Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Obit watch: September 14, 2015.

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Moses Malone, legendary NBA player with the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs (among other teams). NYT. HouChron.

Frank D. Gilroy. Interesting story. He knocked around television for a while in the 1950s and 1960s, then had a huge Broadway hit with “The Subject Was Roses”…and then was unable to replicate that success, and spent the rest of his life knocking around movies and theater.

Obit watch: September 3, 2015.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I was thinking this morning: the first movie I have any recollection of seeing was the original The Love Bug at a drive-in somewhere in Virginia. NYT. Nice article in the WP.

Also among the dead: Ruth Newman, who passed away at the age of 113. Ms. Newman was a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

“She would tell us she remembered my grandmother being upset because they had just milked the cow earlier, and she had separated the cream and all and put it in containers that got thrown to the floor,” Ms. Dobbs said.

There is one known survivor still alive.

Ms. Newman attended a few of the annual earthquake commemorations in San Francisco. However, her daughter said that on some occasions, Ms. Newman preferred to sleep in rather than rise before dawn to attend.

Smart woman.

Obit watch: August 31, 2015.

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Noted film director Wes Craven. LAT. A/V Club. NYT.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, author (“Your Erroneous Zones”) and perennial fixture on PBS. Quoted without comment:

Dyer was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2009 but claimed to have treated it with positive thinking, daily exercise and “psychic surgery” performed remotely by the Brazilian medium João Teixeira de Faria, better known as “John of God.” He detailed the controversial treatment in an interview with Oprah Winfrey — for whom he was a friend and frequent guest for more than 30 years — in 2012.

Often promoted as “public television’s favorite teacher of transformational wisdom,” Dyer was a fixture on PBS for almost 40 years and became embroiled in a controversy over complaints beginning in 2006 that he was promoting a specific religious worldview in violation of PBS’ editorial policies.
Michael Getler, PBS’s ombudsman at the time, wrote in 2012 that it was “my sense” that Dyer’s advocacy strayed outside PBS’ editorial standards but that the PBS board disagreed with him.

An Oliver Sacks obit is coming, but his death was kind of personal for me, so I want to take a little more time.

Obit watch: August 6, 2015.

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I’ve seen some mentions of this elsewhere, but I wanted to go ahead and link to the NYT obit for John Leslie Munro, last of the Dambusters.

I also kind of want to see “The Dam Busters” now. I’m pretty sure it was on TV when I was a kid, but somehow I never caught it. And it doesn’t look like Amazon has it on instant video…

For hysterical raisins: reprinted LAT obit for Marilyn Monroe.

Paul Fussell’s “Thank God For the Atom Bomb”.

Obit watch: July 20, 2015.

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Interesting fact about the late Alex Rocco: he was also the voice of Roger Meyers Jr. (A/V Club.)

The A/V Club is also reporting the death of George Coe.

He went on to to appear in films like Kramer Vs. Kramer, and in 1968 was nominated for a Best Live-Action Short Film Oscar for “The Dove,” a satire of Ingmar Bergman films, which he both starred in and co-directed.

I have a copy of “The Dove” somewhere on my MacBook…

Mr. Coe was perhaps best known to contemporary audiences as the voice of Woodhouse in Archer.

Finally, Aubrey Morris has also passed away.

In a career of more than five decades, Mr. Morris brought a memorable touch of eccentricity to films including the cult thriller “The Wicker Man” (1973), Woody Allen’s “Love and Death” (1975) and Ken Russell’s “Lisztomania” (1975).

He was perhaps most famous for playing Mr. Deltoid in A Clockwork Orange.

Obit watch: June 23, 2015.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

This has been semi-well reported elsewhere (except, oddly, in the paper of record); James Horner. (Edited to add 2: NYT obit. In fairness, it appears that they were waiting for official confirmation from Horner’s people that he was actually flying the plane; other sources seemed to be basing their reports on “well, it was his plane, and he hasn’t called anybody since it went down to say ‘I’m alive!’, so…”)

Dick Van Patten: LAT. A/V Club. (Edited to add: NYT.)

(He was in “Soylent Green”? I need to watch that movie “again”, as I’ve only ever seen parts of it in the “edited for television” version.)

Obit watch: June 11, 2015.

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

It seems like all I’m doing this week is posting obituaries. I could do with a week where good people don’t die.

Ornette Coleman, noted jazz musician.

Christopher Lee: NYT. WP. A/V Club.

Not exactly an obit, but:

Spain gave its greatest writer, Miguel de Cervantes, a formal burial Thursday nearly 400 hundred years after his death, unveiling a funeral monument holding recently unearthed bone fragments believed to include those of the author of “Don Quixote.”

Edited to add: A/V Club obit for Ornette Coleman.

Lawrence challenged me to find some Coleman on YouTube that isn’t “unlistenable” (his word, not mine). I’ve never really acquired the ability to appreciate jazz, but I like this well enough.


Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Krazy-Glued Gun




(Previously on WCD. Hattip to Joe D. for the inspiration.)

Alligators? In my retention pond?

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

It’s more likely than you think.

(I know the linked article refers to a singular alligator, but there are other articles behind the Statesman pay wall that state there’s evidence of at least two gators.)

