Movie A Day: Death Heat

The week began with literal murder threats on loved ones and ended with the heat making it impossible to sleep in a house designed to have winters not kill you. Here’s hoping you all had more fun than me.

A mixed bag. I’m on a documentary/bio-pic jag with diversions into classic films and porno. So pretty typical, I guess.


187 06/25 The Snake Pit (1948) 3.5/5  Olivia de Havilland stars in this one about a woman sent to a mental hospital with no recollection of how she got there. A doctor helps her piece together her story and it’s a little hokey. The main reason to watch this is de Havilland is absolutely amazing in it.

188 06/26 Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon (2017) 3/5   A good recap of his history of abuse. It’s horrible to listen to the stories, of course, but valuable and not as exploitative as it could have been.


189 06/26 Bettie Page Reveals All (2012) 4/5   A really well done documentary with Page (via voice over interview clips) telling her own story. There will never be a more iconic pin-up model and the doc does a great job of not only telling her story but packing in tons of pictures and footage. That said, the blu-ray disc is an abomination with one of the worst sound designs that I have ever heard. The music (which isn’t great to begins with) is mixed way too hot and often drowns out the people speaking, only to get even louder when they are not. I’m tempted to knock a star off the review but I’m guessing it’s a mix on the blu-ray and not on the film proper if viewed elsewhere. I’m hoping anyways, since it really is terrible.


190 06/27 Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017) 2/5   A made for TV biopic on the pop star’s final years as told by his bodyguards. It avoids all talk of child molestation and paints the bodyguards as saints. That’s really the problem with this one, it’s hard to root for Jackson to get back on his feet when you know he’s molested children, so fuck him and his money problems, right? Chad C. Coleman from The Wire is the main lead bodyguard and he’s great. Navi is shockingly, creepily good as Jackson, but it’s just not enough to make me care about a child molester.


191 06/28 In A Lonely Place (1950) 3.5/5   Bogart stars as a down on his luck screenwriter who gets wrapped up in a murder he may or may not have committed. Bogart is great in the role, getting to play a not as nice guy as he typically did at this point in his career and Gloria Grahame more than holds her own as the inspired love interest. It’s a good film but I didn’t find myself wrapped up in it.


192 06/29 Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) 3/5   This one was in the works just prior to both of the stars passing, so it’s a bittersweet affair that I wanted to like more. It shows their eccentric current life, but doesn’t go too deep in what brought them to this point. So if you go in not knowing too much about them, you’re going to be a little lost since they come off kooky. That said, what it does deliver, it delivers well.


193 06/29 I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (2013) 4/5   Really interesting documentary on dancer, choreographer, pornographer and chef Wakefield Poole. I know him from the porn, he’s arguably the greatest gay adult filmmaker of all time (with his “Bijou” easily one of the greatest adult films of all time.) It was interesting to see how close he was to the front lines of gay rights though, with numerous stories and encounters with Harvey Milk and other political heros. A really well done picture, and Poole seems like the sweetest man in the world despite having a bittersweet history.


194 06/30 The Times Of Harvey Milk (1984) 4/5   Great documentary on the first gay man to hold public office in California. I was familiar with him through Gus Van Sant’s film Milk, but it was great to see the real story. A bittersweet film considering how it all ends, you get a really great sense of who Harvey was and why it was such a tragedy.


195 06/30 Pleasure Maze (1986) 2.5/5   A rather workmanlike effort of an adult film about robot hookers and their testers which is all an excuse for 80’s futuristic costumes and run of the mill sex scenes one would expect of the era. The fantastic cast helps to elevate it, but it’s no classic.


196 07/01 Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) 4/5
Ends up the story behind the picture is as bonkers as rumoured. I’m not convinced that Stanley would of pulled the film off if he stayed on, but it is fun to think about. Sadly missing is Ron Perlman’s fantastic Brando story which can be found on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. At any rate, this is one of the better documentaries on filmmaking and worth checking out.


197 07/01 Love & Mercy (2014) 3.5/5  Bio-pic on Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson uses the trick of casting Paul Dano as young 60’s Brian and John Cusack as 1980’s Brian trying to get his life together with the help of Dr. Eugene Landy. It sounds weird, but if you have ever seen a documentary on Brian, it makes sense. This one was well done, it goes pretty deep into both the music and Wilson’s troubles, though I could see a non-fan getting a little lost and wondering what the big deal is.

198 07/01 Lovers Lane (1986) 2.5/5   The second feature on the Peekarama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured Pleasure Maze is less inspired and even more workmanlike. Director Duck Dumont knows how to shoot, it’s too bad he doesn’t push himself in these two features. Then again, it could be the sign of competing with  SOV 80’s wall to wall porn. At any rate, the cast helps this one, but not enough to put it ahead of any other of its like.


199 07/02 A Band Called Death (2012) 4/5   Back in the early 70’s three black brothers were inspired to move on from their funk band and start a rock group. They called it DEATH, and they were punk as fuck before there was a proper name for punk. Not the cool New York punk either, but the edgy hardcore sounds that came out in the late 70’s early 80’s. Anyway, they were completely ignored, never got their record out and finally are getting their due. This documentary is really quite fantastic as despite their name, they are such positive people and seeing them finally get some of their due is wonderfully inspiring. It’s as much a family story as it is a music doc and really worth checking out.


