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Now in our ninth calendar year!

PCR #409 (Vol. 9, No. 4) This edition is for the week of January 21--27, 2008.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Sorry for the delay. Shall we begin?

The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part 6 áby Will Moriaty
The 80th Annual Academy Award Nominations áby Mike Smith
Pirates! Pirates! Pirates! áby Terence Nuzum
DVD Grindhouse: Parts: The Clonus Horror áby Andy Lalino
Book Review: Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills áby Lisa Ciurro
FX ľ The Mike Herz Interview áby ED Tucker
Birthday Boy....New Furnishings....Politico....Rondo Awards....Masters of Horror....Heath Ledger áby Matt Drinnenberg
I've Got An Erection! .... The Anti-oscars .... The Name Is... .... Lost .... Passing On .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1969 Should Have Gone To... áby Mike Smith
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Not really. Those are the four words my friend, Andrew, sent me after viewing the teaser trailer for "Star Trek." Loosen your pants and give it a peek: http://www.paramount.com/startrek/

If the Oscar nominations for the Best of Hollywood are out then you know it's time for the Worse of Hollywood to get their due as well. The five films nominated for this year's Golden Raspberry as Worse Film of the Year are "I Know Who Killed Me," "Norbit," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," "BRATZ" and "Daddy Day Care." Last year Eddie Murphy was an Oscar nominee. This year he sets a new Razzie record by receiving an incredible (5) nominations for his contributions to "Norbit." Also, old fire-crotch herself, Lindsay Lohan, who played twins in "I Know Who Killed Me," became the first actress to receive (2) Worse Actress nods in the same year. Congratulations to all of the nominees.

The recently began James Bond film now has a title: "Quantum of Solace." The title is taken from a short story written by 007 author Ian Fleming in 1960. The 22nd film will be the first true sequel in the Bond series, picking up where "Casino Royale" ended.

OK, I'll admit right here that I don't watch "Lost." I know enough to know that these people have been on an island for along time. So why hasn't the fat guy (Jorge Garcia) lost any weight? I mean, did he eat the passengers the audience never get to see. Hell, Tom Hanks was by himself for three years in "CastAway" and his character lost 60 pounds. With all of the other people fighting for food on this island you'd think Big Boy would have dropped a couple of ounces.

What a week it's been for the famous. In all of the excitement over the passings of Brad Renfro, Allan Melvin, Susanne Pleshette, John Stewart and Heath Ledger the world forgot to say goodbye to former Chess Champion Bobby Fishcher, who beat Russian chess champion Boris Spasky in 1972, a HUGE victory in the middle of the Cold War.

Before, as promised on the home page, I give some facts about Renfro and Stewart, I need to express my profound sadness over the passing of Ledger. Like James Dean and River Phoenix, Ledger was a young actor with incredible talent. Sadly, like them, Ledger was taken from us much too early. I won't even speculate on the cause of death, because it isn't as important as the impact Heath Ledger had in such a short time. Sure, he reached the highest summit with his Oscar nominated role in "Brokeback Mountain," but it was work in smaller films like "Monster's Ball" and "The Brother's Grimm" that shone above the rest.

Brad Renfro got his start in his native Knoxville when he was cast as Mark Sway in the film adaptation of John Grisham's legal thriller, "The Client." He followed that 1994 film by appearing as a young Brad Pitt in "Sleepers." In 1998 he gave his best performance alongside Sir Ian McKellen in "Apt Pupil." Other f ilms include "Bully," "Ghost World" and the upcoming "The Informer," co-starring Billy Bob Thornton and Winona Ryder. Renfro was 25. As I prepare this no cause of death has been given.

John Stewart, singer-songwriter who influenced groups like Rick Nelson and the Eagles, also died last week. It is believed Mr. Stewart suffered a stroke. Stewart first gained attention by writing songs recorded by the Kingston Trio. In 1960 he joined with John Montgomery and Gil Robins, his high school choir teacher (and soon to be father of actor Tim Robins) to form the Cumberland 3. The next year he was asked to replace Dave Guard in the Kingston Trio, which he did until he left the group in 1967. In that year his song "Daydream Believer" was recorded by the Monkees, hitting #1 on the pop chart. He briefly teamed with another musician who had left a popular trio. He and John Denver, who was part of the Chad Mitchell trio, recorded a few songs together, including Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," but Stewart decided not to pursue the partnership, feeling Denver wasn't "commercial." Years later Stewart did appear on Denver's "Back Home Again" album. In 1979 he released his only top 10 album, "Bombs Away Dream Babies," which contained the #5 hit "Gold." With backing vocals by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, "Gold" would become his only hit record. In 1980 Anne Murray's version of "Daydream Believer" hit #1 on the country charts (#3 on the pop charts). Stewart recorded several folk themed albums the past two decades, but none of them achieved the success of "Bombs Away Dream Babies." Mr. Stewart was 68.


