Saturday, November 21, 2020

Weekend Open Thread


  1. I want people to lay siege to my home so I can blast bagpipe music and slap a mantras on a motherfucker's head.

  2. Starting out Thanksgiving week with some fun comedies! Weird Science and Revenge of the Nerds 2.

    I want to wish everyone on this site a Happy Thanksgiving, let's all make the best of it. 🎥❤️

  3. Good weekend to everyone. For those of you in the U.S., I hope Thanksgiving is a pleasant and safe day. Being the most labor-intensive holiday of the year for me, I am always glad when the food is ready and I can start to relax.

    It was a week of watching movies instead of doing other tasks that I ought to do. I felt a need for a little more amusement than usual.

    THE TELEPHONE BOOK (1971) – A re-watch of a film I saw for Junesploitation 2019. A young woman named Alice receives the best obscene phone call she has ever heard and instantly falls in love. She only has to find this caller named John Smith… in New York City. As he says, he can be found in the telephone book. Avant-garde, surreal, and frequently crossing over into sexploitation territory, The Telephone Book confounds any expectations. As strange as it is, The Telephone Book is a delightful watch.

    VOYAGE OF THE ROCK ALIENS (1984) – I found VOYAGE… on Amazon Prime this week. If you want a dose of 1980s cheese, you can find it here. New Wave aliens arrive on Earth to investigate human civilization. Civilization seems to only involve high school kids- played by 30-year-olds- and rockabilly revival music (The Stray Cats style). Any semblance of plot vanishes by the final third. I was amused by it, but I would probably not watch it again anytime soon.

    GAS, FOOD, LODGING (1991, dir. Allison Anders) – TCM’s Women Make Film programming this fall has featured several small-budget independent films. I have not found any of them very engaging until this watch. Though coming of age movies are not something I usually like (guess I am just too old to identify with them now), Fairuza Balk’s performance as the younger daughter of a single mother drew me into the film. The tense relationship between the other sister and the mother is one I have witnessed in my own life.

    BODY AND SOUL (1947) – A tale of a boxer drawn into the corrupt world of the boxing racket of the era. There were gangsters pulling the strings of the boxing world up through the 1950s, fixing matches when it suited them. John Garfield plays the boxer, hungry for money and a way out of the New York ghetto he grew up in. Though there is a happy ending, the boxer does succumb to the cynicism that surrounds him.

    KILL, BABY… KILL (1966, dir. Mario Bava) – A gothic masterpiece. Though Black Sabbath is my favorite among Bava’s films, I cannot deny the beauty of the imagery and atmosphere of KILL. Slow it is but that does not bother me. The Italian dub works so much better for me than the English one. The Kino Lorber blu-ray looks terrific, and I really enjoyed the interview with Erika Blanc. (I wish it was longer.)

    BERSERK (1967) – The perils of being an ageing actor… you sometimes work on something like this. This is by no means a terrible film, yet the level of ridiculousness in it is high. Joan Crawford is the owner of a circus in the UK that is experiencing unfortunate deaths and outright murder. Is the killer in the troupe? Despite Berserk’s ludicrousness, there is genuine tension at the finale. Some of the circus acts are amusing, particularly the poodles.

    MARLOWE (1969) – James Garner portrays Phillip Marlowe in a very 1960s adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Garner is channeling the relaxed charm that would make Jim Rockford a memorable character a few years later. The female leads are attractive in a 1960s way, especially Rita Moreno. The nudity certainly shows that the 1970s are on the way. Bruce Lee even has small role as heavy, memorably smashing up Marlowe’s office.

  4. MARATHON MAN (1976) Checking another one off my movie-classics-I-still-haven’t-seen list. I enjoyed the movie, but boy does it take its time before moving the plot forward. All the thrills are in the second half, with the first half just the characters going about their lives. I imagine an inevitable remake will want to cut to the chase (heh) but that might be losing something.

    BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020) This one’s kind of an oddity. We expect Bill and Ted to be funny, but there’s not a lot of jokes to be found. The movie seems more interested in being a feel-good celebration than in being a comedy. But I must admit I found the positive vibes working on me by the end.

    NEW MUTANTS (2020) I get where they’re coming from. The filmmakers looked at the character of Dani Moonstar, said “It would be terrifying if somebody actually had this superpower,” and they went from there. That was the cool stuff. But then they introduce the idea that the kids are prisoners in this ambiguously-defined evil school/hospital, and that’s where the movie lost me. But, hey, if Disney is up for a sequel, I’ll be there.

    TRON (1982) Bring forth the logic probe!

    KING KONG (1933) This week’s FTM pod had me thinking all things Kong, so I went back to the original. The movie is of course an all-timer, and the best scenes are as good as any movie gets. But… there’s also the problematic stuff. I wonder if it’s possible to give King Kong the Lovecraft Country treatment. Imagine a version of the story where the natives are the protagonists and depicted as their own three-dimensional characters. I don’t have the wherewithal to write such a thing, but the writer in me nonetheless wonders “what if…”

    1. The one-dimensional natives are stock characters in a lot of the adventure stories of the early 20th century. Just watch a Tarzan film from the 1930s. Storytelling preserves the prejudices and biases of an era. Maybe certain types of stories can only come out of certain biases.