Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for July, 2012

Jackie Earle Haley

Jackie Earle Haley (born Jack Earle Haley, July 14, 1961) is an American actor, perhaps best known for his roles as pedophile Ronnie McGorvey in Little Children, the vigilante Rorshach in Watchmen, and horror icon Freddy Krueger in the awful remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. 

Haley was born and raised in Northridge, California, the son of Haven Earle “Bud” Haley, a radio show host/disc jockey and actor. Haley was a well known child actor and appeared in numerous films, including The Day of the Locust, The Bad News Bears (and 2 sequels), Damnation Alley, Breaking Away, and Losin’ It.

It has been rumored that in 1984, Haley’s friend Johnny Depp accompanied him to auditions for Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street; instead of Haley being chosen for a role, it was Depp who was spotted by director Craven, who asked him if he would like to read for a part. Whether true or not, Haley struggled to find many good roles throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, when he moved to San Antonio, Texas, and eventually turned to directing, finding success as a producer and director of television commercials.

With the recommendation of Sean Penn, Haley returned to acting in 2006, first appearing in Steven Zaillian’s All the King’s Men (2006) alongside Penn as Sugar Boy, his bodyguard, before giving a critically acclaimed performance as a recently paroled sex offender in Todd Field’s Little Children (2006). He stated that his preparation for the role was greatly influenced by the relationship shared between his mother and his brother True, who battled a heroin addiction before he died of an overdose. Haley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this portrayal.

In 2008, he appeared in Semi-Pro and starred in Winged Creatures with Kate Beckinsale, Guy Pearce and Dakota Fanning. He also co-starred in Zack Snyder’s 2009 adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen, as Rorshach, a masked vigilante working to find the identity of a costumed hero killer, a role which earned Haley praise from many reviewers. The film also reunited him with Little Children co-star Patrick Wilson who played Nite Owl II, former partner of Rorschach.

In 2010, Haley appeared in Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese, playing a patient of a hospital for the criminally insane. That same year Haley played the role of Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake. He has apparently signed on to play the role in three installments in the series.

He played Willie Loomis in the 2012 film adaptation of Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton, and will play Alexander H.. Stephens in the forthcoming Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Dexter – Season 7 Teaser

The upcoming seventh season of Dexter sees the Miami serial killer busted by his own sister, Comic-Con fans learned yesterday. A brief look (see below) at the opening minutes of the upcoming Showtime series’ next-to-last season showed Dexter Morgan caught by his homicide detective foster sibling Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) as he cuts up the series’ Travis character. After trying to talk his way out of the situation, the forensic analyst finally seems to lose his cool when Debra goes to call in the incident. That’s when the screen went black and the crowd went wild. Otherwise, despite a lengthy Q&A from adoring fans, cast members Michael C. Hall, Carpenter, and executive producer Scott Buck kept pretty quiet about what the new season will bring. What was not quiet was that Yvonne Strahovski, the former Chuck co-star, would be joining the show this year as Hanna. Described by the actress, who was also on the panel, as “a woman of mystery who meets Dexter and helps him with an old murder investigation,” the Hanna character seemed to be a pivotal figure in the season. “I can’t say more, there are lots of things I’m not allowed to say or I’ll get in trouble,” said Strahovski. She did say that while she had only been filming on Dexter for a few days she already liked it more than her former show. “Dexter’s better,” Strahovski said to big applause. Earlier the packed ballroom was shown scenes from a Dexter video game and a new episode from the new season of the animated Dexter prequel web series Final Cuts. Here’s that footage:

Catherine Breillat

Catherine Breillat (born 13 July 1948 in Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres) is a French filmmaker, novelist and Professor of Auteur Cinema at the European Graduate School.

Breillat was born in Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres, but grew up in Niort. She decided to become a writer and director at the age of 12 after watching Ingmar Bergman’s Gycklarnas afton, believing she had found her “‘fictional body'” in Harriet Andersson’s character, Anna.

She started her career after studying acting at Yves Furet “Studio d’Entraînement de l’Acteur” in Paris together with her sister, actress Marie-Hélène Breillat (born 2 June 1947) in 1967. At the age of 17, she had her novel, l’Homme facile, (Easy Man) published. Ironically the French government banned it for readers under 18 years old. A film based on the novel was made shortly after the publication of the book, but the producer went bankrupt and the distributor Artedis blocked any commercial release of the film for twenty years although it had been given an R rating.

Breillat is known for films focusing on sexuality, intimacy, gender conflict and sibling rivalry. She has been the subject of controversy for her explicit depictions of sexuality and violence. She cast the pornstar Rocco Siffredi in her films Romance (Romance X, 1999) and Anatomie de l’enfer (Anatomy of Hell, 2004).

Romance inspired the trend of some arthouse films featuring explicit, unsimulated sex, such as All About Anna, Shortbus, The Brown Bunny, and 9 Songs. Anatomie de l’enfer was adapted by writer/director Breillat from her novel Pornocracy. The explicitly sexual film stars Amira Casar as “the woman” and porn star Rocco Siffredi as “the man”. Renowned movie critic Roger Ebert stated: “I remember when hard-core first became commonplace, and there were discussions about what it would be like if a serious director ever made a porn movie. The answer, judging byAnatomy of Hell, is that the audience would decide they did not require such a serious director after all.”

Her work has been associated with the Cinéma du corps/Cinema of the Body tendency. In an interview with Senses of Cinema, she described David Cronenberg as another filmmaker she considers to have a similar approach to sexuality in film.

Though Breillat spends most of her time behind the camera, she has been in a handful of movies, making her film debut in 1972 as Mouchette in Bernardo Berolucci’s Last Tango in Paris.

In 2004, Breillat suffered a stroke. A friend of hers, Christophe Rocancourt was to play a role in the upcoming film Bad Love. However, in 2009 she accused him of taking advantage of her handicap by embezzling €650,000. Breillat documented the incident in her book, published in 2009, called “Abus de faiblesse” (Abuse of Weakness).

In September 2010, Breillat’s second fairy-tale based film, Sleeping Beauty (La belle endormie), opened in the Orizzonti sidebar in the 67th Venice Film Festival. As of 2010, Breillat is almost fully recovered from her stroke and still intends to film Bad Love with Naomi Campbell in a lead role. Departing from her native French, Breillat plans for the dialogue in the movie to be in both English and Chinese.

Walter Murch

Walter Scott Murch (born July 12, 1943) is an American film editor and sound designer. He was born in New York City, New York, the son of Katharine (née Scott) and Walter Tandy Murch, a painter. He went to The Collegiate School, a private preparatory school in Manhattan, from 1949 to 1961. He then attended Johns Hopkins University from 1961 to 1965, graduating in Liberal Arts.

While at Hopkins, he met future director/screenwriter Matthew Robbins and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. In 1965, Murch and Robbins enrolled in the graduate program of the University of Southern California film school, successfully encouraging Deschanel to follow them. There all three encountered, and became friends with fellow students such as George Lucas and John Milius.

Murch started editing and mixing sound with Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People (1969), before working on George Lucas’s THX 1138 (1971) and American Graffiti  (1973) and as a post-production consultant on Coppola’s The Godfather  before editing picture and mixing sound on Coppola’s The Conversation (1974), for which he received an Academy Award nomination in sound in 1974. Murch also mixed the sound for Coppola’s The Godfather Part II which was released in 1974, the same year as The Conversation. He is most famous for his editing and sound designing work on Apocalypse Now (1979), for which he won his first Academy Award.

He went on to edit and sound design on numerous features including: Dragonslayer (1981), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), The Godfather Part III (1990), Crumb (1994), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Jarhead (2005), Youth Without Youth (2007), and The Wolfman (2010). He was also responsible for the sound re-recording and re-edit of the Orson Welles classic Touch of Evil (1958), in 1998. In 1985 he directed his one film, Return to Oz.

Unlike most film editors today, Murch works standing up, comparing the process of film editing to “conducting, brain surgery and short-order cooking”, since all conductors, cooks and surgeons stand when they work. In contrast, when writing, he does so lying down. His reason for this is that where editing film is an editorial process, the creation process of writing is opposite that, and so he lies down rather than sit or stand up, to separate his editing mind from his creating mind.

While he was editing directly on film, Murch took notice of the crude splicing used for the daily rough-cuts. In response, he invented a modification which concealed the splice by using extremely narrow but strongly adhesive strips of special polyester-silicone tape. He called his invention “N-vis-o”.

Murch is widely acknowledged as the person who coined the term Sound Designer, and along with colleagues developed the current standard film sound format, the 5.1 channel array, helping to elevate the art and impact of film sound to a new level. Apocalypse Now was the first multi-channel film to be mixed using a computerized mixing board.

In 1996, Murch worked on Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient, based on Michael Ondaatje’s novel. Murch won Oscars both for his sound mixing and editing. Murch’s editing Oscar was the first to be awarded for an electronically edited film (using the Avid system), and he is the only person ever to win Oscars for both sound mixing and film editing.

In 2003, Murch edited another Minghella film, Cold Mountain on Apple’s sub-$1000 Final Cut Pro software using off the shelf Power Mac G4 computers. This was a leap for such a big-budget film, where expensive Avid systems were usually the standard non-linear editing system. He received an Academy Award nomination for this work; his efforts on the film were documented in Charles Koppelman’s 2004 book Behind the Seen.

Murch has written one book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye (2001). He was also the subject of Michael Ondaatje’s book The Conversations (2002), which consists of several conversations between Ondaatje and Murch; the book emerged from Murch’s editing of The English Patient, which was based on Ondaatje’s novel of the same name.

In 2006, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, Canada.

In 2007 the documentary Murch premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival, which centered on Walter Murch and his thoughts on film making.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Released 52 Years Ago Today

To Kill a Mockingbird was published on July 11th, 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American Literature. Written by Harper Lee, the plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.”

As a Southern Gothic novel, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South. The book is widely taught in schools in English-speaking countries with lessons that emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice. Despite its themes, To Kill a Mockingbird has been subject to campaigns for removal from public classrooms, often challenged for its use of racial epithets. Scholars also note the black characters in the novel are not fully explored, and some black readers receive it ambivalently, although it has an often profound effect on many white readers.

Reception to the novel varied widely upon publication. Literary analysis of it is considerably sparse compared to the number of copies sold and its use in education. Author Mary McDonough Murphy, who collected individual impressions of the book by several authors and public figures, calls To Kill a Mockingbird “an astonishing phenomenon”. In 2006, British librarians ranked the book ahead of the Bible as one “every adult should read before they die”.

The book was made into the well-received 1962 film of the same name, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The film’s producer, Alan J. Pakula, was known to quote Paramount Studios executives questioning him about a potential script: “They said, ‘What story do you plan to tell for the film?’ I said, ‘Have you read the book?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘That’s the story.'” The movie was a hit at the box office, making more than $20 million, against a $2 million budget. It won three Oscars: Best Actor for Gregory Peck, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black and White, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for Horton Foote. It was nominated for five more Oscars including Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Mary Badham, the actress who played Scout.

To date, it is Lee’s only published novel, and although she continues to respond to the book’s impact, she has refused any personal publicity for herself or the novel since 1964.

Fred Gwynne

Frederick Hubbard “Fred” Gwynne (July 10, 1926 – July 2, 1993) was an American actor. Gwynne was best known for his roles in the 1960s sitcom The Munsters, as well as his later roles in Pet Semetary and My Cousin Vinny. 

Gwynne was born in New York City, a son of Frederick Walker Gwynne, a partner in the securities firm Gwynne Brothers, and his wife Dorothy Ficken. Gwynne attended the Groton School, and graduated from Harvard University, in 1951. At Harvard, he was a cartoonist for the Harvard Lampoon (eventually becoming its president), and acted in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals shows. During World War II, Gwynne served in the U.S. Navy.

Gwynne joined the Brattle Theatre Repertory Company after graduation, then moved to New York City. To support himself, Gwynne worked as a copywriter, resigning in 1952 upon being cast in his first Broadway role, a gangster in a comedy called Mrs. McThing. Phil Silvers was impressed by Gwynne from his work in Mrs. McThing and sought him for his television show. As a result, in 1955, Gwynne made a memorable appearance on The Phil Silvers Show. 

