Movie A Day! : 174-185 “You spend a year for two hours, who give’s a shit?”

So still on staycation. I had a massive BBQ pulled pork sandwich the other day, if anyone was wondering how the getting fit project has been going.

Right, despite my attempts, this is going to be a long one since I have to recap the month. Let’s look at my amazing final week of watching and read some reviews! YES!

174 07-24 Hell’s Kitchen Season 12 (2014) 2/5
I stopped watching this show a few years ago since it got so incredibly ugly and manipulative I couldn’t stomach it. I got sucked into watching the latest season, and it continues to be an absolute horror. The only positive was when a contestant finally had enough and walked out on Ramsey after one of his epic, made for TV meltdowns. Ramsey deserves to have the shit slapped out of him.

175 07-25 Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah is a polarizing director. People tend to love him or hate him, and this film won’t be any different. Basic plot is Alfredo Garcia has gotten a Mexican Crime Boss’s daughter pregnant, and he has put a price of one million dollars on his head. Warren Oats plays a flunky American who has a lead on Garcia’s whereabouts. Oats has probably never been better, matching the typical Peckinpah macho ideal with an almost painful sensitivity and humanity. Like all of Peckinpah’s films, this one really is about the individual who just can’t seem to exist without the world bothering them. Also like most Peckinpah films, this one has a bit of a misogynistic streak that features a scene as awkward and uncomfortable as the rape to be found in STRAW DOGS. If you stick with the film though, there’s lots of things going on behind the slow motion violence that makes it interesting, and a bit ahead of it’s time.

176 07-25 Young Secretaries (1974) 2/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndromes PEEKARAMA disc, paired with the previously discussed DEEP TANGO. Like that film, it’s a bit of a mess. Basic plot is an ad exec is being pressured to hire a young buck into the firm. It plays like a softcore MAD MEN spoof by way of Herschell Gordon Lewis, only not as inept. The most surprising thing about it is it’s softcore, so it feels extra dated seeing as it came out two years after DEEP THROAT kickstarted the porno chic era. The disc itself, despite a warning at the start that the elements were in exceptionally bad shape, still looks pretty good with no major flaws and most of the issues are with the colour in DEEP TANGO. So as far as PEEKARAMA discs go, this one probably has less re-watch value since they films really are more odd than good, but still not a bad value if you’re into this type of sleaze.

177 07-? Chopped Canada Season 1 (2014) 3/5
I’m sticking this one here since Season 1 is apparently finished, but I had no idea since there was no big wham-bam ending. Anyway, CHOPPED CANADA is the same as CHOPPED in that it features 4 chefs competing in 3 stages where they have to cook with mystery ingredients with a winner being chosen at the end. It’s more polite than regular, American CHOPPED, and for my money, it’s the best of the cooking competition shows since it’s all about skill as opposed to screwing someone over, fake drama and side competition nonsense found in HELL’S KITCHEN and those other shows.

178 07-26 Ace in the Hole (1951) 4.5/5
179 07-27 Portrait of a “60% Perfect Man”: Billy Wilder (1980) 3/5
Billy Wilder followed up his amazing film noir SUNSET BOULEVARD with this satire and critique on the media. Kirk Douglas stars as a down on his luck newsman forced to hit the sticks to find a job and hoping for that one big story that will get him back to New York. He finds it when a man gets trapped in a mine, and is able to exploit it. Staggering both in it’s dark humour and sad truth. Fifty years later and this kind of stuff is happening pretty near every week in our current media climate, which means this film has lost none of it’s edge. Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. PORTRAIT is a documentary on Wilder that was included on the stellar Criterion Collection Blu-ray (along with additional material) and was pretty informative in it’s own right. Highly recommended.

180 07-27 Unholy Rollers (1972) 3/5
This one is a Roger Corman produced roller derby picture. Think WHIP IT, but with a tough as nails angry girl in the lead and you get the picture. This one features nearly constant derby action which helps to keep the film moving, and the performances are pretty good as well. It also features Roberta Collins (DEATH RACE 2000) in a support role, and she’s always great. The one big complaint, and I was tempted to knock half a point off it, is that the music was replaced with some god awful generic rock that is just horrendous. This was due to licensing costs, and as far as I can tell there is no way to get this movie with the original music intact. It’s a shame, but the movie is fun enough that you can overlook it.

181 07-27 Knightriders (1981) 3.5/5
After hitting it big with DAWN OF THE DEAD, George Romero got a three picture deal that gave him more creative freedom than he had ever had. The first film he made was this one, about what is basically a biker gang, except they live by the code of King Arthur and the knights of Camelot, traveling around putting on renaissance fair like bike shows. So you get the biker tropes of wanting freedom and what not mixed with jousting duels. It shouldn’t work, but it does with both Ed Harris putting in a strong, early leading man performance, and make-up effects legend Tom Savini being equally strong in the main supporting role. Keep a sharp eye out for Stephen Kings cameo, he would later collaborate with Romero on the second film of the deal, CREEPSHOW. Anyway, this one was good, and the Shout Factory Blu-Ray looks stupendous with some nice special features.

182 07-28 Vicious Lips (1983) 2/5
I nearly gave this one 3 out of five. It’s a cheap Sci-Fi comedy about an all girl band that gets a once in a lifetime shot as a high profile gig and gets into all types of wacky trouble trying to get there. The performances are way too broad to be campy, and the humour all falls flat. It’s so EIGHTIES in it’s look and feel it gags you with a spoon. That said, the songs are actually really good! It throws you for a loop. If there was more band and less shenanigans, it would actually be a really good movie. Despite being dirt cheap, the production values are pretty good too. In the end though, it just doesn’t work.
This one was the last film in a four part CULT MOVIES VOL 1 set that also featured INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS, DEVIL’S 8, and UNHOLY ROLLERS. Putting two films per DVD means the transfers aren’t the greatest in the world, with BEE’S suffering the worse. That said, for under ten bucks it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Not even the best song!

183 07-28 Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965) 3.5/5
More samurai goodness. This one finds Zatoichi mixed up in more yakuza trouble after ripping off some gangs while gambling. It’s fun and epic like all the films manage to be and I’m yet to get tired with this amazing series. It is weird that the poster are so shit considering how good the movies are.

184 07-30 Somewhere in Dreamland – The Max Fleischer Color Classics (2002) 2.5/5
This is a nearly complete collection of the Color Classics series of cartoons, featuring all but one. This was basically Fleischer’s attempt at competing with Disney’s SILLY SYMPHONIES, and they just flat out aren’t as good. There are a handful that are great, and the animation is fine, they just overall don’t work as well. The real problem with this DVD though is the source material. All the films but the one missing are in the public domain, so the only available versions short of paying large fees for access to the negatives are TV prints, which means these all look like hell with faded, scratched and beat images. It’s better than nothing and for an independent release about as good as you can get. With commentaries and what not on the DVD, they really have done all they can, but when the main cartoons look like hell, all the extras in the world won’t help. All that said, one of my all time favourite cartoons is on here!

185 07-31 The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) 4/5

I remember seeing this one when it first came out and being left flat. Being a big fan of the Coen brothers previous films, especially MILLERS CROSSING and BARTON FINK, this one just seemed silly. It still does, but it really works perfectly as a revisiting to the Frank Capra films like MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, with the satire being that of corporate culture that was rearing it’s head. I had also forgotten how amazingly breathtaking Jennifer Jason Leigh is in this one, perfectly nailing the rapid fire dialog. Add in Bruce Campbell is a supporting role and this one is little gem in the Coen brothers filmography.

