Tag Archives: movies
Good lord it’s been a long time since I posted. Because I’ve been talking about pop culture stuff in a roomful of sweaty men. You know, every woman’s fantasy.
Thanks to everybody who sends me messages via Mikel’s Twitter – I’ve gotten great recommendations for classic Hollywood-themed podcasts (You Must Remember This), and people asking for my recommendations on stuff like books about the death of classic Hollywood (“Pictures at a Revolution”).
If you haven’t listened to Lasertime before, I recommend that, too, even when I’m not on it and everybody gets everything wrong wrong wrong.
Here are some of my favorite episodes since I posted last:
Classical Cartoon Music Quiz: You know that one music they always play in movies when they’re at a snooty restaurant? Do you know what it’s called? I quiz the guys on stuff that gets reused constantly.
Awkward Celebrity Encounters: Turns out I’ve met a lot of famous people.
What’s Your Favorite Future?: Blade Runner, Planet of the Apes and more, costarring my brother, a professional smart person.
Robin Williams: We recorded this a few days after he died, and I think we did a good job picking out career highlights. I talked candidly about suicide in this episode, and I’m glad I did.
When Actors Sing: Stars have a pretty bad batting average when it comes to cutting albums.
Oscartime 2015: Now with never-before-seen footage!
MST3K Turkey Day: A Thanksgiving salute to a modern holiday tradition.
Killer Actors: A sort of follow-up to the on-set movie deaths episode.
Conspiracy Bleary: We settle the theories once and for all.
Gross Toys: A look at the ’80s heyday of toilet humor for kids, featuring the grossest things that have ever happened to us.
Man, the one thing I do on the internet and I don’t even plug it on my own site!
I’ve been making semi-regular appearances on LaserTime, the internet’s finest podcast about whatever pop-culture randomness grabs someone’s attention that week. I’m the resident classic film nerd they bring in to talk about older, more obscure stuff these kids today don’t care about, with their hair and their clothes and their twerking. Stuff like “Staying Alive” or whether Cesar Romero was gay or “Fritz the Cat” or the epic death of Oliver Reed.
Classic Hollywood homosexuals: “Gayest Episode Ever”
Forgotten film follow-ups: “Sequels You Never Knew Existed”
Actors who deserved better: “Saddest Final Film Roles”
Best DVD extras ever: “Death of DVD”
Naughty cartoons: “Animation for Adults”
Also lots of fun:
Godzilla, kaiju, et al: “Giant Monster Fighting”
Good movies you wouldn’t watch again: “Watching the Unwatchable”
At least they tried: “Worst Accents in Film”
On-set movie deaths: “Dying is Easy”
San Francisco: “Hobosexual”
Oscars 2012: “Oscar Time”
And just in time for the holidays:
Now I have a machine gun: “Manliest Xmas Movies”
I’m glad I’m Jewish: “Worst Christmas Specials Ever Made”
So many things make for a terrible musical number. Get ready to see all of them.
There were five production numbers in the 1993 Oscars, mostly for the best original song nominees, and ranging from “Eh” to “My eyes are melting! And so is my brain!” Charming Disney songs are ruined! Icons are embarrassed! Sailors prance! Keep reading to see the insanity realized!
Wanna see something cute?
At the time, it was the 25th anniversary of “The Graduate.” They gave out the writing awards.
The Oscars 1993 have impacted you if you’ve seen a bridal magazine in the last 20 years. Because this was the very first time most people heard the name Vera Wang.
The name of who designed Whoopi Goldberg’s outfit has been lost to history. Not really, I just don’t want to know.
Here’s an ad I remember running ALL THE TIME.
First we see a cool guy driving in a cool car, heading somewhere. Cut to: a lady in a body suit tries to get into her jeans. So I guess he’s coming to pick her up for a date. I don’t remember why we wore body suits with snap crotches instead of just tucking our shirts in. Anyway, trying to get into her jeans, she jumps and jumps…
And falls over onto a mannequin. Why does she have a mannequin in her bedroom?
From outside, it looks like she’s about to sex up a guy who has no hands and whose neck doesn’t move. Her date sees this and is sad.
Also, her date is Alan Cumming, so I’m not sure who in this scenario he’s jealous of.
And that’s how you sold jeans in 1993.
