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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Movie A Day: Death Heat

The week began with literal murder threats on loved ones and ended with the heat making it impossible to sleep in a house designed to have winters not kill you. Here’s hoping you all had more fun than me.

A mixed bag. I’m on a documentary/bio-pic jag with diversions into classic films and porno. So pretty typical, I guess.


187 06/25 The Snake Pit (1948) 3.5/5  Olivia de Havilland stars in this one about a woman sent to a mental hospital with no recollection of how she got there. A doctor helps her piece together her story and it’s a little hokey. The main reason to watch this is de Havilland is absolutely amazing in it.

188 06/26 Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon (2017) 3/5   A good recap of his history of abuse. It’s horrible to listen to the stories, of course, but valuable and not as exploitative as it could have been.


189 06/26 Bettie Page Reveals All (2012) 4/5   A really well done documentary with Page (via voice over interview clips) telling her own story. There will never be a more iconic pin-up model and the doc does a great job of not only telling her story but packing in tons of pictures and footage. That said, the blu-ray disc is an abomination with one of the worst sound designs that I have ever heard. The music (which isn’t great to begins with) is mixed way too hot and often drowns out the people speaking, only to get even louder when they are not. I’m tempted to knock a star off the review but I’m guessing it’s a mix on the blu-ray and not on the film proper if viewed elsewhere. I’m hoping anyways, since it really is terrible.


190 06/27 Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017) 2/5   A made for TV biopic on the pop star’s final years as told by his bodyguards. It avoids all talk of child molestation and paints the bodyguards as saints. That’s really the problem with this one, it’s hard to root for Jackson to get back on his feet when you know he’s molested children, so fuck him and his money problems, right? Chad C. Coleman from The Wire is the main lead bodyguard and he’s great. Navi is shockingly, creepily good as Jackson, but it’s just not enough to make me care about a child molester.


191 06/28 In A Lonely Place (1950) 3.5/5   Bogart stars as a down on his luck screenwriter who gets wrapped up in a murder he may or may not have committed. Bogart is great in the role, getting to play a not as nice guy as he typically did at this point in his career and Gloria Grahame more than holds her own as the inspired love interest. It’s a good film but I didn’t find myself wrapped up in it.


192 06/29 Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) 3/5   This one was in the works just prior to both of the stars passing, so it’s a bittersweet affair that I wanted to like more. It shows their eccentric current life, but doesn’t go too deep in what brought them to this point. So if you go in not knowing too much about them, you’re going to be a little lost since they come off kooky. That said, what it does deliver, it delivers well.


193 06/29 I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (2013) 4/5   Really interesting documentary on dancer, choreographer, pornographer and chef Wakefield Poole. I know him from the porn, he’s arguably the greatest gay adult filmmaker of all time (with his “Bijou” easily one of the greatest adult films of all time.) It was interesting to see how close he was to the front lines of gay rights though, with numerous stories and encounters with Harvey Milk and other political heros. A really well done picture, and Poole seems like the sweetest man in the world despite having a bittersweet history.


194 06/30 The Times Of Harvey Milk (1984) 4/5   Great documentary on the first gay man to hold public office in California. I was familiar with him through Gus Van Sant’s film Milk, but it was great to see the real story. A bittersweet film considering how it all ends, you get a really great sense of who Harvey was and why it was such a tragedy.


195 06/30 Pleasure Maze (1986) 2.5/5   A rather workmanlike effort of an adult film about robot hookers and their testers which is all an excuse for 80’s futuristic costumes and run of the mill sex scenes one would expect of the era. The fantastic cast helps to elevate it, but it’s no classic.


196 07/01 Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) 4/5
Ends up the story behind the picture is as bonkers as rumoured. I’m not convinced that Stanley would of pulled the film off if he stayed on, but it is fun to think about. Sadly missing is Ron Perlman’s fantastic Brando story which can be found on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. At any rate, this is one of the better documentaries on filmmaking and worth checking out.


197 07/01 Love & Mercy (2014) 3.5/5  Bio-pic on Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson uses the trick of casting Paul Dano as young 60’s Brian and John Cusack as 1980’s Brian trying to get his life together with the help of Dr. Eugene Landy. It sounds weird, but if you have ever seen a documentary on Brian, it makes sense. This one was well done, it goes pretty deep into both the music and Wilson’s troubles, though I could see a non-fan getting a little lost and wondering what the big deal is.

198 07/01 Lovers Lane (1986) 2.5/5   The second feature on the Peekarama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured Pleasure Maze is less inspired and even more workmanlike. Director Duck Dumont knows how to shoot, it’s too bad he doesn’t push himself in these two features. Then again, it could be the sign of competing with  SOV 80’s wall to wall porn. At any rate, the cast helps this one, but not enough to put it ahead of any other of its like.


199 07/02 A Band Called Death (2012) 4/5   Back in the early 70’s three black brothers were inspired to move on from their funk band and start a rock group. They called it DEATH, and they were punk as fuck before there was a proper name for punk. Not the cool New York punk either, but the edgy hardcore sounds that came out in the late 70’s early 80’s. Anyway, they were completely ignored, never got their record out and finally are getting their due. This documentary is really quite fantastic as despite their name, they are such positive people and seeing them finally get some of their due is wonderfully inspiring. It’s as much a family story as it is a music doc and really worth checking out.


200 07/02 Heat (1995) 4/5   Nice revisiting this one, my first time watching the “Director’s Definitive Edition”. One of the best heist crime movies ever made, I have to admit that Pacino is as scenery chewing in this one as he is in SCARFACE. All acting sins are forgiven with the incredible LA shootout sequence that is one of the most perfectly shot action scenes you will see. It all holds up just fine and the cast listing is absolutely bonkers.

 

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.

Movie A Day!: Witchtrap Champions!

More movies! Past week was an absolute bitch at work with our customer base being even more clueless and challenging than normal. When you have conversations explaining to people that the “Forrest Green” they say they purchased last month was actually called “Meadow Green” and that is why I was quoting them the wrong product, it does your fucking brain in.

So no fake deep thoughts to intro this one. Here’s the shitty movies I watched last week.


077 03/26 Witchtrap (1989) 3/5   At first glance all this film seems to have going for it scream queen supreme Linnea Quigley, as depicted on the poster. It’s actually a not bad haunted house type deal about a group of investigators trying to ghost-bust a house so it can become a bed and breakfast. Quigley has a minor role as a para-investigator that looks after all the tech, which has to be one of the only “smart” roles in her career. She still has to show her tits in a shower scene though, such is the life of a scream queen. Anyway, it’s pretty good but has a major problem. They mucked up the sound when filming so all the dialogue and sound effects are looped in post, and not very well. I’ve seen Italian dubbed films with tighter synch than this, and it makes for distracted viewing since everything sounds separate from the action. Which is a shame since aside from that it’s quite accomplished.

078 03/28 The Book of Joe (1984) 3/5  Student short film by the director of Witchtrap, Kevin Tenney is a little gem of a film about a defence lawyer who has to represent a man claiming to be the returning Jesus Christ. It manages to not be corny or preachy despite having a pro-faith lean. Included on the Blu-ray due to having many of the same actors as Witchtrap, it’s a neat addition.


079 03/30 Big City Blues (1932) 2.5/5   Pre-Code film from Warners finds a hick arriving in New York to set the town on fire and ends up getting burned. Probably most notable today for Humphrey Bogart having a small unbilled part. That’s kind of the problem with this one, lead Eric Linden as the hick is so completely overshadowed by co-star Joan Blondell (who gets top billing, just look at the poster) and everyone else that it’s hard to root for him since he’s such a unlikable, naive milksop. It ends up being serviceable at best.


080 03/31 Black Mass (2015) 2.5/5   Johnny Depp stars in the true story of Whitey Bulger, psychopath crime boss of South Boston. Depp does a pretty good job in this one, compared to the cartoon-like roles he’s been playing recently. That said, it’s not a very good movie in that despite being a true story it hits all the crime beats these pictures usually do without offering anything new and holy shit do actors love to mangle those Boston accents. I left this one thinking a documentary would have been better.


081 03/31 Boiling Desires (1987) 2/5   You have to hand it to porn jobber Carlos Tobalina for hiring four stars and managing to make an entire film out of the one-note plot of a couple of girls in which one hasn’t had sex yet and they’re all excited to have her have sex. It’s not a good movie, but you have to hand it to him.


082 04/01 The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 (2014) 3.5/5   Finally getting around to these. Problem I had is I barely remember the first two films, so most of this one was me going “Oh, right!” as plots came forward in my hazy brain. This one mostly revolves around Katniss mooning about for Pita while becoming a reluctant leader of the revolution. It’s good, though kind of sad since I think this is the last film Philip Seymour Hoffman did before passing he’s just so goddamned good. I think that’s why these pictures work. The love triangle stuff is lost on me since I find both the guys (Pita and whoever the other one is, so forgettable I can’t recall his name) so useless, the rest of the cast is so strong that it allows you to kind of forget about it and makes the rest of the film work.

083 04/02 Love Champions (1985) 2/5   The second Tobalina feature on the disc with boiling Desires, it has an even thinner plot than the first one, more hacked together and ends in another poorly shot orgy. Pretty much worthless as everyone in this picture have been in better movies.

Speaking of adult. I learned this morning on the passing of Radley Metzger. If anyone is wondering why I’m bothering with “shitty old porn”, I would advise them to have a peek at Metzger’s filmography. In the early days when it looked like porno-chic might actually go mainstream, it was largely due to filmmakers like Metzger. Getting his start in euro-softcore, under the pseudonym of Henry Paris  Metzger was one of the filmmakers that seemed on the cusp of making hardcore legit. The Opening of Misty Beethoven is an absolute masterpiece, period, and is highly recommended. Metzger will never get the credit as a filmmaker that he deserves, and he will never be forgotten. I also highly recommend The Rialto Report site or anyone with even a passing interest in adult, or a damn fine story since porn history is full of bonkers stories and the podcasts are great.

And with that, I will leave you for another week.

Movie A Day!: 377-382 – “What’s Your Favourite Grammy Memory?”

As predicted, this week was a little shorter. Evenings seemed to get away from me, both with family stuff, x-mas stuff, and my new PONO player arriving! What’s PONO? It’s a iPod basically, but designed for playing high rez music. I tested it by playing the high rez album and swapping between it and a vinyl copy. There was no difference, which means it works! So I believe in Neil Young and the PONO promise. Dumb thing though is loading music is really slow. They’re still in Beta, so hopefully that sorts itself.

Enough jibber jab about a music player you monsters don’t care about, on with the movies you will never watch!

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377 12-01 Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman (1971) 4/5

This one was another great one. Zatoichi gets mixed up with the legendary One-Armed Swordsman after unfortunately named Yu Wang kills a bunch of Shogun Samurai trying to protect some Chinese immigrants in Japan. As I said, it’s pretty great with an uneasy alliance between Zatoichi and Wang made all the worse due to them being unable to speak to each other due to the language barrier. It makes for some natural comedy and intrigue, and the movie is the typical suspenseful burn that manages to match up the typical Samurai Zatoichi stuff with the more flamboyant (and kind of corny) Kung-Fu that Yu Wang is known for. It gets a solid recommend.

378 12-03 Christmas in Rockefeller Center (2014) 2/5
12-05 A Grammy Christmas (2014) 1/5
Since dad passed away, I’m getting sucked into watching all the shitty Christmas shows. Rockefeller’s excuse was the lighting of a Christmas tree. It get’s two stars due to have Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga sing an actual Christmas song in a proper way. The rest was garbage. The Grammy one was total garbage, featuring a bunch of assholes who can only sing with autotune, and some British cunt named Sam something who flat out can not sing even with autotune, singing songs having nothing to do with Christmas. I FUCKING HATE THIS TIME OF YEAR!

379 12-05 Beat The Devil (1953) 2.5/5
Humphrey Bogart is back with John Huston with this one, and it’s simply okay. Which is a shame since the team-up has generated absolute classics like THE MALTESE FALCON, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and THE AFRICAN QUEEN, all films that should be seen if you want an understanding of movies, period. This one though just doesn’t work. Bogart plays a guy hired by some crooks (featuring Peter Lorre) to play as an inbetween so they can get into Africa and exploit uranium rights. It’s oddly played more for laughs, and the tone just never quite works.

380 12-06 The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) 2.5/5
Another sequel in the Universal Monster series, this one takes place thirty years after the last film, and finds the mummy Kharis being sent the states to kill the two goofs from the last movie that desecrated his tomb. It’s as corn ball as it sounds, but Lon Chaney Jr. does as good as anyone can as the Mummy. I knocked it half a star for burning ten minutes of it’s 60 minute run time with clips from the previous film. It also steals a bunch of mob shots of townsfolk with torches from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Universal was always cheap, I guess.

381 12-06 Cathouse Fever (1984) 2/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndromes PEEKARAMA disc that also featured PURELY PHYSICAL by the same director, and sadly this one was more of the same. A woman narrates her memories of working in a cathouse, and the result is a series of uninspired sex scenes and bad attempts at comedy. The best thing is the goofy song in the trailer that rips off the Ted Nugent “classic” “Cat Scratch Fever”. So this disc was one of the rare clunkers in the VS catalogue. It was bound to happen when you’re featuring on average 6-7 movies a month.

382 12-06 The Eric Andre Show Season 1 (2012) 4/5
I’ve only become aware of this one recently, and boy do I love it. It’s stupid, and a rip of the superior THE TOM GREEN show, but it’s gloriously stupid and I love this show! If you like Tim & Eric, Tom Green, Jackass and other brilliant stupidity, you should like this.

There it is, another week down. I’m nearly finished my x-mas shopping, so I should hopefully get more movies in next week. I enjoy the giving of Christmas, but man, the shopping is a total ball ache. I couldn’t imagine having to buy for kids. Actually, kids are easier since they’re monsters and will tell you what they want instead of the vague “Oh, anything is fine” that us jerk adults pull with a false modesty. Or is that a Canadian trait? I don’t know, I just find it stressful and usually give up.

“Quitting” is my new, yet old, jam.

The End