Bill Paxton: It’s Hard To Forget The Guy You Saw In Everything


 

So, we’ve lost Bill Paxton too. Foo. Rather than run clips or comments of and about the well-known sci-fi/fantasy flicks he was a part of, I’ll just leave two viewing suggestions you may not have seen or maybe have seen but not in a while. Up top is One False Move, director Carl Franklin’s great, kind of 90’s noir about a trio of criminals who commit a series of murders in Los Angeles and escape to the tiny town of Star City, Arkansas. Paxton played the bored and too eager for action sheriff Dale “Hurricane” Dixon who gets more than he bargains for after LAPD detectives roll into town. The film also features Billy Bob Thornton (who co-wrote the story with Tom Epperson) in a key role as one of the killers. I won’t spoil more other than to say it’s a brilliant thriller with a few curve balls up its sleeve.


 

The second film is in my opinion, Sam Raimi’s most perfect movie, 1998’s A Simple Plan. Author Scott Smith adapted his great 1993 novel into the screenplay and we get Paxton and Thornton working together again as Hank and Jacob Mitchell, two brothers who along with a friend of Jacob’s (Brent Briscoe), discover a crashed plane with a dead pilot and over 4 million dollars in cash inside. Yes, the take the money. Hank being the smartest of the bunch keeps it safe, but things go deep south as greed, anger and a bit of murder follow the man and their ill-gotten sack of loot. Both films would make a nice double feature, but feel free to add the excellent, disturbing Paxton-directed thriller Frailty to that short stack (or tall stack if it’s a marathon):


 

Yeah, I said two films, I know. But I think Bill would have probably appreciated the gesture, this going off script stuff. So long, pal – you made the movies you were in a lot better for a good while and will continue to do so each time fans go back and discover or rediscover everything you were part of.

-GW

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All Things Must Past: A Towering Tribute on DVD

all things must pass
 

Remember when Tower Records was THE place to hit regularly for everything from the latest music, to movies, books, and even clothes? I sure do. If you’re nodding and wistfully smiling, well… good. This documentary set for a 9/13 release should be on your must-watch list, then. Take a peek at that clip below and sure, hit up the MVD Shop if you want to pre-purchase it.


 

National Toy Hall of Fame Inductees: Three Times the Fun!

Toy Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees

Image courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.

Before you even ask, yes, there is a National Toy Hall of Fame. It’s part of the National Museum of Play up in Rochester, NY and I’d say it’s a bucket list trip for anyone with even the slightest interest in any sort of toy or game from their childhood. Today the Museum inducted a trio of all-time classics into the Toy Hall of Fame and some of you are already grinning at that photo above. This year’s inductees made me laugh out loud because as soon as I heard the news this morning, I was hoping to heck that someone at the Museum would have made a cool diorama with a few squads of Army Men on some alien or other landscape (maybe Washington D.C.?) fighting off an “invasion” by a giant Rubik’s Cube with Bubbles floating in the shot to give it the look of some low-budget sci-fi flick.

StrongToyHall1110614_075

Courtesy of The Strong®, Rochester, New York

Hey, Mario Bava would have done it up right, I bet. That said, the Museum’s presentation was certainly creative and entertaining. Dancers from the Rochester City Ballet appeared in life-size Army Men outfits, there was a gigantic Rubik’s Cube mosaic (made up of 200 pounds of Rubik’s Cubes), and the Bubble Man himself, Doug Rougeux doing his amazing thing at the event. Okay, all that was MORE creative than my crummy diorama idea maybe two people would have gotten the joke about. What can I say other that I like obscure references only a handful of people would understand…

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Codemasters Gets Me Rally Longing For The Good Old Days…

I think someone at Codemasters is psychic. Last week, I broke out both Colin McRae Rally and Colin McRae Rally 2.0 just to dive in for a bit and see if they still held up today and yes indeed, they do. While the series went through some big changes as the series moved to new platforms, there was always a solid sense of fun and challenge that made each installment thrilling to blaze through. When the series changed its name to DiRT and its direction to a “cooler” racer in order to rope in younger fans of the X Games or other extreme sports, things definitely slid a bit sideways. The last few installments are all great looking games, but to me, there’s something missing… a certain spirit, if you will. Granted, Colin McRae is no longer with us, so that’s probably the missing element those later games haven’t been able to capture. Seeing that intro video above and playing the game for a little while made me hope Codemasters will go back to the drawing board and deliver a rally game that’s as fun and wickedly addictive as the first few in the series. Strip it down, but make it rich with detail, lose the big social focus (or make it completely optional) and maybe even bring back the goofy bonuses from the older titles just because it’s great to see a surprise ride or three after a ton of hard work.

