Tag Archives: movies

“EIGHT DAYS A WEEK”; Impressions of Ron Howard’s Beatles Film

I just saw the new Beatles film, “Eight Days a Week” and these are some of my impressions. I didn’t think I would actually like it that much. The Beatlemania years, frankly, don’t interest me as much as their more interesting Liverpool and Hamburg beginnings or their more creative period in the studio. The usual story is that, most of the time, they were just going through the motions, unable to hear themselves play, with all the screaming fans’ madness (especially near the end of their “Touring Years”, as the movie’s subtitle is called).

I thought director Ron (“Happy Days”) Howard might only cover the nice parts of Beatlemania. He does in the first half of the film and captures the pure energy of their early performances. He has assembled some not usually-seen footage and photos of their early concerts and appearances in Liverpool and Europe. These sometimes black and white images give it an almost old newsreel and historical feel. The film does seem primarily aimed at the North American market though.  There were only a couple Liverpool interviewees included in the theatre version, except for some trusted Beatles-insiders like roadie and later Apple director, Neil Aspinall (although I understand the later-to-be-released Deluxe 2 DVD version will  include more of these and lots more).

Howard also puts the Beatles Invasion into context with the tumultuous events the U.S.A. was going through in the mid-60’s with the Vietman War, Civil Rights demonstrations, and the assassination of JFK, which had only happened a few months before. The American people, especially its teenagers, were certainly ready for something to lift them out of their depression.  Along come these 4 English lads with the funny Liverpool accents and humor and it’s just the right medicine.  The Fab Four did so with its own version of the, ironically, America’s export, rock and roll, and the simple but catchy words and rhythms of their early original songs.  But what struck me again, upon seeing the film, is just how young and mainly female so many of their fans were.  For by this time, The Beatles themselves were already grown men in their early 20’s, playing to some only half their age.  Some of the most interesting and humorous moments for the movie audience, I was with anyway, was seeing again the complete hysteria they created in their fans (remember early attendees to their performances in the Cavern and Hamburg, evidently, didn’t originally scream).

But by ’66 and for most of the rest of the film, the whole atmosphere begins to change around The Beatles and they themselves could do little to contain it. Of course, there was the infamous “we’re more popular than Jesus” Lennon remark and the reaction it caused.  But it wasn’t only in America that they began to feel a backlash; there were death threats in Japan and, in the Philippines, they barely escaped when its First Lady Imelda Marcos felt snubbed. Howard has said in interviews promoting the film, that he didn’t want to go intodark corners.  But I have to give him credit for also not shying away from this part of their story too. For it seemed the once innocent teen hysteria had indeed turned into a far more dangerous form of madness. Howard includes excerpts from John and George’s recorded comments and also present day interviews with Paul and Ringo on both, the good and bad, aspects of this period.

The pall of these later more disturbing times toward the end of their touring years, which somewhat descends on the last half of the movie, is fortunately broken by his choice to also include their famous last public appearance on their Apple company’s rooftop in 1969.  What this reveals once again, is that even to the end (which they would also demonstrate on their last recorded album, Abbey Road) these were first and foremost musicians and original songwriters. Once they decided to finally get off the road because of the mounting pressures they were feeling, it would also allow them more time to spend in the studio and become more and more creative artists and not just entertainers.

Also shown in the movie theater after, was a half-hour film of their ’65 Shea Stadium concert. With improved color footage and remixed sound for this project by George Martin’s son, Gilles (although some in the particular theater I was in, said the sound wasn’t that good-but it may be fine in the movie and DVD itself), it shows just how good of performers they could be, even in often chaotic conditions. Ringo says that they really did try to always give their best-all four of them.  You can tell by their on-stage jokes that they are still having fun-most of the time. In the Shae Stadium show, Paul does one of his best, but perhaps underrated  rockers, “I’m Down”, with which they often ended their concerts, but for some reason was never released on a regular Beatles album(it was the B-side of the “Help” single).  John seems to be his old self, mugging and delivering gobbledigook asides and Paul is always the consummate showman. George is the musician, making sure he doesn’t miss a single guitar note and Ringo is driving the beat and shaking his hair. They alone were in the eye of the hurricane, but the film does seem to capture what it must have been like.  Howard’s title for his film is appropriate, for it really was “8 Days a Week.” As I said, the DVD will be released later this fall with some interesting extras.  But I would recommend, if you can, going to see this film still in the movie theater, and getting that feeling of enjoying it with other fans, which is what the best of Beatlemania was all about.

Femme Fatale-Beware!

