Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Movie: Mokey (1942)

Turner Classic Movies is one of my default TV stations, so when I turned on the set this afternoon I caught the last few minutes of this juvenile delinquent melodrama. It ends with Robert (then Bobby) Blake weeping in a courtroom because he doesn’t want to be sent to reform school.

I switched to my other default station, MSNBC. And there, sixty-three years older, was Robert Blake, weeping in another courtroom, because he’d just been found not guilty of first-degree murder.

I know it’s an accident of scheduling. But I’m still spooked.

TV: Project Greenlight

Season three of the reality series is off to a flying start. Turns out I’ve already badmouthed the work of this year’s director in print. John Gulager, son of actor Clu, made a short film about his father that appeared on the Criterion Collection’s 2-disc set of THE KILLERS. I called it “overly arty in its execution” in my Mystery*File review.

Still, I was rooting for him to land the gig. Based on the clips of his work, he was easily the most talented of the three finalists, with a sensibility all his own. And the fact that he’s a character – older than the other competitors, and a touch ... withdrawn – can only make for better TV.

HBO dropped the series after two seasons, and now Bravo has picked it up. That’s only the beginning of the show’s woes. Neither of the previous GREENLIGHT films made a ripple in the marketplace, so this year the pressure is on to produce a commercial movie. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are still involved in the show, but their disappointment at what it has been reduced to – Damon’s in particular – was palpable in last night’s premiere.

I suppose I’m partly to blame. Despite watching both seasons of the show religiously, I never went to see either STOLEN SUMMER or THE BATTLE OF SHAKER HEIGHTS. Haven’t even checked them out on cable. I know too much about them going in.

Hearing about creative battles after the fact is one thing. But being a fly on the wall while, say, Roman Polanski and Robert Towne fought over the ending of CHINATOWN would alter my perceptions of the film. The truth is that movies probably belong on the list with Bismarck’s laws and sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.