Monday, January 5, 2009

From the weekend

I gather that from glancing at my “keyword” stats there was some interruption in some places this weekend of RTN, the Retro Television Network; a blurb at Wikipedia says that the former company that owned the network—Equity Media Holdings—was in a contract dispute with RTN beginning January 4 and that was apparently the reason for the interruption. I glanced at WSB-TV, the Atlanta, GA affiliate and didn’t witness any major problems except that some of the programming was moved back an hour (example: WSB would show Run for Your Life on Sundays at 4pm but it was on at 3:00 instead). A few minutes ago, Emergency! was run in the time slot normally reserved for Marcus Welby, MD so I guess that little kink hasn’t been worked out yet…I suppose it could be worse—they could be running another Leave It to Beaver marathon.

There’s not much to write about, movie-wise because I spent most of Saturday “liberating” some films from the On Demand service with the new DVD recorder: A Taste of Honey (1961), Billy Liar (1963) and the documentary Capturing the Friedmans (2003). I did manage to catch Murderball (2005), the critically-acclaimed documentary about “quad rugby” that was really entertaining (particularly the fact that the presentation took me up a few side roads that I wasn’t expecting) and This Revolution (2005), a docu-drama that tries to be a modern-day Medium Cool (1969) and fails in the attempt. (I should point out that it’s not really fair to judge Revolution because I’ve only seen 2/3 of the film; for some odd reason it keeps cutting off at the one-hour-five-minute mark. I hope the On Demand people get this rectified soon.)

I also took another stab at trying to dub off some previous DVD-R movies from some old discs and while the first movie, Murder on a Honeymoon (1935), was a resounding success the second feature, Blondie (1938), did a major pixilation freeze-up on the DVD player I was recording from. So I’ve basically just thrown my hands up and said…okay, I think I did this joke somewhere else on the blog.

Frantically looking around for something to watch last night, I decided to check out The Minus Man (1999) on Flix on Demand, chiefly on the strength that Janeane Garafolo was in it. Well, as it turns out she’s the best thing in the film; it’s a “thriller” about a young serial killer (Owen Wilson) who settles down in a small town, renting an apartment from a dysfunctional couple (Brian Cox, Mercedes Ruehl) who come to look upon Wilson as a surrogate son. Unfortunately, Sonny Boy can’t seem to shake his habit of random killings, including a young high school football hero (Eric Mabius) and a man in a diner (Lew McCreary, the novelist of the book on which the film is based), but he does find a girlfriend (Garafolo) in a relationship that unfortunately comes to an end due to side effects from his unusual hobby.

I don’t have any hard and fast rules when it comes to suspense thrillers, but I guess I’m just nitpicky enough to suggest that there be at least a little suspense…of which Man is in short supply. I’m not going to mince words here—this damn flick nearly put me to sleep. I didn’t care much for Wilson; he has a sort of pinched expression throughout the film that kept reminding me of William B. Williams (John Candy), the unctuous sidekick to talk-show host Sammy Maudlin (Joe Flaherty) on the old SCTV series. Ruehl and Garafolo manage to survive Man with their reputations intact but some of the other performers—including Sheryl Crow (good idea not giving up your day job, kid) as one of Wilson’s victims and Dwight Yoakam and Dennis Haysbert as a couple of “hallucinatory” Feds—aren’t so lucky. Meg Foster, an actress I’ve always liked (I never cared for the fact that they replaced her with Sharon Gless on Cagney & Lacey because they thought Foster was too “dykey”) has a tiny role, as does John Carroll Lynch as a bartender; Lynch appears uncredited and after seeing the film it’s not hard to guess why.

Man received a lot of critical praise at the time of its release, but I honestly can’t think of any reason why I would recommend it to anybody. For a more entertaining look into the mind of a murderer, stick with Monsieur Verdoux (1947).


Vince said...

We had some RTN trouble here that was more pronounced. I tuned in for my Sunday evening fix of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and got what looked like an RTN screen saver. When it ended at 9:30, the network joined an episode of what I'd have to guess was Delvecchio already in progress.

Samuel Wilson said...

In Albany NY we lost RTN completely. All you get is a "screen saver" explaining the contract expiration and transition problems and leaving a contact number for more information. This is regrettable because I'd grown fond of the impoverished charms of Off-Beat Cinema, the nearest thing to a horror-host program I can see on cable.

Matthew K. said...

Hey there- I'm a first time visitor. Really impressed with the scope of your site. I put it on my list. Cheers!

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Thanks, Matthew! Glad to hear from a fellow Armstrong alumnus!

Samuel Wilson said...

RTN came back to Albany some time on Monday, albeit with the timing issues others have mentioned. When I checked it was 8:55 p.m. and they were just starting the Magnum P.I. pilot when they were supposed to be wrapping up an A-Team episode.