“40 SHADES OF RED”: A FANTASY SATIRE

“40 SHADES OF RED”: A FANTASY SATIRE

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

One cold, windy late October day, SHE came into my little antiquarian bookstore.  SHE looked plain on the outside, with big thick glasses. SHE told me she was a librarian and SHE looked the stereotype, quiet and shy.  I seemed to also have a fantasy about librarians too (for they also liked books).  SHE said her name was Veronica, just like my long-time fantasy, Veronica Lake, from the Noir Films, which were my favorite.

But despite her looking like a librarian, I couldn’t help but notice her small breasts peeking through the top of her red blouse, with the beginnings of an intriguing tattoo visible (I had a thing for them too- tattoos I mean, my dad had run a tattoo parlour, so I had grown up with them all around me).  So underneath that prim exterior, there was also a sensual side to this intriguing woman, maybe hidden-but there.  And looking back now, I think it was that combination of innocence on the outside and sexiness below that first captivated me from the very first time I met her.

“40 SHADES OF RED”

Still it surprised me when the book she was looking for was by an infamous 19th Century writer, Marquis de Sade, known for his erotic S & M stories.  I happened to have a regular customer who collected his books.  I told her he might be willing to sell the title she wanted, but that he was away in Europe and wouldn’t be back for several weeks.  But she started to come in often to my shop and we’d talk about books, etc.  SHE always seemed to wear at least something in red, and I thought it made her look more feminine and pretty.  In that time, Veronica and I got to know each other better and better. We had good times and laughed a lot.  It was great to watch her come out of herself.  There was a certain naivety about her, almost like a child, that was unusual and refreshing, in these cynical days, we seem to live in today.  Before long, I was falling in love with her.  And she knew it and would let me be affectionate with her.  It was clear she liked me too.

Each visit, she would reveal more and more to me.   And on one visit, she admitted she was married.  I’d always thought she was single, as she hadn’t mentioned anything before.  Then she broke down and cried and said she was also in trouble and needed help.  This is the way SHE told it:  It seemed that when her marriage had been having some problems, she had gotten involved with another man and had had an affair. This man had claimed to Veronica that he was a painter; he had even taken the name of the famous 18th Century Impressionist , calling himself, Monet.  She later found out that this guy, Jack Monet, was a painter alright, but the only thing he had been trained to paint was houses.  But not before he had somehow convinced Veronica in her emotional state and naivety to pose for him, wearing nothing but her tattoos.  And that was the trouble she was in.  For now he was now threatening to expose the affair and her painting to her still husband and children, unless she paid him $ 5,000.

There had been a craze in the beginnings of the 21st Century called nude selfies-where people would send nude photos of themselves to each other.  It had started out with teenagers, but soon everyone was doing it-parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, employees, bosses, etc.  But a reaction had occurred with all the blatant nudity and, as has often occurred throughout history, the exposing of and which parts of the human body, had gone through many pendulum swings, and it was no longer cool to publically expose oneself (which is why Veronica’s painting could be so threatening).  We had studied, in school, the brief craze of nude selfies back then, as an example of a silly fad, and as with all fads, it had soon exhausted itself, and had disappeared by 2016.  Likewise, in those old days, people had believed that diet, exercise, and stress affected aging, but we now know that, actually, aging is mainly caused by cosmic rays from space and as long as we wore our cosmic suits we could, most of us, live to be 200.

But Veronica didn’t have the money to pay the blackmailer and she didn’t know what she was going to do.  I could see the jam she was in and I loved her.  I didn’t have the money either. But I wanted to help this poor, innocent woman. The world had treated her badly, and it wasn’t her fault.  So here was my chance to rescue her and show her how much I loved her, at the same time.

So then I came up with a plan.  While the collector of the Marquis book was still in Europe, I could break into his place and steal it and we could sell it on the black market for at least that much.  The next week, on a moonless night, I did break into the collector’s house and I managed to steal it. We soon found a willing collector out of town, willing to pay what we asked, and with no questions asked.  I then met with the sleazy pretend-Monet painter and we paid him off and got her nude painting back and told him if he ever bothered her again, he’d regret it.

To celebrate after all this, Veronica and I made love, and as I suspected, she was no librarian in bed.  She showed me sides of myself I didn’t know I even had.  She also admitted to me later that night,that SHE, this shy little librarian, also worked part-time as a dominatrix.  Now her wanting that Marquis de Sade book made sense.

Veronica and I were finally free, we thought.   But a couple months later, the police came to visit my bookstore.  I didn’t think much about it; I figured they were just checking to see if anyone had tried to sell the stolen Marquis.  But it was worse than I thought. That fake Monet guy, had tipped off the police on us, anonymously, and had skipped the country to Europe (where he would no doubt try to take Picasso’s name).

I went to court and I had to admit that it had been my plan.  SHE turned prosecution evidence against me, when they threatened to charge her too, in exchange for testifying against me.  SHE got off scot-free and is back working at the library (and on weekends as a dominatrix, evidently still).

