Apparently it wasn’t just the Cold War that made John F. Kennedy so anxious to reach the moon. He apparently wanted some big, ugly toy robots even more than he wanted sex with Marilyn Monroe.
Boy, I’m already so not a fan of this franchise and then they go and mess with both Apollo 11 and my man Walter Cronkite, whose too seriously dead to complain that they used him to advertise a (most likely) crappy science fiction film from Michael Bay. Of course it’s in 3D.
Oh, and the first person to post a Pink Floyd joke in comments gets an extremely special No Prize. (Note: I don’t like Pink Floyd very much either. I just felt like mentioning that.)
As at least a large chunk of America mourns the passing of Ted Kennedy, today is a day when we honor William Faulkner’s phrase: “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”
* Did you know that the late Walter Cronkite stumbled into a den of Colombian narco-terrorists? The result was that a few years later the most trusted man in America gave testimony before a Florida jury. No surprise, a major conviction resulted. Now, as Michael Fleming tells it, international thrillmeister Luc Besson wants to turn Uncle Walter into a movie action hero, or something close. Interesting.
* Great news for those of us who are involved with cinema’s past here in Southern California. The endangered film program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been given a $150,000 reprieve.
* Something tells me that maybe Vin Diesel is taking that Faulkner quote a bit too seriously. Does anyone want XXX III?
* Martin Anderson of Den of Geek wonders about the future of Blu-Ray in general and a newer superduper 3-D compatible version being tied to “Avatar.” He’s right about the still-problematic nature of at least some of the glasses and the fact that we quickly forget we’re even watching 3-D after the first few minutes, so there’s a point of diminishing returns for the viewer which might prevent folks from making the large initial investment in the technology. For me, I love 3-D as a novelty for certain kinds of movies, but I really don’t think we need it to become standard. Having 3-D available to me at home would almost defeat the purpose and ruin the fun.
* More deaths: Writer turned film producer turned diarist Dominick Dunne (h/t David Hudson) and widescreen/large format pioneer, Panavision cofounder, cinematographer, and director Richard Moore.
A little cynicism for a Sunday night in line with Will Harris’s ongoing coverage of the TCA confab and pow-wow. Written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, “Network” is one of the movies that really started me thinking seriously about movies and other media when I first saw as a person who was maybe a little young to be seeing it. I may show you one of the better known scenes from this now-classic film a bit later (“I’m mad as hell…”…”You are meddling with the primal forces of nature”…, etc.), but right now I’m going with this equally crucial scene because it gets to the heart of the real-life media trend Chayefsky was attacking.
As the MPAA likes to say, this scene includes “language,” so it’s NSFW for anywhere F-munitions are unappreciated. On the other hand, if you work at a television network, it probably won’t be noticed.
Walter Cronkite, the last bastion of TV journalists who actually had the respect of print journalists (and you can bet that there were never that many of those to begin with), has died at the age of 92. What can you really say about “Uncle Walter” that hasn’t already been said? The man was a legend in his field, a man who was declared “the most trusted man in America” by more than one opinion poll, and he offered a presence at “The CBS Evening News” that no one has ever been able to match.
Cronkite was an easy target for impressionists, with his straightforward delivery and his standard tag line, “And that’s the way it is,” but he possessed a sense of humor, making an appearance on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” which ranks right up there with the funeral of Chuckles the Clown as one of the most memorable episodes in that show’s history. I actually thought about him very recently, when the animated film “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story,” was reissued on DVD, as he provided the voice of Captain Neweyes, a scientist from the future. Come to think of it, another of his voiceover roles – that of Benjamin Franklin on “Liberty’s Kids” – turned up on DVD recently as well.
But, of course, it’s none of these things that will prove to be Cronkite’s legacy. It’s his work as a newsman. So let us remember two of his greatest moments as we bid him farewell…
Saddled with a predilection, if not quite an outright addiction, to too much booze and excessive gambling, Toots Shor somehow avoided being just another Jewish tough guy/borderline crook and instead became one of the most legendary restaurateurs in the history of New York City. His food wasn’t gourmet fair, but that wasn’t really expected in mid-century Manhattan. The key to his success was his way with people, lubricated with plenty of whiskey, and that made his restaurant-saloon into a kind of Valhalla populated by legends of three worlds: sports, entertainment, and crime.
Directed by Schor’s filmmaker granddaughter, Kristi Jacobson, this affectionate but honest documentary portrait from 2006 is constructed largely from reminisces by authors Nicholas Pileggi (“Casino“), Pete Hamill, and Gay Talese; sports personalities Frank Gifford, Yogi Berra, and Joe Garagiola; uber-anchor Walter Cronkite, and many others. More comedy than tragedy, it’s the story of a man whose irresponsibility when it came to practically everything, especially money, was only matched by his sentimental attachment to both friends and family. A full-on gonif who once made his living as professional muscle, but apparently never crossed the line into Murder, Inc. territory, Toots was not a particularly “good” person by any normal definition — except often to the people he loved, and there were apparently quite a lot of them. It’s hard not to like a guy like that.