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  • Seven Old Movies Based on a Premise That Couldn’t Happen Today

    Posted on July 28th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in Laura

    Before cell phones, wi-fi and unlimited internet, people relied on wired telephones, fax machines and radio to communicate. Cutting someone off from help was as easy as cutting a phone line or knocking out their electricity. Many books, and of course movies, had plots based on the idea of “no way out”, or no way to get help in a bad situation. Or, had a plot that depended on not being able to be found, or communicate with, other people.

    Here’s my collection of movies that could never take place in our present, tech-heavy world.

    The Shining, 1980

    Premise: Cut off from the world in a secluded hotel, a family deals with loneliness and solitude…and malevolent spirits. Winter storms knock out the phone lines and block the only road with snow. Their only communication with authorities is a 2-way radio, and once that is disabled, there’s no conventional way to reach anyone for help.

    Today: “The Overlook Hotel”, being a very popular resort, would absolutely have excellent cell phone reception and wi-fi. By 2018, they would probably have buried the phone lines to keep the phones working in storms.  Even if they didn’t, the snow wouldn’t affect the cell phone towers, so they would be able to use their mobile devices for Social Media, phone calls, watching TV, etc. The seclusion factor would be minimized…and the ghosts wouldn’t be nearly as scary, as a hotel that haunted would no doubt be the star in multiple ghost-hunter TV shows and overnight events.

    Laura, 1944

    Premise: A woman is murdered by a shotgun blast to the face in her apartment. She is assumed to be Laura, the resident of the apartment, but it is later discovered that the real Laura was at a secluded cabin with a broken radio, no phone, no newspaper and no connection to the outside world. The murderer’s alibi is that he was doing a live radio performance at the time of the murder, but it turns out to be a recording.

    Today: Where shall we begin??? Laura, even in a secluded cabin, would have had her cell phone. Even if we assume she didn’t have any reception, the cabin would probably at least have wi-fi, and a land line. So she would have been reachable…once the police realized it wasn’t Laura who was murdered (again…even without an autopsy, her friend would have undoubtedly had her own cell phone with her, and her ID. ID wasn’t a big deal in 1944…many people didn’t have any. Today it’s a necessity). And the murderer’s alibi would have been easily checked today, and very few radio, podcasts, or TV programs are done live.

    Red Dawn, 1984

    Premise: Soviet/Communist paratroopers invade America undetected. Scattered, a group of teenagers with no way of calling for help wages guerilla warfare against the invading army.

    Today: There are so many satellites monitoring every inch of America…both government and civilian (Google), it’s hard to imagine any kind of “sneak attack” from the sky. Planes are monitored by computer, and even if an invading army managed to get some troops to drop out of a half a dozen planes, our militarized police and the fact that is an estimated three million AR-15 rifles in the hands of civilians, makes the scenario kind of impossible. Add to that, that the minute paratroopers started falling out of the sky thousands of people would start videoing them and calling the cops on their cell phones that it isn’t likely an air invasion would be very effective.

    Blackboard Jungle, 1955:

    Premise: Juvies and greasers causing mayhem at school.

    Today: Forget it. Those kids would have been arrested on day one.

    The Exorcist, 1973:

    Premise: A young girl is possessed by a demon. Doctors and psychiatrists can’t help, and two priests are called in to do an exorcism.

    Today: Because this takes place in Washington DC, to a girl with a non-religious parent who is a well-known actress, it’s very likely the family wouldn’t keep this quiet. The girl and the mother would post about it on social media. As it worsens, doctors, psychiatrists, holistic healers, the CDC, you name it…would be offering their help online. Doctor Phil or whatever daytime TV doctor is on at the time would have them on the show. The demon would probably get so freaked out by all the attention that it would just leave. If not, the exorcism would be done on-air, in front of a live audience of several million. The world’s first live-televised exorcism would not be condoned by the Catholic church, but they’d find some willing participants nonetheless. After the successful exorcism, people would argue on social media for years to come whether it was a Hollywood stunt like the Fox alien autopsy film, eventually coming down to party-lines with the religions right saying it was real and atheist liberals calling it a hoax.

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974

    Premise: A van-load of kids go looking for their family’s abandoned house in Texas, only to be terrorized and murdered by cannibals.

    Today: The whole plot hinges on them needing gas, separating and not being able to communicate with each other. Unless there are vast areas with no cell reception in Texas, they could have called AAA for the gas and each other at the first sign of trouble.

    Jaws, 1975

    Premise: A giant, hungry shark terrorized a small town’s beachgoers and boaters.

    Today: At the first sign of trouble the town would shut down the beach due to insurance costs and not wanting to get sued. To make up for the lost tourist revenue, the town would invite everyone from the Sharknado guys to the Shark Hunters to National Geographic to film and exploit the mega-shark.

    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986

    Premise: A high school kid ditches school with his best friend and girlfriend for a day of adventures. Hijinks include joyriding in the friend’s dad’s $100,000 dollar vintage Ferrari, going to a ball game, singing in a parade and posing as Chicago’s Sausage King to get into a fancy restaurant. All while Ferris pretends to be sick.

    Today: Since the Principal suspected Ferris of foul play, he would call Ferris and his friends on their cells through the day, and would get the cops to use GPS to track their whereabouts. That $100k Ferrari is now a $15M museum piece that would have had a hell of a lot more security on it than a glass garage. With social media, everyone would be wondering why sick/dying Ferris and his family wasn’t posting constant updates on his condition…or, everyone would realize he either just didn’t feel good or was, in fact, ditching. No flowers, no fundraiser. And, it’s probably that Ferris would have been arrested for jumping on the parade float…hell, in today’s Chicago, he might have been shot for it.

    So there it is, folks. Thank God for the old days!

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk

     

     

  • Watching Old Movies on the Big Screen: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

    Posted on June 15th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    Most of us were born too late to watch flicks like The Maltese Falcon and Gone With The Wind in the theater. In my case, I was born too late to even see things like Jaws on the big screen.

    Luckily for us, over the years some local art house theaters showed some of the best…lucky, if you were lucky enough to live near one. For most of my life the best I could hope for was a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although in the 90’s I did get to see Casablanca at the local 4-screen cinema, and Dracula vs. Frankenstein at an Art House.

    Now, between Fathom Events doing special viewings at out local multi-plex, and multiple art houses doing special engagements, I’ve been lucky enough to catch some great ones…and some not so great but really fun ones.

    In the past two years I FINALLY got to see The Shining on the big screen…Raiders of the Lost Ark again…The Maltese Falcon…and more recently Killer Clowns from Outer Space. Not all from the mid-century era, I know, but still cool.

    Tonight we are going to see one of my top favorite movies of all time…The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original from 1974. It’s part of the Popcorn Fright Nights Film Festival being held at Savor Cinema, aka/previously Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In a wonderful tribute to the theme of the movie, they are including a BBQ dinner. I’m not asking what kind of meat it is.

    It may seem odd to consider “Chainsaw” to be an old movie. But when you think about it…Maltese Falcon is from 1941…which means Falcon was only 33 years old when Chainsaw came out…and Chainsaw, at the time of this writing, came out 44 years ago! Mind blown yet?

    What’s the big deal about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

    When I was a kid, the movie was already a legend. This was before VHS or cable, so the only way to see old movies was on TV. And this movie, as far as I know, NEVER made it to TV. It was talked about as being so violent, so gory, that it had been banned in several countries (this turned out to be true). So kids like us never got to see it, at all.

    Then HBO came along in the 1980s, along with video tape rentals. I got to see The Shining for the first time on HBO (and it screwed with my head for years). Then I finally got to rent Chainsaw as a teenager. I was not disappointed. Not only was it a good horror movie, it was just insane. The way it was filmed, the art direction, everything about this movie was so different from Freddie and Jason and Micheal, so gritty and a REAL. Disturbingly real. The low-budget only affected the quality in so much as it made it more realistic, more insane.

    Some of the things that stood out to me, that made the film really stand out and enjoyable:

    (Spoilers ahead):

    • That claustrophobic van. It reminded me of the stifling heat riding in my Dad’s van, no AC, middle of the summer. Horrifying.
    • The creepy guy washing the bugs off the van at the gas station.
    • Realizing later in the movie what the “barbecue” they ate at the gas station actually was.
    • Creepy abandoned looking house with dozens of cars parked close together, under camo. Who’s cars are they?
    • That sliding steel door.
    • The body jumping around as his nervous system reacted and died out.
    • Are those real chickens? Are those real bones?
    • Nice sofa.
    • Girl on a hook.
    • Finally killed that annoying guy in the wheel chair.
    • Poking the girl with the broom handle and laughing.
    • Whack on the head with the hammer.
    • Are those dead bodies mummified in those chairs?
    • Holy cow that guy isn’t a mummy, he’s still alive!
    • Who’s your interior decorator? Oh, right.
    • Guy getting run over with all the wheels of the truck.
    • Chainsaw on the leg!

    I can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. If you’re a fan of the movie, you’re saying, “Oh yeah!”, if you haven’t seen it, you’re saying, “Whut?” That’s ok. You need to see it. Here’s the trailer:

     

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the Screening Room at Tiki Lounge Talk

  • La La Land – a 1940s Musical in Modern Los Angeles

    Posted on January 24th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    la-la-land-poster“La La Land”, Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle. Released Summer, 2016

    It was announced today that “La La Land” has been nominated for an astounding 14 Oscar awards, including best directing, best picture and best original screenplay. Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling both received best acting nominations. Oh, and don’t forget the seven Gold Globes the movie won.

    If you haven’t seen it, you’re probably thinking, “So what’s all the fuss about?”

    Answer: Beautiful cinematography, great story, fantastic acting and direction, incredible music; From the moody jazz clubs to the brightly-costumed dance numbers, everything about this movie screams the things we love. Fred and Ginger would have been right at home making this picture.la-la-land-dancing

    As my title says, this is a story set in modern-day LA, but is really a 1940s-1950s style musical, complete with traditional-sounding show tunes, dancing, and vintage décor. The music is incredible, featuring big band sounds, traditional jazz and modern influences blended together like a perfect musical cocktail.

    La La Land-piano

    Then there is the cinematography. Oh, how beautifully and carefully this atmospheric movie is filmed, each shot creating a specific mood while maintaining the vintage-esque feel throughout. Dreamy and cool, there’s a touch of magic…just as a 1940s musical should have. (For example, they say every jazz piece tells a story; in this movie, the jazz piano piece literally tells a story. Very cool.)

    Beyond the music, the acting and the story are fantastic. Stone and Gosling effortlessly take characters who should be un-relatable to most people (an aspiring young actress and a bohemian jazz musician) and make them warm and inviting, even with their faults. The blossoming romance is real, corny, and magical all at the same time.la-la-land-gosling-stone=stars

    For people who dig vintage and mid-century fun, this a movie that is right up your alley.

    The film has an overall Art Deco, Vintage & Mid-Century look and feel. Sets and locations are all about the past, including the Angels Flight Funicular Railway, The Colorado Street Bridge, and the very famous Griffith Observatory (the Planetarium in “Rebel Without A Cause”).

    Griffith Observatory (Planetarium)

    Griffith Observatory (Planetarium)

     

    The tap dancing and jazz numbers (Gosling learned jazz piano for this role) take you back to the decades of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, perfectly choreographed and played for this vintage musical style. The music was scored for a 90-piece orchestra on the same stage as “Singin’ in the Rain”.

     

     

    ryan-gosling-Riviera-in-la-la-land

    Gosling in an early 1980s Buick Riviera, a classic-styled throwback to the 1930s.

    Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is a jazz transplant from the late 1950s, right down to his thin ties and choice of classic style cars (an early 1980s Rivera convertible at first, a 1980 Cadillac Eldorado convertible near the end). He is the symbol of tradition, of the past, to a fault – his career as a jazz musician is hampered by his unwillingness to change with the times. Once he begrudgingly evolves musically, opportunities begin to open for him.

    CAdillac eldorado convertible

    When successful, Sebastian moves up to a Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

    Stone’s character, Mia, is a modern woman who seems at odds in the modern world (even though she doesn’t realize it). She has problems with modern electronics and doesn’t do well in scenes that involve her Prius. Yet she seems most at home in the vintage settings she discovers (the jazz clubs, period piece performances) and with the vintage-style man she keeps running into. It’s only when she embraces the past that she becomes successful.

    Together, these marvelous characters both sing and dance though life in the style that made Fred and Ginger famous.La La Land-piano

    Personally, I think Fred and Ginger would love it.
    And I think you will too.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk

     

     

  • The Maltese Falcon – Back In Theatres This February!

    Posted on February 9th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    maltese-falcon-poster75 years ago, John Huston unleashed onto an unsuspecting public a film that would become one of, if not the most iconic gumshoe detective mystery movies of all time, The Maltese Falcon.
    You can’t utter the words “Film Noir” without The Maltese Falcon coming to mind. From Bogart’s portrayal of ‎Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, to the multiple twists and turns, to the bitter ending, this slice of the dark side of peoples’ lives has become the standard by which all other films of its kind are measured.

    And now it’s back on the Silver Screen, in glorious black and white, for its 75th anniversary. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

    Click here for showtimes, locations and tickets through Fathom Events.

    Click here for the Tiki Lounge Talk’s take on The Maltese Falcon for Noir Movie Monday.

     

    Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk

  • Go See “Hail, Caesar!” As Soon As You Can! The Best Mid-Century Era Movie in Years

    Posted on February 8th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    hail caesar brolin Once every few years a new mid-century period movie comes out that has the perfect blend of nostalgia, wit, and entertainment. Here it is, kids…

    Hail, Caesar!

    for Mod Movie Monday at Tiki Lounge Talk, starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich, Hobie Doyle, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton.

    (NO Spoilers, just some fun facts)

    I won’t go into the basic idea of what the movie is about…you can read about that anywhere. I’m going to tell you why, as one who digs mid-century coolness, you will dig this movie and need to see it on the Big Screen.
    “Hail, Caesar!” takes place sometime around 1950-51, and is set in Los Angeles (after all, it’s a movie about the movie business).

    hail caesar johannson mermaidSo here we are, transported back to the early 1950s. Now you might expect the movie to hit us over the head with imagery and symbolism of that era. Well, the Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There) are too good to resort to that kind of shtick. They have their own brand of shtick, and it’s subtle…it’s in the spoofiness of the whole thing, and how every scene is shot in such a way that it reminds you of another movie, one from the actual era.

    The movie starts off in a timeless way, then before you realize it, the nostalgia bits are added in and multiplied. These start out small (an actress taking “dirty pictures” (read: full but skimpy clothing) in the middle of the night, a meeting at the Imperial Garden (“They have the best Mai Tai’s here), and time-establishing shots of Brolin’s wristwatch, which looked like it was probably from the 1930s.

    hail caesar tatumFrom there the Hollywood spoofing takes center stage, with incredibly fun scenes that mimic some of our favorite movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. These scenes include an aquatic dance number complete with mermaid (think Ester Williams), a cowboy guitar & song (Gene Autry), and a fully-executed sailor dance number that would have fit right in to “On the Town” (well, most of it). Watching that sequence featuring Channing Tatum, all I could think was, Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra are looking down and laughing their asses off. Well done.

    And then of course there’s George Clooney’s character, they typical big star, a playboy and the kind of 1950s actor who could bring tears to an audience with one line. Also, not so bright, and easily influenced, which helps carry the main story line to a really fun and cool ending. I applaud Clooney for taking this role, and he was fantastic in it.

    But the real juiciness it that dotted throughout the movie is pretty much EVERY possible nod the era’s nostalgia and movies of the time, including:

    A mid-century modern Malibu house overlooking the ocean (compete with bar)
    Close-up of the Cadillac nameplate on the chrome dashboard of the car
    A lasso-wielding singing cowboy who does his own stunts
    4-button multiline telephones
    Vaudeville/slapstick comedy (where you least expect it)
    Hollywood cover-ups (I won’t spoil it)
    Communists
    Russians
    Carmen Miranda-ish character
    Twins routine
    Dance routines out of nowhere
    Actual songs from the era, as background music
    Romans (of course)
    Black and White “artsy” movie within the movie, with odd camera angles
    Over-dramatic, high-society type director who is incredibly serious about his musical
    “Epic” movie splash screen
    Backlot shots of Roman columns next to modern cars
    Stars who’ve had multiple marriages
    The future of aviation (Lockheed)
    The future of TV replacing movies
    Intellectuals sitting around discussing things but not taking action (until they take action)
    Cool Chinese Restaurant/Almost a Tiki Bar
    Cocktails
    Cigarettes
    Finger Sandwiches
    1950’s Housewife (with a line to her husband something like “You know what’s best”)
    One of those old lawn chairs with the plastic webbing
    Hoover
    Atomic Bomb
    Snoopy reporter
    Panel van
    Old movie cameras
    Alligator-skin briefcase
    Dailies complete with cards that say things like “Big Credits Here”,

    hail caesar clooney…and probably a whole lot more I can’t remember, as there’s so much going on it’s impossible to get it all in one viewing.

    The Ester Williams-style number is incredibly fun to watch, as is Tatum’s dance routine (I like that the movie gives us full numbers, not just a 15 second snippet). Even the cowpoke’s song is a hoot.

    So, my recommendation…It’s a great movie, fun plot, exceptional characters, the right amount of nostalgia without it being obvious, unbelievable dance numbers, and laugh-out-loud comedy, plus visuals that will make you wish you lived back in 1951.

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screening room at Capitol Studios, Hollywood.

     

    Trailer One:

     

    Trailer Two: