January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

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January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby J.M. Vargas » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:20 pm

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY! :D

There's a ton of stuff I watched as far back as Thanksgiving (and as early as this evening) that I haven't written about. So here's PART ONE:

Rewatched CASABLANCA (1942) on HD-DVD with the Roger Ebert commentary track. Funny how, even though I know Michael Curtiz directed "Casablanca," I can't bring myself to put his name before the movie's title. To me the movie doesn't belong to any one actor or crew member (not even Bogart, whose Rick Blaine needs interaction with the other characters to bring out the best in him and viceversa) but it's that organic photoplay that lives and pulsates to its own synergy of audience friendly near-perfection. With all due apologies to Nobuhiko Ôbayashi's "House," "Casablanca" is the only motion picture with any right to start by calling itself 'A MOVIE' because that's what it is: not Michael Curtiz' vision, not the Bogey-Bergman show, not the Claude Rains show or the Dooley 'Sam' Wilson musical hour... it's just "Casablanca." It's also nice to have Uncle Roger's voice forever immortalized while talking about a movie he truly loves even as his critiques of it (those darned transit papers) are valid without taking away from its worth.

Rewatched Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951) on DVD with the commentary track on. Robert Walker was DA MAN. Shame his career was cut short because he could have gone on to become an even greater character actor (probably in a few other Hitchcock movies) although I doubt he would have ever topped his Bruno Antony role. I'm not a fan of scholarly commentary tracks that piece together audio clips from interviews (no spontaneity) but the one here is decent enough.

Rewatched Charles Laughton's NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) on Criterion Blu-ray. It just gets better and better with repeat viewings. In its own twisted way this should become a Christmas (Halloween?) classic just like "It's A Wonderful Life" and be shown regularly on network TV. Will never happen but hey, a cinephile can dream. :)

Rewatched Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1960) on Blu-ray a couple more times (including the Stephen Rebello commentary track) plus all the extras/bonuses on the BD (same as the DVD CE). So, this past week I've watched "Psycho" more times than I did during my previous 37 years of age. Maybe it's because "Dexter" just ended its latest season and I'm pinning for a substitute, but I just cannot get enough of Norman and his crazy mother, the Crane sisters (and that hunk of meat named John Gavin they both take turns dragging around), Herrman's score, Balsam's Arbegast, Hitch's impish sense of humor, etc. The sequels are next (saw them once 18-20 or so years ago and only remember them being better than I expected) but I just don't have it in me to give Van Sant's 1998 shot-for-shot remake the courtesy of a tryout. What does the peanut gallery say?

Rewatched Ronald Neame's THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972) and John Guillermin's THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974) on DVD with their respective commentary tracks on. These two Irwin Allen productions are inseparable to me as the only really good disaster movie's from the 70's in which everything (premise, execution, star power, WOW factor, etc.) lived up to their own standards/hype. Everything else from this genre (including the disaster movies Allen directed himself) were just different variations on craptastic, guilty-pleasure trash. "Poseidon" and "Inferno" benefit from having experienced directors like Neame ("Tunes of Glory") and Guillermin ("Rapture") working with good actors while letting Irwin do what he did best: big action sequences on even bigger sets. These aren't the finest acting moments from the likes of McQueen, Hackman, Newman, etc. but it doesn't come across on-screen that these stars are slumming for a paycheck. It's almost reassuring to hear in both movies pre-"Star Wars" John Williams composed scores free of Mickey Mousing notes. And even though "Towering Inferno" is already on Blu-ray (with "Poseidon Adventure" sure to follow any day now) it'll be a long time before anyone pries these well-packed DVD catalogue titles (with their great cover artwork, lobby cards, booklets and stuff) from my cold dead hands. They're a reminder that not too long ago (2005) movie studios still put thought, effort and care into their home video catalogue releases.

In his "Poseidon" commentary Ronald Neame wishes he had dialed back the OOP acting from Hackman and Borgnine when their characters fight/argue; I disagree because, for the first time (and after numerous viewings), Rogo really grew on me and I was actually laughing with (instead of at) Borgnine arguing with Stella Stevens. Watched it earlier this evening (Dec. 31st) and "Poseidon Adventure" makes a great New Year's Eve flick despite the toy boat and Leslie Nielsen endlessly tempting one to laugh out loud. For the "Towering Inferno" commentary F.X. Feeney (who was really good in Criterion's "Night of the Hunter" group commentary) runs out of things to say and resorts too often to play-by-play of what's happening on-screen. Even after all these years and countless viewings though, "Towering Inferno" is one of those movies I get lost into and forget little details (did the two woman that ran on the roof toward the helicopter caused it to crash, or was it the wind all along? Why does Senator Vaughn try so hard to save Richard Chamberlain from killing himself?) that always startle me when they unfold in the narrative. Having just seen them on "Network" it was also weird to watch Faye Dunaway and William Holden with their clothes on. :D

MST3K KTMA-21: LEGEND OF THE DINOSAUR (1989/1977) on DVD for the first time. My trip through the formative years of "MST3K" concludes with yet another badly-dubbed Sandy Frank Japanese import, the show's last KTMA show before going national. Besides being at the top of their game and loose with the riffs (though a few jokes like 'Yellow Broadcasting System' are racist!) Joel and the bots benefit from (a) no little children in the cast (hooray!), (b) a trippy soundtrack (Billy Taylor meets Disco Inferno!), (c) very little actual dialogue from the characters and (d) the bonkers premise of an Earthquake releasing ancient Japanese monsters (not dinosaurs!) trapped below a lake into the surface. And yes, that's the same premise of this summer's bomb "Piranha 3D." Ironically, when it started on Season 1 of the national "MST3K," the show's humor/riffs took a step back from the latter KTMA-era experiments, primarily because they were riffing pretty bad old B&W American poverty row movies. Joel, Trace and J. Elvis Weinstein (whose take on Servo I've learned to appreciate and even like alongside Kevin Murphy's iconic voice) would only be sporadically as funny on the Comedy Channel's early days as they were on KTMA's final shows.

HEART OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER'S APOCALYPSE (1991) on Blu-ray. Except for the absence of even a still image of Harvey Keitel as Willard (for legal reasons I presume) this is as good and informative as a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of a movie can ever get given the time, money and egos involved in the making of "Apocalypse Now." The years separating the on-location old documentary footage from the shooting of the new documentary's talking head interviews help tremendously give both distance and perspective. You will never see Brando the same way again after watching his bug swallowing outtake, or see/hear a still-young F.F. Coppola in various mental stages (tyrant, diva, delusional, self-pity, etc.) and shirtless as he struggles to battle the elements (man-made as well as mother nature) to get his vision filmed. A commentary track by F.F. Coppola and his footage-shooting wife (both recorded separately) achieves a degree of meta-reflection seldom experienced in contemporary media; old Coppola commenting on what middle-aged Coppola circa 1990 was thinking about what young Coppola circa 1977 was doing in The Philippines (all backed by grainy but sharp 16mm footage) is as surreal as any moment in the actual "Apocalypse Now" movie. Not the best movie of 1991 (an honor Gene Siskel bestowed upon it) but a great BD to have alongside the genuine article.

Rewatched Bryan Singer's THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) on Blu-ray. Very soft and old MPEG-2 transfer (released back during the war with HD-DVD) hampers this one from truly shining in high-def. The extra boost in detail over DVD (particularly close-ups of Spacey, Byrne and Palminteri) also highlight how compressed and lacking in space this BD-25 disc is, even without extras (except a dozen space-hugging HD trailers for other MGM/Sony movies like "S.W.A.T." <sigh>). Oh well, unless I have the need to hear Singer, Ottman & co. yap (it's what the old DVD is for), "The Usual Suspects" on BD is still the same endlessly rewatchable whodunit I've always loved.

Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX (2001) on Blu-ray. Before I saw the theatrical version of "Apocalypse Now" with my parents (remember?) I watched "Redux" to refresh my memory. Because of Kilgore's obsession with surfing and the stolen surfing board Lance (Sam Bottoms) is more prominently featured in "Redux," which makes his descent into madness more harrowing and visible (he's more of a background player in the theatrical cut). The French Plantation scene is endless and borderline pointless (plus the French actors are weak); it's one more softening of Martin Sheen's Willard (more playful and 'one of us' with the boat's crew) which just doesn't play as well as Willard's stoic, quiet and inner-conflicted persona Sheen projects in the theatrical version. Watching "Redux" (both the good and bad stuff within its bloated running time) makes one admire the maturity and vision that a younger Francis Coppola showed back in '79 when trimming out the fat from "Apocalypse Now" before its theatrical release. I'm happy to own "Redux," but I'm even more happy that it's an optional version of "AN" within the same BD and not the only one.

BULLETPROOF MONK (2003) on MGM-HD for the first time. Like "The Matrix" with all the soul, myth and charm drained from it, this comic book adaptation is a barrage of now-dated SFX-fueled action stunts that don't pass the laugh test or excite. Chow Yun-Fat tries hard and we still love him (seriously, who doesn't like Tequila? ;-)) but his charm alone cannot sustain an action movie in which director Paul Hunter (a music video guy who hasn't helmed a feature since "BM" bombed at the box office) is more concerned with CG-enhanced camera tricks and PG-13 fight choreography to pay attention to the fact nothing on-screen is working character/storywise. Seann William Scot just effin' grates as Kar (our hero?) and Jaime King looks like she wondered off the "Elektra" set, but at least the heavy (played by Marcus Jean Pirae) is hiss-worthy. This is one those high-def movies where the clarity of the image actually works against the flick by exposing the obvious fakery of the CG character models. This also happened to the "Matrix" sequels, but at least those movies had memorable characters (Neo), good actors (Fishburne) and a vision (the Wachowskis') guiding one past the action scenes. "Bulletproof Monk" doesn't, hence its supreme suckage.

Rewatched FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX (2004) on Blu-ray with the commentary track on. I'm glad these guys (director John Moore & crew) had a blast making this remake of the old Jimmy Stewart classic; their enthusiasm for the project (and jealousy of Dennis Quaid's ripped physique :shock: ) comes through in this commentary. But that still doesn't make the movie any better or more thrilling than your generic, creatively-hampered Hollywood remake. Except as a demo movie for the DTS soundtrack (L-O-U-D) so my sister can play around with her new Blu-ray player "Flight of the Phoenix" has nothing left to offer me.

CONVICTION (2006) on DVD for the first time. This 13-episode spinoff from the "Law & Order" TV series (created to use the built sets from then just-canceled "Law & Order: Trial By Jury" spinoff before "Conviction" also got the ax) is the opposite of the mothership show that spawned it. The personal lives of a dozen or so young NYC prosecutors (including a borderline-ridiculous amount of sex scenes meant to appeal to a young audience) are front and center, with the cases at hand either backdrop or something tied to a cast member's personal issue. There's a ridiculously annoying jazzy score in the background during lots of scenes that nearly drove me bonkers. Except for two of its cast members (Milena Govich and Julianne Nicholson) going on to star in the main "L&O" shows "Conviction" is disposable, forgettable TV that only makes a "L&O" whore like myself miss the mothership even more.

Rewatched SPEED RACER (2008) on Blu-ray a couple of times, once on my parents' 52" Samsung LCD with 120hz refresh rate (i.e. the one's that make movies look like soap operas) which was pure visual nirvana. The mixture of artificial backgrounds, insanely-colorful hues, non-stop camera movement and super-imposed actors works as good as any CG animation in bringing out the liquid-smooth best out of high-def TV's that refresh a screen higher than the used-to-be-standard 60hz refresh rate of regular and plasma TV's. To me, surprisingly, the movie keeps getting better and better with repeat viewings (even Paulie Litt and the chimp's antics grew on me, although there's still way too much of these two on-screen) because of how straight and serious this cast of pros play the crazy stuff the Wachowski brothers ask of them. The scenes between Benno Fürmann (a German actor with nothing else on his resume) and Matthew Fox's Racer X are particularly well acted. As just a demo of how pretty two-dimensional HD can look and/or a wild, imaginative adaptation of an anime property into live action run amok (with a Hollywood budget to match) "Speed Racer" will always park into my winner's circle.

More to come...
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:03 pm

i worked all night swapping my workshop for my office and vice versa...by the time i went to bed at 3am i was too tired to sleep...and too tired to watch anything seriously so basically i set the roku box on Tripping the Rift. if you haven't seen it, it's raunchy sf satire..completely mindless calories that's how i started the year.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Andrew Forbes » Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:07 pm

Dollhouse episodes 1 & 2 (Ghost and The Target—not Echo, aka episode 0). So far I love the show. Very Ghost in the Shell, which I've no doubt was a major influence. The dialogue is smart, but the Whedonisms are dialed way down. It doesn't feel as though all the characters have the same voice as in Buffy and Firefly.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby the5thghostbuster » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:43 pm

The first film of the year is always the most important. It needs to be amazing, breath taking and set the bar high for all to come.

So I watched Horror Island (1941). Fun! Predictable, but fun!
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Boba Fett » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:02 am

Finally got a copyof Beatty's DICK TRACY. Just as much fun as it was 1990 and in 2002 when I watched it again on DVD. A solid "A" film which makes the fact that Disney has been sitting on a fully loaded SE since 2000, which included Beatty's director's cut (Disney cut a lot of character development) makes me fairly angry. At least they gave us a DTS track and an above average anamorphic transfer.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Steve T Power » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:10 am

The Town - Sat down and caught the extended version on Blu-Ray over the weekend. I know it felt longer, but I couldn't pick out individual added bits quite so readily. Either way the movie is a fantastic effort, one of the best crime dramas to come along in ages. The blu-ray was damn purdy as well.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:09 am

Finished the year with a movie about a crazy feminist : I Shot Andy Warhol. Which worked mainly due to Lili Taylor's acting skills. It's an interestingdebut from Mary Harron (American Psycho, The Notorious Betty Page but it's somewhat unevenly paced and not that deep.

Started the new year with a film about a men's man : Patton. Which is a classic I can get behind. Maybe the last of the old-school ''epic'' movies it's both awar movie and a character studyat the same time. Everything works in this one : direction,photography,score,acting....
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Boba Fett » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:14 pm

Steve T Power wrote:The Town - Sat down and caught the extended version on Blu-Ray over the weekend. I know it felt longer, but I couldn't pick out individual added bits quite so readily. Either way the movie is a fantastic effort, one of the best crime dramas to come along in ages. The blu-ray was damn purdy as well.


The extended cut basically added a bad drug addiction subplot and a large continuity error.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Steve T Power » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:51 pm

Boba Fett wrote:
Steve T Power wrote:The Town - Sat down and caught the extended version on Blu-Ray over the weekend. I know it felt longer, but I couldn't pick out individual added bits quite so readily. Either way the movie is a fantastic effort, one of the best crime dramas to come along in ages. The blu-ray was damn purdy as well.


The extended cut basically added a bad drug addiction subplot and a large continuity error.


