Movie a Day!: Hidden Money

The week of this viewing saw the weather go from a paralyzing -20C to breaking within 24 hour period yesterday to 5C. There’s a subconscious stress level living in a part of the world with such weather fluxes that one never gets used to. We just enjoy not having to dress so that the environment wont make you euphoric before killing you. It’s too early to know if this warmth will last. Which adds to the stress.

As threatened last blog, this week saw me balancing the classy 2016 Oscar noms with the usual sleaze people typically don’t admit to watching in public if they ever hope to have a long lasting relationship. If I’m going to be alone, I might as will be free!


033 02/05 Fences (2016) 3/5   Denzel Washington directs and stars in this story about a working class stiff trying to keep things together in lower income Philly during the 50’s. Great acting and an interesting slice of black life that isn’t usually shown in the movies keep this one mostly interesting. My issue with it is it’s based on a play and the constant dialogue (very theatrical dialogue with all the beats you would find on the live stage) with little action or change of scenery pretty much keep this one on the stage. I prefer my movies to feel like movies as opposed to adaptations like these and despite at how good this one is.


034 02/06 Hidden Figures (2016) 3.5/5   The fun thing about watching the Oscar Best Picture nominations is I have done zero research and am going in mostly blind about what these movies are actually about. This one was a pleasant surprise. It tells the true story of 3 black women who were key figures doing the big work during the space race. The blatant racism and misogyny as depicted in 1961 NASA is infuriating to watch today, but they never hit you over the head with it in an over the top way. I found some things problematic, like the modern music choices (I’m guessing at the insistence of Executive Producer Pharrell…) and some little bits of “sassy tropes” that seemed like caricature and kind of took away from how smart these women actually are. (That could be my white old guy bias, persons of colour, please correct me.) None of it is enough to be completely distracting though, and in the end, it’s a damn fine film and one that deserves to be seen.


035 02/07 Don’t Answer The Phone (1980) 4/5   A Vietnam vet is bonkers and going around strangling pretty girls and stalking/harassing a radio therapist in LA. This one was downright nasty and mean, with a ton of sleaze to boot. Which means it was great and really delivered! That’s how it works with genre films, the more they live up to their depraved expectations the better. I didn’t make the rules! Anyway, it fits right in with Maniac, The Toolbox Murders, and other Taxi Driver style horror films from the era.


036 02-08 Hell or High Water (2016) 3.5/5   A couple of brothers can’t seem to shake Jeff Bridges giant, float-y head, based on the promo above. In actuality, a couple of brothers go on a bank robbing spree in Texas and ridiculously old Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges has to try to catch them. Seriously, if Bridges gets anymore growl-y he’ll be forced to play wolf-men for the rest of his career. They say this one is a modern western, but it’s not really. Can there even be a modern day western anymore? It is a really good modern day crime film though that takes place in the south. Everything rings pretty true, performances are top notch, there’s a bit of business that is a little extraneous (they seem to be setting up a female character only for her to vanish without a trace) but otherwise it works well enough to keep you interested. It also plays with a bit of the stereotypes that are found in these “western” films which helps keep it current and more than a smadge political. Good stuff, but I don’t think it’s “Best Picture” material.


037 02-10 Hacksaw Ridge (2016) 4/5   The true story of a war hero medic who entered World War II as a conscientious objector and refused to carry a weapon. First half plays like a rehash from better films, mainly Full Metal Jacket. The second half when they go to war redeems it though. This one has the action in the Pacific and anyone who’s seen a documentary on the pacific war knows it was one of the most brutal theatres. The film does not shy away, and actually seems over the top if you didn’t know better. It’s great stuff. The only real problematic thing with this for me is it’s directed by Mel Gibson. Old Mel has proven himself to be a piece of shit anti-semite. Like Polanski and Woody Allen I find myself conflicted with these guys, separating the person from the film, that kind of thing. That aside, dude knows how to direct an action picture.


038 02-10 A Place Beyond Shame (1980) 2.5/5   Poor Seka has fears about sex so she’s sees a therapist to unlock her sexual prowess. Directed by adult legends FJ Lincoln and Sharon Mitchell, I was hoping for more to this than basically being a loop carrier.


