Movie A Day! : 230-237 “I have returned from hell!”

An exciting week on the ol’ Movie A Day blog this week. I made it to the theaters! I watched a Zatoichi! I may start a second, side blog! Read on!

https://i1.wp.com/1.media.dorkly.cvcdn.com/26/95/18b149286ca6f2920e017bd5d2ffcbf5.jpg

230 09-01 Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) 4/5
I finally made it out of the bunker to the cinema to view a film! This one I had little interest in since the trailers all left me flat. So this might be a “low expectations” case but I really loved it. James Gunn hasn’t made a bad picture (and made one of the best superhero films with “Super”), so it shouldn’t be a big surprise. I’m going to credit that since this one is based on a garbage comic book that no one read, it’s free of all the baggage that follows the other Marvel films. It also has actual heart, the stupid raccoon kept making me cry. So yeah, a winner that helps ease the pain that we will never see Edgar Wright’s ANT-MAN.

https://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/91/MPW-45870

231 09-01 The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) 4/5
Seeing how Wes Anderson films are all so overly designed and staged, it seems inevitable that he would take a crack at not only an animation feature, but a stop motion animation film. Based on Roald Dahl’s book and featuring many of his regular cast doing the voices, the film is simply a fun joy that isn’t the broken thumb in his filmography that it could have been.

https://i0.wp.com/a.wattpad.com/cover/21243733-256-k660852.jpg

232 09-01 Doctor Who: Tales From the TARDIS (2013) 2.5/5
I’ve decided to watch the new season of Doctor Who, so I thought I’d start of with this special from last year to get myself up to date. It has some fun behind the scenes stories from all of the surviving Doctors, but did nothing to really get me up to date so that plan was dashed. Anyway, Season 8 with the new Doctor sounds good regardless after the teen idol Doctors I couldn’t bother watching (and the clips contained in here confirmed my decision) so I’ll still give the series a go. Tempted to do side posts tracking the separate stories since Doctor Who is so episodic. Any interest?

https://i1.wp.com/www.moviefanfare.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/bang02.jpg

233 09-02 Bang the Drum Slowly (1956) 3.5/5
Another live broadcast from the Golden Age Of Television set, this one stars a pre-fame Paul Newman in the whirlwind roll of a baseball player/writer who deals with a teammates diagnoses of a fatal disease. It was everything you would hope it to be with stellar performances and a genuinely touching story.

https://russonabus.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/f8c20-thewholetownstalking.jpg

234 09-03 The Whole Town’s Talking (1935) 3.5/5
This one is a real oddball. A comedy of mistaken identity that’s directed by John Ford, who specialized in westerns, and starring Edward G. Robinson, who was known for his tough guy persona. It works though since Ford was a master craftsman, and Robinson one of the greatest actors in film. Robinson has no problems in the dual role playing both the meek clerk who get’s mistakenly identified as a murderous gangster, and shows surprising for the period subtlety in his handling of both characters. Jean Arthur (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington) is solid as usual in the supporting role, and man, I need a Jean Arthur in my life.

https://i1.wp.com/static.eigapedia.com/movie-image/zatoichi-16.jpg

235 09-04 Zatoichi the Outlaw (1967) 4/5

This one is the first in the series to be produced by star Katsu and holy shit was it good! At first it had a cheaper look, seemed kind of blown out on the blu ray transfer. It could be age related though. Once the film got going though, the big change was the tone is way darker, even a bit sleazy, and it made the whole, typical Zatoichi mixed up with Yakuza bosses plot all that much more gripping. Plus they’ve added in blood and special effects so limbs are flying off. It was awesome! It’s ridiculous how much joy I get when there’s bonus gore in a film! I’m sick!

