The Mangler (1995) - I love Ted Levine's "no time for anyone's bullshit" performance.
Somehow I've gone my entire life without seeing Brian De Palma's RAISING CAIN (1992, Netflix). Talk about a great bad movie that features every De Palma obsession and trope dialed up to 11. John Lithgow is simultaneously mesmerizing and hammy as fuck, especially a final shot that I'm surprised doesn't live in meme infamy. Great early 90's supporting cast (Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer, Frances Sternhagen talking/dumping expo like an Aaron Sorkin-trained pro, etc.) gives it their all to paper-thin characters and a story that only exist to set-up Hitchcockian moments of cinematic excess. For De Palma fans only (cough... Patrick...), but a crazy-enough flick to warrant viewing.Speaking of Patrick Bromley, he's name-dropped by Heath Holland in his YouTube commentary track for John McTiernan's DIE HARD (1988, 4K UHD Blu-ray). Heath and filmmaker Eric Wilkinson make the most convincing argument I've heard about why "Die Hard" is NOT a Christmas movie. Me? Just glad I got another excuse to rewatch the flick in December, and to pretend (like Heath and Eric do in the commentary) that Hans Gruber and his gang are the heroes that "villain" John McClain crashes down upon.I haven't seen PHANTOMS (1998, Cinemax) since I caught it at a NYC discount theater 22 years ago. Guess I'm good for another 22, because nothing in this Dean Koontz cinematic adaptation stands on its own. Everything is either ripped from better source material (Carpenter's "The Thing") or inspired better media (Konami's "Silent Hill" videogames). Shame, because I'd love it if the "Dazed and Confused" (Ben Affleck/Nicky Katt) and "Scream" cinematic universes (Liev Schreiber/Rose McGowan) collided with the "Peter O'Toole is slumming for drinking money" period of his career. Avoid.There was one movie (out of 12) missing from my Cinematic Titanic DVD collection, but no more. RATTLERS (1976, Shout TV) starts as your typical late 70's no-budget "Jaws" wannabe "animals attack" ripoff, this one involving desert snakes suddenly attacking and killing people (including kids!). Women's liberation politics and an out-of-nowhere military conspiracy (because Watergate) get in the way of the B-roll footage of snakes coiling awkwardly spliced with non-actors pretending to die... rinse, lather, repeat. Typical bad 70's everything, which offers unending fodder for Joel and the CT gang to make lemonade from this lemon of a flick.Rewatched Joe Johnston's THE ROCKETEER (1991, Blu-ray) and the Joss Whedon-led JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017, 4K UHD Blu-ray) with Geekvolution commentary tracks. The latter is good for laughs but a great showcase for 4K transfers, particularly the textures in Supes' suddenly colorful suit. "The Rocketeer" (30th anniversary next year... feeling old already? :'( ) just keeps getting better with age, provided you're patient and don't expect gags/one-liners/action set-pieces every 10-15 minutes. Used to think the first "Captain America" was better than "Rocketeer" in evoking a cinematic World War II era. What the hell was I thinking?
I've unfortunately never seen The Rocketeer. I don't remember it even coming out or being talked about as a teen in 1991. But I've heard it praised enough times over the years that I should have watched it by now.
But Affleck was the BOMB in Phantoms, yo!
