Sunday, December 10, 2017

From Allen to Fallon

Is there a more precise embodiment of the "comedy" aspects of our smirking prick HiDefecation culture than a flyspeck known as Jimmy Fallon? Not only does Fallon's material seem like something shat out by a bunch of luded dimwits (and lapped up by his equally luded, I guess, live audience), but Fallon's delivery and timing make the dead seem creative. And such Coolness! (This from a pimp for the crime combine known as Capital One Bank.) How the heck did this guy get his own late-night talk show? How the heck did real estate gangster Donald Trump get to be President of the United States? Both by being psychopathically ambitious Nowhere Men, I guess.

Could this, and the four-eyed tubby sidekick, be parody?

What makes Fallon even more sickening is that he and his gimmick occupy the same Midtown NBC studio space once occupied by the greatest talk show host of all time (and pretty much forgotten), Steve Allen.

Most great stuff from 1950s and early-60s television has been remastered and Blu-rayed. Not Allen's. At the moment, nothing of Steve Allen exists on DVD/Blu-ray or is planned for release, which must make pygmies such as Jimmy Fallon feel very safe.

Legend has it that one night in the late-50s, Allen passed out lemons to all members of his studio audience, then led the audience outside to launch an attack on a nearby fruit stand, run by a guy who'd been mean to Allen earlier that week -- an attack which today would give birth to 10,000 lawsuits and have Allen and his audience immediately arrested as a terrorist organization.

Steve Allen!

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Thirteen years of wonder and beauty and joy.

Thank you to the best daughter in the world.

Happy 13th Birthday!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Origins of the 21st Century

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Godard.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Apropos of Nothing

Other than the beginning of the month of Joy.

He'd rather lead a band. Who's gonna stop him?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Rain Girls

Rain, rain, rain here in November New York and maybe snow tomorrow! . . . what to do?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gone with the Wind

But not in John Kahrs's lovely Paperman (2012).

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday

Pope Francis:
We worship an economic system which values the God of money over human beings. A system that uses billions to rescue banks during times of financial crisis, but fails to invest even one thousandth of that money to help refugees and migrants fleeing their home countries who die in the Mediterranean Sea during their journey.

What is wrong with the world today? When a bank files for bankruptcy there's an immediate, outrageous sum of money, but when this bankruptcy occurs in humanity there's not even a one-thousandth portion to save these brothers who suffer so much? We must free ourselves from the economic ties that produce an attachment to material things such as luxury cars and designer clothing.

I am often asked if this means a Marxist type of society. Well, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom.

Unfortunately, often these policies are opposed by populations that are afraid of losing jobs and of lower wages. Money is against the poor as well as against immigrants and refugees, but there are also poor people in rich countries who fear the arrival of their fellows from poor countries. It is a vicious circle and it must be broken.

We must break down the walls that divide us: we must try to increase well-being and make it more widespread, but to achieve this we need to break down walls and build bridges that allow us to reduce inequality and increase freedom and rights.

No one should be forced to flee his or her homeland. But the evil is doubled when, facing terrible circumstances, the migrant is thrown into the clutches of human traffickers to cross the border. And it is tripled if, arriving in the land where he or she hoped to find a better future, one is despised, exploited or even enslaved.

The gap between the peoples and present-day forms of democracies is widening ever-more due to the enormous power of economic and mediatic groups that seem to dominate. Because fear, besides being good business for merchants of weapons and death, weakens and destabilizes us, destroying our psychological and spiritual defenses, anesthetizing us to the suffering of others and, in the end, making us cruel.

Do not fall into the temptation of being put into a box that reduces you to secondary actors or, worse, to mere administrators of the existing misery.
The great Leonard Cohen, RIP:
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Man Died That Day

And a husband. And a father. R.I.P.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Citizen Lane

Pauley Perrette's moving memorial of an extraordinarily brave man who should never be forgotten.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Let It Bleed

Part Manchurian Candidate, part Sci-Fi, part detective story, "The Inheritors" is pure Kennedy Culture. (And a great example of what Mad Men was not -- a show about as cold and plastic as was Barack Obama's heart.) Intentionally scheduled by Outer Limits creators in honor of the one-year anniversary of Dallas, this is a heart that bleeds.

Four Vietnam combat soldiers miraculously survive bullets to the brain; subsequently, they embark on a shared mission which controls and confuses them, and arouses the hostile suspicions of government agents. Eventually the soldiers and agents discover that the mission involves kidnapping children, and only at the end do they discover its next step.

The Other as evil vs. the Other as not other: a driven visionary collective of men attempting something risky and noble, while paranoid Feds hound and revile them, suspecting only the worst in their motives, actions, and results.

As Fed Robert Duvall masticates the scenery, the great Steve Ihnat steals it as Lieutenant Minns.

The ending.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never melted." -- D.H. Lawrence

A Child is Waiting (1963) is, sadly, best known for its violent on-set conflict between director John Cassavetes and producer Stanley Kramer, a conflict ending with Cassavetes storming off set during late production and returning only to punch Stanley Kramer (who had taken over as director) in the chops. Yet the finished product -- dramatically unlike anything Cassavetes created before or after -- is extraordinarily moving and as representative of its time as any movie made during those very human years.

Set in an upstate New York hospital called Crawthorne (interiors actually filmed at Pacific State Hospital in California, with all street shots surrounding Crawthorne amazingly filmed on the same street sets used in Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and Leave It To Beaver), the story follows a boy named Reuben (Bruce Ritchey), mildly retarded yet abandoned by his arriviste parents (Steven Hill and Gena Rowlands, Casssavetes's wife); the woman who falls in love with him, a newly arrived caretaker at Crawthorne (Judy Garland); and the man who runs the place, Dr. Matthew Clark (Burt Lancaster). Every moment of the movie drips with sorrow. And we wonder: Where are these children now? Where are the retarded? Why do we never see them anymore in movies or on television? Why are they never mentioned? Are there so much fewer of them? (In this toxic culture?) Or are they, like everything else not part of Happy Apple iSland or Fox Hee-Haw, made to be invisible?

The children, aside from Reuben, are the only happy people we see. Everyone else, especially the beautiful Miss Garland who performs here with an incomparable emotional nakedness, moves through the work wearing a crown of thorns. Everybody here is wounded and broken. Reuben's abandoning parents are paralyzed by their own sufferings, in their love for each other, in their love for the boy. (And oh does this couple deserve a movie of their own. And I suppose, in a much different key, they were given that many times over in Cassavetes's 70s masterpieces and in particular his Love Streams [1984], perhaps the greatest American movie of the 1980s.) Lancaster, one of the true naturals of screen history, clearly plays a Kennedy figure, struggling with his need to dominate, struggling with his own helplessness in the face of causes and creations which may be as immovable as God's will. And Garland. She was near the end of her strange and perhaps insane ride in the early 1960s (she would die before the end of the decade and this would be her penultimate work); here she makes clear that all she needed to be great was something (someone) to believe in, and who would believe in her.

As did an adoring past husband.

It is a project not destined for JC. And it is not hard to imagine why he prickishly demanded his name be taken off it. His contribution (and intentions) can be felt in the more out of control scenes between Hill and Rowland, in the scenes with the children where we are made to feel uncomfortable, even made to feel a loathing toward their faces and voices. It can most deeply be felt in the horrific sequence where Lancaster takes Garland to experience the retarded in middle-age. Perhaps Cassavetes wanted to turn the story into his version of Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor, also from '63. Perhaps he did, since he made the bizarre choice of casting himself -- unrecognizable -- as the freakiest of the adult retarded. If so, let us congratulate Stanley Kramer on stopping him. One Shock Corridor -- 'though a masterpiece -- is enough.

There is no argument to be made against the monumental greatness of John Cassavetes, director -- a body of work artistically dwarfing Kramer's. But perhaps his loner cinema was inappropriate for an era of mainstream earnestness and the embrace of communal action.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Wisdom of the Heart

Henry Miller reads from his masterpiece essay, "To Paint is to Love Again."

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Between Sorrow and the Shadow

"Au hasard Balthazar is the world in an hour and a half" -- Jean Luc Godard

Mouchette (1967) and Au hasard Balthazar (1966) are the two darkest, and most Catholic, great films ever made. In both works, innocents -- a girl and a donkey -- suffer their own Stations of the Cross -- beaten, raped, whipped, abandoned, slapped, burned -- and then die. Both works are anthologies of sadism, ending in moments of Transfiguration; one in a pond, the other on a hillside; both to pieces of sacred music. However, little is divine. We are faced with a hard, physical world of muddy fields and of things and of objects; and forces of control and imprisonment. Director Robert Bresson's double miracle turns a suffocating austerity into endless plenty; so oblique and concentrated are Mouchette and Balthazar, they become the walls of a collapsing hell. And then home.

Bresson was interviewed in late 1966, between the making of the two movies.


The Shadow