7/20/59: It was 50 years ago today…

July 20th, 2009, 3:45 pm by Greg

Ed Wood’s classic film “Plan 9 From Outer Space” had its theatrical premiere.

“Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

You are interested in the unknown. The mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here.

And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents. The places.

My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent.

My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?”


DVD: “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man”

July 16th, 2009, 3:08 pm by Greg

scottWalker(Oscilloscope Pictures, 2009)

Scott Walker. Genius or pretentious? Discuss…

Directed by Stephen Kijak, this feature-length career-retrospective documentary tries to simultaneously mythologize the singer-songwriter and also to peel back the veil of mystery that’s surrounded him since his days as the most brooding pop star of England’s Swinging ’60s.

His big booming baritone croon made Scott Walker a bonafide ’60s superstar in Britain as the lead vocalist of the Walker Brothers. It was a decidedly ironic situation as the band was, in fact, American; no one in the band was named Walker; and none of them were brothers, either.

Walker Brothers’ classics like “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” only hinted at the melancholy grandeur that he would conjure up with his early art-house solo stuff – including a penchant for the dark cabaret sounds of Jacques Brel.

And those early solo albums were only signposts along the way to the thoroughly avant garde sonic experiments that the reclusive, enigmatic singer-composer conjured up on recent albums like “Tilt” and “The Drift.”

This film certainly puts Walker on a pedestal, but for the first time, fans get to hear Walker explaining much of the music and motives in his own voice. And it’s a truly fascinating tale.

There are plenty of vintage teen pop-star TV clips of the Walker Brothers, but there is also some marvelously mystifying footage of Walker in the recording studio, trying to capture elusive, ephemeral sounds for “The Drift.”

David Bowie served as executive producer of the film, and also appears on camera to discuss the importance and influence of Walker’s music. So, too, do a whole raft-load of musicians, including Brian Eno, Richard Hawley, the members of Radiohead, Johnny Marr, Marc Almond, Damon Albarn, Lulu, Sting, Ute Lemper, Alison Goldfrappe and others.

Die-hard Scott Walker fans (and there are no other kind), as well as those who’ve only heard about him, are both gonna want to see this film. Then you can decide for yourself where you want to place Scott Walker in your own personal rock pantheon.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

“Lonely Are the Brave”

July 7th, 2009, 3:00 pm by Greg

We here at Nippertown.com are rejoicing today.

Yes, finally – finally – one of our all-time favorite films is being released on DVD, and we won’t have to settle for watching our badly beat-up 1985 VHS copy.

“Lonely Are the Brave” is a classic modern-day existential western (or at least it was modern day when it hit movie theaters back in 1962). Starring Kirk Douglas in what he has declared to be the favorite film of his career, the David Miller-directed movie was shot in black and white, heightening the air of quiet desperation in the screenplay by the great Dalton Trumbo.

There’s a great cast, too. In addition to Douglas, the film features Gena Rowlands, George Kennedy, Walter Matthau, Carroll O’Connor, William Schallert and even Bill Bixby in a bit part.

It’s unbelievable that this movie hasn’t been available on DVD before this, but at least it is now, so I’ll stop bitching and moaning about it. Now if only somebody would release a few more of our favorite films on DVD before the format becomes completely extinct.

Like how about “Brewster McCloud”? Please?


Lonely are the Brave

The review to end all reviews

June 26th, 2009, 1:49 pm by Sara

If your weekend plans involve taking in the new Transformers movie, or especially if they don’t, Charlie Jane Anders has written a hilarious piece of cinema criticism about Revenge of the Fallen.

Critical consensus on Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is overwhelmingly negative. But the critics are wrong. Michael Bay used a squillion dollars and a hundred supercomputers’ worth of CG for a brilliant art movie about the illusory nature of plot.

Oh, and I would warn you that there’ll be spoilers in this review — except that, really, since I still have no idea what actually happened in this movie, I’m not sure how much I can spoil it.

SNEAK PREVIEW: “Taking Woodstock,” 8/8

June 23rd, 2009, 2:35 pm by Greg

Yes, you can be among the very first to see “Taking Woodstock,” the new movie from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee.

Far out…

Not only that, but you can see “Taking Woodstock” in Woodstock at a very special screening sponsored by the Woodstock Film Festival.


Lee and the film’s screenwriter/producer James Schamus are coming to the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock at 3pm on Saturday, August 8 to offer a special one-time-only sneak-peek screening of their upcoming film.

