Later On

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Archive for the ‘Movies & TV’ Category

Bruce Campbell’s new book is out; I loved his first: “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor”

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Bruce Campbell has been in some groaners but also some wonderful movies—for example, Bubba Ho-Tep, which unfortunately is right now available only on DVD unless it’s been included in the Criterion Collection, which you can see on Filmstruck.com. But I don’t think it’s yet in that collection. If Chins Could Kill is available in secondhand copies.

Jennifer Szalai mentions his new book in the NY Times:

Fifteen years ago, when Bruce Campbell published his first autobiography, “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor,” expectations were modest. Getting it published had already been an ordeal. Even though his then-agent, John Hodgman (now known as a comic writer and actor), was such a fan of Campbell’s that he initially thought the book proposal should be an easy sell, it was still the early days of the internet, and connoisseurs of Campbell’s deeply weird performances in “The Evil Dead” and “Army of Darkness” weren’t yet mobilized into a cultural force. As Hodgman recalls in his introduction to Campbell’s sequel, “Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor,” when a book editor finally bit, he was taking a gamble based on what Campbell had shown everybody: “You can cultivate a good and profitable artistic career by knowing your audience and keeping them close,” Hodgman writes. “Soon we would all have to do that, because mass monoculture was largely not going to exist anymore.”

“Hail to the Chin” enters the hardcover nonfiction list this week at No. 8, touching down between Dinesh D’Souza at No. 7 and Ta-Nehisi Coates at No. 9 (which tells you everything you need to know about the “mass monoculture” not existing anymore). Campbell writes that this new book took him 15 years because he needed to collect anecdotes, like the time he almost lost use of his right arm after nicking himself on a rusty piece of metal while shooting in Bulgaria: “Jesus, I thought to myself. I’m going to be permanently maimed because of a movie called ‘Man With the Screaming Brain’?” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 August 2017 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Books, Movies & TV

“Chef,” on Amazon Prime, is a feel-good movie, something I need right about now

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Jon Favreau wrote and directed (cf. Swingersit’s interesting to boot), and : behind the scenes on a food truck. Very loosely based on Roy Choi, I would guess. (And I note he gets co-producer credit.) A pleasant film to calm shattered nerves.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2017 at 3:49 pm

How to make blockbuster trailer

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Written by LeisureGuy

15 August 2017 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Great movie: “In the Line of Fire”

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Clint Eastwood, Rene Russo, John Malkovich—what more do you want? Well, how about excellent production values, tight script, interesting take (a heist movie plus romantic comedy as a political action movie—irresistible). I particular love the scene in which the Eastwood character seduces the Russo character at the piano, with that wonderful dialogue based on unspoken but obvious thoughts.

I’m watching Hulu. Yay. Just started it.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2017 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

The 100 greatest movie props in movie history and the stories behind them

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Via Jason Kottke, here they are. One example: the red stapler from Office Space!

“I wanted the stapler to stand out in the cubicle and the color scheme in the cubicles was sort of gray and blue-green, so I had them make it red. It was just a regular off-the-shelf Swingline stapler. They didn’t make them in red back then, so I had them paint it red and then put the Swingline logo on the side.

“Since Swingline didn’t make one back then, people were calling them trying to order red staplers. Then people started making red Swinglines and selling them on Ebay and making lots of money, so Swingline finally decided to start making red staplers.

“I have the burnt one from the last scene. Stephen Root has one that was in his cubicle. There were three total that we made. I don’t know where the third one is.”

Written by LeisureGuy

12 July 2017 at 11:49 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Fascism for liberals: “RoboCop” at 30 and the problem with prescience

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Very interesting column by John Semley in Salon:

We have become obsessed with prescience. Or rather, a kind of reverse-prescience that sees old books (from Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” to Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and Radiohead’s “OK Computer”) invested with a new vitality. These works, and their authors, are hailed for their farsightedness and acute judiciousness, for their ability to “speak to our troubled times.” But more often than not, it’s a case of too little, way too late.

Reading the Stalinist parable “Nineteen Eighty-Four” to make sense of Trumpism feels about as useful as scanning the instructions on a bottle of bear spray while your torso’s already half-digested by a savage Kodiak. Still, we laud the old works and the old masters for their seeming ability to forecast the present, even if they do so in hazy, generalizing terms. The esteemed quality of prescience thus reveals itself as conservative, keeping us fixed on the past, lost in our fantasies of foregone foresight. Damn, if only we could have seen it coming back then.

