Monday, July 29, 2013

Why somebody doesn't slap Justin Bieber

Bodyguard apparently shielding the boy.
I don't know what they're doing.

I live next door to an old spanish style house built in the '20s or '30s. The old couple who lived there died. Now college students rent it. And every time a new batch of college students move in there, one of them goes to the bathroom off the terrace. I guess each group thinks they're doing something new and clever.

And now we have Justin Bieber. I don't know if he was actually trying to spit on his fans gathered below or if he just wanted to spit off the balcony, but it was surprisingly big news.

Kids love spitting from high places. Are they really aiming for people?

Bieber's problem is that he has those bodyguards so no one can slap him.

Well, he'll pay for everything he's done wrong. He'll pay with a lifetime of shame over the tattoos he has all over him if nothing else.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Charlie Sheen, The Boys Next Door, Penelope Spheeris

Interesting that you have middling movie actors who make it big on TV. I guess critics liked her and she was in some huge, successful movies, but Candice Bergen just couldn't act. I tried to watch Soldier Blue recently, but she was just terrible. But I did like her on TV.

Now I'm watching a young Charlie Sheen in a Penelope Spheeris movie, The Boys Next Door (1985). It's just not very good, although that was probably Spheeris' fault, not Sheen's. Her movies had a made-for-TV quality which normally wouldn't bother me. She makes lousy use of color.

Wait. Let me adjust the TV.

Well. I turned down the color. It might be a little better in black and white, but they're talking constantly.

During the high speed chase, when they swerve to get away from the cops, the driver should have just done it. He shouldn't have said "Watch this!"

The movie is about two recent high school graduates who go to LA and commit a series of assaults and murders.

The music isn't helping at all. Bad and loud.

Cost an estimated five million bucks back then.

"Look! They're up there! Come on! Come on!" the cops yell when they spot them on the mezzanine in a shopping mall.

In the old days, when TV's had fine tuners, you would often change the channel and have it appear in black and white until you tuned it. It happened to me several times that I would change to a channel, there would be an old movie I had never seen before and it would look beautiful, stunning in black and white. Then I would fine tune it, the color would appear and it would look like crap. They make far better use of color now than they used to.

Phil Marlowe

There was that Ukrainian-American director Edward Dmytryk. He said that nobody ever walked out of a mystery no matter how bad it was. It was a puzzle and the audience wanted to see the solution.

I don't know if that's true. I have no trouble turning off really bad mysteries. Dmytryk directed Murder, My Sweet which I liked, based on a Raymond Chandler novel which actually wasn't all that much of a mystery. Chandler's books tended not to make complete sense. There's never been an explanation by anyone as to who committed one of the murders in The Big Sleep. Is it ever really clear how Philip Marlowe solves any of his cases or does he just jump to a wild conclusion?

Kenneth Millar who wrote the Lew Archer series under the name Ross Macdonald argued that, in Chandler's books, the plot was of no importance. He had reason for a bit of a grudge against Chandler who attacked Macdonald's early novel, The Moving Target, in a letter to the publisher. Millar noted that Chandler liked old men and young boys in his books and seemed to hate all his other characters.

I don't know how I feel about Chandler. I only read one of his novels and it had a couple of racist elements to it which ruined it for me. How can a smart private detective be a simple-minded racist? I thought that Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye was an improvement on the novel which wasn't very good----it was seen as a sign of Chandler's decline. The movie's ending was better than the book's.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

David Hyde Pierce, "The Perfect Host"

Very good movie, made for half a million bucks. I can't say much about it because I don't want to give it away, but a fugitive on the run cons his way into Pierce's home. He's preparing for a dinner party. The fugitive may have picked the wrong place.

Woody Allen, Whatever Works

I thought I might be able to watch Woody Allen's Whatever Works. Apparently it was originally written with Zero Mostel in mind. I tried to imagine Mostel in Larry David's role and it was a little more bearable.

I'll watch it again and try to imagine Alan Ladd in the role. Maybe Buddy Ebsen. Alan Hale, Jr.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cowboys & Indians

I have a feeling that some would dislike it, but I just saw a very good recent low budget western called Cowboys & Indians (2011), the work of Aaron and Tyler Burk.

