Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flick Pick: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises
(Warner Bros., 2012)

Final (?) installment in the Dark Knight trilogy, yet another billion-dollar gross, with almost all the old characters back, and the addition of the always lovely Anne Hathaway, as a cat burglar in skintight pleather(! - you had me at Anne Hathaway), trying to go straight and tripping over Bruce Wayne/Batman. Everyone claims total agnosticism about how all that pro-conservative anti-Occupy messaging got in these movies; yeah, it's a mystery to us too, esp. given how right-wing friendly Hollywood has been for the last 40 years. (Not!) But evidently if you sneak it in with orcs, wizards, or superheroes, it's okay with them, since they always turn out to be 10-figure earning pictures. Almost as if the audience, millions of them, likes movies where the hero is a good guy, and wins. Don't tell the studios, it'll just be our little secret.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flick Pick: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
(Warner Bros., 2008)

Second of Christopher Nolan's eventual trilogy of Dark Knight Batman films, better and bigger than the first, becoming a billion-dollar movie when all was said and done, and featuring Heath Ledger as the Joker in the role that killed him. But he got an Oscar anyway, so it wasn't a total loss, and for a two-fer there'll be no Brokeback Mountain II.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Flick Pick: Batman Begins

Batman Begins
(Warner Bros., 2005)

Christopher Nolan's successful iteration of the long-suffering Batman franchise, marking a decided turn for the better, and finally featuring the hero instead of the villains as the centerpiece of the story. A star-studded cast delights, and the bulk of the shots being live action rather than CGI satisfies the eye. It only took Hollywood a few decades to re-discover that crime shouldn't pay to reignite this series, and set it on the path to cinematic greatness.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why The Monkeys Rage

Low Information Jackholes: case in point
Anonymous Jim Klein said...
You're hopeless on the big issue until you offer a full retraction, but maybe you'll share with your readers a more accurate rendition of the legal aspects of the land.

Ever hear of the Statute of Frauds? It's more than 300 years old. Because of that, we KNOW that Bundy was not a tenant as you wrote. You cannot produce a clear document spelling out that tenancy; therefore according to Law, it does not exist.

With regard to the title of the physical land, it belongs to either the US or Nevada. I don't know and it doesn't matter. Bundy had an estate in the grazing rights superior to either. How do we know this? Because nobody had claimed those rights prior to his ancestors and nobody made a timely claim that those rights are anyone's but his.

This is what it MEANS to create an estate in something; it's what property IS. Absent a State statute to the contrary, an estate is created just like takes something without value and creates something of value. The created value is the creator's property. The fact that there is no specific statute addressing estates in grazing rights, doesn't mean that they can't exist. That would be like saying computers don't exist because the government never explicitly granted their existence. And in the case at hand, no statute to the contrary exists.

So the grazing rights WERE his and his family's all along. Now that may render the charging of fees and so forth an illegal taking in the first place, but that's a rather separate issue.

In fairness, if the fed offered value as compensation for the SPECIFIC taking of those grazing rights, then at least they'd be in accordance with the Fifth Amendment, with the question of whether or not that compensation was "just," a matter for civil procedures. I don't know and I doubt you do either, and the compensation would have to CLEARLY note that the money was compensation for the exact property of the grazing rights in the land. Otherwise, the Statute of Frauds applies and the compensation was for something else.

And even if every single element of the Law were against him--which they're not, since they're for him--it still wouldn't justify strafing and napalming. I'll let you figure out why, and maybe that two minutes of thinking will motivate you to do the right thing, and fully retract.
April 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Sorry Jim, but the big issue IS the legal aspects of the land.

That is what makes Bundy a thief, in the same aspect the difference between teller and bank robber is which end of the gun you're standing on.

The land is where Bundy was never more than a tenant, having leased the land in question for grazing without a peep for decades himself, exactly as his father did beginning in 1954, long after that land first belonged to the U.S. government, up through 1992. One pays for that which is not his, and Bundy and his ancestors paid for federal leases on land they never purchased outright, because they never even lived there before 1948, and the BLM had jurisdiction over it since 1946. Whoops.