You know how you sold everything else? With Cindy Crawford and a famous older black guy with no relation to the product.
One of my favorite things about the Oscars we don’t see any more is old timers getting their due. I appreciate that cutting the honorary awards makes the show move faster, but I miss the film clips and speeches from folks you don’t usually hear being heartfelt.
For example, Federico Fellini was finally given an honorary Oscar in 1993, which meant a crazy montage of women being whipped, clowns with giant fake boobs, and other assorted lunacy. And who was there to present it?
Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. The kind of people they just don’t make any more. I’m not even sure they are people.
Fellini’s speech is rather adorable, like he’s your shy grandpa, and he even says he wasn’t expecting this sort of award for another 25 years. (He died eight months later.) He’s like a cute little accented troll doll who makes movies that are uncomfortable nightmares. Then he strikes comedy gold when he stops thanking people to ask his wife and frequent star, Giulietta Masina, to please stop crying. Cut to Giulietta, looking like your grandmother at every wedding.
There were three honorary Oscars in 1993, which helped slow the show down, but were all rather touching if you’re a classic movie fan. Besides the adorable Fellini family and their adorable antics, there was a posthumous humanitarian Oscar for Audrey Hepburn, presented by Gregory Peck, her costar in her first big movie. As we covered in the 1992 article, she died very suddenly from an aggressive cancer in January ’93, which is when the nominations came out. So either they already planned to give her the award, or rushed to include her when they realized how dumb it was they hadn’t done it yet.
Her son accepted and called Gregory Peck “Greg,” which I find too cute. Atticus Finch shares a first name with the oldest of the Brady Bunch!
Then these two broad show up.
Yep, it’s Angela Lansbury presenting another humanitarian Oscar to Elizabeth Taylor. And yes, in that still from “National Velvet,” Lansbury’s the older sister. She’s been around…oh….a while. Liz’s getting the award for all the fund-raising and education she did to fight AIDS, which she was out in front on well before it was a cool thing to do. It’s a shame we tend to think of late-career Liz Taylor as…well…Michael Jackson’s slightly saner friend.
Taylor’s speech has a level of eloquence I’m not sure I ever associated with her before. I’m don’t know if she wrote it or someone else did, but it’s a poetic call to action.
“I call upon you to prove we are a human race. To prove our love outweighs our hate. That our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame. That our sensitivity to those in need is stronger than our greed. That our ability to reason overcomes our fear.”
Good stuff. But enough of all the old geezers, who was actually competing that year?
Yeah, it was one of the few years it’s tough to complain about Best Picture, because it was “Unforgiven,” which is a masterpiece. Clint Eastwood won for picture and director, and Gene Hackman won for Supporting Actor. No complaints there. But there was a winner that was controversial.
Joan Plowright – old, British, married to Olivier – was heavily favored to win best supporting actress, when all of a sudden, in swoops the white girl from “A Different World.” Rumors persist to this day that Jack Palance read the wrong name. True, it’s pretty rare for a comic performance to win, but when they do, it’s in supporting categories. And she’s proven since then she’s not a fluke (see “In the Bedroom.”) So let’s complain about something else.
Let’s give a guy an award for playing Foghorn Leghorn! Al Pacino was a great actor. Was. His career can pretty neatly be divided into “Brilliant” and “After Scent of a Woman.” 1993 is the line. He was also nominated that night for his supporting turn in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” where the last vestige of the Pacino who was in “The Godfather” gasps, withers, and dies. Then the bombast and the scenery chewing just became so easy. Every now and then, old Al will peak out – a scene, a few lines, and you’ll sigh and think…damn.
Did you know Jon Lovitz presented at the goddamn Oscars?. Seriously! He stole his scenes in “A League of their Own,” and apparently that qualifies him to give a sound effects editor a prize. I mention him because he has one of the funniest bits in the shortest amount of time I’ve ever seen on an awards show. Basically, he’s doing his Master Thespian schtick from SNL, which totally works in a room full of master thespians.
A commercial break or two later, Lovitz’s nemesis Andy Dick appears for about 1/10th of a second in a tortilla chip commercial. This is weird because “The Ben Stiller Show” had only been cancelled two months earlier, so either this was an old ad, or he was taking any work he could get.
Still to come: Really awful musical numbers (no, seriously, really awful), and a brief word from our sponsor.
Celebrities and politics. Two great tastes that don’t really go so well together. For ever well-meaning, deeply involved celebrity who uses their status, money, and power to do something good (see: Audrey Hepburn, who we’ll be talking about later), there’s some starlet who has some half-formed idea that “the thing in Angola is bad…or something” and puts their well-manicured foot in their mouth and ends up trivializing the thing they wanted to help.
The Oscars in 1993, for the films of 1992, are easily the most political show the Oscars ever did. Some of it planned, a lot of it not.
See, 1992 was “The Year of the Woman.” The best information I can find on where that label came from is that’s the year the U.S. Senate went from two women to seven. Out of 100. Yippee. The Oscars decided to get in on that sweet, sweet condescension and decided it was also Oscar’s Year of the Woman, so they padded out the show with film montage salutes to the women editors and actors and writers. And if that wasn’t good enough, there’s a song about it by Liza – see our coverage of the show’s musical monstrosities for that one. It’s not pretty.
Oscars Women Had Never Won (in 1993): Best Foreign Film, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Director. Only one had ever been nominated (and won) for Visual Effects. Just sayin’.
Opening the show, our host (again) Billy Crystal really mines the secret of The Crying Game for jokes. It comes up a lot.They flirt with spoiling it repeatedly, but manage to not quite spill the beans. Billy Crystal’s best line: “The Crying Game proved one thing – white men CAN jump.”
This was probably the last great pre-internet spoiler, and people were great at not ruining the surprise. The secret wouldn’t make it past preview screenings now, and that’s a shame, because it’s a great movie, and a great shock that spins the movie off in another direction. (I’m just assuming you all know it, with Mayor Quimby having ruined it for you.)
The unscheduled politics show up only a few awards in, when presenters Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins break from the script to plead for Haitian refugees held at Guantanamo Bay and not let into the U.S. because they were HIV+. Law students and non-profits took up their case, and their detention was ruled unconstitutional later that year. Commentators at the time were livid these dern liberals would derail the show for their pet cause.
Not long afterward, the Documentary winner goes past her allotted time lambasting the government for lying about bad things we did in Panama in the first Bush administration. I only mention this because the U.S. mission in Panama seems so very quaint now, and that’s sad.
The final great political interruption comes from Richard Gere, in the most notorious thing he actually, really did. Not what he was rumored to do, because he didn’t do that thing you’re thinking of. Gere also goes off script before presenting an award to talk about how many people are watching the show, and how all that energy could be focused into something good. Something like mentally sending Deng Xiaoping a psychic message to pull Chinese troops out of Tibet. Mentioning the cause you care about and have worked on for years is one thing, and Gere has certainly been committed to this issue before and since, but psychic messages instead of a call for political action? Especially since we had a new president to pester? God, it would have been hysterical is if Deng died right then, the victim of mass-psychic-murder, but the Chinese leader held on another four years.
Up next: The winners! Weird TV ads! Production number hell!
There have been about 30 film adaptations of “The Three Musketeers” since film was invented. But you know what all of them, as well as Dumas’ beloved novel were all missing? Airships. Finally, this film has rectified this horrible oversight.
This movie is a damn mess, but the kind of unbelievably wacky mess that I have to encourage people to see it. You will sit confused and boggled people spent money to make it.
They stick to the bare basics of the classic story for the most part, but despite those 30 other adaptations, figure it still needed jazzing up with even more action that is all ridiculously modern and piled with bad CGI. For instance, there’s a scene where Milady DeWinter (Milla Jovovich) strips off her hoop skirts to do a “Mission: Impossible”-style wire stunt into the palace, and finds a hidden vault strung with invisible razor wire that look like freakin’ lasers that she has to jump and shimmy through. How are these wires de-activated when a non-thief needs to get to the jewels inside? I’m guessing Ye Olde Retinal Scan.
I’m not even going to bother talking about the four heroes, because the three musketeers all suffer from total lack of character. Athos and Aramis look and act identical – I often couldn’t tell them apart. (You can tell which one’s Porthos because he talks about eating and drinking more.) D’Artagnan (the kid from ‘Percy Jackson’) is beyond annoying. He’s not so much a brash young man as Shia LeBeouf with PMS. It’s been a long time since I rooted more for the bad guys, which isn’t a shock considering they’re Mads Mikkelsen and Christoph Goddamn Waltz. They’re also the two who retain their dignity.