We see some guys in the desert. They briefly express fear of the local Indians. They dig. They find gold! Gold! They're rich! Then the Indians kill them. And it happens about that fast.

I don't think the Indian nation portrayed in the movie ever existed.

Seemed to be filmed on digital video.

Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

We see a pioneer woman in a sun bonnet sitting at the bar in a saloon with a filthy prospector hitting on her.

"Please! Sir! I'd like to be left alone!"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anthony Weiner

In Anthony Weiner's defense, he had just resigned in disgrace from Congress, his political career seemed to be completely over and done. At that point, why NOT send lewd photos of himself over the internet if that was what he was into?

The guy seems to be in pretty good shape. I don't know if he became physically fit and then wanted to show the world, or if he got into shape because he thought it would make his lewd photos more appealing. You notice that Justin Bieber only began parading around shirtless in public after he started working out and got all sinewy with visible stomach muscles.

There was a scene in the movie Murder, My Sweet. Philip Marlow is grooming himself in his one-room apartment. He didn't notice that a woman slipped in while the boy was picking up his laundry.

"You have a nice build for a private detective," she said.

"It gets me around," he said.

Which was sort of funny because the guy didn't have a nice build. He looked like a middle aged guy in a tee shirt.

With that in mind, look back at It Happened One Night. It was famous for the scene where Clark Gable isn't wearing an undershirt. Audiences were scandalized. It allegedly caused a drop in tee shirt sales. But the scene from Murder My Sweet raises the question, why DID all the other men in movies back then wear tee shirts? Could it be that they were all flabby and out of shape?

Could it be that physical fitness is a scourge that leads to indecent exposure?

I've seen people I know who have gotten all physically fit who then take pictures of themselves showing off their new selves, but the pictures always look weird and creepy. Anthony Weiner should have taken note. He should have had some professionally done lewd photos with professional lighting and maybe make-up. Oil himself up a bit to create highlights.

It's been proven that people often judge photos as pornographic based on the attractiveness of the model and the quality of the photography. If Weiner had hired a good photographer, he might still be in Congress.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chris Matthews discusses royal inbreeding

From an article on coverage of Prince William and his wife's new baby:
...Chris Matthews asked if there would ever again be an ugly queen, observing that both Middleton and the late Princess Diana of Wales were attractive. A London-based reporter for The Daily Beast speculated that attractive women were necessary to shore up the “hopelessly inbred” Windsor family gene pool.

“They seem to be working every generation on the gene pool,” Matthews asserted in a question to The Daily Beast’s Tom Sykes. “They brought in Diana to help William along there, and now they brought in anther attractive – at least attractive, a beautiful woman.

“Is there ever going to be an average looking queen again, or is it just — are we in the age of television and People Magazine now?” Matthews asked.

“I think you’re absolutely right, Chris,” Sykes agreed. “It’s good that they’ve brought in some good, hearty peasant stock in the shape of the Middletons to revitalize that hopelessly inbred royal blood.”

“Kate Middleton has kicked this family into the 21st Century,” he continued. “Everything has been led by her. Absolutely every decision they’ve made.”
Which would explain why Prince Charles married Diana instead of Camilla Parker Bowles with whom he was allegedly in love all that time. Rude to say, but why DID he marry Diana instead of Camilla?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Jon Jost vs Steven Spielberg

Years and years ago----was it 1986? Jon Jost did a filmmaking seminar followed by a workshop at the University of Oregon. I was working as a dishwasher and could only attend one. It started with a brief discussion of whether this was the seminar or the workshop and how one could distinguish a seminar from a workshop. I think the consensus was that it was a workshop, but we didn't dwell on it. One guy ran to 7 Eleven and got some beer.

This was before digital video and even before Hi8 or SVHS video. Jost said that if he were starting out making movies then, he would film on Video8. They were the first camcorders to have flying eraser heads for clean cuts between shots, which VHS camcorders didn't have yet. He said to film the thing in sequence and when you were done, push eject and there it was----your finished movie! If you want to add music, transfer it to one inch tape so you didn't lose quality.

One student muttered something about a tape-to-film transfer. Jost dismissed it. Just show it on videotape. If you want to, use a video projector.

The film students were aghast at the thought of making a movie that couldn't be shown in a cinema.

If it's your first movie, it probably won't be any good anyway, Jost assured them.

Today, it's hard to imagine film students reacting in horror at the thought of people watching their movies on television, never making it into theaters.

Which is why I found that thing with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, warning about Hollywood's collapse, rather stupid.

They weren't saying that their movies wouldn't be made or seen, but they were horrified that Lincoln and Red Tails almost didn't make it into theaters. Lincoln almost went straight to HBO. They talked about Hollywood's potential collapse if five or six quarter-billion dollar films failed in a row, as The Long Ranger, $225 million, is failing now.

But when they said this, they seemed to be talking entirely about showings in theaters. Only the really big movies would make it onto the big screen. Everything else you'd watch at home.

I assumed that film students took it for granted that their work would be shown this way. Which seems fine to me.

It's kind of disappointing. You see the headline about Hollywood's collapse and you get all excited, then it turns out that's all they're talking about.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Old woman hates people

I was driving home. I saw a guy standing on the streetcorner holding a sign. He didn't look pitiful or especially needy. He looked normal but like someone I would avoid. But I gave him two dollars.

Then I drove around the corner and there was an old woman holding a sign that said something like, "Very crippled senior". She had a walker. I realized that since I gave money to the other guy I'd better give money to her, too.

I gave her four or five bucks. I had to lean across and hand it to her which meant she had to struggle over to take it.

She said that there are a lot of nice people, then she added, "I mostly hate people." She said I was nice but she didn't have much to base that on.

Maybe she hated me, too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Killer's Moon

I'm watching a British horror movie about axe-wielding mental hospital escapees who take a schoolbus load of high school girls hostage. The thing is just starting. We see the bus going through the English countryside which is better-looking that I would have thought. I thought Britain just looked like New England. And they have much better-looking buses than we do. The movie was made in 1978. Their tour bus industry was way ahead of ours.

"I can't find the axe," says a camper.

"It's gone!"

"I left it right there!"

Meanwhile, in the big city, some people talk in an attractively wall-papered office.

"As usual in these cases, everyone is acting out of the best possible motives. And, as usual in these cases, I am placed in an impossible and embarrassing position. I may have the best press officer in the world. But I doubt that even he could make this reflect to our credit. Dangerous criminal escapes. And where does he escape from? Not from a prison. Not even from a secure mental home. But from a cottage hospital bed!"

Three deranged killers were being treated with LSD.

Now the bus has broken down.

Blank City

What they say about film school----you don't learn much, but you make connections. That's the important thing.

I've said before that would-be film students should save their money and find some other way to make connections, they should make their own movies for no money---if they wait to be discovered it'll never happen. And...and...and...what other sensible advice did I have for the young? I can't remember. Don't listen to advice from people like me? What do I know.

I watched a movie called Blank City, a documentary about an underground film movement which appeared in the 1980s in New York City. Among the people in this movement, such as it was, were Jim Jarmusch, Deborah Harry, Amos Poe, Lydia Lunch, Lizzie Bordon, Steve Buschemi and others. They lived in a horrible section of New York where you could rent an apartment for $50 a month-----it would have cost you three times that to rent just a room here at that time. But it was a dangerous crime ridden area. Most of the people seemed to be more into "music" than film. And they weren't that good at either. They were philisophically opposed to technique, one of them said.

And most of the clips they showed of their work didn't look very good. You'd think black and white film shot in New York would be more interesting.

It's amazing how many of them went on to success, although we don't see how many failed, or how many were murdered in the streets.

Well, moving pictures are even less of a novelty now than they were back then. Everyone has a video camera, even if they don't want one.

See if you can create your own underground cinematic movement.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dana Stevens on Natalie Portman

Unfortunately, [the movie] also assumes that Natalie Portman is interesting enough to watch suffer for two hours. Here I come up against what I’m fully willing to admit may be a personal limitation … I’ve never believed her in a single role. She evokes no emotional response in me beyond, “Oh, there’s Natalie Portman.” She doesn’t overact or underact; she just stands around with whatever the appropriate expression for the scene seems to be on her sweet, pretty, childlike face. If there’s something going on behind that face, I neither know nor care what it is, which means that long stretches of Brothers involving her character’s interiority struck me as dramatically inert. If you possess the gene that enables Portman-caring, you may find them brilliant.

George Zimmerman got away with murder

Now that George Zimmerman's been acquitted, child molesters should flock to Florida. They can cruise neighborhoods in a van leering at young boys, chase them down if they try to run and, if they fight back, they're legally entitled to kill them. As long as they target black children, they can count on a jury of southern white ladies to let them off. In the words of Zimmerman himself, "These assholes always get away."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Snowden in Russia

Snowden is accepting asylum in Russia which seems like a wise move. It seems like they and the Chinese are better at keeping the CIA out of their country. The big drawback will be that Russian is a much harder language than Spanish. But he's doing what he should have done in the first place.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A tweet from J Elvis Weinstein

"Just wait, I taught him how to fling his poop, too." -- Justin Bieber's abandoned monkey.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Justin Bieber goes to the bathroom in mop bucket

"Justin Bieber is an oblivious, self-important little twit who goes out of his way to make the working man's life miserable -- just watch this video of the singer pissing into a restaurant mop bucket ... and laughing like he's the king of the world."
Yes, it's true. Justin Bieber went to the bathroom in a restaurant mop bucket. Shockingly, his shaven headed Israeli bodyguard was standing where he could see his wiener. Then Bieber, a Canadian, sprayed some Windex on a picture of Bill Clinton and said "Fuck Clinton".
I don't know what's wrong with his bodyguard. He held Bieber back from attacking a photographer and put him in a van---he ought to be able to hustle him to a restroom and make him behave like a little Canadian gentleman. Maybe the Israeli bodyguards are his problem.

They were talking about prosecuting him for his other crimes, like spitting on his neighbor and driving through his neighborhood at 100 miles per hour. I wish they'd hurry up and do it. The boy is just going to get worse and worse. Deputies from the sheriff's department think he needs counseling.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Netflix queue

"Why can't I admit that there are some TV shows I'm just never going to watch, even if they're good and on Netflix."
Josh "Elvis" Weinstein on Twitter

I did it. I removed about five hundred movies from my two Netflix queues, for both DVDs and streaming video. Most of them looked pretty good, but I still wasn't going to watch them most likely. There was one I tried watching but the characters talked really fast and it was subtitled. I could read fast enough if I never looked at the picture.

Most were movies I'd never heard of before, but they looked interesting, and if I hadn't added them, I would never have remembered them. Others were movies I would remember----I could remove them and find them again if I ever wanted to watch them. There were ones that looked interesting as historical oddities, but not really entertaining, like a '70s made-for-TV drama about venereal disease.

Hollywood ready to collapse?

The late Alexander Cockburn wrote a long article on on US cultural hegemony.

In the '50s, the US dominated British youth culture. British teens were dressing in blue jeans, hanging around milk bars, listening to rock and roll. Which was probably a good thing, really.

The last thing the US demanded from the French before they could receive money under the Marshall Plan was that they end the limit on how many foreign films could be shown in their country. If they wanted to rebuild their country, they were going to have to let their move industry drown in a flood of Hollywood movies.

But, Cockburn noted, the ultimate result of US domination of British youth culture was The British Invasion and the humiliation of American musicians. In France, admirers of American movies launched the French New Wave which knocked Hollywood on its ear.

But today, Hollywood's world domination is like US military domination. It's based on the absurd amount of money they're willing to spend producing crap. I don't see how anyone's going to compete. What country is stupid enough to squander a quarter of a billion dollars on something like The Lone Ranger? How would those French guys have competed with that?

