Tag Archives: Ghostbusters

Don’t Tread on Ghostbusters (1984)

The summer takes its toll on my sanity. Time, though more abundant, disappears in a blink. The kids are always there. Staring. Demanding food and entertainment. But as much as I’d like to blame the children for all that ails me, including this cough I just can’t shake… there’s something else that’s been bothering me, like a t-shirt with a scratchy tag.

It’s about Ghostbusters. 

Yes, again, goddammit. I’m stuck in a recursive loop.

IT Crowd - off and then on again

 

 

For my next trick I’ll write about Ghostbusters.

I’ve written about Ghostbusters (1984) a few times. (Here as a part of mental therapy and here as a thinkpiece about time passage and perception.) I’ve even written about the trailer and misplaced Internet rage for Ghostbusters (2016). I spend a lot of time thinking about Ghostbusters. Next I’ll discuss how amazing it is that Kate McKinnon’s hair in Ghostbusters (2016) is an homage to Egon’s hair in The Real Ghostbusters. 3000 words, minimum. It’s come to my attention that the four times I saw Ghostbusters in the theater in 1984 may have played too formative a role in my childhood development.

Just one more reason to love Holtzman.
Just one more reason to love Holtzmann.

But today, I’m going to pen a bl-g post that shouldn’t need to be written. Even now it feels like wasted breath… or more accurately wasted key strokes, but the latter sounds far less dramatic. Like writing about how the sky is f’ing blue.

I’m writing this to remind you that Ghostbusters (1984) is actually that good.

(From now on I will liberally substitute “1984” for Ghostbusters (1984) and “2016” for Ghostbusters (2016) to save on those wasted key strokes.)

I’m looking at you, asshole on Letterboxd who watched Ghostbusters (1984) for the first time and said “If this was your childhood, there wasn’t anything to ruin anyway.” That guy wasn’t alone; he was just the biggest asshole. Just scan the latest first-time watches of 1984 on Letterboxd and you’ll find a glut of viewers using similarly incendiary language. I’ve kept a sideways eye on these ongoing first-watch developments (which, I’ll admit is masochism on par with reading the comments on Huffington Post) when I should have run screaming from this activity like Ray Stantz from the New York Public Library.

library ghost ghostbusters
Get her, Ray.

These comments exist as a hyperbolic reaction to the “you’re ruining my childhood” idiots. (Disclaimer: I do not condone the “ruining my childhood” behavior either.) But what gives you the right to fire back at me, the innocent bystander championing both 1984 and 2016, to claim my childhood experience was the rippled Charmin to your mindless Internet dump. Don’t unleash your cynical me-first derision unless you have something constructive to say — the one little caveat here is that your cynical me-first derision, by nature, offers nothing constructive whatsoever and is really just a plea for attention.

 

The Internet Troll Quarantine

I compartmentalized these comments in my “Internet Troll Quarantine,” which is like sending the lepers to Crete, except in my head and less sunny. I could manage the troll queue, but then I read the following comment in the New York Times, courtesy of one of my favorite film critics, A.O. Scott:

I have to say it makes me very happy when big commercial movies provoke serious political arguments, but before we dive into that particular fray I want to make a few statements I trust will not be terribly controversial. 1) Kate McKinnon should be in every movie from now on. 2) The new “Ghostbusters” is like the old “Ghostbusters” in that it gives comic performers who gained popularity on television and in more provocative projects a chance to widen their appeal and increase their earning potential with a mainstream action-comedy. 3) The old “Ghostbusters” isn’t that great to begin with.

Yes. Mm-hmm. Kate McKinnon should be in every movie. And totally. The new Ghostbusters is in many ways like the old Ghostbusters. Right on, A.O. BUT HOLD THE PHONE. “The old Ghostbusters isn’t that great to begin with”? You’ve been a lighthouse of reason and sanity in these dark and foggy cinematic times, A.O. Scott. And now you’re shattering one of the few unassailable truths in my cinematic worldview? Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria.

Sky is blue. Grass is green. Rain is wet. Ghostbusters (1984) is great. No? What’s with this sudden reassessment?

Quite frankly its about damn time we saw some proton packs back on the big screen.
Quite frankly its about damn time we saw some proton packs back on the big screen.

Let’s first get a few things straight. I’ll speak plainly so not to confuse anyone. I’ve always been in favor of reviving the Ghostbusters franchise. New actors, old actors. Whatever. The franchise for various reasons was never allowed to reach maturation. The choice to cast all women was a logical and somewhat inspired twist on the formula. Casting Kate McKinnon was the best decision anyone in Hollywood has made this year.