April 7, 1970. Time to present the Oscars for the last year of the decade, 1969. It was a year of strange distinctions. It was the year of the STRANGEST title I've ever seen on a movie poster I own: "Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?" I can't tell you if he can or not, but it's one hell of a title. It was also the year of "Krakatoa: East of Java," which got more publicity from the fact that Krakatoa is actually WEST of Java then from it's plot. "JAWS" fans (and I know you're out there) will be pleased to know that 1969 saw Richard Dreyfuss appear in his first film ("Hello Down There"), Roy Scheider in his second credited role("Stiletto") while Robert Shaw was top lining "The Royal Hunt of the Sun." And all of them were working while Burt Reynolds was starring in "Shark," a movie whose publicity campaign advertised that not only was a stunt man attacked and killed by a shark during filming, but it's all on camera so come and see it! Needless to say, none of the above films got any Oscar love that year. Let's take a look at what did:

The nominees for Best Picture that year was a diverse group, but one that seemed to fit what the Academy wanted. You had the epic (Anne of the Thousand Days), the western (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), the musical (Hello Dolly), the dramatic (Midnight Cowboy) and, for the first time, the foreign (Z). What you didn't have were two films that should have easily kicked the epic and the musical out of the way, "The Wild Bunch" and "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Both are heads above the other nominees that year. The winner was "Midnight Cowboy," still the only X-rated film to ever be honored, even though now the film would carry an R rating.

Best director was spread all over the map. The nominees were:
John Schlesinger for "Midnight Cowboy," Arthur Penn for "Alice's Restaurant," George Roy Hill for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Sydney Pollack for "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and Costa-Gavras for "Z." As was starting to be a trend in the academy, the best picture and director nominees didn't often match. Again here, the most glaring omission was Sam Peckinpah for "The Wild Bunch." Peckinpah even received a Director's Guild nomination for the film but was somehow overlooked at Oscar time. He did earn a nomination for co-writing the screenplay. Incredibly it was the only Oscar nomination of his career. The winner was Schlesinger, though my vote would have went to Pollack. Pollack did win the award in 1986 for "Out of Africa,' as did George Roy Hill for 1973's "The Sting."

Best Actor boiled down to four greats and a beloved cowboy: both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight for "Midnight Cowboy," Richard Burton for "Anne of the Thousand Days," Peter O'Toole for "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" and John Wayne for "True Grit." Can you guess who won? Yep, the Duke rode off with Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn. Great performance but pretty much you're standard John Wayne cowboy role. My vote would have gone to Hoffman's Ratzo Rizzo in "Cowboy." Hoffman later won this award twice ("Kramer vs Kramer" and "Rainman"), while Voight won it for "Coming Home." Sadly with a combined 15 nominations for Best Actor between them, neither Burton (7) or O'Toole (8) has won this award, though O'Toole did receive an honorary award a few years ago.

Best Actress was a combination of old and new: Maggie Smith in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," Genevieve Bujold in "Anne of the Thousand Days," Jean Simmons in "The Happy Ending," Liza Minelli in "The Sterile Cuckoo" and Jane Fonda in "The Shoot Horses, Don't They?" All great actresses, some just beginning stellar careers while others were at their career highlight. Again, my vote differs from the winner, as I would have chosen Fonda over Maggie Smith, who took home the award. She would also win a Supporting Actress trophy in the future. Fonda did win the Best Actress award twice, for "Klute" and "Coming Home," while Minelli would go home with Oscar a few years later for "Caberet."

In the Best Supporting Actor category, the academy got their first look at a man who would eventually win three of their awards when Jack Nicholson was nominated for "Easy Rider." Also nominated this year: Gig Young for "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," Anthony Quayle for "Anne of the Thousand Days," Elliott Gould for "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and Rupert Crosse for "The Reivers." As I had actually seen "The Reivers" at the drive in with my parents (my dad was a big Steve McQueen fan), if I'd had a vote then I would have had to go for Crosse, since that was the only performance I'd seen. Thankfully I've seen them all since and I would have had to flip a coin between Nicholson and the winner, Gig Young. As noted above, Jack would win this category for "Terms of Endearment" and take home two Best Actor trophies for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "As Good As It Gets." Gould and Quayle went on to have fine careers, though still no Oscar love. This was Crosse's last film role. Sadly he died a few years later from cancer at the age of 46. The biggest tragedy here was Young, who was an alcoholic. He never earned the opportunities the Oscar should have given him because of his drinking. Stories of him showing up on set drunk are Hollywood legend. Mel Brooks even recalls during his DVD commentary his sad duty of firing Young on the first day of filming for "Blazing Saddles" because of his problem. (Young was to play the Waco Kid, only to be replaced by Gene Wilder). Gig Young committed suicide in 1978.

Best Supporting Actress was another combination of old and new faces. Sylvia Miles ("Midnight Cowboy")led the older pack while Susannah York("They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"), Dyan Cannon ("Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"), Catherine Burns ("Last Summer") and Goldie Hawn ("Cactus Flower") represented the kids. My vote would have gone to York, so good as a marathon dance contestant in "Horses." In fact, I think the fact that I was able to see this film on the big screen is part of the impact it has had on me. The winner was Hawn, who made a career out of playing the bubble headed blonde with the heart of gold. Both Hawn, Cannon and Miles were nominated later in their careers, though they didn't win. Burns did a lot of episodic television until retiring in the mid 1980s. York, still a hottie when she played Lara, Superman's mom in "Superman the Movie," is still going strong in her native England.

Well, finally, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.