Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Marathon Man" and "The Little Shop of Horrors" are both known for their dental torture scenes

On of my favorite 70s films was “Marathon Man” (1976, Paramount), by John Schlessinger, based on the novel by William Goldman.

The greatest scene is the “Is it safe?” inquisition where Babe (Dustin Hoffman) is tortured by a dentist disguising his identity as a Nazi war criminal (Szell, played by Laurence Olivier).

Babe is a doctoral graduate student in history, Doc (Roy Scheider) is his brother, and Elsa Opel (Marthe Keller) is the girl friend, and Chen (James Wing Woo) is the rogue assassin (a kind of Pie-o-Pah).

I saw the film in midtown Manhattan in a large palace in the fall of 1976.

The other great dental torture scene comes from the first “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960, Roger Corman), written by Charles B. Griffith, with its “masochist and sadist” scene.  This film was shown on the Saturday night “Chiller” series in 1964.  Here’s the dental torture clip.    (The remake (by Frank Oz for Geffen and Warner Brothers in 1986), as I recalled, as a musical with Audrey as the carnivorous plant didn't have that scene. It also omits the definite article.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Short film about teen entrepreneur Daniel Singer

ABC’s “Young and Gifted” series of video presents 16 year old Daniel Singer, from the San Fernando alley in Los Angeles, in “Teen Drops Out of High School to Build Social App”. 
The teenager is described by his parents as having been born an adult, who loves do build and develops things. 
The Bond App helps with meeting people  but it seems odd that someone not old enough to drink would develop an app for people to use in bars.  The iTunes link is here
Peter Thiel has scholarships to help gifted kids drop out of college and start businesses (as with Taylor Wilson, Book reviews, Dec. 14, 2015.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Michael Moore has predicted Trump will win general election

The Humanist Report with Michael Fuguerdo plays an HBO clip from Bill Maher where leftist filmmaker Michael Moore predicts that Donald Trump will win the general election (taped July 26).

Moore thinks that Trump can carry all the swing rust belt states.

Fugeurdo maintains that Obamacare would never have passed if it weren’t for Moore’s “Sicko”.

He also says that Hillary Clinton is “smarter” than Donald Trump.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

"A Video to My Future Kids", by Connor Franta: let's ponder space-time and wonder if future people really exist

OK, here’s a short film by Connor Franta (there are many), “A Video to My Future Kids”.

We can get into a cosmological, philosophical debate about how you can be responsible to people who don’t even exist yet.

But he makes the case for gay marriage (a future husband) and gay parents. He also pitches the film “Gayby Baby” which is on iTunes.

The video was perhaps shot in his home state of Wisconsin (or maybe next door in Minnesota).
Note he has trademarked his initials “CF” with a trade dress.

Maybe, Connor, Reid Ewing and Gabe the Babe could make a film together – with Reid’s dogs and the cat PsychoMikan.  I know from my own experience (back in 1979 when a cat adopted me) that animals (at least cats) really know who we are, even if they spend their days outdoors hunting and come back home when they feel like it to boss us around.   Pick a location – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, California.

By the way, some other industry gossip – North Carolina no longer gives tax breaks to film companies, so filming in Wilmington (right now under a tropical storm) has stopped.  What happened to those Republicans?  McCrory is so preoccupied with bathrooms that he seems to have driven companies away.

The other rumor is that Richard Harmon (“Judas Kiss”, “The 100”), “The Greatest of All Time”, wants to pitch for the San Francisco Giants.  Can he really get major league batters (like Bryce Harper) out?  Don’t underestimate him.  That Nats could face the Giants yet again in the playoffs.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Remembering Gene Wilder's films, most of all the end of "Silver Streak"

We will all remember Gene Wilder today, as he passed away at age 83.  I actually learned this first from a tweet from Jack Andraka.

Two films in particular that I remember him for.  One was the black-and-white horror comedy "Young Frankenstein" (1974), by Mel Brooks, which I saw for $1 at the old St. Marks theater in the East Village in New York City, not too far from the Ninth Street Center when I was attending it just after moving there.  Wilder plays the mad surgeon. I don’t recall “Blazing Saddles” quite as well.

But the best film I recall him in is “Silver Streak” (1976, Arthur Hiller), where he finds romance but evades being pushed off the train, until it crashes into Union Station in Chicago.  Washington DC had such a wreck when I was a boy in 1953.

The video above shows the end of “Silver Streak”, where the railroad has unbelievable bureaucratic incompetence – filmed at an aircraft hangar and partly in Toronto, although it’s supposed to happen in Chicago – the train engineer is apparently murdered.  The other clip is “Murder in a Private Car” (1934) where people are rescued by a steam engine.

Of course, we're reminded of the real, horrific Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May 2015.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Visit to Cumberland Gap recalls Disney "Frontierland" movies

I can remember the weekly “Wonderful World of Walt Disney”, back in my boyhood, as well as the opening of Disneyland, first in California (I would visit it the day before a job interview when getting out of the Army in 1969).

The four lands were “Fantasyland” “Adventureland”, “Tomorrowland” and “Frontierland”.  And an early “Frontierland film” would be “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier”  (bio) with Fess Parker, directed by Normal Foster (1955).  It would be followed in 1956 by “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates” (1956).

Another favorite was “The Great Locomotive Chase” (1956)  set in the Civil War, again with Fess Parker by Francis D. Lyon.

Skip 11 years and see Roddy McDowall in James Nielson’s “The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin” about an opportunistic young man in the California gold rush.

All these movies came to mind at the Cumberland Gap Visitor’s Center where they showed “Daniel Boone and the Westward Movement”, for which I bought the DVD and will review soon on my Wordpress blog.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Gabe the Babe" and Reid Ewing team up for a comedy short film in Salt Lake; In Heaven (or Zion), everything is indeed fine. (Bonus: DuoSkin)

Gabe the Babe TV: Exposed” may be part of a web series, but by itself it functions well as an 11-munute mockumentary short film.  Gabe (and I guess a little brother) visit the home of Reid Ewing in Salt Lake City.  Even Reid’s dad (a well known college professor, as I understand) appears.

It appears that the home may be in the wooded northeast side of the city, toward the mountains and Park City, above 6000 feet.  Much of the city is around 4500 and looks like desert as it approaches the Great Salt Lake (with all those Mormon suburbs like Jordan Valley and Taylorsville).  If in the higher section, it would give Reid a good shot of training to pitch for the Colorado Rockies (in Denver, right at 5280 feet0.  In Coors Field, nobody can get anybody out anyway, as breaking pitches don’t work.  Actually, Coors Field would be a good site for another mockumentary, Modern style.  (I saw a game in the old stadium in 1994 one week before the baseball strike.)

Reid shows off his dogs, and says that the future of mankind isn’t just in having kids, it’s with animals, or learning to communicate with them.  I didn't see the cat ("Mikan") show up in the film.  He could have been outside hunting.  I once had a cat who adopted me at night and hunted outdoors all day and would return every night.

So how about a short film about the orca – the most intelligent animal on Earth, with a brain hardwired for distributed consciousness (or cosmic consciousness).  Orca’s can switch between individual mode and group mode, and their brains have a biological Internet connection (through Sonar) that enables them to feel one another’s pain directly.  Maybe the new innovation “Duoskin” will do that for humans.   Anyway, the Orca has a language like ours, and you would think Mark Zuckerberg would have learned it by now.

Or do a short film about the immortal jellyfish (not the extraterrestrial box jellyfish) that doesn’t have to reproduce, but achieves immortality in “Benjamin Button” style by retrogressing back to infancy and starting over.  Peter Thiel will notice.  (And neither the orca or jellyfish qualify as true “Free Fish”).

Anyway, this short film is done very well technically (they took pains to make this comedy skit look sharp) and would play well on its own in short film collections, in film festivals, especially LGBTQ.
I found the film on Reid’s Twitter feed, right next to a post about “Beauty and the Beast” (1946) which I retweeted with a post about the Lady in the Radiator in David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (1977).
In Heaven, everything is indeed fine.

Pictures: Not exactly Danganronpa or Pokemon, but settings for the screenplay for my own "Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany".  If only I could raise $40 million to make it.