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Film | Anorak - Part 8

Film Category

Includes cinema reviews and trailers for upcoming films. A digest of the best and worst interviews on movies and cinema.

Because They All Look The Same: London Paper Mistakes Dwight Henry For Chiwetel Ejiofor

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IN this episode of ‘They all look alike regardless of facial features, height, age, skin tones, hair voices and bodies’ the Lambeth Weekender salutes Forest Gate’s Chiwetel Ejiofor for his work on the film 12 Years A Slave.

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Posted: 13th, February 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film | Comment (1)


When You Wish Upon A Star: Exploring the Spirituality of Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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THE second-highest grossing film of 1977 (right behind George Lucas’s Star Wars) was Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of The Third Kind, a science fiction film concerning mankind’s first official contact with alien life-forms.

Close Encounter’s narrative also involves the mystery behind alien abductions and the truth regarding a government conspiracy to keep the existence of UFOs a secret.

Throughout the film Spielberg cross-cuts between two major plot-lines: a scientist’s (Francois Truffaut’s) efforts to develop a language so as to communicate with the visiting aliens, and one blue-collar worker’s (Richard Dreyfuss) personal journey to better understand their uncomfortable — but growing — presence in his daily life…and inside his very head.

Importantly, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) was described by Science Digest as a film that is “tantamount to faith.”

The same publication noted too that Close Encounters’ sense of faith, so “wondrous and thoroughly spiritual – is registered in nearly every frame, reaching a climax in its messianic ending.”(Joy Boyom, Feb 1978, p.17).

Similarly, Gregory Richards’ monograph, Science Fiction Movies (Gallery Books, 1984, p.61) contextualizes Spielberg’s disco-decade UFO epic “as more of a religious film than a science fiction one.”

 So the primary question that viewers must reckon with regarding this cult classic is: why have so many reviewers contextualized the Spielberg film as one of an overtly religious nature? Does an understanding of the religious allegory open up new avenues for understanding this work of art?

Or contrarily, does the religious explanation of Close Encounters only serve to cloud the secular, humanist message beating at the movie’s heart?

 

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Close Encounters as Religious Allegory

In part, the categorization of Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a film about spirituality and faith arises because Steven Spielberg’s movie so abundantly features what David A Cook, author of Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970 – 1979, calls “an aura of religious mystery.” (University of California Press, 2000, p.47).

Roy Neary — much like the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus according to Paul Flesher and Robert Torry in Film and Religion: An Introduction — experiences a kind of spiritual dawning or awakening.

 In particular, Neary sees a UFO and hears the call of the aliens (transmitted via a telepathically implanted, subconscious “message” or “vision.”)

At first he does not understand the alien message. What is the meaning of the strange thoughts in his head? Why does he feel compelled to undertake a pilgrimage –– a journey to a location of great importance to one’s faith — to some mountain he has witnessed seen only in his mind?

Eventually, however, Neary surrenders to the vision, to his faith. He forsakes all his worldly belongings and connections — including his family — in a devoted (and perhaps mad…) attempt to understand why he has been “chosen” to hear this call from a (literally) Higher Power.

Clearly, Neary seeks communion with the message’s sender…with a stand-in for God. His quest in Close Encounters thus reflects Scripture and Romans in particular. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Here, Neary has heard and honored that word, but it is the words of the aliens.

Neary’s hardship and trials are eventually vindicated. At last, he meets the aliens at the mountain of his vision (ironically at a place called Devil’s Tower), and then watches as a version of the second coming of Christ is re-enacted before his eyes.

According to Flesher and Torry (Abindgon Press, 2007, p.200), the returned abductees whom the aliens release from their landed mother ship symbolically represent the dead rising, or the resurrection of the dead as foretold in Scripture. And furthermore, the ascent of the alien craft to outer space with one of the faithful (Neary) ensconced aboard it similarly represents the Christian rapture, the trip to Heaven, essentially.

 

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Even the physical appearance of the aliens in Close Encounters might be readily interpreted as strongly reflecting Christian apotheosis.

In form, the extra-terrestrial bodies “have no clear blemishes or gender, suggesting that superior beings transcend the normal categories of physical existence and approach the ethereal qualities associated with spirits and angels,” notes scholar Eric Michael Mazur, (Encyclopedia of Religion and Faith (ABLC-CLIO, LLC 2011, page 388).

 

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In his final ascent to the stars, to Heaven, Roy Neary is wholly affirmed in his unyielding faith and belief in the vision he received, over his wife’s cynicism and stubborn skepticism, and over the U.S. Government’s attempt to “control” the meeting of man and alien.

In some sense, Close Encounters is all about taking a leap of faith, and that very idea finds resonance in one of Spielberg’s compositions. Confronted with the government lie about a deadly and toxic nerve gas spill in Wyoming (near Devil’s Tower), Neary chooses to “believe” his own narrative instead. He rips off his protective gas mask and breaths the purportedly contaminated air. But he is proven right…he survives, and his faith is replenished.

 

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Given the alien angels, the metaphor for the Second Coming and even this leap of faith, the overall effect, therefore, of this cinematic journey is indeed, well, rapturous.

Strangely, however, there is a dark aspect to this story of religious awakening that one must also weigh.

While it is true that Roy Neary transitions from an unhappy and spiritually bereft life to one of faith and purpose, the cost of such knowledge of God (or God surrogate, in this case) is his very family. In the act of proving his faith and his worthiness of being “born again” in the stars, Roy abandons his family on Earth. This abandonment is literal, not metaphorical.

The non-believers — including his children — get “left behind” to toil in the world without his guidance or even presence. And again, the message could be interpreted as strongly religious.

If you don’t “believe,” you don’t get saved.

Lastly, even Close Encounters’ famous tag-line “We Are Not Alone,” could be easily parsed in a religious, “God is my co-pilot” sense.

 

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Close Encounters as a Secular Film about Self-Fulfillment

An alternate reading of Close Encounters suggests this cinematic work of art from Spielberg is actually a humanist film, the secular tale of a man who chooses to no longer be enslaved to society’s destructive constructs (including government, career, and family), and to follow his own individual path instead.

The story, again, is of Neary breaking free of constraints, but the breaking free in this reading is from a society that lies, cover-ups, and demands his perpetual unhappiness for its continuance.

The fact that Spielberg plays the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” at the conclusion of Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the primary support for this reading.

One lyric in that composition suggests a direct rebuke of faith, or religious identification. When you wish upon a star it “makes no difference who you are,” the song goes. In other words, you need not be affiliated with any particular group or belief system if you hope to achieve your dreams. You need not believe in God or a higher power. Instead, if you must merely “wish” and voice your “dreams,” you will be rewarded for following the best angels of your — human — nature.

In terms of history, Close Encounters of the Third Kind followed closely on many frissons in American politics, and this context, likewise, suggests a more humanist reading.

President Richard Nixon had been toppled in the Watergate Scandal in 1974, for example. His resignation and culpability in illegal activity suggested that “faith” or “belief” in the pillar of leadership was not such a good idea.

Similarly, the Vietnam War had ended in ignominy for the U.S. in 1975. The cause that so many Americans fought for (and died for…) was lost, and this very idea seems reflected in Close Encounters’ final scene.

There, a line of carefully vetted and approved government officials (surrogates for soldiers in Vietnam?) are overlooked by the aliens in favor of the “Everyman,” Roy Neary.

By contrast to these seemingly emotionless, expressionless, thoughtless drones, he is a man who chose explicitly not to believe the fairy tales his government was peddling. He has thus established his independence and his resourcefulness outside of Earthly and national considerations.

 

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In this reading, the “leap of faith” of taking off the gas mask is actually the dawning awareness that — because of Watergate and Vietnam — the U.S. Government could no longer be trusted, or be considered an agent for honesty.

But again, in this reading of Close Encounters, one must reckon with Neary’s pure selfishness, his very questionable decision to leave his children and wife behind for his own individual “self-fulfillment.” And again, one must note that very idea of “sweet fulfillment” is explicitly voiced in the lyrics to the song “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Yet I would suggest that Neary’s act of leaving his family (and his government, and his job…) behind in 1977 would not have been looked at by many audience members as purely a bad thing.

