Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jack Kirby's Least Used Best

This is a fun list of some of Jack Kirby's craziest (in the good sense) concepts, most of which I had forgotten or somehow missed.  The planet that is so evil it has devil horns is especially audacious, but they're all pretty amazing.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Silence: Feel Good Movie of Never!

THE SILENCE: Another entry in the Germanic/Norwegian noir category popularized by "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", but the "The Silence" is less thriller than it is a somber mediation on loneliness.  It opens with two 30-ish guys coming up on a teenage girl... one of the men attacks, rapes and murders the girl while the other watches in mute horror/fascination.  When it's done, the "accomplice" packs up his stuff and leaves his murderous friend, but does not call the police.

23 years later, another young girl is murdered in exactly the same way.  In a slow build, we find the accomplice in an entirely different space, shocked that there's been another murder.  The cop who investigated but never solved the old murder has just retired but wants to help with the investigation, and the mother of the first victim continues to grieve over her daughter.  On top of that, another cop on the case is suffering a near nervous breakdown after the death of his wife from cancer five months earlier.  Like my title line suggests, it's not exactly the Three Stooges...

How all these characters eventually come into one another's orbit is the slow genius of the movie.  The why of the second murder becomes the signature question, and I'm pleased to say that there actually is an answer and it is simultaneously surprising, sad and compelling.

It's not exactly light viewing, but "The Silence" is beautifully shot and remains true to its subject matter... as in, there's no last act car chase.  The blu-ray comes with two short films by the same director (I haven't seen them yet) and cast/crew commentary...        

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Nilsson Alert!! As In Harry Nilsson...

So RCA's just released a 17 CD box-set collecting all 14 of Harry Nilsson's RCA albums + 3 discs of extras, all in cool cardboard "LP" sleeves.  Having all of Nilsson's material in one handy little box is great news unto itself, but what makes this set "must have" are the three CDs of (mostly) unreleased demos, unreleased tracks and etc.  If you're not familiar with Harry Nilsson -- well you should be!  The album "Nilsson Schmilsson" is a flat out classic, one of those 100 albums you must hear before you die.  Nilsson's songs range from rockers to tin-pan alley to spine-tingling ballads.  Mostly, you need to hear this guy for his voice, which will send chills down your spine (in all the good ways). 

Nilsson had his ups and downs -- sadly more downs as the 70's wound into the 80's.  His story is well told in the excellent documentary "Who Is Harry Nilsson and Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?", but I'm focusing on the music here.  Which is mostly great.  I'm still plowing through the collection, but the solo piano demos for Nilsson Schmilsson (most of which were released in the U.K. a few years ago) are stunning and practically worth the $99-ish price for the set on their own.  Good stuff worth supporting! 

New Stuff!

Been reinforcing the concrete slab under our house to handle the influx of "stuff."  Among the latest arrivals:

BOY AND HIS DOG (blu-ray):  Harlan Ellison's classic novella as adapted by non other than L.Q. Jones, perhaps best known for his scuzzy roles in various Sam Peckinpah movies (Tector in The Wild Bunch!) and... well, for this.  In the year 2024 (only nine years away!) a nuclear war has scoured the Earth and the last rag-tag survivors run around scavenging old canned goods and being mean to one another.  A very young Don Johnson plays Vic, a horny-as-hell kid who hangs on the periphery of all the bad stuff, desperate for sex.  Vic has an edge on the rest of the survivors because he's developed a telepathic connection with his cute and very sardonic dog Blood, who protects Vic while insulting him in amusing ways.  "Adventures ensue."  This new master looks amazing -- and I always liked both the look of this movie (Mad Max four years before Mad Max) and the sardonic, cynical tone.  The disc also comes with a cool recent interview/"conversation" between L.Q. Jones and Harlan Ellison that explores how the picture came together.  Good stuff.

THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN (blu-ray): On the other hand... amusingly, both Boy and his Dog and Melting Man open with stock footage of fiery explosions.  Nuclear bombs in Boy, sun flares in Incredible.  However that's pretty much where the similarities end.  70's horror fans have an affection for Melting Man because of the grisly early make-up effects by Rick Baker, who was coming off the DeLaurentis King Kong at the time and who admits in one of the DVD extras that he wasn't sure this picture was a good career move.  But he made what he considered an outrageous bid for the make-up job and to his surprise they agreed, so this incredible guy?  He friggin' MELTS.  And melts.  And melts.  There isn't much story here, an astronaut gets fried by solar radiation and when he gets back to Earth he starts to, well, you know.  Evidently melting makes a guy real pissy and homicidal, and most of the movie features our titular character rampaging the low budget countryside killing people.  Toward the end a character begs the cops not to shoot Meltie because "the more he melts, the stronger he gets!"  But that scientific observation is eventually proven inaccurate.  Besides the Rick Baker interview, the disc also features an interview with director/writer William Sachs, who claims the producers ruined his vision -- he wanted to make a black comedy and they wanted straight horror.  What they wound up with was a very cheap, sadly boring movie with some gloppy make-up FX.  My two favorite parts: the opening title is "The Incredible Melting Man," followed by "Starring Alex Rebar as The Incredible Melting Man."  Poor dude (whose character name is actually "Steve") doesn't even get a name in the credits.  And then there's the ending, which suggests the comedic tone that Mr. Sachs claimed to be aiming for.  Otherwise, this is one of those "thank God for fast forward" curiosities...

BULLET IN THE HEAD (blu-ray):  Walter Hill teams up with Sylvester Stallone for a 70's style guns and gangsters movie, but sadly this one's a misfire.  Stallone plays an assassin who wants revenge on the really nasty guys (I'm looking at you, Jason Conan-guy Momoa) who killed his partner.  Stallone winds up joining forces with a cop played by Korean actor Sung Kang.  Stallone SMASH.  Mayhem ensues, just not particularly interesting mayhem, and it's capped by one of my least favorite gangster movie tropes, the absurd "bad guy kills all his own guys" scene.  Everyone involved has made WAY better movies so chalk this one up as "ehh" and hope for better next time...

Friday, August 02, 2013

Children Of Paranoia And Me!

So my next project has FINALLY been announced -- I'm adapting Trevor Shane's excellent "Children of Paranoia" for CBS Films, working with producer Akiva Goldsman.  C of P is a thriller with awesome twists and turns, and a very emotional story at the chewy center.  As happens in the world of show-biz it's taken 2 1/2 years of pursuing, pitching, deal-making and now, finally, writing to make this happen -- but it's worth it.   

Since it ain't official until it appears in Nikke Finke, here's the piece: