Saturday, August 14, 2021

Weekend Open Thread


  1. So pumped that Knoxville Horror Fest revealed yesterday that Friday the 13th The Final Chapter would be one of the movies they show this year (at the Drive-In)

    Also, they are doing a Triple Feature next weekend of Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1, 2, and 3 with a lot of the cast and the director of 3 in attendance, and Jill Gevargizian hosting.

    Patrick do you secretly book for this?!?! LOL JK

    1. Say 'You were great in "She-Wolf of London"!' to Kate Hodge for me, will you Ben? ;-)

    2. I'm so jealous of you if you're going to this! It does sound exactly like something I might program, including Jill hosting. I believe they're showing THE STYLIST ahead of the marathon, too, so make sure you see that!

  2. Howdy! :-D

    ESCAPE FROM MOGADISHU (2021, theater), inspired by real-life events from the late 80's/early 90's, follows a group of South and North Korean diplomats forced to work together to survive a constantly-deteriorating military conflict. It feels like South Korean "Argo" until an over-the-top car chase/shoot-out near the end, which looks/feels like something Tony Scott would stage. 'It's fine (TM)' but about as depressing as current news about the ongoing fall of Afghanistan. :-(

    I walked into NINE LIVES (2021, theater) knowing nothing about it. And I honestly can't talk about it without revealing anything that I'd rather let you discover for yourself. All I can say is that (a) first-time writer/director Edson Oda is a filmmaker to watch, (b) Winston Duke is an acting beast that does so much by emoting so little, (c) it's nice to see Benedict Wong's thespian skills outside the MCU, (d) the analog technology-inspired production design is appreciated and (e) this is philosophy 101-loving, up-its-own-ass pretentious indie filmmaking of the best kind. Early runner-up for my Top 10 of 2021, but definitely not meant for everybody (let alone the mainstream).

    STILLWATER (2021, theater), as with Mark Wahlberg's "Joe Bell," indulges in the fantasy that a middle-aged redneck American man feels guilt about his family being "damaged" by his Oklahoma upbringing and surroundings. Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy (2015's Best Picture winner "Spotlight") is smart-enough to put the audience in the shoes of Bill Baker (Matt Damon) and let us experience his rather eventful life for a few months to let us know how he comes about his repressed self-loathing. Set in Marseille, France and co-starring Abigail Breslin as Bill's Amanda Knox-like daughter (a seemingly-important story thread that eventually becomes an emotional McGuffin), the dramatic weight of "Stillwater" falls on French actors Camille Cottin (Netflix's "Call My Agent!") and young Lilou Siauvaud (poor Maya! :'( ). Worth seeing, even if at its core this is a Lifetime woman-in-legal-peril flick on quality Hollywood steroids.

    Stu Segall's DRIVE IN MASSACRE (1976, YouTube) has a decent body count that makes its 73 min. running time tolerable. Half the dialogue is lost by the muffled microphone, music's garbage and acting is across-the-board terrible. But there's a grindhouse purity to the premise of a serial slasher killing patrons at a California drive-in (and nobody besides two lame cops giving a damn) that keeps this watchable. YMMV.

    Rewatched Menahem Golan's THE DELTA FORCE (1986, YouTube Free-with-Ads) with Michael Mercy's fan commentary. Mercy and friends nail it when they proclaim Alan Silvestri's memorable theme song is so good it could have powered multiple seasons of an 80's syndicated cartoon show, ala "He-Man" or "Inspector Gadget." The first half is a disaster movie trope-a-thon (complete with Shelley Winters!), with Robert Forster's hijacker a human highlight reel. Then the Cannon portion takes over the second half, when Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin kick Muslim terrorist ass with cool gear. Ideal brain-turned-off entertainment.

    Also rewatched TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (1986, DVD) with Michael Mercy's fan commentary and James Cameron's ALIENS: SPECIAL EDITION (1986/1991, Blu-ray) with the Forever Cinematic fan commentary track. A good time was had by all. :-)

    1. I remember watching Drive In Massacre at a drive in, an ambiance that made the film better than it is. It does have that distinctive 1970s exploitation vibe, J.M. George Buck Flower playing crazy tends to make any movie better.

  3. Eureka (1983, dir. Nicolas Roeg)

    Gene Hackman plays a gold prospector, a mix between Charles Foster Kane and Thomas Jerome Newton (Bowie from Man Who Fell to Earth), who strikes it rich in Alaska with the help of a meteorite and some occult powers. The movie shifts ahead 25 years, now he’s living on his own Caribbean island with his wife and grown daughter (Theresa Russell) and butting heads with the suitor come to steal her away, played by a dashing Rutger Hauer. All the while Joe Pesci, a Jewish gangster, is plotting to destroy Hackman’s fortune. We witness how his life and fortune are torn apart, very much in a Citizen Kane way. I liked how the movie embraced the weird meteorite stuff in the first act, I wished it would’ve retained its sense of weird throughout. The movie closes with a bafflingly overdramatic courtroom scene in which Theresa Russell and Rutger finally have it out on the witness stand during a murder trial. It’s a dreadful end to what was a promising beginning.

