April 11, 2017

The 14th Factory

Not long ago I paid a visit to 14th Factory in Los Angeles. I already posted the video. Now here are the still photos.

14th Factory - 2001 Room (1151)

14th Factory - 2001 Room Exterior (3820)
People waiting to get into the replica "2001" room
.

14th Factory - Nine Gamma (3811)
This is their trademark (I guess)
which I read as "nine gamma," but that makes no sense, not even in context, so I don't know its significance.

14th Factory (1159)
One of the pieces of art was this park
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14th Factory (3836)
Pitchforks!

14th Factory (3844)
The item on the left resembles a plow
.

14th Factory (1172)

14th Factory (3865)

The complete set of photos is here.

permalink | April 11, 2017 at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2017

All Of MST3k

Here are reviews and a ranking of all 176 episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here's the #1 episode:

1. Ep. 910, The Final Sacrifice, 1990

Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: Troy, to grizzled old prospector: “You knew my father?” Servo: “KNOW him? He was delicious!”

We’re finally here: The #1 episode of MST3k of all time. If you’ve actually been reading this piece from start to finish, the quality of the light outside has almost certainly changed since you begun. Perhaps you started before lunch, and the sky is now purpling with a beautiful sunset: The kind of sunset that Zap Rowsdower would stare into pensively, while thinking “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun.” Yes, that’s the name of our Canadian hero: Zap Rowsdower. The dumbest, and thereby most unforgettable name in cinema history. He teams up with a young, snarling-faced kid named Troy to take on an evil cult that wants to revive an ancient, powerful Canadian lost civilization that “ruled this one acre for a week; nobody knew.” The dynamic between the Larry Csonka-worshiping, irritating Troy, who is searching for the cause of his father’s death, and the beer-swilling drifter Rowsdower is the stuff of MST3k legend. Every minute of screen time is packed to the gills with more memorable moments than you can possibly summarize, from eye-rolling “Canadian villain Garth Vader” to grizzled old prospector Mike Pipper, whose tortured voice is a source of constant riffing. It showcases the incredibly obscure, geeky sense of humor that is at the heart of this show, such as Servo’s comparison of Pipper to Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. I mean honestly—what show has both the knowledge and the faith in its audience to make jokes about Ethiopian history? What show on TV, before or since, has had such depth and breadth to its sense of humor, and drawn on so many different influences? What other show can make you laugh so hard, but simultaneously teach you so much, and give you a greater appreciation for cinema itself?

That’s why MST3k is the greatest TV comedy of all time. And by extension, I suppose that makes The Final Sacrifice the greatest TV comedy episode of all time. Long may it reign.


permalink | March 15, 2017 at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2017

OMG! OMG! OMG!


Coming on FX March 5.

permalink | February 19, 2017 at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2017

Kodachrome?

At CES "The Kodakery" spoke with several representatives from Kodak. Most of the discussion is about their Super 8 camera, but near the end Steven Overman discussed the return of Ektachrome and tosses off the comment that they are also "investigating" what it would take to bring back Kodachrome.

Here's the part with the "iconic films" discussion:

Discussing Ektachrome live from Kodak Studios at CES by The Kodakery

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permalink | January 10, 2017 at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2016

Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission

On Thursday morning last week I attended a 9 AM meeting of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in LA City Hall. They had two things on their agenda that morning: first was to consider designating the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Toluca Lake as a monument; second was to go visit and tour Hotel Cecil and the Catalina Swimwear Building. It was the second thing that I came for, but the Bob Hope house issue was very interesting.


Above is the Google Earth view of the estate.

Below is what the public could see from the street.

The place is owned by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. First the staff made its presentation with a slide show and talk all about how ultra famous Bob Hope was. Under Los Angeles law there are two different bases that can justify declaring something a monument. One basis is the usual: great cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. The second is that it was the home of a celebrity. The Bob Hope house was proposed (by a city council member) due solely to the celebrity status. Staff admits it has no cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. In discussion the Commissioners said that in L.A. they obviously are not going to declare every residence of every celebrity a monument or they would consume a significant portion of the housing market. But they agreed that Bob Hope was just about the most famous person in the world.

