Channel Zero: The Blog

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Requiem for the West End Kid...

It seems incredible that Leonard Nimoy is dead. Despite his age and recent ill-health he is one of those select few among actors who is utterly ubiquitous in the popular memory thanks to millions upon millions of "Star Trek" re-runs on UHF stations back in the 1970's. He was right up there with Adam West, Burt Ward, Lynda Carter or even Billy Mumy faithfully & reliably there every weekday at 4pm or so. He was so inexorably imprinted on my memory in That Role, that I can recall being shocked to see him in other parts smiling most naturally....all very UnVulcan-like. He was in the end, an actor who after some discontented pushback decided to embrace the Mister Spock typecasting and Make It Bleed Money. It also rare for an actor to revive an iconic part forged in relatively youthful days and add new depths to the character sans the slide into self parody. For a performer who had a long journeyman's pedigree in episodic television, Nimoy was clearly the most "methody" of the original Star Trek Cast...this stood him in good stead when it came time to feign mind melding with foam rubber or perhaps strumming a futuristic lyre all with a perfectly composed Mug. But then I've always had a profound respect for actors like Leonard Nimoy who made the typecasting work for them, the Boris Karloffs' and Betty Whites'of this world, their phone rings and rings right up until the end every time. And to think by all accounts his father (a barber in Mattapan so I read) wanted Nimoy to take up the accordian thinking he'd never lack for work as a performer....

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oscar Predictions...

(More like....Oscar Prejudices quite Frankly) Best Picture Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole "Birdman" was for better or worse the only film nominated that spoke to me as a fifty year old man....I wish it well. Best Actor: Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Deserves it, suffered for it, will likely never be in the room again. Although the rumor is a sizable collection of English Academy Members united behind Eddie Redmayne he might just pull off a coup at the last minute, otherwise Cooper, Cumberbatch & Carell are all out of position. Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon – Wild (as Cheryl Strayed) This is why I call them prejudices, Reese will be skunked by Julianne Moore, but I wanna stay to true to my whims. Best Supporting Actor: J. K. Simmons – Whiplash (as Terence Fletcher) Again suffered for it, deserves it, did the work for it...Norton might make it a tight race although in a perfect universe Ruffalo would be right in there at the last minute as well. Best Supporting Actress Laura Dern – Wild (as Barbara "Bobbi" Grey) Again a prejudice, Dern has labored a long time in the vineyard, likely she won't win (I'm guessing Arquette will grab it off fuh real, Streep been too many times to the Oscars an the rest are Able Fledglings...) As for "Best Director" that is too many prejudices for me to pick....:) Anderson would be Poetic Justice, Iñárritu would be Restorative Justice...and Linklater a cunning Plea Bargain by a slick small town lawyer played by Pat Buttram. So figure Linklater....:)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Whiplash" (2014)

I wanted to like "Whiplash" a lot, really I did, and before I go any further I wish to laud all the performances, Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons (who deserves the Oscar nomination in every way) even down to Melissa Benoist in the thankless role of the hapless girlfriend. They all done good believe me. But... I had one of those revelatory movie experiences halfway through, the thought more or less slammed into me, to the effect "J.K. Simmons is torturing poor Miles Teller to make him into a kind of Suffering Jazz Drummer Messiah...All so the poor schnook can tour the USA playing thirty one seat venues in front of an aging and shrinking audience that simply hasn't figured out how to steal his music on line for free". If Simmons REALLY wanted to torture the kid he should have made it clear that his youthful passion for Jazz will inevitably into a quaint time consuming second job that will literally drain the joy from his life. And with that, the Movie Imploded Completely. It was supremely well acted, but the premise was almost hilariously flawed from the git-go. And anyway what is our cultural obsession with torment as the only path to excellence? The Ancient Greeks held that happiness was a function of the full use of one's powers along lines of excellence, here in the USA we have come to believe that excellence is impossible without a long tortured apprenticeship full of physical and psychological agony. Thats why these "drill instructor" characters (J.K. Simmons, R. Lee Ermey etc etc) never get second guessed in almost any drama or comedy...ever notice that? Its a sign of insecurity....just sayin'.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Channel Zero Returns Friday February 20th at 8pm Sharp!!

Join Us when we screen: "The Pueblo Incident" (1973) Starring Hal Holbrook, Richard Mulligan & James Hong This is an Ultra-Rare TV historic dramatization of the 1968 seizure of the intelligence ship, USS Pueblo, by North Korean Armed Forces & the brutal treatment of the crew during their year of captivity as depicted via flashbacks during the 1969 Senate investigation. The Somerville Theatre (micro-cinema) Friday February 20th 2015 8pm (sharp!) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma 617) 625-5700 Admission: 7.50 (cheap!) Trust us North Korea really doesn’t want you to see This True Story! Channel Zero, Now in Our Twentieth Year and the Adventure is Just Begun!

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

My Top Movies for 2014...

