Tag Archives: Charlie Chaplin

Best Comedy DVDs of 2010: #4, #3

We continue the countdown of the ten best comedy DVDs of 2010…

#4) Richard Herring: Hitler Moustache

There are people willing to take chances, and then there is Richard Herring in 2010. Determined to take back the toothbrush moustache from the legacy of Hitler and return it to comedy where it belongs, Herring uses this simple premise (or as he suggests, this terrible idea) as a platform from which to discuss racism, prejudice, hypocrisy and every other foible of human behavior. And, of course, he’s funny as hell in the process.

Available as a two-disc set packed with features, there’s actually a third disc available, albeit only from the distributor. Herring continues to create inventive, daring and unique comedy for those unsatisfied with the ordinary. (Go Faster Stripe)

***

#3) Maria Bamford: Plan B

Maria Bamford doesn’t have her own television show, although she should – she’s the strongest and most versatile comedienne since Tracey Ullman. And like Ullman – and Carol Burnett before her, Bamford has an uncanny ability to inhabit characters so thoroughly that you see the whole array of them in front of you even without makeup or a costume change. Like Sybil, but for your entertainment.

So in this show she performs her own sitcom – or dramedy – centered upon her family as if it’s a therapeutic exercise to excise some demons. It’s a brilliant performance, just Bamford in a t-shirt and jeans with a chair and a couple of lighting cues. It’s occasionally uncomfortable and overtly personal, but it’s riveting. Dozens of additional short offstage clips act as a psychological travelogue, at you at once wonder just how fragile she really is…and why the hell she isn’t a household name. (Stand Up! Records)

***

The countdown concludes tomorrow with #2 and #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Film/TV, Reviews

T.G.I.F. – Ten Daunting Dates

November 5th is one of those dates that makes one wonder whether the stars truly do align; a cluster of famous people’s births, deaths or accomplishments sharing the same 24 hour cycle albeit years apart. Not ready to believe my always-too-generically-positive horoscope just yet, but whether coincidence or fate, there’s no denying the facts.

Actually, it’s one of those days where I could have lowered the bar and listed another two dozen people famous for one thing or another. But when you combine the man who popularized slapstick comedy, a rebel drawn and quartered for trying to overthrow a government, one of the most ferocious rock’n’roll talents of the 70s and 80s and…hell…the man who invented time travel, why lower your standards?

So here are Ten Daunting Dates from history, all of which occurred on November 5th. Have a great weekend!

(01) 1605 The Gunpowder Plot…a conspiracy of men try to blow up the House of Lords and put an end to big government; now we do this with Tea Parties. Of course today they commemorate the event and celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks. Brits love their irony.

(02) 1931 Ike Turner is born…We lost Ike three years ago, but his musical legacy lives on. A violent and misogynistic man, he nevertheless discovered a ton of musical talent – hello, Tina – and is one of the forefathers of rock’n’roll.

(03) 1941 Art Garfunkel is born…Yes, Paul Simon wrote all those brilliant songs, played the guitar and even sang well. But Artie had the voice of an angel and his harmonies made those songs come alive. The coda to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” still gives me goosebumps.

(04) 1942 George M. Cohan dies…known best as the patriotic composer of wartime anthems, Cohan dominated Vaudeville and Broadway and was one of the pioneers of musical comedy theatre. James Cagney won his only Best Actor statue for portraying him in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

(05) 1943 Sam Shepard is born…Brilliant playwright and actor, among many other talents.You know some of his plays like True West and Buried Child and his many acting roles (most famously Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff) but did you know his early science fiction play inspired Rocky Horror?

Cosmic American

(06) 1946 Gram Parsons is born…Hard to believe Parsons crammed it all in before he died at twenty-six, but you can trace Americana and Alternative Country music right back to his doorstep…not to mention the twang that the Rolling Stones ingested into their sound in the early 70s. A genius.

(07) 1946 Herman Brood is born…The junkie/porn star/rocker leapt to his death nine years ago leaving behind a legacy of music and art that sadly never found an audience in the states. But I will put Cha Cha up against any live album you have, anywhere,  anytime.

(08) 1947 Peter Noone is born…Noone – Herman of Herman’s Hermits to you – is still going strong. Touring the world sounding like a man half his age, he continues playing that string of classic 60s pop singles to audiences of all ages. Someone sign him and get him some Mike Viola songs to sing!

(09) 1955 Doc Brown invents time travel…oh hell, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Whatever he’s got to tell you, you’ll find out through the natural course of time…

(10) 1960 Mack Sennett dies…Fifty years ago, the man who gave us the Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin, W.C.Fields, Gloria Swanson, Harry Langdon, Ben Turpin and Mabel Normand left this mortal coil. But his work is immortal, and if those names don’t all ring a bell you have some serious homework to do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Film/TV, Music

Holmes knows Holmes

Great actor, bad idea

FICTION: Every time they remake Sherlock Holmes it gets better! 

