Rewatched Zack Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017, 4K UHD) with the Red Letter Media commentary track. Nothing like Mike Stoklasa snark and Rich Evans' contagious laughter to make a silly-bad movie (not an insulting-bad one like its predecessors) go down easy. And now that the Snyder Cut of "JL" is being worked on for an HBO Max 2021 release it's time to declare the overwhelming victory of geek culture over popular entertainment. Or how desperate for post-pandemic content to compete with the Netflix/Disney+ juggernaut the Warner/AT&T executives are. I'll wait for the bonus-loaded Blu-ray.And in the spirit of Junesploitation...Mark Lester's COMMANDO (1986) with Armchair Director's Commentary) is as lean, mean, well-oiled and fat-free 80's action machine as its leading man (Schwarzenegger on the verge of hitting his "Predator" prime) and supporting cast... except for Vernon Wells, but that's OK because Bennett rules! :-D As JP pointed out two weeks ago, Arnold's acting improved noticeably for "Raw Deal" the year after. Compared with the pace, killer one-liners and so-over-the-top-it's-glorious final 20 minutes of "Commando," though, "Raw Deal" lives up to its title (zing!).SAMURAI COP (1991) is an ever-green howl of a good time regardless of whether it's watched on its own or with fan commentary tracks (like the one from Jaboody Dubs). Rifftrax Live introduced me to the wacky antics of Joe and Frank (and their club-up-his-ass smiling captain), but it's the particular shortcomings/genius of director Amir Shervan that never cease to make me smile like an idiot watching this. Four 'black gifts' (out of five). :-PMichael Bay's ARMAGEDDON (1998) (Friends In Your Head podcast) might be the most extreme example of AMERICA-FUCK-YEAH!-SPLOITATION! ever made. Pretty 2-second pictures and gorgeous actors (Affleck, Tyler, Buscemi, Fichtner... OK, never mind!) give gloss and pretend-meaning to a dumber-than-a-"Dumb and Dumber"-sequel tale of oil drillers saving the planet from an asteroid. Barf! :-(The elements of Barry Levinson's YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES (1985, first-time viewing) are a lot more fun/interesting than the sum of its parts. The first-ever 100% CG character (from co-producer ILM's little-known Pixar department), a proto-"Harry Potter" crossed with a Junior version of "Temple of Doom" (no accident given the involvement of the Amblin holy trinity of Spielberg/Kennedy/Marshall), the uncanny resemblance of its young actors to contemporary stars (Nicholas Rowe = young Benedict Cumberbach, Alan Cox = young Daniel Radcliffe), etc. Shame this boy's adventure gives its lead actress (Sophie Ward) nothing to do, and felt old-school even back in '85. Tremendous practical effects showcase (puppets, stop-motion, etc.) and one hell of an atmospheric soundtrack from Bruce Broughton ("Monster Squad"). It's fine.Also rewatched Joel Schumacher's BATMAN & ROBIN (1997, Blu-ray) and the DTV Steven Seagal flick THE PERFECT WEAPON (2016, A. Prime). Both are garbage, but one is a super-queer work of a closeted self-hating talentless hack... and the other is "Batman & Robin." 'Nuff said. :-)
Oops, forgot one! Albert Pyun's ARCADE (1994, Popcorn Poops Commentary) might be the most dull, pointless and boring 'trapped inside a virtual world' flick ever made. Saw it a while back, forgot about it, and I just forgot almost all about it minutes after finishing. It's basically "Tron" on a shoestring budget to satisfy the needs of Charles Band (idea man/producer) and then-hungry Davis S. Goyer (future "Blade"/"Dark Knight" trilogy scribe). Seth Green is in this, so there's hope an in-joke somewhere in "Robot Chicken" makes fun of his tiny role here. Albert Pyun is either feast or famine, and for my money "Arcade" owes me chicken. Better luck during the man's actual Junesploitation! 2020 Day. 8-)
Rich Evan's laugh is the song of angels
Drunk angels who haven't earned wings. :-P R.E. is the sole reason I'm putting "Space Cop" somewhere in my Junesploitation! schedule.
Have you seen it before? Lots of great Rich Evans boobery.
Nope. Saving it for June. :-)
Love RLM. But Space Cop is a really hard to get through even as a huge fan of them. It's terrible and not in a fun way.