One must recall that the 1970s was determinedly the decade of the “self,” a fact reflected in the hedonism of disco music, and the blazing ascent in popularity of the “self-help” book genre. Popular buzz-words of the day included “self-realization” and — sound familiar? — “self-fulfillment.”

Yet as the movement of “self” grew in the late 1970s, many people were concerned that the new ethos was merely one of “self-involvement. The consumption-oriented life-style of immediate gratification soon gave rise to President Carter’s notorious 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech, which warned against judging success on material wealth rather than intrinsic human qualities of character and morality.

Meanwhile, the nation kept building more shopping malls, and imagined worlds futuristic (Logan’s Run) and apocalyptic (Dawn of the Dead) set at these new shrines to materialism.  he 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake deals explicitly with this notion too, of the idea of people “moving in and out of relationships too fast” because they wanted to be happy and fulfilled, all the time.

But in a way, this is what Close Encounters concerns as well. Roy Neary helps himself, finally, to achieve his “dream,” even if his family can’t share in that dream. He gets what he wants — to go with the benevolent aliens to the stars — and in the late 1970s, this result is what qualified as a happy ending.

 

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In his text How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity (Three Rivers Press, 1997, page 291) author Bruce Bawer wrote of Close Encounters of the Third Kind that “salvation, meaning, and transcendence come down from the Heavens in a spaceship.”  The question to ponder today involves the brand of salvation and transcendence.

Is it a spiritual reckoning, or a secular one that the alien spaceship brings with it?

It is a testament to Spielberg’s skill, perhaps, as a filmmaker and storyteller, that Close Encounters can be interpreted through two such opposite lenses or world-views.

Posted: 12th, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (3)


Stairway To Heaven? Six Genre Movies That Depict The After-Life

   brainstorm6

 

THE greatest unanswered question of human life is, paradoxically, about death.

What follows our duration on this mortal coil?

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Posted: 11th, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (2)


Childhood’s End: The Five Most Terrifying Movies Made From A Child’s Perspective

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ALFRED Hitchcock once remarked that every person understands fear, because everyone was once a child.  “After all,” he declared, “weren’t we all afraid as children?”.

According to the authors of Monsters under the Bed and Other Childhood Fears (Random House; 1993, page 1), “childhood is a time of many fears” and children between the ages of six and twelve “experience an average of seven different fears.

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Posted: 6th, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (4)


12 Stupendous Movie Tagline Fails

THEY had one job. Just write a single sentence about a movie.  It’s not quantum physics. After millions of dollars spent and many months of filming and editing, it comes down to the humble tagline writer to simply scrawl a few words together.  Alas, this task is often too much to bear, and a movie poster is forever besmirched by a woefully inadequate blurb which undercuts all the hard work.  Perhaps it’s not so easy to condense an entire film into a few words; whatever the case, here are a few examples where tag lines fail.

 

Loose Shoes (1980)

taglines (10)

There won’t be a dry seat in the house.

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Posted: 5th, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (3)


Three Hats For Lisa: Swinging London And Sid James Gives The Greatest Musical Performance In Cinema History

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IS this the greatest musical performance in cinema history?

Joe Brown, French-born Sophie Hardy (who played the eponymous Lisa Milan), Sid James, Una Stubbs and Dave Nelson hit the big screen – in colour – with the 1964 release of Three Hats For Lisa.

 

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YouTuber RetrunerMan reveals the plot:

It’s a Swinging London romp as Joe (Johnnie) tties to help Lisa Milan, played by Sophie Hardy, to find three typically British hats for her collection. Probably not too difficult, only she wants to steal them instead of buy them. Oh, and one is a coppers helmet!

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Posted: 5th, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment (1)


“They’re Dead. They’re All Messed Up” – How George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead Recreates the Unrest of 1968

THE AMC original TV series Mad Men (2007 – ) set its latest season against a disquieting historical backdrop: the turbulent events of the year 1968.

Specifically, Matthew Weiner’s award-winning period drama book-ended the season with allusions to two classic genre films from that year: Franklin Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.

Both are excellent selections that showcase, respectively, global and spiritual apocalypse.

