In discussing films, there might be spoilers. Sorry!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

GUEST "We're Off to See the Wizard" by Lisa Lieberman GUEST


by Lisa Lieberman

Growing up in the sixties, the once-a-year broadcast of “The Wizard of Oz” was a big event, a sacred ritual in our family. I must have watched it a dozen times, but I saw that movie through the eyes of a child. Captivated by the story, terrified by the flying monkeys, wowed by the extravagance of the big numbers, I took the supporting characters for granted.

Only Dorothy mattered. Sure, the Cowardly Lion was good for a few laughs, but who cared about his dilemma? Ditto the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. Courage, brains, a heart: well, okay, they obviously needed reasons of their own to accompany Dorothy to Oz. You couldn’t have her skipping alone down the yellow brick road, or fretting about lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!) if there was nobody to fret with; sidekicks have their uses.

So it came as a surprise, this time around, to realize that it’s the sidekicks who carry the picture. Auntie Em and Uncle Henry were preoccupied with their own worries. Farming’s tough—I get that—but couldn’t they have fought a bit harder to keep Toto out of the clutches of Miss Gulch? As for the Wizard, I’m sure he meant well, but his wisdom consisted largely of smoke and lights, as he was the first to admit. And Glinda the Good Witch of the North was pretty patronizing, don’t you think, floating around in that bubble of hers? No wonder the Munchkins’ growth was stunted!

Only the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion see Dorothy for who she is, and in their company she becomes her better self. Don’t get me wrong. Judy Garland holds a special place in my heart. There she was, achingly young, her yearning expressed with such fervor in “Over the Rainbow.” I wish I didn’t know how her life began to unravel from that point onwards.

If only she’d had her three companions to see her through, she’d have kept her wits about her, trusted her heart, and discovered her reservoir of strength. She’d have stood up to the studio bosses who put her on pills and micro-managed her life, stopped marrying the wrong men, treated Lorna and Liza like daughters instead of rivals. Oh, and she’d have kept those ruby slippers. With good friends and the right pair of shoes, a girl can do anything.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

McAvoy's Top Five ...

James McAvoy, currently appearing in theaters in the X-Men Prequel, First Class. Professor X has never looked so good and this from a die hard Jean Luc fan.

Now, to kick off McAvoy's upcoming run here on the movie list, we hit YouTube to find him over at Rotten Tomatoes to discuss his all time favorite Top Five movies.

Good list, too. Back to the Future and Goonies? That's a guy with enough kid still inside.


GUEST: Jabberwocky and Napalm

Jabberwocky and Napalm

By H.E. Curtis

“'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe

'It seems very pretty,' she said when she had finished it, 'but it's rather hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) 'Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas---only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate'

So spoke Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass-And what Alice Found There. As always, Mr. Carroll’s book version was much different than our most recent film version starring Jonny Depp. As much as I enjoy Johnny Depp’s versatility as an actor, I think the Alice in Wonderland movie casting him was doomed from the start, no matter which modern or past production (including Disney) took it on. This in no way reflects badly on his acting ability in anyway, simply there are just some stories which transcend our human technology and modern innovations and simply can not be captured on film or any other media without doing a serious injustice to the tale. It would be like someone attempting to remake the motion picture Apocalypse Now. There are just some things which need to be left alone and unmarred.

Alice was quite prophetic in one respect, the Writer’s Craft, does indeed fill one’s heads with ideas. Unfortunately the ideas which appear are ones not always welcome. Certainly Marlon Brando’s afore mentioned film made people look much differently at the Vietnam War and caused them to actually THINK about it and to realize the surreal nature of the war itself. Very much in the same vein as Alice’s adventures, where her world is turned backwards, head over heels to the point of the “normal” rules don’t apply. If Lewis Carroll had written in the 1960’s, I suspect his vision of Wonderland would have been assigned to the use of LSD, Peyote or other mind altering substances. White Rabbit certainly was blunt enough about it.

Yet, Alice’s Adventures have retained a timeless fascination for many of us and it is no wonder the master of imagination, Walt Disney, was drawn to the tale. Yet for all of our growing up, or being placed in the position to have to do so, our innocent inner journeys always transform us into something we least expect, with an insight into who we are and what our place is in the world around us. The deep down, sometimes painful mystical understanding and awareness- which surpasses words- but can take on the nightmarish forms of Jabberwocky or Napalm burst against a jungle skyline if we step upon the path with too much innocence and risk the danger of being lost in the looking glass. Seduction to the vision is always a danger, not realizing the cruelty of painting white roses red, or playing Croquet with flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls. One is reminded of a conversation from Beckett, when the king asks one of his barons;

Do you ever think?”

And the reply comes back “Of course not, a gentleman has better things to do.”

Perhaps we should follow Alice’s example more often, and let the ideas of great writing take root in ourselves and listen to our inner guides, least we hear our own voice saying, “Off with our head!”

Summing Up JGL ...

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is truly a multi-talented entertainer -- and I use the term entertainer on purpose. He acts, sings, dances, back flips across the stage, and mimics the classical Donald O'Connor as Joseph Gordon-Levitt "Makes Us Laugh" on Saturday Night Live, as if it were effortless.

His musical cover of Major Tom -- reportedly his late brother's favorite song -- recorded in one all night session, where he not only sings, but plays all the instruments, is a testament to the amount of talent in his veins, as well as to the dedication to be the best he can at what he does in his day job.


As an actor he has a broad range. Anyone who has seen 3rd Rock From the Sun will know that his comic delivery and ability to carry the joke was well matched against the big boys of John Lithgow, French Stewart and Kristen Johnston.

And then he turns around to appear in Indy films such as Brick, The Lookout and Uncertainty, proving his dramatic abilities as well. By the time he reaches Inception, he is carrying not only his role but many scenes against magnificent actors who are just as good as he.

It was a real joy spending these last eight months watching "Regular Joe" as he calls himself on his podcast. It was good to see an actor who not only doesn't treat himself as a Hollywood star, but who does think of the next generation of Hollywood production crews, artists, writers, directors. His pet project HitRecords.com aids all of them.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a social conscious and a kind soul and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the coming years.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Twilight Zone Revisted with a personal twist ...

I didn't follow the call of the unusual high school teenagers way back in the dark ages. While other girls were trying to get home to see General Hospital I was trying to get lunches off campus so I would get home for a quick lunch and an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Last week I saw someone post their top ten episodes as the ultimate in top ten list and I didn't agree at all. Mine would be:

  1. Game of Pool
  2. Deaths-Head Revisited
  3. The Last Flight
  4. The 7th is Made of Phantoms
  5. The Changing of the Guard
  6. Long Distance Call
  7. Ring-a-Ding Girl
  8. The Passersby
  9. A Stop at Willoughby
  10. A Passage for Trumpets
I don't think a one of those is listed as a "classic" Twilight Zone eppy.

What's your favorite?