“RED DAWN” Returns!

Someone is spray painting “wolverines” on destroyed Russian vehicles in Ukraine. It’s probably a reference to the classic Cold War film, Red Dawn, about a group of American teens who fight to protect their small Colorado town after a Soviet invasion…

As first reported by Task & Purpose, one of the earliest instances of the graffiti showed up on a T-72 spotted on a Ukrainian roadway on April 7. Since then, the graffiti has appeared all over downed Russian assets…

In Red Dawn, the Soviet Union invades America and the audience watches as a group of kids resists occupation using guerilla warfare. When the kids destroyed a piece of Soviet military equipment, they’d spray paint the name of their high school mascot— “Wolverines”—on to it…

Colorado and Ukraine are far apart, but the images of burned out tanks tagged on highways are similar in both places. It’s surreal and disturbing to see images from a war zone that imitate a Hollywood film so perfectly.

Art imitates life and vice versa … comes to mind.

Brief History of yippee-kay-yay!

Twenty-five years ago this week, the action movie Die Hard opened and Bruce Willis uttered that famous line.

But where does the yippee-ki-yay part come from?

The yip part of yippee is old. It originated in the 15th century and meant “to cheep, as a young bird,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The more well-known meaning, to emit a high-pitched bark, came about around 1907, as per the OED, and gained the figurative meaning “to shout; to complain…”

Now how about the whole phrase, yippee-ki-yay? It seems to be a play on “yippie yi yo kayah,” a refrain from a 1930s Bing Crosby song, “I’m An Old Cowhand.”

Do cowboys really say this? We’re guessing probably not, unless of course they’re single-handedly (and shoelessly) defeating a gang of bank robbers on Christmas Eve.

Have to realize, folks, just how popular Bruce Willis is in working class America. I know a few cowhands in my neck of the prairie and I’d bet they’re not alone in repeating BW’s badass bravado. In fact, I have no doubt there are beaucoup more non-cowboys than cowboys ready to play at being a Willis-style hard man. With or without a proper H&K MP5 Machine Gun.

Consider the sex scene in movies

Wait, what sex scene? That’s precisely the question that four New Yorker critics are asking in a roundtable discussion published today, part of our first digital-only issue.

Much of recent cinema is now Pixar- or Marvel-adjacent, featuring superheroes and villains. “It’s embarrassing to say but, like, male testosterone levels are down, and nobody does anything cool anymore,” Vinson Cunningham notes. “And everybody is afraid of everything, and therefore we are a sort of post-vitalist culture.” New blockbusters seldom portray romance as a central theme, and we’re far from the era of “kinky classics” like Paul Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct,” from 1992, or even “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which is nearly a decade old.

So are we really moviegoers—or streaming-addled couch potatoes—living in a post-excitement, post-sex world? As Alexandra Schwartz asks, “Has eros gone out of the sex scene? And, if it has, can we find it elsewhere?”

Read it. Please.

The Cherokee Nation is offering rebates to film in Oklahoma


Filming “Killers of the Flower Moon” in the Cherokee Nation

Native Americans have been depicted in film since the earliest days of Hollywood, but often in ways that pushed negative and offensive stereotypes…

Now, Native American tribes are working to expand their role in film and TV production to help revitalize and diversify their lands’ economies, as well as improve representation of Indigenous people onscreen…

While some states have included diversity as part of the qualifications for their production tax incentives, last week the Cherokee Nation went a step further, introducing what it said was the first film incentive offered by a Native American tribe — a cash rebate of up to 25% — to filmmakers who shoot on its land. The credit is in addition to Oklahoma’s existing film tax credit.

“Helping an industry get introduced to the region and to [get] a foothold is important,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Those are all great opportunities for our people and really just to generate some economic vitality in an area that could use it.”

Overdue in so many ways. Not only from the side of the Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma; but, from Hollywood and the film industry.

Want to be in the movies?


AP Photo

J. Robert Oppenheimer changed the world during his time in New Mexico.

He is credited as being the “father of the atomic bomb” with his role in the Manhattan Project.

