Movie A Day!: The Red, Mad, Mad World

I’m a day late posting this thing this week. Sorry film fans, it’s a long weekend up here in the Great White North and it ends up that there is a never ending amount of plants and crap that need to be dug up, dug in, and replaced. I like the sun and outdoors, I’m not great at bending over so this weekend has been more chore than joy.  Here’s all the movies I watched up to this very moment since I finished the last one this morning.


145 05/15 The Red House (1947) 3.5/5   Edward G. Robinson stars in this one as the patriarch of an out of the way farm who absolutely does not want you mucking about in his woods and going near the Red House. The whole film is about what terrors may lie in those woods, and aside from some pacing issues it manages to be pretty tense stuff that fills you with a sense of doom and dread. Part country noir, part horror film, it’s certainly worth a look.


146 05/16 The Night Porter (1974) 3/5   I’ve been hearing a lot about this one for ages so it was nice to finally give it a look. Dirk Bogarde is The Night Porter, working in a hotel when he recognizes customer Charlotte Rampling as the women from the concentration camp he was abusing while working there during the war. It’s interesting and well done, but at the end of the day it’s really just an arty, serious take on “Love Camp 7” and all the other Naziploitation that was out at the time, just elevated with some fine direction from Liliana Cavani and the performances. It’s well done if not a little slow.


147 05/18 Monkey Kingdom (2015) 4/5   Disneynature hits it out of the park again with this one following a pack of macaque monkeys, centring on “Mya” and her journey from the lower class life. I knew monkeys had Alpha Males that ran the pack, but I had no idea it was a proper class system that dictated who could eat what. It was pretty bonkers and made the film even more interesting than it would of been since Monkeys are hilarious. Oh, and Tina Fey does a great job with the narration too.


148 05/19 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 4.5/5   The Coen brothers take on Homer’s Odyssey and it couldn’t be better. Setting it during the great depression and filling it with folk music is a stroke of genius. George Clooney is perfect in the lead, the comedy rings true and the film flies by. I love this movie and it’s soundtrack. Highly recommended.


149 05/20 Walk The Line (2005) 4/5   Bio-pic on the life of Johnny Cash tracks his story from childhood to his success with the “Live At Folsom Prison” album, but it’s really the love story of Johnny and June Carter falling in love. Joaquin Phoenix does as great job as Cash, and Reese Witherspoon is a whirlwind as June. They also sing the songs and are flat out great despite nobody being able to truly mimic Cash’s voice. Get past that and this one is a real winner.


150 05/20 Pussycat Ranch (1971) 2.5/5   Star power can’t elevate this one above being pretty standard adult fare for the era. Billy the Kid needs a hideout and Mama needs cash for the ranch so they team up and turn it into a brothel. It’s played for laughs, and it mostly works, it’s just not that interesting.

151 05/21 Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) 3.5/5   I’ve been avoiding this one. The poster art and pictures of Audrey Hepburn and that stupid long cigarette holder bugged me, and I knew Mickey Rooney portrayed a horrible Asian stereotype. Ends up that this one was a pretty enjoyable romantic comedy. Hepburn and George Peppard are enjoyable as the leads and the only issue I had is it felt a little long. That said, there is no possible excuse for Rooney. That this kind of portrayal of a Japanese man was once considered even remotely acceptable is horrendous.


152 05/21 Here Comes The Bride (1978) 2/5   The second feature on the Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama disc is also by John Christopher and is even more unexceptional than Pussycat Ranch. This one finds a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary and the wife remembering all the guys she was with while pretending to be a virgin to her husband. It’s draggy and if not for legendary star Samantha Fox it wouldn’t have gotten even 2 stars.


153 05/22 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Extended Edition) (1963) 4/5   First time watching the roadshow version and I enjoyed the film even more. Most of the footage that was cut from the Roadshow to the general release is lost, so the fact that they were able to restore it to this level is remarkable. That said, it is a bit of a mess with photo’s and subtitles subbing in for some of the lost footage. I didn’t find it as distracting as I expected to find it and on a whole it’s really improved the flow of the movie. It’s truly “kitchen sink” film, completely jam packed with jokes and cameos, it’s well worth checking out regardless of the version you can get your hands on.

 

There it is.

