Movie A Day!: 2000 Mountain Moonshine Slaves!

Another week of existing! This one is a short post. All the Oscar noms I planned to watch got watched last blog and this week saw me catching up on other things. The week was also a real pain in the ass. Why does everything have to seem so hard?

The day of this post sees the passing of Bill Paxton. One of those actors who was great in everything he did. Probably best known as James Cammeron’s scene stealing dependable  in Aliens and Titanic,  I recommend checking out his directorial debut Frailty, as well as A Simple Plan and Near Dark as they are my favourites. And Fish Heads, of course. I already miss him.

This adds up to this one being short and sleazy. Blame Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video. At least one of the films is a bonafide masterpiece.


053 02/19 The Love Slaves (1976) 3/5   A drug dealing syndicate is snatching up women to hypnotize into love slave assassins and detective John Leslie is on the case. Not a bad hardcore feature from Bob Chinn, it never really fully embraces its sleaziness and doesn’t convince as a drama so it ends up a little flat compared to others in the genre.


054 02/20 Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) 4.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis follows up Blood Feast with his masterpiece, Two Thousand Maniacs! A group of Yankees get roped into the centennial celebrations of the southern town Pleasant Valley. It’s a rip on Brigadoon of all things, with the southerners wanting vengeance for Northern atrocities committed during the Civil War. It’s a gleeful mess of a film, with the infamous “Barrel Roll” scene being the height of ridiculous for any splatter film in the genre. An absolute must see.


055 02/22 Moonshine Mountain (1964) 2/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis does a hicksploitation with this one. A country singer travels to the mountains to get a feel for “real folk music”, gets all twisted up in moonshining shenanigans. It’s an absolute mess of a film that’s tonally flat out does not work. The southerners are all hick stereotypes and appear to be played for laughs. One of the girls characteristics is being sexually abused to the point that she’s practically mute, which is NOT funny, but not really depicted seriously either (despite a resolve near the end). Then there’s the bit in the last 3rd where shit is going down with the crooked sheriff that features a federal agent getting stomped to death and his body dumped in a still that is better fit for Two Thousand Maniacs since there is zero humour about it and despite editing is brutal to watch. None of it works with the usual Lewis knack of bad takes and stiff performances. With no gore or sleaze to heighten it, it ends up as a real patience tester of a failed comedy. If it’s supposed to be a comedy, Lewis says in the extras that he was asked to make a rip-off of Thunder Road, the moonshine hit with Robert Mitchum. This does not resemble that film at all.

That’s it for this week. I don’t have much to say. Last night a friend I haven’t seen in years do to a falling out contacted me out of the blue in separate straights wanting to borrow money. I don’t have it to give him. I don’t owe him anything, but it leaves a mixed, bad feeling of guilt and other things.

The world gets exhausting.

Movie A Day!: Blood Face

After a week of sunny skies and spring temperatures, today finds the sky back to the gloomy grey that is Edmonton in the winter. Perfect weather for hermit-ting up with movies and other things to distract from the political climate.

This post is a real mess theme wise. Friends who followed my Snapchat during the horror movie challenge will know that one of the greatest boxsets of all time arrived on my door step near the end, SHOCK AND GORE: THE FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS. After staring at it for months and frankly being intimidated by it, I finally broke down and cracked that sucker open. My plan was to watch one disc a week. Then the February pack from Vinegar Syndrome showed up three weeks early. And I’m still watching the Oscar best picture nominations. So your stuck with classy films, gore films from one of the worst directors of all times, and porno from one of the hardcore masters who literally helped create the porn industry.

This blog may be a psychiatric profile of a cry for help.


