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                        Celebrating the Art of Cinema, ... and Cinema as Art


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Musings  and Ramblings
(revised 2/12/17)
(revised 6/22/17)




OR ...

PIECES A LITTLE TOO MUCH (Whew! That's a lot ...)

by CEJ



     There's an online movie review making the social media rounds (some of you may have seen it) concerning Michael Bay's recently released TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT.  We won't grant the review free press by providing a link to it here because while it's certainly every filmgoer (yes, even reviewer)'s right to like or dislike something as they choose ... . Well, ... while a person or two has said about the piece, "Whoa, you've gotta check this out; it's the greatest movie review EVER!", ... ehhhh, to us it actually comes across more as rather self-aggrandizingly arrogant, elitist, lazy and (perhaps worst of all) not incredibly original. All of this in spite of it's apparently self-believed-to-be ball-bustingly clever sense of wit.  In actuality it's sort of a rift on that book you used to be able to find in novelty shops entitled "What Men Know About Women". The one where you open it up and glance inside, and all the pages are blank. Now that was witty and (perhaps best of all) ball-bustingly and cleverly original. At any rate, if you want you can easily Google said review on your own. It's easy to find. Oh, and by the way don't get the wrong idea here ... .

  Haters gonna hate ... JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)

     This is by no means a treatise extolling the movie-licious (like that word?) excellence of the most recent Roman numeral entry (#V) in Paramount's often deafeningly too loud TRANSFORMERS series of high tech cine-epics. Uh, uh! In fact at the time of this written update (the day after the film's Weds. June 21, 2017 release), we've yet to see it. And, because of time restraints and project deadlines, probably won't be able to do so until this weekend. But that's not the point anyway. This is less a review of a particular film, or even the current state of (as many say) "Those big budget franchise films Hollywood keeps churning out", and more a (rather disturbing) review of the current state of a great many members of today's film audience. Hmmm? How to dive into it? ...

     Anyone else out there old enough to remember “Jawbreakers”? - those big globe looking multi-layered candies you’d roll around in your mouth all Saturday afternoon, then maybe after a couple of hours it would finally start to dissolve and shrink?  Did anyone actually ever even finish one of those damned things?  I don't think we ever did. Anyway, as we’re smack dab in the middle of Big Budget Movie Franchise summer season again, maybe roll this one around for a while, and see if any of it maybe dissolves, ... or just gets spit out halfway through upon discovering it isn't worth the read.  As we've said before, none of this is brain surgery.  And we won't take it personally. Oh, and let's be clear on one thing, huh? - just as we aren't defending TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT in particular, we are absolutely not defending crappy movies in general, okay? It's important to know that. Anyway ...

         The original (and literal) "Tear 'em apart" film - WILLARD (1971) ... Just ask Ernest Borgnine!

     It may sound sick as hell, but  (you know it and we know it)  there’s something gleeful in certain forms of death, destruction, and that good ’ol all American fascination with “blowin’ shit the hell up”, … that is if you’re the executor of said destruction, and not on the receiving end.  And, believe it or not, to a degree anyway, that sort of thing is healthy.  Well, let's say there are at least two sides to it.  Case in point … 

     Some years ago we had a friendly debate with someone about violence in film and media; and how, while we were never fans of violent video games (GRAND THEFT AUTO didn’t exists at the time; it does today, and we're still not fans) we did, and do, understand and enjoy the fact that there is something extremely cathartic about being able to unleash the darker side of human nature under controlled conditions.  As such don't even get us started on how much we'll enjoy an auteured, choreographed ride of cinematic mayhem from a director like Hill, Peckinpah, Woo, Neveldine & Taylor and others.

        The stylized violence of GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS ('04) and Peckinpah's THE KILLER ELITE ('75)

     Think about it, you watch the news and become fed up with what seems to be an at times impotent legal system which favors the rights of the accused over victims.  It’s an age old story.  Most of us will watch say a DIRTY HARRY or Charles Bronson movie (yeah, we're showing our age - feel free to substitute Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Jason Statham; we won't be offended); we'll cheer when the scumbags get their grisly comeuppance, then the next day we'll return to the real world, go to our voting booths, do jury duty, sign petitions, march for justice and do those other things which we know are necessary and proper, and which we must do in a real world society as opposed to the "reel world" one.  As much as a part of us WANTS to do the Harry Callahan / Paul Kersey DEATH WISH thing, it just isn’t realistic.  We can therefore fantasize and get it out of our system. 

