Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gould standard

A Seventies star turns 70 on Aug. 29. Elliott Gould is starting the celebration early courtesy of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which is hosting a two-week program that takes its title from a Time magazine cover story on the actor, "Star for an Uptight Age." It begins tomorrow with a week of screenings of 1970's M*A*S*H, which, along with 1969's terrific Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (his Oscar nominee, screening Aug. 16) launched the native Brooklynite into stardom.

True confession: I didn't like M*A*S*H at the movies (too self-consciously hipster, overrated) or on TV (too earnest), and I'll be a party pooper next week. But I'll join in, at least in spirit, next Friday, Aug. 8, when Alan Arkin's superb film of Jules Feiffer's Little Murders (1971) screens, with Gould making a Q&A appearance. This is as black as black comedy gets, and the actor's shell-shocked performance sums up the period zeitgeist as a crime-ridden New York crumbles all around him. Gould and M*A*S*H director Robert Altman did much, much better by me with 1973's delightfully unconventional take on Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye (pictured), which screens Aug. 9 (again with Gould in attendance) and the gambling comedy-drama California Split (1974), with he and George Segal two peas in a pod, or a blackjack table. (Due to music rights issues the DVD is annoyingly cut, so the big screen is the best place to enjoy the film.)

All of these movies have aged well, and all of them pretty much flopped back in the shag carpet days. (Note to nostalgists: Yes, the Seventies had a lot of exciting films, but then as now it was the dreck that drew audiences. It's just that our dreck has superheroes.) Unlike his contemporary Dustin Hoffman, who bided his time between plum parts, Gould struck while the iron was hot post-M*A*S*H, and struck it again and again till it was ice cold. 1970's Getting Straight, the dead-on-arrival I Love My Wife, and Ingmar Bergman's poorly regarded The Touch (1971) are rarely revived artifacts from a meteoric streak that burned out fast. So was the later Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976), which helped kill off the nostalgia craze ushered in by The Sting and Paper Moon in 1973, but Gould liked playing a larcenous song-and-dance man, so in it is.

1974's Busting (Aug. 10) is a gritty cop buddy picture with Robert Blake. Its director, Peter Hyams, cast Gould as a wearily idealistic journalist caught up in a conspiracy in the excellent Capricorn One (1978), one of the actor's last trademark parts. He's still worked, of course, gaining a new audience via Friends and the Ocean's movies, and a new film, The Caller, with Frank Langella, that looks promising.

There are other, better pictures that BAM might have selected. I would have swapped Harry and Walter with William Friedkin's nimbler The Night They Raided Minsky's. Besides Capricorn One, a superior action movie, there is the nerve-quickening thriller The Silent Partner, where he matches wits with a diabolical Christopher Plummer, and especially Bugsy, where he is in top form as the lummox gangster who friend Warren Beatty has to deal with. But it's his party, and after highs and lows offscreen and all those iconic parts where he never quite got the girl or the version of the American dream his characters had concocted he's earned the right to celebrate it his way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When Dinosaurs went naked

I added When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) to my Hammer Films collection on DVD today. It's a Warner Bros. "Sci-Fi Double Feature," paired with another, more obscure Hammer that I've never seen, Moon Zero Two, and on sale only at Best Buy (for now; rumor has it this and the two other sci-fi sets WB put out today will be more widely available in a couple of months). Written by Crash and Empire of the Sun novelist J.G. Ballard, the movie, which has Oscar-nominated stop motion-animated dinos and prehistoric effects, has a terrific title that had me lusting after it when I was a kid, but in vain--it never made it to TV syndication, and I didn't see it till it appeared on laserdisc in the early 90s.

When I did see it, I was still lusting after it. The film stars model Victoria Vetri (immortalized in a cameo and dialogue exchange in Rosemary's Baby) as a cavewoman--not historically accurate, to be sure, but as as inaccuracies go quite an eye-pleasing one, right up there with Raquel Welch in Hammer's earlier One Million Years B.C. The dinosaur effects are top-notch, and Vetri is cute frolicking with a baby saurian and its fearsome parent. But according to legend she was a lot cuter frolicking with her cavemate in topless and bottomless footage excised from the G-rated picture, which in its cut form can be enjoyed by the whole family (if you don't mind the breast- and bottom-hugging cavegirl attire).

