Sunday, January 31, 2010


Power to the people.

Toronto Star article from today's edition regarding a group of Toronto-based artists who have taken matters into their own hands: "Team Macho", made up of members Chris Buchan, Jacob Whibley, Lauchie Reid, Nick Aoki, and Stephen Appleby-Barr, started and are maintaining an Internet "TV" show of their own, Late Night In The Bedroom...

Good for them. As always, getting the word out is the tough part... hopefully an article like the one linked above will help make that happen.

The direct link to Late Night In The Bedroom...

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I could watch archival NHL (National Hockey League) games all evening. This one is from the 1979-80 season -- March 24th, 1980 -- and features Wayne Gretzky as he sees if he's really made for the big leagues or not...

Man, the Toronto Maple Leafs sucked even way back then? I had no idea... thought it a recent phenomena.

Fun times: Bill Hewitt (son of Foster) was the CBC Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play announcer for "Leafs" games, and his trusty colour commentator side-kick was ex Philadelphia Flyer Gary Dornhoefer.

Is that Ron Low in nets for the Edmonton Oilers? He used to be a Leaf goaltender a few years earlier.


Those magnificent structures, the centerpieces of any Olympic games, sit more or less idle after all the people leave. In effect, these monsters of tangled concrete, steel, and glass represent the sick joke of Olympic funding... for a long time...

The good news is pilots can use them as visual beacons.... like Montreal's Olympic Stadium, above photo.


On a theme, check this anti-Vancouver Olympics site. Warning, this page is of a graphic nature...


Cynical me: For a long time, since the Montreal Olympics of 1976, I have felt that hosting an Olympics event is a colossal waste of money. Cities are cash-strapped as it is, with too small a tax base no matter how large the population (diminishing returns?), and the idea of forking over so much money to fund the theoretical argument that the later financial rewards are so worth the massive investment, is simple craziness. Sure, higher levels of government insanely contribute heaps of cash to the cause, but the fact is a city ends up carrying the burden for a long time, while having to beg for money to help run its essential services for years to come, hopefully to be equalized by the net amounts in the end.

The feeling is that a payoff or benefit, at least, never does come. The jury is out on that one...

(Photo: Artist Kathryn Walter came up with this logo when Toronto was bidding on the Summer Olympics.)


I'm not a huge pop/rock/folk/country fan but Neil Young is my man...

Friday, January 29, 2010


Two weeks ago I found some time to watch Quentin Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds. Pretty good piece of entertainment. Not as action-packed as I thought it might be; as a matter of fact, more talky -- which is fine by me.

Austrian actor Christoph Waltz was note perfect. Tarantino must have known right away that no other actor could have played the role of Hans Landa, once he heard a line reading. Brad Pitt was also very good, basically doing a "Sterling Hayden".

The film-within-a-film was very well done although the German propaganda films imitated here had wall-to-wall Wagnerian music playing throughout. Something the filmmakers of Basterds missed.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The news that former Bonanza and Trapper John, MD star Pernell Roberts died was a surprise even if I did catch his name printed in the paper yesterday (and did not investigate).

For some reason I thought that Roberts passed away some time ago. I remember the news back in 1972 when fellow Bonanza cast member Dan Blocker died.

I was a bit of a Bonanza kid: It ran in first run when I was young, plus it was already syndicated and 'stripped' by the time I took notice of TV's hot western. In syndication, Bonanza was renamed The Ponderosa so that people would not confuse these airings with the new episodes which were still being run in prime time. (Just the opening title graphic was changed... as the flame consumed the screen.)

The news...

Saturday, January 23, 2010


This is pretty sweet news for Roger Corman fans...

Awesome. So many titles exist on home video as rough public domain-type prints. Home video distributor Shout! Factory is planning a mix of regular DVD and Blu-ray releases.


One fun-flick that I blogged about previously is a Spanish-Italian production from 1966, titled, straightforwardly enough, Superargo vs Diabolicus (actually the English translation). A friend of mine who knew of my interest in the movie e-mailed me yesterday with a link to Google Video.

Late last night -- late at night is always the best time to watch such entertainment -- I sat down with a cup of strong instant coffee and watched Superargo go against Diabolicus for the first time in about 35 years, thoroughly enjoying it again.

What impressed me the most was that the filmmaking/directing was more refined than I imagined -- certainly more than my less perceptive, younger brain would have noticed back in the mid seventies as I sat in that darkened movie theatre.

(Something I noticed this time around is that the film's music composer paraphrased John Barry's scores to the James Bond films From Russia With Love, and Thunderball. Just a little, towards the end as the climactic action picked up.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Comedian Jay Leno is in the news, in case you have not heard. Here is an appearance he did on the CBC with broadcaster Peter Gzowski back in 1978...


Back in October of 1970 the Front de liberation du Quebec (or FLQ) kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Quebec Labour minister Pierre Laporte. The left-wing radical organization demanded the release of jailed fellow members.

On October the 17th, Pierre Laporte's dead body was found in the trunk of a car.

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau implemented the War Measures Act, which allowed the arrest of Canadians who were deemed a threat -- this was done without evidence, which was 'okay' by the document.

Here is a CBC news piece from October 13th, 1970, on Trudeau's famous "just watch me" (there's much more to it than that, with all important context)...


The battle (for lack of a better word) between the late night television talk-show hosts, they being Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and to a lesser extent, David Letterman, has become so convoluted that for a few moments I forgot how this all started. Oh, yah, that's right.

To paraphrase Maab (Michael Dante) for a moment, "good, good, let the late night talk-show hosts and the networks fight... it amuses us".

Letterman's take...

Monday, January 18, 2010


Tonight at 8pm SunTV is running the 1975 George Roy Hill production The Great Waldo Pepper. Star Robert Redford re-teams with the Butch Cassidy and The Sting director for this underrated barnstormer. I love my aeroplanes but I have long felt -- since I saw it during its original release -- that more is going on than just that element.

Also acting out the William Goldman-penned script are Bo Svenson, Bo Brundin (as "Ernst Kessler"... always loved that name), Susan Sarandon, Edward Herrmann, Geoffrey Lewis, and Margot Kidder.

Note: The Great Waldo Pepper must have one of film's most chilling scenes. (For those of you who have seen it will know immediately which one I am talking about. It has to do with human beings.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


After eating dinner, or maybe because of eating dinner, I thought about the upcoming release of the 1973 film Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls, and decided to key in 'dvd reviews for'.

Wow, I know how I feel about the terrific little nugget of a horror movie -- with a richly intrinsic streak of comedy throughout -- but to see DVD reviewers have much the same feeling makes me want to see the new release on January 26th a little bit more. (I saw DD two times when it was first released in 1973, after being grabbed by both the theatrical and TV trailers; and am about to see it in the best quality since then.)

DVD Talk review...

DVD Drive-in take...


It figures.

Certain right-wingers and Republicans are calling uber-filmmaker James Cameron "anti American". Makes sense, eh? He is a Canadian by birth. And he sure sounds Canadian.

He was thinking of applying for his U.S. citizenship -- while still maintaining his Canadian one -- until George W. Bush got back into office. So the story goes, Cameron decided not to submit his paperwork.

In that new major motion picture, Avatar, which I have not seen, there are elements which some Republican-Americans see as proof that James Cameron should be sent back home. The U.S. is painted not in the best light. (I understand that the director-scriptwriter is making a greater and more complex argument. Don't expect everyone to understand this.)

However, this does not make the man anti-American. First of all, he has admitted publicly that he loves the machinery of the Hollywood filmmaking system and the American attribute of taking risks. He thinks it's in his Canadian DNA.

I know what he is saying... I'm convinced I'm in the wrong place: Canada. As much as I love this country, uber-conservatism pervades the filmic arts. I am forever amazed at how so many filmmakers here "low-ball" their own efforts. Guys like Guy Maddin, Vincenzo Natali, and David Cronenberg, of course, are exempted. And yet another aspiring filmmaker in this town (Toronto) sets forth to make a film about kids in conflict with their parents, or pontificate about sexual orientation...

Back to how much James Cameron hates America (sorry, I have not yet downloaded the new "sarcasm" punctuation mark)...


One interesting "goof" in the 2005 Steven Spielberg film Munich occurs near the beginning. While the hostage crisis is going down, the camera dollies past a rack of video tapes in a television centre. The problem -- and it's not a big deal, more to impress my readers with my vast knowledge -- is the tapes on the rack are 1-inch ("one-inch") and not 2-inch Quadruplex ("Quad") which is what the main broadcast format was back in 1972. In fact, 1-inch was still a few years away.

There is a lot that I do not know. For instance, that the Volvo "whatever" model did not have a swivel side mirror so it should not be in a film about 1972... I'm just making this stuff up, but there are people out there who know the tiniest details.

To tell you the truth, I still enjoy reading about "goof" details even though I will not hold them against the movie... except: "Here comes the 747 from New York." Cut to a shot of a DC-9.


Last night I watched Stevie Spielberg's 2005 movie, Munich. Just ten minutes in, after things were looking really promising, I realized that it was goin' all down hill, baby.

Afterwards, I went onto the IMDB entry to see what the score was with Munich. One 'commenter' nailed it perfectly, everything that is wrong with this movie... I will go no further. As a general rule I do not bother reading readers' comments, generally because I'm too lazy to. Well I'm glad I spent all of two minutes, because I came across a perfect summation, totally in line with my own feelings, done by a "tieman64". You'll have to look for it as I don't know how to link directly to a specific commenter.

Yes, violence leads to more violence; leads to more violence; leads to more violence; leads to more violence...

I did have an interesting reaction, however, and I'm not sure if this is Spielberg's fault: I wanted Eric Bana's character to get offed at the end.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Figures: I watch the last ten minutes of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news and, afterwards, George Stroumboulopoulos comes on with Bill Maher. I like Maher very much, but it is clear that Simple-George cannot keep up.

George, go home! Stop wasting my time.

And as soon as I get off my fat ass, I'll turn the tv off.


A Star Wars fan friend of mine generously lent me his copy of Family Guy - Something, Something, Something, Darkside.

I did not like the straight-to-video project. It was no where near as funny as the Blue Harvest show from two years ago, which was a New Hope parody -- it was funny, I think, because all the Star Wars icons and 'jokes' were in the first film. After that, you are really just sending-up the details... not necessary.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


At 7pm this evening TVO (TVOntario) is playing The Ship Sinkers.

I have seen similarly-themed documentaries about decommisioned naval vessels sunk as artificial reefs and as diving wrecks.

A few years ago a decommissioned Canadian destroyer -- the name of which suddenly escaped me* -- was sunk as a sport diving wreck in a short documentary that I saw. Before the deed was done, the ship was cleaned of all oils and toxic substances, painted in a nice bright blue, and detailed with crudely painted signs such as "this way out" done in a bright red.

The filmmakers (or the company that arranges these controlled sinkings) put video cameras in various parts of the ship, to be retrieved later. One such nice view cut into the documentary was from a camera mounted inside the ship's bridge, pointing out through the main windows. What we saw as a hole or two was punched in the ship was the horizon tilt slightly, water rush in, then under...

(Photo above: The old U.S. Navy "flat-top" U.S.S. Oriskany is sunk as an artificial reef. It would have been fun, I think, to have stood on the tip of the bow as the ship went under. Hi Izabella!)

(* HMCS Nipigon. I checked later.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I think most people are aware of what is scientifically correct in entertainment, but are willing to cut slack to the film or television program depending on what the production is pretending to be.

Not for an instant do we want the explosion sound effects removed from the sequence in Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back where Tie fighters crash into asteroids. A thrilling moment it is... because of the sound effects and John Williams' music score.


Here is a straightforward point-form article on what "space movies" do not get right...


Last night I attended an interesting presentation by Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin. He spoke about what has influenced him to make the films he does, and opened up the festivities by showing the first four or five minutes of Fritz Lang's 1932 masterpiece, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse.

The Maddin theme continues throughout the week...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


On the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) tonight at 9pm, the sketch comedy group The Kids in the Hall reunites for some of their patented pushing-the-boundaries brand of comedy.

I never found the original show funny -- for instance, I watched three back-to-back episodes on the CBC with my roommate at the time and we just looked at each other at the end knowing what the other was thinking* -- but there were those who feel that these kids were to be seen and heard.

This past Sunday I was exiting a Second Cup shop with a friend and, as we waited to cross the street, we were approached by a young man and woman who were not only giving away little Kids in the Hall buttons but were saying "take as many as you want". They added "don't forget to watch on Tuesday night".

"Okay, I'll give the show a try", I added, under my breath.

(*My roommate did offer, "there's something to be said for 'paying your dues'".)


Here we go...
Here we go...
Here we go...

The wee beasties of the Vatican have put forth their view on the new movie, Avatar. It seems they do not like miss-directed faith. They can go and make their own movie: Vatacar?

Hmmm... let me see, I worship trees more than I do that other thing. At least I can see a tree.

The Vatican speaks...

Sunday, January 10, 2010


A good friend of mine, and one who knows where my affections are directed, sent me this review of the upcoming DVD release (January 26th) of the 1973 horror film Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls, one of my favourites...


A recent five-year-long study was recently done in England which showed that cats have uses other than bugging you to fill their dinner order...

... the problem is they can prevent you from getting up to get ready for work on those dark winter mornings. Having a furry hot water bottle on your bed does wonders for your at-rest body.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Poor Heath Ledger. He makes a bad movie, then dies.

There's always A Knight's Tale.

Hey, I never noticed that before: Two crappy movies with 'Knight' and same actor.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


For any aspiring filmmaker in Ontario, Canada, Elwy Yost was the man. His hosting of OECA/TVO's program Saturday Night at the Movies was essentially a film school in a box. Through his interviews with everyone from old movie stars to technical people such as producers, directors, writers, and composers, Yost presented a 'film appreciation' course like no other.

While scanning for Roger Corman-themed videos on Youtube, I came across this one...

... I watched the first two minutes not giving much thought as to where the video source came from until Elwy Yost could be heard asking a question. (You will have to turn the audio way up on your computer in order to hear the file properly. Just make sure to turn it back down again at the end, like I rarely do.)

In this documentary, not the full length by the looks of things, Elwy interviews Roger Corman and Vincent Price about working on AIP's (American International Pictures) "Poe films". For those of you have not seen any of them, be sure to watch at least one. My favourites are The Pit and the Pendulum and The Masque of the Red Death. A warning to knowledgeable fans of Edgar Allan Poe's works: These films are very loosely based on the writer's stories. As a matter of fact, in the case of Masque, some H.P. Lovecraft's story "Hop Frog" is mixed in with Poe. Price makes a good point that a short story, by itself, hardly furnishes a 90 minute movie.

Masterful films.

Article on Elwy Yost...


When I was growing up, the name "David Gerber" was one you saw a lot if you actually paid attention to television series' opening and closing credits.

This morning when I read the news that television producer David Gerber has passed away, I went blank and could not immediately make the connection... probably because he had so many credits to his name.

I used to watch Police Woman when I got home from school every day instead of diving into my homework. (The series was still running in prime-time but WGR was stripping the earlier episodes at 5pm, weekdays.) Yes, Angie Dickinson was hot, but so too was Earl Holliman. And Charles Dierkop had an interesting face. I do not remember any particular plots but Police Woman was one of many "seventies cop shows" that we all watched.


Information page...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


With all the success of Avatar, I decided to look for director James Cameron video clips on Youtube. Now, once I got through all the search results that were often just hyper-promo-spots for Avatar's special visual effects, I found this very good and inspiring interview with the uber-filmmaker/businessman...

If you really want to make a movie, then make a fucking* movie! That is one of the themes within the interview.

* My word.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I made the mistake of checking the TV listings by way of and discovered that TVO (TV Ontario) is playing The Last Nazis at 10 p.m.

Tonight's episode, "The Hunt for Doctor Death".

The Dark Knight will have to wait 24 more hours.


Later tonight I plan to watch, for the very first time, the highly acclaimed 2008 movie The Dark Knight. (I just noticed that "Batman" is nowhere in the title.)

Oh, I just looked at the DVD case and noticed the film's running time: 152 minutes.

That's in the neighbourhoods of over two hours. If I start it at 10 p.m., then The Dark Knight would wrap up sometime between midnight and 1 a.m.

I gotta think about this dilemma... so much to do.

"Will The Dark Knight win out?! Stay tuned, loyal reader, same Bat-time, same Bat-blog." (That does not make a lot of sense, unless I post at exactly the same time tomorrow. Unless this network preempts Batman because of a special report on the Vietnam War, there will be a posting tomorrow night.)

Requiring 152 minutes of my already precious time, The Dark Knight had better be a good movie or I am liable to go insane!