Saturday, April 16, 2022

Weekend Open Thread


  1. HAPPY EASTER TO ALL (that celebrate it)!

    S.S. Rajamouli's RRR: RISE, ROAR, REVOLT (2022, theater) lives up to its moniker as an EPIC 3 hr. Bollywood historic action fantasy that is often quite hilarious (in a good way, not just laughing at the film's complete lack of subtlety). It starts as "The Patriot" set in a 1920's India oppressed by super racist British elites/soldiers that feel entitled to "buy" a little Indian girl for a few shillings. By the end it has morphed into "The Avengers," complete with co-protagonist Ajay Devgn's Rama going from Ben Affleck-in-"Argo" lookalike to Jason Momoa-as-Hawkeye ultimate badass. In-between there's a neat bromance between future antagonists Rama and Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), whose inevitable fallout and reconciliation (with a wave of CG destruction and mayhem) make for an entertaining ride. It says something about the quality of the music in "RRR" that, despite having action sequences that brought my theater audience (most of them not Hindu-American) to clapping and cheering, its two most memorable sequences are EPIC dance-offs between our heroes and snobby British upper classmen. "RRR's" not perfect (the lashing of Bheem with a spiked whip was rough viewing), but highly recommended for those that can appreciate a shameless Bollywood crowd pleaser operating at peak levels.

    Rewatched Cecil B. DeMille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956, 4K UHD Blu-ray) for the first time in years. The Holy Bible as garish Hollywood melodrama conceived by pious dirty old men, complete with Anne Baxter showing her nipples through her see through dresses (first time I noticed... thank you 4K transfer! :-D). What's not to love? So many recognizable faces (Vincent Price, John Carradine, Cedric Hardwicke, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, John Derek, Debra Paget, etc.) get plenty of scenes to shine since the almost-4 hr. running time gives them, the special effects (dated but charming), the cast-of-thousands long shots and the leading love triangle (Chuck Heston, Yul Brynner and the aforementioned Baxter) plenty of time to chew massive amounts of scenery. Still not sure why it's called "The Ten Commandments" and not "Moses," since the movie's titular event (a) doesn't come until the last half-hour and (b) feels anti-climactic after the ultimate show-stopping climax that the parting of the Red Seas is. Whether on DVD or 4K Blu-ray (though the latter's preferable), this is a classic worth seeing for a reason. Highly recommended.

    KILLER PARTY (1986, TCM Underground) has one of those posters permanently etched in your brain from seeing them in VHS boxes at rental stores in the 80's and 90's. Turns out there's an entertaining early 80's Canuxploitation trip behind the image, one with a very lighthearted and silly tone (shades of "Porky's") that pays off huge when the final act goes balls-out gonzo in a most delightful way. The leading trio (Elaine Wilkes' Phoebe, Sherry Willis-Burch's Vivia and Joanna Johnson's Jennifer) are super likable, Paul Bartel shows up to ham it up and be shocking, and despite the MPAA butchering its gory gags the deaths (which come in a giant bucket rather than evenly spaced) feel satisfying. Scream! Factory released "Killer Party" on Blu-ray last year, and after watching it on TCM I'm seriously tempted to buy it. Recommended.

    Rewatched Walter Hill's 48 HOURS (1982, Showtime) with the Forever Cinematic Commentary Track. I feel I have a tolerance for slow-paced movies, but "48 Hours" put me to sleep... twice. Worth seeing as the birth place of the modern buddy cop movie genre, but too slow-paced and sleepy even for me.

    1. I was considering watching The Ten Commandments which I haven't seen since a kid in the 80's. It's a bit late now, but I'll probably split it into two parts and finish tomorrow.

      The Kill By Kill podcast had an episode on Killer Party. I watched it with my son and it was a lot of fun! He's not normally into horror, but the deaths were all near the very end, and he was into it by then.

    2. I recorded KILLER PARTY on the DVR when it was shown recently, J.M. It was one the films I watched for my first Juneploitation in 2017. I liked how it encapsulates the popular trends (sex comedies and slashers) of the time before going completely crazy at the conclusion. I am looking forward to seeing it again.