I’m not here to offer a point-by-point comparison between 1984 and 2016. They are different entities. But I will highlight one specific failure of 2016 to prove a point.

 

Now to use Alton Brown to make a random point about screenwriting

The original Ghostbusters screenplay by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis has been heralded as one of the finest examples of Hollywood screenwriting. Every scene contributes to the film’s forward momentum. I argue that not one scene is wasted. But how would I define a wasted scene? A scene that exists for one reason alone. Alton Brown would call them unitaskers and explain why unitaskers have no place in his kitchen. Unitaskers are scenes that hit narrative beats without conflict or humor… or vice versa. Unitaskers are exposition. Find me a scene in 1984 that doesn’t function on multiple levels. A good movie minimizes the use of these one-purpose scenes, but sometimes they’re inescapable. Great movies avoid them altogether.

alton brown unitasker

1984 also benefited from a largely extinct collaborate creative process. The screenplay as blueprint allowed freedom for improvisation. Jason Reitman, son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, confirmed that most, if not all, of Bill Murray’s dialogue was improvised. Outside of Adam McKay, who allows his actors that kind of freedom? To take this one step further, what studio would allow such a thing on the set of a big budget film? The improvisation works within the framework of the script due to the focused momentum hurtling toward a satisfying, logical finale. Modern moviemaking has been castrated by the big business of making movies. Mass appeal. Managed and massaged for  global consumption.

It is precisely this satisfying finale that sets 1984 apart from other frivolous blockbusters and Ghostbusters (2016) in particular. 2016 meanders toward its end. It dwells in scenes that function only as comedy with no forward push. I’m thinking specifically at the moment of the two scenes of back alley gadget trials. 1984 demonstrated proton packs, traps and other gizmos on the job, in scenes that furthered the narrative.

Ghostbusters proton pack elevator

“It just occurred to me we really haven’t had a completely successful test of this equipment,” Ray says as he, Egon and Venkman ride the elevator up. Egon switches on Ray’s pack and backs away. While the gadget porn scenes in 2016 offer a fun detour, they contribute nothing to the narrative progress. They’re throwaway bits of comedy.

These wasted unitaskers likely contribute to the long, overblown effects-laden finale (an all too common pitfall of modern blockbuster cinema). Distract with effects and noise and maybe the audience won’t notice that we haven’t earned this ending. The new Ghostbusters resolve their respective paranormal crisis by using a vaguely established nuclear device on Ecto-1. Toss the hearse in the pit and blow it up. Bingo bango. This, of course, functions parallel to “crossing the streams.” Each is treated as a brash, irresponsible last-ditch gesture that threatens humanity should it fail. 1984, however, established the perils of “crossing the streams” way back at the beginning of the film when busting their first spook in the hotel ballroom.

“There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.”

“What?”

“Don’t cross the streams.”

Thus, when facing Gozer and the team of paranormal exterminators has run out of available options to close the dimensional portal, “total protonic reversal” has already been established. The audience recognizes the logic, feels as if they too could have come to the same conclusion. The most effective resolutions are the ones that the audience *would* have expected if they weren’t too busy being entertained. Meanwhile when 2016 tosses the Ecto-1 into the abyss and lights the radioactive fuse, this choice comes from nowhere.

The screenplay in Ghostbusters (2016) completely breaks down during the final third of the film. This isn’t an isolated phenomenon. I don’t mean to single out Ghostbusters (2016) as some sort of anomaly. How many movies have you seen in the last year alone that fall apart while trying to conclude a narrative? It’s a screenwriting failure that can be traced to the scenic level. Plant the seeds for the ending in Act One or early in Act Two. Harvest in the finale. When that doesn’t happen, however, the quick fix is misdirection through effects and noise. I’m oversimplifying the screenwriting process, but this lesson was cribbed directly from the lecture I received on the second day of my undergraduate Screenwriting class.

 

I forgive you A.O. Scott, but I won’t forgive the nostalgia-shaming trolls.

Too many writers. Too many ideas. Too much interference from studios. There are many reasons that even great  scripts fail between conception and reaching the screen. If it were easy, every movie would at least portray a sense of narrative competency and Ghostbusters (1984) wouldn’t be a quintessential piece of Hollywood escapist filmmaking. It’s actually 1984 that remains the anomaly. And yes, A.O. Scott, it is that good. I’ll let your momentarily lapse in judgment slide.

