Boy Culture in Homestretch

 DATELINE:  Production Deadline Looms

 Darryl    Actor & Author Darryl Stephens
The sequel to the phenomenal hit 2006’s Boy Culture, an extraordinary high-quality movie about gay life, may be about to hit the wall.

With days to go, the project desperately needs backers to reach its Kickstarter goal of $50,000. Nearly 300 diehard fans of the original movie have pledged to help produce a TV series to follow up on the characters and the culture.

Darryl Stephens is signed to reprise his role from the original show. You can pick up his autobiography on Amazon.

Time, in fact, maybe the worst enemy of gay movie culture. With only a few days left, will the gay community–and others– come through to help save the project?

Boy Culture should not be the purview of a few gay men. It should be the interest of anyone who believes the world of LGBT deserves positive presentation.

We saw a similar project come to fruition through this means, which ended with a brilliant little slice-of-gay-life movie called Chasing Pavement with Remy Mars.
Those who appreciate the need of artists to have backing need to step up again–this time for director Allan Brocka to weave his movie magic again.

Perhaps some glorious Angel will fly down to the set and pre-production group like a Deus ex machina and lay on $10,000 (buckeroos, not bitcoin) to the producers, director, and writer.

Perhaps one of those show busy angels does it in the movies, or even in a TV series. However, in real life, perhaps you need to be involved.

We anxiously await word on the fate of Boy Culture: The Series.

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Space Children: Jack Arnold Classic

DATELINE:  1958 Gem

brothersPlaying brothers: Johnny Crawford & Michel Ray

One of the great under-appreciated directors of the 1950s is largely forgotten now, Jack Arnold. Among his best known films are Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man and No Name on the Bullet. He transcended genre.

In 1958 he tried another science fiction flick that didn’t quite win the cult following of his earlier movies. That was his interesting examination of a space alien that puts mind control on kids in The Space Children.

Mind you: this was way before sweet E.T. and monstrous Children of the Damned took over the minds of juveniles.

It helped that Arnold was fearless with child actors. He simply found the best and let them play it. In this case he used Johnny Crawford, before the Rifleman, and Michel Ray, before Lawrence of Arabia. As brothers, they are as good as the Hardy Boys.

He also cast some of the well-known character actors of the era:  Raymond Bailey (of Beverly Hillbillies), Jackie Coogan (of Addams Family), and Russell Johnson (of Gilligan’s Island), as his adult problems for the kids.

Michel Ray is particularly effective with eyes that seem to presage Nick Hoult 60 years later. It’s Ray who has the ray-beam power to paralyze adults, through his alien host.

These kids are children of rocket scientists—and their mission is to sabotage their fathers’ prototype Star Wars missile program. Yes, this movie is a tad ahead of its time.

The film is subtle and not given over to the histrionics we have come to expect from puerile space movies.

Perhaps the title misled audiences: this was clearly a movie for adults to ponder, not to titillate the popcorn set.

This lost gem can be streamed on your viewing device and clocks in at 68 minutes: it’s a dreamy entertainment.

Last Days of Warner Oland: On Anniversary of Death

DATELINE: Charlie Chan & Curry College

WO Oland in character

Ten years ago a little documentary biography was put together on actor Warner Oland. It can be found online.

We have long been a fan of his gentle, Method-acting style, immersing himself into playing (and living life) as the legendary Charlie Chan, Earl Derr Biggers’s famous detective.

Oland, with his exotic name, was the first and best of all the Chans—so much so that many thought he was Asian. His heavy eyelids made him look the part. However, he was born in Sweden, next to Garbo, one of their earliest American immigrants to acting.

Oland loved playing Chan, and even gave interviews in character—but his drinking problem seemed to have exacerbated with a doomed marriage in 1938.  On the set of his last film Charlie Chan Ringside, he simply walked off the studio lot and disappeared.

The movie was shelved, and Oland went back to his native Sweden in the pre-war turmoil of Nazi troubles. There, welcomed home by Swedes, he caught pneumonia and died. His last Chan film was Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo, a delightful performance. His close friend Keye Luke loved him as a Number One son might! Oland was cultured and cerebral.

Oland caught our attention years earlier, of course, on old-TV film festivals—but our real fascination came when we discovered he graduated from Curry College, then located in Boston as an elocution/speech school for actors.

We cut our own teeth at Curry for 30 years as a professor, of film studies, no less.

