Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GAR! on Twitter

Don't call it a comeback, we've been here for years...

After over one hundred and seventy episodes, five long years, and multiple nervous breakdowns, we have finally broken down and started our own Twitter account for The GAR! Podcast. Sure, Ray and I will continue to promote and discuss GAR! on our own separate Twitters, but now we have a dedicated stream for the podcast right here.

For those unaware, The GAR! Podcast is the Glenn Walker and Ray Cornwall weekly podcast where they talk unrehearsed about whatever happens to come to mind. It’s an audio-zine for your mind, a nerd exploration of a nerd world, coming to you from the suburbs of New Jersey and the sunny lakes of Florida via Skype.

GAR! is also available on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. We're also on Facebook here and here, and on Pinterest. Contact us directly here.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

RIP Jerry Lewis

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry Lewis earlier today. Not just a Hollywood legend, but an award-winning actor, writer, director, producer, author, philanthropist, and film innovator. He was the whole package, and he will be missed.

My first memories of Jerry Lewis were of someone who was just there, a Hollywood legend as I said, who would sometimes pop up on talk shows and variety shows. I remember having him pointed out by my brother when he made his cameo in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, but I never really got a good look at the man until I started watching his Labor Day telethons for muscular dystrophy(which he did for over four decades), there I saw what kind of man he was and how respected and gracious he was. The telethons were always big ratings blockbusters, so when a rival local channel started running Jerry Lewis movies opposite it one weekend, that's when I really saw what he was about.

My eyes were opened that weekend with Way… Way Out, Hook, Line, & Sinker, Who's Minding the Store?, The Ladies Man (a tour de force in which he not only starred, wrote, produced, and directed, but innovated new cinematography that still boggle the mind), and a film that remains a favorite, in my top ten of all time even, Boeing Boeing. I wonder if WCAU Channel 10 knows that in the name of money they introduced me and probably hundreds of others to the genius of Jerry Lewis that weekend.

As the years went by, I would appreciate his work more and more. While I never found him very funny in his original incarnation as half of Martin and Lewis with Dean Martin, I loved his other films as I discovered them on television, and later when I managed a video store. Other favorites include The Big Mouth, The Bellboy, Cinderfella, and The King of Comedy. Perhaps now, we might also finally see a complete version of the infamous The Day the Clown Cried, a film about a clown in the Nazi concentration camps, that while controversial, Lewis locked away because he felt it was not his best work.

Although he has proven himself difficult and a perfectionist in the field, Lewis' genius behind the camera remains, and his films are a legacy to that. There's an old joke that he was a genius in France, but let's face facts, in this, the French are not wrong. He changed, and improved how Hollywood makes films, and how we see them.

Jerry Lewis was one of the greats, and I was glad to have seen him one last time while he was alive on the most recent TCM Classic Cruise when he introduced and fielded questions about The Nutty Professor. He was a legend of stage, screen, and radio, and will be missed by all, whether they liked him or not.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Glen Campbell 1936-2017

I was sad to hear of Glen Campbell's passing earlier today, as I've always felt a weird kinship to the man. When I was but a wee one, the family would watch his television variety show, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," and when I was learning to read and spell, his name was an example of 'the wrong way' to spell my name.

I grew up with Glen Campbell, his songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman" were AM radio staples just "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights" were the same on FM when I discovered that bandwidth. His role as Texas Ranger Le Bouef in the original True Grit was one of the things that made the flick one of my favorite movies.

As I grew older, his participation with the Beach Boys and studio work as one of the Wrecking Crew were more than impressive. He was way more than a country guy my parents liked and a movie cowboy. Much later I was struck by the tragedy of his living with Alzheimer's in the documentary I'll Be Me.

Those not familiar with the man's work should seek out three of his final albums - Adios, Ghost on the Canvas, and Meet Glen Campbell, an album of covers with guest-stars, all proof positive he was vital and vibrant toward the end, even fighting that horrible disease. May he rest in peace.





Friday, August 04, 2017

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

I remember when the original show of "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" aired, not the first episode, but the preview for NBC's new Saturday morning line-up the Friday night before it officially debuted.  I don't just miss Saturday morning kids TV, but also those preview specials, both for the kids shows and the prime time line-ups as well.  I watched the preview and I watched the first episode the next morning, along with the first version of "Super Friends" and the animated "Star Trek."

