Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cherry, Harry & Raquel - 1970 - Dir. Meyer

I think I had filed this Meyer flick away in my brain because it's the first one with Charles Napier in it. I don't know WHY that information was important to me... but it was. I think maybe because I feel like Charles Napier should be in EVERY Russ Meyer movie. He's like a more talented David Aiken (Don't worry, he was in NO movies). Certainly has a bigger jaw. You wanna know why I like Russ Meyer flicks? Because apart from breasts, I never have any idea what I'm going to get. That's not to say he comes up with brilliant ideas... Well, if you get me in the right mood, they are brilliant, but he certainly comes up with some wacky shit. In this film, for example, he starts out with some scrolling text and a montage of industry and naked women. The text is sort of about thinking for yourself, its a little tough to follow because GIANT BOUNCING BREASTS make it tough to read. I mean, the ending of this movie was just so STRANGE. Some may say stupid... but I'm not gonna treat Russ Meyer like that. That man has an idea of what he's doing. It's just the STRANGEST idea. His editing is really a ton of fun to watch though. So I barely spoke about the film itself. It's his first film after Vixen... so the breasts aren't gigantic and he shows some respect to plot. I movie is only 70 minutes long so its a breeze to watch and probably a lot more fun than many of his others. A particular gem is the climactic lesbian dance/snuggle sequence cut with the hyper masculine fight scene. And as usual, we get a nice little voice over with a montage of the film we just watched explaining each and every character. God bless you, Mr. Meyer!

Sex in the sand! Great I'm watching Woman in the Dunes- Oh wait...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

George Washington - 2000 - Dir. Green

I hate to say that I couldn't stop thinking about Pineapple Express for the bulk of the film. Which really is just ridiculous. This film is nothing like Pineapple Express. But I guess, that was the point, trying to connect the two. Maybe now a few more of Pineapple's scenes make a bit more sense now. I can see Green, so to speak, hanging around both movies. So... what about George Washington? It's one of the those movies that it's really difficult to pin down. Immediately after I finished watching it, I wanted to know more. It's seemed very free to express itself. Sort of changing shape as the movie progresses. The kind of indefinable quality is terribly attractive for me. I really did feel like the movie could take me anywhere. I hate to say it this way, but the film has a very strong presence. It's not an outrageous film, by any means. But, I suppose, unexpected. It threw a lot of curveballs. Like the man sticking his tongue out at the end. And I really liked the adults... their child-likeness was a ton of fun to watch and compare to the children's own strange kind of maturity. Like the first scene where its the two kids breaking up and it feels like you're watching two incredibly mature grown-ups doing so. I was kind of waiting for the movie to dip into tragedy but the film stays too grounded for that. And there's especially a lot of places for the film to become tragic... keeping a really nice tension for a good bulk of the film. I'm curious how I will think of this film as it ages in my memories. It certainly beats Mishima as a film to chew on. PAUL SCHNEIDER!

Raptor's are so easily embarrassed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters - 1985 - Dir. Schrader

I'm usually not one for biopics. I have trouble really concentrating on them much of the time, thinking about context mostly. I sort of knew that Mishima wasn't your usual biopic but I didn't really know why. So, YES. I did like Mishima... but I don't know just how much. That is to say, I'm not sure if I've enjoyed it fully yet. It's put together in a terribly interesting way, structurally. I got a real kick out of it. The idea of having the story told in three ways isn't exactly new. We see either Mishima in 1970, within that a series of flashbacks, as well as sorta theatrical versions of three of his works. But that way Schrader combines the three and his execution makes this stand out. It's a very focused on structure just as saaayy: THE PHILIP GLASS SCORE. OMG! Schrader is more interested, it seems, in portraying the theme of the Man than his life. Indeed, we don't learn a whole lot about the man. Factually at least. The film is almost completely interested in theme rather than plot or events. Which makes it a terribly interesting perspective of the man. Not only that but the film is working with destruction, the link between art and action, aesthetics, samurai honor, the power of words, and HARAKIRI! So we get to see such topics thrown around with Schrader's perfectly hallucinogenic visuals or KEN OGATA'S sweet-ass Mishima.

I'm always wondering what the hell that blue thing is.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro - 1979 - Dir. Miyazaki

It had been a while since I got all with the Lupin III business, so I was a little bit rusty. Not that there is really a lot to remember in the Lupin series. I'm just saying, It had been a while. I had completely forgotten about Goemon. Whose pretty awesome. Apparently, this is the most well-known of the Lupin films, perhaps because Miyazaki (who worked on the series) got his grubby little fingers in it. His mark is definitely left on the film, whether it's the beautiful castle scenery or the fact that everything wiggles a little bit more than you would expect (Lottawigglin). The story is paced a little slowly, I remember being shocked about half way through that I was only halfway through the movie. Lupin is definitely a little bit more of a gentleman than I remembered him being. He takes on the role of Knightly Thief pretty early on in the film and doesn't drop it. He's still a ton of fun and all what with his general wackiness. There's even the inevitable team up of Zenigata and Lupin as they head off against a big douchebaggery committing count. The voice acting is okay. Honestly, I don't expect too much from the series as far as voice acting is concerned. It's a pretty silly show, so the stilted acting meshes probably a lot better than a decent bunch of actors. They seem to know this too. It's not like they're accidentally crappy or anything. There's a ton of fun sequences with ninja's with bladed arms and fingers that are kick ass to watch. I mean, its what you would basically expect from a Lupin movie... except with a touch of early Miyazaki hanging around.

