9/2/14: Scarface (1983)

Do any of you know who my favorite musician is? [As Tony Montana] “Say hello to my lil friend! Scar - Tony Most musicians don’t have the guts to be who they wanna be…play what they wanna play.” Then there’s Jerry. Scar - Wall But there’s so few of them guys that there’s only one. [Brooklynite] “So that’s why I like music, you know. But the guys in the movie business are the guys who fly straight. Okay, here’s the story. I come from the guttah. I know that. But I got an education & that’s okay. And I know the street & I’m making all the right connections. I got the right woman, Xmas - Cindy so there’s no stopping me. If I wanted to, I coulda gone straight to the top. But me: I always tell the truth; even when I lie. My father: PW - Dad He was, uh, from the gutter too. Just like me, ya know? We used to watch sports together, especially da Yankees. Scar - NYY He was a big Yankee fan. I’d like ‘em too, but I don’t pay attention ta sports too much. But Mom: OTW - Mom She knew! Uh, she used to make me study movies wid ‘er. I learned. We watch guys like Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney. Scar - HB&JC They, they teached me to talk the street. I like doze guys. I always knew one day I’m comin’ here to talk about movies. My old boss – really old & mean as a river rat – Linda Big Stuff, Scar - Hag she axed me, [Wicked Witch of the West] ‘Is this it? That’s what it’s all about to you? Eating, drinking, screwing, talking?’ Fuggetaboutit! I’m 57. I got a bag for a belly. I got tits. I need a bra. Dey got hairs on ‘em. I got liver spots. I eat crap all day like one of dem rich freakin’ dummy celebrities in Miami. Ain’t it great, man? Hey, every day above ground is a good day. And someday, I plan to spend my remaining days above ground in New Smyrna Beach FL Scar - NSB  with my big, hairy tits hanging out. Pelican, fly! Come on, pelican!” Scar - Pelican

As the quote by Jerry suggests, people are inherently afraid of those from other countries – always have been & perhaps always will. Tony Montana (Al Pacino),Scar - Pacino Brian DePalma’s Scar - DePalma Scarface (a word never uttered in the film), is the paradigm for why. He came from the streets too, the streets of Cuba, where he was a seasoned criminal before ever setting foot on one of the ships headed to Miami carrying 125000 refugees – 1/5 of whom had criminal records. When he gets to Miami, he & his best friend Manny (Steven Bauer) Scar - Manny are sent to a refugee camp where their felonious natures escalate. Soon Tony & Manny are deeply involved with South Florida’s organized crime syndicate and begin working for the brutal drug lord Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). F. Murray Abraham, who plays Lopez’s right-hand man Omar, found out he got the part of Salieri in Miloš Forman’s Scar - Amadeus Amadeus Amadeus while Scarface was in production. Before receiving that news, he was treated as an also-ran by the crew. The notoriety of playing the co-lead role in a Forman film changed that instantly & forever. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Frank’s girlfriend, Elvira, Scar - Cast and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is Tony’s sister, Gina. Scar - Gina The screenplay was written by none other than Oliver Stone, Scar - Stone who was addicted to cocaine at the time. 

Scarface received 3 Golden Globe nominations: Pacino for Best Actor in a Drama; Bauer for Best Supporting Actor; and Giorgio Moroder for Best Score. Scar - Giorgio Mororder, a 3-time 3 Oscar Winner, was the first to restore Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent masterpiece Metropolis. Scar - Metro He simultaneously composed a new score for it. Metropolis is a Utopian city for the rich who inhabit it, but dystopian for the proletariat who live beneath it & keep it running. Moroder’s version was released, fittingly, in 1984. Many scores have been written for it since, most recently by the Caspervek Trio Scar - Casper in 2014. The Alloy Orchestra Scar - Alloy have 4 different scores that they’ve performed live accompanying the film since 2010.  The Alloys are a 3-piece ensemble who use keyboards, strings, drums & stuff to make the music & sound effects fitting the action (e.g., a saw creates the sound of a door opening). I saw Metropolis with the Alloys at Real Art Ways (or RAW), Hartford Scar - RAW on 3/19/11, before Executive Director Will K. Wilkins Scar - WW changed policy direction, eliminating classic film to re-focus only on new art, irrespective of quality, seemingly targeting mainly the LBGT community. But if you don’t respect for the past, how can you expect to to take steps toward the future? But in 2011, Real Art Ways was fantastic. And that screening of Metropolis backed by the Alloy Orchestra was one of the finest evenings of art I had the privilege to attend that year. The film, my favorite of the decade, was Kurt Vonnegut’s Scar - Kurt main inspiration for his first novel, Player Piano. Scar - PP No copies of the original 153 minute version remain and the Alloy’s 148 minute versions are copyrighted, but Moroder’s 83 minute and a 148 minute version with a different score are on YouTube and Netflix. Okay, say hello to Moroder’s score & watch the trailer below, then update your Netflix DVD or Blu-ray Queue or visit HBO GO to stream Brian DePalma’s Scarface. 4 Stars!

