Channel Zero: The Blog

Cultural notes from "Boston's most notorious entertainment franchise".

Monday, September 15, 2014

Death of an Ape Man...

The Jungle Girl came hanging around my window last night she lives in a vast unexplored tropical rain forest that straddles the border between Arlington and Belmont Massachusetts. Since she "Stands the Watch over the Lost Land of Spirits" she offered me a choice of obituaries...Denny Miller or Joan Rivers. Ever the scion of Republican Simplicity, I chose the late Tarzan Actor...after all, Joan Rivers had Howard Stern...but the Late Denny Miller has but me. The Jungle Girl smiled nodded and rode the vines back to her Fabled Lost City, for now, her mission was complete. *** Cuz I got a line on the guy not mentioned in any of the obits... Because let the record show that Channel Zero gathered what was likely the lastpaying audience to watch one of the Late Denny Miller's performances back in July when we screened an ep of "Mona McCluskey" as part of our "Riot Girls of the Great Society" program. And it's just ironic to note, that Miller left the basketball court at UCLA to become a screen Tarzan (in MGM's awful 1959 remake "Tarzan the Ape Man") and then spent the rest of his career goofing his own heroic image...meanwhile the original film itself languishes in complete obscurity no one seems to have it. Ah but Denny was proof positive you didn't have to be in a good Tarzan movie to Make Good, look at Lex Barker...he ended up working with Fellini. Fate was not quite so kind to Denny he had to make do with stooging it up with Peter Sellers in "The Party" (1969) among some two hundred TV appearances and stint as the "Gorton's Fisherman"...On the Other Hand, Denny never descended to the dregs of doing "The Celebrity Apprentice"...cuz frankly Trump would've been lucky to have him.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Atlas Shrugged Part III "Who is John Galt" (2014)

Who is John Galt? He is an actor named Kristoffer Polaha whose chin has the contours suggestive of Mount Washington on a clear summer's day and eyes that exude the sincerity that make or break hemorrhoid cream adverts. And the Libertarian Man on Horseback. I'll probably go to my grave wondering if anyone volunteered their services and talents gratis for this the third and final chapter in the misbegotten film adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel & notorious libertarian screed. Because it would be ironic that charity that virtue derided by all true Randians was the vital component to bring Ayn Rand's Magnum Opus to the screen and so very ineptly as well. Because the god-damned thing was nothing but a fan film... a bad one at that. Rob "Northern Exposure" Morrow is allegedly in this film, as a still photo (guess the Objectivist Power Elite couldn't afford his price to walk around on camera)...and he is the most recognizable name on the roster! Which is an excellent precis of the film's problems, a no name cast fit for a freeze dried coffee commercial and a budget of some five million dollars a paltry sum ill spent. Objectivists are obsessed with a personifying a self selected self celebrating intellectual elite, the libertarian herrenvolk...but give them five million large and sure enough they made a hash of their Guru's Personal Gospel. They have no one to blame but themselves. Now,don't blame the budget, blame the resentful envious mediocrities behind this project, you give five million to Orson Welles you'll get "King Lear"...and one for the ages...but these guys attract no talent on the scale of the late "Citizen Kane" director. Hell you give five million and this very meshugginah script to Roger Corman and he'll deliver something worthwhile, that boyo knows how to make a nickel squeak and get it all up on the screen. Hell, Mussolini's Blackshirts adapted Rand's novel "We The Living" and managed to generate a prototype neorealist document...but these jobbers? Phhfft! But this sovereign irony is at the core of Objectivism, a cult of rugged individualist genius that invariably attracts tepid insecure cubicle crawlers.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Robin Williams RIP

It is funny but, my "generation voices" were less musicians and or rockers and to me at least mostly comedians, for stand up was amidst a sort of revolution when I came of age...the range of course ran from Judy Tenuta, Paula Poundstone and all the way out to a very young Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Wright and presiding over them the veritable Jester King, the Supreme Mxyztplk, was Robin Williams the Poet Laureate of Stand Up. He was the Guy they all envied, not for his success so much as his limitless store of energy, conjuration & raw chutzpah (even if he strayed into Joke Theft, a common disease of comedians, just ask Red Skelton). And it is just ineffably sad to note, that he took his own life, something that doesn't really as an altogether surprise. The man was a phenomenon and a game changer...let that be his epitaph. Let us leave OFF the tombstone the many many bad films he made, for example "Patch Adams", "Mrs Doubtfire" & "Hook" (a veritable trilogy of to serve only as enhanced interrogation options in CIA Black Prisons all over the globe)... At the height of this cataract of sentimentality, you could check your watch at the one hour and forty five minute mark of a Robin Williams' movie for the moment when he broke down the fourth wall and addressed the film audience itself to deliver The Moral of the Story "Mork Calling Orson" style. I mean he did this in something like seven films over a span of fifteen years you'd think he'd put a stop to it, but no...Robin hectored on and on. It is important to recall that in "The Great Dictator" (1940) at the very end, Chaplin turned and addressed his audience about the horrors of totalitarianism and the ineffable possibilities of peace, he did this because he thought Civilization itself was coming to an end. Robin on the other hand routinely used a divine gift for persuasion and improvisation to extoll of merits of being nice to old people, making time for Family and the virtues of short he deployed a Gift from the Gods to shore up shoddy manipulative scriptwriting. Well what of it? He got an Oscar for a straight dramatic performance, ("Good Will Hunting"), but likely deserved it even moreso for The Genie in "Alladin"....I mean whoever heard of a improv performance in an Animated Film?? In concert there was no one better...Hell in the interview environment there was no one better, in both respects Williams much resembles the late Peter Sellers who simply saw the most routine chat show appearance as a performance venue. If Joke Stealing and Moralizing were crimes then the careers of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Milton Berle & beyond would come to end with a soft puff of smoke...and then where would we be? We've already lost Robin Williams let us reduce the ranks no further.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hercules (2014)