     To a certain degree the TRANSFORMERS movies are of the same part and parcel. Their variation on the theme however is that they're made for guys (and gals) who fondly remember being 12 year olds who spent rainy Saturday afternoons watching cartoons, and (usually to the soundtrack of Mom's from-the-next-room shouts of "Cut it out with that damn noise!") smashing their Tonka trucks together in grand scale gladiatorial combat. They ARE NOT really made to be seen and judged through the eyes of someone who was an assistant to Russian cinema guru Nikita Mikhalkov, and the writer and / or director of independent Turkish art house movies, as the aforementioned self-clever reviewer of the Village Voice (and there's a clue for you in your Google search) was and is. 

     Now, with sex

     Got your attention there, huh?  Somehow we knew it would.  

      Oh, and by the way, those familiar with “Musing And Ramblings” (sounds less stodgy than “op-ed” piece) know we kind of favor the “Inductive” rather than “Deductive” mode of linking examples to conclusions.  You remember from English class how “Deductive” will “bam!” come right out and state a topic, then list a number of examples below it (a, b, c, etc.) in order to support that topic's conclusion. While with “Inductive” you lay out a series of examples, all of which by the time you reach the end, with all of those examples strung together, paints the subject / topic under discussion into the corner of a (hopefully) inescapable, inevitable conclusion. 

     We just wanted to give any “Musings And Ramblings” newbies out there a heads-up as to how we do things around here, so you aren't thinking, “Why is this shit going all over the map?" and "What’s the effin' point?”.  We promise that by the end it will all string together like an elegant necklace of pearls.  Trust us.  Anyway, ...

     ... SEX! 

     Ever wake up disturbed in the middle of the night because you had a dream where you were getting hot and heavy WITH SOMEONE YOU CAN’T STAND?  Take heart, it doesn’t necessarily mean you secretly want to ditch your faithful and loving significant other for this lame-o, whom we’ll dub “the Ugly Naked Guy” - in honor of the unseen character from FRIENDS.  Psychologists tell us it’s most likely a “simple” case of, while there are obviously attributes to this person which you despise, there may be others which you admire, or which you yourself subconsciously wished you possessed.  

             Haters gonna hate ... FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

      For example, every day at the office or restaurant or car dealership or wherever you work, you consciously recognize this person as the loud mouth know-it-all bastard (or bitch, hey - equal time to the ladies too) which they truly are. Stevie Wonder can see that fact.  But subconsciously you maybe also recognize within their bluntness an honest down-to-earth quality which customers also obviously recognize.  And this is why this jerk / jerk-ess pulls down so many more sales, or gets the promotion, or things along those lines.  The reason (some headshrinkers tell us) this “admiration” (so to speak)  is expressed sexually during the dream state is because our psyches tend to view intercourse as the most psychological, and not just physical, connection a person can make with another.  It’s a bit of mental / emotional transference, ... or as Freud put it “Sublimation”.

     Ummm, yeah, ... let's go there!  And hey, you just might need a rebreather for a few of the upcoming paragraphs, 'cause we're gonna be goin' a little deep in some of them. Rest assured It really does have to do with all those movies people love to hate and rip to shreds like TRANSFORMERS, JUPITER ASCENDING, FANTASTIC FOUR, the recent 2017 "Dark Universe" reboot of THE MUMMY and more. And by the end, as stated above, we promise, you'll agree that this isn't just a list of disjointed notions, though it may seem so at the beginning.  Anyway ...

     That said ...  

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (2017) - Theatrical Trailer #2 

Site Search Index:


EWWW! ...

     Not turning this into Psych 101 (and we promise we’ll get back to the “blowin’ shit up” part), the “Reader’s Digest version” of Freud’s theory states that sublimation is a “mature type of defense mechanism where socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are consciously transformed into socially acceptable actions or behavior”. 

