Sunday, July 31, 2011

Speaking of Daniel Craig...

One reason (of several dozen or so) that I love seeing movies in a theater is that they show trailers. And the last two movies I saw were each prefaced by at least 8 trailers - some for movies I really want to see, some for movies I'd rather have a hot poker stuck in my ear than see. Before Cowboys & Aliens last night, I saw two trailers that really got to me. One because I thought it might give too much away and the other... well, we'll get to that in a minute.

The first was for Dream House; starring Craig, his new wife Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts. It's the story of  a family who move into a house where the previous owner had murdered his wife and children. Or did he? 

Craig and Weisz are the couple and Watts is the neighbor who seems to know more than she's letting on.

The problem with the trailer is that it seems to give up too much information. Or does it? I'm sure there's a mystery to be solved, and I hope that we're seeing stuff from the movie's first and second acts only, because it would really suck if not. You tell me:

So what do you think? Too much info? Or is there (hopefully) way more to this story that they aren't showing us? Dream House is scheduled to be released on September 30th of this year.

Now - on to the other trailer that got me riled up. I've never been a fan of movies based on toys (though the opposite holds true of toys based on movies). And before you mouth off - the Toy Story movies don't fall into this category because Pixar invented the star toys for the story and use real-life toys only as supporting characters. I'm talking about movies like the execrable Transformers films. Even worse are movies based on board games. Now I know it has plenty of fans, but I have to say Clue is a terrible movie. The only time I laughed is when the singing telegram girl (played by The Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin) gets shot. But the coming months seem to bursting with board game-inspired movies, the first of which is apparently Battleship:

Liam, no! Still, I guess it's better than two hours of this:

Other board games and toys reportedly scheduled for film adaptations include Monopoly; Ouija and (dear lord!) Stretch Armstrong. Hollywood has truly become the nadir of true creativity. Sorry, I have to stop. I think I'm going to be sick...

More, anon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: "Cowboys & Aliens"

That's Daniel Craig's rather magnificent ass on the poster for director Jon Favreau's latest movie Cowboys & Aliens. Based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Cowboys & Aliens is one of the summer's most anticipated movies.

In 1873 Arizona, Jake Lonergan (Craig) awakes in the desert, shoeless and memory-less, with a strange metal cuff on his left wrist and a bloody wound in his right side. After a quick and violent encounter with a trio of ne'er-do-wells, Jake makes his way to the dying mining town of Absolution, where he's patched up by the local preacher (Clancy Brown) in time for him to save the local innkeeper, Doc (Sam Rockwell) from a dustup with the drunken son (Paul Dano) of the only man in town with any money. When the sheriff (Keith Carradine) arrives, he recognizes Jake from a wanted poster and promptly arrests him, but not before a mysterious young woman (Olivia Wilde) approaches Jake asking about the "bracelet" he's wearing. Learning his son is on the way to prison, rancher Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and his hands ride into town demanding his release. But the brewing showdown is not to be; Jake's cuff starts to beep and light up and the town is suddenly attacked by flying machines that seem to rope people (including Doc's wife and Dolarhyde's son) around their chests and carry them off into the night. Jake also discovers the cuff is a weapon and brings one of the fliers down, releasing a wounded monster into the night. Deciding they need his weapon, Dolrahyde forces Jake to join them in tracking the beast in hopes of recovering the kidnapped townsfolk and the party sets off.

Not being familiar with Rosenberg's original, I had no idea what to expect, though I am a fan of Favreau's. His Iron Man films and the Jumanji follow-up, Zathura were terrific fun, and I hoped that C&A would be, as well. And I am pleased to note that I was not disappointed. Though I was a bit surprised at how much of a Western the movie is, filled with very specific archetypal characters forced by circumstance to work together against forces beyond their comprehension. Happily, Favreau doesn't keep us wondering and gives us a full-on view the aliens early on. The amphibious/insectoid beasties with googly eyes and surprise limbs are creepy and dangerous-looking - not something you want to run into in dark (or even well-lit) alley.

The performances are terrific, across the board and Craig's American accent is dead-on. As a former bad man given the chance for redemption, Jake is almost an anti-hero, driven by revenge more than anything. And before you ask, yes, we get a good look at Craig's well-defined torso, though it's a bit dirty and banged up. Ford's Dolarhyde is also not the most likable of fellows; a man made bitter by his experiences in the Civil War and a disappointing son. Wilde is fine as the tough gal with a big secret and Rockwell is excellent, as always as a former doctor who only wants to run his saloon with his wife in peace. The rest of the supporting cast are on the money and you'll certainly recognize many of them.

Cowboys & Aliens' plot may be a bit preposterous but this a summer Sci-Fi action flick, not The Cherry Orchard. And as a summer Sci-Fi action flick, Cowboys & Aliens succeeds quite nicely. A thoroughly entertaining movie loaded with action, suspense and humor, Cowboys & Aliens was actually better than I had anticipated and I and my companions all left the theater happy. What more can one ask from a summer popcorn movie? *** (Three Out of Four Stars).

Wow! An amazing long weekend in Chicago with two wonderful friends and two terrifically fun movies in one week! The week after my birthday has proven to be even better that the week of. I may have to go back to the real world on Monday, but I had one hell of a vacation! I hope your week was as good as mine!