I noticed the oxy (and had no issue with it), but where was the continuity gaffe?
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby J.M. Vargas » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:24 pm

As promised (threatened?) here's PART DEUX of the stuff I watched in late 2010/first couple of days of 2011 that I didn't write about earlier:

René Clair's A NOUS LA LIBERTE (1931) on TCM-HD for the first time. Owing more than a passing resemblance to the films of Charles Chaplin (who himself would go on to 'borrow' from this very film) and Fritz Lang (the film compositions of "Metropolis," the experimental use of sound in "M," etc.) "À nous la liberté" is a comedic satire on then-modern French society that is mostly heart and message (about the industrial revolution attempting AND FALING to repress human imperfections, like love, that make us who we are) but seldom delivers actual laughs. Like Laurel & Hardy shorts sometimes the painful stuff that happens to Émile (Henri Marchand), Louis (Raymond Cordy) and Jeanne (Rolla France) as their fortunes climb and fall with the opening of a phonograph factory is too dour to make one laugh. You'll have to see Clair's "Le Million" (sweeter & gentler, better sound) and Chaplin's "Modern Times" (funnier, more visually striking) for refined displays of the grand concepts that Clair flirts with here (including a finale straight out of 'Benny Hill's' closing credits) but doesn't quite gel together into a satisfying whole. At least I had a fun time pretending the phonographs were iPads and that the movie was taking place in... wait for it... modern times! :o

Kenji Mizoguchi's SISTERS OF THE GION & OSAKA ELEGY (both 1936) on Criterion Eclipse DVD's for the first time. Though completely different movies I can't separate them since they both feature mostly the same cast (with Isuzu Yamada as the lead in both) and same basic theme: women in Japan had to put up with an unfair double-standard that put them at an unfair disadvantage with their fathers/brothers/co-workers/etc in just making a decent living. In Mizoguchi's movie world a telephone operator is no different than a geisha in the description of 'women,' and in both movies the final outcome sets back the lead women considerably but they're left with the inner-strength and will to carry on. "Osaka Elegy" is the slightly more fun of the two movies because Isuzu Yamada's Ayako is a cute little firecracker that only sleeps with her boss (who is played for laughs as an incompetent buffoon) to get her family out of financial trouble. The lack of appreciation and social outcast status bestowed upon Ayako by family men that should at least appreciate her sacrifices gives the movie's ending (especially a memorable walking shot across a bridge) poignancy that doesn't feel like a cop-out or cheap melodrama. "Sisters of the Gion" is a lot more simplistic and depressing (very little chance of happiness for any character that doesn't have a penis) but showcases Yamada-san's range as she plays the complete opposite of her role in "Osaka Elegy." Yôko Umemura plays the more sympathetic sister that still has optimism (and the self-appointed duty to help her bankrupt lover) until gradually, by the movie's end, these two are left only with each other to face a rough life ahead. Not as polished or nuanced as "Ugetsu" or "Sansho the Bailiff" (masterpieces both), these early movies by Mizoguchi are an interesting look at the vision of a director that's already shaped but getting polished.

Rewatched SLEEPING BEAUTY (1958) on Blu-ray with the commentary track on. I'd forgotten how, even though it starts very girly and childish (a little bit of Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather goes a long way), "Sleeping Beauty" starts kicking ass and getting better as it goes along. Even in the movie's boring passages though (i.e. the drunk scenes) the blemish-free 1080p transfer and Tchaikovsky background music bring out the best out of this animated spectacle. Prince Phillip is still your typical Disney cypher but an infinitely more appealing one than the dude in "Snow White," which helps one root for Phillip when Maleficent goes all-out against him in the still-amazing final battle with the dragon. Pixar's John Lasseter really seems to like this film; his gushing fanboy-ish words of praise in the commentary drown out the sanitized-by-Disney-lawyers comments from Andreas Deja and Leonard Maltin. This is the classic Disney animated movie I like the least but it still ranks as a must-see on BD. It's just too darn purty to not own.

Stanley Kubrick's DR. STRANGELOVE (1963) on Blu-ray. Though the B&W photography and SFX shots don't get an overwhelming boost from being in high-def (unlike, say, "Casablanca" or the Criterion BD of "The Seventh Seal") I don't recall any previous viewings of the movie (in theaters or DVD) in which the close-ups of General Ripper spouting his 'bodily fluids' theory while holding his phallic cigar shook me as much as this one. Sterling Hayden's performance gets a bit lost amidst the looney tunes antics of George C. Scott and Peter Sellers' chameleon roles, but this time it was Sterling's portrayal of hilarious insanity that sold me on the movie's timeless vision of war as the foil of cowardly impotent men (metaphorically speaking) incapable of rationally talking to one another. And holy s*** at the Kubrick idea (which is reprinted in the BD's Digipak booklet) of starting and ending "Dr. Strangelove" with an outer-space hydra monster/narrator poking fun at Earth as an extinct nuclear wasteland useful only for educational purposes. Heavy stuff! Maybe the inception from which the vision hatched for "2001: A Space Odyssey" five years later? Also, where is the War Room pie fight finale? I want to see it, stat.

John Frankenheimer's SECONDS (1966) on TCM-HD for the first time. Saw this last Thanksgiving weekend (right after watching "Speed Racer") alone and late at night. Needless to say it blew my freaking little mind even though I could see the ending coming a continent away (too much "Twilight Zone" training I guess) but, to the movie's credit, knowing what was coming didn't make watching it any less painful or wrenching. I haven't seen enough Rock Hudson movies to have an opinion about the man but, based on his work in "Seconds" alone, he must have been a helluva good performer saddled with s*** roles and scripts. Unlike John Randolph's easy-to-buy willingness to grab an out-of-nowhere escape from his banal middle-aged existence, it's Hudson who sells the idea (and does it convincingly) that his good-looking being is tortured on the inside and wants out (something we now know Rock didn't have to dig too deep within himself to find). James Wong Howe's B&W cinematography is spectacular, Saul Bass' opening credits seem like a continuation of his 'eye' shot from "Psycho," the supporting performances perfect (never have impish little old man in business attire looked more menacing), Jerry Goldsmith's score is excellent and the picture's overall mood so oppressive even during supposedly calm scenes (i.e. the grave-stomping orgy) that it all helps us understand why Hamilton/Wilson does what he does even though we're all screaming at him 'don't do it!' I'm slowly getting the memo (better late than never): Frankenheimer was a very underrated 'auteur' of modern cinema, and "Seconds" is exhibit A. Where's the Blu-ray Criterion?

Nagisa Ôshima's EMPIRE OF PASSIONS (1978) on Criterion DVD for the first time. Far less sexually explicit (but not by that much) though equally steamy, Ôshima's ghost story/erotic thriller has the director firmly at the helm of a rural Japanese cautionary ghost story that could be laughable if handled incorrectly. Instead its yet another exploration of guilt-ridden souls craving physical intimacy while wrestling with society disapproval and inner demons far more scary than anything on-screen (although Takahiro Tamura's Gisaburo as a rickshaw-pushing ghost is mighty creepy). The lovers at the center of the story feel more human (flawed character and all) than their intolerant neighbors, and are thus more accessible than the similar-but-off-putting couple from "In the Realm of the Senses." If you can buy the movie's 26 year age difference between Tatsuya Fuji's Toyoji and Kazuko Yoshiyuki's Seki (instead of the actors' real-life six year age difference) "Empire of Passions" has more brains, eroticism and passion (duh!) than a dozen "Fatal Attractions" and "Basic Instincts" put together.

