More obsessions and more DVDs -- I'm so behind that there's too many to mention. So since I've never discussed it at length, I'll ask you to check out the Fox noir titles Road House (a classic starring Ida Lupino, Richard Widmark and Cornel Wilde) on which I provide commentary with friend and colleague, "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller. I also contributed to featurettes on Road House and the bizarre but beautiful Moontide (starring Lupino, Jean Gabin and Claude Rains).
And added bonus -- Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly rated Road House as the number three best DVD release of 2008 (here's his review) stating: "Guaranteeing its place on this list is the info-packed, hard-boiled, sometimes raucous commentary track by film-noir experts Eddie Muller and Kim Morgan." Thank you EW.
For now, three obsessions.
1. Blonde Venus (1932)
At the same time of Jean Harlow’s popularity, Josef von Sternberg was crafting his own goddess in the very German form of leggy, sunken-cheek-boned and languid Marlene Dietrich. Sternberg made many iconic blonde movies for Marlene (The Blue Angel and The Scarlet Empress just to name a few) but Blonde Venus stands out as the ultimate in blonde ambition. Dietrich plays the full spectrum of the blonde. She's an ex-German café singer who marries a good-hearted Englishman. She's a happy hausfrau and adoring mother. Then, she's a cabaret star and harlot who dances in a gorilla suit and becomes really, really famous. You know, the whole blonde journey. The film features two iconic blonde numbers: There's Marlene in her famed white tux, tails and top hat and, Marlene in a gorilla suit. In one of film's most surreal moments, Marlene removes a gorilla head revealing her blonde-haloed face. To make herself even more eye-popping, she grabs a blonde Afro wig, places it on her head and sings "Hot Voodoo." Describing this moment requires two words you don't often see together: blonde genius
2. Jason Statham
I recently saw the trailer for Crank 2 and it left me…swooning. I mean, Jason Statham. I think one of my highlights of last year was meeting him and talking about my Torino. My heart went all auto-erotic when Statham (who drives a white 208 GT2 Porsche) rhapsodized over American muscle cars and so perfectly understood the awesomeness of a 1971 Torino with a 351 Cleveland. He leaned closer to me and asked with that distinctive Statham voice: “Where's your keys? You don't want to lend that to me on the weekend.” (Uh ... go ahead and take the keys, Mr. Statham, as long as I'm in the passenger seat.) Jesus.Yes the gruff voiced toughie has lived a life almost as interesting as some of the parts he’s played with a backstory that might be apocryphal but who cares if it is? In his teens, he joined the British National Diving Team, finishing 12th at the World Championships in 1992. But that was perhaps just a bit too square for the rough and tumble Brit who moved into the street world (allegedly, but again, who cares?) as a black market salesman. He then became a model which led him to audition for Guy Ritchie’s action quirk fest, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. From then on Statham was in demand appearing in, among other pictures, Ritchie’s popular Snatch, The One (with Jet Li), Mean Machine (with Vinnie Jones), the incredibly entertaining Transporter films that I love so, so much, the high-adrenaline Crank pictures and the impressive, highly underrated The Bank Job (which almost cracked my top ten) Though Death Race (Paul W.S. Anderson’s re-make of the cult film Death Race 2000) failed to impress, Statham still remains a curious cross between Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins and Bob Hoskins which means, I’m waiting to see him flex his acting range, something I’m sure he could do. But I’d be fine just seeing him drive around in a car for the rest of his career. Or you know, my car.
3. That Desert Carnival
I can’t stop thinking about my desert carnival experience in late November. As The Seekers and Nick Cave so eloquently sang, the carnival is over, but man do I miss it. There’s nothing like all of those rigged games, scary cracked up rides, cheap stuffed animals, bright colors, and that whooshing sound of so many contraptions beckoning you in a methamphetamine haze. Smack in the middle of nowhere-ville, Yucca Valley, made the adventure even more surreal. And I love the carnies. If there is ever a carnival in your area, go. Who cares if you're cheated from a game or don't trust the rides or can't stand pot smoking teenagers (and really, you should get over that, because we all smoked pot out of coke cans at one point in our lives). Anyway, keep this world in business, no matter how crooked it is.
And the above charming, fascinating older fella (and prince) with the greatest rings I'd ever seen became my fast friend after we talked for nearly an hour. His name (for real) is Andy Hardy, and not only had he met Mickey Rooney ("nice man") but he voted for Obama. An 80-year-old carny voted. See why Obama won?
See all my Desert Carnival pictures here.