Friday, August 14, 2020

On The 50th Anniversary- The Vagaries Of The Summer Of Love-“Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue” (2015)-A Documentary Film Review

On The 50th Anniversary- The Vagaries Of The Summer Of Love-“Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue” (2015)-A Documentary Film Review

DVD Review

By Associate Film Critic Alden Riley

Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue, a documentary about the life and times of blues singer Janis Joplin and the San Francisco rock and roll scene in the 1960s which nurtured her talent, 2015

On more than one occasion the now retired film editor in this space, Sam Lowell (still carrying the baggage of emeritus for all the world to revel in), would point to the fate of the Three Js as the price those of his generation what he called the Generation of ’68 for the decisive year in that turbulent time had to pay for that little jailbreak out that the better part of youth nation was trying to turn the social norm. The Three Js-Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin crashed and burned just when their stars were burning brightest and in a sense their fates wrapped up what many considered the ebb tide of those times when the slogan of the day was “drug, sex, and rock and roll” was followed by the slogan in the end “live fast, die young and make a good corpse.” Tough stuff to think about some fifty years later when evaluating the residue effects of those times on what ugliness is currently going down in America.    

The film, really a documentary, Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue, details the life and times of the third in the trilogy. Goes, as such bio pic usually all the way back to her growing up days in Port Arthur, Texas and gives us a picture through film clips and “talking head” interviews (standard in this kind of film so nothing untoward intended) of , well, Janis Joplin becoming blues singer extraordinaire Janis Joplin. Usually that look back to the roots is perfunctory, glancing at the early age when a celebrity showed promise. But the lookback in Janis’ case where she did not begin to shine until late teenage times gives a much better insight into the negative aspects, the harassment and taunts from unfeeling classmates neighbors and of her growing up that would follow her down the garden path for all her tragically short celebrity life.  

So nothing at first pointed to Janis becoming a blues star except a serious bout of loneliness and harassment growing up giving her plenty of personal blues which later she may have been able to feed off of when in performance. At a steep price as it turned out. All she knew was early on that she had to leave Texas and her family behind. There were many false starts including some early time in San Francisco trying to work the budding folk circuit. All she got from that was habit for drugs, for evil heroin above all. And shipment back to Texas.

Then something happened, something she was able to grab onto when she returned to Frisco in the early stages of the Summer of Love. A new sound was being born under the sign of a particular Frisco beat and sensibility. Janis was able via contact with a group of young “hungry” musicians, Big Brother and the Holding Company, to make a big imprint of the scene. That combination of singing, shouting, screaming from a white girl found a home in the trendy, trend setting Bay Area (one black commentator/band member though she was black before he saw her in person). All you have to do is look at the whole series of poster art concert announcements which have been exhibited at the de Young Museum in its celebration of the Summer of Love to know that she and the band made every important concert in the area over a few year period. Decisive was the Monterrey Pops Festival (as it was for other up and coming performers as well) where she blew the house away.  

Eventually Janis broke with the band, with Big Brother probably a bad career move, and moved on to her own career as a solo artist. (In an interesting take one rock critic argued that she should leave the band after she did called on her to come back but that has more to do with fickle critics than career moves) And gained even more fame. Gained headlines and magazine covers. But the pain of that deep-seated Texas hard winds, that blue norther pain, never let her be and in the end the “fixer” man did his evil work and she fell through the hole at 27 in 1970.

During the one hour and forty-five minutes of the film though you get to know why she was an icon of the Summer of Love that dwindled into the dust some fifty years ago. Why she brought a new sensibility to rock and blues. Watch this one to remember what it was like when women, men too, played rock and roll for keeps. Whatever the price.   

An Encore Presentation-When Film Noir Private Detectives Lit Up The Slumming Streets Of Whatever Town Could Take Their Weight- Turnabout Is Fair Play-With The Detective Fiction Writer Dashiell Hammett in Mind

An Encore Presentation-When Film Noir Private Detectives Lit Up The Slumming Streets Of Whatever Town Could Take Their Weight- Turnabout Is Fair Play-With The Detective Fiction Writer Dashiell Hammett in Mind

With A New Introduction By Sam Lowell
[Every guy who dig the gold of film noir and reviewed the material and it was mostly guys in the old days cut his eye-teeth on the film noir detective-guys like Philo Vance, Phil Larkin, Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Jeff Culver, and Jack Dunne. Including one Allan Jackson, who out of respect for a fallen comrade used the moniker Peter Paul Markin for many years although I am not sure what he is using now, maybe Mitt Romney or Madame La Rue, who knows. Allan, formerly the head honcho at this publication and in the interest of transparency an old high school friend of mine, got the big boot, got “retired” a while back partially with my help. Others have written to eternity on this basically “inside the Beltway-type” stuff about his demise, and about where he landed after falling down here so I don’t need to repeat that material here. Except the son of bitch is trying to resurrect himself by stealth or by sucking up to current site manager and his replacement Greg Green or both by portraying himself, partially through me I admit, as the indispensable guy to introduce encore presentations of various series produced under his leadership. (I will admit that Allan sweated, perspired bullets editing, cajoling and squeezing every last writerly effort out of those series, especially the hallmark The Roots Is The Toots rock and roll series.)
I guess Greg has only himself to blame for the Allan creep. (I will take my share as well insisting that Allan was the only one who could do justice to the rock and roll series and dragging him back from exile out who knows wherever he was, Utah with Mitt Romney, San Francisco with his old honey Madame La Rue helping run her high -end whorehouse or slumming with Miss Judy Garland, aka Timmy Riley our old high school friend now the doyen of the drag queens in that same town. I will address my part in the publication shake-up below as the decisive vote for his ouster below in passing.) Greg, maybe insecure in his new position  anointed by only that single decisive vote of no confidence in Allan and saddled with an Editorial Board which Allan would never have put up with but which we insisted on to guard against a return of one-person, one-man rule, had the bright idea that to appeal to the younger crowd that the writers here should abandon their serious pursuits like in-depth political, cultural and social analysis via books, art, cinema and music and go full bore reviewing cinematic comic book character-derived films, video games and tech gadgetry. Christ, for a guy who spent many years as the chief over at American Film Gazette what the hell was he thinking. I won’t even mention that the thing was a total bust since the kids don’t give a fuck about “high- brow,” middle brow,” any brow reviews from a literate publication. They don’t read this kind of stuff however you doll it up and get their tastes from social media-end of story.  
What is not the end of the story although almost sank this publication was the real demographic that reads this material-the so-called baby-boomer generation and what Allan specifically called the Generation of ’68 to ground the audience he was gearing things to rebelled at comic book cinema, video games and tech garbage. Aided by the writers, young and old, who had to write the swill and who threatened murder and mayhem if that continued. So Greg did a “dixie,” did an about face and decided to revive some of Allan’s series from the archives which he thought were pretty good to retain the base. His first attempt at the rock and roll series was to get Frank Jackman to do the introductions. Frank is a good reporter, a crack journalist but knew nothing about the inner workings of that series. I got fed up and after hearing that Allan was back East, back in Maine, after being abandoned by Mitt Romney, getting tired of whorehouse management or when doyen Timmy tired of him take your pick I contacted him with an olive branch to come back to do the encore introductions. He did a bang- up job and while Greg stated that he was worried about Allan hanging around he consented to let him do the very popular Sam and Ralph Stories about a couple of lifelong friends who met via the anti-Vietnam War struggles and have kept the faith all these years. He is at work on that series now.             
Here is where the Allan creep plays out. Greg at my suggestion (I am right now doing my turn as the rotating chair of the Ed Board) has decided to renew, to do an encore presentation on film noir private detectives which a number of readers have asked for in the wake of these other encore presentations. Alan approached Greg telling him that he, Allan, was the only one who could do justice to the encore introductions. WTF. I am the guy who put film noir private detection on the map, wrote the still definitive volume on film noir The Life and Times of Film Noir: 1940-1960. Yes, WTF. After I settled down, after I mentioned to Greg that Allan might know maybe that Humphrey Bogart played Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon that was probably the real extent of his knowledge whatever he tried to con Greg with. So that battle won I am here to introduce the various sketches which several writers have worked on over the years. Enough for now though except to say that Zack James’ take on real-life private detection is kind of interesting although not my cup of tea.  Once we get rolling I will expand on that idea.]    
By Zack James
