The other night my wife Juanita and I took in our first concert of the season, a classic rock bill consisting of .38 Special, STYX and REO Speedwagon. Great tunes all night, including an incredible cover of the Beatles' "I Am The Walrus" by STYX. I had seen .38 Special and STYX many times in the past and I was not disappointed. I was actually very surprised by how much I enjoyed REO. I do like a few of their songs but the energy and skill they exhibited on stage made me a much more appreciative fan. At the end of the show, both REO and STYX took the stage to play a new song called "Can't Stop Rockin'" which was co-written by Tommy Shaw and Kevin Cronin. A good tune that wound the audience up. Great job by all the bands and a fun time was certainly had by all!
IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR THE WORD PREQUEL
Tony Scott has confirmed that director Carl Rinsch will helm a prequel to his brother Ridley's sci fi classic "Alien." The film will supposedly cover the early days of the crew of the Nostromo before the events of the 1979 film.
In other film news, director Ivan Reitman is considering helming the third installment of the "Ghostbusters" series now that the original cast, including Bill Murray, has signed up.
Milvina Dean, the last survivor of the Titanic, died last week at the age of 97. A 9 week old baby when the ship sank, she was lowered into a life boat in a pillow case and escaped the ship with her mother and 2 year old brother. Her father, Bertram, died in the tragedy. The Dean family had planned to leave England and travel to Kansas, where Bertram Dean hoped to set up a tobacco shop. In 1997 it was my extreme pleasure to meet Ms. Dean and involve her in my promotion for the film, "Titanic." She took a tour of my theatre, proclaiming it "the finest cinema she had ever attended" and reminded me jokingly when I brought her a beverage that she never used ice, "what with the iceberg and all." She was a delight to be around and charmed everyone who met her that day. Ms. Dean died in her sleep in the town of Southampton, England...the same town her family had tried to leave almost 100 years ago.
I was stunned to hear of the passing of David Carradine, an actor who never achieved the fame his talent deserved. As I write this, details surrounding his death are still being investigated. Mr. Carradine was found hung to death in his hotel room in Bangkok and it was first assumed he had committed suicide. Since then several other theories have arisen, including one of possible murder. He was 72. Probably best known for his defining role of Kwai Chang Caine in the television series, "Kung Fu," Mr. Carradine also left behind a list of great performances in films like "Boxcar Bertha," "Death Race 2000" and, in my opinion his greatest performance, "Bound For Glory," in which he portrayed folk singer Woody Guthrie. He recently made a new generation of fans with his appearance as the title character in Quentin Tarantinos' "Kill Bill" series.
Speaking of Kung Fu, Chinese film star Shih Kien, who played Bruce Lee's nemisis in "Enter the Dragon," has died in China at the age of 96. Mr. Kien had appeared in over 350 films in a career that spanned more then 50 years.
THIS IS JUSTICE?
On Mother's Day 2008, Daniel Riemann was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. Daniel was the older brother of Alex Riemann, a young man who played baseball for me. The driver, Curtis Mertensmeyer, was going so fast that Daniel's body was found almost 140 feet from the point of impact. He admitted to police when he was found that he had been drinking that night. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison. However, the judge in the case also added a caveat called a 120-day callback, which means if he's a good boy in prison Mertensmeyer could be released after only serving 4 months of his sentence. It seems that Daniel Riemann had been at a bar the evening he died and had been drinking. Rather then risk his life and the lives of others by driving, he decided to walk home. The judge, John Torrence of the Jackson County Circuit Court, used the fact that Daniel had been drinking as a mitigating factor in handing down the call back, implying that if Daniel hadn't been drinking perhaps her could have gotten out of the way of the speeding car that killed him and the driver that kept on going. What kind of logic is that? What if Daniel had been a six year old child or an elderly woman? Would the judge decide that they were too young or too old to move quickly and hold them responsible for their own deaths? What a travesty. If this farce of a sentence is upheld, Mertensmeyer could be released from prison as early as June 30. I'll keep you updated.
MY FAVORITE FILMS, PART II. THE YEAR WAS 1985...
Pee Wee's Big Adventure|
Starring: Pee Wee Herman, Elizabeth Daily and Mark Holton
Directed by: Tim Burton
FIRST SEEN: NORTHPOINT 4 CINEMA, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
FAVORITE SCENE: THE PET SHOP RESCUE
FAVORITE LINE: "Is this something you can share with the rest of us, Amazing Larry?"
I'll have to admit right at the beginning here that when "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" was released I had no idea who Pee Wee Herman was. I was familiar with Paul Reubens from his appearances in a few "Cheech and Chong" films but I had no idea they were one and the same until the movie started. I was somewhat familiar with director Tim Burton through his short films "Vincent" and "Frankenweenie." It was actually my friend Marty who encouraged me to see the movie with him.
Pee Wee Herman is basically a man-child who apparently doesn't work but has a nice house and a bicycle he values more then anything in the world. When his bike is stolen he begins a countrywide search for it, from the basement of the Alamo to the backlot of Warner Brothers. In between he befriends an escaped convict, a woman longing for Paris, a truck driver named Large Marge and a motorcycle gang. All with great fun!
What I love most about this film is the innocent way Pee Wee looks at the world. He takes people at face value and doesn't judge, even when things are at their worse. I think this is mostly due to the fact that the Pee Wee Herman people were familiar with had the same characteristics at his other appearances. People did not come to see Paul Reubens, they came to see "Pee Wee," and he did not disappoint. The script, by Reubens, comedian Phil Hartman and Michael Varhol is both silly and clever, a very rare combination. Another plus is the cast. Reubens had invented an iconic character and portrayed him beautifully. Daily was a hottie back in the day. I had seen her in the film "Valley Girl" as well as an underated television show I used to watch called "Bay City Blues" and I was immediately smitten. A plus in the film cast wise is when a movie is being made of the events that took place in the film earlier and the roles of Pee Wee and Dottie are now portrayed by James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild. Both have a great time with their roles and it translates to the audience. A highlight of these scenes is Pee Wee himself playing the bell man at a hotel, having to page himself and doing it haltingly.
Almost all of the participants here went on to bigger and better things. Reubens as Pee Wee took off, and suddenly the character was everywhere, from his own award winning Saturday morning television show to cameo appearances in other films. However, a follow up film concerning Pee Wee Herman and a traveling circus, died a quick death at the box office. On July 26, 1991, Reubens was visiting his family in his home town of Sarasota, Florida when he went out for a little adult entertainment. It was during a screening of the film "Nurse Nancy" that Reubens "let it all hang out" and was busted. Because of this arrest, CBS dropped "Pee Wee's Playhouse." Not to be outdone, "Pee Wee" appeared at the MTV awards and asked the audience, "Heard any good jokes lately! Reubens continues to act, most recently in television shows like "30 Rock" and "Pushing Daisys."
Daily has gone on to be one of the best known voice over actors in television, voicing such iconic characters as "Tommy" in "The Rugats" and Buttercup in "The Powderpuff Girls." Director Burton went on to success as one of Hollywoods' most innovative directors. Films such as "Edward Scissorhands," "Beetlejuice," "Batman" and "Sweeney Todd" only help cement the success that he has earned.
Next week we'll continue on the "oddly bizarre" path with a look at Terry Gilliam's brilliant film, "Brazil."
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.