     History's favorite shrink continues to posit that sublimation expresses itself in not just the organization of society / civilization in general, but in that civilization’s various art forms: it's music, architecture (uh! uh! don't even go there!), writing, film, and even in it's interpretation of history and critiques upon said history and it's attendant arts.  This, of course, is where the controversy enters the picture - the oft argued “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” scenario wherein we debate “Is a degree of violence, sexuality and aggression in media a healthy discharge of pent up societal emotions?”, or “Does violence, sexuality and aggression in media help CAUSE these pent up societal emotions?”.  If you think we've got the answer to that one, you’re reading the wrong piece.  We're sure there are other articles out there, running the gamut from ultra liberal to ultra conservative, willing to lay into that till the cows come home.  We just wanted to lay a foundation here is all with the "aggression" thing. So, back to the "violence in media" debate with the friend  …

      During our “Chicken or the egg”-like chat, we mentioned that we believed there was a little bit of Idi Amin and a little bit of Gandhi roosting within every human being.  That everyone has buried deep within the subconscious desire to help and nurture and see justice, but at the same time we all also possess a degree of prejudice, sense of superiority, and desire for power which, if unchecked can become dangerous to others as well as to ourselves.  The friend heartily disagreed. And we were genuinely surprised.  As the years have ticked by we found ourselves surprised (no, downright shocked) to encounter many others who also disagree with that summation of the human condition.  We still however stick to our guns.

We believed (and still do) that, just as the first step towards an alcoholic receiving help is TO ADMIT THAT THEY HAVE A PROBLEM, so to is the first step towards (forgive the “Kumbaya” sentiment) us making a better society for those who will follow in our footsteps to admit that we’re, well, … more “F’d” up inside than we’d otherwise prefer to acknowledge.  That there is a degree of aggression within us all which, left unchecked, and even masked behind a so-called "legitimate reason", can grow to unhealthy and dangerous extremes.  And keep in mind there is a difference between being "aggressive" (of which we're all about and all for) and "aggression" (with which we all inwardly battle regularly).

     Most who personally know this writer know him as a rational, (mostly) even tempered, fair and impartial human being who will speak up and stand up for what he believes is right.  And while being one who chooses to solve things non-violently, hey!, he can also, when the need arises, (as our parents used to say) “finish what someone else started”.  Y’know, were you reach that sometimes critical point in a situation where, “When the only language some people understand is an ass whuppin’", you’ve got to be able to go bi-lingual and speak their language right back at them.  As we said a healthy balance between the two. 

Understanding What Makes Them Tick -The Positives: Holmes, Bond and Turner (aka Ronald Malcom)

     For this reason our all time favorite characters in literature have always been, on the positive side,  Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Ronald Malcolm (from James Grady’s novel “Six Days Of The Condor”: he’d undergo a name change to “Joe Turner” and be portrayed by Robert Redford in the film version THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR), because they’re all, while far from perfect, quick thinking, clever, resourceful men
whose intellect is their greatest asset.  And, on the negative side, Captain Ahab, Dr. Henry Jekyll and Shelly’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein, because they were all very smart, dedicated, even tempered intellectual men who’s darker side went unchecked, and they then became consumed by dangerous obsession and aggression.  Boy, can we relate to that too!  We love those six fictional characters because we understand them all intimately.  We somehow suspect their writer / creators did as well.

Understanding What Makes Them Tick - The Negatives: Ahab, Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein

    "Mack The Knife: A Theme From The Threepenny Opera" (K.Weil / B. Brecht) vocal - Bobby Darrin ('59)


      A writer confronts his own psyche in Stephen King's THE DARK HALF (1993 / dir. George A. Romero)

     We completely understand Ahab’s misplaced anger at God, Jekyll’s unbridled lust run amuck, and Victor’s love of life heightened to such a degree, that in trying to make it last forever, he ironically ends up bringing premature death down upon the heads of those for whom he cares.  We're not proud, and we ain’t braggin’, but we definitely “get it”.  We get the dark half running loose.  We get the ancient parable about each of us having two fighting dogs within our hearts - a good one and an evil one; and the one which wins out today being the one to whom we gave more food.  And a part of us can run free and join those wild dogs in their destructive rampaging within the safe confines of the pages of those books and films based upon them.  As earlier said, in that respect we think a degree of “death”, “destruction” and aggression-fueled desire to (let’s use that phrase for the last time) “blow shit up” (okay, we’re done) falls under the category of healthy release.  Here’s the rub though … HEALTHY WHEN WITHIN A SAFE AND FICTIONAL CONTEXT! AND NOT WHEN DIRECTED AT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING FOR GLEE’S SAKE.

   The joy of chowing down: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

     Please scroll that one past the teleprompter once more, will you?  Because this is where our blood begins to boil, and we, as we're sure many of you too, sometimes want to "go bilingual", "finish up" some things or, as PULP FICTION's Marsellus Wallace once so poetically put it, "Get medieval" on a few asses. Repeat: a little creative / displaced sublimation of aggressive tendencies is nice and cool, and even healthy. BUT NOT WHEN DIRECTED AT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING (and that kicker part ...) FOR GLEE’S SAKE.

   The joy of chowing down: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1975)

     Social media is great, and expressing one’s opinion, even aggressively so, is fantastic and necessary.  But (once again, you know it and we know it, so let's stop pretending) there is a "tipping point" where opinion becomes insult, insult becomes attack, and an attack on a piece of work somehow becomes a personal attack on the person who created it.  A point where love of an art form somehow goes darkly awry, and where all of the “George Lucas sucks!”, “JUPITER ASCENDING is a piece of sh*t!”, “D.C. needs to be more like Marvel!” et al bashing by (so-called) fans and (wanna be) journalists goes beyond HEATHERS-like bitch-i-fication and into a realm of "He's dead Jim, so you can stop beating him with that club now"
territory. Either that or it becomes akin to sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with Leatherface and family.  It’s that point where there seems to be a near ghoulish glee (a sublimation-like transference of some personal inner frustration?) in the cranial bludgeoning and ripping into the flesh of another.

     Are we the only ones hearing Kurt Weil's "Mack The Knife" right about now?

     "Sometimes folks can get a little mean", some will say, "But in the end it's just people expressing their opinions; no harm / no foul".  And to a degree, yeah, all true.  But in some instances, ... increasingly far too many
... , "innocent if fervent" opinion / critique slowly, not so imperceptibly, becomes a mask (perhaps unbeknownst even to those who regularly don it) excusing an ugliness and viciousness born of myriad reasons.  

     Perhaps from a frustration at a lack of achievement in one's own endeavors while watching others, who seem far less worthy, ascend to lofty heights. That's an emotion to which most of us (if honest) can admit to at least having a fleeting acquaintance, no? Or maybe a feeling that those whom we supported when no one else would, when they finally hit the "mainstream", sold out and forgot where they came from.  Take your pick. 

     Also take a look-see at any number of message boards - from YouTube, Amazon and HuffPost, to Fox News and dozens of fan sites in between for proof if you too, like that friend with whom we had the debate, still doubt there is an inner ugliness which at times oozes forth from even the most (usually) kind and artistic of individuals.  It's amazing how the comforting "displacement" of the Internet, that anonymous mask behind which we can nakedly "be ourselves", can give birth to the social media version of the "Ugly Naked

     Still wondering where we're headed with this?


     Hard to believe it’s been almost
six years since the Gull Cottage / Sandlot site began.  Launched as a labor of love (and to keep from going bonkers) by a screenwriter (yours truly) when there was an industry-wide downturn in the acquisition of new spec scripts, we’ve grown to a mini-network with a podcast show, a feature length documentary in the works, and an online TV network soon set to launch.  The original impetus however (we're proud to say) hasn’t changed an iota since the inception: a simple love of film - good, bad, ugly and otherwise, and a desire to delve below it's various layers (music, writing, cinematography, costume and production design, acting, visual FX and more) in search of an ever expanding education into this the most complex of all art forms. So complex because it includes all of the other art forms.   Film is magic, and it allows us mere mortals to fly like birds and to commune with gods. 



     Our very first “Musings & Ramblings” piece, “Movie Snob?: Sorry, No Room For You Here” (July, 2011), expressed our personal POV on this.  If you get the chance, link to it.  It’s not half bad.  As there are a few excerpts which dovetail with our little chat here, we’ve got to include them:

     “Personally I have a problem with this kind of arrogance.  I realize filmmaking isn’t brain surgery or the cure for cancer.  But it is an art form, and one I love.  Sergio Leone once said, 'I was born in the theater … almost', and I’ve always felt the same.  As a child, film was my first window into the greater world outside my neighborhood.  My first glimpse into other cultures and philosophies apart from my own, as well as my introduction into other art forms. 

     Which is not to say you just love EVERYthing.  Hardly!  Back 'in the day' when HBO was pretty much the only movie network available - they were AMC, TCM, Bravo, ESPN, Ovation and The Documentary Channel all rolled into one, this was serious film school baby, as early in the day you could watch and analyze MOONRAKER or CLASH OF THE TITANS, then later (if you took a nap earlier and if your parents were out) sit up late and dissect the films of Vittorio De Sica or Lina Wertmuller.  But only so late as HBO ceased transmission around midnight or 1:AM back then. 


      At any rate, during this time I came to love Truffaut (as well as Kurosawa and Robert Altman) and feel that Wertmuller was a bit too arrogantly condescending for my tastes… an opinion which still raises the ire of cineastes friends. 

     Years ago, while working at a popular city video store, every Monday I and a co-worker named Sloane would have what we called 'Bad Movie Night', wherein she and I would scour the shelves for what absolutely HAD to be the worse film ever made.  We’re talkin’ grade 'Z' fare here. 

  Leonard Maltin

     The store had something like twenty-odd screens throughout the building.  And neighborhood folk would often stop by (a couple’a sheets to the wind after having a few drinks at the bar across the street) in order to partake in our local MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000-like festivities.  What was consistently surprising however was how often (Jeez! 60% of the time) we’d be fifteen or twenty minutes into the film, when either Sloane or myself would say, 'Hey, this is actually kinda cool.  Take it out and put something else in.  I’m taking this one home tonight'. 

     Once upon a time those who called themselves critics actually imparted information in their reviews.  Somewhere in there you’d have a behind-the-scenes tidbit or two; some kind of insight into how the film got made and why certain things ended up as they did, or as they didn’t but should have.  The Special Features sections of DVDs and the internet eventually rendered that journalistic need obsolete, and many reviewers then seemed to become more interested in the turning of a witty phrase, to be remembered or re-quoted, than in the intelligent dissecting, deconstruction and analyzing of a film’s merits and/or weaknesses. 

     There are a few 'old schoolers' out there who still do the classic 'deconstruction to analyze' thing.  Leonard Maltin is one of the best.  So is Elvis Mitchell.  Then again those guys are actual film historians too.  And even though I don’t always agree with Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, The New York Times’ A.O. Scott, and didn't always see eye-to-eye with Pauline Kael or some others, I certainly respect and admire their love of the medium to the degree that they won’t just hurl stones at what they dislike; but will / would back up their statements while at the same time attempting to inform.”

"When people ask me if I went to film school ... I say 'No, I went to films'" - Quentin Tarantino

  "I Hate You" - From STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) vocal - K. Thatcher & Edge of Etiquette

                     "RAS"- MATAZZ

     Every awards season the above "why we love film" excerpt reminds us of why we've never been huge fans of “The Golden Raspberry Awards” (“The Razzies” to those who know her best) - that annual shindig usually held the night before the Oscars, and “honoring“ the years worst cinematic achievements.  “Ahhh, c’mon!”, we hear you saying again, “It’s all in fun; does ANYone take the Razzies seriously?”.  Maybe so, maybe so.  But follow us for a sec.  Founded by film marketing copywriter and publicist John Wilson, the first ceremony (as it were) was an impromtu one held in his home on Oscar night back in 1981. 

