Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Vision

Here's the juiciest bit of casting news I've heard in a while... my friend Gord told me today that not only is my favourite modern actor, Mathieu Amalric (Kings and Queen, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly) going to be the villain in the upcoming (and currently untitled) James Bond film (sic), but rumour has it he's also going to be playing the ultimate Bond baddie - Ernst Goddamn Stavro Fucking Blofeld (triple sic)!!!

Every few years, the Broccoli family try to get me to see the latest James Bond film, usually tantalizing me by casting amazing contemporary actors as the new Bond villain; sometimes it works (Christopher Walken in A View To A Kill) and sometimes it doesn't (Robert Carlyle in The World is Not Enough). And I can tell you right now that I have mentally already bought my ticket for this one, if only so I can reconcile these two trailers in my brain.





Actually...this Scopitone might help tie everything together...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Going To The Movies In Buenos Aires

The best part about seeing a film when you're travelling is if you luck out and pick a good one to go see, you get sucked into it and when it's over, you walk out of the lobby and are suddenly reminded that you are in another city, not your own.

I saw two films when I was in Buenos Aires. My friend Matias and I had to arrange to get a cab to take us all the way out to a shopping centre in the Bs. As. 'burbs to see Beowulf: La Leyenda (in 3-D IMAX! With IMAX-sized Spanish subtitles!) The tickets cost 14 pesos - or about $4.75 Canadian. You could bring beer into the theatre as well...beer and IMAX goggles, plus the trailer for Soy Leyenda!

On my last weekend in town I went to the Palermo multiplex down the street from the massive Alto Palermo shopping centre to take in a trasnoche screening of Gone Baby Gone. A trasnoche, film-lovers, is a movie-going tradition on the weekends in Buenos Aires - shows start between 1 and 1:30 a.m and are PACKED! You have dinner at 10, maybe an ice cream afterwards, then you roll over to the trasnoche, and THEN you go out clubbing. You can get popcorn either sugared (the local preference) or salted (no such thing as buttered popcorn in this town either way). And no Diet Coke - round here it's called Coke Light. Got to see some amazing Argentine commercials plus the trailer for P.T. Anderson's upcoming Habrá Sangre. Except for kids films, all international movies are in their original language with subtitles en Castellano. Argentinian films for the most part play in their own cinemas.

I couldn't find any of the massive theatres that used to exist in Buenos Aires in their original state; the Monumental, right down on Lavalle (the pedestrian tourist trap) used to have 3,000 seats (you can get a glimpse of it in its former glory in my previous post, at the start of one of the 60's Sandro trailers I linked to) but is now a run-down movie pit - they were playing Supercool, Michael Clayton and El Asesinato De Jesse James Por El Cobarde Robert Ford, plus two films that haven't even come out in North America, a thriller by Andrew Lau starring Richard Gere and some John Travolta / Salma Hayek period piece...

I learned something about Toronto while I was travelling as well, a lesson that left my city in the general deficit column. A small Romanian film like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days wins the Palme D'Or, and that fall it quietly pops up in Toronto and plays at the Cumberland for a couple of weeks, before winding up at the back of the Carlton for a couple more weeks. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, the very same film plays at every multiplex downtown, often with giant ads for the engagement in the lobby, and when I went over to the Palermo on a Saturday night at midnight, the 1:30 a.m. show was already sold out. What are we to make of this?

(See my modest set of Buenos Aires movie theatre pictures here...)

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Proof!

Proof they knew I was coming down to Argentina!

Monday, December 10, 2007

This One's For Las Chicas

This report is filed from a locutorio in Buenos Aires. Locutorios are internet spots that are all over the city - in Buenos Aires, even the act of surfing the net all day can be part of your active social life.

I'm here because my vacation ends tomorrow and I'm on my way into a Musimundo store (there are no HMVs in Buenos Aires) to grab a couple of DVDs of Sandro, a living legend, a man I had never heard of before until I arrived here. He was all over the papers because he had recently turned 60 and was on yet another comeback trail (his last comeback apparently had him hooked up to an oxygen tank on stage but that wasn't enough to keep him from being snowed under by women's underwear).

But sometimes you achieve something that gets you buried in women's underwear for the rest of your life.



Sandro, the Argentine Elvis Presley (or is he the Argentine Amitabh Bachchan?) was a pop singer who made a dozen or so musicals in the sixties and seventies that were massively popular in Latin America... like Presley's films, they seemed to exist as pure vehicles to deliver the man candy to the ladies...here's a trailer or two of the goods.



If you want your own Sandro DVDs but can't hike it to Buenos Aires, you are in luck.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Taking Care of Bs. As.

I´ve been in Buenos Aires for 5 days now and although I could never say I´m making myself at home, I am starting to get my bearings in terms of geography, if not communications. I can read Spanish somewhat, but I can´t necessarily understand it as it is spoken, especially in the Latin American dialect, where the double L in words is pronounced with a J sound instead of a Y sound (e.g. - a crazy chicken is El Posho Loco instead of El Poyo Loco ).

