Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

December 8, 1999


By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

Welcome to the future. Please don't be confused by the biplanes, drag racers, Harley-Davidson and talking apes.

Well, OK, you got us. This isn't the real future - it's the future, or futures, that filmmakers have been proposing almost since the birth of the movies.

Technology, according to David Schwartz of the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York, is what futuristic films are all about. That's one reason he and his crew have put together a series called "The Future Is Now," which kicks off Saturday (Dec. 11) and runs through Jan. 2, coinciding with the turn of the millennium.

(Futurism fans not fortunate enough to be in New York during that period will be happy to know that most of the movies are readily obtainable on video.)

"Film is, first and foremost, a technological medium," Schwartz says. "It's a technology you can use to take an imagined world and make it palpable, make it look real.

“One theme we wanted to explore here is how humans interact with technology, and that's what most of these films do.

“The movies in the series range from the scary to the comic; we've got beautiful stuff like 'Metropolis' and fun films like Woody Allen's 'Sleeper.'"

No matter whether a film is set in 2000 ("Metropolis," 1927; "Death Race 2000," 1975) or 2013 ("Blade Runner," 1982) or as far afield as the 22nd century ("Sleeper," 1973), Schwarz points out, "they're all really about their own time."

That's why Fritz Lang's vision of the future, 'Metropolis,' features biplanes soaring high above the film's urban canyons. That's also why the "Death Race" scenario involves cheesy-looking drag racers mowing down pedestrians in a bloodthirsty game show.

Terry Gilliam's super-rococo "Brazil" (1986), of course, purposely posits a future world that contains every imaginable piece of retread retro-junk.

Every theory of film, however, gets stood on its head by the talking simians in "Planet of the Apes." But look at it this way; if Charlton Heston can speak English, why not a bunch of monkeys?

Nor is the future going to be short on glum-looking Raymond Chandler-style gumshoes filled with existential dread, according to films like "Alphavllle" (1965) and "Blade Runner.”

"'Blade Runner’ is really one of the great movie masterpieces that look to the future," Schwartz says. "It's very different from a film like '2001: A Space Odyssey,' which was unavailable for the series. While '2001' is very spare and austere, 'Blade Runner' is filled with the hustle and bustle of a great city."

If nothing else, some of the futures projected by filmmakers are visually splendid. Everyone knows that the story of "Blade Runner" amounts to very little, yet filmmakers, critics and fans are almost unanimous in deeming its gloomy, multi-layered urban atmosphere one of the great triumphs of art direction and cinematography.

Same goes, of course, for "Metropolis," which Lang dreamed up after meditating on the New York City skyline of the Jazz Age.

"And 'Things to Come,'" says Schwartz, with reference to William Cameron Menzies' 1936 adaptation of H.G. Wells' work, "is a futurized version of the Art Deco style. When you see it, you can't help but think 1930s."

French New Wave film gods Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut entered the futurism sweepstakes with "Alphaville" and "Fahrenheit 451" (1966), respectively. While the Truffaut film is based on a Ray Bradbury tale about book-burning in a future age, Schwartz says that's not the film's true appeal.

"It's a beautiful look," he says, "a film where the look is the main thing."

Another element filmmakers envision in the world of the future is carnage, and lots of it. "Mad Max" (1979), "Death Race 2000," "Demolition Man" (1993). and "Blade Runner" have, in the aggregate, more body parts per film frame than most action movies. But sometimes the horror is expressed in a less obvious way.

"One of the great things about 'Brazil' is that all the trouble starts with a little bureaucratic error - a misspelled name," Schwartz says. "That's in spite of all the advanced technology and social engineering. It's still the little things that go wrong."

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

back to top