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Showing posts from 2009

The 46x60 or So Project, Pt. 4: Getting A Party Started Which Has Already Begun...

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I have called it quits. The building of The 46x60 or So Project: Roughly 5000 Films from 1964-Present is over. Well, at least, 99% of it is...
As of today, not counting 2009, which will not be finished until after the awards get announced early next year, from 1964 through 2008, these are the stats: Total Films on List: 4966Total Films Not on DVD: 1372 (27.62%)Total Films on List Seen Since April 2005: 725 (14.59%)Total Films Left to See: 2869 (57.77%) Average Films Per Year: 110.35 Biggest Year 1964-1969: 1964 - 101 films Biggest Year 1970-1979: 1973 & 1974 - 108 films each Biggest Year 1980-1989: 1987 - 127 films Biggest Year 1990-1999: 1996 - 139 films Biggest Year 2000-2009: 2006 & 2007 - 144 films each It seems like an awful lot of movies to watch, and it is. But, it is not so out of bounds as you might think.
Here's one way to think about it: Say you are an average person, and that you rent five movies a week from your local Blockhead-Buster. You watch maybe one a night…

The 46x60 or So Project, Pt. 3: Things Start to Get a Little Wonky...

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With my Tower of Film already swaying haphazardly in the skies above me, I was beginning to consider whether it was simply time to concentrate on watching the movies and writing about the experience of doing so.
But, there were still three crucial elements missing...
First, there were my DVDs. The thrust for the notion of adding my own collection from 1964 forward to the list was that, while a certain portion of films already entered into the 46x60 or So Project were also sitting on my shelves, there were a great many discs that I had purchased over the last couple of years of which I had yet to pause for a viewing. Since watching every available film in the project would allow me little time (or much in the way of interest) for watching films outside of it, the solution was to add every single film in my personal catalogue. Not only did this increase each year, on the average, by eight to twelve more films, cushioning the Project a tad more, but it would essentially force me to finally…

The 46x60 or So Project, Pt. 2: It's a Tower Built to the Heavens. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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The foundation was built, and it seemed like a decent enough place already to just skip building the new couple of floors, planting an aerial, and calling it a home. The list had already taken me about a month to create, and in my excitement, I had already started watching films in earnest. The first film I watched under the sway of this fresh delirium was 1965's Sean Connery army prison flick, The Hill, directed in truly brutal fashion by Sidney Lumet. If I had started going through the multitude of films on my list by encountering a true dud (and not one where I went in expecting vileness), I may have given up the entire project then and there. But The Hill so captured my attention that I knew straight off I had made the right choice.
But, the list itself did not seem robust enough to me. There were still films that I loved missing from the list, and films I had always wanted to see which were not appearing yet. I began to think about what was influential in the mid-60s. in the d…

The 46x60 or So Project, Pt. 1: Building a Tower of Film...

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I wanted focus, but the question was, "Focus on what?" I began to try and work out exactly where to begin reeducating myself in the film history of my lifetime. Do I start with a certain director and watch all of his available films straight through? It sounded good, but then I was likely to lapse into a state of cinematic paralyzation if I restricted myself to just one style without interruption, and how would I determine the best place to force an interruption if needed? How would I fit those moments into the plan? The same went for choosing one genre outside of my normal path and focusing on the landmark films within that genre. Except who was to establish what I should see within that genre? I considered focusing on stars, cinematographers with whom I have grown enamored and wished to see more of their work, even something as goofy as choosing a random key grip and then watching any film in which they were involved.
But, then it struck me... Considering my concerns regard…

A Preparatory Indulgence, Pt. 4: The Facts, Ma'am... (Maybe the Facts)

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On the Internet Movie Database, which most of us simply refer to as IMDb (small "b", thank you) and which has largely taken on a generally accepted position as the main online resource for instant movie information, I have (to this date) rated around 5,000 movies.

Let's get this straight from this point on: I know that I am not a complete poser. Despite what happened with The Last Detail and those other films, I am very certain of my love for the movies. It's like asking if I wish to continue breathing. And I have actually seen all of the films that I have rated on IMDb. I may not have seen some of those films for over twenty years or more, but I have seen them. The difference, though, is that I actually care and consider what I am rating on the site. 

Fully aware that the way I felt about certain films in my teens, twenties and even early thirties may not be the way I feel about those films now (and even considering the fact that I might have nothing left of the memo…

A Brief Interlude Concerning the Most Recent Halloween

Sure, a couple of days ago, I wrote about the theory that I might not actually be a horror fan anymore. For those watching me struggle with self-doubt here this week, please remember that this is all building to something. A point, if you must have a more definite term. It is really about a refocusing of purpose on my part, on shifting my attentions to a larger, more educational goal for myself regarding film.