Well, mom and dad, you may want to chase Junior out of the TV room at about the 77-minute mark for a minute or two--though the disc sports a G rating, there's more of Vetri to love, as the uncut version (with brief but enticing nudity) has finally resurfaced. The unheralded substitution of a complete for a cut version occurs from time to time, and is always a welcome surprise, particularly when a 1968 Playmate of the Year is involved. There's no fixing the movie's other flaw: Real-life lizards unconvincingly done up as dinos share the screen with the excellent Jim Danforth/Roger Dicken creations, which I always hate. But the uncensored When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is at least easier on the eyes. WB may be dismayed to learn that it has perhaps inadvertently delivered the goods--there is talk of a Best Buy recall--but dino fans who have moved onto other more adult interests will no doubt be pleased.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cool like Fonzie

The guys who are trying to get the phrase "nuke the fridge" off the ground are trying to rewrite history. "Jump the shark," a reference to an infamous audience-grabbing ploy on the TV show Happy Days, is pretty much entrenched in the pop culture lexicon. But young-ish Turks are trying to replace it with a first act twist from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which, to my mind, is no more or less incredible than anything else that happens in the picture, and is also "explained." This is what got my goat: Jason Nicholl, a high school teacher behind the movement to dethrone the Fonz for Indy, says, “‘Jump the shark’ is for people over the age of 60, who remember the show...“nuke the fridge” is a “new, fresh take.” Come now, Jason--this 43-year-old remembers Fonzie and the shark quite vividly, and I daresay your 37-year-old self does too, even if you were still padding about your parents' living room in footed pajamas. You'll have to do better than that, as "jump the shark" hardly qualifies as a senior moment.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ray at Not Ray's

In between errands I stopped for a slice at Not Ray's Pizza, on Fulton here in Brooklyn. (There are Rays, and Not Ray's, and I suppose Never Were Ray's all over New York, but explaining why is complicated, as we New Yorkers say.) Despite the name, on the wall there were framed publicity stills of famous Ray's. I assume Ray Charles was up there, but I didn't see him. I did, however, spot Ghostbusters tunesmith Ray Parker, Jr., movie tough guy Ray Danton, and Citizen Kane's Boss Gettys, Ray Collins. I admit I had trouble recalling Collins' name (few are identified, and I was stumped about the guy seated next to Susan Hayward in one still). I was most delighted to see Ray Harryhausen immortalized on Not Ray's wall. He's easy to find--if you don't know him by sight, he's the guy adjusting the Cyclops maquette he created for The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, 50 years ago. Ah, the things you see in your neighborhood.

A closer reading

I felt myself getting into high moral dudgeon over today's New York Times article about reading, till I realized that without really noticing the change I have become a digital reader myself. I still read the Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and at least two magazines, The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, cover-to-cover. I skim a few more, like New York, which either adapted itself for the digital age by becoming one info-bit after another (like so many magazines tailored for 20-minute spans) or was always such.

But I think I've read just one or two books this year. There are various reasons for this, but time spent online is at or near the top of the list. I would agree that web-surfing is a form of reading, but like surfing you're always looking for the next wave. There's a distracted, trying-to-keep-up quality to online reading different from the pleasures of long-form immersion. ("Long-form," another bits-and-bytes construction that's crept in.) Between applying two coats of "ballet slipper" pink paint in the baby's room, I hopscotched around the web, flitting from an involved discussion of a local flea market that's attracted the ire of a nearby church to my Facebook page (blogging for wimps, I think) to the usual time-soak suspects. Afterwards, I reclined with a fine book, Richard Aldous' history of prime ministers Gladstone and Disraeli, The Lion and the Unicorn.

The difference in wading through this material was akin to that of a quick, meter's-running shower and a long, relaxing soak. The other difference is that I shower everyday. But I rarely take a bath. I've been reading the book since Christmas, in tiny increments. And I feel vaguely guilty about that: Print is crippled by the convenience of pixels. I'd rather know more about the legendary PMs--how diminished our own politicians seem--than the flea market, which I visited once, but it's more urgent, somehow, to be up to speed on that neighborhood issue. (Will it snowball into a "crisis," that favorite word to get eyes on blogs?)

