Hotel Chevalier, Prologue to Darjeeling Limited

Posted in Wes Anderson, Youtube Favs on December 16th, 2011 by Willie

I’m not tuned in to every detail of the Wes Anderson universe, but I loved being surprised by them.  I was surprised by how much I loved “Fantastic Mr. Fox” when I saw it, despite thinking for over a year it was probably some horrible 3D childrens movie, (its nothing of the sort, and you should see it if you haven’t.)  I was surprised by how much I loved “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,” a film which I assumed sucked because that’s what everyone was saying at the time of its release.  I waited over 3 years before seeing it, and I thought it was wonderful.  I was surprised at how much I loved “Darjeeling Limited,” a movie I reluctantly watched on my computer one summer day with no intention of sitting through the whole thing, but I did, and I watched it again, the next day.  I was never a Wes Anderson fan, but I guess I’ve been surprised to discover that I love practically everything he’s done; all said love coming with a great degree of anti-hipster reluctance I suppose.  This pattern has now lead me to “Hotel Chevalier,” a 13 minute short film Anderson made with Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman.  The film serves as “Darjeeling Limited’s” prologue, and is essential watching for fans of the latter mentioned full motion picture.  What makes it essential?  Well, nothing of any substance in terms of plot or characterization, but like any good comic book, its good to just continuously inhabit the world of a universe you really love.  “Hotel Chevalier” allows that privilege.  The funny thing about the “Darjeeling Limited” universe, and the one explored further in “Hotel Chevalier,” is that they exist in the grander Wes Anderson universe.  It’s an imaginary and dreamy sort of world, stuffed with the precious sort of nostalgia that is both impossible not to adore, and desire with great jealously.  For those wondering, the song that appears both in the short and in the full picture is “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely),” by Peter Sarstedt.  It’s easy to see why Anderson would be attracted to that song, as it makes reference to a beautiful girl’s Rolling Stones record collection.  Anyway, I was just as surprised that this short film existed, and having become tired of being surprised by Anderson’s genius, I watched it right away upon hearing about it.  You can too if you’ve never seen it, or rewatch it.  Either way, enjoy.

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Indiana Jones Loses His Goddamned Hat

Posted in Fun and Crazy, Indiana Jones on December 10th, 2011 by Willie

So, its common knowledge that there are some gaping plot holes in the “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the first Indiana Jones movie.  One is, how did Indiana Jones know how to close his eyes when the Nazis opened the Ark?  Another is, how did he escape the island when all the Nazis died in the ensuing ghost melting party?  The most famous one is concerns how Indiana Jones got to that island in the first place.  We swim him swim to the submarine, climb on top of it, then the film wipes to the dock the Nazis land in, and Indiana Jones looks really wet.  How in hell did he manage this?  Wasn’t the submarine closed?  Wouldn’t someone notice if he climbed in?  Well, according to the original script, Indiana uses his whip to lash himself onto the periscope and sort of surfs along somehow.  Here is an image with a tiny Indiana Jones model mounted on top of the periscope of the submarine.

The sheer lunacy of this stunt was cut from the final movie, and most people never noticed how Indy made it to the secret Nazi island.  However, it was during the close examination of this scene last night, where I made a startling discovery.  When Indiana Jones swims to the submarine, he no longer has his trade marked fedora.  I made sure to rewind and fast forward a bunch of times, but sure enough, by the time Indiana gets to the secret island, he has no hat.  Then he jumps a Nazi guard, steals his uniform, and definitely has no hat.  Where is the hat?  It’s gone!  But wait, isn’t Indiana never supposed to lose his hat?  They make a point of it in each succeeding movie.  As you know, the opening of “The Last Crusade” is dedicated as the origin story of how young Indiana Jones got the hat in the first place.  Hold up, you’re saying, isn’t Indiana Jones wearing his hat at the end of Raiders?  Surely he must have retrieved it from that boat with all the Jamaican dudes, right?  Actually, if you look closely, that is a different hat, his gray fedora; the hat he uses to wear when he travels.

