Saturday, September 26, 2009

See Me on Starz Talking Zombies!

Back in March, I went to Hallifax to be interviewed about zombies by documentary filmmaker Donna Davies; I worked with her previously on Pretty Scary, her doc abut women in horror.

Th result, Zombiemania, now has an airdate: October 13th.

Here's the office press release:

Zombies the new Vampire? Starz Premieres "Starz Inside: Zombiemania" on Oct. 13th

Move over, Twilight, “True Blood” and “Vampire Dairies,” there is a new breed of monster in town. With the premiere of Zombieland with Woody Harrelson in theaters today and two other projects in the works for DreamWorks, Xombie and Rainbow Ridge, zombies are set to pose some stiff competition to their monster genre counterparts. Starz will explore the world wide craze, from its history to its current role in pop culture with the premiere of Starz Inside: Zombiemania on Tuesday, Oct. 13th at 10pm et/pt. Zombie ‘experts’ including Max Brooks, author of “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z” and the “Grandfather of Zombie films” George Romero will weigh in on the impact of high-profile films like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead and the proliferation of independent zombie films across the country.

...and I talk about pretty much everything else, from Italian zombies to the evolution of the walking dead from Haitian folklore to all purpose metaphor (AIDS, spiritual suicide, the disenfranchised underclass... and much, much more, as the carnie spielers used to say) to Nazi zombies to the great slombie/zombie schism.

I'm sure Starz will be airing it throughout October so please tune in!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pandorum = Alien + The Descent +... a whole lot of other space horror movies. Which isn't to say it isn't pretty entertaining most of the time, only that if you're a genre fan, you'll be ticking off boxes in your head from start to finish.

Read my review here, and then check out my review of German-born director/co-writer Christian Alvart's debut, the serial-killer picture Antibodies — which I liked a lot — here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Freaky Emmy Award Facts!

OK, not such a huge fan of award shows generally and the Emmys in particular, because I really don't watch enough TV to have a dog in that fight.

But my ears prick up when I hear the words "kidney" "Jeannie Epper" and "donate" in the same Emmy Award thank-you sentence.

Jeannie Epper is part of the famous stunt family — she was Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman double (if you haven't seen the documentary Double Dare, starring Epper and Zoe Bell of Kill Bill and Xena: Warrior Princess, do so immediately — and apparently donated a kidney to newly minted Emmy-award winner Ken Howard (Grey Gardens).

Now that's a friend and one hell of a woman.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cole Clemens, So You Think You Can Dance and the Exquisite Embarassment of Silence...

True confession: I've never watched So You Think You Can Dance and I don't plan to start. But I don't live under a rock, so the derisive hubbub that accompanied Cole Clemens' decision to do a solo without music — the consensus seems to be that he's a world-class nutbag (as though that's a bad thing in realitytvworld) — didn't escape my notice.

Before we proceed any further, here's a link to the clip:

Cole's notorious number

A little background: I grew up in the New York dance world and worked for New York City Ballet for twelve years. I think Clemens' piece is pretentious, juvenile folly, plus his hair sucks and he uses the phrase "very unique."

But I also feel compelled to point out that the very idea of dancing without music is neither crazy nor new. Cue the second clip, which includes both commentary and footage of Jerome Robbins' 100% music-free Moves. That's Jerome Robbins as in arguably the greatest American dance maker of the 20th century, the guy who choreographed both crowd-pleasing Broadway shows like West Side Story and purely classical works like The Goldberg Variations.

Moves clip

Moves was first performed in 1959 — that's 50 years ago. And if you're a judge on a show called So You Think You Can Dance, you should know and/or acknowledge as much instead of sniggering.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Final Destination? Hah!

Let's see now, two weeks at the top of the US box office, including Labor Day weekend.

Is Death finally going to take a holiday? Somehow I don't think so. Brace yourself for more Final Destination pictures, and remember: When Death comes for you, just save yourself and everyone you know a whole lot of grief and go.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Top 25 Beatles Songs -- Do You Agree with EW? I Don't.

Okay, I’m not really a huge one for making top “Fill in the Blank” lists, and that’s partly because sometimes biology really is destiny. Take it from novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity): Compulsive list making is a guy thing, like slavishly alphabetizing your CDS and books. We don’t understand.

And yet here I am, doing it, because I just can’t get with Entertainment Weekly’s list of “Top 25 Beatles songs,” which appears in the new issue (September 11, 2009). Actually, it’s a top 50 list, but I don’t have the energy for that, so I cut it off at 25 in the name of having the energy to then compile my own alternate list.

Here they are:

EW’s List:
1.) A Hard Day’s Night
2.) A Day in the Life
3.) Yesterday
4.) Strawberry Fields Forever
5.) Something (in the Way She Moves)
6.) She Loves You
7.) Let It Be
8.) Tomorrow Never Knows
9.) Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
10.) Across the Universe
11.) Eleanor Rigby
12.) Penny Lane
13.) Help!
14.) Hey Jude
15.) In My Life
16.) While My Guitar Gently Weeps
17.) You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
18.) Blackbird
19.) Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
20.) Can’t Buy Me Love
21.) Revolution
22.) If I Fell
23.) We Can Work It Out
24.) I’m Only Sleeping
25) I’m a Loser

My List:
1.) Hard Day’s Night
2.) Yesterday
3.) Eleanor Rigby
4.) I’ve Just Seen a Face
5.) I’m Looking Through You
6.) Penny Lane
7.) Your Mother Should Know
8.) With a Little Help from My Friends
9.) She’s Leaving Home
10.) Let it Be
11.) You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
12.) Money Can’t Buy Me Love
13.) Paperback Writer
14.) I Want to Hold Your Hand
15.) Get Back
16.) Come Together
17.) Got to Get You Into My Life
18.) Girl
19.) We Can Work It Out
20.) I Saw Her Standing There
21.) Hello Goodbye
22.) She Loves You
23.) When I’m Sixty-Four
24.) Yellow Submarine
25.) Run for Your Life

Clearly, there’s plenty of overlap: “Hard Day’s Night,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Let It Be,”“Penny Lane,” “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “We Can Work It Out…” I mean, some of them really are beyond argument. And some of the titles in my top 25 appear farther down on EW’s list, like the seductive, sinister “ComeTogether” (their no.44), the bitingly witty, compulsively melodic “Paperback Writer” (their no.26), the brittle, melancholy “With a Little Help From My Friends,” (their no.40) and the exuberant “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (their no.43).

But for my money (you know, the stuff that can’t buy me love), there’s a whole lot ofpretentious, overrated, simplistic junk on EW’s list. Naysayers can mock “Yesterday” as sappy until they turn blue (meanies) and it will still be a rueful heartbreak song as vivid and timeless as Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “One formy Baby (and One More for the Road).” But I hate “Hey Jude” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and think “Girl” is a way better song than “Norwegian Wood.”

I find “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “A Day in the Life” painfully dated, and “Blackbird” and “Revolution” obvious and preachy.

I love the way the bitterness of the lyrics is at war with the bouncy tune of “I’m Looking Through You” and “Hello Goodbye.” “She’s Leaving Home” is an amazing feat of narrative songwriting that manages to contain two completely contradictory perceptions of the same event.

Yes, “Yellow Submarine” is viciously catchy and kinda goofy, but it’s so upfront that its silliness is downright ballsy. And “When I’m Sixty-Four” is all that and then some — marrying a music hall-style, novelty song tune to lyrics that evoke both the first flush of overwhelming love, the kind that makes you imagine blissfully growing old together, and the nagging fear that maybe it won’t last takes a kind of pop genius. Especially when you’re 16, as Paul McCartney was when he wrote it in 1958 (it wasn’t recorded until nearly ten years later).

As to “Run for Your Life,” well, that’s sheer blood mindedness on my part: Recorded for 1965’s “Rubber Soul,” it’s so not early Beatles, and I don’t care that it’s derivative (of “Baby, Let’s Play House, which Elvis Presley recorded in 1955), or that it’s misogynistic or and that John Lennon (generally cited as the sole author, despite the Lennon/McCarthy credit) said it was his least favorite Beatles song. he hated it. I like it. So there.

What about you? (Oh, and check out my review of Across the Universe (pictured above), the Julie Taymor movie that looks at the turbulent 1960s through the prism of the Beatles song catalog. It’s uneven, but when it’s working it makes you hear classic Beatles songs as though they were brand new. That’s no mean feat, and it’s never less than gorgeous.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Halloween and Friday the 13th Intersect at a Jersey Movie Theater...

So here I was, minding my own business and trying to see whether Carriers was playing anywhere in the greater New York area on September 4.... Since the answer appeared to be "no," I widened my search area and low and behold, this theater appeared:

Ritz 16 Theaters
900 Berlin-Haddonfield Road
Voorhees, NJ 08403

Yes, there is a movie theater on Berlin-Haddonfield Road in Voorhees New Jersey. How can these things be?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dalek Love

I'm not a big Who-head (Torhwood is more my style), but I always loved the Daleks. So this video, which recuts clips from a relatively recent episode (the Christopher Eccleston series) into the soiry of a Dalek in love with the Doctor's sidekick really tickled me. Especially because it's cut to a remix of "Tainted Love" and the classic Dr. Who theme.

Click here... and prepare to be amazed at just how many other Dalek-related clips there are on YouTube.