Comedians (1979, directed by Richard Eyre)


“Laugh, you buggers, laugh!”

Set in Manchester, Comedians is about a group of working class men who are enrolled in an evening class for aspiring comedians.  Sammy Samuels (Linal Haft) and Mick Connor (David Burke) both tell jokes about being a member of a minority in England.  (Sammy is Jewish while Mick is Irish.)  George McBrain (Derrick O’Connor) works on a loading dock and tells stereotypically racist and sexist jokes.  Phil and Ged Murray (James Warrior and Edward Peel) are brothers and a tense comedy team.  Phil is desperate to become a star and escape Manchester while Ged is more laid back.  Finally, Gethin Price (Jonathan Pryce) is an aggressive comedian who is willing to take risks on stage.  Teaching the class is Eddie Water (Bill Fraser), a veteran comic who was a star during World War II but who has since faded into obscurity.  Gethin says that he’s lost his edge.

Bert Challenor (Ralph Nossek), a retired stand-up and an old colleague of Eddie’s, is in town.  Challenor is now the President of the Comedy Federation and he is scouting new talent.  Eddie’s class will be performing, between games, at a bingo hall.  Before the performance, Eddie admonishes all of them to stay true to themselves and to not pander to the audience with cheap, racist, or sexist jokes.  However, when Challenor drops by the class, he gives the comedians the opposite advice.  He tells them that getting laughs is the most important thing and the only way to do that is to make the audience like you.  Stick to the acceptable targets, move quickly from one joke to the next, and don’t make any of your humor too personal.

The bingo hall performance is the highpoint of Comedians.  Each student performs and each one has to make their own decision whether to follow Challenor’s advice or to stay true to what Eddie told them.  Some sell out and some don’t.  One act implodes on stage.  The bravest performance of the night is greeted by stony silence from the audience.  Each performance allows a look into the mind of the man telling the jokes, even the ones who are trying to hide behind Challenor’s advice.  After the performance, the students return to the classroom and consider what they’ve done and they’ve become.  Challenor comes to the class to offer some of the comedians a contract while dismissing the others as not being ready or worthy of his time.

Comedians started life as a play by Trevor Griffiths.  It opened in London in 1975, where it was directed by Richard Eyre.  Just as he would in the eventual film, Jonathan Pryce played the role of Gethin Price.  When the play moved to Broadway in 1976, Mike Nichols took over as director and Pryce was the only actor to make the transition from New York to London.  Pryce would go on to win his first Tony for his performance in Comedians.  In 1979, when Comedians was filmed for the BBC’s Play For Today, Richard Eyre returned to direct and Pryce, again, played the role of Gethin Price.

As a debate about what makes comedy “good,” Comedians feels especially relevant today.  The debate about how comedians should view their audience and the role that comedy should play in an unstable world is still going on today.  As opposed to the current argument that comedy should always “punch up,” Challenor encourages all of the students to punch down and to get laughs by appealing to the prejudices of the audience.  As Challenor suggests when giving his notes to the students, it’s more important to get laughs than to actually be funny.  As unsympathetic a character as Challenor is, Comedians does acknowledge that the students who got those easy laughs are also the same ones who going to escape the drudgery of working dead end jobs in Manchester.  Comedians like Gethin Price may stay true to themselves but they’ll also probably never become a star.

Very much a filmed version of a theatrical production, Comedians is undeniably stagey.  But the dialogue and the themes remains sharp and Pryce’s performance is still electrifying.  Unfortunately, several of the BBC’s Play For Today productions have been lost or destroyed but Comedians survived and can be viewed on YouTube.

Icarus File No. 6: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (dir by Terry Gilliam)


For many years, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was a film best known for not having been made.

In the past, we’ve used the Icarus Files as a way to write about filmmakers who flew too close to the sun of their own ambition and who plunged down to the sea as a result.  However, in the case of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the sun is not director Terry Gilliam’s ambition.  Instead, the sun is a combination of shady financiers, natural disasters, and film industry silliness that seemed to all conspire to keep Gilliam from making his film.  And yet, unlike the real Icarus, Gilliam insisted on continuing to fly, regardless of how many times he crashed into the ocean.

