Showing posts with label Movie Reviewery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movie Reviewery. Show all posts

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mitt - the Documentary - the OTHER Other Side

The new documentary about Mitt Romney, appropriately titled, Mitt, recently premiered at the renowned Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and is currently available exclusively through Netflix.

Mitt imparts captivating insight from behind the scenes of America's most recent presidential campaign. Mitt is endearing and melts away Governor Romney's stuffy public persona and portrays the Republican candidate as a genuine, caring family man with only the best intentions for America. The editors did a convincing job of making Mitt Romney seem like a nice, normal, ordinary guy. 

The well filmed documentary begins with a short scene on the night of the 2012 election as a somber Romney family realizes that Mitt has lost the election and would soon have to make a concession speech. As the candidate chokes back tears, he inquires jokingly, "Does anyone have the president's phone number? ...I hadn't thought of that." 

Flash Back to 2008

Another short scene rewinds the clock back a half decade, and finds the Romneys sledding together down a snowy slope. Later on, the entire Romney clan is seen sitting comfortably in one of their many living rooms, discussing the pros and cons of a potential presidential run... the first run back in 2008.  

Less than ten minutes into the documentary we see a handful of candid clips from the 2008 campaign trail as Mitt appears in various cities to woo primary voters in key states. Polls indicate that McCain and Romney are in a virtual tie while Mitt laments how unfair it is that the media and establishment machine is taking sides by labeling him as a flip-flopper and lending credibility to McCain. A Romney victory is squelched by the revelation of Florida Governor Charlie Crist's endorsement of McCain, breaking his promise to Mitt that he'd remain neutral. Never trust a politician.

Major Edit

Suddenly, it is four years later, and with absolutely no mention or discussion about the dirty 2012 Republican Primary, we find Mitt Romney at the GOP Convention accepting the 2012 nomination for President of the United States. Did I miss something?

Caucus Raucous - the Other Other Side

Mitt is a documentary about family unity and support more than anything else, but the most historically and politically important story about Mitt Romney is the one that wasn't told in this documentary. 

The untold story is regarding the unsavory activities of Mitt's minions who performed shameful acts of thuggery to ensure that the establishment's anointed man would become the Republican presidential candidate. One must wonder how Mr. Romney's pious Mormon family feels about the bone breaking, hip dislocating, ballot stuffing, tally altering, caucus canceling, delegate displacing, rule changing and other dishonest activities that occurred in Mitt's name during the primary and at the Republican Convention. That is the documentary that Americans need to see in order to possess a proper understanding of the 2012 election, the state of politics in America and especially the corrupt leadership of Republican Party.

The Wrong Man

At the end of the  documentary, the viewer is made to feel as though America chose the wrong person to be president in 2012. Well, Americans did choose the wrong person, but the right person wasn't Mitt Romney. 

For a detailed and documented account of what REALLY happened behind the scenes during the 2012 Republican Primary, SWINDLED: How the GOP Cheated Ron Paul and  Lost Themselves the Election 
is recommended reading.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gentlemen Broncos Pleases Santa Cruz Midnight Movie Goers

Applause erupted in the old art-deco Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz late Friday night (actually early Saturday morning), as the final credits began to roll for Gentlemen Broncos, a movie that only a few lucky folks have had the opportunity to view.

More than half of the audience members in the Del Mar weren't even aware that there would be a final scene after the credits had run, but they stayed anyway, and again, expressed their approval with more applause as the house lights were turned on, and the movie was officially over. A midnight movie is tough for an old-phart like me to endure, but I decided to attend the following night too, because who knows when I'll get the opportunity to see
Gentlemen Broncos again? The Saturday night crowd was equally as enthusiastic about the movie.

When I saw this movie for the first time last Thanksgiving, I assumed that it would become as commonplace as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, but that didn't happen.
Gentlemen Broncos should have been a mainstream hit, but bad reviews and poor earnings in the first days of its release, caused Searchlight Pictures to panic, and they hastily reacted by canceling national distribution of the film that I and so many had been looking forward to seeing again or for the first time. Those coming soon posters and trailers suddenly became sad and empty promises, and it seems that now only a handful of people will see Gentlemen Broncos in a theater.

