Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Burt Bacharach Day

Nice vocal work by songwriter Rufus Wainright, accompanied by Burt on the keyboards, on Kentucky Bluebird/Message To Martha. Too bad he didn't sing it as "Message To Michael".

Monday, October 08, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

My day before the calcium lights in 2007, playing the "obnoxious villager heckler" in "Now I Lay Thee Down", a music video by metal gurus Machine Head, is now out for the world to see. And I would like this video even if I wasn't in it!

Machine Head's excellent headbanging performance is wrapped around a tragic and operatic play that could be described as "The Elephant Man" meets "Romeo And Juliet"; the former, a shunned and reviled outcast, decides to end it all and asks the latter, the sole person who loves the good-hearted but miserable grotesque, to do him in.

The play was shot at San Francisco's historic Regency Theater (built 1909) in the style of equally operatic silent movies, those from around 1918-1919 - I think of D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms in particular. It closes, appropriately, with the cast taking a bow.

This music video in the style of silent movies premiered on October 4th, the birthday of Buster Keaton, that most visionary of all silent screen artists.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Favorite Animated Main Titles

Here's the wonderful main title segment for UPA's Ham and Hattie series, animated by the incomparable Rod Scribner with his customary verve and imagination.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cinema Insomnia Presents A Tribute To Creature Features

For all you horror and B-movie fans up in Northern California. . . Cinema Insomnia's tribute to Bob Wilkins and John Stanley, wry hosts of Creature Features in the 70's and 80's, airs in the wee small hours (1:00 am?) tonight on KTEH-54. Appearing with "your horror host", Mr. Lobo: horror host emeritus John Stanley and belly dancer extraordinaire Pepper Alexandria.

Mr. Lobo's comments: "Set your tricoder for 1:00AM Saturday Night on KTEH it's gonna be a doozey! You got to watch to the very end...well I won't spoil it but I'll say you'll never look at John Stanley the same way again! It's a Creature Features tribute show...I hope we made Bob proud and I hope you guys love it...there were many sacrifices made to make it possible and everybody gave it 110%! Watch "Nightmare In Blood" on Cinema Insomnia and Keep America Strong!"

I'm hearing the "Creature Features" theme song in my damaged brain already.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Buster Keaton

How many film artists can claim to be a child vaudeville star-producer-writer-director-actor-comedian-acrobat-editor-special effects designer-inventor-engineer-stuntman-script doctor - let alone excel in all of those roles? Just one - Buster Keaton.

Enjoy this clip from one of Buster's greatest two-reelers,
One Week.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cult Cartoons, Part VI: The Legendary Jim Tyer and Terrytoons

Paul Terry was both an early animation innovator and the classic unrepentant robber-baron of cartoon history. He dangled a cut of the profits as a carrot for his longtime employees, then screwed ALL of them by hoarding 100% of the loot when he sold the studio to CBS. It was said that, if you interviewed for a job with Mr. Terry, he'd tell you right off "if you don't want to make shit, don't come to work here."

The creator of the Aesop's Fables series was also a silent animation pioneer and inspiration to young hopefuls (like Walt Disney) in the early days, but arguably way too much of an activist producer, strictly controlling direction and story content, to be an exemplary "cult cartoon" maker.

Terry, oddly enough, did offer his animators a certain amount of leeway within the strict formulas; he employed patron saint of cult cartoon animators Jim Tyer and, amazingly, left him alone to express a highly original and unfettered imagination. Just in case you're not an obsessed animation historian and haven't heard of Mr. Tyer, here are some samples of his distinctive handiwork.

The fact that Tyer, one wild and crazy guy, was actually free to animate this way - and create sequences like the following - gives Mr. Terry a place in the cult cartoon panorama.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cult Cartoons, Part V: Terrytoons

As I have not even unloaded the car on return from a wonderful road trip yet, I absolutely will be "Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog" today. So, continuing the topic of obscure cult/psychotronic cartoons, I will direct you to this very good recent piece about Terrytoons from the blog by Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.

John K's comment that Terrytoons "were fully animated but I knew there was something unique and strange about them," is right on the money - and is something a lot of "cult cartoons" have in common.

Here's a unique and strange Heckle & Jeckle cartoon, The Power Of Thought, from 1948: