Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blackthorn and Human Centipede 2: The Ultimate Double Bill!

Get sick, watch some movies. Grabbing whatever was on top of the stack, first up was BLACKTHORN, starring Sam Shepherd as an older and wiser Butch Cassidy. When Butch is sort-of robbed by a charismatic Spanish thief, the two form a friendship while being chased by a same version of the "who ARE those guys?" posse that tracked the original Butch and Sundance in the brilliant William Goldman/George Hill movie. It would be very tough to measure up to that film, but Blackthorn is less homage to the old hit than a throwback to the Randolph Scott/Budd Boetticher "loner" movies like THE TALL T. It's deliberately paced (which is different than "slow") and I could watch a), almost any Western and b) Sam Shepherd read the phone book, so it worked for me.

HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 is more or less everything BLACKTHORN is not. Bizarre, raunchy, grotesque, repulsive, and that's just the poster. I'll be honest, I didn't actually wade through the entire movie. Sometimes fast forward can be your friend. I am assuming most reader know the original was about some loon mad scientist stitching together victims to form one long "digestive track." Suffice to say part two is about a creepy little man who grows obsessed with the original Centipede film and decides to replicate the surgical procedure, except sans the "medical accuracy" of the original. It is endlessly, gratuitously violent, degrading and taboo breaking (hello there, pregnant Centipede part!) -- but other than appreciating that someone would actually get out of bed to film a guy smashing out someone's teeth with a hammer and chisel, there ain't much there there. Frankly I was more interested in the special features, which show some of the make-up and FX involved in suturing/stapling ten people face to butt. With some relief I can report that each chunk of Centipede is equipped with a fake bottom. And that the actors seem to be enjoying themselves, though being on your hands and knees for hours can't be THAT fun. Director Tom Six claims he wanted part 2 to make the original look like "My Little Pony", and I guess if that's the bar he more or less succeeded. He also claims to be working on part 3. Go for it, buddy, but I think I'll sit the next one out...

Kill List The Movie

So let's say you have this list of folks you want to kill? * How would you go about getting it done? Probably NOT the way the characters tackle the problem in KILL LIST, a recent U.K. feature effort. It does a disservice to the movie to go into too much detail, but suffice to say that following some excruciating domestic squabbling, a hit-man and his buddy meet with some folks who give them their next assignment(s). Things go awry from there. For those with of a more delicate nature, be warned there is some fairly graphic violence. For those who think A SERBIAN FILM is a comedy, you won't be terribly impressed.

What I can say with some certainty that you will not see where this one is going. I certainly didn't, though I'm not sure that's a good thing. The ultimate resolution seemed rather random to me. I don't need the world spelled out, but this one is so baffling that... well, it left me flummoxed. And that is not a word I pull out at the drop of my Santorum-scorned college-educated hat!

* Please note that this blog does not encourage such behavior.

What A Snob!

Just when you think this Republican Presidential race has reached an apex of nadirs... here Rick Santorum accuses President Obama of being a "snob" because he encourages kids to go to college. Eliciting much agreement and amusement from his audience. So we now have a nominal frontrunner for President of the United States who is against prenatal care, contraception and thinks trying to get an education makes you a "snob." We live in interesting times, he said, struggling to hold back a college-educated spew of expletives...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back To The Blog!

Suffice to say I've had a busy few weeks, culminating with wrapping up my work on Falling Skies season two (it looks great!) and embarking on a new adventure that shall be announced very soon. Let's see if I can catch up on past events...

I had a great time working with director Adam Kane on episode 209 of Falling Skies season two. Guest stars Terry O'Quinn (from a little show called "Lost"), Matt Frewer (famous for "Max Headroom" and more recently Mr. Spielberg's mini-series "Taken") and Ty Olsson (from Battlestar Galactica) joined our fabulous cast for an episode that takes the 2nd Mass in a new direction -- or does it? You'll find out sometime this Summer! I also enjoyed my weeks in Vancouver B.C., a lovely town...

After wrapping my episode, I sojourned down to Seattle and the Battlestar Galactibash at the EMP Science Center. I joined writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, plus composer Bear McCreary and director Michael Nankin to discuss BSG and check out their great exhibit. I had a lot of fun meeting BSG fans (I count myself among them!) and catching up on the latest BSG news.

And now... the soon to be announced "next thing." Onward!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

When Creators Collide

I have no dog in this hunt whatsoever, but I was taken by the dueling blog posts between writer John Rozum and artist Scott McDaniel over the unfortunate creative process that developed while they were working on a recent DC comic series (Static Shock). Rozum felt cut out of the creative process early on and went public because he felt his writing career was taking a hit from the failure of a book that he essentially wasn't allowed to write. McDaniel, who was plotting and then more or less writing the book, went public in rebuttal, posting a lengthy piece on how things started well and then went very very bad. I suspect the moment when artist McDaniel pulled out a Robert McKee screenwriting book and read a passage to Rozum to make a point about writing craft was a special low point...

I've made it a personal policy of never broadcasting my creative disagreements publicly. (Sit me down with a drink, and I'll regale you with many a tale... but I will never put them into print/blog form). This doesn't mean I've never had creative disagreements -- there have been plenty, believe me. I've received sole credit on several television episodes that make me cringe -- because there are elements in the show that I didn't write and worse, really don't like. But I can't append pop-up balloons explaining "this stupid dialogue was NOT MINE!" or "yes, I know that plot twist was convenient, explain that to the other guy!" And as time rolls on I have the absurd confidence that I've done enough okay stuff not to sweat it when the odd clunker comes along. In the words of producer Larry Gordon, when confronted with the failure of a project: "next!" Some ask why I didn't remove my name from most egregious examples. Well, since residuals are tied to credit, that would be adding financial insult to creative injury. Or, to put it more bluntly, if I have to suffer the critical slings and arrows, then I'm damn well going to get paid for it!

(By the way, not to get too full of myself here, I have also written episodes where I cheerfully take personal responsibility for the odd clunker lines and/or bit that didn't quite work. But overall I'm more or less sanguine with my produced "stuff"...)

Anyway, I'm not sure either of the aggrieved parties in the Static Shock situation did themselves any favors by rinsing their dirty laundry in public. I understand that Rozum felt his career was taking an unfair hit because his name was attached to a high profile underachiever. And I understand McDaniel not wanting to let it go. It's just too bad it went that south in the first place, I guess. Links to the various blogs can be found in this post from Heidi McDonald's great site --