Movie A Day: Secrets Of The Triad Women Ups

Moving into the third week of Summer Cold and now trying not to spiral into depression over it. It’s been tough, I’m covering the warehouse at work, it’s tough when you can’t breath. Anyway, movies!

223 07/16 Secrets from Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks (2007) 3.5/5   A really well done documentary on the making of the TV series. Talks to pretty near everyone that should have been in it, with the exception of David Lynch which isn’t much of a surprise.


224 07/17 The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) 4/5   Humphrey Bogart stars as an painter who may be poisoning his wives for inspiration. Bogart is fantastic in this one, and Barbara Stanwyck more than holds her own opposite him. She plays an absolutely lovely woman, which only seems strange when you’ve seen her in dozens of pre-code films playing gloriously manipulative bitches. Man, I love Stanwyck. Anyway, this one is pretty great and worth your time.  


225 07/18 Hail The Conquering Hero (1944) 4/5   Preston Sturges nails another movie. This one about a small town boy who flunks out of the Marines, but ends up being hailed a hero against his will upon his return. Every joke lands, the political commentary is razor sharp and holds up, star Eddie Bracken is perfect in the bewildered lead and I fell in love with Ella Rains. What more can you ask for in a movie?


226 07/18 Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) 4/5   You might think an early Takashi Miike Yakuza picture would be a bit run of the mill and you would be wrong. Really wrong. This one is as bonkers as his more well known films, only playing with Yakuza tropes. Basic plot is the old standard where a cop’s brother has started working with a gang specializing in organ harvesting. There’s more than that going on. The first in a trilogy, I’m hoping the others are as good.


227 07/19 The Clock (1945) 2.5/5   Judy Garland gets a serious non-musical role in this one, starring as a secretary in New York who stumbles into soldier on leave before shipping out. It’s basically like the Before Sunrise series, with the two wandering around falling in love except it’s pretty near charmless and there’s too many bits. A milk delivery scene goes on way too long. I found Robert Walker as the soldier annoying and none of it really worked for me.


228 07/19 Rainy Dog (1997) 3.5/5   The second film in the Black Triad Trilogy has no narrative connections to the first film. This one deals with a Japanese hitman stranded in Taiwan who discovers that he has a child. There is zero sentimentality to this one, it’s got a really bitter feel to it and while not as gleefully bonkers as the first film, this one manages to stick with you.


229 07/21 The Women (1939) 3/5   The most striking thing about this film should be that there are zero men featured in it. I don’t believe you see a single male the whole time, you certainly never hear them. That said, the most striking thing ends up being the shocking array of mysterious hats the leads all wear. The other striking thing is Joan Crawford is almost a bit role but she manages to steal the entire film. Which is saying something considering the strong cast. (I’m also still in love with Paulette Goddard.)


230 07/21 Ley Lines (1999) 3.5/5   Final film in Takashi Miike’s Black Triad Trilogy is another stand alone film, this time dealing with a group of Chinese/Japanese youths in Japan going to Tokyo in an attempt to get some money to leave the country. It’s interesting that the real theme of the trilogy isn’t Yakuza/Triad warfare or gang stories as it is about people stuck in a place they don’t feel like they belong. It makes for three distinct films exploring similar aspects as opposed to traditional film series. They all work in their own way.


231 07/22 The Seven-Ups (1973) 3.5/5   A sort of unofficial sequel to the The French Connection, this one sees Roy Scheider leading a police task force with a license to pretty much break the law in order to catch criminals. It plays it pretty straight and ends up being better than the actual sequel to The French Connection. A good crime plot and a spectacular car chase in the middle make it worth checking out.

 

That’s all I got this week.

Movie A Day! 086-090 : Don’t

A blurb on the news just now showed a 30 year old cat. 30 years old. It was a cat, not a puddle of cat fur, but a live cat. I thought my old cat Dickie did good getting to 18-19. 30? I can’t get my head around it. Wouldn’t that be like living to 200? Who wants to live that long? I’m going to have nightmares.


086 03-08 Broken Oath (1977) 3.5/5
It’s international women’s day, so what better film to watch than one starring Angela Mao kicking the shit out of a bunch of guys? This one starts off pretty grim, with a woman having her husband killed, then sent to prison for his murder after she takes the eye out of one of the murderers while he tries to rape her. She ends up giving birth to a baby daughter while in jail, and that daughter grows up to vengeance obsessed Mao who learns martial arts and befriends scorpions as pets to poison those who get in her way. It’s a gonzo kung-fu flick, but a good one. My only complaint is they seem to lessen Mao’s role as it gets later in the picture when they don’t need to, she’s awesome.


087 03-09 Strangers May Kiss (1931) 3/5
Another Pre-Code classic, this one stars Norma Shearer as a forward thinking woman of the jazz age looking for love. It’s a melodrama, and soapy as hell, but delicious all the same. Not much else to say since plot wise, it’s pretty typical; woman throws away everything for a swaggering playboy, suffers for it. Shearer does a great job in the lead, showing both strength and vulnerability as the woman who can’t seem to get a break. It’s worth checking out if you like these kind of things.


088 03-12 Hi, Nellie! (1934) 4/5
This one is the third film in the latest pre-code set from Warner Archive, but it’s not much of a pre-code film. That said, it’s a hell of a newsroom type detective story. Paul Muni plays the managing editor of a newspaper who get’s busted down to writing the Heartthrob column (writing under the pseudonym “Nellie”) after miss-calling a story in which it appeared that a bank founder ran off with $500,000. It’s part daffy comedy, part investigative detective story, and one hell of a whirlwind. Paul Muni was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen, and there is nothing old fashioned about his performance here. Muni is easily ground zero for the type of performance that would be carried on by Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert De Niro, and others. Really great stuff, this one gets a solid recommend.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
089 03-13 The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) 4/5
Monster movies were out by the fifties, replaced by Sci-fi terror for the atomic age. Giant bugs, alien invaders, and the king of them all Godzilla would debut the year that Creature came out. The Creature was the last of the Universal Monsters, the last iconic character to get it’s own series of films. Archaeologists find a weird fossil of a claw sticking out of a rock, and go in search of the skeleton. This leads them to the black lagoon off the amazon, and they discover that the creature behind that claw is actually kicking around. For a rubber suit, the Creature is amazing! Tons of under water action, and the actor/stuntman playing the creature do a great job giving him character. Lots of great set pieces, goofy scientific explanations, and a pair of leads trying to outdo each other, one pulling an odd Chuck Heston vibe, the other a ruthless not quite Kirk Douglas. Well worth watching, just like all the other monster movies from Universal.

 
090 03-14 Don’t Go In The Woods… Alone (1981) 3/5
This one won’t be for everyone, or possibly anyone reading this blog. A super cheap slasher about a group of kids getting killed by a maniac in the woods. That’s the whole plot too, 4 youg people, wandering around in the woods, getting attacked. Other people, also wandering around in the woods, get attacked as well. There’s no character development, mystery, nothing, just people getting killed. The kill scenes are more ambitious than they could handle, so they throw fake blood all over the place to compensate. Hence this one became an official “Video Nasty” back in the 80’s, despite being pretty terrible. That said, if you’re a fan of the genre, this one is so completely shit that it manages to be oddly dreamlike and “good” to watch. It’s not good, it’s not so bad it’s good, it’s mostly just bad. Bad on all levels, from acting, to the effects, to pacing, to flare from the film being loaded into the camera wrong. So I don’t know why I “liked” it. The Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray is as good as this film is likely to ever look.

Some good movies in this batch. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Creature at this point. It always entertains. Beautifully filmed. I finished Patton Oswalt’s new book, SILVER SCREEN FIEND a couple days ago. It’s a memoir detailing a 4-5 year period where he was hooked, bad, going to the movies. Racking up my kind of numbers. It’s a cautionary tale. I wanted to check off the films he lists in the back. I’m in deep, the movies will be the death of me.