follow us in feedly
‘Hardware Wars,’ the ‘Star Wars’ parody that became a blockbuster
07.07.2014
09:27 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
Hardware Wars

Hardware Wars
 
Hardware Wars is a thirteen-minute video parody of Star Wars that was released the same year as the original, 1977. Directed by Ernie Fosselius (the intro splash touts “20th Century FOSS”), the spoof, which is structured as a coming-soon preview, is essentially a MAD Magazine takedown come to life—albeit not quite as funny. The central joke is that all of the expensive sci-fi effects are replaced with cheapo footage of flying toasters, irons, and so forth. Made for a mere $8,000, it grossed, at a conservative estimate, $500,000, making it more profitable, on a percentage basis, than Star Wars itself.

George Lucas himself, who has not often expressed enthusiasm for satires of his saga, is fond of the parody, calling it “a cute little film.” According to Salon, it is “the only non-Lucasfilm product to be sold in Star Wars Insider magazine.” 
 
Hardware Wars
 
The names of the characters are in the purest eye-roll spirit of MAD: “Fluke Starbucker,” “Ham Salad,” “Augie ‘Ben’ Doggie,” “Darph Nader,” “Princess Anne-Droid”—are these even jokes? No matter. The movie derives from an earlier, cruder form of parody than we’re used to today, in which invoking an entity with any kind of offbeat spin serves as the joke, regardless of whether or not it makes any sense. The conceit of Hardware Wars is to twit the big-budget techno-wizardry of Star Wars by replacing the weaponry, robots, and spacecraft with flashlights, toasters, vacuum cleaners, and the like. Big metal flashlights stand in for light sabers. Leia’s spiral braids are represented as cinnamon rolls. “Chewchilla” is portrayed by a Cookie Monster puppet painted brown.

Fascinatingly, “Fluke Starbucker” was portrayed by Scott Mathews, who later compiled an incredibly impressive resume in the music industry. He’s won several Grammies…. Wikipedia is usefully concise here:
 

[Mathews] has produced Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Rosanne Cash, Jerry Garcia, Huey Lewis, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe, Dick Dale, Sammy Hagar, Van Dyke Parks and many others. He has written songs and/or recorded with ... Barbra Streisand to John Lee Hooker, including Keith Richards, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, David Bowie, Steve Perry, Johnny Cash, Todd Rundgren, Robert Cray, Ry Cooder, The Tubes, Sammy Hagar, Jefferson Starship and Raphael Saadiq. He has performed on various musical instruments with Neil Young, John Fogerty, Kid Rock, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana, Boz Scaggs, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Brown, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, Tom Waits, Chris Isaak and Joe Satriani

 
Of Hardware Wars, Mathews, who was all of 22 when the movie was made, avers, “I think a lot of the charm of that movie is the fact that we didn’t really know what we were doing. ... It was cinéma vérité at its finest. I’m sitting there spaced out and cracking up in some of those scenes.”

In 1997 Lucas began releasing the “altered” versions of the original trilogy, and Michael Wiese, who had produced Hardware Wars, decided that it was time to produce an updated version of his low-budget classic. The intense reaction of the movie’s fans, at least at the San Diego Comic-Con screening attended by Freeling, revealed levels of obsessiveness reminiscent of the fans of Star Wars.

Says Cindy Freeling, who played “Princess Anne-Droid”:

“It was unbelievable. The room was jampacked. There were people flowing out into the hall. The audience knew every single little detail of the movie. I’ve certainly seen Hardware Wars, but I don’t have every frame memorized. Whenever a ‘special defect’ would come up, the whole audience would start cheering and clapping. They knew right when it was happening.”

 
Hardware Wars
 
However, just as with Lucas’ masterpiece, the decision to clean up some of the technical shortcomings of the original was not universally well received by the diehard—in the case of Hardware Wars the decision is more ironic, given that the cheesy low-budget tactics were the central point of the movie.

Scott Mathews:

“When Ernie was transferring all the old footage from the original print, they had all this amazing gear where they could embellish it. They told Ernie that they could erase the strings! They weren’t checking with him: They were telling him they would be doing that in their transfer. Ernie tried to explain it. He said: ‘No, wait. We put extra strings on there so you could see them! There’s more light shining on the strings than there is on the flying iron!’ He got a kick out of it. These were the guys that he was collaborating with to make the next phase happen. And they don’t even get the premise of the original.”

