Channel Zero: The Blog

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

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Channel Zero Returns to the Somerville Theatre Friday April 10th @ 8pm

With a screening of: "The Perils of Pauline" (1967) Pamela Austin Stars as Cinema’s First Action Heroine in this Colorful High Camp Pastiche of the Classic Serials from the Swingin’ Sixties! Costarring Pat Boone as her fearless fiancée and Terry-Thomas as Pauline’s Lecherous Nemesis along with a Police Line Up of Memorable Character Actors! Friday April 10th @ 8pm (Sharp!) The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) 55 Davis Square Square Somerville Ma. 617 625 5700 Admission: $7.50 (cheap!) Why screen "The Perils of Pauline" (1967) ? Because it is a unique cinema artifact from a brief era in Hollywood when everyone was trying to duplicate the colorful, campy success of the Batman TV Series. There were sitcom superheroes like Captain Nice, Mister Terrific as well a proposed pilots for Dick Tracy and yes even Wonder Woman (both of which were screened at the very first Channel Zero event twenty years ago BTW). The Producers of "The Perils of Pauline" decided to emphasize Batman's "cliffhanger gimmick" and cast the dollsome Pamela Austin (known for her work in commercials mostly) with Pat Boone as her square-ass boyfriend (taking a break from the usual ne'er do wells and beatniks Boone usually played) and the buffoonishly ineffectual Terry-Thomas as the villain. The campy pilot never sold, but the resulting material was deemed strong enough to form a stand alone film that is itself crammed with some of Hollywood's best character actors, everyone is in this movie, Kurt Kasznar, Leon Askin, Vito Scotti, Billy Barty, Edward Everett Horton and even June Foray manages to contribute some voicework! Hell this is psychotronic cinema at it's best and most obscure, why wouldn't we screen it??

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Richard III AKA "Crookback Richard"

last of the Plantagenets and late King of England, was finally laid to rest this week with Full Pomp and Circumstance having been duly dug up from underneath a parking lot after he lost the Battle of Bosworth in fourteen something-or-other. His Majesty was buried....according to the Anglican Rite despite the fact that Richard was a nominal Roman Catholic, indeed his Monarchy came and went decades before Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. You'd a thought, Richard's bones might have been at least handed over to the Franciscan Friars for stately reburial (they having allegedly concealed his body the first time)...but no the Archbishop of Canterbury presided without anyone in the U.K. turning an eyebrow. This is a muted example of the Catholic-Protestant schism in England that was rage on and off up to Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden in 1702. It is also an ironic inversion of Machiavelli's famous Dictum from "The Prince", in this case "The Religion of the People Shall Be the Religion of the Prince".


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....


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'.


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!


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).