11 March 2014

'Gravity' pulls Bullock to the bank

Gravity250r
Sandra Bullock, perhaps pondering, "Space, the final giant acting payday frontier," while making "Gravity." (mid-day.com)

Go ahead, guess.  How big do you think Sandra Bullock's payday is likely to be for grunting and screaming in Gravity while sporting what appears to be fairly skimpy space skivvies much of the time?

Five million bucks?  Ten, 15 ... $35 million?  You are not even close, space cadets.

According to an article by Alice Feigel posted on CNN.com under the headline Movie moola:  8 shocking celebrity paychecks (and quoting figures from the Hollywood Reporter), the Texas-based Bullock should rake in 70 million bucks for her exceptional tumbling and space-flight simulation, even if it isn't what we call a dialogue-driven performance.

Click on Feigel's article and you might need to hang onto your hat when you discover the financial year had by Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and, shall we say, an aging Batman nemesis.  (Does the hint, "Here's J-o-h-n-n-y!" help?)

Avengers250l
Now we know what Robert Downey Jr. was avenging in "The Avengers." (aceshowbiz.com)

My personal favorite, though, among overpaid -- OK, extremely highly paid -- actors has to be Robert Downey Jr.

Downey, a once-deeply troubled gifted actor, in fact a Best Actor Oscar nominee for his superb title performance in Chaplin (1992), probably already has more money than he knows what to do with because of his adventures in the Iron Man franchise.

When it came to including Iron Man in The Avengers ensemble on the big screen, however, the franchise suits had to pony up an iron fist full of dollars that boggles the mind, especially when compared to what the other superhero studs walked away with.

Some of those poor square-jawed "actors" had to settle for a lousy two or three million dollars.

I say that's a real tragedy.  Somebody needs to grab a little network TV time to raise money for down and out movie stars forced to get by on so little.  That can't be enough for an entourage of "yes" folks, a personal trainer, a manager, two or three publicists, a dietitian and Bruno guarding the door.

So, I have an idea.  If you'd like to help support a deprived movie idol only knocking down two or three million per picture, send your generous donation in large denomination, unmarked bills to this address.

I'll see that the deprived actors get ... uh, what they deserve.

Expanding the Movie Memories landscape

MM Logo265Because of some very exciting personal news (a beautiful new grandbaby in the family), Movie Memories is widening its central target area to include San Antonio and Central Texas as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

For all our loyal Metroplex clients, supporters and fans, nothing will change.  I will be in Dallas at least two or three days every week and more often when my Movie Memories speaking schedule requires.

The addition is that we'll now be including San Antonio, otherwise known as the original land of The Jalapeno Guy film critic 1-4 jalapeno rating system and my exciting times as movie critic at the San Antonio Express-News, the San Antonio Light, KMOL-TV, KABB-TV and Magic 105-FM radio (as well as other radio stations) into the mix.

For those of you in San Antonio who may not be familiar with Movie Memories, it's a speech/presentation series dedicated to celebrating the magic of the movies, both classic and contemporary.  It goes way beyond merely showing movie clips and talking about my 30-plus years reviewing movies and traveling the world interviewing A-list movies stars.

We'll go behind the scenes of movies you think you know everything about, such as Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life and more, and I'll share some personal -- sometimes painful -- memories; such as the time I made the late, great Paul Newman cry.

So if you haven't already done so, click around on the Movie Memories website, especially on the Presentations link. 

Movie Memories presentations, lasting about an hour, are available for groups large and small, clubs, business meetings, conventions and senior living facilities and centers.

Please make note of the new telephone number to book Movie Memories.

It's 214-364-7364.

Hello again, San Antonio.  I'm looking forward to seeing you at your Movie Memories presentation. 

03 March 2014

Oscars '14: The pizza man rings twice

Ellenphone300rThe 86th Academy Awards, broadcast for what seemed like forever on ABC Sunday night, was not my first Oscar rodeo.

I've watched them with hopeful but focused eyes for more years than I care to tally and covered them live twice.  That includes once when the NBC News Channel was fearless enough to place yours truly on the red carpet to schmooze celebs on their way in and out back to console the less fortunate and  congratulate the winners on their way out.

I'm proud to say I never once asked a starlet, "Who are you wearing?," which may have something to do with the fact that NBC hasn't rung me up for a return assignment.

