Saturday, January 11, 2020

Moondoggie on the Movies: 1917

1917 (2019)

It's the plot of Gallipoli, plus the told-in-real-time gimmick of High Noon (minus time out for a cheatin' blackout) and the cut-hiding chicanery of Rope, with a Whack-A-Mole rate of celebrity cameos reminiscent of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Note: the movie Walkabout had less walking; your Fitbit will award you 10,000 steps just for sitting through this thing.

In theaters now.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Rise of the Slumwalker

It's been over 40 years since we first saw Star Wars unspool on the big screen, but fortunately our minds remain as sharp as ever. So join us as we watch Ray and Kylie Minogue face off against Emperor Creatine in Skywalker, Texas Ranger!

Okay, I'm a little late in posting this, but there's still time to listen in and hear Rey's 23andMe results. Is she a Skywalker? By birth? By marriage? By Deus ex machina? The answer to that is complicated, and by complicated I mean stupid, but check out the episode anyway. It's brief, considering the source material, because we didn't want to spend more time thinking about the movie than J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio spent writing it.

And here's the link to Javier Grillo-Marxuach's piece on Return of the Jedi. As Jeff said: 
Everyone who enjoys Star Wars needs to read this. I have been having this exact internal mono(dia)logue since I saw Rise of Skywalker. I have been trying to find the words. Javi found them a few years ago. I am at peace now.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Moondoggie On The Movies

MOONDOGGIE: Watching the film adaptation of Cats is like being neutered all over again. Now and Forever.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year

“Look” Grandma said, “It was the Great Depression. Private nursing jobs were hard to come by, and if your plutocratic employer wanted you to help him snipe debutantes from his oxygen tent, well then you steadied his palsied hand and didn’t ask any impertinent questions.”

Hey guys. I hope everyone has a good New Years, and a better new year. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Jon Swift Roundup 2019

Batocchio has done it again, organizing another tribute to the art of small batch blogging with the Jon Swift Roundup 2019. This year's compendium features so many taste-teasing posts that it's like the smorgasbord of sweets and sin on that island where Pinocchio gorged on ice cream and cigars before transforming into a hideous humanoid-animal hybrid, which seems like an apt metaphor for a year that's ending with the release of Cats.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

That's Entertainment? Babes in Toyland (1934)

By Hank Parmer

Since this is the time of year when Christmas movie reviews litter the intertubes, and since the retro stuff seems to be more my bailiwick, I thought a look back at the 1934 Laurel and Hardy vehicle Babes in Toyland (original title: March of the Wooden Soldiers) might be worthwhile. Even though the holiday connection is rather tenuous, with Santa only appearing for a short cameo, and in fact, according to the movie's outrageously overacting villain the action is taking place in the middle of July.

But from the time this loose adaptation of Victor Herbert's insanely popular 1903 operetta debuted in November of '34, it's been considered a Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday film. So much so that it became a staple on second-tier TV and UHF stations, before Rankin-Bass, etc. began to crank out fare oriented toward a more contemporary kiddie market. There was even an edited down to 45 minutes version, which was distributed free to public schools back in the 1950s.

The "bogeymen" certainly scared the willies out of me when I saw this movie as a preschooler. Viewing it as an adult, though, I can't help but feel there's way too much Victor Herbert -- okay, "The March of the Toys" is a catchy little tune -- and nowhere near enough Laurel and Hardy. Although it is slightly refreshing to see a kiddie flick that wasn't put together for the sole purpose of merchandising hunks of Chinese plastic.

We begin with an introductory solo from Mother Goose:

Sorry... Thought it was the porta-potty!

Of all the lands you youngsters will travel in your dreams, she promises in her tune, the best of them is Toyland.

And at first glance, it does seem an enchanting place. Characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales throng its quaint, quasi-Medieval streets, everyone from the Three Little Pigs to the Cat with a Fiddle. Who's relentlessly stalked by a mischievous monkey in a Mickey Mouse costume.

That's the original Mickey Mouse, who if you ask me looks more like a rat. His presence here might seem odd to anyone familiar with the litigious ways of our modern entertainment juggernaut, but back then Walt was eager enough for the publicity to let Hal Roach borrow the character. Although that hairy, prehensile tail is disturbingly un-mouselike.

Nursery rhymes are literally interpreted here in Toyland, even to the extent of egregious child neglect, like the rock-a-bye baby whose cradle is precariously parked twenty feet up in the top of a slender pine.

The main plot revolves around the Old Lady Who Lives in a Shoe. You know, the one who had so many children she didn't know what to do. (Note that the question of how she came by all these children is deftly handled by identifying her as Widow Peep. You know, lady, contraception might have been something worth checking out.) Tragically, she's actually only in her mid-thirties.

The eldest of her extensive brood is Little Bo Peep. (Charlotte Henry -- who, at age 19, had played the title character in Paramount's 1933 film of Alice in Wonderland.)  Bo Peep's love interest is Tom-Tom, piper's son and lead tenor. (Felix Knight)

But there's a dark undercurrent to life in this magical realm and capitalist's paradise. For starters, creepy Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon) is about to foreclose on the old lady's shoe. As is traditional in these affairs, he offers to forget about the mortgage, if he can have innocent Bo Peep's hand in marriage.

Brandon -- billed here in his first credited movie role as "Henry Kleinbach" -- was actually only twenty-two at the time he played the distinctly Fagin-esque miser, a part that launched him on a career as a character actor on the silver screen. Mostly portraying heavies, albeit thankfully without the age makeup. Occasionally in A-list features like John Ford's The Searchers, where he played "Chief Scar", but more often in far less prestigious fare. (MST3K fans may remember him as the space pirate "Rinkman" from the Rocky Jones epic Manhunt in Space.)

Surprisingly, Widow Peep also found space in her size 1000 Doc Marten for a couple of lodgers, Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee. As she's preparing their breakfast, Ollie notices she's holding back the tears. When he learns the cause of her distress, he gallantly offers to donate their savings to help pay the mortgage.

But oh dear, Stannie raided the piggy bank. He spent their entire accumulated capital -- a dollar and 48 cents -- on something he calls his "pee wee". Ollie promises he'll try hitting up their boss for a loan.

On their way to work, Ollie demands to see Stannie's pee wee.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Have a Very World O' Crap Christmas!

I hope everyone's having a lovely day. This is the first Christmas in 20 years or so that Mary and I have been apart, as we drew the Comfort the Afflicted and/or Quadrupedal straw -- she's out in the desert looking after her bedridden mother, while I'm dog-sitting for my sister up in Portland.

I grew up with dogs, but it's been decades since I've owned one, and I'd forgotten how labor-intensive they are -- both emotionally and, uh, alimentarily -- but the companionship they provide is top-notch. However, like the Ethiopians that various British rock stars sung about in "Do They Know It's Christmas?", the dogs apparently don't, and since the house isn't decorated (there was no point since the family would be out of town for the holiday), I've been doing my best to pretend it's not actually the Yuldetide in order to modulate my self-pity.

But then Facebook decided to bombard me with memories of Christmas Pasts, and while I still don't care about the holiday, I do miss Riley, because nobody could get into the spirit of the season like she could:

So Merry Christmas (or ELSE!, apparently....)