Channel Zero: The Blog

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Art And Craft (2014)

"Take Me to the Movies!!" barked the Jungle Girl from the safety of a vine outside my kitchen window. "And why should I do that Oh Princess of the Treetops?" japed I. "Because I can summon Pteradactyls, Tigers and the General Counsel's Office of the Department of Fisheries!" needled the Blonde Vine Swinger. And so we went to the movies, that is the problem with Jungle Girls, they are Perpetually on the Bum. *** Mark Landis has a psychosis...he produces painstaking copies of museum quality artwork (sometimes by very transparent means) and then donates them gratis to all sorts of museums and galleries thru out the Southwest. Because he has never accepted so much as a penny for his rampant compulsive fakery, Landis has never yet been indicted for fraud despite the fact that he routinely makes his donations under an alias (at one point he impersonates a Jesuit!) and is saddled with a spectrumy personality that makes PeeWee Herman look like the Godfather of Soul. Per this exhaustive documentary, Landis lives in a cluttered condo spending his days faking everything from religious icons to Dr. Seuss drawings. And to me, as a thwarted artist of some vintage it is an ineffably sad story, because Landis has genuine talent, he is part of that mystical minority of art lover who can gaze at a masterpiece and really get something out of it. Alas though, his talent is completely dominated and ultimately nullified by his copy-and-donate psychosis, indeed it seems clear to me that he cannot express his deepest artistic impulses any other way. You see this sometime in the farthest corners of what is "geek culture" extremely able costume designers or talented writers of fan fiction who are content to simply replicate with exactitude other people's fantasies. In Landis' case talent that could bring him gallery shows or a respectable position in an advertising agency or a king hell head start on an outlaw artist run...is instead making donations of fraudulent art simply to feel the love. That in turn ties into the perpetual credulity of museums they wanna believe badly amidst all the commerce that attends on the art world in the essential goodness of the gratis donation. So in a way, whenever Landis pulls off this scam two compulsions are being satisfied.

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Monday, October 06, 2014

"Left Behind" (2014)

There is a strange circularity to the Affairs of Men. Consider Nick Cage and Ben Affleck, a scant ten years ago Cage was still at the top of his game commanding twenty million dollar paydays...Ben Affleck was mired in junk like "Pearl Harbor" and "Gigli"...his career well on it's way to becoming a punchline. Now today, the exact reverse, Cage is reduced to doing Xian Revenge Porn (Xian Revenge Porn that is a REMAKE of a Kirk Cameron Baptist Revenge Fantasy) while Affleck opens in the biggest movie of the Fall ("Gone Girl") when he isn't cavorting on some soundstage as Batman. What happened? Who knows? This sort of shit happens all the time in Hollywood...It is just sad to see an actor with Cage's props corrupting his talent in such a seedy boring vehicle...Is he that desperate for the money? "Left Behind" isn't a good movie, it's cheap looking and rigid Xian post apocalyptic fantasy that mostly plays out as an airline disaster movie....Cage looks thoroughly humiliated in all his scenes. The actress playing his daughter (the inevitable Kiwi Cassi Thomson) has some chops though, she might have a career going forward but her agent needs to be waaaa-ay more discerning her projects...The kid is twenty one, her career can still be saved. The rest of the cast are well meaning nonentities likely attached to the film for reasons of religious sentiment. I have one question about The Rapture (the sudden disappearance of "The Saved" prior to the arrival of the Anti Christ)...babies all disappear (cuz they are innocent I guess) but their mom's many of whom, fed them, clothed them, protected them, sacrificed for them....they stay behind to get eaten by the UN Security Council or Chicago Community Activists or something? In a word...misogyny.

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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Joan Rivers: An Autopsy

Let the record show that in the end, Joan Rivers lived and died a convinced and committed Monarchist. In that she fervently believed in the Ascendancy of Taste, Style, Olde Fashioned Glamor and Charisma as exuded by an Elite Aristocracy of Hollywood Notables...and very likely in her heart of hearts she believed in the semi divinity of Ron & Nancy Reagan. A comedian though, can never be a convinced Monarchist, they run the risk of becoming mere Court Jesters. Joan's solution to this was simple and elegant she cloaked her Royalist Pretensions completely by becoming The Comedienne Who Never Apologizes for Her Caustic One Liners. This was sheer brilliance, reaped all sorts of some undeserved street cred from her fellow comedians (a famously undiscerning lot)and made her millions. Of course, I have to note....that the mental institutions of this country are full of people who never ever apologize for their behavior. Just sayin'. Joan had a similar move with her pro-gay rhetoric that won her a profitable constituency and very successfully cloaked her otherwise conventional wingnut politics. And so there she lies, Joan Rivers, Glamor Worshipper and GOP Camp Follower...uncloseted at last. Well now maybe her Daughter Melissa can escape Sidekick Status & stop going to those terrible 3rd rate plastic surgeons her mother foisted on her....poor girl is starting to look like she was carved from low grade wood. And no I'm not apologizing for that one. Toodles!

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Channel Zero Returns!!

Friday October 3rd at 8p (sharp) in the cozy screening room of the Somerville Theatre 55 Davis Square Somerville with a screening of.... "THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND" (!929) Lionel Barrymore stars in this silent steampunk classic as Captain Nemo whose super submarine The Nautilus is hijacked by a Balkan Dictator and taken to the sunken City of Atlantis. Based on the classic novel by Jules Verne with a few sea monsters, sentient amphibians and even a girl thrown in for Good Measure! Admission: $7.50 (cheap!) Three Years in the making and unseen in Boston for Eighty Five Years!!

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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 that...is 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.

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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 Mawkishness...fit 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 puppies...in 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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