Saturday, July 6, 2024

Weekend Open Thread


  1. Big Trouble (2002): this was mentioned in the latest Patreon podcast and i remembered liking it back then. I still do. What i forgot is the stacked cast. Everybody who say more than 2 words is somebody you know from another movie, it's impressive. The movie is a bit all over the place, but everybody's seems to be having fun. The "Gator fan" running gag is hella funny.

    UHF (1989): this just came out on 4k, and because i'm an impulsive idiot, and even if i already owned the regular blu-ray, i had to get it. I like weird, absurd and non-sensical movie, and this movie has it in spades. This is one of the funniest thing that came out of the late 80s. The story is fairly simple, a good old "let's do a thing to save the place that's closing because of a rich white guy".

    Willy's Wonderland (2021): since i like spending my money willy nilly (pun intended), i thought i should get this when i got the other one. I just have a ton of fun with this one. Nicolas Cage says a total of 0 words in the whole movie (besides grunting). Also, he's driving a muscle car at the beginning, so that's a bonus just for me.

    Face/Off (1997): holy shit this movie's good. Made me track down a blu-ray of Hard Boiled, which is even awesomer

    Lastly, following the Brats documentary debacle, which i saw the day it came out on streaming, i listened to JB and watched Remembering Gene Wilder (2023). Which prompted me to watch Blazing Saddle and The Producers.

    Speaking of documentary, i watched Who Are You, Charlie Brown? (2021). A charming little doc (54min. On Apple TV+) on Charles Schultz. JB, you'll love it, highly recommended.


    DADDIO (2024, THEATER: 3.75/5)
    KILL (USA/INDIA, 2024 THEATER: 4/5)
    HIJACK 1971 (SOUTH KOREA, 2024, THEATER: 4/5)
    MAXXINE (2024, THEATER: 3.15/5)

    Hi. :-) Typing this at work during break, hopefully if this goes well I might return more semi-frequently.

    Went into "Daddio" knowing nothing about it besides Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson (who also produced it) were the leads. By the end I was so enthralled I'd forgiven Dakota for being in "Madame Web." Yes, "Daddio" is that good! :-P A two-character chamber drama set inside a NYC taxi cab ride from JFK Airport (where I'm currently typing this... yay?) to Midtown Manhattan, "Girlie" and "Clark" talk and reveal intimate details about themselves, their loved ones and their relationships. When Dakota asks Penn if he ever misses his first wife, Sean's facial expressions convey a lifetime of emotions that yield a single repressed tear in his eyes. Acting, it's a beautiful thing when it's done this well by professionals. A great double bill with Tom Hardy's "Locke."

    An Indian/USA co-production (with an English remake already in the works) that jettisons dance numbers for no-nonsense train action/hostage formula, Nikhil Nagesh Bhat's "Kill" is pure exploitation rage distilled into many sub-genres (revenge, action, "Die Hard" on a train, etc.) that works because it gives all its characters (heroes, bad guys and hostages) time to show emotions (grief, denial, etc.) normally reserved for the protagonist. Lakshya is everything Del Patel was trying to be in "Monkey Man" but fell short of: a handsome, romantic bad-ass mofo that refuses to let anger dominate his rescue/fighting instincts... until the principal a-hole baddie (Raghav Juyal's Fani) crosses several lines of decency. Then the mayhem explodes. My jaw kept dropping as "Kill" punished the heroes much more than you'd expect, even as the bodies of the personality-filled thieves trying to hijack the train pile on. Had this released in June it would have been the star of Junesploitation! '24. :-D

    Like 2021's "Emergency Declaration," "Hijack 1971" is an emotionally draining South Korean airplane drama/historical action thriller (based on true events) that at times rivals Paul Greengrass' "United 93." Everyone (including the hijacker) has a moment or backstory beat that makes the 20+ characters on the plane likable, relatable and heroic. Ignore the too-obvious CG effects and you'll be golden. A sleeper of a gem.