Terry Gilliam first started to talk about adapting Migel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote into a film in the late 80s.  The tale of a Spanish nobleman who becomes convinced that he’s fighting giants when he’s actually only jousting with windmills, Don Quixote sounded like an obvious project for Gilliam.  Gilliam’s films have always dealt with the power and importance of imagination.  However, it’s often forgotten that Gilliam’s protagonists are often both saved and eventually destroyed by fantasy.  (One need only think about the end of Time Bandits, in which the young main character goes on the journey of a lifetime but then watches as his parents blow up in front of him.)  It’s easy to forget that Don Quixote dies at the end of Cervantes’s tale, having regained his sanity and having announced that his niece will be disinherited if she marries a man who has ever read a book about chivalry. 

From 1990 to 1997, Gilliam started pre-production on his version of Don Quixote several times, just for the production to be canceled.  Sometimes, this was due to Gilliam not being able to get the budget that he felt would be necessary to bring his vision to life.  Frustrated with the Hollywood studio system, Gilliam wanted to raise the money for and make his movie in Europe but this turned out to lead to a whole new set of financial and regulatory complications.

Filming finally started on the film in 2000, with Jean Rochefort playing a former film actor who thinks that he’s Don Quixote and Johnny Depp playing the director who fills the role of Sancho Panza.  Unfortunately, as shown in the poignant documentary Lost in La Mancha, the production seemed to be almost cursed from the start.  The footage from the first day of shooting was unusable, due to planes flying overhead.  The 2nd day of shooting was ruined by a flash flood that swept away much of the set.  Jean Rochefort injured himself and, despite his best efforts to act through the pain, he had to step away from the role.  Filming was suspended in 2000 and, for the next 16 years, Gilliam tried to find a way to get the stalled film started up again.  Many actors came and went, including Robert Duvall and, most promisingly, John Hurt.  Hurt agreed to play the role of Quixote but, just when it seemed that the film was finally going to go into production, Hurt passed away from pancreatic cancer.  A few months later, the original Quixote, Jean Rochefort, also passed away.  The film went back into limbo.

Finally, in 2016, a producer named Paulo Branco offered to fund the film.  Pre-production started up again, this time with Adam Driver in the Sancho Panza role and Michael Palin playing Quixote.  However, the project was soon once again stalled, as Branco wanted creative control of the film.  When Branco slashed both the budget of the film and Palin’s already reduced salary, Gilliam denounced Branco’s actions.  Branco suspended production but, by this point, Gilliam had already hooked up with another set of producers.  Jonathan Pryce replaced Michael Palin as Don Quixote and, finally, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was filmed!

Once filming was complete, however, Paulo Branco popped up yet again.  Claiming that he owned the rights to the story and not Terry Gilliam, he sued to keep the film from being distributed.  The courts ruled in Branco’s favor but Gilliam countered that he hadn’t used one frame of footage that had been shot while Branco was serving as producer and that, while Branco had the rights to his version of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, he did not have the rights to Gilliam’s.  While the lawyers argued, Amazon Studios withdrew from an agreement to distribute the film.  Once the case was finally settled, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was finally given a haphazard release in a few countries, often in edited form.

And that’s a shame because The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a delight.  It’s a film that is both playful and snarky, a celebration of imagination that also serves as a satire of Hollywood narcissism.  Adam Driver plays Toby Grummett, a director who returns to a Spanish village to direct an big-budget, epic adaptation of Don Quixote.  Ten years earlier, as a student filmmaker, Grummett shot a previous adaptation of Don Quixote in the same village.  When he tracks down the old shoemaker (Jonathan Pryce), who starred in his student film, he discovers that the shoemaker thinks that he is Quixote and that he’s become something of a tourist attraction.

And from there, the film follows Don Quixote as he takes Toby on a quest to fight giants and protect the helpless and to live a life of chilvary.  Along the way, Toby finds himself getting caught up in Quixote’s elaborate fantasy world.  It leads to a lot of comedy but there’s also something rather poignant about the old shoemaker’s attempts to be a hero and Toby rediscovering the love of fantasy and the imagination that he had when he was a film student.  And yet, it would be a mistake to assume that this film is simply a light-hearted fantasy.  The laughs are tinged with melancholy.  The enemies that Quixote and Toby meet are not just imaginary giants.  This a film that mixes comedy and tragedy in a way that few other films have the courage to do so.