After the staff report the Foundation got up to make their comments. They were daughter Linda Hope and a couple of other people, one of whom may have been an attorney. They told us quite a different story than staff told. Right off the bat, Linda Hope said they had the wrong address. The correct address is 10346 Moorpark Street. Staff had supplied the address as 10350 Moorpark Street. No points for staff there. Then she went on to explain that while staff had described the house as French Chateau style, only the original house was French Chateau and that Dolores Hope had almost continually added wings and additions so that now the house was some sort hodge-podge of no significance. She also disputed their description of the grounds which staff said included a "one-hole par 3 golf 'course'." Linda Hope said it was only a small decorative thing that could not really be used for golf.

Worse, she said, was that there was no way the Los Angeles public could access the house. In the '90s the Hopes had considered making it into a museum, but quickly learned that since it was in a quiet upscale residential area with narrow streets, there was no way it could be a museum open to the public. So the Hopes' final instructions were to use the estate to help fund the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. The intention of the trustees was to sell it. The place had been sitting on the market for ages but not long ago the first decent offer was submitted. That was when the city council member asked that the Cultural Heritage Commission consider the property. The decent offer was immediately withdrawn.

Linda Hope listed all of the memorials to Bob Hope that are scattered over the Los Angeles area. She said each and every one of those was more significant to the legacy of Bob and Dolores Hope than the estate. Later, Commissioners said they were surprised by the list, not realizing there were already so many memorials; so obviously staff didn't do that research either.

A couple of residents got up to also speak against the designation, but the essence of their arguments was that Toluca Lake is a beautiful, quiet community and any kind of monument there would bring traffic, noise and lower property values. The President of the Commission interrupted both of those commenters (!) to tell them that was of absolutely no concern to this Commission.

One Commissioner suggested giving monument status to only the hedge and gate in front of the house, because those were the only things the public would ever see. I was pretty sure that was a joke, but the President went ahead and explained how impractical that would be.

Finally, a Commissioner made the motion to deny monument status and that was approved 5-0. The decision now goes to city council, since it had originated there and city council could overrule this decision.

The meeting was adjourned and we headed out on our field trip.

permalink | November 21, 2016 at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2016

Made In USA

This very well made little documentary is in the style of the classic factor tour films, but it builds very slowly like Ravel's Bolero. However, there is no "key change," if you get my drift, if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge.


from Nikias Chryssos on Vimeo.

permalink | March 14, 2016 at 09:57 PM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2015

Hitchcock/Kubrick

The Red Drum Getaway. This is great stuff.

permalink | October 23, 2015 at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2015

Monkey Chant

This year at Burning Man I got to fulfill my desire to participate in a monkey chant. The monkey chant is also known as "Kecak". The monkey chant is taught Monday through Thursday at HeeBee GeeBee Healers and then on Friday they do a big monkey chant in Center Camp. I was unable to make it to the big event on Friday because that's when we host our party at Burner Buddies. The chant requires a lot of physical activity as well as mental alertness as the changes come unpredictably.

Here's a longish video of the monkey chant in Center Camp in 2014. It's not too different from practice chants done earlier in the week. I suppose they expect a lot of newbies to join the chant, so some of what you see is teaching the chant. The action begins to pick up after the 4 minute mark.

Ideally, we would have made it look like something created by Hollywood choreographers, like this scene from The Fall which is possibly the most beautiful movie ever made.

permalink | September 24, 2015 at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2015

Thunderdome In Spherical Virtual Reality

This is the best video for conveying the atmosphere of Thunderdome. You can scroll around, up and down, while the video is running. And that's Thunderdome. Too bad they didn't get them chanting "Two may enter, one may leave." And while we're wishing for that, how come Tina Turner has never come to Burning Man and put in an appearance at the Thunderdome?

Obviously, a lot of stuff at Burning Man was inspired by the earlier Mad Max films, but the most recent Mad Max seemed to be inspired by Burning Man.

This is not the latest Mad Max. This was made from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

permalink | August 24, 2015 at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 5, 2015

Stonewall

Coming in September.

permalink | August 5, 2015 at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2015

John Waters at RISD

This year's commencement speech.

permalink | June 8, 2015 at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2015

Salton Sea?

An excerpt from the new documentary Breaking Point.

