Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Sir, I Do Not Like It!

That's Henry Cavill (Immortals) in the new Superman suit (via). The cape was digitally added by a fan. And I have to be honest... I hate it. The colors are all wrong and what's up with that weird waistline? It looks like his crotch has an eye, for Christ's sake! 

I've been against Cavill's casting from the beginning. Why is a Brit playing the symbol of "Truth, Justice and the American Way?" This irks me to no end. And while Zack Snyder did a fine job with Watchmen, his last movie (Sucker Punch), while visually stunning, was a nonsensical, narrative mess. 

Personally, I loved Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and thought Brandon Routh was the perfect successor to Christopher Reeve. Singer has a proven track record with super hero movies, and while Superman Returns may have lacked action, you could see the director's genuine affection for the character. I imagine a Singer-directed sequel would have kicked some serious butt. 

Now, after seeing this atrocity, I am sure that Man of Steel is going to be terrible. After Batman, Superman is my favorite superhero and his iconic red and blue costume is part and parcel with the character. This ugly gray and sort-of red thing looks like it belongs on an evil alien. Just awful!

And while I'm at it - here's a list of some other things I don't like:

Most Republicans
Hollywood Executives
Cheap Shoes
Helicopter Parents
Over-cooked Pasta
Country Music
Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann
Closeted Gays Who Publicly Oppose Equality
Ghost Hunters International
Wall Street Fat Cats
"Fishy" Tasting Fish
Most Musicals Written Before 1968
Andrew Lloyd Weber
Bad Sequels
Neo-Nazis, the KKK and Separatist Survivalists
People Who Don't Bathe Regularly
Two and a Half Men
Sharktopus (but I'm not bitter)
Apple Products
Blue Cheese
Oil Spills
Bad Spelling, Bad Grammar, Bad Punctuation and Bad Manners
Bad Chinese Food
Misogyny, Misanthropy and Hypocrisy

Something I like, a lot:

More, anon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Most Disturbing Thing You'll See This Week

This is probably the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. Four year-old Kanon Tipton is a "preacher." Yes, you read that correctly. Of course, I used quotation marks because there is no possible way that a 4 year-old has any real concept of what he's actually saying or doing.

This sort of thing isn't new. Back in 1972, the documentary Marjoe exposed child evangelist Marjoe Gortner as a fraud. Admitting that what he had perpetrated on his followers was completely fake, he later went on to become a B-movie actor, tapping his skills to appear in B-movies like Earthquake* and The Food of the Gods, using the fakery he'd learned as a tent-revivalist to make a second career for himself as a semi-successful  actor in the 70's and 80's. Marjoe, now 67, officially retired in January of 2010:

Like Gortner, Tipton is merely parroting the words and actions of his father, without any real-world context. Ask yourself what you remember from being 4. I have some flashes and snippets. Playing with Colorforms; the basic layout of our Trenton, NJ row home; moving the day before my 4th birthday and the G.I. Joe my godmother gave me for that birthday. That's about it.

And also like Gortner, Tipton is most certainly being exploited to bilk the weak-minded and gullible into giving money to charlatans. As far as I am concerned, this is child abuse and brain-washing at its worst. And the fact that a "legitimate" news outlet like the Today Show is willing to participate in the lie, just makes my blood boil. Watch the clip below (via) and decide for yourself:

It amazes me that in the 21st Century, people still fall for this kind of chicanery. Even worse, some of our Presidential candidates believe this nonsense. I honestly fear for our future as a society. Can you say "Scientific Education Fail?" I'm ashamed to admit that I can.

*On an unrelated side note, Uncle P's sister had to leave the theatrer during Earthquake's "Sensurround" sequences because they hurt her ears.

More, anon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week

Cold Star is a gorgeously shot German short about tolerance, acceptance, bullying and diversity. It's beautiful, strange and sexy all at once.

It played at the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival this past June, where it reportedly received a standing ovation.

While it features no nudity, Cold Star does have plenty of same-sex kissing and some implied sexual activity, so it may be NSFW, depending on where you work. 

Personally, I think it's a profound and artistic essay on the fluidity of sexuality;  the joy of discovering one's true self and the positive influence of those who have gone before. If you are an ageist or a homophobe (and you really aren't welcome here if you are either), then Cold Star is definitely not a film you should watch. If you are someone who believes that love manifests itself in any number of ways, then you will get and love the seven minute short as much as I do. Via Towleroad, here is Cold Star:

More, anon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodnight Irene (or: I'm Keeping My CDs)

Who knew Granny Clampett packed such a wallop?

Hurricane Irene has come and gone and while there is still devastating flooding in the area, Uncle P made it through with electricity intact and only an annoying pile of debris across my driveway and lawn. Of course, some of my neighbors at the lower end of my street weren't quite so lucky and there are several piles of pulled-up carpeting on the curb this evening. And lots of folks in my town are still without power.

