Friday, March 13, 2009

Lee Marvin - A Commie?

Hey all! If you're up for a mind-bender late tonight, check out "Shack Out on 101" - the Underground Classic over on Turner Classic Movies.

Lee Marvin, tough, true blue Amercian #2 (behind only John Wayne), stars in a 1950s "Commies in our Midst" comedy/thriller. Posing as a doofus slinging burgers on the southern California coast, Marvin's character - Slob - flirts with girls, complains about the nutheads at Muscle Beach and lays plans to overthrow the American government. Keenan Wynn, one of the funniest 50s men, co-stars in what's sure to be a surreal experience.

Barry Gifford, whose novel Wild at Heart was adapted to the screen in 1990 by David Lynch and who co-wrote the screenplay for Lost Highway (1997) with that same director, had this to say about Shack Out on 101: "It's as if William Inge were forced by the government to rewrite some Chekhov play, but set in McCarthy-era America, and he took twenty Valium, washed them down with Old Crow, and dashed it off as the drug grabbed his brain and put him in Palookaville."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 60: Frolicking through Prehistoric Mindmelts with Garters

(Thought that might grab ya...)

Film 34: “Whirlpool” (1949)
Matinee Muse Unmasked
Written by Ben Hecht and Andrew Solt
Directed by Otto Preminger

Film 35: “10,000 B.C.” (2008)
B.C. Beefcake
Written by Roland Emmerich and Harald Koser
Directed by Roland Emmerich

Film 36: “The Young Visiters” (2003)
Victorian Class-Vaulting
Written by Patrick Varlow based on a story by Daisy Ashford
Directed by David Yates

Welcome to my first ever 3-for-1 movie review! I figure if I can watch them one after another, you can read about them together…faulty logic if ever I’ve heard it, but it’s my little reality here. Wilkommen!

Spend long enough in“Whirlpool” – between the claustrophobic Otto Preminger touch and Ben Hecht’s love of psychobabble and paranoia – and you’ll wonder why all the fuss over the simple deconstruction of the placid post-war housewife. Why all the fuss, when the job was done in the first few frames – the simple casting of the glamorous and alluring Gene Tierney (“Laura”) in the castrated lead role of Ann Sutton. Even her long tresses are clipped and pressed into mid-50s Lois Lane mold. I don’t need 45 minutes of bad noir rip-off detective work to tell me Tierney’s the victim here.

None of this keeps menacing astrologer/con-man David Korvo (Jose Ferrer) from digging into her brain with the same relish that the evil pseudo-Egyptian slave traders of “10,000 B.C.” whip their pyramid builders. And with the well-developed chests that all its main characters – male and female alike – possess, who can resent the lack of clothing? You want historical depth? Then why are you watching a movie about African mammoth hunters – oh yes, actual mammoth hunters – being enslaved by light-skinned crazy dudes in heavy black eyeliner? This is almost as fun as Jim Broadbent’s insanely insecure Victorian noble wannabe – for entirely different reasons.

Broadbent, one of English cinema’s consistent delights – stars as poor clerk Alfred who just wants to get laid – but not by just any girl…no, for him, it must be Ethel, a young fresh nobility-obsessed flower (Lyndsey Marshall). As if a film spurred by a story written by a 9 year-old – for real and for true – wasn’t dessert enough, onscreen walks (or mutters, more accurately) Hugh Laurie, as Alfred’s formidable rival, the Lord Bernard Clark. Yes, “House” fans. Laurie had a long, fruitful career – as an Englishman – before he faked a Midwestern hard ‘r’ and a limp for his strongest American ratings pull. I must admit, having discovered him in his native land first, that’s where I love him best, and he doesn’t disappoint here (does he ever?). Add in a little naughty Bill Nighy (the fading pop singer in “Love Actually”) for spice, and you’ve got a fast-paced, goofy class comedy.

What do you get when you combine all three?

Nothing normal.

Good times.