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11 December 2013

Naughty cinematic Santa perfection

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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