Posted on January 24th, 2017 No comments
“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.
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.
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.
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”).
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”.
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.
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.
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
Posted on February 8th, 2016 No comments
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).
So 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.
From 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)
Carmen Miranda-ish character
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
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
Old movie cameras
Dailies complete with cards that say things like “Big Credits Here”,
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.
Posted on August 11th, 2014 1 comment
Been a while since I did a “Mod Movie Monday” post, mainly because I’ve been busy with doing some much-need restoration on my 1953 Chevy Bel Air Custom, writing a new paranormal murder mystery, and launching a new idea…more on that later.
So here we go, kats and kittens, back to our regularly schedule program. This week we feature
from 1965, starring Peter Cushing as The Doctor.
This movie was produced “outside” the original series universe, and as such, die-hard Who fans may find it a little annoying that it doesn’t follow the established theme. But the Doctor is still somewhat of a mad scientist, he still has traveling companions (in this, his two grand daughters and one of their boyfriends), the TARDIS is still a blue police box and bigger on the inside, and they still travel through space and time with special effects that remind you of Lost in Space. And it’s the mid-1960s, so there’s a kind of cold war-era peaceful-people-fighting-against-fascist-overlords kind of vibe.
Here’s the trailer:
Food & Booze: You’ll want something far-out, futuristic and still 1960s to go with this. I’d suggest Saturn Sliders (little burgers with big onion rings around them) and for drinks, Blue Neptune Cocktails in a tall, clear glass (see recipe below).
My Take: If you like Doctor Who, or just dig kookie movies from the mod era, you’ll dig it. From the TARDIS interior (which looks more like a black box theater than a space ship) to the annoying Daleks, it’s a fun treat that will whisk you back to the past before accelerating you to the future.
Blue Neptune Cocktail recipe:
2 oz good vodka
1 splash Blue Curacao (Just enough to make it blue)
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Lemon peel
1 Orange wheel
Mix all ingredients except lemon and orange in a shaker with ice. Strain over a tall clear glass half full of ice and garnish with the twisty lemon peel and orange wheel. You can secure the peel to the wheel with a sword or pick, and add a cherry if you are so inclined.
Tiki Chris P. reporting from the time machine at Tiki Lounge Talk
Oh, I almost forgot…that new idea I’m working on: Yours truly is embarking on a little side biz. Starting now, I’ll be offering my cool & kookie services as a vintage-theme party DJ in the South Florida are. That’s right…I’m putting the thousands of songs I’ve collected over the years to good use. So if you know anyone who wants to have a retro theme party, I’m you man…as long as it’s somewhere between West Palm Beach and Miami, Florida. Check out the new website for the low down. By the way…in that world, I’m known as “Riff”.
Posted on October 15th, 2013 No comments
There are some vintage horror movies that are so obviously a “must see” that it seems silly to write about them on a retro blounge, but I will make an exception for The Exorcist. Why? Because it’s THAT GOOD, and if you haven’t seen it, you…well, you must see it.
(Don’t worry…No spoilers, just some references to the things you’ve already seen in pop culture even if you’ve never seen the movie.)
What: The Exorcist is a psychological horror movie centered around a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon. A priest – one who has recently questioned his faith, is asked to help the girl. At first he believes her outbursts and episodes are psychotic. Then he sees her head twist all the way around and it’s full steam ahead from their.
That’s the story in a nutshell, but not the reason to watch this flick. Reasons to watch it include the fact that it was the first mainstream horror movie to realistically show a child possessed by a demon, cursing, convulsing, spewing green vomit in the face of a priest. Where most horror movies of the time (or before) relied on monsters, ghosts, or murderers for effect, this movie took an entirely realistic approach to horror, capitalizing on an evil you never really even see (as it is manifested in the girl). Remember, movie-goers in 1973 weren’t used to much cursing, blood or psychological horror. They were used to Hammer films with Christopher Lee as Dracula (although great, not on the same level as this) and had just recently been exposed to Night of the Living Dead, which was shot in black and white. Now audiences were seeing a child turn into a demon, in full color, cursing like the devil himself, acting out in horrific ways (I don’t want to give them away) with brutality and absolute…well, horror. To this day, this movie remains one of the most difficult to watch because of its realism.
Why: Where as movies like The Woman in Black are creepy, Paranormal Activity is jump-out-of-your-skin scary, and House of 1000 Corpses is grossly bloody and nerve-shredding, The Exorcist is all of those combined. The cinematography is impeccable, creating an atmosphere of mental anguish and unease that sucks you in and keeps you there. The acting is, of course, incredible, and some of the reactions were real – including the reaction by Father Karras when he gets pelted in the face with vomit (it was supposed to hit his chest!). The movie is a masterpiece of suspense and horror, period.
Beyond that, it’s hailed as one of (and often the) best movies of all time. Adjusted for inflation, it is Warner Bros’ highest grossing movie of all time.
My Take: I’ve seen this move at least two dozen times. I first saw it when I was around 12, edited for TV, and even with the cursing and the more explicit scenes cut it still left a last impression. When I saw it uncut as a teenager, I found myself twinging during the scene with the girl and the cross (won’t spoil it here) and still do today. The “version you’ve never seen” that was re-released a few years ago adds a few scenes that make the movie even sicker.
Food and Booze: I usually give recommendations for dinner with your movie, but for this one, forget it. You won’t be able to keep anything down. If anything, have some pea soup.
Warning: Clip is R rated.
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screaming room – I mean the screening room – at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar
Posted on August 12th, 2013 2 comments
It was 25 years ago to the day (August 12) that “Tucker” debuted on the silver screen. I remember seeing that movie with my father, in the theater…we were both huge antique car fans and the mystique of the Tucker wasn’t lost on us. Two hours later we were driving home in his vintage Buick Electra 225, discussing what American cars would have been like if Tucker had succeeded with his dream. Our conclusion: Detroit iron would be 10 to 20 years ahead of its time from 1948 on.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Executive Producer George Lucas
Starring Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landua, Christian Slater, and the 1948 Tucker Torpedo
The Movie: This flick was based on the true-life engineer Preston Tucker, who had a dream to start a new, technologically advanced auto company. Using designs he had been perfecting since before WW2, he managed to secure funding to start the Tucker Automobile Company. 50 Tucker Torpedos were built (plus the prototype), but the company was doomed to failure (you’ll have to watch the movie to learn why).
The Car: As much a character in the film as any of the actors, the 1948 Tucker Torpedo was stylistically and technologically way ahead of its time. The low-slung vehicle utilized a flat airplane, rear-mounted six cylinder engine, giving it a sleeker look than most late ’40s cars, and came standard with safety features like a padded dashboard and seat belts (stuff that wouldn’t be found on most conventional cars until a decade later). It even sported a “Cyclops eye” center headlight that turned with the front wheels. Kookie.
Before this flick hit the screen, Tuckers were rare but still could be bought for around $40k if you could find an owner who wanted to part with it. After the movie, the price shot up to beyond $400k. Today, millionaires use them as toys to trade back and forth with their millionaire friends, usually in the $1.5 Mil range. Jerks.
My Take: The movie itself is very cool, with a great 40s vibe throughout. Unfortunately 1980’s audiences weren’t “hip” to anything vintage, and unless it had a DX-7 doing the soundtrack, got panned. The movie originally grossed a few mil less than it cost, labeling it a flop. But don’t let that deter you from digging this thoroughly enjoyable flick.
Dinner & Drinks: I’m thinking Iron City Beer and burgers for this one. Real workin’ man’s food.
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screening room at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Fort Liquordale, FL