Archive | August, 2017

Some Old Rusty Iron Giant Movie Review Dug Up From 1999

31 Aug

 

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What a crap week, I’ve had. First off, this last Sunday I was selecting photos originally meant for this week’s posting, which would’ve focused on my recent sojourn back to Parsippany New Jersey to hang out a few days with my mom, my half sister Bernadette and her tribe, my night seeing Anathema perform at the Gramercy Theater in New York City and a walk through memory lane down in Lake Hiawatha, NJ – then I came down with a fucking cold that knocked me out of work for two days. So I had no time to write out the way of how I was going to navigate you through the pictures, I sadly also had to miss Yes with special guests Carl Palmer and Todd Rundgren playing last Tuesday night at the Microsoft Theater here in LA. Hopefully I’ll gather the strength in time to check the IMAX presentation of the Inhumans this Labor Day Weekend. So in the meantime, here’s a little trip down my memory lane of movies in 1999- the Iron Giant portion was printed in Comics Buyer’s Guide, the rest of the meandering missive about other movies was jettisoned, but through the magic of my Yahoo mail account Draft section is restored in its; pristine glory is seen here for the first time in all its’ unedited glory.

Now in 2017, The Red Turtle is now the animated movie that currently tugs at my heartstrings – but that shall be another analysis for another time. I recently watched The Iron Giant on blu ray, and it still holds spectacularly after eighteen years since its’ debut.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the summer blockbusters sucking my wallet dry. Boy, we haven’t had that Coatney lad comment on any movies in a long, long while, maybe that’s because nobody been inviting him to any advance screenings lately ! Studios: If you want ass kissing reviews of your films- you gotta send me passes. I’m in Hollywood, man !