Me, I’m here in prison, serving my time, and writing this story.  Let this be a warning, be careful what you fantasize about; it might just come true.

Top Five, new film by Chris Rock, some have called the black Annie Hall

CHRIS ROCK’S TOP FIVE FILM: TODAY’S ANNIE HALL

CHRIS ROCK’S TOP FIVE FILM: TODAY’S ANNIE HALL  

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

Over New Years, I saw Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five. Some critics have called it a black Woody Allen film and have compared it to Allen’s classic film, Annie Hall, from 1977.   If Woody Allen had been black instead of white and Jewish, and was making a statement about our 2014/15 world, he might have made a similar film such as this one.  Like Allen’s, it also uses the streets of New York City as it’s backdrop.  But it’s both a romantic-comedy and a satire of our current media and celebrity–obsessed world.

It’s the story of a former stand-up comedian and comic actor, Andre Allen, played by Chris Rock, who wants to make more serious social statements in his work (he has become famous and successful dressed as “Hammy the Bear” in a series of mindless popular movies).   Andre has just made a political film about the Haitian Revolution, but his fans and the media are more interested in his light comedies. On top of this, he’s also about to marry a reality-TV star, Erica (Gabrielle Union), which his managers say will be good for his career.

But in order to publicize his serious film, he meets beautiful New York Times reporter, Chelsea Brown, (Rosario Dawson) and gradually all his and his handler’s plans begin to fall apart, at this turning point in his career and life. Reminiscent of Woody Allen’s films again (Chris Rock not only acts in but also wrote and directed Top Five), there are long shots of the two walking around New York having interesting conversations, as they are gradually attracted to each other. But like Allen, he doesn’t make relationships seem easy.   It’s to Rock’s credit that he has also made both main characters flawed as well; they both have some hidden baggage that has to be confronted if their romance is to continue.

Chris Rock & Rosario Dawson in Top Five could be the black Woody Allen and Diane Keaton

Chris Rock & Rosario Dawson in Rock’s film, Top Five, could be the new black Woody Allen and Diane Keaton

Top Five though could only have been made by a cutting-edge and black comic like Chris Rock.  For that’s where the similarities with white comedians and films ends.  Whereas, Woody Allen’s and Jerry Seinfeld’s cerebral and upper and middle–class character comedies and Adam Sandler’s frat –boy humor (both Seinfeld and Sandler make cameo appearances) examine sex and white guilt and hang-ups, Rock’s probes his own black working-class roots.  He takes on directly black culture and stereotypes, even to question their own hang-ups and icons.  He has roles played by several black entertainers from former fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus Tracy Morgan , Cedric the Entertainer,  Kevin Hart, to Whoopi Goldberg.   In fact, Rock pulls no punches even when satirizing his own community- which took a lot of bravery.  He even dares to comment on Oprah’s “noble” black stereotype (Cosby has criticized Rock before for using the word  “nigger” extensively, but we now know Cosby’s own reality)) and Tyler Perry’s  films (in one scene, people are lining up to see Perry’s populist films, but ignoring Rock’s serious Haitian Revolution one).

Also there are several uncompromising sex scenes and language which, frankly, some white audiences won’t probably appreciate or understand. This is not a film with politically-correct language and politically-correct attitudes, which is rare for liberal Hollywood. This film might be an indication that Rock could well be the inheritor of Richard Pryor’s take-no-prisoners mantle. But it only makes Top Five more authentic.  Instead of making it just a romantic-comedy (which it is partly), he has made it real and better in the process.

There’s no doubt, that like Woody Allen’s films, it’s also largely autobiographical. For Rock, like his character, is at a turning point in his own career and life (just recently Rock announced that he’s divorcing his wife of almost 19 years) and is moving ahead to be a creative writer and a director. Rock says that as a child his parents had him bused out of his poor black neighborhood to attend a mainly white school, but he said it only made him a target for white abuse.  The film could perhaps be somewhat of an homage to Woody Allen (the main character is named Allen). Critics have been giving it good reviews and it’s been nominated for awards and is doing well at the U.S. box office. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 8.5 rating.

Actually, it also reminds me of two of my other favorite films as well.  Sullivan’s Travels is a classic 1942 film by Preston Sturges staring all-American, Joel McCrea, like Chris Rock’s character, a successful Hollywood director who wants to make socially-relevant films rather than light comedies, until he meets sexy, street-smart Veronica Lake and of another Woody Allen movie besides Annie Hall, 1980’s Stardust Memories.  In that one, Woody plays an again successful film maker who wants to also make more “meaningful” films.  At the end of it, he meets some aliens who, when Allen typically comments about the ‘uselessness of existence’, The aliens , much as Sullivan learned in the ’42 film, advise him to “just make funnier movies” and that that is the best thing he can do for the world.

Stardust Memories, Woody Allen's 1980 film, examines some of same themes , romance and att and society, as Chris Rock's new film, top Five

Stardust Memories, 1980 Woody Allen movie, examines some of same themes (romance, art, and society) as Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five

Sullivan's Travels, 1941 classic film, tcoved some of same thenmes as chris Rock's new film, Top Five

Sullivan’s Travels, 1941 film classic by Preston Sturges, has similar basic plot as Chris Rock’s Top Five film

It’s clear, that Chris Rock was very influenced by these above classic films in subject, plot and characterization.  Like all good artists, which this movie shows he has the potential of becoming, as well as an entertainer, Rock has learned from those who’ve gone before him, but has made it into something new again while commenting on our current society and current relationships.  While some of the scenes and humor will make sense especially to his community, like Woody Allen, he’s also tapped into some very universal human experiences with which we can all relate and that’s why Top Five is so strongly recommended.

Trailer for Chris Rock’s Top Five Film:

http://youtu.be/wJ0Qhbm3Xj8

THE INTERVIEW film became "cause celeb" when Sont Pictures pulled release originally because of alleged North Korean hacking

THE INTERVIEW: A JUVENILE DICTATOR & A JUVENILE MOVIE

THE INTERVIEW:  A JUVENILE DICTATOR & A JUVENILE MOVIE

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

Everyone all around, in this whole The Interview movie brouhaha, has acted like big children.  Of course, first the tin-pot dictator of North Korea, of whom the movie makes fun. Then Sony Pictures, for first pulling the film and, now under pressure, releasing it to select theatres and on the internet.

All the conservative flag wavers got up in arms about how they weren’t going to let a foreign power tell Americans what film they could watch. Then the liberals joined in and yelled, “censorship”. Even President Obama weighed in, saying Sony should have called him first. The FBI laid the attack at North Korea’s door, supposedly.  At least, Obama didn’t characterize it, as some conservatives did, as an act of war, but instead called it “cyber vandalism” and said the U.S. would act proportionally. Then suddenly North Korea’s own internet was hacked, (likely by the U.S.)  North Korea, evidently doesn’t have much internet access anyway.  But the whole thing could have been right out of a Marx Bros. movie.

KIM JONG-UN , real life dictator could have come out of a Marx Bros. movie, if he wasn't a sad joke and bully

KIM JONG-UN, the North Korean dictator, is already a sad joke and big bully

Of course, Hollywood couldn’t have dreamed up a better publicity stunt to get people into the theatres for one of their lesser efforts.  For now, not only conservative flag wavers and but liberals too, (plus all those who just want be part of the latest thing, like the latest Apple product) are lining up.  It’s the perfect storm for marketing an otherwise, with both critics and Rotten Tomatoes giving mixed reviews at best, for basically a mediocre slacker comedy.  We have people going to see it not for entertainment, but for principle! We live in a very politically–correct society these days and it leads to some often-strange reactions.  Hollywood, primarily liberals, despite their making plenty of violent films, says we’ve got to protect our rights to produce “art”, even if that stretches the concept far indeed.

Most Korean experts say, the peculiar dictator or whoever is actually running the place, just really want the world’s attention, and that’s why they perhaps try these often-ridiculous stunts.  But it seems to me, he or they are just like a big schoolyard bully, and should be dealt with the same basic way.  Of course, a bully should not be allowed to continue his little power games, but he should be answered appropriately. Yet we should not over-react either and think just by attending a facile movie, it’s going to “show” them or by yelling “free speech” coming out of a movie theatre and or by making it into the latest ” cause celeb”.

Sony and many other companies and organizations should have been aware of cyber attackers, whether they be foreign or individuals, and have had better protections of their data in place (some of their own employees are now suing them over this).  Edward Snowden revealed to the public just how many governments, including the U.S., government on it’s own people, are doing this too.

But all the uproar and over-reaction seem to be almost as juvenile as the instigators’ childish attempts and for such a juvenile movie.  Dumb and Dumber indeed!

http://youtu.be/Ed2kSuKqfz0

THE GRADUATE, directed by Mike Nichols spoke for the 60's generation

MIKE NICHOL’S THE GRADUATE: A SOCIETY REBELLION/LOVE STORY

MIKE NICHOL’S THE GRADUATE

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

Mike Nichols & Elaine May, classic comedy team before Nichols became a director

Classic 1950’s & 60’s comedy duo: Elaine May & Mike Nichols (later director” The Graduate”).

Iconic photo from The Graduate, with Benjamin shot through Mrs. Robinson's legs.

