Don’t Let Stuff Bug You, Live Longer!

(thanks again, Sleaze-O-Rama!)
 

This is pretty common sense stuff, but we all need to be occasionally reminded that a bit of positive thinking will keep you alive a bit longer. According to a new study from the University of Illinois (along with a few of other studies like this one that show similar results). Yeah, yeah. I know some of you happen to people who like your gloomy outlooks, black roses floating in your bath water and droning music while you cook your dinner while smoking three cigarettes at once and drinking gin from the bottle. But think of living longer like this: You get to be around longer to spread your glum tidings and gain a few new followers. That is, should you be a part of any sort of social scene and actually care about that sort of thing. Anyway, cheer up and be glad you’re not hiding in a cave from hard to kill grabby giant wasps.

That said, you’ll probably get blind-sided by some stroller pushing super-mom on her cellphone right into the path of a bus, however. Stop wearing those sunglasses at night next time and maybe cut down to a pack a day so you can see outside the range of the cloud of smoke you’re usually hidden under. You may thank me later if you like. This has been a public service announcement.

Random Film of the Week(end): Nights of Cabiria

(thanks, TrailerItaliano!) 

Nights of Cabiria_MPThe first time I saw Nights of Cabiria, I was wide awake and it was the middle of the afternoon, but I was so wrapped up in watching Giulietta Masina’s spectacular performance that I’d stopped reading the subtitles and missed a chink of the story. Of course, this being a Fellini film, the visuals and expressive acting spelled out most of what happened and Masina’s work as a happy go lucky hooker with a head of stone and dreams of finding love kept me entranced until the ending.

I’ve seen the film quite a few times since and have introduced it to friends with no explanation because how do you properly describe a film about prostitutes that manages to be funny and sad and human all at the same time without getting wrapped up in someone’s “Uh, so… it’s a movie about what?” eyebrow. Granted, you can always take the easy way out and make it a double feature night with Fellini’s La Strada first, as like this film, it won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and has Giulietta Masina giving another performance for the ages. That SHOULD wipe away any smudgy thoughts about pedigree and content.

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Random Film of the Week(end): North By Northwest

(Thanks, moviegoof!) 

NBNW_MPOne of my favorite “perfect” films, North by Northwest is one of those films that stands the test of time thanks to everyone involved being at the top of their game and throwing themselves fully into their work. Everything clicks from the moment Bernard Herrmann’s famous score kicks off into that Saul Bass-designed title sequence (note the booming drums that out-roar Leo, the MGM lion) until the final nod and a wink sex joke the adults will snicker or laugh out loud over (while the kids wonder what they’re snickering or laughing or loud about about) closes things out. I’ve seen this countless times since the 80’s and it’s always entertained me to no end.

This is probably the best “wrong man” film made (yes, it’s even better than The Wrong Man) because it combines dramatic, comedic and action elements in Hitchcock’s inimitable style. Sure, there are some plot holes and silly stuff that don’t hold up to too much scrutiny if you’re the overly picky sort. But if this film doesn’t have you cracking a smile or hanging out near the edge of your seat by the time it’s through, you’re either too jaded or watch films with one or both eyes shut…

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Random Film of the Week: Lizzie

lizzie Released in the same year The Three Faces of Eve, 1957’s Lizzie covers the same thematic ground, albeit in a bit more unintentionally campy manner. Eleanor Parker plays Elizabeth and well as Beth and Lizzie, her two other personalities in this attempt at the “message” film sub-genre that Hollywood seemed to thrive on back then as writers and directors made more and more films with socially conscious and provocative subjects.

Although based on the novel The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson and ably directed by Hugo Hass (who also has a small part in the film), compared to Eve and Joanne Woodward’s more realistic (and Oscar-winning) performance it’s far from a perfect film, especially when viewed today. For me, it’s the same thing with Otto Preminger’s classic The Man With the Golden Arm where the bulk of its otherwise deadly serious subject matter can be mined for comic gold because of some pointed overkill that may have been “shocking” in the 1950’s, but awesomely funny today. Parker’s role in that film was also well acted, but as her Zosh made me chuckle and cringe there, Lizzie here gets me grinning every time she takes over poor Elizabeth and starts gnawing on the scenery (and some poor man) to great effect… Continue reading

Humor? So, Microsoft Says NOT To Stand That Xbox One On Its Side… Or Else.

XBOX_ONEGiven that the current model Xbox 360 can indeed be placed upright (although it can lead to disc scratching if the surface it’s placed on isn’t perfectly level and subject to being bumped into while playing a game or watching a DVD), it’s a given that some owners of the upcoming Xbox One will be looking to do the same with Microsoft’s new system.

However, according to this GameSpot UK article, a company representative says vertical orientation isn’t how the new console was designed. Of course, there will be a ton of hard-headed or space in that entertainment center challenged gamers who won’t follow the company’s “suggestions” at all or try out that standing position just once to “see if it works”, and you can never stop those folks from doing what they do.

On the other hand, I personally feel that there’s another, far sinister reason they don’t want you to stand that thing up… especially if you happen to do so and place that new, improved Kinect on the now top part of the system and power the thing on. To wit (actual test footage stolen from a Microsoft test facility):

(thanks, Donald Carten!)

