Movie A Day! 397-407: Last Christmas To The Head

We have nearly made it, only a few days left and 2014 is put to rest. Everyone making out okay? This time of year can feel like survival sometimes. My holidays are going okay, so far. It’s been mostly quiet and low key, which is what I wanted. It’s the first Christmas without dad, and mum and I are accepting it quietly while cracking the odd joke about how dad wouldn’t be impressed with us and our celebration since we’re going small.

I passed 400 titles this past week. Not bad. Watched some great, classic films, and some not so great films. As per usual. Here they are!

397 12-21 Christmas Evil (1980) 4/5
My (and John Waters) favourite Christmas movie looking fantastic on Blu-ray via Vinegar Syndrome! This one came out in the midst of slasher mania and was obviously designed to be the Christmas version of HALLOWEEN. Surprisingly, they went more psychological, so the first half plays more like a TAXI DRIVER style character study before going completely loopy. Believe me, it gets deliriously loopy, so check it out.

398 12-23 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale (2013) 3/5
Yup, still watching Christmas specials. This one was one of the better ones mainly because Clarkson can sing anything in a way that doesn’t drive you up the walls. The sketches aren’t as good as the performances, but the performances are all good and Clarkson has a fun personality.

399 12-23 Masterchef Canada Holiday Special (2014) 3/5
Stumbled on this one. They brought back 5 contestants from Season one, who along with their families compete in cooking challenges with the winning family getting $10,000 for their favourite charity. It was surprisingly fun, and since it’s Canadian, everyone was happy, working together and having a good joyous cry instead of baiting and trying to screw everyone over like the American version.

400 12-24 Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls (1979) 4/5
This is one of the porno chic titles that gets tossed around as being a classic so it was nice to finally view it via Vinegar Syndrome’s release. Directed by Bob Chinn, this one fits right in with the teen sex comedies that were popular at the time. Think of PORKY’S or ANIMAL HOUSE type comedies, except with hardcore sex. John Holmes starts as an owner of a pizza shop who has a gang of sexy, skateboarding delivery girls who deliver pizzas throughout San Francisco on their skateboard as a cover for hooking. There is a mysterious “Chicken Rapist” out to get them, run by a fried chicken group who want to put the Pizza Girls out of business. Desiree Cousteau is back playing her naive dumbbell persona that she did so well in PRETTY PEACHES, and future feminist porn director Candida Royalle is memorable as well as one of the Pizza Girls. Cut out the porn, and it would still be a fun and funny little film.

401 12-25 2014 Disney Parks Christmas ‘Frozen’ Parade (2014) 2.5/5
This was on Christmas morning and was probably your last chance to see Ariana Grande soullessly warble out a Christmas song. Seriously, if it was a variety type special from this year, Grande was part of it. I guess she won the magic ticket.

402 12-25 All Is Lost (2013) 3/5
This one has Robert Redford as a guy dealing with sail boat that has a hole in it. In a twist, that it all this movie is about. All of it. No kidding. A guy on a boat, by himself. So your enjoyment will be based on if you don’t mind watching a guy on a boat with a hole in it for ninety minutes. I liked it, and I thought Redford did a really good job. That said, I don’t think I’m going to be spinning it a ton. It’s a neat experiment and change of pace, but not completely successful. I have a sneaky feeling that this one was made as Oscar bait to get Redford a statue.

403 12-26 The Green Mile (1999) 4.5/5
This is the best of Frank Darabont’s Stephen King prison novel adaptations, which is saying something since the other one he did was THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. I like this one better though, since it has gruesome executions and Tom Hanks pissing all over the place to balance the sentimentality that is borderline over-sentimental. Plus it has that god damned mouse!

404 12-27 Doctor Who Christmas Special – Last Christmas (2014) 2/5
405 12-27 Black Mirror – White Christmas (2014) 4/5
These should be the last of the Christmas specials for me. Doctor Who had Nick Frost as Santa, sorry, as Father Christmas since it’s British. Anyway, he was a great Father Christmas but the episode dealt with Jenna and her dumb boyfriend. For fuck sakes, that shit was wrapped up in the season finale! I thought we were done with her and her horseshit. I’ll give next season a chance, but I’m far from excited for it.

I never did watch BLACK MIRROR SEASON 2, and I’m going to rectify that toot-sweet since this Christmas special was excellent. John Hamm and some other guy are working at some unexplained job on Christmas, and Hamm is telling stories of what brought him to the isolated outpost. It’s smart and cynical, Brooker has a dead tight script and Hamm has never been better. I want more Black Mirror please, even though season two is supposed to be a bit dodgy.

406 12-27 Bullet To The Head (2012) 2/5
Walter Hill finally gets a new movie out, and it sucked. Walking human Growth hormone experiment Sylvester Stallone is a hitman who gets set-up on a bad job and has to work with a cop to sort things out. It hits every dumb cliche there is to hit. The cop is Korean, so there is way too many Asian jokes at his expense to get a pass in this day and age, and 90% of the dialogue seems to be exposition to explain what the characters are doing, and why they are defying all common sense and logic. So skip this one.

407 12-27 Oui, Girls (1981) 2/5
A detective goes undercover at a swingers ranch to solve a murder. I think that’s the plot. This one was spoken of pretty highly in the book THE OTHER SIDE OF HOLLYWOOD, and was considered to be director F.J. Lincoln’s best film. As a porno, it’s not bad, but as a movie it just didn’t make any sense with way too many plot holes. I know, it’s a porn, but I expected more. Pizza Girls delivered a plot, no reason this one shouldn’t have. F.J. Lincoln is also mostly known for his role as one of the attackers in Wes Cravin’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, so between that and the hype from the book, this one was a let down.