200 07/02 Heat (1995) 4/5   Nice revisiting this one, my first time watching the “Director’s Definitive Edition”. One of the best heist crime movies ever made, I have to admit that Pacino is as scenery chewing in this one as he is in SCARFACE. All acting sins are forgiven with the incredible LA shootout sequence that is one of the most perfectly shot action scenes you will see. It all holds up just fine and the cast listing is absolutely bonkers.

 

Movie A Day!: The Immortal Joy

Hey look! Another week of movies! Who would of thought? Spring is finally hitting which meant that yesterday of this writing I was able to rake the yard. Yard work, never ending yard work. Yay for summer!

I started and ended the week with “Women stories” movies directed by men that didn’t feature pornography. Yay me! I think… they were both pretty good. Onward to movies!


112 04/23 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017) 3/5   If there is one person that mums love, it’s Oprah Winfrey. And who can blame them? Oprah seems to be the only morally grounded billionaire on the planet today. Anyway, mum was the reason for this one being watched and it’s actually pretty good. The true story of the family and the woman who gave us the HELA cells that continue to be the basis of biological studies. It’s a good movie with top notch performances. It’s a bit muddled though in that it never finds a balance between the science and the family so you never get a clear vision of either. Mum thought Oprah was just wonderful.


113 04/23 Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies (1925) 4/5 A blitzkrieg of gags from Billy Bevan allows this slapstick comedy to roar. A scientist develops cars that run on broadcast electric wave-forms that sends the petrol industry into a tizzy. Great stuff and about as close to a live action cartoon as you will find.


114 04/24 The Match King (1932)  2.5/5   Scumbag Warren William is back, this time playing a bullshitter who manages to take over the world’s matchbook industry based on dodgy bank loans without having any actual wealth or collateral to carry the debt. SOUND LIKE ANYONE CURRENTLY ALIVE AND THE PRESIDENT OF A SUPERPOWER NATION?!?!? Anyways, for a pre-code film it’s pretty tame but it never really gets off for me. There’s only so much interest to be gleaned from the match industry.


115 04/25 A Rainy Knight (1925) 3/5   A sweet little comedy about a clerk attempting to woo a woman and getting caught up in a love triangle. Not much else to say about this one. Probably most notable now for being an early work from Warner Bros. house director Lloyd Bacon who cranked out some gems in the ‘30s like Busby Berkeley’s Wonder Bar.


116 04/26 Ever In My Heart (1933) 3/5   A fine melodrama that find a loving German/American couple torn apart by racism during World War I. Barbara Stanwyck is the lead as the American wife and despite this one being a bit overblown it really works well and is unflinching in it’s depiction of the petty racism that happens during wartime.

This one wraps up the Forbidden Hollywood Vol 10 set. Again, not as strong as earlier entries in the series, but still a lot of fun. Sad that this one appears to be the final volume as these sets were good value on top of the entertainment. I’d give the set as a whole a 4/5.


117 04/27 Saturday Afternoon (1926) 4/5   Harry Langdon takes the lead on this short, playing a hapless little guy with an overbearing wife who decides to attempt to step out behind her back. Langdon is just so damned good in this, he plays everything so small in contrast to the big stuff Keaton and others would do. Even his incredibly dangerous car stunt at the end is played little. It’s hilarious and sweet at the same time.


118 04/28 The Wrecking Crew! (2008) 4/5   Documentary on the legendary studio musicians who played on all the songs you love from 60’s that came out of California. Watching this you find out they played on even more than you thought. A fantastic documentary centering more on guitarist Tommy Tedesco (played the lead guitar on Batman and Hawaii 5-0) since it was directed by his son, it’s great that it allows all the other to tell their stories. And the stories are great. Recommended.


119 04/28 Ladies Night (1980) 3.5/5   Annette Haven stars as a frustrated football widow who goes out with her girlfriends to a cheesy “Ladies Night” for some action. It’s pretty standard adult fare for the period but Haven has genuine star power and the mythical “Lewis Brother of Detroit” have the chops to elevate this one into something more than the usual with some artistic touches.


120 04/29 Joy (2015) 3/5   David O. Russell is back with his make pretend gang Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper for this one about an industrious young woman who refuses to stop pushing forward with her dreams despite the near abusive negative support from everyone she encounters. I’m torn on this since it’s really good as far as subject matter and performances go, but the tone rubbed me the wrong way. O. Russell presents this like a fairy tale with a narration, as if this woman’s story is a wonderful fantasy, because what woman would push this hard and not give up? Am I right guys? It seems really wrong headed since it is based on a true story. Presenting this story a little more straight and it would of elevated it. I don’t know, I could be wrong. People identifying as women, please feel free to tell me in the comments.