Lupin III driving around his money around.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hang 'em High - 1968 - Dir. Post

This is going to be my last western for a while, probably. I've basically cleared my entire Netflix queue of them. It's time to move on to new projects. After all, my own western is coming to a close. There's no significance really to Hang 'Em High being the last film, I've seen. It basically was the last movie in my queue left unseen. It was okay. Apparently, it was attempting to make a kind of American Spaghetti western, which trying to figure out specifically what that could imply gives me some kind of headache. It was an all right movie. A little let down by the premise, I mean, Clint Eastwood survives a hanging and goes after the Vigilante group that accused him by becoming a Law Man (again). Clint Eastwood huntin' motherf-ers! How can that go wrong?! But it's not really much of a vengence story. It really does want to go about being a film that (sorta) examines Justice with Pat Hingle playing a major role of Eastwood's boss and a notorious "Hanging Judge." PLUS, we have a sudden romance blossom in the third act which I could have gone without. I mean... it feels pretty friggin' tacked on. Eastwood starts kissing with twenty minutes left in the film and six mofos to kill. So you know you're not getting the bloodbath that you were sold in the beginning. I think that's what was misfiring with me, I didn't really want to see a good part of what the film wanted to show me. It's not awful. I don't know, it wasn't selling it for me. Dennis Hopper has a really strange cameo, which could have very well been Hopper sneaking on set and interrupting the shoot. But the film has MORE than enough Bruce Dern. I had tons of fun watching young Bruce Dern, who was always a nasty sonuvabitch apparently. But if you like Bruce Dern, see it! If not, eh... you could probably miss this one.

This image file has damaged edges because the file is so old. Naturally a picture taken during the Old West experiences some wear and tear.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Zachariah - 1971 - Dir. Englund

Maybe I'm being a little too tough on Zachariah, but I also think that this movie was terribly lame. I'm a little curious as to how this movie got made, who's baby it was, but I also don't really care that much. :p It's boring... I believe is the thing. I so badly wanted it to be over so early on in the picture. Strangely enough, I can basically support almost everything the movie does... just not the way it does it. It's got a lot of subtext, supports solitary lifestyles, tosses around some classy references, anachronisms, camp, gay cowboys/best friends, and a nice does of psychedelia. It's even a pretty cool looking movie. But, man, I don't know, it's awfully dull. Silly but not exciting. Not silly enough a lot of the time. VERY bad character arcs. We have very little notion why any character does anything WHICH I have no problem with, as long as we're not expected to give a damn. But the movie wants us to give a damn. It wants to make its point, and it's going to drag these characters on inexplicably until it gets to the end. Don Johnson's final revelation was something that I would have written back in high school. HELL, I probably did. It's like if in the end of Alien, instead of Ripley firing it out the hatch, the Alien just left the ship and Ripley went back home. NOT THE BEST COMPARISON, but hell... I'm the only one reading this. Oh, and those two guys down there. Those are our tough gunslingers. That's like having Jason Biggs as the Man With No Name. NO ONE in this movie looks like they're from the Wild West. Well, maybe Country Joe and Fish do. Oh, and almost everyone in this fucking movie is in a band or some musical person. It's one of those movies.

I hope I never find a larger version of this picture... I don't know why. It just feels NOT RIGHT.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Wages of Fear - 1953 - Dir. Clouzot

The Wages of Fear I knew primarily because of its remake Sorcerer... which I hadn't seen either. I knew the premise was about Men driving trucks of Nitro Glycerin through South America and could blow up at anytime. Which I suppose was all I really needed to know. MEN DOING DANGEROUS THINGS, is the name of the game in the film. It's a 1950's french movie though, so it's two and a half hours long. I mean, this isn't friggin' Phone Booth or anything. We get like a nice hour of setting up the characters, then they're off on the trucks. I can't say it's an incredible movie. It's like if Speed's 1st Act was all about Keanu Reeves and all of the various feelings he has. Except done capably. When they're actually in the trucks, it's tense. IT'S INTENSE! I was definitely "at the edge of my seat" waiting for some trucks to blow up. They drive through intensely rocky roads, oil slicks, over mountains. There's no lack of shit to get in their way. One of the trucks DOES make it. The man stumbles towards a great Oil Well Fire. Watching explosions grow out of the flames. And THAT was collapsing. The character sees what kept him afraid and it is fucking epic. I mean, talking 1950's France. Those were some fucking explosions. I mean, the film sets itself up and the characters are well rounded. It was fun to watch. It's most definitely slow... but fun.

It's Mario and Luigi! Oh wait... technically, it's Luigi and Mario. Stupid Clouzot got it backwards!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Name is Nobody - 1974 - Dir. Valeril

I have no idea how My Name is Nobody ended up on my queue. But it was a western and I figured I might as well watch it. MAN! It was a great idea! Not only did it have a bitchin' score by Ennio Morricone but it was good fun too! The movie's story telling might have been a little weak or goofy at times. A little uneven, especially when you get right down character motivation. I feel like at the end, everything makes a little bit more sense, but as I worked my way through the film, I found it a little bit of a struggle. The film, however, has a lot of neat metaphors and themes running through it. Especially the faceless "Wild Bunch" roving around haunting Fonda. The movie is a bit of a slap-stick comedy. Terrence Hill does most of the grunt work and he's certainly entertaining. There's one sequence in a Public urinal that's just ridiculous and is basically just men making faces at each other. The film is also about the adoration of Fonda's character by Hill. A Jesse James type situation. Hill's has significantly less depth but from a western comedy, what can we really expect. Morricone's score is probably my favorite aspect of the film though. Nobody's theme is just fucking awesome. The film is impressive enough looking, there's a few scenes shot by Sergio Leone as well. But Valeril definitely holds his own.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vera Cruz - 1954 - Dir. Aldrich

So looking over the westerns I've watched, it appears two me that I have only watched TWO westerns made before the 1960's (One of which being Vera Cruz, the other is High Noon). I've never seen a John Wayne movie. I think at some level this is purposeful. I generally wasn't interested in Westerns until about my Junior or Senior year of college. And this only arose specifically with Spaghetti Westerns. I suppose, I like the unAmerican western. The acid western, of course, why else would I have set off on my Acid Western craze. I'm not sure I can really say that Vera Cruz is a terribly traditional western though. There's a great deal of cynicism and some pretty casual violence, although next to no bloodshed. I really like Aldrich though, when I realized he directed it, I got a little more excited for the film. Kiss Me Deadly has got to be one of my more favorite film noirs. There's a nice and healthy amount of backstabbing in the film, or plotting to back stab. Cooper and Lancaster's "friendship" is a delicate one from the start. I was pretty involved in the film, hoping to figure out what was going to happen and I always like it when a movie gets me doing that. Both characters could be pretty villainous at times, and it grew difficult to figure out who was going to come out on top, or even if they could possibly work together. The film skirted the line between good and bad. Even with the generally kind, Cooper, he had enough of a reason to steal the gold, so it always seemed a little possible that he might. I was disappointed, however, how traditionally it ended. I was hoping for something a little less straight-forward and did a little more justice to the build-up. However, there was a lot of neat gun play and actually a lot of funny dialogue on the way there. I liked it very much!

Gary Cooper is SOOO jealous of Burt's teeth.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Hired Hand - 1971 - Dir. Fonda

So, I guess, The Hired Hand won be over, originally, I was all about it cause the opening sequence was awesome and the Score was thoroughly sweet. Then as the film proceeded, I dunno, I got a little tired of all the cross-fades and transitions. The film's cinematography was AWESOME! but the editing was getting a little tedious and the story seemed to be struggling to get anywhere. THEN IT DID and I was won over again. All right, now I'm gonna chuck my four years of writing school at ya. So Peter Fonda, husband, abandons his family for the life of a drifter eventually meeting up with Warren Oates (whose awesome but that doesn't really need to be said). Seven years pass, Fonda returns home with Warren. There's a kind of clash here though, because Warren represents everything Fonda left home for, the open wilderness and all. Fonda wants to be a family man. Revert back to his married self. And Warren eventually leaves, hitting the open road again. So Fonda picks up where he left off until his past naturally comes back to haunt him and he has to save Oates. Fonda dies in the process and Oates returns to Fonda's home. To perhaps become the man Fonda tried to be. Now, why did I just ruin the whole movie here? Well, because I think what might have become my favorite part was the thought that Oates were basically two halves of the same fella. Oates represented his wandering side. The two men were intensely similar and in the end, almost were living the same life. Fonda wanted to be someone he couldn't be anymore, who he was. It's not a battle between two sides, the two men didn't conflict, but we knew both of them couldn't be around. So the movie is a little predictable. Fonda definitely had to die the story isn't going to catch anyone by surprise. But the movie has plenty of interesting undertones, hot music, and good looks! :0


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Outlaw Josey Wales - 1976 - Dir. Eastwood

Clint Eastwood knows how to make movies. I'm not really sure how he picked it up. It's old news, but he seems to be quite good at it, as well. He seems innately to know what a story needs, how to tell it, and how to make us care. He's clever, funny, and knows how to dish out the action as well. I've never seen a Eastwood production that struck me as bad. Granted, I haven't seen a ton of his movies (Let's remember that), but my point is is that he's a competent, humble filmmaker. And that's all well and good and The Outlaw Josey Wales is a good movie. Eastwood gunslingin' around, collecting a band of people, being chased by the Union (who are fucks), and being a generally mysterious fellow. But I don't know. Eastwood's story-telling sometimes just feels TOO right. Too well oiled. He's good at making Oscar-type movies. God is he good at it. But I never get wrapped up in the style or the look of his films. I'm never taken away by his characters. I don't feel terribly passionate about any one film. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like he's taking risks with style. Maybe he doesn't want to. He's a straight-forward guy very much. The Union IS the bad guy in this, that is most certainly a risk and story-wise, he always finds something to stand out from the pack but I need more. So yeah, I enjoyed The Outlaw Josey Wales, will I remember it? Eh, couldn't say.
The Ever Indecisive Eastwood can't decide where to shoot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Love You, Man - 2009 - Dir. Hamburg

Hey, whatever, man. It's not a western. I TOOK A BREAK! Anyway, so I watched another Paul Rudd movie. I wanted to see him smile and dance around like a big stupid asshole. Paul Rudd sort of acts in this one, or maybe he acts less. Either way, he does more than just make smart-ass comments the entire time. He's actually kind of an uncomfortable doof in this movie. Sometimes, it was almost hard to watch! That's how embarrassing he could be. Even he's embarrassed by himself. Although the novelty of Rudd being something other than a cynical douche is fun at first, it runs old pretty quickly. We can only watch him say a nonsensical word and then curse himself for being so uncool so many times. Despite this, I laughed a lot more than I thought I would. I think a lot of this has to do with the supporting players. The ever-entertaining JK Simmons is great in his few scenes. Guy From Reno-911 was also terrific, again, in his few scenes. Jon Favreau might have been my favorite part. Everytime he was in the movie, I was excited for what he might do. Which was nothing. The man grumbles through the whole movie and its hilarious. WHAT A BUTT! Jason Segal is all right, I suppose. I might say he was more fun to watch than Rudd. He has really sharp comic timing. Doesn't really ever ham it up to much. He throws a way more natural performance our way than the somewhat smug Rudd. It made for a somewhat interesting dynamic because Rudd, the straight guy, was a more off the way than Segal. Like Rudd is so straight that it's hilarious. Making root beer floats for the ladies with little Pirrouette straws. That shit's ridiculous! Rashida Jones does justice to the Fiance-type character, which is usually a pretty lame character. She often doesn't really have many jokes and is kind of there just to create conflict. Often times, this character comes off as just plain annoying, getting in the way of the movie's fun. She might be the most likable (read: reasonable) character in the whole film, having a basic sense of life. She's a very capable character, not prone to hysterical freakouts many other characters in. Sure, she walks out at a point, but fucking Rudd was asking for it. Like, we want Rudd to marry Jones in the movie. And not just because she's adorable. And I was happy that saying "I Love You, Man" wasn't a focal point for the film. A movie that was probably about as funny as I would have expected.