And yeah, I watched Sigmund regularly, probably mostly because everyone else did - it was popular.  Comics were twenty cents a piece, you could ride your banana seat bike just about everywhere, and "Delta Dawn" and "Brother Louie" were on the AM radio all day, why not watch Sigmund?  It was wild and vivid (I can't say colorful, we didn't have a color TV yet), and even though we weren't old enough to know about drugs yet, we knew the guys who came up with this stuff were a bit out of their heads. 

The premise of the show, developed by Sid and Marty Krofft, the then-kings of live-action Saturday morning, who swear no drugs were involved in any of their shows, was that two boys had found a sea monster at the beach and kept him in their clubhouse, hilarity ensues.  In the title role was Billy Barty in a leafy seaweed covered rubber suit, supported by Johnny and Scott, having misadventures running from Sigmund's family while the boys kept him a secret from their domineering housekeeper (the parents never seemed to be around). 

Beyond its popularity, I might have also watched because of lead actor Johnny Whittaker.  As Jody on "Family Affair," he was a kid of roughly the same age growing up just like us.  The show had its moments, especially in the all the puns of the sea monster world.  They watched shellavision, and Sigmund's father was a bit of an Archie Bunker type, good fun. 

The show had its flaws as well in the boys' absentee parents, the weird genie character Rip Taylor played in the last season, and Johnny Whittaker trying start a singing career.  I guess he thought if the Patridges and the Bradys could do it, so could he.  The show lasted three seasons then fell into the obscurity of syndication. 

Sigmund lives on in the memories of those who watched however, my wife among them.  The Bride is a huge Sid and Marty Krofft fan.  We own all of their varied TV projects, on VHS, and DVD.  I know hardcore.  The popularity beyond the 1970s and Saturday morning are probably what spurred Amazon to produce a reboot.  The first episode is available now, with more to come. 

The new series has essentially the same premise.  The kids have a Disney channel vibe, David Arquette plays a creepy sea captain who believes in sea monsters, and the monsters themselves have been given a bit of an upgrade, slightly.  Let's face it they still look like rubber suits, but with a bit more life and more abilities.  Johnny Whittaker, looking every bit of four decades wear, even makes a cameo.  And to be honest, Arquette's not looking so great either. 

Like the original, it's not bad, and it's probably doing just what Amazon hoped it would - be great for fans of the 1970s version who are now sharing it with another generation.  Even The Bride didn't mind it, wanting to see another episode before giving a final opinion.  I kinda dug it.  What did you all think who've seen it? 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Show People

Show People ~ While for most folks who know the name, Marion Davies is the notorious mistress of William Randolph Hearst, but for me I also know her as a great silent comedic actress.  She had her flops, yes, and infamous critical failures, and was always overshadowed by her personal life, but I could watch her forever in films like Show People

Released a year after the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, this 'silent' movie has a synchronized score with music and sound effects while much of the dialogue is carded the story is told principally in visuals.  This was the end of the silent era, and Show People thoughtfully used the best of both worlds. 

Davies plays Peggy Pepper, a young Georgia girl who wants to be a movie star, so her father drives her across the country to Hollywood.  She starts her career in slapstick comedy, moving up to higher class dramas, before returning to her first love with seltzer bottles and pies to the face.  Sadly it mirrors Marion Davies' own life to a point, while she was forced into serious roles, she loved the sillier ones. 

Her hand is well visible here as she was a co-producer along with director King Vidor.  The flick is a great time capsule of Hollywood of the time and features many cameos by stars like Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, Louella Parsons, and even Davies herself playing herself. 

Marion Davies is a delight here, vivacious and funny, has great chemistry with comic William Haines and her other co-stars.  She's having fun, and so are we.  So much to love about this flick, check it out, recommended. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The New Coke Zero

Coca-Cola announced last week that it would be discontinuing Coke Zero, and replacing it with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.  This might not sound like a big deal, but it could be, depending on what this new version actually tastes like. 

