Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jean Harlow Centennial Celebration at AFI Silver in Silver Spring

The 100th anniversary of Jean Harlow's birth is March 3, 2011.

To celebrate, the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland is having a Jean Harlow Centennial Celebration.

Sadly, according to the website, that celebration so far only consists of two Jean Harlow films: 1931's Platinum Blonde and 1936's Libeled Lady.

Frankly, Platinum Blonde (1931) is a disappointment. I realize that Jean was labeled the "The Platinum Blonde", but the film is not a masterpiece.

It is a Frank Capra flick but it's before his obvious string of hits.

And the Jean Harlow in the film is not the same Jean Harlow that you can see in other stuff like 1933's Bombshell, which I viewed at the AFI back in December.

I remember that when I finally saw Platinum Blonde (1931) on cable in the early 1990s I was almost bored with Jean despite her obvious sex appeal in the flick.

On the other hand, Libeled Lady (1936) is a lively comedy with a great cast.

Just seeing Spencer Tracy, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow together on the big screen should be a treat for this fan.

Friday, January 28, 2011

More Pictures And Video From The Sampan Ride in Hong Kong

(This is my 700th post! I deleted a few early ones last year -- and there are a few more worth deleting back there in the 2007 archives -- but whatever; it's my 700th and it's HK-related so I'm happy!)

Back in December when I originally posted about my ride on the sampan in Hong Kong, I didn't load all the pictures for fear of boring my 5 regular readers.

Now, as I sit in America and miss Hong Kong (and search for a job there), I've decided to upload the lot of the photos, good and bad.

I'm not the photographer sbk is so don't compare these with her work over at Pictures, Thoughts and Comments.

I sort of like the blurry ones due to the sun glare.

As for the lopsided ones: those are on purpose. The boat wasn't tipping over. It was just me trying to switch it up a bit.

I rode the bus that morning with a goal of getting to Aberdeen. I made it and was just watching the boats near the dock when this older lady approached me and tugged on my sleeve. I don't speak Cantonese so I just shook my head "No," to her. I didn't know what she was after.

Shortly, she came back again, but this time with a notecard printed in English which more or less said:

"Hi, my husband and I run a sampan. For x dollars, we will ride you around the harbour..." and so on.

So I paid my fee and rode the boat. I think it was $60HKD which is about $7.75 USD.

They had that big orange cat which was like a watchdog. I was just fascinated by that cat leaning over the porch and meowing at me in the way that a dog in a yard barks at someone walking by.

I wish they had taken me further out into the harbour but that's probably a dangerous prospect for a small boat like this sampan.

I never made it back to that Jumbo Floating Restaurant. There's always next time.

Sanatorium near Jockey Club...


Hong Kong Sampan 1

Hong Kong Sampan 2

Hong Kong Sampan 3

Hong Kong Sampan 4

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jenny Hu Screencaps From Young Lovers (1970)

I think my earlier review of Young Lovers (1970) with Jenny Hu was a bit harsh; the film does have a few nice moments early on -- the first half is pretty funny -- but the whole production is not nearly as good as any of the other Shaw Brothers films from director Umetsugu Inoue.

I originally watched the flick on VCD but I got the DVD in Hong Kong on my last trip for a great price so here are some screencaps, mainly of charmer Jenny Hu.

You can buy Young Lovers on DVD here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beady Eye - The Roller

I know it's derivative. I know that it sounds A LOT like a John Lennon solo outtake from the 1970s. I know. I know. I know.

But it's also better than most of the tracks on the last 3 Oasis albums.

It's "The Roller" from Liam Gallagher's new band, Beady Eye.

I think it's pretty clear that this Oasis fan's loyalties lie with Liam and his crew (including Gem Archer from Heavy Stereo and Oasis, as well as Andy Bell from Ride, Hurricane #1, and Oasis) more than with Noel.

Check out the official Beady Eye website.

The debut album will be out 1 March 2011 in the US on Dangerbird Records.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Superman: The Movie (1978) vs. Star Wars (1977)

As I've written before, Star Wars (1977) was not initially an obsession with me as a 10-year-old.

It's not that I didn't enjoy it but just that it took a few months before I jumped on the bandwagon wholeheartedly.

And even when I did, I didn't really have an emotional reaction to any parts of the first Star Wars film.

The death of Obi-Wan Kenobi is surely powerful. As are the final moments of the run on the Death Star with the music surging and then dropping out as Kenobi's voice echoes in Luke's cockpit.

But neither of those sequences provided quite the punch that the first rescue scene in Superman: The Movie (1978) did.

In those days, I would sit by myself in the theater. I wasn't trying to avoid my parents as an 11-year-old as much as I was trying to enjoy the experience alone without any distractions.

And I remember being powerfully moved by the first real appearance of Superman as he races up to rescue Lois Lane and the helicopter crew.

There's humor from the street pimp, and Clark's sideways glance at the 1970s phone booth, and high drama as Lois falls to her certain death only to have the Man of Steel save her.

The sequence is so perfectly done that I don't think I'm the only one that cried tears of joy during that scene.

And my tears of happiness as a fat 11-year-old sitting in that theater in Louisiana were the result of me finally seeing a comic book film on the big screen.

While Superman was from DC Comics and not my beloved Marvel, the thrill was still real, as was the relief that a comic book character could be rendered so perfectly on the big screen without compromising much.

And as a pretty astute 11-year-old sci-fi nerd, I was well aware of Marlon Brando's astronomical -- for the era -- pay for his short appearance in the film.

But, hey, guess what? He was worth it.

I don't think that's a radical concept anymore but, in 1978, I can recall that Brando's salary was the subject of a Carson joke or two, with the implication being that no actor was worth that much.

Say what you will about the guy, but who else but Brando could have brought the necessary gravitas to this role?

Now when I watch Superman: The Movie (1978), the helicopter rescue is not the only emotional moment for me. Most of the Jor-El scenes move me as well.

The dialogue -- heavy with the Christ symbolism -- is well written, the score magnificent, and the special effects a bit more visionary than Star Wars (1977) in some ways.

Lucas succeeded in piecing together various things to make his own unique vision.

But any film fan can see the seams; we can go back and connect the dots to the other films he was ripping off.

For all of the uniqueness of the packaging of those elements, Star Wars (1977) felt familiar.

Superman: The Movie (1978) felt new because technology had finally made it possible to make a good Superman product.

With Superman: The Movie (1978), and the Krypton scenes in the film, there's a real attempt to do something different. The sets are meant to look at once ancient and futuristic and the Fortress of Solitude sequence still looks good, despite that wig on Jeff East as the young Clark Kent!

"Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed...

They can be a great people, Kal-El, if they wish to be.

They only lack the light to show the way."