As is typical with Gilliam’s later films, it bites off a bit more than it can chew but it’s still hard not to get caught up in it.  Driver and Pryce are both wonderfully cast and the film’s satire of the film business carries a sting to it.  Watching the film, it becomes apparent that Gilliam sees himself as being both Quixote and Toby.  The film’s ending seems to be Gilliam’s defiant message that he will always choose to fight the giants.

Previous Icarus Files:

  1. Cloud Atlas
  2. Maximum Overdrive
  3. Glass
  4. Captive State
  5. Mother!

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For November


Well, here we are!

We’re on the verge of the official start of Oscar season.  The Spirit Nominations have been announced.  The National Board of Review will be announcing their picks on December 3rd (I believe).  In just about a week from now, we’re going to be flooded by hundreds of different guilds and critics groups handing out awards and it will be a struggle to keep up.  With so many strong contenders this year, it’ll be interesting to see who actually emerges with the momentum.

(For instance, I don’t think anyone really took Mad Max: Fury Road seriously as an Oscar contender until it started sweeping all the critics groups in December.  And then we were all like, “Well, of course it’s going to be nominated for best picture….”)

With all that in mind, I’m going to go out on a limb with a few of my predictions below.  I mean, why not?  At this point, anything could happen.

To see how my thinking has evolved over time, be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October!

Without further ado, here are my predictions for November:

Best Picture

1917

Bombshell

The Irishman

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Parasite

Richard Jewell

Uncut Gems

Best Director

Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story

Joon-Ho Bong for Parasite

Clint Eastwood for Richard Jewell

Jay Roach for Bombshell

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Best Actor

Paul Walter Hauser in Richard Jewell

Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes

Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems

Best Actress

Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Charlize Theron in Bombshell

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

Renee Zellweger in Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy

Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes

Al Pacino in The Irishman

Joe Pesci in The Irishman

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell

Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers

Thomasin McKenzie in JoJo Rabbit

Margot Robbie in Bombshell

Zhao Shuzhen in The Farewell

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


It’s that time of the month, again!

(No, not that time!)

It’s time for me to present my predictions for who and what will be nominated for the Academy Awards next January!  Now that we’re nearly done with the summer, the Oscar picture is becoming a bit more clear.  For instance, I do think that Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is going to be a player, if just because it’s about actors and the Actors Branch is the biggest voting bloc in the Academy.  (How do you think Birdman and Argo managed to win?)  And the trailer for The Irishman makes it look like the type of Scorsese film that often gets nominated.

Still, it’s too early to say anything for sure.  Last year, for instance, Green Book didn’t really become a player until fairly late in the season.  In fact, at this time last year, everyone still thought A Star Is Born was going to win everything.

So, with all that in mind, here are my predictions for July.  Be sure to also check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, and June!

Best Picture

1917

The Aeronauts

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Fair and Balanced

Harriet

The Irishman

JoJo Rabbit

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Pain & Glory

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Pain & Glory

Kasi Lemmons for Harriet

Sam Mendes for 1917

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas in Pain & Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

John Lithgow in Fair and Balanced

Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

Rene Zellweger in Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon

Malcolm McDowell in Fair and Balanced

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes

Taika Waititi in JoJo Rabbit

Best Supporting Actress

Scarlett Johansson in JoJo Rabbit

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae in Harriet

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Meryl Streep in Little Women

Insomnia File #37: Evita (dir by Alan Parker)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

Last night, if you were in a hotel room in Alabama and you discover that you couldn’t get to sleep despite having a busy day ahead of you, you could have always turned on the TV and watched the 1996 musical extravaganza, Evita.

That’s what I did!

Evita, of course, is based on the award-winning musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Opening in 1952, with Argentina being thrown into mourning and chaos by the death of Eva Peron (Madonna), the film then flashes back to follow Eva as she goes from being a child of poverty to a well-known actress to eventually the wife of Argentina’s president, Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce).  The majority of her story is told to us by Che (Antonio Banderas), a cynical observer who pops up in various disguises and who is always quick to accuse Eva of selling out the poor while, at the same time, professing to be as obsessed with her as everyone else.  Much as they did with the story of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, Rice and Lloyd Weber use the story of Eva Peron to explore what it means to be a celebrity in an unstable world.

(If anyone ever decides to produce a musical about the Kardashians, they would be fools not to approach Rice and Lloyd Webber to write it.)

