Tuesday, September 29, 2009

AFOS: "Sleazy Listening" playlist

Airing tomorrow at 10am and 3pm on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel is the Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series episode "Sleazy Listening Revisited" (WEB84) from February 12-18, 2007. In WEB84, I replayed the playlist from the 2003 AFOS: The Series ep "Sleazy Listening" (WEB27), which contained the recently deceased Jerry van Rooyen's greatest piece of film music, "The Great Bank Robbery."

Ursula Undress, from the Richard Williams-animated opening titles for What's New Pussycat?
"What's New Pussycat? (Main Title)"

1. Tom Jones, "What's New Pussycat? (Main Title)," What's New Pussycat?, Rykodisc
2. Teo Usuelli, "Piacere Sequence" (from Alla ricerca del piacere), Beat at Cinecittà Volume 1, Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
3. Riz Ortolani, "Il ricordo di Serena" (from Confessione di un commissario di polizia al procuratore della Repubblica), Easy Tempo Vol. 1: A Cinematic Easy Listening Experience, Right Tempo
4. Isaac Hayes, "A House Full of Girls" (from Truck Turner), Double Feature: Music from the Soundtracks of Three Tough Guys & Truck Turner, Stax
5. Ennio Morricone featuring Christy, "Deep Down" (from Danger: Diabolik), Canto Morricone: The Ennio Morricone Songbook, Vol. 1, Bear Family
6. Jerry van Rooyen, "The Great Bank Robbery" (from How Short Is the Time for Love), Free Enterprise, Unforscene Music
7. Vampire Sound Incorporated, "Necronomania," Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party, Motel
8. The Bob Crewe Generation Orchestra, "The Black Queen's Beads," Barbarella, Harkit
9. Gert Wilden & Orchestra, "Girl Faces" (from Schulmädchen Report 1), Schoolgirl Report, Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
10. Gert Wilden & Orchestra, "Follow Me" (from Was Männer nicht für möglich halten), Schoolgirl Report, Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
11. Roy Budd, "Envy, Greed and Gluttony" (from The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins), Return of the Budd, Sequel
12. Roy Budd, "Lust" (from The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins), Return of the Budd, Sequel
13. Burt Bacharach, "Stripping Really Isn't Sexy, Is It?," What's New Pussycat?, Rykodisc
14. Francesco De Masi and Alessandro Alessandroni, "Tema di Londra M.1" (from Colpo Maestro al servizio di sua Maesta Britannica), Beat at Cinecittà Volume 1, Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
15. Armando Trovajoli, "Sessomatto" (from Sessomatto), Easy Tempo Vol. 1: A Cinematic Easy Listening Experience, Right Tempo
16. Armando Trovajoli, "Blazing Magnum" (from Una Magnum Special Per Toni Saitta), Beretta 70: Roaring Themes from Thrilling Italian Police Films 1971-80, Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
17. Dusty Springfield, "The Look of Love," Casino Royale, Varèse Sarabande


Free Enterprise opening titles

The 1970 "Great Bank Robbery" instrumental is best known as the opening theme from the 1998 indie romcom Free Enterprise, which starred William Shatner as himself in a great pre-Boston Legal comedic turn. On the college radio version of A Fistful of Soundtracks, I interviewed Free Enterprise co-screenwriter Mark A. Altman about the making of the movie at the time of its release. A fan of the original Star Trek and Deep Space Nine (but very vocal about his displeasure with The Next Generation and Voyager), Altman based parts of Free Enterprise on his experiences as an editor of the Larry Flynt-owned Sci Fi Universe magazine. The part of my interview with Altman that I remember the most was when he recalled how during filming, he attempted to ask his idol about the time he worked alongside actress Angelique Pettyjohn, who played one of Kirk's many friends with benefits on Star Trek, and all Shatner could say to Altman was "Who's Angelique Pettyjohn?"

Issue #31 of Geek Monthly (the one with Anna Faris on the cover) arrived in my mailbox the other day, and because van Rooyen's music, which I'll forever associate with Free Enterprise, has been on my mind lately, I was amused to see that in his column in that issue, Altman talked at length about the 10th anniversary of Free Enterprise's release. One of the Free Enterprise anecdotes Altman recalled in his column involves a Cannes party where Shatner re-encountered his Judgment at Nuremberg co-star Maximillian Schell, and all Altman and his Free Enterprise writing partner Robert Meyer Burnett could think while they saw Shatner and Schell embrace was "Oh my God, it's Captain Kirk and Dr. Hans Reinhardt!"

Repeats of A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series air Wednesdays at 10am and 3pm.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jerry van Rooyen (1928-2009)

Jerry van Rooyen (1928-2009)
"The Great Bank Robbery," a supercool big-band jazz instrumental I first heard on the soundtrack album for the 1998 Eric McCormack/William Shatner indie comedy Free Enterprise, is the epitome of sleazy listening, from the bouncy organ solo to the presence of my favorite '60s/'70s instrument, the fuzztone guitar. The funky tune, which popped up during a Taco Bell ad campaign this summer (the one that doesn't involve "The Piña Colada Song"), was originally written for the obscure 1970 German B-movie How Short Is the Time for Love. Its composer, Dutch bandleader and trumpeter Jerry van Rooyen, died on September 14 at the age of 80.

Though the bandleader wrote scores for only seven movies (the X-rated 1969 Jess Franco flick Succubus is the most well-known film he scored), those scores were sleazy listening at its best. In 1997, the Crippled Dick Hot Wax! label released At 250 Miles Per Hour, a collection of highlights from four of van Rooyen's previously unavailable scores. This CD was most likely where Free Enterprise screenwriters Mark A. Altman and Robert Meyer Burnett were first exposed to "The Great Bank Robbery" (mistakenly called "The Great Train Robbery" in the van Rooyen obit that was posted on Weirdomusic.com). No wonder Altman and Burnett adopted the swinging van Rooyen instrumental as the opening theme for their Swingers-inspired film and attempted to do for "The Great Bank Robbery" what Pulp Fiction did for "Misirlou."

Monday, September 21, 2009

My starting six for Asian American cinema

'Fry me to the moon.'A discussion about supporting Asian American cinema inspired blogger and R&B/hip-hop scholar Oliver Wang to invite experts on Asian American cinema to post their lists of six films they would recommend to people whose idea of an Asian American film is Rush Hour. Phil Yu of angry asian man, who helped spread the word about Wang's little starting six project, contributed his own starting six and had a couple of surprising picks on his list, like the corny Flower Drum Song, which he even admitted had some cheesy moments.

I saw Wang's starting six and wanted to post my idea of a starting six on my blog to show people who are underwhelmed by a lot of Asian American cinema that there are a few gems out there.

1. The Breakthrough Film: Chan Is Missing (director: Wayne Wang, 1982)
I first saw Wang's comedy about assimilation and Asian American identity on KQED when I was in high school, and I dug how the film is unsentimental, smart and documentary-like, whereas Wang's other signature Asian American film, the Joy Luck Club adaptation, is annoyingly sentimental, syrupy and cartoonish, with a point of view that constantly and Frankenstein-ishly screams out "Asian man bad!"

2. The Serious Filipino American Film: The Fall of the I-Hotel (director: Curtis Choy, 1983)
This outstanding hour-long documentary about the razing of San Francisco's Manilatown is a landmark work in the short history of Filipino American cinema, and it contains powerful footage of the 1977 protests against the eviction of 50 manongs (elderly Filipinos) from their soon-to-be-demolished Manilatown residential hotel.

3. The Actioner: Big Trouble in Little China (director: John Carpenter, 1986)
Twentieth Century Fox marketed BTILC as a movie in which Kurt Russell's Jack Burton is the hero ("Jack Burton's coming to rescue your summer"). In actuality, Jack is the buffoonish sidekick in a role that's usually reserved for the Asian guy, while the real heroes of the piece are the resourceful badass Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) and the wizardly tour bus driver Egg Shen (Victor Wong). That sly and subversive role reversal is one of the reasons why I admire Carpenter. It's a shame that no Asian American filmmaker has yet made an Asian American-centric action flick as enjoyable and empowering for APA viewers as BTILC (Enter the Dragon and later vehicles for the likes of Brandon Lee, Keanu Reeves, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu don't count as APA-centric). When are we going to see the APA equivalent of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Shaft, Coffy or El Mariachi?

4. The Humorous Filipino American Film: The Flip Side (director: Rod Pulido, 2001)
José Sáenz is a comedic standout as an untalented Pinoy baller who thinks he's black in the most obscure of my six choices (it's never made it to DVD). Though Pulido's only feature film is more like an 80-minute sitcom than a movie, I prefer it over The Debut, and the sharpest and most dead-on parts of Pulido's screenplay deal with Pinoys who wish they were black and Pinays who pass themselves off as "Hawaiian," whitewash their looks and date only white guys. No other Asian American feature film has irreverently poked fun at self-hating Asian women like The Flip Side did (c'mon Pinoy screenwriters, it's time to rip Michelle Malkin a new one like Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Boston Legal did to Nancy Grace).

5. The Indie Film: Better Luck Tomorrow (director: Justin Lin, 2002)
I prefer the pre-MTV Films version with the ballsier, Taxi Driver-esque ending over the final cut with the slightly modified ending. The conclusion Lin opted for in the final cut is like if Martin Scorsese took Paul Schrader's Taxi Driver screenplay and tacked on a couple of lines at the end in which Travis Bickle says he plans to turn himself in for murder because he suddenly felt sorry for slaughtering all those pimps.

6. The Mainstream Film: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (director: Danny Leiner, 2004)
This hilarious cult favorite annoys Asian American film scholars who find it misogynist and slam it for being lowbrow. But it's lowbrow humor for smart people, and even Stephanie "Actresses with not-so-toned bodies should be allowed to do nude scenes too" Zacharek didn't call it misogynist and enjoyed how it's "so unaggressive in the way it addresses the issue of what it means to be a minority in this country that it coaxes you into thinking about it." (If those haters want to see better-written female characters, the somewhat inferior sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is up their alley. It appears to have been written to appease them.) The fact that many Asian American viewers like myself find Harold & Kumar--which was written and directed by white guys--to be more accurate about our experience than rather shrill and heavy-handed indie dramas with similarly aged lead characters made by Asian American filmmakers is a sign that those indie filmmakers need to step their game up.

This never happened to an Asian American male actor again until Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story 34 years later.Six honorable mentions

The Crimson Kimono (director: Samuel Fuller, 1959)
A lengthy Asian male/white female kiss in 1959? Wow. We have Fuller and his brass ones to thank for that.

Who Killed Vincent Chin? (directors: Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña, 1987)
I don't think I can watch this hard-hitting staple of Asian American studies movie screenings again because the subject matter infuriates me so much.

Robot Stories (director: Greg Pak, 2003)
Matt Zoller Seitz is right. This low-budget anthology from Greg, whom I'm honored to be in the same graphic novel with, is a great sci-fi movie. It contains several terrifically written roles for actresses of color. Lesser-known actresses like Wai Ching Ho (as a grieving mother with a comatose son) and Julienne Hanzelka Kim (as a laconic yet very expressive android) are among the standouts in the cast. If that silent movie I always wanted to write ever gets made, Kim would be perfect for it.

Sucker Free City (director: Spike Lee, 2004)
I know it's a made-for-TV Spike Lee Joint, but this Alex Tse-penned unsold pilot about San Francisco gang life, which co-stars the always superb Ken Leung, premiered first at the Toronto International Film Festival before debuting on Showtime. It ranks with the Twin Peaks and EZ Streets pilots as one of the best feature-length pilots ever made, and it's a more satisfying Tse film than Tse's Watchmen adaptation.

The Motel (director: Michael Kang, 2005)
I appreciate how this indie comedy has none of the formulaic touches that Rotten Tomatoes Show hosts Ellen Fox and Brett Erlich skewered in their "Ode to the Indie."

Beerfest (director: Jay Chandrasekhar, 2006)
The first Broken Lizard flick I ever saw is the funniest one the troupe has done so far, with a hilarious performance by Chandrasekhar as a fallen beer pong legend who's turned to whoring himself out and giving $15 "ZJs."

Coming either later this year or next year: My starting six for Asian American comic books and graphic novels.

Stuff White People Like But This Brown Man Can't Stand #2: Snuggies

A Snuggie fashion show? What's next? A line of pencil skirts made out of ShamWow towels?
WTF, white folks? Snuggies make you look like creepy members of the world's wussiest cult or the Polyphonic Spree.

When it gets cold indoors, there's a far less idiotic-looking piece of clothing I prefer to put on. It's called a sweater.

Snuggie is a ridiculous product name too. It doesn't belong on a garment that's so dorky and white. Snuggie's more like a name for a pimp ("Bitch betta have Snuggie's money or Snuggie's gonna cut somebody!").

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roc Raida (1972-2009)

X-Ecutioners' Built from Scratch

I love how Roc Raida (real name: Anthony Williams), a legendary turntablist and member of the X-Ecutioners crew for those not in the know, cited Bruce Lee as an influence in a DJ tutorial he recorded for djvibe.com.

That ear-catching chune from the Community pilot and promos has a title

My study groups were never this sharp-witted or full of impeccable comic timing.
After catching the Community series premiere (a promising new show, by the way, with awesome Soup host Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Mad Men's Alison Brie and recurring guest star John Oliver of The Daily Show as the standouts so far, and it's nice to see Chevy Chase make an effort to portray an actual character for a change instead of portraying Chevy Chase), I immediately Googled the unidentified ear-catching tune that's featured prominently in the episode and NBC's Community promos. It's "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare" by the Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim. Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Late Night with the Roots Featuring Jimmy Fallon

The Roots come alive.

