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Celebrity Remote: Kevin Murphy

Kevin MurphyKevin Murphy, voice of Tom Servo and handler of many other aspects of Mystery Science Theater 3000, has taken time out of his day to be my Celebrity Remote for tonight.

Kevin Murphy has a very good grasp on torture by media and self set goals. Kevin sat through some of the world’s worst movies while working on Mystery Science Theater 3000. If that were not enough, Kevin made it a goal to view a movie screening every single day for a year, as documented in A Year At The Movies.

Take a look at what Kevin Murphy has me watching this evening!

I feel like I am back in college as Kevin Murphy has me finding the influence of Akira Kurosawa in today’s modern programming. I will be watching Rashomon with special trips to other stations for some crime dramas.

Rashomon was released in 1950. From what I can tell, 1950 was before 2006. That means it is entirely possible for Kurosawa’s film to influence modern entertainment. If 2006 were before 1950, this would be a different story. And a different universe. A universe where stars are made from the dust of cereal that collects at the bottom of the box.Kevin Murphy

“I don’t understand. I just don’t understand,” are the first lines spoken in the film. I’ve always considered the first and last lines of any piece to be supremely important. Do these lines set up the attitude for the whole film? Look at me. I’m sound like a film major. However, I’m not wearing a French beret and getting high. If I were, the illusion would be complete.

It’s hard to make witty comments as I am reading subtitles. Speak English, please. It is the only language my ears are good at hearing.

The cinematography in this film is great. Even slowly walking through the woods feels like a grand adventure. Which is good, because there is a lot of woods walking.

The slow walker stumbled upon a body in the woods and ran away to tell someone. Just like the opening to every single crime drama. Kevin Murphy may be on to something here.

A bandit and murderer has been captured and is being questioned. This leads to a flashback.

For a quick five minutes, I flip on Spike TV for a glimpse of a CSI episode titled Dog Eat Dog. We enter at a flashback of a large man thinking back to a crime. Weird. The acceptance of flashbacks is a long and time honored tradition. Stories haven’t needed to progress in a strictly linear methods for some time.

In CSI, someone in police custody is being questioned. She had a flashback as well. In these days of rocket ships and video music, flashbacks don’t last very long. They are more like a hiccup. After a while, you don’t even notice the jarring harshness of the transitions.

Continue reading Celebrity Remote: Kevin Murphy…


Kevin Murphy

Kevin MurphyKevin Murphy, voice of Tom Servo and handler of many other aspects of Mystery Science Theater 3000, has taken time out of his day to be my Celebrity Remote for Tuesday, September 19th.

Kevin Murphy has a very good grasp on torture by media and self set goals. Kevin sat through some of the world’s worst movies while working on Mystery Science Theater 3000. If that were not enough, Kevin made it a goal to view a movie screening every single day for a year, as documented in A Year At The Movies.

What does this bearded gentleman, who is well versed in the terrors our ocular and cochlear sensors can withstand, have in store for me? Read on!

Boy, tonight you get a treat. I was going to have you running all over the place to find neck-snapping differences in points of view, when all of a sudden I notice that TCM is running Rashomon. It’s Kurosawa night for you, with a few odd turns along the way.

So we’ll begin at 7pm with TCM, the best channel on the whole damn tube by a long throw, and Kurosawa’s Rashomon, which is great fun; certainly it’s up there with Citizen Kane, which had used the same storytelling device, but it took Kurosawa to explore its extremities in the genre of crime. Take a look at Sin City or The Usual Suspects sometime after seeing this and they might seem like tributes.

Let’s do an exercise in perceiving influence. Fifteen minutes in, flip to CSI on Spike, then back to Rashomon. At the half hour, flip to Law & Order on TNT, then back to Rashamon. At the forty-five, CSI Miami on A&E, then NCIS on CBS. Five minutes each, then back to Rashomon. Note how storytelling, points of view, ambiguity, the element of the unreliable narrator play into the film, each witness bearing their own perspective. Note the other shows, the visual and editorial styles, alternating perspectives told through flashback—you can trace all these now-conventional devices right back to Rashomon.

I know I’m wrecking your enjoyment of Kurosawa; be patient, there’s a payoff. But not yet. At 8PM, head back to A&E and watch a good five minutes of Dog the Bounty Hunter, perhaps the second most irrelevant show on TV, next to Dancing With the Stars. Notice, even with the aid of editing, how little Dog actually does. Mainly we get shots of his ass walking in and out of places. Now run back to Rashomon. Enjoy the high-melodra acting style, redolent of silent films.

At 8:30, a brief foray into the Ridiculous: flip to Comedy Central where they’re showing South Park, “The Butters Episode,” In which the show is given over in all respects to Butters - he even gets his own theme song. Same South Park universe, different perspective. Kurosawa lives, in the oddest of places. Run back to the end of Rashomon.

At eight-thirty, stay tuned to TCM and see Yojimbo, in which Kurosawa, enamored of the American western and the detective novel, made a lone-wolf in a den of thieves story, undoubtedly based on the Hammett novel Red Harvest. It’s the basis of Clint Eastwood’s whole damn career, and Bruce Willis owes the movie a hell of a debt as well. I’ll put in your mind to think of this film as a comedy, and leave you to it. I encourage you to watch it to the end at 10:30. Hope it isn’t past your bedtime.

Kampai.




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