042 02/12 59th Annual Grammy Awards (2017) 3/5   I don’t know why I watch these but I always find a reason to. Ends up this year was pretty good. Katy Perry debuted a new song that’s actually kind of a clever protest, Lady Gaga performed metal with Metallica (my excuse to watch this years awards, her halftime show at the Superbowl was amazing) and aside from a dead mic on Hetfield, she rocked. Lady Gaga may be the the legendary performer of this generation. She can sing anything and do so convincingly. The real highlight though was oldie rappers A Tribe Called Quest who performed as an assault unit, attacking Trump (President Agent Orange, as dubbed by guest Busta Rhymes) and it was exhilarating. Oh, and Beyonce did a really artistic performance piece on black womanhood. I think. So yeah, despite all this fun, it still managed to feel like it would never end.


043 02/12 Blood Feast (1963) 4/5   Exploitation legends Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman invented the splatter genre with this one. The effects are primitive at best, the acting not so great and while people always say Ed Wood Jr. was the worst director of all time, I think Lewis fits the crown better since there is a unenthusiastic workman like feel to Lewis compared to the glee in a Wood Jr. picture. That said, it’s an irresistible picture. I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve watched it, but I love it more each time. People joke about the effects, but they really aren’t that bad compared to the regular make-up. The grey hair on younger actors looks like they rubbed a bar of soap on their heads. That’s far more unforgivable than creating a more than decent tongue being yanked out of a girls head effect. I like to think so anyway. This one is a must see (along with the other films in the “Blood Trilogy”, I’ll get to those later) for anyone with an interest in horror history.

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044 02/13 Scum of the Earth (1963) 3.5/5   1963 was a pretty big year for Herschell Gordon Lewis. Not only did he invent the gore film, he was one of the first to put out a film that would be known as “Roughies”. Roughies were the horrible children of the “Nudie Cuties”, instead of wholesome nudist camps full of nubile innocents, roughies were more urban and had pervos creeping on and corrupting women. This one was about a porno photography outfit that hoodwinks High School girls into being models before getting them to shoot nude and then blackmailing them to do hardcore. It’s very innocent despite that description since actual porno wouldn’t be shot for nearly a decade and the brief nudity in the picture is actually sort of tasteful with the real rough stuff happening off camera. Shot in black and white it actually looks classier than it is, and ends up being one of Lewis’s more accomplished pictures. Sexploitation would keep on pushing after this one, Lewis would mostly drift into gore (which based on his final film, the hardcore Black Love, is a very good thing…). Well worth checking out as it doesn’t have some of the pacing issues Lewis’s films tend to have.


045 02/14 Lion (2016) 3.5   A young Indian boy gets lost and ends up adopted by Nicole Kidman’s terrible haircut that is a perfect representation of Australia in this Oscar pick. I quite enjoyed this one in that it sticks with telling the kids true story without getting too over the top with the melodramatics (I think) and without the “Forrest Gump-Ness” of Slumdog Millionaire. Don’t think it was best of the year stuff though.


046 02/14 Carving Magic (1959) 4/5   This one is an industrial short about a guy hosting a dinner party and wows his dickhead friend with his turkey carving prowess. Why would I watch a carving instructional film? It’s on the Blood Feast blu-ray as an extra! It features Blood Feast star William Kerwin as the guy who learns how to carve, but more interesting is that Harvey Korman plays the dickhead friend, this being his first film role. I love Harvey Korman! Go watch Blazing Saddles again and see what I mean! This one was also legit educational, I think I might be able to carve a turkey properly now!


047 02/15 Moonlight (2016) 4/5   This one is about a kid growing up and navigating himself through Black Miami culture. I really liked this one in that it’s the kind of film that is usually made about white people in that it didn’t have any black genre trappings despite dealing with lower income/gang/drug culture. Dead solid performances that ring true in that they are frustrating to watch. There’s no hand holding the audience. I wouldn’t mind if this one won.


048 02/15 Slaughterhouse (1987) 3/5   1987 seems a bit late to try to pull a rip on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but when it’s as fun as this one, why not give it a go? A bunch of cool kids decide to hold a party in a foreclosed slaughterhouse. Unbeknownst to them, the owner and his deranged son (who talks in pig-squeals) have decided to kill the people who fucked him over business wise. It’s all an excuse for some typical 80’s slasher mayhem and it delivers which is all you can ask.