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Movie A Day! 071-075: All That Jazz

So since last blog, my back went out. The past couple days I’ve been home, flat on my back. It’s getting better now, I can walk and sit with out buckling over in pain. You would think I would have had more movies watched, but I decided to catch up on TV. So you lucky mucks were saved from having a bunch of posts!


071 02-21 Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (2014) 4/5
An eight part documentary about the Foo Fighters recording their latest album sounds like a bad idea, even worse if you’re not a big Foo Fighters fan. I can kind of take them or leave them, but holy shit was this good! The conceit was that they recorded a song in a different city for inspiration, so each episode is a history of the music scene of each city. They are really good mini-histories, with tons of clips, pictures and interviews with the people from the scene, and Dave Grohl is the perfect host. From Buddy Guy talking about Chicago blues, to Dolly Parton talking about Nashville, to Doctor John (not an actual Doctor) telling the most insane story ever in New Orleans, this whole series was a real treat, even if each episode ended with a pretentious Foo Fighter video of the song they recorded.


072 02-22 The 87th Academy Awards (2015) 2/5
This one started with one of the all time great openings ever, largely due to Jack Fuckin’ Black coming out and killing it. Once Neil Patrick Harris settled into hosting, the whole thing just took a giant shit, with an over serious tone in everything from the introductions to the acceptance speeches. Not a single joke or bit by Harris landed, with a stupid “NPH Oscar Predictions” bit maybe having the worst payoff in the history of television after the longest ever set-up. The only saving grace to the never ending thing was the music performances. My favourites Tegan & Sara were great, and holy shit was Lady Gaga ridiculously good in her SOUND OF MUSIC tribute. Hopefully next year the show gets better because you know I’m going to be watching.


073 02-26 Quicksand (1950) 3.5/5
Mickey Rooney sneaks twenty bucks out of the work till to take a bitch blonde out on the town, and it ruins his life. This is a hell of a tight film noir, lean and mean and horrible to watch since it’s so ridiculously skewed to completely fuck Rooney’s character. Plus it has Peter Lorre in a small part as a small time hood, and that’s always a good thing in a movie. Not the classiest low budget film you’ll see, but fun and worth watching all the same.


074 02-27 All That Jazz (1979) 4/5
Hard to believe, but I’m actually a big fan of movie musicals. I like the old, classic Hollywood ones though. The modern equivalent, with few exceptions, tend to get on my tits. I’m also not a huge fan of “jazz dance”, which Bob Fosse, the director of this one, pretty much invented. As a result, I’ve been avoiding this one, and it was a mistake, since it’s brilliant. Fosse turns the musical on it’s head while at the same time honoring tradition. So it plays like the classic Hollywood films (with the musical numbers being part of the story, not having characters break into song like in Broadway plays, thank Christ) while also pushing the format forward by being an autobiographical drama about life and death. You’ve read that right, it’s taking on the big stuff. No goofy romance here. The story comes out of Fosse’s life after having a heart attack scare, while working on a Broadway show while finishing up his movie LENNY. The dance numbers being hallucinations as well as bits of the show the character, Joe Gideon, is working on. It’s absolutely brilliant film making, with Roy Scheider giving an career best performance, hell, an all time great performance as Fosses stand-in Gideon. If you have never seen it, WATCH IT ALREADY!


075 Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 1 (Eight Episodes) (2015) 3/5
Binge watched this one. The story takes place post world war 2, coming from the CAPTAIN AMERICA films. It’s a great idea, and a good story. It’s largely miss-handled in tone though, never deciding if it’s a hard boiled, action packed drama, or a Joss Whedon-esque quip fest. It’s also another TV series that is largely ruined by the score. To have slap-sticky swing music play when Agent Carter is kicking the shit out of guys, but switch to more standard drama type score when she’s receiving the ass kicking seems misguided in our current culture. It’s a bit “Ain’t she cute, beating up boys… oh no, isn’t it terrible, a woman getting punched.” It totally kills the tone and pacing by being so obvious and manipulative. Which is a shame since otherwise they mostly get this one right. Anyway, no need for a second season of this one, as a stand alone it’s good enough.

Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about ALL THAT JAZZ since watching it last night. I got the Criterion Collection blu-ray, so I’m going to have to pour over all the extras.

Movie A Day! : 238-242 “Hey man, turn down the lights!”

