Saturday, July 29, 2017

Weekend Open Thread

The frogurt is also cursed!

I'm on the road this weekend driving to PA with the family, so you guys run the show and talk about what you've been watching lately! Or whatever you want!

26 comments:

  1. Xtro update

    For anyone who wants the movie but can't get hold of the tricky German release Mark told me this week there is going to be a UK release for Jan 2018 from Second Sight, there won't be a US because of rights tied up with Warner but at least a proper UK release is coming which will be easier to get

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    1. did you see xtro is on at a midnight show at the new bev? any la f-heads should go

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    2. I did, Elric and Rob G are going. On 35mm too. Im dead jealous of course. Gutted i wont be there.

      Im trying to get the new Scan 2017 Directors cut to play at Grimm fest in Manchester UK just so i can see it on the big screen

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    3. Your right. All F heads should go. Anyone in LA who is a horror fan and doesn't go isent really a horror fan. Treats like this don't happen to often ;)

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  2. Good weekend to all of you. Bon week-end à tous.

    Not much happening this week in life, as usual, giving me more reasons to watch films.

    VERTIGO (1958)- I finally crossed off the number one entry on my Not Watched List of Shame this week. Turner Classic Movies has done a very thorough retrospective of Hitchcock's career this month. Having the time, I decided to finally sit down and catch up with the film voted by the most recent Sight and Sound poll as the best film ever made. While I appreciated the sumptuous images; atmosphere; and narrative risk-taking of Vertigo, I found the story hard to get my mind into. With this first viewing, I would not rank it above Citizen Kane. In the context of 1950s Hollywood, however, Vertigo is a very striking film. I cannot think of any other director of the period besides Hitchcock who could get away with creating such a visually audacious film.

    AS TEARS GO BY (1988)- In my on-and-off again project to become more familiar with the vast cinema output of Asia, I watched this Hong Kong gangster film, which is the directorial debut of Wong Kar-Wai. There are many aspects of it that I admired: the cast, Kar-Wai's dynamic visual style, the sense of being transported to the backstreets of 1980s Hong Kong. However, the derivative nature of the story (shades of Mean Streets) and the fact that I am not a big gangster fan tempered my enjoyment of the film. Definitely a worthwhile film to see, but I would recommend Kar-Wai's follow-up, DAYS OF BEING WILD, much more.

    TRANS-EUROPE-EXPRESS (1966)- Alain Robbe-Grillet is again up to his old tricks of playing around with narrative structures. This time, though, you actually get something that seems coherent. A writer, a director, and the director's secretary ride the Trans-Europe-Express from Paris to Antwerp while concocting a story about a Frenchman smuggling drugs using the same train. As they put the story together, the viewer sees that story come to life as a film. Once in a while slight changes to the story are made, accompanied by discussion about how the various plot elements work together, but this film-within-a-film takes up most of the running time. One could interpret Trans-Europe-Express in a multitude of ways, but it is clear that Robbe-Grillet wanted to emphasize, albeit in a playful way, the contrived nature of storytelling. The film is beautifully shot in black and white on location, has some erotic moments, and actually succeeds in being fun to watch.

    Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)- I cannot say that I was engrossed in the story of the Dune project. (The H.R. Giger pictures did fascinate me, in any case.) My enjoyment of the documentary, rather, came from Alejandro Jodorowsky himself. He is such an inspiring person to listen to. His vision of Dune speaks of an ambition to have art triumph over monetary concerns. Given the reality of the movie business, though, the entire Dune project was destined to fail. The creative spark goes on in spite of such failures, breeding new ideas and new works. In his late 80s now, Jodorowsky embodies this creative ethos.

    DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY (1974)- While no work of art, DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY is a joyous trip back to the heyday of drive-ins. This pure B-movie entertainment, and it goes about being entertaining in a uniquely '70s way. There is just enough story and character development to build the car chases around. The quality of the stunts and cinematography elevates this film above similar films of the period. It is still available on Netflix for a couple of days.









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    1. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry has one of those abrupt "Yep, that just happened. The End." endings you only get out of movies from the 70's.

      I really like Vertigo although I don't think I'd even put it in my top 3 favorite Hitchcock movies. I know that's not the same as trying to judge his best or the best movie of all time but I'll leave that for the academic folks.

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    2. Another prominent 1970s aspect of Dirty Mary.. is the despicable "heroes" at the center of the story. The repugnant way they carry out their crime should only succeed in alienating an audience. Yet somehow I was rooting for them to escape.

      Hitchcock is a director whose work I have not delved into deeply. (I have watched far more of Jess Franco's films.) I know it is a big oversight in my film viewing. I could have crammed dozens of his films this month, but I no longer have the stamina or focus do that. I recorded Shadow of a Doubt and ROPE to watch at a later time.

      What are your favorite Hitchcock films, Ross?

      The only one I have seen enough to have a good memory of is PSYCHO.

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    3. I know I'm probably not going out on too much of a limb here but of the ones I've seen I think Psycho, Rear Window, and Strangers on a Train would be in my top 3, although the order would probably shift around too much to nail it down further than that. There's still a ton of his stuff I haven't seen though.

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    4. Okay- I know nobody asked me but I've always felt that that the smart and creepy Shadow of a Doubt, the disturbing, underrated, and underseen Sabotage (NOT Sabatuer), the politically charged Foreign Correspondent, and the subtle, humorous Trouble With Harry were some of his best. (I went on a several- year-long Hitchcock streak a while back so I made myself sick on his movies.)

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  3. Another week where I haven't had time to watch as much as I'd like. I continued my way through the 30's though with Shirley Temple's first staring role in Baby, Take a Bow,, and Becky Sharp which was the first full-length feature film to be done entirely with three-strip Technicolor.

    I also finally got around to watching Burst City (1982) on DVD which is a Japanese punk rock movie that's kind of dystopian but only to the extent that they had the budget for (which clearly wasn't much). If it were dubbed it would be perfect as a background movie since it doesn't really require you to pay much attention to the plot. It's mostly carried by the frenetic way the movie is filmed, and by the music that is performed by actual Japanese punk rock bands (The Stalin, Battle Rockers, The Roosters, and Inu according to Amazon since I'm not going to claim to be an expert here).

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    1. Last night, for some unknown reason, I began to think about Shirley Temple. Her rendition of The Goodship Lollipop- whatever the song is called- was ringing in my head. She lead such an interesting life. It is amazing to think of her being the most popular Hollywood star for a few years when she was a still a young child, almost single-handedly keeping 20th Century Fox afloat financially. Her story would be a good documentary.

      Is your current viewing of films from the 1930s related to any kind of project? I know you mentioned in another thread this week that you are going through films year by year. It almost sounds like a project.

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    2. It's more of an exercise than a project. I'm writing about each of the movies I'm watching but it's not something I'm working on specifically for a website or a personal blog or anything like that. It's just a hobby and a way or organizing my thoughts that and I'm trying to get more in the habit of doing it. Maybe at some point I'll have a use for what I've written or I'll throw some of it up on a blog somewhere but that's not the focus for me at the moment.

      Going year by year and selecting movies that were the first at something was a way to increase my historical knowledge of film, but also just a way of adding some structure to the process which is how I tend to operate. That's part of the reason why during Junesploitation all my picks were first-time viewings for me and they all had female leads. It made it a lot easier for me to narrow down the infinite possibilities.

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    3. I completely understand. There is a pleasure to be derived from the pursuit of knowledge or indulging one's curiosity.

      I have embarked on similar film exercises. Around eight years ago it was an exploration of European genre and exploitation films. That lasted close to three years and covered hundreds of films. At an earlier period, it was watching pre-code Hollywood productions. Thinking about it now, my interest in the French New Wave back in college resulted in a little exercise.

      One more question for you, Ross. What resources do you use to determine films to watch? There are thousands of films to sort through from the 1930s.

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    4. I start off by just looking at some sites that have year by year breakdowns of film history to find some films that fit my criteria of being a "first". That narrows it down right away to a handful of films with price and availability sometimes narrowing it down further.

      After that I'll do slightly deeper research to make sure that the historical significance ascribed to the films by those initial sites is actually correct, and then just try to learn some of the context and detail about what makes those movies significant. I'm not going too deep into the research, just enough for a casual understanding.

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  4. For those of you who are in the US and have access to Turner Classic Movies, there is an opportunity to see the 1987 sci-fi film THE HIDDEN (1987) at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. Wes Craven's DEADLY FRIEND is being shown right after it.

    These films are part of the wonderful TCM Underground programming on the channel, which has brought me a lot of joy over the past decade. A couple of months ago the Andy Sidaris film HARD TICKET TO HAWAII was shown on the channel through TCM Underground. Seeing a 1980s t'n'a flick on TCM was more than a little incongruous and very amusing. Afterwards, I had a good laugh when I read a comment on the TCM website blasting the inclusion of such garbage on the channel. I am not surprised by such a reaction, but a film channel has to embrace the "garbage" of an era as well as the cinematic gems. After all, just this week there was an evening of 1950s hot-rod films on TCM. (THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW is an entertaining film, though.)

    Overall, the fact that TCM Underground exists is a positive sign that Turner Classic Movies is trying to adapt to younger generations of movie fans. More films of the 1980s are being aired now, but it is a very selective process. I somehow doubt COMMMANDO will become part of the regular programming with the likes of CASABLANCA or BEN-HUR anytime soon.

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  5. I'll often check my watchlist to see if any of the older, festival titles have gotten a proper release yet without me knowing and to my surprise a 2014 called "El Incidente" (The Incident) that I put in there a long time ago was just released on Netflix Thursday. It's the debut from the director of The Similars, a film I saw last year and liked, and this one did not disappoint. There is a lot being said in this movie regarding life's worth, routine, communication and relationships. It's not perfect, of course, and started out as a "oh this is going to be one of these" but then transforms into something wonderful. By the time it was over, I think I loved this movie. Highly recommended.

    Then watched "Awaken the Shadowman" which wasn't good. I wanted to take note of some positives for the film but all I could think of was a decent sound design and the "shadowman" effect I guess was fine.

    BUT - all was not lost! I then watched "L.A. Wars" (1994) (free on Prime) which was directed by Tony Kandah who is affiliated with the great PM Entertainment. I had an absolute blast with this movie!! It's over the top violence and awful 90's script is exactly the kind of film that would be perfect for 90's Action during Junesploitation and it's Kerri Kasem's debut, haha, as the director was asked by Kasey to give her a role in the movie. It's definitely a keeper and I ordered the DVD immediately after watching. Definitely recommended!

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  6. Visited The New Beverly for a double feature of Italian spy movies, Secret Agent Super Dragon and OSS 117: Murder for Sale. Both were just the right amount of silly to be entertaining instead of just stupid.

    I also saw my first ever IMAX movie (there are no IMAX theaters in Finland) as I watched Dunkirk at the theater on Universal CityWalk. The screen was huge and the movie looked gorgeous, but 25 bucks a ticket is just silly bollocks.

    I also had a blast at Universal Studios. The studio tour and the Waterworld show especially were amazing.

    And don't tell anyone, but I downloaded a bunch of recent movies (ones not available back home) from Netflix onto my tablet, so I can watch them at home as long as I keep the tablet offline. That's a couple of weeks' movies sorted after my trip.

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    1. It sounds like you enjoyed your trip, Mikko.

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    2. I did and still am. A couple more days in California before the 19 hour trip home. Plenty of time to watch movies on the plane. (Watched The Accountant and Edward Scissorhands on the plane here, one of which is a good movie.)

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  7. i got The Bird With The Crystal Plumage on blu-ray (VCI edition) a couple of weeks ago. only 15$ (canadian money) at a used store.

    Dario Argento is often hit or miss with me, but when he hit, he hit the bullzeye. that movie was great. by today standard it's pretty tame, but the suspense was there and i didn't see the twist come at the end.

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    1. Although not my favorite Argento film, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE is a great debut effort. The suspense element is definitely handled well. I regard this as one of Argento's best plots, as close to a classic follow-the-clues type of mystery that I have yet seen from him. Beyond the element of the police detective encouraging Tony to do his own investigation, the story does not strain plausibility to a high degree, nor are there any huge plot holes to have to gloss over.

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    2. If anyone is interested in watching Bird with the Crystal Plumage, it's streaming for free on Vudu....youll just have to sit through some ads.

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  8. New Jodorowsky out this weekend! It's a sequel to Dance of Reality, so if you enjoyed that one, this ia kind of a gimme, though it's also a much lighter film than that one, since it's about what I think was a happier period in his life. It's another masterpiece, of course, but damn, this motherfucker sure thinks highly of himself. The poster is of his character dressed as an angel surrounded by faceless devils, which pretty much describes the way he sees himself also. It begs for at least one more sequel, but with AJ being 88 already, I don't know how likely we are to get one.

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  9. So, Girls Trip is getting some favorable reviews/ratings.

    I took the kids to a 2nd run theater to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Many smiles and laughter ensued.

    I think the only other thing I watched was Boyz n The Hood (1991) which I had only seen once shortly after it came out. Very good movie. I was in tears during one powerful scene, despite it being clearly foreshadowed.

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  10. Finally saw Blood Simple - Criterion's excellent blu-ray - damn what a fantastic movie - and right out of the gate they show one of the greatest strengths of their whole careers: pitch-perfect casting. Everyone's great but that friggin Dan Hedaya, man, he's one of those guys I always kinda forget about when I'm thinking about great actors, and then I see him and he's just the best.

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