Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

TMQ Watch: January 16, 2018.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Yes, we know, we’re way late. It doesn’t have anything to do with something we’ll get to in a moment. It’s just been a matter of it being relatively cold here in the greater Austin metroplex. And like a giant lizard or some other cold-blooded animal, we’ve been curling up and conserving body heat. (We also fell into a time sink Tuesday night reading the archives of Damn Interesting. But that’s another story.)

But the cold spell is starting to break. After the jump, this week’s TMQ. Plus: viewer mail!

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Obit watch: January 14, 2018.

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Some more from the past couple of days:

Keith Jackson, legendary announcer.

Edgar Ray Killen is burning in Hell.

David Toschi passed away a week ago Saturday. FotB RoadRich mentioned this to me in the middle of the week – he saw it on a low-rent cable channel – but I had a lot of trouble finding a good obit. I couldn’t find the actual obit on SFGate: I was only able to get at an arthive.org version.

Anyway, “David who”? He was a famous San Francisco PD detective. He was one of the lead investigators on the Zodiac killings.

He was removed from the case after revelations that in 1976 he had sent several letters praising his own work to a San Francisco newspaper writer under fake names.
“It was a foolish thing to do,” he acknowledged at the time.

I don’t remember where I picked up this detail (maybe in the archive.org version), but that “newspaper writer” the NYT doesn’t name? Armistead Maupin, who was working as a reporter for the SF Chron at the time.

But that wasn’t the only reason he was semi-famous, at least among us common sewers connoisseurs:

Mr. Toschi was a personality in the police department even before his involvement with the Zodiac case, so much so that Steve McQueen had borrowed from him for the fictional police officer he played in the 1968 movie “Bullitt.”
“They literally were filming in my dad’s office,” Ms. Toschi-Chambers said. “My dad took off his jacket, and Steve McQueen said, ‘What is that?’ And my dad said, ‘That’s my holster.’ And Steve McQueen told the director, ‘I want one of those.’ ”

(I wonder what that holster was: and if it’s out of production, how much do vintage ones go for? There’s a discussion on defensivecarry.com, but I can’t judge how accurate it is.)

Clint Eastwood also drew on Mr. Toschi for his portrayal of the title character in “Dirty Harry,” Don Siegel’s influential 1971 movie about a San Francisco police inspector, Harry Callahan, who hunts a psychopathic killer. Mr. Toschi, though, was bothered by Callahan’s penchant for administering his own brand of justice. He is said to have walked out of a screening of the movie, which was released when the Zodiac investigation was in full swing.

(Damn shame. He missed out. And I still haven’t seen “Zodiac”.)

Edited to add: this might lead to a longer post later, but: there are certainly worse hobbies in the world than engaging in Steve McQueen cosplay. Though I will concede that could get expensive quick, especially if you go full “Bullitt” and start looking for a Mustang.

Obit watch: January 8, 2018.

Monday, January 8th, 2018

A roundup of obits from the past couple of days:

John Young, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle astronaut. NASA.

Jerry Van Dyke, noted television actor (“My Mother the Car”).

Peggy Cummins. She’s mostly forgotten now – she stopped acting in the 1960s – but she was the female lead opposite John Dall in the famous 1950 noir film “Gun Crazy”.

Start with a badass, end with a badass: Ulrich Wegener, founder of the German Border Protection Group 9 (aka Grenzschutzgruppe 9):

The unit, also known as GSG-9, was created after the September 1972 attack on the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Palestinian militants kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. Ill prepared for terrorism, and lacking a tactical sniper team, the German police botched an attempt to rescue the athletes, who were killed, along with one police officer and five of the eight kidnappers.

One of his first accomplishments: Lufthansa Flight 181.

Around 2 a.m. on Oct. 18, Somali soldiers lit a fire 65 yards in front of the jet, creating a diversion. As the hostage takers entered the cockpit to see what was going on, Colonel Wegener and his commandos stormed the aircraft. Over the next seven minutes, three militants were killed and the fourth was wounded. Three passengers, a flight attendant and a commando were injured. But all 86 passengers, along with the four surviving crew members, were saved.

Later that night, three members of the Red Army Faction — Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe and Andreas Baader — were found dead in their cells, having committed suicide, and Mr. Schleyer, the abducted executive, was murdered.

Briefly held by American troops as a prisoner of war, he returned home, to what became East Germany, to finish his schooling.
Caught handing out leaflets critical of the Communist government, he was jailed for 18 months. Upon his release in 1952, he fled to West Berlin, where he went on to join the police.

(I haven’t found a source I consider completely trustworthy for this, but there are reports that Colonel (at the time) Wegener also participated with the Israeli Sayeret Matkal in the raid on Entebbe.)

TMQ Watch: January 2, 2018.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Yeah, we can’t believe it, either. We want to try on our best Don LaFontaine voice. “In the future world of 2018…”

And that’s as far as we’ve gotten. “…you will believe that a famous chef sends out an apology for sexual harassment that includes his recipe for cinnamon buns“? Nobody would believe that.

“You will believe that Gregg Easterbrook watched football on New Year’s Eve”? That might work.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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TMQ Watch: December 19, 2017.

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Before we jump into this week’s column, we did want to make note of the not-technically-a-firing-but resignation of ESPN president John Skipper. We think it is appropriate to note this here because this is sportsfirings.com, and for reasons we will get into shortly.

We really don’t have much to say about this: we don’t care much for ESPN, or the way Skipper’s been running it. But substance abuse of any sort sucks, and we wish the man all the luck in the world.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Cahiers du cinéma 2017.

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

The Library of Congress announced the latest additions to the National Film Registry yesterday.

