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.

 

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Mooooveee a day!: Immortal Epic

Thin week this week, film fans. Been going through the extras in that Twin Peaks boxset and catching up on other things, but if you read to the end you will find an absolutely fantastic documentary series that recently aired on PBS/BBC4.


171 06/12 The Immortal Story (1968) 3/5   This one was Orson Welle’s final completed fiction film, and his first in colour. Technically it’s perfect like all his films. It starts strong but I found the story wandered a bit halfway through.


172 06/14 Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014) 3.5/5   A collection of deleted scenes edited by Lynch is pretty interesting stuff and a great compliment to the main film. That said, this isn’t a film in it’s own right. It fleshes out some ideas but the main draw is that it catches up with a bunch of the cast from the TV series that didn’t make it into the film. If you’re a fan of the film and series, it’s worth a watch.


173 06/15 A Slice of Lynch (2007) 3/5   This one finds Lynch sitting round table with actors Madchen Amick, Kyle MacLachlan and producer John Wentworth as they discuss all things Twin Peaks. It’s fun and interesting, but also slightly awkward. I would have preferred solo interviews.

174 06/16 Return To Twin Peaks (2007) 2.5/5   Another short found in the complete mystery boxset is about the fan convention. It is what it is.


175 06/17 American Epic (2017) 4/5   This is a four part series documenting the birth of American Music. In the 20’s, record recording left the big cities and went rural, and by focusing on artist as diverse as The Carter Family and Charlie Patton, the story is told. Part four features Jack White and T-Bone Burnett bringing in artists to record sides on the only surviving machine. It’s fantastic stuff, but I am biased since I have loved this music since discovering The Anthology of American Folk Music 20 or so years ago.

Movie A Day!: Master Falstaff Peaks

Last night I had a dream that I went to the secret Chinese food restaurant at West Edmonton Mall. Secret because it’s where the old China Town part of the mall used to be. Just down from Bourbon Street, and to get to it you had to go through double delivery doors beside the Fuji Banana Frosty stand. The restaurant is much nicer than it sounds, with classy, modern decor. This is the third time in about 16 years I’ve gone to the restaurant. The same guy is running it and pulling customers through the delivery doors like a club hawker, leading them down the maintenance hall to the restaurant proper. The food is good, though I can tell they are on hard times. The visibility is terrible after all. You have to look for it. The wait staff were sneaking pieces off of my plate. I left without paying. None of this is real, none of this existed in the past, but I have strong memory of it. My brain takes this as “Happened”, not “Dreamed”.

Thin on the movies this week, for reasons apparent in the reviews.


167 06/09 Twin Peaks Season 2 (1991) 4/5   People consider this one as going downhill compared to the first season but I really enjoyed it this time round. It’s true, it goes for a bit of a wander once the Laura Palmer stuff winds up, but once the Windom Earl plot ramps up it’s just as good as that as what came before. The final episode is one of the best in the entire series that absolutely drips in an almost Lovecraftian horror.


168 06/10 Chimes at Midnight (1965) 3/5   I’m really torn with this one. I’ve been wanting to see it for ages, one of the final fictional films Orson Welle’s completed and a Shakespeare adaptation to boot. Technically it’s wonderful, the acting it perfect, Welles is fantastic in the lead as Falstaff. The look of the film, shots, editing, all what would expect from Welles and not hurting from a limited budget. Halfway through the film is one of the best medieval battles I’ve ever seen. The problem is I couldn’t understand it. It took me three sessions of watching, backing the film up to re-watch, I just couldn’t follow the plot. I don’t know if it’s the time of night I was watching or I’m just too dumb about Shakespeare but I couldn’t tell you anything about it plot wise. I’m giving it three stars since I think it’s better than I found it and I will give it a second chance some day.


169 06/10 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) 4/5   Time has been kind to this one. I remember how hated it was when it came out and looking at it now, I’m guessing it’s due to not being fun. Instead it’s a terrifying look at the last days of someone suffering from serial abuse from a parent and the film looks at it while asking “What if the evil that men do was an actual entity that could control us?” It’s more horror film than anything else and the only sour note I have is Chris Isaak is way over his head in the opening scenes.

170 06/11 MasterChef Canada Season 4 (2017) 2.5/5   More of the same. The nice guys finished first.

My Letterboxd profile is currently caught up and reviews appear their first now. I’ll probably shutter this blog. Be sure to follow there if you are interested in movies.

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.

Movie A Day! 369-376 – Grumpy Old Man

Here we are with the round-up! And it’s a month end one as well, hence I’m late posting it! Boy, November flew by. I got in a few movies, which is surprising since this was a busy weekend. It was Black Friday, which is an American Armageddon like event for shopping. We don’t really do it here in Canada, but the local record shops do participate in the Record Store Day event with exclusive releases. So this weekend has been a lot of record listening in my house. I also got notice that my PONO player will arrive early this week, so I have a feeling that movies will take a little slide this week too. Let’s look at what I watched, and be prepared for a bit of a bitch over the first one.