049 02/17 Arrival (2016) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. I had heard it compared to Contact (another one I really enjoyed) but Arrival really is it’s own thing. Aliens have come down and language specialist Amy Adams has to figure out how to communicate with them. It leads to a thoughtful Sci-Fi that is actually pretty rare in these days of action blockbusters. Good stuff, I wouldn’t mind if it won Best Picture.

050 02/17 Parochial Passion Princess (1975) 2.5/5  Depraved hardcore short from Alex deRenzy about a teen prostitute. No one does sleaze like deRenzy, you have to give him credit.


051 02/18 La La Land (2016) 4/5   Hollywood finally does a traditional musical. That’s how this one is billed. The opening number had me cringing since it was so modern Broadway in style, thankfully the film settles down and ends up being really good, and yes, pretty traditional. I don’t think it works quite as well as it wants to- it never reaches the insane dancing fever pitch of the classics- but it’s welcome all the same.


052 02/18 Babyface (1977) 4/5   Feature length film by Alex deRenzy about a guy who gets shanghaied into working in a brothel owned by women for women clients. One of the sleaziest films I’ve seen, it practically is checking off a list of triggers for things deemed politically incorrect and will make you feel squeamish watching it. It’s also done with so much showmanship and glee that it’s hard to be mad about it. deRenzy was a master at this stuff and this one was one is no exception.

So which one should win best picture? I honestly don’t know. None of them wowed me. None of them are bad films, more a case of none of them feeling particularity exceptional or memorable. The only one that really feels like a broken thumb is Hacksaw Ridge, and that’s due to the first half being so schmaltzy. The second half in the war is brilliantly over the top. If I had to pick one I’d go with Moonlight since it’s the only one that didn’t have something in it that made question the filmmakers choice, with Arrival, La La Land and Manchester By The Sea following. Yet despite that, I think I enjoyed Hidden Figures best but found the film technically problematic. It looks like this years Oscars will be mostly blah for me since I don’t have a horse in the race that I really  want to see win. It’s not the first time, and wont be the last.

Which is okay, I got more terrible movies and Gilmore Girls to keep me company.

Until next time.

Movie A Day! 041-45: Deceptive Practice

A real mixed bag in this post. Regional sleaze, bikers, magic, and two very different noirs. Movies are fun guys!


041 02-01 Murder on the Emerald Sea (1973) 3/5
Vinegar Syndrome do it again, digging out a previously thought lost film, this time presented on an extremely limited edition DVD. Someone is killing the winners of the “Artists & Models” ball on the fancy cruise ship Emerald Seas, so a detective gets rooked into going undercover in drag to solve the mystery. This one might be one of the campiest films I’ve seen in a long time, and while it’s certainly cheap and goofy, it was pretty funny. Plus they somehow got Henny “Take my wife, please!” Youngman and Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller to cameo in it. Maybe if you’re lucky, VS will stream it on there streaming application when it goes live, see last blog for details.


042 02-02 Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (2012) 4/5
Ricky Jay is arguably the best card magician living today. Most will probably recognize him from his acting career in such films as BOOGIE NIGHTS and the TV series DEADWOOD. I’m a huge fan, and as such I really enjoyed this documentary. It follows his path and career in magic. He’s cagey about personal details, says he left his family when he was seventeen but never explains the details. Instead he goes into the lives and experiences with the magicians he learned from. Lots of great clips, card tricks that will melt your brain in ways that flashy magicians like David Copperfield and even my beloved Penn & Teller never do. So it gets a recommend from me both as a look at Ricky Jay, and as a history of card magic.


043 02-05 The Stranger (1946) 4/5
Orson Welles directs this one, playing a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small American town, with with war crimes special agent Edward G. Robinson hot on his heels. This one is a top notch noir and Welles’ direction is stunning. Even basic set-ups are dazzling in composition. Add in a dead on cast (Loretta Young more than holds her own as Welles’ unknowing wife) and a tight script and this is one hell of a film. The only problem with it is that it slipped into public domain, so it’s tricky to find a copy that does the cinematography justice. The version I watched was shit transfer wise, but it’s such a damned fine film that you can look past it. I’ll have to track down a better copy.


044 02-06 Scarlet Street (1945) 4/5
Edward G Robinson is at his meekest in this noir directed by the great Fritz Lang. He plays a schlubby, lovesick clerk who runs into a girl one night, and ends up getting manipulated in typical Femme Fatale fashion. Lang pulls no punched, the film is desperate from the start and the fall seems never ending. One of the more emotionally brutal noirs you’ll see.


045 02-07 Angels From Hell (1968) 3/5
Pretty much a lost genre now, the biker picture. This one was quite fun though. A guy comes back to town, gets his bike gang back together and start hell raising all over town. It’s funny that they try to portray the gang sympathetically as people who just want to their own thing without hassle from society, man, a be free! The problem is, they’re a bunch of assholes. so you never really feel sorry for the guy as he tries to keep his gang together and what not. Still fun though.

It was interesting watching these. Edward G. Robinson was considered a leading man. I couldn’t imagine someone looking like he does being a leading man these days. Times sure have changed, we’re much more superficial right? I think the closest actor we have to him would be Paul Giamatti, who is about hundred times better looking, but rarely gets leading parts despite being amazing in everything he does.

A friendly reminder, it would be cool if you could kick some bucks to the Vinegar Syndrome crowdfunder I talked about last time since they are in their final week.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vinegarsyndrome-tv-instant-digital-exploitation/

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.

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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!

 

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Movie A Day! : 194-203 “Catching Up”

Right, time to get caught up with the movies! Despite the mood of the past couple weeks, I’ve kept up the movie watching. I’ll keep this introduction short since we have 10 titles to get through. Let’s do it!

194 08-07 Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966) 3.5/5
Another Zatoichi film, another amazing time. This one finds Zatoichi once again trying to fulfill a dying mans wish and getting mixed up with Yakuza intrigue. This one was a little different in that on his travels he meets a blind monk that acts as his conscience and makes Zatoichi question his use of the sword. It helps add yet another nuance to the character, and draws out even more tension. It’s hard to believe, but Katsu continues to get even better as the lead character, becoming both badass and terrifying in the final moments of this one. So another recommend.

195 08-09 Rushmore (1998) 4.5/5
Revisited this one. I think this is my third viewing, and I continue to like it more each time. You would think that Wes Anderson’s style would make for a cold film, but the humanity and emotion on display in this is pretty much perfect, with performances to match. Has Bill Murray ever been better?

196 08-09 Hot Lunch (1978) 2/5
This is the second half of the double feature PEEKARAMA disc that featured BABY ROSEMARY. It’s by the same director, and is an attempt to be a goofy comedy that doesn’t really work as a comedy or a porno. Jon Martin does what he can as the lead, in a part that’s kind of like a reverse on the Candide model that is so common in this era of Porno Chic. He plays a bit of a doof who gets mixed up in all sorts of carnal situations. It just never works well enough to elevate it over the usual sex films.

197 08-10 Silicone Valley Season 1 (2014) 4/5
A new TV series by Mike Judge is always something I’ll check out. It’s only one season in, but I would say this might be his strongest work. He’s perfectly nailing start-up culture while also having strong characters that you end up caring about. It helps that a couple of my favourite stand-up comedians are doing some strong acting as well. The eight episode season ended perfectly with an epic dick joke. Can’t wait for season 2.

198 08-10 Patterns (1955) 3.5/5
Written by Rod Serling, and performed live on TV via the “Kraft Theater” program, this is a tough look at the corporate world. Basic plot is that of a young executive brought in solely to replace an aging vice president. Pitch perfect performances, including a masterful one by Orson Welles player Everett Sloan and a no holds barred look at American greed make this one a hell of a treat.

199 08-11 The Association (1975) 4/5
This is easily the sleaziest Kung-Fu film from the seventies I’ve seen. Basic plot is, a female detective is executed after killing a doctor who rape/murdered a patients wife when the patient could no longer pay for treatment. The executed detective’s squad go on the hunt to uncover the plot behind the murder, and holy hell is it sleazy! A female cult is giving illegal abortions (with a whole topless dancing ritual) that is accidentally murdering girls in a secret prostitution ring that is backed by high members of the government. With near constant nudity and a lead that looks like Bruce Lee with a perm kicking the shit out of everyone, this one was constantly entertaining and I’m guessing the best film in the 4-pack I bought for $10.

200 08-15 The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) 4/5
After Rushmore I decided to re-watch all the Anderson films I have since I’ve been slowly upgrading them to Blu-Ray via the Criterion Collection. This is the first of his to completely lock in the near dollhouse like style that he is known for. It’s starts off a little cold, but once you get use to the cast of characters, you get in deep.

201 08-15 The Erotic Adventures of Candy (1978) 2.5/5
As you can guess, this is yet another take on the Candide films! Hooray! This one follows college girl Candy on her quest to learn about sex and features her getting taken advantage of by every guy in sight. It’s not as good as the PRETTY PEACHES films I reviewed previously, mainly due to tone. It’s pretty straightforward stuff with the main draw being the cast of superstars like John Holmes. It’s not enough to keep the film interesting though.

202 08-16 Elvis : Aloha From Hawaii (1973) 4/5
Seeing as it was the anniversary of Elvis’s death this weekend, we gave this one a view. I’ve seen it dozens of times. It’s not Elvis’s greatest performance, but his last great one. He whipped himself into shape for this, which was broadcast via satellite all over the world, a truly epic event. He looks and sounds great. Seeing how the mention of his name these days is basically a punchline, it’s easy to forget how devastatingly good he was at interpreting a song. It’s all on display here, and well worth a look.

203 08-16 The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) 3/5
This one is a remake of a film noir from the forties that I watched last year (and gave 4 out of 5). Featuring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in the lead roles of lovers with murderous intentions, it captures the grime and tone of the era it depicts, it just never fully works. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just never held my interest like the original did. It also seems to go on too long. It’s from 1981, but it feels like a seventies auteur film (which makes sense seeing as it was directed by Bob Rafelson, who directed Nicholson in FIVE EASY PIECES, a superior film) and it’s energy peters out will before it ends. So watch the original (with the stunning Lana Turner).

Not a bad week of movie watching, with some pretty great titles and a couple of fun revisits! I hit the two hundred film mark by accidentally re-watching THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS which might mark the first time I’ve hit a milestone type number with a good movie. Keep your eye’s peeled for a second post later this week to catch us right up!

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Movie A Day! : 168-173 – “My life is a performance”

I’m at the part of staycation where I’m losing track of days. This is not a complaint. Another week to go, and I already know I’m not going to accomplish all that I planned. This isn’t a complaint either. At any rate, with July 31st hitting mid next week, I figured I better get a blog in so as not to have a huge wrap up one to do next week. Plus it’s rainy as I write this, so with music playing, it’s pretty relaxing.

This past week also marked a month since dad passed away, and it’s still weird to deal with. I spent the day at the zoo looking at critters. Which is a nice way to spend the day, but I felt disconnected and was probably not as fun to be with as I like to think/imagine I typically am. This coming week we have a memorial to go to at the hospital he died in. I have mixed feeling about this, but will be going in support of mum. How many goodbyes is too many? This will feel like the fourth.

Anyway, on to the movies!

168 07-21 Kamikaze Hearts (1986) 3.5/5

This one is a love story between Sharon Mitchell and Tigr. Both are porn performers and at the time this was filmed, were in a relationship, using their real names. So this one plays like a documentary, though they claim it was planned out. It makes it very hard to see where the line falls between reality and performance, which makes sense since it is based around porn where the reality of sex is performed. It makes for a very human, and largely uncomfortable lesbian romance that is well worth a watch.

169 07-21 Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) 4/5
This one is an early film from director Don Siegel who is probably best known these days for DIRTY HARRY and other Clint Eastwood films. This one is a pretty typical prison preachy about the horrors of prison. The draw though is Siegel keeps it lean and mean, with character actors at front instead of stars and shooting a bunch of it on location at Folsom prison, using inmates as extras. It helps to keep the tension up as well as the pacing brisk. Well worth a watch.

170 07-22 Escape Plan (2013) 2.5/5
Then you have this one. Featuring Sylvester Stallone as a prison expert wrongfully imprisoned in a jail designed to be unbreakable, based on his own book on how to make an unbreakable prison. High concept huh? Anyway, Stallone growls his way through this one as the genius expert that despite being freakishly huge due to human growth hormones can still manage to squeeze through tight spots to break out of prison. It’s all pretty goofy, but with a surprise named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold manages to put in a hell of a performance in this one as a charming prisoner who helps Stallone. It was surprising to say the least when the last thing you would expect from a Stallone/Schwarzenegger team up is a good performance.

171 07-23 The Devil’s 8 (1969) 3/5
This one appears to be a rip-off of THE DIRTY DOZEN. A group of seven men (the federal agent leader makes up the eight, in case you though I couldn’t count), all serving long term prison sentences, are freed by the feds to take on a gang of moonshiners. Seems pretty extreme, having to use prisoners to take on moonshiners, the FBI really couldn’t handle that one themselves? It’s pretty dopey, but also a bit of fun since it’s an American International Drive-In B-Movie. I was quite surprised to see John “Apocalypse Now” Milius sharing a writing credit on this thing, but it explains the uber-macho dialogue. The soundtrack that constantly plays the main theme is ridiculous, as is the version with some of the dopiest lyrics ever to grace one of these pictures that plays over the final credits. So there it is, lot’s of fun to be had with this one, just don’t expect and adventure war classic like THE DIRTY DOZEN.

172 07-23 Parker (2013) 2.5/5

This one stars my boyfriend Jason Statham as a thief who gets betrayed on a job and proceeds to beat the living shit out of everyone involved. So it’s pretty much every Jason Statham movie. It has a strong cast featuring Nick Nolte (who has apparently lost the ability of speech and has to use growling tones to form words, making Stallone sound like Olivier in comparison) and Michael Chiklis who you will remember was “The Thing” in those shitty FANTASTIC FOUR movies from a few years back. The exception to the great cast is Jennifer Lopez, who continues to be just awful to watch in movies. Lopez, and the character she plays, is the only problem with the film, she only exists to create trouble for Statham, trouble that the main plot and subject does not need in anyway. If you cut her and her subplot out, and I think you could do it rather simply, the entire film would be better. It’s obvious that the only reason she’s in here is because some studio idiot thought they needed her to bring women to the theaters. In fact, I’m knocking this one down half a point from 3 stars since I get annoyed just thinking about it.

173 07-23 Deep Tango (1974) 2/5
This one is a hardcore porno comedy that just never works. I’m guessing it’s trying to be irreverent like I think DEEP THROAT is. I’ve still not seen DEEP THROAT so I can’t be sure. Anyway, it makes no sense plot wise, (it’s kind of a play on LAST TANGO IN PARIS with two people meeting up in an apartment for sex) and then in the last quarter it gets all 1970’s auteur dark that has you wondering WTF? I’m guessing the main draw for Vinegar Syndrome tackling it for release is it’s scarcity as well as being notable as being legendary actress Annette Haven’s second feature film credit. Haven is easily the best part of the film, though the main actor Keith Henderson is pretty good too (this appears to be his only film according to IMDB), and quite likable compared to most of the sleaze ball guys from the era. Still, it never really works as a comedy or a porn, just as an oddity.

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