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PCR #507 (Vol. 10, No. 50). This edition is for the week of December 7--13, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Just a few notes this week, but one close to my heart. Shall we begin?

MOVIE REVIEW
"Invictus" áby Mike Smith
RETRORAMA
Time Warp Toy Box ĺ09 ľ Part 2 áby ED Tucker
GROWING UP FANBOY
The Star Wars Holiday Special áby Chris Woods
THE ASIAN APERTURE
The Thai Warrior áby Jason Fetters
FANGRRL
Book Review: Mistletoe and Mayhem:Horrific Tales for the Holidays edited by Richard Dalby áby Lisa Scherer
MIKE'S RANT
Remembering Roy .... Happy Stanley (get It....stan Lee) .... Oops .... Passing On .... Now I'm Upset! .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 áby Mike Smith
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REMEMBERING ROY

It has been almost two years since Roy Scheider passed away. At the time of his death I wrote a heartfelt piece about how he had affected my life, both with his films and personally. In August 2008 CFB received a letter from the writer/director of Roy's last film, "Iron Cross," informing us that the production was still going forth on Roy's final film and that they had hoped his performance would earn him his 3rd Academy Award nomination. In corresponding with the production I learned that Roy had approximately 2-3 minutes left of screen time needing to be filmed that was tantamount to the film. The idea forwarded to me was that they were going to use a life mask of Roy, made when he was on "Sea Quest" to "transform" another actor. As I said, this was almost 15 months ago. I was not sure if this was a viable experiment, though I was intrigued. I even went so far as to offer them the use of Roy's life mask from the film "The Punisher," which had been given to me by long time friend and make up wizard Corey Castellano, who had worked on the film. I explained that the mask I had was of Roy's face after he had had some plastic surgery, so it would look more like him then the "SeaQuest" mask would. After some discussion I don't think they went the "Roy re-creation" route, instead using some CGI technology, i.e. Brandon Lee in "The Crow" or Nancy Marchand in the 2nd season of "The Sopranos," using previous shots of the actors and manipulating their mouth movements.

I mention all this because this week the producers of "Iron Cross" have begun an intense (in excess of $400,000) Oscar campaign for Roy Scheider. An almost daily barrage of ads will appear in the daily trade papers and magazines, running up to the last day ballots are to be submitted. Here is a peek at the trailer for "Iron Cross": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ-m-qItjzg

Best of luck to writer/director Joshua Newton, who has his crew working around the clock for the films one screen debut in Los Angeles this coming Friday.

HAPPY STANLEY (get it....STAN LEE)

If you are a Facebook friend of Marvel Comics maestro Stan Lee (as I am) you already know that Stan has confirmed he is about to film his cameo for Kenneth Brannagh's upcoming version of "Thor." He also Tweeted the following, "Due to Thor, I must start rehearsing my thee's and thou's. So, if thou objecteth not, I wish thee well! 'Nuff saideth." With the exception of "X-2" Lee has cameoed in every major motion picture based on his work.

OOPS

If you're like me, you are finding it ever maddening to try to access a web site when it demands you type in random security "codes" to continue. What perplexes me the most is that you can click on a link that will "sound" out the code for you...as if implying that either you're blind (in which case why are you on the internet) or just don't know your alphabet. So imagine the shock Alistair Beswick received when he logged into the Coke Zone rewards Web site in England. The Coke Zone, which randomly generates six-character security codes, asked Beswick to enter "U F U C K R" to enter to claim his reward points. No word from Coke as to why this happened, or if Mr. Beswick is now a committed Pepsi drinker.

PASSING ON

At 6 foot 7 inches tall, Bill Lister was too tall to serve in the miliary. However it didn't keep him from playing rhythm guitar behind Hank Williams as part of his famed Drifting Cowboys band. Lister died this week in San Antonio at the age of 86. Early in his career he was dubbed "Radio's Tallest Singing Cowboy." Which really isn't relevant, is it. He's on the radio...he could be a frickin midget and nobody would have known. That's why I'm amazed that at one time the most popular radio show in the country was ventriloquist Edgar Bergen with his puppet Charlie McCarthy. A VENTRILOQUIST ON THE RADIO?? How do we know he wasn't moving his lips?

Robert Degen, who claimed to have written, and copywrighted in 1944, "The Hokey Pokey Dance," died on November 23rd, which was also his 104th birthday. The delay in announcing the death was due to the unfortunate incident that took place during the burial. Apparently the funeral director tried to put his left foot into the casket...and then all hell broke loose!

NOW I'M UPSET!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have released their short list of 15 films to consider for the Best Visual Effects award. What upsets me is that Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" (which I saw a few weeks ago) is not among the nominees. Of course, an Academy that uses a grading system to accept "suitably written songs" and declares Bruce Springsteen not worthy really has other problems. The films being considered: "Angels & Demons"; "Avatar"; "Coraline"; "Disney's A Christmas Carol"; "District 9"; "G-Force"; "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"; "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"; "Sherlock Holmes"; "Star Trek"; "Terminator Salvation"; "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"; "2012"; "Watchmen"; "Where the Wild Things Are." The five finalists will be announced in January.




MY FAVORITE FILMS, PART II. THE YEAR WAS 2000...

Almost Famous / The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Starring: Billy Cruddup, Kate Hudson / Barry Dennen, Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Cameron Crowe / John Landis

ALMOST FAMOUS

FIRST SEEN
: Regal Cinemas 18, Kansas City, Missouri
FAVORITE SCENE: Ben Fong Torres trying to explain a fax machine (he calls it a MoJo)...it only takes 18 minutes a page!
FAVORITE LINE: "I'm a Golden God!"