     Hosting a dinner for friends during the Academy Awards, he invited various guest to give their own improvised “honors” to filmdom’s greatest stinkers of 1980; the inspiration for this stemming from his catching a double bill of CAN‘T STOP THE MUSIC (remember that one, with the Village People, Bruce Jenner and Steve Guttenberg?) and XANADU back to back the previous year.  And hey, how can you NOT come up with the Razzies after an evening like that?  Oh, by the way, CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC took top honors that night in Wilson’s home as “Worst Picture of 1980”.

     With many of Wilson's guests having acquaintances in the press, the L.A. Times picked up on it and did a nifty little human interest story.  This caused attendance at the following year’s Razzies to double, and the same happened for the next two years until in the mid 80s CNN ran a nationally televised story, and the Razzies then became an official filmic institution.  Now, the beginning of it all sounds like a helluva good time hoot.  And most of us have surely done our own rendition of it and / or MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 at our own movie parties and get-togethers.  That's kind of what Sloane and I were doing at the video store.

     But over the years the Razzies slowly seemed to become “official Hollywood canon”, with the publication even of “The Official Razzie Movie Guide” in 2005.  And from that point (to us at least) an air of smugness and snobbery began to creep in and take over from the original sense of fun. 

     It is possible to make zingers and take potshots at the conventions, cliches, and irritatingly redundant aspects of film while still displaying a love for it.  The films of Zucker / Abrams / Zucker (AIRPLANE, THE NAKED GUN, TOP SECRET) and Mel Brooks (BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PT 1) are the best at this.  To us the Razzies seems to have lost this vital element within it's DNA, and now seems more like the film industry version of the shipwrecked youngsters in LORD OF THE FLIES developing their own little micro civilization with it's own unique caste system and all.  Or perhaps a more accurate analogy - the plane crashed rugby players in ALIVE resorting to feeding upon the flesh of their dead for their own survival. 

A 2009 Razzie nominee for "Wort Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel",
the Wachowski's
SPEED RACER would impress with more legit nominations from
The Motion Picture Sound Editors Assoc. (Best Sound Editing), St. Louis Film Critics Assoc. (Most
Original, Innovative Creative Film; and Best Visual FX), and Visual FX Society (Best Matte Paintings)

     We were encouraged to see we weren’t the only ones who felt this way upon coming across Devin Faraci’s mini-piece a couple of years ago on BadassDigest, “The Razzies Are Total S**t For People Who Hate Movies”, as well as Robbie Collin's informative Telegraph U.K. article (opining that "... the joke isn't funny anymore"), and Sam Adams recent IndieWire blog, wherein he relates how Razzie members aren't even required to see the films for which they're nominating and voting.  "Say Whaaa!"    

     Now, while we don’t necessarily agree 100% with Faraci’s summation of things (his "C'mon dude, take it down just a notch!" title perhaps a bit much), we do believe the Razzies went the Ahab, Jekyll, Victor Frankenstein route where, originally born of passion and love, things got a little dark to the point of now believing one’s press, and coming to feel that one has become an important, not only gauge, but actual arbiter of industry taste.  That’s the point where we have to say, “Ahhh, c’mon, didn’t this use to all be in good fun?”. 

Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock collect their Razzie "honors" in person   

     On the up side (hey, we're not going to TOTALLY diss the Razzies) once in a blue moon a "winner" will display an ultimate degree of (we love this word, y'know) "coolness", along with taste, and a refreshing sense of humor about themselves, and actually show up to collect their prize.  Halle Berry did so for her performance in 2004's CATWOMAN.  And proof positive that every bad movie has it's assets, Berry's were wonderfully on display in that film's skintight leather outfits.  Nah, seriously, Klaus Badelt's score to CATWOMAN (featuring vocals by late great Russian R&B / alternative musician & actress Natasha Schneider) was one of the standout film music achievements of 2004.  And it's a pity most were unable to separate it's award-worthiness from the unfortunate film to which it was attached. 

