Sunday, August 18, 2019

Thank God It's Friday

My loveseat is in my kitchen. So is my wingback chair, as is my entertainment console, and two huge bookcases. So is the other living room chair, and four stools. My dining room table that seats 8 is dismantled, and is leaning against my refrigerator, like a wooden, tipsy monolith. There is no room to move.

The kitchen countertops are clear of debris. They're clear of everything, really, because they're covered by plastic sheeting. My backsplash is nearly done, its grey, one-inch glass tiling adhered to the wall, but not grouted. It looks great, but nearly done is certainly not finished, and being unfinished makes it extraordinarily difficult to make coffee.

If this sounds uncharacteristically dour, I'm struggling to find the humor in all this. I've been moving for what seems like a year. I guess all my jokes are still packed in cardboard.

It's not all doom and gloom. I am very much enjoying my new neighborhood. I could swing a dead cat and hit artisan cupcakes, "old fashioned" hot dogs (I'm unsure what that means, and scared to find out), Asian noodles, European cookies, vegan soft-serve, three breweries, Croque Monsieurs, falafel, and stone-oven pizza, although I wouldn't recommend swinging one. A dead cat, that is. Don't swing a Croque Monsieur.

As I write this, I'm sitting on my dusty living room floor on a torn piece of carpet underlayment, near two large 2' by 10' holes where some of the original circa-1880 floor used to be. The joists are visible, and I'm annoyed. Sure, we knew the flooring would have to be replaced, but this project has stretched on longer than planned.

Last night, I watched Thank God It's Friday for Reelweegiemidget's Jeff Goldblum Blogathon in my dusty, empty living room, sitting on a piece of torn carpet underlayment, leaning against several boxes of luxury vinyl plank flooring. It's a long way from luxury, and I'm losing the feeling in my legs.

Ok, so enough about that. Onto the review.

Thank God It's Friday

Jeff Goldblum gets third billing. Debra Winger is way down the list. Remarkably enough, Terri Nunn, lead vocalist for 80s synth pop group Berlin, has a big part in the film. Although in the film only a short time, Donna Summer gets billed last, and it's apparent she's the reason the film exists at all.

Future Academy Award nominee Debra Winger wipes her friend with a cheeseburger. Jeff Goldblum drives a yellow Porsche and goes to great lengths to protect it with a car cover stored in the trunk. The car has a license plate that reads, "Big One". Terri Nunn hitchhikes. In a repeated joke, Goldblum's car gets sideswiped by the supporting cast's vehicles.

Meanwhile, Jeff Goldblum glares at a sweaty elevator operator wearing a gorilla costume. Two uptight squares on an anniversary date blink in amazement at strobe lights and striped knee-high socks while they carry around a pepper mill.

Meanwhile, Wrong Way Floyd is in charge of getting The Commodores equipment to a midnight gig in a Ford Econoline. At least I assume so. I'm often accused of having "car blindness", where I think every car I see is a Buick. Or maybe it's a Futura.

Anyway, I'm not sure if anyone is aware of this, but bands just don't show up with a saxophone 5 minutes before a gig. Contracts are signed, routes are planned, semis are packed, egos are stroked, and deli meats and bottled waters are set out backstage. Don't ask me how I know this. I just do.

Sidebar: Once many years ago I went to a child's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's. Wait, that sounds like I wanted to go. Let's try that again. Many years ago, my children were invited to a fellow child's birthday party, and I was forced to suffer through laughter, tears, skee-ball, and mediocre pizza. Yeah, that's more like it. 

The animatronic band onstage in a corner of the restaurant coughed, stuttered, lurched, and wheezed through a hideous rendition of Brick House which had been curiously reworked to feature a pizza-slinging mouse as the protagonist. Dozens of children ignored it, while I stared aghast in horror.

Do we have a clip? Hurray! We have a clip.

Marv Gomez The Leatherman gives a guy a leather jacket and disco lessons before dancing atop a phone booth. Donna Summer serves a salad. Donna Summer and Terri Nunn simultaneously cry in a bathroom, which is remarkable considering both performed on songs that won Oscars for Best Original Song. No, performers do not win the Oscar, only the songwriter, which is kind of a rip-off if you think about it. Actors win Oscars for performing scripts that usually do not write, so that's food for thought.