It hasn't quite been the exercise in futility that was Last Summer's movies...we've even seen Woody Allen play a pimp of all things. One has to take grace where one can find it. Meanwhile before it skids off to basic cable, seriously get out to see Duane "The Rock" Johnson as Hercules. Surprisingly this is, short of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" the best action movie I've seen all summer. Granted The Rock is no actor, he struggles to rise to the level of snarky insolence exuded by Bruce Willis...but cast him as Hercules in a film that treats Greek Hero's supernatural origins with charming ambiguity and the Grappler's natural talent for irony kicks in just fine. And what the hell, it's been a hangover of a summer...nothing akin to last summer's Gotterdammerung...but no great indicator of Great Things to Come Either. In short The Rock was born to play Hercules....just as Woody Allen was born to play a Pimp...if they could somehow rock it in the same film Hollywood itself might be saved...if there is anything left saving that is.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

One for the Monet....

A call from far off Niftyborough New Hampshire "Ever been to the Museum of Russian Icons?" "Ahhh no I'm a non practicing catholic not a non practicing eastern orthodox..." "A shame because there is an exhibit of Soviet Era Propaganda Posters at said Museum in Clinton Ma!" "Woman please! Fire up your Curtis P-40 Warhawk and meet me there!!" (For once Rebecca Cathcart-Monet, Air Marquesa of the Granite State let me play the aggressor...whence but undergraduates we'd taken student tours of the Olde Soviet Union and had some insight into the topic at hand). *** As always Ms Cathcart Monet executed one of her perfect three point landings on Clinton's town common...swung down resplendent in a light silk summer weight organdy flight suit and flying helmet. "Tres chic!" I offered. "feckless charmer" she chided. *** Inside the iconic poster art from out the ruins of the USSR was on display: "Good a totalitarians they have this obsession with visually activated ideological content...four word slogans...punchy images, primary colors.." mused the aviatrix. "Well the bolsheviks started out with a largely illiterate society one that venerated painted icons, so their propaganda reflected that context." spake I. "Look at this Cosmonaut poster...the pose is quasi religious, the soyuz rocket in the background forms a defacto church spire this is an Icon By Any Other Name" jabbed Rebecca. "Well the Bolsheviks made a mistake common to intellectual ideologues, they couldn't destroy religion they simply supplanted it, it yet still kept revealed religion's drawbacks & limitations" I opined. We viewed numerous posters highlighting the "vital work" the border patrols a none too subtle celebration of the USSR's status as a closed society...and the nasty ubiquitous busts depicting Lenin's fixed scowl and Stalin's bestial smirk. "And yet...look at all this artwork depicting a equitable just Socialist Utopia...and on the same wall Mealy Mouthed PSA's denouncing drunkeness, delinquency and absenteeism...that alone tells you what the CPSU truly feared" mused the Aeronautess. "Oh Agreed...PSAs are windows to the National Soul" I rejoined. "These guys remind me so much of the Futurists...except they truly worshipped machines, steel mills, hydroelectric dams, ICBMs, jet planes, unlike the futurists who had a totemist relationship with technology...the CPSU literally celebrated the coming Homo Societicus as a kind of grinning cyborg"...concluded Ms Cathcart-Monet. "Ah yes a grinning soviet cyborg with vacuum tubes and a gasoline engine..." japed me. That one made us giggle. *** A picnic on the common, we toast our little adventure with tiny glasses of Codice a sweet fortifying Spanish wine...and with a good tail wind, Ms. Cathcart-Monet took off with a cheery wave and beat her way north. *** I Bowed and departed and made my way home via back roads seldom suited the day.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shamrock Dictatorship...

It occurs to me, that if George Orwell's 1984, was exclusively set in Ireland, then Winston Smith would still end up tortured and brainwashed in the bowels of the "Ministry of Love" and ultimately compelled to recant his hatred of Big Brother by O'Brien the Thought Policeman. and then, two weeks after the nominal end of the novel, Smith would come up behind O'Brien in a dark Dublin alleyway and cave in his torturer's skull with a bungstarter. Room 101 or no Room 101, torture or no torture, The Irish Always Get Even.m


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Comic Stalwart Archie Andrews is Dead!

*** Well...Archie had it COMING...He Made Enemies! *** Do you suppose in the afterlife, Archie will be met by "Casper the Friendly Ghost' who will take one look and cackle "YESSSS A Friend for Casper, A FRIEND FOR ALL ETERNITY...MWAHAHAHAAA!"