John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) on Blu-ray. Rented this BD because I don't want to part with the Special Edition's excellent features/superb packaging. While it's still all kinds of awesome this is the first time I've felt "Escape From New York" was moving way too slow and very little actually happens. Maybe it's because I'll be turning 38 this Thursday. :( Kurt is still the man (and Konami owes him "Metal Gear Solid" royalties as far as I'm concerned) but he's more of a poser and pretender than an actual hands-on man of action through most of the movie. And the high-def transfer, sadly, doesn't do much to bring detail out of a Dean Cundey-shot anamorphic picture that was darkly lit to begin with. "Escape From New York's" cast of bad-ass men and women (Borgnine, Hayes, Van Cleef, Barbeau, Dean Stanton, Pleasence, etc.) exist in a dystopian, atmospheric vision of Howard Hawk's motifs trapped in an early 80's exploitation cinema universe. It's 100% pure Carpenter, and thus can never be anything less than goddamn awesome.

GALAXY OF TERROR (1981) on DVD for the first time. Another rental, and that's all I really need out of this decent but joyless ripoff from "Alien." While the better Corman cheap flicks are good for a laugh (especially the B&W one's that wound up skewered on "MST3K") there's also the one's that take themselves seriously and inhabit that no man's land middle-ground between good-enough and passable with little to recommend. Except for the cast (nice mix of character actors like Ray Walston and nobodies like "Happy Days'" Erin Moran), practical SFX work (James Cameron sure knew how to matte paint!) and the bug rape (which isn't kinky or funny, just awkward and gross) "Galaxy of Terror" couldn't get out of my DVD player and back in Blockbuster shelves fast enough.

STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981) on TCM-HD for the first time. I'm not immune to the charms of low-budget early 80's horror movies ("Sleepaway Camp" is one of my all-time favorites) but this one misses the barn-sized target by a wide margin. The premise isn't half-bad (experiments at a local college on young people's minds turns them into murderers) but the cast is so bland ("Superman's" Marc McClure is prominently featured for heaven's sake!), the gore/blood effects so bad (and shot as ineptly as the effects are staged) and the direction so lackluster (lots of point-and-shoot set-ups that aren't even properly framed) that I only found joy when the movie was over. If the relationship between sheriff Brady and son Pete (Michael Murphy and Dan Shor, respectively) was meant to be the moral center of the movie I missed that subplot entirely. And, like Kathleen Turner in "Marley & Me," Louise Fletcher is top-billed for miniscule, forgettable work. Even the Tangerine Dreams soundtrack (how many 80's movies did this band score?) is forgettable. Thanks Bill Condon, you've come a long way to remind me that once upon a decade you put out crap that makes "Madman" and "The Burning" look like "Halloween."

Don Coscarelli's THE BEASTMASTER (1982) on DVD with the commentary track. I'm not a fan of 80's sword & sorcery movies (haven't seen "Labyrinth," "Legend," "Willow," "The Dragonslayer," "The Dark Crystal," "The Princess Bride," etc.) but this low-budget cult classic is the type of well-made cheese that's just fun to watch on a boring Saturday afternoon (like I did on New Year's). Marc Singer's conviction sells us on his heroic antics (buff and bloodless killing machine one moment, tender and smiling dope the next), Tanya Roberts is topless (early 80's PG rating ruled!), trained animals pretend to attack people, friends (John Amos) kick ass alongside the hero and Rip Torn chews off a huge chunk of scenery (a fake pyramid's worth). The primitive pre-CG effects charm rather than hurt (you can clearly see the paint on the black tiger) and the movie just wants to entertain you for two hours. Coscarelli and co-producer/friend Paul Pepperman have a laid-back track in which they share frustrations and their love for the project with delightful candor. Saw this two years ago and it's still a fun little flick.

Rewatched Ivan Reitman's GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) on Blu-ray. I agree with the5thghostbuster that the first movie one sees in the new year is an important one. That's why this guaranteed pleaser (which always makes me laugh and/or brings a smile to my face) was the first movie I saw in 2011 after the New Year's festivity was over. Don't know why but this time the 'wrath of God' speech the guys give to the mayor (which is already hilarious to begin with) struck me as funnier than usual and had me laughing outloud at 3AM. :D

Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND (1986) on DVD. Like the last time I saw it (remember?) I couldn't help but immediately rewatch "From Beyond" a second time with the commentary track after seeing the movie. Stuart Gordon has a directorial style that lacks flash or signature visuals but it always shows you enough (or too much if you're the MPAA!) to keep you going from one unbelievable set-piece to the next without missing a beat. Jeffrey Combs, Ted Sorel (villains don't come nastier than the guy that 'became the thing that ate him') and Barbara Crampton (in what amounts to a "Re-Animator" role reversal with Combs) do terrific work but Ken Foree, sadly, is miscast and just plain bad as the comic relief muscle backing up the 'good' scientists. What the movie lacks in production values (the Pretorious house, Resonator machine and laboratory look super-cheap) it overcompensates for with gory SFX, great cinematography (which does for bright pink hues what "Re-Animator" did for bright green), uniquely grotesque monster designs and a decent Richard Band music score. The commentary is great (Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna tackle production; Combs and Crampton crack endless jokes) and reminded me of the fun making/watching a good horror movie can be. A double-bill of "Videodrome" and "From Beyond" for this year's Halloween WATCHING challenge would open quite a few eyes around here (wink, wink).

James Foley's AFTER DARK, MY SWEET (1991) on Sundance Channel for the first time. It took me two viewings to 'get it' (and also because I wanted to dwell on the simple fact Rachel Ward looks smoking hot!) but this is an underrated film noir about three losers getting together to execute a doomed 'get rich quick' scheme. Jason Patric (looking in the movie a lot like he looks now) makes for both a pathetic but also sympathetic tortured soul as a boxer that's down on his luck and maybe even an escaped mental patient. Jason's physical look and paunchy walk go a long way to sell his character's downward spiral, something the boxing flashbacks (badly staged) and love-making scenes (which show him to be a stud) tend to undercut. There are scenes between 'the Kid' and a local doctor (George Dickerson) so wrapped with homosexual undertones I seriously wondered if they were taking place inside the character's mind. Bruce Dern's Uncle Bud reminds me of a character Peter Weller played on the just-concluded fifth season of "Dexter" that is a lot more pathetic than his threatening exterior indicates; Dern has few scenes but when he's on the movie perks up. And, as the femme fatale, Ward has the delicate task of making us love and hate the way Fay seems to constantly switch sides between Bud and 'the Kid.' The small budget shows but James Foley's direction is tight and focused. Nice little film noir for those that saw "The Killer Inside Me" and were left wanting more Jim Thompson-based movie adaptations.

MST3K #815: AGENT FOR H.A.R.M. (1997/1966) on DVD. This MST3K experiment doesn't get a lot of love from fans (and is permanently saddled with host segments tied to the first half of Season 8's crazy ongoing plot about Mike Nelson blowing-up planets left and right) but it's one of my personal favorites. There's something about a TV pilot masquerading as a theatrical feature that wants to talk and walk like James Bond, but instead produces TV veteran Peter Mark Richman and asks us to buy his Cardigan sweater-wearing behind as a chick magnet with killer moves he learned on the 'judo range.' Since the movie couldn't use the James Bond music Mike and the Bots supply it with their mouths ('da dat DA DAAAAA...') along with an unending litany of hilarious spy-era jokes to complement the 95% action-free flick. The nonsensical plot about a 'spore gun' derived from a meteorite (!), the pretty girl (Barbara Bouchét) who may or may not be related to the 'spore gun' inventor (Carl Esmond) and some interchangeable bad guys can't compete with the majesty and beauty of the movie's hidden lair... a duplex beach home near Venice Beach, CA. :lol: The 'Agent Prince' jokes in "Agent for H.A.R.M" had me laughing harder than at any time since this season's next-to-last "Dexter" season finale.

