Movie A Day!: Kung Fu Scoundrels

I read this earlier today. Read it.

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2017/sep/17/choosing-to-be-on-your-own

This one is bigger than I was expecting. Wrapped up The Wire, which left me a little short to post when I usually do. Now it’s a long read. In a couple weeks I start the Scary Movie Challenge. there will be too many posts. Not that I have any idea if anyone actually subscribes to this.

Kung Fu, porno, and classic Hollywood. Pretty typical.


265 09/05 Whiplash (1974) 3/5   Pei-Pei Cheng is back this time capturing a gang of bandits and forcing them to show her where they found some items of her father. It’s a kung fu adventure flick in the mountains with a hidden treasure, played for laughs with a song about boners. It’s one of those awful films that end up being kind of unbelievable and likeable. Hard to recommend, but I’d be tempted to force it on friends.

266 09/08 Sunny (1979) 3.5/5   Candida Royalle takes the title role in this one about a young woman hired to influence a young man but sets out to get his money for herself. It’s classy adult fare from Shaun Costello who manages to slowly add in some sleazy aspects as it goes on to keep the Time’s Square crowd interested. It runs short, which means it never tests your patience and works better than most from the era.


267 09/09 The Wire Season 5 (2008) 4/5   The series wraps up with season, and it’s great. This one shifts focus once again, this time including the media in the tangled web of politics, police works and what not and how the least of anyone’s worries is the people the civil servants are supposed to serve. It also finds McNulty fully succumbing to his obsessions. It’s great stuff, and a perfect ending to the series. I give the whole series a 5/5. Highly recommended.


268 09/09 One-Armed Boxer (1972) 4/5   Jimmy Wang Yu writes, directs and stars in this one, about a boxer who’s master and group is pretty much wiped out by the evil Iron Claw Gang and the evil gangs hired martial arts masters of different disciplines. It’s near non-stop fights, and the whole gang war thing starts over a dudes pet finch. It’s shithouse bonkers, with the one-armed boxers training being the most bonkers of many bonkers moments. It makes for an absolute gem of a kung fu film that has everything you are looking for in an Golden Harvest oldie.    

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269 09/10 The Tattooed Dragon (1973) 2.5/5   This Kung Fu flick can best be described as “serviceable”. Jimmy Wang Yu is back, this time as the Tattooed Dragon, a Robin Hood like character who keeps the thugs at bay. It’s starts off strong, but then does a hard right dealing with a duck farmer and a town’s gambling problems that features far too little fighting to hold any interest. When Wang is kicking the shit out of folks, it’s great! There’s just not enough of it.


270 09/13 Beach Party (1963) 3/5   After all these years, I have finally seen a proper Frankie & Annette Beach Party movie. (I’m not counting the classic Back To The Beach as proper.) It wasn’t really worth it. A bunch of teens are hanging out at the beach, surfing, with an anthropologist studying their habits being the excuse for the whole thing. It’s not a good movie, but it is charming in it’s own way which never makes it super annoying or anything. Dick Dale is sadly wasted, but the self awareness that this film is pandering to teenagers keeps it going. It’s goofy enough that I’ll watch more of these.


271 09/13 Beach of the War Gods (1973) 3/5   Jimmy Wang Yu is back writing, directing and starring in this one about a Chinese town fighting to keep marauding Japanese at bay. For the most part it works, it’s a little draggy in the middle but the last third of non-stop bananas action makes up for it.


272 09/14 Alias Nick Beal (1949) 3/5   An interesting twist on a political corruption story with Thomas Mitchell taking the lead as a crime fighting D.A. that gets a push to being a Governor. Ray Milland is the pusher, and he may be the devil. Lots of noir touches in this one, but it I found dragged bit in the latter half despite how great the leads (and Audrey Totter in a showy support role) are.   


273 09/15 The Man Called Tiger (1973) 3/5   Jimmy Wang Yu is back in the final film in the set I have. This time he’s in a contemporary setting and playing a kind of cool “Steve McQueen” type, only he’s not up to the part like Bruce Lee was. It mostly drags until once again, things go bonkers in the last half with near nonstop fighting.


274 09/15 More Than Sisters (1979) 3/5   The second feature on the Shaun Costello disc that also featured Sunny, this one is the exact opposite. All the glossy style of Sunny is gone, replaced by an incredibly dark and seed psychological thriller that is closer to horror that porno usual gets. It makes for a nice surprise and speaks to Costello’s talent for using any budget to his advantage.

