Loving The Alien: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

 

The best film directors are master manipulators who can magically transform an entire theater audience into a group of happy to sappy sapient lemmings or wide-eyed marionettes easily controlled from start to end credits. Their best films have the masses cheering the heroes, hissing at the bad ones, empathizing with the downtrodden and generally feeling whatever emotion a scene calls for. Yes, there are exceptions to this non-rule (too-likeable villains, swapping out all attempts at sympathy for more explosions and eyeball rolling plot twists you can see coming 20 minutes before they occur). But when you get right down to it, you know your cinematic needs are being taken care of when certain directors are at the helm.

Or, as an old friend once said:

(thanks, svofski!) 

In other words, this is a Spielberg film, folks.
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ALIEN: Covenant – The Crossing: Coda Blue


 

Well, well, well. This is very interesting indeed. For one, it’s excellently shot and edited, albeit about a minute too short for my tastes. “Too short?” you’re thinking? “It’s supposed to be a SHORT!” you say. Well, okay, it goes like this: although it’s the perfect bridge between Prometheus and the upcoming ALIEN: Covenant, it feels as if it’s absolutely popping up on the AC Blu-Ray as a bonus. But curious me wants to know if MORE was shot because I have questions.

What would be cool is if future disc, streamed and cable versions of Prometheus add this onto the ending as a post-credit sequence just to give that film a bit more oomph. It certainly needed a kicker that was better than the ending it got in the theatrical cut. That said, I wonder if this gets shown in the theater before the big-deal feature? That would work as well for those new viewers who haven’t seen the previous film and want a brief wrap-up appetizer befre the main course.

Anyway, I can predict the future! Well, sort of. As in I know that HBO very likely has dibs on the first-run cable rights to this one. Easy-peasy reasony squeezy is this not at all shocking video:


 

So, I guess that’s going to end up on a disc as well (mark my words, I guess). Hmmm, okay… back to work. I’m a bit behind in stuff thanks to more stuff and wanted to watch the original ALIEN at some point today. But that’s not going to happen, so I did the next best thing and dug out my ancient Kenner ALIEN Movie Viewer for a quick fix.


 

Yep, it still works fine, noisy cranking reel action and all. The film strip in the cassette is a bit scratchy, but this kid’s edit still packs a punch. I still can’t fathom that Kenner toy line, though. A film you’d never take a child to gets merch no one probably bought for the kids they were marketed to. Still wish I bough more than one of those hideously stiff but super-detailed ALIEN figures, though. Mine and its box got mangled by my younger brother when I wasn’t around for a few years, grrrr!

Back in a bit.

-GW

The ‘Invisible Director’: Jonathan Demme

(Thanks, IIIkidAIII!)
 

Many will mention the frightening, eternally brilliant The Silence of the Lambs today as the late Jonathan Demme‘s best film and yes, you’ll hear about Melvin and Howard, Something Wild, Married to the Mob, Philadelphia, or even Rachael Got Married as other strong entries in his career. While I love all of these dearly, 1984’s Stop Making Sense is probably going to be my go-to Demme flick when I need a fix. Go track down a copy even if you’re not a Talking Heads fan because it may make you one. I saw this probably a dozen times upon its initial release and can still recall packed screenings where the energy in the theater was so powerful, some people got up and danced during a few of the songs.

(Thanks, droehntanne!)
 

In thinking about his body of work, I’ve probably always seen Demme as an ‘invisible’ director because his best stuff looked almost effortless in that way the camera caught perfect, natural or unnatural moments where everything was where it needed to be. Re-watching all the Hannibal Lecter-related films a little while ago showed me that of all the directors who’d made films with the character, it was in Demme’s where he (as well as the other characters) seemed the most human (especially Hannibal… in the most twisted manner, of course). Naturally, that’s also a result of great actors doing their thing. But you can watch much of Demme’s work and see moments where you’re being addressed by a character as if you’re in the same space they inhabit. In addition to movies and TV work, Demme also directed a number of music documentaries about Neil Young that are worth tracking down. In terms of his other music video work, this New Order classic still gives me a charge after all these years, so I’m sharing it for those that may have never seen it:

(Thanks, Rhino!)
 

