You Can’t Stop The Music, You Can Only Hope The Cable Goes Out

My digital cable already costs more than $100 a month thanks to the Extra Innings MLB package. So I can’t splurge for one of those fancy movie packages that, for instance, Red Roof Inn can. So no HBO or Showtime for me. Hell, I can’t even afford The Movie Channel or Starz! (The exclamation point is theirs, not mine.)

So what am I stuck with? That would be Encore and FLIX. I mean, where else can you watch repeated showings of Running Scared with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as tough Chicago cops or Jaws 4 (“This time it’s personal!”).

But FLIX hit a new low point this weekend with the airing of 1980’s Can’t Stop The Music. Long considered one of the worst movies ever made, I’ve somehow managed to avoid during the entire course of my adult life.

And yet, Saturday, even with my beloved Cleveland Indians playing the New York Yankees on FOX, I found myself repeatedly switching back and forth between the movie and the game.

If you aren’t familiar with the movie, and frankly, why would you be, it stars those l970s Disco Warriors, the Village People, in their first and last screen performance.

But that’s not even doing the movie justice, if that really is the word. (I wouldn’t blame justice if it wanted nothing to do with this.)

It’s the movie with former Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner playing an uptight tax lawyer.

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When Lipton Finally Bagged Pacino

This won’t be the first time we write about this, trust me. A couple of years ago, the famously, fatuous, ingratiating, unctuous and other adjectives I can’t think of right now host of “Inside the Actors Studio,” James Lipton, invited Pacino on for an extended conversation.

For Lipton, who often dwells among the B and C-listers of Hollywood (Charlie Sheen, anyone?), it was the chance to touch the face of a god. And neither he nor Pacino disappointed.

Here’s a clip.

Bad Pacino Scorecard: Author! Author!

What the hell am I supposed to do with six kids?

Near the end of Author! Author!, Al Pacino’s character, an Armenian playwright named Ivan Travalian, is slumped backstage at the premiere of his troubled play, anxiously listening to the audience.

“They didn’t laugh,” he says. “They aren’t laughing.”

You wonder now if Pacino himself knew he was forecasting the audience’s reaction to the film.

There’s not a laugh to be found in Author! Author!, a supposed “comedy” from 1982 that ran deep in the evening on AMC this week.

So many things run wrong with this film, from the script, to the casting, to the editing, that it’s a minor miracle it exists in any sort of form to run late-night on a cable channel.

You might start with the fact that Pacino plays an Armenian playwright named Ivan Trevalian. “I don’t think I have ever met an Armenian before,” one character says to him. “It’s easy,” he replies, “all Armenian names rhyme with Armenian.”


We’ve already lauded Al’s willingness to stretch as an actor and here he was in a period where he was really pushing the limits, perhaps tired of the street-wise, world weary roles that had made him a star. He had famously starred as a cop who goes undercover in the gay underworld in Cruising. (This enraged family values groups and gay-rights groups both at the time.) And he had not yet appeared in his own personal Heaven’s Gate, a career-killing historical film called Revolution, that, frankly, I remain terrified to see. And his next film would be a modest, subtle little film called Scarface.

So it was only natural that Pacino would sign on to appear in a comedy about a neurotic New York playwright who lives in a chaotic household with six children to whom he serves as a largely surrogate father.

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BP/DVD Review: Into the Wild

You know, i suppose I could drive you a few more hundred yards.

Year: 2007

Director: Sean Penn

Starring: Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook

I’ll admit it. I’ve been sitting on Into the Wild for at least a week, and watching it felt a little bit like a homework assignment.

I knew what was coming, having read the Jon Krakauer book years ago. And even though I had largely avoided the reviews, I had a sense of what was coming: Lots of rapturous shots of a man in the Wilderness.

Not to criticize Sean Penn, who had a real sense of what he was trying to do. But it’s too easy to hold Chris McCandless up as a cure for all that is wrong with the world. The kid was a dreamer, but if there’s a reason why the story of Icarus has been a legend for more than 2,500 years. If you fly near the Sun with wings made of wax, guess what happens? And if you move out to the middle of Alaska with few supplies and a belief you can live off the land even though you have never done it, guess what happens?

That being said, for a movie about isolation, Penn does an admirable job of showing the human relationships that McCandless established on the road before his fateful trip up North. And he has a real feel for the less-than-perfect dropouts from mainstream society. A sequence where McCandless lives with two surrogate parents in a barren stretch of California known as Slab City is particularly resonant, as is Hirsch’s widely praised interaction with a tender, lonely Hal Holbrook.

But it makes it all the more frustrating that the protagonist’s decision to leave people behind once he’s created the bonds for which he was obviously starving is poorly understand, by the people who knew McCandless and by the audience. And while you wish the ending would be transcendent, a moment that encapsulates all that is gorgeous about the mystery of existence, you can’t quite escape the feeling that you are watching a story about a guy who was crushed by his car fixing a flat tire because he didn’t know how to jack it up correctly.

My guess is that there is a large generational split among people who have seen this film. Just like that there’s a certain age when you should read “On the Road,” and then there’s a certain age here you can’t.

They Wanted to Be Pacino

Earning a website like Bad Pacino doesn’t come easily. It takes a career of toil, of doing the dirty jobs nobody wanted to do, of dressing up in Dick Tracy for instance. It’s like losing 20 games in a season. It takes a certain talent to pitch in enough games to lose 20.

Here are five actors who could have been considered for the gig:

5. Harrison Ford. Well, they don’t come any more iconic than Indiana Here’s the problem. If Ford were good or bad, would you notice? Could you notice? Or is when like that atomic clock the Navy has loses a second or two. We certainly can’t feel it. Ford is a man of two faces and they usually come in direct sequence: 1) surprise/shock/incredulity and 2) serious jaw-setting. Here’s a test: Pacino has played a CIA officer (The Recruit), but Ford, to my knowledge, has never played Satan. Or a Cuban. Or a football coach. Or a blind Marine colonel. Or the mayor of New York. You beginning to get it?

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What is Bad Pacino?

It’s a concept, man. It’s a dream. It’s our time now–and God is an absentee landlord!

This is a blog about movies, inspired by what we consider to be the most unstoppable force in modern cinema.

Al Pacino is more than an actor with a, let’s say, tendency toward the dramatic. He’s an icon. He’s timeless. And his hair. That’s even more timeless.

It all stemmed from a barroom conversation several years ago, when we realized that with Big Al, there is no middle ground. It’s either Good Pacino or Bad Pacino. He doesn’t play it safe. He makes. A choice.

Good Pacino? Easy. Start with The Godfather. Al’s understated, restrained, almost somber.

Bad Pacino? Easy in some sense. Does the exclamation “ooh-wah!” mean anything to you?

The Oak Room! He’s blind. He drives a Ferrari.

That’s Bad Pacino.

Then there are the tougher calls. Scarface, anyone? Because you are a famous Italian actor from New York means you can play a Cuban refugee who rises to the top of the Miami underworld. But that doesn’t mean you should do it.

But the way we see it, Bad Pacino is more than a concept confined to a famous actor occasionally cashing the paycheck or chasing Oscar. Its all about going over the top. About seeing those limitations and pushing. Right past them!

It means somehow being a cook who somehow seduces a waitress who somehow looks like Michelle Pfeiffer. It means playing Jamie Foxx over Dennis Quaid. It means that when the producers come to you and say “It’s a law firm run by the devil,” you say, “Great. Where do I sign?

It means never having to apologize, even if you come out with something like 88 minutes, which opened Friday and comes out on DVD, I believe, on Tuesday. (Metacritic average score: 17, which is a number usually reserved for Paris Hilton cameos.)

It’s a state of mind, friend.

So this is a blog about movies, but let’s be clear. It’s about movies in all their untidy, sometimes horribly commercial serves. Speaking only for myself, I am no cineaste. To borrow a line from John Cusack in High Fidelity, sure I’ve seen The Seven Samurai and The 400 Blows and I think I understand them. They were about girls, right? It’s about what we like, what we love, and what we love to hate.