A short one this week, only five titles. Woe is me! The week kind of got away from me, and I’ve been binge watching other stuff. That’s right, I’m going to blog Doctor Who! The first one should be this Wednesday. Sorry Asbestos, you’ll want to skip them, but you might be entertained? Movie a day ain’t going nowhere though (sadly, in every possible meaning that that phrase can mean), and there may be the odd Broken Record happening to. So don’t despair if you hate Doctor Who! It’s easy to ignore these blog posts. Though you shouldn’t!

Here’s the stuff I’ve watched this past week.

I don’t think Jim is using that mic stand in the intended way….

238 09-07 The Doors : Live At The Bowl ‘68 (2013) 3/5
This is a concert film of the Doors playing live at the Hollywood Bowl. Did you guess by the title? Widely considered to be their best filmed performance, they are in musically top notch form. The blu-ray sounds great. This is the debut of the complete concert, an edited version was previously available, and on this one they gave it a widescreen cropping instead of showing the full frame from which it was originally filmed. It’s mostly okay, but there are more than a few shots that suffer from it, where close-ups are just too close due to the cropping. Otherwise it’s good, but watch it for the music, the performance is intense and good, but visually uninspired with Morrison zonked on acid and glued to the mic stand like his life depended on it making it a bit dull visually. Seriously, you would think they were hanging out instead of performing. Fucking dope fiend hippies!

239 09-09 Requiem For A Heavyweight (1956) 4/5
240 09-11 The Comedian (1957) 4/5
Both of these are live broadcast plays from the PLAYHOUSE 90 program. Both written by Rod Serling, they both look at the weaker aspects of the human condition in unflinching ways.

REQUIEM stars Jack Palance as a past his prime boxer. Once ranked 5th in line for a title shot, now he’s so beat up, he could end up blind if he has another fight. The film deals with the scramble of his manager who’s desperate for another payday to clear up some gambling debts while Palance deals with his pride, knowing that he has nothing to show after a life of fighting. As per usual, the performances are incredible, the play moves at a quick pace and it’s impossible to not get swept up into it.

THE COMEDIAN is an entirely different beast. This one looks at live television itself, with Mickey Rooney playing a superstar comedian with the most popular show on TV. Edmond O’Brien is his head writer, burned out and trying to save Rooney’s face after his plan to steal skits written by another writer backfires. Oof, that sounds more complicated than it should. I should be better at these vague recaps. I’m not a Mickey Rooney fan, but he is incredible in this as the biggest, most egotistical star on the planet. O’Brien is no slouch either, and this really is must see TV. Plus it’s direct by John Frankenheimer who would go on to direct classics like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and the ISLAND OF Dr. MOREAU remake with Marlon Brando.

The poster is helping this movie with that kind of tag line…

241 09-12 The Long Gray Line (1955) 2.5/5
This one is a John Ford film, and his first CinemaScope production. It stars Tyrone Power as a jaunty Irish immigrant and great guy who ends up having a long career at a great place, West Point. It’s based on a true story, my problem is with Ford’s handling of it. Ford was incredibly fond of hokey Irish blarney and mythological Americana and this film is just too overboard in both respects with nothing to balance it out and actually be a great picture. It’s not a bad film, and Power and Maureen O’Hara are both good in it. It just feels very dated and of it’s time compared to Ford’s greater works.

242 09-13 Oh You Beautiful “Doll” (1973) 2/5
Here’s another sleaze fest from the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome. It’s actually the third film in a set, the other two being more horror oriented so I’m holding off to watch them in October. More on that in another blog. Anyway, this one is about an over the hill actress, the great looking and youthful Cleo O’Hara in horrible make-up and wigs, who is running an acting school as a ruse to lure young men to her apartment to fuck. It’s too porny (softcore and ludicrous) to be trashy fun, which is a shame since this Walt Davis directed vehicle kind of sits with John Water’s trash classics from the seventies, but is missing the over the top glee that make the Water’s films stand out and so much fun. The other two films in the set look even more bonkers, so I’m excited to get to them next month!

That’s about it for this week. Hopefully this Wednesday will be the Who blog debut, otherwise it will be next week. I’m trying to bank some for October. Who’s more obsessed about a blog than he should be? Blogging fills the hole in your life right? Please?

As always, comments, shares, etc are all welcomed. If this get popular enough maybe I could get free movies to review like all the other loser movie bloggers? THEY’RE NO BETTER THAN ME WITH THEIR HORSESHIT DEGREES!

The End