DUCK! They see us!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dirty Little Billy - 1972 - Dir. Dragoti

I was trying to place Michael J. Pollard throughout the entire movie. I guess, I just recognized him from Tango & Cash but the bastard must have been in plenty of other movies. He plays a young Billy the Kid. I wasn't sure how sure we were supposed to be of the character being Billy the Kid. I mean, I know the tagline was Billy the Kid was a Punk but apart from that... I mean, nothing in the movie really clues you off. I guess, I was a little puzzled by the film. Consistently trying to figure out it's deal. It has a pretty bitchin' score and, honestly, Pollard is a ton of fun to watch. He's a shumbly fellow, muttering and cutting himself off. He's a really neat young Billy. Not exactly shy, not exactly a psycho. But you know there's something special about him. The idea behind the film is interesting. It's a bit of an origin story, which is a little interesting I suppose. And there's a ton of mud in it. I'm afraid I didn't find it terribly engrossing by any means, but I enjoyed watching it. There's a kind of pseudo-homosexual undertone between Goldie and Billy. But I wasn't sure if I felt that the film had a lot of charisma behind it. I wasn't sure if I really cared what happened to Billy. Or Goldie or anyone. It had an interesting idea behind the population of cities and the drive to become respectable. But I don't know how fully it paid off. The film certain DOES have a pay off when Billy shoots the f- out of some dicks. And man, that does feel good to see the man do what he will begin to do well. Visually, it really comes together what with the muddy city, it's certainly an interesting enough backdrop.

OH MAN! That lady is totally out drinking Michael J. Pollard!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jeremiah Johnson - 1972 - Dir. Pollack

Wow... there are a lot of soldiers and gay models named Jeremiah Johnson. Or maybe it's just one guy who is ALL OVER the internet. It's also the name of a great movie directed by Sidney Pollack. I've been watching almost exclusively westerns these days as the writing of my own Western comes to a close. Jeremiah wasn't so much of a Western as it was a Mountain Man tale. AND WHAT A TALE IT WAS! This movie was actually tons of fun and really engaging as well. It's one of those sneaky movies that you don't even realize that there's barely any dialogue in it. Apparently Redford only has like 30 lines. The last movie that did that was... well... It's was Sweet Sweetback, which isn't exactly the same thing. But it's kind of incredible how some movies can have such a small amount of dialogue but not feel that way. The film also made me think about American cinema in the 70s and basically how bitchin' it was. Maybe I'm just being a little biased but the classic cinema that emerged definitely has a specific feel. I don't know... Either way, I really enjoyed watching the movie. It features a beautiful Utah landscape and is just kind of a neat, straight-forward tale which most certainly has its corny moments but the pacing makes it feel a little more earned. When the film suddenly takes a blood-thirsty turn, I was all "SWEET!" although I really should have expected it. I guess I just didn't expect the man to start a family and then have it taken away AND THEN seek vengence. I think its a big opposite from the Moillet films where I liked them more as I write about them though. Jeremiah Johnson is a pretty formulaic film which has a completely abosrbing atmosphere moving it forward and which is what helped this movie win me over. And hell, Robert Redford is SWEET to watch grow a beard.

YO! That bear is totally checking out Redford's package!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - 2007 - Dir. Dominik

I don't really know what I held against Casey Affleck. But I remember that being one of the primary reasons for not really wanting to see the film. I think I was just confusing him with Scott Caan... or maybe I had had enough of the Affleck family what with Ben running around... doing Ben Affleck things. Well, either way, I was unfair. Casey Affleck's a pretty badass actor. Well, not badass, Robert Ford is NOT a badass. Affleck knew how to play the poor wormy fella. And really gave him so much depth that I felt bad calling him wormy just then. I mean, I like Brad Pitt, but Pitt totally doesn't catch anyone by surprise. He's just great. He's a great actor. And I love his stupid insane laugh. It's the STOOPIDEST! I was a little turned off by the length originally, even though the cast is OUTSTANDING. It really is a sweet cast, and it better be, because this is not a western with a lot of action. It's a crazy psychological drama. Ford kills the man he admired since he was a child. Affleck really runs us through a gamut of emotions, making the two hour forty minutes production very gripping. I wasn't bored for a moment. I feel like we spend most of the picture trying to pierce these two characters, who are constantly a little out of reach. The film is shot beautifully... ALL THE TIME. Which I can appreciate... but it can be so tough... I get a little mad when a movie is beautiful all the time. I suppose Dominik must have a touch of Mallick in him because I had no issue with the IMMENSE MAJESTY of the film. Maybe because one of the first sequences is the train robbery. WHICH LOOKS RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME. Also Sam Shepard is in it, and he's awesome. So is Sam Rockwell. They are both awesome guys. Oh, I also really liked Paul Schneider as Dick Liddil. I know that actor sort of pops up now and then. But he was great!

Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt... that's an all right duo. But Casey Affleck and Scott Caan? Now THAT'S ACTING!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ride in the Whirlwind - 1966 - Dir. Hellman

Ride in the Whirlwind was directed back-to-back with The Shooting, sharing many similarities with cast, setting, and crew. It feels like a little bit of a classier production, perhaps because it seemed to have less conflicts during the production itself but I wouldn't know, I'm just an idiot. It's certainly not as visually impressive. And there's not really any OH MY GOD NICHOLSON IS A GOOFY/GREAT ACTOR moments. BUT: It does feature Harry Dean Stanton. Upon realizing this fact, I watched the film immediately. And I got a bearded Rupert Crosse as a bonus. NICE! The film is quite a bit more engaging than The Shooting, I feel. But I'd like to stop comparing the two. I was constantly trying to see where it was going. Held me in suspense. A chase movie, where two innocent cowboys (Nicholson and Mitchell) are trying to outrun some nasty vigilantes after being confused for gang members of Blind Dick (of course played by Dean Stanton). I sort of liked how the cowboys may have been wrongly accused, but their fight for survival was very real. They were clearly moral gentlemen, but they set their morals aside for a bit. The film is actually a little absent of morals. No one is completely awful, everyone is just doing what they can to survive. The exception is the mob of vigilantes out for justice, who are pretty much dicks. Even Dean Stanton ends up being a nice enough guy. Not a great guy. But there's a line where one of his henchmen is complaining about a pain or some kind of sore and Stanton tells him he should get it looked at or taken care of. He shows these funny moments of sympathy. Letting the cowboys stay the night despite fearing a trap. Ride the Whirlwind is an engaging enough western. I was never really bored while watching it. It may not stand out but certainly worth of the eighty minutes it'll take to watch it.

