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Tag: matt blankman

Say Cheese

Just to show you that some people are more awesomer than others please enjoy the following photo gallery of our pal Matt B through the years.

Carry On.

Million Dollar Movie

One worth seeing…and I bet Matt B will agree with me on this one.

From Pauline Kael:

Melvin and Howard (1980) – This lyrical comedy, directed by Jonathan Demme, from a script by Bo Goldman, is an almost flawless act of sympathetic imagination. Demme and Goldman have entered into the soul of American blue-collar suckerdom; they have taken for their hero a chucklehead who is hooked on TV game shows, and they have made us understand how it was that when something big – something legendary – touched his life, nobody could believe it. Paul Le Mat plays big, beefy Melvin Dummar, a sometime milkman, sometime worker at a magnesium plant, sometime gas-station operator, and hopeful songwriter – the representative debt-ridden American for whom game shows were created. Jason Robards plays Howard Hughes, who is lying in the freezing desert at night when Melvin spots him – a pile of rags and bones, with a dirty beard and scraggly long gray hair. Melvin, thinking him a desert rat, helps him into his pickup truck but is bothered by his mean expression; in order to cheer him up (and give himself some company), he insists that the old geezer sing with him or get out and walk. When Robards’ Howard Hughes responds to Melvin’s amiable prodding and begins to enjoy himself on a simple level and sings “Bye, Bye, Blackbird,” it’s a great moment. Hughes’ eyes are an old man’s eyes – faded into the past, shiny and glazed by recollections – yet intense. You feel that his grungy paranoia has melted away, that he has been healed. With Mary Steenburgen, who has a pearly aura as Melvin’s go-go-dancer wife, Lynda; Pamela Reed as Melvin’s down-to-earth second wife; Elizabeth Cheshire as the child Darcy; Jack Kehoe as the dairy foreman; and the real Melvin Dummar as the lunch counterman at the Reno bus depot. This picture has the same beautiful dippy warmth of its characters; it’s what might have happened if Jean Renoir had directed a comedy script by Preston Sturges. Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto. Universal, color.

Million Dollar Movie

[I’ve wanted to incorporate a regular movie column to the music, art, and food features here at the Banter for more than a minute now, so here goes… My good pal, Matt Blankman, who is mad for movies, will contribute his take, as will some of the other regular Banter contributors. Here’s our debut, cue the lights…Alex Belth]

I’ve spent the last few days enjoying a rare moment of pop culture serendipity which has placed my brain squarely in the 1970s, the decade of my birth. First there’s been Josh Wilker’s fantastic new book Cardboard Gods (which we’ll assume you’re already familiar with to some extent if you’ve been keeping up with the Banter). Josh’s memoir isn’t just largely set in the 1970s, but it’s obviously shaped by it as well, and he sincerely attempts to make sense out of those strange times, how they came to pass and what they meant (and continue to mean) to him.

Soon after seeing Josh do a reading from “Cardboard Gods” last week, I found myself at home watching a new PBS documentary on the John V. Lindsay years (1966-1973) in New York City. To look back at those years now, with clear eyes, one can see many ways that the hope and exuberance of the 1960s gave way to the despair and confusion of the 1970s. How the New Frontier and Great Society faded and left us with gas lines, custom vans, pet rocks and malaise.

Finally, I watched a film from 1971 I’d never seen, The Hospital, which felt like a fictional illustration of so many of the issues present in both the Lindsay doc and Wilker’s book. The Hospital was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who was still enough of a big deal in the early 1970s that he may have been the only screenwriter ever to get his name above the title. Chayefsky’s script was directed by Arthur Hiller, a director who managed to have a lengthy career marked by a number of “big” movies and yet never once seemed to have any discernable personal style. (I’d call him a hack, except he always displayed a knack for comedic timing and knew to trust his script and cast. He may not have been much of an artist, but he wasn’t incompetent.)


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