Colossal

I watched CBS This Morning and the chef segment.  Matthew Kenney’s signature recipes include Sunflower pest pizza with cooked onion, confit tomato and herb macadamia ricotta, Flora artisanal cheese tasting, Roasted cauliflower, green harissa and pomegranate, and Yuzu guacamole.  I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend.  The Top 10 songs on April 30, 1977 were “Trying to Love Two,” “Sir Duke,” “Right Time of the Night,” “So Into You,” “Don’t Give Up on Us,” “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” “When I Need You,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Hotel California,” and “Southern Nights.”  I went out to the theatre to see “Colossal,” the very unusual movie starring Anne Hathaway.  It was part monster movie, part comedy, and part drama.  It was funny to see the monster and the robot doing weird things in front of the world.  The thought of a monster dancing like Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction” was amusing.  The audience on this afternoon did enjoy some of the absurd moments, as I heard some laughter.  Almost all of the monster action, oddly enough, takes place in Seoul, South Korea.  It might have been more interesting if it had been North Korea.  I wondered if the scenes were designed the way they were in order to save money.  It seemed ridiculous to see two people stomping around on a plain surface.  A couple of times, I thought the extras did some bad acting.  It was the dramatic part of the movie that was about the controlling Oscar that was the part I didn’t like so much.  It dragged the story on, making this movie feel like it was going on for too long.  I would say that it was one of those instances where the people making the film tried to do too much.  I wonder what Anne Hathaway’s input into the content of the movie was.  All in all, though, I liked the offbeat quality of the movie.  It made me think of Jonathan Demme and “Something Wild” in its strangeness.  “Colossal” looks like one of those movies that will get one of those cult followings and hang around in people’s consciousness for years to come.  It puzzled the two girls who sat in front of me, as they said they didn’t know whether to laugh at what was going on.  That was the point.  The movie was something of a litmus test of your character, and whether you had any real sense of humor.  Some of the people who died on April 30 include Edouard Manet (1883), Inger Stevens (1970), Agnes Moorehead (1974), Lester Bangs (1982), Muddy Waters (1983), Sergio Leone (1989), Richard Scarry (1994), Tom Poston (2007), and Ben E. King (2015).  Today is a birthday for Cloris Leachman (91).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 30, organist Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat & Tears announced that he was leaving the band in 1968.  In 1983, Muddy Waters died following a heart attack at age 68.  Ellen DeGeneres’ character in the television show “Ellen” came out in 1997.  Also in 1997, Frank Gifford was caught on videotape with flight attendant Suzen Johnson at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan.

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Quo Vadis

I watched the Partridge Family episode “Heartbreak Keith.”  It seemed like punishment dished out to David Cassidy for saying he was going to leave the show, as it showed his character in such an unflattering light.  I kept wondering where they were driving the bus during Ricky’s segment.  I worked an exhausting shift.  I stopped for a slice of pizza.  When I returned home, I watched “Quo Vadis.”  The stars were Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, and Peter Ustinov.  The number of extras who went in front of the cameras was impressive, because it looked like everybody in Rome was in the picture.  I think I would have preferred a version that included Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor in the main roles with John Huston directing.  I have seen too many epics involving Christians, so I didn’t mind seeing them fed to the lions.  Marcus Vinicius didn’t impress me, as Lygia made him change.  He supposedly took a stand against Christianity, along he rather childishly broke a cross in two on his way out.  I think it was funny when he yelled out to the crowd to go into the sewers to save themselves from the fire.  The Peter Ustinov I saw in this movie was unlike the Peter Ustinov I watched for so many years.  He was younger and lighter than I ever remembered.  He played Nero, and being the insane character in the story, he was the most interesting character.  I thought his highlight was giving the thumbs down against the crowd’s wishes.  He played a song as Rome burned, of course, although I thought the song should have been Dwight Twilley’s “I’m on Fire.”  Ursus did do something heroic.  He dealt with the bull in a literal way.  I thought it was fun to watch this movie, but I didn’t like it as much as the “I, Claudius” television series, and I thought “Ben-Hur” overtook this movie for entertainment value, as far as your Biblical epics go.  You can’t beat Charlton Heston in the chariot race.  The crowd was rather scary at the end, because there were so many people storming the building that you thought that they really could tear apart Nero.  Nero’s death was good for the Romans, but not as good for the movie, because he was the one who was giving the story some juice.  It was almost like the villain in “Dirty Harry.”  Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren do show their faces, but the movie would have been better if they had substantial parts, along with Audrey Hepburn.  I liked Deborah Kerr in “From Here to Eternity” and “The King and I.”  I kept looking at her hair.  I wondered if she was still alive, but I read that she died in 2007 at age 86.  Robert Taylor was married to Barbara Stanwyck for twelve years.  He was a man who smoked too much, and he died of lung cancer in 1969, when he was only 57.  Mervyn LeRoy directed “Mister Roberts” and “The Bad Seed” later in the fifties.  Those were movies I liked, too.  “Quo Vadis” is a movie that fades from the memory quickly.  It was a hit in its day, although I wouldn’t say that its title would inspire too many people to rush out and buy a ticket.  It received eight Academy Award nominations but won none.  I saw that the episode of The Quest with Susan Dey was showing on Get TV, and I watched it until the scene where she tried on the blue dress.  Some of the people who died on April 29 include Anthony Mann (1967), Alfred Hitchcock (1980), Mick Ronson (1993), Mike Royko (1997), and Bob Koskins (2014).  Today is a birthday for Michelle Pfeiffer (59), Eve Plumb (59), Daniel Day-Lewis (60), Kate Mulgrew (62), Jerry Seinfeld (63), and Willie Nelson (84).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 29, Bruce Springsteen climbed the wall of Graceland in an attempt to meet Elvis Presley in 1976, but was escorted away by security.  In 1990, 13 people were hospitalized after fans tried to get into a sold-out New Kids on the Block concert in Brighton, England.  In 1992, Paula Abdul and Emilio Estevez were married in Santa Monica.  Today is Bob Miranda’s 75th birthday.