Evita is kind of a strange film.  On the one hand, it’s a wonderful spectacle.  Director Alan Parker does a wonderful job visually interpreting the music.  The sets are huge and ornate.  The costumes are to die for.  There’s never a moment when you don’t want to look at the screen.  Parker keeps the action moving and, regardless of how cynical one may be about politics, it’s hard not to be impressed by the army of extras that march through the film, chanting “Peron.”  While both the musical and film undoubtedly took liberties with the actual story (and don’t watch this film expecting to see any acknowledgment of the countless number of Nazi war criminals that Peron welcomed to Argentina after the fall of the Third Reich), it still does a great job of capturing the sweep of change and revolution.  You watch the film and you understand why the citizens of an unstable country would put their faith in messianic leaders like the Perons.  Jonathan Pryce does a good job playing Peron and Antonio Banderas is absolutely on fire as Che.

(In some stage productions, Che is specifically portrayed as being a young Che Guevara.  Guevara, of course, was a racist mass murderer who became an icon because he was photogenic.  Fortunately, the film is content to portray Che as simply being a politically active citizen of Argentina.)

And yet, there is an emptiness at the center of this adaptation of Evita and that emptiness is named Madonna.  Strangely, for someone who has been a star longer than I’ve been alive, Madonna has absolutely zero screen presence.  She looks glamorous enough for the part and she’s got a good enough voice for the songs but, whenever she actually has to act, Madonna’s performance feels awkward and forced.  Her performance is too obviously calculated, and, as a result, there’s nothing natural about her or her interpretation of Evita.  To put it simply, she tries too hard.  She comes across as the type of performer who doesn’t so much smile as she acts the process of smiling.  When Madonna performs opposite Pryce and Banderas, they’re both good enough to carry her through their shared scenes.  But whenever Madonna has to hold the screen on her own, the film falls strangely flat.

The end result is a strangely uneven film, one that leaves little doubt that Eva Person was loved while, at the same time, never seeming to understand why.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers
  10. Eye For An Eye
  11. Summer Catch
  12. Beyond the Law
  13. Spring Broke
  14. Promise
  15. George Wallace
  16. Kill The Messenger
  17. The Suburbans
  18. Only The Strong
  19. Great Expectations
  20. Casual Sex?
  21. Truth
  22. Insomina
  23. Death Do Us Part
  24. A Star is Born
  25. The Winning Season
  26. Rabbit Run
  27. Remember My Name
  28. The Arrangement
  29. Day of the Animals
  30. Still of The Night
  31. Arsenal
  32. Smooth Talk
  33. The Comedian
  34. The Minus Man
  35. Donnie Brasco
  36. Punchline

Here’s The French Trailer For The Man Who Killed Don Quixote!


It took a while but Terry Gilliam has finally made his Don Quixote film.

How long is a while?  Try 19 years.  That’s right.  When pre-production started on The Man Who Killed Don Quixtoe, Bill Clinton was President, George W. Bush was governor of Texas, Barack Obama was starting his first team in the Illinois State House, and Donald Trump was a real estate developer.  Shooting started in 2000 with Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp in the starring roles but was suspended when the production ran out of money.  In 2002, Lost in La Mancha, a documentary about Gilliam’s then-unfinished film, was released.

Gilliam didn’t give up on the film  Over the next couple of years, production was started and stalled a number of times.  Everyone from Robert Duvall to John Hurt to Ewan McGregor was cast in the film at one time or another.  I think most people assumed that the film would never be finished.

Well, those people were wrong.  Gilliam’s dream project has finally be completed, with Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver in the leading roles.  It would seem now that the film’s biggest challenge is to live up to all the hype and expectation that comes along with having a 19-year pre-production period.

As for right now, the film does not have an American release date but, yesterday, the first trailer for the French market was released.  And here it is!

A Movie A Day #296: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983, directed by Jack Clayton)


Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of my favorite films.

The place is Green Town, Illinois.  The time is the 1920s.  The carnival has come to town but this is no normal carnival.  Led by the sinister, Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce), this carnival promises to fulfill everyone’s dreams but at what cost?  Double amputee Ed (James Stacy) gets his arm and his leg back.  The lonely teacher, Miss Foley (Mary Grace Canfield), is young and beautiful once again.  Mr. Dark may bring people what they want but he gives nothing away for free.  Only two young boys, Will (Vidal Peterson) and Jim (Shawn Carson), realize the truth about the carnival but no one in town will listen to them.  Mr. Dark wants Jim to be his successor and Will’s only ally is his elderly father, the town librarian (Jason Robards).

