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Japanese Acrobats (1904)
Japanese learned from Risley -- or the other way around?
This brief 1904 film does indeed show two exceptionally dexterous performers from Japan. However, I do question the commenter above in his assertion that Professor Risley was the originator of these moves and showed them to Japan. It is far more likely that the events occurred the other way around, that Risley learned these moves *from* the Japanese, and brought these performers to the West, including the UK and America. And this is how his name came to be associated with these moves, because he was the producer and presenter, not the creator. This is the order of events explained on the web site of the National Museum of Japanese History, at http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/e-rekihaku/118
30 Rock: The Break-Up (2006)
Ah, if only Don Imus had watched this episode before... y'know
And I also wish Aaron Sorkin had seen this episode, too, before the painfully protracted episodes he tried to do with a black writer and a black performer on "Studio 60," which were so frustratingly wrong-headed and wrong-spirited and just plain WRONG, it's the moment I gave up on that show. But "30 Rock!" Wow, THIS is what it's really all about. THIS episode just so totally got it right. Toofer was right. AND Tracy was right. I LOVED that! What show actually shows both sides?? I was in tears laughing. And the running gags were priceless, both the bit with the "N" word and the vacuum cleaner, and Jack dating Condie! SO funny! And the "Black Frasier" scene mentioned above? I'm still dying--I'm seriously, seriously still dying laughing about that!!
One of two failed Archie pilots, with largely the same cast
The first pilot for an "Archie" TV show aired only once, during the summer on ABC, and was a more traditional adaptation of the long-running comic book series, with corny jokes more like the 1950s. The second pilot for an "Archie" TV show also aired only once, on ABC, during the following summer, and had a more modern slant, showing the actors singing and dancing like a contemporary rock group and being a bit more "racy" and modern, with jokes about making out and kissing. They even had Lil' Jinx, which I think is the only time the character got to step outside the comic pages! I'm pretty sure this entry is for this second attempt.
I remember one of the songs done in this series was called "Telephone Rondelay," but I can't remember if it was in the first or the second pilot! It was something like the song, "The Telephone Hour," in the musical, "Bye Bye Birdie." The same cast was in both pilots, or at least I remember that both pilots had Audrey Landers as Betty, Dennie Bowen as Archie, but most especially both had Derrel Maury as Jughead, who I (sigh) fell in love with!! Such a jazzy Jughead! I do remember the bit mentioned in a previous comment, where the others were trying to learn Jughead's real name. I think it was Miss Grundy who helped Jughead fool the kids with info that indicated his name was Jughead. At the end, Jughead told her thanks, but I remember the teacher responding with, "You're welcome, Forsythe"--and not Steve. Forsythe was Jughead's real name in the comics.
Great until they tried to "fix" it
The first season of this show is absolutely hilarious. Some people don't like the dark ride, as evidenced by the cool reception given to the similarly-themed John Larroquette Show, but I do! The opening dance numbers were delightfully tacky, and the love story of Nikki and Dwight was sweet and sincere. I'm glad actress Nikki Cox continues on TV on NBC's Las Vegas, but it's a shame she couldn't have brought castmates Nick von Esmarch, Susan Egan, and the eternally-underappreciated Toby Huss with her (hang in there, Toby; it took *decades* for Joe Pantoliano to get his due, too). Alas, the good times ended with the second season, with Steve Valentine's exit (to Crossing Jordan), Nikki & Dwight losing their showgirl and wrestler jobs, and the re-focus of the show to the "wacky neighbors" in their apartment building. Huh??! Yuck!! Naturally the few fans the show had acquired left in droves, and the show died a quick death. I see the show has been enjoying distribution all over the world now (Portugal?!). Woe to those who have stumbled upon the later eps -- when they could have been outside watching grass grow, a far more entertaining way to pass the time.
Diane Lane got an Oscar nomination today - NOW can this film be released on video???!
For this film not to be available to the public (with the exception of the odd midnight movie crowd) is scandalous!! It's a touchstone for the next twenty years of pop culture! The film predicts the Madonna Wanna-Be craze by *years*; there's nods to such programming as MTV and such shows as VH1's Behind the Music & Driven; it was co-written by the cool, great Jonathan Demme; it features early screen appearances by later screen/TV stars Laura Dern, Christine Lahti, Star Trek's Brent Spiner (has the line, "You're fired!" ever been uttered more emphatically on film??), Rugrats voice Elizabeth Daily, B-Movie Goddess Debbie Rochon, and it stars newly-minted Unfaithful Oscar nominee Diane Lane, in a performance arguably as solid as the one she's just been nominated for. SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?? Release the film on video/DVD already!!!
