Friday, March 30, 2007

Gunfights in the DVD corral

Looks like Hollywood studios are continuing to dig deep in the vaults for Westerns worth releasing in restored DVD editions. Coming May 8 to a video store near you: Volumes 1 and 2 of Classic Western Round-Up, a couple of four-title collections from Universal.

Volume 1 includes King Vidor's The Texas Rangers (1936), with Fred MacMurray, Jack Oakie and -- no kidding! -- Gabby Hayes; Jacques Tourneur's Canyon Passage (1946) , with Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward and Ward Bond (as a character named, believe it or not, Honey Bragg); Ray Enright's Kansas Raiders (1950), with Audie Murphy as Jesse James, Tony Curtis as Kit Dalton, James Best as Cole Younger and Brian Donlevy as William Qunatrill; and Raoul Walsh's The Lawless Breed (1953), with Rock Hudson (as John Wesley Hardin) co-starring with John McIntire, Hugh O'Brian, Dennis Weaver and Lee Van Cleef.

But wait, there's more: Volume 2 includes James P. Hogan's The Texans (1938), with Randolph Scott, Walter Brennan, Robert Cummings and Joan Bennett; John Farrow's California (1946), with Ray Milland, Barbara Stanwyck and Anthony Quinn; Budd Boetticher's The Cimarron Kid (1952), with Audie Murphy, James Best, Leif Erickson and Hugh O'Brian; and another Budd Boetticher classic, The Man from the Alamo (1953), with Glenn Ford, Julie Adams, Chill Wills -- and, hey, Hugh O'Brian again.

Now if only the folks at Columbia would finally get around to releasing DVDs of the great Westerns that Boetticher filmed with Randolph Scott between 1956 and '60!

The Weinsteins are a hard act to follow, but....

According to Claudia Eller, Daniel Battsek is doing very well, thank you very much, as the new chief of Miramax. He's getting some well-preserved props for the savviness he displayed by green-lighting -- and then successfully marketing -- The Queen. And he has earned the grateful respect of colleagues (and the grudging admiration of rivals) by keeping his company on an even keel while attracting top talent and generating new projects.

Indeed, Battsek is so comfortable in his position that's he's willing to owe up to a miscalculation or two. According to Eller, he had high hopes for The Heart of the Game, a documentary about a high school girls' basketball team that he picked up at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. Unfortunately, the flick proved to be an impossibly tough sell. "What I took away from the preview was that there was an audience that will really love this movie if we can get it to them," Battsek told Eller. "And we didn't manage to get it to them."

(I hate to say I told them so. But, well, I did.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah or Do-Don't?

Will Disney finally release Song of the South on home video?

'I have never been a bimbo'

She may have played Pussy Galore, but make no mistake about it: Honor Blackman isn't going to curl up in your lap and purr. Unless, of course, you're really, really lucky. At 79, she's still the queen of the "Bond girls." And she probably can still kick your ass.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Say it loud! They're Luddites, and they're proud!

Nearly a third of U.S. households have no Internet access -- and most of the holdouts, according to a new survey, aren't worried about potential costs. Rather, they just don't freakin' care.

Long form or short blasts? Blue skies or 'Raines'?

Peter Lauria reports: "Underlying the online video joint venture between NBC and News Corp. is a risky gamble that the Internet audience will evolve from watching short clips to a long-form viewing culture. While the as yet unnamed venture will feature shorts and clips, the primary driver of the site is the full-length television episodes and movies that make up both companies' content libraries."

NBC and News Corp. "appear to be betting that the next wave of online video viewers will want professionally produced, long-form video rather than user-generated, short, frenetic blasts of entertainment.

"Others, however, are willing to lay serious odds that they won't."

Want to decide for yourself if you're up for long-form entertainment on your computer? Then check out an episode of Raines, a very promising new series staring Jeff Goldblum. The pilot, directed by Frank Darabont (of Shawshank Redemption fame), is particularly clever -- with a twist that, I must admit, I didn't see coming.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

R.I.P.: Herman Stein (1915-2007)

Years ago, while dining with movie score composer Maurice Jarre, I told him that he should be proud that so many couples have fallen in love while listening to "Laura's Theme" (from Doctor Zhivago), even if few of them ever knew his name. (He laughed, and agreed.) Along the same lines: Herman Stein played a significant role in many of the horror and sc-fi films that brightened my Saturday matinees (and haunted my worst nightmares) during my misspent youth. But I have to admit: I didn't know or appreciate who he was until the obituaries started rolling in this weekend.