Rupert Crosse may have been in Shadows but I'll always remember him as having a BADASS FUCKING BEARD!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bad Company - 1972 - Dir. Benton

Continuing my goal of watching every Acid Western mentioned in the Wikipedia article that I can "Netflix," I have now viewed Bad Company starring Jeff Bridges and Barry Brown. At first, I was pretty skeptical of the whole movie. It felt a little bit like a somber Disney-esqe western. Mostly due to the fact that the beginning of the movie is a mostly harmless rag-tag gang of thieves/young boys. And there's plenty of tomfoolery to be found. Although, I definitely should have known better to have insulted the movie in such a way. It creates a very innocent bubble that we can exist inside of, where to a degree, we are fooled by the characters into thinking that things are going to be all right. But things are not all right, as they head west, bad things happen. The film is never very blatant. Letting events speak for themselves, rarely undercutting it with music or any kind of bias. I'm not going to avoid spoilers, and I want to mention that when the ten year old Boog gets his head blown off. I was actually really fucking shocked. There's violence in the film, but until that point, it's rather petty. Jeff Bridges plays the "leader" of the gang who soon finds himself a little in over his head but the film follows Dixon (Barry Brown) who refrains from really committing any serious crimes. Brown is actually a really great actor letting the subtext of his character constantly simmer. I was actually pretty bummed when I found out he killed himself five years after the film came out. Bad Company is a subtle western. I can see why it hasn't really found a place. There's nothing about it that is particularly striking right off the bat. It sinks in. It is a beautiful film both visually and thematically... but it is also a quiet one.

Even Zeb over there is a little disappointed how hard it was to find a screenshot of this movie... and this is the one I find...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Girl Is A Gun - 1971 - Dir. Moullet

And less than 24 hours later, I see A Girl Is A Gun (SWEET TITLE!) another one of Moullet's features. I think I liked The Smugglers better... I THINK. I'm not exactly sure. They are both very similar featuring gratuitous running around in a desert/chase sequences. The Smugglers seems to have a lot of nice individual moments while A Girl Is A Gun feels like a stronger movie in general. I suppose that is the point that I feel I want to make about Moullet, having seen two of his movies. His movies are kind of purposeful failures in some sense. Like movies TRYING to be other movies but they can't quite cut the mustard. Like the characters aren't driven enough, or smart enough to pull through their plans. The story inevitably gets side-tracked by any old thing. A thrilling chase becomes a romantic attraction. Moullet seemed to try hard to work within his limitations of budget to make something that feels pretty original in some sense. I mean, this is definitely French New Wave, no doubt about. Oh! And Donnelle/Guy from La Chionese plays who I'm assuming is Billy the Kid (we don't ever get a proper introduction by any means). He's a scrawny guy. I watched the English dub because Moullet said with the dub he wanted to try and replicate the shabbiness of American genre films. I think that's what has really sold Moullet for me. SHABBINESS! He's definitely a little shabby. But Leaud's dub was purposefully manlier than Leaud (a skinny frenchman) appears. I mean, that's just silly. And it's fun! You know, I have fun Moullet. And A Girl Is A Gun has a totally bitchin' psychedelic score. The movie does a good job of getting progressively sillier too. Actually the same goes for The Smugglers. I feel like movies like them have a tendency to fizzle out but both of those movies sort of throw us a nice curveball that generally amps up the film in general.

Billy the Kid famously stole his pants from Beetlejuice.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Smugglers - 1967 - Dir. Moullet

I had never heard of Luc Moullet before. I read about A Girl Is a Gun and the film came on a double feature with The Smugglers, which I watched first because it was listed first on the DVD. The man is a French New Wave director who never really hit it terribly big. Smugglers is his second feature following the tale of a customs agent who has assembled a smuggling operation with two ladies. Naturally, being french, he gets romantic with both of them. The women don't really know how to react when they learn about each other. Sometimes they try and kill one another, sometimes not. Generally the film gives in to French New Wave randomness pretty quickly. A good portion of the film involves the two women chasing each other/escaping with each other from the SMUGGLERS UNION and the government. Another portion involves the trio quitting the life of smuggling to persue the GRAND ADVENTURE of City Life working in an office. I mean, it's fun in the French New Wave-y way, a bit less pretentious than a lot of the films of that time. More prone to general silliness, as well. I didn't particularly laugh out loud by any means, but the movie is clever. And you also can to watch Francoise Vatel run around in a bikini a lot. And that lady has a lot of pluck and is quite shapely. ;) There's also a pretty adorable sequence of her BRAVELY making hot cocoa at her desk. As I look back on the film, I'm feeling quite fond towards it. At one point, they throw everything they own into a river. Later on in the film, they regret this and get everything back. It's told with a voiceover and we see footage of the stuff flowing down the river reversed. I mean, a movie that pulls that stunt has got some good ideas in my book. Also ladies wandering the desert mumbling nonsense is awesome. It really does move quite slowly, but I was still surprised the movie was only eighty minutes long. But I think the pacing made me a little critical of it. It's a fun movie to watch. I'm interested in A Girl Is A Gun but moreso in Bridgette and Bridgette which features Vatel as one of the Bridgettes.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Mutant Chronicles - 2009 - Dir. Hunter

Having to keep my Thomas Jane streak going, I saw Mutant Chronicles. Mutant Chronicles is a stupid awful piece of crap with no redeeming value in any way shape or form. It is irredeemable. Thomas Jane doesn't even have any kids in the movie! Maybe that's why he's so sad, he has nothing to base his life upon. Oh and John Malkovich has a few scenes in the movie. It's pretty awful. Ron Perlman is a ridiculous mutant fighting monk. Who is also Scottish sometimes. The special effects are SOOOO bad. Oh, and you know? We only get ONE type of Mutant. And we meet that Mutant, right away. What's the fun in that? It's insane and has a blade for an arm? And stabbing guys is ALL IT DOES? So, I'm going to be in for a lot of low budget stabbing. MAN! I don't think Simon Hunter really knows how to direct a movie. Like there's no aspect of the movie that doesn't look like it was done ineptly. And man, it set up a sequel. Or maybe just a real bummer ending.

