10 Classic Movies, Re-Engineered For 2015

  1. Thelma and Bleu Cheese (Photo by Liaison)

An unhappily-married woman gets fed up with, well, everything, so she hops in a car and decides to just drive places and see what happens. All of her girlfriends have mani-pedi appointments that they don’t dare break, so Thelma is forced to take along a bottle of salad dressing to keep her company. The two of them stop for cocktails at a trendy sushi and martini bar, where there is a misunderstanding about global warming and an uneducated bigot ends up dead.

Rather than being rewarded for this thinning of the herd, Thelma and Bleu Cheese are instead accused of not liking men very much, a concept that is unfathomable to most straight males and therefore worthy of incarceration. Thelma and Bleu make a run for it, but after a few poor decisions and some windswept cinematography, the girl and the condiment find themselves trapped with no escape, and decide to end the party by driving off a cliff into Cobb Salad Canyon.

  1. The Gizzard of Oz

A quartet of laid-off poultry workers set out on a journey to find gainful employment in Emerald City. Along the way, they are beset by mean witches throwing fireballs at their social security cards, flying monkeys stealing their access to health care and a horrid little poppy field where people are lulled to sleep by flowering lies from a fake news channel named Fox Spews.

Upon arriving at the fabled City of Campaign Promises, our gang learns that the whole thing is an evil charade, run by an embittered man from Australia who has a penchant for megalomania and controlling countries that are not his own. There are NO new jobs, and there never will be as long as his monkeys keep flying through the air and stupid people can’t think for themselves. Happily, the gang finally discovers that if they click their heels together three times, they will be transported back to a time when politicians had decency and private sex lives. Sadly, it’s unclear when this time might have been, so they aren’t sure what to pack for the trip.

Soundtrack features the hit song, “Somewhere over the Free Clinic”.

  1. Rosemary’s Baby Daddy

Home-girl with an odd haircut and a fondness for sack dresses gets pregnant despite following Rhythm Method-Acting procedures. While her belly bulges, she starts to suspect that her man just might have promised their offspring to a coven of Junior Leaguers.

Rosie don’t play that, so she tries to get help, but she calls all the wrong people, mainly because everybody in her deluxe apartment building in the sky is part of this jacked-up coven. (One fool even gives her an ugly necklace that smells like ass, to “protect the baby”, but it only takes Slow Roe a few months to figure out there’s something wrong with that mess and she throws it in the gutter.) Eventually, with a dedicated effort to actually pay attention to what’s happening around her instead of binge-watching “Orange Is the New Black” every night, she puts the pieces together and realizes that she’s had sex with the devil. Her impending bundle of joy is going to have cloven hooves, which puts a damper on her plans to have a natural childbirth whilst attendees play harps and quote poetry.

This leads to a lot of angst and hair-rending and binge-eating at the local Burger Hut drive-thru. But once Rosie shoots Satan Junior out of her demonic portal and gets a gander at his slightly-horned face, her maternal instincts kick in and she decides that raising the spawn of Beelzebub can’t be all that bad, especially if you get a rent-controlled apartment out of it.

  1. Star Whores

A long time ago, in a galaxy known as California, a band of resistance fighters decided that it was far too much work becoming famous due to actual effort and merit, and that it was much more sensible to be popular just because you exist. All you should have to do is find a robotic friend or two, wear really cool clothes that the 99% can’t afford, accept the fact that your offspring will become socially warped, and then allow cameras to film you brushing your teeth, yelling at household servants, and contributing absolutely nothing to society. Bingo. Your own TV show. And nobody has to write a script. Yay!

  1. Sigh Ko

A remake of the Japanese hit, the story innocently starts out as the tale of a bored website designer who, after sleeping with a married man on her lunch hour, is inspired to steal all the money in the cash bar at work and drive to a motel in the middle of nowhere so she can take a shower in peace. Much to her moist surprise, the proprietor of said hotel has mommy issues, un-medicated twitching, and a startling dexterity with culinary implements. Calamity ensues amid vague images of dripping plumbing, barren trees, and recipes for miso soup. Cameo appearance by Anthony Bourdain, despite the fact that he shouldhave had reservations before checking into one of the 12 vacant cabins.

