Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Larry Cohen's Bone

Larry Cohen's BONE (aka Housewife) is one of my favorite films. I expected blaxploitation, but instead what I got was an independent film (Cohen's directorial debut) that is a sort of absurdist play on racism and middle class values.  Yaphet Kotto is brilliant in the lead role.  Well, Yaphet Koto is brilliant in everything, but never did his presence show so much range.  And Jeannie Berlin (Elaine May's daughter) is equally as exciting to watch in a smaller part.
Everything about this film is perfect to me: the color, cinematography, script, acting.   The house used in the film was Cohen's actual home at the time.
I suppose there will never be an independent film made quite like this one.  It was the beginning of a long and exciting career for Cohen as writer/director.  My other Cohen picks are the ones that star Michael Moriarty (The Stuff and Q: The Winged Serpent) which are also, in a sense, strange social satires.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Scott Jacoby: International Star!

For your viewing pleasure: A couple of the rarest Scott Jacoby items out there. Foreign edition VHS cover for RIVALS (aka Deadly Rivals), Scott's first feature length starring role. This is the best movie Krishna Shah (The River Niger) ever directed and don't let the bad reviews convince you otherwise. Also stars a young Robert Klein. After his father's death, a young boy competes with her mother's new boyfriend for attention. He will stop at nothing! This horror film includes some of the strangest moments of Scott's career ever. A weird make-out scene with the babysitter, walking on the subway tracks, fighting with punks in Central Park West. Worth seeing alone for the beautifully shot on location scenes of New York City in the 1970's. Add on to that a brilliant soundtrack by the composer Peter Matz (who worked with Liza Minnelli, etc.), and this is a must see.
The second item is a German released single from Scott's only solo album (self-titled LP). Who knew Scott was popular in Germany? The LP has never been released on CD. Other recordings that feature a young Scott singing include a musical version of Dandelion Wine and two other Broadway flops: Cry For Us All and Golden Rainbow. The latter are both available on CD. Scott also read the book on tape (record, actually) for the Newbury award-winning children's book A Door In The Wall.

Der Kerl liebt mich - und das soll ich glauben?

Now available with english subtitles from ModCinema.com

I've wanted to say something intelligent about this film since I hung up the poster in my apartment:

Visually, a 60's era Uschi Glas reminds me of a German version of Anna Karina. But a Godard film this is not. It's more a slapstick comedy/romance. Still, very Mod like decor throughout, a psychedelic disco scene, some funky German architecture. The DVD is part of the Uschi Glas Box set available in Germany, but there aren't any English subtitles. Great fashions throughout the film and the music isn't half bad either.

Also, if anyone reading this happens to know where I can get a copy of this Japanese Uschi Glas album (above) , please let me know.

Marcus Welby: The Acid Test

Marcus Welby fascinates me. He is a family doctor and so much more. I love how he gets involved with every aspect of his patient's lives. How he acts as a friend as well as a professional. In a sense, he views his medical duties in the same way that Angela Landsbury solved mysteries in Murder She Wrote. By looking beneath the surface, by considering all physical and psychological components of the individual's health and life. Marcus Welby is "Father Knows Best", an ideal father figure who you know and love. While his assistant, the motorcycle riding Kiley represents the younger generation, giving the show a younger more hip appeal. Think "The Rookies" as opposed to any cop show that came after it.

I think the psychological component is what makes Marcus Welby a standout for me, seperating it from other medical dramas. The setting is not the hospital. Instead, it is the households of the people he helps. And the doctor is never the main character in the series. The patients are. Each episode focuses on complex problems that combine the medical with the psychological. A closeted gay father attempts suicide, a boy with an alcohol problem learns to face his fears, etc. Each episode stands alone as a movie. I appreciate this forever changing cast of characters.

Anyway, I wish this got an official DVD release because the only episodes I have seen have been those taped off television. *update: Season 1 and 2 now available from Shout Factory). Of course, the reason I discovered the show in the first place was because Scott Jacoby appeared in several of the episodes (as different characters) and I collect pretty much anything that he has appeared in. I even based a comic (the first story in my book Dirtbags, Mallchicks and Motorbikes), loosely, on the Marcus Welby episode "Jake's Okay".

Recently, I read a paperback book in the Marcus Welby Series. #2, The Acid Test. I believe these books are independent of the show, in other words, not novelizations of episodes. It was a good read. The premise involved a college professor, a political science teacher. He gets involved with student affairs and then begins acting irrationally. He believes he is going insane and is afraid that his actions will effect his family. Welby and Kiley try to discover the root of the problem, believing that it is psychological. Eventually though, they discover that the Professor was drugged (LSD in the punch bowl!) which is causing him to have acid flashbacks.
Again, this reminds me of a Rookies episode with Scott Jacoby (the one where he puts acid in hamburgers in the High School lunchroom). Anyway, in retrospect, this subject matter may appear silly...but it isn't. I choose not to view these stories with irony. This was television that dealt with real issues and had stories about real people, rather than just glamour and action. I like the slow pace and moral standards upon which these programs are modeled around.