I have no kids to want back!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Mist - 2007 - Dir. Darabont

I'm consistantly torn about how I feel about Stephen King. I spent a good deal of my teenage years readin' the bastard. And Man... he can write. It's not secret that his movies don't really hold up as well as his novels/novella/free-form poetry do. I think that is kind of a testament to how good a writer he is. He gets a sweet premise and sells it to us so well that we neglect to laugh when his lesser ideas get tossed out way. Like aliens causing all the weird crap. Or dimensional rifts and whatnot. We just don't seem to buy those things in films really though. Or maybe it has to do with- Well, I feel like I could be on this subject all day. Either way, Frank Darabont seems to have a good sense of what to do with King's work. If you don't think he does GREAT adaptations, the very least, he does GOOD adaptation. And The Mist belongs up in that arena. It's a good movie. Special effects are decent. The tentacles were a little goofy looking but really, that's it. ALTHOUGH I could have totally used MORE tentacles despite them not looking as good as the insect monsters and the giant vague beasts that roam the later part of the movie. The movie does basically everything it should and it does it well. We get Marcia Gay Harden being a bitchy out of control religious lady, Thomas Jane, who is a stand-up dad. Let me just say, I love Thomas Jane. He is a man who acts. It's a vague love of Thomas Jane... but I'm always willing to see how the man handles himself in a situation. He's never exactly super brave or intelligent or talented. Generally terrible things happen to him ALL THE TIME. But he seems to manage. Although the real stand-out in the movie was Toby Jones, who gives the impression that he'd be a whiny bitch through and through but is basically a HUGE BADASS in the film. If there's every any kind of badassery that occurs, Toby Jones is the one in charge. Since the movie is really more about what these people do when locked in together rather than how these people free themselves, it was kind of neat that the movie didn't just throw the handsome Jane in the forefront of all tasks manly and let us be surprised by who was courageous and who just sucked. Apart of Gay Harden's necessary antagonism, the movie does a good job of not pigeonholing anyone too severely. The Mist does what it needs to with flying colors: keeps us guessing, keeps us interested, and respects us. It's not brilliant. But it's a nice way to spend 2 plus hours. Yeah, that's right... it's a little long.

I'm Thomas Jane and I just want my kids back!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Passion of Joan Of Arc - 1928 - Dir. Dreyer

It's a big famous movie, ya know? They never showed it to me in college but they sure did talk about it a lot. I remember seeing a clip and have been able to recognize Maria Falconetti's famously sour puss since then. I mean, the movie is all about faces, BIG EMOTIONAL FACES. Dreyer uses close-ups for a good percentage of the film, and man, does he know how to work them. A silent film with little dialogue, we're left with these faces, and hell, I was transfixed. Even the set is fairly sparse, most shots end up being a character's face on white. When an object is in the frame, it's placed with visible care. I could watch Falconetti emote for a full two hours and have NO issues with that. NONE AT ALL. Her disintegration is beautiful to watch. And her freakishly glassy eyes were mesmerizing. Dreyer actually throws a lot of bitchin' camera work our way as well. A lot of nice push-ins. Since it was the heyday of cinema, the acting is theatrical, but I dunno, it fits in so well with the rest of piece. The somewhat nameless and VERY repulsive cast of judges and theologians play the role of AWFUL FUCKING FUCKS to a T. I mean, if watching faces emote REALLY WELL sounds like a thing you might enjoy, go ahead! Also Artaud was in it. What the fuck is he doing there in the 15th Century?!

Joan of Arc's famously unsuccessful impersonation of the Burger King.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coraline - 2009 - Dir. Selick

I was kind of disappointed in Coraline. I dunno. I'm not really sure what I was expecting. Well, I suppose since the reviews were so positive. And it sure did LOOK neat. But the movie felt fairly hollow to me. Visually, it's pretty stunning, I wish I had been able to see it in 3-D, I imagine it might have made a bit of a difference, as it did with Up, although I really never felt that the film was selling me a hallow experience as Coraline did. I dunno, it's sort of funny to say but the film doesn't feel like it has much of a soul. It simply moves us from one stunning visual set piece to another, skipping of the "Why's" of the story. There's no real origin of the Bedlam, the antagonist of the story. She just seems to exist and that's about it. Coraline doesn't seem to really learn very much. She seems to appreciate her parents a little bit more. The story wraps itself up neatly, seeming to suggest that if Coraline's family didn't have money issues, the movie would have never happened. I dunno, I felt that I kept asking more from the backstory, I wanted to have an idea of who these people were. Coraline is spunky, her parents are busy. Are they ALWAYS busy? Is Coraline being bratty because she isn't being paid attention to? Because she moved? Is she always this way? Past the visuals, I couldn't really find anything to latch onto in the film. I wanted to care. I wanted some story telling. The third act fetch quest is intensely rushed and hectic functioning mostly on visual themes that were set up previously. See, that's the thing, the film does set up a really REALLY palpable sense of dread and menace throughout though. Maybe another reason why I was so let down. It actually does a really good job of creating atmosphere. We see hints of the nightmare from the start of the film. I was getting really nervous and excited for what might be going on. What the movie was going to TURN INTO. But when the nightmare reveals itself, it seems impotent, that the bark was actually worse than the bite. And since the nightmare world is so easily dispelled, it immediately becomes WAY less threatening. I mean, the opening sequence of the doll making is vulgar or violent in a way, as if we're watching the destruction and reformation of a person. I was immediately pulled into it. Coraline had everything on its side when it started out, totally dropping the ball for me, but left behind some fairly impressive visuals.