They did this under the auspices of the Bureau of Land Management in 1946, successor to the US Grazing Service in 1939, which arose out of the General Land Office going back to 1812, 36 years before the land in question was acquired by the United States Government. So clearly, the value of the land and the rights to graze on it were not valueless, and seen as having value by the US government some great number of decades before Bundy was in the picture, in fact before he was even born. Looking no farther than Wikipedia:
The Bundy family purchased their farm outside of Bunkerville in 1948; the farm would serve as headquarters and base property for their ranching operation, which began in 1954, on federal land. They had moved to the area from Bundyville, Arizona (near Mount Trumbull). Cliven Bundy's father, David Bundy, was born in Bundyville in 1922.[90] David Bundy had married Margaret Bodel Jensen of Bunkerville, and after starting a family in Arizona, they purchased their property outside of Bunkerville in 1948.[44]
Cliven had argued in court that his "Mormon ancestors began working the land in the 1880s".[91][92] This argument has basis in Cliven's maternal grandmother's ancestral line, but not among his paternal or other maternal lines. Cliven's mother's father, John Jensen, was born in Utah, but her mother, Abigail Christina Abbott, was born in the Bunkerville/Mesquite area. Abigail Christina Abbott's parents, both born in Utah, were among early settlers of Bunkerville/Mesquite in the 1880s; this includes lines from the Leavitt and Abbott families. These early families moved in and out of the area on several occasions, and polygamous marriages meant some wives and their families were kept in different towns. As such, there is no continuous line of family births and habitation in Bunkerville/Mesquite from Cliven Bundy to the few ancestors who settled the area.[44]

In 1993, he ceased paying to renew his grazing lease, but without removing his cattle, making him a trespasser. He continued to do so, and admitted all of this in sworn depositions, despite losing two cases in federal district court in Las Vegas, under the insane contention that somehow a non-existant Nevada had title to lands that belonged to the federal government in perpetuity since Mexico signed it over in the Treaty Of Hidalgo in 1848. The Territory of Utah was formed shortly afterwards, and the Territory of Nevada  was formed out of that some years later. QED.

Now, did you want to actually talk about the land's history of ownership or were you just making chitchat?

Since you admit to agnosticism on this point, perhaps you should spend the four seconds it would take to look it up, since repeating seventh grade social studies, this time with a passing grade, is probably too much to ask. It's all readily available facts in the public domain.

The thing about creating an estate is that you actually have to have the title to the property in question. Bundy has nothing but chutzpah; the feds repeatedly demonstrated his claims to be nothing but tinfoil-hattery, and lacking any substance or standing, he lost both cases in about as long as they took the clerk of the court to type them up.

Notably, he had no problem paying the money for leases until 1993, when the owners of the land, the federal government, changed the conditions under which they would allow him to use it. The nerve of the actual owners trying to tell lessees what they may and may not do on property they don't own, and never have! Because they didn't tell him what he could do on his ranch, they told what he couldn't do on their land, and that was when Bundy decided to stop renewing his lease. This isn't government expansion, it's mere stinginess on Bundy's part that they were squeezing off the government teat he and his family have sucked on since at least 1954. Boo frickin' hoo.

Had you the wit to have read the ruling, the second case further demonstrated that Bundy's herd had now grown and spread out over not only the lands he ceased to lease, but onto new trespass lands upon which he'd never grazed, because he'd never leased them, nor had his family, ever, period.

This is all public record, so you're either illiterate, lazy, or deliberately being stupid. I could give odds upon which is most likely...

As for all that, you're right, it wouldn't legally justify strafing and napalming him.
Fortunately, I never argued that it did.

I also didn't argue that the multiple criminal counts against him including taking up arms in opposition to court orders would justify it in law either.

But that's what makes dealing with people like you so much fun. You don't read, you spew.
I did type that "in my humble opinion" the feds would be so justified, but you can't discern a private opinion from force of law, as evidenced by your own ramblings against common sense contrary to the law, which correspond exactly to Bundy's.

But the reality is, the feds are neither going to strafe Bundy's herd nor napalm his home with him in it. More's the pity.

But what they are likely to do is thrown a net over him in the very near future, so that he can continue his lunatic cries from somewhere inside a deep dark federal hole, while they round up his cows and sell them for Big Macs. And if he decides the lemon is worth the squeeze, he'll get killed resisting. Just like Dillinger, or Bonnie and Clyde. If not, he'll die broke and in prison. And either way, they'll probably seize the small ranch and whatever other real and personal property he does actually own, and then credit his bill against a generous fair market price, removing him and his heirs from that land in perpetuity.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

And during Round Two, I hope they similarly apprehend anyone who shows up to help him obstruct justice, and if they offer resistance, I hope they kill them too - mainly to save court costs and time.
You and the Lunatic Fringe can't tell the difference between thieving lunatics, and people with actual grievances and a legal leg to stand on. So when one of the latter comes along, other people won't be able to tell the difference between principled resistance to actual government tyranny, and a mob. People like you are the reason John Adams defended the British troops involved in the Boston Massacre, and got them acquitted.

"Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." - John Adams, 1770 Boston Massacre trial 
You're arguing against reality. Good luck with that tack.

And as you aren't even putting your ass on the line in the desert, you aren't even willing to back up your lunatic assertions with any risk to your own skin.

THAT is why I wish the feds would napalm Bundy and strafe his herd, because cases like this give idiot anarchists an excuse to agitate for a war. And we need more of that like we need a dose of the clap. It's the lunacy of Timothy McVeigh, except without even the semblance of personal commitment.

Like most of your ilk, you're content to chivvy others onwards, in this case a senile old thief, and the Headless Chicken Posse, but without having the personal honor to back it up with anything but your own desire to foment a riot.

There's a word for people like that, it rhymes with "Howard".

Some people have feds pointing guns at them because they're just terminal fuckwits.
That's Bundy to a "t". One doesn't suck at the federal teat every day of their life, and then have a coincidental epiphany on Big Government when the feds change the deal. Bundy's just a crook upset at his slice of the loot.

Call back when you find someone who isn't a multi-decade thief from the taxpayers, to the tune of millions of dollars, before you prop another lunatic up as some imaginary folk hero of the would-be revolution. And recognize that not everything the government does is absolutely evil, and not everyone who opposes them is worthy of even moral support, let alone fifteen minutes of notoriety.

Until then, you should probably get back under your bridge, before the feds drop a house on you.
Or at least stay where your sophistry passes for brilliance.

But hey, thanks for helping make my point about people who spew without knowing what they're talking about.

I'm sure the administration minions are really broken up about getting the 147 active members of the Lunatard Army frothing to support a crook like Bundy, and marginalizing and parodying themselves, for anyone with a brain, and all the world to watch. You're doing their job for them too.

Maybe spend your Sunday catching up on old news, cupcake.
And have a nice day.

Flick Pick: Gotcha!

(Universal, 1985)

Between Revenge Of The Nerds and Top Gun, Anthony Edwards appeared with Linda Fiorentino in this perfect little 80s spy drama as a college student smuggling "spy shit" out of East Germany. Funny and exciting, this little gem is perfect entertainment for a weekend afternoon. You also get to re-visit a time in no-sh*t America, when normal college students actually played games on real campuses with toy guns, and ZOMG, no one died or had a hissy fit. It was all the rage, seriously. And this is also one of the few movies that show Edwards back when he had hair. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Flick Pick: The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven
(United Artists, 1960)

As a western re-envisioning of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (which was itself Kurosawa's take on John Ford's westerns), John Sturges' gunslinging classic was mostly panned by critics at the time, and barely broke even at the box office, owing mostly to foreign ticket sales, because it was pulled by UA after only a week. But with time it has become one of the most revered classics of the western genre, aided by the later rising fortunes of almost all of the stars, an all-time epic Elmer Bernstein score, Eli Wallach's over-the-top portrayal of the villain, and by deservedly becoming the second most-played movie on TV in the last 50 years, after only The Wizard Of Oz.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flick Pick: The Electric Horseman

The Electric Horseman
(Columbia, 1979)

Modern day western adventure starring Robert Redford, and in one of her few personally  tolerable performances, Jane Fonda. The last for not least of which because she spends most of the movie as exactly the journalistic rabble-rousing airhead she was in real life for most of her life, and she self-parodies well. The film is consistenly engaging, marking the fifth of seven times veteran director Sydney Pollack teamed to direct Redford, almost invariably to excellence, and also marks a debut for Willie Nelson, who provides five songs to Dave Grusin's score, and the second film appearance of an older newcomer named Wilford Brimley. It's beautifully shot across  the wilderness areas of Nevada and Utah, as well as on the Vegas Strip, all biographically familiar to Redford.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Low Information Jackholes

Media pundits have lovingly trotted out the evidence that the lunatic Left is populated by room-temperature IQ retards who spout party-line rhetoric with knee-jerk predictability like good little brainwashed communists.

Okay, of course they do, well-played.

Now comes the tale of a lying thieving insaniac multi-millionaire, and the mirror is pointed the other way.

I refer to one Cliven Bundy.

For those who haven't paid much attention (and that would be 85-95%, based purely on direct interactions) Cliven Bundy is not Robin Hood, he's a robbing hood.

