Movie A Day!: Decline of Baby Strange

The heatwave has locked in and I’m coming down with a summer cold. Cursed! Here’s what I watched last week. Nearly done with the documentary/bio-pics and I had a rare outing to a first run movie!!


201 07/03 Sea Dog’s Tale (1926) 3/5 Billy Bevan takes the lead in this one as a Englishman who gets hoodwinked to a island to marry a native girl. It’s got some fun bits if you can get past the racial stereotypes and black face.

202 07/03 Hoboken To Hollywood (1926) 3.5/5 Billy Bevan’s gets has to pack up the family and move cross country to LA on a job transfer and gets into all types of shenanigans. Lots of good bits, this one works really well and sees Billy play a bit of a prick that separates him from most of the other comedians of the time.


203 07/03 The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) 4/5   Thanks to Shout Factory I was finally able to get my mits on this one. Since it was impossible to find in my neck of the woods. It was worth the wait. A fascinating look at the LA punk scene and featuring a pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag and The Germs which features future Foo Fighter Pat Smear. Some bands come off more sincere than others but almost all of them are kids so it’s hard to tell really. At any rate, it’s a crucial document.


204 07/03 The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (1988) 4/5   This one is the polar opposite of the first one. All the punk attitude is gone and everything is sex, drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll. The old guard like Aerosmith, Lemmy, and Alice Cooper seem to shoot pretty straight while the new bands like Faster Pussycat come off as complete imbeciles. When this one came it, it was pretty hot stuff as I was into the scene. Watching it now, it’s hilariously bone-headed and the sincere explanations for the glam make up is cringe-worthy. Another must see documentary.


205 07/04 Baby Driver (2017) 4/5   The best of the (I think) two action musicals I have seen.  It completely delivers on the premise of a wheel-man fueled by tunes. Everyone in it is pitch perfect and despite a rather contrived ending the film is such a joy I can forgive it. Edgar Wright just simply knows how to make great movies and this one is no different.


206 07/05 The Great McGinty (1940) 3.5/5   A hobo gets swept up into politics thanks to a gangster’s scheme to throw city and state bucks into real estate. SOUND FAMILIAR?!?!? This one from Preston Sturges has some biting commentary on politics and great performances but didn’t reach the heights of his other work for me.


207 07/06 The Lost Weekend (1945) 3.5/5   Billy Wilder takes a hard look at alcoholism in this one with Ray Milland starring as a writer whose life is ruined by the booze. It plays like a film noir except drink is the dame that brings ruin to the main character. It’s good, but even at the worst depths Milland seems to mostly have a handle on things due to his natural charm, despite going all out.


208 07/07 Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’ (2013) 4/5   A fantastic documentary on Hendrix that covers all the bases as well as showing tons of clips of him performing. Not much else to say, if you’re interested in Hendrix, this is the one for you.


209 07/07 The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998) 4/5   Spheeris is back, 10 years after Part II to reexamine the LA music scene but instead delves into the lives of the Gutterpunks, homeless punk rock kids that basically escaped their abusive homes. It might be the best film of the series. It never judges or tries to manipulate you, it simply depicts their lives and lets them speak for themselves. This series of films is essential stuff.


210 07/08 Doctor Strange (2016) 3/5   Finally got around to watching this one and it’s simply okay. These Marvel films have all settled into their groove so there’s not much to say. Doctor Strange is a prick, gets humbled, finds his true power and quips the whole time like every other Marvel superhero. Some great visuals that were frankly used better in Inception, and some okay fight scenes. Nothing else to say.


211 07/09 Hit So Hard (2011) 4/5   A really great documentary about Hole drummer Patty Schemel who struggled with addiction. They get everyone from the band, including Courtney Love, back to tell her story, and Patty taped everything so there’s tons of great footage of Hole on the road and performing back in the 90’s. Add in a mini-history/commentary on other women drummers through history and it all adds up to being great.

 

When the worst film you have seen is Doctor Strange, it’s not a bad week.

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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?