I've seen Bob Hope and Billy Crystal dazzle, David Letterman fail miserably (1995), Whoopi Goldberg do OK three times, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin have fun (2010), James Franco and Anne Hathaway stink up the place (2011) and Ellen DeGeneres brighten up a large room with about a billion people around the world watching.

But that was 2007, when The Departed won four awards, including Best Picture.  Fast-forward to Sunday night (if we must) and two things happened that I never thought I'd see on an Academy Awards telecast:

In an ironic twist that mirrored what was probably going on in millions of homes around the world, the  Oscar telecast virtually halted to order-in some pizzas.

Even more of a shocker for me, though, was that Ellen (DeGeneres no longer necessary, thank you) had an off night.  I agree completely with the Hollywood Reporter review of the telecast that Ellen, so confident and genial on her afternoon TV gabfest, just wasn't hitting on all comic cylinders Sunday night.

Anyone can have an off night.  Heck, I was having one.  The surprise for me was that one of our most gifted comics, or perhaps the committee of writers, felt compelled to Seth MacFarlane (last year's failed host) it down into caustic dark comedy almost from the get-go.

Referring to Liza Minnelli as a Liza Minnelli impersonator and calling one of the truly great performers "sir" confirmed to me that it would be a very long evening and that someone other than Ellen determined the tone of the comedy.

Pizza350lNote to Ellen:  Next time, if there is one, do what Billy Crystal has done over and over.  Trust your gut when it comes to comedy and, most importantly, write (or at least control) your own material. 

A quick check with David Letterman could have warned Ellen of the pitfalls of treating the 3,300 or so odd mix of Hollywood young bucks, semi-elderly and elderly members of the Academy and their guests seated in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood (formerly the Kodak Theater) like devout followers of their popular TV show.

The awards themselves, once the show finally got around to them, turned out to be a diverse bag that saw 12 Years a Slave take Best Picture and Supporting Actress honors (Lupita Nyong'o), Gravity suck in lots of technical trophies (seven in all) and Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron taking home a directing golden statuette. (Click for list of winners.)

It was good to see Texan Matthew McConaughey grab the Best Actor honor for losing a ton of weight and getting under the withering skin of an AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club.

Nyong300l

There were other bright spots, of course.

Bette Midler brought a hush over the crowd with a chilling performance of Wind Beneath My Wings as the In Memoriam tribute faded behind her.

From this aisle seat, though, the highlight came when Lupita Nyong'o, a 31-year-old Yale School of Drama grad born to Kenyan parents in Mexico but raised primarily, according to published reports, in Kenya, took the stage to accept her Supporting Actress award.

No pizza was ordered.

She didn't pause to whip out her cell phone and snap a "selfie."  Nyong'o exploded with joy, pride and respect and thanked everyone who helped her get to the most coveted spot in show business.

(Click this link.)

(Photo credits:  Ellen DeGeneres with phone and Lupita Nyong'o backstage, cbs.com/Ellen's pizza party, Los Angeles Times)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 February 2014

The wizard of Oscar and ch-ch-changes

Dern350r
The Old Man and the Plea: Bruce Dern, left, and Will Forte in "Nebraska." (Paramount Vantage)

Mark your calendars and get your popcorn and Milk Duds ready.

The Academy Awards, the pat-on-the-back movie awards telecast that matters the most, lights up ABC on March 2.

Who do you like for Best Actor? It's a very strong race this year, with Texan Matthew McConaughey the odds-on front runner for his gritty performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

My heart belongs to Bruce Dern's brilliant, downplayed turn as the elder looking for new hope in the form of a million dollar contest payoff in Nebraska. The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg sums up the Best Actor race nicely.

Click here for the Hollywood Reporter link and let me know who you favor.

 Movie Memories updates and changes

MM Logo265Because of some very exciting personal news (a beautiful new grandbaby in the family), Movie Memories is widening its central target area to include San Antonio and Central Texas as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

For all our loyal Metroplex clients, supporters and fans, nothing will change.  I will be in Dallas at least two or three days every week and more often when my Movie Memories speaking schedule requires.

The addition is that we'll now be including San Antonio, otherwise known as the original land of The Jalapeno Guy film critic 1-4 jalapeno rating system and my exciting times as movie critic at the San Antonio Express-News, the San Antonio Light, KMOL-TV, KABB-TV and Magic 105-FM radio, into the mix.