To set the scene, Bundy's family has owned a ranch in Bumfuck, Nevada, since the 1870s .
UPDATE: Since 1948. As Casey Stengel said, you could look it up.
Note that approximate date, you'll see this information again. They also paid the federal government for cattle grazing leases on adjoining federal land they never owned outright. This will become important too.

The farm passed from Bundy's father, to Cliven Bundy, somewhere about the 1970s. Who continued to pay the federal government for those adjoining annual leases, until 1993. Because at that point, the feds, via the BLM and EPA, had determined that in order to protect a tortoise, they needed to limit the number of cows that could be grazed on the federal lands in the area, to include the specific lease that had been renewed with the federal government every year for about twenty years before that point by rancher Bundy.

Ignoring the fact that he didn't own the land, he was just a tenant, he claims that the feds' decision to set terms of use on their land violated his rights to do whatever in hell he wanted, because evidently the tinfoil under his cowboy hat was too tight.

After several years of non-payment of his traditional lease, by 1998 the feds noticed his cows were grazing on federal lands, without their owner having any right to be there whatsoever. Doubtless after several lesser enforcement actions, like a visit, then a letter or twelve, they did what federal agencies do: filed suit in federal court seeking judgement to tell him to GTFO. Surprising no one with a brain, Bundy lost.

His entire argument was that the feds didn't own the land, but the court noted the finding of fact that the land in question had been ceded from Mexico to the United States (nota bene, not to the Territory of Utah, nor to the later Territory of Nevada eventually carved out from amongst the lands of the Territory of Utah, since in 1848, neither such Territory existed), and that therefore Bundy's whackdoodle contentions that the feds didn't own the land, didn't even pass cursory common sense and rules of settled law going back to about Hammurabi.

The feds set a trespass fine of $200/head/day, going back to 1998. Come some years ago, after dickering, arguing, cajoling, and such with Bundy, during which time he admitted and stipulated that the cows were his, they were on federal lands, and he would round them up, he did no such thing. The feds even offered to round them up for him, and hand him the money for the sale. (FYI, a head of cow goes for in the neighborhood of $5K@).

When all this failed, the feds once again went to court, obtaining in July of 2013, another federal summary judgment, affirming that Bundy and his herd of over 600 cows were in fact trespassing on the lease he hadn't paid for the use of since 1993, as well as now spilling over to new lands he'd never leased, at any point in time, in perpetuity.

The court found his claims that the land wasn't the feds' were prima facie nonsensical, granted the feds the right to seize the offending herd on federal land anytime after 45 days from the July 9th 2013 federal district court judgment (that would be August 25th, 2013 and following on my calendar), and the right to seize any future trespassing strays in perpetuity.

The feds waited another nine months, and finally, having had enough of Bundy's 20 year theft of government resources, acted to seize his cows, in obedience to federal law and the order issued by the federal court.

Whereupon Bundy wet himself, vowed to oppose the feds with force of arms, vowing not to be taken alive, and whilst fondling firearms. Ignoring the latter-day domestic terrorism violations, that right there is about 5 specific federal felonies on the federal books since the 1800s. Put there by such evil over-reaching oppressors as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. (That would presidents Number 2, 3, and 4 if you didn't buy a program at the front gate.)

Then Bundy called upon the Whacktard Legions to join his jihad of stealing from the feds, because Mom, Apple Pie, and the Flag.
And they came.

Bundy has racked up, by a rough count, a potential fine of over $650,000,000 in trespass fines, besides the price of the unrenewed leases, if we look at 600 cattle x $200 fine per head per day x 365 days x 15 years. That's from 1998-2013.

His cattle herd, at market price, is worth perhaps $3,000,000 dollars.

1) He is a multimillionaire, not some oppressed pauper, and
2) He's going to come up a little short on paying his fine.

There's nothing wrong with being wealthy per se, provided you come by it honestly. But when you pretend to be some poor working man put upon by Evil Uncle Sugar, when in fact you've enjoyed three or more generations of government handouts in the form of grazing leases from the same hand you're now biting, and secondly by stiffing the government for even that pittance for the last two decades, you aren't a working man, you're beyond morally challenged, you're a straight-up working thief. And crying for help when the cops have you by the scruff of the neck for that thievery is chutzpah the size of Texas.

