Saturday, February 15, 2020

Weekend Open Thread


30 comments:

  1. Speaking of Nic Cage, I would have gone to a midnight screening of "Mandy" at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema last night. Too bad it was sold out. But this morning's 35mm Brunch screening of "Valley Girl" (part of Nitehawk's month-long 'Uncaged' tribute) isn't, so I'll be watching that for the first time. :-)

    THE ASSISTANT (2020) is the first stone-cold cinematic masterpiece of the #MeToo era. Who'd ever think a miserable day in the life of a lowly NYC movie production office assistant working under a boss from hell (clearly patterned after Harvey Weinstein) could be so engrossing. It flirts with being indie misery porn, but Julia Garner (TV's "The Americans" and "Ozark") gives a subtle performance that allows viewers to read into her stoic bland expression a galaxy of repressed emotions. Bonus points for having Jay O. Sanders ("JFK," a million "Law & Order" episodes) provide the voice of the barely-seen monster pulling all the company strings a few feet from where Jane is sitting. "The Assistant" is also mercifully short (under 90 min.) and a promising directorial/writing debut for documentarian Kitty Green.

    Watched SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (2020) in Dolby Cinema. As a lifelong fan of Sega more than Sonic (though I've played my fair share of his games, particularly the Saturn and Dreamcast titles), this silly little kids movie captures the attitude and personality from the Genesis 2D games. Anyone that embraces their inner 12-14 year-old self will be amused, some more than others. I would bet money Jim Carrey has been slightly de-aged so he doesn't look his 58 years of age, because his Dr. Robotnik is just one degree shy of Riddler-in-"Batman Forever" shtick. It's 25 years too late to capitalize on his Genesis gaming prime, but "Sonic" is worth seeing just to gawk at James Marsden playing straight man to a CG blue hedgehog and almost pulling it off.

    In honor of the late Robert Conrad (except not really) watched JINGLE ALL THE WAY (1996) on HBO GO with the FTM! Commentary Track (in which I get a shout-out during the closing credits! :-P). Conrad plays a cop whom Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps running into. It's a shit show, especially after my recent first-viewing of "Christmas Vacation" opened my eyes at what a slapstick-heavy holiday classic looks/feels like. There's something 80's awkward about Phil Hartman trying to get it on with Tom Hanks' wife under Arnold's nose. But I'd still watch this over "The Phantom Menace" to gawk at Jake Lloyd's second worst performance (ouch).

    Also watched John McTiernan's DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE (1995) because, you know, it's February and 'Hot summer in the city!' ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ My memory of this one is always better than my infrequent viewings (the main reason I haven't upgraded from DVD), but this time I realized how freaking epic it was for the filmmakers to be allowed to film all around pre-9/11 Gotham. There's no way they'd let them drive a cab through the Central Park lawn or chase an ambulance through Columbus Circle. I can picture the 2020 version of this movie with CG backgrounds and fake blue screen cars, and that makes this (and 1990's "Die Hard 2") an exciting time capsule. It's also pretty bland and generic, with the missing relationship between McClane and Holly replaced by the banter between fresh-from-"Pulp Fiction" Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson, which isn't as fun as it should be. It's an OK 90's flick, but rewatching it only increases my appreciation for the original "Die Hard."

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    1. So, watched VALLEY GIRL (1983, 35mm) at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema on Saturday morning for the first time. Packed house of mostly women, who were laughing at every other line of dialogue the characters uttered... rather annoying. I remember going out of my way to avoid this one every time it came on "USA Up All Night." It's kind of 'meh,' especially with the contrived choice Julie (Deborah Foreman) has to make between Hollywood punk Randy (Cage, who is sleepwalking by today's standards but back in '83 seemed to be chewing scenery) and Tommy (Michael Bowen, who is clearly evil since he's a handsome blonde dude in an 80's movie). Also, is it just me or does Fred (Cameron Dye) looks like a punk version of Quention Tarantino? :-P

      "Valley Girl" gets an an FTM! 'It's OK' from me, but compared to "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or "Last American Virgin" it's kind of aimless and ends on a flat note. Cage fans will dig seeing the birth of his mannerisms (loved his drunken whining when Julie dumps him, the closest we get to contemporary crazy Cage), but I preferred all the guest supporting performances (Colleen Camp, Frederic Forest, etc.). Nice mint 35mm print, though. :-)

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  2. Just got home from a festival triple bill of Richard Stanley's The Color Out of Space, 1981's My Bloody Valentine, and the same year's Don't Go in the Woods, and boy did I have a great time!

    I had pretty high hopes for Color Out of Space, thanks mainly to Patrick's review, but thankfully the movie cleared them easily. The packed house was into it, which helped. My Bloody Valentine is a solid 80's slasher, and Don't Go in the Woods is great stupid fun.

    Oh, and at one point in Color, Nic Cage sits down to watch TV, and there's a Marlon Brando movie playing. A little reference from Stanley, perhaps?

    The festival also announced their next two-day lineup they're showing in a couple of months. It included From Beyond, Cronenberg's The Fly, William Castle's 13 Ghosts, Manos: The Hands of Fate, and something called The Executioner 2. I'm so there!

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    1. A New Yorker has no right to be jealous of a guy whose home town hosts a genre festival five days a year.

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    2. Amazing. That sounds like fun. 100% a reference of Brando, I heard him talk about it, I just picked up the new Scream factory blu of My blood valentine with all the uncut scenes properly placed in HD, my expensive lionsgate blu is now worthless but for the extras but I love this film, gonna watch it drinking Moosehead beers

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    3. The version they showed was the Director's Cut, but there was a noticable change in picture quality whenever a gore scene was coming up.

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    4. Same with the home video version (the old and new), just like the re-inserted scenes in the DVD/Blu-rays of "Silent Night, Deadly Night." Back in the 80's trimmed/deleted scenes weren't preserved as, for example, the deleted footage in Donner's "Superman II." For low-budget cheapies like "My Bloody valentine" it's a miracle the gory footage looks as good as it does, so I'll take it.

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  3. Saw this the other day. They were not fans.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=i4zv555BZpA&feature=emb_logo

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    1. Sorry its Siskel and Ebert's review of My Bloody Valentine.

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    2. I am from the UK. Not sure if being not from America means something but I don't understand how these two reviewers got so famous. They seem to hate films especially horror. Have you seen there review of Xtro! So filled with vile hatred I genuinely dont get it. A good film reviewer can always find something positive to say about a film they did not enjoy. But to just Rip into a film is just mean. It bloody hard to make a movie. Say something nice or say nothing. Sorry but I really really dislike these two people. They seem to of had a agenda or maybe they got to big for there boots? Rant over. Sorry. Please forgive me. But I am not a fan of people being nasty.

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    3. A memorable slasher review from the duo is for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Roger Ebert's tirade is hilarious. Even Siskel thought he was taking the film, and the genre, too seriously.

      I watched Siskel and Ebert from the mid-1990s on till the show, largely because of the internet, became irrelevant around a decade later. Gene Siskel died in the late 1990s. The show probably came along at the right time, Dennis. It was an enjoyable half-hour of talk about the newest movies coming out. Siskel and Ebert had their own opinions, and the rest of the movie audience had its own. Horror was not their thing. Like many film critics, they wanted to see "quality" win in the box office.

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    4. Siskel and Ebert were human beings with their fair share of flaws and/or biased perspectives, just like any other film critic. They were on a 'movie violence is bad' trend very prevalent during Reagan's decade, but their overall perspectives on movies and filmmaking make their skewed perspectives on horror films tolerable in the grand scheme of their body of work.

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    5. Both those comments Make sense seeing as I mainly watch horror movies that's why I only really see the negative reviews about these films they review. It good to hear they did champion other stuff though it is a shame they dont get horror

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    6. Ebert's take on a lot of horror and comedy wasn't great. This is parapharasing from a source I can't remember, but what he was particularly good at was explaining why the the very best films were so good. Distilling it in a way that even the most movie ignorant person could understand.

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  4. I finally saw Birds of Prey today. I really liked it! It's like Deadpool, but without the ugliness.

    Similarly, earlier this week I re-watched Aquaman. It's a bit of a slog when it's not on the big Imax screen, but there's still some fun to had.

    And instead of watching the Oscars, I put on The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Leone goodness!

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    1. You have chosen... wisely. 8-)

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    2. I loved how they put him in the full comic booky suit at the end. Enough with the "gritty" look. He's a aquatic superhero! Embrace it.

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  5. Fantasy Island is one of the worst movies ever made.

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    1. Hey, Michael Peña's got to eat. Watching him collect a paycheck is worth a slot in AMC Plus subscription. ;-)

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    2. Michael Pena's one of those actors I enjoy in everything. Every movie is better for having him in it. That being said, I haven't seen Fantasy Island.

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  6. I have to thank Adam Riske for completely changing the way I watch movies. His unique defense of movies like Wish Upon and The Bye Bye Man have allowed me to see the fun Element in the trashiest of movies.

    My point being, I would never have seen OR enjoyed (I'm as surprised as you) Fantasy Island if not for listening to this podcast.

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    1. I really liked Wish Upon and thought The Bye Bye Man was dumb fun too - but Fantasy Island was not in that same category for me

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  7. This was the most challenging week for finding the energy for movies this year, but I was determined to see at least one Nicholas Cage film. I settled on BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS; the blu-ray was a few dollars at a store I pass by everyday. I was surprised by the film in a positive way. This is not the kind of film that takes itself too seriously, and the fact that the various strands of plot do not always work come together cleanly did not bother me. The "happy" conclusion is probably my favorite part. Cage and cast were having fun; it was nice to see Brad Dourif show up. Port of Call is not a project I would naturally connect Werner Herzog with, but he pulls it off with slickness and a touch of weirdness added in.

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    1. Have you listened to our own Patrick Bromley's defense of both "Bad Lieutenant" movies in the Projection Booth podcast? If not it's worth a listen now that you've seen "Port of NO." :-)

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    2. JM Vargas, thank you for this. I like to listen to Patrick when he's on other podcasts.

      Plus, i saw the first BL for the first time only a couple of weeks ago

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    3. I have not listened to the Projection Booth episode, but that is what brought Port of Call New Orleans to my attention in the first place, J.M. I had not been aware of any follow-up to the 1990s film. Anything that turns up on The Projection Booth I am willing to give a shot, anyway. It was my entry to the podcasting world over six years ago. I have enjoyed the recent episodes about 1969 releases a lot.

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  8. I watched "Dragon Quest: Your Story" on Netflix yesterday. For most of its run time it is a perfectly okay animated movie. I might be cutting it more slack than it deserves because I am a big fan of the game it is based on and know the story they blew past to condense the whole thing into a 90 minutes movie. But is is mildly enjoyable. Then the ending happens, which is just one of the most out of left things I've seen in a movie in some time. No warning or build up, just a giant swerve right at the end. It is wild.

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