This restored footage of Katharine Hepburn screen testing for Joan of Arc in 1934 is pretty great. I was surprised to see how much this 27-year-old Hepburn resembles Milla Jovovich.
Amazon has produced an adaptation of the graphic novel Radioactive, about the life of Marie Curie. Rosamund Pike stars. I am sold.
After watching the trailer, I was shocked to re-discover a couple things about her. Obviously, there’s the whole “was the first female winner of the Nobel, and then did it AGAIN 8 years later” thing — and, by the way, at the time no one had won the Nobel twice before.
But there’s also the following. See, while she basically discovered radioactivity, the dangers of atomic radiation were absolutely not understood at the time. I knew she died from this — her constant exposure and lack of protective equipment led to her death, at 66, of aplastic anemia, but also gave her cataracts and a host of other problems.
And those problems aren’t over:
She was interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre. Sixty years later, in 1995, in honour of their achievements, the remains of both were transferred to the Paris Panthéon. Their remains were sealed in a lead lining because of the radioactivity. She became the first woman to be honoured with interment in the Panthéon on her own merits.
Because of their levels of radioactive contamination, her papers from the 1890s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. Her papers are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.
Anyway, Radioactivity airs July 24 on Prime Video. Here’s the trailer.
Well, you MIGHT know him — he wrote a book called Miami Blues that was made into a tight little hardboiled comedy in 1990 with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fred Ward, and a 32-year-old Alec Baldwin. But you probably don’t.
But you should. Here’s a great intro from over at CrimeReads, which includes this spectacular sequence:
Although he was writing fiction, Willeford believed in doing his homework to make the story believable. He spent two years learning everything he could about the sport of cockfighting before he wrote his 1962 novel Cockfighter. Hard-boiled fiction is known for its terse heroes, but the hero of Cockfighter, Frank Mansfield, tops them all. He vows not to speak to anyone until he wins the big championship.
Cockfighter was going to be Willeford’s big breakthrough novel. But shortly after it was published, his publisher died and the publishing house went bankrupt. As a result, most of the print run, more than 20,000 copies, never reached bookstores.
Later, in 1974, Roger Corman produced a movie version directed by Monte Hellman and starring a masterful Warren Oates as Mansfield and Harry Dean Stanton as his nemesis. Willeford wrote the screenplay and had a cameo as a ring official. Corman said that it was his only film that lost money, despite the movie’s legendary tagline: “He came to town with his cock in his hand, and what he did with it was illegal in 49 states.”
Anyway, there’s a new Willeford film coming — or, rather, it’s out, but in these COVID days lots of small films are getting lost. It’s called The Burnt Orange Heresy, based on his 1971 novel of the same name, and it premiered at last fall’s Venice Film Festival. Per the linked story, “A Variety review calls it ‘a marble-cool art-fraud thriller.'” Bonus: if you enjoyed the BBC/Netflix adaptation of Dracula earlier this year, you’ll be pleased to find that Claes Bang appears here in a leading role.
Like all right-thinking people, I view The State’s amazing and perfect Porcupine Racetrack skit as the pinnacle of 1990s television.
They must also remember it fondly, because in quarantine, they remounted it in Zoom.
It’s still lovely.
The resulting MeFi thread includes links to a few other nice State-related bits, including:
- An NYT piece about the skit from 2009 (ie, YEARS after it ran);
- This article about them from back-then, which includes the fascinating datum that, on one show, they were meant to have Blue Traveller as a guest, but SNL snagged them, so they had to “settle for” Sonic Youth; and
- a Youtube link to their “43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special,” which aired on CBS in prime time in 1995. It’s an AMAZING and RIDICULOUS long-form bit of comedy, complete with actual celebrity cameos about “incidents” from their supposedly-4-decade tradition of such specials. (CBS flubbed the marketing for this so badly that I didn’t even know about it, and I was a HUGE State fan at the time.)
Betty Aberlin, mostly famous for being on Mister Rogers, also appears in several of Kevin Smith’s movies.
For example, here she plays a nun in Dogma:
She’s also in Red State, Jersey Girl, and has an uncredited role in Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
Probably time to watch this again…
GIFAANISQATSI, a Koyannisqatsi-generator using Gify gifs.
