Friday, December 15, 2006

"Holy Crap!" -10 Great Peter Boyle Roles

"Be Adequite" - Lindsay Lohan (from her self-penned statement of condolences to Robert Altman's family) "Holy crap!" - Frank Barone (Peter Boyle) - his repeated reaction * on countless episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005) * catchphrase if you will. Hey! Welcome to this special Holiday Edition of Film Babble Blog. More Adventures in Altman Appraisal are coming shortly as requested but first lets pay tribute to the recently departed Peter Boyle (10/18/35-12/12/2006) . Since this is a blog 'bout movies lets forget the Romano sitcom and his other TV work (X-Files, NYPD Blue, Cosby, Cagney & Lacey, etc.) as fine as it was and do one of them there old timey movie lists : 10 GREAT PETER BOYLE MOVIE ROLES 1. JOE (Dir. John G. Avildsen, 1970) Michael Richards's (you know, Kramer from Seinfeld!) recent racist rant has nuthin' on Boyle's bar hound N-word fueled monologue of hate - "Why work, tell me, why the fuck work, when you can screw, have babies, an' get paid for it?" Joe's twisted viewpoint goads a straight corporate-type (Dennis Patrick) pushed over the edge to kill some hippies in a vain attempt to rescue his daughter (Susan Sarandon) from a life of degenerecy in this unbelieveably under-rated counter-culture classic. 2. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (Dir. Mel Brooks, 1974) Billed as "the Monster" Boyle lays waste all notions of working class tough guy type casting with this nuanced but still hilariously broad characterisation of Frankenstein's creation complete with bolt-in-neck whimpers. Key scene - the show-stopping duet with Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) on "Puttin' On the Ritz". 3. THE CANDIDATE (Dir. Michael Ritchie, 1972) As one of Bill McCay's (Robert Redford) handlers in his bid to run for Senate, Boyle is the voice of cynical reason. 4. MALCOLM X (Dir. Spike Lee, 1992) Okay, sure he's only on screen for a couple of minutes but it is in such a pivotal scene (for those DVD saavy it is Scene Selection #28 "Turnout For Brother Johnson") in which Malcolm X (Denzel Washington) has his troops march to the hospital while held at bay by horse mounted New York police. To survey the scene comes Captain Green (Boyle) who gets out of his squad car and walks with authority up to the real man in charge : Green - "Let's disperse this mob!" After being satisfied with the news from the doctor Malcolm X makes a raised hand pointing motion which immedaitely gets the crowd moving in the direction indicated. On the commentary Spike Lee says "Peter Boyle right here! Fellow New York Knicks fan...who delivers one of the most memorable lines in this film." - Green - "That's too much power for one man to have." 5. THE DREAM TEAM (Dir. Howard Zieff, 1989) - Another under-rated movie that was lost in the shuffle of lame pre-BATMAN Michael Keaton comedies at the time. Boyle's performance as former advertising executive Jack McDermott who believes he is a vessel through which Jesus talks is the most memorable of the group of mental patients let on the loose in NYC (the others being Keaton, Stephen Dorff, Christopher Lloyd). Pure Boyle atitude abounds with lines like : McDermott - "I am the Lord they God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me. Out of my way, asshole." 6. WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM (Dir. Art Linson, 1980) As Lazlo - Hunter S. Thompson's attorney in this rambling mess of an adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam did a more faithful to the book version in 1998) Boyle almost stole the show from Bill Murray. Almost. 7. MONSTER'S BALL (Dir. Mark Forster, 2001) Buck Grotowski, father to the stoic Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) could be considered an older version of JOE - still spitting out racism and masking quiet desperation with gruff acidity. One of Boyle's sharpest and most piercing portrayals. 8. TAXI DRIVER (Dir. Martin Scorsese, 1976) Boyle plays one of Travis Bickle's (Robert De Niro) 'peers' - Limo driver Wizard. Again adding his unique crusty gift of gab: Wizard - You get the job. You become the job. 9. YELLOWBEARD (Dir. Mel Damski, 1983) - It's been ages (I was 13) since I've seen this unholy mix of Cheech & Chong, Monty Python and Mel Brooks but I do recall Boyle as had his moments as Pirate Moon (who writer and star Graham Chapman based on fellow drinking partner Who drummer Keith Moon and his pirate-like antics). 10.THE SANTA CLAUSE 3 - THE ESCAPE CLAUSE (Dir. Michael Lembeck, 2006) - I haven't seen it but it was has last movie * and hey - he played Father Time. Wanna argue with that? * Actually his last movie is the yet to be released SHADOWS OF ATTICUS (Dir. Dennis Fallon, 2007) More later...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Yippie-kye-ay, Mister Falcon!" And Other EDITED FOR TV favorites

"This town is like a great big chicken just waitin' to get plucked.” - Tony Montana (Al Pacino) from the edited for television edit of SCARFACE (1983) * (If you need to know the original line email the address below)

Usually I avoid when movies are shown on broadcast television because they're edited-for-time full-screen versions - I mean it's almost like they don't count. But sometimes when I come upon a movie I like when changing channels I've found they are sometimes worth watching for the re-dubbing of profane lines.

SCARFACE above, and THE EXORCIST are famous for their creative hilarious for-all-audiences re-toolings. Not content to just use 'freak' or 'freaking' the censors picked every other f-word (frozen, fruitful, foolish, etc.) in the dictionary to cover all the 'fucks' in a recent airing of FARGO. It's quite a different movie when you see Steve Buscemi yelling "you foolish people!" after being shot in the face you know? These are some other funny examples:

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998) Original line : "You see what happens Larry, when you fuck a stranger in the ass?" - Walter (John Goodman) Edited line : “You see what happens Larry when you find a stranger in the Alps?”
Also : "This is what happens when you pump a stranger's gas!" and “What the frog?” – Barry (Jack Black)   HIGH FIDELITY (2000)

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) “Froggin’ ashpole” - Ted (Ben Stiller) to Pat (Matt Dillon)

PLATOON (1986) “Come on maggot farmer, move!” - Pvt. Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen)

SCARFACE (1983) Original Line: "How'd you get that scar? Eating pussy?" - Immigration Officer (Garnett Smith) Edited Line: “how’d you get that scar? Eating Pineapple?” (also “pudding”)

THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) Original Line: : "Hand me the keys you fucking cock sucker" - spoken by all 5 suspects (Kevin Pollack, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, and Kevin Spacey) in the police line up. Edited Line: "Hand me the keys you fairy godmother."

DIE HARD (1988) Original Line: "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!" - John McClane (Bruce Willis) Edited Line: "Yippie-kye-ay, Mister Falcon!"

LETHAL WEAPON (1987) 2 lines both spoken by one of the candidates for MAN OF THE YEAR 2006 - Mel Gibson as lovable suicidal cop Martin Riggs : "We bury the funsters!” and "I'm a real cop, this is a real badge and this is a real firing gun!"

GOODFELLAS (1990) Original Line : "You're a fuckin' mumblin', stutterin' little fuck" Tommy (Joe Pesci) Edited Line : "You're a friggin' mumblin', stutterin' little fink."

THE EXORCIST (1973) Original Line: "Your mother sucks cocks in Hell!"- Regan (Linda Blair) possessed by Pazuzu (voice - Mercedes MacCambridge) Edited Line: "Your mother sews socks that smell!"

PULP FICTION (1994) Original Line : "I got my eyes wide fuckin' open!" - Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) Edited Line: "I got my eyes wide focused open!"

ROBOCOP (1987) "You're gonna be a real mothercrasher!" - Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer)

Send your favorite 'edited for TV' lines to:

So if Peter O'Toole was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving would his mug shot look an better or worse than the poster for his latest film?

And all I want to know about this movie is - does it have a montage?

More later...

Friday, November 24, 2006

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: The Film Babble Blog Review