      So far, it has been a mostly impressionable turnout for the heat wave of Hollywood escapism. The only dud that I can ascertain is the preposterous premise of an African- American secret government agent raised by Apaches in the Wild Wild West besides being boggled down by a nonsense script with Tim Burton/ Batman borrowed motifs. Will Smith and Barry Schonfield would have more creditability if they went for an adaption of The Man of U.N.C.L.E. The after screening party in Westwood had better production values.
    Star Wars: Episode One- The Phantom Menace–  appealing eye candy as it was, lacked the heart and the panache of the first trilogy and only had one choked up scene of when Anakin Skywalker leaves his mom on that slave camp promising to come back for her. And hey, if you browsed at the back cover of the soundtrack, you would have found out what happens in the end of the movie- you didn’t even need to bother with Harry Knowles’ Ain’t- It- Cool- News website– the record industry had done it for you.
  Tarzan was nearly as close as a perfect animated movie that almost made me choke on my sissy-eyed tears. I don’t know if it was Disney’s almost faithful adaptation of the Burrough’s classic, the stupendous breathtaking animation, or Phil Collins being a total sold out, distancing himself even  further away from his  former bandmates, Genesis. Then again, I’m probably the only sane individual alive who thinks the new singer in Genesis is better than Collins. But I’m not here to spout about Phil.
  South Park was the number one booger flick to flick, with hilarity abound to land you in the pyscho ward. Brilliant, but crudely animated. I can’t wait to own it on video.
  However,  some little number  I caught last Sunday night usurped the crown hands down. The film is titled, The Iron Giant, and it’s not a knock-off of Gigantor or Big Guy and Rusty, the Boy Robot. But- it is a definite must see. It’s a new animated film from those sometime geniuses from Warner Bros;( see my comments on Wild Wild West above ) who I would drop and give twenty licks on a toilet seat for have finally created the ultimate film that every comic book aficionado should  immediately run out and see . Go ahead. Move it. Right now. I’ll wait. It should be out by the time you read this. I’ll just kick back here with a Mickey’s Big Mouth and read the works of Daudet ( Hmmm, I wonder what Tarantino is up to now ? )  until you get back. I only want to see if your jaw actually hangs off your knees. Told you, it wasn’t Gigantor.
    Okay,  Let’s talk a little about the Iron Giant- and I’ll have to say if you want to see a summer animated film without breaking into a song and dance, leaves you with an optimistic gut reaction of the human condition without the lingering antacid aftertaste and yet still manges to prove itself to be all ages safe ( even though it’s still rated PG-13- but in the goofy Phantom, Menace kind of way )  and  less acerbic than those others mentioned above- then this is the film to beat, hands down.
    Warner Bros has struck gold with the Iron Giant, almost making us forget the bad taste left from earlier efforts of Quest for Camelot and The King and I. They jumped on the Disney Snowball Express and found themselves hurled off the speeding train. All they had simply do is invent their own genre- look back at the success of what they’ve been doing in television animation with Batman, Superman, and Animaniacs and expand. What Disney ( with the sole  exception of Tarzan ) lack and what Warner Bros gains is solid clear and concise storytelling without being jerked  into a silly musical setting. It is in the running of an animated film that exits the extinguishing  years  of the twentieth-century with a tingley feeling.
    The Iron Giant takes most of its elements  from a story based on the book, the Iron Man  by british poet laureate Ted Hughes which incidentally, was also the basis of a concept album and a stage musical done by Pete Townshend (which premiered in La Jolla, Ca) with various guest performers a decade ago  So, it’s  more than a inky-dink coincidence that Townshend serves as one of the executive producers on this film.
    The Iron Giant takes on dimension like a Will Eisner graphic novel come to life. Characters that run the gamut of the three demensional reign of emotion and verbally expressive in rapid fire sequences. And even if you’re a Will Eisner fan- you owe it to yourself just for the nod of acknowledgment that is a paid tribute to the grand master of graphic novels during the first half of the film along combined with a certain homage to a neverending defender of truth, justice, and the American Way.
    Brad Bird, ( partnered with Tim McCanlies ) is a practiced alumni of the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Dog animated shows adapted Hughes’ children’s book to the screen. Whereas the lamented Hughes’  version has a little boy simply befriending a giant rising from the ocean; Bird has opt to spin a 1957 cold war twist in Maine.  The robot, who is nothing more than a weapon with a soul drops in from outer space and is rescued from a certain power plant overload by a fatherless and imaginative boy named Hogarth Hughes ( maybe an intentional amalgam between Burne Hogarth and Ted Hughes ? ) who has to hide the iron giant from the trivial horrors of governmental forced paranoia and townsfolk fear.
  It has been said that the inspirations for the character design came from the voices themselves. Jennifer Aniston plays Hogarth’s waitress mother, Annie. young stage performer, Eli Marienthal, portrays an eccentric Hogarth, Christopher MacDonald gives a chilling performance as the hunt them down, seek and destroy government investigator, Kent Mensky, who infiltrates Hogarth’s secret by moving in as a boarder in Annie’s house. Harry Connick Jr. delivers a nostalgic tribute to all beatniks everywhere as the junk artist/ espresso enthusiast, Dean McCopper. And of course, with mechanical voice enhancements as the beaver…whoops, I meant to say.. the Iron Giant is Vin Diesel.
    Memorable moments include detachment of metal limbs that can reassemble itself on to its’ host. One amusing scene has Hogarth trying to conceal the presence of a runaway robot hand running rampant through the house from his unsuspecting mother. The Iron Giant doing cannonballs and munching on compacted cars in a junkyard. The ending does kind of intense for the under 7 ‘s in the house when the Iron Giant runs amok and realizes what his true purpose for his existence is for- but it all resolves peacefully and everyone will be happy, cheering and clapping for its undearing charisma by the time you’re ready to leave the theater.
  Go see The Iron Giant- you’ll hate yourself in the morning if you don’t.
  And for the Vertigo or alternative crowd who enjoy the catheterization of a mind numbing psychosis fix like the force of a blunt object to the head, there is
The Blair Witch Project. A low budget mockumentary guaranteed to make your psycho analyst happy after you book a month of appointments with him. Read the Oni comic. Run, Lola, Run ought to appeal to the sensibilities of those who enjoyed Grant Morrison’s Kill Your Boyfriend. Both films should be playing at your local movie art-house, unless you’re stuck living in Nebraska.
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No John Payne, No Asia Gain