Right now, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has the rockingest theme song on TV (the Roots' sped-up version of their own 2006 tune "Here I Come," the complete opposite of The Jay Leno Show's lame opening theme, which Vulture amusingly slammed as "a rejected demo from the Beverly Hills 90210 sessions"), as well as the illest late night band (the Philly collective is one of the few bands whose albums I always buy). The Roots always pick the cleverest and most playful walk-on music for Fallon's guests, from Jay-Z's "Lost One" for Lost's Jorge Garcia to Quiet Riot's "Bang Your Head" for head-butting gossip column favorite Kiefer Sutherland. (The Late Night blog keeps track of the walk-on music, easily my favorite part of Fallon's show.) Last night, the Roots awesomely welcomed Dennis Quaid with the Lalo Schifrin theme from Quaid's 1981 movie Caveman. ?uestlove, Black Thought and their cohorts have officially outed themselves as film score geeks.

Goh Nakamura records a tune based on the movie White on Rice

Hiroshi Watanabe mulls over getting a mustache ride from Lynn Chen.
My older brother's a fan of witty Bay Area singer/songwriter Goh Nakamura, "who writes ditties about parking tickets, impossible crushes and faraway dreamlands." One of those impossible crushes is on Natalie Portman, the subject of my favorite Nakamura track, "N.P." ("And you can retain your maiden name/And I'll be 'Goh Portman'/till my dying day/And I'll be 'Mr. Portman'--it'll be written on my epitaph/I'll be 'Mr. Portman' just like your dad").

Nakamura wrote and recorded a nice tune inspired by director Dave Boyle's indie comedy White on Rice. Like "N.P.," both the song and Boyle's film are about a dreamer with an impossible crush, an immature 40-year-old Japanese immigrant (Hiroshi Watanabe) who competes with a younger, suaver and much more Americanized Korean co-worker (Heroes' James Kyson Lee) for the affections of his brother-in-law's beautiful niece (Saving Face star and Secret Identities contributor Lynn Chen).

White on Rice has been hyped all over the Asian American blogosphere. angry asian man said "Watanabe is brilliant as one of the most annoying and unlikeable heroes you'll ever find yourself rooting for," and Ningin praised how the film "doesn't rely on the usual stereotypes," while non-Asian reviewers seem to be less enthusiastic about White on Rice. Cinepassion's Fernando F. Croce gave it one out of four stars and called it an "asphyxiating ethnic sitcom." PopMatters' Cynthia Fuchs found the "outrageous-silly-boyness" of White on Rice (and similarly toned previous comedies like Napoleon Dynamite and Eagle vs. Shark) to be repetitive and monotonous, which means Rotten Tomatoes Show hosts Ellen Fox and Brett Erlich, who pointed out how formulaic indie comedies have become in a savage spoof of Juno's "Anyone Else But You" number, will probably hate it.

I don't watch the music video channels anymore. Do labels still make atrocious videos of movie themes or songs inspired by movies in which clips from the film are haphazardly edited together with footage of the stars pretending to jam with the singer? The "White on Rice" video features Watanabe and Lee doing exactly that together, except not on the same rooftop with Nakamura (were Watanabe and Lee unable to meet Nakamura?--it looks like they're not even in the same city). It reminds me of those '80s and '90s tie-in videos, except it's less cheesy, and Nakamura's tune doesn't suck.

Back with another one of those Hot Rockin' beats

On the Hot Rock sets, the movie was jokingly renamed Three Jews and a Jock.
Featured during this month's A Fistful of Soundtracks mini-playlists is Quincy Jones' laid-back main title theme from the 1972 Donald E. Westlake adaptation The Hot Rock, a cue that's both supercool (like Jones' sampled-by-the-Pharcyde cover version of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City") and an effective foreshadowing of how hapless Robert Redford's Dortmunder and his crew will be for much of the rest of the movie.

Long before his charttopping success as a producer for performers like Michael Jackson and James Ingram, the trumpeter/bandleader was a trailblazer as one of Hollywood's first African American film and TV composers (the original In the Heat of the Night, Ironside). I have an affinity for older caper movies like The Hot Rock and the funkdafied scores Jones wrote for several of those flicks. Every time a '60s or '70s Jones score is released on CD, like most recently, the score from another Westlake adaptation, 1968's The Split, it's an event at the Aquino castle. I wish more Jones scores got the same lavish treatment the Split score received from the Film Score Monthly label.

I hate how Broadway Video is either being stingy about rebroadcasting SNL's older sketches or not being more aggressive about rerunning them. The sketches from the Quincy Jones SNL ep, especially the ones with Jones playing Marion Barry and Dana Carvey playing a pretentious Eurotrash talk show host who keeps saying 'Q! Q! Q!' to his guest Jones, were childhood favorites of mine I'd like to see again.
The Dixieland-style end title theme is the only cut from the Hot Rock soundtrack that's ever found its way to CD. Rhino added it to the "Gone Hollywood" portion of 2001's Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones box set. Unfortunately, the rest of the soundtrack, which was released by the Atlantic-distributed Prophesy label, remains out of print and can only be found on various mp3 blogs. The Hot Rock score's absence on disc is odd because it was one of Jones' favorite film music projects. He was so pleased with the results of his score that he wanted all the major jazz musicians who collaborated with him to receive on-screen credit. The long list of musicians at the Hot Rock scoring sessions who received credit included saxman Gerry Mulligan, trumpeter Clark Terry and drummer Grady Tate, whose militaristic-sounding solo at the beginning of the main title theme was sampled in Eminem's "Like Toy Soldiers" in 2004 (six years before "Like Toy Soldiers," Jurassic 5 sampled "Hot Rock Theme," a loungy and more upbeat version of the movie's main theme that the Don Elliott Voices recorded specially for the Prophesy album, in "Improvise").

Jones' Hot Rock theme makes me want to go steal a diamond.

Pain don't hurt, whereas parts of Road House are pretty excruciating

Road House by Mike Reddy

All this week, everyone has been chiming in with their Patrick Swayze memories, from their love of Dirty Dancing and Ghost to the night they laughed their asses off during the classic SNL episode when Swayze spoofed both his sex-symbol image and his appeal to gay viewers and then played generous straight man to Chris Farley in the then-newcomer's breakout sketch, the Chippendales audition. Because I'm a guy who has zero tolerance for chick flicks, I'll always remember Swayze not for Dirty Dancing and Ghost, but for his creepy Donnie Darko supporting turn as a child-molesting motivational speaker and action films like Road House, where the mulleted star's dance background and willingness to do many of his own stunts played a huge part in making the fight sequences the best element of that Joel Silver camp classic.

Since 1989, Road House has been a source of great comedy, from Dana Gould's bit about Dalton's Zen bouncer thing-as-U.S. foreign policy to Michael J. Nelson's MST3K "(Let's Have) A Patrick Swayze Christmas" musical number and RiffTrax audio commentary (a more enjoyable commentrak than the Road House DVD's Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier one, which is a funny commentrak when Smith isn't tediously reading off pages and pages of Internet jokes about Dalton's superpowers because he ran out of things to say).

