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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #513 (Vol. 11, No. 4). This edition is for the week of January 18--24, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Quite a few thoughts this week. Shall we begin?

"Crazy Heart"  by Mike Smith
The Best and Worst of 2009  by Mike Smith
DVD Review: "Corrosion Corner"  by Will Moriaty
Absolutely Fabulous: The Fab Four  by ED Tucker
Revenge of Japanese Toy Shopping  by Jason Fetters
Life, Love and Kramer  by John Miller
Branching Out .... Golden Comments .... Movie Notes .... Money In The Bank .... Someone Got Fooled .... Passing On .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Happy to report that in addition to this fine site some of my reviews will be carried on Moviehole.net Even if you've read my review this week of "Crazy Heart," I urge you to click below and give the site a look.


I was intrigued by Nolan's piece on the front page concerning "Avatar" winning the Golden Globes for Film and Director. In looking back over the past decade, I've noticed that the Globes are not always certain harbringers of the Academy Award. In the 80s, directors such as Barbra Streisand and Clint Eastwood were honored (for "Yentl" and "Bird" respectively) long before they earned academy recognition (though technically, Streisand has never been recognized by the motion picture academy for her direction). I can almost agree with James Cameron winning the directing award because of the technical wizardry which he created for "Avatar." But I'm not sure about Best Picture. Even the Oscar has rarely gone home with the big money maker ("Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" excluded). In the past, blockbuster films like "Jaws," "Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "E.T." and others have made the short list at Oscar time but failed to win the big prize. With the nominees expanded to 10 this year, I can see "Avatar" as a Best Picture nominee but I don't think it has a chance in Pandora. Below is a list of the Golden Globe and Academy Award winners for Picture and Director to demonstrate my thoughts. Please note that the Golden Globes honor films in two categories: Drama and Musical/Comedy. This is why there are two films listed each year.



Slumdog Millionaire
Vicky Christina Barcelona

Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle won both awards

Sweeney Todd

No Country For Old Men

Julian Schnabel (GG)
Joel and Ethan Coen (AA)



The Departed

Martin Scorsese won both awards.


Brokeback Mountain
Walk the Line

Crash (this film wasn't even Globe nominated)

Ang Lee won both awards.


The Aviator

Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood won both awards.


Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Lost in Translation

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Peter Jackson won both awards.


The Hours


Martin Scorsese(GG)
Roman Polanski (AA)


A Beautiful Mind
Moulin Rouge

A Beautiful Mind

Robert Altman (GG)
Ron Howard (AA)


Almost Famous


Ang Lee (GG)
Steven Soderbergh (AA)


American Beauty
Toy Story 2

American Beauty

Sam Mendes won both awards.

Academy Award nominations will be announced next Tuesday, February 3rd.

Academy Award winning director Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo," "Wall-E") has begun principal photography in London on "John Carter of Mars." Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom Series,” the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter, who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants.
The film stars Taylor Kitsch ("X-men Origins: Wolverine") in the title role, Lynn Collins as warrior princess Dejah Thoris and two time Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe as Martian inhabitant Tars Tarkas. The cast also includes Thomas Haden Church, Polly Walker, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and Bryan Cranston. Daryl Sabara (“Spy Kids”)will play John Carter’s teenaged nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Thanks to the success of "Avatar" (as well as James Cameron's technology) George Lucas has announced plans to re-release both of his "Star Wars" trilogies in 3-D. No word on when the films will be released.

Mark Strong is busy bee. Not only will he be appearing in "John Carter of Mars" but he is also director Martin Campbells' choice to play Sinestro in the upcoming "Green Lantern" film.

Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa has been picked to star in the re-booted "Conan the Barbarian." Talks are underway with Mickey Rourke to play the young sword weilder's father.

Marc Webb, director of "(500)Days of Summer," has been chosen by Sony to helm "Spiderman 4."

With more then $500 million in domestic box office grosses, "Avatar" is closing in on "Titanic" to become the biggest blockbuster in history. However, the people at Entertainment Weekly recently compiled the top 10 box office giants with the grosses adjusted to reflect ticket price inflation. That list puts "Avatar" at number 34. The new top 10:

1. Gone With the Wind $1.49 billion
2. Star Wars (includes the 1997 Special Edition) $1.31 billion
3. The Sound of Music $1.05 billion
4. E.T. $1.04 billion
5. The Ten Commandments $963 million
6. Titanic $943 million
7. Jaws (and don't you forget it) $941 million
8. Doctor Zhivago $912 million
9. The Exorcist $813 million
10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs $801 million

Music website Spinner.com has released their list of the top 20 frontmen in rock and roll history. Not sure if I agree with it.

1. Elvis Presley
2. Freddie Mercury - Queen
3. Mick Jagger - The Rolling Stones
4. David Lee Roth - Van Halen
5. Axl Rose - Guns and Roses
6. Gene Simmons - KISS
7. Ozzy Osbourne
8. Iggy Pop - The Stooges
9. Jim Morrison - The Doors
10. Alice Cooper
11. Steven Tyler - Aerosmith
12. Bruce Dickinson - Iron Maiden
13. Bruce Sprintsteen
14. David Bowie
15. Marilyn Manson
16. Robert Smith - the Cure
17. Bono - U2
18. Rob Zombie
19. Ted Nugent
20. Robert Plant - Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant number 20???? NO Roger Daltrey? I'd love to see the criteria given to cast your vote.