236 09-05 The Violation of Claudia (1977) 3/5

Before making a name for himself as a master of cult-horror with titles like the amazingly brutal MANIAC and the MANIAC COP series, William Lustig got his start in porn with this one, his first film. Going by the name “Billy Bagg”, this one is basically a hardcore version of Bunuel’s BELLE De JOUR. Sharon Mitchell stars as the affluent housewife being ignored by her husband who is looking for some adventure in her life. Fortunately her tennis instructor (played by Jamie Gillis) is a pimp on the side. It’s not as stupid as it sounds, and for the large part it works as a proper movie, more in the elevated Henry Paris style than typical porn. The commentary on this one, hosted by director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE) is as entertaining as the film, with Lustig having many stories to tell, and proud of his humble beginnings. Lustig’s other porn, HOT HONEY is included, I’ll probably watch it next weekend.

237 09-06 Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) 4/5

Another dead solid Marvel movie to wrap up the week! This one feels more like a true follow up to THE AVENGERS than the stupid IRON MAN 3 did. Basically Cap deals with an insidious plot to undermine SHIELD that manages to give closure to the first Captain America film while pushing the whole universe of stories forward. This helps clear up some of the odd bits of MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD that had me thrown while watching season one. Good stuff all around, Marvel really has these movies figured out. (Aside from IRON MAN which is the only series that seems to get progressively worse.)

So there we are! Not a bum movie in the bunch! So what do you think, do you want to see Doctor Who run downs? I’ll post them here if you like. Answer the poll! Actually, there is no poll, when I click “Add Poll” on this stupid thing the screen goes grey and nothing happens. What a piece of shit! So let me know in the comments. You should all be leaving me comments on how great I am anyway. What, do I sound like I have a lots of self esteem or something? To hell with all of you!

The End

Advertisements

Movie A Day! : 214-229 “The End of August!”

The end of August! How the fuck did that happen? Where did summer go? This is a long one, so enough philosophical idiocy and on to the movies!

214 08-25 The Curtain Pole (1909) 2.5/5
This is the very first film included in a new, Hi-Def Mack Sennett collection. Whose he? He’s the guy in the picture that pretty much invented “Slapstick Comedy” and would go on to discover nearly every major figure of silent films. Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, all got a start with Sennett. He is ground zero for comedy. This one is co-directed by the legendary D.W. Griffith (director of the notoriously racist BIRTH OF A NATION) and is about a guy who buys a really long curtain pole who gets drunk and proceeds to knock people down all over the place while trying to get it home. Look, this is before there was such a thing as Hollywood or even multi-reel movies. D.W. will later be key in inventing editing as we know it, and no one will remember this goofy little movie.

215 08-27 Zatoichi’s Cane-sword (1976) 3/5
This one was once again a little different from the previous ones, just enough to keep it being interesting. Zatoichi once again get’s mixed up in all kinds of small town Yakuza intrigue. The difference in this one is that a master sword-smith informs him that his blade is used up, after one more killing, his cane-sword will break. This little nugget means that the film has a lot less action than previous entries and a much different tone in that it relies more on character work. It’s still a good film, and never boring. It is definitely slower paced though. That said, the look of this one is the best yet, it has that amped up look and style that can be found in the spaghetti westerns of the period, which makes sense since spaghetti westerns and Samurai films really go hand in hand with each other.

216 08-28 A Wind From The South (1955) 2.5/5
This one is another live television broadcast of a play. Starring Julie Harris (EAST OF EDEN and THE HAUNTING) as an Irish girl looking after the family inn with her dickhead brother. Americans are visiting, and she finds fleeting romance. As per the other plays in the set, the performances are top notch, this one even includes an Irish fiddle band complete with kids doing a fling. My problem is the melodramatic, soap-opera like plot isn’t really my cup of tea.

