Heroes of the East

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    Admin
    Admin

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    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Age : 45
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:26 pm

    I've just watched CZ2012. It hurt my head. But some bits were OK.

    Holy damn, I think I've lost my reviewing powers Crying or Very sad .

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:55 pm

    I've just watched CZ2012. It hurt my head. But some bits were OK
    Holy damn, I think I've lost my reviewing powers Sad .
    I have a copy laying around on my computer somewhere (obtained more for curiosity sake) but have only skimmed it and unfortunately arrived at the same conclusion as you did. I'll sit through it and review it if you will. Deal? Wink 

    It's good to hear you're alive, Cal. Send me some of your act; I've never gotten to hear any of it and am a lover of stand-up.

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:38 pm

    Admin wrote:I've just watched CZ2012.  It hurt my head.  But some bits were OK.

    Holy damn, I think I've lost my reviewing powers Crying or Very sad .
    Those not-inconsiderable skills should return if you stick around for awhile. Well, until the next gigs, at least! Wink

    Saw bits of CZ12 a few times while wandering through the Chinese Malls here and was rather saddened to see Jackie Chan has regressed even further to please his Mainland masters (all the while pipe-dreaming in the American press about how he wants to be the next Stallone, DeNiro, etc.). It's almost like he felt he owed the mainlanders this for not having been able to "officially" get his 80's movies in front of their eyes back in the day. I mean, I get that even some of his classics are peppered with florid overacting and egregiously overly-designed-for-setpieces sets. That made sense in 1985 Hong Kong, but it really seems dated now. I can't comment to heavily, though, as I haven't watched the whole thing, though I do own it now, of course. Still gotta work on my cinema "foundation" for a bit longer, though.

    And now that there appears to be more than two of us bothering with this place anymore (now if only we could get the correspondent from Modesto back!), here's a more timely update from the Great White North:

    The Rebel (Vietnam; 2007) 7/10
    Warm Bodies (2013) 7/10
    Devil's Playground (Documentary; 2002) 8/10 I always figured the Amish were kinda fucked up, but not this badly! Shocked 
    Zazie Dans La Metro (1960) 7/10
    Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) 7/10
    Trishna (2011) 6/10 Tess of the d'Urbervilles doesn't really translate to contemporary India, but it's an interesting experiment
    Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) 4/10 One might hope that this toothless, DTV-worthy fiasco is the final nail in this franchise, but let's not kid ourselves.
    Life Is Sweet (U.K. 1990) 8/10  I'd have probably given this a 9 if Jane Horrocks wasn't so incredibly irritating!
    Hatchet (2006) 7/10
    Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (Documentary; 2002) 8/10
    The Three Musketeers (2011) 6/10
    Who The #$&% Is Jackson Pollock (Documentary; 2006) 8/10
    The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) 6/10 Too much wasted potential
    The Odd Couple (1968) 9/10
    North Dallas Forty (1979) 8/10
    The Trip (2010) 8/10
    Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969) 7/10
    Robot & Frank (2012) 7/10
    The Gatekeepers (Documentary; 2012) 9/10
    The Night of the Iguana (1964) 9/10
    The Caine Mutiny (1954) 9/10
    Toys in the Attic (2009) 8/10
    Total Recall (2012) 7/10 Better than expected, and better than the original in certain expected ways (production design, FX, scope), and worse in others (humourless). Only a semi-remake, despite claims to the contrary, this changes enough things (or possibly adapts them from the book) and invents enough others to stand on its own.

    Black River (Japan; 1957) 8/10
    The Thick-Walled Room (Japan; 1956) 8/10

    Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (Japan; 1968) 6/10

    The Name of the Game Is Kill (1968) 7/10  I did NOT see that ending comin'! Laughing
    Vertical Fear (aka High Lane, aka Vertige) (France; 2009) 4/10
    Black Heaven (France; 2010) 6/10
    Miss Minoes (Netherlands; 2001) 6/10
    The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 8/10
    Torque (2003) 3/10  Probably the worst, most clueless transition of a music video director to feature films ever. But my curiosity finally got the better of me.
    Red Scorpion (1988) 7/10
    Before The Fall (Spain; 2008) 6/10 Interesting twist on the end-of-the-world movie, only with a bog-standard serial-killer thriller at its core. Worse, nothing anyone does in the entire film makes any difference whatsoever.
    Missing (1982) 9/10
    The Human Centipede (2009) 6/10

    Films 4 You: Timeless Horror set
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DOZNGC2/
    I Bury the Living (1958) 7/10
    The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) 6/10
    The Face of Marble (1946) 6/10
    The Snake Woman (1961) 6/10


    IMDB ratings count: 5423

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:00 pm

    Night of the Living Dead (1990) F

    Pointless remake with make-up effects master Tom Savini at the helm.

    Machete Kills (2013) C

    Is to "Machete" (2010) what "The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999) and "Goldmember" (2002) was to "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" (1997).

    Leonard Part 6 (1987) F

    Notorious Bill Cosby comedy so bad that the handful of lines and sight gags that must have looked good on paper don't work on screen.

    Manhunt (2013) A-

    Emmy Award winning documentary by HBO based on Peter L. Bergen's book Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad. Bergen was one of the few Westerners granted an interview with Osama bin Laden back in 1997 and some of that footage appears here showing a rather mousy bin Laden sitting uncomfortably with a BBC crew often smiling and even letting out a chuckle as he admits he was nervous about the interview before settling in. Chilling.

    Gravity (2013) A-

    An experience and one in which I don't have many of at the theater these days but 2013 has proved a good year for films and this is one of the better offerings.

    God Told Me To (1976) C

    Star Trek Into the Darkness (2013) B-

    Great looking even fairly entertaining but also lazy given the film's parallel to fan favorite "Wrath of Khan" (1982). It's predecessor was just as lazy despite its awesome sheen so hey these films are at least entertaining and were any of the original franchise all that great to begin with?

    Slacker (1991) B+

    Influential independent that reminded me of conversations I had at this time with my older cousins and later upperclassmen when I entered high school two years later.

    Strapped (1993) D+

    [REC] (2007) B

    My Darling Clementine (1946) A-

    Suspiria (1977) B

    The Ring (2002) C

    It gets the aesthetic right relocating the script to Seattle and heck it even ameliorates the opening sequence as well as making the discovery of victims far more chilling but the accolades end there in this otherwise Hollywoodized "Ringu" (1998).

    All that Money Can Buy (1941, AKA The Devil and Daniel Webster) A

    American Mary (2012) D+

    Now You See Me (2013) D+

    Con thriller for the "Ocean's Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen" crowd.

    The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) B+

    What an interesting western-comedy with Paul Newman as the eponymous judge who guns down a brothel full of outlaws west of the Pecos, sets up shop, and armed with an old leather bound law book rules his badlands as an off-his-rocker hangin' judge.

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:22 am

    The Silence (2010) B+

    I verified my suspicions when I returned from the art theater I saw this fictional German crime thriller in that director Baran bo Odar was directly influenced by the great "Memories of Murder" (2003) when he adapted Jan Costin Wagner's 2000 play by the same name. Not an easy view given it's chilling subject matter or it's disturbing complexities.

    Windy City Heat (2003) B-

    Failed stand-up and irascible creep "Scary" Perry Caravello is the mark of this "Candid Camera" TV mockumentary made for Comedy Central. It tends to vacillate between just desserts for a moron who seems oddly conceited enough to believe he's been cast as the lead (as homely and talent-less as he is he's told he beat out Carson Daly for the role) in a cop thriller based in Chicago especially given that his friends have been pranking him for nearly a decade before the film was made. But it is all, nonetheless, a tad mean-spirited, too, and a little long in the tooth. The film's best moment is quite brief featuring comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla on a back lot in full Roman Army garb holding a dog and explaining he's doing a gladiator-dog buddy flick called "Air Caligula." Caravello, who since has claimed he was simply playing along with the gag -- though a number of hidden cameras used to create the film suggest otherwise -- completely buys it.

    The Bling Ring (2013) B

    Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) A+

    Sam Peckinpah's perfect modern western was panned by nearly every critic upon its release but was reborn as a cult classic (thank god). Brothers and conservative film critics Harry and Michael Medved included the film in their 1979 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

    Vice Squad (1982) C-

    I had heard about this film for years but the only thing I was able to take away from it was co-star Wings Hauser's performance as a vicious Hollywood pimp decked out in country-western attire from the 1950's named Ramrod. The vice squad, not unlike the film, is under cooked at best though.

    The Cure (1995) C+

    Far better suited for a small screen production and probably plays better on video than it ever did on the big screen (where it failed to leave a mark) but at times -- and to my shock -- eschews some well-worn paths of sentimentality while disappointingly traveling down roads paved with unbelievable plotting, stock drama, and a generic antagonist.

    Vampire's Kiss (1988) B-

    It's not going to be for everyone and often it wasn't for me either but I'm always interested in the unconventional vampire films a la "Martin" (1976), "Cronos" (1993), "Thirst" (2009) because I'm now living in a world of "Blade," "Underworld," "Twilight," et al.

    12 Years a Slave (2013) B+

    Felt a little too much like a finely tuned snuff film for me to gush over it like others have but the aesthetic of the Old South and the performances are wonderful.

    The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) A

    Behind the Candelabra (2013) B

    Entertaining but dim look into the private life of Liberace played very convincingly by Michael Douglas.

    Lovelace (2013) D+

    An R-Rated Lifetime movie whose material has already been thoroughly covered by mediums better suited to handle the topic of Linda Lovelace.

    Deep Throat (1972) ?

    "[A]fter millions of words have been written about it, I still have no idea why this movie became the first mainstream smut flick. It was not the first hard-core pornographic movie to be shown in American theaters, and in the context of the tens of thousands of porn movies made before and after it, it ranks pretty close to the bottom in terms of cinematography, acting, entertainment value, and just plain sexual thrills." -- Joe Bob Briggs from Profoundly Disturbing (2003).

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:27 pm

    Continuing onward, my last batch of 2013 . . .  Wink

    HANGAR 18 (1980) 6/10
    Revisited this Sunn Classics for the first time since a big-screen viewing 33 years ago. Nice to know my opinions don't change on these things just because my age does. It's no better or worse to me than it was back then; just OK for what it was - and very much a part of Sunn's whole mysteries-of-the-unknown schtick. Or should I say . . . Schick?!

    THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK (1958) 6/10
    THE SPACE CHILDREN (1958) 5/10
    Two old halves of a Paramount kiddie matinee double bill released, oddly, as singles by Olive Films. Taken in context, which they absolutely must be, they're a fair notch above much of the dreck produced this late in the monster movie cycle.

    THE ENEMY BELOW (1957) 8/10

    THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY (1957) 8/10

    THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005) 2/10
    THE GINGERDEAD MAN 2: PASSION OF THE CRUST (2008) 4/10
    This was one of those titles that kept popping up on shelves and bins so many times over the years -- DARING me to watch it, I think -- that I finally caved when I saw this double-feature disc for $2.00 in a local dollar store. The first film is by far one of the worst tongue-in-cheek horror films ever made, not that one would expect any better when someone like Charles Band steps behind the camera. Just dreadful in all departments. The sequel, directed by one of the co-writers of the original, is a VAST improvement, even if that's not saying much. It gains most of its goodwill by exhuming the "behind-the-scenes-of-a-B-movie-studio" routine done (so much better) by Joe Dante and Allan Arkush in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and employing several real-life Hollywood special effects wizards in cameo roles. Still, you'll die contented if you skip both shows.

    LA CHINOISE (1967) 7/10
    The scene on the train makes this worthwhile. Otherwise, I remain convinced that it's entirely possible to "get" Godard and still consider him a pretentious bore.

    CINERMAMA HOLIDAY (1955) 8/10

    COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA (1952) 9/10

    EXIT SPEED (2008) 5/10

    TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) 9/10
    Definitely being added to my Criterion gotta-buy list.

    I MARRIED A WITCH (1942) 8/10
    Oddly enough, a Criterion I realized I didn't really need to buy only after I'd already bought and watched it. It's a fun film, but one that probably would've been better suited to their Eclipse line if there was anything else to pair it with.

    MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS (2005) 7/10

    SUCH GOOD FRIENDS (1971) 8/10
    Much better than I expected for late-career Preminger. Now only SKIDOO remains to be seen from his three shows released by Olive Films. Not available at the library like the other two, but I can wait . . .

    THE LAST REUNION (aka REVENGE OF THE BUSHIDO BLADE) (1980) 5/10
    One of the better endeavours from Texan-Chinese ham Leo Fong, though largely due to the superior character actors he cast around himself.

    BRUCE STRIKES BACK (aka THE NINJA STRIKES BACK) (1982) 4/10
    Practically a companion piece to producer Dick Randall's great guilty pleasure CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER, only minus Richard Harrison and logic, but with possibly more breasts. The final battle between hero Bruce and former hench-pal Hwang Jang-lee goes the real Bruce Lee's WAY OF THE DRAGON one better by actually being filmed entirely at the historic site, rather than in front of crude studio backdrops.

    LADY STREET FIGHTER (1985) 2/10
    Filmed in 1975 then shelved for a decade, this awful spy "action" picture from director James Bryan (whose entire oeuvre demonstrates he made the wrong career choice) casts the aging and ridiculous non-actress Renee Harmon as the title character. Truly the pits.

    CHUCK & BUCK (2000) 7/10
    JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME (2011) 7/10
    Another unintentionally "themed" double feature thanks to timing of the library's queue system. Smile

    SHORTBUS (2006) 6/10
    Despite plentiful hardcore couplings (and tripling and, huh, selfies? Very Happy), and a heaping scoop of instantly-dated hipster pretentiousness, this is still moderately interesting.

    LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) 8/10
    Luridly overcooked melodrama of the finest kind, and easily forgiven in light of its absolutely mesmerizing Technicolor photography. Got it from the library, then realized I have it in an unwatched Fox 75th Studio Classics 4-film set, but very tempted to purchase the Blu-ray for the imagery alone!

    HARRY IN YOUR POCKET (1973) 7/10

    IT'S A BIG COUNTRY: AN AMERICAN ANTHOLOGY (1951) 6/10
    Interesting primarily for it's tales of the immigrant experience (though U.S. black culture is given short shrift in a rather pandering montage sequence), though the screenwriting in all the tales is pure Hollywood schmaltz, and the direction (by several A-listers) is pedestrian.

    THE EAST (2013) 7/10
    Why is it that I'd like to punch so many of Ellen Page's characters in the face?

    NIGHT ON EARTH (1991) 8/10

    ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948) 7/10

    NIGHT FLIGHT (1933) 7/10

    THE SAMARITAN (2012) 6/10
    Better than any Canadian B-movie has any right to be, not least for actually being filmed AND set in Toronto (instead of Toronto doubling someplace else), but then there's a twist and you suddenly realize you're watching a disguised, reconfigured semi-remake of a famous Asian film, and suddenly Samuel Jackson's participation makes much more sense. Smile

    DEAD MAN DOWN (2013) 6/10

    QUIET DAYS IN CLICHY (1970) 4/10

    THE CAMPAIGN (2012) 7/10

    Rareflix Triple Feature:
    LIGHTNING BOLT (1966) 5/10
    TRANSFORMED (2005) 3/10
    BOOGIEVISION (1977) 4/10
    That first one's a very average Italian spy caper, so typical of the era. The second is a late-period Leo Fong production (his last to date), shot on video and geared toward Christian audiences, but with some decent martial arts choreography in the mix (and not much else). The last one is another James Bryan atrocity from the very early 70's that, like so many of his pictures, sat unreleased for several years. Oddly enough, Bryan's attempts to pad what appears to be either a poorly-conceived or unfinished tale of an activist wannabe film director selling out to the porn industry with blackout gags like fake news previews, movie trailers, and commercials "technically" predates THE GROOVE TUBE by a few years, but one just as easily suspects that Bryan did the padding AFTER seeing GROOVE TUBE and smelling an easy way to justify hauling his unfinished spoof out of the cellar.

    ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (2006) 7/10
    With a better leading actor, this could've been a real classic. As it stands, it's still premium grade Terry Zwigoff, shot through with spot-on dark satire.