More, anon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: "Captain America"

The last Marvel superhero to get his own movie before next summer's The Avengers, Captain America has been around since WWII, famously punching Hitler in the face on an iconic cover that actually makes an appearance in the movie version of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Chris Evans, a hottie with boy-next-door good looks and a body that makes me cry is Steve Rogers, a short, skinny and bullied asthmatic who wants nothing more than to join the Army and fight for his country. After five rejections, he and his buddy Bucky Barnes are overheard at the World's Fair by Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who decides that Steve is perfect for his experimental serum to create a super soldier. Steve soon finds himself in a secret lab run by Erskine and Howard Stark (father of Tony "Ironman" Stark, played by Dominic Cooper) where he is injected with Erskine's serum and bombarded with Stark's 'Vitarays.' When it's over, Steve has become the epitome of muscular pulchritude; super-strong, super-fast and super-good looking.  

Steve's C.O., Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), wants him shipped off to a lab for study but a senator overseeing the project decides to send him off on tour, shilling bonds for the USO under the moniker Captain America. When the tour reaches Italy and Steve learns that Bucky has been captured behind enemy lines, he springs into action, aided by Stark and the beautiful Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the superhero we know and love is born.

Bucky has been captured by the evil Johann Schmidt, AKA Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who heads up Hitler's secret science team HYDRA. Using an ancient energy source stolen from Odin's palace in Valhalla, (a reference to Thor), Schmidt has created weapons that can decimate entire cities. Schmidt, of course, was the first to use Erskine's serum, which amplifies everything about a person. So while Steve becomes a hero, the already evil Schmidt becomes a monster, bent on nothing less than world domination, der Fuhrer be damned.

Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have written a highly entertaining and often very amusing origin tale that works on several levels. Staying mostly true to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's comics, their script deviates slightly from the Marvel Universe's story line (Semi-Spoiler: In the Marvel Universe, Red Skull kills Peter "Spider-Man" Parker's parents, but that no longer makes sense in the Marvel movies) and also manages to make a cheeky reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark early on.

Director Joe Johnston has surprisingly crafted this summer's best superhero movie, and that's saying something considering this is the man who gave us last year's dreary The Wolfman and the insipid Jurassic Park III. That's not to say he's a terrible director; he did make The Rocketeer and Jumanji, so it's not shocking that Captain America is as good as it is. Of course, much of the credit goes to near-perfect casting. Evans is fine (in more ways than one) as Steve/Cappie and Dominic Cooper is perfect as the young version of Robert Downey Jr's father. Weaving is an intimidating Red Skull despite his almost German accent, while Jones, Atwell, Tucci and the rest of the company all give earnest enough performances. The action (once it gets going) is exciting without being confused by dozens of jump cuts and blurry camera pans. The film's "science" may be a bit silly but this a comic book superhero movie, not a treatise on physics. Alan Silvestri's score is appropriately rousing and the very amusing USO song, "Star Spangled Man" by Alan Menken and Dave Zippel is dead-on hilarious.

D and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (though the young child in the row in front of us was obviously bored). If you go, make sure to stick around after the credits for an Avengers teaser. *** (Three Out of Four Stars).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Horror... the Horror...

I love 'em. You love 'em. Horror movies are among the most lucrative, if critically disdained, of genres. The summer may be halfway over but there are still plenty of horror films scheduled for the rest of 2011 to satisfy us all.

I've written about several of these movies already, but as their releases draw closer, I am getting more and more excited to see them. Of course, it will be hard to top Insidious, the exceptionally creepy film from James Wan and Leigh Whannel (Saw), though I have high hopes for what's left on the 2011 schedule.

First up is the Guillermo del Toro produced remake of the 70's TV movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, starring Katie Holmes; Guy Pearce and newcomer Bailee Madison about a couple who move into an inherited farmhouse only to find they aren't its only inhabitants. The original starred Kim Darby (the 1968 version of True Grit) and Jim Hutton and freaked out my little sister to no end. Scheduled for an August 26th release, Don't Be Afraid... already has my Dear D terrified just with the trailer:

Then there's a remake I actually think is worthwhile, Fright Night, starring Anton Yelchin (Star Trek); Colin Farrell; Toni Collette; Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass); David Tenant ("Doctor Who") and Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) in a story about a young man who thinks a vampire has moved in next door. The original 1985 movie was campy fun, but the R-rated remake looks to be a more earnest, violent and gorier tale.

And there's Final Destination 5, the latest in the series about Death tracking down people who were supposed to die in a tragic accident, but escaped thanks to a vision experienced by one of the intended victims. I saw the original movie on a particularly bad date and have struggled to overcome the stinky vibes that experience left. On closer examination, I enjoyed the 2nd film but found the additional sequels silly and gratuitous. Of course, I saw the last one with my angel Matty and we laughed our asses off, so this one may well be just as hilarious.

And then there's Kevin Smith's curiosity, Red State, which has seen limited releases in several cities, but is scheduled to go wide this fall. Reviews so far have been mixed, though I am certainly curious to see what has been described as a "Political Suspense Horror" movie.

Almost finally, there's Joss Whedon's long-delayed and much-anticipated The Cabin in the Woods. I tried my best to find a trailer or some footage from this film, but it's been kept so tightly under wraps, there's nothing out there to share. This says one of two things to Uncle P: It's either terrible or brilliant. I guess we'll need to see it when (and if) it's released to judge for ourselves.

 Truly finally, there's Darren Lynn Bousman's (Saw II; 111; IV and Repo! The Genetic Opera) 11-11-11, starring the adorable Final Destination 2 star Michael Landes in a tale about a mysterious entity who is apparently bent on the destruction of mankind.

