Category Archives: Pop Culture

Sinister Sojourns


    Isn’t the best part about movie remakes comparing them against the original? Or given that today’s moviemakers take such license, the “source material.” Title and characters remain unchanged but the newer efforts detour and slalom moments after the premise has been established.

    Recently the 2010 remake of And Soon the Darkness lent me an opportunity to see how far storytelling has advanced. My interest in both films stems from a distinctly modern actress, Amber Heard. She’d been a bunny on NBC’s short-lived Playboy Club. Maybe that program would still be in production if Frank Ballinger from M Squad, and Crime Story‘s Mike Torello and Ray Luca (all characters from TV series also set in early 1960s Chicago) had run tabs there.

    Heard filled out her bunny costume and shook her tail nicer than I remembered happening inside the actual clubs themselves. Of course today I have much greater appreciation of such nuances. Continue reading Sinister Sojourns

Down the Line

 

    Despite the sad circus my place of employment has become, there’s still work to be done.

    On what would’ve been singer-songwriter Buddy Holly’s 75th birthday I kept an appointment in Saratoga Springs. While I wished we could’ve met at the horse track, preferably between educated selections of The Racing Form (a publication whose pages are prayed over more than any evangelical’s Bible), alas, the clients preferred wagering on whether our company could fulfill their request.

    One puckishly hopes we labeled the Saratoga Springs job “Longshot” and not “Out of the Money.” Continue reading Down the Line

Graphic Thrills

 

 

    More than an “s” differentiates the Boris Vian novella I Spit on Your Graves from both schlock movie versions of I Spit on Your Grave. Nor does the former serve as source material for the latter pair.

    Book and movies arrive from distinct places.

    Vian’s 1946 tale is an oozing helping of exported Americana strained through culture, news, music, and propaganda into France. While the United States and Soviet Union won World War II, it would take Stalin’s death and Khrushchev’s admissions of the deceased commissar’s criminal excesses before the workers’ paradise gleam assumed a rightfully heavy tarnish.

    Until that happy day America alone occupied the whole ambivalence spectrum.

    Each movie follows one simple arc. A damsel in distress turns tables on her tormentors and becomes Ellie Mae Clampett on meth. It’s carnage deluxe. Continue reading Graphic Thrills

Without Sin

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    One of the pleasures Netflix threatens by its streaming-only service is discovery and enjoyment of obscure films. Oh, certainly, the Emmanuelle series and the Adam Sandler/Jack Black/Will Ferrell oeuvres will always be among us.

    Those as well as loud expensive action movies that emerge from games played by arrested adolescents under sugar shock are also safe. Present-day Hollywood is at it’s most creative when it comes to sequels, tie-ins, spin-offs, no?

    Dispute that? Okay. The last engaging character driven film you watched which lacked a telephone directory long special effects end credits was … ?

    The emphasis in streaming video will pluck fresh product, regardless of how insipid. As years proceed, “classics,” or should you prefer, mostly black & white code movies which relied on clever dialogue, suggestive camera angles, moody lighting, and smarter-than-today’s audiences, will be dispensed in eye-dropper fashion.

    This constriction will further burden and limit foreign language movies. (Americans can’t be bothered with subtitles. Machete don’t text and Americans don’t read. All that lip moving gets noisy in theaters.) Continue reading Without Sin