Random thoughts:

  • The Saturday movie group is doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. We watched both “Spartacus” and “Ace in the Hole” this year. Of the two, I like “Spartacus”, I think more than the CHeston “Ben-Hur” (which we watched last Saturday). But even I think “Spartacus” is a little long. (And I believe this “restored edition” is even longer than the Criterion DVD we watched.) As for “Ace in the Hole”: wow. This is a fantastically underrated movie that you should buy on Criterion and watch as soon as you can.
  • The greatest Christmas movie ever is on this year’s list. Good.
  • Haven’t changed my mind about “Field of Dreams”.
  • We need to find “He Who Gets Slapped”, “one of the earliest ‘creepy clown’ movies”.
  • Maybe I should watch “Memento”.
  • Saw the original “Superman” in theaters. I remember it being…okay. But even as a 13-year-old, I didn’t care much for Superman as a character: where’s the conflict if you have a character who is basically invulnerable to everything? (And don’t give me that kryptonite crap: Superman is allergic to his home planet? Really?) I think I just wasn’t born with the superhero gene.
  • Saw “Titanic” in theaters too. I don’t think it is a great movie, and I wouldn’t have put it on the list, but it does have Kate Winslet going for it.
  • I would like to see “Four Little Girls”.
  • I’ve never seen “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.
  • We need to watch “Only Angels Have Wings” one night when RoadRich is with us.
  • A Winsor McCay WWI propaganda film? Sign me up, please.
  • “Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser” is pricy. But I do want to see it.

Obit watch: December 6, 2017.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

On my way out the door, but I wanted to get this up now because otherwise I don’t know when I will have time.

Christine Keeler. NYT. WP.

For folks of a certain age, the name almost certainly rings a bell. For those who don’t recognize it, Ms. Keeler was the central figure in the British “Profumo affair” of the early 1960s.

Ms. Keeler was the “party girl” — as she was often described — who had an affair with John Profumo, a star in the Conservative government of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The secretary of state for war at the time — some saw him as a future prime minister — Mr. Profumo had met Ms. Keeler at a party in 1961, when she was still a teenager and he was in his mid-40s.

Ms. Keeler had had multiple lovers, among them Cmdr. Eugene Ivanov, an attaché in the Soviet Embassy in London, and when that relationship came to light, government figures and MI5, the domestic intelligence agency, feared that her affair with Mr. Profumo might have created a grave security breach.

I may update this obit later.

Edited to add 12/7: strictly in the interest of history, and not for any prurient reasons at all, I thought I would include what the WP calls “one of the decade’s most famous images”:

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Obit watch: October 25, 2017.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Robert Guillaume.

Man, what a career.

He landed his part in “Soap” in 1977 after a Tony-nominated run as Nathan Detroit in an all-black Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls.”

I’d love to see that. I’m sure it exists…in an archive…somewhere in New York City…

Mr. Guillaume said Benson’s sharp tongue and dignified mien had allowed him to transcend his station while getting laughs. “What made the humor was that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said of the character in an interview for this obituary in 2011. “He wasn’t trying to be mean; he was just trying to be his own man.”

Obit watch: October 23, 2017.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Federico Luppi, noted Argentinian actor.

He was also the lead in Guillermo del Toro’s “Cronos” (which I have seen) and is in “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”. (I have not seen the latter two, but “Devil’s Backbone” is scheduled for this Saturday.)

Mr. Luppi played the monstrous Gris with touches of weakness — at one point in the film he sinks to a bathroom floor to lap up a spot of blood.

Yeah, having seen “Cronos”, describing Luppi’s character as “monstrous” is more than a bit of a stretch. Especially compared to Ron Perlman’s character. Further deponent sayeth not, because spoilers.

Edited to add:

NYT writers, meet the NYT Twitter feed. Hope you guys get along.

TMQ Watch: October 3, 2017.

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

We’ve got nothing clever to start off with this week. This is the kind of week that sucks all the clever out of our strategic clever reserves. Let’s just get into it.

After the jump, about 5,000 words of this week’s TMQ…

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TMQ Watch: September 26, 2017.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

When we heard about Sunday’s events, our first thought was: Easterbrook is going to be insufferable this week.

In retrospect, “insufferable” may not have been the right word. Perhaps “long winded” is better.

In that vein, and before the jump, we’d like to point you at David French’s National Review piece, “I Understand Why They Knelt”, which is one of the best pieces we’ve read so far on the subject.

After the jump, about 5,600 words of this week’s TMQ…
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Obit watch: September 21, 2017.

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Lillian Ross, one of the old-time New Yorker writers. She was 99.

I didn’t grow up reading her work, but I was passingly familiar with her from her book Picture. Ms. Ross followed John Huston while he was making “The Red Badge of Courage” and wrote about the production. Which, oddly enough, turned out to be deeply troubled.

Julie Salamon cites Picture as a major influence for her own classic book, The Devil’s Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco. It’s kind of interesting to contemplate these two books. Neither Ms. Ross (as far as I know) or Ms. Salamon (who explicitly states this in her forward) intended to write books about troubled movies. Both of them just simply wanted to document the process of making a Hollywood film: what was it like to do this in the 1950s, and what was it like in the 1980s? It’s odd that both movies turned out the way they did. And it’s interesting that nobody else has tried doing this in the last 25 years.

Bernie Casey, NFL wide receiver (for the San Francisco 49ers and the LA Rams) turned actor (“I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”).

For Mr. Casey, who also published books of poetry, the arts always came first. He considered football a steppingstone, but many viewed him as an athlete.
“It was just a gig,” he told The Washington Post in 1977 about football. “But it limits the way people perceive you. That can be frustrating. People have tremendous combinations of talents. A man can be a deep-sea diver and also make china.”