275 09/16 Farm Aid 2017 3.5/5   Spent the day watching this one. Margo Price continues to be a new favourite, but the real attraction for me is seeing what Neil Young is going to do. Young did a set with Promise of the Real and it was simply okay. Young didn’t seem to be into like he typically is. I’m hoping it’s road rust and not age. Willie Nelson wrapped the night up and it’s just a joy to see him out there.

276 09/16 Scoundrels (1982) 4/5   Since unexpectedly getting into porno chic thanks to the fiends at Vinegar Syndrome, Cecil Howard has been a name mentioned in the VS circles as one of the master of the genre. This is the first of his films that I have seen, and I have to say, they’re right. This one stars Ron Jeremy as a successful psychiatrist whose family is coming apart at the seams. Everyone knows Ron Jeremy, he’s a goof. In here he plays it pretty straight, and the film is quite serious in tone, and Jeremy is legit fantastic in this. Especially in the surreal clown bits. And it all works with the near constant sex scenes. A strong film that’s easy to recommend. The Blu-ray put out from Command Cinema with the help of Distribpix is a beauty. 

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Movie A Day!: Wired Asian Action

Once again, I did not forget to post this or abandon the blog. I just flat out didn’t get much watch the week before last, so rather than post a 2 film blog, I held off. My blog my rules! So while the world burns, floods and possibly nuclear rains (if we have a nuclear war before I finish FALLOUT 4, I’m going to be pissed off. I’m really close!), here’s what I watch the past couple week. After the Vinegar Syndrome catch up, I’m back with subtitled foreign films to catch up with before the Scary Movie Challenge. “Subtitled Foreign Films” sounds fancier than “Yakuza/Kung Fu action films”.

Also impacting my movie numbers is my binge viewing of:


257 08/24 The Wire Season 3 (2004) 4.5/5   After the focus on the larger crime world in Season 2, Season 3 gets to what the series is really about: an indictment on the war on drugs. A west division major sets up a safe zone for the drug trade. It’s in the realm of fantasy, but damn if it doesn’t make for some thought provoking television. I’m not even getting into the stories of the cops and drug dealers that started in Season 1 are doing. It’s arguably the best season of the best crime show in television history.

258 08/25 More (1975) 2/5   Another low rent hardcore feature from Ralph Eli, this one manages to be more game to run a detective plot with Harry Reems investigating a murder and the widow basically fucking everyone involved. It’s so poorly made that it’s actually fun to watch, and has a stolen Led Zep soundtrack to boot. I can’t really recommend the triple feature that this is on, but it was kind of a fun watch regardless.

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity The Boss's Head.jpg
259 08/26 The Boss’s Head (1975) 3/5   Second film in the New Battles Without Honor And Humanity series is more of the same. Bunta Sugawara is back, this time as a stray dog Yakuza that is fresh out of a seven year prison bit for doing a hit and getting caught up in Yakuza politics. It’s good for what it is, but failed to knock my socks off.


260 08/28 Last Days of the Boss (1976) 3.5/5   This one wraps up the New Battles Without Honor or Humanity series and I liked it best. It starts off sleazy before settling into one of the more action packed installments which helps it to stand out from the rest. Aside from the action, it’s the usual Yakuza intrigue. The New Battles trilogy of stand alone stories never reach the heights of the original, and end up being more of a tonal tribute. Good for what they are, but didn’t wow me.


261 08/30 The Killer (1989) 4.5/5   Revisited the film that put John Woo on the map and it holds up remarkably well. It’s corny as heck, but damn, those action scenes are still completely bonkers and it’s clear that it’s influence is still reverberating around THE RAID and JOHN WICK twenty plus years later. Chow Yun-Fat is the suavest mother fucker since Cary Grant and the only knock you can have against this film is that Woo followed it up with HARD BOILED which might be the greatest action film of all time.