Back in a bit – this sort of post is a bit draining to write, but it seems it’s going to be a thing as time passes.

-GW

Tiny Bubbles: On Computers, Trailers, Cabbages, and Kings (Or Something Like That)

(Thanks, joanbeque!)

TRUTH. If you click off your computing device for long enough to get outside the bubble you’ve put yourselves in, de-stress for a spell AND stay away from your phone other than anything other than it’s initially Alexander Graham Bell’d purpose (just phone calls, folks!), you’ll probably become happier. At least temporarily. Granted, many people you don’t really know in real life but are your “online friends” will think you’ve died or have had an accident… but won’t check up on you because they’re busy with other stuff like catching up on their favorite reality shows and other important things.

Now, I’ve actually been in the midst of a few too many projects, had an eye allergy bug me for a bit and as of this writing have like 49 movies to catch up on (my movie watching partner tapped out thanks to personal issues I won’t discuss here because they’re Nunya Bizness… or mine, for that matter) and a bunch of half-scribed reviews and such piling up. Those will get done, latest Windows updates aside.

That particular nightmare first and foremost – Windows 10 is making me (and probably you) nuts.
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Goodbye, Mr. Warmth

(Thanks, paratrip!)
 

I don’t remember the first time I saw the late, great Don Rickles on TV, but if it was a comedic appearance, I laughed my ass off. I think it was one of his appearances on an episode of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast from 1974, but I think it may have been a few years earlier thanks to X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes airing on what I think was WPIX’ late, great Chiller Theater. Anyway, Don was the master of perfectly timed insults, the Prince of the Putdown, The Man You Went To See When You Needed To Be Taken Down A Few Notches And Wanted To Pay For The Privilege Of Being Insulted By The Best. Period. That sort of insult comedy was a great deal bigger back when Rickles was playing the circuit, when people were less triggered and more willing to laugh at themselves thanks to a man who could peg you with zingers, moving onto the next lucky or unlucky sap who dared to sit too close to the stage. Don made it work because you knew he was a total pussycat off stage, but once he got up to perform, all bets were off and if he singled you out, you’d better be prepared for the worst with an entire room full of people laughing at you.

(Thanks, ann turkel!)
 

Watching him in these old clips still makes me laugh loudly and that’s the best medicine for pretty much anything that ails you. I recall working for a guy many moons ago who was a bit of a stingy sourpuss, yet he paid good money to see Don live a few times around the country. Let me tell you, his mood was so much lighter after he returned that he was quite the nicest guy on the planet for a few days. I got a random raise once after one of his trips to see Rickles perform, apparently thanks to an ugly tie I’d given him as a birthday gift and a guy and his wife seated next to him who wanted to switch seats at the last minute. So I own an indirect thanks to the funnyman for getting me more money at one point in my life. Thanks, Don, er… Mr. Rickles. I’d probably not know what to say to the man if I ran into him at Patsy’s here in NYC, but I understand that he was pretty good with fans who approached him. Off stage, he was still a big prankster with his close friends, but treated regular folk just right.

(Thanks, KUSH Comedy!)
 

Now, you probably don’t need to buy both seasons of CPO Sharkey on DVD if you need a Rickles fix (although you should, as it was quite a hilariously wacky show for the era. My suggestion is to grab a copy of the 2007 documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project for a nice and hilarious look at the man at work. Yes, he also did a few dramatic performances and of course, younger folks will remember him as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies. I’ll stop here because I need some laughs, and Don would probably give me one of those looks and lay into me something fierce for trying to be too damn sentimental.