The Graduate’s iconic scene, Benjamin seen through Mrs. Robinson’s legs

 A SOCIETY REBELLION/LOVE STORY

Mike Nichols just passed away.  He was an accomplished director in both film and theatre.  He’s directed such films as Who’s  Afraid of Virgina Woolf, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Working Girl, etc. as well as several plays on Broadway.  But he’s probably most known for his film, The Graduate, in 1967.

Like in music, there are certain generation-defining films and The Graduate was that, and like Easy Rider later in’69, The Graduate expressed the feelings of the 60’s generation.  For the main character, Benjamin (played by Dustin Hoffman in his breakthrough role) represented the questioning of society which many young people at the time were going through. It was the height of the Vietnam War and there were demonstrations on campuses and many college students were challenging the values of their parents’ generation.

The most well-known scene is, of course, the seduction scene, where Benjamin is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (sexily played by Anne Bancroft). It was director Mike Nichol’s idea to film Benjamin framed through Mrs. Robinson’s legs.  It became an iconic photo which perfectly represented the film and also the temptation to go along with the “Establishment”.  Traditional values still offered those carrots to middle-class students-get a university degree, serve in the army, get married, and have a secure career.  Another famous scene expressed this too, the scene where Benjamin’s uncle tells him he should get a career in “plastics”. There was a conflict which was going on in American society, between the past and the future, and the film perfectly captured that.

Benjamin likes Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s beautiful, but innocent daughter (played by Katharine Ross), but when she finds out about his affair with her mother, she rejects him.  Benjamin after he becomes “tainted” by Mrs. Robinson’s temptations, for a while even becomes callous towards Elaine, whom he embarrasses by taking her to a strip club.  Benjamin, eventually repents and tries to win Elaine back again.  The Graduate then becomes a great love story and, against all odds and society, fights his way back to her heart.  There are some of the most harrowing scenes as he drives by Elaine’s house, hoping to reach her, while on the soundtrack is playing Simon and Garfunkel’s sad song, “April Comes She Will”.  Simon and Garfunkel’s songs, of course, make up the famous soundtrack, especially “Mrs. Robinson” (it wasn’t made specifically for the film, but was called, “Mrs. Roosevelt” originally) and exposed their music considerably.  Nichols picked the perfect music to go along with the film.

The Graduate became symbolically, the battle between the system and rebellion against society, which many young people were actually facing at that time and, thus became massively popular with youth.  At the end of the film, like all heroic characters, Benjamin rushes in, just in time to save his damsel, Elaine (who realizes herself finally, Benjamin’s essential goodness and love for her).  The audience cheers the heroic couple as they escape the corrupt Robinsons and the Establishment life they had been offered.  The classic morality tale is up-dated for the times.

But what is most intriguing is the very last scene on the bus they’ve boarded to get away:  Benjamin and Elaine look curiously perplexed for a couple who have just fought society and won.  They each stare straight ahead and not at each other, a look of panic, even on their faces. Why?  What was director, Nichols saying?  I noticed this when I first saw The Graduate in 1967.  But I wondered then and now, if most young people even noticed at the time. That last scene to me has always been the most fascinating one in the movie.  For perhaps Nichols is hinting that for maybe Benjamin and Elaine (and perhaps symbolically, the 60’s generation), it may not be so black and white and simple a choice as youth thought their “freedom” might be.  I still wonder all these years later what Nichols meant to say.  But that is also why Nichols’ films like The Graduate still stand up- he always had a subtlety and psychological layers in his work.  Something he perhaps  learned as an actor himself, at one time, in improvisational theatre in Chicago and later as part of the influential comedy team Elaine May & Mike Nichols.  Nichols was later married to TV journalist, Diane Sawyer. The Graduate is still ranked #17 of top American films by the American Film Institute and #21 on the highest grossing films in North America.

I have my own personal story, related to The Graduate.   In 1967, I was attending a Midwestern U.S. university and questioning my own place in society.  I had transferred the year before from another U.S. university where I was taking pharmacy, but had decided to change my major to political science and history, partly because I also began to question the Vietnam War and the direction society was heading in the 60’s.  That same year, 1967, was the “Summer of Love” and The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers’ had been released and it too would become a generation-defining icon and symbol of youth and the changes taking place. I was a big Beatles’ fan and these two cultural events, Sgt. Peppers and The Graduate were to have a large effect on many of my generation and on me personally.

When I had transferred to this new university, I had been required to take a foreign language and I took French.  But I was not very good at languages and the only thing that kept me going to the class was a pretty girl in my French course.  So I asked her out.  But it turned out to be a disastrous first date. For I was now an older 3rd year student because of my two years at the previous university, and this girl, a first year student, I arrogantly found to be too young and innocent (much like the character, Elaine, in The Graduate).    A year later though, still required to take another course in French, which I was still terrible at it, we had to take our French final in a large auditorium.  It was a stressful time because if I failed that oral final (which counted 50% of my grade), I would likely fail the course. I knew with the blaring speakers of the auditorium where it was given and with my worst aspect, being the oral part, that I was likely doomed.