    PROPHECY (1979) 4/10

    SERGEANT YORK (1941) 8/10

    LATE AUTUMN (1960) 8/10
    EQUINOX FLOWER (1958) 9/10

    WEEKEND (1967) 7/10

    THE SUNDOWNERS (1960) 8/10

    SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (1962) 8/10

    MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008) 6/10

    NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984) 6/10

    TAKEN 2 (2012) 7/10

    DUE DATE (2010) 7/10

    HIGHWAYMEN (2004) 6/10

    STAYING ALIVE (1983) 3/10
    Best scene in this wholly unnecessary -- and generally unpleasant -- sequel to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: the ending. "There's something I gotta do." "What?" "Strut!"

    CADDYSHACK II (1988) 2/10

    THE VIXENS OF KUNG FU: A TALE OF YIN YANG (1975) 3/10

    THE NEPTUNE FACTOR (1973) 5/10

    MALENA (2000) 6/10

    THE PICK-UP ARTIST (1987) 5/10
    LESS THAN ZERO (1987) 6/10

    THE TIGGER MOVIE (2000) 6/10

    FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009) 8/10

    CARRIE (2002) 5.10
    Deservedly obscure pilot movie for a TV series that never materialized.

    CITY LIGHTS (1931) 9/10

    WHITE HOUSE DOWN (2013) 7/10

    WE'RE THE MILLERS (2013) 7/10

    THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) 9/10

    Warner Romance Classics Collection:
    PARRISH (1961) 7/10
    PALM SPRINGS WEEKEND (1963) 6/10
    ROME ADVENTURE (1962) 7/10
    SUSAN SLADE (1961) 7/10

    SMALL TOWN MURDER SONGS (2010) 8/10

    LUCKY LUKE (2009) 6/10
    Lavish comic book adaptation starring Jean Dujardin has intricate production design and referential humor to spare, but not much of a story.

    THE ROBE (1953) 8/10

    THEY (2002) 5/10
    CURSED (2005) 5/10

    CHERNOBYL DIARIES (2012) 5/10

    FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY (2003) 1/10
    Curiosity killed the cat. I expected nothing, and got even less.

    EVIL DEAD (2013) 8/10
    One of the better remakes of a classic horror film to date. Utterly respectful to its source material (having the creators of the original on board as producers no doubt helped on that front) yet fronting an appealing identity of it's own.

    HITMAN (2007)[/b] 6/10

    MAX PAYNE (2008)[/b] 5/10

    THE FACTORY (2012) 5/10
    Dark Castle Films started out with some effective remakes of old William Castle shows, but seeing them devolve into producers of bog-standard horror thrillers like this one -- which sat on the shelf for several years -- is rather sad.

    THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES (1965) 8/10

    HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966) 8/10

    RED RIVER (1948) 9/10

    TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN 2 (2012) 5/10
    I suffered through the others, so I had to end the torture. I'm not a tween girl, so these movies are decidedly outside my roundhouse, but if I WERE a tween girl, I hope I'd be immune to patronizing junk like this. I almost rated this entry slightly higher because of that admittedly fantastic climactic brawl, but then they tacked on that jaw-droppingly stupid "twist", so I had to rethink that decision.

    MAGIC MIKE (2012) 7/10

    DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM (2009) 7/10

    SLEEP TIGHT (2011) 8/10

    NOT THE MESSIAH: HE'S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY (2010) 8/10

    MUTANTS (2009) 5/10

    THE JOLSON STORY (1946) 7/10
    Talk about a hagiography!

    BUNRAKU (2010) 5/10
    125 minutes of unrestrained affectation. Very annoying.

    PEACE LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING (2011) 5/10

    Robert Downey Eclipse Set:
    PUTNEY SWOPE (1969) 7/10
    MOMENT TO MOMENT (1975) 5/10
    BABO 73 (1964) 6/10

    IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (1997) 8/10

    INSIDE (aka A L'INTERIEUR) (2007) 6/10

    ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974) 9/10

    A BULLET FOR JOEY (1955) 6/10

    THE SEA WOLVES (1980) 7/10

    THE BAD SEED (1956) 7/10

    THE PRODIGAL (1955) 6/10

    HARPER VALLEY PTA (1978) 5/10
    Covers the song in the first nine minutes, then stretches for a reason to start the whole ball of wax rolling again, only this time as an out-and-out revenge comedy. Strange, but not without some amusing moments.

    TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (2010) 8/10

    A MAN ESCAPED (1956) 9/10

    MAN HUNT (1941) 8/10

    I WILL BUY YOU (1956) 8/10

    THE BURNING (1981) 6/10

    THE FROZEN GROUND (2013) 6/10

    BLACK DEATH (2010) 8/10

    FROM MANILA WITH LOVE (2011) 8/10
    Documentary about the making of BIG DOLL HOUSE and BIG BIRD CAGE, from Shout Factory's Blu-ray triple feature including these shows.

    TRANSIT (2012) 5/10

    TAKE THIS WALTZ (2011) 6/10

    MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA (2005) 5/10

    LES 7 JOURS DU TALION (aka 7 DAYS) 7/10


    Viewed in theatres:

    THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) 8/10
    THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) 8/10


    IMDB ratings count: 5556

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:37 pm

    Continuing onward in 2014 . . .

    (Tough to believe this has everything to do with Hong Kong cinema, right? Laughing )

    SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE (1958) 9/10
    By far the best (and last) of the Cinerama Films, though I'm overjoyed to have all of the ones released so far in my collection. I'm sure nothing could top seeing these shows in the proper environment when they were new -- even seeing them in the proper environment today can't possibly match it -- but the Blu-rays are excellent keepsakes.

    FAME (2009) 4/10
    Thought the original was passable, so had to see this. Waste of time.

    GIGLI (2003) 3/10
    In poring over the contemporary reviews of this after watching it, there were only a few (including Ebert) willing to cut it some slack. Yet today, a decade later, after the media circus that surrounded it at the time can barely be recalled, it's obvious those few defenders were wrong. It really IS as bad as everyone else said (and the alleged 160-minute director's cut probably wouldn't have made it any better). Sure, it's a good looking film -- that's do be expected of Martin Brest -- but there's zero conviction from either lead and little more in the way of plot. Just lots of talk, talk, talk that isn't nearly as meaningful as Brest clearly thought it was. It's a shame he took a hike after this one and never came back, though. I'm sure he could've recovered considering his track record before this and his other bomb MEET JOE BLACK, but I'm sure his earlier big hits have kept him living comfortably ever since.

    SOUND OF MY VOICE (2011) 7/10
    Reserved this after seeing the later THE EAST from the same director and writer (the latter also the lead actress). This was basically a warm-up for that one. Both are interesting explorations of the formation and operation of cults, although SOUND seems to have fooled a LOT of callow online commenters into thinking it's actually a sci-fi movie in disguise (the cult's "leader" claims to be from the future) when all the clues are there that it's absolutely not.

    TORONTO STORIES (2008) 5/10
    There's almost nothing about this film that makes it unmistakably "Torontonian". Just a bunch of mini-dramas that could be set virtually anywhere, in any country. If nothing else, former MuchMusic VJ and longtime CBC radio host Sook Yin Lee shows even more of her vagina (though less frequently) than she did in SHORTBUS. That's not a complaint, actually, although one wonders if she's lashing out at her parents or something. Smile

    THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (1975) 6/10
    BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH (1967) 2/10

    MYSTERY TRAIN (1989) 8/10
    My second Jarmusch (saw NIGHT ON EARTH in last post). In other hands, his works could leave me cold, but he's got a way with the material . . .

    RED LIGHTS (2012) 7/10
    Skimming the legit reviews after watching this, it appeared that the film's ending left a few jaws hanging open in angry frustration. I'll admit it was a twist i wasn't expecting (even though the clues were rather obviously laid out throughout the film) but at least its creators never claimed it was based on a true story or anything like that, so I didn't mind setting aside my absolute belief that psychic powers do NOT exist for the sake of a good rug-yanking. The writing, however, had me wondering if the English-as-a-second-language-speaking writer-director Rodrigo Cortes had anyone vet his dialogue -- and the clarity of his plot shenanigans -- before handing him a budget based on the cleverness of his previous film BURIED.

    Speaking of bogus claims:

    THE CONJURING (2013) 6/10
    Supernatural movies based on "true stories" -- especially those based on the infamous hoaxes of self-deluded "demonologists" Ed and Lorraine Warren -- earn automatic demerit points from me, and then a few more for presenting "bodies flying around rooms" sequences that completely fantasize the dreadfully, obviously faked footage upon which they're based. James Wan can make all the INSIDIOUS or SAW flicks he wants. I don't love them, but they don't piss me off with bogus claims, so I'll give them leeway that films like CONJURING by their very nature don't deserve because they only encourage ridiculous belief systems.

