Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Hot N Cold"

But enough about the presidential candidates, Ms. Perry. Apart from that, how do you really feel?

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Celebrity Message of the Week

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Good Morning"

The cheeriest of songs for a week that could use all the cheer it could handle.

And who would have guessed that Gene Kelly and company would be so multilingual?

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Book of the Week

Poor Joe Bageant may never be as hip as Thomas Frank or Rush Limbaugh but I found his take on Red State America to be a welcome breath of fresh air when I first read it back in 2007. I'm just sorry it took me so long to find an occasion to mention it.

I read a lot of books in my spare time but I don't always find time to mention the ones worth reading. And this book was definitely worth reading. It would be nice to think that Obama's election has made this particular book out of date -- but I doubt it.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trailer of the Week: The Parallax View (1974)

Oh, no! If they can question Warren Beatty's manhood, then who among us is safe?

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Hey, I Remember This Show: Red Dwarf

Well, it is cold outside...

But seriously, folks. This used to be one of my favorite sci-fi shows back in the 1990s until it started going downhill after the seventh season. The local PBS station used to show episodes of it just before Doctor Who and since I regularly saw excerpts from such episodes everytime I tuned in early to catch Doctor Who, I eventually got hooked. It didn't hurt that the show has a catchy theme song as well. Jenna Russell sings it in the outro sequence below.

As for the intro, my favorite intro of the various seasons was this:

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: Space Precinct

Apparently this program was a cop show in space which was brought to us from our friends across the big pond back in the 1990s. Unfortunately, it never lasted more than one season.

However, on the plus side, cast member Nancy Paul seems like a dead ringer for a young Nancy Allen. I wonder if the two of them are related.

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What a Revelation!

If nothing else, the 1991 movie The Rapture deserves credit for being the one of the few films critical of Fundamentalist Christianity that dares to ask the question: if such a religion is so bad, why are so many people attracted to it?

It promptly gives at least one answer in the opening sequence in which we view Sharon (played by Mimi Rogers) doing a customer service job that requires her to mechanically give the same information over and over again to different customers. In other words, Sharon works in a dehumanizing environment.

Every so often, Sharon goes off with Vic, a male friend, to blow off some steam by picking up strangers for casual sex. But even this doesn't satisfy her.

Then one day Sharon witnesses a group of people in the company cafeteria who appear to have a special bond. She soon finds out that they are in a special church and she finds herself being drawn to them more and more even though she doesn't consider herself a religious person.

Sharon hears talk of a mysterious black pearl but she is not allowed to join the group until she has seen the pearl herself. Soon afterwards, she goes into a near-suicidal depression and just when she is at the darkest part of her dark night of the soul, she sees a pearl.

She joins the group soon afterwards and becomes so enthusiastic about it that she converts her latest boyfriend, Randy (played by Fox Mulder himself, David Duchovny), into the group as well and eventually marries him.

For a while, life goes better for her. Her husband gets a better job. She quits her job to become a stay-at-home mom. She leads her family in daily prayer sessions. In short, religion seems to work for her.

Then one day a disgruntled office worker kills Randy in a tragic scene which unfortunately includes some of the worst acting in the movie. (For what it's worth, Duchovny is quite adequate but the actor who plays the homicidal maniac is just awful.) Sharon is heartbroken and eventually turns her back on her church when none of the religious people prove up to the task of consoling her.

Instead, Sharon becomes obsessed with seeking her own means of salvation by going off into the desert to make a Kate Bushian deal with God. Unfortunately, it is never quite clear whether such a deal actually exists or whether Sharon merely imagines one in her mind. Ultimately, she makes the Supreme Being an offer she thinks he can't refuse -- only to find...

Ah. But that would be telling. But surely it's not much of a spoiler to note that the movie does not exactly end on a happy note.