Thank You, David Lynch For Making It Clear (Again)…

(Thanks, BrittneyGilbert!) 

So, I’m working on a long post about the demise of movie theaters in the area where I live because it just blows my mind to bits that something like fifteen to twenty or more cinemas around here are gone for what seems to be good and it’s a total joke that no one seems to care or mind. Granted, those people who don’t give a crap are a big part of the reason why theaters are vanishing from this part of NYC, but tell them that and they tend to get a bit more obnoxious than they would if you told them to shut off their damned cell phone BEFORE they even bought their tickets. Anyway, mini-rant over (although it’s not really a rant at all)… Back in a bit.

It’s Friday Night! Time To Get Dancing, People!

Well, you’re still here and I’m still busy. Hmmm… what to do, what to do? Ah, this should keep you entertained for a hot minute (take it away, Gene!):

Now, THAT’S what I call ACTUAL reality TV, folks! I do miss the late, great Chuck Barris and all his bizarrely awesome programming that more or less changed the landscape of entertainment telly as we know it (yeah, for better and worse). Yeah, I know loads of substances were involved in the making of these shows back then, but there’s a certain insane purity to this stuff that’s FAR more honest than anything claiming to be “real” on TV today. Go dig up some old clips of the man’s huge body of work and see for yourself, I say…

Omega Boost 1995/1996: A Work In Progress Before Some Big Changes…

Omega Boost Demo 0 OB_Cyber Head Logo OB_WIP Omega Boost Demo TS OB_HTP screen OB_HTP_SC2 OBS2 OBD_Cockpit View Omega Boost Demo 1

PC_Vol.2Well, now. That wasn’t hard or annoying after all except for two things. One quick download of an emulator, some fast configuring and popping in the demo disc I have here and boom – pictures of the first of three Omega Boost demos that appeared on Japanese PlayStation Club discs from 1996 to 1999. The game went through some major changes in those three years, but even as a 30% complete version in these shots it’s pretty darn interesting from a technical standpoint.

I believe the demo runs at 60 frames per second, it has three selectable viewpoints (first person/cockpit/third person), a full 360 degrees of freedom and is pretty fun overall for what it is. Granted, I took these screenshots at the library while dinking around on a keyboard because I didn’t bring a controller with me (oops) or else there would have been about 30 more images here. I also didn’t tinker with the visual settings on the emulator to make the game prettier because I like the look of many early PlayStation games.

Finally, I need to find out who made up Cyber Head, which seems to be the development team behind the first two builds. Based on some other games I’ve played, it seems that in the early days of PlayStation development, a few studios didn’t mind sharing talent to help each other out as the new hardware was being explored to see what it could really do. Hmmm… I smell a longer story here at some point. I wonder if there’s anyone still around from those days with some helpful info?

Hey, Polyphony Digital? Where’s That Omega Boost Remake/Sequel?

(thanks, Maya Rudolph!)

OB_JPSomewhere before and in between Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo II, members of Polyphony Digital (seemingly working under the name Cyber Head) worked on a little game called Omega Boost which was released for the PlayStation in Japan in April of 1999, the US that August and in Europe a month later. Japan got the awesome and hilarious TV ad above for the game (the US ad was amusing, but not as nuts as the Japanese one) and when the game arrived at the small indie game shop I worked at, it spent a decent amount of time in the store play stack. Back then, the game was impressive to me and many others right away thanks to the opening movie that still packs a punch:

(thanks, Cacophanus!)

Thankfully, other than the slightly unwise replacing of the Queen-style rocker that opens the import with some alternative tune that’s OK in terms of it’s title (“Fly” by Loudmouth) but lesser than the original theme music in terms of impact, the US version got the same explosive intro:

(thanks, vision2098!)