It has never really been about whether or not I actually like horror films anymore, because I do. It is hard to enter the Halloween weekend and not watch monster movies when one has the collection of films that I do. In fact, this weekend, I ended up zipping through thirteen of the little buggers, mainly because I purposefully kept Halloween small, private and at home this year.

Not that I didn't make an attempt to make it broader and more public. I bought a pumpkin well over four weeks ago, but as of tonight, it is still sitting in the center of our dining table, uncarved an…

A Preparatory Indulgence, Pt. 3: Oh yeah, that's a really good one...

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I was lost in a cinematic un-wilderness of my own creation, so I threw myself into senseless social networking in order to run away from the painful notion that I was not really a horror fan anymore.
And then someone brought about the added notion that perhaps I wasn't even a movie fan at all.
It wasn't intentional on the other person's part. It was merely a simple question that led me to this state: "Surely, you've seen The Last Detail?"
For those out there who have never seen The Last Detail, it is an Oscar-nominated 1973 film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid, in which two MPs show a naval prisoner one last good time before they escort him to prison for what they consider to be an unfair sentence.
And no, I have never actually seen it. Never more than twenty minutes or so of it, and actually, what I had seen was the ending of the film when I ran into on cable by mistake. "What's this? Oh, it's Jack Nicholson with a …

A Preparatory Indulgence, Pt. 2: When 8 Films Turn Out to Actually Make You Die of Boredom

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Earlier this year, while already consumed with crawling along on the paths of numerous subsets of film obsession -- such as watching every movie in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film (still ongoing throughout my life) -- I took it upon myself to start watching all of the films released in the annual 8 Films to Die For festival, three years worth up to then and all of them easily obtainable on DVD. I had lined up all 24 DVDs in my Netflix queue, and the future held the promise of a few solid, blood-bedecked weeks of what seemed at first glance like good, gory bloodletting. 
Somewhere about seven films into the list, I realized that there was little here for which "to die," unless it was out of sheer ennui. You see, I entered into this latest round of compulsion still believing that I was a horror fan.
Let me qualify that statement. While my motto throughout my life has been "any film, any time," the twin poles of my movie obsession have been horror and science-fict…

A Preparatory Indulgence, Pt. 1: I've Been Here, I've Been Working on Something, and There Is No Problem

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The title above holds the answers to the questions most often asked of me over the past couple of months, during which time it seems I have taken some form of hiatus, purposeful or otherwise, from the Cinema 4 Pylon: "Where have you been?" "What the hell are you up to? You haven't been writing lately." "What's the problem now? Are you in another one of your funks?" Emails, phone calls, up close and personal... this is what I have heard, and not just from the usual suspects.
It's funny how you can write and write and write your ass off, and only a couple of committed, caring friends (and the odd stranger or two) will comment here and there, and you will begin to feel as if you were just another voice lost in the uncaring wilderness of the internet.
But, take an uncharacteristic amount of time away from something that people have locked you into their minds as being the sum of your being, and they begin to notice. Lately, I have received batches o…

Where could Rik Tod be? Why isn't he at the Cinema 4 Pylon?

Hmmm... sorry I can't be here at the Pylon on my birthday, or even at my normally scheduled appointment with corporate slavery.

I have a date with a certain exposition called D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Might even be seeing an exclusive preview of the new Tron movie, along with watching the original film. Might even get to see a screening of the new Walt and El Grupo documentary, or sift through 85-plus years of Disney-related ephemera and original drawings and the like.

Or I might be banging Daisy Duck. She does have that tail action going...

Happy Birthday to Me!

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 11 of 11: "Exquisite Corpse" Drawings 3 & 4

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Here's the final post of this series, featuring the other pair of "Exquisite Corpse" drawings done by my brothers Mark and Chris:


I remember my brother Chris was quite amused by the fact that with the Monster Dance Party he had drawn his image going off the page rather than into it. As a result, the drawings are going in opposite directions. Usually the practice is to carry the action towards the next possible drawing.

You will note that this final picture is different from the rest in that, instead of the paper being halved and then drawn on each opposite side, this time it was folded twice, so that there are four separate drawings, two each by my brothers:


Again, I will leave it to Br'er Mark to add his notes in the comment section. All I know is that I love these.

Thanks for the very few comments we have received on these. I hope that while most of you were not reading these posts you were out having a shitty time. We had a ball playing these games, and we were only …

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 10 of 11: "Exquisite Corpse" Drawings 1 & 2

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For the last two posts of this series, I am going to say very little, and let these combined drawings by my brothers Mark and Chris do most of the talking:



Pretty sweet. I love the randomness of their imagery, and how the two separate pieces play off each other in unexpected ways. I am uncertain of the order in which my brothers created all four of these pieces, so please check the comments below. I am fairly certain Mark will provide some notes on their process, and his continued memories of the experience.

Also, if you want to do your own experimenting, please see my first post in this series for instructions on how to do it, or look up "Exquisite Corpse" on Wikipedia. (You can even learn why the game is called by that name, or even how there is a reference to the game in Hedwig and the Angry Inch...)

[The final post will appear in a couple of days, and then the Cinema 4 Pylon will close the art gallery and begin its regularly scheduled movie griping again...]

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 9 of 11: "Bugs" Gone Awry, or References Only Brandon Lawrence Would Appreciate...

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I suppose that having eight out of the nine comic pages we created in our road trip drawing experiment come out even halfway readable/enjoyable should be enough. That's a pretty good batting average (for the record, .889 rounded up, baseball card-style). This one, which I shall not even finish giving a complete (or even pun-filled) title out of my exhaustion and frustration with the page, just simply did not work.

Here's the strip, and then we shall discuss:


See? It's sad it didn't work out, because this was the other strip in which we involved my nephew Aerin at the beginning (see the last post). His drawings adorn the first couple of panels, and it starts off with a decent enough premise. But, things went awry with "Bugs" quickly. It just never gets any of that "oomph" going... and then I made the fatal mistake.

I slipped in one of my left-field references -- not so much arcane, but merely aged in variety -- this time to an old vaudeville routine tha…

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 8 of 11: Puppet Snarkiness

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There was a certain inevitability to my nephew Aerin getting involved with our surrealist comic experiments. The kid may only be eight, but he draws up a storm. There are even times when it seems like he never stops drawing. Well, when he's not reading or playing with toys or building with Legos or all the other things that kids do. (These are also all things that, admittedly, his dad and uncles also continue to do despite, or because of, their ever-increasing dotage.)

We didn't even really need to persuade him much. All you have to do, in most cases, is draw anything, and Aerin will want to draw along with you. He was more than a little distracted, though, on our road trip with his own drawings to really get involved until we had already started over a half-dozen strips. But, soon enough, there was a lull in the overall activity, and so he and I were soon starting a strip. I took what he was probably thinking as a couple of mice atop a fence to be a pair of puppets and leaped …

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 7 of 11: The Legion of Something-Heroes

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[Edited 8/28/09, 10:00 pm]

Here we have yet another comic where things just went gonzo from panel one onward... what else will happen when you are confronted with a supposed superhero (or villain) wearing what appear to be oven mitts on his hands?

From brother Mark's opening panel, I went with the idea that this Hungryman guy (notice the trademarks on each hero name throughout) was sort of the spiritual counterpart to the real Legion of Super-Heroes' ridiculous but lovable Matter-Eater Lad. The idea is that he cooks constantly for the Legion rather eats everything in sight. I'm glad we didn't go with any true Legion members here, creating what could be another chapter of their Substitute Heroes wing (also a ridiculous concept -- why segregate potential, helpful heroes into a lesser subdivision? Seems like a breeding ground for villainy). We never learn the names of a couple of them... the crab guy -- who seems like a stand-in for Chameleon Boy -- and the weasel thing th…

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 6 of 11: Thrift Store Wheelchair

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I am going somewhat out of the order of creation by this point, but I have my reasons. Chiefly, I just wanted to get this comic up before the others, because we almost forgot about it when these were being scanned, and we found this one especially amusing while it was being drawn. The twist on this one is two-fold: it related to a story of which I was not aware when the comic was set up (and which I will not fully relate pending the approval of my brothers), but the boys were laughing quite a lot when it reached my hands. Obviously there was a joke that was beyond my ken at the moment, but I went with it, asking them not to tell me the whole story until my participation in the comic was concluded. The second twist is that the first panel was totally completed when I first saw it. I began writing from the second panel forward.

The major kick was how much we were all laughing over Chris beating the snot out of Mark in the comic, and of Chris bulking up to more and more Hulkian proportion…

Comics on the Road to Nowhere? Pt. 5 of 11: Guppy Hunter

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So, this strip was the point where we actually started to do our best to try and mess with the other guys. I still don't how or why the trio of pine trees showed up, but there they are. And I kind of love them, just like a coniferous Huey, Dewey and Louie. I also love the croc and I sorely wish the Rare Monster-Jawed Guppy hadn't, presumably, bitten it at the end, because I really wanted the character to talk. Somehow this silly strip actually worked out, and while I can't speak for my brothers, this was a huge surprise to me.

Here is comic #5, titled "Guppy Hunter" by Mark "Otis", Chris "The Eel" and Rik Tod Johnson. Enjoy...

Parallax