Friday, May 31, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 28
End of Watch (2012, dir. David Ayer) End of Watch was my No.7 movie from 2012. I love movies like this one that appear at first glance to be very good but in retrospect are secretly great. You just don't notice it because the movie is not fussy and trying to tell you it's great. End of Watch just does its job, like the two characters it follows. I gained even more respect for police officers after watching this movie -- fuck superheroes, these guys deserve our praise. I couldn't even fathom doing their job everyday. But to the movie's credit, End of Watch doesn't treat Jake Gyllenhaal or Michael Pena (both terrific) as supermen but more so as regular, identifiable guys who are really good at what they do. This movie is extremely suspenseful but also funny and well-executed in its action elements. Plus it has Anna Kendrick in it, who makes everything better. What are you waiting for? End your Non-Watch of End of Watch by Watching End of Watch! Station. Check that. POLICE STATION!
Trek Nation (2011, dir. Scott Colthorp) This documentary sat in my queue for a quite a while. I didn't expect too much from it, especially after watching William Shatner's Get A Life!, so I'd actually been putting it off. As it turns out, Trek Nation is fantastic. It shows the struggle of Rod Roddenberry, the son of series creator Gene Roddenberry, as he tries to find a connection with his deceased father. The documentary paints Gene as a distant and absent father who spent more time in his own dreams than with his family. It portrays Rod as the rebellious son who grew up outside his father's favor and never had a relationship with him when he was alive. Rod, now an adult, is chronicled as he attends conventions and meets with the people in his father's life, trying to find some connection with the man he never really knew. I found the film to be heartbreaking, but also beautiful. Star Trek is about hope, learning from your mistakes, and using those mistakes to move forward into a brighter tomorrow. And so is this documentary.
Junesploitation, Week One!
June 1st – Cars: Death Race 2000 (1975, dir. Paul Bartel) As the “F This Movie” crew demonstrated at a recent Bromley screening, this film is a lot of fun, featuring a killer road race and stylized cars that look like a dragon, a cow, and a knife. Also: boobies.
June 2nd – Revenge: The Substitute (1996, dir. Robert Mandel) As a long-time high-school teacher, this film is my guilty pleasure. The plot? First-year teacher is assaulted by class, brings in ex- Green Beret friend to sub while she is in the hospital. Green Beret kicks student ass. What follows is ninety minutes of wish fulfillment for JB. I love when the kid throws the pop can at Tom Berenger, and Berenger sends it back with so much force, he knocks the kid out cold. Go get him, Tom! DIE, troublemakers, DIE!
June 3rd – Italian Horror: Black Sunday (1960, dir. Mario Bava) It has taken me several screenings to warm to this film, but I can at last see what Tim Lucas is always shouting about—some indelible images here and a truly creepy atmosphere more than make up for the film’s glacial pace. Barbara Steele is easy on the eyes, even with nail holes in her face!
June 4th – Pam (MF) Grier: You have to even ask? Foxy Brown, of course. (1974, dir. Jack Hill)
June 5th – Samurai & Ninjas: 13 Assassins (2010, dir. Takashi Miike) Never mind samurai, this is one of the most amazing ACTION films I have ever seen. Don’t be fooled by the slow first hour; the second half is a tour-de-force. You will get exhausted just watching it!
June 6th – Sci-Fi: Slaughterhouse-Five (1972, dir. George Roy Hill) I have written about this film before, here. Not only one of the best science fiction films of all time, but also one that exemplifies what true science fiction always attempts—a meditation on what it means to be human. Also: boobies.
RUNNER-UP: Angry Red Planet (1959, dir. Ib Melchior) Because everyone deserves to see the bat/rat/spider!
Anyone notice how screwed up Netflix’s indexing is? I mean, say what you will, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice in Wonderland are NOT Science Fiction! Sheesh.
Cars!: Grand Theft Auto (1977, dir. Ron Howard) A couple of weeks ago, I recommended Hit & Run from last year because it reminded me of Grand Theft Auto, a movie I really love. Ron Howard's first movie is one of the great car movies of the '70s -- a non-stop chase and a 90-minute tribute to how much fun it can be to watch cars drive fast and crash into things. A fantastic choice for Car Movie day.
Revenge!: Act of Vengeance (aka Rape Squad) (1974, dir. Bob Kelljan) The revenge movie is one of my favorite genres, and this movie is a great example of '70s exploitation. It's not quite as sleazy as the title RAPE SQUAD suggests, but it's a good little female vigilante movie. Side note: I never made my high school's rape squad.
Italian Horror!: Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970, dir. Mario Bava) I'm not the biggest fan of Italian horror, and Netflix is really only offering a couple of Mario Bava movies (I guess that's ok, since he pretty much invented Italian horror). I don't love this particular giallo, but JB already picked Black Sunday. Plus, the title is great, and sometimes with exploitation movies, a title is half the battle.
Pam Motherfucking Grier!: The Big Bird Cage (1972, dir. Jack Hill) Jack Hill's two women in prison movies shot in the Philippines can also work for Badass Chicks! and Prison!, but I'll recommend this one for Pam Motherfucking Grier day because a) JB already suggested Foxy Brown and b) Netflix isn't streaming Coffy. I don't like this one as much as The Big Doll House because it's sillier by design, but it's still a ton of fun. Few directors did exploitation like Jack Hill.
Samurai & Ninjas!: Revenge of the Ninja (1983, dir. Sam Firstenberg) As you may already know, I'm a big fan of this movie.
Sci Fi!: Invasion of the Bee Girls (aka Graveyard Tramps) (1973, dir. Denis Sanders) I love both titles for this one, which was actually the first script ever penned by Nicholas Meyer (who would go on to write and direct Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). It's campy, it's goofy and there's a TON of nudity. What I love most about this movie is that "Bee Girls" isn't a figure of speech -- they aren't just a "hive" of beautiful ladies who "sting" (murder") their lovers. THEY ARE REALLY BEE GIRLS. It's great.