    LOOPER (2012) 9/10
    My only worry going into this was that writer-director Rian Johnson would be compelled to utilize the faux-noir dialogue he used so effectively in BRICK. While that stunt was clever, one time, I'm glad he ditched it on this very effective sci-fi gem that respects the viewer's intelligence. The real surprise here was 5-year-old Pierce Gagnon as the probable "future villain" who needs to be eliminated in the present in order for Bruce Willis/Joseph Gordon Levitt to prevent his inevitable execution by his own hands. That kid is a frighteningly good actor.  Shocked 

    HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012) 6/10

    ROAD HOUSE (1948) 9/10
    Roadside hunting lodge/motel noir. A real gem.

    BUFFALO BILL (1944) 7/10

    THE BRAVADOS (1948) 8/10

    HAVANA (1990) 7/10

    JENNIFER'S BODY (2009) 5/10

    976-EVIL (1988) 6/10

    BULLET TO THE HEAD (2012) 7/10

    IMDB ratings total: 5,577

    Cash

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:40 pm

    42 (2013) C+

    Apparently actor Chadwick Boseman's never seen or rather never heard Jackie Robinson speak.

    A Hijacking (2012) B+

    After deciding to pass on what I'm to understand is a largely fictional "Captain Phillips" (2013) -- apparently Captain Phillips was no Tom Hanks -- I looked up this psychological Danish alternative (also based on an actual hijacking by Somali pirates).

    Green Street Hooligans (2005) B-

    The very definition of cookie cutter but the intent of art should be to entertain and this very predictable film is always entertaining.

    Prisoners (2013) C+

    Overrated thriller co-starring a miscast Jake Gyllenhaal as a miscast detective. The excellent Paul Dano is unexpectedly over-the-top but everyone else is fantastic.

    American Hustle (2013) B+

    Amy Adams and Jennifer Hudson eat their male counterparts alive every time they're on-screen together. Oddly though for such a lauded performance Christian Bale can repeatedly be seen "acting." He's easily the weakest part of the film and as the star drags it down ever so slightly. This clearly indebted "Goodfellas" con should have been better. Fun, but undeserving of its universal praise.

    Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) C+

    Relentlessly bullied "Halloween" stepchild is actually the second best installment in the shaggy dog franchise. Better suited for television as it seems born out of "The Twilight Zone" et al. While ill-fitted for a theatrical run (predictably it flopped for all the obvious reasons) I'd rather watch "Season of the Witch" a half-dozen more times than sit through Rob Zombie's soul-crushing white trash remake of the original again.

    The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) A-

    Drug War (2012) B

    Safe, but not tame. A straight-laced but entertaining Milkyway co-production with the mainland.

    Once Upon a Time in China IV (1993) C+

    A personal blind spot. I haven't seen V (yet) and it's been years since I've seen "Once Upon a Time in China and America" (1997) but I'm to understand that its practically beyond reproach this is the weakest entry in the series. It has its moments though.

    Strange Behavior (1981) C+

    Nashville (1975) A

    Robert Altman's perfect American retrospective set in the country music capital of the world.

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:47 pm

    The quest continues . . .

    THE WAR ROOM (1993; documentary) 8/10

    THIEVES' HIGHWAY (1949) 9/10
    Perfect except for that tacked on ending

    NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950) 9/10

    CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY (2012) 6/10

    CYRUS (2010) 7/10

    BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY (2002) 9/10

    BLINDNESS (2008) 6/10
    Talk about heavy-handed . . .

    THE ROBBER (2010) 6/10

    WINDJAMMER: THE VOYAGE OF THE CHRISTIAN RADICH (1958) 9/10
    One of the best Cinerama epics. So glad to have all of these on Blu-ray at last.

    THE OXFORD MURDERS (2008) 7/10

    THE HUNTERS (1958) 7/10

    BODY DOUBLE (1984) 7/10
    As an exercise in technical expertise, this is nearly beyond compare, but as storytelling, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

    Some Warner Archive pickups:
    A WOMAN'S SECRET (1949) 6/10
    The Archive considers this a film noir, but it's more like noir-lite, and the mystery at its core is ultimately rather frivolous.
    GIVE A GIRL A BREAK (1953) 7/10
    Interesting, if somewhat subdued mid-budget musical from MGM's series of "up-and-comer" showcases. Good enough in all departments, especially in Technicolor, but not a classic.
    GET YOURSELF A COLLEGE GIRL (1964) 5/10
    Tedious entry in the squeaky-clean 60's youth musical comedy genre, with plentiful performances by then-hot musical acts (and a few no-hit wonders) shoehorned into the proceedings.
    BLACK ZOO (1963) 6/10
    THE PHYNX (1970) 5/10
    One of those Golden Turkey Award winners that's been on my must-see list since I was a teenager, and really must be seen to be believed! Plays like a too-late attempt to mint another "groovy" four-man Monkees-style musical phenomena, but having them rescue a gaggle of Hollywood has-beens -- all of whom make entrances like they're arriving at an awards show -- was probably not the best idea. A fascinating time-capsule that barely got released, I'd recommend pairing it with the likewise little-seen U.K. film TOOMORROW for an abject lesson in what happens when clueless producers and studio honchos misgauge the youth of the day.
    THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD (1974) 7/10
    Pedestrian TV movie notable for being shot on the fabled but decrepit MGM backlot during its demolition. Oddly enough, i felt no sense of nostalgia watching parts of it be destroyed on camera. After all, the place was an overgrown dump, and the visual memories of its heyday have been well preserved over the years.
    THE THREAT (1949) 8/10
    SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 (1950) 7/10
    FROM HELL IT CAME (1957) 4/10
    THE CYCLOPS (1957) 4/10
    HYSTERIA (1965) 7/10
    HEAT LIGHTNING (1934) 7/10
    THE SORCERERS (1967) 7/10

    2 GUNS (2013) 7/10

    TED (2012) 7/10

    THE SKIN I LIVE IN (2011) 8/10

    BLANK CITY (2010; Documentary) 8/10

    THE BIG CITY (1963; India) 10/10

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:49 pm

    A couple of recent reviews; Brian notice the Buster one in the middle is the earliest I have seen martial arts in an American movie.

    The Member of the Wedding (1952: Fred Zinnemann) **½/****

    Julie Harris may have been nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance here, but it is Ethel Waters who has the standout performance. Her Berenice Brown is the suffering mother, wife and caregiver who suffers a myriad of calamities and like Harris’s Frankie Addams she still goes on (though at the ending you suspect that their paths are going opposite of how they started.) However, Harris ends up being one of the most annoying characters I have seen in years. Imagine her character marrying Dude Lester from Tobacco Road and having the child from The Tin Drum. That would be worse than any family in a Rob Zombie film.

    This felt like a filmed stage production (it was previously a play as I found out from the extras; it went from book to theatre to movie.) Harris’s first movie role after playing this part on the stage is too theatrical with wild and overemphasized gestures that could be seen miles away, but seem odd indoors even for a hyperactive bipolar girl. She is supposed to be a twelve year old but looks all of her 26 years old at the time of the filming and more. I thought it might have been more appropriate to never mention her age then the viewer can focus on the tragic circumstances of her losing her mother, having an inattentive father and feeling the abandonment of a brother who is getting married. Then you can forgive some of the histrionics of the performance (she is much better in East of Eden.) But she is suffering and we are meant to suffer with her.

    There are a few niggling issues as well. The overuse of the close-ups reminded me of the later John Cassavetes film Faces which work well with Waters but not with Harris. Those had to be the worst looking moths I have seen in a mainstream movie (even these moths reminded me of something you would see in a play.) Brandon De Wilde as her young friend is also annoying (see Shane) but is the less irritating of the two.

    But there are some positive notes as well. As much as I have complained about Harris, there is something to her performance that is interesting and affecting. Ethel Waters portrayal as the stoic nanny is outstanding and by far earns the most sympathy. It handles the racial aspects of the film quite well for an early 1950s film. You can tell Frankie has a crush on Honey the son of Berenice who is a musician who does not want to do anything else. A little less stage, a little more subtlety, some rewriting of the plot and there could be a good film here. But it is more middling than magnificent.

    Sidewalks of New York (1931: Zion Myers, Jules White)

    This is the earliest American film where I have seen martial arts in it. Buster Keaton gets picked apart by an Asian-American kid (unfortunately not credited and IMDB does not have his name) who picks him apart with a variety of Judo throws like the Tomoe-nage (circle throw). Later Buster does the same to a bunch of criminals making this a much early appearance than James Cagneys Judo in Blood on the Sun (1945).

    One thing to consider is that some of these moves would be incorporated into professional wrestling and at least one move the inappropriately named airplane spin is a wrestling move though if you know a Judo origin of this move please tell me. Judo is never actually mentioned in this film and some reviewers call these wrestling moves, but given that kayfabe wrestling was slowly on the rise at this time and the kid who takes him apart early is certainly no wrestler I would consider this source of the fighting Judo.

    The co-director Jules White, who would later helm lots of Three Stooges shorts (in fact one short he produced for The Three Stooges called Disorder in the Court would lift a gag from this film) and would direct Keaton in some of his Columbia shorts was never one of the best fits for Keaton. He never really knew how to handle Keaton and his directorial style was always to do things louder, faster and more violent. However, Keaton does handle action well as he is still in good shape at this time. The boxing scene is a mix of City Lights (1931) and Keatons own Battling Butler (1926) and is with the Judo is among the highlights in this film. The plot certainly is not (as I have avoided writing about it) and his co-star Cliff Edwards is OK (they also star in Doughboys which I have not seen), but not much of a presence.

    I am Keaton fan so I have been getting all of the films he is in. This is available on a DVD-R from Warner Bros. Archive Collection. This is an OK film but his silent era is by far the best bet if you want to start with Keaton where he had much more control of the material. He made the mistake of signing up with MGM which took away his creative control (though some good films were made like The Cameraman (1928)) which led to him drinking more (a bad marriage also contributed to this) and eventually being let go by MGM. Luckily he kept working and saw a resurgence of the popularity of his early work before he died in the 1960s.

    The Old Fashioned Way (1934: William Beaudine): A semi-autobiographical W.C. Fields film that I had a blast watching for the second time. It is an early film in the traveling performance genre (like Variety Lights or Sawdust and Tinsel) where Fields plays a field manager who does not make enough to pay his performers or the rooms they stay in. It also has a play-within-the-play (like Hamlet) where they performed a parody of the long running temperance five-act stage production The Drunkard with local cast members and Fields playing a major role where he looks like Penn Jillette mated with Snidely Whiplash. But the strength of the film is the star himself who’s curmudgeon, surly and skinflint behavior marked with a sagacious diction make him one of the most unique characters in cinematic history. He is one of my favorite comedic actors.

    One of the most satisfying of scenes is in which W.C. Fields performs a shortened but complete juggling and dexterity routine that is outstanding in its adroitness. Not just because of the bulbous figure and nose, if you did not know his past or his movies Fields would seem like he would have trouble juggling two objects (many, many of his films have him doing small little tricks with a plethora of objects), but it is a reenactment of his famous routines he did for the Ziegfield Follies and it is quite good. It has everything from three, four ball juggling to an outstanding cigar box routine. Those who have seen his famous short The Fatal Glass of Beer, expect to see a reference to this. When you see Baby LeRoy you know what will eventually happen.

    I would not put this up with either of It’s a Gift or The Bank Dick, but it is close. Ultimately the story is a little too basic and the play takes up too much time in the film. But for fans of Fields this is a must watch. This is an underrated comedic gem that fans of 1930s comedy should definitely see.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:59 pm

    Airport (1970: George Seaton)

    There were a couple of reasons for me watching this. I have been catching up on the main disaster films of the 70s the past few months including viewings of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. I have also been trying to increase my percentage of Oscar Best Picture nominations watched as well as Burt Lancaster movies. But there is also the side benefit of watching an influence to one of my favorite spoof films of all-time Airplane!. Unbeknownst to me when I saw Fantastic Voyage (1966: Richard Fleischer) the previous day it has several influences to Airplane! as well. Weird the connections you find when watching random films.

    Airport was such a huge hit (it is still in the top 100 box office hits of all-time adjusted for inflation) that it helped spawn the disaster subgenre of the 70s as well as several later sequels that I have not watched nor will I in the near future. But is it any good as a film? Well yes and no. It kept my interest regardless of the dialogue (Dean Martin’s amount of aeronautical terms in everything got annoying), hammy humor (the priest backslapping the hysterical man was funny though completely out-of-place, there are several scenes like this) and parallel plotlines that vary in quality and tone like Burt Lancaster and his preference for being with flying phallic symbols rather than his wife.

    I will not be clamoring to rewatch this and I think I am done on disaster films for a while. I suppose this is an important piece of Americana for the 1970s, but I cannot help feeling I could/should have spent my time watching a different film.

    I have still never flown on a plane with nuns. I must be missing out. Of course American flying has changed dramatically since September 11 and one who flies regularly can easily spot the changes. No more rushing to board the plane and no more trusting old ladies either (why did Helen Hayes win Best Supporting Actress). Now try to run in the lobby like OJ Simpson in the Hertz commercial.

    And never sit next to the sweaty guy having a death grip on his briefcase. There are not many more annoying scenes in cinema then when the Van Heflin character gets his suitcase back.

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:45 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:But there is also the side benefit of watching an influence to one of my favorite spoof films of all-time Airplane!.
     
    Presumably you're aware of ZERO HOUR? That's definitely the one to watch to see the lion's share of the inspiration for AIRPLANE! The latter is virtually a remake, right down to the war flashbacks, the name of the lead character, the food poisoning subplot and a substantial amount of dialogue, which was left largely intact (and which makes it that much funnier when you're aware of the fact).  Cool 

    it helped spawn the disaster subgenre of the 70s as well as several later sequels that I have not watched nor will I in the near future.
    AIRPORT '77 is one of the better disaster movies of the era, to be fair (and yes, it requires suspension of disbelief just like the best of 'em). It's probably the one that would hold up best to a remake as well. AIRPORT 1975 is tolerable, barely. Both are more representative of the genre the original spawned than the original itself. AIRPORT '79 is the only one that should truly be avoided at all costs, although it did inspire one of Leonard Maltin's best capsule reviews in that annual guide of his.

    I've always wished they'd reboot the AIRPORT franchise and spruce it up while paying at least a little lip service to the originals. They wouldn't have cranked out four of them if there was no market, or if people thought they were as forgettable as they seem to nowadays (well, the crowd back then did get suckered with CONCORDE, but its poor returns killed the series). Let's face it, the series is old enough now that a major portion of today's potential audience probably has no knowledge of it whatsoever, or remembers it in a poor light (deservedly or undeservedly depending on which entry one is viewing), and none of the movies are unequivocal classics so in theory no one would cry foul. Mind you, airline disasters are so common in movies these days they're practically tossed in as trailer fodder, parts of larger wholes stuffed to the gills with Spectacle® (as in IRON MAN 3, for example). Either that or they turn up in truly cornball brain-killers like SNAKES ON A PLANE. Still, with the right cast and a decent script—and without the mocking sense of irony that taints so many "upgrades" of old shows laughed off as corny by today's standards—it could be quite good.

    (why did Helen Hayes win Best Supporting Actress)
    Lifetime achievement award in disguise? Probably wouldn't have been the first one, and certainly wasn't the last if it was!  

    but I cannot help feeling I could/should have spent my time watching a different film.
    As the guy who willingly watched both THE PHYNX and FROM HELL IT CAME recently, I can say that you could've done a lot worse. Laughing Screening a few of Ross Hunter's earlier productions (which you might have done already without knowing it) tends to place AIRPORT in a more appropriate light, one that I think rightly distances it from the all-star "Who Will Survive?" epics that would follow. It ain't no classic, and I'd be lucky to get through it without fast-forwarding large passages of it these days, but I think it's too often judged in light of what came afterward, for better and for worse.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:24 am

    I'm aware of that fact (technically for only a few days Very Happy), but (and the big but) is that I have not seen it. So I completely agree with you and I would like to eventually get to that movie.

    Thanks for the comments on the other Airport films. I will keep that in mind as I do have the boxset.

    Of course there are much worse films and I liked this movie for what it was. It is just one of those in-the-middle movies for me.