Mamoru Hosoda's SUMMER WARS (2009) in theaters for the first time. Imagine the relationship between the fictitious Erica Albright character and Mark Zuckerberg from "The Social Network" (if these two were Japanese high-school students) at the heart of an anime crossover between "War Games," "South Park's" Cartoon Wars episodes and Ozu's "Tokyo Story" (?!?!) that takes place both (a) inside a virtual OZ that's like a cross between Facebok & Hello Kitty as well as (b) a traditional & laid-back Japanese Villa. That's "Summer Wars" and, though it has its fair share of gigantic explosions and over-the-top anime action set-pieces, there's a surprisingly restrained touch and sincere attempt to keep the human drama of an extended family gathering for their Matriarch's 90th birthday as prominent and important as the plunging satellite from outer space (and the accounts-gathering cybermonster that threatens all of humanity). There are moments when the director can't shake his roots as the helmer of "Digimon" animated features (especially a climactic scene involving the all-bets-are-off virtual playing of a Hanafuda Koi Koi card game) but the unique look of OZ and its millions of avatars, interesting premise and see-saw between all-out action and pathos (if you've seen "Tokyo Story" I don't need to tell you what happens at the end) makes up for the overwhelming number of characters to keep track of (way too many Jinnouchi family members) and seen-it-a-million-times-before romance between beauty and the geek. Surprised Warner brought this over to the States for a limited theatrical release; the NYC theater I attended last Saturday night only had three paying customers (including me)! :?
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:20 pm

J.M. Vargas wrote:John Frankenheimer's SECONDS (1966) on TCM-HD for the first time. Saw this last Thanksgiving weekend (right after watching "Speed Racer") alone and late at night. Needless to say it blew my freaking little mind even though I could see the ending coming a continent away (too much "Twilight Zone" training I guess) but, to the movie's credit, knowing what was coming didn't make watching it any less painful or wrenching. I haven't seen enough Rock Hudson movies to have an opinion about the man but, based on his work in "Seconds" alone, he must have been a helluva good performer saddled with s*** roles and scripts. Unlike John Randolph's easy-to-buy willingness to grab an out-of-nowhere escape from his banal middle-aged existence, it's Hudson who sells the idea (and does it convincingly) that his good-looking being is tortured on the inside and wants out (something we now know Rock didn't have to dig too deep within himself to find). James Wong Howe's B&W cinematography is spectacular, Saul Bass' opening credits seem like a continuation of his 'eye' shot from "Psycho," the supporting performances perfect (never have impish little old man in business attire looked more menacing), Jerry Goldsmith's score is excellent and the picture's overall mood so oppressive even during supposedly calm scenes (i.e. the grave-stomping orgy) that it all helps us understand why Hamilton/Wilson does what he does even though we're all screaming at him 'don't do it!' I'm slowly getting the memo (better late than never): Frankenheimer was a very underrated 'auteur' of modern cinema, and "Seconds" is exhibit A. Where's the Blu-ray Criterion?


Saw this back in October 2009 and want to see it again. A great, underrated film.

J.M. Vargas wrote:Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND (1986) on DVD. Like the last time I saw it (remember?) I couldn't help but immediately rewatch "From Beyond" a second time with the commentary track after seeing the movie. Stuart Gordon has a directorial style that lacks flash or signature visuals but it always shows you enough (or too much if you're the MPAA!) to keep you going from one unbelievable set-piece to the next without missing a beat. Jeffrey Combs, Ted Sorel (villains don't come nastier than the guy that 'became the thing that ate him') and Barbara Crampton (in what amounts to a "Re-Animator" role reversal with Combs) do terrific work but Ken Foree, sadly, is miscast and just plain bad as the comic relief muscle backing up the 'good' scientists. What the movie lacks in production values (the Pretorious house, Resonator machine and laboratory look super-cheap) it overcompensates for with gory SFX, great cinematography (which does for bright pink hues what "Re-Animator" did for bright green), uniquely grotesque monster designs and a decent Richard Band music score. The commentary is great (Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna tackle production; Combs and Crampton crack endless jokes) and reminded me of the fun making/watching a good horror movie can be. A double-bill of "Videodrome" and "From Beyond" for this year's Halloween WATCHING challenge would open quite a few eyes around here (wink, wink).


I kind of fail to understand the fascination for this one. IMHo it's one of Gordon's lesser films. Here's what I said about it back in 2008
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby HGervais » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:37 pm

I've been singing the praises of Seconds for years. Easily one of the best two or three things John Frankenheimer ever made and one of the best science fiction films made in the latter part of the last century. It's a career best mark for Rock Hudson and the message of people being unable to outrun themselves is a potent one. I for one would love to see a fully loaded Criterion blu-ray of this vastly unknown and criminally underseen American classic.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Boba Fett » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:22 pm

Steve T Power wrote:
Boba Fett wrote:
Steve T Power wrote:The Town - Sat down and caught the extended version on Blu-Ray over the weekend. I know it felt longer, but I couldn't pick out individual added bits quite so readily. Either way the movie is a fantastic effort, one of the best crime dramas to come along in ages. The blu-ray was damn purdy as well.


The extended cut basically added a bad drug addiction subplot and a large continuity error.


I noticed the oxy (and had no issue with it), but where was the continuity gaffe?


Rebecca Hall asks Affleck about his family, specifically where his mother was, twice.

It also got rid of the line from Hamm where he said "only guilty people asks for lawyers" which was a great line that had a nice payoff later.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Attrage » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:59 pm

Well just spent 5 days at the beach so of course in my geeky dvd-phile nature I had to watch good beach movies. They consisted of Jaws (hehe), Cast Away, Adrift (or Open Water 2 if you prefer), The Beach, Piranha, Pirates of the Caribbean, and...wait for it....(do I dare admit this??)...Free Willy. Yes...I watched Free Willy!
I love Jaws. I seem to enjoy it more every time I see it - big, dumb rubber shark and all. Cast Away is also great. Adrift it kind of cool until you find out it wasn't actually based on true events...then it seems a little lame. But it's economical - at 80 minutes, it remains taut and fairly unpredictable, and the performances aren't that bad. The Beach I really like except I'm always kind of let down that it turns out to be a commune of wannabe-hippie-potheads, and I find Tilda Swinton annoying. But Leo's meltdown in the forest (where he starts hallucinating he's in a videogame) and the nutty Robert Carlyle bits make up for it...not to mention that gorgeous island. The cinematography is superb. Pirahna is loads of old school Jaws-ripoff fun, I love it. "People eat fish, Grogan...fish don't eat people!" Pirates of the Caribbean I have a huge soft-spot for - I dunno why, I like the escapism, and I'm a Depp fan. Sometimes a big dumb Bruckheimer session cures the blues. and Free Willy...um...what can I say? Hehe is it enough to say I just really dig Killer Whales? (PLus I'm always secretly hoping it'll turn out to be the Simpsons-style "directors cut" where the whale crushes little Jimmy when it launches over him at the end mwahahahahahahaha)
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby the5thghostbuster » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:51 am

J.M. Vargas wrote:Rewatched Ivan Reitman's GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) on Blu-ray. I agree with the5thghostbuster that the first movie one sees in the new year is an important one. That's why this guaranteed pleaser (which always makes me laugh and/or brings a smile to my face) was the first movie I saw in 2011 after the New Year's festivity was over. Don't know why but this time the 'wrath of God' speech the guys give to the mayor (which is already hilarious to begin with) struck me as funnier than usual and had me laughing outloud at 3AM. :D


Excellent choice sir!