As a more-or-less crisis-resistant person, I try to go to the flow with these digital-era developments. But something in the Times piece gave me pause. "Young people 'aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line,” said Rand J. Spiro, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University who is studying reading practices on the Internet. 'That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.'" That may be, but what about connecting the lines to see the big picture? What about discerning throughlines and themes in the various strands? The lack of comprehension bothers me; worse is a professor, even a Michigan State professor, touting this as if it were some sort of breakthrough in the human organism.

Online, responding to a post about you-know-what blockbuster movie complaining about this-or-that change to a mythology some are way too deeply invested in, I said that past generations were irked over adaptations of classic novels; today, it's classic graphic novels that everyone's up in arms about. I took the hit for snobbery (oh, and sorry, Spartans, for the MSU crack) but it was merely an observation. Our little girl will grow up with both, as we grew up with one and gradually adjusted to the other, and it's up to us that she gets a proportionate share of Arthur Miller and Frank Miller. And I'll bet a fair number of eyes glancing briefly over this too-long, no-pictures post are more familiar with the latter than the former.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Popdose: The Batman-free column

Well, more or less. But there is Baghead, and Brideshead Revisited, and Lou Reed, who's a scary kind of icon, too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Van Doren speaks!

Probably because it's not online--you have to buy the magazine and read the article, grumble, grumble, grumble--there hasn't been much talk about Charles Van Doren's candid article about the 1950s quiz show scandals in this week's New Yorker. (Maybe everyone's still upset over the Obama cover.) It's a good read, a full 50 years after his indictment following his planned "winning streak" on the Twenty-One show, and the basis of Robert Redford's award-nominated 1994 film Quiz Show.

Van Doren is contrite and at peace with himself, and it was interesting to learn of his moral dilemma over accepting a $100,000 consulting fee for the movie. He turned it down, and did not participate in the shoot. He did see the film, and was not happy with its compressions and distortions, but loved John Turturro's performance as the contestant he checkmated, Herb Stempel (all these years later, reality shows still adhere to the model of "hero" and "villain" rivals). He doesn't say so, but I imagine he was aggrieved over the way the film portrayed his relationship with his eminent father, played by a distant Paul Scofield; he remembers it more warmly, even at the height of his infamy. And he did meet his filmic self, Ralph Fiennes, in an amusing roundabout way. Quiz Show really could use a better DVD--if they didn't pay him, perhaps the more open Van Doren could be enticed to record a commentary track to set the record straight?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Barbarians at the gate

The Dark Knight is breaking records--and taxing patience at some of the better movie-related sites, like The House Next Door and Dave Kehr's blog, which have been inundated with anonymous posters and batty first-time commenters just plain pissed that someone didn't like the "masterpiece" released on Friday. It's fascinating to wade through some of this stuff, put up by guys (I somehow doubt there are many women passionate on this subject) who only see comic book (oops!--"graphic novel") adaptations, and have trouble reading anything not broken up by pictures and bubble text.

But also discouraging. These sites don't exclude anyone (though I think The House, which has suffered the brunt of it, could, and should, put its shields up against the anonymous droogs) but they attract the cinema-literate, and I like having someplace to go that isn't full of fannish, common-denominator bleating. I can only hope the level of discourse rises to its usual level once the hype subsides, the Jokers go away, and we move onto the next big thing. I didn't much care for the film--"masterpiece" status is earned over time, and some of the ravers admit to second thoughts on its weak spots--but the intrusion it's caused at my usual online watering holes makes me like it even less. Go back to your Bat-caves.

The good news is: No more superhero pictures this summer, and not too many for next, as the writers strike acted like Kryptonite on their production. And I suspect that the tide will recede after this latest high-water mark--it's hard to imagine anyone but super-geeks being interested in a big-screen Thor or Green Hornet or Shazam!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight reviewed

It seems that you have to love the new Batman picture, or risk the hatred of throngs of fanboys. Well, I didn't. "The most disappointing movie of the year," I say over at Popdose, and it doesn't get much better. Come and get me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grab some Couch Karma

Like Batman, I have a secret identity: away from entertainment I write about design for Array magazine. The folks behind the title have launched a new site, Couch Karma, dedicated to following the design current, wherever it leads. Whether you lust after the hottest furniture, or have never really appreciated the sex appeal of a chair, this site's for you.

