Trailer Trash

Trailer Trash — Arthur, Source Code, and Hop

I don’t have time to go to the movies much any more. So instead I’m going to just review some new and upcoming films based solely on their trailers. Because let’s face it, most movies only have about two or three minutes’ worth of good material anyway.


Ah Hollywood, always perfectly tuned into the needs and feelings of American moviegoers. I can imagine that with unemployment still rampant and people scraping by just to keep from getting kicked out of their homes in record numbers, there’s nothing people want to see more than a feel-good comedy about a spoiled — and possibly mentally challenged — man-child (Russell Brand) flaunt his wealth for a few hours. Oh, but he’s really a good guy so I guess it’s OK. Whatever.

I never got around to seeing the original Arthur with Dudley Moore, and I will probably never see this one either. I didn’t laugh once during this trailer, even though the idea of donning the Bat-suit and tooling around in the Batmobile is pretty cool.

Source Code

Combine a dash of The Matrix, a pinch of Total Recall, and a huge friggin’ fistful of Memento and I guess you get Source Code. Jake Gyllenhaal has to relive the last eight minutes of some dead guy’s life over and over in order to figure out who exploded a bomb aboard a train in Chicago and to help prevent an even bigger attack, but instead he falls in love with a woman (Michelle Monaghan) and wants to spend taxpayer money to save her. Even though she’s already dead. And even though I’m guessing she’s either the mastermind of the first train bombing or otherwise linked in some way that will rock Gyllenhaal’s world during a dramatic, slo-mo reveal scene. Yawn.


Telling me this movie is from the creators of Despicable Me doesn’t make me want to see it. Telling me this movie is directed by the same guy who did Alvin and the Chipmunks most definitely doesn’t make me want to see it. Those are ugly, CGI abominations, and Hop looks like one too. And making the Easter Bunny — sorry, E.B. — sound like the Geico gecko doesn’t really help either (thanks again, Russell Brand). Oh look, he poops jelly beans, har har! *head slap*

OK, maybe adding David Hasselhoff helps. A little. But mostly this thing looks like complete dreck, cynically targeted at families. Naturally this means it will pull in at least $150 million.

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Here’s some stuff I enjoyed this week

Here’s a fresh batch of some quality interweb finds I’ve come across over the last 7 days:

  • Cool bootleg of the week: Chicago at Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, NY), May 20, 1977. There are two interesting things concerning this show. It was less than a year before Terry Kath‘s accidental suicide and the band is introduced by an up-and-coming reporter named… Geraldo Rivera! (T.U.B.E.)
  • Yoga for Black People (YouTube)
  • Awesomely bad stock photos/graphics of people literally surfing the web. (The Hairpin)
  • Another blistering attack upon so-called NFL writer and hypocrite Peter King. (Deadspin)
  • Whatcha thinkin’ bout? (Know Your Meme)
  • Five Hollywood Secrets that explain why so many movies suck, none of which mention Kate Hudson oddly enough. (Cracked)
  • Five seconds of every #1 song ever (Buzzfeed)
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Road House 2: Last Call (2006) DVD cover

Back by Unpopular Demand: 6 Pointless Film Sequels

Road House 2: Last Call (2006) DVD cover

The word ‘sequel’ comes to us from the Latin word ‘sequi’, which translates as ‘follow’.  It’s also closely related to the Latin word ‘sequela’, meaning ‘a disease or condition which is caused by an earlier disease or problem’.  Given the glut of needless and tiresome sequels produced by Hollywood throughout the years, I think the second translation is the more relevant one.

The list of high-profile cinematic sequels that can’t hold the jock strap of the beloved originals is fairly long indeed (Godfather III, any of the last three Star Wars entries, The Next Karate Kid, Batman & Robin, and Caddyshack II come to mind immediately), but what about the ones that passed virtually unnoticed like so many silent farts?  Do they not stink just as badly?  Why yes, yes they do.   Hold your nose and check out this sampling of six totally pointless movie sequels.

Road House 2: Last Call (2006)

Road House 2 DVD cover

Pain don’t hurt, but watching this piece of crap sure do.  Like most direct-to-landfill cash grabs, Last Call is related to its predecessor in name only.  The lead character, a DEA agent named Shane Tanner, is supposedly the son of Dalton — the immortal cooler portrayed by the late Patrick Swayze in the 1989 original.  Tanner ends up in Louisiana to avenge someone or other, and ends up taking over a seedy bar called the Black Pelican.  There’s drug running, natch, and Tanner butts heads with Black Pelican cooler Bill “Wild Bill” Decarie.  In a brilliant bit of casting, Decarie is played by none other than the immortal Jake Busey, who proves he’s no Ben Gazzara.  Sh-boom!

Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective (2009)

Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective (2009) DVD

What Kidz Bop is to music this movie is to, well, Ace Ventura movies.  Apparently all it takes to establish oneself as the chubby progeny of the Jim Carrey character is the ability to utter his trademark “Allllrighty then!” catchphrase in a manner that’s kind of vaguely reminiscent of the original.  And hey, did you know there’s another Cusack sibling?  I didn’t either, but her name is Ann.

WarGames: The Dead Code (2008)

WarGames: The Dead Code (2008) poster

It seems pretty obvious that the creative juice behind the Road House and Ace Ventura brands was already exhausted after the first films, but WarGames coulda been a contender.  Technology’s come a long way since the days of Matthew Broderick and his super-powered floppy drives, and a new movie could’ve told a compelling story with fresh insight.  Instead, the screenwriters decided to just play Mad Libs with the original and turned in the uninspired Dead Code.

You remember the original story, right?  A computer-savvy teen wants to play a top-secret game, only it turns out to be a gateway into an automated government war computer.  The computer goes apeshit and decides to start a real war, only to be thwarted by the kid and his plucky sidekick.  Pretty cool huh?

Yeah, that’s also the plot for The Dead Code.  Oh, but the supercomputer is named Audrey instead of WOPR, so it’s totally a new movie!  And they even brought back the Prof. Falken character for a bit, so he can reactivate WOPR with the same friggin’ password Matthew Broderick used almost 30 years ago.  The only winning move is not to watch.

It Runs in the Family/My Summer Story (1994)

It Runs in the Family (aka My Summer Story) DVD cover

While it seems impossible to think of any Christmas season being complete without watching A Christmas Story at least once, the film wasn’t universally loved when it was released in 1983.  Only when it became an HBO staple in the mid-’80s did audiences start to warm up to it, and of course now its place in the pantheon of great holiday movies is secure.  So it makes some sense that a sequel of sorts didn’t appear until a decade later.

Originally titled It Runs in the Family (now known as My Summer Story), the film had some of the right ingredients.  Like A Christmas Story, it was based on the work of Jean Shepherd (who narrates once again), and it followed the exploits of Ralphie Parker and his family.  But it just wasn’t the same.  For one, Kieran Culkin’s Ralphie doesn’t have the same earnest charm of Peter Billingsley’s. But overall the whole thing just feels like a pale imitation of the original, right down to the recycled soundtrack.  Trading Darren McGavin for Charles Grodin doesn’t help the cause either.

The movie was a flop by any standard (grossing less than $100,000), and is now all but forgotten.  I only happened upon it by chance when it briefly hit the cable movie network circuit soon after its release.

They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970)

They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970) movie poster

I’m guessing that not a lot of people from my generation are familiar with Sidney Poitier’s groundbreaking role in the acclaimed 1967 crime drama In the Heat of the Night (which later became a TV series co-starring Archie Bunker).  Fewer still probably know that Poitier’s Virgil Tibbs character appeared in not one, but two sequels.  The first was 1970’s They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!, which got its name from the famous quote from the first movie.  While Heat is considered a landmark film for its exploration of institutional racism in the Deep South, Tibbs! is more or less a by-the-numbers crime story.  A prostitute is murdered in the opening scene (it took fewer than five minutes for boobs to make their appearance, which I appreciated), a high-profile preacher (Martin Landau) is accused of the deed, and Virgil Tibbs is on the case.  Meh.  An equally forgettable third entry, The Organization, was released in 1971.

On the plus side, the film sports a super-funky soundtrack by Quincy Jones, giving the film a much different feel than Heat.  Partly because of that it gets lumped in with the wave of Blaxploitation films that were ubiquitous in the first half of the ’70s.  In reality, though, it shares more in common with other gritty crime dramas of the era like Dirty Harry (which just happened to also take place in San Francisco).

Mannequin Two: On the Move (1991)

Mannequin Two: On the Move (1991) poster

I know what you’re thinking — How could they possibly hope to improve on the subtle wit and abundant charm of Mannequin?  They couldn’t.  Not even Herman from Herman’s Head could lift this retread of the 1987 original.   And poor, poor Meshach Taylor, forced to reprise his role as Hollywood Montrose.  I can’t quite make out what that word bubble says in the movie poster, but I’m pretty sure it’s “Kill me now. For the love of God, kill me now.”

On the other hand, Mannequin Two does feature the greatest go-cart chase scene since The Toy.

Scenes from the WGA strike

Most of the picket signs I’ve seen during the two-week-plus WGA strike have been pretty uninspired. But if you look closely enough you can spot some real keepers:

I think Jesse floats through the air when cameras are near, like the old Looney Tunes bits where a character would drift towards a freshly baked pie.


Julia Louis Dreyfus at the WGA writer's strike picket line

I’m surprised Jerry Seinfeld didn’t use this space for another friggin’ Bee Movie ad.

Tina Fey at the WGA writer's strike picket line

Yes, we know Tina.


Two and a Half Men writers at the WGA writer's strike picket line

A rare moment of intellectual honesty from Hollywood.

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Send me a postcard, drop me a line…

The postcard has become a lost art; a quaint relic of the past. Oh sure, you can still find quantities of them in those spinning metal racks in any airport gift shop. But who really uses them for their intended purpose anymore? Quick – how much postage does it take to send a postcard in the US? Exactly.

I came across these postcards at an antiques show a few years ago. Sure, I like to look at all the nice antique furniture and jewelry. And the old books and china are nice. But postcards are where you can really get a glimpse into the past. And since they’re not old letters, you don’t feel like you’re prying.

Of course, I like old postcards for more esoteric reasons. I love looking at the cars, the architecture, the outfits and even the old fonts and signs. So many people use the word ‘nostalgia’ in a pejorative sense, but not me. I don’t live in the past, but I sure do like to visit there. And what better way than through postcards? So let’s go! (Click on the pics for larger versions. Apologies for the sub-par scans)

(By the way, it costs 23 cents to mail a postcard as of this writing.)

Sheraton San Cristobal

Looks like any ordinary hotel from the 1970s, no? It is, but this Sheraton is in San Cristobal, Chile. In 1976, Rina and Arthur Rolfo stayed here, and wrote home to New York.  The hotel and Chile both got rave reviews, which is nice for them.

Sheraton San Cristobal

The San Cristobal Sheraton is still around. The exterior hasn’t changed too much, but just enough. Can’t say I agree with ditching the awning over the entrance.

Back in the friendly confines of the U.S. of A, our next stop is the Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, NY. The postcard bills it as “The All Year – All Sports Resort.” Apparently they decided to advertise this fact with a photograph featuring the timeless sport of Small Talk. This appears to be the grand staircase for a ballroom of some sort. And man, is it ever Swanky with a capital S.

Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, NY

I love the mishmash of decorating styles present here – we’ve got what look like sound-dampening acoustic tiles in the back, bowling alleys fastened to the walls, giant, gold painted sconces with more sharp edges than are now allowed by Federal law, a sweet dancing water fountain and what must be the only piece of pastel modern art in existence at the time. And unless my eyes are deceiving me, the same man is simultaneously courting four different women. Hey, even men with super powers need a little R&R from time to time.

The hotel is still around as part of The Concord Resort & Golf Club. Something tells me the fountain is gone.

Next up on our trip is good ol’ Sin City itself.