262 09/01 Kung Fu Girl (1973) 2.5/5   When the DVD cover calls the film “Kung Fu Girl” and the film on the disc is called “None But The Brave” (imdb has it as “Tie Wa”), you know you may be in trouble. Ends up that this one wasn’t too bad. A country kung fu girl heads off to the city to confront the evil Japanese imperials that killed an adopted sister. It’s over long and the fights are clunky. What helps set it apart is the casting. Jackie Chan makes an unimpressive appearance in a small role early on, and Diamond Guy Jo Shishido plays the Japanese baddy which helps to make this one a little more interesting. Star Pei-Pei Cheng Manages to be both engaging and disappointing in that her kung fu is a little to dance-y/staged compared to other leading actresses like Angela Mao. So it all adds up to being mostly a miss.


263 09/02 Throat… 12 Years After (1984) 3/5   Gerard Damiano returns to Deep Throat, only not really. The tag line is “A Reflection NOT A Sequel”, only it has nothing to do with the original film. Which is probably a good thing since despite it’s fame, it’s actually pretty terrible. This one is basically an episodic film about a couple of couples figuring out their relationships. A great cast but it never really stands out as anything too special. (That said, the extra feature interviews on the Vinegar Syndrome disc make it worth picking up as they are more interesting than the feature.)


264 0/03 The Wire Season 4 (2006) 4.5/5   One of the joys of this series is wondering where it can go after the conclusion of a season. This one finds the focus shifting to the war on drugs impact on the school system. It’s the kind of thing I typically don’t like since it follow a group of kids. It’s handled so good, and with none of the fake emotional manipulation that these topics usually have. While this is going on, it the story continues to push forward with the political/police stories that are the base of the series. It might be the best season.

Movie A Day!: Vinegar Syndromed

I was hoping to post this last night but getting back to work and having to work in the warehouse really laid me out. So I’m a day late. One day this blog might get back to it’s regular weekly posts. I know you are all worrying about it. Welcome, let’s have a look.

As promised last blog, I spent my staycation catching up on Vinegar Syndrome smut and sleaze. So it’s a mixed bag for those of you who hate this stuff. For those with a taste for the bad, it’s a real treasure trove.


247 08/11 A Touch of Genie (1974) 3.5/5   One of sexploitation legend Joe Sarno’s early hardcore efforts ends up being something that porno rarely is: adorable. It’s a skid-row version of I Dream Of Genie as seen through the eyes of Woody Allan with tons of Jewish humour and a self awareness to the porn industry at the time it was made. To the point where the humour ends up overshadowing the hardcore. A fun little film that won’t be for everyone but for fans of the genre is a bit of fresh air.


248 08/12 Matinee Idol (1984) 3.5/5   This one finds exploitation legend David F. Friedman writing a story about the trials and tribulations of producing adult films. It’s got a great cast but what sets it apart from standard hardcore fair is there’s a sense of fun to this that’s more in tone with the softcore features he used to make. The story comes first, and it mostly works.


249 08/14 My Chauffeur (1986) 2.5/5   It’s the 80’s and sex-romp comedies are still all the rage! Only this one isn’t really a sex-romp, it doesn’t seem to quite know what it is. A hip Valley Girl type gets the call to be a chauffeur and really sticks it to the patriarchy of old men at the Chauffeur club. Each job is an excuse for wacky shenanigans. There’s boobs. Penn & Teller get a chance to do some business that never really works. None of it really works. Maybe I’m too fussy. Or I’m jealous that she’s all hot over the rich jock asshole. 


250 08/14 Afternoon Delights (1980) 3.5/5   Early hardcore feature from Shaun Costello about a group of guys at poker night sharing stories about their ex-wives. It’s all an excuse for vignettes, but what elevates it from the usual is the vignettes are wonderfully sleazy and there’s a bitter-sweetness to the scripting. It doesn’t hurt that the cast is packed with all stars.


251 08/15 Snapshot (1979) 3/5   A nice little suspense thriller from Australia finds a young hairdresser swept up into the modelling world all while being stalked. It’s never knocks your socks off, but isn’t a bad film to spend your time with and a not bad example of a more straight film from the Ozploitation scene.


252 08/15 The Wire Season 2 (2003) 4/5   The second season picks up where the first left off with the unit in tatters and a new focus: corruption on the docks. The expansion of scope while continuing the story started in season 1 is really striking and well done. The politics are maddening and will change your worldview. It really is the best crime show in the history of television


253 08/16 Slave of Pleasure (1978) 4/5   This one is a sleazy gem of a film about a private eye investigating the disappearance of a housewife that got swept up by white slavers. It’s the kind of cheap, grimy hardcore that scared everyone back in the day, and it’s entertaining as hell since they really go for it. It doesn’t hurt that it has legendary sleazeballs like Jamie Gillis in it.


