The Pen Continues and Banshee is Totally Cool!

How many of you have watched “Banshee” on Cinemax? If you haven’t you are missing the only show on TV that doesn’t try to force political views down one’s throat, doesn’t force any agendas whatsoever and it definitely doesn’t preach to any side of the moral spectrum. Why? Because nobody is innocent in that town–except a few kids.

You have many characters who have either lost their way–or they deliberately went off on a certain path to escape from someone or something…Take Ana/Carrie Hopewell and Sheriff Hood…Fifteen years prior, she left home, got a new identity and began a new “soccer mom” lifestyle. Prior she was the daughter of a Ukrainian gangster and very involved in her father’s organization.  Evidently when she got pregnant she wanted more than that life for her own child. Who can blame her for running away?

Then there is Sugar, played by Frankie Fayson…He is what I call the “God” character. He knows everything about everyone…Why? He owns the bar. Go figure. However he and a transvestite hacker named Job provide a bit of comic relief at times in this show considering the plots and sub plots…In fact, Job at times is a scene stealer and he totally kicks ass! He really has me cracked up at times. Check out this scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ7mSXN1J4s

At least you now know this is one character that doesn’t put up with BS!

You really need to save a duck and watch Rabbit too…That is Ana/Carrie’s dad…He’s just your average old softie with a bit of a sociopathic twist!  Strangely enough, both he and Ana are characters one ends up having some empathy for…I mean, who wouldn’t be pissed after finding out one is a grandparent of two and they were kept from you?  Rabbit is not without his flaws though. If you watch Banshee: Origins, one learns that years ago he stole his brother’s wife–who is Ana’s mother…AND he killed a few people…Oh–but wait…Alright! He killed a LOT of people! There!

It’s a good thing his brother forgave him and became a priest, but let’s just say they need to keep Julian Sands around because he is bad ass!  The character is likable despite the fact that he does have a dark side to himself. I know if I were him, I’d sleep with a gun nearby being that Rabbit is capable of almost anything.

Then there is Kai Proctor. He is the town mayor and on a bad day, he can make Rabbit look like a bit of a choir boy depending on how pissed off he gets. He is behind almost every criminal enterprise in Banshee.  He is also allowing his niece, Rebecca, to live with him now that she has gotten kicked off of the family farm…Oh by the way, they were raised as Amish.  Proctor has a lot of issues stemming from his relationship with his father, too.  I feel that as Banshee unfolds over time, we will see why it is Proctor chose his path as well.

As one watches this show, it is like watching a novel unfold. The writing is excellent. There is no political crap getting in the way of the story line and definitely nothing preaching to anyone’s morality on this show.  This is exactly the type of show I would watch because I am really tired of prime time TV injecting crap from the political realm into every show. I watch TV to escape that garbage. However, I’d rather not have a TV and watch what I can online.  One needs to be aware that this  is not a show for kids to watch but this is one of the best shows that most of you probably  have not heard of–yet.

I will say this–IF you like Sons of Anarchy, you will probably like this show too because there are times that everything going on is total lawlessness and chaos. There are no motorcycle gangs, but the very nature of the Ukrainian gang and Proctor’s operations make this show intriguing enough. The acting is flawless in this series. Each actor and actress seems to have been carefully picked and plays his/her part to perfection. However, I’d love to see some of the out takes!

The acting ensembles are above and beyond anything you will get on the regular networks. They all know their craft and do an excellent job. All of these characters stand out on their own and their stories work well within the time frame the show is given for each episode.  There is character growth and development as well.  Ana/Carrie is the one I see evolving the most. Her past has come back to haunt her, and her kids are paying the highest price for it. The big question is, will it destroy her entire family, or will they be able to pick up the broken pieces later and put them together into something new.

Rabbit’s character is even understandable in some ways. He is not incapable of love, but his sociopathic nature prevents him from simply letting go of Ana and doing what is best for his grandchildren. He wants vengeance on Hood for “stealing” Ana from him. Being that she left Hood behind and began a new life with a new identity years ago–and married someone else, one might think Rabbit MIGHT have some empathy for Hood…After all, they both got, in essence, “screwed over”.   Hence the reason the entire town of Banshee is now in an uproar. Between Rabbit, Hood and the agendas of Proctor and now the newly introduced Agent Racine, I’m sure this season will be just as explosive as the last, if not even more so.

There is one scene that stands out between Rabbit and Ana/Carrie.  It is where she said, “I will kill you.” and he replies, “You already have.”  At that point one sees pain in Rabbit’s eyes. That is when one knows that Rabbit, for all the evil stuff he has done, does have a heart capable of breaking in that carcass of his someplace.

It would be nice to see a few of these cast members up for prime time Emmy’s in 2015.  So far, Ben Cross, Ulrich Thomsen and Hoon Lee top my list on this show.  It would be nice to see Ivana Millicevic get a nod as well. Not only is Ana/Carrie a strong, surviving character, but her vulnerabilities also come out well on-screen.  Antony Starr is the perfect one to cast opposite her as there is much growth in both characters as the realities of their situations slap them both squarely in the face–and the chemistry between them is great. This growth occurs with casualties though–both living and dead in the series 1 finale.  What will drive this sequence of events to the Series 2 finale? We will have to see but I see endless possibilities for some of the characters on this show.

I hope to see this show last for a VERY long time!

