Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

John Hughes passed away yesterday.

Holy shit!

He was only 59!

Double shit!

“I can’t believe it. They fucking forgot my birthday!”

I am not embarrassed to admit that I have watched Sixteen Candles something like three zillion times. That’s a conservative estimate. And not just on-in-the-background watching, but with rapt attention. Just a perfect movie through and through.

I wished I had Farmer Ted’s confidence. He wasn’t really a farmer; he was just a geek who didn’t buy into his own geekness. And I bought into mine big-time. Farmer Ted talked a big game. Fake it ’til you make it, contrasting Samantha’s fear of going after the object of her amorous feelings — the to-die-for Jake Ryan.

Then there were the brothers, Bryce and Cliff, played by John Cusack and Darren Harris. Uber-geeky with their headsets and goggles, they’re Farmer Ted’s henchnerds, and they steal pretty much any scene they’re in.

Whatever happened to that John Cusack, anyway? He seemed to have some promise.

Anyway, I’m not here to analyze the movie or tell you about it. You know it rules. I know it rules. Let’s pay tribute to Mr. John Hughes by watching one of the best scenes right here:

Rest in peace, John Hughes. Thanks for one of my all-time favorite movies.


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Philippe Petit spent forty-five minutes dancing on 200 feet of tightrope stretched between the WTC towers, and I got sweaty-palmed just looking at photos of him standing on the edge.

Philippe Petit spent forty-five minutes dancing on 200 feet of tightrope stretched between the WTC towers, and I got sweaty-palmed just looking at photos of him standing on the edge.

I just watched this documentary, Man On Wire. No doubt you’ve already heard of this fine piece of film, but we just got around to checking it out via that magic that is Netflix.

Philippe Petit is a young tightrope walker in the 1960s who chances upon an article about these towers being built in New York City, and he fancies that these twin towers to the heavens are being built solely for him to dance between on a wire. And so begins an adventure unlike anything before or since.

Told through recent interviews with Philippe’s team and a great amount of film footage as they planned, discussed and scouted, the film draws circles around the actual tightrope dance until that magic moment. And this moment is surprising in its emotional depth when it finally arrives. You almost feel as Phillippe, anticipating and dreaming about it for so long, and then everything else drops away, you are hypnotized, entranced.

It’s a moment unlike anything. Accomplishing the impossible. Walking on air, a quarter of a mile in the sky. And the heft of the moment is not lost on anyone involved, either, as Jean-Louis, Petit’s grounding and right hand man, is clearly overcome with emotion just recounting.

Add it to your Netflix queue or pick it up. Man On Wire will transfix you with beauty of vision and of character.

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I don’t like scary movies.  I’m easily upset by brutal violence, can’t handle realistic gore, have nightmares at the slightest hint of supernatural activity, and didn’t even really like the scene in Borat when the antique store gets all smashed up.

I was unprepared, however, for the terrifying ride that is Grey Gardens.  What could be scary about two dottering old ladies living in a dilapidated house in the Hamptons?  Plenty, it turns out.

Grey Gardens, made by the Mayles brothers in 1975, follows the lives of Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In late 1971 and early 1972, the Suffolk County Health Department threatened the women with eviction for the poor condition of their house.  The story was publicized in the National Enquirer and New York, which led to national interest.  Onassis helped them get their house back into liveable condition and shortly after the Mayles made Grey Gardens.  (For more information on the chronology and background see Wikipedia.)  Here’s the original trailer for the film, with some great visuals of how beautiful both Edies were in their heyday.

In the opening scene, Little Edie explains her “costume for the day.”

Something about her tone, her strange, self-effacing awareness of her own brand of crazy, and the inanity of her speech really caught me off guard.  The movie just gets stranger from here in a series of eerie vignettes.  Little Edie continues her ramblings, telling the cameraman her secrets and theories.

The relationship between Little Edie and Big Edie is completely fucked.  I can’t tell who’s crazier, but Little Edie is certainly more lucid.  The women sit around in their bedroom for most of the documentary, alternately complaining about how the other has ruined their life and remembering the good old days when they were both young and beautiful.  Here, in a scene that held me rapt in horrified attention, Big Edie sings “Tea for Two.”