As always, I'll give you my opinion on each of these films if and when I see them. D and I are scheduled to see Captain America tomorrow night and I hope to see Cowboys & Aliens this coming weekend, so there are plenty of movie reviews on the horizon here at The Revenge. I hope you stop by to read what I have to say. And I also hope to have pics from my Chicago adventures up soon (I just have to unpack the dang camera).

Stay tuned for my usual nonsense,

More, anon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saturday Night Debauchery on Tuesday

I'm back, Bitches! Miss me? And while I didn't take the photo of the giant Marilyn on Michigan Avenue you see to your right, I did take a few of my own (among many others) and will share soon.

Chicago was amazing. After the day job event was over, I moved across town to a hotel in the city's "Gold Coast," a beautiful neighborhood of brownstones and manicured gardens very near Lake Michigan. The Ambassador East is currently undergoing a major renovation, so the entrance and elevators were made inconvenient at times, but my room was lovely and austere, with Danish furnishings and a strangely laid out bathroom (the toilet was set diagonally in the corner). After settling in and having a quick bite at PJ Clark's (yes, just like in NYC), I set out for a Saturday night on the town with two friends I'd only ever known online.

"Are you crazy?" I can hear you asking. Surely you know the answer to that question by now. But when one of them is Chicago personality Stephen Rader and the other is sort of a  step-sibling of a dear college friend, I knew I was pretty safe. My biggest concern was not how I would get on on with either of them, but rather how they would get on with one another. Silly me. They had me in common, for one, and a million other people for another. Turns out that Stephen and Patrick moved in the same circles for years, without ever actually meeting until last Saturday. And they got along famously. And I with them. And we had ourselves a grand time in a old-fashioned night of bar-hopping in Boystown.

We started at the quiet and dark Cocktail on the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. After an hour or so of hilarious conversation, we moved next door to the trendier Sidetrack, which was filled with beautiful boys and plenty of poseurs. More drinks and laughs led us to move on, and while I couldn't name the other three places we ended up visiting; I can tell you that the seedier they got, the more fun we had, ending up at a bar that was having a Trailer Trash Drag Night where all the staff dressed in the trashiest, John Watersesque garb they could find. By the time Patrick poured me into a cab at 2:30 AM, Uncle P had had one of the most fun evenings I can remember in a very long time.

Sunday, I surprisingly awoke with no hangover and set out for brunch, again at PJ Clark's (it was close and relatively inexpensive). After a hearty meal of eggs, bacon and potatoes, I got into my head that I could walk to Millennium Park and set out to do just that. Walking along Michigan Avenue's "Magnificent Mile" I passed stores by Chanel; Gucci; Pucci; Cartier; Omega; Hermes; Armani... I might as well have been on New York's Fifth Avenue, but with a Chicago attitude. Finally reaching the park, I took my picture at the Cloud Gate (referred to by locals as "The Bean," saw a free afternoon concert (by a very fun jazzy blues trio whose name I cannot remember for the life of me) at the Frank Geary-designed amphitheater and watched children frolic in the hilarious Crown Fountain. Exhausted, I took a cab back to my hotel and crashed for the rest of the day.

Yesterday I visited the Navy Pier and the amazing Chicago Field Museum of Natural History before meeting Patrick again for another trip to Sidetrack for their Monday Broadway Karoake Video Night, which was more akin to attending a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show than karaoke anywhere else, especially during the extended Mommie Dearest remix video. At a very tired Patrick's suggestion, I then headed out on my own to Big Chicks, where I met delightful young man named Tim who spent the night flirting with me and proclaiming "F***ing Philly!" once he learned where I was from. Once again poured into a cab (this time by Tim, who said "You can't walk from frm here -- It's too dangerous!"), I returned to the Ambassador East for my last night in the Windy City.

I won't go into the details of flying home on US Airlines, except to say that any of you who have flown on USAir know just how awful they are. Dear D met me at the airport to take me home and while I will be glad to sleep again in my own bed, I am already missing what is quickly surpassing New York as my second favorite US city (San Francisco is hard to beat...). I know I'll visit Chicago again (I already have offers from two folks -- I'll leave it to your imaginations as to which two -- for a place to stay). And there are still plenty of things I want to do and see there. And I certainly understand why so many folks I know have moved there. I just don't think I could handle winter there. Brrr!

Pictures, anon (and all that jazz).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Quickie Before I'm Off

I am off tomorrow morning to Chicago; partly for day-job business and partly for fun. I'll be home Tuesday night, but won't have much (if any) internet access while I'm away. In case you're wondering why - I despise laptops and can't justify the price of a tablet right now, though I imagine a tablet will be my next major electronics purchase in the next year or so.

Anyway, I already have plans to get together with the fabulous Stephen Rader and a few other friends while there. If Chicago is still standing after Rader and I get together, it's only because Stephen Rutledge wasn't able to join us.

I've been to the Second City twice - once for a few hours and once for two nights, neither of which was enough time to really explore and have fun. This time I'll have a few extra days to see the sights and carry on (and hopefully catch the Chicago Cash Cab). I want to visit Navy Pier, the Bean, the (formerly) Sears Tower, and maybe catch a show and visit a museum or two. We'll see what time allows. I just hope the heat has moved East by the time I get there... Not that I wish it on my friends and family here, but you know what I mean. No city is fun when it's too hot to walk a block without becoming soaked in sweat.

I'll be back on Tuesday night, no doubt with a tale or two to tell (and hopefully three or four I can't possibly share). I'll let you know if it's anything like this:

Not that that's the kind of club Uncle P will be visiting while there (wink,wink, nudge, nudge).