This led to him being cast in the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? as Patrolman Francis Muldoon, opposite Joe E. Ross. During the two-season run of the program he met longtime friend and later co-star, Al Lewis. Gwynne was 6 ft 5 in tall, an attribute that contributed to his being cast as Herman Munster, a goofy parody of Frankenstein’s Monster, in the sitcom The Munsters. For his role he had to wear 40 or 50 lbs of padding, makeup, and 4-inch elevated shoes. His face was painted a bright violet because it captured the most light on the black-and-white film. Gwynne was known for his sense of humor and retained fond recollections of Herman, claiming in later life, ” … I might as well tell you the truth. I love old Herman Munster. Much as I try not to, I can’t stop liking that fellow.” After his experience in The Munsters, however, he found himself typecast. In 1969, he was cast as Jonathan Brewster, a Frankenstein monster-like character, in a television production of Arsenic and Old Lace. 

Gwynne’s performance as Jud Crandall in Pet Semetary (1989) was based on author Stephen King himself, who is also quite tall, only an inch shorter than the actor, and uses a similarly thick Maine dialect. Gwynne also had roles in the movies On The Waterfront (1954), The Littlest Angel (1969), Simon (1980), The Cotton Club (1984), Fatal Attraction and Ironweed (both 1987). In his last film, Gwynne was hilariously straight-faced as Judge Chamberlain Haller opposite Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny (1992).

Gwynne died of pancreatic cancer in Taneytown, Maryland, on July 2, 1993, at the age of 66, eight days before his 67th birthday. Gwynne was survived by his second wife, Deborah, and four children. He is interred at the Sandymount United Methodist Church graveyard in Finksberg, Maryland, in an unmarked grave.

Robocop – Remake News

The Robocop remake is utilising similar (the same!) viral advertising techniques to the excellent campaign used for Prometheus. They have set-up an Omnicorp website that advertises Omnicorp technological products and weapons. The revised ED-209 can be seen above. Check out the Omnicop advert from their webpage which is viewable HERE.

The Omnicorp vision statement from the website reads:

For a half-century, these words have set the framework upon which OmniCorp has aimed to build a brighter world.

We don’t do passive technology. At OmniCorp, our solutions generate a beacon of safety that we shine upon on the dangers of the day. No matter the obstacle – political, cultural, philosophical – we pursue our convictions around the globe to secure peace of mind at home. And when this requires bold new direction, we never allow doubt to shrink our duty. When your quality of life is in the balance, our leadership team will tip the scales.

Our products have elevated your lives. Our people have inspired your future. Our passion will always be at your side.

Ernest Borgnine – R.I.P.

Oscar-winner and Emmy-nominated movie and legendary character actor Ernest Borgnine, has died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife and children at his side. He was 95. Borgnine made his mark as the vicious Fatso Judson who beat Frank Sinatra to death in From Here To Eternity. But he also won the Best Actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in Marty in 1955. Modest despite being a household name Borgnine registered shock when in 2011 the Screen Actors Guild called to bestow on him the annual Life Achievement Award. “Heck, I’m just a character actor for God sakes. I’m no big star,” he told Deadline at the time.  “It was my mom who told me, ‘Ernie, if you make even one person happy with your smile or a funny thing you did every day, you’ll have accomplished a great deal.’ And that’s all I’ve ever tried to do.”

Some of my personal Borgnine favourites include: The Vikings (1958), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), Escape From New York (1981), Gattaca (1997), Red (2011) and of course Mermaid Man in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-2011). Rest in Peace.

Anjelica Huston

Anjelica Huston (born July 8, 1951) is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985’s Prizzi’s Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in Enemies, A Love Story and The Grifters respectively. Among her roles, she starred as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), receiving Golden Globe nominations for both. Huston also played the Grand High Witch in the children’s movie The Witches in 1990 and is, more recently, known for her frequent collaborations with director Wes Anderson.

Anjelica Huston was born in Santa Monica, California. Huston spent most of her childhood in Ireland and England. She grew up in Saint Clerans House near Craughwell, County Galway. In 1969, she began taking a few small roles in her father’s movies. In that same year, her mother, who was 39 years old, died in a car accident, and Huston relocated to the US, where she modeled for several years. While she modeled, she worked with photographers such as Richard Avedon and Bob Richardson.

Deciding to focus more on movies, in the early 1980s she seriously studied acting. Her first notable role was in Bob Rafelson’s remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981). Later, her father cast her as the calculating, imperious Maerose, daughter of a Mafia don whose love is scorned by a hit man (Jack Nicholson) in the film adaptation of Richard Condon’s Mafia-satire novel Prizzis Honor (1985). Huston won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, making her the first person in Academy Award history to win an Oscar when a parent and a grandparent had also won one.

Huston earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of an iron-willed con artist in Stephen Frears’ The Grifters (1990). That same year she starred in Nic Roeg’s The Witches.She also starred as the lead in her father’s final directorial film, The Dead (1987), an adaptation of a James Joyce story.

She was then cast as Morticia Addams, in the hugely successful 1991 movie adaptation of  The Addams Family. In 1993, she reprised the role for the sequel Addams Family Values. Anjelica also starred in The Crossing Guard  (1995) with Jack Nicolson. She featured in three highly lauded Wes Anderson films, The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), and in 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited. She voiced the role of Queen Clarion in the Disney Fairies film series starring Tinkerbell. More recently she was awesome in the film adaptation of Choke (2008), from the hilariously twisted novel by Chuck Palahniuk. On January 22, 2010, Anjelica was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Huston has recently expanded her horizons, following in her father’s footsteps in the director’s chair. Her first directorial credit was Bastard Out of Carolina (1996), followed by Agnes Browne (1999), in which she both directed and starred, and then Riding the Bus with My Sister (2005). Huston is currently part of the NBC television series, Smash, portraying Broadway producer Eileen Rand.

Jon Pertwee

John Devon Roland Pertwee (7 July 1919 – 20 May 1996) was an English actor. Pertwee is best known for his role in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, in which he played the third incarnation of the Doctor from 1970 to 1974, and as the title character in the series Worzel Gummidge.

