Thursday, October 30, 2008

The obligatory chemist.

I watched King of New York, which stars Christopher Walken, Laurence Fishburne, David Caruso, and Wesley Snipes, all looking very 1990. Walken is a powerful gang leader who's released from jail and reclaims his territory and wealth, while at the same time wanting to build a hospital for poor people. What? Okay. That part of the plan didn't exactly stick with me. I was too distracted by the large amounts of cocaine everywhere. Caruso was your typical rogue coppity copper cop policeman guy, and Snipes was his partner,, I think? There needed to be more partnership because I didn't buy their relationship either. One can't help but make fun of the car chase in which Snipes and Fishburne are leaning out of windows and directly shooting at each other's vehicles with many, many rounds of ammunition, yet none of the windows are blown out. And oh, right, there is never any traffic on the Queensboro Bridge, sure, feel free to speed along as you wish! (Btw, Walken + Fishburne forever.)

It was flawed but I enjoyed it well enough as sort of an urban gangster time capsule. All the locations are genuine NYC and not Toronto doubles, which is what I liked. And the subways were real. I recognized one of the exits in the Times Square subway station, so that was neat. I mean, I live here and all, but it's nice to see the old dirty side of the city portrayed in a movie from 18 years ago. ...I don't know what's so "nice" about it, but you know what I mean. (I really do need to rewatch those Charles Bronson movies.)

Anyway, the real reason why this movie was in my Netflix queue is because Steve Buscemi has a cameo. Well, it turned out to be a cameo because after about the first ten minutes of being in Walken's gang, he just completely disappeared. Darn. (Oh, and speaking of cameos, it took a lot of blinking to realize that Pete Hamill was in it for a couple minutes -- as himself.)

Steve Buscemi played a dude named Test Tube who...did...some chemical stuff to cocaine, or something. I have no idea what he was doing. But he was adorable in his glasses and Run-D.M.C. fedora and black outfit. Also? He said the word.... "Copasetic." I swear, my heart turned a somersault when he said that, you have NO idea.

So here, have screencaps!

He's got some Hawaiian Punch...and some Alka-Seltzer...

 "Copasetic," indeed!

Uh oh. He seems to be upset.

Busting a cap in someone's ass.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

argh, books.

I didn't get to see much of the Brooklyn Book Festival because it was just so hot, but I got to see Pete Hamill and borough president Marty Markowitz shoot the shit when Jimmy Breslin was late for the discussion. And honestly, I could listen to Pete Hamill tell the most mundane stories about anything. Always a punchline, always a meaning. Just every observation he makes. Like for instance, we were all gathered in the oldest courthouse in Brooklyn, in this grand old courtroom with green curtains and dark wood paneling with ornate carvings, and he just looked around and said, "I love this room. You can just smell the felonies coming out of the walls."

And Markowitz, who used to be a senator, said straight out while on the topic of politics that politicians are corrupt. He went on a mini-rant (in his Brooklyn accent) about how nothing in government ever gets done right because of the corruption that he has seen firsthand. And I liked that. I've always thought he was a regular guy who really wanted to work for the people, kind of like Fiorello LaGuardia.

Finally when Jimmy Breslin came, people were able to toss out questions about current events and such. Breslin almost kind of turned into a ranty, rambly, cranky old white man, but Hamill managed to pull him back on topic a number of times, and did a good job of being diplomatic when opinions clashed. Breslin had his funny moments, too.

Hamill: What are your thoughts on creationism?
Breslin: I would speak at length about it if I knew what it was.

Afterwards, after everone poured back outside into the heat and festivities, there was an author's table by the side of the courthouse steps, sitting behind their folded cardstock signs with their names on them. I sat down on the steps and waited a while for Mr. Hamill to show up, and then waited some more as people lined up to have their books signed by him. In the meantime, I saw his wife, Fukiko, who is also a journalist. It was a bit sweet, actually, as I suddenly saw this Asian woman come up behind him and touch his shoulders and the back of his head in a familiar way, and then I thought, oh, that's his wife! She left to go back inside the courthouse.

Eventually I went up when the line got shorter, and he was having conversations with fans and such, which was nice of him. And then it was my turn and I shook his hand, said hello. I didn't have anything for him to autograph, and so he took his cardstock sign and flipped it open and signed it for me! Plus I reminded him that we'd met last year at this festival -- and he said he remembered, turned around toward the street and pointed, saying we'd been just over there. So I went on just thanking him profusely for the advice and the inspiration and that I take it to heart every time I try to write, and he thanked me for saying so and aw, he's just great.