Even Coraline is pissed at Dakota Fanning!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens - 1979 - Dir. Meyer

I had a bit of a Russ Meyer fest last night, watching Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens and Vixen. I've seen Vixen previously and had watched a few minutes of Ultra-Vixens before turning it off in boredom. Ultra-Vixens is an intensely sillier movie, I mean, there's almost consistent use of sound effects and goofy fucking faces. It's also WAAAAYYY lazier. When I first viewed the movie, I had just assumed it was going to be a random compilation of titillating scenes strewn together with a strange narrator. Turns out the movie is about a bland fellow who is almost completely uninterested in sex unless it involves him putting things in butts and his attempt to normalize his sex life. The film has quite a bit of anal rape as a result. Including a scene where a homosexual Marriage Counselor/Dentist tries to rape him. It's a fun kind of movie, apparently another one written by Ebert. Like ALL sexploitation, it doesn't make a terrific amount of sense but it is entertaining to watch. I generally really enjoy Meyer's way of going about editing and he really does have a very surreal and twisted sensibility. It runs a little long with its seemingly unending conclusion involving first the narrator wrapping up the character then Meyer himself in a somewhat unexpected breaking of the Fourth Wall. I don't really understand his need to "wrap-up" which is often just re-describing the characters, every single character in the film. Including one that is actually somewhat introduced in the wrap-up. I suppose it's just another excuse to crack jokes and show some tits. Speaking of which, this Meyer film certainly seems to have the bustiest performers around, to the point of it basically being ridiculous. It wasn't just shapely ladies... but just the full-fledged super fake boobs. We're not talking Chesty Morgan's hanging style ridiculous boobs, but like... I dunno LARGE ROUND SUPERFAKE TITS. Like, the really weird ones from back in the day. You know?

Russ Meyer playing the oldest latchkey kid in a Broadway play.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

JCVD - 2008 - Dir. El Mechri

I sort of knew that JCVD wasn't going to be the irony fest I wanted it to be. But that raised the question. WHAT THE FUCK WAS IT GOING TO BE THEN!? I mean, I remember when the film was first announced, I just naturally assumed it was going to be funny. But apparently, Jean Claude is a serious subject. Not one of whimsy and silliness. It doesn't matter how many movies about exploding jeans he's in. I guess that's sort of the point, Jean-Claude kinda takes himself seriously. I didn't realize but... the man CAN speak... just not English. Apparently, he drops little nuggets of k-nowledge/Zen wisdom all over the French speaking world. That hasn't really changed the fact that most of his movies have been straight to DVD for the past few years. I guess, the movie kind of depicts a Jean-Claude type fellow, who is still working, but kind of has been raped of all dignity. There's a clear point in the film of trying to inject some dignity into Jean-Claude's actual career... and it seemed to have worked. The man got a bit of respect acting wise for this role. He's all-right. Watching him work in his native tongue is a little different from watching him putter through his English lines. I'm not sure I really needed to watch him have his special little monologue. It is kind of hypnotic to watch the man act. Not like Daniel Day Lewis is hypnotic. It's like watching a monkey put on jeans. Wait... that's terrible. I dunno, I'm just not used to watching him ACTUALLY act. He can do it. I wouldn't be throwing Oscars at him like some people have suggested. But hey, Oscars are for queers anyway. All in all, the movie is basically a hostage movie with a intensely "meta" protagonist. It makes it a little more interesting than the usual fare, but when you get right down to it, the movie is completely reliant on the gimmick. The movie IS the gimmick. And it's not boring. It's not really badly made. It just feels, well, a little gimmick-y and by the time the movie ended... well... I felt empty. Jean-Claude can give quite a roundhouse kick, but I guess that's old news.

Sure, I could have a still from JCVD, but hey... this is a picture too.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pervert! - 2005 - Dir. Yudis

I'd never heard of Pervert!, I think it just suddenly appeared on my Netflix recommendations and I was all... Okay. So I watched it on Play it now. The film is a tribute to Russ Meyer of sorts, who had passed a few years before the film was released. And it certainly stands strong as a Russ Meyer tribute. They definitely know their Meyer. Right down to the Desert setting to the goofy fucking music that plays when there's sexy things going on in the screen. I think probably the first half of the movie had me going. Filled with silly montages, some humorous editing, and puns a plenty. AND SOUND EFFECTS! :) The movie is a big silly joke. It's fun and playful. I think I started to get lost when the plot kind of kicks in. I guess a Killer Penis was supposed to be funny. I don't know how it happened... but a Killer Penis just doesn't entertain me so much these days. Something about it feels a little tired... oh, maybe it was Glorious Life of Sachiko Hanai that did it. And I think a good portion of the movie hinges on the Killer Penis being totally outrageous. I mean, maybe I'm being a little tough on it, the penis DID go all the way through a lady. I that was pretty wacky. But I was most definitely bored in the second half. I mean, the script is a little goofy to begin with, but it gets a little out of hand at that point. Where it's just a little tough to watch. But the movie is fun, I can't get too nitpicky about it. After all, the director plays a homosexual, nazi, redneck, ghetto-fabulous mechanic who punts his toddler/co-worker into a garage. The director WANTED to do that. And there is nothing wrong with a man whose needs are like that. Also, the acting in general. Acting in sexploitation... not an easy thing to... judge. Everyone is pretty entertaining. Mary Carey can be a little bland in some scenes (Just completely unexpressive sometimes) but she's fun to watch, and she's also probably the most attractive. I especially like Hezakiah and the whiny protagonist was all right, definitely a Russ Meyer type looking doof. Constantly reminding me of Blando McBland in supervixens (Who is perhaps my favorite protagonist of all time).

