Well, I’ve done a lot of “Before They Were Stars” features on George Clooney, but I can safely say that I’ve officially tracked down his very first appearance in front of a television camera. The Uncle Al Show was a very popular children’s television program which aired in Cincinnati for 35 years and in 1970, an 8-year old Clooney had the honour of appearing in one of Uncle Al’s skits during an episode. You can see him here as the first kid being loaded onto the boat.
Well, it’s officially been a week since the untimely death of the Ultimate Warrior, so I think it’s okay to start poking fun of some of the weirder stuff he’s done. In 1990, at the height of his stardom, the Warrior appeared on a television special about Phil Collins and was showing off his dance moves before he suddenly snapped and decided to beat the crap out of the helpless pop star. Yes, this really happened!
Award-winning VFX company Rushes creates these awesome little short demos depicting tiny people doing their tiny jobs in our very large world. These are so cool!
Screen Junkies has finally gotten around to lampooning The Wolf of Wall Street. F**K YEAH! As usual, they nail it, but they also point out that McConaughey turned up in Wolf just long enough to thump his chest at Dicaprio before making off with the Best Actor Oscar. Interesting.
I know this might sound like a hell of an acting stretch, but in his very first film, Billy Bob Thornton played… a redneck named Billy Bob! Thornton’s screen debut was a small role in a 1986 exploitation flick called Hunter’s Blood, a Deliverance knock-off about a group of city folks running into trouble with inbred psycho rednecks while on a hunting trip. Billy Bob is the guy in the red cap standing in the background of the scene inside this bar, but his big moment comes at 5:45 of this clip when he falls out of the back of a pickup truck during a high-speed chase.
The conductor of this train is less than impressed with this kid.
It’s getting to the point where I don’t even know what to think of X-Men: Days of Future Past anymore. I mean, this trailer looks terrific. Everything I want in an X-Men movie. But the rest of the film’s marketing campaign has been absolute crap, and while I love the idea of trying to fit every X-Men continuity into one gigantic, crazy movie, the logic here seems severely flawed in more ways than one. I mean, young Charles is up and walking again. What’s the deal? Is there any way that this will make sense? The one thing I know for sure: Peter Dinklage is going to be amazing. Anyway, your guess is as good as mine with this one.
X- Men: Days of Future Past comes out May 23, 2014.
In 2002, Jenna Fischer was a struggling actress, but wound up garnering a small role as “Bitchy French Girl” in a ten-minute short film called Les Superficiales. This black-and-white effort is intended as parody of French New Wave films from the 1960s and all the dialogue is even in subtitled French. You can first see Fischer at the 6:09 mark as the girl at the bar in the beret and white sweater, and her entire role consists of throwing out insults in French.
Lucio Fulci’s extraordinary and most personal film Don’t Torture a Duckling was released in 1972. It follows the Italian giallo style of filmmaking with a twist; instead of young women being pursued and murdered by a mysterious assailant (a la Dario Argento in Tenebre, Suspiria, etc), the murderer kills off the young boys in a small Italian village. Fulci brilliantly confronts cultural taboos, including paedophilia, and religion, specifically paganism and Catholicism. Fulci’s film feels deeply personal, from the rich cinematography to the small town sentimentalities.
When I watch this film, I feel like I’ve met these mischievous little boys insulting the town eccentric in life. It feels like you’re running among them and it’s startling when they start dying because it is almost as if a piece of you has died with them. The scene where Michele’s beautiful guest tries to seduce him initially seems fantastic, but when you reconsider the situation her proposition seem a bit alarming, considering the boy’s age and all. These scenes leave impressions in your mind. Fulci exposes us to these topical issues and also manipulates the narrative, changing perspectives and killing off false protagonists and major characters as the story progresses. As mentioned earlier, the film is also a harsh indictment of religion, condemning both the pagan actions of the town’s Gypsy witch as well as the Catholic Church’s influence. I felt that the pagan elements were a bit misogynistic and inaccurate, but their inclusion still makes for interesting plot twists. Regarding the story itself, the boys start dying after teasing and humiliating the local eccentric, and as the body count starts piling up, a local journalist and the aforementioned tenant Patrizia investigate. I wasn’t sure how to feel about Patrizia. I admired her independence and intelligence (and she’s gorgeous too), but her taboo interests bothered me, and I’m not sure if that’s more misogyny on Fulci’s part or what.
These conflicted feelings make her a bit problematic in terms of appreciating her as a central figure in the plot. The townspeople initially suspect the witch as the culprit of the serial murders, but there’s more to it than that. Ultimately, Don’t Torture a Duckling is compelling and one of Fulci’s best films. The story is very engaging and will catch you off guard, and the landscapes and vistas are beautiful to behold. Before this film, I had only watched his horror films Zombi 2 and The Beyond, which are both excellent horror additions, but now I’m curious to see what his non-horror contributions have to offer. Time will tell.