Yay, Academy Award weekend is here! Excited yet? Nah, me neither. :-PIs it June already? Because after last week's "Alice," Ti West's X (2022, theater) is proof that quality exploitation cinema is alive and well in American theaters. The words 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' aren't uttered by any of its set-in-1979 Texas-based characters, all of whom appear to have walked off P.T. Anderson's "Boogie Nights" set (can you hear the sound of Patrick's boner growing a second, even bigger boner? :-D). And yet 'X' might be the best "TCM"-inspired knockoff/sequel ever made because West isn't coasting on gore gags (the only redeeming feature of that Netflix weekly streaming quota masquerading as a "TCM" movie) to carry a meddling narrative populated with unlikable characters. You know 'X' is a winner when you sympathize with the very human, very relatable force driving the killer to perform horrible deeds as much as the well-written, engaging characters carelessly walking into their misfortune. DON'T EVEN THINK OF LEAVING WITHOUT SITTING THROUGH THE CLOSING CREDITS for one hell of a parting present from Ti because... low-budget horror filmed in New Zealand apparently lets you get away with it! :-) Highly recommended.BACHCHHAN PAANDEY (2022, theater) isn't the worst violence-is-fine-but-kissing-is-evil Hindu adult comedy I've seen, but it could have been so much better. Nothing against writer/director Farhad Samji, but if you're going to make a Bollywood version of "Get Shorty" in which a struggling female filmmaker (Kriti Sanon's Myra) tries to make a movie based on the life of a criminal (Akshay Kumar's titular character)... I don't know, try to even remotely see the narrative through the female perspective (sigh!). Anywho, aside from being a sausage fest and lacking any sense of irony or self-deprecation "Bachchhan Paandey" nails the emotional ending (Chekhov's silent treatment mother) but is otherwise painfully forgettable and predictable.Rewatched Jacke Chan's POLICE STORY (1995, Criterion Blu-ray) with the Jury Room 4.0 watch-along Discord crowd, and also rewatched Ted Kotcheff's FIRST BLOOD (1982, DVD) with the just-released Forever Cinematic Commentary track. The former has a rare mid-act scene when Jackie loses his shit as a good cop accused of killing a fellow officer that (a) gets really dark/emotional, which (b) is at complete odds with the rest of the flick's silly cartoon hijinks. "Police Story" is still worth seeing, if not for Chan's typical death-defying stunt work then for the scenes that inspired other big American action flicks ("Bad Boyz II," "Tango & Cash," etc.) to shamelessly rip it off. "First Blood" still holds up, especially Brian Dennehy and Jack Starrett (as trigger-happy Deputy Galt) personifying both toxic masculinity and white male privilege using their police badge to cover-up some pretty psycho behavior. I miss movies like this where stuff that blew up real good and picturesque vistas of exotic locations were done practically and on-camera, not added by a rendering farm in Marin County, CA. :'(
Woot..great reviews as always JM...glad you dug X as well!Also im always on board for folks exposing others to Chans "middle" work (80s-90s) as he's an all time favorite actor/director and those action flicks are untouchable.
Shameful confession: I've only seen the first half of Police Story.
all is forgiven! of course the finale of that flick is HUGE so you should catch it at some point. (especially considering the oft-told story that the string-lights Jackie slides down were incorrectly setup with higher voltage and he was pretty hurt by the stunt)
Hi FTM! Saw some good ones this week..BATMAN 2022My sister, Alicia, and I walked into Batman today! I liked the aesthetic and the music! I'm not usually a Batman fan or Robert Pattinson fan but I thought it was good. They succeeded in making Batman a little sexy this time? I noticed. I appreciated. Also I wonder if he's wearing false eyelashes? That mask looks super tight, it looks like they took pains to get every one of his lashes to stick out. TURNING RED 2022Not quite sure how to talk about this movie except to say that it f-ing rocks! I def thought it was about menstruation, mood swings, PMS, female sexuality and womanness. Her girlfriends were my favorite part. I love how much they love the boy band and it's their main priority basically. Was twerking a thing in 2002, when this took place? All my girlfriends with kids have sent me videos, at some point in the last few years, of their tiny daughters trying to twerk, and this message "OMG, I AM A TERRIBLE MOTHER ". It's funny. Yeah I kinda liked everything about it. Watched it twice. My mom liked it, too. I didn't relate to anything about having strict parents bc mine were, if anything, overly permissive, but it still totally resonates. I appreciate the depiction of the serious craziness that is mood swings. Thank you, Turning Red, I feel seen. And thanks, JM! I would NOT have seen this if not for the nudge.TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 2020All the characters and relationships were good. The acting was great - Mark Rylance, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong. But I was weirded out to learn that the actual trial went almost nothing like this and Alan Sorkin painted the people and events through some pretty rose tinted lenses. We can't be doing that anymore. TEACHERS 1984I am still trying to track this awesome-looking movie down. Have a great weekend everyone!
I haven't seen Turning Red yet, but Pixar is very reliable at churning out good movies. I watch them all and am looking forward to Turning Red. I'm going to tackle all the Studio Ghibli movies soon. The only I've seen was "Grave of the Fireflies" which was fantastic and rather sad.
Glad to have nudged you toward "T. Red," Meredith. 🙂 Too bad you couldn't see it in a theater like l did, but thems the breaks. 😛
Having all of Hayao Miyazaki's films ahead will make the Studio Ghibli journey very worthwhile.
The remaining movies in my “Mountain Man” movie run:The Mountain Men (1980)Starring Charles Heston, this is an adventure movie with quite a bit of humour thrown in. It unfortunately falls back heavily on the trope of the “Indian” people as being bloodthirsty headhunters. Funny story, at Christmas visiting my parents, I wanted to put on a movie. Muppet's Christmas Carol was my suggestion, but I was open to others. No takers. So alone, I watched this instead. My one son joined me after a bit, which was fine and we were loving it . And my other son, my parents, my brother and his wife and her friend, all came in sat down right as a scene with a straight up rape begun. Bad timing, fack. They all left right after. I had disapproving glances later on. They should have watched the whole movie, or better yet, we could have watched Muppet's Christmas Carol. But a fun movie, even though on a “politically correct” meter it should have come out 30 years before.Call Of The Wild (1935)Among the first adaptations of the book (there’s been ~10 of them) by the same name. I watched 3 of them, and they all ended differently. I wonder how the book ended. This one has an incredible surprise for an ending. Clark Gable stars and impregnated his young lady co-lead (Loretta Young) during production, and there was a hush-hush. Yuck.Call Of The Wild (1972)Also starring Charles Heston. This movie is peak dog stunt acting work. It’s incredible. You see dogs attacking other dogs, dogs attacking humans, humans attacking/beating dogs, dogs tearing other dogs apart after a fight. “Wolves” and dogs battles. However, it’s all done through clever cutting and a lot of incredible dog stunt work. There’s a bunch of nice dog sledding sequences. Rough around the edges, and quite violent. I quite enjoyed this one, and especially seeing a few set in the North rather than the mountains of the west.The Call Of The Wild (2020)I very very nearly stop watching this immediately when the CGI dog showed up. But I stuck with it, and you know what? It really worked. Through abundant half-animated/half real film-making, it probably best captured the “majesty” of the North, and the spirit of adventure which I imagine was a big appeal of the book. I forgot that the dog was CGI almost immediatly. Great movie, and one that could be enjoyed by all ages. Harrison Ford has his usual grumpy charisma; I’m enjoying his “old man” phase quite a bit.
Lastly, Black Robe (1991) was a fantastic Canadian film about a Jesuit priest that goes on a trip from one missionary/settling to another accompanied by various indigenous people from a few distinct tribes. All the other movies portrayed the indigenous people as caricatures but this one was striving for realism. It was really good in how we saw the differences, linguistically, in religion (and how everyone viewed the world), and in how they “got by” surviving in a very wild and undeveloped early Canada. I appreciated all the American West and Northern scenery from all the other movies, but the scenes in this movie where they’re canoeing across lakes and hiking through the Canadian shield forests, I felt at home. It was wonderful. It was interesting how the film depicted sex. It was a different time when multiple families would sleep in the same shelter, and there would only be limited number of people you would ever meet. Although filmed in a region of Quebec I haven’t yet visited, I loved the story, the racial awareness, and how it was very much set in the wilderness I’m familiar with. Thanks for the recommendation A Casual Listener!
Paul, l have a bone to pick with you. After watching all these "Call of the Wild" movie adaptations, aren't you doggone tired of the whole thing? 🐶😃👍
Honestly, I'd love nothing more than to make a big bowl of pupcorn and watch another adaptation of that wonderful story.
I knew you would like Black Robe, Paul, especially with the Canadian setting. It has been two decades since I watched it, and what I remember most is the canoe scenes through the forest. As you say, the depictions of Native Americans are for more nuanced. Bruce Beresford has quite a varied filmography, with historical dramas (Breaker Morant is a strong recommendation), low-brow Australian comedies, and Driving Miss Daisy.