Few pop-cultural objects carry this burden of prescience like “RoboCop,” Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi satire/Detroit dystopia/Christian allegory, which turns 30 this summer. Set in a near-future Motor City beset by corporate greed, with slums being rebuilt as privatized skyscraper communities and public services seized by profiteering private contractors, much of “RoboCop’s” critical legacy hinges on its seemingly spooky ability to predict the future: from the militarization of American police forces, to the collapse (and rebirth) of Detroit, to the way in which politics has become increasingly beholden to private money.

Never mind that all these things were already happening when “RoboCop” was released theatrically at the ass-end of the Reagan administration. What matters is how the film is regarded as effectively anticipating what’s happening now. Problem is: claims of the film’s prescience aren’t just overstated. They’re fundamentally incorrect. And if we’re to believe — as many seem to — that “RoboCop’s” near future is meant to be our present, then we must reckon with one of its greatest oversights: its depiction of business-suited capitalists as crass, corporatist, unfeeling heels. What “RoboCop” got wrong was its depiction of the bad guys — of those greedy corporate profiteers looking to razz Detroit’s crumbling ghettos, quarterback private police militias and trap the hearts and minds of good, honest, working men inside hulking robotic exoskeletons.

***

On the commentary track bundled with Criterion’s now out-of-print 1998 home video release of “RoboCop,” producer Jon Davison summed up the movie’s message. He called it “fascism for liberals.” As Davison puts it: “The picture is extremely violent, but it has a nice, tongue-in-cheek, we’re-just-kiddin’ quality.” Indeed, “RoboCop,” like many of Dutch expat Paul Verhoeven’s other films (“The Fourth Man,” “Starship Troopers,” “Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls,” even the recent “Elle”) function through this sort of deeply embedded irony; this “we’re-just-kiddin’ quality.” The sex, the violence, the way they flirt with ideological reprehensibility — Verhoeven’s films are calibrated to invite reaction, even disgust. And yet that’s never the end in itself.

When a heavy artillery “urban pacification” tank shoots up a boardroom meeting early in “RoboCop,” in one of the film’s most legendarily over-the-top sequences, the joke isn’t the display of gore itself, but rather the reaction. When the scowling CEO of Omni Consumer Products (referred to with mock-affection as “The Old Man,” and played by Dan O’Herlihy) witnesses the wanton display of machine-on-man violence and mutters to sniveling underling Dick Jones (Ronny Cox), “I’m very disappointed in you,” that’s the joke — a critique of the corporate world’s utter disdain for human life, packaged in a parody of Reagan-era paternalist condescension. This, presumably, is what Davison is talking about. “RoboCop” offers visions of violence, of top-down, totalitarian corporate control, and the crumbling of the American Dream itself that proves fundamentally comforting in its cheekiness and ironic distance. Yes, the world it depicts is bad. But we know it’s bad. And that’s good.

Yet this idea — fascism for liberals — runs even deeper into the movie’s DNA. What its capitalist parody doesn’t anticipate is the current entanglements of corporatism and politics. While the ascent of celebrity capitalist Donald Trump may play like something out of a direct-to-video “RoboCop” sequel, the film fails to address the more pressing threat of smiling, do-gooder philanthrocapitalists: guys like Michael Bloomberg or Mark Zuckerberg who increasingly set the agendas of American (and global) politics, while retaining the image of selfless saviors. These are the people who, increasingly, represent the corporatization of everyday life, albeit in a way that “RoboCop”-style corporate villainy can’t account for.

When Donald Trump announced that America would be backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement, ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to pick up the tab with his private money. Likewise, before Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced he was buying the Whole Foods supermarket chain last week — a move that boosted Bezos’s stock while sapping that of competitors like Wal-Mart and Target — he canvassed Twitter for ideas on charities to which he could donate money. This is the face of modern consumerist capitalism: lead with a benign-seeming charitable gesture, follow through with a massive, bottom line-boosting buyout.

The fundamental weakness of ’’80s-era, “RoboCop”-ian businessman bad guys is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2017 at 4:17 pm

Great little movie (it’s a written-and-directed by, of course): “Two Days in the Valley”

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And with a knockout cast. Available now on Amazon Prime streaming.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 June 2017 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

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