You’re the farm

I was stooged again by the missus and ended up at Southland Shopping Centre on Sunday.
She’s got a way of making lunch not seem like shopping and I fell for it again like the pasty I am.

So there’s a new Japanese that seems nice and the missus told me about the robots that bring the food like its a good thing.
We went there.
Bad move.

This joint’s automated and the first thing that happens is we get instructions from one of the humanoid kiddies:

1: select from the touch-screen
2: add to the cart
3: send the order
4: your food will be delivered
5: and pay at the counter when yr done

Then she gestures with an open hand to the cash register where there’s another possible humanoid with a permanent grin.

No immediate threat, I thought to myself but that was when I noticed what was behind her on the shelf. One of those Asian gold cats with the kitten-eyes and an arm that’s waving waving … always waving.

So while waiting for food and with one eye on that freaky cat, I watched.

All the actual human kiddies stood around essentially doing nothing until a robot arrived and then they unpacked the food dispassionately. No visible emotion, it was almost like they were trying to out-robot the robots.

Cold like the pot-stickers ultimately were.

A returning robot smacked straight into the chair leg of the table beside us.
I’m sitting there smiling at the farce and saying “stupid bloody robots” … just a little bit too loud.

And the missus is cringing because she knows that I could equally be commenting about:
a: the wait staff
b: the machines
c: the customers
d: the sheer absurdity of it all

But this old Polish bloke beside me at the next table is chuckling because he can overhear me.

Looking at him and smiling, I peck peck pecked the touchscreen for more food. Raising my eye-brows I said, “I feel like a chicken”, and exaggerated the pecking motion with my hand.

The bloke’s wetting himself while his wife is pretending to search her hand-bag and mine is pretending that this isn’t really happening.

Maybe its my weird sense of humour but I think its hilarious that I was actually ordering more chicken at the time.

WolfmanOz at the Movies #46


Biopics

. . . have been a staple of cinema for ever and a day in dramatising the life of a historically-based or non-fictional person or people. Such films show the life of a historical person and they differ from docudrama films and historical drama films in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a single person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their lives.

Back in the 1930s Warner Bros. embarked on a series of prestige biographical films starring Paul Muni which included The Story Of Louis Pasteur, The Life Of Emile Zola and Juarez. They have dated now and you can almost smell the greasepaint but they were immensely popular at the time.

In the 1940s we saw the emergence of biographical films featuring music composers whether it be classical eg. Chopin in A Song To Remember or contemporary with Cole Porter in Night And Day and Glenn Miller in The Glenn Miller Story; but as accurate representations they were more fiction than non-fiction.

In fact, it’s been a constant criticism of the genre in the way facts are distorted or even invented to serve the film’s narrative. We have seen this recently with the 5th season of the Netflix series The Crown.

One of my favourites in the way it focused on the most important years of a historical person is Franklin J. Schaffers’ Patton released in 1970. The film focused on U.S. General George S. Patton’s years during WWII and starred George C. Scott in the title role in a performance which I rank as one of the top 3 male performances of all-time. Scott totally immersed himself in the role in that he is General George S. Patton.

Because the figures portrayed are actual people, whose actions and characteristics are known to the public (or at least historically documented), biopic roles are considered some of the most demanding of actors and actresses, but are also often the most rewarding as a fair number of such portrayals have seen the winning of the Academy Award for either Best Actor or Best Actress.

A favourite of mine in regards to detailing the life story of a person is Richard Attenborough’s 1992 film Chaplin. Unlike his earlier Gandhi which I found to be a crashing bore, despite Ben Kingsley’s excellent performance, Chaplin is a very entertaining biopic of the legendary film comedian and boasts a superb performance by Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin.

Some other favourite biopics of mine I would recommend are Young Winston, La Vie en Rose, Michael Collins and even Bohemian Rhapsody (despite it being wildly inaccurate).

So what favourite biopic films do Cats enjoy ?

WolfmanOz at the Movies #44

Demonic Possession

It’s now 49 years ago that William Friedkin’s supernatural horror classic The Exorcist was first released (actually at Xmas in 1973).

The film is based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, which it follows very closely in depicting the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by a pair of Catholic priests.

The cultural impact of the film, which also encompassed its treatment of Catholicism helped it become the first horror film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture whilst it also became the biggest grossing box-office film of all-time (until the release of Jaws in 1975).

This is an unusual horror film in the way it is structured in that it doesn’t really have a main lead as it is largely an ensemble piece. Plus its main driving force, for me, is the crisis of faith in the character of Father Karras. The film was directed by William Friedkin who was the hot director at the time after the phenomenal success of The French Connection,

The film starts, eerily in Northern Iraq, where Father Merrin encounters a large statue of the demon Pazuzu.

The film then locates to Georgetown where an actress’s daughter gradually becomes possessed and is confined to her bedroom. After trying numerous medical tests, her mother, in an act of desperation, turns to Father Karrras, and, despite his ambivalence concludes that an exorcism is warranted where Father Merrin is summoned.

Ultimately both Father Merrin and Father Karras die during the exorcism but Karras sacrifices himself in tricking the demon to possess him as he hurled himself out of the window to his death.

The film is an exhausting experience with the viewer continually assaulted with images and sounds that still horrify today. For many the impact it had was visceral in that some viewers suffered adverse physical reactions, fainting or vomiting towards scenes in the movie.

Over the years it was followed by numerous sequels and prequels, none of which came remotely close to repeating the original’s success and impact.

Enjoy.

Rabz’ Radio Show November 2022: Movie Soundtracks

The use of music in movies generally takes two forms – building or essaying the mood of a particular scene, (“the score”) or the use of a particular song (or theme) to emphasise a scene’s context.

I’ve only got about four movie soundtracks in my collection that I’m aware of – they include:

Betty Bleu (1986)

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Colors (1988)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Bought those soundtracks mainly because they included songs I loved by artists who weren’t in the collection, or the whole soundtrack stood on its merits. Whoever curated the Full Metal Jacket soundtrack for example, did very well indeed.

Other classic soundtracks I love include Animal House and Quadrophenia, both featuring the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie”, which legend would have it, was the subject of a long running (31 months) FBI investigation due to allegations the lyrics were allegedly laced with profanity, graphically depicting (that’s enough of that – Dover) culminating in this legendary finding: (FBI Agents were) “unable to interpret any of the wording in the record.”

Something that does get on my goat is the incongruous, completely out of context use of songs in movies – see for example the use of Jr Walker and the Allstars’ “Shotgun” in “Misery”.

Two songs that anyone who’s seen the films will immediately recognise:

Theme from Betty Bleu – Gabriel Yared

Misirlou – Dick Dale

Enjoy, people! Please post freely, especially your favourite songs or music from various films, of which there should be many. Again, I’m barely scratching the surface here. Plenty of space in the comments section, so go for it. You know you want to.

WolfmanOz at the Movies #42

Fast Eddie

The seedy atmosphere of the pool hall was never better portrayed than in Robert Rossen’s 1961 drama The Hustler.

Starring Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson, a small-time pool hustler who wishes to break into the big-time of professional high-stakes pool wagering by challenging the best player in the country, the legendary Minnesota Fats.

Eddie’s first encounter with Fats ends with him being thoroughly beaten after well over a day of non-stop playing despite being ahead at one stage.

Afterwards, Eddie meets Sarah, an alcoholic crippled woman whereupon he starts a relationship. In the meantime, he also encounters Bert Gordon a professional gambler who had seen him lose to Fats. Bert later tells Eddie that he has talent as a pool player but has no character -a “born loser”. but nevertheless offers to stake him.

Sickened by Eddie’s obsession with pool and the world he inhabits, and humiliated by Bert, Sarah commits suicide which devastates Eddie.

Returning again to challenge Fats, Eddie finally beats him forcing him to quit and despite threats by Bert, Eddie rebukes him, compliments Fats and walks out.

I’ve been endlessly fascinated by this film, in the way it captures the obsession of one man who sacrifices his friends and the woman he loves to achieve his goal but in the end realising it wasn’t worth the sacrifice. Paul Newman has never been better in arguably his best film performance. Ironically he won the coveted Best Actor Oscar he so desired 25 years later for playing the same character in the forgettable sequel The Color Of Money.

Supporting Newman is George C. Scott who’s terrific as the manipulative and cold gambler Bert and Jackie Gleason brings a real presence as Fats.

I did find the romanic sub-plot somewhat less interesting than the dramas in the pool halls, mainly because the black and white widescreen cinematography is simply outstanding in engaging the viewer in the machinations of pool.

Enjoy.