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Sock It to Me, Motor Mouths

The Horror of Hitchcock Hackery and Verhoeven’s little Black Book

Greetings and salutations* from the Subterranean Beatnik Library writer J.T. Leroy infamously defiled while hopped up on goofballs at a 2001 New Year’s Eve Party in the catacombs beneath North Beach. No hepcat ever asks “where?” but if you happen to find the door and can’t get past the velvet rope … then shave that soup-strainer honey ’cause you look like a cop.



Kubrick Challenge Fallout
Entirely too many of you hairy-knuckled cinephiliacs took me up on last week’s figurative challenge to sock it to me* if you didn’t dig on my recommended works of Stanley Kubrick. Geez, Louise, Sailor baby,* who knew Ryan O’Neil in a powdered wig would turn so many people’s switches to off? The votes are in: Strangelove: ding! Lolita: da-ding! Lyndon: dung.

An 18th century epic drama, moving-oil-painting of a masterpiece may not be everyone’s cup of tea or in my assailants’ case, pint of ale, but to every Financial District Frat Boy who dared rent Barry Lyndon on “date night” then had the audacity to sock me in the kisser while I was nursing a Tosca toddy last Saturday night, I hope my teeth hurt your knuckles …

And to the Drag Racing Yahoos on Franklin Street
… who rented Bullitt over the weekend and now want a piece of MRF McQueen … give it a rest. If I run across one more Moto-Challenger not-so-cleverly parodying the second most famous car race in film history, I’m going to bust a gasket. The joke isn’t fresh or funny anymore—see? Even The Family Guy’s jumped that train.

Hitchcock Hackery 101
If my Ivy League education serves me well and believe me, it does, then it was T.S. Eliot who said, “April showers bring May flowers,” and Edna St. Vincent Millay who mused, “What do Mayflowers bring? Pilgrims.” Neither phrase is far off when applied to springtime in The Industry.

Since May’s on the way and the Studios are ramping up for the start of Summer Blockbuster season, you should know the average April moviegoer has an 88% chance of paying $11.50 to be wrapped for two hours in a celluloid blanket loaded with virulent smallpox.

April is Clearance Sale month where everything on the Hollywood shelf must go, so excuse me if I wretch while faithfully reporting on the glut of suspense horror flicks now playing at the Movieplex. Be warned, they’re mostly retreads penned by petulant purveyors of hackery.


courtesy of DreamWorks

This “old boot” will admit to digging one film from the current crop of screamers. Some marketing geniuses in L.A. decided to call it Disturbia, starring Shia LaBeouf, David Morse and Carrie-Ann Moss, I call it a shameless teeny-bopper remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window without Jimmy Stewart’s leg cast and Grace Kelly’s Marc Cross overnight case.

Cursed with the worst non-flop film moniker of the last 10 years, Disturbia’s “fairly” well acted enough to keep the suspense rolling, the tension rising and the gag-reflex in check. Of course, it’s so G.D. predictable you can’t love it but if you haven’t seen the original Rear Window, invite your squeeze and take Disturbia for a spin.

I’ll spend no time on the rest of this week’s big Studio Releases other than to say, run from the stench of Fracture (Tony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling) and avoid the 2,500 empty theaters showing Vacancy starring Luke Wilson, a moronic remake of Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho. Save your money for the Indy Circuit.


courtesy of Sony Pictures

Black Book
Which brings me to a film playing at the Embarcadero Cinema that’s worth a view: Paul Verhoeven’s thrilling WWII spy yarn, Black Book. If you don’t’ remember Verhoeven, he’s the sex machine director who brought us the SF schlock classic Basic Instinct. There must be something in the air, but Verhoeven also goes out of its way to rip off (excuse me, pay homage) to Hitchcock, stealing a trick from his playbook in a scene where the Mata-Hari lead goes platinum for the cause.

In Hollywood, don’t you know if it ain’t broke, they’ll never fix it? And so it is and so it was on this fair Tuesday in April. Until we meet again, this is Poppa H. signing off. Be bad and get into trouble, baby.*

“Happenings” Round Town
•    Tuesday (4/24), Wednesday (4/25) – Cremaster 3 (2002), Dir. Barney - Red Vic
•    Thursday (4/26 to 5/10) – 2007 SF International Film Festival – Castro Theater

Volume 3 Footnotes
•    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater to Winona Ryder.
•    “Sock it to me?” – Every groovy cast member from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In (1968).
•    “Geez Louise, Sailor Baby …" – Semi-nude Laura Dern to Nic Cage’s (Sailor) in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (1991).
•    “I’m not talking to you … I’ll call you.” – The Big Picture (1989) Martin Short (super-agent) purrs to a fellow Player lunching at The Ivy.