Good weekend to everyone.It is hard to believe that less than two weeks is left in 2020. A quick count of the films in my viewing lists from this year shows around 250 individual films watched. I added more to the list during the past week.POSTMAN’S KNOCK (1962) – An innocuous British comedy about an impossibly naïve postman who comes to London to work. British comedy legend Spike Milligan (The Goon Show) portrays the postman who unwittingly foils robberies and performs impressive feats at work. The main draw for me was Barbara Shelley, whose work outside of Hammer Studios I am not familiar with. Overall,it is forgettable.PARACHUTE JUMPER (1933) – I am glad I gave this film a chance because it is an entertaining Depression-era film. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. stars as a former military pilot trying to find work in New York City. He and his friend from the military, among other things, end up getting involved in smuggling illicit goods out of Canada. Bette Davis plays the love interest. Breezes by at 72 minutes. NIGHT NURSE (1931, dir. William Wellman) – Barbara Stanwyck plays a nurse who stumbles upon a very serious case of child neglect. Though not as lurid as other pre-code films, Night Nurse has enough salacious content to mark it as a product of its era. It is more serious than I remember it being. I am always amused to see how much drinking is shown in Hollywood movies during Prohibition.PEARLS OF THE DEEP (1965) – An anthology of short films from Czech New Wave directors that is very uneven. I struggled with some the segments, not connecting with either the stories or the style. The features directed by a couple of the directors (Menzel and Chytilova) work better than what I saw here. SCHIZOID (1980) – When you encounter a title like that and see the Cannon logo come up on the screen, you cannot expect quality. Although the film is completely ridiculous, certain subplots manage to be intriguing. With the combination of murder mystery and set-piece killings, it reminds me more of a giallo than a slasher film. Most of the film is completely ridiculous, yet certain subplots manage to be intriguing. Klaus Kinski creates a strange father/daughter dynamic. Maybe not so-bad-it’s-good but not completely terrible. On Prime.1,000 CONVICTS AND A WOMAN (1971) – Something I stumbled on while searching through Prime. The exploitation fiend in me immediately was drawn to the title, and I am open to any film made in that early 1970s time frame. 1,000 CONVICTS is among the weirder films I have watched recently, mixing sexploitation, prison film, and family drama. The tonal shifts are more than a little jolting. The plot is totally random, serving the exploitative aspects more than any story. It did make me laugh, though.
Stone Cold (1991) - I needed something mindless and man, what an underrated 80's film. Too bad it came out in 1991. lol. "You know, it's in moments like this that I think of my father's last words. Which were: Don't son, that gun is loaded!" Love me some Henrickson. Maybe I'll go down a Henrickson hole. wait.
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001) I love that this crazy movie exists. It’s all Matrix-style kung fu and a CGI monster, but it’s filmed with this lush romanticism that makes it stand out. I find myself wanting to live in this world, if not for all the murder and conspiracy. TENET (2020) It’s been something of a joke this year that Warner Bros. thought this up-its-own-butt Nolan movie would be the one to save all of cinema. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I kind of get it. The whole thing really huge and ambitious, which I appreciated. But it’s also dry and humorless in that Nolan way, so I don’t know if this will be an all-timer despite the “wow” factor.PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (2004) “Hand at the level of your eyes!” RAISING CAIN (1992) What a baffling movie. Brian DePalma is going full rock-and-roll-Hitchcock, while John Lithgow inhales scenery playing multiple characters. The twisty-turny plot with a bunch of soap opera subplots makes the movie a little overstuffed and hard to follow. This is why screenwriters always strive for a scaled-down thriller, one hyper-focused on the main plot. Raising Cain is goofy fun, but it needed that focus.
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I also watched Tenet, and really loved it. It's probably the most Nolany Nolan movie that Nolan has ever made. Big, loud and ambitious. Bounces back and forth between giant action setpieces and scenes of good looking well-dressed people walking and talking. I watched it at home, with subtitles (I watched all movies at home with subtitles), and didn't really have a problem following what was going on. The next day I took my kids to the 2nd run mall theatre so they could see it (Covid cases are very low here and there was only 2 other people there. This is was our first time returning to the movies), and my goodness was it hard to understand what people were saying. When we were leaving my youngest son said "I really like it, but I have no idea what was happening. Why were all those people running backwards?". Hahaha.I agree that what humour was in it comes from Washington. Pattinson was pretty great too but I think my favourite character was Branagh playing Sator. He was just chewing up the scenery.
Count me in on the Tenet train as well, watched the 4K blu ray last night with the sound cranked and thought it ruled! I had trouble with a little of the dialogue but didn't care because the sonic experience overall was outrageously awesome. I won't argue too much about the humor or lack thereof, but I agree w/ Paul, Branagh brought some levity while hamming things up, and I couldn't help but chuckle a few times as some of the very clever reveals kept topping themselves. I've never considered myself a Nolan guy, but I'm realizing I am as his last 3 movies have been my favorite of the year they were released.