12 Aug
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A couple of weeks ago, I saw John Payne who used to play in THE ORIGINAL BAND Asia for a while until his notable contributions came to a crashing halt when original singer and bassist John Wetton got back together with original keyboardist Geoff Downes to resuscitate THE ORIGINAL BAND Asia to give it a second chance at life.
However it looked as if John Payne hadn’t recognized me when the few times we used to hang out fifteen or so year sago through the auspices of out mutual friend Christina Holtz, who used to published crapload of interviews with progressive rock dignitaries before internet and social media became the all around chic thing in a newsletter called the Music News Network.
When Wetton and the company went their separate ways after the disappointment in sales for the band’s third album, Payne was recruited by Downes before he could join Electric Light Orchestra to forge the band ahead for the next five studio albums (plus two albums of unreleased demos that were originally thought destroyed in a studio flood, a soundtrack for an interactive game, and a multitude of bootlegged live shows) in entirely new creative uncommercial direction that somewhat rubbed off on Wetton both socially and politically when the original guys got back together to record four albums from 2007 to 2014 on such songs as “Parallel Worlds”, “Holy War”, “Bury Me in Willow”&  “Nyctophobia” to sort up follow-up the somewhat political direction that Payne’s such as the 2004 title track to “Silent Nation” and “Free” from 2001’s previous album, Aura.

Payne brought a lot to the table to Asia on five fantastic albums, Aqua, Aria, Arena, Aura, and Silent Nation – the latter having broken the pattern of titles that begin and end with the letter A. On Aria, John Payne dedicated a song to his father called “Military Man” who served in the Royal Army. The above video is my personal favorite from the Aura album “Wherever You Are“. Payne and I once had a few drinks after a show they did at The Whisky a-Go-Go in West Hollywood and he confided in me that they lyrics were particularly tough for him to write because he was going through a lot of personal stuff and fending off demons. Former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade joined Asia for their last two major US tours and you can see him in the video.
After his long stint in Asia, Payne teamed up with guitarist Guthrie Govan (formerly of Asia too) and drummer Jay Schellen (Circa) to form GPS. They recorded one album called Window to the Soul with Spock’s Beard Ryo Okumoto guest starring on keyboards. If any of the material from the album was performed, it was performed on any one of John’s John Payne’s Asia Featuring John Payne summer tours with Rocket Scientist keyboard wizard Erik Norlander. GPS’s label, InsideOut Music claims that GPS was contracted to deliver three albums, but the band was shortly dissolved after the release of it’s only single album. Last I heard, John Payne moved to Las Vegas to help produce a rock and rock styled rock musical called “Raiding the Rock Vault with a revolving door of a who’s who of rock and progressive rock legendary dignitaries (even Yes’ Jon Anderson stopped by for a stint) formerly at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. But after that show closed, he’s built a private studio in the Las Vegas area where he works on projects for him and close friends.
You can catch John touring as part of the Rockpack tour for the remainder of the summer along with former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm and former Journey singer Steve Augeri, and former Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball. They’ll all be under the stars in Sandy Utah this upcoming August 18th.
A bonus treat: Here’s a review of two Border storre appearances in the Los Angeles area bakc in the fall of 2004.
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Hanging out with John Payne at a Spock’s Beard show somewhere in West Hollywood 2006.
ASIA AT THE BORDERS
 

By Cary Coatney

One of my favorite all time closet bands (the kind of band you don’t dare admit to liking past the age of forty due to the retaliation of mullet haircuts and parachute pants jokes) embarked on a two week tour of Border’s Books and Music stores all across the US that was both intimate and unique. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of the shows due to that they were within a reasonable travel distance from my place of residence. Earlier this year, Yes did a familiar type of event at a Tower Records that was within a two block walking distance from my house, but there were some unforeseen circumstances that made that event a little bit too much of a media blitzkrieg with all the waiting on line to get a wristband, the mandatory cash or credit plunk down for a new CD and DVD, and wind up with nothing but perhaps a fifteen second chat with each member- but alas, with John Payne and Geoff Downes of Asia, you could have a sit down and chat about the weather, Quiznos oven baked sandwiches, or who they think is going to win the November US presidential election until they got bored with you and sent you away.

