Archive for the ‘Hell.’ Category

 

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973)

 

Certainly as a director and a little less so as a star, Clint Eastwood has worked in just about every genre there is. One glaring exception is horror, or so it would seem. HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER comes pretty damn close. It’s a genre rope-a-dope. You see the star of THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY and he’s riding a horse and carrying a six-shooter, so you think you know what kind of a movie you’re expecting. And then you get hit with something else entirely, but not right away.

 

 

 

Here I find myself in the unfortunate position of spoiling a movie early on simply by describing it in terms of the horror genre – since for a long stretch, the story of HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER would not lead one to conclude it should be filed anywhere other than the Westerns shelf of the library.  

 

 

But, at the very least, Clint Eastwood as director and star uses some elements of the ghost-story genre in the construction of HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER.  The unnamed gunslinger appears out of the haze of the frontier heat on his way into a town that he eventually paints blood-red (literally) and re-names “Hell,” and the wailing score by Dee Barton of PLAY MISTY FOR ME is at all times more horror-movie than Morricone 

 

 

Clint’s second film as director after the aforementioned PLAY MISTY FOR ME, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER was heavily influenced by the styles of Clint’s mentors Don Siegel and Sergio Leone.  Unlike PLAY MISTY FOR ME, which was a then-contemporary thriller, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER would have seemed like a return to familiar genre terrain for Eastwood. But this was no usual shoot-’em-up. It was the first of many sly and bold deconstructions of his own “nameless gunfighter” persona – this is no hero, but a ruthless avenging angel.  And maybe “angel” isn’t remotely the right term.  

Actually it definitely isn’t.

 

 

Written by Ernest Tidyman, creator of SHAFT, and moodily lensed by Eastwood regular DP Bruce SurteesHIGH PLAINS DRIFTER lets you know almost immediately that this isn’t Gary Cooper territory. The townspeople of Lago are nervous about a trio of murderous outlaws, led by Stacey Bridges (played by Geoffrey Lewis), who once terrorized the place and are rumored to be on the way to do it again. So when a mysterious stranger, in a familiar tall, dark and handsome form, rides in from the desert and shoots down some nasty customers, it would seem he’s the answer to Lago’s prayers.

 

 

But when a well-dressed blond lady tries to meet-cute with the stranger by bumping into him, he forces her into a barn and not very ambiguously forces himself on her. This is within the first fifteen minutes of the film. It’s startling and upsetting, and while there are indications the woman seems to enjoy it, that only makes it more difficult to process. Our movie’s hero has done one of the worst things you can do to anyone to a seemingly innocent person. And we’re still supposed to root for this guy? Can you imagine the Salon thinkpieces if this film were to come out today?

 

 

Of course, as it turns out, nobody in Lago is innocent or pure. But we don’t know that at the time of the sexual assault. And even once the truth is revealed, this moment still doesn’t sit right. Nobody deserves such a violation, and even if logic were perverted and contorted enough to make rape seem justifiable, does that make things better? Is anything really resolved? And why are we watching in the first place?

 

 

Twenty years later, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Science awarded Clint’s film UNFORGIVEN for its canny deconstruction of the star’s own persona and that of basically every American action hero of the past century. But — not to take anything away from UNFORGIVEN, which is a favorite — HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER proves Clint had been doing that all along. The gulf between what an audience expected from Clint in 1973, when he first rides into this movie on a white horse, and then what he proceeds to do in short order, is unfathomable. It’s still shocking today. No action star before or since had been so daring with their onscreen persona. No movie star period would risk such a vicious reversal of expectations.

 

HPD

 

 

Like HIGH NOON, this story is about a lone gunfighter preparing to face off against three outlaws in a frontier town. Like THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, the story finds a town hiring a mercenary to teach them to fight against invaders. But in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, the hero abuses the authority he’s given: He assaults a woman, drinks up the town’s booze, appoints a little person (Billy Curtis, who is excellent in the movie) the town sheriff, defaces the scenery, and ultimately abandons the people in their supposed time of need. He’s an unchecked anarchist at best.

The Western is maybe the single genre where American audiences most expect our heroes to be heroes. Clint Eastwood used the Western to make us ask ourselves what that means.

 

 

 

— JON ABRAMS. 

 

 

ME

 

 

 

 

Manborg

The bad news is that sometime in the near future, the armies of Hell are coming to Earth.  Mankind simply does not currently have the resources to withstand their necro-technological might.  The seas will run with the blood of billions and the SuperBowl will presumably be cancelled.

The good news is MANBORG.

A soldier who is mutilated and left for dead by the ravenous hordes of Hell, the hero who will be come to be known as Manborg is reconstituted and outfitted with a cybernetic weapons system powerful enough to turn the tide.  He is re-captured by the Hell armies and forced to fight in an arena alongside a trio of super-powered martial artists — #1 Man, Mina, and her brother Justice — who will become his new friends and help him combat the overwhelming forces of Count Draculon, and at this point I admit I kind of lost the plot, but who cares?  MANBORG is so silly it’s beautiful.

This is a real movie I’m describing. I’ve seen it.  (Three times now!)  It wasn’t a dream.  I’m awake, and stone-sober.  MANBORG is an actual thing that exists.  You can experience it too, and I highly suggest that you do.  I can’t answer all of the questions you will probably have.  For one thing, the origins of the film remain hazy to me, as if shrouded by Hell-fog or the smoldering fires of an infernal battlefield.  IMDb lists the film’s creation date as 2011.  It traveled the festival circuit in 2012.  It appeared in stores on DVD in 2013, where I grabbed it immediately.  Could you resist that poster artwork?