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8/9/14: High Anxiety

Anxiety

I brought a fruit salad & some water for you all while you read the Blog today.

Okay, let me just install this water in the dispenser. Anxiety - Lift “I got it. I got it. I got it. I ain’t got it.” “When I ring the bell, you are tardy! And those who are tardy do not get fruit cup! Anxiety - Bell Okay, come up & get your fruit cup & water. 

You’re probably thinkin’, [feminine] ‘You’re so strict, Professor!’ I’m strict, but fair! And, as you can see, I did work long & hard on this speech!” Anxiety - ProfAs Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety opens, a plane is landing & Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Brooks) is petrified. Anxiety - Thorndyke I’m not an aerophobe, but I can relate. I hate flying. The only good thing about it is getting there fast. I particularly hate the post-9/11/01 airport security process. Anxiety - Security A couple of years ago, my wife Cindy & I P&C were flying to New Smyrna Beach FL Anxiety - NSB with a couple carry-ons each. She went first & made it thru fine. My laptop was A-OK but then when they screened my backpack, am alarm went off and, already a nervous wreck, I turned to Cindy & said, [Jewish] “‘What is this, a game show? What did I win, a Pinto?’ as a TSA agent asked, [baritone]‘Whose bag is this?’ I raised my hand & he said, ‘Follow me! I’m sorry sir, we’re going to have to search you & your bag.’. Anxiety - Security ‘Please sir, what did I do? What did I do? What’s my crime?’ ‘You beeped.’ ‘I beeped! I beeped! Take me away! Take me to Alcatraz! Put me in irons! I beeped! The mad beeper is loose! Take away the beeper! Take me away!’” It turned out that my kids had a party at our house while we were out the Saturday night before, and one of their friends left some cans of Busch Beers in the fridge. Anxiety - Busch I took a few to the movies the night before, drank all but one & forgot to empty the backpack before leaving for Bradley. When he discovered the offending item, he said smiling, ‘Mr. Marino, life is too short to drink crappy beer.’, and I was on my way fully aware Anxiety - Sweat of my need for more of this ===> Anxiety - RG

Alfred Hitchcock Anxiety - HItch often utilized the potential danger in various modes of travel as a plot ploy, and Mel Brooks’ captures the idea perfectly as double Golden Globe Nominee High Anxiety begins. Dr. Thorndyke is the new head of [Dr. Colburn] The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very VERY Nervous. Anxiety - Inst Dr. Charles Montague (Harvey Korman) Anxiety - Korman is angry that he didn’t get the post when the previous head suddenly died of a coronary. Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) Anxiety - Diesel, undoubtedly a parody of Nurse Ratched Anxiety - Ratched from Miloš Forman’s Anxiety - Milos One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Anxiety - Cuckoo, really runs the Institute. Thorndyke immediately notices the suspicious goings on there . There are many great comic performances in the picture, including: Ron Carey as Thorndyke’s assistant, Brophy Anxiety - Brophy; Howard Morris as the Dr. Sigmund Freud character Anxiety - Freud, Professor Lilolman Anxiety - Morris; Madeline Kahn as Thorndyke’s love interest, Victoria Anxiety - Kahn; and Brooks’ 3 co-writers all appear in the film, as does Charlie Callas in a cameo as Cocker Spaniel Anxiety - Callas. 

