Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It turns out smoking is bad for you

Well, Christopher Hitchens is undergoing chemotherapy. Announced on the Vanity Fair website:

I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.

From a recent interview in USA Today:

Q: We're here outside on a sidewalk because you needed a cigarette. Have you tried to stop smoking?
A: I gave it up for two years, but I think it's a boring subject. I went back when I was trying to finish this book. I figured one cigarette isn't going to kill me, which is stupid.

I hope to heck he pulls through.

I understand what he means when he says it's a boring subject. There have been movies made about drug addiction, alcoholism, and none of them have ever interested me. Individuals go through terrible struggles with addiction--it's a life and death battle--but it doesn't make for compelling viewing or reading.

The thing that always got me was the image of the hipsters. There were radicals, beatniks and so forth. There was Serge Gainsbourg always smoking a cigarette. Then you look at the rich, conservative scum running the tobacco companies. Which image fits better with the product?

In the '60s, I remember William Talsman's public service announcements made as he lost his fight with lung cancer. Perry Mason had an original cast of five of whom three died of smoking-related illness. And at least two were gay.

There were lots more. I had a "funny" calender someone gave me. For each day of the year, it gave the anniversary of a celebrity death. Gave the cause of death for each. I don't remember who gave it to me and why they thought I would be amused by it. I don't know what the precise numbers were, but looking through it, it was shocking how many died from smoking-related illness. Seemed like it probably a third of them.

Ayn Rand dooms her followers to death

There were William Talsman and Yul Brenner who tried to warn people.

And then there was Ayn Rand. She smoked like a chimney. She had an interest in architecture and visited Frank Lloyd Wright in his studio. Wright found her so offensive that he banned smoking in his studio which was unusual back then.

Rand believed that health warnings about smoking were all part of an anti-capitalist conspiracy, so she smoked all the more. Stupid bitch. Her followers smoked, too. It was part of their thing. They said something about the light of the cigarette symbolizing the light of....I don't know, enlightenment or something. She was leader of an organized cult in which her followers tried to imitate her in every way.

Rand got lung cancer. She was successfully treated for it, apparently. People close to her asked her to let people know about it. It could save the lives of her idiot followers who started smoking to be like her. She refused. Which, I suppose, was in keeping with her "philosophy".

Rand's "philosophy"

The title of one of her "philosophical" works was The Virtue of Selfishness. She thought that being rational was good and being irrational was "evil". And only selfishness was rational, so "altruism" was, therefore, "evil".

Her first novel was about an architect who blows up the building he designs because he doesn't like how it looks.

But before that she was working on a novel she was going to call The Little Street, based on child killer William Edward Hickman. Hickman kidnapped a girl, demanded a ransom for her. The family paid the ransom and Hickman delivered the girl's dismembered, butchered body. I won't go into it, but the mutilation was actually worse than the Black Dahlia case. Rand regarded Hickman as a Nietzschean ubermensch. She described the character in her novel as having "the true, innate psychology of a Superman".

Rand said, "The first thing that impresses me about the case is the ferocious rage of a whole society against one man. No matter what the man did, there is always something loathsome in the 'virtuous' indignation and mass-hatred of the 'majority.'... It is repulsive to see all these beings with worse sins and crimes in their own lives, virtuously condemning a criminal..."

Um. Worse sins and crimes? Like what?

Rand couldn't stand the idea of "average" people judging her Superman Hickman. She discussed the jury in her journal:

Average, everyday, rather stupid looking citizens. Shabbily dressed, dried, worn looking little men. Fat, overdressed, very average, 'dignified' housewives. How can they decide the fate of that boy? Or anyone's fate?

Look at Rand's philosophy. The worst, most vile interpretation of it turns out to be the correct one.

Are teenagers Nietzschean by nature?

Here's one thing I found interesting. Rand's followers were all people who read her books as teenagers.

Adults who read her books usually just wonder what the hell her problem was, why she despised ordinary people. But apparently teenagers really go for that sort of thing.