We lost (2) literary giants this week:

Erich Segal, who adapted his best selling novel "Love Story" into one of the most popular films of all time, passed away at the age of 72 after suffering a heart attack. Segal received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay, which introduced the line "Love means never having to say you're sorry" into the world wide lexion.

Robert Parker, author of the popular "Spenser" series of novels, passed away at his Massachusetts home at the age of 77. Fittingly, he was found at his desk. Parker wrote almost 40 "Spenser" books as well as a series of Jesse Stone novels, of which six have been adapted for television starring Tom Sellick. In the 1980s Robert Urich starred in the television series "Spenser for Hire."

Headquarters by The Monkees

Sorcerer: Music From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Composed by Tangerine Dream

1966 had been quite a year for the pre-Fab Four group known as The Monkees. Their first two albums had sold millions and they were starring on an Emmy winning television show. However, one thing ate at the four boys. Despite a string of number one singles and albums, they were being mocked by the music industry because they were not thought of as a real band. Sure, there was some musical talent among them but all they really did was go into the studio and sing, leaving the rest of the record making process to others. The band wanted to go on tour after finishing their second season to prove they had the chops. A fight with their record producer, Don Kirshner, almost turned ugly when Mike Nesmith punched a hole in a wall next to Kirshner's head, telling him "that could have been your face!" As they were the talent that was making the money, their producers fired Kirshner and agreed to let the boys have creative input into their next album. That album is "Headquarters." To let fans know this was truly a MONKEES album, the back liner notes begin "We aren't the only musicians on this album, but the occasional extra bass or horn player played under our direction, so that this is all ours."

Produced by Turtles member Chip Douglas (who not only wrote the hit song "Convoy" but would later join with singer C.W. McCall and go on to found Manheim Steamroller), "Headquarters" contains some great tunes, written by both the band and others. Seven of the twelve songs on the album were written by the band, either alone or with others. The best known of those songs is probably Nesmith's "You Just May Be The One." Also well known is Peter Tork's "For Pete's Sake," (co-written with Joe Richards), part of which was adapted into the end theme of the groups television show. With a backlog of hits still heading towards the charts, none of the songs on "Headquarters" was ever released as a single. "Headquarters" was released in the last week of June 1967 and hit number one on the chart, a spot it would hold for one week. Unfortunately for the band, the Beatles released "Sgt Pepper" the next week, and "Headquarters" spent the next 11 weeks in second place, behind the real Fab Four. Though impressed with the record sales, NBC demanded the album be recalled due to a photo on the back showing Tork, Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz in beards. Afraid this would have an impact on the teenage girls that loved the group, future pressings of the album replaced the photo with one of Chip Douglas and recording engineer Hank Cicalo, who is credited with writing the song "No Time." Peter later recounted that the four Monkees had written the song and had given Cicalo song credit for his hard work on the album, knowing he would receive a good sized royalty check. Incidentally, when the band did go on tour that summer, their opening act was an up and coming guitar player named Jimi Hendrix.

I don't think Davy Jones was able to grow a beard back then!

It's one of those movie moments that is still crystal-clear more than three decades later. 16-year-old me riding his bicycle to the movies. At the time I lived on Oregon Street, a few blocks off of Bayshore. My destination: Horizon Park 4 -- Hillsborough and Manhattan. Quite a distance for these little legs to pedal, but important to me because that night was opening night of Roy Scheider's new film, "Sorcerer."

I entered the theatre and right at 7:30 the lights dimmed. After the coming attractions I sat in the dark, surrounded by music. After a few moments of blackness accompanied by music I left my seat to seek out the manager, sure that the bulb had burnt out in the projector. No sir, I was told. That is the prologue. I had never seen a film before that began with a musical score introduction, though I have seen them since courtesy of home video ("Gone With The Wind," "West Side Story," etc.). As the film progressed, its running time of 2 hours flew by. As I pedaled home I thought about how much I had enjoyed the movie. Roy was great, of course, but something else sttod out to me. The music. From the time I sat down with my popcorn until the end, the music, as much as the story on screen, captured my imagination.

Formed in Germany in the late 1960s by leader Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream's eerie score seemed to go hand in hand with the images on screen. When I finally got the soundtrack album I was stunned to learn one thing from the liner notes. According to director William Friedkin, he had heard TD while he was in Germany promoting "The Exorcist." He met with the band and gave them a script, describing certain scenes he was fond of. 24 months later, while on location in the middle of the Dominican Republic, he received a tape with over 90 mins of music that was imagined only through reading the script and listening to Friedkin's ideas. At no time in composing the music did the band see a foot of film. It is that fact alone that makes the "Sorcerer " soundtrack so well enjoyed and appreciated.

Since then the Dream have gone on to score other films, including parts of "Risky Business" and the Tom Cruise film "Legend." The score to "Legend" is also Hollywood legend, as a completed score by Jerry Goldsmith was already in place but, after a few poor test screenings, the producers, in an effort to hook "the kids," commissioned the Dream for a score.

To me the definition of a good film score is being able to listen to the music alone, letting the notes tell the story. The music to "Sorcerer" does that in spades.

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2010 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 ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.