Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lone Ranger---$250 million

"The Lone Ranger should be big.
What kid isn't dying to see
their grandpa's favorite radio
character in action?"
--J Elvis Weinstein

I was in a Subway late last night. They had some sort of cardboard Lone Ranger display.

"Can you believe they spent $250 million on that thing?" I was going to say to the guy, but I didn't.

I wonder what happened to Klinton Spilsbury, the guy who starred in the last Lone Ranger movie in 1981. The poor guy suffered terribly. His wife was seriously ill during the filming, it was his first (and last) movie. And people were mad at him because the producers of the movie sued Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on TV in the '50s. Moore was still making appearances in costume as The Lone Ranger. The producers didn't think an elderly man conveyed the image they wanted, so they sued to force him to stop wearing a mask in public. He began making appearances wearing large black sunglasses.

On top of that,it was reported that he was drinking, smoking and fighting off the set during the filming, and he was ridiculed when it was reported that all his dialog was being dubbed. I don't know if his acting was bad or if they just wanted him to sound different.

The poor guy won a couple of "Razzies", one for worst actor, one for worst new star.

The movie was a hit in China. Unfortunately, China had very few movie theaters. I don't know how many they had in 1981, but they only had about 100 at one point.

But now----why? Why a Lone Ranger movie? There was a Green Hornet movie----the Green Hornet was supposed to be the great grand nephew of the Lone Ranger.

But nobody goes to Westerns anymore, especially a children's western from the early '50s.

It reminds me of The Three Amigos, the '86 comedy with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase. It was a spoof of a 1930s B movie series. What sense does it make to spoof a series that hadn't been seen in 50 years?

Well, the thing will have to gross well over half a billion dollars just to break even. About $625 million.

I remember when they made fun of Heaven's Gate  because they spent $38 million on a western.

Will Smith demands too much money

Was there an Independence Day 2 and 3 I didn't know about? Because I just learned that Will Smith is demanding too much money to appear in Independence Day 4.

Well, that's fine. Not that I'm going to see it, but I hated him in the first movie. He did that stupid thing where he walks around alone constantly shouting "funny" things. Do people like that sort of crap?

But, anyway, he wants too much money even after the box office failure of that movie he made with his son.

The next Independence Day movie should have a stoic, dignified character take Smith's place. Someone who doesn't shout things unnecessarily. 

Snowden in Moscow?

I hope Edward Snowden knows what he's doing. As Julien Assange found out, the "liberal democracies" won't protect him. They were talking about his going to Iceland, but if the CIA wants to kidnap or murder him, what's Iceland going to about it? China and Russia are the two countries that know how to keep the CIA out. They reported that he was under the protection of anti-terrorist police in Hong Kong.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Miley Cyrus

A few years ago, I was on the internet talking to someone from a foreign land. The TV was on. It was a movie from the late '60s I had never seen before.

"Hey! There's a naked lady on TV!" I exclaimed.

I explained that we don't have much TV nudity in America.

And I realized that it was ex-Disney star Haley Mills.

Even in the '60s, these poor kids had to degrade themselves on screen to overcome their pasts at Disney.

I clicked on a link to Miley Cyrus's new video. She seems to be following in the footsteps of the other Disney girls. I didn't have the sound turned on, so I can't comment on the music and I have no idea how it related to the visuals.

Well, if that's what she wants to do, that's her business. I would tone it down. There's more than one antidote to the nightmare of Disney. She could have done a high brow Ingmar Bergman-like music video, or done some sort of left-wing political video.

But is what Cyrus and these others have done an antidote to their Disney years, or is it somehow a continuation of them? Is it a reaction against Disney or is this what Disney has turned them into?

Justin Bieber loses another monkey

Justin Bieber reportedly enraged a private jet company by keeping them waiting at the airport in Florida while he tried to find his pet monkey.

Bieber's an irresponsible pet owner. He took another monkey to Germany. The creature was put into quarantine and he never went back for it. Now he takes another monkey to Florida and loses it.

I don't blame him for wanting a pet monkey. He was impoverished as a child and he worked and traveled constantly as a teenager. Maybe he never had a pet before.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Slim Whitman, RIP

I had a Slim Whitman record, a single. He sang an Elvis song and I don't remember what was on the other side.

He did have a huge hit in England which really did outsell Elvis and the Beatles.

Slim Whitman has died at age 90.

I don't know how he felt about the movie Mars Attacks where his rendition of "Indian Love Song" makes the Martians' heads explode.