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My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea

I saw that “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” was going to be leaving my local theatre, so I went to see it at 1:10 on a Thursday afternoon.  It turned out that I was the only one in the theatre.  It looked like the ticket sales for the week for this movie was in five figures.  With all the computerized animation out there, the look of this movie is crude.  All the characters constantly shake in a way that is reminiscent of Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin as the Wild and Crazy Guys from Saturday Night Live.  Three of the characters have the voices of Jason Schwartzman, Maya Rudolph, and Susan Sarandon.  Schwartzman is Dash, who is naturally having difficulty with his best friend when the crisis hits.  He discovers that the school building is not up to code when the earthquake hits.  This is all happening in California, of course, although I didn’t recognize the exact setting.  When I saw “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” recently, California stood in for Hong Kong in a key scene.  The entire tale reminded me of “The Poseidon Adventure,” and I thought of Susan Sarandon as the Lunch Lady as the Gene Hackman of the story.  I thought there were some funny lines, although they weren’t hilarious to me, and I also feel that I can’t laugh forever at what happened in high school.  Besides, since I was the only one in the theatre, I couldn’t say the laughter was infectious.  There were some weird effects with color that made me think of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  The movie had the feel of a moving graphic novel.  It was unusual that there was so much death in the film.  The whole disaster incident made me think back to the Ramones in “Rock and Roll High School,” although I didn’t recall the entire school exploding in that one.  The music on the soundtrack struck me as being just loud.  It was rather annoying that at the end Dash turns the story into a book.  He could have shown some more creativity than that.  Is Dash Shaw going to give us better films in the future?  I don’t see the evidence here.  I thought about how good the Scott Pilgrim movie was.  I’m glad that I was one of the few people who caught this movie during its brief run, although I’m not going to announced to the world that I’ve discovered something great.  After I gave my brief lecture, I went over to the record store.  After some browsing through the reduced size of the place, I decided to buy the Blu-ray disc of “Guess Who Coming to Dinner,” plus vinyl albums of Joe Cocker’s “Stingray” and Sly Stone’s “High on You.”  The cashier told me that the Cocker album was good.  In my mail, I saw that my Partridge Family lunchbox had arrived.  It was somewhat scratched, but in decent shape overall, considered that it was made in 1971.  The thermos was in good condition, although I’m not tempted to actually use it.  I watched Stephen Colbert but had the thought that I really didn’t want to listen to him and everybody else talk about Donald Trump for the next four years.  I shuddered to think about Trump winning re-election in 2020.  During Ronald Reagan’s second term, there were questions about his mental awareness, and Trump will be at a similar age if he should serve a second term.  I watched Robert Vaughn on Match Game.  He certainly wrote down some odd answers.  Some of the people who died on April 28 include Rory Calhoun (1999), Ken Hughes (2001), and Tommy Newsom (2007).  Today is a birthday for Jay Leno (67) and Ann-Margret (76).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 28, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” won the Tony Award for Best Play, and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1963.  In 1975, John Lennon’s final televised interview, an appearance on Tom Synder’s Tomorrow show, was aired on NBC.  Also in 1975, Ringo Starr’s performance of “The No No Song” on The Smothers Brothers Show was broadcast on CBS.

