Movie A Day!: Disconnected End Of The Violent Years

Here it is, the last post of 2017. All the films I watched since the last post. It’s a big one. It’s fitting though since I’ve decided to end the blog. My goal was to keep this going for the full year, and I did that. Anyone reading this can tell it’s pretty much been coasting, and that’s my fault. Better to end it than continue. I’m still going to be tracking my movie watching, that can be found on my Letterbox profile found here:

https://letterboxd.com/Ruz_El/

I’m going to attempt to pull back a bit online in 2018, and part of that will be not posting blogs where I can get personal. Anyone who read this blog, thank you from taking time out of your day to spend it here. Hopefully you found something of value or a new favourite.

I wish you all the best.

Disconnected Poster
479 12/17 Disconnected (1984) 3/5   I think this is the first feature by the team behind PSYCHOS IN LOVE, and I enjoyed it more. It’s technically a slasher, but it doesn’t play like one which helps to make it stand out. Worth checking out since it’s such an oddity.

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480 12/17 Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special (2017) 4/5   As far as I know Burnett was the only woman to solo host/have a variety show in the late 60’s that ran for 11 years. It was deadly funny, shot live with limited to no retakes and seemed to be as much a contest on which performer could crack the others up first. Amazing to watch the clips now with performers making eye contact and performing their guts out, in comparison with the SNL card reading extravaganza that passes for sketch comedy now. The clips are short, but this one makes it up with lots of remembrances from Burnett herself, who at 84 looks like she’s ready to jump back into the game.

Twenty Questions Poster
481 12/17 Twenty Questions (1988) 3/5   Documentary from Gorman Bechard shot in the 80’s but not released until now is a neat idea. Get twenty different people to answer the same twenty question cards and see the results. It goes on a little long at 60 minutes, but still, a good idea with a simple set-up.

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482 12/22 Liquid Sky (1982) 4/5   One of the more odd 80’s films. A day-glo look at the hip, underground fashion scene with drugs and assault being high on peoples list. And a UFO with an alien that gets high by fatally ingesting orgasms. It’s the type of gorgeous film that you want to just let envelope you, and more dark  than it appears when you think about it. Worth checking out.


483 12/22 The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer Season 1 (2017) 2/5   This history channel series piqued my interest since I’m obsessed with true crime and the Zodiac case is so bonkers. It ended up being goofy as hell, so ridiculous in presentation that even the cracking of part of one of the ciphers was underwhelming. Never mind the stupid super computer taught to think like the zodiac that they kept representing with a matrix-face for the extra stupid to comprehend. They basically ignore all the police work done in the past 50 years to go on wild goose chases that end up with nothing, and the final ep is a massive prick-tease for a season 2 that I’m sure I’ll hate-watch if it comes to fruition.

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484 12/22 Let’s Talk Sex (1983) 3/5   Pretty typical porn for the era, this one visualizing the phone sex fantasies of some mopes calling into a goofy phone sex lines. It’s no classic, and has a horrible dubbed soundtrack, but ends up being better than the usual.

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485 12/23 Festival (1967) 4/5   Before the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock the times they were a changing at the Newport folk Festival. This documentary follows highlights from the 1963-1966 line-ups featuring clips from everyone from Bob Dylan to Mississippi John Hurt. The only complaint is that it’s not 10 hours long with full performances.


86 12/24 Trouble No More (2017) 3/5   A film showcasing live concert footage of Bob Dylan from his Christian years. It’s cut with clips of actor Michael Shannon delivering sermons and frankly none of it works. The live footage is great, but completely without any history or context. A better and more proper documentary of this period should have been made. It’s ridiculous that there’s still no decent concert films of Bob Dylan commercially available.

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487 12/24 Farmer’s Daughters (1976) 3.5/5   Notorious porn roughie noted for starring acclaimed raconteur Spalding Gray, this one lives up to its hype. A trio of daughters assault a farm hand, only to end up on the receiving end of abuse from three escaped convicts. It’s ugly, but compelling at the same time with some editing tricks that defy it’s incompetence.

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488 12/25 Wonder Woman (2017) 4/5   In a world where all the superhero films seem to blur together, and it’s generally regarded that the DC universe post-Christopher Nolan Batman are basically terrible. So it’s nice that this one is so damn good. Gadot is fantastic as in the lead, both genuine and powerful in her depiction, the rest of the cast rises to the occasion with Chris Pine finally being appealing in a role. It’s never dips into cheesecake and I found myself getting teary eyed since it’s so rare to see women in action movies depicted like this. It’s great, I hope the director gets to do more.

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489 12/26 War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) 4/5   Back in the 80’s, I had a ratty VHS tape in which I had the films “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Apocalypse Now” and I watched it to death. Sometimes once a week. Never would I imagine that the Apes series would distill these two films into one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Emotional, amazing action and never once did I suspect that the apes weren’t real. It’s a remarkable achievement in a series that has been way better than it had any reason to be.

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490 12/27 Donnie Darko (theatrical cut) 4/5   Second time watching this version and it finally clicked for me. Lots has been written, I have nothing to add. It’s good.

491 12/27 Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko (2016) 3.5/5   A very well done making of documentary, mainly due to dealing with the people in the production as opposed to the actors.

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492 12/27 Hail, Caesar! (2016) 3.5/5   The Coen brothers take a look at the golden age of Hollywood. It’s a little bit of a mess, with kidnapping communists and what not, but I loved it. I have a soft spot for old Hollywood and this one really nails the period.

L'ambizioso Poster
493 12/28 The Climber (1975) 2.5/5   “Little Joe” Dallesandro stars in this Italian crime film about an American in Naples trying to find his way in the organized crime scene. It works, but adds up to nothing all that special since it pretty much stiks to genre conventions. Everything in this will be done better in dePalma’s SCARFACE.

Gimme Danger Poster
494 12/29 Gimme Danger (2016) 4/5   As perfect a documentary on Iggy & The Stooges you could hope for. As far as I can tell, every frame of film of the band in its prime is in here, though sadly none with sync-sound. At any rate, the only better telling of this story is the book Total Chaos. A must see, go buy the records.

Baltimore Rising Poster
495 12/29 Baltimore Rising (2017) 3/5   Documentary on the resistance movement in Baltimore in the wake of the Freddie Gray killing. Spends a little too much time with certain people as opposed to telling the whole story, so it’s a little hit a miss. Lays the ground for a better “Black Lives Matter” type documentary in the future.

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496 12/31 Star Trek Season 3 (1969) 4/5   After literally years, I finally knuckled down and finished watching the original series. Generally considered a step down due to budget cuts, it’s still a damn fine season and I find the cheapness adds to the surreal, alien planets. Some good ideas are explored, and one of my favourite episodes – “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”. Next year I may dive into the animated series.

The Violent Years Poster
497 12/31 The Violent Years (1956) 4/5   Of all the films to watch to send off the year I had to watch this one. As far as juvenile delinquent scare films go, you can do better. This one is known due to the Ed Wood Jr. script connection, but I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun. A good girl is running a girl gang, knocking off gas stations, raping guys, and getting tricked by communists?!?!? It’s goofy, but I’ve always enjoyed it since stumbling upon it in the VHS days. The new Blu-ray scan from AGFA is great and worth your time.

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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.