Following the screening of the film – much of which was shot in and around the Capital Region last year – there will be a Q&A session at the theater with Lee, Schamus and Michael Lang, the key promoter of the August 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival (and a central character in the movie).

A special reception will then follow.


“Showing ‘Taking Woodstock’ in the community that bears its name and spirit, and having both Ang Lee and James Schamus here, will be an event to remember, especially in this, our 10th Anniversary year,” said Meira Blaustein, co-founder and executive director of the Woodstock Film Festival.

“I’ve always enjoyed returning to Woodstock for the Film Festival,” added Schamus, “so it will be a joy and a privilege for Ang and I to present our new movie as a summer surprise.”

Based on the memoirs of Elliot Tiber, the comedy stars Demetri Martin as Elliot, who inadvertently played a role in making 1969’s Woodstock Music and Arts Festival into the happening that thrust the counter-cultural into the mainstream spotlight. Of course, the film features plenty of music by folks like the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe and the Fish – plus a new recording of “Freedom” from Richie Havens.

The film – which is slated to open nationwide on Friday, August 14 – also features a strong ensemble cast, including Dan Fogler, Henry Goodman, Jonathan Groff (as Michael Lang), Eugene Levy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Imelda Staunton, with Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber.

Tickets to the August 8 screening of “Taking Woodstock” are $20. Tickets to the screening and the reception are $50.

And the Maverick goes to…

June 2nd, 2009, 2:14 pm by Greg

The Woodstock Film Festival will bestow its highest honor – the Honorary Maverick Award – upon director Richard Linklater during the 10th annual festival in October.

The director of “Slacker” and “Dazed and Confused” as well as “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly” will receive the award during the festival’s Gala Awards Ceremony on Saturday, October 3 at BackStage Productions in Kingston.

Presenting the award will be actor Ethan Hawke, who has appeared in such Linklater films as “Before Sunrise,” “The Newton Boys,” “Tape” and “Before Sunset.”

In addition, the festival will screen Linklater’s new film, “Me and Orson Welles.”

Previous recipients of the WWF Honorary Maverick Award include Kevin Smith, Christine Vachon, Barbara Kopple, Tim Robbins, Les Blank, D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, Woody Harrelson, Mira Nair and Steve Buscemi.

Cult Classics: “Phantom of the Paradise”

May 27th, 2009, 6:14 pm by Greg

Somewhere in between Goethe and Randy Newman, director/screenwriter Brian De Palma teamed up with songwriter/actor Paul Williams to concoct this 1974 cacophonous cinematic deconstruction of “Faust”-meets-“Phantom of the Opera.”

As the devilish Swan (portrayed by Williams) explains to a gaggle of reporters at a press conference, “It’s an opera, a kind of pop cantata. It tells the story of a young man who sells his soul to the devil to become a pop star. It will be the first rock version of ‘Faust.'”

And yes, apparently the film is supposed to be a contemporary (for ’74) rock & roll rendition, but with music penned by Williams – the composer of “Theme From the Love Boat,” the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” and the recent stage musical “Happy Days: The Musical” – the rockin’ never really gets started.

The tag line on the DVD cover proclaims the film to be “the most highly acclaimed horror phantasy of our time,” but I have no idea whose time they’re actually talking about. So ridiculously over the top, the film seems to make a run for the midnight movie circuit, and at times it’s clearly a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” wanna-be.

Chockful of delightfully awful scenery-chewing acting and incredibly over-cooked dialogue (“The karma is so bad around here you need an Aqualung to breathe,” for example), it’s no surprise that the film was panned by reviewers.

The best thing about this movie? The voice-over narration at the beginning of the film – by an uncredited Rod Serling.

So what is it?
A horror musical comedy?
Keenly observed satire?
A total trainwreck?

Well, maybe it’s all of those things. But one thing is for sure – it’s a hoot and a half.

DVDiary: What we’ve been watching

May 27th, 2009, 4:03 pm by Greg

Phantom of the Paradise – Whoa! Ouch! More on this one later…

Andrei Rublev – Such a beautiful film – B&W has rarely looked more gorgeous


The Outlaw Josey Wales – “We got somethin’ in this territory called the Missouri boatride…”

The Clearing – That Helen Mirren sure is goooood

Melinda and Melinda – Tragedy? Comedy? Who cares?

Be Kind Rewind – A sweet, sweet movie – better than most of the reviews would lead you to believe

Bringing Up Baby – Truly one of the greatest comedies of all time

Caffe LenaHolly & EvanThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantCartoonist John CaldwellJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysAdvertise on Nippertown!Mohawk Hudson Humane SocietyArtist Charles Haymes