Good weekend to everyone.Perhaps not my finest week of movies, but I at least had one very enjoyable viewing. PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965, dir. Mario Bava) – Pulpy entertainment with some artful presentation. Though the passage of more than fifty years has inevitably made this film clunky in many ways, there are so many story ideas that make Planet of the Vampires ahead of its time. I have read about this being a precursor to ALIEN, which one can make the case for. The blending of science fiction and horror elements was not common at the time. I had forgotten how much the atmospheric cinematography permeates the film; the lighting is vintage Bava. The version on Prime looks terrific.THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP (1970) – An example of the cast being more interesting than the film. Long-time favorite actor/comedian Peter Sellers portrays a middle-aged food critic who falls into some (mis)adventures with a young woman, played by Goldie Hawn. There is a pleasant late 1960s vibe to film but it ultimately is fluff. Sellers is more in dramatic form than crazy mode. Goldie Hawn proves her comedic skills besides one of the greatest comedians. It at least entertains.I watched a couple of other films that I did not like. To clear the DVR, I forced my way through a 1976 film called THE RITZ, which is a farce set in a gay bathhouse. The lead actors (Rita Moreno, Jerry Stiller, and Jack Weston) do their best but cannot save a messy film. The other is THE LONG HAUL, a 1957 British noir starring Victor Mature as a truck driver. Although the film looks good, the script is frustratingly sloppy, especially regarding character motivations. A good reminder that not all older films are classics.
I'm saving Planet of the Vampires for October, so I'm glad to hear the Prime version is quality. I hope it stays on Prime anyway.
So I went to the movies yesterday and saw Peninsula, the sequel to Train to Busan. It takes place four years after the zombie outbreak, with South Korea pretty much a wasteland isolated by every other country. A group of South Koreans who got out four years earlier go back in hopes of retrieving a truck packed full of money, and run into small pockets of survivors, both friendly and not.Occasionally, it has fun with the familiar zombie movie tropes, but don't expect to be surprised by the "twists" if you've seen more than one zombie movie before. And the car chases through the city streets full of zombies and abandoned cars could've been exhilarating had they been shot for real, now they look like cut scenes from a PS4 game.I've also been compiling a preliminary list for Scary Movie Month this week. Already amped for it!Have a great weekend everyone!
So I just finished Underwater. I knew next to nothing about it before watching, and that was the perfect way to see it. So all I'll say is it's great!
"Underwater" came out early this year in the States, but it feels like it came out a million years ago in a completely different world than the one we live in right now. :-(
Just beginning my weekend, but so far I've knocked out a few:Boys State (dir. Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, 2020)I can't improve on Rob's review, but this was a movie where after I saw the trailer, I knew I needed to watch it. I think what's fantastic about the experience of watching, especially the climax, is how the filmmakers build such palpable drama and anticipation about *parliamentary procedure and candidate selection*! The personalities involved are undeniably fascinating and I didn't get the sense that the movie was using reality tv-esque editing to amplify the drama. I have to admit, the end of the film leaves the impression that the best generation is doomed to repeat our mistakes; I certainty hope not.Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story (dir. Limo Eastwood and Ron Cicero, 2020)I hadn't thought about Ren and Stimpy for 20 years but after taking in this documentary about John K. and his merry band of punk rebel animators, it rekindles my youthful enthusiasm. The sparkle fades considerably when it touches on John K's abuse and sexual misconduct with underage girls, but the legacy of a small handful of very talented artists working at the top of their game still looms large over TV animation.Of course I can't be objective, but I think a non-fan could get a palpable sense from this doc of how transformative the show was for pop culture. A big recommendation.The Great Dictator (dir. Charlie Chaplin, 1940)I didn't choose to watch this because of current politics, but just to fill in one of my blind spots in Cinema history. It's refreshing to see the simplicity of physical comedy that's not tainted by the current Will Farrell/Judd Apatow/Paul Feig mode of endless improv, body humor and celebrity cameos. I really really miss good comedies. Chaplin punctuates a social critique of the rise of fascism (a heavy and dour subject even in 1940) with the most delightfully funny and charming comedic interludes. They're just so simple and beautiful and magnetic; it's not hard to see why he was the most popular actor of his day.Also, I didn't know that this was Chaplin's first talkie. He spent all of the 30s continuing his silent era routine until this, which was clearly a passion project the likes of which Hollywood probably would have shied away from if Chaplin wasn't such a powerhouse. Only when he felt that the fire coming from Germany was endangering the world did he choose to play a character who spoke. Boy does he speak.
"Would you like to buy some rubber nipples?"One of the Nickelodeon channels shows Ren And Stimpy during the overnight hours. I watched it during its initial run in the early 1990s, and I have caught some of the reruns late at night. It is a strange and edgy show, one that Nickelodeon would probably never do now. The storytelling is very anarchic at times.
I have never gotten around to watching The Great Dictator, but there is so much of Chaplin's work that have seen. Although I have a preference for Buster Keaton, Chaplin was undeniably a brilliant comedian. Chaplin might have been the most popular movie star ever because there was no language barrier with his films.
