On The Three Stooges: 6 Full Length Fun Flicks

Book coverSo on Wednesday, November 4, the night after we watched Sergeant York, I wanted to watch To Hell and Back with and about Audie Murphy; it was then that I learned it was the wrong region DVD. So I cast about looking for something, and I thought I would pop in this video which I got Spring 2019 at the church garage sale (I was going to say last Spring, but it suddenly occurs to me that 2020 has somehow almost passed–what have I been doing? When and where were the seasons?). I thought maybe the boys would want to watch these, but they did not.

So I watched them alone.

Continue reading “On The Three Stooges: 6 Full Length Fun Flicks

I Don’t Need To Read The Article; I Know The Truth

This movie, apparently, is Wisconsin’s ‘favorite’ horror movie.

Come on, it’s surely this one:

Well, I did read the article. Apparently, it’s locally grown The Love Witch which is a comedy horror film whose DVD sells for $32 on Amazon.

So I will have to take a pass on it. Besides, I just placed a DVD order which probably means I’m topped off on movies for the year. And, unfortunately, I actually only ordered two which offers sad testimony to how few movies I watch these days.

The Wall Street Journal Explains

Okay, I am a little behind in my Wall Street Journal reading, again. Which is basically my normal condition when taking the paper. So I have only now come across an article from September 24, 2020, that explains a little more about why it’s often hard to find movies you want to see on streaming services–Why Some Classic Films Still Aren’t Streaming, From ‘Jungle Fever’ to ‘Silkwood’.

Again, note that the “classics” here date back to the 1980s or the 1990s, which means the dark ages where the films were available on videocassette and/or DVD.

Back in 2016, a little before I was making predictions about how fast I would read the remainder of my books in The Executioner series, I lamented I could not find several movies I wanted to see on the streaming services of the day:

After reading a listicle about John Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I wanted to watch She’s Having A Baby because it’s the most adult of his coming-of-age comedies (and I plan to come of age sometime soon). But it’s not on Netflix nor Amazon Prime.

Then I got to thinking about funny Christmas movies my children might like to watch with me since White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary’s, or The Bishop’s Wife are a little black-and-white for them, and they’re not old enough for Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Gremlins. So I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime, and again I was disappointed.

And that I joined a video store in 2017 because it had the DVD of a film I needed for a writing assignment:

Now, gentle reader, you might remember my December rant on the limited catalogs of streaming services (What I Want To Watch, When I Want To Watch It). I still feel that way, but I’m pretending to be frugal now. I had to watch Johnny Mnemonic for a writing assignment (which I read back in 2006), and of course, Amazon Prime and Netflix don’t offer it. My beautiful and sultry wife has a membership at the local video store, Family Video, so we went there to get a film for the boys and to see if the shop had Johnny Mnemonic. They did.

That was years ago. I said about streaming:

Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming are good when you want to watch something as they give you a lot to chose from. But I often do not want to sit down and watch something; I want to sit down and watch a particular film. So physical media still have a vital role in that. Much like the old independent video stores offered something other than the newest releases at Blockbuster.

That was back when you really had two streaming platforms to choose from. Now, every media company has its own twelve-buck-a-month service and is slowly reclaiming its library by letting licensing to Amazon and Netflix lapse. Which means everything that was available is still available streaming, but it’s spread over a rapidly widening set of subscription services.

Although a flack at Fandango says it’s only onesies and twosies that are not available, my experience has proven that the onesies and twosies and foursies and twelvesies coincide with what I want to watch. The newspaper explains why so many things are not available on any streaming source:

The causes of unstreamableness vary. For films made before digital distribution existed, it can be unclear who owns streaming privileges. Restrictions on digital use of the music in a film can hold it back. Some “unstreamables” are movies that have been shunned across all platforms, for one reason or another, like Disney’s “Song of the South,” with its racist stereotypes, and the last Woody Allen and Louis CK films, made by tarnished directors.

A film can also simply become buried in a company’s holdings. For those who want to release older films in new formats, hunting down rights holders can become a Watergate-like investigation. After decades of mergers and acquisitions, the corporate owner of a film may not even know it’s the owner.

So, as you might expect, I still look to buy DVDs and VHS cassettes at garage sales and whatnot and, when I get the idea that I want to watch a particular film, I order the physical medium on Amazon.

Also, I am a curmudgeon.

Thank you, that is all.

Also, follow me for more breaking news from the Wall Street Journal from weeks or months ago.

I Would Have Signed This Petition

James Hong, ‘Hollywood’s most prolific actor,’ may finally get Walk of Fame star:

He has more credits than nearly anyone in Hollywood, yet he still isn’t a bona fide “star.”

