Movie A Day: Secrets Of The Triad Women Ups

Moving into the third week of Summer Cold and now trying not to spiral into depression over it. It’s been tough, I’m covering the warehouse at work, it’s tough when you can’t breath. Anyway, movies!

223 07/16 Secrets from Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks (2007) 3.5/5   A really well done documentary on the making of the TV series. Talks to pretty near everyone that should have been in it, with the exception of David Lynch which isn’t much of a surprise.


224 07/17 The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) 4/5   Humphrey Bogart stars as an painter who may be poisoning his wives for inspiration. Bogart is fantastic in this one, and Barbara Stanwyck more than holds her own opposite him. She plays an absolutely lovely woman, which only seems strange when you’ve seen her in dozens of pre-code films playing gloriously manipulative bitches. Man, I love Stanwyck. Anyway, this one is pretty great and worth your time.  


225 07/18 Hail The Conquering Hero (1944) 4/5   Preston Sturges nails another movie. This one about a small town boy who flunks out of the Marines, but ends up being hailed a hero against his will upon his return. Every joke lands, the political commentary is razor sharp and holds up, star Eddie Bracken is perfect in the bewildered lead and I fell in love with Ella Rains. What more can you ask for in a movie?


226 07/18 Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) 4/5   You might think an early Takashi Miike Yakuza picture would be a bit run of the mill and you would be wrong. Really wrong. This one is as bonkers as his more well known films, only playing with Yakuza tropes. Basic plot is the old standard where a cop’s brother has started working with a gang specializing in organ harvesting. There’s more than that going on. The first in a trilogy, I’m hoping the others are as good.


227 07/19 The Clock (1945) 2.5/5   Judy Garland gets a serious non-musical role in this one, starring as a secretary in New York who stumbles into soldier on leave before shipping out. It’s basically like the Before Sunrise series, with the two wandering around falling in love except it’s pretty near charmless and there’s too many bits. A milk delivery scene goes on way too long. I found Robert Walker as the soldier annoying and none of it really worked for me.


228 07/19 Rainy Dog (1997) 3.5/5   The second film in the Black Triad Trilogy has no narrative connections to the first film. This one deals with a Japanese hitman stranded in Taiwan who discovers that he has a child. There is zero sentimentality to this one, it’s got a really bitter feel to it and while not as gleefully bonkers as the first film, this one manages to stick with you.


229 07/21 The Women (1939) 3/5   The most striking thing about this film should be that there are zero men featured in it. I don’t believe you see a single male the whole time, you certainly never hear them. That said, the most striking thing ends up being the shocking array of mysterious hats the leads all wear. The other striking thing is Joan Crawford is almost a bit role but she manages to steal the entire film. Which is saying something considering the strong cast. (I’m also still in love with Paulette Goddard.)


230 07/21 Ley Lines (1999) 3.5/5   Final film in Takashi Miike’s Black Triad Trilogy is another stand alone film, this time dealing with a group of Chinese/Japanese youths in Japan going to Tokyo in an attempt to get some money to leave the country. It’s interesting that the real theme of the trilogy isn’t Yakuza/Triad warfare or gang stories as it is about people stuck in a place they don’t feel like they belong. It makes for three distinct films exploring similar aspects as opposed to traditional film series. They all work in their own way.


231 07/22 The Seven-Ups (1973) 3.5/5   A sort of unofficial sequel to the The French Connection, this one sees Roy Scheider leading a police task force with a license to pretty much break the law in order to catch criminals. It plays it pretty straight and ends up being better than the actual sequel to The French Connection. A good crime plot and a spectacular car chase in the middle make it worth checking out.

 

That’s all I got this week.

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Mooooveee a day!: Immortal Epic

Thin week this week, film fans. Been going through the extras in that Twin Peaks boxset and catching up on other things, but if you read to the end you will find an absolutely fantastic documentary series that recently aired on PBS/BBC4.


171 06/12 The Immortal Story (1968) 3/5   This one was Orson Welle’s final completed fiction film, and his first in colour. Technically it’s perfect like all his films. It starts strong but I found the story wandered a bit halfway through.


172 06/14 Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014) 3.5/5   A collection of deleted scenes edited by Lynch is pretty interesting stuff and a great compliment to the main film. That said, this isn’t a film in it’s own right. It fleshes out some ideas but the main draw is that it catches up with a bunch of the cast from the TV series that didn’t make it into the film. If you’re a fan of the film and series, it’s worth a watch.


