To check the dubious reasoning behind these posts, check the original here:
In this new series of posts I’ll be selecting a Star at random from every decade (who was born in that decade) starting from the 1880s up until the 1990s to be interred in this land of magic and wonder, who will for ever more see their name set in stone far beyond the places where Gods dare to tread. Each name will have a unique star placed and statue built-in their honour. Often accompanying these additions will be news of a new store or museum to go alongside those stars whose work is of particular genius, and you too can visit and see the place of your dreams, simply by closing your eyes….
1880s: Nicholas M.Schenke. For contributions to Movies. Moving from Russia to New York at an early age, Schenke had an eye for opportunity, starting various theatre and amusement endeavours before helping in the creation, growth, and success of MGM.
1890s: Charles Laughton. For contributions to Movies, TV, and Theatre. One of the most diverse people in the early years of film, Laughton wrote, directed, and starred in successful and influential movies around the world, picking up three Oscar nominations and winning one in the process while also making spoken word recordings and sporadic TV appearances. He is remember for works including The Night Of The Hunter, The Private Life Of Henry V III, and Witness For The Protection.
1900s: Lupe Velez. For contributions to Movies and Theatre. Starting out in Mexican Vaudeville, it didn’t take Velez long to being one of the first turbulent careers in Hollywood, being known as much for her fiery temperament as her acting skill. Her life, death, and the many urban legends surrounding both have been legendary in the decades since her death, but she is nevertheless best remembered for performances in The Mexican Spitfire series, Wolf Song, and The Storm.
1910s: Val Guest. For contributions to Movies and Television. Guest has one of the more interesting stories regarding introduction to the film business, having been challenged by a director to write a script after a scathing review – the director loved the script and so the doors were opened. Guest continued for the next six decades as a writer and director for films including The Day The Earth Caught Fire, The Quatermass Experiment, and When Dinosaurs Ruled The World.
1920s: Roger Moore. For contributions to Movies and Television. After a stint as Captain in WWII, Moore starred as a model in various commercials before appearing in movies and eventually hitting the big time on the small screen. Through his TV work, Moore found his way back to the big screen and earned his most famous role as 007. He is known for works including The James Bond Series, The Saint, and Escape To Athena.
1930s: Harold Pinter. For contributions to Movies, TV, Radio, and Theatre. One of the finest dramatists of the 20th Century, many of his works have ended up on the screen as well as providing screenplays and performing as an actor on TV, film, and stage. He is known for works including The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Homecoming, and Betrayal.
1940s: Dwight Shultz. For contributions to Movies, Television, Radio, and Theatre. Known primarily for his work in Television, Shultz has led an incredible career behind the camera, providing voice acting talents to countless videogames, movies, and TV shows. He is known for works including The A Team, The Star Trek Series, and The Ben 10 Series.
1950s: Kelly McGillis. For contributions to Movies,Television, and Theatre. Since earning rave reviews and having roles in highly successful movies early in her career, McGillis has sought to remain out of the limelight taking several breaks from screen performances while continuing to work on the stage. In recent years she has become a favourite with horror fans thanks to memorable performances in cult hits. She is known for works including Witness, Top Gun, and Stake Land.
1960s: Jake Weber. For contributions to Movies and Television. Son to wealthy and famous parents, and raised in an environment of drugs and excess, Weber managed to carve out his own career and after having minor roles in major movies he has gone on to achieve wider success of larger roles in works including Medium, Dawn Of The Dead, and The Cell.
1970s: Andrew Lincoln. For contributions to Movies and Television. Starting out with minor roles in single episodes of British TV shows, Lincoln has since carved a niche by appearing on cult shows as memorable characters, with works including The Walking Dead, This Life, and Teachers.
1980s: Lyndsy Fonseca. For contributions to Movies and Television. Earning a spot on one of America’s most famous soaps led Fonseca to continue a career which has seen her move effortlessly between the big and small screen in a variety of genres, with works including The Ward, Nikita, and Kick-Ass.