Born in Chelsea, London, Pertwee was educated at Frensham Heights School in Surrey, at Sherborne School in Dorset, and at some other schools from which he was expelled. After school, he went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), from which he was also expelled after he refused to play a Greek “wind” during one of the lessons, feeling it was a waste of both his time and his father’s money.

Pertwee was an officer in the Royal Navy, spending some time working in naval intelligence during the Second World War. He was a crew member of HMS Hood and was transferred off the ship shortly before she was sunk, losing all but three men.

After the war he made a name for himself as a comedy actor, notably on radio at the BBC.  On stage, he played the part of Lycus in the 1963 London production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Frankie Howerd and appeared in the smaller role of Crassus in the 1966 film version. He also appeared in four Carry On films: Carry On Cleo (1964, as the soothsayer), Carry On Screaming (1966, as Dr. Fettle), Carry On Cowboy (1965, as Sheriff Earp) and Carry On Columbus (1992, as the Duke of Costa Brava).

He had one of his most memorable film roles in the 1971 Amicus horror compendium The House That Dripped Blood. Filmed in the summer of 1970, between his first and second Doctor Who seasons, Pertwee played the lead in the last segment of the film as Paul Henderson, a deliciously arrogant horror film star who meets his quasi-comedic doom thanks to a genuine vampire cloak.

In 1969, Pertwee was selected by producer Peter Bryant to take over as the Doctor from Patrick Troughton in the television series Doctor Who. Pertwee had asked his agent to apply for the role for him and was surprised to find he was already on the shortlist for the role. In a departure from the Doctor’s first two incarnations, Pertwee played the character as an active crusader with a penchant for action and fancy clothes, even while the character was exiled on Earth and serving with UNIT. He played the Doctor for five seasons from early 1970 to mid-1974, at the time the longest stint of any of the actors who played the part, surpassing predecessors William Hartnell’s and Patrick Troughton’s three years each in the role, although due to shortened broadcast seasons, he appeared in fewer episodes than Hartnell. Of the eleven actors to portray the role, only three would play the Doctor for longer chronological time: Pertwee’s immediate successor, Tom Baker (seven years from 1974 to 1981), Sylvester McCoy (eight years from 1987–1996) and David Tennant (four years and six and a half months from June 2005 to January 2010, thus longer by a month). In early 1974, Pertwee announced he would step down as the Doctor in order to resume his stage career in The Bedwinner, also citing typecasting in the role as the reason for leaving. His last fulltime appearance in the series was in the story Planet of the Spiders in June 1974.

In 1978 Pertwee took the starring role in Worzel Gummidge, based on the books written by Barbara Euphan Todd. First aired in 1979 on ITV, the series saw Pertwee as a scarecrow, as well as utilising several comedic voices. The show was an immediate hit and ran on the channel until 1981. Keen to continue beyond this, Pertwee campaigned for the series and it was picked up by a New Zealand network in 1987. Worzel Gummidge Down Under aired for the next two years and was screened in the UK on Channel 4. In 1995, Pertwee played the role one last time in a one-off special for ITV, which celebrated 40 years of the channel.

He returned to the role of the Doctor in the 1983 20th anniversary television special The Five Doctors and in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure which toured theatres in the United Kingdom from March to June 1989.

Pertwee died from a heart attack on 20 May 1996, two months before his 77th birthday. He was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium with a toy Worzel Gummidge affixed to the coffin, following the instructions in his will.

Calvin and Hobbes – The Themes

Calvin and Hobbes is a syndicated daily comic strip that was written and illustrated by American cartoonist Bill Watterson, and syndicated from November 18, 1985, to December 31, 1995. It follows the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious and adventurous six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger. The pair are named after John Calvin, a 16th-century French Reformation Theologian, and Thomas Hobbes, a 17th-century English political philosopher. At the height of its popularity, Calvin and Hobbes was featured in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide; as of January 2010, reruns of the strip still appear in more than 50 countries. Nearly 45 million copies of the 18 Calvin and Hobbes book have been sold.

Calvin and Hobbes is set in the contemporary United States in an unspecified suburban area. The strip depicts Calvin’s flights of fantasy and his friendship with Hobbes, and also examines Calvin’s relationships with family and classmates. Hobbes’ dual nature is a defining motif for the strip: to Calvin, Hobbes is a live anthropomorphic tiger; all the other characters see him as an inanimate stuffed toy. Though the series does not mention specific political figures or current events, it does explore broad issues like environmentalism, public education, and the flaws of opinion polls.

Watterson used the strip to poke fun at the art world, principally through Calvin’s unconventional creations of snowmen but also through other expressions of childhood art. When Miss Wormwood complains that he is wasting class time drawing impossible things (a Stegosaurus in a rocket ship, for example), Calvin proclaims himself “on the cutting edge of the avant-garde.” He begins exploring the medium of snow when a warm day melts his snowman. His next sculpture “speaks to the horror of our own mortality, inviting the viewer to contemplate the evanescence of life.” In further strips, Calvin’s creative instincts diversify to include sidewalk drawings (or, as he terms them, examples of “suburban post-modernism”).

Watterson also lampooned the academic world. In one example, Calvin writes a “revisionist autobiography,” recruiting Hobbes to take pictures of him doing stereotypical kid activities like playing sports in order to make him seem more well-adjusted. In another strip, he carefully crafts an “artists statement,” claiming that such essays convey more messages than artworks themselves ever do (Hobbes blandly notes, “You misspelled Weltanschauung”). He indulges in what Watterson calls “pop psychobabble” to justify his destructive rampages and shift blame to his parents, citing “toxic co-dependency.” In one instance, he pens a book report based on the theory that the purpose of academic writing is to “inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity,” titled The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick and Jane: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes. Displaying his creation to Hobbes, he remarks, “Academia, here I come!” Watterson explains that he adapted this jargon (and similar examples from several other strips) from an actual book of art criticism.

Overall, Watterson’s satirical essays serve to attack both sides, criticizing both the commercial mainstream and the artists who are supposed to be “outside” it.

Calvin and Hobbes frequently ride downhill in a wagon, sled, or toboggan, depending on the season, as a device to add some physical comedy to the strip and because, according to Watterson, “it’s a lot more interesting … than talking heads.” While the ride is sometimes the focus of the strip, it also frequently serves as a counterpoint or visual metaphor while Calvin ponders the meaning of life, death, God, or a variety of other weighty subjects.