Fred Sims’ tales of his life as a real live private investigator, P.I., gumshoe, shamus, private dick, or whatever you call it in your neighborhood depending on whether you had been in thrall to the old time black and white detective films like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep and picked the lingo there or just heard it on the streets, could only be taken in small doses. So said Alexander Slater, Alex, who for many years ran a print shop on the first floor of the Tappan Building in Carver where Fred had his office on the fifth floor. Many times the pair would run into one another at Dolly’s Diner across the street from the Tappan and they would sit and have their coffee and crullers together. Usually though the talk was on weather, of Alex’s children and grandchildren, Fred’s troubles with his latest girlfriend usually picked up from one of his cases since that was one of the few places where he would run into women who might be interested in him, or how the town of Carver, once the world famous hub of the cranberry industry, had gone to hell in a handbasket over the past few decades who with the place turning into a vanilla no problems need apply “bedroom community” for the young who had flowed to the high tech industry on Interstate 495 about fifteen miles away. If Alex wanted to hear some tale of Fred’s, maybe he had read some story in the Gazette or the Globe from Boston and wondered if Fred had run up against that kind of situation, he would go up to Fred’s office, plunk himself down in one of Fred’s drastically mismatched chairs (old-timer Fred did not believe in putting up a front and so his office did look like old Sam Slade’s cinematic one including the crooked coat rack), Fred would pull out a bottle of Johnny Walker Red, and Fred would answer his question with a story, or if he had no story that would match up with Alex’s inquiry then something from his files.                 
The story about the Malone brothers was just such a story, one that Fred told Alex even before he began to spin the thing was a prima facie case of turnabout is fair place, although he would admit that something about not being your brother’s keeper could have worked too. For this one Fred reached back into the 1950s when he was first starting out in the business, first had gotten himself the office in the Tappan Building and put up his sign, after he had gotten out of the Army where he had served as an MP in Germany during those Cold War days. Chester and Arthur Malone were financiers, or that is what they called themselves, guys who bought and sold stock for various clients’ accounts or for themselves if they saw a tidy profit in some hot stock. Strictly small potatoes around the Boston stock exchange and going nowhere fast until Chester hit upon the idea that he had read about that he, they could use one or more clients’ stock (or bonds although that was dicey) to buy high risk stock but which if it panned out would move them up the stock exchange food chain and into maybe some merger with a larger firm. Who knows what they would have finally wound up doing. This whole stock transfer idea aside from the questionable legal, moral and smart questions was essentially a Ponzi scheme, a scheme that has been around one way or another as long there have been suckers who have looked for high returns for little risk, so they, the suckers, think.
Well the long and short of it was that something went wrong, a few clients wanted their assets cashed in, something like that, and the Malones couldn’t cover fast enough. The clients squawked to the SEC and the boys went on the carpet, were going to jail for a nickel anyway. All the paper transfers though were in Arthur’s name and so they decided that since Arthur’s goose was cooked he wound take the fall, he would cop a plea saying that the whole operation had been his and Chester had nothing to do with his dealings. So he won the fiver, went down for the nickel. Arthur did his time, most of it anyway, but something happened in prison, who knows, maybe he became somebody’s “girl,” maybe he thought he had gotten a raw deal from his brother, maybe he didn’t like that his brother stole his wife away, stole her after she had divorced him when he went to prison. Whatever it was something had been eating at him by the time he got out.
Arthur though had his own game plan, kept his own consul, and when he got out he played the game so that Chester believed they were on good terms. Then Chester started getting threatening telephone calls, calls telling him that the party on the other line, a woman, but Chester though that was just a guy using a dame as a front that they knew he had been watering stock all the time that Arthur was in jail and that unless he forked up dough his life worthless. Chester was no fool though, had not been scamming for all those years to just fold up when some caller called. That’s when he called me, called me to his office saying that he had been getting threatening phone calls and wanted to know who was behind it.  I told him that would be a hard nut to crack but he insisted he needed help, wanted me to pursue the matter.
Here’s where everything got squirrelly though. Arthur, as part of his plan worked in the office after he got out, did his own hustling for accounts. While he had been away Chester had hired a secretary, what they now call administrative assistants but still are really secretaries with computer skills, Ms. Wyman, Bess, a looker about thirty. Arthur made a big play for her, which she tumbled too especially when he started dangling marriage in front of her. Of course, aside from the fact that after prison he could use a few off-hand tumbles which he considered a bonus, Arthur was using Bess to find out everything about Chester’s operations since he had been gone.
It turned out that Chester had been up to his old tricks, another Ponzi scheme of sorts. So one day after he thought he had enough information on his brother he called some of Chester’s clients and made them, a few anyway, believe that their accounts would be in trouble if they didn’t pull out fast. They did and as you might expect Chester couldn’t cover fast enough before the clients complained to the SEC. And so in his turn Chester did his nickel since al the transfers had his signature on them. It turned out that he had been the one who had sold Arthur out to the SEC on the previous scheme to save his own neck. So turnabout was fair play. As for me well I got paid off once the accounts were settled for basically doing nothing except cover Chester from a fall which I couldn’t do. Oh yeah, I got paid off too with a few tumbles with that Bess once she gave Arthur the heave-ho when she figured out he was playing her for a patsy. People are strange, right.

