Movie A Day!: Extra Oscar Lounge!

Another tough week of struggle out here in the west. Weather seems to be torturing us into death by being both too cold and then warm in the same day. I’ve felt like I’ve been coming down with a cold for the past two weeks. I think it’s the barometric pressure kicking my head in. I’m ready for winter to end.


056 02/26 The Extra Girl (1923) 2.5/5   Mabel Normand stars in this Mack Sennett comedy about a young woman who wins a contest to go to Hollywood for a chance to be a star after her rural parents refuse to allow her to marry her mechanic boyfriend. Lots of intrigue, not many laughs in this silent feature. Mabel was an incredible talent but this one doesn’t give her too much to do despite a plot that goes all over the place and allows her to do a bunch of stuff. It just never really works out aside for the chase sequence with the loose lion.


057 02-26 89th Academy Awards (2017) 3.5/5   The night we have all been waiting for! The one where the starving artists we enjoy on the big screen are finally fed via airdrops of food! It really is a beautiful sight, millionaires enjoying Jr. Mints. they really are just like us!. This one ended up being pretty good. Show moved about as quick as these things can, only one of the bits (tour bus) went on too long and there was an epic fuck up with the best picture award going to La La Land instead of Moonlight, so that was fun. I had no horse in the race so nothing stuck in my craw or had me orgasmic in delight. It was just a mostly nice show and Jimmy Kimmel did a good enough job as the host that I wouldn’t mind seeing him do it again.


058 02/28 Gilmore Girls Season 5 (2005) 3/5  I’ve reached the part in the series where old is new and I’m hitting the episodes I missed the first go round. This season was a let down from previous ones. Lorelai finally gets with Luke, and the writers do a thing where they turn Luke from the greatest guy/only decent guy on the show to a rage-aholic asshole. Rory is still in college and is now interested in Logan, a rich kid prick and it all makes the season a bit insufferable compared to the heady joys of season 3. It’s still good though since the performances and writing continues to stay true to the characters (aside from Luke), and while the Gilmores are floundering it gives space for Kirk and Lane to steal the show.


059 03/01 Color Me Blood Red (1965) 3/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis wraps up the “Blood Trilogy” with this one, a comedy about a bonkers painter who discovers that blood is the perfect colour of red and gets inspired. It’s basically a rip-off of the superior in every way Roger Corman film Bucket Of Blood (which is probably more famous for being the one that wrapped production in time for Corman to crank out the cult classic Little Shop Of Horrors over the 2 day weekend before he had to return the rental equipment), only on the cheap and with more gore effects. This one suffers from the typical Lewis corner cutting. Rather than stop the camera and doing a second set-up, he’ll do things like let it run while a second actor gets ready and then pan and focus to shoot them and it just slows the film down to a crawl. Which is saying something when the film is about 70 minutes long. There’s a reason why he’s considered a hack, and it already starts to show in this one. That said, it’s still fun, and I always watch it since it’s billed as the third film in the trilogy so my mental illness dictates that I have to watch it after Two Thousand Maniacs.

The weird thing watching the Blood Trilogy in this day and age is how chaste they are. I don’t think a single swear is uttered and despite Lewis and Friedman coming from the Nudie Cutie circuit there is no explicit nudity. There’s just buckets of gore all over the place. It’s probably what saved them from the censor to some degree. Still a fun watch even if they are dated, and Two Thousand Maniacs really is a classic. After Color Me Blood Red Lewis and Friedman will split up, but both will keep on making films on their own.


060 03/03 The Night Bird (1977) 2.5/5   The Night Bird is the hot underground disco club that was built for sex. This one was an odd hardcore title in that it plays like Saturday Night Fever meets Mean Streets. The first half is actually pretty good but it falls apart in the end. It sets up an emotionally cracking lead that never plays out, instead you get a never ending orgy sequence that is cut with disco dancing. The quality of this one is first rate so it’s a bummer it never gels into something more.


061 03/04 Something Weird (1967) 3/5
062 03/04 A Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge! (1966)2/5
An odd pair of Herschell Gordon Lewis cheapies. Something Weird is exactly as titled. A guy is electrocuted and ends up with psychic powers, joins a witch that tricks him… there’s murders as well… a guy gets attacked by his bed sheet… and I’m out. You can’t describe it. It’s a comedy, it’s a murder story, it’s psychic flim flam and an LSD scare film all at once. You have to see it to believe it. The craziest thing is it’s actually pretty accomplished in form compared to most of Lewis’s films.

A Hot Night at the Go Go Lounge! is a nudie short in which the first half seems to be footage from other films and the last half featuring surprisingly plain topless dancers. More of a curio as opposed to something worth seeking out.

I try to mix up what I watch, to find a balance, but I’m finding that the weeks are getting away from me so I end up not getting anything in other than genre films. I might have to take a time out to feed my brain.

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Movie a Day!: Hidden Money

The week of this viewing saw the weather go from a paralyzing -20C to breaking within 24 hour period yesterday to 5C. There’s a subconscious stress level living in a part of the world with such weather fluxes that one never gets used to. We just enjoy not having to dress so that the environment wont make you euphoric before killing you. It’s too early to know if this warmth will last. Which adds to the stress.

As threatened last blog, this week saw me balancing the classy 2016 Oscar noms with the usual sleaze people typically don’t admit to watching in public if they ever hope to have a long lasting relationship. If I’m going to be alone, I might as will be free!