For those of you who are fans of the show and/or fans of the actors/actresses involved, here are some links to their FaceBook pages and most of them can also be followed on twitter! Enjoy! Most of them do answer fan posts and tweets too when they can and have time!

https://www.facebook.com/actorbencross

https://www.facebook.com/banshee

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Antony-Starr-official/119407884769823

https://www.facebook.com/IvanaMilicevicFans

*Hoon Lee is on twitter as @MisterHoonLee    (He’s the actor who gives us that kick ass character of Job!)

These Are the Different Types of Villains–Street Perspective…There are “Levels” and Here are a Few of Them…

NOTE:  This was written for fun.  Given that fact, feel free to add your thoughts on it, but this is not meant to make those in academia happy–it is meant purely just to have some sort of amusement about this topic.

The “Bonehead”…This is the type of villain that will steal, lie and cheat and is mainly used as a buffoon or comic relief–like John Astin in “Evil Roy Slade”  or Kirk Douglas in ‘The Villain”.  These are ones that are so bumbling you grow to like them…They just can’t get their stuff right!

The “Asshat”–This is one of those guys that’s like the drill sergeant  “Full Metal Jacket”.  These guys don’t know when to back off even though they are well intended (as in doing their job) and if something bad happens, the hero takes an instant dislike to him/her–and sometimes the viewers are glad if something happens to those characters–like jail time, demotions or even death just because they are such asshats! They either overdo it in the “zealous” faction or they don’t know how to do their job in a way that can benefit other characters. The Coach in “The Breakfast Club” can qualify here–and to me he IS an asshat! He definitely didn’t know how to “teach”. If this “coach” had handled up on these kids this way now, he’d have been put on probation himself. He did mistreat Bender in my book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTeYncx1xmI

The “Conniving Bitch”: –I’ll use movie examples here:  Dame Judith Anderson in “Rebecca”, Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” or “Jezabel”…Take your pick.  How about Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction?  Mo’Nique in “Precious”?  Their levels of evil qualify them here–and I had little to NO empathy for them. The same falls true for Farah Fawcett in “Small Sacrifices” and Elizabeth Montgomery’s role in the movie “Amos”.

Glenn Close Fatal Attraction

Glenn Close in 1987’s hit “Fatal Attraction”.

The Jealous Wench:  This is actually ranked right below the “Conniving Bitch”…Just look at Jane Fonda in “Monster in Law“.  Some are a cross between this ranking and the “C.B”–and a good example of this lies in Angelique Bouchard–from the original  “Dark Shadows” or the “Dark Shadows Revival” series.  I didn’t care for Eva Green in the role. I felt that the script for that flick made no sense anyway. It was like watching “Occupy Collinwood”.  If Angelique controlled Collinwood, what the heck did she need Barnabas for? She didn’t. Trying to make her a bit empathetic at the end was a huge mistake. She’s a sociopath as she was portrayed in both the original series and in the ’91 series–sort of like Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” and with almost a similar narcissistic quality. In fact, in the original series she stooped to killing her own sister.

The Ones We LOVE to Loathe:  Let’s see…This should be easy because it is definitely like “beauty”–in the eye of the beholder in a sense because these villains wire people up…  J. R. Ewing from “Dallas”.  Not that any of them are saints on “Sons of Anarchy” but Gemma Teller Morrow (Katie Sagal) takes the freaking cake…She plays several sides of a fence…Seriously.  Then there is Robert  Mitchum’s character in “The Night of the Hunter“?  That movie kept us on the edge of our seats. Check out this recent review! Very well done:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jfz9Q0Qblw

The same thing goes for two on the show “Banshee”…There are several “villains” there because most are not upstanding, law-abiding citizens, that’s for sure.  Two of the best villains on here are Rabbit (Ben Cross) and Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thompson).  Even the main characters are villains (Lucas Hood and Ana/Cassie Hopewell)–and it gives new meaning to an old bible verse about “…not one being righteous”  in that town, too.   However,  viewers are going to have empathy for some and total loathing for others and my bet for the honor of this particular title  is on these two characters–Kai Proctor and Rabbit.  Both have some bad ass underlings.

Ulrich-Thomsen-as-Proctor-in-Banshee-Cinemax

Ulrich Thomsen as “Kai Proctor” on Banshee in the above photo.

However it is hard to classify Ana/Cassie, Lucas Hood or Job as true villains when they are on the run from Rabbit and his lot and have led (for the most part) “quiet” (I am joking here!) lives for 15 years–while Lucas was locked up. It is very  hard to say that Lucas is “quiet” because he did kill some folks.  Again, hard to classify him and Ana.  However I am tempted to put Ana in the “conniving bitch” category because of how she treated her father–Rabbit and lied about who she really is to her hubby.  There is something up with that because he did love his daughter. This is where some will actually empathize with Rabbit.  However others will be baffled as to why Lucas even bothers with her because she really pulls some wicked crap that he should have grown a pair and killed her over in my book. Ah…The joys of true love. What can I say?  I mean, she cuffed him to a bed and left him for Rabbit, for Chrissake! I can say this, he is correct when he tells her that “Carrie” (as in her identity) is a “hiding place”.

ivana millicevic anttony starr Banshee

Ivana Millicevic (Ana aka “Carrie) and Antony Starr (Lucas Hood) in “Banshee”.

Some do feel a bit of empathy for Rabbit when a couple of things get revealed–but he’s still gonna be one twisted, sick–well, you get it.  It’s also easy to empathize with Kai over the issues with his father and his upbringing–and that is where it ends with him.  He’s almost as twisted as Rabbit, I think, but in a different way. No, I take it back. Rabbit is NOT as twisted. Watch the scenes Proctor has with his niece and you will know why I say that…

Ben as Rabbit

The pic above is a screen shot of Ben Cross as “Rabbit”.

If you have not seen “Banshee” I highly recommend it! It is very well-written and directed,  but it is NOT a family show. There is nudity and such–after all it is Cinemax, so use your brains and put the kiddies to bed first or send ’em to Grandma’s!  After you watch that, come back and tell me which character (NOT CAST MEMBER) you want to kick in the shins! Just remember! Those men and women are ACTING!  It’s the characters we loathe–not the players!   I wonder if Mo’Nique got flak for her role in “Precious” now that I think about it…

I don’t know about the rest of you but when villains fall in the last category above, it just totally rocks! People  LOVE hating villains like these!  I am going to go a little further here.  I think the character of “Mr. Rabbit” is going to be so detested by some that he’ll end up being one of the best TV villains of all time–which would dethrone J.R. Ewing–and believe me, this guy makes J.R. look like a cub scout in comparison!

To give you an idea of how twisted the family tree is–here is one card Carrie/Ana will NEVER send to her father Rabbit–even though there might be a little truth in it:

snakeplissken

And I am going to add here that since “Banshee” is the highest rated show Cinemax has ever aired, I think some prime time Emmy nods will come out of this–and if not, someone hasn’t got their head on straight.  This series has some excellent writing in it–so even if you’re not into the nude scenes and such–it is worth watching for the fact that it has plot, organization, innovation and originality.  Those of you anticipating Sons of Anarchy’s new season should tune in to this one in the meantime.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I look for Hoon Lee, who plays “Job” on here to get a best supporting actor nod too.  Some people tune in to see what stunt he’s going to pull next! He has a lot of scenes in this series that will crack you up, so here is one of them (and it has adult language, so if you’re offended easily, sorry. This cracked me up!) :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=3UQdGPp3BDs

As I dive further into the villain topic, I’m sure there are other categories to add later, but these are the main ones and these are meant for a general audience–not the academic one. If I were to go into the “Abrams Book of Literary Terms” it might bore a lot of you to death so I spared you that…However it is a good tool for writers to have on hand.  And a good resource to look at is Chuck Wendig’s “Terrible Minds” blog.  Here is a link to that too–and he’s as blunt as the Banshee writers!

http://www.terribleminds.com/

 

Nana: The Baby Boomers are the “Forgotten Audience” It Seems…

Well–not to sound cliché but “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  I am really tired of networks cancelling good shows like “Harry’s Law“, “Memphis Beat” and “Cold Case” because of Nielsen ratings.  These ratings are no longer truly representative of what viewers want because they do not adequately get put across to households representing all age groups.

Even Warner Bros. has stated that “…baby boomers tend to not go to theaters, so that is why certain movies get marketed…” HELLO!  Dear Warner Bros: We pay the friggin’ bills half the time! Stop ignoring us all! If WE are at home in rocking chairs, it should be us you’re surveying and not those teens and ‘tweens you keep pandering movies to that aren’t fit for my dog to piss on the fire hydrant in front of the theater over. You know exactly to what I am referring.  Yes, I am mad. Yes, I’m still hormonal. Deal with it.  To you we are the forgotten audience, but like that nagging ringing you get in your ears, we are NOT going away. We don’t have one foot on the grave and another on the banana peel yet.

Think they got that, folks? Even if they see it, it will not matter much…

One of the best movies that could appeal to my age group is “The Life of Pi” and the other is “Lincoln”…There’s 12 months in a year and that is all Hollywood has to offer us?  Well, there is “Armour”, which I think is probably one of the best films of last year, so it deserved its Oscar nod as well! And it’s a French film! Not all baby boomers get into “The Avengers”–but there are those who still do.  Just for the hell of it, I will watch “Cowboys and Aliens” on dvd though.  Granted there are a few family films put out, but the best ones get put out by Pixar (“Brave”) and NOT WB.   The Expendables II is also good. Like the idea of all those actors grouping up for another hurrah!

That brings me to another topic…Why don’t you boneheads keep the older actors and actresses we love and respect working?  I’ll watch a movie that has Muse Watson, Ben Cross, Kathy Bates, Helen Mirren or Judi Dench any day of the week before I’ll watch that freaking “Twilight” you keep trying to get me to buy tickets for–which I won’t.  I’ll watch Hammer Films. At least they KNOW how to make a good horror/suspense flick!  Did any of you young whipper snappers see “The Woman in Black” yet? I suggest you watch it and learn a thing or two after subjecting this lifelong Dark Shadows fan to that abysmal movie that was made in 2012.   Hammer Studios knows how to get the job done right. That has been proven.

Bruce Willis also knows how to get the job done right.  “Red” proved that.  Watch this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFLX7Pk1Tn4

Just to note: IF Willis makes a part II for this I hope Mr. Cross gets offered a hell of a comedic role!

If you’re not going to keep us happy using the major networks, I hope some enterprising investors come up with a network JUST FOR older audience members that will keep these actors working and put food on the table!   It makes perfect sense to me!   A little innuendo and such doesn’t bother my age group either.  However constantly being bombarded with the “visioning” and “re-visioning” these screenwriters come up with really pissed off my age group in the past few years.  It has gotten to where I prefer live theater to television anymore because the networks keep putting too much trash on them.  The only good shows worth watching are the CSI’s, NCIS’s, Law and Order spin-offs, etc…I could care less about “Reality TV”. I can watch reality for free every day so I don’t want to see it on the television…

I’d rather see a good variety show than Glee any day of the week.  I think one of the best movies that is going to come out in 2013 is going to be “A Common Man” with Sir Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross starring in it.  I’d pay $30 a ticket for that one!  I’d also pay for a ticket to hear Ben Cross sing, but that’s off the subject a bit…However, that man has some pipes on him, folks!  I never knew he could sing until I saw this a few years back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khSVOJF4S3c

I think another good movie coming out is “Monumental” which stars Gary Cairns II, who also stars in “Black Butterflies” with Brad Dourif. “Black Butterflies” is also coming out this year too.  Yes, Gary is younger but he knows how to act and he takes good scripts so I’d pay as much to see him also–and he is a down to Earth, cool guy. I can personally attest to that fact.

“Posey” is another film that everyone who has had Alzheimer’s touch their family or has elderly family members they love dearly should watch this year.  Sally Kirkland is a wonderful actress and she recently snagged the Best Actress Award at the Idyllwild CinemaFest for her role.  Billy DaMota is a man with an excellent heart to put such a film together and I fully support it.  Also having Christopher Pennock in the cast peeks my interest as well!  I’d love to see him get more work this year too! Here is the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWMTBV7sIl0

Alright now…Her majesty “Nana” has spoken.  Have a great week!

Dear Hollywood: This is My First Rant of 2013–Signed Nana

Psssst!  The baby boomers are not going away…Did you hear that?!  They make the money, they buy the movie tickets, they buy the CD‘s and, in short, they can literally pull the plug on the recording industry and on the film industry by NOT giving the kids and grand kids money to see and hear the crap being marketed to them.

This generation doesn’t ask for much, but it does ask for logical script-writing and not this re-visioning crap.

It ask for music that means something other than getting messed up or laid at the next party…There is more to life than that during the work-week.

It asks for innovation and originality–not the rehashing of old ideas in order to debase them publicly like Warner Bros. did in 2012 with the Dark Shadows film.  If you’re going to redo a classic, stick to the real story line.  Believe it or not, it was logical and would have worked.  The baby boomers are not interested in you projecting your political thinking into a script either. It was like watching “Occupy Collinwood” and it sucked.

In short, you have bitten the hand that has fed you for the past 20 years and this generation is about to say, “Enough!”

Your networks cancel good shows like “Memphis Beat” and “Harry’s Law“…What’s with that shit?

You give us tripe like “Jersey Shore” and “Sixteen and Pregnant”–or still worse “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant”…Really? Come on! Get a life! If it weren’t for TiVo the kids would probably be in school and never see that crap anyway.  Thank God I got rid of cable after it became clear that crap is all we’re going to get. I’m not paying $130 a month to watch tripe.

There is enough drama and bull crap in life that Reality TV is not a necessity. You’re better off bringing back the variety show–and I don’t mean shows with nothing but rap and such. Different musical genres should be represented.  God! I miss “Laugh-In”…Seriously and I was a kid when that was cancelled.

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve was a travesty…Not the same without Dick Clark so please change the name of it.

You discard the older actors with real talent and change them for pretty faces that cannot act their way out of a paper bag–even with a good director, which is rare because the good directors, producers and actors are also from the boomer generation, but we’re older than most of you newer CEO’s so we don’t know jack-shit, right? WRONG!  I know most of what people consider “bad acting” lies more at the feet of the director than the actor who has to portray the part as they are told to do…Go figure. The crap the actors get should trickle UP the ladder–not down it.

There are some young actors out there that know their craft too…  I suggest you take a good look at Gary Cairns II. I said a year and a half ago that this young man is going places, and he’s proving me right with every project he gets hired for.  That man has range, and even as young as he is, he lets those characters breathe through him–and that is what I watch for in any actor’s performance. Zachary Quinto is right up there with him! Thank God he got his break!

2013 should be the year you make amends to this generation.  You can start by putting some of the older actors and actresses back to work with quality scripts.  NBC or CBS should take “Memphis Beat” and “Harry’s Law” and re-market them.  They would work just like Hawaii 5-0 did!  Note: The only good shows on right now are Law and Order SVU, H5-0 and NCIS in my book.  I’m beginning to mull the idea that maybe there should be a network created for my generation that will take up the mantle since the ball keeps getting fumbled out in Hollywood.

Anyone listening out there? I doubt it…I will end by saying this:  There are plenty of older actors and actresses out there that would draw us back into theaters and to the TV set  if you would get over your case of posterior cranial rectumitis and put them to WORK!  Kathy Bates, Michael Caine, Wayne Rogers, Ben Cross and Helen Mirren to name a few…Thank God “Banshee” airs on 1/11 on Cinemax…Since I killed the cable, I will find out who can TiVo that for me because I’ll personally watch ANYTHING that Ben Cross appears in.  The man knows his craft and he doesn’t take junk scripts.   Oh and by the way, Robin Williams can also act…You do know that, right?

Funny how you keep ignoring the generation that REALLY holds the purse/wallet.  This may be the year you get a wake up call. One can only hope, but the year does end in “…13” so we’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?  I’ll try not to rant much until mid-year since we’ve only just begun, but it is time you stopped hitting the snooze button in the studios and actually wake up!  By the way, why is it the only way we can watch a decent flick or a good old-fashioned romance is to watch AMC or TCM–or the Hallmark Channel? Do you really think we’re that far gone?  Man, you people in the studios have a lot to learn…Maybe this will be the year–and since I am paying for tickets when I do think something good is coming out, I expect to be listened to.

 

Will 2013 Be The Year Hollywood Finally “Gets It”?