For those of you in San Antonio who may not be familiar with Movie Memories, it's a speech/presentation series dedicated to celebrating the magic of the movies, both classic and contemporary.  It goes way beyond merely showing movie clips and talking about my 30-plus years reviewing movies and traveling the world interviewing A-list movies stars.

We'll go behind the scenes of movies you think you know everything about, such as Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life and more, and I'll share some personal -- sometimes painful -- memories; such as the time I made the late, great Paul Newman cry.

So if you haven't already done so, click around on the Movie Memories website, especially on the Presentations link. 

Movie Memories presentations, lasting a little over an hour, are available for groups large and small, clubs, business meetings, conventions and senior living facilities and centers.

Please make note of the new telephone number to book Movie Memories.

It's 214-364-7364.

Hello again, San Antonio.  I'll see you at your Movie Memories presentation. 

21 January 2014

The way we were at C. C. Young

WayWerreThanks to everyone over at C. C. Young Senior Living near the shore of White Rock Lake in Dallas for the fantastic reception and turnout on Friday (Jan. 17). 

And a special thank you to three ladies:  Carol Butler, editor and publisher of The Senior Voice, who was generous enough to sponsor the event, and Denise Aver-Phillips (Director of The Point, C. C. Young's Center for Arts and Education) and Angela Castillo (Event coordinator & administrative assistant), who graciously welcomed our Movie Memories "Savor Those Tunes -- Great Movie Music" presentation and provided excellent support.

And while I'm gushing, something I rarely do in print, I'd like to thank Carol Butler for a terrific introduction.  Carol said such impressive things about me I almost wanted to take a seat and listen to me myself.

Also, thanks to the fine folks who filled the Point's auditorium to celebrate the joy of excellent movie tunes throughout cinematic history, and especially for responding to my comments about why I think it was a good thing that the characters portrayed by Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were didn't make a lifelong relationship work out.

It was a fantastic afternoon, so thanks, everyone involved, for making it happen.

And one more thing, you could have heard a pin drop when Bette Midler poured her singing heart out as The Rose. 

03 January 2014

Savoring tunes at C. C. Young

Singin464

It's always a joy to begin a new year with some exciting news, and I've got some.

Movie Memories is teaming up with The Senior Voice to bring my "Savor Those Tunes -- Great Movie Music" presentation to The Point at C. C. Young, the premier senior living center located near the shores of White Rock Lake in Dallas.

It's all happening from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17.  Here's the best news:  You're all invited.  It's free and open to the public.

Cabaret250r
Liza with a Z belts one out in "Cabaret." (Allied Artists)

Help us fill the house to start the New Year off right by celebrating memorable music like Singin' in the Rain from the 1952 classic starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.  We'll go behind the scenes to reveal something surprising about Gene Kelly's splash through the title tune that you may not be aware of.

You'll learn how music guides an audience through an emotional cinematic roller coaster ride as a movie flickers through a projector when the filmmakers know what they're doing.

Without giving too much away, let's just say that we'll begin our movie tunes journey in New York, New York and wind our way melodically to the Midwest.

Thanks to Carol Butler at The Senior Voice for sponsoring this event and all the kind folks at C. C. Young for inviting us, we'll clap along as Liza Minnelli belts out the title tune to Cabaret.

So, to borrow a phrase from the movie:  Don't just sit there alone in your room, come to the Movie Memories cabaret on Friday, Jan. 17.  Call C. C. Young at 214-841-2831 to reserve your seat today.

Want a little sneak preview?  Just click on the arrow below.

 

Don't let foreign films scare you

I'm also excited about my "Get to Know Your Classic Foreign Films" Movie Memories presentation Wednesday (Jan. 8) from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. at Meadowstone Place senior living center in North Dallas.

Cinemaparadiso325l
Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) discovers the magic of the movies in "Cinema Paradiso." (blogspot.com)

Join us at Meadowstone Place (10410 Stone Canyon Road, Dallas 75230) for this revealing presentation under the auspices of Director Mitzi Werther and the Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program.

It's also free and open to the public.  Call Meadowstone Place at 214-987-0943 to reserve your spot. 

If you didn't know it already, you'll discover that movies from other countries often greatly influence American films.  Did you think, for instance, that the classic Western The Magnificent Seven or the romantic City of Angels were cinematic experiences born in the USA?  Well, you'd be wrong about that.