10 years later, Jennifer’s Body remains a super-clever, super-fun, and super-great film. If you haven’t seen it, pick up on it.
Killer Sofa looks to be the Citizen Kane of murderous possessed La-Z-Boy films.
Late last month, Rogue One actor and British citizen of Pakistani heritage Riz Ahmed was supposed to appear at the massive Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago.
He never got there, because Homeland Security wouldn’t let him board his flight. Because, you know, brown.
A very uncanny-valley trailer for the film adaptation of Cats dropped today.
My sense is that never before have so many furries rubbed one out to the exactly the same thing at the same time.
Step 1: Obtain a Chinese pirate copy of Revenge of the Sith.
Step 2: Transcribe the awful English subtitles.
Step 3: Redub the video using the bad translations.
Step 4: Hilarity.
Remember this scene in Top Gun, wherein Our Hero flies inverted over an enemy MiG and flips him off whilst
Dr Greene Goose shoots a candid Polaroid?
Yeah, uh, just read this in a New Yorker article about Virgin Galactic’s lead test pilot, Mark Stucky, who has flown for both the Marine Corps and the Air Force:
Stucky also was a showboater. In 1985, on a patrol mission over the Sea of Japan, he spotted a Soviet bomber in the distance, caught up to it, flipped upside d own, got close enough that only a few dozen feet separated the cockpits, and snapped a photograph.
Maverick? Meet Mark Stuckey, who is way cooler than you on account of not being fictional.
In the wake of learning of a new film of Lear — coming to Amazon streaming next month, with Anthony Hopkins in the title role! — I fell down the whole of “nonobvious adaptations of Shakespeare.” Some of these are common knowledge — I think most people, or at least most film buffs, are aware that Kurosawa’s Ran is also a Lear adaptation, and that his Throne of Blood is Hamlet. Then there are the odd ones, and at the bottom of this pile of weirdness I found this:
In 2002, TNT released a made-for-TV adapation of Lear set in Texas in the 19th century called The King of Texas, and starring no less an eminence than Patrick Stewart as cattle baron John Lear. Uli Edel directed, which makes total sense, as Mr Edel is also the auteur behind such brilliant efforts as Madonna’s me-too erotic thriller Body of Evidence and a TV movie about Mike Tyson.
A year later, Edel did a two-part TV movie about the life of Julius Ceaser with Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under; Law & Order) in the title role, and also featuring Richard Harris (his penultimate role) and Christopher Walken. So yeah.
Anyway, the whole thing is on YouTube, but somehow I don’t think it’s gonna make it to my watch list, but I sample it enough to hear Stewart’s precisely awful attempt at a “western” accent. Ugh.
Sarah Gailey absolutely shreds Armageddon in this hilarious piece over at Tor.com. Please enjoy.
Armageddon is a film composed of two neatly dovetailed love letters to toxic patriarchs. Neither can be called the primary narrative, any more than one of the four cold-opens of the picture can be called a ‘beginning.’ Grace Stamper (Liv Tyler) learns to appreciate her abusive father, Harry (Bruce Willis); her story unfurls in unwavering parallel to the story of the American military industrial complex saving the whole world. Well, the whole world except for Paris. Sorry, Paris.
Armageddon desperately wants the viewer to see Harry Stamper as the hero of the story, because in this parable of international diplomacy, Harry Stamper embodies America. All he wants to do is drill for oil, isolate his daughter from any support networks outside of the ones over which he has direct control, and kill any man who tries to form a meaningful peer relationship with her. In the scene which introduces the dynamic between Grace and her father—a scene in which he repeatedly fires a shotgun at her boyfriend, A.J. (Ben Affleck)—Harry asserts that he has repeatedly asked Grace to call him “Dad.” The camera lingers on his soulful eyes, and the viewer is reminded that he is Sympathetic. He wants what’s best for his daughter, the camera explains. It just happens that what’s best for her is the complete sublimation of her personal agency. Is that so much to ask?