369 11-23 The American Music Awards, The Country Music Awards, The Hollywood Film Awards (2014) 1/5

I didn’t watch all of these on the one day, but over the past couple weeks. Part of looking after an older parent is you get to watch stuff that you normally wouldn’t watch. The Hollywood Film Awards has to be the biggest pile of back slapping bullshit I’ve ever seen. The winners know they won, so one of their friends gives an admiring speech and they accept the award. Ridiculous. The CMA’s was just god awful. Modern country music continues to sound like shitty hair metal power ballads from the 80’s and I hate it. The AMA’s were pretty much just as bad aside from a some good performances by Taylor Swift and some girl band I never did catch the name of, Crystal Head? I don’t know, but the rest of the acts were the shits. Give me my old garbage over this new garbage that features Lil Wayne honking like a duck with something caught in it’s throat.

370 11-24 Zatoichi Goes To Fire Festival (1970) 4.5/5
Film 21 in the series and holy shit did it not disappoint! Zatoichi is labeled to be killed by a blind Yakuza boss, and the battles of wits and swords is fantastic! There hasn’t been a single dog film yet in this collections, and this one was one of the best.

371 11-25 The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) 3/5
This one is simply good enough. Bela Lugosi is back as Ygor, and he finds Frankenstein’s other son to get the monster going again. The current Frankenstein has figured out brain transplants so things get goofy. Lon Chaney Jr. gets a crack at playing the monster and he does a great job, as does Bela. It’s all just a bit too goofy in comparison to the previous films.

372 11-27 Two Rode Together (1961) 3.5/5
This is the last film in the John Ford Columbia Pictures Collection put out by TCM, and the only one in the set that is a western. Starring James Stewart as a total asshole marshal/bounty hunter who is hired up by Richard Widmark’s army to make a deal with some evil Indians to trade back kidnapped kids. Ford supposedly hated this one, and Leonard Maltin shits on it a bit in the extra features, but I’ve seen worse. Stewart and Widmark are both great in it which helps make up for the scripts shortcomings, like the annalistic racism that it’s riddled with. It’s definitely the ugly brother to Ford’s masterpiece “The Searchers” which deals with similar themes. In the end, it’s a Ford western, if you’re a fan, it’s worth checking out.

The Goonies Movie Poster

373 11-28 The Goonies (1985) 2.5/5
Re-watched this one for the first time since seeing it in the theaters back when I was 11 years old or so. Yeash. I didn’t care for it then, and I just don’t care for it now. This ones considered a bit of a classic these days, so I was hoping to be surprised. Nope. The kids are all great, especially Sean Astin and Josh Brolin. My problem is I have no tolerance for eight kids all yelling wisecracks at and over each other for two hours. If you don’t mind the racket, there’s lots to like in this one.

374 11-28 Pretty Peaches (1978) 4/5
After Vinegar Syndrome released Pretty Peaches 2 & 3 earlier this year, I figured this one would continue to go unreleased. Low and behold, they put it out as a limited edition blu-ray with a regular DVD coming next year. Looking fantastic, it was great to see the one that spawned the sequels. While the sequels felt more like loop carriers, this one feels like a proper film with a genuinely funny story that is still packed with sex. Desiree Cousteau makes her debut in this one as Peaches, and she is perfect as the pouting and perturbed amnesiac constantly being taken advantage of in every way possible. The rest of the cast is just as good, and this one makes it clear that prior to the video era, de Ranzy was up there with Henri Paris as far as being able to make quality films that happened to be porn. This Vinegar Syndrome blu also includes clips from the only known filmed interview with de Renzy, on top of a movie looking better on disc than most mainstream films from the same era. If you like the idea of a Russ Meyer movie done hardcore, this one is the one for you.

375 11-29 F For Fake (1975) 4/5
More of an essay than a documentary, this is Orson Welles looking at Elmyr de Hory, the worlds most notorious art forger who was biographed by Clifford Irving. While in production, it was discovered that Irving forged the infamous Howard Hughes Autobiography. Welles himself is a famous fake, responsible for the War of the Worlds hoax, so it’s a film about fakes, made by a fake. It’s a whirlwind of theory, editing, all solidly in Welles hands, and it breaks your heart that Welles never had a chance to have this much control on his films since it is a wonder to behold. Cheeky, funny, interesting, and all Welles, it’s highly recommended.

376 11-30 Invisible Agent (1942) 3/5

This one finds Griffins grandson trying to avoid his grandfathers horrible legacy of invisibility only to get swept up in world war two after nazi agents track him down and try to brace him for the formula. It’s straight up WW2 propaganda, but it mostly works and is a lot of fun, especially Peter Lorre playing a Japanese agent after being typecast from his Mr. Motto role. Oh yeah, it’s pretty racist and of it’s time to.

Not a bad week, or month really. No horrible films watched, aside from those dumb awards shows. Let’s look at the final numbers.

30 Watched,  22 First Timers,  0 Theaters

Actually nailed a movie a day! I think this is the first month. Still nothing at the theaters. I just have little desire to bother going. That said, I really need to see Interstellar in the IMAX.

Let’s see how I did last year:

31 Watched, 22 First Timers, 2 Theater

Look at that, one more watched and the same amount of new films! That’s never happened. This is creepy, let’s move on.