Road House is the white Dolemite. Like the Rudy Ray Moore camp classic, the Swayze vehicle is a bad movie, but extremely fun to watch and endlessly quotable.

Over at big WOWO, Byron Wong calls the modern-day western one of the best American martial arts flicks ever made. He raises a good point about how "Swayze didn't have to otherize us. Unlike Chuck, Steve, Jean-Claude, and just about every other White martial artist out there, he didn't have to hire a crew of Asians, blacks, or Latinos to beat up."

I agree with Byron that Road House's martial arts sequences are terrific--the complete opposite of Dolemite's fight sequences--and the movie surpasses anything Van Damme and Seagal have done (with directors who aren't Peter Hyams and Andrew Davis, that is). But outside of the convincing fight sequences and Swayze's charismatic star turn as the world's only NYU philosophy major-turned-internationally famous bouncer, Road House is pretty incompetent for a glossy '80s big-studio movie. Keith David (They Live, There's Something About Mary), one of my favorite actors-turned-announcers, shows up halfway through Road House, and then the movie leaves him stranded with nothing to do. Road House is loaded with almost everything I don't like about '80s big-studio filmmaking--the only '80s Hollywood touch that's missing is the John Hughes-style racism. The movie outdoes the first season of NewsRadio in the crappy clothes department. Swayze wears a weird-looking wraparound gi thing as a shirt, which, combined with the mullet, makes him look like Luke Skywalker's soap opera actor cousin from below the Mason-Dixon Line on Tatooine.

'But I was going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!'Road House is like a bad '60s Elvis flick, but with a pubes-flashing Sam Elliott as second fiddle instead of Bill Bixby--and Jeff Healey doing all the singing instead of the Big E. Healey has a painfully awkward "musician appears as himself and gives us his endorsement that the hero's a cool guy" scene, which was a staple of '80s movies, although that kind of cameo existed long before the '80s (Duke Ellington's scene with Jimmy Stewart in 1959's Anatomy of a Murder is the earliest example of a "musician cameoing as himself and helping to up the star's street cred" moment I can think of). The Healey tracks, which include a pretty good cover of Bob Dylan's "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky," overshadow a Michael Kamen score that sounds exactly like all the other drab scores Kamen wrote for the Silver action factory. There are attempts at wit that fall flat and make little sense, like the vague and homoerotic-sounding "I thought you'd be bigger" running gag, which seems to be a jab at Dalton's height--or not. I assume this botched attempt at a Silver catchphrase refers to how his height is below average for someone who's a cooler. So why didn't the script have the characters say "I thought you'd be taller" instead of "I thought you'd be bigger"? Oh, '80s Hollywood.

I never saw Point Break, Swayze's other signature action film, until shortly after his death was all over the news. I happened to have a long-unwatched Netflix copy of the 1991 bankrobbing surfer flick lying around my apartment, so as I watched the film for the first time, I was surprised by how well-made it was. The foot chase sequence, which concludes with the angsty emptying-of-the-gun moment that Hot Fuzz memorably mocked, is the best foot chase I've seen since the one in Raising Arizona. (During the DVD, I also constantly cringed over how Point Break's superbly shot surfing and skydiving sequences would have looked if the film were made in this current age of CGI instead of pre-CGI 1990.) Point Break is a better Swayze actioner than Road House, thanks to the skilled direction of underrated Hurt Locker helmer Kathryn Bigelow, but if I want a campy and unintentionally funny good time, I'll turn to Road House. Gay guys have their Valley of the Dolls, The Apple and Showgirls, while us straight guys have Dolemite, Color of Night, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats and Road House.

Ever since Swayze went Swayze, I've been looking all over the file folders in my computer for Dana Gould's Road House bit. I finally found it. During an August 28, 2004 performance at the Largo in L.A., the stand-up and former Simpsons staff writer amusingly observes how America is "the world's bouncer." I like how Gould couldn't remember the Ben Gazzara character's name, so he gave him the name of the main villain from Rocky IV.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

WHAT IF... Raiders of the Lost Ark were made in the '50s?

They had quote whores back in 1951 as well.
YouTube user "whoiseyevan" has been creating what he calls "pre-makes," fake trailers in which '80s and '90s hits like Ghostbusters and Forrest Gump are reimagined as old-timey movies, with the help of footage from other works.

For his latest and funniest "pre-make," "whoiseyevan" speculated what Raiders of the Lost Ark would have been like if it were released in 1951 instead of 1981 (hey, at 1:30, it's the "Attack" theme from Patton, which, in our reality's 1951, won't be written for another 19 years). I'd rather watch this alternate-reality Indiana Jones than the fifth official Indy installment that Harrison Ford recently confirmed is in development (oh God, no). I feel like Sean Connery while the temple collapses around him and Ford at the end of Last Crusade. Lucasfilm and Ford Indiana, let it go. Let the faded franchise go.

[Via Electronic Cerebrectomy]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DirecTV's 101 Network reopens Eyes

The show's title also refers to something it couldn't attract when it first aired on ABC.

I was surprised to find out DirecTV's 101 Network has started airing this week all 12 episodes of Eyes, one of my favorite TV shows that were cancelled too soon. I thought the 101 was going to premiere Eyes back in July, but apparently there was some sort of delay.

John McNamara TV shows just never get any respect, do they?

McNamara is a former Brisco County, Jr. and Lois & Clark writer whose most entertaining creations have been shows built around antiheroes with no qualms about being unethical. Years before audiences were willing to embrace The Sopranos, The Shield, House, Rescue Me, Dexter, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Nurse Jackie, all dramas with not-so-virtuous lead characters, McNamara gave us a shady corporate climber who sleeps in a cardboard box (1996's Profit) and a private detective who enjoys mind-tricking the criminals who wronged his clients a little too much (1998's Vengeance Unlimited).

But while Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey, Dr. House, Tommy Gavin, Dexter Morgan, the players at Sterling Cooper, Walt White and Nurse Jackie are amoral--somewhere in their bastardly selves lurks a conscience or whatever's left of it--Jim Profit was unabashedly immoral. Whether or not dark and detached central characters like Profit are the reason why McNamara's shows don't last more than one season, McNamara just can't catch a break, even when he crafts antiheroes who are still as shady as Profit and Vengeance Unlimited's Mr. Chapel but less insane and a little more likable, like he did with the gumshoes on Eyes.

McNamara's 2005 series centers on Judd Risk Management, an upscale private investigation firm made up of detectives who don't mind skirting the law to protect their clients. The P.I.'s include sexy master of disguise Nora Gage (Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon); buttoned-up, military-trained newbie Meg Bardo (A.J. Langer); Chris Didion (Rick Worthy, so underutilized as "the black Cylon" on Battlestar Galactica), a gay associate who returned to the firm after a leave of absence caused by a nervous breakdown; and Jeff McCann (Eric Mabius), who conspires with Trish Agermeyer (Natalie Zea), the firm's hot equivalent of Q from the 007 flicks, to hide their affair from another co-worker, Trish's dweeby husband Danny (Reg Rogers).

