Channel Zero: The Blog

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

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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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hercules (2014)

It hasn't quite been the exercise in futility that was Last Summer's movies...we've even seen Woody Allen play a pimp of all things. One has to take grace where one can find it. Meanwhile before it skids off to basic cable, seriously get out to see Duane "The Rock" Johnson as Hercules. Surprisingly this is, short of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" the best action movie I've seen all summer. Granted The Rock is no actor, he struggles to rise to the level of snarky insolence exuded by Bruce Willis...but cast him as Hercules in a film that treats Greek Hero's supernatural origins with charming ambiguity and the Grappler's natural talent for irony kicks in just fine. And what the hell, it's been a hangover of a summer...nothing akin to last summer's Gotterdammerung...but no great indicator of Great Things to Come Either. In short The Rock was born to play Hercules....just as Woody Allen was born to play a Pimp...if they could somehow rock it in the same film Hollywood itself might be saved...if there is anything left saving that is.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

One for the Monet....

A call from far off Niftyborough New Hampshire "Ever been to the Museum of Russian Icons?" "Ahhh no I'm a non practicing catholic not a non practicing eastern orthodox..." "A shame because there is an exhibit of Soviet Era Propaganda Posters at said Museum in Clinton Ma!" "Woman please! Fire up your Curtis P-40 Warhawk and meet me there!!" (For once Rebecca Cathcart-Monet, Air Marquesa of the Granite State let me play the aggressor...whence but undergraduates we'd taken student tours of the Olde Soviet Union and had some insight into the topic at hand). *** As always Ms Cathcart Monet executed one of her perfect three point landings on Clinton's town common...swung down resplendent in a light silk summer weight organdy flight suit and flying helmet. "Tres chic!" I offered. "feckless charmer" she chided. *** Inside the iconic poster art from out the ruins of the USSR was on display: "Good Ghod...like a totalitarians they have this obsession with visually activated ideological content...four word slogans...punchy images, primary colors.." mused the aviatrix. "Well the bolsheviks started out with a largely illiterate society one that venerated painted icons, so their propaganda reflected that context." spake I. "Look at this Cosmonaut poster...the pose is quasi religious, the soyuz rocket in the background forms a defacto church spire this is an Icon By Any Other Name" jabbed Rebecca. "Well the Bolsheviks made a mistake common to intellectual ideologues, they couldn't destroy religion they simply supplanted it, it yet still kept revealed religion's drawbacks & limitations" I opined. We viewed numerous posters highlighting the "vital work" the border patrols a none too subtle celebration of the USSR's status as a closed society...and the nasty ubiquitous busts depicting Lenin's fixed scowl and Stalin's bestial smirk. "And yet...look at all this artwork depicting a equitable just Socialist Utopia...and on the same wall Mealy Mouthed PSA's denouncing drunkeness, delinquency and absenteeism...that alone tells you what the CPSU truly feared" mused the Aeronautess. "Oh Agreed...PSAs are windows to the National Soul" I rejoined. "These guys remind me so much of the Futurists...except they truly worshipped machines, steel mills, hydroelectric dams, ICBMs, jet planes, unlike the futurists who had a totemist relationship with technology...the CPSU literally celebrated the coming Homo Societicus as a kind of grinning cyborg"...concluded Ms Cathcart-Monet. "Ah yes a grinning soviet cyborg with vacuum tubes and a gasoline engine..." japed me. That one made us giggle. *** A picnic on the common, we toast our little adventure with tiny glasses of Codice a sweet fortifying Spanish wine...and with a good tail wind, Ms. Cathcart-Monet took off with a cheery wave and beat her way north. *** I Bowed and departed and made my way home via back roads seldom traveled...it suited the day.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shamrock Dictatorship...