Phew! Are you all still with me? Here is my tally for July:

32 Watched, 31 First Timers, 0 In Theaters

Finally! I managed to not only watch the equivalent of one movie a day, but I managed to watch new movies per day! Hooray! Here are my numbers from July 2013, for comparison:

47 Films,  40 First Timers, 2 Theater

Dang! Last year I was doing a regular movie night once a week where we would get in at least three movies. Who wants to start up a local movie night in Edmonton? Anyone?!?

I’m currently at 185 films watched, compare to 280 that was this time in 2013. I’m 100 movies off target. No need to wonder if this is a good thing or bad.

My pick for best of the month is a tie between ACE IN THE HOLE and NEBRASKA, with SUGAR COOKIES, the Ernie Kovacs Collection and those ZATOICHI movies being runners up.

That’s enough for now, share, suggest, comment, etc.

The end

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Movie a Day! 130-135: URGH!

So the past week was worse than the week before. I came down with a flu though, so I got in some movies that would not of been watched otherwise. Hooray for the flu! You know it’s a bad week when you’re happy to have the flu. Anyway, not a terrible start to June movie watching wise.

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130 06-01 Grand Theft Auto (1977) 3/5
No, I’m not counting video games as movies. This was Ron Howard’s directorial debut. It’s actually pretty good. On par with “Eat My Dust” at any rate. In this one, a girl steals her dad’s limo and takes off with Ron Howard to get married. So it’s a fantasy picture since no women would steal a car to run off with some gawky ginger like Ron Howard. It’s another massive chase film with lots of car crashes and spotty humour bits. Still, it works well enough, though not as entertaining as the video games, those are awesome. Don’t be fooled by the poster either, I don’t think Howard ever gets behind the wheel of the car. It’s all the girl driving, GIRL POWER!

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131 06-01 Urgh! A Music War (1981) 4/5
I blind bought this one having never heard of it, and it ends up being pretty much the greatest concert film ever! It’s a perfect snapshot of music in 1980. The Police are the big headliners, which is great since it’s from the period when they were awesome and not annoying. The rest of the show though is ridiculous in the best possible way. The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, The Go-Gos, Devo, Gary Numan, the awesome just keeps on coming! My only complaint is that it’s not 20 hours long and that Warner’s shit out a barebones, crummy DVD via their stupid “archives” program. Someone needs to do a proper release of this gem.

*I discovered while looking up the poster art that there is a 6 hour version of this film, featuring 3 songs per artist instead of the one song per artist in the film. It’s held up due to licensing issues. WE NEED THIS RELEASED! URGH!

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132 06-03 Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) 2.5/5
Finally sat down to this one since Bryan Singer’s next X-Men movie is finally out. It’s just dull. I don’t know if it’s trying too hard to be a “Lord of the Rings” type of thing or what, but it just doesn’t work. Ewan McGregor and Ian McShane are in fine form, but the rest of the cast, especially the lead “Jack” are the pits. So it’s hard to give two shits about anything when you don’t really care if the lead is going to get killed. There is also a fuck ton of giants, and they seem mostly to be there for snot and fart jokes. Which would be passable if the film itself didn’t look cheap and rushed. So screw this one. Another big budget, CGI jerk-off of a film with no proper story to engage you.

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133 06-03 Breaking Bad Season 3 4/5
Yup, this one is still good.

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134 06-04 Marilyn and the Senator (1975) 1.5/5
This one is the first misstep as far as releases from Vinegar Syndrome go. Presentation wise, it’s a complete win. The film looks great, there is a commentary with lead actor William Margold and a trailer. A top notch release. The problem is the film. The basic plot is a woman is desperate to get pregnant by a Senator. Ends up she’s a CIA agent, and the Senator is all for it. His wife finds out, and proceeds to over-fuck him so he can’t perform. Which isn’t the stupidest plot ever for a porn film, but not much of one for a TWO HOUR MOVIE! The director had big thoughts with this being a satire of Government in light of a porn crackdown, but it just doesn’t work. A big part of that problem is porn legend Bill Margold. He’s just unpleasant and a sap in this and just one of those actors I’ve never liked. The humour dies on the floor and everything just tests your patience to no end.