As the year comes to a close, I thank god I didn’t stay in the theater for the bad movies that were released this year–with the exception of “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp–but that was to be polite since I didn’t buy the ticket.  To me that was the worst one of the year. Sorry to the Depp fans but I’m being honest. I got my money back on two of them. To me, the character of Barnabas Collins did not get nearly the dignity and depth he deserved–and much of that was due to Tim Burton‘s direction (or possibly the lack of it) and a horribly written script by Seth Grahame Smith.  Even though Depp was a producer on this project, I cannot fault him on the acting when it is the director that calls the shots on how a character is to be portrayed.

And here’s an article to back that statement up:  http://entertainment.ca.msn.com/movies/galleries/worst-movies-of-2012

I didn’t even care for “John Carter”, “The Watch” or “That’s My Boy”…”A Thousand Words” was one I knew wasn’t going to do well from the previews too, but–WAIT!!! According to the die-hard “Deppers” on IMDB shouldn’t “judge a movie by the trailer”…

I could not resist that line.  I don’t support an actor or actress out of pure “fanship”…If I did, I’d spend too much money on flops like this. NOW for the best ones because I want to end on a good note.

I say “The Woman in Black” (which is a Hammer film that totally kicks ass!), “Men in Black III“, and the 3D version of “The Life of Pi“, “Argo” and “Flight” were the best of  the year.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t put “Skyfall” on here–it’s because I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’m not big on James Bond flicks either.

That being said, I expect Hammer Films to have a big year for 2013.  I also feel that the short film “Posey” (directed by Billy DaMota), which stars Sally Kirkland and Christopher Pennock,  is going to get a lot of attention in the Indie markets because of the fact that it deals with Alzheimer’s and pays tribute to real victims of the disease by raising money for research,  and another film, “A Common Man” will get director Chandran Rutman a lot of attention–not to mention Sir Ben Kingsley, who stars in this with fellow veteran actor,  Ben Cross. I feel that “A Common Man” will definitely help the Sri Lankan film industry.  I can’t wait to see these two movies as well as any Hammer film that will hopefully get released next year!

Hopefully, Hollywood will finally market to more than the niche markets they’ve pandered too also.  The baby boomers are the ones buying tickets–and they’re buying for the teens and ‘tweens also.  Until they put out better films that meet the expectations of that generation, I expect a lot more Indie films to get a lot more attention than the major releases.  One can only hope that Hollywood will finally “get it”…

 

The Sign of the Ram (1948)

This performance should have gotten Susan Peters more work and an Oscar nod…Unfortunately, those times were different. Maybe in the present she can get the respect she richly deserves.

 

This is probably one of the most important films in Oscar History–even though it never received a nod.  Susan Peters–who played the calculating, manipulative matriarch definitely should have received one.  There is only one performance that tops hers and that was that of Dame Judith Anderson in “Rebecca” years prior.

The performance of Dame Judith Anderson in the film “Rebecca” was also brilliant!

 

The  classic movie channels such as AMC or TCM show “The Sign of the Ram” very rarely.  They need to release it on dvd.  It never has been re-released–period! Not on VCR–nothing!  That is sad because the script writing was top-notch for the era and the acting was wonderful to watch.  The writers didn’t make the mistake of making this to where there was too much empathy for Leah St. Aubyn, that is for certain!  It definitely puts forth that there is a difference between disability and being “differently-abled” and it is tragic that the studios couldn’t see beyond Ms. Peters wheelchair to give her more work as they did for Lionel Barrymore when he became wheelchair bound.

I do realize that times were different, but I wanted to bring recognition to one of Hollywood’s “Lost Treasures”.  The Motion Picture Academy should give some sort of recognition to this film and to Ms. Peters.  For her to work after such an accident during those times should have at least gotten her some type of lifetime achievement award.  That would be nice to see, I think.

This script definitely left nothing out. It would be nice to see an updated version of this–not one with a lot of crap thrown in for adult ratings either–stick with the story as it was written–just update the dialogue and cast.  I think as far as the time period–it would be best to keep it in the 40’s or 50’s era due to the social issues brought up in the original film.  I would want Ben Cross for the part of Mallory, as he is an older gentleman married to the younger Leah–and I would make his character a bit more intimidating of Leah in the end once his suspicion of her is aroused…I don’t know who I’d want to play Leah though.  Christine would be another role that would be difficult for me to cast if I were the one behind this one…

 

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The Writer’s Responsibility as ADULTS–And this one is HUGE!

It is the responsibility of every writer, be it a  news reporter or a critic to be honest in their endeavors. Readers can spot it when one tells the truth rather than what the writer thinks the truth SHOULD be and there is a big whopping difference.  The only time a writer can get away with almost any type of bullshit is in fiction because the playing field is level there. Almost anything goes and the purists are losing control over the genre–whether it be vampire fiction, romance, etc…

If a writer is telling a story that can shake one’s emotions to the core, then let him/her have her day–as long as it IS IN the fiction realm. That is much more entertaining than these purists who come in and say, “Vampires can’t do this!” or “That character would not be able to do that in my opinion–” because those opinions simply do not matter in this day and age when anything can happen in a dream or a fantasy.

In the “Changing Tide of Movie Viewing”, I discussed what I see going on with how people in general view the movie critic.  The critic is no longer the voice for the public because the public makes up its own mind what it wants to see–and the public is tired of all the Hollywood schlock.  The public wants real stories, believable plots and things the whole family can enjoy.  This is definitely a lesson Warner Bros. should have learned when it released “Dark Shadows” back in May.  It bombed HERE because everyone who grew up on the original or watched the Dark Shadows Revival Series KNEW how the original writer and producer, the late Dan Curtis, envisioned it.  They liked HIS vision and he knew what worked.  It did well overseas and made its money and some profit because most European fans do not know the original and if they do, they wanted it changed.

