Movie A Day: Straight Sugar Pierce

Sick with summer cold this week. Got bad enough that I missed a day of work. Still have it. I feel like this phlegm-y mess is my life now. As a result, lots of movies were watched. I finished up my “True-Life Adventures” jag and started catching up on my Vinegar Syndrome back log. So the sleaze is back, dear readers.


212 07/09 Straight Outta Compton (2015) 3.5/5   The story of NWA is a great story to tell. The performances are great, especially Ice Cube’s kid who plays his dad. I watched the extended director’s cut and it goes on a bit too long frankly, with NWA’s story actually being done before the halfway mark which leaves all the solo stuff which is great for Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, but also means that MC Ren and DJ Yella practically disappear. Still, it’s well done and nails the culture of the era and how stupid the rap business can be. Once again I feel like I would have rather watched a documentary.


213 07/09 Johnny Belinda (1948) 3.5/5   Jane Wyman stars as a deaf/mute girl who is getting help from a town doctor, only there’s a darkness to Cape Breton small time life. Wyman does a great job, and the unsavory subject matter is handled will in this one. It’s best described as a “woman’s picture” from the era, but it plays almost like a film noir.


214 07/10 Detour (1945) 4/5   An essential noir title that I finally got around to watching. A piano player decides to hitchhike from New York to Los Angeles, and gets into the wrong car. It’s a lean number that just completely works and this guy gets hammered maybe the hardest by the wrong set of circumstances and the wrong woman. Essential viewing.


215 07/10 The Hearse (1980) 2.5/5  A woman recovering from a breakdown decides to move into her aunt’s country house and discovers a satanic history and things that go bump in the night. It never really gelled for me and poor Joseph Cotton deserved better movies that this.


216 07/12 Malibu High (1979) 3/5   From the looks of it, this is one of those dopey titty High School comedies that were so popular. It’s not. It’s actually a rather messed up film about a girl who gets dumped and gleefully enters into a prostitution racket. It’s sort of played for laughs, but nothing lands and despite the pacing/cheapness issues it has, it actually works as a low budget neo-noir.


217 07/12 Red Mob (1993) 2.5/5   Russia takes a stab at 80’s style action spectacle and it ends up a total mess. The plot makes zero sense. Something about an ex KGB trying to reconcile with his son and getting mixed up in some other KGB… I have no idea. The action gets bonkers in the second half and the last third is a helicopter chase that seems to last 5 days. It’s more a curiosity than it is “good”, but I have to admit, Sergey Veksler as “Nick” has some serious action chops. To bad he couldn’t transition to western made films.


218 07/12  Journey Into Fear (1942) 3.5/5   The last film Orson Welles delivered to RKO, it’s directed by Norm Foster but Welles’ hand is all over it. Joseph Cotton (who is great in this and carries the film) is an arms dealer in Turkey who gets mixed up in some Nazi intrigue. It’s lean and sharp, but not as good as Welles’ other noir pictures.


219 07/14 Jackie (2016) 3/5   What makes this one interesting is also the problem. The film tells Jackie Kennedy’s story of the days of the assassination. As an assassination nut, it’s interesting and actually something that tends be glossed over. So it’s interesting in that regard, but it also relegates her story to that of “grieving widow” and I’m sure she had a lot more going on than that. It’s a shame since everyone is so good in it.


220 07/14 Sweet Sugar (1972) 4/5   I may be a little biased on this one. Way back in the VHS days dad brought this one home and we watched it late on a Friday night. My intro to the sleazy Women In Prison genre, and at around 12 years old I probably shouldn’t of watched it. It left a mark since it’s so bonkers. Hooker Sugar gets roped into working in a sugarcane plantation run by “Doctor John”, a nut who uses the women for strange experiments. Add in voodoo and this one really is one of the better examples of the genre. It doesn’t hurt that lead Phyllis Davis can carry the film with both her beauty and brawn.


221 07/15 Nurse Sherri (1978) 2.5/5   This one mixes up Satanic possession with the nurse genre and ends up being a real mess despite attempting to be ambitious on no budget. It never works. There’s an alternate cut that puts the sex first over the horror that is supposed to be better, I may check it out at some point.


222 07/15 Mildred Pierce (1945) 4/5   Joan Crawford revitalized her career for the first of many times with this one. She plays a mother that would do anything for her child. It sounds like a melodrama, but it plays like a noir and a dark one at that. Crawford is fantastic, the script is razor sharp and consummate pro director Michael Curtiz nails it. Recommended.

 

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.