I was able to sit down for a couple of years and pump out a book. It’s got little to do with movies. Download and read “Thank You, Goodnight” right HERE for free.
And now, you can follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp
Item #1 - HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THE WORLD
For those of us who love Bruce Lee’s influence on modern Asian cinema you’ve probably seen many incarnations of program in some form or another. Like an 80’s DJ who is ultimately limited by the fact that there is a finite number of tracks they can play, there seems to have been so much overlap with footage we’ve seen with regard to the man who was wickedly charismatic and destined for far more than we were given.
Thankfully, as I watched HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THE WORLD, I was treated to something far more than just a documentary. It’s a retrospective, a tribute, to the man who sat on a talk show talking about water and tea pots in a way that communicated everything he was about: intensity, passion and philosophy. The program, even though it includes interview footage from folks ranging from Brett Ratner to RZA who compares Lee almost to a deity, looks to couch Lee’s influence in today’s marketplace.
Sure, not everyone rocking posters of Enter the Dragon on their walls can really appreciate what Bruce brought into the sphere of the martial arts but how his presence in films opened the door to so many performers and projects. While the documentary lacks some real dynamic qualities (the Rush Hour vibe having Chan and Ratner both contribute to this make it a little uneven and not everything flows together as interspersed film clips and interviews make for a little jarring experience) this is overall a very good modern take on what Bruce Lee meant to the world of entertainment and the martial arts.
HISTORY™ PRESENTS AN ABSORBING, BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT A MARTIAL ARTS LEGEND AND INTERNATIONAL ICON
Gain fascinating new insight into the life of the Bruce Lee, as HISTORY™ presents HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THE WORLD , a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the martial arts superstar and international icon. An intimate, feature-length portrait of the man who popularized martial arts around the world like no other, this compelling profile goes from the sets of his classic Kung Fu films to the confines of his Dojo and is enlivened with rare home movies and in-depth interviews with martial artists such as Chuck Norris, filmmakers such as John Woo, Ang Lee and Quentin Tarantino and co-stars, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who faced Lee in the memorable blockbuster Enter the Dragon.
Item #2 - ART OF WAR
Some of you may know of Sun Tzu’s Art of War from its many incarnations from how it plunder’s Tzu’s theories on warfare and misappropriated them for self-help books all the way to manuals on how to get ahead in business. These derivative works are appallingly poor interpretations for what is, really, a how-to on using philosophy and intelligence to win battle.
I don’t begrudge people looking for a way to apply almost 2,500 years-old techniques to out-playing and out-thinking your opponent but we’ve come a long way since then and I’m amazed that no one has taken this man’s life and made it a film. To that end, however, is this brilliant disc that runs over an hour and a half and brings to modern living color the very things that made this man legendary. This careful recreation of Sun Tzu’s life, to its extrapolation of his ideas to the modern conflicts of WWII, Vietnam and the Civil War illustrate why he is still talked about as the man who was one of the first to crystallize the chaos of the battlefield. This program finally puts a visual twist on a story that is well over two millenniums old.
Skip the books, buy this instead.
THE TRUE STORY OF HISTORY’S ULTIMATE VICTORY MANUAL
Sun Tzu was the Nostradamus of warfare, and his book Art of War, written 2,400 years ago, is still the ultimate how-to book for winning. This feature-length special brings his words to life. Shot like a graphic novel, ART OF WAR weaves together several epic stories, including the story of Sun Tzu himself, and a war soon after his death where a city is saved using his tactics as China takes the first step toward unification. The program also follow other epic battles in history — Roman battles, The Civil War, WWII, and present day — that illustrate more of Sun Tzu’s lessons, to detail how the people who understand his strategy are the most dangerous weapons of all. And while his ideals were originally created for battle, his lessons could be used by anyone who wants to win –whether at sports, business, or life.
Item #3 - FIGHTING GIVEAWAY
Who here wants to win a movie?
A little film that came out this year, and led us to the leading man that would surprise a lot of fans of G.I. Joe, Channing Tatum blazes on the screen with his two fists of lethal weaponry and a huckster in Terrence Howard who channels that brutality for fun and profit can now be yours.
Shoot me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com and let me know if you want a copy that will no doubt make your Friday night with the boys all that more enjoyable.
Editorial description from Amazon.com:
The last thing you might expect from a movie called Fighting is excellent acting, but that’s what you’ll get. A scam artist named Harvey (Terrence Howard) sees a young would-be hustler named Shawn (Channing Tatum, Step Up, Stop-Loss) in a street scuffle and lures him into a no-rules fighting circuit. Shawn’s relentless drive to win leads him to unexpected success, but when he gets put into a big fight with a professional boxer, Harvey asks Shawn to take a dive. The plot sounds like a thousand boxing movies, but the difference is all in the texture. Fighting takes place in a very real New York City, with cramped, make-shift apartments, cluttered streets, and seedy nightclubs. Scenes get knocked sideways by odd bits of life and character quirks that feel organic, not shoehorned in by some clever screenwriter. There’s a marvelous scene where Shawn is trying to woo the Puerto Rican waitress he’s smitten with (Zulay Henao, Feel the Noise), but they keep getting interrupted by her suspicious mother–which sounds like a rom-com cliche, but is completely transformed by the wonderfully human interplay among the actors. Howard has always had a magnetic talent, but Tatum reveals an engaging vulnerability that contrasts nicely with his big-slab-of-beefcake look. The movie hearkens back to 1970s classics like Midnight Cowboy and Dog Day Afternoon, and though it doesn’t achieve the same emotional heights, it’s reaching in the right direction. Writer/director Dito Montiel (whose previous film, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, also featured Tatum) promises to make some truly memorable movies. –Bret Fetzer
Item #4 - ULTIMATE COLLECTIONS: WORLD WAR II: THE WAR IN EUROPE AND THE PACIFIC
I could stay awake for days on end watching clips from World War II.
I haven’t an idea why this war, not World War I, not Vietnam, not the Civil War, has endured in our pop culture experience in the form of films and shows but I am glad that movies like INGLORIOUS BASTERDS continue to mine this struggle against the ultimate bad guys in black, red and beige: the Nazis.
This jam packed collection of footage from the front is unbelievably riveting when you consider how detached we’ve become as a society with regards to how we conduct our modern warfare in the public sphere. With reporters not allowed to reveal this, take pictures of that, this era is wonderfully captured with the documentary style that helps couch pivotal battles in terms everyone can understand. I found myself appreciating the moments that really did change history and this lush collection couldn’t be more timely as the 70th anniversary of D-Day is right around the corner.
Hollywood, you’re on notice, there are a few gems here that haven’t yet been made into films. Get on that…
JUST IN TIME FOR THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY COMES A NEW, VALUE-PRICED EDITION OF THE BEST-SELLING WWII ULTIMATE COLLECTION — FOUR DVDs FILLED WITH OVER 6 HOURS OF MUST-HAVE WAR-TIME PROGRAMMING
World War II encompassed some of America ’s greatest triumphs and most bitter defeats. And, in time to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-day comes the new, value-priced ULTIMATE COLLECTIONS: WORLD WAR II: THE WAR IN EUROPE AND THE PACIFIC, a comprehensive and intimate survey of this epic war offering over 6 hours of stunning war-time programming across 4 DVDs.
First, take a commanding view of the battles and strategy, the men and machines, and the horror and heroism in eight documentaries that chronicle THE WAR IN EUROPE:
THE GREATEST CONFLICT
NORTH AFRICA… THE DESERT WAR
THE BEACHHEAD AT ANZIO
D-DAY… THE NORMANDY INVASION
PURSUIT TO THE RHINE
THE BOMBER OFFENSIVE: AIR WAR IN EUROPE
THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
THE BATTLE OF GERMANY
Then, experience the drama and intensity of World War II’s turbulent Pacific Theater through extraordinary footage and intense expert commentary with seven documentaries that comprise THE WAR IN THE PACIFIC:
ISLAND HOPPING: THE ROAD BACK
JUNGLE WARFARE: NEW GUINEA TO BURMA
AIR WAR IN THE PACIFIC
THE BLOODY RIDGES OF PELELIU
THE RETURN TO THE PHILIPPINES
OKINAWA… THE LAST BATTLE
ADMIRAL WILLIAM “BULL” HALSEY: NAVAL
INTERVIEW - BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT
When I bought Bobcat Goldthwait’s “Meat Bob” back in 1988 on cassette it was one the very first comedy albums I owned. I put Bobcat up there with Eddie Murphy and George Carlin but, here’s the funny part, I never bought Bob’s shtick. Yeah, he absolutely used that voice that made him famous as Zed in those POLICE ACADEMY and plundered that character for all it was worth but his comedy was brutally funny and honest. To wit, he has a bit in his set where he gives a glimpse of what it’s like to be a comedian. It’s subtle but you can hear how people’s perceptions of him shapes his comedy and it leads into a wicked joke that concerns a monkey, an alcoholic beverage and genitalia. You can hear his honesty, you can feel his true self and it’s what attracted to me to the guy’s work for over two decades.