  1. Some Like It Shot

Documentary wherein NRA representatives detail their Jesus-blessed right to bear arms, fire these weapons at anything that moves and then hide under the Constitution that they never finished reading. This leads to several eye-opening revelations, such as the inability of many gun-rights supporters to be non-racist, spell correctly, follow logic, or grasp the concept that they don’t look as smart on TV as they think they do. In an interesting climax, several NRA leaders escape a confrontation with outraged citizens by wearing dresses and pretending to be in an all-girl ska band led by Gwen Stefani and her ponytail.

  1. Raiders of the Lost Spark

Harrison Buick stars as a shape-shifting man trying to find out what happened to the rest of Karen Allen’s career. Complications arise when Nancy Allen also shows up, demanding equal billing and explanations as to what went wrong where. As the trio race about the globe in search of answers, they are continually hounded by vindictive Nazis, giant runaway boulders, bipolar snakes, whip-wielding nuns, menacing vats of popcorn butter, and Tori Spelling in a Lifetime movie.

  1. Jurassic Park Avenue

Woody Allen directs this probing study of really old people living on the Upper East Side of NYC, a locale that Allen apparently never leaves, even when tempted by possible wins at the Academy Awards ceremony. Rumors abound about a mad scientist running a clandestine facility under Central Park, where people with trust funds undergo experiments to keep them looking dewy and fresh long after they should have been extinct. The plot takes an abrupt turn, however, when suspicion arises that these rumors are merely the invention of officials on Wall Street, who are trying to divert attention from what’s going on over there, where any type of regulation is an endangered species.

In typical Allen style, the carefully-paced film is brimming with lots of angst-ridden dialogue spoken by people who talk too much, understated but expensive couture worn by suppressed and unsatisfied women, a jazzy soundtrack that evokes better movies, and a daycare center for Allen’s wife.

  1. The Silence of the Jams

A vicious serial killer is loose at a charming country inn nestled in the midst of a Vermont orchard, and no one is safe. Guests live in fear that their breakfast trays will arrive without the exact artisanal marmalade they ordered, a sure sign that they are next on the maniac’s menu. The survivors are forced to band together and overcome terrifying obstacles to ensure they make it to the next meal. (Of course, no one even considers just leaving, because the deposit is nonrefundable.) To make the movie seem more important than it really is, Jody Foster has a small role recreating the “bee charmer” scene from Fried Green Tomatoes, giving the film an artsy edge so snooty film critics at the Sundance Film Festival can make themselves feel important by praising it.

  1. Crease

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John join forces again as singing drycleaners responsible for keeping the garments of celebrities properly ironed. They start out as a gay man and a shy lesbian, but after several rousing musical numbers (including “Hopelessly Devoted to Using Starch”, “Born to Hand Iron” and “Look at Me, I’m Wrinkle-Free!”), they can’t help but give the straight thing a spin, at least until the producers make a decision about the sequel. (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow show up for the critical scarf-folding montage wherein love blooms amid the billowing steam and chemical solvents.)

The amazingly bouncy finale has the entire cast doing intricate choreography while they wrap John and Olivia’s car in plastic as it moves down the production line toward matrimony and whoever has the right ticket receipt. Directed by Elton John and Martha Stewart, with an exciting soundtrack that will help you overlook the unbelievable concept of people singing and dancing in the workplace for no apparent reason.

(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 09/06/11. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)

(Note: Bates Motel GIF “borrowed” from the Movie Forums site, found here.)

Bonnywood Manor

tumblr_mu7nuaBJ6e1qa70eyo3_500

  1. Thelma and Bleu Cheese

An unhappily-married woman gets fed up with, well, everything, so she hops in a car and decides to just drive places and see what happens. All of her girlfriends have mani-pedi appointments that they don’t dare break, so Thelma is forced to take along a bottle of salad dressing to keep her company. The two of them stop for cocktails at a trendy sushi and martini bar, where there is a misunderstanding about global warming and an uneducated bigot ends up dead.

