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,

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

Movie A Day! : 204-213 “Big Hunka Love”

Two posts in one week! You lucky lucks! This one catches up the rest of the films I watched during the last week when I wasn’t posting due to the cloud of moodiness. I ended up watching quite a bit due to throwing my back out and being barely able to walk around by the time I got home from work. Nothing enables movie watching like sickness or physical pain. I mean, I’d rather lay about and watch movies anyway. When you’re healthy and watching movies, you’re lazy. If you’re sick though, you’re getting better and doing the right thing. Let’s all get incurable but non-fatal diseases so we can be empowered to watch more movies!

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204 08-17 Elvis : That’s the Way It Is (Special Edition) (2001) 3.5/5
This is a concert film documenting Elvis’s return to live performances via his opening week in Las Vegas. It’s great. Elvis is a bundle of nerves, and the energy is contagious when he gets going. His voice is fantastic and he really does look like a King. You could argue that he is at his peak here, from here on it’s all a slide downhill into drugs and poor health. This version concentrates more on performance and cuts a bunch of the interview type material that made the original film from 1970 fun but severely dated. On another note, every poster for this sucked. Look at that fucking outfit, why not show him in the dazzling white suit he’s seen in the film in?

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See? Already a better picture for the poster despite the doof on bass behind him.

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205 08-18 Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage (1966) 3.5/5
This one finds Zatoichi again grappling with the morality of killing hundreds (thousands?) of men, so he decides to begin a pilgrimage to the 81 temples to find enlightenment. Guess how it goes? Another fantastic edition, that also featured one of the best scenes yet of his swordsmanship in the opening.

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206 08-19 No Time for Sergeants (1955) 4/5
Based on the introduction, this was Andy Griffith’s debut on live television (via the United States Steel Hour), and his first experience acting in a play. It’s an absolutely amazing performance, and you can literally see his star being born. From here he would move on to winning a Tony for the Broadway adaptation, then his TV series. The play itself is hilarious, and a rare example of comedy being performed on live television as opposed to the typical dramas.

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207 08-20 A Brief History of Time (1991) 4/5
Errol Morris is a master of the documentary, and this one is no exception. Spending equal time with Stephen Hawking’s biography and theory explanation, it manages to never be boring and surprisingly accessible to people like me whose brain starts to sing “LA LA LA LAAAA”  when physics are being explained. I guess the only knock you can have against the film now is that it’s twenty plus years out of date, and I think the theory presented has been disproved, or changed or whatever happens with the science. Fucking science, always changing. They’re redoing Cosmos now! Fucking kids and their new science!

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208 08-22 This Is Elvis (Extended Video Version) (1981) 4/5
Elvis week continues! This one is a straight up documentary detailing his life. The good is that it features a whole bunch of clips of Elvis, mostly of song performances. The bad is that they have actors recreating parts of his life, and a guy narrating the film as Elvis in the first person but kind of from the afterlife. It makes it unnecessarily weird, especially the opening scenes of his last night alive in Graceland. That said, you do get a good picture of his life, and they don’t hold back on the negatives either. If all you know is “Fat Elvis” of popular culture, you owe it to yourself to see some of this stuff to see why he was the King. Plus theirs priceless footage of him stoned out of his skull, kicking members of his Memphis Mafia in the nuts during a karate demo. Seriously, MUST SEE STUFF!

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209 08-23 The Dragon Tamers (1975) 3/5
At first glance, this one is a typical Kung-Fu picture about some guy wanting to challenge some other guy to see who’s the better fighter and getting mixed up in some school clash. What separates this one though, is it’s the second picture directed by John Woo. Being a huge fan of THE KILLER and HARD BOILED, two films that I would put at the top of any “Best Of” list, it was fun to see Woo working in the Golden Harvest trenches. Even at this point you can see his style coming to form, with slow motion and other style tricks. The plot too, with heavy emphasis on loyalty and friendship fit solidly into the Woo cannon. The opening girl fight in the mud though, not so much, that bit seems more at home in a women in prison film. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Machete Kills Movie Poster

210 08-23 Machete Kills (2013) 3/5
I liked this one much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love trash, and I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and his homemade films. It’s more of a case of just how good can the second film of a series based off a fake trailer be? Ends up nearly as good as the unlikely first film. I think it would of played better a smidge shorter on a double bill, which really is how these films should be seen but never well since GRINDHOUSE shit the bed at the box office. Shame on all of you who skipped seeing that one in the theaters. Anyway, it’s big, it’s stupid and it leaves a big smile on your face. I really hope they do the MACHETE KILLS IN SPACE movie, that one looks amazing.

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211 08-23 Candy Goes To Hollywood (1979) 3/5
This is the sequel to THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY, and is the better film. Thora Birch’s mom Carol Connors is back in the lead role, this time heading to Hollywood where she gets hooked up with a sleaze-bag agent played by John Leslie who sends her out to numerous shows to get taken advantage off. The spoofs of the Tonight Show and The Gong Show are pretty fun, and John Leslie is actually a really good actor who could of had a career outside of porn. The real cult draw, and the reason why I had seen this one previously, is the appearance of pre-Plasmatics punk legend Wendy O. Williams shooting ping pong balls out of her pussy during the Gong Show spoof. So obviously this one is on the very top of all of your “Must See” lists. Another winner, double feature from Vinegar Syndrome.

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212 08-24 An American Hippie in Israel (1972) 2/5
This one is considered a cult classic, but it left me completely flat. It’s what the title says, an American hippie arrives in Israel and starts preaching his hippie horseshit. It’s funny and of it’s time, but it’s more BAD bad then fun bad, with constant preaching about “The Man” and the evils of war. It just never worked. I picked it up since the company that did the blu-ray, Grindhouse Releasing have been dead solid in the past. Oh well, you can’t like everything.

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213 08-24 The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) 4/5
More Wes Anderson guys! I’m not going to get too into it other than to say that once again I was surprised at how good it was. It’s such a goofy premise, some guy hunting down a shark that killed his first mate, but the cast is so good, and the script so tight, and Bill Murray so perfect that I just loved the shit out this one.

There it is! What’s left to say? I’m really enjoying the Wes Anderson films on the second go round. Elvis is awesome and who doesn’t love ping-pong? This really is the greatest blog, you should tell all your friends to follow me. Maybe I’ll get a sponsor? That’s how you get rich on the internet right? I mean, my webcam shows aren’t doing anything, this is all I got!

 

The End