In his legendary career, actor James Hong — who recently went viral as “Hollywood’s most prolific actor” — has accrued more than 600 acting credits and inspired countless careers, yet he still doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Now, a growing group of fans is actively trying to change that for Hong, 91, whose diverse projects include “Seinfeld,” “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Blade Runner.”

Also Wayne’s World.

Hopefully he gets the star. Although, to be honest, the headline aside, I would not have signed an Internet petition because I think they’re worthless and a waste of time. I prefer to spend my worthless and waste of time on an old timey Web log.

A Mistake I Should Never Make

I mentioned that I did not watch Ice Pirates with my boys when we wrote Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” this spring.

However, my oldest boy talked about herpes for some reason today, in passing, as a meme joke of some sort, and the film features a Space Herpe, so it was time.

My youngest went for a bike ride with his beautiful mother, and my oldest, the sophisticated cinemataster that he is, only made it through half, so I watched it mostly myself. And I made a mistake.

When Killjoy appears, I recognized it was a former football player gone Hollywood, and I initially thought Lyle Alzado, but it’s actually John Matuszak.

Lyle Alzado
John Matuszak

You might understand the confusion. Defensive linemen from the 1970s who went to Hollywood who had dark hair and beards and played supporting roles in sometimes cheesy offerings. One could throw Merlin Olsen in this mix, but his hair was dark enough to not quite look the same, plus he had his own starring roles on television which cemented his distinction a bit. Also, he’s a little older than the others, as he played in the 1960s (as recounted in Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay which I reviewed in 2004 and 2015.)

I say I should never make the mistake between Alzado and Matuszak because Matuszak was from Milwaukee and played a year of college football at Mizzou. So he should be on my list of “He’s from Milwaukee, you know” and has not been so up until this time. And he will be from now on.

Not that I won’t still have to think when I see one of them in a movie or television show from here on out. They do look enough alike for my confusion, don’t they? Humor me here, gentle reader.

This Weekend’s History Lesson

We’re spending time at home again, so we have had the opportunity to watch a couple of films over the weekend.

Such as this history lesson:

Which is not much of a history lesson at all, given that it’s purportedly set in the protodynastic period in Egypt which runs like 3000 B.C., when two actual Egyptians bore the title King Scorpion, and the Rock plays the last of the Akkadians, which is is out of time since the Akkadian empire did not rise until about 2300 B.C., seven hundred years after, and the “Akkadians” are assassins, which seems to be patterned on the Order of Assassins from roughly 1100 A.D.

So, that is to say, it was not a very good history lesson at all but rather a lesson not to get your understanding of history from the cinema.

Starring Rachel Roberts As Erica

An A.I. robot named Erica was cast in the lead role of a $70M sci-fi film:

An enterprising sci-fi film crew has devised an ingenious way to shoot their film while circumventing coronavirus concerns — by casting a real-life A.I. robot named Erica. The move marks the first time a movie will star an artificially intelligent actor, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“She was created from scratch to play the role,” says Sam Khoze, a visual-effects supervisor behind “b,” the $70 million science-fiction film in which Erica will star. The flick, backed by Bondit Capital Media and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media, follows a scientist who finds a glitch in his DNA-replication research and helps the artificial organism he designed (Erica) escape, according to the outlet.

Sounds like the story they fed the media about the 2002 film Simone:

Will 2002, the year of Simone, Andrew Niccol’s feature film, come to be seen as another pivotal moment – the moment that the power of illusion surpassed that of reality? Will that year of the first “real-or-fake?” feature movie actor be seen as a symbolic bookmark locating the era when we could no longer tell, nor care if we could tell, what is authentic?

Critics did not agree about Simone. Reviews ranged from raves to pans, with many critics in the “mixed” camp. However, intelligent commentary seemed in agreement that it was the premise of Simone, which delivered its potential promise. That premise is that an entirely fake actress, digitally created by a desperate movie director (Al Pacino), could woo an unknowing audience and become a phenomenal star.

But there’s more. Just as Simone, the centerpiece “character” of Niccol’s film, turned out to be a fake, the actual actress who portrays Simone, turned out to be real. Although Niccol, Pacino, and even the film’s credits claim that “Simone”, the digital character, played “herself”, members of the press have revealed that Simone was in fact enacted by Canadian supermodel Rachel Roberts.

Sounds very similar indeed.

Making the Leap to the Small Screen

As I just read the Tron: The Storybook, I had to right away, wherein “right away” means in a week or so, watch the film.

As we’re watching, I see the character Bit:

and I think, what else have I seen him in?

Then, today, it finally hit me: He was also in the television series Automan:

Although the role on television was not a speaking role, it looks like it was physically demanding.

In Automan, he’s credited as “Cursor” as Himself. I guess the first appearance in Tron was uncredited, and he must have left the industry after the television program.

I wonder whatever became of that guy.

Is Our Movie Critics Mathing?