Look at Harry Potter. You'd think it would have been enough for a kid to discover that he was a wizard. But no. He had to be king of the wizards. He had to find out he was a celebrity wizard and he was locked in a battle of good against evil.

I heard on This American Life on public radio, some Zionist idiot. He kept a diary as a teenager. As he wrote it, he imagined that someday his diary would be read by Jewish youth everywhere who would see him as an inspiration after he became leader of Israel. He said he couldn't understand how his parents could stand living ordinary lives without power over other people.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Phil Spector

Kenneth Anger, Martin Scorsese, and all that pop music in movies

Kenneth Anger brags that he was the one to blame for all the pop music in movies these days. He would put pop songs on the soundtracks to his art movies. I'm not sure---I think he even paid to use them. He started the trend. I can see how a devil-worshiper would be proud of that.

Martin Scorsese said that, in film school, they were repeatedly warned not to use pop music in their movies. You can't do it! You can't get the rights! Then he saw Kenneth Anger's art movies and realized that was crap and started using pop music, I guess in student films.

Well, some new details are emerging.

There's new a documentary about that repellent little puke, Phil Spector, now rotting in prison for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

In 1973, John Lennon phoned Spector and told him to come to the studio. "Someone's ripped you off, Phil."

At the studio, they showed him Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, which apparently contained a song called "Be My Baby" that Spector owned.

Spector called his lawyers and told them to "kill it."

Scorsese had inexplicably used the music without permission.

For some reason, John Lennon convinced Spector not to seek an injunction to pull the movie from theaters.

That's an anecdote from The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector.

At least, it's an anecdote from a REVIEW of The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector, a documentary based on long interviews with Spector between murder trials. I haven't seen the movie and I'm not likely to.

Ironically, the documentary itself plays a number of tunes in their entirety without Spector's permission.

Other reviews

The review in Jewish Week, perhaps not surprisingly, dismisses Lana Clarkson as a "fading B movie actress" and portrays Spector as the real victim. "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector," it said, "is a compelling portrait of a Jewish-American artist foundering on the shoals of his own self-willed isolation, which is itself compounded by social realities that have wounded better people than Spector."

On the other hand, Prairie Miller, on News Blaze, wrote:
Sitting beside the white piano where he worked with John Lennon on Imagine, Spector rants against a jury he claims 'all voted for Bush' and viewed him as either guilty or insane, while intimating that he can't get a fair trial because of his outcast status within the music industry...

...whether sitting in court with extravagantly wigged head bowed like a kid berated for being caught stuffing his hand in a cookie jar, or rambling on back home with wild eyed tales, Spector comes across as an immature child stuck long ago in traumatized arrested development (not to mention deeply retro, frozen in time favored mod attire) who doesn't seem to understand the consequences of his acts, and at the same time a conversely wrinkled old gnome....

From a review in Variety:
But the most original contribution to The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector is surely the quasi-Godardian juxtaposition of silent-running trial footage -- complete with diagrams, videotapes, displays of bullet trajectories and blood spatters -- with signature lush orchestrations of Spector's music, as one familiar tune after another, playing out in its entirety, trumpets his artistry. Effusive quotes by Mick Brown, enumerating each song's peculiar brilliancies, are displayed onscreen.

Mick Brown, by the way, wrote another article about Spector during the first trial:

Spector's prevailing mood seemed to be one of indignation that he should be on trial at all. From the moment of his arrest, he had displayed a marked lack of remorse, or even sympathy for the victim. A transcript of Spector's angry and frequerntly incoherent ramblings in the Alhambra police station, which was not heard in court, has him describing Clarkson as "a piece of s---. And I don't know what her f---ing problem was, but she certainly had no right to come my f---ing castle, blow her f---ing head and [indecipherable] a murder."

I'm glad that little bastard is in prison. And I'm glad another inmate knocked a couple of his teeth out in the prison yard.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I started to watch War of the Worlds

It was on TV.

But I couldn't stand watching Tom Cruise.

He didn't write it. I assume he's just doing what the script and the director tell him to do. Why is he the same in everything?