173 06/15 A Slice of Lynch (2007) 3/5   This one finds Lynch sitting round table with actors Madchen Amick, Kyle MacLachlan and producer John Wentworth as they discuss all things Twin Peaks. It’s fun and interesting, but also slightly awkward. I would have preferred solo interviews.

174 06/16 Return To Twin Peaks (2007) 2.5/5   Another short found in the complete mystery boxset is about the fan convention. It is what it is.


175 06/17 American Epic (2017) 4/5   This is a four part series documenting the birth of American Music. In the 20’s, record recording left the big cities and went rural, and by focusing on artist as diverse as The Carter Family and Charlie Patton, the story is told. Part four features Jack White and T-Bone Burnett bringing in artists to record sides on the only surviving machine. It’s fantastic stuff, but I am biased since I have loved this music since discovering The Anthology of American Folk Music 20 or so years ago.

Movie A Day!: Master Falstaff Peaks

Last night I had a dream that I went to the secret Chinese food restaurant at West Edmonton Mall. Secret because it’s where the old China Town part of the mall used to be. Just down from Bourbon Street, and to get to it you had to go through double delivery doors beside the Fuji Banana Frosty stand. The restaurant is much nicer than it sounds, with classy, modern decor. This is the third time in about 16 years I’ve gone to the restaurant. The same guy is running it and pulling customers through the delivery doors like a club hawker, leading them down the maintenance hall to the restaurant proper. The food is good, though I can tell they are on hard times. The visibility is terrible after all. You have to look for it. The wait staff were sneaking pieces off of my plate. I left without paying. None of this is real, none of this existed in the past, but I have strong memory of it. My brain takes this as “Happened”, not “Dreamed”.

Thin on the movies this week, for reasons apparent in the reviews.


167 06/09 Twin Peaks Season 2 (1991) 4/5   People consider this one as going downhill compared to the first season but I really enjoyed it this time round. It’s true, it goes for a bit of a wander once the Laura Palmer stuff winds up, but once the Windom Earl plot ramps up it’s just as good as that as what came before. The final episode is one of the best in the entire series that absolutely drips in an almost Lovecraftian horror.


168 06/10 Chimes at Midnight (1965) 3/5   I’m really torn with this one. I’ve been wanting to see it for ages, one of the final fictional films Orson Welle’s completed and a Shakespeare adaptation to boot. Technically it’s wonderful, the acting it perfect, Welles is fantastic in the lead as Falstaff. The look of the film, shots, editing, all what would expect from Welles and not hurting from a limited budget. Halfway through the film is one of the best medieval battles I’ve ever seen. The problem is I couldn’t understand it. It took me three sessions of watching, backing the film up to re-watch, I just couldn’t follow the plot. I don’t know if it’s the time of night I was watching or I’m just too dumb about Shakespeare but I couldn’t tell you anything about it plot wise. I’m giving it three stars since I think it’s better than I found it and I will give it a second chance some day.


169 06/10 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) 4/5   Time has been kind to this one. I remember how hated it was when it came out and looking at it now, I’m guessing it’s due to not being fun. Instead it’s a terrifying look at the last days of someone suffering from serial abuse from a parent and the film looks at it while asking “What if the evil that men do was an actual entity that could control us?” It’s more horror film than anything else and the only sour note I have is Chris Isaak is way over his head in the opening scenes.

170 06/11 MasterChef Canada Season 4 (2017) 2.5/5   More of the same. The nice guys finished first.

My Letterboxd profile is currently caught up and reviews appear their first now. I’ll probably shutter this blog. Be sure to follow there if you are interested in movies.

Movie a Day!: Twin Outrageous

I’m still going hard at updating Letterboxd with my old movie lists. I’m currently entering 2014. What I wasn’t expecting was being able to track my dads illness though it. We would typically watch a movie each evening, and I can tell based on the movies watched in a week when he was in hospital. He passed in 2014, and anyway, it’s kind of weirdly emotional reliving it through my obsession with tracking movies. I like how Letterboxd works, I like how it tracks. When I catch up to this blog I might just continue on Letterboxd and drop this. It’s not like I’m selling clicks or have illusions that this is meaningful to others.

I continue to watch Criterion’s, and have started Twin Peaks as well.


154 05/22 Twin Peaks (Pilot) (1990) 4/5   Yeah, I’m late re-watching Twin Peaks prior to the relaunch. Revisiting this one after all these years was a bit of an eye opener. I was always a fan, but I found that this hit more emotionally than it did before. The hysterics are still funny, but an awkward funny since they kind of ring true in how messy they are. Anyway, it sets up things perfectly and doesn’t feel dated at all. The look and tone is beautiful and Lynch just completely nails the world. Looking forward to the rest of it.