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Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

After I returned home from work, I watched “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” a movie that was on KQED a couple of weeks ago.  It had positive qualities, like Asian actors in many of the roles and some beautiful cinematography showing off Hong Kong, although it had sappy qualities in its love story.  Also, it had Jennifer Jones as a Eurasian woman, although it wasn’t as wildly outrageous as seeing John Wayne or Mickey Rooney playing non-white roles.  I guess I can accept that the real Han Suyin was superstitious and went to see fortune tellers, and I can see how she encountered racial prejudice.  I thought that Jennifer Jones gave us a false moment at the end with the smiling and waving as if she was hallucinating.  William Holden was the journalist Mark Elliot, and in his romantic lead persona, he was much like he was in “Sunset Boulevard.”  I couldn’t see what his appeal was supposed to be.  He was married.  Han Suyin seemed like the interesting one, smart enough to be a doctor.  What does a reporter do, anyway?  A reporter writes about other people who are doing something.  Even Woodward and Bernstein weren’t as interesting as the people they wrote about.  War breaks out, and Mark goes out to cover it.  All the suggestions of good luck in this story, like the butterflies and blue beetles, just go to show that the whole situation is doomed.  I have the view that superstition is foolish.  A doctor shouldn’t follow superstitions.  Neither should baseball managers, including Bob Melvin.  I could imagine going out to see this movie in 1955 and being impressed with the CinemaScope photography.  On the DVD, the images were not so sharp and the color was faded.  I kept looking at Jennifer Jones’ eyes, and I wanted to see if she was writing the Chinese characters in one scene.  I guess I wasn’t convinced that she was half Chinese.  I wasn’t convinced that David Carradine was half Chinese, either, when I watched him in the Kung Fu television series years ago.  I liked some moments in the movie, like Han and Mark swimming to a house, or the people in the enclosure.  The final scene with the crying that went on for a long time felt different from a lot of Hollywood films.  The grief went on and on, right on through the end.  I felt that it was going on beyond the end of the movie for eternity.  The themes of the movie felt like a bridge to modern times, with interracial relationships and the United States involved in wars in other parts of the world.  There was divorce in there, and a woman dealing with work and facing dismissal for stupid reasons.  Hong Kong was something of a small town in 1949, apparently.  It made me think back on the Panama Canal controversy in the late 1970s.  I wouldn’t rank this movie love story as one of my favorites.  Looking back, one of the movies I liked was “Love Story,” which made me feel that I had witnessed a lot.  I always think about the part where Ali says she wanted Ryan to take her to the hospital.  Part of the power of that movie was that they were together at the end, like what happened with Erin Moran a few days ago, apparently.  A series of letters isn’t quite as dramatic, especially for the cameras and the movie audience out there taking in these CinemaScope images.  What is rather funny to think about is that Jones and Holden apparently did not like each other.  Jones complained that her make-up made her look old.  Her appearance does seem to change throughout the movie.  I thought the theme song was sappy and unbearable.  If you’re in love and you’re commenting about what love is, you are definitely an idiot.  It would be just as valid if you claimed that “Love is a Wild Thing,” for instance.  I was not alive during the 1950s, so I missed out on some things.  If I were ever to meet Martin Scorsese, I would ask him what he thought about a movie like this.  I couldn’t help thinking about the end of William Holden’s life, hitting his head on a table and bleeding to death.  It was twenty-six years after this movie.  One of the special features of the DVD was “William Holden: An Untamed Spirit,” which looked like a good program, but I didn’t sit through all of it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever have the time to watch all of this stuff.  I read about the screenwriter John Patrick, who also wrote “Three Coins in the Fountain.”  He committed suicide in 1995 at age 90.  Henry King was nominated for the Best Director Oscar twice, for “The Song of Bernadette” and “Wilson.”  He went on to direct “Carousel.”  He died in 1982 at age 96.  Jennifer Jones’ last movie appearance was in “The Towering Inferno.”  She lived for a long time, until 2009 at age 90.  Han Suyin died on November 2, 2012 at age 95 in Lausanne, Switzerland.  I watched Stephen Colbert, and saw that he took out Dave Grohl’s old report card from the sixth grade, which had all sorts of Needs Improvement and Unsatisfactory comments.  I couldn’t bring himself to watch James Corden because I don’t like his format of bringing out all of the guests at once.  Some of the people who died on April 27 include Edward R. Murrow (1965), Olivier Messiaen (1992), Carlos Castaneda (1998), Al Hirt (1999), and Vicki Sue Robinson (2000).  Today is a birthday for Sheena Easton (58) and Ace Frehley (66).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 27, David Bowie was detained at the Polish-Russian border in 1976 as officials confiscated his Nazi memorabilia.  In 1981, Ringo Starr married Barbara Bach, with Paul McCartney and George Harrison attending the ceremony.  In 1990, Axl Rose married Erin Everly, although the marriage lasted only 27 days.  In 1999, Al Hirt died of liver failure at age 76 in New Orleans.