Calvin has had several adventures involving corrugated cardboard boxes, which he adapts for many different uses. In one strip, during which Calvin shows off his Transmogrifier, a device that transforms its user into any desired shape, Hobbes remarks, “It’s amazing what they do with corrugated cardboard these days.”

Calvinball is a game played by Calvin and Hobbes as a rebellion against organized team sports; according to Hobbes, “No sport is less organized than Calvinball!” Calvinball was first introduced to the readers at the end of a 1990 storyline involving Calvin reluctantly joining recess baseball. It quickly became a staple of the comic afterwards. The only consistent rule states that Calvinball may never be played with the same rules twice. Scoring is also arbitrary, with Hobbes at times reporting scores of “Q to 12” and “oogy to boogy.” The only recognizable sports Calvinball resembles are the ones it emulates (i.e., a cross between croquet, polo, badminton, capture the flag, and volleyball.)

Calvin often creates horrendous/dark humor scenes with his snowmen. He uses the snowman for social commentary, revenge, or pure enjoyment. Calvin’s snow art is often used as a commentary on art in general.

G.R.O.S.S., which stands for Get Rid OSlimy girlS, is a club which consists only of two members: Calvin and Hobbes. They hold meetings to attempt to annoy Susie Derkins.

There are 18 Calvin and Hobbes books, published from 1987 to 2005. These include 11 collections, which form a complete archive of the newspaper strips, except for a single daily strip from November 28, 1985. (The collections do contain a strip for this date, but it is not the same strip that appeared in some newspapers. Treasuries usually combine the two preceding collections with bonus material and include color reprints of Sunday comics.) Watterson claims he named the books the “EssentialAuthoritative, and Indispensable” because, as he says in The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, the books are “obviously none of these things”.

Calvin and Hobbes – The Main Players

Calvin: Despite his poor grades in school, Calvin demonstrates his intelligence through his sophisticated vocabulary and a philosophical mind. He commonly wears his distinctive red-and-black striped shirt, black pants, and white-and-magenta sneakers.

Watterson described Calvin as: “Calvin is pretty easy to do because he is outgoing and rambunctious, and there’s not much of a filter between his brain and his mouth. I guess he’s a little too intelligent for his age. The thing that I really enjoy about him is that he has no sense of restraint; he doesn’t have the experience yet to know the things that you shouldn’t do.”

Hobbes: From the other characters’ perspectives, Hobbes is Calvin’s stuffed tiger. From Calvin’s point of view, Hobbes is an anthropomorphic tiger, much larger than Calvin and full of independent attitudes and ideas. When the perspective shifts to any other character, readers again see merely a stuffed animal, usually seated at an off-kilter angle and blankly staring into space.  Watterson explains: “When Hobbes is a stuffed toy in one panel and alive in the next, I’m juxtaposing the ‘grown-up’ version of reality with Calvin’s version, and inviting the reader to decide which is truer.”

Although the debut strip clearly shows Calvin capturing Hobbes by means of a snare (with a tuna sandwich as the bait), a later comic (August 1, 1989) indicates that Hobbes has been with Calvin since Calvin was a baby. Watterson eventually decided that it was not important to establish how Calvin and Hobbes met.

Calvins Parents: Calvin’s mother and father are American middle-class parents. Like many other characters in the strip, their relatively down-to-earth and sensible attitudes serve as a foil for Calvin’s outlandish behaviour. Watterson says some fans were angered by the way Calvin’s parents thought of Calvin. Watterson defends what Calvin’s parents do, remarking that in the case of parenting a kid like Calvin, “I think they do a better job than I would.”

Susie Derkins: Susie is the only important character with both a first and last name, is a classmate of Calvin’s who lives on his street. Named for the pet beagle of Watterson’s wife’s family, she appeared early in the strip as a new student in Calvin’s class. She is polite and studious, with a mild imagination consisting of stereotypical young-girl games such as playing house or hosting tea parties with her stuffed animals. However, she is also depicted playing imaginary games with Calvin in which she is a high-powered lawyer or politician and he is her house-husband. Though both of them hate to admit it, Calvin and Susie have quite a bit in common.

Moe: The stereotypical bully character, a “six-year-old who shaves” who pushes Calvin aside or to the ground, while threatening to pound him during recess or gym class. Moe is the only regular character whose speech is shown in an unusual font: his frequently monosyllabic dialogue is shown in crude, lower-case letters. Watterson describes Moe as “every jerk I’ve ever known.”

Miss Wormwood: Calvin’s world-weary teacher, named after the junior devil in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. She usually either wears a polka-dotted dress or a brown dress, and is another character who serves as a foil to Calvin’s mischief. Calvin, when in his Spaceman Spiff persona, sees Miss Wormwood as a slimy, often dictatorial alien.

Rosalyn: Calvin’s babysitter. She takes advantage of his parents’ desperation to leave the house and the fact that no one else will babysit for Calvin by demanding advances and raises.

There are many recurring gags in the strip, some in “reality” and others in Calvin’s imagination.

Calvin imagines himself as a great many things, including dinosaurs, elephants, jungle-farers and superheroes. Three of his alter egos are well-defined and recurrent:

  • “Spaceman Spiff” is a heroic spacefarer who narrates his experiences in the third person. As Spiff, Calvin battles aliens (typically his parents or teacher, but also sometimes other kids his age) with a ray gun known as a “zorcher” (later “death ray blaster” or “atomic napalm neutralizer”, a water gun or rubber band) and travels to distant planets (his house, school, or neighborhood).
  • “Tracer Bullet,” a hard-boiled private eye, says he has eight slugs in him (“One’s lead, and the rest are bourbon.”). He made his debut when Calvin donned a fedora to hide a haircut Hobbes had given him. These strips are drawn in elaborate, shadowy black-and-white.
  • As “Stupendous Man” he pictures himself as a superhero in disguise, wearing a mask and a cape made by his mother, and narrating his own adventures. While in character as Stupendous Man, he refers to his alter ego as a mild-mannered millionaire playboy. Stupendous Man almost always “suffers defeat” at the hands of his opponent. When Hobbes asks if Stupendous Man has ever won any battles, Calvin says all his battles are “moral victories.” Calvin often tries to pretend he and “Stupendous Man” are two different people, but it never seems to work. Stupendous Man has multiple “superpowers”, including but not limited to, super strength, the ability to fly, and a stomach of steel.