More, anon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Ugh! In what is probably the single most unnecessary re-boot in Hollywood history, aggressively unattractive Brit twink Andrew Garfield is starring in The Amazing Spider-Man, due in theaters next July. Really?

My only question is: Why? Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy may not be perfect (okay, Spider-Man 3 was just this side of awful - but Spider-Man 2 remains one of the five* best super-hero movies ever made), but the franchise is less than 10 years old. Are there really that many Marvel fans out there clamoring for yet another Spider-Man origin story? I think not.

And while I may find the casting of Garfield reprehensible, even worse is Sally Field as Aunt May. For my money, Rosemary Harris is the quintessential Aunt May. Ms Field, while a fine actress, is just too... Gidgety (Yes, I said it). And no J. Jonah Jameson? What the...? The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

Director Marc Webb (insert ironic name here) may have scored with the hipster RomCom (500) Days of Summer (a movie I actually enjoyed), but he hardly seems qualified to helm a film about such an iconic character. And while Raimi's films addressed the cheesy humor found in the Marvel comics of the 60's and 70's, the teaser trailer for Webb's version seems all sturm und drang, concentrating on how hard it is to be a teenager (ala Twilight - another creep; double ugh!) rather than how fun it it is to be a superhero. Check it out below and tell me what you think:

I hope I'm proven wrong. Tim Burton proved us all wrong when he cast Michael Keaton as Batman; Neil Jordan proved us wrong when he cast Tom Cruise as Lestat and Martin Campbell proved us all wrong when he cast Daniel Craig as James Bond. Still, I can't help but think casting Garfield as Spider-Man is tantamount to casting Halle Berry as Catwoman

Either way, I'll be saving my July 2012 movie money for Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

 *The Top 5 in My Order:

More, anon.

My Favorite Steampunk Sci-Fi Show

If you're not watching "Warehouse 13" on SyFy, you're missing out on one of television's most entertaining and amusing Science Fiction shows, ever. No, it's not as good or intense as "Fringe" but it has a charm all its own and the chemistry between the two leads makes for the best TV Sci-FI team since Scully and Mulder.

For the unfamiliar, Warehouse 13 is a storage vault for artifacts which have certain powers and/or abilities, imbued upon them by their original owners. For example, Lewis Carroll's mirror allows one to play ping-pong with oneself; Ben Franklin's lightning rod boosts the energy to any object to which it's attached; Sylvia Plath's typewriter makes its user commit suicide... you get the idea. Run by a mysterious government agency of Regents headed by the even more mysterious (and apparently ageless) Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder), the Warehouse is overseen by Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek). Secret Service recruits Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) do most of the field work, aided by tech nerd Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) and psychic B&B owner Leena (Genelle Williams). New this season is gay ATF agent Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore*), who can tell whenever someone is lying just by looking into their eyes.

The team uses communicators called "Farnsworths" (after the accepted inventor of Televison) and energy guns called "Teslas" (after inventor Nikola Tesla). Artie's office is a compendium of Steampunk gadgets and keyboards while a variety of historical characters (HG Wells for one - who it turns out was really a woman in the Warehouse's universe) appear on a semi-regular basis.  Of course, the most fun comes from the "Will They or Won't They?" sexual tension between Myka and Pete.

A Tesla Gun
 Now in it's third season, "Warehouse 13" is SyFy's highest rated original show and that's hardly surprising, given the smart and funny writing combined with a charismatic and very attractive cast.

Last season's best episode involved Pete and Myka exchanging bodies (thanks to a pair of Gryffon bookends), which ramped up the sexual tension and made for some hilarious comments on the differences between men and women. Of course, in the sneak preview clip embedded below, that tension is increased tenfold. And it's also nice to see that McClintock has been working out over the hiatus. Yum!

I can't wait to see where the writers will take this show. Last season saw a crossover with SyFy's other terrific original series "Eureka." It can only get smarter, funnier and sexier from here. 

If you're a fan of Sci-Fi, Steampunk and Supernatural fiction, I promise you will love "Warehouse 13" as much as I do.

*Twin brother of X-Men's Iceman, Shawn Ashmore.

More, anon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Gayest Things You'll See This Week

It's still my birthday and I'll blog what want to, blog what I want to, blog what I want to... (not that my birthday has anything to do with it - I always blog what I want to...).

Today the Senate approved the first openly gay man as a Federal judge for teh Southern District of New York. J. Paul Oetken served as a lawyer for the Clinton administration; is Senior V.P. and Associate Counsel for Cablevision and served as law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackman.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had this to say on the Senate floor:

“As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal    judge and to serve on the federal bench, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades. And importantly, he will give hope to many talented young lawyers who, until now, thought their paths might be limited because of their sexual orientation. When Paul becomes Judge Oetken, he will be living proof to all those young lawyers that it really does get better” (via).

Oetken joins Judge Deborah Batts as the second openly gay U.S. District Judge in New York. New York just continues to lead the way in Equality, following the recent legalization of same-gender civil marriage earlier this month.

And speaking of same-gender marriage, also via Towleroad comes news that Niagara Falls will be displaying a rainbow light show in honor of the state's first legal gay marriage at midnight on July 24th, when the law takes effect and the state's first same-sex couple is married at the iconic honeymoon resort. 

In Entertainment News, The Advocate (along with several other sites) has a bunch of photos from the set of James Franco's Sal, a biography of the late Sal Mineo starring Sal Lauren as the Rebel Without a Cause actor who was stabbed to death by a pizza delivery boy in 1976. Franco (who played Rebel star James Dean in a TV bio) continues to push buttons and beg the question "Is he or isn't he?" I'm guessing that the sexually ambiguous star of 127 Hours will keep us all guessing for a long time to come.

