Friday, April 10, 2009

Harper's Island

I caught the premiere episode of the new CBS mystery thriller Harper's Island earlier tonight, and I was hoping someone else on the blog had seen it, too. It's a surprisingly effective take on the old And Then There Were None plot device -- if Agatha Christie had been inclined to dabble in Italian giallo, that is.

A couple of dozen invited guests are boated out to an island resort off the coast of Washington state to attend a wedding. There are the usual soap opera touches -- the from-poverty groom "isn't good enough to marry" the rich bride, the groom's childhood friend must revisit the scene of a family tragedy, ex-boyfriends show up, yadda yadda yadda. It's all set-up for what CBS is really trying to sell: a creepy, violent, 13-week serial killer show.

Because it seems that the guests are going to die, one by one. (CBS even adds a crawl inviting people to log on and vote to predict next week's victim.) The premiere episode actually offered two shocking deaths for the price of one, bookending the show. The first one (Say, have you seen Cousin Ben?) is surprisingly gruesome for network TV, and you immediately find yourself wondering just how far CBS, the home of the geezer demographic, is willing to go.

Evidently pretty damn far, if the second death is any indication. It's shocking on two levels -- the way it is filmed, and the identity of the victim. The viewer is immediately reminded of the death of Janet Leigh in Psycho, and I was left with the feeling that all bets are off. I'll be back to see it next week, and if the storyline improves, I might just last until this thing wraps in July. Which is more than I can say for most of the cast, apparently.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Last Gasp (?) of the Senator

You know how people are supposed to go through all these stages of grief with the death process? Denial, anger, etc, etc. to a final acceptance? It's hard to say where the Senator Theater sits in this process, but if last night is any indication, denial is in full swing.

A couple of us -- Charlie Wittig, Dava Sentz, Gary Svehla, Gus Russo, and me -- went to the late showing of Horror of Dracula at the Senator last night, which no-longer-quite-the-owner Tom Kiefaber described as a donation from a private collector. There were many visible scratches in the print, but the color was bright and it was the Senator! This was only the second time I had ever seen a Hammer Dracula on the big screen, and if this turned out to be my final movie at this historic movie house, then Horror of Dracula certainly made just as fitting a send-off as The Godfather, which I saw last fall.

There were dozens and dozens of posters piled against the walls of the lobby, mostly selling for $20 a pop. There were also many promo t-shirts for sale -- Betts, you'll find some Star Wars shirts there -- but the hottest seller seemed to be piles and piles of the actual black aluminum marquee letters, which were going for $10 each. I was tempted to buy a couple of those, but wound up walking out with a very nice re-issue poster of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Kiefaber mentioned that there were a lot of "flea market folks" waiting at the door when the theater opened that afternoon, but what those folks didn't realize was that the best stuff wasn't coming out first, because they were putting out the most recent things, which would be on the top of the pile in their storage rooms. Kiefaber figures the oldest posters, etc. would be toward the bottom of the pile. Sure enough, when we exited the theater, the marquee letters had been re-stocked and there were fresh (well, fresher) t-shirts on the tables.

He also said they planned to show a few more movies in the next few weeks, with possibly another late feature. Senator fans (or just simply fans of movies) should take note.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum

I just found out about this and thought I'd share:

An explanation of the movie, taken from the website:

The script is adapted from elements of the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. The story follows the Heir of Isildur; the "greatest huntsman and traveller in Middle Earth" as he sets out to find the creature Gollum. The creature must be found to discover the truth about the Ring, and to protect the future Ringbearer.

It's independently funded and fan made, so they are not looking to make any money. They include this disclaimer-
The Hunt For Gollum is an unofficial non-profit film being made for private use, and is not intended for sales of any sort. No money is being made from this film, and no one was paid to make it. It is in no way sponsored or approved by Tolkien Enterprises, the Tolkien Estate, Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema or any affiliates. This work is produced solely for the personal, uncompensated enjoyment of ourselves and other Tolkien fans. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

That's called covering their asses. : )

It will be released online for free on May 3, 2009.

The thing is, the trailer actually looks good. They must have some sort of decent budget, because the orcs (in the little we see of them in the trailer) look really good. Fan-made stuff can, er, vary in quality, but this really looks like it falls on the high end of the scale. I have seen some fan shorts that make you wince, and some that make you go "YAH!!" this is one of the latter.

After watching the trailer, I am kinda looking forward to it now. It may be a good canidate for an after the meeting viewing.