Rather than being rewarded for this thinning of the herd, Thelma and Bleu Cheese are instead accused of not liking men very much, a concept that is unfathomable to most straight males and therefore worthy of incarceration. Thelma and Bleu make a run for it, but after a few poor decisions and some windswept cinematography, the girl and the condiment find themselves trapped with…

View original post 1,383 more words

LIVE: The Golden Age of TV Drama (III)

LIVE: The Golden Age of TV Drama (III)12 Angry Men

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday and the continuation of our series on notable episodes of live anthology dramas of the ’50s. Over the course of these five weeks, we’ll be highlighting seven original teleplays written by some of the medium’s most talented writers. A handful of these are available on DVD, and some of them have even been adapted for feature films. Today we’re looking at Studio One‘s September 20, 1954 production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, among the industry’s most unforgettable of television plays due to its later adaptation into a critically acclaimed 1957 motion picture. The premise is well known even to those who have never actually seen a production (and if you’ve been following our Sitcom Tuesday posts, you’ll know it’s been spoofed on everything from That Girl to All In The Family), but for those who need a refresher . . .

91Dilpmk88L._SY445_

Almost the entire play occurs in the deliberation room as a jury of 12 men debate the guilt of a young man accused of killing his father. At first, there’s one sole holdout, Juror #8, who votes “not guilty,” but through his presentation of the facts and emphasis on denying any “reasonable doubt,” he’s able to convince most of his peers — including wise old Juror #9, a man who grew up in poverty like the defendant, Juror #5, and Juror #11, a patriotic immigrant. Juror #4, an analytical man who finds it difficult to reject an eyewitness testimony, the ready-to-leave Juror #7, and the bigoted Juror #10 are harder to convince, but they all come around. The lone holdout at the end is impassioned Juror #3, whose strained relationship with his own son manifests in him a desire for vengeance.Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 11.32.26 AM

As one can imagine, the action is confined to a small space, and the text therefore has to rely on the characters and their interactions with each other for the bulk of the drama. This design, coupled with its courtroom drama premise, infuses the play with electricity, allowing the strength of the piece to exist in Rose’s combination of personalities. Thus, both the strengths and weakness (yes, there are a few) of Twelve Angry Men are also dependent on the characters. For instance, the drama of #3’s conviction to find the boy guilty elicits the play’s most powerful moments (especially in contrast to #8’s conviction to the opposite), but the other characters who never get proper development, like #6 and #12,  leave the audience wanting. Yet in this case, one can imagine that Rose’s formula is maybe more realistic — in any jury, some are going to be more talkative than others, and perhaps its foolish to want every character to get equal exposure. If they did, I would likely complain that the writer went overboard trying to flesh them out. So, in this vein, most of the critiques of the piece can be dismissed, for what we have here is potent enough to render any fault inconsequential.

 

However, in production, the play will only work if cast well. And both the 1954 TV production and 1957 film are exceptionally star-studded. Check out the graphic above to see the cast lists (and note that “Norman Feld” is actually Norman Fell), which also includes the line-up of the 1997 film; you’ll see it’s littered with stars as well, but because I don’t think the production adds much to the work, I am excluding it from today’s discussion. I do recommend seeing it, however, for the performances. Meanwhile, I am going to assume that most people reading today’s entry have screened the 1957 film, although if you haven’t, I suggest you do so right away, for its reputation as a classic is well earned. I don’t have a lot to say about the motion picture, besides the fact that with 40+ extra minutes, the pace of the dialogue is slower, the not guilty verdict is 100% assured, there is more evidence presented (and not so straightforwardly), and the script attempts to make some of the thinly rendered characters, like Juror #2, played by John Fiedler (whom we’ve seen often on this site), more multi-dimensional.

But although most will disagree with me, the 1954 television production is actually my preference, for its tighter construction means that only what’s necessary is included. Additionally, the piece’s theatricality is allowed to exist on television, while the film, with all its close-ups and mood lighting, attempts to make the story cinematic. But 12 men in one room — that’s a play, so it runs best when treated as such. (In fact, Twelve Angry Men was adapted for the stage in 1955, but not by Rose. He did, however, make his own adaptation for the London stage in 1964. This version has been revived and toured around quite often since.) What also makes the television play more valuable than the motion picture is that the performances are less thoughtful. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a thoughtful performance — but too much introspection kills the authenticity. I find this exemplified in the performance of Henry Fonda, who, though smart and perfectly believable, lacks the sharp realistic edge of Bob Cummings in Studio One’s Production. Yes, our “romantic guy, I” is brilliant as Juror #8, for he is as steadfast as his opponents, but without some of the moral superiority plaguing the character’s depiction in the pedagogical film. I know most will prefer Fonda, but I’ve grown to appreciate Cumming’s less soft-spoken take. Even those who did make the transition in mediums, Joseph Sweeney and George Voskovec, give better performances while live, lacking that Hollywood polish.