Finally (and I have no idea why Blogger is freaking out and not allowing me to format the way I want), if like Uncle P you're a fan of the Edgar Rice Burroughs "Barsoom" novels, Disney has released the  trailer for the first in what may be the next big Sci-Fi franchise, John Carter starring Taylor Kitsch; Mark Strong; Dominic West; Thomas Hayden Church and Samantha Morton. and directed by Pixar's Andrew Stanton. The movie is scheduled for a March, 2012 release.

More, anon.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

13 Minutes from a Milestone

About 13 minutes from the time I started writing this post, I will be celebrating a birthday milestone. And while I won't tell you exactly how old I am (regular readers have been given many clues over the past 4 years), I will tell you that I never imagined myself at this age, nor can I believe I am this age, already. 

The years have flown by, kids. And for the most part, they have been fairly kind. Yes, I have aches and pains now and then. My knees aren't what they used to be, though I attribute that to both genetics and years of abuse on both dance floors and stages. And for someone who through most of his youth identified with older folks, I am amazed that I still feel connected to folks much younger than myself. I try to keep up on trends, even if I don't understand or particularly like them. I know enough about computers to be effective at the day job; maintain a blog; use Gmail, facebook, MSWord, Excel and my DVR. 

I remember some of the '60's, most of the '70's and all of the '80's and 90's, though I couldn't tell you what I had for breakfast this morning. My political views have not changed, though my activism has increased. I am still very active in live theatre; still love Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies; still think Harrison Ford was at his physical peak in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and still manage to find a variety of men of all ages attractive. I still love to write (duh!) and know what WTF; LMAO; BRB and TLDR mean. I have friends (literally) all over the world and very dear friends I consider part of my family right here at home. I've traveled more than either of my parents; lived through several wars; seen both domestic and foreign terrorists do horrific things and had five long-term relationships that ended badly. I saw vinyl give way to 8-Track;  Cassette and CD;  VHS give way to DVD; DVD give way to BlueRay and the advent of DVR and digital HDTV. I witnessed the first moon landing, the resignation of a President; both Space Shuttle disasters and the horrific events of 9/11/01. I've also seen amazing triumphs of human will and the best that Art, Science and Literature have had to offer. 

And now I am looking forward to see what the future holds, not only for myself, but the rest of Humanity. And while I find some people to be downright scary, many recent events give me hope for future generations. My ramblings and opinions here may mean very little in the "Grand Scheme" of things, but I am so glad to be living in a time so filled with promise for the future. I only hope that the next generation is able to fulfill that promise.

And now that I've gotten all deeply philosophical on you, I offer up some nonsense for perspective:

More, anon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Gayest Bacharach You'll See This Week

 It's been a long day, most of which was spent with one of my favorite people in the entire world, so I ask you to excuse the relative brevity of tonight's post.

As child of the '60's, I've always had a soft spot for the cheesy love songs of Burt Bacharach. They always seem to hit the head on the nail, so to speak.

Gorgeous saxophonist/vocalist Dave Koz has a new video for his cover of Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love" and it's probably the must inclusive music video I've ever seen. Enjoy (via):

More, anon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Two More for the Road

I am off to play for my birthday at Wildwood with D tomorrow. It's a 2 hour trip from my house, so who knows when I'll be home. But I came across two more trailers for films I want to see this Fall and had to share them.

First up, the prequel to John Carpenter's now classic version of The Thing, which also happens to be called The Thing.

I'm not sure why the writers, director and producers couldn't come up with a different title. Hmm... maybe it's because it looks like it's the same movie as Carpenter's, but with Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs the World) in the Kurt Russell role. It looks like the they've combined parts of the Howard Hawks' 1951 The Thing from Another World * and Carpenter's 1982 Masterpiece of Sci-Fi Horror (both based on John W. Campbell Jr's short story "Who Goes There?").

The fact that it's produced by the same folks who brought us Zack Snyder's not-half-bad remake of Dawn of the Dead is encouraging. I'll certainly see it, but I can't imagine that the CGI will be nearly as effective as the physical FX in the Carpenter film.

<a href='' target='_new' title='&#39;The Thing&#39; Movie Trailer' >Video: &#39;The Thing&#39; Movie Trailer</a>

*The next time you watch Carpenter's original Halloween, look for this film on the TV...

Also this fall, director Martin Scorsese directs his first family film, Hugo, based on Brian Selznick's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." It tells the story of a young boy who is hiding out in the Paris train station while searching for a key that will wind an automaton left to him by his father. Starring Chloe Moretz (Let Me In); Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island); Jude Law; Christopher Lee; Sasha Baron Cohen; Ben Kingsley; Ray Winstone and newcomer Asa Butterfield, Hugo is a Steampunk mystery adventure set in 1930.

I haven't read the book on which it's based, but I imagine that a family film directed by the guy who gave us Taxi Driver; Raging Bull and The Departed will be nothing less than extraordinary, to say the least. Hugo is scheduled for release on November 23rd, just in time for Thanksgiving. Like many childless adults, I expect I'll be seeing this film at a late evening screening.

I still want to know what movies you want to see this Fall. Post a comment to share.

More, anon.


Summer's only half over and while there are plenty movies still on my "Must See" List (Captain America [Chris!]; Cowboys & Aliens; Conan the Barbarian [Jason!]; Fright Night [Colin!]; [Don't Be Afraid of the Dark [Guy!]; Our Idiot Brother [Paul!]; Apollo 18 [I got nuthin']), there are quite a few movies for fall and winter that have caught my eye.