He broke onto the film scene with SHAKES THE CLOWN, a work that some would say set his career back to the times of Cecil B. DeMille, a movie that defied normal comedic conventions and a series of late night show appearances that would help further ensure his disappearance from pop culture entirely. A funny thing happened on the way to irrelevance, however. Bob came back with a real zeal to stay working. And he has. With directorial turns for Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel’s The Man Show and keeping high powered friends close to him, Bobcat raged back to the screen with 2006’s SLEEPING DOGS LIE, a deeply dark comedy that was critically well-received.
Now, he’s back with an equally well-received film in WORLD’S GREATEST DAD. Starring long tine friend Robin Williams as a father who seems at a loss at how to deal with his roustabout son the film deals with some rather heady and mature themes that are wrapped up in some extremely dark and sharp comedy. Bobcat took some time to talk to me as he talked about his experience making his latest hit. In an era of bad comedians Bobcat had his own voice, literally, and it was a thrill to be able and talk to the man most actors now refer to as director.
CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Thanks for doing this interview. I’m going to go out on a geek limb and tell you that I dug out my cassette of Meat Bob that I’ve had since the 80’s and revisited that and your old HBO comedy special which I still had on VHS tape…
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Wow. You got any betamax in there too?
CS: No but I will say that it’s amazing to me that there is such a difference between your comedy back then and now and I know from reading other interviews that you are not that big of a fan of getting on the road because people want to see the gimmicky Bobcat. I don’t know. I remember as a kid listening to Meat Bob and hearing that real comedian in there.
GOLDTHWAIT: Just recently I’ve jettisoned to character so when I go up on stage for the first time and now I’m having fun doing stand up again and I know the people are there and they expect that but I just couldn’t do it anymore. I just had to do what was coming out of me.
CS: Tell me about the film. I had a chance to watch it last night and I honestly think it’s one of Robin Williams’ greatest performances because it is so subdued and it kind of ties together with Robin Williams not having to do Robin Williams. It seemed like the genuine actor that won the Oscar for his performance. Were you intimidated at all? I know you two have been friends…
GOLDTHWAIT: I was not intimidated until the day before we went to film and then I really was thinking things like, “Is he really going to listen to me?” And then he would say, “Hey, I won an Academy Award and you were in Hot to Trot so we’re going to do it my way.” But it ended up not being that situation at all it was the two of us coming up with the character together and making decisions together. We did this as a team together.
CS: And the material itself, as a parent myself I am sensitive to how parents see their children and want to them to think that they are great people and the son doesn’t see that. Did you find when you were writing this that some of your own issues as a parent spilled out on the page?
GOLDTHWAIT: If that’s true, I’ll see it later on. But I just think it’s weird that if you have a kid in a movie they are supposed to be one way. If you have a kid and he’s evil then he becomes a demonic character. But there are just some kids that are not good people and they are not the ultimate evil but just not giving back to society and that’s Kyle’s deal. I always thought when this guy grew up he would be some stoner mooching off his parents.
CS: And Robin, himself, he’s a sympathetic character. I felt downright sorry for the guy. He’s trying to make good decisions, do the right thing. Explain to me the idea of the character, the twists of the film come in later, but what launched his character. Was it Robin himself? Or was it the twist that came and you thought that would be a good premise for a movie so let’s build around that?
GOLDTHWAIT: Actually the end of the movie came to me first. I wanted a guy you might empathize with but I didn’t want a guy you felt bad for. I wanted a guy, I knew a guy growing up who says no to unhealthy relationships (cue Dr. Phil). But then I thought that sometimes people have unhealthy relationships with people of the opposite sex but sometimes people have unhealthy relationships with their children or other people so I didn’t want it to be a relationship comedy/drama. It would have been misogynistic. So then I made a movie where is seemed I hate teenagers.
CS: It’s not such a bad thing.
GOLDTHWAIT: No, it’s not. You know what? In Hollywood everything is made for teenagers.
CS: Well, that’s the thing. Their money is good and they get everything pitched to them and catered to them and honestly, they should go through a period where they don’t get what they want.