"Every character has a different back story, a different moral compass. I don't think in terms of 'he's bad' or 'she's good' or vice versa. The fun of this world is in exploring the duality of these characters," said McNamara to Zap2it.com interviewer John Crook in a 2005 article about Eyes. "This world that these characters are in has an effect on them, just as they have an effect on it. They are not machines moving through the investigation, chewing up facts and spitting them out. It takes a toll on their psyches."

Their leader--and perhaps corrupting influence--is smug smart-ass Harlan Judd, Tim Daly's most enjoyable role to date. After playing so many uncomplicated characters (the straitlaced older brother on Wings, the animated version of Superman, Dr. Richard Kimble on McNamara's 2000 remake of The Fugitive), Daly clearly relished embodying more complicated guys like drug-addicted screenwriter J.T. Dolan on The Sopranos and Harlan on Eyes.

"Harlan's way of keeping people off balance is something I totally identify with. My default setting is to make people not know whether I'm giving them shit or not. I think that I get that about him," said Daly to TV Guide interviewer Craig Tomashoff. "He sort of teases people, [and] I love teasing people. Most of the time, I'm not mean about it. I haven't been punched in a bar yet."

Daly may have been a lucky bastard inside bars and taverns, but he wasn't so lucky with the ax that was wielded by ABC, which cancelled his serialized show after five eps that weren't able to retain the audience that tuned in to Lost, its lead-in on the network schedule. Warner Bros. Television made the unaired Eyes eps available to stream on In2TV, their clunky precursor to Hulu, but I hated watching Eyes on In2TV, and the site didn't even contain the complete series, which still hasn't received an official DVD release. The 101's Tuesday night broadcasts of Eyes will mark the first time the complete series will be shown in America, which is why I'm firing up my DVR. Eyes ranks with The Rockford Files, Smoldering Lust/Black Tie Affair, Veronica Mars and Burn Notice as one of the best private eye shows ever made.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stuff White People Like But This Brown Man Can't Stand #1: The vampire genre

The name of the lead vampire in Twilight is Edward? I thought he was Hemo the Emo Vampire.I've got four words for the vampire genre: less bussing, more dusting.

I'm so tired of the popularity of navel-gazing vampire genre franchises like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood, which earns some points for being like an anti-Twilight because of its unabashed naughtiness, but I lost interest in the show after its first season because British-born Stephen Moyer's attempt at a Southern accent is terrible, the black characters are the racial equivalent of the overdone "gay best friend" trend, as a Newsweek writer astutely notes in "I Won't Be Seduced by True Blood," and thirdly, the show is too soapy for my tastes.

The only bloodsucker genre pieces I ever liked were the sharply written first few seasons of the Buffy TV series, its underrated Angel spinoff (the student outdid the master during the latter's underwhelming last two seasons on UPN) and John Carpenter's Vampires, which isn't one of Carpenter's best flicks, but it's redeemed by Sheryl Lee, some amusing genre-mocking dialogue from snarky, homophobic antihero James Woods ("It's not like they're a bunch of fucking fags hopping around in rented formal wear and seducing everybody in sight with cheesy Eurotrash accents, alright? Forget whatever you've seen in the movies.") and a largely unromantic portrayal of vampires.

Otherwise, if I want to watch a 200-year-old pedophile slobber over a hot chick, I'll rent a Woody Allen movie.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Font memories

Font memories
As part of his transition to HD last week, Craig Ferguson finally updated his show's opening title sequence, which used to be such a creaky-looking, misleading opening sequence (it made it look like The Late Late Show was all sketch comedy, when the sketches really only comprise two percent of the show--that's like if SNL opened with credits that consisted of nothing but shots of Seth Meyers reading the fake news).

The Late Late Show logo also experienced a makeover, which has been lesser-liked than the spiffy new opening ("The old logo was fun and distinctive, but the new one is somewhat bland"), while fontophiles have been more harsh towards the Ikea catalog's font switch from Futura to Verdana, according to a Gray Lady article that letterer Janice Chiang forwarded me. Branding is everything, which is why my picky self has constantly changed my radio station's textual logo over the years. I first used the Fistful of Soundtracks logo on flyers I made for AFOS the college radio program and then placed it on the AFOS sites, the covers of CD copies of episodes I burned for friends and the Microsoft Word files of the home-recorded program's episode scripts. Like what TrekMovie.com did in March with the many different Star Trek opening title fonts from 1966 to 2009, here's a brief history of AFOS fonts.

1997 A Fistful of Soundtracks logo
1997-1999: I wanted a dope font that both screamed "spaghetti western" and looked like something that came from poster art for a '60s or '70s European movie that was scored by Ennio Morricone, whose non-Sergio Leone '60s and '70s scores were among the scores I was discovering for the first time on CD back in 1997. I found that kind of font in Wharmby. I liked how it resembled the Morricone-scored Untouchables opening titles. Of course, after a couple of years, I get tired of the same old thing, so...

1999 A Fistful of Soundtracks logo
1999-2000: I chose another font that I thought screamed "spaghetti western," Wide Latin. Graphic designer Matt Hinrichs of Scrubbles.net used Wide Latin for the previous incarnation of his blog's logo. This was the first logo I featured on the program's then-new site. I forgot Wide Latin was the same font that was used in the Kung Fu opening credits. I didn't want anything to do with a font that, to me, represented an annoying show that starred yet another white guy who tried to pass himself off as Asian (I know PopeyePete loves that show, but I have issues with it), so...

2000 A Fistful of Soundtracks logo
2000-2001: At the time, I was crazy about the italicized opening title fonts from the Pierce Brosnan 007 flicks, the Mission: Impossible feature films and the Kyle Cooper-designed Lost in Space titles.

2001 A Fistful of Soundtracks logo
2001-2008: I felt like switching to a font that better conveyed speed and futurism. I stuck with this font the longest. This was the last of the logos to appear at the top of the scripts I typed for myself to record because in 2008, I switched from typing the scripts on Word to typing them on the more stripped-down Notepad, where the text is presented in only one font.

2006 A Fistful of Soundtracks logo
2006-2009: I was in the mood for a font that crossed Cowboy Bebop with those banjo-scored '70s Sesame Street "sand letter" interstitials.

2009 A Fistful of Soundtracks logo
2009-?: I wanted a return to the station name's spaghetti western roots because some people still don't understand that the name's a reference to Morricone's classic collabos with Leone.

The best result of the Morricone/Leone partnership was Once Upon a Time in the West, one of my favorite flicks since high school (I first saw it letterboxed and uncut on Bravo, back when the channel was actually watchable and wasn't a dumpster for irritating reality shows and Criminal Intent reruns). OUATITW was unique for having Morricone finish recording the score before filming began so that Leone could play it aloud on the set to help get the actors into character and to synchronize camera movements to the tempo of the music.