Herewith, the original cut of Hardware Wars:
 

 
via Lawyer, Guns & Money; most of the information in this post comes from this 2002 Salon article by Bob Calhoun

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Behind-the-scenes of ‘Harold and Maude’
07.07.2014
09:06 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Harold and Maude
Hal Ashby
Ruth Gordon
Bud Cort


 
Here are some delightful behind-the-scenes photographs from one of my all time favorite movies Harold and Maude. I wish I could have found more, but sadly it looks like this is most of ‘em. If you know of any other BTS photographs that exist, please feel free to post them in the comments.


Director Hal Ashby prepares one of actor Bud Cort’s fake suicides
 

Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon
 

Bud Cort and Hal Ashby
 

Suzanne Somers was originally to appear in a cemetery scene but the sequence was cut
 

Ruth Gordon and Hal Ashby
 

Bud Cort and Hal Ashby
 

Hal Ashby, Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon
 

Ruth Gordon, Hal Ashby and Bud Cort
 

Hal Ashby and the DP of ‘Harold and Maude’ John A. Alonzo
 

Hal Ashby serves up a model of Bud Cort’s head for one of Harold’s fake suicide attempts
 

Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon
 

Harold and Maude reunion: Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon and friend, 1981
 
Below, a short video with a few more behind-the-scenes photos:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Chantal Akerman’s 1968 short, ‘Saute ma Ville’ (‘Blow up My Town’) starring herself, age 18
07.07.2014
07:21 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Chantal Akerman


 
Director Chantal Akerman is most famous for her feminist masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, wherein the seemingly unremarkable protagonist sells sex to provide for her son and herself. The prostitution is portrayed as just another part of her banal daily routine (the 201 minute long film really emphasizes routine), until an anomaly disrupts her life’s pattern, and her entire world is thrown into chaos.

Akerman was only 24 at the time of the film’s release, but her short, Saute ma Ville, or Blow up My Town, is in many ways the prelude to Jeanne Dielman, and she made that at the age of 18. Akerman actually dropped out of film school before completing a single term to work on it, selling stocks and working in an office to fund the twelve and a half minutes that eventually paved the way for her three hour plus opus.

As with Jeanne Dielman, intense, oppressive boredom and domestic isolation are the context for our heroine. Akerman herself stars as the principle, frenetically humming her way through a kind of manic episode. What starts as a routine evening at home descends into a frenzy; she tapes up the door to her cramped apartment, she smears and flings cleaning products with wild abandon, and she goes from shining her shoes to scrubbing her actual leg with the stiff-bristled brush.

Akerman credits her artistic awakening to a viewing of Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou at the age of 15, and the French New Wave influence is obvious—themes of torturous, lonely bourgeois life told with intimacy and informality. Akerman however, adds a horrifying dimension of psychosis that both discomfits and fascinates.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Happy Birthday Ken Russell
07.03.2014
07:57 am

Topics:
Movies
Television

Tags:
Ken Russell


 
Happy Birthday to Ken Russell, born July 3rd in 1927. Once the so-called enfant terrible of British cinema, Russell produced a dazzling array of powerful, vibrant and intelligent movies during his lifetime, which placed him among the greatest film and television directors of the second half of the twentieth century.

His love of cinema started early in childhood when he escaped to the local picture house to watch innumerable flickering matinees with his mother. The films fired his imagination, in particular Fritz Lang’s Die Nibelungen and the early monster movie The Secret of the Loch, both of which would be filtered into his later work (Dance of the Seven Veils, Altered States and Lair of the White Worm). At first Russell had ambitions to be a ballet dancer, but this was superseded by a passion for photography, which he studied at Walthamstow Technical College in London. After service in the Royal Navy, where he once presented a musical number of fishermen darning their nets with sailors in drag sewing their silk stockings, he began taking photographs of teenagers—most famously his series on “Teddy Girls,” which were published in Picture Post. Looking at these early photographs, you can see hints of Russell’s distinctive cinematic framing and compositional style

It was a small leap from stills to motion pictures and Russell started directing small films for very little money, notably Amelia and the Angel and a documentary on Lourdes. These helped Russell secure work as a documentary director with BBC’s prestigious Monitor arts series. Here, under the guidance of editor Huw Wheldon, Russell developed the form of the drama-documentary and made a series of radical films on artists and composers such as Elgar, Dante’s Inferno, The Debussy Film, Song of Summer and the banned Dance of the Seven Veils.
 