When ABBA Exploded The Known Musical Universe And Put It On A Small Greek Island- Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried s Mama Mia!-The Movie (2008)-A Film Review

When ABBA Exploded The Known Musical Universe And Put It On A Small Greek Island- Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried s Mama Mia!-The Movie (2008)-A Film Review

DVD Review
By Intern Josie Davis
Mama Mia! The Movie (I was told to use this title to both avoid confusion with the latter 2018 film which I will also review in its turn with the same theme and most of the same cast and to replicate the way the film was publicized at the time), starring the divine Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan at one time the dashing James Bond in the a few films in that series, Colin Firth who somebody said used to be the King of England,  Stellan Starsgard who used to be a guy named Terry with a junkie wife who owned a glass house in Malibu but got too greedy and got wasted for his troubles, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski two members of the famous doo wop, no disco, trio Donna and the Dynamos who tore up the stage when I saw them in New York City one night with my girlfriends from high school, music by ABBA, 2008         
I am thrilled to be writing my first film review for this publication, for Greg Green. (Greg said the way things are in the publication business today that I had better mention that I was Elsa Greg’s daughter’s roommate in journalism graduate school at NYU-something about transparency otherwise the whole thing will stink of nepotism, so I have written what he has asked me to do). I am working here as a paid intern to learn the journalism trade and right off the bat Greg assigned me the Mama Mia 2 film which I had just seen and loved. Not only that but since Elsa already told me that her father was very thorough I get to do a review of the first one as well to get a fresh look from new eyes about the relative merits of the two. Zack James one of the friendly older writers here who wrote the review of the original helped me with his perspective although he said musicals were not his and he thought there were too many musical and dance interludes something I thought was great since the storyline was pretty simple. The conditions that an intern work under is that, since we are not covered by Guild regulations, we are paid by the word so I am doubly thrilled to have two reviews to do since my rent will be coming up shortly and I can use the money since my parents have told me after graduate school I have to fend for myself. “Learn to fly” as my father put the matter in his usual gruff way.         
Maybe the reader did not need to know that last part, the rent money and parent abandonment part but a funny, wise, kind of looking like a modern version of  Merlin the Magician older writer, Sam Lowell, told me that writers getting paid by the word went out with the Pony Express and it is a shame that they are calling what he called stringers “interns” to get slave labor to do the work otherwise assigned to active Guild members. Here is where he is wise-Sam, he told me to call him Sam, said to play the game for all it is worth, to write like he did when he was starting out say, 10, 000 words when everybody knew that the space available for the piece was maybe 3000 words. They had to pay for the former number no matter how much they edited the piece down once it had been assigned. So I will write like crazy including Sam told what I have already written since Greg likes, allows his writers, I like how that word sounds regarding me, to let the readership know some of the “inside” stuff about the publishing business, the hard-hat water cooler stuff so I will oblige.      
Sarah Lemoyne, who went to NYU journalism school a few years before me, told me to avoid Sam Lowell like the plague. Told me that before long he would have me writing his reviews for him under his by-line and would keep me a stringer, intern I told her, forever like almost happened to legendary break-through by-line writers Leslie Dumont before she got her big break with Women Today once she saw the writing on the wall here. Sarah said I would probably, if Sam was in a rush, grab some studio press release and have her doll it up. Funny, Sam seems like a kindly old man, a wizard and while Sarah seems to be the star amount the younger up and coming writers and is being championed by the legendary Seth Garth whom I first heard about at NYU I haven’t been here, haven’t been as Sam says around the water cooler long enough to get an idea of who the players are and what they have in mind. All I know is that I want to be a film reviewer, maybe books and music later, and that Sam has been nice to me and gave me this additional information -this is a cutthroat business so keep your own counsel. Listen to what everybody who has something to say have their say and then discard most of it and just write that pure, fine white line you studied about in school. And forget the fossil “pyramid” nonsense which went out with the pharaohs although they still teach that stuff as the new dispensation in the journalism schools.
I have heard from more than one source that Sarah is “sweet” on Seth, he told me to call him Seth although I feel funny calling these older guys by their first names since in grad school when some journalist came through it was Ms. This or Mrs. That, even though she has a partner, a woman, whom she is having an affair with. Thus I don’t know how to take what she has said about Sam, about him maybe taking dead aim at me which is ridiculous since he has his long- time companion Laura Perkins who also writes here (and who when I met her watched him like a hawk). I see what this cutthroat stuff is all about regarding people cutting people but I am just going to write my brains out so Greg can say he made the right decision taking Elsa’s recommendation.
Here is the “skinny” a cute word that Sam said he coined way back when he was also young and hungry to let people know a little bit about the plot and whether they should bother to see the film if is a “dog.”  I already telegraphed that I liked the sequel, so I was prepared despite Zack to like this one and I did although now I wished I had seen them in the correct order because I was not aware that Sam, played by Pierce Brosnan had actually made Donna an honest woman. I will explain that in a minute but I just wanted to give the reader an idea why I thought it was important to have seen the films in order to understand why Sam was so distraught in most of the second film.
Sam Lowell, actually Sarah Lemoyne said the same thing but I will give Sam the credit since he has been so helpful, said that musicals don’t let plot get in the way of the Tin Pan Alley songs and the dancing when dancing is part of the project as here in a couple of spectacular episodes. And Sam in right on the face of it. The boy and girl have already met so that is no real factor-the real part is that young Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried is desperate to get married and get the hell off the island prison of a hotel that her single-parent Mom, Donna, played by very versatile Meryl Strep, have dwelt in since she was born. She loves her beau but doesn’t want to wind up like her mother who drifted to the island after a whirlwind spree with three lovers when she was younger. That three lovers will anchor the “controversy” central to the film-which one in pre-DNA times is the father she never knew taking a cue from Jack Kerouac among others in the unknown fathers pantheon (this courtesy of Sam who is something of an expert on the “beats” from the 1950s who I have heard of in passing but really don’t know anything about).       
Motivated by the desire to know who her father is, and to gain some peace of mind, she invites the three likeliest candidates, Sam, Harry and Bill to the island to see what is what and also to have her “father” give her away in the time-honored tradition. Fine, except dear mother, dear Donna who as I mentioned in the cast line-up I saw with her group Donna and the Dynamos in New York City when I was in high school, who has raised her alone is pissed off that the three guys are around. That will produce angst, alienation and a few heart-felt songs and dances between the two before the wedding bells ring but will be resolves nicely by having Mom give daughter away-which seems right. Hold the cameras though just as Sophie and her man, her Sky are about to tie the knot and unleash who knows what song and dance cascade at the reception Sophie calls the whole thing off after deciding that like any thoroughly modern Millie they should live together and see the world. In any case that new decision brings forth a cascade of song and dance so all is well that ends well. Except Sophie never does find out who her father is and the three guys are just as happy to cut her in thirds-metaphorically. And guess what as I have already mentioned Sam and Donna get married in Sophie and Sky’s place. A feel-good movie which will beget, Sam’s word, another feel-good movie in ten years’ time. Wait and see.               