When we watched a Chan film this week, we went to the ubiquitous Youtube to find all our favorites. To our shock, we learned Warner Oland died 79 years ago the day we found a slight biographical movie called Charlie Chan is Missing: the Last Days of Warner Oland.

Charming and mysterious, Oland preferred his home in central Massachusetts, not far from our preferred home, and his wife had his body brought back to Southboro where his gravestone was the step to his beloved home in that town.

The film is short and chock full of info, but the clues to Warner Oland’s strange character disappeared with him.

M-J 12 Versus The Vatican, Book Review of Shadow War

DATELINE:  Old-fashioned Murder Meets Sci-Fi

MJ12kindlecover

A new writer has entered the scene with a work of fiction about the growing belief that there is a shadow war occurring with secret government technology.

This new book by Ralph T. O’Neal, III, contends that the Vatican is at loggerheads with the top-secret extra-governmental agency called MJ-12, a body that knows something about space aliens they refuse to tell the public. They may know as much as ICE may know about regular aliens in America. This may be Trump’s world of espionage, technology, and shadow warfare.

Mt. Graham Observatory in Arizona is the central location of the tale about two agents, one from NSA and another from FBI, who find themselves embroiled in an old-fashioned murder mystery two miles high.

With altitude sickness complicating the shenanigans of MJ-12 holding a secret meeting with the Vatican about their infra-red telescope and its discoveries, you have personal motives of characters undermining the technology.

Without giving too much away in the plot, the books uses something called “FotoFootnotes” that take the story to a level not quite seen in graphic novels. You have consistent images and explanations of the estoterica of the storyline.

Throw in the endangered red squirrels of Arizona and a bizarre transgender genius named Bel Esprit, and you have all the makings of an Agatha Christie-style tale.

The story is quick-moving and often dotted with humorous asides, but it will take the reader to an enjoyable, thrilling reading experience.

 

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.

Charming Caper: How to Steal a Million

 DATELINE:  Masterpieces on Satire

 

 How to

If you look at this movie’s pedigree, you cannot go wrong. How to Steal a Million was a bit of fluff and a trifle from 1966 when stars were really able to carry a movie.

Audrey Hepburn can be forgiven for some of the ridiculous 1960s Givenchy outfits, but she is perfect in them—and her costar Peter O’Toole matches her every step of the way, even commenting it is time to give Givenchy a day off.

A wealthy socialite, Hepburn must orchestrate a theft from a Paris museum of a fake statue she owns but puts on loan in error! The museum is about to have the priceless fake examined—and she will be found out—and her father sent to prison.

O’Toole was escaping his epic dramas, for some fluff, with this film.

Director William Wyler (Mrs. Miniver, Ben Hur, Roman Holiday, The Heiress, and countless other classics) knows how to deliver high class and high quality. On top of that, it is one of John Williams’s first music scores (Jaws, Star Wars, etc.).

Combine this with top-of-their-career performances by Hepburn and O’Toole and you will forgive some of the anachronisms of the 1960s. O’Toole even gives us a quick impersonation of one of Hepburn’s earlier leading men (Humphrey Bogart, Sabrina).

Hugh Griffith is Hepburn’s reprobate father and Charles Boyer is around for a laugh, but Eli Wallach surprises as the wealthy boorish American billionaire art collector.

Filmed in Paris for atmosphere, the clever caper unfolds under the aegis of O’Toole who is actually a detective who uncovers art forgeries.

 

 

Logo Wars: Michael Jordan v. Gronk

DATELINE:  Sports Deadlock

 logo warsIt takes balls.

 

Michael Jordan’s silhouette image on all the junk he markets, around since the 1980s, is called Jumpman. We never knew his dunkman had a nickname.

Now, because Gronk has filed an image for his brand of products that resembles a silhouette of an athlete in action, we have a conflict that will be settled in the biggest court/gridiron, that of the boardroom of highly paid corporate lawyers.

Jordan and Gronk are prepared to go head to head, or shadow to shadow for the title King of Greed.

The problem for the two athletes and their endless money making operations is that some dumb kid will confuse Jordan with Gronk. Yes, you may buy a basketball sneaker and think it’s for playing football.

We know our educational systems are dumbed down more than ever—but we thought the emergence of emoji and sign language has sent kids back to the level of cave dwellers with an eye for cave art.

So, you mean they cannot tell the difference between a football shape and a basketball shape?

