Monday, May 28, 2012

2004 statistics!

Here's the last of my statistical updates as from 2005 on, those have already been published on CineRobot since I started the blog in that year. 2004 had me living part of the year in Seattle and then moving back to Oklahoma for graduate school. Do you get the feeling I like to move around a lot based on these statistical updates and the amount of my moving around? Well, after my move from Norman to Tulsa in May of 2005, I stayed in one house, one city, one state for over six years. And then I moved again, to Los Angeles. Here's 2004's stats for you number junkies.

Total: 263

By decade

1920-29: 1
1930-39: 2
1940-49: 3
1950-59: 5
1960-69: 9
1970-79: 29
1980-89: 23
1990-99: 9
2000+: 182

In a theatre: 134
Documentaries: 29

Where I saw 'em

102--Seattle, Washington
75--Pryor Creek, Oklahoma
43--Norman, Oklahoma
28--Tulsa, Oklahoma
5--Siloam Springs, Arkansas
4--Broken Arrow, Okla.; Oklahoma City, Okla.
1--Dallas, texas

By country

165--US and A!
6--Hong Kong
5--Italy; Spain
4--South Korea
2--Australia; Austria; China; Denmark; Ireland; Taiwan; Thailand
1--Belgium; Brazil; Czech Republic; Hungary; Iran; Israel; Mexico; Mongolia; New Zealand; Poland; Scotland; Sweden

Who I saw 'em with

178--loner style
35--Nancy Churillo
16--Lillian Blevins
11--Shane Davis
9--Kelly Healy
8--Trevor Koop
5--Phil Hollins
4--Sherrill Davis; Michael Ninburg
2--Dave Showinski; Lily Yuan
1--Nicole Agostinelli; Michael Aycock; Jory Boling; Jack Buchans; Katrina Gibson; Emily Hennigs; Joshua McNichols; Katherine ???

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Natural Selection

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Movie tickets #32

Monday, May 21, 2012


Friday, May 11, 2012

Stephanie Huettner Hearts Warren Oates

Why do I love Warren Oates so much? Well, my introduction to the man was quite an innocent one. Instead of notoriously gritty fare like Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, my childhood was spent with Warren as Muff Potter in Tom Sawyer the Musical. Whaaaaat? Yes, dear readers, it’s true. This musical adaptation of the Mark Twain classic was on heavy rotation throughout my childhood. Musical, you say? Was Warren Oates a great singer? No, but he was a great lip-syncer. Muff Potter’s one big number was a fun little song called “A Man’s Got to Be (What He Was Born to Be)” which was actually sung by Billy Strange. This scene shows Muff and Tom (played beautifully by child star Johnny Whitaker) roaming all over Hannibal, Missouri finding the lovable alcoholic’s multiple hidden bottles of whiskey. A bit of that can be heard and seen in this trailer for the film:

By the end of the song, they’ve run into Huck Finn (Jeff East) and Muff is so drunk that he spills liquor all over the boys before falling backwards off a bridge into the Mississippi River. Kid’s movies used to be awesome, right? This film also featured a young Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher and Celeste Holm as Aunt Polly, so there was lots to love besides Oates. However, he was always my favorite part about the movie. He was the only person I had, or have, seen play Muff not only as a fun-loving buffoon, but also as a man with some true sadness buried underneath all of his silliness. When he’s accused of murder and visited by Tom in prison, the pain in his voice and eyes ground the character solidly in reality. He is both literally and figuratively sobered by the realization that the people who know him best think he is capable of such a hideous crime. Upon his release, he decides to leave Hannibal, as he can no longer comfortably exist there. Tom begs him to stay, and Muff can only utter: “Oh, Tom. My little friend. Best friend I ever had.” He then gives a forced cocksure grin and heads down the road. It’s heartbreaking stuff, people.

It wasn’t until I had a few more years on me that I realized this guy was actually a very highly respected actor who had made quite a few films. In the aforementioned Terrence Malick classic, Badlands, Oates has a minor but incredibly powerful role as the bewildered father of Spacek’s young Holly. His time on screen is all in the first act, as he fights to keep his only child from being sucked into a relationship with Martin Sheen’s charming sociopath, Kit. This role would have worked and serviced the plot just fine had it been merely played angry. Oates, however, adds a world of depth to this character. Behind his eyes, the audience senses the sorrow of a man who knows he’s only fighting the inevitable and that heartbreak lies in his future.