Turtle power!

Like, cowabunga! Nikki Finke reports that the heroes on the half-shell are kicking butt at the box-office this weekend. Big surprise, right?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Guess those anger management classes didn't help

From the Associated Press: "Mel Gibson exchanged angry words with a university professor who challenged the accuracy of his film Apocalypto at an on-campus screening. Gibson was answering questions from the crowd at California State University, Northridge, Thursday night when Alicia Estrada, an assistant professor of Central American studies, accused the actor-director of misrepresenting the Mayan culture in the movie. Gibson directed an expletive at the woman, who was removed from the crowd."

Free-for-all or pay-per-view?

David Lazarus of the San Francisco Examiner has dared to suggest what many in the blogosphere would consider blasphemy: Sooner or later, newspapers will have to start charging for on-line content. Trouble is, as even Lazarus acknowledges, many newspapers are making the precisely the sort of changes -- like, maybe, cutting back on locally produced film coverage? -- that actually devalues the worth of its content. The money quote comes from Philip Meyer -- a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age. If newspapers do want to get away with charging fees, Meyer said, they'll need to invest in creation of the sort of unique content that web surfers and blog readers simply can't find anywhere else. "Unfortunately, most newspapers are going in the opposite direction," he observed. "They're cutting back on staff and on the high-quality content that people might pay for."

BTW: Predictably, Lazarus got some angry reactions to his heresy.

Monday, March 19, 2007

'Falls' fast-forwarding to DVD

Seraphim Falls made only a fleeting appearance in a handful of theaters a couple months ago. But if you missed it, don't fret: Director David Von Ancken's gritty Western, starring Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson as Civil War veterans who wage their own private war on each other, will be released May 15 on DVD.

By the way: Brosnan evidently enjoyed making the flick -- he's now talking about making "an all-Irish Western" with fellow actors who hail from the Emerald Isle. Faith and begorrah, maybe Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney will be ropin' and ridin' alongside the former 007.

The looming war over 'The War'

Evidently, it's never too early for some folks to be outraged. Six months before his latest mega-documentary airs on PBS, filmmaker Ken Burns already is catching flak for The War.

Bogdanovich busted?

Maybe he picked up some bad habits while hanging out with The Sopranos?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

'Hillary 1984'

The San Francisco Chronicle says it "may be the most stunning and creative attack ad yet for a 2008 presidential candidate -- one experts say could present a watershed moment in 21st century media and political advertising." But you can't see it on cable or network TV -- yet. Rather, the 74-second pitch for Barack Obama -- which remixes Ridley Scott's classic "1984" ad for Apple Computers to hammer Hillary Clinton -- is available now exclusively on the Internet. Any it might not be there for long -- something tells me that lawyers for Scott and/or Apple will express their displeasure very, very soon.

BTW: Obama's people claim they had nothing to do with it. And as far as I know, I'm no relation to the Peter Leyden quoted in the SF Examiner piece.

R.I.P.: Stuart Rosenberg (1927-2007)

A bittersweet fact of life in showbiz: More often than you might think, a director will break through with an attention-grabbing debut feature -- maybe even an instant classic -- and then never again do anything that has anywhere near the same impact. That's not to say that Stuart Rosenberg didn't find an appreciative audience (one that includes yours truly) for movies as diverse as The Laughing Policeman, Pocket Money, The Drowning Pool and The Pope of Greenwich Village. But throughout nearly 25 years as a journeyman filmmaker, the TV veteran never made another movie as flat-out great and enduringly influential as his first big-screen effort: Cool Hand Luke. But never mind: Sometimes, all you need to do is make one movie to ensure your immortality.

BTW: Rosenberg had his name removed from 1986's Let's Get's Harry -- a movie credited to the notorious Alan Smithee -- after producers demanded reshoots to beef up the role of then-ascending star Mark Harmon. (At least, that's what co-star Glenn Frey told me during his '86 promotional tour for the action-adventure.) The film was roasted by critics, and emptied out theatres quicker than someone yelling: "Fire!" Two years ago, however, there was -- yes, you guessed it! -- talk of a possible remake. So far, though, nothing has come of the project.

