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jimwhittaker02

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6 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!, 15 January 2006
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first five years of Saturday Night Live set the tone, and the bar, for the cultural institution that followed. In 1975, no outlet existed on television for the comic sensibilities of the counterculture. Baby boomers were being given a watered-down taste of the times with the Carol Burnett Show, Sonny and Cher and the Bob Hope specials. When Johnny Carson announced that he would prefer not to have Tonight Show reruns shown on the weekend, NBC President Herbert Schlosser proposed starting a late-night variety show that would appeal to young people. Although network research suggested that the show's intended audience would never stay home on Saturday night, the project was approved, and late-night programming head Dick Ebersol contacted a young Canadian producer and Monty Python enthusiast named Lorne Michaels.

Writers were hired and cast members auditioned, including some of the best talent from National Lampoon and Second City and Groundlings improv groups. With sketches that touched on edgy topics of sexuality and drugs and rock groups as the musical guests (then shunned by the Tonight Show), NBC's Saturday Night quickly became television's only mirror for its young, intelligent audience. Chevy Chase quickly skyrocketed to fame, and the other cast members soon followed, with John Belushi parlaying his gonzo persona into success with Animal House and a number one album with the Blues Brothers. With its reputation for both quirky repeated characters (the Coneheads, the Czech Brothers) and a willingness to present the unexpected (Andy Kaufman, Michael O'Donoghue's Mr. Mike), Saturday Night Live became a creative force as important as Your Show of Shows and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

This documentary is an oral history of the show's groundbreaking beginnings, told by the cast members, crew, producers and executives that made it happen. Anecdotes are illustrated with many clips from early sketches and musical acts and photos from the time. The cast members are discussed in individual segments, interspersed with a run-down of each of the first five years, including favorite moments, battles with the censors, and even original audition clips. The DVD makes a wonderful companion piece to the unrelated SNL interview book "Live From New York" by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, and is well worth watching by anyone who watched the show during its formative years or wonders how it all began.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
"Say something outrageous.", 12 November 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sex Pistols Number 1 is a compilation of TV clips from 1976 and 1977 intended to present the group and the punk rock scene visually, apart from the music. The short film was shown at Sex Pistols concerts from April 3, 1977 (at Screen on the Green, London) through January 14, 1978 (the last show in San Francisco). The film is a powerful document of the group's effect on the media; interviews and live clips are inter-cut with television presenters treating punk rock as either a fad or a disgrace, including the infamous Bill Grundy incident on live TV. The film includes: Sid Vicious telephone interview on "Rodney on the ROQ," 2/13/77; "Nationwide" (BBC) 11/12/76- "Anarchy in the UK" and punk fans (Sue Catwoman, Siouxsie, etc.); "Derek Nimmo" (BBC) March 1977 in Seditionaries; Yorkshire TV 12/6/76 interview with Malcolm McLaren at Leeds; "London Weekend Show" (LWT) 11/28/76- Janet Street-Porter interview with group at Denmark Street flat; Caerphilly 12/14/76- religious protesters; Leeds Polytechnic Dean interview 12/6/76 before show; "Today" (Thames) 12/1/76- Concert clip of "No Fun" (filmed 11/15/76 at Notre Dame Hall) and live Bill Grundy interview with cursing; "So It Goes" (Granada) 9/4/76- "Anarchy in the UK" (introduced by Jordan); "God Save the Queen"- Studio song over newsreel footage of Queen Elizabeth II and Sex Pistols, with end credits. (Note- Sex Pistols Number 1 was released on VHS video in 1988 by Iceworld Video under the title Sex Pistols- Buried Alive.)

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sex Pistols Number 1 video release, 12 November 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sex Pistols- Buried Alive is the 1988 Iceworld Video release of the 1977 short Sex Pistols Number 1. The 25 minute film, a compilation of TV clips, was shown at Sex Pistols shows in 1977 and 1978, including the band's final show at Winterland. The tape was sold in record stores and by mail order. Iceworld later released a followup compilation tape titled Sex Pistols- Decade: A Look Back. The 30-minute tape included 1980s interviews with John Lydon (with his hair in orange rasta balls) and Malcolm McLaren. Also included are more Sex Pistols clips and punk TV ads. The first tape is essential viewing; the second is recommended for collectors only.

13 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
A Musical Dream Come True, 1 January 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the greatest rock musical of all time. It succeeds on every aesthetic level; the cast is a wonderful collection of cartoonish eccentrics, the premise combines the adventurousness of experimental theatre (The Rocky Horror Show) with the fun of film and musical popular culture, the songs are all catchy and beautifully arranged, and the costumes and sets are inventively quirky.

The overwhelming creativity of the film has its roots in the hit London stage musical, Richard O'Brien's exuberant first work. After quitting the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar over creative differences, O'Brien set out to write a rock musical that would combine all the things that "give you a buzz," from science-fiction and horror films to comedy and glam rock. Impressed by Alice Cooper's recent concert assaults on London, O'Brien created what he originally called an "Alice Cooper type Frankenstein" character named Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who would build a blond muscleman for his own pleasure. Tim Curry assumed the role in the 1973 London play, sharing the stage with O'Brien, Little Nell, Patricia Quinn and Jonathan Adams. Behind the scenes were director Jim Sharman, production designer Brian Thomson, musical arranger Richard Hartley and costume designer Sue Blane, all of whom brought their considerable creativity to the production. The core members of the Rocky Horror stage family went on to create the film, building on a year's worth of theatrical innovation.

Transferring Rocky Horror to the medium of film allowed the concept to take on a dreamlike quality. The film's tone is satire; Richard O'Brien enjoyed the dialogue of classic science-fiction films, where actors were called on to say outlandish lines with straight faces. The songs are integrated (not "backstage") musical numbers, which advance the plot. All of the characters are seduced or controlled by Frank, but his influence does not end with them. The film is at its most subversive when Frank talks and sings directly to the camera; the technique is a tribute to Jean-Luc Godard, Jim Sharman's favorite director.

In the film, "Sweet Transvestite" Frank is given a glamorous, Joan Crawford-like film star appearance, and speaks in a feminine voice (with an upper-class Knightsbridge accent). When he/she gazes into the camera and beckons "Give yourself over to absolute pleasure," his message is not meant only for his poolside partners, but for us. As the bisexual mad doctor commences his final descent into decadence, his "moral" subduers are portrayed as similarly decadent hypocrites, offering up Frank as a sexual martyr. We are left in the swirling mists with Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott, forced to reconsider our own inhibitions. But first, Let's do the Time Warp again!

13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Here are The Beatles!, 20 November 2004
10/10

The Beatles at Shea Stadium documents the band's groundbreaking concert for 55,600 screaming New York fans on August 15, 1965. Made as a TV special using 12 cameramen, the film gives a comprehensive picture of what the event was like, including: setting up the stage, The Beatles' helicopter flyover (they weren't allowed to land on the baseball field, so they had to land on the World's Fair building and travel to the stadium in an armored truck), some of the opening acts (Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Sounds Incorporated), tuning up in the dressing room, and most of the actual Beatles show (two songs were edited for time). Introduced onstage by Ed Sullivan (they had taped an appearance on his show the day before), The Beatles ran across the ball field to the stage in their new, Help!-style beige military jackets to play to what was then the largest crowd ever at a rock 'n' roll show. The Beatles give their all to entertain the distant, cheering crowd, occasionally cracking up at the sheer enormity of the event.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Sharman speaks!, 3 April 2004
10/10

This delightful documentary was originally produced for the 20th Anniversary laser disc in 1995, and was later added to the 25th Anniversary double DVD. Although short, it covers a brief history of the Rocky Horror Show play, and includes many interesting insights from director Jim Sharman and set designer Brian Thomson (who speak directly to the camera, in true Godard/Rocky Horror style), as well as brief interviews with most of the film's cast. The interviews were mostly taped on October 31, 1985 at the Beacon Theatre in New York before the 10th Anniversary party, except for Curry, Meat Loaf and Adler, who were taped in 1990 at the 15th Anniversary in L.A., and Sharman and Thomson, who were taped in Sydney, Australia in 1995. It makes a wonderful accompanying piece to the 1999 "Rocky Horror Picture Show" episode of VH1's Behind the Music, which featured longer interviews with O'Brien, Sarandon, Bostwick, Meat Loaf, Richard Hartley, Christopher Biggins, and Fan Club President Sal Piro among others (as well as clips from the rare 1975 "Making of Rocky Horror" featurette). Both contribute greatly to the legacy of the film (the DVD includes interviews done for Behind the Music, but not the entire hour-long program)