Movie A Day!: Decline of Baby Strange

The heatwave has locked in and I’m coming down with a summer cold. Cursed! Here’s what I watched last week. Nearly done with the documentary/bio-pics and I had a rare outing to a first run movie!!


201 07/03 Sea Dog’s Tale (1926) 3/5 Billy Bevan takes the lead in this one as a Englishman who gets hoodwinked to a island to marry a native girl. It’s got some fun bits if you can get past the racial stereotypes and black face.

202 07/03 Hoboken To Hollywood (1926) 3.5/5 Billy Bevan’s gets has to pack up the family and move cross country to LA on a job transfer and gets into all types of shenanigans. Lots of good bits, this one works really well and sees Billy play a bit of a prick that separates him from most of the other comedians of the time.


203 07/03 The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) 4/5   Thanks to Shout Factory I was finally able to get my mits on this one. Since it was impossible to find in my neck of the woods. It was worth the wait. A fascinating look at the LA punk scene and featuring a pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag and The Germs which features future Foo Fighter Pat Smear. Some bands come off more sincere than others but almost all of them are kids so it’s hard to tell really. At any rate, it’s a crucial document.


204 07/03 The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (1988) 4/5   This one is the polar opposite of the first one. All the punk attitude is gone and everything is sex, drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll. The old guard like Aerosmith, Lemmy, and Alice Cooper seem to shoot pretty straight while the new bands like Faster Pussycat come off as complete imbeciles. When this one came it, it was pretty hot stuff as I was into the scene. Watching it now, it’s hilariously bone-headed and the sincere explanations for the glam make up is cringe-worthy. Another must see documentary.


205 07/04 Baby Driver (2017) 4/5   The best of the (I think) two action musicals I have seen.  It completely delivers on the premise of a wheel-man fueled by tunes. Everyone in it is pitch perfect and despite a rather contrived ending the film is such a joy I can forgive it. Edgar Wright just simply knows how to make great movies and this one is no different.


206 07/05 The Great McGinty (1940) 3.5/5   A hobo gets swept up into politics thanks to a gangster’s scheme to throw city and state bucks into real estate. SOUND FAMILIAR?!?!? This one from Preston Sturges has some biting commentary on politics and great performances but didn’t reach the heights of his other work for me.


207 07/06 The Lost Weekend (1945) 3.5/5   Billy Wilder takes a hard look at alcoholism in this one with Ray Milland starring as a writer whose life is ruined by the booze. It plays like a film noir except drink is the dame that brings ruin to the main character. It’s good, but even at the worst depths Milland seems to mostly have a handle on things due to his natural charm, despite going all out.


208 07/07 Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’ (2013) 4/5   A fantastic documentary on Hendrix that covers all the bases as well as showing tons of clips of him performing. Not much else to say, if you’re interested in Hendrix, this is the one for you.


209 07/07 The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998) 4/5   Spheeris is back, 10 years after Part II to reexamine the LA music scene but instead delves into the lives of the Gutterpunks, homeless punk rock kids that basically escaped their abusive homes. It might be the best film of the series. It never judges or tries to manipulate you, it simply depicts their lives and lets them speak for themselves. This series of films is essential stuff.


210 07/08 Doctor Strange (2016) 3/5   Finally got around to watching this one and it’s simply okay. These Marvel films have all settled into their groove so there’s not much to say. Doctor Strange is a prick, gets humbled, finds his true power and quips the whole time like every other Marvel superhero. Some great visuals that were frankly used better in Inception, and some okay fight scenes. Nothing else to say.


211 07/09 Hit So Hard (2011) 4/5   A really great documentary about Hole drummer Patty Schemel who struggled with addiction. They get everyone from the band, including Courtney Love, back to tell her story, and Patty taped everything so there’s tons of great footage of Hole on the road and performing back in the 90’s. Add in a mini-history/commentary on other women drummers through history and it all adds up to being great.

 

When the worst film you have seen is Doctor Strange, it’s not a bad week.

Mobee a dai: Is This Real Life?

I meant to get back into the sleaze since I got a big Vinegar Syndrome package, but I’m hooked on documentary films! Plus a few other things…


176 06/18 Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017) 4/5   A true crime documentary. Best you go in knowing little. A young woman is charged with the murder of her mother. It’s more complicated and sad than you can imagine.


177 06/18 De Palma (2015) 4/5   This one is little more than the director sitting down and going through his filmography with the appropriate clips showing as needed, but holy mackerel, it ends up being one of the best documentaries on film making that I have seen. Mainly due to De Palma not being shy to mention and acknowledge complaints. There’s an honesty to it that’s largely missing from these things, especially since they typically end up as special features on DVDs as opposed to feature in their own right.


178 06/20 Better Call Saul Season 3 (2017) 4/5   The prequel to Breaking Bad continues to be possibly better than the series that spawned it. It’s fun, but also one of the most emotionally brutal shows I’ve seen. Season 4 should prove to be very interesting. The performances continue to be razor sharp, it’s one of the best show’s I’ve seen.


179 06/20 Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) 3/5   Interesting documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to adapt Dune into possible the greatest film ever back in the 70’s, only to have it fall apart after pre-production was done. It’s good, but the end result is of course, “Wow, that would have been some movie, huh?” which makes it a little overkill. That said, you can’t help but get caught up in Jodorowsky’s dream and film philosophy.

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180 06/21 Beware the Slenderman (2016) 2.5/5   True crime documentary about two 12 year old girls that attempted to kill one of their friends after becoming obsessed with the “Slenderman” urban legend. The tone of this one isn’t right. It’s a terrible crime based on some incredibly stupid internet folklore, a folklore that is never spoken of in the film as corny and stupid. You can’t look at a Slenderman youtube vid without thinking how goofy it is, so to treat it as an actual threat seems dishonest. The filmmakers also spin the wheels to pad the film. You could easily cut 30 minutes out and it would be a better, tighter film. The victim and the suspects deserve to have their story told in a better fashion.

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181 06/22 Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untamed Story of Cannon Films (2014) 4/5    In many ways, Cannon was the perfect studio of the 80’s. None of their films were very good, but all of them were pretty awesome if you were a kid with a hunger for goofy action movies and what not. I have fond memories of many of the trashy films profiled here and the telling of the story behind them is pretty much perfect with no one pretending that they were cranking out amazing art. Well worth checking out.


182 06/23 Menendez: Blood Brothers (2017) 2.5/5   Lifetime takes a crack at a true crime biopic with Courtney Love of all people playing the mom. It’s not terrible, it is sleazy which makes it fun. It’s just not executed very well.


183 06/23 Never Sleep Alone (1983) 2.5/5   A not bad crime hardcore about a swinger couple in an open marriage that gets infected by jealousy. It’s not bad, it just kind of runs out of steam despite Joanna Storm stealing the film.


184 06/24 Bagboy (2015) 3.5/5   Dr. Steve Brule takes a stab at a sitcom comedy and it ends up being one of the greatest sitcoms ever produced.  


185 06/25 The Last Laugh (2016) 3.5/5   Can the holocaust be funny? The answer is no, but this doc ends up going deeper and with the help of tons of comedians really gets into joke structure and what makes something funny. It’s also great that Mel Brooks appears as ground zero for breaking all the rules.

186 06/25 Austin City Limits: Iggy Pop (2016) 4/5   My only issue is it’s edited down to an hour long episode. It’s great seeing Iggy with a band that can play anything.   

I keep thinking about that Dune documentary, and Jodorowsky’s thought that civilization is based on stories from the Bible, The Koran, The Life of Buddha, why not a movie? Why can’t a movie transform people?