Enter "our" side's fucking retarded legions.
Bundy cries "Big Government! Help!" (That would be the same Big Government who three generations of his family paid for those leases without a peep until 1993, and the same Big Government whose teat he was content to suck on as recently as the Clinton administration) and the dog whistle of insanity draws them like moths to a bonfire.
The Headless Chicken Posse ignores that the feds are simply enforcing, ever so gently and slowly, federal law on federal lands in compliance with the permission of the federal court, which has found against Bundy every time they've offered an opinion, and which even the lunatic 9th Circus Court refuses to overturn. (Of course, this will offend the strident lunatics and anarchists among us, who think the federal government should be non-existant. But usually they're too busy fapping to Ayn Rand's picture to bother anyone.) 
They ignore that they're violating about 27 federal laws, felonies all, in furtherance of the criminal enterprise of a multimillionaire who's flouted federal law with the impunity normally reserved for indicted Democrat congressman and Columbian drug lords. 

IMHO, at this point, the feds would be entitled to strafe Bundy's herd with attack aircraft, and napalm him inside his own house for threatening criminal violence towards agents attempting to end his twenty year and $650M thieving run.

I wish they would, and would happily cheer them on if they did, despite the fact that I think the federal government is bloated beyond metastasis, stupid beyond imagining, and on its best day, merely vile and loathsome.

Because Bundy is that wrong, that criminal, and that overdue for a good dose of comeuppance.
And all of this information is readily and easily available about 2000 places on the internet, for those with any modicum of wits and a yellow belt in Google Fu.

But instead, "our" pundits continue to whip the rabble into a froth against the federal government enforcing the laws against thieves stealing a national resource from every taxpayer in the country, because Barack Obama is evil.

This is the same shit we decry when black juries acquit black defendants who murder and rape black people because The Man Done Been Keepin' Us Down.

And of course, we can depend upon this administration to enforce the law as written, because that's what they've always d...wait, never mind.
Because we know that having found the Poster Child for crazy right wing gun-toting anti-government criminality, they want those visuals and the multiple news stories to go away, because midterm elections are coming and they don't want to see more stories like...wait, never mind.
Because Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, AG Holder, and His Nibs, Emperor BHO the First, aren't hardcore acolytes of Saul Alinsky, and would never read his Rules for Radicals, follow them in lockstep, or keep pushing situations that favor them over and over, because that's not how they roll since...wait, never mind.

"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.

A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period.

The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself.

Maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it."
                                          - Saul Alinsky, Rules For Radicals

That's about half of them, right there.

And now comes Bundy, spouting racist nonsense that would warm the hearts of the KKK, and the quickest way to get trampled would be to stand between any one of his public supporters, and the nearest exit. People haven't moved this fast since the LZ Hindenburg tried to land in New Jersey, on their heads. And clearly, Bundy's fifteen minutes are about up.

The last time there was someone on TV this stupid named Bundy, it was on Married With Children. Which, unlike this round of silliness, was at least occasionally funny.

So if you're one of those idiots who's been chanting "Bundy good, government bad" shame on you.
If you're one of the fucktard legions standing in the desert with him, please attempt to suck-start your pistol or shotgun, and up the overall IQ of the planet, let alone our side.
And if you're one of the dipshit pundits who's been cheering this silly horseshit on, please stand next to one of the fucktard legion members when they're doing that.

You're the problem, not the solution to it, and you'll figure it out about ten minutes after you piss away any chance of winning a landslide in the upcoming midterms, and the rejuvenated Democrats in Congress announce a sweeping pushback of firearms laws because of all the terrorists in the desert, you stupid mouthbreathing morons. And doubtless you'll be the loudest whiners at that turn of events, with a suitably silly look on your face.

There are any number of actual cases and causes to oppose oppressive over-reaching dictatorial government actions.

Pay attention now:




All this is, is a senile sumbitch caught robbing the bank, and bitching that there's a fed trying to put handcuffs on him and haul him away.

Gravity works. Boo frickin' hoo.

Equal time for the easily bamboozled...

Evidently it's "wealth envy" to note that someone is prospering from theft, and has been doing so for at least twenty years. My apologies that in this case, the perpetrator's first name isn't Congressman.
Nonetheless, a crook is a crook is a crook.
Sane people get this.
If you have a rational counterpoint to make, feel free.

For the rest, let us know when you'll be storming the Bastille to free all the income tax cheats. But if your only mission venturing here is to hurl your feces, be sure and dig around the corners of your cage. That way when you're done, you'll have a clean place for the other monkeys to sleep; no sense wasting a trip.

