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! : 161-167 – “Invasion of the Bees”

Another week, another blog. I’ve managed to stick to my 3 times a week workout as discussed previously. It’s slow going, but good. The eating part isn’t going as well sadly. I feel the need to eat the snacks I own so you know, FAT! I’m off work the next couple of weeks, just a staycation. I had some plans, but I feel like scrapping them. I’m used to being alone and whenever I have time to myself I just hermit. It’s got to be depression right? I’m not SAD, but I’m not happy either. Just nothing. Let’s fill the void with movies! HUZZAH! I managed to watch two different movies largely about bees. Accidental theme week!

161 07-14 Wings of Life (2011/2013?) 3.5/5

One of the jewels in the Disney crown, back when Walt still ran the show, was the TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURES series of feature films and shorts. Basically nature documentaries that told fun little stories of the animals depicted. What they may of lacked in hard science they more than made up for in entertainment and won the studio a slew of Oscars. All but abandoned, in the past 10 or so years Disney relaunched the series under the DISNEYNATURE banner, and every release has been really great. If you love the critters, and boy do I love critters, these dumb movies will have you squeeing all over the place, probably with tears in your eyes. This one wasn’t as good though. It looked like it was going to tell the story of bugs and butterflies and what not, and it does, but it’s all centered from the flowers point of view. Which is cool and novel, but it all gets a bit much in the narrative department and there’s never the tense, dangerous moments to really stir you up. That said, the photography is absolutely astonishing, and even the heavy handed environmental message (about the bee situation that actually is as dire and deserving of heavy handed attention as any ecological threat) makes it all work. It’s just no AFRICA CATS which has you going out of your mind watching lions raise their kittens. (All baby cat like things are kittens, I don’t care what anyone has to say about it.)

162 07-14 Ernie Kovacs: Take A Good Look (1959-1961) 4/5

This was a bonus disc included with the previously reviewd 6 disc set. It features nearly 3 hours of episodes from Kovacs TAKE A GOOD LOOK game show. It’s a panel show where three celebrities have to guess who a special guest is, based on three sets of clues. Kovacs had free range to produce the clues as skits, and you’ll never see more baffling surreal clues in a game show. It’s genuinely hilarious, and I could easily watch this 50 year old game show every day.

163 07-16 Zatoichi and the Doomed Man (1965) 3.5/5

Another fine installment. I think this one is film 11, so I’m not quite halfway through the initial series. This one see’s Zatoichi getting wrapped up in more yakuza troubles after being forced to help an innocent man sentenced to death. Not much more to say, the plot is a bit simpler than the previous one, but it’s still a fine film. The character continues to grow, he actively tries to avoid getting mixed up in all the intrigue, it’s pretty much a force of fate that guides him. The swordplay is typically excellent, this one featuring even longer takes of the flashing blade that genuinely makes things breathtakingly exciting. I’m going to continue to ration these to one a week, but I could easily binge watch this set.

164 07-19 Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) 3/5

I think this one is a knock-off of “The Stepford Wives”, though it beat the film version of the book to the box office. It’s a pretty goofy Sci-Fi horror about a town where men are winding up dead after having sex, due to Bee Girls which behave like queen bees and fuck men to death. It’s pretty sleazy, with most of the exploitation tropes of the era on full display, which makes it a fun watch. I have to admit, I’d fall for a Bee Girl, they’re pretty fabulous with their big sunglasses on.

Buzzz Buzzz!

165 07-19 God Bless Ozzy Osbourne (2011) 3.5/5

After the success of THE OSBOURNES, Ozzy became a pop culture joke. This documentary, produced by his son Jack, helps put him back into context as one of the most successful singers in music. It covers all the basics as far as a documentary goes, from his poverty riddled childhood right up to this 60th birthday and finally celebrating sobriety. In fact, the whole thing is really about his struggle with addiction. Since I only knew the very basics of his story, I found this genuinely interesting.