Yes or no, is "Tenet" worth a $30 4K UHD blind buy?
@J.M. Vargas, depend on you track record with Nolan. If you like his movies, yes it's worth it. If not, you might want to rent it for 5$ first
$30 seems steep, but I've watched it three times already. So Yes!
Some other movies I watched:Funny People (2009) Rewatched because someone on Blank Cheque had called it a masterpiece. It's too long and changes gears completely at the midway point just leaving the whole thing feeling incohesive. It's fun seeing Bana speak with his natural accent.Tombstone (1993) So many people watched this last week (or the week before) so I revisited it as well. Such a fun movie, and one of Kilmer's best. I kind of wished I had watched with the kids instead, as the lively pacing would make for a good introduction to Westerns.A Midnight Clear (1992) I hadn't even heard of this war drama, despite the stellar cast. Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise (in his first movie role), Peter Berg (yes, the Berg you're thinking of), John C. McGinley. This is actually a Christmas movie, and is beautifully set in 1944 France in winter. The tone is sombre throughout, both visually and with the beautiful haunting score. Under the overwhelming despair and fear of death which is everywhere and in everyone, they find moments of humanity. If only in realizing the enemy is as scared as they are. I would really recommend this lesser known movie for any lovers of war dramas.
We haven't really watched anything Christmas themed yet this year, except for the excellent A Muppets Family Christmas. It's not really a movie, because it's just 47 minutes long, but it's really my favourite Christmas movie, and the only one I'm sure to watch every year.I'm sure we'll watch a few other Christmas things over the next couple of weeks. Happy holidays to everyone!
A Muppets Family Christmas is on YouTube, if anyone was curious.
Going through some of Scott Glenn's filmography - basically in search of him recreating his Urban Cowboy levels of hotness (which, I have sadly come to believe, was probably mostly the result of incredible hair, makeup, costume & lighting teams on that film actually) - I stumbled upon a couple movies I actually enjoyed.THE RIGHT STUFF (1983)This is a crazy movie to watch when you go in not knowing what it's going to be about or anything about NASA. At first I was like what the hell am I watching? What the hell kind of town/operation is this? Is it legal? I'd never thought about this aspect of NASA or the military before. It was sad. At this point, in 2020, I think it's natural to look back at these events in our history and wonder if we weren't already on the wrong track somehow. We sent a man into space and developed on the outside. But my God we also suck at humanity and the values displayed by the military and our leaders even then were questionable. My heart was torn for those military families. Scott Glenn just played a goofball. I wanted sexy and romantic but all his role choices would indicate he wasn't interested in doing that at all.PERSONAL BEST (1982)About two women lovers who compete (partly against each other) for a spot on the US olympic track and field team. Somehow this movie was good. And it's not because I like sports or seeing a lot of women naked. I think it's just because Mariel Hemingway was super good. I only knew her before from pathetic Woody Allen's movie, Manhattan. Which I probably couldn't watch again bc the desire to strangle Woody Allen and make his annoying voice shut up would be too great. OH, celebrity stuff... probably everyone heard about the Tom Cruise thing this week. I can't judge that situation as right or wrong....but man that was a super badass thing to do.
I think that might have been Cruise's best performance ever! I have never seen The Right Stuff, but actually considered watching it last week. I'll get to it soon.
The recent passing of Chuck Yeager (a prominent character in the narrative) has brought "The Right Stuff" back into the spotlight. I prefer my Philip Kauffman movies weird and artsy ("Henry and June," "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," etc.) than mainstream, but you can't go wrong with "TRS" as both a heroic and cynical look at the good/bad side of American space myth making. 🚀🧑🚀☄
Ah, that's why. I was familiar with the name, but didn't even know it was "space" movie. Then suddenly I've heard it being mentioned a bunch in the past couple weeks.
Yup JM, it threaded those needles perfectly. I'll never forget its message.Paul, as a fellow Muppet lover, I think you'll dig it. The more I think about it, the more I think Tom Cruise IRL is probably the same as Tom Cruise in the movies!
By the way, I watched Hud again last night and the dad had this great quote totally relevant to our times, our history and the moral questions raised in TRS: "Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire." - Homer Bannon