(That reminds me: did you know you can get “Gator” on blu-ray? You do now. You can also get “Operation C.I.A.” on DVD, but it’s one of those “produced on demand” DVDs.)

Random notes: March 6, 2015.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Pigeon King International sold breeding pairs of pigeons to farmers with a guarantee to buy back their offspring at fixed prices for 10 years. Initially, Galbraith told farmers that the birds were high-end racing pigeons and that he planned to sell the offspring to the lucrative markets that support the sport overseas. Later, Galbraith changed his story, telling farmers that the birds were part of his trailblazing plan to elevate pigeon meat, known as squab, from a fringe delicacy in North America into the next ubiquitous chicken. But in the end, “they were neither,” the prosecutor said; Galbraith never sold a single pigeon for sport or meat. He seemed to have merely taken the young birds he bought from Pigeon King International farmers and resold them, as breeding pairs, to other Pigeon King International farmers, shuttling pigeons from one barn to another. And this meant continually recruiting new investors so he would have the cash to buy the pigeons his existing investors produced every month. When Galbraith’s scheme finally fell apart, Pigeon King International had almost a thousand breeders under contract in five Canadian provinces and 20 U.S. states. He’d taken nearly $42 million from farmers and walked away from obligations to buy back $356 million worth of their baby birds, ruining many of those investors. A forensic accountant determined that signing up enough new pigeon breeders to pay off those contracts would have dug him into an even deeper, $1.5 billion hole.

Speaking of fringe delicacies, your yearly slideshow of rodeo food from the HouChron is here. The deep-fried bacon-wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cup sounds interesting, but it looks a little small; I have to wonder what the value proposition is. Deep-fried Nutella also intrigues me, as does deep-fried pecan pie.

Obit watch, continued: Albert Maysles, noted documentary filmmaker. A/V Club.

Confession: I have a fair number of Maysles’ films on Criterion DVDs. I tried to watch “Grey Gardens”: I got about 10 minutes into it and just couldn’t watch any more. I’m not exactly sure why, but there was something about it that just made me extremely uncomfortable…

Random notes: February 23, 2015.

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Am I understanding things correctly? They made a movie out of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law“? And it won Best Picture?

Ackquille Pollard is a rising young rapper under the name Bobby Shmurda. Mr. Pollard’s rap career has been temporarily sidetracked:

Mr. Pollard was arrested for what city prosecutors said was his role as the “driving force” and “organizing figure” behind the street gang known as GS9, an offshoot of the Crips. In one incident just a month before he was signed, prosecutors said, Mr. Pollard shot at his brother, shattering glass at a Brooklyn barbershop. He faces up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession; others charged, including Mr. Pollard’s childhood friends, face more serious accusations, including second-degree murder.

Mr. Pollard is being held on $2 million bail. And he’s upset that his record label hasn’t bailed him out.

But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

Obit watch: Herman Rosenblat. Mr. Rosenblat was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a memoir of his experiences. In that memoir, he told a story about a girl who threw an apple over the fence to him while he was in a concentration camp; later, after he moved to the United States, he met the girl again and married her.

This was, of course, a great story. Mr. Rosenblat made “Oprah” twice, got a book deal, and there were plans to turn his story into a movie.

And sadly, it turned out that Mr. Rosenblat completely invented the story about the girl and the apple. The book was never published and the movie was never made.

There is an Indian actor named Amitabh Bachchan. He’s apparently not well known in the United States, but he’s hugely popular in India. “He has appeared in more than 150 Bollywood films and served as a longtime host of the country’s wildly popular version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'” according to the LAT. He also had a small part in the 2013 “Gatsby”.

And because of that small part, a group of Sikhs in the United States are claiming Mr. Bachchan is subject to US jurisdiction.

The group has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. making the improbable argument that Bachchan’s work with a U.S. film company gives American courts the ability to hold him responsible for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India three decades ago. The group alleges that the actor, now 72, made statements that incited a violent mob.


The suit hinges on the Alien Tort Statute, which in recent years has become the center of a debate over whether American courts can and should be the arbiter of human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world by non-U.S. citizens. The 1789 law, which was passed by the first Congress and initially used in cases of piracy and stolen goods, states that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over wrongs “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

It seems unlikely this will work, at least according to the LAT: the Supreme Court has restricted the ability of plaintiffs to pursue claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and they are also likely to have issues accomplishing service on the defendant.

One Wisconsin suit was dismissed after it became clear the process server hired by the group mistakenly served another Sikh man with a long white beard and turban, not the chief minister of the state of Punjab. Hospital security and Secret Service agents proved a hurdle in serving another Indian politician at a New York cancer treatment facility. A case against Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister at the time of the suit, was thrown out after the U.S. State Department stepped in to declare to the court that Singh was entitled to immunity as a head of state.

On at least one occasion, the group resorted to offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who could successfully serve the lawsuit on Punjab’s chief minister.

Obit watch: January 22, 2015.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

John Bayley, literary critic and husband of Iris Murdoch. Bayley wrote Elegy for Iris about his life with Murdoch and her decline from Alzheimer’s disease.

Alan J. Hirschfield, former president of Columbia Pictures.

Hirschfield was the studio president during the David Begelman affair, and is one of the central figures in David McClintick’s excellent book Indecent Exposure.