31 October 2005

Meet "Maggie"!

This little spitfire is "Maggie", Minnie's new little sister. Maggie is a personable and spring-loaded tortoiseshell cat just like our dear, departed Molly, whom we never really intended to replace. But when Maggie's mother, "Star", and grandmother (!) "Daisy" started hanging around our house just a few weeks after Molly's passing, we thought the coincidence a little much. Daisy became pregnant, but we passed on the kittens, figuring it was too soon. Then Star became pregnant (the act for which I witnessed on our back patio, with "daddy" possibly being a randy orange stray I named "Pruneface", given his slight facial disfigurement that made me think of "Top Cat" by way of "Dick Tracy"). On August 23rd, upon returning from my belated b-day dinner at nearby Lee's, Lidia and I joined in on a search for Star's missplaced kittens and we found them only two doors over. One was a tortie--a vocal one!--and we decided we'd adopt her. "Maggie" joined us on Thanksgiving Day, and has been keeping all of us busy ever since. She's fast following Molly's footsteps as my "muse"--she's been pawing the screen the whole time I've been writing this.

25 October 2005

A Sneak Peak At Park Chan-wook's "Lady Vengeance"

Those of you with the good taste to be fans of "Oldboy" are no doubt counting the days until the release of Park Chan-wook's final chapter in his "revenge trilogy", which began with 2002's "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance". "Lady Vengeance", shortened from "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance", will be released sometime in 2006 but you can read my Toronto International Film Festival review here.

In the meantime, Lion's Gate will release "Three Extremes", an anthology featuring a segment by Chan-wook, on October 28th.

24 October 2005

Great--Now, Explain How Kirk Douglas Could Be A French Soldier?

Still confused by Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Worse yet: never seen it? For those of you who still bear this secret shame, to quote another ape (John Edwards): "Help is on the way". Some folks have put together a nifty, deconstruction/Coles' Notes (Canada's version of "Cliff's" same) version of the still greatest science-fiction epic/mind-shag of all time (okay, so the PanAm space lounge is horribly dated). Re-experience The Ultimate Trip here. But don't hold yer breath for Keir Dullea/Gary Lockwood cameos...and you'll have to hum your own Thus Spake Zarathustra...

20 October 2005

"First Order Of Business: Banish Kal-El Cage To Phantom Zone..."

I don't wanna sound like another smug Canadian, but I don't think I can stand another two-plus years of That Idiot in office in that otherwise fine nation to the south. With Walken 2008 a hoax, and neither Pat Paulsen nor Larry Harmon in the running, our best hope for a New World Order might be another Texan--albeit an alien with anger management issues, who took up residence in Planet Houston. From his campaign lit: "I served with the military council of Krypton, where I devised a number of plans to overthrow the government and single-handedly rule the planet. I hope this assures you of my unquestionable honor, integrity, and service to country."

Hey, I'm convinced! Cast your vote here.

18 October 2005

Schumacher Apologizes For "Batman & Robin"

"With Batman & Robin, everybody got really greedy...Adults think kids are too scared of Batman, so we had to make it more kid-friendly, make it funnier, make it lighter... I take full responsibility," says the director on the audio commentary of his much-loathed "Batman & Robin" (available today as part of Warner's "Batman Anthology" boxed set), the overwrought 1997 abomination that killed the series until it was resurrected this year by Christopher Nolan (whose wonderful "Batman Begins" was also released on DVD today).

So there. Now we can all stop bitching and get over it already....

17 October 2005

"Capote" Reviewed At Movieforum

Lidia F's typically-thoughtful review of "Capote''--starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keenor--is now up at the Movieforum blog spot. I had to skip this one at this year's TIFF because of "Tideland", but based upon her review, I'll definitely add it to my "must see" list, when and if it ever opens in Toronto. She'll tell you all about it here.

Rocket NOT Reported...