254 08/18 My Master My Love (1975) 2/5   Sometimes low rent sleaze is simply sleaze, which is the case here. Darby Lloyd Rains stars as a Mistress who’s business is interrupted by the arrival of her little brother. Aside from an appearance of Annie Sprinkle there’s nothing much of note to this one and it manages to be a bit of a chore.


255 08/19 Teenage Masseuse (1975) 2.5/5   From the same filmmaker as My Master My Love and just as cheap and low rent. I give it half a star more mainly due to Bobby Astyr being so hilariously over the top as the abusing dominant. The story works better too, a bored housewife gets swept up into a massage parlour. It’s good for what it is but nothing to recommend.


256 08/21 Red Roses of Passion (1966) 4/5   Vinegar Syndrome’s Sexploitation series kicks off with this Joe Sarno stunner. A woman relies on a psychic who is more witch priestess than flim-flam to get back at her stuffy relatives that she lives with. It plays more like a nightmare than a sex film, with that odd feeling more associated with David Lynch as opposed to David Friedman. It plays very strange, and if this is setting the tone of this series, it’s going to be a real knockout.

There it is. Back to normal for me and my movie watching. I’m going back to the subtitled films. Try to clear the docks since October is coming, and you know what that means.

Movie A Day!: New Cops & Doberman Battles

No, I did not forget to post this on Sunday August 6th. As you will see, I had not much to post. Instead of watching a film an evening we’ve decided to run with THE WIRE. It’s my second go through the series and it’s nice to see it as rewarding as it was the first time. Maybe more so. So aside from it I have only watch a couple more Yakuza films. there should be more, but I put these on when I go to bed and I find that subtitles put me to sleep. It’s really annoying!

As a result, there are only four titles. I was going to wait until I had ten, but I’m starting staycation tonight, and plan to take a pause on the foreign films and catch up with my Vinegar Syndrome subscription. As such the next blog will mostly be old porno and another season of The Wire, you have been warned.


242 08/02 Cops Vs. Thugs (1975) 3/5   Kinji Fukasaku does another Yakuza picture. This one has the same feel as his epic Battles Without Honor Or Humanity series, only I found it not as interesting despite a neat story. A cop and yakuza gangsters are friends, and their roles blur as Yakuza gangs start fighting. Bunta Sugawara was good in the lead, as always, the film just never connected with me. Maybe due to thinking the title mean cop/yakuza fights as opposed to comparing the two similarities? That said, you could do worse.


243 08/04 Vinegar Syndrome Spring Catalogue of Film (2017) 4/5   This one is a trailer compilation of every single Vinegar Syndrome release from the start of the company until the end of May (I think May). Spanning three DVDs, one with all the non-porn, 2 DVD’s of porn trailers, I have to admit it was fun reliving all these releases. For films were trailers are not available, VS has cut their own and it’s really interesting to see their take on hardcore titles that push elements other than sex, as opposed to the period trailers which are all sex. Anyways, it’s a fun set and cheap if you’re curious about the house of VS.


243 08/07 The Wire Season 1 (2002) 4/5   It would be easy to drone on and on about how good this series is, as everybody does. This is my second go round and it’s crazy how good it holds up, in fact, it’s even better on the second watch since there is so much going on in the episodes. It really is one of the all time crime greats.


244 08/07 Doberman Cop (1977) 2.5/5   The great Sonny Chiba stars in this manga adaptation directed by Kinji Fukasaku, the man behind the acclaimed Battles Without Honor Or Humanity series. It has a convoluted plot about a Yakuza gangster trying to create a pop-idol while a serial killer is on the loose and Chiba is a tough bumpkin detective from the sticks looking for a girl who ran away from her town. None of it really works, especially the humour.


245 08/11 New Battles Without Honor Or Humanity (1974) 3/5   I have mixed feelings with this one. It’s not a bad film so much as it is a retread of things already dealt with in the initial series, only featuring actors recast that had appeared in previous installments. Bunta Sugawara is great in this in the new yet similar role as a yakuza trying to find his place after a prison stint. Chipmunk-cheeked Jo Shishido has a fun bit that’s practically a cameo as a syphilis suffering ex-killer, and aside from that it’s business as usual. The nice thing is this is  a stand alone film so no prior knowledge of the previous films is required.