217 08-28 Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season 1 (2013) 3/5
If ever there was a show on TV that should be MY show, this would be it. For some reason I never got excited about it. Actually, I know why I never got excited, it’s about Agent Coulson. Why this character is so popular, I have no idea. Anyway, a Marvel comics show spawned from the superhero movies without any superheros, I don’t see the point. (Expect to see this phrase repeated if I end up watching GOTHAM, the Batman show without Batman that DC are forcing upon us next year.) Many will tell me that the point is Joss Whedon is the show runner so it will be amazing. Whedon’s hand is definitely apparent in that everyone has supermodel looks and all the characters have the same voice. Just like Buffy and Angel and his best work, FIREFLY! Now, alllllllll that said, I didn’t hate it. The first episode is so shit terrible quality wise I nearly stopped watching (network TV soundtracks/sound mixes are an annoying pet peeve of mine which is why I’ve never seen LOST), and most of the first half of the season is largely uninspired. I held out since people I trust (nerd, geeks and other losers) kept telling me how good it was, and the second half of the season is indeed better and actually manages to be good. I’m torn between thinking the big twist is a cheat or inspired writing. It’s not cumming-my-pants-off great like BREAKING BAD, but it’s good enough that I’ll watch it next season.

218 08-29 Hotel Chevalier (2007) 3.5/5
219 08-29 The Darjeeling Limited (2007) 3.5/5
Yup, more Wes Anderson. Darjeeling tells the story of three brothers reunited a year after their father’s death on a spiritual journey through India to see their absent mother. This one left me flat the first time round, but I really enjoyed this second viewing. That’s why you should watch some movies more than once I guess. HOTEL CHEVALIER is a short film about one of the brothers, Jason Schwartzman’s character that leads into the main film but is separate enough that it makes sense that it was released separate. Anyway, it’s good, even rat faced asshole Adrien Brody is good in this.

220 08-29 All Night Long (1975) 2/5

This was the first film in a PEEKARAMA double feature by Vinegar Syndrome that features two films by the same director, and both starring porn legend John Holmes. This one, about a competition between two guys who have to bed a bunch of women in order to win the “Golden Rod” award pretty much stunk. Holmes couldn’t be more disinterested in this one, his typically never quite hard monster dong is so flaccid that he has to literally stuff it into the women. It’s as horrific to watch as it sounds. No wonder porn has a bad name. The plot never elevates the film to proper “Porno Chic” status since it’s a loop carrier of the most base kind with the linking narrative never working as a comedy. I’m going to guess this didn’t actually win “Best Erotic Film” as the poster claims.

221 08-29 Punk Rock (Soft Version) (1977) 3/5
222 08-30 The Pleasure Palace (Soft Version) (1979) 2/5
I needed a palate cleanse after ALL NIGHT LONG so I watched this double feature by porn auteur Carter Stevens. Typically, softcore versions of hard core porn should be avoided. The reason I picked this one up was because of PUNK ROCK. To pad the running time lost by cutting out the hardcore, he added in clips of bands playing at punk mecca Max’s Kansas City in New York. In fact, when Steven’s was in pre-production, the main band “The Stilettos” had Debbie Harry singing. She left prior to filming to form “Blondie”, and sadly, The Stilettos and the other bands (The Squirrels have the coolest jackets ever) left in the film are more bad than good. It’s still a heck of a time capsule of New York punk though. The film isn’t bad either. A detective story where a PI is looking for a missing girl. the first 20 minutes or so is hampered editing wise since it was more porn than plot, after that though it’s pretty much a cop film with the odd sex scene that needs editing to keep things softcore.

Pleasure Palace suffers more from being cut to softcore since it’s the story of a New York cop and his lawyer buddy buying out a whore house and running it. So really, plot wise, it’s flat out porn and pretty near the first two thirds of the picture play like a mid-level raunchy comedy with the good bits cut out. Then something happens. Legend Jamie Gillis shows up as a crime boss wanting to move in on the whore house, and after one more edited sex scene, the film plays out for nearly thirty minutes with nary a porn bit. And it’s a really good thirty minutes of crime film too. Gillis is dead solid in the roll, and the other main leads Eric Edwards and Robert Kerman (Cannibal Holocaust) are just as good as the entire tone of the film shifts. I’m curious to pick up the porn version, I bet it plays better and would make it a 3.5/5 picture.

223 08-30 Blue Thunder (1983) 3.5/5
224 08-30 Ride With The Angels: The Making of Blue Thunder (2006) 3.5/5
So, I think I was ten years old when I first saw Blue Thunder, and let me tell you, it was one of the greatest movies ever made. Ever. So revisiting it thirty years later, it’s not. It’s a bit hackney in the way eighties action films seem now, but… it still totally works. Despite the hacky-ness, once things really get rolling in the third act, time travel took place and I got wrapped up in it. Geezer, modern day Russ can also appreciate the cast. Daniel Stern in a very early, pre-C.H.U.D roll, Malcolm McDowell as the asshole baddie and character actor Warren Oats is tremendous in one of his last rolls.
The making of on this one is done by Charles de Lauzirika. You might not know the name, but DVD fans know that the best documentaries to be found on their favourite movies tend to come from him, especially on Ridley Scott discs. This one is no different, is pretty near feature length when watched all at once and is as fun and entertaining as the film it’s about. To be completely honest, it was the promise of the de Lauzirika doc that sold me on the Blu-ray. (and it was $10)

225 08-30 Tapestry of Passion (1976) 3/5
This one is the second film on that disc with ALL NIGHT LONG and is a way better movie. This one stars John Holmes as “Johnny Wadd”, his iconic detective character that made him the biggest adult star, well, aside from his monster cock. I’ve never seen a Johnny Wadd film, so I don’t know how this compares to the others in the series. On it’s own, it’s way more entertaining than other film on the disc, and has a better cast too with Annette Haven (BARBARA BROADCAST) and others. Not the greatest film ever made, but makes the disc worthwhile at least. In one of the oddest things I’ve seen in a porn film, the movie ends about a third of the way into a threesome with the three main stars. Who’s editing choice was that? My only critique with Vinegar Syndrome is that their films are so fucking bonkers, they need liner notes or something to explain what you’re watching.

226 08-31 Cry Wilderness (1987) 2.5/5
227 08-31 In Search of Bigfoot (1976) 3.5/5
Speaking of Vinegar Syndrome being weird, here’s a PG rated Drive-In collection of bigfoot movies. BIGFOOT MOVIES! The first, CRY WILDERNESS, is terrible. It’s about a boy who has befriended Bigfoot, though no one believes him because why would you? The boys off in a boarding school because his dad is a forest ranger and has no time to raise him. Bigfoot shows up in the middle of the night as a weird vision to warn him that his dad is in danger, so the kid hitchhikes to the forest and who cares. It’s a feel good family film about a boy and bigfoot that manages to just be strange since everyone is overdubbed in a most horrendous fashion. This makes for many scenes of adults laughing at animals like raccoons making a mess of a kitchen like they are on a strange acid trip. Why was this film made? Why is it over dubbed when the actors are speaking english? Why would VS release it? These are all questions I can not answer.
IN SEARCH OF BIGFOOT is a straight up documentary about a guy who has seen bigfoots all over the god damned place and fuck it, he’s gonna catch a Squatch and prove the haterz wrong! As far as gonzo documentaries from the seventies go, you can do a lot worse. It’s hilarious, but the dudes commitment to catching a bigfoot is so strong, that when it all ends in tears it’s kind of touching. In true seventies fashion, they have to have a wet t-sirt waterfall frolic for the grindhouse pervs. Awesome.

228 08-31 One Hour Photo (2002) 3.5/5
229 08-31 Lensing ‘One Hour Photo’ (2013) 3/5
Spun this one for a second viewing. Probably not the greatest film to watch of Robin Williams since it’s so incredibly dark, but fuck it, he’s amazing in it. You’ve seen the film so I won’t explain it other than to say that if you think it’s dated due to the fact that no one uses film in their cameras anymore in the digital age we live in, you can pretend it’s an early assignment of Agent Coulson’s from before he was recruited to be an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D since he’s in it in a bit part. I’m including the documentary on this one too since it ended up being directed by Charles de Lauzirika and was as interesting as you would expect. It was also completely different in approach compared to the BLUE THUNDER one, which is why he’s so damned good at this making of stuff.