Silly Californians. I first heard of the Salton Sea in the 1960s when the highly educational The Monster That Challenged The World was broadcast on channel 9 in Kansas City. I thought "Salton Sea" was a ridiculous fictional name made up for the movie. Click here to watch the mandatory "punishing the sinners" scene that appears in every horror movie which was shot on location at the Salton Sea. Young Jody will never disrespect her mother again. One might bear in mind that this preceded Jaws by 18 years.

permalink | March 19, 2015 at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2015

Stay Over At Leonardo DiCaprio's Place

The Dinah Shore house (by Donald Wexler) that was purchased by Leonardo DiCaprio can be rented starting at $4,500. Here's where you can make your reservations and learn all about the house.
432 Hermosa Place, Palm Springs, California
The Google map view
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permalink | March 3, 2015 at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2015

Kirk Cameron's Big Night

Razzies for worst picture, worst actor, worst screenplay and worst screen combo were awarded to Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas.

The film has achieved the remarkable distinction of a 0% critics' rating on RottenTomatoes. Even the user reviews put it at only 31% approval.

On Metacritic, the numbers are different: 18% critics' rating (which is better), but only 1.6 (out of 10, IOW 16%) from ordinary viewers. All of the 5-star reviews from viewers sound like they were written by the same person, as they call claim radical transformations of the viewer. Like this one:

ATHEISTS: when you go to see this movie, do NOT go with your preconceived notions about Christianity. I went with mine and, well....I can in all honesty...they were utterly shattered. Kirk Cameron's speech to Christian in the car is so moving, so compelling, so convicting...I was brought to my knees in a moment of cognitive dissonance in which I ultiamately renounced my atheism because of an overwhelming desire to surrender my life to Jesus. I'm serious, guys. This film changed my life. And I really can;t say that about any other films.

Amazing. All these centuries of searching for the magic cure for atheism only to discover it in a really bad American movie. Makes you wonder why there aren't any good movies that shatter atheism.

permalink | February 22, 2015 at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2015

Cuba Gets Netflix

Yes, genuine, real streaming Netflix. Only $8/month, so the only challenge for a Cuban to overcome is finding eight U.S. dollars every month. Maybe this deal will serve mostly foreign diplomats and visitors to Cuba.

"[P]eople in Cuba with Internet connections and access to international payment methods will be able to subscribe to Netflix." Yeah. Just your average Cuban citizen.

permalink | February 9, 2015 at 05:58 PM | Comments (1)

January 8, 2015

"Brokeback Mountain" Shirts

Behold!
The Brokeback Mountain Shirts (2632)
These are the very shirts (and photo and closet door, for all I know) from Brokeback Mountain on display in the Autry National Center in Griffith Park
. The shirts are on loan. Here's a video of the ceremony when the shirts went on display.

For those who are asking themselves "Huh? Shirts?" (and I know there are at least a couple) here are some videos to help. I'm trying to avoid "spoilers" for the benefit of those who think the enjoyment of a story is less because you've finished it.

Here is the end of the movie where we see the shirts just as they are displayed in the museum. Technically, it's not a spoiler, but if you have even just a single crumb of human empathy you can tell what happened before that scene.

If you're still all like "huh?" here's the beginning of the shirt story. Sometimes a fight is just a fight. This is not a fight.

If you still don't get it, then here's a third clip showing the convergence of the shirts. Technically not a spoiler in my book.

If you need yet more clarification, it's time for you to go see the movie. Netflix has it on disc, but not streaming. But it is available for streaming on Amazon.

permalink | January 8, 2015 at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2014

"The Interview" To Be Shown In Los Angeles

Get $14 tickets here to see it in the 158-seat Silent Movie Theater at 611 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles 90036.

permalink | December 23, 2014 at 08:31 PM | Comments (4)

November 17, 2014

Harvard Beats Yale

Maybe the title should be "Social Advice For Those Who Refuse To Watch The NFL."

The movie is Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. Available on disc from Netflix or you can stream it from Hulu.

If you are one of those people who can't stand watching NFL football, but have been socially ensnared into a group of friends that do that and you don't have the spine or cojones to abandon your friends, then my suggestion may be for you. Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a movie about football (and Vietnam and the Ivy League and "Doonesbury" and Meryl Streep as a college girl and even Tommy Lee Jones) but it is not about the NFL. Not at all. Maybe the NFL gets mentioned once.