Bill Watterson – Calvin and Hobbes

William “Bill” Boyd Watterson II (born July 5, 1958) is an American cartoonist and the author of the legendary comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated from 1985 to 1995. Watterson stopped drawing Calvin and Hobbes at the end of 1995 with a short statement to newspaper editors and his readers that he felt he had achieved all he could in the medium. Watterson is known for his views on licensing and comic syndication, as well as for his reclusive nature.

Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., before the family moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, when he was 6 years old. Watterson, drew his first cartoon at the age of eight, occupying his time with drawing and cartooning. This continued throughout his primary and secondary schooling years when he drew cartoons for the school newspaper and yearbook. During this time he discovered comic strips like Pogo, Krazy Kat, and Charles Schultz’ Peanuts which subsequently inspired and influenced his desire to become a professional cartoonist.

From 1976 to 1980, Watterson attended Kenyon College and completed a degree in political science, all the while developing his artistic skills and contributing cartoons for the college newspaper. Many of the cartoons and pieces of artwork Watterson created at Kenyon can now be found online. These comics were the original “Spaceman Spiff” cartoons.

Later, when Watterson was coming up with names for the characters of his comic strip, he decided upon Calvin (after the Protestant reformer John Calvin) and Hobbes (after the social philosopher Thomas Hobbes) as a “tip of the hat” to the political science department at Kenyon, though since he has never directly cited this inspiration publicly, although in “The Complete Calvin And Hobbes,” Watterson does not explicitly name the inspiration for Calvin’s character, he does state that Calvin is named for “a 16th-century theologian who believed in predestination.”

In 1980, Watterson graduated from Kenyon with a B.A. in political science. Immediately, The Cincinnati Post offered him a job drawing political cartoons for a six-month trial period. During the early years of his career he produced several drawings and additional contributions for Target: The Political Cartoon Quarterly. He designed grocery advertisements for four years prior to creating Calvin and Hobbes.

Watterson has said he works for personal fulfillment. As he told the graduating class of 1990 at Kenyon College, “It’s surprising how hard we’ll work when the work is done just for ourselves.” Calvin and Hobbes was first published on November 18, 1985.

Like many artists, Watterson incorporated elements of his life, interests, beliefs and values into his work—for example, his hobby as a cyclist, memories of his own father’s speeches about ‘building character’, and his views on merchandising and corporations. Watterson’s cat, Sprite, very much inspired the personality and physical features of Hobbes.

Watterson spent much of his career trying to change the climate of newspaper comics. He believed that the artistic value of comics was being undermined, and that the space they occupied in newspapers continually decreased, subject to arbitrary whims of shortsighted publishers. Watterson battled against pressure from publishers to merchandise his work, something he felt would cheapen his comic. He refused to merchandise his creations on the grounds that displaying Calvin and Hobbes images on commercially sold mugs, stickers and T-shirts would devalue the characters and their personalities.

Watterson was awarded the National Cartoonists Society’s Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988 and the society’s Reuben Award in 1986; he was the youngest person ever to receive the latter award. In 1988, Watterson received the Reuben Award a second time. He was nominated a third time in 1992.

Watterson announced the end of Calvin and Hobbes on November 9, 1995, with the following letter to newspaper editors:

Dear Reader:

I will be stopping Calvin and Hobbes at the end of the year. This was not a recent or an easy decision, and I leave with some sadness. My interests have shifted, however, and I believe I’ve done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises. I have not yet decided on future projects, but my relationship with Universal Press Syndicate will continue.

That so many newspapers would carry Calvin and Hobbes is an honor I’ll long be proud of, and I’ve greatly appreciated your support and indulgence over the last decade. Drawing this comic strip has been a privilege and a pleasure, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Bill Watterson

The last strip of Calvin and Hobbes was published on December 31, 1995. Since the conclusion of Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson has taken up painting, at one point drawing landscapes of the woods with his father.

In early 2010, Watterson was interviewed by The Plain Dealer on the 15th anniversary of the end of Calvin and Hobbes. Explaining his decision to discontinue the strip, he said:

This isn’t as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of ten years, I’d said pretty much everything I had come there to say. It’s always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip’s popularity and repeated myself for another five, ten, or twenty years, the people now “grieving” for Calvin and Hobbes would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I’d be agreeing with them. I think some of the reason Calvin and Hobbes still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it. I’ve never regretted stopping when I did.

‘Psycho’ Prequel ‘Bates Motel’ Straight to Series

News via The Hollywood Reporter: A&E is checking in to the Bates Motel. The cable network has opted to bypass the traditional pilot stage and order its Psycho prequel Bates Motel straight to series aimed at a 2013 premiere.

From Lost‘s Carlton Cuse and Friday Night Lights‘ Kerry Ehrin, the series is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho and is described as a contemporary exploration of Norman Bates’ formative years. It will explore his relationship with his mother, Norma, and offer a look at the backstory that helped forge the infamous serial killer. It’s been dubbed as a cross between Twin Peaks and Smallville.

The series, which will begin preproduction and casting immediately, is scheduled for a 2013 premiere on A&E. Cuse and Ehrin will executive produce the Universal Television and Carlton Cuse Productions effort. Anthony Cipriano penned the pilot script.

“We are proud to be partnering with Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin on their thrilling reinvention of one of the most compelling characters in cinematic history,” A&E president and GM Bob DeBitetto and A&E exec vp programming Dave McKillop said in a joint statement announcing the news Monday. “It’s a provocative project from two of the best storytellers in the business, and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

Bates Motel marks former Lost co-showrunner Cuse’s first TV project since his run on the island-set ABC drama.

The A&E effort is not the first time a Psycho spinoff has been attempted; NBC aired a 90-minute TV movie titled Bates Motel in 1987. The A&E series also marks the latest serial-killer prequel story, joining NBC’s Silence of the Lambs prequel series, Hannibal, which hails from Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller.

Serial killer prequels and Hitchcock history are both subjects that are currently being explored at other places too. There’s Hannibal, Bryan Fuller’s Silence of the Lambs prequel TV show that is currently in development, for one. Also shooting are Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, Fox Searchlight’s behind the scenes drama starring Anthony Hopkins, and The Girl, which features Toby Jones as the famed thriller director.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world (Wonderland) populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, and its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was published in 1865, three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat, on 4 July 1862, up the Isis with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church) : Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13, born 1849) (“Prima” in the book’s prefatory verse); Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10, born 1852) (“Secunda” in the prefatory verse); Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8, born 1853) (“Tertia” in the prefatory verse).

The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. During the trip the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest.

To add the finishing touches he researched natural history for the animals presented in the book, and then had the book examined by other children—particularly the MacDonald children. He added his own illustrations but approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book for publication, telling him that the story had been well liked by children.

On 26 November 1864 he gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand.

But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party.

In 1865, Dodgson’s tale was published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by “Lewis Carroll”  with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print run of 2,000 was held back because Tenniel objected to the print quality. A new edition, released in December of the same year, but carrying an 1866 date, was quickly printed.

The manuscript was re-illustrated by Dodgson himself who added 37 illustrations—printed in a facsimile edition in 1887. John Tenniel provided 42 wood engraved illustrations for the published version of the book.

Alice has provided a challenge for other illustrators, including those of 1907 by Charles Pears and the full series of colour plates and line-drawings by Harry Rountree published in the (inter-War) Children’s Press (Glasgow) edition. Other significant illustrators include: Arthur Rackham 1907, Willy Pogany 1929, Mervyn Peake 1946, Ralph Steadman 1967, Salvador Dalí 1969, Graham Overden 1969, Max Ernst 1970 and Peter Blake 1970.

The book has inspired numerous film and television adaptations; sometimes merging it with it’s sequel Through the Looking-Glass (1887), at last count there were over 23 film and TV versions, including a porno and numerous animated versions. The most well known versions are Alice in Wonderland (1951) traditional animation by Walt Disney Animation, Alice (1988) by Jan Švankmajer, which blends stop motion animation and live action and Alice in Wonderland (2010) a live action/computer fantasy adventure directed by Tim Burton.

Shawnee Smith

Shawnee Smith (born July 3, 1970) is an American film and television actress and singer. Smith is best known for her roles as Meg Penny in The Blob (1988), Amanda Young in the Saw films and Linda in the CBS sitcom Becker. Smith once fronted the metal band Fydolla Ho, with which she toured the United States and the United Kingdom, and is half of  Smith & Pyle, a desert country-rock band, with actress Missi Pyle. She also featured in an awesome MAXIM photoshoot.

Shawnee Smith was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, however, the family relocated from South Carolina to Van Nuys, California, when she was one year old.  She attended North Hollywood High School where she graduated from in 1987.

Smith began acting as a child appearing on stage in A Christmas Carol repertory from ages 8 to 11 and starred in a stage play with Richard Dreyfuss at age 15. She joined the Screen Actors Guild at age nine and made her feature film debut in John Huston’s musical Annie, as one of the orphans. In 1985, Smith co-starred in two troubled-teen melodramas, Not My Kind and Crime of Innocence. In 1987, Smith co-starred in the hit comedy film Summer School as pregnant student Rhonda Altobello. The following year, she starred with Kevin Dillon in a 1988 remake of the Steve McQueen b-movie classic The Blob as Meg Penny.

Smith had roles in Who’s Harry Crumb (1989), Michael Cimino’s The Desperate Hours (1990) before taking a three-year break from acting in the early 1990s because she had outgrown teenage roles and had a hard time finding work. During that time she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and competed in a triathlon. When she was about to start attending classes she landed a small role in Leaving Las Vegas (1995), and has had steady work ever since in the likes of Dogtown (1997), Armageddon and Carnival of Souls (both 1998) .

Smith’s best-known television role was Linda, an air-headed nurse’s aide, in the CBS hit comedy series Becker with Ted Danson. She served as a regular cast member in all 129 episodes from 1998–2004. She also featured in the 1994 miniseries The Stand, based on the novel by Stephen King. She also appeared as a waitress in The Shining miniseries, which King adapted from his own novel.

Smith has become well known in recent years for her role as Amanda Young in the Saw films. Due mainly to that role she has been acknowledged as the pre-eminent ‘Scream Queen’ of the last decade. She was the main star of Saw II (2005), and Saw III (2006), and although she is briefly shown in Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), and Saw 3D (2010), she was never on set. Any scenes featuring her were dubbed from file footage. She filmed brand new flashback sequences for Saw VI (2009).

Smith has repeatedly admitted that she hates being scared and has a hard time watching the Saw films, or any horror movie. She originally turned the role of Amanda Young down because it was very upsetting to her. After turning the role down, she was shown the eight-minute short film by Leigh Whannell and James Wan and changed her mind after the role was offered to her a second time. Smith in the jaw trap became the image on the film poster. She also revealed at SawMania 2008 that her name was initially brought up for the role of Amanda because Saw director James Wan was a big fan of her films in the 1980s and had a longtime crush on her. Director Darren Bousman and Leigh Whannell have also talked about their crushes on Smith in the Saw DVD commentaries.

In 2006, Smith made an appearance in the ten-minute short film trailer Repo! The Genetic Opera by director Darren Lynn Bousmann. Smith’s character was Heather Sweet, the surgery addicted daughter of GeneCo president Rotti Largo. The trailer was filmed after completing Saw III to try to pitch the idea to film producers. Smith did not reprise her role as Heather Sweet when Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures picked up the film in 2007 and was replaced by Paris Hilton!

In 2008, Smith played Detective Gina Harcourt in the FEARnet original series 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust. The series premiered on July 17, 2008 on in six 4–6 minute webisodes along with behind the scenes clips. This series is a continuation of the first webisode series 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails. It is still available on and can also be seen in its entirety (about 30 minutes straight through) on FEARnet On Demand. She also made her producing debut with this series.