Holy shit.  There is very little discussion on this matter on the internet, but luckily I found one that attempts to explain what happened to his goddamned hat; his lucky iconic hat, the hat he is NEVER supposed to lose.  According to the “internets,” in the original script, it basically says, ‘when Indy boards the submarine, he “loses his hat once and for all.”‘  In the novelization of the movie, Indy even comments on the fact saying, “Finding the ark cost me my favorite hat.”  Then he laughs…!  Now obviously, after “Raiders” debuted as a smash success, iconography was created, sequels were lined up, and hat mania swept the world.  The conveniently missing hat would never be missing again, and like “Last Crusade” depicts, Indiana would never lose the hat his whole life.  According to further novelization, Indiana would have the hat repaired and reblocked countless times, as a simple felt fedora would never be able to survive the destruction and mayhem Indiana exposed it to.  So, is it a conspiracy?  Does Indiana have a closet full of replacement hats, but acts like he never lost the original to prove his hat keeping badassery?  No, there is a much more boring word for the case of Indiana’s missing hat, retcon.

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Ella Fitzgerald, Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)

Posted in Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Youtube Favs on October 11th, 2011 by Willie

You may be wondering why I’m putting up an old Cole Porter pop tune from 1928 up my website.  If you’ve seen Woody Allen’s glorious flick, “Midnight in Paris,” you know why, but if you haven’t, then a bit of explanation is needed.  In the film, a time traveling novelist played by Owen Wilson stumbles back in time somehow, ends up at a hot 20s jazz party in Paris, and finds Cole Porter himself performing the song in an intimate setting.  Not “intimate” like an orgy, though maybe one broke out later after Owen left, it’s hard to tell.  Anyway, it’s hilarious, but more importantly, the song is simply one of the best ever.  This version from Ella Fitzgerald is my favorite, which says something because this song was performed by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Louie Armstrong to Diana Ross and Joan Jett.  I’ve taken it upon myself to learn this song on guitar this past week, and its damn hard because of all the jazz chords that require real finger gymnastics.  However, with some real determination, and some real creative chord interpretation, I managed to plunk it down pretty well after a few days.  Here is the link I used to learn, and if you want to play along with Ella, put a capo on the 3rd fret.  Trust me, you’ll like this one guitar players….and uh…lovers of music.

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George Gross, Senior Break, Nanny Cam

Posted in George Gross on September 27th, 2011 by Willie

My friend George Gross is a brilliant filmmaker, but as he continues to rise to new levels of fame, he’ll have to compete with the world’s other famous George Gross, the one who made trashy (yet awesome) crime/sex posters like the one above.  It’s actually not bad company, as I think the only other famous Willie Simpson is an Australian beer critic or something.  I’d love to interview him actually.  Anyway, George’s latest masterpiece is a short film entitled, “Senior Break.”   It’s actually a perfect film to put up as the leaves change, and people start thinking about autumn and Halloween.  It’s an incredibly sharp portrait of some of crafty seniors plotting a daring escape from the clutches of some well meaning nursing home attendants.  The project was shot for the Producer Guild of America’s “Produce This! Competition,” in which participants had only 51 hours to conceive, shoot, and edit a film with very narrow parameters.  George had recently won a similar contest, the New York wing of the “48 Hour Film Project” contest, and because this website is so cool, I’m gonna post that award winning video to go along with his latest.  “Nanny Cam” is another short film about a twisted psychopathic babysitter, that is actually a really cute baby film in disguise.  If that doesn’t make sense, pressing play will answer all your questions, and trust me, both films are masterpieces of suspense and film making ingenuity.  Remember, he made these things from start to finish in less than two days, concept, execution, everything.  It’s an unbelievable accomplishment, so check them out.

Senior Break from George Gross on Vimeo.

Nanny Cam from George Gross on Vimeo.

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George Gross, Beverly Hills Monster Mash!

