Pop Culture Ephemera
- West Side Story (2021) (Directed by Steven Spielberg): “When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong. Your love is your life.” – Maria, Anita. Spielberg remakes a beloved musical that’s a love letter itself to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This version didn’t choose to update or significantly break from the original. It only takes Spielberg’s sets and camerawork to show a respect to the source material. Spielberg and his cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, have an uncanny eye for how to film choreography. He’s in love with the lens flare but the movement across the screen runs that fine line between awareness that you are watching what is essentially a stage show but not with the limitations of the stage show. This is just a flat out beautiful film and has energy from the very first scene through the end. I can only hope it reminds audiences how much fun a musical can be still.
- Star Trek – “This Side of Paradise” (S.1 E.24) (NBC) (1967): “I have little to say about it, Captain, except that for the first time in my life … I was happy.” – Spock. This episode is almost always in the Top Twenty Star Trek episodes and I’ve seen it as a Top Ten. The crew is sent to investigate Omicron Ceti III where settlers who should be dead are found alive and happy. Alien spores are responsible for making the settlers and the crew of the Enterprise unconditionally happy. It serves as a good symbolic exploration of the Hippie Movement and “can we live an ideal life under the influence of a drug?” Captain Kirk alone on the Enterprise is a great symbol of how the Establishment feels about the counterculture movement. Feeling lonely and abandoned, the lesson according to Kirk is that Man has to struggle in order to have meaning. An interesting take from Rodenberry. Jill Ireland makes a great guest appearance as Leila (Spock’s love interest).
- Ike & Tina Turner – “Feel Good” (1972) (from Feel Good): “You need a man to take the stand / To take the low and make you know” – Tina Turner. Credited as a Tina Turner written song on an excellent Ike & Tina Turner album. Their Soul Train appearance to promote this song is a classic. A great funky groove. It’s hard not to start moving your head and start a little funky dance as Tina belts out her “feel good” lyrics. When Tina is backed by such a tight band, her vocals are as good as it gets in 1972.
- Dirty Harry (1971) (Directed by Don Siegel): “Everybody wants results, but nobody wants to do what they have to do to get them done.” – “Dirty” Harry Callahan. I’m torn to say if this or French Connection started the “whatever it takes” police film genre. As a story, it’s an effective neo-noir thriller that reflects the Zodiac killer of headlines of the day, here as the Scorpio Killer. The director/actor relationship of Siegel/Eastwood is one that is all too rare in films anymore. The themes that were important to the 1971 audience in the midst of rising crime in the United States are still interesting themes today. Eastwood as Dirty Harry is the “hero” that we need who knows the law but is willing to break it to save us from the unspeakable evil of Scorpio. The understated role of Eastwood in the first film of the series is not the boastful character of the later films. Dirty Harry has his weaknesses and faults and that makes this a fascinating film to watch again today.
- Moonlight (2016) (Directed by Barry Jenkins): “Ok. Let your head rest in my hand. Relax. I got you. I promise. I won’t let you go. Hey, man. I got you. There you go. Ten Seconds. Right there. You in the middle of the world.” – Juan. This coming-of-age story of self discovery is told across three chapters in the life of Little (Alex R. Hibbert), Chiron (Ashton Sanders), and Black (Trevante Rhodes) – all the same person at different ages of development. There aren’t car chases, gun fights, CGI monsters, or anything you might expect from a film these days. What you have is the struggle that we all deal with of finding human connection. The dialogue is great and the cinematography is notable. What really hits are all the silent moments and the acting done with just eyes and facial expressions. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t to be moved like I was. “Who is you, Chiron?” Not what I expected at all.
Best of the Rest
- In Dirty Harry news this week, it only takes watching a film to generate a news source to write an article that “just might interest you”. The film was banned outright in Finland upon its release in 1971. It’s interesting to watch the film with that reaction in mind that showing a police officer taking the law into his own hands would cause a film to be completely censored.
- This trailer for Documentary Now! for the Toronto International Film Festival has me pretty excited for the return of this incredible show on October 19, 2022. I can already tell my favorite is going to be Alexander Skarsgard as Werner Herzog making Grizzly Man. That they have Helen Mirren introducing the episodes never fails to tickle me.
- How good was West Side Story? Well, they pretty much kept the whole production crew together, added John Williams to do the score and are ready to debut Spielberg’s new movie The Fabelmans at Thanksgiving this year. My excitement is really out of this world for a thinly veiled Spielberg biopic. Sight unseen I’m putting Spielberg up for his second Best Picture Oscar. Who wants to go Opening Night?
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 4/29/2007, the previous day had been five baseball games between the two boys. The previous week had what still to this day is the most amazing flash flood in Denton that I’ve ever encountered. Television had the usual Lost and Heroes highlights, a Brando documentary that I still need to locate, and the talk shows were all leading up to Spider-Man 3.
- Late Show w/David Letterman (S.14 E.135) (CBS) (2007): Kirsten Dunst, Rob Magnotti, and Dinosaur Jr. guest from April 30, 2007. Kirsten appears on her 25th birthday to promote Spider-Man 3. The writing must have been on the wall because Kirsten avoids questions about more Spider-Man films. She talks about wanting to move towards directing (that never really happened). Watching this again makes me miss the hey day of Dave and the importance of late night talk shows.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Mountain Dew Zero Sugar: VooDew 2022
The fourth VooDew release is the sixth Halloween season release going back to two Pitch Black releases. The Zero Sugar version is the first to hit my fridge and I’m sure it will differ slightly in the sugar version. The hint of a sour candy is here, less sweetly sugared than previous releases. Those were not great to have more than a single can. Fruity candy that I can’t decide about yet but not unpleasant at all.
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies: Shocking Orange
Orange is the color of the season. Last week, we had a Post cereal that was orange and purple. Like the Fruity Pebbles, it’s just a color and not a flavor. And like that one, look at that dang cute cereal box. Snap, Crackle, and Pop have changed over the years and this is one of the best versions. The cereal is a classic. It’s not my favorite but as a seasonal option, it’s not a bad deal.
Tostitos: Hearty Dippers
I am a Tostitos loyalist. I’ll stray to other brands from time to time but there’s always a bag of Tostitos in the pantry. Of the Tostito varieties, the Scoops have been the best invention in years. The Scoops are great for Nachos and, I thought, wonderful for dips. Then came the Hearty Dippers. They are decent dippers and resemble a large sized Frito. Without dip, I’m not as impressed as the Scoops that will remain my number one. What we miss is Tostitos Gold which years ago were a thicker tortilla chip that had a wonderful crunch and made a good dipper.
“You know, my baby makes me feel good
Oh, he knows how to turn me on
He knows every trick in the book
And he use them to get me hook” – Tina Turner