-GW

Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer: Re-suit Reboot Looks To Grab Loot

 


 

So, how are you doing, dear readers? Good? Good. Me? Meh, I’m doing okay. Anyway, I missed the first trailer to Spider-Man: Homecoming a few months back, so it’s above and the newer trailer that dropped yesterday is below. The big legal issues keeping Spidey out of Marvel’s bigger cinematic universe seem to be ironed out (at least for the foreseeable future), so say hello a second time to Tom Holland, whose portrayal of the character in Captain America: Civil War helped give that film some much-needed levity. Speaking of levity, how’s the kind of in-joke of Michael Keaton going from playing Birdman to another bird-man get you? I don’t think Oscar will come calling again for a superhero flick (despite what Logan has done in terms of critical response and yeah, yeah, Suicide Squad winning its hair/makeup award), but it’s also just fine by me that this reboot isn’t looking as cheesy as the last few attempts at making him a big deal were.


 

That said, my rules of engagement still apply: Unless I get invited to a premiere here in NYC, I’m holding out for the Blu-Ray version for those bonus features and any extended footage chopped out of the theatrical cut. I don’t think Marvel is quite as nefarious as DC in terms of this stuff, but I’m admittedly a few films behind in both cinematic universes.

-GW

Warner Archive’s 4 for $44 Sale Gets You Some Great Flicks Cheap


 

Ever have one on THOSE days where you need to go home and just chill out in front of the tube with some great “B”, classic or other fun movie? Well, Warner Archive has you covered if you act fast. Check out their 4 For $44 Sale on a whopping 2,176 Blu-Rays and DVD’s… and don’t be so darn surprised after you’ve spent well over $44. This is a great selection of stuff from Hollywood classics, foreign flicks and even a few old TV shows you maybe thought you’d never see again. Even better, FREE SHIPPING is on board for you if you’re in the U-S of A, whee!

Hey, at least you’ll have something better to do than hunker down in front of the bunker tube sucking down depressing news or hanging yourself on some social needy-a site eating peanut butter on hardtack with sardines from your doomsday stash while worrying yourself sick over what The Little Truck Driver is up to. Hey, that’s not what I’ve been up to, as I wouldn’t mix peanut butter and sardines if you paid me. I think I have a hardtack recipe here, though. Anyway, go buy some stuff because you know you’ve always wanted to make a fort out of DVD and Blu-Ray cases. All that goodness expires on March 26at 6am EST, so get clicking, folks!

-GW

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A PlayStation Store Flash Sale To Rule Them All, It Seems

Yep, this month’s Flash Sale is pretty awesome.

Got a PS4, PS3, Vita or PSP? Well, Sony’s got your numbers and wants your money, folks. Kindly please do click on that banner above, get thy wallet in hand and prepare to buy at least one game or film or TV program. Or all of them if you have that kind of money to buy, a ton of free space on a portable drive (now that they can be officially used with a PS4) and a load of time to spare.

There are some pretty hefty discounts, a small handful of PS4 games are cross-buy with the Vita and overall, there are some decent digital deals here that make a lot of these games worth the up to 80% you’ll be saving. You’re welcome and sure, feel free to note if you take advantage of these deals over the weekend. – I’m going to pick up The Magic Circle- Gold Edition just because it looks pretty darn unique… and I like pretty darn unique.


 

-GW

Film Review: Donald Cried

donald_cried

Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen. ― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Well, sometimes reverent listening isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you go home and find things not only unchanged, but unhinged. Kris Avedisian’s excellent Donald Cried is a great, gloriously uncomfortable can’t-miss classic, a bleak comedy (it’s not for the kids!) with a sentimental side that will get under your skin if you identify with any of the characters portrayed here. Even if you don’t, you’ll be laughing one moment and reflecting the next. A sort of love child of Chuck and Buck, The Odd Couple and Curb Your Enthusiasm, the film serves up a perfect trip to hell for its poor protagonist, Peter Latang (Jesse Wakeman) after he heads up to Rhode Island to take care of his late grandmother’s affairs. Continue reading

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