Yet there is another film — one released on October 1st, 1968 — that also represents perfectly the turmoil of America during that season: George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

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Today — due in large part to another AMC series, The Walking Dead (2010 – ), which is now airing the final portion of its fourth season — the zombie is arguably more popular a monster than ever before in genre history.  Since Night of the Living Dead is its acknowledged spiritual and historical antecedent, the original film is thus eminently worthy of a re-watch in 2014.

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Posted: 3rd, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (2)


Watch Philip Seymour Hoffman Rock Three Parts In The Fifteen Minute Hamlet

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IN 1995, Philip Seymour Hoffman played Bernardo, Horatio and Laertes in Todd Louiso’s 1995 version of Tom Stoppard’s 1976 play The Fifteen Minute Hamlet. Stoppard has enjoyed a hit with his Hamlet spin-off Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In this play, Stoppard strips down Shakespeare’s play into 13 minutes – plus a two-minute encore.

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Posted: 2nd, February 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment


Back To The Future: Once An Awful Film, Now Set To Be An Awful Musical

Actor Michael J. Fox, right, greets fans outside the theatre on Nov. 20, 1989 in Universial City, California where his latest film, "Back to the Future Part II," premiered.(AP Photo/kevord djansezian)

Actor Michael J. Fox, right, greets fans outside the theatre on Nov. 20, 1989 in Universial City, California where his latest film, “Back to the Future Part II,” premiered.(AP Photo/kevord djansezian)

HATE to break it to you ’80s nostalgiaists, but Back To The Future sucks. Basically, the whole story is about a boy who looks like he’s thirty, getting his own way like some brat, nearly getting off with his mum, stealing the invention of rock ‘n’ roll from the true innovators and gave birth to irritating people demanding hoverboards because we now live in the future.

And now, all the terrible action will be recreated in a stage musical, set to debut in London’s West End in 2015. Hopefully, it’ll be like Planet Of The Apes: The Musical, as seen in The Simpsons.

Good news for fans though as Robert Zemeckis, who co-wrote and directed the ’85 flick, will be reuniting with co-writer Bob Gale to recreate it for the stage.

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Posted: 31st, January 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film | Comment


The Hobbit: 10 Guaranteed Improvements

THE Hobbit is a long-winded, grinding, ego-driven borefest. But it can be improved. The sequel could be better. Here are 10 Tips:

 

Posted: 27th, January 2014 | In: Film | Comment


Quentin Tarantino Ditches ‘Hateful Eight’ Thanks To Script Leak

UH-OH. Quentin Tarantino is declaring war on Hollywood after someone leaked the script for ‘Hateful Eight’. Only six people have seen the script itself, and Quentin is naming names. Bruce Dern is one and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ stars Tim Roth and Michael Madsen are two more.

 

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He said: “I’m very, very depressed. I finished a script, a first draft, and I didn’t mean to shoot it until next winter, a year from now. I gave it to six people, and apparently it’s gotten out today. I like the fact that people like my shit, and that they go out of their way to find it and read it. But I gave it to six motherfucking people!”

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Posted: 22nd, January 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film | Comment


‘Devil Baby’ Spooks Unsuspecting New Yorkers

RECENTLY, a few well-meaning New Yorkers stopped to check on a crying baby in an abandoned stroller and got seriously spooked when a hideous demonic baby shot straight up from beneath the blankets.

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Posted: 16th, January 2014 | In: Film | Comment


Hey Hey! It’s The Razzies! Grown-Ups 2 Could Sweep The Board

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TOO frequently, the world of entertainment is very willing to pat itself on the back and gush all over itself about just how wonderful it has been all year.

However, with the shade that is the grisly business of an industry awards ceremony, comes the light of someone simply blowing a raspberry at the whole thing and waggling their arses.

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Posted: 15th, January 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film | Comment


British Board of Film Classification Gets All Wussy Over Horror Films

American actors Bruce Davison (left) and Ernest Borgnine in a scene from the horror film "Willard"

American actors Bruce Davison (left) and Ernest Borgnine in a scene from the horror film “Willard”

 

WITH cinema a feeble force in today’s world of Grab What You Want, When You Want It media, it seems those in charge are determined to make it all even weaker.