Few! That was a bunch of movies huh? I like that dumb SHIELD show and squeezed in an awkward Robin Williams movie in light of his passing. Let’s look at the numbers.

44 Watched,  32 First Timers,  0 In Theaters

Not bad, this is more on track to last year!

38 Films, 36 First Timers, 3 Theater

For the first time this year, I beat last years numbers! Oh, some might think I’m cheating counting a 8 minute silent film and “making of” documentaries on DVDs, but I also watched 3 TV shows! So I did good this month.

Best of August: THE ASSOCIATION and SILICONE VALLEY.

The End

Movie A Day! : 204-213 “Big Hunka Love”

Two posts in one week! You lucky lucks! This one catches up the rest of the films I watched during the last week when I wasn’t posting due to the cloud of moodiness. I ended up watching quite a bit due to throwing my back out and being barely able to walk around by the time I got home from work. Nothing enables movie watching like sickness or physical pain. I mean, I’d rather lay about and watch movies anyway. When you’re healthy and watching movies, you’re lazy. If you’re sick though, you’re getting better and doing the right thing. Let’s all get incurable but non-fatal diseases so we can be empowered to watch more movies!

https://i1.wp.com/www.elvis-history-blog.com/images/ThatsTheWayPoster.jpg

204 08-17 Elvis : That’s the Way It Is (Special Edition) (2001) 3.5/5
This is a concert film documenting Elvis’s return to live performances via his opening week in Las Vegas. It’s great. Elvis is a bundle of nerves, and the energy is contagious when he gets going. His voice is fantastic and he really does look like a King. You could argue that he is at his peak here, from here on it’s all a slide downhill into drugs and poor health. This version concentrates more on performance and cuts a bunch of the interview type material that made the original film from 1970 fun but severely dated. On another note, every poster for this sucked. Look at that fucking outfit, why not show him in the dazzling white suit he’s seen in the film in?

https://russonabus.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/3d0f3-elvis-thats-the-800-75.jpg

See? Already a better picture for the poster despite the doof on bass behind him.

https://i0.wp.com/ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMTczNTY3OTE0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAyODIyMTE@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

205 08-18 Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage (1966) 3.5/5
This one finds Zatoichi again grappling with the morality of killing hundreds (thousands?) of men, so he decides to begin a pilgrimage to the 81 temples to find enlightenment. Guess how it goes? Another fantastic edition, that also featured one of the best scenes yet of his swordsmanship in the opening.

https://i2.wp.com/deneroff.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/windowslivewriterlifemagazinephotosonline-e87cno-time-for-sergeants-on-broadway-thumb.jpg

206 08-19 No Time for Sergeants (1955) 4/5
Based on the introduction, this was Andy Griffith’s debut on live television (via the United States Steel Hour), and his first experience acting in a play. It’s an absolutely amazing performance, and you can literally see his star being born. From here he would move on to winning a Tony for the Broadway adaptation, then his TV series. The play itself is hilarious, and a rare example of comedy being performed on live television as opposed to the typical dramas.

https://i0.wp.com/cineplex.media.baselineresearch.com/images/355664/355664_full.jpg

207 08-20 A Brief History of Time (1991) 4/5
Errol Morris is a master of the documentary, and this one is no exception. Spending equal time with Stephen Hawking’s biography and theory explanation, it manages to never be boring and surprisingly accessible to people like me whose brain starts to sing “LA LA LA LAAAA”  when physics are being explained. I guess the only knock you can have against the film now is that it’s twenty plus years out of date, and I think the theory presented has been disproved, or changed or whatever happens with the science. Fucking science, always changing. They’re redoing Cosmos now! Fucking kids and their new science!