Hello to everyone. It was a good week of movies. Besides the announcement of the Junesloitation schedule, the biggest thrill of the week was learning about the opening of the Mahoning Drive-In next month. I will aim for the second weekend in June (The Mad Max films) for the first visit of the season. Things will undoubtedly be different- so far nothing is posted about social distancing measures- but it will be nice get out. CHATO’S LAND (1972, dir. Michael Winner) – Being a big Charles Bronson fan, I have been curious about this western for a long time. I believe it was the first collaboration between Winner and Bronson. Chato’s Land is violent and thoughtful, a combination I was not expecting. Bronson portrays Chato, a half-breed Apache who kills a racist lawman while buying supplies in a town. A posse is formed to track him down, but there is sometimes a thin line between being the hunter and the hunted. The rest of the very able cast is headed by Jack Palance, and the location shooting in Spain is frequently breathtaking. A heavy recommendation from me. On Amazon Prime. THE SAND PEBBLES (1966, dir. Robert Wise) – Steve McQueen stars in this epic about an American gunboat on the Yangtze River in the 1920s. He portrays Jake Holman, the chief engineer on the boat USS San Pablo who has the knack for to be antagonizing the ship's captain and crew. It is surprising how well the McQueen “cool” persona suits this historical drama. (He got his only Oscar nod for it.) During a leisurely three-hour running time the viewer gets to know the crew, learn about Chinese politics, observe a couple of romances, and watch a very Hollywood ending. Although it falls short of being a great film, the ambition of the production stands out. FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41 (1972) – An unintentional re-watch. Once I clicked on the play button, the film stayed on till the final frame. JAILHOUSE 41 is a unique women-in-prison film not for its story but for its style. There are some genuine arthouse qualities to the imagery, and the film shifts to other genres at times. Another notable aspect is Meiko Kaji's performance, which expresses so much without saying a word. For the Prison, Revenge, and Lethal Ladies categories, this would be a more than appropriate Junesploitation choice. Available on Prime.THE CAMERAMAN (1928) – An amusing Buster Keaton film that lacks some of the free-wheeling comedy of his earlier films. Keaton is the bumbling cameraman trying to break into the newsreel business and win the affection of the attractive secretary of the newsreel office. My favorite gag was Buster running up and down the stairs in expectation a phone call. Even if the studio system had not stifled his creativity, I wonder how he could have thrived in the talkies era with his comedy style.
I own "Sand Pebbles" on Blu-ray (an early release for the format in the mid-to-late 2000's). Great flick, and a chance for McQueen to flex his acting muscles and be less of "the man" he usually played. It's almost a quiet, more introspective epic than the usual Hollywood period piece."Jailhouse 41" is an awesome flick. Saw it for Junesploitation! a few years back, and it's part of a series of similarly-titled exploitation flicks. If you liked this one check out the others, they're supposedly just as good or better than the '72 one. :-)
The "drifting along" aspect of the story is what I liked most about Sand Pebbles, J.M. I felt like I was living on the San Pablo with the characters. The on-location shooting and set-pieces are amazing to watch. I was trying to figure out how long it took to set up the battle scenes alone. No studio today would even try to shoot that complex of a sequence without the aid of CGI. McQueen is McQueen but also inhabits Holman convincingly.I have seen all the Female Prisoner Scorpion films. The first two are the only ones I really remember clearly. Jailhouse 41 is far more beautiful than it should be.
I am eyeing some of the physical media sales going on this weekend. The temptation to add to my collection is always there, but the way this year is going has me cautious about my purchases. Anybody else feeling that way?
I know how you feel. Kino, Vinegar Syndrome, etc. are all having pretty good sales. I've set myself a tiny budget for must-own stuff, because as broke as I am (and many people are) I still want to support physical media. It'd be a shame of the boutique labels went the way of J.C. Penny or Sears. As good as the streaming services are, I see them as complementing my movie-watching needs rather than replacing them. But family and debt comes before pleasure. If you have a little left after taking care of your loved ones and responsibilities then by all means, go nuts. This is America... at least for a little while longer! ;-)
I have some money set aside from before this Covid-19 trouble began. There is some work coming up (the tax season was extended to July), but what happens after that is uncertain. Spending the money the best way possible is the big question. Something like the Lenzi/ Carroll Baker giallo set coming out from Severin attracts me, and that will not be cheap. I have made purchases from Vinegar Syndrome every sale for the past two years, but this sale I will hold back.