He's like Dr. Laura or Judge Judy. I can't stand them for more than about two seconds.

I know I'm not the only one. A USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that he's the celebrity people would least like as a best friend.

Okay, so what celebrity would I want as a best friend?

Probably Alan Hale, Jr.

I don't know if I can think of any current celebrities I'd want as a "best friend".

Friday, June 25, 2010


A documentary about obsessive movie fans in New York

There but for the grace of God go I.

Watched the documentary Cinemania, about a handful of people in New York City with an obsessive interest in film.

They didn't want to make movies. They didn't want to write about movies, either as critics or as theorists. They just wanted to watch them. Several a day.

One was a kindly-looking old woman who became fascinated with movies in 1950. She wanted to see movies from every country. But she was a rather nasty person who would occasionally attack people and try to strangle them. She attacked a ticket taker at the Museum of Modern Art, tried to strangle her and called her "evil" because she tore her ticket in half and gave her the stub. She was barred from that theater. So she put on a wig and make-up and tried to sneak in. Security threw her out. She was shocked that it didn't work.

Another one joined an on-line dating website. For his profile, he wrote an extremely long explanation of what kind of movies he liked.

Bridgitte et Bridgitte

It made me think of Luc Moullet's movie, Brigitte et Brigitte. The two Brigittes take a film class. It becomes sort of a parody of the French New Wave. One Brigitte interviews a cineaste who says his greatest ambition is to "die while watching a movie."

The people in Cinemania were eccentric but not amusing. One wanted a cell phone so he could call the projection booth and tell them when it was out of focus or if he imagined there was some other problem.

These people lived horrible lives. One lived on an inheritance. Others were on disability and one was collecting unemployment which was about to run out.

But then again...

Jon Jost argued that movies were "brutalizing". They're about people who are richer than you, better-looking than you and lead more interesting lives than you. Makes you feel bad about your own life. Jost was probably right to some degree.

Well, this movie is a pretty good antidote to that. You don't walk away feeling inferior to the people on screen.

On the other hand, the eccentrics in it seemed happy enough with their lives. They weren't, as Jost imagined, wishing they could be the characters in the movies.

Now that I think about it, maybe my judgment of them is the result of watching too many movies.

It's like when PBS put on that cinema verite show about the Loud family. Critics viciously attacked the poor family essentally for being actual human beings and not fictional TV characters.

Perhaps I was judging the weirdos in this movie as movie characters, not as people.

Anyway, it should make people who watch a lot of TV feel better about it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

M Night Shyamalan's new movie

I don't really know anything about it. I just saw a commercial for it.

Well, everyone was picking on M. Night Shyamalan after the last couple of movies. I haven't seen them. I saw that dead people movie and the one about the space aliens. Signs.

I saw Signs on TV and didn't quite understand it. Mel Gibson plays an ex-priest who was married with a few children. I figured he wasn't Catholic. But everyone wanted him to hear their confessions. Do Anglicans do that? Or Episcopalians. Whatever they call themselves. And isn't it strange that he lived in a community that was just brimming with Episcopalians? Everyone seemed to know who he was and wanted guidance from him. And, in the end, he expressed a depth, or at least a breadth, of religiosity that you don't generally get from a mainline denomination.

Some one did point out a weakness in Shyanalan's work. His movies tend to have twist endings. Once you've seen it, you know what the twist is. There's no need to see it again on DVD or pay-per-view.

Maybe I should watch his other movies. Seems like they would be sort of creepy.

Oh, and now he's made a new one. Kind of a kung fu-looking movie, judging from the commercial.

And on TV...

They're resurrecting two old TV series, Hawaii Five-O and The Rockford Files.

Can they live up to the originals?

I don't like the new Firebirds, and it doesn't make sense, Jim Rockford driving a new car if he lives in a run down trailer illegally parked at the beach.

And what will the Hawaii Five-O people drive? What could equal those big giant black Ford LTDs?

I didn't like the old Jim Rockford's wardrobe. I hope the new Jim Rockford will wear natural fibers. But James Garner did take kung fu lessons from Bruce Lee and driving lessons from Steve McQueen. Can the new Jim Rockford match that?

I hope Steve McGarrett and the new Five-O team will wear proper two-piece suits.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me

A new version of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me is coming out. I did see the old version with Stacey Keach and it was okay. I don't remember it well. I've only read one of Thompson's books, Pop. 1280, which was made into the French movie, Coup de Torchon. Which was a pretty good movie.

Movies based on Thompson's work:

The Getaway (Two versions)

The Killer Inside Me (Now two versions)

Coup de Torchon (Based on Pop.1280.)

Série noire (based on A Hell of a Woman.)

The Kill-Off

After Dark, My Sweet

The Grifters

Hit Me (Based on a A Swell-Looking Babe.)

This World, Then the Fireworks

I liked the movies I've seen based on his work. I like the one novel of his I read. I hate to admit it, but I have a hard time getting into novels. I've started reading several of Thompson's books but didn't get far. I'm not sure what I think about his work as a writer.

Genre fiction and movies

I read a book on writing genre fiction, and around the same time I read a book on writing movie scripts. And much of the advice was the same.

Genre novels have to have a strong plot. Character development should be limited. Characters should have straight-forward motives--greed, revenge--rather than psychological reasons for their actions.

Probably part of the reason that genre novels make better movies. The other is that filmmakers can adapt them freely. They don't have to worry about adhering too closely to the plot.

Badge of Evil

There was a claim made by Orson Welles (who knows if it was true) that he needed money for a stage production he was doing. He got it by calling someone and asking for money to buy the movie rights for a great novel that would be perfect for a movie. The great novel a paperback the girl at the ticket counter happened to be reading called Badge of Evil. Welles hadn't read it---didn't know what it was about. But it became the movie, A Touch of Evil.

The opening scene in the original script had the murder victim lounging by his backyard pool with his stripper girlfriend. The girlfriend climbs on top of him. Someone throws a bomb. The man sees the bomb and panics but the stripper thinks he's responding to her. "Oh, Rudy!" She prevents him from escaping and they both die.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Breaking Bad again

Okay, so HERE'S the thing about Breaking Bad.

I had contrasted Walt's slide in violence and amorality with Ray Milland as a mild mannered father turned homicidal survivalist in Panic In The Year Zero.

Here's what more knowledgeable persons say about Walt White.

That he's arrogant, jealous and consumed with rage over unspecified things that happened to him in the past. He had started a business but walked away from it in a snit, then was enraged when his former business partner got rich on work that Walt had done for the company. He feels threatened by and mistreats poor Jesse even though the kid is no threat to anyone in any way.

See, that's what they needed with Ray Milland.

When his wife wants to go back to L.A. to find her mother who was there in the nuclear blast, Milland should have said something about how her mother never respected him because of his humble origins, even though he had to work harder than anyone else, and the fact that he worked for all he had rather than inheriting it somehow made people question his right to it. And he should have had some hostility toward his own children who reminded him of the upper-class teens who tormented him in high school.

If you want to see how that might have worked, look at Marjoe Gortner's performance in Earthquake. He's a mild-mannered grocery store clerk, harassed by his neighbors. And now he's in charge, in his National Guard uniform, carrying his M-16. He catches his neighbors looting and...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The musical Annie and the shattered lives in its wake

There've been a few documentaries about Annie. Even the ones that are pro-Annie reveal the dark underbelly of this grotesque musical.

Annie has left a trail of shattered lives, lost childhoods and broken homes.

First of all, they fire children right and left. One girl had the lead in Annie, she got bronchitis. She wanted to keep performing anyway, but the doctor told her mother he would call Child Protective Services if she did. It turns out the girl was right to be worried. She stayed home from work. Became suspicious when she learned that her understudy wasn't the one taking her place. And a fax arrived in the middle of the night. (This may have been before email was in general use.) The rotten bastards fired her by fax.

They would bring the girls out every week and weigh them and measure them. If they grew or gained weight, they were fired.

