Good weekend to everyone.With my Netflix streaming subscription ending this week, I have focused on seeing the films in my queue. BEWARE OF MR. BAKER (2015) – Undoubtedly the best music documentary I have watched recently. While Ginger Baker is best known as the drummer for the rock group Cream, his musical ventures have encompassed playing Afrobeat with Fela Kuti and pursuing his first love, jazz. As is often the case with documentaries, the fact that Baker is not an easy man to like contributes greatly to the charm of the film. RAW (2016)- This is an unnerving film. The strength of Raw is the slow unfolding of the story’s strangeness. Adding the elements of peer pressure and social awkwardness only made it a more compelling film. The toxic relationship between the sisters was in some ways more horrifying than their actions.INSIDE DEEP THROAT (2005)– The first time I have watched this in a decade. It is a great documentary about a moment in time, informative but not overwhelming. My only criticism is its reliance on 1970s musical and visual clichés to move the narrative along. They at least feel like clichés now. I could not help noticing that many of the interview subjects have passed away since the early 2000s. BLACK SOULS (2014)- The rural setting of this Italian mafia drama is what drew me into the film. The scenery is rugged and beautiful, and there seem to be more goats than people. The pace of life of the characters is slow, which is reflected in the film's pacing. Overall, it is a well-made film that rewards patience.I inaugurated the Prime subscription with a viewing of WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND from 1983. I tend not to be a fan of post-apocalyptic films; the Mad Max films are the rare exceptions. When it comes to the suspension of disbelief, I have struggled with the genre. WARRIORS illustrated some of the reasons why, but it is a film I did not dislike. Although Castellari did not have the resources to effectively build a world, his directorial skills compensated for it by delivering some entertaining action. I appreciated the western elements in the film, too. The presence of George Eastman and Fred Williamson also made it worthwhile. I am excited to see that many of the Arrow Video releases are available on Prime.
I really like Beware of Mr. Baker. There are a couple of spots where I think the guy making the documentary maybe inserts himself a bit too much into things but it's not a huge problem. Overall it's a good documentary even for people who aren't necessarily big fans of Cream (I like some of their stuff but I don't typically go out of my way to listen to it).
Cream was only two years of Baker's life. Even though rock music has been has been the main source of his fame and income, I found it interesting that he views himself as a jazz musician. The footage of him playing with the likes of Art Blakey and Max Roach is probably my favorite part of the film.
Fairly low-key week for me movie-wise. I watched Wrecking Crew which I believe Patrick talked about in an "I Stream, You Stream" column, re-watched Amy (the Amy Winehouse documentary) because I was over visiting my Mom and figured she might like it.Checked out Dead Reckoning (1947) on Amazon because sometimes you see there's a Bogart movie free on Prime so why the heck not? Fairly standard film noir, but I'll take a fairly standard film noir with Bogart and Lizabeth Scott any day of the week.Followed that up with a recommendation from my dad, I Married a Witch (1942). Veronica Lake is incredibly charming and overall the movie is good light fun about a witch who has cursed the descendants of the man who burned her and her father at the stake to all have unhappy marriages (doesn't this already sound fun) only to end up falling in love with one.
Making my way through the wonderful '80s All Over podcast has given me some good treats that I knew nothing about.Death Ship (1980) - This is much better than I expected and has some very chilling scenes. It captures the haunted house (or ship) vibe very well. This is currently streaming on Tubi TVGleaming the Cube (1989) - Hadn't seen this in decades and maybe never in its entirety. Most of it is extremely melodramatic, but the elongated Pizza-Hut-commercial-skateboard-showdown-finale is one for the books. It is worth it just for that.
I finally got to see Upgrade. What a fantastic movie that was. Leigh Whannell managed to make $5 million look like $100 million, and it had some the best fight scenes I've seen in some time. It's a nasty little movie but I enjoyed every second of it.
My week(end) in movies:Spasms, dir. William Fruet (1983)Been meaning to see this film for a number of years ever since I heard of it and... well... it is quite something(!), I man how the heck can I resist a film that is about Oliver Reed being psychically connected to a giant poisonous snake! The kind of film that was thankfully made in the 1980's because everyone plays it wonderfully seriously, including Peter Fonda and it is surprisingly well shot and has some Tangerine Dream on the soundtrack... However it makes not a whole lot of sense, snake worshipping Satanists are the other antagonists and they are just kind of well there and the end is a total dud (FYI: They sadly ran out of money!) But I have to at least enjoy a film that is ultimately about Oliver Reed being psychically connected to a giant poisonous snake!Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, dir. Jeff Burr (1993)Directed by one of my personal favourite genre directors; Jeff Burr and though this is one of his weakest films there is still a bunch of fun to be had and enough directorial creativity to get through the low budget, some strange casting (Roger "brother of Bill(!)" Clinton as the town mayor named Bubba) and some very clunky storytelling! Sure it falls down the sequel rabbit hole of just doing the same again, the first Pumpkinhead is still an underrated 80's horror gem, but it has some nice gore, moments of style/craziness and well for me the fact it is directed by Jeff Burr meant it was due a revisit!
I've watched all 5 Air Bud movies over the summer, and have actually really been enjoying them. They're perfectly fine "kids" movies, and watching them as a family with the kids liking them heightens my enjoyment. We're about to watch something tonight, and have to decide between Air Buddies and MVP: Most Valuable Primate.Also, is Teen Titans Go To The Movies the best DC superhero movie yet? I haven't laughed so hard at the theater in a while!