Best of the month is: F For Fake, Pretty Peaches, all the Zatoichi films I watched and Wreck-It Ralph.

No worst of the month, other than the award shows. And maybe The Goonies though it’s really not a bad movie, just too annoying with the kids.

That’s it for now, thanks, as always for reading.

The End

 

Movie a Day! : 136-143 – A Letter Home

Right, no blog last week due to losing Dad. It’s sad, I might write a post about it all. I might not. I do have to keep the movie blog going though so here’s the first part of the month end post since I had too many titles to have only one post for the week. I’ll do the final recap for June later.

136 06-09 Breaking Bad Season 4 (2011) 4/5

Oddly enough, this continues to be great.

137 06-14 Jungle Blue (1978) 2.5/5
This one is by the director of the dreadful “Marilyn and the Senator.” It was also dreadful, but in the delightfully, gonzo way that is endlessly entertaining in its awfulness. It’s mostly a Tarzan spoof, but it’s edited so terribly it’s baffling-ly plotted. A strange mix of hardcore, crime plotting and wildlife footage that really has to be seen to be believed in that everyone of the above aspects seems to be thrown in all willy nilly. “We’ve shown too much hardcore, lets cut to the crime, now cut to animal footage, now back to crime. We forgot the hardcore, cut back to the orgy!” Yup, this one is a great, awful movie for sure!

138 06-15 Deadly Weapons (1974) 2/5
This one stars Chesty Morgan (not her real name), a Danish import notable only for her massive, freakish, 73” tits. Aside from the tits, she would be described as a “Handsome” woman. Anyway, basic plot here is a mobster gets whacked so his wife heads out to avenge his death by smothering his rivals with her massive boobage. It’s pretty terrible, Chesty is no actress and all her dialog is dubbed. It’s a holdout to the roughie days (directed by roughie legend Doris Wishman), so it doesn’t work as a softcore porn but is so odd it’s watchable and kind of fun. Porn legend Harry Reams is in it, and him and his amazing, almost fake in it’s awesomeness, mustache are about the best thing going performance wise. All the other guys in it are really gross and look like they have some kind of skin disease. In fact, nearly everyone in this is gross and unpleasant. Especially Chesty’s tits that just flop out and blurgh.

139 06-20 Breaking Bad Season 5 (2013) 4.5/5
So this is the final season and it’s about as perfect of a final season as you could hope for.

Series wise, it’s nice to have a show get massive raves and actually pay-off when you finally sit down to watch it. I didn’t think I’d power through the whole series in little over a month, you can blame mum for that since she was going out of her mind watching it. Anyway, everything you want in a show is here. Great performances, a plot that is consistently surprising without cheating, even with the cruel cliffhanger endings of most episodes. Humour that is derived naturally from the situations, not at the expense of plot or characters. It’s absolutely deserving of all the hype it gets. Like “The Wire”, I was ready to re-watch it immediately, but am holding off for now. (Though The Wire might get pulled from storage sooner than later…) Series get’s a 5/5 from me.

140 06-20 Vice Season 2 (2014) 4/5
This is an HBO news show based on the magazine of the same name, and every episode has me wondering “Why the fuck is the normal news not reporting this stuff?” I don’t always agree with their political views, and the completely disagree with their some of their corporate decisions/policies. None the less, the stories presented on this show, and their Youtube channel, are constantly interesting and thought provoking. Recommended, almost mandatory viewing in our current media stage where hollow entertainment rules.

141 06-21 The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) 4/5
This one was Orson Welles’ follow up to his groundbreaking film “Citizen Kane.” Of course, “groundbreaking” means “complete flop on initial release”, so RKO took this one away from Welles and cut a bunch out. So like all of Welles directorial efforts post “Citizen Kane” you can’t help but wonder “What could of this film been?” What is here is very good. This is basically a generational melodrama about the effect of the industrial age (personified by the automobile) on a proud family. Perfect performances and direction that feels modern even today, it’s a masterful. surprisingly dark 84 minutes of movie that’s well worth watching. What would the original, 148 min cut that Welles prepared be like? We’ll likely never know, RKO destroyed the footage. That’s why film preservation is important. Please click the link to SAVE THE ALAMO from rotting away in MGM’s vault.

142 06-21 Andy (1969) 3/5
This is a short film directed by Wakefield Poole of an Andy Warhol art show. Shot handheld on I think 8mm film, it’s pretty great with Poole doing some pretty fancy “in camera” editing. Poole presented the film to Warhol as a birthday gift. Later he would screen it prior to showings of his feature film debut, the first mainstream hardcore gay porn “Boys in the Sand”. We’ll get to that one later.

143 06-22 Neil Young – A Letter Home (2014) 4/5
This is a companion DVD to the deluxe edition of the album of the same name. I’m including it since it’s a proper film in it’s own right. The album was recorded in a 1940’s arcade recording booth direct to disc. This film has the video of each performance as it was recorded, as well as some extra bits with Young and Jack White between songs. So aside from presenting the music in a lossless format, it’s a cool document on the making of a record that gimmicks aside ended up being really good in it’s own right.

That’s it for now, the rest of June in a recap to follow.

The End