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PCR #166. (Vol. 4, No. 22) This edition is for the week of May 26--June 1, 2003.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! A few notes, some news and my ten favorite "cult" films. Shall we begin?

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I was shocked at Matt's implication that he was a bigger fan of "Jaws" then I (Re: last issue's "Matt's Rail"---N). Sure, he's been to Martha's Vineyard. But only because he lives right next door! You want to impress me? Move back to Florida and then visit "Amity." Jealous? You bet your ass I am. I swear I'll make it there one day!

Seems like the Lord does work in mysterious ways. When the makers of the film "Bruce Almighty" decided to have the Lord summon Jim Carrey by pager, they did not use the standard movie phone number with a "555" prefix. Turns out that the number used belongs to the cell phone of Dawn Jenkins of Pinellas Park, Florida. Since the film opened, Jenkins has been averaging 20 calls an hour, with most callers asking to speak to God and then hanging up. Wow! And I used to feel bad about dialing 867-5309 and asking for Jenny!

Congratulations to Gus Van Sant, who won the Best Director award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. In a special festival "dispensation," Van Sant's film, "Elephant," also won the Palme d' Or as best film. Normally, a film can only win one award at Cannes so as to spread the glory. "Elephant," which starred non-actors and was mostly improvised, tells a story of a high school tragedy very similar to the one that took place at Columbine High School. On a more humorous note, director Vincent Gallo has vowed to quit making movies after his film, "Brown Bunny," was hooted off the screen by critics and attendees alike. Poor guy........I really liked him in "The Last American Virgin." E! Television viewers have voted "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" as the worst movie sequel of all time. Not only can I think of several that suck more (can we say "JAWS: The Revenge?") but doesn't the fact that it's EPISODE ONE make it the first in the series and not a sequel? Now, if they vote on the worst prequel maybe they'd get my vote. Or maybe not. "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" anyone?

I was watching a great infomercial when it suddenly hit me. I've never seen our own Will Moriarty and chief parrot-head Jimmy Buffet in the same room at the same time! Hmmmmmmm.

Congratulations to Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," who was named outstanding Cartoonist of the Year at the 2003 Rueben Awards The 57th annual award ceremony also named Darby Conley, who's great strip "Get Fuzzy" has been mentioned in these pages before, as best newspaper comic. Curious if PCR pal Denis Lebrun has ever been so recognized? And if the answer is no, why the hell not???

Fans of the late Lenny Bruce have petitioned New York Governor George Pataki to pardon the comedian, who was convicted of obscenity charges in 1964. Petitioners include 25 First Amendment lawyers and entertainers such as Robin Williams, Tom and Dick Smothers and Penn and Teller. In November 1964, Bruce performed at Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village. During his performance, Bruce used more then 100 "obscene" words. Undercover detectives who attended the show testified against Bruce. After mishandling his own appeal, Bruce died of a drug overdose in 1966. For those of you who have never heard the groundbreaking rants of Lenny Bruce, the Trio network will air the only complete performance ever recorded at least 10 times in the month of June, starting on the 2nd. Please watch it and judge for yourself if it's a crime to just speak your mind.

What in the hell is going on in my home state?? Back in issue #98 I commented on the Muslim woman who refused to remove her veil for her driver's license photo. I mentioned many problems wrong with this, the main thing being safely. How in the hell can you drive with everything but your eyes covered? "Gee, officer, I didn't see that semi truck coming up next to me because I have no peripheral vision!" I see she is still suing the state for the RIGHT to get a driver's license. My advice to Ms. Sultanna Freeman now is the same as it was then: DRIVING IS NOT A RIGHT, IT'S A PRIVILEGE! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO OBEY THE LAW THEN GET A FUCKING BICYCLE! Just make sure you don't get your veil caught in the spokes!

Woo hoo! I love it when a challenge is accepted. Below is my list of what I consider "cult" films.........movies I enjoy that very few people may have heard about. I made sure NOT to list anything that was mentioned in the recent Entertainment Weekly listing. Obviously, several of those films ("Rocky Horror Picture Show," "This Is Spinal Tap") would have easily made my list. But since they've already been mentioned, here are the others, in no particular order:

KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE: Possibly one of the funniest films ever made. From the movie being shown in "Feel-a-round," to the "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble" coming attraction; from "Rex Kramer - Danger Seeker" to the hilarious "Enter the Dragon" parody, this movie is non stop funny. Extra points for our friend Tom Bowles being a dead ringer for the evil Dr. Klan! You have my gratitude!
REAL GENIUS/BACHELOR PARTY: A great double feature that I lump together for one reason: Robert Prescott. Prescott was the bad guy in each of these movies - the kiss ass Kent in "Real Genius" and the jealous Cole in "Bachelor Party." I learned in 1987 that Prescott had gone to college outside Philadelphia with one of my fellow theatre managers, Jeff Park. Last thing I saw him in was an episode of "The Sopranos," so it's good to know he's still acting. As for the movies, what can I say. The earliest proof that Val Kilmer and Tom Hanks were no flukes when it came to comedy. Favorite lines: "Genius": "Your mother puts license plates in your underwear?" "Bachelor": a tie - "Look at the cans on that bimbo"/"I just bet my balls..........and shook on it."
DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID: Caught this with Matt at the old Horizon Park theatre. A great idea for a film: take the great actors from the 40's and 50's and script a movie around them. Then add Steve Martin, Rachel Ward and Carl Reiner and sit back and laugh. My favorite scene in the film caused Matt and I to laugh uncontrollably for so long that they threatened to throw us out of the theatre. In a clip from "Johnny Eager," Edward Arnold begins to scold Martin about dating his daughter. "You leave my daughter alone," he yells. "Don't call her, write her or try to see her." To which Martin replies, deadpan, "Can I still use her underwear to make soup?" I almost peed my pants. I think Matt did.
BACKBEAT: A little seen story about two young men from Liverpool who wanted to change the world, Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon. A great look at the birth of the Beatles with the scenes in Hamburg spot on perfect. Stephen Dorff is typically thoughtful as Sutcliffe but it is Ian Hart as Lennon that steals the show.
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE: Between "Sisters" and "Carrie," Brian De Palma decided to team up with Paul Williams and update the classic story of love, music and betrayal. Williams was the evil record executive, Swan. William Finley was the Phantom and the beautiful Jessica Harper played Phoenix, the Phantom's love.
USED CARS: The second film directed by Robert Zemeckis. A comedy that stands alone with Kurt Russell giving one of his best performances EVER. Add Jack Warden as twin brothers and great supporting work from Garrett Graham (who played the outrageous rock star Beef in "Phantom of the Paradise") and the always great Frank McRae and you've got a classic. Funny exchange: "Hell, we even had nuns protesting us. I had to have Jeff turn the firehose on them." "Yeah, and I knocked those mother fuckers on their ass!"
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: Based on a play by David Mamet, basically a story about what happens when a one night stand turns into something more. Stars Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Perkins and the great Jim Belushi. This is the film that convinced me that if a movie was ever made of my life, Belushi would have to play me. My favorite line, delivered by Belushi as he talks to a very bitchy Perkins: "You know what, Joan? If you didn't have a pussy there'd be a bounty on your head!"
THE EXPERTS: Best known as the film that introduced John Travolta to Kelly Preston, this limited release was a lot better then reported. Convinced that the training methods of the Soviet Union are ancient, a KGB agent comes to New York and convinces Travolta and his partner, Ayre Gross, that they are needed to come open a new disco in a small American town. Extra points for the inclusion of "Real Genius" alum Deborah Foreman. She was the one who asked Val Kilmer if he could "nail a six-inch spike through a two by four" with his penis. I also loved her in "Valley Girl," which almost made this list.
BILLY JACK: Come on! Everyone loves "Billy Jack." Though I was puzzled that a pacifist like Billy Jack did nothing but kick ass, I thought this movie was the greatest thing ever made when I saw it. Basically a family project, star Tom Laughlin directed under an alias and the film starred his wife, Delores Taylor. Also remembered for not only the song "One Tin Soldier" but for an early appearance of the Howard Hessman led comedy troupe, The Committee. Extra credit for the marketing approach Laughlin developed. Rather then have the studio and theatre companies book the film, Laughlin "four walled" the picture. That means that he rented theatre auditoriums for a set price and then kept all of the profits. Smart guy. Much smarter then that damn Bernard, who drove his Corvette into the lake.
THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE: A big movie with a big following. In California, they run midnight shows similar in style to "Rocky Horror." Everyone dresses up as their favorite character and they act out the film in front of the screen. Not sure if they have anyone drop from the ceiling. This film, and "JAWS," cemented my friendship with Matt. When things got boring during P.E., Matt would hang on the uneven bars and recite, word for word, Gene Hackman's last speech. When he screamed, "Take Me!" he would then flop onto the mat as if he had just dropped into the water. Pretty funny to watch. Guess you had to be there.
Well, that's it for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.