Join us and find out why.  You'll also get to know some foreign film classics you might want to rent; wonderful movies like Cinema Paradiso (1988) from Itay.

Before the hour or so of spanning the globe for movie classics is over, you'll also discover why subtitles are not to be feared, but appreciated.  See for yourself.  Click the arrow below.

 

(Gene Kelly photo from "Singin' in the Rain" courtesy:  MGM)

16 December 2013

R.I.P.: O'Toole, Fontaine, 'Billy Jack'

OToole300
Peter O'Toole in his most famous role, T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia." (www.mirror.co.uk)

The grim reaper has been busy over the past few days.

A cinematic icon, an Oscar-winning actress and one of Hollywood's legendary rule-breakers all died between Thursday and Sunday.

The loss of Peter O'Toole, an eight-time Academy Award nominee widely known as the star of Lawrence of Arabia, hit me the hardest.  O'Toole passed away at the age of 81 Saturday, after announcing his retirement from acting in July, 2012.

Fontaine250l
Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland's little sister. (www.theguardian.com)

Hollywood also lost two other notables.  Joan Fontaine, younger sister of Academy Award-winner Olivia de Havilland, died Sunday.

A casting favorite of Alfred Hitchcock in films like Suspicion and Rebecca, Fontaine was 96.

 

 

Loughlin250r
Tom Laughlin did things his way. (www.rottentomatoes.com)

Finally, Tom Laughlin may not exactly be a household name these days.  But as Billy Jack, the tough-as-nails ex-Green Beret of 50-50 Native American and White Man ancestry, Laughlin took it to "the man," and protected students of an arts school in Billy Jack, the early '70s action-drama he starred in, directed, co-wrote (with co-star Delores Taylor) and pretty much self-marketed to widespread appeal.

Laughlin, who succumbed to complications of pneumonia, died Thursday at the age of 82.

O'Toole's death hit me the hardest, though, and not just because the "unrepentant hellraiser" (according to published reports) commanded the most marquee power.

I never met the star of Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips (1971), The Ruling Class, My Favorite Year or The Stunt Man face-to-face.  I was lucky enogh to have a telephone conversation with O'Toole in 1988, however.

I was nervous.  O'Toole, most likely spending an excrutiating two or three-hour block of time on the telephone with a seemingly neverending list of film critics to promote a so-so at best fantasy comic-horror titled High Spirits, was obviously bored and distant by the time we spoke.

In fact, the acting legend did very little to mask his boredom as we chatted and he said all the right things about a movie he had probably already filed away as minor at best. 

And you know what?  I couldn't have cared less.  Through the wonder of telephone communication, I was speaking to T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), King Henry II (Becket), Arthur Chipping (Goodbye, Mr. Chips), and, my personal favorite, Alan Swann of the raucous 1982 comedy My Favorite Year.

Directed by Richard Benjamin, My Favorite Year features O'Toole as an Erol Flynn-like movie star with a serious drinking problem who agrees to be the featured guest star on a popular U.S. variety TV show.  Swann panics, though, we he learns he'll be appearing in front of a live audience.

As Swann, O'Toole spouts one of my favorite movie lines of all time:

"I'm not an actor.  I'm a movie star!"

Rest in peace, Mr. O'Toole.

And just for the record:  Yes you are, and I'll always remember you as one of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen.

 

Naughty, not nice, but very funny

How many times have you considered something aptly described as "totally disgusting" a very good thing?

BadSanta350r
Shopping mall Santa Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) prepares to greet the little darlings in "Bad Santa." (Dimension Films)

I can think of exactly one.  That's Billy Bob Thornton's riveting and revolting performance as a boozing, booty chasing, conniving thief of a department store Santa with a good (but very well hidden) heart.

And here's something else.  Can you believe it's been 10 years since Thornton, the star and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of the equally disturbing Sling Blade (1996), slipped into the worn Santa suit, lit up a cigarette and greeted the kiddies as a conman St. Nick in Bad Santa?

Nor can I.  But if you're in the mood for an edgy alternative to the usual holiday season leading man, like Jimmy Stewart as squeaky clean George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life or the persistent, but kind of annoying kid in A Christmas Story, slide Bad Santa (Rated R) into the DVR, grab hold of something and hit "play."

