The weekly radio show about television, past and present, TV Confidential, is devoting its second hour this week to
I'll be on the panel with author Joanna Wilson, actors Tony Figueroa and Donna Allen Figueroa and host Ed Robertson. The show plays on various stations throughout the country this week and will land in the podcast next Wednesday.
The podcast of this episode will appear on Wednesday 12/28 and can be subscribed to at itunes or by
"ROCKETEER ROLL CALL, COUNT OFF NOW!"
Posted on Dec 21 2011 by Greg
There hasn't been a whole lot of fanfare, but for fans of Dave Stevens'
graphic novels and Joe Johnston's
1991 Disney big-screen spectacular, the appearance of The Rocketeer on Blu-ray
is somewhat of an event.
On the package is a sticker proclaiming, "From the director of Captain America
." Clearly this release is piggybacking on the successful 2011 film -- and the two films seem, at least to me, inextricably linked by their setting and their director.
But why did The Rocketeer
run out of propellant while Captain America
blasted the box office? The most obvious reason is that the Marvel character has had more mainstream visibility, though the '60s cartoon and '70s live-action series incarnations of Captain America
were not exactly stellar. It's also a tricky matter to set a film in WWII, or during the '40s and make it resound with younger audiences.
Just because The Rocketeer
wasn't a smash, it isn't fair to dismiss it as some did back in the '90s. Actually, it's quite a fine film, with a likable cast led by Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly
and Alan Arkin
, as well as a scene-chewing tour-de-force performance by Timothy Dalton
-- clearly having a grand old time playing a thorough rotter.The Rocketeer
has very good effects for its time, superb art direction and photography, and one of the best background scores of the last several decades. I highly recommend the soundtrack album
of James Horner's
sweeping score. You can also hear this music as the Epcot
fountains dance regularly, as well as in countless movie trailers for other releases.
Hopes were just a little too high for The Rocketeer
. Disney was looking for a huge franchise, so a well-done, nicely received film wouldn't cut it. Even though Johnston only mentions The Rocketeer
once briefly in his Captain America
commentary (alas, he did not do one for The Rocketeer
Blu-ray -- there are no extras to speak of), clearly the director learned and developed over the years.
Perhaps the main issue between the two films is tone. The Rocketeer
is highly stylized and inconsistently campy with a hero who's a little too cocky for his own good, while Captain America
is a hybrid between retro, comic book and contemporary action movie style, with a much more sympathetic hero.
But if you haven't seen The Rocketeer
in Blu-ray, prepare for a treat. The spot-on animated sequence, the lavish nightclub scene, and even the sarcophagus-like dwelling of the villain are as vivid as can be. You just have to approach The Rocketeer
as a jaunty romp and enjoy the ride.
THEY GET BY WITH "THE HELP" OF THEIR FRIENDS
Posted on Dec 16 2011 by Greg
I'm sure I cannot add more to what has already been said in praise of the book and the movie versions of Kathryn Stockett's The Help
, except perhaps to note that once I met a group of people in a restaurant and the film came up. They brought up Minnie's "terrible awful" incident and I asked, "Haven't you wished that just once you could do that to someone, sometime?" The reaction was unanimous amid riotous laughter.The Help
takes place in 1963 -- the same as season two of Mad Men -- but this is set in the deep south, as the civil rights movement was gaining national notice, violence was on the rise> And while some thought the injustices would never end, others were either unaware of them or looked the other way. Emma Stone
, as Skeeter, discovers far more than she really thought about. It simply wasn't discussed. When she embarks what seems to be a simple story idea, it grows to a living, breathing work that attacks the social and political abyss to a more personal, more identifiable level. Not only are the two ladies who are her narrativer touchstones (played to Oscar perfection by Octavia Spencer
and Viola Davis
) real "iron chefs" in courage, endurance and moral integrity, they're people with faults, wounds and talent. And a sense of humor -- perhaps the best survival tool of all.
While the institutionalization of bigotry depicted in The Help
is a experience too heinous to be understood fully except by those who suffered through it, most of us at some time has been wronged by a boss, a co-worker, teacher, parent or any person who held sway over our fate (or made us feel that they held sway). You can't help root for Abileen and Minnie, as well as cheer when the most loathsome character (played to the glorious hilt by Bryce Dallas Howard
) is taken down more than a few notches.
To me, The Help
is also a story about the power of the written word. Yes, it's a movie, and the visuals are superb, but Skeeter's book is the catalyst that finally sets so much in motion. While we now live in an age of high tech and endless visuals, words can still change history, especially when those words bring issues to the personal attention of those who might be otherwise unaware of them.
There is no audio commentary on the discs, which is unfortunate, but the behind the scenes featurette is among the best of its kind. The Help
is the work of mutual friends who somehow were allowed to create this great work together despite the obstacles of the publishing and film businesses. I have never heard of a similar story quite like it.The Help
-- and the story behind The Help
-- are never to be forgotten.
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