    I think you are probably right with Helen Hayes. Reminds me of when Sean Connery won for The Untouchables (the media's comments not mine, I liked his performance quite a bit).

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:23 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I'm aware of that fact (technically for only a few days Very Happy), but (and the big but) is that I have not seen it.  So I completely agree with you and I would like to eventually get to that movie.

    Watching ZERO HOUR for the first time—even with the knowledge that it inspired AIRPLANE—was still a pretty big jaw-dropper for me. It's amazing how absolutely similar they are, and how much the latter film makes the exact same dialogue hilarious simply by altering the context or situation ever so slightly, or inserting a different reaction shot or throwaway line ("I know, I had the lasagna."), or sprinkling patented ZAZ visual gags into the background.

    I believe the single DVD of ZERO HOUR is out-of-print, so the prices have crept up, but you can still get it quite cheap as part of Warner's CULT CAMP CLASSICS VOL. 3 with a couple of other "terrorized travelers" movies, one of which—1972's SKYJACKED—is a superior airline hostage drama to AIRPORT and probably more of a precursor to the 70's disaster cycle.

    In fact, all of the CULT CAMP CLASSICS boxed sets can still be had pretty cheaply, which is a good way to get ahold of several officially OOP titles (and then flip 'em for a profit if you don't like them!). The series title says it all, but nearly every film in these sets has some significance (even if minor) to the bigger picture you've been diligently assembling over the years.

    EDIT: Speaking of spoofery, I saw the movie TED recently and thought it was pretty good, although I find Seth MacFarlane's referential/cutaway humour to be among the laziest kinds of comedy, especially as he narrowcasts it largely to his own generation (of which I'm a part). The raunch opens it up to a wider audience, I think. That said, one gag that really struck me as desperate was when Mark Wahlberg flashed back to how he met Mila Kunis, and the flashback was an exact recreation of the scene from AIRPLANE! where Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty reenact SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER in a dockside bar, which was itself a flashback!. Talk about reaching for a laugh . . .

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:16 am

    I was so-so to good on Ted (ranging from **½ to ***/****). Some of the gags were quite funny. I was less impressed by the lazy rom-com buddy plot (seriously replace Ted with Owen Wilson and what movie do you have?)

    Thanks for the mentions of the Camp Classics. You might not believe this (or you might depending on knowing my buying patterns, but I bought all the sets in December when FYE had great prices (with coupons I got each set for about 9 to 10 dollars.) So I have Zero Hour Very Happy.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:23 pm

    Cavalcade (1933: Frank Lloyd):

    I finally have seen all Academy Award Best Picture winners. I have been at one-to-go for a few years now, waiting for this film to be released on DVD. It is fun to finish cinematic goals and since there are so many lists it is off to other ones. This is among the least well known of the winners, the last to have a DVD release though it is nowhere near the worst that I have seen (like The Broadway Melody.)

    This very British American film of a Noel Coward play is a series of events in the lives of the aristocratic Marryots and some of their staff starting at the end of 1899 and ending at the beginning of 1933. This leads them through the Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria (January 22, 1901), the Titanic, World War I, the evil modern Jazz influence (OK this aspect seems a little dated and veering toward Reefer Madness territory.) It is an anti-war film and sometimes overly so with montages that reminded me of the better Wooden Crosses (Raymond Bernard; this came out the year before) that go on longer than they should.

    My biggest qualm with it is that it feels like a truncated version of a play. The film is too short to cover that many years and the amount of characters it has. Popular stage actress Diana Wynyard would win Best Actress but for me her style is too stage driven for the camerawork. What surprised me is that Clive Brook (as Robert Marryot) came off quite well with a more subdued acting style (his filmography is much more vast than Diana’s). I had seen him in the earlier Shanghai Express a few months ago which he used a trans-Atlantic accent making him sound a lot like Cary Grant so I suspect his accent in here is closer to his real one.

    This is a decent film and worth watching if you into 1930s cinema. If you into films about World War I (though I would recommend movies like The Big Parade, Wings or Wooden Crosses first) then you might enjoy this as well. However, there are plenty of better Best Picture winners and even films that came out that year (Lady for a Day, Duck Soup, 42nd Street …) that you might want to see instead.

    The commentary on here is by Richard Schickel. I have listened to two of his commentaries so far and have felt disappointed with both. Here he has too many pauses, does not seem overly interested in the film and according to David Krauss of Blu-ray review “misidentifies actress Margaret Lindsay.” Count how many times he states this is the actor’s best film (which is mostly true, but he repeats it Ad Nauseum.)

    http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/8840/cavalcade.html

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:31 pm

    Love Parade (1963: Ching Doe: Hong Kong)

    I might do a proper review/essay of this at some point, but I want to put it aside for a few reasons: to watch more of Linda Lin Dai as well as the director and to watch (or rewatch) the well-known Doris Day and Rock Hudson films which I believe several scenes and possibly plot have some similarities.

    This has been written about as a musical, but I think that is erroneous. This is first and foremost a romantic comedy. Now there are three segments that some have considered musical interludes, but two of them are actually a fashion presentation to a large audience with music in the background but only once did a couple actually sing.* Those familiar with Busby Berkeley musicals will recognize a few similarities like the insanely large sets that no real audience could have seen and the transitions from a fake decorated scene to a live action one.

    The sets are exquisite and the use of color is quite good. Some of the dolly shots are bumpier than they should be. The plot itself is a rather pedestrian romantic comedy where almost every review I have read notes of the similarities between the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films. There is also a too quick reconciliation at the end that just does not work. Lin Dai’s character is rather annoying, though her acting is good, and if they have issues that early in the marriage just imagine what might happen later.

    Even though he had acted in a decent amount of films by this point, King Hu had not directed yet. It is interesting to see him act in a basic “third-wheel” role – though his character is strangely overfriendly for losing someone he had proposed to.

    * The music appears to be diegetic (a film term meaning that it takes place within the universe of the movie and in this case is heard by the audience in the movie while watching the fashion show.)

    Sources:
    Unfortunately there is not much book material that I found on the film with a few brief mentions in The Shaw Screen: A Preliminary Study and China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema.
    Linda Lin Dai Week: Love Parade (1963): (Dec. 9, 2010)
    Brns.com Review: concentrates more on Peter Chen Ho. Images look too bleached on the site compared to what you see in the film and on the above link.

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:41 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Love Parade (1963: Ching Doe: Hong Kong)
    I might do a proper review/essay of this at some point, but I want to put it aside for a few reasons: to watch more of Linda Lin Dai as well as the director and to watch (or rewatch) the well-known Doris Day and Rock Hudson films which I believe several scenes and possibly plot have some similarities.

    Years ago at the 'old place', I mentioned that when I finally get around to watching/reviewing my mountains of Shaw discs, I may just organize them in chronological order and start at the beginning (or as close to it as my stacks allow!).

    Interesting thoughts on LOVE PARADE. I own it but (surprise, surprise) haven't watched it (that's not one of the ones I sent down to Modesto, is it?). Judging by the photos from it at BRNS, you're probably in the right ballpark with the Hudson/Day films. Having seen all of them, they certainly seem to share a visual palette with LOVE PARADE (or vice versa, I suppose). I'm wondering also if something like Stanley Donen's FUNNY FACE might also have been an influence? Hollywood pictures set in the world of high fashion, or otherwise showcasing glamourous fashion shows, go back a ways (i.e. COVER GIRL), so it stands to reason that other film centers would see the value of showcasing the latest designer fashions to receptive, aspirational lower- to middle-class audiences, especially in the 60's. Interested to see where your research takes you on this one. Wink

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:25 pm

    Brian T wrote: ...Interesting thoughts on LOVE PARADE. I own it but (surprise, surprise) haven't watched it (that's not one of the ones I sent down to Modesto, is it?). Judging by the photos from it at BRNS, you're probably in the right ballpark with the Hudson/Day films. Having seen all of them, they certainly seem to share a visual palette with LOVE PARADE (or vice versa, I suppose). I'm wondering also if something like Stanley Donen's FUNNY FACE might also have been an influence? Hollywood pictures set in the world of high fashion, or otherwise showcasing glamourous fashion shows, go back a ways (i.e. COVER GIRL), so it stands to reason that other film centers would see the value of showcasing the latest designer fashions to receptive, aspirational lower- to middle-class audiences, especially in the 60's. Interested to see where your research takes you on this one. Wink

    What have you watched lately? Smile How is your question coming? I've been catching up on some important films of late as well (All About my Mother, A Man Escaped, The Long Goodbye)

    Yes it is one of the movies you gave me. Thanks again for that set. I wanted you to know I'm making good use of it.

    Oh, while I do not forget (I figured this out by accident.) The sleeve-only Shaws are definitely boots (of course direct copies of the source), but here is the kicker -- they are R0 (weird, the only one I could not play on my machine -- after finding this out was The Big Holdup; originally it did not play on my machine I thought because it was R3 but it is for other reasons.

    I've seen Funny Face a few times, like it quite a bit (still not sure why anyone thinks Audrey has a funny face). I don't think it is an influence to this film from a story standpoint, Linda is much more like Doris Day than Audrey. Not sure from a visual, though I will give it more thought.

    That is cool that you have seen all the Hudson/Day films. I bought them all for my Mom, so I should borrow them sooner than later. I've been meaning to watch Pillow Talk for ages. I'll keep Cover Girl in mind.

    Love Parade is one of the films where you have to do your own research Very Happy. Weird that I finally get The Shaw Screen book and there is very little information about the past four Shaw's I wrote on.

    I think people were blindly writing that that film was a musical. I understand getting the fashion shows confused, but still.

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:57 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What have you watched lately? Smile How is your question coming?
    I've been meaning to post another update here for a while now. Haven't been as prolific the past couple of months as I was before due to some family issues, but I haven't stopped either. When they're not the usual fodder for my ongoing 'mission', they're a nice escape sometimes. I'll try to post an update shortly.

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Yes it is one of the movies you gave me.  Thanks again for that set.  I wanted you to know I'm making good use of it.
    Oh, while I do not forget (I figured this out by accident.)  The sleeve-only Shaws are definitely boots (of course direct copies of the source), but here is the kicker -- they are R0 (weird, the only one I could not play on my machine -- after finding this out was The Big Holdup; originally it did not play on my machine I thought because it was R3 but it is for other reasons.[/quote]

    Can't remember which "kind" of boots I tossed in that box (for free, I trust??). They used to run the gamut up here, from plain-Jane off-brand DVD-r's in little white paper envelopes right up to factory-pressed DVDs in those professionally-printed slipcovers with the paper sleeve tucked inside. Not that I made a habit out of buying them — probably 95% of my Shaw discs are the real deal — but they were often a welcome last resort when "official" supplies both locally and online ran out.

    If nothing else, the higher-end versions demonstrated the kind of manufacturing quality that went into them up here for a time -- fully pressed discs, professionally printed/folded sleeves, etc.. When the usual online suspects used to pronounce that bootlegs were little more than cheap-o DVD-r's slipped inside badly photocopied paper sleeves, I knew they'd never been to Toronto! Very Happy

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:That is cool that you have seen all the Hudson/Day films.  I bought them all for my Mom, so I should borrow them sooner than later.  I've been meaning to watch Pillow Talk for ages.
    I'd known about the Hudson/Day pictures probably since I was a kid and caught glimpses of them channel-hopping past the Saturday Afternoon Movie (or whatever), but I had zero interest in finishing any of them at that age. Much later, trigger for my finally getting around to them was actually 2003's DOWN WITH LOVE, which was such a slavish and lively recreation of the whole cotton candy "world" of those films (especially PILLOW TALK) that they had to be added to my mental watch list.

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Love Parade is one of the films where you have to do your own research Very Happy.  Weird that I finally get The Shaw Screen book and there is very little information about the past four Shaw's I wrote on.
    I have a feeling there are a LOT of Shaw Movies that will force us down that path. There seems to be maybe 150-200 highv-visibility Shaw films for which you can find reportage ranging from mediocre to outstanding around the web. The rest? You're on your own. It's sad that even the HKIFF books aren't as thorough as I though they might be.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:11 pm

    Brian T wrote:... Can't remember which "kind" of boots I tossed in that box (for free, I trust??). They used to run the gamut up here, from plain-Jane off-brand DVD-r's in little white paper envelopes right up to factory-pressed DVDs in those professionally-printed slipcovers with the paper sleeve tucked inside. .

    Yes they were free (thanks again.)  They were the factory pressed DVDs with professional print slipcovers (though the slipcovers do have spelling issues.)

    Mississippi (1935: A. Edward Sutherland)

    Have you ever watched a movie and found a particular aspect of the film which you were not expecting to be superb? Some of the cinematography in this film is fantastic. There is some deep focus tracking shots, some fascinating use of mirror reflections and some beautiful compositions. While Charles Lang (Peter Ibbetson, The Uninvited) is credited with the cinematography (no slouch himself), I speculate that some of the more difficult shots are done uncredited by Karl Struss who is known to have worked on this film. I am not sure of why he was not credited though I am suspecting it has to do with scheduling conflicts with Struss having to work on Goin’ to Town.

    This is the only film with both Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields. This movie is not as well-known as several of either actor’s films, but they do work nicely together. Crosby is slightly miscast as “The Singing Killer”, though I still enjoyed his performance (I’ll have a better opinion on has performance after a rewatch.) His voice is superb as he sings several Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart songs. This is available on the R1 Backlot Universal Series: The Bing Crosby Collection.

    The card game where Fields keeps getting a fifth ace is a classic (shown below.) I have seen this previously in a documentary on Fields and I am finally glad to get to see this movie in its entirety.



    College Humor (1933: Wesley Ruggles)

    False advertising is certainly nothing new.  Here we have Bing Crosby top billed though he is actually a supporting character to over-aged college goofball Freshmen Barney Shirrel (Jack Oakie at the tender age of 29 in this) whose family is in the butter business. Luckily Barney is as good with the pigskin as his sister (Mary Carlisle) is with the guys as she plays the field with both the Professor (Bing), you would think that he would be smart enough not to date a student so openly, and Mondrake (Richard Arlen at the college age of 33-34; Criterion fans will recognize him in Island of Lost Souls) a star football player for the school who is jealous and a bit of an ass.

    George Burns and Gracie Allen are barely in it though they have one hilarious scene as caterers and one additional small scene toward the end of the film.  I was hoping more for a Crosby, Burns and Allen film, but that was not the case here.

    If you are a fan of Crosby you get to see him perform “Down the Old Ox Road”, “Learn to Croon”, “Moon Struck”, and “Play Ball.”  The first two were repeated a few too many times and I wonder if that was to increase sales of those particular songs.  This is not a particularly well made film.  The college students are generally too old (well at least the guys were), the plot has some misleading superfluous scenes and ends up leaving out a couple of crucial points at the end.  Plus the direction is basic.  There are a couple of interesting sociopolitical points that might increase the interest in the film: this is a pre-code film with a few scenes and dialog that would not have been allowed later, college itself was more of an upper class institution during the time of the depression and also college football was one of the most popular American sports during this time.  There are several films that combine college and football that are better including The Freshman (1925) and Horse Feathers (1932).

    This is available only on the R1 Set The Bing Crosby Collection (College Humor / We're Not Dressing / Here Is My Heart / Mississippi / Sing You Sinners / Welcome Stranger) which is less than 11 dollars on Amazon right now.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:57 pm

    I have seen a couple of Boris Karloff supporting roles the past week. First with the original The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947: Norman Z. McLeod) and the following. It was not be design, but a luckily coincidence since I am a big fan. The latter which I will be discussing was the more interesting role for him as well as a better constructed movie.

    Lured (1947: Douglas Sirk)

    This is a well done and good looking murder mystery from Douglas Sirk. You can see some typical Sirk touches including posh scenery and cinematography (having cinematographer William H. Daniels definitely helps with the chiaroscuro) a sublime use of mirrors which I seem to find in all the films I have seen of his. There is short mirror sequence with Karloff as he stares at a mirror directly to the camera while delivering a few taut and tantalizing lines. Karloff is excellent in his short and succinct role. The DVD cover and his billing make me think he was going to have a bigger role, but he does not. Expect about five minutes at the most.