Just to make sure everyone understands, we're not talking family entertainment here.  So wait until the kids and/or the grandkids are safely out of sight.

As Willie, Thornton, in one of his finest screen performances in my humble opinion, grovels brilliantly as a desperately lonely, womanizing alcoholic with nowhere to go but up.

Willie, of course, goes down.  Way down.

 

11 December 2013

Naughty cinematic Santa perfection

How many times have you considered something aptly described as "totally disgusting" a very good thing?

BadSanta350r
Shopping mall Santa Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) prepares to greet the little darlings in "Bad Santa." (Dimension Films)

I can think of exactly one.  That's Billy Bob Thornton's riveting and revolting performance as a boozing, booty chasing, conniving thief of a department store Santa with a good (but very well hidden) heart.

And here's something else.  Can you believe it's been 10 years since Thornton, the star and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of the equally disturbing Sling Blade (1996), slipped into the worn Santa suit, lit up a cigarette and greeted the kiddies as a conman St. Nick in Bad Santa?

Nor can I.  But if you're in the mood for an edgy alternative to the usual holiday season leading man, like Jimmy Stewart as squeaky clean George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life or the persistent, but kind of annoying kid in A Christmas Story, slide Bad Santa (Rated R) into the DVR, grab hold of something and hit "play."

Just to make sure everyone understands, we're not talking family entertainment here.  So wait until the kids and/or the grandkids are safely out of sight.

As Willie, Thornton, in one of his finest screen performances in my humble opinion, grovels brilliantly as a desperately lonely, womanizing alcoholic with nowhere to go but up.

Willie, of course, goes down.  Way down.

 

Don't miss Friday's Richland Emeritus kick-off

The Richland College Emeritus plus 50 spring the kick-off, originally planned for Dec. 6 but postponed due to the recent icy blast, will launch with free hot coffee and muffins this Friday (Dec. 13) at 9 a.m.

Beginning at 9:30, instructors will take turns touting their upcoming classes in everything from aging issues, current events, nutrition, music, religion and even screenwriting. 

Yours truly will be among the instructors.  My spring class, very likely be my last in the Richland Emeritus plus 50 program for a while, will focus on Oscar-winning Hollywood icon Marlon Brando.  We'll dive into the fascinating subject of the man behind the myth.

This is my personal invitation for you to sign up for my spring class and others and to come to the always exciting kick-off event on Dec. 13 (Richland's Sabine Hall, Room 118).

It's free and there's snacks; coffee and muffins at 9 a.m.  Call 972-238-6972 to reserve your spot.

A sad silent (good)night

Do you appreciate, love and/or admire silent films?

I'm afraid there is some startling news bouncing around media outlets this morning.

Gatsby320l
This single frame may be one of the few remaining from the silent version of "The Great Gatsby." (flixist.com)

In a shocking report just out by the Library of Congress, it appears about 70 percent of 11,000 silent movies made between 1912 and 1930 have been lost due to what the Associated Press is calling "decay and neglect over the past 100 years."

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website:

“'The Library of Congress can now authoritatively report that the loss of American silent-era feature films constitutes an alarming and irretrievable loss to our nation’s cultural record,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement. “We have lost most of the creative record from the era that brought American movies to the pinnacle of world cinematic achievement in the 20th century.'”

Some of the classics starring silent film era stars Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Mary Pickford (Wings) have been saved and, in many cases, restored to near-pristine condition.

Sadly, other classics like The Great Gatsby from 1926, Cleopatra (1917), The Patriot (1928) and Lon Chaney's London After Midnight (1927) are presumably lost forever.

Silents, it appears, are no longer golden.

Parody, the new way to disrespect

Who says I'm not on the cutting edge of everything cinematic and trendy?

Well, plenty of people, but that's not the point.

Stewart325
George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) once caught a fish this big! Not really, but as long as we're spoofing. (RKO Radio Pictures)

Parodies are all the rage this year.

From music videos like the Bound 3 spoof of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's Bound 2 by Seth Rogen and James Franco to feature films, videos are hotter than this year's "must-have" toy on Black Friday.

Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life appears to be the holiday target of choice this year when it comes to movies.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "One is by comedian Owen Weber and the other is from Jean-Marc Vallee, director of the Oscar contender Dallas Buyers Club.