039 02/11 Manchester By The Sea (2016) 4/5   Casey Affleck stars in this one as a working class guy who is struggling to get his life together and has to take responsibility for his nephew when his brother passes away. So it’s a pretty heavy drama and the main draw for this one is the brutal reality. It never really gets sentimental, which makes it great in my book.


040 02/11 Blue Money (1971) 4/5
041 02/12 The Affairs of Aphrodite (1970) 2/5   A duo of films directed by Alain Patrik, Blue Money was a real surprise. Produced by Bob Chinn, this one was their first crack at a legitimate movie after toiling away in the world of softcore. The film is about pornographers struggling to get their films made while avoiding the vice squad. What makes it so interesting is that it’s actually made by pornographers who were actually dealing with the arrests and vice issues at the time so there’s a ring of truth to this as opposed to typical exploitation fair. It makes for a really well done character study that really fits in with other films of the New Hollywood era. Patrik would drift away from softcore films to pursue acting, and Bob Chinn would move on to discovering John Holmes and creating the Johnny Wadd series that was referenced so heavily in Boogie Nights.and cement his place as one of adult’s greatest filmmakers.

The Affairs of Aphrodite is pretty typical softcore dribble about a princess kidnapped and forced into Aphrodite’s harem. Mainly of interest on this disc in being the type of film that the lead in Blue Money would of made, since it was literally made by the same director/star. 

So basically my picks for best picture are between Blue MoneyDon’t Answer The Phone and Manchester By The Sea. Says where I am at this point in my terrible life. If I had to pick a fave, I’d probably lean to Hidden Figures or Manchester By The Sea. Next week I should have the rest of the nominations watched so maybe I’ll love La La Land as much as everyone else in our currently free world.

Movie A Day! : 248-255 “Sister!”

Right, lot’s of things going on in the ol’ bunker this week. So much that it’s a bit of a jam. Typically I post this MOVIE A DAY! blog on Monday, and I have started posting STAR WHO on Wednesday. Well Wednesday is the first day of October, which means I should post a month end wrap up of the Movie A Day blog on Wednesday.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!! I can’t post two blogs in one day! Also, every October I participate in a “Scary Movie Challenge” in which I aim to watch as many horror type films as I can. So count this as a warning that there is going to be a bunch more posts happening around here for the month of October. It’s going to get crazy! Hope you like scary movies!

Here’s what I watched last week.

248 09-22 Days of Wine and Roses (1958) 4/5
This is another live play from TV’s golden age. It stars Cliff Robertson (CHARLY) and Piper Laurie (TWIN PEAKS) as an alcoholic couple trying to survive. It’s preachy and pro-alcoholics anonymous, but it’s also startlingly brutal and uncomfortable to sit through. Robertson and Laurie absolutely nail their roles, and that it was performed live on television just adds to the energy. Director John Frankenheimer by this point has mastered live TV, and the episode is pretty much flawless technically. This is the last show in the Criterion Collections THE GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION set, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

249 09-25 Gideon’s Day (1958) 4/5
This one stars the great Jack Hawkins (BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI) as Gideon, inspector for Scotland Yard. Considered to be a “B” picture for director John Ford, and a throwaway, it’s a hell of a film. The plot is dizzying in all it’s threads, with a sex murder, payroll theft and police corruption all playing for Gideon’s time, not to mention trying to wrap it all up in time to bring home some salmon for dinner before seeing his daughter play violin in concert. So there’s a hell of a lot going on, and Ford keeps it all moving while still adding some of the touches he’s known for with the family dynamic and humour. So for a throwaway, it ends up being one of my favourites of his. Sure, it’s no THE SEARCHERS, but it’s far from forgettable.

250 09-26 12 Years A Slave (2013) 3.5/5
It wasn’t planned, but for film number 250 I ended up watching last years best picture winner! It’s good. The movie I mean. I liked it. Steve McQueen makes good movies. The one’s I’ve seen anyway, like HUNGER. This one was good too. Performances were all top notch, and it was certainly deserving of all it’s awards. I didn’t love it though. The problem I have with it, and with films like it that deal with subjects like slavery or the holocaust or other equally horrible issues is that they concentrate on being sad. You’re constantly seeing awful things, and practically being told “isn’t it awful? Isn’t it sad how awful people were?” And it is awful and sad that people were like that and that it happened. And that’s MY problem with the film. It’s sad that it happened, but absolutely infuriating that it’s STILL happening in parts of the world, and the inherent racism that existed to allow it to happen is still a huge problem in western culture. Films like 12 YEARS A SLAVE ignore that, and I think that’s why I prefer films like DJANGO UNCHAINED which deals with the anger and rage of prejudice in a cathartic way. Wait, you didn’t think Tarantino’s DJANGO was a period picture about slavery, did you?

251 09-26 A Clockwork Blue (1972) 2/5
So based on the title you would think this is a dirty version of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. And like me you would be WRONG! It has nothing at all to do with Kubrick’s film, and it’s a shame since it would of been a thousand times better. This one is about two horrendous racial stereotypes, one black, one Jewish, arriving in heaven. The black one, using a watermelon television, is able to spy on the Jewish guys great great great grandson or whatever and mess with his life. The grandson gets his hand on a time travelling watch, and that finally sets the stage for a bunch of comedic softcore vignettes. The humour all falls completely flat, and while the women are great looking (including adult legend Rene Bond), which is surprising based on the cheepnis of this, it’s all played like a shitty Russ Meyers film and just annoys you. So it’s basically a racist, piss-poor Russ Meyer knock off that’s not really worth seeing. I watched the limited edition blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome that features the hardcore version, and a minute or so of harcore inserts doesn’t help the film at all.

252 09-27 The Monuments Men (2014) 3/5
George Clooney’s latest is typically solid. A great cast featuring Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and others all show up and do some good work. The plot, about a group of art experts tasked to help save works of art during WW2 is both a true story and a good one for a film. It was fun to watch, I don’t know why I didn’t like it more. There’s something awkward about it. It’s kind of “hip” like the OCEANS 11 series, and at the same time it tries to be emotionally heavy like a more serious war or Oscar bait film. Huh, I guess I do know why I didn’t like it more after all! It feels like a film “done by the numbers” so even though it’s a first time viewing, it felt over familiar. I’d rather watch a proper documentary on the real Monuments Men instead.

253 09-27 The Undergraduate (1971) 1.5/5
This is one of those early hardcore porn films that’s disguised as an educational picture as a way to skirt obscenity laws. A class of university students are taking an essay test on sex and you get to watch their answers in weirdly cut porn vignettes. The narration is weird enough to kind of be entertaining, but at just over an hour even the weirdest bits (like the Professor advising the students to read Penthouse Magazine) aren’t enough to hold your interest. I picked it up since Ed Wood Jr. (GLEN OR GLENDA) has a writing credit on it, but you would never know it from watching since all his crappy but awesome trademarks are absent.

254 09-28 Ward Sex (1971) 1/5

This one is one of two or three additional films included on the THE UNDERGRADUATE dvd and it’s just completely artless porno garbage that barely qualifies as a smoker. The disc is put out by Alpha Blue Archives. I found out after the fact that they are basically bootleggers, and that quality shows on this disc. Thankfully I only bought this one and one other Ed Wood Jr. disc so they won’t ever see anymore of my money.

255 09-28 Ms.45 (1981) 4.5/5
Abel Ferrara’s cult film keeps getting better every time I watch it. It’s total sleaze, the story of a mute seamstress who gets attacked and raped twice in one day heads out on a DEATH WISH type vigilante spree against the men of New York. What’s so interesting is that it’s got a huge pro-feminism bent that is completely clouded due to being written and directed by men. So while it seems to be about female empowerment, it’s cloudy as hell and hard to tell if it’s a warning to men to change their way, or a warning to men to watch out for feminists. All that said, it’s fascinating to watch, and 17 year old Zoe Lund is absolutely incredible in the lead. She completely carries the film and further blurs the empowerment/exploitation lines. All the gender politics aside, it’s at it’s more base a kick ass vengeance film, and one of Ferrara’s best. It’s a shame that Lund didn’t do more, but her later collaboration with Ferrara, the script for his fantastic THE BAD LIEUTENANT, solidifies her place as one of the great missed opportunities in film. Sad. Oh yeah, I revisited this one via the new blu-ray from Alamo Drafthouse, and it’s worth every single one of your pennies.

So there it is. Not a bad bunch of films, and quite a few mainstream ones for once. That said, I can’t stop thinking about Ms .45. One hell of a picture, that one!

Now to figure out how to wrap up my blogging week. Until next time.

The End