Friday, March 31, 2017
Can you believe the first three months of the year, have sailed by????????? The first three are the hardest, and now we have passed the quarter hump.
March was certainly an interesting month. From snow storms, to "Let's Scare Jessica To Death," to seeing Cujo, and beloved Seamus in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, to Baby Gojira, champing at the bit, for his Spring outfit, to the swallows returning to Capistrano, and Proserpina to Hell, March was an interesting month.
It was good to us all, darlings! And may April (a particularly emotionally ambivalent month for me, darlings!!!!!!!!!!) be so, as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
See you next month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lyle, brilliantly played by Eric Lange, is the male counterpart to Holly Schneider (Gayle Rankin), which makes both sad, in a way. As I talk about "Willkommen!" on "Cold Case," the reasons will become apparent.
This was "Cold Case's" only venture into the world of theater. The casting was superb, with Jon Rubinstein as an ego maniacal, down-on-his luck director, Adam Pascal as the victim, a shy cab driver with an inner talent, and Laura Bell Bundy, as the Eve Harrington of the piece, Nora McCarthy.
What happens is this. Back in 2002, the Francisville Community Theatre was mounting a production of the musical, "Cabaret." It never got a chance to be seen, because Dennis Hofferman, (Adam Pascal) who was playing Cliff, (the Bert Convy/Michael York role) was found outside the stage door, dead, the victim of a shooting; probably a robbery gone wrong.
Years later, the team is called to a backstage area. Another theater owner has purchased a table used in the aforementioned production of "Cabaret," only to find, in one of the drawers, a gun. It turns out to be a .38, which was used in the murder of Dennis Hofferman.
Which means the team has to go over every cast and crew member of this past show. to get at what really happened.
The victim, Dennis, was simply at a crossroads in his life, where he wanted to try something new. Gloria, his fiancé, and part owner of the cab company where Dennis worked, and they met, explains how the show seemed to take over Dennis--including an onstage, offstage romance with Nora McCarthy (Laura Bell Bundy) who was playing Sally Bowles.
Clinton, (Dwayne Barnes) the actor playing the Joel Grey role of the Emcee, at first resented Dennis--what is this upstart doing in theater????--until an incident when the director had a hissy fit--as many do--and dressed down the entire company. Dennis was the only one to stand up for them, and a friendship was forged.
The director, brilliantly played by John Rubinstein, says he is someone who tears actors down, then builds them up again. It is clear he wants to be Kazan or Harold Prince, but hasn't the talent or luck. Let's face it, you don't work at Francisville Community Theater if you are on the A-list!!!!!!! And direction by intimidation??????????? Where have I heard that, before?
It wouldn't work with me, darlings! Not THIS actor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nora, the alleged "star," who saw herself as going places, is now working on a cruise ship. Hey, it pays the bills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She almost comes off as the culprit, when she reveals that, the afternoon of the opening, she and Dwayne were on stage plotting the kind of robbery that took place. But the intention was only to rattle Dennis, so he would mess up, and they would shine, and be spotted by the agent the director, Rafe Gray, was allegedly bringing in that night, to see the show. Which turned out to be a lie.
The team realizes someone must have overheard the plot, and gone ahead with the plan. But who??????????????? When Lily and Company recall their interview with fiancé Gloria, they figure out who.
The afternoon of the opening, something else happened. Gloria came by to promote good wishes, and offer up homemade brownies. She discovers Lyle in the stage manager's booth, doing a sound check, and gives him a brownie. But not before, much to Lyle's embarrassment, Gloria overhears Dennis and Nora talking of their romantic future after the play. Poor, embarrassed Lyle, forgot to turn the sound off, so Gloria hears this, and storms out.
At this point, Gloria looks good for it. Until Lily realizes Lyle could have overheard the plan, and enacted it himself. But why? He was, after all, "just a Musical Director."
That phrase is one of many things this show does not get right about theater. But now let's examine Eric Lange's brilliant performance as Lyle. From the time Dennis walks in, we can see, on Lyle's face, not only bored detachment, but an angry yearning. Further into the episode, Lyle, in exasperation, storms out of the theater. Something is going on with Lyle, it is apparent, and when he is interrogated, all is revealed.
Lyle, like Holly Schneider, wanted to be in theater. The sadness of both characters is their not finding peace of mind with their place in it. In some ways, this is worse than not making it at all. The latter one is forced to accept. The former is not easy to accept. Many cannot, and they are the tragic ones. But none go so far as Lyle and Holly.
In Lyle's case, things would have boiled over, no matter what show. In this case, he was sick of being in the background--cue in "Rose's Turn!"--feeling he could do the show better than anyone, and especially the role of Cliff. He also had an interest in Nora,, which she was unaware of, and resented this newbie, Dennis, walking off with everything.
Here is another thing this show did not get right. This seems to be an entirely straight theater company!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Say, what???????????????????
Lyle's character should have been gay. The theatrical yearning would have been enough to those of us who understand theater. Obviously, the writers were just gaming it.
In one scene, during a rehearsal, there is this 10-year-old boy, downstage, singing the chilling "Tomorrow Belongs To Me." He is dressed in Nazi regalia, but he is too young for the role, and sings it, beaming, as though he were doing "The Sound Of Music." Which he would have been better off in. Again, anyone with theater knowledge knows this is not how the song should be cast or performed.
Lyle admits to having overheard Nora's plan. He also hears Dwayne turn it down. Smart move, Dwayne. So, Lyle decides to carry it out, so he can step into Dennis' role, as Cliff, and get his moment to shine.
I was never sure whether Lyle intended to kill Dennis, or not. Because, when confronted, Dennis see through the disguise, and laughs, good naturedly, at Lyle. This is where the violent resentment is triggered, and he shoots Dennis, dead.
Much to Lyle's dismay, the show does not go on. And he has never gotten over it. In a chilling moment in the interrogation room, he tells Lily and Kat the theater was all he had, and then recites the opening monologue that starts the show. It is a chilling, Baby Jane Hudson, type moment. I suppose Lyle will be sent to prison; I think he would do better in a psych facility, where he can enact all his theatrical fantasies, earning the adulation there, he never got on the outside. And I think this would have been a better ending.
I so get Lyle. Which is why I feel sorry for him. He tells Lily and Kat the theater was all he had (which is why he should have been written as gay!!!!!!!!!!) but it destroyed him, instead. Or maybe he let it destroy him.
The one thing Holly and Lyle were unable to do was objectively evaluate themselves. Lyle might have been able to sing and act up a storm as Cliff, but he was not the right type. He was just too big and burly. He should have looked at himself as, say Tevye, or, provided he could hit those high notes, Jean Valjean. Then he MIGHT have shined.
Another thing not gotten right--Lyle may have known every line and lyric-- I have plenty of show scores stored in my head, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!-- but how could he have done the show, then, without having learned the blocking or choreography??????? Good as Lyle was, unless he had been at least "walked through" the show, he could never have picked these things up. Which, again, is something those of us with theater backgrounds would know.
Poor Holly and Lyle. There are young folk out there who would give everything just to have gotten as far as they. To have made it to New York. Or to work in the theater as a knowing musical director.
They just did not make peace with themselves. They are the supreme exemplars of Shakespeare's words, "the fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves."
It took some time to process "Universal Harvester," because, while the novel starts out giving the reader the expected, it turns around and gives something else.
Meaning what starts out as a conventional horror story switches to be a meditation on real life horrors, such as loneliness, loss, and alienation.
Jeremy Heldt works a boring, small town job in a boring small town called Nevada, Iowa. (The first "a" in Nevada is pronounced "ay.) He lives with his widowed father, Steve, who works in construction, and the two share a joint existence, united by the tragedy, six years before, of the death of Jeremy's mother and Steve's wife, in a car accident.
The supervisor at the video store is a lonely middle ager named Sarah Jane Shepperd. There is a patron, a regular named Stephanie, who comes to the store for movies, but also out of loneliness. Then, there is Lisa Sample.
Before this sounds too much like William Inge, a note of the supernatural is interjected. A patron returns a copy of Peter Bogdanovich's film, "Targets," to the store, insisting that, midway through the film, it breaks and, suddenly, several minutes of disparate imagery--farm land, a silo, a woman running across the landscape--appears, and then the film mysteriously resumes.
This is beginning to sound like "The Ring."
Even more, when several others complain of the same thing on other tapes. Jeremy is loathe to look, and so is Sarah Jane. But they do, and become obsessed with solving the mystery of who altered the tapes, how, where, and why.
To go further would spoil the surprises and challengers Mr.Darnielle outlines for the reader. I will say Lisa Sample is the character who brings all the other folk, and plot threads together. How she does this, and why, is the reason for reading this intimate novel of only 214 pages, which covers so much, at a breakneck pace.
Lisa is the role Daveigh Chase would be perfect for. At first, she might be thought of as an adult version of "The Ring's" Samara, but there is more realistic tragedy behind her. Daveigh could play both sides superbly. So, Daveigh, or her agent, give this book a look immediately.
The lasting genius of this work is the use of videotapes. The story takes place just when they are starting to lose favor, before the massive DVD onslaught. Nevada residents have no other media resources. But, like a film reel unspooling, this allows Darnielle's tale to unsppol.
"Universal Harvester" is a horror novel for deep thinkers. It is open to interpretation and discussion. But it should not be missed.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
The image may seem vaguely familiar, to some. This is the East Portal of Bronson Cave, which is part of Bronson Canyon, in the Griffith Park section of Los Angeles. The spot has been used as locations in more films than I was ever aware of, including some A-list ones. But the two I treasure the most are two Fifties trash classics--1958's "The Return Of Dracula," which I recently wrote about, and two years before, 1956's "It Conquered The World!!!!!!!!!!!"
Yes, darlings, this is the exact spot that cute little Cucumbo crawled out of. The creature, who was so campy, that, when actress Beverly Garland first saw him on the set, remarked, "THIS conquered the world?." laughed, then kicked the thing over!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Crew members called him "Demmy Dimwit!" Poor Cucumbo; how his feelings must have been hurt! But he really comes through, crawling out of that cave, looking menacing as hell, while Beverly Garland acts up a Meryl Streep storm, screaming and hissing at it, banging on it with her fists, in a frenzied attempt to convince audiences she is genuinely terrified! What a laugh!!!!!!!!
I am pretty certain film mavens have visited this spot over the years, for the same reason I want to. If only Cucumbo would make personal appearances.
For the vampire film, this was used as his daytime lair, where his coffin was stored, and included the pit, into which he abruptly falls, and impales himself on a stake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But Cucumbo is the real reason to visit this place. While recently watching the 'Dracula' film, I noted how familiar the place looked! Now I know why!
Though we are barely one fourth of the way through 2017, James Harris Jackson, aged 28, is already looking good for Bitch Of The Year. Right now, he will have to content himself with being this week's Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week.
Mr. Jackson, aged 28, is the Baltimore native who came to New York on a mission. Which was to kill as many Black men as possible. He is a poster child for White Supremacy, Racism, Bigotry....any kind of hate out there. And, if one digs deep enough, I think you will find Jackson is not too keen on gays, Jews, Hispanics, and other so-called minorities.
Fortunately, Mr. Jackson's mission was prevented by his rather quick apprehension. But not before coming into contact with, and shooting, Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old Afro American, in Chelsea, on March 20. Mr. Caughman, presumably homeless, was minding his own business, picking through trash, most likely as a way to survive. For this, and the color of his skin, he is shot! How low can this bitch get?
Apparently lower, because, had Jackson not been apprehended when he was, his plan was a massacre in Times Square. And the odds are the bullets fired would hit more than his specified targets. So, this scum was taken off the street, just in time.
But, what is it, with this pretentious, theatrical pose. Does Mr. Jackson think he is working with Carl Dreyer on "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc?" I doubt whether Jackson would know of Dreyer, or the film, but I am sure he poses, puffed out and proud, because he sees himself as a martyr for whatever his sick cause or agenda is.
A more perfect candidate for Bitch Of The Week would be hard to find. Congratulations, Mr. Jackson. You are so reprehensible you could walk off with the year's top award.
This bitch deserves to be slapped by another bitch--Diana Ross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Something must have been in the air, yesterday, darlings, because both "Cold Case" episodes I watched, yesterday were not masterworks, but dealt with nuptials--one of them gay, the others straight. What makes "Two Weddings" haunting is that the outcome, when things come together, is so heartbreaking it stopped me in its tracks, even though I vaguely saw it coming. The two other noteworthy items about this segment is that the team is supposedly not on assignment--though that does not last long--and so they get to dress up in more than casual clothes; especially the stunning white coat and green dress worn by Lily (Kathryn Morris), and that this is another episode, where someone else, not Lily, sees the ghost.
Like "It's Raining Men," the setting is a wedding, where secrets and resentments are unraveled. Again, what could be better? Lily and Company are there because a friend of theirs, Louie Amante (Douglas Spinuzza) is getting married, and they are assembled to offer congratulations and support. His bride, Anna Coulson, (Rachel Miner) it is learned, has been burned before--back in 2008, she was set to marry Dan Palmer (Noah Bean), who, hours before the ceremony, broke it off, much to the shock and bewilderment of everyone, especially Anna and her mother, Joan Coulson (Sarah Botsford, in a hilarious, blowsy performance; I loved her in the Conga line!!!!!!!!!). Joan championed this marriage; she is a social climber, and saw marriage to Palmer as her ticket into membership in a prestigious local social club; in the present, she is less than enthusiastic about Anna marrying Louie. And Anna's older sister, Tenley Coulson (Lorena Segura York) is revealed, at the outset, to be an outright slut, who is jealous that her younger sister is marrying before she. There is only one room, she feels, for a princess in this family, and Tenley sees herself as it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, the playing board is laid out. As the team explores the ins and outs of that day, they discover that, on one level, Anna's first wedding is nothing anyone wants to talk about, (understandable, since this is at her second!!!!!!!!!) and nothing is as it seems.
Take Dan Palmer. One hates him at first, for being such a sleaze; tramp sister Tenley comes on to him, and he responds. His best friend, and Best Man, Phil (Sean Maguire) catches them in the act. Tenley dashes out, and Phil says something to Dan about "getting his act together, and leaving Baltimore behind." What happened in Baltimore?????? Well--
Dan immediately breaks things off with Anna. He gives no real reason, except he can't. After the scene with Tenley, he comes off as recognizing himself to be a sleaze, making one think this is why he is breaking it off. As he goes to leave, Mama Joan chases after him, cursing and pleading with him to at least go through with it, so she can get into that club. She married wealth; she will pay him!!!!!!!!!! This woman badly needs to act in a community theater production of "Gypsy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Or maybe that old Fifties meller, "The Shrike!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Tenley shows her true colors, when Lily infiltrates her. I love her line, "I took the groom for a test drive," meaning she screwed Anna's fiancé right before the wedding. You couldn't crib this off of Jane Austen, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But something else is learned. Dan was found in the wee hours, on a set of steps, ten floors down from his hotel room. Who put him there? The team hears something from Phil about a call from Baltimore by someone connected to Melanie, a girl Dan not only knew, but was still married to. Had he lived, he would have been committing bigamy. But that is not the heartbreaking discovery.
The team find a My Space page, showing a photo of Dan, Phil and Melanie, when they were back in college. The resemblance Melanie bears to Anna does not go unnoticed. When confronted, Phil reveals Dan and Melanie married young. A few years later, the trio were on a boat, with Phil driving, when an accident occurred. Melanie was thrown overboard, survived, but in a Karen Ann Quinlan kind of way--physically fine, but in a seemingly indefinite coma. After Tenley walks out, Phil gets a call, which he gives to Dan. Apparently, Melanie, hospitalized now, for eight years, has come to, and called out for Dan. Dan has never lost his love for Melanie, and even though he thought he was ready to move on, he wasn't. First, because he never divorced Melanie--though he screwed around, like Tenley!!!!!!!!!--and second, once the possibility of Melanie coming back to him becomes a tangible, he is willing to forsake all.
This confrontation between Phil and Dan takes place hours after the wedding has been called off, and Dan has come back to collect his things. Phil tries to make him go through with Anna, saying Melanie will never return. As a proof, he calls the hospital to convince him that Melanie's lapse was only momentary. And he is right, because, as drama would have it, Dan learns Melanie has passed on. He is heartbroken. Phil explains that death sometimes comes with a final moment of clarity. Dan is lost--his first love is gone, and he cannot undo what has happened, and make it up to Anna. It was then I knew what was going to happen. Before Phil can do anything, Dan does the unthinkable. Standing with his back turned to Phil, on his room's terrace ledge, he jumps, ten stories, to his death--suicide!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't know if this was the first suicide death on the show, but it was the first one I saw. Dan Palmer, for all his flaws, becomes one of the show's most heartbreaking victims. He may have had his flaws, but he was capable of love, and it was love that tore him up. I am not sure if his situation could have been resolved, unless he gave up his daily life for Melanie. But at what price????????????
The story was clever, the ending made me cry, but it was not a masterwork. But it get an "A" for being surprisingly different.
I have a wedding coming up, which I have to attend, the end of next month. On the basis of what I have seen here, I will behave myself, and keep my eyes and ears open!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was worth it, darlings, to see Mama Joan embracing things at the end, doing that campy Conga dance!!!!!!!!! And, while Anna sees the ghost (Dan, smiling at her in approval) it is Lily who catches the bouquet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I caught something, Lil, dear, so you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Girls, I am telling you, if you cried real tears, as did I, over Jennifer Jones in "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing," this novel is for you! It has one of the loveliest covers I have seen, which made me both curious and suspicious. The latter, because I have, in the past, fallen prey to books with striking covers, whose contents failed to satisfy. However, I had heard enough, over the years, about how good Jamie Ford's novel was, so I took the chance. And was glad I did.
This is more than a romance; it moves toward Ha Jin territory. Meaning it is a serious, multi-generational work--a tale of all kinds of love--between sets of parents and children, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and childhood friends. All played against the background of the Seattle Chinatown and Japantown communities, and bringing in the heartbreaking issue of the Japanese internment camps.
Henry Lee is the central figure. In his youth, he befriended a school girl named Keiko Okabe, and friendship turned to love. But some things are not meant to be, and some are. Because Henry's father's childhood consisted of attacks on his people by the Japanese, Henry is emotionally disowned by his father, for having the relationship. He perseveres, going so far as to work a summer job, with a school aide, Mrs. Beatty, at the camp where Keiko and her family are imprisoned. He visits her as much as possible, then the camp breaks up, letters are written, but soon go unanswered.
The older Henry Lee, in the present day, is discovered to have married a woman named Ethel, now deceased, but survived by his son, Marty, about to marry an American girl, named Samantha. Keiko is supposedly lost forever; the only person from Henry's past still in his life is Sheldon, a jazz musician, now in a nursing home, important to Henry because of his youth, and used in an interesting way to explore Seattle's underground jazz scene.
How Marty and Samantha join forces to make Henry come to terms with his past and present, and possibly reunite with Keiko, is the heart of this often heartbreaking novel. As I read the last thirty pages, I was on the verge of losing it, but things end on a hopeful note. I even figured out how Henry was going to meet Ethel.
If this novel had been written as far back as the Fifties, it would have been optioned instantly for the movies. But Hollywood today has no idea of subtlety or nuance. To try to make a film of this now would do the story such injustice. Let me say, you are better off reading it.
The book also made me interested in visiting Seattle. Obviously, there is a lot more of interest there than the house, where "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," was filmed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am talking, of course, about the danger of the Great Big Old Closet Case.
"Cold Case," in its day, was not afraid to tackle gay issues. I had heard of the episode, "It's Raining Men," for a long time, and was hoping it would match the brilliance and heartbreak of that 'Brokeback' redo, "Forever Blue." It does not, unfortunately, but, girls, I must have read something, or I can read into things, because, I am telling you, as soon as Paul Kern, bother of murder victim Jeff Kern, came on camera, I knew he was the killer. I just did not know why.
This episode could also have been entitled "The Prodigal Son," because it uses elements from that Biblical parable.
Here is what happens. Jeff Kern, a Larry Kramer sort of gay activist, is found bludgeoned and strangled, in a bad area of Philadelphia. His surviving partner, Artie Russo (Jay Karnes) is about to marry another, (Jeff died over 20 years before, in 1983) but wants closure on Jeff's case, before he can move on.
What Lily and Company find is a tale of two sons. Jeff, the prodigal, stood up for what he believed, including the right to be himself, and it cost him familial disownment. This, of course, takes place at the straight brother's wedding. I mean, if convictions are to be asserted on either side, a public family event is simply the perfect place to do it!
