Movie A Day!: The Red, Mad, Mad World

I’m a day late posting this thing this week. Sorry film fans, it’s a long weekend up here in the Great White North and it ends up that there is a never ending amount of plants and crap that need to be dug up, dug in, and replaced. I like the sun and outdoors, I’m not great at bending over so this weekend has been more chore than joy.  Here’s all the movies I watched up to this very moment since I finished the last one this morning.


145 05/15 The Red House (1947) 3.5/5   Edward G. Robinson stars in this one as the patriarch of an out of the way farm who absolutely does not want you mucking about in his woods and going near the Red House. The whole film is about what terrors may lie in those woods, and aside from some pacing issues it manages to be pretty tense stuff that fills you with a sense of doom and dread. Part country noir, part horror film, it’s certainly worth a look.


146 05/16 The Night Porter (1974) 3/5   I’ve been hearing a lot about this one for ages so it was nice to finally give it a look. Dirk Bogarde is The Night Porter, working in a hotel when he recognizes customer Charlotte Rampling as the women from the concentration camp he was abusing while working there during the war. It’s interesting and well done, but at the end of the day it’s really just an arty, serious take on “Love Camp 7” and all the other Naziploitation that was out at the time, just elevated with some fine direction from Liliana Cavani and the performances. It’s well done if not a little slow.


147 05/18 Monkey Kingdom (2015) 4/5   Disneynature hits it out of the park again with this one following a pack of macaque monkeys, centring on “Mya” and her journey from the lower class life. I knew monkeys had Alpha Males that ran the pack, but I had no idea it was a proper class system that dictated who could eat what. It was pretty bonkers and made the film even more interesting than it would of been since Monkeys are hilarious. Oh, and Tina Fey does a great job with the narration too.


148 05/19 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 4.5/5   The Coen brothers take on Homer’s Odyssey and it couldn’t be better. Setting it during the great depression and filling it with folk music is a stroke of genius. George Clooney is perfect in the lead, the comedy rings true and the film flies by. I love this movie and it’s soundtrack. Highly recommended.


149 05/20 Walk The Line (2005) 4/5   Bio-pic on the life of Johnny Cash tracks his story from childhood to his success with the “Live At Folsom Prison” album, but it’s really the love story of Johnny and June Carter falling in love. Joaquin Phoenix does as great job as Cash, and Reese Witherspoon is a whirlwind as June. They also sing the songs and are flat out great despite nobody being able to truly mimic Cash’s voice. Get past that and this one is a real winner.


150 05/20 Pussycat Ranch (1971) 2.5/5   Star power can’t elevate this one above being pretty standard adult fare for the era. Billy the Kid needs a hideout and Mama needs cash for the ranch so they team up and turn it into a brothel. It’s played for laughs, and it mostly works, it’s just not that interesting.

151 05/21 Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) 3.5/5   I’ve been avoiding this one. The poster art and pictures of Audrey Hepburn and that stupid long cigarette holder bugged me, and I knew Mickey Rooney portrayed a horrible Asian stereotype. Ends up that this one was a pretty enjoyable romantic comedy. Hepburn and George Peppard are enjoyable as the leads and the only issue I had is it felt a little long. That said, there is no possible excuse for Rooney. That this kind of portrayal of a Japanese man was once considered even remotely acceptable is horrendous.


152 05/21 Here Comes The Bride (1978) 2/5   The second feature on the Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama disc is also by John Christopher and is even more unexceptional than Pussycat Ranch. This one finds a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary and the wife remembering all the guys she was with while pretending to be a virgin to her husband. It’s draggy and if not for legendary star Samantha Fox it wouldn’t have gotten even 2 stars.


153 05/22 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Extended Edition) (1963) 4/5   First time watching the roadshow version and I enjoyed the film even more. Most of the footage that was cut from the Roadshow to the general release is lost, so the fact that they were able to restore it to this level is remarkable. That said, it is a bit of a mess with photo’s and subtitles subbing in for some of the lost footage. I didn’t find it as distracting as I expected to find it and on a whole it’s really improved the flow of the movie. It’s truly “kitchen sink” film, completely jam packed with jokes and cameos, it’s well worth checking out regardless of the version you can get your hands on.

 

There it is.

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Movie A Day! : 256-257 – The End of September!

Here we are, a couple of days late but it’s time to wrap up September! I only got in two films since last blog, but they were pretty great. Let’s have a gander!

256 09-28 Gravity (2013) 3.5/5
The simplest way to describe the plot is to say it’s about astronauts trapped in space but you would be really doing a disservice to the film describing it so plainly. That said, to get into all the things going on in the film, some subtly and others more in your face, would spoil it. So let’s just say that it’s one of those rare special effects heavy films that not only looks impressive, but has great characterization and performances to go with it. Like the best sci-fi, it’s not really about science fiction but about humanity. Great stuff and one that would absolutely benefit from being seen on the largest screen possible.

257 09-30 Zatoichi and the Fugitives (1968) 4/5

This one features Zatoichi running foul of a band of fugitives that are hiding out at a Yakuza boss’ compound. So it sounds like all the other Zatoichi films, but god damn was this one good! This is the eighteenth film in the series, and Katsu continues to keep getting better as Zatoichi. This one manages to move at a good pace both action and suspense wise, and is pretty much in flat out spaghetti western mode. This set continues to be one of the best I’ve bought.

See? Two really good movies! I really classed this blog up after that horrid Ed Wood Jr. porn film last time. Let’s look at my totals:

28 Watched, 24 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

Not bad. I expected a dip since I started watching all that Doctor Who and Star Trek. I’m definitely down from September 2013:

39 Films, 33 First Timers, 0 Theater 

So down eleven films for the month, and just over a hundred movies total. I was at 357 titles at the end of September 2013. how could my eyes stand it? I got some catching up to do!

Best film of the month, I’m going to go with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It might of been low expectations, but it hit all the buttons for me. Runners up will be HER and the MS .45 revisit.

Worst film, obviously THE PURGE. I’m still getting mad thinking about that piece of shit! Give me a million THE UNDERGRADUATES to watch over another PURGE!

Which brings us to October. Friends might recall that I participate in something called the “Scary Movie Challenge” in which one tries to watch as many scary movies as they can in the month of October. I’m participating in it again this year, so expect lots of posts since I tend to do a blog either by the week or when I get to around ten films. Hope you like scary movies! There might be some non-horror stuff to, so don’t be too scared.

Please do share this with any movie loving friends, and comments are always welcome and appreciated. Feel free to chirp in with any scary movie faves you may have!

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Movie A Day! : 248-255 “Sister!”

Right, lot’s of things going on in the ol’ bunker this week. So much that it’s a bit of a jam. Typically I post this MOVIE A DAY! blog on Monday, and I have started posting STAR WHO on Wednesday. Well Wednesday is the first day of October, which means I should post a month end wrap up of the Movie A Day blog on Wednesday.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!! I can’t post two blogs in one day! Also, every October I participate in a “Scary Movie Challenge” in which I aim to watch as many horror type films as I can. So count this as a warning that there is going to be a bunch more posts happening around here for the month of October. It’s going to get crazy! Hope you like scary movies!

Here’s what I watched last week.

248 09-22 Days of Wine and Roses (1958) 4/5
This is another live play from TV’s golden age. It stars Cliff Robertson (CHARLY) and Piper Laurie (TWIN PEAKS) as an alcoholic couple trying to survive. It’s preachy and pro-alcoholics anonymous, but it’s also startlingly brutal and uncomfortable to sit through. Robertson and Laurie absolutely nail their roles, and that it was performed live on television just adds to the energy. Director John Frankenheimer by this point has mastered live TV, and the episode is pretty much flawless technically. This is the last show in the Criterion Collections THE GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION set, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

249 09-25 Gideon’s Day (1958) 4/5
This one stars the great Jack Hawkins (BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI) as Gideon, inspector for Scotland Yard. Considered to be a “B” picture for director John Ford, and a throwaway, it’s a hell of a film. The plot is dizzying in all it’s threads, with a sex murder, payroll theft and police corruption all playing for Gideon’s time, not to mention trying to wrap it all up in time to bring home some salmon for dinner before seeing his daughter play violin in concert. So there’s a hell of a lot going on, and Ford keeps it all moving while still adding some of the touches he’s known for with the family dynamic and humour. So for a throwaway, it ends up being one of my favourites of his. Sure, it’s no THE SEARCHERS, but it’s far from forgettable.

250 09-26 12 Years A Slave (2013) 3.5/5
It wasn’t planned, but for film number 250 I ended up watching last years best picture winner! It’s good. The movie I mean. I liked it. Steve McQueen makes good movies. The one’s I’ve seen anyway, like HUNGER. This one was good too. Performances were all top notch, and it was certainly deserving of all it’s awards. I didn’t love it though. The problem I have with it, and with films like it that deal with subjects like slavery or the holocaust or other equally horrible issues is that they concentrate on being sad. You’re constantly seeing awful things, and practically being told “isn’t it awful? Isn’t it sad how awful people were?” And it is awful and sad that people were like that and that it happened. And that’s MY problem with the film. It’s sad that it happened, but absolutely infuriating that it’s STILL happening in parts of the world, and the inherent racism that existed to allow it to happen is still a huge problem in western culture. Films like 12 YEARS A SLAVE ignore that, and I think that’s why I prefer films like DJANGO UNCHAINED which deals with the anger and rage of prejudice in a cathartic way. Wait, you didn’t think Tarantino’s DJANGO was a period picture about slavery, did you?

251 09-26 A Clockwork Blue (1972) 2/5
So based on the title you would think this is a dirty version of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. And like me you would be WRONG! It has nothing at all to do with Kubrick’s film, and it’s a shame since it would of been a thousand times better. This one is about two horrendous racial stereotypes, one black, one Jewish, arriving in heaven. The black one, using a watermelon television, is able to spy on the Jewish guys great great great grandson or whatever and mess with his life. The grandson gets his hand on a time travelling watch, and that finally sets the stage for a bunch of comedic softcore vignettes. The humour all falls completely flat, and while the women are great looking (including adult legend Rene Bond), which is surprising based on the cheepnis of this, it’s all played like a shitty Russ Meyers film and just annoys you. So it’s basically a racist, piss-poor Russ Meyer knock off that’s not really worth seeing. I watched the limited edition blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome that features the hardcore version, and a minute or so of harcore inserts doesn’t help the film at all.

252 09-27 The Monuments Men (2014) 3/5
George Clooney’s latest is typically solid. A great cast featuring Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and others all show up and do some good work. The plot, about a group of art experts tasked to help save works of art during WW2 is both a true story and a good one for a film. It was fun to watch, I don’t know why I didn’t like it more. There’s something awkward about it. It’s kind of “hip” like the OCEANS 11 series, and at the same time it tries to be emotionally heavy like a more serious war or Oscar bait film. Huh, I guess I do know why I didn’t like it more after all! It feels like a film “done by the numbers” so even though it’s a first time viewing, it felt over familiar. I’d rather watch a proper documentary on the real Monuments Men instead.

253 09-27 The Undergraduate (1971) 1.5/5
This is one of those early hardcore porn films that’s disguised as an educational picture as a way to skirt obscenity laws. A class of university students are taking an essay test on sex and you get to watch their answers in weirdly cut porn vignettes. The narration is weird enough to kind of be entertaining, but at just over an hour even the weirdest bits (like the Professor advising the students to read Penthouse Magazine) aren’t enough to hold your interest. I picked it up since Ed Wood Jr. (GLEN OR GLENDA) has a writing credit on it, but you would never know it from watching since all his crappy but awesome trademarks are absent.

254 09-28 Ward Sex (1971) 1/5

This one is one of two or three additional films included on the THE UNDERGRADUATE dvd and it’s just completely artless porno garbage that barely qualifies as a smoker. The disc is put out by Alpha Blue Archives. I found out after the fact that they are basically bootleggers, and that quality shows on this disc. Thankfully I only bought this one and one other Ed Wood Jr. disc so they won’t ever see anymore of my money.

255 09-28 Ms.45 (1981) 4.5/5
Abel Ferrara’s cult film keeps getting better every time I watch it. It’s total sleaze, the story of a mute seamstress who gets attacked and raped twice in one day heads out on a DEATH WISH type vigilante spree against the men of New York. What’s so interesting is that it’s got a huge pro-feminism bent that is completely clouded due to being written and directed by men. So while it seems to be about female empowerment, it’s cloudy as hell and hard to tell if it’s a warning to men to change their way, or a warning to men to watch out for feminists. All that said, it’s fascinating to watch, and 17 year old Zoe Lund is absolutely incredible in the lead. She completely carries the film and further blurs the empowerment/exploitation lines. All the gender politics aside, it’s at it’s more base a kick ass vengeance film, and one of Ferrara’s best. It’s a shame that Lund didn’t do more, but her later collaboration with Ferrara, the script for his fantastic THE BAD LIEUTENANT, solidifies her place as one of the great missed opportunities in film. Sad. Oh yeah, I revisited this one via the new blu-ray from Alamo Drafthouse, and it’s worth every single one of your pennies.

So there it is. Not a bad bunch of films, and quite a few mainstream ones for once. That said, I can’t stop thinking about Ms .45. One hell of a picture, that one!

Now to figure out how to wrap up my blogging week. Until next time.

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