The asteroid threat justifies the existence of the American Military Industrial Complex the way nothing else ever could. “Thank goodness we have nuclear bombs,” shouts Michael Bay over the half-eaten remains of a Thanksgiving dinner you wish you had found an excuse to miss, “because what if there was an asteroid?!”
Seriously. Go read this.
Ewan McGregor is all-grown-up Christopher Robin in the upcoming film of the same name.
It looks to be a very by the numbers take on the “grown up revisits childhood to remember what’s important” trope, and yet shut up and take my money. Seriously.
Hayley Atwell is his wife. In theaters August 6.
Wylie Overstreet took his telescope out to the streets of LA, and showed people the moon.
This year, Emmet Otter turned 40. It aired in Canada first, for Christmas 1977, before hitting HBO the next year, and network TV 2 years later.
Here’s a nice oral history. You probably remember it fondly from your childhood, but it’s also a tour de force of groundbreaking puppet filmmaking. No, I’m not kidding:
Though filled with old-fashioned charm, Emmet Otter actually employed a savvy blend of age-old puppetry techniques and cutting-edge animatronic technology. Engineering wizard Franz “Faz” Fazakas, a frequent Muppet collaborator, designed the rowboat that could be steered along the set’s 50-foot river, and rigged versions of Ma and Emmet that could be operated via remote control while they were on the water.
The tale of Frogtown Hollow continued to hold a special place in the hearts of those involved — including Henson, who included one of Emmet Otter’s songs in the musical program he designed for his memorial service [in 1990].
Paul Williams: The last thing that I ever expected was to hear “When the River Meets the Sea” at Jim’s funeral. It was an especially emotional moment in the funeral for me
(Oh, and, don’t miss the actual no-kidding blooper reel, shot during the 33 takes it took to get the “drum rolls out of the shop” shot.)
Except, well, this time. How can you argue with this?
Here’s the whole list. Enjoy.
Black Panther opens in 121 days.
Sure, the trailers LOOK good, but so far the DC films haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory, so I was kinda keeping the whole thing at arm’s reach.
Then I noticed something important, largely because (a) The Hollywood Reporter tweeted something ignorant/clickbaity that was (b) then shamed into my timeline:
Sold. Hey, Mrs Heathen, when are we going?
Word comes that Roger Moore has died at 89.
Moore, obviously, is known as the post-Connery Bond, but true nerds recall that he was actually the third guy to play 007 (in the Eon Productions films, which are all that really matter). When Connery bowed out after his fifth outing (You Only LIve Twice in 1967, which is the one where he teams up with a Japanese agent and goes undercover in, basically, yellowface before the final fight in a volcano base), Australian model George Lazenby took over for a single picture (the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, co-starring Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas!) before Connery’s code (Diamonds are Forever, featuring a thinly-veiled Howard Hughes proxy and Crispin Glover’s dad as one half a very creepy assassin team). Moore first appears in the next film, 1973’s Live and Let Die.
At right, a GREAT cast photo. There’s a LOT going on there, which fits given the lovable mess of a film it’s from, but allow me to point out:
The skinny young thing at the lower left? Yep, Jane Seymour, then a largely unknown 22-year-old ingenue.
Not pictured is David Hedison, who makes his first of two appearances as Bond’s CIA pal Felix Leiter here. He comes back in 1989’s License to Kill, opposite Tim Dalton (that’s the one with Robert Davi as a ruthless drug lord who has, amazingly, Benecio del Toro as a henchman; Wayne Newton appears as a televanglist). The only other guy to play Leiter twice is the incumbent, Jeffrey Wright. Hedison is now 90 and retired, and Wikipedia contains the amusing bit of data that he’s now Jodie Foster’s father-in-law.
After this auspicious debut, Moore went on to have the longest tenure in the role: a total of 7 films over 12 years. His swan song came in 1985 and is, sadly, is almost certainly the worst of the bunch. By then, Eon Productions was completely out of Fleming books to adapt (with one key exception they wouldn’t touch for 20 years), so I guess it makes a little sense that, in the middle of the 80s, they’d feel fine about a 58-year-old Bond chasing a crazed millionaire (Christopher Walken!) whose aide-de-camp is Grace Fucking Jones. Hey, while we’re at it? Why not a fight on the Eiffel Tower!