Cinema’s make you leave the house, sell you lousy food, half deafen you with badly mixed bass tracks on films, stink up your nostrils with bleach and, worst of all, force you to watch films with dreadful chattering strangers. All for a million pound per viewing.

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Posted: 13th, January 2014 | In: Film, Reviews | Comment


As Hitler’s Boxer Said To The Actress: Silent Anny Ondra Was Hitchcock’s Star Of Britain’s First ‘Talkie’

IN1929 almost everyone in the British film industry was convinced that the newfangled talking films would be nothing but a flash in the pan. But as the director Michael Powell once said of that time, “some flash, some pan”. Hitchcock knew before most that the era of silent films was over – “nobody wants ‘em,” he said to the aforementioned Powell, “they’re a dead duck”. So Hitchcock borrowed some German equipment and halfway through directing Blackmail he started to make a sound version of the same film and this, subsequently, became Britain’s first ‘talkie’.

 

 

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Posted: 12th, January 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment


Tom Mix Was Hollywood’s Original Cowboy Tough Guy (Photo)

TOM Mix – January 6, 1880 – October 12, 1940 – was an American silent film actor who starred in hundreds of films.

 

TOM MIX FIRES FROM HORSE: 1920

TOM MIX FIRES FROM HORSE: 1920

 

*  In all, he made 336 feature films, produced 88, wrote 71 and directed 117. Tom made only 9 sound feature films and the 15-chapter serial “Miracle Rider.”

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Posted: 10th, January 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment


Are Disney ‘Gender Bigots’? Meryl Streep Thinks So…

This is a December 23, 1965 photo of film animator and producer Walter Disney, in his office pretending to read a script with a dog, seated behind Disney's desk. (AP Photo)

This is a December 23, 1965 photo of film animator and producer Walter Disney, in his office pretending to read a script with a dog, seated behind Disney’s desk. (AP Photo)

DISNEY are a problematic bunch at the best of times, and unfortunately for them, they’ve been very successful and for a long, long time, which means they’re subject to the kind of scrutiny that not many other organisations are.

Tough titty.

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Posted: 9th, January 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film, Reviews | Comment


Proof: DVD Covers Are Rubbish

IT’S UNFORGIVABLE  to squander excellent source material in favour of garbage.  Anyone who read World War Z and saw the film can vouch for that.  Well, the same sad fact is true for most DVD covers.  An excellent movie poster exists, but the distributor opts for a poor substitute thrown together and Photoshopped in two minutes.

Before anyone points out that movie posters have an edge via larger canvas size –  I’ll acknowledge that.  But there’s plenty of awesome paperback artwork – the smaller canvas didn’t seem to handicap Frank Frazetta or Robert McGinnis. So, I’m not going to give DVD covers a pass.

No excuses.  And to prove my point I’m going to show you some side by side comparisons (DVD abominations are always on the right).  Young children may want to shield their eyes.

 

Meatballs

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Posted: 8th, January 2014 | In: Film, Flashback | Comment (1)


The Baftas 2014 Nominations Are Announced!

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2014’s Bafta film nominations have been announced, which is particularly good news for London’s cocaine dealers as they prep themselves for one of their busiest awards of the year.

Leading the pack is Gravity with 11 nominations and true stories dominate the main categories (which probably means all our fiction writers are either rubbish or they’ve given up through a lack of funding) with all but two films (Gravity and The Selfish Giant) falling into that pocket.

It’ll be a good night for Dame Judi Dench too. She’s got a nod for Philomena, which gives her a whopping total of 15 Bafta film nominations – the most nominated actress in the history of the event.

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Posted: 8th, January 2014 | In: Film, TV & Radio | Comment


5 Inconceivably Awkward 80s Movie Moments

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Andrea Howard and Don Adams in the Inconceivably Awkward film The Nude Bomb

BEFORE we carry on with the list, let’s define what we’re talking about here.  “Inconceivably Awkward” simply means it contains both of the following qualities:

  1. It is so terrifyingly uncomfortable you instinctively flinch as if you’ve been punched squarely in the genitals.
  2. It is so unimaginably awful you question whether the director suffered head trauma and should seek medical attention.