That’s it, I’ll be back in a week or so with possibly a monster sized staycation post.

Movie A Day: DOA Hara-Kiri

So the last week completely got away from me which is why this is so late in posting. I’m rushing this one, expect more spelling and grammar mistakes than usual.

I went on a Asian film kick aside from the usual noir films, I think this is going to continue for a bit so you’ve been warned on what to expect in the coming weeks.


232 07/23 High Wall (1947) 3/5   A man comes back from the war and believes he has killed his wife in this noir. A psychological thriller with Robert Taylor as the damaged soldier and Audrey Totter as the psychologist treating him to see if he’s fit to stand trial, this one is pretty good though I found the pacing a bit off.


233 07/25 Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) 2/5   I can’t believe I watched this one a second time. It’s not a good movie, basically a low rent teen picture with bad rock ‘n’ roll and the only interesting bit is the reuse of monsters from other AIP pictures. And the the tall in glasses, who I shall ever love.


234 07/25 Dead Or Alive (1999) 3.5/5   Takashi Miike’s yakuza cult hit starts off with one of the most glorious pre-credit sequences of sex and violence you’ll ever see. IT never really settles down either. This one features a Chinese gang and a Japanese cop both after the same Yakuza group. I have to admit, I found it a bit confusing, which I’m chalking up more to my horrid and exhausting work week as opposed to a problem with the film. Well worth checking out since it’s absolutely bonkers.


235 07/26 The Naked City (1948) 3/5   A really tight police procedural noir directed by the great Jules Dassin goes DEEP into investigating a murder of a girl. Like most noir, it’s best to go in cold. I found this one a little off, maybe partly to shooting on location in New York working against it instead of for it making for some dodgy sound design? That said, it is damned fine.


236 07/27 Dead Or Alive 2: Birds (2000) 3.5/5   This one features the stars of the previous film playing mostly different roles. Two hitman get end up on the same job and the film turns into a nostalgic look at family and youth. Which conflicts with the Yakuza stuff, and they grow wings… and I have to admit I was a bit lost with this one too but I liked it.


237 07/28 He Ran All The Way (1951) 3.5/5   Super tight noir starring John Garfield as a payroll robber where everything went pear shaped so he’s holed up with a family waiting for the heat to cool down. Garfield is outstanding in this one as a sweaty, paranoid mess and Shelly Winters holds her own as the wounded girl who gets sucked into caring for him. This one pretty much defines noir tropes and is recommended. Also worth noting, both Garfield and writer Dalton Trumbo were blacklisted in Hollywood at the time, being investigated by HUAC for communism. This would be Garfields last picture, he would die from a heart attack afterwards, his life in shambles from the investigation. History is fun!


238 07/29 Suicide Squad (Extended Edition) (2016) 3/5   Finally caught up with this one. It’s not a bad as everyone was letting on. I mean, it’s not a classic but as far as these superhero things go these days, they’re all pretty much the same. This one managed to take itself a bit serious and be goofy at the same time. The soundtrack didn’t help. The producers also realized the only interesting thing early on, so it’s basically a Harley Quinn movie and Margot Robbie steals the picture. That said, it’s still a bit of a plodding mess, but not a total disaster. This is the only version I watched so I can’t compare it to the theatrical though I’m guessing some weird plot things are do to stuff being added. Who cares, superheros fuck shit up. That’s all that really needs to happen.


239 07/29 Dead Or Alive 3: Final (2002) 3.5/5   The stars of the first two films return in this one, and the series goes back to being a bit bonkers like the first one. This one takes place in the future and deals with Replicants. The type of Replicants you would find in Blade Runner. It’s all a bit cheeky, but it works and ends up being a pretty strong film in its own right. It’s interesting the Miike has done two trilogies now that share cast but not narrative. Good stuff.


240 07/30 Star Trek Original Series Season 2 (1968) 4/5   I’ve been watching this one off and on for three years now so I don’t have any deep thoughts to hit you with. It’s a great season, with many iconic episodes like Amok Time. Mirror Mirror, The Trouble With Tribbles, the only real downer ep was the season finale Assignment:Earth which is actually a backdoor pilot and not very interesting. Otherwise the series holds up just fine and is worth a watch.