Buenos Aires is New York as designed by the French with Spanish dialogue. All the pharmacies have the flashing neon green cross out in front and the street signs are often blue plates with white writing on them. No such thing as a house - everyone lives in apartments with grand balconies.

Here´s a defining moment - last night my friend Matias and I took a big long walk from the north of the city back towards my neighbourhood in Barrio Norte - we were on one of the main drags (Avenida Santa Fe) on a Monday night at 1 am and on the other side of the street there were about 50 young people wearing hospital gowns and surgical masks jumping up and down in excitement, gathering up their group that proceeded en masse towards a club - it looked like a flash mob-slash-Sprite commercial. Three young guys passed us watching them as well, and Matias told me one of them muttered en castellano to his friends "God. Every day, the same thing."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Telekino Goes To Buenos Aires



Telekino lands in Buenos Aires on Friday morning (November 30th) - staying in Palermo Viejo until December 11th. I will file my first report as soon as I can find an awesome internet cafe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer's Greatest Hits

Norman Mailer died this morning...I'm less familiar with his novels and more familiar with his exploits as a Renaissance Wild Man.

Mailer directed four films through his life and actually received a career retrospective at Lincoln Center earlier this year - I was actually considering flying down to New York just to see the legendary Maidstone - a macho, alcohol-fueled improv-fest about politics and paranoia, filmed with friends in the Hamptons starring himself, Rip Torn, Ultra Violet and Lane Smith. Here's a description of the moment co-star Herve Villechaize (sic) almost drowned on the set, from the biography "Mailer: His Life And Times" by Peter Manso - the incident as remembered by Barney Rosset, at whose home the filming took place.

I was terrified of the violence, which was so thick you could feel it. After the first or second day these people had finished shooting, it was still light, and they'd gone back to where they were staying, in Bridgehampton, five miles away. My mother in law went outside, then came back into the house screaming, "There's a midget in the swimming pool!"

My wife and I go outside, and sure enough, there he is, floating. Someone had thrown Villechaize into the pool, and he was drowning. I was able to reach over the side and pull him out. My reaction was sheer rage, sort of "what right do they have to put this thing in our pool and then go home, just split?" Here we were in our house, this Quonset hut sunk in the ground, with the swimming pool and a lot of trees; this place had been vibrant with maniacs one minute, and suddenly they're all gone. My poor mother in law hasn't been out all day, she's been barricaded inside, then she comes back in screaming. What I said to my wife was, "Goddamn it, we're gonna get Norman!" I wasn't worried whether the midget was dead or alive. I didn't even call the rescue squad.

I got in my car and raced the five miles to the Bull's Head Inn, where they were all staying. I went up to Norman's room and pounded on the door. "Norman, you've gotta come back and get your midget!" And Norman? He and Jose went back with us and scooped up the guy, and I was told later that they took him to the hospital, where his stomach was pumped. Whether he was suffering from booze or drowning, I don't know, probably a mixture of both. The next day, though, to my utter amazement, he was back playing the piano in the Lane Smith scene.

Maidstone is notorious for being the movie where Rip Torn actually assaulted Mailer with a hammer, leading to Mailer biting Torn's ear in the ensuing wrestling match - all caught on film by D.A. Pennebaker.


Of course Mailer's ongoing feud with Gore Vidal is one for the ages - Vidal's quote that "there has been from Henry Miller to Norman Mailer to Charles Manson a logical progression" enraged Mailer so much that they had it out on the Dick Cavett Show, excerpted here in this documentary on Gore.


Mailer's best-known film as a director was 1987's 100% fucked-up Tough Guys Don't Dance, based on his novel. Sample dialogue: Lawrence Tierney describes his son Ryan O'Neal's ex-wife as the kind of dame "who should wear a sign around her neck that says 'Hang around, I'll make a cocksucker out of you.'" On the half-hour interview with Mailer on the DVD, he considers the film to be a success EXCEPT for this scene:


O'Neal felt Mailer left this incredible part in the final cut in order to destroy his acting career and never spoke to him again. In retrospect, Mailer said he would have taken this part out if he could do it over.

There was a bizarre episode of 'Gilmore Girls' a few years back where Mailer played himself being interviewed in the dining room of the Dragonfly Inn - for no reason except perhaps to pad out the episode. Maybe he thought Lorelai and Rory were distant relatives of Gary...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Make It Suntory Time





(thanks to Kate for the first clip and Mickey Rourke for getting arrested for drunk driving on a Vespa for the second clip)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

George Segal: Secretly Canadian

I need to get my hands on a Canadian thriller called Russian Roulette (1975) - directed by veteran editor Lou Lombardo who, judging from his work on The Wild Bunch, must know his way around an action scene. Set in Vancouver, this one stars the underrated George Segal as a burned-out undercover Mountie (sic) who stumbles across a plot to assassinate the visiting Soviet Premier.

When I was a kid I was a bit obsessed with two 1977 George Segal movies - his Sensurround™ enhanced, quasi-disaster film Rollercoaster (a worn-out cop playing cat-and-mouse with an amusement park bomber played by future George W. Bush look-alike Timothy Bottoms) and Fun With Dick And Jane, the broad satire of the middle-class seventies American dream (written by Mordecai Richler) with Jane Fonda and Ed McMahon (sic). Segal was as much of a ubiquitous male lead in seventies American cinema as Donald Sutherland or Elliott Gould (Segal was even in Altman's California Split), but his skill with both comedy and drama may have led to his eventual marginalization as a leading man as the seventies wound down; that and some bad career decisions (turning down the lead in Blake Edwards' 10, for example) led to a future plucking the banjo on Johnny Carson's couch while promoting TV movies like The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood co-starring Morgan Fairchild (sic). Yes, it had come to this.

Roulette is an British-Canadian co-production apparently loaded with quirks and stuffed with weird casting, including Denholm Elliott as a 'greasy informant' as one review has it, and Louise Fletcher, just off her Oscar-winning role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, in a bit part as a telephone operator. Plus a rooftop climax involving high-powered sniper rifles, helicopters and a seventies Vancouver skyline - damn, this thing has got to pay off!

This might wet your whistle for international intrigue involving George Segal before you track Roulette down - the stylish trailer for the trippy 1966 cold war thriller The Quiller Memorandum - directed by Michael (Logan's Run) Anderson!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Forever Charlotte

Trailer/music video for the movie/song Charlotte For Ever... you might need to go lie down after you see this one.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A note for my Argentinian readers...

According to my Sitemeter and Clustrmap statistics, I have a very high readership in Buenos Aires. For those porteños who are not merely googling the winning Telekino lottery numbers, it just so happens I will be visiting your fair metropolis from November 30th until December 11th. It would be a pleasure to meet some swell people who dig the blog and are into doing stuff, if there are such people. Your city seems amazing!

Is it true that there's a club night in town named after Slavoj Žižek? Are there incredible record shops and vintage clothing stores where I can get 70's t-shirts? Can we go to the movies? Where do the cool brainiacs hang out? I would love to know. I'm Canadian so I only have a grasp of written Spanish and can barely speak it, just so you know...

Anyway, I've thrown it out there.





Monday, October 15, 2007

The Reminder

I like Feist and all, don't get me wrong, but this is part of what I like about her - she wants to be Françoise Hardy. This is the insanely catchy 'Tamalou' from 1981. Go put it on your iPod Nano.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Model Shop

No, it's not a dream - from Francoise Hardy's 1965 TV special:

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alle Die Jungen und Die Mädchen

'Peter und Lou', von Françoise Hardy: Du kannst denken, daß es vertraut schaut, obwohl du es durch ein anderes namens kennen kannst…

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jackie Rogers, Sr.

Topping 'Eloise' is like topping 'MacArthur Park', but you can't fault Barry Ryan for trying...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't Say Anything

French Pop Wednesdays can always find time for a little more Anna...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Breakfast at TIFF

I have been busy of late with my responsibilities for the Toronto International Film Festival but now it's underway and I can start making plans for seeing some films.

I tend to see niche films during the Festival - for instance last year I barely saw anything except for Zizek's three-parter The Pervert's Guide To Cinema and the Open Vault restoration of Peter Pearson's Paperback Hero from 1973. I have a slightly longer "to do" list this year.

Tonight it's Peter Bogdanovich introducing La Grande Illusion by Renoir, which I've never seen. (I will have a drink out of a flask everytime Bogdanovich says "Orson" in his opening remarks.) Next will be Ken Loach introducing the Czech New Wave film Closely Watched Trains - another hole in my education filled. I'm hoping The Diving Bell and The Butterfly will be as good as I would expect from a Julian Schnabel film starring Mathieu Amalric... I don't think I've ever been inside Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre, certainly not to watch a film (though I did go to the Elgin in the seventies when it was a double-bill house!) so what better way to christen the place in my brain than with the latest Johnnie To action film from Hong Kong, Mad Detective? And then of course Donnie Yen in Flash Point at Midnight Madness the next evening... and I'm very much looking forward to seeing Redacted - a lot of people forget that De Palma was a bit Godard-y when he started out and this film looks to reconcile his political engagement with his technical mastery...as long as it's not Natural Born Killers 2.

Still have to pick a documentary, though it won't be Nathan Barley in Baghdad.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vanilla Fudge and The Supremes

This would qualify as Bringing It On...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Misono

Commercials for Misono, a mind-boggling restaurant/entertainment complex in Osaka that only closed its doors earlier this year. These ads were from the 70's. I've looked everywhere for some more information on this incredible place...especially what it was like in the final days; did Misono hang on to its Kubrickian splendour to the end?

French Pop Wednesdays Goes To Japan



Monday, August 06, 2007

Lee Hazlewood: 1929 - 2007

Another one of my heroes clocks out... haul out your copy of 'Cowboy In Sweden'...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman: 1918 - 2007


Trailer for Last House on the Left (1972) - Wes Craven's (implausible but true!) remake of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring!