I finally finished off the UNIVERSAL HORROR CLASSIC MOVIE ARCHIVE with Night Monster last night. What an odd one. I am thinking of moving this up to the first review slot of the year on my blog, just to see if I can pin down just what it is that makes the film compelling despite its rather straightforward narrative.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:24 pm

Inception cross Memento with the Matrix - cast is to die for, production is incredible..but was anyone REALLY surprised here? Visually terrific...gotta give it props.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby HGervais » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:02 pm

The Fighter....nothing we have not seen before but really well made. David O. Russell has yet to make a bad movie. Christian Bale has the showy role but it's Mark Wahlberg that carries the movie with this really sad kind of dignity. You walk into it knowing how it is all going to turn out but that is okay. Not top ten for the year great but a really solid, well made movie.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Boba Fett » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:11 pm

HGervais wrote:The Fighter....nothing we have not seen before but really well made. David O. Russell has yet to make a bad movie. Christian Bale has the showy role but it's Mark Wahlberg that carries the movie with this really sad kind of dignity. You walk into it knowing how it is all going to turn out but that is okay. Not top ten for the year great but a really solid, well made movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_kGWWHwUXs
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:44 am

Champion (2005) documentary-biography about Danney Trejo...it's on Netflix Instant Watch..and it's well worth seeing. I didn't know he does so much with drug counseling for youth.

Doctor Who Christmas Carol completely out there where the buses don't run..it reminded me a lot of the Season 4 Christmas special with Kylie Minogue (Voyage of the Damned) in the way they worked in soprano Katherine Jenkins. A stand alone story only tangential to Season 6. The production design is heavy steam punk and the whole FISH in the sky thing smacked of Douglas Adams. Well worth seeing, though I am starting to think that Michael Gambon is being called it to play the same scrooge type character in everything he does these days. My biggest question is how come when he wants it to the TARDIS can do all this really finely tuned time travel, but a lot of the time it seems completely out of control? It all seems very wonky.

Dexter S5 - IMHO Dexter's near escapes are surely getting more and more unlikely. usually you say to yourself "even Brer Rabbit couldn't get out of this one" yet he does, every time and we keep watching to see him do it. This time it was practically unbelivable - but hey, i have already bought into the idea of an altruistic serial killer. All we want to know is when are his friends going to wise up, right? I was very impressed with Julia Stiles, who would have thought she had that performance in her. Think anyone will care come awards time?
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:59 am

Teeth - The underlying premise and Jess Weixler's acting are the reasons to see this one. It's got some clever ideas and the ''empowerement'' aspect of it is kind of neat but it's not really a rewarding watching experience, it's only passable IMHO.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby J.M. Vargas » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:13 am

molly1216 wrote:Dexter S5 - I was very impressed with Julia Stiles, who would have thought she had that performance in her. Think anyone will care come awards time?
The Golden Globes people noticed. ;-)
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby the5thghostbuster » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:02 pm

Took a break from the Classic Hollywood Era films I have been watching as of late to watch Daybreakers last night, which I reviewed here: http://experiencecinematic.blogspot.com/2011/01/daybreakers-spierig-20092010.html

Afterwards, watched the 1997 Spawn film for entirely different reasons. It is increadibly awful, but I have a blast just watching every actor go mad with their performances. It also makes me laugh as the film resulted in the single worst review of Roger Ebert's career: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19970801/REVIEWS/708010303/1023
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Dan Mancini » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:24 pm

the5thghostbuster wrote:It also makes me laugh as the film resulted in the single worst review of Roger Ebert's career.

Ebert should print the opening line on T-shirts and sell them:

"Spawn is best seen as an experimental art film." ~Roger Ebert

I'd buy one.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby the5thghostbuster » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:24 pm

Dan Mancini wrote:
the5thghostbuster wrote:It also makes me laugh as the film resulted in the single worst review of Roger Ebert's career.

Ebert should print the opening line on T-shirts and sell them:

"Spawn is best seen as an experimental art film." ~Roger Ebert

I'd buy one.


Oh hell yes! Actually, I am half tempted to make one myself. Hmmmm.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:08 pm

Frozen....i was a little underwhelmed..much of the danger is dependent on the idea that packs of wolves hunt and kill humans in the US...and in the daylight no less. too bad he had a good idea...he should have made them zombie...zombies i would have believed. btw there have only been two documented fatalities from wolf attack in the US...ever
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Dunnyman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:20 pm

J.M. Vargas wrote:(haven't seen "Labyrinth," "Legend," "Willow," "The Dragonslayer," "The Dark Crystal," "The Princess Bride," etc.)

WTF?
and you use the word cinephile to describe yourself?
Heathen.
For myself, too much of the new year has been football, but did get out to see The King's Speech. Well, depending on how the nominations go, the Oscar's a damn lock for Firth, and Best Supporting Is Rush's. That is one damn fine film. Excellent in every detail.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:32 pm

Chungking Express -Really stylish and full of longing, it's more interested in capturating moments than at creating an involving storyline. I preferred the first story. YMMV,
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:58 am

Being Human S2....there is no way in hell the american version will even touch this show - it is so much more than a genre show.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby J.M. Vargas » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:41 pm

Gabriel Girard wrote:Chungking Express - I preferred the first story. YMMV,
And I (along with the vast majority if internet opinion matters) prefer the second story. I have not been able to get Faye Wong's Chinese version of "Dreams" off of my head since I saw this movie (more so than even the "California Dreaming" song). Tony Leung and Faye make such a cute couple in their own weird, distinctive way. Nothing against Takeshi Kaneshiro or Brigitte Lin (they're both quite good), but their story seemed pointless and one big meandering ramble.

Anywho,

John Frankenheimer's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) on DVD for the first time. I dug this from beneath my pile of 'unwatched' DVD's after writing about "Seconds" (which kicked ass) and watching "Psycho" like a fiend recently. WOW! Janet Leigh is wasted here (small insignificant role) but man, Angela Lansbury is so freaking good in this I'm amazed she got stuck playing Jessica Fletcher-type goodie two shoes roles through most of her career. Mrs. Iselin is one of the most cold, methodical, calculating and loving (that kiss... EEEEUUUUU! :D) movie villains I've ever seen. I almost wish she had succeeded with her scheme just so we could see the can of whoop-ass Mrs. Iselin would have given the guys that turned her son (Laurence Harvey) into a soulless killing machine. Sinatra was really good. His fight with Henry Silva's Chunjin came out of nowhere and blew me away; even when he's just sitting around or talking Frank is on his acting game and sells it. Wish we had seen more of Khigh Dhiegh's Dr. Yen Lo though; he only has a couple of scenes but when he's on (especially the 'dream' demonstrations) Khigh steals the movie from everyone except Lansbury. While the story has a couple of major plot holes (why would Major Marco remain in charge of chasing Raymond Shaw after his decision cost the lives of two people that didn't have to die?) and I was able to see the twist ending coming 20 minutes before it happened (which renders comparisons to the JFK assassination ridiculous, IMHO) Frankenheimer is in such complete control of the movie's look and narrative (especially the televised press conference that James Gregory breaks into with his best McCarthy impression) you just go along for the ride. A classic.

Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) on DVD with the Richard Schickel commentary track. Though his slurred speech was a perfect match to the languid pace of this three-hour movie (not complaining about the length of the movie as much as the way Richard slows down his train of thought instead of trying to have something interesting to say) I actually learned a thing or two from Schickel that I had never thought before watching "TGTBATU." I never made the connection between the World War II experiences that Leone went through and the parallels between that war and the Civil War in this movie. I also never noticed that the first guy we see in the movie after the credits is the guy that comes looking for Tuco in the hotel while the latter is taking a bath. I wish there was a new DVD or BD of the US theatrical version released back in '68 because, as nice as it is to have the longer version with previously missing scenes (and the elder Eastwood/Wallach sounding like heavy smokers!), the new scenes are either filler or redundant (skipping chapters isn't a solution). Funny how, considering Eastwood is at his hero peak and Lee Van Cleef the perfect mofo heavy, Eli Wallach comes close to stealing the movie with his devilish grin and 'f*** everybody else' attitude.

MYRA BRECKINRIDGE (1970) on HBO Special-HD. I remember seeing this a long time ago but, like Myron/Myra waking up from a dream, I didn't remember most of it until the high-definition picture slapped me in the face... hard! I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't read the opening credits because of the hard-to-see fonts. This is the first movie I've ever seen in which every line reading/take/scene/performance/actor is (a) in it's own private orbit and (b) a non sequitur to what came before and what comes right after. Even the insertion of old movie clips to spice the humor falls flat (the TV show "Dream On" would go on to perfect this concept) because this is just one pathetic movie-length showbiz freak show joke that falls flat. Raquel Welch is kind-of fun and pretty to look at (the opposite of seeing Rex freakin' Reed tagging along) but John Huston and Mae West (who gets to have her way with a puppy-young Tom Selleck) are so OTT and unlikable their scenes just wash over you like a dunk of sewer. Not as awful as I expected given the notoriety, "Myra Breckinridge" is glossy trash.

REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER (1975) on MGM-HD for the first time. Very underrated NYC crime story (with "Godfather"-type fonts in the credits and on-location NYC photography straight out of "French Connection" and "Serpico") about an undercover policewoman (Susan Blakely), the criminal elements she's involved with (a drug dealer played by Thomas 'Tony King' Henderson) and the rookie cop (Michael Moriarty with a full head of long hair!) that falls for the undercover cop without knowing her background. Great supporting performances by Yaphet Kotto, Hector Elizondo, Dana Elcar, Richard Gere (his first movie) and, in the movie's most memorable scene involving an amputee chasing a cab across Gotham, Bob Balaban. A foot chase across city landmarks (Winter Garden theater, Saks Fifth Ave., Times Square, etc.) brings out the best out of this high-def transfer, a time capsule of a bygone grindhouse era that even reputable flicks like these emulated.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:31 pm

J.M. Vargas wrote:
Gabriel Girard wrote:Chungking Express - I preferred the first story. YMMV,
And I (along with the vast majority if internet opinion matters) prefer the second story. I have not been able to get Faye Wong's Chinese version of "Dreams" off of my head since I saw this movie (more so than even the "California Dreaming" song). Tony Leung and Faye make such a cute couple in their own weird, distinctive way. Nothing against Takeshi Kaneshiro or Brigitte Lin (they're both quite good), but their story seemed pointless and one big meandering ramble.


While the second couple is certainly cuter I didn't get Faye Wong's motivation for messing around in Leung's apartment. The first part exudes ''cool'' from its every pore and it's why I liked it better. As for internet opinion...I'm often at odds with it, no surprise there.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby the5thghostbuster » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:22 pm

Gabriel Girard wrote:
J.M. Vargas wrote:
Gabriel Girard wrote:Chungking Express - I preferred the first story. YMMV,
And I (along with the vast majority if internet opinion matters) prefer the second story. I have not been able to get Faye Wong's Chinese version of "Dreams" off of my head since I saw this movie (more so than even the "California Dreaming" song). Tony Leung and Faye make such a cute couple in their own weird, distinctive way. Nothing against Takeshi Kaneshiro or Brigitte Lin (they're both quite good), but their story seemed pointless and one big meandering ramble.


While the second couple is certainly cuter I didn't get Faye Wong's motivation for messing around in Leung's apartment. The first part exudes ''cool'' from its every pore and it's why I liked it better. As for internet opinion...I'm often at odds with it, no surprise there.


I don't really look at them as seperate stories: the first informs the second, the second informs the first. As such, I think both would sufffer without the other half.

That said, Faye Wong is adorable as can be.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:22 pm

the5thghostbuster wrote:
Gabriel Girard wrote:
J.M. Vargas wrote:
Gabriel Girard wrote:Chungking Express - I preferred the first story. YMMV,
And I (along with the vast majority if internet opinion matters) prefer the second story. I have not been able to get Faye Wong's Chinese version of "Dreams" off of my head since I saw this movie (more so than even the "California Dreaming" song). Tony Leung and Faye make such a cute couple in their own weird, distinctive way. Nothing against Takeshi Kaneshiro or Brigitte Lin (they're both quite good), but their story seemed pointless and one big meandering ramble.


While the second couple is certainly cuter I didn't get Faye Wong's motivation for messing around in Leung's apartment. The first part exudes ''cool'' from its every pore and it's why I liked it better. As for internet opinion...I'm often at odds with it, no surprise there.


I don't really look at them as seperate stories: the first informs the second, the second informs the first. As such, I think both would sufffer without the other half.

That said, Faye Wong is adorable as can be.


After letting it sink in I have to agree with you. I found Faye Wong adorable during the viewing though :-)

Just watched Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger - Another very enigmatic and entrancing film from a genius. It seems to be about the fact that you can't run away from yourself, and if you try to, you get into more trouble. I wish I could say more but I'm still reeling from the masterful last shot, slowly zooming in from Nicholson laying in bed. A unique cinematic experience.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby the5thghostbuster » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:00 pm

Gabriel Girard wrote:After letting it sink in I have to agree with you. I found Faye Wong adorable during the viewing though :-)

Just watched Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger - Another very enigmatic and entrancing film from a genius. It seems to be about the fact that you can't run away from yourself, and if you try to, you get into more trouble. I wish I could say more but I'm still reeling from the masterful last shot, slowly zooming in from Nicholson laying in bed. A unique cinematic experience.


I still can't believe that I have to admit that I have only ever seen Antonioni's Blow Up. Agh! Need to see more of his work!

Over the weekend I caught a few films. First up was Night Key from 1937. An interesting little thriller, but far from the best work from Karloff and Universal pictures. On the other hand, I have (almost) nothing but praise for The Strange Door from 1951. Damn, this is one trippy, dark little film, filled with mostly distrubing, unlikeable, and facinating characters, with Charles Laughton stealing the show with his twisted nobleman. The only mark against it is that it falls into the trap of feeling it needs to make its lead character likeable after being an enjoyable bastard for half the film.

Last night, I ended up watching The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra for about the 30th time, with a few relatives who had never caught it before. Of them, only one really dug it as much as myself.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby HGervais » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:21 pm

Both Blow-Up and DePalma's remake Blow-Out should be coming out sometime soon from Criterion.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:32 pm

the5thghostbuster wrote:Last night, I ended up watching The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra for about the 30th time, with a few relatives who had never caught it before. Of them, only one really dug it as much as myself.


I keep thinking i SHOULD like this guys movies..but seriously i think they are MADE to see with other people...i just didn't think it was as funny as i would if i were sitting with some friends, some pizza and a lot of beer.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:21 pm

HGervais wrote:Both Blow-Up and DePalma's remake Blow-Out should be coming out sometime soon from Criterion.


Nice!! It would be better if we could also get Coppola's The Conversation as well.

the5thghostbuster wrote:I still can't believe that I have to admit that I have only ever seen Antonioni's Blow Up. Agh! Need to see more of his work


I've only seen Blow-Up and The Passenger. Now I'm hooked! While I'm requesting Criterions I'll add La Notte who's R1 DVD is supposed to be really sub-par.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby HGervais » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:26 pm

Gabriel Girard wrote:
HGervais wrote:Both Blow-Up and DePalma's remake Blow-Out should be coming out sometime soon from Criterion.