Another assumption Hollywood has made in error is that baby boomers don’t tend to go to theaters. Not true. They do go–they just don’t like the constant marketing to teens, ‘tweens and the and Twilight Fiends…Sorry but it’s true. They want to see more of actors like Bruce Willis, Robert Redford, Michael Caine, Ben Cross, Eric Roberts and the list goes on. As for actresses, Helen Mirren, Melissa Leo and Dame Judith Dench have my vote…Chick flicks do not do much for the potential market Hollywood COULD have because there are more baby boomers on the planet than Gen X’ers…Go figure. The Expendables 2 was a nice break for the older audience because they got to see a lot of their favorites in ONE FILM.  By the way, Dolph Lundgren is a talented actor and writer in his own right and is much under-rated. If you don’t believe me, watch “The Mechanik” (aka) “The Russian Specialist“. Ben Cross is also in this one and he makes it shine. The two together were awesome in that film.

Unfortunately the changes made to that movie script  for the Dark Shadows movie rendered it to be an entirely different story than “Dark Shadows”.  This vision that Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Seth Grahame Smith had would have been better served for a remake of “The Fearless Vampire Killers“…Hopefully someone will do a decent remake of that one.

Now back to the premise of this post–writing…How one is going to write their stories or articles depends largely upon the audience which will read it, but if one is going to write a review–then watch the WHOLE movie, SERIES and/or listen to the WHOLE ALBUM before putting out the article.  In fact, do so twice. You probably missed something the first time around.  An audience member somehow, somewhere can spot it when you are trying to bullshit them simply because you don’t like the artists, actor, actress, writer, director, etc…and many readers will now begin to call a writer on the carpet for that crap.  The market for writers is a hard one to break into as it is, but if you’re going to con your readers because you don’t like a person for whatever reason, you won’t get far with it.

I tend to be very blunt, honest and to the point when I write. Some can handle it, others cannot. It doesn’t bother me either way but somebody has to speak up about the nonsense going on in the field.  I write from my perspective.  I point out what I feel are strengths and weaknesses, but my focus tends to lie on the script  writing and direction when it comes to films.  Those are the building blocks of every picture–the very foundation–and if those are screwed up, the film will, most likely bomb.  Star power does not always sell a picture, so when I see an actor’s or actress’s  name attached to a picture that I KNOW would never take a junky part–I will go see that film each time that performer is in it.  I watch for performances, sure–but most performances that go awry have more to do with the writing than anything else, I think.

Now if the movie is based on a novel, I try to read the novel first.  However I didn’t follow that pattern with “The Help”.  Either way, that film rocked and there is much more in the book, so if you go the book afterward, please read it!

I am in the process of writing a book now. It is called “From Cell to Cell” (at the moment).  My life has been a journey, but only at this phase in my life have I found peace with it all.  It is funny how one’s life can change in an instant and it can last for a lifetime–be it good or be it not so good. One lesson I did learn is that not all things that seem to make sense are the best things for us. We may think they are, but in the end, we may have ended up settling for second best out of fear. However we can make it good–but it takes two words “I WILL”–and when the door opens, we have to be willing to go through it at any age.  Did you watch the “Shawshank Redemption“?   I had a few moments standing in the rain enjoying the first taste of freedom in my life. For me that scene with Tim Robbins is very symbolic.  I also recommend “The Green Mile” (RIP Michael Clarke Duncan  1957-2012–You will be missed).

As a writer it is best to remember two things: First,  be honest. Second, don’t try to con the reader.  It will lead to your undoing as a writer–especially if you are writing reviews or anything to do with History.  When writing about History, it is best to stick to what is KNOWN to be fact and/or proven via a written record in the library stacks or film–not conjecture or opinions of other individuals.  If you can piece something together into a logical pattern, say so and why.  It is one thing to check a writer’s sources–but if the sources have been taken out of context to fit the writer’s opinion we have a duty to expose this. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. And I will save that topic for another post! Have a great weekend!

The world lost a very talented man when it lost this actor. Michael Clarke Duncan 1957-2012 (RIP)

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Dark Shadows: Wrong and Loathing It (Repost Since the Original is Lost~!)

 

I originally wrote this when I first saw the movie upon its release. Thank God I didn’t by the freaking ticket. I’d have demanded a refund. To all the die-hard Deppers and Burtonites–sorry if it offends you…I am simply being honest here. That script totally sucked!

Alright people…I actually broke down and went to see this movie.  I will say this, Mr. Ebert was being kind when he gave it 2.5 stars.  Now I am going to write about what is WRONG with this film, and it shouldn’t matter whether or not the viewer saw either the original or the Revival Series prior to viewing it, but before I do, I will say this: I think that it is truly sad that while Johnny Depp is probably one of the greatest actors alive, he is wasting his talent on steering clear of a mainstream audience.  It is fine to be a rebel of sorts in Hollywood, as long as you know whatever the hell your cause is and if it is a cause worth standing ground for.

However I cannot fault Depp for his Barnabas portrayal here. In fact, aside from the clown make up which he’s been using in his past few films, he actually did attempt to give the character of Barnabas Collins a depth of sincerity but was derailed by the horrible script writing of Seth Grahame-Smith.

