Wednesday, January 23, 2019
January 23, 2019 is the centenary of Ernie Kovacs' birth.
And boy, do we miss him! At least Ernie has a prominent place in The Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit that will begin later this year, in August, at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY.
There's also a new Ernie Kovacs Centennial Edition DVD for those who have not bought the previous Kovacs collections.
Our favorite examples of the exceedingly vivid imagination of Ernie Kovacs at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog remain the "sound-to-sight" pieces, mini-musicals staged for television which explored video technology in a highly creative and witty way. The first, based on Béla Bartók's "Concerto for Orchestra" is evocative and lyrical, as well as a prime showcase for Ernie Kovacs the filmmaker, a man with a video camera and cinematic aspirations.
Thanks, Ernie - and a big time thanks to Edie Adams for her outstanding onscreen contributions to The Ernie Kovacs Show and equally outstanding (and tireless) efforts she made decades later to preserve Ernie's pioneering work in television.
One wonders just how many Ernie Kovacs Show and Here's Edie videotapes she personally rescued from being taped over or tossed in the East River!
We raise our mugs, tumblers and Percy Dovetonsils approved champagne flutes to Ernie and Edie!
For more, check out the following interview with Josh Mills, Edie's son and a historian/archivist, among the prime movers responsible for preserving Ernie's work and making it available on DVD, on The Bob Cesca Show.
Saturday, January 19, 2019
The long-awaited Noir City 17 film festival hits the big screen at San Francisco's spectacular Castro Theatre on Friday evening.
The Noir City universe is invariably filled with grimy, pothole-filled and rain-soaked streets that invariably lead to nowhere. On said foreboding-filled avenues, strewn with bullet-riddled sedans: nervous cigarette smoking, bargain basement booze, double-crossing dames, sex-starved saps, thuggery, skullduggery, chicanery and misery, creepy alleyways smack dab in the middle of urban netherworlds without end.
The chiaroscuro film noir universe was stylishly presented with "high art on a low budget" characterized by innovative black and white cinematography.
Ace directors represented in the 2019 Noir City lineup include Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, Samuel Fuller, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Wise, Robert Aldrich, Otto Preminger, Richard Fleischer, Robert Siodmak, William Wyler, William Dieterle, Michael Curtiz and Jacques Tourneur. . . A.K.A. filmmaking heavyweights.
Writer G. Allen Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle describes the Film Noir In The 1950's program as follows: "What happens when the usual grifters, femme fatales and psychopaths traveling the dark alleys are suddenly haunted by racial tensions, nuclear nightmares and commie agents? Film noir was always built on exploring what's simmering below society's glossy surface, but in the 1950s, with the collapsing Hollywood studio system and bold new visions from innovative filmmakers, the genre entered its most exciting era."
The "Czar Of Noir" and founder of the Film Noir Foundation, Eddie Muller, who shall host the 10-day film festival with aplomb and profound knowledge of classic movies, elaborates.
Who: Silver screen stars from iconic (Barbara Stanwyck) to tragic (Barbara Payton - who ended up in a real-life noir nightmare offscreen after her movie career ended)
What: Noir City 17 - Film Noir In The 1950's
When: January 25 to February 3
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, between 17th and 18th streets.
Why: The movies, seen in big screen glory, are amazing, the proceeds benefit the splendid film preservation efforts of The Film Noir Foundation - and Noir City is by far Your Correspondent's favorite film festival that he doesn't personally provide footage for.
This year's festival includes THREE films by favorite director Samuel Fuller.
Tickets and festival passes are available from Brown Paper Tickets
Friday, January 11, 2019
Stan & Ollie hit the big screen again in January 2019, bringing big laughs yet again to a nation much in need of levity, as the celebrated comedy team did with great success throughout the Great Depression.
While the team has never left the museum and film festival circuits, the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas have brought the duo back to movie theaters and big screen glory in Laurel & Hardy’s Festival of Laffs, featuring restorations of four classic Hal Roach Studio short subjects, Busy Bodies, Come Clean, Helpmates and The Music Box.
The Laurel & Hardy program began playing at Alamo Drafthouse locations right after the new year began (first in Ashburn, VA and Irving, TX) and tomorrow night shall play this blogger's hometown of San Francisco, as well as three Alamo Drafthouse locations in the Lone Star State.
Here's the schedule.
San Francisco, CA - January 12
Austin, TX - January 12
Denton, TX - January 12
Richardson, TX - January 12
Brooklyn, NY - January 13
Woodbury, MN - January 13
Lake Highlands Dallas, TX - January 19
El Paso, TX - January 22
Cedars Dallas, TX - January 26
Charlottesville, VA - January 26
Denver, CO - January 27
If unable to attend these shows, where can one see Laurel & Hardy films (besides, in Northern CA, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and the San Francisco silent film festival)?
The good news is that there's at least one DVD collection of the team's sound films, Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection.
The L&H silents are for the most part not available on DVD or Blu-ray, but some of the solo films have turned up on the Slapstick Encyclopedia box set, as well as such Kino Video "Slapstick Symposium" releases as The Stan Laurel Collection and The Oliver Hardy Collection.
A Blu-ray of the uncut, original Atoll K, the last film of Laurel & Hardy, is out as well, but you'll need a region-free player to play the new restoration, a 2k transfer from the 35mm nitrate source materials by the British Film Institute.
Amazon Prime is offering a fair number of their silent movies, as individual downloads; these include both L&H starring vehicles, their pre-team solo films and appearances with Vitagraph Pictures slapstick-meister Larry Semon and other comedians.
In addition to the theatrical release of Stan & Ollie, co-starring English actor and comedian Steve Coogan as Stan and John C. Reilly as Babe, the Laurel & Hardy’s Festival of Laffs program brings the beloved comedy team back to the spotlight where they belong.
Tuesday, January 01, 2019
Thrilled and delighted to have lived through another year and made it to a new one? YEAH, BABY! As hap-hap-happy as Osgood Fielding? We wish!
It's officially Happy New Year from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog AND the great George Harrison.
We are tickled as tickled could be to begin 2019 by approaching one of the newfangled devices around our house and then saying "Alexa, play Art Tatum!"
To my amazement and delight, Alexa did play some Art Tatum - thanks!
Here's a clip of Art, rocking the keys in one of his very, very few filmed performances.
As this blogger's favorite movie of 2018 (tied with the flawed and critically panned but musically wonderful Bohemian Rhapsody - we dig Queen tons at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog) was Won't You Be My Neighbor, Morgan Neville's splendid documentary on Fred Rogers, let's hear Johnny Costa, the super-talented pianist and music director for the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood program.
Here, Mr. Costa does his very best to give Mr. Tatum a run for his money with a ripping rendition of Tea For Two, the second interpretation of the Vincent Youmans - Irving Caesar standard in this YouTube video. Also in the mix and first up in the trio of ivory-tickling performances: the mighty Oscar Peterson.
Do these pianistic powerhouses sound amazing? Yes! Here, another pianistic powerhouse, the great Ray Charles, elaborates. . .
Oscar Peterson, chatting with fellow pianist/bandleader Count Basie about Art Tatum, used the phrase "musical intimidation."
It's difficult to equal Art, Ray, Oscar and Basie on New Years' Day (or any day), but we'll at least give it a try with this Academy Award winning MGM cartoon made by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. It's one of the very best from their Tom & Jerry series and a prime example of the popular "ribbing the classics" genre, along with the Walter Lantz Studio's Musical Miniatures series and the Friz Freleng crew's Warner Bros. cartoon Rhapsody Rabbit, featuring soloist and Oscar winning rabbit Bugs Bunny.