MANBORG was made by a Canadian filmmaking collective known as Astron-6. They’re a bunch of guys who make movies on the cheap, pitching in on each others’ projects in every function including stepping in front of the camera.  The director of this particular outing is Steven Kostanski, who shows an impressive command of genre-cinema film-checking.  The movie, like Manborg himself, is a lumbering patchwork Frankenstein’s monster of other movies: ARENA, HARDWAREROBOCOP, TERMINATOR, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, RETURN OF THE JEDI, HOWARD THE DUCK, ROBOT JOX, DR. STRANGELOVE, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, MORTAL KOMBAT, G.I. JOE, and TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE.  To name only a few.  If you, like me, spent countless sugar-fueled late nights in front of a TV screen mainlining action movies, you will be in hog heaven with this flick.  It’s not quite accurate to say that MANBORG is a snug fit on a shelf with some of the more esteemed films on that list, but it would be absolutely true to maintain that MANBORG completely captures the giddy rhythms of euphoric movie-love.  The way you felt when you were talking about these movies, the way you still may feel when talking about them; that’s the spirit in which MANBORG was made.

Another thing about the making of this movie:  The production budget for MANBORG was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000.  That probably wouldn’t even cover the price of the yellow tarp for a Scientology tent on a Tom Cruise movie.  It’s hardly any money when you’re talking about mainstream filmmaking.  However:  In absolute sincerity, I insist that this is incredibly impressive work for that budget.  Sure, it’s goofy-looking, but that’s intrinsic to the charm of the thing.  It says a lot about these filmmakers that they could stretch the money as far as they do.  It suggests that they have a future in so-called serious movies, if that’s what they want, although I kind of hope they don’t.  I want to see more movies like this one, although I’m fine with re-watching this one until then.

There’s something fantastically charming about this movie, the way it simultaneously feels like a bunch of film-fanatic friends getting together to make a movie and still invites just enough suspension of disbelief to enjoy as a somewhat corny, bizarrely sincere addition to the ranks of bizarro action movies.  In other words:  Even as you know it’s a goof, you still feel like going with it.  Because it’s just more fun that way.  And I don’t know, man — there’s even something touching to me about the fact that I could walk into Best Buy and see MANBORG sitting on the shelf.  Right in between MAGNUM FORCE and MARS ATTACKS!  This is one for us.  The weird kids.  The movie freaks.  The up-all-nighters.  We made it!  Feels like home.

 

P.S.  Be sure to stay through the credits for the trailer for… BIO-COP!

 

Read more about MANBORG at the official MANBORG site: http://www.astron-6.com/manborg.html

 

Listen to Brian Wiacek’s authentically-radical score here:  http://manborg.bandcamp.com/

 

 

And say hi to me on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb

 

 

 

 

manborg  ManborgTeaser_Mina Scorpius

lilguy   Baron

superbeasto_dvd.preview

Now here’s a strange duck:  A hard-R horror-comedy adult cartoon feature from musician/director Rob Zombie, featuring the usual voice suspects and a couple surprise voices. The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto is a filthy, funny, deranged mess of a kitchen sink of a movie that will please a certain kind of person, ideally in a certain state of mind (if you get me), and will turn off the straight-laced. For my part, I’m just glad that something like this exists – it’s comfortable knowing that there’s a place in the world for adult animation, even if it’s not exactly my flavor.

The story, as much as I can collect it all in one column, goes a little something like this: El Superbeasto (voiced by comedian and co-writer Tom Papa) is an insanely horny luchador – somewhere between Santo and Dirk Diggler – who is the big cheese in the titular Haunted World, a geek-dream dimension where zombies and werewolves and strippers coexist in constant hysteria. As soon as El Superbeasto falls for the town’s alpha-stripper, Velvet Von Black (voiced by Rosario Dawson!), she is abducted by the misleadingly named Doctor Satan (voiced by Paul Giamatti!) and his long-suffering gorilla henchman. El Superbeasto is aided in his rescue attempt by his younger sister, Suzi X (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her hopelessly infatuated robot sidekick (Brian Posehn.) At the end of the day, this is all about high school: Doctor Satan was the school nerd, in love with the head cheerleader (Suzi X) and constantly tormented by the school bully (El Superbeasto.) Doctor Satan will have his revenge, and hump it too!

El Superbeasto is fairly described as Heavy Metal meets Ren & Stimpy (the design, pace, and much of the voicework is heavily indebted to John Kricfalusi’s surreal/absurd classic series.) It’s also probably fairly described as Rob Zombie’s most fun movie, even his best. I’m on record as saying that I root for Rob Zombie’s cinematic endeavors – he loves a lot of the same things I love (rock n’ roll, old horror movies, pretty girls, badass character actors, monsters, and mayhem) and he brings a competitive energy and enthusiasm to the horror genre – but his movies have thus far turned out unnecessarily unpleasant, even sadistic, in finished form. (Haven’t seen his Halloween 2, but that goes back to the old cliché about not wanting to put my hand back on the hot stove that burned me once before.)

El Superbeasto, thankfully, plays out differently. It has its excesses – who am I kidding? It’s ALL excess!  But there’s a sense of gleeful anarchy and a swinging swagger that permeates the whole thing and makes it never less than watchable. For me, there were two elements to elevate it:

1)      The voice work by the unconventionally wonderful movie stars Paul Giamatti and Rosario Dawson is unconventionally wonderful. If I didn’t see from the credits that they’d be featured, I might never have guessed. Is there such a thing as Method voice acting? Giamatti and Rosario are completely and unrecognizably committed to their wackadoo characters, and the results are weird and funny, truly superior voice acting.

