Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I'm not ashamed to admit that I loved the first Saw, written by Leigh Whannell and James Wan and directed by Wan. It was creepy, original and as I've often noted, one of the few modern horror movies that actually caught me off guard with its surprising twist ending. It may have spawned a series of increasingly lame sequels (and the exploitable "torture porn" movement), but the original film is actually quite good and well-deserving of the buzz it created at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

As is Whannell and Wan's underrated follow-up, Dead Silence. An original and creepy take on the evil ventriloquist trope starring "True Blood" alum Ryan Kwanten and "24" regular Bob Gunton, Dead Silence may well be lacking when it comes to comprehensive story-telling, but it manages to provide some genuinely creepy, atmospheric moments. And it features another twist that I didn't anticipate on my first viewing.

Wan would go on to direct the abysmal 2007 revenge thriller Death Sentence starring Kevin Bacon, while Whannell most recently voiced a character in Zack Snyder's 2010 CGI owl movie Legends of the Guardians.

Now, they've teamed up again for the possession-themed Insidious, about a young boy who has fallen into coma and his parents' attempts to rescue him from a supernatural realm. Starring Rose Byrne ("Damages;" 28 Weeks Later); Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) and Barbara Hershey (Black Swan); Insidious  is currently boasting a whopping 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is exceptionally high for a Horror movie. While the universally bad reviews for Sucker Punch have convinced me to delay spending my hard-earned cash to see it (though D still wants to), I will have no qualms plunking down $11.00 for Insidious. Wan and Whannell have yet to disappoint me when they work together and with this cast, I can only imagine a grand time at my local multiplex.


More, anon.

A Freudian Field Day

As promised...

Before I start telling you about this dream, I feel I have to let you in on some of the particulars of my waking life. First, I live in Bucks County, PA; also home to a certain bad filmmaker who shall remain nameless for now. Second, I have a deep love of theme parks, amusement parks, carnivals and church fairs. Third, I also have a fascination for abandoned places, particularly abandoned theme parks. And fourth, I have already talked about my proficiency for theatrical makeup. That's all you need to know to get where this particular dream may be coming from.

So... I dreamt that I had been asked to look at some makeups for an upcoming movie. Some friends (people I'd never seen before, but in the way of dreams, I knew) and I were ushered into a room filled with actors who were sporting half-completed clown makeups. Once we had chosen our favorites, we were then invited to watch the filming of a scene from a new movie about a haunted theme-park (a screenplay idea that's been percolating in my head for some tie, now).

As my 'friends' and I arrive on set, we quickly realize who the director is and I quip that said director "...couldn't make a good movie if Hitchcock was whispering in his ear throughout the shoot." Of course, by the third time I've uttered this phrase, said director is standing in front of me, glaring angrily at me. He looks away and calls "Action."

Amusement rides start up; neon lights flash and people scream in delight. But something is wrong. Screams of delight turn to screams of fear as gondolas begin to fly off of Ferris Wheels; rollercoasters careen out of control and actors are actually killed. I turn to the director and start to scream at him to cut, but he merely laughs and says "Aren't you scared?" It was then that I woke up; angry, scared and just a little out-of-breath.

So, what does it all mean? I'm not sure. In full disclosure, I've been dreaming about insanely dangerous rollercoasters for much of my life. Usually, I am in line for such a ride, but never actually get on. And in real life, I adore coasters. I once spent a vacation with a friend riding as many coasters along the East Coast as we could find. I awoke from this dream with a feeling of dread, but fascinated all the same.

So, is Uncle P completely insane? Does my inability to ride these potentially deadly dream coasters have some significance? Or is my waking life simply intruding on my subconscious? I remain confused...

Next time, we'll talk about the Murderous Mummy dream from last night...

More, anon.

PS - I've actually ridden the coaster featured in the above clip, Universal Studios' "Incredible Hulk Coaster." It's awesome!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

And So It Begins, Again

I know the JTMF summer show is right around the corner when our brilliant graphic designer, Brian Valachovic presents us with his always amazing poster. And this year's is no exception. Brian designed our gorgeously simple posters for The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and Sordid Lives.

Brian always manages to capture the show's essence in his posters and this year's poster carries on the tradition of excellence we've come to appreciate so very much. The scissors, the gun, the hot pink legs and the sploogy/bloody comma are all perfectly in tune with the show and what it's about. For those unfamiliar, Die Mommie Die! is Charles Busch's parody of soapy 1960's thrillers, most notably the 1964 Bette Davis movie Dead Ringer, co-starring Peter Lawford and Karl Malden.

Set in 1967 (during the so-called "Summer of Love"), Die Mommie Die! tells the story of former musical star Angela Arden, a has-been from the 40's and 50's who dropped out of the limelight to raise her children Edith (a spoiled Daddy's girl) and Lance (a gay hippie). When her husband, movie producer Sol Sussman dies under mysterious circumstances, Edith and Lance conspire to get the truth out of the woman they think is their mother. Angela's alcoholic maid Bootsie and gigolo Tony Parker also have their suspicions, but it's up to Lance, Edith and a tab of LSD to get to the truth. Inspired insanity from the author of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom; Psycho Beach Party and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Die Mommie Die may well be the funniest and most twisted JTMF production yet.