GOLDTHWAIT: When I was a kid I would go see Woody Allen movies and he would make references to things that I wasn’t even exposed to. He made a Costco reference and that’s how I became exposed to Costco. And even Mel Brooks made movies aimed toward adults and now they are aimed for 12 and 13 year old. That’s really setting the bar low.
CS: And you bring that up in an interview where you are doing stand up you have to pitch it to that lowest common denominator but talk about how the film allows you to not have to pitch it that way.
GOLDTHWAIT: When you are doing stand up you have time to entertain and keep the dumbest guy in the room amused for 45 minutes. And with movies, it’s a different crowd to begin with that’s coming because they researched it and they already have an idea. They still probably heckle movies but the dummy would be bored and probably leave. But I’ve jokingly said that the movie is available on VOD so 4 people can show up late and sit next to you when you are watching the movie and they text and talk all during the movie. And, they talk to the screen.
CS: I don’t understand the behavior.
GOLDTHWAIT: I think it’s what we are talking about – the sense of entitlement and the inability that their actions affect other people. They are just exposed to everything. We are becoming a culture with no consideration of couth.
CS: Did you find that growing up with your own kids that they fell into that or were you aware of it before this movie came into your own head that there is this thing out there and you had to fight against it?
GOLDTHWAIT: No, it was more of my day to day exposure to the general public that made me realize that a sense of entitlement has really increased in our culture.
CS: You could put that into celebrities as well.
GOLDTHWAIT: Sure. But you know the role of celebrities at this point is really funny. In order to be a celebrity you have to have the ability to stand in line, among other things. We could just point a camera at anybody or anything and they become a celebrity. I’m not bitter but it’s just strange. And when I was a kid growing up we were afraid that big brother would be spying with all the new technology and that’s not what happened at all. We just spy on each other. We can’t wait for each other to trip up and then post it and blog about it.
CS: Right. We are just a culture of navel gazers. We want to tell everyone what’s going on with us.
GOLDTHWAIT: It is a very strange time.
CS: I love that about the film. You do kind of hint at it but it’s you know what, you don’t get what you want. A lot of kids have never been said no to.
CS:And there’s got to be that person that says, “You can’t get what you want”, “You can’t have everything.”
GOLDTHWAIT: Yes. And that’s the really bad thing that happens as a parent. I was never really too concerned about being my daughter’s friend as she grew up. I was just hoping we were raising a kid that wouldn’t be a jerk when she grew up.
CS: Did she turn out OK?
GOLDTHWAIT: I think she’s OK.
CS: Shifting it back to the film, I apologize for getting off on that, but the sort of do it yourself way you’ve done this – you, both films, you commented about having to create it and do it yourself and no one was cutting you any breaks and no one was cutting you any big checks, how was it to mount up and say, I want to do this film with Robin and I want to get it made and put rubber to the road and actually making it – was that ever daunting? Was it ever not going to get started or was it a go as soon as Robin signed on?
GOLDTHWAIT: There were two different companies came to me and said we were trying to make changes and I actually walked away from these two deals that were in place. They proceeded to tell people in LA that I was crazy and that the movie wasn’t going to get made but honestly it was nothing I was ashamed of. I already have plenty of that.
CS: You say that but there is a core of us that believe that even the most embarrassing things are still great works, especially when you look at Shakes the Clown and Sleeping Dog Lie. You’ve done so much work with The Man Show.
GOLDTHWAIT: I’m not embarrassed of all my work.
CS: What are you getting from people who have seen this film? Are you getting people who are expecting something wacky or goofy out of Robin and then getting something completely different? Or do they know exactly what they’re getting?
GOLDTHWAIT: That’s what’s happening with this movie. I don’t blame folks for having expectations for thinking it’s going to be one kind of comedy. Robin and I are both happy with the way people are enjoying it.
CS: This being your second well received movie in three years, are you learning as you go along? I was amused that Hot to Trot gave you inspiration saying that well, if this jerkoff can do it, I can do it.
GOLDTHWAIT: I am in a learning curve and I am trying to get better each time. I try not to take myself too serious. I do take making movies very serious but we do have a good time making them.
CS: How is writing for you? Do you write with friends in mind?
GOLDTHWAIT: No. I just write trying to get the story out.
CS: I know that the movie is centers around doing what make yourself happy, doing what you want to do. Looking at what’s happened to your career you’ve been silenced by a lot of important people, how do you keep yourself happy with what you do?
GOLDTHWAIT: I just stopped trying to make things for money or prestige and tried to make things that interested me and the things that came out of me. Once I did that, my whole life changed. I’ve never been happier.
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