Friday, November 27, 2009

Picture This!

After recently watching the music video for "Red Skies" by the Fixx, I came to two conclusions. One, while the whole video is laughably outdated (the bassist in the cape seems particularly out of place) and stylistically looks more like one of those embarrassing "music videos" you once shot with your friends at Six Flags; it was was probably viewed as totally, unironically, slick and awesome in 1982. Second, the lead singer, Cy Curnin, bears a striking resemblance to...

Leading summer blockbuster cinema auteur and generally "awesome" guy, Michael Bay.

You know for a guy who prides himself on being at the cutting edge of cinematic special effects and technology, his hair cut has been firmly frozen in time since the mid 80s.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Hook Brings You Back...

So I just found out that Ken Ober suddenly passed away over the weekend. While I was far too young and cable-less to have seen his work as host of "Remote Control" on MTV, I will forever remember him for his role as the main protagonist in the music video for Blues Traveler's "Hook" and to a lesser extent as the sleazy manager in the video for "Run Around". I hate to admit it but "Four" was one of the definitive albums of my youth; a key touchstone of my early development as a music fan. For about a year and a half, that album was inescapable. When VH1 wasn't playing the hell out of the videos, I got my daily dose it from the school bus driver who firmly planted the bus dial on WEBE 108, the local Adult Contemporary station where it was basically played on the hour.

While I'm not going start wearing a KO patch on my shirt or anything (in fact, I'm actually more bummed out by the other recent death of Edward Woodward aka The Equalizer), it is still a little sad nevertheless.

Farewell, Ken Ober aka the guy from "Hook".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Happens When the Money Runs Out!

Anytime I see a fairly respectable, Academy Award winning actor with a history of generally prudent film choices star in some questionable high concept fare or carry a one week and done cheapie or some mindless live action Disney drivel or have a pointless role in some creatively bankrupt sequel, I always suspect that they secretly have some severe financial problem. I'd like to think that these are generally intelligent people with enough aesthetic discretion to know what is a decent script and what is a total embarrassment. Maybe it's serious tax issues or ruinous divorce judgments or severely misplaced investments or a cripplingly costly cocaine addition; whatever the unknown reason it may be I give them the benefit of the doubt that at the end of the day their hand is being forced by the overwhelming need of the paycheck.

How else could you explain Sir Ben Kingley in "BloodRayne" or "Lucky Number Slevin"? Something had to give when Jack and Diane signed up for "Something's Gotta Give". Was Dame Judy Dench really that blown away by the script for "The Chronicles of Riddick" that she had to get on board? How desperately in debt was Jon Voight in 2004 that he was forced to play the villain in both "Superbabies: Baby Genisues 2" and something called "Karate Dog"? Have you seen what Kathy Bates has been up to for the last five years? What sort of extended financial quagmire could be the reason for the last ten or so years of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career?

So with the recent news of the staggering financial problems of one of the biggest Oscar winning offenders, Nicholas Cage, my pet theory may actually have gained some credibility. Looking at his career after winning the Best Actor Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas" in 1995, it's pretty obvious that he had drifted away from his more humble cinematic roots (pretty sure he won't be doing any Coen Brothers movies anytime soon) and fully embraced his new career as a blockbuster actor. Sure every once in a while he'd flash some of his acting chops like in "Adaptation" but for the most part it was popcorn action flicks ("The Rock", "Gone in 60 Seconds", "Con Air", the "National Treasure" movies) or slick studio comedy-dramas where he essentially plays himself on auto-pilot ("The Family Man", "Matchstick Men", "Lord of War", "The Weather Man").

On the whole it was a pretty fine career, the sort of generally accepted work that you'd expect from a popular a-list actor. You knew he was in it for the money but he obviously had enough clout to choose his scripts. However as his spending started to spiral out of control and his financial troubles started to mount, you can clearly see that his discretion was starting to take a severe slide as more and more questionable roles kept trickling in. It think you can trace it back to his all time ludicrous performance in the completely unnecessary "The Wicker Man" in 2006. Next came "Next" in 2007. His lone feature for 2008 was the offensively terrible "Bangkok Dangerous" (was he supposed to be an Asian guy here?). 2009 has thus far shaped up to be another banner year with "Knowing" (Cage sees into the future yet again) and voice over work in "G-Force" (that guinea pig movie) and "Astro-Boy".

As his serious financial problems grow, the fear is that he will really start to lose more and more discretion with his movies choices and eventually be driven completely by the needs of his mountainous debt. According to IMDB 2010 and beyond already don't appear all that promising (looks like "Ghost Rider 2" is in development). If Mr. Cage doesn't start taking better care of his personal finances and cuts back on the dinosaur skull bidding wars, he might perhaps one day find himself actually making a snuff film for 8mm 3 (yes they actually made a 2!).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Red Letter Date in the History of Science

It's downright inexcusable that I have gone through most of today, completely oblivious as to the historical significance of the 5th of November (and no, I'm not talking about Guy Fawkes Day, you limey). On this night, November 5th, 1955, 54 years ago, noted German-American Scientist/Inventor Dr. Emmett L. Brown, after a serendipitous slip off his toilet seat while attempting to hang a wall clock, ultimately uncovered the secrets of time travel.

As we all remember from his famous recollection of the event to his young friend Marty in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall on the historic eve of the first manned trip through time:
"I remember it vividly. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the edge of the sink. And when I came to I had a revelation, a vision, a picture in my head. A picture of this...this is what makes time travel possible. The flux capacitor!"
Little did the we know what sort of monumental Biff Tannen-related implications this discovery would end up having on mid-80s suburban California...and the world.

Now I've got to go home and hang my ceremonial clock over my toilet.

Happy Flux Capacitor Day Everybody!