Movie A Day!: Decline of Baby Strange

The heatwave has locked in and I’m coming down with a summer cold. Cursed! Here’s what I watched last week. Nearly done with the documentary/bio-pics and I had a rare outing to a first run movie!!


201 07/03 Sea Dog’s Tale (1926) 3/5 Billy Bevan takes the lead in this one as a Englishman who gets hoodwinked to a island to marry a native girl. It’s got some fun bits if you can get past the racial stereotypes and black face.

202 07/03 Hoboken To Hollywood (1926) 3.5/5 Billy Bevan’s gets has to pack up the family and move cross country to LA on a job transfer and gets into all types of shenanigans. Lots of good bits, this one works really well and sees Billy play a bit of a prick that separates him from most of the other comedians of the time.


203 07/03 The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) 4/5   Thanks to Shout Factory I was finally able to get my mits on this one. Since it was impossible to find in my neck of the woods. It was worth the wait. A fascinating look at the LA punk scene and featuring a pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag and The Germs which features future Foo Fighter Pat Smear. Some bands come off more sincere than others but almost all of them are kids so it’s hard to tell really. At any rate, it’s a crucial document.


204 07/03 The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (1988) 4/5   This one is the polar opposite of the first one. All the punk attitude is gone and everything is sex, drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll. The old guard like Aerosmith, Lemmy, and Alice Cooper seem to shoot pretty straight while the new bands like Faster Pussycat come off as complete imbeciles. When this one came it, it was pretty hot stuff as I was into the scene. Watching it now, it’s hilariously bone-headed and the sincere explanations for the glam make up is cringe-worthy. Another must see documentary.


205 07/04 Baby Driver (2017) 4/5   The best of the (I think) two action musicals I have seen.  It completely delivers on the premise of a wheel-man fueled by tunes. Everyone in it is pitch perfect and despite a rather contrived ending the film is such a joy I can forgive it. Edgar Wright just simply knows how to make great movies and this one is no different.


206 07/05 The Great McGinty (1940) 3.5/5   A hobo gets swept up into politics thanks to a gangster’s scheme to throw city and state bucks into real estate. SOUND FAMILIAR?!?!? This one from Preston Sturges has some biting commentary on politics and great performances but didn’t reach the heights of his other work for me.


207 07/06 The Lost Weekend (1945) 3.5/5   Billy Wilder takes a hard look at alcoholism in this one with Ray Milland starring as a writer whose life is ruined by the booze. It plays like a film noir except drink is the dame that brings ruin to the main character. It’s good, but even at the worst depths Milland seems to mostly have a handle on things due to his natural charm, despite going all out.


208 07/07 Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’ (2013) 4/5   A fantastic documentary on Hendrix that covers all the bases as well as showing tons of clips of him performing. Not much else to say, if you’re interested in Hendrix, this is the one for you.


209 07/07 The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998) 4/5   Spheeris is back, 10 years after Part II to reexamine the LA music scene but instead delves into the lives of the Gutterpunks, homeless punk rock kids that basically escaped their abusive homes. It might be the best film of the series. It never judges or tries to manipulate you, it simply depicts their lives and lets them speak for themselves. This series of films is essential stuff.


210 07/08 Doctor Strange (2016) 3/5   Finally got around to watching this one and it’s simply okay. These Marvel films have all settled into their groove so there’s not much to say. Doctor Strange is a prick, gets humbled, finds his true power and quips the whole time like every other Marvel superhero. Some great visuals that were frankly used better in Inception, and some okay fight scenes. Nothing else to say.


211 07/09 Hit So Hard (2011) 4/5   A really great documentary about Hole drummer Patty Schemel who struggled with addiction. They get everyone from the band, including Courtney Love, back to tell her story, and Patty taped everything so there’s tons of great footage of Hole on the road and performing back in the 90’s. Add in a mini-history/commentary on other women drummers through history and it all adds up to being great.

 

When the worst film you have seen is Doctor Strange, it’s not a bad week.

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Movie A Day! 071-075: All That Jazz

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


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


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


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


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


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

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