So, that was that, and then I spent about $35 on books, goddammit. But how do you resist when books like THESE were only 5 bucks each??? Pulp written by women! I bought "Women's Barracks" (seriously, authentic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction -- what is there to not like about that?), "The G-String Murders" by Gypsy Rose Lee, and "In a Lonely Place," on which the Bogart movie was based. Then I bought "Manhattan Noir 2," and then an old and yellowed book from 1947 called "Sins of New York," a compilation of true crime essays and articles from back in da day. So much stuff to read. Gah.

As I wandered amongst the tables, I came across an indie publisher that basically puts out bandom novels. Seriously! Stories with music and bands as the central driving force. Life around it, life within it, life inspired by it. There were novels about a '60s girl-group, a '70s punk band, a blues musician on the road, all that stuff. I think it's awesome.

And being around all those independent publishers and authors...damn, it made me want to write and work to get myself published like I have always dreamed about but argh. I have no excuses. None at all. Except for the crippling notion that my work is crap and unpublish-able. Argh, you see.

But anyway, a enjoyable day all in all. I love this festival!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"The flags on the Brooklyn Bridge are flying half-staff today."

I've always wanted to use that as the first line of something great. Someday the rest will come to me, but for the longest time, it's stood alone in my mind, an observation that has prompted me to wonder, So, which important person passed away? Of course, this morning I didn't need to wonder, and I expected to see the flags at half-staff when the subway went over the Manhattan Bridge. And of course, the skyline itself is the everyday reminder of the city's loss.

I don't need video clips. Least of all I don't need politicians to tell me about it.

The emptiness is still there and I can see it and I will always feel it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pre-code pic spam!

Just a few nuggets of joy. Here's Joan Blondell, Barbara Stanwyck, and Ben Lyon in Night Nurse. Lyon is happy because the nice nurses have agreed not to report his bullet wound to the police. Yay! What was kind of surprising was that quite a lot of blood was shown on his hand and shirt. I wonder if they had rules against too much gore.

Fun Fact: James Cagney was considered for Lyon's role (he would've been adorable in it), but after Cagney's success in The Public Enemy, the studio didn't think that he should be relegated to supporting roles anymore.

Now, two more from Lady Killer, starring Cagney and Mae Clarke. These could almost be deemed not safe for work. Gasp!

James Cagney loves Mae Clarke.

James Cagney loves Mae Clarke not.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Three on a match again, looks like I lost a friend...

I watched Three On a Match tonight, which was a good dose of pre-code goodness! I'd been wanting to see this one for a long time, but it only recently came out on a DVD compilation of banned movies from the 1930s. Why banned? Because let's see: children discussing underpants, children smoking, adultery, alcoholism, explicit gang activity, child neglect, Bette Davis in a slip and a bathing suit, a beating (offscreen, but the cries were chilling), Ann Dvorak on the smack, and a horrific suicide. All this in only 63 minutes! They just don't make movies like this any more!

It's about three friends who went to school together and whose lives took different paths until they were all brought together again as adults. Joan Blondell was endearingly spunky as the chorus girl. Bette Davis was underused, but wow, was she a pretty little thing as a "career" girl (a.k.a., typist). Ann Dvorak was just grand as the discontent wife of a rich lawyer. The adorable little boy who played Ann's son bordered on annoying, but oh my, he could break your heart. Humphrey Bogart showed up and growled and glared at everyone.

See how cute Bette Davis was?

Joan Blondell is concerned! She had the best expressions.

Joan is concerned about Ann Dvorak, who is now Crack Lady.
But no matter! Joan and Bette will just go to the beach and toss a ball around!
Humphrey Bogart as one of the gangsters who are harrassing Ann's boyfriend for money that he owes.
 He spent almost all his scenes with a scowl on his face. It's a very hot scowl.


The boy, who was kidnapped by Ann's boyfriend to-- aw, hell, just see the movie. BUT LOOK. DOES HE NOT BREAK YOUR HEART?

This is basically how he looked a couple years later in The Petrified Forest, except less grizzled.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I call it "research."

So, Script Frenzy starts tonight at midnight. When you calculate it as writing 3.4 pages of dialogue and action a day for the next 30 days, it doesn't sound so bad.

To facilitate my brainstorming, I finished disc 2 of "The Untouchables" last night. Extremely inaccurate, but definitely entertaining. Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll's portrayal was especially riveting, in a "lol psycho gangster" kind of way. If I were just a drop more obsessed, I could go to the Bronx to find his grave, but I'm not. (He was gunned down in a drugstore on 23rd Street and 8th Avenue, which is within walking distance from where I am right now.)

Believe me when I say, though, that I don't think these gangsters were cool or anything. There's nothing cool about murderers. (I actually feel dirty for owning a cheap souvenir t-shirt with John Dillinger's mug shot on it.) To me they're just...well, interesting. They just happen to be a main fixture in the larger world of the '20s and '30s, which I am completely obsessed with.

That being said, Dead Guys In Suits is my kind of blog.