Movie A Day! 131-140 : Hot Pepper Pleasure

Late posting this one, and since last week was busy, it’s a ten title affair. We should return to regular programming.

131 04-19 Dry Wood (1973) 3/5
132 04-22 Hot Pepper! (1973) 3.5/5
Another great pair of documentaries from Les Blank, both dealing with Creole life. DRY WOOD mostly features the people of a small town and a pig roast while HOT PEPPER! is a profile on Zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier. Both are pretty great, and like the previous Blank films show a joy of the simple life and community we seem to be lacking these days.

133 04-23 The Ernie Kovacs Collection Vol 2 (2012) 4/5
Another collection of Ernie’s morning, evening, specials and game shows. Similar to volume one, but a smaller collection. Still a fantastic bit of history that’s funny too. Amazing stuff.

134 04-24 Lenny (1974) 3.5/5
Bob Fosse takes a time out from musicals to do this biopic on comedian Lenny Bruce. I’ve been wanting to revisit this one since watching Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ earlier this year, and I enjoyed it about as much as I remember liking it the first time I saw it. It’s not the perfect picture, but Fosse’s direction and editing hold your attention, and Dustin Hoffman nails the intense Bruce. Worth checking out if you’re curious, but you might find it a little lacking since it doesn’t really check of the milestones of Bruce’s career.

135 04-24 Come Under My Spell (1979) 1.5/5
Another Carlos Tobalina Peekarama double feature from Vinegar Syndrome. This one finds Tobalina attempting a story! A hapless exchange student can’t score with American girls until he finds a book on hypnotism. It’s not as rape-y as it sounds, but with zero star power, piss poor acting and the typical hallmarks of Tobalina’s directing featuring out of focus shots, rough editing and to top it all off, some crewman sitting in the frame of the action, this one is a miss.

136 04-25 Tootsie (1982) 4/5
Dustin Hoffman plays a struggling, tough New York actor who to prove a point, dresses in drag to get a part on a soap opera. This one could of been painful to watch these days, but it holds up nearly perfectly. It’s laugh out loud funny, but the humour comes out of the situation as opposed to at the expense of Hoffman in drag. Mostly anyway. As a straight white guy, I might be insensitive. I loved it regardless, and Bill Murray and Teri Garr are both brilliant in supporting roles, as is Jessica Lange. The music however dates the film horrendously in the era it’s from, the early 80’s with the “Go Tootsie Go!” song that plays over montages (it is an eighties movie, it has montages) especially cloying. Not enough to ruin the film though, thankfully.

137 04-25 Lady Dynamite (1979) 2/5
The other Tobalina feature paired with COME UNDER MY SPELL, this one fares a bit better. A woman finds out that despite being faithful to her husband for ten years, she’s caught the clap. So she decides to make up for lost time and go on the prowl. It’s more polished than COME, but it’s still pretty dull stuff. I think Tobalina is the most artless of the directors that Vinegar Syndrome features. If you could ever get the sense he was trying, it could be fun to watch like an Ed Wood picture. You can tell though that he’s only interested in having product for his theater chain. To bad.

138 04-26 Blind Woman’s Curse (1970) 3.5/5
Half yakuza samurai picture, half ghost story and totally awesome. Meiko Kaji (LADY SNOWBLOOD) plays a young woman who takes over her fathers yakuza clan after he is killed. While attacking rivals for vengeance, she accidentally blinds a bosses sister, and believes herself cursed for it. That’s all in the opening minutes, and that’s the best I can figure it out since the film is bonkers. It never fully makes complete sense, but it’s a hell of a ride with some cool sword fights balanced out with horror elements and gore. Another great pick from Arrow Films to put out here in region 1!

139 04-27 Always For Pleasure (1978) 3.5/5
140 04-27 Lagniappe (2006) 3/5
Another pair of films from Les Blank, this time showing the details around Mardi Gras in New Orleans. ALWAYS is pretty much the perfect New Orleans documentary, showing a variety of parades from funeral procession to St. Patricks Day to the big Mardi Gras event itself. The best thing though is like his other documentaries, he concentrates on the music, the food and the people. So when it get’s to Mardi Gras, he shows the side street parades with the local tribes, spy boys and flag boys, it’s a side you never see on TV. LAGNIAPPE is made up of outtakes and musical performances shot during the same time that the original doc was made, and is a nice little extra glimpse.

That’s about it. The big news the past couple days of writing this is earthquakes in Nepal and more race riots, this time in Baltimore. It all makes me feel a bit helpless. I mean, I can scoot some cash to the red cross and whatever, but not much else. Awful times ahead I think, though we’re not nearly in as bad of shape as we were last year where every month seemed to spawn a new horror.

UPDATE: This is even later posting than expected. I wrote this Monday night, April 27 to post the following morning, and then got busy at work and forgot. Total failure. At least this one isn’t a lost blog and I’m posting it now. I guess this going live late at night for me will give people overseas a big thrill.

Yeah, right,

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Movie A Day! 126-130 : Little Blank Safe

I ended up going to Record Store Day (Listen Records in Edmonton are wonderful hosts for such an event) and I got the four records I was hoping for, but I think this might be my last one. I can’t handle standing in line for over an hour anymore. It’s a young man’s game I guess, and at some point you should be beyond it right? How old do I need to get before I feel like a responsible adult?


126 04-17 God Respect’s Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance (1968) 3/5
127 04-17 Spend It All (1972) 4/5
128 04-17A Well Spent Life (1972) 3.5/5 Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank, and all pretty amazing in their own way. GOD is a look at the first “Love-In” in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1967. If you have ever seen a documentary on the Summer Of Love, you have seen clips from this one. It is what it is, but mostly it’s hilarious as a time capsule. My only knock on this one is no live audio was recorded, it would have been neat to hear the music the bands that are shown were playing that was causing the crowd to freak out. SPEND captures the Cajun lifestyle in a small town in Louisiana with no comment, just shots of people doing what they do, fishing, eating, dancing, telling stories. It’s an amazing look at a lifestyle that was, I’m guessing, on the cusp of vanishing. You feel like you know more about life after watching it, which is some pretty brilliant film making. WELL SPENT LIFE catches up with Mance Lipscomb, a legendary folk blues guitarist who is seen briefly in the Lightnin’ Hopkins documentary. It’s mostly Mance, now more of a sharecrop farmer than a blues legend, talking about what he’s learned about life and how to live it. Some great stories, amazing songs, and leaves you thinking maybe the simple life is the better one. This Les Blank set is a hell of a document on America so far, in that it deals with people and their lives without comment,outside of politics and all the other stuff that tends to be part of documentaries these days. There’s no point being made, you are more of a witness, left to make up your own mind. I’m loving this Criterion Collection set, and still have two blu-rays to go.


129 04-18 SAFE (1995) 3.5/5
Julianne Moore is fantastic in this one as a woman dealing with “environmental illness” that is debilitating her. Director Todd Haynes plays the cards close to his chest, you’re never sure if it illness is real or a psychological block to her current, empty life. It loses a bit of steam in the second half, but not enough to kill the movie and Moore’s performance should keep you interested. The recent Criterion Collection blu-ray is a pretty much perfect presentation that features a cool chat between Moore and Haynes.


130 04-18 Little Sisters (1972) 3/5
Alex deRenzy’s second shot at a narrative film plays like a hardcore John Waters picture.  A protective mum living in the woods with her two daughters has to go on a search after the two are kidnapped by a pirate gang “The Dykes”. It plays more like an underground film than a porno, though it is explicit with nearly constant group rapes scenes that are done so over the top and gleefully shot that it really plays like the early John Waters (who shot hardcore in PINK FLAMINGOS) films like DESPERATE LIVING where it’s hard to be offended despite what you’re witnessing. For a second feature, deRenzy is already showing the chops that would seal his position as a leading porn auteur, and this one really shows the blurry lines of the era were it seemed like hardcore was going to break into the mainstream. The stolen soundtrack featuring Pink Floyd and Santana is fun too. Vinegar Syndrome presents this one uncut for the first time since it’s release, and though POWDER BURNS is a bit of a bust, this PEEKARAMA set presents a key piece of history in it’s own way.

Time to finish up laundry and maybe head outside for some yard clean-up after the never ending winter we get. I guess that’s being an adult. It sucks. I got music to listen too, books to read, movies to watch, games to play.