Thursday, June 28, 2018

Junesploitation 2018 Day 28: Free Space!

If only it were a bad dream!



    Craig Moss' BADASS (2012, 90 min.) and BAD ASS 2: BAD ASSES (2014, 91 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    Have you seen Danny Trejo's IMDB page lately? The dude is a movie-making machine, a one-man Junesplitation! film festival. Yes, a lot of what he does is crap nobody will ever see ("Mango Bajito"?), but there's plenty of flicks with cred (just about anything Robert Rodriguez ever worked on, "The Devil's Rejects," "Heat," etc.) to justify Danny Trejo getting his own Junesploitation! day (hint, hint). Enter Craig Moss, the Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer of the early 2010's. He's the writer/director of a trilogy of movies in which Trejo plays an elder Vietnam war veteran that kicks ass in the barrio when nobody else will stand up for themselves. How good/bad are these vigilante movies compared to the rest of Moss' body of work? Let me put it this way: "Bad Ass" is a trilogy (the only one starring Trejo as the lead I could find among his 360 acting credits), and I'm only reviewing the first two. :-(

    Now, "Bad Ass" isn't technically a parody. It's an inspired-by-true-events (the first ten minutes at least) inner city adventure about how Vega's life changes when he stands up to a couple of skinheads on a bus who were being abusive to a passenger, and the video of their confrontation goes viral. So, basically "Kick-Ass" without MySpace. :-P Things turn into a government conspiracy of sorts when Vega's best friend Klondike (Harrison Page) is shot in an alley, and during the investigation Vega uncovers a thumb drive that could bring down the administration of corrupt Los Angeles Mayor Williams (Ron Perlman, doing someone a favor shooting his two scenes during lunch break from another project). As he also befriends the attractive and much-younger-than-him single mother next door (Joyful Drake) having problems with an abusive husband, Trejo also has to duke it out with the mayor's enforcer (Charles S. Dutton's Panther).

    "Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses" is essentially the same movie, except Danny is more famous than before. Everybody recognizes him not just from the original viral video, but as the man that brought down a corrupt mayor (spoilers!). As Vega investigates the death of a kid he mentored in his community center, he forges a deep bond with the dead kid's mother (Jacqueline Obradors) and her cute-as-a-button daughter Jessica (Saragh Dumont). When the Argentinian drug dealers that killed the boy blow up his place, Danny teams up with retired hockey player Bernie Pope (Danny Glover) to get their life back. Bernie saved Vega's life, and his liquor store blew up alongside Frank's gym. It's not as if the duo have any choice since. At their age, they have to kick ass and bring down an international drug operation or risk being forced to retire.

    Even though they're not outright parodies of "Death Wish" or Cannon movies, when you're watching them you feel Craig Moss laughing at the audience for buying the crap he's selling. The same white police officer (Patrick Fabian's Malark) shows up being kind to Vega, but not doing anything but offer meaningless platitudes. Both movies end with recycled action scenes (the bus chase from 1988's "Red Heat" and the helicopter chase from 1990's "Narrow Margin") and plenty of Trejo-as-a-Mr. T scenes of Vega growling, pulling feats of strength and then smiling. If you're in on the joke you might get something out of the "Bad Ass" trilogy. I didn't after two, so I just stopped. :-(

  2. Although I've been reading all the reviews, I didn't get around to posting mine for several days. Here is a summery.

    The Ring (2002) - first watch - Demons and Ghosts

    This is movie is creepy as hell! Glad I caught up with it, and was pleased to see Naomi Watts. I'm going to watch more jittery J-horror this October.

    Galaxy Quest (1999) - first watch -Sci-fi

    Fun as hell. Don't know how I've never seen this before. Watching the Star Trek movies and revisiting TNG was higher on my list, I guess.

    Pandorum (2009) - first watch - Free Space

    Ben Foster was great. Denis Quaid stubbornly refused to emote until the 11th hour. I don't think I enjoyed this as much as some, mostly due to the creatures effects.

    Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) - first watch - Slashers

    Although it's best known as the homoerotic one (and it is in spades), it should be known as the damn good one! Not being a fan of the later NOES movies (5-6), I loved this one. It's intense and genuinely "scary" for much of it. The soundtrack was top notch.

    Showdown In Little Tokyo (1991) - first watch - Cops

    Dolph was great in this, abandoning the stoic performances from previous films, and showing off his acting chops, as well as his killer physique. Again, I fist pumped when he somehow ended up running around in short shorts for the last act, until donning traditional Japanese garb for the final showdown with the Yakuza.

    Don't Kill It (2016) - rewatch - Heavy Metal

    I love, love this movie. Dolph just seems to be having so much fun in this role, and excellently plays to the semi serious/comedic tone of the movie.

    1. Also, caught up with Western Day by rewatching The Hateful Eight (2015). I was hesitant to revisit this since it first came out. I was anticipating that it would feel long, for some reason? It didn't feel long at all.

    2. Nice flicks/picks, Paul. The links to each of these Junesploitation! days are still open. Why don't you copy-paste each review to their respective day so that we can revisit them using Patrick's Junesploitation! Primer link? Just a suggestion. :-)

    3. Good idea! Will do. (Didn't want to only post in threads a week old. They would be read by very few)

  3. The last week has been rich in Italian genre films.

    HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961, dir. Mario Bava)

    HERCULES offered the rare experience of seeing one of Mario Bava's films for the first time. To my delight, there was only pleasure watching it. Not only are all of Bava’s aesthetics (the colors and the shot framing) present in Hercules in the Haunted World, but it also has a story I found engaging. This may be his most sumptuous film.

    The main part of the story is set in an ancient kingdom beset by the forces of evil. The queen of the kingdom, whom Hercules is in love with, is experiencing madness. The only way to free her of it is to fetch a glowing gem from Hades, the world of the dead, where Hercules and his two companions must make a perilous journey to. Lico, the man ruling in her place, is in league with the evil forces and conspires to thwart any attempt to cure her and remove him from power.

    This is an example of the peplum genre, which is generally known as sword-and-sandal in English. Compared to other peplum I have seen, Hercules and the Haunted World is a small production, but it is a large-scale film in the context of Bava’s filmography.

    My only complaint was with the DVD transfer, which was very pixelated in parts. Haunted World would be a great looking Blu-ray.

    THE ITALIAN CONNECTION, AKA, LA MALA ORDINA (1972, dir. Fernando di Leo)

    Luca Canali is a small-time pimp in Milan who suddenly finds himself the target of a manhunt by the Mafia. Perhaps the most troublesome part of it is that he cannot figure out why. Mario Adorf brought a lot of humanity to the role of Luca, and it is difficult not to feel the personal losses he experiences throughout the film. As is the case with most Eurocrime films, this story is pretty bleak, with the underworld characters having no compunction about killing whoever would stop them from catching Luca. Luca, moreover, does things he never believed he would. Fernando di Leo consistently brought a lot of energy and panache to the action scenes. The car chase is extremely well done and, as to be expected, has shots that do not look like safety was a consideration for. The finale in the junk yard is also terrific. An added bonus is that Henry Silva plays a hitman and is in a lot of the film. A good example of 1970’s Eurocrime.

    I wrote about ALMOST HUMAN for Cops Day, but I watched two other films that night at the drive-in.

    DIRTY PICTURES (1971, Umberto Lenzi) A hippy couple funding their European travels with the sale of pornographic pictures find themselves broke and without gasoline. When they are caught stealing gasoline from a car in a garage at a fancy house, the owner unexpectedly asks them to stay. With all the turns Dirty Pictures takes, this is the kind of film that it is best to go into knowing as little as possible about it. Moreover, I love these late 1960s/early ‘70s movies depicting the era’s counterculture and the societal reactions to it.

    CANNIBAL FEROX, AKA, MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY (1981, dir. Umberto Lenzi) One of two cannibal films Lenzi made, Cannibal Ferox is guilty of the animal killings the genre is probably most known for today. Those are upsetting scenes, but the rest of the film is actually a little better than I remember it being. The plot of a small group of Americans going into the Amazon moves at a relatively quick pace and the action scenes held my attention. There is not a lot of gore, but a couple of scenes do deliver it well (hooks in sensitive body parts). This is the kind of film I do not go out my way to watch now, yet I did not regret seeing it again. It seems like the cannibal films are part of the last gasp of the old-fashioned adventure stories of Westerners venturing among primitive savages.

