Monday, May 31, 2010

True Story: "What are we doing out here?"



Memory, like family, is a strange thing. Each have the same capacity for both good and bad. You can cherish and/or dread what comes out of the pair. The Memorial Day holiday* and my relatives hold that special property for me. Through no fault of my own, I was raised mostly by my mother's herd -- who are just this side of sane (although, they have been known to stray into the land of crazy from time to time). However, I still consider myself lucky I was stuck via blood and marriage with these people. My father's clan, as luck would have it, reminded me of a scant version of the familia that brought the bounty upon Alfredo Garcia's head. But, that's for another tale...

This post has been moved to my current blog, which can be found here.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Forgotten Film: The Dirty Dozen

It was the summer of '67, I being a dozen years old then, that I really became aware of (and secretly wanted to be as cool as) the actor Lee Marvin. I can recall it as if it were only yesterday. I went to the Warner Theatre in Huntington Park in June/July of that year to take in Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen. Growing up, I had seen Marvin plenty of times before in reruns of M-Squad, plus his guest appearances as the heavy on TV shows of the time (Rawhide, Bonanza, etc.) and older movie westerns (Comancheros, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, etc.). But, it was here in this action/war film that the real impression of the man was ingrained into my susceptible psyche. I'll stipulate for the record that being cool then is a dimensional shift away from what that means today. It was definitely a more masculine era back then (for better or for worst).

[Coincidentally, this actor and film would seem the antithesis to Carrie Bradshaw and the Sex and the City 2 movie which also opens today. All I can say is, what great timing! ;-)]

The rest of this post has been updated and moved over to my current blog, found here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Death List Part 4

Continuation of the Death List series:

"You know, Books; I'm not an especially brave man. But, if I were you and had lived my entire life the way you have, I don't think that the death I just described to you is not the one I would choose." ~ Dr. E.W. Hostetler (The Shootist)
It is a sobering point of fact that everyone dies (and I'm not very crazy about highlighting that actuality, neither) -- I guess you could reference the Lost finale if you want to get any solace out of it. We all have a start date (which most of us are aware of) and an end date (the something we are blissfully ignorant about). Even if we could, many of us wouldn't particularly want to learn anything specific about that latter rendezvous with the Reaper, in any case. But certainly, just about everyone would want it pushed back to the furthermost point in the future, that's for sure. I guess there is something to said about the core beliefs of Buddhism, with all apologies to my Catholic mother and wife.

On the big (or small) screen, we have all seen moments in movies when the protagonist gets to chose that specific end date because the story demands it. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, there are times when self sacrifice is the only way to solve a particularly tough problem for the hero. A greater good is to be gained, and other lives to be saved, byway of the principal character's martyrdom. Nonetheless, there are other instances when the situation laid out before the man or woman of the hour where there isn't much to attained, at all. The protagonist is not given a chance for his death to mean more beyond her/his own situation. At those times, it's more personal. The hero is going to die in the piece... and nothing is going to prevent that. Even so, for a small set of films the character does get to impact the circumstances of their own demise and leave their own distinct mark on the final outcome. Here then, in no particular order, is my Going Out on Your Own Terms list.

[Spoiler Alert: keys plot points are revealed below]

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Forgotten Bo... Novella: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption



By the year 1982, I'd read all of author Stephen King's novels (including the Hugo Award winning non-fiction work, Danse Macabre), in chronological order (except for Carrie)*. So when I came upon his newest that summer, Different Seasons, I thought I knew what I'd be getting: another of his horrific, but imaginative, tales that would make me shudder by the time I'd close the novel. But, this book would throw the proverbial curve at me (to say the least). Different Seasons was King's first collection of four novellas put into one bound print volume. Each of these, likely the first novellas of this or any kind I'd ever read, were very different affairs of fiction. Even the table of contents had an unexpected design to the book. Each of the novella titles had a seasonal lead (I still have the original Viking Press hardcover sitting in my book shelf). From the original Table of Contents page:



This post has been updated and moved to my current blog, which can be found here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Favorite Lines From Favorite Movies Part 4

This is my continuation of an arc I started a short while back, containing some of my all-time favorite lines from the movies I never tire of watching. So, for those times when you need something to say...

Memento
"She's gone and the present is trivia that I scribble on these f*cking notes."

"Is that what your little note says? It must be hard living your life off a couple of scraps of paper. You mix your laundry list with your grocery list you'll end up eating your underwear for breakfast."

"I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different. Now... where was I?"
The Professionals
"There's only been one revolution since the beginning - the good guys versus the bad guys. The question is - who are the good guys?"
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Josey Wales: "When I get to likin' someone, they ain't around long."
Lone Watie: "I notice when you get to DISlikin' someone, they ain't around for long neither!"

Josey Wales: "You a bounty hunter?"
Bounty Hunter: "A man has to do something these days to earn a living."
Josey Wales: "Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy."
Devil in a Blue Dress
"A man once told me that you step out of your door in the morning, and you are already in trouble. The only question is are you on top of that trouble or not?"

"You said don't shoot him, right? Well I didn't; I strangled him. If you didn't want me to kill him, why did you leave me alone with him?"
The Usual Suspects
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
Tombstone
"You gonna do somethin'? Or are you just gonna stand there and bleed?"

"Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself."
The Ninth Configuration
"And you know what that heartless butcher prescribed? He said, 'here, take this. It's a suicide pill, with a mild laxative side effect.' What kind of bedside manner is that?"

"I don't belong to the God is alive and hiding in Argentina club. But, I believe in the Devil, alright. You know why? Because the prick keeps doing commercials."
Heat
"You prefer the usual routine. We f*ck and you lose the power of speech."

"I'm angry. I'm very angry, Ralph. You know, you can ball my wife if she wants you to. You can lounge around here on her sofa, in her ex-husband's dead-tech, post-modernistic bullsh*t house, if you want to. But you do not get to watch my f*cking television set!"
The Day the Earth Stood Still
"I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason."
Minority Report
"Well, in my experience, parents often see their children as they want them to be, not as they are."

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Minority Report Film/Disc Review

With the encouragement of the very kind Rachel over at Scientist Gone Wordy, I'm writing a post on one of the best sci-fi films to be released within the last ten years, IMO. Minority Report, the 2002 commercial hit directed by Steven Spielberg, is based upon a short story from the famed science fiction writer/novelist Philip K. Dick. For the last few decades, the late and influential author has given film studios plenty to work with in optioned novels and short stories, though with varying degrees of critical, box office, and sci-fi fan success (and that more than likely was due to the manner filmmakers re-interpreted his work). Though I'm sure I've taken in a short by PKD somewhere along the span of my life, I've hardly read any of his written pieces. My exposure to this fine author has been byway of the films Hollywood has adapted from his source material (with varying degrees of alteration). Rachel, whose blog and writing I really admire, has agreed to join me in this endeavor and will be posting in parallel on PKD's Minority Report short story and the differences between it and the film she so loves (see link below):

The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

I think I may have my work cut out for me in keeping up with her (what have I gotten myself into?). Oh, well. My father had a saying he repeated often enough, and it may be appropriate here.
"God hates a coward."
This review has been updated and moved to my current blog, which can be found here.


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Monday, May 10, 2010

One of a Kind: Charlie Huston and The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

Author Charlie Huston doesn't seem capable of writing quiet or cautious fiction. Surprising would be the word I'd use when it comes to experiencing or explaining his work (and it's a highly recommended one at that by my book blogger friends). Sick, and not for the squeamish, could well be on the warning label for his book covers (if publishers did that sort of thing). Hysterically funny should certainly be listed there, too. One should take note, perhaps as a warning to some, of the novelist's marvelous and creative use of profanity in the dialogue of his characters  (I think only filmmaker/writer Quentin Tarantino rivals him in the expletive arena). Like him or not, there's no way you can ignore this man's talent. Exciting and unexpected would be the words that summarize my latest foray into Huston territory (my second behind Caught Stealing).

This post has been updated and moved to my current blog, which can be found here.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Favorite Lines From Favorite Movies Part 3

This is my continuation of an arc I started a short while back, containing some of my all-time favorite lines from the movies I never tire of watching. So, for those times when you need something to say...

Forbidden Planet
"Another one of them new worlds. No beer, no women, no pool parlors, nothin'! Nothin' to do but throw rocks at tin cans, and we gotta bring our own tin cans."
Fail-Safe
"If we can't convince them it's an accident that we're trying to correct, by any means, we're going to have something on our hands that nobody bargained for... and only a lunatic wants."
Charade
Reggie Lambert: "I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else."
Peter Joshua: "Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know."

Reggie Lampert: "Why do people have to tell lies?"
Peter Joshua: "Usually it's because they want something. They are afraid the truth won't get it for them."
My Favorite Year
[Alan Swann has blundered into the wrong restroom]
Lil: "This is for ladies only!"
Swann: "So is this, mum, but sometimes I have to run a little water through it."
Red River
"There are only two things that are better than a gun: a Swiss watch and a woman from anywhere. Ever had a good... Swiss watch?"
Pulp Fiction
"Jules, if you give that f*ckin' nimrod fifteen hundred dollars, I'm gonna shoot him on general principles."
Goldfinger
"Choose our next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond. It may be your last."
The Duelists
"I am going to be killed responsibly, on horseback, as a compliment to the cavalry."
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
"You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!"
The Third Man
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly."

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Best Movie You Ever Saw at a Drive-in

Hot (and Cold) Favorites
The recent movie article in the New York Times (linked above), in honor of the upcoming kick-off of the summer movie season with this week's release of Iron Man 2, had some film insiders pick and discuss some of their favorites from past summers. This included, in their own words, memories from a screenwriter (Erin Cressida Wilson) and a couple of directors (James Mangold, Neil Jordan). However, the one recollection that really piqued my interest (enough to write a post about it) was the one written by the legendary independent filmmaker, George Romero. For him, the summer meant the 'drive-in.' That one really struck a chord with me. While growing up, the drive-in (as a venue) was my introduction to film as a child. The Bronx, where Romeo grew up, had only one drive-in (as he states, The Whitestone). But as he grew older, he got more opportunities to visit road-side cinemas:
"So, a few years later, I go off to college in Pittsburgh. At that time, in the ’50s, don’t ask me why, Pittsburgh had maybe more drive-ins than any American city except Los Angeles. I used to go a lot."
This post has been updated and moved to my current blog, which can be found here.