Summer’s here, and in Texas, that means stocking up on bottled water and batteries, and being ready for anything, weather-wise. Gulf staters in general know how quickly an innocuous looking poof swirling deep offshore can blow itself into a multi million dollar catastrophe quicker than you can say “get outta my way while I grab this last, lonely can of tuna off the grocery shelf, because my family might starve to death this afternoon.”
Before the big summer rains begin and the power inevitably goes off, taking our cable hook-ups with it, consider cueing up some of these weather films to wile away the hours between checking your Local on the 8’s.
Producer/director/writer/star/alcoholic/transvestite, Edward D. Wood, Jr. was considered the worst embodiment of every aspect of filmmaking. No Alan Smithee, Wood (Johnny Depp) never hid from who or what he was, or wasn’t, either professionally or personally. He just happened to be a misguidedly ambitious, happy heterosexual who was at his happiest when wearing a feminine mohair cardigan. In one of their earliest pairings, director Tim Burton and Depp somehow make us see a silver lining in this otherwise back-and-white film that uses rain as its own cold and lonely character. 1994. Touchstone Pictures (waltdisneystudios.com).
Gayest moment 1: Bunny Breckinridge (Bill Murray): “What about glitter? When I was a headliner in Paris, audiences always liked it when I sparkled.”
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: “No!”
Bunny Breckinridge: “Cat’s eyes?”
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: “No!”
Bunny Breckinridge: “Well, I’m going to need some antennae.”
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: “No! You’re the ruler of the galaxy! Show a little taste!”
Gayest moment 2: Georgie Weiss (Mike Starr): “Why would Lugosi wanna do a sex-change flick?”
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: “Because he’s my friend!”
The Perfect Storm
Will someone please explain why I love this movie? It’s schmaltzy, predictable, dominated by prideful male characters with questionable priorities, has a heartbreaking ending, and smells of bilge water. Worst of all, it’s based on a true story. Mark Wahlberg gets to fully embrace his Nor’easter accent as first mate Bobby Shatford on Captain Billy Tyne’s (George Clooney) Glouchester, Massachusetts fishing boat, the Andrea Gale. Think Deadliest Catch meets Clooney’s Ocean’s franchise (pun heavily intended.) After a valiant struggle against the elements that have conspired against them in epic, unprecedented form, the crew and the vessel are swallowed by the sea they so desperately sought to tame. The film asks the viewer to swallow much, much more (which I do, compulsively, each time it airs.) 2000. Wolfgang Peterson directs. Warner Bros. Pictures. (warnerbros.com).
Gayest moment: Because director Peterson is an avid supporter of animals’ rights, none of the animals, not even the dead fish spilled on the boat’s deck, were real.
Meteorologists (Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton) discover that even an F-5 tornado doesn’t blow as hard as finding yourself in the wrong relationship. But however extraordinary the big-bucks special effects here featuring flying tractor-trailers and livestock may be, they pale in comparison to how desperately the fashion industry needs to come up with another name for the sleeveless scooped white undershirt, otherwise popularly known as a wife-beater: Hunt’s highly visible, post tornadicly, positive ion-charged arousal here is second only to her rain-drenched nipply appearance in As Good As It Gets. 1996. Jan de Bont directs. Warner Bros. Pictures. (warnerbros.com).
Gayest moment: Rabbit (Alan Ruck): “In a severe lightning storm, you wanna grab your ankles and stick your butt in the air.” OK, if you insist….
The local townsfolk don’t care much for newcomer young Wendy Ballantine (Shirley Temple) or her parents (Jack Oakie, Charlotte Greenwood). As veterans of that crass occupation, show biz, a professional considered second only to prostitution and politics in terms of its unseemliness, the Ballantines have a difficult time fitting into their new conservative neighborhood after leaving the white lights of Broadway. It takes a sudden, horrific storm and a selfless act of heroism to wash away the prejudices of their snooty neighbors. But why the Ballantines would choose to live among such tight asses after being sparkly vaudevillians is anyone’s guess. America’s favorite child star was twelve when she shot this film, her final for 20th Century Fox; it introduces Shirley’s audiences to the concept that the little girl was becoming a young lady—a stormy prospect for the equally tight-assed Americans and the executives who had milked her cash cow since the early 1930s. Were the sprinkling-in of scenes here from earlier films of the adorable, much younger Shirley intended to remind us how much America loved its Sweetheart? Or did the edits simply underscore her studio’s unwillingness to let go of the past? Either way, it didn’t make for sunny skies. 1940. Allan Dwan directs. Twentieth Century Fox (foxmovies.com).
Gayest moment: Wendy and her teen chums trying to convince their audience, with call-and-response production number, that:
“We’re not little babies anymore, More!
We think children are an awful bore, Bore!
You don’t realize the fact that we are growing up,
And we’re not little babies anymore!”
Diana Ross: Live in Central Park
A hard, hard rain was falling the night in 1983 for Diana Ross’s much-ballyhooed free concert in New York City’s Central Park. No matter. That concert was cut short, but she returned the next day, proving to the estimated 1 million or more fans in attendance that, indeed, there ain’t no mountain high enough. Reworked, remastered, and re-appearing on television earlier this year, the full concert reminds us why we still call her Miss Ross. May 15. Steve Binder directs. Shout Factory (shoutfactory.com).
Gayest moment: When Ms Ross, clad in her skin tight, rain soaked jump suit, looks like she’s going to be blown away by the elements like Almira Gulch on her bicycle. There are two fun ways to approach viewing this deluge set to song: 1) a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with water guns and newspapers, or 2) a la a drinking game. Do a shot every time Ms Ross vengefully cuts her eyes at Mother Nature for opening the skies; if I were Mother Nature, I’d be scared.