Saturday, July 3, 2021

Weekend Open Thread


  1. Good weekend to everyone.

    Though Junesploitation has now ended, my mind is still very much in movie mode. I have already started to put together a list for Scary Movie Month. Going through my physical media collection for the SMM list and for future Junesploitation candidates, I am realizing there likely are years of movie watches before having to revisit anything.

    The watches keep coming.

    This morning I woke up earlier than usual, so I tuned into what was on TCM Underground. The films of Curtis Harrington were featured. A bunch of his short films were being shown at the time. His earlier shorts were more on the artsy side (nothing wrong with that), but the last one was a narrative film called USHER based on the Poe story. I really enjoyed that one. Another feature of TCM Underground I appreciate is the ephemeral films sometimes used to fill the time slot. This morning it was an industrial film about Tupperware from the 1960s. It reminded me of when Something Weird Video had an on-demand channel of those kind of films many years ago.

    DODGE CITY (1939, dir. Michael Curtiz) - On the morning of July 1, I was still in a movie mood and this was coming on TCM, so I watched it. Dodge City is an exciting western filmed in glorious Technicolor. The restoration is beautiful. Errol Flynn is a cattleman turned lawman who attempts to tame the wild streets of Dodge City, Kansas. His main opposition to that aim is the gang lead by Jeff Surrett. Surrett is a very much in the gangster mold, reacting with violence to any threat to his illicit activities. There is a large barroom brawl and plenty of gunfights to keep the action going. Flynn was a perfect choice for this kind of film, and there is a lot fun to be had. Curtiz directed so many different films, including Casablanca.


    One more film off the DVR. The Young Runaways is a melodrama about runaway teenagers in Chicago. Part of the film is earnest social drama, and the other part is exploitation. For the exploitation element, there is rock music, mild bed scenes, and many counterculture references. I found it somewhat interesting as a cultural artifact. As a work of entertainment, it is not very good. Richard Dreyfuss has a small role as a societal drop out fleeing the draft. His end is the most amusing part of the film.

  2. Surprised at how likable ALL the characters in FEAR STREET 1994 were, especially the Stu Macher act-alike. I mean, I love Stu, but ya know, he was the first. So glad it was full horror too. The main actress resembles Eliza Dushku SO MUCH OMG. Uncanny at times. Love HER already.

    1. Fear Street was really fun and I'm looking forward to next week's Part 2. But one thing bugged me more that it should have: I was bopping to all the early 90's music on the soundtrack, but then they played Prodigy's Firestarter, which didn't come out until 1996. It actually took me out of the movie for a while because I instantly knew it didn't belong in 1994. (I was a big Prodigy fan at the time and vividly remember Firestarter.)

    2. I get that. On that, White Zombie's More Human Than Human didn't come out until 1995 either.

  3. Glad to see I'm not the only one that didn't stop watching movies when July 1st came around. Spending the weekend at the family home in Upstate NY (free AC! :-P) and we're making pre-4th of July beach party plans now. If I don't get these out of the way now, they'd be lost forever.

    SUMMER OF SOUL (... OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULDN'T BE TELEVISED): Saw this in theaters, but it also just debuted on Hulu. Terrific 2021 documentary by Questlove (Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" bandleader) about a summer 1969 concert in Harlem that for some reason (racism? :'( ) sat in a shelf and went unseen until now. It gets very political, but if you just wanna see/hear some killer live performances by great artists (Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, young Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, 5th Dimension, etc.) you can't beat this doc for bang-for-buck entertainment.

    ZOLA (2021, theater), A24's latest indie pick-up, alternates between harrowing hostage situations and hilarious portrayals of Tampa as Florida's (let alone the country's) stripper culture hellhole. It's been a while since we've had a pimp-centered movie (and Colman Domingo crushes it!), but this one is told from a female POV and mostly made by women filmmakers. The less you know going in the better, but be mentally prepared for the most 'dicks' (figuratively and for real! :-O) to ever appear in a mainstream 'R' feature film. James Franco's brother Dave is one of "Zola's" producers. Why am I not surprised?

    RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT (2021, theater) is a typical showbiz doc about the ups/downs of the "West Side Story" star's legendary career, all told/narrated from Moreno herself. Even as she's pushing 90 this December, Rita is a fiery ball of energy. If you like or appreciate the woman's work (or not) you'll enjoy this doc.

    Les Mayfield's AMERICAN OUTLAWS (2001, Netflix) for the first time. So-bad-it's-great-as-a-group-watch western from the director of "Encino Man" that tries to make "Young Guns" out of the Jesse James myth. Photographed, edited, scored (by Trevor freaking Rabin!) and acted like a mid-90's The WB YA show, this feels like the brain-dead, pre-9/11 dumb movie that it is (released theatrically Aug. '01). Kathy Bates dies from a house exploding as if she was a Looney Tunes character, Ali Larter's dead eyes betray her beauty, Scott Caan plays an a-hole (Nooooo! :-P), Ronny Cox and Terry O'Quinn are wasted in nothing roles, etc. Only Colin Farrell and Timothy Dalton are fun to watch as Jesse James and Allan Pinkerton, respectively, but neither man can carry "American Outlaws" to the finish line. With some booze and friends this might just become a laugh riot, though.

    Edgar Wright's THE SPARKS BROTHERS (2021, theater) is a 141 min. documentary/love letter to musicians' musicians that clearly influenced many a creative mind like Wright's. Never heard of these guys, didn't like or care for any of the songs/music videos the doc showed, but they seem like nice folks that work hard for their music. Just because I don't like their stuff doesn't mean you won't, but the length and inside baseball winking make this something that will only be appreciated by true Sparks fans.

    Last but not least, rewatched Ridley Scott's ALIEN: DIRECTOR'S CUT (1979. 4K UHD BD) and Richard Donner's THE OMEN (1976, Blu-ray) with the RavensFilm Production commentary tracks. A nice treat to rewatch 70's old-school horror classics in the company of knowledgeable film fans. Good thing I watched both flicks early and in chronological order, because by the time "Alien" was ending the slow 70's pace of both movies combined was weighing heavy on my will to stay awake. :-(

    HAPPY 4th of JULY EVERYBODY! And if you live outside the US, Happy Sunday. :-)

  4. I just finished rewatching The Thirteeth Floor for the first time since I first saw it about 20 years ago, when I vaguely remember it blew my mind. Okay, so maybe it's not mind-blowing anymore, but it's still a fun noir sci-fi mystery.

    1. All l remenber is that it's very dark, then very green at certain key moments. 💣👽

  5. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021 - Shaka King)
    Just watched this history piece in the cinema. A good movie which somehow lacks tension (for me), despite having something very important to say and looking gorgeous. At the same time, it shows again what a screen presence and charisma beast Daniel Kaluuya is. He's probably one of my (if not "the") favorite young actors in these days.

  6. Looking forward to a few weeks off and then AUGUSTSPLOITATION!