Movie A Day!: 347-354 – November is Here

It’s finally November! You know what that means? No more horror films! Okay, there’s still horror films, but it’s mixed with the usual Samurai and porno. Yay!

347 11-01 Samaritan Zatoichi (1968) 3.5/5

The 19th film in the series is as good as the rest of them. Fantastic cinematography, style and music help make the same old plot work. That and the kickass sword play of course.

348 11-01 Wanda Whips Wall Street (1981) 3.5/5
I rarely revisit porn films, but Distripix re-released this one in it’s proper widescreen format and colour corrected and what not, so I gave it a shot. It was worth it since this one is a hell of a lot of fun. Veronica Hart (BOOGIE NIGHTS) stars as the title character, who moves to the big city and sleeps her way through a stock brokerage firm in a bid to take it over. Legends Jamie Gillis and a startlingly young and handsome Ron Jeremy are investigators brought in to stop her. It sounds like a typical porn plot, but director Larry Revine really mines it for comedy, sometimes at the expense of the actual porn. It manages to be legitimately funny and I was constantly reminded of the pre-code films from Hollywood’s golden age that has similar plots. Hell, Barbara Stanwyck pretty much owes her career to playing similar roles, it’s crazy that it took a film from the tale end of the “Porno Chic” era to mine such a natural genre honestly and not just exploitatively.

349 11-02 Man-Made Monster (1941) 3.5/5
This one is basically a Frankenstein retread, with Lon Chaney Jr. as the title monster. Chaney plays a man who seems to have an immunity to electricity, so a crazy scientist uses him to experiment on, zapping him so full of electricity he gets a death touch. It’s actually pretty good, and the movie is stolen completely by the pet dog that is best buds with Chaney prior to the experiments. That damned dog will break your heart, and it’s rare that a universal movie not named BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN breaks your heart.

350 11-03 Horror Island (1941) 2.5/5
This one is about a couple of schmucks who get involved with a treasure map and the search for pirate gold. They end up on a haunted island and there’s some shenanigans with a creep trying to stop them. It’s all played for yuks, and the mystery element is a bit shit so it never really works. Certainly a lesser film in the Universal Horror cycle. Let’s forget all about it and the fact that I hit another milestone type number, film 350, with another crappy movie.

351 10-07 Hearts & Minds (1974) 4/5
This one is a documentary on the Vietnam war, kind of. Instead of dealing with just the facts of the war, it deals more about how it came to happen and how it affected culture both in America and Vietnam. Made when the war was going and produced by the same house that put out “Easy Rider”, it’s obviously anti-war, but it’s never preachy or hippy dippy. Instead, it’s confrontational and quite shocking at times seeing some of the uncensored footage. It all adds up to being “good”, in the way that “Shoah” is good, but not really a great time. If that makes sense.

352 10-08 Jerry Lee Lewis – Live in Austin TX (1983) 4/5
This is an hour long performance recorded for “Austin City Limits” and captures Lewis at the top of his game. The Killer was always the guy from Sun Records that kind of got kicked around, compared to his label mates Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. It’s a shame, since he really is an insanely great entertainer, and you could argue that he is the definitive honky-tonk musician, effortlessly going from country to rock to gospel. Bonus is watching him play the piano, where he shows a dexterity up their with the best of the stride players.

353 10-08 I Love Lucy: The Complete Third Season (1953) 4/5
Not much to say other than this was another fun season. They kept the baby in the background, which is a good thing since forcing baby jokes into a sitcom that doesn’t require it is never a good thing. The high point is a 2 part storyline featuring Tennessee Ernie Ford as a lost cousin visiting the Ricardos. Ford is deadly funny as a stereotypical bumpkin, and his appearance really kicked the gang into overdrive.

354 10-08 Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle (1981) 3/5
I was kind of disappointed by this one, and I think it’s due to high expectations. It’s a title I had heard lots about, Sprinkle went from porn star to activist to feminist performance art, and all on her terms. This was the first film that she directed (co-directed really, with legend Joe Sarno), and while it’s kind of cute, it’s basically just a wall to wall sex film. Which is fine, but I expected more since she produced and wrote it. Which is stupid since it was made before all the above activism, performance art, etc. Anyway, it’s not terrible, I just expected it to be more.

There it is. Week one done. I hit a milestone, film 350, and it was crap. Since the horror challenge I’ve been binging on Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Agents of SHIELD, all those dumb tv shows that had the nerve to start while I was watching horror movies.I’m holding off on starting Gotham and Constantine. Constantine is probably going to be canceled so I’ll probably skip it entirely. Gotham I might get to once I catch up on SHIELD. The Flash can fuck off since I’m yet to watch Arrow, and I just can’t seem to get excited to watch Arrow.

Speaking of the scary movie challenge, I won it! I had the most watched, beat the next guy by 5 titles, due to him watching a bunch of TV horror that counts as less. So I get a bunch more movies to watch! Huzzah! See, there are actual rewards to watching all the movies, not just 3 weeks of diarrhea!

Dare to live your dreams people!

Movie a Day! : 144-153 – The End of June

Right, I’m keeping this intro brief. I watched more movies, let’s look at them and wrap up June!

144 06-24 I Love Lucy Season 2 (1952) 4/5
More of the same classic comedy as the first season. The writing and performances remain top notch and my concern of introducing a baby to the family so far hasn’t had a negative effect. (Introducing kids to shows always has a negative effect.)

145 06-25 Bob Dylan – The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993) 4/5
This one was recently released on blu-ray with everything looking and sounding great. I remember getting the pay per-view of this one back in ‘93. There are some differences, they cut George Thorogood’s performance of “Wanted Man” to the dismay of no one. I’m wondering if it was a rights issue? Anyway, what’s here is great so I guess my only complaint would be that it’s not truly “complete.” It is kind of sad seeing so many of the performers featured, like Lou Reed and George Harrison (in his last live performance I believe) who have now passed away. At any rate, the performances and songs more than hold up.

146 06-26 Double Agent 73 (1974) 2/5
This is the second film that Chesty Morgan made with Doris Wishman, and it’s just as shit as the first one. This one’s plot is, Chesty is an undercover agent who has a camera surgically implanted in her massive tits so as to gather evidence to crack a heroin ring. This of course gives her the excuse to flop her horrendous tits out in regular intervals. It’s as unpleasant as the first film, but so ridiculous and ballsy in it’s stupidity that you can’t help but watch it. These two films are certainly cult classics.

147 06-26 The Immoral Three 3/5
This one is the last film in the Chesty Morgan set from Something Weird. This one again follows Agent 73, thankfully replaced by another actress. She’s killed, so it’s up to her three daughters to avenge her death and collect her three million dollar inheritance. This one is the best film in the set, partly due to having people on screen who you actually want to watch instead of the skin diseased-like horrors of the Chesty freak shows. This one is more softcore as well, with a banana being eaten in a way that no banana deserves to be. It’s a bit “Charlie’s Angels” in a fun, exploitation way as well, though don’t expect much in plot or presentation since regardless of how many films Wishman made, she never seemed to improve.

148 06-26 A Gift (1970) 3/5
This is another short film by Wakefield Poole. Shot in the same Fire Island locations that “Boys in the Sand” would be shot, it also features some hardcore shots mixed with some of the editing tricks found in “Andy”. It makes for a nice little art film. That said, the commentary that is included that tells the story behind it is heartbreaking-ly wonderful.

149 06-28 Head Film (1969) 2/5
This one is an experimental short film by Wakefield Poole that is kind of neat but pretty forgettable in the end. It’s clearly him playing with the camera, filming his boyfriend around the house.

150 06-28 Vittorio (1971) 3/5
This is the final short film by Wakefield Poole on the “Boys in the Sand” DVD and is a cut-up animation that played during a gallery show by Canadian poster artist Vittorio Fiorucci. It was kind of neat for what it is. Now that I’ve watched all the shorts, I guess I have to watch the feature porno.

151 06-29 Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) 3.5/5
I don’t know what it is, but when the directors name is part of the title, I instantly have no desire to see the movie. See every film made by Tyler Perry as examples of movies I have no desire to see that has the directors name in the tite. This is the second film I’ve seen by Daniels. I was not a fan of “Precious”, a film so incredibly over the top in depicting the horribly abused life story of the title character that it was unintentionally hilarious. Anyway, I knew this was a film that mum would like to watch since Oprah is in it and the disc was cheap so I gave it a shot. It’s pretty good, and it’s entirely due to the performances of Oprah and Forest Whitaker. Plot wise, it’s a bit too convenient and over the top in depicting the real life tragedies of the Civil Rights movement that it almost flirts with the “Precious” level of ridiculous, but holds off just enough. I’m guessing Daniels just can’t help himself with trying way too hard to manipulate audiences emotions that he can’t just let the material speak for itself.

152 06-30 Philomena (2013) 4/5
I typically don’t seek out Judi Dench films (I’m racist), but when Stephen Frears or Steve Coogan are involved I’ll check it out. This one was wonderful. The plot, a woman seeks the son that was put up for adoption 50 years prior, sounds like the Lifetime networks movie of the week. The performances help to elevate the material and it’s quite a wonderful journey of discovery to be on that ends up not falling for many of the tropes these types of films tend to fall into. It’s well worth checking out.

153 06-30 Boys in the Sand (1971) 3/5
This one is considered the first mainstream, hardcore gay porn film. Directed by Wakefield Poole, it plays a lot like his other feature that I’ve seen, “Bible!”, except with hardcore. This one is basically a series of three vignettes, each dealing with a fantasy element as star Casey Donovan dreams up guys to fuck. It really is more of an art film. Like “Bible!”, there is no spoken dialog, just music so it plays like a porno “Fantasia.” It’s shot in a natural, documentary style, so there’s no harsh lighting or massive close-ups like in most porno, the scenes play out in a sort of dreamscape with sharp editing. Anyway, it’s not a bad film at all, but I doubt I’ll re-watch it much aside from listening to the commentary track. Vinegar Syndrome did their typical great job on this one. And 13 year old me from the 80’s would be shocked to know that 40 year old me could watch, much less own a gay porn and not have a dick in his mouth immediately after viewing. It’s funny how things change, having lived through the homophobia of the 80’s AIDS period.

Right, that’s it for the movies of June. Considering the traumatic events of the month, I watched a bunch. Let’s look at the numbers!

24 Watched, 23 First Timers0 In Theaters

Woof, 24 movies in the month. I think that’s the worst. Let me look. Nope, not the worst month this year. Let’s see how it compared to this time last year, here’s June 2013:

55 Watched, 52 First Timers1 In Theater

So another month where I’m down in my viewing. Though 55 movies last June? What the fuck? One of them was “Cleopatra” which is 4 hours long. I was either amazing or horrible last year. Let’s not judge.

It’s mid-year too. I’m currently at 153 films, compared to 233 films at this time in 2013. I don’t think it’s possible for me to beat last year. Scary Movie October is coming up though, where I abandon all hope and binge watch as many movies as possible, much to the detriment of my mental health. So we’ll see what happens.

I don’t know what to expect in the months to come.

The End

Movie a Day! 045-051 The End Of February

It’s Friday and time for another blog! Let’s wrap up my watching from February eh? This one features everything from porn to classic television. Genre and taste be damned! When it comes to movies, YOU GOTTA WATCH ‘EM ALL!

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045 02-15 Devil on a Chain (2013) 3/5
Kimberly Kane, takes a stab at porno exploitation as opposed to her usual Alt/Gonzo work. It mostly works with a plot that moves the picture forward despite trying a bit too hard to be “exploitation” campy with vengeance genre tropes instead of playing it straight. Seeing as Kane is the director, there is a certain “girl power” element to this where even the female victim characters are better than the doofy guys. So that’s interesting. The only problem is the one that all modern non-gonzo porn has; and that’s the 20-30 minute sex scenes that grind everything to a halt. I’m guessing this is so that they can be cut out of the film and sold online individually. Shorter sex scenes to balance the plot and this could of been a real winner. Then again, most people probably aren’t watching this for the plot….

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046 02-16 Wakefield Poole’s Bible! (1973) 3/5
Here’s a weird one, hardcore gay porn pioneer Wakefield Poole does a softcore tribute to Disney’s “Fantasia”, using 3 stories from the bible. It starts off a bit slow with the Adam & Eve opener, but then Georgina Spelvin steals the show in the slapstick Bath Seba segment and the final Samson & Delila is straight up beautiful. It’s cheap and looks it, but it works. Another case of directorial passion overwhelming the meager means. Vinegar Syndrome out did themselves as usual with a feature packed disc and I doubt the film will ever look better.

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047 02-16 Salome (1943) 3/5
The last film in my Rita Hayworth set is the classic style of Bible picture that Hollywood is no longer known for: the Bible picture that uses religion as a background to push sleaze and sex past the censors. It all comes to a froth with Rita’s dance of the seven veils which is an astounding set piece that’s worth sitting through all the religious bullshit to get to.

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That’s the set above, picked up via an Amazon sale. Seeing as I paid the price that “Gilda” would of been on it’s own, it was a hell of a deal. Being more critical, “Gilda” was by far the best film, with the rest being merely okay musical/melodramas with musical bits in them. All the transfers look fine for DVD, the extras are practically non-existent. I give it 3/5.

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048 02-22 Ditto (1937) 2.5/5
049 02-22 Love Nest on Wheels (1937) 2.5/5
The last of Buster Keaton’s Educational Pictures shorts go out with a bit of a whimper. They feel like he was going through the paces to finish up a contract, but each still have a bit or two in them to keep you interested.

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That FINALLY finishes the massive Buster Keaton blu-ray set from Kino that I started in May 2013. Featuring, as far as I know, his complete independent silent output before signing with MGM. It’s pretty much essential viewing if you’re interested in silent comedy. I give it a 5/5 despite not having any particularly great extras like a documentary to put the films in context.

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050 02-22 Side Effects ( 2013 ) 4/5
Revisited this one on Blu-ray. It holds up really well on a second viewing. A pharmaceutical noir that gets really twisty but stays believable despite getting a bit out there plot wise. Man, I’m really going to miss getting new Soderbergh films if his retirement is real.

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051 02-27 I Love Lucy Season 1 (1951) 4/5
The first hit sitcom! I think, “The Honeymooners” might actually be first. At any rate, this was certainly one of the first. Mums other favourite show (the other favourite being “All in the Family”), so seeing as Dad isn’t doing too great in hospital I spin a couple of these a week to brighten her spirits. It’s a bit weird watching these in that they are pretty much the template for every sitcom that followed. So they seem familiar even though they are first time viewings for me, outside of clip shows of course. That said, they are on the whole deadly funny. Lucille Ball was one of the all time great comedians and clowns, and she really goes to town. Dezi and the supporting cast were no slouches either. Some of it, particularly gender rolls, will seem hopelessly outdated to modern viewers so best not to worry about it and just enjoy the comedy.

So there it is, February is at an end and we will march into March. Here’s my total viewing tally for February 2014:

17 Watched  15 First Timers  00 In Theaters 

So I have fallen behind my movie a day. Panic! Here’s where I was at last February:

29 Watched, 25 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

My overall total by the end of February in 2013 was 60 films. I’m 9 films off from last year and 8 films off for “A Move A Day”. I should be able to make that up. I hope. Let’s not panic yet.

Next week we should be able to wrap up all of march in a couple of posts. Then we’ll see if/how this blog will continue. Please share with your movie loving friends, “like” and do all that other social media stuff. My ego demand constant petting!

The End