Then there’s the airships. The film opens with the musketeers breaking into a vault in Venice housing the works of, duh, Leonardo Da Vinci, because he’s the only person who ever invented anything. Despite the room being filled with thousands of priceless manuscripts, they steal just the airship one and flood the place. Jerks. Then the evil Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) steals it from them, and we fast forward to a year later and the regular ol’ story starts.
I don’t know how to feel about Orlando Bloom’s performance, because it is bizarre. On the one hand, I feel like he gets that this movie’s a joke and dials the foppishness to 11, prancing and preening with Gary Glitter hair. On the other hand, he’s not a convincing villain in a movie already brimming with them.
So there’s the usual musketeering and such and Christoph Waltz makes some speeches about his evil plans that never make much sense, until finally the heroes have to steal some jewels back from Buckingham, because if they don’t, it’ll start a war between France and England. To accomplish this, they steal the airship Buckingham’s now built – which looks like a galleon attached to a blimp – and use its onboard flamethrower(!) and Gattling gun(!!) to attack the Tower of London. Yep, that’ll stop that war alright.
Then there’s an airship battle, with cannons and guns and that rips of “Wrath of Khan” of all things. The stupid escalates at a furious pace as we see the airships are so precise and maneuverable four people can crew them just fine, and they can come up alongside each other at 10,000 feet up and push a gang-plank between them and people can walk across it without much wind or swaying or whatever. Then they crash them into Notre Dame.
I really want to know who exactly the filmmakers thought they were making this movie for, because I can’t think of the market segment that was crying out for this except fans of the ridiculous.
A definite pick for a fun night of jeering with your friends.
Every Sunday, my buddy Toby and I get together and watch a terrible movie. It’s about time for me to share the suffering, so I’m going to start posting brief reviews of the crap we’ve watched. I know I should have done this years ago, but it wasn’t until last night’s movie – “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1″ – that I found myself bubbling with so much anger and so much confusion I felt like if I didn’t get it out of me I’d die a gruesome death (Hey! Just like in the movie! I can relate to Bella after all!)
It is a massive understatement to say I am not a Twilight fan. The story is perfectly crafted to feed into the worst instincts of adolescent girls, and I worry about what they’re taking away from it. I probably won’t review the first three movies, which we watched on Bad Movie Sundays past, because I have so little to say about 1 and 3, and so much burning feminist rage at 2. Plus, I think I cover a lot of what I’d say below. This movie baffles me. I can’t remember the last time so little happening raised so many questions.
100 or so Questions about Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1
- Why doesn’t anyone have a problem with teens getting married?
- Why doesn’t Bella’s mom think anything’s weird about the Cullens going through high school 50 times?
- I still don’t get why they’d go to school at all. Why bother? It just attracts unwanted attention to them and puts them in contact with non-vampires who they promptly get into trouble.
- Doesn’t Mom have a problem with her daughter marrying a guy Mom’s never met? My mom would go ballistic, call the cops, say I’d been brainwashed, and get arrested for abusing 911 if I married someone she never met and I’m 35.
- Wait, did they send her dad an invitation, even though he lives in the same house as her?
- Did she even graduate high school?
- Does college not exist in their universe? No one has said a single thing about it EVER. Marrying Edward and going to college aren’t mutually exclusive. I guess “wife” is her job now. Forever.
- What denomination was the minister who married them? Do the vampires go to church regularly? Do they know that minister? Does the minister know they’re blood-sucking demons outside God’s natural order?
- Isn’t her dad worried about this considering he has been privy to hinky stuff Edward is apparently involved in? Like stalking his daughter?
- Why does no one notice his family are vampires? Or at least “different”?
- Doesn’t anyone find adopted siblings dating really creepy? Do the Cullens turn mortals they’ve fallen in love with into vampires, or are these vampire-arranged-marriages?
- Why don’t the vampires sparkle anymore?
- Why do vampires hold a wedding in the daytime?
- Once Bella’s a vampire, is she going to have to go back to high school too? Because fuck that.
- What’s a vampire bachelor party like?