033 02/05 Fences (2016) 3/5   Denzel Washington directs and stars in this story about a working class stiff trying to keep things together in lower income Philly during the 50’s. Great acting and an interesting slice of black life that isn’t usually shown in the movies keep this one mostly interesting. My issue with it is it’s based on a play and the constant dialogue (very theatrical dialogue with all the beats you would find on the live stage) with little action or change of scenery pretty much keep this one on the stage. I prefer my movies to feel like movies as opposed to adaptations like these and despite at how good this one is.


034 02/06 Hidden Figures (2016) 3.5/5   The fun thing about watching the Oscar Best Picture nominations is I have done zero research and am going in mostly blind about what these movies are actually about. This one was a pleasant surprise. It tells the true story of 3 black women who were key figures doing the big work during the space race. The blatant racism and misogyny as depicted in 1961 NASA is infuriating to watch today, but they never hit you over the head with it in an over the top way. I found some things problematic, like the modern music choices (I’m guessing at the insistence of Executive Producer Pharrell…) and some little bits of “sassy tropes” that seemed like caricature and kind of took away from how smart these women actually are. (That could be my white old guy bias, persons of colour, please correct me.) None of it is enough to be completely distracting though, and in the end, it’s a damn fine film and one that deserves to be seen.


035 02/07 Don’t Answer The Phone (1980) 4/5   A Vietnam vet is bonkers and going around strangling pretty girls and stalking/harassing a radio therapist in LA. This one was downright nasty and mean, with a ton of sleaze to boot. Which means it was great and really delivered! That’s how it works with genre films, the more they live up to their depraved expectations the better. I didn’t make the rules! Anyway, it fits right in with Maniac, The Toolbox Murders, and other Taxi Driver style horror films from the era.


036 02-08 Hell or High Water (2016) 3.5/5   A couple of brothers can’t seem to shake Jeff Bridges giant, float-y head, based on the promo above. In actuality, a couple of brothers go on a bank robbing spree in Texas and ridiculously old Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges has to try to catch them. Seriously, if Bridges gets anymore growl-y he’ll be forced to play wolf-men for the rest of his career. They say this one is a modern western, but it’s not really. Can there even be a modern day western anymore? It is a really good modern day crime film though that takes place in the south. Everything rings pretty true, performances are top notch, there’s a bit of business that is a little extraneous (they seem to be setting up a female character only for her to vanish without a trace) but otherwise it works well enough to keep you interested. It also plays with a bit of the stereotypes that are found in these “western” films which helps keep it current and more than a smadge political. Good stuff, but I don’t think it’s “Best Picture” material.


037 02-10 Hacksaw Ridge (2016) 4/5   The true story of a war hero medic who entered World War II as a conscientious objector and refused to carry a weapon. First half plays like a rehash from better films, mainly Full Metal Jacket. The second half when they go to war redeems it though. This one has the action in the Pacific and anyone who’s seen a documentary on the pacific war knows it was one of the most brutal theatres. The film does not shy away, and actually seems over the top if you didn’t know better. It’s great stuff. The only real problematic thing with this for me is it’s directed by Mel Gibson. Old Mel has proven himself to be a piece of shit anti-semite. Like Polanski and Woody Allen I find myself conflicted with these guys, separating the person from the film, that kind of thing. That aside, dude knows how to direct an action picture.


038 02-10 A Place Beyond Shame (1980) 2.5/5   Poor Seka has fears about sex so she’s sees a therapist to unlock her sexual prowess. Directed by adult legends FJ Lincoln and Sharon Mitchell, I was hoping for more to this than basically being a loop carrier.


039 02/11 Manchester By The Sea (2016) 4/5   Casey Affleck stars in this one as a working class guy who is struggling to get his life together and has to take responsibility for his nephew when his brother passes away. So it’s a pretty heavy drama and the main draw for this one is the brutal reality. It never really gets sentimental, which makes it great in my book.


040 02/11 Blue Money (1971) 4/5
041 02/12 The Affairs of Aphrodite (1970) 2/5   A duo of films directed by Alain Patrik, Blue Money was a real surprise. Produced by Bob Chinn, this one was their first crack at a legitimate movie after toiling away in the world of softcore. The film is about pornographers struggling to get their films made while avoiding the vice squad. What makes it so interesting is that it’s actually made by pornographers who were actually dealing with the arrests and vice issues at the time so there’s a ring of truth to this as opposed to typical exploitation fair. It makes for a really well done character study that really fits in with other films of the New Hollywood era. Patrik would drift away from softcore films to pursue acting, and Bob Chinn would move on to discovering John Holmes and creating the Johnny Wadd series that was referenced so heavily in Boogie Nights.and cement his place as one of adult’s greatest filmmakers.

The Affairs of Aphrodite is pretty typical softcore dribble about a princess kidnapped and forced into Aphrodite’s harem. Mainly of interest on this disc in being the type of film that the lead in Blue Money would of made, since it was literally made by the same director/star. 

So basically my picks for best picture are between Blue MoneyDon’t Answer The Phone and Manchester By The Sea. Says where I am at this point in my terrible life. If I had to pick a fave, I’d probably lean to Hidden Figures or Manchester By The Sea. Next week I should have the rest of the nominations watched so maybe I’ll love La La Land as much as everyone else in our currently free world.

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.