https://i0.wp.com/www.fulltv.com.ar/images/peliculas/este-es-elvis.jpg

208 08-22 This Is Elvis (Extended Video Version) (1981) 4/5
Elvis week continues! This one is a straight up documentary detailing his life. The good is that it features a whole bunch of clips of Elvis, mostly of song performances. The bad is that they have actors recreating parts of his life, and a guy narrating the film as Elvis in the first person but kind of from the afterlife. It makes it unnecessarily weird, especially the opening scenes of his last night alive in Graceland. That said, you do get a good picture of his life, and they don’t hold back on the negatives either. If all you know is “Fat Elvis” of popular culture, you owe it to yourself to see some of this stuff to see why he was the King. Plus theirs priceless footage of him stoned out of his skull, kicking members of his Memphis Mafia in the nuts during a karate demo. Seriously, MUST SEE STUFF!

https://i2.wp.com/img18.imageshack.us/img18/8302/dt1e.jpg

209 08-23 The Dragon Tamers (1975) 3/5
At first glance, this one is a typical Kung-Fu picture about some guy wanting to challenge some other guy to see who’s the better fighter and getting mixed up in some school clash. What separates this one though, is it’s the second picture directed by John Woo. Being a huge fan of THE KILLER and HARD BOILED, two films that I would put at the top of any “Best Of” list, it was fun to see Woo working in the Golden Harvest trenches. Even at this point you can see his style coming to form, with slow motion and other style tricks. The plot too, with heavy emphasis on loyalty and friendship fit solidly into the Woo cannon. The opening girl fight in the mud though, not so much, that bit seems more at home in a women in prison film. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Machete Kills Movie Poster

210 08-23 Machete Kills (2013) 3/5
I liked this one much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love trash, and I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and his homemade films. It’s more of a case of just how good can the second film of a series based off a fake trailer be? Ends up nearly as good as the unlikely first film. I think it would of played better a smidge shorter on a double bill, which really is how these films should be seen but never well since GRINDHOUSE shit the bed at the box office. Shame on all of you who skipped seeing that one in the theaters. Anyway, it’s big, it’s stupid and it leaves a big smile on your face. I really hope they do the MACHETE KILLS IN SPACE movie, that one looks amazing.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8067/8251693716_89655b3c6d.jpg

211 08-23 Candy Goes To Hollywood (1979) 3/5
This is the sequel to THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY, and is the better film. Thora Birch’s mom Carol Connors is back in the lead role, this time heading to Hollywood where she gets hooked up with a sleaze-bag agent played by John Leslie who sends her out to numerous shows to get taken advantage off. The spoofs of the Tonight Show and The Gong Show are pretty fun, and John Leslie is actually a really good actor who could of had a career outside of porn. The real cult draw, and the reason why I had seen this one previously, is the appearance of pre-Plasmatics punk legend Wendy O. Williams shooting ping pong balls out of her pussy during the Gong Show spoof. So obviously this one is on the very top of all of your “Must See” lists. Another winner, double feature from Vinegar Syndrome.

https://russonabus.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/37b33-hippieposter.jpg

212 08-24 An American Hippie in Israel (1972) 2/5
This one is considered a cult classic, but it left me completely flat. It’s what the title says, an American hippie arrives in Israel and starts preaching his hippie horseshit. It’s funny and of it’s time, but it’s more BAD bad then fun bad, with constant preaching about “The Man” and the evils of war. It just never worked. I picked it up since the company that did the blu-ray, Grindhouse Releasing have been dead solid in the past. Oh well, you can’t like everything.

https://i0.wp.com/www.jackasscritics.com/images/movies/life_aquatic_01.jpg

213 08-24 The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) 4/5
More Wes Anderson guys! I’m not going to get too into it other than to say that once again I was surprised at how good it was. It’s such a goofy premise, some guy hunting down a shark that killed his first mate, but the cast is so good, and the script so tight, and Bill Murray so perfect that I just loved the shit out this one.

There it is! What’s left to say? I’m really enjoying the Wes Anderson films on the second go round. Elvis is awesome and who doesn’t love ping-pong? This really is the greatest blog, you should tell all your friends to follow me. Maybe I’ll get a sponsor? That’s how you get rich on the internet right? I mean, my webcam shows aren’t doing anything, this is all I got!

 

The End