"Her", Spike Jonze needs to make MORE science fiction films and if they revolve around people in heavy romantic entanglements with their smartphones, so much the better. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" Wes Anderson believes in Irony the way The Pope believes in Transubstantiation...and Anderson will dish it out any way he can, subtle heavy handed, silly...and if along the way he makes a great comedian out of Ralph Fiennes then it is all for the good. "Jodorowski's Dune" This might be THE BEST science fiction movie I saw all year which was nothing more than an exhaustive documentary about Alejandro Jodorowski's attempt to make a movie out of Frank Herbert's SF novel "Dune" back in 1975. The film would have been an eccentric catastrophe but Good Lord What a Production Notebook! Fading Gigolo The only thing cooler than casting Woody Allen as a Pimp is casting John Turturro as a Brooklyn Gigolo. Snowpiercer Loved it, I'll never dismiss Chris Evans ever again, even if he decides to wreck the Doc Savage franchise I will always forgive him because he starred in Snowpiercer. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I dunno, somehow 2014 despite a plethora of shitty tentpole franchise super hero flicks and fantasy extravaganzas still managed to squeeze out a really really good SF movie like every three months or so...this one is doubly memorable for being a sequel but a robust one in every way...what can I say sometimes remakes work. "Lucy" While we are at it, Luc Besson should make nothing but science fiction movies with Scarlett Johansson...I'd watch them both tear into a revisionist Flash Gordon all done from Dale Arden's perspective. "Art and Craft" I love fakes and phonies, and this documentary on Art Forger Mark Landis is amazing because the poor sod gets away with his forgeries because he has never made a dime off them! He DONATES carefully executed simulacrums to museums out of a spectrumy need for approval. Fascinating story. "St. Vincent" I don't care if Bill Murray has done better work elsewhere, JUST GIVE HIM THE DAMN OSCAR!! "Birdman or the Unexpected Virtues of Ignorance" If you love this movie, chances are you are a man over the age of fifty, and its about time someone did something for me and my homies. "The Homesman" Tommy Lee Jones can just play grizzled drunken cowboys for the rest of his life and sooner or later the rest us (much as was the case with the late John Wayne) will finally catch up to him creatively speaking. "Nova Express" This is a shout out to director Andre Perkowsky who apparently is allowing a ninety minute version of his projected three hour long adaptation of the novel by William S. Burroughs to circulate....STOP RIGHT HERE DUDE!! You got it right the first time, the select readings from the novel, the surreal stock footage this movie is perfect as is!! Don't push your luck! "Foxcatcher" I have a dreamy dream that the Best Actor Oscar is a dogfight between three avowed comedians, Steve Carell, Bill Murray and Michael Keaton...can't say who I'd root for....after all, when are those three ever gonna be in that room ever again? "Wild" I love survival stories...and if Reese Witherspoon wants to make a movie about swimming the English Channel in January...I Am There. My only complaint about this flick is that clearly thousands of dollars were spent trying to make Ms Witherspoon look worn, filthy, fetid & dirty....all of it wasted. "Big Eyes" No one is ever gonna accuse Tim Burton of being subtle...but then again this could have been a sort of comical "Female Ed Wood" film but for a subtle performance from Amy Adams who turns everything into a plea for artistic integrity even for hacks (who need it most of all).

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Unfinished Business for 2014, "Gotham" briefly reviewed...

I wanna like "Gotham" I really do...but sans the Caped Crusader (who is here depicted in his boyhood by some unmemorable little twerp)all we have to carry the series is the young Detective James Gordon who is fated to become Batman's most Ardent Enabler, Police Commissioner Gordon. Here is my point it is counterintuitive, so brace yourselves....Who The Hell Gives a Rat's Ass about James Gordon OR his Goddamned Back Story? I know I don't. It is akin to entire big budget television series devoted to the Amazing Adventures of Inspector Lestrade or the Action Packed Saga of Miss Moneypenny. Otherwise....Gotham seems to be a well cast show whose creative high point will be a sort of scherzo on "The Sopranos" with nascent big name super villains instead of New Jersey Mafioso. The concept does nothing for me but we have "Smallville" to thank for the notion that super hero shows WITH NO SUPERHEROES IN THEM are inherently popular and profitable.

Friday, December 19, 2014

George Clooney has a point

when he says that we have just allowed a Foreign Despot (Komrade Kim Jong Un of the North Korean People' Democratic Republic) to terrorize Sony to the point where they have pulled Seth Rogen's latest comedy "The Interview" from distribution. He makes the entirely sensible observation that is an ominous example of the abrogation of the First Amendment at the whim of the same Komrade Kim, Dictator of North Korea. Lets get something clear here, we've been letting The First Amendment get awfully shopworn and tattered lately, between the Patriot Act, NSA eavesdropping and certain practices favored by Hollywood Studios to curry favor in authoritarian markets (exp. the remake of "Red Dawn" where the bad guys went from Chinese to North Korean in the blink of a pixel thus ensuring the ongoing tolerance of the Middle Kingdom for said film's producers). It simply fell to Kim's Despicable Regime To Take the Next Step and really administer a beatdown to Sony...and you know what? WE LET IT HAPPEN! Listen...all of the first amendment intersects with pure commerce, a certain amount of free speech is therefore created in order to make someone somewhere a pile of money, nevertheless THAT SPEECH MUST NEEDS BE PROTECTED AS MUCH AS THE POSTINGS OF THIS OBSCURE BLOG!!! And we didn't do that. We let Sony chicken out along with the theater chains...on nothing more than a threat. I don't know what is going to happen on the Korean Peninsula, my only policy thereon is simple "Make Sure Our Word is Good and Our Powder is Dry", more than that may not be possible at this juncture. I do know however that we cannot allow a foreign despot any veto over our First Amendment Rights no matter how commercially driven they may be, any more than we should allow the NSA to snoop in our emails or permit predator drones to kill US Nationals on Foreign Soil. ALL these things degrade the law and our protections under the Bill of Rights....we've built up quite an arsenal it's the wonder of the world, I do not give Komrade Kim long odds on the battlefield if he wants to test that notion...but lets start protecting the First Amendment here at home with the exact same ferocity.

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