2)      The movie features several original songs by Hard N’ Phirm, the comedy team of Chris Hardwick and Mike Phirman. The songs are by far the funniest part of the movie – they’re exactly the right tone and vibe and they smartly comment on the action and the more blatantly exploitative parts of the story. It makes certain scenes that might have been creepy to watch hilariously creepy. I’ve seen these guys do their thing before live and they’re great – it was a fun surprise to enjoy their contributions here.

So whatever it says about me, I watched the whole damn thing. I probably wouldn’t watch it again but I’m happy to have watched it once. It’s crazy in its own very specific way and I can respect that. However: If you’re the kind of person who is offended by cartoon boobs or cartoon sex, be forewarned. Stay away. It’s understandable, but you won’t want to see what happens here. As for the rest of you maniacs? Eat, drink, and be merry.

@jonnyabomb

Originally written on October 10th, 2009.

In the realm of faceless people writing about movies from the safety of the internet, I like to think I’m one of the more reasonable you’ll find.  But I could be wrong.  (See?)  It’s a point that’s come up before, but it bears repeating:  Unlike most people who write about movies online, I’ve spent A LOT of time working in all corners of the film and television industries in virtually every position there is.  I know well how hard people work, around the clock, to bring every show to an audience.  I try not to take that hard-earned knowledge lightly.  Besides, I have friends who still work in film and TV, and I’m not even all the way out myself.  I try mighty hard not to put anything on a computer screen that I don’t feel ready to say to someone’s face.  On top of all of that, I grew up with movies.  I love this stuff as much now as I did when I was young — if not more.  It doesn’t make me happy to be unkind.  I’m in this to share my enthusiasm, plain and simple.

All of that said, and try as I might, it’s way harder to find new ways to be nice.  It’s certainly harder to be funny that way.  And sometimes, a movie is put in front of me about which I just can’t find much nice to say and still remain honest.

These are the movies that forced me to be unkind.

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If the new sci-fi horror flick Legion is to be believed, God is a woman.  We get a brief glimpse into Heaven late in the film, and it looks like a Calvin Klein perfume ad, complete with blue-eyed, white-winged angel men who speak in soft British accents.  Not only is that the kind of scene She seems to be into, but God is also as prone to decisions based on rash emotional reactions as any mortal woman can be, only to [spoiler alert!] ultimately change her mind and be willing to make up after the outburst.
See, Legion is about God losing faith in humanity, and sending an army of angels to wipe us off the face of the planet.  You wouldn’t think God could be so flighty as to make such a momentous decision and then take it back, but this isn’t a movie for the literal-minded.  The guy sitting behind me leaned over to his companion and whispered, “God wouldn’t do that,” and I guess he’d know, so if you’re super-religious you may want to skip this movie.  It’s not based in reality.

What it is largely based on, instead, is other movies.  In particular, Legion writer/director Scott Stewart should look out for James Cameron, because they’re both out on the promotional trail right now and Legion borrows very heavily from the Terminator movies (among many, many others).  Dude, if Cameron finds you, you better hope he’s flattered.  When renegade angel Michael touches down in an alleyway, it’s not wrong to expect that he’s a T-800 or T-1000.  He’s not though, as we learn when he hacks off his wings.  (Think those might have come in handy later on, bud?)  Michael is not played by John Travolta, as fans of garbage ‘90s comedies might fairly expect – instead, he’s played by Paul Bettany, who’s always reminded me of Neil Patrick Harris if he loved girls more than showtunes, or the guy from Coldplay if if he loved girls more than showtunes (ha ha!).  Bettany is by far the best thing about the movie; he’s a convincingly unsentimental and competent action lead.

Legion also sports a fairly impressive supporting cast, all of them saddled with thankless roles that are thoroughly standard for the many genres that Legion encapsulates – horror, action, disaster movie, etc.  There’s the spiritually adrift young waitress whose pregnancy may be the key to the whole future of humankind (played by Adrianne Palicki with an accent that disappears during her first scene and only occasionally returns.)  There’s the meek young mechanic (Lucas Black) who loves her without getting any return on that investment, who unsurprisingly will be called on to prove himself before story’s end.  That character’s name is Jeep, which sounds like something Sarah Palin would come up with.  But no, Jeep’s dad is none other than Dennis Quaid, who’s way too good to have to be playing this many stereotypes at the same time – he’s a grouchy diner owner who’s developed a problem with booze after a ruined relationship and a troubled business.  He’s lost his faith: can he regain it in time?  Can I write movie tag lines?

There’s also the God-fearing dishwasher who recognizes the spiritual implications of what’s happened right away – and says he knew it was coming!  If that wasn’t standard enough, this guy even has a hook where his left arm should be.  Did you guess that he’s a black guy?  Of course he is!  Welcome to the Cliché Diner, hope you survive the visit!  This character is played by Charles S. Dutton, another strong actor who I would have thought was beyond roles like this, but I guess since he’s done it a hundred times now, there’s no one better qualified to play them.  Also, because a movie with this much going on can’t have just one black guy to kill off before all the other white characters (spoiler!), Tyrese Gibson is in the movie too.  He plays a mysterious young brother who is involved in a custody battle and who keeps a gun on him at all times.  In a stroke of inspiration, this character is from Vegas, not South Central.  See, don’t think you can predict this movie.

Finally, there’s an uptight family of white people who are stranded at Quaid’s diner in the middle of nowhere because something went wrong with their Mercedes.  These people are played by Jon Tenney (a well-known stage actor who I didn’t even realize was in this movie until I checked IMDB just now to write this article), Kate Walsh (that great-looking red-headed broad from Grey’s Anatomy who I would have thought was too big a TV star to have such a waste of a role in a genre movie), and some girl named Willa Holland as their teenage daughter.  Don’t worry about that character; the screenwriters didn’t.  (It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie character written out of a movie off-screen.)

On the side of the bad guys, there’s Kevin Durand, a great character actor (from Lost, among other things), who is thoroughly wasted as the “evil” angel leading the extermination effort.  Durand deserves better roles, although at least here all he has to deal with are giant wings and a fruity accent – at least they didn’t stick him in an unconvincing fat suit like that abominable Wolverine movie did.  There’s also Doug Jones (Abe Sapien!) as an evil ice cream man, whose evil power is to make his jaw get really, really low, like Jim Carrey in The Mask.  Look out!  It’s Giantjaw!  Don’t let him…. breathe on you, I guess.  (There’s not much to be afraid of here, there’s not a single supernatural heaven-sent villain in this flick who can’t be easily mowed down with tons of bullets.)  There’s also that potty-mouthed old lady from the trailers.  She’s probably the most fun part of the movie, and definitely the first and last point where you feel like the main characters are in danger from anything other than their own clumsiness and stupidity.

Legion plays pretty much how you’d expect, right down to the letter.  The best part is the way that the bad guys attack the diner where the good guys are holed up, and then after being shot at for a while, retreat so that the good guys have enough time to talk amongst themselves.  I’m glad I don’t play drinking games, because if I had to drink every time one character solemnly recounts their backstory to another in over-dramatic exposition… well then I’d be Dennis Quaid’s character.  (Maybe that’s what Quaid was doing on set to keep it fun!)  My single favorite getting-to-know-you moment belongs to Tyrese and it begins like so:  “When I was a shorty…”

I’m hitting Legion pretty hard with the sarcasm hammer, but I actually had a great time watching it.  With a packed theater, it was not at all a waste of time.  The crowd I was with hollered at all the expected moments and at a lot more of the unexpected ones.  It’s always fun when an audience takes a movie in the spirit it deserves, and just goes with it.  (Except for the aforementioned guy who thought the Lord was acting out of character.)  Nobody expected this to be a serious drama with important ideas, nobody expected artistry or poetry, and nobody expected it to even be as good as the movies it awkwardly imitates (Terminator, Terminator 2, Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight).  When faced with such mediocrity, you can either whoop it up or get pissed off, and that second option is better left to JC.  That’s James Cameron, not… you know.

Or maybe I’m just in a good mood because Taimak was in the theater with us at my screening.  You know, Taimak = the man who played Leroy Green, a.k.a. Bruce Leroy, in Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon.  If you’ve been paying occasional attention to anything I’ve said ever, you may have picked up on my overwhelming love for The Last Dragon.  It’s no lost classic but it’s an energetic, entirely unpretentious movie with a good heart and a better soundtrack.  When Legion got too formulaic and predictable to bear, I had a great time trying to imagine what thoughts were running through Taimak’s head as he watched the same movie.  Was he, too, comparing it to the anything-goes bizarre excellence of The Last Dragon?  Was he, too, imagining how he would play the Bettany role, or even imagining how the movie would be improved by the literal return of Bruce Leroy?  (It sure couldn’t have hurt!)  Was he, too, wondering how Bruce Leroy would fare in battle against the armies of Heaven?

A far, far better movie Legion could have been were it to have answered any of those questions.  For me, anyway.

Get right with me on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb

TV Trailer: MRS. EASTWOOD & COMPANY.

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Clint, Hell., TV

I’m going to work really hard not to leaven this posting with my own typically arch commentary, since most days it feels like this website is a Clint Eastwood fan blog and that’s not an accusation I work too hard to dispel.  I can’t NOT address that this thing is happening, but I’m going to be as respectful as possible since it should be clear to all casual readers that I am a massive admirer of the film career of Clint Eastwood, one of the greatest movie stars ever, definitely the greatest actor-turned-director ever, and an unquestioned living legend.  I have no interest in talking smack about one of my lifelong creative heroes or any of his family members.  But they’ve been busy recently.

Clint’s wife and some of his children will be appearing on a reality show on E! Entertainment Television, the channel that brings us Keeping Up With The Kardashians and all of its spin-offs.  The Eastwood show is called Mrs. Eastwood & Company, and while it promises to have brief appearances from the man himself, the main focus on the show is said to be on two of the Eastwood daughters and their personal lives, and then also on the South African boy band (!) that Mrs. Eastwood manages.

Here’s the ultra-brief promo that E! has been running:

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This article breaks down that promo in some detail.  (I also cut-and-pasted the official press release at the bottom of ths post.)  It helps to make this enterprise a whole lot more understandable…

Daughters want some spotlight.

The Mrs. wants to get her musical group out there.

Dad has a bit of fame to spare.

All of this is leading toward a truth I hold to be self-evident:

Women can be pretty persuasive, even if you’re Clint Goddamn Eastwood.

I was curious about what “Overtone” might sound like, so I looked them up on YouTube:

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Can you imagine what poor Clint thinks about while he has to listen to that, politely gritting his teeth into a faint smile?

Find me on Twitter: @jonnyabomb

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[via press release from E!] E! ANNOUNCES NEW SERIES “MRS. EASTWOOD & COMPANY” TO DEBUT MAY 2010 Episode Half-Hour Series Takes Viewers Inside The Fascinating World Of The Eastwood FamilyLos Angeles, CA, March 13, 2012 – Chronicling the lives of Dina Eastwood, the wife of Oscar-winning film legend Clint Eastwood, and their daughters Francesca (18) and Morgan (15), and the all-male six member vocal group from South Africa managed by Dina, “Overtone,” “Mrs. Eastwood & Company” is an unprecedented look at the surprisingly normal extended and blended family behind one of Hollywood’s most iconic superstars. This series invites viewers to witness their lives and proves that familial bonds are shaped by more than DNA. Developed by Executive Producer Jeff Jenkins for Bunim-Murray Productions, the series follows Dina, Francesca, Morgan, the six members of “Overtone,” and those intimately involved in their world, wherever their lives may take them, from their hometown of Carmel, CA to Los Angeles and beyond. “Mrs. Eastwood & Company” premieres Sunday, May 20 only on E!”Nothing is more important to me than family – no matter how you define that,” said Dina Eastwood. “People might be surprised by how we live our lives and our unconventional approach, and I also believe that it’s hard not to fall in love with my band, ‘Overtone.'””I’m really proud of my family,” adds Clint Eastwood. “They are a constant source of inspiration and entertainment.”

“‘Mrs. Eastwood & Company’ offers an exceptional look at a rarely seen side of pop culture and we’re thrilled to bring this wonderful family to our viewers,” said Lisa Berger, President, Entertainment Programming, E! “This refreshing group delivers on the network’s promise to present fascinating personalities who have compelling stories and unique points of view.”

MEET THE FAMILY

A California native, Dina is a former news anchor who, in 1993, was assigned an interview with Clint Eastwood. She certainly got more than she bargained for as the reporter and the actor/director married three years later. Beautiful and boho-chic, she is a constant fixture in her daughters’ daily lives and works to create as harmonious a home as possible. That’s not to say that the exuberant brunette doesn’t have a hobby: in fact, she has SIX. While in South Africa with Clint three years ago, Dina discovered a six-man vocal group who call themselves “Overtone.” Moved by their talent and star-potential, she re-located all six young musical men to Carmel, CA and has been acting as their mentor, mother and manager ever since.

Opinionated and artistic, Francesca Eastwood is the daughter of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fisher, though she also calls Dina “mom.” A bit of a ‘free spirit,’ Francesca is in a serious relationship with her 29-year old boyfriend, famed photographer Tyler Shields. She is his muse, he is her passion. Deeply in love, the couple has been together since 2011 and as a result, Francesca’s world and her relationships are changing.

High-school student Morgan Eastwood is compassionate with a heart of gold. She loves her mother very much, but is at that age where mothers and daughters don’t always see eye to eye and she is constantly surrounded by her group of close friends. Occasionally embarrassed by Dina’s behavior, Morgan is experiencing watershed moments of her adolescence from learning how to drive to finding her own voice. Watching Francesca become an adult and being surrounded by the older boys in “Overtone,” Morgan is now on the brink of womanhood.

Comprised of six sexy young men – Emile Welman, Eduard Leonard, Tino Ponsonby, Ernie Bates, Riaan Weyers and Shane Smith – “Overtone” is one of the most popular acts in South Africa and has performed with A-list musicians such as Corinne Bailey Rae and One Republic. Emile is tall, dark and handsome and is the front-man of the group. He and Francesca have a distant history of flirtation…though no one knows the real story. Tino is recently engaged and his charismatic, yet ornery, behavior sometimes causes tension within the group; Eduard is the heart and soul of the group, sweet and sensitive; Ernie can play almost any instrument and has been making music since childhood; Riaan is the “animal-whisperer” of the group – he can woo almost any creature- four legged or two legged and Shane is the crew’s self-described “ladies man.”

Dina Eastwood and Bunim/Murray Productions’ Jonathan Murray, Gil Goldschein, Jeff Jenkins and Russell Jay serve as Executive Producers.

The new E! series “Mrs. Eastwood & Company” premieres May 20 on E!

About E! Entertainment

E! is television’s top destination for all things entertainment and celebrity. E! is currently available to 98 million cable and satellite subscribers in the U.S. and the E! Everywhere initiative underscores the company’s dedication to making E! content available on all new media platforms any time and anywhere from online to broadband video to wireless to VOD. Popular programming includes E! core franchises, “E! News,” “The Soup,” “Chelsea Lately,” “Fashion Police” and “True Hollywood Story,” as well as the network’s hit series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Khloé & Lamar,” “Kourtney and Kim Take New York,” “Ice Loves Coco” and “Kendra.” Additionally, E!’s “Live from the Red Carpet” signature events keep fans connected to their favorite stars on Hollywood’s biggest nights. E! is a network of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.

About Bunim/Murray Productions

Bunim/Murray Productions is the leading producer of innovative entertainment content. The Emmy Award-winning company is widely credited with creating the reality television genre with its hit series The Real World (25 seasons for MTV). Bunim/Murray continued to innovate with the first reality game show, Road Rules (MTV), in 1995; the first reality sitcom, The Simple Life (E!), in 2003; and the first reality soap opera, Starting Over, in 2003. Bunim/Murray’s current programming includes The BadGirls Club, Love Games and the upcoming Best Ink (Oxygen), Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kourtney & Kim Take New York and Khloe & Lamar (E!), The Real World and The Challenge (MTV) and Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars (Lifetime). Bunim/Murray Productions has launched additional entities including M Theory Entertainment, BMP Films and M Music. BMP Filmsproduced Pedro (MTV) and the Emmy Award-winning Autism: The Musical (HBO). Based in Van Nuys, CA, Bunim/Murray Productions was founded in 1987 by Jonathan Murray and the late Mary-Ellis Bunim. The company joined Banijay Group in 2010.

Read more at http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2012/03/13/e-announces-new-series-mrs-eastwood-and-company-to-debut-may-20-441212/20120313e01/#G02CDuV4xSc4XgDf.99

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For a very long time, Carrie has been a noticeable empty spot on the list of major horror movies I’ve seen.  There’s actually a pretty good reason for it:  Carrie is so entrenched in pop culture by now that it’s one of those movies that everybody knows, with or without seeing it.  If you’re a horror fan, there’s a chance you may not know it as Stephen King’s first novel, but you’d know it as Brian DePalma’s breakthrough mainstream film.  If you don’t know it as Sissy Spacek’s star-making role, you know it as John Travolta’s first major movie role.  If you don’t know about the whole telekinesis aspect, you’ve probably heard about the prom and the pig’s blood.  You don’t need to know who Piper Laurie is to have heard Adam Sandler’s impression of her classic line from Carrie, “They’re all going to laugh at you!

In short, there aren’t a lot of people who know about movies but aren’t very familiar with this image:

At this point, it can be fairly called iconic.  It’s the climax of the movie, yet there’s no book, documentary, magazine article about horror movies that seems to have neglected revealing this image.  In a way, that’s a dick move — being shown this image kind of ruins a major moment of the movie for those who haven’t seen it.  If you know the scene pictured above is coming, you can’t help but wait for it.  But the spoiler is understandable too — I mean, what better single image encapsulates the history, politics, sexuality, conflict, the impact of the entire horror genre than a pretty girl covered in blood standing in the middle of a blazing inferno?

As I’ve been immersing myself in horror movies this month, I decided it was time to start filling in those gaps, or at least to finally see this movie.  Once I did, I realized that there were still some surprises left on the picked-over craft services table that has been the critical acclaim and endless popular referencing which surrounds Carrie.  And I realized how I had some misconceptions that were ripe to be disproved.  Here are some:

The movie Carrie is about the character of Carrie.

Well, it is, obviously, but also it kind of isn’t.  The story follows Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a high school girl raised by an insanely religious mother (Piper Laurie).  Carrie is tormented at school by a group of popular girls, ranging from Sue Snell, the nicest (Amy Irving) to Chris Hargesen, the meanest (Nancy Allen), with PJ Soles from Halloween and Stripes falling somewhere in between on the meanness scale.  When Carrie experiences the first blushes of puberty, it coincides with a growing and dangerous telekinetic ability.  Noticing how Carrie is having such a hard time, Sue Snell takes pity on Carrie and has her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) invite Carrie to the senior prom.  Unwilling to let this go off without a hitch, Chris Hargesen and her own boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) plot the world’s goriest practical joke.

The movie begins in a strange way, if we’re meant to align our sympathies with Carrie.  It starts in gym class, where Carrie has yet again embarassed herself in the eyes of the other girls during volleyball practice.  Which is standard enough high school stuff, but then that credit sequence happens.

It’s a slow-motion pan through a fogged-up locker room, with Pino Donaggio’s orchestral score playing up the romance of what in other movies would be pretty damn gratuitous, as we see all the pretty girls in the class frolicking with each other, some wrapped in towels, some not at all.  It’s a partial lesson in 1970s grooming practices, is what it is.  I dug up Pauline Kael’s review, where she complimented DePalma for blending “old-movie trash and soft-core pornos to provide ‘heart’ for a thriller.”  That’s definitely true, although the effect of all this youthful beauty is that, by the time the camera arrives at Carrie’s corner of the showers, she seems like all the more of an outcast.  Carrie is alone, huddled in the shower, hands between her legs.  Having seen Prime Cut, I can vouch for the fact that a young, unclothed Sissy Spacek is not at all an off-putting thing, but in Carrie it becomes the first creepy image of the movie — having everything to do with how Carrie sees herself and how the other girls see her.  Carrie is terrified to find blood between her legs (that first blush of puberty), and runs towards the other girls, begging them to help her.  This makes Carrie an outcast not only to her schoolmates, but to the viewer as well!  I can’t speak to how a female audience would interpret this scene, but I think I understand how a male audience is supposed to see it — she killed our buzz.  We were enjoying all that softcore, and then this one weird girl had to go freak out and end the scene.  The first time I saw Carrie, I didn’t get why DePalma would start the movie this way, but now that I think about it, it makes sense.  This is one way to estrange the audience from Carrie, who in any other high school movie would have our sympathies for the volleyball scene alone.  With the locker room scene, we’re told right from the start that there’s something not right with Carrie.

Which explains why, for a movie with her name in the title, Carrie isn’t exactly the point-of-view character.  We care about her, because she’s played by Sissy Spacek, but we’re also creeped out by her, because nearly everyone else in the movie is, including herself.  The story frequently shifts between its principal characters; in other words, Carrie’s not in every scene.  Certainly, the most memorable scenes are the ones in which she does appear, but the script by Lawrence Cohen (based on King’s novel but making digressions with DePalma’s input) has several scenes depicting the actions and conversations of the other characters, most of whom are talking about or plotting against Carrie.

So yes, we do get all the scenes of Carrie being terrorized by her mother (“They’re all going to laugh at you!”) and demonstrating her emerging psychic powers, but we also get scenes that are entirely carried by the rest of the cast, whether it be Sue Snell persuading Tommy Ross to cut Carrie a break and escort her to the prom, or Chris Hargesen and Billy Nolan scheming to ruin it.  Which brings me to my next preconception/misconception…

Travolta is in this movie.

Everybody’s favorite Scientologist is part of it, but not as much as I was led to believe.  He’s definitely in there, but really just serves as Chris Hargesen’s ridiculously-coiffed henchman.  DePalma eventually got great leading man work out of Travolta, in Blow Out, but this was Travolta’s first major movie role, where he’s cast as the pretty boy, actions playing against looks as he takes part in some cruel business.  I was surprised to see that the way Chris and Billy get that pig’s blood is to actually slaughter a pig.  Kind of unexpectedly awful.  Like this hairdo.

Speaking of which, why did no one warn me about what’s going on on top of this dude’s head?

And he’s this movie’s notion of a dreamboat.  No wonder it’s classified as a horror movie.

One more misconception:

Nancy Allen is not a total babe.

This is incorrect.

I’m most familiar with her from Out Of Sight, where she’s portrayed as middle-aged, and Robocop, where she’s dressed this way:

Here’s Nancy Allen in Carrie:

Glad we cleared that one up.

But let’s get back to the horror movie talk.  Here’s something about Carrie which a lot of people seem to think, but I was surprised to find untrue after my first viewing:

The movie is scary.

Not really.  It’s a lot of great things, but scary it is not — to me, anyway.  Maybe that has something to do with the impact of the prom scene being lessened by its familiarity, as I discussed earlier, or maybe it’s because every time Carrie uses her telekinesis, the highly-recognizable violin shrieks from Bernard Herrmann’s score to Psycho play briefly, constantly reminding the viewer [me, at least] that it’s only a movie.  There’s one great jump-scare that I have no intention of ruining, but that ties into another misconception I had about the movie.

The prom scene is the end of Carrie.

It isn’t.  It’s the climax.  There’s a denouement.  Meaning: Other important things happen, even after Carrie burns down her senior prom.  The prom scene is probably remembered as the culmination of the movie because it’s the big extended setpiece, and the moment of collision of all the most disturbing aspects of the movie.  In his recently published (and highly recommended) book Shock Value, Jason Zinoman writes of the moral ambiguity that makes Carrie’s revenge so unsettling.  She doesn’t just wipe out her tormentors  — in fact, Chris Hargesen and Billy Nolan aren’t even in the gym when it burns down — but she actually wipes out scores of innocents, all those faces in the background we never met, along with teachers such as Mr. Fromm (the likable Sydney Lassick from Alligator and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) and Ms. Collins (Betty Buckley), the one teacher who tried hardest to defend Carrie.  Carrie’s vengeance is not righteous.  In fact, her vengeance against Chris and Billy, which is the vengeance we would have most wanted to see, is far more impersonal than what she does in the prom scene.

This is why that prom scene is so indelible.  This is what is so unsettling about the movie.  It’s set up as a conventional story of a high school outsider who has her moment and triumphs over her bullies, but as the audience we never quite root for her the way we should, and her ultimate revenge is way more horrible than we ever wanted.  Carrie isn’t as much viscerally terrifying, spooky or eerie, as it is psychologically unsettling, maddening and unforgettable.  I’d say it more than warrants the high regard which surrounds it.  It’s a classic.

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Can’t lie to whichever readers I do have:  So far 2011 has been a snarling beast, intent on demolishing me and mine.  I’ve been working on and dealing with too many other things, both clerical and creative, so recently I’ve been watching far fewer movies than usual, and writing about them even less.  Been gearing up to put together a bunch of new movie-related columns for 2011, but while those are still baking, I’d like to start archiving some of my better stuff from the past here on Demon’s Resume

What I’m about to post is the first column I ever submitted to CHUD.com, under the heading of Slow-Motion Quick-Draw.  Why’d I call it that?  I liked the ring, mostly.  Figured I’d be writing about Westerns a lot, so I wanted a title that reflected that interest.  Also figured I’d be taking a more measured and cross-reference-laden approach to writing about movies, which I don’t see so often on the internet, so there was some statement of thematic intent there too.  I’m not sure how much Slow-Motion Quick-Draw you’ll be seeing specifically from now on, since I seemed to very quickly veer away from what in retrospect was to me the more interesting approach seen below, in favor of more straight-forward (if still esoteric) movie reviews.  Everybody and their grand-uncle has movie reviews online these days, and it seems to me (if few others) that I tend to have more arrows in the quiver than most people and their grand-uncles do.  I’d like to get back to a more idiosyncratic internet carbon-footprint.  So I’ll probably be starting some new columns with some new names.  That’s the word.

Anyway, for now, enjoy one of the better pieces I’ve written, on one of my favorite movies ever (and probably yours too), now with the video attached at the bottom, courtesy of some like-minded dude on YouTube…

SLOW-MOTION QUICK-DRAW – #1 THE BEST ONE MINUTE AND TWENTY-SEVEN SECONDS IN ALL OF CINEMA

By Jon Abrams · 06.06.2008 · Blogs

What’s up internet?  My name’s Jon Abrams and for now my blog is called Slow-Motion Quick-Draw.  Let’s save the extended introduction and get right to talking movies.  That’s really the best way for you and I to decide if we’re going to get along. 

For my first blog entry on CHUD.com I will cover The Best One Minute and Twenty-Seven Seconds In All Of Cinema.  Maybe some will paint that label as a slight exaggeration, but I figure it’s harder for the scholars to argue the point when the numbers are that specific.  Besides, I had to get your attention somehow.

Let’s do this thing!

GHOSTBUSTERS, Columbia Pictures, 1984.

Directed & Produced by Ivan Reitman.

Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis.