241 07/30 Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011) 4/5   After watching two trilogies of Takashi Miike, I figured I might as will give this one a go too since it’s been on my shelf. You would think that someone who is so modern and genre defying with Yakuza pictures would be out of step with a period drama but you would be wrong. Miike dials everything back in this one, a story of a Samurai who arrives at an influential house to commit suicide, and it makes for a scathing look at Japanese caste system and history while focusing on more familiar themes like an outsiders family. Great stuff.

Lets take a moment to be thankful for that tall nerdy girl with the glasses, whomever she may be. I hope she had a fulfilled life, as I do you.

Movie A Day: Secrets Of The Triad Women Ups

Moving into the third week of Summer Cold and now trying not to spiral into depression over it. It’s been tough, I’m covering the warehouse at work, it’s tough when you can’t breath. Anyway, movies!

223 07/16 Secrets from Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks (2007) 3.5/5   A really well done documentary on the making of the TV series. Talks to pretty near everyone that should have been in it, with the exception of David Lynch which isn’t much of a surprise.


224 07/17 The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) 4/5   Humphrey Bogart stars as an painter who may be poisoning his wives for inspiration. Bogart is fantastic in this one, and Barbara Stanwyck more than holds her own opposite him. She plays an absolutely lovely woman, which only seems strange when you’ve seen her in dozens of pre-code films playing gloriously manipulative bitches. Man, I love Stanwyck. Anyway, this one is pretty great and worth your time.  


225 07/18 Hail The Conquering Hero (1944) 4/5   Preston Sturges nails another movie. This one about a small town boy who flunks out of the Marines, but ends up being hailed a hero against his will upon his return. Every joke lands, the political commentary is razor sharp and holds up, star Eddie Bracken is perfect in the bewildered lead and I fell in love with Ella Rains. What more can you ask for in a movie?


226 07/18 Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) 4/5   You might think an early Takashi Miike Yakuza picture would be a bit run of the mill and you would be wrong. Really wrong. This one is as bonkers as his more well known films, only playing with Yakuza tropes. Basic plot is the old standard where a cop’s brother has started working with a gang specializing in organ harvesting. There’s more than that going on. The first in a trilogy, I’m hoping the others are as good.


227 07/19 The Clock (1945) 2.5/5   Judy Garland gets a serious non-musical role in this one, starring as a secretary in New York who stumbles into soldier on leave before shipping out. It’s basically like the Before Sunrise series, with the two wandering around falling in love except it’s pretty near charmless and there’s too many bits. A milk delivery scene goes on way too long. I found Robert Walker as the soldier annoying and none of it really worked for me.


228 07/19 Rainy Dog (1997) 3.5/5   The second film in the Black Triad Trilogy has no narrative connections to the first film. This one deals with a Japanese hitman stranded in Taiwan who discovers that he has a child. There is zero sentimentality to this one, it’s got a really bitter feel to it and while not as gleefully bonkers as the first film, this one manages to stick with you.


229 07/21 The Women (1939) 3/5   The most striking thing about this film should be that there are zero men featured in it. I don’t believe you see a single male the whole time, you certainly never hear them. That said, the most striking thing ends up being the shocking array of mysterious hats the leads all wear. The other striking thing is Joan Crawford is almost a bit role but she manages to steal the entire film. Which is saying something considering the strong cast. (I’m also still in love with Paulette Goddard.)


230 07/21 Ley Lines (1999) 3.5/5   Final film in Takashi Miike’s Black Triad Trilogy is another stand alone film, this time dealing with a group of Chinese/Japanese youths in Japan going to Tokyo in an attempt to get some money to leave the country. It’s interesting that the real theme of the trilogy isn’t Yakuza/Triad warfare or gang stories as it is about people stuck in a place they don’t feel like they belong. It makes for three distinct films exploring similar aspects as opposed to traditional film series. They all work in their own way.


231 07/22 The Seven-Ups (1973) 3.5/5   A sort of unofficial sequel to the The French Connection, this one sees Roy Scheider leading a police task force with a license to pretty much break the law in order to catch criminals. It plays it pretty straight and ends up being better than the actual sequel to The French Connection. A good crime plot and a spectacular car chase in the middle make it worth checking out.

 

That’s all I got this week.

