Scenes I Love: South Park Makes Handjobs Fun Again

I was first introduced to the Shake Weight by my friend Shaista (who, by the way, is not only really funny and smart but like totally and completely gorgeous too).    At the time, I was telling her about how much I love the Broadview Security Commercial where A.J. attempts to break into a house while the homeowner goes, “A.J?  A.J?”  And while Shaista agreed with me that A.J. was indeed an enigmatic bad boy who played by his own set of rules, she still claimed that the Shake Weight commercial was far more memorable.

When I actually did see the Shake Weight commercial, I found myself staring dumbfounded at the screen.  Finally, I think I managed to say, “Uhmm, don’t they realize that they all look like they’re…”  Well, anyway — instead of me going into all the details, let’s just watch one of the commercials:

Well, yes…other than mentioning that my arms must have been in really great shape back in high school, what can I say about that?  Luckily, I don’t have to say anything about that because last week, South Park said it for me.  Here’s the actual “scene that I love,” the Shake Weight commercial from Creme Fraiche episode of South Park:

By the way,  just to keep things fair, I’d just like to point out that there’s a Shake Weight for Men too. 

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Stagefright (dir. by Michele Soavi)

Director Michele Soavi is probably best known for directing the last great Italian horror film, Dellamorte Dellamore.  However, his word in that film has been so praised that, to a certain extent, Soavi’s earlier horror films have been overshadowed.  This is a shame because Soavi was (and is) a great director and — before he temporarily retired from films in the mid-1990s — he directed four of the greatest Italian horror films ever made.  The first of these films (and Soavi’s directorial debut) was the 1987 slasher film Stagefright.

As written by Luigi Montefiore (who, as an actor, was better known as George Eastman), Stagefright’s basic story function almost as a parody of a stereotypical 80s slasher film.  On a dark and stormy night, an eg0-crazed, cocaine-addicted theatrical director (played by David Brandon) is running a rehearsal for his latest show, a campy musical about a fictional serial killer.  However, even as his cast performs fictional mayhem on stage, a real killer escapes from a nearby mental hospital and makes his way to the theater.  After the real killer murders the production’s wardrobe mistress, the director decides it would be a brilliant idea to rewrite his show to make it about the real killer.  Not realizing that the real killer has snuck into the building, the director secretly locks his cast inside the theater and forces them to rehearse his new show.  As you can probably guess, mayhem ensues and blood (a lot of blood) is spilled.

That the film worked (and continues to work over 20 years later) is a tribute to the talent of Michele Soavi.  Obviously understanding that he was working with a genre piece, Soavi embraced the expectations of the slasher film and then pushed those expectations as far as he could.  The end result is a film that works as both an old school slasher film and as a commentary, of sorts, on the genre as a whole.  Soavi’s camera prowls every corner of the film’s theater, creating an atmosphere of truly claustrophobic dread.  To me, the most effective thing about the film is that, for once, our victims actually do the smart thing.  They stick together and try to fight off the killer as a group.  And they end up failing miserably in a scene of horrific choas that shows Soavi at his best.

Soavi started his career as an actor and appeared in a countless number of Italian horror films in the late 70s and early 80s.  (For whatever reason, Soavi always seemed to be getting killed in some awful way…)  Perhaps that’s why, of all the great Italian horror directors, Soavi always seemed to have the best instincts when it came to casting.  For a slasher film, Stagefright is well-acted by a cast made up of horror regulars.  Barbara Cupisti is a properly likable protagonist in the role of “final girl” while the great Giovanni Lombardo Radice does good work in the small role of Brett, a flamboyantly gay actor.  However, the film is dominated by David Brandon who snorts cocaine and barks out orders as if the fate of the world depended upon it.

(Soavi, himself, appears in a small role as an ineffectual policeman who, while people are dying all around, is more concerned with whether or not anyone else agrees that he looks like James Dean.  And, it should be noted, there was a resemblance.)

As opposed to a lot of other directors involved with the Italian horror genre, Soavi had (and, I hope, still has) a genuine love of film and that love is obvious in his stylish direction here.  There’s something truly exhilarating about seeing a movie made by someone who is truly in love with the possibilities of film and, because of that love, has no fear of pushing genre “rules” to their  extreme.

Cowboys & Aliens Teaser Trailer

Who would’ve thought that a comic book named Cowboys & Aliens will end up being one of the most anticipated tentpole films for the Summer of 2011. It’s a fun little book from Platinum Studios created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley with the artwork done by one Luciano Lima. The premise of the comic book is literally about cowboys and aliens. With the latter attempting to enslave humanity during the 1870’s and starting with the Wild West. In their plans for world conquest are a band of cowboys and Indians who band together despite their many conflicts and issues to combat a shared and greater threat.

The film was announced prior to the release of Favreau’s Iron Man 2 and was a surprising one. Many insiders thought he was a shoo-in to helm the planned Avengers film for Marvel, but instead he chose this project instead.

To say that Cowboys & Aliens steamrolled into production with so many heavyweights behind it would be an understatement. Favreau was already in the director’s chair and producing the project behind the scenes were giants of the industry like Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The cast roped in for the film was also quite impressive with Daniel Craig taking on the lead role with Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Clancy Brown, Keith Carridine, Walton Goggins and Paul Dano supporting Craig.

The very first teaser trailer has been released and could be seen above. While the trailer only shows only a little bit it does confirm that it will have cowboys and, from the brief glancing images, aliens. Cowboys & Aliens has a tentative release date of July 29, 2011 and joins other comic book-based films for that summer like Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern.

It will be interesting to see if Favreau keeps the bulk of the books storyline in the film or will he just loosely base the story on the books. One thing for sure, he and his crew have a tall order to try and tell this story and do it well enough that it stands out amongst the many comic book blockbusters and sequels set to appear in the same season. This film could be a real fun, action-adventure or it could easily turn into the second coming of Wild, Wild West. Here’s to hoping it’s the former and not the latter.