The Home of the Creative Mind
Welcome to PooBahSpiel, the online voice and home of the creative mind of Mark Monlux, Illustrator Extraordinaire. Prepare yourself for an endless regaling of art directly from the hand of this stellar artist. And brace yourself against his mighty wind of pontification. Updates are kinda weekly and show daily sketches, current projects, and other really nifty stuff.
Monday, May 23, 2016
I’m sure the title of Little Dead Rotting Hood was meant to appeal to the zombie-loving crowd as well as trying to spin the folk tale of Little Red Riding Hood in a new direction. I know that’s what lured this fish to take the hook. The first five minutes of Little Dead Riding Hood told me that I was set for a world of boredom and disappointment. Be warned, you will need to keep yourself alert; otherwise, you will find yourself yawning through the crucial few minutes of exposition that actually explains what is meant to be going on. As is often the case with a gimmick-titled movie, Little Dead Rotting Hood lacks substance. If you want to see a great horror film with a Red Riding Hood spin, I suggest you watch The Company of Wolves (1984). If you want a straight-to-tape zombie movie that at least won’t bore you to tears, I suggest The Video Dead (1986). Which just goes to show that practical special effects from decades ago can still beat the pants off bad editing and CGI.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Originally slated as a B-movie by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Thin Man was quickly completed in less than two weeks. The film then surprised the studio by becoming a box-office hit. I’d like to remind my readers that Prohibition was repealed on December 5th, 1933. The Thin Man, which features a tremendous amount of drinking, was released in the spring of 1934. A few audiences complained about the excess, but a thirsty country coming off a dry spell waved them off. Perhaps it was this new tolerance that kept the censors from applying their scissors to the innocent innuendo, often ad-libbed, found in the merry banter of a loving, married couple. The true fun ofThe Thin Man is that the main characters of Nick and Nora have such on-screen chemistry that they come across as intoxicating instead of intoxicated. The dialog provides the humor, not the alcohol. The grace of the performers, William Powell and Myrna Loy, made a statement the audience could rally behind. Smart, happy people could indulge and could still be smart, happy people. Now my theory might seem half-cocked. There’s a mountain of reviews about why The Thin Man was a good movie in 1934. But everyone agrees the movie has legs. You will find it just as clever and entertaining today was when it was released.
You might even be inclined to check out its six sequels:
After the Thin Man (1936)
Another Thin Man (1939)
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
Song of the Thin Man (1947)
Monday, May 9, 2016
It Happened One Night was the first movie to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay. Not bad for a film that initially didn’t fare well when it first hit the theaters. It was when it began its round at second-run theaters and small theaters out in the sticks that audiences started attending en mass. There’s a theory that folks who lived in rural areas identified with the settings of bus travel and pop-up roadside cottage inns. It’s said that tickets on Greyhound buses had a bump in sales as a result of the film. But what I want to talk about is how It Happened One Night influenced popular culture. Clark Gable’s character, Peter Warren, talks while filling up his mouth with carrots. Another character who addresses Warren as “Doc” is then asked by Warren if he’s heard of Bugs Dooley. Six years later, these various tidbits would flow into a cartoon character called Bugs Bunny. Moments, lines and scenarios from It Happened One Night have been paid homage in a slew of films and cartoons. It Happened One Night is a fun romp that audiences went crazy for back in the ‘30s, and it’s well worth your time to watch and see how it became the source of so much material used later in film.
Monday, May 2, 2016
Originally, Anthony Burgess released his novel A Clockwork Orange in 1962, well before the Summer of Love. The book was inspired by the published results of a series of scientific experiments exploring social conditioning. Kubrick discovered the book some years later and was both fascinated and inspired by the multiple ideas the novel put forward as how politics would take advantage of social conditioning. When Kubrick’s film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was released in 1971, its portrayal of vicious youth, extreme violence, and political manipulation stuck a nerve. People saw a future they didn’t like. If you place the iconic imagery and the violence aside, A Clockwork Orange still serves as a portent to how political factions do their best to mold the minds of the public. The only catch now is that their methodologies are subtler and far less obvious than the conditioning chair we see in A Clockwork Orange.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Darby O’Gill and the Little People was featured regularly on the weekly television show The Wonderful World of Disney. I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count. It’s a perfect family movie, or at least I thought so when I was a kid. I loved watching Darby and King Brian of the leprechauns engage in their battle of wits—even though I knew how it would always end. Darby O’Gill and the Little People is a wonderful fantasy movie. It captured my imagination and held me enraptured. I think it might have been my first introduction to Irish myth and legends. I never thought it overdid Irish stereotypes. Yes, we knew that Darby preferred spending his time at the pub rather than on the estate. But we always felt it was because that’s where the audience for his leprechaun stories was. Having a bit of a pint was just a lucky happenstance, not a signature of alcoholism. I’ve not seen Darby O’Gill and the Little People in a while. With the slew of newer fantasy films available, I can see how some might have overlooked this now seldom-seen Disney film. Pull it out of the vault and watch it with your family. You will find that it’s much better than a lot of the nanny films sitting on your shelf.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Zardoz is a cult classic. Part of its charm is its fearlessness. Like a man with no rhythm or moves hitting the dance floor just because he loves to dance and screw what anybody else thinks, Zardoz goes for broke on the screen. Embarrassment is not an option. So, it’s not an embarrassment that Sean Connery shows off just how hairy a Scotsman can be in a scarlet loincloth with suspenders and thigh-high boots. It’s not an embarrassment that this fairly decent post-Apocalypse melodrama’s script is slightly overshadowed by sets and costumes that look like they came out of a discothèque designer’s wet dream. It’s an Irish-American production with director John Boorman being given pretty much free rein after the highly successful film Deliverance. While Zardoz did not fare well at the box office or with critics, it did find its audience in the video rental market for those looking for truly unusual and bizarre entertainment. Its cult following has grown so strong that love it or hate it, Zardoz has become entrenched in our culture.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Rashomon is unique on many levels. This film, set in Japan, tells a Japanese story in a very Japanese manner. As far as Japanese audiences were concerned, there was nothing overly remarkable about how the story was told, so Rashomon received a lukewarm reception there. But Director Arika Kurosawa knew that the Japanese were very modest as a culture and was determined to exhibit this unique Japanese take on storytelling to a worldwide audience. Rashomon served as an ambassador of the Japanese film industry and Kurosawa was quickly acknowledged as a respected director throughout the world. Rashomon’s depiction of various, often conflicting, viewpoints has come to be known as the “Rashomon Effect” and is now used extensively in media. Kurosawa’s bold use of light, nature, actors, and editing is so seamlessly structured that audiences are never aware that the reason for so many outside shots was its very limited budget.