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About EricJ

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  • Birthday 06/14/1964

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  1. EricJ

    Cats Movie 2019

    Ian McKellen would be Gus, the Theater Cat, the role reserved for old British actors (like Sir John Mills in the '98 direct-video). Especially as they don't have to dance.
  2. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    Since I know better than subject myself to the entire series--only looked at bits of 3, and the goofy #2, back when Jason still wore a burlap sack because "The Road Warrior" hadn't come out yet--settle a bet: Along with "James Cagney never said 'You dirty rat'" and "Humphrey Bogart never said 'Play it again, Sam'", I've always thrown around the movie-lover's nitpick of "In the original Paramount films, Jason never wielded a chainsaw". (As he's often depicted in goofy pop-culture references, especially around Halloween time.) That was the other guy--Jason preferred phallic weapons, like long machetes or skewering weapons. So...DID Jason ever use a chainsaw in the later films? Did one of the later campy New Line producers ever ruin that bar bet for us? 😛
  3. EricJ

    Cats Movie 2019

    I don't think the producers know either--I know it's a project that's baffled producers into limbo hell literally since the late 80's, and was either an early warning sign or helped contribute to the brief "Death" of movie musicals in the 90's. Just call it blind stubbornness. (Les Miserables, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Phantom of the Opera were also supposed to be movies in the late-80's and early 90's, and there was talk of "La Cage Aux Folles", but all died either of ridiculous studio-hell ideas, or stage unions' new crackdown on waiting for the stage show to close.) At one point it was going to be an animated musical; at another, John Travolta was going to be Rum Tum Tugger. Finally, Andrew Lloyd Webber formed a video production unit out of his Really Useful Company, and gave us not-too-bad direct-video stage concerts of Cats, Joseph/Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar in '99-'01. Like Starlight Express (which our local youth-theater group tried staging on a high-school sized stage 😮 ), Cats isn't really a Webber musical you CAN translate to film outside of its stage gimmicks, and at best would probably end up looking as weird as the "Godspell" movie.
  4. I'd just watched Bubby's young-hoofer contract days in the MGM "Broadway Melody" musicals, and he wouldn't have been bad (except for the more primitive earlier makeup, even if they had used the healthier version, and that Ebsen's singing wasn't...really...that great)--Ebsen specialized in a sort of easygoing tall long-leggedy tap, not as wild as Ray Bolger's "eccentric" style, but still for funny country-boy effect. Watching Ebsen in a long-leggedy tuxedo cut a few steps with young Judy Garland in the climax of Broadway Melody of 1938, you know where the studio got the idea for casting.
  5. EricJ

    TCM Premieres

    Flight of the Navigator is actually overlooked fun by 80's Summer-of-Love kiddy standards, if you accept that the last half is pretty much a star vehicle for Paul Reubens doing his then-unknown Pee-Wee shtick. We didn't know that back then, and audience reaction was divided at best. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Ron Miller digging up Walt's old backup-memos from the "Saving Mr. Banks" days, in case Pamela Travers said no to Mary Poppins) is probably the best of the latter-Disney Poppins-wannabes, assuming they show the extended "restored" version that came to disk back in '01. The Cat From Outer Space is inoffensive 60's-Disney throwback trying to tap into 70's spaceships, and The Black Hole is best viewed as a...curiosity. Big studios trying to embrace "the Star Wars craze", back when "2001" was still coin of the realm, and Disney tries to paste cute robots onto a cerebral-scifi plot. I remember when it opened within a week of the equally soporific first Star Trek movie, and the two deserve each other.
  6. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    The scene where our Fearless Killers don't realize they're at the vampire ball, until they look at the huge Versailles mirrors and see an entire ballroom of...two people is one of the great single visual gags of horror comedy, but that's pretty much it for comic timing. Mostly because it's a visual gag, and nobody struggles to parse English dialogue in it. If you want to get fan-nitpicky, the Daleks technically AREN'T robots--They're a mutated creature that took to "survival tanks" to survive the planet's post-nuclear atmosphere, and started developing the robot-like mentality to survive by "Exterminating all inferior species". However, they're still individually a bit stir-crazy, and capable of going hysterically off the rails in crises, hence the tendency to get too overexcited about invasion, or scream or panic when faced with the Doctor's interference. And while fans technically don't hate Cushing for being cuddly, they do hold a little fan-grudge against the 60's features that the two movies were rushed into British theaters on the craze for the marketing, and never bothered to even try and explore the Doctor's alien origin...Reducing Cushing's Doctor to just a lovable absent-minded inventor out of a Disney comedy, and his two spunky teen-appeal sidekicks to two kids the matinee audience was expecting.
  7. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    As much as Polanski can direct eerie paranoid suspense...his idea of "comedy" is something that seems to have come from some remote alien Baltic eastern-European country, where they love clowns and slapstick, and never quite translated to the Western Hemisphere. Much like the English-impaired foreign actors he hires for it, before loading them down with wigs, teeth and makeup. Even knowing the best-known scenes, I tried to get halfway into TFVKoPMBYFAIMN, and now I'm actually afraid to watch Walter Matthau in "Pirates" (1986). Which, from what I can gather from the reviews, wasn't much improvement, even though Matthau actually can speak English.
  8. EricJ