1990s: Will Poulter. For contributions to Movies and Television. One of the UK’s shining talents since first emerging, Poulter has shown no problems transitioning from child to adult roles and has appeared in some of the most successful movies since 2000 including The Chronicles Of Narnia series, The Maze Runner series, and We’re The Millers.
In addition to the stars and statues erected in honour of the people above, the following attractions have been created.
In honour of Roger Moore’s induction The Saint Museum has been built, featuring sections from every era of the universe including the original book series, and the radio, comic, TV, and movie versions.
In honour of Will Poulter’s induction, The Maze Runner Attraction has been created – this attraction features hundreds of mazes for all the family to test your physical and mental ability – traditional hedge mazes, basic mazes for children, mazes filled with traps, scares, and obstacles, and state of the art shifting mazes which transform while you are wandering through – only the finest will find the exit!
What attractions, museums, or exhibitions based off any of the works featuring the people above would you like to see in your wildest dreams? Let us know in the comments!
*Based on a free copy provided by Amazon
A two star review raised to three stars if you happen to like any of the actors involved. A generally unlikable cast of characters moan their way through a slightly above average day in an average job, berating each others apathy and rightly failing to care about any of the essentially worthless problems they are all facing. It is true that none of the problems they have are worth discussing, but it is these which form the bulk of the dialogue and largely replace conventional attempts at a plot. But isn’t that the crippling malaise which we all suffer from? The fact that we all feel we should be doing something more, something better, but we aren’t because of laziness, misfortune, lack of talent. Having said all that, there are a variety of plus points which will make it watchable for a select audience – and bonus points for having nice cover art which has been nailed to my wall in work. The cast are mostly good at portraying themselves as self-centered, unlikable bores, tired, stressed, empty, although at least one is grating on the eye, at least one is grating on the ear, and at least one has been playing the same character the same way for most of her career. There is some humour and there are attempts at creative dialogue which, although they feel flat for me, will likely please certain sections of the audience.
That is another bone of contention – who is the film catered to? The Bridget Jones crowd? It seems much to downbeat for that, and isn’t the sort of film to cosy up and watch to make yourself feel better, unless it works for you in a cathartic way. The art crowd? There isn’t a lot to talk about from their perspective. As pure entertainment, it’s never more than ok, and I can’t see many people either recommending it or wishing to go through it again. The director has a few moderately interesting techniques involving voice overs and transitions, but it’s again nothing we haven’t seen before. So why the three stars? I’m not sure to be honest, and as I’ve spent the last four minutes writing this I’ve wavered between two and three. I picked this up largely because I like to watch smaller, unusual, ‘indie’ films, and while this doesn’t necessarily tick all of those boxes, it’s certainly not a blockbuster, or a simple drama. I also love Neve Campbell and try to pick up everything she is involved in, the good, bad, and average. She is fine here, and there are some in-jokes with regards to her life and career. It is nice to see another film appreciating the people who have normal jobs, and which takes the time to show these people and respect their dreams and desires, but as mentioned already, the characters are too exaggeratedly unlikable and similar to be realistic. You will surely recognise a few traits of each in yourself, and in the people you see around you, but it’s all too heavily handled.
So, if you want to try something a little different, if you want a basically all women cast (who, to the films credit, do not all define themselves in their relationships with men), or if you want to watch a bunch of people mope around and complain about nothing, then go for it. More viewers may appreciate certain actors, some may enjoy the humour and dialogue, and some may think I’ve missed the point entirely and love it. Let us know in the comments what you think.
Official Nominations: Estelle Parsons. Carol Channing. Mildred Natwick. Beah Richards. Katherine Ross.
