The end of August! How the fuck did that happen? Where did summer go? This is a long one, so enough philosophical idiocy and on to the movies!
214 08-25 The Curtain Pole (1909) 2.5/5
This is the very first film included in a new, Hi-Def Mack Sennett collection. Whose he? He’s the guy in the picture that pretty much invented “Slapstick Comedy” and would go on to discover nearly every major figure of silent films. Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, all got a start with Sennett. He is ground zero for comedy. This one is co-directed by the legendary D.W. Griffith (director of the notoriously racist BIRTH OF A NATION) and is about a guy who buys a really long curtain pole who gets drunk and proceeds to knock people down all over the place while trying to get it home. Look, this is before there was such a thing as Hollywood or even multi-reel movies. D.W. will later be key in inventing editing as we know it, and no one will remember this goofy little movie.
215 08-27 Zatoichi’s Cane-sword (1976) 3/5
This one was once again a little different from the previous ones, just enough to keep it being interesting. Zatoichi once again get’s mixed up in all kinds of small town Yakuza intrigue. The difference in this one is that a master sword-smith informs him that his blade is used up, after one more killing, his cane-sword will break. This little nugget means that the film has a lot less action than previous entries and a much different tone in that it relies more on character work. It’s still a good film, and never boring. It is definitely slower paced though. That said, the look of this one is the best yet, it has that amped up look and style that can be found in the spaghetti westerns of the period, which makes sense since spaghetti westerns and Samurai films really go hand in hand with each other.
216 08-28 A Wind From The South (1955) 2.5/5
This one is another live television broadcast of a play. Starring Julie Harris (EAST OF EDEN and THE HAUNTING) as an Irish girl looking after the family inn with her dickhead brother. Americans are visiting, and she finds fleeting romance. As per the other plays in the set, the performances are top notch, this one even includes an Irish fiddle band complete with kids doing a fling. My problem is the melodramatic, soap-opera like plot isn’t really my cup of tea.
217 08-28 Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season 1 (2013) 3/5
If ever there was a show on TV that should be MY show, this would be it. For some reason I never got excited about it. Actually, I know why I never got excited, it’s about Agent Coulson. Why this character is so popular, I have no idea. Anyway, a Marvel comics show spawned from the superhero movies without any superheros, I don’t see the point. (Expect to see this phrase repeated if I end up watching GOTHAM, the Batman show without Batman that DC are forcing upon us next year.) Many will tell me that the point is Joss Whedon is the show runner so it will be amazing. Whedon’s hand is definitely apparent in that everyone has supermodel looks and all the characters have the same voice. Just like Buffy and Angel and his best work, FIREFLY! Now, alllllllll that said, I didn’t hate it. The first episode is so shit terrible quality wise I nearly stopped watching (network TV soundtracks/sound mixes are an annoying pet peeve of mine which is why I’ve never seen LOST), and most of the first half of the season is largely uninspired. I held out since people I trust (nerd, geeks and other losers) kept telling me how good it was, and the second half of the season is indeed better and actually manages to be good. I’m torn between thinking the big twist is a cheat or inspired writing. It’s not cumming-my-pants-off great like BREAKING BAD, but it’s good enough that I’ll watch it next season.
218 08-29 Hotel Chevalier (2007) 3.5/5
219 08-29 The Darjeeling Limited (2007) 3.5/5
Yup, more Wes Anderson. Darjeeling tells the story of three brothers reunited a year after their father’s death on a spiritual journey through India to see their absent mother. This one left me flat the first time round, but I really enjoyed this second viewing. That’s why you should watch some movies more than once I guess. HOTEL CHEVALIER is a short film about one of the brothers, Jason Schwartzman’s character that leads into the main film but is separate enough that it makes sense that it was released separate. Anyway, it’s good, even rat faced asshole Adrien Brody is good in this.
220 08-29 All Night Long (1975) 2/5
This was the first film in a PEEKARAMA double feature by Vinegar Syndrome that features two films by the same director, and both starring porn legend John Holmes. This one, about a competition between two guys who have to bed a bunch of women in order to win the “Golden Rod” award pretty much stunk. Holmes couldn’t be more disinterested in this one, his typically never quite hard monster dong is so flaccid that he has to literally stuff it into the women. It’s as horrific to watch as it sounds. No wonder porn has a bad name. The plot never elevates the film to proper “Porno Chic” status since it’s a loop carrier of the most base kind with the linking narrative never working as a comedy. I’m going to guess this didn’t actually win “Best Erotic Film” as the poster claims.
221 08-29 Punk Rock (Soft Version) (1977) 3/5
222 08-30 The Pleasure Palace (Soft Version) (1979) 2/5
I needed a palate cleanse after ALL NIGHT LONG so I watched this double feature by porn auteur Carter Stevens. Typically, softcore versions of hard core porn should be avoided. The reason I picked this one up was because of PUNK ROCK. To pad the running time lost by cutting out the hardcore, he added in clips of bands playing at punk mecca Max’s Kansas City in New York. In fact, when Steven’s was in pre-production, the main band “The Stilettos” had Debbie Harry singing. She left prior to filming to form “Blondie”, and sadly, The Stilettos and the other bands (The Squirrels have the coolest jackets ever) left in the film are more bad than good. It’s still a heck of a time capsule of New York punk though. The film isn’t bad either. A detective story where a PI is looking for a missing girl. the first 20 minutes or so is hampered editing wise since it was more porn than plot, after that though it’s pretty much a cop film with the odd sex scene that needs editing to keep things softcore.
