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Sunday
Jul182010

Welcome to Kickseat.com!

Hey, Everyone...

For those of you joining me from the Blogger version of Kicking the Seat, I would like to say "Thanks" and "Welcome" to the brand new, official Kicking the Seat Web site!

After trying lots of site developers, asking several people how to do this or that, and logging a lot of hours importing and formatting, a fuller version of the movie review site I've always imagined is finally here.

You'll notice there's a lot more to Kicking the Seat than just the reviews:

You're reading the Info Desk, so you've likely figured out that this is the site's news/general blog section.

In the Stub Drawer, you'll find a full review archive, containing (mostly) alphabetical listings of every article from the Blogger site and the old "Critic(isms)" blog--including all of the comments readers have left over the years (if you're looking for a movie whose title begins with "The", scroll down to the "T"'s).

There's currently only one photo in the Stills gallery, but it's one hell of a photo!

For some good, old-fashion vitriol, check in with The Disruptive Patron.  Sadly, it's become necessary to build a platform upon which I can scream at the gods and tell the universe how much I hate the modern moviegoing experience (but I kinda love it, too).

If you have any thoughts about the new Kicking the Seat that you'd like to share with me, including site ideas, improvement suggestions, or even recommendations for movies you'd like to see reviewed on the site, please fill out a Comment Card!

The Concessions stand isn't open yet, but I hope to have a store up and running (relatively) soon. Check back here for updates!

In addition to the review archives, there's now a handy "search" feature called "Lost and Found", located on the right-hand side of the main page.  Immediately below is "Backlot Gossip", the hottest, craziest Tweets you're likely to find in all of un-sourced celebrity journalism!

Before I go, I'd like to thank Marshall Bock for his guidance and for directing me to Squarespace; Chad Hawks of Chateau Grrr has been a true inspiration for me getting my Web-presence act together; and, most importantly, my amazing wife, Darlena.

You encourage me; you believe in my dreams; you tolerate my disappearing for hours on end to bang my head up against code and pixels.  I love you so much.

You're also the mother of my son, Hunter, who was supposed be born today.  I guess he'll just join us later in the week.

For now, we'll have to get by with welcoming a new Web site into the world.

 

Tuesday
May112010

While You're All Here...

I'd like to thank everyone who's taken the time to check out "Kicking the Seat" in the last couple of days.

Many of you probably clicked on the front page link at RobertEnglund.com to read my review of the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake. I invite you to check out the recent posts and archives here for my thoughts on other films.

Special thanks go out to my dear, old friend, Sarah, who brought the piece to the attention of the good folks at Mr. Englund's Web site, and to Robert's wife, Nancy, who was very supportive of my writing.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to cmf_cosmo and Melinda for your comments. I'm genuinely flattered.

For anyone who's interested in keeping up with "Kicking the Seat", you can follow me via Blogger or Twitter.

Thanks again, everyone, and stay tuned for more seat-kicking goodness!

Wednesday
Apr142010

A Throwing the Remote Special Comment

Challenge of the "Glee"-bots!

Hey, Gang! It's really me. I'm not dead. My wife and I have been busy moving into a new house, so I'm a little behind on movie reviews; with any luck--and a lot of sleep--I should have a couple new pieces up this week.

Did anyone else watch American Idol last night? I did, for two reasons. First, it was "Elvis Night", and I just knew someone would butcher my favorite song from The King, "Suspicious Minds"; here's a tip, Siobhan: that's not the kind of song one smiles through while singing; It's a bummer tune, and you looked like an idiot--an idiot who can't sing.

The second reason I watched was because I noticed that much of the cast of the hit Fox TV series Glee was sitting in the front row of the audience, right behind the judges! I'm a Gleek, I admit it. It's a solid show with some great music (though, honestly, I've been waiting since last May 19th for an episode that had the perfect balance of comedy and emotional honesty as the pilot--there's a reason their version of "Don't Stop Believin'" is a hit).

Keep in mind, I dind't see the cast's appearance on Oprah last week (we got new cable boxes during the move, so we lost a ton of awful television), but I did read the Glee cover story in the new Rolling Stone. I found the article to be rather catty and not incredibly well-written. But watching Idol last night, the article's thesis struck me: the Glee cast may well be an army of perfectly engineered entertainment robots.

Did you notice how they all sat in their seats, staring blankly into the middle distance until some outside force (usually Ryan Seacrest) either addressed one of them or said something that riled the audience? They were like human motion detectors, and it creeped me the fuck out. I was a big fan of Matthew Morrison, who plays Mr. Shuester on the show--until last night. With his hipster hat and dour expression, he looked not like an exuberant showman, but rather like R. Crumb at a shopping mall--so bewildered by everything around him that he shut down until called upon to do something famous-y.

Cory Monteith (Finn on Glee) looked particularly lost; at the punchline of some lewd joke, he turned his head from side to side, as if the sensor that explains why things are funny had shorted out and he couldn't decide whether to laugh or melt the audience with his Lockheed-designed whitened-teeth lasers. I feared for the safety of everyone in the Idol audience last night; not the first emotion I thought of when thinking to myself, "Hey, it's the Glee kids!"

What's the point of this screed? Don't know. I haven't written anything in awhile and I'm getting cagey. But, hey, what's the Internet for, if not to serve as a launching pad for wild speculation and off-base celebrity gossip?

Maybe I'll ditch my evil-Glee-robots theory after I see the mid-season opener tomorrow night--we're holding out to watch it with friends. I hope I forget about that Rolling Stone thing, too, 'cause I'd like to believe that the show's cast is full of regular people who love to act and sing. But I suspect they're all robots, and until I'm proven wrong, I'll hold onto that feeling.

Sunday
Mar142010

A Tribute to Corey Haim

I'll Be the Sun Shining on You

One of the kitschiest thrills of my life happened last year. I met Corey Haim at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis. My friend Chad and I circled his table, eyeing the various glossy photographs he had for sale; there was a decent-sized line of adoring fans keeping Haim occupied, so our vulturing didn’t seem completely ridiculous. Chad picked out a nice two-shot of Corey Haim and Jason Patric from The Lost Boys. I opted for a still of the main cast from License to Drive, the film that, in 1988, cemented Haim’s status in my eleven-year-old mind as the coolest kid on earth.

When it came time for Chad and me to get his autograph, I was giddy and a little nervous. I’d watched both seasons of his reality show, The Two Coreys, in which he struggled with drug addiction and a shaky career comeback, and I wasn’t sure which version of him I’d encounter: the personable optimist or the bleary eyed freak show. While waiting in line, I saw him smile and take pictures with fans, and I was ready for a really nice experience with one of my childhood idols. When my turn at the table came, though, things got a little weird.

I don’t know if I gave off the wrong vibe or if he thought I was having a laugh by getting his autograph on that particular picture. Whatever the case, my sincere “Nice to meet you” and “biggest fan” small talk was met with a chilly reception, and I was instantly reminded of the cliche of the dangers of meeting one’s heroes. I can’t speak for Chad’s feelings on meeting Haim, but in the picture that he took with us, it’s clear the actor was nonplussed. Walking away from the table thinking about Haim’s disinterest, and contrasting that with the smiling, confident face in the signed photo in my hand, I felt cheated and a little angry—as if I’d just paid $20 for a forgery.

Corey Haim passed away last week, at the age of thirty-eight. The circumstances surrounding his death have yet to fully come out, though it was just announced that illegal drugs were not involved. For his fans, myself included, this is a relief. It doesn’t make what happened any less tragic, but at least he seems to have died on the noble side of his own personal war on drugs.

He was a known-substance abuser, an addict whose very public lapses and relapses destroyed the career of one of the 1980s’ brightest and most charismatic stars. He was Lucas, for God’s sake. And had it not been for a series of bad choices—personal and professional—he might have broken from the confining Tiger Beat mold and matured into something more substantial. I’m not saying Haim had leading-man chops, but hell, even Charlie Sheen has a sitcom.

Haim and long-time friend and partner Corey Feldman proved themselves at the box office with a number of hits, but the toll of fame and drugs drove both actors to excess; they burned bridges and found themselves doing direct-to-video comedies and thrillers of the kind that spawn Family Guy jokes. Feldman eventually cleaned himself up and managed to work enough in the ensuing years to claim some sort of relevance. But Corey Haim’s resume during this period was a head-scratching melange of projects you’ve probably never heard of. He resurfaced briefly on the anniversary DVD of The Lost Boys a few years ago, and shocked fans with his appearance: the once slim teen idol had ballooned to well over 200 pounds (by the actor’s own admission, he’d hovered around 300 for a time).

Thus began the freak show stage of Corey Haim’s career. In 2007, Haim and Corey Feldman starred in The Two Coreys, both seasons of which seemed to promise a major comeback for both performers. Haim was excited about getting off drugs—prescription medication, his latest vice—and pitching a sequel to The Lost Boys, with he and Feldman returning to kick vampire ass. The show also featured constant blow-ups with Feldman’s wife, Susie, who became a sort of third wheel in the newly re-formed relationship between the two dysfunctional friends.

The show was like a cross between Intervention, The Real World, and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. The Two Coreys would alternate between, say, getting everything read for Corey Haim’s surprise birthday party and therapy sessions where Haim and Feldman hurled teary insults at one another regarding who failed to stick up for whom during multiple sessions of mutual childhood sexual abuse. The show didn’t know whether it was itself a tabloid punch line or an earnest attempt to heal two wounded souls.