Best I could do on short notice.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Frei Luft Kino

Colin's throwing his annual summertime backyard movie night tonight, and I'll be going for the first time... tonight's twin bill is Robert Mitchum in The Yakuza and (in a last-minute replacement for Barbarella) Monica Vitti and Terence Stamp in Modesty Blaise. Ahh, watching Sydney Pollack and Joseph Losey films under the stars, plus short subjects and a reel of 70's commercials and trailers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Nein. Es ist für mich."

Sad news for those who liked The Lives of Others as much as I did - Ulrich Mühe, the German stage actor who played the Stasi surveillance agent in the film, just died of stomach cancer... he won the European Film Award for Best Actor for his work here.

I've Recovered My Dog

Good news, French Pop Wednesday fans - France Gall got her lost dog back...I'm trying to find the video where she informs everyone that it went missing...

Two Inmates Brawl Over Woody Allen!

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel...
"According to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, the fight began about 5:30 p.m. July 9 during mealtime when James F. Lala, 31, of Grafton asked fellow inmate Corey T. Wilson, 36, of Menomonee Falls what he thought of Allen's marriage in 1997 to Soon-Yi Previn, an adopted daughter of Allen's longtime companion, Mia Farrow.

"Wilson told Lala that he thought that was perverted," the complaint says. "Wilson stated he continued to eat his meal when Lala came up to him and punched him in the face," and the two began to fight.

The fight lasted several minutes, with other inmates looking on until deputies restrained the two men with the help of pepper spray."
Okay, bring on the punchlines...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No Static At All

Speaking of Yacht Rock...the trailer for FM (1978)! Love the K-Tel outro.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I Don't Think I'm In Kansas Anymore

Movie files found while on an innocent trawl through Limewire, looking for Yacht Rock clips...no luck (damn you, Michael McDonald's lawyer) but the titles found instead are amazingular.
A Yacht
Mature Suck and Fuck At Yacht
Movies Showing A Slut Fucked In A Yacht
Prurient Slut Riding Man Wild On Yacht
Mature Babe Gets Assfucked On Yacht
On Yacht Movie
Many Wild Coitions On Yacht

Bonds Goes Electric

Sometime in the next few days, Barry Bonds will knock 3 more out of the park and become baseball's all-time Home Run leader, the latest milestone for one of the greatest players in the history of the game... but I expect there will be no joy in Mudville when the record falls. Major League Baseball is trying to turn him into Jonathan E in Rollerball - a solitary player who thinks he's better than the game, pursuing a selfish personal goal that will actually bring disgrace to the sport unless the event is diminished or condemned...so says the establishment...

You see, Bonds is juiced - he's been playing the last few years in a state of steroidal animation, as if the steroids themselves had been doing all the hitting. We can't be sending messages to kids that there are shortcuts to excellence. Plus he's a jerk - unlike the heroic, dignified path Henry Aaron took to take the Home Run King title away from Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds is doing this for Barry Bonds, in the culmination of his endless ego-trip of a career. No wonder the commissioner of baseball won't even commit to being there when the record falls - Hank Aaron certainly won't be there; another example of his quiet dignity.

First of all, why do people have to focus on the 'dignity' of Aaron so much when they only bring it up to contrast what a pig Bonds supposedly is? What kind of compliment is that? And while we're insulting Aaron, how do we know he wasn't taking amphetamines and stimulants back in the day just like every other seventies ballplayer was?

Bonds is as much of a uncooperative jerk in an interview as Bob Dylan ever was - check out No Direction Home to get more of a sense of the truly pedantic questions that came at Dylan hot and heavy, with actual answers expected ("How many protest singers are there?"); you can totally empathize with Dylan's tired, exhausted answers ("136...or 142.") that lent to his 'surly' reputation. Have you ever seen a picture of a typical Bonds press scrum? He looks cornered by a tightly-packed semi-circle of camera lenses and microphones; no wonder sarcastic comments get made...plus when you get a rep for being a prick, the questions that come at you seemed tailored to bring out the prick...Bonds' fault for playing along, but I've been more routinely horrified by recent players like John Rocker than by Bonds.

Oh yeah, and a few years ago when Mark McGwire was chasing the single-season HR title with those giant ham arms, no one was grousing about how he was cheating the whole time - and if they were, they didn't much hold it against him. And McGwire eventually took the fifth when Congress came around to asking him. Bonds hasn't even been charged with anything yet...

If Bonds was taking steroids that's because everyone was...you might as well put an asterisk next to the last ten World Series results and any other records that went down in all this time if you want to discredit Bonds' achievements by these lofty standards of purity.