AWARDS

2001 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

2001 Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand) and Best Editing

2001 BAFTA Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Sound

2001 BAFTA Award nominations for Best Film, Best Lead Actress (Hudson), Best Supporting Actress (McDormand) and Best Film Music

2001 Director's Guild of America nomination for Best Director

2001 Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture (Music/Comedy) and Best Supporting Actress (Hudson)

2001 Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress (McDormand) and Best Screenplay

2001 Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album, Movie or Television

2001 Kansas City Film Critic's Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (Kate Hudson)

2001 Writer's Guild of America nomination for Best Original Screenplay


At the age of 15, Cameron Crowe was travelling with the Allman Brothers Band and writing cover stories for "Rolling Stone" magazine. At age 18 he wrote the liner notes for one of the most popular albums of all time, Peter Frampton's "Frampton Comes Alive." He used his youth to his advantage by going back to high school in the early 1980s, turning his experiences into the novel "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." When Hollywood called, he turned the book into a script, producing a film still recognized today as a classic look at the 80s. His next screenplay, "The Wild Life," was pretty much a rehash of "Fast Times" with different characters but in 1989 he began a run of still beloved films with his directorial debut "Say Anything." If you've EVER been in love you can't help but be moved by the now seminal image of John Cussack's Lloyd Dobbler standing outside the home of the girl he loves holding his boombox overhead while Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" plays. He followed that up with "Singles," then went the blockbuster route with "Jerry Maguire." The success of that film allowed him to make his dream project, a thinly veiled account of his younger days discovering the joys of rock and roll.

What makes "Almost Famous" so great is that Crowe made sure that nothing played phony. From casting real rock and rollers in supporting roles (Frampton, Nancy Wilson from Heart (also Crowe's wife). Even famous roadies like Red Dog, who toured with the Allman Brothers, show up on screen giving the film a realism that couldn't be achieved through central casting. The film also survives through the performances of it's main characters. Russell Hammond, main song writer and guitarist, played by Billy Cruddup, in his best screen performance (in my opinion) is still at the stage where it's all about the music. His character doesn't care about the t-shirts and the merchandising. However, he's not above using his fame to get what he needs emotionally. As William, the young journalist, Patrick Fugit, in his feature film debut, is able to convey the innocence needed. He is finally given total access to his heroes and though he sees it, he is hesitant to write anything to lessen them in the eyes of the public and, more importantly, in his. Finally, Kate Hudson shines as "groupie" Penny Lane, who is more then just a body to Russell...she is his muse. Hudson lost the Oscar that year to Marcia Gay Harden though in my opinion she gave the best performance of the actresses nominated that year.

Of course you can't have a movie about a band without music and the songs performed by "Stillwater" are pretty catchy. Written by Frampton, Wilson and Crowe, they seem to have eminated from the early 70s, providing a proper soundtrack to the films era. Supporting work by Philip Seymour Hoffman (as rock and roll writer Lester Bangs) and "groupies" Anna Paquin and Fairuza Balk keep the film flowing when the band is off stage. Crowe has only made two films since. "Vanilla Sky," which I enjoyed; and "Elizabethtown," which nobody did. He currently is working on a Pearl Jam documentary but it would be nice to see him return to what he did best...fleshing out stories about people he cared about, which made us care about them. If John Hughes was the voice of the early 80s teens, Crowe was surely the voice of those a little bit older. Too bad the two never got together.

THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE

FIRST SEEN
: Hillsboro Drive In, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE SCENE: Catholic High School Girls in Trouble
FAVORITE LINE: "If you were thrilled by "The Towering Inferno"... if you were terrified by "Earthquake"... then you will be SCARED SHITLESS at the Samuel L. Bronkowitz production of "That's Armageddon!"

AWARDS

None :-)



Quite possibly the funniest film I have ever seen (though I must admit I think that about a lot of movies), "The Kentucky Fried Movie" was a perfect movie for a bunch of fanboys to take in at the drive in under a perfect Florida sky. For some reason, if memory serves me, it was doubled up with, of all films, "The Exorcist." Anyway, the non-stop sketches that came our way caused unparalleled laughter that still makes me smile today.

In the early 70s, friends Jim Abramson and Jerry and David Zucker formed an improvisational comedy troupe called Kentucky Fried Theater. The would put on sketches and take suggestions for parody commercials from the audience. Moving their show to California the trio decided to put some of their longer sketches on film, recruiting director John Landis to helm things. The result is some of the funniest 3 minute bits on film. Among the funniest (off the top of my head): Catholic High School Girls in Trouble, Danger Seekers, Feel-O-Round movie theatre, Zinc Oxyde and the mini-movie "A Fistful of Yen." Not to mention the many parody commericals and cameos from Barry Dennen, Donald Sutherland, Henry Gibson, Bill Bixby and even James Bond number two, George Lazenby. The film follows the still true non stop comedy assault of the ZAZ team. The gags flow non-stop so even if one doesn't necessarily work the next one does. Of course, it was the success of "The Kentucky Fried Movie" that led to the "Airplane" and "Naked Gun" series of films, a genre' that continues today (though most of them aren't as funny because they have to aim for a gentler PG 13 rating). Give me "R" rated humor anyday!

Next week we'll take a look at a film that helped launch several careers: "The Lords of Flatbush."



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.