166 07-19 Bijou (1972) 4/5

This was Wakefiled Poole’s follow up to his hit film BOYS IN THE SAND. This one too is a hardcore gay porn, but the step up in quality is massive. Where as BOYS was basically a loop carrier of 3 vignettes, this one has a proper plot. A construction worker witnesses a woman get hit by a car on his way home, and snatches her purse that falls at his feet. Once home, he discovers a ticket to “Bijou”, and goes there. This one is silent like his other pictures, but the level of craft is surprising considered it was largely shot in his own apartment. His skill as a theatrical producer really shines, as well as his use of in camera double exposures and what not. So instead of playing like a porno for the raincoat crowd, it really feels more at home as an art film since the mood and shots allow for different interpretations. For example; you’re never sure if the lead is straight or gay. It’s things like this that elevate it. As per usual, Vinegar Syndrome put this out looking beautiful with some nice extras, including an introduction and commentary by Poole that was interesting and informative.

167 07-20 Jackass Presents : Bad Grandpa (Extended Cut) 3.5/5

Liked this one in the theater, and really enjoyed revisiting is with the extended cut. Not much different between the two I don’t think, just scenes playing out a little longer so you get more ball sack. If you like Jackass, I’m sure you’ll like this. If you hate Jackass, then you should probably skip it.

There we are! Not a bad week of movie watching. I just got a load of Criterion releases in the mail as I was prepping this, so theirs a chance we might be seeing some fancier movies in next weeks round up. You will come back to see right? Remember to share and like this if you can. Maybe I can get rich with a popular blog? HA!

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Movie a Day! : 144-153 – The End of June

Right, I’m keeping this intro brief. I watched more movies, let’s look at them and wrap up June!

144 06-24 I Love Lucy Season 2 (1952) 4/5
More of the same classic comedy as the first season. The writing and performances remain top notch and my concern of introducing a baby to the family so far hasn’t had a negative effect. (Introducing kids to shows always has a negative effect.)

145 06-25 Bob Dylan – The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993) 4/5
This one was recently released on blu-ray with everything looking and sounding great. I remember getting the pay per-view of this one back in ‘93. There are some differences, they cut George Thorogood’s performance of “Wanted Man” to the dismay of no one. I’m wondering if it was a rights issue? Anyway, what’s here is great so I guess my only complaint would be that it’s not truly “complete.” It is kind of sad seeing so many of the performers featured, like Lou Reed and George Harrison (in his last live performance I believe) who have now passed away. At any rate, the performances and songs more than hold up.

146 06-26 Double Agent 73 (1974) 2/5
This is the second film that Chesty Morgan made with Doris Wishman, and it’s just as shit as the first one. This one’s plot is, Chesty is an undercover agent who has a camera surgically implanted in her massive tits so as to gather evidence to crack a heroin ring. This of course gives her the excuse to flop her horrendous tits out in regular intervals. It’s as unpleasant as the first film, but so ridiculous and ballsy in it’s stupidity that you can’t help but watch it. These two films are certainly cult classics.

147 06-26 The Immoral Three 3/5
This one is the last film in the Chesty Morgan set from Something Weird. This one again follows Agent 73, thankfully replaced by another actress. She’s killed, so it’s up to her three daughters to avenge her death and collect her three million dollar inheritance. This one is the best film in the set, partly due to having people on screen who you actually want to watch instead of the skin diseased-like horrors of the Chesty freak shows. This one is more softcore as well, with a banana being eaten in a way that no banana deserves to be. It’s a bit “Charlie’s Angels” in a fun, exploitation way as well, though don’t expect much in plot or presentation since regardless of how many films Wishman made, she never seemed to improve.

148 06-26 A Gift (1970) 3/5
This is another short film by Wakefield Poole. Shot in the same Fire Island locations that “Boys in the Sand” would be shot, it also features some hardcore shots mixed with some of the editing tricks found in “Andy”. It makes for a nice little art film. That said, the commentary that is included that tells the story behind it is heartbreaking-ly wonderful.

149 06-28 Head Film (1969) 2/5
This one is an experimental short film by Wakefield Poole that is kind of neat but pretty forgettable in the end. It’s clearly him playing with the camera, filming his boyfriend around the house.

