This Week You Will Scream at the Secret Word:
Yell the names scb0212, Miller, Bablugats and Ruck Cohlchez as thanks for contributing this week. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
In the wake of Paul Reubens’s death, Bruce Handy looks back at the influence of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse on a certain new blockbuster and the actor’s career over the decades:
A young Laurence Fishburne, by the way, played Cowboy Curtis. Credit must be paid to Reubens’s eye for talent, and to the quality and diversity of his collaborators; Phil Hartman, a fellow-Groundling, co-wrote “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and played Captain Carl in the first season of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” S. Epatha Merkerson was Reba the Mail Lady. A seven-year-old Natasha Lyonne appeared in the first season as a member of the Playhouse Gang, a trio of kids who turned up in several episodes. The artist and underground cartoonist Gary Panter was one of the original production designers (the angry, cock-jawed marionette Randy, a cross between Howdy Doody and a Dead End Kid, is clearly Panter’s creation), and the series showcased the work of many other artists, animators, and designers. The show was expensive to produce, by Saturday-morning standards, and it looked it. In an era when most commercial television was carelessly made junk—if you think you have lingering nostalgic affection for “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” give it another watch—“Pee-wee’s Playhouse” respected its audience.
I looked at Baby Billy as a person who had just never had the opportunity to reach his full potential, and therefore he’s deeply insecure about his place in the world. So he has a lot of bravado. I didn’t really think about him as a preacher, I didn’t think about him as anything other than a man who is supremely flawed. And, I just kind of came at it from that angle. And once you turn yourself over to an imaginary set of circumstances, and you put on a wig and makeup that makes you look 72 years old, it’s pretty easy to kind of slip into him. But that’s how I approach everything, really—from the inside out. Walk a mile in their shoes, that’s what I do for the people that I play. Even riding on the subway in New York or walking down the street in Los Angeles, or even here in Italy. I just spent a lot of time looking at people and thinking about their lives, and their joys, and what makes them happy, or what makes them sad. And just projecting onto them l what their day is like, I do that all the time.
Mark Hanson reviews Terry Chiu’s “three-hour lo-fi action-fantasia” Open Doom Crescendo for Screen Slate:
In between recurrent fight sequences, the characters spend ample time contemplating the mysteries of existence as if they’re in a bizarro Jacques Rivette film … perhaps the most thrilling moments of Open Doom Crescendo are those when Chiu vigorously breaks the fourth wall and exposes the behind-the-scenes workings of his gargantuan creation. It’s where Chiu’s guiding philosophy fully crystallizes—that of community art-making as an act of defiance against life’s boundless uncertainty.
For The Reveal, Scott Tobias talks to director Carl Franklin about his career reinvention, working for Roger Corman, and finally scoring a hit with crime drama One False Move:
[Franklin:] All told, I think we had 30 days, 33 days or something like that to shoot. So we didn’t have many days, but I felt extravagant, quite frankly, because I’ve been shooting for Roger, and the last movie I had shot had been a submarine movie where we had $200,000 below the line to make the movie, and allegedly the producer stole $80,000 of it, and so we had $120,000 to make a submarine film with four different nationalities—Cubans, Russians, Panamanians, and Americans—all of whom had to have different kinds of military uniforms, and on a submarine.
[TR:] You just have to try to not make it seem like an Ed Wood production at that point.
Franklin: Well, it was borderline Ed Wood. Some of the submarine was built on stage, and it was like a Saturday morning kind of a set. We shot some on a real submarine. We shot two days in a submarine tied to a dock, and then we took one out that I think belonged to the military or something, and we shot exteriors of that. Yeah, man, it was wild. The dollar went a long way in Peru. [Laughs.]
At the dating app Feeld, Sophie Kemp describes her connection to The The’s “This Is The Day”:
When I first moved to New York, I was jonesing for love. Also, I had kind of revirginized because I was very busy eating beans in the nude alone. I decided that the next time I had a crush on someone that felt like it could become true love, I would be like “Hey, have you heard of this song ‘This is the Day,’ by The The?” A little thing about me is I am an incredibly calculated person, so when I decided I would do this I knew it would happen. I would play them this song that made it feel like someone was putting my heart in a meat grinder, thereby turning this most important muscle into a beautiful link of pulmonary chorizo. …In my head, when I hear this song, it is always summer and you are in maybe like an Eric Rohmer movie in a little dress featuring a dagger collar, dancing outside under some fairy lights on the coast of the lake they call Annecy.
And finally The Guardian‘s Manuela Lazic pontificates on the divide between influencers and film critics:
While it is customary for film studios to try to control the narrative by organising advance screenings if they believe in a film or avoiding them if they don’t, the methods employed for the release of Barbie were more extreme. They are symptomatic of a trend that has been evolving over the past few years and that concerns not only the film criticism profession, but culture at large. If all discussion of a film’s merits before release is left to influencers, whose driving ambition is to receive free merchandise by speaking well of the studio’s products, what can we expect the film landscape to look like? Where will engaging, challenging and, if not completely unbiased then at least impartial conversation about cinema take place, and how is the audience to think critically of what is being sold to it?