  4. Wild Wild West (1999), dir. Barry Sonnenfeld
    Came across this, and felt like watching it. It... certainly plays differently in these modern day times. It’s not great, but enetertaining nonetheless. Also, a kick-ass credits song.

    1. This is a movie I know I shouldn't really love, but I have always had a soft soft for this. Wickey wikey wild west.

    2. I worked at a movie theater the summer this was released and in the lobby the music video for Wild Wild West was played on a loop for several weeks. Therefore I cannot agree with you on the song... #Triggered

    3. Oh great, now you guys got it stuck in my head too.

      West, Jim West, desperado
      Rough rider, no you don't want nada

  5. Three Boards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017 - Dir Martin McDonagh)

    My Boyfriend choose the movie tonight. I still like it, even though my issues are still my issues with it. Even though I don't love some of the the structure and a few narrative short cuts the movie makes, at the end of the day it doesn't matter. It's a movie about the performances. And they are still amazing. Especially the supporting cast. I really noticed Caleb Landry Jones and Lucus Hedges this time around.

    Now I have Walk Away Renee stuck in my head.

    1. Your boyfriend forgot to put the Bill in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," apparently. ;-)

    2. Rather rude of him was it 😀

  6. Sisters (1973, dir. Brian De Palma, First Time Viewing) This is a fun movie but probably on the lower end of De Palma filmography for me. He's still finding his legs, homaging Hitchcock while developing his own style. RIP Margot Kidder, she is very good in this. Recommended for De Palma completionists only.

  7. Sinfonia Erotica (1980, dir. Jess Franco)

    A noblewoman(Lina Romay) returning from a stint in a mental asylum, just wants to bone her husband. Unfortunately, her husband is a monster who has taken a lover and uses a runaway nun to plot to kill the noblewoman for her money.

    Very weird and experimental(even for Franco), it is based on the writings of the Marquis De Sade. However, the torture is more of the mental variety, so no bondage or whips(sorry, Waxwork fans). Lina Romay gives a really good performance, and for the most part I've liked her(non-hardcore) collaborations with Franco, who clearly adored her. Not for everyone, but recommended.

    1. I am a Jess Franco fan and tried to work in some of his work into my month. I watched his 1969 film MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE a couple weeks ago, and it left me very disappointed. It is a mess snd curiously restrained considering Franco's output of the period. The strange thing is that with Justine Franco probably had the biggest budget of his career, a good cast, and decent locations to work with.

  8. Day of Anger (1967, dir. Tonino Valerii)

    A young, bullied bastard is taken under the wing of a mysterious gunman who comes into town who teaches him to be a badass. Together they take over the town, but who the heroes and villains are becomes very blurred for the young man.

    An amazing Lee Van Cleef spaghetti western that I loved every minute of. The version streaming on amazon prime looks amazing, but I learned after watching it that apparently it's a much cut-down version of the original longer cut. I can't wait to see the full version one day. But for now, this movie is awesome.

    I thought so before, but I'm sure now. Cleef is my favorite 'Westerns' star.

    1. I love the rules of being a gunslinger. I based a whole freeform roleplaying scenario on this movie and Death Rides a Horse and The Big Gundown. All great Lee van Cleef spsaghetti westerns.

  9. Sorry I haven't posted much in the last week, been on a family vacation and movie watching got pushed back. Still managed to watch a few movies.

    Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill! (1965) for lethal ladies

    This one felt like a cheap soft core porno but had a few action sequences I dug. Nothing really special on this one for me.

    Deathdream (1972) for Canuxsploitation

    This was one that had been on the list for nearly a decade and I rather enjoyed it. The effects were interesting and I liked the Vietnam War twist on the Monkey Paw Tale.

    The Beast From 20,000 Phathoms (1953)

    This was something I got to watch with my grandfather during the vacation. He's the one that first showed me the Jurassic Park films and originally got me interested in dinosaurs. He's continued to watch creature features ever since and tells me what new, or usually rerun, he's seen since our last visit. In a month where I saw the original King Kong and Godzilla, this came off a bit cheap and quaint. The experience wasn't really about the movie though, it was more about watching a movie with my grandfather, an experience I may not get to have too many more times.

  10. Curse of the Wolf (2006, dir. Len Kabasinski)

    A clichéd plot, bad actors delivering awkward lines, downright inept direction and editing, overlong fight scenes, gratuitous nudity and bizarre sound design. What more could you ask of a Len Kabasinski production? It's hilarious!

    The Living Corpse aka Dracula in Pakistan (Zinda Laash) (1967, dir. Khwaja Sarfraz)

    This Pakistani retelling of Dracula is a hodge-podge of the original novel, the Lugosi and Lee versions, and original additions to the story. Dracula is a scientist who's turned into a vampire by an elixir of his own creation, and Jonathan Harker's part is changed into just a random passer-by, but other parts of the story are quite faithful to Stoker.

    Touted on the back of the DVD cover as "the first film to get an X rating in Pakistan because of the vulgar content", it's obviously just quaint by today's standards (actually they were quaint in 1967 by Western standards). The movie occasionally builds some tension and atmosphere, but then loses it with a tacked on dance number, but I guess that's par for the course (not that I can claim expertise in Pakistani cinema).

    The New Barbarians aka Warriors of the Wasteland (1983, dir. Enzo G. Castellari)

    A post-apocalyptic hellscape in the far distant future of 2019. Two mercenaries help a caravan fight off an evil gang in a story not at all similar to The Road Warrior.

    I love the effects in this movie! They're utterly unrealistic and silly, but somehow also charming and delightful. Viva l'Italia!

    1. George Eastman and Fred Williamson in the same "Mad Max" Italian ripoff? Way too cool for school! :-)

    i didn't do any verification, but i think this movie is the Spaghetti Western with the highest bodycount i've ever seen. almost everytime somebody fires a gun, at least 10 people die. as for the movie itself, it's fine. not my favorite of the genre, but it's still very good. Gianno Garko (Sartana) doesn't have the rough-i've-seen-things look of Franco Nero, or the boyish charm of Terrence Hill, but he does the job. as an extra, we have a very small role by Klaus Kinsky.

    as violent as any Spaghetti Westerns, and another small role for Klaus Kinski. i prefer the story of this movie than the first, but as a whole, the first movie was better. still pretty good stuff. but i'm a sucker for spaghetti westerns, so of course i liked it.

    there's 3 other movies in the set, but it's gonna have to wait. and for all of them, the titles are as awesome as these first 2 movies.

    a note on the Arrow blu-ray set, containing all 5 'official' movies with Sartana. as usual they did an amazing job. there's a couple of small, but interesting extras on each discs. a fairly thick booklet talking about spaghetti westerns (i ordered 2 or 3 movies just by reading it). the restoration is not perfect, but i suspect the source material was not that great to begin with. any fan of the genre should get this set. it's a limited edition set, so i suggest you don't wait if you plan to get it (getting released on amazon next week).

    1. These has been my free space as well. Its a great transfer, and Arrow sure knows how to make a great box set.
      The titels are some of the best. Know we just need a box set with Django and Sabata.

    2. I wouldn't hold my breath for an Arrow release. Kino has released a couple of Sabata, and the Django stuff is all over the place (one being at Arrow actually)

    3. Yeah I figured so much. Its just so nice with them all collected.

  12. Grindhouse (2007)

    First time viewing. I missed seeing this when it came out, and for whatever reason, I'd just never found the right time to remedy that. I decided that I was not going to get through another Junesploitation without watching it because it seems to be the template for what this month is all about. I watched the 3+ hour theatrical version with the two parts connected by "trailers." I'm guessing this is the way it's meant to be seen, but I'm willing to listen to anyone's advice if that's not correct. And, because it's essentially two different movies, I decided to use it for a free space day so as to not hurt either part's feelings.

    1. i wish they would release the original theatrical version. i've never seen it either, only the extended cuts

    2. kunider, here in the States the theatrical Blu-ray of "Grindhouse" has been available for years. Cheap too (under $10), check it out on Amazon. Worth owning. ;-)

    3. i'm in canada, so basically the states :)

      i never looked for it because i was sure it didn't exist. i'll get it soon.

  13. Night Game (1989)

    I love Roy Scheider great big heaps of lots of much, but this was a disappointment. Someone is killing women based on whether a particular pitcher wins Astros night games (I’m a little bit shocked it’s centered around a real team, I don’t know that I’d want my team associated with a serial killer but hey I’m not a sports guy) and cop Scheider is hot on their trail.

    This is a movie that has no idea what it wants to be. The first murder is presented like it’s a whodunnit (complete with the victim giving an “oh, it’s you!” to the camera before taking a sharp implement to the neck) but the movie doesn’t commit to playing it that way and once the killer is revealed it’s more of a shrug than anything else. Scheider is good (he’s incapable of being bad) and Paul Gleason (I miss him!) is fun as a redneck cop, but other than the Houston locations there’s really nothing that separates this one from the myriad other serial killer thrillers out there. It’s the movie equivalent of a James Patterson paperback, it’s diverting enough while you’re watching it but you won’t remember any of it in a week.

  14. Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013), dir. Sion Sono

    Madcap and highly enthusiastic. There is something joyous in watching The Fuck Bombers run around with wild abandon, lugging their filming equipment in some deluded quest for the perfect action scene. This movie just throws a lot out there, and you really have no choice but to just go with it. Also, blood. A lot of blood.

  15. I am Sartana, Your Angel of Death (1969)

    Sartana, the best dressed gunslinger of the west, is back. Accused of a robbery hi didn’t commit. He is hunted by the best bounty hunters in the west for his bounty. It’s up to Sartana to catch his double ganger and prove his innocent.
    The plot is still as convoluted as in the first one, and you really have to be concentrating to be able to follow it.

    Cast with all the regulars of the spaghetti westerns, you might not know the name, you’ll know the faces. Klaus Kinski is great as the bounty hunter with a gambling addiction. He channels a good Twoface.

    As always the soundtrack is great and sets mood really well. A lot of shaky cam, but before the steady cam which makes for some really great camerawork, that gets a bit overused in the end.
    The last shootout in the closed Saloon is a great action set piece.

    Sonny Chiba plays Terry, a martial arts mercenary (is that a thing?) who takes on the mob. Chiba is an unconventional movie star, more of a brute than a leading man. I suppose that’s part of his appeal, especially once he gets crazy violent against the bad guys. And this movie is crazy violent indeed.

    Terry is back, fighting both cops and crooks this time, uncovering an international conspiracy. This sequel adds some comedic elements, so it’s not as intense as the first. It also explores Terry’s mysterious past in some scenes. A more ambitious plot is fine, but we’re all just here for the action, and Sonny Chiba’s throat-ripping and eye-ripping moves are still the movie’s centerpiece.

    Terry is back again, fighting some druglords over a microcassette containing important evidence or something. This sequel adds a lot of weirdness, most notably a guy in a mariachi outfit who kills people with fireworks. These movies are well made and I can see why they’re classics, but after three in a row I find myself impatient, not caring about the plot and just waiting for the next fight scene.

    A female martial artist fights her way through a drug empire in search of her kidnapped brother. Star Sue Shiomi is super likable and has a lot of cool moves, and I especially like the henchmen wearing those big cone-masks for some reason. Generic martial arts action, but still plenty enjoyable.

  17. Shakedown (1988, dir. James Glickenhaus)

    This is a strange one.

    The poster makes one think this is a buddy cop action movie, but that's really not it at all. It's more of a courtroom drama than anything, but also part cop/crime film and occasionally an action flick. What's weird is when it has the rare action scene it's way over the top. There's something at the end that's so nuts it's almost out of a Roger Moore Bond film! While it's doing so many things, I don't think it's spectacularly successful at any of them, but I do enjoy a crazy genre mash up like this. And I love '80s Peter Weller so much he can get me through just about anything. When you add in Sam Elliot and his moustache (#Mosploitation preview), it ends up being plenty entertaining enough.

    1. Saw this in 35mm last year with the benefit of seeing Sam's stache in person (check the picture I took). Loved this flick, particularly the last gasp of the sleazy 42nd Street Times Square theater district before it got Disney-tized. I nearly lost my mind during that action finale because nothing in the movie led up to that moment, it just comes out of nowhere. I'd love it if Patrick & Co. did a commentary track on "Shakedown," it'd be wild. :-)

    2. Oh man, that sounds like an awesome experience! Maybe I'll love it more on a revisit. I think one thing that tripped me up this time was that I was expecting a buddy cop flick, and that isn't this.

  18. The Endless (2017) Dir: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

    After what feels like forever, my blu-ray of this finally arrived. After hearing so many good things I couldn't wait to dig in, and it didn't disappoint. Well it disappointed a little in that I didn't like it as much as Resolution or Spring, but I'm still absolutely on board with Benson and Moorhead. The two have such a knack for believable, well-written characters that even when the whole story doesn't totally hold together, I don't care. I just like spending time with these people. I'm looking forward to revisiting this one and pulling apart all the various threads.

  19. Galaxy of Terror (1981)

    Beyond the infamous scene (which is pretty distasteful) this complete Alien ripoff is pretty entertaining. I had a good time.


    Fernando Di Leo's MADNESS (1980, 85 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    A rare instance of Di Leo slumming as a hired hand, "Madness" is misogynist as hell and often unpleasant to even look at. A handsome killer (Joe Dallesandro) escapes from prison, kills a few locals and terrorizes a trio of Rome folks that come to stay at their isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere. Most of the movie takes place inside the tiny shack, where we're supposed to feel conflicted about sisters Paola (Lorraine De Selle) and Liliana (Patrizia Behn) throwing each other under the bus, along with Sergio (Liliana's husband), to keep killer Joe from having his way with them. Di Leo seems to imply one or both of the sisters deserve to be raped, and the making-love-under-threat-of-death lengthy scenes are borderline snuff porno. Pass.

    Brian De Palma's BLOW OUT (1981, 108 min.) on Criterion DVD for the first time.

    It's nice to see a young, still hungry Travolta put himself at the service of someone who knows how to use his presence and charisma. I need to see this one again because, on first viewing, De Palma throws so much stuff at me (pre-"Raisin Cain" John Lithgow, paparazzi Dennis Franz, Nancy Allen as a too-dumb make-up artist, etc.) I don't know what to make of it. I like it, but I find it equally off-putting and pretentious as shit. Still, the idea of a Chappaquiddick-type political cover-up potentially unraveling due to a movie technician recording exculpatory sound (essentially Tony Scott's "Enemy of the State" with audio instead of video) is intriguing. Ambition does not make for an entertaining film, though, and "Blow Out" did not entertain me outside of its intro making fun of slasher flicks.

    THE KILLING HOUR, aka THE CLAIRVOYANT (1982, 93 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    An NYPD cop who moonlights as a stand-up comedian (Norman Parker), a sleazy TV host (Perry King) and a clairvoyant that can draw crimes before they happen (Elizabeth Kemp) must work together to apprehend a murderer that handcuffs men before killing them. But why was the first victim of the crime spree a woman? A very giallo feel and atmosphere, along with on-location New York photography, are the only things noteworthy about a very routine police procedural with shades of "Eyes of Laura Mars." Predictable outcome too, since even I knew who the killer was long before the final reveal. Worth a look if you're curious.

    J.A. Bayona's JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM 3D (2018, 128 min.) in theaters for the first time.

    Kudos to Steven Spielberg and associates for resurrecting the career of director J.A. Bayona (2007's "The Orphanage"), whose professional direction is one of "JW:FK's" few highlights. In a pretty dumb movie, the idea that a truck could jump from a pier into a moving boat incognito pretty much tells you what level of blockbuster stupidity we're operating at. What good is it to have Toby Jones crushing it as an auctioneer of genetically-altered dinosaurs to the wealthy criminal underworld if what I just wrote wasn't so stupid? Why does B.D. Wong oscillate between mad scientist and good guy? Why is an important reveal about Isabella Sermon's Maise (who gives a sincere performance) literally trampled over for a dino jump-scare?

    A ton of good actors (James Cromwell, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff in-and-out Goldblum) are just props at the service of a trailer money shot (Mosasaurus wave) that won't pay off until the inevitable sequel, maybe. Except for an ending ripe with great possibilities ("The Lost World" finale done right), "Fallen Kingdom" is a stunningly shallow and creatively bankrupt disappointment. And no, 3D didn't add anything to the experience. :'(

  21. Clan Of The White Lotus (1980)

    I wholeheartedly agree with Mark Ahn's review last week. The first couple minutes of opening credits are perhaps the best thing I've seen all month. The fight choreography throughout the film is excellent and the story is original enough (for a genre/period that relies heavily on tropes). And the ending is ACTUALLY the best thing I've seen all month!

    1. I also caught up with Lethal Ladies day by watching Barbarian Queen (1985). It opens with a gratuitous rape scene. There's a lot of rape, and the bad guys are constantly referring to the possibility of it. The Queen eventually kills the bad guys with her vagina. Thankfully only clocked in at 70 minutes. Movie poster is awesome.

      I read that the director made some serious political movies critical of Argentinian government that were well received. He apparently funded those movies by making trash like Barbarian Queen.

  22. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

    Honestly I loved it all over again, just like the first time. Cried when Paige Tico died and thought the whole damm thing just moved. Every second of act 2.5-on is a Renaissance painting, and even the things I was luke warm on improved upon rewatch. Star Wars is for everyone, and May The Force Be With You.

    1. This movie rules and the world is damn lucky to have it.

  23. Desperado (1995)

    In need of a comfort movie tonight, and inspired by Patrick's piece today, I went with one of my favorite movies - DESPERADO. I can't explain how important DESPERADO was to me when I was younger. I love it.

    what can i say, i'm a sucker for spy movies. i've seen almost everything that was adapted from a John LeCarré's book. this is not one of those, but it could be. though it would deserve a better director, Francis Lawrence serves us with a competent movie that does what's it's supposed to do. at 2h20 with end credits, it's a bit on the long side. also, i like Jennifer Lawrence more and more with each movie she does. she got known with that crappy YA movie (ok, it's not that bad), but quickly moved on to better and more daring stuff. not that this one is that daring, but it's certainly different from X-Men or Hunger Games.

  25. I saw The Natural for the first time. It was very old fashioned. It made me appreciate that movies have gotten more subtle and the great ones now have more angles.

    Also watched Far and Away for the first time since my fam wore out the VHS. That movie is still awesome.

  26. Sicario Day of the Soldado (2018)

    Next week's Reserved Seating so I'll be brief. Great first half but then goes in a direction I found disappointing.

    1. same here. but as a sequel to a movie that didn't need one, i thought it was good.

    2. Just from seeing the trailers it seems like "Soldado" needs 100% more Denis Villeneuve, Roger Deakins and Emily Blunt in it to be half-as-good as its 2015 prequel... and neither are in this new one. :-(

  27. Desolation (2017, dir. Patton)

    Blech. This is a really bad movie. There's not a wealth of anything bad, there's just an absence of anything good.

  28. The Challenge (1982)

    Toshirô Mifune does a lot to lend this movie some authenticity that elevates above just being a white savior movie with Scott Glenn in the lead. Really liked the last 10 mins or so where Glenn and Mifune storm the villain's building with Glenn armed with an assault rifle and Mifune armed with a sword, bow, throwing knives, and caltrops. The somewhat unorthodox sword fight at the end is a lot of fun as well.

  29. Gemini ((2017):

    Picked this up as a backup Redboxing title. Fairly tense thriller about an actress and her assistant who get into some DEADLY drama. Not a great script, but it’s well shot and has a pair of solid lead performances from Lola Kirke and Zoe Kravitz.

  30. The Last of the Finest (1990) Dir: John Mackenzie

    Pretty standard cop movie about a group of dedicated officers who continue an investigation after they're suspended. What sets it apart is 1) it's directed by John Mackenzie of Long Good Friday fame, and 2) the cast. As far as I know, it's the only movie to star Brian Dennehy, Bill Paxton, Joe Pantoliano, and Jeff Fahey's dreamy blue eyes. The story is absolutely basic, but the cast really elevates this one into something worth seeing.

  31. Panic (1983, dir. Tonino Ricci)

    Scientist gets mutated, lurks in sewer, kills people. This movie is totally fine, but it made Junesploitation feel long.

  32. Ghosthouse (1988)

    So this one happens to be an example of “oh shit, it’s THAT movie!” from deep in the recesses of my childhood. That fucking creepy backward clown music has been seared into my brain for most of my life. The movie itself is fun enough with the acting levels turnt up to 11, dialogue seemingly written by aliens, terrible dubbing, and questionable character motivations. I love movies where you can smell the spray paint from the “haunted house” set through your TV. A bit slow at times, but with enough weirdness to keep you going.