Perhaps two of my favorite Oates performances are in the Monte Hellman films, The Shooting (1966) and Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). I was lucky enough to be in attendance at a Weird Wednesday double feature at the Alamo Drafthouse about five years ago, with Hellman in attendance. I had already seen both of these films, but getting to hear some behind-the-scenes stories about both from Hellman shed a whole new light on them. There is one scene in The Shooting in which Oates’ character muses over life and death, mostly to himself. Hellman said that he envisioned it being said with confidence and gusto, perhaps as John Wayne would’ve delivered it. Oates, however, was insistent that it be done in the style of a Shakespearian soliloquy. Knowing this, I can’t imagine it being done any other way. Blacktop is the more well-known of the two films. In it, he plays a poseur driving a GTO (his character’s only given name is also “GTO”) who challenges gearheads, played by singers James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, to a cross-country road race. Along the way, GTO picks up a number of wayward hitchhikers whom he tries to impress in different ways. He becomes increasingly frustrated and strange as no one seems to care about his great car or the supposedly impressive facts he spouts about it. Oates was one of those actors who had the ability to ooze charm in spite his lack of classical good looks. For proof, here’s a little bit of his appearance on the long-running series, Gunsmoke:

In Blacktop, he turns this charm in to false bravado. As fast as his car can go, he can’t overcome his own crippling insecurity to enjoy himself.

What about the Bill Murray comedy classic, Stripes? What about the twisted cult classic, Race with the Devil? 92 in the Shade? Cockfighter? His charming portrayal of bank robber John Dillinger? There isn’t space to go through all of his notable performances and films. While I have seen a shamefully small number of his entire oeuvre, he’s still one of my favorites. I rank him right up there in the top 4 with Daniel Day-Lewis, Peter O’Toole, and Montgomery Clift. He’s highly respected by many film nerds, who revere his strange charisma that burns through the screen. To the general moviegoing public, unfortunately, he’s not all that well remembered. He didn’t win any major acting awards and wasn’t a traditional leading man, so he’s just one of those guys whose face they know. Those that do know him ardently love him. There’s a picture of Oates hanging behind the counter at I Luv Video, where I work. A few weeks ago, a customer asked if the guy in the picture was a friend of ours. I said, “Yup, he sure is. That’s our friend, Warren Oates.”

>>>The imbedded videos in this post may not work if you are reading this post via e-mail. Click on the the post title and it will take you to CineRobot so you can view these wonderfully curated clips.<<<

Monday, May 07, 2012

Pulling pranks on a movie audience redux

Originally published on April 10, 2006. This is one of my favorite things I have been involved in while connected to Circle Cinema. 

Surely everyone knows that it is against the law to run into a movie theatre and scream out, “FIRE!” Well, is it okay to pull a prank on a group of people who have shown up to see a midnight movie and then get something unexpected? I think so, and that’s just what we did April Fool’s weekend at Circle Cinema.

Months and months ago a plan was hatched at just what we could do to the people thinking they’d shown up to see the cult classic 1983 film Repo Man. It was decided that those in attendance would get a completely different film when the lights go dark. Instead of the punk rock infused Repo Man, the audience would get a cruel dose of Bette Midler and her tearjerker Beaches. I know, I know, it’s painful just to think about, right?

Here’s how the prank went down. The crowd begins to filter in around 11.30 with an album by X called “Los Angeles” playing on the stereo. They hang out in the lobby talking about seeing Repo Man or watching the lightning storm that was taking place outside the theatre. At around 11.45 people begin to go in and sit down while Black Flag is playing loudly in the theatre.

Midnight comes and I go in and give my usual spiel about what films are coming at the Circle and tell them to enjoy the first screening of Repo Man in Tulsa since 1983. Lights go dark. I run up to the projector’s booth to watch people’s reactions when the ungodly sight of Beaches hits them.

Very early in the film people are turning to each other and saying things like, “Is this Beaches?” “I think this is Beaches?” “Oh, dude, this is Beaches!”

If you don’t recall Beaches, about two minutes into the film Bette Midler turns around while singing some hideously cheesy song with this grin on her face and that’s when people inside had enough. A few people raised both arms in the air while looking back at the both and hollering out, “What in the hell?!”

Our plan was to show Beaches until someone came out of the theatre to complain—if it took 10 minutes we were committed to showing 10 minutes of Beaches. It took less than two minutes. One guy in his 20s vaulted out of his seat like he’d been prodded with a electric cattle rod and came hustling out into the lobby.

“Dude, they are showing Beaches in there!” he proclaimed.
“What?” I said trying to be stone faced and confused.
Beaches dude, Beaches!” he hollered out.

I went into the darkened theatre as Greg stopped the film. I announced to the restless and uncertain audience that we’ve been having a lot of issues with our distributor in Dallas and I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I told them we didn’t get the print until this afternoon and didn’t have time to really check it before loading it onto the platter. The audience was talking loudly to each other about Beaches and didn’t seem to get what was going on.

Greg announces over the P.A. for the audience to hear, “Joshua, could you come up to the booth for a second?” and I head up to where he’s red-faced from laughing. We nod at each other and wait 30 seconds before Greg gets back on the P.A. and tells the befuddled audience in his best “Voice-of-God-delivering-bad-news" tone the following:

“Uhm, ladies and gentleman. I’m sorry to inform you that there’s been sort of a mix-up with our distributor and, uhm, they’ve sent the wrong film. Also, we’ve already shut down our computers and we can’t offer a refund at this time and since that is the case, we hope that you’ll sit back and enjoy Beaches.”

And we kill the lights and start up Beaches again! The crowd is moaning and saying stuff to me and to each other loudly. We run Beaches for about 30 seconds before we come out and reveal that it was just a joke but let them know if they’d prefer to watch Beaches they could. “That’s evil, man!” one person exclaimed. “No!” was the response and when Repo Man began for real and Iggy Pop came blaring out of the speakers the crowd broke into an impassioned cheer.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Chinatown at the Orpheum

SJ and I recently ventured downtown into the land of movie palace movie watching with a screening of Chinatown at the Orpheum. As you can see by the photos, going to the theatre used to be a glamorous evening out with bright neon marquees and opulent chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The Orpheum seats nearly 2,000 people and has a huge balcony [where we sat] that offers a perfect view down to a massive screen. I love watching films from the balcony. Talk about "old school."

Some people claim that we've progressed as a society and civilization through the decades. Well, I sort of disagree. Compare the Orpheum with the soulless, charmless multiplex and it's pretty clear that in terms of how we watch films--we've seriously digressed. I wish I could see every single movie in a place like the Orpheum, but sadly, this was a rare screening in a theatre that is currently known for live music more than movies. At least the theatre is still being used, unlike so many of its brethren from the 1920s in downtown cities across America.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

April movies

Blurring through The Sopranos is still affecting my monthly movie totals, but we are now at the start of season #5, so we're getting close to ending that quest. I did see a few more films than are listed, but they are possible Slumber Party 4 titles and don't want to reveal anything in case one of those gets chosen for a surprise film. The highlight of the month was seeing Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles at the Orpheum movie palace. We had amazing balcony seats for that one and I have a post coming with photos of the lit-up marquee of the theatre and maybe an interior I shot with my iPhone. There's nothing like seeing a movie with nearly 2,000 other people!

The Hunger Games---2012---usa   ***
The Future---2011---usa   ***
Pretty Poison---1968---usa   ***
Signs---2002---usa   *1/2
Jeff, Who Lives at Home---2012---usa   ***1/2
The Man Who Knew Too Much---1956---usa   ****
Beginners---2011---usa    ****
The Kid with a Bike---2011---france   ***1/2
Cabin in the Woods---2012---usa   ***1/2
Chinatown---1974---usa    *****!
Knuckle---2011---ireland   ***1/2
Bully---2012---usa   ***
The Hangover 2---2011---usa   *1/2
The Heartbreak Kid---1972---usa   ****