So, Daddy Kern disowns Jeff, but brother Paul and he forge a relationship. Meanwhile, AIDS is spreading in Philly. Jeff discovers some guy named Carlos (but formerly Melvin Fishman, from Ohio; get that!!!!!!!!!) is spreading the virus, in an effort to take everyone down with him, because he has it. So Jeff spreads the word in bath houses, bars, and other gay places. The community and merchandisers are not pleased.
Jeff even takes on the Closet Cases, who are all wealthy professionals--of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He organizes a fundraiser with these types, to raise community awareness. They are wary, of course, and one of them, a journalist named Carson Finch (James Morrison) tries to warn him, saying he has something on Jeff's family. This peaks the interest of Lily and the Cold Case team.
They learn that at a similar event years before, Paul was there, and shared a supportive gay moment with Carson--and Jeff saw it. Paul sees him. So both brothers know that Paul is a Big Old Closet Case, his marriage is a sham, and so is his way of life. I wondered if the wife knew by that point. I bet she did. But that would have made for another story.
Artie is dying of AIDS, so Jeff thinks, and wants to get him into a drug program. This was on the cusp of AIDS medication. Jeff was going to go to his father, and beg for help. But he was murdered, the day before. Paul confronted Jeff in a secret meeting; he did not want him to face their father, saying Jeff would be refused. Jeff insists on trying, and Paul becomes assertive. But, when Jeff reveals he saw Paul at that event, with Carson, Closet Case Rage takes over. Determined not to lose all he worked for--because he opted for conformity, so he feels entitled!!!!!!!!!--Paul picks up a rock, bludgeons his bother, and then strangles him to death. Nice, huh????????????
Lily and Company visit Mr. Kern, with Paul there. He tells them he probably would have said "No," back then, but, over the years, with time, he seems to have mellowed. He said Jeff was always "his favorite," and Paul blanches at that. Lily notices, and Paul is confronted by the team in his office the next day, where he reveals what happened, and is hauled away. This is the scene where Lily references the tale of the Prodigal Son.
The ending is noteworthy. The musical montage of characters illustrates how they have changed, for the better, over the years--even Carlos--now an AIDS survivor. Artie is walking down the aisle, having married his current partner, Russell Bennett (Peter Gardner). It is Artie, who sees, off to the side, Jeff's ghost, in a tux, at the ceremony "in spirit," smiling at him, in approval. A touching moment, and the first episode I have seen where it is not Lily who sees the ghost. She didn't, always.
"It's Raining Men" is no masterwork, like "Forever Blue," or "The Sleeepover," but, once again, the danger of the Closet Case is illustrated. You have to know what to watch out for, darlings--like a gay appearing man who automatically disparages all things gay, or refuses to look them in the eye; someone whose illusion of hypocrisy is more important to them than honesty or integrity, and makes no apologies for showing it; a visible lack of comfort in their own skin. Girls, I am telling you, I have seen these, time and again, and I can spot a Closet Case a mile away!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hypocrisy is the only thing they have, and it must be preserved at all costs, so they can have their cake and eat it, too!!!!!!!!!! Never mind what diseases they could be bringing home to their wives!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These types should have their sex drive taken away with meds for the good of society, and themselves.
Thank God I have the decency to be honest, darlings! When have you known me, on here, not to be????????
I just realized this episode illustrates two points about gays and closets. The first, of course, is the danger of remaining in there, forever!
The last is that a gay's closet should only be concerned with housing a fabulous, designer wardrobe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
This question kept going through my mind, as I watched "Bunny Lake Is Missing," last night. My beloved had taped it awhile ago, and wanted to watch it, so last night was as good as any. Like 'Jessica,' I had heard of the film for years--I remember when it first came out--but had never seen it. So, I was naturally curious.
What is interesting, regarding "Repulsion," is that both films were released in the United States a day apart. Polanski's released on October 2, 1965, and Preminger's the next day. So, the question is certainly valid.
More interesting, especially to me, was that the film is based on a novel (which I have never read, but would like to, as it seems to be very different from the film!!!!!!!!) by Merriam Modell, who wrote under the pseudonym, Evelyn Piper. Who happens to have been the author of another childhood nightmare of mine, and a film also made in 1965--"The Nanny." Obviously, 1965 was a big year for Modell/Piper. She was really raking it in.
I bet she did not like the film of 'Bunny Lake'. Despite the setting of "Swinging Sixties London," the city does not seem to swing as much as Preminger would have thought. The performances are all made-for-TV schlock, though Carol Lynley does her Method best in the role of Ann, while Keir Dullea (to whom Noel Coward, on the set, said, to the actor, "'Keir Dullea', gone tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!" I wonder what he said to Preminger, who was one of Hollywood's most despised directors?????) Noel Coward camps it up as a lecherous landlord--and the notion of him being straight, let alone coming on to Carol Lynley, is ridiculous--but the real scene stealer in the film is the dog carried around, named Samantha. Obviously, she and Preminger did not hit it off, because Samantha never looks happy on camera, and is limited to only two scenes. Well she had two egotists--the director and Noel Coward--to deal with, and both must have realized she was walking away with the film! While Keir Dullea almost justifies Coward's remark, by going bug-eyed, whenever he is required to act psychotic!!!!!!!!!!!!
The film does manage to achieve an eerie, Gothic atmosphere, especially the scene with Lynley in the Barry Elder Doll Museum, in Hammersmith, and the hospital chase scene, shot at night, complete with a playground that both actors make good use of. This last was the "Frogmore End" house in the film, and turned out to have been owned by Daphne Du Maurier's father, Sir Gerald Du Maurier. Was Daphne still alive, then? If she was, she should have muscled in on the screenplay. It might have improved things.
It starts out as a kidnapping that one suspects is all in Ann's (Carol Lynley) mind. Does the child, Bunny, actually exist? Do we even care? Then, amid fancy visuals, the story is reduced to incest and psychosis.
The latter two elements also figured in another film released that year, "Who Killed Teddy Bear?," which has got to be seen for Sal Mineo masturbating to Juliet Prowse, and--get this--Elaine Stritch as a victimized lesbian! Much more lively than 'Bunny Lake.' But I have to wonder, what was going on at that time? I guess filmmakers were trying to push envelope, but they were not really successful until 1967.
Because, in 1965, along came a film that knocked these flat on their backs.
I am talking, of course, about "The Sound Of Music." 'Nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!
It used to be so easy. I would go to the box office, plunk down my cash, receive a ticket, and go in, and watch the movie. That is how I have been doing it, all my life.
But, like so many other experiences that are being ruined by over complication, movie going has now become one of those.
Not at the Film Forum, where I recently saw "Manhattan." That was fine.
No, I am talking about chain theaters, like the Cinepolis on West 23rd Street, and my practically home grown AMC Lincoln Square, on West 68th Street. Forget the price acceleration; that has become standard, and I am used to that.
But these are public theaters, not movie palaces, as of old. So, where do they get off, acting like they are? On 23rd Street, for several times now, I have been requested to choose a seat on their computer board, before being allowed to enter that theater. Inside, the auditorium is marked with numbers and locations so detailed it would seem "A Chorus Line" was being staged, or rehearsed, there.
Now, wait. Whatever the 23rd Street theater is calling itself--because, as infrequently as I now go, it seems each time it always changes names--it still honors the Thursday night tradition of Chelsea Classics, with Hedda Lettuce! At the last screening of such attended, I won two free passes. It wasn't until "La La Land" I had a reason to use them. But, on the day I went, they refused to honor the freebies, because the chain was now Cinepolis, and I had to pay full price--$16.95!!!!!!!!! Idiots! They knew what theater these freebies came from, and how, why could they just have honored them.
And listen, you morons! As far as choosing a seat, I just press whatever on the board, and then sit where I damn well please! Which is what, I am sure, a good portion of your other attendees are doing! Especially if the screening room is not sold out, or crowded. So, why persist in such bullshit????????????
When I told my beloved, he said, "Well, I guess we won't be going to that theater, often."
Fine. But then, when I went to see "Moonlight," I had the same crap experience with the seating!
The days of Reserved Seat attractions are long gone! That kind of filmmaking, and the audience for it, is a vanishing breed! So, why add insult to injury by alienating patrons who might other wise attend!
Nothing beats seeing a film in its original screen format. But, if chain operations keep implementing such draconian tactics, no one is going to want to come.
And then we will be reduced to just Netflix and High Definition!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, of course, I know today is going to be nasty, meaning I will be in here all day, at the computer, with my coffee and books, but yesterday, as the weather got nicer, and David and I were walking home along Third Avenue, we both took an instinctive glance up 77th Street, and there, atop his terrace, was Cujo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He is Cujo to us, but Ares to his owners. We have not seen Cujo, since last year, what with the Winter, and the weather. I was missing him, so much. I thought he might be away, possibly in Greece, where, I have since found out, his owners first got him. So Cujo is Greek born, but an American citizen.
We first couldn't believe our eyes, when we saw him on the terrace. At the mention of his name, Cujo's ears perked up, and as I ran toward him, a big doggy grin appeared on his face. He was so glad to see me, too, and he appreciated the attention and love given. And that Cujo himself gives. He may look intimidating, but his heart is as big and loving as his size. He was the first dog friend we made after moving to Bay Ridge, and every year he gets a Christmas card (by way of his family) and a bone, to show how happy he makes us, especially yours truly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Great to see you back, Cujo, and welcome Spring! Hope we see you more often, now!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, March 27, 2017
Last Night, On "Feud--Bette And Joan," It Was The Robert Aldrich- Pauline Jameson Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
True to the series' now established structural pattern, two players stepped into the spotlight, in last evening's episode of "Feud--Bette and Joan." They were Alfred Molina, already giving a splendid characterization of Robert Aldrich, but digging deeper into his troubled character, and Pauline Jameson, brilliantly played by Alison Wright, who was Aldrich's production assistant on "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?"
Now, just who is this woman? Did she even exist? Or is she just written in to cue in the feminist agenda about lack of opportunity for women in the film industry, back then--and some would say, today? MERYL STREEP, aside.
Pauline has aspirations of writing and directing. She has concocted a screenplay, something called "The Black Slipper," for Joan Crawford. And she wants to direct it. This girl does have ambition, but, in this time period, is she kidding? Plus, as Jessica Lange's Joan tells her, harshly, but truthfully, she is "a nobody."
But Alison Wright hits all the marks in her Pauline portrayal, scoring on all the points the writers wanted to make.
Each character has their own tete a tete. Wright's Pauline is with Lange's Joan; Molina's Aldrich is with Stanley Tucci's Jack Warner.
Though Robert Aldrich's resume is impressive, like Pauline, he saw himself as something more than what he was. As astute as Joan, Warner realizes Aldrich's limitations. But Frank Sinatra, in "4 For Texas?" What a comedown for Aldrich, and Sinatra, who after all, was Oscared for "From Here To Eternity," back in 1953.
When Aldrich asked Warner, point blankly, if he was destined for greatness, and Warner said, bluntly, "No!," it was heartbreaking to watch; almost anyone in the arts would get the poignancy of this moment. But what neither realized was greatness sometimes has a way of writing itself, and the longevity of 'Baby Jane' proves Aldrich's stature was more than was thought, even if he did not realize that this would be the masterpiece he would always be remembered for. And still is.
Who the hell was the actual production assistant on 'Baby Jane?' Does anybody care? Not really, though Molina and Wright made viewers care about these two lesser characters; one rather minor.
I will end on a footnote, darlings. Robert Aldrich thought he was going nowhere. On this picture, he had a man working for him as a "dialogue supervisor." He turned out to be a Robert, who did go somewhere.
His last name was..........Altman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When this novel was first published, back in 1977--forty years ago, darlings!!!!!!!!--Bob Randall was a renowned figure in the New York theater community. As a playwright, he wrote the comedy "6 Rms., Riv Vu," which was a respectable hit. As a librettist, he wrote the book for the Doug Henning, Stephen Schwartz musical, "The Magic Show." Who could forget Anita Morris, being sawed in half, or Dale Soules singing the Schwartz classic, "West End Avenue?" I can't, girls!!!!!!!!!!!! Because, I was there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was not surprising that, when Randall turned to novel writing, the theater would be his subject. Reading this book, decades later, is like peering into a time capsule of Broadway history. Its theatrical references are so of the period.
Randall's is an epistolary novel--a series of letters. It is basically a stalker story, a subject known less about in 1977 than now. In creating the title character, Douglas Breen, and his obsession with Broadway star Sally Ross, (stand in for either Alexis Smith or Lauren Bacall!!!!!!) I had to wonder, reading it now, if Randall realized what he was doing. On a first reading, the thrills are there. Actually, "The Fan" works better on the printed page than it did on the screen. The 1981 film, featuring an A-list cast, consisting of Lauren Bacall as Sally Ross, Maureen Stapleton as Belle Goldman, her secretary, James Garner as ex-husband Jake, and, in a breakout performance, Michael Biehn, as Douglas Breen, was not the success hoped for. Because something went wrong. The Broadway scenes were not good enough to be of quality, while not bad enough to be campy. Breen's psychosis was never fully explored, and the climax was sanitized in a similar fashion as "Fatal Attraction."
I had always thought the novel had these faults, as well. But, on my recent reading, I discovered all the elements I had been looking for are there. It is just a matter of reading between the lines.
Which I am not sure readers, back in 1977, did. To them, the novel was, most likely, about a deranged Theater Queen. This is true, to an extent, but there is more.
Douglas Breen is a great big Closet Case! And you know how dangerous they can be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How did I discover this? By piecing together all the clues thrown out about Douglas' character. And here is where those who have not read the novel, or might, should stop reading, as there are spoilers ahead.
What is Douglas Breen's back story? He grew up in an affluent section of Connecticut, known as Greenwich Drive. His repressed, morally rigid, parents provided him with the best, but his behavior was always problematic. Theft, arson and, I believe homosexuality, are a part of Douglas' past. He has a friend from college, Phil, whom we learn about, but how strong a friendship it is is questionable. I get the impression Douglas uses Phil's friendship for a purpose, most likely to support the fact that he is something he is not.
At the time of the novel, Douglas is in his mid-twenties. His job history is sketchy, because he has a very high opinion of himself and it gets him in trouble. Which shows he suffers from both narcissism and lack of self-esteem; the two often go hand in hand. He works in a record store, run by a friend of his father's Mr. Rafferty, whom the parent implored to get him the job, based on their longstanding association in the Masons. Mr. Rafferty complies, but, eventually, has to let Douglas go.
Now, not all homosexuals hate women. At the record shop is a female employee, whom Douglas has an adversarial relationship with. He sees her as taking away favor from him. I think it is more--she sees through his carefully crafted guise--and Douglas does not like having his bluff called.
He is a young man in New York. With an interest in the arts, a record store is a good starting off point. But, in the Phil letters, he makes himself out to be more. That he would go to the theater is not all that telling; even non-theatrical types experience a Broadway show or two at some point in their lives. But when he sees his first Sally Ross show, he becomes smitten. When she autographs a Playbill for him, at the stage door, instead of enjoying the token gesture of graciousness, he takes it as the starting point of a relationship. And so the letters begin.
The letters on the printed page were chilling to read, and accelerated suspense. The film could not replicate this. So character motive was sacrificed for story line.
The more reality spins into Douglas' life, the more deranged he becomes. Like Alex Forrest in "Fatal Attraction," Douglas needs to maintain his delusions, in order to function within a relatively normal structural context. But once those delusions are stripped, he goes off the wall.