Of course, it’s not his fault that the films had veered hard into silliness and camp by that point; he had some great ones — the debut, obviously, but also The Man With The Golden Gun (a prosthetic nipple!), The Spy Who Loved Me (hot Russians! submarine sports cars! the greatest opening scene ever!), and Moonraker, about which more later.
He was a more suave, mature, and sophisticated Bond than Connery or those that came after (though maybe Brosnan’s version was close), and for most people of my generation he was our first exposure to the character — sort of the Tom Baker of the series, really. As noted, Moore’s got the most films and the longest tenure, a record that doesn’t seem likely to fall. Connery did only 6 films to Moore’s 7. Brosnan and Dalton together only account for 6 more. Craig may or may not do a 5th film, but he’ll certainly be done by then.
My first Bond film was Moonraker. I saw it in a drive-in with my dad, in a time when drive-ins were already well on their way out. It was obviously derivative — Star Wars made everyone want to do SF all of a sudden, so Bond-in-space was in some ways inevitable — but it’s held up okay, especially considering that it’s only the second time Eon Productions was “on their own” with no novel to draw from. We got the second coming of Richard Kiel’s 7-foot, steel-toothed Jaws, memorable weightless nookie, and a “Bond girl” whose naughty name (Holly Goodhead) flew entirely over my 9-year-old head. I was obviously smitten immediately, and quickly devoured the back catalog via the newfangled VCR my newly-divorced dad would soon acquire. Impossibly, my Baptist grandmother even bought me some of the books.
Anyway. Godspeed, Roger Moore. I noted not long ago that we’re likely to lose several more Doctor Who actors in the short term. The first three are already gone, and Tom Baker is 83. The same can be said of the Bond men: Lazenby is 77; Connery is 86. Tim Dalton is 71. Brosnan is 64. And we are, all of us, getting older right along with them.
This short asks, and answers, the question “Has Reservoir Dogs Aged Well?”
(Spoiler alert: Yes.)
Mrs Heathen and I are suckers for prestige TV, and I love gangsters, so we dove into Boardwalk Empire when it started. Unfortunately, it just didn’t hold us after the 2nd season — and frankly, we stayed longer than we might’ve otherwise, in part because of the incredible charisma that Jack Huston imparted to the tragic, disfigured Richard Harrow.
The show concerned organized crime in Atlantic City in the years between World War I and the end of prohibition, more or less. The central character, played by Steve Buscemi, was based on a real person, though obviously they took liberties. Michael Pitt appeared as Jimmy Darmody, young man who’d run off to war and come back physically whole, but mentally shattered.
Darmody befriends Harrow, and introduces him to the criminal underworld of Atlantic City — a role that, as it turns out, Harrow takes to like a duck to water.
Anyway: it’s through Harrow that I first learned that, after the war, many who had facially disfiguring injuries were fitted with tin masks molded and painted to resemble their prewar faces.
Here’s how Harrow enters the show:
So I finally got to the tab I opened the other day about Bill Paxton, which reminded me of his short-lived New Wave band Martini Ranch, and their two videos, which support my long-held view that all the cool famous people know each other and hang out together.
Martini Ranch was a pair: Paxton was collaborating with the band’s founder, Andrew Todd Rosenthal, and sounded nothing if not period-correct in 1982. Given that it was the 80s, OBVIOUSLY there are music videos — though, sadly, the count is two. Both date from the late 1980s, and boast casts and crew
The first clip was for the improbably named “How Can The Laboring Man Find Time For Self Culture“, and looks and sounds like someone put Metropolis and Devo in a blender. And here’s where the connections start, too, because the cast for the video includes Paxton and some pals of his: Anthony Michael Hall (with whom he’d starred in Weird Science) in 1985, plus Lords of Discipline (1983) cronies Rick Rossovich, Judge Reinhold, and Michael Biehn — the latter, of course, also with Paxton in Aliens in 1986.
The second video, for a song called “Reach“, was more high concept: a bank robber (Paxton) rolls into a post-apoc western-esque town, pursued by a cadre of improbably attractive female bounty hunters. Where it gets connect-the-dots fun, though, is in the cast and crew.