It says something about how well The Rapture works -- apart from the one scene I mentioned above -- that both religious people and confirmed atheists can draw lessons from it. Indeed, despite a quite literal interpretation of the Book of Revelations toward the end, the movie remains quite ambiguous as to who actually is to blame for Sharon's final situation. If you're an atheist, you wish to believe it was God. But if so, why weren't all the pearl-worshippers out there in the desert imitating Sharon? If you're a religious person, you wish to believe that it was Sharon. But you can't help but wonder whether it was a cruel joke for Sharon to find more senseless cruelty pursuing what she believes to be the path of religious virtue than she ever did pursuing the path of secular vice. Either way, the answer to Sharon's dilemma is up to the individual viewer. And, of course, the most obvious lesson of the movie is not to go out and do likewise.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Movie Quote of the Week

For it is the doom of men that they forget!
---Nicol Williamson, Excalibur (1981)

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TV Quote of the Week

Why do I even have to learn Spanish? I live in California. I’m never going to use it.
--Sarah Hyland, Modern Family, “Lifetime Supply”

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

R.I.P. Robert Hegyes

American actor Robert Hegyes, best known for his role as Juan Epstein on the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, played his last prank today at age 60.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Nicol Williamson

Scottish actor Nicol Williamson, best known for playing Sherlock Holmes in the 1976 film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and Merlin in the 1981 movie Excalibur, closed his last case on December 16 of last year at age 75.

He will be missed.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

R.I.P. James Farentino

American actor James Farentino, best known for his roles in such TV shows as Dynasty and The Bold Ones, lost his last case Tuesday at age 73.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Dick Tufeld

American actor Dick Tufeld, best known for being the voice of the Robot on the American TV series Lost in Space, gave his last warning to Will Robinson Sunday at age 85.

He will be missed.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Only Happy When It Rains"

Shirley Manson goes to where the wild things are.

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

There is nothing more frightening or exciting than a blank piece of paper. Frightening because you’re on your own, leaving dark tracks across that snowy plain, and exciting because no one knows your destination but yourself, and even you can’t say exactly where you’ll end up.
--Robert McCammon, Boy’s Life

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Science Fiction Quote of the Week

There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author. That term is idiot.
--S.M. Stirling, Conquistador

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Gaston"

I guess it's a good thing for us that Gaston is a fictional character because otherwise, he might be running for President right now.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Trailer of the Week: Network (1976)

Remember the good old days when people still watched live television?

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Hey, I Remember This Show: The Flying Nun

The original opening for the oddest sitcom I ever saw. The funny thing is that when I watched this show as a kid, it never occurred to me to question the logic of the show's premise. In fact, I remember being disappointed whenever Sally Field's character went a whole episode without flying.

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Shaking the Veil

One of the oldest tropes in the book is that of the former sinner who becomes a saint -- or at least, that of the former troublemaker who mends his or her ways and becomes a more respectable person. Such is the trope used by the writers of the 1966 movie The Trouble with Angels, a comedy which would have you believe that adorable little Disney actress Hayley Mills was born to play both a rebellious Catholic girl and a future nun.

Unfortunately, Ms. Mills is not all that believable as rebellious Catholic girl Mary Clancy and though it is quite adorable to see her repeatedly lure her schoolmate Rachel Devery (played by June Harding) into one mess after another, I got the feeling that the film's writers just didn't have the heart to make a movie in which Ms. Mills was too rebellious. It doesn't help that most of Ms. Mills' misdeeds seem hilariously tame by today's standards; granted, Ms. Clancy's habit of smoking cigarettes will still get a girl in trouble with her teachers today even in public schools. But compared to the attitudes which would become common in future generations, Mary Clancy seems like an altar girl and the harshest sin we ever see her actually commit occurs in the opening credits sequence in which Clancy's animated self blows out the flame of the Columbia Studios torch. More often, Ms. Clancy's worst sin is trying to seem a lot more sophisticated than she actually is and she is hardly the first or last teenager to commit that misdeed.

Fortunately, there is Rosalind Russell as the strict but ultimately kind-hearted Mother Superior to give an antidote to whatever saccharine taste Ms. Mills gives the movie. Ms. Russell was hardly the first actress I would have picked to convincingly play a Catholic nun but she plays the role well enough that I can't help but think that if most real-life nuns in the 1960s were nothing like Ms. Russell's character, they should have been.

There is also a cameo by former stripper Gypsy Rose Lee whose role in this movie never quite makes sense as anything but either an in-joke reference to Ms. Russell's performance in Gypsy or else an excuse to allude to Ms. Lee's former career within the opening credits.

As a devout Catholic, I must admit that I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I actually did. After all, this was one of the last Hollywood movies to depict the nuns of the pre-Vatican II era in a sympathetic fashion and while I realize there is a darker side to recent church history than Hollywood movies of the Hays Code era liked to admit, I also doubt that such a system could have endured for so long if there was not at least some good in the system as well. However, this film just did not work for me as well as it should have.

Oh, well. Like Mary Clancy, I too was once a bit of a rebel against the Church even though I never went to Catholic school, and yet even back then, there was a part of me who could not resist the lure of holy water and stained glass. Wishful thinking, perhaps?

Perhaps. I'm still a long way from qualifying for a halo but at least I haven't been hit by lightning yet so maybe my guardian angel was trying to tell me something.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

R.I.P. Etta James

Blues singer Etta James, best known for such songs as "At Last," sang her last note todayat age 73.

She will be missed.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Movie Quote of the Week

Politics is a very peculiar thing, Woodrow. If they want you, they want you. They don’t need reasons anymore... They find their own reasons. It’s just like when a girl wants a man.
--Harry Hayden, Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

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TV Quote of the Week

Maybe we’re good pirates.
--Perry Lang, Miami Vice, "Trust Fund Pirates"

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Redland"

Reflections on the Revolution in America.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Iowa Stubborn"

You just know I had to post this number some time this month even if it doesn't have a thing to do with Martin Luther King Jr.

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Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A lot of things look easy once somebody else has done them.
--David Drake, The Military Dimension: Mark II

If that above quote doesn't sum up my view of the various attempts made by revisionists this past year to dismiss King as a grandstander whose protests were unnecessary because an end to segregation would have eventually come anyway, I don't know what does.

I hope you all have a good holiday despite the existence of such foolish people.

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Literary Quote I Like

You know, one thing really mystifies me about you crackers. The way good Christian white Americans treated the black man in the ‘50s we’re lucky we have one city left standing, and Martin Luther King was a man who could have said, all right, people, go to it, burn this country down. But he didn’t. And all you can do after some white trash shot him, is run him into the ground.
--O’Hanrahan in Wilton Barnhardt's Gospel

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Trailer of the Week: Bulworth (1998)

An O.J. Simpson joke in 1998? Oh, Warren, what were you thinking? And whatever made you think that it was only black voters who felt especially betrayed by the Democrats?

Oh, well. I guess I could give you credit for trying. But not a whole lot seemed to have changed since 1998. So, er, gracias por nada*...

* Spanish for "thanks for nothing."

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Hey, I Remember This Show: Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har

At long last, an animated cartoon that really describes the human condition.

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Don't Worry!

I have been recently trying to make this blog more user-friendly and in order to make the job go faster, I decided to hire the above team of experts to help me out. So from now on, everything should be smooth sailing, right?

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Movie Quote of the Week

Of all the silly nonsense, this is the stupidest tea party I’ve even been to in all my life.
--Kathryn Beaumont, Alice in Wonderland (1951)

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TV Quote of the Week

Bernard, if the right people don’t have power, do you know what happens? The wrong people get it: politicians, councillors, ordinary voters!
--Nigel Hawthorne, Yes, Prime Minister, “Power to the People”

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2000s Movie Reviews

A Christmas Carol (2009)
A Day Without a Mexican (2004)
Adam (2009)
All About Steve (2009)
An American Carol (2008)
Aquamarine (2006)
Art School Confidential (2006)
Ask the Dust (2006)
Bandidas (2006)
Batman Begins (2005)
Beowulf (2007)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
Bolt (2009)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
A. Part I
Casino Royale (2006)
Catch and Release (2006)
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Charlotte's Web (2006)
Constantine (2005)
Coraline (2009)
Crazy/Beautiful (2001)
Crossing Over (2009)
Death at a Funeral (2007)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
88 Minutes (2007)
Enchanted (2007)
Eulogy (2004)
Failure to Launch (2006)
Ghost Town (2008)
Hairspray (2007)
Hancock (2008)
Happy Feet (2006)
Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
Haute Tension (High Tension) (2003)
A. Part I
B. Part II
Hoodwinked (2006)
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Idiocracy (2006)
Igor (2008)
In the Land of Women (2007)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Iron Man (2008)
King Kong (2005)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Lassie (2005)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
A. Part I
B. Part II
Love Actually (2003)
Marley & Me (2008)
May (2002)
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
Mission: Impossible III (2005)
Music and Lyrics (2007)
Night at the Museum (2006)
No Reservations (2007)
Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)
Perfect Stranger (2007)
Poseidon (2006)
Premonition (2007)
P.S. I Love You (2007)
Psycho Beach Party (2000)
Ratatouille (2007)
Spanglish (2004)
Spiderman 3 (2007)
Star Trek (2009)
Surviving Christmas (2004)
Ten Items or Less (2006)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Box (2009)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Grudge 2 (2006)
The Holiday (2006)
The House Bunny (2008)
The Invention of Lying (2009)
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
The Last Kiss (2006)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Proposal (2009)
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
The Weather Man (2005)
The Wrestler (2008)
Tortilla Heaven (2007)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Up (2009)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Waitress (2007)
WALL·E (2008)
Watchmen (2009)
What's Cooking? (2000)
Yo Soy Boricua! Pa' Que Tú Lo Sepas! (I'm Puerto Rican, Just So You Know!) (2006)