Speaking of food, Jeff Goldblum's Porsche falls apart after a tap with the pepper mill. The male square gets high on booze, pills, and amyl nitrate and takes a ride with Tarzan. Lionel Richie plays sax.

Thank God It's Friday makes a night out on the town look like Black Friday at Walmart, except with dancing, so it's a film that makes an evening of dancing look sort of like a crowded, noisy chore you do with sweaty, flailing strangers, where several people get punched and someone goes home with a regrettable tube top.

It's an anti-disco disco movie with forgettable tunes as script, with the notable exception of the two Commodores tunes and the Oscar-winning Donna Summer song. It's such an anti-disco disco movie it's almost a cautionary tale for the entire decade. Since Donna Summer is the draw for the film, she should have been given more to do, as she's luminous during the performance of Last Dance. Thank God It's Friday has an unmistakeable Love Boat or Charlie's Angels feel throughout, which isn't a compliment, although it absolutely should be, as if the filmmakers kept the 4/4 beat and the campy, polyester fashions, but forgot the fun. Jeff Goldblum is slick and sleazy in green and red polyester, which is a compliment.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Picture Of Dorian Gray

This post was supposed to be a part of the Adoring Angela Lansbury Blogathon hosted by Realweegiemidget Reviews, but I never finished it. I would like to thank Gill for inviting me to contribute, but my life and everything in it has gotten completely out of hand, and I've rewritten it three times. Here is the review, whether anyone wants it now or not. 

Well, before I get on with the review, I'll explain my delay. My wife and I have been trying to sell Deathrage Tower, as we are trying to downsize, which means we are going to sell our current, perfectly acceptable penthouse and move into a larger, more extravagant penthouse because why wouldn't we. We'd prefer to move from our penthouse near quirky shops and interesting bars and restaurants which we never go to, and move into a completely different yet extremely similar penthouse near other quirky shops and interesting bars and restaurants that are new to us that we will never visit, and we'd like everything to be unnecessarily expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. 

Deathrage Tower. Yes, it's always blurry, in black and white, and lacking in curb appeal. 

Mrs. Deathrage has gone totally KonMari and has packed up everything that makes me somewhat interesting. Apparently, home buyers want a listing to appear somewhat "lived in", but also need the property to be a "blank slate", to help them imagine their own furnishings and belongings within the space, without the current owners' personalities overwhelming it. That means Mrs. Deathrage has packed up all my DVDs, CDs, LPs, books about psychotronic film, cursed paintings, candles shaped like skulls, carvings of skulls, paintings of skulls, actual skulls, and for some unknown reason, the microwave. I can't find anything.

Is this a photo of Deathrage Tower, or a Japanese capsule hotel room? Who knows? Also, it's taken so long to write this post no one talks about Marie Kondo any more.

So this means I'm pulling skulls shaped like candles out of boxes and putting them back on shelves, and throwing art back on the walls that's been stored away, which I'll then have to put back in a box once we eventually move.

When I'm not packing and unpacking my extremely cool decorations, Mrs. Deathrage has been forcing me to watch the Great Interior Design Challenge, where two interior design professionals challenge four amateur interior designers to design a room for British home owners who seem to be unable to decorate their own houses, often to the death.

I'm kidding, they don't do that, although it would be interesting to see one of the design professionals tell one of the competitors, "I'm sorry, your choice of wallpaper is tragic. Please put on this blindfold, and stand near your tragically decorated wall. *points revolver at contestant*"

One thing I do find fascinating about the show is that over the course of the season, the competitors not only find confidence in their interior design skills, but they become more dramatic in their choice of apparel, as they shed their jeans and t-shirts for intricate brocade tops that look like valances. 

He saw it in the window and just couldn't resist it.

So far, the sale of the penthouse isn't going well, in spite of my efforts to be welcoming and hospitable by placing fresh cut flowers in all the rooms, brewing pot after pot of fresh coffee, and setting out tins of extravagantly flavored cookies. One thing that is possibly hurting the sale of our penthouse is that I often lurk in the lobby hiding behind some potted plants watching potential buyers tour our home. It might also be because I mock these potential buyers while yelling in a deep, gravely voice, "Don't drink the freshly brewed coffee. The aroma is for ambience. Don't eat the exotically flavored cookies in extravagant tins. They're decorative."