I exited the auditorium, dejected. But whom do I run into there, but the same girl from that first French class and disastrous date the year before.  And surprisingly, she’s quite friendly.  For some reason, out of the blue,(I figured what had I to lose after the day I’d been having!), I asked her out that night to a movie.  And to my astonishment, she said, “Yes”.

We decided to go to a new movie in town that weekend, of which we knew little about.  Well, it was The Graduate.  We had no idea then that it would, as I say, become a generation-defining film.  But we both loved it and we got along well after the film.  This girl was now, to my now less-arrogant eyes, even more beautiful (she even looked like Katharine Ross, who played Elaine in the film), than I had remembered.  We became close for the rest of my university days.

But unfortunately, those days were soon to become to an end.  For with the  failure of that French course and some others (school courses seemed pretty irrelevant any more, with all the changes going on in society and my growing  opposition to the Vietnam War), I dropped out of university and now faced the American draft.  Finally, when there were few choices left (Vietnam or jail), I decided to flee to Canada.  And when I did finally have to leave, I asked this girl if there was anything I could give her for all her support, she said there was a special antique chair in my room that she had long admired, and I carried it in the snow to her place and said goodbye to her for the last time.  So I will always associate The Graduate with this girl and the experiences we had and the bittersweet moment of having to leave her behind and face my own choices about society.  And they were to help determine my own future, much like the characters, Benjamin and Elaine in the film, and ironically, reminded me of that haunting bittersweet look on their faces in that last scene of  Mike Nichol’s The Graduate.

THe curious last scene in tThe Graduate, wher Benjamin and Elaine, seem strangely not very happy despite their rebellion against their parents' world

The curious last scene in The Graduate, with our heroes looking strangely non-content

See Below Trailer For “The Graduate”:

http://youtu.be/hsdvhJTqLak

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsdvhJTqLak

My own Femme Fatale: Veronica

20 SHADES OF PINK/YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

20 SHADES OF PINK/ CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

It was when SHE walked into my shop that it all first began. You see, I’m THE BOOK DETECTIVE.   You could say, I’m a bit of an archaeologist; my business is finding old artifacts called-books.  For those out there who were born after the 20th century and the internet, I guess I should maybe explain what books were.  In our present time, the late 21st century, of course, books have long been replaced by other technologies and everyone when born is implanted with a special computer chip which contains all the information for a lifetime or, if needed, they can be uploaded with new information annually.  But in the old days, people actually used a physical copy on which they wrote their stories and facts which was printed on paper and bound together and they were called books.  And that’s where my business comes in, there are still fortunately a few collectors left, a minority admittedly, still willing to pay for these artifacts.

I myself have always been especially partial to and collected a special genre of writing from the last century, in the 1940’s and 1950’s called hard-boiled detective novels and in some movies based on those writings, named film noir. There is one particular woman which is considered the classic icon of those times, named Veronica Lake. She often played the sexy, enigmatic role which came to be known as the Femme Fatale.  And one of my fantasies has been to one day actually meet a real Femme Fatale.

One cold, windy October day, SHE came into my little antiquarian bookstore. SHE looked plain on the outside, with big thick glasses. SHE told me she was a librarian and SHE looked the stereotype, quiet and shy.  I seemed to also have a fantasy about librarians too (for they also liked books and kept them on file for posterity as well as some of the museums).  SHE said her name was Veronica, just like my long-time fantasy from the noir films.  But despite her looking like a librarian, I couldn’t help but notice her small breasts peeking through her pink blouse, with the beginnings of an intriguing tattoo visible (I had a thing for them too- tattoos I mean, my dad had run a tattoo parlour, so I had grown up with them all around me). So underneath that prim exterior, there was also a sensual side to this intriguing woman, maybe hidden- but there. And looking back now, I think it was that combination of innocence on the outside and sexiness below that first captivated me from the very first time I met her.

Still it surprised me when the book she was looking for was by an infamous 19th Century writer, Marquis de Sade, known for his erotic S & M writings. I happened to have a regular customer who collected his books.  I told her he might be willing to sell the title she wanted, but that he was away in Europe and wouldn’t be back for several weeks.  But she started to come in often to my shop and we’d talk about books, etc. SHE would always wear at least something in pink, and I thought it made her look more feminine and pretty.  In that time, Veronica and I got to know each other better and better. We had great times and laughed a lot.  It was great to watch her come out of herself.  There was a certain naivete about her, almost like a child, that was unusual and refreshing, in these cynical days, we seem to live in today.  Before long, I was falling in love with her.  And she knew it and would let me be affectionate with her.  It was clear she liked me too.

Each visit, she would reveal more and more to me.   And on one visit, she admitted she was married.  I’d always thought she was single, as she hadn’t mentioned anything before.  Then she broke down and cried and said she was also in trouble and needed help.  This is the way SHE told it:  It seemed that when her marriage had been having  problems, she had gotten involved with another man and had had an affair. This man had claimed to Veronica that he was a painter, he had even taken the name of the famous 18th Century Impressionist , calling himself, Monet.  She later found out that this guy, Jack Monet, was a painter alright, but the only thing he had been trained to paint was houses.  But not before he had somehow convinced Veronica in her emotional state and naivete to pose for him, wearing nothing but her tattoos.  And that was the trouble she was in.  For now he was now threatening to expose the affair and her painting to her still husband and children, unless she paid him $10,000.

There had been a craze at the beginning of the 21st Century called –nude selfies. It had started with teenagers, but soon everyone was doing it-parents, grandparents,uncles, aunts. employees, bosses, etc.  But a reaction had occurred  with all the blatant nudity and, as has often occurred throughout history, the exposing of and which parts of the human body, had gone through many pendulum swings, and it was no longer cool to publically expose oneself (which is why Veronica’s painting could be so threatening).  We had studied in school the brief craze of nude selfies back then, as an example of a silly fad and mass hysteria, and as with all fads, it had soon exhausted itself, and had disappeared by 2016.  Besides, in those old days, people had believed that diet, exercise, and stress affected aging, but we now know that, actually, aging is mainly caused by cosmic rays from space and as long as we wore our cosmic suits we could, most of us, live to be 200.

But Veronica didn’t have the money and she didn’t know what she was going to do. I could see the jam she was in and I loved her.  I didn’t have the money either. But I wanted to help this poor, innocent woman. The world had treated her badly, and it wasn’t her fault.  So here was my chance to rescue her and show her how much I loved her, at the same time.

So then I came up with a plan.  While the collector of the Marquis book was still in Europe, I could break into his place and steal it and we could sell it on the black market for at least that much.  The next week, on a moonless night, I did break into the collector’s house and I managed to steal it. We soon found a willing collector out of town, willing to pay what we asked, and with no questions asked.  I then met with the sleazy pretend-Monet painter and we paid him off and got her nude painting back and told him if he ever bothered her again, he’d regret it.

To celebrate after all this, Veronica and I made love, and as I suspected, she was no librarian in bed.  She showed me sides of myself I didn’t know I even had.  She also admitted to me later that night, that SHE, this shy little librarian, also worked part-time as a dominatrix.  Now her wanting that Marquis de Sade book made sense.

Veronica and I were finally free, we thought.   But a couple months later, the police came to visit my bookstore.  I didn’t think much about it; I figured they were just checking to see if anyone had tried to sell the stolen Marquis.  But it was worse than I thought. That fake Monet guy, had tipped off the police on us, anonymously, and had fled to Europe (no doubt taking on the name, Picasso).

I went to trial and I had to admit that it had been my plan.  SHE turned prosecution evidence against me, when they threatened to charge her too, in exchange for testifying against me.  SHE got off scot-free and is back working at the library (and on weekends as a dominatrix, evidently still).

Me, I’m here in prison, serving my time, and writing this story.  Let this be a warning, be careful what you fantasize about; it might just come true.  I met my Femme Fatale.  There  was an expression, back when there were books, which I guess, is still apt,- YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

P.S. The picture of my Femme Fatale, Veronica, above, is actually of Elaine May, a comedienne of the 20th Century, who was in the famous comedy duo, Mike Nicholas and Elaine May in the 1950’s and 60’s.  The photo above is of her nerdy character, Henrietta, from the 1971 film , A New Leaf, with Walter Matthau who plans to murder her for her money, but falls in love with her instead.  It’s a comedy classic, which partly inspired my above story.

See video excerpt from A New Leaf (1971):

Elaine May & Mike Nichols, classic comedy duo, 1950's & 60's.

Classic 20th Century comedy duo (1950’s & 60’s) : Elaine May & Mike Nichols ( later director” The Graduate”, 1967).

Elaine May & Walter Matthayu in classic film comedy' A New Leaf

Poster for”A New Leaf” film (1971) starring Elaine May and Walter Matthau

Robert Mitchum was from the '"subtle " brand of acting

ROBERT MITCHUM: FILM NOIR COOL!

ROBERT MITCHUM: FILM NOIR COOL!