The reaction of the Santa Cruz crowd last weekend gives me hope that
Gentlemen Broncos will catch on as an underground midnight movie sensation. Everyone I spoke with after the show liked Gentlemen Broncos very much. Everyone seemed surprised at its obscurity, and lack of attention. Gentlemen Broncos has all the makings of a cult-classic - great acting, intentionally awkward, ridiculous, & quirky scenes, and some really intriguing cinematography too. There's even a theater cry room in one of the scenes. Popcorn balls appear throughout the film, therefore if Gentlemen Broncos does become a midnight movie sensation, popcorn balls should surely become part of the pageantry of the attendees. That would be fun to clean up.

Unfortunately, what should be, isn't always what is, and Gentlemen Broncos may disappear forever. Hopefully, there will be a DVD release of Gentlemen Broncos in the the near future, otherwise, this pseudo science fiction oddity may become another Whiffs* (1974), and dissipate like a cloud of Hollywood Smoke... forever.

So if Gentlemen Broncos comes to your local midnight movie house, be sure to don your grandmother's nightgown, grab a pink cape, fake moustache, and long blond haired wig, then mount your battle stag and head over to the cinematic yeast mine. Don't forget the popcorn balls... two in a bag. And beware Younglings donning mammary cannons intent on probing the mysteries of the Human mind. I hate those.

*Like Gentlemen Broncos, much of
Whiffs was filmed in Tooele, UT and it also should have become a mainstream hit. Whiffs featured big names like Elliot Gould, (his role following M*A*S*H), Eddie Albert, Jenifer O'Neil, etc. Whiffs even received an Academy Award nomination for its title song, but only a few folks actually got to see Whiffs before it was swept under the rug. There was a limited VHS release of Whiffs, but the film has never been released on DVD, and probably never will be.

Whiffs Trailer from 1975 - sorry about the commercial!!!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Pseudo Psi-Fi Classique- Gentlemen Broncos

When the movie ended, a twelve or so year old girl sitting couple of rows behind me said to her family,

"That was officially the weirdest movie I have ever seen. Mom would have hated it."

My mom would have hated it too, but my own opinion of the strange movie was less immediate than the twelve year old's. I knew that I had been thoroughly entertained, but was still a bit unsure how much I really liked the awkward comedy about Benjamin Purvis, a home schooled teen with aspirations of someday becoming a published science fiction writer.

The story was simple enough. When Ben attends a writer's camp for home schoolers, he is thrilled to discover that one of the guest presenters there is Dr. Ronald Chevalier, his favorite science fiction author who
announces that he'll be judging a science fiction writing competition resulting in the publication of the winning entry. Ben enters his own, hand-written sci-fi novel, titled Yeast Lords, and is later disappointed when he discovers that his work has been plagiarized by Chevalier.

An imposed friend of Ben's named Lonny Donahoe also has interest in Yeast Lords and creates a short film starring some of Ben's friends. Donahoe's modifications and interpretations of Yeast Lords cause Ben to regret his decision to allow the film to be made.

While browsing in a bookstore, Ben stumbles across Chevalier's newly published interpretation of
Yeast Lords titled Brutus and Balzaak, and is furious. Ben takes matters into his own hands and after a whirlwind of events, procures poetic justice for himself, and a happy ending for the audience. Formulae, but still fun.I remained in my seat until all of the credits had run because I suspected there would be a final scene... I was glad that I waited because I was rewarded with a splendid scene that I won't reveal to any readers who may not want to know how it ends.

I didn't have many expectations for this movie even though I have been anticipating its release for a year or so. I first learned about Gentlemen Broncos while interviewing Alan Bradshaw for a post I wrote last year. Alan told me that a scene from the movie had been filmed in the lobby of the Ritz Theater and that other scenes had been shot at his dome shaped home near the Motor Vu Drive-In Theater in Erda. When I watched Gentlemen Broncos, I paid close attention to the lobby scene, and was a bit disappointed that the early 60's era velvet Mexican clown paintings hanging in the Ritz lobby weren't featured. However, I was happy to see that the door to the cry room was in full view. When I was very young, my mom had to take me into that cry room during my very first big-screen experience, when Mary Poppins became too much for me. I had hoped to see Gentlemen Broncos at the Ritz when I was in Tooele last week, but found that it wasn't playing there. In fact, it was only playing at one theater in the entire Salt Lake area.