Last year I was diagnosed with diabetes, so this guy who basically lived on Coca-Cola had to make some changes.  I cut down considerably, quit completely for several months, then looked for alternatives.  I have always hated diet soda and still do, so I had turned to Coke Zero.  I couldn't stand that either, as it was even more bitter to my tastebuds than the diet variations.

There were tricks I learned however.  Let the ice melt a bit so the water diluted it.  Putting a piece of red licorice in the bottle would sweeten and fight the bitter.  For the most part however I watched my sugar, leaned toward cleaner sodas, and kept real Coca-Cola as an occasional treat. 

But that's me.  The concern in the corporate level seems to be that folks were never actually sure what Coke Zero was.  One could assume, as I did, with the black packaging and the bitter taste, it might even be some carbonated coffee variation on Coke.  It wasn't.  But it also wasn't clicking well in US markets in the last decade or so.

The replacement, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which has been very successful in markets elsewhere in the world, is said to be closer in taste to original formula Coca-Cola, and as the name implies, with zero sugar.  Clarity in the product name was also on the company's agenda, so that's a plus. 

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, packaged in black but with considerably more red, will be coming to the States in August, so we'll see how much it tastes as hyped then.  In the meantime, if you are a fan of Coke Zero, you'd better stock up, because the plug has been pulled.  Drink up. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Podcasting This Week

Here's a quick update, I have three new podcast episodes available this week that I want folks to be aware of.

First up is The GAR! Podcast, co-hosted with friend and partner Ray Cornwall. The GAR! Podcast is the Glenn Walker and Ray Cornwall weekly podcast where they talk unrehearsed about whatever happens to come to mind. It’s an audio-zine for your mind, a nerd exploration of a nerd world, coming to you from the suburbs of New Jersey and the sunny lakes of Florida via Skype.

In the latest episode, Prince Underground, we discuss our favorite performer, the late Prince, Purple Rain Deluxe, The Revolution, Susan Rogers, fandom, bootlegs, the Prince estate, The Black Album, drugs, baseball umbrellas, high price paraphernalia, listener feedback, Keith Pollard and Ron Wilson, and AI Alexa.



Then there's The Make Mine Magic Podcast, which I co-host with The Bride. The Make Mine Magic Podcast features Jenn and Glenn Walker talking about Disney, parks, movies, travel advice, characters, Marvel, Star Wars, Studio Ghibli, etc., if it’s Disney, it’s fair game.

This week’s episode includes discussion of "The Lion Guard," including the show, the characters, the origins, the actors, the music, crocodiles, zuka zama, lion super powers, Return of the Roar, "It’s Unbungalievable," the circle of life, and being a kid again. You can hear it right here.

Finally, there is the Nerdfect Strangers podcast that I co-host with partners Bobby Fisher and Jerry Whitworth Nerdfect Strangers is hosted by Bobby Fisher, who started it in August 2014 with original co-host and all-around nice guy/rock star, Jonathan Rodriguez. Since March 2015 the show has been hosted by Bobby and cool comics blogger, Jerry Whitworth, and, as of September 2015, Glenn Walker, who is also a real class act. We talk about all things nerdy and geeky including but not limited to: comics, wrestling, video games, nerd news, movies and TV.

In the latest episode, Exploding Windup Penguins, we talk about some of the San Diego Comic Con news, Glenn's distaste for blue M&Ms, and that snake, Randy "Macho Man" Savage turning heel and joining the dastardly NOW. We also talk about the disaster that was the main event of WWE Great Balls of Fire, and promote Noah Houlihan's Game the Gamer Kickstarter.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

RIP June Foray

After a sad and morbidly misleading fake death by internet rumor, June Foray, voice actress extraordinaire, has passed away for real, last night, at the amazing age of 99. A voice from my childhood is gone.

Having grown up with the Warner Bros cartoons, my early Saturday mornings built around them, the loss of June Foray is a major blow to my childhood. Even back in the day, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, everyone knew that Mel Blanc was the wonder voice behind all those cartoon characters, but then, even I was canny enough to realize that there were some female voices (Granny, Witch Hazel, and others) that couldn't possibly be Blanc. Asking adults, I learned that this was June Foray. The late Chuck Jones has been quoted as saying that June wasn't the female Mel Blanc, but Mel was the male June Foray. She was that good.

More than the Looney Tunes, the cartoon that really brings June Foray to mind for me is the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." In this series, Foray was the voice of not only Rocky the Flying Squirrel, but also Natasha, Dudley Do-Right's romantic interest Nell, and a number of voices in Fractured Fairy Tales. I remember vividly Sunday mornings with my big brother, pancakes, and Bullwinkle and Rocky, and June Foray.

Over the years Foray did voices in a variety of projects, including "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and "Horton Hears a Who," to name just a few. She worked in radio, television, film, even videogames, and did voice work for nearly all the animation companies and franchises. We have lost a legend, June Foray will be missed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Not My President, Again

Not My President, again. You know, I really really wanted to post my Spider-Man: Homecoming review today, or talk about the cool Valerian or Captain Canuck animations I found online, or even the new Coke Zero, but then something happened that simply enraged me. You guessed it, it has to do with the Orange Hobgoblin.

The monster Trump, who cannot be stopped from Tweeting just as a liar cannot stop lying, Tweeted some horrific stuff this morning. And as many in the media fear, his Tweets are soon to become policy. His target this morning was the transgender community, despite his Tweets before the election (which he still whines about winning, eight months later) that indicated he would support the LGBTQ community and fight for them.

His Tweets this morning indicate 'a military decision' despite 15,000 transgender individuals already serving in the US military, and calls them a burden. That doesn't sound like supporting or fighting for them, that sounds like targeting them and discriminating against them. And while this stinks of a diversionary tactic to steal focus from the Russian investigations, and discord within his administration and even his own family, he's still doing it, and it's very real.

Already former allies are turning against Trump, like Caitlyn Jenner, and transgendered soldiers are speaking up as well, like Navy SEAL hero Kristin Beck. Questions at a White House Press Conference earlier today were casually deflected as if unimportant, like will the transgendered currently in the military be pulled from their positions, their jobs, their combat operations. There is no plan, only Trump's discrimination, betrayal, and Tweets.

Later, Trump addressed the American Legion Boys Nation and Auxiliary Girls Nation at the White House. He spoke of loyalty, something he betrayed some Americans earlier, and while he didn't tell any salacious stories as he did yesterday with the Boy Scouts, he did tell the children they should pursue their dreams, and all I could think was as long as they're not transgender and want to serve their country. I imagined transgender children in that audience crying silently.

At the end of his speech a reporter yelled out a question about Trump's policy on transgenders in the military, to which he called her "rude." A chill ran down my spine as he spurred the children to start chanting "USA USA." Surely I'm not the only one who wondered about the youth there and what they would be like as adults. I also wondered what happened to the 'rude' reporter. Was she roughly escorted out like the dissenters verbally threatened at his election rallies? I can only fear that today's 'rude' is tomorrow's criminal. Freedom of speech? What's that?

Back on topic, to a point. My friends in the LGBQT community are among the bravest and strongest people I know, and if they want to serve in the military, they should be able to. Strength is important for that gig. I don't have it. Those targeted today do.

For most of the first two decades of my life I was bullied, from roughly fourth grade right through to senior year, and for most of that time the epithet of choice was 'faggot.' I'm not gay, but it didn't stop the constant verbal abuse, getting beaten up almost every day, and whenever I hear someone say that anything other than heterosexuality is a lifestyle choice, I get angry. No one would choose that. I still have emotional and physical scars to prove it. And it comes back to strength. To be LGBTQ and out is the bravest choice of all, and only the strong can do it, and there is no one else I'd rather have defending me and my country.

Now we have a bully president, just like the monsters I encountered in school, and he has to be stopped. Today he stabbed his transgender supporters in the back, will you be next?

Please join and/or donate to ACLU, vote, or register to vote if you haven't already, support People for the American Way, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, and Public Television.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Quickies 7-25-2017

Zoolander 2 ~ I hated Zoolander or at least I remember hating Zoolander.  Now I think I might want to give it a serious re-watch.  My mind on the subject has been changed.  Seeing the sequel, Zoolander 2, I understood what was being gone for. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the stupidity. While before I thought I was looking at a bad "Saturday Night Live" sketch that had gone on far too long, this time, I got the camp, and I saw the superhero parallels, at least in the sequel, and kinda loved it. And if nothing else, the opening gave me new respect for Justin Bieber, and that's saying a lot.