We are talking apples and oranges here, or at least spheres of another world.

Two tall athletes, arms raised, legs akimbo, holding some totem object is sending legal minds into overdrive. You can never tell when someone may spike a basketball, or dunk a football.

We have seen idiot players score a touchdown and then dunk the football over the goal bar. You can easily forget what sport you are watching.

It’s all the same when it comes to millions of dollars and corporate greed. It’s all part of the modern gladiator combat of American sports. We think Gronk and Jordan ought be holding tridents and nets, versus short swords and shields.

Oh, wait, they already did that sports combat scene in Spartacus. It was Woody Strode versus Kirk Douglas, all for the edification of decadent Laurence Olivier.

We are always happy to assume the role of Olivier in a combat between Gronk and MJ.

Paid for Sex: Gay Porn Stars

 DATELINE:  Awful Movie!

 Tommy Lettuce Rhymes with cabbage.

Never having been paid for sex, we may be hard-pressed to evaluate a film called I’m a Porn Star: Gay 4 Pay.

Our sense is that if you’re not committed fully to something, you probably won’t do a good job. The handsome young men in this film seem to be having a lot of fun– but insist they are not gay. It’s done for the money, but no one mentions that pay-rates are not exactly in the high tax-bracket range at Sean Cody studios.

The film gives us interviews of six people on the street, and a dozen studio studs who do gay porn—and you have instant godawful movie. The subject seems more apt for a late-night college-dorm debate than a documentary movie. However, we have never let our natural timidity prevent us from criticizing a movie.

All the young men who star in these gay porn Internet movies look like cookie-cutter gym-rats. They come in all sizes, but we primarily see only the tush, which is now de rigueur even in a Disney production.

This so-called scientific study includes commentary from one, lonely director who must deal with callow young dudes learning what it is to pretend to like something they don’t like. They like to say it’s acting.

The film starts out showing us a bunch of legitimate movie stars—claiming they were straight, but played gay roles in big budget movies. However, about half of the actors cited as straight were actually gay in real life. But, let’s not confuse the issue.

We aren’t sure what you call someone who pretends to enjoy gay sex, but really dislikes it. Some of these actors/models insist they will never do any gay deed again in real life after their porn career is over. Some others wink and nod.

There is an audience for a documentary like this. It’s called the undecided vote.

Is It Real??? or Just Another Movie!*

realkindlecover cover pictures include real and fake!

DATELINE:  New Book of Movie Reviews

Ossurworld wants to announce that a collection of reviews and commentaries on documentaries, docudramas, and biopics, is now available on Amazon.com for discerning movie fans and smart readers.

If Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” he’d be accused today of being a fake news critic…We have mixed up the real documentaries with those based on a true story in this compendium. You likely can guess when you have a real documentary on your hands, but not always. Sometimes it’s a biopic, or a docudrama, or just speculative facts and opinion. Sometimes the film is a masterpiece, and sometimes it’s just another movie.

We are sure that Ossurworld will start giving these away with a set of dishes sometime in the future. We think these reviews are swell, sometimes even funny. We hope you will too.

*Includes a few TV reviews.

 

Kroc Pot Founder

Kroc

DATELINE:  Your Inner Trump

Giving a tour de force performance, Michael Keaton almost wills the movie to be successful. Yet, there is the sound of Beetlejuice coming through when Ray Kroc makes his rapid-fire sales pitch. It is, at first, amusing—and then rather diabolical. It’s like watching Donald Trump’s “how to” video.

It was not the year for a movie about a Trump-style businessman in Hollywood. Just ask Meryl Streep. The Founder tells how McDonalds food chain grew to a billion-burgers-sold by hook and crook.

Other than that, the story reveals how Ray Kroc took the McDonald Brothers idea for fast food and ran with it.

Ray Kroc was not beyond taking credit for the ideas of the original McDonalds creators, but he also had to fight their small-minded integrity to quality. Kroc had traveled around the country selling milk shake mixers and recognized whatever quality McDonalds had was already ten times better than the competition in 1954.

He skimmed a little to expand the business. Shake well and stir.

When you hear Kroc’s explanation of how the Golden Arches fit in with the American flag and church crosses, you almost feel his fervor to eat a hamburger as an act of America becoming great.

What starts out as a visionary film depicting the wonderful ingenuity of the original McDonald brothers deteriorates rapidly into a tale of corporate greed, the side-effect of Ray Kroc’s vision. Beetlejuice in your head can do that.

The film has been ignored for probably glorifying crass commercialism in a Hollywood that thinks it is better than thou. This movie celebrates the Middle America out of fashion among those who hate fast food, environmental carelessness, and persistent ambition.

Dare we call them blue-nose Democrats?

You may not have to be a rugged individualist Republican to become a fan of this movie, but chances are you will be more inclined to see the virtues here among the dubious and ruthless business practices and Seven Deadly Sins.

As a movie depiction of an era and how to rake in a billion per year, this one will fascinate you– if you are willing to drive-thru.

Twin Peaks, Trump Plains, & Celtics Lows

DATELINE:  LeBron James as Laura Palmer, Trump as D.B. Cooper

glowing orb

Chicken or egg? We can’t figure out if the Trump Administration has prepared us for the new series Twin Peaks, or whether Twin Peaks has prepared us for the continuing weirdness of the Trump presidency.

When we see President Trump putting his hands on a glowing orb, we know there is a conspiracy of billionaires to control the world. Of course, it is merely a futuristic ribbon-cutting scene from the most recent Star Wars movie. Either that, or it is opening a gateway to an alternate universe, like the plots of Twin Peaks.

By the same token, we feel as if watching the Cleveland Cavaliers with the Boston Celtics is like knitting by Madame Defarge while royalty is having their heads chopped off.

On Twin Peaks, agent DB Cooper has returned to the northwest after disappearing for 25 years. That David Lynch has such a sense of humor.  So far, McLachlan has not rubbed any glowing orbs, but has kissed dead Laura Palmer (Cheryl Lee).

On the Celtics, little Cousin IT (Isaiah Thomas) and AB (Avery Bradley) are from the same neck of the woods in Washington state which happens to be the setting for Twin Peaks. It could explain a lot about how the Celtics are playing like Laura Palmer’s body wrapped in plastic.

Even stranger, we were amazed to see Kyle McLachlan and Sheryl Lee looking just like they stepped out of a 1990s TV show.  It becomes even more amazing when David Lynch has to inject a phrase at the end of every episode of the show that the episode is dedicated to the memory of one of the cast members who is now dead. We mean really really dead dead, like the log lady Catherine Coulson and the FBI agent played by Miguel Ferrer.

As for the dead Celtics, they are merely playing in an alternate universe, sort of like Twin Peaks 25 years later. If there is a glowing orb in the NBA, they better start rubbing it now. Lebron is no Laura Palmer.

Laurel & Hardy Tribute

Babe & Stan Return

A relatively unknown BBC radio drama is turned into a slight one-hour movie about comedy team Laurel and Hardy. It is set in 1957 when Stan makes a death-bed visit to his old teammate after being estranged for a year. It’s called Stan, but should be Stan & Ollie.

Since Laurel always wanted to be a stand-alone act, the title is Stan.

For fans who remember them from two-reelers, this short film is a joy forever. It explains in flashbacks how their rocky start together transformed each—and made them immortal Hollywood icons.

What makes this little film so special and why it works is all in the casting. Not only are the elderly men reminiscent of the duo, but so are their younger versions. As the old men, with Hardy suffering from a stroke are Jim Norton as Stan and Trevor Cooper as Oliver. The younger versions are extraordinary too, lending to the verisimilitude: Nik Howden (Laurel) and Mike Goodenough (Hardy).

Of course, the younger generation, used to SNL weened comedians, may have a tough time identifying with the Great Depression duo. Laurel and Hardy do analyze their importance, to make their lives feel worthy, at the end. They were ordinary, and made audiences see humor in the worst of times.

Stan recalls their initial teaming and how he opposed it. Though Laurel was actually the brains of the twosome, he basically came up with gags and directed their scenes. Yet, Oliver Hardy made contributions that Laurel recognized as highly valuable.

Stan re-lives his past by watching their old films and thinking of new bits—but time has passed them by. With bittersweet moments, this is a fitting tribute to Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.

Available on Amazon Video.

Case of Bird House Ghost Town

DATELINE:  Excerpt from CASEBOOK FOR OLD MILL CIRCLE

BH1     BH 5

PROVIDED FOR READERS, here is a sample from Ossurworld’s book:

At one time, the plethora of various birdhouses must have been teeming with aviary lifestyles on Mill Circle.