Remember, you’ve been warned!

Random Film of the Week(end), Too: Abandon Ship! (Seven Waves Away)

(thanks, S250385!)

“Save as many as you can …”.

abandon shipI’ve been on a grand total of two cruise ships, plus a bunch of ferries and other boats raging in size from canoe to schooner, but after seeing Abandon Ship! (or Seven Waves Away if you’re in the UK), I’ll probably restrict my watercraft enjoyment to playing with toy boats in a bathtub filled with maybe five inches of water.

This 1957 British drama is probably one of the more depressing sea disaster films I’ve ever seen. Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, this harrowing tale gets off to a start as a luxury ocean liner, The Crescent Star hits a stray World War II mine that sinks the ship, killing most of its passengers and crew. There only time for a single lifeboat to launch before the ship goes down and that lifeboat can only fit nine people. Unfortunately (or even MORE unfortunately), twenty seven people end up in and around that lifeboat and soon, you’ll feel as if you’re in that boat with the doomed, the dying and the soon to be dead.

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Random Art: Killer Tree to Get A Makeover? Probably (It May Take a While, Though)…

I Want to Live Eh, I’ll need to do this piece over one day and probably as a normal drawing rather than a digital one. I just had the thought as I was looking at it a day ago that I needed to find a copy of From Hell it Came out in the wild on DVD just so I have my stiff wooden tree suit muse thing down pat.

What, you’ve NEVER seen From Hell it Came? Shame, shame, shame! Hell, it’s an awesomely cheesy but surprisingly watchable classic “B” horror flick from 1957. Yeah, yeah, yeah- it’s filled with quasi-Polynesian or whatever random exotic island stereotypes the producers want to make you think exist somewhere in the world, a sort of atomic radiation and voodoo-doodoo created monster and plenty of laughs I’m betting were unintended. I grew up with this one and cut it a LOT of slack because even as a kid it never scared me… but I think it may have started a healthy tree fetish.

Or maybe I’m just nice to them so if one ever does come to life, it’s not going to wobble down the street after me first… “Not ME! Get the guy with the poodle! The guy with the POODLE! Gyaaaaaah!

KRONOS: 1957’s Alien Planet Eater Makes For An Interesting Muse…

KRONOS WT

(thanks, ScienceFictionFLIX!) 

KRONOS posterAnother favorite sci-fi flick from my younger days (OK, it still holds up today on a few fronts), Kurt Neumann’s 1957 film KRONOS is a really well-made and fun cheapie that benefits from some prescient scripting, pretty decent effects work (some nice for the era animation of the titular massive alien energy accumulator in a few quick shots), a snappy running time and a few unintentional chuckles from the usual overacting cast members emoting with relish about the over-sized and unstoppable alien threat of the week. Anyway, back in 2011 I was dinking around in MS Paint and had a sudden flash of inspiration to do a goofy tribute image and here you go. I guess it’s technically a piece of “fan art” although I have to chuckle at the “fan” part as it’s not exactly something I do on a regular basis. Yeah, I guess this gets added to the Random Film of the Week pile at some point. Feel free to check it out, as yep – it comes highly recommended.

Random Film of the Week: The Incredible Shrinking Man

The Incredible Shrinking Man So, the great horror/sci-fi/fantasy/ author Richard Matheson passed away last Sunday and I’ll have to admit that I hadn’t thought much about him lately until a few months back when on of Jack Arnold’s best films popped up on TCM at an ungodly hour and I sat glued to the TV once more with a fine bit of top shelf “B” movie bliss . I hadn’t seen The Incredible Shrinking Man in a few years, so I was glad to stop the clock on the work I was doing and spend a little time catching up with a few old friends.

Matheson and an uncredited Richard Alan Simmons wrote the film (from Matheson’s own novel The Shrinking Man) and unlike a lot of 50’s sci-fi featuring gigantic radioactive mutated versions of normal creatures, it’s lead character Robert Scott Carey (a great performance by Grant Williams) who gets scaled down in size after his radiation exposure. I recall the novel was even darker in tone and had some scenes that certainly wouldn’t fly past the censors of the era, but I’ll let the readers in the crowd find all that out on their own time.

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Random Film of the Day*: 20 Million Miles to Earth

*For the next week or so plus, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away on May 7 at age 92 in London and yes, the film world owes him more than they can ever repay.

20000000_MilesWhile it has some great creature and scenic effects, some terrifically lousy acting and ridiculous dialog plus a few plot elements nearly sink 20,000,000 Miles to Earth like the doomed spacecraft that brings the Ymir into movie monster history.

That said, there are some iconic images in this 1957 sci-fi flick that linger in the memory, all masterfully animated by Harryhausen’s steady hands. His Ymir is at first “cute” and tiny, but as it increases in height and gets poked and pushed into an uncontrollable rage by a cast of idiots who misunderstand the poor creature until the army is called in to blow it off Rome’s Colosseum, you actually feel more sympathy for it by the time the film ends. Of course, if you just hate monsters in general, you’ll be cheering along with the fist-pumping crowd when the creature gets its due. But I’ll bet you a nickel that you’ll still think that Ymir was pretty damn cool…
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