A decent line-up of actresses who most modern viewers would not recognise as big hitters, with Estelle Parsons picking up a deserved win for her performance as Blanche Barrow – the real life Blanche did not approve. Katherine Ross plays Elaine in The Graduate with the right amount of sadness and sympathy, and Beah Richards gets a nod for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner after also appearing in In The Heat Of The Night. Natwick reprised her stage role in a strange choice for nomination for Barefoot In The Park, and Channing is a more obvious choice as the unusual elder in Thoroughly Modern Millie – both movies do not compare with the quality of the other three and point again towards the Acadamy’s need to shoehorn in a musical and/or theatre adaptation.
My Winner: Estelle Parsons
My Nominations: Estelle Parsons. Ursula Andress. Katherine Ross. Katharine Houghton.
Two originals, and two newbs for my picks – Ross and Parsons making it over from the main list. I add the obvious choice of Houghton who was snubbed for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and the unusual pick of Ursula Andress doing one better than she did in Dr No by playing Vesper (and a 007) in Casino Royale.
My Winner: Estelle Parsons.
Who is your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1967? Let us know in the comments!
A remake of the Herschell Gordon Lewis gore-fest, this is low on outlandish gore yet high on elaborate death sequences, high on cult performers but low on good acting, with plenty of indecency and campy one-liners, stupid moments that border on embarrassing, and horror without any scares.
The plot will be familiar to anyone who has watched any horror film in the past fifty years – a group of friends on a road trip become stranded in a strange town with stranger inhabitants and have to fight for their survival. It opens like any number of 90s, early 2000s films introducing a group of detestable caricatures on their last day of University before heading off for Spring Break. On the way the meet more annoying stereotypes before taking a detour and ending up in Pleasant Valley, a town which is apparently stranded in Southern Civil War era cartoonishness. We have buxom milkmaids, inbred hicks, Huckleberry Finn-alikes, good old boys, howdee y’all housewives, and all the rest of it. Rather than immediately leaving, the group decides to stay the night and enjoy some free Southern hospitality, and possibly boobs. Before long limbs are being torn from torsos, shlongs are being bitten off, and bodies are being squished, all in the name of…. zombies/vampires/ghosts/torture freaks/revenge? It doesn’t really become clear until the finals scenes, and by that point we’ve fainted due to the inanity of it all.
Every cliche in the Great Big Book Of Cliches is here, with no attempt to inject any surprises, tension, or ounce of interest. Some may say that’s the point – it’s simply a remake of a silly grindhouse film. What’s the point then? Why not just go back and watch the original? The same could of course be said for most remakes, but in this instance there is really no need to watch unless you are a die-hard Robert Englund or Lin Shaye fan. Those two ham it up royally, while the rest of the cast a mere cannon-fodder. Normally I would excuse such things if the gore was respectable, but this is low-budget rubbish with effects you wouldn’t have been shocked by in 1964. Sure the odd eye pops out and the odd arm is ripped off, but it’s done as if the camera wants to look away – there’s all the build up and just when you think you’re going to get a bloody money shot, there is but a mere glimpse, and then nothing; It’s rare for a grindhouse movie to be so tame.
Having said that, the film did make me uneasy, though that may have been because I watched it during a particularly painful bout of insomnia mixed with sickness. I hadn’t slept or eaten in over 60 hours and was talking to the sofas at 2.00am so I put it on. For some reason, scene after scene of silly redneck accents and antics made me nauseous and I couldn’t stomach it. I only returned to the second half once my illness had been pissed away. By then I was ready for a bloody final 45, but it never came and instead I got the usual tropes – final survivors are led into a showdown, and someone escapes and finds a local sheriff. At this point you know there are only two possible outcomes – the local sheriff is in on it and brings you back to the scene of the carnage to die, or when the police come to investigate there is no evidence of any crime. I’ll let you worry about which ending this one has – it really doesn’t matter. Should you watch it? If you’re a horror fan then nothing I say will stop you from watching. It is tripe with few redeeming qualities, and yet the story has potential even though it’s been done to death already a hundred times. There’s really no reason for a film like this to be made, or for anyone to watch it, but by all means give it shot – there’s still unfortunately a lot worse out there.
Let us know your thoughts on 2001 Maniacs and how it fares against the original in the comments below!
‘Sleep the drug that helps me forget/The yawning reality of regret’
It’s All Gone
We all need a little sentimentality in our lives; it can’t all be doom, gloom, and cynicism. Particularly for gore hounds and fans of extreme and outre cinema like me, it’s good to have that select few films that you know you can return to when you need to laugh, smile, or try to restore your faith in humanity. It’s also nice, but rare to discover new ones. With an introduction like that, you’d expect me to say that August Rush is one such favourite or new find. While it is sentimental, and while I did (on the whole) like it, it isn’t going to change anyone’s world and it is neither shmaltzy enough or convincing enough in its plot and characters to give me cosy, snuggly feels.
The plot is this; an idealistic pair of young dreamers, both musicians have a fleeting meeting one night in New York, star-crossed lovers who share a brief, perfect night together. The next day they are swept apart and kept apart. Movie magic decrees that a single bout of unprotected sex ALWAYS leads to pregnancy, and a few months later a bambino pops out. There is treachery afoot and the boy is put into foster care. Over the years the boy seems to become a musical prodigy/Nostradamus and knows that his parents are looking for him. So begins an American Tail type journey as the boy flees to New York in search of his parents, meeting all manner of characters along the way and showing off his incredible musical ability. These scenes are interspersed with scenes of mummy and daddy both in search for each other and their baby.
I think the plot is interesting and it certainly has all the qualities for a heartwarming couple of hours. I think the writing though is a little lazy and the directing haphazard. Scenes leap around without warning or skill and after all the build up, the ending doesn’t feel like a strong enough pay off. The melodrama is too bland, the more powerful emotive moments are left unexplored or hanging, and there is too much focus on musical scenes and discussions between secondary characters. The performances are uniformly strong – it’s clear everyone had their hearts in the right places, but Freddie Highmore has an extremely irritating way of gawping and open-mouthing that had me reaching for the imaginary shotgun on several occasions. There are moments when the music is powerful, but it lacks a truly impacting score as I couldn’t recall any of the music a few hours after watching; music in movies is something I’m very susceptible too and I can remember pieces for many years after only watching a particular film or TV episode a single time.
With a little shaving around the edges, a little more focus on the struggles of the characters, stronger direction, and less smiling from Highmore and this would be a much better movie. As it stands I would still recommend it, particularly for those who fall for sentimental movies, or old fashioned weepies with a slight fantastical twist. It feels a little like a disappointing missed opportunity as it has all the right parts for making a cult favourite. For people like me who need another Edward Scissorhands to cure the blues then it’s worth a watch, but it may only cure boredom momentarily and leave us searching once more.
What do you think of August Rush? Did it work for you, or was it too messy, contrived, or sentimental? Let us know in the comments!
When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to: A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time. B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety. C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers. D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).
Greetings, glancers. Today we return to Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 albums and our first Blur entry. I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy this one as by and large I’ve liked what I’ve heard over the years from Blur and they are a pretty large missing piece from my musical knowledge, outside of their biggest songs. I just hope the accents don’t annoy me.
What I Know About Blur (Band): Britpop darlings, massively successful, one half of the infamous Oasis versus Blur Civil War in the 90s, built around Coxon, James, Albarn, and probably another one. I know most of their singles pretty well, but I’ve never owned or heard any of their albums in full. I was always on the Oasis side of the argument. Something about Blur in the early days seemed too cheery, too happy and silly, and Damon’s face and singing style/voice annoyed me. Later songs I enjoyed more and the band grew on me, but still I never actually went back to listen to any albums.
What I Know About Blur (Album): Nothing, I wasn’t even aware they had a self-titled album. I would have assumed this was their debut, until I saw that it wasn’t. Looking down the track list I recognise, and like, two of the songs, but aside from that I don’t know anything else about the album.
Beetlebum: Has a short scratchy intro before the famous distorted riff comes in. The vocals and melodies have a Beatles feel, a drowsy post-grunge appeal with an exuberant melancholy pop chorus. I’ve always liked this one.