For newer readers, The James Tolin Memorial Fund is an organization with which I have have been proud to be associated since its inception in 2003. We produce events which feature shows with an LGBT theme to raise money for AIDS, Arts Education and Suicide Prevention charities. Our beneficiaries include The Open Arms Foundation of Hilssborough, NJ: The James Tolin memorial Scholarship at Mercer County Community Collge and The Trevor Project. James was a local actor in NJ and a former Theatrer student at MCCC. Some of our past productions have included Jeffrey; Torch Song Trilogy; The Altruists; Psycho Beach Party; What the Butler Saw and Sordid Lives. Our annual June gala includes a catered reception and silent auction. Last year, we added a Winter Event with our December production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and will present a staged radio version of A Christmas Carol this coming December. Yours truly appeared in our first two productions and has directed every production since, including this one and I will make an appearance as a few characters in A Christmas Carol.

Tickets are now available for Die Mommie Die! at You can also visit our blog (where you can also see a super-scary pic of Uncle P in drag) for updates or join us on Facebook (search "James Tolin Memorial Fund"). You only have three chances to catch the show: June 24th & 25th at 8:00 PM (Silent Auction opens at 7:00) and June 26th at 2:00 PM (does not include reception or Silent Auction). If you are unable to attend (though we would love to see you there), you can always make a safe and secure donation via PayPal at our website,

Here's a little video about who we are, from last year:

Okay - enough shameless plugging for tonight. Join me tomorrow when I let you into the deepest depths of Uncle P's psyche and share one of the strangest dreams I've ever had... (bet you're chomping at the bit to attempt to psychoanalyze this particular psycho... or not. I don't really care, as long as you keep reading).

More, anon.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm Sick to Death of...

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is still over a month away and I am already sick of hearing about it. The impending royal nuptials have absolutely no bearing on my life, yet the media insists on bombarding me with mindless details about it.

I'm not British. My life is completely unaffected by their wedding and frankly, I just don't give a flying crap. Seriously, do you care about this? Does it have any impact on your day-to-day life? I didn't think so.

There are plenty of things I'm sick of seeing on TV these days. Most of them are really bad commercials for products and/or services I don't need; don't want and don't care about. yet there they are, blaring their nonsensical noise about every 15 minutes or so, reminding us that the world these days revolves around mindless consumerism. Infomercials, salacious "infotainment" and pointless gossip are everywhere. That's not to say things like the death of a legend aren't news. But spending hour upon hour covering them seems not only boring, but downright ghoulish.

Of course, the worst offenders are cable channel commercials. Honestly, I just want to smack these people in the face and tell them to go away forever:

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. These kinds of commercials are the very reason I DVR all my favorite Prime Time shows, just to zap past them. Occasionally, someone will produce a funny commercial that catches my eye:

But these are sadly few and far between.

So, what topics, commercials or "news" items are you sick of hearing about? I always love your comments.

More, anon..

All I Ever Wanted

I haven't had a go-away-to-somewhere-warm vacation in almost two years. Repair issues with my house last year kept me from my usually annual trek to visit my sister in Florida. She lives in Largo, just outside Tampa. Not to be confused with Key Largo, Largo is a pleasant suburban community about 15 minutes from Clearwater, 25 minutes from Tampa and 90 minutes or so west of Orlando. It's warm; there are palm trees and ibises; it's rarely in the path of a hurricane and home to one of the people I love the most in the whole world.

I usually go down the first week of  May, right before the JTMF show starts rehearsing. But sister and her hubby are going on a Disney cruise that week, so I had adjust my schedule. Sis, as I may have mentioned, is a self-described "Disney Dork." She and the BIL (Brother-In-Law) have some super Disney deal where they get special discounts and admission and God only knows what else. While I became rather disenchanted with "The Happiest Place on Earth" after an unpleasant experience there in the mid-90's, Sis still adores the place. Personally, I prefer Universal Studios.

Of course, what really matters is that I'm going to be spending 9 glorious days in the Florida sunshine with my sister, the one person who "gets" me more than anyone else in the world. Yes, we were crazy siblings who fought like mad when we were kids. Yes, we have many differences. Still, when we're together her poor, sweet husband and our mother often exchange meaningful glances of "Here they go, again" distress, completely bewildered by things that only Sis and I understand (and often find hilarious). 

Anyway, my trip is about two weeks or so away and as it grows closer, I am getting more and more excited.  Of course, it could just be Sis's promise to make me a zombie cake*... I'm also hoping to visit my favorite work of art, Salvador Dali's "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus" at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, while there. Last time I visited, it had been removed for a Dali film retrospective. I have no idea why this piece speaks to me so. It just does. I can look at it for hours on end and still find things about it that amaze me...

The plane tickets are purchased, the luggage has been dusted off and K has already promised to look after Skye while I'm away. And you have no idea how badly I need this vacation...

*I promise to post pictures...

More, anon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Musical Mayhem

Wow. Talk about wildly disparate topics. Yesterday I'm extolling the virtues of a gross-out Horror short and tonight I'm talking about movie musicals. Does anyone else think I might be just a little bit insane? Good. Glad it's not just me.

So, let's talk about movie musicals, shall we? The last big movie musical hit was Chicago, Rob Marshall's 2002 adaptation of the Kander and Ebb musical about celebrity murderesses. It was the first musical in a very long time to win "Best Picture," and (along with and thanks to Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge) paved the way for the return of the movie musical. Of course, Joel Schumaker's rather boring version of The Phantom of the Opera did little to help the cause...

Now comes word that not one, but two major Broadway musicals may well be making their way to the big screen.

First up, "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy is at the top of the short list of directors being considered for a 3D (damnit!) adaptation of the Stephen Schwartz musical Wicked, based on Gregory Maguire's novel, a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz." Wicked is still one of the hottest tickets on Broadway and features some of Schwartz's best lyrics, ever. The original Broadway cast featured Idina Menzel as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Kristin Chenowith (my much beloved and sorely missed "Pushing Daisies") as Glinda. The latest news has Murphy casting "Glee" star Leah Michelle as Elphaba (very fitting, considering that Menzel played Michelle's birth mother on "Glee" last season). And while the show takes many liberties with Maguire's novel, eschewing much of its political satire for Steampunk aesthetics, I think Murphy is the perfect choice to direct an adaptation of the most successful Broadway musical of the last 10 years.

And now that he's won an Academy Award, director Tom Hooper is being considered to direct the film adaptation of the biggest musical of the late 80's, Les Miserables. I must admit to a certain bias for Les Miz, as it is not just the only musical that can make Uncle P cry every fifteen minutes or so, but my high school theatre director was chosen to help create the amateur version of the show, which premiered at my HS Alma Mater. Of course, casting rumors abound. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean? Leah Michelle (again) as Eponine? Michelle Pfeiffer as Fantine? Jonathan Price as Thenardier? All excellent choices, if you ask me. While mega-producer Cameron Makintosh may be touting the film version as a go, I still have my doubts.

Still, it is my fervent hope that film adaptations of Broadway Musicals will continue to be a trend in the future, if only so that the shows from which they have been adapted can reach audiences which might otherwise not have a chance to experience this uniquely American form of entertainment.

More, anon.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brutal Relax

I found the 15-minute Horror movie Brutal Relax on Bits and Pieces, a site that usually posts humorous jokes, videos and assorted Internet flotsam and jetsam. Blogger Jonco usually keeps it light and occasionally a little naughty (though nothing you'd be ashamed to be caught looking at by your mother). His motto is "We Scour the Web So You Don't Have To."

Every once in a while, Jonco posts something extraordinarily insane. Such is the case with this short Spanish Horror film. Sr Olivares is obviously a disturbed individual who is advised to take a nice relaxing vacation by his doctor, and told to remain calm, no matter what happens. 

Of course, we know that something exceptionally uncalming is about to happen. And boy, does it ever. Influenced by and referencing everything from Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (known as Brain Dead everywhere else but in the U.S.) to Jaws; Blood Beach; Night of the Demons; Humanoids from the Deep and God only knows what else, Brutal Relax is gruesome, disgusting, hilarious and creepy all at once. Directors Adrian Cardona, Rafa Dengra and David Munoz go way over the top in their twisted little tale of Sea-Zombies (?) and dead battery rage. Utilizing some terrific low-budget physical and CGI FX, the team behind this short is now on my radar and I look forward to what they might come with up with given a full budget and 90+ minutes of story-telling time.

Ladies and germs, I give you the best 15-minute Horror movie I've seen in recent memory, Brutal Relax (may be NSFW):

That speaks for itself, don't you think? I know I'll be avoiding beach mud for quite some time...

More, anon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for... Scream 4?

Director Wes Craven's last film, My Soul to Take was a lame mash-up of movies he'd made before, as evidenced by my buddy Pax Romano's recent review over at Billy Loves Stu. Of course, Craven is one of the pioneers of modern horror, having written and/or directed the original versions of The Last House on the Left; The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Craven also helmed the non-horror movies Music of the Heart and Red Eye (the latter being an above-average thriller about terrorists attempting to assassinate the Vice President, starring Rachel McAdams and doe-eyed Cillian Murphy). He also directed the underrated voodoo thriller The Serpent and the Rainbow and the nightmarish The People Under the Stairs, as well as more than few failures like Deadly Friend; A Vampire in Brooklyn and the wretched werewolf movie, Cursed.

In the late 90's, Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson created one of his better franchises with Scream, a movie that deliberately pointed out the conventions of the slasher genre, while turning the genre on its ear. Two sequels followed and after 2000's Scream 3, we all thought we'd seen the last of the many incarnations of 'Ghostface.' Flash forward 11 years and Craven and Williamson are back (along with original cast members Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette) for Scream 4, scheduled for release on April 15th (a day that makes many people scream, though for different reasons). Original target Sidney Prescott (Campbell) has returned to her hometown on the final leg of her self-help book promotion tour, only to find things haven't really changed that much - except perhaps the rules of slasher horror.

Campbell, Cox and Arquette are joined by the next generation of B-list stars which includes Hayden Panattiere ("Heroes"); Emma Roberts; Anthony Anderson; Adam Brody and Rory Culkin. Oh, and film and TV legend Mary McDonnell (Dances with Wolves; "Battlestar Gallactica;" "The Closer: " Donnie Darko) is also on hand.

So, will Craven and Williamson pull off another box-office and critical success? Hard to say. Neither have a great track record of late. Williamson wrote the very silly alien invasion movie The Faculty as well as the script for Craven's abysmal Cursed. And we all now know what was going on with Cox and Arquette while they were making the movie. The trailer is promising... I think. But only time will tell. What do you think? Will Scream 4 (or SCRE4M as it's also known) be a hit or a miss? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. You know how much I love it when you do.

More, anon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Egg On My Face

So, last night I took another website's news as true and posted about Joseph Gordon Levitt's reported role as Alberto "Holiday" Falcone in The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's third (and supposedly final) entry in Warner Batman franchise.

Well, it turns out (according to Entertainment Weekly) that this information was wrong. is reporting that JGL is in fact, not playing Holiday in the upcoming threequel. So, what role might he actually be playing?

Personally, I think Joe would be perfect as The Riddler, but that wouldn't tie up the trilogy in the way Nolan has already expressed he'd like to do. Of course, Marion Cotillard as Talia al Ghul would go a long toward that end. Still, I'm left to wonder what part the talented young Levitt might actually be playing in the film. Robin? Unlikely, considering that Nolan has often expressed his disdain for the character.

Of course, there's Anarky, a child-prodigy intent on over-throwing the government. And Firefly, the pyromaniac orphan. Or any number of villains in the DC pantheon... Personally, I don't really care who he's playing in the film, as long as he's in it. Levitt has been a favorite of mine ever since he made a name for himself as Tommy on the hilarious alien sitcom, "3rd Rock from the Sun" where he held his own amongst the likes of Jane Curtain and the incomparable John Lithgow (who just tonight had a brilliant appearance as Barney's father on CBS' "How I Met Your Mother").

Still, JGL fans shouldn't despair. His latest film Hesher, is scheduled for release later this year:

Hesher co-stars Black Swan's  Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson and Carrie's mom, Piper Laurie. It looks... interesting, if nothing else. I'll probably catch it On Demand. And as soon as I know what role Levitt is actually playing in The Dark Knight Rises, I'll share with all of you.

More, anon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bat News

Word is finally out (via Total Film) on the role that Christopher Nolan has given to the talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises. It seems that former "3rd Rock from the Sun" and Inception star will be playing Alberto Falcone (AKA Holiday), son of Carmine Falcone, who was played by Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins.

No word yet on how large a part Holiday will play in the film, though it makes sense to bring the character into play to tie the trilogy up. Still, many folks are up in arms over how many villains Nolan is loading into his final entry in the franchise. We already know that hottie Tom Hardy will be playing Bane and Ann Hathaway is Catwoman. And there are rumors that Marion Cotillard has been cast as the daughter of Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neesom). And let's not forget that Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow is still on the loose. So that leaves five potential villains for the Dark Knight to contend with... 

And we all know how well multiple villains played out in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. Not that I'm comparing... as much as I love all of Raimi's films, Nolan is by far the better director. Still... 

I imagine all of this will lead to a three+ hour Batman movie. Will movie-goers flock to a LOTR-sized comic book hero movie? Probably. I know I'll be in line for The Dark Knight Rises on opening weekend in July of 2012. Nolan always seems to manage to give me a wonderful birthday gift every two years.

And speaking of movies I can't wait to see, D and I will be seeing Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch next weekend. You can be sure I'll be reviewing it as soon as I get home.

Snyder has proven he can deliver when it comes to amazing visuals with his previous films Dawn of the Dead, 300 and Watchmen. But all of them those were adaptations of material that already existed. I can't wait to see what he has in store with his first completely original film...

More, anon.

The Dumbest Blonde Alive?

That's former SNL cast member Victoria Jackson. In the late 90's, Jackson was the show's resident "Dumb Blonde," much like Goldie Hawn was on "Laugh-In." She was often funny and occasionally hilarious (as in this sketch, "Victoria's Secrets"). She was a cast member during some of SNL's better years, along with the brilliant (and sorely missed) Phil Hartman.
Of course, no one knew at the time that she was certifiably insane...

What makes me say that, you may well ask. Well, let's take a look at some of Victoria's recent activities, shall we?

Among some of the rather inane claims she's made of late: President "Obama is a Communist." Yup, she actually said that. Here's proof:

And that's not the only time she's said that. She actually wrote a 'song' about it:

Now, I always thought she was just playing a character on SNL (just like Goldie did on "Laugh-In"). I thought, "No one can really be that stupid, can they?" Apparently, I was wrong. Because Victoria Jackson is really that stupid, as evidenced by her latest song about Muslims (via):

What!? What!? Really? Muslims want to take down the Statue of Liberty? I... I really don't know how to respond to such idiocy. To make matters worse, Jackson recently wrote an article for the wingnut website WorldNetDaily where she shared this homophobic bit of 'wisdom,' and I am quoting verbatim:

"This new al-Qaida magazine for women has beauty tips and suicide-bomber tips! Gimme a break! That is as ridiculous as two men kissing on the mouth! And I don't care what is politically correct. Everyone knows that two men on a wedding cake is a comedy skit, not an 'alternate lifestyle'! There I said it! Ridiculous!

"Did you see 'Glee' this week? Sickening! And, besides shoving the gay thing down our throats, they made a mockery of Christians – again! I wonder what their agenda is? Hey, producers of 'Glee' – what's your agenda? One-way tolerance?" 

Yes, I deliberately made that quote pink.

I do have a question, though... Victoria, if you find "Glee" so offensive, why are you watching it? Maybe your 'cop' husband finds all the girl-on-girl kissing on "Glee" titillating? You certainly don't seem to have a problem with that. Hmmm... maybe there's a reason you haven't been part of the real Entertainment Industry since you left (or rather, were dumped by) SNL. I suppose your firing had nothing nothing at all to do with your right-wing, lunatic views... 

If Ms Jackson (as do many conservative Christians) has a problem with gay people, there's nothing you or I can do or say to make her think otherwise. All we can do is point out what an imbecile she is and hope that intelligent folks (i.e. anyone who doesn't watch Fox News) know better than to listen to a has-been comedienne who is desperately trying to make herself relevant by aligning herself with the Teaparty morons who think they can impose antiquated views of society on smarter people than themselves.

Look, I'm not saying that everyone has to share my beliefs or opinions, but I am saying that celebrities (relevant or not), have a responsibility to educate themselves before making inane statements and passing judgment on things about which they have no real information. And trust me, Fox News is not real information.  

More, anon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creepy Face Is Creepy

Our old friend Pareidolia is back, with a twisted vengeance. To many people, bugs are creepy enough as it is (though I only really have a problem with houseflies, because they eat feces). Add a creepy, one-eyed, mustachioed cowboy hidden in the folds of their insectoid anatomy, and many folks just lose their sh*t. Like my poor sister did. "I won't sleep for a week," she emailed me in response to my sending her this picture.

The folks at Icanhascheezburger (LOLCats) have an entire blog devoted to this topic, called Happy Chair is Happy. Of course, most of the images there are of inanimate objects, which most rational adults can look at with humor and move on. But when an image such as the one above belongs to a living thing, people tend to freak out a little. Of course, the freak-outs tend to be a little more extreme when the images are perceived to be of a religious or "holy" nature.

I love that so many people can be fooled by these images. We are conditioned from birth to recognize certain things, especially our own mothers' faces. Is it really surprising we should continue to do so throughout the rest of our lives? But knowing the difference between reality and coincidence is what separates the fools from the rationalists. Am I saying that there is a difference between the guy who sees Jesus on a toasted English muffin and the guy who admits that the random pattern of toaster marks might resemble the face of Jesus (as if anyone who didn't live 2011 years ago in Jerusalem would know the difference, anyway)? Yes. Yes, I am.

And while it may be fun and exciting to see Mother Teresa's face in the folds of a cinnamon bun, it's no more important (or miraculous) than recognizing Godzilla in a cloud off the coast of New England or a cowboy on the shoulder of a grasshopper.

More, anon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Gayest Things You'll See This Week

That's Darren Criss, currently the most adorable young man on TV. A very talented vocalist and actor who isn't too hard on the ole peepers, Criss' "Glee" character Blaine is a role model for young gay men who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.

I think it's no secret that I'm a "Gleek." I've pretty much loved the show since it first aired, and I suppose it's because I was a high school Chorus and Drama Club geek, myself. Of course, in those days, small town gay boys were all as closeted as I was and we had no role models to tell us it was okay.

Yes, "Glee" is inconsistent in its writing (as my friend Jonathan is always quick to point out) and certainly unbelievable (as every musical ever made is). But at it's heart, "Glee" is a show about surviving the worst four years of your life with the support and encouragement of like-minded friends who, despite all their differences and personal dramas, manage to come together to produce something bigger than themselves as individuals. It's about the best in ourselves, flying our freak flags and damn everyone and anyone who thinks we're lame.

On last night's episode, Blaine and Kurt (Golden Globe winner Chris Colfer) finally shared their first and second kiss - something we Gleeks have been waiting for almost all season:

Of course, no one jumped and screamed and carried on at my house when Blaine finally kissed Kurt (except maybe in my head), but that doesn't mean other folks didn't. Check out this video (via) of some fans Gleeking out over it:

The episode also included several original songs (a first for the show), the best of which was the song that won New Directions the Regionals, while taking down their arch-enemy, Sue Sylvester (the amazing Jane Lynch) "Loser Like Me":

And in totally unrelated gay news, the Chinese may not be very progressive when it comes to Democracy, but they certainly have no problem when it comes to addressing the sexual safety of it's gay countrymen. I was blown away (no pun intended) when I stumbled across this hilariously cute Chinese condom ad (no translations necessary - may be NSFW):

Wow. There's no denying who that ad is aimed at...

Personally, I view these video clips as progress for both American and Chinese television... The LGBT community is finally starting to be recognized as something other than comedic foils on television. And that's a really, really good thing. More, please.

More, anon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ultimate Slap in the Face

That's an image of the villain "Carnage" from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the $65M Broadway disaster I've been decrying for months.

Last week, the producers fired meglomaniacal director Julie Taymor (though "official" press releases say she will still be part of the show's creative team) and commissioned new songs from Bono and The Edge. They brought in director Phillip William McKinley (The Boy from Oz) and Marvel writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to fix the problems with the show, though at this point, it's probably beyond saving. 

I've said all along that this was a bad idea from the get-go, though a few theatre friends tried to defend it... The show is now scheduled to close for three weeks in order to fix it (though I doubt three weeks is enough  to come up with an entirely new second act) and is now officially scheduled to open June 14th, with previews resuming on May 12th.

While I am always a proponent of new theatricals, I will continue to express my disdain for this ill-conceived project until it closes, which should be sometime in July (sigh). I am always sad to see a show fail, but I honestly can't say I'll be sorry to see this particular show fall by the wayside. Not everything is worth musicalizing and not every idea (no matter how good it may seem at first) should be brought to fruition. Taymor, whose original concept came to her as a dream after 9/11) apparently had no prior knowledge of the Marvel source material, and tried to integrate completely irrelevant Greek mythology into the show. Maybe she should have read a few of the Marvel comics, or at least viewed the Sam Raimi films before attempting to adapt the character for a musical.

If you want to see Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (whatever the hell that title means), I suggest you do so while you can. In the meantime, enjoy this parody from Jimmy Kimmel:

Ouch! Take that, Broadway!

I will always love "The Great Invalid," but sometimes the folks who run it just have to admit when they've been defeated.