Too bad Wesley Snipes already played Bonds in Tony Scott's The Fan because he'd be perfect to star in the muckraking Michael Mann version of the story we should all be praying for right now. Fine - get Jamie Foxx.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brinksmanship

The big news in Toronto yesterday was the startling announcement from City Hall that, as a result of a tax vote in City Council being put off until after the Provincial Elections in the fall, severe budget cuts would have to be made immediately. The first announcement was that the Toronto Transit Commission would scale operations back drastically, revealing plans for the imminent cancellation of 29 bus routes (mostly ones that are primarily used by senior citizens as far as the downtown routes go - the Avenue Road bus, the Davenport bus) and most notably, the mothballing of the only six-year-old Sheppard Subway, which is apparently used by only 45 people a day. The talk is to close it down in January.

This is exciting news for future Toronto urban explorers - wait till the suburban indie rock kids of 2065 discover there is a secret subway system leading halfway to the Scarborough Town Centre (by that point a maximum security prison) - they will probably bust in through a set of double doors nearby Bessarion Station and run up and down the cobwebbed platforms and darkened tunnels.

If the TTC is really that hell-bent to save money, they should consider pulling the plug on the unnecessary remodeling of several of the stations on the University Line. Nothing wrong with the beige-tiled sixties public washroom vibe of Museum Station as it stands now, but they have already begun the work to bring the platform design into the nineties: Next on the renovations block is this headache inducer - St. Patrick Station, soon to be renamed Art Gallery!
It's almost as if they're trying to get people to not use the University Line either...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dents De Lait, Dents De Loup

The one-off TV variety special Dents De Lait, Dents De Loup (Milk Teeth, Wolf's Teeth) looks like the T.A.M.I Show of French Pop - another genre-defining masterpiece by the genius Pierre "Anna" Koralnik. This special stars not only Serge, but also France Gall (singing his already leering 'Les Sucettes'), Françoise Hardy (in a silver lamé biker jacket) and Marianne Faithful (speaking of biker jackets). Oh, and The Walker Brothers. It seems to be a musical retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a disco designed by Marshall McLuhan.

Jesus Christ, is this not the best opening to a TV special you've ever seen?









Hey, France! America put out a 3-disc edition of Elvis' 68 Comeback special - ou est le Dents De Lait DVD?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Here, My Gere

Richard Gere: not one of my favourite actors, I'm afraid. We were talking about him a while ago when he was touring India telling truckers to use condoms to prevent AIDS. A friend of mine said "When has he ever been good in a movie?" which led forth the litany of Planet Normal classics such as Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and An Officer and a Gentleman, ego trips like Red Corner (the ultimate Rice King film, by the way) and him running around in diapers in King David, interchangeable mock-Euro pretty-people-love-triangle melodramas like Intersection and Unfaithful, his Belfast Lucky Charms accent in The Jackal...

But he's been very good a couple of times. The movie that made the best use of him in his tousle-haired Soloflex Adonis prime was Jim McBride's Breathless - the 80's reverse polarity remake of Godard's A Bout De Souffle. They had a field day mocking this film at the time, but have you seen it lately? It's right up there with Miami Vice, Scarface and To Live and Die in L.A. in terms of oozing top notch Trashy Eighties Chic (with production design by Richard Sylbert no less!); it's a film as emblematic of its era as the original, in retrospect (McBride also directed another now-obscure but excellent genre-bender: 1967's David Holzman's Diary). Gere is a very compelling hustler, a dim sociopath here for a good time but not a long time, as they say...and the chemistry he has with the young French actress Valerie Kaprisky is what we go to the movies for...at least that's how I felt when I saw it as a teenager (it didn't hurt on some subconscious level that Kaprisky kept cooing the name 'Jesse'). MGM dumped it out on DVD in a full-frame transfer some time ago and it deserves a proper reappraisal, as I'm sure it has achieved in France...

Gere's other great performance is in Mike Figgis' Internal Affairs (1990) as another psychopath, this one operating under the guise of authority as a cop who presides over an incredible syndicate of hidden corruption. He's a sleazy manipulator in the film, his potency confirmed by his brood of children sired by different women who all form a sprawling suburban coven clearly under his implicit control, like pretty much every other person who gets near him. He throws off an investigation by Andy Garcia's dogged cop by driving him crazy with quite plausible insinuations he's screwing his wife, manipulating Garcia right down Othello Road. Even the sight of Gere's smirky good looks perceptibly going to seed just deepens the portrayal of moral rot on display here. The end of the film reeks of a reshoot, but whenever it's on TV I tune in to watch most of it...

He wasn't bad as the showoffy attorney in Primal Fear which is one of those "Sort of want to see this, but why should I rent this film when it will be the NBC Sunday Night Movie a couple of years from now for free?" films - Norton's performance is the one people remember but Gere was pretty good too. He was fine in Days of Heaven as well. Haven't actually seen American Gigolo but probably should. And when's Looking For Mr. Goodbar coming out on DVD?

Black to Fade



Headline of The Globe and Mail's 'Report on Business' section today:
'Black Found Guilty of Obstruction And Could Spend 35 Years in Prison'

Headline of Financial Post's section today:
'Black Guilty of Some Fraud Charges'

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Comme Un Boomerang

Still missing Jean-Claude Brialy - here's another highlight from my beloved Anna... but unlike a boomerang, he's not coming back.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gitanes, Moi Non Plus

Ahh, Serge Gainsbourg, ignoring beautiful women once again; not even Françoise Hardy singing one of his songs on throw pillows in a mini-soundstage can rouse him from his Gitanes-tinted, scotch-fueled haze.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Zombie Boy Stickhandles Media Interloper



"Never answer the question asked of you. Answer the question you wish you'd been asked." - Robert McNamara

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hefner by Ratner

They are finally starting production on a film about the life and times of Hugh Hefner. Unfortunately the screenplay was approved by Hefner himself, so I imagine it will be pure hagiography. In which case, the guy they got to direct is the ideal man for the job - Brett Ratner. He's the modern embodiment of the Playboy philosophy - a supposedly straight-edge party animal who mostly directs undistinguished franchise entries (The Rush Hour series, Red Dragon, X3) when not closing down clubs and living with Robert Evans. There was a big piece in 'Vanity Fair' a few issues ago about Ratner. Everyone in the article swearing that someday he would make an important, award-worthy film - if that's true, then here's his big opportunity. I would have preferred the Oliver Stone or Brian DePalma version of Playboy: The Motion Picture, but alas...

So who should Ratner cast? Hefner is kind of like a James Bond figure for introverted American males of all ages. He's living the dream. Who best to embody this dream? The rumours involve DiCaprio but that's too easy, and not quite right. My shortlist would be Jake Gyllenhaal, Ashton Kutcher, and Topher Grace. Maybe Aaron Eckhart?

I want Robert Downey Jr. to play Bob Guccione, Scarlett Johansson as Dorothy Stratten (if Ratner goes there) and Mickey Rourke as LeRoy Neiman.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Apartheid Adverts

A fascinating series of tv commercials from South Africa during the dying days of white control.






(I salute ye, Briantw!)

Guess I'm Dumb

Here's an interesting footnote to musical history - Glen Campbell in 1965 on 'Hullaballoo' or some such Teen Beat show, performing an exquisite piece of pop melancholia from Brian Wilson, "Guess I'm Dumb" - surely it wasn't a hit, but it was a very telling preview of the Pet Sounds approach to subject matter and production that would come along months later and change the game. Never heard this song until today.


(Thanks for the tip, Mr. Thorner...)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Serge On The Ledge

After the preamble, a trippy minimalist music video for Serge Gainsbourg's 'New York USA' from his Afro-Cuban phase of the early sixties.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Night Walk

Back in the eighties, the Global Television Network had an ingenious idea to run 24 hour programming that wasn't an all-night Christian call-in show or a series of infomercials (that would come later), while also saving money on syndication acquisitions. They ran a three hour block of programs called Night Walk, Night Ride and Night Moves - super smooth Clint Eastwood-end-credits jazz (but Canadian! Featuring Guido Basso!) playing over steadicam footage of the empty Toronto streets. When we all saw it for the first time we were at a party - we were convinced it was airing live and were trying to pinpoint their coordinates and general direction so as to jump in a cab and intercept the broadcast.

Night Moves
was by my recall the more experimental of the three but only visually; sometimes there they would show the footage in slow motion or backwards. Either that or I was hammered every time I came home and flipped it on.

There was only one episode of each and Global ran them all night every night well into the nineties. To see it again now is to get even more bitter about the continuing Fifth-Elementization of downtown. We had it good....

This clip contains primo footage of record store row on Yonge Street.

Friday, June 08, 2007

There's A Rainbow In Toronto..

It's not Goin' Down The Road, but it's pretty close. Presenting Sam's in all its glory, as seen on SCTV!

Bonus beats: The RIO!

Four Point Oh

Here's an indicator that America has a tainted international rep that Hollywood has to tip-toe around sometimes - Live Free or Die Hard will be known around the world as Die Hard 4.0. To me it would have been a techno-savvy title if they had made the film in 1998. Now it sounds like a bit like a Windows 3.1 upgrade. If they want to keep going with this nineties chic thing they can call the next one Die Hard 5.com!

This one wasn't directed by a madman like John McTiernan or Renny Harlin - it's from Len (Underpants) Wiseman, so that takes away a great deal of what dwindling anticipation I would have about a new Die Hard installment. The first film was sensational entertainment but the sequels have been successive letdowns. And Bruce Willis waited almost as long as the Crocodile Dundee guy to make a followup...the trailer makes it look like a high-budget episode of 24. Of course I'm going to see it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Espressos and Pinball

In memory of Jean-Claude Brialy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Star Wars is 30

One of the best movie going experiences of my life was in 1986 when I went with friends to the mighty University theatre to watch a 70 mm triple bill of the Star Wars trilogy. To be able to watch the whole thing in a seven hour stretch on a massive scale in a movie palace...

When Attack of the Clones came out, I saw it in similar optimum conditions, at Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, in state-of-the-art digital projection. When the film was over it was like being released from eye-and-ear jail. I literally had to hustle down to the washroom to rinse the sting out of my eyes. I would say this would be the main comment one can make about the modern trilogy; can you imagine sitting down and watching the whole thing in one shot?

I didn't like much about the new trilogy - there was a part in The Phantom Menace where repair droids were being picked off the wings of escaping fightercraft like tin cans that had the exact zip of what's good about these films but that was only one moment. They lost me when they had that chariot race with sportscaster commentary. It depressed me to think the Star Wars universe had ESPN. And the second film had a fucking fifties diner in it - Lucas referencing American Graffiti no doubt, but the first thing I thought of was Wowsville from Ghost World. The third film was actually the place where they should have started the trilogy. But the problem with all three, beyond the fact that they take the mythology of the original films so seriously, is that they are each basically inert - soundstage-bound actors reading ponderous dialogue in front of greenscreens later to be filled in with Maxfield Parrish futureworlds. During the third film especially I would often tune out from the blather about trade tariffs and start following the paths of the little spaceships cruising through the negative space on the screen.

They've done a crap job with the original trilogy on DVD - Lucas digitally messed with them to line them up with the modern trilogy - right down to sticking Hayden Christensen next to Alec Guinness at the end of Return of the Jedi. If you want the original versions you can get them as 'bonus discs' in the messed-with versions, mastered for laserdisc in the early nineties and in a non-anamorphic state. When he acknowledges their place in film history and quits this perverse attitude towards his provenance I would pick them up - and he would get bonus points if he threw in a remastered copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special.



Favourite Characters
Han Solo - though when I saw the films again as an adult he seemed like a jock from Chicago who bullied Princess Leia into falling for him. And he was never the same after being frozen.
Lobot - whenever I see a bald guy with a bluetooth on I think of him.
Boba Fett - though I liked him better when he didn't have a Kiwi accent (Lucas had him redubbed in the special editions with the guy who played his dad in Clones).
Lando Calrissian - the black Armenian.
Darth Vader - he knew how to make an entrance.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's Called "Bringing It On"

Perhaps you've heard of it?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Stop The War

Even Hungarian rappers are speaking out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Back When Canada Was Cool

Dear Montreal:

Why didn't you keep the Expo 67 site going as it was? It would have been like Disneyland for the international Wallpaper* /Sharper Image demographic. A place for Daniel Liebskind to take the kids. Imagine all the lofty condo spaces the city could have developed around this vacation spot, on the waterfront. What's Moshe Safdie up to these days? You should give him a call.

Your friend,
Jesse


100 Numbers



(thanks, Hubert)

La 5ème Dimension

"C'est notre fête aujourd'hui." - Renée Claude.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Evoluon

The Dutch had the right idea in 1969...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pandora the Explorer

Another thing I will miss is Pandora.com, the amazing internet radio service where you could fashion entire playlists of music attuned to your specified tastes. Music mapped out like DNA and sent to you in optimized combinations for your Gladiator-esque thumbs up/down - further mapping the DNA. A fascinating listening experience which sent me in the last few months on new musical obsessions, triggered mostly by combinations of taste and chance.

I found the best way to tune the station to my taste was to only weigh in on what song came my way if it was a thumbs-down. The more you say you like, the fuzzier the selections started getting in the long-run. If I liked it, I remained neutral. Fine-tuning a station's parameters was sometimes like caring for a musical tamagotchi.

I became strangely fascinated in the random yacht rock that came down the pipes when I built a station around Eddie Money's 'Two Tickets To Paradise' - triggering a previously unimaginable interest in Kim Carnes' post-'Bette Davis Eyes' career (the tracks off 1983's 'Cafe Racers' are begging to be on a Grand Theft Auto radio). A station built around a Jobim song called 'Surfboard' introduced me to new veins of Brazilian jazz and MPB. I made a trashy metal station that kept churning up choice power ballads that made me need to know "Who the hell is this?" - the answer was almost always Dokken. And I overdosed on Spanish Reggaeton.

But most hazardous to my financial health and well-being was my heroic exposure to/fixation with what I call Dandy Rock! I built a whole station around it - called 'Dandy'!

To be a Dandy Rocker you have to be a sixties teen idol who shuns the screams of his fans to take refuge in his mansion, his Cucumber Castle if you will, where a reading room awaits supplied with bricks of hash and 17th century
nautical maps for when inspiration strikes. Found all sorts of great music this way. Amazing b-sides from the pre-'Odessa' Bee Gees, the fantastic Barry Ryan (the only rock star to go on the record as saying he was chiefly inspired by Richard Harris), Kevin Ayers (who put out an over-the-top baroque rock album called 'Joy of a Toy') and the granddaddy of them all, Scott Walker (which has in turn spun off a renewed interest in David Bowie - in particular HIS Anthony Newley fixation early on - talk about dandy rock!)

Anyway, the RIAA has imposed boa-constrictor-like rulings and fees on these internet services, and they've been bleeding money ever since. They cut off service to most of the world recently; today the taps to Canada shut off. And just when I had started buying music again!





Flies Like A Metaphor...

