The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler

Will update this entry when I get to my computer.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Will update this entry when I get to my computer.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment

All the President’s Men

I awoke and watched CBS Sunday Morning.  They repeated a segment on Gregg Allman.  He talked about coming up with the name Melissa for a song as he was in a store.  I went out to buy some food for Memorial Day, and I fell asleep while listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on the radio.  It seemed that John Prine was not very good at playing one of their games.  I went over to the bus stop and took the 6 and then the 72M over to Jack London Square.  I bought a ticket, perhaps for the last time, for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”  I thought that there was a lot of crying in the movie.  I returned home and felt grateful that it was a holiday weekend.  I went over to the record store and bought a Ringo Starr album, and the Partridge Family single “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted.”  I watched the Blu-ray edition of “All the President’s Men.”  It is still a great movie, although the changes in gathering information since 1972 is very apparent.  These reporters were struggling with index cards and phone books, and they used photocopiers.  I noticed that Robert Redford used the terrible two-finger method of typing, where Dustin Hoffman looked more efficient.  I could believe that Hoffman was a better writer than Redford.  Some of the fact gathering didn’t seem very solid, as it consisted in quotations from people.  I saw that Lindsay Crouse, Jane Alexander, and Meredith Baxter had roles in this movie.  F. Murray Abraham was Arresting Officer #1.  If the movie is true to all the facts, then Woodward and Bernstein drank a lot of coffee and ate at McDonald’s a lot.  I wondered if those were authentic wrappers and cups from 1972.  A sign that this was all happening a long time ago was the sight of tourists lined up to take the White House tour.  Everyone says that this movie contains a lot of suspense, even though we all know what the outcome will be.  That’s because for the longest time it looks like the bad guys are going to get away with it. They are the ones in power, and all the little people like the Jane Alexander character are frightened.  Who do these two reporters think they are, anyway?  History could have ended up so differently if a couple of things didn’t happen.  Some of what went on made me think of the 2016 election and Donald Trump.  History repeats itself, especially when it involves Republicans, who make it a point of looking to the past.  The bulk of the story happens over the course of about five months.  I was pretty impressed with the acting of Redford and Hoffman.  They made me believe that they were normal guys.  They were single-minded, though.  Didn’t they ever go to the movies?  One of them looked like a Bullets fan.  The cast was excellent, with Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, and Ned Beatty all doing a good job.  We get a real feeling that we’ve spent time with all of these people.  Alan J. Pakula was a good fit for this film especially after “The Parallax View.”  Gordon Willis was the cinematographer.  There was a great aerial shot that showed the city.  However, I wouldn’t say that this Blu-ray edition was especially great.  I remember this movie so vividly, even though the first time I saw it was decades ago.  In contrast, a movie like “Spotlight” has already faded from my memory quite a bit.  It was a reminder of what a great period the 1970s were, from “M*A*S*H” and “Five Easy Pieces” to “Manhattan” and “Apocalypse Now.”  I listened to Robert Hilburn’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Times radio program on KCSN.  He played songs by Kris Kristofferson, Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Webb, Joe South, and Carole King.  I thought about how much I liked “Rose Garden” and “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home.”  The Columbo episode on Me TV was “Ashes to Ashes,” with Patrick McGoohan and Sally Kellerman.  The murderer was stupid, as usual, in leaving behind an obvious clue.  The Kolchak episode was “Ripper.”  Simon Oakland was a good actor, although I wouldn’t rate his work in “Psycho” too highly.  Some of the people who died on May 29 include Fanny Brice (1951), Mary Pickford (1979), Romy Schneider (1982), Jeff Buckley (1997), Harvey Korman (2008), and Dennis Hopper (2010).  Today is a birthday for Noel Gallagher (50), Annette Bening (59), and Danny Elfman (64).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 29, Fanny Brice, the inspiration for Barbra Streisand’s “Funny Girl,” died at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1951.  In 1987, John Landis was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in the Twilight Zone movie accident that resulted in the death of Vic Morrow and two child actors.  In 1999, the remains of Philip Taylor Kramer of Iron Butterfly were found in a canyon near Malibu after he had been missing for four years.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment

Bang! The Bert Berns Story

I awoke and watched the chef segment of CBS This Morning.  Sheldon Simeon’s signature recipes include Chili swordfish with bok choy, Watercress tofu salad, Pancit, Spicy chicken sandwiches, Poke, and Bibingka.  I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend.  The Top 10 songs on May 31, 1975 were “When Will I Be Loved,” “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone,” “Shining Star,” “Old Days,” “Bad Time,” “Sister Golden Hair,” “Only Yesterday,” “How Long,” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” and “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.”  I went to work for five hours and browsed through the record store.  I bought a used Blu-ray copy of “Playtime.”  I heard about the death of Gregg Allman.  I headed to the movie theatre, where the cashier had annoyingly sold me a senior ticket.  I didn’t think I looked anywhere near that old, but it did save me two dollars.  The movie was “Bang! The Bert Berns Story.”  Like most of the other people in the audience, I had never heard of Bert Berns.  He was a songwriter and record producer who was involved in creating pop songs and records like “Twist and Shout,” “I Want Candy,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Brown Eyed Girl.”  He had friends in the Mob and made some enemies in the music business.  The famous record producer Jerry Wexler is described so negatively that I wondered what he was really like.  Berns’ story seemed to have elements of Phil Spector, Bobby Darin, and Ray Liotta’s character in “GoodFellas.”  Some of the people interviewed for the film were Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Van Morrison, Solomon Burke.  It’s impressive that he went out there and succeeded.  The emotion in those songs of his was quite incredible.  The influence of the Mob on his career is left cloudy.  Does anybody know what the truth is?  Berns with his heart problems wasn’t supposed to make it to age 21.  He died on December 30, 1967 at age 38.  There are so many songs on the soundtrack, like “Cry to Me” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” to indicated what Berns did in his short life.  The movie didn’t convince me that he was as great as Phil Spector, but it did show me that he did make his mark.  If all he ever did was to write “Piece of My Heart,” his contribution to pop music would have been significant.  After the screening was over, the co-director Bob Sarles appeared to talk about how the movie was made, and for a Q&A afterwards.  He said that he was living in Los Angeles editing television shows to earn enough movie to put his daughter through college when he went to a Joel Selvin book reading.  He met co-director Brett Berns, Bert’s son, and told him that he could help him out with this project.  Brett said that he already knew that he would need Bob’s help in completing the film.  The audience was interested in the interviewees.  Bob said that Paul McCartney was not hard to get because of financial arrangements: “Paul owns a piece of Bert.”  Most of the interviews were done by Brett before Bob got involved in the project.  Bob did not want to miss the Keith Richards interview.  The Wilson Pickett footage was from an archive.  I, like others, was surprised that Van Morrison was in the film.  Morrison was frustrated with living in a hotel room and Berns’ not doing anything for him.  Bob said that Van did not hate Bert, but he did hate Bert’s wife.  As far as the Mob went, Bob told a story, not confirmed, that Ahmet Ertegun was taken away in a limousine, and he feared that he would be killed.  Bob said that the PBS series American Masters would not be a good outlet for a small filmmaker like himself because of financial arrangements like having to raise two million dollars.  Bob closed his remarks with a bit of trivia, that a young Bill Graham could be seen in the mambo footage.  It was a pretty good movie.  I was reminded of why I liked this period of pop music so much as I compared the movie in my mind with “Straight Outta Compton.”  Various people approached Bob Sarles and congratulated him and shook his hand, telling him that they liked the film a lot.  I went home and watched part of an Abbott and Costello movie on the Svengoolie show.  Some of the people who died on May 28 include Noah Webster (1840), Audie Murphy (1971), Phil Hartman (1998), Gary Coleman (2010), and Maya Angelou (2014).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 28, the Frank Sinatra film “The Detective” was released.  In 1977, Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Sumner played together for the first time when they performed as part of Mike Howlett’s band Strontium 90 in Paris, France.  In 1982, “Rocky III” was released.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment

Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia

I tried to organize my work so that I could finish grades for the semester.  I made a bit of progress but got tired.  I saw “Your Name” again and didn’t get very excited about it.  Only two or three other people were in the theatre with me.  I was more conscious of the acting this time.  After going grocery shopping and buying some cheese and crackers, I went out to another movie, a documentary called “Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia.”  I have never been there to Cambodia, so I wouldn’t know firsthand what it’s like, but I was skeptical about taking the word of some of the people being interviewed.  I thought of the movie “The Killing Fields,” which I saw during the 1980s.  When one person talked about cops killing people while Obama was president, I had to feel disgusted with the nonsensical comparison.  I am so pessimistic about social change when everyone is so stupid.  I don’t believe in any fantastic changes in any country, whether it’s Cambodia, China, the United States, or any other place in the world.  There might be periods when the economy goes well, but I view everything as a downward spiral.  Stephen Hawking tells us we have to do something within one hundred years.  I don’t know where he came up with that time limit.  I would be inclined to think we have more time than that.  I didn’t want to think about Donald Trump and what more he will do as president.  I was glad to see this film because we don’t see enough films about Asian people.  One of the terrifying things they said was the people with eyeglasses were chosen for death.  They ended up with a handful of doctors, and no veterinarians around to look at farm animals.  The thought of people being driven out of their homes with just the clothes they were wearing was very scary.  It was awful to think about Cambodia being run by incompetents, although it made me wonder our government has competent people in it.  Again, I wanted to avoid thinking about Donald Trump.  I did think about “Hearts and Minds” at times while watching this film.  It would be a good thing if this film reaches a lot of people, because it will tell you things you’re not going to get from television news.  The piano music by Satie reminded me of Woody Allen’s “Another Woman.”  When I got back home, I saw at my door an Amazon package which had my deluxe edition of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album inside.  It sure had a lot of discs, which would take me a long time to get through.  I couldn’t take it all in right away without getting sick of it.  The box cover had the 3D look of the Rolling Stones “Their Satanic Majesties Request” album.  I had seen on the news a report on all the cardboard waste that Amazon orders create.  I heard on the radio the A’s postgame show.  The A’s had just won against the Yankees, 4-1.  Winning a game in the last inning against a good team on the road is progress, although Santiago Casilla again made the bottom of the ninth inning uncomfortable.  I watched the Partridge Family episode “Art for Mom’s Sake.”  The departure of Ricky must have made this episode seem pretty good at the time.  Laurie had her hair styled in ways that looked odd.  I listened to a record of the Swan Silvertones.  One of the movies on television was “Bite the Bullet.”  Some of the people who died on May 27 include Niccolo Paganini (1840), Jeffrey Hunter (1969), Jeff Conaway (2011), and Gil Scott-Heron (2011).  Today is a birthday for Andre 3000 (42), Todd Bridges (52), and Adam Carolla (53).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 27, Frank Sinatra made his television debut with Bob Hope in 1950.  In 1957, Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” single was released on Brunswick Records.  In 1977, the Sex Pistols’ single “God Save the Queen” was released.  Also in 1977, singer-songwriter Declan MacManus performed at the Nashville Rooms in London for the first time as Elvis Costello.  In 1994, the live-action adaptation of The Flintstones, starring John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Rosie O’Donnell, Kyle MacLachlan, Halle Berry, and Elizabeth Taylor, was released.  In 1995, Christopher Reeve suffered the accident at an equestrian competition in Virginia that resulted in a spinal cord injury and paralysis.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment

Mighty Joe Young

I spent much of the day grading homework papers and preparing for a final exam.  I thought back on Christo’s umbrellas back in 1991.  I looked at lists of the favorite films of several directors.  Woody Allen had “Paths of Glory,” and Martin Scorsese had “The River.”  Most of the students seemed to have difficulty with the test.  The atmosphere was quiet because it was so late in finals week that most everyone had left.  After the test was over, I boarded a bus and rushed over to the record store six minutes before closing.  I hurried to the back of the store and got the Kung Fu DVD box set.  I bought a ground beef burrito and headed home to watch “Mighty Joe Young” on DVD.  Bill Paxton and Dina Merrill were in the cast, as was Ray Harryhausen.  The early scene where Paxton is chasing after Joe brought back memories of “Twister.”  Charlize Theron was almost her charming self as Jill, who becomes friends with this gorilla in a situation with shades of Tarzan.  I thought some things in the story didn’t make sense, like taking Joe to the animal conservancy near Los Angeles.  The place was too small for this big animal, and it seemed like an excuse for including scenes of mayhem in an urban setting, rather like “King Kong.”  The behavior of the crowds of extras sure felt fake.  Any human being who sees such a huge gorilla would panic and run like hell away from him.  It looks like new waves of unscared people are passing across the screen.  After an animal goes on the loose like that, the cops would shoot it down quickly, a sad comment on how we’ve come to view the police.  The people at the conservancy, except for the doctor, act like they’ve never dealt with animals before.  Any fool would be careful about feeding an animal.  Holding a fundraiser a few feet away from a massive gorilla who is unsettled in new surroundings was also an idiotic idea.  The special effects probably looked more impressive in 1998 than they look now.  Charlize Theron is thrown into some artificial situations, and so wasn’t too convincing at times.  I doubt that people would be so eager to contribute to a Joe fund after his violent behavior.  In Disney films, animals are elevated to a status above humans.  I thought that Chalize had a rotten hairstyle in this picture.  It made me flash back to Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby.”  One other thing I notice in movies like this are the signs for fictional businesses that look too new, as if they’ve just been put up for the sake of filming a movie.  If this movie was made for kids, those kids probably found Joe frightening rather than lovable.  They wouldn’t have wanted to play Hide and Seek with a gorilla.  This is a movie that is lightly entertaining, does not hold up to analysis, and feels like a mishmash of several films, like “Gorillas in the Mist” and “King Kong.”  It made me think sadly on the recent death of Bill Paxton.  The villains were vile but forgettable.  I don’t know why Jill didn’t pay closer attention of Joe, as she went to the beach with Paxton.  She didn’t act quickly when she thought there was something wrong with Joe during the fundraiser.  I would say that there are many better movies to watch if you love animals.  The RKO logo at the beginning made me think back to “King Kong.”  Another note is that Peter Firth appeared in “Equus.”  The director, Ron Underwood, also worked on “Tremors” and “City Slickers,” but would also go on to be nominated for a Razzie for “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”  When I looked at the filming locations, I saw Hawaii, Hollywood Boulevard, Long Beach, UCLA, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  The budget supposedly was $90 million against $50 million in ticket sales.  It was too scary for little kids.  It was a remake of a movie from 1948.  Ben Johnson was in that one, and Ray Harryhausen worked on the special effects.  I heard that the Cavaliers won their game in Boston, and thus are coming here to face the Warriors in Game 1.  The A’s had the day off as they were on their way to Yankee Stadium.  My only plan for Memorial Day weekend is to go to the movies and clean up my apartment a bit.  Some of the people who died on May 26 include Jimmie Rodgers (1933), Friz Freleng (1995), Eddie Albert (2005), Sydney Pollack (2008), and Art Linkletter (2010).  Today is a birthday for Lauryn Hill (42), Pam Grier (68), and Stevie Nicks (69).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 26, “My Friend Flicka,” starring Roddy McDowell, was released in 1943.  In 1970, the sequel “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” was released.  In 1971, “Support Your Local Gunfighter,” with James Garner, Suzanne Pleshette, and Harry Morgan, was released.  In 1973, the Edgar Winter Group had the Number One single, “Frankenstein.”  In 1974, 650 fans were injured at a David Cassidy concert at White City Stadium in London, with a 14-year-old girl dying from her injuries.  In 2005, Eddie Albert died at age 99 of pneumonia at his home in Pacific Palisades.  In 2010, Art Linkletter died at age 97 at his home in Bel Air.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

