Heads-up: SHOWTIME is having a free preview this weekend over many cable/satellite/TV providers. It works on my SLING account, but my AT&T TV doesn't have it. YMMV, check your local provider. A lot of Showtime's movie content is exclusive to them and doesn't stream anywhere else, so worth a look. Unfortunately the one SHO flick I wanted to see most, 2020's "First Cow," is not streaming this weekend. :-(Also, R.I.P. to two cinematographers that passed away last week. John Hora, who worked primarily with Joe Dante ("Gremlins," "Explorers," "Innerspace," etc.), and "Friday the 13th: Part III's" Gerald Fail. Without Fail's steady shots and framing compositions, the FTM crowd might have never fallen in love with Shelly the same way Patrick Bromley did all those decades ago. :-P
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)Directed by George C Wolfe, starring Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, and adapted from August Wilson's play. I thought this was fun to watch. When I took studio art in college my teachers hammered the point into me that you have to be able to justify the medium you're using - print/paint/photo/etc. I don't know how to justify this story being told as a movie rather than as a play. But blah, who cares, it's really good, just as One Night in Miami was a really nice movie. (By the way I love watching plays in theaters. I've seen many stage versions that are WAY better than the movie versions. So even though movies can do more things, I think the elements of a good play are so strong they can really help make a movie pop. What am I talking about? I don't know. Anyway.) This was my first time seeing Chadwick Boseman, and he was great. The ending was unfortunately predictable. For Valentine's Day I tried to watch what used to be my favorite romance, Far and Away (1992), but I am now too angry to enjoy it. Found myself yelling at the screen. YOU ARE SUCH A KAREN. Bratty, privileged, mis-informed ("Our blood isn't even the same color") Karen, who's bossy, entitled brattiness made a mess of everything. Also you DO NOT OWN LAND. It was here before you. It will be here after you die. You cannot just do whatever you want with no affect on everything else. Soooo....so much for that.Some historians on a podcast years ago were talking about the historical drama Meek's Cutoff (2010) and how actually Michelle William's character, and women in the same position at the time, went on to become the "Sarah Palins" of this country. They just said it matter-of-factly, not with particular animosity, it was just amusing to them at the time. It was amusing to me at the time, too. Now my lens has become quite...a more frustrated one, I can tell.
I haven't yet seen "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", as either a play or the film. However, my general view is that the prospect of capturing a different and/or wider audience is enough reason to release a film version of something which starts as a stage play or musical. Take "Hamilton", for example. The Disney+ film presentation is just a filming of the original Broadway presentation, edited together from three stage performances in 2016. However, the Disney+ version is the only version that most people who see "Hamilton" are ever going to see. Or, "Fences" from 2016. "Fences" looks like a conventional movie, but it's based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning August Wilson play from 1985. I saw the movie. But like most people, I was never going to be able to see the original stage production with James Earl Jones and Mary Alice, or the 2010 stage production with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.
Bill, What an excellent point!! (And not sure how it totally didn't cross my mind before). Thank you :)
When I sat down to watch Jacques Demy's THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURGH (1964, TCM) I didn't even know it was a musical, let alone a FRENCH musical without show-stopping dance numbers in which every line of spoken dialogue is sung instead. By the time the finale comes around to that snow-covered gas station and Michel Legrand's score is reaching for the stars (and crushing my soul) I wondered why most musicals, then and know, aren't more like this. The obvious answer is because the French didn't have to contend with an idiotic Hays Code that forbid the type of adult emotions and complex narratives (mostly involving idealized Hollywood notions of love crashing with harsh reality) that these filmmakers choose to sing about. Yes, Catherine Deneuve is way too old to be playing 17, but the camera loves her and the primary color-based production design is gorgeous to just look at. Pending an additional viewing to confirm, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" might have just cracked my Top 20 favorite movies of all time. :-OWilliam Wellman's silent classic YOU NEVER KNOW WOMEN (1926, Blu-Ray) would have been better titled "A Night at the Russian Opera." A melodramatic love triangle develops between theater heads Vera (Florence Vidor) and Norodin (Clive Brook) when opportunist aristocrat Foster (Lowell Sherman) wishes to marry the former. Half the movie's short 71 min. running time are either staged-for-the-camera real Russian performers or take place backstage. Forget about the life-and-death stakes of the movie's final 20 minutes, and enjoy the simple pleasure of a hat-and-bow-tie-wearing duck playing dead. :-PPeter Hyams' STAY TUNED (1992, Amazon Prime) has a very funny 10-min. Chuck Jones-directed cartoon segment amidst its cavalcade of gags involving sitcom veterans John Ritter ("Three's Company") and Pam Dawber ("Mork & Mindy") being stuck in a "hellish" satellite TV universe circa the early 90's. Blame Jeffrey "Spike" Jones, a villain so vanilla that even "Dexter's" Doakes (young Erik King) easily pushes him around. For every gag that works (Don Pardo as gameshow-from-hell announcer, "My Three Sons of Bitches," etc.) there are many that don't (anything involving Eugene Levy), including a "Wayne's World" parody that was comedy death incarnate before it was even filmed. Pass.2011's KILLER ELITE (Showtime) feels like Stallone's "The Expendables" taking itself seriously. Stealing the settings and alleged real-life events from Britain's involvement in the Oman Civil war circa late 70's/1980 from a novel ("The Feather Men"), the filmmakers don't let its complex-but-understandable plot of hired assassins turning against former SAS members to rescue an imprisoned comrade (Robert DeNiro's Hunter) from a vengeful sheik's hands stop them from having fun. Jason Statham flexes his comedic and romantic chops (hello Yvonne Strahovski!) as he kicks asses across two continents with Dominic Purcell, Ben Mendelsohn and a mustached Clive Owen tagging along. Even Robert DeNiro, clearly the America star used to secure financing, is given more to do than a token aging veteran assassin role. Went in knowing nothing about it, came out loving it on the other side. Highly recommended.
My first watch of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was on TCM back in 2000. I probably have seen it twice since then, and it only got better with subsequent viewings. There are few musicals that tackle serious subjects like CHERBOURG does. It is all the more striking because the Algerian War was a very sensitive topic (and still is) in France. No Hollywood musical would ever end in such a downbeat way, but it is an honest ending. The past becomes the past at some point. The train departure scene has always stayed with me, particularly because of that beautiful song.Maybe comedy does not suit Peter Hyams. His noir parody Peeper was one of my worst watches last year.
Good weekend to everyone.It was another week of life and movies. I got a couple of things off the DVR to make room for more. There is a day of Dirk Bogarde films coming up next week on Turner Classic Movies that will involve at least a couple of recordings. Keeping up with all that I have recorded from TCM has not left me much time recently for Prime or my physical collection. HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1969, dir. Mario Bava) – Listened to Tim Lucas' illuminating commentary on the Kino blu-ray. Though Bava made better movies in his career, HATCHET features a poetic visual style that has placed this among my favorites in his filmography. The killing of the model in the mannequin room and the ghostly appearances of a certain character are some of the best sequences Bava ever filmed. There is also a lot humor in the film, especially in the scenes between the main character and his wife. With its slow pacing and narrative flaws (there is no mystery to latch on to), this can be a difficult film to love, but it is one I will always champion. NO WAY OUT (1950, dir. Joseph Mankiewicz) – Such a surprising film that I had to watch it twice to take it in. When a white man dies in a hospital’s prison ward under the care of black doctor, tensions arise as the white man’s bigoted brother spreads the rumor that the doctor deliberately killed him. What follows is a personal vendetta against the doctor and tension between white and black communities in the city. As I said, there is so much going on in the film at once. The racial abuse is raw and frequent. On the other hand, the portrayal of the black characters is very nuanced for the time period and features many black actors who would go on to prominent careers. HIGH WALL (1947) – A film noir whose script does go off the rails for believability quite a lot. The general story is about a character trying to clear his name in a crime. The black-and-white cinematography and camerawork are superb, undoubtedly the best part of it. There is also a killing that is genuinely shocking because it completely comes out of the blue. As a film noir deep cut, this is one of the better ones I have seen.