The virtual ink was barely dry on the my recap of historical Sherlock Holmes movies when the new bombastic film hit theatres over the holidays. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the world’s greatest detective I don’t think of meticulous analysis of clues, a flawless observation of the human mind and an ability to anticipate the moves of even the most industrious adversaries. No…I think shirtless guys beating each other in cage matches, Rube Goldberg contraptions that even an over-the-top show like The Wild Wild West tossed aside as too absurd and shit blowing up real good

(Yes, that was satire.) 

I love Robert Downey Jr.’s acting skill; I’m still haunted by his stunning inhabitation of Charlie Chaplin and am happy that he’s seemingly pulled his ass out of the gutter at the final moment to resume what hopefully will be a long and storied career. But I hope he did this one for a pile of cash, because he just shat on a legacy, Golden Globe or not. (The fact that the movie was entered as a comedy should tell you all you need to know about its adherence to the Holmes legend). So on to the essay… 

Anytime a major fictional character is played by more than one person, endless discussions will ensue regarding which actor was the standard by which all others should be measured. Sean Connery’s charm and poise seems to have cemented his status as the ultimate James Bond, but when discussions turn to Scrooge, Alastair Sim’s dynamic performance is often undervalued because of the antiquity of A Christmas Carol both in age and condition. 

Later generations, more drawn to color film and special effects, tend to favor George C. Scott or Albert Finney. Likewise, when discussions turn to Sherlock Holmes, the quality and production of the more recent films featuring Jeremy Brett tend to tip the scales his way for many viewers. For as good as the films featuring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes might have been, the WWII era prints degenerated so much over the years that they became almost unwatchable. 

 

FACT: Basil Rathbone is the definitive Sherlock Holmes. 

Rathbone, who resembles the illustrations of Holmes from the original stories, plays up the character’s eccentricities and intelligence without flamboyance, although he will engage in physical activity in pursuit of justice. In fact, he’s occasionally reckless and often is within a whisker of a tragic move. Yet when at his best – face to face with an adversary, one mind battling another – it’s fascinating to watch him convey his superior intellect and chess-like manipulation without using physical gestures

Read the rest of my full review in PopMatters.

1 Comment

Filed under Features and Interviews, Film/TV, Reviews

The King…

elvis presley grave

…and this one had his title bestowed upon him by his accomplishments. He was, simply, The King. Unlike a later entertainer who made up his own titles, shamefully appropriating a royal moniker for himself. Hell, he even misinterpreted a birthday cake from MTV as an award for Artist of the Millennium. (If there were such an award, even Even Presley wasn’t that – I’d have to vote Frank Sinatra or Charlie Chaplin). But I’m not going to kick a man when he’s down.

If you don’t know much about Elvis Presley at this point, you probably don’t care enough to learn about him. So I provide the links below as a courtesy for those of you who wax nostalgic this weekend and want to pick up an old album or hit Netflix up for a movie. Hard to believe it’s been 32 years since Elvis died at 42; he’s gone but will never be forgotten.

But if you visit a certain donut shop in Minnesota, look closely

This one’s for you, Al Kohler.

Elvis website.

Elvis filmography.

Elvis discography.

Elvis Wiki.

Kurt Russell played Elvis, and well.

Uhh…so did Andy Kaufman – amazing!

Not The King

Not The King

1 Comment

Filed under Editorials, Film/TV, Music

R.I.P. Dom Deluise

 Lost another great one last night at 75 years young. Most famous for his film associations (and friendships) with Mel Brooks and Burt Reynolds some people amazingly only know Dom Deluise as a chef, despite decades of success as a TV and movie actor. Old school fans remember his breakthrough appearances on The Dean Martin Show.

He was never the most famous, and many of the movies he made are long forgotten, but he was a very funny actor and a loyal friend who was beloved by all who knew him. I’m sure there’s a big hole in a lot of hearts today.

Rest in peace, Dom Deluise.

"When I was 14 years old, I decided I could cook. It was either that or puberty."

"When I was 14 years old, I decided I could cook. It was either that or puberty."

“Wronnnnnnnnnnng!” Dom Deluise steals the end of the show in Blazing Saddles!

Dominick The Great – the world’s most inept magician – on the Dean Martin Show.

A descendant of the greats of the silent era like Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, Dom was pretty good at it himself, like in this clip Out Of Order.

His job in Burt Reynolds movies like Cannonball Run seemed to be twofold- act nuts, and crack Burt up.

As a gluttonous Ceasar in Mel’s History of the World Part One.

And of course, Silent Movie with Mel and the great Marty Feldman.

2 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Film/TV