Joe Dante binge-watch this week. This was my first-ever viewing of Hollywood Boulevard. Really fun Naked Gun-style spoof of Roger Corman type filmmaking. But there were some moments of genuine heart amid all the boob jokes. For Piranha, I imagine there was discussion at one point of making it a full-on spoof, but instead they went ahead and made a legit horror-comedy. I like that it’s just different enough from Jaws to be its own thing. Then Dante leans into the horror vibe in a big way with The Howling. There’s a lot of metaphor at play, equating werewolfism with marriage troubles and self-help gurus. Great stuff. Gremlins is of course terrific. The mom fighting the Gremlins in the kitchen is as good as movies get. Explorers is a mess. It makes no sense, and the third act has no plot of any kind. BUT, the characters are really likable and it nicely captures the ‘80s Spielberg-ian sense of wonder, so it’s totally rewatchable. And last night was Innerspace. Just imagine if The Cowboy from this movie teamed up with The Cowboy from Mulholland Drive.
Hollywood Boulevard may be the best cinematic inside joke. Dante and Arkush recognized the silliness of New World's movies but had a lot of love for them, too.
When you stack his films in chronological order like that, Mac, Joe Dante had as strong a run of hits from the late 70's ("Piranha") to the early 90's ("Matinee," which I don't personally care for but most people seem to love) as John Carpenter's post-"Dark Star" run. Heck, Carpenter became hit-and-miss in the 90's but Dante was still delivering solid work like "Gremlins 2" and "Matinee." Even "Explorers," arguably the weakest of his 80's films, was more the product of a rushed release schedule and hellish production (the editing of the movie's final act was taken away from Dante, so the wonderful build-up of the first two thirds crashes at the end) than J.D. not being able to deliver the goods. The only problem now, Mac, is that you're venturing into Joe's mid-90's-to-present dark period. Hard times ahead. :-(
I watched Vivarium the other night. While it had its far share of flaws, I found it enjoyable. Mostly from its sci-fi mythology. Performances were strong. It's nice to see an original indie flick though it does bare a lot of striking similarities to the Norwegian film "The Bothersome Man" from 2006 which is a movie a really like.
I hope everyone is well and doing okay.It's been a random movie watching this week. Though I will say it's been really wonderful being able to watch a movie everything night with my partner, he's a chef and of course with everything he is now home, I've been introducing some new things like Come to Daddy and After Midnight to him.We watched Haywire for the first time, I liked it more than he did. I just enjoyed how the movie moved and the fight scenes were awesome. We also watched The Love Birds on Netflix. Though I wished it went bigger with it's premise Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae are just too charming for me not to kinda like the movie.I also did a double feature of sorts with Hammer's The Devil Rides Out and the documentary Hail Satan? Devil Rides is my favourite Hammer movie, I really love how dark and how much devil action there is. It's a Terence Fisher and Richard Matheson joint so it just works. Hail Satan? is the other side of the coin, it's about the pomp and circumstance of religion and breaking down the rituals that we have. It was an intersting documentary.Make sure you all take care of yourselves out there!
You too Lindsay. Don't get too comfty with all the delicious meals your chef BFF is making for you at home! Moderation = perfection. ;-P
What do think is Charles Gray's best role, Lindsay: Mocata or Blofeld?
J.M I have been eating very well at the moment. Rarely have I been this spoiled.Casual - I think Mocata is Gray's best role, he really gets to flex a polite evil. Though I do enjoy his School Principle Bloefeld.
Hey guys! Hope you're all well.This week I saw the Chinese sci-fi epic The Wandering Earth. It has a fun premise, okay action scenes and passable effects, but the plot is basic sci-fi/action nonsense. The premise: the Sun is in the slow process of expanding and will eventually destroy Earth, so the governments band together to build huge "Earth engines" to propel the whole planet on a 2,500-year journey to another star system, while the surviving humans live underground. Does everything go according to plan? Take a guess.On the other end of the spectrum, The Interpreter is a charming little Slovakian movie about two grumpy, elderly men, one of whose father was the Nazi officer who killed the other's parents in a concentration camp, who take a road trip to learn more about those events. Do they bond and learn to understand each other? Take a guess.Also going through more of Nora Ephron's filmography. Sleepless in Seattle is charming, Michael is fucking weird.