But now Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have argued that Hollywood is ready to collapse under its own monstrous weight. Three or six big budget failures in a row could do the trick. There's too much competition, too many big budget movies plus TV and computers and video games and whatever else people do. Like reading.

But their main concern seemed to be getting into theaters. Spielberg had trouble getting his movie Lincoln into cinemas---it came "that close" to ending up on HBO---and Lucas barely managed to get his movie Red Tails into theaters.

They predicted that Hollywood might start charging different ticket prices for $250 million block busters and smaller amounts for more modest productions. Or lower budget movies would go straight to TV while the absurdly expensive ones would be shown in theaters for a couple of years. Spielberg noted that E.T. was in theaters for a year and a half.

The American people are getting dumber and dumber. They're too slow to read subtitles but they're confused by dubbing. Now foreign filmmakers are making their movies in English. The first Bean movie with Rowan Atkinson had him travel to America because it was the only way to get an American audience and there are those English-language Lars Von Trier movies.

It may be too late for us. We may be doomed. Disney may be all there is for us.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Lone Ranger, Lucas, Spielberg

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted that Hollywood could "implode" if there were six $250 million big budget failures in a row. Let's hope they're right. We got one, The Lone Ranger. Five more and Hollywood will be kaput.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Midnight in Paris

I don't know how I felt about Midnight in Paris. A nice-looking movie. Gil is a Hollywood screenwriter hanging around Paris with his wealthy fiancee. He likes the idea of moving to Paris way too much and she doesn't like it at all. Then he finds himself going back in time and hanging around writers in Paris in the 1920s who, for some reason, are happy to hang around with him even though they have no idea who he is.

Gil finds it demeaning to be a successful screenwriter in Hollywood. He wants to be a literary writer.

It makes me think of Allen's first "serious" movie, Interiors. Diane Keaton plays a celebrity poet. Her sister is out of work and is offered a job at a big New York ad agency even though she's never worked in advertising,  but she won't take it because advertising is beneath her.

There is no such thing as a celebrity poet. You can't earn a living as a poet. You write poems for years then you finally get one published and you get paid about ten bucks. Literally ten bucks.

And how easy does Allen think it is to get a job on Madison Avenue? One might reasonably look down on that profession, but that doesn't mean the jobs are easy to come by or that just anyone is qualified to do it.

I've written this before----Allen is like Bill Cosby. On The Cosby Show, he's a doctor and his wife is a lawyer, but, somehow, neither one shows any sign of having any medical or legal knowledge and their professions never prevent them from getting home at 5:30 and never, in any way shape or form, intrude on any aspect of their lives. It's a stand-up comedian's idea of being a professional.

Woody Allen doesn't have a clue.

I watched a documentary on William S Burroughs. Made while he was still living. His son, William Burroughs, Jr, visits. I'm not sure if the son had published anything at that point, but he was a writer himself. He died during the making of the documentary.

Burroughs mentions to his son that there's a restaurant nearby that's looking for a dishwasher. His son says that they would never hire him because they knew him back when he was on drugs.

If it were a Woody Allen movie, he would have said, "Really, father! I have no intention of working in advertising! Even if it means being only upper-middle-class, I still prefer life as a poet!"

Contrast Midnight in Paris to John Fante's short novel, My Dog Stupid published in his book West of Rome.

Arturo Bandini (based on Fante himself) is a screenwriter between jobs. He dreams of giving it all up and moving to Rome. His plan is to sell his Porsche, scrape together several thousand dollars, fly to Rome, rent a small room, and earn small amounts of money sweeping sidewalks.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Obama unmasked

It's like dying, reaching the gates of heaven and discovering that Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson were right all along.

It turns out that Obama is far worse than any Tea Bagger ever dared imagine, spying on pretty much everyone in the world who has a computer or a telephone and apparently compiling blackmail material on all of them. There's no other good explanation for the timid response from these other governments, the fact that Evo Morales' plane was forced to land in Vienna where it was carefully searched in blatant violation of international law, all because Obama thought Edward Snowden might be on board.

The mask is off. There's no denying what he is.