Unfortunately, the answer to this conundrum came during one of the final episodes where, on the set of Lost Boys: The Tribe, we hear Corey Haim wrestling with a couple of lines of dialogue for multiple takes; I don’t recall how long the crew waited around for him to get his act together, but it may have been hours. The shot went uncompleted, and Haim retired to his trailer. With the microphone still transmitting, he could clearly be heard snorting something.

The sensationalism of this scene cemented in my mind that, even if there were to be a third season of the show, I wouldn’t watch it. It was too weird to see Corey Haim on the skids, trying so hard to perform. In his prime, he lit up the screen with wide-eyed, Reagan-era optimism; he was the quintessential clean-cut movie teen. In his best roles, he didn’t play the cool kid; he played the nice kid, the average guy who hung out with wacky friends and aspired to plant a PG-13 kiss on the lips of the girl of his dreams. The sniffling, pale, awkward fiend of The Two Coreys was too harsh a caricature for me to stomach.

In that way, Corey Haim is the 80’s-teen-Elvis, a once-popular figure of tremendous potential whose later years are glossed over by history—and the need of pop culture junkies to have their heroes preserved in amber. Thirty years from now, when some teenager puts on The Lost Boys for the first time, I doubt they’ll see Corey Haim electrocuting a vampire and flash on a bloated, glassy eyed addict with a needle sticking out of his arm.

It’s sad that Haim never channeled his young fame into a more lasting career. With a bit of luck and a lot of fortitude, he could have navigated the ups and downs of Hollywood and become either a major player or at least a well-paid, consistently working actor—Robert Downey, Jr. and Kiefer Sutherland are proof of that. Instead, he became a guy that I met at a horror convention. That’s not a slam on Haim or on horror conventions, but there are definite gradations in the echelons of notoriety, and the only current poster at Corey Haim’s table was a miniature one-sheet advertising his cameo in Crank 2.

He’s gone now, and I hope that wherever he is, he’s found the peace that he couldn’t attain in life. Despite his later troubles, Corey Haim made a handful of pretty wonderful movies that impacted a generation. That smiling, confident kid will be with us forever, leaving his tragic adulthood lost in the shadows.

Saturday
Feb132010

Im-pec-cable Showman!


Yes, kids, your dreams can come true!

I've just returned from the 8pm screening of The Room at The Music Box Theatre on Southport, where I met my hero of two days, Tommy Wiseau!

The movie was a blast. It was my first experience with an audience participation event (no, I've never been to Rocky Horror; sheltered, suburban child that I was), and The Room's crowd didn't disappoint. From the countdown of seconds during numerous, interminable establishing shots, to the torrent of plastic spoons filling the air every time the camera caught a glimpse of the framed spoon picture in Johnny and Lisa's apartment, the place was a madhouse. By the time Wiseau liftend his shirt to show off his sculpted, oddly veiny body on stage, I thought for sure the rabble would start ripping up the seats.

I'm so glad I saw the movie a couple days ago; as I figured, a lot of the best lines were drowned out by mimics and random booing. Every time the character Denny entered a scene, he was greeted with "Hi, Denny" (and "Bye, Denny" when he exited). We all sang "Happy Birthday" to Johnny during his surprise party scene. Best of all, whenever a character would talk about hurting Johnny, the audience got riled beyond anything I've witnessed regarding a fictional character.

Wiseau did a couple of brief Q&A sessions--before and after the show--where he muscled through a thick accent, bad fan questions, and a host whose mic was busted for half the presentation (Capone from Aint it Cool News). Tommy Wiseau, it seems, is in on the joke of his own film, and proudly basks in both the ridicule and the accolades affored him by hipsters of all ages. The Music Box was sold out tonight, and he got a standing ovation; not bad for the creator of one of the worst movies ever committed to celluloid.

When the time came to meet the man, I'm only kind of ashamed to admit that I cut in line. I'd exited the theatre to say "goodbye" to my friends, Graham and Meghan, and when I tried to get back in and head for the back of the line, I got stuck--at the head of the line. Peering over peoples' heads, down to the last person, I figured I'd just stay put and get back home before midnight. The paranoia of the people around me noticing that I wasn't supposed to be there subsided gradually, and the guy in front of me was even nice enough to snap my picture--I returned the favor with his iPhone.

The only downside was that Capone and the management were trying to speed up the process, so they announced--one person ahead of me--that there would be no more individual photos and no more conversations. So I only got about twenty seconds with the icon--though he was very nice, and he signed my TALKING TOMMY WISEAU BOBBLE-HEAD DOLL! He said his signature on the base wasn't that good, so he insisted on personalizing the box to me. A "thank you" and a fist-bump later, and I was back out on Southport, headed to get some Valentine's Day chocolates for my girl.

Goodnight, everyone. May your dreams be full of footballs and tuxes.

Update, 2/13/10: For any die-hard Chicago fans who missed out on the fun, The Music Box has just added a midnight screening tonight. Check the Web site for details and tickets (yes, Tommy will be there, too!)