     Perhaps even more impressive, in 2010 Sandra Bullock proved just why the whole world loves her by showing up in person to collect her trophy for the previous year's ALL ABOUT STEVE - where she played a "lovable stalker" intent on becoming the significant other of news cameraman Bradley Cooper.  Bringing along with her a wagon full of ALL ABOUT STEVE DVDs, she gave them out to audience members. Incidentally that same year she'd win the Best Actress Academy Award for THE BLIND SIDE.  Way to go Sandy!  Now, perhaps if the Razzies themselves would recapture that same sense of "not taking one's self too seriously as an 'institution'" they too might recapture their own long lost sense of iconic cool.  Oh, and one more thing.  An observation or litmus test if you will …

     Haters gonna hate ... CATWOMAN (2004)

     The image on the cover of THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE MOVIE GUIDE - the gorilla flipping the bird?  We kinda wonder how many Razzie attendees and followers know from whence the image is taken.  It’s from the 1976 film A*P*E (also known as, and we’re not kidding, ATTACK OF THE GIANT HORNY GORILLA).  “Presented by” B-movie impresario Jack H. Harris (the man behind the original THE BLOB and 4-D MAN), it was filmed for under $25,000 (a paltry sum even in the 1970s) in 3-D, and intended to cash in on the upcoming release of Dino De Laurentiis’ big budget remake of KING KONG. 


    It’s original version filmed by a South Korean production company, it got “Jacked” (ha! ha!) by Harris, and received a similar treatment the producer had applied to future ILM FX maestro Richard Edlund’s early film EQUINOX - wherein footage from the original no budget film was augmented with newly filmed material, then re-dubbed, scored and released as an entirely new feature.  Interestingly, the “new” version of A*P*E is credited to late director Paul Leder, who was the father of Mimi Leder.     

     Credited on A*P*E as “Asst. / 2nd Unit Director”, it was Ms. Leder’s very first film gig.  She’d later go on to become one of TV’s most respected directors (nominated for 11 Emmys, and winning 2), helming multiple episodes of CHINA BEACH and E.R. before making the leap to features with the George Clooney nuclear thriller THE PEACEMAKER, the Spielberg produced DEEP IMPACT, and the drama PAY IT FORWARD.  And that’s our point.

     So easy to dog a movie like A*P*E, and even use images from it for camp value.  But I dunno, if you've genuinely got film sprockets in your bloodstream, you kinda want to look just a little further below the surface, even below the surface of dreck (that "bad, ugly and otherwise" part mentioned earlier), for something more.  Stephen King once called this ability to do so "that which separates true fans ..." from the Johnny-come-lately variety, and he continuing on to equate such die-hards as people who, not unlike a street person, will wade through mounds of garbage in order to find one decent piece of meat.  A gross analogy perhaps, but not wholly without merit or accuracy, wouldn't you say? 


     The Razzies nowadays only sees the mound of garbage and says “Screw that!” before moving to the next mound for a similar dismissal; seeming not to care that there may be a little something of hidden value in that great big (wonderful) world of "non-important" cinema.  And yes, even if that cinema happens to be last weekend's overblown budget-busting studio epic. It's somewhat heartbreaking that the world of filmic iconoclasts seems to have fallen into the same paradigm as the established ceremony (the Oscars) to which they were originally the "bad boy" alternative. 

     Teddy Roosevelt once opined that "Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining".  And wouldn't it be nice, ... wouldn't it be awesome! ... if the Razzies took some of that wonderful "up your's!" attitude, and maybe added a category or two to each year's proceedings along the lines of say "Best Film Which The Critics Universally Panned" or even "Best Film Which Unfortunately Tanked At The Box Office".  We're just spit-balling here.  Hmmm?  Maybe we'll try to get something along those lines rolling at the Cottage.  

   For the time being give us “Film Comment Magazine” and their annual listing of “Moments Out Of Time” - where they recap some of the most magical moments in cinema from the previous year, be it an entire scene or merely a single shot, either from an acclaimed hit or bludgeoned critical dog.  Or check out their listing of
"20 Best Unreleased Films" .  We’re all about that sort of thing.  Sorry Razzies, over time the darker spirited dog within came to overpower and kick the ass of the originally more witty and creative one.  We think it may be high time to change up and flip those apportioned servings of Purina Dog Chow.  Just sayin'. 

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