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The Rose Tattoo

After an exam, I headed home, stopping to buy a burrito.  I sat down to watch “The Rose Tattoo,” the movie with Anna Magnani and Burt Lancaster.  The screenplay was by Tennessee Williams, who had Magnani in mind when he wrote it.  She had concerns about her English, and she is difficult to understand, but she did give American audiences something different to see on the screen.  She is Serafina Delle Rose.  She makes some money sewing, although I didn’t really see why people came to her with their shirts and such.  She has a daughter named Rosa who looks like one of the centerfold actors in one of Andy Sidaris’ movies.  The relationship between mother and daughter brought to mind “The Glass Menagerie.”  Rosa falls in love with a sailor.  I would say that Serafina was right in being skeptical about this person.  Burt Lancaster doesn’t have his first scene for a long time.  He is a truck driver named Alvaro, one of those high-spirited people who goes about life with an unusual openness.  I didn’t see Lancaster as fitting the role.  I’m not sure that Marlon Brando would have been quite right, either.  I thought Lancaster looked like he was trying very hard with his acting.  I feel fortunate that I have firsthand memories of Burt Lancaster’s late movies, like “Atlantic City” and “Local Hero.”  However, the star of the show is Magnani.  She shows fury, jealousy, pain, confusion, and many other emotions.  The movie was funnier than anything else I had seen from Tennessee Williams.  I saw “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” again not too long ago, and the only humor I can recall in it was the presence of the bratty kids.  The picture quality on the DVD was not the best, and there were no special features to speak of.  The movie did win three Academy Awards, which included Magnani’s Best Actress Oscar and a cinematography award.  Magnani was known for “Rome, Open City,” and she was a friend of Tennessee Williams.  Lancaster thought she was a great actress, and so did Helen Mirren.  IMDB said that she was known for her earthy, passionate, woman of the earth roles.  Her last film appearance was in “Fellini’s Roma,” and she died of pancreatic cancer in 1973 at age 65.  Director Daniel Mann went on to work on “I’ll Cry Tomorrow,” “Butterfield 8,” “Our Man Flint,” and “Willard.”  He died in 1991.  “The Rose Tattoo” was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.  It had a feeling of an Italian film transplanted to the United States.  I never thought of “The Rose Tattoo” as one of the great films from a Tennessee Williams play, especially with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in “A Streetcar Named Desire” out there, but it was memorable.  I liked it more than “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”  I read a little bit more about Erin Moran’s death and felt alarmed at my own health.  The cancer spread quickly.  At my age, I could go from symptoms to death in no time at all.  In reading about Anna Magnani, I saw that she was known as a hypochondriac.  I read about the football fans in St. Louis and San Diego losing their football teams.  They should get together with people in Oakland somehow.  I watched the Shirley Jones appearance on This is Your Life.  She should have suspected something when she and the Partridge Family had to go to a CBS studio when their show was on ABC.  Ralph Edwards mispronounced Danny Bonaduce’s name.  Susan Dey looked like she wasn’t jaded from fame yet.  I also watched Shirley’s appearance on The Rosie O’Donnell Show in which she gave a gift of a Partridge Family lunchbox to Rosie.  Shirley said it was the only lunchbox she had.  I had to buy my own through the Internet.  I didn’t want to think about Ann Coulter trying to make her speech and possibly setting off some kind of violent incident.  I did hear this morning that she cancelled her speech.  That was a wise decision, because I didn’t want to see someone throw a rock at her.  Some of the people who died on April 26 include Srinivasa Ramanujan (1920), Gypsy Rose Lee (1970), Irene Ryan (1973), Celia Johnson (1982), Count Basie (1984), Broderick Crawford (1986), Lucille Ball (1989), Hubert Selby (2004), Phoebe Snow (2011), George Jones (2013), and Jayne Meadows (2015).  Today is a birthday or Kevin James (52), Jet Li (54), and Carol Burnett (84).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 26, B.J. Thomas had the Number One single in 1975, “Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”  In 1982, Rod Stewart was mugged in Los Angeles, with the thief getting away with his Porsche.  In 1986, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver were married.  In 1989, Lucille Ball died at age 77.

