Movie A Day! : 154-160 “Take A Look!”

Right, finally a movie post! I got in a few this weekend, and they were all pretty good ones too! I also started my workout stuff, and boy is it slow going. I did my first full workout after a week of warming up to it, and it was pathetic. I felt thinner though the next morning, so my dumb brain is at least in the right place. Let’s look at some movies!

154 07-01 Zatoichi’s Revenge (1965) 4/5

I’m jumping back into this series. This one is the tenth film, and it ended up being one of the best so far. Basic plot is Zatoichi arrives at the town where he trained with a Master Masseuse, only to discover that his master has been murdered by a crime boss who has teamed up with a corrupt magistrate. Their diabolical plan is to get the villagers into massive debts via gambling and loans so that the villagers have to commit their daughters to a brothel the gangster owns to pay the debts off. It makes for a darker tone than some of the other films, and the slow burn of Zatoichi dispensing justice adds to the suspense. I love these films!

155 07-05 We Walk The Line : A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash (2012) 2.5/5
Not the worst all-star tribute show, but not the greatest either. The highlights are Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, but they don’t get much air time. The version I watched was during one of those stupid PBS pledge drives which is the worst possible way to watch anything, but there was nothing presented that made me think I would want to get the complete show on DVD.

156 07-06 The Ernie Kovacs Collection (2011) 4.5/5
This is a 6 DVD set featuring selections from Kovacs TV career, from the earliest surviving show in 1951 until his last shot show in 1961 when his career was cut short do to a car crash taking his life. Don’t know who Kovacs is? Don’t worry, you’ve seen his influence via Monty Python, Dave Letterman, SNL, pretty much every cutting edge comedy show you can think of. Before TV had a proper form, Kovacs was playing with it, and this collection is simply amazing to watch. Not everything is laugh out loud funny, in fact, most of it is so surreal and strange that it’s surprising it made it to TV at all. Many of his highlights are here, the “Eugene” silent special, his smoking a cigar underwater, the infamous 30 second skit that cost $12,000, the Music Special, examples of his game show “Take A Look”, despite all the material you just want more. Current TV seems dead in comparison to the life and energy Kovacs brought. My only complaint is that many of the shows presented are edited due to rights issues with music. That any of this exists at all, the TV companies were in the process of erasing and dumping Kovacs output in the 60’s when his widow stepped in to buy the material back, makes the music issue a small one. Genius is used far too often these days, here’s a case where it absolutely fits.

157 07-08 The 90’s : The Last Great Decade? (2014) 2.5/5
This was a 3 part, 6 hour look back at the 90’s, which I think is technically my decade since I graduated high school in 91 or whenever I graduated high school. How do people remember dates like this? I never can. I just know it was around this time. Maybe 92. I thought it would be a fun watch, but it just wasn’t. I remembered everything they showed, but there was really no context. It was “Waco happened, then Bill Clinton fucked someone, then Nirvana, then some other thing, then Clinton fucked someone else”, all presented in news clips with no actual context. I would of liked it more if it dealt with movies or music. Especially music since I was totally Gen-X and into the grunge/punk scene. So the end of the whole thing was basically a big “Who cares?” which is kind of a perfect gen-x reaction to looking back at the gen-x decade when you think about it. I probably would of preferred a look at the 80’s, the previous decade I lived through, but as a child that couldn’t fully experience it. To answer the question of the title; it probably was the last “great” decade in that fun and horrible things happened without the threat of losing personal freedoms that seems imminent at this point of the 2010’s.

158 07-12 American Hustle (2013) 3/5
Finally got around to watching this one. Maybe it was high expectations (I really liked SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and loved THE FIGHTER), but it ultimately left me flat. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s a great story with fantastic performances and production. It just never clicked with me. I love a good crime film, and the con in this one was novel and interesting. I think the problem I had was that in order to get that seventies look, it feels a little dressed up and camp. Only Christian Bale appeared authentic, the rest were just too polished and jived wrong. It was distracting enough to pull me out of the picture, as opposed to BOOGIE NIGHTS which hit the look perfectly. Still, not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, and one I’m sure I’ll revisit again.

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159 07-13 Sugar Cookies (1973) 3.5/5

Another stellar Blu-ray presentation by Vinegar Syndrome, this one see’s them teaming up with the mighty Troma studios to bring out an early sexploitation shocker. Before hitting legend status in the eighties with THE TOXIC AVENGER, Lloyd Kaufman struck out with this Hitchcock inspired thriller that he refers to as “The only X-rated movie to not make any money.” Basic plot is an actress is killed in a bizarre sex game, so a woman grooms a naive newcomer into being her replacement. The femme fatale in this one is Mary Woronov. Woronov is a cult legend, mainly from Roger Corman films like DEATH RACE 2000 and ROCK ‘n’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. She always seems to play a prison-marm type role, so it’s nice to see her in this before she got typecast. In this one, she’s drop dead gorgeous and beguiling as the sexually ambiguous Camila Stone who is manipulating poor Lynn Lowry as the actress replacement. It’s the type of performance that should win awards, she carries the entire picture. Too bad it has such a stupid title that makes it sound like a goofy titty flick instead of the type of thriller Brian DePalma would mine years later with DRESSED TO KILL. Certainly worth checking out, provided you’re not afraid of near constant nudity. The blu-ray looks fantastic, and has some great interviews.

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160 07-13 Nebraska (2013) 4/5

Poor old Bruce Dern is so incredibly old looking he can only get roles like this where he plays confused, feeble old men. Fortunately, this one is by Alexander Payne, who has mastered making films about the human condition that manage to not be completely overwhelming with over sentimentality. The basic plot is that of Dern traveling from Montana to Nebraska to pick up a sweepstake prize with his son. It’s all an excuse to explore the father/son/life dynamic, and who know that Will Forte was this good in a serious role? I mean, he’s a comedic genius, MACGRUBER proved that. To see him so low key and subtle, along with everyone else, it just makes for a beautiful and funny film that completely satisfies on all levels. It’s also got Bob Odenkirk as the other brother, so this one just wins on all levels.

Right, that’s it for this week. Pretty near half a month of viewing, and it’s six titles. Not good as far as “A Movie A Day” goes…

Feel free to argue or comment, and share and like and all that stuff.

the end

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