Now playing on 1 screen in NYC, the Norwegian horror movie The Troll Hunter has been gathering buzz for quite some time. The inevitable US re-make is already scheduled for a 2014 release, but the original is scheduled to go wide in October. The trailer makes it look like The Blair Witch Project meets Harry Potter meets CG Sweetums in frozen hell. The last horror movie from the region to make a splash was the startlingly good Let the Right One In, which led to the almost-as-good remake Let Me In.

November sees the latest from director Tarsem Singh (the criminally underrated The Cell), Immortals starring future Superman Henry Cavill as Theseus in a Sword and Sandal epic based on Greek mythology. Tarsem's visual's are always amazing. John Hurt; Mickey Roarke; Kellen Lutz; Frieda Pinto and Stephen Dorff co-star:

But before either of them is Stephen Soderbergh's End of Days epic Contagion, starring Matt Damon; Marion Cottilard; Kate Winslet; Gwyneth Paltrow; Jude Law; Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston in an apocalyptic tale of a killer virus:

D and I both really enjoyed Guy Ritchie's first Sherlock Holmes film, and we're looking forward to this December's follow up Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law reprise their roles as Holmes and Watson, joined by flavor of the year Noomi Rapace, as well as Stephen Frye as Mycroft Holmes and Jared Harris as Holmes' nemesis Professor Moriarity. More Steampunky adventure is afoot in what looks like an exciting an amusing sequel.

And speaking of Steampunk, you all know how much I love the genre. And it looks like 2012 will bring us an R-rated animated Steampunk adventure with director Emil Goodman's surrealistic Henry Waltz:

Sadly, as much as I'd love to see every one of the films I've written about tonight, I'll probably only get to see a fraction of them on the big screen. And whether it's because I'm too busy with my own projects or because they'll only play in arthouses too far away for me to get to, I'll do my best to see them, even if  it's only on DVD or OnDemand.

What movies are you looking forward to seeing in the coming months? You know how much I love your comments!

More, anon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Almost a Favorite

Unlike last year when the astonishing Prince Poppycock stole my heart, I have no clear favorite that I want to win "America's Got Talent." But I was very pleased to see the adorable and talented 18 year-old street dancer Snap Boogie move on to the semi-finals last night.

Combining hip-hop, krunk and pop-and-lock into his own unique style, the Boston cutie-pie has made it to the semi-finals of the NBC talent contest. And while there are plenty of amazing acts I really like (Sandou Trio; Anna Graceman; Team Illuminate and The Rhinestone Ropers to name a few), none of them have quite the charisma of this young man. An infectious smile, seemingly genuine humility and some amazing dance moves have put him at the top of my personal Top 5, so far. There are three more semi-final rounds to go, so there's certainly a chance that some other act may supplant him but so far, Snap is who I'll be voting for this season. 

Do you watch "America's Got Talent?" If so, who is your favorite, so far? 

More, anon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Too Many Topics...

Okay- I'm not afraid to admit that I am completely torn on what to talk about tonight, because collectively, nothing that's on my mind makes for a very cohesive post. But here goes...

First is the image on your right, which I'm sure you've seen on a hundred other movie and entertainment blogs and websites today. That's the teaser poster for Christopher Nolan's third (and final) Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. Click it to enlarge it and you can see the destruction being wrought upon Gotham City, but not by whom. Lots of folks have been comparing it to the early Inception posters and while I suppose I see their point... Still, I think it stands alone and is almost as iconic as the early Dark Knight posters with their "Why So Serious?" campaign. There is certainly no doubt about what movie the poster is promoting. Personally, I'm very much looking forward to Nolan's semi-annual birthday present to me (via 8,412+ other sites and blogs).

And this was almost a "Gayest Thing" post, when I came across the latest video from semi-obscure gay indie band The Hidden Cameras and their latest single "Do I Belong?" (a question I've been asking myself my entire life). The Hidden Cameras have been around for 10 years, but not being a hipster (i.e. a-hole), this is the first I've heard and/or seen from them (via):

This was also almost an extremely political post, also thanks to Towleroad. A friend at work and I have come up with alternate names for Repugnican Presidential hopefuls we hate. There's She Who Must Not Be Named; He Who Is an Idiot; the unoriginal but completely appropriate Frothy Mix and most scary of all, She Who Is Insane. The latter two, of course, are the most frightening of all. Bachman and Santorum have both signed a completely repugnant document which (among other ridiculously repulsive things) claims that sexual orientation is a "choice." Romney at least has publicly disavowed the document, though Tina Fey (oops - Sarah Palin) has so far been silent about it. Thankfully, She Who Is Insane may well be brought down by the Medicare payments to her sexually questionable husband's "reparative therapy" psychology practice. Of course, it doesn't help that the woman in question claimed in 2004 that being gay was not only "of Satan," but a "sexual dysfunction."

The APA and the AMA both decry the practice of so-called "reparitive therapy," stating that is both ineffective and potentially harmful, often resulting in depression and suicidal thoughts. I can only hope that voters will come to realize what a danger this woman is to both progressive thinking and civil rights.

There are plenty of other things I'd like to talk about tonight, but I am limited by time and my own need for sleeep. Maybe someday I'll get to rant about everything I'd like to... Until then, I hope you'll at least think about what I have to say and act appropriately.

More, anon.

Power Problems

An unexpected power outage kept me from my usual blogging time tonight, so I'll save it for later...