    The Asphalt Jungle (1950, dir. John Huston)

    Picked this up from my local library, saw the Criterion spine and snapped it up before I knew what it was. Really solid crime noir about a heist gone bad. It meticulously sets up the players and gives them three dimensions (reminded me of 1947’s Brute Force for that reason). Notable for having a very early Marilyn Munroe role, I almost didn’t recognize her. Sterling Hayden plays a cut-from-stone sociopath who walks into a million dollar jewel heist. James Whitmore and Sam Jaffe have great supporting characters. I appreciated Huston’s solid craft, but must admit my attention drifted quite a bit in the second act. Also, the end of the movie really hits you over the head with how the police are the last line of defense and they’re keeping us from total chaos. Not a fan of that kind of malarkey after the last few years.

    Vivo (2021, dir. Kirk DeMicco & Brandon Jeffords)

    Lin-Manuel Miranda’s newest venture is an animated Netflix romp about a musical kinkajou (a yellow monkey, but I kept hearing “Pikachu” for the whole fucking movie) looking to deliver a long lost song to a Cuban diva. Vivo is aided by Gabi, the most intolerably precocious kid of all precocious animated kids, in a race against time to get to a concert hall in Miami. Miranda’s song-writing and singing are great, his talent is undeniable, however the very rote race-against-time kid’s movie plotting didn’t do it for me. But hey, my kids were noticing and repeating some of the Spanish spoken in the film, so the film earns good marks from me.

  4. I love Gwyneth Paltrow singing Betty Davis Eyes in Duets.

  5. THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021) This one solves most of the first movie's problems simply by having the team on an actual covert mission rather than starting with the cosmic world-ending stakes. I guess I liked it, with a lot of action and silliness. Felt like something was missing, though, but I don't know what. Maybe superhero fatigue has finally reached me of all people.

    MOTORAMA (1991) What even is this movie? It starts as a road-trip comedy, but soon reveals itself to be a dream/fantasy world. It's mostly comical, except for a few scenes that go full-on horror. I think the filmmakers are going for some grand metaphor, but damned if I can tell what that metaphor is.

    SPACE TRUCKERS (1996) Stuart Gordon makes the most of every penny in this low-budget Star Wars/Predator/Terminator hybrid. Lots of big action and big laughs. It has Dennis Hopper being gruff, Debi Mazar being lovable, and Charles Dance being sinister. What's not to love?

  6. As I mentioned last weekend, I was doing some dog sitting where several streaming services were available. I delved into Netflix and HBO Max for many watches during the week.


    DOLEMITE IS MY NAME (2019) - "Dolemite is my name and f.." You know the rest of the quote if you have seen this or Dolemite. I found this highly entertaining. Eddie Murphy channels Rudy Ray Moore very well. Judging by how well the film flows, I am guessing that many things were glossed over or fictionalized. Biopics generally do not interest me, but this was one I did not mind seeing.

    PELÉ (2021) - A very engaging documentary about the career of the legendary Brazilian soccer star. Of most interest to me was the discussion of the intersection of sport and national identity. As much as Pelé achieved, it seemed to have come at the cost of an overwhelming pressure to live up to other's expectations. I did not end up envying him.

    DOLLY PARTON: HERE I AM (2019) - After watching some very dark true crime series - The Ripper and I'll Be Gone In The Dark - I needed a little pleasantness. Dolly exudes nothing but pleasantness. Though not a big fan, I have a lot respect for her as an entertainer and entrepreneur.

    TRIPLE THREAT (2019, dir. Jesse V. Johnson) - A who's who cast of modern action stars (Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White) flounders without a script that connects the dots of the story. All I could think of was, "How does this scene have anything to do with anything else?" The fight between Adkins and Jaa is the highlight of this weak film. The cast at least got a chance to visit Thailand.

    HEADSHOT (2016) - A nihilistic Indonesian action film that succeeds in tying its set-pieces together better than Triple Threat, but the viewer still has to make a lot of allowances for holes in the script. Iko Uwais is an amnesiac man who must figure out who he is, which leads to a lot of fights and killing. It is a surprisingly mean film. The love story that is crammed between the action does not work and makes the film too long, though. Not a complete waste of time but there are better films to devote two hours of your life to.

    If you have any interest in Mexican food, Taco Chronicles is an informative series about the variety of tacos available right below the United States.

  7. On HBO Max, HEAVEN'S GATE: CULT OF CULTS was my favorite watch. I remember well the coverage of the group's mass suicide back in 1997. With the inclusion of the videos and recordings made by the group, there is an intimacy to this series that was thoroughly engrossing. The interviews with members as they prepared to leave their earthly "vehicles" to join the spaceship trailing with the Hale-Bopp comet are simultaneously sad and weirdly reassuring. As with the great five-part Sundance documentary about The People's Temple and the Jonestown Massacre, there is an overwhelming sadness at the conclusion as ex-members discuss the aftermath of the self-destruction of Heaven's Gate.

    The other major movie watch was JOHN WICK, a first-time viewing and the only film I have seen in the series. Seeing an action film with a good script was a pleasant experience, and the weird world created in the film is compelling. The simple premise builds up in a satisfying way, and the saturated colors gave me something interesting to look at. The style reminded me a little of a Jean-Pierre Melville crime film.

    1. John Wick, Melville is very much an influence. They even go to a club called The Red Circle in the first movie

  8. The Kissing Booth 3: yes, they made a 3rd one. It's as weird as the others. And like any other trilogies that come to an end, there's 10 endings and it drags way too long.