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135 06-04 Lust for Freedom (1987) 3/5
This one is a women’s prison movie from the 80’s, and it’s exactly what you think it is. Obnoxious, loud, goofy, big hair and a metal soundtrack. So it’s the PERFECT women’s prison movie from the 80’s. If you don’t believe me, check out the trailer. Vinegar Syndrome did a great job with this disc, and it was a great palate cleanser after the previous slog that was “Marilyn and the Senator.”

That’s it for now. Currently binging on Breaking Bad Season 4 and not much else, so there might again be a wait between posts longer than a week. Unless I get sick again and have to miss work. Let’s hope for that!

The End

Movie a Day! : 104-111- “Get Up Off Your Ass and Show Yourself!”

Right, time for a round up. Here are all the things I watched last week. It was a short week blog wise since I tend to start a new week with Monday, but I watched a whole bunch of films over the weekend seeing as to how a video game I’m trying to complete has gotten boring and I’m dragging my heels on it.

Here we go!

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104 05-02 The Making of Nashville (2014) 3.5/5
This is the feature length documentary found on the blu-ray of the previously mentioned “Nashville”. It’s good, with lots of neat stories though no real behind the scenes footage. Anyway, between, the film and the additional extras (the Robert Altman interviews are must see), I give this disc a 5/5. Criterion really know how to put out a movie.

105 05-02 Sadie (1980) 2.5/5
Back in February I watched a Rita Hayworth film called “Miss Sadie Thompson” in which she plays a former dance hall girl (prostitute) who gets mixed up with a missionary while stuck on an island on her way to Australia to start a new life. This is a porn version of the same story. Directed by porn legend, “Johnny Wadd” director Bob Chinn, who you will know as the basis of Burt Reynolds character in “Boogie Nights”. Anyway, the story actually works as a porn, and he cleverly updates the villain from being a missionary to being a ultra right wing senator bent on censorship and what not. Surprisingly, the film seems more intent on telling the story instead of the sex scenes, which are all over quickly and seem per functionary to meet distributor guidelines instead of driving the film. The problem of course is the shit porn acting and the incredibly cheap island set that is used that ends up making this look like a dirty high school production that doesn’t really work as a non-sex film or a “proper” porno that has a story as an excuse for the sex scenes. It’s probably this weird thing that makes it kind of interesting.

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106 05-03 The Great Gatsby (2013) 3/5
I am not a Baz Luhrmann devotee. While I liked his “Romeo + Juliet” , “Moulin Rouge!” was lost on me and I couldn’t bring myself to watch “Australia” (Mad Max is all the Australian history I need). All that said, this one was pretty good. The performances are all fine, and the story, I‘m guessing, is well told. I never read the novel. My only problem is in the execution. While “Rouge!” left me flat, it was a lush, colourful picture. This one is too, but it’s all CGI, and the type of CGI that screams “I AM CGI! LOOK AT ME! CGI!” and when films rely on digital effects like this in such an obvious way it draws me out of the picture. Much more than hearing Jay-Z on the soundtrack of a movie that takes place in the twenties. So it’s “The Pretty Good But Not All That Great Gatsby” in the end. The blu-ray has a trailer for the 1926 version, I want to see that one.

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107 05-03 The Seductress (1981) 3/5
This is the second film on the double feature PeekARama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured “Sadie”. Also directed by Bob Chinn, this is a more traditional porn. Basic plot is that of a woman who works with a guy in seducing men and filming them so that their wives can blackmail them for divorce. Ends up she’s a junkie (which means she’s unreliable), and figures out she can get even more money by blackmailing the wives into sleeping with other men for additional blackmailing. It’s all very convoluted. Way more convoluted than it should be. Still a cheap production, but it works better than “Sadie” did since it doesn’t rely on sophisticated staging that can’t be provided on a cheap set and the plot better serves the necessary inclusion of sex scenes.

