Good weekend to everyone. It was a very productive week for movie-watching, capitalizing on more free time than I expected to have. (Mainly due to the weather.) One of my goals this year is to get back to watching documentaries, which I have always enjoyed but recently got away from. I watched a couple this week and have others in my watch-list. Overall, there was a good variety during the week. I also picked up some titles from Vinegar Syndrome's subscriber week sales. They are releases I had my eye on for a while. MANDALA (1971, dir. Akio Jissoji) on MUBI – During a lustful weekend at an isolated hotel, a young couple are attacked. Mysteriously, that experience creates a desire to return to the location, and they are drawn into a cult. Integrating religion, sexuality, and politics, the agenda of Mandala is not to explain anything. It is deliberately a difficult film to absorb. Odd angles are used frequently, and the photography alternates between color and black-and-white. Much of the sexual content is unsettling, often involving violence. Is it relevant after half a century? Perhaps not, yet Jissoji managed to create hypnotic sequences that awarded my patience. MOON OVER MIAMI (1941. dir. Walter Lang) – Another week, another 20th Century-Fox musical. Betty Grable, Fox’s biggest star of the 1940s, invests a small inheritance into a stay at a fancy Miami hotel. The objective is to find a rich husband before the money runs out. The colors really pop, with the blues and reds being particularly deep. While being a big sex symbol of the era, Betty Grable was also a capable performer. She brought a lot of energy to the musical numbers, which are consistently engaging in Moon Over Miami. As usual, the songs are pretty forgettable. IN LIKE FLINT (1967) – An overlong James Bond parody that is Austin Powers three decades before Austin Powers. James Coburn is Derek Flint: spy, scientist, engineer, ballet dancer, playboy, linguist, etc. He can speak Dolphin. When a group of women plot to overthrow male control over rule the world, he is called into action. Though not a great comedy, In Like Flint does capture the beats of the early James Bond films very well, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek manner. WITCHING AND BITCHING / LAS BRUJAS DE ZUGURRAMURDI (2013, dir. Alex de la Iglesia) on Tubi – Oddly enough, the second film about overthrowing patriarchy watched this week. It is idiosyncratic, a heist film that morphs into a horror comedy and a queer satire. It is almost like Pedro Almodovar making a horror film. Robbers evade the police in Madrid and escape to a rural part of Spain where witches rule. That section with the witches is very over-the-top and frequently surreal. Although the creativity of Witching And Bitching is undeniable, the story gets very messy in the finale. The CGI is not the great, either. Almodovar favorite Carmen Maura shines as the lead witch, ultimately making the film a worthwhile watch for me.
BACK TO THE DRIVE-IN (2023) on Prime – 2020 was a challenging year for many businesses, but it was a big boost for drive-in movie theaters. As a drive-in devotee, I can personally attest to how crazily busy it was that year. This doc captures several drive-ins across the United States as 2021 came around, all adjusting to the inevitable drop in attendance as other entertainment options resumed operation. Being out of the drive-in season now, it was nice to vicariously experience the ambiance of watching movies under the sky. As a doc, however, it has a tendency to ramble around too much, switching from drive-in to another very quickly. BLOOD AND FLESH: THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON (2020) on Tubi – Though a fan of 1960s and ‘70s exploitation, I have not seen many of Al Adamson’s productions. Even by the cheap standards of the day, his films were extremely cheap. This is an entertaining and informative doc about his life and a certain period of cinema. It is a joy to watch, full of anecdotes about no-budget filmmaking and navigating the treacherous movie business. The transformations of the films from one story to another is frequently hilarious. Despite working with little or no pay, everyone had good things to say about Al Adamson, which makes the conclusion such a gut punch. A hearty recommendation.
Hey peeps, hope everyone's weekend has started well!So is it ok to ask... what's happening with F This Movie Fest? Twitter's probably not an option anymore, so... Bluesky? Threads?
Fthismovie still has a twitter account. I only know because I have notifications turned on for it, even though I never open the app. I'm looking forward to another FthismovieFest, whether it's using twitter again for a day, or creating an account on some other platform to participate!
Yo Team! For those affected by the weather: stay safe and warm!!!V For Vendetta (2005 4k Blu)Do y'all have any movies that are favorites and each time you revisit you find more to love? That is 100% the case for this movie with me. Im a HUGE fan of Alan Moore's work and absolutely adore what the Wachowski's did with it here. Originally i was thinking i'd describe it as a sort of dystopian future state "1984 with an anti-hero protagonist superhero" however during this watch i realized that there's nothing 'future' about it. It is a movie with a LOT to say about politics, personal freedoms, lies and subterfuge, personal identity, disinformation, and so much more. "an idea can still change the world" -V
BUBBA HO-TEP (2002). One of the all-time great movie oddities. The folks I watched it with didn't seem to vibe with it, but I like that this one is as sad as it is wacky. THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973). Kicked off the new year with a little of the ol' expanded consciousness. SPACEBALLS (1987). "Hello my baby, hello my darling..."CORPSE BRIDE (2005). Beautiful animation and great music, but the movie doesn't have a proper ending. Should Victor have ended up with the bride, or with Victoria? Would any ending have been satisfying? I don't have an answer either. LIFEFORCE (1985). Tobe Hooper goodness! TRON (1982). It's 2024, and we still can't buy a working, real-life version of David Warner's cool computer desk from the start of the movie. MATILDA (2022). At the end of the day, aren't we all revolting children?
I saw Corpse Bride last October. You are right about the ending not being strong. The Holy Mountain is eternally in my re-watch pile, especially since I picked up the Arrow release.
Brooklyn 45 2023 ★★★★I haven't seen Anne Ramsay, best known to me for Mad About You, in anything in quite a while but good lord does she absolutely shine here as a bunch of friends, just coming out of World War II, meet for the first time in years and old grudges come out, they hold a seance where bad things happen...And then the scary stuff really starts as it becomes less about the supernatural and more about the grief and pain and paranoia and guilt of these people from their WWII experiences. It's a really, really good collection of actors shining and a great continuation of Ted Geoghegan's work from We Are Still Here.
Still not sure how I'm ranking RENFIELD but god, Nicholas Hoult and the rest of this case are just so damn good.
I watched The Age of Innocence (1993, Scorsese) and while romantic period movies might be a genre I don't often dip my toe into, I found it entirely captivating from beginning to end. Just beautifully shot and art decorated and Scorsese is constantly moving the camera around. It's a world where much emotion and thoughts are restrained under the unspoken rules of society. I'm still digesting the ending. It's certainly not trite romance movie (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back).
I also watched Strays (2023) and it was hilarious. I've seen it criticised for being a "vulgar talking dogs and not much more", but I thought it had a little more going on, looking at the difficulty of breaking from abusive relationships. Also, talking dogs! I love talking animal movies.
Destroy All Neighbors (2024 shudder)Quirky/cute love letter to horror-comedy and prog rock. Fun practical gore. Good bit parts and cameos from comedy players.
Rewatch of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (extended edition)Wow these movies are still so awesome. I know generally speaking we hold a “fuck the Oscars” mentality around these parts, but if I’m going to list my top five favorite BP winners, this is most certainly one. Everything about it is tops and I don’t even mind spending the hefty time investment with the longer cut.Top 5 BP winners, btw:Silence of the LambsThe Godfather The ApartmentThe French Connection Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Those titles should technically all have “the” in front of them, but I’m too lazy to fix it now. You know what I meant.
I was just thinking this week how I miss LOTR. I can count the number of fantasy franchises I like on maybe three fingers. LOTR was very earthy.