Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Puppy Would Have Worked In Reality

SPOILER ALERT: I do not believe in spoiler alerts.

"The Interview" is not exactly "Stripes" without Bill Murray, nor is it quite "Spies like Us" with Chevy Chase, however it is certainly in that set.  Either way it is a cute movie and worth the $5.99 online fee.  The short version: Two bumbling goofs take down a regime.

Don't let the strange descriptions floating around out there scare you.  Some radio show called the scene of Kim Jong-un's demise horrific, or gruesome, or some such.  It is more like the scene where all the Nazis died in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  Kim's face flaps, melts and his body burns in slow motion.
"The Interview" certainly is not borrowed from the true story of any celebrity visiting a brutal dictator, like a Jack Nicholson/Chevy Chase/Oliver Stone/Harry Belafonte/Kevin Costner/Steven Spielberg visit to Fidel Castro, with Kim as a proxy.  Perhaps it is one of those Hollywood twists where it would be nice if what happened in the movie would work in reality.

In reality, the dictators schmooze their celebrity visitors ("honeydicking" in "The Interview"), it works, and the celebrities become animatronic marketing tools for the Hitlers, Stalins, and Maos of the 21st century.

In "The Interview," Kim (Randall Park) gives Dave Skylark (James Franco) a puppy (played by Seth Rogen's dog Zelda) right before they are to go on live television around the world.  It does not work and Skylark's line of questioning leads Kim to cry and poop his pants on international TV.

Apparently the puppy works in reality.
Zelda Miller Rogen
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, December 18, 2014


This time to American theater owners (caution, auto start)

As previously blogged, back in the 1920s and '30s, theater owners had guts.  Chicago's independent movie houses, 150 strong, continued to show movies without knuckling under to the Kim Jong-un of their day, Thomas E. Maloy. Maloy was the boss of the Chicago projectionist union, which had rule that all theaters would hire only their union members and two of them were required in the projection booth.  That requirement was enforced with dynamite, i.e., if a theater did not follow Maloy's union rules, their theater blew up.

For some odd reason, most owners of the theaters and projectors did not see the need for two projectionists, nor did they find enough added value in the union card carrying projectionists to hire them.  At least 13 of their theaters were blown up in 1931 alone, ordered by a disgruntled union boss.

Rather than closing, the theater owners demanded that the police actually protect the property that the citizens were paying them to protect.  And in large part the police did just that.

Fast forward a few decades to the present and we have either a group of disgruntled employees of Japanese owned Sony, a pissy little nation boss, or a combination of both, who threatened to blow up movie theaters in the USA if they showed the film The Interview.  Movie theater chain after movie theater chain cancelled scheduled showings of the movie, without so much as a match lit in the vicinity of their movie houses.

In response to all of this, especially the chicken shit theater owners, Sony decided not to release the movie at all.

It seems like a few things have changed over the decades. The terrorizing thugs don't even need to bother buying dynamite anymore.

On a lighter note, here is the opening of my work in progress documentary for the book Time Bomber:

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chicago Movie Theaters Bombed

Sony Pictures is under fire from a group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" or for the Twitter crowd, #GOP. The GoP is now threatening to physically attack movie theaters that show a particular film, The Interview. An interesting twist, that seems more and more unlikely as time passes, is the rumor that North Korea is behind the release of proprietary Sony data, as well as the threats to theaters.

Another theory is disgruntled employees, which sounds much more plausible and it has plenty of historic precedent. In the movie business, it has a very violent precedent that goes back to at least the 1920s. The book "The Perils of Movie Going: 1896-1950" highlights plenty of incidents.  Full disclosure: I have not read the book, it came up in my research and the index is quite thorough.

One string if incidents was the Movie Union War in late 1920s and early 1930s Chicago, waged by Theater Operators Union boss, Thomas E. Maloy. Numerous movie houses were attacked, with dynamite, in an effort by the movie projectionist union to have two projection operators on every shift. Below are but a few of the headlines:

"Bombs, Bullets, and Blackmail"
"Bombs Burst at Three Movie Theaters"
"Chicago Movie Houses Closed in Union War"

One can even purchase old file photos from newspapers.  This one captured the 13th theater bombed in 1931:

From Haymarket to the Movie House Union War, Chicago has endured the hellish marriage between labor unions and explosives. Later, that shifted when the unions dropped the bombs and political factions like the New Left picked them up. For example, the book and documentary I am working on, Time Bomber, about a 1971/72 bombing plot, had no labor component at all. Neither did the 1975 FALN bombings in The Loop.

With the new threats against theaters, probably by disgruntled employees, it seems the pendulum has swung back to its violent origins.

Opening credits and a tease for Time Bomber the documentary:

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