    Michael Bay's AMBULANCE (2022, theater), a Hollywood remake of a 2005 Danish film of the same name, achieves a perfect crescendo of entertaining machismo nonsense provided you've come to see Michael Bay-specific tropes applied to a heist-gone-wrong car chase formula stretched well past tolerable running times. Dialing down his editing pace by letting scene last more than a few frames (but compensating by speeding-up the footage from drones made to fly in-between the action), "Ambulance" is also a love letter to Los Angeles even as it traffics on its stereotypes (gay couples in therapy, Latino gangs in East L.A., etc.) to inject the action scenes with Bay's typical dumb jokes and movie references (many of them about the director's own films). Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II have great chemistry (most of their best scenes feel improvised), and Garret Dillahunt (saddled with Michael Bay's dog as his character's pet) stands out as an L.A.P.D. captain. Every other human in "Ambulance" is just a pawn in an orgy of fantasy destruction and silly set-pieces, one that pays lip service to the value of human life while many characters get mowed down by gunfire. Worth seeing if you catch it in a movie theater, because (a) a Michael Bay film not experienced on the big screen is a waste and (b) the credits are done in under two minutes.¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    David Yates' FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE (2022, AMC Dolby), like its predecessors, is good-enough to see once and forget about it until the next chapter brings back memories. That's great because this third chapter assumes you're still a shipper for Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), or that the ulterior motives of Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) are known. Since I've never seen/read anything "Harry Potter" ever, it's a testament to the filmmakers' skills that this universe is still welcoming to a luddite like me without blatant backstory spoon-feeding. Eddie Redmayne's meek keeper of animal species remains "Fantastic Beast's" best throughline, an interesting portrayal of an intellectual only forced to fight with magic when forced to. Ditto for Jude Law, whose middle-aged Dumbledore is the only thing remotely tempting me to dive into the OG "Harry Potter" film series. Fans of the series know by now that, despite trailers for all "Fantastic Beasts" movies making them seem like action spectacles, the "HP" world building and character interaction are the main show. If you can tolerate the too-obvious references to Donald Trump as the main narrative drive of the story, "Secrets of Dumbledore" delivers when it doesn't take itself seriously and has fun with its magical beasts doing homage to the Ministry of Silly Walks (easily the highlight of the film :-P). Recommended.

    1. Thanks JM! Im looking forward to Ambulance for the big cheezeball action movie that it is.

      As for Fantastic Beasts...while i normally stay positive on movies on this site, i gotta say it...i find the Fantastic Beasts movies to be next-level-unwatchable. I love Potter. I was very much open to exploring the universe once Potter flicks were done. But Fantastic Beasts is just not my cup o tea. Too bad as the new one features actors i dig a lot.

  3. Last weekend was a day-long road trip to the only theater I could find playing EVERYTHING EVERWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022). It was worth it, as this is a real big-screen experience. Huge action, a heartfelt story, and a totally off-the-wall sense of humor. It's informed by dozens of other movies, yet I've never seen anything like it.

    That RRR movie isn't playing anywhere here, so I put on 2016's MOHENJO DARO as a consolation. A young man leaves his village for the big city where he romances a princess and leads the revolution against a tyrant. You know, the usual. The tone is closer to Gladiator or Braveheart than Marvel or Star Wars, but that's OK. Maybe too long, but some moments of big spectacle make up for it.

    O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? (2000) "Do not... seek... the treasure..."

    BLOODSPORT (1988). Checked this one off my never-seen-it-before list. It's not exactly high art, but there's some fun to be had. I can definitely see all the other movies and especially video games this inspired.

    1. I think we might go see Everything Everywhere All At Once tomorrow! We were talking about finally seeing The Batman, but I think it might be better to catch EEAAO while it's in theatres. I could see it disappearing quickly. Even if we miss Batman, it'll play again later at the 2nd run theatre anyways. I'm not even really excited about Batman (I'm mostly curious because it's Matt Reeves), but the kids want to see it.

  4. One more week until The Northman opens!

  5. Gotta be quick as i caught a 6' bunny trying to break into my house last nite and i need to find out why before the FBI gets here. So far its tried to bribe me with a LOT of chocolate.

    Cast Away (2000 blu)

    Have seen scenes but never watched it all the way through primarily because: 1) as an overthinking movie lover, i predicted the 3rd act twists when it first came out 2) felt somewhat one note. Dumb of me, of course, as its a great movie. Duh! The fact that its 2 hours with one character (well..TWO characters..apologies to Wilson) and is constantly compelling is a big deal.

    Futureworld (1976 Prime)

    Another gap movie for me. At one point in my movie loving journey i had a mind blowing experience..i realized that one of my fav authors, Michael Crichton, had directed movies that i grew up loving..these included the somewhat under the radar Looker and Runaway (movie nerds know them well) and the more popular Westworld. I knew there was a Westworld sequel but as he wasnt involved and it wasnt very well reviewed, i held off. Finally pulled the trigger....hrmm...its not great but its heart is in the right place. its a very very watered down 70s thriller a-la the awesome Parallax View but its issue is that it pretty much tells you the entire big plan in the first part of the movie and has no where to go from there.

    One aspect of Futureworld made me it they talk about how only rich people could afford a $1k a day fully immersive vacation...this sounded very familiar and i realized that Disney world JUST did the exact thing with its new Star Wars hotel that is crazy expensive ($5k a stay???) for rich people to have an immersive experience. Perhaps ill stay there some day and be chased by a robot-chewie-gone-awry! at some point ill knock off his mask and reveal that under it is A YUL BRYNNER ROBOT! He'll chase me into Disney World proper where his army of evil Country Bear Jamboree robots will trap me....all will seem lost....then Nic Cage will kick in the door, reprising his role from Willys Wonderland and he'll say "Maybe its not such a small world after all" and unleash his bad@ss Cage fury!

    Take Care Team F This!