Hey there Popsters, how are the holidays treating ya !? I realize I’ve been M.I.A. these last few weeks but I’ve really been swamped with projects both professional and personal and, of course, there was my obligatory perennial fight with the flu bug, what can I say, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
Enough with the yada, yada, ho-ho-ho, let’s get this party started!
• Touches of Evil
This week’s New York Times Magazine put together an inspired collection of this year’s best actors playing bad. The series of odd and intriguing video vignettes features George Clooney, Michael Shannon, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Kirsten Dunst, Brad Pitt and, my favorite of the bunch, Gary Oldman. If I were doing a “Top Ten Coolest Things I’ve Seen on the Net for 2011”, this might actually be near the top of that list.
• Germany’s Miniatur Wunderland
I stumbled across this earlier this week and had to share it with you. I’m not sure why something like this even exists but- I have to admit- it is pretty freaking cool.
This is the official video for Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg, the largest model railway in the world, and one of the most successful tourist attractions in Germany. On the 1.300 m² large layout, far more than a thousand trains, aircrafts, cars and ships move about. A wonder of the world in miniature.
• Geek Bliss: Star Wars meets Chaplin’s the Great Dictator
What do you get when you cross Darth Vader with one of the best speeches ever written for the big screen, delivered by Charlie Chaplin? An excellent mash-up/ fan film worthy of the 5 minutes you are about to spend watching it.
• Another Addition For My Not-So Grownup Christmas List
Every year I ask Santa to put a real life Slave Leia under my tree but, so far, I’ve had no luck with this request. I have no reason to expect this year will be any different so I’ve decided to fill my list with some of the coolest geek toys I’ve discovered on the web recently. Here’s one I’d like this year Santa, ( I know you’re a regular Pop Bitez visitor fat man, pay attention!)
I don’t know why I want this, I just do.
• The Best of Netflix Holiday Streaming
I’ve been streaming a lot of Christmas movies lately on Netflix, here are just a few I recommend you check out and add to your queue this holiday season.
♦ Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Yes, we know the story forwards and backwards by now and, yes, there seems to be a “new” version of Dickens’ Christmas classic almost every year but, with the exception of a few action sequences that seem out of place and a bit too long, this one is pretty excellent. Jim Carrey does an amiable job as Scrooge but his best work in this computer animated version is that of the three ghosts. That being said I think it’s Gary Oldman who really steals the show as both Jacob Marley and Bob Cratchit (a role they tell me I played once but that I barely remember, I’m certain no one who saw me in that show remembers it either). Director Robert Zemekis (Polar Express/ Monster House/ Beowulf) still hasn’t found a way to keep from creeping us out with the dead eyes of his computer generated humans but, at least in this flick, that actually works to this films advantage, in an odd sort of way. Vacant eyes aside, this is easily the most beautiful version I’ve ever seen of A Christmas Carol, from the gorgeous landscapes to the falling snow and candle light, the detail and color is unlike anything you’ve seen before, which makes this version of chucks masterwork a keeper for what I suspect is many years to come.
♦ Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas
The reference to Christmas in the title has always been a bit of a curiosity to me as this sweet little musical from Jim Henson has almost nothing to do with the holiday season. The holiday special was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1977 and- if I was a betting man- I would say it was an idea Henson had been sitting on when the CBC approached the Muppet man about putting together a “Christmas Special” for the network and he simply slapped “Christmas” on the title. After watching it again this year I could easily imagine this story taking place anytime of the year, for all I know, in Henson’s original draft it might have been set in the Summer. While Emmett Otter’s story isn’t really what anyone would consider a “Christmas Story”, it is a very sweet and well made family show, filled with Paul Williams’ excellent songs and some endearing vocal work from both Henson and Frank Oz. If you’re a fan of the Muppets and the work of Jim Henson’s band of muppeteers, you’ll want to check this one out, it’s a lost gem more than worthy of your time.
♦ Santa Claus (1959)
Dear God, this movie sucks bad, which is why I love it as much as I do. This Mexican import is a guilty pleasure and cult favorite for everyone who appreciates the beauty of bad filmmaking. If, like me, you love the work of the creatively challenged Ed Wood or films as delightfully awful as Showgirls and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, this one is for you! For those unfamiliar with this trash classic the gist is, with the aid of Merlin, Santa Claus must defeat the evil machinations of the devil Pitch to ruin Xmas. Merlin? Santa Claus? The Devil? Oh yeah, it really is as bad as it sounds! Which is why it’s on my must watch list, every year! I actually saw this one in a movie theater when I was a wee lad and I remember there were actors in attendance dressed as the film’s main characters Merlin, Santa and the Devil, it seemed so wrong then but so very right now.
♦ Yes, Virginia
If you missed this one during it’s prime time airing this year, you’ll be happy to know Netflix is currently streaming it. Based on a true story, Yes Virginia is a touching and uplifting holiday story about what it means to believe. Set in New York City, 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon has always loved Christmas until the day her classmates bring up the age-old question: “Is there a Santa Claus?” Not sure what to believe, Virginia ventures into the city to find out for herself. Featuring the voice talents of Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alfred Molina, this one is perfect for stirring up your holiday spirits.
♦ Lindsay Lohan’s Playboy pics have leaked on the web, you can see them Here, courtesy of worstpreviews.com (sure, she’s a hot mess, it’s true, but I’m still typing this with one hand, what do you want from me?)
♦ Jerry Robinson, who helped create the Joker as well as Batman sidekick Robin, has died at the age of 89, less than a month from his 90th birthday.
♦ The first pic of Daniel Day Lewis as he begins work on Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, in a word, WOW!
♦ Bruce Springsteen will deliver the keynote address at SXSW next year, zzzzzzzz, I’m sorry…were you saying something boss?
♦ The first five minutes of the new indie film Olive is now online, it’s the first full-length feature film shot completely on a smartphone! Sweet! The story follows “a little girl that transforms the lives of three people without speaking one word.”
And that’s going to do it for “All The News That’s Fit To Pop!” this week Popsters! Check back next week for the Special Pop Bitez Christmas PopCast which, I’m certain, is the best Holiday mix you’ll hear this year! Until then, be nice to each other and remember, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” and he can also see all of your obnoxious ramblings on Facebook and Twitter, check yourselves before you wreck yourselves. Cheers & Happy Holidays!- Scott