There were the broken families. One parent had to go on tour with the roadshow production of the play. This meant that parents were separated for long periods. There were several cases where this ended in divorce.

In one case, a mother was sleeping around while on the road. Another mother had to help her secure an abortion.

In another case, a girl from a single-parent home was in the production. Her mother traveled with her, meaning her brother had to be left with his aunt. The brother was essentially turned into an orphan so that his sister could play an orphan on stage.

There was a girl fired from the production. Her mother told her the news. She was fired for having grown a couple of inches. The girl threw an 8 x 10 glossy of herself on the floor, began stomping on it yelling, "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" at her own picture.

You watch video of the children working hard, rehearsing over and over as they sing about being forced to work.

But, of course, it's those of us who can't stand crap like Annie who are denounced for being cold-hearted and cynical.

The most hideously exploited child star in the movies or television is at least treated as a recognizable individual. With this disgusting musical, they just bring out another girl, put the wig on her, and the rubes in the audience don't know the difference.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The TRUTH about Mr Holland's Opus

It stunk.

First of all, the opus---the music he spent his entire adult life composing---was terrible. Just awful!

Hard to believe that the makers of the movie didn't notice this.

But that was the real point of the movie.

Look at what happens at the end. Mr Holland realizes he was a great music teacher. All his students come back. They play his terrible, terrible music. Then they all talk to him. One of them is governor of the state. Some of them tell him what they do now.

"I'm an accountant!"

"I'm a comptroller!"

And that's how we know he was a great music teacher---because not one of his students went on to become a musician.

We see that Mr Holland's life as a musician was a complete waste. He spent his whole life writing a single tune and it was terrible. But he cheers up when he realizes his one true achievement in life was steering young people away from music--away from being an idiot like him.

I've never been able to sit through that movie. Didn't he have some problem because his son was deaf and he was too devoted to music to relate to the hearing impaired? This below-average no-talent bum.

People were gushing over that movie. They were pointing to it to advocate funding for school music programs.

And they're right. The whole point of school music is to steer the young away from music. They play classical music and jazz. The two least popular and most difficult genres. If the Beatles had gone to a school with a strong music program, they'd have died working in the coal mines. Or the shipyards. Whatever they have in Liverpool.

Music teachers think they're professional musicians. P.E. teachers think they're professional athletes. Art teachers think they're artists. Drama teachers think they're actors. The ones who teach academic subjects aren't quite as bad, but I've had English teachers who thought they were poets.

A guy I knew and his horrible experience in a school music program

I worked with a guy. He went to one of the local middle schools. I think it was Jefferson Middle School. Named for violent racist slave owner Thomas Jefferson, the school declared itself a "racism free zone". A racism free zone where a Russian kid was brutally beaten in the hallway a few feet from the principal's office by some right-wing communist-hating Hispanic thugs---I don't know their precise origins, if they were the spawn of anti-Castro Cubans or Honduran death squad members or pro-Pinochet Chileans.

The Russian kid was hospitalized and spent a week in bed at home. He had broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. When the principal of the school heard about it, she took quick, decisive action. She suggested the Russian parents meet with the Russian-hating thug parents.

The school had a music program. All 7th graders got to "choose" an "elective". They could either take band, orchestra or choir. And they had to pay for the privilege. They had to pay a fee to the school. Kids who either didn't have the money to pay the fee or didn't feel like paying for a class they didn't want to begin with were punished by being put in class called "Study Skills".

This went on all year. Each term, you either signed up for one of the music classes and handed over money, or you had to take "Study Skills" and go through the exact same class again and again and again.

So this fellow I knew signed up for band.

First, he had to listen to the teacher gloat that the school band had played for the President of the United States. Apparently the band played while George Bush, Sr., was campaigning somewhere in the state. I doubt he was listening too closely.

So the guy I knew started on one instrument. They moved him to a different one. It didn't help. He was tone deaf.

So they put him on drums. They found out was also arhythmic.

The teacher then tried to bully him into leaving the class. Either take choir or Study Skills.

But he held his ground. He paid his money. He had as much right to be in that class as anyone else and he refused to leave.