It is clear Douglas is a homosexual. Or, at the very least, a bisexual struggling to maintain a straight façade. The whole Sally Ross fag hag adulation thing is so typical. But his often graphic sexual fantasies of Sally, and a preoccupation with his equipment and ability to satisfy, speaks of sexual insecurity. On the other hand, picking up a gay guy, and killing him while having sex speaks of not only violent tendencies, but incredible self-hate. No doubt his WASP upbringing in Connecticut had something to do with this, though nothing in Randall's novel suggests a pivotal incident that traumatized Douglas. It was just a case of bad brain chemistry, which today might have been remedied, if the subject cooperated, and took the meds. Back in 1977, this was not even an option.
Douglas wants to come off as straight, but cannot. That is why he is a big Closet Case. And his self-loathing over it causes him to lash out, when his fantasy constructs are rejected.
Michael Biehn, in the movie, had the looks and ability to convey all this. But the movie copped out. In the book, Douglas gets away with killing Sally, which makes it more chilling, as all that was done for her protection was still not enough. Begging the question of who, or what, Douglas might move to, now???????????????
Dig underneath the book, and you find a lot of complexity. Maybe Bob Randall knew what he was doing, after all.
Wonder what Douglas' friend, Phil, would have thought???????????????
It did not rain on Seamus' parade!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
David and I were both there to cheer our lovable friend on, and so was a good deal of Bay Ridge, at its St. Patrick's Day Parade. Even renowned Senator, Marty Golden had enough celebrity acumen to have his picture taken with Seamus, the unmistakable star of the parade.
"Love you, Seamus!," a lot of us cried, as his contingent went by. He looked so happy, smiling at all his fans. Seamus is all about Love; he gives it forth, and people give it right back to him.
I briefly undid my outerwear to show my Seamus T-shirt! It was too cold to go like this the entire time, and if not for Seamus, we may not have been there! But it was well worth it!
Later, back at Paws Truly, Seamus greeted one and all. A visit to Seamus just cheers me up, because he brings happiness.
So, thank you, Seamus, for being such a professional, and gracious pooch!
You deserve a day off! So rest, catch up on whatever series marathon you watch, and enjoy yourself after yesterday!
See you soon, Seamus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sunday, March 26, 2017
The main problem with "Homegoing' was it had the misfortune of coming out the same year, as "The Underground Railroad," by Colson Whitehead. That book garnered so much hype, not all of it undeserved, and Whitehead was already a renowned author that this first novel, by Yaa Gyrasi failed to generate the literary heat it should have.
What this first novel accomplishes is amazing. Going back centuries, it starts with two sisters, one who lives in a master's castle, one who is enslaved in the dungeon just below. Neither one know the other is there. In another era, this would have been a mammoth, Michner-esque opus, but the genius of this novelist, is to telescope everything, and move time forward, by centering succeeding chapters on the descendants of the sisters, taking the reader from the Civil War, to the Harlem Renaissance, to the racially charged battleground New York and other urban cities were in the Sixties. Time moves forward with each chapter, so the entire cultural history of this family, representative of a community, is given, in just a succinct three hundred pages.
No extraneous prose, here, darlings! That Zadie Smith could take some lessons from Miss Gyrasi. Strong on both character and narrative drive, "Homegoing" should have received more attention than it did. It wuz robbed.
Like the movie "Moonlight" almost was, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, March 25, 2017
David Lean's classic film boasts two timeless assets--snow and Julie Christie. It does not get better than that.
Trivago, the hotel advisory company, has this guy who is, quite frankly, HOT. For those who maintain that men cannot age attractively, or that an older man cannot be sexy, look no further than The Trivago Guy, who is really an actor, named Tim Williams.
Of course, I am sure he has to work hard to maintain this look. But, hey, it works!
One ad even put him in the shower! Beefcake, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is one commercial that does not annoy, as it is SO easy on the eyes!
And, since its subject is hotel accommodations, this company was smart choosing this guy to be their endorser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who wouldn't want a night in a hotel, with this guy????????????????????
Pleasant dreams, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, March 23, 2017
All this writing I have been doing, of late, which circles around this particular film, caused me to go back and examine it. And I made an interesting discovery.
I know, from this shot, the onrushing train, and the funeral scene at the closing, that Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) dies. That he was killed by the onrushing other train is unquestionable.
But who put him in that position? That is the question.
You have to be visually alert, once "The Two Charlies" (which I think would have been a great title for the film!!!!!!!!!) get outdoors on the caboose terrace of the train. There is a fight, and it looks like Teresa Wright wins, and Joseph Cotton falls onto the tracks.
This, I believe is what Hitchcock wants us to see. But, is it, really??????????
From my perspective, and having seen this film many times, there are three possibilities.
1. The niece, in survival mode, does push the uncle off the train.
2. The uncle, in the fight, involuntarily loses his balance, and falls in the train's path.
3. The uncle, who is a self-hating character, has a crisis of conscience at the end, and, as a final act of doing something right, sacrifices himself, to save his niece.
But which is the right answer? The scene is played out so carefully that each of these scenarios fit. Hitchcock sends out clues supporting each throughout the film. But he wants the viewer to decide for himself.
One thing is disturbing. Since Cotton and Wright are "the two Charlies," what does her pushing him say about her capacity to be like him? Sure, she is fighting for her life, and it is self-defense, but if she really did push him off the train, this Charlie is not to be messed with, either!!!!!!!
Hitchcock provides enough for every viewer to have their cake and eat it too. But I still cannot decide.
What do you think, girls???????? You tell me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!