Posted in George Gross on September 16th, 2011 by Willie

One of the most bizarre things to ever happen on Beverly Hills 90210 was when precocious and immature Scott Scanlon suddenly got really interested in guns and country music.  His last words were, “Check this out!”  What the entire nation ended up “checking out” was Scott’s accidental suicide caused by his poor gun twirling techniques.  It was at this heartbreaking moment in pop culture history where America learned for the first time that mixing guns and country music could cause accidental deaths in even our richest postal zones.  The sheer magnitude of this tragedy was of such a high volume, that America has been denial of its very existence for almost twenty years.  Fortunately, George Gross, the brilliant young filmmaker, never forgot and immortalized Scott’s death for us in an artfully twisted video montage set to Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me.)”  God bless Mr. Gross for refusing to look away from the grisly terror, and present us with reality at its most naked and cold.  With that, I ask you to brace yourselves, and enjoy George Gross’s “Beverly Hills Monster Mash.”

Beverly Hills Monster Mash from George Gross on Vimeo.

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Give My Regards To Broad Street, Yesterday, Here There and Everywhere, Wanderlust

Posted in Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on August 20th, 2011 by Willie

I’m not ready to say goodbye to Paul’s terrible movie, in fact watching this makes me want to see the whole thing.  I might have seen the whole thing laid out on youtube, and if it is, expect the entire film posted on my website soon with humorous remarks dashed about.  Anyway, despite the movie being supposedly being godawful, this is a gorgeous piece of film and music making.  It’s Paul, Ringo, and George Martin hanging out in the studio as Paul beautifully weaves through Yesterday, Here There and Everywhere, and Wanderlust.  The first two songs are classics of Zeus-like stature, but Wanderlust isn’t as great.  It’s a very nice song and from one of my personal favorite solo McCartney albums, Tug of War.  The problem is that it doesn’t hold a candle to the two songs he sings previously.  Perhaps in Paul’s mind it does, but he does sing it beautifully.  Speaking of which, I’d like to state also that this is one video where you will probably never hear Paul sing more perfectly, so enjoy the sonic loveliness while you can.  Until tomorrow…

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Paul McCartney, Give My Regards to Broad Street, Eleanor Rigby

Posted in Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on August 19th, 2011 by Willie

I’ve never seen Give My Regards to Broad Street, but from what I’ve read, its pretty awful.  Apparently, it was Paul McCartney’s ego run amok, thinking he could replicate the success of “A Hard Day’s Night” with another movie about a “day in the life” of…Paul McCartney.  The movie was a huge waste of money, and critics hated it, however its soundtrack, which contained many redone Beatle songs, and Ringo, was #1 in the UK.  Anyway, the musical clips are pretty interesting, and today I’m gonna post his in studio performance of Eleanor Rigby.  Originally from Revolver, Eleanor Rigby was one of Paul’s undisputed masterpieces.  I personally think its one of the greatest pop songs ever written in E minor.  The work though, doesn’t entirely belong to Paul.  George wrote the “all the lonely people, where do they all come from” part, and John claims to have come up with half the lyrics which Paul insists isn’t true.  Ringo wrote the line “writing the words of a sermon that no one will here,” and old John Lennon pal Pete Shotton had Paul change Father McCartney to Father McKenzie.  It’s a great Beatle song, and its great to see it performed in any format, so its presence in Paul’s stupid movie is still incredibly interesting and worth seeing. Give it a spin.

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The Blues Brothers, Ray Charles, Twist it (Shake Your Tail Feather)

Posted in Ray Charles, The Blues Brothers, Youtube Favs on July 27th, 2011 by Willie

How about that keyboard reflecting in Ray Charles’s sunglasses?  That’s rock and roll, or more specifically, the blues.  This legendary scene, from the “Blues Brothers” movie, is and irreplaceable document of blues rock awesomeness.  The Blues Brothers were a group formed by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, two SNL geniuses who loved the blues and came up with this brilliant concept for a Chicago based blues group.  The dark suits, hats, and shades are icons of TV and movie magic.  It’s just another example of the insane role that the likes of Aykroyd and Belushi were on in the late 70s/early 80s when it came to dominating the coolest ideas of global comedy.  The original Blues Brothers band consists mostly of the first SNL band, and they really cook.  It’s a reminder of how huge SNL was in the late 70s that even the band members got starring roles in a blockbuster feature film.  The movie, directed by hot 80s director John Landis, is a crazy car crashing romp of great music and fantastic dance sequences, evidenced below.  Check it out.

