Movie A Day!: Disconnected End Of The Violent Years

Here it is, the last post of 2017. All the films I watched since the last post. It’s a big one. It’s fitting though since I’ve decided to end the blog. My goal was to keep this going for the full year, and I did that. Anyone reading this can tell it’s pretty much been coasting, and that’s my fault. Better to end it than continue. I’m still going to be tracking my movie watching, that can be found on my Letterbox profile found here:

https://letterboxd.com/Ruz_El/

I’m going to attempt to pull back a bit online in 2018, and part of that will be not posting blogs where I can get personal. Anyone who read this blog, thank you from taking time out of your day to spend it here. Hopefully you found something of value or a new favourite.

I wish you all the best.

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479 12/17 Disconnected (1984) 3/5   I think this is the first feature by the team behind PSYCHOS IN LOVE, and I enjoyed it more. It’s technically a slasher, but it doesn’t play like one which helps to make it stand out. Worth checking out since it’s such an oddity.

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480 12/17 Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special (2017) 4/5   As far as I know Burnett was the only woman to solo host/have a variety show in the late 60’s that ran for 11 years. It was deadly funny, shot live with limited to no retakes and seemed to be as much a contest on which performer could crack the others up first. Amazing to watch the clips now with performers making eye contact and performing their guts out, in comparison with the SNL card reading extravaganza that passes for sketch comedy now. The clips are short, but this one makes it up with lots of remembrances from Burnett herself, who at 84 looks like she’s ready to jump back into the game.

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481 12/17 Twenty Questions (1988) 3/5   Documentary from Gorman Bechard shot in the 80’s but not released until now is a neat idea. Get twenty different people to answer the same twenty question cards and see the results. It goes on a little long at 60 minutes, but still, a good idea with a simple set-up.

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482 12/22 Liquid Sky (1982) 4/5   One of the more odd 80’s films. A day-glo look at the hip, underground fashion scene with drugs and assault being high on peoples list. And a UFO with an alien that gets high by fatally ingesting orgasms. It’s the type of gorgeous film that you want to just let envelope you, and more dark  than it appears when you think about it. Worth checking out.


483 12/22 The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer Season 1 (2017) 2/5   This history channel series piqued my interest since I’m obsessed with true crime and the Zodiac case is so bonkers. It ended up being goofy as hell, so ridiculous in presentation that even the cracking of part of one of the ciphers was underwhelming. Never mind the stupid super computer taught to think like the zodiac that they kept representing with a matrix-face for the extra stupid to comprehend. They basically ignore all the police work done in the past 50 years to go on wild goose chases that end up with nothing, and the final ep is a massive prick-tease for a season 2 that I’m sure I’ll hate-watch if it comes to fruition.

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484 12/22 Let’s Talk Sex (1983) 3/5   Pretty typical porn for the era, this one visualizing the phone sex fantasies of some mopes calling into a goofy phone sex lines. It’s no classic, and has a horrible dubbed soundtrack, but ends up being better than the usual.

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485 12/23 Festival (1967) 4/5   Before the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock the times they were a changing at the Newport folk Festival. This documentary follows highlights from the 1963-1966 line-ups featuring clips from everyone from Bob Dylan to Mississippi John Hurt. The only complaint is that it’s not 10 hours long with full performances.


86 12/24 Trouble No More (2017) 3/5   A film showcasing live concert footage of Bob Dylan from his Christian years. It’s cut with clips of actor Michael Shannon delivering sermons and frankly none of it works. The live footage is great, but completely without any history or context. A better and more proper documentary of this period should have been made. It’s ridiculous that there’s still no decent concert films of Bob Dylan commercially available.

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487 12/24 Farmer’s Daughters (1976) 3.5/5   Notorious porn roughie noted for starring acclaimed raconteur Spalding Gray, this one lives up to its hype. A trio of daughters assault a farm hand, only to end up on the receiving end of abuse from three escaped convicts. It’s ugly, but compelling at the same time with some editing tricks that defy it’s incompetence.

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488 12/25 Wonder Woman (2017) 4/5   In a world where all the superhero films seem to blur together, and it’s generally regarded that the DC universe post-Christopher Nolan Batman are basically terrible. So it’s nice that this one is so damn good. Gadot is fantastic as in the lead, both genuine and powerful in her depiction, the rest of the cast rises to the occasion with Chris Pine finally being appealing in a role. It’s never dips into cheesecake and I found myself getting teary eyed since it’s so rare to see women in action movies depicted like this. It’s great, I hope the director gets to do more.

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489 12/26 War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) 4/5   Back in the 80’s, I had a ratty VHS tape in which I had the films “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Apocalypse Now” and I watched it to death. Sometimes once a week. Never would I imagine that the Apes series would distill these two films into one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Emotional, amazing action and never once did I suspect that the apes weren’t real. It’s a remarkable achievement in a series that has been way better than it had any reason to be.

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490 12/27 Donnie Darko (theatrical cut) 4/5   Second time watching this version and it finally clicked for me. Lots has been written, I have nothing to add. It’s good.

491 12/27 Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko (2016) 3.5/5   A very well done making of documentary, mainly due to dealing with the people in the production as opposed to the actors.

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492 12/27 Hail, Caesar! (2016) 3.5/5   The Coen brothers take a look at the golden age of Hollywood. It’s a little bit of a mess, with kidnapping communists and what not, but I loved it. I have a soft spot for old Hollywood and this one really nails the period.

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493 12/28 The Climber (1975) 2.5/5   “Little Joe” Dallesandro stars in this Italian crime film about an American in Naples trying to find his way in the organized crime scene. It works, but adds up to nothing all that special since it pretty much stiks to genre conventions. Everything in this will be done better in dePalma’s SCARFACE.

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494 12/29 Gimme Danger (2016) 4/5   As perfect a documentary on Iggy & The Stooges you could hope for. As far as I can tell, every frame of film of the band in its prime is in here, though sadly none with sync-sound. At any rate, the only better telling of this story is the book Total Chaos. A must see, go buy the records.

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495 12/29 Baltimore Rising (2017) 3/5   Documentary on the resistance movement in Baltimore in the wake of the Freddie Gray killing. Spends a little too much time with certain people as opposed to telling the whole story, so it’s a little hit a miss. Lays the ground for a better “Black Lives Matter” type documentary in the future.

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496 12/31 Star Trek Season 3 (1969) 4/5   After literally years, I finally knuckled down and finished watching the original series. Generally considered a step down due to budget cuts, it’s still a damn fine season and I find the cheapness adds to the surreal, alien planets. Some good ideas are explored, and one of my favourite episodes – “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”. Next year I may dive into the animated series.

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497 12/31 The Violent Years (1956) 4/5   Of all the films to watch to send off the year I had to watch this one. As far as juvenile delinquent scare films go, you can do better. This one is known due to the Ed Wood Jr. script connection, but I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun. A good girl is running a girl gang, knocking off gas stations, raping guys, and getting tricked by communists?!?!? It’s goofy, but I’ve always enjoyed it since stumbling upon it in the VHS days. The new Blu-ray scan from AGFA is great and worth your time.

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Mobee a dai: Is This Real Life?

I meant to get back into the sleaze since I got a big Vinegar Syndrome package, but I’m hooked on documentary films! Plus a few other things…


176 06/18 Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017) 4/5   A true crime documentary. Best you go in knowing little. A young woman is charged with the murder of her mother. It’s more complicated and sad than you can imagine.


177 06/18 De Palma (2015) 4/5   This one is little more than the director sitting down and going through his filmography with the appropriate clips showing as needed, but holy mackerel, it ends up being one of the best documentaries on film making that I have seen. Mainly due to De Palma not being shy to mention and acknowledge complaints. There’s an honesty to it that’s largely missing from these things, especially since they typically end up as special features on DVDs as opposed to feature in their own right.


178 06/20 Better Call Saul Season 3 (2017) 4/5   The prequel to Breaking Bad continues to be possibly better than the series that spawned it. It’s fun, but also one of the most emotionally brutal shows I’ve seen. Season 4 should prove to be very interesting. The performances continue to be razor sharp, it’s one of the best show’s I’ve seen.


179 06/20 Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) 3/5   Interesting documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to adapt Dune into possible the greatest film ever back in the 70’s, only to have it fall apart after pre-production was done. It’s good, but the end result is of course, “Wow, that would have been some movie, huh?” which makes it a little overkill. That said, you can’t help but get caught up in Jodorowsky’s dream and film philosophy.

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180 06/21 Beware the Slenderman (2016) 2.5/5   True crime documentary about two 12 year old girls that attempted to kill one of their friends after becoming obsessed with the “Slenderman” urban legend. The tone of this one isn’t right. It’s a terrible crime based on some incredibly stupid internet folklore, a folklore that is never spoken of in the film as corny and stupid. You can’t look at a Slenderman youtube vid without thinking how goofy it is, so to treat it as an actual threat seems dishonest. The filmmakers also spin the wheels to pad the film. You could easily cut 30 minutes out and it would be a better, tighter film. The victim and the suspects deserve to have their story told in a better fashion.

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181 06/22 Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untamed Story of Cannon Films (2014) 4/5    In many ways, Cannon was the perfect studio of the 80’s. None of their films were very good, but all of them were pretty awesome if you were a kid with a hunger for goofy action movies and what not. I have fond memories of many of the trashy films profiled here and the telling of the story behind them is pretty much perfect with no one pretending that they were cranking out amazing art. Well worth checking out.


182 06/23 Menendez: Blood Brothers (2017) 2.5/5   Lifetime takes a crack at a true crime biopic with Courtney Love of all people playing the mom. It’s not terrible, it is sleazy which makes it fun. It’s just not executed very well.


183 06/23 Never Sleep Alone (1983) 2.5/5   A not bad crime hardcore about a swinger couple in an open marriage that gets infected by jealousy. It’s not bad, it just kind of runs out of steam despite Joanna Storm stealing the film.


184 06/24 Bagboy (2015) 3.5/5   Dr. Steve Brule takes a stab at a sitcom comedy and it ends up being one of the greatest sitcoms ever produced.  


185 06/25 The Last Laugh (2016) 3.5/5   Can the holocaust be funny? The answer is no, but this doc ends up going deeper and with the help of tons of comedians really gets into joke structure and what makes something funny. It’s also great that Mel Brooks appears as ground zero for breaking all the rules.

186 06/25 Austin City Limits: Iggy Pop (2016) 4/5   My only issue is it’s edited down to an hour long episode. It’s great seeing Iggy with a band that can play anything.   

I keep thinking about that Dune documentary, and Jodorowsky’s thought that civilization is based on stories from the Bible, The Koran, The Life of Buddha, why not a movie? Why can’t a movie transform people?

Movie A Day!: Devil Iggy Bungalows

No, I did not forget to post my blog on my typical Sunday night. The weekend simply got away from me, and I debated skipping a week since all I had watched this past week were three silent short films. Don’t get me wrong, they were fine short films, it’s not much of a post.

I find myself falling into a youtube hole prior to going to bed instead of watching movies. I’m replacing cinema junk food with wrestling top 10 lists, of all things. Actually, thinking about it, I watched two Iggy Pop concerts on the youtubes that I should really add to this… give me a minute to fix my list.


067 03/12 The Dare-Devil (1923) 3.5/5   Ben Turpin takes the lead in this Mack Sennett short about a clumsy cowboy who gets pulled into the movie business. Packed full of physical gags that are even more impressive when you find out in the commentary that he was in his 50’s when he filmed this. A comedian that really could do it all in front of the camera, this one was a lot of fun.


068 03/13 Black Oxfords (1924) 3/5   Forgotten comedian Sid Smith stars in this one as a guy who escapes prison and enters a steeplechase to win some money to save the family farm. Yeah, slapstick wasn’t much on plot. This one is pretty standard fare for the genre, but it’s great standard fare. There’s a prison baseball scene preceding the break out that is absolutely wonderful, a fake cow gag that flat out doesn’t work but the steeplechase in the end mostly redeems it. Most notable with this one is the quick pace and gags that will actually be refined and improved with the Loony Tunes cartoons while completely fading away from live action with the invention of sound.


069 03/14 Iggy Pop: Kiss My Blood (1991) 4.5/5   This one finds Iggy performing in support of Brick By Brick, one of his finest albums. It’s one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen, period. Dangerous, out of control, nailing every song. Twenty years after the Stooges and he still takes no prisoners. Not safe for work, he keeps yanking his pants off, but it’s still a mandatory viewing you can watch here.


070 03/19 Iggy Pop Live at the Ritz (1986) 3.5/5   This one finds Iggy performing material on the Blah Blah Blah tour. This is the album that was produced by Bowie and was considered a comeback of sorts for Iggy, but I found the album over-produced with too much of an 80’s pop sheen. The material live though is fantastic and a revelation. Well worth a watch to gain a new perspective. Watch it here.


071 03/19 Galloping Bungalows (1924) 3/5   This one see poor Sid Smith in a support role to the superior Billy Bevan, the star of the previously reviewed Gymnasium JimThis one is about a widow looking for suitors that have a distinguished mustache. I promise you, dear readers, I am not making up these plots. First half of this deals with a prefab house gag on a beach that largely falls flat. Second half is an amazing fire engine chase that makes it all worthwhile.

I guess that wasn’t too bad of a list. Seriously though, those Iggy Pop concerts are both bonkers. I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know how he STILL does it. Pure Rock n’ Roll, the real deal. The greatest thing in the world. We’re losing all of our originals. Chuck Berry died yesterday. I grew up on his music. I’m listening to it right now, vivid, alive, that sound he had. It holds up. It’s eternal. Sure, he had personal problems (to put it lightly) and was by all accounts a raging asshole. Don’t let it distract you from the genius. You could make the sweeping claim of “Chuck invented music as we know it” and it wouldn’t be crazy. All pop music today come from either The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, neither would of existed without Chuck Berry. No one can replace his influence. Only Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are left. Listen to the old guard this week.