    "MaXXXine" has got to be my biggest disappointment of 2024 considering the fertile ground "X" (to which this is a thematic direct sequel) and "Pearl" left for Ti West to keep his Mia Goth train of cool rolling. There are lots of neat 80's-set scenes (video store visit, audition), montages (downtown Hollywood sidewalk entertainers), music choices and characters (Giancarlo Esposito steals the movie whenever he appears), including a handful of giallo homages to Lamberto Bava (not Dario Argento as you might expect), in-your-face violent outbursts and love for behind-the-scenes showbiz lore (the "Psycho" set visit) that don't make watching this a waste of time. And yet this feels like a low-rent "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" circa 1985 (including shooting in some of that Tarantino production's standing sets), complete with a third act so cartoony and tonally disconnected from the first two (acts of "MaXXXine" and previous flicks) it left a bad taste. It's almost like having too much production resources hampers West's and Goth's creative juices, which were overflowing in "X"/"Pearl" but here feel like auto-pilot. For every positive (cool Elizabeth Debicki) there's a negative (OTT Kevin Bacon), and Mia Goth not clicking here as strongly as she did in her other Ti West films is a wet blanket hanging over this one. My opening night crowd ate most of what "MaXXXine" was selling, but I know this actor/director combo are capable of so much more than what they do here. A 2nd viewing is almost mandatory to divest oneself of association with its far-superior brethren. :-(

  3. So, like JM, I'm not ready to end such I accidentally fell into a double feature of devilsploitation:

    Drive Angry (2011)

    Holy shit this is a fun Nic Cage flick. It feels like a true modern attempt to make a grimy grindhouse flick (far moreso than Death Proof) and I'm here for it. Also it features the incredible William Fichtner. Top 5 Cage for me!!

    Petey Wheatstraw 1977

    Discovered Rudy Ray during junesploit. This movie is crazy fun and just crazy. Rudy makes a deal w the devil to get revenge on those that killed him. Fun fun flick!

    Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (2024 nflix)

    Omg...I'm so happy to say that they nailed it! After all these years this feels like a great return to form. I had a blast revisiting w Foley and the gang! The biggest surprise was that I genuinely connected w the obligatory estranged daughter worked and elevated the experience. Most of all it's a lot of fun.


  4. Here are my top five new-to-me picks from this year’s #Junesploitation:

    THE TRIP (1967) Roger Corman’s journey through the world of psychedelia might be plotless and inaccurate, but it’s also visually stylish and, yes, trippy.
    NEXT OF KIN (1982) A spooky haunted house tale that really keeps you guessing, building up to a mind-bending finale.
    BLIND RAGE (1978) An outrageous premise played totally straight. The filmmakers don’t let a tiny budget stop them from delivering big Hollywood thrills. Also, Fred Williamson!
    ROAD GAMES (1981) The rare horror flick in which the characters and dialogue are so compelling, it’d still be a great film without the scares.
    DOOM ASYLUM (1988) I thought I’d seen everything 80s slashers had to offer, and then this miracle dropped into my lap. It’s half meta parody, and half gore-to-the-extreme kills. A must-see for Jason/Michael/Freddy fans.

  5. There is some post-Junesploitation movie fatigue affecting me this week. There were 44 watches - 42 new watches in total- for it plus a couple of nights at the Mahoning Drive-In. It was not until toward the weekend that the desire to watch anything returned. Being at a house (for pet sitting) with access to Netflix, I decided to watch a few things that I normally would not have access to.

    RRR (2022, dir. S.S. Rajamouli) – One of my projects this year is to delve into Indian cinema. I have watched the occasional film, primarily the more serious ones like those of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, but the more popular side of the biggest film industry in the world is largely unknown to me. I remember RRR getting a lot of attention a couple of years ago, so I put it on this weekend. Watching three-hour movies is not the easiest thing for me, but RRR did not make the experience seem long. Set in the 1920s, the story focuses on opposition to the British Raj (the period of British rule over India). There is a lot of action in the film, and both leads are portrayed as fighting supermen. Raju is a policeman in the British security services with ulterior motives, and Bheem is a tribesman trying to get back a young girl taken from his village to work for a British governor. The feats they perform can get very outlandish. The British characters all seem like caricatures, villainous to an extreme degree. They also show extreme contempt towards the Indians they encounter. The final confrontation gets very cartoonish, and the action scenes are very reliant on CGI. Although the CGI was distracting for me, especially to the degree that it was used, I guess I am getting more used to how modern films are made. Unlike some other Indian films I have seen, it was not necessary to do any research to comprehend the story. I had fun with RRR.

    BEVERLY HILLS COP: AXEL F (2024) – I was curious about how this would work. Though it does not break any new ground, Axel F is an entertaining sequel. All of the beats of a Beverly Hills Cop film are there, and Eddie Murphy shows that he still has some of the charm that made him a movie star four decades ago. Kevin Bacon’s Gates is maybe a little too villainous from the outset, and the Serge segment goes on too long. (Rob mentioned that in his review.) It should please fans of the franchise.

    The other thing I watched was a documentary about the professional wrestler Ric Flair, NATURE BOY (2017). Though I was never much of a wrestling fan growing up, and what I did watch was what is now the WWE, I was always aware of Flair. Even for non-wrestling fans this might have some interest.

    As I mentioned, there were a couple of nights at the drive-in last month. I saw Boogie Nights and a double feature commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Mahoning Drive-In. The double feature was the original Jurassic Park, the first screening of its 35mm era, and the first film that was ever shown there in 1949, a musical called April Showers. Watching an obscure 1940s musical on the big screen was a treat because that is likely not to happen again. Moreover, the print of April Showers was pristine.

    Anybody looking at the physical media sales going on this month? Kino Lorber, Vinegar Syndrome, Criterion, and Severin (next weekend). I picked up a few VS titles this week, and I might get a Severin box set for the half-off day next Saturday. There are a few tempting releases for the Kino sale, but I will likely hold off on those. I cannot spend much for this purpose right now.

    1. ACL: If you're ever up for a repeat viewing of RRR, I highly suggest a cinema screening. The amplification of sight and especially sound (it's one of the loudest films I've seen) really adds to the experience. Plus, the audience really gets into it. There's a theater near my place that play's it once every month or two, and the crowd cheers and hisses and applauds. It's a great time!

    2. I often recommend Patrick H Willems on youtube. He did a video on RRR, then did a 90min video on Indian cinema. Both highly recommended

    3. I can see why RRR would be fun with a crowd. It certainly is loud. I wonder if the original Telugu version is available somewhere.

      I picked up some Bollywood films at a Salvation Army store that I want to get to. A couple of Shah Rukh Khan films are coming up.

  6. Hi FTM!
    I haven't watched many new movies lately. Kinda tired of the old ones but not sure which new ones I want to try (to *commit* to trying). I was checking out Tony Curtis filmography and first-time watched TRAPEZE (1956) recently. I loved it. It feels like a small movie, but so solid. Burt Lancaster,Tony Curtis, and Gina Lollobrigida play 3 parts of a trapeze act in a Paris circus and they get all tangled up mixing love with business and ambition. Lancaster and Curtis have great chemistry. I read Lancaster was first considered for THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS because of his chemistry with Curtis in this movie. I like that they show some of the brutality in entertainer life that looks glamorous from the outside and just desperate from the inside.

    KRISTY MCNICHOL OMG. She breaks my heart. Makes you relive the disillusionment of bad experiences with first loves in HS all over again. I think Claire Danes is known as the best crier in movies, but I don't think anyone can break hearts like Kristy McNichol.

    1. What kind of "new movies" are you looking for, Meredith? The Hollywood studio period, foreign films, or ones that are current? I am always trying to find something different to watch. Being a genre fan, there are plenty of cinematic avenues I have not explored. If you are more interested in mainstream films, particularly of a certain period of time, it is possible to exhaust worthwhile new watches. The deeper you go into movies, the more the quality of what is left to watch can go down.

    2. Hello Casual! I think because I've become a lazy movie PICKER, I go for old Hollywood studio mainstream movies now. It's true; sometimes I'll watch several of them and find myself saying "of all of these, no wonder only 'that one' was a success".

      And that's weird because IF and WHEN I do end up watching a well-reviewed new (present day) release, I usually love it; I'm SO glad I gave it a chance. I even feel like it was time well spent. But there's just...I don't know! So many to choose from? I haven't figured out how to filter because I'm PICKEH now.