"My greatest competition is, well, me . . . I'm the Ali of today. I'm the Marvin Gaye of today. I'm the Bob Marley of today. I'm the Martin Luther King, or all the other greats that have come before us. And a lot of people are starting to realize that now." - R. Kelly


(thanks, Tim....)

Monday, May 14, 2007

They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?

Tomorrow night I begin living in a post-Gilmore Girls era.

Yes, they are cancelling my favourite TV show. Gilmore Girls, the best show you never watched or assumed you wouldn't like, is going off the air after seven seasons tomorrow evening.

Being a man and saying you watch Gilmore Girls (to say nothing of having box sets) is kind of announcing that you have enrolled in a jazzercise class. Uncool. This was supposedly a TV show for teenage girls but it was actually a secret world for arcane pop-culture enthusiasts. The mother-daughter team once worried out loud that they would share the same fate as the Bouvier ladies from the Maysles' brothers' documentary Grey Gardens! A whole episode revolved around a marathon dance-off, just like They Shoot Horses, Don't They?



The scripts for every episode were about 20 pages longer than the standard for episodic TV drama - all because of the rapid-fire dialogue. And it took place in an incredibly detailed fictional hamlet in Connecticut, built on the Warner Bros backlot in Burbank where they used to film The Dukes of Hazzard and populated by characters out of a Preston Sturges film.

I did not get in on the ground floor on the show, though I was encouraged to do so, probably judging it by what it seemed to be and by its syrupy opening titles. I got into it when it hit syndication. It is not my usual practice to well up while watching television, let alone a comedy-drama series, but this show floored me several times over the years with its keen portrayal of class, feminism and the war between the generations. Some of the arguments between parents and children (and grandchildren) on the show were scorchers, like a fight out of an Arnaud Desplechin film. It amazed me that no one was devoting the time to praising the writing and performances on Gilmore as they were to, oh, The West Wing or The Sopranos. Maybe they will someday.

Friday, May 11, 2007

One Two Three

I have a soft spot for
a) films that take place in the subway
b) heist pictures
c) seventies films about New York City
d) films where Robert Shaw is up to no good
e) movies with David Shire soundtracks (All The President's Men, The Conversation, Zodiac)
f) movies where Walter Matthau comes to the rescue
Here's the trailer for a film that has it all - The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Take A Letter, Sylvie

Address it to French Pop Wednesdays...

Storm Field

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Grasshopper






"Today's child sheds no tears, has no regrets, knows no tomorrows. Today's child is Christine."








Last night I finally got a chance to see one of my cinematic Great White Whales; The Grasshopper, from 1970, with Jacqueline Bisset as Christine, a beautiful 19-year-old (from British Columbia!) who heads down to Los Angeles for love but who winds up a burned out Las Vegas prostitute at age 22.

It's like a clueless Hollywood version of Midnight Cowboy (Midnight Cowgirl?), with amazing dialogue written by Jerry (Smile) Belson and the one and only Garry Marshall (which may explain why practically every man in the film talks like Garry Marshall) that tries desperately to be "with-it", documentary footage that almost seems like the filmmakers were denied permits to film their own movie (several Vegas showgirl numbers are covered from afar and at bad angles that must have been deliberately so), and bursts of montage, several of them breathtaking. The storytelling towards the end mirrors the unraveling state of the protagonist's mind, rendered in dissolves and blackouts that increase in intensity with every bad decision she takes. By the end, when she hijacks a biplane and forces the pilot to write obscenities in the sky, you almost have to pinch yourself that you haven't fallen asleep and are now having a nightmare about the movie.

The resemblance to Verhoeven's Showgirls is uncanny, right down to a shocking rape sequence that comes out of nowhere and is guaranteed to bring the most rollicking room to a sickened hush.

So Warner Brothers, how come a movie featuring a young Jacqueline Bisset in various states of undress, written by the director of Pretty Woman, isn't on DVD yet, not even as a curiosity piece? You own the rights.

I'd buy one!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Lynch on 9/11

I saw Mulholland Drive on September 10th, 2001, at the Film Festival, which perhaps left me better prepared than most for the events of the following day...

From a Dutch documentary, here's the pompadoured chainsmoker himself with his insights on the attacks, courtesy of Colin's Lynch-A-Thon on the Popcorn blog, and I would also like to take this moment to publicly congratulate him on bringing Inland Empire to Canada - can't wait to see it for myself.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Morricone Goes Pop!

This is a clash of the titans! Which of these singers can belt out the best version of what must be an incredibly difficult song to sing: Ennio Morricone's epic 'Se Telefonando'?

I quite like this version by Iva Zanicchi I just stumbled upon in the interwoods. She is bringing it here, but it's a clear challenge for her.


Françoise Hardy does a very nice, more Phil Spector-ish version called 'Je Changerais D'Avis' - it was this version I heard first. Sorry, everyone in love with her - I only have rotting fruit for you this time.


But the best has to be this one - the original, by Mina! I believe Ennio himself orchestrated it.

Biosphere 1967

Wednesday, May 02, 2007