Wolf300r
Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character in "The Wolf of Wall Street." (thewrap.com)

"Weber recut a Wonderful Life trailer to the tune of Kanye West's  Black Skinhead, which is also heard in the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Dec. 25).

"Weber's parody The Wolf of Bedford Falls ... depicts Jimmy Stewart's hero as a corrupt sellout to evil banker Mr. Potter," the article states.

Sacrilege or homage?

I'll say a little (actually, a lot) of both.

I know this, though.  The version of "It's a Wonderful Life" you'll see in the video below is not your mama's version of George Bailey.

05 December 2013

True confession: The cold facts

I've been sneaking around, and I'm terrified my wife is going to find out.

Yet how can I resist her warm embrace?

Surely, someone out there will understand, even if it's only the men; some perhaps suffering the same agony.

She's there to warm me and protect me from the cold abyss of the outside world.  She's always there when I need her, and she never utters even a hint of objection or complaint.

Thermuse251 She is ... my thermostat.

I'm cold natured.  I can't help it.  I can't deny it.  I can't defend it.  So I sneak around to deal with it, but the deceit gnaws away at my soul.  Not enough, though, to shiver all day when I'm home alone during cold winter months.

My wife Suellen, through no fault of her own, has an inner body temperature that appears to reside in the desert of El Azizia, Libya, which is generally regarded as the hottest place on Earth.  How does 136 degrees sound?

So, especially during the winter months, if Suellen is anywhere near comfortable, I feel like I'm trudging naked through a raging blizzard in Antarctica.

I've tried to fight the good fight; wrap myself in blankets, wear socks in house shoes, etc.  But occasionally I have to poke my nose out of my blanket pile to move around.  And there it is.  I'm right back in the frozen tundra.

"This is why humans moved into caves, then built huts and eventually took out second mortgages on houses in the suburbs," I plead, "to get out of harsh elements like this."

That argument never flies, of course.

"If you're cold, just put some more clothes on," she says.

To which I've been known to reply:

"If you're hot, you could just take some clothes off."

Gentlemen, I don't recommend that retort.

If you just blurt it out anyway, as I have, just say something like ...

"What?  I didn't say anything.  I was shivering so much you just heard my teeth clicking together."

And so it goes, season after season.  That's why I've resorted to my savior of warmth, Ms. Thermostat.

We heat it up toasty style during winter days.  I just have to remember to restore the chill before Suellen comes home.

The deceit is killing me, though.

I can't go on living this lie.  So I'm fessing up and embracing the mantra of that great philosopher Vanilla Ice.

If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ice ice baby, indeed.

A sad silent (good)night

Do you appreciate, love and/or admire silent films?

I'm afraid there is some startling news bouncing around media outlets this morning.

Gatsby320l
This single frame may be one of the few remaining from the silent version of "The Great Gatsby." (flixist.com)

In a shocking report just out by the Library of Congress, it appears about 70 percent of 11,000 silent movies made between 1912 and 1930 have been lost due to what the Associated Press is calling "decay and neglect over the past 100 years."

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website:

“'The Library of Congress can now authoritatively report that the loss of American silent-era feature films constitutes an alarming and irretrievable loss to our nation’s cultural record,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement. “We have lost most of the creative record from the era that brought American movies to the pinnacle of world cinematic achievement in the 20th century.'”

Some of the classics starring silent film era stars Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Mary Pickford (Wings) have been saved and, in many cases, restored to near-pristine condition.

Sadly, other classics like The Great Gatsby from 1926, Cleopatra (1917), The Patriot (1928) and Lon Chaney's London After Midnight (1927) are presumably lost forever.

Silents, it appears, are no longer golden.

Richland Emeritus kick-off postponed

Mitzi Werther, program director of Richland College's Emeritus plus 50 for seniors, has sent word that the Emeritus Back-to-School Spring Kick-off, originally set for Friday (Dec. 6) morning, has been postponed a week due to the threat of inclement weather.

"There is a strong possibility of a treacherous Friday morning drive.  We do not want to put anyone in harm's way," Werther said.

Marlon250r
Marlon Brando with his "borrowed" trophy in "The Wild One" circa 1953. (Columbia Pictures)

No worries, though, the kick-off  has been pushed back a week to Dec. 13.  Instructors will take turns touting their upcoming classes in everything from aging issues, current events, nutrition, music, religion and even screenwriting. 

