Movie A Day! 141-151: Sprout Wings Super Soul Brother!

So much for getting the blog under control. This one looks longer than it is, but it’s still pretty long. I watched some double feature stuff that hit around the five film marks and didn’t want to split them into two blogs. So you get a little extra and I’ll try to get this thing back to the fives next time.


141 04-27 Supersoul Brother (1978) 2.5/5
“Wild Man” Steve takes a page from Rudy Ray Moore’s DOLEMITE playbook and tries to make a his own blaxploitaton action comedy. He fails in almost every regard. Steve plays a wino who gets picked up by a couple of thieves to be injected with a super serum so he can be used to rob a jewel safe. It’s dirt cheap, the acting is atrocious, but it does have it’s charms as both a spoof on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (the original title, and the one on the print on Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD is THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER) and for the gusto of Wildman himself who tries his darn-dist to spin straw into gold and fails pretty much completely. A hell of a time capsule, and as the first in Vinegar Syndromes collaboration with the American Genre Film Archive, it’s going to be fun to see what they bring out next.


142 4-28 A Life In Dirty Movies (2013) 3.5/5
A pretty good documentary on Joe Sarno, one of the first and best of the sexploitation filmmakers at the dawn of the genre. This one mostly deals with Sarno at the end of his life trying to get one last film financed. I would of preferred more of an overview since I can only imagine some of the stories he has, but what we do have in here is still interesting. Having people like John Waters, Jamie Gillis and Annie Sprinkle on hand to discuss Sarno and his work also helps to keep the film moving. Now we need someone to tackle restoring Sarno’s surviving films.


143 4-30 Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980) 3/5
Les Blank skips the profiles of people and goes straight to food and music with this one. It’s a history of garlic, showing many of the ways it is prepared as well as the folklore. Some of the fanatics come off a bit hippie dippy and crackers, but it is a fun watch. Since it’s literally about the food, this one is missing the heart found in his other pictures.


144 05-01 When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) 3/5
A pretty good chop socky feature starring Angela Mao about Koreans revolting against Japanese rule. Lots of different styles of martial arts are in view, and it also features Jhoon Rhee, known as the father of American Taekwondo. So there’s lots of fun to be had in this one.


145 05-02 Little Miss Innocence (1973) 2.5/5
146 05-02 Teenage Seductress (1975) 2.5/5
This is a pair of softcore features from Chris Warfield that Vinegar Syndrome put out in their DRIVE-IN COLLECTION. The first features a pair of hippie girls who shack up and torture an older music executive when he picks them up hitchhiking in LA. It’s the most porn-y of the two since they emotionally abuse him with constant sex, and it’s as sleazy as it sounds. TEENAGE though downplays the sex to be more messed up dramatically as it features a woman who is out to find her father that skipped out when she was born, in order to sleep with him and try to ruin his life that way. Did I mention it was messed up? Anyway, the pair are actually pretty decent watches since they play more serious than the usual goofy that is sexploitation, and are looking great in these DVD restorations.


147 05-02 Escape From New York (1981) 3.5/5
John Carpenter’s cult classic features a breakout role for Kurt Russell who stars as Snake Plissken who in the future dystopia of 1997 has to retrieve the President of the United States who has crashed into the prison island of Manhattan. It makes zero sense, but Carpenter and Russell totally pull it off. I don’t love this one as much as others, but I have no knocks against it, it delivers and the cast featuring genre legends like Lee Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes doesn’t hurt either.


148 05-02 Champagne For Breakfast (1980) 3.5/5
Chris Warfield again, this time with a later porno chic effort that manages to work. The script, about a guy who plays gay in order to get a job as a chauffeur/bodyguard to a young woman who has recently become vice president of an ad agency, genuinely works on it’s own both dramatically and as a comedy. The actors, featuring stars like Leslie Bovee, John Leslie and Kay Parker all have the chops to pull it off, they could of cut the sex out and still had a decent late seventies comedy. A short comedy though since ther is a ton of sex in this one, which makes the story working aspect of it all the more unusual. Typical of everything they put out, the Vinegar Syndromes presentation is top notch.


149 05-03 Sprout Wings And Fly (1983) 4/5
150 05-03 Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991) 4/5
151 05-03 My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1995) 4/5
Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank. SPROUT features fiddle player Tommy Jarrell, in his eighties when it was shot, telling stories of life in the Blue Ridge mountains (nearly all of them about whisky and death), and playing a ton of amazing fiddle songs. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and Jarrell is one hell of a storyteller. This Les Blank blu-ray set just never fails to please. JULIE was shot at the same time, and is a short film featuring Tommy’s older sister telling stories and singing a couple of songs, while MY OLD FIDDLE is more of Tommy playing and talking. As a whole, they are not only a entertaining films, but a record of a lost time.

See? It wasn’t so long and at least the movies were varied eh?

Movie A Day! 131-140 : Hot Pepper Pleasure

Late posting this one, and since last week was busy, it’s a ten title affair. We should return to regular programming.

131 04-19 Dry Wood (1973) 3/5
132 04-22 Hot Pepper! (1973) 3.5/5
Another great pair of documentaries from Les Blank, both dealing with Creole life. DRY WOOD mostly features the people of a small town and a pig roast while HOT PEPPER! is a profile on Zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier. Both are pretty great, and like the previous Blank films show a joy of the simple life and community we seem to be lacking these days.

133 04-23 The Ernie Kovacs Collection Vol 2 (2012) 4/5
Another collection of Ernie’s morning, evening, specials and game shows. Similar to volume one, but a smaller collection. Still a fantastic bit of history that’s funny too. Amazing stuff.

134 04-24 Lenny (1974) 3.5/5
Bob Fosse takes a time out from musicals to do this biopic on comedian Lenny Bruce. I’ve been wanting to revisit this one since watching Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ earlier this year, and I enjoyed it about as much as I remember liking it the first time I saw it. It’s not the perfect picture, but Fosse’s direction and editing hold your attention, and Dustin Hoffman nails the intense Bruce. Worth checking out if you’re curious, but you might find it a little lacking since it doesn’t really check of the milestones of Bruce’s career.

135 04-24 Come Under My Spell (1979) 1.5/5
Another Carlos Tobalina Peekarama double feature from Vinegar Syndrome. This one finds Tobalina attempting a story! A hapless exchange student can’t score with American girls until he finds a book on hypnotism. It’s not as rape-y as it sounds, but with zero star power, piss poor acting and the typical hallmarks of Tobalina’s directing featuring out of focus shots, rough editing and to top it all off, some crewman sitting in the frame of the action, this one is a miss.

136 04-25 Tootsie (1982) 4/5
Dustin Hoffman plays a struggling, tough New York actor who to prove a point, dresses in drag to get a part on a soap opera. This one could of been painful to watch these days, but it holds up nearly perfectly. It’s laugh out loud funny, but the humour comes out of the situation as opposed to at the expense of Hoffman in drag. Mostly anyway. As a straight white guy, I might be insensitive. I loved it regardless, and Bill Murray and Teri Garr are both brilliant in supporting roles, as is Jessica Lange. The music however dates the film horrendously in the era it’s from, the early 80’s with the “Go Tootsie Go!” song that plays over montages (it is an eighties movie, it has montages) especially cloying. Not enough to ruin the film though, thankfully.

137 04-25 Lady Dynamite (1979) 2/5
The other Tobalina feature paired with COME UNDER MY SPELL, this one fares a bit better. A woman finds out that despite being faithful to her husband for ten years, she’s caught the clap. So she decides to make up for lost time and go on the prowl. It’s more polished than COME, but it’s still pretty dull stuff. I think Tobalina is the most artless of the directors that Vinegar Syndrome features. If you could ever get the sense he was trying, it could be fun to watch like an Ed Wood picture. You can tell though that he’s only interested in having product for his theater chain. To bad.

138 04-26 Blind Woman’s Curse (1970) 3.5/5
Half yakuza samurai picture, half ghost story and totally awesome. Meiko Kaji (LADY SNOWBLOOD) plays a young woman who takes over her fathers yakuza clan after he is killed. While attacking rivals for vengeance, she accidentally blinds a bosses sister, and believes herself cursed for it. That’s all in the opening minutes, and that’s the best I can figure it out since the film is bonkers. It never fully makes complete sense, but it’s a hell of a ride with some cool sword fights balanced out with horror elements and gore. Another great pick from Arrow Films to put out here in region 1!

