Lift your cardboard 3-D glasses in respect

Lift your cardboard 3-D glasses in respect.

Sidney Pink, the film producer who is considered the father of the feature-length 3-D movie, has died. He was 86.

Pink, who is also known for giving Dustin Hoffman his first big break, died Saturday at his home in Pompano Beach, Fla., after a long illness.

He produced more than 50 films, including the groundbreaking 1952 three-dimensional feature “Bwana Devil.”

Pink was also the writer/producer on a couple of my faves: the ultra-weird Angry Red Planet, Journey To The Seventh Planet, the Danish Godzilla-knockoff (aaahh! monster in Copenhagen!) Reptilicus, and a bunch of late-60s Italian exploitation movies. IMDB entry here

Hooray for Turner Classic Movies!

I just spotted it while scanning through the TiVo lists last night and then TCM’s monthly email confirmed it.

TCM is showing The Bed-Sitting Room, a completely bonkers post-apocalypse movie with Spike Milligan, Dudley Moore, and Peter Cook.

Filmed on location at a refuse dump in West Drayton, England, The Bed-Sitting Room is best viewed as “theatre of the absurd”; the unconventional narrative is little more than a series of bizarre and macabre sight gags and incidents revolving around a bomb-decimated civilization. To give you some idea of its strangeness, radiation poisoning causes several of the characters to mutate into something else in the course of the film: a housewife into a cupboard, a policeman into a sheepdog, a prime minister into a parrot, a member of Parliament into a bed-sitting room (hence the title). Amid the radioactive ruins, however, these nuclear holocaust survivors go about their lives as if nothing has changed – a policeman still directs traffic even though there isn’t any, a television reporter picks through the debris, issuing news reports through hollow TV sets.

Set your VCRs/TiVos because this isn’t available on DVD or tape.

TCM is also showing Them! this month which I can watch again and again. How can you go wrong with giant ants in the L.A. storm drains?

Two articles on Minority Report

I saw Minority Report on opening night, but didn’t get prompted to comment about it until after I read these two articles:

The first from the Village Voice:

Minority Report is the new lord of the allegories, dethroning that movie whose screenplay was basically rants from Society of the Spectacle with the word “Spectacle” crossed out and “Matrix” written in in crayon.

Difficult to imagine Cruise or Spielberg, avatars of wealth, privilege, and domesticity, lasting more than five minutes in a Philip K. Dick worldview. Dick, like Burroughs and Kubrick, is all about the disintegration that occurs when doubt unravels belief in a Perfect System. Dick didn’t believe in systems or in Mom and apple pie, which is why he seems so prophetic now, when the corporatization of consciousness has become such a totalizing, repressive, and relentless force.

And the second from Slate

Minority Report has virtuoso grit, but it wipes off with one swipe, like waxy buildup in a commercial. Philip K. Dick’s original hero dreads noir betrayal by his dame; Tom Cruise’s wound is the morally irreproachable loss of a child. (Cruise says boosting the kid theme was his big script contribution.) Cruise is great, huffing street drugs like the Bad Lieutenant – but his grief lets him off the moral hook. What’s his depraved kink? Watching 3-D home movies of his angelic son and his perky ex blushing coyly in a PG negligee.

Sure Minority Report pushed the right tech buttons and will give nightmares to the Adbusters set, but it didn’t sit well with me. It’s basically a wind-up toy movie. Events happen for no other reason than to advance the plot. After stewing on it for awhile, I’m now convinced that the movie ended when Anderton went down for the count in the stasis chamber and that everything that transpired afterward was his dreaming.

Still it’s nice to know that Broguiere’s Dairy will still exist in the future – and that it’s milk will still be sold in glass bottles

Things I haven’t done in years part 2: The Drive-In

vineland-driveinSo over the weekend, I did something I haven’t done in years… Went to the drive-in! I don’t know why I thought of it, and I didn’t even know if there was one left in LA/OC, but a short web search turned up the last drive-in movie theater in the Los Angeles area: the Pacific Vineland up in the City of Industry.

Sort of a long drive up from Garden Grove, but totally worth it to escape the unrespectful who chatter away on a cell phone, kids that won’t shut up, and the whole damn rigamarole of going to the suburban theater hive.

It was a total blast.

You can bring as much food and drinks you want. It was cheap ($6 a person). The movies were first run features (the major features at the Vineland were XXX, Signs, Goldmember, and Spy Kids 2) and are double-billed with a second run flick (like Men In Black 2). You can adjust the volume. The seats were a lot more comfortable. In short, pretty much everything I would want out of a regular theater that you can’t get anymore

So there are a couple of drawbacks… The Vineland is right next to the train tracks so there was one brief moment when we couldn’t hear because of a passing train. There’s a neighboring industrial plant that is a little over-eager with there security lighting (but that wasn’t a big deal after the initial shock). And yeah, there’s that whole rain issue, which is negligible in Los Angeles anyway.

I’ve always had a “if I won the lottery” dream of opening up a revival drive-in theater and show nothing but old black and white noir and atomic bug movies (with a gourmet concession stand), but for reality – I’m happy with the Vineland (may it live on)

Look for a drive-in theater near you.

Kaj Pindal’s “What On Earth!”

Jason Kottke jogs my memory and reminds me of the wonderful Canadian animated film “What On Earth!”. This film shows what many Earthlings have long feared (and what Martians might logically deem to be the case) — that the automobile has inherited the Earth. An animated film, it shows life on Earth as one long, unending conga-line of cars. The Martian visitors judge them to be the true inhabitants of Earth, while we seem to be parasites infesting the autos. I recall seeing this on an ancient cable network in the 70s – probably Z Channel or maybe Select. It’s been on Cartoon Network’s “Oh Canada!” show a little more recently. Still remember the snappy theme music.

K. Gordon Murray

“How far, can the human mind penetrate the mysteries of the great beyond? Who Knows? This picture, is based upon an extraordinary experiment, carried out by Doctors Hughes and Tooney of the University of Los Angeles. There is no doubt as to its authenticity; testimony of people participating in the experiment, sworn to by a notary public, preclude the possibility of any fraud! This picture is a combination of factual data, mixed with fiction.” — From The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy

A mad scientist creates a robot (armed with radium no less!) to steal treasure guarded by a centuries-old mummy. Folks, thank producer/distributor K. Gordon Murray for this and 65 other horror/exploitation movies – mostly imported from Mexico. MST3K fans might recognize him as the US “producer” of Santa Claus

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