Not bad for the week, a nice variety.  I just can’t burn through those silent comedies like I would like to. Drives me crazy that it takes me two nights to watch a 20minute film due to falling asleep. It’s insulting to everyone involved! looking at this week, I wonder how much improved Immortal Life and Joy would have been if directed by women. Would they have escaped the more annoying “Woman’s Picture” traps? Any women read this blog that can comment? Am I over thinking? Over compensating?

Oh hey! Before I forget. I’ve joined the LETTERBOXD movie tracking community and have started logging my movies there. I’m going back in my list archives and have so far logged my very first movie record from the Scary Movie Challenge 2006. Eventually I will catch up to modern day and this blog, but anyone interested in all the movies I’ve seen can check it out. It\s also porn free since they don’t currently allow adult, so you have that going for you too if you hate seeing adult titles being reviewed as actual films instead of wack-off mechanisms.

https://letterboxd.com/ruz_el/

Feel free to follow, share, obsess and judge!

Movie A Day! 036-040: Indiegogo Playbook Confession

So this one features a couple of Vinegar Syndrome releases (not the best ones they have to offer, but two all the same). Anyone who’s read this blog should be able to tell, I’m a pretty big fan of this company. They are doing the big work protecting, restoring and preserving a genre of film, exploitation, from disappearing. They’re doing the work that most of the major studios refuse to do (See MGM and the protection of John Wayne’s THE ALAMO for an example) as an independent. They are introducing a new initiative this year, a streaming channel that will start off offering over 200 films, porn, horror, who knows what else, in a Netflix like service. They are currently offering an indiegogo campaign to get the project started. So if you’ve ever been curious about the films I review, but don’t want to purchase, it’s a great way to check them out, help them out, and keep the movies that influenced a generation of film makers alive. Click the link, share the campaign, and watch their video, it’s pretty cool.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vinegarsyndrome-tv-instant-digital-exploitation/


036 01-29 An Act of Confession (1971) 2.5/5
The final film in this Peekarama edition (unless you count a soft version of CRY FOR CINDY) is a bit of a mixed bag. Barely released, never distributed in New York and thought lost, Vinegar Syndrome found a print of this Anthony Spinelli Nunsploitation in the archives of fellow porn legend, director Alex de Renzy. Sadly, it’s not fully uncut, but it is as complete as it’s likely ever going to be. I’m going to guess time wise this one came after Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS (still not released uncut by Warner Bros. despite a HD restoration) since it shares a similar look to whatever version of THE DEVILS I saw (a patched together uncut version from the UK). Explicit films based around nuns getting horned out due to erotic fantasies are always problematic I guess, whether it’s a porno or a Warner Brothers film. Anyway, this one isn’t that bad, and actually plays a bit arty instead of exploitative. Though it is exploitative, there’s a bit of hardcore thrown in/not fully cut out (?) and most importantly, the final scene with the main nun and Jesus(!) is mostly intact. That said, the constant Gregorian chants and rather uninspired plot leave it meandering a little bit, like a less interesting WAKEFIELD POOL’S BIBLE! (also by Vinegar Syndrome). So it’s more of an interesting curiosity than a proper “Good” film.


037 01-30 Silver Linings Playbook (2012) 4/5
It’s technically a rom-com with a stupid title, but I really enjoy this one. I think because it deals with mental illness in an open way, yet never makes actual fun of it. Humour comes from situations, but never the disease itself. Anyway, it’s good, and Bradley Cooper is about as good as he gets in it. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show despite Chris Tuckers attempts in a role that requires him to tone down his usual film persona. Good stuff all around this one.


038 01-31 The Comedy (2012) 2.5/5
I’m a big Tim & Eric fan, so I’ve been wanting to see Tim Heidecker’s dramatic debut for a while. Finally took the plunge, and it’s not great. Tim is fine, the movie is about a wealth fund kid kicking around New York being an asshole. The film is pretty much plot-less as a rambling character study that never really finds a point. Or I just didn’t get what they were trying to achieve.


039 01-31 Impact (1949) 3/5
A B-level noir starring Brian Donlevy as an industrial magnet who’s gold digger wife plots to have killed. The first fifteen minutes play in a burst of energy that would be the plot of most film noirs with the Donlevy’s attempted murder and a mistaken identity plot that then wanders for the rest of the film as Donlevy, presumed dead, lives a new life as a small town mechanic. Shave a bit out of the middle and this could of been a twisty, noir classic. As it stands, it wears out it’s welcome a bit, especially since the film could of ended at the twenty minute mark with a a single call to the police.


040 01-31 Oriental Hawaii (1982) 2/5
When Carlos Tobalina (JUNGLE BLUE) uses an assumed name on a directors credit, you know you’re in trouble since none of his films are all that great. This one is about a family who rents a couple of rooms to some asian university girls for some extra cash. That’s it. The most base of porn plots for a very base porn. This half of the Vinegar Syndrome Peekarama double feature is far from their best effort, though the actual transfer quality is right up there like all their releases. I’ll probably get to the more interesting second feature MAI LIN Vs. SERENA next week.

That’s about it for this one. Be sure to shoot a couple bucks over to the VS campaign if you have some extra bucks to shoot. They, and genre fans everywhere will thank you!