So still on staycation. I had a massive BBQ pulled pork sandwich the other day, if anyone was wondering how the getting fit project has been going.
Right, despite my attempts, this is going to be a long one since I have to recap the month. Let’s look at my amazing final week of watching and read some reviews! YES!
174 07-24 Hell’s Kitchen Season 12 (2014) 2/5
I stopped watching this show a few years ago since it got so incredibly ugly and manipulative I couldn’t stomach it. I got sucked into watching the latest season, and it continues to be an absolute horror. The only positive was when a contestant finally had enough and walked out on Ramsey after one of his epic, made for TV meltdowns. Ramsey deserves to have the shit slapped out of him.
175 07-25 Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah is a polarizing director. People tend to love him or hate him, and this film won’t be any different. Basic plot is Alfredo Garcia has gotten a Mexican Crime Boss’s daughter pregnant, and he has put a price of one million dollars on his head. Warren Oats plays a flunky American who has a lead on Garcia’s whereabouts. Oats has probably never been better, matching the typical Peckinpah macho ideal with an almost painful sensitivity and humanity. Like all of Peckinpah’s films, this one really is about the individual who just can’t seem to exist without the world bothering them. Also like most Peckinpah films, this one has a bit of a misogynistic streak that features a scene as awkward and uncomfortable as the rape to be found in STRAW DOGS. If you stick with the film though, there’s lots of things going on behind the slow motion violence that makes it interesting, and a bit ahead of it’s time.
176 07-25 Young Secretaries (1974) 2/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndromes PEEKARAMA disc, paired with the previously discussed DEEP TANGO. Like that film, it’s a bit of a mess. Basic plot is an ad exec is being pressured to hire a young buck into the firm. It plays like a softcore MAD MEN spoof by way of Herschell Gordon Lewis, only not as inept. The most surprising thing about it is it’s softcore, so it feels extra dated seeing as it came out two years after DEEP THROAT kickstarted the porno chic era. The disc itself, despite a warning at the start that the elements were in exceptionally bad shape, still looks pretty good with no major flaws and most of the issues are with the colour in DEEP TANGO. So as far as PEEKARAMA discs go, this one probably has less re-watch value since they films really are more odd than good, but still not a bad value if you’re into this type of sleaze.
177 07-? Chopped Canada Season 1 (2014) 3/5
I’m sticking this one here since Season 1 is apparently finished, but I had no idea since there was no big wham-bam ending. Anyway, CHOPPED CANADA is the same as CHOPPED in that it features 4 chefs competing in 3 stages where they have to cook with mystery ingredients with a winner being chosen at the end. It’s more polite than regular, American CHOPPED, and for my money, it’s the best of the cooking competition shows since it’s all about skill as opposed to screwing someone over, fake drama and side competition nonsense found in HELL’S KITCHEN and those other shows.
178 07-26 Ace in the Hole (1951) 4.5/5
179 07-27 Portrait of a “60% Perfect Man”: Billy Wilder (1980) 3/5
Billy Wilder followed up his amazing film noir SUNSET BOULEVARD with this satire and critique on the media. Kirk Douglas stars as a down on his luck newsman forced to hit the sticks to find a job and hoping for that one big story that will get him back to New York. He finds it when a man gets trapped in a mine, and is able to exploit it. Staggering both in it’s dark humour and sad truth. Fifty years later and this kind of stuff is happening pretty near every week in our current media climate, which means this film has lost none of it’s edge. Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. PORTRAIT is a documentary on Wilder that was included on the stellar Criterion Collection Blu-ray (along with additional material) and was pretty informative in it’s own right. Highly recommended.
180 07-27 Unholy Rollers (1972) 3/5
This one is a Roger Corman produced roller derby picture. Think WHIP IT, but with a tough as nails angry girl in the lead and you get the picture. This one features nearly constant derby action which helps to keep the film moving, and the performances are pretty good as well. It also features Roberta Collins (DEATH RACE 2000) in a support role, and she’s always great. The one big complaint, and I was tempted to knock half a point off it, is that the music was replaced with some god awful generic rock that is just horrendous. This was due to licensing costs, and as far as I can tell there is no way to get this movie with the original music intact. It’s a shame, but the movie is fun enough that you can overlook it.
181 07-27 Knightriders (1981) 3.5/5
After hitting it big with DAWN OF THE DEAD, George Romero got a three picture deal that gave him more creative freedom than he had ever had. The first film he made was this one, about what is basically a biker gang, except they live by the code of King Arthur and the knights of Camelot, traveling around putting on renaissance fair like bike shows. So you get the biker tropes of wanting freedom and what not mixed with jousting duels. It shouldn’t work, but it does with both Ed Harris putting in a strong, early leading man performance, and make-up effects legend Tom Savini being equally strong in the main supporting role. Keep a sharp eye out for Stephen Kings cameo, he would later collaborate with Romero on the second film of the deal, CREEPSHOW. Anyway, this one was good, and the Shout Factory Blu-Ray looks stupendous with some nice special features.
182 07-28 Vicious Lips (1983) 2/5
I nearly gave this one 3 out of five. It’s a cheap Sci-Fi comedy about an all girl band that gets a once in a lifetime shot as a high profile gig and gets into all types of wacky trouble trying to get there. The performances are way too broad to be campy, and the humour all falls flat. It’s so EIGHTIES in it’s look and feel it gags you with a spoon. That said, the songs are actually really good! It throws you for a loop. If there was more band and less shenanigans, it would actually be a really good movie. Despite being dirt cheap, the production values are pretty good too. In the end though, it just doesn’t work.
This one was the last film in a four part CULT MOVIES VOL 1 set that also featured INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS, DEVIL’S 8, and UNHOLY ROLLERS. Putting two films per DVD means the transfers aren’t the greatest in the world, with BEE’S suffering the worse. That said, for under ten bucks it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Not even the best song!
183 07-28 Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965) 3.5/5
More samurai goodness. This one finds Zatoichi mixed up in more yakuza trouble after ripping off some gangs while gambling. It’s fun and epic like all the films manage to be and I’m yet to get tired with this amazing series. It is weird that the poster are so shit considering how good the movies are.
184 07-30 Somewhere in Dreamland – The Max Fleischer Color Classics (2002) 2.5/5
This is a nearly complete collection of the Color Classics series of cartoons, featuring all but one. This was basically Fleischer’s attempt at competing with Disney’s SILLY SYMPHONIES, and they just flat out aren’t as good. There are a handful that are great, and the animation is fine, they just overall don’t work as well. The real problem with this DVD though is the source material. All the films but the one missing are in the public domain, so the only available versions short of paying large fees for access to the negatives are TV prints, which means these all look like hell with faded, scratched and beat images. It’s better than nothing and for an independent release about as good as you can get. With commentaries and what not on the DVD, they really have done all they can, but when the main cartoons look like hell, all the extras in the world won’t help. All that said, one of my all time favourite cartoons is on here!
185 07-31 The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) 4/5
I remember seeing this one when it first came out and being left flat. Being a big fan of the Coen brothers previous films, especially MILLERS CROSSING and BARTON FINK, this one just seemed silly. It still does, but it really works perfectly as a revisiting to the Frank Capra films like MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, with the satire being that of corporate culture that was rearing it’s head. I had also forgotten how amazingly breathtaking Jennifer Jason Leigh is in this one, perfectly nailing the rapid fire dialog. Add in Bruce Campbell is a supporting role and this one is little gem in the Coen brothers filmography.
Phew! Are you all still with me? Here is my tally for July:
32 Watched, 31 First Timers, 0 In Theaters
Finally! I managed to not only watch the equivalent of one movie a day, but I managed to watch new movies per day! Hooray! Here are my numbers from July 2013, for comparison:
47 Films, 40 First Timers, 2 Theater
Dang! Last year I was doing a regular movie night once a week where we would get in at least three movies. Who wants to start up a local movie night in Edmonton? Anyone?!?
I’m currently at 185 films watched, compare to 280 that was this time in 2013. I’m 100 movies off target. No need to wonder if this is a good thing or bad.
My pick for best of the month is a tie between ACE IN THE HOLE and NEBRASKA, with SUGAR COOKIES, the Ernie Kovacs Collection and those ZATOICHI movies being runners up.
That’s enough for now, share, suggest, comment, etc.