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Showing posts from March, 2017

The 50 Something or Other Songs of 2016: Part 1

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Here we are, so deep into March you can taste April at the back of your brain, and I have thus far put off doing the second version of an exceedingly fun project that I inaugurated last year. In January of 2016, I had just read Rolling Stone’s The 50 Best Songs of 2015, and realized about halfway through that I had heard hardly a song on their list. While I own thousands of albums in my music collection, my interests in recent years has been in tracking down obscure items or adding to the discographies of my already favorite artists, not in seeking out new music that might expand my palate and range. I would perhaps purchase and download a couple of dozen new albums per year, but not really go out of my comfort zone. And radio was a mystery to me. My wife’s car radio is usually tuned to stations that play classics from the ‘70s, ‘80s and some ‘90s (and that radio is under her control). I only heard the latest pop music in malls and grocery stores, or if dropped into a TV show or movie…

Hail to Commando Cody! Or Whatever Name You Have This Week...

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This image is of actor Tristram Coffin (or most likely a stuntman wearing the suit) as Jeffrey King aka Rocket Man (not Commando Cody YET) in King of the Rocket Men, a fun serial released by Republic Pictures in 1949. The clear (and acknowledged) inspiration for Dave Stevens' sublime comic character, The Rocketeer, the history involving this "Rocket Man" suit is pretty convoluted, as it was used to represent three different characters in three otherwise unconnected serials by Republic. And a TV series. And two feature films edited from the serials. And then the tributes to the character(s) muddled things up even further...

At the beginning, there was simply King of the Rocket Men. In 1952's Radar Men from the Moon, another actor named George Wallace (not the racist politician George Wallace nor the comedian who still carries the name) employed the suit as Commando Cody (mostly through the use of edited footage from the first serial). That same year, just six months la…

To the Devil, a YouTube Video...

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Finally, after years of trying to find a copy, I have gotten to watch Ken Russell's The Devils (1971), starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave. Shudder recently added the film to its streaming service, and I was overjoyed at the chance to finally see it, though I knew the film was not going to be a walk in the park. The Devils is certainly my cup of tea, but I do not recommend it to any but the most sturdy of film completists, Ken Russell nuts (I am assuming my pal Andrea is with me on this?), or those that are fond of genuinely crazy and shocking but well-crafted films.

The Devils – which is generally considered to be a horror film though most of the time it comes off as more of a historical religious drama, albeit one with a high level of surrealistic imagery, dark comedy, extensive nudity, and disgusting moments – has a long history of censorship and controversy owing to its content and imagery. (No surprise: the Catholic Church is deeply involved in all of this.) A complete v…

This Week in Rixflix #2: March 17-23, 2017

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It was an off-kilter week, with some "small world" coincidences taking place just before one of these movies in a theatre (Get Out) that made the world about two sizes smaller for me. One week before possibly having jury duty had me scrambling to burn through a bunch of stuff on my watchlist on Netflix and from amongst the zillion TCM movies on our always too crowded DVR. I saved the big stuff for other posts on this site in weeks to come, but here's a quick recap and some capsule reviews...

This week's feature film count: 14; 11 first-time viewings and 3 repeats.
Highest rated films: Get Out (2017) and The Uninvited (1944) – 8/9 each.
Lowest rated film: Area 407 (2012) – 3/9.

Pete's Dragon(2016) Dir.: David Lowery – I saw Disney's original Pete's Dragon in a theatre way back in 1977. However, I had just turned 13 and I had seen Star Wars a couple of times before then. The cinematic world as I had known it had been completely turned on its ear by the Force, a…

I Forever Can Tell: RIP Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

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"Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode / Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell and lookin' like he should"– "Garden Party", Ricky Nelson

I had been aware of Chuck Berry for most of my life. For me, above all others, he was the real king of rock ’n’ roll. As a kid in the early ‘70s, I would hear Chuck’s music on the radio and on TV, as first American Graffiti and then Happy Days brought about a wave of ‘50s music nostalgia that was inescapable at the time. It seemed everybody in the world knew Johnny B. Goode and Maybellene, myself included, even if I didn’t own any of his records. But then we did end up owning a couple of K-Tel/Ronco collections of novelty songs. On one of those records was Berry’s extremely silly 1972 song (and, shockingly, only #1 hit), My Ding-a-Ling, with its double entendre (but still gentle) lyrics coming off so goofy that most parents couldn’t really even get mad at it. While Chuck did not write the song (it w…

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