Channel Zero: The Blog

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

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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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Forcibly Commended...

Last week at the Annual Meeting of the Boston Society of Film Critics, Channel Zero was voted a Commendation for our nigh twenty year long commitment to repertory film screenings and offbeat movies in general. That is All Well and Good, Channel Zero is duly grateful, after twenty years of Genteel Obscurity (and too many venues to count) we could use a little positive press attention. Thanks to everyone who spoke up on our behalf and who voted for us.... However if'n you look at that link, the Award Winner on the repertory circuit locally is The Harvard Film Archive, like across the board! Clearly we are gonna need to Punch Above Our Weight if we ever hope to move up in the ranks. :) Still it is as good a time as any to pause and reflect hard to believe all this started on VHS in the bowels of the now departed Liberty Cafe in Central Square... Now look at us, twenty year older and still clinging to the side of the same damn burning lifeboat. :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

"The Flash" Tuesdays 8pm The CW

I wanna like this show, "The Flash" is one of those dependable B-List DC super heroes who single skill set (super speed) is endlessly shoe-hornable into almost any conceivable comic book challenge. And then there is The Flash's rogue's gallery, maybe not as notorious as Batman's, but a dependable collection of one-trick ponies, mad scientists and at least one sentient gorilla...better known more popular super heroes get by with worse for antagonists (COUGH Spider-Man COUGH!) Alas the nominal star of this show, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash....is a little too short and a little too young looking to pull off forensic scientist for the local PD. That is a minor quibble. my main beef lies in the show's odd structure which mandates that it is a very very formulaic super hero show (that draws A LOT from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer) until the last five minutes when Barry Allen's trusted mentor Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) does some secretive heavy handed thing to indicate to the aud that He May Not Be On The Side of Righteousness. Its all very ominous and mysterious but you have to wade thru fifty minutes of Nothing New to get there. Then again what do I apparently this show is cleaning up in the ratings producer Greg Berlanti is a new wunderkinder of TV with three hit shows this season ("Arrow" and "The Mysteries of Laura" being the other two) with more on the way.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

I think my favorite movie this fall has been "Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance" (2014)

I'm not numb to the film's drawbacks (languid pace, a solid turn by Emma Stone that is also frustratingly superfluous, Ed Norton's on and off lisp)...But Every Middle Aged Man has that god-awful Birdman voice in his head berating him, telling him he could be A God and Fly Above the Rabble If Only He Could Stop Getting Old! For that moment alone, Michael Keaton deserves an Oscar Nomination.

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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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