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108 05-04 TNT Jackson (1974) 3.5/5
Cheap-o “Pam Grier” type knockoff about a woman who travels to China (The Philippines) to find her brother, only to discover he’s been killed by a drug gang. so she has to use her Kung-Fu skills to kick the shit out of everyone. It’s pretty damned great, with laughably corny fights, hilarious dialogue and unnecessary nudity. Add in some ridiculous gore, and this one is a fun watch. It should be noted that to my memory, not a single thing on that poster is represented in the movie other than Jeanne Bell herself.

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109 05-04 Firecracker (1981) 3.5/5
This is the third film of the same set with “TNT Jackson”, and “Too Hot to Handle”, which I reviewed last blog. I had low expectations, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Another film where a woman goes to the Philippines (actual Philippines, not pretend China/Chinatown Philippines), this time to find a missing sister, and has to use her Kung-Fu skills to kick the shit out of everyone. This one is by the same director as TNT, and features Vic Diaz in a larger supporting role than he usually gets. I should have started a tribute page to Vic Diaz, taking pictures of him in all the films shot in the Philippines that he ends up in. Anyway, this one is as corny as the last one, with the difference being that the lead actress is actually a pretty good martial artist. On par with a Cynthia Rothrock anyway, so the fights are actually pretty good.

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110 05-04 Used Cars (1980) 3/5
This was one of the very first VHS tapes dad brought home when we got our first VCR around 1983. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, though I do remember watching it for some reason. I hadn’t seen it since. Prior to making the pop culture hits with “Back to the Future” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, Robert Zemeckis put out this raunch comedy. I’m guessing “National Lampoon’s Animal House” kicked off this trend of comedy, were guys are total guys and do wacky pranks while trying to get in girls pants. This one features Kurt Russell as a salesman for the titled Used Car lot, in battle with a rival car lot owner who’s trying to take over his land. As dated as it feels, it still offers some great laughs and the entire cast is pretty likeable as well. That said, it’s definitely a “Bro” type comedy. Still worth a watch for a chuckle. Plus it has Guy Caballero himself, Joe Flaherty in a supporting role.

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111 05-04 The Altar of Lust 2.5/5
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. The title makes it sound like a Satanic thing, but it’s not at all. The basic story is about a young woman (played by, no joke “Erotica Lantern”) who escapes from Sweden after being raped by her stepfather, and winds up in New York very sexually confused. This is all told via the device of her talking to her psychiatrist, so the sexual vignettes stream out from that. It’s absolutely dreadful production wise, in that no dialogue was recorded. It’s all dubbed and read in a monotone that has to be seen/heard to be believed. It’s so bad, that when the psychiatrist talks, they show the woman reacting, and vice versa so that you will never see a line of dialogue coming from a persons lips.

That said, it IS entertaining and interesting. The director is Roberta Findlay, who with her husband Michael made the notorious roughies known as “The Flesh Trilogy”. Here she wrote, filmed, produced and directed (and I think dubbed) the picture, so it’s interesting since it is from a woman’s point of view. Usually softcore stuff like this is very male centric. Also, this one is from the period where softcore would turn hardcore, and as the picture moves forward, the scenes get harder until eventually you see Harry Reems (a year before “Deep Throat” would make him a star) receive oral. So it’s a bizarre time capsule of the period, and of the filmmakers literally pushing the boundaries of censorship within the film, pre-porno chic. Which is why I’m giving it 2.5 out of 5 instead of a 1.5-2, since it really is laughably BAD bad.

 

So there it is, more movies than most watch in a month! It’s ridiculous that I have more to say on dumb movies like “The Altar of Lust” then most other things I enjoy. My pick of the week is “TNT Jackson.” I’m such a sucker for blacksploitation at this point that I’m probably considered racist. The movies are just so goofy, they’re irresistible damn it!