But there you have it. A public school devoted to music. Devoted to letting a college graduate with a soft government job delude himself into thinking he's a musician--a bandleader--and forcing students to bankroll his fantasy and punishing any who refuse.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Breaking Bad again

I don't know. Maybe I was wrong about Breaking Bad.

I mean, maybe Walt's transformation into a bad, bad man was a bit more abrupt than I thought. Truth is, I haven't been watching the show regularly enough.

But he did show surprising physical courage early on which must have come in large part from being terminally ill. They should have shown him as teacher disciplining unruly teenagers to foreshadow his standing up to the drug dealers.

Having him drive a hideous Pontiac Aztek seems like a stroke of genius.

What were the other great automotive casting decisions?

Rockford Files---Jim Rockford's Firebird

Hawaii Five-O---those big black Ford LTDs.

The Avengers---Emma Peel's Lotus Elan.

Married With Children---Al Bundy's Dodge.

I wouldn't count any that were obvious or unsubtle. Like the truck on The Beverly Hillbillies, or that thing Tom Selleck drove around in on Magnum P.I. or the antique Thunderbird the guy drove on Vegas.

There was the Sunbeam, the Kharman Ghia and the Opel GT Maxwell Smart drove, but they only appeared in the opening.

And the worst automotive choice in a TV series:

The big American station wagon with wood on the sides that Charlie's Angels drove around in. And the Mustang II one of them had.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The time I watched an Israeli movie

Israel is such a nasty, vile little country.

I watched an Israeli children's movie once. It was on TV. And this was on a pro-Israeli show. They'd show all this stuff gushing over how wonderful Israel is.

What the hell was it called? Hello, Jerusalem? Shalome something?

They showed a short film. A boy and a girl steal some money and run away to avoid going to the dentist. They buy candy. They walk out somewhere. They make a fire. A couple of Palestinian children come over to join them.

As an American, I had certain expectation. I figured they would initially distrust each other, but would soon become friends.

No. That's not what happened.

The two Jewish children sit there. The girl whispers to the boy, "They're so creepy!" Then she says, "Make them go away!"

Then we see some thuggish plainsclothes Israeli cops threatening an old Palestinian demanding to know where the two children are.

I had videotaped it. I told a friend about it---a Zionist. He didn't believe me. Then I showed it to him.

"You weren't kidding," he said.

Didn't change his views about Israel. I guess if the actual slaughter of Palestinian children year after year didn't change his mind, watching a movie advocating hatred of them wouldn't do it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ray Milland, Bryan Cranston

Ray Milland

There was a movie years ago called Panic in the Year Zero, 1962. American International Pictures. A tale of survival and sex slavery. Directed by and starring Ray Milland.

A family goes on a camping trip. Ray Milland, his wife, Jean Hagen, and his children, Mary Mitchell and Frankie Avelon.

Good thing they brought guns.

They're heading out and there are some odd reports on the radio, I don't remember. But they stop and get out of the car, look back and see a large mushroom cloud where Los Angeles was supposed to be.

Ray Milland instantly turns survivalist.

Cars are streaming out of LA. The traffic is rather heavy. They can't pull onto the road---there are too many cars! They won't stop and let them in!

So Ray Milland and Frankie grab a can of gasoline. They toss it into the road and set a large fire giving them time to merge.

The family hides out in a cave. Mary is taken prisoner and held as a sex slave by some young fellows, if I recall correctly. Ray Milland and Frankie Avalon kill them.

Milland turns instantly into an animal! He's willing to do whatever he has to survive. He doesn't care who suffers! He'll cause a massive pile-up on the road if it will allow him and his family to safely merge! He robs a small general store when the owner hears about the nuclear war and starts price gouging.

As one critic pointed out, Ray Milland was little better than the thugs who killed people and kept his daughter as a sex slave.

Bryan Cranston

On Malcolm in the Middle he was a very nice man consumed with love for his horrible wife and children.

On Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston starts out as a mild mannered high school science teacher. His DEA agent brother-in-law thinks he's a wimp.

