Saturday, August 6, 2022

Weekend Open Thread


  1. Our big independent theatre (built in 1946) closed down during the pandemic, which was sad (it's only a 5 minute walk away for me). But happily, it opened again under new ownership! And they're playing a wider selection of movies. Before, they only played "awards movies", foreign dramas, domestic dramas, and especially any drama featuring elderly people. The lineup outside the theatre was a sea of grey hair. Now they're still playing those movies, but with a light dose of other stuff as well. In the past couple of weeks I saw:

    Lost Highway (1997). This movie is metal. My favourite Lynch. It was great to finally see it on the big screen.

    Vertigo (1958). Hitchcock is one of my blind spots. I had seen this as a kid, but didn't remember it. I really enjoyed it, and throughout most of the movie had no idea where it was going to go. Even with the big reveal in the middle, you're still left wondering "How is this going to resolve itself". The main guy is such a creep!

    Blade Runner (1982). One of my favourite movies. As someone who appreciates more the visual and aural aspects of movies (over story and/or dialogue), it was heaven to see this on the big screen. What a gorgeous movie.

    1. I was away the last week of Junesploitation, and wasn't posting any reviews. The one noteworthy movie that week was Excalibur (1981). I had always heard mixed opinions on this movie, but I absolutely loved it. I went in expecting a more realistic medieval movie, but it was quite fantastical. Last week I finally got around to seeing Legend (1985) which I loved as well. In the same vein, it was very fantastical and dream like, and visually gorgeous. Ridley Scott made 2 movies in a row featuring unicorns!

    2. Which version of Legend did you watch. The theatrical cut has better music (i'm a fan of Tangerine Dream), but the director's cut is way better, with a better ending

    3. The theatrical. I'm a fan of Tangerine Dream as well so I thought I'd go with that version and watch the DC next time.

      Coincidentally, I've been listening to the Tangerine Dream score for Sorcerer the past few weeks and it's phenomenal. It's a little too fresh for me to put in my top 5 scores, but I have a feeling it might belong there.

    4. Which cut of Blade Runner was shown, Paul? I can still remember being enthralled the first time I saw it (the theatrical cut) in 2000. Even on a small tube TV the film looked great. I am also more engaged by the aesthetic of the film than the story. During my pet sitting week I watched episodes of a 1980s anime called Bubblegum Crisis. The Blade Runner influence on the story and look of that series is very evident, which was probably why I kept watching it. The soundtrack is terrific, too.

    5. I believe it was "The Final Cut". It didn't have narration.

      I'm really glad I went to see it. I had gone to see Vertigo the evening before, and Blade Runner was the late show the next evening. I almost balked , but reminded myself that the opportunities to see it on the big screen would be very limited to non -existant for possibly the rest of my existence. I'm usually a trip to the theatre every one or two months type of person.

      I've never been able to get into anime. I've watched dozens of various series episodes with my kids , but never felt the urge to watch more.

    6. I am not a big anime fan either, Paul. The 1980s aesthetic of Bubblegum Crisis was what I enjoyed about it. Listening to the soundtrack on Youtube now.

  2. CONAN THE BARBIAN (1982) By Crom, what a picture!

    ARTEMIS FOUL (2020) WTF is this thing? It's baffling nonsense, and not in a fun way. Just a dreadful viewing experience.

    THE SEA BEAST (2022) I was worried this one would be all cutesy based on the trailer, but it's surprisingly awesome! Old-fashioned sword swingin' swashbuckling, just like you like it.

    EXPLORERS (1985) Joe Dante goodness! This is a broken, unfinished movie, yet I love it so.

    NOPE (2022) On the podcast, you guys seemed pretty down on this, but I for one thought it was terrific. Kaluuya, Palmer, and Yeun were all stellar, and the UFO/creature effects were thrilling. And a certain flashback scene is one of the scariest things I've ever seen in a movie.

    LIGHTYEAR (2022) Weird how there's a whole other sci-fi movie happening in the background of Buzz's adventures, about crash survivors starting a new society on an alien world, and this is hardly explored at all. On the plus side, lots of fun space action in the third act.

    STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928) Great movie! After all these years, Buster Keaton still delivers.

    1. Conan the Barbarian has a terrific soundtrack as well. In the sword and sorcery genre, nothing I have seen comes close to it.

