is robbed by bandits on horseback, a Cheka agent goes undercover to get the gold back.

They wear much more attractive clothes, they have a variety of weapons, although they go heavy on Nagant revolvers, and the architecture is more appealing.

And the whole thing is available on You Tube:

And here is The White Sun of the Desert on YouTube:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lisa Lampanelli, Lewis Black and Carrot Top, And Rick Schmidt.

How did she know?

Okay...I heard comedienne Lisa Lampanelli interviewed on the radio this morning. She's going to perform here in Eugene. She talked to the DJs on a local radio station.

They mentioned other comedians who've performed here. She noted that people in Eugene sat quietly for Carrot Top, but yelled "You suck!" at Lewis Black.

Now, I wrote about that shameful event in the first entry on this blog. The moron yelling at Lewis Black. But how did Lisa Lampanelli know? As I said at the time, I thought the idiot who did it would be bragging about it to the world, but I couldn't find anything about it on the internet.

At least we were polite to Carrot Top.

Rick Schmidt on Netflix

Would-be and, I suppose, actual filmmakers have been reading Rick Schmidt's book, Feature Film-Making at Used Car Prices for years. The original version talked about making a 16mm feature for $6,000. It went up to $10,000 a few years later. Now the book has been revised and calls for digital video rather than 16mm.

The book mentions Jon Jost and Wayne Wang, whose movies I've seen. But I've never seen a Rick Schmidt movie. He's now produced about 20 of them. Schmidt conducts feature film workshops now. Ten people to get together and collectively write and direct a movie. So it appears from his website that he's making a movie a year or more.

I haven't seen Schmidt's movies in video stores. There's nothing on You Tube. He's selling them for $29.95 on his website.

But now it looks like Netflix is making his 1983 movie, Emerald Cities, available. You can save it but you can't rebt it yet.