Boy Culture TV: Sequel for the Ages!

 DATELINE:   Producers Wanted!

 BC

One of the cleverest and surprising films of 2006 is prepping to have a ten-years later style sequel with all the original cast.

If you remember the delightful novella by Matthew Rettemund turned into a top-drawer comedy of manners by Q. Allan Brocka, you may be in for a big treat. Boy Culture wants to return.

They have a deadline of 29 days to find movie producers to contribute to a new Los Angeles production that will be short TV episodes transformed into a feature-length film.

Yes, Derek Magyar will be in the film as X, with Darryl Stephens reprising Andrew, and Jonathon Trent returning with his extra-long tongue. We are being tongue in cheeky, for sure.

If you ever wondered about all those people who are thanked at the end of a movie, here is your chance to join the conga line that passes quickly while most people are ready to hit the remote button. Well, if you are on the list, you may stick around to the utter end.

It doesn’t cost much to become a recognized Hollywood producer on a big production like this. Immortality seldom reaches out to movie fans, but the filmmakers have gone the Kickstarter way. It’s how small budget, big heart movies are put together:  with love of fans.

If you have a big wallet, you might even end up with a walk-on cameo in one of the scenes. Talk about becoming a Hollywood legend. It might repay you with dinner invitations for years to come—as you explain the thrill of it all.

We hate to say what it costs to be one of the co-executive producers but the benefits of being with the cast may be your last chance for groupie rights that only X would appreciate.

Quite frankly, our favorite character was Gregory Talbot in the original: the wonderful actor Patrick Bauchau played the reclusive, well-heeled patron of the extended family of boys.

Yes, we want in on this. But we want to see the movie produced successfully and be part of a legendary hit.

When they call action, Boy Culture TV may be your calling.

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Rebel in the Rye Catches Nicholas Hoult

DATELINE:  See You in September, Release Date

REAL SALINGER   hoult

Real J.D. Salinger and the Real Nick Hoult

If we were to pick our favorite recluses, J.D. Salinger is up there with B. Traven and Greta Garbo.

Now comes forth an intriguing film about the years before Jerome David Salinger went private-mad.

Nicholas Hoult has sent out a Facebook message about his new movie, Rebel in the Rye.

The handsome young British actor has perfected his American accent enough to go for playing a New York writer in the 1940s.

J.D. Salinger famously published but one novel and preferred the genre of short story and novella. Who can blame him? His greatest hit is titled Catcher in the Rye, which a few people have read over the past 60 years.

Salinger would never let Hollywood ever come near his cherished novel. And, they threw oodles of money at his feet, but he was adamant.

So, how would J.D. feel about a movie depicting his post-traumatic experiences in World War II as the backdrop for writing his “grand” novel. Heavens, Holden Caulfield would have a fit over calling his story grand.

And, boy, would he throw a fit over this movie! Privacy is certainly dead nowadays.

Nicholas Hoult is always fascinating to watch, but he may seem a touch different here. It’s the brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that vaulted him to fame among devoted distaff viewers.

With Kevin Spacey as his demanding editor, Hoult’s Salinger comes across as chummy, not reclusive. Ah, youth.

The best we can give you at this point is a trailer. So here goes.

So here goes.

Brandon DeWilde: Gone 45 Years Ago

DATELINE: Memories

Audie with Brandon DeWilde

Audie Murphy with Brandon on set of Night Passage

Forty-five years is a long time, no matter how old you are.

It is especially long when you think that young actor Brandon DeWilde died on a road in Denver that many years ago. He’s buried in East Farmingdale, New York.

Brandon is likely remembered as the little boy in the movie Shane who cried, “Come back, Shane, come back!” as the mysterious gunman kept on riding his horse into the clouds.

Our personal favorite movie with Brandon was Hud, though when he stood up to father figure John Wayne, his costar for In Harm’s Way, he gave another interesting performance. Challenging the man playing your father is not an easy trick when it’s the Duke.

