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Daily Call Sheet: Whitney's Class, 'Going My Way's' Subtext, and Tales of Amazon Streaming

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SOMETHING TO ADMIRE ABOUT WHITNEY HOUSTON

Houston was a true superstar. She had the pipes, looks, presence and poise — she had it all. And if you look at her evolution as an actress from “The Bodyguard” to “The Preacher’s Wife,” she could’ve had a long and productive film career had her personal life not imploded.

Personally, though I recognize her talent, her music didn’t suit my taste, but something I always admired about her was how she never sexualized herself. Sure, she played up her incredible beauty and figure, but she never went the route of a Madonna or Lady Gaga or so many others who objectify themselves in a desperate bid for attention.

Kissing another woman on national television or creating a “wardrobe malfunction” was so far away from her image, you simply can’t imagine her doing it.

RIP.

THE GLORIOUS SUBTEXT OF ‘GOING MY WAY’

My arch-nemesis Andrew Klavan (long story) emailed this over the weekend and with his permission I’m reprinting it here:

I was just working out in the TV room and put on TCM, where they were playing Going My Way, a picture I’ve seen maybe three times (a lot for me).  Never really noticed before this incredible scene where Bing bumps into an old girlfriend who is now singing Carmen at the Met.  First there’s this uncomfortable scene where she doesn’t see his collar and keeps badgering him about why he stopped writing to her – clearly because he was in love with her and had to leave her behind.  Then she invites him to stand in the wings while she performs.  And he stands there and watches her sing the famous L’Amour aria (Love is a rebellious bird that no one can tame), this seductive, sexy song.  He watches her with sadness and longing.  When she moves to the other side of the stage, he rushes around to the other part of the wings so he won’t miss a moment.  Finally, when she finishes and the audience goes wild, he waves to her and mouths the words, “Goodbye.  I have to go.”

I rewound it and watched it twice.  It was one of the saddest, sexiest and most religious scenes I’d ever seen.  It showed you everything he was giving up – the whole world of human sensuality – without condemning it but explaining why a priest couldn’t do it.  He could have seen her through a window with her husband and children.  Nowadays, of course, he’d have seen her naked getting banged by George Clooney, the star of the movie.  But this was immensely deeper and wiser and more artistic.

This is why the films from this era will continue to live on forever. Because restrictions and boundaries make for better art, the dreaded Production Code was one of the best friend’s Hollywood had. Everything is there in these films, it’s just that it’s all in the subtext and waiting to be decoded. You feel these themes and find something new with subsequent viewings.

Today, because all boundaries have been removed, the art of the motion picture has suffered as a result. There’s nothing to savor or discover or debate. It’s all text now, all splayed out.

Don’t misunderstand me, I oppose censorship and am well aware that in the right hands the removal of barriers is a good thing. But overall, it’s simply not. It takes real talent to pull off what Leo McCarey did in that “Going My Way” scene, and the poignancy comes from what’s unspoken.

WHY CONSERVATIVES CAN’T DO POP CULTURE VERY WELL

Interesting piece, but not completely fair. When it comes to openly liberal popular culture, liberals have a pretty secure 100% failure rate. Look at all those anti-war films, Clooney’s political films, and everything Michael Moore’s touched post-“Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Thematically (as opposed to openly politicl), liberals get a thousand more kicks at the cats then we do, but our thematic output — “Dark Knight,” “Passion of the Christ,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Closer,” “300,” “Transformers,” “Rambo 4,” “Rocky Balboa,” “Fireproof,” “Twilight,” and many others — are doing just fine, thanks for asking.

When one of ours flops, the corrupt MSM turns it into a bellwether, an indication that conservatives aren’t interested in conservative entertainment and conservatives artists have no talent. When everything liberal flops, the corrupt MSM pretends it didn’t.  *Cough* “Ides of March” *cough*cough*

AMAZON PRIME OFFERS FREE STREAMING

I finally went through the machinations to get this hooked up. I was already a prime member, so the free streaming has been available to me for months, but technical stuff always seems to eat up an inordinate amount of time I don’t have. Sunday, I bit the bullet, and am glad I did.

There’s a lot of programming available that isn’t on Netflix, so it’s a terrific supplement. At long last, we finally got the chance to dive into Ric Burns’ “New York” (which I’ve wanted to see forever), but Amazon also has “Superfly” and “Grand Prix,” which I intend to dig into this week.    

There are some drawbacks. Amazon desperately needs to create a queue so you can put specific titles in a single bin. A “recently watched” bin would be nice, as well. Netflix has both of these, which makes it much easier to find, organize, and locate specific titles.

Man, we can’t wait to cancel our cable.

‘TRAILER FOR ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER’ HITS

Is anyone familiar with the source material? I’m asking in all sincerity if the use of Abraham Lincoln has a larger point beyond a cool title.

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LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) — Normally, I avoid “quirk” like the plague. Normally, it’s a crutch used in forgettable crap like “Waitress” to cover up a mean spirit and an aren’t-we-pleased-with-ourselves irony overload. “Napoleon Dynamite,” though, is brilliant. There’s nothing mean-spirited about its portrayal of Idaho or its people, and while the protagonist might be oblivious and stubborn, the story is loaded with heart, just not the sentimental kind.

Uncle Rico, who I’m pretty sure is a grown up David Wooderson, is one of the great characters to come out of the aughts. His poignant desire to return to 1982, his insecurities, selfishness, and loneliness all  seem so contradictory, but John Gries was just tremendous in bringing that character to life.

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COMING SOON TO HOME VIDEO

A DANGEROUS METHOD: Golden Globe® Nominee Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel Star. Available on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital March 27th.

 Based on the true story of renowned psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, his determined colleague Carl Jung, and a disturbed patient who challenged the minds and work ethics of both men, A Dangerous Method arrives on Blu-ray™, DVD and digital March 27th from Sony Pictures Classics and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This riveting, dark drama from director David Cronenberg brings together a prominent ensemble cast including Academy Award® nominee Keira Knightley (Lead Actress, Pride & Prejudice), Academy Award® nominee Viggo Mortensen (Lead Actor, Eastern Promises), Golden Globe® nominee Michael Fassbender (Best Actor, Shame) and Vincent Cassel (Black Swan). 

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SCOTTDS’ EPIC LINKTACULAR

“MAN OF STEEL” STAR HENRY CAVILL TO STAR IN ED ZWICK’S “THE GREAT WALL”

THE FIRST MOVIE ABOUT “NOTHING”

“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” TO BE REMADE BY THE DIRECTOR OF “BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF”

SHIRLEY MACLAINE TO JOIN ‘DOWNTOWN ABBEY’

ALEX PROYAS’ “PARADISE LOST” ADAPTATION IS CANCELLED

MATTEL WILL FINALLY RELEASE THE HOVERBOARD FROM “BACK TO THE FUTURE”

FIRST LOOK AT “SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS” FROM THE DIRECTOR OF “IN BRUGES”

“PACIFIC RIM” PRODUCTION UPDATE FROM GUILLERMO DEL TORO

ALFRED MOLINA TO STAR IN TNT MEDICAL DRAMA “CHELSEA GENERAL”

“SPACE: 1999” TO BE REVIVED FOR TV AS “SPACE: 2099”

HOW DWAYNE JOHNSON ROCKS SOCIAL MEDIA

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF RADIO DAYS

ESSENTIAL TUMBLRS FOR FILMS FANS

HAMMER FILMS EVERYONE SHOULD SEE

“IDIOCRACY”: AN APPRECIATION

THE 50 GREATEST CULT MOVIES OF ALL TIME

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CLASSIC PICK FOR TUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 13

TCM:

3:00 PM  In Cold Blood (1967)  —  Two vagrants try to outrun the police after committing a savage crime in this real-life shocker. Dir: Richard Brooks Cast:  Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe. BW-134 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format.

Brilliantly shot and edited docu-drama. Both Robert Blake and Scott Wilson are perfectly cast as two cold-blooded killers, and the unbearably tense scenes involving the murders stay with you forever.

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