Movie A Day! 031-035: Katnips & Monkeys & Monsters OH MY!

Welcome to what just might be my most commercial selection of viewings ever posted! no grimy sleaze, just good ole’ fashioned franchise picture with the only broken thumb being a silent film from a mainstream director. This is the one post you can show to your mum and have her not be offended!


031 01-24 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) 4/5
I finally got around to watching the sequel. I really liked the first film, but didn’t see how they could really continue it so I wasn’t in any rush to watch this one. Ends up it’s just as good as the first film! It suffers a little bit of feeling like a “Middle Film” in a trilogy of stories in that the plot is in service of setting up further films, but it still works. That said, I have no idea why everyone is so invested in keeping Peeta safe, that guy is the king of all useless schmucks. I had also forgotten that Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in this one, one of his last completed roles. Damn, is he effortless and great. I’m going to miss not getting new Hoffman films. Now I have to wait for the better part of a year to watch the next one. RATS!


032 01-25 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) 4/5
Well, it was a good weekend of sequels for me, since this one was even better than the first! Why Andy Serkis isn’t getting all the awards in the world is beyond me. And fuck Lego while we’re at it, THIS is the best animated film I’ve seen from 2014! (I’ve not seen The Lego Movie, I’m sure it’s fine.) Anyway, it continues the story of Caesar as leader of the apes, taking place ten years later. Who thought that the best film about the current terrorist situation happening in our world would be one full of apes?


033 01-26 House of Frankenstein (1944) 4/5
Okay, this one is a bit of a mess after the last picture, but it’s such a colossal monster wham-bam it’s hard not to love it. Boris Karloff returns to the Frankenstein series as a mad Doctor obsessed with recreating Frankensteins’ experiments. In his efforts, he unleashes every monster there is, with the Mummy being the only exception. He revives Dracula, thaws out the Frankenstein Monster and The Wolfman, hell, even his hunchback assistant falls for a gypsy girl. It’s flat out bonkers, but they manage to tie it all up into a story that makes just enough sense to pull it off.


034 01-27 The Eric Andre Show Season 3 (2014) 4/5
Another stellar season of talk show. While it never hit the remarkably insane heights of the second season, it still got incredibly out there. Especially compared to all the other stuff on TV.


035 01-28 Fulta Fisher’s Boarding House (1922) 3/5
Frank Capra made his directorial debut with this short. It’s based on the Rudyard Kipling poem of the same name, it follows the rough dealings of sailors in a boarding house, but in a fun way. It actually plays like a music video, despite being silent. Which just goes to show how talented Capra was since he managed to make a lyrical, fluid short the first time out.

Ah, such a wholesome posting! I’ll have to finish that Spinilli triple feature for the next one to get some sleaze back into the blog.

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Movie A Day! 026-030: “The Walls of Jericho”

So the weather has been insanely good for this time of year this past week, averaging around 5C most days, even having light rain. It shouldn’t be nicer than about -8C. Now I hate the cold, don’t get me wrong, I plan on moving to gentler climates. This unnatural, nice, spring like weather of the past week and a bit is more spooky than enjoyable to me. Yeah, global warming keeping us out of the -40C torture is nice to yuk about, but seeing as this is the second year in a row where this chinook like wave has happened in January, it’s leaves me feeling weary of the future. Meanwhile, scientists have ticked the “Doomsday Clock” two minutes closer to midnight. The bastards.

Let’s watch some movies!


026 01-18 It Happened One Night (1934) 4/5
Easily one of the most derided genre in films is the “Romantic Comedy.” The plots and actors are often interchangeable, you pretty much know how it’s going to end before it starts. Well, they all pretty much started here. Frank Capra makes one of the first screwball comedies, and it’s a smart, funny, and yes, romantic film. Claudette Colbert escapes from her rich father’s yacht and is trying to get to New York to reunite with her dopey husband that she eloped with. Along the way she runs into floundering newsman Clark Gable and the fun begins. It totally works, both the comedy of “manners” (Sex. This film is all about the politics of sex) and the slow, burning love story. It’s the first film to sweep the major awards at the Oscars, and Capra will go on to even greater pictures with a social conscience like “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”.


027 01-19 Orson Welles: The One Man Band (1995) 4/5
This is the final, full length documentary on Orson Welles that was featured on the Criterion Collection disc for F FOR FAKE and it’s a good one. It looks on all the post F projects Welles worked on, and never completed. Featuring fragments and clips shot for all types of films, it’s a bit heartbreaking to watch. Some of it, like Welles reciting lines from MOBY DICK don’t even really make sense since they don’t look like any kind of film, but are still completely captivating to watch. I’d take a book on tape version read by Welles. There’s also a lot of cool clips of Welles performing magic tricks and of course, interviews with Welles. It’s all good, and worth checking out, especially now as it seems like they’ve figured out the logistics to release his last mostly completed film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Fingers crossed anyway.


028 01-19 The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) 3/5
Not much to talk about with this one. It’s the fourth film in the Mummy series of Universal Monster movies, and the third to feature Kharis wandering around looking for Princess Anaka. Lon Chaney Jr. is back as the mummy, but in terrible “Burned Mummy” make-up that looks like they smeared mud all over his head. It drags along, but has a genuinely surprising and corny final act that actually makes it really worthwhile to watch.


029 01-22 Frank Capra’s American Dream (1997) 4/5
The meatiest of the special features on the IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT disc from Criterion, a feature length documentary on the the director. Like all good documentaries on the movies, this one features just the right amount of films clips to balance the talking heads. It leaves no film unturned while exploring the darker side of Capra’s personality since he dealt with bad depression all his life while making the idealistic films in the the history of the medium. My problem with films like this is it makes me want to rewatch all the films, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON should be mandatory viewing for anyone even thinking of entering politics.


030 Noon Wine (1966) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah hit the skids after MAJOR DUNDEE, managing to get blacklisted in Hollywood. This is a standalone story he shot for television, adapting the screenplay himself and directing. It tells a compact story of a dairy farmer (Jason Robards, who is typically great in this) who hires a Swede who’s a bit of an oddball to do all the heavy lifting on the farm since his wife (Academy award winning legend Olivia de Havilland, also typically great) is having health problems. It’s surprisingly warm for a Peckinpah film, but does take a relentless, dark turn that is surprising now, I can’t imagine what it must of been like when it aired in 1966. It ended up being a hit, Sam won awards for the script and direction, and moved on to make THE WILD BUNCH and solidifying himself as one of the great mavericks in Hollywood history. Ends up being a good film tossed on as a bonus feature on the Twilight Time release of THE KILLER ELITE.

I wonder why we no longer have anthology shows on television? At a time where HBO and the like are making better movies with series like GAME OF THRONES and THE WIRE then the actual movies, you’d think some network would block out an hour long spot to give filmmakers and playwrights a shot to have creative control to tell a story. I think the last ones we got were TWILIGHT ZONE type reboots, which is fine, but I can’t help but think a more wide open format would be at the very least interesting, if not great. Someone write Hollywood and TV a letter.

Until next time.

Movie A Day! 021-025: “Gone, Really Gone, Girl!”

Here we are with two movies you might actually watch! Balanced with some filth and another Doctor Who.

021 01-15 Touch Me (1971) 3/5
Cracked open another one of Vinegar Syndromes PEEK-A-RAMA sets. This one features three films (CRY FOR CINDY, TOUCH ME and the previously lost ACT OF CONFESSION, 4 if you count an alternate version of CRY FOR CINDY. Those VS folks really know how to deliver the seedy goods) by Anthony Spinelli who did such good work on SEXWORLD. This first film pre-dates DEEP THROAT and is in the “classic”, for it’s time, educational style. A psychiatrist is introducing the viewer to the form of therapy known as “Encounter Groups” because the stress of the modern world and Vietnam has us all hung up man! It’s all an excuse to eventually getting around to showing people having sex, with the BS documentary form in place to try to give the film merit so the makers don’t get chucked in the clink for being dirty pornographers. Anyway, this was one of the best of this type that I’ve seen with the writing more sincere than these typically are (no “professors” telling their students to whack off to playboy like in the Ed Wood written one) and the Doctor, while a total quack (and not actually a real doctor of course) actually coming off as concerned for the mental health of the “patients”. It’s also in form with others from the era where it’s mostly a softcore picture with hardcore inserts, until the final reel or so anyway. So as a porn flick, you can do better on a tube site. As a relic of a forgotten era though, it’s a fun watch.