But when he finds out he's terminally ill, Cranston decides to start producing methamphetamine so he'll be able to leave money for his family.

And he gradually gets worse. More and more violent and depraved as he gets deeper and deeper into his work.

I guess the point here is to contrast the instantaneous change Ray Milland went through. A nuclear attack and, POW!, he's a cruel heartless survivalist.

Bryan Cranston goes into the meth business thinking he can remain a nice guy. But there's no way to avoid certain things. There's a guy. They hold him prisoner. They don't want to kill him, but what else can they do?

He also seems to become distant from his wife and son. He works with one of his former students who he learned was a drug dealer. He's closer to him than to his own teenage son who begins to seem rather childish in comparison.

I don't know which is more realistic.

My guess is that someone changing from good to evil would probably be more like---

Like teenagers. They don't gradually drift from being immature children to being mature adults. It's like the changing of the guards. The new guards arrives. The old guard goes away. But for a moment or two, both guards are there at the same time.

Teenagers make the transition like that. They act like children half the time. They act like adults the other half. If they're lucky, the adult half gradually takes over.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The new Karate Kid

The old Karate Kid...they were teenagers and beat each other up a lot worse, and they made it look so easy. Wax the car, work on the deck, and you could win a karate tournament.

Maybe it was because Pat Morita, TV's Arnold, didn't know karate. He said he saw a karate school assumed it was a latin dance studio. (Interestingly enough, the U.S. banned martial arts in Occupied Japan at the end of World War Two, but did not ban karate because they thought it was a Japanese dance.)

The new karate kid----what are they calling it? The Kung Fu Kid?----has Jackie Chan who learned martial arts through years of horrible, monstrous abuse in a Chinese Circus. His parents left him there while they worked overseas. He might not care for the idea of the wax on-wax off thing. He suffered for years, spent a childhood in hell, and that's all you have to do?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's just too easy

The problem facing low budget movie makers

There was an article posted somewhere. It discussed some poor wretch. Photography was his life. He became a professional photographer. But he was having a terrible time getting work. Newspapers and magazine are shrinking or disappearing completely. On top of that, everybody has a digital camera now. The article went on to tell about a housewife who posted photos on Flickr and now they're being purchased as stock photos.

Seems like independent filmmakers are in a similar boat. The world's full of video cameras. Anybody who wants to make a movie can make a movie. Even someone who just has a mild, passing interest in making a movie can make a movie. In fact, their movies would probably be better because they wouldn't try as hard.

What we need to do is this:

Sit down and watch hours and hours of You Tube videos. Then figure out how to distinguish your video from theirs.

There was a time when shakey hand-held cameras created the illusion of reality. Now it just makes it looks like something someone put on YouTube.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

John Waters' Role Models

John Waters has written a new book. Role Models. About the various persons he looks to as role models, including Johnny Mathis and some makers of pornographic movies. Gave an interesting interview to Terry Gross on Fresh Air. You can listen to it at

Come to think of it, I said something rude about John Waters in a recent post. About his anti-Diane Linkletter movie.

As I understand it, Waters made "The Diane Linkletter Story" to test out the single-system sound camera he was using to make Pink Flamingos.

Was it really necessary to record live sound?

And, if you ask me, low budget movie makers who shoot without sound and dub everything put way too much work into it.

Look at Manos: The Hands of Fate. It was shot without sound and dubbed. Would that movie really have been any worse if the lip-sych had been a bit off? The voice side of the acting might have been more interesting if they hadn't had to focus on matching everything exactly.

Would it really have hurt if Pink Flamingoes had been sloppily dubbed? Not all that sloppy, but somewhat sloppy. Even John Waters was kind of embarrassed by the overall quality. He could have filmed it faster and cheaper. Wouldn't need to shoot re-takes for bad sound or flubbed lines (although he probably didn't anyway.)

Maybe do it like Doris Wishman where they just avoided showing the actors' mouths while they talked. Gave it kind of an artistic quality----the camera showing people's feet or their hands gesturing, or the person who wasn't talking, listening thoughtfully.