I should also mention that this isn’t a “top five” list as there’s plenty worse out there.  These are just five scenes (plus a runner-up) which spring instantly to mind when thinking of the worst of the worst.

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Posted: 7th, January 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment


The Rock-afire Explosion: World’s Greatest Anamatronic Band Are Back For One Last Show

THE animatronic band of animals that once rocked the Showbiz Pizza Place restaurants have been reprogrammed by fan Chris Thrash to play Pop, Lock and Drop It.

Pizza and robots. Live the dream, kids.

 

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The Rock-afire Explosion rock on. Before the song, let’s introduce the band:

Billy Bob Brockali (bear / bass)
Fatz Geronimo (gorilla / keyboards)
Mitzi Mozzarela (mouse /vocals)
Dook LaRue (dog / drums)
Beach Bear (bear / guitar)
Rolfe & Earl (wolf / puppeteer)
Looney Bird (bird / vocals)

 

 

Inventor Aaron Fechter’s band starred in The Rock-afire Explosion, a documentary about their lives and loves:

* The movie focuses on one fan in particular, a small-town roller-rink DJ from Alabama by the name of Chris Thrash. Thrash has actually installed a fully working version of the Rock-afire Explosion in his home, and eventually brought the group new exposure in the 2000′s when he began programming the robots to sing along to current popular music and released videos of it on Youtube.

 

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Fechter’s story of how he came to create the Rock-afire Explosion is told in the movie, and it’s an interesting and even inspiring one – a struggling inventor trying to door-to-door sell a pool-cleaning device he had created, he just happened to knock on the door of a businessman looking for someone to build him a mechanically operated shooting gallery.

 

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In 2013, the guys and gals played with Cee Lo Green:

* We’ve seen the RF band appear in music videos and feature films, and today the band takes up residency as part of Cee Lo Green’s live Vegas show at Planet Hollywood opening the show with a rousing Rock-afire rendition of “F*** You”.

See them play Nine Inch Nails, and The Black Eyed Peas.

 

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According to the imdb:

* “The Rock-afire Explosion” is the story of a small-town disc-jockey, a struggling inventor, and an animatronic rock band, that quickly becomes an eccentric portrait of childhood memories, broken dreams, and the resilience of the human spirit.

 

 

In this clip the band plays Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) by Arcade Fire:

 

In October 2013, Aaron Fechter’s downtown Orlando warehouse fell victim to an exploding gas tank. The Rock-afire Explosion went ka-boom.

* An inventor with a flair for music and a degree in finance, Fechter was a CEO and millionaire before he was 30. In 1982, Fortune Magazine called him “a prodigy of automatons,” when his creatures — created in the Orlando warehouse — became headliners at ShowBiz Pizza Placejoints across the country…

As ShowBiz expanded, so did Fechter’s company, Creative Engineering Inc… At its peak, CEI had 300 employees building 70 shows a year. Fortune said each cost $90,000.

When ShowBiz opened its 100th store — in Texas — Fechter donned a Billy Bob suit and arrived by helicopter to mingle with fans. “It was like being a rock star,” he says.

But like every good rock-‘n’-roll story, it couldn’t last. And in 1983, Fechter got a call from ShowBiz. Stop production, the company said, we’re not opening any more restaurants. The company had grown too quickly, expenses had soared, and ShowBiz couldn’t afford Fatz and friends.

ShowBiz merged with rival Chuck E. Cheese, which was also struggling, ultimately asking for the rights to the Rock-afire Explosion. Fechter refused.

“These were my characters, and I thought I might do something with them in the future,” he said. “So I walked away.”

 

If you like what you’ve heard, the whole film is here:

Posted: 6th, January 2014 | In: Film, Music | Comment


Watch The Day The Clown Cried: Jerry Lewis’s Holocaust Horror Show

THE Day The Clown Cried is an unreleased 1972 Jerry Lewis film. It’s the story of a clown who finds himself in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Like the Aryan Papers, Stanley Kubrick’s Holocaust drama, Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis and David O Russell’s Nailed (a small town waitress gets a nail accidentally lodged in her head causing unpredictable behavior that leads her to Washington, DC) you won’t have seen it.

