Saturday, May 5, 2018

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Cinco de Mayo/Free Comic Book Day!


  1. Good weekend to everyone. Geez, May is here already. The year is flying by.

    Turner Classic Movies had a day of sword-and-sandal movies this week. I recorded a couple of the Italian productions, which are also known as peplum.

    HERCULES, SAMSON, AND ULYSSES (1963) – After being shipwrecked during the hunt for a sea monster (a close-up of a seal!), Hercules and his crew seek refuge in the Holy Land under Philistine rule. Hercules eventually teams up with Samson to defeat the Philistine king. Cheesy to the point of ludicrousness, yet moving at brisk pace, this film is a lot of fun to watch. This was, to my surprise, one of the top entertainment experiences so far this year.

    THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, dir. Sergio Leone (1961) – Leone began his film career working on sword-and-sandal productions, and he made his directorial debut with one. The story of Colossus is a power struggle over the Mediterranean island with the famous ancient monument. What sustained my interest for two hours was the spectacle of the production. The enormous sets are lavishly decorated and frequently filled with hundreds of extras. I liked the disaster scenes, as well. It is an impressive film but does not offer a lot of entertainment value. Unless you enjoy these kind of films or the work of Sergio Leone, there are better cinematic ways to fill two hours.

    Another TCM viewing was Blake Edwards' 1981 film S.O.B. Unfortunately, Edwards’ bitterness squashes much of the potential humor of this Hollywood satire. The plot involves the fallout from an expensive musical flop as the producer battles the studio to salvage the film. While the comedy falters, the depiction of the inner workings of Hollywood feels truthful. Studio executives, agents, personal secretaries, and movie-star spouses are out to take advantage of you when you are down. Although S.O.B. is hard to recommend as a film, the cast does a great job bringing it to life.

    THE CHEERLEADERS (1973) – This soft-core sex comedy feels like it comes from another planet. Although sexist and way beyond stupid, The Cheerleaders is a spirited film that delivers more than enough cheap thrills to entertain. It is, honestly, not that far in style and content from Porky’s. An excellent Junesploitation pick.

    1. May means less than a month until Junesploitation!

    2. I'm completely blind to any peplum at all. I'll check out the first one you mentioned for sure.

    3. in ever saw Colossus Of Rhodes, and i know they announced a blu-ray, but there's no date yet. i'm waiting for the disc to finally watch it.

    4. Italian producers churned out peplum movies in the late 1950s and early '60s, so there is a lot to choose from, Russell. Most of the examples I have had the chance to see have not aged well.

      I am also excited for Junesploitation. There is a pile of DVDs and Blu-rays at home that I plan to watch next month. I have put off making any major purchases until I get through them.

      The benefit of a channel like Turner Classic Movies is that you get the chance to watch pristine versions of films, like The Colossus of Rhodes, that have not had any recent releases. If the Blu-ray is anything like the version I watched, it will be a beautiful transfer.

  2. I had a big week, still going through all the stuff I bought recently. It’s gonna be a while before I’m done because I think, for once, I bought too many. I need to learn to pace myself.

    GETAWAY: no, not the good one with Steve McQueen, or the other one with Alec Baldwin. It’s the one without the ‘the’ in the title, the bad one, starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez. I liked it enough, the car scenes are well made. I particularly like the super long shot near the end when they stick the camera on the outside on the car, facing forward, like a racing game. The ending is pure crap though, which is a shame. Don’t try to make any sense of it, because clearly it’s only about the car and the chases.

    THE TOURNAMENT: Scott Adkins, Ving Rhames, Kelly Hu, Robert Carlyle and Liam Cunningham as the bad guy. It’s as fun as it sound. It’s violent and crazy and completely gratuitous, but I don’t care. Too bad Adkins gets taken out super quick.

    PARENTS: saying anything about it would be telling too much. Just know it’s directed by Bob Balaban, and it’s moody, and dark, and weird. Everybody should see it once.

    ERIK THE VIKING: Mr. Bromley did a nice review of the film and blu-ray a couple of years back on this site, so I suggest you go read that. Not the best movie ever, but good.

    SCHOOL OF ROCK: apparently I can’t stand Jack Black anymore. i liked the movie enough, but every time he’s on screen, I cringe.

    FOXCATCHER: not a masterpiece, but very close. Mark Ruffalo did his best performance ever in my opinion, and Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum are also at the top of their games in this.

    AVENGERS INFINITY WAR: loved it, as I knew I would, as I knew they could do it. In Marvel I trust.

    HAIR: never saw that one before, but I had heard the more popular songs over the years. So now I know where they came from. It has a super depressing ending, but somehow they manage to make it feel joyous. And Treat Williams, who knew he could sing (as far as I know, that’s him singing).

    I FEEL PRETTY: well, that was boring. I don’t mind Amy Schumer most of the time. Trainwreck was very good. But here, she’s bad, the humor doesn’t work, it’s at least 20 minutes too long and even then the rest makes little to no sense. I really feel humor in mainstream comedy movies is dead. It didn’t die here, but this is not helping it.

    OUTRAGE and BEYOND OUTRAGE: Takeshi Kitano directed a lot of movies. Some good, some bad and a lot of them about Yakuzas. Here it’s all about clan wars. A small mistake by a low level grunt cause a ripple effect, bringing down a couple of families. Pretty standard stuff. But like in most Kitano movies, violence is sudden, hits hard and is very bloody. I hope the 3rd one will get a release here soon.

    GAME NIGHT: it’s good, one of the better American comedies in recent years, but that’s not saying much. There’s a great cast, the idea is good and should give us a great movie, but they decided to not go the obvious route and show us something else. SPOILER ALERT: it’s supposed to be a fake kidnapping, but before the halfway point we know it’s real. There’s some interesting some twist and turns. Unfortunately, while some jokes are good, the timing is often just a bit off. One thing I’ll give it, the cinematography is surprisingly good for this kind of movie.

    KODACHROME: road trip movie, estranged son and sick father, young love interest, things get worse before they get better. Ed Harris is as good as ever, nice dramatic performance by Jason Sudekis, Elizabeth Olsen always so charming. This is your standard character study, you’ve seen it a hundred times, but it’s never boring.

  3. Rocket Gibraltar: One of Burt Lancaster's last appearances in film and the feature debut of Macaulay Culkin, not to mention a stacked cast (Bill Pullman, Kevin Spacey, Suzy Amis, Patricia Clarkson, John Glover, Frances Conroy, Sinead Cusack).

    Bad Girls: Madeleine Stowe, Drew Barrymore, Andie MacDowell and Mary Stuart Masterson lead this forgettable western.

    Beautiful Creatures: Watched this misbegotten YA adaptation for the How Did This Get Made show.

  4. Bummed I'm not going to Ex-Fest this year and I have my first Saturday and Sunday off in a couple months, so I plan on getting a bunch of flicks in. Please recommend some trash for me to watch because I'm itching for Junesploitation!

    A PISTOL FOR RINGO (1965): Italian western about a gunfighter infiltrating a ranch of Mexican banditos.

    1. There is a lot of trash out there. Some of the fun ones -to me, at least- to watch are: Death Race 2000; Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill; Amuck!; Coffy; Switchblade Sisters; She Killed in Ecstasy; Ilsa: She-wolf of the SS; and Strike Commando. I know, some are pretty well-known or exploitation classics.

      Some interesting movies that border along the edges of trash are Alucarda, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Santa Sangre. While not fully diving into the trash world, they offer a unique viewing experience.

      I hope you find something suitable to watch, John.

    2. Foxy Brown is a good blacksploitation. I'm not up on my exploitation trash either so I plan to rectify that next month.

    3. Other suggestions: The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave, The Big Bird Cage (yes, never enough Jack Hill), Slaughter Hotel, House On The Edge of the Park, Savage Streets

      Is the Ex-Fest you mentioned put on by Exhumed Films? Exhumed does screenings at the drive-in I go to.

  5. Just watched director, co-writer and star Dolph Lundgren's Command Performance based on (I think) Patrick's recommendation in the Heavy Action podcast. It's a pretty basic low budget 2000's action flick, but Dolph makes it worth seeing. He's clearly having fun here.

  6. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE becomes a different movie every twenty minutes and I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about that.

  7. I'm currently writing a paper for one of my college classes on Frankenstein adaptations. This week I rewatched THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which while is further from the book than any other adaptation I've seen, I cannot deny is my favorite of all of them. Peter Cushing is by far the most interesting Victor Frankenstein. I love how sinister, yet dignified he is. I also watched, for the first time, MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN from Branagh. It's crazy, over the top fun in a lot of ways. I thought Branagh was amazing in it and I loved his fever pitched performance. De Niro I was less in love with.

    I'm still trying to get to Pure Cinema reccommendations, so this week I watched REPO MAN and THREE O'CLOCK HIGH. Both I enjoyed a whole lot. I love how much the filmmakers really seem to be going for broke in both films.

    Oh, and I checked out Wishmaster. That was a crazy good time!

    Other than that, I'm just waiting patiently for Junesploitation. I need it ASAP.

  8. Heath Holland forced me to buy the Drive-In Cult Classics Collection 200 Films Set. really he did. he posted another video about Mill Creek featuring the set. 24 hours later, i had the box in my hands. great box. i'm ready for Junesploitation.

  9. It sounds like you are ready for several Junesploitations, Kunider.