The 1968 epic is a still-misunderstood film (here's a reason why I don't like the city I live in and can't wait to leave it: when I rewatched OUATITW in a local theater, everyone there gradually walked out until I was the only one left because these downtown assclowns who were clearly raised on Michael Bay were expecting a shoot-'em-up, and that's not what the film is, though it contains a couple of kickass action sequences, particularly the Jason Robards shootout on the train). OUATITW is also a great union of music and image, and because the score was completed before a single frame of film was shot, it's very listenable outside the context of the movie, which is why I frequently played it on my college radio program and then on my Internet radio station.

I'm glad someone suggested A Fistful of Soundtracks as the title of my program in 1997 because Once Upon a Time in Soundtracks doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Show me your taglines: My favorite movie poster slogans

Shaun of the Dead poster

In a world where movie taglines are corny or tepid, sometimes there are taglines that are genuinely witty and clever.

Fox just launched an eye-catching "Snakes on a cane" teaser promotion for House--it's as cryptic as ABC's "What did you see?" springtime promos for John Cho's FlashForward--and the IMDb Hit List recently linked to a blog post about the greatest bits of poster or trailer copy. Both items got me thinking about which taglines are good ones (and aren't just reiterations of lines from the movie, like the Dark Knight teaser campaign's "Why so serious?" or the original Dawn of the Dead's "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth").

Michael Aushenker, who e-interviewed me for his Cartoon Flophouse blog, used to be a tagline writer. He came up with Eve's Bayou's tagline: "The secrets that hold us together can also tear us apart."

In no particular order, here are my favorites.

This Is Spinal Tap's Aussie poster

This Is Spinal Tap: "Spinal Tap... does for sex, drugs and rock n' roll what Sound of Music did for hills."

Southern Comfort: "It's the land of hospitality... unless you don't belong there."

Back to the Future: "He was never in time for his classes... He wasn't in time for his dinner... Then one day... he wasn't in his time at all."

Shaun of the Dead: "This September aim for the head."

You're probably wondering why I'm posting the Planet Terror main title shot of Rose McGowan up against the stripper pole instead of the 'You might feel a little prick' advance poster with Marley Shelton. It's because Shelton, with her smeared mascara and a hypodermic needle in hand, looks too heroin chic-y on the poster. Heroin chic: never attractive.

Planet Terror teaser campaign: "You might feel a little prick."

The War of the Roses: "Once in a lifetime comes a motion picture that makes you feel like falling in love all over again. This is not that movie."

Wet Hot American Summer: "It was the last day of summer. It was the first day of the third week in August."

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay's teaser poster

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay teaser campaign: "What would NPH do?"

Alien vs. Predator: "Whoever wins... we lose." A great tagline doesn't always lure me to the movie, especially one with Paul W.S. Anderson's name on it. That's why I still haven't seen AVP.

The Thing (1982): "Man is the warmest place to hide."

'If you're going to hire Machete to kill the bad guy, you'd better make damn sure the bad guy isn't you!'

Here's a bonus favorite tagline, from the fake Machete trailer that precedes Planet Terror: "But they soon realized they just fucked with the wrong Mexican!"

Let's do it to them before they do it to us (again): My obligatory thoughts on You Offend Me You Offend My Family's post

June Park of 'Sampler,' created by Jimmy J. Aquino and illustrated by Erwin Haya

You Offend Me You Offend My Family is a blog that was originally conceived to promote Finishing the Game, director Justin Lin's 2007 mockumentary about the obstacles Asian American male actors have to put up with in Hollywood. The blog name is derived from an Enter the Dragon line that the actor characters in Finishing the Game are asked to perform during auditions (the actual line is "You have offended my family, and you have offended the Shaolin Temple"). The people who worked on Finishing the Game recently became the talk of the Asian American blogosphere due to a You Offend Me post that points out the ineffectiveness of the Japanese American Citizens League's protests against a lame gag involving the beating of an Asian American used car salesman in ex-Chappelle's Show writer Neal Brennan's The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (because hate crimes are funny!). Ken Jeong is a hilarious stand-up whom I've seen perform live, and I love his performance in Role Models, but what the hell was he thinking when he agreed to do that scene?

(If Silver Streak-era Richard Pryor were asked to do a scene like that, he would have walked off the set and caused the shoot to be halted so that the scene would have to be changed. That's exactly what Pryor did during the making of Silver Streak when he was uncomfortable with how the white writers scripted a sequence in which characters are fooled by Gene Wilder's lousy disguise as a black man. Pryor's angry protest resulted in a more believably written reaction to Wilder's disguise--the gag was changed to a black shoe shiner who sees his disguise and doesn't buy it at all--and the revision helped make the bathroom sequence the funniest part of Silver Streak.)

In "Hollywood and Asians: Why Protests Alone Won't Change Anything," the You Offend Me blogger suggests that instead of protesting like the JACL, what frustrated Asian Americans ought to do is concentrate their energy on supporting Asian American filmmakers and seeing their movies (easier said than done--the Asian American community is so fragmented and divided, and there are so many different sub-communities, from Chinese American to Filipino American, that it's impossible to get all these sub-communities to flock to these films). Many Asian American bloggers agree with You Offend Me's post, while a lone dissenter, my occasional boss TMM, has been fuming about it.

I don't have much to say on this subject other than the You Offend Me guy is mostly right, and the Angry Black Woman and Byron Wong have best articulated my thoughts on the subject.

First, the Angry Black Woman's thoughts:
But until Asian Americans as a whole are willing to put down our money to support the work of our Asian American filmmakers—nothing will change.

It’s a good point. But something about it bugs me.

Because it assumes something that I’m not sure is true, and feeds into a bigger problem. What Phillip suggests is that if Asian Americans just go and view more Asian American films, this will show Hollywood there’s a significant demand for positive portrayals. The same reasoning, IMO, underlies African Americans’ patronization of black films (and African American Interest books, and so on) — we’ve taken to heart the racist rationalization that if we don’t make it ourselves, and go see it ourselves, we can’t expect the mainstream to follow suit.

Except… African Americans have been making it ourselves, since the Sixties. We’ve been going to see those films, too, enough to create several blockbusters, catapult several African American filmmakers to auteur status, and launch a few subcultural film/theater movements.

But has all this success — all this proof that we will support our own — really changed anything in Hollywood?...

We’ve got to support the positive portrayals that are already out there. And that includes work by other PoC, because all this stuff feeds into each other. We’ll get more successful black actors in Hollywood once we prove that Latinos/as will go and see them. We’ll get more Asian actors when we can prove they appeal to black audiences. We’ll see fewer pretendians when audiences start going to see real Indians. And so on.
And now, Byron's thoughts:
I agree that things won’t change until we start paying, and I agree with his statement that a lot that comes from independent Asian American media “sucks.” ... The Debut was horrible. Yellow was beyond horrible. I couldn’t even finish One Hundred Percent, despite the fact that Tamlyn was in it. I’ve financially supported all of these...