150 06-28 Vittorio (1971) 3/5
This is the final short film by Wakefield Poole on the “Boys in the Sand” DVD and is a cut-up animation that played during a gallery show by Canadian poster artist Vittorio Fiorucci. It was kind of neat for what it is. Now that I’ve watched all the shorts, I guess I have to watch the feature porno.

151 06-29 Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) 3.5/5
I don’t know what it is, but when the directors name is part of the title, I instantly have no desire to see the movie. See every film made by Tyler Perry as examples of movies I have no desire to see that has the directors name in the tite. This is the second film I’ve seen by Daniels. I was not a fan of “Precious”, a film so incredibly over the top in depicting the horribly abused life story of the title character that it was unintentionally hilarious. Anyway, I knew this was a film that mum would like to watch since Oprah is in it and the disc was cheap so I gave it a shot. It’s pretty good, and it’s entirely due to the performances of Oprah and Forest Whitaker. Plot wise, it’s a bit too convenient and over the top in depicting the real life tragedies of the Civil Rights movement that it almost flirts with the “Precious” level of ridiculous, but holds off just enough. I’m guessing Daniels just can’t help himself with trying way too hard to manipulate audiences emotions that he can’t just let the material speak for itself.

152 06-30 Philomena (2013) 4/5
I typically don’t seek out Judi Dench films (I’m racist), but when Stephen Frears or Steve Coogan are involved I’ll check it out. This one was wonderful. The plot, a woman seeks the son that was put up for adoption 50 years prior, sounds like the Lifetime networks movie of the week. The performances help to elevate the material and it’s quite a wonderful journey of discovery to be on that ends up not falling for many of the tropes these types of films tend to fall into. It’s well worth checking out.

153 06-30 Boys in the Sand (1971) 3/5
This one is considered the first mainstream, hardcore gay porn film. Directed by Wakefield Poole, it plays a lot like his other feature that I’ve seen, “Bible!”, except with hardcore. This one is basically a series of three vignettes, each dealing with a fantasy element as star Casey Donovan dreams up guys to fuck. It really is more of an art film. Like “Bible!”, there is no spoken dialog, just music so it plays like a porno “Fantasia.” It’s shot in a natural, documentary style, so there’s no harsh lighting or massive close-ups like in most porno, the scenes play out in a sort of dreamscape with sharp editing. Anyway, it’s not a bad film at all, but I doubt I’ll re-watch it much aside from listening to the commentary track. Vinegar Syndrome did their typical great job on this one. And 13 year old me from the 80’s would be shocked to know that 40 year old me could watch, much less own a gay porn and not have a dick in his mouth immediately after viewing. It’s funny how things change, having lived through the homophobia of the 80’s AIDS period.

Right, that’s it for the movies of June. Considering the traumatic events of the month, I watched a bunch. Let’s look at the numbers!

24 Watched, 23 First Timers0 In Theaters

Woof, 24 movies in the month. I think that’s the worst. Let me look. Nope, not the worst month this year. Let’s see how it compared to this time last year, here’s June 2013:

55 Watched, 52 First Timers1 In Theater

So another month where I’m down in my viewing. Though 55 movies last June? What the fuck? One of them was “Cleopatra” which is 4 hours long. I was either amazing or horrible last year. Let’s not judge.

It’s mid-year too. I’m currently at 153 films, compared to 233 films at this time in 2013. I don’t think it’s possible for me to beat last year. Scary Movie October is coming up though, where I abandon all hope and binge watch as many movies as possible, much to the detriment of my mental health. So we’ll see what happens.

I don’t know what to expect in the months to come.

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Movie a Day! 045-051 The End Of February

It’s Friday and time for another blog! Let’s wrap up my watching from February eh? This one features everything from porn to classic television. Genre and taste be damned! When it comes to movies, YOU GOTTA WATCH ‘EM ALL!