Ghostbusters is also an inextricable part of my childhood. It is actually perhaps my most vibrant slice of personal nostalgia. Remakes, reboots, spinoffs cannot change that — but don’t you dare troll 1984 by casting unwarranted derision because you want to set yourself apart, to elevate your opinion above mine by using my nostalgia against me.

Lewis Tully possessed ghostbusters
It just makes me so mad.

I’ll admit that nostalgia plays a role in my affection for Ghostbusters (1984), but appreciating Ghostbusters does not require nostalgia. Sure, some of the matte effects look dated, Gozer’s dog puppets are comically rooted to the floor, and maybe the gender politics seem slightly questionable… but don’t you dare doubt the reasons that 1984 remains excellent entertainment. Nostalgia is not a dirty word. It’s also a legitimate reason that someone can enjoy a movie. No one’s frame of reference is less important than yours. If you care to read more, I wrote about Nostalgia and moviewatching in my #Bond_age_ essay on Moonraker.

Oh and a few more truths.

The 1980’s f’ing ruled and Ghostbusters remains one of the best things ever. If you disagree, I wouldn’t open my fridge tonight if I were you. Someone might get the munchies.

zuul dana's apartment ghostbusters

 

 

The Ghostbusters Trailer and Internet Rage

In case you missed it, Paul Feig’s all female Ghostbusters trailer went live this week. I’m not sure how you could have missed it considering that the Internet immediately became a Petri dish of hyperbolic overreactionarianism. And no, “overreactionarianism” is not a word, but I’m going to make it happen because that’s exactly what I witnessed on my Twitter and Facebook feeds last Thursday. Overreactionarianism is a phenomenon that has grown increasingly popular on the Internet lately. The doctrine of overreactionarianism states that everyone has a high horse and whenever possible they should jump on said high horse and trample all other opinions with only a minimum amount of information at hand. Overreactionarianism to this trailer took two very distinct forms.

The Ghostbusters Trailer, Rage and Overreactionarianism

First there was the angry nostalgists who rose up in arms against those who would dare update/remake/reboot Ghostbusters.

Get that shit out of my face (angry baby)

Continue reading The Ghostbusters Trailer and Internet Rage

Record Store Day 2014 Wishlist by @30hertzrumble

Record Store Day 2014 Wishlist

by James David Patrick

Record Store Day always offers a wide breadth of unique and rare selections for vinyl connoisseurs and music fanatics. While at first glance, 2014 didn’t seem to offer any of the must-have big ticket items of years past, the more I studied the list, the more excited I got. See you crazy folks in line on Friday night.

 

Ray Parker, Jr. – Ghostbusters 10″

 

Ghostbusters - Record Store Day

I’ve well documented my affection for Ghostbusters, the Ghostbusters soundtrack and colored vinyl. Holy shit, this release is the perfect storm of 30Hz must have. IT GLOWS IN THE DARK, PEOPLE.

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The Cure / Dinosaur, Jr. – Just Like Heaven 7″

 

Cure/Dinosaur, Jr. Side by Side

One of the greatest running gigs that Record Store Day has going are these Side by Side releases where a band covers a song on Side A (in this case Dinosaur, Jr.) and the original song (The Cure) appears on the B-side. Some of the covers are rather uninspired, but this cover (originally released in 2005) delivers the J. Mascis and Robert Smith in equal measure.

Here’s a live performance of Dinosaur, Jr’s “Just Like Heaven” from KEXP.

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Alexander Robotnick – Vintage Robotnicks

 

418455875768

Robotnick is a minor legend of the Italo-Disco music scene of the 1980’s. And while we tend have cold sweats when we think of disco… bellbottoms and sequins and John Travolta… this is straight-up synth-heavy electronic. Think a less German Giorgio Moroder. Though much of this compilation was released in the US on a 2003 CD release called Rare Robotnick, I can think of no better place to spin this record than my turntable.

Here’s a sampler of the record:

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Electroconvulsive Therapy Vol. 2

 

Record Store Day 2014 Medical Records

Just in case you didn’t get your Italo-Disco fix (not I) with Alexander Robotnick, here’s a collection of very rare tracks from the same era. This stuff is infectious, off-beat and I’ve been spinning stuff from this era pretty heavy of late. It just so happens, #RSD14 noticed my obsession. This record is pressed in “Italian-Flag stripe” colored vinyl.

