Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Hi, everybody! I’ve been dormant in the old blogosphere (as far as new material on this one, anyway) for nearly a week now, but it’s time to get the old furnace fired up again. Lots to write about, most importantly part three of the Professor Brainerd answers, which will lead IMMEDIATELY into a brand-new quiz to hopefully appease the veterans and snare a whole bunch of new students who have never participated in SLIFR U’s testing programs. And there are several items on deck, new and old, that I’d like to get on-line before too much more dust is allowed to gather on them. I’m imagining that this week will be a very productive and entertaining one at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

I didn't get to see Slither over the weekend, and I desperately want to see it before it disappears. But I did make it to the Van Buren Drive-in in Riverside Saturday night with the Southern California Drive-in Movie Society, where I took in a late-night double feature of Spike Lee's terrific, surprisingly muted Inside Man and Dave Chappelle's Block Party, which turned out to be the best movie I've seen so far this year. Speaking as someone not at all in love with hip-hop, the music or the cultural phenomenon, I was completely disarmed by Chappelle's ease and genial mania as host of the movie and of the block party itself, as well as the movie's egalitarian spirit and the multitude of electrifying musical performances that anchor and solidify that spirit. Backed by rock-blues band nonpareil the Roots, the stage pulsates with high-voltage life brought by Mos Def (who proves himself, if you didn't already know from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a snappy comedian here as well), Kanye West, rappers Dead Prez, a reunion of the Fugees, and most startlingly, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. And Chappelle himself is casually hilarious within director Michel Gondry's equally casual, yet kinetically exciting and vibrant documentary style; Gondry lets the performers shine without extraneous editing trickery or other ostentatious directorial moves, taking it all in with the kind of enthusiasm that translates very well to a viewing audience. Chappelle, recruiting unlikely audience members for his block party from the populace (white as well as black) of his hometown in Ohio, at one point stumbles upon a college marching band, and their genuine joy at being invited to come to New York and participate in the show had me in tears. I had my FM-stereo sound cranked pretty loud at the drive-in Saturday night too; I felt like the movie showed me elements of a musical style that I was in no position or frame of mind to appreciate before. Now I'll be scouring the papers, praying for an Erykah Badu concert, with special guests Dead Prez and the Roots. I can't imagine another movie in 2006 making me feel as good as Dave Chappelle's Block Party did, but if such a beast does come bouncing down the trail, won't I be the lucky one?

Don’t forget, the Angie Dickinson Blog-a-Thon is but a mere two weeks and two days away. And the ideas for new blog-a-thons just keep rolling in. The latest comes from Brian Darr, who will be announcing very soon the date for his proposed Friz Freleng Blog-a-Thon, an idea that has been generating lots of excitement amongst the regular participants in the Blog-a-Thon network. Keep an eye on Brian’s blog Hell on Frisco Bay for more details as they become available.

And Tim Lucas, of Video Watchdog magazine, “the perfectionist’s guide to fantastic video,” is celebrating the 80th birthday of Roger Corman all this week on his own blog, Tim Lucas’ Video WatchBlog. Tim is making an admittedly short-notice call for entries in a Roger Corman Blog-a-Thon to be posted on the actual date of Corman’s 80th birthday, which is this coming Wednesday, April 5.

In Tim’s words, “I realize this is short notice... but I'd like to see a Roger Corman "Blog-A-Thon" this Wednesday. That gives you about as much time as Roger had to make The Little Shop of Horrors. It doesn't have to be ambitious, just post a rough-and-ready blog in the true Corman spirit. It's the least we can all do for a man who has given us 50 years of entertainment; the man who infused exploitation with social commentary; the man who kept Vincent Price and Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre working when no one else would; the man who discovered everybody from Jack Nicholson to James Cameron to Jennifer Love Hewitt; the man who made Dick Miller a star; the man who sent Angie Dickinson the script for Big Bad Mama; the man, when all is said and done, who changed the face of Hollywood… Fellow bloggers, there's the gauntlet. Consider it thrown down. I've got my eye on all of you. Don't make me pluck it out.”