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

Robrtt Mitchum and Jane Greer in

CLASSIC Film Noir: Robert Mitchum and Femme Fatale, Jane Greer, in “Out of the Past”, 1947.

Robery Mitchum, one of the

Robert Mitchum, in his 1940’s fedora and classic look.

Robert Mitchum was a popular actor in the 1940’s and 50’s, mainly known for his film noir film roles. Mitchum is listed #23 on the greatest male legends of all time by the American Film Institute.  He often seemed almost half awake with his laid-back acting, but you couldn’t keep our eyes off him on the big screen.  For his nonchalant presence was deceiving.  Other actors would try to overact with grand gestures, but Mitchum somehow held our interest with the even the smallest ones.  He was able to express the emotion buried just below the surface of a character. And he was ahead of his time, taking on the roles of what would later be called anti-heroes.

Women loved this strong, silent quality in his portrayals and men wished they could be more like him.  He often played tough, manly characters, which could throw someone around the room, but at the same time, ones that weren’t afraid to reveal their sensitive sides too.

In 1947’s “western-noir”, Pursued, he plays a man who’d been adopted by a woman who tries to raise him as her own, but he never quite fits in, always wondering where he came from.  His half-brother hates him and his half-sister played by Teresa Wright (Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt), can’t help falling in love with him and he with her, even though its forbidden.  After he’s reluctantly forced to kill his half-brother and another innocent suitor for her, she finally agrees to marry him, but initially only planning to do so to kill him for the mistaken hurt.  It’s almost Shakespearian in scope and its characters, for a western, but Mitchum’s able to capture it.

He would also appear in several more similar roles in this period, including the classic film noir, Out Of the Past, the same year, in which he’s up against a sleazy Kirk Douglas (only Douglas’ 2nd film) and Femme Fatale, Jane Greer.  Again Mitchum had to play a wronged man, haunted by his past.  And there was always a Fatale to match wits with him.

But just as he was becoming popular with these and other roles, his reputation as a “bad boy” in real life threatened to catch up with him. He was arrested in 1948, for possession of marijuana, considered a dangerous drug at the time.  He spent 43 days on a prison farm.  Later it was overturned because it was revealed that he had been set up.  This could have ended his career, but it only seemed to add to his screen persona and popularity.  A lot of Hollywood wouldn’t work with him after that, but his co-star from Out of the Past, Jane Greer, still did in The Big Steal in’49.  He’d had a rough childhood and had hitched around the country before he’d drifted into acting.  Like the roles he often played, he didn’t fit in.  He was a colorful personality in a black and white era.

He went on to make several other film noirs and other well-respected movies, throughout the 50’s and 60’s, such as River of No Return with Marilyn Monroe and Night of the Hunter directed by Charles Laughton, in which he plays a creepy criminal posing as a preacher.  In the original Cape Fear in 1962, he’s the vengeful ex-con who stalks lawyer, Gregory Peck’s family (he would have a reverse role as the detective in the Martin Scorsese remake in 1991).  He appeared also in several classic war films, such as The Enemy Below (1956) and the epic, The Longest Day (’62).  Then almost against type he made softer-character films with British actress, Deborah Kerr, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (’57) and The Sundowners (’60) about Australia.  And he played a gentle schoolmaster in David Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter (1970).

Besides being an excellent actor, he also was an accomplished singer and songwriter and often sang himself in his films. He even had a top 10 country hit, “Ballad of Thunder Road”, which he co-wrote for his Southern moonshine film and now cult favorite of the same name in 1957.

But it was really his noir films for which he is most remembered. And in the 70’s, he made a remake of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely in England and followed up with a re-doing of the classic, The Big Sleep, even playing an older version  of the detective, and manages to pull it off.  He would go into the 80’s in a couple of popular TV miniseries, The Winds of War (’83) and War and Remembrance (’88).

He had a reputation on film sets of not taking any guff from anyone, from the directors on down. Supposedly, he threw a crew member into the ocean (after Mitchum had been drinking the night before on one of his early films). His attitude towards Hollywood and acting, was to not take it all too seriously.  One of his famous quotes was, “I only made two kinds of pictures, one with a horse and one without”. And that acting consisted of (quoting another great actor, Spencer Tracy, who didn’t take it too seriously either)“ know your lines and show up on time, that’s it”.  Of course, Mitchum took his craft for much more than that, but his attitude and skill made it seem almost effortless.  It often felt as if it wasn’t acting at all, but real people up on the screen, which is of course, the greatest compliment to an actor.  And That’s what he did and why he still stands up today.       Mitchum was one of a kind- film noir cool!

Lee Server wrote a biography of him in 2001 aptly titled, Baby, I Don’t Care.

See excerpt of Mitchum in classic film noir, Out of the Past:

See Robert Mitchum,The Legend, about his life: