Friday, December 25, 2015

Different Shades of Royalty: Five Underrated Bruce Campbell Performances

When you think of Bruce Campbell, what do you imagine?  A working-class shmoe cutting up demons with a chainsaw?  A cowboy-lawyer who talks to his horse?  A mojito drinking former navy SEAL with a loyalty streak a mile wide?  Or an elderly Elvis trying to make one last stand and redeem all of his terrible life choices with a single act that will save the humanity of his fellow rest home citizens? 

Well, here are several little known or overlooked Campbell performances that often get overlooked when people talk about his career.   Get out your Netflix Ques and take a look at this list of semi-obscure look at the best and most unknown of the chin's kingdom.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Staggering Genius of Mabel Pines: Five Reasons Why Gravity Falls is Amazing And Why It Will Be Sorely Missed

Yesterday, Alex Hirsch announced the conclusion of the Disney show Gravity Falls, to the astonishment of its strong fanbase.   The show has been a popular fixture on Disney’s XD channel for the past year and a half, and the program will conclude with its second season and the last two episodes that will tie up the Weirdmageddon cliffhanger.

Just what’s made Gravity Falls so popular?  There’s a handful of factors operating here, most of them gloriously unique – and they come together to make one heck of a show.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Rainbow Disconnection: Why Are The Muppets Failing?

It started out in a bubble of goodwill as the most anticipated show of the fall, with a great preview package and gangbuster ratings.  But along the way it seemed to lose its buzz and its ratings, requiring a mid-run EP switch and garnering it bubble status six episodes into its run.  What happened?  How did the good times go so wrong?

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Ten Most Essential Rifftrax of All Time

Over five years ago, Rifftrax was established by Mike Nelson, offering audio commentaries to be played alongside big budget  mainstream motion pictures, In the way they never could due to budget constraints on MST3K.  He was eventually joined by Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, and the business eventually expanded to include downloads for full-length motion pictures and shorts as well as live events.

The series has an achingly funny back catalog and here, in my opinion, are the best of the best that they have to offer.

WARNING: The list under the cutline is very video-intensive!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Play MiSTing For me: the lost art of the MiST.

Marissa Flores Picard everybody

There was a time long ago – okay, maybe ten years or less – where MST3K fans gathered together and created a form of fanfiction that is not only entirely unique to the genre, but one that spread throughout various fandoms and gave birth to sporking culture.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Join Us, Won't You?: 10 Little Life Lessons I’ve Learned From MST3K

Some people get their life instructions from little books about chicken soup.  I get mine from watching Robots banter with movies on satellites.  But what have they taught me?  Read on to find out.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

MST3K Half-Month: Of Satellites: How watching Robots make fun of Bad Movies Shaped My Sense of Humor

I still remember my first riff.  

I was about fifteen, my parents were out of town and I was on Easter break.  MST3K had just begun airing in syndication; I had been deprived of the show for years  because our cable company didn’t have Comedy Central (and it wouldn’t for another three years).   It was somewhere past midnight when I turned on what would one day be my local CW affiliate and heard it: “the hat from Breakfast at Tiffany's is coming in for a landing.”  I would later learn that that was Mary Jo Pehl’s first ever riff for the show, and when Pearl Forrester became my favorite character it felt like kismet.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Laverne & Squiggy & Chuck & Rhonda: The Bizarre Last Season of Laverne and Shirley

Here’s a little confession – I love Laverne and Shirley.  Yes, it’s goofy, broad and quite behind the times (avoid The Bully Show at all costs), but there’s something about watching two women struggle against the odds to figure out who they are and survive in an environment that is considerably hostile to them, two single women trying to date.  For all of the traditionalism that soaks into the narrative through the girls’ pursuit of guys and marriage, there are just as many episodes (“The Feminine Mistake” and “2001: A Sitcom Odyssey”) that served as a burgeoning support pillars for the nascent feminist movement that was just trying to grasp the concept that it was okay to want a fair wage, stay unmarried and be less than classically feminine.

The show suffered through some growing pains on its way to the eighth season.  Running out of fresh material, they chose to move the girls to Los Angeles, take them into the 60s and submerge them into the culture of the swinging, movie-mad era of the time.  The girls go from worshiping Fabian to lusting after the Beatles, but little else changes besides the size of their set and the introduction of a flighty-surfaced/iron cored blonde actress/dancer/model named Rhonda Lee

Then Cindy Williams became pregnant, and the show dealt with that fact very poorly.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Five Most Forgotten (and secretly most awesome) Parody Films in Existence

Humor is a very, very subjective subject.    What’s funny to one person definitely won’t be funny to another, but some parody films (Young Frankenstein, Airplane!, Not Another Teen Movie, Blazing Saddles and Naked Gun, for example) have stood the test of time and become universally beloved.  That said, some movies that are pretty darn good in this genre that have either been critically derided or completely ignored.  These are the top five most obscure – and achingly funny – parody movies you might not have heard of.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Five Least Necessary Sequels Ever

Film sequels can be divvied up into neat piles.  There are the ones that arrive at the perfect time, with something to say and a theme to build on from its origin film (The Empire Strikes Back, if you please).  There are those that are misbegotten from the very start and leave the audience sitting in their seats scratching their heads (Stayin’ Alive and its odd plot choices).  Still yet there are sequels that get greenlit ten plus years after the first film and arrive before surprised and occasionally horrified audiences (Dumb and Dumber To, rise and take a bow).  Some sequels – even worse -  feature none of the original elements or stars that made the first one so successful (Grease 2) .  But some are special; some fall into the category of being unnecessary because the first film in the series was so satisfying, so complete, that a sequel feels like a desecration. 

Below are the five most unnecessary of that bunch, in my little opinion.  I’ve tried to be a little less obvious with my choices, but some chestnuts cannot resist a good roasting.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Matrimony Month(s): The Notebook versus The Wedding: Love As Tragic Farce In Nicholas Spark’s Mild Kingdom

The late 0’s to the early 10’s were an odd time.  Spurred on by war, famine and fear on all fronts, weary Americans turned toward simplistic, homespun entertainment to comfort them.  All of a sudden, and completely out of the blue, romances were all about tradition, and all about weeping again.

Maritmony Month(s): Mama Mia!: Loud Trope Subversion, ABBA and Fireworks in Greece

It took nearly ten more years after My Big Fat Greek Wedding for another big, splashy ‘feel good’ movie about marriage to hit the big screen – in this case a filmed version of the enormous Broadway jukebox classic “Mama Mia.”

Hitting theaters in 2008, the big-budget film came at the very tail end of the movie musical revival begun by Chicago’s 2002 Oscar win.  There were a handful of highlights and lowlights in the genre leading up to Mama Mia before the genre would receive another mini-revival with 2012’s Les Miserables update.  As for Mama Mia itself –and its POV on marriage and romance – the story is simple.  And complicated.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Matrimony Month: Muriel’s Wedding: Sisterhood in the ‘90’s Romance Oeuvre

The flipside of the traditional values renaissance brought to life by movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the anti-traditionalism brought to life by movies as diverse as the critically reviled The Next Best Thing and the critically acclaimed Muriel’s Wedding.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Matrimony Month(s): My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the Resurgence of "Traditional" Cinematic Romance

The 90s brought about something of a sea change in romantic movies.  Pretty Women led the charge, and Cindarella – sometimes with a fresh coat of feminist paint as in “Ever After – emerged as a fresh role model.  If the 80s were all about individualism, then the 90’s brought about a resurgence of traditional romance, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding leading the charge.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is as traditional a movie marriage plot can get and yet it is ostensibly about rejecting tradition…at least at first.  Toula is a lonely spinster stuck working at her parent’s Greek restaurant.  She falls for a regular customer, but her true motivation is independence – from her parent’s traditional values, from the pressure of marrying a Greek boy, from the expectation that she’ll be working at the family diner all her life.  Toula breaks free, taking classes, cutting her hair, and marrying a WASPy teacher…and marries him in a traditional Greek ceremony for which her fiancé has to convert.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Matrimony Month: Arthur, Coming To America and Overboard: Identity Porn in 80s Romance

The dawn of the 80s meant something new and fresh was in the air.  Marriage and romance had to be treated differently; we lived in a world where women had joined the workforce, where girls were told that they could be anyone, do anything, as they were raised.  This resulted in comedies about divorced people finding themselves; movies about second chances and balancing career and romance.  The schism between Mr. Mom and Heartburn is endemic of the decade they belonged to; everyone was suffering from growing pains, and everyone was trying to figure out how to adjust to the new international moral code.

Is it surprising that the pursuit of love turned away from marriage and toward different aspects of love?  The foreboding inherent in divorce dramas like Kramer vs Kramer gave way to a wave of fluffy teen romances like Pretty in Pink and Valley Girl, to soft romantic fantasy like Splash and Mannequin, and to complicated romantic and erotic psychodramas like 9 ½ Weeks and Wild Orchid.

Is it any wonder that the more marital-minded romances of the 80s had something of an identity crises going on and that the question ‘for love or money?’ could not have been asked more loudly during the Gordon Gecko years?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

REVIEW: Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn #1 and Vampirella/AOD #1

Two weeks ago, Space Goat Productions finally released the first part of its licensed Evil Dead 2 comic, and the result was magical. 

Painted in cool blue tones and popping reds by Chris Summers (and drawn in a refreshingly non-sexualized manner by Barnaby Bagenda and Oscar Bazaldua), the comic takes a right fork from Annie Knowby’s fate at the end of Evil Dead 2.  Surviving her stabbing-by-magic-dagger-and-severed-hand, Annie and the rest of the cabin fall together through the earth and into hell, and that’s where the fun begins.

Matrimony Month: The 70s, Barbara Streisand and the resurrection of the weeper

Love Story seemed to open up the romantic floodgates for the Me generation; even when they were sarcastically declaiming love in movies like Heartburn, they were by now more often than not also supporting films like “Somewhere in Time”, a time-travel drama featuring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, and watching movies like The Thorn Birds on tv.  In short, they had begun tumbling into the bourgeois trap they swore they’d avoid years ago en masses.  Though many would go on to divorce multiple times, they seemed to realize that romance was an inescapable steamroller – they might as well embrace it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Matrimony Month: Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry to Missus Robinson: The Graduate, Love Story, and how the 60’s Generation Inadvertently Slew Romantic Sarcasm by the Dawn of the 70s

The sixties meant change.  Change in the bedroom, the boardroom, the streetcorner and of course your local movie theatre.  With the code breaking and independent zeitgeist films breaking through into the mainstream and winning money and Oscars, every genre was transformed.  There were outsider comedies, dramas….and, of course, romantic pictures.

This new generation of lovers-to-be had about a million different points of view on love.  The first reaction was cynicism; falling in love was something squares did, a symptom of a bourgeois society, and the antithesis of free love.  Novels like The Harrad Experiment demanded open relationships and free love, while other movies – like the 1967 proto-slacker dramady The Graduate – mocked the idea of love, peace and those old wedding bells as the solution to everything.   This is a decade that had Dr. Zhivago, Easy Rider and The Graduate all released within ten turbulent years; that’s a lot of different ways to look at love.

Matrimony Month: The Quiet Man: Or Everyone Loves John Wayne, So Why Don’t You?

The Wayne/O'Hara gestalt in a nutshell

Last week I discussed the way marriage was handled in several movie made by that archetype of Fifties glamour, Marilyn Monroe. This week, I thought I’d take a look at one specific film in the canon of another archetype of 50s Hollywood: John Wayne. 

Wayne basically sculpted the tough man/cowboy archetype during his time in the spotlight; in many of his movies he does indeed get the girl, though in iconic pieces such as “The Searchers” and “True Grit”, all he has is his integrity.  Perhaps that’s why when we look back on “The Quiet Man” and “McClintock!” his two most explicitly marriage – minded movies, one is struck by the breathtaking scenery and the jaw-grinding misogyny all at once.   Being romanced by a square-jawed hero in a pristine Irish landscape is a fine enough fantasy to have, but when you have to enter into a nonstop battle of the sexes to get respect from your own husband the price feels mighty high.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Matrimony Month: What Would the Girls in Little Rock Say?: Marilyn on Marrying, itching and husband hunting

But the fifties were never as simplistic as they seem to be on the surface.  If “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” represents a world where women are placated with a smile and a bow, where being a housewife is the best and most important thing a girl can be, then the world of Marilyn Monroe’s movies from the same general period of time are in retrospect a feminist answer to such morays.  In “The Seven Year Itch”, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” , “Bus Stop” and “How to Marry a Millionaire”, Marilyn’s characters dance through the screwball motions of comedic buffoonery on her way to snagging (or losing, or even ignoring) men, but they have something to say: treat me with respect, or lose me forever.

Matrimony Month: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Gabba Gabba One of Us

One of my father’s favorite movies is “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.    It neatly encapsulates his world view: the women are spirited and yet they “know” their places in the household, the men are rugged and a little dumb but always right.  Everything’s solved with chemistry and songs, and even the heaviest of subjects can be laughed about.

He’s also a John Wayne fan, are you surprised yet?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Matrimony Month: Adam’s Rib: Tracy, Hepburn, and the Politics of the Code

The 40s brought on a significant cultural shift in America.    The 20’s and 30’s were, within reason, something of a freewheeling period for cinema.  Unfortunately, Hollywood underwent a combination of a series of major scandals and severe pushback from the moral majority.  Thus began the  Production Code era, in which good guys were very good, bad guys were very bad, and a certain sense of morality was upheld by force, fiction be damned.

In the middle of all of this, at the very height of the production code, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy teamed up to deliver a series of movies that both questioned and confirmed the odd morality of the era.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Matrimony Month: It: Or The Surprising Modernism of Betty Lou Spence

“Sweet Santa Claus, give me him!”  With those immortal words, Betty Lou Spence burst to life and onto screens worldwide in the first romantic movie of the modern era, ‘It’.

And shockingly modern it was.  While Mary Pickford was still playing children and Lillian Gish was terminally wreathed in a halo of curls and lace, Clara Bow stepped onscreen and showed the world what sex appeal was – and gave girls a plan for modern marriage-seeking that was fresh and new for the era.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Brides are Busting Out All Over: A Two-Month Tribute to Brides, Those Who Ran Away and Those Who Stayed An Introduction

This month on that Bouvier Girl we’ll be examining marriage in its varied forms – via examination of three disparate but linkable films in which gals want to (or don’t want to ) be married and their cultural impact.

The films examined will be:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Women Behind The Men Month: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Women Behind the Men month concludes with the bestselling The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain.

It is, by all accounts, not easy to deal with the prima-donna ego and keep your own sense of self alive.  Imagine what it was like being married to Ernest Hemingway, the loudest, most braggadocious ego in the room, machismo personified.  Hadley Richardson managed to do that and more, thriving under their marital bonds, becoming an able helpmeet who managed to get Hemingway’s work sold and inspire his heroine in “The Sun also Rises” to boot, winning a dedication from him and thus literary immortality.     She was his wife in those first glorious Paris days, and they hobnobbed with various luminaries until Hadley made the cardinal mistake of losing one of Hemingway’s suitcases at a train station – the one filled with his manuscripts.  Hemingway felt emasculated, their trust was broken, he sought companionship elsewhere, and Hadley and his son Bumby moved away, watching him create his own myth wholecloth, part truly believed macho blandishment, part cover for the vulnerable man whose whole life was dogged by death.  But Hemingway never stopped loving Hadley and Hadley, even as she found comfort in a more sedate marriage with another man, never forgot Ernest. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fresh Blood: Why Beyond Dead By Dawn Is The Evil Dead Comic We’ve Been Waiting For

When Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn was announced by independent comic distributor Space Goat Productions, many fans were confused.  Evil Dead 2 has, after all, slowly been subsumed into the conclusion of Army of Darkness.  Ash definitively gets sucks into the past in both versions of the story – ergo how could it continue without trampling on familiar territory?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Final Installment of Ladies Behind the Men Month coming next week; Til then Check out my Next Projection recaps!

I'm waiting on the final book for LBTM month - I had to reserve it through my local library and it took a little longer than anticipated.

Until then, try my recaps at Next Projection!  I'll be covering the season finales of Bob's Burgers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine tonight!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Women Behind the Men Month: Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

The Women Behind the Men Month continues with Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler.

This novel…is problematic.  Spanning the entirety of Zelda’s life with her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, beginning on the day that Zelda receives word of Scott’s death, it then takes us through the years of the Fitzgerald’s marriage and tries to lend us insight into how Zelda ended up in a backwater Alabama town, wiling away her lonely hours beside her elderly mother, her daughter scattered far from her.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Women Behind The Men Month: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

We begin our Women Behind the Men month with a look into the marriage of Anne Morrow Lindbergh as provided by Melanie Benjamin in The Aviator’s Wife. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Little Women Month: March

The final installment of Little Women Month takes us into the heart of Geraldine Page’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “March”, which takes us into events in the life of Mr. March while he serves as an army chaplain in the Civil War.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Little Women Month: The Little Women by Katharine Weber

The modern AU - it's a trope that's intrigued fans since the dawn of time. There’s been no shortage of “The Marches get transported to modern times” - style fanfic published by fans through private means, but not many professional looks at the idea.  What makes Katharine Weber’s novel is that it's not just a modern retelling of Little Women - it's the first to tell the story in a fresh way.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Little Women Month: Lusty Little Women by Margaret Pearl

Here’s something you don’t see every day.

Not a sexy version of a more staid novel – that gained popularity just after Linda Bedoll scored a minor hit with ‘Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.”  This resulted in multiple spicy slices of Pemberley life as well as sexied-up versions of Sense and Sensibility, Wuthering Heights …and Little Women.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Little Women Month: Little Women and Werewolves by Louisa May Alcott and Porter Grand

For the first entry in this month’s Little Women Month, I’ll be looking at the mashup novel “Little Women and Werewolves”, by Louisa May Alcott…and Porter Grand

My oh my.  How in the world did a book like this get published?  It’s easy enough to figure out if you look at the trends that were popular at the time of its release.   First there was “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, which became an unexpected runaway hit.  Soon afterwards, bookstores were awash in novels like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.”  While P&P&Z managed to spoof the novel while injecting sci-fi and horror elements,  Little Women and Werewolves takes the Android Karenina route – it takes large swaths of Louise May Alcott’s writing and interjects vignettes with werewolves in it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Little Women Month: Louisa May Alcott's Little Women: A Forward

Welcome to Little Women Month, and what better place to start than with the original classic?  In case you haven’t read it (and I don’t doubt that most of my readers were assigned this book in grade school), Little Women is the story of four sisters living in Civil War-era New England.  The March girls are individually quite different – the eldest, Meg, is motherly but yearns to be part of the social whirl; Jo is a tomboy with literary ambitions; frail and saintly Beth is a talented musician; and hot-tempered, vain Amy yearns to be an actress, though soon discovers artistic ambitions of her own. Collectively, they are charitable and resourceful, and strive to grow into accomplished and gentle women like their mother to make their battlefield-enmired father proud.  Complicating things is mischievous boy next door Theodore Laurence, who will become romantically involved with two of the girls and become the love object of another.