HOLLOW MAN (2000) I guess I’m still on a Verhoeven run. This one was even more gross and mean-spirited than I remember. Kevin Bacon’s invisible man character is supposed to be the villain, but I wonder if the producers are trying to get us to side with him. It’s like they’re saying to the audience, “We think he is you.” JUPITER ASCENDING (2015) I know the general consensus among film nerds is to give the Wachowskis a pass because their movies have such sincerity and no one else can go to the weird places they go. Yet I’m struck with all the ways this one could be improved. It’s so tonally inconsistent, constantly introducing big ideas that seemingly have no relation to the plot at hand. At least the visuals are really cool. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988) With a minimal plot and the lowest possible stakes, this nonetheless remains compelling viewing. Interesting how Miyazaki can steep the movie in Japanese culture and beliefs, while simultaneously making it feel accessible to anyone.
My son saw this at four years of age, and with the Japanese audio and still loved Totoro. It's cinema as magic.
MOST of the Wachowskis movies get a pass, but not this one. This one is bad aaaaaal the way to the end. Well, i always enjoy seeing Mila Kunis in a movie, so there's that
"Hollow Man" is mean, nasty and no fun, the last one being the main reason why it disappoints as a Verhoeven picture. "Jupiter Ascending" should have been a Netflix or premium cable miniseries; too much excellent world-building, characters (Eddie Redmayne crushes it!) and special effects wasted on such a barren, tonally-inconsistent fluff piece. Natalie Portman in the lead wouldn't have saved it, so poor Mila Kunis never stood a chance."Totoro" is cool and a masterpiece... but it's no "Kiki's Delivery Service." ;-)
Finaly saw Les Affamés (Ravenous) (2017), a zombie movie from Quebec (with my name actually in the credits). My friends liked it a lot, but i didn't care for it. It's well shot and all, but the director is trying to do some metaphorical, philosophical crap that just make the movie look pretentious. And the zombie mythos is very unclear and irregular. It should be available on Netflix in the US. Give it a look, it's still worth it
Junesploitation! 2020 must have really broken me (along with the lack of theaters open in Gotham), because I haven't gotten into a regular movie-watching routine since. It doesn't help that I've been bitten by the Nintendo high-definition bug, and I'm spending inordinate-for-me time playing with my refurbished Wii U and brand-new Switch. Hey, unless you've experienced "Zelda: Breath of the Wild" (Wii U) or "Splatoon 2" (Switch) in glorious 720p don't knock 'em down. :-)I somehow managed to pry myself away from the game machines to watch some actual flicks this week. Saw CUTTING CLASS (1989) on Showtime. The waning 80's slasher craze met head-on with a "Heathers" wannabe by one of John Boorman's creative collaborators (Rosco Pallenberg) in his only directorial effort. Brad Pitt's in it, looking too old to play an enigmatic high school stud that gives leading man Donovan Leitch Jr. a run for his money in winning Jill Schoelen's heart. And no, I have no idea who those last two people were. :-PSaw REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS (1985) on Amazon Prime. I'd seen it once on HBO in the late 80's, so it was basically like a new viewing for me. Man, Fred Ward didn't become a lovable rogue until he crossed paths with Kevin Bacon in "Tremors" five years after this, where Fred's just an unlikable douche until the very end. Wilford Brimley (R.I.P.) never leaves the chair in the one office where all his scenes were filmed, and apparently Kate Mulgrew was Capt. Janeway old even when she was younger. Joel Grey gives the best performance of "Remo Williams" as martial arts trainer Chiun, which is problematic since it's one of the most racially insensitive mainstream castings this side of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (ouch!). Not even an entertaining stunt sequence around Lady Liberty (basically stuntmen doing parkour before it was called that) can overcome the lethargic, slow-as-molasses pace by veteran Bond director Guy Hamilton. An 80's time capsule in the best and worst sense. Rewatched THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986) on Amazon Prime as a watch-along with the old DVDVerdict Jury Room crew. Yep, still as shitty as I remember it with Murphy's charm only lifting this sinking tide as much as possible. Even long before "Game of Thrones" and "Last Action Hero," though, Charles Dance was/is/will always be the epitome of cool mofo. :-)Even though I've seen it screened theatrically in 35mm and own a decent SD DVD copy, I realized I've never seen Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND (1981) in HD. And since Showtime is streaming it I remedied that oversight this past week. As good as the bloody/loony/gross set-pieces are (neck bites, exploding heads, eye-trauma-by-cannibal-spider-puppet mauling, etc.), what gets me every time I see this is the palpable, gloomy mood of despair leading up to one of the all-time greatest endings in movie history, period. Even knowing what's coming doesn't diminish the 'WTF?!?!' of the realization audiences and the lead characters have simultaneously of what's happening. Fulci 4evah! :-D
Sometimes one needs a break even from activities that are enjoyable, J.M. I have gone through many cycles of movie watching over the years. The Beyond is playing at the Mahoning Drive-In next Sunday. The desire to see it is tempered by the Census work I am doing. I earn a little extra working on Sundays, and I know the work will not go on much longer. Tough call.
"The Beyond" will go on forever while Census 2020 will not. Go to work, make $$$ and live to see Fulci another day. 🤑😉
I came to that conclusion as well. If there is no work available that day, that is a different story.