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045 02-15 Devil on a Chain (2013) 3/5
Kimberly Kane, takes a stab at porno exploitation as opposed to her usual Alt/Gonzo work. It mostly works with a plot that moves the picture forward despite trying a bit too hard to be “exploitation” campy with vengeance genre tropes instead of playing it straight. Seeing as Kane is the director, there is a certain “girl power” element to this where even the female victim characters are better than the doofy guys. So that’s interesting. The only problem is the one that all modern non-gonzo porn has; and that’s the 20-30 minute sex scenes that grind everything to a halt. I’m guessing this is so that they can be cut out of the film and sold online individually. Shorter sex scenes to balance the plot and this could of been a real winner. Then again, most people probably aren’t watching this for the plot….

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046 02-16 Wakefield Poole’s Bible! (1973) 3/5
Here’s a weird one, hardcore gay porn pioneer Wakefield Poole does a softcore tribute to Disney’s “Fantasia”, using 3 stories from the bible. It starts off a bit slow with the Adam & Eve opener, but then Georgina Spelvin steals the show in the slapstick Bath Seba segment and the final Samson & Delila is straight up beautiful. It’s cheap and looks it, but it works. Another case of directorial passion overwhelming the meager means. Vinegar Syndrome out did themselves as usual with a feature packed disc and I doubt the film will ever look better.

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047 02-16 Salome (1943) 3/5
The last film in my Rita Hayworth set is the classic style of Bible picture that Hollywood is no longer known for: the Bible picture that uses religion as a background to push sleaze and sex past the censors. It all comes to a froth with Rita’s dance of the seven veils which is an astounding set piece that’s worth sitting through all the religious bullshit to get to.

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That’s the set above, picked up via an Amazon sale. Seeing as I paid the price that “Gilda” would of been on it’s own, it was a hell of a deal. Being more critical, “Gilda” was by far the best film, with the rest being merely okay musical/melodramas with musical bits in them. All the transfers look fine for DVD, the extras are practically non-existent. I give it 3/5.

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048 02-22 Ditto (1937) 2.5/5
049 02-22 Love Nest on Wheels (1937) 2.5/5
The last of Buster Keaton’s Educational Pictures shorts go out with a bit of a whimper. They feel like he was going through the paces to finish up a contract, but each still have a bit or two in them to keep you interested.

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That FINALLY finishes the massive Buster Keaton blu-ray set from Kino that I started in May 2013. Featuring, as far as I know, his complete independent silent output before signing with MGM. It’s pretty much essential viewing if you’re interested in silent comedy. I give it a 5/5 despite not having any particularly great extras like a documentary to put the films in context.

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050 02-22 Side Effects ( 2013 ) 4/5
Revisited this one on Blu-ray. It holds up really well on a second viewing. A pharmaceutical noir that gets really twisty but stays believable despite getting a bit out there plot wise. Man, I’m really going to miss getting new Soderbergh films if his retirement is real.

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051 02-27 I Love Lucy Season 1 (1951) 4/5
The first hit sitcom! I think, “The Honeymooners” might actually be first. At any rate, this was certainly one of the first. Mums other favourite show (the other favourite being “All in the Family”), so seeing as Dad isn’t doing too great in hospital I spin a couple of these a week to brighten her spirits. It’s a bit weird watching these in that they are pretty much the template for every sitcom that followed. So they seem familiar even though they are first time viewings for me, outside of clip shows of course. That said, they are on the whole deadly funny. Lucille Ball was one of the all time great comedians and clowns, and she really goes to town. Dezi and the supporting cast were no slouches either. Some of it, particularly gender rolls, will seem hopelessly outdated to modern viewers so best not to worry about it and just enjoy the comedy.

So there it is, February is at an end and we will march into March. Here’s my total viewing tally for February 2014:

17 Watched  15 First Timers  00 In Theaters 

So I have fallen behind my movie a day. Panic! Here’s where I was at last February:

29 Watched, 25 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

My overall total by the end of February in 2013 was 60 films. I’m 9 films off from last year and 8 films off for “A Move A Day”. I should be able to make that up. I hope. Let’s not panic yet.

Next week we should be able to wrap up all of march in a couple of posts. Then we’ll see if/how this blog will continue. Please share with your movie loving friends, “like” and do all that other social media stuff. My ego demand constant petting!

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