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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A LOVING LOOK AT MY FAVORITE SCI-FI SPACECRAFT

You can keep your Millennium Falcon. If I were going to travel the infinite void, I'd do it in what amounts to a space-Winnebago!

Monday, April 21, 2014

YOURS TRULY CHATS ABOUT THE STREET FIGHTER (1974)


Friend and filmmaker Bill Scurry tapped Yer Bunche for NO TALKING DURING THE MOVIES, an internet series wherein various pop culture pundits talk about movies that they're passionate about but that the general public might not be familiar with, and of the many films I could have spoken on a length, I went straight for THE STREET FIGHTER. Regular readers of this blog are already well aware of my high regard for that chopsocky landmark, a film I have often cited as my favorite martial arts movie that takes place in a contemporary context rather than a classical period setting, and when allowed to expound on it for Bill's series I went off for a little over forty solid minutes. What you'll see below is a very short version of my fervid pro-Sonny Chiba rant and I hope to eventually be able to post the full-length shebang. Enjoy!

THIS PRETTY MUCH SUMS IT UP

Monday, April 14, 2014

HAPPY פסח FROM THE VAULT OF BUNCHENESS!

To all my Red Sea Pedestrian readers, Happy Passover! And enjoy this classic from the October 1977 issue of NATIONAL LAMPOON, an excerpt from "The Unreleased Albums of John, Paul, George and Ringo," credited to the magazine's editors:

RABBI SAUL (1967) This album was recorded for the benefit of Queenie Epstein on the occasion of her son Brian's untimely death. The idea was simply to cheer her up after her terrible loss; but not content with being cheered up, Queenie wanted to have the album released, claiming it would make "a pile." When the group refused, she sued, claiming that since they had given her the album, she owned it outright. The court case continued until Allen Klein took over management of the Beatles, at which point Mrs. Epstein inexplicably dropped the suit.

Main cuts:
  • Hey, Juden
  • Here Comes My Son, the Doctor Robert
  • Helter Schmelter
  • Your Mother Should Only Know
  • P.S.I.O.U.
  • If I Kvell
  • Mocky Raccoon
  • Sexy Seder
  • The Schul on the Hill

Thursday, April 10, 2014

IN HONOR OF BATMAN'S 75th ANNIVERSARY

The pre-Robin Batman, my favorite version of the character, finally gets animated. Oh, how I wish they'd do an entire series like this, black-and-white and all! Or, better yet, a 13-chapter serial! Anyway, this is the perfect way to celebrate this pop culture icon's 75th anniversary, so make sure to watch this in full-screen mode.

Monday, March 31, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA; THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)



It’s two years after the events of MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) — aka Captain America — continues fighting for his country (and the greater good in general) as an operative of S.H.I.E.L.D. while also struggling with adjusting to being a living anachronism who’s been time-displaced by seven decades. Partnered with veteran super-spy the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a crack team of the hardest of hardcore special ops soldiers, Cap and crew storm a hijacked ship to rescue the ransomed innocents onboard, but during the mission Cap discovers the Widow acting on a separate and rather shady mission that he was not made aware of. That discovery puts him at odds with S.H.I.E.L.D. direct or Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who, seeing Cap’s discomfort with possessing a strong sense of morality that runs counter to a career in the sometimes-nasty world of international espionage, clues him in on Operation: Insight, a government initiative that will put three new heavily-armed heli-carriers in the air, each ready to rock some heavy-duty ordnance on the nation’s enemies before they have a chance to actually get up to anything. Cap, being the true blue guy that he is, states that he’s all for fighting in the name of freedom, but this latest plan reads not as freedom but as a means of imposing order by means of devastating, practically-applied preemptive fear-mongering. While Cap stews over his disgust with S.H.I.E.L.D. and his own role in furthering their agenda, Fury, to his horror, discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s security protocols have been compromised and the control of Operation: Insight is in the wrong hands. Fury soon finds himself targeted by unknown foes that dispatch a legendary, highly skilled, bionic-armed — and apparently un-aging — assassin known as the Winter Soldier, and calling the resulting takedown brutal would be a gross understatement. With Fury taken off the board, Cap, the Widow, and para-rescue veteran/PTSD counselor Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) — known to longtime comics readers as the Falcon — must ass-kick their way through a maze of intrigue and low-down treachery that leads to the highest levels of government, and whatever the outcome, things will never be the same for any of the players.

