Tag Archive | "The Monkees"

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New Releases: August 12

Posted on 11 August 2011 by William Gatevackes

1. Final Destination 5 (Warner Brothers/New Line, 3,155 Theaters, 92 Minutes, Rated R): I’ve never been a fan of horror films per se, although I have watched many of them. But of all of them that I have seen or haven’t seen, the ones that make me the most uncomfortable are the Final Destination franchise.

The premise is this: a group of young people survive a disaster that was meant to kill them, usually due to one of the kids getting a preminition that death is imminent. Since Death doesn’t like to be cheated, it sets about to kill these survivors in the most gruesomely inventive ways possible.

The premise is imaginative. But one of my biggest problems with the franchise is that the kids are always tipped off that death is after them but put themselves in situations where they can be killed in the most unique way possible. If I knew the living embodiment of death was after me, I’d cancel that acupuncture appointment and reschedule that laser eye surgery. But that’s just me.

2. 30 Minutes Or Less (Sony/Columbia, 2,888 Theaters, 83 Minutes, Rated R): It’s a premise that I have seen before. Criminals want to rob a bank but not get caught. They find a patsy and threaten to take away something–or someone–close to the patsy if they don’t do as the criminals say. Drama ensues.

That premise is in employ here, although used for comedic purposes. The bad guys (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson, playing against type) kidnap a pizza person (Jesse Eisenberg), strap a bomb to him, and say that they’ll blow him up in a matter of hours if he doesn’t rob a bank for them.

This premise has potential…to be a good episode of a half hour sitcom. I have no idea how they can stretch the premise out to almost an hour and a half. And, judging on the ads, most of that time is spent with the bomb strapped on Eisenberg. When the character is able to run errands while wearing the device, it takes away a bit of the suspense.

3. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (Fox, 2,040 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): I have watched Glee and liked it, although not quite as much as many of my friends. There is something about the show that keeps it from being appointment viewing for me, and if I had to put my finger on it, it would be because I find the show to be the most Pre-fab TV series since The Monkees.

The series was born with a fully formed marketing plan at its inception. Before the first episode aired, there was a “making of” on the Fox Movie Channel. Also on that network were interviews with the creators explaining their process. Then, when the show actually came on, the tie-in CD’s started coming as soon as they had enough songs to fill them. And as soon as shooting stopped on a season, the entire cast (as must have certainly been specified as a requirement in their original contract) went on the road with a travelling concert tour.

To top the rampant commercialism, we now get a film of that concert tour. Better yet, it’s in 3-D! Because they can charge a little extra for 3-D!

I don’t know why anybody would pay to see something they get for free, but they did. And now they are being asked to pay to see something they have already paid to see. And they probably will.

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Trippin’ With The Monkees’ HEAD 40 Years Later

Posted on 12 November 2008 by Rich Drees

I’ve often been struck by the size of the cultural and artistic changes that the 1960s saw. The best way I’ve found to really get a grip on the enormity of those changes is to track the evolution of the music of the Beatles. In this day and age when musicians don’t seem or can’t be bothered to grow and experiment with their craft, the Beatles went from belting out covers of 1950s R&B tunes like “Twist And Shout” to the psychedelica of the Sgt. Peppers album to the mature introspection of their final album, Let It Be over the space of eight years years.

But not everybody was able to make the transition through that decade successfully. Some were limited by their talents, while others were limited by their audience’s perceptions of them. One of those in the latter group was the pop band, the Monkees. Commonly derided by their critics with the nickname “the Pre-Fab Four,” the quartet was put together to star in a TV show that producers hoped would cash in on the success of the Beatles popular film A Hard Day’s Night. But just two years after it premiered on NBC to phenomenal ratings and a string of hit singles, the Monkees were out of vogue, their shiny pop tunes out of step with the suddenly darker times America was in following the assassinations of Robert Kennedy Jr. and Martin Luther King.

The Monkees and the producers of their television series attempted to capture the changing mood in their film Head. Co-written by Jack Nicholson – yes, that Jack Nicholson – and featuring appearances from such people as Frank Zappa, Dennis Hopper, Annette Funicello, Victor Mature and boxer Sonny Liston, the movie would perplex critics and confuse the small number of people who actually made the trip to the theaters. With the movie a financial bomb, the Monkees soon went their separate ways until the mid-80s, when they were to reunite following the airing of their old series on a new cable network devoted to pop music- M-TV.

Now on the 40th anniversary of the release of Head, the Los Angeles Times has talked to Monkee members Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz about the film, what the band was trying to achieve with it and whether the film’s financial failure doesn’t necessarily equate to artistic success.

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