More, anon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Too Pooped to Peep

I have no real explanation for my total exhaustion tonight, other than the damned Daylight Savings Time. And by the way - there isn't actually an extra hour of daylight. The day is still pretty evenly divided - it's just our perception being fooled into thinking there's an extra hour... yes, the sun sets later in the spring and summer than in the fall and winter... but still.

That hour just killed me. I spent most of my day plopped on the couch watching bad movies. I actually sat through all of Meet Dave, Eddie Murphy's 2008 Sci-Fi comedy, which was just as bad one would expect (I was especially offended by Pat Kilbane's ridiculously stereotypical gay character). Filled with lame toilet humor and jokes about culture shock we've seen a hundred times before, Meet Dave is probably the worst movie I've seen since Pluto Nash, though I haven't seen Norbit (and have no intentions of doing so).

I could talk about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan (go to The Red Cross' website to donate); the situation in North Africa and the Middle East; the price of gas; the economy in general or any number of other topics... but I just don't want to. 

My warm, cozy bed is calling and I am going to answer.

More, anon,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Invasion of the Bad Invasion Movies

That's ruggedly handsome Aaron Eckhardt in Battle: Los Angeles, which looks, despite a critical drubbing, to be the top-grosser this weekend.

Seriously, what's the deal with Aaron and his face? Is it in his contract that every fourth role has to include facial disfigurement?

I am saddened that the movie hasn't fared well with critics. I was hoping that after the flop made by last year's similarly themed Skyline that Battle: Los Angeles would be the movie that cleansed our palates, so to speak. 

Of course, Skyline  and Battle: Los Angeles aren't the only recent alien invasion movies to blow it. Most recently, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig starred in a new version of Invasion of the Body Sntachers, simply titled The Invasion, which stank to high heaven:

And our old buddy M. Night gave us the almost good Signs, a movie with some terrific performances from both Joaquin Phoenix and (as much as it pains me to say it) Mel Gibson. While I have to admire Shyamalan for getting those performances out his actors, his script leaves much to be desired. Aliens can traverse millions of light years, but can't figure out doorknobs? And aliens who are easily killed by water, try to conquer a planet that is 90% water... ? Please...

Let's not forget everyone's favorite Vatican Assassin, Charlie Sheen as an astrophysicist in 1996's The Arrival, in which reversed-kneed aliens are trying to bio-engineer Earth to suit their own climate needs:

If you've seen an of these movies, then you know what I'm talking about.

So Uncle P got to thinking (always a dangerous thing), "What would make for a truly good alien invasion movie?" And I think I might have an idea... But I need your help. After talking about doing so for so long, I'm finally trying a poll. Now bear in mind: I am 2/3 of the way through a new zombie script on which I seem to have stalled (at least temporarily) and I have a bunch of ideas for other scripts on what I call The List. So I guess I'm asking, what should I work on next?


I look forward to the results.

More, anon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

60 Steampunk Seconds or More

I am hardly a sociologist or psychologist (though basic knowledge of each is most helpful to directors and actors), so I have no real idea why Steampunk has taken hold the way it has. There are conventions and parties and events all over the place and it just amazes me how creative some folks can be when they have time, money and nothing better to do. And that's hardly an insult. Had I those luxuries, I'd probably be right there with you. Hell, I'd probably own my own zeppelin and a fleet of penny farthings...

I'm old... I grew up in the 60's and 70's. It was a weird, weird time and I was a weird, weird kid. I loved reading Jules Verne and HG Welles and watching the movies based on their works. There's a reason "Vernian" shows up so often when talking about Steamheads and their creations.

As a kid, the shirtless Pat Boone was one of my favorite things about this movie... Hmm... whatever could that have meant?  Of course, Pat would probably melt like the Wicked Witch of the West if he ever heard that...

Oh my... Ruggedly handsome Aussie Rod Taylor (The Birds) was hot, wasn't he? But we're talking 
Steampunk, not Steamy Hunks (So, so very sorry about that - sometimes cheese happens - deal with it).

Of course, Verne's and Wells' works have been part of  the movies, almost from the beginning. We've all at least seen clips from Georges Melies' 1902 Le Voyage dans la Lune:

More examples of arguably Steampunk films include:

Anyway, you get the idea. The style isn't new, by any means - it just gained a name. Hell, even ABC's "Castle" recently had a Steampunk episode:

So, how does all this tie together? Well, I'll tell you. I saw this lovely and very amusing little video and had to share it. Please enjoy (via) "Inception - Done in 60 Seconds," a delightful little Steampunk simplification of a movie whose actual "technology" may well be described as "Steampunk," itself:

I'm going to try to attend a Steampunk festival in Massachusetts, later this year. If I make it, I'll be sure to document it.  Everything old is indeed, new again.

More, anon.

Cry Me a River: Part II

Welcome to Part II of Uncle P's Ten Best Tearjerker Movies, Ever (or something). And big double boo-hisses to anyone who doesn't immediately get the movie reference in the picture on your right. Because My Little Pony is the first thing I think of when I hear the name John Waters. Though I hope that both he and Depp own one of these (and I'd bet Waters actually does). 

So, the last time we were here together, I'd gotten from my #10 favorite Tearjerker (a movie my friend Deb thinks is sappy hocum and makes fun of me for loving, 1934's Imitation of Life) to my number six, E.T. Let's move on the Top Five, shall we?

5. Big Fish (2003)
Tim Burton's adaptation of Daniel Wallace's novel, this underrated, gorgeous and hilarious film is about the son of a story-teller coming to terms with his father's life. Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney in a bit of genius casting, play age-different versions of the father, while Billy Crudup is the adult son who has always struggled to rectify real life with his father's stories. Quirky, imaginative and everything that's good about a good Tim Burton movie, Big Fish is probably Burton's last great film...

4. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
I've talked about this film a lot. When first released, it received mostly bad notices from the big critics. I chose it as the Best Film of 2001 and said it was "another Spielberg masterpiece." A lot of critics have come around since then, and given A.I. the praise it so well deserves, ten years after the fact. Too long? Too weird? Too dark? Too deep? No, no, no, no and no. And I hope it's the last time I ever type this: No, the beings at the end of the movie are living machines, not aliens. And cry? Have plenty of tissues, even if you're only half as sappy as I am.

3. Bambi (1942)
Disney's third foray into animated features has one the single most traumatic scenes in the history of "Family" movies. You know what I'm talking about:

I can't talk right now... BRB.

Whew! I can see gain. Sorry about that...

2.Brokeback Mountain (2005)
I did okay with this one, so happy to see a film tell an honest gay story for once. Then I got to the last scene where Ennis (Heath Ledger) goes to Jack's (Jake Gyllenhaal) childhood home and takes out that jacket... Devastating:

And my top Tear Jerker of all time; the movie that makes me cry like a child every damn time I see it..

1.The Green Mile (1999)
Director Frank Darabont is of the few guys in Hollywood who actually gets Stephen King and can translate the humanity in the characters on the page into images and dialog on film. So exceptionally faithful to the novel (originally released in several small publications, like a Dickens serial) and so expertly performed by an amazing cast, The Green Mile had me sobbing from the moment it sets in that they are actually going to have to go through with it. No wonder "The Walking Dead" is such a hit - Darabont knows how to grab you and never let you go. I also highly recommend his two other King adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist.

So, those are the ten movies (of many) most likely to make me cry (or even outright sob) when I see them. What movies make you cry?

More, anon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cry Me a River: Part I

A departure, if you'll allow me.

You already know that Uncle P loves the movie geek's trinity: Horror/Sci-Fi?Fantasy. But know I love all kinds of other movies, too. Comedy, Historical Drama, Suspense/Police Procedural, the very occasional Western, Action-Adventure - all valid genres each with many movies I really, really love.

Now, I have a confession to make. There is a genre I haven't mentioned yet, but you all know exists: The Tearjerker. And you all know there is at least one that gets you every time. Well, I have more than one. Hell, I cried at last night's episode of "Glee" -- of course I have more than one. But it's late, so I'm going to split this list into two posts. And a bit of a warnning - there some MASSIVE spoilers in this post, so if you haven't seen the movie in question, I suggest you skip the entry until you have. So without further ado, here are the bottom half of Prospero's Top Ten Tearjerker's of All Time:

10.  Imitation of Life (1934)
Most people seem more familiar withe 1959 remake starring Lana Turner, but Claudette Colbert has always held a special place in my cinematic heart and her version of the Fanny Farmer novel about an entrepreneurial single mother, her faithful maid/cook and  the maid/cook's light-skinned daughter who runs away, passing herself off as white. When her mother dies (of a broken heart), the daughter realizes too late the error of her ways. The scene where she's clutching the casket in the horse-drawn hearse, crying "Mother! Please forgive me, Mother!" just kills me.

9.Old Yeller (1957)
The bastards at Disney delivered this delightful tale about a brave, faithful dog that contracts rabies and must be shot. Oh, yes. Great family fun, this one.And since everyone would hate me if I put the really sad clip up, here's The Kids in the Hall version:

The late Anthony Minghella directed this fantasy about a love that transcends death, starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson:.

7. The Color Purple (1985)
Steven Spielberg's gorgeous film of Alice Walker's novel may have lost every Oscar for which it was nominated, but it never fails to make cry more than once, every time I see it. Every single performance is a gem here and Spielberg somehow translates Walker's novel into a rich visual and cultural examination of what it means to have self-worth. The scene where Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) is reunited with her sister and her children has my eyes gushing just thinking about it:

Spielberg makes his second of three appearances on this list with his unassuming little movie about a boy who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a decidedly ugly little alien. Who didn't cry when they thought E.T. was dead?

So, tomorrow will see my Top 5 picks. And you shouldn't be embarrassed to cry at a good weepie. I never am...

More, anon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Roulez les tetes coupees!

Well, there are about 40 minutes left of Mardi Gras here in the east... Not that I'm such a huge fan of Mardi Gras... I adore New Orleans, though admit to not having been in many years. But I much prefer Carnival in Venice, Brazil and Argentina. The image on your right is now my desktop wallpaper, by the way - how gay is that? Longtime readers know Uncle P's original profile photo* featured me in green and gold 16th Century Venetian garb, complete with my personal Venetian mask, itself a gift, brought home from Italy by my sweet K.

Anyway, given the gloom and doom and indignant ranting of late, I wanted to talk about silly stuff tonight. And it doesn't get much sillier than Mardis Gras, does it? Beads, booze, boobs and public nudity - sounds like the stuff of dreams, doesn't it? Well, apparently not! I went looking and sure enough found plenty of Mardi Gras themed horror movies you may have missed (at least I hope you have)...

Mardis Gras Massacre (1978):

From what I can tell from IMDb, Mardis Gras Massacre is a no-budget knock-off of schlockmeister General H.G. Lewis' Blood Feast, using Aztec mummies in place of Egyptian ones, set amidst the infamous insanity of the Big Easy during Mardi Gras... I've never seen this movie, nor do I want to...