Maybe I'm unsure what welcoming and hospitable means.

Much to my chagrin, we keep getting feedback from potential buyers after they tour our home. A recurring theme seems to be that they like the amenities (proximity to good schools, near bars and restaurants), but they dislike the decor (candles are threatening, paintings appear to be cursed).

Here's a little feedback for ya: Like, duh, and no one asked you. That's why I keep putting these paintings back on the walls.

Potential buyers also seem to be unimpressed by the soundscape I've specifically curated for just the right atmosphere, which is dungeon synth, medieval party mixes, and nordic ambient, which I keep playing from a hidden speaker no one can locate or turn off.

Obviously, I've never been particularly good with feedback. Speaking of feedback, maybe during our next open house, I'll play this:

Also, there seems to be a legend surrounding Deathrage Tower that a guy with horns, cloven hooves, and a tail haunts the place, but I've never seen him.

Speaking of unexplainable paranormal events, we went to an open house for a penthouse that fits our exacting demands; once two weekends ago, and again on Sunday. Here's how that went down.

Yes, this really happened.

Two weeks ago:
First Realtor: This space has an interesting energy.
Me, pointing a finger accusingly: What the heck is that supposed to mean? Is this a stigmatized property?
First Realtor, becoming suddenly grave: No. No, it isn't. No. *pause* No.
Me: Seriously, this joint being haunted is not a deal-breaker.

Completely Different Realtor, actively smudging the penthouse with smoldering sage: Sorry about the smell.
Me, coughing, dumbfounded: OK, what the heck is going on? Last week, a realtor denied this was a stigmatized property, and now you're smudging the place.
Realtor, realizing their mistake, and desperately attempting to reassure me: I live in the neighborhood. I've had some good times here. I partied here in the 80s. I'm just trying to dispel some negative energies.
Me: Seriously, this isn't a deal-breaker.

That penthouse is still our Plan A, I'm genuinely surprised I wasn't dispelled from all that sage, and I'm assuming those were actual realtors. Let me know if I show up on one of those ghost hunting reality TV programs, will you?

LOL, ok, whatever.

Anyway, as I've been awfully busy being awful, I didn't have a chance to finish my review of The Picture Of Dorian Gray for the blogathon. It was a thrill to watch something filmed during the middle of the last century and having little if anything to do with home decorating for a change. Here's what I wrote. It's incomplete, you know, because of the redecorating, cookies, and procrastination.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray

A Lord twiddles a walking stick suggestively, then poisons a butterfly and sticks it to a card with a pin.


Vapid, smirking Dorian Gray stands near a magical statue of an Egyptian Cat, mimicking its features. The Lord and the painter fawn over the painting as Dorian just stands around. Later, Dorian Gray slums in the working class pub The Two Turtles, and becomes enthralled with Angela Lansbury's character, the symbolically named Sibyl Vane, who sings a sweet song. The Lord suggests Sibyl is not as wholesome as she appears, and eggs Dorian into some shady shenanigans. While playing Chopin's Prelude Number 24 on the piano for her, Dorian tries to trick Sibyl into a bit of hanky panky.


After reading a quote from Wilde, Dorian turns callous and calculating. Sibyl drops a single tear. When she complies with Dorian's carnal wishes, fulfilling the Lord's underhanded business, Dorian tosses her aside. Then lots of movie and dialogue happens, where the cast talks about all the hideous things Dorian has done, but never shows them. Someone offhandedly remarks that there are rumors Dorian has been hanging around in Whitechapel. Occasionally, the titular picture is shown in vivid technicolor. Painted for the film by Ivan Albright, you can see it in person at the Art Institute of Chicago, which I have, and it's incredible. If it was for sale, I'd likely hide it in my own attic. Yes, my penthouse has an attic. Shut up. It does so.

That's all I have. Angela Lansbury is great, but her appearance is brief.

Are you really still reading this? Wow, I'm impressed!