Each actor was given an interesting part, but due to the lack of integrity in the script, there was little to no character development with the other characters involved. It seemed that the movie was somewhat rushed after the back story about Josette, Barnabas and Angelique was given in the first 20 minutes or so.  I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that those who loved both series (the original and the Revival) will be very disappointed, if not pissed off.  Here are a few reasons why:

It is one thing to take dramatic license and add to a script. It is another thing to bastardize the entire story line just because one has bought the rights to do it.  According to the REAL story, Angelique curses Barnabas prior to Josette’s demise. The part about her bewitching Jeremiah and Josette so that THEY married was completely omitted–not to mention the fact that Barnabas’ parents were NOT killed but remained part of the story line throughout both the original series and the Revival series. He never delved into black magic himself either. Hence that is the beginning of the bastardization of the character.

PLEASE don’t try to tell me they had to rewrite it to make it pleasing to a new generation. That is such bullshit.  They could add some humor without doing the above. It ruined the credibility of the film with fans who know how the story actually went. Also I have a problem with a “witch” leading a mob to bury a vampire alive.  Angelique didn’t try to go too far out on a limb. Besides that Barnabas had killed her and she cursed him with her dying breath. Again…Credibility shot to hell. Victoria not knowing her own damned name on the train didn’t help either. THAT was stupid. Not campy.

Then after 48 minutes into the picture, I was asking myself, “Where in the bloody hell (no pun intended) is this movie going?  I mean, vampires supposedly SLEEP by day…This version of Barnabas was all over the place. I don’t want to hear anyone bitching about the Dark Shadows Revival Series day for night shots when there are plenty of them in this damned flick.  An HOUR into it, I was still wondering where the hell the story was going. The oral sex w/Julia…The sex w/Angelique…Give me a break! The latter was reminiscent of “War of the Roses“…The finale–as another reviewer stated–was reminiscent of “Death Becomes Her”…I didn’t find Eva Green‘s performance or Ms. Heathcote’s as really standing out either.

With only 40 minutes left, total disappointment…NOT in Depp’s acting–although Ben Cross beats his ass down when it comes to the part of Barnabas…Not in Ms.Pfieffer’s acting. AS I said the writing itself, the entire changed story line sucked balls. However there are some aspects of it that did appeal to me. The write-in of Victoria’s childhood did appeal to me–no spoiler. Let’s just say that psychologically, I can see how she feels connected to Collinsport–and why she likes being there–probably because that came out of some of the best fan fiction that I have ever read.  If you don’t believe that, start reading some of it…The apologetic serial killer crap doesn’t appeal to me either–again, it’s bullshit. Barnabas tried not to bring attention to himself.

I also felt a connection with David’s character–having been abandoned emotionally in more ways than one. No  spoiler there either. Only in the last 24 minutes does it seem to pick up to some sort of climactic action…Let’s just say if that first is last and the last is first, there will be no sequel…This Barnabas issue of fans wanting an ending got it…Watch it to the end and you will know why–but this was more of a spin off…Not  a spoof, despite its comedic moments.

What makes it tragic to me, is that if the writer Seth Grahame Smith had taken the FIRST movie to devote to the mystery of Vicky and tie it in that way with Angelique stalking and her connection to Josette, the rest could have come together in part 2 and kicked total ass. By the way, I did like Alice Cooper‘s appearance–even though he wasn’t famous until ’73 or ’74…

Despite the brief cameo of the original cast, this movie does not have the bite it should have had for it being part of the franchise. The entire story–minus the Josette thing at the beginning could have been dealt with in an hour on a TV production rather than this 113 minutes of wasted celluloid.  There is no excuse for the dragging ass pacing of this film for the first 89 minutes.  More could have been told and less time wasted–with more time given to character development.  It boils down to this, stellar cast…Interesting idea…Yet it was wasted on a script that was totally wrong…Hence the title of my review…Dark Shadows: Wrong and Loathing It.

Now that Jonathan Frid is gone, Cross owns the role in my book. I’ll never go to any sequel of the 2012 version, that’s for sure…

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Addendum:  I am clearing something up here by request.  Johnny Depp, while even though he was a producer of this film and bears much of  the responsibility for the fact that it tanked here, needed to learn a lesson here.  There are some parts which even the greatest actor on this planet does not have the range for and should not undertake.  This clearly was one of those roles for Johnny Depp.  If you do some checking, you will find that he did want to play Barnabas in the 1990’s to which Dan Curtis gave a resounding “NO!”  Curtis was right.   The only way to fix this now is to totally change up the story to where Angelique set this whole thing up–including the meeting between Josette and Barnabas in Martinique.

Why do I say that? Because it is the only way to save the franchise and stay true to the characters at this point in time.  Fans want a resolution to this storyline–not drag it out for another 40 years.  Frid is gone.  Cross is older now.   However, this can be redone utilizing some of the original cast members in speaking  roles–even if short ones, and some from the Revival cast.  THAT would have worked and the fans of both versions would have been much happier.  Unfortunately, the Burton-Depp camp didn’t consider the fans when making this version. This was about egos and what they thought would sell the picture: The Depp name.  What does this prove?  It proves Tom Laughlin’s point (You might remember him from the Billy Jack trilogy) that there are times that even superstar power will not sell a picture if it doesn’t meet certain expectations.

If you want to know more, read this book!  http://www.billyjack.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=BK9S&Category_Code=BOOKS&Store_Code=BERSERK

For any writer, this book is right on the money!

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These Types of Movies Rock!

 

In 1962, Sophia Loren won the Best Actress Oscar in “Two Women”…In 1965, “Shelley Winters” took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “A Patch of Blue“.  Both movies were tackling issues that a lot of writers will not touch on any longer–or if they do, they do something stupid when writing it (and/or putting the cast together–like they did with “The Women” in 2008) and it crashes on the remake. Both “Two Women” and “A Patch of Blue” were somewhat ahead of their time, I think, but were important to film history itself.