 
The flamboyance of his talent could not be contained by television and by the late sixties Russell felt he was repeating himself and therefore made the move to cinema. Over the next five decades Ken Russell made a series of consistently brilliant movies from The Billion Dollar Brain, the Oscar-winning Women in Love, the controversial The Devils, Savage Messiah, Mahler, a version of The Who’s rock opera Tommy, Altered States and The Rainbow.

Russell’s approach to film and television has influenced generations of directors, including such luminaries as Stanley Kubrick, Lindsay Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Derek Jarman and Baz Luhrmann.

Though influential and greatly loved, Russell did have to deal with several overbearing and self-important journalists, who made small careers out of attacking his work. Russell famously attacked one such critic on live TV with a rolled-up copy of his newspaper review. “Unkle Ken” was well aware that had he been Italian and called “Russellini” such critics would have sung his praises. No matter—Ken Russell’s films will long outlive such superfluous individuals.
 

 
To celebrate Unkle Ken’s birthday, here is one of his early, pioneering television documentaries Dante’s Inferno from 1967, which examines the relationship between the 19th-century artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his model, Elizabeth Siddal. It stars a young Oliver Reed, Judith Paris and poet Christopher Logue, and is filled with Russell’s arresting and powerful vision.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Oh look, another terrifying short film from an adolescent Lars von Trier
07.02.2014
07:23 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Lars Von Trier


 
At the tender age of 11, Lars (not-yet-“von”) Trier filmed a surprisingly sophisticated stop-motion animated short called Trip to Squash Land… A Super Sausage Film. There’s cheerful music, bright colors, and dancing bunnies rescued from the clutches of villainous frog-like creatures. Initially, I found the “cuteness” of Trier’s debut kind of ominous—it felt too twee not to belie some kind of dark evil—but I assumed it was just me projecting. Even the guy who created The Kingdom had to be am innocuous child at some point, right?

Wrong! Apparently Lars von Trier has never been anything short of truly disturbed mind! If you don’t believe me, take a look at this short he made at 14, with the sociopathic title of, Why Try to Escape from Which You Know You Can’t Escape from? Because You Are a Coward!

The plot is simple, but intense. A kid on a bicycle is hit by a truck. Another kid inspects the injured party, only to flee in terror—it’s not clear why he runs, but I think the implication is that kid #2 was the truck driver. The injured kid is suddenly animated through some kind of paranormal force (the candles are a dead giveaway), and he begins to pursue kid #2, now with sinister bandages over his face. There’s a great psychological thriller-style chase scene, but I won’t ruin the ending. The sound is pretty low, but if you crank up the volume you can hear pulsating acid rock, heavenly choirs, and some deep-voiced narration of what the Internet informs me are biblical references, but what I suspect are actually Satanic incantations in an unholy tongue (or Danish!). Oh and there’s some terrifying laughter, because why not?

Once again, creepy-kid Lars created a really sophisticated little film, with a precocious talent for editing, detail and really unnerving his audience.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Dude, get over it: Businessman buys, distributes hundreds of movie tickets to impress ex-girlfriend
07.01.2014
07:22 am

Topics:
Movies
Sex

Tags:
movies
Mark Wahlberg
breakups

movies
 
It takes a truly unusual event for Dangerous Minds to take notice of a movie like Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, but a certain Chinese businessman named Wang has supplied a worthy pretext. 

It seems that seven years ago, this Wang guy was dumped by his girlfriend, and ever since, he’s been consumed by the desire to make her understand, in no uncertain terms, that she made a mistake. At the time they were both living in Nanjing, and he was so broke he couldn’t afford to take her to the movies. In the meantime he has become a successful businessman in Beijing (news reports don’t indicate in what capacity), and thought of the idea of buying out all the tickets at several IMAX cinemas for June 23, the first day Transformers: Age of Extinction was available to be seen in the city. Since his former girlfriend had moved to Beijing after their breakup, Wang was fairly certain she was in the city even though they were not in touch.
 
movie tickets
One of several receipts Wang posted on Weibo
 
Wang took to the Chinese version of Twitter, known as Weibo, to offer a free ticket to a screening to users as long as they shared his post about it, which was directed at his ex. In the post, Wang wrote, “I just want to say that you may have been wrong to make that decision.”

Soon Wang’s post had been shared 110,000 times and had garnered more than 35,000 comments. And approximately 1,590 people had scored a free ticket to see Bay’s stupid mega-blockbuster. The escapade cost Wang the equivalent of $40,000 (he supplied receipts on Weibo to prove that he had actually bought up all the tickets), which represents about half of his monthly income.