From the story The Real Story Behind the ‘Star Wars’ Opening Weekend 43 Years Ago:

This was 43 years ago, a gap as great as 1924 was to 1977.

Bro, do you even add?

I suppose we’re just lucky he didn’t show the Common Core math techniques he used to get there with boxes and estimation and reduction and regurgitation until one goes through eight steps to arrive at the wrong answer. But you followed the process and will be rewarded!

(Link via Instapundit.)

That’s Not How I Remember It Because That’s Not How It Is

In an article wherein the “journalist” says he has recently rewatched all of the Dirty Harry movies (possibly for the first time), he characterizes a well-known scene thus:

In the famed, “Do you feel lucky?” scene on Montgomery Street, Callahan forces an unarmed bank robber to play Russian Roulette for his life, for no reason whatsoever.

Dude, did you even watch it?

The bank robber has a shotgun within reach when Inspector Callahan walks up and delivers the speech. The hoodlum decides he does not feel lucky, and then Callahan picks up the shotgun. The hoodlum says he has to know if the gun was empty, and Callahan dramatically points the gun at the hoodlum and pulls the trigger. Because Callahan knew the gun was empty. It showed how cold-blooded Callahan was. At the end of the clip above (and the scene), the hoodlum curses Dirty Harry.

So at no point did anyone play Russian Roulette with an unarmed robber. Callahan faced a bank robber who had a loaded gun in reach even though he knew his own gun was empty.

In the “journalist”‘s defense, it was the first movie in the series, and if he made it all the way through The Dead Pool, I know what you’re thinking, ‘Did he watch ten hours of Dirty Harry movies or only nine?’ Well, to be honest, it’s a lot, and this was from the beginning. But he could have checked YouTube before making the assertion.

Or maybe the audience of SFGate.com wouldn’t know the difference, by and large not being Dirty Harry or Clint Eastwood fans.

(Link via Instapundit.)

Also, yes, I asserted by and large San Franciscans of the twenty-first century are not Dirty Harry fans without a “scientific” study (read: survey) to back it up. But it’s probably true.

Book Report: Four Weddings and a Funeral by Richard Curtis (1996)

Book coverYou know, I actually saw this film once, probably on videocassette when it was fresh and Hugh Grant was a leading man and I was dating a girl who liked these sorts of films. And perhaps thought I was something like Hugh Grant. But all I remember, really, was whose funeral it was, and that Hugh Grant was wooing Andie MacDowell.

So I’m not really going to go into the plot much here but to contrast this screenplay with the plays I generally read. The screenwrighter says it took him a long time to write it, and I believe it, but contrasted with a play for stage, it’s just a bunch of scenes, camera directions, and very, very terse dialog. We get scenes with a single line or a single word (generally fuck) and then we’re elsewhere. It’s the nature of film making versus staging a play, and I get it. I had a screenwriting class, surely, and I’m pretty sure I read Mamet’s book. Somebody’s book.

But I tend to think in terms of drama, and Heaven knows I read more of it than screenplays. So I favor the other over this style, especially for reading. It works better for films qua films, I know.

At any rate, the book also contains some appendices that give some insight into professional screenwriting, including deleted scenes, marketing concepts and brainstorms, and the need to adjust the language to fit an American television cut.

So worth more for these insights rather than a good read. And it’s probably better as a film than a text to enjoy on its own.

Coronaviraschooling: Day 8

So every day of this last week, their first at home because of the coronavirus lockdown, the boys and I (and sometimes my beautiful wife) have taken a poem and hand-copied it to keep up with our handwriting and to talk about poetry. We started with “If” by Rudyward Kipling, and apparently it’s a thing now because I’ve seen it on a couple different blogs (here and here this very week). I was going to have them do “The Gods of Copybook Headings”, but it’s pretty long–“If” took the slowest writer an hour (complaining included).

So we did a couple of shorter poems–a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, “Ozymandias” by Shelley on Friday.

Continuing the theme of Romantic poets writing about ancient Asian things, yesterday we went with “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
    The shadow of the dome of pleasure
    Floated midway on the waves;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
    From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

After about an hour (including complaining), we finished. We talked about the rhyme scheme, the meter, and the way the poet uses strange contractions to make meter. I mentioned that Coleridge is best known for writing the Iron Maiden song “Rime of the Ancient Mariner“.

And then we watched the film version of the poem.

I told my beautiful wife I had just picked it up. Wherein “just” in this case means three years ago.

My wife and youngest son watched the whole thing with me; the oldest son wandered off, and when he returned, he asked what was happening, as though it was making real sense between the Olivia Newton-John numbers. We told him it would have made more sense if he hadn’t missed the animated interlude in the middle. Which was not true, but.

Today, I think we will continue our mythology unit with the 1980 Clash of the Titans.

Confession: I did select “Kubla Khan” just so we would get to watch the movie thereafter. There, I said it.

Coronaviraschooling, Day 1

Today, we had a unit on Sophocles and Aeschylus.

As I have mentioned before, in the days before cable and the Internet, you really had a limited selection of things to watch, and we watched Hercules and Hercules Unchained on Saturday and Sunday afternoons along with a whole host of peplum. Although I remember the Sinbad movies as well, but it looks like those were not products of the 1960s but the 1970s. And a whole bunch of Zorro.

I like recapturing those Saturday and Sunday afternoons when I find a film like this one at some yard sale or another and watching it, sometimes with my boys (who don’t mind the old films so much since I’ve inured them to it with viewings of old films like The Iron Mask and National Velvet).

And then I do a little research and learn tidbits of trivia (“research” means I read the Wikipedia entry for Steve Reeves) and learned Internet truths like he was the highest paid actor in the world in his day and that he was considered for the roles of Doctor No and The Man With No Name.

Neat stuff.

But, clearly, I am not watching the old films as fast as I thought I would at the beginning of last year. Perhaps the coronacation will allow me to catch up a bit.

Awaiting the Friar Verdict

Spenser Confidential review – Mark Wahlberg crash lands on Netflix:

caper called Spenser Confidential, is the kind of film that evaporates as it’s being watched, destined never to be thought of again. It’s regrettable given those involved, from director Peter Berg, who has worked with Wahlberg four times before, including on 2016’s criminally underseen Deepwater Horizon, to writer Brian Helgeland, who won an Oscar for his LA Confidential script before getting nominated for Mystic River. It’s also a story based around a much-loved private eye created by Robert B Parker, one who provided inspiration to crime authors such as Dennis Lehane and Harlan Coben. But it would take a master sleuth to detect any of that pedigree in the finished product.

Robert Urich is still my Spenser. I’ve seen the Joe Mantegna television movies and don’t remember hating them, but, as I mentioned, the Spenser: For Hire television series turned me onto the Spenser books in the first place.

Which means the progression for this IP was television series > books. And I liked both as their own things.

I don’t have Netflix, so I’ll have to wait for Friar to weigh in on it. It sounds like they’ve made some, erm, changes. But they’ve got a native Boston speaker to do it.

UPDATE: The wait is over.

Spotting the Movie Mistake

GREAT SCOTT! Back To The Future stars Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd have heartwarming reunion for ‘poker night’:

BACK to the Future stars Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd first captured imaginations on screen in Back To The Future in 1985.

And the much-loved stars – who played Marty McFly and Doc Brown respectively – were reunited 35 years later on Wednesday.

Fox, 58, and 81-year-old Lloyd posed for a picture at the annual charity poker tournament organised by Fox.

Can someone tell me what might be misleading about this photo and caption?

Continue reading “Spotting the Movie Mistake”

Eight Years Later,

In 2012, I posted a list of the top 100 movies of the year and made a quiz of it, identifying which I had seen.

Back then, the total was two.

Eight years on, the total is now five as I have seen The Dark Knight Rises, Ted, and John Carter.

Looking over the list, I might make out another dozen that I would be interested in seeing in the next decade, assuming that the DVDs are still available on the 2 for $1 shelf at the local video store. And that I end up going back to the video store regularly before it finally converts to a full-time CBD distributor and eventually closes.

Military Scientists Make The Sword and The Sorcerer Prototype A Reality

US air forces in Syria use rare Hellfire missile to kill two targets:

The projectile used in the attack in Atmeh is believed to be a rare Hellfire missile known as the AGM-114R9X — which instead of a traditional warhead, has sword-like blades that protrude out of it, according The Warzone.

Video of the field trials below:

If it were lasers, you know I’d have gone with Real Genius.

The Source of That Thing Daddy Always Says (IX)

In the mornings, I have a couple (or six) cups of coffee. But sometime in the mid-morning, I have decided I’ve had enough, and I switch to water. I lay up a dozen or so liters of sparkling or mineral water per week, generally Mountain Valley but Perrier if I don’t get to the southeast corner of Springfield, where Lucky’s Market looks to be the only place stocking Mountain Valley these days.

I have taken to calling the sparkling water Fizzy Bubbly with a mock Israeli accent. Because that’s how Adam Sandler says it in Don’t Mess With The Zohan.

Here, the woman who plays Sandler’s love interest offers him one.

I know, I know, it’s dubbed in German, but you can hear it named. Watch the clip now, because sometime soon the Copyright Patrols will recognize it as “protected” material even in German.

I watched the film again earlier this year because my oldest son has been on a Sandler kick, and I wasn’t sure whether this film was appropriate for young people.

Spoiler alert: Oh, but no.

But when my boys see it, sometime after they turn 21, they will recognize the source of my nickname for sparkling water.