This movie rivets viewers even 52 years after it’s release…

One of the most important films of the era, “A Patch of Blue” tackles racism, abuse, alcoholism in such a way it made one think back then. This film was definitely ahead of its time in many respects. It was well before the on air kiss of Captain Kirk and Uhura on “Star Trek, too…No they don’t kiss here, but it’s obvious that these characters had some type of feelings toward each other.

I feel the same way about “Chariots of Fire”.  The reason that movie has  had so much staying power over 30 years time is that there is a universal issue it tackles that has absolutely nothing to do with religious faith of some sort, but more to the point of being true to one’s self despite what society tries to dictate.  In short,  Eric Liddel and Harold Abrahams had huge sets of cojones and did not compromise on what they stood for, period.

Ben Cross and Ian Charleson portrayed them well.  It took equal amounts of cojones to even take the parts given what society says of that sort of thing now. After reading what Ben Cross did to prepare for that role, I am convinced that he and Charleson are the other two reasons that movie will have staying power for another 30 years in film history.  Argue with me all you want, but you won’t change my mind or the minds of the fans who watch these types of films again and again. The themes are timeless and universal–and that is what is severely lacking in what is being put out today in Hollywood, so they try to remake EVERYTHING.  They need to get back to some original thought and scrap the damned remakes altogether–especially when it comes to classic movies like these.

One of the best movies in 30 years–and it has new life in it again…

Instead of tossing us bones like they would to a dog, Hollywood needs to start putting some meat out there–and NO I’M NOT talking about eye candy…I’m talking about using seasoned actors and actresses that can REALLY ACT.  It doesn’t matter if they are older–I want to be able to believe if someone is going to play a murderer, then I want that actor/actress to play said murderer well enough that I’ll believe he/she IS THE CHARACTER and is about to bolt through that screen to kill my ass!  The late Jack Palance had a knack for this–in fact he was so good, he scared a fellow cast mate once.  I believe strongly that Hollywood is going to suffer some backlash if it doesn’t stop this constant marketing to teens, ‘tweens, and those who love the bloody “chick flicks”.  Baby boomers outnumber the other audiences and they are tired of this trend, I think.  I know I definitely am.  Of the movies I’ve seen in the past year and a half, “The Help” is the best one so far.

If someone were to build competing film studios in other states that marketed to my age bracket, they would make a killing because people in those states would invest in a good film. They say non-attendance in theaters is why films are made to cater to the youthful market. That is crap in my book. If they would market to us and the entire families we have, they’d make more money.  I think that for every teen that will go to a flick, there are 3 adults that will go if the movie is worth a damn. If not, they simply leave the kids to their own devices while they use Redbox, VOD, or PPV.

There are few actors and actresses that can pull of that wonderful feat of letting that character breathe through them to the extent that it seems real.  Ben Cross, Melissa Leo, Gary Cairns II, Jessica Chastain, Dallas Bryce Howard, Glenn Close and Zachary Quinto are among that number. Just a note here:  I hated the Dark Shadows remake–totally detested it, but that kid Gulliver McGrath is going to have a good career ahead of him…Even as young as he is, he is totally believable in character.   Michele Pfeiffer also did well in that film.  They were the only good things about that fiasco.

Where has all the Music Gone?

 

No…Video did not kill the radio star…The DJ’s stopped playing the music that really matters.  In fact, reality TV killed all of it–as did all the electronic “fixes” for everything…Where are the real bands that have the skills to play real instruments?  All of the electronic inventions and such since the 1980’s have hurt music–not helped it.  Fewer people are learning how to play instruments and of those that do, where are they going to work if they decide they want to be a musician?  A friend of mine who has 30+ years experience asked me that question.

I’d rather hear a real band over the electronic synthesized fill in versions any day of the week.  I like jazz and blues festivals because I get to hear a lot of live music–without all the gadgets…I also listen to SOME country music–not all.  And I still love rock and metal. I just won’t drive to a lot of it…Too many tickets! LOL!  I heard this one day and said, “My god…He’s got a real band backing him!”  My faith in the music world is restored but only to a point.  We need more real bands regardless of the genre.  No amount of electronic alteration can duplicate the sound of a live band…It’s that simple…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv11VWnEv4I&feature=relmfu

And yes…This guy, Ben Cross,  does do the genre justice… 😉

Ironically, even with the advent of the 80’s scene, I like a lot of that music too–and some of it was a bit loaded with the synthesized sound…When I cover those, I don’t want that sound. It’s better to have it the way it was meant to be.  The 90’s brought SOME improvement but not much…It seems to now have reverted a bit again. At least it does to me.   That being said, this is an 80’s song that totally kicks ass and can be covered by a female if done correctly…This girl is on it now–and is going to be getting a vocal coach after all these years. Got lots of lost time to make up for–or die trying!  Have a great weekend!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf_Lwe6p-Cg

My high school sweetheart put this on the net the other day so I’m sharing it. It was taken in 1980…My first thought was, “Holy crap! We actually wore that back then?!” Either way, it’s a year I am glad I would NEVER relive…’81 was better…In fact, I would NOT want to relive my youth. My life is better now than it has ever been and I don’t look back much–until someone sends a reminder…Then I look quickly and close that book again.

And just for the record, I don’t think the music has gone so much as I think it’s being covered up by reality TV, which is why MTV sucks and VH1 blows monkey chunks.  It’s time to quit glorifying people’s private lives and get back to airing the real music already!