Nice!! It would be better if we could also get Coppola's The Conversation as well.

the5thghostbuster wrote:I still can't believe that I have to admit that I have only ever seen Antonioni's Blow Up. Agh! Need to see more of his work


I've only seen Blow-Up and The Passenger. Now I'm hooked! While I'm requesting Criterions I'll add La Notte who's R1 DVD is supposed to be really sub-par.

Coppola is working with Lion's Gate on a Conversation blu-ray.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Future Man » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:44 pm

HGervais wrote:Coppola is working with Lion's Gate on a Conversation blu-ray.


Wow I just happened to rewatch it last night. What a great movie. Works as a thriller and as something much more.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby HGervais » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:29 pm

Machete....just a blast of a gory, bare boobied and political mash up of a movie. I am so ready for Machete Kills.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Dunnyman » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:35 am

molly1216 wrote:
the5thghostbuster wrote:Last night, I ended up watching The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra for about the 30th time, with a few relatives who had never caught it before. Of them, only one really dug it as much as myself.


I keep thinking i SHOULD like this guys movies..but seriously i think they are MADE to see with other people...i just didn't think it was as funny as i would if i were sitting with some friends, some pizza and a lot of beer.

Larry Blamire's films do require liberal amounts of beer and pizza, as well as several smartass friends. Highly enjoyable in that fashion, however, said friends DO need to understand bad 50's sci-fi and 30's old dark house movies...
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Steve T Power » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:10 pm

RED - outside of a lousy final bit, this was pretty damn fun.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby mavrach » Mon Jan 10, 2011 6:11 pm

Saw Ridley Scott's Robin Hood yesterday. I have mixed opinions on this one. The character development just sucked. I didn't feel like I knew Robin Hood at all, and Will Scarlett & Little John were barely there. If the movie weren't called Robin Hood, it probably would have had different expectations and come off more as a political scheming movie. But still a lesser Ridley Scott movie is better than most movies, the action was excellent, and I loved some of the epic panning shots towards the end of the movie. With some tweaking this could have been a lot better.
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Future Man » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:37 pm

A Man Escaped
I'm sure the film techniques on display in this based-on-fact story have significance beyond my capacity to appreciate much less recognize, but I was drawn to it by the notion of watching a crackerjack prison break movie set in WWII-era France. Boy does this fail to deliver on that score! Somehow, the film is almost totally devoid of suspense other than a few scenes at the beginning and end. Still, the picture quality on the disc is much better than reported.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Gabriel Girard » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:25 pm

The Underneath (1995) - Thispne is more interesting for being Soderbergh's first foray into crime film and for the atmosphere he creates than for its story, which is very standard noir stuff. I enjoyed it but I like Soderbergh...

Toy Story 3 - Awesome,of course.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby azul017 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:37 pm

Stargate Atlantis s1 - Bought it for around $10. Watched the first disc so far, and am really enjoying the series. It's nothing overly original or daring, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Andrew Forbes » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:30 am

HGervais wrote:Machete....just a blast of a gory, bare boobied and political mash up of a movie. I am so ready for Machete Kills.

I could hardly disagree more. Though occasionally engaging, this was mostly one of the most listless, static exercises in B-movie action filmmaking I've seen in a long time. The Robert Rodriguez of Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn is officially dead. Instead of fluid, kinetic action sequences, we get lots of close-cropped, rapid-cut shots of indistinct carnage. Those practical effects that are used are liberally enhanced with digital blood, but most of the gore, bullet hits, muzzle-flashes and blades are straight-up CGI. The dialogue is 3/4 exposition, often repeating plot points for those too dense to catch on. I can't exactly fault Rodriguez for that, though, since he over-plots the movie to the breaking point, mistaking incident for an engaging narrative. Meanwhile, the movie is so leaden with sledgehammer sermonizing that I came out feeling as though I'd just spent two hours being lectured. The absurd cartoon caricatures of Southern conservatives would be bearable if the movie wasn't so relentlessly humorless in its political grandstanding. Sample dialogue of a reformed henchman: "You know, we let these people into our homes and our lives, but not into our country!" Right on, brother. Let's get a singalong bonfire going.

Meanwhile, Danny Trejo, as impressive a physical specimen as ever, demonstrates why he should never again be allowed to have a lead role. Moving from scene to scene with the grace of a very short Frankenstein's monster, he grunts his few lines of dialogue with the same blank-eyed stare, rarely getting worked up enough even to register anger. This is a perfect example of the difference between presence and charisma. Trejo has the former, making him ideal for casting in bronze, but he lacks the electricity needed to make a credible hero. When Steven Seagal steals scenes from you, you're in serious trouble.

In a movie overflowing with blood, gore and dismemberment, we're not even allowed the modest consolation of over-the-top deaths for our big baddies (and there are four to choose from). The big stuff is wasted on the faceless horde.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Steve T Power » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:54 am

Andrew Forbes wrote:
HGervais wrote:Machete....just a blast of a gory, bare boobied and political mash up of a movie. I am so ready for Machete Kills.

I could hardly disagree more. Though occasionally engaging, this was mostly one of the most listless, static exercises in B-movie action filmmaking I've seen in a long time. The Robert Rodriguez of Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn is officially dead. Instead of fluid, kinetic action sequences, we get lots of close-cropped, rapid-cut shots of indistinct carnage. Those practical effects that are used are liberally enhanced with digital blood, but most of the gore, bullet hits, muzzle-flashes and blades are straight-up CGI. The dialogue is 3/4 exposition, often repeating plot points for those too dense to catch on. I can't exactly fault Rodriguez for that, though, since he over-plots the movie to the breaking point, mistaking incident for an engaging narrative. Meanwhile, the movie is so leaden with sledgehammer sermonizing that I came out feeling as though I'd just spent two hours being lectured. The absurd cartoon caricatures of Southern conservatives would be bearable if the movie wasn't so relentlessly humorless in its political grandstanding. Sample dialogue of a reformed henchman: "You know, we let these people into our homes and our lives, but not into our country!" Right on, brother. Let's get a singalong bonfire going.

Meanwhile, Danny Trejo, as impressive a physical specimen as ever, demonstrates why he should never again be allowed to have a lead role. Moving from scene to scene with the grace of a very short Frankenstein's monster, he grunts his few lines of dialogue with the same blank-eyed stare, rarely getting worked up enough even to register anger. This is a perfect example of the difference between presence and charisma. Trejo has the former, making him ideal for casting in bronze, but he lacks the electricity needed to make a credible hero. When Steven Seagal steals scenes from you, you're in serious trouble.

In a movie overflowing with blood, gore and dismemberment, we're not even allowed the modest consolation of over-the-top deaths for our big baddies (and there are four to choose from). The big stuff is wasted on the faceless horde.


So we're in agreement? Machete sucked.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby molly1216 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:02 am

azul017 wrote:Stargate Atlantis s1 - Bought it for around $10. Watched the first disc so far, and am really enjoying the series. It's nothing overly original or daring, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.

Season one is pretty poor compared to later seasons..so you have lots to look forward to.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby Andrew Forbes » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:07 am

Steve T Power wrote:So we're in agreement? Machete sucked.

I'm so mad at myself for not buying The Town instead.
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Re: January WATCHING Thread of Catching-Up!

Postby HGervais » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:56 am

Steve T Power wrote:So we're in agreement? Machete sucked.

Not from me. I thought it was a blast. It was an exploitation movie through & through. Trash of the highest order.
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