Still recovering from that epic 1988 FTM Film Fest. :-) But life goes on, and movie theaters finally re-opened in New York City one weekend ago. Already seen four movies.Doug Liman's CHAOS WALKING (2021, IMAX) lucked out that a premise/execution ripe for ridicule (a dystopian world in which all men's thoughts/dreams can be seen/heard) merely ends up as a slightly sillier, goofier version of Kevin Costner's "The Postman." Ouch! :-P Tom Holland is better at the girl-crazy, young-man-problems youngster than when the screenplay calls for him to be a badass that wrestles CG swamp creatures and protects the only woman ("The Last Jedi's" Daisy Ridley) left on the planet. Mads Mikkelsen never phones in a movie role, but this is the closest I've seen him show up for a paycheck. Nick Jonas pouts, and David Oyelowo has choice moments as a preacher whose visions of hellfire and brimstone are scary. "Chaos Walking" is disposable Hollywood sci-fi that doesn't even take advantage of its IMAX format for some memorable images.Disney's RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021, IMAX) has a neat fantasy premise (frozen-in-stone, Earth-protecting dragons need to be awakened from centuries-long slumber so they can bring mankind's divided factions back together as one) that is executed with a slapdash of animations formulas that often clash with one another. One moment Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) acts/behaves like Moana, the next she's playing second fiddle to a small army of sidekick humans and animals that feel dropped from a Blue Sky Studio (R.I.P.) flick. There's a ton of fake throwaway dramatic tension moments, not to mention dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) alternating between well-meaning and annoying. Lots of cool action/chaotic comedy scenes, but unfortunately they come at the expense of the message of inclusion and family drama the filmmakers were trying to balance. Pandemic or not, Southeast representation or not, "Raya and the Last Dragon" is no "Mulan 2020." Lee Isaac Chung's MINARI (2021, Angelika Film Center) is the best movie I've seen brought down by an acute case of the convenient scriptwriting coincidence. At just the right moment for dramatic effect, a character suffers a stroke. When the plot needed it most, a convenient fire happens. Remove these sticks-out-like-a-flag moments, and "Minari" is an excellent depiction of a time and place featuring a culture (Korean immigrants in the American South) rarely portrayed in popular entertainment. Despite starring in and producing it (along with Brad Pitt), "The Walking Dead's" Steven Yeun lets his co-stars get the lion's share of attention and best screen moments. Will Patton's Paul almost steals the movie as a Southern farm worker with an affinity for exorcising dress drawers. XD. Worth seeing for the small moments of human intimacy and shared family sacrifice anybody will relate to.Last and certainly NOT least, last night went to an IMAX screening of Christopher Nolan's TENET (2020). Already seen it as a 4K VUDU rental, but everybody should see this at least once on the biggest, best-sounding movie theater available. I'm afraid to say I've uncovered a plot hole (why is Barbara not wearing an oxygen mask during her last meeting with Sator?) because I don't believe I'm smarter than the movie, filmmaker and villain (Kenneth Branagh's Sator, G.O.A.T. movie bad guy?) behind it. My first time viewing "Tenet" I was convinced Nolan used Sator's wife as a tool to get non-cinephiles and female viewers to invest on the story. This IMAX viewing convinced me that Barbara is indispensable to exploit Sator's only vulnerability, which in turn enhances John David Washington's Protagonist as a thinking man's badass. I've never enjoyed "Tenet" more than I did last night at the IMAX, and not just because it was my first late night at the movies since one year ago. :'(
Ran out of space above, so one last review. I can confidently say that Alan Johnson's SOLARBABIES (1986, Amazon Prime) is the most incomprehensible, tonally-deaf and joyless 80's movie I've ever seen. Roller skating teenage orphans in a military-controlled future in which Earth has no rain come upon a blue ball of energy (whose name is the same as Patrick Swayze's character in 1991's "Point Break") that can create water... and a bunch of other magical stuff. Feeling like MGM gave a bunch of money (tons of extras) to "Mad Max" ripoff-trained Italian filmmakers while saddling them with Brat Pack's 'B' tier young talent (Jami Gertz, Adrian Pasdar, Peter DeLuise, Jason Patric, young Lukas Haas, etc.), "Solarbabies" wastes no time making no sense from one scene to the next. One moment we're in "Rad" stunt territory, next it's a "Starship Troopers" military-type flick (complete with Charles Durning and Sarah Douglas). It has "Rollerball" DNA (the McTiernan one), but then it mutates into "Slipstream"-type levels of nonsensical fancy. I'm usually saddened when a director is stripped from the car keys after driving one straight into the ditch, but in this case we're all better because Johnson never directed another feature. "Solarbabies" sucks, the end. :-(
Sounds like you had a good movie going experience overall. Stay safe out there and have fun!
