Channel Zero: The Blog

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

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Happy Birthday Orson Welles

One Hundred Years Young as of Today! Y'know Orson there are maybe a dozen or so directors, worldwide whose total filmography in and of itself a complete film school education, and you are one of them, shit you may be first in line. That pre-eminence comes at a terrible cost, lost and or abandoned projects litter your resume from a filmed record of your stage adaptation of "Moby Dick", to your last unfinished film "The Other Side of the Wind". I can honor your memory by extolling your movies or pine away for one of your lost or missing projects, but I've done all that already. No the best way to enhance your legacy is help someone else get their dream project realized. Like maybe John McGuiness, one of Channel Zero's occasional collaborators who has been working for years on a Holocaust Documentary, like Orson, he needs "End Money" to finish up his film, Unlike Orson he has recourse to Kickstarter to stimulate funds. I know John to be a serious and able man, he needs short money doesn't seem so far fetched that he can't dig up the remaining funds on line, click on the link and if it seems worthwhile make a contribution. He is a tenacious man who talked with some truly tenacious people, death camp survivors, the very guarantors of our civilization. The footage looks promising...Just like "It's All True" except now WE can make something happen instead of hoping for some studio to come to it's senses. Film and filmgoing must become democratized if the cinema is to survive, projects like this with their open fundraising appeal to the public can make that happen. Think about it.


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!