It occurs to me, that if George Orwell's 1984, was exclusively set in Ireland, then Winston Smith would still end up tortured and brainwashed in the bowels of the "Ministry of Love" and ultimately compelled to recant his hatred of Big Brother by O'Brien the Thought Policeman. and then, two weeks after the nominal end of the novel, Smith would come up behind O'Brien in a dark Dublin alleyway and cave in his torturer's skull with a bungstarter. Room 101 or no Room 101, torture or no torture, The Irish Always Get Even.m

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Comic Stalwart Archie Andrews is Dead!

*** Well...Archie had it COMING...He Made Enemies! *** Do you suppose in the afterlife, Archie will be met by "Casper the Friendly Ghost' who will take one look and cackle "YESSSS A Friend for Casper, A FRIEND FOR ALL ETERNITY...MWAHAHAHAAA!"

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Snowpiercer" (2014)

Best action movie I've seen all summer...helps that it's a not so subtle attack on Ayn Rand's whole cult of the iconoclastic super engineer (played by Ed Harris as usual). In a frozen world, the last of humanity careen across the Earth's surface on a luxury supertrain stuffed with an indolent overclass riding up front and a motley collection of proletarians living in poverty in the tail. Well Chris Evans ain't having none of that, and thus mayhem ensues. Its a film that is "about something", which is rare for a summer release of almost any kind...although my particular takeaway is that engineers if they have talent enough will quickly adapt to almost any hierarchy no matter how exploitive...and if they can't adapt...they'll create one. In short the very essence of Objectivism.... But what the hell, any adaptation of a French Graphic Novel directed by a rising South Korean Talent starring an Avenger (Chris Evans), Gaius Caligula (John Hurt) and Ed Harris in full demigod mode...is aces high with me.

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Many Thanks to our Channel Zero audience on Friday Night.....

It was large, it was appreciative, it even laughed un-ironically (well here and there at least), it ran the gamut from pensioners to brainy collegians, in short to us the nigh perfect gathering. I Mean, Who Knew The Late Phyllis Diller still had such drawing power?? Channel Zero though, will return on Friday October 3rd at 8pm sharp in the Somerville Theatre's micro-cinema with an epic screening of that long lost semi-silent classic "The Mysterious Island" (1929) starring Lionel Barrymore, Lloyd Hughes & Jane Daly. Pass the word along to any steampunks you may know....

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Channel Zero Proudly Presents "Riot Girls of the Great Society" - Friday July 11th at 8pm

(A Celebration of Four Deliciously Obscure Female Centric Sitcoms of the 1960's!) Out of our Fabled Channel Zero Archives we will be screening: "Occasional Wife (1966)", in which rising young ad man Michael Callan hires local artist Patricia Harty to pretend to be his wife as his employer prefers hiring Family Men! "The Pruitts of Southampton" (1966) starring Phyllis Diller as a busted heiress desperate to keep up appearances. "Mona McCluskey"(1965) Featuring Juliet Prowse as a fabulously wealthy and successful actress who marries a USAF Staff Sergeant played by former screen Tarzan, Denny Miller. "Ugliest Girl in Town"(1968) A sitcom concept so weird, we decline humbly to attempt mere summery, suffice to say the "High Concept" is, Swinging London's Top Model Is A Man Bay-bee!! Why Screen Such Dog-Eared Obscurities? Because we can't complete with Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, the X-Men and those meshugginah Transformers thats why! So yes were are counter-programming (frankly we are counter programming like crazy!)....but we are also mapping changes to the sitcom landscape, taking a moment to review the mythically comical female in American Sitcoms...and reviewing just how convoluted & fantasy driven plotlines could be in a storytelling landscape rigidly controlled by Network "Standards and Practices" departments. The Somerville Theatre (micro cinema) 55 Davis Square Somerville Ma Friday July 11th, 2014 Admission $7.50 (still the cheapest ticket in the Hub) Tickets on sale the night of the show in front of the Micro-Cinema. Tell Your Friends, Channel Zero is Back and Giving No Quarter!

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