Fabulous Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas

Fabulous Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas

Hey, another Rolfo sighting! Rose picked up this postcard of the Fabulous Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1960. It is postmarked Baker, California – home of the world’s tallest thermometer! I wonder what the “French floor show” was. Can-Can? Burlesque? Jerry Lewis striptease? Even more cryptic is the “all you need is that green stuff” line. Money for the dancers perhaps? Bok choy for Rose’s Chinese vegetable collection?

Rose and Arthur, jet-setters that they are, spent some time at the Americana in Miami Beach in July of 1966. And although they still found time to write to Delfina back home, they were probably having such a grand time they only managed a few lines. Interestingly, this is the third different way the recipient’s name has been spelled. Not sure what that means.

Americana in Miami Beach Americana in Miami Beach

Dateline: Chicago, IL, July 29, 1964. Beatlemania hits Sweden, while Rolfomania hits the Windy City. Dina writes a pleading missive to Delphine, practically begging her to write or visit. Perhaps Dina was the black sheep of the family?

Chicago postcard Chicago postcard

This next entry in the Rolfo travelogue is a beauty – The East End Motel in Madison, Georgia. This probably looked like any of the hundreds of motels of the late 1950s, although the East End had much to recommend itself. Adjacent to the motel was the East End Drive Inn restaurant. Nothing about the cuisine is listed, but apparently they had “Clean Rest Rooms!”

The East End Motel in Madison, Georgia The East End Motel in Madison, Georgia

If those gas pumps are still around, they probably command a hefty price tag on the collectors market. I couldn’t find any reference this establishment online, which probably means that the vacancy listed on the neon sign out front is permanent.

Rose stopped by the posh NBC studios in Hollywood in 1958. From the look of the cars, I’d guess the photo was taken sometime just after World War II. Rose apparently loved the studios so much she just couldn’t bear the thought of returning home.

NBC studios in Hollywood NBC studios in Hollywood

The “Pray For Peace” postmark on this is rather curious; was there an armed conflict of some sort taking place in 1958 in Hollywood that I haven’t heard about? Writers’ strike perhaps?

The “Greetings From…” line of cards is probably what a lot of people conjure up in their minds when they think of vintage postcards. This Los Angeles entry in the series was sent from Bill Primak to Arthur Rolfo in 1946. Bill expresses regret at missing his friend earlier. I wonder if he did get to see Arthur again, as promised?

Greetings From Los Angeles Greetings From Los Angeles

Back to the Windy City we go! Let’s grab a bite to eat in the place with the happiest chairs in the Midwest – the Oriental Gardens! I can only imagine what kind of acts I could watch on stage while supping on my noodles and snow peas. Probably mellow big-band jazz of some sort during the afternoon, swing at night. The Oriental Gardens was supremely confident in itself, stating that “You miss the most important point of interest if you fail to visit.” Well, I’m sold! All I have to do is pick up the phone and call State 4596 for reservations. Care to join me?

Oriental Gardens, Chicago

Back on the Eastern Seaboard, we take a stop in the nation’s capital. Schneider’s Cafe was established in 1886, and claims to be as well-known as the Washington Monument. Schneider’s specialty was ‘SEA FOOD’ (say that three times quickly). For some reason, the front of the café puts me in mind of a vintage firehouse. I do dig the green awnings, however. Schneider’s is no longer with us, and I think the urban decline of Washington, DC can be directly attributed to the lack of a decent seafood joint in town.

Schneider's Cafe

Out last stop is our most surreal. Few things show up less attractively in photographs than meat, but that didn’t phase the owners of The Steak Joint, Inc. They have conveniently provided you with a visual aid on steak preparation, so you can decide how you want your slab o’ meat prepared. I can’t decide myself. Bloody and moldy looks good, but so does bruised in the middle. On the other hand, leathery is not without its benefits. No sir, I think I’ll go for fossilized. Mmmm mmmm that’s good gnawing!

The Steak Joint, Inc. postcard

The Steak Joint, Inc.

I think the guy on the back is the same one from the Community Chest cards in Monopoly, sans mustache and spats. Had your fill of meat? Just ask the waiter to “Wrap The Leavings.” On second thought, I just lost my appetite.