Hitchcock perfected the MacGuffin, a plot ploy used to move the characters along in the story. MacGuffins seem important, but aren’t. The best way to know if something is a MacGuffin is to substitute the word & see if anything changes. For instance, in Psycho Anxiety - Psycho, Marion (Janet Leigh) Anxiety - Marion steals $40000 & flees Phoenix where she meets Norman (Anthony Perkins) Anxiety - Psycho& her demise at the Bates Motel Anxiety - Bates. But if she stole a MacGuffin instead, wouldn’t her fate have been the same? Watch the trailer at the bottom of the Blog, then add the film to your Netflix Queue. As you watch the film, you can use the table just above the trailer to see where MacGuffin & the other Hitchcock references mentioned in High Anxiety can be found: It’s the most comprehensive list I’ve seen documented anywhere. Not to sound like The Man Who Knew Too Much, but my Suspicion is that my Blog readers know I’m Notorious for film analysis so Rich and Strange that if I was anyone else, even if I was Young and Innocent, Under Capricorn and beyond a Shadow of a Doubt it’d give me Stage Fright, make me Spellbound, cause Vertigo, send me into a Frenzy, and drive me Psycho. If I’m wrong, you can take me Downhill The 39 Steps, throw me out the Rear Window hanging from a Rope until The Birds peck at me, leaving nothing for the Family Plot. And now, even if you’re a Secret Agent, I’m The Wrong Man to Blackmail, I Confess, Bon Voyage, Bunny <=== The Lady Vanishes ===> Geisha, leaving my tribute to Mel Brooks’ tribute to The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock: High Anxiety! 4 Stars!

Anxiety - Table

8/14/14: Elvis – That’s the Way It Is

Elvis

Music is like no other art form. For those of us of a certain mentality, it can drive you crazy; manifesting in a love for the form in general and The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion Elvis -GRTUD for a particular artist long after death. And I mean your own, not theirs. Mozart comes to mind. Elvis, of course. I love ‘em both. But it’s Jerry Garcia that “rocks my soul”. Elvis - BDown“When you’ve heard him on record, really there, that’s nothing until you’ve heard the live performances. I remember the first time I saw him live, with the Grateful Dead on 4/23/77Springfield Civic Center. Elvis - 42377 He walked out on stage & that’s all it took for me. Ya know, I was a fan immediately. Before…I had heard a lot about him, said, ‘Ya sure. Nobody, NOBODY is that good!’. Well, he’s that good. He’s…um…the original creator of this style – what people call jam bands, a term I take exception to. Well not the original creator, but blended it & put it together in a way that it stayed. And…when he did this, he created something that nobody [laugh-talking] knew where it was gonna stop. A Jerryhead is more than just a follower. It just…somebody that cares enough that they devote a good part of their life to him. I collect every show I can get on CD. I’ve got 100’s of dollars worth of CD books of these shows, taken up in the house anywhere I can get ‘em. And Jerry was very patient with his fans. He really liked them. He loved them”, just like Elvis did his. And as you watch Elvis: That’s the Way It Is, you’ll see this come thru loud & clear! Jerry, by the way, was a huge fan of Elvis’: He covered Mystery Train

and That’s All Right Mama

with the Grateful Dead and his side projects; Run Tutt, Elvis’ drummer, played in Jerry’s solo bands from ’75-‘77;

and Grateful Dead and Jerry Band backup vocalist, Donna Jean Godchaux (née Thatcher), was on the From Elvis in Memphis LP as well as Suspicious Minds which was originally released as a single. 

Elvis - Donna

That’s the Way It Is, which reached #22 on the Variety National Box Office Survey in 1970, documents Elvis’ return to touring after 12 years. In reality, it wasn’t much of a tour. He played the Elvis Summer Festival from 8/10/70 thru 9/7/70 at the International Hotel’s Showroom Internationale in Vegas, then toured for a week. Elvis’ longtime manager, Col. Tom Parker, Elvis - Col is credited as Technical Adviser. He wanted the project to be a closed circuit broadcast of one of the shows, but it was not to be. It was an MGM release, and they did all the filming & called the shots. The studio rehearsals are at MGM Studios in Culver City CA and RCA Studios, Hollywood. The live segments are all from Vegas – opening night and Evening & Midnight performances the next 3 nights. During the opening sequence, a live performance of Mystery Train/Tiger Man, there’s a fan-made sign hung indicating the show is from 9/9/70 – AZ Coliseum, Phoenix, but it’s not. That was the only show of the tour in Phoenix & the tune wasn’t played there. It’s masterfully edited to give the impression that the documentary is of the tour. Film Editing is part of post-production, meaning it takes place after filming is completed. It’s the art of sequencing footage according to the director’s instructions. In 1970, editing was done by splicing sections of film together. Now it’s done digitally. Film Editor Henry Berman Elvis - Berman combines concert  footage, interviews, fans comments, the International Hotel’s Press Conference & such brilliantly in this great documentary of The Return of The King, Denis Sanders’ Elvis: That’s the Way It Is. Unfortunately, this is not available for free but can be rented from Amazon  Video for $2.99. So watch the trailer below then head over to Amazon to see the full movie. [Elvis] “Thank you. Thank you very much”. 3 Stars!