Anyway, I'd like to thank Gill from RealweegiemidgetReviews again for inviting me to contribute to the Adoring Angela Lansbury Blogathon which I totally dropped the ball on.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Exorcist II: The Heretic

Again, Realweegiemidget has me out of my element. I'm thrilled to take part in the Regaling About Richard Burton Blogathon, even though Richard Burton seems to have been in tons of great movies I haven't seen. Since Exorcist II: The Heretic is #85 on IMDB's Bottom Rated Movies (of which I've only seen 22, I guess I've been slacking), it would allow me to check another film off the list.

Since watching bad movies, checking things off lists, procrastination, and non-sequiturs are some of my favorite things, I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Krampusnacht, and I hope the holiday is merry and bright.

Anyway, I'll try to stay on message, but I can't guarantee anything.

Speaking of procrastination, even though I knew about the Blogathon for months, I waited until the last possible minute to watch this film, because I've been busy checking things off lists and searching the internet for pictures of Krampus.

Mrs. Deathrage doesn't care much for horror films, and I usually wait until she's asleep to watch those films, but because I procrastinated, I ordered the movie off Amazon and started it up while she was working at her computer, blissfuly unaware of what is about to go down.

Naturally, Mrs. Deathrage and I had the following conversation.

Mrs. Deathrage, as the TV shrieks and howls with the guttural wailing and caterwauling of the Ennio Morricone score: Oh no, is this scary? This sounds scary.
Me: No, it only got a 3.7 at IMDB, so it couldn't be that scary. 
TV, interjecting itself into the conversation by showing images of a woman pelting Richard Burton with lit candles and immolating herself:
Me: Hmm.
Mrs. Deathrage: Hmm.
TV, adding insult to injury, showing images of Linda Blair tap dancing to Lullaby Of Broadway:
Mrs. Deathrage, returning to her work:
Louise Fletcher: 3 people died.
Mrs. Deathrage, looking up from her work: Who died?
Me, incredulously: Are you expecting me to explain the plot of the first Exorcist film?
Mrs. Deathrage, guilelessly: Isn't it nice to be married to someone where you can revisit the classics again and again?
TV, trying not to be outdone, responding with 20 minutes of flashing lights and eye-blinking:

Then Linda Blair unexpectedly says the phrase, "Father, can you hear me?", and I try not to burst into song.

Meannwhile, as I wade through Youtube videos of the Yentl soundtrack, superimposed images of Linda Blair in a dual role grappling Louise Fletcher's gooey heart materialize onscreen, which was actually pretty cool.

Then Richard Burton tries to put out a fire with crutches, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but press release photos of this exact image. It's a Krampusnacht miracle.

Suddenly, Linda Blair hunkers down behind her Manhattan skyscraper rooftop chrome disco pigeon containment system, and that is a thing that apparently existed, but I'm not sure why it needed such a prominent role in this film.

However, I'm glad it did because I can now insert at least one video of a disco version of Tubular Bells.

Because it's in the script, Linda Blair tap-dances some more, and it's pretty dull in spite of the extravagant headwear. Wait a sec, I spoke too soon. LB lurches off the stage and has a sequined, screeching fit.

Sorry, I couldn't find a video for the sequined, screeching fit, however, I did find a video from Linda Blair's appearance in the film Roller Boogie featuring the disco classic "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Sylvester, and that's nearly as good.

See, that was good, wasn't it? Anyway, the cast takes planes, trains, and automobiles to the setting of the original film, just to remind everyone watching what this movie is supposedly about.

Because this movie takes place in the 70s, an unconvincing almost sort of plane crash is squeezed in like an unwanted commercial for about a million other movies involving plane crashes from the time period.

Then Richard Burton takes about 100 million bugs to the face, and he's a trooper about it.

Spoiler alert: The last few minutes of the film puts its foot on a bunch of paranormal stuff and mashes it right in there because it's desperately needed to liven things up, and there's a flaming car crash, Louise Fletcher being pierced by some barbed wire, another immolation, a building cracking apart and glowing, a serious insect infestation, Linda Blair's dubbed scream, and plummeting home values.