Song 2: This one everyone knows. I remember mocking and appreciating the Smells Like Teen Spirit stylings of the song when it was first released, and the song has continued to hold worldwide popularity, always popping up some movie or TV show. Good start to the album, but that’s the two songs I recognise out of the way.
Country Sad Ballad Man: Another scratchy opening. Twangs and drums. Eventual tune. Distant vocals. Weirdo vocals. More droopy, sleepy vibes. Interesting enough. Solo with unrelated string bending. Alien noises. Explosion. Wasp trapped in an eye socket. Flipping a pancake into a toilet.
MOR: Nice guitars. Building. Bowie vocals. Chorus. It’s certainly loud and bouncy. The vocals and singing accent don’t do it for me. Chorus is okay, I’d say after a few listens of this this would either completely piss me off or finally click with me, not sure which but I’m veering towards being pissed off.
On Your Own: Spaceman intro. WipEout. Robots eating and crapping guitars. More Bowie vocals. ‘Ooooh-ooooh’ harmonies. It’s all a bit too drunken and chanty for my liking, one to sway about to with ‘the lads’ as you fall out of ‘the’ pub. ”.
Theme From Retro: Throb in. Drums. Circus funeral. Ghosts bobbing for apples. This is just one big Bowie wank fest, innit?
You’re So Great: Better start. Basic stuff at a pleasing tempo. Vocals not quite right of course. Nice bonus guitar. Rinse and repeat.
Death Of A Party: More distortion and organ mishaps. Okay verses, more drowsiness. Chorus is better but misses a trick by not going on for another few moments, another line and another progression from ‘gently on the shelf’. It goes on for another verse, then goes on a bit more, then stops.
Chinese Bombs: Faster guitars. Drum disaster. Clearly a joke song, but it’s better than most of their serious ones on this album.
I’m Just A Killer For Your Love: Funk. Drum mess. Scratchy guitars, why not. More drowsy verses and chorus. Getting sleepy. More noises for the second half of the song. Sounds like a bunch of knobs let loose in a studio for a few hours with no idea what they’re doing.
Look Inside America: Another acoustic start. Big vocals. Strings bonus. Rest of band appears. Bowie chorus. Can’t shake off those drowsy tones and melodies. There are a few good moments here, but outweighed by the guff. Surprise harp and guitar ending. Because we haven’t had a song with a harp on it yet.
Strange news From Another Star: Continuing the loose tonal theme. Change to acoustic, much better. Good verses, lets hope it doesn’t get thrown away. Much better chorus, still drowsy, still Bowie, but keeps the best moments of both. Easily the best song since the 2nd track. Even gets the ending right.
Movin On: Good intro. Jaunty riffs. Fun enough, doesn’t go anywhere but not too offensive. Comedy ending.
Essex Dogs: Apparently this includes ‘Interlude’. That should be good. Throbbing. Tin cans. Like an old Spectrum racing game. Words. Is it about Essex? I’ve no idea, but I know I never want to go there. Guitars and lasers. More words. Distant singing and bass. Robot orgy. Bits and pieces. It’s fine, works well as an experimental piece. Here come Interlude. It’s ok too, repeating the same weirdo sounds.
What I Learned: That the first Blur album I listened to contained far fewer pop and commercial songs than I was expecting. That singing in your speaking accent will always annoy me, especially when it’s wanky posh English. That Blur tried to experiment and, well, failed.
Does It Deserve A Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Not in my opinion, no. I understand now, after reading some of the album’s wiki page that this was a departure for the band in almost all departments. It seems like a strained attempt at a magnum opus, of being something they were not, or at least had not been. They tried, but it doesn’t work for me. There are maybe three or four songs here I’d gladly hear again, with another one or two being passable, but the rest is pretension by a group who don’t appear to have the skills to be pretentious.
Is this your favourite album? Do you think it deserves a place in the Top 1000 Albums of all time? Let us know in the comments!