Movie A Day: Straight Sugar Pierce

Sick with summer cold this week. Got bad enough that I missed a day of work. Still have it. I feel like this phlegm-y mess is my life now. As a result, lots of movies were watched. I finished up my “True-Life Adventures” jag and started catching up on my Vinegar Syndrome back log. So the sleaze is back, dear readers.


212 07/09 Straight Outta Compton (2015) 3.5/5   The story of NWA is a great story to tell. The performances are great, especially Ice Cube’s kid who plays his dad. I watched the extended director’s cut and it goes on a bit too long frankly, with NWA’s story actually being done before the halfway mark which leaves all the solo stuff which is great for Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, but also means that MC Ren and DJ Yella practically disappear. Still, it’s well done and nails the culture of the era and how stupid the rap business can be. Once again I feel like I would have rather watched a documentary.


213 07/09 Johnny Belinda (1948) 3.5/5   Jane Wyman stars as a deaf/mute girl who is getting help from a town doctor, only there’s a darkness to Cape Breton small time life. Wyman does a great job, and the unsavory subject matter is handled will in this one. It’s best described as a “woman’s picture” from the era, but it plays almost like a film noir.


214 07/10 Detour (1945) 4/5   An essential noir title that I finally got around to watching. A piano player decides to hitchhike from New York to Los Angeles, and gets into the wrong car. It’s a lean number that just completely works and this guy gets hammered maybe the hardest by the wrong set of circumstances and the wrong woman. Essential viewing.


215 07/10 The Hearse (1980) 2.5/5  A woman recovering from a breakdown decides to move into her aunt’s country house and discovers a satanic history and things that go bump in the night. It never really gelled for me and poor Joseph Cotton deserved better movies that this.


216 07/12 Malibu High (1979) 3/5   From the looks of it, this is one of those dopey titty High School comedies that were so popular. It’s not. It’s actually a rather messed up film about a girl who gets dumped and gleefully enters into a prostitution racket. It’s sort of played for laughs, but nothing lands and despite the pacing/cheapness issues it has, it actually works as a low budget neo-noir.


217 07/12 Red Mob (1993) 2.5/5   Russia takes a stab at 80’s style action spectacle and it ends up a total mess. The plot makes zero sense. Something about an ex KGB trying to reconcile with his son and getting mixed up in some other KGB… I have no idea. The action gets bonkers in the second half and the last third is a helicopter chase that seems to last 5 days. It’s more a curiosity than it is “good”, but I have to admit, Sergey Veksler as “Nick” has some serious action chops. To bad he couldn’t transition to western made films.


218 07/12  Journey Into Fear (1942) 3.5/5   The last film Orson Welles delivered to RKO, it’s directed by Norm Foster but Welles’ hand is all over it. Joseph Cotton (who is great in this and carries the film) is an arms dealer in Turkey who gets mixed up in some Nazi intrigue. It’s lean and sharp, but not as good as Welles’ other noir pictures.


219 07/14 Jackie (2016) 3/5   What makes this one interesting is also the problem. The film tells Jackie Kennedy’s story of the days of the assassination. As an assassination nut, it’s interesting and actually something that tends be glossed over. So it’s interesting in that regard, but it also relegates her story to that of “grieving widow” and I’m sure she had a lot more going on than that. It’s a shame since everyone is so good in it.


220 07/14 Sweet Sugar (1972) 4/5   I may be a little biased on this one. Way back in the VHS days dad brought this one home and we watched it late on a Friday night. My intro to the sleazy Women In Prison genre, and at around 12 years old I probably shouldn’t of watched it. It left a mark since it’s so bonkers. Hooker Sugar gets roped into working in a sugarcane plantation run by “Doctor John”, a nut who uses the women for strange experiments. Add in voodoo and this one really is one of the better examples of the genre. It doesn’t hurt that lead Phyllis Davis can carry the film with both her beauty and brawn.


221 07/15 Nurse Sherri (1978) 2.5/5   This one mixes up Satanic possession with the nurse genre and ends up being a real mess despite attempting to be ambitious on no budget. It never works. There’s an alternate cut that puts the sex first over the horror that is supposed to be better, I may check it out at some point.


222 07/15 Mildred Pierce (1945) 4/5   Joan Crawford revitalized her career for the first of many times with this one. She plays a mother that would do anything for her child. It sounds like a melodrama, but it plays like a noir and a dark one at that. Crawford is fantastic, the script is razor sharp and consummate pro director Michael Curtiz nails it. Recommended.