I’ve said this from day one... the problem is the writing. If we improve the writing, if we work to improve our depth of vision by studying and developing writing, everything else will fall into place.
Good God, Yellow blew. That moment in The Limey when the otherwise understated Terence Stamp snaps and snarls, "Tell him I'm fucking comiiiiing!," with a deranged look on his face? Great shouty acting. The perpetually cranky and one-note lead actor in Yellow? The worst shouty acting I've ever seen.

I prefer not to march outside movie studios, multiplexes or--and this was really dumb--the Disney Store (huh?). Protests and letterwriting campaigns accomplish very little. In response to the JACL's furor, Paramount removed the Asian-bashing sight gag from the Goods commercials. So what? The scene is still in the movie. Yay, JACL.

A few months ago, I finished writing a two-week arc of my webcomic The Palace that's about the subject of grassroots protests against movies that are whitewashed remakes or are racially offensive, but I haven't illustrated the arc yet. In my script, the main character says to a classmate who's protesting against an Avatar: The Last Airbender-like martial arts flick, "Aren't there more important things to protest?... The way to fight Hollywood is not to keep organizing protests... but to go make your own fucking movies."

Personally, I think the best way to rob these racially offensive movies of their power is to publicly ridicule them and rip them and their creators to shreds through humor (hence the Hill Street Blues catchphrase that's part of the title of this post--I want to see more Asian American comedians be verbally aggressive towards our enemies and emulate the attitude in Sgt. Jablonski's morning battle cry). We need to do the same things that one of my comedy idols, Paul Mooney, did to Driving Miss Daisy and horror flicks that keep killing off white women or having them sleep with monsters and vampires in both his stand-up act and his 1993 album Race, one of my favorite examples of activism through comedy. To me, there's nothing more powerful than the comedic smackdown Mooney gave to mainstream Hollywood during Race.

Mooney's ridicule of Driving Miss Daisy ("I'll take a bagel and beat the shit out of Miss Daisy") and much less funny but equally dead-on comments about the inane 1989 Best Picture Oscar winner from black celebrities like Spike Lee did more to tarnish the reputation of that movie than any protest would have done. As Lee said to New York magazine about Do the Right Thing's impact in comparison to the Jessica Tandy/Morgan Freeman movie's impact, "No one's talking about Driving Miss Daisy now." When AFI announced its list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time, Driving Miss Daisy didn't make it. Do the Right Thing landed spot #96.

I'd love to see an Asian American comedian or actor ruin the box office grosses of an upcoming racist movie by snarking about that film while being interviewed by a talk show host or magazine writer. I wish that was the reason why The Goods tanked at the box office and quickly disappeared from theaters.

Bottom line? Let's take a cue from Byron and concentrate on improving our writing skills so that there can be more movies from us that people will remember far more than the Live Hard, Sell Hards and Driving Miss Daisys of the industry.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The reason why A Fistful of Soundtracks isn't in podcast form

A new Fistful of Soundtracks tile, based on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly opening titlesBryan Magan is the latest of several listeners who have asked me, "I'd like to have A Fistful of Soundtracks on my iPod, so what are the chances of turning it into a podcast?"

The chances are nil.

If A Fistful of Soundtracks were a podcast, I'd end up more broke than I already am. It costs less to run AFOS as a Live365 radio station than as a podcast, which is why I've never joined the podcastosphere, where, because of the kind of music I play, I'd have to deal with expensive music licensing fees and other legal issues.

It's illegal for podcasters to include copyrighted music on their shows, unless the label or copyright owner gives them clearance. And then comes my favorite part--the labels' hefty licensing fees. That's why a lot of podcasters who prefer to be law-abiding ones choose to do their podcasts as talk shows rather than music shows. Some of the more law-abiding podcasters who have music shows only use songs that are already cleared for podcast use, a.k.a. "podsafe."

If you want some AFOS on your iPod, use a streaming audio capture tool to record some of the stream, allowing you to be able to hear AFOS anytime, anywhere.

The Limey: Unlike its washed-up characters, it stands the test of time

'Tell me about Jenny!'

The last time I saw The Limey was on an Artisan Entertainment screener tape during its art-house run 10 years ago. Steven Soderbergh's superb follow-up to the beloved Out of Sight was one of many highlights of a great and still-unsurpassed movie year (1999), and after stumbling into the film on IFC the other night and stopping whatever I was writing on my computer to watch it for the second time, it still is a highlight of '99.

I noticed a few things in this second viewing. The hot gangster's moll (played by a pre-daytime TV Amelia Heinle) spends a lot of time getting wet during the movie; Lesley Ann Warren is one of the finest-looking untouched-by-plastic-surgery sixtysomething actresses; Bill Duke must have been hired to play the marshals' disabled boss in the Out of Sight spinoff Karen Sisco based on his now-classic reaction to Terence Stamp's long speech from his DEA office desk ("There's one thing I don't understand. The thing I don't understand is every motherfuckin' word you're saying."); and some of the themes in Cliff Martinez's eerie score appear to have been an homage to equally eerie scores from late '60s/early '70s thrillers like Klute and Point Blank (which The Limey is often compared to, and Soderbergh is such a fan of the John Boorman classic that he recorded a commentrak for it).

I've read about the Limey DVD's infamous Soderbergh/Lem Dobbs commentrak--in which Dobbs argued with Soderbergh about the changes the director made to his script--but never listened to it. Now I'm itching to hear the commentrak.

My year-long postings of past or long-buried writing continue with a piece I wrote about The Limey at the time of its release.


The Limey's cool-looking poster by Pulse Advertising

The Limey
Starring Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren, Luis Guzman, Barry Newman, Joe Dallesandro, Nicky Katt, Amelia Heinle
Music by Cliff Martinez
Photographed by Ed Lachman
Written by Lem Dobbs
Directed by Steven Soderbergh

If Sarah Flack never gets an Oscar nomination for her ingenious editing of Steven Soderbergh's witty, melancholy revenge thriller/character study The Limey, then the members of the Academy ought to be taken out. The story of a British ex-con named Wilson (Terence Stamp) who tries to reconnect with his murdered daughter while searching the streets of L.A. for her killer, The Limey is told in a jigsaw-puzzle narrative style that shuffles past and present events. For instance, whenever Wilson discovers an important clue about his daughter's whereabouts before she was killed, the film cuts to a shot of a pensive, brooding Wilson, alone in a motel room or on an airplane. Are we watching him before he embarks on his journey through L.A. or are we seeing him on his way home to England, reflecting on his trip?

The nonlinear technique will befuddle some viewers, especially those expecting to see a "TBS Movie for Guys Who Like Movies." But it's a crucial--and inspired--device because it underscores how time makes very little sense to Stamp's title character, who, when the film opens, has just been released from a nine-year prison sentence that has messed with his concept of time, like it would do to any long-term inmate.

Wilson isn't the only character in The Limey who's disconnected from time. Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda) is a faded Hollywood record producer who never got over the end of the free-spirited '60s. This uneasy rider has gone to seed and turned to the drug trade to stay wealthy as he lures young starlets half his age with his hedonistic lifestyle and with stories about the '60s. One of these aspiring actresses is Wilson's daughter Jenny (Melissa George), who dated Valentine and lived with him before her death. Wilson's trail leads him to Valentine, but is Jenny's former lover really responsible for her tragic fate?

Stand-up comic Mark Pitta used to do a hilarious bit about the way his mom watches action movies. She's the kind of viewer who doesn't pay attention to the gunplay during the climactic shootout in Scarface and says, 'My, that's a lovely house.' For some reason, I kept thinking of that Pitta bit while watching The Limey.

Stamp and Fonda are compelling as older, wearier versions of their '60s screen personas. Luis Guzman has an amusing and poignant supporting turn as a friend of Jenny's who assists Wilson on his manhunt, despite the language barrier between the two (the Angelenos' inability to understand Wilson's cockney slang is a running joke that fortunately isn't overused). Soderbergh calls The Limey "a very simple revenge film with a lot of '60s baggage." Although the plot may be a bit on the thin side, The Limey is anything but a simple revenge film. The characters are hardly the automatons of Charles Bronson shoot-'em-ups. Soderbergh and screenwriter Lem Dobbs refuse to paint them in simplistic strokes. The seedy Valentine, sort of an underworld Humbert Humbert with his taste for younger women, may be the villain here, but like Humbert, he's more pathetic than malicious; the film empathizes with his yearning for his younger, less desperate days. It's Valentine's associates, volatile, snarky hitman Stacy (Nicky Katt) and his older partner Uncle John (Joe Dallesandro), who are more greedy and evil than Fonda's character. As for Wilson, he's a man of contradictions. He has regrets about the life he led before prison (cleverly depicted in flashbacks composed of footage taken from Stamp's 1967 film Poor Cow, in which he also played a criminal named Wilson), most of all because it severed his relationship with his daughter. Yet he finds himself reverting back to the criminal life that drove her away in order to find her killer, which leads to another explanation for the jigsaw-puzzle storytelling: it suits the story of a man who's a puzzle, even to himself.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The long Khan: AFOS September 2009 segment playlists

Starting today at 8am, these September '09 playlists (intro'd by yours truly, of course) will air all through the month on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel. Until September 29, they'll be repeated every Tuesday and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm and every Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

The constantly screaming Chekov secures his position as the Jennifer Love Hewitt of Star Trek.

1. James Horner, "The Eels of Ceti Alpha V/Kirk in Space Shuttle," Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Retrograde/Film Score Monthly
2. James Horner, "Captain Terrell's Death," Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Retrograde/Film Score Monthly

"Promises, Promises":
3. Tom Jones, "Promise Her Anything" (from Promise Her Anything), Their Greatest Hits: Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, Rebound
4. Klaus Badelt, "The Promise," The Promise, Superb

"Chase Those Crazy Beatheads Out of Town":
5. Barry De Vorzon, "Baseball Furies Chase," The Warriors, Spectrum
6. J.J. Johnson, "Willie Chase," Willie Dynamite, Hip-O Select/Geffen

"Harkness, Everybody, Harkness":
7. Ben Foster, "Here Comes Torchwood," Torchwood: Children of Earth, Silva Screen
8. Ben Foster, "Judgement Day," Torchwood: Children of Earth, Silva Screen

"Tarantino Raided My Soundtrack Cabinets":
9. Ennio Morricone, "Algiers November 1, 1954" (from Battle of Algiers), The Ennio Morricone Anthology: A Fistful of Film Music, Rhino
10. Giorgio Moroder & David Bowie, "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)," Cat People, MCA
11. Lalo Schifrin, "Tiger Tank," Kelly's Heroes, Film Score Monthly

"The Hottie and the Ostinati":
12. The Paramount Studio Orchestra, "Prelude and Rooftop," Vertigo, Varèse Sarabande
13. The Paramount Studio Orchestra, "The Streets," Vertigo, Varèse Sarabande

"Schnapps for Breakfast":
14. Bernard Herrmann, "Thank God for the Rain," Taxi Driver, Arista
15. Bernard Herrmann, "Getting Into Shape/Listen You Screwheads/Gun Play/Dear Father & Mother/The Card/Soap Opera," Taxi Driver, Arista

"R.I.P. Erich Kunzel":
16. Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, "Overture" (from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad), The Great Fantasy Adventure Album, Telarc

"I Guess This Means That Alias/Alias Crossover's a Possibility Now":
17. Michael Giacchino, "On the Train," Alias: Season Two, Varèse Sarabande
18. Eric Rogers, "Spider-Woman," Sci-Fi's Greatest Hits Vol. 4: Defenders of Justice, TVT

"English as Language Second":
19. Ennio Morricone with Maurizio Graf, "Il Ritorno Di Ringo" (from The Return of Ringo), The Ennio Morricone Anthology: A Fistful of Film Music, Rhino
20. Guido & Maurizio De Angelis featuring Susi & Guy, "Driving All Around" (from Il Cittadino Si Rebella), Beretta 70: Roaring Themes from Thrilling Italian Policefilms 1971-80, Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
21. Seatbelts featuring Masayoshi Furukawa, "You Make Me Cool" (from the "Mushroom Samba" episode), Cowboy Bebop: No Disc, Victor
22. Seatbelts featuring Mai Yamane, "Want It All Back" (from the "Asteroid Blues," "Stray Dog Strut" and "Speak Like a Child" episodes), Cowboy Bebop: No Disc, Victor

"Westlake Ho":
23. Johnny Mandel, "Trackdown" (from Point Blank), Point Blank/The Outfit, Film Score Monthly
24. Quincy Jones, "Kifka Car Caper," The Split, Film Score Monthly
25. Quincy Jones, "Main Title," The Hot Rock, Prophecy
26. Jerry Fielding, "Office Scuffle/Kenilworth Heist/Casino Heist" (from The Outfit), Point Blank/The Outfit, Film Score Monthly

The Shots in the Dark cover featuring Rose McGowan"Say Si, Not Oui":
27. La-33, "La Pantera Mambo," La-33, Walboomers
28. The Wondermints, "The Party," Shots in the Dark, Donna

"Alley OOP":
29. Elliot Goldenthal, "Obligatory Car Chase," Demolition Man: The Original Orchestral Score, Varèse Sarabande
30. Hans Zimmer, "Show Me Your Firetruck" (from Backdraft), Passions & Achievements, Milan
31. Royal Scottish National Orchestra, "End Credits" (from First Knight), Hollywood '95, Varèse Sarabande

"There Are Never Possibilities":
32. James Horner, "Epilogue (original version)/End Title," Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Retrograde/Film Score Monthly