 

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The film ends in a gas chamber, with the clown going in to face his death with a group of terrified children, trying to make them laugh in order take away their fear. It ends with them all locked in, the kids laughing as the clown juggles stale bread.

 

American comedian Jerry Lewis performs as a clown at the 38th Gala de L'Union des Artistes at the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris, France, April 24, 1971. Watching in the background are, from left, Italian film director and producer Vittorio de Sicca, opera singer Maria Callas, unidentified woman, Italian actress Gigliola Cinmetti and French singer Hughes Aufray.

American comedian Jerry Lewis performs as a clown at the 38th Gala de L’Union des Artistes at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris, France, April 24, 1971. Watching in the background are, from left, Italian film director and producer Vittorio de Sicca, opera singer Maria Callas, unidentified woman, Italian actress Gigliola Cinmetti and French singer Hughes Aufray.

 

Why did he make it?

 

JerryLewis.com has more:

In 1971, producer Nate Waschberger asked Jerry to direct and star in “The Day the Clown Cried”, based on Joan O’Brien’s book by the same name, about a German clown who was arrested by the Gestapo, interred in a concentration camp, and used to march Jewish children into the ovens. Jerry lost close to 40 pounds to play the role. The shooting began in Stockholm, but Waschberger not only ran out of money to complete the film, but he failed to pay Joan O’Brien the money she was owed for the rights to the story. Jerry was forced to finish the picture with his own money. The film has been tied up in litigation ever since, and all of the parties involved have never been able to reach an agreeable settlement. Jerry hopes to someday complete the film, which remains to this day, a significant expression of cinematic art, suspended in the abyss of international litigation.

 

clown cried

 

Why was it never released? In 2009, Lewis spoke with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When I asked you about The Day the Clown Cried, you shut me down pretty quickly.
JERRY LEWIS: Why do I want to go there? If you want to play 10 Questions with me, you can ask me any 10 questions you want about it and you’ll get a pretty good amount of answers. And it will only be to satisfy you that it’s not so shut-down because you’re a nice man and I’m comfortable with you. I’ll give you 10 questions.

You’re serious?
Yeah.

Okay, I better weigh them…
I’ve never done this before, I’d like to see what I come up with. Don’t f— this up, Chris!

Do they have to be yes/no questions?
No, I didn’t say that. That’s kind of limiting.

Will I ever see The Day the Clown Cried?
He writes on a piece of white paper in green ink: NO.

Is there more than one copy of the film?
He writes: NO.

Is the film in a safe somewhere?
Yes, yeah.

Okay, number four: is the reason the film has not been released because you are unhappy with it?
He writes: Yes/No.
Which doesn’t mean that Yes, I’m unhappy with the work that I did. But who am I preserving it for? No one’s ever gonna see it. But the preservation that I believe is that, when I die, I’m in total control of the material now. Nobody can touch it. After I’m gone, who knows what’s going to happen? I think I have the legalese necessary to keep it where it is. So I’m pretty sure that it won’t be seen. The only thing that I do feel, that I always get a giggle out of, some smart young guy like Chris is going to come up with an idea and he’s going to run the f—ing thing. I would love that. Because he’s going to see a hell of a movie!

I was going to ask you, it’s only creating more interest and tougher criticism if and when it is ever shown.
Of course, of course. What the f— is he saving?!

 

I’m honestly surprised as hell.I am too. I’m very surprised. There’s a gurgling inside that I get when I think about, would this make certain that the Holocaust would never happen again? It’s too small a piece. It isn’t large enough to make a dynamic impact.