Yours truly will be among the instructors.  My spring class, which will likely be my last in the Richland Emeritus plus 50 program for a while, will focus on Oscar-winning Hollywood icon Marlon Brando.  We'll dive into the fascinating subject of the man behind the myth.

This is my personal invitation for you to sign up for my spring class and others and to come to the always exciting kick-off event on Dec. 13 (Richland's Sabine Hall, Room 118).

It's free and there's snacks; coffee and muffins at 9 a.m.  Call 972-238-6972 to reserve your spot.

Parody, the new way to disrespect

Who says I'm not on the cutting edge of everything cinematic and trendy?

Well, plenty of people, but that's not the point.

Stewart325
George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) once caught a fish this big! Not really, but as long as we're spoofing. (RKO Radio Pictures)

Parodies are all the rage this year.

From music videos like the Bound 3 spoof of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's Bound 2 by Seth Rogen and James Franco to feature films, videos are hotter than this year's "must-have" toy on Black Friday.

Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life appears to be the holiday target of choice this year when it comes to movies.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "One is by comedian Owen Weber and the other is from Jean-Marc Vallee, director of the Oscar contender Dallas Buyers Club.

Wolf300r
Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character in "The Wolf of Wall Street." (thewrap.com)

"Weber recut a Wonderful Life trailer to the tune of Kanye West's  Black Skinhead, which is also heard in the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Dec. 25).

"Weber's parody The Wolf of Bedford Falls ... depicts Jimmy Stewart's hero as a corrupt sellout to evil banker Mr. Potter," the article states.

Sacrilege or homage?

I'll say a little (actually, a lot) of both.

I know this, though.  The version of "It's a Wonderful Life" you'll see in the video below is not your mama's version of George Bailey.

 

 It's not too late to book MM for your holiday party

Santa315lThe holidays are here and Movie Memories has you covered when it comes to entertainment for your event.

It is time to get serious about planning your holiday event, though.  Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.

In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, I combine classic Christmas movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
 
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
 
Call 972-599-2150 to book your "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation today to secure your group's preferred date.
 
(Editor's note:  The thermostat column first appeared as a Life Sentences essay on this website on Nov. 23, 2010.  Thermostat image courtesy:  HunterFan.com)

04 December 2013

A sad, silent goodnight

Do you appreciate, love and/or admire silent films?

I'm afraid there is some startling news bouncing around media outlets this morning.

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This single frame may be one of the few remaining from the silent version of "The Great Gatsby." (flixist.com)

In a shocking report just out by the Library of Congress, it appears about 70 percent of 11,000 silent movies made between 1912 and 1930 have been lost due to what the Associated Press is calling "decay and neglect over the past 100 years."

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website:

“'The Library of Congress can now authoritatively report that the loss of American silent-era feature films constitutes an alarming and irretrievable loss to our nation’s cultural record,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement. “We have lost most of the creative record from the era that brought American movies to the pinnacle of world cinematic achievement in the 20th century.'”

Some of the classics starring silent film era stars Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Mary Pickford (Wings) have been saved and, in many cases, restored to near-pristine condition.

Sadly, other classics like The Great Gatsby from 1926, Cleopatra (1917), The Patriot (1928) and Lon Chaney's London After Midnight (1927) are presumably lost forever.

Silents, it appears, are no longer golden.

Richland Emeritus kick-off postponed

Mitzi Werther, program director of Richland College's Emeritus plus 50 for seniors, has sent word that the Emeritus Back-to-School Spring Kick-off, originally set for Friday (Dec. 6) morning, has been postponed a week due to the threat of inclement weather.

"There is a strong possibility of a treacherous Friday morning drive.  We do not want to put anyone in harm's way," Werther said.

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Marlon Brando with his "borrowed" trophy in "The Wild One" circa 1953. (Columbia Pictures)

No worries, though, the kick-off  has been pushed back a week to Dec. 13.  Instructors will take turns touting their upcoming classes in everything from aging issues, current events, nutrition, music, religion and even screenwriting. 

Yours truly will be among the instructors.  My spring class, which will likely be my last in the Richland Emeritus plus 50 program for a while, will focus on Oscar-winning Hollywood icon Marlon Brando.  We'll dive into the fascinating subject of the man behind the myth.

This is my personal invitation for you to sign up for my spring class and others and to come to the always exciting kick-off event on Dec. 13 (Richland's Sabine Hall, Room 118).