Being completely lame, I was unhappy with the choice of breakfast foods in my house this morning, and I decided to head out to Dunkin Donuts for a bagel. The drive-thru line was literally out on the the street and the line inside wrapped around the tiny store enough times for me to walk out. I tried three other places (including what I would ordinarily consider to be a disgusting fast food chain), only to find similar situations. I finally ended up at the over-priced local grocery store, where I was pleased to find bagels that were still warm. I know, I know... such a White Whine

Honestly, I am quite grateful that I only had to do some sweeping up. Many folks in the region had far more dire problems. Trees were downed; cars were crushed or swept away; people were displaced from their homes and 18 people actually lost their lives. And there is still much more flooding expected in the region as the Delaware river and its many tributaries have still not reached their crests. Many of my friends in NJ are cut off due to flooding and tens of thousands in the region are still without power. And truth be told, it could have been much worse. 

And I am happy to report that none of my friends and family will have to fight over my book, CD and DVD collections. They remain dry and in my full possession. I hope that all of my East Coast readers were as lucky as I was. If you weren't, you have my deepest condolences. Now that Irene has moved into Canada, you can expect a return to my usual nonsense this time tomorrow. But I will leave you with this:

Okay - how gay was that?

More, anon.


She's here! Just days after the devastating East Coast earthquake, hurricane Irene has hit the U.S. Of course, I don't mean to make light of a serious situation (as of this writing, 5 people have lost their lives), but it is 11:26 PM and the most we've seen here in southeastern PA is a lot of rain. Yes, it's windy. Yes, the rain is very heavy and dangerous to drive in. But my power is still on and none of my possessions has blown away.

Now, Uncle P isn't stupid. I'm not about to tempt fate and shout a hubristic "Nyah-nyah-nyah!" at Mother Nature. The full force of the storm is still about 3 hours away. And the street on which I live, prone to temporary flooding during heavy rains, is already underwater. The sidewalk and apron in front of my house is completely submerged and the water is lapping steadily higher up my driveway and I live at the high end of the street. The wind has died down a bit, but the rain is falling hard and heavy. I've got water, milk, bread and flashlights with fresh batteries. I have a 1000+ page novel to finish by candlelight, should the power go out. My ancient flip-phone is fully charged (I really should upgrade to a magic phone). I think I'm going to be just fine.

But in case I'm not... My friends and family get first pick among my book, CD and DVD collections. What's left over should go to my local library. My sister is already the beneficiary of my life insurance policy (such as it is). Should any of my screenplays be produced posthumously, the royalties should go to her, as well. Of course, none of this would be necessary if I had a hunky Hawaiian BF to keep safe. Of course, it could be much worse. It could be a Nuclear Hurricane!

Oh, Jack Scalia... when will we ever learn?

More, anon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark"

Bailee Madison in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark"

Many folks my age and a little younger have fond memories of being scared to death by the 1973 TV movie starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton as a couple named Sally and Alex Farnham who inherit a Victorian mansion from her grandfather, only to find they aren't quite as alone as they think. But even at 12, I was a jaded horror fan and thought the creatures, when they were finally revealed, were goofy. In the 2011 remake, co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the creatures aren't goofy, but they have problems of their own. But I'll get to that in  a minute.

In the new version, Sally is Alex's daughter (Bailee Madison), who comes to live with him and his girlfriend Kim (in a nod to the original's star) in a creepy Gothic mansion they are restoring in Rhode Island. While exploring the garden, Sally finds the window to a basement no one knew existed and Alex (Guy Pearce) is soon knocking down a wall that leads to a very creepy door and the very creepy basement, against the advice of the handyman, Mr. Harris. The studio of the house's original owner - a famous wildlife painter who disappeared a few days after his young son - the basement is a cobwebby mess and features a bolted shut ash pit, to which Sally is immediately drawn. All this after a particularly gruesome prologue that shows just how the painter and his son disappeared all those years ago.

Sally is lonely and unhappy at having been uprooted from her mother in L.A. She hates Kim (Katie Holmes), hates the house and hates Rhode Island. But when mysterious voices whisper her name and say they'll play with her if she'll let them out, Sally opens the grate (she's apparently a very strong little girl) and unleashes a horde of tiny creatures who really want to drag her down into the grate and (ready?) eat her teeth! In the original, the creatures' existence is never explained. Del Toro and co-writer Matthew Robbins (Mimic, del Toro's English-language directorial debut) have contrived a background for the little creeps that involves fairy folk, a pact with an ancient Pope and the origins of the Tooth Fairy myth. The contrivance is completely unnecessary and serves only as the basis for the equally unnecessary (and hard to watch) prologue. Of course, when the creatures prove to be nasty, no one believes Sally's protestations. Afterall, she's a 'problem' child who takes Adderall and has a history of running away.

Del Toro originally wanted to direct this film, but felt it was too close in theme to Pan's Labyrinth, so he chose to produce instead, bringing in first-time feature director Troy Nixey. But del Toro's hands are all over the movie, especially in the garden scenes and the score by Marco Beltrami (Mimic; Hellboy; Blade II). Nixey's direction is workmanlike at best, relying too heavily on jolts and surprises instead of relying on the atmospheric creepiness inherent in the Gothic-style setting. Oh, there's atmosphere, just not enough of it. And as for the aforementioned little creeps? Most of the scares in the original came from not seeing the little monsters until the end. Nixey brings them out into the light (so too speak) far too soon and the CGI rat-like humanoids lose their effectiveness after the first time we get a good look at them. 

Pearce (Memento) and Holmes (Batman Begins) have zero chemistry and I didn't for a moment believe that they were actually a couple. It doesn't help that Pearce is so much better an actor. Of course, the movie is really about Sally, and Ms Madison ("Wizards of Waverly Place") is actually quite good as Sally. What I did believe was the relationship she develops with Kim, which starts out cold but grows into one of trust, friendship and ultimately, love. 

Don't get me wrong, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark isn't a bad movie. It's a little predictable (especially of you know the original) and a bit draggy in the middle. Genre fans should like it, though I doubt they'll love it, especially given its relatively low body count. Fans of the original are likely to be disappointed, though that's probably because they saw and were scared by it as children. There are plenty of nods to the original, though, including the famous Polaroid flash scene near the end. Don't Be Afraid... was originally scheduled for release last year, but got delayed in the mess following Disney's sale of Miramax. ** (Two out of Four Stars).

And here's the trailer for the 1973 original:

More, anon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Calling Mr. Allen. Mr. Irwin Allen, Please!

Ever feel like you're in an Irwin Allen disaster movie? Okay, for those of you born after 1980:  Ever feel like you're in a Roland Emmerich movie?

In the 1970's, Irwin Allen was the King of Disaster Movies like The Poseidon Adventure; The Towering Inferno; The Swarm and When Time Ran Out... These films, starring fading A-Listers and has-beens, were all the rage. Apparently, watching former A-list stars struggle against almost insurmountable odds was the antidote to real-life stresses like a bad economy, gas shortages and troubles in the Middle East. Producer Irwin Allen was behind all those movies (not to mention some classic TV Sci-Fi).

Today, producer/director Roland Emmerich is filling that niche with movies like Independence Day; The Day After Tomorrow; 2012 and the upcoming German film Hell.

Why the references to disaster movies? I think it's obvious. Earlier this week, the American East Coast experienced its biggest earthquake since the 19th Century. And this weekend, we are bracing for what looks like the worst hurricane since the 1940's. Yikes! Earlier this evening, Uncle P braved his local Walmart in search of flashlights, batteries and some emergency water, just in case. Let me tell you, it was just like one of those movies. The flashlight rack was all but empty and I think I got the last two gallons of water on the shelf. Forget bread and milk (not that I use either) and batteries were being snatched up left and right. The checkout lines were ridiculous.

Of course, as I predicted, the lunatic fundies are all over this. Already a NOM supporting New York rabbi has blamed the quake on the LGBT community (to be honest, he also blamed the murder of a young Hasidim boy on us) and today, 'Christian' evangelical Pat Robertson said the crack in the Washington Monument, resulting from the earthquake, is a "sign from God." Really, Pat? Because it seems more like the result of a natural seismic event on a 100+ year-old structure to me. The truth is, all of these so-called 'religious' folks are so blinded by their passionate hatred (translation: fear) of the LGBT community, they have put aside all common sense and scientific fact to espouse their lunatic views.

Here's the thing: Nature does what it does all on its own. It needs no help from the invisible hand of an imaginary invisible being who hates gay people and Muslims. It's physics, meteorology and seismology; all of which occur naturally without the help of supernatural intervention. And any sane, rational person will gladly acknowledge that truth, despite the imagined warnings from an unfinished calendar produced by a primitive society. 

Just remember:

More, anon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week

That's James Franco's younger brother Dave. He and James have made a few videos together (one also starring their mom). Recently, Dave made a hilarious video with Fright Night and Superbad star Christopher Mintz Plasse in which they tell one another (in a VERY NSFW way) how hot they found one another. You can see it here. Say what you will about their filthy pillow talk, they are both obviously having fun trying to outdo one another with their graphic descriptions of what they would do to one another in a very jokey way.

Of course, James Franco has been very coy about his own sexuality. He's played (and will be playing) plenty of gay characters on film. Of course, that could just mean that he's exceptionally comfortable in his own masculinity. Or it could mean he's gay. Or bisexual (something recently proven as scientifically valid). Or it could mean he's playing with our heads (NO, not that one). He recently said in an interview (and forgive me for not knowing the source off the top of my head - you should forgive the expression), "Who knows? I just might be gay." James has played gay characters in James Dean; Milk; Howl; The Broken Tower and the upcoming Sal. In The Broken Tower (also directed by Franco, as is Sal), he reportedly has a very explicit gay sex scene with co-star Michael Shannon. Of course, speculation can go any way it wants. We'll never know the truth unless Franco speaks up one way or the other.

Still, that hasn't stopped his brother from following in his footsteps. In the also VERY NSFW clip below, Dave goes both gay and narcissistic. Via Towleroad , My New Plaid Pants and kenneth in the (212), here's "Go F*ck Yourself:"

By the way... you all know you would if you could.

More, anon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All Shook Up

Well, as I'm sure all of you know, the East Coast had a rare earthquake event this afternoon. Originating in Mineral, VA (about 80 miles SW of Washington, DC), the quake was felt as far north as Toronto, as far south as North Carolina and as far west as parts of Ohio.

While no one where I work actually panicked, the quake caused quite a buzz among my co-workers. The part of the building where my department is located lies directly above the garage and the floor often shakes, so I thought it was just that until I saw the items on my desk rattling and the looks on other co-workers faces. You can see the kinds of massive damage the quake caused in our area in the photo above.

No one can describe my feelings about today's seismic event better than the King:

Californians are laughing at us, while Haitians and the Japanese are like "Oh, real funny, isn't it?" (That's terrible, I know...). With hurricane Irene looming to strike the area this Sunday, I know the Fundies can't wait to blame everything on New York's recent approval of same-sex marriage. Personally, I blame Rick Perry's announcement that he's running for President. I think Mother Nature is trying to wipe out DC before he can do it for her. It's either that or basic plate tectonics at work. Of course, Uncle P is a Godless Heathen, so what the hell do I know?

More, anon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall 2011 TV: The Dramas

ABC's "Once Upon a Time"

Last night I talked about the new network comedies I am most interested in seeing. So tonight I'm writing about the dramas that have piqued my interest, a slightly longer list.

There seem to be plenty of Fantasy-based dramas this season, so lets start with the "realistic" dramas, shall we? 

First up, is NBC's adaptation of the BBC crime series "Prime Suspect" with Maria Bello taking over for Helen Mirren as a tough NYPD homicide detective. My co-worker Sue is leery of this show, having been a fan of the BBC version, but I am a huge fan of Bello's (The Mummy 3 nonwithstanding):

Keeping with the Crime genre, CBS has "Person of Interest," starring "Lost" alum Michael Emerson and tortured Christ James Caviezel in a show about an ex-CIA hit-man and a scientist who try to stop crimes before they happen.

CBS also has "Unforgettable," starring Poppy Montgomery as a detective with a didactic memory who can recall details with pinpoint accuracy:

Drawing on the popularity of AMC's "Madmen," ABC is offering "Pan-Am," a 1960's-set show about the lives and loves of stewardesses and pilots at the dawn of the Jet Age. Indy darling Christina Ricci heads up the cast of the sexy, soapy look at the not very distant past:

Moving into the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre, FOX is finally offering up Steven Spielberg's "Terra Nova," about a group of explorers who travel back into pre-history in order to save the future. Starring Jason O'Mara and Stephen Lang, the story pits futuristic people against prehistoric problems, which include the occasional carnivorous dinosaur:

NBC offers up the supernatural medical drama "A Gifted Man," about a doctor, played by Patrick Wilson (Insidious; Watchmen) who sees dead people - specifically his dead ex-wife ("No Ordinary Family" alum Julie Benz).

The FX network adds to its list of original programming with the latest from "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, "American Horror Story." Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights"); Dylan McDermott ("The Practice"); Francis Conroy ("Six Feet Under") and the astounding Jessica Lange star in this story about a family who move into a haunted Beverly Hills mansion:

Finally, both ABC and NBC have competing Fairy Tale dramas. First is ABC's "Once Upon a Time," starring Lana Parilla (the underrated "Swingtown") as the Evil Queen in a story about a young woman who moves to a Maine town where the lines between fantasy and reality are blurry, at best:

NBC counters with "Grimm," in which a cop who is the last of the Grimms must protect the world from the Big Bad Wolves and Evil Stepmothers of the real world:

Of course, if I love more than one of these new shows, they're doomed to cancellation. 

What shows are you looking forward to seeing this fall? 

More, anon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fall 2011 TV: The Comedies

The new Fall TV season is soon upon us. I admit, I love television. Especially good television, which is a rare commodity. Each Fall I look forward to seeing as many new shows as possible, hoping that there will be another "Lost" or "Modern Family" or "Raising Hope" or anything worth watching. 

And while cable has plenty of great programs, I refuse to pay extra for "premium" channels, especially when I can rent entire seasons to watch at my leisure. So tonight I will be talking about network shows only. More specifically, the new network comedies I am most looking forward to checking out. Tomorrow, I'll talk about the dramas. So far, only a handful of new comedies have caught my eye. The sitcom was declared dead a while back, though the hilarious shows  "Modern Family" and "Raising Hope" shot that notion down. Here are the shows I hope will continue to prove that theory wrong.

"New Girl" (FOX)

Zooey Deschanel (Elf) stars as a young woman who moves in with three male roommates. Hijinks ensue. I'm counting on the delightful Deschanel (sister of "Bones" star Emily) to elevate this comedy above sophomoric sex jokes.

"Suburgatory" (ABC)

A city girl moves to the suburbs and is horrified by what she finds. The presence of Cheryl Hinds, Ana Gasteyer, Jeremy Sisto and Alan Tudyk make me hopeful for this one.

