Alexander Film Works

Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

“Entertainment” Media…

In activity, It Bugs Me, Just Because..., no excuses on June 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm

From that particular wrinkle in the space-time continuum I like to call home, it’s another blog…
The latest thing on the “entertainment news” shows is following show business pregnancies. Seriously, folks… How many times can I look at Kim Kartrashian’s spawning without becoming physically ill?
{Just so you know: All photos in this entry were obtained through Google searches. I don’t own them, nor do I claim any copyright in them. I only intend their use for illustrative purposes under the “Fair Use” section of the copyright laws.}
Jessica-Simpson-Pregnant-20111

pregnant-kim-kardashian-kanye-west-kisses-in-rio-de-janeiro-22

Michael Douglas (and his publicists) are backpedaling furiously about his recent interview with the uk’s guardian about his throat cancer, and the alleged fact (I, at least, have no proof) that his cancer’s cause was human papilloma virus, or HPV. True enough was the statement that HPV-caused oral cancers are likely a result of oral sex. Whether or not that means that Michael had oral sex, and, if so, with whom, remains shrouded in mystery.

Michael_Douglas_VF_2012_Shankbone

Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, has been splashed all over the media world for allegedly swallowing pills and cutting her wrist. The speculation is running rampant about how she is bullied at school, which already has a reputation for that sort of thing anyway, and how this is a “cry for help”…
Be honest, now, have you ever met a sixteen year old girl who hasn’t thought about killing herself, even if she didn’t have the want-to to try it? Let’s wake up and smell the reality, people… Money doesn’t make your life – or you – perfect. You just have to deal with it as it comes.
Paris Jackson
Look, she lost her father at the age of eleven. That’s a bad age for any girl. Now she’s in court, testifying in a family lawsuit about fixing blame – and allocating money – for that death, which is still being splashed all over the mediaverse. If her name were Paris Bouchard, and her father was nobody famous (like me), this deal wouldn’t be all over every channel, web site, or blog (like mine).
Leave the girl alone. Let her get help. Shut the up!
Meanwhile, the remaining Jackson siblings, Tito, Marlon, Larry, and Curly, recently began a tour in Morocco… where, apparently, people still are willing to pay good money to see an act whose main attraction has been dead for some time.
I was trying to come up with a joke for this, but the event is enough of a joke in itself that I couldn’t top it.
Just goes to show ya…
About the only good thing about not having cable TV is missing all these so-called “reality shows”; after all, who cares which beefcake vacuum-brain this new “bachelorette” picks? Does anyone really care about the “Real Housewives of Pacoima”? Does it matter who survives “Survivor”? And have “American I’m Dull” and “The Voiceless” finally worn out their welcome?
Yes, I’ll even go off on my favorite show, “Dancing With The Stars”… the past couple of seasons, it’s been more like “Dancing With The Supporting Players”. Len Goodman, the chief judge, must be getting plenty as a newlywed, because he’s in a much better mood; Bruno Tonioli is less comprehensible than ever when he gets excited, which is quite often, and Carrie Ann Inaba needs to get a new boyfriend, I think. Tom Bergeron keeps hosting almost everything on television, splitting it with Neil Patrick Harris, and Brooke Burke Charvet still looks damn good, despite thyroid cancer.
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carrie-ann-inaba-2009-kids-choice-awards-03
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Did I mention how I miss Maks?
Maksim Chmerkovskiy-SGG-070350
And, while I’m at it, let me just say a few words (as few as possible, actually) about Donald Trump and “The Apprentice”.
Move away from the camera, Mr. Trump. Keep your hairpiece where we can see it. You have the right to remain silent… and we dearly wish you would.
dtrump
By the way… I’m just curious. What exactly is a “Disney Star”? As in, “Disney star Zendaya”, or “Disney Star Raven”… Is there a difference of some sort from being a “Disney star” and being a regular “star”?
Zendaya-3-zendaya-coleman-33189216-500-671
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That’s about all I have to rant about now, I guess. I’m reasonably sure something else will be using a belt sander on my hemorrhoids soon, so stay close!

The Universal Pantechnicon…

In arts, Film and Related, Just Because... on April 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm

This post promises nothing… it’s going to be a little bit of this, a little bit of that; sort of like potluck soup, or hobo stew.

Jonathan Winters died this past week… He was an inspiration to many of the comic performers of today, such as Robin Williams (who acknowledged this perceived debt loudly and often).  He was an unpredictable performer, letting his prodigious imagination lead him on comic flights of fancy that left us all the richer for having heard them.

He was also a cousin (to what degree I’d have to figure out) of my wife’s mother’s family.  His name was Jonathan Harshman Winters, and my mother-in-law (rest her soul) was a Harshman.  Another coincidental thing, it seems.

On the subject of comedy…

I was revisiting the Kevin Brownlow/David Gill profile of Harold Lloyd on YouTube the other day, after I had reblogged the post from swingstatevoter on silent comedy.  Brownlow and Gill produced, to my mind, some of the best profiles of silent film personalities extant; Brownlow’s book The Parade’s Gone By… was a textbook for my old history of silent film class, back in the mists of time.  I appreciated his bringing back to the fore the (up to that point) overlooked French director, Abel Gance, and his tour de force, 1927’s Napoleon.  Sometime in the 1980’s, if memory serves me, (and it didn’t… the first restoration by Brownlow was in 1979, I just found out) Francis Ford Coppola sponsored a series of viewings of the then-major restoration with a score by his father, composer Carmine Coppola.  There is a more complete restoration by Brownlow, with approximately thirty additional minutes of footage and the Polyvision (Gance’s predecessor of three-screen Cinerama) in full bloom, which was shown almost a year ago in Oakland, California.

Abel Gance’s Napoleon from SilentRobet on Vimeo.

This is the trailer.

Back to Harold Lloyd…

Lloyd’s character was the most “normal” of the three top comedians of the silents… Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” was a Victorian-era creation, full of pathos and bathos, trying to ensnare the audience in a struggle between the “little man” and the heartless, cruel well-to-do of society.  Keaton’s frozen-faced automaton was freed of the emotional baggage of the Chaplinesque view, the chilling whiff of nihilism wafting out from behind the slick mechanical façade of his gags, the unsmiling man against an uncaring universe.  Lloyd, on the third hand, was the smiling All-American Boy we thought typical of that time, bright enough, determined enough, but lacking something essential to win through to the final victory.

Lloyd was never a “comic”, doing jokes and gags for the sake of doing them, but had gag men spooling out things to do in the context of the story and the character.   (The parallel was drawn in the Brownlow/Gill profile to Bob Hope having a staff of gag writers providing him with jokes for his monologues; Lloyd’s gag men provided gag bits for the picture.)

Of the major silent film comedians, Harold Lloyd was the luckiest (or most foresighted, if you prefer); he bought real estate in Los Angeles when it was cheap, saved and invested his money wisely, and retired after 1947’s “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock”, also known as “Mad Wednesday”.  (The failure of the film at the box office probably hastened this decision.)He died in 1971, prosperous, away from the hurlyburly of  “the business”, and mostly forgotten by moviegoers of today.  Quite a change from Keaton’s death from cancer in 1966, Chaplin’s fading away in self-imposed exile in Switzerland in 1977, Harry Langdon’s death in 1944 (Langdon deserves an article to himself, and there are many out there), Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, who never really recovered from the scandal surrounding the death of bit player Virginia Rappé at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco in 1921, three trials, and the inability of the public at the time to accept his acquittal by the third jury and his death in 1933, or the lesser lights of silent comedy, such as Lloyd Hamilton, Lupino Lane, Raymond Griffith, Snub Pollard, Ben Turpin, or the ones who are nameless to us but still enjoyed when silents are played again.

[Whew!  LOONG paragraph!]

It seems a pity that, with the exception of 1976’s Silent Movie, from the fertile mind of Mel Brooks, and Michel Hazanavicius’s Oscar™-winning The Artist, silent film is a curiosity from a time gone by.

It seems to me that dialogue, while helpful, is not a necessity for a movie.  Besides, I think it’s a good way to flex some creative muscles making a film without relying on dialogue.

I think I’m going to try that myself.