PECO (Philadelphia Electric Company) had an automated message telling me that "tree interference" was the cause of two outages today. The first at about 4:30 lasted just about 3 hours. The second at 9:00 PM lasted until just after 11:00. It's totally a First World Problem/White Whine, but it not only threw off my schedule, it totally screwed up my DVR. 

I know - Heaven forbid I should have lived in the 1800's and been forced to read and write by candlelight. But come on, people. This is the 21st Century. Shouldn't we have wireless electricity by now?

More, anon.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Late to the Birthday Party

There are so many great images of Vincent price available online, I had a hard time choosing which one to use. I settled on this one because it's from his last film, Edward Scissorhands and probably the one with which most younger readers are most familiar.

Vincent Price's 100th birthday was this past May, and many horror and film bloggers honored him then. I may be a little behind, but it's the thought that counts (or so "they' say).

My first real memories of Price are as the villain Egghead on the campy Batman TV series from the late 60's. Egghead was a character created just for the series, though he does appear in a few other versions of the DC comic.

But it was his films in the 70's that really brought him to my attention. Most notably as the murderous musician Anton Phibes in 1971's The Abominable Dr. Phibes and its 1972 sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again. In the first movie, the horribly disfigured Phibes blames a team of doctors and nurses for his wife's death and exacts revenge on them using a wildly inventive assortment of murders based on the plagues of the Book of Exodus. Assisted by the beautiful and silent Vulnavia (Virginia North), he takes them out one by one, before joining his wife in eternal sleep.

The success of the original couldn't keep a good villain down, and Phibes was resurrected for a sequel, this time searching for the "Scrolls of Life" in Egypt, in a attempt to bring his wife back to life. Vulnavia was now played by Valli Kemp and his prime adversary by none other than Count Yorga himself, Robert Quarry.

In 1973, Price appeared in the similarly-themed revenge horror movie, Theater of Blood. He plays Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean actor continually over-looked and derided by London theatre critics who takes his own life after losing an important theatrical award one time too many. Of course, Lionheart survives the attempted suicide and with the help of his daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) and a cast of homeless people, takes his revenge on the critics, murdering them based on deaths in Shakespeare's plays. Probably my favorite is Robert Morse being force-fed pies made from his poodles, ala Tamora in Titus Andronicus. Theater of Blood had recent stage production in London, though I've always thought it was rife for a musical adaptation.

But Price's career extended well beyond these AIP productions. He worked with everyone from William Castle, Roger Corman to Cecil B. Demille and Tim Burton. He appeared on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents:" "Science Fiction Theatre" and "The Brady Bunch" and voiced characters on "Scooby Doo" and "Animaniacs." Here are just a few highlights from his long and distinguished career:

Vincent Price left an indelible mark on films and horror, and I fear we shall never see his like again. And that's probably how it should be.If there's an afterlife, I hope he knows how much he is missed in this one.

More, anon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Last "Die Mommie Die!" Post

Well, I finally got a disc that worked and as promised, here are some pictures from dress rehearsal. There are a few minor costume accessories that were still missing and Angela's wig hadn't been styled, but I you get the idea. Click the pics for larger versions.

That's Kathy Garofano (L) and Kelly Reilly as Bootsie and Edith, on your left. I  love that adorable dress on Kelly.

Kelly and Damian Gaeta as Tony.

We used the screens in the back for our production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, as well. They're really quite effective.

Kelly, David C. Hamm (C) as Angela and Damian. 

Putting a 6' 1" man in 3" heels and a bee-hive wig makes for a rather gigantic woman.

David, Damian, John Devennie (as Sol) and Kelly.

John and Matty Daley (R, as Lance).

Poor Matty spent the show with his hair in his eyes so he could look more like a Flower Child.

David in Angela's tennis whites and Matty, holding one of the best props ever: "Angela Arden's 1954 Christmas Album." If you enlarge it, you can see it actually has David's picture on it. We let him keep it, after the show.

John, Kelly, David and Matty.

David was so enamored of the kimono, he commissioned our costumer to make one for him in black. We also let him keep the black pumps and the rhinestone flip-flops. 

Angela inserts the poisoned suppository, much to Sol's discomfort.

This scene got howls from our audiences, especially when the suppository slipped out of its hiding place on Opening Night and they had to re-insert it.

Tony seducing Edith...

Tony seducing Lance.

And yes, we put a giant rubber phallus in Damian's pants. The things I ask my actors to do.

Lance and Edith plot their revenge...

Edith with a cheek full of scissors!

Angela takes a little acid trip...

Lance and Edie fighting over Tony and his package...

Sol confronts Barbara with the truth!

Bootsie's alive, too!

One last time - the amazing cast of the JTMF 2011 production of "Die Mommie Die!" (from L to R):

John Devennie; Matty Daley; Damian Gaeta; David Hamm; Kelly Reilly and Kathy Garofano. 

More, anon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Revenge Is 4 Today!

I can't believe it's only and already been four years since I started Caliban's Revenge. I've learned a lot about myself and other folks; I've made new friends and heard opinions from some... interesting people. Most of all, I've found I'm not alone in many of my opinions, which is very reassuring.

I've averaged 11 followers a year (not great, but better than a couple of blogs I follow). I have no idea how many actual hits I've gotten (nor do I really care). More than anything, Caliban's Revenge is a way to leave a part of myself behind when I'm gone - my stamp on the world, if you will. "But Uncle P, you're a director and an actor. Surely, that will leave something of yourself behind." Perhaps, but the very nature of live theatre is fleeting - a one time thing every time, whether it's 1 or 500 performances. But my thoughts and opinions; these words and images are forever (or as long as humanity survives). That's longer than my particular genetic material will survive.