Emmys lost in space

The Emmys were announced this morning, and there's no joy in Caprica yet again as Battlestar Galactica, which was teased as a "pre-nominee," failed to secure a Best Series nod (er, well, not quite, but I own up to my mistakes--see below.) No surprise, I guess, given the overall antipathy by awards panels to anything that smacks of sci-fi, but the show (and the similarly snubbed The Tudors) is surely better than nominees Boston Legal and Damages (how I hate lawyer programs) and the loathsome Dexter, whose moralizing and nihilism I find repellent.

I'm a little shocked that the much-acclaimed The Wire never brought home the bacon, nominations-wise, in its run on HBO; then again, I've never really seen it myself, outside of a stray episode or two. We still have the lauded John Adams miniseries sitting on our DVR. Perhaps both these programs will act as backup babysitters later this summer.

I don't follow the Emmys (and have never watched the ceremony, which must be a real mish-mash given the sheer tonnage of categories) but it seems like there are a fair amount of new shows getting attention, as the organization finally discovers basic cable. All eyes will be on the second season of AMC's excellent Mad Men, which starts July 27, to see if QC has been maintained (my guess is yes, but that naysayers will pounce on any dropoff from this critics' darling). Meanwhile, Emmy (which I congratulate for nominating Sharon Gless' Nip/Tuck crazy, who could stomp on Dexter's ass) has a half-season left to get it right on Battlestar Galactica (pictured).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baby boom

Child advocacy groups are getting diaper rash, but we're riveted to Baby Borrowers, the first reality show I've paid any attention to since the salad days of The Apprentice. (HGTV, the home design channel, is usually on in the background, but there's only so much renovation and staging I can take before I tune out.) There is no game in this BBC adaptation, or, rather, there is one very important one--the game of life, as five teenage couples are obliged to figure out and cope with the demands of infants, pre-teens, young teens, and the elderly, in a weekly progression.

Most parents our age tune in for the laughs--the caregivers and the cared-for do their share of bozo things--and the opportunity to feel relieved that, hey, we're not doing such a bad job after all. For us, it's a kind of training exercise. As the notion of round-the-clock child care becomes very real to us, we feel the teens are getting a bad rap; How does anyone, at any age, in this situation know this stuff on the first go-round? There are plenty of books, and lots of received wisdom, but much of it comes down to high-wire improvisation learned on the job. The show calls itself "the ultimate in birth control," designed to dissuade the feckless teens to reconsider sexual experimentation, early marriage, and unplanned pregnancy (not in so many words, as NBC doesn't want to put off viewers to the right or left of mass audience tastes).

The strength of the show is that the kids (who spend three days in each parenting role, with the actual parents watching via closed circuit TV) continually frustrate our low expectations for them--after all, no one expects anything from teenagers, who operate in a fog of hormones and variable self-esteem. Somehow, they cope, sometimes wisely, and sometimes cunningly. The trained nanny who is standing by is rarely deployed, at least on the telecasts. The theme seems to be: Whatever works, within the boundaries that the teens come to set as suddenly responsible authority figures. (Kelsey and Sean are pictured.) Amusingly, when the teens fall out amongst themselves, they regress to the level of their charges, turning sullen and obstinate and locklng themselves in their rooms--bad behavior that, come to think of it, can be repeated at any age.

At the end of each show, the real parents meet the faux parents for a heart-to-heart. There are no bad guys on the show; even the worst children are adorable when silent and not throwing pillows. What the parents, who are our age and tend to lecture in a schoolteacher-ish way, don't seem to grasp is that their little darlings will someday soon be teenagers, with their own sets of challenges. Their attempts to "relate" are a little clueless; in tonight's episode, a white father gave a black teen "props" for helping his daughter with her math homework, a friendly yet somehow tone-deaf expression of solidarity. They would do well to look at the teens, who manage to curb their laziest impulses and do the work, as good role models for the future. We sure do!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Outcasts and Exiles

Reviewed this week at Two big-studio, well-publicized movies you may have heard about. One of them is surprisingly good.

Was I surprised to read a review this morning of a picture, Death Defying Acts, that had flown completely under my radar. I'm pretty up on these things, and a new Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Oscar and Lucinda), with Guy Pearce as Houdini and Catherine Zeta-Jones, is hardly on the fringes, like one of those "mumblecore" offerings that cost $10 to make. This saleable film is getting as marginal a release as possible. Even Houdini couldn't find it. Now, it looks slight and may not be any good, but you'd think it would attract a smidgen more interest.