Understandably, Wang’s resentment-fueled project has sparked tons of commentary. RocketNews24 explains, “Understandably, plenty of people were angered that the businessmen had snatched up so many tickets for himself, and commented that thanks to his antics they were unable to see the film as they have planned. But equally many others have commended him on the move and are sure that his ex girlfriend is now kicking herself.”

I think most of us can relate to those feelings of wanting to show a former ex what a blunder breaking up turned out to be. I feel like any decent therapist would be likely to advise Wang that you can’t have your cake and eat it too, the only way you can make contact is by signaling that you are still obsessed with her; Weibo isn’t some loophole you can use to get around that.

Personally, I think she made the right call.

Here’s some random footage of the stars of the movie (Mark Wahlberg et al.) visiting Beijing in case that shit interests you:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Irene:’ New Pere Ubu video is eerie and gorgeous
07.01.2014
06:47 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Punk

Tags:
Pere Ubu
Carnival of Souls


 
The adventurous, impressive, and long-surviving art rock band Pere Ubu have released well over a dozen albums, few of which sound overmuch like each other, all of which sound like Pere Ubu. Their last, Lady From Shanghai, was an especially big leap, laden with bold electronics experiments and even odder arrangements than Ubu’s usual, and it’s just glorious.

Recently, the band announced the forthcoming release of its 15th studio LP, Carnival of Souls. It’s tempting to assume that this might be an album about the disquietingly atmospheric 1962 Herk Harvey film Carnival of Souls, as the band did a live underscore to the film just last summer, and a video from the album, “Road to Utah,” is made up of clips from that movie, a movie which in fact takes place on the road. To Utah.
 

 
But it’s folly, even with a ton of evidence like that in your corner, to think that one can jump to that kind of easy conclusion with regard to a band that copped its name from a cagey absurdist like Alfred Jarry. With Ubu, the “obvious” should rarely be taken at face value. Per the band’s founder and singer David Thomas on ubuprojex.com:

The album is not about the movie. The album is ‘about’ a complex sensual response to living in a world overrun by monkeys and strippers who tickle your ears, cajole you to join in with their cavorting and then become vindictive when you decline. I got rid of my TV because I don’t want them in my house. I got rid of my phone because I don’t want them calling me. So if you understand that and add in several more keyframes and make at least two more intuitive jumps, then you can see what role the movie has as ambient background noise - in the same way that sun shining through the trees along the Yellowstone River has as a reference point to Kerouac’s ‘On The Road.’

Since that’s only so illuminating, I reached out to Ubu’s longtime drummer, Steven Mehlman, for clarification on what the new music may have to do with the film:

The answer is yes and no. Yes, some of the music is based on the music we did for the live soundtrack. The tour we did after that was with a portion of our expanded lineup and we started refining some of those songs, and roughly half of each show was improvised (and recorded) and led to the other half of the album. One song is straight from the live recordings.

So there you have it. The other video from the album, due in September, is for “Irene,” a song that features beautiful solo work from the band’s newest member, clarinetist Darryl Boon. It’s a simple, surreal video, the focus of which is a mask, as eerie and haunting as the song itself, made by the Brighton-based puppeteer Daisy Jordan, founder of Barely Human Puppets.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Pere Ubu is like a cup!’ insists David Thomas
‘Self-expression is evil’: the mind-boggling beauty of David Thomas and Two Pale Boys
Pere Ubu’s David Thomas is pissed off about band member visa approval rigamarole

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Maoist movie reviews: What won’t be banned under the dictatorship of the proletariat…
06.30.2014
02:24 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Maoists


 
We here at Dangerous Minds tend to avoid covering bourgeois and banal pop culture, but sometimes it’s the shittiest, most hackneyed art that inspires the most whacked-out critiques. This brings me to my favorite marginal leftist project—the (tragically now defunct) Maoist Movie Reviews! Luckily, the The Maoist International Movement (usually known by their decidedly benign-sounding phoneticized acronym, MIM, said like “mim”) left the archive up!