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Will The Real Bond, James Bond Stand Up-Once Again On The War Of Words About The Man-And The Legend-With “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969)-A Film Review

Will The Real Bond, James Bond Stand Up-Once Again On The War Of Words About The Man-And The Legend-With “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969)-A Film Review

DVD Review
By Seth Garth
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring Diana Riggs, Telly Savalas, George Lazenby, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, 1969

Young up and coming young writer Will Bradley, folded like an accordion, folded int one of those origami constructions when divine site manager Greg Green asked him to once again do “dueling” reviews with me on the world historic question of who the real James Bond, you know Bond, James Bond, was, is since they are still cranking the bastards out and are even talking about bringing in a black Bond to reflect the times and despite Brexit the changing demographics of the British Empire, or whatever they call the remnant of an empire upon which the sun never. Of course that world historic question finally resolved itself around my championing the original cinematic James Bond, ruggedly handsome and every young women’s wet dream at the time Sean Connery who could probably still pull his weight in the role and young wet behind the ears and clueless Bradley plucking pretty boy and prissy Pierce Brosnan out of his slumber. Needless to say I beat poor young Will like a gong every time he even tried to put these two in the same paragraph. Made him look silly and naïve to think that somehow a guy like Pierce’s Bond who admittedly was nothing but a technie wonk and had no inner resources to get him through the hard parts could cut the mustard. So when the question came up about reviewing this post-Sean venture, On His, No Her Majesty’s Secret Service drawn from an Ian Fleming book he pleaded illness or something. Seeing that non-descript mercifully one-off George Lazenby was to do the Bond role that might have been the beginning of wisdom for the lad, for him to learn his craft a bit by bowing out. (Christ would anybody, even Will, want to champion a Bond named George against guys with names like Sean and even Pierce.)           
It is probably just as well Will bowed out since although I am feeling mellow these days while I am working with my protégé Sarah Lemoyne trying to get her up the vicious film reviewer food chain I am nevertheless ready for some verbal fisticuffs. I have stayed on the sidelines while Sarah learns the ropes, learns how to take on all-comers including the legendary Sam Lowell on his own turf, his film noir expertise. (In the inevitable need these days for transparency I have to admit that Sam and I have known each other forever, grew up together, which however does not preclude me from being miffed at him for hanging around too long and not letting the younger set go through their paces and so I was, am happy to help sweet young Sarah out and she appreciates me giving her the real deal lowdown.)
Even Sam recently admitted that she had talent despite his salacious remarks that there was “something going on between us,” between Sarah and I which has gotten her in trouble with her companion Clara. For the record, and both Sarah and Clara know this since I spoke about it one night when I took them both on to dinner, if I wanted to have a romance with Sarah I would not be shy about taking dead aim at her (and made Clara laugh that night when I mentioned just as she had done in her turn with Sarah). But I am not doing so for a couple of very good reasons which should end the gossip-I still am shell-shocked by my three unsuccessful marriages with its attendant brood of college worthy kids whom I am still paying off college tuitions on and for crying out loud I am no Johnny Silver with his young Penn State graduate student for I am old enough to be Sarah’s grandfather, have kids older than her. Done.       
To the film which is what I get paid to do. Whatever short-comings I found in Pierce Brosnan’s Bond by comparison with this Lazenby guy he seems like a ruggedly handsome virile, energetic character not afraid to speak more than one sentence at a time. Where the fuck they got this guy and why after Sean left is beyond me. Maybe he reflected the serious decline of the Empire or whatever the configuration, Commonwealth I guess they call the neo-colonial set-up and the inability as in Sean’s time to single-handedly save the Queen’s bacon. Lazenby could only save the queens, you, know the guys that in the old days we called light on their feet, prissy, silly which is a polite way to say not manly enough for the job. The plotline such as it reflects that since if you can believe this Lazenby’s Bond has only one lady-love, fetching Diana Riggs as a countess. No love them and leave them for dear George. Sickening.     
Here’s the play. Bond is still hot as hell in attempting for many reasons to nail this bastard Blofeld who has been nothing but a nemesis for a long time. Looking for leads he runs across the Countess whose father is a king hell king leader of a mob, a well-connected mob. The price for the Blofeld info-from Papa charm daring apple of his eye, or rather spit in his eye daughter. And Jimmy buys in. In any case the leads from Pa get him to Switzerland and Blofeld’s latest front-a research lab for ravenous young women. Real deal-they are the latter day “angels of death” evocative of the old Nazi crowd who are brainwashed into ruining the world’s food supply via various toxics which is really what dear Mr. B, played by hard-ass television star Telly Savalas and his private army of thugs and hangers-on are about. Naturally with a world-wide apparatus of deadly agents B makes his big play-pay or die world. And the world crumbles including sweet boy M (who never got over being roasted alive by Kim Philby and the Cambridge boys) of MI5-Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
But not Jimmy, not the Countess and more importantly not Papa who has his own ax to grind with blowhard B. Together they take down or think they have taken down B and his nefarious plans. Figuring B was toast Jimmy got all swoony over the Countess and they got married and  all lovey-dovey. Except remember this is loner Bond, love them and leave them Bond, and we have to think of the next film and whoever will do the Bond role since George rightfully bowed out -Blofeld didn’t die and came back to machine gun the poor Countess down leaving Jimmy bereft. WTF even Will would have to back off on this one.           

The Struggle For Labor Party In The United States- From "The Committee For a Mass Party Of Labor" Website

Click on the headline to link to a Committee For a Mass Party Of Labor Website entry.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

When The Fuse Burned Out On The Psycho-Thriller Genre-Diane Lane’s “The Glass House” (2001)-A Film Review

When The Fuse Burned Out On The Psycho-Thriller Genre-Diane Lane’s “The Glass House” (2001)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Leslie Dumont

The Glass House, starring Diane Lane, 2001

To be honest with you I think this scary psycho-thriller genre has been overplayed, has lost its ability to scare if that was the intention. That seems to me to be the case with the run-up on this latest thriller The Glass House that Greg Green threw at me since I was next in line to do one because it had been a while and Greg didn’t want me to go stale or something. I don’t know if there are any socially redeeming qualities to the psycho-thriller genre so I don’t feel any compulsion to add some weight by placing it in some outlandishly overrated cultural context. Let’s call it pure entertainment for a day when things didn’t go too badly at the office, school, golf course or whatever your social activity had been and can stand the weight of whatever some holy goof of a screenwriter decided would play in Peoria, or Pasadena which is probably more likely as an audience response testing site.

World weary teenager Ruby, all aflutter with the cares of the day to day existence of high school manias and getting through the day to hit the Valley Girl night comes up short, has to grow up really very quickly when her parents died in what turned out to be a mysterious car accident. That left her and her seriously holy goof brother Rhett with a ton of dough and no home. Enter Terry and Erin Glass and hence the film title, ex-neighbors of the family in the Valley who hit some dough and moved to the swanky districts of ocean view Malibu and a glass-encased house, or maybe that is the reference in the title. Who knows and in the end who cares except a lot of craziness goes on in that swanky house. The Glasses are deemed to be worthy of taking care of the kids and so that starts the ball rolling. But sharp Ruby full of angst, alienation and teen hubris (not to be confused with real hubris like from the actions of the Greek gods) begins very early on to suspect that not all is right with this picture. Helped of course by the foolery of Terry and the aid of junkie Erin.    

We are then taken on a roller coaster ride of twists and turns to what we already know, since Ruby is our indefatigable guide, that these people are frauds, are up to their necks in treachery (and Erin dope) and that in the end Terry and Erin will one way or another take the big step-off for their sins, mortal and venial. Will learn the hard way what comes to mind from the film’s title-people in glass houses should not throw stones-or something like that. We begin to learn that lesson, begin to learn not all is right in sweet paradise Malibu when dear sweet Ruby finds out that their old life is kaput, no more private schools, social activities as they are basically entombed in the glass cage. Reason: simple-Terry is up to his eyeballs to loan sharks and Erin, who in the end will commit suicide has nothing but a slow death junkie’s lament going for her.       

Along the way Terry tries to not so subtly seduce the winsome Ruby, attempts to kill her and her brother by various means, gains some reprieves from assorted social welfare agencies by ruse and fancy-footwork, runs afoul of the mob’s “repo” men and in a final confrontation Ruby wastes the wastrel Terry via a good kick in the police car butt. Maybe after twenty years of therapy and some serious forget drugs these kids will be able to sleep at night again without the nightmares but as we leave this scene I would not count on it. No way. Now way would I call this a great thriller by any means and the thing would not be unwelcome as yet another example of the overkill of the genre. Too bad.