The first show in Westwood or the West Los Angeles area which took place on a Friday night, was surprisingly sparsely attended by as few as twenty-five fans (but they had a nice little stage to perform on) with a few lookee-loos here and there peeking over the coffee bar to ascertain who was responsible for all the racket as opposed to the smaller and more crowded coffee bar area that followed on the next night in my hometown of Sherman Oaks, Ca ( approximately more than sixty heads were counted). If I owned some wheels, I would probably would have followed them up the coast to Santa Barbera for the next afternoon show.

From what Geoff Downes sermon to the audience at some point during the performance, he stated that the purpose of this chummy little cozy get-together was not only to promote or make aware of the newly released Silent Nation album (on that fabulous Insideout Music label), but to sort of demonstrate or ruminate to attendees of what goes into a songwriting process. If one can follow along with the bare bone essentials of how all the ingredients fall in place into what goes into a song, the better in the appreciation of listening to it- at least that’s what I tried to rationalize from what Geoff was trying to say after they finished playing Wildest Dreams on nothing but a Korg Triton keyboard and a Spanish guitar before launching into the current single, ‘What About Love’ off the new album.

John Payne revealed a few secrets of what inspired him to write the new material. The lyrics to the new single, Long Way From Home reflected on John’s feelings on traveling abroad to record the new album from all the way from Wales to Burbank, California and the origin behind the title track from the new album dealt with a Howard Stern rant on the eroding of America’s civil liberties by evidence of the FCC crackdown of radio shock jocks across the nation that John just happened to be tuned into whilst between tour stops during the last time they were toured America (Janet Jackson’s much talked about wardrobe malfunction during last year’s Super Bowl halftime didn’t help matters either).

The little bits of monologue in between numbers wasn’t all that adroitly somber. Both Downes and Payne had some lighthearted moments as if they were channeling the spirits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (or was it the Smother Brothers?) , especially when it came to telling amusing jokes & stories about Steve Howe since John Payne was fortunate enough to tour with the guitar legend when he first joined the band for the Aqua album. I never did quite get the punchline to the ‘how many Steve Howes does it take to screw in a guitar string? – are you sure you even want to be in the same room with them?’ John P also pondered on whether John Wetton was actually thinking of Steve Howe when he wrote the line in Wildest Dreams, ‘they recommended euthanasia for non-conformers everywhere.’ And the mystery still remains unsolved to this very day- did the hair band, Europe actually swipe Geoff Downes’ opening synth motif for ‘Only Time Will Tell’ for their hit single, “the Final Countdown’? Even Jon Anderson wasn’t immune from their schick- they made a playful jab on maestro Anderson’s Alzheimer antics based on accounts heard from their collaborator, Billy Sherwood on a couple of tracks of the new album about how Jon would keep getting his name confused with Bobby Sherman – leading to the dedication to him in ‘Ghost in the Mirror’, one of my favorite tracks off the new album.

For those crowd pleaser seeking late seventies retribution got their wish when Geoff did took off on his little medley of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ from which I understand that Geoff will be performing with his one time Buggles partner Trevor Horn for a benefit in his honor sometime in England next month. The new material was just as well received as the old stalwart hits judging from the audience reaction. Hearing the striped down versions of ‘Wildest Dreams’ and ‘The Heat Goes On’ had my mind floating in orbit back to those nostalgic times of innocence of rigorous pain-in-the-ass piano instructors or heated moments when I would hide with my Asia and Alpha sheet music in between recitals of Bach or Mozart or transcription assignments for Music Theory classes back in high school just for a little dose of sanity – so it was fun to hear these ‘low carb’ versions over the course of the two nights and from what I could see from over Geoff’s shoulder, the visualization of seeing him displaying his chops up close and personal- there is indeed a lot of argumentative thought that goes into the execution of these simple ‘pop’ songs.

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It was a shame that drummer Chris Slade hasn’t mastered the skill of figuring out a map of the Los Angeles area yet- otherwise, I would’ve gotten three autographs on the new album for the price of two. I’ll be anxious for Geoff and John to be bringing the full band back for a ‘real’ album tour sometime in April of next year.

Setlist: (both nights, October 14 and 15, 2004)

Wildest Dreams
What About Love?
Long Way From Home
Heat Goes On
Silent Nation
Only Time Will Tell
Ghost in the Mirror
Video Killed the Radio Star
Heat of the Moment