Do you think Jewish audiences would like it?
Jews? Oh, they would love it. I traveled for 18 months from Stuttgart to Belsen to Auschwitz. I was putting together my crew and they brought me a man named Rolf, who was the guy who pulled the f—ing lever on the gas chamber. And I said the only way I ever allow him near me, no less interview him, would be if he understood that I am concerned about the accuracy of the film and it would be because I need some information. But I said to my production manager, “I’m not sure I can handle it.” After about six weeks of pretty good meditation, I talked to the guy. The question nobody could answer, that the victims couldn’t answer, was: Where were they [when they] were waiting for the ones ahead of them in the gas chambers? How long were they waiting? Where were they standing? Was there an adjacent room? Did they sit? What kind of time was involved? The torture here was waiting! And they couldn’t dull the sound effects, the screaming. Could I get that information from this man? I wanted to wear a mask so he wouldn’t know it was me. When he came into the office and sat down, I thought, This poor human being. I’m sitting there and it was five after nine at night by the time we were done talking and I was…undone. But he gave me the bottom of his f—ing soul! He wanted penance. I kept looking at his right hand. I was going to ask him which hand did you do it with? I couldn’t do it.

 

Jerry Lewis, center, shot first sequence of his film The Day the Clown cried and seen here left with French actor Pierre Etaiy, right, March 20, 1972, Paris, France.

Jerry Lewis, center, shot first sequence of his film The Day the Clown cried and seen here left with French actor Pierre Etaiy, right, March 20, 1972, Paris, France.

 

You can read the film’s script in full here.

 

Screen shot 2014-01-03 at 13.19.40

Harry Shearer told Spy Magazine:

With most of these kinds of things, you find that the anticipation, or the concept, is better than the thing itself. But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. “Oh My God!” — that’s all you can say.

Screen shot 2014-01-03 at 13.18.28

 

 

The footage:

Posted: 3rd, January 2014 | In: Film, Key Posts | Comment


Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett’s First Trip (Magic Mushrooms) Filmed In 1966

SYD Barrett’s first trip (magic mushrooms) as filmed in 1966 by Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon.

 

SEE RANK Syd Barrett's First Trip

 

This experimental silent short is very rare (filmed in 8mm) and only lasts 11 minutes. Nigel Gordon, film student, filmed Syd Barrett while he tripped on mushrooms. This film is made up of two parts. Part 1: Syd tripping at Gog Magog Hills. Part 2: April ’67, Pink Floyd right after they signed their first recording contract, with EMI Records at Abbey Road Studios.

 

Pink Floyd - 1967. Back row: Roger Waters (l) and Nick Mason. Front row: Syd Barrett (l) and Rick Wright.

Pink Floyd – 1967. Back row: Roger Waters (l) and Nick Mason. Front row: Syd Barrett (l) and Rick Wright.

 

Early signs of the Pink Floyd front-man’s mental disintegration were apparent in 1967. That year he appeared on stage with an entire tube of Brylcreem in his hair into which – according to some accounts – he had crushed a handful of Mandrax tablets. Mandies or not, the lotion melted under the lights, leaving him looking like ‘a guttered candle’. The song Vegetable Man (unreleased) reflected Syd’s self-loathing at the time…

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Posted: 2nd, January 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Music | Comment


Are You Ready For Candy Crush, The Movie?

WE’VE entered a strange time for films. Films everyone can remember first time round are being remade, Ryan Reynolds is still getting work and, weirdest of all, films are being made based on toys.

Now, of course, action figures and the like have ended up on the silver screen, but the Rihanna-starring ‘Battleship’, based on a coordinates board game, flummoxed everyone. What next? Well, to save us all from a ‘what’s next – [insert ludicrous ‘Monkey Tennis’ idea here] joke’, we’ll cut to the chase.

Candy Crush, that’s what.

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Posted: 27th, December 2013 | In: Film, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


10 Wonderfully Insane VHS Action Movie Covers

HERE are some particularly interesting examples of VHS box art in the  action genre.  And by “interesting” I mean “utterly insane”.  These covers represent the perfect synergy of over-the-roof subject matter in the hands of unskilled mental patients.  The words “quality control” and “subtlety” simply weren’t a part of the vocabulary of VHS cover artists…. And that’s why we love them so.

 

Raw Force (1982) 

RAW FORCE

Aside from the three apostrophes that have no business being there, this VHS cover is about as good as it gets.  You simply can’t top Kung Fu Zombie Cannibals….. okay, maybe if they had lightsabers

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Posted: 20th, December 2013 | In: Film, Flashback | Comment (1)