Friday, February 27, 2009

Camera Obscura: 'F.T.A' Returns to America; 4th Futurama Flick; Killing Tyler Perry's Medea

Hip-deep in the main streams of mainstream movies, there are oddities and obscurities which reveal the eerie underbelly of motion pictures. As you read, you may enjoy this Grammy-winning song from 1973, which blends the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" with some jazzy Brazilian riffs by Deodato.

Now then ...

Last week's box office winner, Tyler Perry's "Medea Goes To Jail", is irritating even to Tyler Perry. He's quoted now as saying he wants to kill the character which has made him famous. And not just kill her -- "I would love to see Medea die a slow death in the next film." Why not? His movies bored me to death after one partial viewing, and so her demise seems fair.

This week, the box office may see the Teen Triumvirate of The Jonas Brothers nab the top spot with their 3-D "concert" movie. Carefully crafted in the Teen Labs section of Disney, the trio's music is quickly headed into fame for being part of the CDs-Too-Embarrassing-To-Admit-You-Own. But what will stun the parents in the audiences (and the more perceptive 'tweens) are the rather constant thrusts of microphone stands, guitar necks and hot dogs into the 3-D screens, culminating in a ... a "climatic moment" where the boys each haul out hoses which squirt this white goo over the crowd. Yeah. Subtle. Boys will be boys.


For the first time since it's very limited one-week-long release in 1972, the subversive anti-Vietnam War documentary "F.T.A." is back. Released this week on DVD and airing as well on the Sundance Channel, the movie is an account of the road show into the Pacific Rim protesting the war via skits and songs by a troupe of actors and singers led by Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Dalton Trumbo and others. Yes, it's that Jane Fonda, the one who still angers people today.

While watching it the other night, it was startling to see how vocal and angry members of the military were about the war. Fueled by the protests from the then constantly rising off-base military press of the previous year or two, this anti-USO tour is a full-throttle rebellion by troops, aided by a few Hollywood outsiders. The troop response is scathing, giving voice to an utterly demoralized military. The jokes and songs of the F.T.A. show are not nearly as provocative in comparison. I did enjoy one skit as Sutherland gave a sports announcer rapid-fire on-the-scene play by play of a military strike which goes horribly wrong.

Perhaps this movie would make a nice gift for your aging hippie friends or something to give heart attacks to your conservative pals. Mostly, it plays out for what it is -- an odd sample from a forgotten time capsule, one forgotten on purpose.


The fourth and final (??) installment of the Futurama DVDs hit stores this week, "Into The Wild Green Yonder". Reviews are good, and I surely hope we get more. Here's the trailer.

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