139 04-27 Always For Pleasure (1978) 3.5/5
140 04-27 Lagniappe (2006) 3/5
Another pair of films from Les Blank, this time showing the details around Mardi Gras in New Orleans. ALWAYS is pretty much the perfect New Orleans documentary, showing a variety of parades from funeral procession to St. Patricks Day to the big Mardi Gras event itself. The best thing though is like his other documentaries, he concentrates on the music, the food and the people. So when it get’s to Mardi Gras, he shows the side street parades with the local tribes, spy boys and flag boys, it’s a side you never see on TV. LAGNIAPPE is made up of outtakes and musical performances shot during the same time that the original doc was made, and is a nice little extra glimpse.

That’s about it. The big news the past couple days of writing this is earthquakes in Nepal and more race riots, this time in Baltimore. It all makes me feel a bit helpless. I mean, I can scoot some cash to the red cross and whatever, but not much else. Awful times ahead I think, though we’re not nearly in as bad of shape as we were last year where every month seemed to spawn a new horror.

UPDATE: This is even later posting than expected. I wrote this Monday night, April 27 to post the following morning, and then got busy at work and forgot. Total failure. At least this one isn’t a lost blog and I’m posting it now. I guess this going live late at night for me will give people overseas a big thrill.

Yeah, right,

Movie A Day! 126-130 : Little Blank Safe

I ended up going to Record Store Day (Listen Records in Edmonton are wonderful hosts for such an event) and I got the four records I was hoping for, but I think this might be my last one. I can’t handle standing in line for over an hour anymore. It’s a young man’s game I guess, and at some point you should be beyond it right? How old do I need to get before I feel like a responsible adult?


126 04-17 God Respect’s Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance (1968) 3/5
127 04-17 Spend It All (1972) 4/5
128 04-17A Well Spent Life (1972) 3.5/5 Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank, and all pretty amazing in their own way. GOD is a look at the first “Love-In” in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1967. If you have ever seen a documentary on the Summer Of Love, you have seen clips from this one. It is what it is, but mostly it’s hilarious as a time capsule. My only knock on this one is no live audio was recorded, it would have been neat to hear the music the bands that are shown were playing that was causing the crowd to freak out. SPEND captures the Cajun lifestyle in a small town in Louisiana with no comment, just shots of people doing what they do, fishing, eating, dancing, telling stories. It’s an amazing look at a lifestyle that was, I’m guessing, on the cusp of vanishing. You feel like you know more about life after watching it, which is some pretty brilliant film making. WELL SPENT LIFE catches up with Mance Lipscomb, a legendary folk blues guitarist who is seen briefly in the Lightnin’ Hopkins documentary. It’s mostly Mance, now more of a sharecrop farmer than a blues legend, talking about what he’s learned about life and how to live it. Some great stories, amazing songs, and leaves you thinking maybe the simple life is the better one. This Les Blank set is a hell of a document on America so far, in that it deals with people and their lives without comment,outside of politics and all the other stuff that tends to be part of documentaries these days. There’s no point being made, you are more of a witness, left to make up your own mind. I’m loving this Criterion Collection set, and still have two blu-rays to go.


129 04-18 SAFE (1995) 3.5/5
Julianne Moore is fantastic in this one as a woman dealing with “environmental illness” that is debilitating her. Director Todd Haynes plays the cards close to his chest, you’re never sure if it illness is real or a psychological block to her current, empty life. It loses a bit of steam in the second half, but not enough to kill the movie and Moore’s performance should keep you interested. The recent Criterion Collection blu-ray is a pretty much perfect presentation that features a cool chat between Moore and Haynes.


130 04-18 Little Sisters (1972) 3/5
Alex deRenzy’s second shot at a narrative film plays like a hardcore John Waters picture.  A protective mum living in the woods with her two daughters has to go on a search after the two are kidnapped by a pirate gang “The Dykes”. It plays more like an underground film than a porno, though it is explicit with nearly constant group rapes scenes that are done so over the top and gleefully shot that it really plays like the early John Waters (who shot hardcore in PINK FLAMINGOS) films like DESPERATE LIVING where it’s hard to be offended despite what you’re witnessing. For a second feature, deRenzy is already showing the chops that would seal his position as a leading porn auteur, and this one really shows the blurry lines of the era were it seemed like hardcore was going to break into the mainstream. The stolen soundtrack featuring Pink Floyd and Santana is fun too. Vinegar Syndrome presents this one uncut for the first time since it’s release, and though POWDER BURNS is a bit of a bust, this PEEKARAMA set presents a key piece of history in it’s own way.

Time to finish up laundry and maybe head outside for some yard clean-up after the never ending winter we get. I guess that’s being an adult. It sucks. I got music to listen too, books to read, movies to watch, games to play.

Movie A Day! 121-125: Lightnin’ Vermeer Burns

It’s late and I need to go to bed. So not much of an intro this post. It’s a Thursday night, the wind is trying to bring in the rain. Saturday is Record Store Day, a typical day of panic for me but this year I’m not feeling it. I’ll probably go, but I’m not sure I’m going to line up before the store opens in an obsessed fever. I’ll see how I feel on the day.

Another weird mix, but I feel a documentary film jag coming on, so that should balance the odd porno review that typically sully the blog and keeps readers away.


121 04-12 The 2015 MTV Movie Awards (2015) 3/5
A bunch of people I never heard of from movies I haven’t seen won some awards I don’t care about. It was hosted by Amy Schumer, and she’s the best and as good a reason to watch anything.


122 04-15 Powder Burns (1971) 2/5
Vinegar Syndrome dug deep on their latest Peekarma release of Alex deRenzy films. This one, billed as a “Meta-Western”, was so rare I think it was once disputed to exist at all. Anyway, I believe this one is future porn auteur deRenzy’s first attempt at a narrative film after concentrating on documentaries and loops. It’s a total mess. It want’s to be a wonky Russ Meyer romp, but it never get’s going with the amateur acting and what not. Plus it does go hardcore right at the end, so it was never going to play like a Russ Meyers film. Which is too bad, because despite the heavy print damage, the thing is actually made really good. Some of the shots of the cowboys out on their horses look really good and the idea isn’t a bad one, it just never quite works despite how much you might wish it did.


123 04-15 Tim’s Vermeer (2013) 4/5
Such a simple premise for a documentary. Johannes Vermeer was one of the Dutch Masters and known for painting photo realistic paintings. Penn & Teller’s inventor friend Tim is interested in figuring out how he did it. To say Tim is mildly obsessed is being polite, but he’s just the right amount of bonkers to be pleasant to watch on his journey to see if he can replicate the techniques, with no background in oil painting. It makes for a great documentary that reminded me of the smaller pictures that Errol Morris made focusing on individuals. The biggest surprise is that there are no tricks, with Penn & Teller attached, it’s directed by Teller, I kept expecting an Orson Welle’s type hoax to pop up and thankfully it never does. Good stuff, and worth your time.


124 04-16 The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins (1969) 4/5
125 04-16 The Suns Going to Shine (1969) 3.5
This is a pair of documentary short films by Les Blank featuring blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins. They’re quite brilliant. The first is the main film, and mostly captures Hopkins in his hometown in Texas playing the blues and capturing the community around him. It’s spellbinding. There’s a long sequence where Hopkins “explains the blues” via a song he’s making up on the spot. You wish the movie was three hours long, the less than 40 minute running time isn’t long enough. THE SUNS GOING TO SHINE is a second film made at the same time (probably an outtake), detailing the story of Hopkins leaving home at the age of eight to escape the cotton fields to become a musician. This is part of the Criterion Collection’s LES BLANK: ALWAYS FOR PLEASURE, so there are actually a couple more little shorts included on Hopkins, and it’s STILL NOT ENOUGH! (Also, watch the movie LOUIE BLUIE while you’re at it.)

One of the weird things that struck me watching Lightnin’ Hopkins tonight is the realization that the form of country blues he played is pretty much a dead form now. Anyone playing like that now would probably be labeled a poseur, and as far as a Black cultural thing, Hip Hop has taken it’s place as a form of speaking of the current Black experience. What Chuck D called “The News” for Black America. It makes one appreciate films like this even more. It’s truly a record of what is now lost. I’m sure there are people paying tribute to this music, but that seems different than creating it. Watching Hopkins play, the music flows out of him, the art being as effortless as breathing. A sign of the time and the years he put into it’s craft, art isn’t effortless to anyone if they care about it. Not a tribute of what others did, but the only music he is capable of creating. It’s a blessing that Blank was able to capture a piece of it. Hopkins didn’t want to do the film, Blank won him over finally over a card game. Hopkins made up a song about beating Blank at cards as a joke. Natural brilliance that can’t be helped.

Off to bed.