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The Heiress

After I got home, I watched “The Heiress,” the movie directed by William Wyler starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, and Ralph Richardson.  Olivia is Catherine Sloper, the foolish young woman who falls in love with the poor and probably fortune hunting Clift.  Richardson is her cold father.  This is Olivia de Havilland’s show, as she is quite remarkable in being so plain and so naïve in believing in this relationship.  She and the entire movie reminded me quite a bit of Joan Fontaine and “Suspicion.”  There is a bit of suspense in a few of the scenes.  Is the father really going to crush his daughter’s hopes?  Has Catherine really not learned anything from experience?  I imagine this movie was difficult to film, with the long takes and Wyler’s demanding ways.  It seemed that the song Clift sang was an early version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” the Elvis Presley hit.  This is one of those movies in which the main character undergoes a dramatic transformation, although not quite the same as Al Pacino in “The Godfather.”  I agreed with a lot of things Richardson was saying.  The mistake he made was that he was too cruel to Catherine.  I thought he should have left his fortune to charity.  Perhaps the most annoying character was Catherine’s aunt, who apparently never learned anything in life.  I thought Olivia de Havilland fully deserved the Oscar she won for this movie.  The idea of the plain woman wanting to marry the questionable suitor made me think of Elaine May and Walter Matthau in “A New Leaf.”  In a way, Wyler went back to this theme in “Funny Girl.”  I thought this was one of William Wyler’s better films.  However, I’m not sure that the revenger at the end was any kind of an equalizer.  Catherine is still going to be miserable with her embroidery, and the man at the door can find another woman.  I read the news that Erin Moran likely died of cancer.  That was rather disturbing because she wasn’t much older than I am now.  I watched a new Supergirl episode.  I watched some of the eleven o’clock news.  Allison Janney was one of the guests on the Stephen Colbert show.  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 25, Elvis Presley had the Number One single “Stuck on You” in 1960.  In 1987, U2 was Number One on the album chart with “The Joshua Tree,” which had the hit singles “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”  In 2009, Bea Arthur of the “Maude” television series died of cancer at age 86.

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Peyton Place

I dealt with some of the problems that came up on a Monday at work and was glad to return home.  I had my late lunch and sat down to watch “Peyton Place.”  I thought it was quite a trashy movie and was amazed that it got nine Oscar nominations and not surprised that it didn’t win any.  Some of the content of the novel had to be toned down for the movies.  Diane Varsi, who played Allison, seemed to me to be a mixture of Lee Remick, Mariel Hemingway, and Kirsten Dunst.  Lana Turner was the mother.  It seems that in these small-town stories there always has to be some hidden secret about an illegitimate child.  I liked Lana Turner in this movie.  Russ Tamblyn was a shy classmate.  It was hard to believe he was the same actor who would dance around in “West Side Story.”  Hope Lange was Selena, the girl from the poor side of town with the alcoholic, abusive stepfather.  She was Allison’s best friend.  Hope Lange looked so young in this picture.  I wondered what she did during the years between this movie and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Lorne Greene was the prosecutor.  I kept thinking that this movie could have a cult following like “Valley of the Dolls.”  There were quite a few moments that today’s audiences would laugh at.  Hope had a scene that reminded me of the Ramones song with the lyrics “Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah.”  Lana Turner was an overbearing mother along the lines of Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.”  Some of the courtroom procedures at the end didn’t seem genuine, and the endless speech that the doctor gave was nauseating.  The story starts off just before the end of the school year in 1941 and goes on for about two years.  Allison did look like a teenager in the beginning and show some change at the end.  She reminded me of the girl in “Little Women” who went to the big city to try to become a writer.  The setting was a New England town that could have been in either New Hampshire or Maine.  Everyone spoke with accents like they were ancestors of the characters in “Manchester by the Sea.”  Two of the characters die, one during the war and the other killed.  Otherwise, other conflicts are resolved, and the ending is supposed to be uplifting.  The picture quality was better than I expected from this DVD.  It was a CinemaScope film, and some of that New England beauty came through, although some of the footage reportedly came from “The Trouble with Harry.”  I can’t say that I was bored with this movie.  It wasn’t one of the masterpieces of cinema, however.  Some of the people who died on April 25 include George Sanders (1972), Carol Reed (1976), Dexter Gordon (1990), Art Fleming (1995), Ginger Rogers (1995), Saul Bass (1996), Boris Pickett (2007), Bea Arthur (2009), and Dorothy Provine (2010).  Today is a birthday for Talia Shire (71) and Al Pacino (77).

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