The BFG ~ This film adaptation of a Roald Dahl story is fun, but not as interesting as his other stuff, until they get to the giant meeting the Queen of England, and then it's great. Great fantasy that becomes great funny on a Monty Python scale. The kids will like it more than you will, but they won't get half the jokes. Fun for a rental.

The Wedding Planner ~ One of the terrible things about being in the hospital is that you will watch anything, because sometimes you either can't move or can't find the TV remote to change the channel. When this simple rom-com came on one night, I thought I was in for two hours of hell, but it wasn't half-bad. Predictable from start to finish, but I have to say I quite enjoyed this one… or maybe the IV was just full of good drugs.

Frankenhooker ~ I loved this movie when it first came out, thought it was hilarious, and bought the videotape when it came out. When I worked in a video store, I would push the button on the movie box when I walked by, and it would say, "Wanna date?" and "Got any money?" Hilarious. I saw it recently, the story of a deranged young man who brings his girlfriend back to life using body parts from dead chopped up prostitutes, and I'm sad to say – either I've grown up, or it doesn't hold up at all. I still think the talking box is funny though.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ~ I have been waiting for this flick since my brother-in-law hipped me to it several months back.  We're both, as are millions of others, fans of another Luc Bessom film, The Fifth Element, a movie which thematically and visually Valerian resembles.  Based on that, we were psyched, as well we should have been.  This is a stunning film, with two major problems that spoiled it for me.  Still, by all means, you should see this movie.  It's a popcorn blockbuster and a treat for the eyes, and yes, 3-D is recommended if available, I don't say this often, but it’s worth it.

Based on the French/Belgian comic series Valerian and Laureline, and therein lies one of my problems with this flick.  There are two lead protagonists in this film, and yet only the male one gets title billing.  Laureline is just as much a lead and a hero, in some cases a better hero than Valerian, and yet, where is her name in the title?  Besson, and whoever else might be responsible, should have kept to the source material on this one point. 

What aggravates this seemingly small point is that this is Luc Besson, a man who in previous films like Lucy, The Messenger, La Femme Nikita, The Professional, Kiss of the Dragon, and especially The Fifth Element, has presented strong female protagonists in empowered roles. Laureline is still a strong female protagonist, yet relegated to a back seat and no billing in the movie version of the comic in which she at least gets second. Disappointing.

The other problem I have with Valerian is the actor in the titular lead role of this flick, Dane DeHaan.  He is at best a Reggie in a movie that requires an Archie.  And anyone who has seen him in Chronicle or the painful The Amazing Spider-Man 2, knows that his mischievous eyes and sneering grin are far more applicable to villainous roles than heroic.  Often here he comes off as disingenuous or hiding something.  It's just in his face and his manner - I was never able to fully trust him as the hero.  Couple this with the character's less than stellar romantic streak, and he's definitely not your usual white hat. 

And while DeHaan tries earnestly to be the hero he was cast as, Cara Delevingne pulls it off easily as Laureline, despite her previous roles.  She was in the critically acclaimed Paper Towns, and also recently and more notably played the creepy Enchantress from Suicide Squad - or was she just Junie Moon, I forget, either way, both roles were creepy.  And yet, I believe her more as the hero that DeHaan should have been. Also in the mix are Herbie Hancock, Ethan Hawke, and Rihanna shining as a shapeshifting pole dancer.

Don't get me wrong and bunch me in with the other critics who inexplicably didn't like this flick, because I loved it despite the problems I had with it. Valerian is fast-paced, exciting, fun, and visually stunning. The aliens are a spectacular special effects triumph blending Besson's Fifth Element sensibilities with Avatar caliber realism. The story of two federal agents in the future uncovering the mystery of a lost civilization in the future is as refreshing as it is simplistic, and highly watchable.

I had problems, yes, but they didn't affect the wonder and amazement I felt watching this movie. This is top of the line science fiction adventure, and if I'm being honest, I wish recent Star Wars flicks had a bit more of this and were less powered by nostalgia. Valerian is a great flick, recommended.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mist

Of late, the work of Stephen King has had a size problem.  The Dark Tower, much anticipated and based on a multi-book series of thousands of pages is being squeezed into a 95-minute film next month.  As bad as that sounds, I'll be the first to admit that it looks very cool and very promising.  And then there's The Mist, one of King's shortest novels or longest short stories (depending on the format in which you originally read it), now a ten-hour mini-series.

"The Mist" premiered on Spike several weeks back, vaguely based on King's novella, if only in concept.  The town is still Bridgeton, there's still a mysterious mist with monstrous creatures within, a mall fills in for the supermarket, and there are still two military suicides from Arrowhead, and a religious zealot old lady doomsayer.  The rest is different. 

New characters, new situations, new interactions, same paranoia, but with an updated sensibility.  The original story is nearly forty years old after all.  The new situations are very CW and pedestrian when all you really want are the monsters in the mist.  I suppose the soap is needed to stretch it into ten hours though. 

Frances Conroy, best known for "Six Feet Under" and "American Horror Story," is the stand out here as the old hippie whose belief in God is shattered by the mist.  Alyssa Sutherland, the supermodel who played one of my favorite characters in "Vikings," Princess Aslaug, sadly proves to be an acting black hole in this contemporary suburban environment. 

The quality and suspense varies from episode to episode.  Now at the mid-point, it has slowed to a crawl.  It does have its moments though.  This series might be better viewed as a binge with your finger on the fast forward button.  Or just read the story and skip the series. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

RIP Chester Bennington

I had just come out of a movie with my phone off. It's amazing how much one can miss in a mere two hours. I'm not pardoning people who use their cellphones in movies, no way, I think those folks should be jailed, but I'm just saying that sometimes it is stunning how the world can change in two hours. In the two hours today, the news broke that Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of Linkin Park, had taken his own life. As I sat in the car, having just turned my phone on, I was devastated.

I had only just been listening to the band a day or so ago. Linkin Park is one of those acts who may fade from one's memory, but all it takes is a few seconds of any song, and one remembers and realizes what an amazing construct they are. I had heard just a clip of "In the End" the other day, and was soon listening to Hybrid Theory on my laptop on continuous for a bit. They were amazing.

I am old, waaay old, but the emergence of Linkin Park reenergized me in a way that is hard to describe. I've mentioned it here before, but in high school I was the kid who always carried a radio around with me, I was always on top of what was new and 'cool' in music. I had made a promise to myself way back when, that if I got old, I would never lose that. Ah, to be young and naïve.

Sometime in the 1990s however, I did get old, and my interest in new music waned. I figured, oh well, it came with the thinning hair and the crow's feet, just deal with it. Then came a music channel called MTVX. I immediately gravitated toward it, and in its heavy hard rock rotation I found new bands that I connected with - like Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Korn, System of a Down, Disturbed, and Linkin Park.

For someone like me who had always liked the hard rock aspects of some rap, Linkin Park's blending of metal with hip hop was a dream come true. I became a big fan. Chester Bennington's melodic howls and lead vocals contrasted with Mike Shinoda's crisp casual raps over a metal tapestry of sound. Yeah, I dug these guys. "Faint," "In the End," and "Bleed It Out" remain my all-time favorites.

Over the years Chester has also worked on side projects such as fronting Dead by Sunrise, and attempting to fill the late Scott Weiland's shoes in Stone Temple Pilots for a couple years, and left shortly before Weiland himself passed. Chester apparently died by his own hand, hanging himself, but details are still forthcoming. He was only 41.





Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spellbound

Spellbound ~ This one is a failing for me in many areas of my film watching and commentary career.  First and foremost, I've never seen Spellbound.  I know, for shame, a Hitchcock flick I've never seen, especially with the reputation this one has, and that legendary dream sequence designed by the great Salvador Dali.  To make matters worse, I've also never seen Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, mostly because I wanted to see Spellbound first. 

Wait, did you catch that vibe? If you know your Hitch, you definitely did. The above is the original opening I wrote for this review two years back, when I thought Spellbound was Vertigo - yeah, I know, I'm an idiot. I was confused, thought this movie was Vertigo not Spellbound, and therefore multiplied my disappointment. I know now, Vertigo is brilliant, Spellbound not so much. Back to my original review…

Hopefully, seeing Spellbound in a big beautiful old fashioned movie palace like the Walt Disney Theatre on the TCM Classic Cruise will make up for the long wait in viewing this one.  Seriously, it's the only way to see any film, classic or not.  And as I settled in to watch on an early Wednesday morning on board, the theater was packed, and a live introduction by the late Robert Osborne didn't hurt either. 

The story revolves around psychoanalysis, which at the time was new, but now is a bit old hat, if now completely outdated. That's where my suspension of disbelief fails. I just didn't buy the premise, and while the story doesn't hold together, and the performances are less than stellar, I did respect the direction and cinematography. Hitch has mad skills even in his least work.

All that said, obviously I didn't really dig the flick.  I realize it's a product of its time, but the sexism and clinical aspects of psychotherapy really angered and simultaneously bored me.  Besides that, I also didn't think this was Ingrid Bergman at her best, and this very young Gregory Peck didn't seem to have his chops yet.  Bill Goodwin (best known from Burns and Allen) as the hotel detective was one of the few bright spots for me.  Things livened up when he was on screen. 

And then there was that dream sequence.  I would have dug more of that but producer David Zanuck cut it from twenty-two minutes to two with narrative.  Knowing that before seeing it, and also knowing the full cut wasn't included, was a bit of a letdown within a film that was already a bit of a letdown.

Perhaps someday I sit down and try to watch this one again, give it a second chance. I just couldn't really get into it, and if I couldn't get into it in the best of all circumstances to see such a film, I don't hold out for much hope. I guess I just didn't like it. Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The New Doctor

The announcement has been made, the shots have been fired, and finally after two days, one might hope the smoke has cleared. The new Doctor, who we will not see officially until Christmas evening, several months away, will be a woman. The new Doctor Who (if that is, indeed, his/her name, hmmm, I wonder if The Doctor will need to choose new pronouns…) will be played by Jodie Whittaker.

Now, first things first, the fact that The Doctor will be a woman doesn't bother me one bit. It's been known in fandom circles for decades that Time Lords/Ladies can change gender, race, even species, when they regenerate. Such a gender switch was verified as canon on the television series itself in the episode "Hell Bent" as a white male Time Lord regenerated into a black female Time Lady. Since then, we have seen, and loved, Michelle Gomez as missy, the female regeneration of The Master. It happens, it's canon, and that's how it's going to be.

If anything, my disappointment in the choice of new Doctor was more about it not being Hayley Atwill ("Agent Carter") or Kris Marshall (Love, Actually) than it being a woman. My only doubt is in the fact I have never seen Jodie Whittaker's work, so I'm not even sure what kind of Doctor she'll be - but then again, finding out is half the fun with any new Doctor. I just hope she'll have good stories. Bad stories can ruin even the best Doctors, as in the cases of both Sylvester McCoy and Peter Capaldi, in my opinion.

And now a word about fandom, and this is where it will get ugly. There have been a few distinct factions at war on social media regarding the announcement of the new "Doctor Who" as a woman. There are those true fans of the show who know it is canon, and know it has been hinted at and telegraphed over the span of seasons that eventually The Doctor would regenerate into a woman, and they were cool with it - granted, hesitant as they would be with any new Doctor, but not over gender.

Then there were those who were only casual fans or who only knew the show by reputation and had no idea how regeneration works, let alone what it is. Typically these folks probably voted for Brexit or Trump and wouldn't know a TARDIS from a police box. They were outraged that another male icon was being stolen from them. They were also typically the same folks who spell it 'Dr. Who' as opposed to 'Doctor Who.' For the record, this is Dr. Who, and this is Doctor Who, get it right. Not true Whovians and not worth my time.

Also not worth my time are the folks who have never seen the program and yet still have an opinion. You know what you can do with your opinion. If you don't watch, you don't get one. Just my opinion. And this includes all those folks trying to use the idea of an iconic male role becoming female for your own agendas. You don't get to do that if you know nothing about the mythos.

I welcome Jodie Whittaker to the Who family, and cannot wait for her adventures to begin. I think she's going to rock.