Movie A Day! 026-030: “The Walls of Jericho”

So the weather has been insanely good for this time of year this past week, averaging around 5C most days, even having light rain. It shouldn’t be nicer than about -8C. Now I hate the cold, don’t get me wrong, I plan on moving to gentler climates. This unnatural, nice, spring like weather of the past week and a bit is more spooky than enjoyable to me. Yeah, global warming keeping us out of the -40C torture is nice to yuk about, but seeing as this is the second year in a row where this chinook like wave has happened in January, it’s leaves me feeling weary of the future. Meanwhile, scientists have ticked the “Doomsday Clock” two minutes closer to midnight. The bastards.

Let’s watch some movies!


026 01-18 It Happened One Night (1934) 4/5
Easily one of the most derided genre in films is the “Romantic Comedy.” The plots and actors are often interchangeable, you pretty much know how it’s going to end before it starts. Well, they all pretty much started here. Frank Capra makes one of the first screwball comedies, and it’s a smart, funny, and yes, romantic film. Claudette Colbert escapes from her rich father’s yacht and is trying to get to New York to reunite with her dopey husband that she eloped with. Along the way she runs into floundering newsman Clark Gable and the fun begins. It totally works, both the comedy of “manners” (Sex. This film is all about the politics of sex) and the slow, burning love story. It’s the first film to sweep the major awards at the Oscars, and Capra will go on to even greater pictures with a social conscience like “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”.


027 01-19 Orson Welles: The One Man Band (1995) 4/5
This is the final, full length documentary on Orson Welles that was featured on the Criterion Collection disc for F FOR FAKE and it’s a good one. It looks on all the post F projects Welles worked on, and never completed. Featuring fragments and clips shot for all types of films, it’s a bit heartbreaking to watch. Some of it, like Welles reciting lines from MOBY DICK don’t even really make sense since they don’t look like any kind of film, but are still completely captivating to watch. I’d take a book on tape version read by Welles. There’s also a lot of cool clips of Welles performing magic tricks and of course, interviews with Welles. It’s all good, and worth checking out, especially now as it seems like they’ve figured out the logistics to release his last mostly completed film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Fingers crossed anyway.


028 01-19 The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) 3/5
Not much to talk about with this one. It’s the fourth film in the Mummy series of Universal Monster movies, and the third to feature Kharis wandering around looking for Princess Anaka. Lon Chaney Jr. is back as the mummy, but in terrible “Burned Mummy” make-up that looks like they smeared mud all over his head. It drags along, but has a genuinely surprising and corny final act that actually makes it really worthwhile to watch.


029 01-22 Frank Capra’s American Dream (1997) 4/5
The meatiest of the special features on the IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT disc from Criterion, a feature length documentary on the the director. Like all good documentaries on the movies, this one features just the right amount of films clips to balance the talking heads. It leaves no film unturned while exploring the darker side of Capra’s personality since he dealt with bad depression all his life while making the idealistic films in the the history of the medium. My problem with films like this is it makes me want to rewatch all the films, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON should be mandatory viewing for anyone even thinking of entering politics.


030 Noon Wine (1966) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah hit the skids after MAJOR DUNDEE, managing to get blacklisted in Hollywood. This is a standalone story he shot for television, adapting the screenplay himself and directing. It tells a compact story of a dairy farmer (Jason Robards, who is typically great in this) who hires a Swede who’s a bit of an oddball to do all the heavy lifting on the farm since his wife (Academy award winning legend Olivia de Havilland, also typically great) is having health problems. It’s surprisingly warm for a Peckinpah film, but does take a relentless, dark turn that is surprising now, I can’t imagine what it must of been like when it aired in 1966. It ended up being a hit, Sam won awards for the script and direction, and moved on to make THE WILD BUNCH and solidifying himself as one of the great mavericks in Hollywood history. Ends up being a good film tossed on as a bonus feature on the Twilight Time release of THE KILLER ELITE.

I wonder why we no longer have anthology shows on television? At a time where HBO and the like are making better movies with series like GAME OF THRONES and THE WIRE then the actual movies, you’d think some network would block out an hour long spot to give filmmakers and playwrights a shot to have creative control to tell a story. I think the last ones we got were TWILIGHT ZONE type reboots, which is fine, but I can’t help but think a more wide open format would be at the very least interesting, if not great. Someone write Hollywood and TV a letter.

Until next time.

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Movie A Day! 408-421 – “The End?”

We made it to 2015. 2014 was one of the worst years I’ve had. Not going to lie. Starting 2015 in a rage after spending new years eve with extended family. Such selfishness abounds, it’s gross. Let’s all hope the rest of the year chills the fuck out.

Sorry, this one’s going to be a bit lengthy since I watched a bunch to end the year, and I have to total up the whole month. Straight to the movies!

408 12-28 The Killer Elite (1975) 3.5/5

James Caan and Robert Duvall star in this Sam Peckinpah actioner about a couple of CIA hitmen that come to odds with each other. This one seems to get panned a bit, but I really enjoyed it. There’s an extended sequence of martial arts training that is actually quite neat, and compliment the more briskly paced action bits of the latter half. Caan and Duvall are both good and the massive set piece ninja attack at the end is hilariously fun. So it may be lesser Peckinpah compared to his classics, but it’s still Peckinpah and worth a watch.

409 12-29 The Video Game Years 1977 (2012) 3/5
410 12-29 The Video Game Years 1978 (2012) 3/5
411 12-29 The Video Game Years 1979 (2012) 3/5
These are all available online via RetrowareTV youtube. Not the most studious history of video games that you will find, but a fun, nerdy one all the same. I get a pretty good nostalgia kick watching these since I’m ancient enough to have not only been around to play, but actually own a lot of the different machines and games on display.

412 12-29 The Ultimate Pleasure (1977) 2.5/5
Another Bonkers adult feature from Carlos Tobalina (JUNGLE BLUE). This one seems more straight plotwise, a wife is getting burned out and not wanting sex, so while her hubby goes to vegas to bang hookers for relief, she goes to a clinic. Then it takes a swerve into lala land where it becomes completely unclear as to if it’s actually happening or is all part of the drug induced therapy she is having. Then it takes another swerve into the weird with a massive dose of anti-consumerism rhetoric. Tobalina seems completely incapable of being coherent, which added to his piss poor directing where shots are out of focus, boom mikes are seen, and best of all, a crew member enters the frame to pull some wire out of the shot while a couple starts to get busy, this movie should be horrible. Yet, despite or because of all this, with the addition of a great cast of seventies adult stars like Annette Haven, Candida Royalle and John Holmes, it still manages to be entertaining.

413 12-30 The Video Game Years 1980 (2012) 3/5
414 12-30 The Video Game Years 1981 (2013) 3/5
415 12-30 The Video Game Years 1982 (2013) 3/5
416 12-30 The Video Game Years 1983 (2014) 3/5
Yeah, I really got hooked on watching these. Now I’m caught up since I stumbled on the series with the 1984 entry.

417 12-30 Zatoichi’s Conspiracy (1973) 4.5/5
So this is it, the last of the original Zatoichi films. It was a good one too, with Zatoichi returning to his home village to discover that a childhood friend is screwing over the town to profit on his own. Katsu is perfect as Zatoichi at this point, managing to be lovable and terrifying within the same shot. This set from Criterion is easily one of the finest purchases I have made in the hobby, and is highly recommended.

418 12-30 Loony Tunes Platinum Collection Vol 2 (2012) 5/5
This is a 3 disc set of blu-rays featuring hi-def remasters of Looney Tunes cartoons that I’ve been watching on and off since September or so. To say it’s mamoth is an understatement. The first two discs are all Looney Tunes with extras, covering fifty shorts each. Disc three though is the really good stuff. You get two documentaries on Tex Avery, a collection of cartoons done by Friz Freleng for MGM, and best of all, eleven cartoons done by Tex for MGM that manage to be about 100% more laugh out loud funny than the previous two discs. Why there isn’t a definitive Tex Avery collection out by now is beyond me. Add in some PRIVATE SNAFU toon’s made for the army, and dozens more bonuses and this set is fantastic and a must own for classic cartoon fans. My only nit pick is that it repeats cartoons from the Golden Collection DVD series, disc three isn’t in hi-def, and volume 3 is going to be the last volume since Warners bailed on the series, the assholes.