1980s Movie Reviews

Beetlejuice (1988)
Border Cop (1980)
Born in East L.A. (1987)
Brazil (1985)
Dead of Winter (1987)
Gotcha! (1985)
La Tumba del Mojado (1985)
Popeye (1980)
The Island (1980)
The Osterman Weekend (1983)
The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
A. Part I
B. Part II


1930s Movie Reviews

American Madness (1932)
Bachelor Mother (1939)
Blonde Venus (1932)
Bordertown (1935)
Dames (1934)
Dancing Lady (1933)
Dinner at Eight (1933)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Easy Living (1937)
Footlight Parade (1933)
42nd Street (1933)
Frankenstein (1931)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
A. Part I
B. Part II
C. Part III
Holiday (1938)
Lost Horizon (1937)
Marie Antoinette (1938)
Meet the Baron (1933)
Night Nurse (1931)
No Man of Her Own (1932)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Romance in Manhattan (1935)
Scarface (1932)
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Step Lively, Jeeves! (1937)
Thank You, Jeeves! (1936)
The Cat and the Canary (1939)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Old Dark House (1932)
The Petrified Forest (1936)
The Wedding Night (1935)
The Whole Town's Talking (1935)
Theodora Goes Wild (1936)
Three-Cornered Moon (1933)
Werewolf of London (1935)
Wife vs. Secretary (1936)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Dear God"

The song least likely to be used in Rick Perry's Presidential campaign.

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Who's Your Little Who-Zis?"

For the Self-Styled Siren, a brief musical number from the most elusive of Busby Berkeley movies, the 1932 film Night World. I can't wait to see this film make it to DVD.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Bored to Death: “Pilot”

There was a time a few years ago when I probably would have appreciated this show more. Then again when I consider some of the more stupid stuff that I enjoyed watching when I was younger, I don't necessarily consider that a good thing.

Besides, there are TV shows that have done the old "P.I. who's not really a P.I." thing a whole lot better than this particular show. Perhaps it's because I've gotten tired of the old "hipster who is too hip to avoid making a mess of his love life" routine but this show got really old really fast -- so much so that I found it hard to root for the hero to get back together with his obligatory love interest. Granted, a show with this kind of title can't be accused of false advertising but I wasn't exactly surprised to find out that it has been recently cancelled. It was only a matter of time...

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Trailer of the Week: Primary Colors (1998)

Is it primary season already? Boy, does time fly!

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Hey, I Remember This Show: 24

So the closest thing we have nowadays to a modern-day Mission: Impossible series is The Jack Bauer Show? Say it ain't so.

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: Mission: Impossible (1988)

So there was an attempted revival of the old Mission: Impossible TV series that lasted two seasons and ended six years before the first Mission: Impossible movie was released? Why doesn't somebody tell me these things?

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Movie Quote of the Week

This is too much goddamned bullshit!...And not enough fact.
--James Cromwell, The Sum of All Fears (2002)

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TV Quote of the Week

You know how I always dread the whole year? Well, this time I’m only going to dread one day at a time.
--Chad Allen, Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Pop Song of the Week: "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury"

Eat your heart out, Britney.

P.S. A tip of the sombrero to the Flick Filosopher for introducing me to this tune.

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Movie Song of the Week: "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"

Heh. Marilyn who? You say Nicole Kidman did a number like this as well? You don't say...

But seriously, folks.

This week I post an brief excerpt from my favorite musical guilty pleasure of the last two years: the 2010 musical Burlesque -- a film ironically recommended to me by a female acquaintance. If nothing else, it's nice to see Christina Aguilera and Kristen Bell cast against type. And the other women in the number aren't exactly tough to look at either.

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Bienvenidos, 2012!

For a while there, I was beginning to wonder... and worse yet, my fellow ethnic half and half Cameron Diaz was starting to get annoyed. And when you wear a bathing suit in this weather, it doesn't take much to get you annoyed.

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