As much a coming of age story as a horror film, Something Wicked This Way Comes takes the time to establish Green Town and to make it feel like a real place and its inhabitants seem like real people.  When Mr. Dark shows up, he is not just a supernatural trickster.  He is not just stealing the souls of Green Town.  He is also destroying the innocence of childhood.  Jonathan Pryce is both charismatic and menacing as Mr. Dark while Jason Robards matches him as the infirm librarian who must find the strength to save his son.  The confrontation between Pryce and Robards, where Pryce tears flaming pages out of a book, is the best part of the movie.  Along with Robards and Pryce, the entire cast is excellent.  Be sure to keep an eye out for familiar faces like Royal Dano, Jack Dodson, Angelo Rossitto, and especially Pam Grier, playing the “Dust Witch,” the most beautiful woman in the world.

Based on a classic novel by Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of the only Bradbury adaptations to do justice to its source material.

So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star: The Idolmaker, Breaking Glass, That’ll Be The Day, Stardust


So, you want to be a rock and roll star?  Then listen now to what I say: just get an electric guitar and take some time and learn how to play.  And when your hair’s combed right and your pants fit tight, it’s gonna be all right.

If you need any more help, try watching these four films:

Idolmaker

The Idolmaker (1980, directed by Taylor Hackford)

The Idolmaker is a movie that asks the question, “What does it take to be a star?  Who is more interesting, the Svengalis or the Trilbys?”  The year is 1959 and Vinny Vacari (Ray Sharkey, who won a Golden Globe for his performance but don’t let that dissuade you from seeing the movie) is a local kid from New Jersey who dreams of being a star.  He has got the talent.  He has got the ambition and he has got the media savvy.  He also has a receding hairline and a face like a porcupine.

Realizing that someone who looks like him is never going to make hundreds of teenage girls all scream at once, Vinny instead becomes a starmaker.  With the help of his girlfriend, teen mag editor Brenda (Tovah Feldshuh) and a little payola, he turns saxophone player Tomaso DeLorussa into teen idol Tommy Dee.  When Tommy Dee becomes a star and leaves his mentor, Vinny takes a shy waiter named Guido (Peter Gallagher) and turns him into a Neil Diamond-style crooner named Cesare.  Destined to always be  abandoned by the stars that he creates, Vinny continually ends up back in the same Jersey dive, performing his own songs with piano accompaniment.

The Idolmaker is a nostalgic look at rock and roll in the years between Elvis’s induction into the Army and the British invasion.  The Idolmaker has some slow spots but Ray Sharkey is great in the role of Vinny and the film’s look at what goes on behind the scenes of stardom is always interesting.  In the movie’s best scene, Tommy performs in front of an audience of screaming teenagers while Vinny mimics his exact moments backstage.

Vinny was based on real-life rock promoter and manager, Bob Marcucci.  Marcucci was responsible for launching the careers of both Frankie Avalon and Fabian Forte.  Marcucci served as an executive producer on The Idolmaker, which probably explains why this is the rare rock film in which the manager is more sympathetic than the musicians.

breakglass_lrg

Breaking Glass (1980, directed by Brian Gibson)

At the same time that The Idolmaker was providing American audiences with a look at life behind-the-scenes of music stardom, Breaking Glass was doing the same thing for British audiences.

In Breaking Glass, the idolmaker is Danny (Phil Daniels, who also starred in Quadrophenia) and his star is an angry New Wave singer named Kate (Hazel O’Connor).  Danny first spots Kate while she is putting up flyers promoting herself and her band and talks her into allowing him to mange her.  At first, Kate refuses to compromise either her beliefs or her lyrics but that is before she starts to get famous.  The bigger a star she becomes, the more distant she becomes from Danny and her old life and the less control she has over what her music says.  While her new fans scare her by all trying to dress and look like her, Kate’s old fans accuse her of selling out.