Smith was the host and one of three mentors on the VH1 reality program Scream Queens which aired from October 20, 2008 to December 8, 2008. Smith did not return as host and mentor for Season 2 due to scheduling conflicts, she was replaced by Jaimie King.

In 2009, Smith played the role of Dr. Ann Sullivan, a child psychiatrist, the third installment of The Grudge series, The Grudge 3. The film was a direct to DVD release in May 2009. She was last seen in the Billy Bob Thornton directed Jayne Mansfield’s Car. 

Enter the Void **½

French director Gaspar Noé has fashioned himself a reputation as a provocateur. His films push the boundaries of what his audiences, and of course various classification boards around the world, can handle.

His debut, I Stand Alone (1998), is a brutal companion piece to Taxi Driver, complete with a final act so graphic that Noé prefaces it with a title card that offers the audience a chance to leave the theatre before viewing it; of course no one would leave, at least until the violence starts…

He then courted world-wide controversy with his follow up, Irreversible (2002) featuring Monica Bellucci, an international star. The movie that featured the now infamous nine-minute, single shot anal rape scene.

Enter the Void is a 3 hour extension of the camera work featured throughout the first half of Irreversible. It could be described as an acid trip in film, featuring dizzying, swirling camera work, lurid colour palette and strobe lighting effects, although technically a brilliant experiment, unlike his previous efforts it falls short on genuine interest.

The film is told throughout from a first-person perspective of a young American, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a drug dealer and addict in Tokyo. He lives with his sister Linda (Paz De La Huerta), a pole dancer. The siblings share a close bond due to the early death of their parents while they were young; all they have is each other.

When Oscar is beaten to death in a bathroom deal, his spirit leaves his body and takes a trip around Tokyo, staying close to his sister, through his spirit we witness her descent as he experiences death as “the ultimate trip.”

Before he dies, Oscars French friend Alex (Cyril Roy) gives him a copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and explains the central belief of the book, and of course, the film we are watching:

  1. The spirit leaves the body after you die.
  2. You can see and hear everything, but can’t communicate with the land of the living.
  3. Lights put you on different planes of existence.
  4. The “bad dream” ends in reincarnation.

The film then ticks off that list throughout its duration as it portrays life as bleak, while the “death trip” is seen as the ultimate drug-fuelled head trip. Oscar follows Linda, experiencing her unwanted pregnancy, and abortion, he follows Alex who has sunk to new lows, he sees the death of his parents by car crash clearer than his earlier memories of it. And there we have it, Oscar and Linda’s lives were shattered by the death of their parents and they struggled to cope… duh!

Where life is jarring and gritty, the afterlife is fluid and trippy, so it doesn’t really matter if Oscar, Linda or Alex waste their life in their pursuit of sex or drugs, or whatever, they’ll enjoy their death and eventual rebirth. .. or not, it’s hard to care.

Of course this is a Noé film, so we have the expected shots of graphic sex, real or acted, it’s not important, and that’s pretty much my feeling about this ‘difficult’ third film from Noé. He brings so many ideas to the mix, he’s an original thinker, pushing those boundaries again, however for me this was a tedious exercise. It’s a simple plot, over complicated by artistic experimentation. Some judicious editing could have lifted this film to the heights of his earlier efforts.

It’s hard to dismiss the film as Noé is at least trying something new, as I’ve mentioned, he’s an original voice; he experiments with film as a medium and even though I found this film lacking the emotional punch of his earlier efforts, it certainly doesn’t lack their visual and artistic energy.

It’s original, experimental, distinctive and pretentious. As odd and out there as anything by Alejandro Jodorowsky and seemingly styled as a head trip with the pretentions of 2001: A Space Odyssey, albeit with all the style and none of the substance. I don’t mind being shocked, just don’t bore me.

Epileptics beware; there is incessant flashing strobe lighting throughout.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars.

Any Good: 1 out of 5 stars

Deborah Harry

Deborah Ann “Debbie” Harry (born July 1, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter and actress, best known for being the lead singer of the new wave band Blondie. She has also had success as a solo artist, and in the mid-1990s she performed and recorded as part of The Jazz Passnegrs. Her acting career spans over thirty film roles and numerous television appearances.

Harry was born in Miami, Florida, and adopted by Catherine Harry and Richard Smith, gift shop proprietors in Hawthorne, New Jersey. She graduated from Centenary College in Hackettstown, New Jersey, with an Associate of Arts degree in 1965. Before starting her singing career she moved to New York City in the late 1960s and worked as a secretary at BBC Radio’s office there for one year. Later, she was a waitress at Max’s Kansas City, a go-go dancer in Union City, New Jersey, discothèque, and a Playboy Bunny.

After stints in a few bands, Harry guitarist Chris Stein formed Blondie in 1974. Blondie quickly became regulars at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB in New York City. After a debut album in 1976, commercial success followed in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, first in Australia and Europe, then in the United States.

Harry featured in The Blank Generation (1976), the earliest “home movie” of New York punk’s birth filmed by Amos Poe and Ivan Kral, legendary 1970s guitarist with Iggy Pop, Blondie and Patti Smith. She also appeared as herself in the film Roadie (1980). Then in 1983, Harry, who had already appeared in a number of independent and underground films, made her major motion picture debut in the David Cronenberg film Videodrome. 

Videodrome is a 1983 Canadian science-fiction, body horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg, starring James Woods, Sonja Smits and Deborah Harry, with exceptional effects by Rick Baker. Set in Toronto during the early 1980s, it follows the CEO of a small cable station who stumbles upon a broadcast signal featuring extreme violence and torture. The layers of deception and mind-control conspiracy unfold as he uncovers the signal’s source and loses touch with reality in a series of increasingly bizarre and violent organic hallucinations.

The film received generally positive reviews, with a rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 40 reviews. It has been described as a “disturbing techno-surrealist film” and “burningly intense, chaotic, indelibly surreal, absolutely like nothing else”.

Harry took on a number of acting roles including the villainous Velma Von Tussle in John Water’s Hairspray (1988), an affluent suburban housewife and modern-day witch in Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (1990) and Body Bags (1993) by John Carpenter. She has also featured in numerous documentaries about the NY Punk scene, including the excellent End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones (2003), Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003) and Too Tough to Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone (2006).