There are a lot of tiny marginal political movements in this country, both on the right and the left, but few have ever been quite so earnest as MIM. MIM was run by the Maoist Internationalist Party: Amerika (yeah, they spelled it just like that, I told you they were earnest), and was a weird collection of politics for a bunch of (let’s be honest, presumably white) Americans. MIM’s ideology, known as “MIM Thought,” interpreted from Mao an extreme commitment to “Maoist Third-Worldism,” a revolutionary anti-imperialist position that argued the only true proletariat were in the “Third Word” which is a hazy concept to begin with. It’s a weird political focus, certainly, but made even moreso when you learn the Maoist Internationalist Party had no known international affinity groups and no real resources besides a PO box in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The most fun thing about MIM though, is the emphasis on the cultural revolution—the idea that communism would be best enacted by removing any trace of bourgeois culture. During Mao’s actual reign in China, there was some wiggle room. They allowed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony a form of Maoist ballet. MIM attempted to emulate this practice by writing regular movie reviews to assess the post-revolution acceptability of popcorn blockbusters and the odd film classic.

Predictably, the results are absolutely batshit…
 

James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom and Colin Powell—think about it!!!
 
For example, Conan: The Barbarian (1981) and Conan: The Destroyer (1984) received a joint review, my favorite except of which is:

In the case of “Conan: The Barbarian,” Conan is explosive material because he came from an oppressed village that ended up in slavery. There is definitely something dialectical about how someone forced down to the bottom rose up and upended convention.

Meanwhile the self-satisfied youth who followed the exploiter leader of the suicide cult had no progressive umph of their own, just alternative lifestyles. Though the exploiter leader was Black, MIM has no trouble calling him an exploiter and oppressor in that context. By itself, nor do we object to casting a Black character as the godly leader of evil. It’s just that Nietzsche, a Black leader leading white youth to their doom and a superman raised up from oppressed white people to free white people from a Black god—the message combined is definitely not good. Even more troubling than the film is the reality of the thought that the imperialists may raise up a Colin Powell or the like and this may make the anti-imperialist struggle more difficult.

Looking for something a little sexier? There’s a critique comparing Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Both came out in the summer of 2003, and MIM gave them both a feminist take-down so cartoonish you can read it in Rush Limbaugh’s “sarcastic” voice.

These summer films deserve to be reviewed together because they are basically the same idea: sexy wimmin in revealing outfits performing outrageous stunts to fight the bad guys and save humanity from impending doom. Overall MIM opposes the pornography that is so prevalent is this patriarchal capitalist society. This is not because of some Christian purism or moralcode, but because we can see that pornographic portrayals of wimmin in mainstream culture perpetuate gender oppression and inequality. Even looking beyond the pornography there is little redeeming in either of these films.

It’s not all dour asceticism though—sometimes those mimmies surprise you! They really liked Pixar movies and Harry Potter, for example, even though they believe “fantasy film [encourages] people to escape today’s socially caused problems!” As you would expect, “MIM Thought” is pretty dictatorial—it is named for a dictator, after all—but the faith of the Maoist in the potential for a politically pure culture never wavers.

Below, Momus gets his Leonard Cohen on…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Awesome Japanese movie posters from the go-go Sixties
06.26.2014
11:02 am

Topics:
Advertising
Art
Movies

Tags:
movie posters

The Trip
The Trip
 
Why is it that these Japanese posters of American and British classics from the 1960s seem so much more swinging than their Anglophone counterparts? Has the U.S.—or even Great Britain—ever had a period when movie posters were this cool? Whatever, I fully expect to start seeing these in living rooms everywhere, they’re just too fantastic!
 
Alfie
Alfie
 
Bedazzled
Bedazzled
 
Hud
Hud
 
Blow Up
Blow Up
 
Modesty Blaise
Modesty Blaise
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘The Dove (De Düva)’: Hilarious Ingmar Bergman parody with a young Madeline Kahn
06.25.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Ingmar Bergman
Madeline Kahn


 
The Dove (De Düva) is an Academy Award-nominated short parody of Ingmar Bergman’s films, made in 1968. They used to show this a lot in the early days of HBO and it’s been screened at Bergman festivals to unsuspecting audiences. The short lampoons elements of Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, The Silence and Smiles of a Summer Night.

Professor Viktor Sundqvist (co-director George Coe, seen often on SNL‘s early years) is being chauffeured to a lecture at a university, when a dove shits on the car’s windshield. He decides to make a visit to his childhood home ala Wild Strawberries.

In a flashback, Viktor and his sister challenge Death (screenwriter Sid Davis) to a game of badminton in exchange for Death sparing her life. A dove shits on Death and he loses the game.

The ridiculous fake Swedish is a mix of English, Yiddish and adding “ska” to certain words, as in “It will take a momentska” or “sooner or lateska.”

The Dove (De Düva) is notable for being the first appearance of the late, great comedienne Madeline Kahn.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 6 of 201 ‹ First  < 4 5 6 7 8 >  Last ›