Hotline to the Underground

The clubs, the music, the independent films, all the action in the Boston area!

Well, we certainly had fun at the Michael Bloomberg campaign event in Medford on 2-23-2020 with the best actor winner at the Oscars for 1988’s Wall Street. Mr. Douglas had previously won as a co-producer in 1976 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was Best Picture of 1976, Douglas producing it with Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records and Creedence Clearwater Revival fame.

Yes, Michael Douglas – Oscar winner – landed on planet Medford at the Town Line Plaza. Clint Eastwood is also on the Bloomberg bandwagon abandoning the current resident of the White House but I can’t say much more since our publisher is a friend of the Donald. Never discuss politics and religion they sayeth, but not here at the Hotline where our favorite quote is the late Margo Kidder as newspaper reporter Lois Lane and her motto “Let’s see what trouble I can get into today!”

Former Private Lighting bassist Steve Kith is not content to have his bandmate/lead vocalist from that epic band having a new CD in release. “Help Someone” is a new song by his current group, Without Focus. That’s @eipi who wrote, sings and plays acoustic guitar, @smokytubes on electric guitars, @rabbitwithmachinegun on keys and Steve Keith on bass and drums, handling production chores on this one as well. It’s a wonderful modern pop song with elements of Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, Procol Harum Grade A Stuff!

FILM: January 17, 2020 was the release date of Robert Downey Jr’s Dolittle, a remake of Dr. Dolittle. Now as far as children’s movies go, Dr. Dolittle should have been a slam-dunk for a Wizard of Oz-styled classic. The 1967 version with Rex Harrison had that potential – seventeen million dollar budget back in the day brought in only nine million in revenue. Eddie Murphy’s 1998 version was a blockbuster bringing in 294.4 million, according to Wikipedia, against a 70.5 million dollar budget – and leading to four sequels. As a critic, I thoroughly enjoyed Downey Jr.’s re-telling, but the public, not so much. At a cost of 175 mill bringing in only 204.2 million, well, according to Wikipedia “Due to its high production and marketing costs, the film will need to gross around $500 million in order to break even.” Yikes. The critics were harsh against it and some of the negative criticism I can agree with, maybe some edits could have enhanced it, but that ship has sailed. I guess we are all looking for a new Wizard of Oz experience and the story here has the potential to do just that. Downey over-acts, but given his huge presence from the Iron Man and Avengers Flicks, one would think this would have been a winner. Alas, three of the biggest names in showbiz, Harrison, Murphy and Downey Jr. all took their chances with it and Eddie Murphy gets the prize for at least making his a box-office success.

007 – As James Bond is about to re-emerge for Daniel Craig’s last go at the legendary character, let’s go back to 2008 and my review of his Quantum of Solace and get you in the secret agent man mood:

1989’s “License To Kill” and 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” contained elements the super-spy film producers are seeking out again with their reinvention James Bond which is Daniel Craig. As the Batman franchise has successfully brought one iconic superhero into an uncharted level of commercial acceptance, Craig’s Bond in Quantum of Solace and the previous entry, Casino Royale, lacks the heart that The Dark Knight shimmers with. Though the expanded role for Judi Dench is very good, French actor Mathieu Amalric is hardly a threatening villain. Heath Ledger, he’s not, and add that to the gratuitous everything – guns, car chases, explosions, Mickey Spillane-styled violence (Dench overseeing torture like a female Dick Cheney at Abu Ghraib) well, those are the things bring in the youth market while the more tactful…more artful approach is abandoned somewhat.

Not to say that this new epic doesn’t have its moments – Bond slipping away from his higher-ups in the hotel seems very Thomas Crowne Affair while Dench has as much fun as Vanessa Redgrave had with her role in Mission Impossible. But this film could have used a bit of the first Mission Impossible’s subtlety, some of Roger Moore’s humor, and a dash of George Lazenby’s aloof inquisitiveness. Craig is developing a Mike Hammer persona, more so than the Jason Charles Bourne comparison being tossed about. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say this is an ultra-modern Mike Hammer feature film under the guise of being a James Bond motion picture.

How much destruction can we filmgoers take? Terminator 3, Matrix 2, Superman Returns, The Dark Knight, Transporter 1, 2, and 3, bang bang bang bang bang. Huge explosions are replacing intellectually astute commentary, philosophy, and irony that were the foundation of spy vs. spy movies. The best moment in Quantum of Solace is when Craig/Bond intentionally upsets an electronic meeting of the Quantum group in a stadium, where he is shooting photos, not a gun, and where Judi Dench gets the information on a very high tech computer screen. Now that’s the space-age super-spy stuff that the fans of this film franchise find so invigorating. The nod to an image from Goldfinger is all well and good, but the captivating intrigue – and the brilliance of “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die” is lost here because Quantum Of Solace commits the cardinal sin: a master villain makes for a better movie. Mathieu Amalric is no Gert Fröbe, he’s no Vanessa Redgrave and, as stated, he’s light-years away from being in Heath Ledger’s league. This fast-paced action film is saved by Judi Dench’s fierce and Stalin-esque coldness and the James Bond name. Other than that, it could have been titled Transporter IV.