BH2

Perhaps there was a baby boom of starlings, blue jays, hummingbirds and robins, but that time has passed. Nowadays, the stylishly hewn bird houses are vacant. You couldn’t let them if you banned cats from prowling the neighborhood. Only woodpeckers make homes in the trees, eschewing hand-made homes by humans. Their hollow tree holes are far more rustic.

BH 4      BH 6

What happened that the birds have chosen not to return here where berries, bugs, and flowers, hopelessly beckon. Was the address not as desirable as Capistrano?

Was there a murder in the neighborhood decades ago, as happened as the old Yellow Spring? After that, people avoided Mill Circle no matter how favorable the healing waters.

A catastrophe must have befallen the birds on the wing that there is no hospitality to be found among the few houses still remaining on the Circle. So, highly placed birdhouses remain empty, becoming shells of their former existence.

We have a ghost town of birdhouses on the street.

BH 3

Bird feeding has fallen out of fashion. If you are not overrun by the clever squirrels finding new ways to break into the bird feeders and adjoining houses, you have the larger, more frightening notion that black bears will enter the neighborhood.

Warnings about feeding the bears, even inadvertently, has reached an audience that now stops putting seeds out for the migratory visitors.  And, the denizens such as Canadian geese are not suitable for small houses. They need a large nest with three or four bedrooms for all their goslings.

And, so the birdhouse with the white picket fence nearby, and the house with the thatched roof, as well as the two-story replica of the Old Haunted Mansion, are ghostly reminders of a past when song birds would awaken the residents.

If ghost birds haunt the circle, they are keeping the human ghosts company and maintaining the charm of the old haunt.

Beetlejuice, Then and Now

DATELINE:  Still No Sequel

Beetlejuice

After nearly 30 years, we took another look at Beetlejuice. It had been a seminal film of its era, popular and launching careers. We expected to see Tim Burton and Michael Keaton in a series of sequels to the ghostly ghoul.

The film featured a bureaucratic hereafter with endless waiting rooms and hideous looking victims of death. It was a winning formula.

Instead, several times projects were announced and fell through. Keaton worked with Burton again, but never could they come together for another Beetlejuice extravaganza. The latest one was rumored for 2014, but no one put film in the cameras.

As with any 30-year old movie, you may be struck by how timeless it remains. It seems fairly fresh with reviewing, but most unsettling is how youthful the cast appears. They are all so fresh-faced. It was a long time ago.

Gena Davis plays the dead young wife and is delightful, and the man who plays her husband Alec Baldwin may be the one with the biggest career in the past decades, though Keaton has had flashier roles, he has been inconsistent.

Winona Ryder was a slip of a morbid girl in this one, dressed in black, mourning her life, the only one who can see the specters. We thought Glenn Shadix as the rotund villain would have had a greater career, but this was his highlight. When he died in 2010, he wanted the “Day-O” song played at his funeral.

Others in the cast were Robert Goulet, Catherine O’Hara, and Dick Cavett. Two out of three have survived. Goulet is now on the other side. Jeffrey Jones was once everywhere, but has been less visible since an unseemly brush with the law a few years back.

If a remake were to occur, Keaton in his heavy makeup could still play it in timeless fashion—but the others, as ghosts, would hardly be able to play.

Ryan Lochte Dances Up a Storm

DATELINE: Highway Robbery

duh

With word that Ryan Lochte may join Dancing with the Stars TV show, we have our tutus ready. The Brazilian police in Rio want Ryan to dance to a different drummer—and want him back in Rio.

There is no better way to wash that scandal right out of your hair than to appear on that feel good TV show that every oldster in America appreciates. So, we doubt he will return to the scene of the alleged crime.

We have no idea if Ryan Lochte can do the double step, the Texas two-step or the proverbial two-face but those dance moves can be learned. Dance time in a Brazilian prison for a year may be like a bad line dance.

Dancing with the Stars always likes to take a bold, controversial athlete and put him through his paces. He usually fits in right next to the aging movie star and the son or daughter of a secondary forgotten celebrity.

In that way Lochte is the perfect candidate to be voted out on the first week. We all know that the voting has nothing to do with talent or a ability to do the soft shoe. It has to do with popularity. It’s like running for king of the prom or president of the United States.

With a plethora of third rate crooked and otherwise dubious athletes available for a selection other than Lochte, we find the choice of Ryan to be rather a bad tango with infamy.

We understand that Aaron Hernandez has time on his hands to choreograph a dance routine.