The Broadway Theater in Salt Lake City was empty when we arrived for the 9:30 show on Thanksgiving. Mighty Mo, Mason the Punk Girl and myself took our seats while a handful of movie goers arrived as previews of coming attractions played on the big screen. I was surprised how few people attended.

Four days later, I find myself thinking about Gentlemen Broncos quite a bit. Much of the thirteen hours traveling home yesterday was spent discussing the so far relatively unknown pseudo science fiction comedy, and all four members of our family agree that Gentlemen Broncos is an excellent movie, and all of us look forward to watching it again soon.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where Spock Has Gone Before ***

My friend, Kevin, gleefully demonstrates his original series Star Trek phaser. Nice shootin' Tex.
I started watching Star Trek back in the late 60's, when the show was still new. The unique program took viewers like me to places that no man had gone before, and introduced a generation to science fiction.

I was still pretty small, but can remember how mesmerizing the introduction music* was to me. Almost spooky. The same piece of music was replayed at the end of each episode as superimposed credits rolled over intriguing snapshots from other Star Trek episodes.

Star Trek was canceled in 1969, and quickly made its way to syndication, where it became popular among a crowd of loners who began calling themselves Trekkers.**

Even though I have seen every episode of the original series numerous times, I certainly would not classify myself as either Trekkie or Trekker. I definitely don't envision Star Trek as the blueprint for our future. Maybe that's what I liked about the latest Star Trek movie. Not that I loved it, but at least this movie wasn't terrible like all of its predecessors have been.

The first Star Trek movie was a huge disappointment, and every subsequent movie followed suit. Each trying to outdo the last, Star Trek movies boasted terrible acting with long drawn-out, close-up scenes of the USS Enterprise. It's only a model. The stories were bad, too. In one, the Enterprise travels through time to rescue a whale. With a bit of remodeling, the large endangered mammal is placed inside the spaceship and whisked through time.***

Now, there's a new Star Trek movie, and this one isn't terrible. In fact, it's pretty good. This newest Star Trek takes place in the early life of James T. Kirk, and chronicles his ascendancy to captain of the Enterprise. It wouldn't be fair to call this latest Star Trek a prequel because the familiar mythos is completely undone when a rogue Romulan vessel travels back in time and changes galactic history. Young versions of Kirk and Spock behave as enemies as they vie for control of the Enterprise, and who would have suspected that Uhura and Spock would have a special relationship?

Since Star Trek movies are all so bad, I usually wait to rent them on video. This time I gambled, and went to the theater. I reasoned that since all of the Star Trek movies have been terrible, there was a good chance this one might not be. And I'm happy to report that it is pretty good. It isn't perfect. As you might expect, there are lots of corny familiar lines. Scotty gives it all he's got while Spock is out of his Vulcan mind, but
maybe the cliches are more appropriate in this movie than previous Star Trek theatrical attempts.

* I later learned that the haunting voice was created by an electronic instrument called a theremin.

** Trekkers are sometimes mistakenly called Trekkies by outsiders.

*** Put Jonah in that whale and you've got yourself a story.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Electric Apricot - A Film Review

You only make your first film once.

And fortunately for clam-rocker Les Claypool, this one is going to become an instant cult classic. In this mock-you-rockumentary, Claypool sets sail upon the sea of the cheesiest form of all musical expression... the jam-band.

Bay-Area Premier?

My friend Aaron has been a Primus/Claypool fan since back way when they played Porter College Cafeteria at UCSC before the war. He was thrilled when I told him about the new movie, and that it was playing at the Rio, one of the finest theaters in the land, and only a few blocks away from home, too. I didn't want to be late, so I rode my Seabright Runner past the theater early in the day to find out what time the show started. The sign in the window indicated that it would begin at 9:00 pm, but when I got home and consulted the official Electric Apricot website, I discovered that the show time was at 8:00 pm - one hour earlier. I also learned that the Santa Cruz show was the only Bay Area showing... a kind of Bay Area premiere so to speak. Anyone coming from out-of-town would be expecting the show to be at 8pm.

We left at just past seven to get ahead of the plethora of Primus fans who would likely be swarming into town from all around Northern California. When we arrived, we were the only ones there, which meant that we could choose any seat in the house. I selected a spot at a distance from the screen equal to the width of the screen... the optimal location to view a motion picture. A handful of folks trickled in over the next half hour, but there were still lots of empty seats in the accommodating art-deco theater. As it turns out, none of the local entertainment publications bothered to mention the show. Perhaps they're snubbing the Rio for allowing the Democrats for Ron Paul to have a rally there a few months back.