And now that I've gotten the "deep" stuff out of the way, let's talk about something important: movies. I started this blog with a list of movies which I thought should be remade. Since then, some of them have been (or will be) and consequently, that list has changed a bit since then. So let's take a look at 10 Movies that Should Be Remade; Vers. 4.0:

10. Logan's Run (1976) - Based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Michael Anderson's film won an Academy Award for special effects. It starred Michael York; Jenny Agutter; Richard Jordan; Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov in a story about a society that values youth and beauty above all. Citizens are fitted with time-sensitive crystals in their palms and upon reaching the age of 30 (21 in the novel), they commit ritual suicide in something called "Carousel." Undoubtedly a product of the "never trust anyone over 30" hippie movement of the late 60's, Logan's Run is an interesting, but dated movie. If done correctly, it could be a very effective treatise on paranoia and everything that's wrong with Utopian societies.

A remake of Logan's Run is currently scheduled for release in 2012, with an already too-old-in-real-life Ryan Phillipe in the title role.

9.  The Haunting (1963) - Robert Wise's version of Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House" is probably one of the most frightening films ever made. It features an extraordinary performance by Julie Harris and some of the most terrifying sequences ever committed to celluloid. Still, it's very much a product of its time, and the hinted-at lesbianism of Claire Bloom's character deserves a modern perspective. Jan deBont's 1999 remake is an over-indulgent orgy of bad CGI and ham-fisted acting from Lily Taylor, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson and Liam Neesom. Toned-down effects and subtler direction are needed to bring Jackson's classic into the 21st Century.

8. The Exorcist (1973) - William Friedkin's adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel is a classic for many reasons, least of all the amazing performances from Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller. But the then-state-of-the-art effects from Dick Smith look as phony as can be (see especially the head-spinning). The movie caused quite a stir when it was first released but even six years later, when I finally saw it in its first re-release, it had lost much of it's impact. Nearly 40 years worth of effects evolution would benefit the story, especially in the hands of the right director, say... Sam Raimi or James Wan...

7. Sisters (1973) - An early Brian DePalma film about formerly conjoined twins (played by Margot Kidder), one of whom may or may not be a murderer. DePalma would visit the theme of the unbelieved witness in Dressed to Kill and Blowout, though neither film would match Sisters in creepiness. A big-budget remake could improve on the original's fascinating premise.

6. The Shining (1980) - Novelist Stephen King admits to hating Stanley Kubrick's version of his novel and as a fan of the novel, so do I. Not that it's a bad movie - it's just not the movie that King's novel deserves. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall are woefully miscast; key plot points are completely ignored and things are invented for the movie which never happen in the book. Just about the only thing it gets right is teh casting of the late Scatman Cruthers. Even worse is Mick Farris' TV adaptation, which follows the plot of the novel more closely but because it's for TV, is forced to cut many of the more "adult" scenarios. This may well be another job for Raimi or maybe even Hostel director Eli Roth. In any case, The Shining deserves a faithful and truly frightening film adaptation.

5. Ghost Story (1981) - Much like The Shining, director John Irvin's adaptation of Peter Straub's brilliantly scary novel misses the point, completely. Lawrence D. Cohen's script reduces Straub's complex tale of ghostly revenge to its basest of elements, losing all of the novel's subtlety and true horror. While John Houseman, Fred Astaire, Melvin Douglas and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are spot on as the members of "The Chowder Society" and genre fav Alice Krige makes an impressive debut, the things that made the book so creepy are ignored in favor of cheap thrills and 80's physical effects. Such a complex tale requires the touch of a director like J.J. Abrams, whose "Lost" managed to capture the complexity needed to tell Straub's story effectively.

4. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) - Ray Bradbury's tale about an evil carnival is the first novel I learned to analyze, thanks to a brilliant teacher named Jack Fogarty. It's a story about fatherly love, childhood magic and the redemption of the human spirit. Disney's 1983 version, directed by Jack Clayton (The Innocents) reduces Bradbury's novel to its basest, once again ignoring the book's subtler points. Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier do their best with Bradbury's script, but the movie doesn't do any justice to the book.

3. Planet of the Apes (1968) - Pierre Boulle's novel was adapted by screenwriters Michael Wilson and Rod Serling ("The Twilight Zone") into a very successful movie starring Charleton Heston, Roddy McDowell , Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans. Several sequels (each less well-made) followed. And in 2001, Tim Burton attempted a less-than-successful reboot. Later this summer, a new prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco, will arrive at local cineplexes. Modern effects and a script closer to Boulle's novel could make for a terrific and exciting movie.

2. The Incredible Mr Limpet (1964) - Don Knotts starred in this semi-animated story about a nerd who wished he was a fish, only to find his dream come true. This was a favorite of my sister and mine when we were kids, and I can imagine that today's film technology would make for a terrific (or horrific) remake. If you've never seen the original, I highly recommend it. IMDb lists a remake in development for a 2013 release.

1. The Stranger Within (1974) - With the upcoming release of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, it seems the perfect time to remake another ABC Movie of the Week. Barbara "I Dream of Jeannie" Eden starred in this tale of a pregnant woman who finds herself craving salt, raw meat and cold temperatures, only to realize that her unborn child is actually the result of a close encounter. Richard Matheson adapted his own short story in this rather effective TV movie. A big screen version could reinvigorate reflective Science Fiction.

More Anniversary nonsense to come...

In the meantime, what movies would you like to see remade? Enquiring minds want to know...

More, anon.