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,

Advertisements

Movie A Day! 071-075: All That Jazz

So since last blog, my back went out. The past couple days I’ve been home, flat on my back. It’s getting better now, I can walk and sit with out buckling over in pain. You would think I would have had more movies watched, but I decided to catch up on TV. So you lucky mucks were saved from having a bunch of posts!


071 02-21 Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (2014) 4/5
An eight part documentary about the Foo Fighters recording their latest album sounds like a bad idea, even worse if you’re not a big Foo Fighters fan. I can kind of take them or leave them, but holy shit was this good! The conceit was that they recorded a song in a different city for inspiration, so each episode is a history of the music scene of each city. They are really good mini-histories, with tons of clips, pictures and interviews with the people from the scene, and Dave Grohl is the perfect host. From Buddy Guy talking about Chicago blues, to Dolly Parton talking about Nashville, to Doctor John (not an actual Doctor) telling the most insane story ever in New Orleans, this whole series was a real treat, even if each episode ended with a pretentious Foo Fighter video of the song they recorded.


072 02-22 The 87th Academy Awards (2015) 2/5
This one started with one of the all time great openings ever, largely due to Jack Fuckin’ Black coming out and killing it. Once Neil Patrick Harris settled into hosting, the whole thing just took a giant shit, with an over serious tone in everything from the introductions to the acceptance speeches. Not a single joke or bit by Harris landed, with a stupid “NPH Oscar Predictions” bit maybe having the worst payoff in the history of television after the longest ever set-up. The only saving grace to the never ending thing was the music performances. My favourites Tegan & Sara were great, and holy shit was Lady Gaga ridiculously good in her SOUND OF MUSIC tribute. Hopefully next year the show gets better because you know I’m going to be watching.


073 02-26 Quicksand (1950) 3.5/5
Mickey Rooney sneaks twenty bucks out of the work till to take a bitch blonde out on the town, and it ruins his life. This is a hell of a tight film noir, lean and mean and horrible to watch since it’s so ridiculously skewed to completely fuck Rooney’s character. Plus it has Peter Lorre in a small part as a small time hood, and that’s always a good thing in a movie. Not the classiest low budget film you’ll see, but fun and worth watching all the same.


074 02-27 All That Jazz (1979) 4/5
Hard to believe, but I’m actually a big fan of movie musicals. I like the old, classic Hollywood ones though. The modern equivalent, with few exceptions, tend to get on my tits. I’m also not a huge fan of “jazz dance”, which Bob Fosse, the director of this one, pretty much invented. As a result, I’ve been avoiding this one, and it was a mistake, since it’s brilliant. Fosse turns the musical on it’s head while at the same time honoring tradition. So it plays like the classic Hollywood films (with the musical numbers being part of the story, not having characters break into song like in Broadway plays, thank Christ) while also pushing the format forward by being an autobiographical drama about life and death. You’ve read that right, it’s taking on the big stuff. No goofy romance here. The story comes out of Fosse’s life after having a heart attack scare, while working on a Broadway show while finishing up his movie LENNY. The dance numbers being hallucinations as well as bits of the show the character, Joe Gideon, is working on. It’s absolutely brilliant film making, with Roy Scheider giving an career best performance, hell, an all time great performance as Fosses stand-in Gideon. If you have never seen it, WATCH IT ALREADY!


075 Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 1 (Eight Episodes) (2015) 3/5
Binge watched this one. The story takes place post world war 2, coming from the CAPTAIN AMERICA films. It’s a great idea, and a good story. It’s largely miss-handled in tone though, never deciding if it’s a hard boiled, action packed drama, or a Joss Whedon-esque quip fest. It’s also another TV series that is largely ruined by the score. To have slap-sticky swing music play when Agent Carter is kicking the shit out of guys, but switch to more standard drama type score when she’s receiving the ass kicking seems misguided in our current culture. It’s a bit “Ain’t she cute, beating up boys… oh no, isn’t it terrible, a woman getting punched.” It totally kills the tone and pacing by being so obvious and manipulative. Which is a shame since otherwise they mostly get this one right. Anyway, no need for a second season of this one, as a stand alone it’s good enough.

Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about ALL THAT JAZZ since watching it last night. I got the Criterion Collection blu-ray, so I’m going to have to pour over all the extras.