      1920s Buster Keaton is enduring comedy. Sadly, the roles he had at the end of his life in the beach party films tend to be embarrassing.

  3. Over a week of pet sitting, there was not much else to do but watch television. The house has a Roku box, which gave me access to all kinds of content I generally do not have access to. Most of the films I watched were things I randomly found. I also watched some anime and old Dr. Who episodes.

    AGE OF CONSENT (1969, dir. Michael Powell) - Powell, the director of many classic British films of the 1940s, was in the wilderness of the film business by the late 1960s. This Australian romance about an artist (James Mason) who finds his muse (a young Helen Mirren) on an island off the Great Barrier Reef is not one of his finest. It still is worth a watch for the actors involved.

    MEATBALLS (1979, dir. Ivan Reitman) - Looking for some summer themed films, I saw this available on Prime. I had not seen it before, either. I liked Meatballs for what it is, a bit of Animal House and a teen sex comedy at a summer camp. I could tell this was made in Canada right away. It seems like Bill Murray got a lot of leeway to improvise, and everybody looked to be having fun. I was entertained.

    A CAT IN THE BRAIN (1990, dir. Lucio Fulci) - Lucio Fulci is the highlight of his own film. He plays a horror director increasingly unable to distinguish his films from reality. It feels like a production that lacked enough resources to adequately carry through the premise. Almost almost all of the kills are borrowed from other films, and the ones staged for the film do not impress. Definitely lesser Fulci.

    DRIVE IN (1977) - It is a night at the drive-in movie theater in a small Texas town. Not everyone is there to watch the movie. Rivalries, personal dramas, hormones, and crime all play their part in how the evening turns out. The charmingly rambling narrative is very 1970s, as are the vans and the clothing.

  4. Part 2 of my pet sitting week viewing.

    PAJAMA PARTY (1964, dir. Don Weis) on Prime - Even by the strange standards of the AIP beach party films, Pajama Party gets weird. It also may be the sexiest entry of the series. This time around a Martian invasion plot is added to the usual zaniness. With Frankie Avalon only in a cameo role, Annette Funicello gets the chance to shine. She is the one who gets involved with the bumbling Martian agent who just cannot get people to believe who he is. Hollywood veterans Dorothy Lamour, Elsa Lancaster (Bride of Frankenstein), and Buster Keaton also feature in it. Keaton portrays a Native American who carries a tomahawk and likes to say "cowabunga".

    THE DAY TIME ENDED (1979) - A family visit to a house in the desert becomes a nightmare for a family as a time warp occurs. There are ghosts, tiny alien spaceships, and the random giant monsters to contend with. Perhaps they end up in the future? Not a good film, but the special effects are surprisingly decent for the budget.

    THE QUIET EARTH (1985, dir. Geoff Murphy) - What would you do if you woke up one morning and found that every living thing had vanished? This New Zealand production delves into that premise in some intriguing ways. Was an experiment at fault for the calamity? Maybe not every thing works in the script, but the film does make you think. The scenes of empty urban environments reminded me very much of the recent Covid-19 shutdowns.

    I also watched a couple of music documentaries on Netflix. IF I LEAVE HERE TOMORROW (2018) covers the history of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. There is a special focus on lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the airplane crash that took his life and that of five others. The weight of that event on the survivors is evident but still hard to comprehend. The other doc was COUNT ME IN (2021). Although this exploration of drumming focuses on rock'n'roll, other genres are mentioned. As somebody who does not have a sense of rhythm, I marvel at the skills of a drummer. Definitely for a niche audience.

    1. I also watched a 1990 beach volley ball film starring C. Thomas Howell called SIDE OUT. It is very a very formulaic sports film, which made it a perfect film to have on while stretching and exercising. It follows the beats of 1980s underdog stories too closely to be memorable in any way. Features Courtney Thorne-Smith in a thankless girlfriend role.

  5. I really enjoy woke CINDERELLA (2019). It's A LOT but I think it's fun. I agree it's clearly "*strenuously* self-aware" as one reviewer pointed out, but that's cool with me because the original story of Cinderella is the WORST, IMO. So messed up. The weirdest, cringiest sexist themes about martyrism going on. There are a lot of British comics in it.