155 05/23 In The Realm Of The Senses (1976) 3.5/5   This one follows the story of a former prostitute that starts an affair with a fellow that gets more and more obsessed. An art-house hit and notorious for it’s explicit hardcore sex, it’s a pretty good film but despite the hand wringing in the essay included to distinguish this one from regular pornography, I don’t think it’s quite as cut and dry. Like the best hardcore films, this is a story that can only really be told with explicit sex, and I don’t think it should get a pass as a “serious film” just because it doesn’t titillate the viewer the way a similar film like The Devil In Miss Jones might. At any rate, it’s very good, if not feeling a little long, and it’s challenging of Japanese politics (I don’t think it’s been shown uncensored their to this day) is noteworthy.


156 05/25 Beauty And The Beast (1946) 4/5   Finally got around to watching the French classic and it did not disappoint. Superior to the Disney version in every way, it is completely enchanting and the special effects hold up wonderfully. A magical, dreamy experience, I really loved it.


157 05/26 Twin Peaks Season 1 (1990) 4/5   This is my 4th re-watch, and I’m impressed by how well it holds up. I remember when it first aired and it seemed so strange. Knowing where things end up and having seen Fire Walk With Me, watching it now, it’s still weird but surprisingly tragic too. The hysterics seem more real and ugly. It’s more hard to follow due to the massive cast and relationships compared to the Black Lodge weirdness and dancing dwarfs. Binge-watching this one is really the only way to view and appreciate it.


158 05/27 Repo Man (1984) 4/5   Seems weird that this one is part of my Criterion Collection binge that I’ve been doing this month, but here we are. It’s not held up as the the cult classic it used to be these days, but it still is pretty great. It’s punk heart and bonkers plot all work, and the soundtrack is to die for. One of the best of the 80’s and I’m surprised someone hasn’t tried to remake it.


159 05/27 That’s Outrageous (1983) 3.5/5   F.J. Lincoln directs this one in which Jamie Gillis is obsessed with getting two French sisters in bed. It’s a typical dopey plot for porn, but Lincoln treats it more dramatically than what is typically found, and it doesn’t hurt that much of it was shot in Paris. It all adds up to being better than average for the genre in the early 80’s.

That’s it.

Movie A Day!: Imitation of Jacks

Another mixed bag of a week. Sort of. I decided to watch some un-watched Criterion Collection discs this month, which lead me to watching all my David Lynch titles that are not in boxes in prep for re-watching Twin Peeks before the new series. Despite only two of those Lynch titles where from Criterion. Mix that up with some oldies and a cheeky Vinegar Syndrome title and it’s not a bad week at all.


136 05/07 The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Russ Meyer (1988) 3/5   A very well done biography on Meyer hosted by Jonathan Ross that manages to hit all points of his career included his start as a combat photographer in WWII. It also shows a clip of a possibly 8 hour documentary that Meyer was working on his own life that would of been amazing but was apparently never finished. A real shame. I would love to see a proper feature length doc on this man.


137 05/07 Imitation of Life (1959) 4/5   Lana Turner stars in this soapy melodrama from Douglas Sirk about a struggling, mature actress in New York who befriends a black housekeeper, Alice (played by Juanita Moore, and she is fantastic) and together they find success. Well, sort of, they stay in their roles based on race and that’s really what this movie is about. Alice has a real struggle with her rebellious, white passing daughter that is far more interesting than the trials that Turner has that leave her in a near constant state of helpless hysteria. You can clearly see a through-line from these style of Sirk pictures to John Waters since his characters are always in the same state hysteria. Anyway, this was pretty great since you don’t think of these sort of topics in 50’s films. Also, Sirk really is great at this stuff. He has a workmanlike sense of direction, but it’s pretty perfect.


138 05/07 Blue Velvet (1986) 4/5   After Dune floundered, David Lynch somehow got the chance to make a film closer to his sensibilities first explored in Eraserhead. It was interesting watching this one on the back of Imitation of Life since they have a pretty similar world of 1950’s like innocence, only Lynch’s small midwest town is a perverted nightmare. Jeffrey, played by Kyle MacLachlan, finds and ear in a field and becomes obsessed with solving it’s mysteries that leads him to a world of pain. Dennis Hopper is absolutely brilliant as the force of nature Frank, Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the damage nightclub singer Dorothy and Laura Dern manages to hold her own as the symbol of everything good, the girl next door. It’s aged very well, and still holds all it’s power to remain one of Lynch’s best films.


139 05/09 Wild At Heart (1990) 4/5   David Lynch does the Wizard of Oz as a bonkers Elvis inspired road movie with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern starring as Sailor and Lula who spend most of the film either ruminating or fucking. It has no business being as good as it is. Lynch went genuinely weird with this one and it completely works. Willem Dafoe is unforgettable in his small role and it’s fun to see legends Harry Dean Stanton and Diane Ladd go a bit bonkers. Crispen Glover, man, priceless. I’m too much of a Lynch fanboy to call this one my favourite, but it just might be.


140 05/11 Champion (1949) 4/5   Kirk Douglas takes the lead in this boxing noir about a guy and his handicap brother who is on the skids so Kirk gets into the fight game for the money. It starts off pretty standard, but soon Douglas’s mercilous ambition creeps through and the emotional bloodletting eclipses what’s in the ring. I don’t think I have seen Douglas more unlikable in a movie. This one was a real treat, and recommended.


141 05/11 Mulholland Dr. (2001) 3.5/5   David Lynch’s Neo-Noir about an actress caught up in a mystery is considered a classic, but I just can’t get into it. It’s gorgeous, everyone is on point, it’s delightfully “Lynch-ian” and I can’t knock a thing about it. I have just never warmed to it. Maybe I’ll “get it” the next time I watch it.


142 05/12 Funny Face (1957) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire star in this musical about a frumpy beatnik girl that gets whipped up into the world of high fashion. Hepburn is far too adorable to be frumpy, but she’s surprisingly good in this musical and manages to steal the film with her avant-garde beatnik ballet sequence in a cafe that’s supposed to be played for laughs. Astaire more than holds his own and it’s all looking spectacular under the direction of the legendary Stanley Donen, who also directed one of my all time favourite films, Singing in the Rain. It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to watch this one.


143 05/12 Her Wicked Ways (1983) 3/5 Jesie St. James stars as a gold digging heiress who has just inherited a billion dollars and Joanna Storm is the daughter trying to get the money back in this adult romp directed by The Lewis Brothers. It’s not the greatest adult film you’ll ever see but it’s just so well done compared to the regular fare in the period that it it ends up being pretty fun. Storm is a real scene-stealer and definitely helps to keep the film moving. The Peekarama DVD from Vinegar Syndrome is a real winner.


144 05/13 One-Eyed Jacks (1961) 4/5   The only film that Marlon Brando directed is this western. I think it’s just me but I think it’s weird that his only directed film is a western. Seems weird, right? Anyway, this is a typical vengeance tale with Brando’s Rio seeking out old partner Karl Malden’s “Dad” Longworth who ditched him during a bank robbery. It’s a gorgeous film and done with the naturalistic acting style Brando was known for and just completely works. There’s a feeling of distance and brooding that is tricky for films to nail, and the support cast featuring Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado are all perfect as well. Recommended.

One-Eyed Jacks also ended up being the last film shot in VistaVision so I managed to watch two VistaVision films over the weekend. You just never know what’s going to happen when you blindly watch stuff.  Isn’t the world marvellous?

Hold your loved ones tight.

Movie A Day!: Valley of the Sabrina

It’s that time of year! Spring has sprung, the air is warm, the sun is out, and I want to burn my life down and walk the earth! Is it just me getting this way every damned year? It makes no sense. The struggle never ends.

It did lead to one of the strongest weeks of films I’ve had in a while.


121 04/30 Valley of the Dolls (1967) 3/5   This one is considered a camp classic but it’s not all that campy and plays it pretty straight as a melodrama. I think it’s rep comes from the Russ Meyer follow up that has nothing to do with this picture. A trio of women, a singer, an actress and a secretary that ends up a model get a taste of fame and fortune, and all the pitfalls that come with it. The book was considered pretty scandalous, the movie is pretty chaste. My main interest was this was the other big picture aside from The Fearless Vampire Killers that Sharon Tate was in, and she is pretty great as the actress that never does break it big. The real star though is Patty Duke as the merciless pill’d up singer. She steals every scene that she’s in, balancing being adorable and miserable at the same time. All in all, it’s not a terrible affair if you can sit through a soapy melodrama.


122 04/30 Beneath the Valley of the Dolls (1970) 4/5   Nudie cutie maverick Russ Meyer signs on for this one, his first major studio picture. Meyer’s ditches everything to do with the original film, it starts with a warning that it is not a sequel, and turns it into the story of an all girl rock band trio seeking fame and fortune. The sex and drugs are cranked up to turn this one into an exploitation classic. Everyone in the picture is overacting, the plot (written with Roger Ebert!) is bonkers, the music is great, the editing is hyper, the pace is lightning, it’s all a glorious assault on the senses and makes you wish Meyer’s always had a big budget for his big titty films. Recommended.


