Monday, November 24, 2014

J Lo, J Law, Scar Jo and ... who?

The habit of the media to reduce celebrity names to instantly recognizable marketing handles has led to some pretty ridiculous examples, so we made up a new one.

And so, in the proud tradition of J Lo...

and J Law...

 and Scar Jo...


We present...


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mike Nichols, 83


Filmmaker, standup comedian and theater director Mike Nichols has died at 83. A titanic chameleon — from nightclub stages with Elaine May to "Spamalot" — an incredible career.

The word legendary is bandied about too easily, but it applies here. He was a successor to George Abbott and Elia Kazan and Billy Wilder and others whose talents stretched across genres and media.


Friday, November 7, 2014

The Men From UNCLE



Apropos of nothing, here's a little bit of movie trivia that I just realized today.

There were two great male ensemble movies from the early 1960s that became a mainstay of American pop culture experience during the last 50 years: "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape." They always seemed related, of course, because Steve McQueen, Charlie Bronson and James Coburn appeared in both films.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Wins!

How the most rag-tag of holidays became the most important of them all.

By Lars Trodson



As Orson Welles so famously said, “That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian, it's Halloween!

By which Orson and I mean to say that it is now Halloween all year long. As children, we were admonished to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts everyday of the year. But no one is that cheerful. We barely celebrate the spirit of Christmas for an entire day anymore.

As it turns out, it’s much easier, perhaps because it more closely matches the dark heart of the world, to celebrate the dead and the undead. You would not be paranoid to believe that there is death all around us. The name is also great. Look at it. Look at the letters strung together. Halloween. We say it and see it so often that we forget what the word actually looks like. But if you take a second to actually read it, it seems even stranger still.

Halloween.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Sphinx Unearthed!

By Lars Trodson

It's true.

A team of esteemed archeaologists have spent years unearthing one of man's greatest and most mysterious treasures, the ancient Sphinx. The find has been soberly reported in major newspapers and and science journals this past week.

Only this Sphinx is the one that was built for Cecil B. DeMille's first version of "The Ten Commandments," which was made some 90 years ago in the ancient, mysterious town of Los Angeles. It's made of plaster and is in rough shape, being buried in sand and all (see: Original Sphinx.) But these scientists have brought it above ground, and the old artifact can now be seen by grateful future generations. It was, just as an aside, one of 23 Sphinxes built for the movie.



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Running the Empire



By Lars Trodson

I spent this past season as the manager of The Empire Theater, on Block Island, Rhode Island. The theater has a beautiful dark wood interior. There are two huge posters, one on each side of the screen, advertising live theatrical productions that were performed at the theater in the early 1900s, before the place started to show movies. There is a ticket booth that will conjure images of Fortune Tellers on Coney Island, and a concession stand that consists of one popcorn machine, a soda dispenser with no ice, and a glass candy display case that was built in Philadelphia in 1882 — the year the theater was first built as a roller skating rink. If you want espresso, green tea, or cheese nachos with your movie, then you’ll have to head to the mainland. 

The Empire only shows one film at a time, something that’s always clearly stated on the big marquee outside the theater, but no one reads any more. People ask if they should go left or right to see the movie they just paid for (there are two entrances to the one screen). And, yes, you have to pay in cash. More than one customer has left a down payment (completely unnecessary) as they run off to the nearest ATM machine in order to get enough cash to pay for their bloc of tickets.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Richard Schickel's "The Stars"


By Lars Trodson

Writer's note: I didn't notice this at the time of publication of this article, but the late Lauren Bacall was not included in the list of stars that Schickel wrote about in the book review that follows. It does not seem to me that this is an egregious omission, because her fame, as considerable as it may be, is based primarily on her associations rather than her accomplishments (at least in film). She first appeared in the glorious Hollywood of the 1940s, and she was married to a man, Humphrey Bogart, some consider the greatest of all movie stars. But when "The Stars" was published in 1962, Bacall had already receded from the limelight. She was, even in her heyday, very rarely the focus of the films she appeared in. She was third-billed in 1953's "How To Marry A Millionaire," and by the time she was 50 she was appearing in matronly roles (the widow in John Wayne's final film "The Shootist.") 

The fact is she could pack a wallop when she needed to. She was beautiful, sexy, smart, and she certainly made the 1940s glitter. We're so bereft of women that hold more than one of those qualities in films today that, even though she made her first cultural impact 70 years ago, her legacy is a hard one to meet. Who today could hold her own with someone like Bogart?