That’s it for now. There will be one more post, The wrap up for 2014! I’ll try to post it this week anyway.

I’m on the fence with continuing this blog into 2015. It’s actually a bit of work writing these dumb mini-reviews and finding the posters and math. Ugh. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Movie A Day! : 168-173 – “My life is a performance”

I’m at the part of staycation where I’m losing track of days. This is not a complaint. Another week to go, and I already know I’m not going to accomplish all that I planned. This isn’t a complaint either. At any rate, with July 31st hitting mid next week, I figured I better get a blog in so as not to have a huge wrap up one to do next week. Plus it’s rainy as I write this, so with music playing, it’s pretty relaxing.

This past week also marked a month since dad passed away, and it’s still weird to deal with. I spent the day at the zoo looking at critters. Which is a nice way to spend the day, but I felt disconnected and was probably not as fun to be with as I like to think/imagine I typically am. This coming week we have a memorial to go to at the hospital he died in. I have mixed feeling about this, but will be going in support of mum. How many goodbyes is too many? This will feel like the fourth.

Anyway, on to the movies!

168 07-21 Kamikaze Hearts (1986) 3.5/5

This one is a love story between Sharon Mitchell and Tigr. Both are porn performers and at the time this was filmed, were in a relationship, using their real names. So this one plays like a documentary, though they claim it was planned out. It makes it very hard to see where the line falls between reality and performance, which makes sense since it is based around porn where the reality of sex is performed. It makes for a very human, and largely uncomfortable lesbian romance that is well worth a watch.

169 07-21 Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) 4/5
This one is an early film from director Don Siegel who is probably best known these days for DIRTY HARRY and other Clint Eastwood films. This one is a pretty typical prison preachy about the horrors of prison. The draw though is Siegel keeps it lean and mean, with character actors at front instead of stars and shooting a bunch of it on location at Folsom prison, using inmates as extras. It helps to keep the tension up as well as the pacing brisk. Well worth a watch.

170 07-22 Escape Plan (2013) 2.5/5
Then you have this one. Featuring Sylvester Stallone as a prison expert wrongfully imprisoned in a jail designed to be unbreakable, based on his own book on how to make an unbreakable prison. High concept huh? Anyway, Stallone growls his way through this one as the genius expert that despite being freakishly huge due to human growth hormones can still manage to squeeze through tight spots to break out of prison. It’s all pretty goofy, but with a surprise named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold manages to put in a hell of a performance in this one as a charming prisoner who helps Stallone. It was surprising to say the least when the last thing you would expect from a Stallone/Schwarzenegger team up is a good performance.

171 07-23 The Devil’s 8 (1969) 3/5
This one appears to be a rip-off of THE DIRTY DOZEN. A group of seven men (the federal agent leader makes up the eight, in case you though I couldn’t count), all serving long term prison sentences, are freed by the feds to take on a gang of moonshiners. Seems pretty extreme, having to use prisoners to take on moonshiners, the FBI really couldn’t handle that one themselves? It’s pretty dopey, but also a bit of fun since it’s an American International Drive-In B-Movie. I was quite surprised to see John “Apocalypse Now” Milius sharing a writing credit on this thing, but it explains the uber-macho dialogue. The soundtrack that constantly plays the main theme is ridiculous, as is the version with some of the dopiest lyrics ever to grace one of these pictures that plays over the final credits. So there it is, lot’s of fun to be had with this one, just don’t expect and adventure war classic like THE DIRTY DOZEN.

172 07-23 Parker (2013) 2.5/5

This one stars my boyfriend Jason Statham as a thief who gets betrayed on a job and proceeds to beat the living shit out of everyone involved. So it’s pretty much every Jason Statham movie. It has a strong cast featuring Nick Nolte (who has apparently lost the ability of speech and has to use growling tones to form words, making Stallone sound like Olivier in comparison) and Michael Chiklis who you will remember was “The Thing” in those shitty FANTASTIC FOUR movies from a few years back. The exception to the great cast is Jennifer Lopez, who continues to be just awful to watch in movies. Lopez, and the character she plays, is the only problem with the film, she only exists to create trouble for Statham, trouble that the main plot and subject does not need in anyway. If you cut her and her subplot out, and I think you could do it rather simply, the entire film would be better. It’s obvious that the only reason she’s in here is because some studio idiot thought they needed her to bring women to the theaters. In fact, I’m knocking this one down half a point from 3 stars since I get annoyed just thinking about it.

173 07-23 Deep Tango (1974) 2/5
This one is a hardcore porno comedy that just never works. I’m guessing it’s trying to be irreverent like I think DEEP THROAT is. I’ve still not seen DEEP THROAT so I can’t be sure. Anyway, it makes no sense plot wise, (it’s kind of a play on LAST TANGO IN PARIS with two people meeting up in an apartment for sex) and then in the last quarter it gets all 1970’s auteur dark that has you wondering WTF? I’m guessing the main draw for Vinegar Syndrome tackling it for release is it’s scarcity as well as being notable as being legendary actress Annette Haven’s second feature film credit. Haven is easily the best part of the film, though the main actor Keith Henderson is pretty good too (this appears to be his only film according to IMDB), and quite likable compared to most of the sleaze ball guys from the era. Still, it never really works as a comedy or a porn, just as an oddity.

That’s it for now. Welcome to some new subscribers, you are appreciated! Feel free to spread this stuff around! Leave me feedback on how I can improve this mess of a blog.

The End