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Star Wars NEW Deleted Footage

Posted in Star Wars on July 22nd, 2011 by Willie

Lets face it, since 1999, “Star Wars” has been a bag of shit.  I was 13 years old when the “Phantom Menace” came, old enough to have my “Star Wars” fantasy life crushed to smithereens by the atrocity that was George Lucas’s Death Star explosion of a movie.  It was sad because I had both the regular edition and special edition tapes, all the computer video games by Lucasarts, and even the collectable card game by Decipher.  Maybe “Star Wars” sucking was a blessing because it forced me to be less of a nerd, but it still was sad, because (to paraphrase Yoda, or old Jewish guys) an epic series it was.  I had read recently that Lucas is releasing the entire saga in theaters in 3D, which seems amazing, until you realize that people are gonna have to wait out the hideous prequels first before he finally gets around to fucking with the originals again.  Speaking of fucking with the originals, to keep this spirit alive, Lucas is including all the deleted scenes that no one has ever seen in the new Blu-Ray release coming out next September.  Will this be enough to get the hardcore fans to shell out another fifty bucks to own the trilogy that they already own in VHS, Special Edition VHS, Special Edition DVD, and non Special Edition DVD?  Probably, because this trailer looks so COOL!   Check it out!

The highlights look amazing!  Here are my favorites…

  • Lando and Chewie trying to make it through that wicked sandstorm.  Is that after they escaped from Jabba the Hutt?  If so that seems amazing!
  • The Ice Creature chasing R2-D2 in Hoth…scary!
  • The best moment, Luke peeling the fake skin on his robot hand back on…GENIUS!  How was that cut??

All in all, my ancient nerd neurons began to fire just looking at this thing, and I hope people just post all the clips to youtube so I won’t have to buy them.  If they do, I’ll post them right here, so stay tuned…Oh! As a bonus, I’m including one of those scenes right now! It’s from “Return of the Jedi,” and it shows Vader trying to contact Luke with the Dark Side while Luke is building his new green lightsaber!

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Thougths on the New Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

Posted in Comic Books on July 21st, 2011 by Willie

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is Sony and Marvel’s reboot of the billion dollar Spider-Man movie franchise…That’s right, a REBOOT of a film that only came out less than ten years ago.  Well, the trailer leaked a few days ago, causing quite a firestorm on the internet.  Everybody has their opinions, but not everybody has a website with their name in the URL.  I do, so I’m uniquely qualified to give you some professional opinions on what I like and don’t like about this film.  So, check out the trailer, and comb over my carefully color coordinated bullet points, and see if you agree with all my important opinions.

  • The film is directed by “500 Days of Summer” guy Marc Webb.  I liked that movie, and Webb seems like a good name for a guy directing a Spider-Man movie.  GOOD
  • Andrew Garfield from “The Social Network” is Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  He’s certainly skinny enough, but based on this trailer, he looks too sad to be either Peter or Spider-Man.  TBD
  • This is a Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) movie, not a Mary Jane movie…the difference here depends on if you prefer blondes or redheads. REDHEADS
  • Everyone is comparing the Spider-Man point of view scene to the Mirror’s Edge video game because it’s completely ripped off of that.  BAD
  • President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) plays Uncle Ben, and Forest Gump’s mom Sally Field plays Aunt May.  Fantastic casting.  GOOD
  • Just like the first one, the costume is impossibly knitted by a 17 year old boy, but this time, he messed up the dye job.  TYE DYE
  • Spider-Man builds his web shooters like the comic book.  Does he also make the web fluid?  Or is it still in his hands?  WEBS
  • Peter Parker is more of an emo loner in this one, and less of a geeky nerd…BAD
  • The depressed British guy from “Greenberg,” Rhys Ifans, plays Doc Conners/The Lizard.  GREEN
  • It’s dumb that they did a reboot because the origin story in Sam Raimi’s first film was 99% true to the comic.  Its gonna force them to make radical changes just to be new.  BAD
  • Lastly, I’ve been outside that building Peter walks by at the :50 second mark.  BEEN THERE
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