123 05/01 Primary (1960) 3/5   An interesting documentary on the primary race between Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy, shot in the cinema verite style. It’s weird to watch now, Humphrey doing the old school stumping, walking the streets, handing out cards, giving speeches to small rooms while JFK only appears in large halls, packed tight with crowds, being swarmed as he leaves to his car. You can see the old world dying and being left to a media fuelled future..


124 05/01 Six Men Getting Sick (1966) 3.5/5
125 05/01 The Alphabet (1968) 4/5
126 05/01 The Grandmother (1970) 3/5
127 05/02 The Amputee (1974) 3.5/5
128 05/02 The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988) 3.5/5
A series of short films from David Lynch. I wont get into specifics, they are all pretty good with The Alphabet hinting at nightmares to come and The Cowboy and the Frenchman (featuring both Harry Dean Stanton and Jack Nance!)being one of the funnier things Lynch has done. They’re all worth checking out, ranging in length from 1 to 30 minutes.


129 05/03 Adventures On The New Frontier (1960) 3.5/5   A follow up to the documentary Primary spends a day with JFK in the oval office. It’s another fly on the wall affair with little comment on the action and it’s actually fascinating to watch. Part of that is due to modern times and trying to imagine current President Trump in oval office, doing what JFK is. Another interesting fact about these is both D.A. Pennebaker and the Maysles Brothers worked on these films and it really shows the form that Pennebaker would use on his definitive documentary on Bob Dylan Don’t Look Back.


130 05/03 Eraserhead (1977) 5/5   David Lynch’s debut feature still holds all of it’s power. A true masterpiece, I find it impossible to watch without feeling like a hand is on my heart, slowly squeezing it. The Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a must own with the film looking gorgeous, all the extras from the DVD ported over, and featuring most of the short films I watched earlier this week.


131 05/04 Crisis (1963) 4/5
132 05/04 Faces of November (1964) 3/5
The first of the final two documentaries in the Drew Associates set on JFK finds Jack and Robert Kennedy dealing with a crisis. The crisis is that Alabama Governor George Wallace is going to physically black the doors on campus so that the first two black students will be unable to register. It’s pretty incredible to witness this today. That this was ever a thing is simply gross, but too see just how badly wrong on the side of history Wallace was, and how convinced he was that it was his moral obligation to both blacks and whites to keep them separate is fascinating and infuriating since it’s still a thing 60 fucking years later.

Faces of November is a silent montage of the mourners visiting JFK at rest after the assassination. It’s sombre to say the least.

It’s impossible to watch this set and not realize just how completely fallen into the shit we are as far as politics goes. I’m not just talking about the United States. I give the set a 4.5/5, it’s pretty near a must see.


133 05/04 Eraserhead Stories (2001) 4/5   This is a feature length doc on the making of the film that is little more than David Lynch telling stories into a microphone with some clips and pictures being shown as appropriate. It has no right being as entertaining as it is, and it’s all due to Lynch himself. The man is just so excited and in love with movies, he’s irresistible to watch. I wish I was as full of wonder about mundane things like inky lights and pie as this man.


134 05/05 Blood Simple (1984) 4/5   The Coen brothers debut with a classic neo noir about Texas infidelity. It’s remarkably accomplished and manages to balance tension and be hilarious at the same time since everyone in the picture comes off as incredibly stupid as opposed to criminal masterminds playing each other. Francis McDormand and M. Emmet Walsh are both fantastic in this and the final shots always make me laugh out loud. Recommended.


135 05/06 Sabrina (1954) 4/5   Audrey Hepburn stars in this one as a chauffeur’s daughter who’s torn between wealthy brothers William Holden and Humphrey Bogart. Hepburn is fantastic and adorable in the lead but the real winner here is Billy Wilder’s clever script and direction that holds a lot of truths that remain relevant today.

See? Not a bad week at all, eh?

This is a gentle reminder that I continue to update the Letterboxd site with my horrid past. Just finished my 2008 Scary Movie Challenge list which can be found here.  If anyone reads this has also set up a letterboxd, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I will be sure to follow. Not to be self serving and I know it’s hard to tell, but I actually spend a bit of time on this. Any sharing and whatnot is appreciated, but not expected.

That’s it, remember to love yourselves.