There were so many other scenes that were similarly terrifying: Little Edie feeding raccoons in the attic, cats pissing and shitting on the women’s beds, Little Edie dancing in tights in the front hallway to music only she can hear or understand, Big Edie in a fancy outfit at her birthday party as if everything is as it was in her youth, Little Edie spinning weirdly sexual conspiracy theories about their handyman – “The Marble Faun.”  The whole movie was a shocking illustration of total madness, and watching it was deeply uncomfortable and altering.

In doing research for this post, the thing that surprised most was how positive most people’s reactions were to the movie.  There is an “Oh what sweet old ladies!” tone all over the interwebs.  I’m not sure what this means.  Do most people not know how to recognize extreme mental illness?  Is there an element of romanticism in cat-piss laden, raccoon infested faded grandeur that I just can’t understand or appreciate?  There is one relatively articulate article here in which the author discusses how his horror gave way to appreciation after four (!) viewings.  I will NOT be testing this theory – once was enough for me.

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A toast from Mr. Leonard Cohen

A toast from Mr. Leonard Cohen

I was in the middle of a session when I saw that a Facebook friend had posted this Leonard Cohen article discussing and rating some of Cohen’s most depressing songs. I’m in a really good mood here — the tune I’m working on is going great, and working on one of these tunes (Larry Banilow) you can’t help but be in a good mood — so I took a break to delve into some of these Leonard Cohen songs’ darkest crevices.

Now, it never ceases to amaze me how many times you can hear a song without having a clue as to what it’s blatantly about. Despite my absolute love of the craft, lyrics can often just float past my ears without my even noticing them as a whole. Sure, especially witty bits, great turns of phrase, lovely lines of mellifluous alliteration and the like will catch my ear, but for the most part I get caught up in the production and arrangements of songs first. The sounds. All the parts that contribute to the whole. And the vocal and the lyrics are parts of the whole in a lot of respects.

Of course this is a case by case thing. Some music places more stress on the lyrics and others on the music, and Cohen’s songs are most notable for their lyrics. See, he was a published novelist and poet before he became known for his songs. And his mastery of the written word quite possibly eclipses both Bob Dylan’s and Paul Simon’s.

Anyway, I was first struck by how direct Cohen is in addressing suicide in the song “Dress Rehearsal Rag” and then struck again that the subject matter went right over my head ’til reading that article and really listening to those lyrics. Chilling. I apparently need to spend more time with Songs of Love and Hate, an album I do own.

But if you’re not familiar with Leonard Cohen, though, try this one on for size. “Tower of Song” is a gorgeous tune, and you might even recognize his backing band. This is from the Leonard Cohen documentary “I’m Your Man,” which is excellent.

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Yup.  It’s true.  Colbert, Carell, Smigel (triumph the insult comic dog and those crazy SNL cartoons) and Carvey all in one sketch comedy show.   Only problem is happened 12, no wait, 13 years ago.   On ABC.   For 7 episodes that actually aired.

Yeah, I remembered hearing about it, but never actually caught it before it was yanked.    Now it is apparently coming out on DVD, this week maybe?   With the “fabled” 8th Episode that never actually aired.

One can view a 5 minute version of the first episode below.  I’m kinda partial to the Germans Saying Nice Things sketch.   Carvey almost resembles Andy Kaufman playing a Deutschlander in it…

Of course, one shouldn’t forget the Bill Clinton opening, which, in the full episode, actually features Bill nursing  a bunch of dogs and cats, milk pouring out of his multiple nipples.   But then I’ve said too much already.

full episodes available for preview, who knows for how long, over at hulu.com right now!

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Young At Heart is an incredible and lovely movie about the Young At Heart Chorus, a choir whose members’ average age is about 82.

It will uplift you and break your heart repeatedly in the most endearing way, and it will forever change how you hear every song they sing.

Watch the preview right here, and I think it’s still available in Comcast OnDemand. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love this movie. Oh, and keep tissues nearby.

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