Good weekend to everyone. If there was any kind of theme to this week’s watches, it is female duos. There was also some more DVR clearing going on. THE LURE (2015, dir. Agnieszka Smocyznska) – This is not your average Polish musical about murderous mermaids performing at a 1980s dinner and dancing club. I was very entertained by it. With the heavy kitsch elements, the bond of the mermaid sisters brings a necessary emotional side to balance the narrative. DAISIES (1966, dir. Vera Chytilova) – Avant-garde whimsy that made me laugh as much as it befuddles. It centers around two sisters who goof around and eat a lot. I would say they are obsessed by food, actually. The con they pull on older men for a free meal gets funnier as it is repeated. I have never seen characters eat as much on screen on these sisters do. The Czech New Wave created many films like this that subvert expectations about cinema under communism. TIMES SQUARE (1980) – What a time-capsule of a movie. The shot of the movie theater marquees at the conclusion is fantastic, a by-gone world of the cinema experience. As for the film, it is more about the heart of two teenage girls surviving around Times Square than a narrative. One is a rich girl smothered by her father and the other is a street-wise girl who has had no breaks in life. Although the story arc has an inevitable outcome, the lead actresses have a chemistry that renders the journey enjoyable. Watching this as an adult, I can fully feel the risks such a life experience posed at that time. Youth, though, has a way of blinding a person to risk, sometimes makes things happen that way. The soundtrack is excellent. THE LONG GOODBYE (1973, dir. Robert Altman) – A re-watch with a DVD I picked up from a Dollar General store. (I have found a few good titles at Dollar General this year.) With this viewing, I was struck by the precarious balance of Altman’s narrative style, the tension between keeping the story moving and allowing the actors to create a spontaneous energy. I was also more aware of the film being a dialogue with Hollywood’s past. The ending was more problematic for me this watch, undoubtedly the biggest divergence from the established Marlowe persona. Elliot Gould certainly puts his own twist on Phillip Marlowe. NEPTUNE’S DAUGHTER (1949) – Even by the standards of MGM musicals, the plot to Neptune’s Daughter is ridiculous. Polo, mistaken identities, bathing suits, and dancing in night clubs all play a part in the story. The wonderful Technicolor gaudiness and Esther Williams are the reasons to watch it. A very young Ricardo Montalban plays the “Latin Lover” wooing Miss Williams. I found it amusing that he comes from the country of “South America”. Incidentally, this film features the first recording of the song ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ ever made. THE VENETIAN AFFAIR (1967) – A slick 1960s thriller that I found engrossing. A bombing at an international peace conference in Venice leads to a twisty investigation full of political intrigue. The film should have been better considering the cast and the locations, but so many films fail to have a satisfactory conclusion. It does have the feel of the spy shows of that era with a bit of James Bond injected into the proceedings.
When you're in the mood nothing beats a Czech New Wave absurdist comedy (or a Milos Forman American production). Personally I tend to gravitate more toward Serbian/Croatian movies from this era (particularly the absurdist works of Dušan Makavejev), but anything by Pavel Juráček or Jan Němec is fine by me. :-)
I love Dusan Makavejev's films. Innocence Unprotected and Sweet Movie are the ones that stand out for me.
R.I.P. Thomas "Tiny" Lister :'( . Damn you, COVID-19! 2020 cannot end soon enough.
Finally got some time to watch and comment on a few flicks I've seen recently.Lizzie Borden's BORN IN FLAMES (1983, TCM Underground) is an interesting political curio from the early 80's. A no-budget NYC-set fictitious dramatic documentary set 10 years after a "War of Liberation" supposedly empowered women, it wears its feminist/socialist POV proudly as its female characters engage in political dissent against a society that patronizes them. More eye-opening than Eric Bogosian and Kathyrin Bigelow in small roles? I'd say stealing "Used Cars'" presidential address gag, not to mention the... WTC bombing scene? Holy fracking shit! :-O YMMV.K̶u̶r̶t̶ ̶R̶u̶s̶s̶e̶l̶l̶'̶s̶ George P. Cosmato's TOMBSTONE (1993, Amazon Prime) is got damn amazing despite a sagging middle act that really tests one's patience (especially in a group viewing on Facebook's Jury Room). A collection of mustachioed badasses (Boothe, Lang, Paxton, Elliott, Biehn, Church, Rooker... but not Jon Tenney?!) are at the service of what I expected to be an audience pleasing, quotable and manly western. But besides being that and more (Billy Bob Thornton getting bitch-slapped? Too cool!), it's also an engaging bromance for the ages between Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday. This is peak Kilmer stealing every scene/line of dialogue given to him (Ringo gets to be Doc's Huckleberry? Lucky bastard!), and Russell is just magnetic. It's about 20 minutes too long and fails the Bechdel Test (sorry Dana Delany), but damn if "̶T̶e̶s̶t̶o̶s̶t̶e̶r̶o̶n̶e̶:̶ ̶T̶h̶e̶ ̶M̶o̶v̶i̶e̶"̶ "Tombstone" doesn't showcase grown men having the most fun time being movie cowboys (good or bad) I've ever seen. A fresh viewing of GALAXY QUEST (1999, HBO Max) is almost mandatory before or after watching NEVER SURRENDER: A GALAXY QUEST DOCUMENTARY (2019, Amazon Prime), which is as essential to the movie it profiles as "The Shark Is Still Working" is to "Jaws." It leans a little too much on the scary Utah cosplayers (eeuu), but it's mostly the cast and filmmakers sharing anecdotes and war stories. "Galaxy Quest" itself remains that rare instance of studio interference (downgrade to 'PG' from edgier material, Harold Ramis quitting rather than direct Tim Allen, etc.) improving the final product, one whose weighty dramatic scenes (showing Allen and Rickman on equal footing) sneak on you amidst the laughing-with-the-geeks fan service humor. Again, plan to watch both to get maximum enjoyment.THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS PALS (1966, TCM Underground) feels like a 70's-made exploitation flick that time-traveled back to '66 to maximize the few instances it succeeds at being repulsively watchable. One moment it's a Mike Hammer-esqye private eye detective story, then it switches to "Blood Diner" 21 years before "Blood Diner" was made. The last 10 minutes become a wacky homage to silent comedy, yet another in an endless switch of tones that alternate gore with humor. It's the type of movie that has the same actress playing twins (Thursday and Friday) so they don't have to hire another performer. For exploitation enthusiasts with a high tolerance for conflicting tones canceling each other at all times... an in "not me."
I watched Tombstone as well. Everything, you said about it is right on. Val Kilmer is so good that I'm just waiting for him to show up. It's the same "problem" I have with the Dark Knight. Health Ledger is so good that I just want to fast forward to his scenes in the movie like Kilmer in Tombstone.
I have watched a lot of the recent TCM Underground programming. The showing of The Undertaker and His Pals was a second watch for me. I like the goofiness of the film, and the fact that it is so short makes it palatable. Another ten minutes would have been a little too much to take. For a project that was made on a shoestring budget with multiple collaborators, Born in Flames succeeds more than it probably should. It is a smart film made with a lot of sincerity and daring. Lizzie Borden was interviewed during the Women Make Film programming.
I watched Lolo (2015) last night, and I just wish it had committed to one or the other for its two tones. I was loving the French farce, and I so want Julie Delpy to direct a movie full of that, but this also has a weird obsession part involving her adult son in the movie and that never quite works.
TRON LEGACY (2010) Weird watching this so soon after watching the original. They don’t feel all that much like the same world. Still, when taken on its own, Legacy is a perfectly decent sci-fi actioner. JINGLE JANGLE (2020) Not sure about this one. The songs are terrific, as are the costumes and set designs. But the story bored me. It was trying so hard to me magical and whimsical that it ended up not being magical and whimsical. RARE EXPORTS (2010) A real oddity. It’s marketed as an “evil Santa Claus” movie, but then it becomes something else entirely. I don’t know if it worked for me, but I appreciated that the filmmakers maintained a consistent level of weirdness throughout. TOMBSTONE (1993) “And hell’s comin’ with me!!!” LOST IN SPACE (1998) Yes, this is not a good movie. But… all the talent and all the money was there. Just imagine how great it would have been if it became the blockbuster sensation everyone hoped it would be. I guess it’s obvious to say the script was the problem. And maybe the cartoon monkey.
Want to watch "Tron Legacy" real bad, but only in 3D. And the 3D Blu-ray is always expensive and never on sale. 🤕😡👽
I would have liked to have seen Tron:Legacy in 3D, but never did. I'm not a big fan of 3D usually, but it seems like the type of movie that could benefit from it. Also, the Tron:Legacy score is one that gets listened to fairly frequently.
Rewatched First Man (2018) and this has become one of my favourites from the past several years. It's just gorgeous and I find the the movie continually engaging despite the quietness of it's main character. Corey Stoll's portrayal of Buzz Aldrin goes a long way to balance the tone.Also watched Attack! (1956, dir. Robert Aldrich) which was pretty entertaining. It's played more like a stage play, than a war movie, with some of the action scenes lacking a kinetic energy to them. Lee Marvin was very good in this, but not in it as much as I would have liked. I believe the movie suffered because it didn't get funding from the military (which would have been the norm for war films in this era...era) due to someone shooting their superior officer in the film. Which was kind of the whole point; a bungling superior officer keeps gets his troops killed through his drunkenness and incompetence, and they eventually turn on him. Still, worth a watch for fans of the genre.
I love "Attack!" It has a shoestring budget for a 50's World War II B&W flick, but director Robert Aldrich knows this so he smartly focuses on his stellar cast of character actors to carry the narrative. You can see Aldrich and Marvin were building up to their "Dirty Dozen" team-up a few years later. Eddie Albert is so good as a sniveling by-the-book military armchair leader you genuinely want to see Jack Palace squeeze the life out of Capt. Cooney. Great little war drama packed with stars in even supporting roles (Buddy Ebsen, etc.). :-)
Has anyone got the LotR 4k set yet? My copies have been on back order and it's driving me crazy!