Monthly Archives: May 2010
I used to have this thing for sixties movies when I was a kid. Don’t ask me why, but I was into hippies and drugs and bikers waaay back then. As you can imagine, when local WPVI channel 6 showed Easy Rider on its Million Dollar Movie Friday nights at 11:30 PM – it was an event for me. I stayed up and marveled at the psychedelic exploits of Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and this shaggy headed rebel named Dennis Hopper. This was the first time I had run into the man. He was a one-liner, comic relief almost, in Rider, but little did I know then that the man co-wrote and directed the flick. And the flick was one of the new wave of youth-oriented films that changed the way Hollywood made movies.
Hopper once again slid into my tunnel vision with his frightening performance in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Nightmarish, charismatic and dangerous – he had a lasting effect. I became a fan, and slowly became aware of his long and storied career.
Dennis Hopper, reputedly one of the bad boys of Hollywood was also one of its new wave of geniuses to come out the late 1960s. His career before Easy Rider was primarily in television and almost stretched back to its beginnings. After lots of TV westerns and some dramas, he jumped to the big screen in 1968 and began a long string of brilliance, whether it was a small part, or larger role in front or behind the camera – Hopper was one of the greats. He seemed to vanish in the 1970s but reemerged quickly in the early 1980s, thanks to roles like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.
After that it didn’t matter what you saw Hopper in, whether it was as the bad guy in Speed or the television series “24,” or in just silly stuff like Space Truckers or Super Mario Brothers – you knew you were going to get a hell of a performance. We have lost a true Hollywood legend in Dennis Hopper, and he will be missed.
Television icon, Gary Coleman, passed away this afternoon. He had tripped and hit his head, which at first seemed like nothing, progressed to unconsciousness, a brain hemorrhage, a coma, and then finally death. He was only 42.
Gary Coleman, an actor since an early age, was a television sensation as the precocious star of the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” in the late 1970s through to the 1980s.
Suffering from kidney problems throughout his life, and stunting his growth as well, he never let it affect his work, always portraying a happy child both on and off the screen. In the eighties he appeared in a variety of projects from made for TV movies to cartoons to lunchboxes. You could hardly go anywhere without hearing his catchphrase, “What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
Sadly as the sitcom lost popularity and was eventually canceled, things turned sour. Along with his co-stars, Todd Bridges and the late Dana Plato, he seemed to be a poster child for child actors unable to make the transition to adulthood. Financial problems, lawsuits and erratic behavior marked his life after celebrity. However you remember Gary Coleman, as TV’s Arnold Jackson, or as gossip page fodder, he will be missed.
Philadelphia radio and television legend Bill Webber passed away this weekend. He was scheduled for heart surgery but died before it could be done. He was 80.
Webber was a fixture on the Philadelphia media scene for over five decades, and never retired. He was a radio disc jockey, television pioneer, talk show host, kids show host, telethon emcee, announcer, nice guy, a giant of a man, and an industry legend. He served for years as an officer in the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1999. He worked in many, if not most of the media outlets in the Philadelphia area.
That would be enough, but on a personal level, I feel like I’ve lost a part of my childhood. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bill Webber doubled as Wee Willie Webber on local channel 17 on weekday afternoons as the host of their children’s programming. Bill Webber was the face that greeted me when I got home from school and filled in the commercial breaks during such life-shaping TV shows like “Speed Racer” and “Ultraman.”
That might sound silly, but when I met the man in person years later – thinner, older and sporting a goatee – Mr. Webber was thrilled to hear that he was remembered so fondly and insisted that I, then a grown man, call him Wee Willie and even imitated Ultraman’s Spacium Ray gesture at me as he walked away. A nice man, and a very cool man. He will be missed by many.
In an attempt to become ‘unburdened’ Paul goes to a ‘soul storage’ company that removes his soul from his body so he can live a happier carefree life. When Paul begins acting inhuman, or shall we say, soulless, he becomes involved in a soul transplant program – and then into a soul smuggling plot.
That’s when the quest begins for Paul to get his soul back. Hilarity ensues, as one would expect, or hope. I just wish it was good hilarity. Like many Giamatti films, this is slow, talky and at times, painful. It wants very badly to be Being John Malkovich but tries too hard.
Cold Souls could have easily been a Woody Allen (oddly enough the film is based on a dream he had) comedy or a Paul Verhoeven scifi thriller – and I really wish it had been.
“Just Like Starting Over” – my comic book review of Avengers #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr., is now online at Avengers Forever.
Thor, Iron Man, the new Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman – they are the newest incarnation of the Avengers. They have only just started to get used to being together when their greatest enemy, Kang the Conqueror, crashes the party… but nothing is as it seems – all this and more – check out my review here:
If you want to discuss this review, this issue or anything Avengers, please check out the Avengers Forever Forum.