Julie Harris starred on Broadway in 1950 and in the movie version of Member of the Wedding, largely forgotten nowadays, with Brandon as her little friend. She once told us in an interview that their bare feet would be so dirty after a stage performance of pretending to be outdoors in the Old South. For years afterward, he would greet her by announcing his feet were clean. She remembered him fondly as her costar on stage and in film.

Who didn’t adore Brandon?

He glowed in every performance, not like so many insipid child actors.

Brandon was such a scene stealer that, when he costarred with dangerous war hero Audie Murphy in Night Passage, he was knocked on his keester by Audie, wearing a black hat and black leather vest for this bad guy role, in one scene. Yes, it was in the script.

You could put Brandon up against Warren Beatty and Paul Newman—and he matched their intensity.

DeWilde is now a trivia piece of history for many movie fans. But his demise so long ago was a shock when it happened. He rode off into the clouds, leaving us to cry out, “Come back, Brandon. Come back.”

Alas, he can only do it in his marvelous movie roles.

 

 

 

Olivia DeHavilland Strikes Back

DATELINE:  Livie Legend

101 AP Camus

On occasion of her 100th year, AP Camus photo, 2016 image

As much as we loved every hoot from the miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan, apparently the same cannot be said for Miss Olivia DeHavilland. She did not see anything remotely funny.

Now 101 years old and living in royal exile from Hollywood in Paris, the living legend and two-time Oscar winner is now suing the producers of the Feud show for misrepresenting her.

We thought that Catherine Zeta-Jones did not do justice to Miss DeHavilland, a grande dame in the truest sense. A long-time friend and devoted supporter of Miss Bette Davis, Miss DeHavilland was shown in the series giving a series of petty interviews to the press.

She replaced Joan Crawford at Bette’s request in Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte because she had fortitude and never buckled under pressure. She now charges modern producer Ryan Murphy of portraying her as engaging in “gossip and other unkind, ill-mannered behavior.”

Miss DeHavilland is not gaga or in her dotage—and she believes FX producers have done her image and her person “emotional harm.”  We figure there is not a jury in the world that would disagree.

To show what a heel Ryan Murphy really is, he showed Miss DeHavilland no respect. He admits he never called her or notified her of the impending portrayal. What’s worse, he calls her “Olivia,” as if the slug ever met a woman of such class.

We figure Murphy, as a new age producer of no manners, has no respect for the past, and apparently no respect for his elders.

We admire Miss Olivia DeHavilland for her legal battles decades ago when she took on Jack Warner’s star system—and won. Murphy is decidedly the loser here.

Miss De Havilland is the Last of the Mohicans, which befits the classic model and usual choice of acting roles she carefully selected in her career.

Today we remain a staunch fan of a great star.

 

Sizzle Fizzle Melt Down for Holden & Hepburn

 DATELINE: Paris When It Sizzles

melt down Holden & Hepburn

With the godawful title of 1964’s Paris When It Sizzles, you have two glorious stars of the 1950s on the cusp of making lesser films.

William Holden plays his patented, jaded screenwriter (shades of Sunset Boulevard) with a drinking problem made light (though Holden went into detox during filming).

Hepburn hardly fits the role of a typist secretary in a Givenchy wardrobe, but the film is spritely written in Noel Coward witty style and gives us a bad movie within the less bad movie, using the play-within-a-play device.

Genres of grade-B films are broadly satirized, including Holden in the Dracula role for a few laughs. It’s an insider laugh, but we thought he should have costarred with his pal Lucille Ball as the secretary, but Hepburn is lover-ly.

Noel Coward actually is in the film as a movie producer, and he does have a marvelous scene with Holden. The cast is populated with unbilled names like Marlene Dietrich, Mel Ferrer, with Sinatra singing the fake movie title song, and Fred Astaire singing for a Hepburn scene.

Why did Audrey Hepburn hate it so? It probably was fun to make, and it is fun to watch when she calls Holden a well-preserved middle-aged man, or when he compares the movies Frankenstein to My Fair Lady.

Another notable star of the ‘50s plays “the second policeman,” in the fake movie and is reminded he is not an important character. He too is delightful, though we won’t spoil it by naming him.

George Axelrod’s script is flippant, and Paris is definitely there in the background. We enjoyed it, but it falls into the category of a most guilty pleasure.

 

 

Depp is Really a Dope

 DATELINE: Actors & Politics

Tonto Means Dopey Depp Johnny Dope

They don’t call him Johnny Dope for nothing.

The semi-intoxicated movie star named Johnny Depp called for the assassination of President Trump at a British music festival this week. He compared himself to another actor named John Wilkes Booth.

That comparison raises Depp a few steps above his talent range.

Wilkes Booth was a noted actor of stage, known for his good looks and his explosive talent. Depp has always fallen short on both levels.

Booth, of course, assassinated President Abraham Lincoln with a group of misfits he assembled. There’s no doubt the Depp probably can muster up a group of misfits from his devotees. That’s his likely fan club.

As far as actors killing presidents is concerned, we believe Booth was a better actor, but as Depp brags: he’s a better liar than Booth. Heavens, there is no end to his talent: until now.

Threatening to kill a president you disagree with is a new low even for Hollywood liberals.

John Wilkes Booth was a great Shakespearean actor even at a young age. However, Booth was dead at 27, after a manhunt by authorities. Depp is still alive and kicking and pushing 60.  After his recent comment, nobody will be chasing him, especially film producers.

We also believe the Depp has never really tried Shakespeare, which separates the actors from the drunken liars.

The Secret Service is said to be aware of Depp’s Kathy Griffin moment. If we are lucky, the man who has played Tonto will be sent into retirement, not a moment too soon. His performance was an insult to all Native Americans.

In case you’re wondering, Tonto is Spanish for stupid. That may be the highlight of Johnny Dope’s career. Put it on his tombstone.

Collateral Beauty: Time for Love & Death to Take a Holiday

 Mirren Kills'em.jpg Mirren Kills’em

DATELINE:  Bereavement Hallucinations

Every once in a while a movie comes along that invites insult and derision. This time it is  Will Smith’s dramedy called Collateral Beauty.

It has echoes of so many other, better stories, that we aren’t sure where to begin the diagnosis.

From the trailer you might believe this is a fantasy film on the lines of Love, Death, and Time, Meet in New York. You’d have been deceived, sort of.

A depressed man, dealing with the death of his child of six, has business associates that want to have evidence to commit him to a looney bin.

So, they arrange for actors to play Love, Death, and Time, to pay him a visit. It’s Gaslight—but as Helen Mirren, playing Death, discovers in the course of the movie, no one remembers that classic film, known for its good acting. No one will remember this one for that same reason.

When you start out with some of the most unlikable characters all woven into one plot, you are already behind the Oscar voting. Will Smith knows about being overlooked for a good performance—and lets his natural gray hairs show his love for acting this time as the movie lay dying.

We presume this is a cautionary tale—but we aren’t quite sure if we are being warned about sneaky business partners, cruel fate, or bloated self-pity. There is plenty of that stuff to go around in this movie. Just call it a sentimental journey.

Here’s the rub: you probably will watch it and hate yourself in the morning, which may be the opposite emotion the film wants you to have. It preaches at the audience enough to cause a backlash.

You may actually begin to think those “actors” playing at Death, Love, and Time, may be the real thing, like a coven of witches hanging out in the Big Apple for laughs.

At one point, Helen Mirren says, “This is not Noel Coward. It’s more like Chekhov.”  Yes, the movie never falls short on lofty pretensions. You could do worse.

Sherlock Meets Hornblower

DATELINE: Amazing Grace: The True Story

Sherlock meets Hornblower

Director Michael Apted put together a film called Amazing Grace in 2008 in which Sherlock Holmes would meet Horatio Hornblower. Well, not exactly, but Benedict Cumberbatch costarred with Ioan Gruffudd in the true story of young Wilberforce and young Pitt, British abolitionists.

 

The film was never embraced by the African American audience because it is plainly Masterpiece Theatre level Brit drama. It depicts the 20 year struggle of these English Members of Parliament to ban the slave trade in the British Empire around 1800.

Gloriously cast with actors with great faces, you can add Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Michael Gambon, Albert Finney, and Rufus Sewell, into the mix. You have a masterpiece of English actors.

Though not exactly action packed, it creates moments of powerful emotion as these intellectuals, Wilberforce and Pitt, boyhood chums, take on the powerful economic force that enslaved people.

It is well produced, has the flair of the era and aristocratic settings to tell the tale.

When the story of the timeless spiritual, “Amazing Grace,” is a secondary subplot, you have intriguing history alive. Albert Finney plays Gruffuld’s boyhood pastor, a former slave ship captain who wrote the song. Indeed, in one compelling scene, Cumberbatch presents Gruffud’s impressive rendition of the tune.

The film fell through the cracks initially because it did not go through television as its main channel. If one of the cable stations had picked it up, it would have become a biopic miniseries about ten hours long.

Instead, we have a throwback to the great historical movies that came out of England in the 1960s.

Franco & Quinto Canoodling

DATELINE:  Another Gay Role for Franco

canoodle

James Franco has played more gay characters than any other star this side of Franklin Pangborn, the 1930s character pantywaist for all occasions.

Franco surely has never admitted to being gay, but he has done every conceivable role from Allen Ginsburg to Hart Crane to King Cobra. Now he is taking another shot at docudrama playing a gay magazine editor married to Zachary Quinto (who is openly gay in real life).

This time Franco becomes so irritated with living in the wilds of Canada with his lover that he decides to go straight.

What? Yes, on the heels of the Matthew Shepherd murder, Franco’s real life editor decides it’s time for a change.

This movie will irritate both gay people and Christian fundamentalists. Gay life is played as lascivious, libertine, and drug addled, with Franco and Quinto in hot kisses. But, the dull Christian is even worse when Franco washes the henna rinse out of his hair and goes au naturel.

Will this film finally cure Franco out of playing gay roles on screen? Or will it scare him straight into the arms of another man in real life? Or at least admit it.

The answers are likely not in this picture of gay life from 1998 to 2008, and Michael the former gay man is not a role model for anyone. His transformation from firebrand of queer politics to turning his cheeks for God, is truly bizarre.

We think gay life is not stereotypical of the world of dance, drugs, and endless sex, but the world is easily turned from black to white in this movie.

The audience for I Am Michael may be limited to critical viewers who are gluttons for punishment.

 

 

Little Boy Lost in Lion

DATELINE:  Real Life Spiritual Journey

 Kidman and Sunny

Kidman with adorable Sunny Pawar

This international production called Lion may tap into the wide audience of movie fans in Australia and India with a true story that is reminiscent of classics like The Search with Monty Clift.

This time the lost boy, separated from his desperate and loving mother, is five years old and lost in a mass of humanity from New Delhi to Calcutta. After some brutal travails that are reminiscent of 19th century Dickens, he is adopted by acouplefrom Tasmania.

However, happy ever after is not in the script.

This also marks an interesting first for Nicole Kidman who adopts the little boy (Sunny Pawar)—and before she knows it, he is 25 and she is playing her first matron.

It happened to Mary Astor and Bette Davis with grace, and just a few short years after playing some of her most sensual roles, Kidman is into motherhood. There may be no looking back. She is, above all else, an excellent actress.

The trauma of the young boy seems to come back to haunt him as an adult. You can thank Google Earth for allowing him to conduct an armchair search of his geographical roots.

Because the story is all true, Saroo is a compelling figure both as a child and as Dev Patel in adulthood when his torment about his lost family becomes something that allows him to take charge of destiny.

The actual footage of in the post-script of the movie shows that Kidman’s role is not far afield of the adopting mother in the story. It will surely tug at your feelings as the young Indian’s spiritual journey is truly difficult emotionally.

When it comes to true stories, you can’t go wrong here. Since there are no lions in the story, you have to stick around for the closing to learn the reasoning behind the film title.

Everywhere a Movie Set in La-La Land

DATELINE: Movie Myths in Song & Dance

lalla land

 

You may remember La La Land as the film that won the Oscar for five minutes. It was a mistake, for sure. We aren’t sure if the film is supposed to be a take off, or a throwback, or just to feel good old-fashioned musical. It may be much more.

La la Land is some mystic, mythic American place where gridlock results in a mile-long sing-along.  If this is your cup of tea, stay out of Starbucks. If you love movies, this has more movie references than a Mel Brooks comedy. Yet, this one is a romantic gem.

Director Damien Chazelle manages to squeeze everything from Fellini’s 8 & a Half to Rebel without a Cause into his film, while resonating Gene Kelly’s American in Paris.

Ryan Gosling’s character wants to single-handedly save jazz for a new generation—and Chazelle does too. We thought there must be a trick to Gosling’s piano performance, which is bravura at the least. He sings and dances too.

Emma Stone’s eyes may be reminiscent of Bette Davis, but she is show busy to the nth degree. Attention, movie fans, we have a movie here, right down to the fluorescent green drapes out of Vertigo.

Dreams in La-La Land may be achievable—but at great cost, though the journey is richly detailed in this hypnotic movie.

The last musical we enjoyed was A Chorus Line, which we saw a dozen times because our friend Jimmy Kirkwood wrote it. He loved show biz stories too, and this would have grabbed him.

Though this movie missed out on its big Oscar, it’s the sort that will live in legend and re-telling and re-viewing in the generations to come. You cannot miss this film and call yourself a fan of Hollywood, jazz, or creative impulse.

Early Mohican Epic: The Last Shall Be First

DATELINE:  Bad Indians

Bruce Cabot   Bruce Cabot

Fenimore Cooper’s Romantic epic of the West takes place in upstate New York, of course, in 1757. It’s where and when the wild west begins in The Last of the Mohicans.

The 1936 version of the classic is extremely well-done, but has what you might expect from a studio version in the black & white age. The American Indians (before becoming Native Americans) are played by actors with fair skin and blue eyes. This is particularly noticeable for the most noble of all American Savages, Chingachgook.

The last of the bad Indians, Magua, is played terrifically by underrated Bruce Cabot, fresh off fighting as a stalwart hero against King Kong. This time he is barely recognizable with his Mohawk haircut and bare midriff. He is sullen, dangerous, and quite impressive.

The King Kong hangover continues for him. The musical score for the film is a rip-off of the overwrought music for the giant ape. In several sequences, Cabot seems to be re-enacting his other role on Skull Island in native garb.

His foil is Randolph Scott as the first true rifleman, Hawkeye. And, no one could be better in the role, as the actor shows early on his subtle humor in the part.

One of the truly odd changes is the reversal of Alice and Cora, the two daughters of the regiment. In the original story, Cora is dark-haired and tempestuous. She is called Alice here, and her blonde sister becomes Magua’s obsession. In Cooper’s book he appreciates her dark looks, not her blonde locks.

The story is further muddled by putting the key scenes with the last Mohican somewhere earlier in the plot—and ending with some kind of court-martial of Hawkeye. It doesn’t matter too much, as this turns out to be a pleasing version overall, hitting on the key moments of the story and casting truly fine actors.

Who Wears a Blackhat in Cyberspace?

DATELINE:  Guess Who?

Hemsworth or Pratt or Pine  Pratt, Pine, or Hemsworth?

When a friend called to tell us he’d seen a rather poor copy of a Michael Mann movie, we had the sorry news to inform him that Blackhat, a cyber crime thriller, recently filmed, was indeed a Michael Mann film by the venerable director of Last of the Mohicans and Collateral.

The star was reportedly Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, or Chris Pine. We figured it didn’t matter which one played the stalwart hacker, or disheveled hero. We were not prepared for the star to be a matinee idol in federal prison who somehow had learned the skills of James Bond and Jason Bourne by reading in his cell.

We have reached a critical mass in society when the only people who can save the country from computer crimes are already in jail. The government must come to a deal with the hacker to win his patriotic assistance. You know this is not a winning plot-line.

What’s worse is that the U.S. must team up with an American-educated Chinese communist military computer whiz to catch the cyber blackhat before he destroys the free enterprise market. Good grief.

As you might expect in this kind of movie, the story quickly changes from a thriller catching cyber crooks into a revenge tale going after deplorable sociopaths.

We won’t bore you with the details, lest we be accused of spoiling the plot. Suffice it to say, the FBI leader on the case is played by Viola Davis who is always worth watching and is the best part of the movie.

The stars of the film seem to be targets of the bad guys and are systematically picked off. We leave it to your imagination who ends up seeking revenge against the government and the cyber hacks.

We hate to pan a movie when so many good ones deserve our attention, but Blackhat has left us with little choice. Surely your time is more valuable than to be spent on this trifle.

A True Tale of NASA & Civil Rights

DATELINE:  Hidden Figures

NASAMonae, Henson, & Spencer Cut a Rug

When you cross two stories based on true events of the early 1960s, you have the NASA Mercury mission running head long into the Civil Rights movement.

Hidden Figures may be highly anticipated for telling a story few people may have ever heard about. NASA featured three black women, all highly intelligent and poorly utilized, in the nascient days of the space program. The movie tells their story of patience, goodwill, and triumph.

This may not be a feel-good movie, but it is superior entertainment. How these three women who are brilliant mathematicians could put up with the slights, the prejudice, and the petty treatment of so-called educated people at NASA may shock modern audiences.

Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, are bonded together in adversity, relegated to the women’s computer pool. They were literal computers, people who added up figures by hand, waiting for a chance to shine with their genius.

Leading the bigotry at NASA are a couple of surprising actors, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons, both who usually play highly sympathetic roles. Not here. Their supervisor is Kevin Costner, so you know where courage and heroism may emerge.

The women work with the original seven Mercury astronauts—and Henson’s character makes a deep impression on John Glenn.

The film will end happily—because we know our history. The journey of development and adversity will give greater appreciation to the struggles of women in the days before any kind of liberation. It is also an actors’ showcase with delightful performances all around.

Those who know Henson from her TV work in Empire will be surprised at her range here. Those who know her from Person of Interest will be happy she has found a superior film in which to perform.

Mifune: Brando & Duke Combined

DATELINE:  Japan’s Superstar Not Named Godzilla

toshiro

 

It was said that Japan exported two mammoth stars in the 1950s.  One was Godzilla, and the other was Toshiro Mifune.

As John Wayne was the quintessential Western star with director John Ford, Mifune was the quintessential Samurai star for director Akira Kurosawa.

In the documentary called Mifune: The Last Samurai, with narration by Keanu Reeves, Mifune was the Japanese Wayne with a touch of Brando. What intensity and dedication to art!

From 1950 onward, Mifune gave performances that made art house audiences in the United States jump up and take notice. He was far more influential on American film directors who took plots from Roshomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, and other classics—and remade them, using the stylized direction and the singular performance of Toshiro.

 

However much someone might imitate Mifune, no actor actually had his natural angst and tough spirit. Try as they might, Clint and Yul had to avoid copying Mifune. No one could quite catch the look of a man with an arrow through his neck as Toshiro.

He was a hard drinker and hard worker and made over a dozen films with Kurosawa before they parted ways.

His lifestory gives an angle to Japanese life and films that Americans might not know about—and Steven Spielberg offers his insights (working together for the film 1941), as well as two sons of Mifune in recollections.

Toward the end of his life, Mifune went up against Charles Bronson (Red Sun) and Lee Marvin (Hell in the Pacific) as a film antagonist, but his classic films are singular achievements. Though he played mostly samurai warriors and ronin, he showed considerable range as an actor. This documentary gives you a sampler of his talent.