I saw him long ago, back when they were selling his records on TV, on the David Letterman Show. The audience went wild, and I had the impression that he knew they were being ironic. He was a big man, bigger than Letterman who I thought was pretty tall himself. Letterman wanted to try on Whitman's sparkly jacket.

He performed here in Eugene in the early '50s----I learned this looking through the microfilm of the local paper at the library.

He had a more interesting life than I have so far.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

BBC, Press TV

I heard the clowns on the BBC get their knickers in a twist because the Iranians wouldn't let them freely cover their elections. The Brits didn't mention that their government had banned Press TV, the Iranian news service, from Britain on the grounds that it was controlled by people outside of Britain. So why didn't they ban CNN?

Stupid Brits.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

All my friends

When I started going to high school, they took the incoming tenth graders into the auditorium. They told us some stuff, I don't remember what.

All I remember was the student body president speaking to us. He started with a joke.

He said he was glad to see that all his friends had come down to support him---"I see both of you are here." The joke being that he only had two friends.

I chuckled politely, then remembered that I only had two friends not counting acquaintances. I had given up on the acquaintances some time earlier when I realized that they were friends with each other but not with me. 

And how many friends are you supposed to have anyway? Even if you're a teenager, you're deluding yourself if you think you have more than a few.

Show don't tell. Or go ahead and tell.

I'm still watching episodes of Arrested Development.

I thought I would mention that there is an alternative meaning to the axiom "Show, don't tell".

People usually take it to mean that everything should be acted out rather than simply stated.

There was the other meaning, that the narrative needs logic and consistency so that it appears you're revealing the story rather than inventing or directing it.

That's how you can get away with all the narration.

It is kind of nice to have them just tell you stuff. It's so much easier and you can get so much more information out of it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Arrested Development, I Love Lucy

Watching Arrested Development season two. That guy, Tobias----and his wife----they're trying to have an open marriage, but neither one can get a date.

This already happened on I Love Lucy, an episode entitled "In a Rut". Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel decide to have open marriages but none of them manage to pull it off. Especially Fred.

Henry Winkler is a lot better on this than he was on Happy Days. It must be painful, though, for Potsie, Ralph and Joanie, being left out. Poor Joanie had to appear on Celebrity Fit Club.

Potsie is a TV director now. He's apparently friends with Ralph---I saw them together on You Tube discussing movie production. They should have gotten even with Ron Howard by doing their OWN Arrested Development-like show without asking Ronnie to appear. They could have Clint Howard narrate although he did appear in Arrested Development.

Scott Baio is a Republican. He was the original pick to star in Top Gun, but they gave Tom Cruise the role. Look at any Tom Cruise movie----that should have been Scott Baio!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Il Mostro Dell'isola (Island Monster)

I've noticed that even movies like the ones by Woody Allen, filmed very simply in medium shot with everything filmed from one angle, the camera tends to start drifting, dollying or tracking, even if the movement is rather slight. I always wonder why they bother. Is it really worth the time  and trouble? Couldn't you just use a fluid head tripod and have it look almost the same?

It was sort of refreshing to see a movie where they did this. Watched an Italian movie, Island Monster (Il Mostro dell'Isola, Italy, 1954) filmed mostly in medium shot apparently with nothing but a tripod. It worked fine.

I noted here before that, during the '80s, they started this business of making every shot a tracking shot. The camera would move constantly, usually for no reason. Sometimes it would slowly drift, other times it would zip around.

If you read anything about low budget filmmaking back then, you'd usually find a lot about how to do cheap tracking shots often using wheelchairs as dollies.

I think that nonsense has finally died down.

Island Monster was black and white. It also seemed to have eschewed Hollywood lighting. In black and white movies everything is the same color. The only way to make the subject stand out from the background is to have the subject correctly exposed and the background either over- or under-exposed. In this movie, the backgrounds were properly exposed, and it seemed to work fine, too.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino

I'm sitting here with Scent of a Woman on TV in the next room. The music was lifted from Charlie Chaplin's City Lights.

Al Pacino overacts rather badly. Trying to picture it acted by a relatively young Leslie Nielsen before he turned to comedy.

When I first saw this movie, I naively wondered why Al Pacino had his eyes so wide open playing a blind guy. Apparently he had an eye job.

Robert Reed, the Brady Bunch

Something I didn't know before. Robert Reed agreed to be on The Brady Bunch because he was told it would be more adult than Gilligan's Island.