You got it, chief. :-D
Good weekend to everyone. There was not much time to watch movies besides FThisMovie Fest, but I did squeeze some watches in the past two weeks.MYSTERIOS DE ULTRATUMBA/ THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M (1959) - I looked for this Mexican horror film last October but could not find it anywhere. Besides the commercials I was forced to endure on Youtube and the lack of English subtitles, this was a pleasure to watch. The visuals are wonderfully expressionistic, undoubtedly the best aspect of the film. The muddled plot involves a doctor at a mental asylum who is obsessed with discovering whether there is life after death. MYSTERIOS should be a satisfying watch for fans of gothic cinema. LET MY PUPPETS COME (1976, dir. Gerard Damiano) I do not think many adult-themed musical puppet films have been made. When the gangster backing a company demands his investment back, the company makes a porno for some quick cash. Silly comedy and musical numbers abound. Truly an oddity that could only have come out of 1970s New York, this might appeal to those with a taste for bizarre cinema.I watched a couple of films featuring the British actor Dirk Bogarde, who has featured in my list of favorite actors for a couple of decades now. 1955’s CAST A DARK SHADOW is a delightfully sly melodrama about a man, played by Bogarde, who is drawn to older women with money. Their money is the main attraction. The cast seemed to have a lot of fun in their roles. Recommended. The other watch, OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE, is one that I last saw in the late 1990s. Though I was not as impressed with it this time around, there is much to admire in the acting and the atmosphere. The ensemble of child actors work really well together. This is another of Bogarde’s portrayals of manipulating scoundrels. There is a certain starkness to the film, particularly during the scenes of the children on their own, that lingers in the mind.
"Let My Puppets Come" sounds like something that Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema would show at midnight for their 'artsy' midnight adult film showcases, back in the dark ages of early 2020 and years prior. :'( I'll keep an eye out for it, where did you see it Casual?
Let My Puppets Come is the only Vinegar Syndrome title I've ever sold back. We watched it as a curiosity and then I felt weird about having it in the house, especially if the kids were to find it. Happy to have seen it once.
Let My Puppets Come is part of my Vinegar Syndrome collection. I can understand why you would not want your kids to find it, Patrick. Whatever one thinks about the content, there is a lot of creativity on display.
I mentioned in an online chat I'm part of that I'd been watching a bunch of good Charles Bronson movies, which prompted a dismissive response from someone suggesting that there's no such thing. Now as someone who grew up as a kid in the '80s seeing UHF stations playing his Death Wish sequels and similar stuff, I was fairly dismissive of him at the time. These days though, having seen a lot of his movies, and knowing about his upbringing... I've got nothing but respect for the man and his work.Also watched Pump Up the Volume. For the first 15 minutes or so I was a little concerned that maybe I was too far removed from being a teenager to be able to really enjoy the movie like I remembered. Also compared to today's culture, stuff like Christian Slater pretending to masturbate during his broadcast seems incredibly tame by today's standards. I was eventually able to settle back into it, even though I was still kinda reacting to the '90s teen angst with bit of a "oh, you thought things were bad back then?" mentality.
Which ones have you been watching, Ross? I am a big Bronson fan. Films like The Mechanic, Chato's Land, and Mr. Majestyk show an actor who knows his craft. I have copies of the original Death Wish and Hard Times to get around to. As the 1970s moved on and the '80s came, the quality of the movies dropped, but he was always a professional. As trashy as Death Wish II is, Bronson gives an intense performance in it.
I watched Adieu l'ami which got mentioned on the recent Pure Cinema Podcast with Tarantino. Followed that up with 10 to Midnight which is on HBO Max at the moment. It's '80s, it's Bronson, it's Cannon, so it's fun. Then watched Hard Times which I hadn't seen in a while. And finally watched Violent City on Prime, which is a little odd because the movie switches back and forth between dubbed and subtitled. The movie as a whole is watchable, but there's a scene at the end that really elevates it. I don't want to spoil it, but it takes place in a glass elevator on the outside of a building and there's a lack of sound in the scene which ends up making it feel pretty intense.
There was a Bronson period before his 70's work (of which "Death Wish" is only a highlight) in which he was a great supporting actor in ensemble casts. "House of Wax" (Vincent Price's mute assistant), "The Dirty Dozen," "the Great Escape," "Magnificent Seven," etc. I really miss this Bronson when he became big enough to become a leading star, which sometimes led to gold ("Death Wish," "Once Upon A Time in the West," etc.) but often resulted in "meh" stuff ("Telefon," "Love and Bullets," etc.).Unlike Chuck Norris' action vehicles in the 80's, I always felt that Bronson was punching above his weight in the Cannon movies he was saddled with. "10 to Midnight" is a legit good performance by Bronson (and Andrew Stevens as the smart psycho), plus director J. Lee Thompson ("The Ambassador") and Charles' team-ups for Cannon were highlights. There is more to Bronson than the "Death Wish" sequels, even if the man clearly was working for paychecks toward the end of his career. :-(
Unrelated note to movie discussion, but has it ever been noted or commented on that there are two episode 432's and 433's of the podcast?
LIGHTNING BOLT (1966) Italian James Bond ripoff. I was hoping for some campy action, but this was just boring. Really makes you appreciate how much the Connery flicks were above their competition. FIRECRACKER (1981) This is a real #Junesploitation/"Machete Maidens" movie, a martial arts revenge flick filmed in the Philippines. Some of the fight scenes are pretty cool, but the whole thing is really sleazy, going from cheeky B-movie to kinda porn-ish. That's fine if it's what you want, but it didn't work for me in this case. CAPTAIN RON (1991) Because sometimes, you just gotta watch CAPTAIN RON.