"Up All Night" (NBC)

Christina Applegate ("Samantha Who?") and Will Arnett ("Arrested Development") star as new parents and Maya Rudolph ("SNL") is their clueless friend. I love all three members of the main cast and hope the show is a hit. They all deserve one.


Comedienne Chelsea Handler produces this comedy about a woman (Whitney Cummings) who lives with her boyfriend and finds herself in one awkward situation after another.

I'm guessing only one of these four shows will actually make it. Tomorrow, I'll talk about the dramas I'm looking forward to seeing, a much longer list.

More, anon.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Five For & Five Against: "Final Destination 5"

Final Destination 5 has been out for a week, so I thought doing a full review was kind of silly. So instead, I thought I'd borrow once again from my buddy Sean at Just a Jeep Guy and do a quickie Five For/Five Against Review. You know the plot by now: a group of young people survive a tragic accident (this time a rather spectacular bridge collapse) thanks to a premonition from someone in the group, only to be killed one by one in a series of grisly and improbable Rube Goldbergian accidents as Death stalks them.

Five For:

1. The best opening sequence since FD2's amazing highway pileup

2. The first "real' kill sequence involving a gymnast's routine.

3. Using 3D in exactly the way it was intended to be used; cheap, B-Movie thrills.

4. Miles Fisher's hair, which like my friend George's hair, actually acts for him.

5. The best ending of all the Final Destination movies, which serves as a perfect way to end the series.

Five Against:

1. Some of the worst acting of the series (not that any of them have really good acting, but this one had some really bad acting).

2. Being subjected to P.J. Byrne's flabby, hairless, fish-belly white torso. What, they couldn't find a reason for one of the hotties to take off his shirt?

3. Courtney B. Vance once again playing a cop. Does the guy have no other characters in his repertoire?

4. Fryer oil doesn't boil immediately upon turning on the fryer.

5. The $4 surcharge for 3D. My ticket was $15.00! The theatre where we saw it was not showing it in 2D and the only other alternative was the $17.50 "3D IMAX Experience." No thanks. And for $15.00, I better be seeing an extraordinary movie. As you can imagine, I did not. Can you say "Rip Off?"

To be honest, I went in with no expectations other than gory, silly fun. And that's exactly what I got (though I'm not sure I got $15.00 worth). Those who love the series will not be disappointed., especially if they manage to pay the 2D price. *1/2 (One and a Half Out of Four Stars).

As a bonus, here's the video for Miles Fisher's new single, "New Romance," a delightfully silly tribute to both FD5 and "Saved by the Bell" (featuring most of his FD5 cast-mates).

More, anon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Want/Don't Want: 10 Fall Movies

I know, Summer isn't over yet. And there are still several films I really want to see that I haven't got to or haven't opened, yet. Tomorrow, Matty and I are seeing Final Destination 5 (yes, I know... but the films are amusing, if nothing else). Also on my list this month (as previously discussed): Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Fright Night; Conan the Barbarian and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. I'm hoping to fit Fright and Conan sometime during the coming week and D and I have a long-standing promise to see Don't Be Afraid.

But there is a plethora of films coming out this fall that rank high and low on my list. I'm not including any indie faves like The Descendants or The Rum Diary, simply because while hey may be excellent films, they don't fall into the genres I usually talk about. So here are 10 upcoming films I want to see and have no desire to see.

Let's start with the Don't Wants, shall we?

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I:

If you're anything like me, you despise the entire Twilight saga. Basically a Mormon treatise on abstinence, Stephanie Meyer's books bastardize the vampire genre, turning monsters into romantic heroes and teaching young girls the Disney lesson that someday their prince will come. Complete and utter crap:

Real Steel:

Hot Aussie Hugh Jackman stars in this mash-up between Michael Bay's abominable Transformers series and Hasbro's Rock-Em-Sock-Em-Robots in a story about a former boxer who now "trains" robots to fight. Really? I'd rather eat glass.


In what is possibly the single most unnecessary remake ever, Dennis Quaid takes over for John Lithgow in a story about a town that has banned dancing. If Kevin Bacon was dead, he'd be spinning in his grave.

Paranormal Activity 3:

The most boring, annoying and least scary horror movie ever made gets a second sequel. The people who pay to see this crap deserve to be ripped off. There were so many parody trailers for this movie on YouTube, I had to go to Trailer Addict to find the real one:

Now for the Wants.

Apollo 18:

Another "Found Footage" movie in the vein of Blair Witch and  Paranormal Activity, Apollo 18 was originally scheduled to be released this summer in advance of a competing film which fell apart. Delayed for re-tooling, I think it could actually be worth seeing:


Steven Soderbergh's Apocalyptic virus movie stars everyone:


Hottie Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a get-away driver in director Nicholas Rfen's thriller:

In Time:

Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Cillian Murphy star in this futuristic tale about a society where people stop aging at 25, but use time as currency. It doesn't get much more "high concept" than this:


Love or hate Tarsem Singh's films (I happen to love them), you cannot deny that they are visual feasts. Tarsem takes Greek mythology to new heights in this tale of Theseus (future Kal El, Henry Cavill) and the Titans:

Finally, something many of you may think an unlikely choice for Uncle P, but ever since Miss Piggy went all Kung Fu in the original The Muppet Movie, I have been a massive fan of the Muppets' particular brand of nonsense. So I very much want to see writer/star Jason Segal's The Muppets (and you know you do, as well):

I only have one question: What the heck is Wall-E doing driving?

