The Shattered Lens Live Tweets The First Day of 2021

Happy 2021, everyone!  However you chose to welcome the new year, I hope you’ve managed to recover.

Today was the first day of the New Year and, for me, it was also a day to start a new list of films.  It’s something I and a lot of people do every year.  We keep a list of every film that we watch and, of course, the idea is to see as many possible.  In 2020, I watched 820 films at least once.  (Some films, like It’s A Wonderful Life, I watched several times but, for list purposes, I only counted the first time.)  This year, I’m hoping to watch at least 1,000.

I watched Thank God It’s Friday as a part of #FridayNightFlix, which is a weekly live tweet that I host.  Every Friday, at 10 pm et, we watch a movie.  So far, we’ve watched Starcrash, Ator, Split Image, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, Robot Monster, and now Thank God It’s Friday.  If you’re reading this and you’re on twitter, consider yourself invited to next Friday’s film.

As always, the work here at the TSL Bunker is never done.

Still, for the most part, the first day of 2021 was a rather mellow and peaceful one and, after 2020, I don’t think anyone can complain about that.  One thing about almost everything being on hold right now is that it gives us a chance to reflect and think about both the past and the future.  For instance, I spent a good deal of today staring at my film collection and realizing that I need to spend this entire year watching every piece of physical media that I own, if just to make sure that they all still work.  So, you can consider that one of my resolutions for 2021.  I will sit down and watch all of the movies that I own.  And maybe I’ll even review them!

I wasn’t the only one making resolutions around here, of course.  Patrick also set himself up for a challenge:

That was pretty much it for today.  I watched some movies.  I listened to some music.  And I made some last-minute resolutions for the new year.  It was a quiet day but it was a good day.  I can’t complain about that.  Instead, we can all sing along:

Have a good year everyone.  Keep reading.  Keep listening to music.  And as always, keep watching, talking, debating, discussing, and making your opinions known!  Let’s make 2021 a year to be remembered!


Cannonball Run II (1984, directed by Hal Needham)

In 1981, director Hal Needham and star Burt Reynolds had a surprise hit with The Cannonball Run.  Critics hated the film about a race from one end of America to the other but audiences flocked to watch Burt and a group of familiar faces ham it up while cars crashed all around them.  The original Cannonball Run is a goofy and gloriously stupid movie and it can still be fun to watch.  The sequel, on the other hand…

When the sequel begins, the Cannonball Run has been discontinued.  The film never explains why the race is no longer being run but then again, there’s a lot that the sequel doesn’t explain.  King Abdul ben Falafel (Ricardo Montalban, following up The Wrath of Khan with this) wants his son, The Sheik (Jamie Farr, returning from the first film) to win the Cannonball so he puts up a million dollars and announces that the race is back on.  Problem solved.

With the notable exceptions of Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, and Adrienne Barbeau, almost everyone from the first film returns to take another shot at the race.  Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise are back.  Jack Elam returns as the crazy doctor, though he’s riding with the Sheik this time.  Jackie Chan returns, riding with Richard “Jaws” Kiel.  Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. return, playing barely disguised versions of themselves.  They’re joined by the surviving members of the Rat Pack.  Yes, Frank Sinatra is in this thing.  He plays himself and, from the way his scenes are shot, it’s obvious they were all filmed in a day and all the shots of people reacting to his presence were shot on another day.  Shirley MacClaine also shows up, fresh from having won an Oscar.  She plays a fake nun who rides with Burt and Dom.  Burt, of course, had a previous chance to co-star with Shirley but he turned down Terms of Endearment so he could star in Stroker AceCannonball Run II finally gave the two a chance to act opposite each other, though no one would be winning any Oscars for appearing in this film.

Say what you will about Hal Needham as a director, he was obviously someone who cultivated a lot of friendships in Hollywood because this film is jam-packed with people who I guess didn’t have anything better to do that weekend.  Telly Savalas, Michael V. Gazzo, Henry Silva, Abe Vigoda, and Henry Silva all play gangsters.  Jim Nabors plays Homer Lyle, a country-fried soldier who is still only a private despite being in his 50s.  Catherine Bach and Susan Anton replace Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman as the two racers who break traffic laws and hearts with impunity.  Tim Conway, Don Knotts, Foster Brooks, Sid Caesar, Arte Johnson, Mel Tillis, Doug McClure, George “Goober” Lindsey, and more; Needham found room for all of them in this movie.  He even found roles for Tony Danza and an orangutan.  (Marilu Henner is also in the movie so I guess Needham was watching both Taxi and Every Which Way But Loose while casting the film.)  Needham also came up with a role for Charles Nelson Reilly, who is cast as a mafia don in Cannonball Run II.  His name is also Don so everyone refers to him as being “Don Don.”  That’s just a typical example of the humor that runs throughout Cannonball Run II.  If you thought the humor of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was too subtle and cerebral, Cannonball Run II might be right up your alley.

The main problem with Cannonball Run II is that there’s not much time spent on the race, which is strange because that’s the main reason why anyone would want to watch this movie.  The race itself doesn’t start until 45 minutes into this 108 minute film and all the racers are quickly distracted by a subplot about the Mafia trying to kidnap the Sheik.  Everyone stops racing so that Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. can disguise themselves as belly dancers to help rescue the Sheik.  By the time that’s all been taken care of, there’s only 10 minutes left for everyone to race across the country.  After a montage of driving scenes and a cartoon of an arrow stretching across the nation (the cartoon was animated by Ralph Bakshi!), we discover who won the Cannonball and then it’s time for a montage of Burt and Dom blowing their lines and giggling.  Needham always ended his films with a montage of everyone screwing up a take and it’s probably one of his most lasting cinematic contributions.  Every blooper reel that’s ever been included as a DVD or Blu-ray extra owes a debt of gratitude to Hal Needham.  Watching people blow their lines can be fun if you’ve just watched a fun movie but watching Burt and Dom amuse themselves after sitting through Cannonball Run II is just adding insult to injury.  It feels less like they’re laughing at themselves and more like they’re laughing at you for being stupid enough to sit through a movie featuring Tony Danza and an orangutan.

The dumb charm of the first Cannonball Run is nowhere to be found in this sequel and, though the film made a profit, the box office numbers were still considered to be a disappointment when compared to the other films that Reynolds and Needham collaborated on.  Along with Stroker Ace, this is considered to be one of the films that ended Reynolds’s reign as a top box office attraction.  Cannonball Run II was also the final feature film to feature Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  This could be considered the final Rat Pack film, though I wouldn’t say that too loudly.

Cannonball Run II is a disappointment on so many levels.  It’s hard to believe that the same director who did Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper could be responsible for the anemic stunts and chases found in this movie.  The cast may have had a good time but the audience is left bored.  Stick with the first Cannonball Run.


Here’s The Latest Trailer for WandaVision!

Well, it’s a new day and I guess that means that it’s time for another enigmatic trailer for WandaVision.  It’s been interesting to note that, even with all the trailers that Disney Plus has released for this show, it’s still hard to get a definite feel for just what exactly WandaVision is going to be.  That’s not a bad thing, of course.  The enigmatic is intriguing.

Judging from the trailers that have been released so far, this is either going to be brilliant or a disaster.  I don’t really see much room in between those two extremes. I am going to guess that Wanda and Vision are living in some sort of alternate reality, one that Wanda constructed from a lifetime of watching old TV shows.  That’s my guess, anyways.  I’ve come across a few people online who have a much darker interpretation — i.e., Wanda is actually in some sort of coma and the entire show is her dying fantasy of having a perfect life with Vision.  I mean, seriously — that would be like a Marvel show from the darkest timeline.  I would have to put a blue streak in my hair if that happened!  (“Life got dark!” to quote Britta Perry.)

Anyway, this latest trailer continues to mix comedy with darkness.  I’ll definitely give this show a try, if just because I love both Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen and I don’t feel that either one of them has really gotten all of the opportunities that they deserve.  Disney Plus, obviously, is hoping that they’ll have another Mandalorian-style hit with this one and it is interesting to consider that, with the pandemic and all, this will be the first new MCU release in a year.  To a certain extent, the reception of this show will answer the question of whether or not the MCU can continue to thrive after the apocalyptic conclusion of Avengers: Endgame.  The show will be available on Disney Plus on January 15th so we should have our answers in just another two weeks!

Here’s the latest trailer:

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Best of 2020 Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

I should admit that, despite the title of this post, I’m not really ready to list my picks for the best of 2020.  I’ve still got a lot of movies that I need to watch before I can do that and I plan to do just that over the next two weeks or so.  (I’ll start posting my annual “best of” lists on January 16th.)  If 2020 is like every other year, it’s possible that my current top films might not even be in my personal top ten by the time we reach the middle of this month  It happens.

That said, the four shots below are from four of the best 2020 films that I’ve seen so far.  These are films that, as of right now, are definitely in my top ten.  Again, I’ve still got a lot of movies to watch but I suspect that these four films will all remain on my list of favorites.

One thing I’ve noticed, from looking over the shots that I selected, is that all four of the films deal with characters who feel isolated and trapped.  That’s certainly not a representation of how I usually feel but I do think it’s a good description of how everyone has felt, at least once, during the pandemic.  Though none of the films featured below have anything to do with the Coroniavirus, they are films that still capture the way many people are feeling right now.

Here are….

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Assistant (2020, dir by Kitty Green)

Bad Education (2020, dir by Cory Finley)

The Girl With A Bracelet (2020, dir by Stéphane Demoustier)

i’m thinking of ending things (2020, dir by Charlie Kaufman)

These films are all worth watching and, if you haven’t seen them yet, you really should correct that.  i’m thinking of ending things is on Netflix.   The Assistant is on Hulu.  When last I checked, The Girl With A Bracelet was available on Prime.  Bad Education is on HBO Max.  Give them all a watch if you haven’t aready.

Happy 2021, I Guess!

Well, it’s finally 2021!

Did everyone have a good New Year’s?  For those of us who spent New Year’s eve at the Texas Offices of Through the Shattered Lens, it was a very, very rainy holiday.  The rain, of course, didn’t stop a few people around here from trying to make a lot of noise.  When I got home from welcoming the arrival of the new year, my neighbor was outside in his front yard, trying to set off firecrackers.  He just couldn’t seem to understand why they weren’t going off.  I was just like, “Hey, dumbass …. it’ been raining for 48 hours straight!”  I didn’t actually say that, of course.  One of my resolutions for the new year is to be nicer and more positive.  So, instead, I just said happy new year.  Later today, I may stick a few pins in a voodoo doll.  I’ll deal with my annoyance in my own way.

Last year, on this date, I made a lot of promises about what we were going to do on this site over the upcoming 12 months.  I would say that we were probably able to keep 70% of those promises.  Unfortunately, the pandemic changed a lot of our plans.  For instance, I was planning on doing a whole new series of Back to School reviews but it just didn’t feel appropriate with so many schools not reopening due to the lockdowns.  By that same token, my plan to review a batch of political movies in the summer became a bit less appealing as the presidential election kicked into full swing.  Once I saw that 2020 was going to be like, “You have to pick either Trump or Biden,” I no longer felt like writing about anything political.

Still, I think we did a lot of good work in 2020 and we’re going to do even more good work in 2021.  What do we have planned for 2021?  If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable.  I’m hoping to finally do another round of Back to School and Shattered Politics reviews.  I’m also hoping to do another Embracing the Melodrama blogathan.  For this month, I’m planning on catching up with whatever 2020 films I still need to see and review.  I’m also going to be sharing my “best of” and “worst of” lists.  Mostly, though, I’m just planning to review whatever catches my attention.

I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the TSL crew as we explore 2021.  Personally, I still think that the upcoming decade is going to eventually be more like the 70s than the 60s.  People can only be scolded for so long before they say, “Screw this, I’m going to have a good time no matter what.”  But we’ll see.  Who knows what the future holds?  Whatever it is, we’ll discover it together.

Happy 2021, everyone!  Let’s not mess it up.

Artwork of the Day: No Swimming

by Erin Nicole

A few years ago, I took this picture on the campus of Richland Community College.  At the time, I liked the contrast between the tranquil campus and the harshness of the sign.  As peaceful as the creek looked and as content as the campus’s ducks may have been, there was also danger.

I took a semester at Richland and I still like to visit the campus with my camera.  As you can see in this picture, there’s a picturesque creek that runs through the campus.  Both students and ducks love the creek.  (The ducks are so popular that Richland even named its mascot the Thunderduck.)  Even those who are no longer or were never students at Richland enjoy going up to the camps and walking along the creek.  It’s impossible to look at the creek without being tempted to jump in and go for a swim.  A few years ago, a man who wasn’t even enrolled at the college gave into the temptation and drowned.  I’ll follow the sign’s advice.

I picked this for today’s artwork of the day because I feel like the first day of a new year is much like that creek.  You want to dive right in but there’s still dangers.  That’s especially true this year.  Are you going to swim or not?

Music Video of the Day: Clowny Clown Clown by Crispin Hellion Glover (1989, directed by Crispin Glover)

Let’s start 2021 with Crispin Glover.

The song Clowny Clown Clown comes from Glover’s first album, The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be.  The album, which also featured Glover covering songs like These Boots Are Made For Walking and The Daring Young an On The Flying Trapeze, was released in 1989 and the liner notes invited anyone who could figure out what the “Big Problem” was to give Glover a call.  The liner notes included a phone number that you could call, which was apparently Crispin’s phone number at the time.  The number has since been disconnected so don’t waste your time trying to give Crispin a call.

Before making this video, Glover was best-known for playing George McFly in Back to the Future and for nearly kicking David Letterman in the head during an interview in 1987.  Much like Joaquin Phoenix’s infamous later appearance on Letterman, it is believed that Glover was attempting an Andy Kaufmanesque stunt during his first appearance, as well as trying to promote an upcoming film.  (The film was Rubin and Ed, which was filmed in ’87 but wouldn’t be released until 1991.)  On March 28th, 1990, Glover returned to Letterman’s show, where he discussed his music and where a clip from the Clowny Clown Clown video was shown.

Below is Glover’s first appearance on Letterman:

Here is Glover’s subsequent performance, in which he attempts to explain himself and shows a clip of this video:

While I think it’s clear the Glover was playing a role in both of his appearances, I’m not sure if Letterman was in on the joke as he seems to be genuinely annoyed during both interviews.  Of course, back then, genuinely annoyed was Letterman’s default interview style.

Back to Glover’s album, if anyone knows the Big Problem or its solution, let us know in the comments and we’ll try to get word to Crispin.