So, in the interest of keeping my my eyesight working properly, such as it is, I’m doing my part to help Tim spread the word on his “rough-and-ready” Blog-a-Thon idea. As always, if you have a blog and would like to particpate, send Tim an e-mail at Tim@videowatchdog.com and let him know what you’re up to. And also, as always, if you have an itch to put down a few words but have no blogspace to call your own, feel free to send your submissions to me at powser2@earthlink.net and I will post it, along with my own modest entry, on Wednesday. The Corman Blog-a-Thon might, in some ways, brush up a little too closely with the Angie Blog-a-Thon for some, but personally I see no conflict of interest—I’ve got a idea that steers way clear of the Angie-Roger connection. (And TLRHB, this might be a good place to go after that drive-in aesthetic idea!)

Roger Corman on Wednesday, and a whole passel of other new goodies coming your way this week on SLIFR-- I went to CostCo this weekend and stocked up on Monster Khaos Energy Drink, so I’m good to go. I hope you are too!


Aaron W. Graham said...

Glad to hear you're energized and ready to roll, Dennis. I'm contributing to the Corman Blog-a-Thon with an entry on a film that i've put as my number one of all time for some time now: ROCK ALL NIGHT. Reasons why are forthcoming...

... and I can't wait to hear more about this "drive-in aesthetic"!

The 'Stache said...

OK, Dennis, I posted up a definition of the Corman drive-in aesthetic in 10 easy steps. Ask for a quickie blog and you get a quickie blog (don't say you weren't warned...)

The 'Stache said...

Dennis, or anybody else: Does Corman have any kind of bad rep as many producers do? The one thing that always strikes me in interviews is that he seems to be fairly cheerful. It's as though he's happy if the movie makes money, but is OK if it doesn't; he's happy if the movie has some artistic street cred, and rolls with it if it doesn't. I asked this over at my site, but I'll ask it here, too: Is Corman the first Zen-like Buddhist producer? Or am I woefully ignorant on his back story?

Dennis Cozzalio said...

TLRHB: Machine Gun might have better insight on this than I do, especially regarding specific instances of behavior (it's been a while since I read Ed Naha's book The Films of Roger Corman: Brilliance on a Budget). But I think the line on him is that even though his reputation as a penny-pincher either outweighs or is at least equal to his reputation as a director and a cultivator of talent, he has managed to engender a lot of good feeling from those who have worked with him repeatedly and/or survived his system of filmmaking. There are plenty of accounts, in the Naha book as well as others, of his methods driving many a filmmaker and on-set person to temporary madness-- Joe Dante has lots of stories related in interviews and on the commentaries for some of his films to this end. But none of these people seem to speak anything but highly and/or respectfully of the man-- his rapport with Angie Dickinson on the commentary for Big Bad Mama was charming. I doubt, however, that he's as zen as you suspect regarding whether a movie makes money or not-- I can't imagine anyone as budget-conscious as Cormnan having such an attitude. But he probably knows better than almost anyone the reality that Hollywood, as a system can't seem to understand (except when it comes to low-budget, big-grossing horror films like Saw and Saw II)-- if you spend less, you run lower risk in terms of financial disaster, and the potential for huge windfall if you hit it big is just that much greater.

The 'Stache said...

Thanks! I also got that movie you were linking me to. Interesting. By the way, I decided to scrap my original Corman post and have gone with a new one as my Corman contribution. Check it out when you can. I think it captures the "drive-in aesthetic" in less words and more, well, Angie.

Mr. Middlebrow said...


I've been catching up with the first two seasons of Chappelle's Show and, as such, I'm keen to check out DC's Block Party. He's not only a brilliant comedian and satirist (of, dare I say it, Pythonian proportions), but someone with an extraordinary eye and ear for talent--comedic, musical and otherwise. And he does have an easy, affable charm that seems to be getting more and more rare among entertainers--black or white.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Friz Freleng B-A-T. Even though I am an avowed Chuck Jones disciple, Friz runs a very close second in my personal pantheon of great WB animators.

Also, it's official: My jonesing for the next installment of the Prof. Brainerd quiz roundup makes a herion addiction seem like a vague craving for something salty. Just thought you should know. ;^)