Director of Photography, Lazlo Kovacs, A.S.C.

Music by Elmer Bernstein.

Ray: Dan Aykroyd 

Winston: Ernie Hudson

EXT. CAR – NIGHT

Nighttime.  A Carpenter-esque synth score plays as the Ghostbusters car drives over the Brooklyn Bridge, lights flashing.  Manhattan Island is the backdrop.

WINSTON (O.S.)

Hey Ray — you believe in God?

RAY (O.S.)

Never met him.

INT. CAR – NIGHT

Ray is reading floor plans.  Winston is driving, cigarette in hand.

WINSTON

Yeah well I do.  And I love Jesus’s style, you know.

RAY

This roof cap is made of a magnesium-tungsten alloy.

WINSTON

What’re you so involved with there?

RAY

These are the blueprints for the structural ironwork in Dana Barrett’s apartment building, and they’re very, very strange.

WINSTON

Hey Ray — do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?

RAY

I remember Revelations 7:12…  “And I looked, as he opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake.  And the sun became as black as sack-cloth.  And the moon became as blood.”

WINSTON

“And the seas boiled, and the skies fell.”

RAY

Judgement day.

WINSTON

Judgement day.

Eerie Elmer Bernstein score kicks in.

RAY

Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world.

WINSTON

Myth?!?  Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we’ve been so busy lately is because the dead HAVE been rising from the grave?

Ray absorbs that idea, looks at Winston, sighs apocalyptically:

RAY

How about a little music?

Winston takes a drag as Ray reaches for the radio.

WINSTON

Yeah.

CUT TO:

EXT. CAR – DAWN

Corniest post-disco, sub-Rick-James music cue of the entire film.  Day is now breaking.  It‘s tough for the post-9-11 viewer not to notice the Twin Towers in the background skyline.

By the age of 14 I was probably already qualified to write a dissertation on this movie, for love of how many times I’ve seen it.  I’m sure I’m far from the only one.  But I’m just talking here about this one scene, in many ways the fulcrum of the movie.  It is so brief that it barely registers, but it does register, consciously or not, enough to matter in the grand scheme.  It effectively moves us from what has gone before and prepares us for an ending where we, the audience, believe as much as the characters do that a giant marshmallow man is really stomping through New York City church rooftops.  By then that particular onslaught is not just funny, it’s almost scary. 

That happens due to the methodical way that Ivan Reitman as director, and Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis as writers and as their respective characters, parcel out information that informs and prepares us for the next otherwise implausible occurrence.  It’s primarily Bill Murray’s job to maintain the comedy throughout, which he absolutely does.  But you already knew that.

So, this “Judgement day” scene does a couple great things.

It’s the one and only scene with absolutely no laughs in a movie that is completely full of them.

It adds a depth and a mythology to a movie that too many people consider a toss-off insubstantial comedy.  I love Caddyshack, Stripes, Trading Places, Fletch (etc.), more than most movies ever, but none of those movies have that extra mythical weight that Ghostbusters does.  This here is a dramatic scene.  Nothing funny about it – a purely dramatic scene.  That makes it unique in this entire movie.  This scene sets the stakes, which go beyond life and death for the main characters and are about nothing less than the fate of the world entirely.  Ambitious much?

It also offers an appreciation for the underrated Ernie Hudson.   The word has always been that this role was earmarked by Aykroyd for Eddie Murphy.  While Eddie Murphy is, for me, second only to Bill Murray in the great pantheon of film comedy, I still feel glad that Hudson got this role.  As far as I’m concerned, Eddie Murphy could and still can do anything he sets his talent to, even drama (he was stellar in Dreamgirls).  But no, he couldn’t have pulled this scene off at that stage of his career, not in 1983, not [blasphemy] as effectively as Ernie Hudson did.  I say this not to compare the two, just to show how much I appreciate the one by invoking my love of the other.  Ernie Hudson is the 6th or 7th funniest person in Ghostbusters at best, but he brings a touch of realness to it that I think the movie needs in order to work as well as it does. 

Dan Aykroyd’s no slouch as an actor either, in my opinion.  And also in the opinion of the 1990 Academy Awards, who so adored him as “Boolie” in Driving Miss Daisy.  I just felt like typing the word “Boolie” just there.  “Boolie.”  Okay I’m good. 

In general, throughout the running time of Ghostbusters (with the exception of the ghost BJ scene, which simply does not belong), Aykroyd is invaluable.  He’s a real team player and lets Bill Murray and Harold Ramis take most of the major laughs.  This was at the height of Aykroyd’s popularity and dominance too – people forget what a huge star he was.  Not only that, but he’s the only one of the three leads who could have pulled this scene off believably in the scope of their characters.  Murray would have come off too arch, and Ramis would have come off too cartoony.  Aykroyd is just so obviously invested in the moment that it plays beautifully. 

Praising Dan Aykroyd is no hipper to do now than when I did it as an undergraduate chimp sitting amongst serious students of Renoir and Brakhage, but how can you not be warm on the guy.  I love the fact that in real life Dan Aykroyd seems to thoroughly believe in this exact kind of stuff.  I love the fact that he does all this research for his movies and absolutely nobody who laughs at the funny parts, a.k.a. everybody else, ever notices.  I love all the insane names he comes up with.  The technical jargon, the ancient pseudo-history, the monologues – all that is Aykroyd.  And I love how Ramis as a writer and Reitman as a director ably work with all that raw material, and are able to ground it in believability and relatability. 

What a classic.

Anyway that’s it for today.  If you enjoyed any part of this monster, then please hang in.  I’m just getting started…