Sure, he'll never be mentioned in the same breath as Bill Murray, or even Garrett Morris for that matter, but it strikes me as rather sad that one of the more-notorious "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" passed away last week, and his obit has received little coverage (as of this posting, his IMDB bio page lists him as still living). Charles Rocket, of the ill-fated and much-lamented 1980-81 season of "Saturday Night Live", died on October 7th in Connecticut at the age of 56. Sadly, the cause of death has been ruled a suicide--Rocket reportedly cut his throat with a knife. Rocket is survived by his wife Beth, and son Zane.

Rocket (formerly Charles Calervie)--a former news anchor and weatherman, was arguably groomed to be the new cast's Chevy Chase, with his blandly handsome features and sneering delivery. But he blew his chances at his own "Oh Heavenly Dog" by blurting out the once-shocking "f-word" during a parody of the "Dallas" "Who Shot J.R." episode. Rocket would claim it was an accident, but there are many who maintained it was a deliberate stunt to get himself fired from the show, which at the time seemed on the brink of cancellation (Dick Ebersol had taken over the producing reigns from creator Lorne Michaels, who eventually returned, of course).

Rocket continued on as a voice and supporting actor, appearing in such varied fare as "Moonlighting", "Earth Girls are Easy," "Dumb & Dumber", "Dances With Wolves" and "Max Headroom". He also played accordion in many bands, and performed on a tribute album to Fellini composer Nino Rota with "Blondie"s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein.

For more on the 1980-81 season, check out the excellent "Saturday Night: A Backstage History Of Saturday Night Live", by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad.

16 October 2005

"When The Dead Walk, We Must Learn To Crochet, Or We Lose The War..."

In honour of this week's DVD release of George Romero's long-overdue (and most excellent, IMHO) fourth entry into his decades-spanning zombie allegory--that's "Land Of The Dead" to those of you "into the whole brevity thing"--here's one of the stranger homages to the second, and still best chapter, 1978's "Dawn Of The Dead". Undead Cozies!!! And here I thought I was a die-hard 'cause I've got a mint-condition copy of the TSR boardgame and the Starlog poster book (both signed by Romero, Savini, and Argento--and no, I'll never sell 'em). But this takes dedication to a whole new level (but don'tcha kinda wish you could buy one?)...

Check out what happens when ghouls fall into The Improbability Drive here.

14 October 2005

He's Bond, Mom's Blond, He's A Blonde Bond--Oh, It's HIM Already!

Well, like you haven't heard this about a thousand times today already, but it appears that for once, the fanboyz had it right and Daniel Craig will be the next James Bond. The news was leaked to the press hours before the studio's official announcement by Craig's...mother...who was probably just trying to call the neighbours but still hasn't gotten the hang of these new-fangled phones.

Carol Blond is obviously thrilled that her youngster (actually, 37) has been awarded the coveted role over the better-known Colin Farrell, Clive Owen, Ewan McGregor, and Pierce Brosnan--who I'm still not sure was in, out, or even willing to reprise the role. Sez Mom: "We're thrilled to bits. This has come at a very good time in his career. He has worked hard all his life and this will be his most famous part. It will be life-changing, but I think he is old enough and experienced enough to handle it."

Craig is a damn fine actor of impressive range and charisma. Chances are you've seen him as Paul Newman's trigger-happy lunatic son in "Road To Perdition". Chances are you haven't seen him in Matthew Vaughan's crime gem "Layer Cake", which you really should remedy--now.

The next installment will be yet another adaptation of Sir Ian Fleming's first Bond novel "Casino Royale", which was adapted for the first time in 1954 on live television (with American Barry Nelson as "Jimmy Bond", and as a notorious, problem-plagued and overblown madcap comedy in 1967. This take, presumably a straight one, begins in January under the direction of a returning Martin Campbell.

12 October 2005

"Respect The Flag, Fuzzball!"

Wookie warrior/navigator/Dejarik Holochess champion "Chewbacca" will become a U.S. citizen when Peter Mayhew takes the pledge in Arlington, Texas next Monday. The 60-year old British-born thesp is married to a native-Texan, so according to law, he'll be able to take the tests after having lived on American soil for less than six years. A good part of those years at comic book conventions.

"I am feeling very happy about it," said Mayhew. "I know that I have the best of both worlds with the dual nationality."

At least we know that this time, the big man (7 ft., 3 inches!!!) will walk away with a proper medal.

07 October 2005

But Can They Computer Generate A Cameo By Richard Egan?

Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's graphic novel "300" has quite the cast: "Variety" reports Lena Headey ("The Brothers Grimm"), Dominic West ("The Wire"), David Wenham ("Van Helsing"), Vincent Regan ("Empire") and Rodrigo Santoro ("Love, Actually") have joined headliner Gerard Butler ("Beowulf And Grendel") for this latest historical swashbuckler. Production starts in Montreal in about 2 weeks.

Butler plays King Leonidas, who led 300 Spartan warriors into a bloody battle with the Persian army at Thermopylae. Headey will play Leonidas' wife "Gorgo". Beyond that, there's no current word as to who plays who.

As with the adaptation of Miller's "Sin City", "300" will be shot entirely against a green screen with CG backdrops to be added later. Let's hope this one's as big a hit as "Sin City"--a film version of Miller and Darrow's "Hard Boiled" in the capable hands of someone like David Twohy or Kerry Conran would be a beautiful thing indeed...

04 October 2005

And On The Next "Dini Petty Show": Survivors Of Gilliam...

Canadian actress/activist (and now, director) Sarah Polley had her own "unique" reaction to Terry Gilliam's latest polarizing oddity "Tideland": she published a letter she'd written to the filmmaker upon hearing of his plan to shoot in Saskatchewan, which documented the alleged "traumas" she'd endured as a result of his demanding conditions when she appeared (at age 9) in his problem-plagued 1988 epic "The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen". So concerned was she for the health of "Tideland" star Jodell Ferdland, she called ACTRA (Canada's version of SAG) and urged them to keep an eye on the girl!

Claims Polley: "Basically, I remember being afraid a lot of the time. I felt incredibly unsafe. I remember a couple of trips to the hospital after being in freezing water for long periods of time, losing quite a bit of my hearing for days at a time due to explosives, having my heart monitored when one went off relatively close to me, etc. I remember running through this long sort of corridor where explosives went off every few feet, things were on fire, etc..."

Gilliam, obviously a good sport, responded with civility and some regret: "As far as the scars of Munchausen go, I had no idea that they were that deep...You seemed so focused, I had no idea you were having such a terrifying time." However, the director did question her memory as to what scenes she actually appeared in, and what were, in fact, the work of her double...

Here's a link to their exchange as published in The Toronto Star.

01 October 2005

"The Warriors" Turns 26. Can You Dig It?

Walter Hill's lean-and-mean 1979 thriller "The Warriors" turns 26 this year (wonder why Paramount dropped the ball in failing to award this enduring cult classic a proper silver anniversary last year...?). Very cool Mezco action figures hit shelves last month (a choice of two Baseball Furies, for completists), a new (and controversial) "special edition" DVD was released this week, and later in the month, Rockstar Games North will unveil a videogame incarnation for the PS2 and Xbox.

Pretty impressive legs for a low-budget film based on a largely unknown novel (by Sol Yurik--which I was once able to find buried in one of those 25 cent paperback bins in my hometown's Woolworth's) which was inspired by a little known Greek legend (hence character names like Cyrus and Ajax). Hill based his screenplay more on the tale, "Anabasis" by Xenophone, than on Yurik's book, and originally meant to open the film with a "sometime in the near future" subtitle to explain the film's decidedly unrealistic and underpopulated Manhattan (perhaps the opticals cost too much...?).

Seeing it today, it's hard to believe that this bloodless and ultra-stylized fantasy (the fight in Central Park is almost like "West Side Story" without the music) was once vilified by activists who blamed it for violent incidents that allegedly occurred at various screenings, which, of course, only upped its cache of "cool". No doubt in this post "Hot Coffee" era, the videogame will inspire much of the same hysteria.

It's still a great film, and one of the first I can remember seeing which seemed inspired by the language of comics (and it had one of the still all-time-greatest movie posters, for some reason, not included in the disc's packaging...). Walter Hill is a director long overdue for some serious AFI love...