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995):

The action moves from Chicago to N'awlins in this sequel to Clive Barker's Candyman, itself an adaptation of his Urban Legend novella "The Forbidden." Why the change of venue? All the better to exploit the voodoo themes suggested in the original, I suppose. Or, maybe just to take advantage of all those fabulous Mardi Gras costumes... 

Dracula 2000 (2000):

Wes Craven produced this update of the Dracula meme, which incorporated then current technology with traditional Dracula lore as it has been bastardized over the years. Most interestingly, Dracula 2000 featured a cast of soon-to-bes including Nathan Fillion ("Firefly;" "Castle"), Omar Epps ("House"), Jeri Ryan ("Star Trek: Voyager") and a very sexy, pre-Spartan Gerard Butler in the title role. The screenplay creates an insane (if not uninteresting) connection between Stoker's Carpathian and a particularly reviled Biblical villain, which I suppose should earn points for originality, but in the end, Dracula 2000 is pretty far down on my list ranking movies with "Dracula" in their titles, but pretty high up in the Butler hotness scale.

Hoodoo for Voodoo (2006):

Once again, I have never seen Hoodoo for Voodoo, nor do I ever intend to do so. From what sense I could make of any number of plot summaries I found for this film, it's about a group of college kids trying to avoid a killer at a "Voodoo Tourist Attraction" in New Orleans. What the...?

Autopsy (2009):

I think I was thinking of a different movie when Autopsy showed up in a "Mardi-Gras + Horror Movies" search. But judging from that trailer, it seems to have nothing at all to do with Mardi Gras other than it is set in New Orleans. It also appears to be a total piece of crap.

I hope you had too much to eat and drink today. I hope that all my friends and readers who observe Lent are successful in their sacrifices... I hope some bit of nonsense or other made you smile today. I hope you are looking forward to spring as much as I am. And I hope no bad movies cross your path, unless you want them to.

More, anon.

*I really need a new one of those, too...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Who Would Chuck Norris Hate?

Before I start another rant, I really must apologize for embedding that stupid "motion poster" for Conan, instead of just linking to it. If you haven't figured it out yet, you can turn the audio off by clicking the button at the bottom right corner of the poster. Another couple of posts and it will move into Older Posts and you won't have to bother turning it off, anyway. I promise to not make that mistake again, no matter how amazing the poster is.

Anyway, just when I thought it was safe to return to nonsense as usual, real-life nonsense reared it's ugly head again in the form of none other than ultra-conservative martial artist-turned-actor-turned ridiculous Internet meme, Chuck effing Norris, who has weighed in about the gays. Or should it be "the Gays?" I'm never sure... Anyway, the Bearded One has written an 'article' for Conservative Christian "news" site, WorldNetDaily in which he claims the American education system has been co-opted by the LGBT community and turned into"progressive indoctrination camps."

Now look, no one is really taking the political opinions of Chuck Norris seriously. Well, no one with half a brain, anyway. And as incensed as I initially found myself when I first came across the article on Towleroad, I finally went to the site to read it for myself, and was just slightly more than amused to find that an article on "Education" should contain the following sentence (and I am quoting verbatim, here):

"It is also no surprise that an average of 6,000 students every year is leaving the approximately 94,000 public schools in America."

Really, Chuck? 6,000 students... is leaving...? Seems to me that someone who has no business writing a letter home to Mom, shouldn't be opining on things which are also none of his business. Or maybe you is one of them kids which left school. Either way,

In a show of good faith and since I'm never afraid to admit when I'm wrong, the above passage has been retracted, and replaced with this paragraph. I can't be a pot calling a kettle names... especially when so many  Grammarians agree.

I hope to never visit this post again, but had to restore it after being vindicated by consulting an actual English major. The verb "leaving" refers to the action of the students, not the average  (which is a concept, rather than a person and logically cannot take action) and since "students" is plural, the modifying verb is conjugated in the plural: "6,000 students... are leaving..." 

Had I written the sentence, it would have read: "An average of 6000 students leave our approximately 94,000 public schools each year, but then I'm a douchebag Republican mouthpiece who'll say anything for money. Oh, and I hate queers." That's what I would have written for Chuck Norris' little essay on Education...

But I digress... back to the rest of the original post:

I have some news for you, Mr. Norris...

Society, Mr. Norris, has been progressive since its dawn. If it hadn't been, you'd be a Gladiator instead of pretending to be one. Or you'd be an indentured slave on a trade ship. You certainly wouldn't have been an actor. Nor would you have had the right to voice your backward opinions. Someone smarter and richer would have owned you Mr. Norris, if society hadn't progressed. Now, please go back to making bad movies and shilling exercise equipment, because there are a bunch of really backward people who will think their Redneck uberman actually knows what he's talking about. And that's really scary to the "progressives" who throughout history have only wanted to make life to be better for everyone. "Progress," Mr. Norris, is what allows you to type on a keyboard and transmit your narrow-minded article into the homes of tens of thousands via the Internet. I ask you, sir... without progress, where would you be? My guess is you'd still be cowering in a cave during thunderstorms, certain you'd angered a malevolent god in some way. 

Come out of your cave, Chuck and join the 21st Century. It's not at all what you think you're afraid of...

Okay - enough pontificating. Just to lighten the mood, here are some Dramatic Animals (via), after reading Norris' article:

There... that's better. I promise nonsense, next time.
More, anon.

*This post has been modified twice since it's original publication. Most recently on 3/11/11.