    RACING WITH THE MOON (1984) - coming of age film with Sean Penn, Nic Cage and Elizabeth McGovern, taking place in a small midwest town during the draft days of WWII. Sean Penn and Nic Cage are best friends, Nic being the crazy, screw-up one. It's slow but charming. Sean Penn and Elizabeth McGovern are like an "opposites attract" good looking couple. There are a few scenes with Sean and Nic just drunkenly yelling and laughing at each other and it feels very...nostalgic. 

    PERSUASION (2022). I recommend this to any Dakota Johnson fans (I know there are some here). She's perfect in it, sarcastic and cute. The movie suffers only from being a Jane Austen story that wasn't re-written by Emma Thompson. They always feel so tedious.

  6. After a few weeks of not a lot of movies, I finally managed to see a few in the last 2 weeks.
    First, I want to start with my ongoing series of movies I watch as a preparation for my road trip that will start in only six weeks. After the great Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Illinois), we watched Field of Dreams (Iowa) and Fargo (Minnesota). The latter is one of my favorite movies of all time, the first was new to me. I have to say, I really liked the romantic fantasy fairy-tale it has presented, and Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan had a nice chemistry. I guess we need more Annie Kinsellas in rural America at this point.
    The very next week we watched Public Enemies (Wisconsin), a movie I guess will never warm up to me, before we’ve seen The Nice Guys (California), another one of my favorite movies, maybe the best coming out of the 2010s.
    I also continued the Roland-Emmerich-series with my friend, where we watched The Noah’s Ark Principle, Making Contact, and Ghost Chase. It was very interesting to see these early movies of his filmography, since they do have some things, you can find in his later movies already. The first one is a German movie made in 1984, basically his diploma film. Normally at that time, those movies were made for about 20.000,- Dollars – he somehow managed to gather 1.000.000,- Dollars, and it is shown on the screen. The movie looks great. There are a lot of blinking computer screens, steamy narrow spaces, and you can tell that it was a very reduced setting, and that he was influenced heavily by other sci-fi-movies of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, but I think that helps the overall mood.
    Making Contact is a rip-off of Poltergeist, but it surely has the 80s aesthetic down to a key. Weird ending, though.
    Chasing Ghost could have been a great movie, again about some kind of ghosts, with nice effects, good characters (except for one), and an overall nice mood, but this one character, portrayed by Jason Lively, must be the most annoying and toxic hero ever banned on the screen… he ruins the movie. Still, something you totally can watch on a Sunday afternoon if you want your 80s kick and don’t want to watch the same 10 movies all over again.

    1. The movie is called Ghost Chase, not Chasing Ghost...

  7. F This "One of the best comic series of all time that seemed unadaptable but now has been adapted"

    Sandman ep1 (Netflix 2022)

    I was incredibly lucky to meet and befriend a true comic book aficionado in the late 80s. And like many true comic book uberfans, he was into comics that the rest of the world had zero knowledge of but would be adopted for the masses later on. There are countless examples: MCU, Walking Dead, Preacher, Sin City, countless iterations of dark Batman, 300, the brilliant works of Alan Moore, and so on. Of all that he introduced me to, the one that stood out as likely to never be adapted was Neil Gaimans epic epic series Sandman. The primary reason myself, and so many, believed it would (and perhaps SHOULD) remain solely in the graphic novel format was not the incredible visuals...because with CG we can do ANYTHING..but rather the tone and..pun somewhat intended..dreamlike storytelling.

    Welp as with pretty much all existing comic book IP that has a fanbase...we now have a first season take on the first few collections of the comic from Netflix. I sat down to spend a night with ep1 and Dream. I gotta say...i realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly like it. Ill dispense with the knee jerk "oh but the book is better" and stick to: i realllllllly like it. Its dark, mysterious, quiet, brooding, and table setting the story really well. Most off all..and this is a bit of an obvious statement..the casting of Dream is exceptional. So much of his introduction is thru almost expressionless looks but its sooo important. I cant wait to continue the journey.

    One note/critique....and im not the first to make not sure overall how this show will play to newcomers to the material. Its pretty dour/slow out of the gates. By all means i HOPE that loads of new folks find it, but im not sure it will grab people used to more "up" adaptations of obscurish comic material.

    Peace .n. "I throw my grain into the air and I hear it. The sound of wings"