Monday, November 28, 2011

phew! talk about a godforsaken dirtnap!

I have bellyflopped in front of the internet! NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT! BLOGGED AS THOUGH A DAILY CHARACTER ACTOR TRIBUTE WAS IN THE OFFING THEN SIT ON THEIR EVER LOVIN HANDS? NOPE It's NEVER happened. And it pains me terribly to be the one that ruined the blogosphere entire with his lazy, fickle, self-serving, lazy and all too common neglect of what is surely one of the best ideas... Why does the web have to be so CONVENIENT? I HAVE NO EXCUSE. NONE.

That said,

it's December. We can begin again. Been watching some films and feeling a fair share of gratitude for this guy right here:

and this'n

and a this'n

even this frumplestiltskin from Bronco Billy

Course I'm talkin bout Mr. Geoffrey Lewis -- father of Juliette "The Other Sister" Lewis, milquetoast, unscrupulous brute, disapproving adult and general oddball (in his military-themed films, naturally). Seriously though, he defies the blithe, lyrical James Liptonizing and just fills up movies significantly more than the ones given more lines than him. It's rare that an actor so often deemed "supporting", is such an essential part of the film's foundation. While Lewis has done his fare share of grunt work in unsavable films (Tango & Cash, Double Impact), he has taken on memorable roles in some of the greatest films of the seventies. My two favorites being High Plains Drifter (easily Eastwood's best western) and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (the anti-Tango & Cash).

High Plains is great because Eastwood's character isn't exactly a good guy (doesn't take no from the town strumpet), but Lewis is much much worse. He is simply a vicious, empty sadist and played scarily well. This is one of the grittier westerns of the seventies and the oily Stacy Bridges partly makes it one of the best. Him and his crew (one of em played by fellow Eastwood regular Anthony "Skinny Dubois" James) look like he greazed forth from a Leone movie and prove to be formidable even when they get more than they'd bargained for in HELL.

Thunderbolt & Lightfoot is a funny, tender and depressing as shit buddy bank-robber flick with Eastwood and a young, muppet-like Jeff Bridges (this unique early mix of cute and vacant must've somehow led to his break-out role in Starman). They have terrific chemistry that is in no small part buoyed by their unwanted partners in crime Red (George Kennedy) and Eddie (Lewis). Kennedy's Red Leary is something to see -- infinitely irascible, violent, perverted -- especially how he interacts with his basically good-natured, personal punching bag Eddie Goody. As the antithesis of his High Plains role, Lewis still screams i'm-watching-a-great-movie with every move. Once again (and I'll try not to just say this over and over) what could've been a very stock role is elevated by a series of sympathetic, silly and tragicomic turns.

The most recent thing I can think of where Lewis was memorable in was yet another Eastwood project (guy's got taste) was as the townie the went around with flies tied to him and a vial of poison in Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. It doesn't much matter. The two I've selected and Bad Company (Jeff Bridges again) have stood the test of time better than time itself. All of Cinema is better for it. Let the money 'support' -- people like Geoffrey Lewis are the reason for the season.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A briefish intro. I neglect this blog. It'd be fine if i had something better to do, however--hold up! I'm here so wtf - let's get cooking. I like a good performance. i daresay I gravitate toward certain actors, more for what they bring with themselves than what project they're working with. Sometimes these "character actors" harmoniously weave their uniqueness into a god project. A lot of us movie dweebs use the aforementioned term, and the more you think about it, the stupider it sounds. USA Network's "Character's Welcome" tagline kinda sealed the deal. No show on there has any real or enjoyable characters. But they no doubt have good character actors reading the plotty, lackluster dialogue.

Anyway, seeing the trailer for the buzzed about new indie Tyrannosaur, it struck me as wasteful that interesting actresses like Peep Show's Olivia Coleman don't get more large scale film roles. The one's with character actors (I'll drop the quotes, the battle for reason is moot) in starring roles tend to be better. Not that I don't like stars. Mel Gibson. Russell Crowe. With any luck, Boardwalk Empire's Michael Shannon will be the next action star (that's right, whether he wants it or not). As Soprano's showed beyond a doubt, character actors can carry a friggin story. Leo cannot. Depp, despite some good turns here and there, cannot. Surely Pitt... Actually Pitt's only improving. Same with Damon... Clooney, Cruise, Costner, Gibson cannot....

Ramble gramble puddin pie. Future posts will be succincter, I promise. But for now, do I want to chuck anything else in? Oh yeah - there are character actor imposters out there. People who are good looking. maybe a little like Matthew McCannahough (Kris Kristofferson's ne'er do well henchman son in Steven Segal vehicle Fire Down Below) or Viggo Mortensen (lead copacter in Walking Dead). In fact the whole cast of Walking Dead or Lost consists of these actors. Bland archetypes to hopefully identify with. washed out and empty but shimmery enough to allow to zonk you. Actually, they sneak in some true blues in Lost. There is no one quite like man-mountain Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Adebisi from Oz) and Terry O'Quinn (The original Stepfather) has that insidious normal guy/cretin anti-charm down pat. But let's just leave the rest of those pretty things (yeah, Hurley too)to the bottom of the cliff they're always hanging off of and do this thing already.

Helena Kallianiotes

Was watching Ravi Shankar's performance in D.A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop documentary and besides crying, was startled to see none other than the lovely and exotic Palm Apodaca. She looks, like many of the audience members filmed during Shankar and co.'s performance , radiant with the palpable uplift the music instills. Her and Toni Basil always seemed liked something out of another dimension in the otherwise somber, hardscrabble drama of Five Easy Pieces. They don't fit, and Karen Black is acutely aware of this, despite her tendency to be friendly to the roadside lesbians.

Chances are her and Basil were meant to be just director Rafelson's angry feminazi armchair liberal flunkies, but there's something lived-in and knowing about Kallianiotes performance (and her natural quiet/loud chemistry with Basil) that transcends the "get-a-load-of-these-freaks" framing. They are eventually dumped on the side of the highway, but not before establishing that their antipathy will get them as far as they need to go. You don't feel bad for them and they don't much want you to anyway so everyone's happy.

It fascinates me to no end to read that she lives on Nicholson's estate and manages it as well. Apparently she used to belly dance at a Greek restaurant called The Intersection. It's not hard to picture her and Jack having an occasional exchange resembling the one at the end of Carnal Knowledge. There's something of the gypsy love goddess to her, even if she's a little chilling.

Like Kim Darby or Galaxy Craze, Kallianiotes is an eye-catching but elusive actress. She's in an old Roller Derby movie with Raquel Welch called Kansas City Bomber. Then there's Shanks, the last William Castle film starring Marcel Marceau as an evil puppeteer of dead bodies. Haven't seen that yet but I can't imagine why not -- especially if this actress is in it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


three great versions of a great song and sure to be the center-subject of a cool mix

((coming soon?!)) 16 a certain person - LIGHT ASYLUM

i heard the Miles one at work today and it sent me packin and a flyin and a dreaming into the great bemused. turns out both Sinatra and Peggy Lee also do something special with this heart-stoppingly sumptuous sentimental graduation. there's a sense of swimming in clouds with a feeling you're particularity fond of and for once not being consistently afraid it's gonna run off on you. it's merely catching a glance of a promising human connection and making due when that happens to take you further into contentment than you ever would've expected.

01 it never entered my mind - FRANK SINATRA

frank sinatra

02 what isn't nature (Cass Mccombs cover) - LOWER DENS
03 another tear falls - THE WALKER BROTHERS
04 eleganza - THE SPINANES
05 not the way - CASS MCCOMBS
06 hamilton road - DUCKTAILS
07 many rivers to cross - HARRY NILSSON
08 it hurts me too - KAREN DALTON
09 I <3 dr. girlfriend - KYLE HALL
10 it never entered my mind - PEGGY LEE

peggy lee

11 getting away with it - THE EGG
12 old man willow - ELEPHANT'S MEMORY
13 astrofarm - EAST RIVER PIPE
14 bedside table - BEDHEAD
15 round the moon - SUMMER CAMP
17 batman - LOWER DENS
18 what isn't nature - CASS MCCOMBS
19 it never entered my mind - MILES DAVIS

miles davis