By the time the lights went down, the theater was optimistically half-full. What followed was a brilliant parody of the dead-head generation. I loved every minute of it as they poked fun at the earthy folks who burn sage and worship Jerry Garcia. There are even a couple of Jerrian apparitions including a pseudo-frame 352 Patterson-Gimlin-like (Sasquatch) image of Jerry. Choice! Better dead, than Grateful Dead, I always say.

Claypool's spoof is well thought out, and even included a subtle allusion to the Rutles, the mother of all rock-n-roll mock-umentaries. In my opinion, Electric Apricot is even more fun to watch than the metal-spoof movie, This is Spinal Tap. There were cameo performances of a handful of celebrities as well... I didn't know who any of them were, but the audience reacted when their familiar faces appeared on screen. Gabby Lala's performance of the Yoko-esque May Pang brought a smile to my face. Very cool! Claypool's performance as the band's drummer was convincing and natural. He's obviously hung around a few hippies. Every member of the band was uniquely bizarre and played their respective parts perfectly.

The audience reacted favorably, and laughed out loud frequently. A well-deserved applause accompanied the completion of the directors' debut film. Bravo!

I hope I don't have to wait too long to get it on DVD.

I thought about the movie quite a bit last night, and woke up this morning with the "Going to Burning Man" song still in my head. Later, I got a text message from Aaron asking, "Hey, are you going to Burning Man?"I predict that this coming August, caravans will be enjoying the new anthem as they trek across the country on their annual desert pilgrimage... to Burning Man.

Rhetro at the Rio

No! I won't be going to Burning Man, man.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Xtra Files 4: Counting Sheep or Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb's Tail - Remembering the Infamous Sheep Incident at Dugway

Tooelean Twilight Phantom

In the early morning hours of March 14, 1968, I was fast asleep in my cozy little bed, seemingly safe from monsters and bogy-men, while outside a winter storm raged. Not too far away, somewhere in the stormy twilight sky, a Phantom F-4 fighter-jet fitted with a special canister containing the highly toxic VX chemical-nerve agent headed out across the Great Salt Lake Desert on what should have been a "routine" open-air, chemical-weapons test. Blinded by the snow storm, the pilot skillfully navigated his way over the snow-covered alkaline mud flats of Skull Valley as though he had done it a hundred times. The dense quiet of snow falling at Lone Rock was briefly interrupted by the thunderous sound of the Phantom's two powerful J79 engines as it passed over the unpopulated landmark. Visually stealthed by the storm, the warcraft continued on course southward towards its target.Nearby, at Dugway Proving Grounds, located about forty miles southwest of where I slumbered, the US Army was conducting a routine, open-air, chemical-weapons test. Except for the storm, everything seemed routine, but on this particular blustery morning, something went terribly wrong. The F-4 was scheduled to employ a 300-gallon TMU-28 spray-tank canister over a specified target, but unfortunately, it failed and began to vent from beneath the jet as it maintained its scheduled flight-path. The powdery aerosol nerve agent continued to spew from the faulty canister as the Phantom thundered over rangelands populated mostly by thousands of sheep. Particulates of the highly toxic VX chemical mingled with snow flakes that tumbled and danced their way to the ground, contaminating the snowy desert below.

XO Infamous Sheep Incident OX

The result was the death of more than 6,000 sheep,
* and a host of other wild animals and birds. The toxic carcasses of the poisoned animals were sent to a central location in the desert where mass graves were dug, and the bodies which had become gelatinous (a gruesome side effect of VX) were buried and forgotten. The US Army denied any involvement, but agreed to pay the herdsmen for their financial losses... to $hut them up. They did a pretty good job of covering up the story, but people knew that something had happened, and assumed that some gas had drifted from the test site and poisoned the sheep. No one knew for sure... except the army, and they weren't talking.

