Monday, February 27, 2023
Friday, February 24, 2023
M3GAN is not your standard modern horror movie. In fact, in some ways it’s closer to the original Boris Karloff FRANKENSTEIN in that a scientist creates a form of life never before seen and then attempts to destroy it when it becomes uncontrollable. Dressed up in modern-day trappings, that’s exactly the plot of M3GAN. Similarly, there’s an unspoken warning about playing with forces humans perhaps shouldn’t be playing with.
Playing, in fact, is the essential concept behind M3GAN. The title character is a life-sized, lifelike little girl doll powered by artificial intelligence. She’s created by toy company scientist, Gemma. When Gemma’s niece, Cady, comes to live with her after her parents were killed in a traumatic car accident where she was the only survivor, M3GAN is used to pacify Cady. The two are bonded together by the doll’s programming, with Cady now being her “person.” With a capacity to learn and add to her own programming as she goes along, M3GAN acts as a friend, a counselor, a teacher, and a protector to Cady. At first Gemma is thrilled, and her company begins to prepare to market the $10,000 toys to an eager world. But then things start happening.
An obnoxious boy at a school camp steals M3GAN and is found killed by a car after falling down a hill. An accident, plain and simple…but when another body turns up, Gemma slowly becomes suspicious. When M3GAN begins to show more and more autonomy and Cady more and more dependence on her, Gemma slowly becomes concerned, then scared.
The movie works as a straight suspense narrative, with top-notch performances all around, particularly from Allison Williams (daughter of TV anchorman Brian Williams) as Gemma and young Violet McGraw as Cady. There’s a surprising emotional layer to the film, also, though, that might even bring some viewers to tears. Step back a bit further and you see it’s actually a dark comedy, both parodying the current and future state of the art as far as AIs go, and at the same time celebrating same…and warning of its possible dangers.
The real star of the picture, of course, is M3GAN “herself,” fresh from the uncanny valley. Credited on IMDB to Amie Donald in the mask and Jenna Davis’s voice, the effect is stunning and, presumably because of the leaps and bounds of progress we’ve seen in Artificial Intelligence, we not only accept her, we LIKE her.
Unlike, say, Chucky, M3GAN is not a monster, even if she seems like one by the end of the picture. She’s a likable personality who finds herself in a situation where in order to follow her basic programming to protect Cady, she has to ignore Isaac Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
I’ve read where there’s an unrated, gorier version, but it’s not needed. Director Gerard Johnstone paces everything perfectly in the basic version, allowing the violence when it comes to be more of a shock. In fact, M3GAN overall is a bit of a shock. Unlike movies like HELLRAISER, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, etc, this little bit of science fiction really does seem just around the corner.
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
The book is scheduled to be published in October of 2023 by Lyons Press, a Connecticut-based imprint of Globe-Pequot, a major publisher for many years. Online sources are offering it for pre-order but they're also saying it'll be 320 pages and our assembled ARC comes in at 700 so don't be surprised if the announced $32.00 price goes up as publication gets closer.
So I'm asking you all to consider pre-ordering it now. If you order from Amazon, no money will be deducted until the book ships in nine months but you're guaranteed to get it at the current price.
CONNECTICUT IN THE MOVIES is the book on which I have had the most fun, and I've never been to Connecticut once! Illeana's light and lively explorations discover a whole new sub-genre of film--The Connecticut Movie: Dark Suburbia. She's also an excellent photographer and the book will be filled with color photos shot exclusively for this book.
Here's the order page:
And here's the book's dedicated Facebook page, where I've been posting all sorts of extras and trivia regarding Connecticut films. I'd appreciate it if you'd "LIKE" the page, even if you don't plan on buying the book.
Thanks in advance!
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Tuesday, February 07, 2023
Monday, February 06, 2023
Saturday, February 04, 2023
Friday, February 03, 2023
Written by Matthew Coniam and Nick Santa Maria
Foreword by John Landis
Published by McFarland Publishing
Long before I ever actually saw even a photo of Abbott and Costello, my dad introduced me to them by teaching me the parts he could remember of “Who’s on First?” He’d do both roles and have my mother and I cracking up. He told me he’d seen them perform in Burlesque back in the day and that they had made a lot of movies, but I was glued to the television much of the time and I never saw any movies they were in.
When I was nine-years-old, though, we got a new UHF channel in our area that specialized in reruns of old TV series I had grown up with like Batman and My Favorite Martian, cartoons I had never heard of like Prince Planet and Captain Fathom, and old movie series like Charlie Chan, The Bowery Boys, and, eventually, Abbott and Costello.
Actually, the first A&C I got to watch, with my dad, was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which ran during the channel’s Saturday night horror show hosted by the Cool Ghoul. It was not only my introduction to Bud and Lou but also my introduction to Bela Lugosi! Needless to say, I loved it.
Not so much my second exposure to the fellas—Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion. Thus did I learn that all they touched was not gold, a point made well enough in the new, long-overdue book, The Annotated Abbott and Costelloby Matthew Coniam and my Facebook pal, Nick Santa Maria. Both of these men are well-known as classic comedy experts in multiple venues as well as Abbott and Costello fans of the first order, which makes them eminently qualified for a book of this type.
It’s long been said, of course, that if you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny. Luckily, the book at hand doesn’t really explain any of the jokes or routines per se, but rather gives them context and background—where did they originate, how often were they recycled, etc.
Not being an actual biography of the two men, what we have is more a career overview, although with enough of their histories to give us the parallel stories of the triumphs and tragedies happening in their personal lives at the same time their careers were soaring. And as with every success story, there actually is plenty of backstage angst.
Egos and angst aside, however, the authors do an excellent balancing act which allows them to continually concentrate on their films, emphasizing where each occurs in the bigger picture of their whole rise and fall.
Unlike a lot of collaborations, the line of “who wrote what?” is clearly delineated here, with each co-author trading off solo bylines on individual chapters or post-chapter comments. Each man offers a well-thought out and often amusing in its own right appraisal of the team and each film. Neither are any of their reviews sugarcoated. When it’s bad, they call it as such—although the other man might beg to differ in comments at the end.
Although equally prolific on radio throughout the 1940s and television throughout the 1950s, the authors, already pushing 500 pages, have chosen to center on just the film career, covering all of the duo’s screen appearances as well as Lou’s one solo film and even the 1960s compilation clipfest.
Toward the end of the book, there are some fun sections, including a number of well-known fans, film historians, authors, bloggers, etc. offering their own personal takes on favorite A&C comedies. (Nick, you had my contact info. I feel left out!).
Also among these learned personages is Chris Costello, Lou’s daughter. When my own son, David, was five years old, he could already read. I adapted a pre-school version of “Who’s on First?” that the two of us would perform at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention one year. While there is no recording of that, a few years ago I did find a cassette I had made of our rehearsals the night before. I sent it to Chris Costello who wrote back saying how much her dad loved kids and how much he would have loved hearing that recording. Remembering how much my dad had loved Abbott and Costello, as I read The Annotated Abbott and Costello, I just kept thinking how much MY dad would have absolutely loved this book. I sure did!
Wednesday, February 01, 2023
Here's an interesting article about comic books about 9 years after the Code and the end of the big boom in comics, but also 3 years before Superman hit Broadway and Batmania hit the nation. Interesting how the columnist's memory aaaalmost gets things right. "Red Lantern?" Mixing up Billy and Freddy? Green Arrow in his own title?
The improbably named Wells A. Twombly was only 27 or 28 when he wrote this. A sports journalist of some renown, he died in 1977 at the age of only 41.