"It's obviously inherently funnier to have in a comedy someone who isn't doing something very well. That is the basis of most comedy. If you're showing people where it's smooth sailing, where is the joke? If you go back to any movie, even a conventional movie, with any comedians, they're either not terribly intelligent or they're not doing something well." - Christopher Guest (Interviewed by Scott Dikkers, Onion AV Club 2/26/97) FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (Dir. Christopher Guest) While I agreed with many folk that the ensemble Christopher Guest comedy revue film peaked with BEST IN SHOW, I have to say that I really adored A MIGHTY WIND. The formula in that folk music re-union show premise was transparent but the songs were catchy as Hell, the back stories convincing, and there were many genuine laugh out loud moments throughout. I hate to report that Guest's newest FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION is plainly one too many trips to the well. Though the mocumentary angle is discarded the same large cast is here with Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras) thankfully being among the few new additions to the cast. This time out these folks are the actors, makers, and producers of a small indie movie "Home For Purim" who are given delusions of grandeur when the word of a few internet pundits speak of Oscar buzz. This really goes to the heads of the lead actors - Catherine Ohara particularly (unfortunately and way too obviously she's named Marilyn Hack). Her co-stars Harry Shearer and Parker Posey also freak out at the prospect of the lure of the award while the hilarity that was promised to ensue hides like a murder suspect. It's not just that the plot revolves around such predictably desperate for fame fools - it actually hurts that the jokes (and I know the cast improvised most of them) are all over 5 years out of date - "the internet, that's the one with email -right?" All the talk of hype online and never does the word 'blogger' come up. The publicity junket stuff that makes up the last third of the movie - which includes parodies of Access Hollywood, The Charlie Rose Show and D-list informercial appearances (infomercials? Make that over 10 years out of date) is in this age of reality shows, round the clock docs, and endless coverage of every miniscule media moment is tediously tired turf here already done to death nightly on any number of Comedy Central, VH1, E! or Adult Swim projects. The characters in THIS IS SPINAL TAP, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, BEST IN SHOW, and A MIGHTY WIND had an undeniable sadness about them but as satirical statements they were as funny as movie personas can get. In FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION these people are just sad. It's just sad that Guest and his reperatory company are such terribly intelligent funny people who this time out are not doing something well. Please let this be the swan song of these movies! Or at the very least spare us another wacky Fred Willard hair-do! More later...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

R.I.P. Robert Altman (1925-2006)

"Retirement? You're talking about death, right?" - Robert Altman (1925-2006) I just filled up my Netflix queue with Robert Altman movies I haven't seen yet. I figured out that I've seen 15 of his 40 something films plus that Tanner '88 Showtime series. Surprising to find that a number of notable movies of his are not available on DVD at the current time - BREWSTER MCCLOUD (1970) (which he often said was his favorite) , HealtH (1980) ,THIEVES LIKE US (1974) ,COME BACK TO THE 5 AND DIME JIMMY DEAN JIMMY DEAN (1982), Hell even his film debut THE DELINQUENTS (1957) is missing in action. Pretty shabby treatment for movies that are constantly being referred to in various online cinema forums as cult movies. "What is a cult? It just means not enough people to make a minority." - Robert Altman The first Altman movie that I remember seeing was POPEYE (1980). It was at the same theater that I work at part-time now - the Varsity. I was 10 and of course had no idea who Altman was. I learned as I grew older and saw his classic work (M*A*S*H, THE LONG GOODBYE, NASHVILLE among others) how uncharacteristic POPEYE was - Altman didn't "sell out" by signing on to the ill-fated Robert Evans project but his trademark vision barely surfaced in the murk of that cartoon adaptation. Images from it clash greatly with memories of films from the same period - compare POPEYE to the sublimely confusing 3 WOMEN (1977) and it is almost impossible to process that it is the work of the same director.

Sometime in the last year I bought the Criterion Collection special edition of SHORT CUTS (1993) (my personal Altman favorite) but only in the last week did I sample the bonus material. In addition to the bonus disc of docs, deleted scenes and typical bells and whistle whatnot it came with a reprint of the 160 page book of the Raymond Carver short stories that the film was based on and was published when the film was first released. I had been saving the book for...I don't know what but I actually read it and rewatched the movie now being able to pinpoint the sources and enjoyed it more than ever.

"Movies Now More Than Ever" - Slogan for Griffin Mill's (Tim Robbins) Studio in THE PLAYER (1992) After watching the rest of the various extras - docs, deleted scenes, etc I lent the disc and the book to a literary-minded friend who works with me at the theater at the end of last week. No great cosmic significance here, just interesting to me that I had absorbed and passed on one of Altman's greatest works just days before his passing. It's sad but fitting that PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION was Altman's last movie. Its sad obviously because there will be no more films - seasons will come and go without his large cast revues and the circling cameras, overlapping dialogue, and insightful interplay. It's fitting because he said in interviews that PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION was a film about death - the end of an era. Many other directors have adopted some of his techniques (though his stuff is in a satirically sillier vein Christopher Guest has been often compared to Altman - more on that and his new movie FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION in a future post) but nobody has really come close to what he did. So the man has retired but the extensive body of work he has left us with that I for one know will be discovering and re-discovering the rest of my days. He was right on the money when he once said : "Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes." More later...