It's a documentary with a lot of talking heads. But they are Harvard and Yale graduates who are the talking heads, so they know how to complete sentences and synthesize abstract comparisons and otherwise display their skill in using multiple brain cells simultaneously. Like I said, it's not about the NFL.

But in addition to the talking heads they've got good film of the game. The game where Harvard and Yale played to a 29-29 tie, that is. The Wikipedia article for the film says that the game footage "was a color kinescope of the WHDH telecast." I would guess that the kinescope was made at the time the game was broadcast, or shortly thereafter and the kinescope was recorded on Kodachrome film, because the colors are very good. The film includes instant replays and they appear to be genuine, so either WHDH used videotape or the producers of the film faked them up very well. Then there is the play-by-play dubbed over by Don Gillis, an actual sportscaster who was with Boston's WHDH (and WCVB) from 1962 to 1983 - and after that he continued to host their candlepin program through 1996. In case it needs explaining, "candlepins" is not a different New England name for bowling. It's actually a slightly different game. I never played it, so all I know is that the pins are a lot skinnier than bowling pins.

The game itself has a short Wikipedia article, too.

The setup is this: Harvard and Yale have their "crosstown rivalry" going in New England. It's 1968, the Tet offensive was earlier in the year, Harvard and Yale are both undefeated. The Yale quarterback Brian Dowling, incidentally, had not played in a single losing game since he was in 7th grade. This is the last game of the season. Harvard had a weak coach and a mostly inexperienced team, having lost many of its experienced players to either graduation or the war. The Harvard quarterback that actually brought them to the tie, Frank Champi, was 25 years old and had already served in Vietnam.

Everybody knows how the game turned out because it's right there in the title, but it's how they got there and people's reactions to it (then and still today!) that make the film. I hope it's not a spoiler to tell you that with 42 seconds remaining in the last quarter Yale was ahead with a score of 29-13.

What makes the film work for me is that when they show game footage, all you see is football. There's grass (grass!), two teams, the crowds on the sidelines and the crowds in the stadiums. There are no commercial signs anywhere. Nothing at all is sponsored by Coca-Cola or Marlboro or Chevrolet. There is not even an ad for Narragansett lager. There is no jumbotron. No electronic markings appear magically on the field. There is no ticker running at the bottom of the screen. The fans do not do "the wave." There are no stupid announcers. Just one knowledgable announcer. It's like, you know, watching football. All that and what seems to have been a genuine, life altering, spiritual transformation that affected both teams and still affects them now.

Some info for those who did not walk the earth with the dinosaurs: there was a time when football games could end in a tie, and in 1968 college football did have the two-point conversion after touchdown.

If your friends insist that you have to watch football with them, you can get yourself off the hook by showing them this film. They might even thank you.

Addendum: 1968 was the "good old days" for some people, and that may mean less commercialism and more sportsmanlike behavior. But the other aspects to the "good old days" are clear in this film too. Both teams are all white, as far as I can tell, and both schools were still men only. Yale went coed the next year, 1969, but Harvard didn't go coed until 1977.

permalink | November 17, 2014 at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2014

Phone vs. Cinema

One would think that those who attend a screening that's part of the American Film Institute Fest would have some interest in and respect for film-watching. But not always, as one attendee pepper-sprayed another attendee after being asked several times to turn off her phone at the Chinese 6 in Hollywood this past Monday.

permalink | November 11, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2014

Returning To The Big Screen!

The Greatest Science Fiction Film Of All Time: 2001: A Space Odyssey has been digitally remastered and will open November 28 in the UK at a British Film Institute film festival. Go back and watch the original 1977 version (or whatever version of the original you can find) of Star Wars. If you were around in 1977, you will recall that its special effects blew us away. Now they look cheezily obvious. Then go watch 2001 which was made before most of you were born: 1969 1968! It still works. It still takes your breath away when it jumps to Jupiter space. And at the end you still don't know WTF was going on*. That's good cinema!

Appropriately enough, they've brought the trailer up to the standards of 2014:

HAL is still so sorry he couldn't open that podbay door.

*it's just a lengthy attempt to direct blame away from the opposable thumb and put it on some "space aliens."

permalink | October 21, 2014 at 03:37 PM | Comments (3)