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Nino Rota – Amarcord OST

 

Record Store Day 2014 Nino Rota - Amarcord

Apparently 2014 became the unofficial year of the Italians. Nino Rota was an composer, pianist and intellectual most known for his scores for Fellini and Vischonti films. He also won an Oscar for his score for the Godfather Part II. His resume contains more than 150 film scores during his 46-year career. It just so happens that I’m a Fellini junkie and performed a 100% legit double-take when I saw this 180g transparent blue vinyl reissue on the list of RSD releases.

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Django Django – The Porpoise Song 7″

 

Record Store Day Django Django

First of all, that’s a beautiful 7″. Second, this is Django Django covering a Monkees song. I could seek out the track to sample it but why spoil the moment of initial reveal on my own record player. Third, the B-side of this beaut contains “Flat Of Angles Part 4” a spoken word piece by Benedict Cumberbatch. Spoken word. Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch. Benedict. Sorry. Once I start with that name I get stuck in some sort of mental loop.

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Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full 7″

 

Record Store Day - Eric B & Rakim Paid in Full

This is a re-issue of the UK 7″ single for “Paid in Full.” The Coldcut Remix on this record reached #15 on the UK charts but was never officially released stateside.

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Saturday Looks Good To Me – Love Will Find You, S/T

 

PrintedCDJacketTemplate PrintedCDJacketTemplate

I’m not sure if Saturday Looks Good To Me was the first modern indie band that brought “Detroit Soul” back into the conversation, but I can’t think of anyone else… so let’s go with that. This is lo-fi garage rock, the kind of music meant to live on vinyl. If I’m not mistaken neither of these albums have ever appeared on vinyl.

Here’s a sample of one of my favorite tracks from Love Will Find You.

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Life Without Buildings – Any Other City

 

Record Store Day Love Without Buildings

This is the first and *only* record ever released by Life Without Buildings. I came to know them through a live record  released well after their demise. During their brief tenure as unknown indie-rawk demi-gods, they became known for their furious live sets.

Sample the track “The Leanover” below:

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Sun Record Company Vol. 1 (Curated by Record Store Day)

 

Record Store Day Sun Records

Sun Record Company was an independent record label started in Memphis in 1952. Sun first recorded Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. This collection of tracks from Sun Records was handpicked by participating Record Store Day vinyl shops. I took a peek at the track list. This one won’t disappoint.

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Haim – Forever

 

Record Store Day - Haim

So, sure, I’m obsessed with Haim. And I have “Forever” in multiple formats/releases. There’s nothing new about “Forever.” But. BUT. This release contains the Giorgio Moroder “Forever” remix. Chew on that.

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Devo – Live at Max’s Kansas City

 

Record Store Day Devo

This is one of three different RSD14 Devo releases. Two full LPs and one 7″. I picked this one to highlight. Consider it highlighted. Buy Devo.

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CHVRCHES

 

CHVRCHES Bones LP

I mean, if you’ve been following me at all on Twitter, you’ll know this is a given.

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Honorable mentions:

Record Store Day - Johnny Cash 418455875694 418455875735 418455876209 418455875845

There’s Time

This is going to be one of those self-help nonsense posts that sometimes pop up on here. I shouldn’t regret self-help. It’s really self-help for me, reminders and gentle nudges to change the way I look at each day. It’s important to consider each day a limited resource. There are 24 hours in each day. How are you going to use them?

During my depression a few years ago, my therapist told me that I’d stopped doing things for myself. I had work and writing and taking care of my kids as a part-time stay-at-home dad. Sometime along the way, I’d stopped watching movies, listening to music and writing for pleasure. In fact, I’d gone so far down the pit that I couldn’t even bring myself to watch movies because the pains of nostalgia I experienced while watching them had become too great. I couldn’t watch Star Wars, for example, because I couldn’t feel the same thrill of being young and in awe. I’d lost much of what had made me, well… me. I just wasn’t taking care of myself because I’d decided that taking care of everybody else was going to be enough.

It wasn’t.

And it’s easy to get into this habit. Life will consume you if you let it. Kids, relationships, work. There’s no time on Monday. Monday becomes Wednesday. And Wednesday becomes 2017. Take stock of the ways in which you waste small moments of your day. Needlessly checking your email or idly scrolling twitter or reading depressing-as-fuck news on CNN as some kind of masochistic torture porn. My point is, there’s always time. 15. 20. 30 minutes. Make time for yourself. Be selfish and not mindlessly complacent with that time.

You have a movie you’ve been wanting to watch? Put it in, if only for a little while. Give yourself a moment to listen to some music, without distraction. Pick your poison…

 

…there’s always time.

 

I woke up last Wednesday and felt the need to watch Ghostbusters and despite having plenty of opportunities I still haven’t watched Ghostbusters. One thing just led to another… you know how it goes. I’m sharing these thoughts to remind myself to stop wasting that time. Seize that idle, wasted fruitless time. Watch Ghostbusters. Read a book. Play a video game. Whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do. Do it. Be selfish.

There's Time - Ghostbusters

That’s nice. Now stop.

Living in Pittsburgh, I have achieved a sort of placid comfort normally reserved for retirement communities and making plans around post-season runs for Cleveland pro sports teams. I don’t mean that I’m hitting the early bird specials, only that when I make plans to do something, in Pittsburgh, I’m rarely inconvenienced. Movies sell out, but generally not the movies I want to see. Concerts sell out, but there’s never a rush to buy tickets to any of the bands about which I wax poetic. I don’t want the secret to get out, but Pittsburgh boasts many of the things that larger cities claim as their own… a stunning cityscape, a thriving arts community, a busy concert calendar (at least lately), three professional sports, a very good symphony with A-list conductors, etc. I don’t want to profess delusion; I daily long to live in Boston again, but for a town of only 400,000, Pittsburgh offers more than your average mid-level metro area for a relatively few number of people.

Frankestein Double Feature presented by TCM

So imagine my surprise this past Wednesday when I was on my way to the Frankenstein double-feature, and when stopped a light, I tried to buy tickets in advance and the Fandango app told me the show was sold out. Sold out? Surely, Fandango was just full of shit. Of  course there are m’f’ing tickets. Nevertheless, I was concerned. On one hand, when I went to see Ghostbusters last year at this same time, the theater still had plenty of seats remaining. On the other, Frankenstein was just one night,Ghostbusters played on at least two consecutive Wednesdays.

Packed 3D movie theater
SOLD OUT

After parking the car in a pretty empty parking lot at the Settler’s Ridge Cinemark, I’d again convinced myself that there would still be tickets. I hurry in to the lobby, still with 20 minutes to spare. There’s Frankenstein Double Feature. 7:00. And there’s the flashy flashy SOLD OUT. Dismay. I’d planned my entire week around this event. I’d chosen Frankstenstein and Bride of Frankenstein over the Dinosaur, Jr. and Shearwater show. It was planned. This was my trip out for the week. I’d gleefully thrown the three-year old into my wife’s arms and run out the door with visions of a big ass popcorn bag, a tub of Coke and corpse reanimation.

I stood in the lobby of the theater staring at the movie times. There were plenty of movies I wanted to see but it didn’t matter what I chose, not really. It was all going to be something other than an angry mob hunting a walking hulk of mismatched appendages.

On one hand, I’m thrilled that people in Pittsburgh are supporting these special repertory screenings. (I wish more of them would support the films, not promoted by the TCM muscle, at the Hollywood Theater.) On the other hand, stop going to see my shit and leaving me, stunned, in the lobby while I decide whether to wait an extra 15 minutes to see Argo or go see The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Wallflowers

For those that care, at best maybe three of you. I saw Wallflower because there’s a kind of backwards pride associated with seeing our little town on the big screen — even though it is happening with increasing regularity.  I found much to like about the movie, even if the final act seemed a little rushed. Seeing my primary commute through the Ft. Pitt tunnel become a repeated and primary plot point for the film felt a little out-of-body. And speaking of the The Hollywood Theater, the Dormont establishment (less than a mile or so from my house) even makes a brief appearance as the setting for a Rocky Horror Sing-a-long. The movie could have been terrible (it wasn’t, go see it) but I would have enjoyed it for one stupid reason alone. When the high school kids in the movie had nothing better to do, they went to Kings. Facepalm for truth.

Hey Emma. Welcome to Pittsburgh. Oh, and you’ll be spending all of your time in Kings.

I always consider Pittsburgh to be this void of cultural taste. Its possible that having spent so much time in Kings during my high school years has irrevocably tarnished my impression of this city. Honestly it’s like Waffle House, only less happy. My relationship with this town can be a little patronizing. I admit. It only grew more so in the decade we were apart. But maybe it’s time I gave the people here a little more credit. After all, those non-cultured bastards prevented me from seeing Frankenstein on the big screen for the first time.

Anyway, after Wallflower, I went home. Put on the Frankenstein DVD and promised myself the next time I rearrange my schedule to do something, I’ll actually buy the tickets in advance… because there are at least a few hundred people just like myself out there, and goddammit, they’re going to steal my ticket.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-3e0EkvIEM[/tube]