And his story is set to hit the big screen in 2023 in “Oppenheimer,” which is slated to film in New Mexico this year. The film is being directed by Christopher Nolan and the cast features some heavy hitters as well, among them Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Rami Malek, Josh Hartnett and Benny Safdie.

Cillian Murphy is slated to play Oppenheimer.

The project is in preproduction in New Mexico, though it has not registered with the New Mexico Film Office.

There will be a casting call on Saturday at Garson Theater, 1600 St. Michaels Drive, in Santa Fe. There will also be one on Sunday at the Los Alamos High School Auxilary Gym, 1300 Diamond Drive in Los Alamos. The casting call will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the respective days.

Hey, being in a crowd scene, reenacting an important piece of history, maybe even a bit part handing a cuppa coffee to a recognizable star would be a kick. And my guess is this will be a good film. The days of glorifying historic death and destruction are well behind us. Except for Republican agitprop, nowadays.

RIP Lina Wertmüller

Lina Wertmüller, a central figure of Italian cinema and the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award in the best director category, died this week, Italy’s Ministry of Culture confirmed…She was 93…

Wertmüller made films that were both debased and staunch in their moral standing, condemned and adored, with pitch-black endings preceded by comedic beats.

“I think I have two souls,” Wertmüller told Criterion in 2017 ahead of a retrospective of her films. “One is playful, ironic, with a sense of humor. The other is in contact with the dramatic face of life and human problems around the world. The two natures live in me and never abandon me. My films might reflect this personality unconsciously.”

Her films were divisive, but she found an international audience: She was the first woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar for her film “Seven Beauties.”

RogerEbert.com’s Charles Bramesco said her films, political commentary disguised as sex farces (with an emphasis on the sex), “titillated and scandalized audiences.”

Wertmüller told Bramesco in 2017 that “there’s no doubt that sensuality and eroticism are part of Italian cinema.” But she used sexuality as a lens through which to explore class dynamics and gender politics.

There will be retrospectives…no doubt. Try to watch as many of her films as you may have missed. I think many of Italy’s best actors and actresses of that period waited in line to capture a part in one or another of her films. At least those who I really loved.

Today’s updates on NM movie set shooting

A veteran prop master said he turned down a job on the Alec Baldwin film “Rust” over warning signs on a production where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed last week by a prop gun fired by Baldwin.

“I turned the job opportunity down on ‘Rust’ because I felt it was completely unsafe,” Neal Zoromski told NBC News’ Miguel Almaguer…

Zoromski indicated that one potential issue that stood out to him was that producers combined the positions of assistant prop master and armorer into one job on the film.

“I impressed upon them that there were great concerns about that, and they didn’t really respond to my concerns about that,” Zoromski said.

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Detectives found loose and boxed ammunition, some of it in a fanny pack, at the New Mexico movie set of “Rust” after the fatal shooting of the Western’s cinematographer, according to a police search warrant inventory.

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Three black revolvers and nine spent shell casings also were collected, according to the list filed with the Santa Fe Magistrates Court and released Monday.

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Typically, ammunition would be kept in a single labeled box, veteran professional armorer Mike Tristano told The New York Times. “The fact that there is loose ammunition and casings raises questions about the organization of the armory department,” he said.

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And so it goes…

Movie monsters and American politics

Zombieland: Double Tap is in theaters. And Donald Trump is president. Coincidence?!

Not according to one theory. In 2009, a “science and pop culture” blogger crunched the numbers and found a correlation between movie monsters and who’s president. When a Republican is president, zombie movies are popular. When a Democrat is in the White House, vampire flicks rule…

Every few years a click-hungry writer resurrects this story. (My turn!) In 2011, Cracked shared “6 Mind-Blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America.” And in 2017, Huffington Post asked, “Does The Party In Power Determine The Monsters In Our Blockbusters?…”

According to philosophy blogger S. Peter Davis, the dominant movie monster reflects the fears of the party out of power. Zombies symbolize what spooks progressives, and vampires stand for conservative anxieties.

Zombies are the ultimate conformists…Vampires are at the opposite extreme. They’re enemies of “the normal.” As Davis points out, vampires are the ultimate deviants.

RTFA. See if the details make sense to you. Not that very much of American politics makes sense.