Sunday, February 28, 2010

James Cameron's ex-wife on 60 Minutes

60 Minutes is reporting on the lady movie director who made Hurt Locker for "a measly $11 million."

Measly, eh.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. She shakes the camera around. How terribly original.

If the movie's any good, it's a fluke. This is from the director of Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fan Videos

One interesting thing. Andrew Koenig appeared in a Batman fan video. It's short. About 8 minutes. Very well made.

Would it have been more interesting if it had been less stylish? How would a comic book movie like this look if it were filmed in a cinema verite style? Like an episode of Cops.

Let's see Batman as if Werner Herzog directed. As if Pasoloni directed. As if Jim Jarmusch directed.

Well, of course, this Batman video was done for the filmmaker's own purposes. People have made fan videos simply as fans, or to show what they can do technically and artistically to promote themselves as directors. Like any other short film.

I watched one feature length fan film on You Tube. I don't know if I could find it again. It was Star Trek. It had some of the original cast in it---Lt Uhuru was in it. Maybe Walter Koenig----I can't remember.

It was pretty well-made. They obviously spent a fortune on it.

It was also obvious that the guy who made it was an Ayn Rand nut.

The movie starts with Lt Uhuru talking to some Vulcan intellectuals. She tells them they should get rid of their motto, "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few," because it leads to genocide.

It leads to genocide, eh? So Hitler was just trying to help as many people as he could.

The Vulcans admit that, yes, their motto leads to genocide. And Ayn Rand was the most rational "philosopher" in the universe and was not at all weird-looking. But they explain that they pretty much ignore their motto, so it's okay.

Later, the commander of a star ship introduces himself before a battle:

"I am Captain Galt of the star ship Liberty."

I'm surprised there wasn't some Ayn Rand thing that would prohibit you from wasting tens of thousands of dollars and years of work making a movie you wouldn't exactly own the rights to, that you couldn't legally distribute or make any money from.

On the other hand, if you make a science fiction movie costing, say, $50,000, what are your real odds of getting it into any sort of distribution? What hope do you have of making any money on it, or even making your money back?

At least with a fan video, people will watch it.

For that amount, you can make an original science fiction movie and disappoint viewers with how cheap it looks, or make a "fan film" and have them marveling at how much money you spent.

It does seem like, with a Star Trek fan film, that it would be more within the reach of the filmmaker to make it a fan film of the original series.

For costumes, men would need a red, blue, or sort of yellowish tee shirt and black pants. Women would need mini-dresses and matching underpants in the same colors. Special effects would be easier. The scripts should be built around some Freudian Oedipal confict.

I don't watch any of the new Star Trek shows. But I was forced to sit through one episode. Had Whoopie Goldberg in it. They had children running around the Enterprise, they didn't have a single Jiu-Jitsu fight and the captain didn't sleep with even a single alien.

The old show WAS better.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Andrew Koenig found dead

CNN reports that Andrew Koenig was found dead in a park in Vancouver, B.C. His father said he committed suicide.

Koenig had suffered from depression. He stopped taking medication for it about a year ago, his father said. He enjoyed some success as an actor. Was an activist focusing on Burma and other causes.

Already on the CNN website, there's some of the predictable nonsense. People post comments, and half of them deny the reality of clinical depression. They talk about suicide as if it were simply a sign of weakness, as if suicide were perfectly rational act people commit after logically weighing their options.

Someone posted, "Money can't buy happiness." (I don't know how much money Koenig had.)

Someone posted a reply that said money could buy happiness but "it can't cure mental illness."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Andrew Koenig

Well, it's a sad thing. Andrew Koenig, TV's Boner, is missing. Suffering from depression. At this point, police in Vancouver think he is still in the city but doesn't want to be found. Extremely upsetting, obviously, to his family. His father is Walter Koenig, Ensign Chekov from Star Trek.

Koenig is 41. He played a character called Boner on TV's Growing Pains, a discipline-oriented family sit-com spawned by the popularity of The Cosby Show. I never managed to sit through an episode that I can recall, and my only knowledge of Koenig's character was when I heard a 12-year-old boy call a radio talk show to say that he thought his name was indecent. I wonder what Kirk Cameron thought about it. After he went through his religious conversion, he felt that Growing Pains was sinful. Alan Thicke says he told Kirk that if Growing Pains was "too blue" for him, he should try to put together a show for one of the Christian cable stations.

Andrew Koenig has enjoyed some success. More than I have, certainly. But there have been extremely successful people who have suffered from depression and there have been struggling people who have been happy but frustrated. There's no logic behind it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Can there ever again be decent Tom Sawyer movie?

Children today would be horrified

Some time back, some channel showed two versions of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer back to back. One was the 1938 David O. Selznick production starring Tommy Kelly. The other was Tom and Huck starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

The old version was better, of course. In technicolor. It looked like Tommy Kelly did his own stunts.

In the 1938 version, they were constantly beating the crap out of him. The teacher brutally canes him. Aunt Polly whacks him with a board, thumps him in the head. In one scene he eats standing up after an especially brutal beating.

When you watched that movie, you sat there thinking, "For God's sake! Why don't they stop hitting that poor kid!"

On the other hand, you watch the Jonathan Taylor Thomas version and you sit there thinking, "For God's sake! Why doesn't somebody slap that kid!"

In that version, Jonathan Taylor Thomas smirks constantly as he avoids all punishment. They threaten him. Aunt Polly is long suffering. The teacher is easily manipulated.

I don't know how children watching movies today would react to seeing the child rearing practices of the past. I think it would help them understand the character and why he kept "acting out".

Tommy Kelly, Jonathan Taylor Thomas

The star of the old Tom Sawyer went on to do a few other movies, but his career never took off. Poor kid. It's not known where he is now, if he's alive or dead.

I don't know what Jonathan Taylor Thomas is up to. He was huge in his day and did a few movies. I remember reading a quote from him that he wanted to do grittier roles because that's what you got respect for. He was miscast in a movie called Speedway Junkie, produced, I believe, by Gus Van Sant. Van Sant has made other movies about teen boy prostitutes which would be fine but it's not the plight of these poor kids he seems interested in.

I couldn't make it through Speedway Junkie. Thomas played sort of the leader of the teenage boy prostitutes. But he was---I don't know---too cute for the role.

Now it's really over. Conan O'Brien and Dustin Diamond

Into the dustbin of history

Now it's really over. No more talk of Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien.

I feel less sympathy for O'Brien now, getting to retire at such a young age. Or not retire. He can do anything he wants. I found his show offensive, anyway. But I also find Leno offensive.

O'Brien dismissed the idea that he deserved sympathy. He was doing great.

And Screech seems to be gone. He once gave an interview describing himself as a celebrity and droning on about himself. Wikipedia is reporting that Ford Motor Company is going to repossess his 2005 Expedition and he owed the state of Wisconsin $34,944.35 in back taxes, fines and interest. I'm surprised he made enough money to owe that much. This must have built up over about 40 years. He was barred from a Saved By The Bell reunion by other cast members who are even more repulsed by him than we are.

I think I said somewhere before that he's in an awkward position. He can't let what little fame he has go to waste. But he's not famous enough to make a go of it. Even if he were, he's so obnoxious, untalented, and generally repellent. There but for the grace of God go I.

Now he's written a book about Saved By The Bell. Judging from the excerpts, he actually wrote it himself. He writes about the sex and drugs and parties he assumed were going on in other cast members' dressing rooms. He doesn't know for sure because no one ever invited him in.

What's left for him? He did the book. He did a sex tape, a "reality" show. He even did "celebrity" boxing. I think he's finished.