Whiffs - Not a Gas

Unfortunately for the government, the sheep incident, as it has come to be known, didn't go entirely unnoticed, and stirred up a bit of media attention. In 1974 my small town of Tooele (pronounced too-ill-uhh), was all a-buzz when it was made known that a big-time Hollywood movie company was coming to town to make a film. Lots of Tooelians were cast as extras,** to appear on the big screen, in Whiffs starring Elliot Gould. This was Gould's first movie following the critically acclaimed box-office s*m*a*s*h, M*A*S*H. There were lots of other celebrities*** in the film too, but unfortunately, it wasn't very good. .
"We don't want to kill the enemy... we just want to make him a little sick."
Eddie Albert as Col. Lockyer in the 20th Century FOX film, WHIFFS 1975

Whiffs' title song was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, but other than that, the mis-managed movie didn't make much of an impact, and lingered about as long as a fart in a windstorm.
Whiffs did have an interesting premise, with lots of promise. Based, very loosely on the incident at Dugway, Whiffs is a fictional dark comedy about a government human test guinea pig, (played by Gould), who's health and quality of life is permanently impacted by repeated exposure to chemical weapons. Since he's no longer of any use to the army, he's forced to take an early retirement. He gets back at the system by stealing from the chemical weapons stockpile at Duggum**** Proving Ground, then unleashes chemical warfare on my home town. This was accomplished in part by a yellow and blue, bi-plane that flew a grid over Tooele spraying us with gas... crop-duster style. When my small city of about ten-thousand people was completely incapacitated, the banks were robbed, and the hero made his climactic getaway.

Geofrey Cambridge as Dusty spraying Tooele with a chemical weapon
in the 20th Century FOX Film, WHIFFS 1975

During the filming of
Whiffs, the bi-plane spewed Hollywood smoke***** as it flew all around town for what seemed like days. It was closely followed by a helicopter that filmed it canvasing our town with a grid of "gas." It was exciting to watch. My friend Albert Buck and I rode our bikes to the Tooele City Airport, a desolate landing strip beyond the westerly edge of town, to sneak a peek at the unusual aeroplane. I had never seen a bi-plane before, except on TV, so I was anxious to look at it up close. Soon it approached the runway from the south, landed and taxied to the fueling area where we were waiting to inspect it. Located a few hundred feet on the opposite side of the runway, and over an old barbed-wire fence to keep out cattle, the Tooele Army Depot, keeper of the majority of America's chemical weapons stockpile, loomed quietly, as if watching. Sprawling across the valley to the foothills on the other side, thousands of bunkers, warehousing the implements of war, spotted the landscape like nervous goose bumps on Mother earth. A grim reminder of the reality of chemical warfare... in my own back yard.

Forty Years Later

Today, forty years later, America's chemical weapons' stockpile has been destroyed at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility located at the Deseret Chemical Depot about twenty miles south of Tooele.

Dugway Proving Grounds remains operational, and continues to produce America's latest and greatest biological weapons. DPG is sometimes called 
Area 52, or the new area 51, probably because of all the unmanned aircraft/drone research and development taking place there these days.

*Counting sheep+ means something quite unique to this Tooelean. Fortunately we can all rest well knowing that our government doesn't lie to us anymore. Sleep tight tonight my little sheep.

** Including Paula Argus, my high school English teacher who tot me too rite rill good.

*** Eddie Albert, Jennifer O'Neil, Harry Guardino, Alan Manson to name a few.

****Spoof on Dugway Proving Ground, and perhaps alluding to the mass-graves the government dug to hide their dastardly deed.

***** Or was it another governmental chemical or bio-test conducted under the guise of a Hollywood movie?

Begin counting sheep now. Below are 6,000...

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They might just as well have been people had conditions been different.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Henry Spencer is a bright young printer with a flair for conversation, style and fashion. He has his own place in the city, and a girlfriend named Mary X, with whom he has become romantically involved. Mary is a lovely young woman who lives at home with her parents. Her father, Bill X, is a quick and witty electrician, who enjoys gourmet cooking for family and guests. Mrs. X is both beautiful and wise, and recommends that the young lovers marry when it is learned that Mary has prematurely given birth. Henry and Mary marry, and Mary moves in with Henry. Their small apartment is filled with love when they bring their darling little baby home from the hospital. Things really get interesting when Mary takes a trip to visit her parents and leaves Henry in charge of the baby. In her absence, Henry frequently thinks about his fantasy girl, (the woman in the radiator), a fancy footed stage dancer with a beautiful singing voice. When Mary returns, lots of fast-paced fun ensues. A surprise ending to one of the funniest dark comedies I have ever seen. ****** Six out of five stars.

"In Heaven, everything is fine"