The Hero Concept

In Think About It on October 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm

This past weekend was Detroit FanFare 2012, a comics and toy expo, and the chance I had to meet and speak to legends of the comics world, like Allen Bellman, who worked at Timely/Atlas/Marvel Comics starting in 1942, a contemporary of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Carl Burgos, and Bill Everett, was something we just couldn’t pass up.

I was inspired to write a piece on the concept of heroes, and tie it in with the comics industry… which follows immediately.

***

            We, as story-listeners, always seem drawn to the concept of the mysterious vigilante… the outsider who does what ordinary citizens, or even the authorities, can’t.

The legends come down… Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Robin Hood, Charlemagne and Le Chanson de Roland, tales of Arthur Pendragon and the Knights of the Table Round, the tales of Siegfried and the Rhinemaidens that became Wagner’s Das Ring Des Niebelungen, the labors of Hercules, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Johnston McCulley’s stories of the wily El Zorro battling the corruption and oppression in Spanish California, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger, the heroes of the “penny dreadfuls” celebrating the non-existent Code of the West, which set the archetypes of the cowboy heroes we see up until now, and especially the four-color heroes, the superheroes and superheroines of the comic books.

With ancestors from the “pulps”, the mass-market books printed on lower-grade paper dedicated to a single subject, like Doc Savage and his five assistants battling the forces of crime, G-8 and his Battle Aces endlessly fighting the Great War in the air, costumed crimefighters like The Spider – Master of Men, The Bat, and, most notably, The Shadow, they burst forth on the consciousness of the public in the 1930’s, starting with a certain red, yellow, and blue figure flashing across the sky, who became the exemplar of truth, justice, and the American Way – SUPERMAN.  His name may have had unfortunate resonances with the theories of Nietsche and the übermenschen that helped inspire a failed artist to attempt the “purification” of Germany and Europe into the Aryan Fatherland, but the execution of the concept of Superman was purely American… not only that, but truly Midwestern American.

Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster were both from Cleveland, Ohio when they came up with the concept of Superman… and the Midwestern ethos they were raised with helped inform their creation from his genesis.  He did good deeds, expecting no reward, and used his titanic strength in service to mankind in general.

Following shortly thereafter, from Fawcett Publications, whose lineup before this contained how-to books and the Great War’s anodyne, Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang, a joke book compiled and published by the founder of Fawcett Publications, William Fawcett, came C. C. Beck and Bill Parker’s take on the super-powered man, CAPTAIN MARVEL.   Where Superman had his powers and abilities for pseudo-scientific reasons, Captain Marvel’s powers came from magic; when Billy Batson shouted the name of the wizard who gave him his powers, a bolt of magic lightning would strike him, transforming him into The World’s Mightiest Mortal, as he came to be known.  The magic word “SHAZAM”, the ancient wizard’s name, granted him the following powers of legendary gods and heroes:

  • S – the wisdom of Solomon
  • H – the strength of Hercules
  • A – the stamina of Atlas
  • Z – the power of Zeus
  • A – the courage of Achilles
  • M – the speed of Mercury

Following these two progenitors came many others… The Flash, Wonder Woman, The Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Crimson Crusader, Captain America, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Skyman, the Blackhawks, Doll Man, Plastic Man, Uncle Sam, Airboy, the Sandman, Starman, Green Arrow… The litany rolls on.

The ‘30’s and ‘40’s became known as the “Golden Age” of comics… with such heroes as Captain America, Major Victory, the Patriot, Uncle Sam, Liberty Belle, and other, lesser known red-white-and-blue metahumans, it seemed almost anyone was donning patriotic garb and battling the Axis powers… but it was not to last.  The Congressional investigations sparked by Dr. Frederic Wertham’s 1954 book, The Seduction of the Innocent, headed by Senator Estes Kefauver and his Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, threw many of the comic publishers into disarray; many went out of comic publishing, and those that remained banded together in self-defense, cooperatively instituting the Comics Code Authority.  The CCA lasted until 2009, and in 2011, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization devoted to defending the First Amendment rights of comic artists, writers, and publishers, acquired the intellectual property rights of the CCA, including its seal.

The Seal of the Comics Code Authority

For almost fifty years, this seal was on virtually every comic sold.

After the institution of the CCA, fewer titles existed… Fawcett settled a long-standing lawsuit with DC Comics to suspend publication of Captain Marvel; most of the heroes of the Golden Age faded from sight… and from memory.

Then, in 1956, DC Comics revised and reimagined The Flash, followed by Green Lantern, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and many others.  In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of Marvel Comics (previously Atlas Comics, which sprang from Timely Comics, the 1940’s era publisher of Captain America, The Human Torch, and The Sub-Mariner) started a revolution in the industry with Fantastic Four, heroes with no secret identities, no glamorously perfect physiques (especially in the case of “The Thing”, transmuted Marine pilot Benjamin J. Grimm), and a penchant for arguing among themselves.  This “realistic” approach became the norm in the industry, as time went on.

One can honestly say the world hasn’t been the same since.

And the newer generation just keeps on writing and drawing…

The Avengers Initiative… Sounds Like A Plan To Me

In Film and Related, Just Because..., Roughly About Films on May 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm

My Dearly Beloved Wife and I got home a couple of hours ago from the theater, having seen The Avengers.  We were both extremely geeked out, watching the story, the effects, and the acting.

This movie was the first one we’d seen in a theater in quite some time (something on the order of ten years or so), and the new theater complex we went to, the Emagine Theaters, is quite a place.  This one also has a restaurant, bar, and bowling alley in the same building (it may not seem like a good fit to you, but it’s a big draw here, outside Detroit).  It’s clean, the screens are bright, the stadium-style seating is comfortable, and they don’t use the disinfectant/cleaning products that send the both of us into asthma.

This is a definite advantage.

Joss Whedon, whose prior credits include Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and the movie version Serenity, and who has said in interviews that he’s a major comics geek, collaborated on the script and directed, and the result is a comic book movie that doesn’t read like a dumbed-down version for mentally challenged people.  The dialogue is wonderful, such as this exchange between Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner):

Widow:  This reminds me of Istanbul.

Hawkeye:  Our memories of Istanbul are very different…

I will put it as simply as I possibly can.

SEE.  THIS.  MOVIE.

Okay?

Best Follower Award – Surprise!

In Think About It on May 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm

best follower award image

I’ve been given a nomination by allthingsboys for being what is described as a “best follower”.

You know, I’m still not entirely certain of how to react to this… I just enjoy reading her posts, and I comment on what I enjoy about them.

If this makes me a “best follower”, then I suppose I’m guilty.

Al with his tassel

This picture, taken by my Dearly Beloved Wife’s cell phone camera, is in honor of my graduation from university… I deliberately didn’t edit the picture to straighten it up.  (I kind of like it that way…)

Now I get to work on things that I want to do… YAY!

Cheers!

Are We Done Yet? (Please?)

In It Bugs Me, Just Because... on February 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm

It’s been over a week since Whitney Houston was found dead in her bathtub before Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy party.

The coverage has been nearly nonstop, 24/7, incessantly yammering, baying hounds.

STOP A MINUTE!

***

She’s dead.

She’s been buried.

The official Cause of Death hasn’t been released by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office yet, and probably won’t be for a few weeks.

Isn’t there anything else we can talk about?  After all, there’s a Republican primary here in Michigan next week.

Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul are all passing through, battling to say who’s more conservative, fighting for the right wing of the GOP.

Which seems to me like claiming the captaincy of the Hindenburg.

Santorum’s ads, the more idiotic of the two “major” candidates (a pissing contest if ever there was one), show a Romney clone shooting a paintball rifle filled with mudballs at a cardboard cutout of Santorum, and missing each time.

The Romney ads show Santorum bragging about his “earmarks” record in the Senate.

I call these ads as owned by who they favor, “superPAC” designations (“Red White and Blue Fund”, “Restore America Fund”, or whatever fund) aside.  To quote a line from Singin’ In The Rain, “Whadda they think I am, dumb or somethin’?”

***

Come to think of it, I’d rather listen to the foofaraw about Whitney Houston than talk about the Four Horsemen of the GOP Apocalypse…

So, never mind…  (With props to Emily Littella/Gilda Radner).

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