Sunday linkage: A scriptwriter takes control, a graphic novelist strikes b.o. gold

In the Los Angeles Times, veteran scriptwriter Scott Frank (pictured above, left, with actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, center, and Matthew Goode) charts the long and winding road he took to directing The Lookout. And in Variety, ace industry observer Anne Thompson explains how a graphic novelist may be helping to change the game plan for action movies.

Also in Variety: Peter Bart muses over the fact that, not for the first time, some film critics appear to be out of sync with mainstream moviegoers. He is brutally sardonic -- and, I have to admit, more accurate than not -- when he notes the scathing reviews for the high-testosterone 300 and cracks: "[I]f you've ever met a film critic, you"ll know they're not big on either the pectoral, deltoid or other muscle groups." Sounds very much like Charles Bronson's notorious observation that most movie critics are "pear-shaped." Ouch.

Monday viewing tip

If you have access to the Starz cable network, and you haven't yet savored the many pleasures of the criminally under-rated Shopgirl -- well, remember to set your TiVo for 8 pm CST Monday.

Steve Martin the author is well served by Steve Martin the multihyphenate in this delicately nuanced 2005 dramedy, a smartly reconstituted yet surprisingly faithful adaptation of Martin’s precisely crafted novella about the mixed signals, misinterpretations and melancholy life lessons that define a bittersweet romance.

Martin – who serves as star, screenwriter and co-producer for director Anand Tucker – plays Ray Porter, a fiftysomething dot-com millionaire who begins what he thinks will be a casual affair with Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes), a twentysomething sales clerk at a posh L.A. department store. Very quickly, however, the relationship evolves into something appreciably more complicated.

Ray’s great wealth allows him to do many things – everything from buying expensive clothes to paying off a huge student loan -- for the lovely young woman who has captured his fancy. And he’s reflexively courteous and compassionate in times of emergency, particularly when she suffers side-effects after unwisely deciding to stop taking her prescribed anti-depressants.

But despite these gestures, which Mirabelle understandably interprets as signs of deep affection, Ray insists that he isn’t in love. (At least, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it.) Eventually, reluctantly, even the smitten Mirabelle has to acknowledge the unbridgeable distance between them.

Martin hits all the right notes while subtly conveying both the appealing sophistication and the purposeful reserve of Ray. But even he is hard-pressed to keep from being overshadowed by Dane’s endearingly vulnerable, emotionally multifaceted and fearlessly open performance as Mirabelle. (In a few scenes, she appears so achingly luminescent that it’s almost heartbreaking just to watch her.) Two stars bring out the very best in each other, particularly in the poignant final scene...

OK, I know what you're thinking: "Another male fantasy about a May-December romance!" Well, not quite.

“I forget what he was referencing,” Martin told me after Shopgirl was screened at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, “but a friend of mine – a quite smart, educated person – said that in the 19th century, older men often mentored young women as one of the mores of growing up. I think it’s not an L.A. phenomenon, it’s an everywhere phenomenon. All the smart people say, ‘Age doesn’t matter, it’s what works.’

“And that’s what this story’s about. If we were the same age, there’s no story. This is what it’s about, the slight mismatch of desires, the misunderstandings, the effort of, I believe, every character in the film to be good and be honest – and yet pain still happens.

“In a way, for Ray, it’s like a teen-age affair that takes place later in life. With a teen-age affair, it’s all going on, going on – but at the same time, you know it’s finite somehow. Or maybe you don’t, but everybody else knows it’s going to be finite. And I think Ray Porter was still doing a teen-age affair – almost like a business deal, finite – and assumed that everybody involved understood finite. I think one of the lessons – well, if not a lesson, one of the comments in the book is, nobody understands finite. You can say it a million times, but people still believe they’re in a relationship.

"At some point, it’s always going to be painful.”

BTW: Here's a link to my 2005 Q&A with Steve Martin. And here is my original Variery review.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ninja Turtles redux

Am I the only one who thinks that the guys in the rubber suits looked way cooler?

David Mamet's flick picks

As a guest programmer for Turner Classic Movies, the multi-talented David Mamet has picked four of his favorite flicks -- including Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, which he describes as "the world's greatest film noir" -- for a special March 22 mini-marathon he'll co-host with TCM mainstay Robert Osborne. Warm up your TiVo, if only to record the disparate pair's intro segments: The juxtaposition of gonzo intensity and gracious affability should make for entertaining television.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I just got back from SXSW and, boy, are my eyes tired

My apologies for not posting more -- well, actually, for not posting at all -- during my recent sojourn in Austin to cover the SXSW Film Festival. I wanted to provide daily commentary about the movies, good and bad, that I viewed there. Trouble is, as we say in Texas, you got to dance with the one that brung you. And since Variety picked up my tab for this trip, my first priority was viewing and reviewing major films (for the paper and its website) quickly enough to scoop The Hollywood Reporter.

I'm back at home base now, and likely will be posting a great deal about the festival offerings in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my reviews of these SXSW world premieres: Scott Frank's The Lookout, a stealthy neo-noir drama that isn't afraid to take its time developing characters on the way to the payoff of a neatly designed caper scenario; Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, which is, scene for scene, minute to minute, one of the most explosively funny movies in recent memory; Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine's Manufacturing Dissent, an uneven yet even-handed critique of Michael Moore by two self-described "progressive liberal" filmmakers; and Mike Binder's Reign Over Me, which Jeffrey Wells has been raving about since last July, and rightly so.

And while you're at it, please also take a look at my review of Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's The Prisoner, or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair -- a documentary I strongly suspect will spark debates that will spill out of the arts and entertainment sections, and into the op-ed pages.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Another post-mortem on Premiere

From Robert W. Welkos, an informative and ineffably melancholy overview of the magazine that used to matter.

'300' scores millions, but you might prefer to spend time with 'The Host'

I can't truthfully say I was terribly disappointed when I had to blow off a preview screening of 300 earlier this week while preparing for my journey to Austin for SXSW. Truth to tell, the trailers struck me as promising... Well, let's just say that A.O. Scott confirmed my darkest suspicions (and made me laugh out loud in the bargain) when he wrote yesterday in the New York Times that the CGI-suffused flick is "a bombastic spectacle of honor and betrayal, rendered in images that might have been airbrushed onto a customized van sometime in the late 1970s." (Not that there's anything wrong with that, you understand -- but it's not exactly high on my list of priorities.) On the other hand, judging from Nikki Finke's box-office report, millions of other moviegoers were appreciably more impressed.

Even so: If you can't get into any of the sold-out screenings of 300 this weekend, and you're lucky enough enough to be living in a city where The Host (pictured above) has opened in limited release, you'd be doing yourself a favor if you check out that Korean-produced import, which I've been raving about ever since I caught it last fall at the Denver Film Festival. Indeed, you'd be doing yourself a favor even if you have no intention of ever seeing what Nikki Finke has dubbed Gladiator Lite. As I have written elsewhere, Bong Joon-ho's audacious and exhilarating crowd-pleaser is a startlingly poignant family drama that also happens to be a tremendously exciting, smartly subversive and often explosively funny horror flick. To put it simply and gratefully, The Host is the damnedest thing you're likely to see all year.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

More Moore controversy

Once again, a Michael Moore movie is generating controversy -- and even sparking protests -- before its official premiere. The big difference here is, this time, it's not a movie by Moore, but about Moore. And, reportedly, it's not a pretty picture. Here's a link to the trailer.

Reese Witherspoon is missing from 'Bunny Lake is Missing'

According to, Reese Witherspoon has "ankled" the upcoming remake of Bunny Lake is Missing. What makes her abrupt departure (just five weeks before the start of shooting) all the more unusual: In addition to starring as an anxious mom who can't prove the existence of her abducted child, she was supposed to be one of the film's producers. Gee, you think that, maybe, she finally took a look at the original 1965 version and realized that, even with Laurence Olivier in the cast and Otto Preminger as director, it really wasn't all that good? And that it sure didn't do a hell of a lot for the career of Carol Lynley, who played the lead in the '65 flick?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Green sex

First, there was An Inconvenient Truth. And now... An Eco-Friendly Tryst? Sweet. Mind you, making sure that S&M paddles "are made from sustainably harvested timber" might be carrying environmental activism a bit too far. And I'm not quite ready for "eco-undies" (even if they came in my size). Still, I have to admit: There is something appealing about the notion that "you can be a bomb in bed without nuking the planet."