As a performer, Hazel O’Connor can be an acquired taste and how you feel about Breaking Glass will depend on how much tolerance you have for her and her music.  (She wrote and composed all of the songs here.)  Breaking Glass does provide an interesting look at post-punk London and Jonathan Pryce gives a good performance as a sax player with a heroin addiction.

thatll-be-the-day-poster

That’ll Be The Day (1973, directed by Claude Whatham)

Real-life teen idol David Essex plays Jim MacClaine, a teenager in 1958 who blows off his university exams and runs away to the Isle of Wright.  He goes from renting deckchairs at a resort to being a barman to working as a carny.  He lives in squalor, has lots of sex, and constantly listens to rock and roll.  Eventually, when he has no other choice, he does return home and works in his mother’s shop.  He gets married and has a son but still finds himself tempted to abandon his family (just as his father previously abandoned him) and pursue his dreams of stardom.

David Essex and Ringo Starr

Based loosely on the early life of John Lennon, the tough and gritty That’ll Be The Day is more of a British kitchen sink character study than a traditional rock and roll film but rock fans will still find the film interesting because of its great soundtrack of late 50s rock and roll and a cast that is full of musical luminaries who actually lived through and survived the era.  Billy Fury and the Who’s Keith Moon both appear in small roles.  Mike, Jim’s mentor and best friend, is played by Ringo Starr who, of all the Beatles, was always the best actor.

That’ll Be The Day ends on a downbeat note but it does leave the story open for a sequel.

stardust-1

Stardust (1974, directed by Michael Apted)

Stardust continues the story of Jim MacClaine.  Jim hires his old friend Mike (Adam Faith, replacing Ringo Starr) to manage a band that he is in, The Straycats (which includes Keith Moon, playing a far more prominent role here than in That’ll Be the Day).  With the help of Mike’s business savvy, The Stray Cats find early success and are signed to a record deal by eccentric Texas millionaire, Porter Lee Austin (Larry Hagman, playing an early version of J.R. Ewing).

When he becomes the breakout star of the group, Jim starts to overindulge in drugs, groupies, and everything that goes with being a superstar.  Having alienated both Mike and the rest of the group, Jim ends up as a recluse living in a Spanish castle.  Even worse, he gives into his own ego and writes a rock opera, Dea Sancta, which is reminiscent of the absolute worst of progressive rock.  Watching Jim perform Dea Sancta, you understand why, just a few years later, Johnny Rotten would be wearing a homemade “Pink Floyd Sucks” t-shirt.

Stardust works best as a sad-eyed look back at the lost promise of the 1960s and its music.  Watch the movie and then ask yourself, “So, do you really want to be a rock and roll star?”

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Trailer: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2nd Official)


Today we saw the release of the second official trailer for Paramount Pictures’ G.I. Joe: Retaliation (sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra).

This new trailer show’s a bit more of the plot that was hinted at in the first trailer. That trailer told us that the President of the United States has declared war on the Joes and the survivors of a preemptive strike on the team has to try and figure out a way to get their reputations back (plus show the world that the group Cobra is not the saviors they’re showed to be).

This new trailer expands on the film’s story and also gives a bit more detail on why Bruce Willis’ character, Gen. Joe Colton, was a big part of the formation of the G.I. Joes. That’s all well and good, but everyone going into this film knows all they want is some kick-ass action. The trailers shows that and more. Hopefully, the action scenes showed is just a hint of the action in this film.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is scheduled for a June 29, 2012 release.

Trailer: G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Super Bowl Spot)


If there’s a recent guilty pleasure of mine the past couple years it has to be 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. Yes, that film was a mess with iconic characters from the G.I. Joe franchise of toys and comics so miscast that it was difficult to feel any sort of attachment to them in the film. But for some reason the film was still entertaining in that dumb, but fun way certain films just end up becoming.

No one thought a sequel would ever be made after that first film, but it looks to have made enough money to justify one for the studios making it. This latest trailer and Super Bowl tv spot for G.I. Joe: Retaliation has The Rock quoting Jay-Z while showing some new sequences in addition to ones already shown in past trailers. We get to see a more than quick glimpse of Cobra Commander in his new, but recognizable facemask.

I’m definitely going to be watching this the weekend it comes out and with Channing Tatum barely being shown as being in the film then my wish that he may not make it past the early minutes of this sequel may have been answered.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is still set for a June 29, 2012 release date.