First, it was directed by James Cameron. Sure, it was only about 1988, but by then he already had a couple directorial successes under his belt (Terminator and Aliens, with Abyss probably already in production); he’s shooting this because they’re pals. Cameron would go on to cast Paxton in 5 films (the first Terminator, Aliens, True Lies, Titanic, and Ghosts of the Abyss), which is more than any other actor. (Cameron’s 4-time club includes Lance Henriksen and Biehn, though the latter got the better deal, as I’m not sure “Piranha II: The Spawning” should be seen as the pinnacle of Cameron’s work.)
Paxton’s band of outlaws is especially delightful: it includes colleagues from Aliens and Near Dark (Henriksen and Jenette “Vasquez” Goldstein were in both films; the video also includes Paul Reiser from Aliens and Adrian Pasdar from Near Dark) — plus Reinhold makes a return appearance.
The final note is that I’d totally forgotten Pasdar was in Near Dark, and now I can’t remember if he managed to be on Agents of SHIELD at the same time as Paxton as well.
TL;DR? It’s neat to see all this repeat work, even in obscure music videos.
Also also? This brilliant tweet:
Via Kottke, we find The Beastie Americans: footage from The Americans cut into an alternative video for the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” I almost always HATE mashups of any kind, but this is kind of awesome. Enjoy.
With a headline like that, how can you NOT click through and see what the hell I’m talking about?
Mark Hamill, on TV in the late 1970s.
Highlander is now 30 years old, which just kills me. Forget the sequels and the TV show; the original film is a lovely gem of urban fantasy. Aren’t you glad it’s getting a new 4K theater run and updated DVD/Blu-Ray options?
Here’s the 4K trailer. Enjoy. UK release early next month; no set date for US, but you know it’s coming.
One of my favorite sketches ever is from a super obscure place: something called The New Show, which ran for a grand total of 9 episodes in 1984.
Produced by SNL founder and emperor Lorne Michaels, the show really only existed because of what we might call The Michaels Hiatus Period in SNL history. Sure, he founded the show in 1975, and ran it through 1980, but after 5 years he felt the need to seek out other opportunities. He left the show to Jean Doumanian, who was replaced after a single season by Dick Ebersol (who’s more of note for his role with NBC Sports, but whatever).
Anyway, so, Michaels is off doing other things after 1980. Late in his hiatus — he took SNL back in 1985 — Michaels was back with another sketch show. This one was entirely pre-taped, and had no shortage of serious talent, but for whatever reason it failed utterly.
I remember watching it, but hand to God the only bit I can say I truly remember is this: Roy’s Food Repair, featuring John Candy, Paul Simon, and Dave Thomas (among others). It’s the absurdity and the delivery that still kill, 32 years later.
You love it? Yeah? Well, have I got a story for you. Turns out, the whole thing is based on truth — including the idea that the kids wouldn’t even know their parents’ real identities. Tim and Alex Foley were caught completely by surprised when, in 2010, the FBI raided their home and took their parents away in handcuffs. (It was the same operation that netted Anna Chapman, as it happens.)
Born in Canada to “illegal” agents just like Paige and Henry on the FX show, they eventually naturalized as American citizens living in Cambridge. Both citizenships have been rescinded thanks to their parents’ clandestine careers, so the only passports they hold are Russian — i.e., a country to which neither have a real connection.
What’s EGOT? It’s when you’ve won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. That’s a rarefied group — think Richard Rodgers, or Rita Moreno, or Audrey Hepburn, or Mel Brooks.
What’s a MacPEGOT? It’s an EGOT winner who’s also bagged the MacArthur and the Pulitzer, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is well on his way.
Miranda won two Tonys in 2008, for his first musical In the Heights.
He picked up his first Grammy the next year, for the show’s soundtrack album, and then got another this year, for the soundtrack to Hamilton.
He wrote a song (with Tom Kitt) for the Tony Awards in 2014, and won an Emmy for it.
And, of course, this year he’s picked up the MacArthur and the Pulitzer.