Simply Irresistible (1999)
I don't mind fantasy films. They hardly ever get made any more, and I know why: because no one, including the makers of this film, knows HOW to make them! It's mind-boggling how bad this film is! The whole thing with a fantasy film, as far as getting the audience into it, is to TELL US THE RULES! Was the Amanda character really cooking up a storm all of a sudden, or did any of it have to do with the funny man in the funny suit and hat, Gene O'Reilly, and the magic crab? And while we're on the subject, WHY a magic crab?!? WHAT did it have to do with ANYTHING?!? WHY did no one even QUESTION the magic crab?!?! Was it supposed to be her late mother or something?! C'mon, SOMEBODY give us SOMETHING!!
Oh, and I have to mention how this film is an insulting, uninspired, treacly rip-off of the main plot device of the film, "Like Water for Chocolate." That film explored true beauty, pain, and passion. This film merely explores how Todd Oldham looks on Gellar -- and how an entire film can be an infomercial for Manhattan's Henri Bendel department store!
I'm pretty sure Sarah Michelle Gellar made this movie both because it fit into her Buffy hiatus schedule and because it gave her a chance to be in New York over the summer. And it gave some very good New York-based actors -- including Buckley, Gilliard, and Clarkson, plus Durang -- a chance to add another film to their resumes. Well, good for her, good for them -- bad for us!!
It's somewhat ironic that both Gellar and her current fiance' Freddie Prinze Jr. have made these romantic films set in New York and centered on cooking -- but I enjoyed "Down to You" much more than this quick flick! Ugh!!!!
I Want My MTV (1996)
MTV: The First 15 Years
The assumption would be that a home video compilation of MTV promos is a complete waste of everyone's time. Why would anyone sit and watch a 45-minute videotape which is nothing but, well, commercials--?! But this videotape is an excellent encapsulation of the first fifteen years of MTV, reflecting its earliest struggles to be accepted within the homes of America, its blunt edginess and dare-to-be-different attitude, and the successes that led to the cable channel becoming the pop culture touchstone that it is today.
The videotape begins with MTV's first commercials from the early 1980s, in which the 24-hour music video cable channel was fighting for its life all but one American household at a time (because, as may have been forgotten in these present days of cable subscription packages, in the 1980s, cable channels were chosen by cable providers on the basis of *consumer* demand). Brilliantly, the promos used the very artists from the music videos themselves. Maybe their parents couldn't tell a Billy Idol from a David Bowie, or a Cyndi Lauper from a Pat Benatar, or a Sting from a Boy George, but the teenagers who saw these promos and begged their parents for the channel are the ones to truly thank for MTV's continued existence (Later, Sting more or less memorialized his band, The Police, being in their promo -- "Call your cable company/And say/I Want My MTV!" -- with co-writer Mark Knopfler in the Dire Straits song, "Money for Nothing").
As the tape continues on, you see how MTV took advantage of being in New York, a hotbed of artist creativity and diversion. Of course, at the center of every promo was the MTV logo, but I doubt the CBS eye or the NBC peacock will ever be envisioned, in either live-action or animated vignettes, as a sandwich, fried on a pancake (after a restaurant patron goes on a rant fest about grease), a dentist patient's teeth, a do-it-yourself metal shop project, as graffiti on a wall, as graffiti painted over the White House, as a huge "Godzilla"-like monster wreaking havoc on the city below, on the chest of a bosomy comic strip superheroine, as silver flying creatures, as a mad scientist's haircut, as a grisly decapitated head, or as the label on the can of an awful-tasting soda -- or in spots that reference classic painted works of art, or the montage from the film, "The Parallax View."
But beyond the logo circus is the long line of artists and personalities to which MTV gave valuable early exposure, including actors Jim "Randee of the Redwoods" Turner and Donal "Jimmy McBride the Cab Driver" Logue, poets Paul Beatty and Todd Colby, comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Judy Tenuta, and, most especially, Denis Leary.
But despite the popularity of Leary's hilarious black-and-white, in-your-face, chain-smoking monologues, the title of "Mr. MTV Promo" has to be handed over to actor Toby Huss. Now I know what you're thinking: "Who?!" But Huss put on any number of faces for MTV. He was the Frank Sinatra impersonator, suggesting how the Chairman of the Board would sing such 90s hits as "Insane in the Brain" (by hip-hop group Cypress Hill) and "Two Princes" (by rock group the Spin Doctors). For MTV's "Keeps You Plugged In" spots, Huss affected all manner of outfits and behaviors, including playing one very long horn, dressing (and trying to fly) like an angel, sticking an electrical plug up his nose, and wearing an S&M leather outfit and spanking a blindfolded fake ram. But surely his masterpiece is "Code Name: Cobalt," a pre-"Austin Powers" 1960s James Bond spy parody in which Huss plays nearly all the parts, including those of spy hero Cobalt, bad guy Bootsy, and his blonde lover laying in bed waiting for him. Huss is so campy and fun, and the device of him playing most of the parts so effective, that it makes you wish you had Mike Myers' phone number, so you could call and ask him point blank if "Cobalt" played any part in the creation of that "Austin Powers" movie, hmm?
Most noticeable about "Code Name: Cobalt" though, is how it makes no mention of MTV at all. By the 1990s, everyone was familiar with MTV and what it was, so MTV seemed to donate promo time to upcoming filmmakers, setting the stage for surely the most famous and recognized spot included here, 1992's "Joe's Apartment," a live action/animated film short about a young single guy living in a run-down apartment and the many, many, many cockroaches who are his friends and confidants. So popular and successful was it that it served as the basis for the 1996 film which starred well-known TV and film star, Jerry O'Connell.
Besides the entertainment value that these promos provide -- and the social commentary provided by other promos that touch on the topics of domestic violence, the Rodney King and Reginald Denny beatings, and the positives of turning your back on being in a gang -- there's also a clear evolution presented, from how MTV began and evolved, from being specialized niche television for rock music-loving teens, into a platform for up-and-coming artists, into the very source for mainstream pop culture. Becoming mainstream does mean that MTV has softened its previous edginess -- just compare the still hard-talking Leary to current nice guy MTV star Carson Daly -- but this tape clearly shows that MTV got there in perhaps the best way: pop culture caught up with it, as opposed to the other way around.
Ghoulies II (1988)
It's not Johnny Depp! Honest!!
And the joke was that Johnny Depp should sue Skeet Ulrich?! I charge that Damon Martin is worthy of an indictment or two. The film takes a good 15 minutes before giving you a close-up of Martin that reveals it *isn't* the Deppster. But during that first 15 minutes you'll seriously have your doubts!
Anyway, the ghoulies themselves are hilarious! Say what you want about these so-called cheap rubber puppets, but they have a lot of personality. Try not to laugh when, while receiving applause from a clueless bunch of carnival customers, they actually take a few bows!
The mix of comedy and horror tends more toward the latter at the end, but overall, it's a funny, bloody mess.
FYI: References to Tod Browning's "Freaks" abound, as the film's set in a traveling carnival.
A Swingin' Summer (1965)
Whatta sun-drenched bore!
Those user votes gotta be kiddin'! It was a few years back on an idle summer Saturday night that I caught this film on the USA Network cable channel. More happens in the tag line -- "Spread Out the Beach Towels...Grab Your Gals...it's gonna be A SWINGIN' SUMMER!" -- than in the entire film! The most strenuous thing the characters do is lay out those beach towels, and then its just unimaginative bickering along with coupling and uncoupling and recoupling serving as the plot. The only thing worse than the dialogue are the gawky jerky movements exhibited by the actors during the various musical numbers -- that's dancing?!? Anyway, yeah, the Righteous Brothers drop in, but by far the kickiest part of the movie is when Raquel Welch jumps on stage shakin', twistin', turnin' -- it's practically a revelation! In any case, it's more than this dreadful film deserves.
Ski Party (1965)
Even by the usual leave-your-brain-at-the-door-and-have-a-good-time standards of the beach party movies, this movie REEKS!The actors all deserve purple hearts of valor for even leaving this one on their resumes! Watch the film only to catch rare film appearances by James Brown and Lesley Gore.