419 12-31 Almost True: The Noble Art of Forgery (1997) 2.5/5
420 12-31 Paradise Regained – The Making of Phantom of the Paradise 3.5/5
I watched the special features on a couple of discs I watched earlier in the year. ALMOST TRUE is from the fantastic Criterion release of Orson Welles’ F IS FOR FAKE that I loved so hard last month. It’s a more typical profile on Elmyr de Hory, the art forger covered in F. the rest of the features on the disc are equally good, a great interview with Welles on Tom Snydor, a profile on Clifford Erving on 60 Minutes, and a second doc on Welle’s that I still have to watch.

PARADISE is the main doc that comes with the Scream Factory release of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, and along with all the additional interviews and outtakes included, it tells you everything you would want to know about the film, and is entertaining too.

421 12-31 Dick Clarks New Years Rockin’ Eve Live 2015 (2014) 2.5/5
not much to say, pop stars since and a ball drops. It ends up that I like Taylor Swift now, and Charli XCX is the singer I liked on the AMA’s earlier in the month that I thought was a band called Crystal Head. This one get’s a half point knocked off for having crazy asshole Jenny McCarthy as a co-host.

Right, there it all is. I warned you it would be long! Now, let’s see my totals for the month:

45 Watched, 37 First Timers, 0 Theaters

Surprisingly big month! Lot’s of hour long things though to balance out the films so I guess that’s why it added up. Plus it’s cold out and I don’t like to leave the house. Let’s compare to last December:

33 Watched, 32 First Timers, 0 Theaters

Huh, this I think only the second month that I watched more than I did in 2013. Neat.

Now for the scary part, the year end numbers. 2014:

399 Watched, 335 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

I managed to watch more than a movie a day! It was looking a bit dodgy early on, but I made it. Yay me. 2013:

505 Watched, 435 First Timers, 15 In Theaters

Now there’s some movie watching for you! I used to have regular movie nights with friends where we would power through 4 or so movies once a week. Ah, those were the days. Funny thing, the theater experience has gotten so annoying with pre-sold tickets and cell phones that I don’t really miss it. This year we saw a new David Fincher film come out, GONE GIRL, as it was the only film of his I missed in the theaters. Between the experience and finding myself less and less interested in the franchise blockbusters, who knows how often I’ll bother to go in 2015.

My favourites of the year:

THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE – The movie is just such a hoot with great music. Well worth a spin

ZATOICHI THE BLIND SWORDSMAN – Obviously the massive Criterion boxset was going to be oo here.

THE ART OF KILLING – Disturbing documentaries are the best.

THE SWIMMER – Grindhouse releasing went odd and put out a Burt Lancaster film that ended up being the lost Twilight Zone episode that should of been.

BREAKING BAD – I’ll watch it all again, nuff said.

THE ERNIE KOVACS COLLECTION – The dawn of television comedy that beats most of what’s aired today.

ACE IN THE HOLE – A film about the media that ended up being prophecy.

RAW FORCE – the gonzo zombie, kung-fu, Hitler movie from Vinegar Syndrome. Actually, Vinegar Syndrome as a whole was a favourite, treating porno, sexploitation, exploitation and underground arthouse titles with the type of love the major studios don’t give their Alfred Hitchcock titles.

F FOR FAKE – I wont talk about this one a third time, I loved it but I can see it annoying the hell out of people.

Well, that’s about it. Maybe I’ll continue, maybe I wont. If I do continue, I might change it up a bit so it’s less time consuming to compile. We’ll all have to see.

Thank you to those who stuck around through my past year of movies, your reading and comments were and are appreciated!

The End.