Saturday, February 2, 2019

Weekend Open Thread

In my country, open thread weekends you.


  1. Good weekend to everyone.

    With an extra day off this week, I was able to see a few things.

    KING BOXER, aka, FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (1972) – There are a lot of 1970s Shaw Brothers kung fu films on Prime right now. This was one of the titles I most wanted to see, and it was a great watch after a day at work: simple, direct, and full of style. King Boxer is full of kung fu clichés, yet it has a freshness to it because it is one of the films that established the clichés. If you are looking for some old-school martial arts revenge, King Boxer is an excellent choice. My appreciation for Lo Lieh grows with every role I see him in.

    I continued my exploration of the peplum genre with a couple of watches. I went on my DVR to see the badly titled TYRANT OF LYDIA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES (1963). Hercules plays no part in it at all. The film is very entertaining and, surprisingly, exhibits some brains for part of its running time. The other one I watched is THE GIANT OF MARATHON (1959). I took advantage of a pristine French-language version (La Bataille de Marathon) currently on Youtube. Whatever one thinks of the plot, this is a beautiful film to look at. Mario Bava was the cinematographer and ended up directing (uncredited) part of it. A few scenes foreshadow the distinctive color palette of his 1960s films.

    With TCM in its annual Oscar month, I will definitely be turning to the backlog of genre films currently on the DVR. It is my least favorite time of the year for the channel.

  2. I watched the 4 hour epic CLEOPATRA (1963) almost TWICE (two 10 hr plane rides). I couldn't hear all the dialogue the first time so I rewatched those parts.

    UM, I love it. Rex Harrison - love, Liz Taylor - super love, Richard BUrton - love. Robert Stephens and Roddy Mcdowell - bonus. Roman political drama - super love. You can tell how much MONEY went into this thing, geez. Every scale/feather thing on those warships and piece of armor, etc. Sheesh!

    Liz Taylor is the bomb. I've never seen her character beg to be considered; she's always commanding, like "I'M A WOMAN - YOU WILL HEAR ME". And she has no problem being vulnerable either, or apologizing for wrongs or supporting her man. Her Cleopatra is the real deal.

    It reminded me, too, that the story of Mark Antony and CLeopatra is the one my dad always referenced to my sister and I when he didn't want us to date boys. He would warn us: "Remember Mark Antony and Cleopatra! Passion has a mind of its own! Passion has brought countries to their KNEES! Passion has RUINED ENTIRE CIVILIZATIONS! PASSION brought THE FALL OF ROME!" Dad is so dramatic.

    Also on the plane I watched Cool Hand Luke (1967). So let me ask anyone who's seen this - is Luke a hero in the end? Because I personally thought Luke was a bad egg. Bad eggs make for good stories, worth telling. But from the first scene I felt afraid of him. From the first scene you know this is a guy who doesn't care about ANYTHING, who has a death wish.

    I liked the ending. I liked Roepert & Ebert's take on it but I personally didn't see it the same way - in fact kind of the opposite. The glasses represented the authority of man. But this is a story about the authority of God VERSUS the authority of man.

    1. I should be more clear here, lest I sound...scary. A "bad egg" in the sense that, as a woman - you don't want to date this dude or be fooled or charmed by him.

    2. Cleopatra is a film I only have seen parts of, but I am familiar with Elizabeth Taylor's films. She has a presence on the screen that you cannot ignore. Although there are more famous films in her career, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the work I know her best for.

      It is has been a long time since I watched Cool Hand Luke. What I do remember is the rebelliousness of the Newman's character to, as you state, the point of self-destruction. With many 1960s anti-heroes in that vein, it seems to be a character type that had a strong appeal at that time.

    3. Yea that's what I read - the anti-establishment theme was big at that time. I think it's an interesting but limited theme.

      Yea, Liz Taylor was insane. Hey they were in Cat on the Hot Tin Roof together :) Did you know it was supposedly about Newman's character being gay? Or something? To be perfectly honest...I had a hard time getting emotionally involved in that movie. Whereas in Williams' Streetcar Named Desire - I super relate to everything going on in that one.

      Film I know her best from was Giant, one of my all time favs.

    4. In Giant she's like "You think I'm really pretty? Cool thanks, I'll tell my husband". LOL.

  3. Random thoughts about movies I watched this week:

    Between Worlds - A weird fantasy movie with an unhinged performance from Nic Cage. It's no Mandy, but it's still a really good time. With Mandy, Mom and Dad and this, plus voicing Superman and Spider-Man, Cage had an amazing 2018.

    The Master Cleanse - Guy attends a spiritual retreat where metaphor becomes reality and subtext turns into text. Kind of a fun conceit for a 20 minute short stretched into 80 minutes.

    The Night Comes for Us - Absolutely delivers what it promises. If you're in need of an adrenaline boost, watch this movie. For a story, look elsewhere.

    The Book of Henry - I have no idea what this movie was trying to say. But I'll give it this much: I had no idea where it was headed.

    The Wizard - A 90 minute Nintendo commercial with a confusing plot and several kinds of inappropriate behavior from children and adults alike. But weirdly, the thing that bothered me most were the inconsistencies in how the games were portrayed.

  4. Not sure if anyone has signed up for the new Criterion Channel, but until it officially kicks off in April they are doing a movie a week. This week was Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky. I hadn't seen this before and wow is it something. May nails some aspects pf toxic masculinity by showing these wise-guy-types that we think we know in a blistering light. It is fantastic.

  5. I watched a double header of You Got Served (2004) followed by Magic Mike (2012). While Magic Mike is without a doubt the "objectively better" movie, I had a lot more fun with You Got Served. The acting isn't terribly good, and the story is fairly unsurprising, but that's all just a backdrop to some fantastic dancing. I was all in for the protagonists to win the big dance battle at the end, where it was no-rules, "like we do it on the streets" dance off. And of course the glorious moment when they win the competition, and get up all in the faces of the others and say "you suckas got served". That made me fist pump.

  6. I discovered a new podcast called Friendly Fire that talks about war movies. One movie per episode. I've only listened to a couple, but it's very well done. Recommended.
    (Heads up, there is another podcast also called Friendly Fire that is about something else, not war movies.)

    1. You have piqued my interest but I'm afraid to google it...