I watched “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe and directed by Howard Hawks.  I thought it was still pretty funny, and the songs were pretty good.  I thought the courtroom scene was hilarious, although it was unreal.  There was another funny moment when the women pull off someone’s pants.  I wasn’t too sure why Lorelei didn’t hold out for a bigger tiara than the one Lady Beekman had.  I found the kid, Henry Spofford III, not really all that funny.  I liked the way that the musical numbers were shot.  They looked different from the usual musicals.  Jane Russell went on to appear in “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes,” which I have never seen.  She did brasserie commercials during the 1970s.  The only movies I remember her for are “The Outlaw,” “The Paleface,” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”  I don’t have to discuss what happened with Marilyn Monroe.  I have not seen many of the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but I saw the list of his ten favorite films: “The Damned,” “The Naked and the Dead,” “Lola Montes,” “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Dishonored,” “The Night of the Hunter,” “Johnny Guitar,” and “The Red Snowball.”  I would have to question the judgment of anyone who would select “Salò” for such a list.  I would say that this is one of the Marilyn Monroe movies that I like the most, along with “The Asphalt Jungle,” “The Seven Year Itch,” and “Some Like It Hot.”  I thought I detected Marni Nixon’s voice dubbed for Marilyn’s when she sang “no.”  I kept thinking that Jane and Marilyn shouldn’t have been smoking in this movie.  I think back to Gene Tierney, who should not have smoked.  I looked up the name of the cinematographer, Harry J. Wild.  Two of his previous credits were “Murder, My Sweet” with Dick Powell and Claire Trevor in 1944, and “Son of Paleface” with Bob Hope, Jane Russell, and Roy Rogers in 1952.  I couldn’t see any links between those films and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” other than the presence of Jane Russell.  I don’t know how Howard Hawks came to direct this picture.  He did make “His Girl Friday,” “I Was a Male War Bride,” and “Monkey Business.”  “Hatari!” has been shown on one of the movie channels many times in recent weeks.  On the night of December 3, 1977, Hawks tripped over his black Belgian shepherd, Raven, hitting his head on the floor and breaking a bone in his back.  He stayed in the hospital until December 17, fell into unconsciousness on Christmas Day, and died at 6:50 PM the following evening.  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 25, the Simon and Garfunkel album was Number One on the charts in 1968.  In 1969, “Midnight Cowboy,” starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, was released.  In 1979, “Alien” was released.  In 1983, “Return of the Jedi” was released.  In 1990, Vic Tayback of “Alice” died at age 60.  In 2006, Desmond Dekker died of a heart attack at age 64.

Posted in Movies | Leave a comment