Flick Pick: My Darling Clementine

My Darling Clementine
(20th Cent. Fox, 1946)

John's Ford's ahistorical but masterful western retelling of the Shootout At The OK Corral, with Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp, and Victor Mature as Doc Holliday. Like Stagecoach shot 5 years earlier, and The Searchers shot ten years after this film, John Ford + Western = American film masterpiece. It would be nearly 50 years before there was a better telling of this tale, and there has never been a director as in command of his craft as in any movie with John Ford directing somewhere in Monument Valley. Period.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Flick Pick: Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman
(Touchstone, 1990)

The most untraditional princess fairytale romantic comedy ever backed by Disney, and the literal Godfather (Godmother?) of the genre. Made by Garry Marshall for $14M, brought in  over $463M, and after half a dozen then-bigger stars passed on the script, 21-year-old Julia Roberts rocketed to superstardom, and into a nomination for Best Actress for this role. (We note that historically, if an actress wants an Oscar nomination or the actual award, she should play a prostitute. The tally bears this out time after time. Which says a lot about Hollywood one way or the other.)
And yes, the movie works because every woman who saw it wanted Richard Gere to drive up in a Lotus and offer them a ride, and every guy would love to own Julia Roberts for a week. But it also works because Marshall is a comedy directing maestro, Hector Elizondo nonchalantly and masterfully steals every scene he's in, Jason Alexander can be a good guy or a bad guy so well because he knows where the line is and when to push, and because everyone from Ralph Bellamy to the last one-line actor in the movie delivers top-notch performances right on cue. A title from the kickass song by Roy Orbison, and the song itself didn't hurt. And everyone likes a happy ending.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Flick Pick: The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada
(20th Century Fox, 2006)

Coming of age film inside the world of high fashion, with Meryl Streep as the dragon lady running a fictional fashion mag, in her 14th outing nominated for an Oscar, Stanley Tucci razor sharp as one of her lieutenants, and the always lovely Anne Hathaway as the country frog turned into a city princess. Dialogue alternates with music pieces, as a series of vignettes based on the novel, which come off like the cinematic equivalent of magazine ads. Reasonably accurate according to industry insiders, and hugely successful at the box office, though too much of a stretch for any of the actors, mainly because the only sketchier prima donnas than film talent would be high fashion models and the minions that groom them.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Flick Pick: The Devil's Brigade

The Devil's Brigade
(United Artists, 1968)

Somewhat fictionalized account of the 1st Special Service Force, which makes a good story, and a decent war flick, shot on location in Utah and Italy. Boasts a very solid cast, headed by William Holden and Cliff Robertson, with cameos by everybody. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Flick Pick: Ben Hur

Ben Hur
(MGM, 1959)

Made for $15M when that was a lot of money, pulling in $146M initially, winning  a then-record 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Heston), Best Supporting Actor (Griffith), and incidentally one of the greatest films ever made, William Wyler's historical epic set the standard for filmmaking for the next 20 years, while Miklos Rozsa's sweeping Best Score was issued as a separate album, and influenced later works by John Williams. The climactic chariot race was iconic, taking five weeks to film over three months of production, and carefully recreating some aspects of the 1925 silent version, while in others taking full advantage of the widescreen color cameras used to shoot the movie. The returns on this movie saved MGM singlehandedly, and Ben Hur was second only to Gone With The Wind for biggest grossing movie of all time.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Flick Pick: Spartacus

(Universal, 1960)

Universal's biggest-grossing picture to date, directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Dalton Trumbo based on Howard Fast's novel, the later two both blacklisted and unable to work in Hollywood since the '50s. To his everlasting credit, executive producer/star Kirk Douglas publicly announced their participation and basically dared anybody to make anything out of it. Audiences showed up in droves to see one of Hollywood's classic historic dramas, with Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, and Tony Curtis, and the film won four Oscars, including one for Peter Ustinov for Best Supporting Actor.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flick Pick: The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments
(Paramount, 1956)

Cecil B. DeMille's epic biblical masterpiece, which he narrates, and one of the highest-grossing films of both its day, and all time. It's been shown on ABC annually over Passover/Easter week since 1973, and consistently wins the night and garners 6-8 million viewers every year. Filmmaking in all its widescreen Technicolor splendor, and great performances from Heston at the top of the bill, to uncredited appearances at the bottom, and everyone in between.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Flick Pick: Harvey

(Universal, 1950)

Your Flick Pick Easter Bunny is this absolutely delightful comedy gem, starring Jimmy Stewart in a masterpiece performance, Josephine Hull in a Best Supporting Actress award-winning role, and of course, a 6 foot 3 1/2 inch pooka named Harvey, as himself. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Flick Pick: The Abyss

The Abyss
(20th Century Fox, 1989)

