Movie A Day!: 355-363 – “Bring Me Down I’m Scared!”

Right! Another week, another list! I didn’t get in a full ten titles this week. On Wednesday night I actually left the house and saw the wonderful Sadies perform. This is my third time seeing the band, and they are easily one of the the top five live acts I’ve seen. You have to be dead inside to not get swept up by them. Anyway, on with the films!

355 11-09 The Dollop – Live at Podfest (2014) 3/5
I’m kind of sneaking this one on here. This is one of my favourite podcasts, and they put this one up on YouTube to watch. If you like weird history, this is the podcast for you. While this episode isn’t as bonkers funny as some of their other ones, it’s still pretty fun.

356 11-09 Marvel 75 Years – From Pulp To Pop (2014) 2.5/5
Typical, back slapping PR kit style profile about how great Marvel Comics is, with none of the real story in it. So if you want to hear the official, super happy fun-guy version of where the characters came from, and how they were exploited into a movie franchise, then this is the one for you. Those of us wanting a more truthful look at Marvel will have to keep waiting. My favourite bit: Stan Lee being celebrated for challenging the Comic Code despite Marvel being one of the founders of said code, which was created to put EC Comics and other publishers out of business since Lee and his shitty monster books couldn’t compete. They didn’t mention that later bit…

357 11-09 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970) 4/5
This one was ridiculously good. The plot is basically what the title says, the blind swordsman meets Yojimbo, the classic character from the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa that inspired A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS which kick started the “Spaghetti Western” genre. Got all that? You did realize that Samurai and western films are all connected right? Now go watch KILL BILL again. Anyway, Zatoichi and Yojimbo are both in town and after a score of gold being hidden from Yakuza bosses. It’s an incredibly complex, twisty plot, and it works like gangbusters. There’s only a few of these films left in the boxset, and I’m going to miss them when I’m done.

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358 11-10 Red River (Theatrical Version) (1948) 4/5
This one is Howard Hawks other classic western that isn’t called RIO BRAVO. This one also stars John Wayne, and it’s the first time that Wayne played an anti-hero. His character here is an embittered rancher that is obsessed with driving his massive herd of cattle up the Chisholm trail to market. Walter Brennan plays his old partner, and Montgomery Clift plays the younger partner that Wayne took in as a child. So really, it’s a generational story of three men, their roles and how their relationships change with age. It’s a great film, the cattle scenes are amazing, and the character interplay is even better. I plan on watching the preview version sooner than later since I think this is one where you get more out of it each time you see it. This was one of my dads favourite films, so it was a shame a decent version took so long to come out not that he’s not here to see it.

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359 11-11 Wreck-It Ralph (2012) 4/5
Finally got around to the Disney film that couldn’t have been more made for me. It’s flat out “TOY STORY” but with video games, and it couldn’t be any better. John C. Reilly is great in the title role as the bad guy wanting to be a good guy, and Sarah Silverman is equally great, maybe surprisingly great in a role that doesn’t allow her to say “Cunt” repeatedly. Anyway, they nail the world that had to create for the story to make sense, and all the cameos of classic game characters was a fun trip down geek memory lane.

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360 11-13 The Black Cat (1941) 3/5
This is another Universal Horror that is named THE BLACK CAT and it has nothing to do with the previous film of that title, despite Bela Lugosi being in it in a small role. This one is basically a “Old House” type mystery. An old woman is reading her will, and now people are getting knocked off. It’s notable for it’s ridiculously strong cast of Basil Rathbone (Known for the Sherlock Holmes series), Broderick Crawford (ALL THE KINGS MEN) and Alan Ladd (SHANE) in an early role. Sadly, a lot of this one is played for laughs, mostly at the hands of comedian Hugh Herbert whose schtick doesn’t hold up very well today. It’s still a fun watch though.

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361 11-14 Tropic of Desire (1979) 3/5
This is one from the later “Porno Chic” era by Bob Chinn. It’s a pretty ambitious piece, set during the later part of WW2, about the goings on of a whore house in Hawaii. It’s all played surprisingly serious, and while sex is obviously at the forefront, it’s not really at the expense of characterization. It’s hurt a bit from typical porn budget production values, but not enough to kill it’s ambitions. Plus it has a recreation of a classic smoker that has some startling acts that’s more than worth the time to watch as the sort of freak show you don’t usually see in movies anymore.

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362 11-15 Rolling Stones From The Vault – Hampton Coliseum 1981 (2014) 4/5
The Stones are opening up their archives and seem to be pumping out releases faster than ever. I think this is the first one “From the Vault”, and thankfully it’s pretty great. This was the first concert sold as a closed circuit pay-per view, and the Stones are in fine form supporting their most recent album TATTOO YOU. The highlight is Keith Richards clobbering a fan across the head with his guitar when the fan rushed on stage at Jagger. Richards doesn’t miss a beat and they finish the encore “Satisfaction” as if nothing happened. So yeah, greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, right there.

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363 11-15 Fantasy World (1979) 2.5/5
This one is the back-up feature on the same disc that TROPIC OF DESIRE was on, and also directed by Bob Chinn. It’s good, but it’s basically a loop carrier. The skimp plot is some Navy sailors are on leave (using the same boat sets and costumes found in TROPIC, so I’m guessing these were filmed back to back) in San Francisco who are looking for a live sex show. They enter Fantasy World, and proceed to watch and participate in the stage show/fantasies. The porn is fine, but there’s not much to note since none of them get all that weird despite Chinn’s artistic ambitions. The most notable thing ends up being legend Paul Thomas going back to his pre-porn JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR days (he played Judas in the film), writing and performing the theme song “If Wishes Were Horses”. All said in the end, this is yet another PeekARama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that offers some good value for the price.

So there it is. Even the dog films were pretty good this past week. Red River really was great, I might bump it to 4.5 on a second viewing. The theatrical is the directors preferred version, but he had to trim the ending. That ending is on the longer preview version. So the actual directors cut would be the theatrical with the preview ending. Oof! It’s kind of weird watching though since I know dad would of loved seeing it looking so good on blu.

Anyway, that’s enough until next week. Going to try to finish up the season of Doctor Who this week, on top of the usual movie watching.

The End

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Movie A day! 186-193 – “I’m On A Vacation!”

Right, so my staycation ended with me feeling under threat of a summer cold. I still feel like I’m on the verge of coming down with something, where the snot-hole in the back of your head feels iffy but you don’t have any actual symptoms of fever and runny nose and grossness. It’s horrible feeling like you might get sick with a cold when it’s 30C outside and it’s been going on for 3 days. So far I’m holding it off with pills. Keep thumbs held!

Due to potential oncoming sickness, I WATCHED MORE MOVIES! So you get two posts this week, you lucky lovelies! Here’s the start of August. AUGUST! Already August, what a crazy world we live in where months roll by so fast. Maybe it’s just me.

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186 08-01 The Rolling Stones: Sweet Summer Sun – Hyde Park London (2013) 4/5
This one is a concert film featuring the last show of their fiftieth anniversary tour. Features mostly concert footage with some narration, it’s surprisingly solid considering the near mummified state of the band. The set list is pretty much all hits by this point, I can’t imagine any fans of the Stones being let down by this release. As old as they are, there really is no sense in them stopping if they don’t wish too, they continue to deliver the goods. I’d argue that they are performing better now than they did in the late 70’s, early 80’s, only with the added thrill of wondering if their emaciated, petrified like limbs might break off mid-song.

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187 08-02 A Serious Man (2009) 2.5/5
This is another Coen brothers film, and the only one of theirs that managed to sneak by me when it came out. This one is basically about the life of a Jewish teacher in 1967 working on getting tenure or whatever they call it, and all the troubles that follow him. It’s a comedy, and it just isn’t all that interesting. You get a sense that it might be a bit biographical seeing as the Coens are Jewish and from the midwest, but it doesn’t really play that way either. It’s a bit of a broken thumb, following the also less than stellar BURN AFTER READING. Thankfully they’ll return more to form with their next picture, TRUE GRIT.

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188 08-03 Game of Thrones Season 4 (2014) 3.5/5
It took 4 years, but the show finally got good! Not much to say since it’s still has way too convoluted a plot. It’s made up for it by balancing all the talking and intrigue with some action. So I’ll stick it out and go for season 5.

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189 08-03 A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) 1.5/5
I heard that this one wasn’t very good, but really, how bad could it be? It’s DIE HARD! C’mon, fuckin’ John McClane ripping shit up in Russia! Ends up it’s pretty terrible. Willis couldn’t be less interested to be McClane one more time, with 80% of his dialogue being variations of “I’m on VACATION!” There is a plot, but it’s doesn’t matter when nearly the entire first third of the film is a car chase that makes no sense and is actually as boring as it is stupid. The look of the picture has such a digital polish that it doesn’t even look good. Even the poster sucks. Hopefully this picture kills the series. You can all make your own Die Hard jokes.

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190 08-04 The Manchu Boxer (1974) 2/5
This one is a pretty typical Raymond Chow Kung-Fu production. The title character gets kicked out of his house when he accidentally kills a guy in a fight due to his training where he punches hot gravel. He then gets mixed up in a big brouhaha of a martial arts contest which he doesn’t want to be a part of in case he kills someone again. It’s a bit plodding, and none of the fights are all that memorable. Sammo Hung pops up an extra in a couple of fights, but it’s not worth watching just for him. Actually, the most fun thing in the movie is recognizing stolen music cues, unless Pink Floyd did license material to this.

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191 08-04 The Big Parade (1925) 4/5
This one is King Vidor’s silent epic based on WW1. Seeing as it’s the anniversary of WW1 today, and I’m trying not to get sick with a flu that seems to be insisting on making me sick, I figured it was the perfect day to lay around and watch it. It’s widely considered to be one of the best silent films, and the first hour might have you wondering why. The basic plot is, WW1 is breaking out for America and a privileged do nothing signs up after being pressured by friends and his fiance. the first hour or so largely details his life in France, where not much happens as him and his two army buddies kick about waiting for orders. Once those orders come through, the whole picture shifts into battle mode and the horrors of WW1 trench style warfare start to knock the wind from you. A hell of a movie, with an incredibly natural performance by John Gilbert in the lead. Gilbert is mostly remembered now as the actor who lost his career when sound ended the silent era, and it’s a shame since he’s really good, including the odd performance I’ve seen of his in speaking parts.

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192 08-04 Marty (1953) 4/5
This is the original, live on TV broadcast version starring Rod Steiger. He plays a 37 year old butcher who’s henpecked by pretty much everyone in Queens to get married. The ending is a bit of a let down, but the journey there is amazing. Steiger is all wounded emotion, and puts in an absolutely incredible performance. It’s amazing that this was broadcast live once, and then the tape stuck away in a vault until the late seventies. It’s kind of a shame that TV doesn’t do this type of live drama stuff more often.

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193 The Skyhawk (1974) 2.5/5
This is on the same disc as MANCHU BOXER, and is a better movie. The Skyhawk is an older master of Shaolin Kung-Fu, or some such horseshit where he flips around a bunch when he fights, and his disciples (one of them Sammo Hung, again playing a character called “Fatso” in the crummy English dub) get mixed up in some crime intrigue while Skyhawk is visiting a relative in Thailand. It’s not the greatest chop-socky you will watch, but the fights are pretty decent and the film worked better than MANCHU BOXER did.

That’s probably it for this week. Time to take more pills and try to keep this cold away.

The End