Somebody help that man! He has special effects on his chest!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stalker - 1979 - Dir. Tarkovsky

This was my Tarkovsky movie... or should I say FILM. That's right, I'm dropping the F-bomb in this place. This ain't Malibu's Most Wanted... YET! I don't know what I mean by that. But I really had no idea what a Tarkovsky film was, I really had no idea about the man. No idea at all. After seeing it, I think I have a pretty good of how the man works. He definitely has a voice, of course, I suppose that's why I KNEW who he was without having a fucking clue about 'em. The film definitely LOOKS wait... the first few sequences of the movie LOOK incredible. In some sense, I felt like I was seeing something exceptional and unique. I mean, the walls in this movie. THE WALLS ARE JUST INCREDIBLE. I mean, the man loves long shots and I love him for loving long shots. There was just so much to fucking watch and take in. There are some beautiful shots in this fucking movie. I'm a little mad for sending it off so soon because he was doing some crazy shit with sound and music that I had barely been able to take in on a single viewing. ALTHOUGH, I can't say I would actually watch the movie again. Two hours and forty minutes is quite a time. I mean, I'll watch it again. But not for a long while. As I think back to the film, I realize how little really went on in it. Even though I was really quite rapt. There's a pervasive sense of dread and tension in the film. It comes as such a nice relief when the Stalker freaks out and cries. Like, no one freaks out. There's a lot of calm controlled discussion in the film despite all the craziness that seems to be going on. It really creates the Environment of "THE ZONE." I mean, the film feels so intricately crafted, which makes sense since it was shot three times (two times?). It's definitely something that got my brain thinking and definitely something I would like to see again.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deadly Weapons - 1974 - Dir. Wishman

All right, all right... We can sit around all day and argue who rented the sexploitation film about the woman who kills (two) men with her big breasts. But let's not. Instead, how about I tell you about this sexploitation film I've jut seen? Now, I don't know why I always get surprised by how stupid these movies are. I mean, they are really stupid. With irresponsibly bad acting most of the time. And I hate to say Chesty Morgan acts about as well as you would expect upon hearing her name. I KNOW I KNOW! You'd think she'd be terrific but it's basically a blank expression for an hour and sixteen minutes. They sure did know to keep the movie short at least. But really those complaints shouldn't factor into a movie like this. The movie doesn't even have the class to throw some camp our way. Oh man, I would be so blown away if the film is just being massively ironic. But I think its just a badly, cheaply made movie. I mean, you do see her boobs a lot. A whole lot. She doesn't do too much with them or anything. And they're pretty funny looking. You know... being all floppy and huge and all. It is a ball and a half to watch Harry Reems though. That guy has the bravest moustache and I spent most of the time thinking about how Daniel Day Lewis should be in the scene. I suppose I did feel a little cheated out of the whole boob smothering. I mean, C'mon! Only two times!? It's the whole premise of the movie. Well, I guess the premise is BOOBS. But... you know... like a real premise. Sigh... nevermind.

I wanted to use a picture of Harry Reems in this because he looks like such a goofball but I guess we'll have to settle for this.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Southland Tales - 2006 - Dir. Kelly

I do feel like a little bit of a dick but FUCK YOU RICHARD KELLY! FUCK YOU SOUTHLAND TALES! AND FUCK EVERYONE INVOLVED!!! YOU GUYS ALL FUCKING SUCK! All right, now, I feel bad about that only because, you know, it seems like Richard Kelly really wanted to make this movie. He had a big hit with Donnie Darko so he could ask for a bit of money and have a lot more creative freedom to do what he wants. So he made this. And it is pretty bad. He must have been excited about it. Excited about the ideas. So many ideas. Too many ideas. This movie is like a million movies at once. There's not really any characters. It's sort of cerebral except part of me feels like Kelly didn't take his ideas serious enough... or was afraid of doing so. Maybe because he had no idea what he was talking about. The movie is so disjointed, it feels like it'll get excited about an idea and then move on it repeatedly. Like the line about pimps not killing themselves. All of a sudden, with an hour left to the film, its a catchphrase coming from every direction. The movie has no control. It's throwing insane theories at us, then mocking those theories. I feel like we have no grasp of how seriously we're supposed to take this movie. Is it just dicking around aimlessly? But it sure isn't fun. Especially considering how many comic people inhabit the cast. The movie goes in all directions at once, trying to be Akira and The Manchurian Candidate at the same time. And I love both of those things. And I love Sci-fi, and nonsensical plots and Philip K. Dick and time travel and the Pixies and news media jokes and blimps and sudden endings. SO WHY DON'T I LIKE IT!? I don't know, and I don't care. I don't even give a fuck. We never feel for anyone because the movie isn't really made up of people. So when it attempts for us to give a shit, we don't. I didn't give a shit about a single thing that was going on. Seann William Scott's reflection being late was awesome. That's all I'll give the movie. That's all you get. Better luck with The Box, Kelly. Oh, did I mention the movie is long as fuck and paced like a bullshit machine?

The Rock and Stiffler? Sweet, I must be watching the Rundown, lemme just kick ba- OH FUCK!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gummo - 1997 - Dir. Korine

I am puzzled by Harmony Korine. And I'm sure he doesn't mind that. I'm not really sure where I get tripped up. Somewhere between his attitude of a project to the final product... I get confused. You see, he seems pretty great. I REALLY JUST CAN'T TELL! I can't always tell if I think his sort of surreal trashy shocking aesthetic is really something I get behind. I think I do. He seems a little pretentious. But I dunno, I've grown tired of disliking someone because they're pretentious. And I don't even know if he is. Generally, when he talks about his movies, I'm kinda like: "Hey, guy. That's a pretty reasonable thing to say and I just might think I agree with ya, ya know?" But wait, I haven't really said a thing about Gummo. Although, indirectly, I really have. But Gummo is basically a series of vignettes of a town still reeling from the effects of an F-5 Tornado (THE FINGER OF GOD!!!). The film is basically everything it wants to be, I imagine. I enjoyed watching it. I'm not going to act like I didn't. I thought it was a delightful. That's right, that's the word I'm going to use. It runs around, showing us the crazy things it's doing. It looks good. It sounds good. It's edited good. It's even under 90 minutes long. I have no complaints about the movie until I start thinking of how I fear that Korine is a huge asshole. I realize he doesn't have real intents in much of what he does. A lot of it is in the persuit of an image which is SO FUCKING COOL. But then I get all Old School on the thing and I feel a little torn. He's like John Waters but... I dunno, artsy. That's not exactly true. He doesn't work with camp really as much. I suppose I like him. I don't feel like my shame of pretension is really grounds to badmouth the film. He really does manage to create some gripping images. I'm sort of ashamed that I even bothered to mention the pretension thing here. But hell, what can ya do? Make out with two sorta weird looking/attractive girls in a pool while wearing bunny ears, I guess. Oh yeah, and the music was awesome.


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