Movie A Day! 026-030: “The Walls of Jericho”

So the weather has been insanely good for this time of year this past week, averaging around 5C most days, even having light rain. It shouldn’t be nicer than about -8C. Now I hate the cold, don’t get me wrong, I plan on moving to gentler climates. This unnatural, nice, spring like weather of the past week and a bit is more spooky than enjoyable to me. Yeah, global warming keeping us out of the -40C torture is nice to yuk about, but seeing as this is the second year in a row where this chinook like wave has happened in January, it’s leaves me feeling weary of the future. Meanwhile, scientists have ticked the “Doomsday Clock” two minutes closer to midnight. The bastards.

Let’s watch some movies!


026 01-18 It Happened One Night (1934) 4/5
Easily one of the most derided genre in films is the “Romantic Comedy.” The plots and actors are often interchangeable, you pretty much know how it’s going to end before it starts. Well, they all pretty much started here. Frank Capra makes one of the first screwball comedies, and it’s a smart, funny, and yes, romantic film. Claudette Colbert escapes from her rich father’s yacht and is trying to get to New York to reunite with her dopey husband that she eloped with. Along the way she runs into floundering newsman Clark Gable and the fun begins. It totally works, both the comedy of “manners” (Sex. This film is all about the politics of sex) and the slow, burning love story. It’s the first film to sweep the major awards at the Oscars, and Capra will go on to even greater pictures with a social conscience like “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”.


027 01-19 Orson Welles: The One Man Band (1995) 4/5
This is the final, full length documentary on Orson Welles that was featured on the Criterion Collection disc for F FOR FAKE and it’s a good one. It looks on all the post F projects Welles worked on, and never completed. Featuring fragments and clips shot for all types of films, it’s a bit heartbreaking to watch. Some of it, like Welles reciting lines from MOBY DICK don’t even really make sense since they don’t look like any kind of film, but are still completely captivating to watch. I’d take a book on tape version read by Welles. There’s also a lot of cool clips of Welles performing magic tricks and of course, interviews with Welles. It’s all good, and worth checking out, especially now as it seems like they’ve figured out the logistics to release his last mostly completed film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Fingers crossed anyway.


028 01-19 The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) 3/5
Not much to talk about with this one. It’s the fourth film in the Mummy series of Universal Monster movies, and the third to feature Kharis wandering around looking for Princess Anaka. Lon Chaney Jr. is back as the mummy, but in terrible “Burned Mummy” make-up that looks like they smeared mud all over his head. It drags along, but has a genuinely surprising and corny final act that actually makes it really worthwhile to watch.


029 01-22 Frank Capra’s American Dream (1997) 4/5
The meatiest of the special features on the IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT disc from Criterion, a feature length documentary on the the director. Like all good documentaries on the movies, this one features just the right amount of films clips to balance the talking heads. It leaves no film unturned while exploring the darker side of Capra’s personality since he dealt with bad depression all his life while making the idealistic films in the the history of the medium. My problem with films like this is it makes me want to rewatch all the films, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON should be mandatory viewing for anyone even thinking of entering politics.


030 Noon Wine (1966) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah hit the skids after MAJOR DUNDEE, managing to get blacklisted in Hollywood. This is a standalone story he shot for television, adapting the screenplay himself and directing. It tells a compact story of a dairy farmer (Jason Robards, who is typically great in this) who hires a Swede who’s a bit of an oddball to do all the heavy lifting on the farm since his wife (Academy award winning legend Olivia de Havilland, also typically great) is having health problems. It’s surprisingly warm for a Peckinpah film, but does take a relentless, dark turn that is surprising now, I can’t imagine what it must of been like when it aired in 1966. It ended up being a hit, Sam won awards for the script and direction, and moved on to make THE WILD BUNCH and solidifying himself as one of the great mavericks in Hollywood history. Ends up being a good film tossed on as a bonus feature on the Twilight Time release of THE KILLER ELITE.

I wonder why we no longer have anthology shows on television? At a time where HBO and the like are making better movies with series like GAME OF THRONES and THE WIRE then the actual movies, you’d think some network would block out an hour long spot to give filmmakers and playwrights a shot to have creative control to tell a story. I think the last ones we got were TWILIGHT ZONE type reboots, which is fine, but I can’t help but think a more wide open format would be at the very least interesting, if not great. Someone write Hollywood and TV a letter.

Until next time.

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Movie A Day! 011-020

So in typical fashion during the holidays, some dumb family stuff went down. I nearly made it through unscathed, but New Years day, people decided to get shitty for all the wrong reasons. I wont get into details since none of it really directly effects me, but it made me realize that I hated hearing the drama and I don’t really need to hear it. Which got me thinking about social media. Do I really need to be plugged into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever else all day and all night long via my cellphone? Especially since I spend all day on a PC at work, and more than a fair share at home. So I decided to pull the plug on social media on my cell phone. So when I’m away from the computer, I am away from the “noise”. Sounds good right?

It sucks. Twitter is pretty much “The News” now, if you follow the right feeds. I’m so use to being plugged in that my brain is all short circuited by not having all the feeds at my finger tips, and the convenience of instagram to look at cat pictures, or check out Vice news while standing in a line or on the bus. And this disconnected “What am I Missing?” panic is while still regularly checking in on all of it throughout the day. It’s weird right? This must be what addiction feels like. Have any of you tried cutting the computer cord as far as social media goes?

Movies! (and television specials)

011 01-05 Son Of Dracula (1943) 3/5
Okay, I’m giving this a three out of five which in my ratings means it’s pretty good and I’d probably watch it again. I’m going to watch it again because it’s from the Universal Monster cycle and I’m always watching these films at some point, but it really isn’t that good of a movie. Lon Chaney Jr. get’s a crack at playing a vampire, as he stars as Count Alucard, the son of Dracula. See what they did there? I told you it wasn’t that good of a movie. The thing is, it’s so wonky, it could have been a good movie but the casting stinks. Chaney Jr. is a terrible Dracula, but Universal wanted him to be a “Man of a Thousand Faces” like his old man so he got the push. Frank Craven (don’t worry, there’s no need for you to have heard of him, I had to look him up) as the Doctor that figures things out is so homespun and folksy that it doesn’t help any either. So you get a dopey, miscast vampire picture with a some good ideas (like DRACULA’S DAUGHTER, this one too has a women that ultimately takes control) and some cool effects that is fun but really just doesn’t work. So a good “bad” film it ends up being, but certainly not essential.

012 01-06 41st People’s Choice Awards (2015)1.5/5
Stumbled into watching this one. It was boring. A bunch of people I barely recognize from shows I don’t watch got awards. It was hosted by the stars of MOM, some sitcom I’ve never even heard of but one of them is Anna Faris from the SCARY MOVIE series. I like her, but she is a terrible host. Favourite movie was MALEFICENT, so that’s about enough said about this one.

013 01-08 Elvis (The ‘68 Comeback Special) (1968) 5/5
014 01-08 Elvis – 1st Sit Down Show (2004) 4/5
It was The King’s birthday, so we spun this one. The “Comeback Special” has to be one of the most electrifying things to have ever aired on TV. Elvis performs in front of a live audience for the first time in 8 years with everything to prove, and he completely succeeded in relaunching his career after becoming a parody of himself (not for the first time) making those dopey movies. The final performance of “If I Can Dream” completely holds up today message wise. Forget all the jokes, the jumpsuits and stories, and check out the link and see an artist perform with the type of complete conviction rarely seen.

The sit down show is one of many special features on the DVD set. Elvis recorded two “informal jam” sit down performances and two “Stand-up” solo performances in front of studio audiences while recording the special. This is the complete footage of the first sit-down show, finding Elvis reunited with DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore who he performed and recorded with in 1956. It’s raw, it’s messy, and it’s staggering to see Elvis stumble over stories and then effortlessly turn it on and nail a song.

015 01-09 The Raid 2 (2014) 4.5/5
So how do you top one of the best action films ever made? You don’t, you go “The Godfather Part II” route and create a film with more depth. It shouldn’t work in the action genre, but fuck me, these guys managed to add a twisty turny, noirish gangland plot without compromising all the kickassery that you can find in the first film. It’s pretty much the perfect martial arts movie and highly recommended.

016 01-10 August: Osage County (2013) 3/5
This one kept getting trailered at the start of blu-rays (new word alert! When a trailer for a film is constantly being shoved at the start of a DVD/Bluray, it’s getting “Trailered”. Someone write Webster!) and got me interested enough that I decided if I ever saw it on sale cheap I would pick it up. Mainly due to being a long time fan of Juliette Lewis. Anyway, it popped up for $5, which is as cheap as it gets these days. It’s good. It’s a southern drama based on a play that manages to not feel too much like a play while you watch it. It’s rather soapy and melodramatic, but everyone is really good in it, and I’m biased to think Lewis was really good in a smaller but complicated role as the little sister. Oh, it’s about a bunch of sisters reuniting with their bitch mum over a family tragedy. Juliette Lewis plays the little sister. Did I mention Juliette Lewis was in this? It was good and fan fave Benedict Cumberbatch is in it too.

017 01-11 Doctor Who S02E01-3 Planet of Giants (1964) 2.5/5
Since Who is so stand alone in it’s stories, and the BBC actually sell them as separate films instead of seasons, I figured I might as well count the classic Who as their own thing. This is the season 2 opener, and it was ambitious in scope but just didn’t work. The TARDIS futzes while landing on contemporary earth causing it and it’s passengers to arrive about ant size. This sets off a plot about someone who’s developed an insecticide that is capable of killing all insects. It’s just too much of a collision of two different plots and just never works.

Tina Fey, Margaret Cho, and Amy Poehler.

018 01-11 72nd Golden Globes (2015) 3/5
The only reason to watch this is for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. They nailed the opening like no others have nailed an award show opening before. Sadly, as the show dragged on, they appeared less and less which made the show less fun to watch.

019 01-12 The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) 3/5
Yup, still watching the old Universal Horror films. Down to one a week, they’ve taken the place of my beloved Zatoichi. This one makes zero sense as far as the Invisible Man series goes since while the Invisible Man has the name “Griffin” like his predecessors, he is no scientist and ends up getting invisibility via a mad doctor played by John Carradine. If you can get past that, it’s pretty damned good. Griffin was ripped off, possibly thought killed by partners in a diamond mine deal gone wrong. It’s years later and he’s recovered his memory, and is looking for his cut. A very noirish plot for a horror film, that’s balanced by some really wonky comedic elements and the best special effects yet. Sadly, this is the last of the Invisible Man cycle, he’ll only show up on comedy bits now, which we’ll get to eventually.

020 01-13 Charlie Brooker’s 2014 Wipe (2014) 3/5
Pretty self explanatory this one. Charlie takes a look at the news year that was 2014. If you don’t know who Charlie is (if you’re outside of the UK you probably don’t, I learned of him from The Farwall.) you should acquaint yourself with his work since he’s arguably doing some of the best TV, period. Anyway, this one wasn’t as funny as past years, and frankly, that it was funny at all is a miracle when you consider the constant horrors that seemed to be coming weekly last year. So it’s worth a watch, plus Shitpeas and Chunk are back and brilliant, and the only misstep is the totally shit song he ends it with.

There it is. Instead of posting every Monday I thought I’d post every ten films. Ten seems too long though so I think I’ll do it every 5 films. Thoughts?