OB_NABy the way, note the “Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jean” autograph reference – I loved that tiny bit of fluff because it was a little detail only a film buff would latch on to right away and smile at. As far as the gameplay went, it was an arcade-style space shooter with 19 stages, some cool planetary and tunnel missions along with a number of intense boss battles and a ton of cool bonuses for the dedicated players out there. Some game critics unfairly compared it to Sega’s Panzer Dragoon games, which only made sense as a frame of reference if you were a PS owner who also happened to have a Sega Saturn in the house. There were some minor similarities, but Omega Boost was more a technical showcase for the PlayStation hardware than Panzer Dragoon ever was on the Saturn.

The game was actually in production as early as 1996 (or perhaps sooner), as a series of Japanese demos I have here shows the early work on the game back then was making for a very different-looking experience running at 60fps with simpler polygon visuals and a few more viewpoint choices. Oh, you want some videos of that for proof? Well you’ll need to come over if you want to see them, silly. I’d thought someone would have posted them on YouTube already, but nope and nope so far. Get on it collectors who never open your stuff, I say!

Oh, all right. One day I’ll get off my butt, dig out those PlayStation Club demo discs and have someone shoot footage of me playing them, but I just haven’t had the time to get onto that and some other projects. As usual, I digress. Anyway, the game wasn’t exactly a “blockbuster” in terms of sales or review scores, but it’s definitely one of those side projects where you could see the quality right from the beginning. Of course, with Polyphony so darn occupied with the vastly more popular Gran Turismo series of games, it’s hard to even think of a new OB rolling out from them any time soon. That’s not to say that is SHOULDN’T be done at all, folks. I’m just hoping that if there is a follow-up or remake, it gets the attention it should on a few fronts the original certainly didn’t.

Eh, perhaps I’ll bite the bullet, download a PlayStation emulator from somewhere and figure out how to record some gameplay. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, although I generally dislike using emulators over an actual console…

Mr. Peabody & Sherman Turkey Day Poster Stuffed Full Of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy…

mr_peabody_and_sherman_ver8Yeah, I’d be canning whomever thought up this poster like a bunch of cranberries, as my cartoon nostalgia sense tells me that this one will be dead on arrival after the first weekend at best. This turkey is planning to gobble up box office dollars while neglecting the fact that the original shorts worked perfectly because they clocked in at about five minutes and weren’t padded out with needless stuff that’s only going to appeal to folks who’ve never seen an episode of the Bullwinkle cartoons they came from. Ah well… I guess I should just shut the heck up and surrender, huh?

FINE. But not without a fight:

(thanks, bullwinklecanada!) 

When I saw the trailer for the new CG flick the first time, I didn’t laugh at all, and seeing it again recently made me more annoyed than ever. But whatever, right? It’ll be “fun” for the kids that don’t care at all about history and nostalgia, that’s for sure. On the other hand… when the adults in the theater are groaning at the end like the ones behind me who hadn’t seen the trailer until then, I’m gathering Dreamworks will be wishing for their very own time machine so they can go back and erase this project from their books. Yuk.

So Long, Lou Reed: A Walk on the Mild Side Brings Back Memories…

I made Lou Reed laugh once. A long time back (I think it was 1986 or 87, but my memory is a bit fuzzy), I ran into him downtown around St. Marks Place as I was walking to a friend’s place for a birthday party. I recall it was around sundown with fading light and he was coming out of a small shop I don’t recall the name of. As I stopped to nod in his general direction (what I usually did when encountering a celebrity type on the streets of NYC) a trio of Asian tourists (a guy and two women) recognized him and asked if he’d pose for a quick photo with them.

Since I was only about five or so feet away (and probably grinning like a nut on the loose from Bellevue), one of the tourists looked in my direction and smiling as if he’d won the biggest lottery ever, motioned me over pointing to his expensive camera and asked me to snap a shot or two. Of course, I jumped at the chance and three shots later (because I got my thumb in the way on the first picture), handed the camera back to the guy who now wanted ME to pose with Lou. I declined, as I’m not the “Lookit me with the star!” kind of guy (and back then I was a lot more camera shy than I am these days), but Lou was in a pretty good mood and said “Come on”, waving his hand up and forward… Continue reading