As mentioned last week, I agree that a War Movie day during Juneploitation wouldn't be appropriate (I was one person that had proposed it previously). The Christopher Lee idea is a good one, as is a Divoff day! Dude can speak 9 languages! The Heist idea is good too.I live about 300m from the Russian embassy here in Ottawa, and it's nice to see that there are people protesting all day outside. I give them a honk when I drive by and have stopped to chat when walking past to and from work.
Yo F-this buds. I gotta start my post with a really sad rest in peace as the rock world (also with Studio 666, the movie world) lost one of its best last nite...RIP Taylor Hawkins..condolences to his family, friends, and fans. A rock ambassador is no more. crushed.My reviews for the weekend make up the perfect and most obvious double bill available today..The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (74, DVD)This review kinda ties into Patricks recent article about revisiting movies. Prior to this viewing i had only seen this once decades ago. I recall it scaring me a TON but as the general genre of..i dont even know what to call it...hicksploitation?..isnt really my thing, i never revisited. Bad on me as this flick is truly the masterpiece folks know it to be. I wont delve into it cuz you know it if you know it but two takeaways: 1) the conversation in the van around slaughterhouses is the greatest tone-setting foreshadowing device ever..it sets the stage so perfectly for the events at the house. 2) the first two deaths are so abrupt and 'basic' in delivery but come across so terrifying and real...nothing can touch them. and i wont even speak of that hook..conceptually beyond terror. So, yea, duh, Tobe's movie is a mastercraft.X (2022 theatrical)Its outstanding. Ill stay spoiler free for now. Ti West takes his time with this movie and it benefits greatly. we literally get to know the cast and like them. Also, just like last year where i was blown away with the craziness that James Wan got away with in a wide release of the exploitation flick Malignant, im equally blown away that Ti made a movie today that uses 70s Porn and (surprisingly) frank commentary on sexuality as the premise. Its a hell of a ride of a movie and one of the best made horrors ive seen in a long time. And while it is very much its own movie, it does have high level framing that is absolutely aligned with the aforementioned Chainsaw. Also..im glad JM mentioned it above...stay for the credits...if you dont know the secret ending, its one of the best stingers in forever.
There is a sex scene in X that I found so weirdly tender. I was really struck by it.
Bonus Review for the Category of "STRANGEST MOVIE of the WEEK"Mandibles (2021 Hulu. French w English Subtitles)Found this description on a list of recent Cult flicks to check out: "a pair of doofuses on a road trip encounter a giant fly and decide to teach it to rob banks for them. as one does." Thats all im going to say about the plot. The 'doofuses' in question are indeed a pastiche of Lloyd/Harry, the Dude, and maybe a smidge of Bill/Ted. The movie is kind of a stream of consciousness trip that feels like it was WRITTEN by the main characters..this is more of a warning than a compliment as its a silly, quirky, but aimlessly dumb journey. However..by the end of it i kinda loved hanging with them for 80m or so and absolutely cackled at anything with the fly. And the final moments of the movie are so pure and sweet that i went from "i dont know WHO i could suggest this to" to "screw it..fans of weird fun flicks need to see this. it made me so happy at the end and that is kinda rare". So..you've been warned AND suggested. (PS: this movie is helmed by Quentin Dupieux who did the movie RUBBER about the killer tire...probably helps set the stage)
I watched DRIVE MY CAR last night and good lord, this is going to take a while to absorb. I had a sinking feeling at the nearly 3 hour runtime but it uses every second of that to great effect and has some simply amazing performances. I know, this is just plain gushing but what the heck, I can't lie about my feelings on this. The premise of a actor/director dealing with the grief of his wife dying sounds like misery but the movie never wallows in it, instead using it to explore human connections and problems as the director is invited to run a multi-lingual performance of Uncle Vanya. And boy, that conceit of the performance provides an opportunity for a simply amazing performance that I wish was getting more attention; Park Yu-rim speaks in Korean Sign Language in the movie and she has a few scenes where she is simply captivating.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've been wanting to see it, but the runtime is a little daunting. Also, subtitled movies require a little more concentration.I had a similar feeling before watching Burning (2018), and put it off for a long time. Eventually when I watched it, it didn't feel it's length at all and I could hardly tear my eyes from the screen.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) This one is often criticized for being slow paced until the brutal finale, but watching this in the middle of the night during some unfortunate insomnia, I was really drawn into the "lost in the desert" vibe of the movie. UNCHARTED (2022) This movie is dumb. So dumb, in fact, that I wonder if it'll be a cult classic years from now. I liked that these treasure-hunters are real unscrupulous types, not hesitating to stab each other in the back at any opportunity. But then, we get to the big can-only-exist-in-CGI finale, and I was back to shaking my head at just how DUMB it was. POLICE STORY (1985) Pretty much the same as most Jackie Chan movies, in that the comedy scenes overstay their welcome, but then action and stunts take off and it's a thrilling ride. INLAND EMPIRE (2006) "I used to raise rabbits."
I assume you heard about the restoration for Inland Empire. I wonder how it will look like. Criterion will release it later this year
Hi gang! Hope everyone's doing well.Everybody says "Don't ready anything about Fresh so you won't get spoiled", then the movie calls itself Fresh which, coupled with the poster, is a bit of a giveaway. Nevertheless, I had fun with it and Sebastian Stan is great (he's great in everything these days, I also watched Pam & Tommy in which he's excellent), but I can only imagine how fun it would've been to be actually surprised.And the weirdest movie I've seen in a while is 1977's Godzilla (aka "Cozzilla"), which was Luigi Cozzi's re-re-cut of the American re-cut of the original Godzilla. Cozzi decided he wanted to update the original Godzilla and bring it to an Italian audience, so he took the Raymond Burr-starring American cut of Godzilla, added in a few scenes from other 50's monster movies and some absolutely horrifying newsreel footage from WW2, colorized the whole lot, dubbed it in Italian, and added a synth score. The result is a bad movie, but a fascinating mess. Adding actual war footage to a silly monster movie was in poor taste, but it's hard to deny that it's effective. That, coupled with the synth score, made this the most disturbing and upsetting Godzilla movie I've seen, so I guess that's something.
Hmm - I keep posting, but my posts do not show here. Am I doing anything wrong?
I see this one
I see it too.
I'll try to post in abstracts, one must trigger an automated ban or something...A friend of mine and I recently watched 4 movies, that are linked to the 1917 Russian Revolution. The recent sad events kick-started my interest in the history of that time, so it was very interesting to see all the different perspectives over the time.
We started with BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, the 1925 silent classic, famously named the best film ever made at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair by gathered critics. While it can be challenging to watch these old movies, this had three great scenes in it, that really help to get through this. The first was the beginning of the uprising and the question, if the soldiers will shoot at the mutinous sailors. The second great scene was the famous staircase scene (THE UNTOUCHABLES referenced this scene), with the stroller rumbling down the stairs. The third – and my favorite – was the finale confrontation between the battleship and its squadron, which has an insanely tense build.
The second movie we’ve seen was OUTSKIRTS, another old soviet classic from 1933, which pushed the “there is no war if the power lies with the people” message. It was a good watch, but beside the message not too remarkable, also had some tonal shifts that didn’t work for me (some comedy elements I didn’t like).
The third movie was 1981’s REDS by Warren Beatty, and my oh my – this was a blast. It is long, like 195 minutes long, and it has some elements that might not be appealing to everyone in a feature film (like talking heads), but I was all into it. I loved the esprit of the characters, everyone played great, the message was good, and in my opinion, depicted the events of 1917 perfectly (from an American point of view). I’ve never heard of this quite successful (at the time) film before, it seems that there is no bigger following, but I recommend it heavily.
Ok - it's the abstract about ANASTASIA that gets deleted, interesting. I always thought it's by Disney, it isn't. I think the backstory doesn't fit the happy-ending-princess-story, and there are some weird CG-elements in it. We had a great day overall.
As far a movie watching goes, this month has been the lightest for many years. That is the result of several factors, but this week I made the effort to get back to cinema. BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999)– I might not be the audience for this campy and satirical story of gay conversion therapy. When a teenage girl (really well played by Natasha Lyonne) is sent to a conversion retreat, she undergoes a series of experiences that break her down and enrich her life. The tone is the primary issue for me, swinging from silly comedy to some seriously dark moments. The pressure to conform becomes menacing. That soundtrack could only have come from the late 1990s.THE DEBUT (1977, dir. Nouchka van Brakel) on MUBI – A provocative story about a fourteen-year-old girl who initiates a relationship with a married friend of her father. The most intriguing aspect to me was that a woman made it. That is likely why, though The Debut is full of uncomfortable scenes, the protagonist is shown as being in charge of her own actions. The 1970s Dutch settings add some life to what is sometimes a plodding narrative. MONSTER FROM THE OCEAN FLOOR (1954) on Prime – A fitting schlock feature for Saturday night relaxation. In the waters near a Mexican village, a creature that hardly gets any explanation is killing people and animals by absorbing them. It is up to an American tourist and a marine biologist to deal with the threat. One of Roger Corman’s first productions, it feels like this was made in the wake of the success of Creature From The Black Lagoon. The cheapness of the production is evident in every way. Even at only 70 minutes, there is a lot of padding.