I am getting back to increasing my physical media collection. (I have to figure out where all of it will be put.) Researching what is coming out, I am excited to see a set of Christopher Lee’s European horror films being released by Severin in May. The set will include Crypt of the Vampire, an Italian gothic horror entry that has become a standard watch for October. I have wanted a good copy of that for a while. The other films also interest me and there are plenty of extras. The Andy Milligan set also coming out through Severin has an appeal, but there are only a couple of films in it I have an interest in watching, especially The Ghastly Ones. I already own a couple of the Milligan releases from Vinegar Syndrome. An order just arrived with The Curse of Frankenstein and Scream Factory's second Paul Naschy collection. There are definitely some prime Junesploitation options on the Naschy set. Are there any upcoming or current releases that any of you have a desire to have? What are some favorite recent acquisitions?
Upcoming releases? Stay tuned for Tuesday's column...
I definitely will be.
Howdy Folks....thanks all for posting on this thread! Its great to see what folks are watching and what they think of said stuff. I feel like im going to get a LOT of great recommendations from this open-thread concept!Not much new on my end but i did revisit Invasion USA which is on prime this week and i gotta say it holds up. Very little filler. Very 80s violent action thriller. Chuck is kind of a strong but silent type that, apparently, is the only person alive who can stand up to a bunch of terrorists. There's some great bad guys and, surprisingly upon rewatch, some solid foundation to their overarching plan (by creating fear and distrust by posing as police and army). Definitely a great late night popcorn actioner. I feel it would pair very well with the original Red Dawn.
It's feast or famine when it comes to Chuck's Invasion USA streaming. Right now it's everywhere, but before (and eventually) it can only be rented. Enjoy it while it lasts... "it's time." 😝😶
Finally caught Bottle Rocket! It's kinda fun to watch 95% of a director's work before their feature debut, picking out clips where you can almost feel the seeds of their vision beginning to emerge.That being said, I also got through most of universal soldier day of reckoning and had a blast. It's like the freakish, slightly more serious crank sequel all eleven of us are waiting for. The more important part of this post: Adkins recommendations. I need them, now! I'm pretty sure this was my first and I know how much Patrick loves him. There's a dragon here needing to be chased and direct to streaming action is a minefield.
I would start with Avengement. It's on Netflix and it's one of Adkins' best.
Adkins + anything with "Ninja" in the title = WIN! That plus "Expendables 2" (as JCVD'S 2nd in command). 😎👍
I dug Adkins in 'Accident Man' which was filled with fun quirky characters (including Michael Jai White who rocks). Ive had Avengement on deck for a while so ill take Patricks suggestions shortly. Also its been a minute since i watched the Ninja flicks, another great suggestion from JM. OOOOO! One more suggestion. Its an older non-Adkins flick but you gotta check it out. "Drive" with Mark Dacascos (he's the main baddie in Wick 3). Its on prime. Its sooooooooooooooo good. Was totally off my radar until folks recently started getting excited about an upcoming bluray release. As a huge fan of martial arts actioners, i give it high praise and guarantee you'll dig it.
Thanks, all, will give these a look!
Hey all, hope everyone had a good weekend!I just finished Aneesh Chaganty's Run, which was a really gripping thriller. A big thank you to Rosalie to including this in her favorites of 2020, definitely wouldn't have been on my radar otherwise!And thank you to Patrick for championing Psycho Goreman on Twitter, that bonkers movie was such a demented delight!I also watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture three times inside a couple of weeks, first the theatrical, then the Director's Cut, and then the theatrical again with Blank Check Podcast's commentary. While I acknowledge its myriad faults, I also just unreservedly love that movie. Definitely one of the movies I'd most want to see on a big screen some day.
"Run" rules, indeed. Thanks again, Rosalie! 🥲The original "Trek" is my personal favorite film too. l can enjoy the group collective that 2, 4 and 6 are the better and more entertaining entries with the original cast, but "ST:TMP" (along with 5) feels more like what l remember classic Star Trek storytelling (a little too far out and nutty for its own good). Sounds like a fan commentary worth listening to. 🤓
So glad you enjoyed Run! I still need to catch up with Psycho Goreman but it is high on my watchlist!
Finally caught up with The Little Things, trying to watch it before it leaves HBO... Pretty mediocre at best. Leto and Malek trying to out cartoon character one another while Denzel does his best Denzel impression. It's a shame as I was craving a solid 90s ish procedural/thriller. Any recommendations for the best of the genre? I know and love Seven of course. Need to chase this with anything better.