    Hollywood Running Out of Ideas?

    Of course, Seth Myers has always been an insufferably snotty SOB even when he was still on the show, but it does nail the basic problem of why we CAN'T find a solution to our current movie problems: On one hand, we have neurotic studios "under siege" from the audience, trying to cannibalize the last emergency storehouses of their old franchises without actual new screenplays--and the complaints from the public are getting loud--and on the other, we have obnoxious poseurs whining about the 3D, CGI and remakes, and trying to "strike back" with "new indie cinema" that nobody ever wants to watch, even on streaming. Is there a middle ground?--Yes. We had it back in the 80's and 90's, in the form of screenwriters who just wanted to sell a decent script, and producers who made it marketable and attached a star to it. Now, all the independent screenwriters know that the studio script market has become extinct, get together to film their script ideas themselves, set out to become Bold Independent Filmmakers, and end up sounding like this guy. No one even remembers how "old" movies were made anymore. Even book authors have stopped hoping for a movie sale, and "Based on the NYT Bestseller" that used to guarantee a rousing popcorn movie in the 60's and 70's is more likely to be attached to a Nicholas Parks romance or a dystopian YA wannabe. But if there is one thing to take away from the sketch, then, yeah: The "Hollywood's run out of ideas, it's all superheroes and CGI now!" stuff is gettin' OLD.
  9. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    Over on the MST3K discussions, that bit of Mike-era smug paper-target bigotry usually brings up a discussion in defense of "Masque of the Red Death", "The Intruder", and "X - the Man With the X-Ray Eyes", and an appreciation of how Corman, working for Sam Arkoff and James Nicholson, knew he wasn't expected to deliver art, as long he could deliver ahead of schedule and under budget--And was savvy enough to experiment with his own small self-indulgent attempt at art or Important Message anyway, because as long as he was lord of his own independent production domain, he could. And then, from the more core Corman fans, a defense of tongue-in-cheek screenwriter Charles B. Griffith, and how the "mad" gravedigger in "The Undead" was supposed to be comic relief (Griffith originally wanted the medieval scenes to be in Shakespearean pentameter, and Corman wisely held back), which inevitably gets sidetracked off onto cult praises of Griffith's satirical scripts for "A Bucket of Blood" or "Death Race 2000". But yeah, even though Lawrence had just seemed to have found a box full of Amer.Int'l's, by the time we got to Terror5K, I was wondering whether he might've been a Mike-era MST3K fanboy talking about all the titles he was "supposed" to talk about. Just kept waiting for that other shoe to drop.
  10. EricJ

    Remake? Really?....

    Yes, announcing the movie is pretty much the entire masturbatory experience for Del Toro--It never really matters if he never actually gets around to filming it. He's had a few arthouse discoveries, two flops, one Oscar, and helped destroy one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood, why are we supposed to get excited about him, again? (And pretty sure the Fantastic Voyage project is an ancient relic left over from sixteen years ago, when everyone was so excited about the news that somebody was remaking "Rollerball" at the same time as Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" opened, they thought there would be a new "craze" for 60's-70's scifi remakes: Bryan Singer spent years threatening to still do that "Logan's Run" remake nobody else wanted to do, and after every single narcissistic action star in Hollywood wanted to play the Gunfighter in a new "Westworld", we know what eventually happened to that one. )
  11. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    So, Sir Lancelot appeared in a NON-Val Lewton film? Although this was the B-movie 50's, and a good ten years after "I Walked With a Zombie" and "Curse of the Cat People".
  12. EricJ