So, what movies do you want to see this Fall? And no, I don't care about the artsy indie movies likely to be nominated for awards. I'm talking Pop-Culture, Popcorn flicks, folks (boy, do I love alliteration!).
More, anon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Unconditional Love

The Most Adorable Boy on TV

I have already shared what I'm about to talk about on Facebook, but I think it deserves as wide an audience as possible, so I'm talking about here as well.

You all know I've officially declared Darren Criss The Most Adorable Boy on Television (and one of the few reasons I still watch "Glee"). Uncle P may be getting on in years, but that doesn't mean he can't appreciate beautiful (not to mention talented) things when he sees them. But this post isn't about me. Or Darren Criss. It's about two amazing parents and a very self-aware child who they love no matter what.

You may remember Nerdy Apple Bottom, the NY wife of a cop who defended her young son's choice to wear a Daphne (of "Scooby-Doo") costume to school last Halloween. Now comes this post from Gets Too Obsessed, who told the story of her six year-old son's crush on Blaine (Criss' "Glee" character) and his admission that he only wants to kiss boys. Here's an excerpt:

Then the other day we were traveling across the state listening to the Warblers album (of course), and in the middle of Candles, my son pipes up from the back seat.

“Mommy, Kurt and Blaine are boyfriends.”

“Yes, they are,” I affirm.

“They don’t like kissing girls.  They just kiss boys.”

“That’s true.”

“Mommy, they are just like me.”

“That’s great, baby.  You know I love you no matter what?”

“I know…” I could hear him rolling his eyes at me.

When we got home I recapped this conversation to his Dad, and we stood simply looking into each other’s eyes for a moment.  Then we smiled.

“So if at 16 he wants to make a big announcement at the dinner table, we can say ‘You told us when you were six.  Pass the carrots’ and he’ll be disappointed we stole his big dramatic moment,” my husband says with a laugh and hugs me.

Only time will tell if my son is gay, but if he is I am glad he’s mine.  I am glad he has been born into our family.  A family full of people who will love and accept him.  People who will never want him to change.  With parents who will look forward to dancing at his wedding.

And I have to admit, Blaine would be a really cute son-in-law.

Wow! Just... Wow! I can't imagine better parents than these two. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if every parent was so accepting, so loving and so nonjudgmental? The Ann Coulters, Rick Perrys, Rick Santorums and Michelle Bachmanns of the world would cease to have relevance. NOM, Maggie Gallagher and her supporters would be universally ridiculed and the Westboro Baptists would melt like the Wicked Witch under a bucket of love. 

And to be honest, I can't blame the boy for crushing on Blaine:

Here's the thing: No matter who or what your child is; no matter who or how they love; no matter what happens in their lives, your children are a direct reflection of you. Love your children; support your children and let them know that no matter what, you will always love them. Gay, straight, bi or trans, your children deserve your love and support no matter what.

To parents who don't get it, or think that God hates their gay/bi/trans child - you are wrong. And you know that in your heart. Please share that post with everyone you know. Love is never wrong. Hate is always wrong. Don't confuse the two. 

Another rant over.

More, anon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Forgotten Gems: "The Monkey King"

Wow. It's been a very long time since I've done a 'Forgotten Gems' post. I think I need to do more. So here's one...

 Journey to the West is considered one of the 4 Great Novels of Chinese literature. Written by Wu Cheng'en in the 1590's, the 100-chapter story details a Buddhist monk's pilgrimage from China to India. The first 7 chapters tell the story of Sun Wu Kong, a monkey who comes to learn the way of Tao. Heady stuff for a children's movie. But in 1965, Shanghai Animation Film Studios simplified the story to its basest elements and produced Havoc in Heaven (aka The Monkey King)

I first remember seeing this film sometime around 1968 or so (remember kids, Uncle P is old) in the 'cafetorium' at Clara Barton Elementary School. I immediately fell in love with it. And while I know I saw it several times during my childhood, it's probably been 35 years or more since I saw it last. A precursor to Japanese Anime, The Monkey King's Taoist message was well beyond my K through 5 ken, but its basic tale of bravery and friendship struck a chord in my developing sensibilities and I count it as one of the major influences of my youth. 

The animation may be crude by today's standards, but that's not the point. Its one of the movies (among many) that made me love movies and memories of it evoke both nostalgia for a simpler time and a curiosity about the filmmaking process that never went away. Havoc in Heaven is available in a subtitled version (though I know the version I saw as a child was dubbed) on YouTube in 14 parts. As far as I know, there is no DVD or even VHS version available. Here is a Part One of the subtitled version:

I know I'll be spending at least some of my upcoming weekend watching the other 13 parts on YouTube. There have been several adaptations of this story, on film and in print, but this is the one that left an impression on my impressionable youth...

What forgotten gems do you love?