022 01-16 Gone Girl (2014) 4/5
Finally got my hands on the latest David Fincher film and it didn’t disappoint. Technically perfect like all his films, I loved this noir throwback. The less you know the better, go with the ride and you’re in for a real treat as this one could sit quite comfortable at the table with VERTIGO and LAURA. Affleck has never been better, we can stop shitting on him for PEARL HARBOR and ARMAGEDDON, he’s the real deal. Rosamund Pike is no slouch either, and I’ll leave it at that out of fear of spoilers.

023 01-17 Doctor Who S02E02 (6parts) – The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) 3.5/5
This is the story that should have been the season opener! The Doctor, FINALLY get’s the group back to contemporary London at their regular size, only to find London decimated by a Dalek invasion! The Daleks are enslaving humans, turning some of them into cyborg guards, to mine into the earths core so they can get their hands on the magnetism. I mean come on, how badass are the Daleks? Anyway, the Doctor solves everything, but the most notable aspect of this one is, he leaves his granddaughter Susan behind with only one shoe! She’s fallen for some guy, and he thinks it’s best for her to stay, even though she doesn’t want to! The Doctor is such an asshole! Looking forward to the next one now since I’m curious if they acknowledge the Dalek decimation of Earth as cannon or some dumb alternate dimension type thing.

024 01-17 Rush (2013) 3/5
This movie proves that even one of the most boring sports to watch, auto racing of any type, can make for an exciting movie. Or it’s just me oddly enjoying movies based on sports I hate. Anyway, this tells the true story James Hunt and Niki Lauda, sport rivals in the Formula 1 circuit in the 70’s. Ron Howard does a good job on his second car picture (GRAND THEFT AUTO was his first, it’s arguably better), and the actors are fine I guess. I mean, Thor plays the handsome Brit playboy Hunt and some guy no one’s heard of plays the miserable German, it’s about as base and stereotypical as two real people can be. Still, it’s a good one worth checking out, though admittedly I’d rather just watch an actual documentary.

025 01-17 Cry For Cindy (1976) 3/5
Anthony Spinelli goes for tragedy in this adult film from the porno chic era. It tells the story of Cindy, a girl who gets into hooking to help get her boyfriend through doctor school. It’s told as a remembrance from the people who knew her, since the film pretty much starts with her suicide. Hits all the plot points you would expect, but manages to hold your interest. Not for least the near constant queefing of Cindy on the soundtrack. Drinking game!

After a few days, if you think too hard about GONE GIRL it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But like Fincher’s THE GAME, it’s still a hell of a ride, plot issues or no. I’m already itching to watch it again. I also knocked half a star off RUSH. I really would rather just watch a documentary on the two racer guys. They lived a public life, their races were all taped. Just make a fucking documentary already!

That’s about it for this posting. I’m exhausted and can’t think of much to write.

Movie A Day! 011-020

So in typical fashion during the holidays, some dumb family stuff went down. I nearly made it through unscathed, but New Years day, people decided to get shitty for all the wrong reasons. I wont get into details since none of it really directly effects me, but it made me realize that I hated hearing the drama and I don’t really need to hear it. Which got me thinking about social media. Do I really need to be plugged into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever else all day and all night long via my cellphone? Especially since I spend all day on a PC at work, and more than a fair share at home. So I decided to pull the plug on social media on my cell phone. So when I’m away from the computer, I am away from the “noise”. Sounds good right?

It sucks. Twitter is pretty much “The News” now, if you follow the right feeds. I’m so use to being plugged in that my brain is all short circuited by not having all the feeds at my finger tips, and the convenience of instagram to look at cat pictures, or check out Vice news while standing in a line or on the bus. And this disconnected “What am I Missing?” panic is while still regularly checking in on all of it throughout the day. It’s weird right? This must be what addiction feels like. Have any of you tried cutting the computer cord as far as social media goes?

Movies! (and television specials)

011 01-05 Son Of Dracula (1943) 3/5
Okay, I’m giving this a three out of five which in my ratings means it’s pretty good and I’d probably watch it again. I’m going to watch it again because it’s from the Universal Monster cycle and I’m always watching these films at some point, but it really isn’t that good of a movie. Lon Chaney Jr. get’s a crack at playing a vampire, as he stars as Count Alucard, the son of Dracula. See what they did there? I told you it wasn’t that good of a movie. The thing is, it’s so wonky, it could have been a good movie but the casting stinks. Chaney Jr. is a terrible Dracula, but Universal wanted him to be a “Man of a Thousand Faces” like his old man so he got the push. Frank Craven (don’t worry, there’s no need for you to have heard of him, I had to look him up) as the Doctor that figures things out is so homespun and folksy that it doesn’t help any either. So you get a dopey, miscast vampire picture with a some good ideas (like DRACULA’S DAUGHTER, this one too has a women that ultimately takes control) and some cool effects that is fun but really just doesn’t work. So a good “bad” film it ends up being, but certainly not essential.

012 01-06 41st People’s Choice Awards (2015)1.5/5
Stumbled into watching this one. It was boring. A bunch of people I barely recognize from shows I don’t watch got awards. It was hosted by the stars of MOM, some sitcom I’ve never even heard of but one of them is Anna Faris from the SCARY MOVIE series. I like her, but she is a terrible host. Favourite movie was MALEFICENT, so that’s about enough said about this one.

013 01-08 Elvis (The ‘68 Comeback Special) (1968) 5/5
014 01-08 Elvis – 1st Sit Down Show (2004) 4/5
It was The King’s birthday, so we spun this one. The “Comeback Special” has to be one of the most electrifying things to have ever aired on TV. Elvis performs in front of a live audience for the first time in 8 years with everything to prove, and he completely succeeded in relaunching his career after becoming a parody of himself (not for the first time) making those dopey movies. The final performance of “If I Can Dream” completely holds up today message wise. Forget all the jokes, the jumpsuits and stories, and check out the link and see an artist perform with the type of complete conviction rarely seen.

The sit down show is one of many special features on the DVD set. Elvis recorded two “informal jam” sit down performances and two “Stand-up” solo performances in front of studio audiences while recording the special. This is the complete footage of the first sit-down show, finding Elvis reunited with DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore who he performed and recorded with in 1956. It’s raw, it’s messy, and it’s staggering to see Elvis stumble over stories and then effortlessly turn it on and nail a song.

015 01-09 The Raid 2 (2014) 4.5/5
So how do you top one of the best action films ever made? You don’t, you go “The Godfather Part II” route and create a film with more depth. It shouldn’t work in the action genre, but fuck me, these guys managed to add a twisty turny, noirish gangland plot without compromising all the kickassery that you can find in the first film. It’s pretty much the perfect martial arts movie and highly recommended.

016 01-10 August: Osage County (2013) 3/5
This one kept getting trailered at the start of blu-rays (new word alert! When a trailer for a film is constantly being shoved at the start of a DVD/Bluray, it’s getting “Trailered”. Someone write Webster!) and got me interested enough that I decided if I ever saw it on sale cheap I would pick it up. Mainly due to being a long time fan of Juliette Lewis. Anyway, it popped up for $5, which is as cheap as it gets these days. It’s good. It’s a southern drama based on a play that manages to not feel too much like a play while you watch it. It’s rather soapy and melodramatic, but everyone is really good in it, and I’m biased to think Lewis was really good in a smaller but complicated role as the little sister. Oh, it’s about a bunch of sisters reuniting with their bitch mum over a family tragedy. Juliette Lewis plays the little sister. Did I mention Juliette Lewis was in this? It was good and fan fave Benedict Cumberbatch is in it too.

017 01-11 Doctor Who S02E01-3 Planet of Giants (1964) 2.5/5
Since Who is so stand alone in it’s stories, and the BBC actually sell them as separate films instead of seasons, I figured I might as well count the classic Who as their own thing. This is the season 2 opener, and it was ambitious in scope but just didn’t work. The TARDIS futzes while landing on contemporary earth causing it and it’s passengers to arrive about ant size. This sets off a plot about someone who’s developed an insecticide that is capable of killing all insects. It’s just too much of a collision of two different plots and just never works.

Tina Fey, Margaret Cho, and Amy Poehler.

018 01-11 72nd Golden Globes (2015) 3/5
The only reason to watch this is for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. They nailed the opening like no others have nailed an award show opening before. Sadly, as the show dragged on, they appeared less and less which made the show less fun to watch.

019 01-12 The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) 3/5
Yup, still watching the old Universal Horror films. Down to one a week, they’ve taken the place of my beloved Zatoichi. This one makes zero sense as far as the Invisible Man series goes since while the Invisible Man has the name “Griffin” like his predecessors, he is no scientist and ends up getting invisibility via a mad doctor played by John Carradine. If you can get past that, it’s pretty damned good. Griffin was ripped off, possibly thought killed by partners in a diamond mine deal gone wrong. It’s years later and he’s recovered his memory, and is looking for his cut. A very noirish plot for a horror film, that’s balanced by some really wonky comedic elements and the best special effects yet. Sadly, this is the last of the Invisible Man cycle, he’ll only show up on comedy bits now, which we’ll get to eventually.

020 01-13 Charlie Brooker’s 2014 Wipe (2014) 3/5
Pretty self explanatory this one. Charlie takes a look at the news year that was 2014. If you don’t know who Charlie is (if you’re outside of the UK you probably don’t, I learned of him from The Farwall.) you should acquaint yourself with his work since he’s arguably doing some of the best TV, period. Anyway, this one wasn’t as funny as past years, and frankly, that it was funny at all is a miracle when you consider the constant horrors that seemed to be coming weekly last year. So it’s worth a watch, plus Shitpeas and Chunk are back and brilliant, and the only misstep is the totally shit song he ends it with.

There it is. Instead of posting every Monday I thought I’d post every ten films. Ten seems too long though so I think I’ll do it every 5 films. Thoughts?

Movie A Day! 001- 010: “A New Beginning”

Decided to keep this going since I track what I watch (and read) anyway, but I’m having second thoughts and it’s all due to formatting. Depending on the browser I use, it adds spaces that I don’t want between the move number title thing and the mini-review. It’s ridiculous and drives me crazy. I have to go into the weird text editor and delete spaces added from the copying and pasting. Nice job, stupid website! So much for for finding an easier way to do this.

A weird hodge-podge of porn, cartoons, Shakespeare and special features to start the New Year.

001 01-01 I Am Always Ready (1978) 1.5/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndrome’s PeekaRama disc with THE ULTIMATE PLEASURE, and boy, was it the lesser film. Another Carlos Tobalina title, this one is about a woman who comes into some cash and decides to make a porn film so she can meet John Holmes, and that’s just the opening 3 minutes! I thought I was watching the trailer! The rest of the film is scene after uninspired scene of the porn being shot. It’s dull with nothing to elevate it and will have you reaching for the fast forward button since the horrendous wigs and set dressing are more entertaining.

002 01-01 The “Scanners” Way (2014) 4/5
I watched all the special features on Criterion’s SCANNERS blu-ray that I watched last October. They’re all really good, the main doc going into all aspects of the filming, including the legendary head exploding scene (achieved via SHOTGUN BLAST!), and the rest featuring new and classic interviews with the key players. You typically can’t go wrong with Criterion, and this is no exception.

003 01-01 Frozen (2013) 3/5
This is the Disney film about the Ice Queen, not the horror film about a trio of skiers stuck on a ski lift. This one was good, there are some fun characters and even better, a kickass “Girl Power” vibe. These Princesses don’t need no Prince Charming to save them and who new Veronica Mars could sing like that? My problem with the film is my typical one with modern animation. The CGI characters look ugly and generic with zero personality and there are way too many songs in the first three quarters. Disney seems to think animated features are the same as Broadway musicals. As a result, the story pacing is completely killed. I liked the little snowman guy, and his little music video summer song thing was cute, but completely unnecessary to the narrative. Cut half the songs (not “Let It Go”, that one was actually placed perfectly) and I’d add another star. The ski lift FROZEN also got three stars from me, in case anyone was curious. Also, the new Mickey Mouse short on the blu-ray was pretty great. Man, I miss “Rubber Hose” animation.

https://i1.wp.com/ih1.redbubble.net/image.15879118.1519/flat,550x550,075,f.jpg

004 01-01 Stereo (1969) 2/5
This is the last of the bonus features on Criterion’s SCANNERS blu-ray. It’s David Cronenberg’s first film! It’s simply not very good! It’s more of an experimental art film about a Canadian testing on telepathy. So it sounds like a prequel to SCANNERS, but it’s not. A group of people silently (there is no soundtrack) wander around a testing facility, communicating only by telepathy. The only spoken words are chunks of narration throughout explaining the technical experiments that aren’t really being shown. So despite being incredibly well shot and looking fantastic in stark black and white, nothing really happens and my brain just kept buzzing away.

005 01-02 Joe (2013) 4/5
Thanks to the internet and some whack-o parts in the past, people forget just how great Nic Cage can be. Like in this movie, which is one of the darker, more bleak films you see in the “Southern Gothic” genre. I’m guessing that’s what you’d call it. Anyway, Nic is the title character who helps out a kid in town whose dad is a degenerate drunk. A hell of a film that goes all the way, like films of this type should. As a bonus, Cage does a bit where he teaches the kid how to make a “cool face”, which when demonstrated, is the face Cage makes ALL THE TIME. (Make your face like you’re in horrible pain, then smile. That’s the secret Cage Cool Face, I expect pictures.)

Macbeth Movie Poster

006 01-03 The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) 4.5/5
I’m no Shakespeare expert, far from it. Macbeth would be my favourite of the plays though, and this one is one of my favourite movies based on his works. Roman Polanski shoots this one like a movie, not a play, and with the sets and exteriors you forget you’re watching one of the most famous plays every performed and instead get swept up in the story of the doomed Scottish king. There’s not a single bad performance, the wordplay is accessible and since everything is done realistically, everything seems dripping in fog, dirt and blood. It actually plays as much like a horror film than it does a typical tragedy, and I highly recommend the new Criterion blu-ray that looks breathtaking, especially since my only exposure to the film prior was via a VHS dupe since this one seems to be one of the more forgotten films of Polanski’s filmography.

007 01-03 SexWorld (1977) 4/5
First there was WestWorld, then FutureWorld, of course there should have been a SexWorld since really, all those movies are about are fucking robots. This one is directed by legendary Anthony Spinelli, and he gets a higher budget than the porno chic films typically gets and it shows. Featuring many stars, including cult favourites Annette Haven and Kay Parker (her film debut), this one surprisingly hedges on the Sci-Fi elements (so after three films of robot sex, we never learn who has to clean the cum out of them) and instead deals more with the emotional aspects of being able to live your sexual fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nearly wall to wall sex scenes, but they’re presented in a way that it feels like a “proper” film instead of a loop carrier. So this is a good one, and the Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray puts to shame many legit releases from the major companies from the same period.

008 01-04 Toil & Trouble: Making “Macbeth” (2014) 4/5
009 01-04 Polanski Meets Macbeth (1971) 4/5
These are the main two documentaries on the Criterion blu-ray reviewed above, and both are exactly what you want to see. The first one from 2014 features recent interviews on the history of the film, while the other is a shot on set look at Polanski actually making the movie. They perfectly complement each other without being repetitive and are well worth watching on their own. The other extras, a couple of TV clips, one with the writer of the film on Dick Cavett and the other has Polanski debating Macbeth adaptations with a theatrical director are great as well. So in typical Criterion Collection fashion, this is about as thorough a set as anyone will need for this film.

010 01-04 Throne of Blood (1957) 4/5
Figured I go all out and watch Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth as well. They do a fantastic job adapting the play to feudal Japan, with some neat substitutions like evil spirits in the forest instead of witches. Otherwise, it’s “Macbeth” in plot and Toshiro Mifune is as god as ever in the title role.

Boy, just look at that Criterion cover art for MACBETH. Pretty great eh?

Well, there it is, a new year, an old blog, and more movies no one else is watching. Ten films in 4 days, though most were just around the hour mark so it’s a bit of a cheat. Fun? I hope so. Maybe this year I’ll make it out to the theaters a bit so there are actual current, helpful reviews. (Don’t hold your breath though….)

Movie A Day! 408-421 – “The End?”

We made it to 2015. 2014 was one of the worst years I’ve had. Not going to lie. Starting 2015 in a rage after spending new years eve with extended family. Such selfishness abounds, it’s gross. Let’s all hope the rest of the year chills the fuck out.

Sorry, this one’s going to be a bit lengthy since I watched a bunch to end the year, and I have to total up the whole month. Straight to the movies!

408 12-28 The Killer Elite (1975) 3.5/5

James Caan and Robert Duvall star in this Sam Peckinpah actioner about a couple of CIA hitmen that come to odds with each other. This one seems to get panned a bit, but I really enjoyed it. There’s an extended sequence of martial arts training that is actually quite neat, and compliment the more briskly paced action bits of the latter half. Caan and Duvall are both good and the massive set piece ninja attack at the end is hilariously fun. So it may be lesser Peckinpah compared to his classics, but it’s still Peckinpah and worth a watch.

409 12-29 The Video Game Years 1977 (2012) 3/5
410 12-29 The Video Game Years 1978 (2012) 3/5
411 12-29 The Video Game Years 1979 (2012) 3/5
These are all available online via RetrowareTV youtube. Not the most studious history of video games that you will find, but a fun, nerdy one all the same. I get a pretty good nostalgia kick watching these since I’m ancient enough to have not only been around to play, but actually own a lot of the different machines and games on display.

412 12-29 The Ultimate Pleasure (1977) 2.5/5
Another Bonkers adult feature from Carlos Tobalina (JUNGLE BLUE). This one seems more straight plotwise, a wife is getting burned out and not wanting sex, so while her hubby goes to vegas to bang hookers for relief, she goes to a clinic. Then it takes a swerve into lala land where it becomes completely unclear as to if it’s actually happening or is all part of the drug induced therapy she is having. Then it takes another swerve into the weird with a massive dose of anti-consumerism rhetoric. Tobalina seems completely incapable of being coherent, which added to his piss poor directing where shots are out of focus, boom mikes are seen, and best of all, a crew member enters the frame to pull some wire out of the shot while a couple starts to get busy, this movie should be horrible. Yet, despite or because of all this, with the addition of a great cast of seventies adult stars like Annette Haven, Candida Royalle and John Holmes, it still manages to be entertaining.

413 12-30 The Video Game Years 1980 (2012) 3/5
414 12-30 The Video Game Years 1981 (2013) 3/5
415 12-30 The Video Game Years 1982 (2013) 3/5
416 12-30 The Video Game Years 1983 (2014) 3/5
Yeah, I really got hooked on watching these. Now I’m caught up since I stumbled on the series with the 1984 entry.

417 12-30 Zatoichi’s Conspiracy (1973) 4.5/5
So this is it, the last of the original Zatoichi films. It was a good one too, with Zatoichi returning to his home village to discover that a childhood friend is screwing over the town to profit on his own. Katsu is perfect as Zatoichi at this point, managing to be lovable and terrifying within the same shot. This set from Criterion is easily one of the finest purchases I have made in the hobby, and is highly recommended.

418 12-30 Loony Tunes Platinum Collection Vol 2 (2012) 5/5
This is a 3 disc set of blu-rays featuring hi-def remasters of Looney Tunes cartoons that I’ve been watching on and off since September or so. To say it’s mamoth is an understatement. The first two discs are all Looney Tunes with extras, covering fifty shorts each. Disc three though is the really good stuff. You get two documentaries on Tex Avery, a collection of cartoons done by Friz Freleng for MGM, and best of all, eleven cartoons done by Tex for MGM that manage to be about 100% more laugh out loud funny than the previous two discs. Why there isn’t a definitive Tex Avery collection out by now is beyond me. Add in some PRIVATE SNAFU toon’s made for the army, and dozens more bonuses and this set is fantastic and a must own for classic cartoon fans. My only nit pick is that it repeats cartoons from the Golden Collection DVD series, disc three isn’t in hi-def, and volume 3 is going to be the last volume since Warners bailed on the series, the assholes.

419 12-31 Almost True: The Noble Art of Forgery (1997) 2.5/5
420 12-31 Paradise Regained – The Making of Phantom of the Paradise 3.5/5
I watched the special features on a couple of discs I watched earlier in the year. ALMOST TRUE is from the fantastic Criterion release of Orson Welles’ F IS FOR FAKE that I loved so hard last month. It’s a more typical profile on Elmyr de Hory, the art forger covered in F. the rest of the features on the disc are equally good, a great interview with Welles on Tom Snydor, a profile on Clifford Erving on 60 Minutes, and a second doc on Welle’s that I still have to watch.

PARADISE is the main doc that comes with the Scream Factory release of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, and along with all the additional interviews and outtakes included, it tells you everything you would want to know about the film, and is entertaining too.

421 12-31 Dick Clarks New Years Rockin’ Eve Live 2015 (2014) 2.5/5
not much to say, pop stars since and a ball drops. It ends up that I like Taylor Swift now, and Charli XCX is the singer I liked on the AMA’s earlier in the month that I thought was a band called Crystal Head. This one get’s a half point knocked off for having crazy asshole Jenny McCarthy as a co-host.

Right, there it all is. I warned you it would be long! Now, let’s see my totals for the month:

45 Watched, 37 First Timers, 0 Theaters

Surprisingly big month! Lot’s of hour long things though to balance out the films so I guess that’s why it added up. Plus it’s cold out and I don’t like to leave the house. Let’s compare to last December:

33 Watched, 32 First Timers, 0 Theaters

Huh, this I think only the second month that I watched more than I did in 2013. Neat.

Now for the scary part, the year end numbers. 2014:

399 Watched, 335 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

I managed to watch more than a movie a day! It was looking a bit dodgy early on, but I made it. Yay me. 2013:

505 Watched, 435 First Timers, 15 In Theaters

Now there’s some movie watching for you! I used to have regular movie nights with friends where we would power through 4 or so movies once a week. Ah, those were the days. Funny thing, the theater experience has gotten so annoying with pre-sold tickets and cell phones that I don’t really miss it. This year we saw a new David Fincher film come out, GONE GIRL, as it was the only film of his I missed in the theaters. Between the experience and finding myself less and less interested in the franchise blockbusters, who knows how often I’ll bother to go in 2015.

My favourites of the year:

THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE – The movie is just such a hoot with great music. Well worth a spin

ZATOICHI THE BLIND SWORDSMAN – Obviously the massive Criterion boxset was going to be oo here.

THE ART OF KILLING – Disturbing documentaries are the best.

THE SWIMMER – Grindhouse releasing went odd and put out a Burt Lancaster film that ended up being the lost Twilight Zone episode that should of been.

BREAKING BAD – I’ll watch it all again, nuff said.

THE ERNIE KOVACS COLLECTION – The dawn of television comedy that beats most of what’s aired today.

ACE IN THE HOLE – A film about the media that ended up being prophecy.

RAW FORCE – the gonzo zombie, kung-fu, Hitler movie from Vinegar Syndrome. Actually, Vinegar Syndrome as a whole was a favourite, treating porno, sexploitation, exploitation and underground arthouse titles with the type of love the major studios don’t give their Alfred Hitchcock titles.

F FOR FAKE – I wont talk about this one a third time, I loved it but I can see it annoying the hell out of people.

Well, that’s about it. Maybe I’ll continue, maybe I wont. If I do continue, I might change it up a bit so it’s less time consuming to compile. We’ll all have to see.

Thank you to those who stuck around through my past year of movies, your reading and comments were and are appreciated!

The End.