That’s really as much as I can say about the plot without giving away its intricacies and surprises, but I will say that I greatly enjoyed the film. It’s every bit as good as its predecessor, only with the WWII period flavor replaced with that of a political/espionage thriller, and with the action cranked up considerably. With Cap’s origin out of the way, the movie’s main thrust it to take the audience along with the most moral of heroes on a journey through the murkiest waters of the global spookshow as filtered through the sensibilities of the Marvel Universe. A few notes:
  •  The heartbreaking return of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). She last saw Cap in 1944 and did not have the benefit of being frozen along with him. You do the math…
  • Spectacular fight choreography that lets us see how well Cap fights when not relying solely on his shield-slinging chops. The fight in a crowded elevator, in which Cap decimates close to a dozen counter-terrorism hardcores and regular S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and the in-the-street battle against the Winter Soldier are standouts that had the audience cheering. 

Mess with the best, lose like the rest.
  • More quality ass-whuppery from the Black Widow.
  • The Falcon finally being rendered in a way that made me care about him as a character, something that was long overdue, especially since he shared Cap’s monthly comics series as his partner for a number of years in the 1970s.
  • The live-action debut of Batroc (Georges St-Pierre), and the man can fight like an utter sumbitch.
  • Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, the man who hired Nick Fury as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. The last guy I ever expected to see in a Marvel Comics movie, Redford’s terrific and totally believable. 
  • I saw the film in 2D and nothing that I saw appeared to be specifically geared for the 3D effect, so I suggest you opt for the 2D and save yourself the extra bucks.
  • As expected, the movie features two Easter eggs at the end; one immediately after the main cast credits that prefigures the next AVENGERS installment, and one at the very end that looks to be an element that will be pursued in Cap’s next solo outing.
  • Based on the strength of this entry, I’m very interested in seeing where Captain America’s solo adventures go from here, especially now that he’s partnered with the Falcon.
 I saw the film at the Marvel Comics company screening with a number of friends and former colleagues, and several of those comics veterans hailed CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER as the best Marvel movie yet. That opinion was espoused by people who would not say that in order to tow the company line, so take it for what it’s worth.

Yours Truly, at the Marvel Comics screening at the Ziegfeld. The shield belongs to a super-fan whom I've seen at the NY Comic Con several times over the years, and all of the signatures of comics luminaries are authentic.

Friday, March 28, 2014

AIN'T IT THE TRUTH!

The photoplasty of my Facebook images continues, with this apropos entry from Melanie Cossio Avallone.

FUN WITH PHOTOSHOP!!!

There's been a trend where people post photos of themselves online and let their friends alter them in ridiculous ways via Photoshop, so a few days back I granted my photoplasty-savvy artsy pals leave to raid my Facebook photo albums and mess with pics of me in any way they saw fit, the more ridiculous or offensive, the better. Well, the first two digitally-retouched images have come in, courtesy of my old friend and ultra-talented artsy colleague Matt Maley, and they're a hell of an opening salvo. This first item is fun enough:

But it's this second one that I'm absolutely mad for, and I intend to have it printed at 8"x10" and framed for my wall:

Ro-Man, the titular star of the infamous ROBOT MONSTER (1953), is my unofficial alter-ego, so this could not possibly have made me happier.

I'll post more such items as they come in, and I sincerely hope they start veering into the ultra-absurd and twisted!

INEVITABLE, THY NAME IS THIS

I totally called this one when the source film came out. Forget the fact that slave fetish porn exists, this one was guaranteed to happen the minute the title 12 YEARS A SLAVE was emblazoned across the nation's cinema marquees.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

JODOROWSKY'S DUNE (2013)


If it plays at a schmancy art theater anywhere near you, run, don't walk, to see JODOROWSKY'S DUNE, a documentary on the ultra-psychedelic director's abortive attempt to get his vision of Frank Herbert's science-fiction classic to the screen, with collaborators Moebius, Chris Foss, Dan O'Bannon, Salvador Dali, Pink Floyd, Magma, and H.R. Giger. I'm a huge fan of his movies — especially THE HOLY MOUNTAIN and SANTA SANGRE — but the documentary was not at all what I expected, because it is hands down the funniest account of the making of a film that I have ever seen. First of all, Jodorwsky hadn't even bothered to read the book when he launched the project, and at one point he describes his process as "raping Frank Herbert...but with love." A compelling look at what happens when an ambitious artist seeks to craft a project that will utterly change the horizons of film while granting its audience some form of enlightenment through a movie that sought to emulate the effects of an LSD trip without actual hallucinogens, viewers will find themselves rooting for the director's utterly bonkers plan, though it's obvious that no Hollywood studio in 1975 would have funded a 20-hour (!!!) film that would obviously cause a tidal wave of hemorrhaging cash.  I could say more — a LOT more — but this documentary is best seen with as little foreknowledge of its content as possible. It's complete madness, thoroughly entertaining, fucking hilarious, and it gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.