The best picture of the week is also obscure, and has been for 47 years. Thom Andersen's fine documentary L.A. Plays Itself got me interested in seeing The Exiles (pictured), an "anti-theatrical" portrait of Native American life relocated to the anonymity of the big city that had pretty much become an outcast itself over the decades. Andersen, Charles Burnett (whose outstanding Killer of Sheep had also languished), and Milestone Films have nicked Kent Mackenzie's classic-in-waiting from the archives and are giving it a proper release, at Manhattan's IFC Center. (DVD will bring it to a wider audience.) See it if you can. The extraordinary black-and-white cinematography (by co-producer John A. Morrill) captures a subculture at its vanishing point, as the lower-class Bunker Hill neighborhood (a film noir staple, distinguished by its funicular railway) was leveled a few years later, forcing another diaspora of its residents. Bunker Hill was recreated for the 2006 film Ask the Dust, but here is the real deal, circa from when a gallon of gas cost 27 cents. Perhaps the DVD will answer what happened to the people whose struggles the film observes.

Roman Polanski gets a fairer hearing in the documentary Wanted and Desired, which is getting theatrical dates after an HBO run last month. While not absolving him of the statutory rape that led to his flight from the California, it argues, convincingly, that the star-struck judge had it in for the filmmaker, a view supported by both the defense and the prosecution. The director, Marina Zenovich, leans a little too heavily on film clips to pop-psychoanalyze Polanski (or what she had access to; Macbeth, which is not shown, seems the best evidence of a psyche under duress) but she has done her homework on the case, and lets the victim in the case speak eloquently for herself.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Uptight with Dassin and Dee

I hadn't seen Jules Dassin's Uptight, until the Brooklyn Academy of Music showed it yesterday afternoon as part of its Afro-Punk Festival. Nor had the rest of the audience. Nor, in fact, had its co-star and co-writer, Ruby Dee, who was present at the screening. She recalled seeing a version of the film, which Paramount let escape at the tail end of turbulent 1968, but not in its final form. "As we were finishing the shoot, Dr. King was assassinated, so Jules took his cameras down to Memphis and Atlanta and incorporated some of that footage into the beginning of the film," Dee said. "We then rewrote and reshot some of the film to reflect what had just happened."

Revisiting Uptight (the title on the print, not Up Tight!, as I have seen it in reference materials) is like opening a time capsule. Some of what's inside has faded away, but much of it has a surprising, close-to-the-ground vitality. Dee and co-star Julian Mayfield, a novelist, playwright, and political activist, knew the black power movement from the inside, and their observations--sharp, hopeful, and critical--shaped Dassin's idea to remake John Ford's 1935 classic The Informer in 60's America. This was Dassin's first U.S. production since 1950's Night and the City; the Communist witch hunts that seized Hollywood sent him into European exile, where after a period of assimilation he made the hits Rififi (1955), Never on Sunday, for which he was nominated for two Oscars in the blacklist-breaking year of 1960, and Topkapi (1964).

Dassin's post-Topkapi features are fairly difficult to see, and the received wisdom is that they aren't worth the effort. But Uptight encourages renewed exploration. It was filmed in Dee's hometown, Cleveland, in the Hough neighborhood, which had experienced racial unrest in July 1966. The shattered city, shot in morose color by the great Boris Kaufman, is as much a seething presence in the picture as New York is in Dassin's Naked City and the London of Night and the City. (With no photos from the film available online, I borrowed this image, taken during the location shoot, from The image, suffused by the jangled soul of Booker T. and the M.G.'s that courses through the soundtrack, has a weary, morning-after texture that fits the aftermath of the assassination.

Dassin begins the picture with stirring footage of King's funeral procession (his casket, carried in a simple farm wagon, was drawn by mules), then cuts to the claustrophobia of the inner city, where revolutionaries sick of the repeated failure of his Gandhian tactics plot revenge. Guns are stolen, a security guard is killed, and agitator Johnny Wells (Max Julien, future star of The Mack) is on the run. Johnny is a friend of Tank (Mayfield), a laid-off steelworker, prone to drink, who is distrusted by most of the slicker, faster-talking rebels, led by the charismatic B.G. (Raymond St. Jacques). Tank, a symbol of black powerlessness and an anachronism in changing times, is pitied by his sometime girlfriend Laurie (Dee), a single mother at loose ends due to money troubles, and swayed by police informant Clarence (Roscoe Lee Browne), who makes no bones about being "a nigger, a stoolpigeon, and a faggot." Spurned by the movement, Tank goes to the police with what he knows about Johnny, setting up a tense shootout and sealing his fate, the only black liberation he is fated to know.

Featuring a host of familiar faces in supporting parts (including Frank Silvera, Janet MacLachlan, Ketty Lester, Dick Anthony Williams, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, and Juanita Moore, kindly reproachful in a key scene) Uptight is a socially conscious neo-noir, a soul brother to Dassin's 40s and 50s pictures. The cast is fine, with Mayfield the reverse image of Richard Widmark's desperate slickster in Night and the City and Browne dignifying a stereotypical part (Dee mentioned that homosexual intellectuals like Clarence were also outcasts from the movement, though the movie segregates him a little too obviously.) Besides its portrait of the black community under siege by poverty and divisiveness the movie also offers Dassin's take on informants (clear-eyed and jaundiced in equal measure) and blacklisting, with a moderate figure (Silvera) warning of camps for dissidents should the revolution explode.

Uptight received sympathetic if unenthusiastic reviews from Vincent Canby and Roger Ebert, and may have felt like salt rubbed into the open wound that was 1968 on its late December release. (Dee says Paramount was apprehensive about the movie, which in its brief release was as successful as Iraq war films are today.) Reviews mention an impatience with its dated, "with it" style, and I braced myself for a full-frontal assault of period camera tricks. But it never really came. The Informer had something of an Expressionist bent, and Uptight some correlative imagery. The credits unfold across an animated segment, a bleed of positive and despairing images etched in by Oscar-winning animators John and Faith Hubley. Death scenes are twinned with similarly spinning camerawork, one which cuts to a turntable in motion, and one sequence is filmed man-on-the-street style. The goofiest segment--where Tank teases caricatured white thrill-seekers in an arcade with a tirade about the forthcoming revolution, a scene shot in distorting funhouse mirrors--was warmly greeted by the audience, perhaps as a stylistic release from the nervous-making handheld and tracking shots prior.

Seeing Uptight after all these decades, in a 40th anniversary year rich with reflection and a new dream for America, proved a fitting epitaph for Dassin and Browne, both recently departed, and a happy ending for the 83-year-old Dee, who said tracking down the film had proved elusive till now (she mentioned another "lost" project, I believe a documentary she had produced about Joe Louis). BAM screens the picture (in an acceptable print) again this Tuesday, July 8, at 4:30pm. My hope for Uptight is that its distributor (or Legend Films, which has been putting some of Paramount's more obscure titles on DVD), will take on its first-ever home video release of Uptight as a not-so-far-in-the-future project.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

More's the pity

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas More, martyred July 6 in 1535. You don't have to be a Catholic or an Anglican to celebrate, just a film or theater buff. You can rent the 1966 Oscar winner A Man for All Seasons (it doesn't look to be telecast anywhere, a good tie-in opportunity wasted) or the 1988 TV version, headlined by stars who passed away earlier this year (not by execution); figure out a day this fall to see Frank Langella in the Roundabout revival of Robert Bolt's play, its first on Broadway since the original production of 1961-1963; or go to Showtime on Demand and order up the fifth episode of the second season of The Tudors, where More (played by Jeremy Northam) meets his maker. More deserves no less.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Attend the Revolution

Entertainment Weekly columnist Mark Harris will be presenting his acclaimed new book, Pictures at a Revolution, in a free program at the Donnell Library Center Auditorium (20 W. 53rd St. in Manhattan) on Thu., July 10, at 6pm. Subtitled "Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood," the book is an in-depth exploration of the very different films nominated for the 1967 Best Picture Oscar, Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and In the Heat of the Night. We cleared off a lot of space on our shelves this weekend and given how addictive the few pages I've read from this are I may have to restock them with a copy--or just borrow it from the library. Am I the only one who thinks Doctor Dolittle was robbed?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Popdose: The Wackness

Jesse Helms dying on the Fourth of July...that is wack. But what is The Wackness? Find out at, along with a few thoughts on Asia Argento in The Last Mistress. The dope Ben Kingsley (with wack hair) and Josh Peck are pictured.