    Lucille Ball stars as Sandra Carpenter, a dance hall girl who catches the eyes of a socialite Robert Fleming (George Sanders). But she also catches the eye of the police as she is talked into helping them in trying to find what is happening to several young women, including a friend of hers, who have disappeared after disturbed poetry is sent to the police. Sander’s stands out well here in what seems to me a typical role for him as the urbane, flamboyant aristocrat (either untitled or titled) full of quick witticisms. My favorite performance of his was Lord Henry Wotton of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Though Ball’s character does well playing against his persona with her own been-around personality. I found it interesting that Ball is talked about having red hair a few times which really does not stand out in the black and white. Apparently she died her hair for the first time in 1944’s DuBarry Was a Lady and it was almost a trademark by the time of this film.

    I was not satisfied with who the actual killer was. The killer’s performance was fine; it just did not match several events and situations earlier on. I cannot go into it without giving away spoilers, though one of the message boards at IMDB goes into this.

    This is a remake of 1939 French film Pièges directed by Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Criss Cross). Unfortunately it does not have a DVD release or much on Youtube. I am quite interested in the Erich von Stroheim performance (Boris Karloff plays the analogous character in this film) and the director from Siodmak though Maurice Chevalier sounds miscast.

    Valaida Snow from Pieges

    Cash

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:30 pm

    All is Lost (2013) A-

    Conceptually the alter ego of "Gravity" but arguably just as good.

    Dallas Buyers Club (2013) B+

    The fantastic performances from the unlikeliest of sources (Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto) override most of the film's flaws including marginalizing the medical community into cold money grubbing opportunists and the usually weak Jennifer Gardner who still can't deliver a fuck you performance convincingly.

    Captain Phillips (2013) B-

    My initial reluctance to see the film based on the very public backlash from the real life crew of the Maersk Alabama who characterized Capt. Phillips as less than heroic and who [purposely] steered the doomed vessel into known pirate territory to cut corners proved a moot point in Paul Greengrass's adaptation of the events. It ain't about the personality or the intentions; it's about man's need to survive a theme that likely reverberated through A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips as it did in its feature film adaptation. But Greengrass is Greengrass and it's all of 15 min before the pirates board and the action begins. The book was supposedly dull in spots so perhaps it's for the better but the intensity Greengrass brought to his adaptation of the Bloody Sunday incident a decade ago by playing it straight is perhaps sorely missing here.

    Throwdown (2004) C-

    An unusually hackneyed and redundant offering from director Johnnie To, who despite being slightly over-hyped, at least is rarely ever as dull as this overrated judo homage.

    Fallen Angels (1995) B-

    Personally, I think I've finally come [somewhat] into alignment with this film -- enough, anyways, to give it a positive review after years of being left feeling frustrated by its mediocrity. Its themes have finally struck a cord with me even when its various oddball characters still remain a tad vexing.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) C+

    Some of what went into the film surprisingly holds up; some of it predictably does not.

    The Armstrong Lie (2013) B

    More interesting than flabbergasting really as the documentary doesn't so much as reveal or uncover as Alex Gibney's previous efforts might have given Lance Armstrong's very public media battle over his allegations of doping his way to multiple Tour de France victories (the film begins with the fallen angel's confessional). What remains startling is a look back at the cyclist's hubris and the realization that he crushed some of his detractors in court -- who we know [now] were only telling the truth.

    The Education of Sonny Carson (1974) C+

    Carrie (2013) F

    Unlike the recent onslaught of nauseating remakes this one doesn't bastardize its source material rather it misses every golden opportunity as an update in this world we live in of religious fundamentalism at home and abroad as well as our frightening bullying/teen suicide epidemic. Remaking a distinctly 1970's era TV after school special from hell was going to be tricky and they failed miserably.

    Thief (1981) B

    Michael Mann's debut is both arresting and overwrought not dissimilar from his future endeavors.

    Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) B

    The outstanding performances by leads Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones override this standard big screen biopic chronicling the rags of the Kentucky hills to the riches of the Grand Ole Opre. I was left feeling slightly disappointed despite never enjoying the genre that the First Lady of Country didn't have a more engaging back story or at least not in this adaptation.

    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) B-

    The first installment surprised me despite my disappointment it lacked the satirical edge of "Battle Royale" (2000); this one if far less intense and involving and despite regularly eschewing blandness let's hope the rather political mid-section is a mere formality on the road to bigger and better things to come later this year and the next.

    The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) A-

    I was one of the  very few people who enjoyed "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004) and "The Darjeeling Limited" (2007) as much as I did while being just as disappointed by "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (2009) and "Moonrise Kingdom" (2012) as much as I was for their focus on the Wes Anderson aesthetic and idiosyncratic more than the Wes Anderson story. What a sweet confection his latest offering is that once again combines both from the days of yore ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tennebaums").

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:50 am

    “Life is suffering.”

    The Life of Oharu (1952: Kenji Mizoguchi)

    Mizoguchi is one of the best directors with the crane shot. The majority of his shots are taken from it even if it appears to be standing still. It always has the potential to be whisked away within the same unbroken take. He specializes in long takes (not Bela Tarr length) which was especially hard to do with this production. He had to set up the sets in a warehouse near a railroad and since he preferred direct sound to post-sync sound he did take after take to get the scenes to his liking which was often interrupted by the nearby trains. But with his auteuristic fervor and perspicacious direction he helmed a consummate jidai geki that is comparable to his other masterpieces Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff.

    There is not much respite from the calamity and heartbreaks that betakes Oharu. But she goes on with an austere dignity that is beaten but not broken even when Fate seems to be against her at literary every turn. Sometimes the pathos seems to be almost overbearing and it starts all from one single event. She falls in love with a lower caste retainer Katsunosuke (Toshiro Mifune who is really only in a few minutes of the film) which causes his death and her and her family to be exiled (kind of selfish for him to push so hard since he knew what might happen because of this.) We know from the beginning that she ends up as a lowly prostitute, but we are going to witness her gradual decline that is a combination of circumstance and the unfortunateness of being a woman in the Edo period (with the analogy to modern times as well.)

    While this is taken from Saikaku Ibara’s novel Koshuku Ichidai Onna the tone according to scholar Dudley Andrew is completely different as Mizoguchi incorporates a melodramatic approach compared to the satirical and more lurid book. In some ways the titular character reminds me of the heartbroken heroine in Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria. This is in many cinema canons like Kinema Junpo Top 100 Japanese Movies, Roger Ebert’s Great Movie List and the aggregate list TSPDT 1000.

    The Criterion release is quite good. There is an illustrated essay by Dudley Andrew Mizoguchi's Art and the Demimonde which interesting enough goes over Utamaro and His Five Women quite a bit making me wonder if Criterion will release this eventually. Andrew also does a commentary on the film for the first 28 minutes only repeating some of the material he had in the illustrated essay.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:20 pm

    “We belong dead!” – Bride of Frankenstein

    The Walking Dead (1936: Michael Curtiz)

    Continuing my Boris Karloff watches I finally found a copy of this film which is part of the Karloff and Lugosi Horror Classics which I had just purchased. This is easily a worthy watch for fans of early horror films. The shooting schedule was 18 days and the script was not finished when the filming began. This leaves a few plot angles dangling as well as an uneven pace throughout the short film. This hurried approach does do some damage to the quality of film; however, the result is still quite good. The German Expressionistic chiaroscuro is superlative as well as the use of the camera. Unfortunately it could have been a classic with a tighter script and more scenes.

    Karloff shines as the wronged man John Ellman who after serving some time in jail for manslaughter is quickly assigned the patsy and even his lawyer Nolan (Ricardo Cortez: The Maltese Falcon) is part of the plot against him and he is sent to the electric chair for a murder he did not commit. A couple comes forth with freeing evidence too late to save him initially. But Dr. Beaumont (Edmund Gwenn most famous for Miracle on 34th Street) has the ability to bring him back from death leaving Karloff with some Bride of Frankenstein hair, a noticeable limp and somewhat of a hunchback. Other than that he has a supernatural ability to know who was responsible for his death. Karloff being a benign soul only asks “why?” to his murderers, but the result to their astonishment is death. But how is it happening?

    The 1930s is one of my favorite decades of horror and this film only furthers my opinion. Curtiz is a good to great director, he helped helm such classics as Casablanca and Mildred Pierce as well as the earlier horror film Mystery of the Wax Museum. Here we have a mixture of gangster, religious allegory and horror film that is recommended to anyone who is a fan of Karloff and/or earlier horror movies.

    An informative and fawning commentary from Greg Mank is somewhat marred by the low volume of his voice which now and then switches to a much higher volume for the film making every transition jarring to the ears.

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