I made a return to the Lasertime podcast this week, this time to talk about Oscars and movies and my many, many grudges thus related.
If I tried to exhaust my feelings on the topic, it’d be Part 1 in a series of 11,892 of four-hour podcasts – more if I let other people speak – and I can imagine myself going hoarse and desperate and being buried under a mountain of telegrams begging me to stop like I’m Mr. Smith gone to Washington, but NO! I must tell the world that “Cavalcade” shouldn’t have won Best Picture 1932 because Frank Lloyd’s direction is inferior to Mervyn LeRoy’s.
Enjoy a wander through much more recent movies with: Oscar Grouchy!
I started looking at 20-year old Oscar shows in 2009, because the 1989 show marked the lowest moment in the show’s history – the Snow White number. Poking around the internet showed only brief references to it, and none about the Stars of Tomorrow number mid-show that is arguably worse. So I thought I’d carry on this tradition, even though the numbers in 1992 were below average, not horrible. Let’s take a look!
“Beauty and the Beast” had three of its songs nominated. First up, “Belle,” sung by the original voice actors (which is nice) on a set made of giant books, like they’re the Borrowers or something. My favorite moment: When Gaston throws a kid out of his way so he can preen and prance some more.
This is immediately followed by “Be Our Guest,” again sung by the original voice actor (Jerry Orbach) and done with the can-can dancers and kick-line it was meant to have. With his years and years on “Law & Order,” it’s easy to forget he was a song and dance man going way back. This number is the most purely entertaining, and it’s nice to see the song go this big instead of being whispered in the background of Disney Cruise commercials.
I didn’t even bother uploading the next performance, which is Bryan Adams singing “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” from “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” I remember betting this one would win, because a) it was played constantly that year and b) it’s cheesy. Up until very, very recently, the cheesiest, gooiest song would win.
It wasn’t worth grabbing the video because it’s just him and a band playing the song completely straight, sounding exactly like it does on every easy FM station every two hours. There are, like, vector triangles on the set to dress it up a little, but it’s not a production number.
The fourth nominee is “When You’re Alone” from “Hook.” Yeah, I didn’t remember it either. It’s a lullaby-ish song, sung by the child actor who sang it in the movie all wide-eyed and over-enunciating (and lip syncing). Amber Scott has literally done nothing else, unless you count aggressively Photoshopping her own photo on IMDB.In keeping with the Peter Pan thing, the dancing is mostly kids flying around and being whimsical. In other words, it’s pretty stupid. I remember a lot of weird stuff in the Peter Pan stories, but am I forgetting the giant purple butterfly people who wave back and forth a bunch, or is that an…original…..addition?
But at least it’s introduced by John Candy, and we miss John Candy.
Finally, we have the eventual winner, the title song from “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s sung by Angela Landsbury, who sang it in the movie, along with Peebo Bryson and Celine Dion, who sang it as a single. It’s a little weird to see Celine with dark curly hair with a tiny bit of meat on her, since not long afterward she went to that straight and light and slightly sunken cheeked look she’s had ever since.
Of course, we couldn’t just have these talented people sing a lovely song, so we have an “interpretation” ballet going on behind them. Is there anywhere else besides awards shows that bother with this nonsense? It’s not like the dancing they did to this song in the movie was classy or anything, without all the frou-frou.
Then it gets worse. Much worse. Here’s the show’s low-point, and the epitome of awards show nonsense. Because apparently there wasn’t enough dancing and/or spectacle during the show, or maybe just to wake people up after the sound awards, they also have a dance number during a medley of the original score nominees. These random “wake the audience up” numbers are funny in how tenuous the link is between what they’re doing and who’s doing it. If I keep doing these articles, in a few years I’ll reach the salute to film editing starring the cast of Stomp.
Here we have goofy modern dancing thanks to Debbie Allen. I guess it’s a good thing they’re not literally dancing the plot or themes of the movies, because how exactly do you dance “JFK”? (Says my husband: “You dance back and to the left.”)
As fun as it’d be for them to mime shooting each other with tommy guns for “Bugsy,” “Prince of Tides” could get pretty rapey. Although there are plenty of drag queens who can do a fierce Streisand.
But at least it’s introduced by Patrick Swayze, and we miss Patrick Swayze.