Pleasure Palace suffers more from being cut to softcore since it’s the story of a New York cop and his lawyer buddy buying out a whore house and running it. So really, plot wise, it’s flat out porn and pretty near the first two thirds of the picture play like a mid-level raunchy comedy with the good bits cut out. Then something happens. Legend Jamie Gillis shows up as a crime boss wanting to move in on the whore house, and after one more edited sex scene, the film plays out for nearly thirty minutes with nary a porn bit. And it’s a really good thirty minutes of crime film too. Gillis is dead solid in the roll, and the other main leads Eric Edwards and Robert Kerman (Cannibal Holocaust) are just as good as the entire tone of the film shifts. I’m curious to pick up the porn version, I bet it plays better and would make it a 3.5/5 picture.
223 08-30 Blue Thunder (1983) 3.5/5
224 08-30 Ride With The Angels: The Making of Blue Thunder (2006) 3.5/5
So, I think I was ten years old when I first saw Blue Thunder, and let me tell you, it was one of the greatest movies ever made. Ever. So revisiting it thirty years later, it’s not. It’s a bit hackney in the way eighties action films seem now, but… it still totally works. Despite the hacky-ness, once things really get rolling in the third act, time travel took place and I got wrapped up in it. Geezer, modern day Russ can also appreciate the cast. Daniel Stern in a very early, pre-C.H.U.D roll, Malcolm McDowell as the asshole baddie and character actor Warren Oats is tremendous in one of his last rolls.
The making of on this one is done by Charles de Lauzirika. You might not know the name, but DVD fans know that the best documentaries to be found on their favourite movies tend to come from him, especially on Ridley Scott discs. This one is no different, is pretty near feature length when watched all at once and is as fun and entertaining as the film it’s about. To be completely honest, it was the promise of the de Lauzirika doc that sold me on the Blu-ray. (and it was $10)
225 08-30 Tapestry of Passion (1976) 3/5
This one is the second film on that disc with ALL NIGHT LONG and is a way better movie. This one stars John Holmes as “Johnny Wadd”, his iconic detective character that made him the biggest adult star, well, aside from his monster cock. I’ve never seen a Johnny Wadd film, so I don’t know how this compares to the others in the series. On it’s own, it’s way more entertaining than other film on the disc, and has a better cast too with Annette Haven (BARBARA BROADCAST) and others. Not the greatest film ever made, but makes the disc worthwhile at least. In one of the oddest things I’ve seen in a porn film, the movie ends about a third of the way into a threesome with the three main stars. Who’s editing choice was that? My only critique with Vinegar Syndrome is that their films are so fucking bonkers, they need liner notes or something to explain what you’re watching.
226 08-31 Cry Wilderness (1987) 2.5/5
227 08-31 In Search of Bigfoot (1976) 3.5/5
Speaking of Vinegar Syndrome being weird, here’s a PG rated Drive-In collection of bigfoot movies. BIGFOOT MOVIES! The first, CRY WILDERNESS, is terrible. It’s about a boy who has befriended Bigfoot, though no one believes him because why would you? The boys off in a boarding school because his dad is a forest ranger and has no time to raise him. Bigfoot shows up in the middle of the night as a weird vision to warn him that his dad is in danger, so the kid hitchhikes to the forest and who cares. It’s a feel good family film about a boy and bigfoot that manages to just be strange since everyone is overdubbed in a most horrendous fashion. This makes for many scenes of adults laughing at animals like raccoons making a mess of a kitchen like they are on a strange acid trip. Why was this film made? Why is it over dubbed when the actors are speaking english? Why would VS release it? These are all questions I can not answer.
IN SEARCH OF BIGFOOT is a straight up documentary about a guy who has seen bigfoots all over the god damned place and fuck it, he’s gonna catch a Squatch and prove the haterz wrong! As far as gonzo documentaries from the seventies go, you can do a lot worse. It’s hilarious, but the dudes commitment to catching a bigfoot is so strong, that when it all ends in tears it’s kind of touching. In true seventies fashion, they have to have a wet t-sirt waterfall frolic for the grindhouse pervs. Awesome.
228 08-31 One Hour Photo (2002) 3.5/5
229 08-31 Lensing ‘One Hour Photo’ (2013) 3/5
Spun this one for a second viewing. Probably not the greatest film to watch of Robin Williams since it’s so incredibly dark, but fuck it, he’s amazing in it. You’ve seen the film so I won’t explain it other than to say that if you think it’s dated due to the fact that no one uses film in their cameras anymore in the digital age we live in, you can pretend it’s an early assignment of Agent Coulson’s from before he was recruited to be an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D since he’s in it in a bit part. I’m including the documentary on this one too since it ended up being directed by Charles de Lauzirika and was as interesting as you would expect. It was also completely different in approach compared to the BLUE THUNDER one, which is why he’s so damned good at this making of stuff.
Few! That was a bunch of movies huh? I like that dumb SHIELD show and squeezed in an awkward Robin Williams movie in light of his passing. Let’s look at the numbers.
44 Watched, 32 First Timers, 0 In Theaters
Not bad, this is more on track to last year!
38 Films, 36 First Timers, 3 Theater
For the first time this year, I beat last years numbers! Oh, some might think I’m cheating counting a 8 minute silent film and “making of” documentaries on DVDs, but I also watched 3 TV shows! So I did good this month.
Best of August: THE ASSOCIATION and SILICONE VALLEY.