Thursday, June 22, 2017

OH, HELLO!'S GEORGE ST. GEEGLAND AND GIL FAIZON BACK AT THE Y!

If you haven't yet watched Oh, Hello! on Broadway on Netflix yet, or even if you have, you should check out the not so dynamic duo's return engagement at the 92nd St YMCA, to get your first taste (or an extended second helping) of their signature, rapey brand of aging New York "values". The funniest, most drug-centric comic team since Cheech and Chong, hands down! L'Chaim!


If you're as big of a fan of these two as yours truly is, then you've probably already seen their first visit to the 92nd St Y, in which they wax nostalgic about their legendary prank show Too Much Tuna, how "the Dersh" stole the show at the "Screaming About Israel" conference, and the joys of SUNY Yonkers campus life. Mazel-Tov!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

NEIL BLOMPKAMP'S NEW SHORT FILM, RAKKA


Read more about the production of this film, and the innovative release partnership with Valve/Steam, which allows you to download many of the raw elements of the film to create your own version, including extended full takes, voice over tracks, all the way down to digital wireframe figures that you can customize.

Monday, June 5, 2017

BOB DYLAN'S NOBEL PRIZE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH (UPDATED JUNE 13)


In recognition of his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016, Dylan eloquently appraises the impact that great literature has had on his songwriting, in particular Melville's Moby Dick, Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, and Homer's Odyssey. Whether or not you think Dylan was deserving of the honor (personally, I'm ambivalent), his acceptance speech is worth listening to.

UPDATE: Turns out he plagiarized his speech from SparkNotes.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

DOCUMENTARIES ON NETFLIX ~ BULLET REVIEWS


GET ME ROGER STONE ~ Daniel DiMauro, Dylan Bank, and Morgan Pehme are the three people responsible for bringing us this landmark political documentary, perhaps the best of the genre since 2003's The Fog of War by Errol Morris.

To mark their film's debut, they penned an op-ed about it for The Daily Beast: "Over the course of the five-and-a-half years that we followed him for our new Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone, Roger Stone went from being a down-and-out, has-been political dirty trickster to the individual most responsible for making Donald Trump the president of the United States."

If you're even minimally invested in the ongoing soap opera of the Trump Era in American politics, Roger Stone's personal arc as presented in this film is something you will feel in your bones, like pulling heavy G's. Early on, Jeffrey Toobin calls Stone "the sinister Forest Gump of American politics", a spiffy bon mot that hovers over a stark, dark truth that grows all the more terrifying and inescapable the longer you continue to ignore Nietzsche's warning and gaze upon it.

Anyone hoping to understand what the hell is going on these days needs to make this documentary part of their personal political education program. Watch ASAP and help spread the word.

*** **** ***


COMMAND AND CONTROL ~ Part of the PBS "American Experience" series, Robert Kenner's Command and Control tells the long-suppressed story about how a minor screw-up, followed by a number of bad decisions, eventually escalated into a deadly explosive outcome at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas, 36 years ago.

Combining harrowing historical footage, interviews with those involved, and exacting re-creations shot at a decommissioned Titan II silo, Command and Control is as gripping, suspenseful, and compelling as the best that Hollywood has to offer.  To call it entertaining would be crass, but denying the effect this film has on viewers would be foolish. It's a documentary, yes, but it's also a thriller.

Fortunately, Command and Control informs as it thrills. Alongside its detailed journalistic exposé of the Damascus disaster, the filmmakers also treat us to a compact history of America’s nuclear weapons programs, buttressed with information from a number of recently declassified documents.

Some of you will be pleased (and others, nonplussed) to learn that Command and Control steers clear of too much philosophical chin-stroking on the awesome subject of nuclear armaments and/or nulcear warfare in general. Suffice it to say that the facts in this case speak volumes on their own, for those inclined to hear.

This is another one to see ASAP and to help spread the word about. Tell your friends and family to watch!

*** **** ***


BOWIE: THE MAN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD ~ This film is lazy documentary wheel-spinning at its absolute worst. There is nothing new here, and it doesn't even do a good job of regurgitating what we already know. It's the same old anecdotes (his eyes!) told by the same old talking heads (whispering Bob!). Pounding the last nail in this doc's coffin is the fact that the filmmakers' were unable to secure the rights to even the briefest bits of Bowie's music, which means we're often treated to the bizarre spectacle of Bowie silently mouthing the words to his songs, while generic instrumental "soundalike" tracks play along. One of these days, we'll get a truly great David Bowie documentary. This one, however, is to be avoided at all costs.

*** **** ***


DMT: THE SPIRIT MOLECULE ~ This 2010 film is the documentary version of Dr. Rick Strassman's earlier book of the same name. Both explore the findings from Strassman's five-year study into the amazing, and occasionally spooky, effects of the naturally occurring psychedelic hormone N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, more popularly know as DMT.

Like the book, Strassman's film isn't for all tastes. For instance, while you don't need an undergraduate degree in organic chemistry to "get it", at some points a solid grounding in basic chemistry will make the difference between being able to follow along, or having the voices blur into the "WONKAWONKA" of Charlie Brown's teachers from those old TV specials.

Though there is a great effort put forth by the filmmakers to present the nitty-gritty granularity of the science behind the DMT experience, the heart of the film is most definitely the "experience reports" provided by those volunteers who took the heroic doses, traveled to the Other Side, and came back to tell us about it.

Depending on your previous levels of exposure to psychedelics, and to the lingo of the psychedelic experience, your mileage may vary. Personally, I found this doc to be incredibly fascinating and deeply satisfying. The first-hand reports are compelling, to say the least, and they have the ring of truth to them... even, and maybe especially, when they dip into those spookier realms. Because when scientists are forced to ask themselves whether or not they're accessing something akin to another "place" beyond four dimensional time/space... and furthermore, to wonder whether that "place" may be populated by conscious entities with a kind of existence that is so unlike our own as to make them invisible to us during our normal waking lives... Well, that's my sweet-spot, right there.

If the sentence previous to this one appeals to you, watch this movie. If not, don't.

*** **** ***


FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK ~ This documentary by Adam Nimoy--son of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who embodied the character of Mr. Spock for over half a century--is both a son's loving tribute
to a father, and an in-depth exploration of a bona fide pop culture phenomenon.

To put it bluntly, For the Love of Spock is everything that David Bowie: The Man Who Changed the World is not.

To start with, it's chock-a-block with novelty and revelation. If you weren't a full-blown Trekker/Trekkie prior to watching this film--the kind who reads all the actor biographies and autobiographies as they come out--you are pretty much guaranteed to learn a LOT of things you never knew about Leonard Nimoy before. Some of it good, some of it bad, most of it interesting... MOST of it.

Ultimately, Adam has provided us with a fine, complex portrait of his father, a man whom people the world over recognize at a glance, but without ever giving a thought to the hidden depths contained within the man beneath those infamous pointy ears. Now, they'll know. He should be proud.

Oh, and Zachary Quinto seems like a really nice guy. Recommended for a lazy Sunday afternoon watch with the whole family!

ROGER WATERS' LATEST IS TRANSCENDENT AND DEVASTATING

I seem quite incapable of stopping myself from listening to "The Last Refugee", the latest preview cut from Roger Waters' Is This The Life We Really Want?, over and over again. It's an incredible track, a paradoxical mix of raw, open wound production over a delicate yet devastatingly poetic mise-en-scene... an absolute, unqualified masterpiece, right out of the gate. 

That production should be provided by Nigel Godrich is only fitting, perhaps, seeing as Radiohead carried the Pink Floyd mantle into the 90's and beyond (much to their chagrin at times). A match of artist and producer that was obviously forged in heaven, or Valhalla, or wherever all transcendent things are forged.

As a life-long Pink Floyd fanatic who has always, more or less, found things to love in Waters' solo output, I have to admit that the passing of a quarter century (and the release of his opera, Ca Ira) left me more than a little skeptical that he would be able to recapture the magic of old. 

As of today, I am no longer a skeptic. Is This The Life We Really Want? is shaping up to be a worthy successor to Amused to Death, Waters' previous and best post-Floyd release, if not its equal, or perhaps even its superior. Either way, we'll know for sure in two weeks, when the album is finally released.

Oh, and if you're reading this... thank you, Roger. For everything.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WTF PODCAST WITH MST3K'S JONAH RAY AND JOEL HODGESON


I've been waiting a long time for Marc Maron to interview Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgeson on his WTF podcast, and their rambling discourse (it begins at 33:50) certainly didn't disappoint. The Jonah interview is pretty cool too, for the most part, but I'm not too crazy about the fact that he basically accuses those of us who have a problem with the new Tom Servo, as voiced by Baron Vaughn, are just being RACIST (WTF indeed!).

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MINDHORN (2017)


After premiering on UK movie screens to great acclaim earlier this month, veteran Britcom MVPs Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby's sly-winking genre satire Mindhorn has just reached Netflix, and it's the best time I've had with a straight ahead comedy in a very long time.

Barratt plays Richard Thorncroft, the actor who portrayed the titular TV detective Mindhorn for two seasons in the 1980's. The fictional biography of Bruce P. Mindhorn involves him being captured behind enemy lines while serving as an MI5 special agent and experimented upon by Soviet scientists, who remove his eye and replace it with "a super-advanced cybernetic lie detector", allowing him to literally "see the truth". Upon returning to the Isle of Man, Mindhorn becomes "the best plain-clothes detective the Isle of Man had ever seen".

Believing the show to be beneath his talents, and its location--the Isle of Man--beneath his dignity, Thorncroft quits at the peak of his, and the show's, popularity. He drunkenly slags everyone off on the Terry Wogan Show, and heads off to find greener pastures in Hollywood, where decades of failure have reduced him to hawking male girdles and pressure socks... and those are career high points. 

All seems lost, until a faint glimmer of hope appears back home, across the Atlantic, in the form of a deranged killer who calls himself "the Kestrel" and refuses to talk to anyone... except Mindhorn!

This is high concept farce, it's true. But it's high concept farce at its best, firing on all cylinders, brought to you by top talents who've produced some of the most groundbreaking, consequential, bleeding edge comedy of the new millennium, and they make the absolute most out of all the myriad comedic opportunities offered by the genre. 

And what genre is that? Well, it's somewhat unclear. Mindhorn mines show-within-a-movie, fish-out-of-water, and man-out-of-time tropes in equal measure, but it can also be described as Galaxyquest meets Toast of London. That comparison will make more sense once you've seen the film. There are also some truly uproarious sight gags, and some great character work, with Farnaby's Dutch stuntman character Clive being a particular stand-out. And the cameos! Kenneth Brannagh is just... never mind. You have to see it for yourself.

Longtime fans of Barratt's performance as Howard Moon for three magnificent seasons of the deliriously surreal Britcom masterpiece The Mighty Boosh already know how fantastic he is at portraying deeply flawed and delusional characters. As is the case with Steve Coogan--who co-stars here as a Mindhorn's sidekick, Windjammer, whose spin-off series success massively eclipses that of Mindhorn--Barratt's characters often seem to be living their lives according to rules set out in a ridiculously over-optimistic guidebook. Time and time again, circumstances arise to remind them they don't have what it takes to cash the checks they've been writing. Such scenarios often devolve into exercises in pure cringe, but Mindhorn (the movie, not the character) manages to keep the bathos to a minimum.

Bottom line: Barratt and company serve up a delicious if feather-light comic bon-bon that will leave you with a smile on your face and the phrase "The Benedict Cumberbatch backlash has begun" on your lips. Highly recommended!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

TOWER (2016)


TOWER is a 2016 documentary about the Texas Tower sniper attack that took place in Austin, Texas on Aug 1, 1966.

The choice to animate the re-enactments and get young actors to portray the now much older victims and witnesses, using their interviews word for word, if handled poorly, could have been distracting. Fortunately, it isn't. 

This is a great achievement in documentary film-making, and a profoundly moving meditation on the complicated nature of true courage. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 14, 2017

THE NEW SEASON OF MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 HAS ARRIVED!


Much like the zoster virus--which covers you in unsightly chicken pox for a while before going dormant and laying in wait for years, only to reemerge when you least expect it, stronger and more vicious than ever, covering you in unsightly (and painful!) shingles--the greatest achievement in the history of humor-based televised audio/visual entertainment is back!

I am referring, of course, to Mystery Science Theater 3000, Eden Prairie Minnesota's own little cow-town puppet show made good.

MST3K, as we fans like to call it, premiered on a tiny UHF station in 1988 before becoming one of early cable TV's most critically acclaimed cult sensations. For ten years, it channel-hopped from The Comedy Channel/Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel, producing nearly 200 full length episodes before apparently closing up shop for good in 1999.

Too much has already been written about the phenomenon that is MST3K for me to bother going over it all again for you now. The show's controversially huge Wikipedia entry goes into obsessive detail about everything from Joel Hodgson conceiving it as a way to help breathe comedic life into KTMA's hopelessly dated film catalog, to all the various cast switcheroos, to the show's ill-fated foray into making "cinema", to all the post-MST3K projects (like Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax), to the record-breaking Kickstarter revival that helped bring a full 11th season of the show to Netflix nearly 20 years after the final Sci-Fi Channel episode... so if you're one of those sad, unsullied fools still in need of a refresher course to remind you why this reboot is such a big freaking deal, you can always refer to that.

As for the rest of you--those who share in your humble blogger's absolute and unquestioning adoration of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as entertainment, yes, but also as a potentially powerful paradigm for a positive and progressive postmodernism--you need only know this: the first 14 episodes of the 11th season of MST3K all premiered on Netflix today, April 14th, 2017, one day before your humble blogger's 47th birthday... and you'll have to forgive me for getting more than a little mistie about the whole deal.

And so, as I hunker down to watch the first fresh episode of my favorite TV show of all time since watching the "lost" episode, featuring the film Merlin's Mystical Shoppe of Wonders, which aired on September 12, 1999, I promise to bring you updates, commentary, and bullet reviews for each episode. Watch for them to start appearing here, at the Mediavore, and also at my home base blog, the Daily Dirt Diaspora, seeing as I've been neglecting my duties there of late, due to the unfortunate combination of a paying graphics gig and the fact that Trump's increasingly unhinged behavior has got me so spooked I don't even want to comment on his shenanigans anymore for fear he might read something I wrote and launch nukes at Grenada or some other crazy shit like that.

Keep watching this space! HUZZAH!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

DEAD OF NIGHT, "BOBBY" (1977)

In a recent edition of the Blumhouse podcast Shock Waves, the hosts explored the elements that need to come together in order to create the "perfect" horror anthology, as well as what's needed to create the perfect story for such an anthology. 

Opinions were varied, of course, but one thing all the hosts could agree upon was the greatness of 1977's "Bobby", episode three of that season of the legendary anthology series Dead of Night. For sheer Satanic 70's creepiness, it just doesn't get better than this concentrated dose of made-for-TV nightmare fuel!

You can watch it via the Youtube link below, but I definitely recommend waiting until it's dark, in the dead of night... and that you watch it all alone. It's pretty much guaranteed to work its dark magic on you. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

COMING SOON: MINDHORN!

Julian Barratt, best known as Howard Moon from legendary psychedelic pomo panto show The Mighty Boosh, and as Preacher Man Dan from Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris' insanely underappreciated New Media sendup Nathan Barley, stars as washed-up 80's detective... MINDHORN! I've been waiting on this one for ages. First trailer looks promising!