It's free and there's snacks; coffee and muffins at 9 a.m.  Call 972-238-6972 to reserve your spot.

Parody, the new way to pay disrespects

Who says I'm not on the cutting edge of everything cinematic and trendy?

Well, plenty of people, but that's not the point.

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George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) once caught a fish this big! Not really, but as long as we're spoofing. (RKO Radio Pictures)

Parodies are all the rage this year.

From music videos like the Bound 3 spoof of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's Bound 2 by Seth Rogen and James Franco to feature films, videos are hotter than this year's "must-have" toy on Black Friday.

Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life appears to be the holiday target of choice this year when it comes to movies.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "One is by comedian Owen Weber and the other is from Jean-Marc Vallee, director of the Oscar contender Dallas Buyers Club.

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Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character in "The Wolf of Wall Street." (thewrap.com)

"Weber recut a Wonderful Life trailer to the tune of Kanye West's  Black Skinhead, which is also heard in the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Dec. 25).

"Weber's parody The Wolf of Bedford Falls ... depicts Jimmy Stewart's hero as a corrupt sellout to evil banker Mr. Potter," the article states.

Sacrilege or homage?

I'll say a little (actually, a lot) of both.

I know this, though.  The version of "It's a Wonderful Life" you'll see in the video below is not your mama's version of George Bailey.

 

Don't fret over planning your holiday party

Santa315lThe holidays are here and Movie Memories has you covered when it comes to entertainment for your event.

It is time to get serious about planning your holiday event, though.  Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.

In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, I combine classic Christmas movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
 
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
 
Call 972-599-2150 to book your "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation today to secure your group's preferred date.

27 November 2013

Parody, it's the hot new homage

Who says I'm not on the cutting edge of everything cinematic and trendy?

Well, plenty of people, but that's not the point.

Stewart325
George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) once caught a fish this big! Not really, but as long as we're spoofing. (RKO Radio Pictures)

Parodies are all the rage this year.

From music videos like the Bound 3 spoof of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's Bound 2 by Seth Rogen and James Franco to feature films, videos are hotter than this year's "must-have" toy on Black Friday.

Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life appears to be the holiday target of choice this year when it comes to movies.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "One is by comedian Owen Weber and the other is from Jean-Marc Vallee, director of the Oscar contender Dallas Buyers Club.

Wolf300r
Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character in "The Wolf of Wall Street." (thewrap.com)

"Weber recut a Wonderful Life trailer to the tune of Kanye West's  Black Skinhead, which is also heard in the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Dec. 25).

"Weber's parody The Wolf of Bedford Falls ... depicts Jimmy Stewart's hero as a corrupt sellout to evil banker Mr. Potter," the article states.

Sacrilege or homage?

I'll say a little (actually, a lot) of both.

I know this, though.  The version of "It's a Wonderful Life" you'll see in the video below is not your mama's version of George Bailey.

 

Don't fret over planning your holiday party

Santa315lThe holidays are here and Movie Memories has you covered when it comes to entertainment for your event.

It is time to get serious about planning your holiday event, though.  Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.

In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, I combine classic Christmas movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
 
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
 
Call 972-599-2150 to book your "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation today to secure your group's preferred date.

Truth?  Well, there's more truth

Most movie buffs will remember the tension-packed, screaming courtroom standoff between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the 1992 military drama "A Few Good Men."

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Jack Nicholson on the witness stand in "A Few Good Men." (Columbia Pictures)

Well, now there's another standoff between Cruise and Nicholson, and it's playing out in the Hollywood Hills.

Cruise, it seems, is wooing his former co-star to portray a boozing womanizer who happens to be the former president of the United States.

That's according to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website and other online venues.

In the upcoming El Presidente, Toothy Tom is set to play a "straight-arrow Secret Service agent.

He's assigned to protect America's worst former president, an alcoholic and womanizing sleazebag who was elevated from VP when the president died," according to the post.

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Esteemed Toronto mayor Rob Ford. (zap2it.com)

If published reports turn out to be true, Cruise may have even told Nicholson, an Academy Award winner three times over, he won't make the movie without his old co-star.

Let's not be too hasty, Mr. Cruise.

Surely there's at least one other person who could pull off the role of "an alcoholic sleazebag" who also formerly wielded politial power.

I just can't think of one right now.