Gripping undersea sci-fi from the last glory days of the Cameron-Hurd partnership. In many ways Ed Harris' and Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio's characters are biographical of the off-screen breakup, but the driving forces were a good yarn and killer effects, not least of which obtained by shooting the entire movie in a flooded never-completed nuclear reactor containment building in 55 feet (seven and a half million gallons' worth) of water, draped over and shot at night to capture the realism of being 2000' under the ocean. On a grueling shoot for cast and crew, Cameron cemented his legendary status as a screaming a-hole perfectionist in mid-divorce, having dive helmets made where crew members could only listen, and only Cameron could talk, but in the end it was nominated for four Oscars, winning one for Best Visual Effects. Due to delays and budget excesses, it basically broke even, and probably would have fared much better had Fox let Cameron put the ending in it he wanted; the studio's choice basically fumbled the ball on the 2 yard line, until the director's cut came out in re-release, adding thirty minutes' footage and a less ham-fisted finish to a movie now over three hours long.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flick Pick: Titanic

(Paramount/20th Cent. Fox, 1997)

Listed here on the 102nd anniversary of the tragedy, the most epic disaster film ever made, highest grossing film of all time when released, on the highest budget ever spent, and tied for most Academy Awards with Ben Hur and later Lord Of The Rings, winning eleven, including Best Picture, and Best Director for James Cameron.
A fictional love story wrapped inside the greatest special effects and the most realistic (9/10ths scale) recreation of the ill-fated star ever built, with the added virtue of the physics of the sinking being as close to true as will ever be had 80 years after the fact. Despite being a legendary screamer, Cameron managed to successfully create one of the greatest movies of all time out of one of the modern world's biggest disasters, making it not merely a film but an experience, and deserves the awards and accolades this movie subsequently garnered.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Flick Pick: Terminator III

Terminator III
(Warner Bros., 2003)

Final worthwhile installment of the series, with the largest production budget of the bunch (largest ever at the time) it still paid the studio back, and generally the audience as well, although by twenty years in, Arnold is somewhat the worse for wear, Cameron had run out of gas - the screenplay was by others - and didn't direct this outing either, but there was still enough momentum to get it made, and deliver on the threat from the original idea: the entire world taken over by machines and menaced by terminators. So it goes long on action, and short on plot development, all the backstory having been delivered in the first two go-arounds. Which we can live with in this one.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Flick Pick: Terminator II

Terminator II
(Tri-Star, 1991)

Arguably the greatest sequel of all time, definitely the best in sci-fi, four Academy Awards, and half a billion dollars in box office more than argue for adding this flick to the year's list.
It should come as no surprise, Schwarzenegger having warned us "I'll be back."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flick Pick: The Terminator

The Terminator
(Orion, 1984)

The film that cemented two careers: mega-storyteller writer/director James Cameron, and box-office force of nature Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron sold the screenplay to Orion for a dollar on the condition he get to direct it. The movie was made for $6.5M on the theory that it would be sci-fi schlock in and out of theatres in a week or two. It went to #1 immediately, made $78M, and stayed in theatres for 13 weeks. Introduced audiences to Linda Hamilton (at the young and cute stage), and Cameron go-to actors Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn. In one interesting side note, one of the possible choices for the Terminator was Orion studios' suggestion O.J. Simpson, but Cameron didn't think O.J. was believable as a killer.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flick Pick: Predator

(20th Century Fox, 1987)

Absolutely pure undiluted testosterone from beginning to end. This movie has one female character, and she was harder and tougher than most guy action stars today. The crew with Arnold Schwarzenegger who make up his team are so tough they make Apollo Creed look like the pansy in this cast. This flick builds up steadily, until it's coming hot and heavy, and audiences always know the one thing you need to know in a movie like this: even if you're an interstellar bad-ass, it's always a mistake to pick on Ah-nuld, who taught us all in the memorable line: "if it bleeds, we can kill it."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flick Pick: My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny
(20th Century Fox , 1992)

Joe Pesci's tour-de-force, Marisa Tomei's Oscar-winning role as Best Supporting Actress, and sadly the last film with an altogether perfect appearance by Fred Gwynne before he died. This one gets the comedy right, gets the courtroom procedure right, and absolutely nailed the casting of every part to make a surprise hit comedy with no villain, other than the wheels of justice themselves.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Flick Pick: Operation Petticoat

Operation Petticoat
(Universal, 1959)

Blake Edwards comedy set aboard a submarine at the beginning of WWII with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis being Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, and getting along marvelously, especially with the helpful addition of five Army nurses along for the ride. The saddest thing about this little tale that was a box office hit is that it never actually happened. Co-stars include Gavin Macleod, Marion Ross, and Dick Sargent.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Flick Pick: U-571

(Universal, 2000)

Well-done fictionalized account of submarine skullduggery to get the German Enigma code machine, changed to an American exploit for dramatic purposes. Great action, and solid performances from Matthew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel, from the last brief period of time when Hollywood didn't hate America or its fighting men on general principle.