Exorcist II: The Heretic is ridiculous, dull, plodding, and completely scare-free. Considering the original film's subject matter, Exorcist II: The Heretic is surprisingly heavy with grasshoppers and sequins. Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, and James Earl Jones do the best they can with the terrible dialogue and meandering plot. I'm not 100% sure what Linda Blair is attempting to do. There's no pea soup, no Mike Oldfield, and no levitating beds, although one does hop around a bit.

So, strap on your roller skates and save yourself about 1 hour and 54 minutes and get down to the funky trailer, which shows every exciting thing that happens in the movie, including the sequined fit. Consider it a little Krampusnacht gift.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Airport '77

Thanks so much to Realweegiemidget for inviting me to take part in this Lee Grant blogathon, although I was reluctant to participate. Longtime readers of my blog will know that I focus on terrible films, or documentaries that explore various subjects in Forteana. Glancing briefly at Lee Grant's filmography, I would be totally out of my element, considering she has been nominated for an Academy Award four times (winning for Shampoo). As far as I can tell, she has never appeared in a film where she is shown crouched behind a boulder in the woods searching for Bigfoot, although she did once get attacked by killer bees.

Ooh, I'm going to have to bookmark this one for later.

My fears were proven misplaced. Case in point: Behold her appearance in the Bermuda Triangle-themed disaster film Airport '77, which fits at least two of my criteria for review, one: the fortean phenomena of The Bermuda Triangle, and two: Airport '77 is pretty darn bad.

A star-studded, sideburned, Dry Look-ed, disaster extravaganza, Airport '77's complicated plot involves the heist of several paintings and other valuables stowed in the belly of an improbably huge plane, as the crooks attempt to steal these items through the use of costume changes, toupees, and knockout gas, which causes the plane to crash into the Bermuda Triangle. 

An improbably huge 3-story jumbo jet filled to bursting with Rembrandts, vintage wines, and antique autos warehoused in its cargo hold, this plane is outfitted with offices, a surprisingly turbulence-proof and chockful-of-breakables lounge area, unseen-but-mentioned sleeping rooms, a laserdisc player, and a table-top Pong video game. Could a plane like this exist? Could it manage to get off the ground? I don't know, and I don't want to do the research to find out. Don't @ me, because I really can't be bothered to care.

Standing out amongst a crowd of stars, one really can't stop watching Lee Grant, and she devastates everyone in eyeshot with more than a few withering glares. It's obvious who the queen is on this flight, so you'd better watch yourself Olivia De Havilland. Ms. Grant is impeccably pantsuited, and brooched within an inch of her life. She requires one brooch on her outerwear, and one brooch underneath.

Mrs. Deathrage commented that this film resembles a 'QVC in the skies'.

Air traffic controllers lose radar contact with the flight, which results in someone tapping the glass screen of the radar (if I recall correctly, this often was a logical fix with cathode-ray TVs at the time), and shrugging their shoulders because, 'Well, they're in the Bermuda Triangle', and that sort of thing often happens with flights, I guess. 

During the painting theft, where the thieves choose between which priceless masterpiece they'd rather burgle with no real place to go, the plane seems to skim across the surface of the ocean in some rather convenient Bermuda Triangle fog, and the plane clips one of those smack-dab-in-the-middle of the Bermuda Triangle oil rigs. The plane's engines flame out, causing someone to crash through plate glass, someone else to fall down the jet's spiral staircase, someone else to get steamrolled by a grand piano, someone else to fly through an intricately carved wooden partition, and someone else to get beaned by a champaign chiller, resulting in some unintentional hilarity.

The plane settles into the bottom of the ocean, everyone becomes remarkably teary-eyed, and Christopher Lee carries an injured passenger past some obvious camera shadows. Then Darren McGavin grabs a handful of soggy shag carpeting.

After a partially successful attempt to release an inflatable raft to the surface, where we're judging the success of the attempt on the ratio of survivors, Christopher Lee's lifeless corpse drifts past the aircraft's windows, causing someone to offer an inconsolable Lee Grant a beverage, and by that I mean they forcefully pour the contents of a mini bottle of J&B down her throat. Lee Grant somnambulantly tries to open the door of the plane, and Brenda Vaccaro decks her, keeping the remaining passengers alive for a few minutes.

Suddenly, the navy shows up, and Mrs. Deathrage comments on the rescuers' short-shorts. The threat that a coxswain might appear is very real.

Meanwhile, the survivors in the plane break out in a sweat, but I doubt it has anything to do with the short-shorts. 

The film ends in a clown-car like fashion, where dozens of people escape the re-sinking of the plane in a frantic fashion, most of whom I don't recall seeing in the previous two-hours of film while Jimmy Stewart looks off into the distance with a look on his face as though he's pinched a nerve. 

Featuring some fairly convincing underwater footage and startling special effects where several Academy Award winners and nominees are threatened with actual drowning, Airport '77 is surprisingly watchable for something so awful. Lee Grant is magnetic throughout, and is compelling even when the script isn't. Not to be outdone, Olivia De Havilland's blue eyeshadow and oversized sunglasses should have been nominated for dueling Supporting Actor Oscars.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Giant From The Unknown

My career has been using the rest of my life as a speed bump, so I'm kicking out some freaked out jams, pushing myself to the limit physically with yoga and T25 as a distraction, burning too much incense to dispel rancorous vapors, getting my diet straight (no more snack cakes?), and trying to plan several family vacations because if I don't take a vacation soon I might flip my gourd. Again. I've been saying this too much lately.

After being nominated to do one of those "10 Films in 10 Days" twitter things where I commented that I'm probably the worst person to do that because I 'have crap taste, the attention span of a two-year old, and a complete inability to follow simple instructions', my dodgy memory was jogged, and  I remembered that I never finished watching Giant From The Unknown because I collapsed in a heap in my chair from physical and mental exhaustion, and I never finished writing the review.

Full disclosure: I never plan on watching this film to its conclusion, and you can't make me. My memories of the film are foggy at best, so just try to keep up. 

Two archaeologists I guess and a typical 50s female love interest with no visible personality whose only attributes seem to be the ability to cook and clean for the male leads hunt for a giant murderous conquistador supposedly in this desperately awful horror film.

The male archaeologist points at a map and says "It should be here" which is where he found some sort of Spanish cross on his expedition, and the map has a big X on it that reads "Cross found here", which is always helpful. Meanwhile the love-interest daughter stays behind at the camp to cook and clean because what else could she possibly be good for except the pivotal discovery of the plot point of the film?

After sweeping the area with a metal detector, the daughter checks her appearance in her compact because accidental archaeology demands a crisp lip-line. After she leaves the compact on a log, a conquistador helmet is found under a thin layer of soil. Science!

After a montage of found artifacts, a conquistador skeleton is found with a gasp. No, a gasp didn't find it, someone found it and gasped. I just said she used a metal detector. Jeez. Please stay focused.

Some stock thunder and lightning effects are shown, then the giant conquistador which is not at all a decomposed 400-year old skeleton rises from beneath a suspiciously convenient log. More easily-accessed metal artifacts are found beneath some fallen leaves because I think that's where the art director left them.

The male lead archaeologist and the love-interest daughter stand in front of a matte painting of a lake for romance because when true love strikes like a stock effect bolt-from-the-blue, no expense is spared except in this and every other aspect of this movie.

The giant conquistador gets an eyeful of the daughter's bullet-brassiered silhouette as she changes clothes in her illuminated tent (va-va-voom, you saucy conquistador!), which causes her to accidentally shoot a hole in her cot with a gun.

At this point, I fell asleep, and wandered away forever from this film. I'm assuming everything turned out for the best, but I really don't care that much, and I'd rather you didn't tell me the ending.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New Wave: Dare To Be Different

Long-time readers of this blog will note that it is often my modus operandi to obfuscate and distract from my complete absence of knowledge on any number of subjects, my lack of human emotion, and my obsessive need to avoid reflection and contemplation through the act of posting a music video. Expect an abundance of the same with this review.

Let's get this whole business about the phrase "New Wave" out of the way. An appropriate catch-all misnomer applied to a disparate number of musical groups, it seemingly describes a genre no band was ever a part of. If used to describe the biggest wave of British groups to hit the Billboard charts since the Beatles, and the wave of North American acts shrugging off the shackles of classic rock tropes, the term fits. Unfortunately, the term has also been saddled with an implied insignificance, and coupled with unfortunate sexism and bigotry: New Wave artists dressed in frilly shirts and adorned themselves with outlandish hairstyles, and they produced lightweight pop tunes filigreed with synthesizer embellishments, which were marketed to young girls and homosexuals. If they embraced the term, the artists' careers were a race against the clock, set to expire and molder like white bread. Even the radio station at the center of the film is quick to say it never called itself a New Wave station. In defense of its stance, the film notes the station broke 700 "new music" artists to the tune of 500 million albums sold. Abandoned, neglected, and ridiculed, New Wave is the Rodney Dangerfield of music genres; never getting any respect.

In operation since the 1950s, WLIR shed their classic rock image, and according to their tagline, dared to be different by buying British import records and playing them on American airwaves, exposing many now-legendary groups to US listeners for the first time. A tiny 3000-watt radio station on Long Island, WLIR was in competition with much larger radio stations in New York, but was miles ahead of them, predicting progressive musical trends and breaking new ground.

Consisting of classic music video clips and interviews with superstars of the era, music producers, industry insiders, and former DJs, New Wave: Dare To Be Different misses very few iconic groups from the era, and features some interesting first-hand stories of making it big from the music groups WLIR helped make world famous.

Some spoiled grapes with interviews from classic rock groups that were cast aside with the new format helps provide a humorous touch of balance.

 New Wave: Dare To Be Different is an fascinating, nostalgic look at an oft-maligned musical genre.

Although not at all relative to this subject, check out my review of the speculative documentary Discovering Bigfoot here:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Yellow Submarine

We live in strange times. I'm not talking about current events, where seemingly nothing is real. What I'm talking about is that we are currently in an epoch where the young people consider The Beatles to be over-rated.

I just wasn't made for these times.

I was going to list some of the achievements of The Beatles. Between 1964 and 1970, they released 11 Number One albums, 20 Number One singles, held the Top Five positions in the Billboard Charts, appeared in five feature films, and has the most covered song in history with "Yesterday". The list goes on and on, and it's staggering. So I decided against it.

From Wikipedia: Writing for AllMusic, music critic Richie Unterberger recognises the Beatles as both "the greatest and most influential act of the rock era" and a group that "introduced more innovations into popular music than any other rock band of the 20th century". In Rolling Stone magazine's Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (2001), the editors define the band's influence as follows: The impact of the Beatles – not only on rock & roll but on all of Western culture – is simply incalculable … [A]s personalities, they defined and incarnated '60s style: smart, idealistic, playful, irreverent, eclectic, group has so radically transformed the sound and significance of rock & roll. ... [they] proved that rock & roll could embrace a limitless variety of harmonies, structures, and sounds; virtually every rock experiment has some precedent on Beatles records. Four of their albums are in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time's Top Ten.

Someone might cynically claim that that's "being over-rated", and I would just as cynically recommend that person learn a little musical history further back than last week.

Surreal, hallucinatory, and Dadaesque, Yellow Submarine is filled with zany, nonsensical adventures, as The Beatles travel in their eponymous vehicle to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies. Cheeky wordplay, double entendres, and sight-gags abound.

Strangely enough, this sinister, terrifying, kaleidoscopic, and joyful film was for children. Could have fooled me. But then there's this:

Referential and self-referential, with snippets from the French National Anthem, Glenn Miller, Greensleeves, and Bach, only a world-conquering creative force such as the Beatles would have the guts to reference themselves, not just once, but twice. Let me remind you this is a pop tune. And how can one not collapse into ugly-faced weeping at the beauty of the harpsichord, the brass, the strings? Impossible. 

And don't get me started on this clip. Gorgeous and revelatory.

*Eleanor Rigby Youtube Video From Yellow Submarine*

Whoops, sorry. Looks like I'm unable to embed or link to a 40-second clip of Eleanor Rigby because I suppose a 40-second clip will keep you from purchasing either the remastered Blu-Ray of Yellow Submarine, or adding another to the 5 million copies of Revolver sold as of 2014. Just imagine the tune. Hum along if you'd like. Relax, and float downstream.

Here's a link to the trailer, as the film is hitting UK theaters for a 50-year anniversary run.