12 Angry Men

But not all portrayals are better in the television play; Ed Begley commands more power as the racist Juror #10 than the otherwise great Edward Arnold, and John Fiedler is infinitely more memorable as Juror #2 than John Beal. (Of course, Fiedler was working with a more interesting character.) In other cases, the performances are mostly comparable. The one that’s the most different, however, is Franchot Tone (yes, one of Joan Crawford’s hubbies) and Lee J. Cobb’s varying portrayals of the primary antagonist, Juror #3, who can’t separate emotion from logic. Cobb is disheveled, angry, and iconically villainous, while Tone is businesslike, angry, and piercingly dangerous. While Cobb could be described as red hot, acting up a storm (and doing so believably), Tone plays only what is there. As far as this viewer is concerned, that’s all an actor needs to do. And while I believe Cobb more as the character based on his physical type, Tone gives a more layered performance. I don’t know if I prefer it, but it’s the type that you want to see several times.

1265782416_2 twelveangrymen-fonda-and-cobb-mgm

Now, I don’t mean to come down too harsh on the motion picture, as I know its fans may accuse me of doing. On the contrary, it’s fantastic — filled with great performances by a host of marvelous actors — and if you haven’t seen it in a while, you owe yourself a re-watch. But after you do that, check out the 1954 production, for the staging allows the text to play with less flash and the performances with less calculation. You may miss some of the film actor’s quirks and the parts of the story not included, but you could indeed find yourself liking the realism-driven television play better than the brooding film. I never thought I’d like something better than the 1957 production, but I do.

12112-angry-men-pic-1

Come back next Wednesday for more live TV drama! And tune in tomorrow for another Xena Thursday!

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday and the continuation of our series on notable episodes of live anthology dramas of the ’50s. Over the course of these five weeks, we’ll be highlighting seven original teleplays written by some of the medium’s most talented writers. A handful of these are available on DVD, and some of them have even been adapted for feature films. Today we’re looking at Studio One‘s September 20, 1954 production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, among the industry’s most unforgettable of television plays due to its later adaptation into a critically acclaimed 1957 motion picture. The premise is well known even to those who have never actually seen a production (and if you’ve been following our Sitcom Tuesday posts, you’ll know it’s been spoofed on everything from That Girl to All In The Family), but for those who need a refresher . . .

91Dilpmk88L._SY445_

Almost the entire play…

View original post 1,084 more words

Caitlyn Jenner’s New Name & Gender Is Officially Legal

Caitlyn Jenner’s New Name & Gender Is Officially Legal 

via CAROLINE CHU

caitlyn jenner officially legal

A judge has recently approved Caitlyn Jenner’s new name and gender. Jenner did not appear in court, but she will now be granted a new birth certificate that appropriately reflects her gender and name change. She began the process a week ago, filing the documents on September 15, 2015. Jenner requested that her name be changed from William Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Marie Jenner citing the reason of “to better match [her] identity.” She signed the documents as Bruce Jenner.

She learned about the difficult name-changing process by Drian Juarez, a representative of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, in the previous episode of I Am Cait. Juarez said:

“You have to go through the court-ordered process, which has been streamlined a bit… Before, you had to have gender-confirmation surgery before you could change your gender marker. There was advocacy done to change that, and now you just have to have clinically appropriate treatment to change your gender marker.”

In the same episode, Caitlyn replied, “After hearing all the struggles people go through because they don’t have the proper documentation, I realized that I should be a little bit more aggressive in dealing with this issue of my identity.”

Congratulations, Caitlyn!

Bruce Jenner in the 70′s

Caroline Chu

OBAMA TO ADMIT 100,000 REFUGEES INTO USA…

The Obama administration is preparing to announce a plan to admit more refugees over the next two years, but at this point the numbers being proposed are too small to relieve the crisis streaming out of Syria.

Wednesday at the White House, the most senior national security officials will discuss raising the limit on the number of refugees from around the world allowed to enter the United States — from 70,000 this year to 85,000 next year and 100,000 in fiscal 2017, three administration officials told me. If members of the National Security Council Principals Committee agree on the plan, it will be sent to President Obama’s desk, and administration sources say he is likely to quickly approve it.

The plan has the strong support of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, whose priorities often differ on the Syria issue. McDonough is focused on the fight against ISIS. Power wants to confront Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and do more to protect the civilians being killed by both.

