Wednesday, 30 June 2010

PRYOR There's a thin line between to laugh with and to laugh at.

Not the first black stand up, but still the benchmark for black stand up. Correction still the benchmark for stand up of any colour.
His comedic genius was there for all to see but it was informed by a tough upbringing, by his intellect and his depth. His stand up recordings are legendary, his TV shows brilliant in parts, his albums exceptional. In a checkered movie career he has appeared in Lady sings the Blues and the Mack; both important black movies, and in the excellent Blue Collar Pryor's shows depth of talent, superb alongside Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Koto. Richard Pryor was not 'just' a comedian he was much more

Blue collar

'I believe the ability to think is blessed. If you can think about a situation, you can deal with it. The big struggle is to keep your head clear enough to think.'

'I can't just say the words, do a lot of one-liners. I love each person I play; I have to be that person. I have to do him true.'

'I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, I wanna grow up and be a critic.'

'I went to Zimbabwe. I know how white people feel in America now; relaxed! Cause when I heard the police car I knew they weren't coming after me!'

'It's been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused.'

'There was a time in my life when I thought I had everything - millions of dollars, mansions, cars, nice clothes, beautiful women, and every other materialistic thing you can imagine. Now I struggle for peace.'

'There's a lot more hypocrisy than before. Racism has gone back underground'

My Double Bills# 18 Eddie Murphy: Raw & Chris Rock: Bring the pain

Richard Pryor was of course the original incendiary black stand up / movie star and both Eddie and Chris owe a debt to him.In Raw Eddie does a routine about how much he admires Pryor. Both of these movies showcase stand up sets from these two talented comedians. There is a real sense of danger, almost Rock 'n' roll, about their performances, along with an underlying truth in what they say.

Murphy has a triumphant gig in New York and is on blistering form with a set rich in subject and execution. Rock talks about relationships, parenting, rap music, affirmative action and President Bush, among other things during his HBO show.
What both have is a charisma,stage presence and fearlessness. Both movies are available as audio and are as rewarding when listened to as when watched. Rock continues to undertake roles and projects that are diverse, while Murphy is known by millions for his roles in family movies. The young Murphy of 48 hours, Trading Places and Beverley Hills Cop is unrestrained in Raw. Watching it makes you realise what an exceptional stand up he was. Rock is the natural next generation from Pryor then Murphy.
Dangerous comedy from Eddie and Chris.Funny as hell.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


How best to deal with the heat?

It's hot. Officially, very hot.The heat brings out many things; smiles, relaxation,pleasure, fun. It also brings out a number of behaviours that put a dent into my feeling of serenity, for example inconsiderate shop staff who would rather not have to be indoors and therefore are irritable. Bus Drivers who just want to get out of the driver seat at the Bus depot; so much so that they drive erratically with spine juddering stops and starts.
The main thing that the heat results in is bare flesh. Now let me quantify that by saying that bare flesh per se is fine. After all who would prefer to be hot and uncomfortable when they can be cool and unrestricted? but it's the unleashing of third rate tattoos, rampant body hair and unkempt feet (a recurring theme some readers may say) that causes a kerfuffle in my minds eye.

It's 'get your tats out' time and sod us poor observers who prefer not to see badly drawn bulldogs and the legend Mum & Dad etched onto shoulders in black ink. Nor does the sight of spiritual Celtic etchings make for pleasant artistic visuals.
And of course young women with their Dagenham Barcodes on show sitting proudly at the base of their spine just above the bottom cleavage.
I'm not being stuffy or old fashion I just believe that if you've got it flaunt it but if you don't have anything remotely approaching 'it' for pity's sake keep it out of sight and out of mind.

Monday, 28 June 2010

What’s all the fuss about? # 1 The Lord of the Rings

Peter Jackson seems to have mastered the art of making movies about running away from things, stopping and having a bit of a fight then running away from things a bit more and stopping and fighting a bit more; see his pointless and trite remake of King Kong. Much like the chase sequence at the end of The Benny Hill show but with ponderous bombastic music.The lord of the rings trilogy is seven plus hours of effects driven tedium masked in sheen of cod spirituality. That it received such acclaim at the academy awards is baffling. These movies are also lauded by the UK’s leading film magazine Empire. Recently part two was voted the second greatest film of all time by its readership. Now seriously, any magazine that is committed about its intent to discuss cinema has to be having a laugh if it gives serious critical plaudits to this overblown piffle.

The differences between fantasy movies and science fiction are pronounced and Sci-Fi has rendered such movies as Blade Runner, Alien, Planet of the apes, 2001: a space odyssey and Metropolis, whereas fantasy needs a lighter touch. The Dark Crystal, Snow White, Jason & the Argonauts and Time Bandits are all good examples of Fantasy movies in that they are not cloaked in pomposity.

Jackson is looking to cast for a remake of Battleship Potemkin

I really find it unfathomable, the credibility given to the Rings Trilogy. It is almost as if a cult has grown up around these over long celluloid sermons and any dissenters are shunned for not having any ‘imagination’.

It’s this slavish adulation to Peter Jackson’s sensibility of over elaboration and unfettered overindulgence that allowed the general consensus of what makes an epic to become one of over wrought showing off and reliance on effects. Spartacus, Gone with the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia are epics where character comes first and unfortunately, post Jackson we now have such unedifying attempts at the epic movie as Avatar, Clash of the titans and Prince of Persia.

Look what you’ve done Jackson and your acolytes.
Jackson casting his next movie-Joan of Arc

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Wake up everybody

Some songs still resonate today although written many years ago;

Wake up everybody no more sleepin in bed
No more backward thinkin time for thinkin ahead
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be
there is so much hatred war an' poverty

Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way
Maybe then they'll listen to whatcha have to say
Cause they're the ones who's coming up and the world is in their hands
when you teach the children teach em the very best you can.

The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.

Wake up all the doctors make the ol' people well
They're the ones who suffer an' who catch all the hell
But they don't have so very long before the Judgement Day
So won'tcha make them happy before they pass away.

Wake up all the builders time to build a new land
I know we can do it if we all lend a hand
The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind
Surely things will work out they do it every time.

-Gene McFadden and John Whitehead 1975

Friday, 25 June 2010

Olly Moss Movie Posters

I make no apologies for todays post being low on words but big on pictures. Olly Moss  is a young british designer / illustrator who designs movie posters (among other things) of beauty and imagination. I would think that his inspiration has come from the great Saul Bass, but Moss' work delights in it's interpretation of the essence of the movie.
Enjoy some of his work.

Saul Bass-inspiration?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

My Double bills # 17 Men on a mission

Man on Fire & Point Blank

Lisa: What are you gonna do?
Creasy: What I do best. I'm gonna kill 'em. Anyone that was involved. Anybody who profited from it. Anybody who opens their eyes at me.
Lisa: [Whispering] You kill 'em all -Man on Fire

Billy: At point blank range with the gun pointed at your head, if you can keep your cool, then you are one in a million kid - Point Blank

Two men out to settle scores by any means necessary. Lee Marvin; the prototype mans man and Denzel Washington the modern version. Point Blank is cool and tough in every way and features the marvelous Angie Dickinson. Lee Marvin is out for revenge and woe betide those who get in his way. Man on Fire shows Washington as a man with high values and a 'don't take shit from anyone' attitude once the young girl he is responsible for guarding is kidnapped.

Both films are American but directed by English Directors John Boorman and Tony Scott. Both feature central tour de forces from the leads and both heroes are somewhat anti-heroes yet you are on their side as fundamentally the believe in what they are doing, regardless of who stands in the way of achieving their goals.
Good tough movies, with good tough men.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Mister Bombastic

Nicolas Cage, indie film star, Hollywood lead and out and out nutter.Yes but he was the king of bombastic action. The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off; the holy trinity of slo-mo macho action and pun.

All three are from the Die Hard blueprint; Die Hard on Alcatraz, Die Hard in the air and Die Hard with another fellah's face.

You want massive explosions? you got 'em. Spent bullet casings cascading? check. Ed Harris, John Malkovich and John Travolta on scenery chewing villain duties? Indeed.

John Cusack, Joan Allen and Sean Connery add the intellect as the directors try to out volume each other.

Bad Boys may be sexier, Point Break may be dumber, Lethal Weapon has more chemistry Speed a higher concept and The Long kiss goodnight has the female take but as an awesome threesome Cage has the set.

In these three pyrotechnic masterpieces we get a car chase in San Francisco involving a yellow Ferrari, a Hummer and a cable car. A slow motion shoot out to the sound of Somewhere over the Rainbow. A plane crash along the strip in Las Vegas as well as doves, bombs,face transplants, magnetic boots, Colm Meaney in a rage, Steve Buscemi as the Marrietta Mangler, Cage as a priest, helicopters, sports cars, speed boats, shot guns, automatic weapons, Military madmen and a bunny rabbit.

Mayhem, stirring orchestration, impossible shooting skills and perky one liners. But don't forget the overblown emotion and humanity laid bare, to bring a tear to the eye.

The action movie for actions sake has been overdone and exhausted by Michael Bay, Wolfgang Peterson, Simon West and Joel Schumaker. The Bourne Movies and new Bond have gone the grittier route, but for all out dumb bombast and action Mr Cage has the credentials with these three celluloid cacophonies . As the strap line for the Rock says:
"Weapons cocked, targets locked, get ready to rock!"

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Moments to Cherish

Moments to cherish

1. Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. Casablanca-“Here’s looking at you kid”

2. Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger. On The Waterfront-“I could have been a contender”

3. James Cagney goes to the gas chamber. Angels with Dirty faces

4. Gene Wilder. Young Frankenstein-“said a give?”

5. Robert Shaw. The USS Indianapolis story. Jaws

6. Tim Matheson. Animal House-“Forget it he’s rolling”

7. Stanley Tucci makes an omelet-Big night

8. Rutger Haeur. Blade runner-“I’ve seen things…”

9. Clint Eastwood. Dirty Harry-"I know what you're thinking: ‘did he fire six shots or only five?”

10. Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken. The Deer Hunter- Prisoners play Russian roulette

11. Jack Nicholson in the Diner. Five Easy Pieces-“I want you to hold it between your knees,"

12. Denzel Washington stares at his Commanding Officer. Glory.

13. The Hitler Youth sing Tomorrow belongs to me. Cabaret

14. Joe Pesci. Goodfellas-"Whaddaya mean I'm funny?...Funny how? I mean, funny like a clown? I amuse you?"

15. Hal. 2001: A space odyssey-“Daisy, Daisy..”

16. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MaClaine. The Apartment-“Shut up and deal”

17. Robert DeNiro. Taxi driver-Saving Iris.

18. Dennis Hopper. Blue Velvet-“Don’t you look at me”

19. Bill Murray. Tootsie-“That is one nutty hospital”

20. Jeanette Goldstein. Aliens-“Let’s rock!” be continued...

Monday, 21 June 2010

(Belated) Happy Birthday Kathleen Turner

Happy Birthday Kathleen Turner
Born June 19th 1954
Femme fatale of the eighties but did a diverse set of films  including Serial Mom, Romancing the stone,Prizzi's honor,Peggy Sue Got Married, Romancing the Stone, The War of the Roses, and The accidental tourist. she played sultry she played tough and she played funny. Still making the occasional TV appearance, anyone of my age will always remember Kathleen for the voice and the attitude.

"You aren't too smart, are you? I like that in a man"- Matty Walker: Body Heat
"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way"-Jessica Rabbit: Who framed Roger Rabbit
"Good evening. Welcome to China Blue Airlines, Flight 69, nonstop service to paradise. We'll be taking off shortly. I'll be unbuckling your belt and seeing that big bird rise and rise, finally settling into the comfort only this wide body can provide. We're here to serve you. Please remember that, although we may run out of Pan Am coffee, we'll never run out of T-W-A-T." - China Blue: Crimes of Passion
"I don't think there's a girl floating in any jar anywhere who's as happy as I am! Oh, Michael, you do so much for me, and I do nothing for you!" Anne Uumellmahaye: The man with two brains

Sunday, 20 June 2010

My Double Bills# 16 Erin Brokovich & Jerry Maguire

Star power; In the old days movie stars were given vehicles for showcasing their talent. Carrying a movie, putting bums on seats, headlining, whatever you want to call it, the movie star movie is few and far between these days. That is, movies that are good.
Erin Brokovich and Jerry Maguire are two examples of the star movie. Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise are about as big as it gets in the world of mainstream Hollywood and both have lead characters who account for the vast majority of screen time and both have supporting actors to bounce off in Albert Finney and Cuba Gooding Jr. The underlying themes of both movies are love, friendship and doing the right thing.
Both films benefit hugely from the direction of Steven Soderbergh and Cameron Crowe(who also wrote Jerry Maguire).
These two films are what I call proper movies.Big stars in big roles performing under an independent sensibility within a Hollywood movie. The beauty of both is that by having such big stars in the leads a large audience is guaranteed and perhaps part of that audience will be able to enjoy the films with a deeper appreciation than comes out of the usual multiplex fare.

Theresa Dallavale: Okay, look, I think we got off on the wrong foot here...
Erin Brockovich: That's all you got, lady. Two wrong feet in fucking ugly shoes

Jerry Maguire: I'm finished, I'm fucked. Twenty-four hours ago, man, I was hot! Now... I'm a cautionary tale. You see this jacket I'm wearing, you like it? Because I don't really need it. Because I'm cloaked in failure! I lost the number one draft picked the night before the draft! Why? Let's recap: Because a hockey player's kid made me feel like a superficial jerk. I ate two slices of bad pizza, went to bed and grew a conscience!
Rod Tidwell: Well, boo-fucking-hoo
Both movies were box office success's and were acknowledged in the academy awards with Cuba Gooding Jr winning the Best supporting actor Oscar and Julia Roberts scooping the Best Actress award.