Monday, April 7, 2014

RIP John Pinette

The funniest standup comic working in America died this weekend. John Pinette , 50, was just too damn much funny to fit in a normal sized body. In nearly 30 years of touring, multiple specials and CDs, he entertained tens of millions of fans his entire adult life. A gifted mimic, Broadway show singer, and tireless fountain of good cheer, he didn't pick on anyone personally, and avoided political or topical humor, concentrating on food, his love of it, and the results of that for himself and his travels through life. Through recorded performances from the past, he'll be entertaining people for years to come, leaving nothing behind but a satisfied audience and an empty plate.

Sidelined from touring by recovery from recent surgeries, one of his recent Twitter posts tells it best:

"...I'm on the mend, and I promise to hit the stage as soon as humanly possible so I can once again have the honor of making you guys, my friends and fans laugh like you've never laughed before. That's my promise! Thank you for being patient and most of all thank you for allowing me to entertain you for all of these years.

Now I have to go, I think a girl scout just rang my doorbell.

Sincerely, Your friend,
John Pinette"

What a great guy. I hope there's a Chinese buffet in heaven, and John is just settling in after his 20th trip to load up a platter.

Flick Pick: Run Silent, Run Deep

Run Silent, Run Deep
(United Artists, 1958)

Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden, and Don Rickles in his film debut, in a taut WWII drama of the Silent Service, on board a submarine war patrol in the Sea Of Japan, in glorious black & white. When someone says movies used to be better, this is what they're talking about.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Flick Pick: Das Boot

Das Boot
(Bavaria Films/Columbia ,1981)

One of the best war movies ever made, and certainly the best submarine story ever, the saga of the fictional U-96 by Wolfgang Petersen, based on the actual exploits of the real U-96,  was one of the most expensive productions ever undertaken in German cinema - at all of $12M - and set new standards for historical realism in this epic tale about German submariners in the North Atlantic wolfpacks of 1941.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Flick Pick: Tin Cup

Tin Cup
(Warner Bros., 1996)

Lest anyone think I'm keying only on the opening of baseball season, and ignoring the imminent Master's, today's choice is writer-director Ron Shelton once again teamed with Kevin Costner, and once again, a notable sports flick romantic comedy hit. When a guy can make golf this much fun, you're in the presence of greatness. Caddyshack was funny; this flick is comedy genius. Rene Russo is marvelous, Don Johnson shows you why he was such a hit in the '80s, and Cheech Marin's superb supporting performance throughout is worth watching the entire movie just to see.
After watching this and Bull Durham, I want to lock Ron Shelton in a room with a word processor and ESPN for six months, so he can write the next ten other greatest sports movies, with or without Kevin Costner, and then turn him loose to make them.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Flick Pick: Field Of Dreams

Field Of Dreams
(Universal, 1989)

Phil Alden Robinson's adaptation of "Shoeless Joe" became a runaway hit, surpassing Costner's effort in Bull Durham the previous year, and featuring career standout performances from Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and featuring Burt Lancaster in a memorable final screen performance in a long and celebrated career.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Flick Pick: Bull Durham

Bull Durham
(Orion, 1988)

Writer and rookie director Ron Shelton's debut movie was a grand slam, combining great actors, great story, great instincts, and great filmmaking, and producing arguably the best movie about baseball ever made. It masquerades as a romantic comedy about people in love with each other, but it's really about three people in the story all in love with the same game, by a director with the same affliction. The result is magical.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Flick Pick: Major League

Major League
(Paramount, 1989)

One of the best sports comedies ever made, with a cast of then mostly unknowns who went on to do quite well. Sprinkled throughout are enough actual former major league players, enough of a glimpse inside baseball to make it fun, including Bob Uecker in an understated but over-the-top portrayal of a baseball announcer ever, and a perfect Randy Newman score. Play ball!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Flick Pick: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
(United Artists,1963)

Stanley Kramer's epic starring...everybody, in one of the absolute greatest American comedy films of all time. I can't think of a more appropriate film for April Fool's Day.