Turns out, the only one he doesn’t have is an Oscar. But he’s doing the music for an upcoming Disney animated feature (“Moana”), and a filmed adaptation of Hamilton seems inevitable, so…
Oh, we should probably mention that “MacPEGOT” isn’t actually a thing yet, because no one’s done it. (Only Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch have added the Pulitzer to their EGOT.)
(There’s obviously a Wikipedia page about the EGOT, which helpfully includes lists of folks with 3 of the 4 EGOT awards.)
You may or may not be aware of the fact that Antoine Fuqua is remaking the 1960 classic The Magnificient Seven; he’s pulled together a hell of a cast for this retread — Denzel, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, D’Onofrio — but at the end of the day it still makes me ask “um, why?”
However, in discussion of this on Facebook, something actually interesting cropped up. I’m assuming anyone reading this is aware that the original Magnificent Seven was itself a US retelling of Akira Kurosawa‘s 1954 film Seven Samurai. Remakes are one thing, but cross-cultural adaptations can actually be interesting.
Such adaptations are mostly east to west, at least heretofore, but turns out, Japanese cinema can do it, too. In 2013, they made an adaptation of Eastwood’s 1992 Oscar-winner. Ken Watanabe stars; it’s also called Unforgiven, at least in English (in Japan, it’s apparently “Yurusarezaru Mono”).
Here’s the trailer:
I think I need to see this.
This excellent commercial for a British film download service stars Kevin Bacon, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Bacon. Enjoy:
(I think the best part is that the jerk — who turns 58 this summer — has aged so well he can plausibly reprise characters from 1980 (when he was 22), 1984, 1992, 1995, and 2000 in one commercial and have them all be immediately recognizable.)
He’s been instrumental in getting Don Coscarelli’s late-70s cult horror film Phantasm restored and released on Blu-Ray and DVD, on account of BIG FAN. Coscarelli:
It started a loooong long time ago in a graveyard far, far away. J.J. Abrams called up, oh, about 12 years ago, back when he still doing TV stuff. I didn’t know who he was. He said “I’m a TV producer, and I love Phantasm.” And we started talking about it. In fact, at the time, I think we were finishing up Bubba Ho-Tep. And I got a little trouble with the editing process, and I was having trouble making that movie come together. And I brought it over and showed it to him and we hung out and he was a real cool guy. And, over the years, from time to time we stayed in touch. I introduced him to Angus Scrimm [ed. note: the “Tall Man” villain in Phantasm], and he ended up putting Angus into a recurring role on his Alias TV series. Angus really appreciated that and really enjoyed it.
Flash-forward to about a year and a half ago, I got another call from J.J. and he wanted to screen Phantasm for his workers over at his company Bad Robot. And I told him that the only choice he really had was my scratched-up old 35mm print, or the standard-def DVD. Those weren’t really great choices, so he said “Oh, we gotta fix that!” So he put [me] in touch with their head of post-production, a guy named Ben Rosenblatt, and he came up with this plan as to how to restore the movie efficiently. So that’s how it started.
I’m not really a horror fan, and I’m no fan of Abrams, but this is a cool story.
“We’re all standing there and Malick hands out these pieces of paper to all of us,” Lennon said. “And the one he gave me said, ‘There’s no such thing as a fireproof wall.’ And I ask, ‘Is this something I’m supposed to say in the scene?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Lennon learned, after talking to the director, that there was no script, just a phrase that might inspire him when cameras started rolling.
“And then Malick goes, ‘Would you like some more? Because I have a whole stack of these.’ And I was like, ‘I think I’m good,’” Lennon said.
Lennon later asked Bale while Malick was away:
Lennon: “Is this how it goes?
Lennon: “Every day?”
Lennon: “How long have you been doing this?”
Bale: “This is, like, day 25.”
I mean, COME ON how could this NOT be awesome?
Apparently, someone has found and restored an original 35mm print of Star Wars. It’s online. Somewhere.
Does this trailer for the new film High Rise make anyone else want to have sex with Rebecca De Mornay on a train?
Ok. Pretty sure it’s not just me, though.
(Sure, movies use songs that have previously been used all the time, but this particular track was actually written for the earlier film — the title is even taken from a line of dialog.)