Live from SXSW: Me

Since the festival organizers couldn't come up with a major celebrity to handle the job, I've been asked to moderate a panel on screenwriting -- titled, niftily enough, "From Script to Screen" -- at 1pm Monday, March 12, at the SXSW Film Festival. Please drop by and ask intelligent questions. (Don't worry: I promise to wrap things up before the start of the panel everyone really wants to attend.) Later, at 4:30 pm, I'll be joining Erik Childress of for what promises to be a lively discussion -- maybe very lively, depending on just how much we have to drink beforehand -- at Studio SX in the Austin Convention Center. Be there, or be square.

R.I.P.: Captain America (1941-2007)

Damn! I thought he died years ago, when he got shot at the end of Easy Rider. Oh, wait! You mean the comic book character? Oh. Well, I bet Bill O'Reilly will blame liberals in general -- and Keith Olbermann in particular -- for the star-spangled hero's untimely demise.

Brosnan does ABBA

Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep will do "S.O.S." as a duet? Man, I am so there on opening day. No kidding.

Monday, March 05, 2007

R.I.P.: Premiere magazine (1987-2007)

And another one bites the dust. Sure, it will live on in an on-line incarnation. But today's kiss-off of Premiere as a print publication sends a chill down my spine, as I realize that print media are an increasinly endangered species. As a long-time subscriber and reader -- I remember writing about the magazine's inception during my days with The Houston Post -- I feel ineffably sad. Not quite as though a close friend has died. But more like a workplace friend has been transferred to another city. Permanently.

The Showbiz Bible becomes even greater (and, of course, I'm not prejudiced or anything like that)

Anne Thompson and Cynthia Littleton have left The Hollywood Reporter to join the A-Team at Variety. Gosh, I wish my beloved Houston Astros could make such terrific acquisitions.

The Duke riding tall on DVD

Warner Home Video (WHV) and Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) will join forces on an unprecedented initiative to honor John Wayne on May 22 -- just four days before what would have been The Duke’ 100th birthday.

The companies will pool their DVD sales and marketing resources, digging into their vast libraries for a total of 48 Wayne films. The lead titles in the promotion are Rio Bravo (one of Quentin Tarantino's all-time faves) in both a Two-Disc Special Edition and Ultimate Collectors Edition; The Cowboys as a Deluxe Edition; and True Grit as a Special Collector’s Edition.

WHV also will debut the John Wayne Film Collection, a six-disc set (also available individually) featuring six films never before on DVD: Allegheny Uprising, Reunion in France, Tycoon, Without Reservations, Trouble Along the Way and Big Jim McLain. Counting titles already in release, there will be a total of 34 Wayne films available from WHV. That's a whole mess o' Duke, pardner.

PHE has a total of 14 Wayne titles on DVD, highlighted by the all-new Special Collector’s Edition of True Grit along with three DVD collections: the John Wayne Century Collection which features 14 films including The High and the Mighty Special Collector’s Edition, Island in the Sky Special Collector’s Edition, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Shootist and Big Jake; the John Wayne Western Collection which features nine films including Hondo Special Collector’s Edition, McLintock! Special Collector’s Edition, El Dorado and Rio Lobo; and the John Wayne Adventure Collection which features five films including The High and the Mighty Special Collector’s Edition, Island in the Sky Special Collector’s Edition and In Harm’s Way.

But wait, there's more: Turner Classic Movies will celebrate John Wayne throughout May by airing several of The Duke's biggest hits. And don't worry, pilgrim: I'll run the complete list of titles as soon as they're available.

Matt Dentler revving up SXSW Film Fest

As film aficionados turn their attention toward Austin for this year's SXSW Festival -- which kicks off Friday with the world premiere of The Lookout -- Anne Thompson profiles the festival's wunderkind director, Matt Dentler. Meanwhile, Film Threat launches SXSW coverage with a posting by the site's self-proclaimed "Editor-in-BBQ Sauce," Mark Bell. Given the ubiquity of tasty barbecue throughout Austin -- and especially at Iron Works BBQ, conveniently located near the festival's press office in the Austin Convention Center --I'll predict Bell will have a lot on his plate even when he's not attending screenings. Come to think of it, so will I.

Bush: Leonidas or Xerxes?

Some people are parsing 300 for political metaphors. And that may not be such a good thing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

John Belushi: Still very seriously dead

He appeared in only seven feature films. And he died March 5, 1982, almost a quarter-century ago, at the ridiculously young age of 33, long before most members of today's target demographic for youth-skewing movies were born. And yet, John Belushi remains, in the hearts and minds of many far too young to have discovered him on Saturday Night Live, a revered cult figure.

To honor the dearly departed -- and, yes, to enjoy a few good laughs -- take another look at National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). In the role that, for better or worse, defined his on-screen persona, Belushi blowtorches his way through the widlly unveen but often uproarious film as Delta House dynamo Bluto Blutarsky, a walking sight gag with the most cunningly expressive eyebrows this side of Jack Nicholson. Despite his top billing, he has relatively little time on screen, and hardly any dialogue. But that doesn't stop him from stealing the movie with his ingeniously crass version of silent-movie slapstick. To see Belushi robustly slurping Jell-O in a cafeteria line, or eagerly crushing beer cans on his forehead, or ogling undressed co-eds through a sorority house window, is to be reminded why his name remains synonymous with uninhibited, go-for-broke physical comedy.

Belushi is by no means the only performer of note in Animal House. As Boone, a droll Delta whose girlfriend (Karen Allen) has a fling with a pot-smoking professor (Donald Sutherland), Peter Riegert is the standout in an ensemble cast that also includes then-newcomers Tom Hulce, Bruce McGill and (as the snide leader of the anti-Delta frat boys) Kevin Bacon. As the skirt-chasing Otter, Tim Matheson has some comically sexy interludes with the under-appreciated Verna Bloom (Medium Cool, The Hired Hand) as the hard-drinking, tart-tongued wife of the college's unforgiving Dean Wormer (John Vernon). But Belushi is the one who best personifies the overall air of beery anarchy and what-the-hell prankishness that has made Animal House so memorable and influential for more than a generation. At its frequent best, the movie is a gleefully lewd and boisterously crude testimonial to the empowering potency of swaggeringly bad behavior.

Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the heart live

Posted to herald Saturday's lunar eclipse -- and because, hey, I love '80s cheese as much as the next guy.

Is winning an Oscar the best revenge?

OK, before you e-mail to complain: Sure, I know Al Gore himself didn't receive the Best Documentary prize. But there's no denying that he's a bona fide star now, basking in a comfy-cozy post-Oscar glow while repeatedly stroked by many of the same folks who once mocked him. But Joe Conason doubts that Gore is taking too much of the make-nice talk to heart. Indeed, Conason thinks he knows why, despite all the great reviews from former critics, the former Vice President won't be launching another Presidential campaign:

"The answer may be found, of all places, in the Note, that snarky weblog on the ABC News site, which often betrays the true emotions roiling the minds of mainstream journalists. Said the Note, in explaining the recent spate of positive coverage of the old press nemesis: 'Basically, the political press wants to tempt Al Gore into the race, and then they will destroy him as a flip-flopping, exaggerating, stiff loser. And Gore knows this.'

"Sad, small, pitiful and quite probably true. "

Unfortunately. Tragically.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

R.I.P.: Herman Brix (a.k.a. Bruce Bennett), 1906-2007

When F. Scott Fitzgrerald claimed there are no second acts in American lives, he surely could not have conceived of anyone like Herman Brix, the Olympian-turned actor whose 1935 portrayal of Tarzan impressed no less demanding a critic than Edgar Rice Burroughs himself. A few years after essaying the Lord of the Jungle, however, Brix took drastic steps to avoid typecasting -- he changed his name to Bruce Bennett, then launched himself as an actor all over again. And then, after two decades or so of appearing in movies as diverse as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Dark Passage, he dropped out of acting and went into private business. And then, seven years later, he resumed working as a character actor in movies and TV. He passed away Saturday at the ripe young age of 100.


Insert joke about pussy here. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

QT revels in cheese and sleaze

While preparing for his very own L.A. film festival, Quentin Tarantino waxes nostalgic about the exploitation movies that shaped his cinematic sensibility. And while doing so, of course, he makes you all the more eager to sample a heaping helping of his upcoming Grindhouse.