More, anon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"The Fly" at 25

Back to fictional Horrors then, eh?

Most of director David Cronenberg's films have dealt with horrors of the flesh. Whether it's parasitic worms; the physical manifestations of hatred; gynecological torture; living video; talking insect typewriters or bio-electric implants, he seems fascinated by the horror of corrupted flesh.

And in almost no other film is that so clearly demonstrated than his 1986 remake of the 50's Sci-Fi classic, The Fly. In the original 1958 movie, David Hedison plays a scientist intent on creating a teleportation device. On his first trip through, a common housefly is trapped in the machine with him, turning him into a fly-headed monster. Cronenberg takes that premise and elevates into something else, entirely. And today marks the 25th Anniversary of its release.


For those of you who've never seen it (and shame on you, if not), Jeff Goldblum plays Seth Brundle, a scientist whose severe travel sickness drives him invent a teleportation device and Geena Davis is Veronica Quaife, a reporter for a science magazine who thinks Brundle's crazy, until he demonstrates the machine for her. What starts as a professional relationship soon turns romantic and after a night of lovemaking, Seth realizes he needs to teach his machine about flesh. After successfully transporting a baboon, Seth decides to take the trip himself. As in the original, a fly is trapped in the telepod with him. But instead of creating a man with a fly's head and arm, the machine combines their DNA and creates something very different. Suddenly stronger and more aggressive (and craving sugar), Seth begins to mutate. As his "disease" progresses, his mind devolves and his relationship with Veronica deteriorates. In the film's most heartbreaking scene, Veronica visits Seth one last time, where his ramblings and appearance are too much and she flees. 

Soon, Veronica discovers she is pregnant with Seth's baby and decides to have an abortion. But Seth kidnaps her before she can and as the last vestiges of his humanity slip away, he attempts to combine the DNA of Ronnie, their baby and himself in order to effect a cure. Ronnie's douche bag boss (John Getz) comes in at the last minute to save her, and the resulting Brundlefly/Telepod monstrosity begs her to kill him in one of the most intensely emotional endings of any Science Fiction film ever made.

Goldberg and Davis both give astonishing performances in The Fly, adding to the tragedy unfolding as the movie progresses (and it helps that Goldberg was at the height of his physical prowess). The fact that they were both overlooked come awards season is criminal and evidence of the various Academies general indifference to Horror and Sci-Fi. Howard Shore's score is the perfect compliment to the tragic horror and the supporting cast (which includes a cameo by Cronenberg as an OBGYN in a dream sequence) is terrific. The Oscar and Saturn award winning effects by Chris Walas are intense and gross and wonderful. 

The movie has struck such a chord in popular culture, that Shore wrote an opera along with playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly - which Cronenberg also adapted into a film). It premiered in Paris in July 2008 and was subsequently performed by the Los Angeles Opera in September of the same year.

Even with today's CGI and 3D technologies, I dare you to find a more effective, disturbing and heart-wrenching Sci-Fi/Horror movie. 25 years later and the movie still holds up, evoking both emotional responses to its tragic romance and visceral responses to its gross-out special effects.

Cronenberg has recently talked about remaking the movie again, using modern SFX technology, though I doubt he'd be able to recreate the emotional intensity of his 1986 masterpiece.

More, anon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seriously... Is It Just Me?

"No, Michelle. You gotta relax your jaw more..."

Okay, the 2012 Presidential election may be over a year away, but the Republicans are already making me crazier than usual. Michelle "(being gay) is of Satan" Bachmann has won the Iowa Republican straw poll. But, not to be outdone, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his own candidacy the very same day, taking away a bit of the loony bitch's thunder with his own brand of Right Wing Christian insanity. Perry, you may remember, organized a 'Christian' rally in his home state last week. Both candidates have been linked to a particularly scary fundamentalist movement known as Dominionism, which posits that Christians should rightfully rule the world.

Hmm... that sounds familiar, somehow... Oh, I know! It's the same concept as Al Qaida has about Islam ruling the world. And just like Hitler had about Aryans ruling the world. Or any other insane fanatics who think they should rule the world. It seems to me that the Republicans may as well promote Ernst Blofeld as their candidate. Oh, wait. Rick Perry just announced. Never mind, they already have.

Here's the thing - Religion has no place in the White House. That's not to say that POTUS can't be a religious man or woman. Far from it. If he or she wants to believe that the Earth sits on four elephants resting on the back of a tortoise, who am I to argue with that? But, thanks to the well-known and revered concept of Separation of Church and State, those elephants better not have anything to do with his or her national policies and decision making. In other words, your God has absolutely no say in how I conduct my life. Only I and my god (if I choose to believe in one) have that power.

The fact that Republicans continue to make sexual orientation, religion and personal choice part of their campaigns, says they are completely out of touch with the majority of Americans. Yes, those "values" may speak to people in the rural Midwest and South, but the majority of the population live on the coasts and have long ago made their peace with the realities of the 21st Century. I think it's high time that the Republican party did so, as well. We cannot allow a bunch of backwater hicks and superstitious rubes turn the clock back on Human Rights and Equality. If we allow people like Bachmann and Perry into office, then we all deserve what we get.

Is this really the person we want running the country? God (Yahweh; Allah; Ra; Odin; Zeus; An; Baal; Inti; Shiva; Apistotooki; Jupiter; Isis), if He or She exists, must be laughing mighty hard at this idiocy.

Sigh -- another political rant over. Hopefully there will be some less serious nonsense to talk about tomorrow.

More, anon.

Another Genius' Birthday

Comedian/Author/Screenwriter Steve Martin is 66 today. In the late 70's and early 80's, there was literally no one funnier on the planet than Martin. 

From his early appearances on SNL to movies like The Jerk and The Man with Two Brains, Martin was the go-to guy or outrageous and silly fun. His particular brand of nonsense was unlike anything people had seen before (in the States, at least) and he was a sensation.

Lately, Martin's films have been less than stellar. Honestly, nothing made me sadder than his attempts to replace the brilliant Peter Sellars as Inspector Clouseau in recent The Pink Panther reboots. Sellars' Clouseau may have been am idiot, but Martin's is a sad and pale imitation. But I'm not here to talk about his missteps. I want to talk about the thousands of times he made me laugh, a few of which I have featured below:

Man, I love Teri Garr!

Maurice Evans!

"Into the mud, Scum Queen!"

"Clean that up!"

"Worms, Roxanne! I was afraid of worms!"

I could go on and on, but I don't need to. Despite some recent missteps, Martin remains a national treasure who will always be remembered as a "Wild and Crazy Guy!"

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hitch

Today is the 112th Birthday of probably the greatest movie director of all time, Alfred Hitchcock. By all accounts a bully on the set, Hitchcock's methods probably wouldn't be tolerated today. Still, say what you will about the man, he got the results he wanted and they usually paid off.

Ask me to name 10 of the greatest horror movies of all time, and 2 of them will be his. Ask me to name 10 of the greatest thrillers of all time, and 5 will be his.

I won't go on and on about his style and his camera work or even his obsession with beautiful blondes. There are enough books written about him and his films to fill an entire library. What I will go on about is the enduring quality of his movies. 31 years after his death, we still revere and talk about his movies (not to mention watch them over and over again). And while we may say a movie is "Speilbergian" or "Lynchian" or even "Felliniesque," he is probably the first director to have an adjective named for him. You know when a film is described as "Hitchcockian," you are in for a treat.

And there was also his TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." At a time when the major studios feared television would kill the industry, Hitchcock embraced it. His weekly forays into the macabre are just as good as his films and his corny appearances at the beginning and end of each episode are iconic, if only for the fabulous silhouette into which he walked each week. So, to honor his memory (and my love of his works), here are a few of my favorite Hitchcock moments:

Who else would kill his star in the first 20 minutes of the picture?

Damn, Rod Taylor was hot!

Perhaps Bernard Herrman's best score of all time...

So creepy...

Jimmy Stewart... No!

Farley Granger... No!

Perry Mason... No!

If you younger readers are unfamiliar with the master's works, line up his films in your Netflix queue ASAP. You're missing out on true geniius.

Happy Birthday, Hitch. And thanks for so many great movie and TV memories.

More, anon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Movie in the Worst of Taste

I was going to talk about this movie earlier this week, but it slipped my mind until I saw another trailer for it today.

In 30 Minutes or Less, Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland; The Social Network) plays a pizza delivery boy who gets a bomb strapped to his chest by two idiots (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) who force him to rob a bank. Eisenberg drags buddy Aziz Ansari ("Parks and Recreation") along for the ride. All of this is supposedly played for laughs. 

I say supposedly because the thing is, this happened in real life a few years ago with tragic results.

In August of 2003, pizza deliveryman Brian Douglas Wells was arrested after robbing a bank while wearing a collar bomb, which he claimed he had been forced to wear. After a standoff with police, the bomb went off, killing him. 

It was later learned that Wells, an Erie, PA high-school dropout, was in on the plot but thought the bomb was going to be a fake. When he learned it was real, he tried to back out and after tussling with his accomplices, was in fact forced to go through with the robbery. In 2008, accomplice Kenneth Barnes was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison; in 2010, accomplice Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong was sentenced to life plus 30 years for her role in the robbery/murder.

Why writer Micheal Dilberti, director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and company think this is fodder for a raunchy comedy is beyond me. And worst of all, it just looks awful:

Thankfully, the movie's been getting terrible reviews. It currently stands at a paltry 45% on RottenTomatoes and critic Leonard Maltin says "What can I say about a movie that made me want to take a shower and cleanse myself, afterward?"

Maybe if they had made a serious drama about the true events, they could have had a compelling film on their hands. It all sounded like something out of heist-gone-wrong movie when it was happening. 

Everyone involved in this movie should be ashamed of themselves. This is Hollywood at its worst, exploiting a real-life tragedy for cheap laughs. And anyone who pays to see this movie should be ashamed of themselves, as well. Disgusting and disturbing (gee, Uncle P, how do you really feel?).

More, anon.