Gilligan's Island was the more sophisticated show. One episode was based on "The Most Dangerous Game", it had an Alcatraz-like bird man in another. The Skipper was a traumatized war veteran tormented by nightmares.

They should have done what they did with Gilligan's Island. Brought in some literary references. Imogene Cocoa appeared as an Auntie Mame-like bohemian in one episode, but they should have done a couple of shows based loosely on, say, the work of Tennessee Williams. Greg should have brought home a gentleman caller for Jan who helps her overcome her middle-child syndrome.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Arrested Development vs Eight is Enough

As I mentioned in a recent post, it was Willie Aames who became a movie star in a foreign country, starring in an Israeli nudie film.

So it may have been ironic that, on the Eight Is Enough reunion made-for-TV movie (1987), that it was Joanie who somehow became a French movie star.

They did that thing they tend to do on reunion shows----had all the characters be wildly successful. This was a problem for Eight is Enough because the cast was so big. One married a baseball player, one married a wealthy sheep rancher for some reason. They couldn't think of enough plausible ways for each of them to have done really well.

Joanie was married to French movie director with her half-French son, Jean-Pierre. Maybe she was supposed to be sort of a Jane Birkin with her Charlotte Gainsbourg-like child.

You look at Isabelle Huppert or Jeanne Moreau, then you look at Joanie from Eight is Enough. It would have been more plausible if they made her a star in a country not known for its movies.

And what happened to Ralph Macchio? What happened between the end of the series and the reunion that made them forget he ever existed? And, now that I think about it, why didn't Cousin Oliver ever get to visit any of the later incarnations of the Brady Bunch?

I bring all this up after watching the new Netflix-produced episodes of Arrested Development. It was the opposite of the other TV reunions. Everyone was worse. Even the sympathetic ones----I wondered if I misjudged Michael and George-Michael. Michael's devotion to his son was less endearing, George-Michael's attraction to his cousin seemed less innocuous and the cousin he was attracted to seemed a lot more screwed up. I don't think I'm giving anything away here.

It was like a TV reality show---one of the ones about rich people who don't deserve to be rich. Here, even the more pleasant ones have never accomplished anything.

It reminded me of the people who referred to Prince William as "Pugsly". Yes, he may have seemed fine when he was fifteen, but you think that's going to last? Look at his gene pool, look at the environment he grew up in. You don't think he'll end up just like the rest of his screwed up, inbred family?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith

Justin Bieber is encouraging everyone to see his friend Jaden Smith's new movie, After Earth. There was an article about it with a cute picture of the two of them hugging---each with his pants down in back and his bottom sticking out, which makes it rather weird. Justin's about five years older and should try to set an example by pulling his pants up.

Jaden's fourteen. He's a lovely kid, but apparently he's the star of this would-be summer blockbuster. As I understand it, his father stays in the wrecked spaceship while the kid runs around being chased by animals that have evolved only to kill humans.

Bob Mondello on NPR said:
Now if they'd sent the actors on location instead of doing most of the picture digitally with green screens, "After Earth" probably would have cost about 20 bucks to make, mostly just two people, Will Smith sitting incapacitated in a wrecked spaceship communicating electronically with Jaden Smith, as he runs through the woods pursued by sadistic screenwriters.
I don't know if the green screen was more expensive or not. But I'm not sure I'd want to film a movie with a child running around in the woods unless he had two or three stunt doubles on hand.

In one of his memoirs, Charles Grodin talked about how the director of the '70s version of King Kong had to insist on building a jungle set. Dino de Larentis wanted it filmed on location, but the director thought it would be too dangerous to film actors running through the actual jungle. 

But it's something for low budget movie directors to think about. An After Earth mockbuster might be a pretty good deal, a movie with just two actors in the woods.

I was surprised that there weren't more Blue Lagoon rip-offs for just that reason. Two kids on a beach. How much could that cost? The only one I know of was an Israeli-made rip-off called Paradise with Willie Aames, Phoebe Cates and a masturbating chimpanzee. Being made by Zionists, it shows them fleeing the Arabs and taking refuge in an Oasis where they frolic naked.

Gene Siskel got mad at Roger Ebert.

Ebert quipped that, in The Blue Lagoon, the kids learn about sex by watching sea turtles mate, but luckily, in Paradise, they only had one camel. Siskel pointed out the chimpanzees.

You could probably make a Rebel Without A Cause rip-off pretty cheaply. Just film a couple of bookends then make the bulk of the movie a rip off of the part where Sal Mineo, James Dean and Natalie Wood are hanging around the abandoned mansion.