Movie A Day! Snowden Beach-Fu

A full week for this post. Got in some newer films. Caught up on Beach pictures and took in most of Bruce Lee’s catalogue. Very satisfying despite being busy at work and catching another cold that wants to destroy my sinus cavities. Just read that North Korea is taking Trumps tweets as a declaration of war. Here’s hoping I get to have a horror movie challenge in October instead of Fallout 4: The Reality Show.

Here’s everything I watched.


277 09/17 Snowden (2016) 3.5/5   A bio-pic on epic whistle-blower Edward Snowden by Oliver Stone could have been a complete disaster. Stone plays it pretty straight considering the politics and it ends up being really good. On par with the Stone classics at any rate. I am a mark for Stone, jumping on and following his work since Platoon so I could be a little biased. Superb performances make this one a winner (Nicolas Cage in a character role!) It also helps that Stone presents the technical stuff in such a way that simpleton’s like me can understand it. I don’t know enough about the Snowden story to recognize if he’s as much of a perfect hero that Stone seems to be depicting, but the only real issue with this film is that there is simply no way to make computer stuff look exciting. You can juice up the soundtrack and use CGI all you want, but some twat typing on a PC is always going to look like a twat.


278 09/18 The Big Boss (1971) 3/5   Bruce Lee makes his starring debut in this one as a bumpkin that arrives at a slightly better town to work with some relatives. Seems he’s been getting into fighting trouble. Ends up the ice factory he works at is a front for heroin dealings. It’s almost frustrating how long they tease out Lee, I don’t think he throws a punch until nearly halfway through. When he does leap into action, he’s truly amazing. The difference between his style and those of the other actors, it’s apparent he’s the real deal. Which isn’t a knock on the other players. Golden Harvest mainstay James Tien does most of the heavy lifting in the first half, and he’s great. That said, the films a little rough around the edges. Directed by Wei Lo, he also did a few of the Jimmy Wang Yu films I reviewed the last couple of blogs, it’s pretty standard Golden Harvest stuff plotwise and the fights on the whole are no great shakes choreography wise. Lee makes everyone look better, including the direction, and the ample blood doesn’t hurt either to keep you interested. Ends up the minor Lee film is still well worth your time.


279 09/19 Muscle Beach Party (1964) 2.5/5   The second Frankie and Annette surf picture is plain terrible, and better than the first one. It’s terrible because Frankie and Annette are annoying. Frankie is a total douche-bag trying to play it cool and Annette is the most high maintenance girl friend I’ve ever see. It all smacks of Jersey Shore instead of California fun in the sun. It’s better than the last one because of the supporting cast. Don Rickles as a muscle man handler and Buddy Hackett as a countess’s business handler completely steal the movie from the main cast. Throw in a number from Little Stevie Wonder, and you forget how shit Frankie, Annette and their moronic friends are. Dick Dale deserved better.


280 09/20 Surf Party (1964) 2/5   Fox decided to get in on the Frankie and Annette craze by getting Bobby Vinton on a surfboard. The result is even worse than the other pictures. This is despite having actual surf instrumental music, better surfing scenes and an evil surf gang to contend with.


281 09/21 The Unfaithful (1947) 3/5   This one is a well done noir-ish tale about a woman who kills an attacker in self defense… or was it something more? Ann Sheridan stars and shows a quiet dignity in the type of role were actresses usually try to chew the scenery. Add in Lew Ayres as his typically high moral self as the lawyer/friends helping her and it’s a pretty casual film. It makes for a tight thriller and serviceable thriller.


282 09/22 Fist of Fury (The Chinese Connection) (1972) 4/5   The first great Bruce Lee picture finds the star returning to China to attend his Master’s funeral only to get mixed up in a feud with the Japanese government and systematic racism. Lee is simply fantastic in this one, starting with an epic fight at a rival Dojo to ever escalating fights throughout. Watch it.


283 09/23 Way Of The Dragon (Return of the Dragon) (1972) 4.5/5   For my money, this is the best picture Bruce Lee did, and one of the best Kung Fu films ever made. Lee steps in to write and direct as well as choreograph the fights and it all shows. Surprisingly, the first 20 minutes are played as a comedy, with Lee himself being the brunt of a series of what are essentially fart jokes. It all helps to add to the fights, and not a single scene is wasted. The climax against Chuck Norris is a classic and it all holds up perfectly.


284 09/24 X-Men Apocalypse (2016) 2.5/5   My rating feels low since when this is good, it’s really good. I just found it hard to connect to. Too much CGI spectacle distracted from this one. Which is a shame since the entire cast in this are great in every way. The constant need to up the ante in every superhero film is starting to kill the genre.


285 09/24 Enter The Dragon (1973) 4/5   Lee made all his movies in a two year period, which is insane. This one was his one Hollywood co-production, and it shows in its slickness. It gives Bruce a chance to be a bit more James Bond than he has been, and the fights for the most part are pretty good depending on who’s fighting. It reaches too high and is saddled with some non-martial artists that while they are made to look mostly good, just can’t compete against Lee and it shows. Despite that, still a fine action picture.

Advertisements

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.