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PCR #347. (Vol. 7, No. 46) This edition is for the week of November 13--19, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Sorry for the delay. Shall we begin?

The Tampa Film Review for November áby Chris Woods and Nolan B. Canova
The Tampa Comic Con and Indie Film Fest VI áby Nolan B. Canova
"Casino Royale" áby Mike Smith
The Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival (M.I.F.F.) Returns to the East Coast....Holy Family Catholic School Celebrates 50 Years ľ A Reunion....The Florida Collectibles Show featuring Will Moriaty, Dennis LeBrun, and Charlie Carlson áby Andy Lalino
Passing On .... Thanks, Rush!... Do They Know It's Christmas? ... $60,000??? ... Juiced? ... Happy Birthday .... My Favorite Films, Part 46: "Goodfellas" áby Mike Smith
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As Nolan noted last week, as the final PCR was being put up news broke of the passing of Jack Palance. Most remembered for his Oscar winning performance in "City Slickers," Palance's career actually began 40 years earlier in the Elia Kazan film "Panic In the Street." In 1952 he earned his first Oscar nomination as the husband contemplating murder opposite Joan Crawford in "Sudden Fear." He earned nomination number two the following year for his portrayal of Jack Wilson, one of the most revered screen villains, in "Shane." He also appeared in several television dramas, including the classic Rod Serling penned "Requiem for a Heavyweight," winning an Emmy award for his work. After a decade of appearances on television and lesser films, Palance starred with Lee Marvin in the 1970 western "Monty Walsh." This led to one of my favorite performances, the vampire count in the television production of "Dracula." He also starred in his own television series, "Bronk." His career began taking off in the late 1980s with roles in "Young Guns," "Batman" and "Tango and Cash," which of course led him to being cast as Curly the trail boss in 1991s "City Slickers." His performance earned him the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award while his acceptance speech, complete with one handed pushups, earned him a place in Oscar history. Mr. Palance was 87.

We also lost two names from the world of music this week:
Gerald Levert, son of legendary O'Jay Eddie Levert and a singer in his own right, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 40. In the early 80s, he formed the group Levert, which included his brother, Sean, and Mark Gordon. They put many songs on the charts including "Casanova" and "Just Coolin'." While still in the group, Levert released a solo album, "Private Line," which went to #1 on the R&B chart. In 1995 he recorded the album, "Father and Son," with his dad.
Basil Poledouris, composer of some of the most popular sci/fi and fantasy film scores, died of cancer last week. He was 61. Born in Kansas City (I didn't know that), he attended college at the University of Southern California, where his classmates included future filmmakers John Milius and Randall Kleiser. His first film score was for the "Jaws" rip-off "Tintorera," in 1977. He then worked with his former school chums by scoring Milius' "Big Wednesday" and Kleiser's "The Blue Lagoon." It was his score for Milius' "Conan" that first brought Poledouris acclaim. He worked with Milius again on "Red Dawn," and began a long time collaboration with Paul Verhoeven by scoring "Flesh and Blood." He would later score "Robocop" and "Starship Troopers" for the Dutch filmmaker. Other film scores include "Iron Eagle" and "The Hunt for Red October." Poledouris also won an Emmy for his music for the acclaimed mini series, "Lonesome Dove."

I know in the past I have taken my shots at Mr. Limbaugh, but this week I thought I would thank him for his help in passing the stem cell research bill here in Missouri, which won by a margin of less then 12,000 votes. In exit pole interviews, many voters claimed that Limbaugh's attacks on Michael J. Fox was their deciding factor in voting for the amendment. I told you, you don't mess with Marty McFly!

No, I'm not singing the Band-Aid song from years past. I'm asking this because earlier this week the US Marine Corps, which for years has collected donated toys in the Toys for Tots campaign, turned down an offer from the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company which had offered to donate 4,000 of it's talking Jesus dolls. Bill Green, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation said the offer was turned down because, "we can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Muslim family." WHAT? Since when do Muslims celebrate Christmas? "Kids want a gift for the holiday season that is fun," Green added. Maybe Hasbro can make up some GI JOE - SUICIDE BOMBER dolls for the little tykes? As I write this, news is that Green has decided to accept the Jesus dolls. Which makes sense since, if not for Jesus there wouldn't even be a Christmas.

I don't know what's more crazy - that someone paid $11,000 for a Playstation 3 on Ebay today or that the seller had the balls to charge the dumb bastard another sixty bucks to ship it! For 11 grand I'd fly the damn thing to you. Personally, I'm waiting until mid January when they'll start hitting the pawn shops!

Earlier this year, OJ Simpson was part of a video project that included him trying to sell his infamous white Bronco, only to tell the perspective buyers that they had just been "Juiced." Now comes word that OJ will show up on Fox television at the end of the month to promote his new book entitled "If I Did It," which purports to be OJ's thoughts on HOW he would have killed his wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman, IF he did it. Hmmmmm, let's see- CHAPTER ONE - I spring out of the bushes and cut their fucking heads off. I then yell, "You've been JUICED, BITCH!" The end. I just saved you $29.95. You're welcome.

This is becoming a running theme. Happy #64 to Martin Scorsese. And and that note, we cue the music:

Starring: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

FIRST SEEN: Westview 14, Baltimore, Maryland
FAVORITE LINE: "Go home and get your fucking shine box."
FAVORITE SCENE: In the restaurant - "What the fuck is so funny about me?"

  • Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Pesci) Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Bracco), Film Editing and Adapted Screenplay (Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi) - based on Pileggi's book.
  • BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing and Costume Design. BAFTA nominations for Best Actor (DeNiro) and Cinematography.
  • Director's Guild of America Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures.
  • Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture/Drama, Director, Best Supporting Actor (Pesci), Best Supporting Actress (Bracco) and Best Screenplay.
  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film, Director and Supporting Actor (Pesci).
  • Writer's Guild of America Award nomination for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

    Monday, March 25, 1991. Oscar night. Normally you'd find me at home with a group of friends at my annual Oscar party. However, tonight I'm in New York City because I have tickets to the David Letterman show. Keeping with the spirit of the evening, my friend Ben and I have brought our own "Oscar" to give to Dave and we happily give it to an assistant that works the line prior to our being admitted to the theatre. Not sure if Dave ever got it, but the thought was there. The highlight of the show was my brief appearance on camera which caused the following conversation miles away in Leavenworth, Kansas:

    Marla (my ex-wife), who is watching television: "Oh my God, it's Mike Smith!"
    Mark (her husband), who is in the other room: "At the door?"
    Marla: No, on tv.

    That night also saw the film once laughed at as "Kevin's Gate," Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves," win seven of the twelve Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture and Best Director. Sigh.

    The story of real life mobster Henry Hill, "Goodfellas" was an inside look at organized crime that had never been seen before. Taking a job as a "runner" while still in school, Henry (Liotta) grows up to be one of the mob along with his good friends Jimmy (DeNiro) and Tommy (Pesci). These are basically three musketeers of crime, having fun while living the good life. While Henry is the sweet one and Jimmy the tough one, it is Tommy that is feared most. A little guy with a bad temper, Tommy would sooner shoot you dead or stomp you on the bar floor than think you disrespected him. I can't think of another actor that can convey that kind of attitude the Joe Pesci, who has a talent of appearing friendly and threatening at the same time. I refer to my favorite scene, where Pesci puts the fear of God in Henry after he makes a comment that Tommy is "a funny guy." It's only after he's seen the fear on Henry's face that Tommy laughs along with him. The true skill in Pesci's performance comes after he has been insulted by another mobster, Billy Batts, who, himself feeling insulted, reminds Tommy of his younger days as a shoeshine boy by telling him to "go home and get your fucking shine box!" In a furious rage, Tommy beats Batts to the floor in Henry's club and then proceeds to stomp on him with his shoes. Later, as they are cleaning up the mess, a subdued Tommy turns to Henry and says, almost apologetically, "I didn't want to get blood on your floor." Thankfully I taped the Oscars that night and I applauded along with the audience when Pesci's name was announced. Always gracious and obviously at a loss for words, Pesci delivered one of the shortest acceptance speeches in Oscar history, "This is an honor and a privilege. Thank you."

    Besides Pesci, the film also gave big boosts to the careers of Liotta and Bracco, and gave a juicy role to Paul Sorvino. Like many of his actresses, Scorsese directed Bracco to an Oscar nomination (she lost to Whoopi Goldberg for "Ghost"). Scorsese also shows his knack for using music to highlight a scene, particularly when a montage of Jimmy's killings are presented accompanied by the Coda from "Layla."

    Yes, "Dances with Wolves" won the big prize, but "Goodfellas" will always be remembered by me as the best film of 1990.

    Next week we'll take a look at what used to be a Thanksgiving television tradition and go over the rainbow to see "The Wizard of Oz".

    Well, that's it. Have a great week. See ya!

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.