The throngs of desperate migrants fleeing Syria and the images of children washing up on European shores have spurred the Obama administration into action, officials said.

The problem with the plan, no matter how quickly adopted, is how long it will take to have any effect. Migrants applying for refugee asylum in the United States now will not have their applications considered until at least 2017 because of a long backlog. And once an application begins to be considered, the asylum seekers can face a further 18 to 24 months before they are granted or denied asylum.

President Obama spoke about the refugee crisis Tuesday at the White House alongside the king of Spain. He said it was important for the U.S. to “take our share” of Syrian refugees and reinforced his pledge to allow 10,000 more into the country than previously planned in 2016.

“This is going to require cooperation with all the European countries and the United States and the international community in order to ensure that people are safe; that they are treated with shared humanity; and that we ultimately have to deal with the source of the problem, which is the ongoing crisis in Syria,” he said.

Last Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the policy process was underway to determine what exactly the asylum caps would be. He also acknowledged that whatever was decided, there was little chance that refugees fleeing Syria today would be able to enter the U.S. any time soon. The U.S. has accepted only 1,500 Syrian refugees since the war began.

“It’s not clear to me that anybody would be able to make their way through this process before the end of the next fiscal year if they’re just applying today,” he said.

Last week, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman convened a high-level meeting at the State Department to elicit other ideas for dealing with the mounting refugee crisis.

Human rights experts said that the United Nations has already referred over 16,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. for vetting, and the 10,000 increase would come almost exclusively from the backlog of Syrians who have already applied, not the people who are fleeing now.

“Becoming a U.S. refugee is not an immediate protection option,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch. “These numbers are a good start, but they are woefully inadequate, unbelievably late, and not a substitute for a policy that would ensure better protection for Syrians.”

Part of the problem, she said, is that the U.S. government has not addressed the growing refugee crisis for several years and is just now rushing to action. In its last budget request, the administration requested $2.45 billion for migration and refugee assistance — $600 million less than what Congress appropriated the year before. The $2.45 billion request is up from seeking $2.05 billion the year before. If Congress passes a continuing resolution, the funding would remain flat.

Officials say that there is resistance inside the government to taking in more refugees. The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration are overstretched already and fear not having enough money and people to keep up with an asylum expansion.

The politics of increasing refugee caps, even marginally, are also a problem for the White House. Democrats are asking the administration to take in significantly higher numbers of refugees. Top Republican lawmakers and a slew of presidential candidates have said recently that taking in more Syrian refugees presents a national security risk.

“I take ISIS at its word when it said … we’ll use the refugee crisis to infiltrate the West. That concerns me,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul on ABC’s “This Week.” “We don’t have the systems in place on the ground in Syria to properly vet these individuals. We don’t know who they are.”

Not all Republicans are sounding the terrorism alarm. Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, told me he is working with Senator Patrick Leahy on an emergency appropriations package for addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.

“If this is not an emergency, I don’t know what would be. We should take our fair share,” Graham said. “We are the good guys and gals. We’re supposed to be open minded about this.”

The White House, Democrats and Republicans all seem to agree that the only real way to solve the refugee crisis is to solve the Syrian civil war, but there’s no political resolution in sight and the administration has no intention of pushing the military balance against the Assad regime. The Syrian refugee crisis is going to continue and get much worse before it gets better.

The concern is that the White House, after announcing this new plan, will not try to do more. By announcing a modest increase over the next two years, and pledging to vet applicants closely, the president may succeed at navigating the politics of asylum, but the Syrian refugee crisis will only grow.  BY JOSH ROGIN

Related: Netflix: “Narcos” The Official Trailer 

tomfernandez28's Blog

<p>U.S. will help, a little.</p>
 Photographer: ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images

BY JOSH ROGIN

The Obama administration is preparing to announce a plan to admit more refugees over the next two years, but at this point the numbers being proposed are too small to relieve the crisis streaming out of Syria.

Wednesday at the White House, the most senior national security officials will discuss raising the limit on the number of refugees from around the world allowed to enter the United States — from 70,000 this year to 85,000 next year and 100,000 in fiscal 2017, three administration officials told me. If members of the National Security Council Principals Committee agree on the plan, it will be sent to President Obama’s desk, and administration sources say he is likely to quickly approve it.

The plan has the strong support of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, whose priorities often differ on…

View original post 890 more words