    Getting It Right

    That's getting a little too much into interpreting Milner as the "main character" of the movie, which he clearly isn't. The song's one of only two Beach Boys on my iTunes just for its American Graffiti use, namely that the song over the credits conjures up the ultimate idea of personal nostalgia (and not just George Lucas's) for the era, and the 50's/60's That Will Never Die. Any other sentimental BB song--just try putting "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" in there--just wouldn't have created that mythical "Where were you in '62?" summer.
  13. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    I mentioned the '11 Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus only because it slipped through the arthouse cracks when it was released--The marketing wasn't helpful, and few outside of Shakespeare enthusiasts had even heard of the play. Director Fiennes streamlines the play too much for action over dialogue--even pretty much cutting out all of the last scene's speeches, just so he could end it on the tragic "confrontation" note--but actor Fiennes is just spooky/unearthly enough to play the obnoxiously-arrogant war-hero legend, in a modern pseudo-Serbo-Croatian 00's war-state "city of Rome" that looks a lot like Kosovo. I only mention it as a good example of new Real-Shakespeare for the way that all the conversations between Roman citizens in the street are now updated to panel discussions on CNN, and Coriolanus's failed attempt as a people's Senate candidate is instead done as an unfortunate TV-debate experience.
  14. EricJ

    I Just Watched...

    One of THE most gorgeously iconic symbols of the 80's-Fantasy Summer of Love (and poster child for "Why 'real' soundstage 80's movies were better before CGI"), and all you can say is "Eh, it was better than the book"?? But, as I already had it on Blu, I digress: ----- The Merchant of Venice (2004) - With Sony joining the MGM and Paramount Orphans on streaming, more of the rare Sony Classics indies have started turning up on the Usual Streaming Suspects, and after constantly missing this disk at the library, I finally managed to find it on Vudu and PlutoTV's free-download movies. Ever since Kenneth Branagh moved on and went commercial, there's been a new push for more indie directors to be the next generation for restaged or period-accurate "Real Shakespeare" movies that "translate" the dialogue into English with more natural settings, and this is one of the better ones. (Just barely ahead of Ralph Fiennes' modern Baltic-war version of Coriolanus (2011), and I still haven't gotten around to Ethan Hawke's street-gang version of Cymbeline (2014).) "Venice" is one you don't often see revived, since modern productions can't quite get around the squicky question of "Was Shakespeare serious?" in the play's implied anti-Semitism (Shakespeare was a hardcore Catholic, but if so, why do we get that famous "defense" speech?)--But "1984" director Michael Radford takes the question off the table by putting it in accurate period setting, and saying that even if Shakespeare wasn't, 16th-cty. Venice was: We get a realistic historic depiction of the religious fanaticism of the Venetian geto, almost as bad as Berlin's, and get a sense of how many times our hero had "spit upon" our antagonist in the street. Shakespearean actors say there's really only two ways to play Jewish moneylender Shylock, either as conniving stock period-stereotype villain, or as tragically sympathetic victim. Radford's historical setting certainly plays up "Victim", but aging Al Pacino is absolutely electric in the role, since he's played that combination of roles before (and played the role onstage), and knows how to do BOTH--Watching Pacino's mix of "Righteously wounded revenge", we're basically watching him play old Michael Corleone from Godfather 2&3 with a period-accurate Jewish accent. You literally expect Pacino's Shylock to confront Jeremy Irons as the Merchant with "I knew it was you, Antonio..." (As you can see, the modern problem with post-Branagh "Real Shakespeare", is that new 00's-10's actors are trying to make Shakespearean dialogue so "conversational", it's all thrown about in quick natural mumbles. If you're watching this on disk, English subtitles are highly recommended.)
  15. EricJ

    Your Favorite Van Helsing In Film

    Hugh Jackman's Van Helsing was literally the Tom Cruise's Mummy of its day--Every few years, Universal peeks out of its hiding-hole to see if the coast is clear to rebrand their "Monster Universe" for a new series of off-canon franchise pictures, and this was the 00's version. It all dates back to 1994, when Forrest Gump meeting JFK started a craze for "Digitally resurrected actors", and somebody proposed the idea of having digital Boris Karloff fight digital Lon Chaney Jr. in a "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" remake...But first they had to rebrand the Universal Monsters for a franchise, and that's been the tough part ever since. The '99 Brendan Fraser "Mummy", the '98 Gus Van Sant "Psycho", the '10 Benecio Del Toro "Wolfman", all were being carefully observed to see whether it was "safe" to go ahead with more Universal Monsters remakes toward the greater goal. (When they always start dropping hints about Black Lagoon and Invisible Man remakes next, you know they're back on agenda again.) As to the question, yes: Peter Cushing for the win. Not as "mad" and determined as his Baron Frankenstein, but more of an innocent academic with a private side-passion.

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